Friday, December 19, 2014

On Christmas!


Merry, merry Christmas, everyone!

I hope everyone has a wonderful week. I intend to spend mine having fun with the kiddos and finalizing our plans for making Christmas Day a day of remembrance for Jesus.

With this on my mind this year, I've been quite struck by a few things I've come across. A week or so ago we went on a field trip to a local historical house, which had a World War 1 display up for the holiday. The children got to hear the story of the Christmas Truce, when the British and German troops declared a cease-fire for Christmas and ventured into No Man's Land, exchanging rations and playing soccer and remembering what peace on earth is really about. The fighting began again the next day--and the command was none too pleased when they learned that the soldiers in the foxholes took it upon themselves to do this--but looking back, it's an inspiring story.

And oh, how I love touring this historic house. When you step into the ballroom, you see the grand, 16-foot-high Christmas tree. And learn that in 1914, the tree wouldn't have been decorated until Christmas Eve, and would be closed off so the kids couldn't see it until Christmas Day. But not first thing--oh no! First came church. Then a family brunch. And only then did the family open those doors to the ballroom and reveal the tree and the presents.

I'm really coming to love the simplicity of these sorts of celebrations. The fact that the gifts were few but meaningful, the emphasis of the day on Jesus first, family second, and only afterward the things. I find myself longing to recapture some of that. And wondering at the roots of our traditions.

So being me, I do a little research. ;-) I started in Ancient Rome, where they celebrated a winter holiday called Saturnalia. They would give gifts, light candles, and celebrate for a week...but while this celebration led up to the winter solstice, it's not, as some would suggest, the roots of our Christmas. Nor, as other have suggested, is the Roman festival to the sun god, also celebrated on December 25. For centuries people have suggested this--with outrage--but in fact, the date of Christmas pre-dates the holiday of Sol Invictus. So if anyone was stealing, it was the Roman emperor. ;-)

Why December 25th then? Well. *Grins* As it turns out, it all goes back to March 25. At the time, that was the date of the spring equinox. In Jewish tradition, it was believed to be the date that God created the earth, the date of the Passover, and so the date that Jesus was crucified. According to another Jewish tradition, important men were believed to live in whole years--which is to say, their life began and ended on the same date.

So how did the early church ascertain the date of Jesus's birthday? They assumed that conception took place on March 25--that Jesus's life as a human being began that day--and then counted exactly nine months forward. Hence, December 25.

Let's not argue whether the math is exactly right or the validity of the whole-year supposition. Let's just accept that it's what people round about 300 A.D. believed. That is where the date of Christmas comes from, and the fathers of the early church were fully convinced by this. Me? I don't know, and frankly, I don't think it matters. But I accept the beauty of their reasoning, the simplicity of it, and I embrace their desire to celebrate the birth of our Christ.

In our house, we're determined to keep only the traditions that bring us joy and keep our eyes on the Lord, not the ones that bring stress. Presents will be simple. Baking will be fun. Honestly, if I'm stressing about something--be it gifts or decorating or cookies--then that's my cue to examine it and wonder if it's pulling my eyes off Jesus. And you know what? It usually is. So those will be the first things I let go of.

I pray your celebration this year is filled with the Light of the World. That each candle you light is a testimony to Him. That each gift you give is out of love--the same love you received from the Father when He gave His Son. The same love St. Nicholas embraced when he dropped gold down a chimney to save a family from the streets. The same love that raises man out of the mire and stretches him toward the Holy.

I pray that this Christmas is about the gift of Jesus to the world, and that new understanding of that amazing Gift falls on your heart and keeps you warm through the holidays.

God bless and Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Remember When . . . The New Series Shaped Up?

It's been a pretty cool week in terms of writing progress.

First of all, on Friday I finished The Outcast Duchess, book 2 in my Ladies of the Manor Series. Yay!! I'd been so close for weeks, and had it been a time of year that allowed for ignoring the outside world and writing...

But alas. It wasn't. So amidst field trips and The Nutcracker rehearsals, I found what time I could and ended up writing 9,600 words on Friday to get me to The End. (No, I don't actually type The End, LOL. I just sit back and breathe a sigh of relief and then shout out a loud "DONE!" for anyone within earshot.) For reference, that's writing-retreat sort of numbers for me. The realm that I can usually only accomplish when all outside distractions are removed. But I managed it on Friday with a half day of school and then a couple blessed hours of solitude while my mother-in-law took the kids Christmas tree shopping. Well, and then my awesome hubby picking up pizza for dinner. And me ignoring that the kids ought to have been getting ready for bed while I finished the epilogue, LOL.

So now I'm reading through it before sending it to my critique partners. And on Monday I got the word that my editor at Bethany House had just finished her pass of book 1 in the series, The Lost Heiress. Always a relief to get the nod on the revisions I'd turned in and be assured that she loves it. =)

My thoughts then naturally turn to the third book in the series. I've written this whole series before in a different time period, so I already have a decent idea what will happen to my lovely Ella. And I gotta say, I'm pretty excited to focus on her. Why? Because she's hilariously bubbly and optimistic. In this version of The Outcast Duchess, she has a note of whimsy she hadn't had in my original version one I love. It's going to be fun to see how she carries through on that when tossed headfirst into the action of book 3.

But it also makes me wonder what people really love to see in a heroine. Oh, I know we don't ever just read one type, and we love many of them. But what's your favorite type? My series, at the moment looks like this:
A young Diane Kruger is how I picture Brook, though with curly hair

1. Brook - the trend-setter. Bold, daring, given to mischief, quite likely to fly off the handle and do something impulsive that could get her into serious trouble...but wary about romance after seeing disastrous results in her family.
Emma Watson (styled sweetly, not for sexy) is how I imagine Rowena

2. Rowena - the outcast. Quiet, reserved, and seriously injured by relationships in her past. Rowena expects the worst from people and can't quite believe herself worthy of love...until God and Brice prove to her otherwise.
Amy Adams in her role in Enchanted is pretty much a perfect Ella

3. Ella - the optimist. Always on the lookout for romance, Ella expects a fairy tale out of life...and won't believe in anything less, even when reality insists otherwise. Ella is traditional, feminine, confident...and prepared to wait a lifetime to find true love, if that's what it takes.

Which character type (or personality type, in reality) are you most drawn to? Which one (or a different one) are you?

Me, I'm an optimist. Guess that's why I'm looking forward to Ella. ;-)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Word of the Week - Limelight - and The Winner!

First of all, the winner of my giveaway is

Susan Poll!

