Thursday, January 31, 2013

Thoughtful About . . . Only Blocks

For Christmas, my little guy got some Legos. He's got great fine motor coordination and will sit there and happily build some fun things. But last week, he just couldn't get the pieces to stick together like he wanted. And from happy builder he turned into wailing child.

I, in my infinite wisdom, (ahem) said something along the lines of, "Rowyn baby, I know you worked hard, and I understand that it's frustrating, but you don't have to cry over it. It's only blocks."

My logic did little to help him, gotta say. But it sure resonated with me.

What do you think we look from heaven, toiling away at our lives? Building our castles, our kingdoms, our empires? All our grand plans, all our hard work, all our building and growing and planning? To us, it's everything. It's our world. It's our focus.
A Lego building at NASA's KSC

But to God? I can imagine him watching us with a fond smile, just like I like watch Rowyn snap colored blocks together. I can imagine him sitting up a little straighter from time to time, opening his mouth to point out a better way to do something--but we, stubborn children that we are, shake our heads and say, "No. I want to do it myself." I can imagine him sighing when that way doesn't work and our little world we've built comes tumbling down.

And oh, that hurts us. How we cry and rant and rage and sometimes even rail at Him for not making it all better, conveniently forgetting that we refused his guidance because our vision was just so perfect.

That, I think, is when God gathers us into his arms and whispers in our ears, "You don't have to cry over this, baby. I know you worked hard. I know it's frustrating when things don't turn out like they should. But they're only blocks."

Still, we can't quite accept that, can we? Those blocks, those tools, are all we have to work with. And we so wanted to build that thing we imagined...

And so God pats our back and says, "I know. And I want you to build it too. Let's do it together, okay? Let me help you fix this problem right here..."

That might require undoing some of the other work we've done to get at the flaw. And we might cry a little more when we see that. But then he'll fill the hole, line up the pegs, shift it all away from treacherous ground, and hand it back over.

And sometimes, we might greet his aid with a new tantrum and toss it all aside. But most of the time, I hope, we learn from him. We see where we went wrong. And we smile up into our Father's eyes and say, "Thanks, Abba."
A Lego model of Trafalgar Square, London

Because even if it's only blocks, he still cares. He still claps when we create a masterpiece, he still feels our pain with us when it doesn't turn out right. He still helps us perfect it, and then pats us on the back in paternal pride. Toiling at it is still something he wants us to do. 

But let's remember what it is we're working with. And whose advice we should take while we're building away. He's got a better vantage point up there than we do here at eye-level. And a whole lot more experience with fitting those blocks together.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Remember When . . . Spies Abounded?

This past week, I've been reading everything I can get my hands on about the Knights of the Golden Circle and Baltimore during the Civil War. It is, you see, time to dive into the third book in the Culper Ring Series. Yay! I'd read some overviews before, so I knew some of the far-flung basics about this group and their agenda.

The KGC is one of several groups called collectively "The Copperheads"--all Southern-sympathizing societies that, at the time of the Civil War, were bent on expanding slavery, putting a halt to what they termed the tyrannies of the North, and preserving the agriculture-based way of life that they felt was crucial to America. Most of them didn't seem to want war or succession per se--but they saw the election of Abraham Lincoln as a final straw, a slap in the face, an injury that couldn't go unanswered.

One of the best books I've found on the subject is the diary of John Surratt, called a co-conspirator of John Wilkes Booth. He tells a tale of plot upon plot, most of them foiled by incompetence (much to his frustration), but also because of spies everywhere they turn.

Roseanna is rubbing her hands together in delight. =)

As history goes, this is the stuff I just love to discover for the type of book I'm writing! No matter which side you're looking at, North or South, they're both telling the same story--one of spies among them, hindering plans and stealing goods, plotting destruction and betrayal.

