Thursday, December 29, 2011

Thoughtful About . . . 2011 in Review

Last year when reviewing 2010, I mentioned that I prayed for a word for the year--a word to live up to, or that represented a promise from the Lord. He gave me the word shine. As I went through the past twelve months, I often reminded myself that my purpose was to shine for Him, to be the mirror to His light, even when I didn't feel like it.



Did I succeed? Well, much of that is something I can't know. But I know the effect it had on me. And I know that I saw Him shining in my life in 2011--a lot.

At the start of 2011, I was launching Jewel of Persia. It was a slow launch, but it's been such a blessing to watch how it's grown and multiplied, until finally it hit the Amazon Kindle bestseller list in its category. Its ranking changes hour to hour, but it's there. That's so stinkin' exciting!



I spent the first month and a half of the year writing Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland. I wrote it with absolutely no idea if it would be good enough, if Summerside would like it, if it was my ticket to a big publisher or if--as I'd truly begun to think--the Lord wanted me to stay with our small press. Every single day, I woke up and gave that book to Him, saying more than once that it had to be His, because I just couldn't write it otherwise. Unlike Jewel of Persia, it wasn't a story I wrote from a fire within me, feverishly and without the desire to pause. I agonized through every chapter of Annapolis, uncertain the whole way.

I turned it in on my son's birthday, 11 February 2011. For the next month, I couldn't tell you how many times I prayed, "Make me okay, Lord. No matter what happens with it, make me okay." Because I knew that one way or another, I'd have an answer soon, and that this was my only shot with this story.

On March 15, I got the call from my agent. Summerside was buying Annapolis, and it would release 1 December 2011. Nine short months away!


But in this business, you have to always be looking ahead. Publishing lines are scheduled so far in advance, that if I wanted another book out around a year after this one, I had to get cracking now. So throughout the spring and summer, I decided on my next project, found an editor interested in it, and wrote it. I signed with a new agent, the fantabulous Karen Ball. I turned in this project to the editor super-excited about it. Got an offer for another from another. Was offered a three book deal on the one I'd just finished.

A banner year--a shocking, wow-look-how-it-all-clicked banner year. I went from having one solid lead for a contract but absolutely no certainty that I could pull it off, to having five contracted books in the works. I got to watch my biblicals, the stories of my heart, find their foothold. I got to work with some fabulous authors with WhiteFire, contracting and editing three amazing works of historical fiction.


In my personal life, I got to watch my daughter grow by leaps and bounds in her schoolwork, and my son develop a single-minded pursuit of all things with wheels. My hubby and I celebrated our 10th anniversary with an amazing weekend in Niagara Falls, and we topped the year off with a gift of kittens for our kiddos--hands-down the best gift they've ever gotten, they say. =)

Misty morning view of the American falls
My parents looking on while Rowyn jumps on the couch, totally startled, and Xoe squeals in delight.


So here we all are, another new year on the horizon. I'm praying for another word from the Lord to represent 2012, and praising Him for my year of Shining, for all that He did and helped me do in 2011. I'm praising Him for the friends I made, the friends I grew closer to, giving to him my grief over the friend I lost.

My friend Mary, who succumbed to cancer this summer but lives on in the legacy of faith she left in many lives.


Thank you, Lord, for a year of reaping after so many of sowing. Thank you, Lord, for the promise of all that's to come. Thank you, Lord, for planting the garden of my life with so many amazing friendships that have bloomed and made my world beautiful.

Thank you, Lord, for carrying me through every shadow, every valley, so that I can again glimpse and cling to Your shining light.

How was your 2011? And what are you hoping for in 2012?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Thoughtful About . . . A Merry Christmas!


This is the last post I'll have up before Christmas . . . and probably the last before I do a look-back-over-the-year on next Thursday. So first and foremost, I hope each and every one of you has a fantastic Christmas and that 2011 wraps up well for you!

