Friday, December 31, 2010

My Friend Caprice - Interview & Giveaway

Today we have another book for you lovers of speculative fiction! And if you haven't already, check out the left margin for the authors coming to Writing Roseanna in 2011. Now let's give a big welcome to Caprice Hokstad, here to talk about her book Nor Iron Bars a Cage.

Caprice is offering a book to one lucky winner, so as always, leave your comments below with an email address!

~*~

About Nor Iron Bars a Cage

Slavery. Loyalty. Torture. Passion. Betrayal.

All the young outcast wanted was security in a world that destroyed her family and left her despised and ejected. Can the simple farmgirl find a new family through voluntary enslavement to the duke's household? Not if the prejudiced and conniving duchess has her way!

Crafted in a highly precise writing style so smooth it slips right from the page into your imagination, the fantastical story world of The Duke's Handmaid examines timeless social issues that inform global justice today.

~*~

About Caprice

Caprice is a stay-at-home-mom from southern California. She currently lives with her husband, three children, a dog, a cat, two rats, a leopard gecko, and a tankful of guppies—all in a mobile home.


~*~

Thanks for visiting, Caprice! (Love your name, by the way.) What's your latest book?

Nor Iron Bars a Cage released from Splashdown Books on November 1, 2010.

It sounds great! What do you hope your readers will get out of the story?

Strength isn’t always physical. Selflessness and service are admirable qualities.

Something I've been contemplating lately too. Now, I just refered to this as "speculative," because it encompasses it all. But what would you call your genre and subgenre? Are there reasons behind it?

Fantasy is the main genre. Any further classification gets dicey. I call my subgenre “Sword Opera” because it’s not typical fantasy with a quest. It’s akin to space opera (e.g. Star Wars) where it’s more about episodes or adventures in the lives of characters.

Oh, fun! See, I knew there would be some interesting classification going on. ;-) What are you reading right now—and what do you want to read next?

I am currently reading Tales of the Dim Knight by Adam and Andrea Graham and I want to read Undersea Colonies (nonfiction) by Dennis Chamberland next.

Hey, the Grahams will be on here soon too! =) What would your dream office look like—and what does your REAL writing environment look like?

A dream office would have a door that locked me inside, was soundproof, and came with a babysitter OUTSIDE. A desktop computer and a nice clicky keyboard would be wonderful too. Instead, I have to make-do with a laptop on a TV tray in a very noisy living room, open to constant interruptions.

LOL. I need a twin office to that! Babysitter--that's a great feature. Is there any one thing or reference you keep handy when writing? Anything you kept around for this particular book?

I always use a Word Menu, dictionary, and thesaurus. For fantasy, I have books about medieval and Renaissance period so I can look up what they called everyday objects.

Cool to know! What lessons have you learned through the publication process that you wouldn't have guessed as a pre-published writer?

That storytelling is a LOT more important than writing skill. People will overlook all kinds of mechanical flaws if they love the story. Unfortunately, I started with a lot more writing skill than storytelling skill.

Then we just have to work at getting both, eh? LOL. How have you dealt with rejection in the past?

Lots of crying and depression, thanks for asking! You just have to accept that as part of the deal. After I collected rejections for several years, I was faced with either throwing the manuscript in a drawer to rot, or self-publishing. I’m not especially proud that I self-published, but if I hadn’t got it out there somehow, I never would have found an independent publisher.

Funny how that works sometimes, isn't it? Career choices like that are hard, but we have to remember that the Lord has a path for each of us. It might not be what we wish for, but He's full of surprises! So what's your advice to aspiring authors?

Keep your day job. Try to think of writing as a hobby if you possibly can. It’s a lot more fun and less frustrating that way.

Aside from writing, what takes up most of your time?

Raising children.

And boy is THAT a job! ;-) Something you reckon not many people know about you?

I can recite “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” by Dr. Seuss, from memory.

My favorite line from that "in their homes where the Whos lay asnooze in their beds." Love the mid-line rhyming! Well, and the line about stuffing himself up the chimbly, to rhyme with nimbly. =) Next! If someone were to give you $5,000 to spend on anything you wanted, what would you buy? (No saving or gifts to charities allowed!)

A cruise in the South Pacific. I try not to think about it because I know it isn’t going to happen.

What are you writing right now?

Fanfiction for the old TV show, SeaQuest DSV

SeaQuest!! I haven't seen that in forever. Any upcoming releases we should keep our eye out for?

If Nor Iron Bars a Cage does well with readers, then I will be writing the third book of the trilogy in the very near future.

~*~

Thanks for visiting, Caprice! Readers, you can check out her website at http://www.Latoph.com. Look for her book at Splashdown Books--or get signed copies from CrossPurposes!

Void where prohibited. Entry into the contest is considered verification of eligibility based on your local laws. Chance of winning depends on number of entries. Contest ends 1/6/11. Winner will have two weeks to claim prize.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Thoughtful About . . . Resolving Early

Once upon a time, I was a New Year's Resolution girl, back in the day when I had nothing but time in which to contemplate this stuff, and diaries to write it in. My first real set was when I was 13--I resolved to finish the novel I was working on, and I did.

So along with writing new resolutions on Jan 1, I would take Dec 31 to look back at my past resolutions and examine how I did, to look over the year as a whole. This was even more fun than coming up with new resolutions.

I didn't write any resolutions down last year (or for countless years before that), but I still like to look back over the past year as it comes to an end. This last one was rather interesting. Speaking professionally, I experienced some unexpected shifts. I was encouraged to write a second Biblical fiction, which I hadn't planned on doing back in January. Follow-ups with editors at major houses led to a lot of proposal requests. I went from not knowing what project to work on, what was next for me, to having a release scheduled for Jan 3, 2011, and another in the works for 2012. Plus with WhiteFire expanding, that's a whole new level of, er, newness as we find other authors to work with.

Speaking personally, it was also a year of change. I took the plunge into homeschooling, and discovered how rewarding (and occasionally frustrating, LOL) it can be to share that with Xoe. We watched Rowyn grow from toddler interested only in Mickey Mouse to a little boy wild over anything with wheels. This has also been a year when I realized my sanity is a lot more secure with regular, if brief, breaks from my precious little kiddos. ;-) Special thanks to the grandmothers for watching them now and then and giving me the time I need to recharge--by writing, LOL.

I'm still probably not going to write down resolutions, but I've already started some of the things I want to improve on this year. I've started exercising again (ugh), and have started prayer journaling. I've toyed with it throughout the year (both, LOL, but primarily the journaling), but never kept it up for various reasons. Both my mom and grandmother got me beautiful journals for Christmas though, and nothing inspires me like a beautiful journal. So since Christmas, I've been starting each morning by reading a bit in my Bible and then journaling.

Here's why I like it. With two small kids and no guaranteed quiet time, having a time for praying just doesn't always happen. I try. I do. But it often sounds something like, "Dear Lord, thank you for--"

"Mommy! I need you!"

"Just a minute, please. Lord, I thank you for my beautiful family and--"

"Mommy, he's hitting me!"

"Mommy, Xoe take my toy!"

"Dear Lord . . . what was I saying?"

Focusing was always a challenge, and half the time I forgot what in the world I was trying to pray about. With journaling, I'm writing it all down, so when I lose focus, I can get it back very easily by rereading my last sentence. Ah, writing. (Which is, of course, its own reason for me to do it this way.) 

Another thing I love about it is that it's a record, so you can go back days, weeks, months, even years later and see how the Lord has answered your prayers. When I've done journaling in the past, that was what I loved most about it. In looking back, I would discover things I'd prayed about that I'd totally spaced after a while, but which I could then see that God had faithfully answered. Pretty cool!