And yet, it's such a sad story in reality, and that's something I also have to try to capture. My story will be set in Baltimore, which was a true house divided at the time. Maryland had always been considered a Southern state, but because of its proximity to Washington D.C., the Union held much of it in a state of Martial Law for most of the war, determined not to relinquish it. But so many of the politicians, police chiefs, judges, newspaper men were Confederate at heart. Surratt tells a tale of most of them belonging to the K.G.C. And every history book expounds on how violence regularly erupted in the city. So regularly, it was called "Mobtown."

I certainly wouldn't have wanted to be a part of all that turmoil at the time . . . but it's the perfect backdrop for my story of espionage and betrayal, of broken bonds of blood and the sacrifice of love. Because this is me, you can be sure there'll be a happy ending. But before they get there, my poor characters sure are going to have to run the gauntlet! (Mwa ha ha ha!)

Monday, January 28, 2013

Word of the Week - Catalyst

Just for the record, I really hated to post something new today and push my lovely book trailer down the page. ;-) But alas, it is Monday, so time to educate! Today we're delving into the world of science.
Lavoisier, considered the father of modern chemistry

Though I don't recall when, I semi-recently tried to use the word catalyst in my 1814-set Whispers from the Shadows, in the way we today often use it--figuratively, meaning something to cause a change. But my wordy-sense (sorry, watching Ultimate Spider-Man even now, and he keep gets a tingle, LOL) had me looking it up, and sure enough...

Catalyst is of course a chemistry word, which I knew. But I hadn't recalled that it wasn't used to mean a "substance which speeds a chemical reaction but itself remains unchanged" until 1902. So I certainly didn't realize that the figurative sense didn't come about until 1943.

What I really didn't know was that it came from another, similar word, catalysis. This formation had the same meaning as catalyst since 1836, and before that meant "dissolution."

Either way, not working in my book, LOL. 

Hope everyone has a good week! My plans are to wrap up my main research for the third Culper book this week, and start writing next week--yay! =)

And in case you haven't swung by lately, you may have missed my announcement that Ring of Secrets is available from ChristianBook.com! Click Here

And of course, don't miss the aforementioned, totally giddyifing (sure, that's a word) book trailer I got on Thursday!

Friday, January 25, 2013

I Have a Book Trailer!

I've never been a total book-trailer fan, but I gotta say--when I got an email from Harvest House last night with this link, I was 100% giddy. =)

I would so appreciate it if you'd take a minute and a half to stop by YouTube and view this! Breathes some excitement into the words I know so well.

Yep--giddy! =)


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Thoughtful About . . . Our God Who Art in Outer Space


For some reason that I can't quite explain, 4-year-old Rowyn has decided that Heaven = Outer Space. There is no hesitation in his mind. When he talks about going to Outer Space, it's to drop in on God and say, "Hello." Preferably in a rocket. That, he says, is where he will go when he dies to live again forever.

Who am I, mere mortal that I am, to try to straighten it all out for him? LOL. The book of Daniel tells us about angels on a physical journey from Heaven to Earth, waylaid by demons so that they arrived seemingly "late" to answer the prayers of the faithful. For all I know, those demons were hiding behind an asteroid orbiting Jupiter. *shrugs*

The Milky Way over the
West Virginia hills
But it came up in my little brain in response to some wonderful conversations and books I was reading yesterday. The conversations joked about how the particular group involved is made of black sheep, it seems. Or at least, would be dubbed so by a prominent few. We like reality in our fiction. We believe that redemption is greatest when the sin was staggering--after all, who will love the forgiver more, he who is forgiven much or little? We believe in thinking, in living our life in this world even if we're not of it, in refusing the neatly bottled answers that are often tossed around in Christian circles.

And yes, that leads some of us to rant and rail on occasion. Why, we ask, do our brothers and sisters in the Church judge us for following Him into the wilderness? Isn't that where He went? Where He ordered us to go??

