Thursday, December 31, 2015

Goodbye and God Be With You


It's rather fitting that some things come to a close on this day -- the last day of the year.

I submitted my last entry into the Rooglewood contest this morning.  I can hardly believe it took me until the day of the deadline to send it in because I'm usually earlier than that.  And, even with the extra time I took, I still felt a little bit like maybe I could have done better if I had more time.

But there was no feeling of regret when I hit "send."  Mostly it was just a prayer that Rooglewood would hear the heart of the message when they read it and that maybe, if I win, they could help me bring the full potential out of my little story.  And there was also a feeling, after working on these stories for more than six months, that it felt good to close that chapter and move on to the next one.

I did it.  I wrote them.  And I'm really proud of them.

Last year, the act of hitting "send" on my contest entry catapulted me into an anticipatory state.  I could not WAIT until the winners were announced.  I counted the weeks until I would find out if my story made it.  I counted half-weeks.  :D  And it was both fun and nerve-wracking -- like Christmas when you are little.  But this year, I feel pretty steady.  Granted, my stories have only been in flight for about 20 minutes.  So maybe the rollercoaster of emotions will kick in later.  Haha.  Yet, for the moment, I am just resting and contented.  March doesn't seem that far away.

I hope that your year has been wonderful and productive.  Mine has -- with more than just the contest entries.  :)  May your next year be even brighter.  God be with you!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

While I'm Gone...

     Hello, dear readers and friends!  I am very much enjoying my holiday break from blogging, but I wanted to pop in and tell you how much I appreciate you.  And I also wanted to give you something to read, in case you were bored.  It's from my archives, but many of you are newer to the blog so you know nothing about the Duke of Northumber.
     The Duke of Northumber is a horrible villain in one of my stories, and I became so fascinated with his backstory that I had to write little scenes from his life.  And I posted these scenes on my blog a little over a year ago.
     So, if you want to know who the Duke of Northumber was and how he turned from a sweet little boy into a cruel man, start here:
http://commandedwriter.blogspot.com/2014/05/bb-villain-world-he-was-born-into.html

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Mental Ward on break

Hi!  We're so close to the end of the story that I hate to do this to you, but I am taking a break for the rest of December.  We will finish in January!  Peace and love to you all!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Wrapping Up

No, I'm not talking about Christmas presents.

I'm talking about the stories for the Rooglewood contest.  In two days is the deadline for turning in your submission forms -- so if they haven't already been sent in, you have 2 days to get them postmarked and on their way.

I finished my drafts and some edits on all of my stories earlier in the fall.  Then I got terribly overwhelmed and decided to hide and pretend that there were no stories waiting for me on my computer.  I was like the little frilled lizard on The Rescuers Down Under, with my hands over my ears, dancing around singing, "Dadabaduba, dadabaduba, I can't hear you!"

Which, as cowardly as it sounds, was probably a good thing.  Because, essentially, I was taking the recommended break so that I could come back with fresh eyes.  I just didn't know that's what I was doing.  I thought I was procrastinating.

But then, last Tuesday, I sat down and read through AAM.  With a big gulp, I decided that it was as good as I could make it before the deadline.  And I sent it in.

On Friday, I sat down to read through TCK.  I was the most concerned about this one.  It had been a long time since I paid any attention to TCK, and from the hazy details swimming around in my head, I foresaw MAJOR, MAJOR rewrites needed.  But, you know what?

<sheepish grin>

It's actually pretty good.

I mean...I enjoyed reading it.

That kind of blew me away.  Because I thought of TCK as the ugly stepsister to the other two.  But it's not bad.  I was kind of impressed.  And that's always a fun revelation as a writer.

So I packaged it up and sent it off to a beta-reader.  And the two of us will partner to polish it up and give it a fair chance at winning this year.

And now all I need to do is to get SPINDLE ready to go.