Oh, another quick, cool idea someone on one of my writing loops mentioned a couple years ago. Rather than making resolutions, they ask the Lord for a word each year, one word that they are to live up to, strive to achieve, or which will be important that year. I'm asking the Lord for a word for 2012 too. =)

So while I may not be making traditional resolutions, I've already seized the spirit of the thing. How about you? Do you write resolutions, or maybe set goals? What's the one thing you want to work on this year? Or the one word the Lord has given you?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Remember When . . . Washington Resigned?

I just got to a crucial part of my Annapolis book--George Washington just resigned his commission before congress and declared that he would be a private citizen from here on out. The date was 23 December 1783, and no one knew at the time that a few short years later, he would be the first President of the United States. At that time, on that day, they saw only that the most influential man in the nation was handing over the key to total power and opting for private life. They saw only that a man so deserving was also so humble as to refuse what was offered him.

Because the speech is simply amazing, I'm going to post it, along with the response from the president of Congress.

"Mr. President,

"The great events on which my resignation depended having at length taken place, I have now the honor of offering my sincere congratulations to Congress, and of presenting myself before them, to surrender into their hands the trust committed to me and to claim the indulgence of retiring from the service of my country.
"Happy in the confirmation of our independence and sovereignty, and pleased with the opportunity afforded the United States of becoming a respectable nation, I resign with satisfaction the appointment I accepted with diffidence; a diffidence in my abilities to accomplish so arduous a task, which, however, was superseded by a confidence in the rectitude of our cause, the support of the supreme power of the Union and the patronage of Heaven.

"The successful termination of the war has verified the most sanguine expectations; and my gratitude for the interposition of Providence and the assistance I have received from my countrymen increases with every review of the momentous contest.
"While I repeat my obligations to the army in general, I should do injustice to my own feelings not to acknowledge in this place the peculiar services and distinguished merits of the gentlemen who have been attached to my person during the war. It was impossible the choice of confidential officers to compose my family should have been more fotunate. Permit, me, Sir, to recommend in particular those who have continued in the service to the present moment as worthy of the favorable notice and patronage of Congress.

"I consider it an indispensable duty to close this last act of my official life by commending the interests of our dearest country to the protection of Almighty God and those who have the superintendence of them to His holy keeping.

“Having now finished the work assigned me, I retire from the great theater of action, and bidding an affectionate farewell to this August body under whose orders I have so long acted, I here offer my commission, and take my leave of all the employments of public life.”

General Mifflin, the president of Congress, replied in a speech thought to be penned by Thomas Jefferson,

"The United States in Congress assembled receive, with emotions too affecting for utterance, the solemn resignation of the authorities under which you have led their troops with success through a perilous and doubtful war."

A woman of Annapolis wrote, "I think the world never produced a greater man and very few so good." I can't help by agree with her.

(The painting is the famed General George Washington Resigning His Commission by Trumbull. He painted it years after the fact and inserted a few historic figures that weren't there, basing his design upon other paintings he had done of said figures. In itself a subject worthy of a post, but you know. I won't bore you.)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Story Time . . . The Read and Share Bible

A couple weeks ago I got an email from a publicist working with Thomas Nelson Publishers, asking if I'd be interested in receiving the Read and Share Bible for review. I quickly agreed. With two small children, I definitely want to be sure to give them a Biblical grounding. But I confess it--we often give up on Bible stories because I just despise the way some books tell them. I mean, I get leaving things out, even highlighting things not mentioned, but can they please refrain from mangling facts??

Yesterday Read and Share Bible arrived, and I was excited to bring it to our book time last night. This is going to be only a first impression, of course, but I have to say that thus far I'm thrilled with what I've seen.

Though arranged in short, punchy stories told along with colorful pictures, the voice is approachable and fun, and there are prompts at the bottom of each page--not things that take you out of the flow, but which look forward to the next part of the story, like, "Uh-oh, things are about to get wet!" or "Do you know how long it rained?"

I'm looking forward to reading more with my kiddos each night. Yesterday they responded actively and with excitement to the storytelling and illustrations, and I think this will be a good way to give them that grounding I want to provide. Sure, there are stories not included (no Cain and Able, for instance) and details excluded (it doesn't actually say the flood killed all the bad people), but as a way to introduce the most familiar stories, this is the best I've seen--and I've got a pretty wide selection of Bible story books lying around my house.

Happy 4th day of Christmas, everyone! Hope your Tuesday is bright and cheerful!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Happy 3rd Day of Christmas!

Is anyone else having a tough time wrapping their minds around the idea that it's MONDAY again? As in, a work day? My hubby has to get back to the normal grind today, and I finally realized at almost 8 that, gee, I guess I should blog. Sheesh.

But you know, I have a very traditional excuse for my forgetfulness. In these modern times we tend to put all the hype before Christmas, so that there's all this build-up and then--THEN--it's over. Kaput. The kids are left looking around with dazed eyes and that "what just happened" expression, muttering over and over again, "Where are my presents? Are there more presents?" They just can't quite grasp this explosion of stuff that happens one day a year.

Makes me wish we still celebrated the 12 Days of Christmas in this day and age, drawing out the giving and holiday spirit after Christmas Day. Wouldn't it be great if our Savior's birth were the start of something in our celebration, instead of the end of it??

I think so. And so maybe I'll embrace that as much as possible in our house. I can't exactly tell my hubby he shouldn't work (oh, but if we could pull that off!), but I want to savor the joy of the season this year. I want to forget about schedules and obligations and bask in the glory of that little baby coming, with such a great commission over him already. I want to contemplate the miracle of God becoming man. I want to bring my gift before the Christ child and offer him all I am, all I dream, all my heart.

It took the magi years to get to Jesus with their gifts. In my mind, that means that Christmas and all it represents is a process. Giving our best to Him is a journey. Let's start on it now and pray this coming year is one of total surrender to our Lord and King.

Enjoy the continuation of the Season, everybody!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Thoughtful About . . . Those Christmas Gems from 2010

This is the first year that both my kids are old enough to get excited about Christmas, and I gotta say--it's making for some fun memories.

The first bit of fun was when I took Xoe out shopping. The purpose of the trip was actually to pick up curtains, but she spotted a Pillow Pet that was blue and asked if she could get it for Rowyn for Christmas. She then proceeded to find gifts for her cousins--small, but fun. I love that she's so in the spirit of giving. My MIL took the kids shopping for my hubby, and then my mom took them shopping for me. Xoe was very determined to choose each gift herself and a bit upset when my MIL selected the one for Papa--so she added some chocolates to it when out with my mom. =)
Last Friday when we stopped at the market, I asked David to take Rowyn down the toy aisle to pick out a gift for him to give Xoe while she went with me. Naturally, Rowyn in the toy aisle is hilarious. He kept going, "Rowyn likes trucks."
David: "Yes, but we're shopping for Xoe. What would Xoe like?"
Rowyn: "Rowyn likes trucks."
"What does Xoe like?"
Thinking . . . "Pink trucks?"
LOL. David laughed and said, "Do you see any pink trucks?"

Rowyn looked around for a minute and pointed at a big, red, remote-control monster truck. David put the nix on that one, and they eventually decided on a paint-it-yourself piggy bank. But we got a lot of laughs from our single-minded boy. (And some people dare to argue that girls and boys aren't just different?)

This was also the first year Xoe could write a letter to Santa. I told her she could only ask for one thing, so she deliberated very carefully before asking him for a pink ballerina princess costume with flowers on it, and ballerina shoes with ribbons. Complete with drawings. And after inquiring after the reindeer, of course. We took the letter to the post office, where they have a special "express delivery to the North Pole" box. She climbed the little stairs, opened the mailbox, put in her letter, and was oh-so-pleased. Then Rowyn said, "Where's my letter?" Um . . . yeah, we didn't help him write one. Given that, you know, he can't write. But as it turns out, he just wanted to climb the stairs and open the box. He didn't really care about having a letter to put inside. =) And then all evening he kept saying, "Where's Xoe's letter? In an airplane? Is it on Santa's sleigh now?" Very cute.