Then, in something I was reading by my good friend and WhiteFire author Christine Lindsay, she quotes C. S. Lewis, and it resonated:
It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
You know what that hammered home to me? That we're so very small. Sometimes, that makes us petty. Sometimes, that makes us close ourselves into a cozy little box. Sometimes it makes us judge--and I'm not talking just about the ones in the box judging those outside, I'm talking about the opposite too. We all want to be accepted for who we are--and when someone else is different, we feel that as judgment. Don't we?

But what Lewis pinpointed so beautifully there is that God is bigger than that. God is a God of the biggest dreams, the grandest ideas. He's a thinking man's God and an infantile-minded man's God. The God of the broken and of the fixer. He's a God who says, "You want the world? Foolish mortal--I'm offering you heaven."

The Dirty Devil River
photo by Seth G. Cowdery
Or as Rowyn would say, Outer Space. ;-) And that's true too, isn't it? He's the God of the universe, of the infinite.

But how often do we forget that, as Pascal expounded on in a Pensee, the infinite goes both directions? The infinitely great, and the infinitely small. So often, we pick one direction and focus on that, because that's where our interests lie.

I love--absolutely love--that I serve a God with no limits. A God who can touch hearts through the sweetest stories as well as through the grittiest. A God who doesn't say we must change before we can enter His house, but who invites us in as we are and says, "I've been waiting for you. I have a job for you to do, and those quirks of yours will make you a perfect fit."

I don't know about you, but I serve one amazing, all-out, no-holds-barred God. He meets me in the grime, and He promises me the galaxies. He tells me that there's nothing I can dream that's too big...but that sometimes He wants to give me something even bigger than the corporeal, than the physical. He's a God who says, "Go ahead. Reason. Ask questions. Explore the what-ifs. I'll be there too."

So for today, in all gratefulness, I say, "My God, who art in Outer Space, I set your name aside as holy. Establish your kingdom, and do your will, O Lord. Not just up in the stars...but right down here in the muck."

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Remember When...The Countdown Began?


Ring of Secrets is thiiiiiiis close to releasing, y'all! Okay, so maybe thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis close. ;-) I know some stores will stock it beginning February 18, though other places are listing March 1 as the official T-0 day. Either way, I just realized last night that my author copies will be arriving within a couple weeks. Squeeeeee!!!!

Which means I have to get my promotion machine in order! =) Some things you have to look forward to once it's up and running...

  • Online games including:
~ Pick your own spy name
~ Scavenger Hunt
~ Secret messages to decode

  • A kick-butt giveaway featuring:
~ Ring of Secrets (obviously)
~ This one-of-a-kind, hand-crafted  Winter Reeves doll
~ A one-of-a-kind, hand-crafted cameo necklace inspired by the book
~ A leather journal
~ A quill pen
~ Other stuff yet to be selected

  • Guest posts on:
~ Seekerville - "The Intuitive Writer"
~ Novel Rocket - "The Writer's Race"
~ Go Teen Writers (with a fun contest where the winner gets to help me name a character from Book 3!)
~ Tea Party at Colonial Quills
~ Several blogs (want me on yours? Just let me know! I'm happy to interviews or guest posts!)
  • A free novella! (Details are being worked out now with the team at Harvest--this will probably release midway between Ring of Secrets and Whispers from the Shadows, and the "how" will be solidified in the next couple weeks.)
I'm getting really excited, in case you can't tell. =) And since I spent January thus far editing WhiteFire novels and critiquing and doing cover designs and all that other stuff that isn't writing, I didn't have any new, fun historical tidbits to share, so you get to hear about it, LOL.

I'm also considering putting together a Revolutionary Spy Master's Toolkit. With quills, vials of invisible ink, a code book...but this would be pure novelty. Anyone actually interested in this??

And which item are YOU most looking forward to, O Reader of Mine? The giveaway? The name-a-character contest? The book itself?

