Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Remember When . . . The Skirts Had Hoops?

Well, I finally did it--I got to The End in my 1861-set manuscript. Yay! It took longer than I thought it would--and ended up longer than it should have in word count, LOL, but it's finished. Not counting edits, revisions, cuts, chops, rewrites, what have you. ;-)

So before I dive back into the 18th century, I wanted to linger a bit on the truly awesome styling of the mid to late 19th century. Because seriously, I love a good hoop skirt. Don't you? I've put together a board on Pinterest for my favorite finds, many of which were repinned from the board of my friend Rachel Wilder, who's an expert on 19th century fashion. She has, in fact, a blog geared toward answering reader/writer questions on fashion, which I highly recommend you check out.

Now for some fun. =) Let's start with one of the most important articles of Victorian clothing--the corset. Though they get a bad rap in modern times because of how they were used to reform the figure, but the boning and stays provided the structure needed to pull off these gowns--you can't have a period dress without one. (Though we certainly don't have to reduce our waists to 17 inches with them!)

Then, of course, we need a hoop.

And now to pick what to wear. How about a day dress?

And don't forget your accessories! A perfect parasol for instance . . .
And a lovely bonne.
But don't stay out too long this afternoon. You'll have to dress for the evening, you know!
And of course, a lady goes nowhere without her fan--it's an essential tool for social interaction. =)
Lovely, isn't it all? And before we object to how hot they'd be, let me assure you that those who do reenacting say that you get so accustomed to it that you aren't drenched in sweat while in them--you're freezing when you take them off. ;-)

Hope everyone enjoyed the brief tour through 1860s fashion!

Monday, February 27, 2012

We Have Winner #2!

Given that I'm a little behind on selecting my second winner for the Great ANNAPOLIS Giveaway, I figured I'd better spend my blog time doing that this morning. ;-)

I want to thank you all for following me around the blogosphere and making the release of Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland so fun! I loved seeing the pictures you guys sent, reading your comments, and hearing about your creative ways of spreading the word.

And now, drum roll please.


And the second and final winner of the Great ANNAPOLIS Giveaway, including doll, mug, hot cocoa, journal, quill, and book is. . .


Apple Blossom!

Yay, congrats, Apple Blossom! She won this by pure devotion to the cause, LOL, commenting on absolutely everything she could. Sending you an email now. =)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Special Announcement - Vote for Jewel of Persia!

I just learned that Jewel of Persia  is a finalist in the 2012 Friendship Readers' Choice Awards!

What is this, you ask? Well, to be eligible, your book has to have friendship as a central theme. I entered Jewel of Persia because, as anyone who's read it knows, the friendship between Kasia and Esther is what paves the way for the events we all know from the book of the Bible. But honestly, I'd totally forgotten I'd entered, LOL.

I LOVE that this is a reader's choice award--it means that you have a voice! If you read and enjoyed Jewel of Persia, I would be totally honored if you would visit the voting site at between now and March 21 and cast your vote. It's here:

And just FYI, this award comes with bragging rights only, no big, sparkly prize. ;-)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thoughtful About . . . Soon

I tried to think of a blog post for today, I really did. But you see, every time I turned my mind over to pondering, it defaulted to pondering the last three chapters of my work-in-progress. I'm mere days away from finishing it and in a total book haze. So my apologies. No inspiration for you here. ;-)

I'm also a bit overdue on drawing the second and final winner of my Great ANNAPOLIS Giveaway--rest assured I haven't forgotten, just haven't taken the hour necessary to tally up all those entries and do the drawing. That's scheduled for right after I finish my manuscript, so hopefully SOON.

In the meantime, I hope everyone's having a great week! If you haven't already, scroll to yesterday's post to have some fun with Shakespearean insults, and otherwise say a prayer that these last few scenes go smoothly for me, will you? Tricky balance to strike with this book--but hey, if I don't get it right, that's what revisions are for. ;-)

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Remember When . . . Shakespeare Insulted You?

It happens to me all the time. (No, not that Shakespeare insults me . . .;-) I'm barreling full-steam through a heated scene on-page, when, wham. I come against a blinking cursor and don't know what to type. Because one of my characters is insulting the other--and my vocabulary fails me.

