Thursday, July 31, 2014

BB Villain: A Prince is Born

     Newel glided silently down the familiar halls.  It had been a long time since he entered the family chambers of the royal castle -- perhaps not since he had moved to Northumber.  It was strange how it stirred old feelings.
      He remembered hiding on these stairs or behind that closet.  He remembered watching his father with hope and trepidation.  He remembered the awe with which he regarding Alton.  And he remembered his mother.
     The memory of his mother made a strange tugging at his heart.  How he loved her!  What would he not have given to have her hold him to her bosom one more time!  How safe she had always made him feel!
      He could almost see her walking down the hall toward him.  In his mind, he could see her dark hair pinned up in queenly elegance.  He could hear the rustle of her gown.  He could smell her sweet perfume -- a scent that he had been unable to find since.  Newel's eyes glazed over and he could almost hear her voice.  "Newel," she would have said, her voice full of love and pride.  "My little Newel..."
     A set of footsteps behind him startled Newel out of his daydream, and he spun to face the intruder.  It was his brother, Alton.
     Alton's face was full of mistrust and suspicion.  His shoulders were squared as he walked toward Newel, and his body coiled tight as a spring, ready for action.  "Newel," he said, acknowledging his little brother's presence with a mixture of greeting and accusation in his tone.
      A twisted smile spread slowly across Newel's face.  "Have you no warmer greeting for your own brother?" he asked, cuttingly.
      "What are you doing here?" Alton demanded, ignoring Newel's question.
      "I have come to offer my congratulations," Newel said, watching his brother's face.  "My servant says a prince was born this morning.  Are your wife and son well?"
     Alton studied Newel's face before answering.  "Yes, she had a prince.  They are both well...tired, but well."
     "I will go give them my welcoming blessing," Newel said, turning in the direction of the queen's chambers.
      Alton stepped quickly and interposed his broad shoulders in the doorway.  "She won't be seeing anyone today," he said, firmly.
      Newel looked up into Alton's face, reading the suspicion and dislike so plainly written on his brother's features.  Newel shrugged.  He had always known his brother hated him -- his mother had told him of it before he was old enough to see for himself.
     But Alton did not move from his defensive position.  With each passing second, Alton seemed to grow bigger, filling the doorway with his presence.  Newel dropped his eyes and backed away from the queen's rooms.  He could feel himself shriveling under Alton's glare, and he hated himself for it.  Why did he always cave in to his older brother?  If Alton was inferior to Newel, as Newel's mother often assured him, why did his silent rebuke sent Newel running for cover?
     Newel hated Alton -- hated him with a passion.  Everything went wrong when Alton was near.  Newel wished he could shove Alton from a balcony as his own mother had been.  But, no, that would not be enough.  Newel didn't want Alton dead - he wanted him humbled.  He wanted to see Alton begging and pleading, to be full of fear.  He wanted to see Alton lose someone he loved.  He wanted to interrupt a father and son relationship.  In short, Newel wanted Alton to suffer all that Newel himself had suffered.
     Alton relaxed somewhat as Newel backed away.  He shifted his weight and made an attempt at conversation.  "How is your own wife, Newel?" he asked.
     Newel's mind flashed back to his wife's face as he left that morning.  It was red and blotchy and full of tears.  Newel had been angry -- angry that she had not produced an heir when Alton's wife had.  And she had cried.  It was not a pleasant scene, and Newel's soul rankled against Alton for bringing it up.
      He lifted his eyes to meet his brother's.  His own smoldering rage, for a second, gave him courage.  "Someday..." he threatened.  It pleased him to see a little bit of the color leave Alton's face.  It pleased him to have his brother feel an inkling of fear from the unspoken threat.  "Someday..." he repeated.
     Then Newel turned away, slinking through the familiar halls and out a side gate to return to Northumber and bide his time.  Someday...

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Secret Project Update

Whispering a Secret
via Pinterest
     Hi!  As many of you know, I am working on a secret project: a story that I am trying to keep mostly a secret until it is done.  However, being able to post updates and snippets and characters on this blog really helps me stay motivated as I write.  Posting something about my project on here is sort of a reward for the work that I put in behind the scenes.  And so, even though my project is a secret, you still get to know little bits and pieces about it.
     My update today is that my secret project now has about 6,500 words in it.  It is more than that if you count the two false starts (where I started writing and then scrapped the project as a dismal failure) or if you count the character development that I have done on the side.  But the story itself, as it stands, has 6,500 words so far.
     Six and a half thousand words may not sound like much, but I am so early in the story that I am half-afraid that, by the time I am done, it may be longer than I intended.  But, I will save those worries for the editing process.  For now, I am off to write more!

Monday, July 28, 2014

An Iron Rod in a Desperate Fist

Antony Sher is an actor that could probably play my villain quite well.

     Lord Ives is the external villain in my secret project.  He is an oppressive and harsh master.  In his mind, there is such a gulf between himself and his inferiors as to make their lives worth nothing.  He treats his dogs better than he treats his servants.
     With such a mindset, any appearance of servants trying to bridge his perceived gulf makes him incredibly angry.  With his dominant personality, he believes it his duty to squelch anything that looks like an uprising.  But there is also an intensity in his reaction that is almost like a panic.  It's as if he feels his position to be shaky and he is terrified to have it challenged.  He seems to believe that he would lose all that is dear to him and that he would fail countless generations of ancestors if he were to allow servants to do anything other than abject submission to his will.
     His servants, perhaps, do not see this.  They only see a master who is eager to ferret out any perceived rebellious attitudes, who is relentless in his oppression, and who will execute a dissenter on the spot without blinking an eye.  And they fear him.

Plenilune by Jennifer Freitag

Attention, folks, I have an announcement to make:
 
Jennifer Freitag is planning to release her book, Plenilune, in October of this year.
 

     I cannot say that I have read the entire book and recommend it (you will have to research it and make your own decision as I will J ), but I have read some of Jenny's work and can say that she is incredibly talented with story-telling.  There is a reason she is known as The Penslayer! 
     Plenilune is a planetary fantasy, which I knew nothing about until I read Jenny's definition (you can see her post here).  Essentially, I would summarize it as a story taking place on a planet whose normal rules and laws of order differ in some ways from our own. 
     So the long and short of this post is to let you know about Plenilune's release date and to recommend that you check out the author's blog: The Penslayer.  I will leave you now with Plenilune's synopsis:
The fate of Plenilune hangs on the election of the Overlord, for which Rupert de la Mare and his brother are the only contenders, but when Rupert’s unwilling bride-to-be uncovers his plot to murder his brother, the conflict explodes into civil war.

