Monday, October 30, 2017

Word of the Week - Novel

I'm not sure how I've managed to go this long without featuring the most obvious word in the world as my Word of the Week ~ Novel ~ but it's high time I remedy that oversight!

We're all probably familiar with the two ways novel is used in English today--"A novel idea" and "the best sort of written work." ;-)

As it happens, that adjective use predates the noun by a good bit, coming directly from novellus, which means "new, young, recent." It appeared in English in the 1400s, with an added sense of "unique, unusual."

In the 1560s, the Italians began calling short stories ("new stories") novellas, particularly when part of a larger work--specifically given first to the stories of Boccaccio. By the 1630s, novel was being used for longer works of fiction--books which had been previously been called romances.

Which will be our Word of the Week next week. ;-)

And, in keeping with the theme, tonight I'll be chatting about books I've been reading on Facebook Live, and I'd love to hear about your recent reading list too! Novels and non-fiction suggestions alike are welcome. =) Join me on Facebook at 7 p.m. EST!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Fridays from the Archives - Soft Spots

Given that it's once again pumpkin-carving weekend upon us, I thought that today I'd re-post something from almost exactly six years ago . . . when I got a rather unpleasant surprise during my carving. Which, of course, led me to some thoughts on life and faith.

This year on Xoe's birthday, we went down to the family farm's pumpkin patch to select our pumpkins--we got orange ones in tall and then round, white ones with a ghosting of green and orange, and warty ones too. What kind of pumpkin is your favorite?

My kids love this time of year. We have Octoberfest at our family's farm (not in the German tradition, mind you), the best family reunion ever, my daughter's birthday, Halloween . . . as soon as pumpkins start appearing in the stores and on the stoops, the questions begin: "When are we getting a pumpkin? Can we carve it? What kind of face should I make this year?"

Now, belonging to a farm family, I do not buy a pumpkin, certainly not from a store. I instead pick out some from the selection my grandparents bring for the kids to the above-mentioned reunion [or venture down into the fields to choose my own]. So this year Rowyn chose a nice, round one, and Xoe one with a beautiful squiggly stem. We set them on the porch way back the week of Columbus Day.

And waited. My thought: if we carve them later, they may actually last through Halloween, and the kids are disappointed when they don't.

So on Tuesday night, we deemed it a great day to carve pumpkins. The weather was warm, we had nowhere to go . . . perfect. So the kids went out with our dry-erase markers, I with my carving knife and a few plastic bags for glop. While Xoe drew a happy face on hers and Rowyn made a few scribbles and then decided that fallen tree branch in the yard was far more interesting, I got down to business on Rowyn's pumpkin. I cut my circle in the top, pulled it up.

And went, "Ewwwwwwwwwwww!"

It was rotten inside. You know how there are supposed to be strings? Seeds? We had only mush. Orangish-brown, sloppy, stinky mush. It was seriously one of the grosses moments of my life. But my exclamation had brought the boy-o back over, and looking down into his dimpled face, those big eyes . . . yeah, I didn't have the heart to say, "Sorry, kiddo, no pumpkin for you this year."

I scooped out the foul-smelling goo. Poured it where I could. Held my breath and got rid of the rotten. I hosed it out. I bagged and double-bagged the glop and got rid of it. Then I went to work cutting away any yucky meat from inside.

At which point I noticed the soft spots. The weak spots. The spots I would have noticed from the outside had I looked for them. It hadn't occurred to me to do so, I just assumed the pumpkin was fine--but had I bothered, I would have seen the signs. I could have gotten another pumpkin beforehand. I could have spared myself some disgust, lol.

Oh-so-often I do the same thing with life. I push forward, not even considering caution. Or I ignore that soft spot I detect. It's the little things, the little warnings. Like yesterday when I handed Xoe a bowl of Spaghetti-Os and thought, "She's going to spill that." But handed it to her anyway. Thirty seconds later . . . . Or that time I looked at the bananas on the counter and thought, "I should move those so the dog doesn't get them." But the dog had never shown any interest in bananas, nor had he gotten anything off the counter. Yet when we got home that afternoon . . .

The Lord tries to show us those soft spots in life's pumpkin. He gives us the Spirit to whisper the warnings in our ear. "You had better be careful here, beloved . . . better open you eyes . . . better listen, and spare yourself some discomfort." After years and years of observing this, it's still a task to listen to that voice. To take it seriously. To trust it.

I'm in a place right now where I can see how the Lord has led me lovingly to some of the big things happening in my life. But how awesome is it that He leads us in the little things too, if we pay attention? 

Thank you, Lord for having a soft spot in Your heart for humanity, so that you can show us the soft spots in us. 

For where it makes us weak, it makes You strong.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Word of the Week - Fall, Autumn, and Harvest

Saturday as the kids and I were driving Rowyn to a birthday party, they were observing that it was way too warm for fall, and all the trees were still green . . . and Xoë then said, "I don't like that we call it fall. It should be autumn. Why did we ever start doing that?"

