Monday, May 21, 2018

Word of the Week - Nice

Nice. Such a simple word, so well known...and so surprising! I happened to click onto it on because it was a trending word, and I was so shocked to see its evolution!

Did you know that nice used to mean "foolish, stupid, senseless"? Apparently it's from the Latin nescius, which is literally "not-knowing." (Same root as science.) 

Etymologists are struck by the development of this word. From that "foolish" use in the 1200s, the earliest days of English, it progressed to "timid" round about 1300, to "fussy, fastidious" by the end of the century, then to "dainty, delicate" around 1400. By 1500 it had moved into a meaning of "precise, careful" and stayed with that until the mid 1700s, when it came to mean "agreeable, delightful."  By the early-to-mid 1800s it could also be applied to people in a sense of "kind, thoughtful"--of course, those last two meanings are still in use today...but who knew that it started out meaning something so different?

The transformation is so big that many times when we read writings from the 1500s and 1600s, it's impossible to tell which meaning the author intended!

Friday, May 18, 2018

Fridays from the Archives - Rejections

God's blessings never cease to amaze and inspire me. Looking back over the last 8 years, and seeing where each step has brought me. Of course, it wasn't all easy breezy, but knowing that the Lord brought me to the right place in HIS time, nothing gets better than that.

Original post published on 2/4/2010

Yesterday morning, I received what every author dreads: a rejection. And this isn't your run-of-the-mill, "Thanks, but after reading the proposal, it's not what we're looking for." This comes after a year of encouragement, of high praise, and of a statement that they wanted it and would have a letter of intent to me "soon."

"Soon" somehow became, "sorry." Which makes Roseanna go "sigh" and "sniffle" and even a short "sob" before I get a grip on myself.

I'm an old friend with rejection. I've been submitting manuscripts since I was fourteen years old, so I've obviously gotten my fair share. Everything from the boiler-plate "thanks but no thanks" letters to some very personal, very encouraging apologies. That's what this one was. The editor loved the story and wants to work with me, but their line's going in a different direction. I understand that. Really I do. And I appreciate that she offered to talk with me about coming up with another idea.

But that doesn't make it any easier, you know? For a year, my hopes have been so high on this project. I really, truly believed that this was my "given," that the encouragement meant I could count on it. But when an optimist like me gets news like this . . . well, there's some deflation. There's a headache. There's some glumness in a royal shade of blue.

And there's a question of, "What was the point of this, Lord? I know You have a purpose for me, for every bump, for every bruise. I know there's a reason this was dragged out so long only to end in a disheartening 'no.' So if You could just let me know what that is . . . ?"

There's no magic cure for disappointment, no Band-aid you can put on it, no steps you can follow to put it neatly behind you and keep plugging away. But still, I woke up today feeling okay. Happy, even. Because yesterday I saw the true mettle of the people I love. My friends not only rallied around me with cheer and encouragement and lots of, "You're too talented not to get picked up soon by a big house!" they had me laughing. They had the optimist in me quickly resurging.

My hubby and I ended up going out for a much-needed date last night, too, and talking to him is always a balm on my soul. I ended my day yesterday knowing that even if life makes us cry now and then, we serve a God who dries our tears. So thank you, Lord, for wrapping your arms around me. And thank you, my awesome friends, for being those arms.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Book Cover Design - Harbor Secrets by Melody Carlson

At this point in time, I have designed more covers for Melody Carlson than any other author--something I certainly wouldn't have imagined I could claim a few years ago, LOL. But given that she now has sixteen books out with WhiteFire and more in the works...yep. That's a lot of covers. 😀

Her upcoming series with us is set in 1915 Oregon, so I rubbed my hands together in anticipation over this one. It's an era I obviously know well in terms of fashion, having researched it for years. Which of course means I also knew how hard it was to find stock images that get it right.

But I had a secret weapon up my sleeve when I sat down to tackle the series concept for this one--Matti's Millinery. I'd contacted this wonderful seamstress's site before about the possibility of using their images, and I knew they were willing to chat, were reasonably priced, and had some great Edwardian selections. So after some conversations with them and Melody, I did indeed find a model who would work perfectly for Anna, the heroine of Melody's new Legacy of Sunset Cove series. Yay!

