How precious are Your thoughts to me, O LORD ... how vast is the sum of them!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Indie Authors Sale


I hope everyone had a blessed Thanksgiving! As promised, here is the list of Indie authors---have fun checking them out, and please do seriously consider supporting them with purchases!  
The Ankuluen: Cyber Monday
Saffron's Big Plan and Other StoriesCyber Monday
Do You Take This Quest?: Cyber Monday

Faith Blum
A Mighty Fortress: Black Friday [V4Y5K36D -- 10%] and Cyber Monday
Be Thou My Vision: Black Friday [7626YZAK -- 20%] and Cyber Monday

Sarah Brown
The Prodigal Pup: Black Friday [SB14CP31 -- 25%] and Cyber Monday [SB14CP31 -- 25%]
Learning Lessons from Furry Friends: Black Friday  [SB14CP31 -- 25%] and Cyber Monday [SB14CP31 -- 25%]

Kelsey Bryant
Family Reunion: Black Friday [YFY84GHU -- 20%]

Elizabeth Ender
RansomedBlack Friday [GNE6VUXY -- 30%]

J.J. Francesco
Blood Chain: Cyber Monday

Julie Gilbert
Nadia's Tears: Cyber Monday

Leah Good
Counted Worthy: Black Friday [K7CVNEER -- 40%] and Cyber Monday

Melody Grubb
The Land of Calais: Black Friday and Cyber Monday
The Warmth of His Eyes: Black Friday and Cyber Monday
Send Me, Lord Jesus: Black Friday and Cyber Monday
Therese Heckenkamp
Past Suspicion: Black Friday and Cyber Monday
Frozen Footprints: Black Friday
Rachel Heffington
Anon, Sir, Anon: Black Friday [9MTYHSX3 -- 25%] and Cyber Monday

Rebekah Jones
Journeys of Four: Cyber Monday
Grandmother's Letters: Cyber Monday
A Year with the Potters: Cyber Monday

Jaye L. Knight
ResistanceBlack Friday [Q45HN6G9 -- 25%] and Cyber Monday

Melika Dannese Lux
City of Lights: Black Friday [FNB98MY6 -- 35%] and Cyber Monday
Corcitura: Black Friday [GU46WHKT -- 55%] and Cyber Monday

Tina M. Neely
Diamond Hair Princess: Black Friday

Joel A. Parisi
Shadow Play: Cyber Monday

J. Grace Pennington
Radialloy: Black Friday [Y2XHGYDN -- 25%] and Cyber Monday
In His Image: Black Friday [KXNZ7PYN -- 25%] and Cyber Monday
Machiavellian: Black Friday [UFXGUYMM -- 25%] and Cyber Monday

Jennifer Sauer
Why Rodney Never Should've Gone to the NAPIC: Black Friday [F76DDR7S -- 45%] and Cyber Monday

Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer
Touch My Tears: Black Friday and Cyber Monday
Third Side of the Coin: Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Cara Simmons
The Haven: Black Friday and Cyber Monday
The Leviathan: Black Friday and Cyber Monday
The Champion: Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Jordan Smith
Finding the Core of Your Story: Black Friday [NL4NJXWS -- 30%]
Melanie D. Snitker
Calming the Storm: Cyber Monday
Rachel Starr Thomson
Reap the Whirlwind: Cyber Monday
Lady Moon: Cyber Monday
Angel in the Woods: Cyber Monday

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Sales, a Link, and Birthdays

Whew. It seems like I have a lot to spread on the table in this post … sort of like a Thanksgiving dinner. And, like said dinner, I’m having trouble deciding where to start ….

How about business, first? I will be participating in two online book sales this weekend: One spans Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and includes a bunch of Indie authors. The print version of my book will be on sale on Friday; check here on Friday to see who else is participating and maybe find something really nice! The other is a smaller, exclusively Cyber Monday sale in which some of the Word Painters will be marking their eBooks down to $2.99 each. So stop by on Monday for more info!

Speaking of Word Painters, you may be interested in a post I wrote there recently: Encouraging Verses for the Writer.

And now for the birthdays. The birthdays, to be precise, of some of my favorite authors. It turns out the end of November is chock full of them! Each of these authors has written at least one book that is on my list of absolute favorites:

George EliotNov 22, 1819­Dec 22, 1880. Her 1876 novel Daniel Deronda, about a young man seeking his identity and befriending some remarkable European Jews, is high on my list.

