Friday, July 30, 2010

endless inspiration

This weekend Paul, my little fiddler, and I are headed over the mountains to the state fiddle camp. It's sort of a working vacation for me ~ him, too:) He's all ready to go and has packed "Lucy" as he calls his violin in her case. We're very excited as this is an amazing event where you take lessons from and play with master musicians from all over Washington State. Lots of great music, food, and dancing. Plus the weather is just right way over there ~ temps of 100 degrees or so and plenty of sunshine. If I close my eyes I can pretend I'm home in Kentucky:) When it's sunny outside, I'm sunny inside. I just plain love hot weather and always have.

I don't believe in coincidences, just divine instances. In this case, it was providential that I turned TCL in and am now off to fiddle camp. All that music is bound to provide endless inspiration. You see, one of the major themes in my next historical is music. You can probably guess what kind of instrument...

The violin sings but the fiddle dances. ~ Mark Twain

A table, a chair, a bowl of fruit and a violin; what else does a man need to be happy? ~ Albert Einstein

Bless you till we meet again!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

who are these characters anyway?

Have you ever been so busy you forget what day it is? This week has been like that for me. This morning I pressed SEND and said goodbye to my cast of characters in The Colonel's Lady. Always a wrench:( Now my editor will be reading, reading, reading. And I hope she falls in love with them like I have. I won't see the manuscript again till she gives me her impressions. Prayers appreciated! When you set one cast of characters aside, it's time to begin dreaming up another. But who are these people, anyway? Often writers make a character chart or extensive lists and become acquainted that way. I rely mainly on research and prayer, asking the Lord to fill my head and heart with the people He wants on the pages.

I've started a notebook devoted to the people I'll be spending the next year or so with and have been writing little snippets down ~ a scrap of conversation here, a physical attribute there. And I have some fine research books to help me along. But it's mainly that mysterious little thing called inspiration that gets the job done. You really need to fall in love with your characters to bring them to life. And I don't know how that's done either:) But it's essential.

Sometimes it helps if you see a person and think, "Oh, that's him ~ or her!" At RelzReviewz, Rel brings to life story people in very interesting, inspiring ways. I invite you to come over to Australia and see what we've done with the people in Morrow's world. You just might see someone you know:) Better yet, you'll meet Rel who is an exceptional person and book-loving author advocate! Though chances are you've met her already:)

How do you envision characters when you read a book? Do you draw from a celebrity photo or just form an image in your head? If you're a writer, what is the process you use for character development?

For those who stop by here or there and leave a comment, I'll be giving away a pretty notebook and writing pen (for inspiration!) in a drawing. Winner will be announced Saturday, August 7.

Be blessed!

Monday, July 26, 2010

the colonel's lady

Recently Revell's art director contacted me about the cover for The Colonel's Lady. The art team is ready to begin work on it and I'm so excited! I told her about our lively discussion here regarding cover ideas, blue dress and all:) And she wanted to take a look at your comments! Thanks again for each and every one.

Once upon a time, TCL was The Locket, as you may remember. But I won't tell you any more than this as the locket itself is so key to the plot. No spoilers by this author:) Suffice it to say, I love antique jewelry. Many 18th-century lockets contained tiny portraits or locks of hair. I did ask that a locket be included on the cover. I always pray about the cover art. It really is the essence of the book or should be.

In a few more days I'll send the TCL manuscript into my editor. It's been fun this go round to develop a timeline for the book. I also wrote my first 'author's note'. Am wondering if readers ever read those brief pages (or page) at the back of the book that explains a bit about the history or events in the novel? Well, I loved doing it and hope it adds to the reading experience. History hands us so many fascinating things. It's a joy to elaborate a bit about what is fiction and what is fact before telling the reader goodbye.

I'm always a little sad to come to the end of a story. It's been such fun spending 400 pages with a mature woman this time after 2 teenagers:) I love Lael and Morrow but Roxanna is a breath of fresh air! Hopefully you'll feel the same. I can't wait for you to meet her.

Meanwhile, it's sunny and warm here at last. We just heard that this summer is the hottest on record for the entire country. Personally, I'd like the end of July to last forever. School begins here September 1 and then it's another book project to begin for me. I'm looking forward to telling you more about that soon, too.