The first book in the series is Harbor Secrets. Newspaperwoman Anna McDowell finally goes home to Sunset Cove with her teenage daughter after running off to get married as a young woman--but only because she receives word that her father has suffered a stroke. Desperate to make things right with him before its too late, Anna goes back to the idyllic coastal town only to discover it's not so idyllic anymore. Oregon's statewide prohibition has brought trouble to the town in the form of rum runners. Can Anna, with her investigative reporter's instincts, keep her father's newspaper afloat and help weed out the troublemakers from Sunset Cove?

For this first cover in the series, Melody said she'd like to see the character from behind, small and distant rather than in the foreground. That means I'd need full-length images of the model, which Matti's Millinery did thankfully have.

This was our favorite for this first book.

It's really perfect. Anna, a no-nonsense businesswoman in many ways, frequently wears suits that are nearly masculine in style, so this jacket is perfect. And even the hair color is right! Pleased that I had the oh-so-important model figured out, I turned to backgrounds.

Each book in the series will feature a beautiful Oregon coast scene. For Harbor Secrets, I really liked this one.

Sizing it for the book cover--which involved stretching the sky a bit--gives us this.

Then we add the model. Eagle eyes may notice that I flipped her around so she's facing the water and the largest portion of the cover, and also that I deleted the hand that had been positioned on the column, cutting it instead at the elbow, so it looks like both of her arms are in front of her.

This is a fine foundation, but I wasn't wild about having the dress be brown, so I decided to make it a teal/blue to better coordinate with the water color.

So this is good...but I wanted the cover to be a bit moody, to better hint at the mystery Anna is out to solve. Step one was to add the Sutro filter.

And then I also added some fog and haze, using the Pretty Photoshop Actions fog applicator.

I was loving that, so it was time to turn to the title. I wanted to go art deco, to really solidify the era feel, and I tried out So. Many. Fonts. Eventually I decided on Carlton. Here it is with just the title...

Obviously needs something more, so I decided to add some art deco elements to frame it.

That's better! Plus it gave me a good place to put the series name and number, just on the top and bottom...

Nearly there! The only thing left to do was add Melody's name. And voila! The finished cover!

So there we have it! A cover that hints at mystery, establishes the era, and features a small-sized heroine from behind, as Melody requested. She loved how it turned out, and so did I! What do you think?

A B O U T   T H E   B O O K

A Peaceful Coastal Town...Threatened by a Storm of Secrets

It's 1916 when newspaper woman Anna McDowell learns her estranged father has suffered a stroke. Deciding it's time to repair bridges, Anna packs up her precocious adolescent daughter and heads for her hometown in Sunset Cove, Oregon.

Although much has changed since the turn of the century, some things haven't. Anna finds the staff of her father's paper not exactly eager to welcome a woman into the editor-in-chief role, but her father insists he wants her at the helm. Anna is quickly pulled into the charming town and her new position...but just as quickly learns this seaside getaway harbors some dark and dangerous secrets.

With Oregon's new statewide prohibition in effect, crime has crept along the seacoast and invaded even idyllic Sunset Cove. Anna only meant to get to know her father again over the summer, but instead she finds herself rooting out the biggest story the town has ever seen and trying to keep her daughter safe from it all.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Updated Privacy Policy and Disclosures

Hello Reader Friends!

I just wanted to write a little note to update you all on the Privacy Policy and Disclosures for this website. You can find the policy HERE. For future reference, this page is located at the bottom of the blog page (just scroll all the way down). If you have ANY questions regarding this information, I would be more than happy to chat with you. 

Please know that I take your privacy rights very seriously. I never share information with anyone without prior consent. And if at any time, you wish to remove your information from the list, all you have to do is unsubscribe. 

