Monday, March 30, 2015

Word of the Week - Hello

I can't tell you how many times I've looked up the etymology of hello...but for some reason, I've never shared. Obviously time to remedy that!

So the life of hello began with Old High German's hala, hola. It was an imperative form of halon, holon, which meant "to fetch." It was what people cried out to ferry boat captains to get them to pick one up.

English adopted it as early as the 1400s, using it as an exclamation meant to attract attention, spelling it holla, or hollo. But they didn't stop there--they also came up with a "bewildering" amount of other forms, like:


Hello didn't catch on among the British for most of history.  Hullo became the standard there, while in the 1880s, America adopted hello as their standard form. It rocketed to the forefront of American speech with the advent of the telephone. Alexander Graham Bell and his cohorts agreed there should be a standard greeting when answering the phone. Bell wanted "ahoy" (which I think is super fun, so I've been known to answer like that when it's my hubby calling), but "hello" won out.

And now hello is quite common in Britain:

Hello, formerly an Americanism, is now nearly as common as hullo in Britain (Say who you are; do not just say 'hello' is the warning given in our telephone directories) and the Englishman cannot be expected to give up the right to say hello if he likes it better than his native hullo. [H.W. Fowler, "A Dictionary of Modern English Usage," 1926]

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Thoughtful About . . . A Prayer Request

The Black Sea coast in Bulgaria

Since we began using Sonlight curriculum for our homeschooling when Xoe was in 1st grade, we've read a lot of missionary stories--and honestly, those stories are some of the best things we've read (in my opinion), even amidst all the literature I absolutely adore.

Maybe it's because I love hearing how the light of Christ has been shone around the world. Maybe it's because I'm always awed at hearing how He protects and provides for those living out the Great Commission. Maybe it's because even the losses and sacrifices and martyrs still portray His greatness.

I've never felt the call to go into foreign missions myself, much as I admire those who do. My mission field is behind a computer, using the written word, and it's something I'm passionate about--passionate in the true sense, something I'm willing to suffer for (which is where passion comes from). But I take great joy in supporting those missionaries who do go out into the world.

Today, I'm sending off my husband on a missions trip. He's traveling with a family that has long been friends of mine. They were full time missionaries for much of my growing-up years, and now the couple feel the call to return to Bulgaria, where they served for several years before. David is going along to try to help them find business opportunities to help employ the people in the gypsy village they hope to call home, and to provide resources for this couple too.

You may recall my post a few months ago about Stolen Blessings--these are the same people, the same general area in Bulgaria.

And so, I ask today that you pray. Pray for smooth travels into Eastern Europe. Pray for open doors where they're meant to stride through and closed doors where they're not. Pray for supernatural understanding. For wisdom. For knowledge. For the glory of the Lord to show up in ways no one expected. For divine appointments and blessings unforeseen. And of course, for safe, uneventful travels back home again.

The kids and I will be here, carrying on with business as usual. And praying. Lots. =) Thanks so much for joining me in those prayers!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Remember When . . . George Washington Was Bullet-Proof?

It's the fourth Wednesday of the month...which means my turn on Colonial Quills!

Today, I'm sharing a really cool and inspiring story about a close call George Washington had during the French and Indian War...and how the hand of God was acknowledged by all to have preserved and protected him on that gruesome day.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Word of the week - Planetarium

My not-so-fabulous shot of the earth as seen at FSU's planetarium

Last week, we were super excited to get to visit a local university and see the planetarium with our homeschool group. And of course, this being my family, the night before we were talking about the word.

Rowyn (7) said, "Hey, I know why it's called it called planetarium. Because we see planets!"

"But what about the arium part?" Xoe (9) asked.

"Hmm," I said. "What do we think it could mean?"

Yes, I'm raising nerds, and I'm proud of it. ;-) They reasoned that -arium must mean something about an area. And we came up with some other words that have it, like aquarium (see, an area that holds water!), terrarium (an area that holds...terra? [Me: that means earth]), solarium (an area for solar? Oh wait, solar power means the sun--how can a place hold the sun? Ohhhhhh...I get it).