Do you see a need in the Christian market for a certain type of book or series? What genre do you prefer or what type story would you like to see more of?

Friday, July 23, 2010


Ever found a quote or verse of Scripture just when you need it? Likely it's no accident:) Recently a friend emailed me this quote and it meant so much to me I thought I'd share it with you. Her timing was perfect.

I am no longer anxious about anything, as I realize that He is able to carry out His will for me. It does not matter where He places me, or how. That is for Him to consider, not me, for in the easiest positions He will give me grace, and in the most difficult ones His grace is sufficient. ~Hudson Taylor

Do you have a favorite Scripture verse or quote that means a great deal to you? Please leave it here ~ you never know who you'll bless in the process! Happy Friday!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

blog tours and such

Thanks to my dear friend, Kelly, here are 2 recent pics from a Christian bookstore. I nearly jumped up and down when I saw Lael and Ian:) This week Morrow is on blog tour with Revell. My publisher really pulls out all the stops to connect authors and readers on the web. I'm so grateful! I've met some of you because of my first tour with The Frontiersman's Daughter and am meeting more wonderful bloggers this time around.

Since I don't have an official list of who is participating yet (Revell bundles the reviews and sends them to me when the tour is over), I will highlight the ones I know about here. Bloggers have until Sunday, July 25, to post their reviews. If you run across a particularly good one I might have missed, I'd love to know about it:) Some of you who aren't part of the blog tour have already written reviews ~ thank you from the bottom of my heart!

So far, these are the ones I've had the pleasure of reading...Michelle, Becky, Rel, Mary, Ashley, Holly, Patricia,
lollipops, Theresa, Kaye, Karla, and Kristina.

Hats off to all these wonderful readers and reviewers!! And to those I haven't met yet! After I posted this, another in-depth one rolled in, complete with a picture of Red Shirt. Bless you, Andrea!

Since I'm busy meeting this next deadline which means reading the manuscript over and over and over again, double-checking a timeline of events, and an author note, I probably won't check back in till the weekend. Till then...

Happy reading!

Monday, July 19, 2010

what page are you on?

Welcome to another week! My deadline for The Colonel's Lady is now days away. And the sun is shining and the deck is calling... I think I much prefer winter deadlines:) Only I've not had one yet. I've been thinking of my readers ~ you readers ~ and wondering what you're reading right now. So many good books out there no matter the season ~ spring, summer, fall, winter...

I love these vintage bookmarks and books. When I want to give a gift I usually end up giving a book and try to find a classy bookmark. If I could gift you all with one book it would be L.M. Montgomery's The Blue Castle. But Morrow will have to do:)

I'm making a resolution to read more pleasure books in future as I'm logging more time doing research than anything else. Just finished Siri Mitchell's She Walks in Beauty, which I'd love to give away to you the first week of August. Am now on page 204 of The Sackett's by Louis L'Amour. I also have bookmarks lodged in The Practice of God's Presence by Andrew Murray and 1776 by David McCullough. The last 2 are amazing reads!! Thanks to two reading friends, they are a part of my permanent library. And I just broke my Amazon ban and ordered The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom and Lady in the Mist by Laurie Alice Eakes. So there you have it!

Do you find it hard to read in summer with so many distractions? Find it easier to curl up by the fire with a good book in winter? So...what page are you on? Care to share any great summer reads?

A good book has no ending. ~R.D. Cumming

Thursday, July 15, 2010

window to my world

Morrow and I are visiting my dear friend, Kim, over at her very creative, winsomely titled blog, Window to My World . We met last year when The Frontiersman's Daughter was released. Her heartfelt review became one of my favorites. Kim's enthusiasm and joy for books and writing are truly contagious! I hope you will take a peek, say hello to Kim, and enter the drawing for Morrow's birthday:) This time we thought a Morrow-type gift would be appropriate so the winner will receive a hatbox filled with Crabtree&Evelyn's Summer collection. Bless you all!

The soul feeds on simple joys and withers without them. ~Victoria Moran

Let your mind be quiet, realizing the beauty of the world...the boundless treasures that it holds in store. ~Edward Carpenter

I thank thee, O Lord, that thou hast so set eternity within my heart that no earthly thing can ever satisfy me wholly. ~John Baillie

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

tell the gardener...