So, yeah...I'm wrapping things up here.  Sometime between the 20th and the 31st of this month, I will get a couple emails from Rooglewood, saying that I have been cleared to submit TCK and SPINDLE.  And then my babies will be off to make their rounds through the judges.  And I will haunt Rooglewood's website and Anne Elisabeth Stengl's blog, hoping for word of the process or some feeling of connection to my stories.  And thus I (and probably many other writers) will pass the time until the winners are announced next year.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Mental Ward - To Jefferson Park Avenue (32)


      Emery and Beth burst out of the door and into a narrow alleyway.  Emery grabbed Beth's hand and started running, winding her way through the streets.  Dingy buildings toward over them, and they dodged fences and trash cans as they ran.
      They made it several blocks before Emery slowed down.  Beth was gasping for breath, and they were both tired.
     Emery looked worriedly at Beth.  "We still have a long way to go.  Do you think you can make it?"
     Beth closed her eyes.  Her face was pale and sweaty.  But she nodded.
     A truck rattled down the road by them. Then it stopped and backed up.  Emery shifted her weight uneasily.  
     The driver leaned out the window.  "You kids need a ride?"  His eyes focused on Beth and he frowned.  "What are you wearing?  A nightgown?"
      "Yes," Beth said.  She walked around the truck and climbed into the back of it.
     "I guess we would appreciate a ride."  Emery hesitantly followed Beth.  "Thank you, sir."
     "Where you headed?" he asked.
     Emery licked her lips, thinking of a safer answer than the Carlysle residence.  "Jefferson Park Avenue."
     "Oh, okay."  His head disappeared into the cab of his truck.  Then, suddenly, he stuck it out again.  "Did you say Jefferson Park Avenue?"  His face was incredulous.
     Emery nodded.
     "Whoo-eeee.  That's some high class stuff, right there."  He scratched his head and scowled.  "Now look here.  I wasn't born yesterday, and this just don't add up.  You look like a nurse or something.  And this kid is running around the middle of town in her nightgown.  But you want to go to mansion row on the outskirts of town.  Just what are you trying to pull?"
     "It's rather a long story," Emery said, with sudden inspiration.  "And the people on 'mansion row,' as you put it, don't like sharing their long stories.  But if you would prefer not drive us, we are happy to walk."
     "Alright.  Alright."  The man shrugged.  "It's not far out of my way.  Hang tight."
     The truck rattled to life again.  Emery hunched down into the bed of the truck and relaxed a little bit.
     Buildings swept by them, and the city changed before their eyes.  Trees appeared, dotted at decorative intervals down the streets.  Houses replaced the apartments.  Grass lawns, dimly lit by streetlamps, bordered the cobblestone.  By the time, the truck reached Jefferson Park Avenue, the city was a thing of the past, completely replaced by grandiose estates and massive gates.
       Emery caught sight of a side road -- one that led down to the gardners' cottages.  "Here!" she cried.  "Stop here!  I know where I am!"
     

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Bethlehem Walk Tapestry


     Hi!  I just wanted to show you the tapestry that we wove on the ancient-style loom last week.  Isn't it beautiful?

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Mental Ward -- Brave or Stupid (31)


     The man froze when he saw them, and Emery gasped, throwing her arm out as if to shield Beth.  For a moment, no one moved.
     The man's eyes roved over them.  Little by little, his shoulders relaxed, and he reached up to run his fingers over his thick, white beard.  Suddenly, he started cackling.  "Hehehe!  If one of you is insane, it's the bigger one."  He shook his head at Emery, an amused twinkle in his eye.  "Hehehe!  You got guts, young lady, sneaking her out!  Half the city will be after you!  Hehehe!  But you gave them the slip, didn't you?  Hehehe!"  His shoulders bounced with each chuckle and he was clearly enjoying what he considered a good joke.  Suddenly he stopped and grew somewhat serious, placing a finger over his lips.  "Shhh, now.  There's too many people this direction."  He jerked a thumb over his shoulder.  "But if you go the other way, and take the first hallway on your left, and then the second door on your right..." He pointed past them, tapping his finger against the air.  "...then you will find yourself in a back alley.  God speed!"  He dropped his hand to his side again and turned away, heading back in the direction he came.  "Hehehe!  She's a brave one. Brave or stupid...Hehehehe!"
     Emery looked at Beth, and Beth looked at Emery.  Then, as if reaching a decision in unison, they turned and ran, following the directions the old man had given them.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Gulp



Ta-da!  I just submitted my AAM manuscript to Rooglewood Press for their 5MS contest.  Although, at the moment, I feel less like "ta-da" and more like...