But just to be sure, we looked it up when we got home--that conversation had taken place in the car on the way home from ballet. Sure enough -arium is Latin for "a place for." And planterium has been around since 1734!

Yep, we felt pretty darn smart. And thoroughly enjoyed our time at the area for planets. ;-)

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Thoughtful About . . . Wisdom and Knowledge

I've always known there was a distinction between wisdom and knowledge. There is, after all, a reason they're listed as two separate spiritual gifts. A reason they have two different words. And while I've long had a basic idea of that difference, I hadn't fully thought it through until this past weekend.

It started when a list I belong to invited everyone to take a look at this blog, which claims that the church is largely anti-intellectual. The part I found most interesting was more than America as a whole can be anti-intellectual. By which I mean, we put great stock in experts, in facts, in hard knowledge...but not so much, anymore, in those who pursue knowledge for its own sake. That we love experts put pooh-pooh scholars.

I consider myself a scholar--I love learning, and I don't love learning just a particular field for a particular purpose. I just love learning. I love the discovery process, I love the way knew information makes me pause and think and reflect and reexamine all I once thought I knew. But that certainly isn't the way most schools teach kids to think these days, and so it's not where society's focus has turned. We as a whole aren't interested anymore in the what ifs, we're only interested in the Cold, Hard Facts.

But that's what led me to this distinction--there's no such thing as Cold, Hard Facts. Facts can change as knowledge grows. (Hello, eggs. Are you good for me this year or not?? And Pluto, I do so miss counting you as a planet...) As definitions change. As new information comes to light.

Knowledge is supposed to change as it grows. That's the beauty of it. That because we can stand on the shoulders of those who came and discovered before, we can reach new heights. New understanding. We can challenge old "facts" and find new ones. In my sophomore year of college, we read a lot of Aristotle, and one of the translations of the Metaphysics that most stuck with me was by one of our tutors [professors], Joe Sachs. He translated a certain line as "All men by nature stretch themselves out toward knowing."

That really hits the truth of the human condition, and it really captures what Aristotle was trying to say. It's not that we all know. It's not that we all reach toward knowledge. But we do all, naturally, stretch ourselves toward the process of figuring things out. But when society starts pooh-poohing the process and instead only emphasizes the "facts"...

It ain't good, folks. Discovery grinds to a halt, and you end up with a generation of parrots, capable only of telling us what other people thought and unable to think for themselves.

So that's knowledge. But wisdom...wisdom is something altogether different. Wisdom does not change with time. You can't shed new light on moral Truths and have them change. Right is still right. Wrong is still wrong, even after millennia of changing facts.

Wisdom is what God most often supernaturally reveals to people. Oh, we see in Daniel where He gave him the gift of knowledge, and it's listed in the New Testament among the gifts too. I think that's really, incredibly awesome. But when we pray, it's rare that God plops a new fact into our laps. What He does give us, regularly, is understanding of the human condition. Of moral truths. Of spiritual precepts.

This is wisdom. And this is deserving of all sorts of capital letters. Truth. Justice. Right. Wrong. Ideals. Principles.

But there's a very real difference between biblical wisdom and worldly wisdom, which is addressed many times in the Bible. Worldly wisdom says, "Might equals right. If you suffer, you're being punished. If you prosper, you must be just and good." Godly wisdom says, "Even when my enemies have me hemmed in all about, even when my world crumbles around me, I'll trust in my Salvation. I will follow His will, even when the world calls me a fool."

Worldly wisdom says, "There is no Right and Wrong. There's right for me, right for and let live." Godly wisdom says, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life."

The Bible, beautifully, isn't a treatise. It's not filled with knowledge alone--if it was, it would expire. It would go out of date. It could be termed wrong. But it can't, and it isn't, because it deals with the unchanging and unchagable.

Oh, the world tries to change that too. They try to claim that wisdom is like knowledge--mutable and shifting. And when the world tries to do that...

It really ain't good folks.

But understanding the distinction is our first step toward preserving each in its rightful place. And hey, when we do that...we've all got a bit of the scholar going on. ;-)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Remember When . . . I Needed an Adjective?

