Thursday, May 30, 2013

Thoughtful About . . . Being Still

The Dance Class by Edgar Degas

It's a crazy-busy week around here right now, with everything from kids' checkups to Xoe's follow-up at Johns Hopkins on Monday. We have ballet rehearsal, ballet recital, I have a book talk on the free night between those...I've got book club and my checkup, dentist appointments and normal stuff for church. Oh, and in the midst of all that, I've got to get one title for WhiteFire edited, another laid out for press, final edits prepared on a third, and proof approval on a fourth.

Let's not even look ahead to next week, when I have to start cutting my behemoth of a manuscript by 35K words. (Insert weeping and gnashing of teeth here.)

I'm a little busy. A little overwhelmed. And I don't know about you, but when I get busy and overwhelmed, I get this strange sensation...I start to feel alone. Like the world is a sea tossing around me, and I'm all by myself on this little boat, just trying to stay afloat. The more emails I answer, the more I wonder why no one is really writing me...the more alerts I get on Facebook, the more it seems no one is paying attention. The more guest-posts I write for blogs, the more I feel like I'm talking into a vacuum. The more appointments I have, the fewer people I seem to see.

This is nothing but illusion in a lot of ways, a trick of my overwhelmed mind, and I know exactly where it comes from. Because in these times of super-busyness, of overwhelm, everything I usually love just feels like One Thing More. One thing more to do that isn't helping me do what already needs done. One more decision. One more task. One more tap of the fingers on the keyboard.

As I got up this morning with that cloud of To Dos hanging over me, I said a little prayer for some help through it. And I heard a little reminder in the recesses of my mind. Be still.

I've always loved that verse--Be still, and know that I am God. It speaks to so much, doesn't it? And in context it's even better.

Come, behold the works of the Lord,
Who has made desolations in the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariot in the fire.
10 Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth! 

~Psalm 46:8-10

Today, you know what that means to me? That all our strife, all our work, all our mighty deeds are nothing. He makes it nothing. He brings peace where there is none. He wipes out where we build up. But he builds up where we would wipe out. And sometimes, He just wants us to stop so that he can work.

It's a busy time of year for most of us. So much to do, and not doing it isn't much of an option. But in this crazy weekend, I'm pausing. For just a breath, just a prayer, just a moment. I'm going to be still and give my heart and all its overwhelm to him. Knowing, trusting that whether I succeed or fail, whether I go or stop, whether I cry or laugh, He is God. He will be exalted among the nations. He will be exalted in the earth.

That means in me, too. I exalt you, Lord. May that remain always the task on the top of my list. My top priority. My anchor on those raging seas. I exalt You.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Remember When . . . A War Was Forgotten?

Have I mentioned yet that I metaphorically typed The End last week? =) I did! Finished up Circle of Spies on Friday, so join me in a victorious "Woot!" LOL

I'm sure I have something fun I learned in the final research for that, but yesterday I hurriedly prepared a post I'd forgotten to do beforehand in the rush of that final stretch of CoS, so I thought I'd share that instead. ;-)

Did you realize that we're currently in the 200th Anniversary of the War of 1812? Yep! It will stretch into the beginning of 2015, though I'm especially glad to celebrate the events of late 1814, including the Battle of Fort McHenry--the event that serves as the backdrop for the climax of Whispers from the Shadows. This is a war that's been largely forgotten, which is kinda sad. Today I'm talking a bit about it on Regency Reflections--please stop over and say hello!

A privateer boat in War of 1812
The Chasseur, one of the most famous privateers of the War of 1812. This Baltimore
captain harassed the British merchant fleet in their own waters.

