Monday, January 30, 2012

My Big News!

If you want a word of the week today, I'd have to with "surreal"--which is how this big news feels to me. (But did you know it wasn't a word until 1927??? I guess before that people may have just used unreal. But that doesn't quite capture it, so special thanks to Monsieur Apollinaire for coining it in French.)

Many of you probably saw my announcement on Facebook on Friday, but if not, I can finally announce the big news I've known about since October--Harvest House just bought a three-book series from me!

Now, here's why this is so surreal. Some of the first Christian fiction I read was by Lori Wick. I discovered her books when I was twelve, and my mom and I would both read all of them, even sharing them with my piano teacher. Those books were what inspired my first novel (finished at age 13). And as I finished that first novel and started dreaming of publication, my eyes naturally moved to the spines of those books I so loved.

Harvest House. Oh, the wonders of a publisher like Harvest House! It seemed everything on my shelf was either from Harvest or Bethany. Surely, surely I could find a home there!

But as the years went by and I learned more about the publishing world, I started to think that, while I would find a great publisher (surely!), it probably wouldn't be those ones I'd dreamed of for over a decade. And that was okay.

Still, when I had the chance to meet with an editor from Harvest House at the 2009 ACFW conference, I was excited. I pitched to her a contemporary romance, and she read the first few pages right there in the appointment, and declared that my writing was great. I was now excited but also guarded. I knew how long these things could take, and how an enthusiastic editor didn't always mean anything.

Sure enough, a year went by without hearing anything. I got in touch with this editor and discovered that she'd misplaced the manuscript, so I resent--along with a slew of other proposals for historicals she'd asked to see when I inquired about historical romance possibilities.

But after many months, I got the bad news on that contemporary--they just weren't doing straight-up contemporary romance. So I said, "Well, what about a historical romance set around George Washington's first spy ring, during the Revolution?" I'd just had this idea, you see, knew it would be a great follow-up to Annapolis, which had recently been contracted.

She said, "Oh, I'd be interested in looking at that!" So after finishing up a couple other projects, I got to work researching this idea I had. I titled it Ring of Secrets and came up with one of the best one-line blurbs I've ever managed:

For a Patriot daughter in Loyalist New York, 
opening her heart could mean a noose around her neck.

I sent it off totally unsure that those first three chapters were any good, but I said, "Eh, it'll take her a good while to get to it, anyway. I can always send her a revised version . . ."

An hour later I get an email from this editor. I opened it up thinking it would be, "Thanks, got it!" But no--it said, "Call me!!!" Uh . . . okay. ;-)

In short, she loved it. Loved it so much that we agreed then and there to meet at the conference we'd both be attending in Oregon in August, and that I'd deliver whatever I had finished at the time. She warned me she wasn't the type to take things to committee before she'd read the whole thing, but I was so excited to hear her talking of taking it to committee that that didn't bother me at all. ;-)

So in August, she read the 75% of the book I had finished, and her enthusiasm for it left me giddy. In September, she told me when the committee meeting would be, in October. The day of, she emailed me several times making sure she had every detail of information right, and to tell me to pray. Warned me it would be two weeks before I heard.

Then it came--the email from her, to me and my agent, with the words I'd waited 15 years to hear: "Harvest House wants to buy this series!"
My first three-book deal, with a publisher I've admired since my introduction in Christian Fiction! I could hardly believe it then, and I can still hardly believe it now, three months of negotiations later. =)

But it's real. Ring of Secrets (assuming the title doesn't get changed, which is always a possibility), a fictional account following the real-life, documented activities of Washington's most trustworthy spies, will release 1 January 2013. Just less than a year from today. Here's my unofficial description. =)

Winter Reeves is a Patriot daughter forced to hide her heart amid the Loyalists of the City of New York. Though she has learned to don a mask to hide her thoughts, she has also learned to keep her ears open so she can pass information on British movements to her childhood friend and his Culper Ring. Never before has she had a problem hiding her true heart behind an image of brainless beauty. But then, never before had someone seen straight to her soul.

Bennet Lane returns to New York from his Yale professorship with one goal: to find Washington’s spy hidden among the ranks of the elite. Romance was supposed to be nothing more than a convenient cover story for his search, a way to gain entrance to the world he had so long shunned—though women are terrifying, baffling creatures that inevitably render him bumbling. But when he meets Winter, with her too-intelligent eyes under her too-blank face, he finds a mystery too intriguing to be ignored.