I mentioned this briefly last week, when I was sharing the bling for my Ladies of the Manor Series. ;-) But I'd like to find a new adjective to describe my last heroine for the series.

In book 1, we have The Lost Heiress. "Lost" describes what Brook has been for too long...and what she fears being known as by the populace at large. At one point there's an exchange that goes something like this (I'm paraphrasing myself, LOL).

Brook - "That's what they'll all know me as now. 'The lost heiress.'"
Justin - "You are an heiress, Brook. You can't expect them not to notice."
Brook - "But for too long I was just...lost."

Love being able to work my titles in. ;-) 
This photo of Emma Watson is what I sent to Bethany House
as my inspiration for Rowena. Can't wait to see the model they choose for her!

In book 2, Rowena is most assuredly The Reluctant Duchess. She doesn't want to marry the hero but has little choice. To her own mind, she doesn't know how to be a duchess--or at least, not his duchess. She has been brought up to inherit a Highland earldom (women could inherit titles in Scotland), but Brice, the Duke of Nottingham, belongs to a fashionable set that have always entertained themselves by poking fun at Rowena with her "backwards, backwater ways." Reluctant...aye, to say the least.

So you see, both adjectives for the first 2 books appeal to the characters' fears. Their insecurities. The thing they have to overcome.

At the moment, the adjective I gave Bethany House for my third heroine, Ella, is waiting...but it's not quite right, and my editor invited me to come up with some alternatives as I'm writing it. I'd love some suggestions!

Because waiting is one of her strengths, not her fear. Not that I have to do a fear exactly, but I'd like a stronger, more compelling word. Of course, first you have to know a bit about Ella and her circumstances.
This shot from the fabulous is such a great Ella
(used with permission - click on photo for link)

Ella is an optimist. Not just your run-of-the-mill optimist, but an Olympic-medal-worthy optimist. It's her sport, her event, her defining characteristic. When shadows come in her life--and trust me, they have--she clings all the tighter to faith and to the deep-set belief that God will work out even this. Then she goes and falls in love with who everyone in her life deems the wrong man.

He's got a past--a selfish one. His first marriage was for money, pure and simple, and everyone is convinced his chose his heiress-wife because she was sickly and would soon die, leaving him free to pursue someone else. The worst part? Everyone's right. In part. But he's changed through his marriage, through his wife's death, and now through raising a child on his own. He's changed...but he's still learning. And from his eyes, the world's a pretty hopeless place, especially when old, ill-chosen friends show up at his door and threaten his daughter if he doesn't help them commit a crime...against Ella.

He warns her away--she doesn't listen. He claims he doesn't care about her--she knows well he means the opposite. The more he pushes, the tighter she holds to what she knows in her heart is true. He needs her, and she needs him.

What one word can convey that? The "lady" part of the title will likely stay put, as it's the only suitable word to describe her. As the daughter of a duke (now the sister of one, since her brother has inherited), Ella has no title of her own, just the courtesy "Lady Ella." She is, quite simply, a lady. So let's focus on the adjective. Something that might speak to her fears, but which harkens to the challenge she faces--and in this case, most likely to the quality that helps her overcome it.

I've toyed with:


Do you like any of those? Or do you have other suggestions???

Monday, March 16, 2015

Word of the Week - Spunky

Yesterday, my parents were describing a relative, and they said she was "feisty." Naturally, I had to pipe in with where that word came from (click here for that Word of the Week), and how I just haven't been able to use it ever since discovering its origins.

So my mom asked, "Well then, what about spunky? What are its origins?" I didn't know. So of course, I had to look it up. ;-)

Spunky is a word from 1786 meaning "courageous, spirited," coming directly from spunk, which dates from 1773 with the meaning of "courage, pluck, mettle." But the word itself is from the 1500s, its original meaning being that of "a spark." It's a Scottish word that has its roots in tinder, and I rather like that origin--that courage comes from a word used for what starts a fire. Muuuuuuch better than feisty. ;-)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Thoughtful About . . . Sacrifices and Blessings

Last week we wrapped up the Bible study we'd been doing on Sacred Parenting--and the last session was on how parenting is all about sacrificial love, which teaches us what it is. A crucial step in the Christian faith, which is built on sacrifice. It was a great study, and in our discussion afterward, we touched on a lot of great aspects of the subject.

