Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Celebrate Fall with Historical Fiction!


Quick post today to tell you all to check out an amazing giveaway hosted on Suzanne Woods Fisher's blog, celebrating historical fiction. She has 10 authors on for 10 days! I'll be up on Friday. In the meantime, be sure to check out these other awesome authors!

Hop on over!

Also, Relz Reviews has a giveaway of A Name Unknown going on right now, along with a fun character spotlight of both Rosemary and Peter (by popular demand, LOL).


Visit Relz Reviews

Monday, September 18, 2017

Word of the Week - Bamboozle

My dearest daughter suggested this word of the week, because she thought it was such a fun word to say. ;-)

So, bamboozle.

This will be rather quick, because etymologists aren't entirely sure where it came from, LOL. What they can tell you for certain is that it's been both a noun and a verb first recorded in 1703, bearing the same meaning that it does today.

But where did it come from? That's a bit of a mystery. It could be from the Scottish bombaze, which means "confound or perplex." But it could also be from the French embabouiner, which means "to make a fool of." (Literally, "baboon.")

Either way, this "cheat, swindle" word is a lot of fun to say. ;-)

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Thoughtful About . . . Found in Surrender

Last week we passed an idyllic seven days at the beach in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I expected to have a great time--and I did. I had a fabulous time. We generally do. But as a mama, I've also known my fair share of vacation frustrations.

Because you don't get a break from mommy responsibilities, right? Even now, when my kids are older, it isn't as though they're adults, out doing their own thing. They want me to build a sandcastle. And dig a moat. And dig a hole. And build a wall. Swim again, whether I'm ready to move or not. They still need to eat (the nerve!) and have someone to remind them to do those oh-so-crazy things like shower and brush their teeth.

I admit it. There have been times--many of them--on vacation or holidays when I had in mind what I wanted to do, and I got a bit frustrated when that went by the wayside in favor of what they wanted me to do.

I was determined to do it differently this time. And so I told myself from the start that if the kids wanted to build, we'd build. If they wanted to hunt for shells, off we'd go. I'd set aside my desires for this vacation and instead focus on theirs.

Crazy thing. Wanna take a guess how that went?

I had an absolute blast. And--and--I ended up with more time to do what I wanted (which is to say, read, LOL) than I ever have before on a vacation since those kiddos came along.

As I was contemplating this toward the end of the week, I realized it was a surrender, that decision. Not a surrender to them, but a surrender of me. I was still Mama, still the one with veto power, and yes, I still said things like, "Sure, sweetie, but can you give five minutes to warm up first?" But I'd already put that I-want on hold in my mind. It wasn't there, it wasn't allowed. And because I'd already dealt with it, it left me with this beautiful, sweet thing: peace.

I rather wish it hadn't taken me so many years to figure this out--but isn't that just like us, in life and in faith? How often do we cling to what we want to do, what we want to accomplish, what we want to be, when the treasure lies in letting it go? Giving it up and instead listening for what God will whisper?

Because when the Lord holds out His hand to me and says, "Let's build something," I don't want to sigh and scowl at Him. I don't want to be thinking, Really? Now? Don't you know I'm busy with this other work?

I want to put my hand in His and see what we can create together. I want to let go of all the frustrations from interruptions and disappointments and give myself over to the joy He prepares in every moment. I want to find that treasure hidden under the sand.

I want to store away hours of laughter with my family. I want to build memories for them like I have of my own childhood. I want to follow the Lord wherever He leads me. I want to stop and look at seashells, so carefully fashioned by His hand. I want to hear His whisper in the rush of the surf, or the breath of the wind, or in the silence of the night. And I want to remember that when I put aside me, I gain something oh-so-much better.


Monday, September 11, 2017

Word of the Week - Schedule

I've just returned from a week of vacation in the beautiful Outer Banks of North Carolina . . . which means my schedule is bursting with things that need done.

Now, as it happens, I knew from some of my writing projects that schedule would not have been a word used in such a way until fairly recent history. So I thought I'd share some of that today, while I'm battling to get mine into order. ;-)

Schedule comes to English via French ("strip of paper with writing on it"), Latin ("strip of paper"), and originally Greek ("splinter or strip"). So even in those moves from language to language we see a progression of the idea, right? When it joined the English tongue in the 14th century, it meant "a ticket, label, or slip of paper with writing on it." This sense is still preserved in our tax system--the "schedule" being a piece of paper attached to the main document, an appendix.

So how did it come to mean "a plan of procedure"? Well we have the railroads to thank for that. They would employ schedules--slips of paper--with their timetables written on them. Hence, everyone soon called the timetable schedule rather than the paper it was on.

Interestingly, even the pronunciation has changed a lot over the centuries! For hundreds of years, everyone pronounced it "sed-yul." But the British modified it to "shed-yul" in imitation of the French at some point, while Americans--at the insistence of Webster and his dictionary--reverted to the Greek pronunciation of "sked-yul."

Now back I go to mine. ;-)

Monday, September 4, 2017

Word of the Week - Amused

Short and sweet--and funny!--word today. =)

Amused. We all know what it means, right? "Entertained. Aroused to mirth." And today, that's true. But did you know that the word originally meant "distracted, diverted, cheated"??? Truth!

When amused entered the language around 1600, that was its meaning, and it continued as such until around 1727, when that sense of "distracting someone, playing a trick on them, cheating them," took on a more positive connotation--that we were instead "pleasantly diverted."

Amusing to see how words change over time, isn't it. ;-)

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Thoughtful About . . . What We're Remembered For

In recent weeks, there's been quite a hullabaloo over statues. It's started in the US and has even spread to the UK. Voices are raised. Blood pressure is up. People are shouting at each other from both sides.

