Monday, January 22, 2018

Word of the Week - Recipe and Receipt

I'd noticed when reading historical work--either original or fiction--that recipe and receipt were often used in ways that we today would deem, well, flipped. But I'd never really paused to look it up.

I'm glad I just did, because I learned something!

We'll start with recipe. Coming from the Latin word of the same spelling, which means "Take!" (a command), it came into English in 1580 as the word for "a medical prescription." Literally, what the doctor was ordering you to take. (Who knew?!) This is (what I learned today) where the abbreviation Rx comes from. It took on a figurative sense ("recipe for disaster" etc) round about 1640. So when, you may be asking, did it come to mean "instructions for preparing food"? Not until 1743! I had no idea our primary meaning of the word is so relatively new!

So what did people call those instructions for food prep before they called it a recipe? Receipt. This word, borrowed from Old North French, has been in use in this way since the 1300s. It's literally "a statement of ingredients in a potion or medicine." As "a written acknowledgment of goods received," it dates from 1600ish.

Any recipes you've been dying to try, or a favorite you'd like to share? I'm going to be hunting up the ingredients to make this chili con carne one of these days... And if you're in the mood for some utterly scrumptious, light and fluffy and a-mazing homemade dinner rolls, this is the only recipe you'll ever need...

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Thoughtful About . . . Heroes

Whenever I have a new book release, there's always that anxiety about how readers will connect with my characters. Oh, I've had some input by this time. Critique partners, beta readers, editors. And they all have their unique opinions. Their perspectives.

As I've been enjoying the feedback of my early readers of A Song Unheard, I've found it especially fun to see how readers are responding to my hero--especially as contrasted with the first hero in the series, Peter. Peter was awkward socially, Lukas is at home in society and a bit of a rake. Peter stammers. Lukas is silver-tongued. Peter is a man of prayer and consideration. Lukas is a man just beginning to realize that his mother was right, and seeking nothing but his own pleasure will leave him empty.

I loved creating both of these heroes. All of my heroes. They're each unique, different. And yes, I love it when people call them swoon-worthy. I've given that title to some heroes in my favorite books as well.

I've noticed lately that the term "book boyfriend" has been floating around, and that always makes me giggle. I personally won't ever call a hero that--I'm married, thank you very much, and won't have any boyfriends, be they real or imaginary. ;-) But that, in turn, has made me ponder what it is we love so much about a good hero. And why we sometimes wish they were real.

I'm going to start by saying that bits and pieces of my husband work their way into each and every hero I write. Maybe it's his wit in one. His eyes in another. Maybe it's his way of questioning everything. Or of loving me so wholly. Maybe the way he looks at me. Or the way he supports my every dream.

My husband isn't perfect. He's the first to admit it. We have our moments of frustration, of course, but when I look at this man living life with me, I know God blessed me beyond measure. And I consider it an honor to demonstrate in my books that a real hero isn't necessarily a muscle-bound hunk that can make women fall at his feet with a mere flex of his biceps. (Not that I have anything against muscles, mind you.)

A real hero is a man who knows, or discovers, that love makes him stronger.

A real hero is a man who listens to and leans on the Lord.

A real hero is a man who will make a sacrifice, not to gain glory, but to protect those he loves.

A real hero is a man who pairs duty with honor, diligence, and passion.

A real hero is a man who can be vulnerable.

I've written a lot of heroes who aren't the typical hero. Some who might even be called anti-heroes. I've had a few action-type ones, a few too-handsome ones, plenty of should-be-average ones. But they each become more than ordinary in the pages of a book, and that's because...

A real hero answers the call of the Lord.

That's usually what we see them doing in one of my novels, and in the Christian romances I so adore. They're just ordinary men, living often ordinary lives, but living them in an extraordinary way.

And that, in my opinion, is what makes us love them...just as it's what makes us love these wonderful, flawed men in our lives.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Remember When . . . We Traveled?