But what really struck me the most is the idea that our idea of sacrifices change over time. The author of the book used the example of a tired dad walking through the mall with his small daughter, who said, "Will you carry me, Daddy? My legs are tired." He could tell the dad was tired too, but sighed and picked up his little girl. Gary (the author) found himself longing for those days--his youngest was 12. That time of his life was over, and though it was exhausting at the time, he missed it.

How true is that, so often?

It made me think of when my babies were still babies. Rowyn especially would wake up every night. I'm talking, for four years. Every night, at some point or another, he would cry. Every night, I would have to tromp, exhausted, down those stairs to his room. I'd scoop him up. I'd ease down into the old, creaking rocking chair. He'd cuddle in. I'd close my eyes.

There were nights I was so tired that I fell asleep sitting up in that old wooden rocker (not the soft, plush kind with cushions, mind you--the wooden kind). There were nights when I cried along with him because I just needed sleep, and he wouldn't grant me that. There were nights when I seriously wondered if this kid would ever sleep through the night.

But now I think back on how many times God met me there in the hushed bedroom of my little boy, in the soft shadows of night. I remember how many times I crawled up into the lap of God, just as Rowyn crawled up into mine. I remember how many times I held him, praying him back to sleep...and then, after I saw his eyelids were firmly closed, I held him just a little longer--because I wasn't ready yet to put him back down, even though that was what my goal had been.

And I realize that those things that were a sacrifice--of our time, our energy, our very sanity--became a blessing. It wasn't that a blessing came from them, though certainly that happens sometimes. But it's the thing itself, that action, that act of sacrificing, that we miss when the season has passed by. We miss the time spent giving to another. We miss the act of giving of ourselves.

It doesn't stop the next sacrifice from hurting. It's supposed to hurt, to cost us something. That's why it's a sacrifice. It grows us, it stretches us, it makes us ache with it. But it's necessary. Because without sacrifice, what is our faith? If we don't give to others, why did Jesus give up everything for us?

There are times when I really, really don't feel up to fulfilling that obligation I agreed to. There are times when I really, really don't want to pause my work to make another cheese sandwich. There are times when I really, really don't think I have the strength to give up one more thing.

There are times when I don't want to sing to the Lord. When I don't want to worship. When I don't want to praise. Because it hurts

That's when we bring the sacrifice of praise. Of money. Of time. Of energy.

And God meets us there. He takes our sacrifices, and He returns them to us filled up with love. So that, looking back, we realize that that obligation became the thing we looked forward to. That we love cooking for our families. That we had just as much without that money as we would have had with it. That through praising God, the empty places inside were filled up.

The sacrifices didn't just yield blessings. They are blessings.

What are you sacrificing today? For me, it's time. And I'm going to stop right now and praise Him for asking it of me. Knowing that the sacrifice is sweet.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Remember When . . . They Were All Blinged Out?

In my upcoming Ladies of the Manor Series with Bethany House, my main characters are largely comprised of the British nobility. And because of certain reasons, jewelry comes up rather often. For book covers and whatnot I've had to search out photos, so I thought it would be fun to share some of my visual aids here. =)

In book 1, The Lost Heiress, Brook has a necklace she wears all the time. It's Victorian in its styling, with a gold filigree connecting two strands of pearls, with two dangling pearls from the filigree. Something sorta-kinda like this, though this image isn't awesome.
But she inherits quite a bit more jewelry from her mother too. Like a ruby and diamond bracelet.,d.eXY&psig=AFQjCNFzl3ALgpvC3hOoUVy97JRrvTQcRw&ust=1425912357811741

And an emerald and diamond necklace.,d.eXY&psig=AFQjCNFwRQJh7tuhtHng5NOskKW-ST1fug&ust=1425912472258175

In book 2, The Reluctant Duchess, Rowena brings only one substantial piece of jewelry with her--a brooch with her family plaid.
She soon receives, however, the legendary Sussex ruby set. Which primarily features a ruby necklace that I envision to look something like this.
There's a matching bracelet, but rather than those small earrings featured with this set (which is actually red crystals and not rubies, but you know--we're just going for style here, LOL), I instead describe a dangling set...which Rowena can't wear, not having pierced ears.

