Monday, April 29, 2019

Word of the Week - Opportunity

This is one I've never thought to look up the meaning of before! But it appeared in my son's vocabulary book, so I'll happily soak up the knowledge. ;-)

Opportunity comes to us via French, directly from Latin. It means, in all those languages "fitness, convenience, suitableness, favorable time." But what I didn't realize was that it's actually a combination of three Latin words: ob portum veniens. Literally, "coming toward a port."

According to the vocab book, sailors identified "coming toward a port" as when they'd have the chance/time/be able to do the things they couldn't do at sea. It may also have to do with the fact that they had to await the tides and weather to be able to come into port, so that "favorable" circumstance was kind of built into it already.

Who knew it was so nautical?

Friday, April 26, 2019

What We've Been Reading - April 2019

My fantabulous assistant, Rachel, and I have decided to introduce a new monthly post! Pretty simple in concept, and something we've certainly done before...just not regularly.

So the last Friday of each month, we'll be talking about...

And as there's no time like the present to begin, let's get sharing!

We'd love to hear what YOU'VE been reading this month too!!!

Roseanna's Reads


This is a really great non-fiction book that I'd seen recommended, and I knew it would give me an interesting perspective on the years surrounding the Great War. Which it has! Though C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien have been written about plenty, and World War I has as well, this book takes a unique perspective on the topics, talking about how the war instilled in these great writers an appreciation for nobility and the heroic quest of old, and also the need for faith--something most of their generation deemed impossible after the horrors of war. A very interesting historical perspective on two of the 20th century's greatest writers, and one that inspired me to go on a Lewis and Tolkien kick! 😉

Which led me to...

I can't believe I've never read this before! I'd actually bought the paperback about two years ago...and then gave it to my dad for his birthday, LOL, so I still hadn't read it. But while listening to Loconte's book, I really wanted to, so it was a happy coincidence when the book I'd put on hold at the library was finally available for me. =)

My commentary on this one: C. S. Lewis was brilliant. His insights are nothing short of spectacular. And now I really need another print copy so that I can read it with a highlighter. (I never mark up my books, but this one will be bought for that express purpose because I NEED NOTES.)

For My Bookclub

This month's book club pick is A Bound Heart by Laura Frantz

I've long been a Laura Frantz fan--and for good reason. =) Her books are always amazing, and this one certainly lived up to my expectations! Set in Scotland and Virginia, with glimpses of Jamaica too, this is the story of one Highland lass who goes from serving in the stillroom (think herbs, bees, and medicinals) at the castle of her childhood friend to banished across the sea as an indentured servant when she's accused of a crime she didn't commit. A gorgeous story of faith, love, and what home really means. GO READ IT!!!

For Fun

Ever since I finished Mark of the Raven by Morgan L. Busse in January, I have been SO eager for the second book, Flight of the Raven, and it JUST ARRIVED ON MONDAY!!!!!! I'm a wee bit excited. 😉

I've only just cracked the cover and read the first two chapters as of when I'm writing this, but the first book in the series is one that has stuck with me waaaaaay after I finished it. I usually only have a very limited amount of time to read strictly for fun, and every time it's come upon me in recent months and I pause to think, "What was it I wanted to read?" the answer is always "Mark of the Raven!" But of course, I'd finished it, LOL. 

This is a fantasy series with a gorgeous allegory to our world of faith and the struggle between God and the enemy played out in the hearts and minds of men. I don't read much fantasy, but these are awesome. I highly recommend them!!!

For Endorsement

I had the privilege of reading an early copy of Memories of Glass by Melanie Dobson recently.

This one doesn't release until September, but go pre-order now!!! It's a fabulous story. In Melanie's split-time style, it shares the story of two families in WW2 Amsterdam, much of it pieced together by the contemporary characters. We get glimpses of the Resistance, the hardships, the incredible lengths people went to in that terrible time to save their children, and the price far too many of them paid. But as long as people fought, there was hope. Stunning story. Seriously, go reserve your copy. 😉

With the Kids

I read a ton of books with my kids during the school year, but to highlight just one right now...
Holes by Louis Sachar

This is a really fun middle grade read about a boy sent to a camp to dig holes as rehabilitation when he was found guilty of stealing a pair of shoes--a crime he didn't commit. And there's no one to blame for his troubles other than his no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather, of course. Who brought a curse down on the family when he forgot to uphold his end of a bargain with a fortune teller. This Newbery Medal winning book well deserves its acclaim! It's fun, but it also teaches the value of treating others as equals no matter race or background, keeping your word, and working hard. My kids highly enjoyed it, and so did I! 

