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

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Interview and Post Camp NaNoWriMo

I hope you’ve been doing well! Today I wanted to tell you about an interview of me at Homeschool Authors and a giveaway of a signed print copy of one of my novels. Click here to read the interview and enter the giveaway!

In other news, Camp NaNoWriMo is approaching the finish line—April 30 at midnight—but I and my goal are safely beyond that line. I reached it on April 25, and it was just in time, because my writing lungs were running out of inspiration. I am so glad I participated, though! It really sped along my WIP and, equally if not more importantly, showed me that I’m capable of writing more words, more quickly, than I had thought. It just takes discipline. There were days I didn’t feel I had the time or the inspiration to write, but I put aside everything that could be put aside and pressed out those words until it was safe to stop. The temptation now, however, is to ride on that wave of success for a while as I give attention to other things that waited patiently while I was writing—but my goal is to keep working consistently until this novel is finished! Why else did I learn those discipline lessons that Camp NaNo taught me? So all in all this has been a very profitable experience! 

If you write, do you work best being consistent, writing some almost every day, or do you do it in long spurts?

Monday, April 27, 2015

Grace Triumphant Cover Reveal

I am honored to participate in the cover reveal for Alicia A. Willis's upcoming novel, Grace Triumphant: A Tale of the Slave Trade, expected to be published November 2015! Click here to add it to your to-read list on Goodreads. I am so excited for this book! Isn't this a spectacular cover?

Profligate London, 1788. Slave ships haunt the seas, bearing human cargos to further the wealth of the rich and destroy the souls of the slave traffickers.

Russell Lawrence is an avid skeptic. Captain of the slave ship Barbados, wealthy, and a respected leader, he views religion as a crutch for the weak. But when the debauchery of the slave trade begins to destroy his good morals, his battle becomes more than fighting pirates and mutineers. What if there really is a God?

Impressed as a cabin boy, Jack Dunbar sees his forced service on the Barbados as a God-given opportunity to witness Christ to the crew. When his efforts to influence the hardened slavers seems to be doing little, running away seems his best option. But the punishment for desertion is harsh. And is returning to the life he once knew worth ruining the work he’s tried to do for the Lord?

Back in Grosvenor Square, Elizabeth Grey battles opposition from society and her self-seeking fiancée. Her work with John Newton to end the slave trade is being harshly attacked. She faces life branded as a jilter and radical if she stands up for what she believes in. Will she ever glean the strength to call sin by its rightful name?

A tale of adventure on the high seas, redemption, and faith. Sin abounds. Is grace enough to conquer doubt and triumph over evil?

Alicia A. Willis is a home-school graduate, published author, and avid historian. She is a firm believer in the principle that one can accomplish anything by substantial amounts of prayer and coffee. Visit her at her blog or Facebook to view her historical-fiction novels and all the goings-on between writing!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Makings of a Book Cover

In this short post today, I wanted to chat about the cover of my recently published England Adventure and thank some of the people involved. I’m not a cover designer, but I find the process fascinating, especially since I got to be fairly involved with this novel’s cover. These lovely people gave it their time and talents: Melissa Gibson and E. Kaiser Writes.

Melissa found a photo of a blond girl gazing wistfully across the River Thames toward the magnificent St. Paul’s Cathedral. She cropped it for maximum effect, sized it, and added the title and author name, then created a spine and back cover playing off the soft, blue color scheme of the photo. St. Paul’s was special to me; I remember how it captured my love and admiration across the wide river just like it seems to have done for this girl. Due to unforeseen circumstances, Melissa was unable to finish the cover, so E. Kaiser Writes graciously gave it its final tweaks and voila! I had the final product and could publish. The proof copy soon came in the mail, and it was even more beautiful in person. Blue’s my favorite color, so I am beyond pleased that I finally have a book with my name on it to match!

Here is the full cover, spine and everything: 

I love how Melissa designed the spine! It’s one of my favorite shades of blue, too.

Here are the two Six Cousins novels together: 

Lord willing, there will be more to add to the set in other pretty colors. And so, I say thank you, Melissa and E. Kaiser Writes, for contributing your skills to this project!

In other news, I upped my word count goal for Camp NaNoWriMo, as I prayed I’d be able to do, to 15,000 words. If I keep going at my present rate, it looks like I will be reaching it very soon! When it’s all said and done I’ll have some reflections to share.

Also, I wanted to share five articles on Word Painters that you may be interested in; one of them is mine:
To Write, Live
Plot Twists
Social Media 101
Gifts for Writers
Reality’s Mirror

Do you design your own covers for your published or unpublished works? Can you give a short summary of where you get your ideas, and how your process works?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015


My post today is twofold because I couldn’t wait another week for either of my subjects. They tie in together because of that: they’re time-bound.

