Thursday, June 22, 2017

WhiteFire Scavenger Hunt ~ Stop #1




Welcome to the WhiteFire Publishing Scavenger Hunt! This is the first stop, so begin here and collect all the clues in order by visiting each consecutive stop. Once you have them all, you’ll have uncovered a secret message. Turn that in at the final stop for a chance to win one of THREE amazing prize packages!

  • Take your time! You have all weekend to complete the Hunt—entries will be counted until Monday June 26—so have fun reading all the posts along the way and getting to know each author.
  • Lots of extra prizes! Many of the authors are featuring unique giveaways as well, for even more chances to win!

Submit your entry for the grand prizes back here at the Submit Your Entries page!

~*~

OLD or NEW?

I've always loved Biblical fiction - I love learning about the lifestyles and cultures of the people of the Bible, I love breathing new life and understanding into stories so old as to be common knowledge. But as a Christian, I had a hurdle to get over the first time I sat down to write a story set in the Old Testament.

See, as a young writer, I just couldn't imagine having characters who didn't know Jesus. What's life without Him? I remember thinking that I could never, ever write a story where the characters didn't come to be Christians. But in an Old Testament setting, that's not even possible, right?

Yet the OT is the foundation of the NT. There were obviously godly people who loved the Lord. Which led me to a new question: what does salvation mean in the Old Testament?

I explored this theme a bit in Jewel of Persia, and I'll likely explore it more in the next bib-fic I write--which will be set in the days of Abraham and focus on a son of the mysterious Melchizedek.  It's a theme, too, which has led me to a greater appreciation of Christianity and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Because though without Jesus, without the Spirit being always within us, salvation is hard and the visitation of the Spirit unusual and somewhat abrupt (He's described as "coming upon" people and then departing), He's still there. People can still love the Lord first and foremost. Sins can still be forgiven, that forgiveness just doesn't cover all sin, forever, in their lives.

Most of my stories are still after Christ, so faith in Him is still a part of the lives of most of my characters. But I've learned so much through writing stories set in the Old Testament too. About my faith, about the nature of our unchanging God, and about the foundation of the faith that defines my life.

Do you have a preference in biblical stories? Do you prefer to read about Old Testament or New?

~*~

Here’s the Stop #1 Scoop:
You can order my books at Amazon | Barnes and Noble | CBD

Clue to Write Down: In the

Link to Stop #2, the Next Stop on the Loop: April McGowan’s site

Need the full list of stops?

All finished?
Submit your entries! 

And now, my giveaway! 

Enter to win your choice of one of my four biblical novels, in either signed paperback or digital format, whichever you prefer! (Paperbacks available to US addresses only due to costs of international shipping. International readers are welcome to enter for a digital version though!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, June 19, 2017

Word of the Week - Cloche



A nice and simple word for this week, as it's a super busy one!

I don't know if anyone has seen the recent DQ commercials with the silver cloche over the food, but they inspired a question from daughter, who said, "I thought a cloche was a hat." The girl comes by this assumption naturally. In my head, cloche equals pretty 20s style hat, end of story. ;-)

As it happens, cloche was originally a type of bell-shaped jar (c. 1882); the word is borrowed from the French, where it literally means "bell." The French was derived from the Latin clocca, of the same meaning.

So both the domed lid and the hat take their name from the bell-shape. The hat--which is seriously the only important use of the word, right??? LOL--dates from 1907.

Don't forgot to catch my Live Chat on Facebook tonight at 7 EDT! I'll be chatting about Gwen and Thad and Whispers from the Shadows.


Also--head's up on a HUGE giveaway coming later this week! The WhiteFire Publishing authors are teaming up on a Scavenger Hunt that will be giving away thousands of dollars worth of prizes! That will start at 9 a.m. Eastern on Thursday, June 22 and will start right here. So mark your calendars!


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Remember When ~ The Library at Kensey Manor


We are book lovers. I am, and I assume you are too, if you're here reading the blog of a novelist. ;-) We have all dreamed of walking into a room like the library in Beauty and the Beast, right? The idea of all those books in one place . . . it's bliss. Pure and unmitigated.

But I am a book lover. And my collection regularly outpaces my shelves. Which means I frequently have random stacks of novels in front of the orderly ones. And on the tops of shelves. And occasionally even beside the shelves, if I'm really in need of a new bookcase. I figure I can't possibly be the only with this problem . . . which led me to wonder what would happen if someone was so bad about it that they'd managed to turn the heaven that is a library into something far different. Something intimidating and chaotic and overwhelming.

This is the library at Kensey Manor in A Name Unknown.

Peter, the hero, is a lover of books. A writer of books. But he comes from a family with a bit of a, er, problem with collecting them, let's say. His grandfather began the impressive collection, but ran out of shelf space. His father continued it, only adding to the issue without ever resolving it. And Peter . . . Peter has a remarkable ability to untidy something in thirty seconds flat, so don't expect him to bring order from the bookish chaos.