Congrats! Now on with the word of the week. =)

This weekend past was the annual performance of The Nutcracker by the ballet studio my daughter attends, so we were occupied with all things stage and dancing. I thought it would be fun to take a look at the word limelight. =)

I'd never paused to wonder where in the world that word came from, but it's pretty simple. The popular name for the Drummond Light, this type used an incandecent of lime to create a brilliant light first put to use in lighthouses. It was then adopted for the stage in Victorian days, used to spotlight a principle actor.

Created in 1825 (for the lighthouse light), by 1877 it had adopted the slightly metaphorical sense of being the center of attention from its theatrical uses.

Do you like to be in the limelight? My daughter loves it...my son hates it...not so different from their parents, LOL. I always loved being the center of attention (odd for someone who considers herself otherwise an introvert), but my hubby will find some amazingly creative ways to avoid it. ;-)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Remember When . . . A Christmas Story & Gift!


So I have a story idea. Shocking, right? ;-) I need to finish The Outcast Duchess before I really dig into it, but my goal is to make that transition in the next week.

Why? Because I'd like to write a Christmas story, and I figured it would be fun to do, you know...over Christmas.

It's been a while since I've read a Christmas-themed book, though. I used to read several every year, but, well...then I had kids and started homeschooling, and I'm lucky to read one book a month for pleasure.

If you have read any Christmas books in recent years, would you mind sharing your quick "must" and "must not" list? The parameters of my story will make it by nature very different from most that are out there, but I still want it to capture that feeling...

So I figured I'd offer a hand-dandy giveaway of my latest, and all you have to do to enter is answer some/all of my questions. =)

Here they are:

  • What on a cover draws your eye and screams "Christmas!" in a positive way? Color? Certain items? People or no people?
  • Are there specific words in the title that attract/repulse you?
  • What themes most attract you? Just the seasonal setting? Christmas miracle stories? "Finding the true meaning" stories?
  • Is there a particular "feel" you associate with Christmas stories?
  • Traditionally, these books are shorter than a standard novel (perhaps because of seasonal busyness?)--do you like that or not?

And now more specifically...

  • What would you expect/want from me if I were to write a Christmas story?


Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. =) Now, to enter to win a copy of A Soft Breath of Wind (hello, Christmas gift! To you or someone else, LOL) just fill out the form here.

(The giveaway will only run through the end of the weekend, so I have time to get the book to the lucky winner before Christmas!)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, December 8, 2014

Word of the Week - Jolly


Well here's one that made me smile. I have to say that most times when I hear the word jolly, I think of Christmas. Jolly old St. Nick, jolly elves, etc.

And apparently, that's a good thing to think of! Though the word comes most immediately from Old French jolif, meaning "festive, amorous, pretty," there are also suggestions that it's a loan-word from Germanic tongues, akin to Old Norse jol...which is the word for their winter feast, i.e. Yule...which is Christmas! How fun is that? So it's totally appropriate to think of Christmas when you hear the word jolly, because it's related!

I hope December is indeed jolly for you, and that you're not too stressed out over gifts and wrapping and shopping and budgets. I'm enjoying the music and decorations and doing my darndest to keep that focus on the Lord this year with my kiddos. =)

Have a holly, jolly Christmas!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Thoughtful About . . . Santa Claus and Giving


I admit it. Readily. I have occasionally had issue with the Santa question. I have friends who never introduced the concept, and part of me always wished I had put my foot down on it too. Because I never really introduced it. I just let it creep in. Whenever my kids would ask, I would say, "Well, what do you think?"

And I was about to pull the plug. Then . . . then I looked it up. I looked up the true history of St. Nicholas, and how he became Santa Claus. And you know what I discovered? That of all the many Christmas gift-giving traditions, this is actually the only one I feel has its roots in the right place.

Nicholas was from a city in the Byzantine empire, born in the late 200s and living through the mid 300s. From his youth, he was always given to matters of God. His parents died when he was young, leaving him a very wealthy boy. But rather than live in style, he was raised by his uncle, a priest, and soon followed in his footsteps. (Sorry--no Mrs. Claus.)

Even as a boy, he was known as the wonder-worker. He healed people of things like withered hands and illnesses with simple prayers. He calmed storms. He worked miracles. And he's still hugely remembered for those things in Europe, where you'll be hard pressed to find a town without a church dedicated to St. Nicholas. But do you know what else he's remembered for?

His anonymous generosity. 

See, he had all this money . . . but a heart for the Lord. So what did he do? Well, whenever he saw the needs of someone in his community, he quietly met them. He threw gold through windows. Down chimneys . . . and on occasion, it's reported that some of this gold landed in a stocking left to dry over the banked fire.

Sound familiar? For hundreds of years, Christmas stockings always had gold--or a golden fruit, like an orange--in the bottom, to recall this story.

But the beauty of the thing is that Nicholas never claimed to be the gift-giver. More, when someone caught him at it, he would beg them not to disclose the secret, not so long as he lived. Because Christ charged us to give in secret.

After his death on December 6th, however, the stories came out. Story upon story about the generosity and gift-giving of Nicholas, who was soon named a saint and whose feast day was established as December 6th. So a new tradition was born. Whenever an anonymous gift was given, and especially on his feast day, it was said to be given in the name of St. Nick. 

Anonymously--because that's what Christ charged us to do.

Isn't that actually what gift-giving should be about?? Not the glory of saying, "Look, I bought you something you'll love!" but the knowledge that we're bringing joy to someone--better still, meeting the need of someone--without expecting anything in return. Even the joy of seeing their faces when they open it.

That is true giving. And that's what St. Nicholas represents.

So how did St. Nicholas become Santa Claus? Well, because of the proximity of St. Nicholas's feast day to Christmas, the two holidays eventually merged. But not right away. For hundreds of years, the gifts were given on December 6, and December 25 was reserved as a day of worshiping the Christ Child.

Then Martin Luther revolutionized the church and tried to do away with the saints' days altogether. He was the one who said we oughtn't to expect gifts from St. Nicholas. Instead, we ought to be grateful for the gift of the Christ Child. But in rather typical fashion, people weren't willing to give up all their old traditions...so they just changed the name and began saying the gifts were from the Christ-kindl (German/Dutch for Christ Child). Which Americans later heard and thought was Kris Kringle. Which is how it became, ironically, another name for Santa. (Also note that Santa Claus is directly from the Dutch words for saint and Nicholas, Claus being a nickname for the latter and "sinta" the word for the former.)

So you see what happened? In effort to change a tradition, all we succeeded in doing was losing its meaning. Santa became a symbol of greed to many, when that's the last thing he ever was in reality. He became a symbol of Christmas-when-you-take-Christ-out-of-it, when his life was dedicated to putting Christ in everything.

