Thursday, July 30, 2015

Thoughtful About . . . I Am


I am a mom--an imperfect one, but one who tries to show her kids what she can...and who is constantly amazed by these two precious little people who latch onto my waist and declare, "Mine! You'll always be my mama!"

He is my Father--a perfect one, who shows me in so many ways what I can do through Him. Who constantly amazes me with the gifts, small and large, that He has given us. Who patiently whispers, "Mine. You'll always be my daughter."

I am a wife--one who messes up now and then, who says the wrong thing and forgets to make dinner. But one who still gets that little pitter-patter inside at the thought of seeing her husband after a short absence. Who dares to dream along with him of somedays and maybes.

He is the Bridegroom--the one who is always waiting for his Bride to remember her vows, to remain faithful, to reach for perfection. The one with arms outstretched in love for His church, for the world.

I am a bit of recluse--the kind who likes company, sure, but who gets lost in a crowd. Who sits at a party feeling awkward, even when it's all family. Who can give a sermon or a speech no problem, but who often stumbles through the unscripted...until she has a keyboard under her fingers or a pen in her hand.

He is everywhere. Always. And yet He doesn't force His way in. He stands outside the doors of our hearts and awaits our invitation. To come in. To sit with us. To give us the words we can't find and the sense of belonging that sometimes evades us.

I am a homemaker--but not the kind who makes a beautiful, showcase home. I appreciate those, but they're not for me. I would rather spend my spare dollars on dreams and goals and helping those who have less than on curtains or decorations. All I need, I have discovered, is enough--when I find myself with more, it's meant to be used for a greater purpose than my own comfort.

He is the Creator--the one who made the world and all that's in it. Who clothed the lilies of the field. Who made a home for every creature. The one who bids me, "Don't worry about tomorrow. Just follow Me today."

Sometimes, when I'm tired or down or just overwhelmed, it's easy to focus on all I'm not. But I'm not not. I am. I am all He made me, and all He made me to be that I haven't yet realized. I'm flaws and strengths, weaknesses and determination.

I'm a shadow of Him--a mirror, I pray, of His light. I am His. And He is I AM.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Word of the Week - Apple


Yesterday my hubby called our daughter "The apple of my eye," and she looked at us like we were off our rocker. "The apple? How does an eye have an apple?"

Good question, my girl. Good question. =)

The word apple has been in English as long as there was English to be in...but in a much broader sense than you might think. It applied to all fruit, even including nuts and berries. This was true as late as the 1600s. (So translating Genesis with the forbidden fruit being an apple was being rather vague, really...)

As for "apple of the eye"--it was literally the pupil, which people thought was a solid thing; but by calling it the apple, they were saying it represented that which was most treasured or cherished. It's a phrase that comes from Old English too, in which case, it shouldn't be too surprising, since all fruit in an area belonged to the lord in the days of serfdom, and commoners seldom tasted it.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Thoughtful About . . . A Way to Help!

The potato harvest in Bulgaria ~ Food that can change lives!


It's been a familiar refrain for me lately--that I don't want to be all talk, I want to do something to share my faith, take a stand, make a difference. And I know I'm not alone in this. But all too often, we ask...but what?

I have a what. And I'm excited about it. =)

I've talked a bit before about friends of the family who have been traveling as missionaries to Bulgaria for the last 20 years. Right now they're in the planning stages for a permanent move to Bulgaria, so they can serve the community of Romas (the gypsy people) they love like their own. Well, last week they got some news with the potential to devastate this community--their crop of potatoes had been harvested, but the market had bottomed out. They had no buyers. What were they going to do?

Our friend, Mike, had been praying about the situation, and talking with friends in the field. Friends ministering to another group in that region in desperate straits--the refugees fleeing ISIS. Tens of thousands have come into this region in the last year, running for their lives. Many are Christians. Some are "not Muslim enough" (read: extremist). All are in a dire situation, living in camps and not sure where their next meal will come from.

The refugees need food for the families.

The Romas need to sell their crop to support their families.

