Monday, July 30, 2012

Word of the Week - Grandfather

Well, we just got back from a trip to Texas, and I'm still in get-situated-back-at-home mode, so this will be a short one. =) But last week I had to look up when grandfather clocks came to be called grandfather clocks (can't believe I even thought to question that one), and was surprised by the answer, so . . . ;-)

Grandfather itself is from the 15th century, a compound word of pretty obvious origins. It replaced "grandsire" and the Old English ealdefaeder

There aren't many phrases that use it--there's "grandfather clause," which referred to exemptions from post-Reconstruction voting and restrictions in the South for men whose family members had voted before the Civil War. That came about near the turn of the century.

And then, ta da, grandfather clock. This is from the 1880s and apparently refers to a song--don't ask me which one, LOL. Before that--which is to say, for in my story, which is a far sight earlier--they were just called "tall case clocks" or "eight day clocks."

So there you have it. A few little tick-tocks to learn about the grandfather clock. =) Now I need to go unpack some bags . . .

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Thoughtful About . . . What You Put In

My sister recently talked me into joining her zumba class, something I've resisted when she mentioned it months ago. Why? Because I prefer my humiliation to be private, and exercising and I have a love-hate relationship that's heavier on hate than love, LOL. But I finally gave in and have gone with her twice now. So, yes, you're about to get life lessons from zumba class. ;-)

My exercising habit tends to look like this: for a few months, I'll exercise five to six days a week, half an hour a day. Then I'll get a cold/sinus infection/flu/other malady that forces me to stop for a few days. And then I'll just never start again, because not doing it is just so much nicer, ha ha. And that'll last until I pause to think, "Oh, man, I'm turning 30 in August, and I look like it!" Then I'll start again.

When I've exercised on my own in recent years, I've done the dance-based programs. So going to zumba wasn't quite as humiliating as I expected, since I knew most of the moves, they were just in new arrangements. And being in a class with a dozen other woman of varying ages and sizes and levels of expertise has really hammered home one of things I discovered while going it alone.

You only get out what you put in.

When I first started doing these DVDs, I went through the motions. I did all the steps. But not with the abandon of the instructors. And frankly, I didn't see much by way of results. But after a while, that became not-hard enough that I could ramp it up a bit. And that is when I started seeing a difference. Looking around at my new class, I've noticed much the same thing. The ones working the hardest, sweating the most, with the reddest faces, are the ones in better shape.

Now, there are certainly days I'm not up for that in a workout class. But what about life? How often do we just go through the motions, doing the right steps, but are unwilling to break a proverbial sweat? If you're like me, you have those days too. Some days, that's all you can manage, and that's fine. Doing what you have to do without any umph is better, now and then, than just taking a day off.

The problem is when it becomes habit. When, day after all, you bounce instead of jump. You walk instead of run. You sigh instead of sing.

I've been there. And you know what the problem with it is? You never see results. You never get better. You're putting in the bare minimum, so that's what you're getting out. And you know the only way to break free of that? Ramp it up. Put in more. Push yourself, make yourself keep going through the side-stitches, through the sore muscles, through the breathlessness. Work harder. Give it your all.

Sometimes I've been so caught up in the blahs, so exhausted by life, so in need of rejuvenation that it feels like I can't possibly do more. But you know what? I was wrong. I could, once I opened my spirit to the Spirit and let Him whisper His wind into me. Who needs their own breath, after all, when you can have His?

I'm by no means perfect at this (in either life or working out), but it's a truth that's hit home these past two weeks as I push myself to give more than I thought I could in zumba. Makes me wonder what more I could do in life, too, if I just pushed past the blahs...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Remember When . . . The Harbor Was Closed?

I'm up to my eyeballs in the War of 1812 right now, and since a huge part of it was the naval portion, I thought I'd chat a bit about our wonderful privateer fleet. =)

When the British fleet arrived in America, their first act was to close off the major harbors. (Shocker, right?) In the Chesapeake, that meant Norfolk, Annapolis, Baltimore etc., all supposedly sealed. Annapolis was referred to an open harbor, which means that the British let ships in and out so long as they had an innocent purpose, or if they were about diplomatic business. But Baltimore, which the area's leading merchant port, was closed. 

Naturally, this is where my story takes place. =) My hero is a merchant captain and did some privateering in the first couple years of the war, but is now on land in Baltimore for the remainder. How, you wonder, did he get his vessel back in the harbor?

