Maria Branson, the protagonist of my latest novel, Robbed of Soul, sees ghosts. No, she’s not psychic. She suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after being in solitary confinement for eight months in Tehran.

Before doing research about solitary confinement and PTSD,  I worried the whole “seeing ghosts” thing was too crazy to belive. Would my readers  believe my protagonist was really that far gone? But after researching the subject, and learning  how truly awful solitary confinement is to the human psyche, I knew that my character’s internal struggles were similar to many challenges real people with PTSD face.

Take, for instance, the true story of Sarah Shourds, a 32-year-old hiker arrested by Iranian troops after straying onto the Iran border. Two months into her incarceration, she began hearing phantom footsteps and seeing flashing lights. She spent most of her day crouched on all fours, listening through a gap in the door. The experience left her with horrible PTSD.

Studies show 30 to 40% of veterans with post traumatic stress syndrome report auditory and/or visual hallucinations.  And you don’t have to be a veteran. There are stories of journalists and television reporters who have PTSD as well, many of whom also experience hallucinations. Months after it happened, one Pulitzer Prize winning journalist kept hearing the voice of an American soldier whose dead body he had photographed.

In Robbed of Soul, the CIA  has put Maria Branson “out to pasture.” She becomes the police chief of a small Southern Utah town called Kanab. (A wonderful place to visit. See your chance to win a vacation there below.) A week after Maria arrives in Kanab, the mayor is murdered and she has the task of finding the killer. Doing so, makes her face fears she had hoped to forget. But things get worse when her ghosts turn real.

Rescued but psychologically damaged from a failed mission, ex-CIA officer Maria Branson takes the job of police chief in the quiet town of Kanab, Utah. Rest and relaxation are the doctor’s orders. She gets neither. Instead, a missing mayor, the spirit of a dead Aztec warrior, and the over-confident-yet-attractive head of Search and Rescue await her in a town whose past has almost as many secrets as her own. As Maria investigates a modern-day murder, she disturbs a world of ancient legends and deadly curses. Yet most lethal of all is Maria’s fear someone will discover just how empty her soul really is.

Available at AmazonSmashwords, and Google Play.

Do you like books? Do you like Zion National Park? Join the ROBBED OF SOUL book launch giveaway and you may win 3 nights in a vacation townhome in Kanab, Utah
(thirty minutes from Zion). A $450 value! (Or a $100 Amazon gift card if preferred.) 

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Death by the Book (Drew Farthering Mystery #2)

Drew Farthering wanted nothing more than to end the summer of 1932 with the announcement of his engagement. Instead, he finds himself caught up in another mysterious case when the family solicitor is found murdered, an antique hatpin with a cryptic message, Advice to Jack, piercing his chest.

Evidence of secret meetings and a young girl’s tearful confession point to the victim’s double life, but what does the solicitor’s murder have to do with the murder of a physician on the local golf course? Nothing, it would seem–except for another puzzling note, affixed with a similar-looking bloodied hatpin.

Soon the police make an arrest in connection with the murders, but Drew isn’t at all certain they have the right suspect in custody. And why does his investigation seem to be drawing him closer and closer to home?

