Behind the Scenes | Photo Shoot for Phantom’s Mask

Author Sara A. Noe with her novel Chronicles of Avilesor: War of the Realms book 1, A Fallen Hero in front of a rustic wooden background


Publication day for Book II: Phantom’s Mask is on the horizon (and coming up fast)! While my line editor Nikki of NAM Editorial continues to fine-tune the manuscript on the final round of editing, I’m still busy behind the scenes working on the interior layouts of the paperback and hardcover as well as putting the finishing touches on the cover art.

Author Sara A. Noe in front of the Washington Park Michigan City, IN lighthouse

The author headshot for A Fallen Hero was taken by photographer Robert Salek in front of the Washington Park lighthouse in Michigan City, IN. He was a classmate and friend at La Porte High School before he moved to Colorado to pursue his photography career, making him unavailable to do a reshoot for Book II.

Cue Cindy!

We met a decade ago when I was hired as a cake icer in a bakery where she was working as a decorator. A little about her:

My name is Cindy Sullivan. I am a 31-year-old dog mom and a professional cake decorator. Photography is one of my biggest passions in life. My dogs, Dodger and Oliver, are my favorite models along with anything in the great outdoors!”

Sara A. Noe riding her horse Scotch in a field of wildflowers

This wasn’t our first photo shoot together. In 2012, Cindy captured a series of gorgeous photographs of me riding my horse Scotch in a field of wildflowers in Rolling Prairie, IN.

Scotch crossed the rainbow bridge last year; I still treasure these moments Cindy preserved. So, when I was in need of a photographer, Cindy was at the top of my list for a reunion.

I love shooting outdoors rather than in a studio. I get to show a bit more of myself when the local flavor is captured in the background, which is why I have the photographs taken in my home community. The Washington Park lighthouse in my first author headshot is an easily recognizable Michigan City landmark beloved by the community.

Northwest Indiana is more than just corn and soybeans like most of the state (although we have those, too). Lake Michigan, sand dunes, wetlands, and woods diversify this region beyond the stereotypical flat-land farming you probably imagine when you think of Indiana. For Book II’s shoot, we chose snowy Bendix Woods for a different vibe that still reflects home.

It was a frigid day! The sky was cloudy, but luckily the snow didn’t start until the end of the session. We had frozen fingers and toes by the time we bundled back into the car! Check out the video to see behind the scenes of the photo shoot:

What a change of pace to be on the other side of the camera! Although I still prefer to be behind the camera rather than in front of it, I felt comfortable adopting the role of a model for a few hours. Perhaps I’m adjusting to having my photo taken after the Barnes & Noble book signing tour last summer, but I can also attribute the success of the shoot to Cindy’s bright, easy-going personality and constant self-confidence boosters. There was no shortage of laughter, and I didn’t need to force a smile!

The author headshot is one of the final pieces I had to fit into the puzzle before publication day. I’m feeling a great sense of relief that it’s done with time to spare before printing the first proof copy! But maybe next time, I’ll have a little more foresight and plan the photo shoot on a warm day….

A huge thank-you to my awesome photographer Cindy!

[quads id=1]

Video music credits:

Letting Go by Wayne John Bradley |
Music promoted by
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License

 | Website

I'm an award-winning fantasy author, artist, and photographer from La Porte, Indiana. My poetry, short fiction, and memoir works have been featured in various anthologies and journals since 2005, and several of my poems are available in the Indiana Poetry Archives. The first three novels in my Chronicles of Avilésor: War of the Realms series have received awards from Literary Titan.

After some time working as a freelance writer, I was shocked by how many website articles are actually written by paid "ghost writers" but published under the byline of a different author. It was a jolt seeing my articles presented as if they were written by a high-profile CEO or an industry expert with decades of experience. I'll be honest; it felt slimy and dishonest. I had none of the credentials readers assumed the author of the article actually had. Ghost writing is a perfectly legal, astonishingly common practice, and now, AI has entered the playing field to further muddy the waters. It's hard to trust who (or what) actually wrote the content you'll read online these days.

That's not the case here at On The Cobblestone Road. I do not and never will pay a ghost writer, then slap my name on their work as if I'd written it. This website is 100% authentic. No outsourcing. No ghost writing. No AI-generated content. It's just me... as it should be.

If you would like to support my work, check out the Support The Creator page for more information. Thank you for finding my website! 🖤