As an adult, I still remember my displeasure at seeing the character sketches in the American Girl books. That wasn't how I pictured them! Even now, when books are transformed into movies and characters are cast with actors, the right image can make or break a film!
Still, there's a draw to put a face to a name. Maybe this is best done before reading when we haven't formed an image in our mind that's impossible to replicate! Yet, for a little launch-week fun, I fed the character descriptions from A Roosevelt Smile to Fotor's AI image generator and was thoroughly amused with the results!
AI Character Images
The results were pretty solid! In case the captions aren't working, we have Benjamin, Millie, Lyda, and Charles! You'll have to jump to the bottom to see out AI Frances!
Photographs certainly take us to a place where AI cannot! So while we're talking characters, I wanted to bring some historic visuals. Below, we have Mademoiselle Thiele, one of the Roosevelt's nannies and a bit of the inspiration behind Millie (though Millie was also one of their servants), Springwood, Mrs. James, and of course, Franklin!
AI Generated Frances
Having AI generate an image of your main character, who is also your great-grandmother that you've never seen, was a daunting task. I can't tell you how many images I rejected in my quest (which is also why there's only an image of her backside on the cover). But while working on some images for the sequel, I came across one that resonated with me ever so slightly!
What do you think? Does this image look the way you pictured Frances? Let me know in the comments!
As a final piece in celebrating A Roosevelt Smile, I was so excited to try out Mrs. Roosevelt's Cup Cake" Recipe! There's no "s" in this cup cake recipe, which makes it so much more endearing. I can't help but wonder if they really referred to cupcakes in a singular fashion or if it was a simple missing letter when Mrs. Roosevelt's cousin jotted down this recipe for her!
As I looked over the recipe, it seemed very similar to cake recipes we use frequently in terms of ingredients and proportions. What was completely foreign to me was the order in which these ingredients were mixed!
The results were surprisingly thick! I thought all my separation and beating would make a light and airy batter, but this was the opposite!
I used a 1/3c scoop to fill up a muffin pan and baked it at 350 for 20 minutes. (The recipe says to bake quickly in a very hot oven).
Well, I have to say it's perfect- especially with that Page Turner Award Finalist logo at the top ;)
But the cake is actually delicious! It is much more of a dense shortcake than our typical fluffy cupcakes. After I saw how thick the batter was, I decided to scratch the idea of adding buttercream icing, whipped up some homemade whip cream, and topped it off with strawberries!
I've had so much fun celebrating with you all- and hope you enjoy reading A Roosevelt Smile! Let me know if you end up making the recipe, and I'd love for you to tag me in the post!
No meal is complete without a special drink to accompany it! Sara Delano Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt took a strong stance against alcohol. Considering Eleanor's tragic childhood, one can easily understand why.
Sara Roosevelt (or Mrs. James to her staff) did not permit drinking in her house- except for Franklin and his company within his office. Though joked about as "a coat closet," Franklin's office was right behind the stairs of Springwood in a room that had previously been the servant's hall (mentioned in chapter 19 of A Roosevelt Smile ).
There, and only there, alcohol could be enjoyed. (You can see more on his office in this article by NPS)
For today's celebration- we're sticking to drinks likely served in their dining room. This punch recipe comes from a Delano cousin named Una! It was recorded in Sara Roosevelt's household book, which was lovingly put into print by Clara & Hardy Steeholm.
To make their punch, you'll start with a hunk of ice.
Before refrigeration, ice was carved out of the Hudson River and stored in the ice house for easy access throughout the year. Many kitchens [I presume Springwood] had small insulated compartments built in the kitchen walls to keep ice.
I thought this would be an easy recipe to replicate... until I came across "white rock." My initial thought was that meant sugar. Google tells me it actually means an illicit drug, but I think we can rule that out as an ingredient in the Roosevelt's recipe ! After checking some other historic recipes, I was able to confirm that this refers to 2 cups of granulated sugar!
Keep the modern "white rocks" out of the punch, kids!
To dive into the history of punch, click the image above! Or, for some more historic punch recipes, check out this wonderful round up of punches prior to 1969!