To assure the minds of the lord-electors of Plenilune that he has some capacity for humanity, Rupert de la Mare as been asked to woo and win a lady before he can become the Overlord, and he will do it—even if he has to kidnap her.
  
En route to Naples to catch a suitor, Margaret Coventry was not expecting a suitor to catch her.

P.S. Be sure to check back with Jenny's blog in the future to witness the cover reveal for Plenilune.

 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Meet Decellus

via Pinterest
 
     Here is another of my characters from my secret project.  His name is Decellus.  He fought beside the king in the Seven Year War and has become the person whom the king trusts most.
     Decellus is not originally from Leramay but from a country called Ricge.  As a boy, he was raised as the son of a gentleman.  As a youth, preparing for his future career, he wavered between a political and a military career.  Then civil war broke out, making the decision for him as all semblance of oratory government was swallowed up in the war.  There was no time for training -- there was a battle on his doorstep.  With the typical eagerness of an active young man, Decellus joined his family and neighbors in fighting against the rebels.
      But the rebels were stronger than anyone thought.  In barely three years time, they swept over the country, crushing the current powers.  Decellus found himself in a country that did not want him.  His family was gone, his home was gone, his friends were gone.  In an effort to fully stamp out any remnants from the previous reign, the rebels were hunting down everyone who took sides against them.  Decellus was a fugitive in his own country.
     There was no option but to flee.  The next several years saw Decellus moving from country to country, trying to find a way to live.  But he was surviving on next to nothing and could find nowhere to land.  People were reluctant to take in the foreigner who seemed to be on the run.  Things got very hard for Decellus, and he nearly died.
     The king of Leramay found him and trusted him.  He brought the vagabond to his own country and gave him a position working in the king's fields near the castle.  And there Decellus served him from a distance for many years.
      When the King of Leramay announced his intention to fight in the war (later known as the Seven Year War), Decellus requested permission to join him.  There was something in his eyes that spoke to the king, and the king took him as his own personal sword-bearer.
     On the battlefield, Decellus proved to be an able soldier as well as a faithful servant.  He often had valuable insights into battle plans and was soon a welcome councilor at the table of the generals.
     The king found Decellus to be quiet and reserved, more likely to hold his tongue than to speak.  But when he did speak, it soon became apparent that the humble servant-and-soldier was a learned man.  By the end of the war, the king hardly thought of Decellus as a servant as much as he thought of him as a friend.
      So it was only natural, when the king needed someone to look out for the one person he loved most in this world, that he would turn to Decellus.  Who else could he trust at a time like this?

Friday, July 25, 2014

Princess Taralia of Nephtar

     What shall be done with a beautiful princess of a poor country?  Send her to marry a prince from a rich country!  With this in mind, Princess Taralia is sent along with Nephtar's ambassador to visit the powerful country of Leramay.  Using as many arts as she can muster, it is her job to woo him into a marriage.  Her country depends on it.
      Things seem to be going well.  To her secret delight, the prince she is sent to win is a handsome, charming, young man.  And, while there are numerous other women seeking the same goal, Taralia has the advantage, since she came with her ambassador, of living in the prince's castle in the guest rooms reserved for foreign ambassadors.  With such hope in front of her, Taralia and her ambassador find extra business to detain them in Leramay for as long as necessary.
      But the prince disappears as soon as his father arrives home.  How can a woman woo a prince who is nowhere to be found?  Growing desperate, Taralia begins her own search for the missing prince.  Can she find him before he falls in love with someone else?

     Greetings, all!  There is a foreign princess who plays one of the side characters in one of my stories.  Princess Taralia only appears a few times in the tale, but I thought if I rewrote the story entirely from her perspective this back cover blurb (see italics above) would fit.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Tips for Shoppers: Whose Fault is It?

     One of the things that I suppose is frustrating for shoppers is that the chain between them and the source of their troubles is too long.  This is why many of them can only see the person in front of them.  And it is for this reason that the poor cashier gets blamed for everything.
     Cashiers get blamed for long lines at the checkout when perhaps it is due to poor scheduling practices held by the management.  Or perhaps it is because somebody did not show up for work on time.  Or perhaps it is merely because every shopper in the county decided to descend upon the checkout line.  [For your information, we cashiers are fully convinced that the shoppers do this to us intentionally.  In fact, we believe that you shoppers gather in the back of the store and syncronize your watches for this purpose.]
     The temperature of the store is another thing that gets blamed on the cashier.  Believe me when I say that this is unjust.  To this day, I do not know where the thermostat regulator is located in my store.  The same rule applies to music: I am sorry, ma'am, but I have no control over the radio station.  [I wish I did!  I've listened to the same 10 songs, 5 days a week for the past year!]
     Cashiers also get blamed for the prices.  The realm of pricing is even farther beyond our scope of practice than is temperature regulation, but, sadly, many shoppers do not realize this.
     I have so many stories of angry shoppers blaming cashiers for the prices of various products, but one story stands out in my mind:
    I was on my lunch break.  Perhaps this is one reason why this story is memorable to me.  It is one thing to be blamed, but it is ten times worse to be attacked when you aren't even "on the clock."
    Lunch breaks were only a half an hour, and I hurried from my register through the store, eager for the refuge that our break room would provide for me.  But as I was passing the meat department, a woman hailed me.
     "Miss!" she shouted.  "Miss, come here!"
     The break room door was in sight at the end of the aisle and my heart squeezed in disappointment as I reluctantly turned to face the woman.  But one of the rules of customer service is that you must always be courteous.  The woman had no way of knowing that I was on my lunch break.
    "Come here!" the woman demanded again.  As I reached her, she shoved a package of brand-name bacon under my nose.  "Look at this!"
     I stared at the package, completely at a loss as to what I was supposed to notice.  At my blank look, the woman pointed specifically to the weight printed at the bottom.
     "Twelve ounces!" she shrieked.  "It used to be 14 ounces.  It is twelve ounces now -- and yet the price..." here she vindictively pointed at the sticker on the shelf  "...is the same!"  Her face was turning a livid purple color.  "Do you think I am STUPID?!?  Did you think I wouldn't notice?"  She shoved her finger in my face.  "I hate the sneaky way you people try to trick consumers into paying more and I am not going to let you get away with it!"
     I listened to her rant as precious hours of my short break ticked away.  And it wasn't even store-brand bacon (oh, the unfairness of her accusation!).  How could she think I was personally responsible?  I didn't even work in the meat department -- let alone in the pricing of other companies' bacon.
    But her complaint was a valid one.  There must be a more straight-forward, honest way of going about raising prices, and they should not be raised unfairly.  It is up to consumers to speak up when practices are not honest or fair.  But somehow there must be a way to lodge such complaints in a way that will reach the source of the problem instead of falling on a innocent middleman...such as a clueless cashier on her lunchbreak.  Right?