The solution is pretty clear--the Romas can send their potatoes to the refugee camps, solving both problems. But that requires us.
http://www.gofund.me/zyrq3s

I'm so incredibly thrilled to have a tangible way to help! This is something I can relate to: potatoes. They cost $300 a ton, including transportation to the refugee camps. $300 to feed hundreds of people.

I spend that on my family's groceries in a couple weeks. Kinda puts it in perspective.

But our donations can make a very real, very direct difference in all these lives. And it's not a donation to some huge organization, where I have no clue if my money is actually helping or just paying for mailings that get tossed. Absolutely 100% of funds raised (after the fees of the site hosting our fundraiser) will go toward this mission.

It's officially being hosted by the non-profit my husband started recently, ARM (Appalachian Relief Mission ~ an ARM outstretched) in conjunction with our friends' organization, Roma Missions International. Both have new websites with not a lot on them yet, but you're welcome to check them out. www.AnArmOutstretched.com | www.RomaMissions.org

I can't imagine being forced from my home to keep my family from being slaughtered by extremists--but that's the plight of these refugees.

I can't imagine growing up in a country where talking of faith, of God, was illegal--but that's what these Roma farmers faced until the fall of communism at the end of the 20th century.

Let's make a difference. Let's feed some people. You can find the GoFundMe page at gofundme.com/zyrq3s

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Remember When . . . Georgia Was Chartered?

It's my day on Colonial Quills, and today I'm talking about the founding of the Georgia colony. Did you know it was meant to be a charity colony? Hop on over to read about it!

Colonial Quills : Georgy - A Charity Case


I learned a lot this year, teaching my kids early American history--and one of the things I'd never known before was about how the colony of Georgia came to be.
James Oglethorpe

It began in the mind of General James Oglethorpe, who was greatly disturbed by all the poor he saw in London--and the drunkeness. He as his friends had been discussing the woeful situation for quite a while, with no ready solution coming to mind. Then one day they saw a map of North America, and they noticed a large swath of land still unclaimed on the Eastern seaboard, between English South Carolina and Spanish Florida. Read the Full Article

Monday, July 20, 2015

Word of the Week - Skeleton


Not to be gruesome or anything. ;-) I was looking this one up to see when the phrase "skeleton in the closet" came about.

Skeleton itself first arrived in English in about 1570, meaning a mummy, dried-up body, or bone remains. The word came from Latin, but the Latin word had come in turn from Greek, so it's an ooooollllddddd concept, closely tied to the verb form that meant "to dry up, parch, wither."

The meaning of "bare outline" followed in about 1600, from which we get "skeleton crew" or "skeleton key." The phrase that sent me in search of it to begin with was coined right around 1812.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

My Launch Team


I will be back to regular blogging next week--I promise. ;-) Today I'm still trying to wrap up all the craziness of building my launch team for The Lost Heiress. =)

My slots for free books were quickly filled (and over-filled), and it was even brought to my attention that by the time the emailed version of my blog went out to subscribers, the form had been turned off. (I turned off the form but didn't realize subscribers got the notification so late! Sorry!)

I can't put any more people on my freebie list, BUT if any of you plan on buying or have requested it on Netgalley and want to join my launch team to join that community and the fun involved (special giveaways for those helping me promote, lots of behind-the-scenes that the general public won't get, and the fun of fellowship with other readers who love the same sorts of books you do), just send me a quick note asking to be added to the Facebook group.

Thanks so much for the support and enthusiasm! It's so much fun to see all the new-to-me names and faces of people eager to read Brook's story. =)

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Writing Retreats and Cool News!

Monday afternoon, I returned from a rather amazing 4 days of retreat. Given the questions I was getting on Facebook about how I pulled off the word counts I did, I thought I'd take today to chat a bit about this writing retreat. =)

Over the course of three full days and a couple stray hours on Thursday night, I wrote 49,000 words. That's nearly half of my book. I was at 66K when the weekend started, and I finished it up at 115K. I have never before written so much in so short a time. I have certainly never before written over 18,000 words in one day, like I did on Sunday--hurtling toward The End. But there were a few key ingredients to make it possible.

1.) Quiet and No Distractions
This is about all that's within view of us at the cabin. Not much. All quiet. Ahhhhhh.

