Monday, July 30, 2018

Word of the Week - Season


Before bed one night, while we were waiting for his sister to finish washing her face and brushing her teeth, my son and I were coming up with silly reasons for each season's name.

It began with the easy-to-determine fall. "Hey!" Rowyn said, "I bet it's because of when the leaves fall." I assured him that was, indeed, the reason. "Then what about winter?" he asked.

I thought for a moment, and then said, "Because that's when all the leaves already wint."

He laughed at my deliberate mispronunciation of went and said, "So how about spring?"

Another real answer. "It's when new life springs forth. But for summer...?"

Rowyn thought for a little while then said, "I know! It's when the school year is all summed up."

Aren't we just the cleverest things. 😉 I've already looked into the real etymologies of pretty much all those season words, but it occurs to me that I've never looked up season itself! So a quick lesson.

The English word (which has been in use since English itself originated, in the 13th century) comes directly from the French saison, which means exactly what the English does--"a period of the year; the appropriate time." But if you trace saison back, it comes in fact from the Latin sationem, which literally means, "to sow, to plant." In the days of Vulgar Latin, the word was used most often to indicate spring, when said sowing and planting was done. It was the French who broadened it to mean any season, and we of course borrowed that from them.

I hope you're enjoying your summer season!


Friday, July 27, 2018

Fridays from the Archives - Being Who We Are


Being ourselves can be a daunting and overwhelming task at times. But as this quote from my fellow author, Kristi Ann Hunter encourages us, God created us the way we are, embrace it!


Original post published 8/29/13

A while back on another blog, I read a post about how, if we're honest, we all have the reader-we-wish-we-were and the reader-we-really-are. Like, we might want to think we're going to read some scholarly, high falutin piece of literature for pure fun one summer...but when it comes down to it, we opt for the romance novel with the pretty gown on the front instead. I really appreciated the thoughts the blogger put forth, because I have totally done that.


It's a thought that stuck with me, and which translates to a lot more than my reading pile. Because it's tough sometimes. We should own who we are...yet be improving. We should be happy in our skin...but want to be healthier, in better shape. We should take pride in our work...but not be too proud to take advice.

The more I think on these things, the more I think that finding a balance for each of those circumstances is what helps me discover who I really am. Years ago, I posted about how, when I spend time with some of my best friends, I sometimes come away thinking, "Why am I not like them?" I don't make food from scratch much anymore. I don't sew my own clothes. I don't debate the morality of one brand over another. Should I? Well, hearing their philosophies, I often think I should. But if I give my attention to that...

And one of those friends replied to that blog saying how she leaves those same visits wishing she could develop stories that others want to read, wishing she could be confident in her clothing choices without getting hung up on the "why" of things, wishing she could be the kind of person to express those very doubts with eloquence.

We all have those I wish I were... moments. We all look at the way our friends parent, dress, exercise, cook, write, read, worship, or [fill in the blank] and think, "I need to be more like them." But how often are they looking right back at us and thinking the same?

Sometimes this makes me laugh. Sometimes it makes me shake my head. And always it makes me pause and think. Because I can't be Kimberly or Karlene or Stephanie or Jennifer or Paige or Erin. I can't be Francine Rivers or Ted Dekker or Laurie Alice Eakes or MaryLu Tyndall or Julie Lessman. I can't be the college professors who sat around thinking about Aristotle for fun.

There are things I wish I could improve about myself, especially when I reflect on these people I so love. I wish I were more proactive about my homeschooling choices. I wish I were more educated on the medical choices available to us. I wish I knew (and cared) what was in my food. I wish I studied the changing tides of the industry to which I belong. I wish I kept my house clean. I wish I always answered my kids with patience. I wish I could organize my time.

And it's so incredibly weird to me to be talking to a friend and hear her say, "I just keep telling myself, 'You need to be more like Roseanna. Keep your cool.' You're the most laid-back person I know, and I need that."

wha...?

LOL.


What I take from that is that we need to learn from each other, yes. We need to grow. We need to stretch ourselves out toward knowledge, as Aristotle would say, and come to a better understanding of our worlds.

But we also need to recognize that we can only do what we can do. We can only be who we can be. We only have so much attention, so many hours, so many days. How do we really want to spend them?

For me, it comes down to this. If I have to decide between working out and writing, I'm going to choose writing. But if I can combine working out with brainstorming...well, that's awesome! So rather than doing videos that demand my full attention, I've been walking. It gives me much-needed time to think in peace, and that makes my writing time fruitful.