Excitement is building around here! What presents have arrived are all wrapped--but I'm still waiting for the elves--i.e. the mail lady and UPS guy--to deliver a few. Yikes! Cookies enough have been baked to keep us, though we'll probably make some more over the next week. Our homeschool week is all but done, and we've squeezed a full week's worth of stuff into it. All that's left is some reading-to-her and two math lessons. Woot! We're going to celebrate its completion by watching the Christmas Carol movie that came out two years ago, the one with Jim Carrie and computer animation. I hear it's great. =)

A few highlights for me thus far came from my publishers. The one I still can't talk about yet sent out gifts to all their authors, and it was just so awesome to get that and realize I'm one of their authors! =) And then I got an email from my editor at Summerside that included the information that the cover model for Annapolis isn't a stock photo or hired model as I had assumed, but the friend of someone at Summerside--so cool! And better still, that the model has read and loved Annapolis, and her kids are now calling her "Lark." =) This greatly pleased the folks whose friend she is, and they too are reading and loving the book and referred to me as Summerside's own Jane Austen. Talk about making my day!

Well, my plans for the day involve getting the house ready to receive guests--and kitties--squeezing in some writing, and tying up any other loose ends so we can enjoy the Christmas break. Over which I'll hopefully get lots of writing-work done, LOL.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Remember When . . . Christmas Was in the Books?

I've never written a novel set solely around Christmas. But as I'm contemplating fun holiday stuff I could write about here, I realize that both of my last two books have Christmas on the page. Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland does in fact take place from the end of November through the end of January, so it's full of Christmasy goodness and many traditions from the day.

If you missed it last year, I blogged about many of these traditions in a post called Remember When . . . Christmas Was Banned? which also (obviously) touches on how Christmas was not an observed holiday in New England.

In Annapolis, Christmas was far from banned. Being Anglican--the only church in the city was what came to be renamed the Episcopal church when it became unpopular to name them "church of England"--the city celebrated in the style of Merry Ol' England. I had a lot of fun writing that chapter too, with mention of wassailing, of the hanging greens, and of the simple gifts they gave each other. (They certainly didn't have to check five different online stores for that remote control car their sons really, really wanted and then bite their nails when they saw it wasn't due to arrive until December 23rd . . .).

When I started writing another Colonial and did all my research, I realized this next one, too, would have to include the Christmas season--though it goes from November to October so certainly doesn't focus on it. Still, Christmas Day gets a chapter.

When I first realized that both my hero and heroine had been either living in or raised in the parts of New England that would not have observed Christmas, I had a moment of panic. Oh no! They wouldn't view Christmas like I do!!! How in the world do I capture their thoughts??

As it turns out, their views of the day came naturally to their characters and in fact really helped me form those characters. See, Winter (my heroine) grew up in a Congregationalist home on Long Island that could trace its roots back to the Puritans. In her home, Christmas was a day of quiet reflection. No gifts, no music, no parties.

Now all of a sudden she's in a home that celebrates--loudly and boisterously. Winter isn't wowed by it--she's saddened and disgusted by it, and feels far, far from home. All she wants on this holy day is to close herself into her room, read her Bible, and spend some time in quiet contemplation and prayer, thinking about what it truly means that Jesus came down as a babe.

Instead, she's forced into an elaborate gown, paraded through a drawing room full of mercenary, shallow socialites concerned only with who got the more expensive gift, and forced to listen to the drunken jolly-making of New York's elite.

Merry she isn't. Because she longs for the quiet of communion with the Lord. Much like she does through the rest of the book.

Though I've always celebrated and loved Christmas, writing that chapter really helped me understand how a different approach could be precious and beloved. 

This year, no matter what your traditions are, I pray that you observe them with joy, share them with your loved ones, and come away with that unmistakable Christmas feeling--the one that says, "God has blessed them, one and all."