We watched the movie, too, which stuck really well to the book and was great fun.

That's it for me this month! Now here's Rachel. 😀

Rachel's Reads

Hi folks! I am super excited to share my current reads with you. You may know me as Bookworm Mama as well as being Roseanna's Assistant! I LOVE books and sharing my love of books with others! Check out my current reads.


The Name of the Wind is my husband's FAVORITE book! He reads it annually and I have FINALLY gotten on board. I am loving it so.much! And the narrator (Nick Podehl) is incredible!!! Beautifully written and captivating. I don't read a ton of fantasy, so it took me a while to actually pick it up. So glad I did. I highly encourage you to check it out!

For My Bookclub

One of my mom friends and I are starting a book club! YAY!!! We have both picked a few books that we both have been wanting to read and our group will vote on it. BUT, we are doing fun little book box as a prize with a Pride and Prejudice theme! YAY!

For Fun/Review

As a reviewer, I read a lot of books as part of street teams and influencer programs. Branching out and discovering new authors is always exciting. And I have a passion for supporting the authors I love!

After reading Stephaine Morrill's The Lost Girl of Astor Street, I have been anxiously awaiting her next release. Within These Lines is a heart wrenching, make you cry, make you smile, story. Set in California during WWII, Morrill explores the harrowing effects of the internment camps here in the States. Love, love, love it! Make sure you get your hands on this one and get a new perspective on WWII.

I just finished up The Artful Match by Jennifer Delamere. After going to the National Art Gallery in DC I think I was able to appreciate the references even more than I would have originally. I love the art and history that is discovered in the pages. This book is set in Victorian England, and is the last book of the London Beginnings Series.

With the Kids

I use a very similar curriculum as Roseanna for homeschooling. Books are a huge part of the daily routine and I LOVE it. So do the kids which makes it even better. Right now we are finishing up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone....The Illustrated Edition! It is so gorgeous. And the kids are having a blast with it.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Are you ready for The Codebreakers?

I don't know about you, but I am getting super excited about The Number of Love coming in June! A while back, I did my final read-through of the designed pages--the last glimpse I'll have of the manuscript before it arrives on my door in the last couple weeks of May as a finished product.

Maybe you saw this photo that I posted on Facebook...

Well, I had quite a few people actually read the page in that picture and comment. And it got me thinking...

I ran my idea by Bethany House, and they agreed it was not only possible but fun. So! I'm hereby announcing....


With a series title such as "The Codebreakers" you didn't think I would make this easy did you? In order to find out WHAT this announcement is...Please use the following key to decipher the message.

The Number of Love
Sneak Peek Serial!

What is it? 

Pretty much what it sounds like. The first few chapters of The Number of Love will be given to me to pass along to you. But not in one chunk you'd have to sit there and read on your screen. No, we're going to be taking a page from history and serializing it! That means you'll be getting small, manageable, bite-size snippets to read. (All previously-released sections will be available by following a link, so you won't have to worry if you've missed any.)

Where will it be?

This will be released daily in my newsletter. So if you're not a subscriber yet, sign up soon. ;-) (Usually my newsletter goes out weekly, containing my Thoughtful Thursday post, any book news or sales, and any behind-the-scenes or giveaways that I'm doing then.)

When will it begin?

This will begin in one week on Wednesday, May 1.

How long will it run?

We'll be doing about a page a day, so you'll receive your daily bite of book through the month of May--it'll finish up just before the book releases on June 3!


Monday, April 22, 2019

Word of the Week - Scale

I always find it interesting when a word with different meanings comes, in fact, from different root words. Such is the case with scale.

Though that single English word can mean many different things--fish's scale, or a scale that builds up on something; to scale a mountain; something that measures weights--none of those meanings actually have anything to do with each other!

The first meaning comes from the Old French escale, meaning "shell," hence being applied to thin, hard plates on animals.

The Latin word scala means ladder, which is where our "climb" meaning comes from.