May you be blessed,

Monday, May 14, 2018

Word of the Week - Pedestrian

If you've been hanging around my blog since 2011 (there are a few of you--you know who you are, LOL), then you may remember that I've featured this word before. And you may remember it solely because it was first ever Word of the Week.

But since so many of my readers have changed, I thought it would be fun to travel back in time 7.5 years and share again the word that started it all on my blog! I'd looked it up partly out of curiosity, to see which of the two meanings had come first, and was so surprised by what I'd learned that I shared it on Facebook. Where my friends were also so surprised that they suggested I start a blog with such things. Who knew it would still be going strong now?

So, pedestrian.

We all know its two meanings: "dull, prosaic," and "someone who travels by foot."

My patented Roseanna-logic insisted that the "walker" definition ought to have come first, given that it has ped (=foot) in the root.

But no! Its first recorded use is in 1716, where it meant "dull, prosaic," in reference to literature. Why? Because if a piece of writing was "of the foot" then it was clearly as opposite as it could be of what it ought to have been--"of the mind."

It wasn't until the 1790s that it took on its more literal meaning of someone traveling by foot. Largely because by this time the primary adjective was already well in use and it just made sense. Also, because it did contrast nicely with equestrian.

So there you go, a look back for all you newcomers of where the blog series began. ;-)

Friday, May 11, 2018

Fridays from the Archives - Those Twisty Paths

Every year, this time rolls around again. When finalists are announced in a slew of different awards. And every year, I think back to this post I wrote 6 years ago. I decided it would be a fine one to repost this Friday.

Because though in some ways it seems pretty much everything has changed since 2012, in other ways, nothing has at all. This road of publication--this road of life, really, where we strive so hard for a goal--is never the straight shot we think it should be. God leads us where He needs us to go to grow closer to Him.

And usually, that's a pretty twisty path...

Original post published 4/19/2012

Last night the semi-finalists of the Genesis Contest (for unpublished authors) were announced. On Monday, the nominees for the Christy (Christian Fiction's most prestigious award) went public. And as award season gets into full swing, I imagine we'll see many more lists of potential winners and the results themselves.

I know quite a few of my readers are writers, so I wanted to talk about this today. And if you're not a writer, you've presumably been in competition over something at some point or another, so it should still be relevant for you. 😉

I've been blessed with the fulfillment of my dream--I get to write for a living. I'm certainly not bringing in enough to support a family right now, but as a part-time job for a stay at home mom who's homeschooling, it's a pretty sweet deal. 😀 So I have what I'd deem success--success defined as doing what I love. And hey, even getting paid for it! LOL

But I've never in my life won a writing contest. Never. Never even finaled in one. Even back in the day of short story contests against other middle schoolers, the best I ever did was Honorable Mention. Yet it was my thing. And I was the unquestioned Best at everything in school; valedictorian, first chair clarinetist, drum major . . . and I knew I was a good writer. I knew it, and my teachers all made a point of telling me so.

And yet . . .

Photo by William Iven on Unsplash
A couple years ago I entered the Genesis contest. It was the only unpublished contest I'd ever entered (or have ever), and I entered with very high hopes. They didn't publicize semi-finalists that year, just finalists, and I saw all the emails from my friends who finaled appear on my historical list when they got their "Call". I sat there, with the phone by my computer. I hoped, and I prayed, and I told myself it was okay, no matter what. That it didn't determine anything about who I was.

Then when the list went up (absent my name), I went outside and let myself cry for five minutes.

I wanted there to be some reason to it. So when my agent, a week later, submitted the book I'd entered to an editor who really liked it, I got hopeful. See, we couldn't have submitted it if it had still been in the contest. But that would have been perfect poetic justice! I could see myself now, winning the published contest instead of the unpublished, going up to make my speech . . .

The book was too like another the line had already contracted, so the editor passed.

I never had another chance at Genesis, because A Stray Drop of Blood came out, and Jewel of Persia after that. Right around then I emailed that editor who liked that book I'd entered, to follow up with a question I'd asked a while before, and she said, "Have you checked in with our other editor? She has Annapolis penciled in."


