Monday, October 20, 2014

Word of the Week - Perk

Today's word comes to us by me literally clicking on a random letter at www.EtymOnline.com and then a random page within said letter and scrolling down until something caught my eye. ;-) The lucky word was perk.
The first meaning of perk in English came from Old North French and meant "to make oneself trim or sharp." From the late 1300s, this word was inspired by preening birds--the French word it's taken from means "perch."

By the 1520s, it had expanded to mean "to raise oneself briskly." Interestingly, the term perk up didn't follow for another 140 years (language changed so much more slowly back then!)

The verb that we use for how we make our coffee is actually a shortened, altered form of percolate, which is completely unrelated, and came around in 1934.

The noun form, as in "a highlight or bonus" is from 1869, another shortened, altered form--this time of perquisite, a mid-15th century word from Latin that means "profit, thing gained." Yeah, I had no clue about that one!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Thoughtful About . . . Fame and Fortune (Or Not)

When I was a kid, I had big dreams. And this idea that writers lived on mansion on hilltops. I thought that surely, surely fame and fortune awaited me down that road. That I'd be a household name. That people would squeal with excitement when they met me. That I'd be able to dive into my vault of gold like Scrooge McDuck.

Yeah, so...um, no. LOL. That's not the life of a writer--at least, not many of us. But that's okay. Because the more I travel this road, the more I know it isn't about those old dreams. It's about the stories God puts in my heart.

For a lot of writers, writing is a career. They love it, but it comes down to the bottom line. I get that...but that's not me. To me, despite those childhood dreams, writing isn't about what I get from it. It's about what I can give with it. Writing is my calling. Writing is my ministry. Writing is the way I share about faith, about God, about how He guides through our lives. About how love lifts us above the dark places--though those dark places will always come.

Tonight I have a book signing at my local library, so my thoughts this morning were on the subject. And I've also been hearing back from my beta readers for A Soft Breath of Wind, so that makes me think about it even more. I guess as a kid, I would have imagined that praise for my books would have made me smile like a movie star, utter a gracious thank you so much! and go about my day knowing I'd done that, I'd done what I set out to do.

Instead, every time I get an email or message from one of these early readers with words like your best yet and this opened my eyes to faith on a whole new level, there's no euphoria. There's no glow of accomplishment. There's something better. There's that deep-down, bone-level gratitude to God for helping me write what He wanted me to. For putting down a story I wasn't sure would be what my core readers want and finding that it's what they need. For realizing He had things in mind for my words I didn't know.

That's what writing has become for me. And while it might not be enough for Scrooge McDuck, I gotta say, it's why I keep doing this. It's why I get up at 5:30 every morning, though I don't often get to bed until 11. It's why I bake cookies to take to the library with me, though my day is already full. It's why I sacrifice that time when I could be outside or reading or otherwise at play, to squeeze a few more paragraphs onto the page.

I've said it before, I'm sure. I write because it's who I am. It's what I'm called to do. If no one ever read it, I'd still write. If I never earned a penny, I'd still write. Because God teaches me so much through each story.

Yesterday marked the T-one month date for the release of A Soft Breath of Wind. And as the countdown to release begins, I'm covering this book with prayer. It goes places no other book of mine has ever gone. It digs to places I didn't know it would plumb. It asks questions I'd never thought to wonder about until Zipporah and Benjamin and Samuel brought them up.

And that means it's probably going to offend some people--those types of books always do. So I'm also praying that it doesn't get into the hands of anyone to whom it would be a stumbling block. I'm fine with people not liking my book, with them taking issue with it, if it's an issue God wants them to take. But I'm not okay with people asking questions that makes them waver in their faith or go places in their minds they don't need to go (I've had a few of those reviews over the years too). So if you've a mind to say a prayer over this book and its releasing, please include that--that it make it into the hands of those who need it and stays out of the hands of those who don't.

I'd also appreciate a prayer for my event tonight. I love doing library signings--so much fun to chat with folks who love books! So here's hoping it goes well and I meet some new people to chat with. =)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Remember When . . . Marriage Laws


Historical writers always need to know marriage laws for their particular setting. Well, maybe not always, but it comes up a lot. ;-) And they vary a lot from state to state, even county to county. Thankfully, in this digital age, many states have their archives online (woo hoo!), which makes it possible, if not simple, for us writerly folks to figure out what we need to know.