~*~

I'm also up on the Colonial Quill today! Stop by for some wit from Ben Franklin to propel you through the rest of your week. =) http://colonialquills.blogspot.com/2013/01/some-wit-from-ben-franklin-that-is.html

Monday, January 21, 2013

Word of the Week - Seat

Young Lady Seated at the Virginals by Johannes Vermeer, 1670

I was looking up back seat and saw these entries. And given that they came up in the search backwards (entry 2 before entry 1), I had a moment when I thought seat as in a place of government--like a county seat--pre-dated the thing on which we sit. Not so, but there are some interesting tidbits with this word. =)

Seat, "thing which one sits on," is from about 1200. No great surprise there, that it's one of the Ye Olde English words, eh? But the second meaning of "residence, abode, established place" wasn't long in following, coming into be by the latter part of the same century. It took it a little over 100 years to evolve into "where a government sits."

By 1600, the literal version of the word had extended to include "the posterior of the body." For the part of clothing covering that part, 1835. And finally, seat belt is from 1932--their first appearances being in airplanes.

On more interesting tidbit on that second meaning of seat goes back to the Old English sæt -- which not only meant "a place one sits in ambush" but also "resident, inhabitant." That, I did not know. But it's apparently where the -set ending comes from in British town names like Dorset or Somerset (hey, I have a Somerset around here! LOL) 
I hope everyone had a great weekend!

Oh, and a quick update on little Haley, for those who have been praying. They didn't get the whole tumor--an MRI will tell them how much of it they got, somewhere between 50 and 90%. But Haley's doing really well and has even been transferred to the general Peds ward! Please do keep praying--this isn't over yet, and her poor parents are close to overwhelm.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Prayer Request Reminder!

Please remember Haley in your prayers today. For anyone who didn't see it early, she's an 8-year-old girl (our families go to Bible study together) who had been experiencing dizziness and balance issues. Scans showed a tumor over an inch big growing at the base of her brain stem.

The tumor is benign, praise the Lord, but surgery was obviously still required. That surgery is today, Friday 1/18, at 12:30 p.m. EST. She and her family are understandably terrified.

Please cover them and the doctors and nurses in your prayers! She's at Johns Hopkins, so we know she's getting the best possible care. But do pray for wisdom, guidance, a divine touch, that there are no after-affects from the surgery (brain stem--*shiver*), that her recovery is quick and complete, and that they're all just bathed in the peace of the Spirit today, that nerves are calmed and fears abated.

You have already heard our prayers for this precious little girl, Lord, and we praise you for that. Now we come before you again, thanking you for what you've done and trusting you to keep your hand upon them.

If anyone would like to send Haley a card to let her know she's being prayed for in your neck of the woods, please send me an email at roseanna at roseannawhite dot com and I'll give you her hospital address!

~*~ UPDATE ~*~

Just got the word on Haley. She's doing well, but the doctor was unable to get the entire tumor--it was hard instead of cystic, as they had hoped. He still believes it's benign though. She'll have an MRI over the weekend to see how much they got--they think between 50 and 90%.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thoughtful About . . . Insecurity and Encouragement

Lay thy sweet hand in mine and trust in me by Edmund Blair Leighton

Sometimes I think the world inside my head is a very strange place. Full of double-think and a pendulum of balance I knowingly employ to keep myself cheerful. A fair amount of rationalization when it comes to exercise and indulging in chocolate, and a strange collection of hope and fear.

All that comes into play at this point in the game with a book releasing. I so love Ring of Secrets, I so believe in its message. Of all the books I've written, this is the only one that I not only loved but about which I felt a perfect confidence. I knew this book would find a home. I didn't know for sure where, but I thought Harvest would take it. So when they did, in additional to the excitement, there was this great, peaceful, "Yes." Yes, this is right. This is where it's supposed to be, and it's going to do what it's supposed to do.

But with the book a month away from release, the thoughts are bashing about in my brain. I have such hopes for it...but what if it flops? Harvest House has put so much faith and effort into me...but what if I disappoint them? I so adore this book...but what if others don't?