In a world where loyalty can be bought and sold, where no one can be trusted, and where threat dangles ever before them, Winter and Bennet must find a way through the snares of intrigue . . . before their secrets can swallow them whole.

Winter and Bennet (and Robert Townsend, Benedict Arnold, and a host of other historical figures) will be a reality soon. Followed every six months by their sequels, which will follow the next generation of both Culper Ring and the family in the War of 1812, and then next-next generation in the Civil War. ;-)

Yep . . . definitely surreal. But oh, how I praise Him for it!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Thoughtful About . . . Small Miracles

Another thoughtful day as a result of our home school reading. =) This week we saw Elisha take over for Elijah, and during his stay with all the young prophets-in-training, we got to a story I remembered from when I was a kid but forgot the context of.

So one day, while all the young prophets are off in the woods so they might chop down enough wood to build new houses, an ax head flew off one of the shafts. Landed in the river. Kerplunk. The young man wielding it looked on with distress and cried, "Oh no! That was borrowed! Aaaaaaggghhhhh! Now what am I supposed to do??"

Now, I'll admit I don't know every nuance of the Law, but I suspect that the penalty for accidentally losing an ax head wasn't death or anything. ;-) But the guy was upset. He'd borrowed something, borrowed it for a noble  cause, no doubt promising to return the tool in the same condition in which he'd gotten it. Which was certainly not at the bottom of the river.

Still, it's a little thing, isn't it? An ax head. Kind of akin to lost keys. Or a broken down car. Vital things, but not really life-and-death things. Yet seeing the young prophet's distress, Elisha picks up a stick, goes to the exact spot in the river where the ax had fallen, and tosses it in.

Up floated the ax head, as if it were made of wood.

When reading this to Xoe, this is where I stopped and said, "Now, what are axes made of?"

Xoe: "Metal!"

Me: "Does metal float?"

Xoe, laughing: "No, it sinks!"

Me: "And that's why this is a miracle."

Simple. Little. Wasn't it?

The more I thought about this "little" miracle, the more I realized it wasn't so little. Perhaps it wasn't as showy as parting the sea, or the river. Perhaps it wasn't as over-reaching as feeding thousands with a few loaves (Elisha did both of those just before this too). But it required rewriting the laws of physics. And you know, that's a pretty big deal. Making an ax head float . . . well, you might as well make the young prophet fly. Pretty much the same amount of miracle needed.

So I sat back, and I chewed on it. God, through Elisha, rewrote the laws of physics--for one lost tool. 

And yet still people doubt that He cares, especially about the little things. Still people doubt what He can do. Still people will say, "Why didn't He just stop the ax head from flying off??" instead of looking at what He did do.
When I first heard this story, I couldn't have told you what "laws of physics" were, LOL. Sure, I knew metal didn't float, but mostly this story fell into the category of "Wow, isn't God nice?" in my little-kid mind. And He is. He is so, so nice. So good. So loving.

So much so that He'll do the impossible just to restore peace of mind to one who loves Him.

I'm going to be clinging to that ax head a lot. As a reminder of how far the Lord will go for the little things. As a reminder of how quick He often chooses to act. As a reminder of the "small" miracles that He does that we often probably don't even notice. But that require just as much miraculousness as the big ones.

With God, there really is no big or small. He doesn't weigh and measure like we do. I believe he sees a need, measures the faithfulness of the asker, not the task itself. And does what needs to be done.

Thank you, Lord, for caring on a scale I can't fathom. For the ax head as well as the Red Sea. Thank you for the big things you do to save lives and nations . . . and for the little things that let us get through each day.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Remember When . . . Location Was Everything?

This past week, I've been doing a lot of research. I downloaded about a dozen free e-books to my Kindle, all from the Civil War, mostly memoirs and first-hand accounts. And, of course, Uncle Tom's Cabin, which I deem it a gross oversight on my part that I've never read. (Though I was in The King and I in high school and can't think of the book without breaking out into song: "Small house of Uncle Thooooooomas, small house of Uncle Thooooooomas, writ-ten by a wo-man, Harriet Beecher Stooooooooooooow-eh.")

When I first started writing this Civil War book, I thought, "Oh, good. I'll have two books to write in the next  year set in this era. My research will get to double up."

