Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 in Review

Well, here we are--the last day of 2012. My year ended with quite a few inches of snow this past week, and with the promise of a very busy 2013. So as is my custom, I wanted to take today to look back over the year with only a few short hours left in it.

At the end of 2011, I'd just gotten a three-book deal with Harvest House, but I hadn't signed the contracts yet so hadn't been able to announce it. Now, of course, we all know that it's the Culper Ring Series, and Ring of Secrets is only two months out!
Working on this series has been an amazing blessing to me. While I miss having the time to spend on my biblicals (and while I intend to squeeze out the time for another one of those this next year), the Culpers have taught me lessons I didn't realize I needed to learn. Lessons about waking up each day and asking the Lord, "What can I do for You, for what You've called me to, today? How can I help others?"

I've so enjoyed working with the team at Harvest House, too. Each and every one of them I've talked with is simply amazing, and they've thrown their faith onto me, which is both humbling and exhilarating. They've uttered phrases about my career with them that I've dreamed of for decades. And we have more in the works together that I can't announce quite yet...but which will keep us working together on other projects after the Culpers are finished. So thrilled about that!

But there were some disappointments in 2012 too, career-wise. I vaguely hinted in my 2011 wrap-up that I'd had other offers too. Which I did...but which fell through. And oh, but those hurt. Stories I had poured sweat and tears into, stories that I so fell in love them languishing in my computer caused me some time of mourning. Three of them--three novels, one finished, one a third finished, one still a beautiful proposal--lay waiting for their turn. And while it isn't as though I don't have a ton of books waiting in my computer, these three were special. More, they had been wanted, had been given offers...and then that hope had fallen through.

This being me, though, I raise my chin and say, "Okay, so it wasn't the time for them. Yet. But I know they'll have their day." And in the meantime, I stay so busy with the definite projects that the ache fades. Doesn't disappear, but it fades.

In 2012, WhiteFire also contracted a banner number of books for us. In 2013 we'll have a title releasing every month, which is pretty darn amazing for this small press with the big dreams. We have some fabulous authors working with us now, and these That's about all I can say. WOW. I've taken over the cover design as well as editing, which has been a ton of fun. And now I'm wondering how to balance all the editing with all my writing, with all our home schooling, LOL. Should be an adventure!
There are a few others still awaiting covers, too. =)
Home schooling has been going really well this year. We've found our groove, are loving Sonlight, and Xoe's getting more independent with a lot of her work. She's doing amazingly, and regularly amazes me with her questions, insights, and creativity. Gotta say, though, I'm intimidated at adding Rowyn to the schedule in the next year, LOL.

Xoe in the party scene of The Nutcracker
Rowyn on my lap, waiting for The Nutcracker to start
Overall, it was a good year. I took two trips to Texas (within a month--yeah. Wow.), had a great conference, am privileged to work with so many awesome people, and know I'm on the career path the Lord's been planning for me for years.

It's been a good, busy year. And as I look toward 2013, I know that I have a lot of work coming my way. Tomorrow I'll be focusing on the looking-ahead.

So how about you? What have you learned this year? What joys have taken you by surprise? What disappointments did you have to conquer? And what are you looking forward to in 2013?

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Influencers Needed!

It's that time! I'm only two months away from the release of Ring of Secrets, and the marketing team at Harvest House has asked me to compile my list of influencers.

What, you ask, is an influencer? Quite simply, it's someone who agrees that, in exchange for the publisher sending them a free copy of a book, they will (assuming they like it) do some or all of the following:
  • Post reviews on retailer sites
  • Buy a copy for everyone they see in the grocery line
  • Blog about it (assuming they have a blog)
  • Have the cover tattooed across their forehead
  • Talk it up to all their friends
  • Take out an airplane banner ad for it
  • Request their library stock it
  • Invest in a giant blinking sign for their roof that says "Buy Ring of Secrets!"
  • Request their bookstores stock it
  • Leave some bookmarks/postcards with libraries or stores or in waiting rooms
;-) Okay, so I doubt anyone would do all of those, LOL. But if you're interested in taking on some influencer tasks, email me at roseanna at roseannawhite dot com with your address and what you'll be able to do to help with the influencing. (I have a limited number of spots left, so hurry!)

And, and in case you've missed the blurb...

Love Has No Place in a World of Spies

 1779—Winter Reeves is an aristocratic American Patriot forced to hide
 her heart amid the British 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, she will be executed for espionage, but she prays the
 Lord’s protection will sustain her, and Robbie has taught her the tools
 of the trade—the wonders of invisible ink, secret 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
 city’s 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 are determined to prevail at any cost…and each is committed to a
 separate cause. Will God lead them to a shared destiny or lives lived


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Merry Christmas!

