Thursday, August 21, 2014

Thoughtful About . . . Random Things





This marked our first full week of homeschool. And I admit it--I haven't adjusted yet. I'm still a wee bit frazzled by how much long it's taking us this year (so far--hopefully it'll streamline a bit), and what that means in terms of time to do other things. So I figured today, I'd just chat about some random things.


* That homeschool. Yeesh! I forgot how much longer 1st grade takes than Kindergarten. But adding in that extra amount of work for Rowyn...all of which must be hands-on for me at this point...puts another hour or so on my instructional day. I wasn't prepared for that! But both kids are doing great with their respective work.

However, my brain is back is Edwardian Yorkshire. Because, you see...

* Last Thursday, on my birthday, I got to have an editorial call with my new editor, on The Lost Heiress. Maybe some people wouldn't want to schedule such a thing for their birthday, but I knew well I'd have fun--and I did. I love talking story. I was emailed seven pages of notes, compiled from three different editors, and we went through them point by point. I had an hour before the call to review them and brainstorm, and oh my gracious. Such fun!

See, as a writer, I'm not a this-is-the-only-way-it-can-happen person. (Most of the time.) I'm constantly daydreaming about what ifs for my stories. Coming up with alternate ways the characters could reach the same places. So when an editor says, "This could be stronger," I just have to tap on that door of imagination and let the ideas fly. It's So. Much. Fun for me. =D

So in the week that's followed, I've been spending all the time I can on those revisions. Of course, it being the first week of school, that's not as much time as I would like...

And...

* I'm adding words! Yikes! LOL. I'm going to have to go back afterward and trim some other parts down, to get that word count back down on target. Not the fun part.

* I need a haircut. I have an appointment for next Thursday, but I have no idea what I want. Right now it's about 3 inches below my shoulders. I like the length, but I want some life in it. Suggestions??

* My poor cat has had UTI for two months now. She's been on antibiotics since mid-June. The oral ones made her puke, and the injections don't seem to be helping. Which means she's showing me her pain by making messes. I'm about at my wit's end there...

* I'm making French onion soup tomorrow! Woot!

* And I should probably go take a shower before it's time for school again. So until next time, there's the randomness from the brain of Roseanna.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Blog Header Design - The Lord's Lady

Not exactly a book cover design, but the same general idea. ;-) I had the pleasure a week or so ago of designing a header for a new blog by the awesome Sandi Rog, and I thought it would be fun to break it down for you like I do the book covers.

The blog is called The Lord's Lady: Women Growing in the Word, and it's dedicated to study and meditating on Scripture. I've subscribed and am looking forward to digging deeper into faith with other women who share my heart.

For anyone who doesn't know already, Sandi is a cancer survivor--a miraculous one. A few years ago she was diagnosed with an extremely aggressive form of T-cell lymphoma. She underwent treatment after treatment, course after course of chemotherapy and radiation that left her body weak and broken. I can't tell you how many times I got an email saying she'd ended up in the hospital again. Then we thought she was on the mend...that the treatments had worked...that healing had come--only to learn from a Good Friday MRI that she had 5 new tumors.

Sandi knew she wouldn't survive another round of chemo or radiation. She knew that she couldn't turn into that shell again, the one that couldn't get off the couch to take care of her young children. So when the Lord whispered that she should try the natural route, she obeyed, and asked others to step out in faith with her. I joyfully joined the prayers for my dear friend, believing with her that this would work.

Her cancer has been in remission for 2 years now, thanks to faith and vitamin B17. And though Sandi has had a hard time getting back to writing novels, she wants to pour her heart into this blog, and I'm so excited to join in.

So. The header. =) Sandi emailed with details on exactly what she was looking for. A medieval looking woman in the foreground, most of her face not visible. She wanted her to be cradling a sword in her lap. Reverently, almost tenderly. And in the background, a castle.

Armed with those instructions, I went on the hunt for images. I came back with a few possibilities.
The one on the bottom wasn't holding a sword, of course, but we both liked the lighting and the soft look of her, so she won.

Which meant I had my work cut out for me, LOL. I started, as always, by deleting her background.

I played around a bit to figure out how to input a sword--first trying to have her holding it out before her, in her lap, like Sandi originally envisioned, but the sword got lost against the pale background of the model's dress. So Sandi said, "Can she be holding it up like the woman in the other picture?"