John BunyanNov 28, 1628Aug 31, 1688. Author of The Pilgrim’s Progress (1678). What more can I say?

Louisa May AlcottNov 29, 1832Mar 6, 1888. I enjoy all her novels, but high up on my list are Little Women (1868) and An Old-Fashioned Girl (1869).

C. S. LewisNov 29, 1898Nov 22, 1963. The Chronicles of Narnia have been a part of my life since I was I don’t know how young!

Mark TwainNov 30, 1835Apr 21, 1910. Twain’s skill with words always leaves me in awe. My favorites by him are Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc (1896), quite high on my list, and The Innocents Abroad (1869), a hilarious travel memoir.

L. M. MontgomeryNov 30, 1874Apr 24, 1942. Montgomery is my favorite of these November authors. I love every page her lyrical words are printed on, but the ones I love best belong to her Anne of Green Gables novels, 16.

Which of these authors are your favorite(s)?

To wrap up this post, I want to wish you all a happy Thanksgiving. I’m thankful for these birthday-authors, I’m thankful for each of you who read my blog, and I’m thankful to God for everything … everything. I don’t want to sound trite, but He has blessed me so much, and I can see that even the bad things always, somehow, work out for good, especially when they are just to make me depend more on my Lord.

Have a blessed and meaningful holiday! 

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Master of Adventure

I thought that’d be a fitting nickname, for the time being, of one of my favorite authors, Robert Louis Stevenson, whose 164th birthday was Thursday, November 13. Unfortunately his birthday passed me by, or else I would have observed it by reading one of his short stories … I’m not sure which ones I’d be interested in right now, but I could do with a dose of his beautiful writing! (Any short story recommendations?)

I encountered Robert Louis Stevenson early on … I don’t remember quite when his name with its memorable ring first charmed my ears. But I didn’t read any of his books until high school, when I recommended Kidnapped for my homeschool literature club as something we could read. And my goodness, was I glad I did! The whole group enjoyed it, me perhaps most of all. Young, handsome, and vulnerable David Balfour, humorous and larger-than-life Alan Breck Stewart, evil uncle, mysterious house, ships, swordfights, danger, Scotland … that novel has lots of things to make me love it. I gained an even greater appreciation for the beauty of Stevenson’s writing when I read three more of his works: Treasure Island, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and finally, the sequel to Kidnapped, David Balfour (or Catriona, as it’s called across the sea). Kidnapped is still my favorite, but I loved the adventure of Treasure Island and the haunting brilliancy of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and the sweet romance and story continuation of David Balfour. Three other books of his that I would love to read include The Master of Ballantrae, The Black Arrow, and Travels with a Donkey.

Robert Louis Stevenson gave me some joy on my trip to England in September. I was looking for the perfect book for one of my dear bibliophile friends. At Berrington Hall, a country mansion in Herefordshire, I discovered (dressed in my Regency gown, too!) a used book shop in the gatehouse, a dusty room with tall ceilings, high windows, and uneven brick or stone floors. The antique books caught my eye, and low and behold there was: The Life of Robert Louis Stevenson by Graham Balfour (who was his cousin). This edition was from the 1920s. Aha! Pam’s book! It cost only two pounds, and payment was on the honor system: put the correct amount in a little coin box by the open door. That was one of the most unusual places I’ve ever shopped for books, but I found something that absolutely thrilled my friend!

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Robert Louis Stevenson was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1850. He was an only child and sickly, and did better with private tutors than at school. He told and wrote stories from young childhood … his father, who also had the bent, fully supported him, and made it possible for him to publish his first work, an account of the Scottish covenanters’ rebellion, on its 200th anniversary: The Pentland Rising: A Page of History, 1666. Stevenson was 16. He was supposed to be a lawyer like his father, but he longed to be a writer, and his father became “wonderfully resigned” to it, as his mother put it. 