     And maybe cashiers need a big neon sign to carry that says "Off Duty."

Monday, July 21, 2014

BB Villain: Anything Alton Can Have, I Can Have

Wedding reception in 12th century banqueting hall, Tuscany
     The weight of the cloak over his shoulders gave Newel a sense of security.  He pulled it tighter against himself as if withdrawing into the safety of its recesses, and the movement caused the gold chains around his neck to clink soothingly.  Newel needed all the comfort he could get on this auspicious day.  He hated large gatherings.
     The castle banquet hall was crowded.  People were everywhere, gathered around the tables with smiles on their faces.  The air was thick with the savory scents of cooked meats and delectables, as well as the perfumes of ladies.  Newel could hardly move without having his elbow jostled by a passing nobleman.  And the noise of happy chatter droned about him.
     At first, Newel could not distinguish words in the hum of talking voices.  But gradually, he was able to focus on one group at a time and discern their words.  Most everyone was talking of the wedding they had attended that morning -- the wedding of King Alton and his new bride.
     "Such a beautiful girl," enthused one woman in a bright blue dress.  She nodded at her companions.  "And from one of our finest families, too."
     Newel moved passed her, anxious to escape her annoying enthusiasm.  But he only found more like her.
     "Never did I see such a happy bride," another voice intruded on Newel.  He turned to see an older woman in a pale silver gown.  "It is a blessed match.  Our king will be a happy man for all his days with such a pleasant and pretty queen by his side."
     "He had only been back from the war for 6 months before he married her, but they say he visited her nearly every evening during those 6 months," said another voice.  "He has been so kind and devoted in his courtship.  It is no wonder she is in love with him."
     "Aye, and rumor has it that they had been acquainted even before he went to war," filled in a young woman, eager to have her say.
      "He will be a happy man indeed," said a middle-aged gentleman, raising his glass in a toast.
       Such seemed to be the pervading opinion of all the gathered crowd.  And, as tedious as the repetition was, Newel also found it to be rather convincing. 
      It was even more convincing as Newel wandered around the crowded hall.  Everywhere he looked, he saw happy couples.  A lady looked at her husband with adoring eyes as he said something witty.  A young bride handed a glass of wine to her equally young husband, and she seemed so happy to wait upon him.  An older woman laid her hand on her husband's arm and informed the circle of friends gathered about her that her husband was the finest marksman of her acquaintance.
     It seemed a harsh thing that Alton should once again have all the blessings of which Newel was deprived.  Why should he have a wife when Newel did not?
     "Why should he?" Newel muttered under his breath.  "Why shouldn't I?"
     The more he thought about it, the more he realized that there was no reason why he should not have have a wife.  He could hear his mother's voice in his head saying, "Your brother? Bahh...He is not so great as they say," and "Are you not the son of a king? Are you not the son of Mara?...You will be the great one."
     "If Alton can have a wife, so can I," Newel whispered to himself.  "He is nothing special."
     The thought tickled and teased him until it grew into a firm conviction.  There was nothing else to be done but to get a wife. He would show Alton!  With this in mind, Newel began to study the young women gathered around the tables.  Any of them would do -- so long as she were sufficiently beautiful and of a good family.
     There was such a variety of young women to watch that Newel spent nearly an hour in his occupation.  It was a pleasant hour, and he took delight in imagining himself with a wife who adored him, waited upon him, and who thought he was the finest man in the entire world.
     He had narrowed his choices down to three when the door opened and a new girl entered the room.  Newel caught his breath as she walked across the floor to join two other girls.  Her hair was exactly the color of his own mother's, and it was twisted around her head in a style very similar to one she wore at times.  Her dress was simple but elegant, showing taste and good sense.  And her face was sweet and shy.  There were no affected airs with her.  She moved with a natural grace.  Newel was much pleased with her.  Here was a girl to rival the new queen!
     A satisfied look spread over Newel's face as he watched her.  She would be his wife.  He had no fear of rejection.  Already he had formed his guaranteed plan.  First, he would find out everything about her and her family.  He would find their weaknesses.  Then, slowly, he would begin to squeeze them like a constrictor snake squeezes its prey...like he had done for Darenheim and many other estates since then.  Such techniques had made him a rich and powerful man, and they would now secure for him a wife.  When he was her only hope, he would make her an offer she could not refuse.  And he defied Alton to produce such a prize.  His only challenge in this case would be to see if he could bring it all about in 6 months -- thereby beating Alton even in the speed of his acquisition.
     The girl looked up then, chancing to meet his eyes as he stood there planning her demise with a scheming heart.  Her eyes were timid, wondering, curious as she briefly returned his gaze.  Good night!  What eyes she had!  They were of the deepest blue, and Newel felt that they did him great credit.
     She blushed then and dropped her eyes.  One of her companions reached out to her, drawing her back into their conversation.  Newel felt a twinge of disappointment, but he retreated to a place against the wall where he could watch her patiently.
     "Mine," he whispered, as a ray of light glistened against the girl's glossy hair.  "Soon she will be all mine."