Did that Genesis-rejected submission bear fruit after all, by winning over another editor at this house, one who could champion me as a writer when Editor 2 brought Annapolis to the committee? Maybe . . . maybe . . . who knows? But what I can tell you is that Annapolis was published soon after that.

Of course, now I'm in the realm of published contests. I now know nothing of mine that came out in 2011 was nominated for a Christy, which was no big surprise (though it would have been nice!). There are only two other contests I'd entered, and we'll see how those go. Am I hopeful? Well yes, a bit.

But you know what? I'm also finally getting to the point where I just don't care about wins. In part because I learned that one of my all-time favorite authors, Francine Rivers, will not enter a contest and requests her publishers not enter any on her behalf. She'd walked that road while in the ABA and refused to walk it again when she moved to CBA. And I really admire that.

I haven't gotten any clear direction to avoid contests, and having an "award-winning" before my name would certainly be nice (although I'd be just as happy--even happier!--with "best-selling" LOL), but as I look back on this stuff this week, I have to wonder if I ever will win. Not because of what I write, but because of who I am. Because I'm a competitive person, and staying humble is something I have to focus on to achieve. Because God knows way better than I how I might handle a big win . . . and maybe He doesn't want that for me.

Photo by Jonas Jacobsson on Unsplash
Is this a lesson in humility for me? Could be, wouldn't be surprised. But more, there's a lesson for me about focus and determination. My goal cannot be to write a book that wins awards--it must be to write a book that wins hearts. My determination must be to keep on the path I've been set upon no matter how many twists of disappointment, not to keep walking only when flower petals are showering down upon me.

When I was in high school, my cross-country coach had a saying: "If it were easy, everybody would be doing it."

Mr. Brown's wisdom can apply to pretty much anything worth working at, can't it? It isn't easy, this thing you've been called to do. It has its moments of triumph when you finally cross that finish line, but it also has a lot of moments along the way when you step in a dip and twist your ankle, when a stray tree branch smacks you in the arm, when you can't seem to draw in enough air to keep those sides from stitching.

No, it isn't easy. But something else Mr. Brown passed along that will always stick with me is that verse that perfectly sums up both my writing story and this running analogy--we have an Author. We have a Finisher, a Perfecter--and it isn't us, you know. I might write a book, but I don't write my own story.

That's for Him.

I might enter a few contests, but I don't determine where I finish.

That's for Him.

And I don't look at those awards as any kind of goal to reach, not anymore.

That's for Him.

Photo by Oscar Söderlund on Unsplash
But I don't give up. I will run with endurance. And just like with cross country (at which I was never any good, let it be noted, LOL), those races won't be about winning. They'll be about growing.

Let us run with endurance this race that is set before us; looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. 
Hebrews 12:1 
If you entered the Genesis and indulged in a few moments of tears last night, chin up. And look at me--I didn't final and was published before quite a few folks who did. And if you did end up on that semi-finalist list, big congratulations! I have friends whose publishing doors were opened by that. 

Just know that, no matter where you end up this contest season, your story is your own, between you and God. Win or lose, He knows how to get you where you're going. And He knows what you need--and what you don't--along the way.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Thoughtful About . . . My Writing Retreat, Spring 2018

Tuesday afternoon, I pulled back into my driveway after a lovely retreat with Stephanie Morrill, best friend and critique partner extraordinaire.

Arriving at our rental house, energetic and ready to go!
If you've been hanging around my blog any length of time, you'll have a good idea of what our writing retreats look like. Pretty much like this.

We do a whole lot of writing. A bit of outdoor exercise. We eat...

What? Chocolate is the most essential food group on a writing retreat!

We brainstorm. We laugh. But mostly, the hours are spent there at our laptops, where the word counts can pile up and the scenes-to-go list can keep on shrinking.

So in case you're curious, here's a day by day recap of how this year's retreat went for me. My main project was finishing up The Number of Love, the story of Margot, little sister to Lukas from A Song Unheard and the first book in my new Codebreakers Series, which will begin next summer from Bethany House.