The War of 1812 ~ Guest Post by Roseanna M. White

You know, it’s really kind of funny. When reading the Regency-set novels I so love, I often find references to the on-going war with France and the audacity of Napoleon. Only rarely, however, do we see the British perspective of another war going on at the same time, one with the upstart Colonists that had declared their independence a generation before. Even America often forgets their War of 1812, and in Europe…well, it tends to dim in comparison to the Napoleonic Wars. It’s become overlooked by both sides. But oh, how interesting it is! Read the Full Article

Monday, May 27, 2013

Word of the Week - Nose

I love these words with a long history. =) To mix things up today, I'm going to present this one as a
list. Wanna take a guess as to which one I was looking up for the end of my spy story? LOL

Primary use (you know, the part of your face) - Old English
Used of any prominent or projecting part - 1530s.
To say something is under (one's) nose "in plain view" - 1540s
(verb) to perceive the smell of - 1570s
something obvious - 1590s.
Pay through the nose (bleed) - 1670s
(verb) to pry, search - 1640s
To turn up one's nose, "show disdain"  - 1818 (earlier hold up one's nose, 1570s)
Odor, scent (the nose of a perfume) - 1894
Many extended meanings are from the horse-racing sense of length of a horse's nose, as a measure of distance between two finishers - 1908
(verb) to look down one's nose - 1921

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Thoughtful About . . . Ta-Da, Mommy!

Baby at Play by Thomas Eakins, 1876

As a mama working from home with two home schooled kids, one of whom is only kindergarten aged, I know a lot about interruptions. People frequently ask me, "How do you get anything done?" And in answer, I usually have to shrug. Sometimes I don't. Sometimes I only do by popping earbuds in and turning on some instrumental music to drown out Max & Ruby or Octonauts. Sometimes I do a lot of growling about, "Please, just five minutes without squabbling. Please."

For the most part, my kids are good at entertaining themselves. But as I was trying to hammer through the last few chapters of my manuscript the other day, I found that the interruptions were of a certain type. Rowyn was building. And when Rowyn in building, I hear a lot of this:

"Look, Mommy!"
"Mommy, see what I did here?"
"Hey, Mama, do you know where the other piece like this is?"
"Mommy, ta-da!"

Despite being pulled yet again from my story, I had to smile. It's such a cute and intrinsic part of childhood, isn't it? That need to be not just noticed but acknowledged. To have one's actions and accomplishments cheered and encouraged.

I remember those days. I remember standing at the edge of the pool and saying, "Watch, Mommy. Mommy? Hey, Mommy, watch me! Look what I can do!" before jumping in. I remember rushing in from a day of school, waving the picture I'd colored or the fat red A on the top of a test. I remember my mom smiling and laughing, giving me a kiss. Even though sometimes she was probably thinking, "Yeah, look at you, jumping into the pool exactly like you did twenty seconds ago." ;-)

An adorable part of childhood, to be sure. And yet...not peculiar to our early days, is it? Maybe I don't have to show my mother every paragraph I write anymore (I mean, as I write it--she still reads most of what I put to paper, LOL). Maybe my every move isn't a cry of "Look! Notice me! Approve of what I'm doing! Be proud!" Not aloud--but we never really outgrow the instinct, do we?

I can't design a book cover without showing my husband or best friend. I can't finish a hard day without inviting someone to note all I accomplished. I can't scrub a floor without surveying it at the end and saying to my kids, "Just look at that! Doesn't that look nice?"

People crave approval like we crave air--it's a necessary part of who we are. We need those pats on the head. We need the smiles. We don't necessarily need someone to say, "Wow, that's the best thing ever!" We just need to know they see. That they notice. That they care.

It can be tiring to be the one always having to notice, without often being noticed (says the mom with young kids who really don't care about a clean floor, LOL). But you know, people pay attention to that too--and more, God does. I think he must smile over our every indulgent smile. I think He must pat our backs when we pat the back of another. I think He loves little more than watching His children love one another.

Sometimes I need the reminder to slow down and notice. To spare those few seconds that make another's day. So this is me reminding myself. And it's me reminding you. Pay attention today. Take a few seconds to let those in your life know you're watching, you're really seeing them, that their ever little action is a precious part of your day, of your life.

Cherish those ta-das. There's nothing else in the world like them.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Remember When . . . Discovery Was Made?

