This? This is just for fun. It's a stock brownie picture that I leave on my hard drive because with all this blogging (hahahaha, I hardly ever blog) I need to throw out some culinary bling now and then.
I know, it seems like every time I post, I reveal another cover, but I'm writing my brains out here. Now that I've figured that time writing= actual books, I'm committed to writing on a firm schedule. Well, I mean committed in a "if there's nothing good on TV and everyone's asleep and I've read every stupid article on Yahoo news" sort of way.
So, without further ado (which always makes me think of Much Ado About Nothing, which has been made into a film by Joss Whedon!!!!) here's the new cover:
Oh, pretty! Now, we went around and around a few (hundred) times and this is what we got. I'm happy. I think the designer working for Kim Killion is currently on a 5150 hold but that has NOTHING TO DO WITH ME. (Kidding. She seemed very sane during our last e-mail exchange. Very relieved to be done with me, but sane.)
Honestly, when I first saw this cover I thought, "she looks SO WHITE". I mean, ghostly white. Pale like the dead. And then I smiled. Because the heroine has been kept in an ivory tower for most of her young life, being pampered and spoiled and coddled. Then one day she discovers the ugly underbelly of her city, and everything changes. She changes. Her ideas of beauty and truth and wealth and honor, they all change. So, the more I look at this cover, the more it makes me smile. First impressions can be so wrong. At first glance, she's a rich white woman without a care but at heart, she's fighting a losing battle for Chinese laborers on the railroad, who were treated worse than cattle or dogs. It's not a pretty world she's thrown herself into, and it won't be pretty when she reveals her biggest secret.
The title? "It makes no sense" you say? Well, it comes from an old poem, just like the title of the first in the series (All The Blue of Heaven). 'A Royal Princess' by Christina Rosetti is about a (yes) princess who is lonely and afraid. You can read the entire thing here.
It starts like this:
"I, a princess, king-descended, decked with jewels, gilded, drest,
Would rather be a peasant with her baby at her breast,
For all I shine so like the sun, and am purple like the west.
Two and two my guards behind, two and two before,
Two and two on either hand, they guard me evermore;
Me, poor dove, that must not coo—eagle that must not soar."
Here's the thing about eagles: they do soar. But they are also fierce, powerful, intelligent. You don't want to cross a mother eagle protecting her nest, or any eagle in a controlled dive for prey. Christina Rossetti has given us a glimpse into the heart of our princess. She's a beauty, but she's smart and observant.
More from the poem:
"Alone by day, alone by night, alone days without end;
My father and my mother give me treasures, search and spend—
O my father! O my mother! have you ne'er a friend?"
"My father counting up his strength sets down with equal pen
So many head of cattle, head of horses, head of men;
These for slaughter, these for breeding, with the how and when.
Some to work on roads, canals; some to man his ships;
Some to smart in mines beneath sharp overseers' whips;
Some to trap fur-beasts in lands where utmost winter nips.
Once it came into my heart, and whelmed me like a flood,
That these too are men and women, human flesh and blood;
Men with hearts and men with souls, though trodden down like mud."
Now she knows. Our pampered princess knows what's happening and who's causing it. What does she do? What CAN she do?
Remember, she's not just fierce and fast, but she's intelligent and observant. She comes up with a plan. At least, in MY story she does.
Christina Rossetti's princess doesn't really have a plan. The people are rioting:
'Sit and roast there with your meat, sit and bake there with your bread,
You who sat to see us starve,' one shrieking woman said:
'Sit on your throne and roast with your crown upon your head.'
Yikes. They're torching the castle. So what does she do? She walks out of the castle, holding all her jewels, hoping...
"With a ransom in my lap, a king's ransom in my hand,
I will go down to this people, will stand face to face, will stand
Where they curse king, queen, and princess of this cursed land.
They shall take all to buy them bread, take all I have to give;
I, if I perish, perish; they to-day shall eat and live;
I, if I perish, perish; that's the goal I half conceive:
Once to speak before the world, rend bare my heart and show
The lesson I have learned which is death, is life, to know.
I, if I perish, perish; in the name of God I go."
Smart? Maybe not.
And I do love a smart heroine. I would love it if our Rossetti princess could have come up with a better plan in the weeks between her realization and gathering up her jewels and sacrificing herself. A 'goal I half conceive' is pretty much a half-baked plan. It could use some work. Some scheming. Some thought.
Part of the poem's power is that we're pretty sure she's just ended her life while trying to right some wrongs. But this book is a romance and I'd rather not write a death scene for my fierce, intelligent heroine. Someday I may write an ending like that, but not this time, not this book.
Now, Christina Rossetti's poem ended in the princess walking to her death, without ever finding someone to call her own, without ever finding a kindred spirit. But our heroine, Margaret, finds someone just like herself. She doesn't see it right away, because she's got her eye on the prize, where it should be. But that's the thing about walking the hard road, fighting for justice, doing the will of God: you end up right next to people just like yourself.
A heroine doesn't just happen. She's made. By her decisions, hopes, fears, prayers, and dreams. And a hero doesn't fall from the sky. He's right next to her, working for the same goal.
So, thanks for wandering through the inspiration for the title. (That was just the TITLE, ha!) This book should be tidied and ready to go... oh, sometime soon. I'd like to say in the next few weeks but editing is a bear and we know editing can make or break a good book. So, I'll drop a line when it's out. In the meantime, you can always come visit over on my Virginia Carmichael facebook page.