When I read all this history, I was inspired (hello, future novel!), and I was also saddened. Because one of the most honorable traditions surrounding gift-giving is the one so often hated by the Church. Oh, we're happy to give gifts...but we don't want to lie to our kids. (And let's face it--we don't want to share the glory when we find that perfect something for them.)

Well, I'm not going to lie to my kids. Instead, I'm going to teach them who St. Nicholas was. More, why he did the things he did. And I'm going to hammer home that the beauty of the thing is the anonymity. Who leaves those presents? Well, that's for you and your faith and your logic to decide. But the most important thing as a receiver of said gifts is knowing they're given from love--not just the love of a friend or the love of a parent or the love of any other family.

These gifts represent the love of God. The love of Christ. Embodied by the anonymous generosity of man...a man like St. Nick.

I'm not going to lie to my kids. I'm going to explain that St. Nick is a real person, who did indeed appear miraculously to many people. That's it's not about magic...it's about miracles. That believing God can do the impossible is part of faith. And that another part is being His hands and feet. Being His vehicle.

Being St. Nick. Not just on Christmas--in fact, we're going to try to get away from making the day set aside for Christ being Present Day. But we're going to give gifts. We're just going to change up how we do it.

My challenge to you this year is to start taking yourself out of gift-giving. Start signing gifts "Anonymous"--or, as the case may be, "St. Nicholas." Start leaving them for people to find and never know they're from you.

Let's start giving for the right reasons. And let's give some credit to the memory of a man who always, always did. Santa isn't a symptom of the evils of a commercialized nation--we are. Our attitudes are. Santa, if you dig back to the history, is the memory of a man who knew how to do things right. And I bet if Nicholas of Myra could see how his image has been changed over the years, and even hated by some Christians, he would weep. Because all he ever wanted to do was show Christ's love to his flock. He would want us, just like I firmly believe God does, to get back to the roots of that.

Will this be hard? Absolutely. Why? Because of expectation. Because we'll feel cheap if we show up without something in hand and don't reveal we've already given something. But that's a symptom of the problem, isn't it? Giving shouldn't be about our pride.

Let me say that again:



Giving should be about Him.

Not me.

Him.

Not you.

Him.

If we're giving in our own name...well, then who's the gift about? Makes you think, doesn't it? Or at least, it made me think. Because giving gifts has always been, to me, about (a) the recipient and (b) my joy in giving it. Not really about God at all. And you know, maybe that's fine on a birthday.

But on Jesus's? I don't think it is. I really don't. And so I'm going to accept the challenge to myself. I'm going to figure out how to glorify the Lord and honor Christ on His day--on every day. And I'm never going to sell St. Nicholas short again. Because he understood all his life what it's taken me a lot of years to figure out.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Remember When . . . Stay Tuned

Tomorrow, my post combines the history of St. Nicholas/Santa Claus with some rather revolutionary (or perhaps anti-revolutionary, since it's more about getting back to the way things were than making something totally new) thoughts on Christmas.

Today, I'm working hard to get my manuscript to the finish line. I won't get there today, but I only have 10 scenes to go, and I need to dedicate as much time as possible to it.

So...no straight historical post today. ;-) But do drop by tomorrow. If you're anything like me, you have some ideas about Santa Claus that look more at the jolly old elf than who St. Nicholas really was and where our traditions come from. When I studied it out, I was amazed to realize how we've taken one of the most noble traditions and warped it. And I think you will be too.

See you tomorrow!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Word of the Week - Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer


Thought I'd go Christmasy for December. =) So today's Word of the Week is less a word and more the etymology of a story. Because my kids asked me, after I went through the original St. Nicholas story with them, when Rudolph came about, and I had no clue.

As it turns out, our beloved reindeer was an invention of a writer named Robert L. May, who was hired by the Montgomery Ward company to create an original piece of work for their annual children's coloring book. May devised Rudolph in 1939...to some opposition. The publishers didn't like the red nose idea. Red noses were associated with drunkards, which certainly wasn't the image they wanted to portray. But when May had his illustrator friend create a cutesy deer character with a beaming red nose, the powers that be relented--and the story took off to amazing success. The original poem was written in the meter of "The Night Before Christmas."

The song we all know and love was written a decade later, by the author's brother-in-law. It remained the all-time best selling album in the country until the 80s!

The stop-motion animation version that I grew up thinking was the only Rudolph story worth watching, LOL, came about in 1964. Though very popular, this movie apparently doesn't stick very accurately to the original poem. Which now makes me want to look up the original and see what's been changed!

So there we have it. Our history of Rudolph. =)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Our Kernels of Thanksgiving

Today I'd like to share a post I also have up at Colonial Quills. Please hop over there to read the full article...but mostly, please join me in the deepest gratitude this year. Not just for what we have. But for the trials He's brought us through...the promises He keeps. Let's give Him:


We all know the story of the first Thanksgiving, and it's one I've enjoyed reading to my kids again this year. All those old familiar tales of Squanto and the Pilgrims, of neighborliness and sharing.

But even more stirring was when I read about the Second Thanksgiving the Pilgrims celebrated.

Read the Full Article

Monday, November 24, 2014

Word of the Week - Bucket List


Okay, there's a debate about this in my house. I made the observation a few weeks ago, when someone on TV mentioned their "bucket list," that I was amazed at how quickly this term became a part of our daily vocabulary, when it was pretty much created by the movie.

My husband quickly said, "No it wasn't. I've been hearing that term all my life."

Naturally, I had to look it up. And what did I find in etymonline.com? Nothing. What did I find in the dictionary? Nothing. So I started doing basic Google searches for the origins of the phrase.

The first article I found on it was written by a journalist who had a similar observation to mine, and his determination was that it indeed hadn't appeared in print until 2004 at the earliest (the movie is 2006).

I came back with a "Ha! See?" to my hubby, who said, "Yeah, not buying it. He's just wrong."

LOL. So I did some more digging. Here's all I can find.

First of all, it's pretty much accepted by all that it's in reference to the term kick the bucket, which has been a phrase meaning "to die" since the 1780s. Moreover, bucket list has been a computer term since the 1960s, meaning a way to sort things (i.e. "that data belongs on the y-bucket list, whereas this data belongs on the x-bucket list). There's some speculation as to whether a computer programmer was the first to snatch that phrase, decide it reminded them of kick the bucket, and make a leap in meaning. Who knows?

There are quite a few forums discussing this "is it really so recent??" question. Quite a few people who report having heard it growing up in the way in question. Which could very well be true. Historically speaking, words usually appear in spoken vernacular 20ish years before they appear in print. But we can only track things, obviously, by their appearances in print.