I'm on Colonial Quills today, with a post about my recent trip to Carlisle, Pennsylvania to the Army Heritage Museum. I'm also in the home stretch of Circle of Spies, so forgive my laziness...I'm going to direct you there for your snippet of history today. ;-)

~*~

The Army Heritage Center

Last week I had the opportunity to take my kids with our home school group to Carlisle, Pennsylvania for a day's tour of the Army Heritage Center. With displays on everything military from the French and Indian Wars through the War on Terror, I knew they would have fun--and I was hoping to come away with some nice pictures and research on that early stuff, since I seem to have fallen into writing books about wars. ;-)
 
The blacksmith hard at work in the Carlisle Forge
Our tour began in the Colonial section of the center, where we got to watch a blacksmith at work in the Carlisle Forge. I've had this pleasure before, but it never really gets old to see how they take hunks of formless steel and turn them into works of art or function. What especially amazes me is how these dedicated reenactors can explain so much about the early days of our country and the craft they obviously love while performing it before our very eyes...
 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Word of the Week - Snap



I'm in a sprint toward the end of Circle of Spies (woo hoo!), and in my marathon writing these last few days have been looking up a lot of words' etymology. This is the first time in a good while I've had a historical character prone to slang, and slang is so tricky! Good thing I enjoy learning this stuff. ;-)

So from my bushel of new-found knowledge I have chosen snap for today. =) Because Slade really, really wanted to tell Marietta to "snap out of it" during the scene I was writing last night. I mean, really wanted to. But I knew that wouldn't work, so I had to prove it to myself.

Snap became a verb in the 1520s, meaning "to take a quick bite" and taken directly from the noun of the similar meaning, which dates from the 15th century. These two meanings were related to animals--a critter snapping its jaws around prey. The meaning of "to break suddenly" came along in the early 1600s (and I had no idea it was nearly a century after "bite"!) "To snap" mentally might be literally from that "break" meaning, but it came way late to the game--as in, 1970s.

Football move? 1887. Sound fingers make? 1670s. (See, I probably would have guessed that one came first. Shows what I know, LOL.) The turtle? 1740s. And then, aha! Snap out of it. My target phrase was a bit older than I thought but still of no help to my 1865 story, joining the party in 1907.

On an unrelated note, I discovered this weekend that Fairchild's Lady, the FREE novella sequel to Ring of Secrets, is available for pre-order on Amazon! I have a post set up dedicated to it on its release day, June 1, but thought I'd mention it today too. ;-)

And just for the fun of sharing, today begins our last week of our school year! Woot!!! =)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Remember When . . . Slugs Were New and a Storm Rolled Through?

You know to watch out when my blog titles rhyme... ;-) It's time for a day in the life of a historical novelist.

Marietta. She could totally
have slugged him.
I started my Tuesday morning at 5 a.m. in the middle of a conversation between my hero and heroine. Marietta, heroine, had just been in an argument with the baddy, Dev. Slade, hero, says, "You should have slugged him. I'd have paid good money to see that."

Insert Roseanna pausing. Was slug a word in 1865? Hmm... yep! But barely. First documented use is 1862. So while Slade, the rough-and-tumble former gambler, would definitely know it, I had my doubts that society belle Marietta would.

So Marietta gets to blink and ask, "Slug?"

"Yeah, you know." Slade is now miming socking-it to Dev in the jaw. Says blogging-Roseanna. Novelist-Roseanna didn't use those exact words. Novelist-Roseanna used "uppercut." And then had to look up "uppercut." (You see why some days I can't get those words on the page? LOL)

By Jem Ward, 1860
Well, phew. "Uppercut" was a word. Very specific to boxing. Boxing...hmm...was boxing popular in the U.S. at the time? Hello, Google!

I ended up at www.ArtofManliness.com. I've been there before. I love that site, LOL. The post on boxing was witty and informative, and I came away with exactly what I needed to know. Yes, boxing had migrated from Britain to the Americas in the 1830s. Yes, it was quite popular in the states at the time, in certain circles. And in fact, they had just developed the first boxing gloves a year or two before...

Sweet. So, uppercut. But not in the miming line. I move it down. Marietta asks, "So a slug is an uppercut?"

Detective Slade is taken aback. Gasp! "You know what an uppercut is?"

Oh...right. How would she? Aha! She has brothers! "Isaac boxes."