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Story Time - A NECESSARY DECEPTION by Laurie Alice Eakes

It is 1812, and England is awash with enemies. The French that they've been fighting for years . . . the renewed conflict in America . . . and now there are even uprisings in the north over the mills. Young widow Lady Lydia Gale knows this, knows that England's true enemies may be hidden under a fair facade--but still she must do what she can to help those who need it, those to whom her late, unloving husband took the liberty of pledging her support.

And so she ventures to that dark prison in Dartmoor. So she meets with the strangely compelling Frenchman, Christien de Meuse, and obtains his freedom. So she entrusts him with her last belonging of any worth, the last gift her husband sent her.

So the adventure begins.

Lydia never dreamed that a month later, Christien would arrive in her drawing room in London, directly on the heels of a few other questionable personages. Then again, she also never dreamed she would have been approached by someone claiming to be from the Home Office, who would blackmail her into introducing these unsavory gentlemen into London society. For the sake of her family, she must comply. But at what risk to her country--and to her heart?

Laurie Alice Eakes has done it again. With A Necessary Deception she has penned a novel that combines heart-stopping romance with heart-pounding suspense, crafting characters at once strong but consistent with their times, blind in some ways and brilliant in others. These true-to-life characters of Lydia and Christien--not to mention the wonderfully made secondary characters, especially Lydia's younger sisters--will pull you in from the start and keep you flipping the pages as surely as the espionage and intrigue.

Needless to say, I love this book. I love the cover, so very Regency and elegant. I love the characters, so very real and true. I love the plot, with its questions of who you can trust, whether a man's place of birth determines his loyalties. And I love the romance, its depth and charm, its scope and breadth. As we watch Christien and Lydia dare to open their hearts, it makes us ask ourselves what we would do if drawn to a man who may just be our nation's enemy . . . what we would do if we fell for someone whose life may be endangered by our attention. How far we would go to protect our families.

Beautifully written, masterfully crafted, A Necessary Deception is a book for any lover of historical novels, especially those that combine suspense with romance. This is one you don't want to miss!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Word of the Week - Yule

In Old English, Christmas day was called geol (not to be confused with gaol, which is jail--ha ha ha), taken from Old Norse jol. Jol was a heathen feast day, taken over by English so long ago that no one's sure exactly when it happened. Though we do know that "jolly" comes from jol. ;-)

Origianlly, geol, or yule, meant solely Christmas Day. It also happens that there was a cognate, giuli, that was the Anglo-Saxon name for a two-month midwinter season of feasting, so the two got mixed together. When English first borrowed the word, it meant the 12 Day Feast of Christmas--December 25 through January 6, the Epiphany. It was largely replaced by the word Christmas by the eleventh century, except for in Danish-settled parts of England.

Writers, however, revived the word in the 19th century to capture the particular charm of Christmas in Merry Ol' England. Oh yes, it's always the writers, LOL.

Yultide (literally yule time or Christmastime) was recorded in the 15th century, and the first written mention of the yule log is from the 17th century and was a ceremonially chosen log (sometimes and entire tree)  picked to have an enduring burn for Christmas.

Can you believe there's less than a week until Christmas?? I hope everyone is enjoying this yuletide season!

~*~

And today I'm on Go Teen Writers! It was a fun interview, so be sure to check it out to learn what I would do if captured by kidnappers. ;-)

Friday, December 16, 2011

First Great ANNAPOLIS Giveaway Winner!

And the first (of two) winners for the Great ANNAPOLIS Giveaway is . . .



Elaine Marie Cooper!

Congrats, Elaine!!

For those of you who didn't win this round (and there are a lot of you--we logged around 330 entries into this baby!), keep on entering, because the second drawing will be on February 15, 2012.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thoughtful About . . . Shopping

I'll just come out and admit it--I like getting presents. I do. That surprise of ripping open the paper and finding something underneath that you didn't choose for yourself. That feeling of appreciation that comes from knowing someone took the time to select something for you. And, well, just getting new things. ;-)

I like giving presents. I like putting thought and care into what each person in my life wants and needs. I love finding those gems--like the year we gave my mother-in-law the leg lamp from her all-time favorite move, A Christmas Story. (Or as she calls it, Shoot Your Eye Out, LOL.) I love picking things that I know will make my kids squeal with delight.