Except, of course, that these two books are about as different as you can get when set in the same era. In my current one, both hero and heroine and Confederates. From Savannah, with its unique Georgian culture. Under their unique Georgian laws. The other one will have hero and heroine who are both Union sympathizers, though my heroine will be a widow of a secret Confederate. It's set in Maryland, which had many who left the state to join the Confederacy, but the state itself was basically not allowed to, given the military presence.

Okay, so my fashion research will be able to double up. Otherwise . . . LOL.

And though it means more work for me, I really love how different stories can be when set in the same time. My colonials are good examples of this too. Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland is set in 1783. Hero and heroine are Patriots, and the heroine even observes that she's scarcely seen a Tory since the war began, which would have been true of Williamsburg, where she grew up. But in my next book, set in 1780 New York City (or rather, the City of New York as it was called at the time), my heroine is literally surrounded by Loyalists after growing up in a Patriot household on Long Island. Who had control of a place played an enormous part in what that place was like. 

In either the Revolutionary or Civil War.

Well, that's what I've been thinking about this past week. ;-) Do you have a particular era you love--and have you noticed the amazing spectrum of perspectives available in it? I'd love to hear about it!

Now back I go to my manuscript. My heroine has just gotten word that the hero is dead. Poor Cordelia!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Story Time - The Merchant's Daughter

The Merchant's Daughter
by Melanie Dickerson 

All Annabel Chapmen has ever wanted is to become a nun. To set her hands upon a Bible, to read the Holy Writ with her own eyes. To discover if it really says what their village priest claims, that all women are evil, nothing but a snare of Satan. But when her merchant father's ships were lost, her dream sank too. And when her father died in the pestilence, it seemed the whole future wavered. And now, now the Chapmans are to be held accountable for the last three years of shirking their duties to the lord of the demesne. Her uncaring brother tries to arrange a marriage for her with the nasty Bailiff Tom so that he will pay the fine they owe, but Annabel cannot. She simply cannot.

She would rather accept the penalty for her family and become a servant at the manor of the newly-arrived lord. At least there, no one can force her to become the wife of a lout. Although that lout is far too close for her peace of mind, and continues to follow her around with his lechery and threats. Praise be to the Lord that there is always someone there to provide safety--usually the beastly-looking Lord Ranulf le Wyse.

Ranulf may have lost his eye and injured his arm through an act of heroism, but the resulting injuries have made him repulsive to any female--something he learned the difficult way when he made the mistake of marrying a woman he thought loved him, but who had instead tread upon his heart before succumbing to the pestilence. Best to turn it cold and draw upon the fierce temper everyone expects anyway, given his ghastly appearance. And best to steer clear of all beautiful maidens--especially the lovely new servant who seems to find trouble every time she moves. He will do his best to protect her from those who would hurt her.

But who will protect his scarred-over heart from her?

The Merchant's Daughter is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, so there are certain elements you know without doubt will be there. The beastly-looking man whose outside appearance goes hand in hand with a fierce temper . . . but a protective, fair heart. The lovely heroine with a desire for books rather than a husband. The full cast of supporting characters that range from delightful young boy to the menacing would-be suitor.

But it's also so much more. This is a story that plunged me directly into a world long-since gone, into the heart of a girl who just wanted to see the Scriptures. Just wanted to read them, and couldn't find a way . . . until she's forced into a situation she thought could render nothing good. Annabel and Ranulf's story is one of yearnings restrained and fears made manifest, of sacrificial love and tender emotion. Compelling from the very first page, these characters will win your heart.

It's been a long, long time since I've been able to find the time and energy to read a book in less than a day--in the last year, even really excellent books take me weeks to read. But The Merchant's Daughter stayed in my hand all morning last Sunday, and I scarcely put it down until I'd finished it. I knew when I spotted it on the shelf that it would give me exactly what I needed--an interesting, involved, beautifully transporting read--and it exceeded my expectations. I read this book in one gulp and loved every second of it!

Billed as a young adult novel, this is one I intend to give to my teenaged niece for her birthday, for sure--but it's also one that women of all ages will enjoy, especially if they have a love for fairy tales. Melanie Dickerson has done it again with this amazing medieval romance, and I just can't recommend it enough. 

So go! Order one, pick one up off the shelf, borrow one--whatever you have to do to get your hands on it--you'll thank me. So I'll just say "you're welcome" now. ;-)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Word of the Week - Show

This ranks as one of those "who'd a thunk?" late arrivals to the English language. Not in every sense, of course, but I think you'll be surprised by some of the years on this!

