Friday, July 20, 2018

Fridays from the Archives - Reading as an Editor

It's good to have a reminder like this. Are there things in your life that you have a hard time relinquishing control of? 

Original post published 8/28/14

I admit it--I don't read for pleasure as much as I used to. Mostly because during the school year, I spend so many hours a day reading to my kids, writing, and editing that by the end of the day, my eyes and brain say, "Nope, we're done. Stare at the television or go to sleep. Those are your choices."

But there's another reason. It's because I've trained myself so much to be an editor that I can't read a book without noting what I'd ask the author to change...and that gets really, really annoying when I'm just reading for fun, LOL.

Now, the mark of a truly excellent book is when the "editor" switches off, or at least finds nothing to whine about. That happens, and I love it when it does. But other times...yeah. I recently read a dystopian where the character at one point mentions that in her town, there's no music. She barely has a concept of what it is. Then a few scenes later, she likens someone's breathing to a concertina. Um, no. If you don't know what music is, you aren't going to think in terms of instruments. Sorry. A first-person book that suddenly goes out of POV and tells me what another character is thinking? Shudder. And that historical full of inaccuracies? Ouch.

I guess it's kinda like a doctor watching a medical show. Or someone in law enforcement watching CSI. They're going to notice the faults, the things the show gets wrong, and it's going to ruin it for them. Sadly, that's how some books are for me these days. It's one thing to notice all the typos, which I've always done. But these days, it's so much more than that.

But then it makes me wonder.

How can God stand to watch us?? LOL. I mean, He's got it all right. He knows what He's doing. He knows the right thing, the wrong thing, the so-so things we could do in each moment, and He sees how often we go the wrong way. How often we miss the mark.

And I can imagine Him in heaven, with his metaphorical red pen, saying, "You know, if you'd just let me give you some advice right here..."

But here's another thing I've learned about editors--you have to let them give you advice. Freelancers you hire, and you can totally choose whether to take their advice or ignore them. When you've signed a contract with a publishing house, you kinda have to listen to what they say. Kinda. But you might be surprised at how many authors refuse, and take the cancellation of their contract over giving over control of their story.

What about in our lives? Do we give over control to Him? He, who is the ultimate author? The ultimate editor? Who understands far better than we do where the plots of our lives are going? Who knows what's relevant and what isn't? Where our focus should be?

Lord, be my editor. Catch all my errors and help me correct them. Cut out all that fluff I don't need in my life. Keep my words tight and true to You. Lord, be my editor...and help me to take Your perfect advice.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Thoughtful About . . . The Enemy

For my daily study each morning, I've been reading through a chronological Bible called So That's Why Bible. I love the history and context this Bible gives me--I've never been a huge fan of the "application" style notes in a study Bible, but I've always loved the historical notes (you're shocked, right? LOL) so this Bible is right up my alley.

My readings last week took me through the end of King David's reign. First the account in Samuel and then in Chronicles. The historians who put this Bible together had already pointed out that the prophetic account of Samuel and the historical account of Chronicles tell of the same events in very different lights--namely, that Chronicles never sheds a bad (or realistic) light on David, only noting his victories and good qualities.

This came into sharp focus in comparing 2 Samuel 24 and I Chronicles 21--when David orders a census of Israel. Both agree that this was a big deal and a big mistake, and that it resulted in a plague sent by God that destroyed 70,000 Israelites before the Lord relents.

But in 2 Samuel, it says, "Again the anger of the Lord was aroused against Israel, and He moved David against them to say, 'Go, number Israel and Judah.'" Contrast that with I Chronicles 21:1. "Now Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel."

Whoa. God...or Satan? Which one moved David to do this? That seems like a pretty big difference, right? And quite a contradiction.

I brought this up with my husband the other day, and then shared another interesting historical note from these commentators. That the notion of Satan has changed over the centuries. In the earliest Jewish writings, Satan wasn't written as a figure of evil. He was more what we'd consider a prosecutor in a legal setting. He's the one against us, the defendant, but he's not necessarily evil. He's an adversary in a legal or even political sense. But the only times we see Satan mentioned in the Old Testament are:

Here in Chronicles. In Job, where God and Satan are discussing Job and Satan is given leave to test him, and then in Zecharaiah, where again Satan is present in the throne room of God, opposing the high priest. The evil force we associate with Satan--which we in fact put on the serpent in Genesis, though it never names him as such--isn't present in those early histories.