My spot. We were so happy to see super-comfy leather furniture!
Thursday afternoon, I picked Stephanie up from the airport (it was my year to host), and we drove to a cute AirB&B house in Arnold, MD. After we got settled and chowed down on some gourmet food (or, you know...mac and cheese), we claimed our spots, plugged in our laptops (the plugs never moved) and got started. That first evening, I wrote almost 5,000 words...which it would usually take me 2-3 days to achieve.

On Friday, our first full day, we both got started early, determined to hit our usual daily goal for when on retreat: 10,000 words. We also discovered the local grocery store, explored the neighborhood a bit, and decided that the outdoor patio was our new favorite spot for meals. By the end of the day, I'd logged 11,000 words--which of course means we celebrated with ice cream.

Yes, there's a lot of ice cream on our retreats. To reward ourselves when we hit our goal. Or, if we fall short, to console us. ;-)

Saturday we kept on plugging along. We had big plans for dinner--pizza that was delivered straight to our door (not a luxury I ever get to enjoy out in the country)--and I had a major breakthrough when I realized that I could make a change to my plot that would consolidate, make the ending more active, and bring things to a much better conclusion than what I'd had planned. Woot! I realized by the end of the day on Saturday, that I would definitely be able to finish this book on Sunday. YAY!!! I reached my 10,000 words and felt like I was in a great place for the next day. So totally deserving of that ice cream.

My room decorated with books. #love
Sunday, I took no pictures. Because I had to FINISH. We did take a walk, during which Stephanie helped me brainstorm my climax scenes. We ate chicken pot pies, because for some reason, these are our quintessential retreat food. And I did it. I wrote 12,000 words, which got me to the end of the story! Ish. As soon as I went to bed, I realized I'd forgotten a conversation and knew I'd need to flesh out another. But, you know. Finishedish is a perfectly valid thing to be after a 12K-word day. ;-)

Monday I got up and made those additions, which took me an hour or two and added another 1,000 words to the manuscript. It came in at a really reasonable (for me) 113,000 words...which is always what I'm aiming for, but I often don't finish up until 120-124,000 words, so this felt really great, LOL.
Where I worked in the mornings, while drinking my coffee

It was then time to shift gears, and I'd so hoped I'd have time for this! I needed to plot out my next Guideposts book for the Secrets of Wayfarers Inn Series too, and I was praying I'd finish my other one with time enough to spare on the retreat for this. I started out with some basic brainstorming and researching and then hit upon the idea that really grabbed me while Stephanie finished up her last few scenes of her WIP too.

We decided it was time to hit the town and went out for our only meal that we ate out of the house, LOL--at Cantler's, which is a seafood institution in the Annapolis area. And to which I'd never been, because I hate seafood, LOL. But I'm happy to report that their blackened chicken bruschetta sandwich is THE best chicken sandwich I've ever eaten in my life. So. Good. We enjoyed a relaxed, leisurely lunch by the water, neither of us feeling pressed for time--not always a guarantee on the last full day.

In the afternoon, I turned our brainstorming of my Guideposts book into a rambling story synopsis, really pleased that the ideas all started coming together. We enjoyed our last ice cream celebration, did some serious laughing, and turned in.

Our last morning there, I plugged my synopsis into the requisite story development worksheet I need to turn in to my editors, got a start on the first chapter that I also have to turn in, and then we started cleaning up...and taking more pictures. ;-) After our last lunch, we checked out and headed home.

Our last lunch outside on the patio
Overall, it was a such a wonderful, blessed weekend. Stephanie and I only see each other once a year, so it's awesome to actually get to see each other face to face, laugh together, and do on-the-spot brainstorming as we work. I met all my goals and feel really pleased with how the projects came together. There's work yet to do on both, but those deadlines no longer look like fire-breathing-monsters, so we're good. ;-)

Thanks for bearing with me as I vanish and then chat about it! Stop back tomorrow for a Friday from the Archives that remembers a day before I got my first "yes" from a publisher...and how the same friends I enjoy getting away with now to meet our deadlines were the ones to help me smile through the disappointments before we got here.