Saturday, July 19, 2014

BB Villain: The Cloak of War

     Newel, Duke of Northumber, stood by the window, staring over the lawn of his estate.  The great stone mansion had been his home for two years.  He had moved into the Northumber estate soon after the death of his mother.  It was not far from the castle that had been his home hitherto -- perhaps an hour's ride on a good horse.
     A servant appeared in the doorway. "They are assembled, your Grace," announced he.
     Newel surveyed his servant with a dissatisfied air.  Pomplin was his name.  He seemed faithful enough, but the man was an absolute bore with no warmth about him.  Newel wanted a plain servant with no fuss about him, but he hadn't counted on such a morose dimwit.  Serving was all the man was good for.  He had no imagination and a complete inability to think outside of Newel's orders (or so it seemed to Newel).
     "No matter," Newel thought to himself, curling his lip into a scornful grin.  "That's all I need him for."  Newel pushed himself away from the window with sudden alacrity and strode through the halls of his very own mansion.
      In the midst of the mansion, Newel uncovered a secret door.  Disappearing into its recesses, he lit a light and followed a set of stone steps deep into the heart of the mansion.
     At last he emerged in a small meeting room, well-lit with candles.  Several men were gathered there.  Newel's eyes went from face to face.  They were an ugly set of faces, hardened with the lives they lived.  Burly men who had developed the habit of lurking in shadows and checking over their shoulders; brainy men who had traded the look of lofty intelligence for one of cunning treachery; these were the sort that gathered in the secret room. 
     Newel's eyes stopped on the one unfamiliar face in the room.  "Who is this?" he demanded, his eyes narrowing suspiciously.
     "Webb, your Grace," the stranger answered quickly.  "Tracker, swordsman, and so forth."
     Newel's eyes issued a challenge and were met calmly by those of the stranger.  Slowly Newel weighed the stranger in his mind.  It bothered Newel that the stranger returned his gaze so coolly, and he had an uncomfortable feeling that he was being appraised at the same time.  A man like that could be dangerous to Newel some day.
     Newel averted his eyes from the stranger and shrugged.  Were not all of his men potentially dangerous if not handled correctly?  Did he not value a Rat with a calculating and quick mind?  This Webb would be like the rest of his Rats, completely under his thumb.  Newel shot a sideways glance at the stranger, only to see the stranger was still watching him.  Curse him for his boldness, but he would doubtless be able to make Newel's enemies quake with fear.  Newel gave a quick nod, granting his permission for the stranger to join them.
     "W'at's the plan," asked an impatient Rat, dragging a blade along his teeth in a pretense of dental hygiene.
     "I am going to own Darenheim," Newel answered, lifting an eyebrow haughtily.
      Exclamations spun around the room.
      "It will be easy enough if we take our time," Newel went on.  "As you know, my brother is on his way out of the country as we speak, taking an army with him to fight some fool war.  With the army gone, the estate, town, and surrounding country of Darenheim will be unprotected."
     The Rats shifted eagerly, their eyes lighting up as they began to understand the plan.
      "Bandits will plague the city," Newel said with a smile and a suggestive nod at his men.  "Soon, the city will suffer from loss of goods and the reluctance of any tradesman to do business with them.  And who can blame the poor traveling tradesmen -- they get robbed coming and going from the city!"
     The Rats winked at each other.
     "Such bandits, you understand, would be permitted to keep their plunder with no complaint from me.  Make yourselves rich, men," Newel added.
     The Rats were positively gleaming with pleasure.
     "With all the losses they have sustained, city leaders will jump at the chance to put themselves under my protection.  I will buy from them the estate, the city, and all the surrounding lands.  Whichever of you distinguishes yourself in my service will have the honor of ruling Darenheim for me," Newel announced.
      "We can make this plan work," promised one of the Rats.
       "Good," Newel said, shortly.  He turned to a flickering candle, toying with the flame in his fingers.  "This is a good war my brother has rushed into.  Like a dark cloak, it provides the perfect covering for our plans."  He pinched the wick in his fingers and the flame was extinguished.
      "Here's to the cloak of war, then," murmured a Rat as each of the men turned to the candles nearest them and pinched their flames.
     And the room was suddenly pitch black with only the sound of breathing to reveal its inhabitants.

     Extinguished Candle
    

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Joy's Q&A: Day 4

So, folks, please join in the fun of the second last day of Through the Looking Glass Literary Blog Party. . .
"The Modern Novel"

(or general fiction questions)

1. Who are your most-well-loved authors of the mid to late twentieth century (. . . 1930s-1980s)?
     I have a lot in this window.  I like
Margaret Sidney
Lee Roddy
Albert Payson Terhune
James Herriot
Paul Hutchens
Janette Oke and Arleta Richardson
     -- although they wrote about older times so I am not sure if they count as "modern"
some of Beverly Cleary
Barbara Robinson
some of Walter Farley
Alfred Ollivant
Jean Craighead George
Corrie Ten Boom
Brother Andrew (God's Smuggler)
Jack London (no, I don't agree with his philosophies at all, but I enjoyed his books)
Eleanor Porter
Stephen and Janet Bly
oh, my, the list goes on...!  I'll stop now.

2. Your favourite authors of the twenty-first century?
     I haven't read as many here.  But I've read Katy Pistole, Jenny Freitag, Rachel Heffington, Elizabeth Ender, and a few others.

3. Which genres do you tend to read the most and enjoy from more modern fiction?
     I love stories with animals in them.  I like stories with action or stories that I feel captures something really well.  I like stories that inspire me -- ones like God's Smuggler or the Sugar Creek Gang.

4. Are you more willing to invest yourself in a fictional trilogy/or series or prefer the stand-alone novel better?
    Depends on the writing...;)

5. While it is generally agreed that nothing beats classic fiction, there is much gold in the new too! What are the positive qualities and styles of modern works that you appreciate?
     Most modern works do not make me think as hard or as deep as the older books, and sometimes I enjoy the "light" entertainment and lessons (for there are lessons, both good and bad, in all books).

6. What is your greatest hope for modern fiction?
     That mine may be named among them.
     Haha.  That sounds egotistical and it wasn't meant that way.
     Modern fiction has a dual role of capturing an era (so that future generations may look back and learn from us) and of making the next era better (inspiring the current generation to great things).

7. List 5 books by modern authors you have read which you either hope or predict will become "classics" in years to come.
     ?

8. In reading modern books, do you predominantly read from the secular or Christian market?
     A mix of both, I suppose.

9. List three of your favourite novels written in this century.
     ?

10. Of various as yet-unpublished books that you know something about, what are 5 that you most wish to read one day?
     Books by Anne-girl, Jenny, Rachel, and myself...I don't know very many un-published books by others that I could name.

* * * * * *

"The Ink Stains" Questions. . .

(the writing tag)

1. For how long have you been seriously novel-writing? What sparked you to move from simply writing in a "dabbling" fashion for fun to pursuing your writing to a higher-level?
     For me, the definition of "serious novel-writing" has changes multiple times and will probably change further.  Before I was 10 years old, I was of the opinion that I was going to become a writer.  I even wrote a couple books. ;)  In my teens, I started several stories and didn't finish them.  Later, I entered a couple contests -- I did not win but they were a turning point for me.  Yet another turning point came for me in the past couple of years as I went from just writing to writing with an idea of what it would take to bring a novel to publishing.  And some of that was sparked from blogs I started to follow.