The OED (which my husband will say is the source for the English language) will have to be our final ruling on this. And they date the phrase at 2006, which is when it reached the number of appearances in print required to be deemed a sticking phrase in English.

So what do you think? Had you heard this phrase before the movie came out??

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thoughtful About . . . The Real Spirit of Christmas

A couple weeks ago, my kids said something that got me thinking. We were in the van, heading somewhere or another, talking about how Christmas is coming soon. Rowyn asked what day of the week it was on, and Xoe said, "Thursday. Hey, that means that in a couple years, it'll be on church day! Won't that be cool? I can't think of a better way to celebrate Christmas than going to church."

She didn't realize how she hit me. How those words would echo with me. On the one hand, I'm saying, "Yay, my daughter gets it! She gets the real reason for Christmas! She's thinking about Jesus!"

On the other hand, I'm knowing some severe guilt. Why? Because never in my life have I gone--nor wanted to go--to church on Christmas. Christmas Eve, yes. Of course. Always. But Christmas? No way. Christmas is for family time. Breakfast. Dinner. Presents. Christmas is for gathering with those I love and...and...and what?

When did the church part get pushed out of the day? Maybe it started as anticipating, bringing it in...maybe we can say "Well we don't even know what day Jesus was born on, so why does it matter when we go to church to celebrate it?" But if it doesn't matter...if it's meant to lead us to focus on him...why not give Him the day we give Him? Why do we push him to the night before, to an obligatory reading of Scripture, to a single candle lit and forgotten?

What if I'm wrong, have been wrong all my life? That's what my husband and I were talking about later that same week. What if--brace yourselves--what if Christmas isn't about family?

That's the message in the feel-good movies, right? It's a time of hope. Of giving. Of embracing that Christmas spirit. It's a time of believing in the impossible. Of miracles (which may or may not include Santa). It's a time for drawing close to those you love.

Only...it's not. Or shouldn't be. I'm not saying Christmas shouldn't include those things...but shouldn't it be a spiritual holiday? Shouldn't I be thinking more about the miracle of God becoming man than a snowman coming to life? Shouldn't the Christmas story be more than an obligatory reading? Shouldn't I be more focused on preparing my heart for God than in preparing the presents for under the tree?

I've heard it all, read it all, said it all before...and then changed nothing. We still go out shopping and spending and asking our kids to make Christmas lists. We make them write down every thing they want and don't have--and then get frustrated when they're more focused on presents than Him. When they get upset if they don't get what they ask for.

This year, something's going to change in my house. For starters, no lists! This one has really struck me this year. I am absolutely, 100% not going to have my kids focus on what they want. I don't want Christmas to be about what they want. I don't, frankly, want it to be about what presents they're giving (though that's better). I want the focus to be on what they've already gotten. What has already been done. A celebration of the most amazing gift mankind has ever received.

We got God, y'all. In the flesh. Putting aside his deity to take on the fragile bones and sinews of a helpless little baby. I'm sorry, but a talking dragon toy ain't got nothin' on that.

This year, the few gifts we get our kids will be given to them on Christmas Eve. Yes, we're still celebrating the joy of the holiday by trying to bring joy to those we love--within reason. We're decorating, because celebration is important. But that will be our lead-in, not our what-we've-led-up-to. Christmas Day, we're going to focus on Him. I've asked the kids to come up with things they'd like to do Christmas morning to celebrate Jesus.

They want to sing. 

They want to pray.

They want to read the Christmas story.

They want to have written their own Christmas stories and read them to us.

They want to make a gift for Jesus.

They want to make a cake (or pancake) for Him.

That will be our morning, then we'll go spend time with the rest of the family. First though, we're going to get grounded. We're going to lift our hearts and spirits to Him. We're going to make sure we're not making an idol of the holiday.

Because I really, really don't want the day that we set aside to celebrate Jesus becoming man to become a tool of the enemy. I really, really don't want that enemy cackling over how he's managed to cheapen it, even among the Church--especially among the Church. I don't want my God in heaven to be looking on us with mourning, wondering why our families are more important than His.

Like all the best lies, there's a kernel of truth in the way I've always done things. Family is important. The celebration is important. The cheer, the joy, the spirit is important. But not as important as the Spirit. Not as important as the why behind the celebration. Not as important as the Father who gave us this gift, the Brother with whom we're joint-heirs to the kingdom.

This year, we're not just talking about the Reason. This year, we're changing things. And for the first time in...well, maybe ever...I'm excited to think, not about what gifts or parties or songs there might be, not about what I'm going to do--this year, I'm excited to think of what God might do among my family this Christmas.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Remember When . . . We Had a Photo Shoot?

This isn't exactly a cover design post, since the covers haven't been finalized yet. But this past weekend we had a photo shoot for an upcoming WhiteFire series, and it was so much fun that I thought I'd post a bit about it, and get y'all looking forward to when I do post about the cover design. ;-)
WhiteFire recently had the joy of signing a fresh young author to a 3-book deal. I first met Rachelle Rea on Go Teen Writers, quite a few years ago when the blog was first starting up. She's been a regular member there over the years, and soon stood out as a sweetheart. One with talent. She just graduated from college last spring, and already she's building a career as a freelance editor and is known for her tagline, "Inspiring Daring."

Her Steadfast Love series takes place in the 1560s, focusing on a Catholic heroine caught in the middle of the riots and slaughtering of Catholics by Protestants in Holland, known as the Iconoclastic Fury. A rescuer arrives to sweep her back to her home in England...but not the rescuer she would have hoped for. No, the man who shows up is the very one who murdered her parents. She saw him standing over their bodies. So how is she to entrust her safety to him--but what choice does she have?

The heroine, Gwyn, is tall and willowy, blond, beautiful. So naturally, when stock photo sites fail me and I realize we're going to have to do this one ourselves, I turn to my gorgeous, willowy, blond niece, Jayna. Happily, Jayna is active in theater and always eager to play dress up, so she readily agreed to pose for me. Yay!

The next step was costuming. The last couple times we had a photo shoot, we actually commissioned the dresses to be made by an amazing young seamstress--another girl I met through Go Teen Writers, LOL. But I knew I'd need three costumes (one for each book in the series), and that didn't seem like the answer this time. So I instead contacted all the costume rental places I could find who were remotely close to my hometown.

I was kinda blown away by how that all worked out. My daughter was in a parade at our mall last week and had to go in for costuming...and it happens that the same shop I'd contacted in a town 1.5 hours away was the one doing those costumes, too. So I took Jayna to be measured at the same time as Xoe, and they brought the gowns with them to the parade. How perfect was that?