And there's an old Scandinavian word, skal, that means "bowl"--which were used for measuring in the old-timey scale versions that we all recognize but probably don't have in our house these days. 😉

Now, why we gave them all the same spelling in English...I have no idea, LOL.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Thoughtful About . . . Happiness and Joy

This past week, my church's Wednesday night Bible study just began Philippians. Well, we didn't really get much into the book itself; we read the intro from someone's Bible, which said that the book was all about JOY, which is only to be found in Christ, as opposed to HAPPINESS, which is earthly.

This is something I've heard and read and come across is various ways over the years, as I'm sure you all have too. It's an understanding that seems fine, right? We know that true joy comes from the Lord. We know that it's not the same as happiness. 

But my husband asked a question that led us into what I found to be a fabulous conversation: Does that meant that you can't experience joy unless you're a Christian?

As we talked through it, the first step was in identifying times that we would classify as experiencing joy rather than happiness. The things that bring us joy. And the examples--relationships, family, security--all seemed to have something in common in my mind. They're all things that humanity as a whole can experience, yes. But they're all things given by God, and which God uses as examples of what His love is like.

That, however, wasn't an epiphany big enough to make me want to talk about it. 😉 What made me decide to write more about it was this thought:

Happiness is when we're being acted upon in a favorable way.
Joy is when we act out our love.

I've long thought happiness was best defined as circumstantial. This gorgeous spring weather we've been having makes me happy. Dinner with friends makes me happy. Seeing a good sales report makes me happy.

See those keywords? Things make us happy. It's a result of the outside world acting in a specific way, creating circumstances that we find pleasant, that creates in us a good feeling or emotion. Now, there's nothing at all wrong with this! Happiness is something we should certainly appreciate when it comes our way!

But happiness is a feeling, and more, it's a feeling that depends on the world around us. So when the circumstances change...well, our happiness does too. We don't all feel happy every single day, do we? When we're on the phone with customer support for hours, when we're cleaning up messes from pets or kids or a storm, when we're sick or suffering from depression or anxiety, when we're looking at bills and knowing the account balance isn't big enough--well, we certainly don't feel happy.

When we read or hear about joy, though, we're told that it's something more, something beyond happiness, something that we ought to be feeling even when we're not happy. 

Ever hear that and just want to huff out a breath and demand, "HOW?!"

For starters, I don't think we're classifying it right when we say we ought to feel joy. Feeling isn't the primary aspect of it. We ought, perhaps, to know joy. We ought to have joy. But I think most of all, we ought to be joy, act joyous, and spread joy.

Because do you know what every single joyous thing has in common? They involve us doing, acting, being rather than being acted upon. Instead of circumstances, joy is reliant on choices.

We choose to love our families, even when the kids are disobedient, when we're in a rough patch with our spouse, when our parents don't understand us, when our loved ones are ill and dying. We CHOOSE. And we ACT.

When circumstances are all against us and we choose to sing a praise song to God, that is joy.

When the plates are empty and we thank God for them as an opportunity for Him to show up and provide, that is joy.

When what we've lost outweighs what we have, but we turn our faces upward and say, "It's all yours, Lord, I know you're holding us in your hand," that is joy.

When the baby keeps us up all night, and in the face of exhaustion, we sing another lullaby and cuddle them close, that is joy.

When you give even though you don't know if it'll be used wisely, simply to show someone you care, that is joy.

When you reach out, even though you'd rather curl up in a ball and shut out the world, that is joy.

Joy doesn't always feel good. But it is good. It's acting out love and faith, clinging with both hands to the promises, despite all the shadows and trials and struggles and pain.

Happiness might be something we pursue, working hard to line up those circumstances as best we can. But joy is something we can choose moment by moment. And when we're so tired, weak, and overwhelmed that we don't know how to grasp it anymore, that's when we can turn to Him and say, "Be my joy, Lord. I don't have any left of my own."

Can you know joy apart from the Lord? Some, yes. I think you can--like all of His gifts to humanity, it's available, along with Truth and Wisdom and Knowledge. Just as the world displays the knowledge of Him if you care to look for it, so does it offer the opportunity for joy. But it's harder to grasp without Him as our foundation. It's harder to hold to. But then, it's hard when we do know Him too.

The best things always are.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Word of the Week - Mediocre

So mediocre has meant the same thing since it entered English round about 1580: "of moderate quality, neither good nor bad."