Why? Because our favorite insults today don't fly in a historical context. I can't have Delia call Phin a jerk. He's scowl and say, "I'm not tugging on you. What are you talking about?" He can't call her a snob (see Monday's post, wink, wink), or she'd say, "Whatever do you mean? I'm not pretending to my gentility, I was born to it, as you well know, you . . . you . . ."

Yeah. Back to square one. So I'm compiling a list of historical insults, and boy is it fun! From scalawag to rogue to jackanapes, from slimy toad to delightful imp, I'm trying to make sure I have all the fun ones--and the truly low-down ones--on my list. Without getting vulgar, of course.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Word of the Week - Snob

There's little I like more than realizing a word in common use today has come to mean the opposite of what it once did. 

Snob is definitely one of those words.

It appeared in English from some mysterious place, and scholars aren't sure of its origins--just that it made its debut round about 1781 with the meaning of "shoemaker." That's right--shoemaker. LOL. The boys at Cambridge University soon adopted it and applied it to anyone of the working class.

Fifty-ish years later the word took a turn and was used to mean someone of a lower class who "vulgarly apes his superiors." Slowly, throughout the nineteenth century, it evolved into one who puts on airs . . . who insists upon his gentility . . . and finally, by 1911, someone who insists upon it to the point of looking down their nose at those who are inferior.

Quite the trek that word has taken, eh? Love this one!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Thoughtful About . . . The End

I should probably have saved this topic for two weeks from now, when, if all goes well, I'll reach the end of my manuscript. But I'd probably forget by then, so . . . ;-)

I'm an optimist. I can find hope in anything. That's probably why I love stories of romance--you just can't beat a happily ever after. And, frankly, if a book doesn't have one, chances are I'm not that crazy about it. Not to say I don't approve of other endings, think they're perfect--but rare is the book that makes it onto my favorites shelf with a less-than-blissful ending. It's happened. But it takes one heck of an author.

And it's also why so much of the Old Testament leaves me with an aching heart, especially reading the books about the kings of Israel and Judah. Going through all those chronicles with my daughter, she asks constantly as she's trying to keep the names straight, "So which king was he? Did he love God?"

And so often my answer has to be, "No." Or worse still, "He did when he was young, but then he caught up in his money and his glory and worshiped Baal. He forgot about God."

Xoe, bless her sweet spirit, will always look up at me with those big blue eyes of her and ask, "But how could he forget God? God saved him!"

She's so right. At six, she understands the simplicity of it and doesn't see the complication. At six, she sees only the "happily" and not the "ever after." And I wish, oh how I wish, I could toss a "The End" into some of those stories halfway through. Stop it where it's still happy. Ignore the depressing epilogue.

But I can't, because I have to teach my kids that getting to that one big moment isn't enough in life. It doesn't stop when we reach one goal, do one great thing for the Lord. We don't have just one volume, with one climax. One neat resolution. No, we have to press ever onward. Because "the end" doesn't come until the end.

I shake my head at the critics at romance who mock our beloved happily-ever-after because of these very reasons. And my head-shaking is valid. Because, hello, who wants to read a gazillion-page novel that tracks a person from birth to death? No thanks. I want my novels to entertain and inspire. And those stories, those endings, serve to get me from big moment to big moment in life. They help me remember what can happen. Over and again. Time after time. Volume after volume.

But so often, I think we pray for the short term. Just one good thing, Lord. Just send me one good thing. But as I reread those Old Testament stories, they're making me look farther. Pray for good lives for my loved ones, not good turns. Good ends, with middles that lead them there. I'm praying, now, for endurance and fortitude.

Blessings come, and I praise the Lord for them. Crises come, and I pray to the Lord through them. But between climaxes, between resolutions, what am I doing? That, I think, is where those kings of old fell away. When they grew complacent. When they forgot who sent the rain, who delivered the army, who pulled away His protection and let the enemy come.

There are mountains in our life, in our faith. There are valleys.

But there are also plains. And the only way to trek across them without ending up in the land of Baal is to keep our eyes forever on the pillar of fire and smoke.

I love a good ending. But you only ever reach one in life when you realize it's a looooong journey to get there.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Remember When . . . The Little Stuff Happened?

Monday, during my big writing day of the week, the unthinkable happened--I ran out plotted story! Agh! Which is to say, I'm not anywhere near done my MS (okay, nearish), but I'd only figured out in detail up to a certain turning point. Which I'd just finished. I then had to sit back and go, "Okay . . . now what?"