I've been down with a cold for two days, plus am gearing up to turn in Whispers from the Shadows tomorrow--which means one last go-through. Yay!

And, of course, we've been hip-deep in Christmas prep around here. Including gingerbread cookies and ballerina pickles. ;-)

After tomorrow, Christmas break officially starts over here. Which means I'm going to take a much-needed break too, and will be taking next week off blogging. Hopefully coming back with a plate clear of some of my piled-up tasks and just bursting with inspiration.

Christmas plans in my world are pretty typical. I still need to do all my wrapping (yikes!), but the festivities will begin this weekend. A party at my fabulous sister's, a candlelight service on Christmas Eve, where the kids will be singing "Go, Tell It on the Mountain" in their adorable little-kid voices. So cute! My niece has an absolutely amazing voice and will be wowing us with two selections, and I'll be (throat willing) breaking out one of my absolute favorites, "Mary, Did You Know?" I've been practicing that one, and Rowyn has declared it one of his favorites and likes to sing it with me. Can I just tell you how sweet it is to hear a 4-year-old voice singing that song? Awwww.
How about everyone else? Big, fun Christmas plans?

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Prayer as We Mourn

Friday afternoon I saw only the briefest clip of the news. A reporter outside a school, and the caption under them. That was it--about five seconds. I caught "CT school shooting" and nothing more--I had two kids waiting in the living room with a bare Christmas tree. The reality of what must have just happened hit me, but I deliberately put it aside. Focused on the decorating with only a few prayers about what must have been.

I tended my kids, our dinner, our decorating. I caught another few minutes of the news while they were playing a few hours later. And as I was putting them to bed and we were saying prayers, my tongue stumbled. Usually, we pray together for those we see on the news. We pray for hurricane victims, we pray for ill relatives, we pray for any number of normal but tragic events.

But this? I whispered a prayer silently, wondered what I should say...and made the quick decision not to burden my little ones with this. Because it's too awful, to big, too terrifying. Because they can't live if they're afraid to walk outside, if they're afraid to be in a crowd. I can't do that to them, not when they're so young. And so I insulate. Not from everything. Not from most. But from this? Yes. Yes, I will keep their sensitive ears and hearts from this. Because it's too much, and nothing they can do can keep them safe from this kind of violence.

I'll be honest. I can't process this atrocity. I can't, I just can't fathom that someone would do this. And you know, I don't think we should be able to process it. I don't think we should be able to imagine how those families feel. No one should, them included. So I will pray. I will pour out my soul to my God and know that He is big enough, strong enough, Lord enough to process what I can't. I will pray and cry and mourn and know that He weeps with us.

In church, our bishop said he had asked the Lord, "Why didn't you stop it?" And he heard God's answer whisper in his spirit. Saying, "I tried. So many times I tried."

But. But maybe the warriors refused to pause their lives and pray. Maybe someone ignored the nudge to talk to this troubled man. Maybe someone did, and the evil in the world distracted him. I don't know. I can't know.

But what I do know is this--we live in a world with evil. We always have. Each time something so terrible as this happens, we wonder what is becoming of our world. Well, I'll tell you--we haven't changed it. That's what. Since the dawn of history people have been committing atrocities. People have been slaughtering innocents. People have been murdering children. Such cruelty isn't new, not even close. It's as old as man himself. It's old and it's horrible and it's unthinkable--yet it's happened countless times.

And it won't stop until we reclaim our world. It's not about politics, it's not about gun control, it's not about medication or mental health or security protocols. It's about us. You and me and every other believer out there. It's about what we don't do. It's about the prayers we don't say. It's about the knees we don't fall to until it's too late. It's about the hearts too busy to be bothered.

Oh, Lord, I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry I didn't pray. I'm so sorry I didn't have a heart open to your whisper on Friday. I'm so, so sorry I didn't ask you to send your angels. I'm sorry that now there are family with presents wrapped and ready and no precious hands to open them. I'm sorry that there is an entire town reeling from loss. I'm sorry that I don't know what to do.

Show me, Father God. Show me how to change myself, my family, my church, my town, my state, my nation. Show me how to hear you and heed you. Show me how to pray. Show me how to fight what I cannot see. Show me how to love those who need you most. Show me how to be your warrior.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Thoughtful About . . . Eagerness

This time of year, if you want a study in eagerness, all you have to do is take a look at children. Okay, if mine are the example, then looking at them anytime will give you a study in eagerness. =) At times, all that anticipatory energy can be exhausting. But sometimes, it can be so very inspiring, can't it?