Okay, so "show" as in act or performance is as old as you might expect, coming from the 1300s. And an appearance put on to deceive, or an ostentatious display are from the 1500s. As a verb, it's even older, though with a twist unique to English. Ours evolved into a meaning of "to make known" in the 1200s, but the correlating word in other languages still carried its original meaning of "to look at."

But some of the meanings we use most often are the ones that'll get you.

Did you know, for instance, that "show up" didn't come along until 1888? That's after "show biz" which is from the 1850s! And it's even after "I'll show you!" That particular meaning comes from the 1820s.

Interesting, huh? =)

Hope everyone has a great Monday!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Thoughtful About . . . Waiting on Promises

Yesterday in our homeschool Bible reading, we got to one of the best-known stories of Elijah--where he challenged the 450 priests of Baal to an alter competition. (Okay, my words, not theirs, LOL.) You remember it, I'm sure. The priests of Baal build their alter, put on their bullock, pray and pray and pray to Baal for fire to come down from heaven and light the alter.

Nothing. I love this story partially because of how Elijah taunts them. Can't you just see that wily smile as he says, "Maybe your god's asleep. Or on vacation. Cry louder."

And they do, LOL. Then, of course, after that fails, Elijah builds his alter on the exact spot it should have been all these years, puts on his bullock, and has TWELVE barrels of water dumped onto the alter. Now, it hasn't rained for years and years at this point, so that was probably some precious stuff. Elijah prayed, and fire swooshed down from heaven, devoured the offering, the water, and the very stones.

AWESOME.

But something new jumped out at me yesterday. After the priests of Baal were killed, after everyone fled, Elijah and his servant prayed again. See, it was time for the promised rain to come. Time for the drought to end. Time to bring relief for the people.

So Elijah fell to his knees and beseeched God. God, the Lord, who had just an hour earlier sent heavenly fire for him. God, the Lord, who had led him here. God, the Lord, who had promised, "And then you'll pray again, and I'll send the rains."

Elijah prayed. And his servant looked out over the sea and said, "Nothing. Not a cloud on the horizon."

So Elijah prayed again. Still, there was nothing. So he prayed again. And again. And again. And again. Each time, his servant went to check the horizon. Each time, he saw  . . . absolutely . . . nothing.

This is what hit me. Seven times Elijah had to pray before that mist began to rise out of the sea. Seven times! Do you think he was wondering what was taking so long? I mean, the fire had been immediate. So why the wait now? Why was God not listening? Had He changed His mind and not told Elijah? Can you imagine that prophet looking over his shoulder and thinking, "Wow, glad all those priests aren't watching this now."

Okay, so Elijah may not have had those thoughts, LOL, but I probably would have. I probably would have thought round about prayer number four, "God, You promised! You promised!! 'Pray for rain,' You said, 'and I'll make it rain.' Well, I'm praying--so where's the rain?!"

But Elijah was faithful. We don't know how long each of these prayers was, but I have a feeling it was a little more in depth than, "Oh, Lord, please let it rain!" ;-) This man was prostrate before the Lord, begging. Begging for the rains to come. 

What if he had given up? What if he said, "Sigh. Maybe the Lord doesn't want me to be a prophet anymore."? Had he only prayed, say, five times, what would have become of Israel?

Doubt, discouragement is natural--the very next day, when Elijah hears that Jezebel is out to kill him, he forgets to pray and just runs. Runs. Even though God sent the fire, sent the rain, Elijah doesn't even think to ask him to save his life. But God catches up with him on the mountain he runs to, after sustaining him during the run.

God's always there while we're running. He's there while we're hiding in the cave. He's there while we're praying, stirring up the mists, even though we can't see them yet. He's there. Not in the whirlwind, not in the earthquake . . . in the whisper. In the whisper is the voice of the Lord, just waiting for us to quiet up enough to hear Him. Waiting for us to listen. Waiting for us to wait upon Him.

How many times have we prayed for the same thing? How many times do we not see it happen and get discouraged?

But the Lord is stirring up the mists in the sea while we pray. He's working in the mysteries we can't understand, working within our world, our time, our reality so that everything will line up just so for us. We can't see all that--our eyes are only human. 

But He's there. Preparing the rain. 