For our Christmas Eve service, we're going to be presenting gifts to the Christ child--our gifts being written on paper and delivered. The kids will have wrapped boxes to take him, and our little girls decided they MUST be angels. Xoe was very adamant about this, but also insisted Rowyn had to be something different. His choice? A turtle. There's nothing saying there were turtles in the stable, but hey. Why not? LOL.

I hope everyone else is having as fun a year as we are!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Remember When . . . Christmas Was Banned?

Yes, you read that title correctly. While researching Christmas traditions for my 1783 book, I came across information I may have heard before but obviously never paid attention to. ;-) Back in the day, in New England, celebrating Christmas was strictly forbidden. Why? Because English traditions for the holiday led to excessive drink and revelry, and that was a big no-no in Puritan society. So . . . sorry, folks. No mistletoe, no evergreens, no wassailing.

Luckily, my story takes place in good ol' Anglican Annapolis and Williamsburg, where the Yuletide season was still full of merry making. Whew! So I got to have a jolly good time exploring the traditions of Christmas that were around back in that particular day.

Christmas trees hadn't made it across the pond yet, but there would have been mistletoe hanging, evergreen  and holly boughs used for decoration, and food and drink aplenty. In the days before Christmas, the poor would have gone wassailing--going door to door with punch that the rich were pretty much obligated to buy. Mostly, this was a chance for the poor to come into the homes of the rich and get a few treats. Holiday parties were also expected to be public for a while, but eventually people stopped publishing their parties in the newspaper to avoid the drunken crowds mobbing them.

What, you wonder, would a typical Christmas look like in 1783 or so? Well, it would start with church. After that, the family would exchange a few gifts of toys or treats or books or the like, then have a feast of local delicacies. In Maryland and Virginia, this would have included oysters, crab dishes, ham, chicken, fruit in wine jelly, biscuits, minced pies, pound cakes, cordials, syllabub, eggnog, and more.

Now, folks back then really knew how to keep a celebration going--the Christmas season extended through New Years and into January. Traditionally it would have ended on the Epiphany (January 6), but folks had so much fun that the parties often extended through the end of the month.

So raise a glass to the good ol' days, sing a merry tune, and deck the halls with boughs of holly!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Winner!

And the winner of April Gardner's Wounded Spirits is . . .

Charlotte Kay! (chakasa58@ . . .)

Congrats, Charlotte! I'm emailing you now.

Story Time . . . For the Season

Every year, a whole new slew of Christmas books hit the shelves. Novels, gift books, inspirational non-fiction . . . you name it, you can find it.

Some years I'm reading Christmas books from September onward. Some years (like this one--sigh) I never get around to picking one up.

Last year my favorite novel for the theme was Loree Lough's Love Finds You in North Pole, Alaska. It wasn't only for Christmas, mind you, as the story spanned several months . . . but it was set in the town "where it's Christmas all year round!" so, you know. Excellent for the season. =)

Although I gotta say, my all-time favorite Christmas story is from that most excellent wordsmith, Dr. Seuss. How the Grinch Stole Christmas just can't be beaten. We've already read it several times this year, and I imagine we'll squeeze in a few more. =)

So how about you? What are you favorite books to settle down with this time of year?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Modern . . . Christmas Songs

Holiday spirit, you know. =)

Let's chat Christmas songs! (I totally stole this topic from my friend Carole of Sunnybank Meanderings. Thanks for the idea, Carole!!)

My all time favorite is Silent Night. The English translation came about in 1859, so, see, this is modern--it comes after my current historicals. ;-) I also adore O Holy Night, One Small Child, and What Child Is This?

If we're talking genuinely modern, then I gotta give a shout-out to Mary Did You Know, which is not only gorgeous, but has tingle-inspiring lyrics. I'm currently practicing this one to sing at our Christmas Eve service.

What are your favorite Christmas songs, be they hymns, modern takes, or featuring that jolly red elf?

Friday, December 17, 2010

My Friend Delia - Contest and Quick Look

Today I'm pleased to welcome Delia Latham to my blog. We're all so busy with the holiday season that today I'm just going to keep it short and simple. Below you'll find a message from Delia about her fantabulous giveaway package, a description of her latest book, Destiny's Dream, and a little teaser to get you hooked. =)

I haven't yet read this one (though I want to!!!!) but have read Delia's work before, and it was wonderful. I appreciate an author who can pack a punch of a story into a small amount of words--something I can NOT do! LOL. Delia has that gift, and you don't want to miss her wonderful romances!

And since today is the OFFICIAL RELEASE of Destiny's Dream, I feel super-privileged to get Delia over here today!!

I hope everyone's gearing up for a very Merry Christmas!

~*~

CONTEST:

The Daughters of Destiny contest will be underway as of December 1. In lieu of giveaways from blog to blog, I’m encouraging all of you to visit my contest page and take part in this giveaway. I also encourage you to tell your friends about it…and their friends…and theirs! J I have TWO absolutely stunning decorative bottles, AND a wonderful, aromatic anointing oil to go in them. The contest has two parts. One decorative bottle/anointing oil will be awarded in each part. There are ample opportunities build up your entries, so come on over and check it out!

Sounds great, Delia! (And oooh! A giveaway I can actually enter! LOL)

~*~

About Destiny's Dream

Is a little respect too much to ask at a parent’s funeral?

Apparently it is for Destiny May. Clay Gallagher is built like a small mountain and far more vocal than is fitting when he shows up late to her mother’s “going away party.” When it turns out he’s not even at the right funeral, Destiny demands retribution in the form of an escape from the day’s dreary proceedings. Spending time with a handsome stranger who makes her laugh is more therapeutic than fighting with her overbearing family.

Clay finds Destiny beautiful, charming...and intelligent. So why is she stubbornly determined to open a Christian dating service? Clay has little respect for such a frivolous profession, and doesn’t think the small, conservative town of Castle Creek will welcome such a progressive business. But when Destiny is threatened by an anonymous caller who deeply resents her and what she does for a living, Clay makes it his business to keep the saucy redhead out of harm’s way.

Trouble is, spending time in her company weakens his defenses, and Destiny may be the one thing Clay can’t escape...if he even wants to.

~*~

About Delia

DELIA LATHAM is a Christian wife, mother, grandmother, sister, and friend. While she considers each of these roles important ones, she treasures most of all her role as a child of the King and an heir to the throne.

A former newspaper staff writer, Delia promised herself a novel for years, while raising her four children, working at various jobs and writing the occasional article, poem, or song. She fulfilled that promise when Vintage Romance Publishing released Goldeneyes in 2008. A Christian historical romance with a touch of the divine, Goldeneyes is set in the farm country of the author’s childhood, and therefore close to her heart. In 2010, White Rose Publishing released Yesterday’s Promise in electronic format, and Destiny’s Dream in print and e-format. A children’s book will be available early in 2011.

Delia grew up in Weedpatch, a tiny agricultural community near Bakersfield, in California’s San Joaquin Valley. She and her husband Johnny recently transplanted from that area to Okmulgee County, Oklahoma.

Find out more at:





Destiny’s Dream is available at White Rose Publishing and Amazon.

~*~


Sneak Peak of Destiny's Dream


The dim porch light revealed her smile. “I had a wonderful evening, Gallagher. Thank you.”