Now, fashions in the 1560s were pretty diverse. The gowns we chose reflect three of the very-different styles that a lady of Gwyn's station would have worn, depending on the situation. In book 1, The Sound of Diamonds, she's on the run---starting at a convent, where she wouldn't have been decked out in court regalia. So for that one, we chose a beautiful blue velvet gown with a cape.
And we needed a "diamond" rosary necklace. Not that it deserves those quotes in the book, but I sure wasn't shelling out the gazillion dollars a real one cost. ;-) So for the purposes of a photo shoot, we settled for Ye Olde Fakes.

Our next dress for The Sound of Silver was more in court styles. A burgundy velvet with a pop-up collar, this one is regal and ended up photographing so very well!
And finally, a dress for The Sound of Emeralds. Naturally, this one had to be green. =)
Of course, dresses weren't enough. We needed a location. In the past, all our photo shoots have been in front of a blank screen, and then I put in a background photo to suit the setting. But in this case, I thought we'd try actually shooting with an appropriate backdrop. Of course, Cumberland, Maryland isn't exactly bursting with Renaissance architecture.

But we do have one location that popped to mind--a church. I emailed them to ask about using the exterior of their building as our location, and they quite happily agreed. So we did the shoot at Emmanuel Episcopal, and it was absolutely gorgeous.
So there you get a glimpse of our costuming, set, and photography (photos are all by my fabulous aunt, Pam Mulligan). What you probably can't tell from the abundant sunshine is that it was barely 40 degrees. Poor Jayna's nose was getting red by the end of the shoot, LOL.

We had a fun time--though doing costume changes in a minivan is very daring. Rachelle should be proud. ;-) And the results were simply stunning. Can't wait to share the cover process with you!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Word of the Week - Scene

I found myself looking up the etymology of crime scene the other day. I had a feeling it was a bit modern...and I was right. The original phrase was actually scene of the crime (makes sense) and was coined by Agatha Christie in 1923.

But there were some other interesting facts to learn about scene while I was there. Not surprisingly, the word comes straight from Latin (via Old French), with the expected meaning of "a subdivision of a play." What I didn't realize was that is shares a root with shine--the original Latin and Greek words carried a notion of the physical stage or booth that actors used too, and hence were similar to shade and shine.

The "part of a play" meaning existed in English from the 1530s...by the 1540s it could be used for the physical apparatus of a stage...and by the 1590s, it had taken on "the place in with a literary work occurs" and therefore also a general setting or place where anything occurs, not just literary work.

You could go "behind the scenes" of something by the 1660s. And by 1761, people could "make a scene" with their stormy outbursts.

Not that I would ever do such a thing... ;-)

Have a lovely week!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Thoughtful About . . . Greater Works Than These

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father."
John 14:12 
I had quite a few verses of Scripture that I kept in mind while writing A Soft Breath of Wind. One of them that was always hovering at the back of my mind was that one--John 14:12. A simple statement, made by Jesus to all who believe. To his disciples. To his followers. 

I've heard this verse for a lot of years. I know it. I believe it. We, the church, are capable of doing miracles. We are. Do you ever question that? But we are.

This past spring, I read a really, really amazing non-fiction book that WhiteFire Published, called No Plan B: Discovering God's Blueprint for Your Life. I've mentioned this book on here before, but it bears repeating--it's an amazing book. Because it helps shatter the lie that the church has come to believe over the past 2,000 years. That we can't do what Jesus did. That we're powerless on earth, just waiting for heaven. 

http://www.amazon.com/No-Plan-Discovering-Gods-Blueprint-ebook/dp/B00MNSOP2Q/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1415879899&sr=8-1&keywords=no+plan+b+nelson+hannah
No true. So not true. And the author points out why. Jesus didn't perform his miracles under his man-power, obviously. He didn't perform them under his God-power, either, or we wouldn't be able to do these works also. He did them under the power of the Holy Spirit. That same Holy Spirit that lives in us. Not that comes occasionally to visit us when the worship music hits us just so, but who lives in us. Always. He is the one who healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, fed the five thousand, and raised the dead.

Has the Spirit changed?

No.

Has the church?

Unfortunately...yes. Most of us have. We can't believe in the miraculous in the world of CG and special effects. It just takes too much faith. We can't believe in healings--and raising from the dead?? FORGET IT--in the world of emergency rooms, prescription drugs, and routine surgeries.

Nelson Hannah challenges us in No Plan B to let go of that lie--and, for heaven's sake (literally), don't teach our children that lie!

We tend to look at the church of Acts as something...special (and it was). But something...out of reach (but it isn't). We tend to look at it as "Back in the day, when miracles happened." I've even seen (quite a few) publishers who say, in their requirements "Stories may not include miracles unless they are biblical fiction."

That galls me. It really does. Not because I have all these stories that want to use miracles as a device to quickly wrap up the action, but because I want to shout at these publishers and editors, "But He's the same God! The same Spirit! Why in the world are characters set in A.D. 30 allowed to do it, but those from today aren't???"
In A Soft Breath of Wind, there are miracles. Yes, it's biblical fiction. So they'd be "allowed" by any publisher. But the whole point of the miracles, in Soft Breath, is that it's the power of the Spirit, working through imperfect humans who doubt, just like we do. But who choose to believe instead, just like we can.

Because Jesus doesn't say that we might do greater works than these. He doesn't say that "He who believes in me today--but not those who believe in me in later generations, mind you--will do these same works and greater." He says, "He who believes."

In my book, not every character believes. But Zipporah does. She believes with the faith of a child, a faith that she clings too as she grows up, even in the face of doubt from those who should believe in her. She believes in the impossible, because nothing is with God. She believes that what Jesus spoke is truth.

In A Soft Breath of Wind, there are miracles. But the miracles aren't used as a quick wrap-up. The miracles aren't an easy way out. The miracles are the hard part, because they require the characters to let go of their human understanding, their human limitations, and trust in Him. They require them to step outside what they "know."


They require them to believe in him.

Every wonder why Jesus says we'll not only do what he does, but greater? Because we're operating by the same Spirit...but now we have him in heaven, too, making intercession for us. Sometimes when I pause and think about it, this just awes me. Jesus--wise and humble, perfect and bold--is fighting for me. And his Spirit is whispering into my mind. 

Writing A Soft Breath of Wind forced me to look pretty deeply at this. Forced me to realize that if I'm not doing these things--and greater--it's no fault of His. It's a fault of mine. It's my lukewarm faith, not the age I live in. It's me choosing to focus on the things of this world instead.

I'm not there yet--I'll be totally honest about that. But I'll state it here and now, a phrase pretty popular this time of year with talk of Santa and that famous Miracle on 34th Street

I believe. 