The earrings will, however, be borrowed by my heroine for book 3, Ella. (The book is tentatively titled The Waiting Lady, though that will likely change. Still noodling stronger, more provocative words than "Waiting"--ideas???) Anyhoo. I describe the earrings as having 3 rubies on each one, dangling in tiers. Kinda like these, though with an extra level.
Having not actually, ahem, written any of book 3 yet, I don't know what other bling Lady Ella might end up with. ;-) But I have a definite love for the pretty baubles, so you can be sure something will come up. =)

Monday, March 9, 2015

Word of the Week - Normalcy V Normality

This one made me go, "Ha! Take that, everyone who uses the word I don't like!" ;-)

See, I was always a normality girl. But more and more often I'd begun hearing normalcy. And it drove me batty. Here, my friends, is why.

Normality itself is a relatively new word, entering the written world of English in only 1849. It most likely came from the French normalité, which became a borrowed word in 1834. Meaning exactly what you'd expect.

Normalcy, however, dates from 1857. And what, you ask, did it mean? "Being at right angles." It's a mathematical term! In the 1920s President Harding used it in place of normality in a speech describing the political situation and was liberally made fun of for his incompetency with speaking. Since then it has edged its way in more and more, but "the word prefered by purists [read: Roseanna, LOL] for "a normal situation" is normality."

So there. ;-)

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Thoughtful About . . . Quite a Week!

It's been a crazy-busy week (aren't they all?), and I wanted to take today to regroup, draw your attention to some things, and...well, frankly, go teach the canal class at my kids' homeschool group. ;-)

First of all, I want to announce the launch of the website for Roseanna White Designs! I finally bit the bullet and built a page specifically for my designing business. My favorite feature of the website is on the homepage--if you scroll down, there's a testimonials section where the quote pops up as you hover over the thumbnail image that it goes with. Super fun!

Another fun aspect that I hope will set it apart from some other websites is my Behind the Design blog that's attached--and which will have all the behind-the-scenes posts I do here too. =)

But there was something else that launched this week too--Dauntless, the young adult medieval romance/adventure written by my good friend, critique partner, and fellow editor at WhiteFire, Dina Sleiman!

To celebrate the launch, Bethany House is offering a truly awesome giveaway, which includes as first prize a cute heart-and-arrow necklace and a $250 Amazon gift card (woot!), and as second prize, a bow and arrow set and a leather backpack! Check out the giveaway!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Cover Design - Out of the Ashes by Sandi Rog

I've been having a blast with designing--no secret, I know--and I owe a lot of my new business to one person: Sandi Rog. Sandi has been a friend for years, though we've only met in person once. We met through a historical group that shot off from ACFW, focusing on books set in Europe. Became friends. When Jewel of Persia was about ready to debut, I asked Sandi if she would edit it for me, knowing she was a freelance editor. That was, unfortunately, right about the time she discovered she had cancer. She hadn't been diagnosed yet, but the symptoms were appearing. She persevered on that edit and had her best friend (a fellow editor) help out too, because she takes her promises seriously.

Since those days, WhiteFire has published one of Sandi's books, her best friend has become our non-fiction editor, and that simple online friendship has deepened and grown. And Sandi has become one of my most vocal cheerleaders when it comes to my designing. She recommends me to absolutely everyone, and quite a few of those everyones follow her advice. So a big, big thanks to Sandi!

Naturally then, when she asked if I would design a cover for a novella she was working on--the first book she's written since cancer--I said, "Of course!"

And so we got to work. =) The book is set in the late Victorian era and is called Out of the Ashes--those ashes being from the Great Chicago Fire. Sandi described her heroine for me and said she wanted her in a nice dress.