I'll admit it--I crave the validation of praise. I try not to, and I don't define myself by it. I will always write, as long as I'm able and God permits, and if all the world tells me I stink, then I'll write anyway. Maybe I'll change the what or the how, but I am a writer. But those words of encouragement from readers? Those keep me going. And occasionally words of harsh criticism have been known to derail me for a day or two.

So I've been biting my nails lately. And the reviews have started coming in from advance readers. Mostly good. Nothing proclaiming it the best book ever or anything. And then yesterday, my first bad review of it. Three stars. Sigh.

I was pretty proud of myself for shrugging it off, but it niggled here and there through the night. But not because of the review itself...more because a good review from this same source on Annapolis I had grasped hold of firmly. I grinned and laughed over it. I touted it. And now, with a bad review from the same outlet, I'm perfectly fine with shrugging it off and saying, "What does it matter? It's just one reviewer."

To some, this no doubt seems hypocritical. Perhaps slightly unhinged, LOL. But let me explain.

I'm doing what I have to do. What I'm called to do. It's a ministry for me. While I know that my books aren't the end-all-be-all, aren't Shakespeare or Austen, likely won't top any charts, I also know that I've written them for a reason. And that I have other stories to write for their own reasons. I have, now, commitments and obligations to fulfill. Contracts. Deadlines. I have to write.

And so, I have to feed my spirit. With prayer, with the Word...and with the encouragement of my brothers and sisters of the Church. I have to focus on the good. And I have to push aside the bad, the insecurities. Not criticism that help me grow, but that which just tears down? Out the window it goes.

I have to trust that whatever this book does, what any of my books do, it's okay. I have to remember that it's not about sales or reviews or awards or acclaim or royalty checks. It's about obeying. Listening. And most of all, loving. Loving my Lord enough to write what books He lays on my heart. And loving you enough to risk insecurity and disappointment enough to put my work out there.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Let Me Count the Ways


It's good news time!

Luckily I've been busy with Whispers from the Shadows and then Christmas, otherwise it would have driven me nuts to have known this for a month and a half but been unable to share. ;-) But either way, the wait is over!

I'm thrilled to announce that Harvest House has bought another 3-book series from me! Let Me Count the Ways will launch six months after the Culper Ring Series finishes up and will take the reader to England during the life of Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Each book in the series will be titled after a line from her famous poem and will span the years of her life, incorporating EBB as a secondary character and common thread, but focusing otherwise on fictional hero/heroine in each book.

How fun is that? =)

Book 1, which I believe shall be called How Do I Love Thee? will be set in the Regency, when EBB was a precocious child of 6, already translating Latin and Greek and writing her first poetry. My hero's family estate will neighbor the Barretts', and my heroine will be enamored with the little girl.

Here's a quick blurb on the story:
Lily Collins as Arabelle Denler

Arabelle Denler thinks life is perfect once Edmund Braxton proposes. He is all she could hope for in a match, and surely love will come. In spite of niggling doubts, she is determined that she is doing the right thing...at least until a roguish Naval captain comes on the scene who has decided she will pay the price for Brax’s sins.

The notorious Captain Phillip Camden, nicknamed Le Cœur Noir by the French during the war, is none too pleased to learn that his sister has been compromised by Braxton, who now intends to wed another. But the solution is obvious—he will simply kidnap and thereby ruin the reputation of the rake’s lady so that Brax sees Cam’s sister as the better option. And with his noble little brother willing to clean up the mess, what possible drawback could there be?

A fine plan, until the too-alluring Miss Denler and her talk of faith do the unthinkable—stir his blackened heart and make him wish it clean.
Eduardo Verastegui as Phillip Camden
Now, I can't take all the credit for this idea. =) My editor has had it brewing for a decade. At conference in September, we had lunch and she pitched the idea of a series based on EBB's poem to me, leaving the particular plots and settings up to me. I actually got to take a couple of my previous ideas I'd had lying around and work Elizabeth into them, which is going to be so much fun!