Could she? Hmm. I thought I could get it close. So I chose a medieval sword that I could use for free from Wikimedia Commons:
And then I posed the model by copying her arm, rotating it, and filling in the empty space it created with her veil.
The hand here isn't perfect, but I knew it would be covered up once I put the sword into place.
As you can see, the sword stands out far too much...and looks she's just balancing it on one hand. The image would be cropped to fit on the header, but I still needed to do some playing. I ended up up cutting and pasting the part of the sword that goes off to the left and then changing its opacity so that it looked like the veil was overtop it, and thereby meeting up with her invisible right right.

I also adjusted the color balance on the sword layer, yellowing it to give me the same lighting effect as the model.

And for fun...a little gleam on the blade.
Well, that was the hard part! Next was filling in her background. I found a free image of a castle. There were a ton, but I picked one that looked fairy tale pretty.
Chateau Sully sur Loire
Then, of course, I deleted the background and changed the color balance to match the buttery tones of the rest of the picture.
Isn't that pretty as a picture? ;-)

Now to put the two together. I did a simple blue-gray for sky (adding some low-opacity white for clouds) and green for the ground and plopped them together.
Believe it or not, we're almost there. ;-) I chose a texture layer to put overtop the whole thing. I wanted something that conveyed light and flame, so I went with this one.
Taking it down to 75% opacity and choosing Lighten as my blending mode, we end up with this.
 I want a bit more detail though...a pattern to add into the corner. I waste some time looking for medieval symbols or engravings, and eventually find, of all things, a free vector with tattoo designs, LOL. In that package I found a fun cross-in-a-circle that hit the right note. So I add that in.
Now all that's left are the words! I tried a few arrangements and colors, before Sandi said "This arrangement, but how about burgundy? Which was perfect. She also requested that I link the letters together, so voila.
We added the subtitle, and there we have it! I put all those elements together, and we have our lovely final product, ready to be the header on a blog I know will touch hearts.
http://thelordslady2.blogspot.com/

Check out Sandi's blog at: http://thelordslady2.blogspot.com/ !!!!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Digital is Available for Pre-Order!

I'm interrupting my normal schedule for a special announcement:

The Kindle Version of A Soft Breath of Wind 
Is Available for Pre-Order!! 


Woot!

Fun stuff. =) Hopefully Nook version is soon to follow.

Okay, back to your Monday. Today begins our first full week of school, plus I'm doing revisions on The Lost Heiress, so forgive me for not posting anything else today, LOL.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Thoughtful About . . . Being 32

It's my birthday! And yes, I claim my age. I'm 32. Not 29-for-the-4rd-time. Just plain ol' 32.
Okay, okay, so I was still 31 when this picture was taken...
but it's recent. That'll just have to do.

The funny thing is, I still feel like one of the "super young" crowd...perhaps because I'm working in an industry where I belong to the new generation. Many of my writing friends are closer to my parents' age than mine, and as an editor, I've yet to work with anyone younger than me, LOL. I occasionally wonder that these awesome people take me seriously, but they do, because they're awesome. ;-)

But as another year rolls by and I spend my days working on edits for my books and delving into a new one, I find myself thinking about my characters, and where they were/will be at the same age I'm now at.

My thoughts went first to Abigail, from A Stray Drop of Blood. At 32, she had given birth to six children. Had adopted one, had lost one. When Abigail was 32, her adopted son, Samuel, was already 23. Her firstborn, Benjamin, was 17.

My kids are 8 and 6. I can't quite imagine, in my life, having kids that are already 23 and 17! Kids who are dealing with going out into the world and making their own life, rather than building things out of blocks and coloring pictures. Abigail, at my age, was ready to be a grandmother.

In some ways, I still feel more like those kids. ;-) A modern 32 is more like that 23 or 17, compared to the Biblical days. My family is still young, my life's work still in its infancy. I'm more like Samuel, following his calling toward a life as a healer. Like Benjamin, still finding his footing in the world.

My heroine in A Soft Breath of Wind is only 18 through most of the book (and considered well past the age when a young woman should have been married). Brook, in The Lost Heiress, is 18-19 too. Solely because those are the ages they need to be for these stories, the ages when they come into their own. The heroine I'm working on now, Lady Augusta Kinnaird of the Highlands, is 20.

Maybe it's spending my days in the heads of these young women that makes me still feel like a youngster, LOL. Who knows. But as I set out on another year full of stories and words and history, full of designs and marketing and homeschooling, I know I'm so blessed to be where I am. So blessed to get to do what I love. So blessed to be surrounded by family.

Yep, I'm still claiming my age--and claiming that 32 is going to better than any year that's come before. And that requires some doing. ;-)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Team Roseanna - Sale Postables

Yeah, sure, let's make up a word. Postables. By my definition, those are things you can post on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.