Our part is to stay on our knees until we see it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Remember When . . . The Painting Was Alive?

Tableux Vivant.

Sounds pretty, doesn't it? French often does, after all. =) And after taking a few years of it, I know upon seeing this phrase that it means something like "living picture." I also knew when I read that these tableaux were often put on in the 1800s that it was some kind of performance, and that they were used as fundraisers in the South during the war.

As for what kind of performance--yeah, I had no clue. So if you do already, you're a step ahead of where I was a couple months ago. ;-)

My first thought was that it was a play. In fact, my assumption was that it was a play, and I started writing it into my story as if it were. My heroine was preparing a script, casting her friends in the roles. Then something went "clang clang clang!" in my brain, and I thought, "Hmmm, I'd better actually look that up."

Good thing I did! Some quick research showed me that a tableau vivant is something unique. The performers would select a well-known painting or other work of art (statuary, etc.) and then mimic it. Strike a pose to imitate it, their costuming reflecting the original work of art, and a narrator would say something about it. Then there would be a change of scenes, and the performers would move into another pose, another painting.

Pretty neat, huh? Of course, it threw a wrench into my plan for my writer-heroine to be putting her brilliant wordsmithing to work . . . so I had to get creative--er, have her get creative. ;-) In my story, my heroine, Cordelia, writes a story to pull together these well-known paintings and has gathered all her friends together (those left in the city, that is--most had already fled inland, away from those blasted Yankees) to strike the poses. Their goal--to raise funds for the Confederacy. It is, of course, a smashing success.

Tableaux are still put on today, so some of you are probably familiar with this interesting type of performance. But I can honestly say none of them had made it to my neck of the woods, so it was fun and interesting to learn about them, and integrate them into my story. Vive les tableaux!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Word of the Week - Sensation(al)

As usual, my word of the week comes from last week's writing experience. =) My heroine has just spent weeks preparing a performance, which went off without a hitch. Her father comes up and says, "You were a . . ." Sensation is what I want to say. But that sounds a bit too modern, doesn't it?

So I look it up. As expected, I discover that "sensation" in its physical sense--a reaction to stimulation of the senses, so sensation of cold, hunger, etc.--is old. From 1610. I knew it would be. But what about the secondary sense? I was expecting mid-1800s, I'll be honest. 

Nope. That one, the definition of "state of shock or surprise within a community" is from 1779! Definitely safe to use in my story, which was good. So out of curiosity, I looked to the next entry, sensational. As in, aiming at producing said shock within a community. That one was more what I expected, dating from 1863. And sensationalism in literature is recorded two years after that.

Hope everyone has a sensational Monday!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Thoughtful About . . . Thirsting and Savoring

Last year when I prayed for a word from the Lord to encompass my year, I received it in a thunderbolt of realization. A chill up the spine, a near overwhelm of feeling and knowledge. I was waiting for that again this year . . . but since when does the Lord do what we expect? ;-)

These past two weeks as I prayed for His message for me for 2012, I had slow, gentle trickles of inspiration--the kind I easily mistake as my own thought. But the more I pondered and prayed, the more I circled back again and again to a theme encompassed by these two words: Thirst. Savor.

I try to ground myself in the Word and in prayer daily. But so often I get sidetracked or distracted or just plain forgetful. How do I stay focused on You, Lord?

Thirst.

No one (generally) has to remind me to take a drink of water. Why? Because I get thirsty. This year I'm praying that I stay thirsty for the Lord and for His word. That I wake up every morning hungering for that quiet time with Him. That it isn't duty, that it isn't obligation, that it isn't habit or rote--that it's need. Longing. Yearning. Thirst.

But that wasn't the only thing that I kept thinking. Because what do I do once I've drank of the Living Water, once I've imbibed from the Word? What do I do with the blessings He pours out into my soul and my life?

All too often, I get excited at first and then let the irritations distract me. I get frustrated with what looks like a lack of progress. Or with demands on my time that interfere with what I want to be doing. How do I manage that, Lord? How do I make sure I don't just gulp down what You pour out and then forget you ever did?

Savor.

When the Lord gives us a gift, we shouldn't act like my 3-yr-old boy does on Christmas and go, "Wow! Cool!" then toss it aside and beg for the next one. I know I sometimes do this, so this is a crucial word for me. I need to dwell on gratitude. To appreciate each and every place God puts me in, and each thing He brings into my life. To savor.