2. Do you wish, ultimately, to entertain your readers and make them smile, or rather to inspire, challenge them and move them to tears?
    I want to move people, to make them think. 
   I want to tell stories as they happened, leaving the reader to draw their own conclusions.
    I want them to laugh and to cry as they follow my characters through the tale.
    I want them to enjoy the book immensely as well as to be inspired by it.

3. What are two of your favourite genres to write in?
     I have not mastered the knowledge of genres, though I know that must come when I submit my works for publishing.
     I like telling stories in imaginary settings.
     I like telling stories from my own experience and from stories that were told to me.
     I like telling stories about animals.

4. Will you please tell us a little about your current writing project (novel-in-progress, short story, novella, etc. . . )?
     I once spoke with a representative from a publishing company (information-gathering only...I didn't have any immediate stories to offer), and she wisely recommended I focus on only one story at a time.  However, I am not exactly doing that.  :/
     I have a first draft that is currently under editing.
     I have a story that I have been working on for a while and suddenly (last week) shoved to a back burner to wait until later.
      I shoved my current WIP to the back burner because I wanted to try my hand at a Beauty and the Beast story for the upcoming Rooglewood Press contest.  I don't know if I will enter it, but I wanted to play around with a potential story and see if it was any good.  If it is, maybe I will enter it.
     And, since so many people are trying for this same contest, I am keeping my specific plot a secret.  Suffice it to say that it loosely follows the plot of B and the B, and that it contains no magic. 
Odd Fact Related to My Retelling of Beauty and the Beast: I have never read the book or seen the whole movie.  I am basing my research off of bits and pieces of the tale that I have heard from friends over the years and from a paragraph summary I found online.  I have hopes that this may give my story a more "original" feel, but we shall see whether my theory pans out. 

5. How long have you been working on it? What is the backstory of how you started this novel?
     a. The draft that I am editing is one that I started last fall/winter.  It is under the working title of Dungeon, if you want to look it up under my labels.  A random thought popped into my head and I wrote a chapter, intending to put it away and never open it again.  But shortly thereafter, the full story started piecing itself together and I could barely write it down fast enough.  I thoroughly enjoyed that one.
 
     b.  As I said above, I just started my B and the B project.  It was inspired by Rooglewood Press's contest.
Another Odd Fact Related to My Retelling of Beauty and the Beast: When I first starting writing, I made the Beast out to be a very unlikeable character.  But then I read a writing tip that recommended you make your introductory characters to have, at least, some redeeming qualities to make people want to read their story.  So I started over, making him a little bit nicer.  ;)

6. Have you written other stories/books (or currently writing others)? Do tell us a little about them please!
     I've written a few short stories that aren't even worth mentioning.  I have several others that are rotating on back burners (check out my Works in the Wings page to see a few of them).

7. Out of all the characters you've ever written, who is your favourite?
    Nope.  Not picking favorites.

8. When you complete this novel, do you plan on preparing it for publication or rather leave it to "marinate" and start a new work with the hopes of improving your writing first?
     Hey, that is not a bad plan.  But I am trying to go all the way to publishing now, in hopes that such an experience (whether successful or not) will help me improve my writing.

9. Isaac Newton was known to have said, "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." Who do you see as having been the literary giants or "Greats" that have inspired and influenced your writing thus far?
     When I was little, I read every book I could get my hands on, and I paid absolutely no attention to who wrote it.  Therefore, there are many authors that I am sure have shaped me without my knowing who they were.
     I stand on the Bible as the most amazing book ever written.  It has action, adventure, love, future predictions, inspiration, and everything else you could want.  And its true.
     For other inspiring authors see my lists from Joy's previous 3 days of questions.  :)

10. Can you picture any of your novels being adapted into movies? In the stuff of your dreams, who would you cast for your main characters?
     Sure!  But I haven't picked out cast for my characters.

11. As you write, how often do you find yourself learning any of the lessons or going through any of the journeys/struggles of your characters?
     Mmm...sometimes.  Usually, it is a struggle that I have already been through, and I just remember how it felt to be in it.  Some of them are current struggles, though.

12. As a Christian, how does your faith affect your writing generally? Is your current novel overtly Christian or more subtly under-girded with your faith and worldview?
    I do both.  I write with a Christian worldview always.  Sometimes I specifically talk about my faith, and sometimes it is just assumed.
     My two goals in this area are as follows:
         1. It should not feel forced.  If I write something and try to push Christian elements into it because I feel that I "should" then it will feel forced and awkward for my readers.  Blah.
         2. It should be vital to the story.  I want whatever I share to be relevant to my tale.  I remember several Christian novels where I could easily skip over the Christian part without missing anything.  And I remember how excited I was to find a novel where the "Christian part" was integral to the story.  If you skipped it, you missed a lot.  That's the way I want to write -- it should all be one unit.

13. In one word each, how would you describe each of the main characters of your novel?
     Lest I spill too much info on my Beauty and the Beast project, I will use Dungeon.  And I will use three words each.
     The Princess (Lina): ignorant, naive, curious
     The Villain: resentful, scheming, deceptive
     The Owd Un: wise, witty, talkative
     Jacob: moral, faithful, protective
     Rachel: kind, optimistic, thoughtful
     Abram: solid, dependable, devoted, non-confrontational (sorry, that's four words)
     Molly: ignorant, timid, grateful
     Fane: con-man, not loyal to anyone but himself, self-confident

14. Are there any aspects of your novel that have taken you by surprise?
     In writing Dungeon, I was often surprised at how things worked out.  I would write a scene and then, later, another scene would tie into it perfectly, making it seem like the author planned it all along.  I assure you, I was just as surprised as the readers.  :D

15. How do you think the main characters of your novel would react if he or she were introduced to you?
     If, in the introduction, she became aware that I was her author, she might resent the fact that I threw her into a dungeon.  But she would have to admit that she came out better than she went in.  So I suppose she would forgive me.

16. Do you plan, Lord-willing, on pursuing the traditional mainstream route of finding an agent, etc, and waiting it out, or do you consider indi publishing (self-publishing) a healthy alternative?
     Both perhaps.  I love the fact that in indie publishing, I remain in control of my book.  But I also find the acceptance of a traditional publisher to be a rewarding thought -- perhaps worth waiting for -- and appreciate the fact that they still seem to dominate the market.