If I have to decide between keeping my house clean and spending extra time on fun lessons with my kids, I'm going to choose my kids. Because sometimes it seems like if I spend my whole day teaching the must-dos, then the following hours cleaning up, I never get to hug them. Never get to cuddle. Never get to put puzzles together and build Lego tractors. So I prioritize. The kitchen must be cleaned, the toys have to be put away. But I'm not going to fret over every stray piece of paper.

The list goes on. Will I ever reach a place where I'm not frustrated day-to-day with some little thing? Where I don't look at the awesome people God has put around me and aspire to be like them in some way? I seriously doubt it. Because I'm aware of my own faults, and it's good that I want to improve them.

But I'm also aware of who I am and what's important to me. And I have to be careful that I don't get so hung up in bettering one aspect of myself that I neglect another. I have to be, above all, who I am.


Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Secrets of Wayfarers Inn - A Guidepost Series


If you follow me on social media, you may have seen comments about a series of books that I am working on with Guidepost. This has been a fun and exciting opportunity for me, and I wanted to share a little more about these books with you. Secrets of Wayfarers Inn is a series published by Guidepost (and therefore ONLY available from them directly) and consists of myself and nine other authors. The first 2 books in the series are now available and MY first book in the series will be releasing in September. You can find purchase info HERE.

About Secrets of Wayfarers Inn

On the banks of the Ohio River, in the historic town of Marietta, Ohio, a trio of good friends stumbles across an empty historic waterfront stone building while house hunting. Next to a Realtor’s "For Sale" sign, an aging bronze plaque on the doorpost marks the building as once being a pre-Civil-War stop on the Underground Railroad. The four-story building, originally built as a hotel, was most recently used as a warehouse for goods arriving via river barges, but it has sat empty for the past decade. On a whim, LuAnn Sherrill, Tess Wallace, and Janice Eastman start to think of what a beautiful bed-and-breakfast this could be. When all is said and done, these three friends are the proud co-owners of the neglected but elegant structure, which they plan to renovate and open as a café and B&B known as Wayfarers Inn. While remodeling, they come across hidden passages, filled with secrets and surprises of all sorts, which set them on a course to solving mysteries.
As the trio of friends are drawn further and further into the mysteries of the inn and the town of Marietta, with its intriguing antebellum heritage, each one finds her own personal faith enriched—in both God and humankind.

Treat yourself to Guideposts’ newest Christian Mystery series, Secrets of Wayfarers Inn, where pre-Civil War mysteries abound in these cozy fiction books about faith and friendship.

Contemporary:

When retired school teachers LuAnn Sherrill, Tessa Wallace, and Janice Eastman, decide to buy an inn built in 1851 and turn it into a café and bed and breakfast, someone is not happy. Strange things begin to happen in the building—handprints on a dusty mirror, a missing wallet—and who owns the gold earring? Realtor Bradley Grimes is helping them unravel the mystery when he finds one of his own. In a ledger from the 1800s he finds the name of his great-great-grandfather, Howard Bickerton, the man he’d always thought of as a hero in the Underground Railroad. But was he?

Historical:
Prudence Willard, a farmer’s wife and conductor on the Underground Railroad, faces danger on a regular basis, but nothing is quite as frightening as witnessing what happened to Howard Bickerton—and keeping the knowledge to herself. Should she report Bickerton’s death and the man who assumed his identity, or remain quiet for the sake of the Cause?

Series Authors: 

Enjoy each book in this series written by some of your favorite authors: Becky Melby, Kathleen Y’Barbo, Tracey Bateman, Roseanna White, Ellen Kennedy, Beth Adams, Virginia (Ginny) Smith, Kim Vogel Sawyer, Janice Hanna Thompson, and Ocieanna Fleiss.


Friday, July 20, 2018

Fridays from the Archives - Reading as an Editor



It's good to have a reminder like this. Are there things in your life that you have a hard time relinquishing control of? 

Original post published 8/28/14

I admit it--I don't read for pleasure as much as I used to. Mostly because during the school year, I spend so many hours a day reading to my kids, writing, and editing that by the end of the day, my eyes and brain say, "Nope, we're done. Stare at the television or go to sleep. Those are your choices."

But there's another reason. It's because I've trained myself so much to be an editor that I can't read a book without noting what I'd ask the author to change...and that gets really, really annoying when I'm just reading for fun, LOL.

