Thursday, August 28, 2014

Thoughtful About . . . Reading as an Editor

I admit it--I don't read for pleasure as much as I used to. Mostly because during the school year, I spend so many hours a day reading to my kids, writing, and editing that by the end of the day, my eyes and brain say, "Nope, we're done. Stare at the television or go to sleep. Those are your choices."

But there's another reason. It's because I've trained myself so much to be an editor that I can't read a book without noting what I'd ask the author to change...and that get really, really annoying when I'm just reading for fun, LOL.

Now, the mark of a truly excellent book is when the editor switches off, or at least finds nothing to whine about. That happens, and I love it when it does. But other times...yeah. I recently read a dystopian where the character at one point mentions that in her town, there's no music. She barely has a concept of what it is. Then a few scenes later, she likens someone's breathing to a concertina. Um, no. If you don't know what music is, you aren't going to think in terms of instruments. Sorry. A first person book that suddenly goes out of POV and tells me what another character is thinking? Shudder. And that historical full of inaccuracies? Ouch.

I guess it's kinda like a doctor watching a medical show. Or someone in law enforcement watching CSI. They're going to notice the faults, the things the show gets wrong, and it's going to ruin it for them. Sadly, that's how some books are for me these days. It's one thing to notice all the typos, which I've always done. But these days, it's so much more than that.

But then it makes me wonder.

How can God stand to watch us?? LOL. I mean, He's got it all right. He knows what He's doing. He knows the right thing, the wrong thing, the so-so things we could do in each moment, and He sees how often we go the wrong way. How often we miss the mark.

And I can imagine Him in heaven, with his metaphorical red pen, saying, "You know, if you'd just let me give you some advice right here..."

But here's another thing I've learned about editors--you have to let them give you advice. Freelancers you hire, and you can totally choose whether to take their advice or ignore them. When you've signed a contract with a publishing house, you kinda have to listen to what they say. Kinda. But you might be surprised at how many authors refuse, and take the cancellation of their contract over giving over control of their story.

What about in our lives? Do we give over control to Him? He, who is the ultimate author? The ultimate editor? Who understands far better than we do where the plots of our lives are going? Who knows what's relevant and what isn't? Where our focus should be?

Lord, be my editor. Catch all my errors and help me correct them. Cut out all that fluff I don't need in my life. Keep my words tight and true to You. Lord, be my editor...and help me to take Your perfect advice.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Remember When . . . the King was Crowned

Let's blame it on being an American--I know little about the details of how a king (or queen) becomes a king (or queen). In my head, it's an instant thing when the previous monarch passes away. A bit, I suppose, like the swearing-in of the vice president as president when the president dies. It happens within hours. Voila. Done.

And yes, to a point that's how it is. Researching the Edwardian era, I of course discovered that King Edward died in May of 1910--a mere 3 months before The Lost Heiress begins. But in my head, that meant the transition was already over. His son, King George, became king. Voila. Done.

I honestly didn't think to look into any more than that while writing The Lost Heiress. I turned it in. No biggie. Then I started my research for The Outcast Duchess, and through that reading realized the error of my ways. And saw that King George's coronation hadn't been before my stories started. Oh no. It was smack dab in the middle of Brook's first Season in The Lost Heiress--June, 1911. A year after his father's death. A year, obviously, to prepare for the momentous day. In my story--and I didn't once mention it. Yikes!
King George V in coronation robes, 1911

Luckily, it's early days yet in edits, LOL.

Though books set up to WWI are deemed Edwardian, King George V was the king all through my series. And though it was his father who set the standard for the extravagance and luxury that made the era famous, I have to say I think I would have liked George much better. Where Edward was over-indulgent, George was more restrained. Where Edward was uninhibited, George seems to have been composed. They were two very different men . . . and yet, in his journal after his father's death, George wrote that on that day he lost his dearest friend--his father.

Sniff. Sniff, sniff.

I think one of the things I admire most about this man who is king during my stories though, is his own tale of love.

You see, he wasn't always the heir-apparent. He was the second son, and his brother was the one everyone thought would be the next king. He thought his destiny was to serve in the Royal Navy, and he embraced that gladly. He fell in love with his German cousin, but the families didn't approve the match. He proposed anyway--she refused him and married the heir to the king of Romania instead.

Two years later, George's older brother Albert, the presumed heir, became engaged to a cousin the family did approve of--Princess Victoria Mary of Teck. The family called her May (as there was kinda still a Victoria on the throne at the time...) But only six months into their engagement, Albert died of pneumonia.

It was grief that brought May and George together. They mourned Albert together. They comforted each other. And they fell in love. Theirs was a story of socially-acceptable-matches meeting deep-from-the-heart love...and oh, how history needs those!

Though King Edward was known for his affairs and paramours, King George was known for his dedication to his wife. He had a hard time, he himself admitted, expressing his feelings out loud. So they exchanged love letters all their lives.

Sniff. Sniff, sniff.