17. Out of the many themes and messages, what would be the one closest to your heart that you should like to share through your writing?
     Only one?


Bound and Freed

(This book is a good place to go for more information)


     She was a captive under a twisted leader; her life was worse than death.  Then One came and gave His life in her place.  He rescued her and defeated the twisted leader.  Now she is free.  
     But, now, there is no place she would rather be than with Him.  She pledged her life to Him, binding herself to Him for eternity.
    She is both:
bound and freed

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

July Chatterbox: Foreign Relations

     "Did you see the ambassador from Arandia?" Chauncey asked as he swung open the door and entered the kitchen with a light step.  He balanced a silver tray on one hand as the door shut behind him with a bang.
     Grimm looked up from his papers and glared at Chauncey for his irritatingly light-hearted tone of voice.  "Why wouldn't I have seen him?"
     Chauncey laughed lightly as though Grimm had made a good joke.  "True -- he would have been hard to miss," Chauncey admitted cheerily as he set his tray down and transferred its load into a wash basin.  "Such brilliant colors!  I've never seen anyone wear so bold a combination of yellows and oranges, purples and blues, greens and reds!  And with gold edging on everything!"
     "Ridiculous outfit," Grimm snorted, rattling his papers in disgust
     "The colors were so cheerful...I don't see how anyone can be glum around them," Chauncey said, polishing his tray with the quick buffing action of his rag.  "And his garments were long and flowing -- very different from anything we wear around here."
     "Thank goodness," Grimm murmured, burying his nose in his papers once again and hoping Chauncey would go away.
     "I could hardly keep my eye on my tray -- he was such a fascinating spectacle!" Chauncey continued.  He pulled a set of clean glasses from a cupboard and arranged them on his silver tray while he talked.
     "It's not your place to gawk at the guests," Grimm said severely, without looking up from his papers.
     "Oh, he didn't seem to mind.  I gave him a nod and smile when he looked up at me, and I think it did him good.  He looked rather sad, at first, for a man in such bright garments," Chauncey observed thoughtfully, as he filled the glasses on his tray with cool beverages.
     "Chauncey!" Grimm stared at him aghast, his papers falling unheeded onto his lap.  "Do you want to lose your head?"
     Chauncey lifted his chin and his silver tray at the same time.  "Take a deep breath and exhale, my friend.  Such a thing as extending common courtesy to a man who is far away from his own home is not likely to endanger my life."
     Grimm had nothing to say to such incredible optimism, and he silently watched Chauncey disappear through the doorway with his tray for the guests.
     But the door swung open again and Chauncey popped his head back into the room, his face full of the excitement of a sudden thought.  "Imagine, Grimm, if we were to go to Arandia some day!  A whole country full of those colorful, flowing garments!" he enthused.  He grinned broadly at Grimm and then retreated, the door swinging shut behind him.
      In spite of himself, Grimm's mind instantly pictured himself lost in the company of hundreds of outlandish outfits.  He shuddered and buried himself once more in his papers.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Not Forgotten

Greetings, readers!  This is a quick note to let you know I have not forgotten you.  More interesting posts are coming up soon!  Thanks for your patience.  :)

via Pinterest

Thursday, July 10, 2014

A Picture Inspires a Thousand Words

Sometimes a picture is the start of a story...
...sometimes a picture carries you through the middle of the story (the part that is neither the beginning nor the end)...
...sometimes a picture helps you create your finale.
Do you use pictures when you write?
via Pinterest

Monday, July 7, 2014

Talk to Me: Willie

Greetings!  I recently discovered a new blog and she has a linkup event wherein your characters write your blog post.  Today I am making Willie from BB write the post...except I am doing the typing.

Hi.

I'm Willie.

That's what people call me.  Willie.  Yeah.

My author's typing for me.  Because I can't type.  And she can.

<awkward pause>

I'm friends with Curt.  I like Curt.  Curt lets me go places with him.  He's really good at stuff...at everything.  I'm not good at anything.  Sometimes Curt is mad at me.  Because I mess things up.  But I want Curt to like me.

I want Emma to like me, too, but Emma likes Curt.  Emma used to be nice to me.  She's in the store.  I like the store.  It smells nice.

<another awkward pause>

One time I did something mean to Belle.  I did it because Curt did it.  And I wanted Curt to like me.  But Belle cried.

I don't like it when people cry.  It makes me sad.

I was so upset because I made her cry.  I did.  Why did I do that?  Because I wanted Curt to like me.

I had to think about it for a long time.

Someday I am going to be brave.  I'm going to do what is right even if it makes Curt mad.  Even if Curt doesn't like me anymore.

Because it's not worth it.  To be mean.  For Curt.

I don't like to make people cry.

<another awkward pause>

And I'm going to talk to Emma, too.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Beautiful People: Willie from BB

This is now the second month since the return of Beautiful People, and I will be joining in this month.  I picked Willie from my BB project.  Enjoy!

 
 
1) What’s their favourite food? (Bonus: favourite flavor of chocolate!)
     Willie loves bread -- fresh baked bread.  He could eat it all day long.
2) What do they absolutely hate?
     He hates bad feelings: sadness, anger, hatred, strife, shame.
3) What do they enjoy learning about?
     He tries to learn how to do things like Curt does.  He's never succeeded, but he likes to try.  Plus he always liked counting in math, and he loves to hear about how things work in a store.
4) Who is the most influential person in their life?
     Curt...and maybe Emma and Belle.
5) What is their childhood fear?
     Being lost...all alone.
6) What is something they have always secretly dreamed of doing, but thought impossible?
     Being good at something.
     Maybe also marrying a certain person...
7) What is something he is impractically afraid of?
     He's always been afraid that one day Curt will get tired of him or mad at him and not play with him anymore. 
     But that's not an entirely impractical fear.  Maybe I should switch the answers to #5 and #7.
8) Are they a night owl or morning person?
     Willie is more of a middle-of-the-day kind of person.  ;)
9) Do they say everything that pops into their head, or leave a lot unsaid?
     Curt would say that Willie says everything that pops into his head, and it is true that he doesn't have much discretion on when it is appropriate to say stuff.  But Willie could tell you there are things that he doesn't say, too -- things that he doesn't know how to put into words.
10) What are their nervous habits?
     When Willie is especially troubled, he curls up in semi-fetal-position and rocks back and forth.  It makes him feel better.