This is our whole purpose for having a writing retreat every year. Stephanie and I both have small children, which means interruptions aplenty. Interruptions we would never want to go without--our kids certainly come first--but which can get frustrating when we don't get solid work time for months on end. Especially when under deadline--ahem. Having a few days when no one is at our elbow asking for our attention is a rare treat.

2.) Focused Mindset
Stephanie. Very focused. Very, very focused...

Tying in with that, knowing we're going to have solid time with no distractions means we can be in the right frame of mind. We know this time is coming. We plan for it for months. We go in determined and focused, and unlike those days when I think, "Oh, look, an hour of quiet--I must focus! [Oh look, an email!]" This is time we pay for. We invest in. No way am I going to squander that! (Which should really be a lesson to me as to how I approach those stray hours too...)

3.) Preparation for the Physical
We didn't think to take pictures of the crammed inches of counter space teeming with
fruit, pretzels, and CHOCOLATE...

On the average day, I stress about dinner. And have to stop to get three different lunches. And breakfasts. And must approve snacks. During this weekend, a quick trip to the market give us a few solid choices for quick meals. The only thing we have to think about it, "Soup or salad?" A two minute conversation, and Stephanie and I can decide if we want to take a break and walk over to the little restaurant for a sandwich or have a working dinner. There's very little thought involved at the time--it's all been done ahead. With all our needs already planned for and met (including several bags of chocolate...), a major daily distraction is eliminated.

4.) Instant Brainstorming
A beautiful foggy morning in the mountains is so inspiring!

I like to think that I could be so productive if by myself too, but honestly, I have no idea. At the moment, the 3 retreats I've been on have all been with Stephanie. And that's worked out amazingly. Stephanie and I write at approximately the same pace, and we know each other very well. That means we can push each other onward ("I just hit 4,000 words! Where are you?") without making the other feel like a slacker. And it means that we know we can interrupt the other for very quick brainstorming, like, "So how would you react if you learned your boyfriend had spread this lie about you?" (My answer to which, by the way, was "NO! CHASE CANNOT DO THAT TO ELLIE!" She didn't listen. *Sigh* LOL.) This super-fast help steering over bumps is fun, refreshing, and oh so helpful.

5.) Plotting Ahead of Time
Me with my notes beside me and all crucials--like water and M&Ms--on the table at my side

I'm not an outliner, not fully. The first half of a book is complete discovery for me. I write, I see where the story takes me, what characters emerge as prominent. But by the mid-point of a book, I know where I'm going and where I'll end up, and I have a good idea of the path I should take to get there. My previous two retreats, I was in the beginnings of my novels. I went into the weekend with a few ideas for particular scenes but mostly with some general, sweeping ideas. This time, being at the end of the book, I was a lot more particular. I wrote down every scene I needed between where I was and the end, sorted by POV. I printed it out, color coded it, and felt pretty happy with it. I had 29 scenes to write, and I hoped it would land me in my target word count.

I found this method to be extremely productive for this weekend, this portion of my book. I never really had to stop and wonder where to go next--though of course, one little tweak I made ended up with reordering, deleting, and merging of scenes, and adding 2 I didn't expect. But those were easy changes to make. And for the first time, I finished my manuscript on retreat. On the same day that Stephanie did. Which was really awesome, and made an ice cream break thoroughly deserved. =)

~*~


When I got home, it was to the realization that The Lost Heiress was in the hands of the marketing and promo teams at Bethany House, and the cool emails started pouring in! I've begun my launch prep, including putting together a team of influencers to help me spread the word, putting up a page with extras on my website--and I also got the news that it will be made into an audio book! This is my first audio book, so that's pretty darn exciting. =) I can't wait to hear how it turns out!

I've filled my slots for those who get a complimentary book (over-filled it, actually), so I can't promise any more of those, but if you plan on purchasing one (or read it through NetGalley, where it just arrived) and would like to be on the team and help spread the word about The Lost Heiress, I'm happy to add you to my private Facebook group for influencers! There will be a special prize or two open just to my team during the month of September, and we'll be sharing ideas on where to post reviews, creative ways to spread the word, etc. Just leave a comment below with contact info, send me an email at roseanna at roseannawhite dot com, or message me on Facebook. We need to be friends there in order for me to add you to the group.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Influencer Sign-Up for The Lost Heiress!