Yes, this is a king who deserves some mention in my series! And though in The Lost Heiress I really only mention his coronation a couple times, I'm going to try to put a bit more about him in later books. Because though I'm calling this an Edwardian series, Edward was gone. George was ruling. And he was setting an example that deserves to be noted.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Word of the Week - Pigment

My kids made me look this one up the other day, wondering if pig and pigment were that Xoe's been studying base words and prefixes and suffixes, this is a logical question. =)

So away to I went. To discover that, as I suspected, no. Pigment is not from the same root as pig.

Pigment, as it happens, comes from the pigmentum, meaning "color matter, paint." Pretty much what I expected. It comes in turn from the Latin verb pingere, meaning "to paint."

Pig, on the other hand, has obscure roots. It existed in Old English, but the experts think it might have been borrowed from the German or Dutch word for swine, which was big/bigge. They seem to agree that it was originally spelled with a B.

Interestingly, some of the nicknames for a pig--porker, grunter--came about because sailors' superstitions forbade them from uttering the word "pig" while at sea! Can't say as I knew that one, LOL.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Thoughtful About . . . Random Things

This marked our first full week of homeschool. And I admit it--I haven't adjusted yet. I'm still a wee bit frazzled by how much long it's taking us this year (so far--hopefully it'll streamline a bit), and what that means in terms of time to do other things. So I figured today, I'd just chat about some random things.

* That homeschool. Yeesh! I forgot how much longer 1st grade takes than Kindergarten. But adding in that extra amount of work for Rowyn...all of which must be hands-on for me at this point...puts another hour or so on my instructional day. I wasn't prepared for that! But both kids are doing great with their respective work.

However, my brain is back is Edwardian Yorkshire. Because, you see...

* Last Thursday, on my birthday, I got to have an editorial call with my new editor, on The Lost Heiress. Maybe some people wouldn't want to schedule such a thing for their birthday, but I knew well I'd have fun--and I did. I love talking story. I was emailed seven pages of notes, compiled from three different editors, and we went through them point by point. I had an hour before the call to review them and brainstorm, and oh my gracious. Such fun!

See, as a writer, I'm not a this-is-the-only-way-it-can-happen person. (Most of the time.) I'm constantly daydreaming about what ifs for my stories. Coming up with alternate ways the characters could reach the same places. So when an editor says, "This could be stronger," I just have to tap on that door of imagination and let the ideas fly. It's So. Much. Fun for me. =D

So in the week that's followed, I've been spending all the time I can on those revisions. Of course, it being the first week of school, that's not as much time as I would like...


* I'm adding words! Yikes! LOL. I'm going to have to go back afterward and trim some other parts down, to get that word count back down on target. Not the fun part.

* I need a haircut. I have an appointment for next Thursday, but I have no idea what I want. Right now it's about 3 inches below my shoulders. I like the length, but I want some life in it. Suggestions??

* My poor cat has had UTI for two months now. She's been on antibiotics since mid-June. The oral ones made her puke, and the injections don't seem to be helping. Which means she's showing me her pain by making messes. I'm about at my wit's end there...

* I'm making French onion soup tomorrow! Woot!

* And I should probably go take a shower before it's time for school again. So until next time, there's the randomness from the brain of Roseanna.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Blog Header Design - The Lord's Lady

Not exactly a book cover design, but the same general idea. ;-) I had the pleasure a week or so ago of designing a header for a new blog by the awesome Sandi Rog, and I thought it would be fun to break it down for you like I do the book covers.

The blog is called The Lord's Lady: Women Growing in the Word, and it's dedicated to study and meditating on Scripture. I've subscribed and am looking forward to digging deeper into faith with other women who share my heart.

For anyone who doesn't know already, Sandi is a cancer survivor--a miraculous one. A few years ago she was diagnosed with an extremely aggressive form of T-cell lymphoma. She underwent treatment after treatment, course after course of chemotherapy and radiation that left her body weak and broken. I can't tell you how many times I got an email saying she'd ended up in the hospital again. Then we thought she was on the mend...that the treatments had worked...that healing had come--only to learn from a Good Friday MRI that she had 5 new tumors.

Sandi knew she wouldn't survive another round of chemo or radiation. She knew that she couldn't turn into that shell again, the one that couldn't get off the couch to take care of her young children. So when the Lord whispered that she should try the natural route, she obeyed, and asked others to step out in faith with her. I joyfully joined the prayers for my dear friend, believing with her that this would work.

Her cancer has been in remission for 2 years now, thanks to faith and vitamin B17. And though Sandi has had a hard time getting back to writing novels, she wants to pour her heart into this blog, and I'm so excited to join in.

So. The header. =) Sandi emailed with details on exactly what she was looking for. A medieval looking woman in the foreground, most of her face not visible. She wanted her to be cradling a sword in her lap. Reverently, almost tenderly. And in the background, a castle.

Armed with those instructions, I went on the hunt for images. I came back with a few possibilities.
The one on the bottom wasn't holding a sword, of course, but we both liked the lighting and the soft look of her, so she won.