"Tell the gardener I shall expect everything that a Garden ought to produce, in the most ample manner."
~George Washington to William Pearce, November 23, 1794

"Set out the Palmeto Royal in my garden...and put the box in which the Magnolia, live oak, and sower oranges were in the area in front of the Green House."
~Diary of George Washington, May 23, 1785

This is one of my favorite photos of the gardens at Mt. Vernon. See the necessary (aka bathroom) in the corner? Seems like George thought of everything:) It's Wednesday here, the sun is shining, I'm nearly through my final edit of The Colonel's Lady, and I just might get a chance to go out into my own garden. The peas, beans, potatoes, onions and wildflowers are up. My favorite rose, Cecile Bruner, with its tiny pink buds and blossoms, just finished blooming but we have another rose with blossoms the size of a dinner plate! And the boys are loving the raspberries being ripe and hunting in the woods for wild blackberries.

I just became reacquainted with the fact that flowers have meanings. In olden days people made much of this. One of my favorites, lily of the valley, signifies Christ's second coming. Not sure why but it's interesting. Do you have a favorite flower? Know its meaning?

~Happy Wednesday~

Sunday, July 11, 2010

the real red shirt

My apologies to readers for Blogger as it's behaving badly! Parts and pieces of this post have now disappeared as well as comments. Since I don't have time to figure it out, thanks to those of you who faithfully persist! On a different note...

Readers often ask where the inspiration for a character comes from. I always point to history books and old photographs. Here is the real Red Shirt. Born along Nebraska's Platte River in the 1830's to an Indian mother and white father, he is something of an enigma. I discovered him 20 years ago while researching the Oglala/Lakota (Sioux) Indians for a Dances With Wolves type novel. He identified with the Lakota and lived free till his people were placed on reservations. He and his wife, Pretty Woman, had several children. The photo shows him (far right) accompanying the famous chief, Red Cloud, in a delegation to Washington DC. Later, he joined Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show.

I've carried him around in my head and heart for a long time:) Of course, I had to alter him a bit for my book. He had to leave the Sioux and become Shawnee. And Pretty Woman was a thing of the past! I also had to tweak his name to fit into the historical context of the 18th-century. Most importantly, my Red Shirt found freedom in Christ as well as freedom to exist where he pleased. Literary license is a fine thing. Every reader will have a different picture of him in their head and heart, too.

What is life? If is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset. ~Crowfoot

Many thanks to my dear friend, Mary, who is hosting a double whammy giveaway of Courting Morrow Little. Please take a peek and enter to win a gift book, even if you have one of your own. Bless you all!

Friday, July 9, 2010

more morrow...and a new title!

Many thanks to Amanda for providing this photo of Morrow from an east coast bookstore. The little placard on the shelf sure makes me smile ~ haven't seen anything like that before. Quite charming! I'm truly grateful to all of you for taking time to send pictures and letting me know you're bumping into Morrow from Kentucky to Oklahoma to California and other parts:) As an author, it's kind of fun to see who you're beside on the bookshelf. Usually Ann Gabhart and I are keeping company:)

I wanted to give a shout-out to Heather for hosting Morrow on her blog. It would be a lonesome journey without blogging friends. Her site reflects her own love of history and is super-creative and inspirational. Please take a peek at her amazing artwork!

Today is our fourth and final giveaway and then I'll begin spotlighting and sending out new books by other authors starting in August. For now, today's winner is...Britt! Looks like I'll be sending another book to Tennessee:)

I couldn't wait to share my news about the title for book 3. Drum roll, please, which seems so fitting given it's about a Revolutionary War hero... I just heard that the official title for The Colonel's Lady is...THE COLONEL'S LADY! Since it's the essence of the book, I'm so glad the title was kept. Now for that cover. Improving on Morrow will be hard to do.