Clay’s eyes were fixed on her lips. Could they possibly be as soft as they looked? With a monumental effort, he managed to tear his gaze upward, only to find her green eyes every bit as magnetic.

He tugged gently on a loose tendril of hair. “I’m glad, ma jolie dame. Maybe we can do it again?”

Lowering her gaze, she spoke so softly he almost missed it. “I’ll look forward to it, monsieur.”

Just when Clay thought he couldn’t resist at least a brush of those inviting lips with his own, Destiny’s spontaneous humor—apparently never far from the surface—prevented him from losing control. Her lips parted in an enchanting smile and she shrugged one shoulder. “I’m afraid that’s all the French I know, and I only learned it tonight.”

Clay chuckled. So now what? Should he just say good night and go? Should he kiss her?  Man, I can’t believe how much I want to kiss her. Shake her hand?

He settled for pulling her into a gentle hug, making it possible to drop a feather-light kiss onto her hair. I think I like you far too much, pretty lady. Grinning in the dusky darkness, he decided it was all right to say the words aloud. “Je crois que je vous aime bien trop, la jolie dame.” Stepping back, he took the key from her unresisting fingers and opened the door. With a final touch—the brush of a finger under her chin—he turned and walked away.

He almost reached his car door before she called out, just as he’d hoped she would. “Clay?”

He turned.

“What was it you said?”

He sent her a little grin he hoped was mysterious, raised a hand in farewell, then slid behind the wheel and drove away. A fellow had a right to keep a thing or two to himself.


If you want more, check it out at White Rose!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Winner!

And the winner of Grace Bridges' Legendary Space Pilgrims is . . .

Pegg Thomas! (twinwillowsfarm@ . . .)

Congrats, Pegg! I'm emailing you now.

Thoughtful About . . . The Struggle of Self

I've been having a bit of difficulty getting into my latest work-in-progress. Probably because it's been nine months since I wrote the first three chapters, and rather than day-dreaming about this one during those months, I was hard at work on Jewel of Persia. But this story is semi-under deadline, so I have to get working on it. Usually pressure gets my creative juices flowing, so I'm cool with that.

Except . . . well, it wasn't working that way. Every single page, every single chapter has felt like a struggle since I picked it up again, and I had no idea what I was going to do about it. I kept thinking, "If I could just get to this part over here, but how do I do that?"

Yesterday my hubby had to travel to Baltimore for the day, and my mom took the kids Christmas shopping in the morning. Knowing I was going to have a solid block of writing time, I got all set up at my desk, put my butt in the chair, and stopped. Pulled out my Bible, opened to Proverbs 16.
1 The preparations of the heart belong to man,
      But the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.
       2 All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes,
      But the LORD weighs the spirits.
       3 Commit your works to the LORD,
      And your thoughts will be established. . . .
and of course the ever famous verse 9 . . .
9 A man’s heart plans his way,
      But the LORD directs his steps. 

Had I dedicated this book to God? I know I'd prayed for the writing of it, that the words come. But somehow that didn't feel like enough yesterday. So yet again, I stopped. And I prayed that if I should write this book, that I write it the way the Lord wanted. That if this is to be the next step in my career, it be His step. That He would remove from me any motives not His own, and more specifically any ideas for the story that would not glorify Him.
Then I opened my eyes, and I wrote. I wrote 3,000 yesterday, which is by no means a record for me--but it's been MONTHS since I've written that much in a day. And oh, it felt so good. Not just because it was an accomplishment, but because I finally felt as though I were writing the right book . . . for the right reasons. And yet, my story ideas haven't really changed. The book didn't suddenly take an unexpected turn.

But I think maybe I did. I think maybe I turned that corner and stopped thinking, "I have to write this book to show it to the editor," and started thinking, "This story has potential and deserves to be told."

I asked the Lord to show me and help me pull out some of His Truths through the telling of this story, and now I have this peace inside promising that I will. What will they be? Well, I don't know yet. But I do know that I don't ever want to write a book without them. 

If this book ends up being the one that gets a contract with that major publisher it's aimed at, then wonderful. But if it doesn't . . . well I finally stopped thinking I'd be wasting my time on it if it doesn't. Now I'm eager to see what God has to teach me, and just maybe others, through its telling.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Remember When . . . The Church Got Interrupted?

So part of my Annapolis research involves the church my characters would have attended. There really isn't a whole lot of choice there--only one church existed in Annapolis at the time, and it was St. Anne's Episcopal. Very excited about that, my friend Kimberly and I went into the church last week, grabbed the historical brochure they have, and chatted with a few of the ladies preparing it for Christmas while we let our jaws drop at the glorious stained glass and majestic pipe organ.

Then, of course, we learned that the current building was actually the third St. Anne's Church to stand on the spot. Naturally, I needed the second. But I saw that the brochure had info on it, so I just tucked it away and enjoyed the building there now. It's truly lovely, and we enjoyed our ten minutes looking around the sanctuary.

Yesterday I finally read the brochure. I learned that right before the Revolution, it was decided that the first St. Anne's was far too small, so they tore it down to build a new one. Only, you know, war broke out. The materials got used for a fort instead (sheesh, what priorities;-). So where, you wonder, did the church meet, since the old one was already demolished?

For a while, at King William's School, which later became my alma mater, St. John's College. (Go, SJC!) But they outgrew that too, and moved to . . . the theater on West Street.

This made me grin, because I'd already discovered that a new theater was erected about a decade before drama was banned during the war. What, I had wondered, did they do with the building? Well, there's my answer. It got to be the church! Apparently for quite a while, since the second St. Anne's wasn't finished until 1792. That's nearly ten years when Church Circle sat without a church inside!

And boy am I glad I bothered to read that brochure, otherwise I would have had my heroine walking to said Church Circle instead of West Street here in a few days . . . ah, research. The things we discover. ;-)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Story Time . . . The Real-Life Princess by Rebecca Dunning

Well, I'm reviewing a children's book today. Partially because I need to write a review of it anyway, and partly because I haven't had time to read anything else in the past week or two. Or, when I have time, the energy. Anyhoo.

I received The Real-Life Princess from the author a while back, and my daughter was sooooo excited. At 5, she's enthralled with princesses, and the lovely illustrations drew her in right away. A story-within-a-story, this book starts out with Zoe twirling around in a princess ballerina costume, and her mommy offering to tell her a story about a real-life princess. So they settle on the couch together, and Mommy proceeds to tell about Michaela. Michaela grew up a poor, filthy servant, despised by all . . . but when the king spots her in a crowd one day, he asks her if she would like to be a princess.

Michaela says "Yes." And so begins the transformation, and the realization that she was made to be a princess all along. Just like, Zoe realized, we all can be if we say "Yes" to Jesus.

As an adult, I found the symbolism rather obvious and the logic of the story a bit bare, but I'm not the target audience, LOL. My daughter (thrilled from the start given that she shares a name with the little girl), loves this book. As in, she carries it over to me when I'm at my desk and nudges it over whatever I'm working on with an innocent bat of her eyes and her very sweetest, "Read it, please, Mommy? Read about the princess."

So we do, and it has the honor of being one of her favorites. Can't beat that, can you? And really, its message is one we all need to remember--that we all must make a choice. If we choose to turn our backs on the Lord, then we'll spend our lives in the same state we've been in. But if we choose to say, "Yes," then we'll be princes and princesses of Heaven.

*This book was provided free of charge from the author in exchange for a review.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Modern . . . Holidays

'Tis the season for pointed blog posts, right? =) I don't know about you, but my family's is full Christmas swing--the house is decorated, the tree is up (go, blue spruce!), gingerbread and chocolate chip cookies are baked.

This morning as I got up, bleary eyed (got a bit of a cold), and began contemplating what to blog about today, I started thinking about my characters, and wondering how they all celebrate Christmas.