Well, that was one of the fun things I discovered. While some of the so-dubbed privateer fleet were making a beautiful nuisance of themselves to the British in the Atlantic, Caribbean, Gulf, and even in British waters off the coast of England (how much fun is THAT??), some took it upon themselves to do blockade running in the Chesapeake. They would simply slip into an unguarded waterway miles and miles away from the Bay and then follow a maze of winding tributaries back to their home river or harbor. The British had no clue they were doing this, which left them largely unchecked and limited only by the knowledge of their pilots.

The Chesapeake area baffled (and over-heated) the British military in many ways, and this was but one of them. While it certainly wasn't business as usual in Baltimore, sealing off the harbor in many ways resulted in more privateers for them to worry with. Outraged (and bored) merchant captains more or less shrugged and said, "You're going to keep me here? Fine. See what it gets you." They they'd take their craft up the rivers to harass the British fleet there.

Oh, such fun, such fun. =)

Hope everyone's having a lovely Wednesday!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Word of the Week - Appropriate

Last week while in the car, we were trying to figure out why "appropriate" (adj) and "appropriate" (v) are spelled exactly the same, pronounced differently, with what we deemed very different meanings. (Yes, my whole family is apparently word-nerdish, LOL.)
A Favor by Edmond Blair

So I just looked it up and kinda scratched my head to see that, in fact, they both come from exactly the same Latin word and both appeared in English in the 15th century.

Both start with proprius, the Latin word from which we get "proper." It's the best place the start in this case. Proper means "adapted to some purpose, fit, apt." The Latin means "one's own, particular to oneself." Easy to say how those are related, right? If something is its own, it has a very particular purpose. But it also carries an idea of possession. (Interestingly, it didn't carry a connotation of social correctness until 1704! Who knew?)

The prefix is a variation of ad- which means "to." Pretty simple. "To make one's own" is a very literal definition of the Latin approprius, which is where appropriate comes from. So the verb is pretty easy to see. But it also still has that meaning of "one's own, particular to itself." In which case the adjective suddenly makes sense too, because if something is appropriate, it is proper, fit, apt to a purpose.

Yeah, I really never thought that appropriate as "proper" and appropriate as "take for yourself, by force if necessary" were in fact the same. But apparently they are. Pretty interesting, eh?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Thoughtful About . . . My Eyes on the Prize

It's a saying pretty much everyone understands, I'd think. "Keep your eyes on the prize." Keep your focus on the thing you're aiming at. The finish line. The trophy. The certificate of achievement. The check-off of your Bucket List.

Keep going. Keep reaching. Keep your aim true.

But what if you're aiming at the wrong prize?

A couple months ago I blogged about those Twisty Paths, and how finaling and winning or not in a contest was all part of God's plan. Well, with more finalists announced on Monday for another big fiction contest, the topic is weighing on me again.

I'm a competitive person. I hate losing and always have. And frankly, I was always one of the best in anything I really put my mind to. I was smart, I was good at art, I could master any subject in school, any instrument. You know the one thing I stank at? Sports. I just wasn't any good at them, but I wanted to run Cross Country to get in shape. So I joined the team. I did my best. And I never, not once, even came close to winning.

Thank heavens I had an awesome coach, one who understood that keeping your eyes on the prize didn't always mean winning. He told me that I was competing with myself, with my previous times. That my prize was knowing I was kicking my own rear end. And that when I did that, God was so very proud of me. 

So here I am in my career. Faced, again, with the reality of not making the cut in a contest. Am I in tears? Um, no. A little bummed? Sure. But as I sat here contemplating these wins, I heard that whisper again. The one that says, "Is winning your prize? Is a best-seller your prize? Or am I? Is touching hearts for Me?"

So here I sit. Praying with a soul laid bare that He helps me always keep my eyes firmly where they belong. On the prize. The real prize, and the only prize. The one that I can't put on a shelf or list in my bio. The one that lifts me up on those down days.


I want to thank each and every one of you who has ever taken the time to send me an email or leave me a comment letting me know my work has had some effect on you. Those, my friends, are how God often speaks to me to say, "See? This is your prize, my daughter. This is your proof that you're doing well, doing what you ought to be doing."

And I want to offer sincere congratulations to all the wonderful, gifted authors who are up for these prestigious awards. You have all earned this, and I know God has special plans for using it and you for His glory.