Bethany House

Bethany House * Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Book Depository
Other Books in the Series:
Q&A with Paul Higdon, Bethany House Art Director
Did you base the people on photos of models, and the background on a specific scenery photo, or did you create them from scratch?
To answer this question, I’ll explain the process. At the beginning I needed a brand look for the series. To create this I needed to team with a designer and illustrator. I reviewed perhaps a dozen U.S. and overseas artists before selecting John Mattos from San Francisco for Julianna’s series. Then I chose Jeff Miller, an award winning designer at Faceout Studio in Bend, Oregon for his layout and conceptual skills.
The cover models were established from a mix of character descriptions from the author’s early manuscript, model/photo references, and various time period inspirations. The info was collected to be given to John. This nationally renowned artist used his illustrative genius to envision and create the Drew Farthering and Madeline Parker characters.
John was very in-tune with the styling we wanted for the cover art, so his experience helped push details to next level. The art deco graphic style also influenced the colors and architectural elements in the background and overall composition. Jeff then applied his typographic layout to John’s art. In all I probably evaluated six or seven variations before deciding on the final design.
About how much time does it take to design a cover like this?
Each cover varies in time and is unique to its story, setting, and list of characters. Death by the Book was a follow-up title to the first book, Rules of Murder. So there was some advantage when designing Death by the Book because we were able to pick up and continue a lot of the styles established on Rules of Murder.
Rules of Murder roughly took 50 hours, give or take, for art direction and design—composition, layout , typography. That included research, team discussions, Illustrator reviews, art direction, thumbnail sketches, type development, character development, image and inspiration research, and revisions/finessing to nail down an approved, final look.
Once the series was established the following titles average around 15-20 hours, give or take, of art direction and design. The actual artwork by John occurs separately from this process and each cover takes approximately 30 hours, using his computer illustration skills.
What are the challenges of creating an illustrated cover compared to a more traditional cover?
Creating an illustrated cover can be much more challenging than a photographic and/or traditional cover because the latter is usually driven by photography that is already established, or can be more easily manipulated to suit a cover design. That’s not always the case, but pure illustrative covers require more leg work from the get-go because you’re creating imagery from a blank canvas, and that usually means more heavily involved steps. Finding an illustrator who is a good fit is also an unique challenge, and you have to be able to communicate in visual terms with them in order to get the results our marketing/sales team needs, and the quality our readers expect.
Another challenge facing us today is the reluctance by sales leaders to try new ways of doing things. Because DREW FARTHERING MYSTERIES employs a stylized illustration concept, our sales team had to be convinced this would work for our market. Bethany is known as a leader in fiction cover design and it is important we continually seek out fresh ways of representing our authors and their stories.
Which of the three covers in the series do you like best, and why?
This is tough. I honestly like all three covers for different reasons. Rules of Murder will always be a favorite, because it established the series look and feel. We were proud of the final results. Jeff, the designer, is also a huge car fan, so to be able to include a vintage car from the early part of last century was fun for him. Murder at the Mikado is also a stand out in my mind because of the layering, and slightly more abstract perspectives. It was also a fun challenge to depict the setting with a night scene. Because of the overall dramatic perspective I would have say that Murder at the Mikado is my favorite, so far…
Links to download the covers:

Julianna DeeringJulianna Deering has always been an avid reader and a lover of storytelling, whether on the page, the screen or the stage. This, along with her keen interest in history and her Christian faith, shows in her tales of love, forgiveness and triumph over adversity. A fifth-generation Texan, she makes her home north of Dallas with three spoiled cats and, when not writing, spends her free time quilting, cross stitching and watching NHL hockey. Her new series of Drew Farthering mysteries set in 1930s England debuts with Rules of Murder (Bethany House, Summer 2013) and will be followed by Death by the Book (Bethany House, Spring 2014) and Murder at the Mikado (Bethany House, Summer 2014).

Website * Blog * Goodreads * Twitter * Facebook * Amazon * Novel Crossing * Bethany House
ALL readers who are interested can receive an autographed bookmark. 
You can see a picture of the bookmark here.

Just send a self-address STAMPED (7″ long) envelope to:

Julianna Deering
P. O. Box 375
Aubrey, Texas 76227

From the author regarding the fabulous GIVEAWAY:

How could one possibly have a cozy mystery 
set in an old manor house in the English countryside near a quaint little village 
and not have tea? 
Drew doesn’t usually take lemon or milk in his. He prefers honey, 
especially if it’s fresh from the hive. 
Mrs. Devon, his housekeeper, spoils him terribly and makes sure he has it.
Print copies of The Rules of Murder and Death by the Book and a Tea Gift Basket (US ONLY)

March 10th – 28th

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Follow the Tour:
Books & Chocolates
Angels With Attitude Book Reviews
Pieces of Whimsy
JoJo’s Corner
Kelly P’s Blog
Crafty Booksheeps
The Written Adventure
Letters from Annie Douglass Lima
My Devotional Thoughts
Beck Valley Books
Mel’s Shelves
Deal Sharing Aunt
The Wonderings of One Person
Cherry Mischievous
LDS and Lovin’ it
My Love for Reading Keeps Growing
Tell Tale Book Reviews
The Pensive Chronicler
3/21 – Grand Finale

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