If you missed the post last week, I asked for volunteers for Team Roseanna to help me spread the word about the sale on A Stray Drop of Blood. You can view that post here. As promised, here are graphics, tweetables, links, and more! Please feel free to grab anything you want, and thank you so much for helping me spread the word!

The sale begins TOMORROW, on August 14--which just so happens to be my 32nd birthday. It wasn't planned that way, but it was a God-wink moment (waving at Faith F.) when I got the schedule for WhiteFire's summer sales and saw that. =) If you would post beginning tomorrow and then throughout the weekend as you feel led, that would be incredibly awesome! Thanks!

Tweetables

#Sale! #AStrayDropofBlood by @RoseannaMWhite is only #99¢ for the weekend! http://bit.ly/StrayDrop

#BiblicalFiction by @RoseannaMWhite is on #sale for #99¢! http://bit.ly/StrayDrop

"Haunts you centuries beyond the last page." #AStrayDropofBlood by @RoseannaMWhite is only #99¢ for the weekend! http://bit.ly/StrayDrop

One little drop to soil her garment. One little drop to cleanse her soul. #AStrayDropofBlood is only #99¢ http://bit.ly/StrayDrop

Facebookables
(My Facebook profile name varies slightly from my Twitter handle)


#Sale! #AStrayDropofBlood by @RoseannaWhite is only #99¢ for the weekend! http://bit.ly/StrayDrop

#BiblicalFiction by @RoseannaWhite is on #sale for #99¢! http://bit.ly/StrayDrop

"Haunts you centuries beyond the last page." #AStrayDropofBlood by @RoseannaWhite is only #99¢ for the weekend! http://bit.ly/StrayDrop

One little drop to soil her garment. One little drop to cleanse her soul. #AStrayDropofBlood is only #99¢ http://bit.ly/StrayDrop

Links

Full Kindle Link: 


Short Link (Bitly):

Make it Your Own!

Don't feel obligated to use those exactly! If you've read A Stray Drop of Blood and would rather give a snippet of your opinion, that's even better. =D (Well, assuming your opinion of it is good. I'm going to assume that, otherwise you wouldn't be here helping me, LOL.)

Graphics


Monday, August 11, 2014

Word of the Week - Profanity & Cursing

 An always-hot topic in Christian writing circles is the use of foul language. Is it ever okay in Christian fiction? Some words? What about others? Why or why not?

I have my own opinions on such things--namely, I don't use "bad language" but see no point in getting up in arms about those who do--but I find some of the distinctions very interesting.

What I definitely take issue with is profanity. Profane comes directly from the Latin profanus, which means "unholy." Profanity obviously is taken from profane, and it speaks directly to abusing/misusing the name of the Lord. So your average expletive is not profanity. And in fact, the original English translations of the Bible include words that today's Christians would probably raise a few eyebrows at, LOL.

Expletive just means exclamation...cuss is a variation on curse...

So then I jump to curse, thinking surely that this word will provide some good meaning. But curse has its roots, oddly enough, in, you know, a curse. As in "a prayer that evil will befall one." That's not exactly what modern cursing is either, is it? LOL

Looking at the etymology of these words themselves, it seems that our notion of bad language has just evolved over the centuries. "Rough" or "impolite" terms have slowly taken on the blight of being "bad." From "bad" they have become "cursing and profanity"...though in reality, most of them I've ever heard have nothing to do with actual curses or profaning the name of the Lord.

I still don't say them, because connotation means as much as denotation. But looking at it logically, I think the only things that strictly fall under these definitions are using the Lord's name in vain and wishing somebody be damned. Which, oddly, are two of the more acceptable ones. Oh, the irony...

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Thoughtful About . . . Are We Slaves?

I've come across it in several places lately. Usually from women. Women who are tired, stressed-out, spread thin, and either at or "recovered from" their breaking points. Women who give and give and give. And who have reached the point where they're now saying, "Tend yourself first. Give yourself time. Then you'll be happier and better able to deal with your family. Take time for you."

Women who say their outlooks were ruined by that old JOY teaching--Jesus, Others, You. That it messed them up. Made them miserable. That it's too cliche, and that it instilled in them this thought that it's wrong to take care of themselves.

I've seen retreats for women all about taking that time for yourself and then emerging better able to tend those around you.

