Wednesday, April 30, 2008

No Spotlight

There's no Spotlight today. I've been completely engrossed in the sometimes strange ways God works things out for us.

The agent at the top of my list is a member of my European group. The announcement last week that Rachelle Gardner is open again to historical romances set us all atwitter and we started discussing her in particular and agents in general. I mentioned that she was on my list and some of the things others had shared would come in very handy. But Rachelle was not at the top of my list. Someone else is. Never in my wildest dreams or most overactive imagination did I think I'd get an invitation to query A Time For War.

Kelly Mortimer is a dear!!!! As with all agents, she won't offer representation on an unfinished manuscript. Which makes perfect sense, this is a business after all. But she does have a heart for new writers and wants to encourage us and help us on the path to publication. That's her purpose in letting me query.

So I've spent the last 3 days crafting my first query letter, running it through my crit partners and tweaking and cutting and shortening to one page. Finished it today and sent it off to Kelly's inbox. I'm anxious to read her comments and see what advice she has to offer.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Friday Fact

Today we'll wrap up the unofficial series on lace. This post will exhaust my knowledge of the artform!

One of the most popular forms of lace currently is knit lace. It's also one of the oldest forms of lace making, being nearly as old as knitting itself. However, it's not as delicately sturdy as crocheted lace and is used mainly as clothing. A knit doily just won't hold up very long and it would be a very bad choice to protect a chair from pomaded hair.

Knit lace is used mainly in shawls, like this beauty here designed by my friend Laura Patterson. Gorgeous isn't it? I haven't tackled knit lace yet, but I do have my first pattern picked out.

Next week I think we'll start wandering through some of the different kinds of embroidery.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Spotlight on Europe

As High As The Heavens by Kathleen Morgan

From CBD:
It is 1568 and Mary, Queen of Scots, is imprisoned in Lochleven Castle. But her supporters, including noblewoman Heather Gordon, are planning a rescue. Heather travels to a cottage in the frigid Highlands to teach a simple man, who just happens to resemble someone with access to Lochleven, how to act the part of a nobleman in order to gain entry to the castle. But in the close quarters of the cottage there is more stirring than political rebellion.

This one is a relatively recent release and appears to be rather popular. I've heard lots of good things about Kathleen's writing but have yet to read one of her books. I think this will be the first one. Partly because the publisher is Revell and partly because it sounds very interesting. This is not a plot that's very common right now. This time period in general is also doing well right now with last year's "Elizabeth: The Golden Age" starring Cate Blanchett and "The Other Boleyn Girl" from last month starring Natalie Portman and Scarlet Johansen.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Review- Better Than Gold

Better Than Gold
Lily is tired of her one-horse town. Lily Reese can't wait to escape Browning City, Iowa. She's sure she'll be happier in the big city, if only she can save enough money to get there. But then Ben Purcell rides into town, threatening not only Lily's place of residence and growing sense of family, but her safety and peace of mind, as well. And Ben has every intention of sticking around and becoming a small-town guy. How can Lily even consider the feelings he evokes in her? Rumors of a long-lost cache of gold bring danger swirling around them, but Lily and Ben find themselves on a quest for something more. Will releasing their plans and desires bring heartache or a reward they had never imagined?

This was my very first Heartsong. Yes, me. I read one and enjoyed it. Though I have a feeling it was mostly because of the person who wrote it, Laurie Alice Eakes.

This book is the third in a continuity series, but it's not necessary to read the other two in order to enjoy this one. Laurie Alice sprinkles enough backstory in that you know what all is going on. The romance was sweet and completely believable, and the spiritual thread was also very well done. You know from the beginning of the book how it's going to end, but the journey to the end never once felt contrived or that it was lacking chemistry or attraction between Lily and Ben. And I also did NOT figure out who the bad guy was! Laurie Alice gets major points for that.

My favorite part though, was that Lily crochets lace! She does needle lace too, but mainly crochet. It wasn't as popular in the 1870's as it was 15-20 years later, so the way the townsfolk snatched her lace up and begged for it was spot on.