Now, the mark of a truly excellent book is when the "editor" switches off, or at least finds nothing to whine about. That happens, and I love it when it does. But other times...yeah. I recently read a dystopian where the character at one point mentions that in her town, there's no music. She barely has a concept of what it is. Then a few scenes later, she likens someone's breathing to a concertina. Um, no. If you don't know what music is, you aren't going to think in terms of instruments. Sorry. A first-person book that suddenly goes out of POV and tells me what another character is thinking? Shudder. And that historical full of inaccuracies? Ouch.

I guess it's kinda like a doctor watching a medical show. Or someone in law enforcement watching CSI. They're going to notice the faults, the things the show gets wrong, and it's going to ruin it for them. Sadly, that's how some books are for me these days. It's one thing to notice all the typos, which I've always done. But these days, it's so much more than that.

But then it makes me wonder.

How can God stand to watch us?? LOL. I mean, He's got it all right. He knows what He's doing. He knows the right thing, the wrong thing, the so-so things we could do in each moment, and He sees how often we go the wrong way. How often we miss the mark.

And I can imagine Him in heaven, with his metaphorical red pen, saying, "You know, if you'd just let me give you some advice right here..."

But here's another thing I've learned about editors--you have to let them give you advice. Freelancers you hire, and you can totally choose whether to take their advice or ignore them. When you've signed a contract with a publishing house, you kinda have to listen to what they say. Kinda. But you might be surprised at how many authors refuse, and take the cancellation of their contract over giving over control of their story.

What about in our lives? Do we give over control to Him? He, who is the ultimate author? The ultimate editor? Who understands far better than we do where the plots of our lives are going? Who knows what's relevant and what isn't? Where our focus should be?


Lord, be my editor. Catch all my errors and help me correct them. Cut out all that fluff I don't need in my life. Keep my words tight and true to You. Lord, be my editor...and help me to take Your perfect advice.



Thursday, July 19, 2018

Thoughtful About . . . The Enemy


For my daily study each morning, I've been reading through a chronological Bible called So That's Why Bible. I love the history and context this Bible gives me--I've never been a huge fan of the "application" style notes in a study Bible, but I've always loved the historical notes (you're shocked, right? LOL) so this Bible is right up my alley.

My readings last week took me through the end of King David's reign. First the account in Samuel and then in Chronicles. The historians who put this Bible together had already pointed out that the prophetic account of Samuel and the historical account of Chronicles tell of the same events in very different lights--namely, that Chronicles never sheds a bad (or realistic) light on David, only noting his victories and good qualities.

This came into sharp focus in comparing 2 Samuel 24 and I Chronicles 21--when David orders a census of Israel. Both agree that this was a big deal and a big mistake, and that it resulted in a plague sent by God that destroyed 70,000 Israelites before the Lord relents.

But in 2 Samuel, it says, "Again the anger of the Lord was aroused against Israel, and He moved David against them to say, 'Go, number Israel and Judah.'" Contrast that with I Chronicles 21:1. "Now Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel."

Whoa. God...or Satan? Which one moved David to do this? That seems like a pretty big difference, right? And quite a contradiction.

I brought this up with my husband the other day, and then shared another interesting historical note from these commentators. That the notion of Satan has changed over the centuries. In the earliest Jewish writings, Satan wasn't written as a figure of evil. He was more what we'd consider a prosecutor in a legal setting. He's the one against us, the defendant, but he's not necessarily evil. He's an adversary in a legal or even political sense. But the only times we see Satan mentioned in the Old Testament are:

Here in Chronicles. In Job, where God and Satan are discussing Job and Satan is given leave to test him, and then in Zecharaiah, where again Satan is present in the throne room of God, opposing the high priest. The evil force we associate with Satan--which we in fact put on the serpent in Genesis, though it never names him as such--isn't present in those early histories.

Where and when did that understanding come in? According to these historians, not until the Babylonian exile. While in Persia, they would have been rubbing elbows with worshipers of Zoroastrianism. I wrote about this in Jewel of Persia, so I perked up when I read that, LOL. In this monotheistic religion, there are two opposing forces. Ahura Mazda, who represents all good. And Angra Mainu, who is all evil. Both have a host of deities equivalent to angels and demons on their side, and they are constantly at war. Humans must decide which side they're on, which battle they'll fight, and it is a matter of human decisions which one will ultimately win. In this system, Ahura Mazda and Angra Mainu are equals. Diametrically opposed, but by nature equal.

