Wednesday, April 27, 2011

He knows...

He knows the way that I take.

Job 23:10

When I feel God is the farthest away, He is often the nearest to me. "When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who know my way" (Psalm 142:3).

Do we know of another who shines brighter than the most radiant sunlight, who meets us in our room with the first waking light, who has an infinitely tender and compassionate watchfulness over us throughout our day, and who "knows the way that we take?"

Oh, believer, what a glorious assurance this verse is! What confidence I have because "the way that I take" - this way of trials and tears, however winding, hidden, or tangled - "He knows"! There is an Almighty God who knows and directs my steps.

~Streams in the Desert

Monday, April 25, 2011

the end

What, you may wonder, does an author do when she's not writing? This one spends time between chapters and scene breaks researching and hunting up antiquities like this at left. If I owned a pair of jumps this lovely I wouldn't bother wearing a dress! I'm always a bit awed that genteel women in the 18th-century were so well dressed underneath.

Okay, so it looks a little like body armor. But consider all the sigh-inducing details - the mauve ribbons/bows, the embroidered bodice, the laces that were so decoratively anchored, for lack of a better word. And check out that waistline! Our colonial sisters weren't really as tiny as we've been led to believe. The average waist size back then was 31 inches. Dear Martha Washington was downright fluffy! But I don't think George minded a bit;)

I just wrote THE END on my next book and put down my pen as you can see here at right. Book one of The Ballantyne Legacy. This is never one of those jump up and down, happy as a lark moments for me. Quite the contrary. Nothing makes me happier than a first draft. I'm always sad to finish, though I have months yet of polishing and rearranging before deadline.

First drafts are kind of like first love:) Future drafts are like marriage. After a while they kind of lose their lustre though the emotional tug remains. Not all writers agree. Some like editing and polishing best. Me, not so much.

I'm afraid I'm one of those slothful authors who pens their first draft in longhand;) No one can make heads or tails of my penmanship above and if I wait too long to transfer it to my laptop, I can't either. I usually write a couple of chapters and then type it on Word. There's something so comforting about writing in notebooks, maybe because I've been doing it since I was small. And unlike my laptop, notebooks don't crash!

Do you ever dread reaching THE END? Can you name the last book that you loved so much it left you wanting more?

Friday, April 22, 2011

blessed easter

Wanting to wish each of you a very blessed Good Friday and Easter!

On Easter Day the veil between time and eternity thins to gossamer. ~David Horton

Where man sees but withered leaves, God sees sweet flowers growing. ~Albert Leighton

Our whimsy winner is...


You should see that lovely Lost in the Pages mug in your mailbox very soon:)

If you could confirm your snail mail address for me at, I'll have Heather mail that right out. Bless you all!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

by my spirit...

"Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit," says the Lord Almighty.
~Zechariah 4:6

Once as I walked along the road on a steep hill, I caught sight of a boy on a bicycle near the bottom. He was pedaling uphill against the wind and was obviously working tremendously hard. Just as he was exerting the greatest effort and painfully doing the best he could do, a streetcar, also going up the hill, approached him. It was not traveling too fast for the boy to grab hold off a rail at the rear, and I am sure you can guess the result. He went up the hill as effortlessly as a bird gliding through the sky.

This thought then flashed through my mind: "I am like that boy on the bicycle in my weariness and weakness. I am pedaling uphill against all kinds of opposition and am almost worn out with the task. But nearby there is great power available - the strength of the Lord Jesus. All I must do is get in touch with Him and maintain communication with Him. And even if I grab hold with only one little finger of faith, it will be enough to make His power mine to accomplish the act of service that now overwhelms me."

Seeing this boy on his bicycle helped me to set aside my weariness and to recognize this great truth.

~Streams in the Desert

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

thank you...

I thought my birthday was a secret but it proved otherwise. Bless you for making my day the best ever:)

Monday, April 18, 2011

a bit of april whimsy

Whimsy is a wonderful word. I don't use it as much as I like.

whimsy: (1605) whim, caprice; a fanciful or fantastic device, object, or creation especially in writing or art

If I could, I'd invite you into my sunroom and we'd have tea and talk about whatever tickles your fancy;) Sounds sort of inviting for a rainy April day! I'm partial to pretty cups and mugs like these, and some exquisite china cups in a Dundee thistle pattern figure prominently in The Colonel's Lady. Those characters seem to sip a lot of tea between those 408 pages...

I'd serve you some 18th-century Bohea or Conjou (or Gunpowder tea) and sneak in some 18th-century edibles like candied roses and violets or sugared almonds. Coffee wasn't very popular until after the American Revolution and chocolate was mostly for the rich. But tea was consumed in great quantities during my beloved colonial period.

In honor of whimsy, spring, tea, and books, I'd love to gift you with this wonderful oversized mug called Lost in the Pages , created by our very own Heather. Winner announced this Friday.