And it all sounds awesome--because yeah, I need "me" time. I need refreshing. I need renewing. I need time now and then away from the constant harangue of "MOMMY!" to focus on the Lord. Still, something about all this bothered me, even as I recognized the value. And I wasn't sure what it was. Then, as I edited WhiteFire's next title to come out next week, No Plan B: Discovering God's Blueprint for Your Life by Nelson Hannah, I started to put my finger on it. It combined in my mind with a sermon my dad recently preached at our church, and with the way my thoughts carried it out.

Everyone needs time of refreshing--I'm not taking issue with that, so please don't think I am. What I'm taking issue with is the attitude that serving others first is self-destructive. That if we do it, we'll be drained. We'll need that time of refreshing, because it takes it out of us. Yes, it does...

...but it shouldn't. Here's why.

We are not our own. We are God's. BUT--we're not slaves. We're not forced to do what he tells us. We're not forced to serve others. And if we think we are...well, that's a problem with our outlook, not with the practice. 

In Biblical days, there were two kinds of "slaves." (1) Slaves--captured or bought and not free to leave, ever. Their children are born slaves. Their children after them. Forever and ever amen. They must do what they're told or else. (2) Bondservants--willingly indentured to someone as a means of paying a debt, but offered their freedom after seven years. Bondservants, when released, were given gifts to assure them the chance to thrive in the world. They took out all they brought in (wives, children). And if they chose to stay out of love for their master, then they were bound by their own will forever to their master's house, giving up that will for their master's.

We are not slaves to God. We are bondservants, through Christ. Do you see the difference in what that means? God doesn't force us to come to him and do his will. But we, if we are Christians, choose it. We choose to forfeit--as in, give up, completely abandon, not just sign over for a certain day or decision--our will to his. We choose to give our whole lives to him. We choose his honor above our own.

We don't do what he instructs us because he said so and that's that--we do it because we love him. Not because we must, but because we desire to please him above all things. He is our Master...but because he loves us, he doesn't keep us in that position of servitude forever. He names us heirs. We still serve, yes, just as the disciples did, as Jesus himself did--but we don't serve as slaves. As bonservants, we have been given an inheritance (this happened frequently in Old Testament days especially--when no heir by blood was found, the most trusted servant would inherit).

We are not slaves. We are not slaves. We are not slaves. We do not have to serve others. But if we think we do...if we think it's compulsory...if we think God's standing there with a taskmaster's whip pointed at us, saying, "Go feed the hungry--now. Go make dinner for your kids--now. Go serve on all those committees at church--now." Well then, obviously we're going to get worn down. Worn out. Frayed. More, we're going to get resentful, because who likes to be treated like that? There's a reason slaves have revolted throughout history.

And there's a reason bondservants haven't. Because they chose their path. And they kept to it out of love. 

I love my Master, my Abba God. I want to please him. I want to listen to his voice above the whining of my own mind, above the limitations of my body. I want to put aside my fickle, foolish will and rely on his instead. I want to let go of the idea that I can do whatever I want and instead do what he tells me--he's so much wiser than I am! And I want the assurance that it doesn't matter if I'm weak...if I'm tired...if I'm burned out...if I don't have enough time...if I just can't.

I don't have to. That's the other brilliant epiphany of No Plan B. Even Jesus didn't do what he did under his own power. Not his human power, and not his power as God. If he had, it would mean nothing to us. Because our human bodies are limited, and we can never be God. If Jesus had acted from that, we couldn't be like him. But his every miracle was done through the Holy Spirit--whom he has imparted to us.

When I'm too tired to soothe one more tear, all I have to do is let the Spirit minister through me...and let me tell you from experience, when you do that, he ministers to you as well. When I'm at my wit's end, I don't need to rely anymore on my own mind--all I have to do is rely on his wisdom.

I chose to give my life, my heart, my will, my path, my every day, to the Lord. I chose to sign over my body, soul, and spirit to him. That means it's not just me inside me anymore. It's the Holy Spirit. He fills me. And if I just let him, he'll act through me. Speak through me. Fill me.

Fill me.

How can I say I'm worn out, if I'm operating under his strength? How can I say I feel drained, if I have the Lord of Hosts inside me? How can I say I can't, that I'm not, when I'm the daughter of I AM?

Yes, we need those times of renewal to focus on Him. He wants that for us, he gives that to us...as a gift. But no, we shouldn't ever "put ourselves first." Because we willingly gave that up when we accepted the Lord as our Lord. And frankly, it's thinking we should or can that makes us so unhappy. So when I'm feeling tired, weak, worn out, and discouraged, I'm not going to think I need... Instead, I'm going to crawl up into the lap of my Abba and let him take care of it. I don't need to go away. I don't need to focus on me. 

I need to focus on him.