Where and when did that understanding come in? According to these historians, not until the Babylonian exile. While in Persia, they would have been rubbing elbows with worshipers of Zoroastrianism. I wrote about this in Jewel of Persia, so I perked up when I read that, LOL. In this monotheistic religion, there are two opposing forces. Ahura Mazda, who represents all good. And Angra Mainu, who is all evil. Both have a host of deities equivalent to angels and demons on their side, and they are constantly at war. Humans must decide which side they're on, which battle they'll fight, and it is a matter of human decisions which one will ultimately win. In this system, Ahura Mazda and Angra Mainu are equals. Diametrically opposed, but by nature equal.

You can certainly see some similarities between their religion and Judeo-Christian beliefs, right? But I'd never really paused to realize that this idea of Satan as evil wasn't even present in Judaism before that. Satan was an enemy, yes. Like a lawyer on the opposite side of a case is an enemy--that doesn't make him by nature evil. I'd never realized that this could have come in part from Persian beliefs.

Of course, I'm not trying to answer the question of whether that was when they realized the truth of the matter or what. Historically, it's just an interesting note. And as my husband pointed out, it actually answers my question of "Don't those passages contradict?" with the Samuel and Chronicles accounts of the census.

Before the idea of Satan being the ultimate evil, he was mostly just depicted as a tool--a necessary part of divine justice. The one to accuse mankind. In this way, it's not so contradictory, is it? God was angry with Israel, so he stirred David against Perhaps by using Satan to do it? It's an interesting question, anyway.

I'm not pretending to have uncovered any profound answers here, but I do love viewing the Bible through a historical context and seeing what new things I discover!

Have you ever noticed the differences in those accounts before? Or wondered at how Satan is mentioned in the old books of the OT? What's your understanding?

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Summer Reading - Swoons & Giggles

Today's Summer Reads Recommendations are all about Swoons and Giggles! These authors have managed to balance the beauty of ROMANCE with the release that LAUGHTER gives. So if you are looking for an amazing book to read this summer that is on the lighter side, check out these books!

Click the images below to be taken to the book's Goodreads page for more information.

Jen Turano

Any book you pick up by Jen Turano is bound to leave you in stitches. A unique voice and engaging characters, you won't want to miss her newest series!

Free Novella


A USA Today Best-Selling Author, Jen Turano has written the critically acclaimed Ladies of Distinction series, and A Class of Their Own series, published through Bethany House Publishers. Her novel, After a Fashion, was chosen as a top pick from Romantic Times, as well as being named a top ten romance of 2015 from Booklist. It is also a nominee for Romantic Times 2015 Reviewers’ Choice Award. Her book, A Most Peculiar Circumstance, was chosen as a top ten romance by Booklist in 2013. Her seventh book, Playing the Part, released in the spring of 2016, and will be followed by a new four-book series, Apart from the Crowd. When she’s not writing, Jen spends her time outside of Denver with her husband and neurotic Cattle Dog, enjoying herself as an empty-nester since her son recently abandoned her for the college life.

Mary Connealy

Who else can take cowboys (and cowgirls) mix in some comedy and add several helpings of romance? Mary Connealy has masted (and quite possibly created) the genre of Romantic Comedy Westerns...


Mary Connealy writes romantic comedy with cowboys always with a strong suspense thread. She is a two time Carol Award winner and a Rita, Christy and Inspirational Reader's Choice finalist. 

She is the bestselling author of 48 books and novellas. 

Her most recent book series are: Cimarron Legacy, Wild at Heart, Trouble in Texas, Kincaid Bride for Bethany House Publishing. She’s also written four other series for Barbour Publishing and many novellas and several stand-alone books for multiple publishers. 

Mary will be a published author for ten years in 2017 with nearly a million books in print. She has a degree in broadcast communications with an emphasis in journalism and has worked at her local newspaper.

Pepper Basham

Known for her swoony romance and #closetkisses, Pepper Basham is fabulous at intertwining humor and grace in her stories. You won't want to miss these Romantic Comedies.


Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes novels inspired by her love for history and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Her Penned in Time series has garnered recognition in the INSPYs, Grace Awards, and the ACFW Carol Awards. Her contemporary romance novel, A Twist of Faith, received 4-stars from Romantic Times, and most recently, her newest release, Just the Way You Are, received a Top Pick from RT with 4 ½ stars. Her newest contemporary romance, When You Look at Me, releases Fall 2018. 