Daniel Ullrich, Threedots, Wikimedia Commons
For the past few years, I have found it extremely meaningful to observe Yom HaShoah (“Day of the Catastrophe,” the shortened Hebrew name for Holocaust Remembrance Day) because it is so important to stand with the Jewish people, God’s special nation, and repudiate what Hitler and his minions did, as well as what God’s enemies are trying to do today. This year it occurs on Thursday, April 16 (Hebrew dates, on the lunar calendar, jump around on the Gregorian calendar). It seems especially momentous this year, because 2015 marks the seventieth anniversary of the end of World War Two and the liberation of all the Nazi concentration camps. On January 27 of 1945, as the Allies were defeating the Axis, Auschwitz was set free. Auschwitz Day (January 27 every year) is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and Auschwitz is probably the most well known location connected to the five-year-long atrocity against Nazi prisoners. So this year’s remembrance days are doubly significant.

What can we do on Holocaust Remembrance Day this Thursday? Even remembering that it’s a special day will do the trick. In bigger towns and cities, there might be a memorial service to attend at a synagogue or museum. Watching a good movie or documentary and reading about the Holocaust would be worthwhile. Informing friends, maybe getting a conversation going about stories they’ve heard or have in their families, would further enrich the day. By remembering in these ways we do what we can to counteract Hitler’s crime.

Yom HaShoah comes eight days before Israel’s Independence Day. Even if this isn’t entirely what the authorities had in mind (Wikipedia said something about the original date being planned for the Hebrew day of Nisan 14, the anniversary of the Warsaw ghetto uprising, but since this is also right at Passover-time every year, they decided it would not be suitable) I see the timing as very appropriate, because spring represents renewal. The Holocaust is horrific, but it’s inextricably linked to Israel’s becoming an independent state on May 14, 1948, an extraordinary resurrection of sorts after the Jewish people had been exiled from their land since 70 A.D.

Spring, then, is a special time of year, between remembering our Savior’s death and resurrection that brought us salvation, and Israel’s partial (in the physical) renewal.

To close, I wanted to share some nature pictures I took around our neighborhood ... a change of subject, but I thought they'd be nice anyway!

Mexican Buckeye




Happy Spring!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Reflections in a Glass Slipper

(Before I go into my main blog post, I wanted to give my update on Camp NaNoWriMo, for all those interested: it’s going well so far. I’m ahead of the game, in fact!

And also! I hope you had an incredibly blessed Passover/Unleavened Bread/First Fruits/Resurrection Day! I hope that our Lord and Savior used them to bring you closer to Him.)

Last week, I got to see the new Disney live-action Cinderella with a lovely group of friends. We all enjoyed it; very few things in it bothered me in comparison to most mainstream films. In every aspect it was a beautiful movie. Probably the most visually beautiful movie I’ve ever seen. The sets were utterly idyllic … Cinderella’s mansion, stone and castle-like but cozy and homey, decorated in Georgian-Victorian style (I stored ideas away for my dream house); the gardens and farm, not too pristine but lovely all the same; the surrounding woods and meadows; the classical capital city on the edge of the sea. The actors were gorgeously arrayed in costumes that revealed their character. The actors powerfully portrayed those personalities, too.

The tone of the movie was fairytale yet not too over-the-top to feel quasi historical—it was a mixture of historical eras, though, to make sure you never forgot it was a fairy tale, so when the fairy godmother showed up—the only magical person in the film—you didn’t feel she was out of place. (Side issue, but I just read in a how-to-write book that if, in a work of fiction, you’re going to introduce something typically unbelievable, you’d best hint at it very early on so that readers feel it’s justifiable and belongs in the story when it enters in full. The writer of Cinderella did this perfectly by having Cinderella’s mother speak about magic and the fairy godmother at the beginning so we knew what to expect later on.) As you can tell from that parenthetical note, I noticed tons of things the moviemakers did well, and if you see it/have seen it, you’ll notice them, too, so I don’t need to detail all of them (a daunting task!).

To continue about a few other things that struck me, however: I appreciated the message. “Have courage and be kind” is not something you often hear in pop culture nowadays. I read an article about Cinderella’s brand of power and how it contrasts with the female warriors that are all the rage right now. The director, Kenneth Branagh, said he wanted this movie to show kindness can be a super power (“Behind the Goodness in Disney’s New Cinderella”). That message is something young girls actually benefit from taking to heart rather than violence and attitude. All girls find themselves in positions where they have to choose to be kind and good, and Cinderella shows the importance of that choice. (Albeit a little romanticized, but still … kindness and goodness does pay off!)

Before I saw this movie, I watched the animated Cinderella from 1950. Cinderella is probably my favorite fairy tale and Disney princess (she and Mulan are both up there), but I had forgotten how much the animated version focused on the animals (mice, cat, etc.) and how little on the prince. Which was fine with me; I loved the storyline of the mice and was left with little desire to know more about Prince Charming, who actually seemed rather selfish to me. I loved how the new version paid tribute to the animated version (with such things as reminiscent costumes and a gluttonous mouse called Gus-Gus) but fleshed out the human portion of the story. It was like Cinderella grown up.

I didn’t really set out to write a full review, but just wanted to share some of the many thoughts sparked by this lovely film. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!