Man-made prizes have their place and I cheer loud as I can when a book I love wins an award. Especially when I know the author and know that their ultimate prize, too, is that "Well done, good and faithful servant" from the Lord.

But for some of us, the ones of us who might get a little too hung up on the glitter and glam of an earthly win, keeping our focus is tough--and necessary. And proof that the Lord knows what's best for us, even when it brings a little bit of a bummer.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Remember When . . . There Were Whispers from the Shadows?

In case y'all haven't seen this already . . . 

I have an official title for my second Culper Ring book! Wooooot! 

For any of you non-writer folk out there who might be scratching your heads going, "Okay... um... what's so exciting about that?" allow me to explain a bit. =) An author's titles aren't always approved by the publishing committee, so they'll then ask for a list of other possible titles and will go from there, sometimes picking from that list but more often using it as a springboard to come up with a title their marketing experts say will sell. I was kinda surprised when there was no discussion on either my first title or series name--they loved both Culper Ring Series and Ring of Secrets. I was warned, however, that the second two books would be talked about. ;-)

So. I'd originally called this book I'm writing now Mask of Truth. The experts at Harvest House didn't think "truth" sounded romantic enough, so asked for other suggestions. I sent them a list of probably two dozen alternatives, LOL, and they took the words I'd listed as appropriate to the story and feel and came up with--drumroll please......

Whispers from the Shadows

Yay!! It's a beautiful title that I totally love, and I'm now having fun weaving its imagery into the story as I write. =)

And of course, one of the first things I changed was the name of my Pinterest board for the book. Which, I might add, is now full to bursting with Regency style clothing that my characters would be wearing, so if you have an intense love for those Jane Austen-esque fashions, you might want to hop over there. ;-)

And while you're browsing through beautiful empire gowns, I will be back in Baltimore of 1814, where poor Gwyneth is even now sitting at a borrowed desk in a rumpled gown with pencil smudges flawing her ivory skin and bizarre drawings before her . . . ;-)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Word of the Week - Sober

Obviously a sober-minded young lady ;-)
One of the words my editor said was distracting in Ring of Secrets was "sober." I used it a couple times instead of "serious," which is, of course, valid. Which she knew. But the modern definition... ;-)

I decided to look it up and found that the dual definitions of "temperate" and "not drunk" go back to the original Latin sobrius. The prefix, from se- means "without", and ebrius is "drunk." This is a pretty logical correlation, since temperance and drunkenness are rather exclusive. So the opposites have also been drawn together pretty much forever.

In English, sober has meant "grave, serious, solemn" since the 1300s. By the mid-14th century it had edged toward "moderate, temperate," and "abstaining from strong drink." Now, that "abstaining" makes me think that it didn't speak to one's state at a particular moment, but rather to one's habit. It wasn't until the late 14th century that it narrowed to "not drunk at the moment." Still, of course, carrying that meaning of "grave, serious, solemn, moderate." ;-)

Interestingly, the verb form (usually paired with "up") didn't come about until 1820.

Oo, and I learned a new name to call somebody who's a little too sedate or serious! Sobersides. Yep. My newest go-to for name calling, LOL. ;-)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Thoughtful About . . . Ups and Downs

I've had a hectic few weeks, and in some ways it's been a real roller coaster ride. I got good news just to have it nullified two days later. I've had to come to grips with a few things, put some things aside for a while--and as someone who always hopes and works for more, that was a toughie.

But even while I've mourned the loss of that oh-so-brief good news, I've also gotten to enjoy some of the most fun aspects of what I do. On the author side, I enjoyed a nice long chat with my editor, going over revisions for Ring of Secrets. That was a blast, as we laughed over the silly things that had slipped past me and got into the nitty gritty of the story. She loves it just about as much as I do, so there really was no pain involved. 

And on the editor side, I got to have the same sort of conversation in reverse with one of our authors. =) We got to talk over revisions to her ending, weighing some of the different options and talking about her characters and how they'll best shine. I love that!

In the back of my mind there's still sometimes that lurking disappointment. That realization that I can't reach further right now---which on the one hand is fine, because I love where I am. But I've always been stretching. I've always been trying to find the next project and, in recent months, trying to figure out how to balance my commitments. It's a little weird to realize that for now, that's not necessary. Oh, I still have plenty to balance with writing and editing and designing and, of course, parenting and home schooling. But still . . .

Yet even as I waited for the phone call that ended up reversing my good news, I finished up the research I'd been doing for my second Culper Ring book. Even as I put aside the project that had been distracting me from it, I got excited about dedicating myself to Gwyneth and Thad. I'm having so much fun getting to work on this one!

