Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Why Suomi 100 Means So Much to Me

(TL;DR: scroll to the end to snag Song Breaker for free. Today only.)

One hundred years ago, on December 6, 1917, Finland declared independence from Russia.

For centuries before that, going back at least to the twelfth century, the Finnish people were governed by other nations.

Finns had their own language, culture, and identity. They even had their own mythology, one that in many respects is similar to Norse mythology, but is truly its own.

Those stories, passed along through the oral tradition, as was the Iliad and other folk hero stories through the ages, were collected and published as the Kalevala, a book that has influenced modern culture and literature in ways most people don't realize, from inspiring Longfellow's Hiawatha to several of Tolkien's languages and the wizard Gandalf himself.

Finland is very much like Scandinavia in culture, climate, state religion, and many other respects, yet a lot of people don't consider it part of Scandinavia, instead referring to it as a "Nordic" country. (Never mind that the other Nordic countries are all considered to be Scandinavia.)

A big reason for that is likely the distinct language, which is part of a teeny tiny linguistic group, the Finno-Urgric languages, which is basically made up of Finnish, a few small ones like Estonian, and Hungarian.

But there's more to Finland that makes it unique and special and deserving of independence.

The Finnish people have endured things that most of us can't imagine. They've fought Russia multiple times (sometimes when it was part of the great Soviet Union).

The most recent was during World War II, when Stalin decided to invade Finland, using as his excuse the need to have more land between Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) and Hitler. In reality, he wanted more land for his empire.

Soviet forces crossed the border on November 30, 1939 in what Stalin believed would be a few days of minor skirmishes, a week at most, until the mighty Soviet army got the tiny Finnish one to surrender. Indeed, more Soviet troops crossed the border on the first day of the war than the Finnish army had total.

But the Finns would not be dissuaded. The United States, United Kingdom, and many other Allies promised help. The Finns hung on using brilliant tactics born of necessity, waiting for help that never arrived.

On March 13, 1940, when a ceasefire was finally in effect, Stalin made the Finns pay for making him a fool on the world's stage by putting heavy reparations on them and taking some of their land.

But Finland remained free.

And during the course of the Soviet Union's rein, Finland was the only country bordering Russia to never fall to Soviet or Communist rule.

Finns have a word that describes a national characteristic, one that has no good English equivalent.

The word is SISU, pronounced SEE-soo, and the best descriptions I've seen blend courage, guts, endurance, determination, stubbornness, and more.

The best approximation I've found in GRIT.

Whatever you call it, SISU is why the Finnish people finally, after centuries, finally got to have their own homeland and finally got to govern themselves.

SISU is what has kept them free.

I'm half Finnish. I've lived there. I've learned the language. Finland is my second home.

And I attribute much of who I am, and the things I've accomplished, to inheriting a bit of Finnish Sisu.

Today I celebrate 100 years of Finnish independence by putting candles in my windows and flying the Finnish flag.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Happy 143rd, Maud!

On this day 143 years ago, Lucy Maud Montgomery was born.

She was (and is) best-known for Anne of Green Gables, but she wrote so much more: hundreds of short stories and poems and dozens of books.

A few bits of trivia regarding the Anne books: 

Note that the last two (Windy Poplars and Anne of Ingleside) are the ones that are out of order. When readers clamored for more, she wrote those two in natural gaps in the timeline.

But that's why, after reading the emotional and romantic Anne of Island, reading Windy Poplars next is a total let-down. Her fans didn't read them in that order. She just found a 3-year gap during Anne and Gilbert's engagement that she could come up with more material for.

After House of Dreams, which is about Anne and Gilbert's early married years, she skipped ahead to when they have a bunch of kids (Rainbow Valley).

She followed that up with Rilla, which is about Anne's youngest child as a teen during World War I.

RANT: Don't both watching the supposed Anne movie set during WWI. It literally has nothing to do with anything LMM ever wrote and violates the timeline by jumping ahead almost 20 years. Remember, Anne's youngest child (she has six, after one stillborn) was a teen during the Great War. Anne wasn't childless chasing after Gilbert in Europe. Someone had a story, slapped on familiar character names, and figured it would make money. GRRRR.

I've written about her several times at the posts linked to below. 


Friday, November 24, 2017

Black Friday Flash Sale!

This volume is a collection of (PG-rated!) contemporary romances, all with a Christmas theme, from bestselling and SIX award-winning authors: 
  • Cindy Roland Anderson
  • Annette Lyon
  • Julie Coulter Bellon
  • Sarah M. Eden
  • Heather B. Moore
  • Jennifer Griffith


Saturday, April 01, 2017

Coming Soon: Firsts and Lasts

UPDATE: Firsts and Lasts is now live as an e-book, and as a short, booklet-sized paperback that's perfect for gifts.

For the e-book of Firsts and Lasts, click here.
For the paperback of Firsts and Lasts, click here.

Also, watch for the audio, coming soon!

⸺ ⸺ ⸺ ⸺ ⸺ ⸺

I've got several things coming down the pike over the next few months, and I'm excited to share them all with my readers!

I'll be announcing more soon through my newsletter (subscribe at the tab above!). For today, as promised, here is the cover for the the novella that will be out later this week. 

Firsts and Lasts

Dani has failed in her dreams to catch a break as a dancer in New York, but before she heads home to the Midwest, she decides to visit the places still on her to-see list. Then she meets Mark, another transplant to the Big Apple with big dreams of his own. Except Mark hasn’t given up on his. As they spend the day together, Dani realizes that even though she hasn’t hit the big time, she may be able to live her dreams after all. Only one problem: she's broke and has a one-way ticket home.

Get your copy HERE

~ ~ ~

Firsts and Lasts first appeared a couple of years ago in the Timeless Romance Anthology: Summer in New York Collection

Now readers will be able to get the story as a standalone for only 99 cents.


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