But this year . . . I don't know. We're trying to clear some accumulated junk from our house, so I'm rather loath to bring in new junk. You know? In years past when buying for my kids, I would often just grab things to fill out the allotted funds from, say, my grandmother. To fill up the stocking.

After throwing out all the cheap toys that had broken and giving away many of the ones they just don't play with, I'm not doing that this year. This year, my thought is, "I'm not spending the money unless I know they'll love it."

I think it's a good philosophy--accept that it means I'm still not done shopping, and there are only ten days until Christmas. Aaaaggghhhh!

For someone who grew up in a family that celebrated Christmas with joy and generosity (even those lean years, my Mom managed to stretch each dollar so the under-the-tree looked bursting!), I feel downright guilty sometimes for choosing an approach that doesn't result in such bulk. I'm afraid my kids will be disappointed--though we've never bought them a whole lot for Christmas, given how much they get everywhere else.

They never are--my kids don't expect a gazillion gifts from us, and we try really hard to keep their focus on the giving, the giving in honor of Christ.

Still, this year . . . my daughter's dresser is literally bursting with clothes. Literally. I cleaned out probably half their toys, and there are still so many . . . And the rest of my family?? What do they really want, really need?

Well, we solved the dilemma for the kids with these little bundles of joy. The two grays will be ours. =)

I was still stressing about some of the other members of our family, but last night my hubby and I went out on our annual Christmas Shopping Date, and we came up with good things for all, I think. Things that aren't just going to clutter, but are rather going to add meaning.

See, shopping with my husband keeps me in that mindset. He's from a family that gives only what, and when, they think will be special. I don't always like this approach, but shopping with him keeps me from buying junk. It makes me think about how I'm spending each dollar. I needed that--that shift in focus. Our shopping date is in its third year now, and it's a tradition I'm going to cling to just to keep myself in line. ;-)

What are your shopping traditions for this often-hectic time of year?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Remember When . . . We Hung the Greens?

Christmas is upon us. And as you can tell by looking around at either my blog or my house, it's time to decorate. A Christmas tree, complete with a rainbow of ornaments, most antique. Garland on my shelves. Everywhere is red, green, and white (with a few other colors thrown in here and there).

Me being me, naturally I've been wondering about those colors. ;-) Would my Colonial characters have decorated at all like I do? I know the Christmas tree tradition hadn't made it to unerring popularity over here yet, but the garland? The red accents? Were the Christmas colors the Christmas colors yet?

It only took a quick search to find my answer--a resounding YES! And since I found it interesting, I'll share it with you. =)

The green part of "red and green" I pretty much knew. Since evergreens are the only thing growing in the Western hemisphere this time of year, it was chosen as a decoration--one we could find much significance in, as it's a symbol of eternal life and/or rebirth. There were, of course, traditions surrounding this before Christianity took root--traditions that were easily integrated into the new faith because of how well they represented our ideals.

But red--that's the one I wasn't sure about. And it's been around long enough that historians aren't entirely sure about it. But this is their best guess:

Traditionally, the feast day of Adam and Eve is on Christmas Day. As part of the celebration in the Middle Ages, they would put on a play to educate the illiterate masses about Adam and Eve's story. When they got to the part about the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil their options were limited--the only tree still green was the pine. And the only fruit they had stores was the apple. So they'd tie an apple onto a pine bough, and that would represent their Tree.

Over the years, the red apple snuck into Christmas traditions too, appearing on wreaths and garlands. Red and green soon took hold in its own right. Holly became a popular plant to decorate with solely because it combines those two colors (and is an evergreen so, you know, around in December).