Colin, you make a darn good Slade. Just sayin'.
Isaac doesn't much like Slade. So Slade is happy for the warning. ;-) And now (remember those gloves?) Slade is looking Marietta up and down. Wink, wink. "Did he teach you? Because I can totally see you in a pair of those newfangled boxing gloves, some trousers..."

Let it be noted that men then, as men now, wore no shirts when boxing. Ahem. Marietta tells him he had better stop his imagination there. ;-)

So my characters are happy for a laugh before they head outside, into the next intense conversation of "Please, please don't put yourself in danger! I beg it of you! P-p-p-leeeeeeeeeeaaaaase. Boo hoo hoo." (No exaggeration. Okay, slight exaggeration. Okay, total exaggeration.)

I managed to finish that scene in the course of the home school day, and was starting a new chapter when 1:00 rolled around--when my daughter had a much-anticipated play date. After dropping her off, I headed to a nearby restaurant for some lunch and laptop time, and, having no wi-fi, opened up one of my research books too.

Now, I've been reading through this book but hadn't quite made it to the time period I need, so I jumped ahead to the 1865 heading. War...yep. Lee's forces with their backs against the proverbial wall...yep, knew that. A Confederate released on parole and told to stay north of Philadelphia...who is a month later arrested in D.C. in connection with the Lincoln Assassination. Interesting. Do I know the name? Yep. He's in my notes, but I hadn't realized he had JUST arrived in the city on parole. Very interesting. Noted.

Then I got to a rather random paragraph. See, the rest of the book is all directly related to the war. Every mention of a nice historical tidbit is tied in--explanation of train station, tied in to arrival of troops. That sort of thing. But there, gleaming and beautiful (okay, maybe Roseanna shouldn't have a third...and fourth cup of coffee at 2 in the afternoon...) is a random paragraph about a storm. No effect on the war. No effect mentioned on any of the key players in Baltimore. Just there. Which I get. Because I'm a writer, and it's oh-so-awesome to include this stuff.

A storm. Of "biblical proportions." It took off roofs. It uprooted fences. It did tons and tons of damage and killed several Baltimore citizens. Yikes. Tornado? It doesn't say, but it's quite likely for that time of year. And it's...ah, March 23. And I'm on...yes! March 21! I can totally work my next scene around that (mwa ha ha ha). Moreover, that gives me a clue about the weather. See, this is my area. I know how these storms work. If you get a doozy of one on the 23rd, it's going to be getting warm on the 21st. Darn warm. The 23rd would be hot. Unseasonably, stiflingly hot.

Just a tidbit. Nothing anyone would likely notice if I left out. But oh! How fun to know it and include it!! (And I'll totally tie it in...and am so grateful the non-fic authors included even without tying it in.)

I left the restaurant with only 2K words written for the day, but with a smile on my face. It was a good day. I learned about boxing. I found a storm. And I'd worked out my next few scenes, which will lead me straight to the climax.

Yep. It's pretty fun to be a writer. Though I think four cups of coffee--and a large soda, did I mention that?--*might* be too many...

Monday, May 13, 2013

Word of the Week - Gander

Gänsefütterung by Alexander Koester, 1890

On the road last week, silly conversation led us to the word gander. And I started to wonder whether the two meanings I knew of--a male goose and to look around--were from the same root, or if it were one of those cases where they had nothing to do with one another.

So off I went to etymonline.com the next day to find the answer. =)

Gander has meant "male goose" since the days of Old English. Apparently for a while in the 19th century it was used to mean single men (like "stag") too--which I didn't realize! Fun!

In 1680 gander became a verb meaning "to walk aimlessly." Kinda akin to a wild goose chase in that. Then in 1886, the verb arose that we're more familiar with, "to take a long look," from how a goose cranes its head around. So yep, definitely connected! In 1912, that verb became a noun--the look itself.

Always love discovering these things. =)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Thoughtful About . . . What a Week



Phew. It's been a week, that's for sure. A rather long one, with trips to and from Baltimore, worry over my brave little princess, and nothing remotely resembling routine.

Praise be to the Lord, elbows heal fast, so Xoe's not in pain except for when she bumps it. But there are some obvious adjustments that come when one can't use one's dominant hand, and as a homeschool family, we get to make all those ourselves. A few lessons have just been suspended--like handwriting. Spelling is now out loud or on the chalk board rather than in a notebook. But others involve a scribe. Which would be me, LOL. It can be fun to find alternative ways of doing familiar lessons, but it takes a wee bit more time.

