DSC01916 (2) (640x480)I just got back from Lake Geneva, Wisconsin (2015 edition), the setting for my suspense series based on the Lake Geneva Mailboat. I have awesome news: The series is going to feature professional photography of the actual Mailboat!

Rigging this photo shoot was no easy feat. It involved a great deal of planning between me, the Lake Geneva Cruise Line, and Matt Mason Photography. Should we hold our photo shoot during an actual tour? Or should and could we hold a mock run at a different time of day? Who would model my main characters? (I had to choose from cruise line staff!) And would they agree to appear on my book covers? Would the weather be good enough to be outdoors with expensive photography equipment? Where would I get a speed boat to follow the Mailboat around the lake? Or should I just forget it all and hire a cover illustrator?

In the end, despite the many challenges involved in creating this photo shoot, I opted for professional photography instead of illustration. There are many talented illustrators out there, but I simply felt that no artist could capture the beauty of Lake Geneva as well as Matt could. (Note: The photos you see in this post are not Matt’s. You’ll have to wait for the unveiling!)

DSC01925bOne by one, our many questions were resolved. A mock Mailboat run wasn’t workable for several reasons, so we had to shoot fast and furious during an actual tour. The regular Mailboat captain and a young lady who generally resembled my main character Bailey were willing to appear as models. The weather on the only date that would work was overcast and drizzly – but decent enough to be out with cameras.

Acquiring a speed boat was a particular problem. Between photography and a professional graphics designer, I was already maxing out what I was willing to pay for cover art. If there was no speed boat, there would be no photography. End of story.

But through a happy coincidence, I’d made the acquaintance of W.J. Goes, a homeowner on the lake – though he asked to be identified in the book acknowledgments as a “Geneva-ite.” I asked if he or someone he knew might be willing to lend us the use of a speed boat. He inquired about times and dates, then said he’d be happy to lend us a boat and escort my photographers himself.

The last piece of the puzzle was in place!

My photography and speed boat crew

My photography and speed boat crew

I was a nervous wreck that Saturday morning. Complicating matters, my phone randomly ceased to function. No calling, no texting. (This is the kind of luck that ordinarily follows me around!) I was supposed to be on the Mailboat in case Matt needed to communicate anything. With my phone dead, communication was nixed. A big cheer goes to Ellen Burling, the Lake Geneva Cruise Line office manager, who happened to be riding the boat that day. She not only kept in contact with Matt, but went above and beyond by getting the pier numbers for him ahead of time so he’d know where to set up for the next mail delivery.

Matt and his assistant Jake took just under 200 photos. I’m astounded at what they were able to accomplish while working so fast in a bobbing Boston Whaler. Out of those 200 images, I have to choose just a handful for front and back covers for the Mailboat series. How do I choose?!

Getting this photography was a ton of work, but I think it paid off. I can’t wait until I have a first cover to show you!

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And if you’re interested in becoming a beta reader for Mailboat, just leave me a note in the comments. Beta readers are eligible for free, early copies of the book in exchange for your personal comments and critiques. Your edits may make it into the final draft of the book!

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