Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Gone Editing

Have I ever mentioned that trimming words isn't my favorite pastime? But that's what I'm doing now, trying to get The Lost Heiress down to size. And as I find it so very easy to get distracted from this task, I'm cutting myself off from all extraneous tasks until I get done what needs doing, LOL.

So I'll be back when I've made some good progress. =) And when come back I do, I'll have some thoughts on the first season of Turn, and who knows what else!

See y'all later!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Word of the Week - Sentence

I'm so, so happy to be all done working on the old house. Finished up all that on Friday, and spent 12 hours yesterday getting this house back in order and putting away all the stuff we moved over! It feels awesome to know that today will be spent at my computer, not cleaning. And much needed--I have two weeks to turn in The Lost Heiress, and much work to do!.

But for now, our word of the week. =) Ever wonder at the two different meanings of sentence? On the one hand we have the grammatical meaning of a complete thought. On the other, we have a judgment rendered in court.

Interestingly, they both come from the same root. The Latin sententia means "thought, way of thinking, opinion; judgment, decision," and also "a thought expressed; aphorism, saying." This led to meaning "an authoritative saying." From about 1200 on, it was used in this way, applied to any teaching or doctrine.

In the early 1300s, it began to be applied to court decisions. From there, it took on the connotation in the mid-1300s of "understanding; wisdom; edifying subject matter." Then it shifted into "the subject matter of a book or speech" at the end of the century. And by the middle of the next century, it narrowed down to that idea of "a complete, grammatical thought."

Hope everyone has a great Monday!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Thoughtful About . . . Relief (and a Winner!)

First off, big congrats to the winner of my Fashion Find Challenge!
Angi Griffis 
Angi gets to lay claim to all those awesome books, and her entry from Sunday was the one selected.
Now on with today. Or, er, I guess I'm talking about yesterday, LOL. See, it was a big day for me. Not because I spent the day painting our old house to get it ready for the tenant moving in tomorrow. Not because that earned me blisters all over my hands that even made it hurt to hold my spoon to eat ice cream (but I persevered. Just so you know. I didn't give up on that chocolate cookies 'n' cream!). That was all pretty big. But what really made my day was that my mom finished reading A Soft Breath of Wind and my hubby (whose birthday is today!) finished reading The Lost Heiress.

Now, I've had two critique partners and my hubby read A Soft Breath of Wind already, but my mom is the first to read it after I cut a POV that those first readers all agreed was superfluous. And while I haven't had a chance to drill Mom on whether she ever felt like anything was missing (because I'm not totally sure I put back in some of the details I also deleted that I meant to reinsert, LOL), I figure it must have turned out okay, since Mom declared that this may just be her favorite--which is saying something, because though Mom has always loved all my books, nothing has thus far been able to steal that particular title from A Stray Drop of Blood. I love that its sequel has succeeded!

I talked to my mom on the phone yesterday in the mid-afternoon, at which point she was 86% done. But I didn't dwell on her finishing up too much, given that I was cleaning upholstery, painting, cleaning the kitchen, painting, trying to unclog the bathroom sink, painting... I had brain power only for "why is this stupid paint not covering?? Why did we not buy good paint?!" (which we then did, and oh the difference it made!) So when I got a message from her on Facebook last night, it was almost a surprise. An "Oh! Right. She was reading..." A very pleasant one.

My hubby David finished The Lost Heiress in the morning before we got to work, and I had totally spaced that--though he's the first to finish it, and I was pretty anxious for his opinion. When we were getting ready to go to sleep last night, he said, "This is your best version of this book yet." Keeping in mind that he's read at least three versions. Perhaps more.
Diane Kruger is a pretty good match for Brook
photo by Nicolas Genin via Wikimedia

To which I replied, "Well that's a good thing, given that it's the one I sold." LOL. He went on to add the icing to the cake by saying how I captured such depth, that all my characters were so well portrayed this time. That I really nailed Brook by making her more obviously French (or rather, Monegasque), that Justin is great with the extra moodiness, that Brice was so great this time around, and that giving her a father and taking out her uncles was spot-on for the story.

There's joy in hearing something like that--and there's relief. I can't speak for all writers, but I can tell you that I'm always anxious when I finish a book, before I hear back from my first readers on what works and what didn't. My instincts are usually decent with this sort of thing, but I'm too close to really know if "It feels strong" equals "it is strong."

Sometimes the two halves of a writer's life--the real world of cleaning and cooking and caring for kids, of remodeling old houses and waiting for test results on a little one's blood work; and the writer's world of characters and plot development and deadlines--clash. But sometimes they line up pretty well. June has thus far been a month of hard work. Trimming words from a manuscript, hauling junk from an old house. Yesterday was a day of good report on my two next books and on the progress at the house.