We live in a pretty amazing time, don't we? When traveling has become fairly easy and affordable. One can get from the east coast of America to Europe for just a couple hundred bucks (if one is willing to travel light and compromise on leg room...). We can travel from state to state by highway, train, or plane. The world is there, waiting to be experienced, and few people today will face the reality of most people two hundred years ago--to never go more than 20 miles from home.

Over the weekend, my family and I sat down and wrote out a list of places we'd like to go and things we'd like to see. Some of them are pretty simple and easily done--the Smithsonian, the Pittsburgh zoo again, that sort of thing.

Then there are those entries that say things like the Maldives. Or Padagonia. Not quite so easily accomplished, hence the need for a list and planning to see which we might actually get to some day.

I have characters, of course, who have traveled farther than I ever have. And others who have never really strayed from their own neighborhood. Travel, and its progress, has played a part in many of my stories, and I remember the elation of realizing in Circle of Spies that there were trains now! And telegraphs! People and news could move so much faster! LOL

As my family dreams about our someday-travels, I'd love to know what's on YOUR list! Where have you gone that you loved, either domestically or abroad? What's on your list of places you would love to see someday? Please share!

Monday, January 15, 2018

Word of the Week - Drapes

Yet another Word of the Week inspired by my weekend activities. ;-) I confess: I'm not a decorator. Most of the decorations in my house are books, LOL. (The best decorations, if I do say so myself.) Things like curtains...meh. I've put them up in most rooms, simply to block the light when necessary, but I'd never bothered in my kitchen. I don't know. I just...didn't.

But upon taking down the lovely garland I'd strung over my windows at Christmas, they looked so bare. So I decided, "It's time to get curtains." Or, upon looking up what I actually wanted, make them.

Of course, making curtains reminds me of one of the frequent goofs I've made in my British-set books: referring to those window-hangings as drapes. Apparently they don't ever call them that in the UK. So it's high time I look it up, right!

While doesn't denote drapes as being an American usage, it is rather recent. Though the verb, "to hang with fabric," is from the 1400s, it didn't turn into a noun at all until  the 1660s, and it didn't at that point have the particular meaning of "curtain." That didn't come about--pluralized, drapes, not just drape--until 1895. It's a direct derivation--the draping of fabric over windows, and drapery is a similar derivation--so logical. But apparently not universal. ;-)

I just finished sewing my cheerful calico curtains, now draped over my windows. How about you? What kind of drapery do you fancy as window treatments, or do you like bare panes of glass?

And since everyone keeps asking in the comments, I'm adding a photo of my newly-stitched curtains...

Monday, January 8, 2018

Word of the Week - Those Hats...

Last week, my friend Rachel McMillan (of Toronto) asked on Facebook what the different American regions called a certain type of hat. You know, that basic knit hat for the winter. There, she said, they universally called it a toque. Other answers included "winter hat, knit cap, ski hat, beanie, tam, stocking hat..." The list went on and on.

But given that I'm currently knitting one for my husband (the pattern is called, "A Very Plain Hat," LOL), I was thinking of it again and thought it would be fun to feature.

In my area, I grew up hearing them called toboggans. Like the sled. Upon looking it up, I learned that the word dates from 1829, meaning a flat-bottomed sled. Around 100 years later, in the late 1920s, it began being applied (regionally in America) to the knit hats one wore when tobogganing. (I guess that region includes my own...)

Toque, coming from French, is not surprisingly common in Canada. As a word for "a round hat," it dates to the 1500s. It comes from the Spanish word for "a woman's headdress," which may have in turn come from the Arabic word for "shawl."

Beanie dates from the 1940s and might be the funniest of the words--it's from the slang sense of bean, meaning "head." (For some reason, I always think of a beanie as one of the bowl-shaped hats with a little propeller on top. I wonder what TV show I have to thank for that? LOL)

Tam is short for tam-o'-shanter, a type of hat from the 1840s used by Scottish plowmen. The name comes from the hero of Robert Burns poem (Tom of Shanter) of the same name, published in 1790. This type of woolen hat became fashionable for women in the 1880s as well.