My particular method of writing historical romance is to take two plots and weave them together. The first is mine. My characters, their motivation, the events of their lives that have very little to do with anything but my own reality. But then my second is history. The actual people, places, and events that shape the world I put my characters into. When all goes well, that second plot is what fuels the first toward its resolution.

But as I sat there staring at my screen on Monday, plotting, I was at a total loss. My notes on the Civil War stared blankly back at me. See, I'm now in early October of 1861. During which nothing big enough happened to make the big time lines. So what in the world was supposed to anchor my story?? I had nothing, not a thing in my notes until February. February! What in the world happened until then??

Plenty, of course, just not on a grand scale, not the kinds of things that make the lists for general Civil War history. Luckily, I have a resource that gives me specifically Savannah's history, which is what I need. Because there was an awful, awful lot going on in Savannah during those "empty" months on the time line.



Islands on the coast falling to the Yankees.

General Lee's arrival.

Statewide questioning about whether Savannah is worth fighting for--a question Savannahians didn't much appreciate.

The blockade cinching tight.

 And that's not getting into the politics that had all of Georgia in an uproar. See, one of the BIG reasons for succession was Federal v. State Rights. Slavery laws were but one example of this, the fact that the southern states felt the north had no right to dictate to them what they could or couldn't do, that the federal government shouldn't have such power. But what was the Confederation doing? Dictating to them what they could and couldn't do. Telling them they had to raise a certain number of troops, and that those troops weren't to defend Georgia, they were to be sent to Virginia to fight on the front. And that their slaves had to be sent wherever the Confederacy needed them, to dig trenches.

And that, since there weren't enough volunteers, they'd have to institute the first-ever draft on North American soil.

Can you imagine how those people felt? They'd declared a revolution to keep a centralized federal government from deciding what their states could do--only to create a new one that did the same thing, and in ways even the politicians in Washington hadn't done. Was it any wonder the people were disillusioned? Panicked? And, where necessary, devious?

This first year of the war might have been relatively quiet compared to the rest . . . if you're standing at a distance, looking at the divided nation as a fractured whole. But when you get up close, you see it was far from it.

There may not have been so many loud shouts, but there was a world of mumblings. What they lacked in cannon fire they made up for in quiet betrayals---betrayals that led directly to those louder months coming, when disillusioned rebels led the Yankees straight to the heart of Confederate fortifications.

Oh yeah--I'm having lots of fun with this "little" history. =)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Word of the Week - Finagle & Maneuver

You get two for the price of one today. =)

I can't tell you how many times in historical writing I have the urge to use the word "finagle." You know, like She finagled him up the aisle. Or He finagled his way out of it. Something to convey some tricky footwork, so to speak.

But I generally can't, because finagle didn't come about until 1926. Really late! And at the time, it meant to cheat at cards. One authority says it's related to figgle, which is to fidget. Hmmm. Either way, it's modern meaning of some fancy (and likely questionable) maneuvering is waaaaaay too new to use in any of my historicals.

So then I have to think of what word I can use, and I inevitably fall back on maneuver. Maneuver has been around since the 15th century with a meaning of "hand labor." (Man meaning hand, that's no surprise.) But in the mid-1700s, it was applied to military movements. And from there, it was a quick jump to "artful plan, adroit movement." More what I'm usually looking for.

But wait! Interestingly, the noun came first. The verb was actually a back-formation and didn't make its literary debut until 1777. Thus far safe for all my historicals, but if I ever write earlier than that, I'm going to have to keep that in mind!

So there you have it. Some interesting factoids to help you maneuver through your week. ;-)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Thoughtful About . . . Word Fall

In case anyone missed my Seekerville post yesterday, I thought I'd share it here today. In case you, um, didn't just want to go over there and read yesterday's post . . . okay, so I'm in the middle a BIG reunion scene in my manuscript and don't want to take time away from it to write a blog, LOL. Indulge me.

And keep in mind that the post yesterday was the last stop on my blog tour, so your last chance at a free copy of LFY Annapolis and to enter my big giveaway that way!


As a writer, I’m always aware of the importance of words. As a writer, I pay attention to any mention of them in the Bible. As a writer, I cringe when I realize how carelessly those precious, life-giving syllables are often used. Not just in writing, but in speech. In life.

We all know the beginning of the gospel of John.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.
In Him was Life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, 
and the darkness did not comprehend it.”