I'm yearning, Lord, and I'm lingering on what You give me, tell me, show me when I seek You. I'm thirsting. I'm savoring. And with Your help it's a lesson I'll learn all the better in 2012.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Remember When . . . She Went Native?

Ahem. Well, I got your attention with that title, didn't I? ;-)


Much of my past week was spent doing one final edit of Sandi Rog's Walks Alone. In this truly excellent historical romance, heroine Anna gets kidnapped by a band of Cheyenne and taken to their village in the Rockies. There, she learns so many interesting things about the tribe's culture.

I've long been intrigued by the Native Americans (American Indians? Which is The Way to Say It these days?) and know a good bit about some of the different tribes. I'd never studied the Cheyenne though and found some of the details Sandi brought to life to be truly fascinating.

Especially some of their traditions that are remarkably similar to Old Testament instructions, like how one is to treat a woman in her monthly time. The parallels to the Law is striking, not only in that they're considered unclean for those days, but also in the ritual surrounding cleansing from it. 

I was also super-interested to learn that in a Cheyenne marriage, there is no consummation until ten days after the wedding ceremony--who knew?? Loved learning that sort of detail! Ranked right up there with learning that there are those in the tribe who keep a pictorial record book of the tribe's history--basically a picture book denoting wins and losses in battle, great hunts, and the other defining moments of a tribe's history.

Cool, eh? And you can rest assured that Sandi got it all right, because it's been read and approved by a Cheyenne chief, which is yet another coolness-factor in its favor. =)

So, now that you're thoroughly intrigued and want to find out more, hop on over to Amazon and either pre-order your print copy or buy your Kindle copy. ;-) The other digital versions will be available within a week or so!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Word of the Week . . .Vacation

My husband has been asking for months and months, "When's my vacation?" Working for himself as he does, he can rarely take a day off. This weekend we traveled a few hours to visit friends for a birthday celebration, and we looked at it as a mini vacation.

Which of course made me wonder about the word. =) I was pretty surprised to learn that it's as old as it is! It strikes me as a modern idea, I suppose . . . or maybe I just tend to think of the British word "holiday" as being older. 

But in actuality, "vacation" dates from the 14th century with the meaning of "freedom from obligations, leisure, release." Which I guess goes to show that as long as people have been toiling, they've been in need of a break. Even the formalized version--i.e. a break from school--is from the 15th century. But the idea of going away somewhere to pass this free time (a distinction I would have thought subtle) is from the late 1800s. Who knew?

Hope everyone has a lovely Monday!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Thoughtful About . . . Umm . . .

It's one of those days where I'm sitting here staring at my computer screen going, "Surely I have thoughts. Surely I do. I can be thoughtful about . . . umm . . . no, that's stupid. But maybe . . . hmmm . . . no, I don't think so."

Yeah, little random in my thinking this morning. In a few minutes I have to get back to the final preparation for Walks Alone, so it's all set and ready to go in ten days. Then it'll be time to begin the school day--lots to do there. My little boy keeps begging me to find that one little Matchbox car he misplaced, and keeps chasing around the cats and scaring them under the furniture. So typical, LOL.

One fun thing, if you didn't see it on my Facebook page. I've decided to participate in a neat little blog series this year, the goal to read a chapter from the Bible every day. I like the idea of having some accountability and discussion in my daily reading, so this just jumped out at me as a great thing to sign up for! If you haven't seen it yet, it's at http://mybible360.blogspot.com/. We've got some fun discussion going on so far. =)

Let's see, what else is going on this first week of 2012? I'm still praying that the Lord will reveal a word to me to encompass the year. Anyone else doing this? Have you gotten one yet? I'd love to hear about it, if so!

Oh, and if you are or know a teen writer, I'm running a fun contest over at Next Gen Writers this week--send in a 50 word blurb about your main character and get feedback and possibly a proposal request from WhiteFire.

Okay, I obviously need more coffee. Brain is still so sluggish . . . hope everyone's week is swimming along well!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Remember When . . . Things Got Interesting?

I looked down at my calendar this morning and realized that, round about this time in 1784, things were getting interesting for my characters. =) Within a day or two of this date, my hero had finally tracked down and come face to face with my heroine after a tense separation--and she had made her opinions on this action of his very well known.