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Unfortunately, Stevenson drifted from this close relationship with his parents and from his faith. He became a traveler and an active member of the English literary world. His first actual book, An Inland Voyage, a travelogue, was published in 1878. He eventually married Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne, a divorced American woman with two children, in 1880. His health was suffering badly, and they tried living in many different places to find a suitable climate. I read about him in the Royal Diary story of Princess Victoria Kaiulani of Hawaii before I read any of his stories; he lived in Hawaii for a time and was friends with the royal family. He lived his final days on the Samoan Islands in the South Pacific, and died there on December 3, 1894. Though he was only 44, he had been writing practically his whole life, and so bequeathed a sizeable amount of enthralling stories, both fiction and nonfiction, for us to enjoy and dream with.

To close, how about a poem from his endearing A Child’s Garden of Verses? This is one of my favorites:

When I was sick and lay a-bed,
I had two pillows at my head,
And all my toys beside me lay
To keep me happy all the day.
And sometimes for an hour or so
I watched my leaden soldiers go,
With different uniforms and drills,
Among the bed-clothes, through the hills;
And sometimes sent my ships in fleets
All up and down among the sheets;
Or brought my trees and houses out,
And planted cities all about.
I was the giant great and still
That sits upon the pillow-hill,
And sees before him, dale and plain,
The pleasant land of counterpane.

Do you like Robert Louis Stevenson? What is your favorite book by him?

Note: I am indebted to wikipedia for my information about his life! 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

British Expressions

During the years it took me to write England Adventure, my creative sessions often immersed me in books, websites, films, and photos that brought English culture alive to me even before I was blessed to visit in person. Among my favorite things to study was the British way of speakingand when I heard it with my own ears in England, I was thrilled! 

I tried my best to give my English characters authentic tongues. (An English reader was quite helpful, too, in that department.) Fortunately a lot of people are also intrigued by the differences between British English and American, so I’ve had good sources to point these differences out; I also gleaned from informal posts by Britons on forums, Tripadvisor, and blogs. Anyway, this is a sampling of words and expressions I’ve found use for in my story. Many of these you’re probably already familiar with:

From Gregory Endicott, the wry, yet caring host for the six cousins:

Don’t go wishing too much or else you’re bound to bring rain down on the whole holiday.” [American equivalent: trip/vacation]

Your parents are rightly concerned about things like banking accounts when it comes to that.” [This is subtle! American equivalent: bank accounts]

These girls wanted to see what was on the telly in England,” Mr. Endicott explained when he saw us. “I told them it was all the same rubbish that’s anywhere in America, but you can tell who prevailed.”

All the way on the pavement, if you please.” [American equivalent: sidewalk]

I’ll be parking in a car park or two. We shall do lots of walking.” [Either a parking lot or a parking garage]

Mr. Endicott, answering no, he’d prefer a fizzy drinka sodaalso went out …

It was brilliant.” [wonderful, awesome … I heard this a lot myself in England]

And my two favorites:
Now, no turning off into sideshows and faffing about.” [dillydallying]
I hadn’t the foggiest when you wanted to get into it.” [“Idea” is dropped off the end]

From Celia Parker, Mr. Endicott’s feisty sister:

I don’t see the point in standing out here in the drive, with all the neighbors looking on. Come inside; is that all you’ve got?” [Drive: driveway. In England, I heard people saying “I’ve got” or “you’ve got” all the time instead of plain “I have” or “you have.”]

I tell you it was never more tempting to order takeaway than tonight.” [They never seem to say “takeout,” which is what I’m used to; it’s always “takeaway.”

All of you just wash your hands in the loo, not the kitchen, and come back to the dining room.”

And one more … this one is special to me, because it was the first Briticism my ears picked up on once we arrived in London:

Haven’t had enough of English accents, yeah?” [Chelsea, a teenage friend of the Endicotts’ granddaughter Paris, said this; it replaces the American “huh” or “right?”] As for when I heard it, when we first emerged into Central London from Victoria train station, we were turned around and couldn’t figure out where we were on our map to get to our hotel. A super nice, older man noticed we were lost, so he kindly looked at our map with us and pointed out the way we should take. While he explained the directions, he said something like, “We're on Victoria Street, yeah?” The fact that I heard him say that, a legitimate British man in legitimate London, stuck in my memory far longer than the directions did. 

Now how about a fun read on what Britons think is … unusual about Americans? This is from Joy Clarkson's blog, an American who is enrolled at Oxford. 

Do you enjoy British expressions? Do you have a favorite? 