It’s a beautiful throwback to Genesis, where God spoke creation into being. A poetic illustration of how Christ fulfills the promises set forth in the very beginning. A fine example of how powerful words, the Word, really are.

Words create. But conversely, words can destroy. Why are lies so dangerous? Why is bearing false-witness one of the big Ten? Because words are one of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal, and the Lord wants us to use them wisely.

“Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt,
that you may know how you ought to answer each one.”
Colossians 4:6

When we use words with the express goal of damaging others, we’re not pleasing God. He wants us to edify each other, to encourage. Even if we’re calling out someone’s mistakes (something we’re definitely told to do), we’re given strict instructions on how to do it. Why? Because it matters. Because God knows that if we just go up to our friend and say, “You’re such an idiot,” then we’re going to be hurting, not helping. Our words need to be a stepping stone for others, not a stumbling block. And so we need to take care that when we speak, it’s with the love of the Lord shining through us.

I think this is a pretty simple idea, and one that most people understand on some level. They know very well that the old “sticks and stones” rhyme is about as false as it gets. And yet, how often do we speak things we later regret? How often do we send a rash, nasty email and then wish for the backspace key? How often to do we make a dire prediction about someone, rather than going to them and lovingly admonishing them?

Are we then surprised when our predictions come true?

“As we must account for every idle word, so we must for every idle silence.”
Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanack

One of the ideas presented in the book of James that always struck me the most is that we’re not just held accountable for what we do and say, but for what we know we ought to do and say but don’t. God judges our hearts, our motives. That means that if the Spirit whispers Go talk to her, but we hem and haw and stay put, afraid of “not coming off right,” then we’ve done something wrong.

It’s tough, right? We don’t want to hurt people by speaking amiss . . . and we’re never quite sure we’ll say things right. We don’t want to be held accountable for using words to hurt someone . . . but then He tells us that we’ll also be held accountable for not saying or doing things? Um . . . little help, God!

“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, 
who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, 
comfort your hearts and establish you in every good WORD and work.”  
II Thessalonians 2:16, 17

God doesn’t leave us floundering after giving us these commands, thank heavens. He gave us a whole Book to help us. Jesus came to help us redefine. And then the Spirit was given to “teach you all things, and to bring to your remembrance all things I [Jesus] said to you.”

We can do this. We can use our words as He ordained. Whether you’re a quiet, introspective person or an exuberant extrovert. Whether you write epics or only the occasional email. We’re still all held to that standard.

As one of those people who writes countless emails a day, who has written thousands of pages of fiction over the years, who is partly responsible for choosing which books WhiteFire Publishing produces, I think about that standard a lot. I know the fear of  words being taken wrongly by readers, of them being misused, of being judged harshly for them. I know the fear of not writing things as I ought, of it being more about me than God, of getting carried away with my wisdom and so not fulfilling my ultimate goal of sharing His. That’s why I bathe my work in prayer. Day in, day out, I beg Him to help me write His words. Yes, I know they won’t hold a candle to the Word He’s already inspired in His writers so long ago—but if I can help expound on the truths laid out in the Bible . . .

“This will be written for the
generation to come,
That a people yet to be created
May praise the Lord.”
Psalm 102:18

About a year ago, a reader emailed me. She said that as she reads, she keeps a notebook handy, and when something strikes her as true, encourages her, or helps her understand a gem of the Lord’s wisdom, she writes down the line from the book, the title, author, and why it spoke to her. I was touched deeply to learn that I had a page in this notebook of hers. She shared with me how important she feels words are, how powerful, and how much she admires writers for living by them. And I thanked her for the enormous blessing she bestowed upon me by letting me see that the books I sweat and cry over have an effect. This is what God wants us to do with our words—to mutually build one another up. To encourage, to edify, to be a blessing.

“Sing to Him! Sing psalms to Him!
Talk of His wondrous works!”
Psalm 105:2

Have you ever noticed how everything in the Bible ends in praise? Read the Psalms. Even the ones that are lamentations end in hope, end in glorifying the Lord. With a few exceptions, each and every song written by the psalmists will show a heart poured out and then given over to the Lord’s will, which by nature requires praise. In the epistles, the writers will admonish, direct, guide . . . and end with prayer and praise. Why? Because that is what our words are meant to do. We are to shine for the Lord, to glorify Him through the words of our mouth, just as He breathed life into us with His.