A couple years ago I was researching a book that I've yet to write--it was a sequel to a book I've never sold--and part of it hinged on Maryland marriage laws in the 1920s. I found the Maryland archives online, and a friend's lawyer husband thought it would be great fun to find the correct document for me (truly awesome friend, LOL). He pointed me to the exact place I needed, and voila! I discovered that in the 1920s, you were supposed to get a marriage license, but there was no waiting period. And what's more, if you did not get a license but were married by a minister, the marriage was legal, but there was a fine involved. If, on the other hand, you had license but no minister, the marriage wasn't considered legal. How interesting is that?

Another common misconception that pops up far too often in fiction, however, is the annulment. Or at least the threat of an annulment. I can't tell you how many times I've read books about marriages of convenience (read: unconsummated) where this is brought up. Because, obviously, if a marriage isn't consummated, it isn't a real marriage, and it can be wiped off the books, right? I always thought so. Until this same friend-married-to-a-lawyer pointed out that, nope, this is just something writers get wrong a lot.

Huh. Who knew? So what, then, are the laws about annulment?

Well, for starters, a bit of clarification on what it even is. While a divorce says a legal marriage has ended, annulment certifies that the marriage wasn't legal to begin with and, for all intents and purposes, didn't ever exist. It wipes it away entirely. Now, there are occasions where folks like the Catholic church will annul a marriage if, say, it took place outside the Church, wasn't performed by a priest, one of the couple wasn't Catholic, etc. (Though oddly, any children conceived in such a nullified union are still considered legitimate. Wrap you mind around that one...)

But in general, there are only a few very specific occasions when an annulment would be granted.

1. One of the people was already married.

2. One of them was underage, without court or parental approval--though this must be brought to the attention of the court within 60 days, or it's no longer a valid cause.

3. One of them was under the influence of a drug or alcohol and unaware of what they were doing--again, you only have 60 days to claim this one.

4. Mentally incompetant

5. One of them was threatened or forced into the marriage

6. One of them agreed to be married based on fraudulent claims or actions of the other. (I'm a millionaire, baby!)

7. Physically and incurably impotent--unless the other spouse knew about it beforehand. (See, even this is very, very specific.)

8. Marriage was prohibited by law because of something like age, race, blood relationship, proxy marriage, etc. Varies state to state.

So you see, there are causes...but not the one we usually read about. Interesting, eh?

Now off I go to force a couple to the alter, LOL. And no annulment talk here!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Word of the Week - Some Movie Words


We've all heard of the stars of the Silver Screen...but last week I found myself wondering about the term. Where did it come from? When  did it come from? Obviously after movies came about, but when?

A simple answer to find. =) Silver screen was originally in reference to the screens themselves in movie projection houses. They were painted silver to better reflect the light from the projectors. Makes sense, eh? The term is from 1921. And by 1924, it had broadened to mean movies in general.

Movie itself dates from 1912, a shortened form of moving picture, which in turn dates from 1896. Keeping in mind that those first moving pictures were silent, the advent of sound resulted in talkies in 1913 (from talking picture, 1908).

So...seen any good ones lately? ;-)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Thoughtful About . . . Everyday Crazy

Autumn...always crazy around here

I can't tell you how many times I've said or written the words, "Sorry, this month has been crazy." I think I probably utter/type it at least once a month. Because, let's face it, life is crazy. It's always crazy. And though I always think, It'll get better once I'm done this... the fact remains that once I'm done one thing, it just means another is on the horizon.

Traditionally, October is my crazy month, where I have something going on every weekend. Fall Festival, family reunion, daughter's birthday, Halloween. This year, September way outdid October's plans. This year, we were gone for vacation, then for homecoming at our college, then there was ACFW. I'm so, so glad to be home for a while, even if I still have all those normal October things to do.

My point? Well, that every day is crazy. Every week. Every month. And I can either use that as an excuse to put things off and let life overwhelm me...or I can not.

That's a hard one for me. I admit it. All too often things get pushed to the backburner in my life (like cleaning...or sorting through that stack of mail that I hope doesn't have any bills I've missed...or...) while I focus on the pressing things.