And there we have it! A tradition that has been around for somewhere between 500 and 1000 years, and shows no signs of stopping. =)

As a reminder, you only have until TOMORROW, 15 December, to enter the first round of the Great ANNAPOLIS Giveaway (though entries from after that will go into my second round automatically). Check out the tab at the top to see what all you could win and how to win it!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Word of the Week - Get Back

I was browsing through the entries for "get" over at www.etymonline.com, trying to discover when "get-go" came into being. Well, I didn't find that (maybe it's been around from the get-go. Ha . . . ha . . . ha . . .), but I did find some interesting info on "get back."

Get back has been used since the 1600s in the sense of "return"--as in, "let's get back to town." That's no big surprise, right? What surprised me was that the transitive sense of "recover"--as in, "Can you get back the money you lost?"--didn't come about until 1808. Rather late for something so literal, in my opinion! And the meaning of "retaliate" didn't enter English until 1888. Very late.

Pretty cool, huh? (Go ahead and say it--I'm a Word Nerd, LOL.)



Oh, and check out my post on RomCon Inc's historical blog today!

And now, consider yourselves cordially invited to an online Colonial Christmas party! The Quillers over at Colonial Quill will all be there chatting, and I hope you can join us!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Thoughtful About . . . The Basics

We have two cars. The one my hubby was given when he was learning to drive--a '95 Jeep Cherokee--and our Lincoln LS. (These aren't actual pictures of our cars, just online images of the same models--approximately, LOL.)

Xander, the Lincoln, is ten years old but still blinged out for a car of that age. Heated seats. Rain-sensitive windshield wipers whose speed adjusts automatically depending on the rate of rain. Automatic headlights. Climate control. It's a sweet car, and it still looks lean and mean driving around with the newer cars. ;-)
Last night, in the pouring rain, I ended up driving Bartok the Jeep. (Yes, I name my cars, LOL.) Bartok was getting new tires in case we got the predicted snow last night, and I drove him home.

It was pretty funny. I got in and went, "Oh, the seat's all wrong." And I had to move it manually. No pushing of my pre-set button. Then--gasp--the steering wheel was all the way up! I really don't know that I've ever had to move the steering wheel in the Jeep, but miraculously, my hand found that level on its first reach. (Go ahead and laugh at me. I deserve it.) 

Positioning correct, I then had a new pause. It was raining, and my wipers weren't just wiping it away. Oh, right--I have to tell them to do that. I flip them on, then realize that the world around me is dark. Headlights. Check. I pull that knob out and feel relatively set to get going.

The steering is different. The brake pedal is softer. And it takes me a good two minutes to realize I need to flip the heat on myself--which I only realize because the windows are fogging up. I've been known to go an entire trip without turning the heat on in the Jeep, LOL.

This always amuses me because, let's face it, it's basic stuff. Stuff I shouldn't have to put so much thought into--but I've been spoiled by Xander. Still, we keep Bartok around. Why? Well, because nothing's like a Jeep. It can go in the snow, it can go in the mud, it can go off road and on road and across road and do it all with cheerful gumption and enough squeaks and jingles and rattles to let you know it's working hard. ;-) 

I love Bartok. I love the blingier Xander too, but driving around in the Jeep last night, it really got me thinking.

Is there a better when it comes to this sort of thing?

It all comes down to purpose. Do I drive Bartok every day? No, because it's a two-door and hard for me to get the kids in and out of. But when the first flakes of snow start coming down, you can bet I give Xander a nice pat and say, "Take a break, buddy. Have a snow day. It's your brother's turn." Same goes if we have to haul anything bigger than a paper box. And need I even say that the kids think riding in it is the most fun in the world, because it doesn't happen often?