Yeah.

It's always a bit of a leap of faith to let a story go.

But it feels good to send it, too.  I hope it fairs well.  I'm sending my submission application forms for the other two stories to Rooglewood tomorrow, and I'm going to try to have both of them ready to go by December 20th.

Godspeed, my little stories....

Saturday, December 5, 2015

The Mental Ward - I've Got You (30)



     "I've got you."  Beth grasped Emery's shoulder and gave it a tug.
     Emery climbed on the neighboring roof.  She glanced back at the makeshift bridge with a shudder.  "How did you walk across that board?  I thought I was going to fall, the whole distance across."
     Beth shrugged and looked around the empty roof.  "Now what?"
     Emery took a deep breath.  "Now we get you home."
     The two girls found the door leading down into the building.  It was open, and Emery silently breathed a prayer of gratitude.  Beth followed her down the steps and they made it to bottom of several flights without detection.  Emery tested the door at the base of the stairs.  It was open.
     "Shhh," Emery whispered as she pulled the door open and stepped out into a carpeted stairway.  "Okay.  The coast is clear."
     But just Beth stepped out behind her, a man appeared at the end of the hallway.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Bethlehem Walk 2015


Hi, so this week is an awesome week because this week is Bethlehem Walk.  Every year, over 300 people from many different churches in the area participate in a reenactment of the reason we celebrate Christmas.


Welcome to Bethlehem...

Travelers walk through a city of Bethlehem, set up with period shops, like a tapestry shop, candle shop, blacksmith, carpenter, tunic shop, spice shop, basket shop, meat shop, bakery, and so much more.



And, as you walk through, you hear about the oppression of the people as well as the hope for the Messiah.  You will even hear "rumors," such as the story of Zacharias and Elizabeth having a baby in their old age.



And then you walk through some scenes from the story: The Inn, the shepherds' field, the manger, the wise men, the dedication at the temple, the sermons and miracles, the cross, the tomb, and then thinking about what you are going to do now that you have heard this story.  At the end is hot chocolate and cookies and people available if you have questions or needs or you want somebody to pray with you for anything.






 It's is awesome and wonderful, and I enjoy it very much.  We have already finished the first two nights, and there are three more to go.  This year I am working in the tapestry shop and in the scene of Mary at the manger.  Here's how far we got on our primitive loom in the first two nights:


And here is a picture of what our booth looks like.  The people are missing in this picture.  So you have to imagine them.  There are 2-4 people working on the big loom.  There's one sitting down and working on a little lap loom.  And somebody is standing to the side, spinning wool into yarn or flax into linen.  And sometimes there is a little tiny girl out front with a basket of yarn, shouting "Finest wool in all of Bethlehem!  Two shekels!"


This is a close-up of one of our weavings from a couple years ago.  Pretty neat, huh?




 So, there is a snap-shot of what my week is like this week.  A little piece of my life.  And I wish you were here!  Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Mental Ward -- The Bridge to Freedom (29)