Oh! And just a housekeeping survey ... do you like this font better than my other? Easier to read, nicer looking, etc.? 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Dresses and Books
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When I was on tour in England, I got to mix with seamstresses and historical costume enthusiasts, visit and analyze breathtaking garments that were created centuries ago, and learn a lot about what dressing was like for people of the past. It was marvelous! My fellow tour members themselves made exquisite things; I learned much from them, even as we oohed and aahed over the 200-year-old gowns meticulously preserved by the museums.
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There was something about seeing handmade garments that old in person. It brought the past to the present; you could easily imagine the women who sewed or wore them, especially when you spied clumsy hemming stitches, noticed the unbelievably tiny waist, or laughed over the combination of colors. You also could imagine the people, perhaps family members, who saved them for generations until the clothes arrived at today. Sometimes they would use these dresses for “fancy dress,” or what we call costumes, probably like how I once wore a 1970s bridesmaid dress of my mom’s for a masquerade. Other times they were given to servants after they went out of style. I’m not sure what would happen to them afterward; perhaps they were kept and well cared for because the servant class tried hard to preserve nice things like that. And I’m sure others were kept and treasured by the family because they recognized skilled workmanship and wanted to honor a forebear.

One specific discovery that struck some of us was just how brightly colored some of the Regency dresses were—as bright as anything you’d see today. Raspberry, mustard, brown, hot pink, rainbow-colored embroidery … fashionable ladies didn’t limit themselves to whites and pastels, as is popularly assumed. As a Regency fashion follower, I was particularly interested by that detail—even relieved, because a limited palette isn’t as much fun when imagining my Regency characters.            
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Which leads me to my next thought: clothing in literature. I love it when clothing is described within a story, more descriptively than “she wore a red dress.” In a classic novel, the author might describe an outfit that he or she would have seen in their present day, and that provides a fascinating snapshot into our past. When you read, you see and experience what is written on the pages—and so, if properly and artfully described, you feel as though you saw, touched, or even wore a historical gown. Sometimes words are even better than a picture, in that regard, because you can know and feel what it was like to wear it. Do you know what I mean? And it’s even better when emotions are attached to the outfit. The writer doesn’t have to use very many words to create this effect; just the right ones.

Here are some nice examples that I’ve read recently from Rose in Bloom by Louisa May Alcott. The characters are at a ball:
“Rose had no new gown to wear on this festive occasion, and gave one little sigh of regret as she put on the pale blue silk refreshed with clouds of gaze de Chambery. But a smile followed, very bright and sweet, as she added the clusters of forget-me-nots which Charlie had conjured up …”

“So Aunt Jessie was chaperon, to Rose’s great satisfaction, and looked as ‘pretty as a pink,’ Archie thought, in her matronly pearl-colored gown with a dainty trifle of rich lace on her still abundant hair. He was very proud of his little mama …”

“Sister Jane …graced the frivolous scene in a serious black gown with a diadem of purple asters nodding above her severe brow …”

“‘The cadets,’ as Will and Geordie called themselves, were there as gorgeous as you please, and the agonies they suffered that night with tight boots and stiff collars no pen can fitly tell. But only to one another did they confide these sufferings and the rare moments of repose when they could stand on one aching foot with hands comfortably sunken inside the excruciating collars, which rasped their ears and made the lobes thereof a pleasing scarlet. Brief were these moments, however, and the Spartan boys danced on with smiling faces, undaunted by the hidden anguish which preyed upon them ‘fore and aft,’ as Will expressed it.”
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And here are some scrumptious dresses from Little House in the Big Woods:

“Aunt Docia’s dress was a sprigged print, dark blue, with sprigs of red flowers and green leaves thick upon it. The basque was buttoned down the front with black buttons which looked so exactly like juicy big blackberries that Laura wanted to taste them.
“Aunt Ruby’s dress was wine-colored calico, covered all over with a fine feathery pattern in light wine color. It buttoned with gold-colored buttons, and every button had a little castle and a tree carved on it….
“Ma was beautiful, too, in her dark green delaine, with little leaves that looked like strawberries scattered over it. Beautiful dark red buttons buttoned the basque up the front. The skirt was ruffled and flounced and draped and trimmed with knots of dark green ribbon, and nestling at her throat was a gold pin …. Ma looked so rich and fine that Laura was afraid to touch her.”
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Do you like to describe clothing in your writing, or read about it in other novels? Which of these descriptions was your favorite?