Yet he needs order enough from the books to find a few specific tomes among them. Which is where Rosemary comes in.

Now, Rosemary isn't really a librarian, she's just posing as one. She doesn't usually even like libraries all that much. So when she sees the chaos . . . she may have been sent running had she not been there for ulterior motives.

I loved the idea of taking something book lovers like us ought to adore, and making it something to dread. Of watching, over the course of the story, this room go from what they call "the cave" into a beautiful chamber that it's a delight to spend time in. I loved having Rosemary, who isn't a die-hard book fan, be the one to effect this change, and through doing so, come to love the place.

I loved making the library another character who had to undergo a transformation.

I hope you all are looking forward to meeting this library as much as I'm looking forward to introducing you to it!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Word of the Week - Coffee


I featured this word before, but it was 6 years ago, and I know much of my readership has changed. And let's be honest--coffee deserves to be featured again. Because it's one of the most beautiful creations in the universe. ;-)

The best guess of the awesome www.etymonline.com is that our word coffee came from the Italian caffe, which came the Turkish kahveh, which in turn came from the Arabic qahwah. Which, they think, got its name from the Kaffa region in Ethiopia, where most historians say coffee originated.
God bless those Arabians in Ethiopia!
Coffee was introduced in England by 1650, and within 25 years, over 3,000 coffeehouses dotted the country. (I heard a theory saying that the English moving from ale to coffee is why there was a great expansion in their empire, LOL.)
What I didn't realize is that by 1774 one could use the word coffee to refer to a small meal where the drink was served, much like tea. Who knew?
 
In my house, we take our coffee very seriously. Since college, my husband and I have used whole beans and ground them fresh every morning. Last Christmas, we splurged on a gorgeous Jura Ena coffee system as a gift for each other. This thing creates the most beautiful, delicious cup of coffee ever, and it makes getting up in the morning something to look forward to.

So I'm going to have another cup. Go sip some in my honor if you're a coffee drinker! ;-)

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Cover Reveal ~ A Song Unheard

It's always so exciting to get to share a new cover with you!! And I recently received the art for A Song Unheard, so here we go!

First, a bit of background. Where book 1 in the series features a library and books [insert blissful sigh here], my hero and heroine in A Song Unheard are both violinists, so obviously we needed a violin on the cover. That was non-negotiable. ;-) We also needed:

  • A girl in her 20s with light brown hair that slips from its chignon when she plays (I gave them Emily Blunt as my inspiration)
  • 1914 styling
  • A midday room, since all the playing happens in a hotel's function room, not on a stage
  • A bit of mystery ;-)

As always, Bethany House did a great job finding a model that fit my description and finding a unique way to put a violin in her hands! Are you ready?


3

 . . .


 . . .

1

 . . .


Voila!


I love the soft, warm colors of this cover, and the art deco accents--similar to but different than the ones used on A Name Unknown. And you can just tell from the expression on her face that it's not the music stand she's set on watching, can't you? Yes, this is a woman with an ulterior motive for sure!

Now for the blurb:

Willa Forsythe is both a violin prodigy and top-notch thief, which makes her the perfect choice for a crucial task at the outset of World War I--to steal a cypher from a famous violinist currently in Wales.

Lukas De Wilde has enjoyed the life of fame he's won--until now, when being recognized nearly gets him killed. Everyone wants the key to his father's work as a cryptologist. And Lukas fears that his mother and sister, who have vanished in the wake of the German invasion of Belgium, will pay the price. The only light he finds is meeting the intriguing Willa Forsythe.

But danger presses in from every side, and Willa knows what Lukas doesn't--that she must betray him and find that cypher, or her own family will pay the price as surely as his has.

Now, for fun, side by side with the first book...


So what do you think? Favorite part of the new cover? How do you think it works with/compares to the first one?

Monday, June 5, 2017

Real Quick...

Popping onto the blog real quick this morning for a few things, then I'm getting to work writing. ;-)


First, don't forget that tonight I'm going to be LIVE on Facebook, chatting about Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland! I'll start promptly at 7 p.m. EDT and look forward to answering your questions! Next week I'll begin chatting about the Culper Ring Series, and we'll finish off the season with A Name Unknown when it releases.

Next, on Wednesday we're going to be doing a cover reveal for the second book in the Shadows Over England Series!!!! I love a good cover reveal, and I hope you do too, so remember to stop by on Wednesday!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Fridays from the Archives - Finding Your Place


Time for another Fridays from the Archives! Today, we're jumping back to 2009, right before I went to my second ACFW writers conference. This was right as I was planning to re-release A Stray Drop of Blood in paperback. Before I had any readers. When my agent was advising against pitching historicals. Kinda fun to look and be see how much has changed in the last nearly-8 years! Check in at the bottom again for my Now thoughts on Yesterday.