I'm very excited to be working more with Harvest House and am still unbelievably amazed that we already have our next series planned out before Ring of Secrets even releases. (And some good news on that too! I learned last week that RoS will be a Recommended Read [or whatever the technical name for it is] in all Lifeway stores from mid-February through May! Very exciting!!) Goes to show what a wonderful relationship I have with the folks there and the awesomeness of my agent, methinks. ;-)

So while I still have book 3 in the Culper Series to write before I think much more about Let Me Count the Ways, it'll be brewing in the back of my mind amid much anticipation in the meantime. Hence why I've started my Pinterest page for the series. ;-)

http://pinterest.com/roseannamwhite/let-me-count-the-ways-series/

Monday, January 14, 2013

Word of the Week - Talk Back

Scolding by Jose Ferras de Almeida

I have children. Therefore I have uttered the phrase (a time or two--ahem) "Don't talk back." Or perhaps occasionally, "No back-talk." But when I had a character using the same, I ran into a problem.

Back-talk, meaning "an impertinent retort" didn't come around until 1858. Which is, I suppose, why we see phrases like "No impertinence" in older works instead, LOL. Interestingly, the phrase is believed it have originated in literary circles, when writers tried to imitate "low" Irish idioms. Who knew?

Talk back is a form of back-talk that followed it about a decade later. For some reason I thought that one would have been the original, but shows what I know, I suppose. ;-)

I hope everyone's week is off to a great start! And stay tuned--I have some good news to share with y'all later in the week. =)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Thoughtful About . . . The Time Between

Waiting by Edmund Blair Leighton

My kids are big on holidays (so unusual for a child, I know, LOL). The day after Christmas, they asked, "What holiday's next?" And the same question came on January 2. Several times we've played the Holiday Hop game, naming which comes after which. Sometimes I think that if they could, they'd just skip from one special day to the next. New Year's to Valentine's to St. Patrick's Day to Easter, and so on.

I remember being the same way as a kid--especially a growing kid looking for those days off school. ;-) And you know, there's nothing wrong with that. The Lord instituting Holy Days, after all. As celebration, as remembrances, and a way to look ahead. Just like He made the Sabbath for our rest. He knew we needed those breaks, those things to look forward to.

In a lot of ways, it's like a book's plot. When I'm sitting down to start a new book, I usually try to have the big points figured out--kinda like the holidays. There will be major turns at B, E, and H, say. Minor ones at A, C, and F. But a wise friend of mine once said that the real story was like an Oreo--it happens in the middle.

Life's the same way. Christmas was a lot of fun around here. But you know what was more fun? The day after, when we got an unscheduled 8 inches of snow. When we all went to play in it, to sled ride, to spend time as a family that wasn't pre-planned. My best memories from being a kid aren't just the Big Days--it's the little days. It's following behind my dad while he raked the lawn after mowing, tossing on dandelions and leaves onto his pile and pretending it was a salad for a giant. It's passing the summers in the pool with my mom and sister and neighbor.

So often, we're so busy that it's easy to put off the special things for the special days. To say "Sure we'll do that...on our next break. The next holiday. The next..."

But if you're anything like me, it's the unanticipated fun, the unexpected Big Days that build the best memories, that make for the best laughter, the best stories. As we head into the new year, you can bet I'm going to be looking forward the holidays with my kids, sure--but what I'm really going to be looking forward to, what I'm going to make a big effort to appreciate, are the days in between. The normal days. The days when you're just waiting to get through the school day, to the weekend, to the next event.

Because you know what? Those are when life happens.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Oh! And I just got the first chapter of Ring of Secrets up on my website. So if you want a sneak peek, check it out!

http://www.roseannawhite.com/wordpress/books/ring-of-secrets/ring-of-secrets-chapter-one

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Remember When . . . We Needed Careers?