One of my favorite contemporary characters, Louisa, didn't get to have Christmas on-page in her book, but I can well imagine the holiday at her family's oceanside inn. It would be decked out beautifully, with greens everywhere and a festive, elegant tree. Her 8-year-old twins would be tearing through the place with that unparalleled "we're off school!" excitement. Louisa would go about the holiday quietly, but with abundant laughs at her family's antics. She'd have selected gifts very carefully over the previous months, finding deals on those special things that will make her babies' eyes light up. And in the year my story about her takes place, Christmas will be even more special than usuall--it's the first year she and Rem are married, their family finally complete.

In the book currently called Love Me Silly, I actually end the book on Christmas in my epilogue. Heroine Davina has gotten red and green streaks in her hair for the holiday--and to annoy her oh-so-proper mother. ;-) Her family, along with hero Keaton's, always travels to the Big Bear Mountains for Christmas, and this year is no exception. Nestled cozily in an old-fashioned cabin (no doubt equipped with every possible convenience, mind you, just cleverly, expensively disguised to look old-fashioned, LOL), the families string popcorn and cranberries for the tree and revel in having everyone together again.

I don't imagine the plotline of Seized will stretch from May (where the action begins) to December, but I smile to think of Cantara's first real Christmas. She was Bedouin, you see, so wouldn't have celebrated Christmas growing up. And though villain Andre probably put on a good show for the occasion, where she would have been expected to appear in high fashion, it wouldn't have meant anything. But this year . . . this year she'll have a faith rooted in the coming of the Christ. This year she'll be surrounded by loving family for the first time. This year will be magical.

There are a ton of Christmas novels out there, of course, and I always enjoy diving into a few this time of year. Yet I've never written a story revolving around Christmas. Hmm, maybe one of these days I will!

Writers, how do your characters celebrate the holidays? Readers, what's your favorite Christmas-themed book? Do share!

Friday, December 10, 2010

My Friend April - Interview & Giveaway

Today I'm tickled to welcome my friend April Gardner to my blog, to talk about her new release, Wounded Spirits. I had the pleasure of endorsing this book, and oh, what a treat! I've long loved stories that involve Native Americans, and April's story took me back to the days when I read every book on the subject I could find.

April has graciously offered a copy of Wounded Spirits to one lucky reader. As always, leave a comment to enter, and be sure to include an email address. And click "Follow" if you haven't already. ;-)

~*~

About Wounded Spirits
On the frontier, Adela McGirth’s life is simple, rugged, and exactly to her liking. Her greatest concern is whether to marry the settlement’s most eligible young officer. When a distant war among the Natives spills over into a nearby skirmish, life takes a perilous turn.

Deep in enemy territory Adela must choose between the man she loves and a baby that has yet to be born; will she be strong enough to wait on God's provision?

A peace-loving yet loyal Creek warrior, Totka is forced to align with the extremist Red Stick faction whose purpose is to eradicate the Whites from Creek soil. In the midst of battle, Totka is assigned to protect those he is expected to hate--and kill. Life was simpler before his enemy became a beautiful face with a quiet strength and dignity he cannot resist.

Having lived a life plagued with death and loss, Zachariah McGirth is a man on a mission - he'll have his revenge or die trying. Blinded by grief, he can't see his way clear of yet another tragedy. Why has God taken everything from him...or has He?

Their lives molded by the course of history, can these Wounded Spirits learn to rely on God's grace during one of the bloodiest conflicts in the South?

~*~

About April

A military spouse, April has performed the art of homemaking all over the world. Currently, she lives in Georgia with her children, while her husband serves a tour in the Middle East.  A home school mom, she fills her mornings talking fractions and phonics with her two sweet kiddos. In her free time, April enjoys reading, gardening, and DIY. In no particular order, she dreams of owning a horse, visiting all the national parks, and speaking Italian.

April writes a weekly homemaking column on the joint blog Reflections in Hindsight. She is also the founder and senior editor of Clash of the Titles. Wounded Spirits is her first published novel.

~*~

What's your latest book?

Wounded Spirits from Vinspire, November 2010.


And what a great story it is! What's your favorite part of it?

Like so many authors and their first books, I worked on Wounded Spirits for close to three years before I submitted the final round of edits to my publisher. But it wasn’t until the last weeks that I wrote my favorite part. My new editor suggested making a huge change in the book. I took her up on the challenge. In ten days, I switched the roles of a minor character and major character and virtually wrote in a whole new hero. In those ten days I fell head over heels in love with my Creek warrior, Totka. He’s reluctant to make war with the Whites, but it’s in the middle of a massacre where, with blood on his hands, he finds the white woman he can’t get out of his mind.

Let me just say I can't begin to imagine what this story was like without Totka in the hero's role! Oh, love that guy. What's your favorite genre to write? To read?

 Historicals!! Always, historical fiction. The more unique the setting and time period, the better. I think that’s why Wounded Spirits works. Few know about the Creek War or the largest massacre of Whites by Native Americans.

Fellow history buff here! And I loved learning about the Creek War from your book. Okay, now a slight change of topic. What are you reading right now—and what do you want to read next?
Right now, I’m reading, Courting Constance, a book by another Vinspire author, Teryl Cartwright. It’s really good! Set in the same years as Wounded Spirits, but takes place on the other side of the pond, in England.

Next up, is either Melanie Dickerson’s The Healer’s Apprentice or Sara Sundin’s A Memory Between Us. I’m having a hard time deciding which!

I've read them both--they're very different, but both sooooo good! Can't go wrong with choices like that. =) Next question. Aside from writing, what takes up most of your time?
Parenting! I home school my kids, so they’re always around needing to be…well, parented. I often think of how much more writing I could accomplish if I put my kids in school, but God hasn’t released me to do that yet. Until then, writing takes second place to my kids. Which is really how it should be anyway.

I know exactly what you mean. With ya there. Okay, onto the fun, frivolous question. ;-) If someone were to give you $5,000 to spend on anything you wanted, what would you buy? (No saving or gifts to charities allowed!)
I would tile my kitchen and bathrooms. This horrid linoleum has GOT to go. With the leftover money I’d save from my DIY tile project (DIY rocks!), I’d buy my husband a new desktop. Sorry, hun, but this 6 yo dino has seen better days.

LOL. What writing goal have you set for yourself that would be the hardest (or unlikeliest) but most rewarding to achieve?
I dream of seeing my book on the front cover of CBD’s fiction catalogue. So that’s my goal, and I actually have it written down to be accomplished before the end of 2013. Get back with me then, and I’ll let you know if God’s goals for me lined up with my own. ;-)

So noted. ;-) What are you writing right now?

Right now, I’m writing Warring Spirits, the sequel to Wounded Spirits. It has a really different feel from Wounded Spirits. Smaller scale, more character driven versus plot driven, less action, more romance. It’s different! A good kinda different. I’m likin’ like.

I’m also editing a middle grade WWII novel that I’m hoping to see published one day.

Thanks for having me, Roseanna, and for being a fan of Wounded Spirits. I’ll be around today if anyone wants to leave a question or comment.

~*~

So glad to have you, April! Readers, you can check out her website at www.aprilgardner.com and her blog at www.aprilwgardner.blogspot.com. Look for her book on Amazon, or a signed version at CrossPurposes!

Void where prohibited. Entry into the contest is considered verification of eligibility based on your local laws. Chance of winning depends on number of entries. Contest ends 12/16/10. Winner will have two weeks to claim prize.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Thoughtful About . . . Santa Claus

Do you believe in Santa?

I still do. Well, I mean, I don't expect a mountain of presents under my tree from a jolly old elf. But I still believe in the idea of Santa Claus, in the ideal of Santa Claus. I still believe in that magical something that surrounds this most blessed season and finds a symbol in that red-clad, generous man.