I think sometimes life, and those of us blundering through it, is the same way. Some of us are a little rough around the edges. Some of us hold up well against the blinged-out world, but are, in truth, pretty modest in comparison. And sometimes it's hard to shift from one path to another, from one calling to another, from one situation to another.

Sometimes we get thrown by having to take care of things we're not used to taking care of. On the other hand, it can be a real treat to reach for that task and see it's already taken care of--that those headlights have already flicked on without any input from you.

But just like with my oh-so-different car-family, it's about the particulars, the circumstances. Sometimes we need to be spoiled.

And sometimes we need to get back to the basics.

In this season of hustle and bustle, of rushing and spending, take some time out for the Bartok situations in your life. Let the bling rest. Let the polish fade. And just enjoy the simple, and all it can do for you that the complex never could.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Remember When . . . The Party Was Colonial?

Next week I'll be having my first real-life (as opposed to online) book event for Annapolis, at my local library. It's advertised as a Colonial Christmas party, and I'm having fun putting together all the Colonial aspects. I'll be displaying my Great ANNAPOLIS Giveaway items, I think I'll be setting up the little plastic Patriot V. Tory soldiers I have in a mock battle, decorating with greenery . . . and of course, planning a colonial menu. =)

I thought today it would be fun to share with you online folks what my in-person folks will be treated to next week, and the fun recipes I've found for colonial dishes. =)

Before I dive into the goodies, though, don't forget to comment on the THREE interviews I have up right now for chances to win copies of Annapolis AND for entries into the Great ANNAPOLIS Giveaway! They are:

The Love Finds You Blog Party at Seasons of Humility: http://seasonsofhumility.blogspot.com/2011/12/love-finds-you-with-spark-of.html



Now for the goodies!

First, my menu will feature two savory items--ham, which was  a staple of life and parties back in the day, since it could be so easily preserved by smoking and salting. And also popcorn, which hadn't yet reached the widespread popularity of the 1800s, but was certainly around.

Now for the sweets!

Gingerbread

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup hot water
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9 inch square pan.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the egg, and mix in the molasses.
  3. In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Blend into the creamed mixture. Stir in the hot water. Pour into the prepared pan.
  4. Bake 1 hour in the preheated oven, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan before serving. 

Pear Muffins

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup ripe pears, chopped
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
rind of 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 375. Grease muffin tins. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Add the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk and vanilla, mixing just until blended. Do not overmix. In a bowl combine the pears with the walnuts, cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon rind. Gently fold into the batter. Spoon into the muffin tins, filling each tin 3/4 full. Bake at 375 for 25 minutes or until nicely browned. Serve warm with apple butter. 

(Thanks to Susan Craft for sharing this one!)

And this one required a bit of introduction--I found repeated mention of "little sugar cakes" as a favorite party food, but had no clue what they were. Petit fours?? Maybe. But as I was searching yesterday, I found this recipe for "Sugar Jumbles / Little Sugar Cakes" which I knew right away were what I was looking for. I'd already discovered that "jumbles" were cookies, and it suddenly clicked about the sugar cakes being the same. So thank you to A Lovely Thought blog (http://anartsideoflife.blogspot.com/2011/04/sugar-cakes-and-tea.html) for this recipe I found!

Sugar Jumbles 
little sugar cakes of old-time goodness

Mix together……… 1/2 cup soft butter, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 egg, 1 teaspoon vanilla
Sift together and stir in………. 1 1/8 cups flour, 1/4 teaspoon soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Drop rounded teaspoonfuls about 2” apart on lightly greased baking sheet. Bake until delicately brown… cookies should still be soft.

TEMPERATURE: 375’
 TIME: Bake 8 to 10 min.
AMOUNT: About 3 dozen 2” cookies

I like to sprinkle with a powder of sugar on top, and place some pinches of lemon balm from my garden on the serving plate.

Now for the beverages! I'll have coffee, and . . .