Baltimore during the Civil War
(Yep, that's right, apparently the whole city had a crease down its middle...LOL)

Last week, I gave y'all a brief introduction to my heroine from my third Culper Ring book. Marietta Gaines (who will be called Mari by her grandfather and Yetta by her childhood friend, just FYI) is going to be a ton and a half of fun.

But now I need to figure out what her late husband and his brother (my villain) do. You wanna help, right? I knew it. ;-)

The time is 1865. The place is Baltimore. War is raging, but neither Gaines brother was directly a part of it. They're wealthy, and I'd like the family to be in a business such that:
  • It's perfectly reasonable that they would stay home from the war to run said business, and no one would question that
  • Said business is of enough importance that both North and South would covet their loyalty
My first thought was that perhaps one of the brothers is a doctor . . . or maybe a judge (might be too young for that) . . .

Then I thought of railroads. Maybe the Gaineses are a railroading family. Could be, could be. All I know about them at the moment is that their mother is from Louisiana, hence the brothers' first names of Lucien and Devereaux . . . and hence their hidden Southern sympathies. Well, okay, so plenty of Marylanders went Southern in the war. But everyone has to assume they didn't, no doubt because their father was vocally Union.

Anyone have any other brilliant suggestions for the family business?

For that matter, I also need to choose a hunky actor to use as my model for Dev, to put on my Pinterest board. He has to be oh-so-handsome, in that strong way that can ooze all charm one minute and then, pow, you realize he's dangerous. Thoughts on that? I was considering Hugh Jackman . . . maybe . . .

Monday, January 7, 2013

Word of the Week - Slosh

A Wet Sunday Morning  by Edmund Blair Leighton, 1896

Wow, it feels like forever since I've done one of these! LOL. Ah, the holidays. =) But the Twelve Days and Epiphany are over, my tree is down, and it's back to the grindstone completely this week.

One of the words I've had to look up in the last couple weeks and surprised me is slosh. I believe I looked it up when someone in a historical referred to someone as sloshed. A few clickety-clacks and I verified that this was a colloquialism for "drunk" by 1900, so was no problem in this particular book. But what surprised me was that slosh as a verb meaning "to splash about" didn't come about until 1844. (I have a feeling I may have misused that in a book somewhere...) And the verb meaning "to pour carelessly" didn't follow until 1875. Who knew they were so new?

So the adjective meaning "drunk" came from the verb, and the verb came from the noun form, which made its appearance in 1814 meaning "slush, sludge." Which is funny, because that's the form least-used now, methinks.

And there was have it. Not until the 1800s did this word come in to play at all, and not until 75 years after the noun did the adjective transform from the verb, so that you can say lovely things like "Only when sloshed would he slosh through the slosh." ;-)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Thoughtful About . . . Needed Prayers

Little Girl in a Blue Armchair by Mary Cassatt, 1878
Though this isn't exactly the insightful post I'd hoped to start the new year with, it's a necessary one.

Yesterday I got a call from one of the ladies in my Bible study group. We have a couples group that meets every Friday--the adults do the study, and our kids play upstairs. For the eight adults, there are approximately, oh, a gazillion kids. ;-) Okay, so 11. Lots of enthusiasm there, and we're all so glad to be building relationships for and with our precious little ones.

One of the kids from this group is 8-year-old Hailey. At our last study before Christmas break, her mom mentioned how Hailey's balance had seemed off, though she'd been trying to hide it. Walking very slowly, and indulging in wobbles and railing-gripping only when she thought no one was looking. Then at our Christmas party, Mom mentioned how her pupils didn't seem to be dilating correctly. No one else noticed this when she called Hailey over and kind of laughed it off.