But when it came to what to tell my kids about Santa, I hemmed and hawed for years. Part of it was pure selfishness on my part--I put a lot of effort into gift-selection, and I didn't want to share the credit with an anonymous stranger! But more than that, my kids already have SO MUCH STUFF. I really didn't want to introduce a free ticket for more. Christmas morning at our house finds the kids with enough, but not a ton of present. Usually 5-7 each, plus stocking. We keep it small deliberately, because once the grandparents add their gifts to the day . . . yeah, not so small anymore.

And in years past, the kids never really noticed whether something was from us or Santa. But this year--boy howdy. Xoe has been asking me since summertime why Santa doesn't come to our house (and she was a little upset about it). She asked, "Is Santa real?"

Argh. I understand the whole "I don't want to lie to my kids" dilemma about Santa. But . . . I love Santa stories. So I replied, "What do you think?" Xoe: "He's real! So why doesn't he bring me presents?" In my oh-so-quick-thinking, I informed her that I told Santa not to bring anything until she could ask for something in particular, because there were so many less fortunate kids out there who needed him to brighten their day.

Naturally, this year she wanted to write a letter to Santa. But I still didn't want this to be a ticket to unnecessary free stuff, so I told her she could only ask him for one thing. Just one, so to consider carefully. And then I told her we were going to help Santa out by buying a toy for a toy drive. Then I bought a book that explains who Saint Nicholas actually is, and why he's a part of Christmas.

Xoe considered very carefully, for weeks, and wavered back and forth about what she wanted to ask him for. She eventually decided on a princess ballerina costume, with shoes that have ribbons. And a tiara, of course. She wrote him a very sweet, polite letter (complete with asking after the reindeer, LOL), and drew him a picture on the back so he'd know exactly what this costume should look like.

Is my balance Right? Is my decision on how to handle things Good? How's a parent ever to know? But when I updated my hubby on the conversations Xoe and I had had on the subject, he looked genuinely impressed. And when we took Xoe's letter to be mailed, there was such light in her eyes that I knew it wasn't just about the costume for her. It was about believing.

And I think maybe I haven't handled this so terribly after all. My little girl made a conscious decision to believe--and it means more to her because of that.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Remember When . . . The Street Was Empty?

I had great fun this past weekend exploring Historic Annapolis with my friend Kimberly. I left the kids with David and her hubby Martin and we headed into the ever-lovely historic district, armed with a digital camera, a notebook, and a spirit of adventure.

Okay, so my camera battery died within fifteen minutes (I charged it, I swear I did! LOL), but the pen survived just fine, so it was cool. ;-) And a trifle cold, but we were well wrapped.

It was honestly a blast to play tourist in the town we'd lived in for years, to be one of those annoying camera- toting pedestrians who didn't know where we were going, rather than a native on a mission to get from Point A to Point B. We started out at the Visitor's Center, of course, and loaded up on brochures that probably won't be all that helpful. The highlight there, though, was a 3-D model/map of the town, color-coded by what era each building was built in. Now that is a great way to see how little was there at the time!

Of course, there was track-lighting, and trying to get pictures proved a work in glare-dodging. =) Luckily, Kimberly knows how to do all those fancy photographer things, like playing with exposure and stuff. I think we got some decent shots.

After that I decided I should figure out where the house is that my heroine's staying at. One problem . . . the street I'd put her on is kinda occupied by the governor's mansion. Um . . . hmm. It wasn't there at the time, I know--but what was? Well, so far as I can tell, not a whole lot. So I think it's fairly safe to insert a couple random houses. Like, say, one on the left side that would give that oh-so-perfect view of the Liberty Tree. =)

The next highlight was plotting the heroine's escape route from the State House down to the bay. Oh, fun. And oh, the looks we got as we stood there going, "Well she couldn't run that way, she'd have to dodge all those little outbuildings. And if he's following her, she'll just take the quickest way she can . . ."

I love being a writer. =)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Last Day!

Well, today's the last day of the book signing. All those hours of preparation, all those days of book sales, are drawing to a close. Have you found that perfect Christmas gift for the booklover in your life yet? Or for yourself? Well get thee over to the CRoB!

No, I didn't really intend to make that my entire post for the day, but we're having water issues here--one of the pump thingies isn't pumping drained water up to where it's supposed to, which means all drained water is instead streaking across our basement floor, aimed at the drain there. So not right. I have been forbidden to use any water other than the toilet and bathroom sink. And given that I'm really not in the mood for "bathing" in my sink, I need to get my kiddos out the door here very soon so I can go beg a shower off my mother.

Sigh.

Yeah, so if you want to pray this water thing is an inexpensive fix (you know, the kind that DOESN'T require digging up the yard or anything) and an easy one, too, that would be awesome.

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Modern . . . Gets Put on Hold

Whenever I sit down on Monday mornings lately, I have an internal debate. What do I really have to write about right now that's on contemporaries? Sure, I have a slew of them written, but they're not in my thoughts. And which one should I talk about this time? My beach books? My romantic suspense? What??

Well, today I'll just talk about my thoughts on the matter, which are spurred from two separate friends/family members asking this past week, "When do I get to read Seized? Every time you mention it, it intrigues me."

To which I reply, "Whenever I finish it."

Sigh. I can write quickly--really I can. But I still have to have the time in general, and at this point all my time's going to historicals that, you know, actually have the promise of being published. So . . . yeah. Seized is put on hold. Though as soon as I have no deadline looming over me on Jewel of Persia  and my Annapolis story, you can bet I'll be going back to it.

But I've definitely come to appreciate a few things about contemporaries while writing all these historicals. Case in point--I spent my weekend in Annapolis, so I went downtown and plotted out my heroine's escape route through the city, etc. Very handy . . . except that most of the buildings here now weren't here then. I'm pretty lucky when it comes to Annapolis--it's such a historical tourist town that even the street signs have dates on them, and there are plaques on each corner saying who bought and built what when. Still. One major plus of researching a place for a modern story is that what you see is what you need.

Anyway. There are my thoughts this morning. Hopefully not too dull. ;-)

Now, quick reminder--there are only TWO DAYS left in the online book signing. TWO DAYS! Tomorrow it closes, so you'd better hurry yourself over to www.ChristianReviewofBooks.com and make up your minds about what books you want! =)

Winner!

And the winner of Alice K. Arenz's Mirrored Image is . . .

Charlotte Kay! (chakasa58@ . . .)

Congrats, Charlotte! I just sent you an email.

Friday, December 3, 2010

My Friend Grace - Interview & Giveaway

Today I'm pleased to welcome Grace Bridges to my blog to talk about her latest speculative fiction, Legendary Space Pilgrims. A fun deviation from most of the books I've featured, and I hope you like it, because Grace is kicking off a slew of interviews with her fellow spec-fic writers from Splashdown books. =)
 
Grace is offering a copy of her book to one lucky reader, so as usual, leave your comment below with an email address for a chance to win!


~*~
 
About Legendary Space Pilgrims

If Pilgrim's Progress happened in space, this is what it might look like...
On a planet that has never seen the sun, a harvester hears a Voice from beyond. It's time to leave the oatfield. Mario and Caitlin escape the mind control of Planet Monday, following the Voice to unknown worlds where wonders and challenges await. Have you got what it takes...to be a legend?

~*~

About Grace

Often found staring into trees in search of a tui. Mystic wordnerd. Independent friend. Urbanite hermit. Beachwalker. Head in clouds. Literary. Likes to sleep.

~*~

Hi, Grace! Good to have you here. What's your latest book?

Legendary Space Pilgrims  from Splashdown Books. It released in July 2010.