So there we go. Whatever we call it, I know many of them have been worn during this awful arctic blast! If you're anything like me, you're pretty excited to see warmer temps in this week's forecast!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The Lost Heiress is FREE!

Well here's some exciting news! For the first time in history, one of my full-length novels is available for FREE! The Lost Heiress e-book can be downloaded at no cost from any of your favorite retailers that carry it. This deal will last through January and February, so grab it for yourself and please share!

If you haven't read The Lost Heiress yet, it's a book that's very special to me. When I was 12, I decided I would complete a novel. I finished my manuscript a year later, and that story (after many revisions, LOL) eventually became The Lost Heiress. The kernel of the idea is the same, as are the two main characters. Other than few things got changed over the years, LOL. But this story--oh, gracious, this story. Brook and Justin traveled with me for 20 years before it was finally accepted for publication, and I love that this is the book that Bethany House pours their promotional efforts into!

Official description and links:

Brook Eden has never known where she truly belongs. Though raised in the palace of Monaco, she's British by birth and was brought to the Grimaldis under suspicious circumstances as a babe. When Brook's friend Justin uncovers the fact that Brook is likely a missing heiress from Yorkshire, Brook leaves the sun of the Mediterranean to travel to the moors of the North Sea to the estate of her supposed family.

The mystery of her mother's death haunts her, and though her father is quick to accept her, the rest of the family and the servants of Whitby Park are not. Only when Brook's life is threatened do they draw close--but their loyalty may come too late to save Brook from the same threat that led to tragedy for her mother.

As heir to a dukedom, Justin is no stranger to balancing responsibilities. When the matters of his estate force him far from Brook, the distance between them reveals that what began as friendship has grown into something much more. But how can their very different loyalties and responsibilities ever come together?

And then, for a second time, the heiress of Whitby Park is stolen away because of
the very rare treasure in her possession--and this time only the servants of Whitby can save her.

D O W N L O A D   L I N K S

S E R I E S    S A L E 

And my other Bethany House titles' digital books are on sale too!
Grab them each for $6.99 or less!
(Sale prices take longer to process on some sites so may not be reflected yet)

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Willa's Song Giveaway

J a n u a r y   2  -  J a n u a r y   1 6

It's release day for A Song Unheard! And we all know what that means around here. Time for a giveaway!

I had fun pondering what gifts to offer with this one, and I hope you guys enjoy what I found! So without further ado, allow me to present Willa's Song Giveaway, including:

  • A signed copy of A Song Unheard, for obvious reasons ;-)
  • A paperback copy of Agatha Christie's first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, featuring her detective who is a Belgian refugee--one of the only lasting reminders that England had once been filled with them.
  • Magnetic book marks with music notes and clefs, for marking your pages in those books
  • A violin puzzle box, with a small opening for your treasures (be they a cypher key or, you know, something more ordinary like...
  • A sterling silver treble clef necklace, for you or another music lover in your life
  • A music-themed journal so can write down all your symphonic thoughts (pages have a faint treble clef as well as standard lines)
  • A music-themed ceramic travel mug

One grand prize winner with a U.S. address will receive all those prizes! But wait (ahem), there's more! ;-)

For one Second Place winner (open to international residents as well!), I'm also giving away a $25 gift card to iTunes or Amazon, so you can stock up on the music of your choice! (Okay, so there's no way to designate them for music, but you know. For the purposes of this giveaway, that's what I'm going to say you should spend it on. Though if you'd rather buy books, who am I to complain? LOL)

Have you seen the book trailer yet?

You can watch this beautiful (1 minute long) glimpse into the story, narrated by my English friend Elizabeth and featuring the original composition "Willa's Song" written by Jessica Brand and performed on the violin by Taylor Bennett right here! (It'll get you an extra entry into the giveaway too!)

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