Blog Tour and Book Review: Lady Odelia’s Secret

Lady Odelia’s Secret by Jane Steen

Publication Date: March 7, 2022 Aspidistra Press Genre: Historical Mystery Series: Scott-De Quincy Mysteries, #2     Do you ever really know your family? In the 1880s a sixth daughter learns not to ask for much, even if she’s the daughter of an earl. Even if she married the richest man in her corner of Sussex. Even if she’s now a widow with a splendid Georgian mansion. Lady Helena Whitcombe is still trying to adjust to widowhood and reconcile her family loyalties with her desires when her artist sister Odelia makes a startling suggestion. Why not make her mark on the house that’s now all hers, by commissioning a magnificent work of art from one of London’s most celebrated painters? Lady Odelia invites Helena into the seductive world of medieval fantasies and fairy tales she has inhabited since Helena was a child. But when a shocking series of events exposes the destructive reality of a great artist’s unusual lifestyle, Helena and her lady’s maid Guttridge are called on to help—or is it to interfere? Looming danger, the risk of scandal, and competing loyalties force Helena to re-evaluate her relationship with the sister she’s always loved the most. What is Lady Odelia’s secret? Find out in this gripping continuation of the Scott-De Quincy Mysteries, a story that blends mystery and historical detail with Downton Abbey-style saga as the truths about Helena’s aristocratic family unfold. Read it now before the secret gets out!

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About the Author

Jane Steen writes series set in the late Victorian period, with an unputdownable blend of mystery, family saga, romance, and the real-life issues facing women of the era. She is an indie author who began her career while living in Illinois, later moving with her American husband to her native England. When not working, she can be found walking through the green and muddy Sussex countryside, getting her cobwebs blown away on the nearby beaches, lovingly tending her garden, or sticking her nose into yet another book. For more information, please visit Jane Steen’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, April 4 Review at Coffee and Ink Interview at Novels Alive Review at Gwendalyn’s Books Tuesday, April 5 Review at Bonnie Reads and Writes Wednesday, April 6 Interview at Passages to the Past Thursday, April 7 Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective Friday, April 8 Review at Novels Alive Review at View from the Birdhouse

Giveaway

9 winners will receive an eBook of Lady Odelia’s Secret and the main prize winner will receive a $10 Amazon Gift card & eBook of Lady Odelia’s Secret. The giveaway is open to the US only and ends on April 8th. You must be 18 or older to enter. Lady Odelia’s Secret https://widget.gleamjs.io/e.js

BOOK REVIEW

Lady Helena Whitcomb is the sixth daughter of an earl, but the widow of a very rich man. She is struggling to start her life over after the death of her husband. She decides to commission an artist, Sir Geraint Dorrian-Knowles, to create works of art for a room in her home. Dorrian-Knowles is enthusiastically recommended by Helena’s sister Odelia. The artist begins his work, and shock, intrigue, deception, and murder follow. Along the way, Odelia’s secret comes to light. This is the second book in the Scott-De Quincy Mystery Series.

Although this is a Victorian mystery, it is even more about the dynamics of a large, entitled family in 1880s Britain. The relationship between Helena and her older sister Odelia is interesting and sometimes fun, as Odelia tends to shock the much more conservative Helena. Helena and her ladies maid Guttridge work well together as amateur sleuths. The art world of that time, and all its excesses, is explored. The mystery is compelling and there are plenty of shocks to be had. There’s a bit of romance and hints of debauchery. Fans of mysteries and the Victorian era may enjoy this book.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via HFVBT Book Tours. My review is voluntary. My opinions are my own.

Self-Published Spotlight: “How The Cow Went Over The Moon and Tiny Notes To The Sun” by Sue Clancy

Self-published Spotlight, my new feature, is booming! This is my effort to help self-published/indie authors share their books with others. Next in the spotlight, Sue Clancy! Check out cover art, descriptions, and more for her children’s books “How the Cow Went Over the Moon and “Tiny Notes to the Sun.”

ABOUT THE BOOK

A cow goes around the moon in a self-produced bubble of gas and somehow comes back to Earth in this wordless fable.