I also got a real sense of Iowa, which is good considering the state theme for the series was Iowa. I've never been there, but do have a couple of friends who grew up there. I still have a hard time imagining wide open spaces without cotton fields being involved, but the sense of small town community that Laurie Alice portrayed was very real and beautifully done.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Friday Fact

Crocheted Lace

How many of you remember the old crochet doilies that were at your grandmother or great-grandmother's house? Or Diana having to have more doilies than Josie Pye when she got married? In terms of years, especially when compared to other forms of lace, they're really not that old.

Crocheted lace as a lady's artform has only been around since the mid 1800's, when Irish nuns started doing it. Before that crochet was not something that nice ladies did. I've been unable to verify what I'm about to write, but it's still a fun story. It's said that the term "hooker" came about from crochet lace factories where the crocheters, who work with hooks, were expected to turn tricks on the side for the factory owner. Read that in a book called The Happy Hooker and yes it's about crochet.

Anywho, Irish nuns are said to have gotten ahold of crochet lace and turned it into a respectable artform by selling it and teaching it to their students. To this day crocheted Irish lace is very highly prized and is exquisite.

Doilies were a necessary part of life for the Victorian lady, especially from about 1875 on. Hair pomades were all the rage and ladies didn't want that greasy gunk getting all over their beautiful furniture. So doilies were crocheted and pinned to the tops of chairs. Later they were also pinned to the arms, then used as table toppers, runners, dresser scarves, etc.

Nowadays it's commonly referred to as thread crochet and it's an artform that I dearly love. The intricate lacy patterns hold my attention in a way that regular crochet doesn't.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Just musing

Two posts in one day, ya'll are probably going to faint. I've been a bad blogger again. Work's been really busy the last few days. REALLY busy.

Last week I hit my first real milestone. I topped 11K on first draft of A Time For War. Needless to say I was totally thrilled. This is the most I've ever written on something.

I seem to be settling into a sort-of routine in regards to writing. When work is slow, I keep something open to be working on. Haven't written a word since Wednesday though. Busy, like I said.

Am in the midst of reading A Passion Most Pure. The book lives up to the hype! It is one of the best books I've ever read. I have seen a few questionable words and phrases, but the year is 1916-1917, so it doesn't jerk me out of the story like it would if the year was 1816. The characters are very well done and very gripping. Julie is a very talented author. The second book comes out in September.

Genesis results are out. I didn't final, but one of my crit partners did. CONGRATULATIONS, Rachel!!! And congratulations to Erica Vetsch for double finaling in Lit and Historical Romance. Mine was entered in HR and I'm nowhere near as good as Erica is. Yet. I plan to continue giving her a run for her money though.

Historical Scavenger Hunt!

Back in February there was a historical scavenger hunt going on. It's still going! The day the game went live the organizer had a baby. All the details area here. The game will end this Friday, April 11. So you've still got time to play and try to win these awesome books! The game started back in February, so you may have to go through some blog archives to find all the clues.

I've read two of the books and thoroughly enjoyed them. Have fun hunting!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Spotlight on Europe

Today is Hearts in the Highlands by Ruth Axtell Morren. It's part of the Love Inspired Historical line and hit the shelves yesterday.

From Amazon:
Maddie Norton had long since resigned herself to her spinster's lot. Her life was devoted to her simple yet enduring faith, to good works and to the elderly lady whose companion she was. She believed herself content. But that was before her mistress's handsome nephew returned to London, after many years spent abroad as an archaeologist.The shadows in Reid Gallagher's memory-haunted eyes touched Maddie's heart. When he asked her to travel with his family, to help with his work, she could scarcely refuse. And as she came to know this man better, amid the breathtaking beauty of the Scottish Highlands, she began to wonder if two solitary souls might yet find new life—and love—as one.

My family roots on my mom's side of the family are very Scottish. Doesn't get much more Scottish than Stewart! Unless your name is MacGregor or Bruce. The world's most popular plaid is my family tartan and I wear it with pride.

The hero, Reid, is an archaeologist who's just returned to Great Britain from Egypt. That's another subject that I enjoy reading about it and talk about perfect timing! The next Indiana Jones movie opens next month. Hopefully I will have a copy of this book in my hands before the day is over. As I'm typing this my mom is about to go to Wal-Mart. :D

Once I've read the book, watch for an interview with Ruth.