With the ACFW Conference in Denver only a week away (woo hoo!), my thoughts have inevitably turned to the dual hope/fear of finding that perfect editor (or not) for the book I'll be pitching.

Up until two days ago, I didn't even know what I would pitch. I have a few books that were possibilities, but my agent systematically eliminated them all. "No historicals this year," followed by "too sophisticated to break in with" followed by "needs work." I sent her my ocean book, now titled Yesterday's Tides thanks to y'all, with a cringe. As close as I feel to this book, I groaned at the very thought of getting another "Not the thing" on it. Not to mention it would leave me with nothing to try to sell. So you can imagine my relief and joy when my agent sent me a series of emails with "One sheet is good. Interesting idea," "Synopsis is good. I really like how you handle this story," and "Yes, pitch this one. I'll have it read by the time you get back, and we'll make any tweaks necessary before sending it to the editors who request it." Whew! Step one down.

Now for Step Two: finding an editor who loves this book as much as I (and my critique partners) do. Never a guarantee, obviously. In the two years since my last conference, I have sighed many a time over the fact that the editors out there haven't jumped at the Victorian series that captured my agent's attention. You just never know.

But said critique partners have done so much for me. Not just in critiquing my work, but in building me up. Stephanie said once, "You know why you'll succeed? Because you keep writing new things, looking for that one that'll break you in. You don't sit back and wait. You keep coming up with new stuff, better stuff." The twenty manuscripts on my computer prove the "you keep writing" part, lol. Then Mary said of Yesterday's Tides that she had a threefold prayer for it: that it would sell soon, that it would be a bestseller, and that it would win a Christy. A dream for everyone, for sure. And it really touched me that Mary believed in this story enough to beseech the Lord for it in such a big way. And then Carole made me preen by saying I was becoming one of her favorite authors--a label she doesn't give out easily. Could a writer have a better group of friends and encouragers?

On one of my loops, we've been talking about that place we all visit sometimes where the not-knowing-where-we're-going gets so overwhelming. Where the fear outweighs the hope. Where you question your calling, your ability, your everything. Roseanna the Optimist doesn't often dwell on that, but I wonder. I wonder if the encouraging news I got on two different projects last week will come to anything--and if it'll come in time for conference. I wonder if all the work I've put into other projects will ever amount to anything or if they'll molder on my computer for all time. I wonder if, when I finally do get published on a national level, I'll have any readers. I wonder if the re-release of A Stray Drop of Blood will actually sell.

All things I can't know. Things that could lead to those "Is this where you want me, Lord?" questions. But as I'm getting ready to head to Denver and pitch a project I love and believe in, I'm instead getting excited about what He might have in store. The fact that I will even be pitching this story, when I had assumed it off the table, is enough to excite me. I finished its rewrites a year ago, but everyone kept losing it, forgetting about it . . . it wasn't it's time. Now it seems to be. Will that result in the "perfect editor"? I don't know. But it gives me hope.


Today Me again. One reason I loved rereading this is because I can at this point look back and see the winding but steady road I traveled from that conference to where I sit today, with 14 published books soon to be under my belt.

I pitched Yesterday's Tides in Colorado, and the best reaction I got was from Kim Moore at Harvest House. She loved it. Loved the writing, loved the story, loved me. But a year later, I still hadn't heard back from her on it, so I checked in with her. She'd lost the file--but I resent, and she ended up taking it to committee. They didn't buy it, but Kim liked my writing so much that she asked me if I had any historicals (ha! full turn around on the 'no historicals' thing). In the meantime, I was also getting to know Rachel from Summerside Press, who also first said, "We're penciling you in" to a contemporary and then asked for a historical, which became Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland. By the time that one was in the publication process, Kim had convinced Harvest House to buy my Culper Ring Series. All because of that meeting with her in 2009.

That said, Yesterday's Tides still sits on my computer. I still love it. But it hasn't been published, it hasn't become a bestseller, it hasn't won a Christy. My dear Mary (who passed away just a couple months before Annapolis hit the shelves) was wrong on the "soon." But her faith in me kept me going. And I hope all I've accomplished would make her proud. I've now brainstormed how to turn Yesterday's Tides into a historical, and we'll see if that's the way God wants me to tell that story. Who knows? Or it could be that He'll have me sit on it a while longer yet. I don't know. I just know that someday, that story that holds me captive every time I draw it out to work on it, will find its place in the world. I'm looking forward to that.

Just as I can look back and see that, yes, that conference led me to the editors I needed to know, so too do I know He holds all my stories in His hand. I love that feeling.

Happy Friday, y'all, and don't forget to join me for my LIVE chat on Monday, to talk about Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland! I've heard from a ton of you that Annapolis was the first book of mine you'd read, and how much you love it; I'd love to take your questions and comments on it!


Jigsaw photo credit
© Aliaksandr Mazurkevich | Dreamstime.com - Hand inserting missing piece of jigsaw puzzle