Also, a farsighted bird forgets the morning sun song and in this wordless poem finds a way to read sheet music and welcome the day.

It could be said that this book fits into the educational literary genre of “mirrors for princes” with its sage advice to not take bubbles of gas very seriously along with its suggestion to learn to sing, or at least read sheet music and pretend to sing outdoors now and then.

There aren’t many words in this book. It’s mostly artwork. So, who knows if this is advice literature after all. It’s probably just meant to be funny.

HOW TO PURCHASE

You can purchase the books from Sue’s website by clicking the photo above or at this link here.

You can also read the ebook versions separately on Storyberries for How The Cow Went Over the Moon and Tiny Notes to the Sun. The ebooks on Storyberries are free, but there is an option to support the author if you wish to do so.

Be sure and peruse Sue’s website while you are there. She has a lot of other books and wonderful artwork!

My New Logo Revealed and a Q&A with the Artist.

Logo by Angela Fernot

I’m so excited! I wanted a better logo for all my social media accounts, one that really reflects me and my personality, and here it is! I contacted artist Angela Fernot after I saw a book cover she had done for Wes Verde’s historical novel Jalopy. The amazing cover of Jalopy is below, along with some other images of unbelievably cool art by Angela Fernot. I couldn’t be more pleased with this logo.

I also wanted to get an artist’s perspective, so below I have a Q&A with Angela. This is my first interview with a professional artist.

I was given images of the full logo, the logo without the text, and the text without the logo.

Text Only

Logo Without Text

Full Logo

I couldn’t be more pleased to have a logo that is eye-catching, versatile, meets all my social media needs, and reflects ME and my personality. Check out the interesting interview with Angela below!

Q&A WITH ANGELA

Art by Angela Fernot

In addition to the questions, I inserted a few comments along the way in bold

Tell us a little bit about your journey as an artist.  Has art always been your career?

I’ve always been involved with art one way or another. When I started working, I was 11 years old, and I babysat for family friends. After that, I was working in restaurants, but I would draw whenever I had a free moment. To be honest, I never knew for sure that it was art or nothing else. I considered joining the military at one point, because I had a very strong desire to help others and I love to travel. I was even encouraged to become a police officer, a nurse, and a teacher by different family members.

However, I could never fully walk away from art. I went to college and a trade school studying art, and when I graduated I actually worked for a small online art gallery for six years while teaching art classes part time on the side. At the gallery I learned so much about the art world and how much more there was to being in the industry…I got to do graphic design, marketing, sales, and project management. I visited a printing press, participated in curating gallery exhibits, and I even got some freelance work from myself.

After being with the company for six years, my fiance and I were given an opportunity to move to a new state, and I was able to become a freelance artist full time as of 2019! I have definitely questioned whether I was meant to be an artist, but I have never walked away from it. I can’t imagine my life any other way. 

I first saw your art on the cover of Wes Verde’s book Jalopy, but the gallery on your website is wonderfully varied.  You’ve done everything from comics to portraits.   Have you done other book covers?

Cover by Angela Fernot

Thank you so much for looking! Technically, I’ve done comic book covers! I’d love to do more book illustrations, but it hasn’t happened quite yet. My artistic variety has acted as both a blessing and a curse. I am able to create in many different styles, but I have been told that my diversity keeps me from truly standing out. (Note from Bonnie: Your talent stands out, believe me!)

We have many self-published authors on this site, and one of the things they are responsible for is cover design.  What is your opinion of the importance of the book cover?  As an artist, when you are choosing a book to read, do you judge it by its cover? 

Oh, I am so VERY guilty of choosing a book based on the cover! I particularly enjoy romance novels, and when I see the typical shirtless man with a helpless looking woman on the cover, I can’t help but roll my eyes. (Note from Bonnie: Me, too!). I am guilty of reading some of those books, but I have actually found my favorite novels tend to move away from that style of cover. 

My favorite book covers incorporate strong design elements, and if they have a full image or scene (like the cover I created for Wes Verde). I prefer to see painted or drawn art over photographs, unless the photos are heavily edited to make them more artistic and less like a movie poster. 