And some of the best news ever just came, after all--my best friend/critter and I have officially scheduled a writing retreat for next spring. WOOT! Can't wait for March!!!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Word of the Week - Lowlife

Last week I had the pleasure of going over edits of Ring of Secrets with my awesome editor, and she proved her awesomeness by discovering some words I hadn't thought to look up but which were way too new for my 1780-set book.

One of the most surprising is lowlife. It feels like an old-fashioned word to call somebody, doesn't it? Like it should be from the age when base-born was one of the meanest things you could say about someone. But . . . it's not.

The adjective form, low-life, did indeed enter the English language in 1794, meaning "vulgar, disreputable." (Still too late for my story, mind you...), but it didn't make the transition from adjective to noun until--get this--1911! Aaaagggghhhhhh!

Thanks heavens for an editor who thought to look this one up. She knows this sort of thing is important to me and got to laugh while I went "Aaaaaggghhhhh, really? Really? What in the world can I call him then?" LOL. (Enter "miscreant" and "criminal" for the two places in the book I'd used "lowlife.")

I hope everyone was a great week!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Thoughtful About . . . Ring of Secrets

I got it! I got it! My cover for Ring of Secrets has arrived in a share-able version, so naturally today must be spent in sharing (assuming you haven't already seen it on Facebook).

Exciting!!! Also exciting is that you can pre-order them on Amazon (please "like" the page for me!) and

And the official blurb, to remind you of how much FUN Ring of Secrets is going to be... =)

This exciting romantic spy novel from Roseanna M. White combines fascinating cloak-and-dagger secrets with a tale of love and intrigue during the Revolutionary War.
Winter Reeves is an aristocratic Patriot forced to hide her heart amid the Loyalists of the City of New York. She has learned to keep her ears open so she can pass information on British movements to Robbie Townsend, her childhood friend, and his spy ring. If she's caught, if she's hung for espionage...well, she won't be. Robbie has taught her the tools of the trade: the wonders of invisible ink, drop locations and, most importantly, a good cover.
Bennet Lane returns to New York from his Yale professorship with one goal: to find General Washington's spy hidden among the ranks of the elite. Searching for a wife was supposed to be nothing more than a convenient cover story for his mission, but when he meets Winter, with her too-intelligent eyes in her too-blank face, he finds a mystery that can't be ignored.
Both believers...and both committed to a separate cause. Will their faith in God lead them to a shared destiny or lives lived apart?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Remember When . . . Tea Bespoke Liberty?

Happy Independence Day!

Liberty Tea
In the 1770's Colonists forsook the partaking of tea imported from the British, and thus American women looked to their own gardens and the world around them to create their own teas.  Ribwort, sassafras, willow bark, birch, strawberry leaf, lemon balm, verbena, and currant bush were used as substitutes, as well as raspberry leaves which were used to make "Hyperion Tea."  Spearmint, peppermint, wintergreen, orange bergamot, catnip and pennyroyal were used to create mint teas.  Flowers such as red rose petals, blossoms of linden, elder, red clover, chamomile, violet, red rose petals, rosehips, linden blossoms, elder, red clover, chamomile, violet and goldenrod were also brewed into tea.  Teas were also made from sweet fern, spicebush, ambrosia, twigs of sweet gum, fennel and dill seed, parsley, thyme, marjoram, rosemary, and sage.

Wanna know more? Hie thee over to Colonial Quills, ask for a cup, and settle in with the ladies for an Independence Day celebration Colonial style! We're going to have a blast!!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Word of the Week - Whatnot

Waaaaaaaaay back in 2006 when I started submitting a historical manuscript, I had an editor respond saying that some of words were too modern. Like "whatnot."

Now, I won't argue that some of my words were indeed too modern. But that she chose that one as an example gave me a chuckle. =)

Whatnot dates to the 1530s, meaning "anything." It's a very literal world, from what + not. Even as a piece of furniture, it's from the early 1800s, named after the items it's meant to hold. I personally love tossing this word into a historical--it's one that feels old, yet is still in occasional use today so is easy to understand.

On a not-word-related note, I'm in one of the areas hit by the severe storms/tornadoes over the weekend, and while we didn't even lose power at our house, my parents are still without electricity, and it's going to take a long time to clean up all the damage from felled trees at my mother-in-law's house--prayers appreciated!