None of it is perfect. I still have cleaning out and moving around to do today in the physical world. I still have some tweaks to make to the manuscripts, some editing, some trimming. But it's always such a relief to know I'm on the right track!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Last Day of the Fashion Find Challenge!

Have you had a chance to come over to my Facebook event page and check out the fashions being posted daily? If not, GO! This has been so much fun. The ladies have found some amazing Edwardian gowns that will make you drool! My Pinterest page has filled out nicely. ;-)

And if you post on Facebook, please remember to come here and log your links--each one gets you an entry into the contest!

The winner will receive this lovely stack o' books.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, June 9, 2014

Word of the Week - Some Hazard Symbols

While we were in the doctor's office on Friday, we were musing about the biohazard symbol...and wondering what it meant and how it came to be chosen. So thanks to the wonders of smart phones, my hubby looked it up. ;-)
I'm just going to quote directly from the source on this one.

"We wanted something that was memorable but meaningless, so we could educate people as to what it means." In an article in Science in 1967, the symbol was presented as the new standard for all biological hazards ("biohazards"). The article explained that over 40 symbols were drawn up by Dow artists, and all of the symbols investigated had to meet a number of criteria: "(i) striking in form in order to draw immediate attention; (ii) unique and unambiguous, in order not to be confused with symbols used for other purposes; (iii) quickly recognizable and easily recalled; (iv) easily stenciled; (v) symmetrical, in order to appear identical from all angles of approach; and (vi) acceptable to groups of varying ethnic backgrounds." The chosen scored the best on nationwide testing for memorability.

Interesting, eh?

I'm fond of this one, LOL. Basically a drawing of a shout, it's just a warning or hazard sign--a rather generic one, used in Europe when a specific hazard doesn't fit. So you might see it on a road, for instance. Though apparently some places insist on a description sign posted under it so people know what they're to be exclaiming about.

And finally...
The skull and crossbones is a rather universal symbol for poisonous material. But because it's also on the Jolly Roger...and because playing pirates has become so much the U.S. the good ol' skull is often replaced with Mr. Yuk, because they're afraid the above will actually encourage children to play with it. Go figure!
And sheesh, what a bleak post, LOL. But hopefully as interesting to you as it was for me! Now go out and have a hazard-free day. ;-)

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Thoughtful About . . . In His Eyes

Reality and our minds' eyes very rarely agree. Depending on the type of person we are--and the situation--we tend to see things in extremes. As either terrible or grand, though it's really somewhere in between.

Right now we're doing some remodeling of our old house. And as I fill trash bags with all the stuff I didn't want to take with us when we moved, I see that old house as something like this:
Which is ironic, because in my brain, my house should look something like this:

But as I grumble and pack and strip wallpaper and scrub and carry boxes until my back screams at me, I can hear that whisper in the deep places of my heart. The one that says:

I gave you a roof over your head.
I gave you heat in the winter, even if you had to build it by hand in the stove.
I gave you air conditioning in the summer, even if you had to put it in your window.
So many of my children don't have that.
I gave you the means to buy all this stuff you now deem garbage. 
I gave you enough, always enough.
More, I gave you plenty. I gave you bounty.

 And I am shamed. And I have to pause and thank Him for providing. For always making sure what I have is sufficient. For the luxury I live in as an American. And I need to learn that what I make of those blessings is up to me. It's mine to say no when someone offers what I don't need, what will only clutter things up. It's mine to say thanks for what I have. It's mine to take care of it all and be a responsible steward.

I load all those boxes and bags into the back of our old clunker minivan that we bought for a song last year. And you know, sometimes I'm almost embarrassed to be seen in that thing. It's not sleek and stylish. It's not filled with cool features or storage compartments or the latest technology. It literally clunks every time we go around a turn. I often look at that old thing and see this:
 when what I want to be driving is this:

Then I hear that voice again.

You prayed to somehow have a van but no extra debt.
I you a van with no debt.
I gave you wheels.
I gave you storage space.
I gave you extra seats for hauling around nieces or friends.
I gave you this to keep you from spending money that I knew you wouldn’t have.
I took care of you with this old machine.

And I remember how I knew, knew when the offer for the van came, that the Lord was preparing us for changes. I knew, when I saw Him taking burdens of debt from us, that it was because we’d have to be free of it—which meant financial change on the horizon. And I thank Him again for taking such tremendous care of us.

So I scrub that old carpet. My husband crawls under it or leans into the hood to fix what’s broken. My kids scrabble in with all the love for that old clunker that they would give a shiny new car.

In April when I was on my writing retreat with my best friend, we listened to a couple workshop MP3s from past conferences. The amazing Susan Miesner said something that I found both hilarious and true. That she doesn’t know why they call them “royalty reports.” Because when she opens them up, she never feels like a princess.

For most of us, that is so, so true. I look at where my books fall in the scale, and I realize I’m not at the top. I’m not a bestseller. I’m not an award winner. In this business, it’s so, so easy to get discouraged when we compare ourselves to others. But oh, how well I know the whisper on this topic!