It's that time again! I returned from my (awesome) writing retreat to an email from Bethany House saying it's time to collect influencers for The Lost Heiress. In short, this is where you sign up to get a complimentary copy of the book (it'll get to you in early September) in return for your help spreading the word. Some ideas for how to do that are included below. =)

If by chance I get too many requests, I'll pick and choose based on your ideas and/or platform for spreading the word. But they'll take quite a few of you, so I doubt that'll come up, LOL. Please fill out the form below to help keep me organized (not that I'm ever disorganized--ahem). If you have any trouble, just let me know!

(This is limited to US mailing addresses, unless you have such a great international platform that they can't turn you down---which would be the call of the publisher, not of me)

Thursday, July 9, 2015

On Retreat

I'm currently here...
The lovely 7Cs Lodge in the mountains of Western MD


with her...
Stephanie Morrill, critique partner and best friend extraordinaire


doing this...

Writing, writing, and more writing!!!!

I'll be back to blogging on Wednesday. =)

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Remember When . . . We Went Out for Tea?


I found myself in an interesting place in my story the other day. I needed my heroine to be out somewhere, away from her chaperones, where she could meet with another young lady of whom they didn't approve. It needed to be someplace public, but that wouldn't raise any eyebrows. I had a hunch that a tea room might be perfect...but I wasn't quite sure. So away I went to look it up.

What I discovered was absolutely perfect. The idea of a public tea room first gained popularity in the late Victorian age and soon became quite trendy. In London, there were a few rival establishments that were the epitome of posh--gorgeous decor, orchestras, etc. These were beautiful establishments which were perfectly acceptable places for young, unmarried ladies to go without chaperones. They would often attend their correspondence there, enjoying a few hours out and about on their own.

What's more, they were one of the first places where a young lady could work without anyone frowning about it--even well-to-do young women often took on part-time jobs at tea rooms just for a little extra spending money. I had no idea!

I discovered most of this on a fun blog called Edwardian Promenade - go take a peek if you're interested in the era!

And I know this is short, but you'll have to excuse me. I'm getting ready to leave for a writing retreat, where I will hopefully get to The End of this last Ladies of the Manor book!!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Word of the Week - Raptor

My son is 7. Which means he's obsessed with dinosaurs. Which means that he was in 7-year-old heaven when the new Jurassic World movie came out. Given that he has a really great grasp of "it's just a movie using robots and special effect"--we watched behind the scenes on the original, because he wanted to know how they made the T-Rex--we took him to the theaters to see it.

Now, "every day is velociraptor day!" around here. Rowyn has "practiced a really long time" to perfect what he calls his "raptor run." And his raptor hiss. And his raptor...everything. So naturally, he has made me look up all this stuff many, many times too. ;-)

Most recently he was wondering which word came first--velociraptor or raptor as applied to eagles, hawks, falcons, etc.

As it turns out, raptor is straight from the Latin word of the same spelling, a noun form of the verb rapere--to steal. So it's quite literally "a thief." The word entered the English language round about 1600. It wasn't, however, applied to the class of birds until 1873.

The first fossil of a velociraptor was discovered in 1923 and named in 1924; it was called "speed thief" (velocity + raptor) because scientists believed it was a very swift, if small, carnivore.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Thoughtful About . . . Where We Stand


It's nearly Independence Day here and America--a time to celebrate all we've fought to achieve. Freedom. Independence. The American Dream.

And it's been a week, hasn't it? A week of big decisions for our country with far-reaching implications. A week where all the Supreme Court justices wrote an opinion about their verdict on same-sex marriage--quite a rarity, that--and all affirmed a very important principle: that this decision could not interfere with freedom of speech and religion on the part of churches with a moral objection to said decision.

That was the silver lining. But it's a silver lining that will mean nothing if we don't exercise it. Far too often people trample the rights granted to us by the law, and we have to fight back...or we lose them.