What's your favorite part of the story?

I have lots of favourite parts, but one of the most intense takes place between the two main characters in a glade of blood-red flowers on the fifth planet they visit on their journey. They had believed it was their final destination, but this incident makes it clear that it's not: they must go on to find their true calling.

Ah, the unexpected. That's always fun. (And y'all, note her way of spelling "favourite." Grace is visiting us all the way from New Zealand, so she gets extra points for coolness;-) What was the hardest part to write?

All of it? LOL. Writing is mostly like pulling teeth for me.

=) Hopefully you didn't end up toothless. ;-) What do you hope your readers will get out of the story?

A sense of wonder at the world around us, perhaps seen through the eyes of someone totally unfamiliar with the variety and freedom we enjoy.

Oh, neat.  Is there a theme to this book?

It's a journey from oppression to freedom, with all the inherent emotional tangles and cultural shocks—and more: to then be chosen for a unique task.

What's your favorite genre to write? To read?

Science fiction on both counts. There's nothing like it for expanding the imagination.

Very true. My hubby's favorite author has always been Orson Scott Card, and so I had to expand my horizons and read a bunch of sci-fi just to keep up with him. =) What are you reading right now—and what do you want to read next?

Some older stuff by Timothy Zahn that I picked up at the library. After that, I have a whole stack, including Jeffrey Overstreet, Randy Ingermanson, and Karen Hancock.

Nice stack! Okay, let's move on to one of my fun, frivolous questions. ;-) If someone were to give you $5,000 to spend on anything you wanted, what would you buy? (No saving or gifts to charities allowed!)

A stereo, and some furniture—most of mine is borrowed. And probably a road trip holiday around New Zealand. It's my backyard, and my car drinks diesel, so that'd be pretty cheap!


I would so love to visit New Zealand sometime. From what I've seen it's just breathtaking. Ahhhh. Anyway.  What are you writing right now?

Comet Born, a superhero serial appearing monthly at Digital Dragon magazine. Lots of fun!
And still slogging away on Godspeed, which is the sequel or companion volume to Faith Awakened, my first release.

Oh, a serial does sound like fun! Any upcoming releases we should keep our eye out for?

CyberDublin is finished but still very much a first draft. Perhaps it might be ready by next year. It's a near-future tale of what might happen in Ireland if everything ran on the Internet—and then crashed. Complete with plenty of Irish humour. I actually got to write it in Ireland.

Well, can't beat that! Is there another author who has greatly influenced your writing?

Lots! Stephen Lawhead, with his amazing emotion-wrenching descriptions; Frank Creed and Jeremy Robinson with their movie-like visual action styles; and of course C.S. Lewis, especially his imaginative Space Trilogy.

~*~

Thanks for visiting, Grace! Readers, you can check out her website at www.gracebridges.com. Look for her book at Splashdown Books--or get signed copies from CrossPurposes!

Void where prohibited. Entry into the contest is considered verification of eligibility based on your local laws. Chance of winning depends on number of entries. Contest ends 12/9/10. Winner will have two weeks to claim prize.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thoughtful About . . . The Zox Box

When Xoe was a year old, her grandfather came in for Christmas (he lives in South Caroline) and brought his new girlfriend--a super-sweet woman who was very excited to meet Bill's granddaughter. They came armed with gifts. Lots of them.

The prettiest? A gorgeous little white box with rhinestone accents and silver flourishes, with a mirror on the top--perfect for a little girl to store her treasures as she grows up. I knew the moment I glimpsed it that Xoe would come to love this box. But for some reason, Glenda handed it over with a funny expression.

"I'm so sorry," she said as we unwrapped it. "The name's misspelled."

I glanced at the top of the box, where the mirror was engraved with . . . Zox?

Glenda shook her head. "It was an elderly woman working, and she just couldn't wrap her mind around the name. We said 'It's Zoe, but with an X.' So we left while she engraved and came back to this. We didn't have the heart to yell at her about it, but we'll get it fixed.'"

Well, as things often happen when folks live states upon states away, we never got it fixed. Instead, we shared a laugh with them then (Zoe with an X . . . yeah, I totally think "Zox" when I hear that, don't you? Snicker, snicker), and I put the box on the vanity beside one of mine.

For a long while, Xoe obviously didn't realize there was anything wrong with the box. We put in it the money she got for holidays, her special necklaces and barrettes and bracelets, the beads from a very pretty bracelet that broke. Treasures.

Then one day, after Xoe had learned to spell her name, she was looking at the box and asked, "Mommy, what does this spell?"

So I told her the story of "Zoe with an X" and how now she has a Zox Box.

As lovers of all things Seuss, this became special and cute and quirky in our family. Now whenever Xoe comes across a dollar, she rushes to put it in her Zox Box. When she gets a special new necklace, she lifts that mirrored lid and slides it inside. She makes up songs about it.

The life lesson is probably obvious, right? So often things don't work out the way we want them too, things get "ruined." But who's to say "ruined" isn't right? Would a Xoe Box have been special? Well, sure. But anyone can get a box with their name on it. How many little girls have a Zox Box?

Mine does. And I love that she cherishes it. Makes me want to be careful to cherish those "ruined" things just as I do the things that turn out "right."

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Remember When . . . History Was Approachable?

I think I was awake more than I was asleep last night, so my brain power is seriously wanting right now. Usually I'd still be able to come up with something fun in the history category, but my historical thoughts are totally occupied, right now, but an upcoming trip.

I'm going to Annapolis on Friday!

I know, I know--this isn't all that unusual, and not that big a deal. Annapolis is only 2.5 hours away, we have friends still in that area . . . visiting isn't exactly abnormal. But this time I'm visiting while writing a book set there. This time, I'm going to head downtown and play tourist. I'm going to going sightseeing, visit all the historical spots I always ignored as a resident.

Yes, I'm going to be armed with a camera and a notebook, and I'm going to have a blast!

I think this is especially exciting for me because it's the first time I get to visit a place for research like this. Pathetic, huh? ;-) That's what happens when one writes about Persia, Rome, and even England and Monaco, when one has no travel budget, LOL. Okay, so I've visited the Outer Banks while writing about them, but that was more coincidence then design. This is actually planned.

So, that's my excitement. And all the thought I'm capable of before coffee. And possibly before a nap on this rainy, rainy day. Hope everyone has an excellent Wednesday!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Story Time . . . Surrender the Heart by MaryLu Tyndall

Baltimore, 1812--people are getting fed up with Americans being impressed into the British navy, and the grumblings are of war. Marianne Denton loves her country--and hopes she can somehow find a way to fund a privateer to both help in the war effort and provide for her sick mother and small sister. Their father left them with a stack of debt, and Marianne can't access her inheritance until she weds.

Hence her betrothal to the awful Noah Brenin. She wants nothing more than to get out of the engagement--but as it is the only way to afford the medicines her mother needs, she intends to see it through. At least until the careless man walks out on their engagement party, saying he must set sail straight away. Furious at the spectacle he has made of them, Marianne storms after him, all the way to the harbor and its menacing dark waters. All the way onto his ship.

Noah Brenin has no use for the high-and-mighty Marianne who was always obnoxious in her wealth. Their fathers arranged the betrothal for obvious reasons--his wants her dowry, and hers knew no other man would ever come forward for the plump, unpleasant girl. But if he can get his cargo to England straightaway, he'll make enough profit that he won't need her wealth--and he'll be able to end the engagement. He doesn't believe for a moment that they'll soon be at war with the British, or that the British are really doing the monstrous the things others say.

At least, he doesn't believe it until a British man-of-war comes after his ship. Unable to get away, thanks to the stowaway Miss Denton and her nefarious schemes, he finds himself impressed--and his betrothed with him.