Which meant I had my work cut out for me, LOL. I started, as always, by deleting her background.

I played around a bit to figure out how to input a sword--first trying to have her holding it out before her, in her lap, like Sandi originally envisioned, but the sword got lost against the pale background of the model's dress. So Sandi said, "Can she be holding it up like the woman in the other picture?"

Could she? Hmm. I thought I could get it close. So I chose a medieval sword that I could use for free from Wikimedia Commons:
And then I posed the model by copying her arm, rotating it, and filling in the empty space it created with her veil.
The hand here isn't perfect, but I knew it would be covered up once I put the sword into place.
As you can see, the sword stands out far too much...and looks she's just balancing it on one hand. The image would be cropped to fit on the header, but I still needed to do some playing. I ended up up cutting and pasting the part of the sword that goes off to the left and then changing its opacity so that it looked like the veil was overtop it, and thereby meeting up with her invisible right right.

I also adjusted the color balance on the sword layer, yellowing it to give me the same lighting effect as the model.

And for fun...a little gleam on the blade.
Well, that was the hard part! Next was filling in her background. I found a free image of a castle. There were a ton, but I picked one that looked fairy tale pretty.
Chateau Sully sur Loire
Then, of course, I deleted the background and changed the color balance to match the buttery tones of the rest of the picture.
Isn't that pretty as a picture? ;-)

Now to put the two together. I did a simple blue-gray for sky (adding some low-opacity white for clouds) and green for the ground and plopped them together.
Believe it or not, we're almost there. ;-) I chose a texture layer to put overtop the whole thing. I wanted something that conveyed light and flame, so I went with this one.
Taking it down to 75% opacity and choosing Lighten as my blending mode, we end up with this.
 I want a bit more detail though...a pattern to add into the corner. I waste some time looking for medieval symbols or engravings, and eventually find, of all things, a free vector with tattoo designs, LOL. In that package I found a fun cross-in-a-circle that hit the right note. So I add that in.
Now all that's left are the words! I tried a few arrangements and colors, before Sandi said "This arrangement, but how about burgundy? Which was perfect. She also requested that I link the letters together, so voila.
We added the subtitle, and there we have it! I put all those elements together, and we have our lovely final product, ready to be the header on a blog I know will touch hearts.

Check out Sandi's blog at: !!!!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Digital is Available for Pre-Order!

I'm interrupting my normal schedule for a special announcement:

The Kindle Version of A Soft Breath of Wind 
Is Available for Pre-Order!! 


Fun stuff. =) Hopefully Nook version is soon to follow.

Okay, back to your Monday. Today begins our first full week of school, plus I'm doing revisions on The Lost Heiress, so forgive me for not posting anything else today, LOL.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Thoughtful About . . . Being 32

It's my birthday! And yes, I claim my age. I'm 32. Not 29-for-the-4rd-time. Just plain ol' 32.
Okay, okay, so I was still 31 when this picture was taken...
but it's recent. That'll just have to do.

The funny thing is, I still feel like one of the "super young" crowd...perhaps because I'm working in an industry where I belong to the new generation. Many of my writing friends are closer to my parents' age than mine, and as an editor, I've yet to work with anyone younger than me, LOL. I occasionally wonder that these awesome people take me seriously, but they do, because they're awesome. ;-)

But as another year rolls by and I spend my days working on edits for my books and delving into a new one, I find myself thinking about my characters, and where they were/will be at the same age I'm now at.

My thoughts went first to Abigail, from A Stray Drop of Blood. At 32, she had given birth to six children. Had adopted one, had lost one. When Abigail was 32, her adopted son, Samuel, was already 23. Her firstborn, Benjamin, was 17.

My kids are 8 and 6. I can't quite imagine, in my life, having kids that are already 23 and 17! Kids who are dealing with going out into the world and making their own life, rather than building things out of blocks and coloring pictures. Abigail, at my age, was ready to be a grandmother.

In some ways, I still feel more like those kids. ;-) A modern 32 is more like that 23 or 17, compared to the Biblical days. My family is still young, my life's work still in its infancy. I'm more like Samuel, following his calling toward a life as a healer. Like Benjamin, still finding his footing in the world.

My heroine in A Soft Breath of Wind is only 18 through most of the book (and considered well past the age when a young woman should have been married). Brook, in The Lost Heiress, is 18-19 too. Solely because those are the ages they need to be for these stories, the ages when they come into their own. The heroine I'm working on now, Lady Augusta Kinnaird of the Highlands, is 20.

Maybe it's spending my days in the heads of these young women that makes me still feel like a youngster, LOL. Who knows. But as I set out on another year full of stories and words and history, full of designs and marketing and homeschooling, I know I'm so blessed to be where I am. So blessed to get to do what I love. So blessed to be surrounded by family.

Yep, I'm still claiming my age--and claiming that 32 is going to better than any year that's come before. And that requires some doing. ;-)