You can certainly see some similarities between their religion and Judeo-Christian beliefs, right? But I'd never really paused to realize that this idea of Satan as evil wasn't even present in Judaism before that. Satan was an enemy, yes. Like a lawyer on the opposite side of a case is an enemy--that doesn't make him by nature evil. I'd never realized that this could have come in part from Persian beliefs.

Of course, I'm not trying to answer the question of whether that was when they realized the truth of the matter or what. Historically, it's just an interesting note. And as my husband pointed out, it actually answers my question of "Don't those passages contradict?" with the Samuel and Chronicles accounts of the census.

Before the idea of Satan being the ultimate evil, he was mostly just depicted as a tool--a necessary part of divine justice. The one to accuse mankind. In this way, it's not so contradictory, is it? God was angry with Israel, so he stirred David against them...how? Perhaps by using Satan to do it? It's an interesting question, anyway.

I'm not pretending to have uncovered any profound answers here, but I do love viewing the Bible through a historical context and seeing what new things I discover!

Have you ever noticed the differences in those accounts before? Or wondered at how Satan is mentioned in the old books of the OT? What's your understanding?


Thursday, July 12, 2018

Summer Reading - Swoons & Giggles


Today's Summer Reads Recommendations are all about Swoons and Giggles! These authors have managed to balance the beauty of ROMANCE with the release that LAUGHTER gives. So if you are looking for an amazing book to read this summer that is on the lighter side, check out these books!

Click the images below to be taken to the book's Goodreads page for more information.

Jen Turano

Any book you pick up by Jen Turano is bound to leave you in stitches. A unique voice and engaging characters, you won't want to miss her newest series!

Free Novella

    



A USA Today Best-Selling Author, Jen Turano has written the critically acclaimed Ladies of Distinction series, and A Class of Their Own series, published through Bethany House Publishers. Her novel, After a Fashion, was chosen as a top pick from Romantic Times, as well as being named a top ten romance of 2015 from Booklist. It is also a nominee for Romantic Times 2015 Reviewers’ Choice Award. Her book, A Most Peculiar Circumstance, was chosen as a top ten romance by Booklist in 2013. Her seventh book, Playing the Part, released in the spring of 2016, and will be followed by a new four-book series, Apart from the Crowd. When she’s not writing, Jen spends her time outside of Denver with her husband and neurotic Cattle Dog, enjoying herself as an empty-nester since her son recently abandoned her for the college life.



Mary Connealy

Who else can take cowboys (and cowgirls) mix in some comedy and add several helpings of romance? Mary Connealy has masted (and quite possibly created) the genre of Romantic Comedy Westerns...

    


Mary Connealy writes romantic comedy with cowboys always with a strong suspense thread. She is a two time Carol Award winner and a Rita, Christy and Inspirational Reader's Choice finalist. 

She is the bestselling author of 48 books and novellas. 

Her most recent book series are: Cimarron Legacy, Wild at Heart, Trouble in Texas, Kincaid Bride for Bethany House Publishing. She’s also written four other series for Barbour Publishing and many novellas and several stand-alone books for multiple publishers. 

Mary will be a published author for ten years in 2017 with nearly a million books in print. She has a degree in broadcast communications with an emphasis in journalism and has worked at her local newspaper.


Pepper Basham

Known for her swoony romance and #closetkisses, Pepper Basham is fabulous at intertwining humor and grace in her stories. You won't want to miss these Romantic Comedies.

    

Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes novels inspired by her love for history and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Her Penned in Time series has garnered recognition in the INSPYs, Grace Awards, and the ACFW Carol Awards. Her contemporary romance novel, A Twist of Faith, received 4-stars from Romantic Times, and most recently, her newest release, Just the Way You Are, received a Top Pick from RT with 4 ½ stars. Her newest contemporary romance, When You Look at Me, releases Fall 2018. 




Giveaway!

To kickstart your summer reading plans...I am hosting a THREE BOOK GIVEAWAY! 1 (One) winner will receive a print copy of The Accidental Guardian by Mary Connealy, Caught by Surprise by Jen Turano, and Just the Way You Are by Pepper Basham. Open to US mailing addresses only, please. Void where prohibited. Giveaway closes 7/18/18 11:59pm EDT. Please enter via the Rafflecopter form below.



*My thanks to Pepper Basham and Bethany House Publishing for providing the giveaway copies.

So what will YOU be reading this summer?