Only under the darkest of circumstances can both face their fears, and come to see the truth about one another. Only through pain and trial do they come to realize that faith is not about seeing evidence of God, but rather about hoping in those unseen things. And that He intends for them something great--something that could change the course of history.

MaryLu Tyndall never ceases to amaze me. I was intrigued right away, not only because of the awesome premise of the book, but because I loved the fact that her characters despised one another at first. Both found the other totally obnoxious--and both had good reason for their opinions, though they were all rooted in the past. I loved seeing how Marianne and Noah had grown and changed over time, and how their spirits shone through the circumstances as the unthinkable befell them.

As always, this author delivers adventure and romance on the high seas, with a knowledge of all things marine that makes it clear she knows her stuff without overwhelming the reader. She does a wonderful job of painting the horrors surrounding the War of 1812 without making all the British out to be monsters. And also as always, there is a touch of the supernatural within to leave the reader warm and fuzzy with how our awesome Father looks after us.

I have adored MaryLu's previous books, but I must say that Surrender the Heart is my new favorite. You just can't beat characters unaware of their own worth, an unparalleled romance, and the action I have come to expect from MaryLu. I am eagerly anticipating her next book, and may just sigh over the gorgeous cover of this one whenever I need to remember how wonderful a high-spirited, Godly romance can be. =)

And since you are all obviously totally in love with this book (mwa ha ha ha), I'll point out that it's one of the 190 being offered in the book signing bash. So click on that banner up top, and you can order a signed copy! Cool, huh? =)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Modern . . . Worlds

First, don't forget that the book signing is still running! Until 7 December, you can order signed and personalized copies of 190 books by 70 authors. So click on that banner above and get shopping. It's Cyber Monday, you know. ;-)

And now only my real topic. My hubby and I were discussing books and series and sequels and prequels yesterday, and he summed it up rather nicely by saying, "any book in the same world." That really stuck with me, because I knew exactly what he meant. Not that two books necessarily had the same characters or family, but they existed in the same fictional world, with the same fictionalized things.

See, I often decide in my contemporaries, "Well, I've already created this once, so I'll just stick with it." Which is a little strange when you consider that I'm using aspects of My World that I created for manuscripts that I never finished, half the time. But hey, it works. Example?

I once began a story set in L.A., about a fashion duo taking over the design company of their grandparents. The company was Cassidy St. Claire, known as CsC. I so liked the way this looked that when another character in a whole other series wanted to mention working with a designer (but I didn't want to use a real one), I chuckled to myself and thought, "Well, it looks like Kori's branching out into this . . ." and had my character in my NC books suddenly dealing with these already-known-to-me folks in L.A.

And when I need a menacing foreign dealer in something illegal? Well, why not use the Phantom Russe from this book I never intend to get published? I mean, he's already established in my mind for this . . .

Oddly, I have yet to do this with historicals, perhaps because my stories span too many years to really use the same creations. My Biblical characters can't really exist in the same world as my Victorian duke, right? But with modern settings, it's so easy (and fun!) to borrow one's previous creations. Or, as I did in one story, to give my best friend a cameo when my characters ventured to the mall half a mile from her house. =) Or to mention the rowdy teens at the ice cream place that she talked about in her books . . .

Am I the only one that does this, or can you think of times you writers have used the same world for totally different stories? Or that you readers have noticed it? (I've noted it in a few best-sellers, and it makes me grin.)

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Signing Is LIVE!


It's official, folks! The Christmas Book Signing Bash is LIVE!!! We've already sold our first books, and we are ready and waiting to take your orders too. Hop on over!

This is still a little amazing to me--when I had this idea I was expected maybe 25 authors. Then maybe 50. We ended up with 79 (!!!!!) authors with 190 books. Yowza! (And hence why for the last three weeks I've barely had time to do anything else.)

Last night my hubby asked me, "So what are your expectations for this?"

I replied. "I haven't had time for expectations. My only expectation was, 'I can get this done on time, I can get this done on time, I can get this done on time . . .'" =) And we did. If you want to check out the cool setup he arranged on the book store side of things, go to CrossPurposesBooks. If you want to see how I spent my last two weeks, click on the picture above and go to the Christian Review of Books. Check out our new logo while you're there! Courtesy of Tekeme, of course. =)

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! We had a lovely day (with minimal book signing work, other than designing that graphic you see above, ha ha), a truly gorgeous dinner (you rock, Mom!), and are looking forward to a successful online event! (Pray, y'all--pray it runs smooth as glass. Pllllleeeeeaaaaassssse!)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Being Thankful in All Things, Day 3

Today goes to friends. Have I ever mentioned that I have awesome friends?

Now, I suppose that comes with some explanation. When I moved home to Cumberland, all my friends here promptly scattered. I still have one about 40 minutes away in WV, and I love her dearly. But otherwise, my family are about the only ones I get together with regularly.

But I have so many friends that I get to talk to daily. Thank you, Lord, for the computer age! I am so, so grateful for the amazing friends I've made through the writing community. Many of them I met originally at conferences, some I've never met, others once or twice after emailing regularly.

Thank you, Lord, for friends that will tell me how it is, who worry about me and pray for me. Thank you for friends who understand me enough to know when to give advice and when to just listen. Who trust me enough to vent to me and share their upsets and worries and concerns. Thank you for those who seem to share a brain with me, and for those I talk to so rarely that it's exciting when I do.

My friends are a rich tapestry, one that not only makes the wall of my life pretty, but which insulates me from the seeping cold of winter. I love each and every one of you. Each thread, in your spectrum of colors.

As for finding joy in the negative . . . I can't actually think of a negative this morning. What a shame, LOL. 

In non-Thanksgiving news, the setup for the online book signing is nearly complete! It won't be officially open until Friday, but we've already seen our first sale, LOL. This should be fun! Spread the word!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Being Thankful in All Things, Day 2

Today I'm going to have to go with "my family" for wonderful things I'm thankful for.

I'm grateful for my parents, who always told me I could be anything I wanted, who encouraged me and loved me without condition. Who worked so hard to make sure we always had more than enough and are so proud of every accomplishment. I love you guys so much!

I'm grateful for my sister, who is also one of my dearest friends. I love how over the years we grew from squabbling kids to women who support and defend. You rock, Jen. =)

I'm thankful for my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, who provide such a rich tapestry of love and laughter.

I'm so, so grateful for my husband. God blessed us beyond measure when he introduced us at a young age. We've enjoyed nearly ten years of marriage, and each moment has been amazing. Yes, we occasionally fight--but I love that we actually like each other, that we enjoy spending time together, that we work well together. I'm so thankful for a honey who understands my every thought (or nearly, LOL), and with whom I have so many unexplainable jokes. Thank you, Lord, for a love that still makes me heart race every time I he comes home.

And of course, my adorable children. Though exhausting and sometimes frustrating as all children can be, they are so, so precious. Thank you, Lord for that unquenchable spark of life and cheer in Rowyn. I think he could laugh half the day--and spend the other half "vrooming trucks." =) And You outdid yourself on the sweetness scale, Lord, when you crafted Xoe. I love that nearly all her games involve giving something to others, whether it's a pretend letter to her brother's toys or a "welcome home" card for her cousin.

And today, the "thankful in the bad" thing comes from them, too, LOL. They each woke me up once last night, and I couldn't get back to sleep after the second. So I'm tired and a little sore this morning--but grateful. Thank you, Lord, for unexpected cuddle time with my kiddos. And for the prayer time while I lay awake. (Now if You wanted to help me wake up, that would be appreciated too. ;-)

Have a great Tuesday, everyone! It's the Thanksgiving Party at Story Time this morning, so my kids are pretty excited. =)