To kickstart your summer reading plans...I am hosting a THREE BOOK GIVEAWAY! 1 (One) winner will receive a print copy of The Accidental Guardian by Mary Connealy, Caught by Surprise by Jen Turano, and Just the Way You Are by Pepper Basham. Open to US mailing addresses only, please. Void where prohibited. Giveaway closes 7/18/18 11:59pm EDT. Please enter via the Rafflecopter form below.

*My thanks to Pepper Basham and Bethany House Publishing for providing the giveaway copies.

So what will YOU be reading this summer?

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Remember When . . . Watches Appeared on the Wrist - Part II

Last week I started telling you about Hans Wilsdorf and the founding of Rolex. It was getting a bit long, so I figured I'd better break it up into two posts. 😉 As a quick reminder, I'd told you a bit about Hans's early days and his determination to create a great wrist watch (called "wristlets" at the time) and then make his company name, Rolex, be the one people came to associate with the quality watches he produced.

But if you were paying attention to the years I mentioned, you'll have known that things were about to change for Hans. The Great War was coming. And though he'd become an English citizen when he married his wife, Florence, no one really cared about that.

He was German. He spoke with an accent. He had a clearly German last name.

Life became not so easy for the Wilsdorfs in London. He and Florence were both harassed whenever they went out in public. And to make matters worse, a new customs duty was put into place--33.5%. And for a business that was almost exclusively exported, this could easily spell The End.

The Wilsdorfs didn't have much choice. They packed up and moved to Bienne, Switzerland, for the duration of the war. Rolex already had a branch there, so they moved all operations out of England and continued to produce the watches quickly gaining a reputation for excellence.

But though the war forced them from their home, it also helped create a market for the wristlet. Timing was crucial in military operations, and having a reliable timepiece was essential. The few soldiers who went to war with wristlets soon proved how practical they were. Pocket watches were generally worn in a jacket pocket, which was then under an overcoat in the winter months. To check the time, soldiers would have to take off their gloves, open their overcoat, and dig it out of their undercoat. Compare that to just raising your wrist, and you can see why the men who had wristlets found them so much better an option. After the war ended, the popularity of the wrist watch surged.

And at the front of the wave was Rolex.

But Wilsdorf wasn't about riding a wave. He was about innovation--and marketing savvy. His next goal was to create a waterproof watch, which he achieved in 1926. The Oyster. But water had long been known as the enemy of a watch, so he had his work cut out for him, convincing the public that his Oyster really could keep running, even when wet. One boon came when a swimmer swam the English Channel, wearing one. They were already getting publicity for their feat, and Rolex got a bit too.

But that wasn't quite enough. So Wilsdorf came up with an ongoing publicity stunt. Shops that sold Rolexes were outfitted with aquariums, in which hung an Oyster, keeping perfect time despite being continually submerged.

It worked. By the time World War II rolled around, Rolex was well known around the world as being the best watch to be had. The most reliable. A byword for quality and luxury.

Now, though he was German by birth, Hans was firmly on the Allied side of both World Wars. And when he heard that Allied soldiers in the Second World War were stripped of their Rolexes when they were taken prisoner, he publicly swore that Rolex would replace any Allied soldier's watch that was stolen. And he kept his word. This story exemplifies just one of the many ways that Hans made Rolex a company with heart, not just monetary success.

So how does all this work its way into my book? Well, all of it obviously doesn't. But I'd looked up the history of Rolex out of curiosity when I realized I would have a clockmaker for a central character in An Hour Unspent, figuring the company was forming around the same time as my story. When I realized how well it actually lined up with my timeline, I decided to give Hans Wilsdorf a cameo appearance. He actually ended up presenting a plot point that was rather crucial...but of course, I'm not going to tell you what that was. ;-) Just that I had oh so much fun writing it!

And I also just want to say that the more I learned about Wilsdorf and the company he built, the more I admired him and Rolex. They aren't just glitzy watches for the rich, status symbols. They're undeniable quality built on innovation and popularity gained through determination and marketing brilliance. You just have to admire that.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Word of the Week - Slang

Slang. Something we all know. And probably use. "Informal language." Those words not accepted as proper but not bad. That informal language is in fact usually "characterized by vividness and novelty."

Mostly, the word hasn't changed that much...but it's broadened. And is, in fact, itself nearly impossible to trace the etymology of. Various experts have posited various theories, but none can be proven and said experts can't seem to agree with each other. It might have Scandinavian roots...or French ones...or something else entirely.