I love that kids can be just as excited about a day of service as they are about a birthday party. That reading a book to their younger sibling is as much a cause for celebration as a trip to the ice cream shop. I love that making their father a Christmas present is as awesome for them as opening one of their own.

I love that they take such joy from life--not just from the big things, but from the little. I love how they look forward to watching that new movie just as much the fifth time as the first. I love that they are always so eager for the things they love, no matter the work involved in getting them.

And I love that Jesus uses them as the example of how our faith should be.

I sometimes wonder when we lose that eagerness, that full-out joy. I'm sure I've wondered it here before. But as an adult, it's so easy to worry too much to enjoy things. To look at things like Christmas cookie baking as a time-consuming must instead of anticipated fun. It's easy to look at all the holiday activities and see only the minutes and hours adding up--and counting down--and get stressed wondering how to fit it all in. It's easy to look at that gift you want to get someone but can't afford and feel disappointed.

And it's so, so easy to forget to be eager about our faith. Sure, we talk about the Reason this time of year. But are we excited about it? Are we eager for Him every day of the year? Do we jump up and down for him morning after morning, like a four-year-old asking for his favorite breakfast?

This year, though I'm under deadline and anticipating a move and overall busier than usual this Christmas, I keep getting hit with this enormous gratitude for the enthusiasm of my children. It leaves me exhausted, but it reminds me of what matters. Of how I should be greeting the world. Of how I should be living my faith. 

It reminds me of how my heart should be before the Lord--all-out, bubbling-over, squealing with delight joyful.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Remember When . . . You Hid the Pickle?

I thought I'd share a short little Christmas tradition today. =)

Every year, my mother-in-law takes my kids shopping for a Christmas ornament. And for the first couple years of this tradition, she would always get them one of the glass pickles you've no doubt seen. I'd never seen really paid attention to these before, but the kids thought they were awesome and of course asked for the why of it. My MIL explained that you kind of hide the ornament on the tree, and whoever spots it gets to open the first gift.

Some sites I'm scrolling through this morning claim that the tradition started with a real pickle. Kinda believable, since back in the early days of Christmas trees, food was used as decoration. Fruits and candies especially, but why not a shiny green pickle? (Okay, I hate pickles, so that wouldn't be a treat for me, LOL.) Interesting possibility though, eh?

But that only partly explained the why, right? I just looked up where this came from and found that it was a Victorian tradition. The story goes that back in the medieval days, a dastardly innkeeper trapped two poor (an apparently bothersome) children in a pickle barrel on Christmas Eve. St. Nick came along and heard them in there so set them free. They ran home and arrived just in time to share their family's feast. Perhaps with a pickle or two?

Regardless, my daughter's favorite ornament is her ballerina pickle. =) She loves it so much that it hangs in her room all year round.

What's your favorite Christmas ornament?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Word of the Week - X-mas

1922 ad in Ladies' Home Journal

I remember, as a child, writing stories and assignments for school around this time of year and occasionally using the abbreviation "X-mas" for Christmas. I remember teachers telling me not to use abbreviations in my assignments, and I remember someone else (can't recall who) telling me not to use that one for Christmas because it just wasn't right to take Christ out of Christmas (or something to that effect) and replace it with an X.

So in my middling years, I refused to use it, thinking it somehow mean to Jesus...then later I actually learned where it came from. 

Pretty simple, really. The Greek word for Christ is Χριστός. You might notice that first letter. Our X, though it's the Greek "chi." No paganism here, no dark, dastardly scheming to remove Jesus from his birthday. Scholars started this as a form of shorthand. The first English use dates to 1755 in Bernard Ward's History of St. Edmund's College, Old Hall. Woodward, Byron, and Coleridge, to name a few, have used it to. And interestingly, similar abbreviations date way back. As early as 1100, the form "Xp̄es mæsse" for Christmas was used in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.

So. It's still an abbreviation and oughtn't be used in formal writing and more than w/ or b/c, but it's also perfectly legitimate as what it is. Always nice to discover something like that. =) And I hope as everyone gears up, they have a truly wonderful one! I'm happy to say we survived the crazy Nutcracker weekend around here. ;-)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Thoughtful About . . . Gifts

I'm happy to say that this year (as opposed to most years), I'm nearly done my Christmas shopping already. I have a few things yet to pick up, but all the tricky ones are handled. I'm feeling on top of things there. Mostly. ;-) And as I talk with my kiddos about the real meaning of Christmas and all that fun stuff, I can't help but think about the gifts I'm most grateful for.