We "collected" a lot of prayers last week, and I'm just in awe of the amazing group of prayer warriors who surrounded my little girl with their petitions. I can't thank everyone enough for that, or for the continued prayers for correct healing. We've been showered with cute little gifts and cards for the Xo-girl.

Tomorrow is an all-day field trip to an Army Heritage museum, so my still-reeling self will be trying to play catch-up-and-get-ahead today. I can't quite believe it's Thursday already! So please forgive me for cutting this short this morning. And thank you, again and again, for all the prayers for my family this past week!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Remember When . . . Song of Solace

Back in the fall, I shared a bit about a biblical idea I had and asked for some help with titles. Well, I'm happy to say that I've settled on a title, and the book is slated for publication in fall of 2014!

Song of Solace will be my third biblical fiction with WhiteFire. I'm only two chapters in, and will be writing it between my Harvest House books, so I need a nice cushion of time there. =) But I'm excited!

In a nutshell, Song of Solace takes the parable Jesus tells of the wedding feast and sets it in the time of Abraham. The righteous king who cannot get anyone to attend his son's wedding is Mechizedek. The guest who refuses the wedding garments is the antagonist, someone from my heroine's past. And my heroine is Aziza, of the house of the Pharaoh. I have nothing even remotely resembling a blurb or synopsis at this point, but let's see what I can toss together here real quick. =)


Daughter of Egypt...Son of Melchizedek

Aziza, sister of Pharaoh, has brought a curse onto her brother's house. The vizier is the only one who denies it, and he dares to only because of an echo of childhood love. She knows that if she hopes to avoid the underworld much longer, she must escape Egypt. Must follow the path of the song always whispering through her spirit, calling her across the inhospitable deserts of the Red Lands.

When Zedek, son of Melchizedek, agreed to search for a wife, he never expected the journey to take him all the way to Egypt. He and his father, who once rode the waves of the Great Flood, agree that his bride must serve the Most High. And what maiden in Egypt possibly could? But when he sees the Pharaoh's hated sister, he cannot deny the voice of wind within him that says she is the one with whom he is to build his nation. He will not wed her until she loves El Elyon with all her heart, as he does...but he will take her back to Salem with him to learn the ways of the Lord, despite the warning Pharaoh gives of the curse she will bring with her.

And it seems a curse--or a battle beyond their vision--does indeed follow. All the world seems set against their match...and as Aziza and Zedek pursue the soaring song of love and praise, it seems all the world will tremble in protest.

Combining Jesus's parable of the wedding feast with the mysterious Old Testament world of Abraham and Melchizedek, Song of Solace will sweep you into a past lost to the sands of time and make you strain to hear the melody of the Spirit.

So. I have about a year to write this baby, and then a few months for editing. Doable, I hope, though this one's going to require lots of original research. But I'm excited! Here is my opening paragraph (as it stands right now. Who knows if it'll make it intact to the final version, LOL.)

Aziza held her breath and hugged the shadows when a guard strode by, his spear at the ready. And prayed to Amun-Ra, the hidden one, to hide her as well. To Thoth, that he might turn the face of his luminous moon for just a moment. She would have sent up a petition to Isis too, for good measure, but the guard turned the next corner, and her breath eased out in relief.

Monday, May 6, 2013

To Johns Hopkins We Go



We're currently in the Baltimore area, getting ready for our appointment at Johns Hopkins for Xoe's broken elbow. It's at 10:15.

So I would appreciate prayers for this appointment, and then it will be resolved as easily on my princess as possible.

There's the possibility they'll be able to set it and send us home...and the possibility it will require surgery. Having no idea yet what it will be, I'm making no plans. So while I may try to post updates as time, energy, and internet connection allows, normal blogging won't resume until we're home again.

I hope everyone has a lovely spring week!

~*~

UPDATE!