I'd love some help. Soon the art team will ask me about ideas for this upcoming book cover. When you hear the title, The Colonel's Lady, what comes to mind? What kinds of things do you like to see on a cover? Do you prefer covers with just the female ~ or the male, also? I'd love to know! No idea is too silly. It's fun to brainstorm. And your ideas just might come to life on the cover:)

Happy Friday.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

ever learning

When I first started my journey to publication, an editor told me, "Enjoy the learning process." At that point, I had no idea what she meant. But now I think I'm beginning to understand:) I feel like I'm back in school. Here are a few things I'm learning...

1. Publishing is a business. You must show up for work every day and put your "cheeks in chair" as James Scott Bell would say, and crank out words, no matter your level of inspiration.

2. Writing is mostly rewriting. Good writing, anyway. If you think your work can't be improved, it probably needs more work.

3. Write for yourself first. Write what you love. Write with your heart. Your whole heart.

4. When you finish a first draft, set the manuscript aside for awhile. Print out a hard copy and then go over it with a blue pen or a red pen. There should be lots of color when you're done. Have fun incorporating all those changes:) Then do it all over again. And again...

5. Be prepared to deal with insecurity, disappointments, and naysayers. Being published doesn't mean staying published. Or feeling like you've arrived. Or having everyone love your book.

6. Don't expect your editor to slap you on the back and call you buddy. It's a business relationship. When your work is the best it can be, they'll be pleased and so will you. Mostly the writing life is a solitary life where you are left alone to write the best book you can.

7. Don't become so burdened by the rules of writing that you can't write. Prologues, backstory, narrative and all the "no-no's" have their place.

8. Be gracious. Send a handwritten thank you note, a bouquet, or gift basket to your agent, editor, or a writing mentor.

9. There are many, many fine writers out there and very few publishing slots. If by some miracle and much hard work you publish a book - WOW! Don't let it go to your head.

10. Be thankful. I love this verse: I am not worthy of the least of all Thy mercies. ~Genesis 32:10

I wrote this particular post in May but it was such a departure from my usual I kept it as a draft till now. I don't write much about writing. There are so many other fine blogs that focus on that, including my agent's, Janet Grant. She has a very insightful post today that gives you a front row seat regarding the writer-publisher relationship.

Can you add to my list? Do you enjoy the writing life? Or are you thankful you are a reader and not a writer?

Monday, July 5, 2010

beautiful books 2011

This post will be short and sweet as I'm working toward that deadline for The Colonel's Lady, even as the titling committee is meeting to see if they're keeping this title or will change to a better one. I'll post about that as soon as I hear. This is such a busy month for me with lots of online interviews and giveaways and book business. I'd so appreciate your prayers on my behalf. I pray for my readers daily so that way we're both blessed!

I couldn't wait to post these new historical covers for you from my publisher. See any that just "pop" for you? I'll share my insights if you'll share yours:) Bless you today in whatever it is you're doing!

Nothing new here, except my marrying, which to me is a matter of profound wonder. ~Abraham Lincoln on his marriage to Mary Todd, 1842

Friday, July 2, 2010

happy 4th to you!

Our regularly scheduled episode of Morrow's World has been moved to next week in honor of the 4th of July. Since the 18th-century is my favorite time period, July 4th has special meaning to me. Thought I'd share some of my favorite pictures here. As I edit The Colonel's Lady for the last time before turning it in August 1, I'm writing about the American flag when it had thirteen stars and soldiers wearing Continental uniforms like the one below.

My Colonel McLinn is quite dashing in uniform - look at all those buttons! I've heard General Washington was a sight to behold in uniform, also, especially astride his horse. He had a natural dignity that made people pause and take notice. If I could leap back into history, I'd like to have been at Valley Forge or one of the battles of the revolution or the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Isn't this the most charming colonial house? The struggling widow, Betsy Ross, was running her own upholstery business in Philadelphia when George Washington came to her and asked her about sewing an American flag. Since she was quite savvy with her scissors, she cut him a lovely star to show him the design she had in mind. He agreed and the rest is history:)

We're headed to the lake on Sunday for a cookout with Randy's family. Though it usually rains, the boys will take their swim gear, anyway. The fireworks display over the lake is quite spectacular!

Do you have plans for the 4th? If you could travel through time to the 18th-century, what event would you like to have been a part of or witnessed?

Our giveaway winner this week is...

Happy 4th of July to you all!

Freedom is never given, it is won. ~unknown