But it applies to far more than whether we think same-sex marriage wrong. It applies to absolutely everything we believe, and everything we're willing--or not--to take a stand for. It should make us ask a very important question: if the terror and persecution Isis is bludgeoning the other side of the world with makes its way here, what do we do? If our government continues to press its heel into the spine of religion, what do we do? If leaders continue to tell us we have to change our core beliefs, what do we do?

All too often, I think we ask, "What can we do?"

So we sit. And we flip away from the news channel when it reports yet another mass-beheading in Africa or the Middle East--after all, we're so far away...what can we do?

We just shake our head when we learn of another Bible study shut down or Christian organization wrongly pursued by the IRS. After all, it's just one too-noisy group...what can we really do?

We tell ourselves that if it comes down to it, we'll take a stand. We'll fight for what's right. We won't let terror rule our lives or dictate to us. But...what can we do?

In pre-WWII Germany, there were plenty of people who saw where the tide was turning. They saw the dangers coming their way. There was one man, a pastor, who wanted to make sure his people, his country, didn't give in to this evil he felt surging--this evil that would annihilate the Jews if it could, and who was turning on Christianity too. He formed a group of fellow believers. People who claimed they would go to prison--or a concentration camp, as the case may be--rather than go silently along with the atrocities. He formed a group 10,000 strong, all pledging to stand firm.

Do you know how many followed through? Spoke up, spoke out? Went to prison for their beliefs? Three. Three. This pastor and two others.

Three.

It brings the story of Lot to mind, doesn't it? And Abraham pleading, "Oh, Lord, if there be but ten righteous men, will you spare them?"

But they just sat there. Because they were afraid.

I know that analogies involving Hitler are over-done, but I'm not really looking right now at that one evil man. I'm looking at a nation that let him have power, that went silently along with him. I'm not concerned with him--I'm concerned with them. And I'm concerned with us. Because we all say we're committed to standing against atrocities--but when it comes down to it, are we?

The numbers of martyred Christians and Jews in the last two years is absolutely staggering--yet we sit silently by, here on the other side of the world. We pray for them--which I would never belittle...but only when we think about it

The world is a scary place right now. It really is. And when a situation gets this explosive, two things can happen: either the bad guys continue to wage their war of terror and everyone else just lets them, for fear of getting killed...or people stand up, good fighting evil, and revival sweeps the globe.

We have missionary friends poised to move to Bulgaria. Their goal, on past missions trips there, was to bring faith to a people too long stripped of it by communism. When they first went to Bulgaria, they were among the first to do so after communism fell, and they found a people desperately thirsty for the Word of God. Now these same people are in an amazing position--they are poised on the very edge of east and west, with refugees fleeing Isis encamped about them. They are in position to minister themselves.

These friends recently went to a conference of like-minded ministries, and they spoke to countless people all saying the same thing: for decades we ministered to Eastern Europe, and now Eastern Europe is in a position to minister to the Middle East.

Revival is waiting. But if it sweeps across the globe, will it come here too? Or will we shut it out, flip the channel, because we don't want to hear about the horrors it has to fight against? Will we sit by while our freedoms to gather, to worship, to speak out are slowly whittled away?

We need to stop asking "What can we do?" and just stand. Vocally, firmly, without fear. Don't just give money or say a prayer once every week or two. Commit this daily to prayer. Earnestly seek God on what you can do. And then, hardest of all--be willing to do it.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Cover Design - Del Ryder and the Crystal Seed


I recently joined a fun site called 99 Designs, where the customer posts a design job to be done, and then designers can submit options. It's like a contest--dangerous for this competitive girl, LOL, but thus far it's been fun. There are all sorts of categories, but I've been focusing, of course, on book covers.

One of the first contests I entered was for a middle grade fantasy called Del Ryder and the Crystal Seed. In the story, a modern girl of about 11 years old stumbles through a portal into another world--a world where the trees are sentient and glow with an inner life. I at first decided to forgo this one--I had absolutely no history of designing fantasy covers for kids...but it kept niggling. And while I hadn't designed one before, I certainly see plenty of middle grade books these days! So I know what appeals to the readership. And then...then I found this image that was just begging to be used.