But I'd never really looked it up to realize where it comes from. Medi- of course means "middle" or "halfway" in Latin, which we know from other words like medium, etc. But what about the second half of the word? That comes from the Latin ocri, which means..."mountain." Who knew? Mediocre is literally "halfway up the mountain." From that literal meaning, the word has pretty much always meant "of middling height or station."

I think what I like about this though is that "halfway up the mountain" implies (in my mind, at least) a journey. We all start at the bottom and hike our way up. Maybe we're mediocre at something now, but that's just because it's a step along the way... 😀😀

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Thoughtful About . . . Speaking Foolishness - and Writing Your Story

After two weekends in a row away from home (which is when I'd usually have prepped blog posts), I'm still playing catch-up on the blog. So today, rather than just sharing my thoughts, I want to share some other people's. =)

First is my husband, David. As I'm sure anyone who reads my posts can tell, we have a lot of awesome conversations. And they're almost all begun by David--I'd usually be content to just sit there in my own little world, LOL. But David asks questions. David thinks things through (some might say too much, ha ha). David never assumes that the standard answer is the right one.

As the publisher at WhiteFire, he's been doing a lot of thinking about stories and how they interact with the world. And I really love the articles he's started writing. Two weeks ago, we launched the "From the Publisher's Desk" blog at, and he talked about emotional counterfeiting (with a bonus review of the movie Unplanned). SUPER good thoughts about why some stories stay with us, resonate, and change us, and others...don't.

Today he's talking about how the things of Christ are foolishness to the world...and how as storytellers, we can use that to our advantage by creating wonder in the audience.  Here's a snippet--do go read the whole thing, his thoughts are spot-on!

In the circles of Christian art (books, film, music, even visual arts), we often hear talk about the purpose of our work. Of how to make the end result positive. But what, exactly, does that mean?  We tend to answer with things like “to make sure God/Christ is glorified” through our art.  That’s a bit of a difficult standard, really, when you think about it.  If the things of God are foolishness to those outside the church, then glorifying God in a godly way isn’t going to connect with the outay isn’t going to connect with the outside audience in a traditional way.  Meaning that logical arguments for the Gospel message don’t make sense (all the time—there are of course, exceptions), and worldly appeals to the gospel risk damaging the message itself.  You also can’t connect with the outside audience in the same way that you would with the church/Christian audience.  We understand things completely differently.

What that means, to me at least, is that we have to be aware that we’re speaking foolishness to the outside world.  I know that scares some people. They want a “clear presentation of the Gospel message.”  But as storytellers it ought to thrill us.  Confusion and wonder are awesome tools in our tool bag (as long as you’re being clear in the confusion you’re using – confused yet?)  There are cases of truly bad storytelling where confusion brings the audience out of the story, but when done well it makes the audience wonder why a character did/said a thing. Read the Full Article

Are You Ready to Write Your Story?

And then, after you've read that, I wanted to share about a writers conference WhiteFire is sponsoring, which is founded by one of our new authors, Paula Wallace. Paula runs Bloom in the Dark, a non-profit organization with a television show whose purpose is to help those who've suffered from abuse, addiction, or other trauma to not just survive it--but to thrive with the help of the Lord.
The Writing from a Bleeding Heart Conference is geared specifically toward people who hear the Lord whispering Write your story but don't know how to start. Even seasoned authors run into this--we know how to write other people's stories, but how do we incorporate our stuff into it, or write a memoir or...? Writing can be an incredibly healing experience--but it's also a challenge. If you feel that nudge on your spirit, though, it might be because God not only wants to heal you through the process, but because your story could help another of His precious children heal as well.
I get a lot of questions from my readers about this sort of thing, so I wanted to share the information on this conference. David and I will both be there, and I'll be teaching some of the sessions (on the writing side of things). It promises to be a time of fellowship, education, encouragement, and healing! If it sounds like something you'd be interested in, please check out the website!
Writing from a Bleeding Heart Conference
June 26-29, 2019
Franklin, TN (just outside Nashville) 

Monday, April 8, 2019

Word of the Week - Sinister

Yet another homeschool-inspired Word of the Week--this one from my daughter, who bounced out to the kitchen the other day to say, "Do you know where the word sinister comes from?"

To which I replied, stopping what I was doing, "No! Tell me!" And so she did. 😀 (I adore my word-loving children, LOL.)

So apparently sinister comes Latin by way of Greek and literally means "from the left." As soon as she said that, I said, "Of course!" I'm sure we've all heard the medieval superstition about the left side being unlucky--which was why left-handed children for centuries were forced to use their right hand in school.