The result was the scene snippet that was up on Shannon Vannatter's romance blog last week, and I thought I'd share it today since it's kind of a "This Day in Annapolis" sort of thing . . . and because I need to get cracking on some editorial duties this morning. ;-)

Speaking of which, WhiteFire's next title is only 11 days away from its digital release, and the print version is available for pre-order on Amazon! Walks Alone is an amazing historical romance that will intrigue, surprise, and delight you as you journey with a determined immigrant from Holland as she makes her way to Denver City . . . and straight into a band of wild Cheyenne. =)

Now for that snippet . . .

from Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland


“I have heard enough.” She whipped the blanket off her shoulders and folded it with a series of sharp, angry motions.

He stepped between her and the door. “This particular anger is more for Wiley than me, isn’t it? I had no way of knowing you did not intend me to read it. So if you would like me to deliver you home to Williamsburg so you can berate him—”

She slapped the blanket onto a chair. “I will stay right here, thank you.”

Her anger was clear, yes. But more, there was stony determination beneath it. “You mean it. Even knowing how your family misses you—”

“Perhaps if my family had respected my wishes and canceled the wedding plans, then I would not have to stay away.”

He studied the upward slant of her chin, the fierce burning in her eyes. She would not be budged. Which meant he had two choices. He could give up and go home, convince their families the betrothal was off. If he chose that option, then he would in effect being saying good-bye to her once and for all. Giving her her wish, which might be the gentlemanly thing to do.

But the light caught the depths of her hair, and her eyes shone like moonstone. Her dress hung in total disarray, but her spine was straight and strong.

Emerson dragged in a long breath and cast his lot on the second option. “If you will not come home, then I shall stay here.”

She blinked, as if uncertain she had heard him correctly. “You…why in the world would you do that?”

His smile felt wry upon his lips. “Because if you are the woman I begin to see you must be, then you are worth the world.”

For a moment he thought he glimpsed tears in her eyes, but then she averted them, and he couldn’t be sure it was anything more than a reaction to the whiff of smoke from the chimney. Her hands fisted at
her sides. “You have never lacked for lovely words, Emerson. But it is too late. Go or stay, it is no concern of mine.”

He inclined his head. “Then with your leave, my dear, I shall stay.”

With all the lack of concern of a British lady, she picked up her coffee and took a long drink. “Enjoy the town.”

“I think I shall do so more this time than ever before. Given the company.”

Her brows rose. “I know not what company you have in mind, but I promise you it shan’t be mine.”

He pressed his lips together against a grin. “Then I suppose you shall stay hidden in Randel House? Because I assure you, darling, I still have friends enough in Annapolis that if you step out to a ball or fete, I will have secured an invitation to it as well.”

She looked as though she would have liked to dash the cup to the ground. Instead she raised her chin. “Very well. Enjoy the holiday celebrations too. But if you call me ‘darling’ again, ’tis the plank for you.”

A smirk sprang to his lips before he could stop it. “You have pirates among your new acquaintances?”

“Scores of them.” She sashayed past him with a smirk of her own, leaning close enough to say, “And Cap’n Mobcap’s not one to be trifled with.”

He let her by, mostly so she wouldn’t see his lopsided smile. Getting to know Lark Benton might be the most enjoyment he’d had in ages.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Word of the Week - Motivation

It's the first Monday of 2012, and though we may not all make resolutions, I imagine many of us are thinking about what we want to do differently this coming year, and what we won't want to budge on. We're embracing the idea of a fresh start in some areas and accepting the traditions as a way to motivate ourselves.

So I figured this would be a good word to share the history of today. =) Did you know that "motivation" wasn't in use until 1873? Pretty late! And even then, it was only used in a literal, physical sense of "causing to move toward action." The sense of "inner or social stimulus" didn't come into play until 1904.

I discovered this last year when writing Annapolis and was baffled for a good long minute. My character was claiming that his friend would question his motivations. But if he couldn't question his "motivations" in 1783, then what was he questioning?

Then I had a "duh" moment--he would be questioning his motives. "Motive" carried that very meaning since the 15th century. Which rather begs the question of why we ever thought we had to add that "-ation" ending to it, doesn't it?

Which brings me back to one of my favorite quotations--I believe this is from Pascal, though I'd have to look through my old notes to make sure, so if I'm wrong, please correct me. I love this one because it's basically saying "Don't be pretentious, dude." So a fun one to start off our new year . . .

"Think with deep motives--but talk like an ordinary person."

Happy New Year!