Do you serve punch at parties? Or has that gone out of fashion? Tell me your thoughts in the comments!
A Roosevelt Smile launch week is upon us. I'll admit, I had grandiose plans, which were quickly foiled by my five children coming down with some gunky end-of-summer cold! In lieu of a video celebration, we'll take the celebrating step by step with Roosevelt-inspired dishes.
Was the visual completely necessary, Alex? I think yes!
I could only imagine the cook doing more with that wine after making this dish!
While this isn't a dish I'll be whipping up anytime soon- I'm lucky if I can get my picky kids to eat a hamburger, let alone a head- I was surprised to see that calves head yields more recipes across the web!
Here's a historic recipe from England!
Here's Calf's head from France!
And, another from the great state of Texas!
What do you think? Have you ever tasted a calf's head? Would you try it? Tell me about it in the comment section!
So, I tried using BooksSprouts last month to organize my ARC campaign for A Roosevelt Smile- and it was a bust. I found some great reviewers who loved the book, but none of the reviews transferred to Amazon. Something about if a tree falls in the forest and no one sees it?
I wanted to try distributing ARCs with BookFunnel and BookSirens.
If you're ready for a copy in exchange for an Amazon review, simply fill out the form below!
It felt like this day would never come! Alas, A Roosevelt Smile is officially up for pre-order!
I decided to "publish wide" this time- though you'll have to bear with me while I learn to market wide!
AI is a pretty crazy thing. I keep hearing about how writers use it for everything from editing to writing entire books. This concerns me; what are the limits? College students using it for term papers? Blogs built solely on AI content? It seems to be where the future is leading.
With the old adage that the enemy of your enemy is your friend, I decided to see what AI software could offer me as I finish my novel, starting with marketing copy. This notoriously is more difficult for me to create, and my back-of-the-book cover summary has been notably bland. So, I fed Copy.ai the brief words I had written and asked it to produce marketing copy. I selected the adventurous tone, but you can even type in celebrities, and it will imitate their styles! The results were impressive, especially considering the little information I had to provide!
Here's just one example of the generated texts:
In 1929, Frances is a young immigrant ready to start a new life. After arriving in the U.S., she takes up work as a maid in the home of Sara Delano Roosevelt, one of the richest and most powerful women in America. But Frances quickly learns that the job is a lot more than dusting and washing dishes. Will Frances lose herself?
Here's another one it generated! While the details are not accurate to my book, I was impressed that it picked up the names of the Roosevelt children and twisted them into it!
New York, 1936. Life is hard when you don't have much money to spend. Frances is searching for a better life as she finds herself in the house of Sara Delano Roosevelt. Sara Roosevelt is a powerful woman with many secrets. Frances soon discovers that life in the house is complicated: navigating friendship with Sara's daughter and favorite, Anna; her son Elliot's affair with one of the maids; Sara's friend Uncle Joe's constant flirting with every lady he sees; and the fact that Sara bears a striking resemblance to Frances' mother, who passed away years ago.
Now, that sounds like a book I'd enjoy reading! Maybe I'll have to write that one in the future!
While neither of these will make it to the back of my book, they did provide inspiration, tone, and a sprinkle of je ne sais quoi that made each appealing! I was genuinely impressed with the material Copy.ai produced! It seems there's no limit to how these AI systems can be used, from marketing copy to Instagram posts and everything in between! Though the notion of AI writing material felt intimidating, it was a handy tool to spark some inspiration- and on a free basic plan, no less!
After about 5 minutes of playing around, I borrowed ideas from different AI-generated prompts and tailored them to my story to produce some marketing copy that I hope converts well.
Here we go:
In 1915, Frances and her family are quickly uprooted after the first gunshots of World War I. Frances doesn't know what will await her when she leaves Bohemia to immigrate to New York. She does know that a new domestic service job in Sara Delano Roosevelt's home will change her future — if she doesn't lose herself first.
What do you think? Does that sound like a book you'd pick up? And what are your thoughts on AI? Is it about to take the writing industry by storm- or has it already and I'm just beginning to notice? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section!