Overall, I am most easily drawn to graphically strong covers that have colorful imagery, strong graphics, or really wonderful fonts.

Can you give our self-published or new authors advice on choosing a designer/artist for their book cover?  I think a lot of design comes down to the preference of the authors and their style. When Wes wanted me to paint a watercolor illustration for a book cover, I was surprised. I worried that it might seem dated. In actuality, it worked rather well with his story, because it complemented the time period and evoked the feeling he wanted readers to have while immersed in his world.

What is most important is to look at OTHER book covers you like, and identify WHY you like them before you choose an artist. Put together a folder or Pinterest board, take notes, and look at what you like and what you don’t like.

Review the work of the artist you want to choose. Do they offer graphic design? Illustration? Both? It is not actually common to have one artist who does it all and does it well. You may want to hire one artist for your art, and another for the graphic design (like your title, placement of text on the cover, and how the art and lettering works together).

When you approach your designer, be open to suggestions, but make sure they are able to deliver the vision you are looking for. A good designer will be able to interpret your ideas with you, and tell you if something you want just doesn’t work. 

Don’t be afraid to save up a little and spend money for someone who can truly give you what you want. You and your book are worth it!

Also, approach more than one designer and be prepared to wait a while. Some artists have a waitlist, so it is good to have a clear timeline in mind. Don’t pay in full up front. Make a deposit when you know the terms are clear, and don’t be afraid to have a contract for the work. 

Finally, please be kind to your artist! Sometimes, clients misunderstand how complex a job can be, and it always goes more smoothly when we can have patience and clear communication. Oh, and communication is key. Both the artist and author should definitely have a good, open line of communication. It just makes things run more efficiently. (Note from Bonnie: Angela was GREAT to work with and so patient!)

When you are working on a book cover, what information do you need from the author in order to create the best design for their book?

I love this question!! For me, that Pinterest board or ‘vision board’ is very important. I want to know what the author likes, and I need to understand how much they know about design so that I may gently coach my client in the right direction if I feel they may not understand exactly what they want.

I also need to know the basic plot of the book. I know it seems silly (Note from Bonnie: It’s not silly at all), but it helps me get a feel for the style of the art/design. Should it be dramatic? Dark? Creepy? Cozy? Elegant? Modern? It’s like dressing for an occasion. You want to dress your book up to be the best looking cover for the right kind of crowd. (Note from Bonnie: I LOVE THIS)

The dimensions of a book cover are also important, so wherever an author wants to publish or print, please check the guidelines. They’ll be listed somewhere.

Finally, I just need to know if the author can talk to me! I love to have phone or video meetings to get to know who I’m working with, but if that isn’t an option or preferred method, I like to be able to get clear feedback from my clients as we work through each stage of the job.

What has been your most rewarding job or project in your career?

Art by Angela Fernot

Oh, this one is tough, because every project has rewards! I’d say right now I am actually most proud of the Tales of Cape Fear anthology comics I have been a part of. The books are a collaboration with Memory Lane Comics, our local comic shop in Wilmington, NC. I am the project manager, lead designer, editor, and art coach for the first two books, and we’ve worked with over 15 different artists so far!

My fiance and I are working on book three, and he helped with layouts on the last book. The sense of community in this project has been strong. It continues to grow and inspire me every step of the way! We even helped put together a launch event, and Memory Lane Comics hosted a beautiful indoor mini convention for the artists who worked on the second book. 

This project fulfills so many of my needs! I get to create a story in each book, I always do one of the covers (but we also make a variant), and I create the graphic elements, design, and marketing materials for everything we’ve done. We also pair writers and artists, so I have had the pleasure of seeing a writer’s vision come to life in ways that surprise and thrill them! It is such an incredible experience! 

Thanks so much, Angela, for answering my questions! You certainly made my vision for my online presence come to life in a way that was better than even expected!

MORE ART BY ANGELA FERNOT

ART OF ANGELA WEBSITE

The link has been updated to reflect Angela’s new website.

Had to post this one more time! I love it!