I believe He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

I believe the same Spirit that raised the dead and healed the blind and wrapped time around His little fingers is here today, waiting to be called upon.

I believe Jesus spoke truth when he made that promise.

I bet you believe too. The questions is...what are we going to do about it?


*Sunshine photo: 
photo credit: Hamed Saber via photopin cc

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

News for the Day!

Release week means a departure from the norm. ;-) Bear with me.

First, A Soft Breath of Wind is love on Nook!

Next, I have a marketing post up on Seriously Write--part 1, with part 2 coming December 10th.

Finally, did you get my newsletter? 
If not, it went out last night--you can view it here, and sign up for future updates here!

Stay tuned for more links and updates throughout the week!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Soft Breath of Wind Blog Tour!


It's release week! And as usual, I'm celebrating with appearances on some fabulous blogs--interviews, guest posts, and reviews will all be coming up, including some giveaways! So be sure to stop by and say hi!

Monday, 11/10


Wednesday, 11/12


Friday, 11/14
Mesu Andrews - Interview (and there will be a review in her November newsletter!)

Saturday and Sunday, 11/15-16

Friday, 11/21


And I'm always happy to do more guest spots as they arise, so if you'd like to host me on your blog, just drop me a line!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Word of the Week - Demur & Demure


When words are this close in spelling, I always find myself wondering if they're related. And, yeah, occasionally get the spellings confused too. ;-) This morning I was rereading what I wrote over the weekend and saw a time where I was using the verb, demur, but put the E on the end. Which is what sent me to dictionary.com.

The verb demur dates from the 1200s and originally meant "to linger, to tarry." Its roots came from the Latin demorari, through the Old French demorer, which meant the same thing. Okay...

Demure, on the other hand, is from the French meur, which means "fully grown, ripe" and hence "mature, grave." Where, then, did the de- come from? Well now, that's a good question, and etymologists aren't quite sure. Though they suspect (another case of Isle and Island) that the de- may have been borrowed from demuré, which is the past participle of that Old French demorer. Another case of "they sound the same, so let's spell them the same"?? Could be!

On a completely unrelated note, it's release week for me!! Tomorrow I'll post a blog with all my upcoming blog tour stops and a few highlights and requests. =)


photo credit: Alexander Rentsch via photopin cc

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Thoughtful About . . . Stolen Blessings


It was probably 20 years ago, though I don't remember the exact date. I was just a kid, at home in my safe little world. But we had friends who had gone into missions. The whole family, gone for months at a time, off spreading the good news. This time, it was to Bulgaria. I doubt I could have even found it on a map, but off they went. A few adults stepping out in faith and a group of YWAM kids on fire for God.

Our friend Mike recently shared this story of his first trip to Bulgaria with our church, and though it's so long past, it spoke to me on so many levels.

They showed up in a bus in this tiny Bulgarian town. They were there to preach to the gypsies. Now, I don't know what you know about the gypsies, but let's just say that they're not well received in Europe. They're the outcasts, the unloved ones. They're viewed with suspicion and prejudice and have been for centuries.

And this town they arrived in...it's not like any town we know. There are no fast food restaurants, no food trucks waiting on the corners. And to hear Mike tell the tale, they didn't arrive with big plans. They arrived with big faith...and a few dozen hungry teenage mouths to feed.

He said he got off that bus not knowing exactly how he was going to find food for 40 teenagers--food was kinda scarce in that region. Times were tough. But he started down the road looking for restaurants that could take their crowd.

Then, down the street, a man came running. Waving his hand. Yelling, "Don't you dare! Don't you dare!"

Make stopped, turned, probably frowned. Probably wondered if, somehow, he was taking the food from this man's family by trying to buy it for his group.

The man huffed to a halt in front of him. "Don't you dare," he said again, "steal my blessing. I am to feed you. My wife has been cooking for days. Come. Come. All of you."

This man and his wife had never met these people before. They didn't know they were coming--even the group didn't know they'd end up in this town. But the Spirit knew. And the Spirit had made arrangements.

The group followed this man back to his small house and found tables set up outside. Pots and pots of steaming food waiting for them.

Bulgaria has, since then, been a second home to this family mine loves so well. I always love listening to their stories, but this one...this one is something special to me.

When Mike stood at the podium shouting out an echo of that long-faded "Don't you dare steal my blessing!" something went tight inside me. Because how often do we steal blessings from each other?

We're a society of prideful, arrogant, self-sufficient people. We rely on the money we can make, the health insurance plan we can afford, the car we drive, the clothes we buy. We rely on us. Not on God, not really. Not most of the time.

And on each other? Forget it. Even in the church, we have this idea that it's great and noble to give...but it's chafing to receive.

I have a friend who jokes about having "the gift of receiving." It's a joke...but it's also true. It's a gift, one many of us deny. But by denying someone else the opportunity to give to us, denying them the opportunity to be generous, WE ARE STEALING THEIR BLESSING.

Because when you give, unreservedly...

When you give, without thought to how much that will leave you with...

When you give, not even knowing if the people will show up...

When you give, sacrificing your own pleasures, your own time, your own sustenance...

God gives back. And He gives back from His storehouses, which, let me just tell you, honey, are a whole lot fuller than ours. He gives back with eternal life, not just in heaven but here on earth. He gives back with spiritual understanding. He gives back by making less become enough. He gives back by turning people who were once sinners into saints. Now. Here. He gives us His glory, His promise, His Spirit, His truth, His power.

But if we're not let to give--if we don't let others give to us--then what?

As the holiday season approaches, as Thanksgiving looms around the corner, I've been talking a lot to my kids about how the most noble gift, the most noble giving, isn't to the ones who will give us a present in return--it's to those who can't.

I'd say I also need to teach them how to receive, but to be honest, that's something kids already know. Right? It's another part of childlike faith, because every gift we give our kids is undeserved. They don't earn it. They don't give us something in return. They receive in love and give back love. Something we un-learn as we age, but which is oh so important.

Because I have nothing but my heart to give my Father. Nothing but my heart and my willingness to let Him use whatever else I have for His other children. That part's not so hard to understand. But I also need to have hands willing to receive from others when it's their turn to give--even when I look at them and think, "But I have more than they do, I can't take this from them." I can't just give, expecting blessing. I have to be willing to let others give too.

The next time someone wants to do something nice for you or give you something, I hope you pause before you refuse. I hope you stop to think, "If I say no, if I try to do this/get this on my own instead, am I stealing their blessing?"