As it turns out, that was the easiest appointment ever. =) Not only does Xoe not require surgery, she doesn't even need a cast! Elbows have an enormous blood supply apparently, and heal twice as fast as other injuries. Her arm has already knit enough that surgery would just make it worse, and the doctor said that in kids' cases like this, he's just a proponent of letting the body heal and then fixing anything that needs fixing afterwards.

So we get to keep the splint on for another week, and then we can start taking it off and letting her move her arm around. In three weeks, she ought to have full motion back. How amazing is that? Thank you SO MUCH, everyone, for your abundant prayers!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Prayers for my Xoë

Xoë, Duchess the cat (Rowyn brought it to the hospital for her),
popcorn, and a Fancy Nancy pedicure.
We believe in making the most of a bad situation!

Well, yesterday was quite a day, and not in the sunshine-and-rainbows way. At about 12:30, my daughter Xoë was running through the yard, and her shoe came off. She tripped, fell, and broke her arm. We took her first to her primary care doctor, who sent us for x-rays. The x-rays showed fractures, so we ended up in the ED for treatment.

Only they couldn't really treat her. The fracture is a Milch fracture, which looks like a piece of bone twisted away and up. It's right at her elbow, and there's another crack around the ball of the elbow too. After the awesome PA we saw in the ED made phone call after phone call for us, the new orthopedist in town verified that he wouldn't touch it and we'd have to go out of town. So after six hours and three different medical sites, we ended up with a splint, a sling, and an appointment at Johns Hopkins for Monday.

Xoë was amazing through it all. This was the first time in her 7.5 years we've ever had to take her to the doctor for anything but a checkup--but boy, when she needs to go, she needs to GO. Surgery is the most likely recourse, though we won't know anything for sure until they see her at Hopkins.

I'd so appreciate prayers for my brave little princess. Not only does she hurt, not only do we have a long way to go yet before this is stable, but it's a complicated, high-risk-in-children fracture, and I don't even want to think about all the issues it could cause. So please pray. Pray for the short-term pain and the long-term healing, pray for the doctors, for the travel, for everything.

Thanks, everyone.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Three Cheers for Ellie!

Today's a very important day, y'all. Today, my best friend's fourth book releases in all digital formats. And this is really, really special, because of all the many books of hers I've read and critiqued, this one is my favorite. (That's saying something. Seriously.) I've read three or four different versions of it at this point, over three or four years, LOL, and each time I thought, "Wow, this is the best young adult novel I've ever read!" Then she somehow made it better and better.


Here's the blurb, which has one of the best hook sentences ever, doesn't it? And I got to help write the back cover copy, so obviously I adore it. =)

Don’t just get even—write a novel.

Ellie Sweet is a lot of things—good girl, novelist, silent adorer of the new boy at school, Palmer. But when “outcast” gets added to the list, she decides it’s time to take reality into her own hands … and tweak it as needed.

In the pages of her book, she’s Lady Gabrielle, favorite of the medieval Italian court. Her once-friends are reduced to catty ladies-in-waiting, and the too-charming Palmer—who in real life never spares her a second word—gets to be nothing more than a rake wracked by unrequited love for her. She even has a perfect real-life villain in the brooding Chase, who hails from the wrong side of town.

But just when she’s getting along great in her fictional world, the real one throws her a few curves. With Chase pursuing her, Palmer wanting to date her—but in secret—and the details of her manuscript going public, Ellie suddenly receives more attention than she ever really wanted. And when her former-friends discover what she’s been writing, they’re determined to teach Ellie a lesson about the severe consequences of using her pen as her sword.

I cannot possibly recommend this book enough. Buy it for the teens in your life. Buy it for yourself. Recommend it to everyone you know. Why? Because Stephanie does what so few writers can:


I kept saying my endorsement was going to be "Best. Book. Ever." but I decided to get a little more creative. ;-)

I love this book. I love Ellie. I love Palmer and Chase and the cast of snippy friends, I love the family that stood behind her when it mattered, I love the dreams and crushed hopes and sometimes-cruel reality that made her grow into a person I could love even more.

Though I've read it countless times, you can bet I'm buying it today and will read it again! (Again, that's saying something. Seriously.) 

Find it on Amazon!
Find it on Smashwords for other devices!