So, which tea will you be having? And what shall we talk about? Best loved books? Heroes? Writing and publishing? The upcoming Royal Wedding? Homeschooling? Easter? Dust bunnies? Your latest blessings? That latest Amazon order? Go ahead - it's your party! If nobody shows, we'll just eat all those candied violets ourselves;)

There is a great deal of poetry and fine sentiment in a cup of tea. ~Emerson

Each cup of tea represents an imaginary voyage. ~ Catherine Douzel

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

the shade

Have you ever heard of anyone being greatly used by Christ who did not experience a special time of waiting, or a complete upset of their plans at first?

Once when I thought the door was being thrown open for me to enter the literary field with a great opportunity, it was just as quickly shut. My doctor stepped in and simply said, "Never! You must choose between writing and living, for you cannot do both." The year was 1860, and I did not come out of the shell of my isolation with my Ministry of Song until 1869. By then I saw the distinct wisdom of having been kept waiting nine years in the shade.

God's love is unchangeable, and He is just as loving, even when we do not see or feel it. And His love and His sovereignty are equal and universal. Therefore He often withholds our enjoyment and awareness of our progress, because He knows what will actually ripen and further His work in us.

~Frances Ridley Havergal

Sunday, April 10, 2011

bookmarks, cookies, and books

Spring break was a blur of bookmarks, cookies, and books - not a bad combo:) A little sun, a few walks. I even spent a day editing/writing on the deck and am sunkissed, to boot. It was good being home with the boys. They kept me busy baking and bringing home surprises from the mailbox. Here are a few at left. You'll probably be seeing them in your mailbox this summer, right before release day. I love the vivid blue background on the bookcards. The bookmarks are more muted but look very pretty in person. And they serve a very practical purpose;) One can never have too many bookmarks, right?

Over break I received this treasure from Amazon. Wyatt is reading it for history class and it's quite a wild ride! I snagged my own copy for researching the yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia for the series I'm working on. Young Adult books are one of my passions ~ my personal favorite, Ann Rinaldi, is taking over my office! This book isn't a comfortable read but is full of wonderful detail from that very terrible time.

Love those God-instances of being blessed with just the right book, a friend, or another fulfilled need. Speaking of books, I have exciting news to tell you about the new historical series I'm writing but will save it till next time as this post is sprawling...

No spring break would be complete without lots of baking. Thanks to the Pioneer Woman and my friend Patti in Kentucky, I discovered this cookie recipe. Beware, malted milk lovers ~ these cookies are nearly as good as a chocolate malt! If you add ice cream and sprinkles, you can have it all;)

Malted Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar and 3/4 cup white sugar
2 whole eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/4 teaspoon salt
1 12 oz. bag milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup malted milk powder

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream butter, both sugars, till fluffy. Add eggs and beat slightly, then add vanilla and beat till combined. Add malted milk powder and beat till combined. Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to butter mixture, beating gently until just combined. Add chocolate chips and stir gently. Drop by teaspoonfuls and bake for 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool completely, then use two cookies to make an ice cream sandwich. Add sprinkles to the sides of the ice cream, then wrap individually in plastic wrap.

I guess my week can be summed up in 3 words ~ bookmarks, cookies, and books. If you could sum up yours, what would they be? At least one of you dear readers could say, "boxes, boxes, boxes" as it's moving day! I'd love to know what you've been up to;)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

spring break!

I'll be offline this coming week enjoying spring break with my boys. Time to slow down and treasure the little things. Have a cup of tea. Plant a cherry tree. Bake cookies. Sweep the deck. Take a long walk. Write a letter. Hope you take time for the little things, too.

April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.


If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall.

~Nadine Stair

It's spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you've got it, you want - oh, you don't quite know what you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!

~Mark Twain

Friday, April 1, 2011

historical pursuits

Remember the game Trivial Pursuit? I was thinking how fun it would be, for us history lovers at least, to play one that was historical in nature. If you know of any I'd love to hear about them! Tying in past and present, here is the finale of the spring show for Washington Old Time Fiddlers that Paul took part in this week. He's at the far right holding his fiddle in front of him, looking away from the stage. He calls his violin "Lucy" for some reason and loves her to death, especially when he's not practicing;) If you click on the picture it enlarges quite nicely, if you want a wider view.

You'll see quite a few female violinists onstage here, something of a no-no during the 18th-century. Here's a bit of trivia I loved stumbling across in my research, taken from a copy of the Virginia Gazette April 1, 1775:

Ladies who are inclined to play the GUITTAR may be instructed on that instrument by a lady lately arrived - Inquire of the Printers hereof.

Ladies were encouraged to play keyboard instruments or guitars ("lap instruments") because it was considered improper for a lady to raise and expose her arms as would be necessary when playing the violin or flute. I have my Roxanna Rowan in The Colonel's Lady heeding this advice, only I won't tell you which instrument she plays. You'll just have to read the book!

Have you come across any interesting historical trivia in your reading or writing? I'd love to hear it here!

Happy April 1st!