So how do I do better? Honestly, I'm not an expert on this. I don't have the answers. But this past year, as we moved and settled, as I had to pitch a new series to new publishers, as I worked on my biblical at a snail's pace, as I edited and designed a book every month for WhiteFire, as I homeschooled both kids for the first time...well, some things shifted for me. Some things that made me realize that I can still have time to cook a decent meal, if I just make myself be creative. I can keep my house from becoming hopeless, if I just force myself to spend one evening a week on it (it's not great, mind you, but not hopeless). I can write, I can read, I can edit, if I'm willing to budget my time.

There are still days and weeks where I just can't do any more. I can't squeeze in one more activity, I can't go one more place--not if I still want to finish my "have to"s. But at a certain point, I have to stop looking at it as crazy...and just start accepting it as everyday life. And cherish the fact that, though crazy-busy, my family is at least crazy-busy together. We're not pulled a million different directions everyday. And I love that. I love that we spend so much time together.

It kinda makes me think that all the crazy is worth it. Because we can live in Crazytown together. And really, it's a pretty fun place to be.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Remember When . . . History Was Tragedy?

Much of my last week has been consumed by Veiled at Midnight, the next book WhiteFire will put out--and the last one this year, other than my A Soft Breath of Wind. I know I already touched briefly on this in my Word of the Week post, but it bears talking about more. Because oh my goodness. This book...

In the first book in Christine Lindsay's Twilight of the British Raj series, I was introduced to India, with all its vastness, its crowds, its spices and colors and dizzying politics. I got a taste of the British Raj (rule) and what it meant to the Indians, and I met a villain who kept the characters on their toes. In the second book, I learned more about the struggle between the Sikhs, the Muslims, the Hindus, and the minority of Christians. About the sweeping epidemics and the lingering effects of World War I.

In this book, I saw a nation destroyed by its cry for independence. I saw neighbor turn on neighbor because of their religion, places of peace become fields of battle. The author, in her historical note, says that low estimates of the number of civilians killed in the riots surrounding the Partition that separated India and Pakistan was 20,000. High estimates are close to 1,000,000.

This is not a happy backdrop. It's tragic, it's suffocating, and it's...true.

So why do I love the book? For the same reason I usually love a book. Because somehow there's hope amidst the tragedy. Somehow there's the power of love--our love for each other and Christ's love for us--overcoming, here and there, the power of hate. Somehow the characters find their true identities, their true worth, their true strength, when the streets are flowing red with blood.

That's one of the themes of the book, actually. Red. Dassah, our Indian heroine, wanted a red sari for her wedding, because red is the color of joy. But as violence took over her land, red became associated with blood instead. The color of violence, of death, of tragedy. But then, eventually, another thought occurs. Red is also the color of Another's blood that was shed, and shed to save us.

I didn't know much about the Partition before I read Veiled at Midnight, but wow, did I learn a lot--in that organic way that has always been why I love historical fiction. I got to meet some historical figures, and I got to view the riots through many sets of eyes, all with different views but a shared love for India, a shared pain at her suffering.

Best-selling author MaryLu Tyndall had the right of it when she said, "Rarely do I find a book that touches my soul in such a deep place." This one's going to stick with me for a long, long time.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Word of the Week - Genes

Good grief, I've been forgetting to blog left and right! Let's hope it's just that my last few weeks have been crazy, and now my brain will settle back into normal patterns. ;-) We can hope...

In my last pass of the fantabulous Veiled at Midnight, I came across a character saying something about their gene pool. So naturally, I paused to look it up. This is a historical, but a post-WWII one, so I knew it was probably close.

And indeed, it was very close. Gene is from the German gen, a word coined in 1905 by Danish scientist Wilhelm Ludvig Johannsen. He took it from the Greek genea, meaning "generation; race." They had earlier been called pangenes. So the word gene definitely would have been around by 1947. Gene pool, however, didn't make its debut until 1950. Pretty close, but I was gonna guess that the backwater of India wouldn't have that one yet, so I made a quick substitution. ;-)

Now back to work I go on getting Veiled at Midnight ready to go live! Some unforeseen events delayed this release, but we're finally ready to get it up and out there! Yay!