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Remember When . . . Watches Appeared on the Wrist - Part II



Last week I started telling you about Hans Wilsdorf and the founding of Rolex. It was getting a bit long, so I figured I'd better break it up into two posts. 😉 As a quick reminder, I'd told you a bit about Hans's early days and his determination to create a great wrist watch (called "wristlets" at the time) and then make his company name, Rolex, be the one people came to associate with the quality watches he produced.

But if you were paying attention to the years I mentioned, you'll have known that things were about to change for Hans. The Great War was coming. And though he'd become an English citizen when he married his wife, Florence, no one really cared about that.

He was German. He spoke with an accent. He had a clearly German last name.

Life became not so easy for the Wilsdorfs in London. He and Florence were both harassed whenever they went out in public. And to make matters worse, a new customs duty was put into place--33.5%. And for a business that was almost exclusively exported, this could easily spell The End.

The Wilsdorfs didn't have much choice. They packed up and moved to Bienne, Switzerland, for the duration of the war. Rolex already had a branch there, so they moved all operations out of England and continued to produce the watches quickly gaining a reputation for excellence.

But though the war forced them from their home, it also helped create a market for the wristlet. Timing was crucial in military operations, and having a reliable timepiece was essential. The few soldiers who went to war with wristlets soon proved how practical they were. Pocket watches were generally worn in a jacket pocket, which was then under an overcoat in the winter months. To check the time, soldiers would have to take off their gloves, open their overcoat, and dig it out of their undercoat. Compare that to just raising your wrist, and you can see why the men who had wristlets found them so much better an option. After the war ended, the popularity of the wrist watch surged.

And at the front of the wave was Rolex.

But Wilsdorf wasn't about riding a wave. He was about innovation--and marketing savvy. His next goal was to create a waterproof watch, which he achieved in 1926. The Oyster. But water had long been known as the enemy of a watch, so he had his work cut out for him, convincing the public that his Oyster really could keep running, even when wet. One boon came when a swimmer swam the English Channel, wearing one. They were already getting publicity for their feat, and Rolex got a bit too.

But that wasn't quite enough. So Wilsdorf came up with an ongoing publicity stunt. Shops that sold Rolexes were outfitted with aquariums, in which hung an Oyster, keeping perfect time despite being continually submerged.

It worked. By the time World War II rolled around, Rolex was well known around the world as being the best watch to be had. The most reliable. A byword for quality and luxury.

Now, though he was German by birth, Hans was firmly on the Allied side of both World Wars. And when he heard that Allied soldiers in the Second World War were stripped of their Rolexes when they were taken prisoner, he publicly swore that Rolex would replace any Allied soldier's watch that was stolen. And he kept his word. This story exemplifies just one of the many ways that Hans made Rolex a company with heart, not just monetary success.

LEARN MORE
So how does all this work its way into my book? Well, all of it obviously doesn't. But I'd looked up the history of Rolex out of curiosity when I realized I would have a clockmaker for a central character in An Hour Unspent, figuring the company was forming around the same time as my story. When I realized how well it actually lined up with my timeline, I decided to give Hans Wilsdorf a cameo appearance. He actually ended up presenting a plot point that was rather crucial...but of course, I'm not going to tell you what that was. ;-) Just that I had oh so much fun writing it!

And I also just want to say that the more I learned about Wilsdorf and the company he built, the more I admired him and Rolex. They aren't just glitzy watches for the rich, status symbols. They're undeniable quality built on innovation and popularity gained through determination and marketing brilliance. You just have to admire that.


Monday, July 9, 2018

Word of the Week - Slang



Slang. Something we all know. And probably use. "Informal language." Those words not accepted as proper but not bad. That informal language is in fact usually "characterized by vividness and novelty."

Mostly, the word hasn't changed that much...but it's broadened. And is, in fact, itself nearly impossible to trace the etymology of. Various experts have posited various theories, but none can be proven and said experts can't seem to agree with each other. It might have Scandinavian roots...or French ones...or something else entirely.

What we know is that its first uses were very specific. In 1756 we have a record of it appearing to mean "the specific vocabulary that thieves use." By 1801 it was the terminology specific to any particular field. But the definition we know now was only a few years behind, having been firmly established by 1818.

So we might not know where it comes from. But we certainly know where it's been. ;-) And because I have a strange household, my children will occasionally actually argue about whether a word is slang or "accepted."

Was "slang" acceptable in your family or school growing up?