We are barreling through January (in case you needed a friendly reminder!), and I've been busy finishing up my manuscript and preparing for all things book launch! But I'm stuck! A cover needs to be designed and marketing material produced- all of which require a very important title!
I've used A Roosevelt Smile thus far, but I haven't convinced myself that this is in fact the title. Will you help lend me your opinion?
First, let me tell you some options and the background behind them- then cast your vote at the end and point me in the right direction!
A Roosevelt Smile
Frances, my great-grandmother protagonist, is first drawn to the confident smile in a photo she sees of Franklin Roosevelt while cleaning his mother's library. Throughout the story, this Roosevelt smile serves various purposes, and Frances hopes her own child will inherit the charming grin.
The inspiration behind this came as I read the Roosevelt children's memoirs. I flipped over the cover of James's book and saw his smile, which felt so familiar and reminded me of my grandfather.
The Roosevelt's Ruse
I like this potential title for two reasons. It portrays the Roosevelt involvement, and "ruse" provides a double entendre, highlighting Franklin's charades, while coincidentally being Czech for "rose," which bares significance in the story as well as in Frances's son's last name.
My apprehension with this title is that the book is about Frances and her time as a servant for the Roosevelts, and the title might lead readers to think the story's protagonist is a Roosevelt?
Frances in America
Based on a piece of dialogue, this statement broadly encapsulates Frances's American journey signaling an immigrant's journey. My apprehension with this title is that it doesn't include Roosevelt.
Too much Roosevelt, too little Roosevelt? What should I do!?!
Can you believe Christmas is right around the corner? The history lover in me relishes the opportunity to look back through the decades at special Christmas traditions. In writing A Roosevelt Smile, I divulged in reading memoirs and hearing about what made the holidays magical in the Roosevelt household, and I wanted to share five of my favorites with you!
1. Beautiful Gifts for All
As the matriarch of Springwood, Sara Delano Roosevelt relished in running the estate as her husband did, even if it had become financially unprofitable through the decades. Each Christmas, she prepared gifts for "her people," a term she endearingly referred to the estate workers by. She'd personally prepare their gifts, wrapping them in striped paper and adorning small candies to the top. In A Roosevelt Smile, you'll get to see my great-grandmother Frances receive one of these heartfelt packages!
2. The finest sliced Turkey
While Franklin studied at Groton, he learned the fine art of turkey carving. The goal was to slice turkey so thinly that opaque light could be seen through each piece. When his oldest son learned the same technique at Groton, carving the turkeys became a competition, though both contestants lamented requests for seconds before firsts were served.
3. Gift Closets Galore
Eleanor Roosevelt had a present room on the third floor of the White House, a windowless space with lots of shelves and a table for wrapping. She shopped for gifts from her large family year round, popping into stores after appointments to look for the perfect present.
4. Overfilled Stockings
Christmas in The White House was exceptionally exciting for the Roosevelt grandchildren. In 1936, Curtis shared the content of his Christmas stocking, from Santa, of course! The stockings were so stuffed they couldn't hang from the mantel, and the children had to wait for everyone to be present to dive in! Curtis's stocking included mittens, socks, handkerchiefs, and a toothbrush, along with 3-4 English-made lead soldiers. At the bottom of the stocking were an exotic orange and a $5 bill- a small fortune to stuff a piggy bank with!
5. A Christmas Carol
Christmas Eve wouldn't be complete without FRD's fireside rendition of A Christmas Carol. According to his children, he'd ham up the character's voices, even removing a faux front tooth to gain a bit of a whistle in Tiny Tim's voice!
And, for a quick bonus:
The Springwood and White House Christmas trees were lit with beautiful candles throughout the pine branches. After being rendered paralyzed, this triggered one of FDR's deepest fears- being stranded in a burning building so ample buckets of water and sand were present, and the candles were extinguished quickly!
Wishing you and yours a beautiful holiday!
P.S.- I can't wait to share A Roosevelt Smile with you in the coming New Year! Subscribers will get access to ARC copies and the best deal around. Make sure you're on that list!
is a writer & tired homeschooling mom of five.