Wassail


Ingredients:
  • 1 gallon apple cider
  • 1 large can pineapple juice (unsweetened)
  • 3/4 cup tea
Place in a cheesecloth or mesh sack:
  • 1 Tablespoon whole cloves
  • 1 Tablespoon whole allspice
  • 2 sticks cinnamon
Instructions: This is great cooked in a crock pot. Let it simmer very slowly for 4 to 6 hours. You can add water if it evaporates too much. Your home will smell wonderful, and this is a great way to set the tone for a holiday party!

And finally . . .


Martha Washington's Colonial Chocolate
George Washington’s Favorite Hot Chocolate.

4 Tablespoons Cocoa
Small amount Of Cold Water
2 Cups Water
1/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
2 Cups Milk
2 Tablespoons Cornstarch
Small amount Of Cold Milk
1 Egg
1/2 Cup Hot Water
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Mix Cocoa And Cold Water To A Smooth Paste In A Saucepan. Stir In The 2 Cups Water, Sugar And Milk. Bring To A Boil And Blend In Cornstarch Which Has Been Dissolved In The Cold Milk. Boil 3 Minutes Longer.

Remove From Heat And Set In A Warm Place. Beat Egg And Hot Water Until Light And Foamy. Pour Half Of Egg Mixture Into A Pitcher. Blend In Vanilla Extract. Add To Chocolate Slowly. Pour Remaining Egg Mixture Over Top. Serve.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Word of the Week - Cameo

I can't tell you how much time I spent chasing rabbits down trails (literarily speaking) for a one-line mention in my books. Like, did they have bells over the doors in 18th century New York? Hard to discover.

This last week, one of my random questions was, thankfully, easily answered. I wanted a character to mention a cameo necklace, which I was pretty darn sure were around and popular by the 1860s, but I've been wrong before. So I looked it up.

I was pleased to see that cameo, by which I mean a carved stone with two layers of color, has been around since the 16th century. Cameos maintained a steady popularity for centuries--Elizabeth I had a sizable collection, as did Catherine the Great. And since Queen Victoria favored them, they even stuck around during the fast-changing fashion of the 19th century.

In 1851 the word was attributed to "a short literary sketch or portrait." Very much related to the pendant, which commonly depict a bust or figure (though not always). And so this sense was also transferred to the stage/film in 1928, when it came to mean "a brief role that stands out from other minor parts in a performance."

I have a cameo necklace I inherited from my great-grandmother, and I love it. =) There's something so very romantic about those treasures from times past . . .

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Thoughtful About . . . RELEASE DAY!!!

It's December 1. As in, December 1, 2011. As in, the official release day of Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland. Give me a moment.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Okay, I'm back. ;-)



So this is technically my third Release Day. But it's the first one that was ushered in by a call from my mom that went like this:

Mom: "So do you want the news?"

Me: "What news?" as Rowyn is sitting on the counter with a giant spoonful of yogurt that's threatening to glop its way all over everything.

Mom: "I was in WalMart today, and they had Annapolis out!"

Me, totally ignoring pending yogurt catastrophe: "THEY DID????!!!!!!!!!! Did you take a picture?"

Mom: "Well, I did, yes. Problem is, I can't get it off my phone. So I called your Aunt Pam and told her to go with her iPhone and take a picture and email it to me."

LOL. So it's been spotted. Woot!

Yep, that's my thoughtfulness for the day. =) I'm going to be trying to set up signings here and there and everywhere, which will involve some phone calls today and tomorrow. Which I didn't set up already because November was writing challenge month--not doing THAT in the month before a release again! LOL

Okay, happy day. I have big plans for organizing my basement today, folding laundry . . . all that fun stuff I neglected while trying to write and organize some media stuff. ;-)

Happy Release Day, everyone! And remember to check out my Great ANNAPOLIS Giveaway (linked above) and check out the ways you can rack up those entries! (Including sending me pictures of Annapolis on a shelf in your local store. Yes, I just want to see it for the pure joy, LOL.)