What we know is that its first uses were very specific. In 1756 we have a record of it appearing to mean "the specific vocabulary that thieves use." By 1801 it was the terminology specific to any particular field. But the definition we know now was only a few years behind, having been firmly established by 1818.

So we might not know where it comes from. But we certainly know where it's been. ;-) And because I have a strange household, my children will occasionally actually argue about whether a word is slang or "accepted."

Was "slang" acceptable in your family or school growing up?

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Happy Independence Day!

Wishing you a safe and fun Fourth, full of picnics and fireworks and reflections on the bravery that the Patriots embodied to make the United States a reality and not just a dream.

My family will enjoy a picnic and then watch the fireworks from my sister's porch. Though I think our favorite celebration was the year we hilariously went to Niagara Falls for the Fourth. Because nothing says American Independence like going to Canada! LOL

Do you have any special plans for the holiday?

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Remember When . . . Watches Appeared on the Wrist - Part I

I'm posting my "Remember When" a day early this week, in deference to Independence Day tomorrow. Just pretend it's Wednesday. 😉

These days, when someone asks you what time it is, you might just pull out your cell phone. But until recently, that certainly wasn't the norm, right? You would have looked at your wrist--and many of us today still do. (I say "us," but the sad truth is that I rarely wear a watch--it hits against my laptop keyboard and is uncomfortable, and since I'm home most of the time, I can just look at a clock, so...)

But wristwatches--arguably the norm for timekeeping for the last century--were once the new kid on the block. And we owe their popularity primarily to one man.

Hans Wilsdorf.

Born in Germany in 1881, Hans and his brother and sister were orphaned when he was 12. His uncles decided that in order to see to the childrens' futures, they would liquidate the prosperous family business and equip the children with the means to be self-reliant. They were sent to boarding school, where Hans showed great promise in languages and mathematics. His fluency in multiple tongues led him to an apprenticeship at a pearl exporter with a worldwide sales organization--something that taught him much about business.

From there he was hired in the year 1900 by a French watchmaking firm. Again, it was his linguistics skills that got him the job, but he quickly came to love and appreciate the world of watches.

In 1903, Hans moved to London to work for another watchmaking firm. He ended up marrying an English woman, applying for and receiving English citizenship, and eventually began his own watch company with his wife's brother--Wilsdorf & Davis.

But Hans wasn't satisfied to just make traditional pocket watches in the traditional way. Hans had a vision of a "wristlet." A watch worn on the wrist. And he had a dream of being a watchmaker so respected that it would be his name that sold a watch, not the trader who sold it (as had always been the case).

So Hans set out on a journey. First, he utilized the Swiss watch movements he'd learned so much about in his previous jobs to acquire the best, most accurate workings possible. Then he soldered a strap onto a small pocket watch and strapped it around his wrist. But there were issues that needed to be overcome--the arm moves a whole lot more than a person's body, with more violent motions. This was terrible for watches. Such jostling usually damaged the works and make them, well, not work. Plus, there was the matter of dirt and other particles getting into a watch case. In a pocket, the watch was protected from such undesirables. But on the wrist? They'd get grimy, fast. And that would gum up the works. So that, again, they wouldn't work.

Through a series of different prototypes, Hans Wilsdorf worked out these issues. He created a case with a gasket to seal it from dirt, and utilized works so precise and robust that not only did the jostling not destroy them, but the watch still remained accurate.

In fact, his wristlet was honored with the Certificate of Chronometric Precision--an award that had until then only ever been issued to marine clocks.

During this time, Hans was trying to come up with a name for his company that wasn't just his name. He wanted something that would be pronounced the same in German, French, and English. Something that was easy to say, concise, and had that certain something when one heard it. It took him quite a long time to hit upon the name he felt embodied all those things.


In the 1910s, he began to do the unthinkable. He put Rolex on the face of a few watches. Now, this was unheard of. The face of a watch usually had the trader's name, because that was who people trusted. The manufacturer's name only went on the back of the case. Hans knew he was treading on dangerous ground...but at that point, most of his wristlets were being shipped out of England, to Europe. So what were they really going to do if his company name appeared on, say, 1 of every 6 watches? Nothing. So that's how it began. First on one, then on two, then on half, and eventually all of his watches bore the name Rolex on the face. And the traders accepted them because they were the best watches to be found.

Today, of course, we know the name Rolex. But it was still quite a journey from those early days to the company that is now a byword for luxury. Come back next Wednesday for the rest of the story, and to discover how this fun history worked its way into An Hour Unspent!