I totally neglected to post on Thanksgiving (though I'd meant to, LOL), so I figured I'd take a few minutes now, halfway between the holidays, to give thanks for those gifts that make my life worth living.

Sometimes it just hits me anew how blessed I've been in my family life. God put me in a loving, amazing family growing up. One that protected without being overbearing. One that nurtured without stifling. One that provided fun as well as life-lessons to remember. My parents taught me to love God and follow Jesus, to chase after my dreams, and to always be myself. They somehow raised me to be secure in exactly who I was, so long as I was following the path the Lord wanted me on. I am so, so grateful for my family.

Then I happened to meet the man of my dreams at a very young age. Oh, that caused some nay-saying back then, to be sure. In this day and age, it just isn't expected that you meet your soul mate at 15 and get married at 18 (by choice, not by shotgun, LOL). But David and I knew what we wanted and needed, and I don't regret a moment of the last eleven and a half years of marriage. I am so, so blessed to have a husband who not only loves me but understands me. Who supports my every dream and encourages my every goal. No matter what comes and goes in this life, I know he'll be beside me every moment he can be. And I am so grateful for that rare and precious gift.

And then the children God has given me! Goodness, I know most parents think the exact same thing, but these little people are just amazing. Sure, I get frustrated with them. But when I take a step back and really look at who they are, I can't believe the sweet hearts they have, the joy, the delight. They really are the lights in our lives, and I'm so, so proud of them. And grateful for every hug and cuddle, for every grin and giggle.

Then I look back over the years I've traveled to get to where I am, over the tears and letdowns in an attempt to build a career, and then at the place I've ended up. Not that I'm now a best-selling, raving success or anything, but I'm here. Where I've always wanted to be. I'm working with an editor who believes in me, with a house that believes in me, on projects that excite us all. I'm working as an editor with amazing authors whose stories leave me breathless. And I'm finally "supporting my habit," as I call it. ;-)

I have so much. So much to be grateful for, so many gifts that I've received, gifts that I never would have put on my list for Santa, but which far surpass that bike I had to have or the doll that was utterly necessary at age 7.

Don't get me wrong, I love that new Dyson vacuum cleaner that just arrived yesterday, and all the other gifts my family blesses me with each year. ;-) But at the end of the day, when the new pots are in the cabinet and the new shirt is stained and worn, I can settle on my couch with the man I love and think, "Wow, Lord. You've given me love. You've given me family. You've given me my dreams. Please show me what I can give back to You to show You that Your love is what I prize above all."

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Remember When . . . Christmas Was A-Comin'?

I'm under serious deadline right now, so I thought I'd fill the blog today with some fun Christmas images. =) Enjoy! (And FYI, these are all free images, so you're welcome to borrow!)

Victorian Christmas Card, 1885

Victorian Christmas Card, 1870
Christmas Comes But Once a Year by Charles Green

Monday, December 3, 2012

Word of the Week - Park

Estes Park, Colorado, Whyte's Lake by Albert Bierstadt, 1877

Happy December, everyone! I don't know about you, but with small kids in the house, the Christmas spirit has descended around here. Yesterday was spent making salt-dough ornaments, and this coming weekend my little girl will be in The Nutcracker. Gotta love it. =)

For today's Word of the Week, I bring you another one that surprised me in some respects when I, for some reason or another, thought to look it up. Park, as a noun, has been around pretty much forever, at first meaning an enclosed area for hunting. There's some speculation that its root comes from the word for the fencing, rather than the land enclosed. But by the 1600s, it had taken on its now-traditional meaning of a place in a town or city for public recreation.

What got me was the verb. It derived from a particular form of the noun that was reserved for military vehicles, and so became "to arrange military vehicles in a park" in 1812. So late! I kinda thought that as long as there were vehicles, there would be a word for parking them. But apparently it wasn't park for quite a while, LOL. And it didn't get extended to non-military vehicles until 1844.

Not surprisingly, the application to cars is more modern still. As a transmission gear, park made its debut in 1949. (Anyone know what they called it before that? Anyone? I have no clue...) And park-and-ride joined the scene in 1966.

And now that I'm firmly parked in front of my computer, it's time to get back to trimming Whispers from the Shadows. Hope everyone has a lovely week!