Sometimes I start with a model. But in this case, I knew the tricky part would be clothing, so I actually started with a public domain image of a dress from the correct era.
I really liked the detail on the back of this, and the dress has a nice sheen, which denotes it as an evening gown, despite the long sleeves. I knew Sandi wanted the dress to be blue, but for now, I was just happy to find a gown. I flipped it and deleted the background.
Then came the process of making the dress blue--Sandi had specified royal blue, so I knew what my goal was. I did this by going into Layer / Adjustments / Color Balance...several times. Increasing the "blue" each time until I ended up with this.

 Then came finding a person to put into the dress. =) As usual, I searched for a bride that fit her heroine's description, since they often have their hair up. I also needed one in a very particular pose, to fit into the dress. I found this one relatively quickly.
As usual, my first step with her was to delete all the background--and in this case, her dress.
Don't you just love this step? So funny to see someone missing their body, LOL. So then we play dress up, and I put the girl behind the now-blue dress to see how they line up.
At this point I also sized her to fill the page but leave room for a background. Of course, we were missing a hand...a problem, but I would deal with that later, I decided. For now, I was just pleased that the head and neck were at the right angle to be coming out of that dress. Yay! So I went searching for a background. I didn't know how literal the "ashes" part was, but I decided to go for some nice ruins and chose this background.
Then made it more mysterious (woooooo) by making it night.
Not bad...but I added some smoke effects. 'Cause you know. Fire. Ashes. Smoke...
(This is just a free smoke texture that some lovely designer offered to other designers.) I liked how this obscured the background...but she looked weird in front of it like that. So I duplicated the layer, moved it in front of her, and deleted all but a wisp.

Better! I really liked this, other than the still-missing hand. ;-) So I added a title in the font hilariously called "The Last Font I'm Wasting on You" (with a script for the "little words"). And Sandi's name, which combines two fonts--The Alistaren Beta for the first letters, and plain ol' Times New Roman for everything else.
The hand was still missing, but I went ahead and sent this to Sandi for an initial reaction. Which was that she loved it--and wanted me to save that background and smokiness for a later book in the series--but this one needed to be in a ballroom. Brightly lit. Oops, LOL. She gave me some direction on said ballroom--she wanted stairs--and off I went to search it out. You'd be surprised how few of these there are! But I eventually found this one.

Quite a different feel, eh? ;-) Quick substitution, and I got this.
In this version, I did a quick alteration on the dress, just to see what we could do about that hand...and make it look more traditionally "evening." By simply deleting the sleeves and the part of the dress covering her arm, I suddenly had a realistic pose. I sent it again to Sandi, who asked me to keep the background out of the blue tones and wanted some more alterations on the dress.

In hunting down other dresses from the era I love, I came across my all-time favorite Worth gown.

I'm not sure I can adequately express how much I adore this dress, LOL. And it's even from a similar angle. So I decided to borrow some of the styling queues for my adjustments and created a similar arm/neckline area.
This looked promising! So I redressed my lovely lady, kept the original tones of the photos, added just a touch of bluing at the bottom to make her name stand out, a glow around "Ashes" for the same reason...and we had it.

Sandi was in love, and so was I. Absolutely adore how this one turned out...even if redesigning that dress did stretch my abilities. =) Feedback thus far has been very positive, and everyone agrees that it screams "Christian historical romance!" which is exactly what we want it to do.

Sandi posted a description of the story here.

Whatcha think?

Monday, March 2, 2015

Word of the Week - Shucks

I say it a lot, just to be cute. Aw, shucks. Every time I type it, I add an imaginary foot shuffle. No doubt inspired from some cartoon.

But it never occurred to me to wonder where it came from. When I looked it up, it was kinda a "duh" moment.

Appearing in writing in 1847 in two different sources, shucks comes directly from shuck. I'm familiar with shuck as a verb--shucking corn, shucking oysters. Said verb is from 1819. The noun actually predates it by several hundred years, tracing its appearance back to the 1670s and meaning "a pod, a shell." Something discarded.

The interjection Shucks! then comes from this idea of it being a toss-away. It's kind of like saying, "Nonsense." or "It's nothing." One of those first appearances in 1847 was actually "not worth shucks."

So there we have it. =) Hope everyone has a great first week of March...though as usual, the end of February took me totally by surprise.