I hope we all pause to consider what we might be really taking from them by refusing to accept a gift from their hands.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Word of the Week - Behave


This is one I've wondered about for years but never paused to look up. Behave. As a kid, I would often joke that I was "being have." And I would always wonder what, exactly, "have" was, LOL. Well, I recently said something similar to my kids and decided to look it up.

As it happens, it isn't some weird word spelled h-a-v-e but that rhymes with "knave." It's actually just plain ol' have. Like, has, have, had type of have. So where in the world did this behave word come from??

Apparently be + have was created as a sort of word that means "to have oneself in control." To bear yourself a certain way. It dates from the early 1400s and evolved from Old English behabban, with meant "to constrain." That sense of controlling something carried through.

So there we have it. If you're behaving, you aren't being something called have that has some ancient meaning of goodness. ;-) You're being in control of yourself.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

A Soft Breath of Wind!!!

She's alive!

Well, halfway. Paperbacks are now available on Amazon, and will be showing up soon at B&N too! Digital versions will go live at midnight on 11/15, so if you have pre-ordered, it'll automatically download then. =) If you pre-ordered the paperback, those will likely be on their way to you in the next day, if they aren't already. =D

If you haven't ordered yet but intend to, I would ask for my own selfish purposes (LOL) that you either pre-order or place the order on the official release day of November 15. I ask this solely because all pre-orders count as first-day sales, and the more sales you get in the one day, the higher up the ranks you go, and the more visibility you get.

For those of you who signed up to be influencers, I'll get copies in the mail to you as soon as I have them. If you requested digital versions to influence, I'll have them to you in the next couple days.

If you were one of my beta readers and feel inclined to write a review, you can now do that at Amazon and Goodreads, and I would greatly appreciate it if you did. Amazon searches/ranks apparently incorporate number of reviews in their algorithm somehow, and having 25 reviews or more is quite helpful.

Speaking of reviews...please keep in mind that I have sworn off reading any reviews just posted to sites like Amazon, Goodreads, B&N, etc. If you want me to read the review you've written, please either email me to say you wanted to share your thoughts with me or tag me in a link on Facebook or Twitter. I made the decision to swear off reviews when Ring of Secrets came out, for personal reasons--namely, guarding my attitude, LOL, and not getting distracted by the emotions that come along with reviews. However, I do LOVE hearing from readers, especially when they share how stories affected them! If you want to talk to me about the book, I would absolutely love it. =) You can always, always email me at roseanna at roseannawhite dot com.

Let's see, what else? I don't know, other than to ask for your continued prayers for this book. Not just for things like sales numbers (though I certainly wouldn't complain about good sales, LOL), but that God's work is done and His kingdom expanded.

Squee!!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Remember When . . . The Book Got Visual?

I'm happy to report that a week or two ago, I got to fill out cover information for The Lost Heiress. YAY!!! I love the cover aspect of a book, and the designers at Bethany House always do such a fabulous job that I just know I'm going to adore whatever they come up.

One of things that I've found is invaluable to cover designers is a good Pinterest board. I have a pretty full one for The Lost Heiress...and am just getting started on my board for the sequel, The Outcast Duchess. And...yeah. It could use some help, LOL. Things like 1912 fashions shouldn't be too hard, and I've got a couple great pictures of the castle my heroine's home is based on, and on Loch Morar.

Most recently I put my husband on the task of figuring out what kind of car Brice, the Duke of Nottingham, would drive--we decided it would definitely be an Austin. Austin was not only a British company (and Brice would totally go British), it was the one most popular with the nobility. And see, where Justin and Brook in The Lost Heiress are interested in cars for cars' sake, in the engineering and the innovation, Brice is more the "What a nifty little machine. I think I'll have one." type of guy. ;-)

So here is Brice's car...

And Emma Watson (when she isn't styled for sexy) is a pretty decent Rowena Kinnaird...

But I admit to some trouble trying to find my perfect Brice. He needs to be oh-so-handsome. Swoon-worthy. Suave, genteel, elegant. With a healthy dose of wit and perpetual good humor. I've been toying with maybe using Colin O'Donoghue (who I adore as Hook on Once Upon a Time)

...but I don't know. He does a fabulous rogue, but Brice is more smooth charm that roguish charm. So I am totally open for suggestions of other tall, dark, and handsome heroes. ;-) So...who are you favorite actors that fit the bill?

Monday, October 27, 2014

Word of the Week - Novel

Hard to believe I've never looked this one up before, eh? LOL

My daughter has asked me a few times where the word novel comes from. I had some inkling, knowing my roots and the fact that novel can mean both "something new" and the fiction stories I so adore. But this morning I thought I'd flesh it out a bit.

Novel is from the Old French which is turn from Latin novellus, meaning "new, young, recent." It's been in English since the 15th century as an adjective ("what a novel idea!"), but was seldom used until the 1600s.

As a noun meaning a "fictitious narrative," it dates to the 1560s, and following the same root. A novella was originally "a new story" and from there shifted to exclude the "new" aspect. Originally, it was used for short stories included in a collection--like one of Chaucer's tales, for instance. Then came to be used for longer works by about 1630. Prior to that, such works were called romances.

Novelist dates from 1728, and novelize, which originally meant "to make new," first appeared as such in the 1640s, morphing into "to be made into a novel" round about 1828.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Thoughtful About . . . My Girl



It's Xoë's birthday. That means cinnamon rolls and homemade macaroni, and a day off school (woo hoo!). It means presents and pink and laughter and fun. And a mommy who solemnly swears to stay off her computer most of the day.

Of course, Xoë isn't up yet, so here I am. ;-)

I had preconceived notions of motherhood--who doesn't? I thought I'd be perfectly patient all the time, nurturing my babies to adulthood with wisdom and boundless love.

I've got the love part. And I sure try to be wise. Patience...well, let's say parenthood has taught me a lot in that department.

And though I have moments of temporary insanity when I walk into the living room and it looks like a toy bomb has exploded, those moments are far, far outweighed by the ones where I draw my kiddos close and think, "Yep, this is it. This is what life is about."

Xoë is my firstborn, and she's such a special little girl. I can't quite believe she's 9 today (HOW DID THAT HAPPEN???!!!), but I figure it's a good time to make a list. Nine reasons out of the gazillion that I love my brave little princess.

1. She's always thinking about others. She shares gladly with her brother (most of the time, LOL) and even more gladly with cousins and friends. She'd rather make sure those she loves are happy than herself. I've never met a child more eager to help. (She loved being my helper at book events, like in the photo above.)

2. She's smart. I've yet to introduce a concept in school that she hasn't grasped within a day or two. (Okay, Roman numerals took a few months--but when she got them, she got them with a vengeance! She's now quicker at them than I am!)