The White Tennis Shoes

 Keds Charlotte Tennis Shoe (Toddler/Little Kid) -                        Price: $  30.00              View Available Sizes & Colors (Prices May Vary)         Buy It Now      The Keds Charlotte decorated with pops of pink embroidery and a vibrant rubber outsole.A lace closure provides a secure fit white padded collar adds comfort. Faux...

    It was a mystery to Kalynn how other children kept their tennis shoes white.  Rachel had kept her tennis shoes white for 6 months...and she actually wore them.  The only way Kalynn knew to keep shoes white for more than 10 minutes was to leave them in the closet.  No matter how she studied the problem, she still could not understand how Rachel and her friends did it.
     "Maybe they are not doing the same things that you are," Kalynn's mother suggested.
     It was possible.  Kalynn didn't pay much attention to Rachel and her friends.  Perhaps they found a way to be more careful.
     The day came when Kalynn outgrew her old tennis shoes, and her mother bought her a new white pair with purple edging.  They were beautiful, and Kalynn eyed them admiringly.
     "I hope they stay white," Kalynn said.
      The next day, Kalynn went to spend the day with her friends.  In the car on the way, she looked dubiously at her new white shoes.
     "I'm going to try and keep them white," Kalynn told her mother.  She reached down to brush a fuzz away from the laces.
     "Maybe you can play with Rachel today, and you can see how she keeps her shoes white," her mother suggested.
     This seemed like a great idea to Kalynn and she implemented it immediately upon her arrival.  She found Rachel, Hope, and Carrie on the back porch and joined them there.
     They were sitting at the picnic table.
     Just sitting there.
     Kalynn took a deep breath and sat down beside Hope.
     "Did you know the Newsboys are going to be in Virginia next month?  I'm hoping my mom will get tickets," Carrie said.
     "Do you think their drummer is cute?" Hope asked.
     Kalynn squeezed her fists together under the table and wiggled her toes.  It was so hard to sit still.  She hoped Rachel and her friends were going to do something soon.  This conversation was boring her to tears.
      "Kalynn!  Kalynn!  Come on!" she heard a shout.  She looked up to see Abby waving to her from the far side of back yard.  "We need you on our team!  You're the fastest runner!"
     Kalynn's legs ached to join them, but she waved back.  "Nah, you go ahead without me," she shouted.
     For a moment, Rachel, Hope, and Carrie stared at her as though they were trying to understand why somebody like Kalynn was intruding on their turf.  But then they settle back into their boring conversation on singers, actors, and actresses.  Kalynn still could not believe they were still just sitting there.
     As the conversation shifted to the fashion choices of the famous, little Gertie rushed up and clutched the railing of the porch, peering through the bars with a worried countenance.  "Kalynn!  We need you!  Our kite got stuck in the top of the tree! And you're the only one who can climb that high!" she pleaded.
     Kalynn's heart beat faster at the thought of retrieving the kite, but she shook her head.  "I can't come, Gertie.  I'm sitting here right now," she said.
     Gertie's eyes opened wide with disbelief and then clouded heavily with disappointment.  Kalynn had never failed her before.  She opened her mouth to plead again, but Kalynn's chin was set firm.  Gertie wandered away to mourn the loss of the kite with her little friends.
     Kalynn settled back into her seat at the table with a heavy heart.  How long were Rachel and her friends just going to sit here?  Unable to focus on the tedious discussion of clothes, Kalynn's eyes strayed to watch her friends running and playing.  And the kite hung so tantalizing in the tree top above the group of little mourners whose play was ruined by Kalynn's lack of participation.
     "Wanna go for a walk?" Rachel suddenly suggested.
     Kalynn breathed an audible sigh of relief.  Finally!  As the other girls slowly rose from the table, Kalynn scrambled to her feet.  It was all she could do to not run and dive off the porch, but she paced herself to match the other girls' movements.  She still did not understand how they survived such a long space of inactivity with such grace, and she could not wait until they started playing so Kalynn could see how they kept their shoes white when they played.
     The four girls did not talk much as they walked.  Kalynn tried to ignore the quizzical glances from Abby and the others, but they cut her heart.
     "Do you guys want to play with Abby and them?" Kalynn asked hopefully.
     The three girls turned to stare at Kalynn, again seeming to wonder what this creature was doing in their midst, but they did not answer.  They just kept walking...
     ...until Paco, the dog, came loping up to greet them.  Grateful to see a friendly face, Kalynn's arms went out to him just as the other girls squealed.
     "Ewwww!  Gross!   Disgusting!  He's been in the pond!!!  He's all muddy!" they protested.
     Kalynn tucked her shoes out of the way just in time as Paco collided with her, wagging his tail delightedly.  Kalynn scratched behind his ears as she glanced down at herself.  Her arms, shirt, and pants all had huge smearings of mud across them.  But her shoes were still white.
     Rachel and the other two were walking on so Kalynn ran to join them.  Paco followed happily, but Rachel turned on him.  "Paco!  Go away!  If you don't go away, I'll get somebody to lock you up.  You're disgusting," she scolded him.
     Paco's tail stopped wagging and he dropped his head dejectedly as he padded away.  Kalynn knew exactly how he felt.  She felt as locked up as he did.
     "It's hot," complained Hope.
     "Wanna go inside?  I have a magazine with a bunch of Newsboys pictures," Rachel offered.
     "Are you guys gonna play any?" Kalynn queried.
     The three girls looked at her as if she had 2 heads.  Then they headed back to the house.
     Kalynn didn't move.  She was thinking.  Her shoes were still white, but she had just spent the most miserable half hour of her life doing nothing.  That was no way to live.  White shoes were not worth it.  She pitied Rachel and her friends.
     "Kalynn!  We need you!  We're losing!" came a shout from the field where Abby and her friends were playing.
     At that moment, Paco returned, shoving his muddy nose under Kalynn's hand and pleading for a petting.  Kalynn looked down to see a big muddy paw print on her shoe.  She felt like laughing; she was so happy.
    "I'll be right there!" she shouted to her friends.  "I'll come in a minute!  I just got to get Gertie's kite down first!"
     As Kalynn fairly flew across the yard to rescue the kite, she rejoiced in the decision that she would never again let something as silly as clothes run her life.  There was so much more to "living" than white shoes.  Hurray!