Apparently Hailey has gone to the doctor a couple times since--the family was expecting this to be some kind of ear infection, to be causing balance issues. But yesterday a scan showed a growth at the base of her brain stem. A growth "four pencil-erasers high." They're not sure yet whether it's a cyst or a tumor, benign or malignant. She goes in today for an MRI and tomorrow will travel to the Baltimore area to see a specialist at Johns Hopkins.

Please join me in praying for Hailey and her family. Her mom was, needless to say, panicked and terrified and far more than just "upset." And as someone who has gotten to know this little girl a bit this fall, I just ache for them. Hailey is a girl with a big, golden heart, one who loves quickly and without restraint. 

Father God, we beseech you now for Hailey and her family. Though we can't always understand Your ways, we know they're there. Though we are baffled and shaken when such illness strikes our little ones, we know that You love them more than we ever could. Father, our healer and provider, please touch Hailey. Strengthen her for the scans and appointments, breathe Your peace into her, and touch Your finger to this growth. Make it shrink, vanish, change in whatever way it must to be nothing. Heal her, Lord our God.

And wrap Your arms around her family, please. I know this is a family that loves You so much, and I know right now they're crying out to You in agony. Soothe them. Embrace them. Help them to feel You in every scary moment throughout this ordeal. Hold them so close that they can't for a moment forget Who is in control.

In the name of Your precious Son we pray. Amen.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Remember When . . . The New Setting Began?

Okay, is it seriously Wednesday? We're having some holiday-induced confusion around here, don't know about you. Totally feels like Monday...

Emma Stone is my pick for
casting Marietta Gaines
But since it's not, it's time to get back to my Remember Whens. =) And since I just turned in Whispers from the Shadows before Christmas break began, that means it's time to start prep for book number 3! (Still unnamed...)

I've only just begun research, so I don't have a ton of fun tidbits to share yet. But I thought I'd give you a sneak peak of what I'll be working with, which will in turn give you a hint of some of the fun to come. =)

The book (whatever she shall be called, LOL) opens with my heroine, Marietta Gaines, transitioning from second-mourning to half-mourning. Now, those of you who aren't up on Victorian mourning traditions (which is probably all of us, LOL), don't know what in the world that means. So a brief (very brief) description.

Full Mourning
First year after death of spouse
Widow must wear unrelieved black and will not participate in social events

Second Mourning
Six months to one year after full mourning ends
Widow will add a white lace collar to her black mourning gowns and will begin doing some social activities

Half Mourning
Three to six months after second mourning ends
Widow will transition to gray and lavender, but will not wear any brighter colors, and will resume normal activities.
An evening gown that would be
appropriate for half-mourning

So as you can see, mourning really lasted no less than a year and a half and sometimes as much as two and a half years. We have this idea that it was exactly a year, which is true of full, first mourning. But moderns tend to forget about that second year. 

My book starts with Marietta coming down the stairs in color (lavender) for the first time since her husband's death, and feeling guilty about transitioning after only a year and three months. Not because it's premature, but because she knows her late husband would be none too pleased with the secret courtship his brother has been paying her.

Marietta's going to be a fun heroine to get to know. At the beginning of the book, she's a bad girl (and I haven't written one of those in years!). Perhaps not so much by today's standards, but by Victorian ones for sure. She's got the femme fatale thing going on, has been using her womanly wiles for years to get her way, and feels like the black sheep--worldly and concerned with her social status--in a family that has always been altruistic and not materialistic. She'd rather be exchanging repartee with actors and poets than worrying with politics or the war. And she's eager for her mourning to end so she can get on with life--with Devereaux Gaines, her brother-in-law.

At least until her grandfather informs her in the first chapter that Dev is in fact the villain of our story. ;-) And calls her to account for squandering her gift--perfect memory. She's been using it all these years as nothing but a parlor trick, but now he needs her to utilize it for the greater good of their country. A task which will require her, for the first time, putting something else above her own needs.

Yep, me and Marietta (and Dev and hero Slade) are going to be having some good times around here over the next few months. =)

Happy 2013!