But I hadn't realized the full scope--and the complication--of this. Apparently this particular movement of "from the left" to "unlucky" and finally "evil" started with omen-reading. Greeks would always face north when reading omens. And so, things like bird flights seen on the left were considered bearers of ill-tidings and misfortune. However, Romans actually often faced south...and when they did so, omens seen on the left side were actually considered favorable! So in Latin, this word can actually mean two opposite things--the Greek-inspired "unfortunate" as well as their own "fortunate." How confusing must that be?

Sinister entered English in the 15th century with the meaning of "prompted by malice, intending to deceive." This meaning was directly influenced by the idea of something unfavorable coming from the left-hand side. But by the end of the century, the meaning we still know today--evil--had taken hold.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Thoughtful About . . . The Magic

Well, I'm back from my writing retreat. My manuscript is complete. A weight has been lifted from my shoulders. And as it eased off, I couldn't help but contemplate about this strange thing that is a creative's mind. The doubts that always plague us.

This was the sixth year my best friend and I have gotten together like this--and we skipped one year when she had a newborn, so I took a mini retreat at my parents' house while they were out of town. Seven years ought to have given me a pretty good indicator of what I can accomplish. And it has. I know that, when on retreat, I can write at least 10,000 words a day. I know that in four full days, 40K isn't a big ask. I know that I can do this, because I've done it six times before.

Stephanie and I trying out the couch our first evening at the Airbnb

But this year, I had to do it. The manuscript I was working on was due two days after I got home. This wasn't a matter of getting a good start or finishing up a book due next month. This was critical.

Which means the fears crept in. What if, I kept thinking, the magic doesn't work this time?

Intellectually, of course, I knew it wasn't magic. There's no great mystery about how these retreats work. It isn't that our fingers are always flying, that something happens beyond my comprehension. We have a lot of time when we're just sitting, hands still on our keyboards, working it out in our minds. We don't type any faster than usual. It isn't mystical. It's just plain ol' hard work. Often fourteen hours of it (with breaks to eat, walk, do jumping jacks, etc.).

Where I spent most of my weekend--in a big leather armchair, looking out over the living room and kitchen

But something that is unique to a retreat is that I prepare for it. I warn people I'll be away. I set up an out-of-office auto-responder on my email. I clear everything else off my desk--even the things that are kinda pressing. I give myself permission to work on nothing else.

Something about that and the dedicated time does seem to be a recipe for success. It isn't "magic." But it certainly feels it, as I'm sitting in a crowded, noisy airport and manage to tune it all out and just put words on the page--though at home, a mere "Good morning" can derail me for half an hour.

This year, when I needed the retreat more than I ever have before, I was also more productive-per-hour than I've ever been. In a 56-hour period, I wrote 33,251 words. Given that quite a few of those hours were spend sleeping, LOL, that's really, really good for me. At the end of my day of travel, I had 6,000 words. Day 2 (first full day), I wrote 15K. And I went to bed that night thinking, "Okay, my worries were so silly. I can do this. I knew I could do this. But now I feel like I can do this."

After my 15K day, I knew on Saturday that I'd probably finish my book that day--
which made the coffee at Groundhouse all the sweeter.

But this is pretty typical of us humans, isn't it? Even when they shouldn't, doubts plague us. Even when we know something in our heads, that doesn't mean we get the message in our hearts. Our knowers can know, but our worriers still worry. Sometimes, that can paralyze us. As my deadline drew nearer and my to-list was a mile long with other time-sensitive tasks too, there were days at home when I just stared at the screen, fighting back the panic, not knowing what to do first.

There's never a magic recipe for escaping that. But there's something better. There's hard work. And there's the sure knowledge that even when we fail, God doesn't. Even if we mess something up, He can make beauty from the ashes. It isn't an excuse not to give things more-than-our-best and strive for excellence--it's just knowing that when our strength fails, we can rely on His instead to help us achieve it.

We celebrated the end of the retreat with tacos

I thoroughly enjoyed my long weekend in Kansas City with my best friend. And I also chuckled at myself as I thought about the very different emotional state I was in a week before. Emotions change--hence motion in the word, right? But we can choose not to be ruled by them. Sometimes, it's just a matter of putting in the hard work so that our feelings can catch up with our certainty.