He guides us. He calls us. And when we say in response, “Here I am, Lord,” then we are fulfilling our potential.

My ultimate prayer is that I can be like Samuel.

“So Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him 
and let none of his words fall to the ground.”  
  I Samuel 3:19

Lord, let my words never fall to the ground. Let them all fly heavenward to You, for You . . . that through them You may shine.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Remember When . . . The Road Home Wasn't Built?

First, today is the LAST STOP of my  Annapolis blog tour, and I'm going out with a bang--on Seekerville! Talking about the importance of our words, both the ones we speak (or type) and the ones we don't. Head on over! And now for your regularly scheduled programming. ;-)


I finally, finally reached a critical turning point in my manuscript--my hero, long stranded in Cuba, gets to come home. But as I sat down, fingers poised over keyboard and ready to make his dreams come (momentarily) true, I paused. And said something like, "Aww, man. How am I supposed to get him there?"

I knew all along this would be tricky. In 1861, it was, shall we say, a bit difficult to gain entrance to the Confederate States of America. See, there was this little thing called the blockade . . . LOL. I had a plan for it, but it was a loose one. Based upon a few quick searches, some squinting, and a couple, "Eh, good enough for now"s.

But it wasn't good enough for the real thing. So my internet searches got more intense, and where they failed, I looked for help. By the end of my work day on Monday, I'd exchanged about a dozen emails with six different historians. And I had enough to go on.

I'd determined that the most likely port of entry from Cuba would be Cedar Key, Florida. So my search started with the lovely, oh-so-friendly folks of Low-Key Hideaways, who had a plethora of historical information about their little island on their website, including a wonderful hand-drawn map from the 1880s. I emailed the info address on their website and within minutes had a response, which was also forwarded to a friend of theirs who knew the island's history well.

Said friend applauded me for making the Cuba-Cedar Key connection and referred me to others from the town who had written books about it during the Civil War, so could answer any questions I had about the town's layout at the time.

That was a lovely start to my day, that verification that, hey, I'd landed him in the right place! Phew! And it was a good spot, because it was the western most terminus of the Florida railroad. Surely, surely, that would make it easy, right? I could just stick my hero on a train to Savannah.

Except, er, there seemed to be no train from Florida to Georgia. Um . . . I found a map that had a connector line marked as "built during the war," but it didn't tell me when. Argh! This was the point where my hubby said, "You just need that one railroad buff who can answer your question off the top of his head. Find him."

I started doing random searches for "Florida railroad Civil War" and came across and article sourced from the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society. Needless to say, their website was my next stop. I found the email address for their historical editor, sent him a few questions. Which he forwarded to the historian at the Florida East Coast Railway. Who forwarded it to a professor friend who'd just written a book about it.

I'd found my guy! He emailed later that evening answering my exact question--and giving me the year on that connector line, which was, sadly, two years too late. =( But I now knew that my hero could only take the rail from Cedar Key to the other side of Florida, Fernandina. From there, it would be a stage coach to Savannah.

Not what I'd planned on--but doable. And right. Oh, how I love knowing I've gotten details like that right!

All that research made for not as much writing time as I'd liked, but it was well worth it. And now I have a host of oh-so-helpful people who are on my acknowledgment list for this book. =) And more information on Civil War Florida than I ever thought I'd need to know. ;-)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Word of the Week - Cool

Cool. It could be argued (successfully, I think) that cool is a word that not only gets used, but over-used. It's the word we use to mean someone is hip, fashionable, or has that certain something that sets them apart as desirable. Or, spinning off that, it's the word we use to say we really like something. It's the word we use to tell someone to stop (cool it!). And of course, it's a temperature word, too. =)

Last week I found myself wanting to write "cool it!" so I looked it up. Well, I didn't find the etymology of that particular use in my quick browsing, but I did find a few of the others interesting. I tend to think of "cool" as a modern word, and that "fashionable" meaning is indeed rather new, coming from 1933. But still, it's older than I thought, and comes, so it is said, from the jazz movement. Which makes sense, because I can totally hear Louis Armstrong in my head going "Cool, man. Cool."

Where it surprised me, though, was that its use of being attached to a sum to give emphasis to the amount is from 1728. You know, like "He won a cool million in the game." I had no idea that one was that old!