Your words are reaching My children.
You’re telling the stories I plant in your mind.
Publishers invest in you.
Readers email you.
I gave you your dreams.

I am humbled, and so very grateful. I praise Him for this opportunity, and I put my nose to the grindstone and work as hard as I possibly can to be faithful to this blessing.

But then…then there are the times we all know so well. The times when we look in the mirror.

I’ve always been oddly confident in my appearance. I honestly don’t know why. I’m not a super model by any stretch, my body is far from perfect. I can no longer fit in those size 2 clothes I still had in the back of my closet. I’m not willing to spend hours each day exercising or give up the foods I most love. So yeah, my figure has changed over the years. It’s not exactly what I want it to be. I still have a bump on my nose, and my complexion hasn’t been clear since I was 10. But I’ve always thought it’s more about how I feel than anything. So I make sure I feel great in whatever clothes I buy. I’ll change my outfit five times even on days I’m not leaving the house, because I need to feel right in whatever I’m wearing on a given day. I like to think I carry myself with confidence that people notice more than my actual assets or flaws.

I don’t always like the reality that looks back at me in the mirror. I get self-conscience when I’m stuck wearing clothes that don’t make me feel like a million bucks. I hate it when makeup won’t cover the flaws. Or when an adorable outfit in the store doesn’t fit.

But I know that God doesn’t see that either. I know I’m His daughter, precious in His sight. And it’s that whisper that matters most. It’s what He sees there that is so very important.

I want Him to look at me and say:

You have a spirit that seeks me.
You answer when I call.
You love despite the risks.
You feed those who are hungry.
You clothe those who are naked.
You nurture even when you hurt.
You forgive when it’s tempting to cling to offense.
You sacrifice when I ask you to.
You teach your children, My children, to love Me.
You speak the words I ask you to speak.
You seek My reward above man’s.
You are My daughter—well done, faithful servant.

If that is my goal, if that is my achievement in life, then I’ve lived a life worthwhile. And then it doesn’t matter what I wear or what I drive or where I live. It doesn’t matter what I have or what I don’t. It doesn’t matter what others say, though I still pray they see Him in me.

What matters is that, in His eyes, I’m more than the sum of my parts. Because I have Him in me.

Masnion photo credit: Werner Kunz via photopin cc
Rusted car photo credit: GOC53 via photopin cc

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Remember When . . . The Challenge Was On!

I have less than a month until The Lost Heiress must be turned into my editor at Bethany House. And though I'm distracted with moving, I'm also excited. Especially as my hubby reads the manuscript and says lovely things like "When did you get so good at nuance?" and "You really pulled off making her seem French this time around." and "You know, the crazy thing is that I don't feel like I've read this before." (even though he's read about three different versions of it. Ahh... ;-)

So as I work on my final round of pre-turning-it-in edits, giving extraordinary amounts of attention to every...single...line, I find myself occasionally going back to my Pinterest board for the book for a little inspiration.

And I realize I don't have nearly enough fabulous fashion pictured there. ;-) I mean, there are quite a few...but not enough. Never enough!

Hence the challenge. You need a distraction, right? Well here you go. Spend a few minutes looking up Edwardian fashion for me, and you could win books, books, and more books!

Here's how it works.

1.) Search for Edwardian gowns/dresses, between 1910 and 1913
2.) Go the Facebook events page (click here) and post your link
3.) Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win a stack o' books!

What books, you ask? Fabulous question. See, as I was stacking my oh-so-beautiful shelves on Monday...
...I discovered that I somehow ended up with duplicates of quite a few amazing books. So rather than take up precious space on my shelves, I'm giving away the lot! There will be ONE WINNER (because I can barely get one box into the mail, much less 8) of this lot, which includes:

A Hope Undaunted by Julie Lessman
Heart's Safe Passage by Laure Alice Eakes
A Necessary Deception by Laurie Alice Eakes
The Master's Wall by Sandi Rog
To Die For by Sandra Byrd
The Blue Enchantress by MaryLu Tyndall
Surrender the Dawn by MaryLu Tyndall

So get searching, have fun, share (you can do this once a day!) for the next week, and maybe you'll win!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, June 2, 2014

Word of the Week - Hang

A place at which I love to hang out...
Seascape by William Trost Richards, 1901

I looked this word up the other day to make sure "get the hang of it" would be an appropriate phrase to use in a book set in 1911--and discovered that there are a plethora of hang uses with surprising elements!

The one in question dates from 1834--and was a primarily American use of the word for a great many years.

But it was the verb usages that surprised me. The "teen slang" sense of hang that means "spend time" dates from 1951--which is about what I'd expect. But did you know that hang out is from 1811?? I had no idea it was so old! And hang around, meaning "idle, loiter," is from 1830. Another one that was way older than I thought!