Isn't that FUN? At first I didn't know what to do with it, but then I woke up one morning seeing a tween girl peering into that circle, a glow in the middle of it, and I thought, This could work.

First I tried it with a random girl from Shutterstock. I took this girl in the yellow shirt and tweaked her a bit.



It ended up looking okay, and I submitted it, but she wasn't quite right and didn't fit perfectly. Already I had a plan, though. A plan that was confirmed when the author commented on the submission asking for a girl wearing long pants instead of shorts. My plan just had to wait another hour or two...for Xoe to wake up. ;-)

See, ever since my niece posed for a book cover for us back in 2011, Xoe has been asking the same question: "When do I get to be on a book cover you design, Mommy?" But I could only reply with, "When someone has a character who looks like you, sweetie." I just didn't know when that could be, since WhiteFire doesn't do kids' books.

But I knew the time had come. The title character in Del Ryder and the Crystal Seed, this middle grade book, is an 11-year-old girl. Kinda tomboyish, brown hair. Now, Xoe isn't 11, but another of my nieces will be in a week, and she and Xoe, standing side by side and from behind, look enough alike that I knew she could pass.

So after I'd given Xoe time to wake up, I went stealthily into her room, picked out a simple outfit of a fitted T and dark jeans, tossed them into the bathroom, and said, "Hey, sweetie, put those clothes on and then model for me. I need you for a book cover!"

I don't think I've ever seen her get dressed so fast. ;-)

Now, given the position I wanted her in, I put her in our living room, against an outcropping of white wall that she could put her hand on much like a tree trunk. I took a variety in similar positions--and Rowyn took a few too. Honestly, I would have used his if he had managed to get a full-length one--that kid's got some talent with a camera!

I decided to go with this one.


Of course, this was a photograph, and she was going onto an illustrated background, so I had some work to do.

But Photoshop had my back. I applied an Oil Painting filter, and then a surface blur, and suddenly my little girl looked illustrated too. =) Of course, then I still had some color changing. I darkened her hair to look browner.

I really like this. =) You're also seeing a glow I added to the circle, which was quite simply an off-white circle that was blurred quite a lot and whose opacity was turned down to give it that hazy-glow effect.

Now--the title. I'd downloaded a great fantasy font a while ago and was just waiting for the chance to use it. It's called Jupiter Ascending (after the movie, though I had no idea it was a movie at the time, LOL). I used that, added a nice drop-shadow, and then arched it to match the bend of the tree.

As someone with a lot of kids' books in the house, I knew how I wanted to format this title. The Del Ryder part would be larger than the rest, so that in subsequent books we could leave it as-is and just change the part following and the... I also wanted that "and the" to be in a different font that was cursive but still easy to read for those not learning cursive anymore (let's not get me started on that...). I chose the public domain Lobster for that part, and voila. The title.

Plugging that in, we get...


Leaving room, of course, for the author's name...


I wanted a fun divider between title and name, something I could use on the spine and back too. I'd already downloaded a gazillion styles of flourishes, so I went hunting and came up with one I thought would totally work for this:

I thought this appealed to the "Crystal Seed" idea, what with that diamond shape hanging down, plus it was slightly curved, which fit my overall design. I popped it in.






The author really liked this, so Xoe and I were quite stoked. =) Of course, this was a full-cover design. On the spine he wanted a tree as a kind of series badge, and I carried over the other elements as well. I loved that the circle of the tree gave me a perfect place to write back-cover copy!




The author, Matt, quite liked this but asked if we could see the shirt in different colors. Which was very easy to do...


He decided on blue...which gave us the final!


But of course, this being a contest, that wasn't the end of the process here. Xoe kept asking me how we were doing, very excited when we were named a finalist. Then over-the-moon when Matt sent a message letting us know he'd made his final choice and was going with this design. =) I only later went to his website and realized he's a pastor as well as an author--pretty funny that the first win I had on a site with all sorts of projects ended up being a Christian author, just like I'm accustomed to working with.

We ordered a paperback the day it became available on Amazon, and Xoe's reading it now--a very happy cover model indeed. ;-)