On the news the other evening, I heard someone call for the removal of all statues of the founding fathers who were slave holders. And something inside me ached.

First let me say, I detest slavery. I hate that it was ever a part of our nation. I love the differences God put into His human creation, and I think they should be celebrated--not feared or hated or labeled. I was always quite proud to be a West Virginian--the state that formed in order to stay a part of the Union rather than the Confederacy (at least until I learned it was a political stance, in order to gain that statehood, and that the majority of my state's citizens in fact supported the Confederacy...). I don't think slavery should ever be glorified.


(Bracing myself)

But...I think it's wrong to boil people down to ONE stance. ONE opinion. ONE part of their lives and dismiss everything else they did because of it.

Many of our founding fathers were slaveholders. And many of the same recognized that it was an evil. They wanted the country to be rid of the institution. They knew it was wrong. But they didn't know how to expunge it from their society without ripping said society apart. And so, they left it for another generation to deal with, trusting that something so obviously wrong would die a natural death.

"I wish from my soul that the legislature of this State
could see the policy of a gradual Abolition of Slavery ...

"Not only do I pray for it, on the score of human dignity,
but I can clearly foresee that nothing but the rooting out of slavery
can perpetuate the existence of our union,
by consolidating it in a common bond of principle."
~ George Washington

It didn't die a natural death. Instead, people began to justify it. To say it wasn't evil at all. And finally to embrace it. To be willing to fight for it.

Does that make those founding fathers evil? Because of one stance they didn't take? Do we judge them according to their failures...or their successes?

Which would WE like to be judged by?

All these people calling for statues to be taken down, for these men to be erased from displays of history...should we judge THEM by their sins...or by their graces? For what they've done wrong, or for what they're doing right?

How can we in good conscience judge our forebears by a standard we ourselves would never want to be judged by?

Don't we frequently do things we know are wrong? Do we ever participate in something socially that we know isn't good for society? Do we take advantage of the tax system we think is warped? Do we use the insurance we didn't think should be passed into legislation? Do we laugh at the crude jokes that belittle others? Perhaps it's not on the same scale, but it's the same idea of rebelling against a culture.

Does it ever make you stop and wonder if all the good we work for, all the love we live out, all the victories we think we've managed will someday turn to dust because of those things we don't do right? The things we fail at? The places our love is weak?

That's what we're doing when we try to erase people from our own past. We're saying we don't care what they built, what good they did, what they had right--that it's all nothing compared to what they did wrong.

I'm especially saddened by the outrage focused on Robert E. Lee. He wasn't a perfect man, but he also wasn't a villain, as people today seem to want to paint him. He was never in favor of slavery--his wife and daughter even founded an illegal school to educate slaves in their area, and helped some gain their freedom. He wrote in a letter to his wife that "slavery as an institution, is a moral and political evil in any Country." He also wasn't in favor of Virginia seceding. So why did he fight for them? You might as well ask why a general in England who voted against Brexit doesn't move to Europe and join one of their militaries--Lee was a Virginian first, an American second. A position very typical of the time, though foreign to us today.

I could go on and on about what made Lee a great man, a great Christian, and one of the most vocal in the South after the war to encourage healing and love, to accept the freedom of former slaves as God-ordained and good, and to come alongside them as friends.

This is the man people today want to hate. Because they see only that he was a Confederate General, and they never ask why. They never ask what he actually believed.

Do we want to be judged as nothing but our jobs? One thing? One stance? One position?

I don't know about you, but I'm not so simple.

Why, then, do we expect our forefathers to have been?

Please, America. Please don't brand each other--those who live down the street or those who lived centuries before--as evil based on our failures, or on our perceived opinions of each other. Because if we are so quick to judge, to erase, to willingly forget...then what will we be remembered for?

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Remember When . . . Food Was Scarce

As I write a series about the Great War, set in Europe, I keep being reminded of one of the hardships that goes hand-in-hand with total war: hunger. Within months of the German invasion of France and Belgium in 1914, lack of food became an issue. First in Belgium, where citizens were accustomed to buying nearly all their everyday food from abroad, and then in occupied France, where the locally grown produce was being requisitioned by the German army.

In A Song Unheard, my hero is from Belgium, though he's currently in Wales with an orchestra made up of other Belgian refugees. But his sister and mother are still in Brussels, and through the eyes of his little sister, Margot, we get a glimpse of wartime in an occupied country. The anxiety of realizing that there's only a few weeks' supply of food in the country. The reality of bread lines. The question of whether aid will come.

Something I found interesting as I was researching A Song Unheard--and which came up again in my research for the final book in the Shadows Over England Series, An Hour Unspent (due to my editor on Friday, eeep!)--is that the British were not happy with the idea of other countries sending food aid to Belgium and France.

Seems kind of strange, right? These were their allies. They obviously didn't want the people to starve. But they held an American ship filled with food for Belgium for months in a British port. Why?

Because they didn't want it to help the German army. And even if the rescue workers could guarantee all the food went to civilians, they still argued it would indirectly aid the German army, since it would mean less competition for what food was in the country. They'd blockaded German ports and wanted them to feel the pressure.

Eventually, the British government had to grant their approval to the aid. Hence began the Commission for Relief in Belgium (CRB), which took much-needed supplies into Belgium and Northern France throughout the war. Crossing front lines in both directions, allowed past blockades, and permitted to move freely through the war zones, the CRB was called, by one British diplomat, “a piratical state organized for benevolence.”

So naturally, they're going to have to play a small role in my stories. ;-)