     

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Joy Q&A: Day 3

Once again, I am taking part in Joy's tag by picking through the questions.  I am sorry to leave so much out, and once more I direct you to Joy's post to see the fullness of her event.  But I haven't seen much of Sherlock Holmes (although now I feel I should) and so I don't know the answers to several of her questions.  But here I have-a-go at the ones I can:

1. How many Sherlock Holmes "books" have you read?
None!

3. Have you read any of Agatha Christie's novels or watched any of the adaptions of her works? (Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, etc . . . ) If so, which of her books/stories is your favourite?
I haven't read her novels but I have watched a few episodes of Miss Marple.  Not sure about a favorite...

5. What are your general sentiments regarding mystery fiction? Are you an avid reader, do you read it occasionally for fun, or do you try to avoid it? As a Christian, how much do you enjoy and appreciate this genre?
Mystery fiction need not be a horrendous crime, although it often is.  The mystery solving itself is fascinating to me regardless of the crime.  I think it can be distasteful if your entire "diet" revolves around murder mysteries.

6. What are some other books/movies of this genre which you have read/watched and enjoyed?
I read mysteries when I was younger. I loved TCDC (Three Cousins Detective Club). I also read the Mandy books, Encyclopedia Brown, and various other small children's mystery books. 

8. Do you generally prefer the mystery stories that brim over with dozens of suspects, and endless possibilities, or do you rather like it to contain an "unknown" suspect--one you would not have suspected?
I suppose I prefer dozens of suspects.  The "unexpected" one is nice every now and again, but it rather makes you doubt yourself and perhaps all mankind...

9. Is it more important for you to know - who "done 'it", or rather why that person did it?
Who done it is most important...but the why helps add closure and lends an emotional pull to the capture -- either one of pity for the poor criminal pressed into his life of crime or one of indignation and relief that such a criminal will be punished.

10. What would you do if you had committed a crime and knew Sherlock Holmes was hot on your trail?
Impossible...the man doesn't exist.

14. If you are a writer, would you write a mystery/detective story yourself (or maybe you already have; tell us about it!)
Maybe...someday.

16. What do you think of private detectives who take the law into their own hands, (i.e. like when Sherlock Holmes allows a criminal to go free when he feels justice has been served, or the criminal was in the right?)
In the story, you usually feel so much confidence in your beloved detective that you feel he is better than judge and jury and "the system".  But, at the same time, there is a reason that in real life we set up a system of checks and balances.  Sherlock Holmes may be able to do it appropriately, but can the next detective?  What's to keep the weaker detective from letting people go inappropriately if all the detectives are allowed to make their own decisions?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

She Really Needs A Name

     Dungeon is under the knife -- meaning the book is in the process of being critiqued and corrected.  I asked a friend to read it for me, and she is awesome.  For too long, I had stared at my book -- knowing that there were multiple things that needed fixing and not quite knowing how to go about it  -- or knowing what to do but then second-guessing myself.  I needed help...either that or perhaps another 5 years of maturity under my belt...and I didn't want to wait 5 years.
    It's incredibly humbling to see all the red scribbled over my manuscript...and even more humbling to know that the critique is absolutely right.  But that's not the strongest feeling that comes to me as I read through her red marks.  The strongest feeling is

RELIEF


     That may sound odd to say, but it is true.  The fact that she puts her finger right on these nebulous things that have been bothering me feels really good.
     Here's an analogy: let's say you have a knot in your back -- you know, you lifted something heavy or slept funny, and now the muscles in your back have knotted up.  It hurts and its uncomfortable, but you can't quite work the knot out yourself.
     And then somebody comes along and rubs your back and says "oh, there's a knot here" and then presses or rubs on it in just the right way and the muscle releases.  Ahhhh, that feels so much better.

     Another equally good analogy would be if somebody found a splinter and pulled it out.

     That's what I feel like when she says something like "you switched point-of-view unexpectedly here, and it yanks the reader out of the story."  Ahhhh.  Whew.

Vintage Brass and Crystal Scale of Justice by vintagequeen.
via Pinterest
   
     Here's another thing I like about her critiquing: she has found a balance between teaching and taking-over-my-book.  In other words, I don't feel like SHE is rewriting my book.  [This may sound selfish and egotistical, but I still want my book to be mine when I am done.]  At the same time, she gives me instructions so that I have something to go on.  Let me show you what I mean:

TOO MUCH HELP:
     "The paragraph you had written was awkward.  Here is a better way to say it...(insert a completely rewritten paragraph penned by the critiquer)."

TOO LITTLE HELP:
     "This paragraph is awkward."

PERFECT HELP:
     "Stop using passive voice (You have 'was' four times in the past 3 sentences.  That's no good.). 
     Your description is entirely based on sight.  Draw your picture using all five senses.  I want to know how the camp sounds, smells, feels, and tastes.
     Also, take advantage of this passage to show us more of your character's personality.  How does she react to this scene?"
Vintage Brass and Crystal Scale of Justice by vintagequeen.
via Pinterest
     There is another thing that critiquers have to balance: praise and criticism.  Different writers will probably have different opinions on a "proper" balance.  I personally like criticism.  Too much praise makes me wonder if you are being sincere or if you feel that my book is so horrible that you are trying to cheer me up with the positives.  Give me the criticism -- that's why I asked you to read the book -- so I can fix it.
     Which brings me to the part where the balance is affected for me: does the critiquer believe I can fix it?  To me, when someone says "this is bad - fix it!" then it is a compliment because they believe I can fix it.  You can give me all the criticism in the world if it is coupled with this subtle acknowledgement of my potential.  It is when somebody says "yeah, okay, never mind, it's good enough," that I feel like they think they are pacifying someone who can't get any better at their craft.
     With all that being said, I feel like my friend is giving me the perfect balance of praise and criticism.  The occasional "hahaha" or "now we're getting somewhere" are welcome boosts as well as a way to highlight examples of what she is looking for.  I can look at it and say, "oh, yes, I see how this paragraph was better than that other one.  I can aim for that same level of excellence everywhere."
     This is my first time having anyone outside my family look over my work and critique it for me.  It is not as scary as I thought it would be, and I am so grateful for the work my friend is doing.  I don't think I would have felt this way 5 years ago.  I hardly told anyone I wrote -- let alone allowed them to see my work.  But we grow and learn.  And this came at a good time for me.

   
     Those of you who have been following my princess on her dungeon quest know that she is only known in the story as "the princess."  Well, you should know that this is about to change.  As my critiquer is reading my story, she has said more than once:

"She really needs a name."


And so one will be forthcoming very soon.  Please stand by.