3. She's clever. Which is different from smart, LOL. I love hearing the witty things she says, the clever little jokes she'll make. Makes my day every time. =)

4. She believes in celebrating. I'm talking, any occasion she can come up with. We had a First Day of Fall Festival just last month, and she'll make decorations and banners for whichever party she decides to throw in a given week--and this girl plans months in advance. I pray she never loses that heart to rejoice over the little things! It makes life so much brighter. =)


5. She's not afraid to be crazy. Nothing makes me grin more than when she does a silly little walk or dance.

6. She's still a little girl. In a world where kids idolize TV stars and musicians, where I often shake my head at how primary schoolers try to act like 17-year-olds, my little girl is just that. A little girl. I know part of that is likely due to our lovely little homeschooling bubble, but I'll keep it that way for a while longer, thanks. A 9-year-old should be a little girl!

7. She's thoughtful. Just last night when she heard the reports of the terrible events in Canada yesterday, she asked, "What's terrorism?" And then, after I explained it, "But why would anyone do that?" We had a rather lengthy discussion on it all...

8. She's creative. She draws, she writes stories, she designed in Photoshop...yeah, I know. Sounds like me, LOL. But seeing what she creates always leaves me with this big ol' glow of pride...

and..

9. She's not afraid to be herself. Over the years she's ended up among some pretty relentless leaders--her cousin, the neighbor girl, etc. And she rarely insists on being the leader. But she also isn't afraid to say, "No, let's not do that." No matter who she's with, she's Xoë.

And oh, how I love my Xoë. Happy birthday, pumpkin!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Remember When . . . A Screw Saved Us?

I'm up on Colonial Quills today, and I'm talking about . . . what? A giant screw? A printing press? Huh?

Yep. Our homeschool year has been full to bursting with oh-so-interesting fun facts about early America, but this one won the right to appear on the CQ. ;-) Hop over to read the full article!


http://colonialquills.blogspot.com/2014/10/the-screw-that-saved-america.html

The year was 1620. The crowd of passengers crammed into the small vessel numbered 101. Among them were adventurers, seekers of fortune...and a group of Separatists who wanted a fresh start in a new land where they could worship as they saw fit. 
We've all heard the story of the Mayflower. But I confess that for many years it was just a tale trotted out at the end of November, and I had always been far more interested in making paper-bag Indian vests and coloring my cornucopia than in some of the finer details of the Pilgrims' journey. Of course, that was before I became a history nerd, so it's only to be expected that now, as I'm reading those old stories to my kids in our homeschool curriculum, they're the ones coloring happily away while I pause in my reading to go, "Wow, I never knew that! Just think of it..."
Read the Full Article

Monday, October 20, 2014

Word of the Week - Perk

Today's word comes to us by me literally clicking on a random letter at www.EtymOnline.com and then a random page within said letter and scrolling down until something caught my eye. ;-) The lucky word was perk.
The first meaning of perk in English came from Old North French and meant "to make oneself trim or sharp." From the late 1300s, this word was inspired by preening birds--the French word it's taken from means "perch."

By the 1520s, it had expanded to mean "to raise oneself briskly." Interestingly, the term perk up didn't follow for another 140 years (language changed so much more slowly back then!)

The verb that we use for how we make our coffee is actually a shortened, altered form of percolate, which is completely unrelated, and came around in 1934.

The noun form, as in "a highlight or bonus" is from 1869, another shortened, altered form--this time of perquisite, a mid-15th century word from Latin that means "profit, thing gained." Yeah, I had no clue about that one!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Thoughtful About . . . Fame and Fortune (Or Not)

When I was a kid, I had big dreams. And this idea that writers lived on mansion on hilltops. I thought that surely, surely fame and fortune awaited me down that road. That I'd be a household name. That people would squeal with excitement when they met me. That I'd be able to dive into my vault of gold like Scrooge McDuck.

Yeah, so...um, no. LOL. That's not the life of a writer--at least, not many of us. But that's okay. Because the more I travel this road, the more I know it isn't about those old dreams. It's about the stories God puts in my heart.

For a lot of writers, writing is a career. They love it, but it comes down to the bottom line. I get that...but that's not me. To me, despite those childhood dreams, writing isn't about what I get from it. It's about what I can give with it. Writing is my calling. Writing is my ministry. Writing is the way I share about faith, about God, about how He guides through our lives. About how love lifts us above the dark places--though those dark places will always come.

Tonight I have a book signing at my local library, so my thoughts this morning were on the subject. And I've also been hearing back from my beta readers for A Soft Breath of Wind, so that makes me think about it even more. I guess as a kid, I would have imagined that praise for my books would have made me smile like a movie star, utter a gracious thank you so much! and go about my day knowing I'd done that, I'd done what I set out to do.

Instead, every time I get an email or message from one of these early readers with words like your best yet and this opened my eyes to faith on a whole new level, there's no euphoria. There's no glow of accomplishment. There's something better. There's that deep-down, bone-level gratitude to God for helping me write what He wanted me to. For putting down a story I wasn't sure would be what my core readers want and finding that it's what they need. For realizing He had things in mind for my words I didn't know.

That's what writing has become for me. And while it might not be enough for Scrooge McDuck, I gotta say, it's why I keep doing this. It's why I get up at 5:30 every morning, though I don't often get to bed until 11. It's why I bake cookies to take to the library with me, though my day is already full. It's why I sacrifice that time when I could be outside or reading or otherwise at play, to squeeze a few more paragraphs onto the page.

I've said it before, I'm sure. I write because it's who I am. It's what I'm called to do. If no one ever read it, I'd still write. If I never earned a penny, I'd still write. Because God teaches me so much through each story.

Yesterday marked the T-one month date for the release of A Soft Breath of Wind. And as the countdown to release begins, I'm covering this book with prayer. It goes places no other book of mine has ever gone. It digs to places I didn't know it would plumb. It asks questions I'd never thought to wonder about until Zipporah and Benjamin and Samuel brought them up.

And that means it's probably going to offend some people--those types of books always do. So I'm also praying that it doesn't get into the hands of anyone to whom it would be a stumbling block. I'm fine with people not liking my book, with them taking issue with it, if it's an issue God wants them to take. But I'm not okay with people asking questions that makes them waver in their faith or go places in their minds they don't need to go (I've had a few of those reviews over the years too). So if you've a mind to say a prayer over this book and its releasing, please include that--that it make it into the hands of those who need it and stays out of the hands of those who don't.

I'd also appreciate a prayer for my event tonight. I love doing library signings--so much fun to chat with folks who love books! So here's hoping it goes well and I meet some new people to chat with. =)