I knew the basics, but they didn't begin to satisfy my word-picky daughter (girl after my own heart! LOL), so since today is her birthday and this amazing girl is now 12 (should NOT be possible!), I figured I would do the word of her choice. =)

Not surprising, the primary meaning of fall--"a falling to the ground"--is as old as English itself, dating to Old English in the 1200s. The sense of "autumn" came along in the 1600s, a shortened version of the poetic "fall of the leaf," a saying that originated round about 1540. In the 1600s, fall was used for the season in England quite often--I assume those English speakers who came to America used it, and it stayed in use here while it fell out of it in England, because these days only the US uses it.

Though let it be noted that autumn isn't all that much older. Though a word in English from the late 1300s (from the French and the Latin, though its origins are a bit obscure), harvest was actually the word for the season until the 1500s, when autumn began to take over. So it appears that autumn only reigned for about a hundred years before fall entered the scene, and now both are used.

Interestingly, though words for the other seasons all seem to come from a common root across the Indo-European languages, autumn does not. There are a wide variety of words for it that have nothing in common--some that take their roots from "end, end of summer" ideas, and others from the colors that dominate the season, like red, still others with a meaning that hints at the beginning of winter.

Whatever you call the season, I hope you're enjoying it as much as my autumn-born daughter does! Happy birthday, Xoë!

Xoë at her party yesterday, in Ancient Greek style--complete with a gold laurel crown.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt Stop #3

First, I'd like to say that this is my 1500th blog post!
How cool that such a landmark falls on such a fun event!
And now, on with the show...

Welcome to the Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt! If you’ve just discovered the hunt, be sure to start at Stop #1, and collect the clues through all 25 stops, in order, so you can enter to win one of our top 3 grand prizes!

  • The hunt BEGINS with Stop #1 at LisaBergren’s site.
  • Hunt through our loop using Chrome or Firefox as your browser (not Explorer).
  • There is NO RUSH to complete the hunt—you have all weekend (until Sunday, 10/22 at midnight MST)! So take your time, reading the unique posts along the way; our hope is that you discover new authors/new books.
  • Submit your entry for the grand prizes by collecting the clue on each author’s scavenger hunt post and submitting your answer in the Rafflecopter form at Stop #25. Many authors are offering additional prizes along the way!

It’s my pleasure to introduce you today to Cara Putman! Cara was one of the first authors I met and spoke to when I joined the Christian writing scene—and she’s always been gracious, sweet, and energetic. Here’s a bit about her new release, Beyond Justice.

Hayden McCarthy knows firsthand the pain when justice is not served. It's why she became an attorney and why she's so driven in her career. When she's handed a wrongful death case against the government, she isn't sure if it's the lucky break she needs to secure a partnership—or an attempt to make sure she never gets there. She keeps the case alive through sheer determination and more than a little creativity, but then she's fired by a partner with a vendetta.

And now here's Cara!

Why Relationships Matter in Our Novels

This summer I had the opportunity to serve on a panel at a readers conference. Let’s just say the topic was way outside my comfort zone, and as my fellow panelists talked about positions, I talked about relationships. That experience reinforced to me the importance of having real relationships in our novels. As an avid reader, I know it’s often the characters that stay with me long after I close the book, not the intricate plots we spend so much time crafting.

That’s one reason I’ve spent so much time in my new series Hidden Justice, creating a web of characters that overlay each of the stories. Take a group of young women who became close in law school. Put them each in a different area of the law confronting different issues. Require them to lean on each other for friendship, help, and faith. Mix in some heroes and you have the ingredients for these books.

Typing the list, you’d think it didn't take me long to develop the idea. The reality is it took months of thinking. First I needed the group of women. I wanted them each to be unique and different. Then I needed jobs that weren’t cookie cutter. Fortunately, the law is a field that allows you to take on many different roles, so that will keep me and readers from getting bored. What I found interesting was how hard the heroes were to craft.

Yes, the heroes.

When I started writing Imperfect Justice, the book that releases in December, I realized I’d poured my effort in Beyond Justice into developing the relationship between the women. Readers love that, but it left Emilie woefully lacking of a potential hero. Shouldn’t be a problem to craft the perfect guy for her, right?


Emilie demanded a hero who strong, but I didn’t want a law enforcement hero, at least not yet. I’d asked my readers and they were looking for what I wanted to write: a hero who looked a lot like their husbands: an average guy living a big life. In many ways, I’d had years to develop Hayden’s hero Andrew Wesley, because I’d fleshed them out for an earlier proposal. But Emilie’s? Not a clue.

This conundrum reinforced the importance of having the right people in place for relationships. So whether it’s a group of girlfriends or it’s developing the perfect hero and heroine, I’ve learned the relationships are the heart of the story.


Cara Putman is the author of over 25 books in WWII and romantic suspense genres. She lives in Indiana with her family, but spends most of her free time thinking about her characters and dreaming up trouble for them. For more info, see

Be sure to pop by Cara’s post where she is giving away a set of the Hidden Justice series!

Here’s the Stop #3 Skinny:

You can order Cara’s book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, CBD or at your local bookstore! 

Clue to Write Down: that

Link to Stop #4, the Next Stop on the Loop: Cara Putman’s own site!


Before you go, I'm offering a giveaway! If you've already read about the library at Kensey Manor on Robin Lee Hatcher's site, then you'll know that libraries are a big theme in A Name Unknown. And they're the theme in this giveaway too!

I'll be offering one lucky winner with a US mailing address a signed copy of my novel PLUS a library card tote bag!  
  a Rafflecopter giveaway