In 1825 it adopted the meaning of "calmly audacious." That, I daresay is what made the way for the above-mentioned "fashionable," since, well, it's pretty cool (ha ha ha) to be calmly audacious. =)

I hope everyone had a great weekend and is gearing up for a stellar Monday! Time for me to get down to business--I'm going to finish this manuscript I'm working on in the next three weeks, even if it kills me. So if you have the urge to say a prayer that I survive it . . . ;-)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Thoughtful About . . . The Other Side of the Coin

Monday and Tuesday of this week, I had the joy of attending the Christian Product Expo in Lancaster, PA. I went with CAN (Christian Authors Network), who was hosting the breakfast on Tuesday. Each author sat at a different table so we could chat with the retailers. After that, we each gave a five minute speech. And then we all had books to sign and give away to the retailers.

This is the first trade show I've ever attended--the closest thing to it was the Home School Fair I went to last spring. Otherwise all my big events have been writers conferences, so this was a great new experience for me--a glimpse into another, critical side of the industry. It was so interesting to sit at the tables and heard the store owners talk about how they got into this, how long their stores have been open, what they use for engraving, what sells best in their stores, how much they charge for certain things . . .

But of course, one thing I really loved was hearing, "Oh, that's where I know you're name! I carry your book!" and "The Love Finds You line is so popular!" =)

Though for me, the absolute best part was the signing. Getting to chat with each and every retailer, seeing where they were from. I had a box of Love Finds You in Annapolis to give away, and also a box each of Jewel of Persia and A Stray Drop of Blood. I knew going in that most of them would already carry the LFY line, and none would carry the WhiteFire titles. So I was really, really intrigued to see that they were just as interested in my Biblical titles as Annapolis. =) One retailer apparently even started reading JoP during the morning activities and was raving about it over lunch, LOL.

I think so often we get caught up in OUR part of the world, our specialty, our corner, that we tend to be oblivious to the other sides. Or at least I am. ;-) This reminder that those other sides of the coin are still part of the same was wonderful. To realize that we're all working toward the same end, joint parts in the body of Christ, striving to do the same things--reach others for Him, and tend His flock. It was an experience I'm eager to repeat, and one that will affect how I see my own side of the coin from now on.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Remember When . . . It Was a Matter of Fact?

First, I want to thank everyone for sharing my excitement and offering your congrats and encouragement on my Big News. Being able to talk about it at last makes it so new and real, LOL.

I was tempted to talk about the Christian Product Expo I just attended in Lancaster, but since that's not historical, ha ha, I figured I'd better spare you all those details that probably wouldn't interest everyone. ;-) So instead, I thought I'd share some of the things that have struck me in the memoir I've been reading for research.

Last week I downloaded a dozen free books on the Civil War, most of them original texts from the era. The one I opened first was A Confederate Girl's Diary by Sarah Morgan Dawson. Sarah was a young lady in Baton Rouge during the war, and getting her view of events has been so interesting. It isn't just the events through her eyes that get me--it's her outlook on the whole state of affairs.

What strikes me most is her casual acceptance of looming death. One of the parts I just read says something along the lines of "I assured Mother that Charlie could protect me. And of course, should he be killed, I'm perfectly capable of protecting myself."

As they're evacuating the city during a brief shelling, they go by a camp of guerilla soldiers, and she and her sister call out something like, "Die protecting us!" Even when it's her own brother's and father's lives on the line--or extinguished--it's told in her diary with grief but no despair. But rather with a calm acceptance of whatever life might give.

And yet there's also the kind of scattered delight that reminded me of a character in an Austen novel. When Sarah is telling about the above-mentioned escape from the city, she gets only a block away before her shoes become so uncomfortable that she decides to turn back and get different ones. And of course, once back in the house, she thinks she had better grab some spare clothes. And of course, then she must gather some ribbons . . . and a comb . . . and her letters--but which ones?

The picture she paints of herself, comically oblivious to the shells whizzing overhead when it's about something as critical as finding her favorite belongings, is that of someone who has adjusted in ways she never imagined to a world gone quite mad.

And that, in my opinion, is one of the most amazing traits of humanity--our ability to adapt. No matter the era, no matter the circumstances, as a whole we will change as our circumstances dictated.

Much like this Confederate girl who mourned the loss of the Sarah of old . . . but didn't let it render her speechless.