     Emery eased open the heavy door and scanned the roof.  It was empty.  "Coast is clear.  Come on, Beth."
     Beth followed her onto the flat roof of the asylum.  "Why aren't they guarding this door?"
     "Because they think it is locked securely.  Thanks to this control box in my hands, they knew they couldn't get in this way and so they assume we can't get out."  Emery crept along the roof, keeping low.  To her left hung a clothesline where she had once dried asylum laundry.  To her right was the low wall that encircled the roof.
     As she had hoped, the crowd of people milling around the asylum had gathered at the temporary police base set up in front of the building.  The locked doors had lured them all into a sense of security, and the excitement of the forces entering the building had everyone's attention.  Emery set the box down on the roof and switched open the doors to the fifth floor, including the doors to Beastly's room.
      "That should keep everybody's full focus," she murmured.  "Let's go."
      "You're smart." Beth said matter-of-factly.
      "No, I'm not.  I'm stupid and I want to go home to my mother.  Hurry up."
      One corner of the asylum stood relatively close to a neighboring building.  Emery tried not to think about what she was about to do as she grabbed some leftover planks and dragged them to the edge of the roof.
     Beth stood back watching her and chewing on her thumb.  "You going to make a bridge?"
     At the edge, Emery glanced down at the empty alleyway.  Big mistake.  It danced dizzily beneath her, and an image flashed through her mind of her own body crumpled on the bricks below.  She closed her eyes and clutched at the low wall as she felt herself sway.
      The side of the plank in her hand clinked against the wall, bringing her back to the present.  Just don't look down. She focused on the neighboring roof as she lifted the end of the plank over the wall and eased it across the great expanse.
     Don't think about the great expanse.  Don't think about the great expanse.  She felt another wave of dizziness and closed her eyes.
      "It's across." Beth said.
      Emery opened her eyes and realized that the plank was far enough.  She lowered it, letting it settle into place.  
     Beth stood to the side, legs apart, head cocked, as she watched Emery.  "Your eyes were shut."
      Emery dragged the back of her hand across her forehead.  "Yeah."
      The makeshift bridge was in place.  It won't work.  This was their only way of escape.  Too narrow.  Too risky.  It was the best she could do.  But what if you fall?  They just had to go.  Here lies Emery Clayton...
     "I'll go first." Beth's gentle little hands shoved Emery to one side, and she lunged upward onto the board.
     "Wait, Beth...be careful!"  Emery reached for the girl, hoping to stablize her, keep her safe.
     But Beth didn't wait.  She walked across the plank, arms spread wide, with as much confidence as a woman walking across her kitchen floor.  In a matter of seconds, she was across the alley and safely landed on the neighboring roof.
     "Come on, Emery," she called back impatiently.
     Emery reached for the plank with trembling hands.  Don't look down.  Don't look down.  The plank quivered blurrily in her vision, separating into two planks and merging back into one.
     "Just sit on it and scoot your way across," Beth said.
     Emery eased herself into a sidesaddle position.
     "Not like that!  You'll fall for sure as shaky as you are.  Put a leg on each side." Beth snorted.
     "In this dress?" Emery protested.  And somehow she felt just a tiny bit better, complaining about her wardrobe rather than thinking about what would be on her tombstone if she fell.
      Beth shrugged one shoulder.  "Who would see?"
      Hopefully, no one.  That was the whole plan of the escape, right?  But every second she wasted put Beth more in danger.  Emery swung a leg over the plank until she straddled it.
      "That's it.  Now you're secure.  So just look at me and scoot across." Beth sounded so unconcerned, as if this were the easiest thing in the world.
       Emery took a deep breath and started scooting.


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

NANO Recovery Month



Hello, my friends!

  How many of you did Nano this year?
    How did it go?
      What's next?
        I want to know.
          I've never done Nano
            -- at least not yet --
              but you have my respect & admiration,
                and I want to hear all about it.
                                  =D

COVER REVEAL: Resist by Emily Ann Putzke

I am thrilled that today, I have the honor of participating in the cover reveal for Emily Ann Putzke's new novel: Resist.  I have been following her blog for some time, and I have to say that I am pretty excited about this book.  But don't just take my word for it.  Read about it for yourself!


Resist Synopsis:

Munich, Germany 1942—Hans Scholl never intended to get his younger sister involved in an underground resistance. When Sophie Scholl finds out, she insists on joining Hans and his close friends in writing and distributing anti-Nazi leaflets entitled, The White Rose. The young university students call out to the German people, begging them to not allow their consciences to become dormant, but to resist their tyrannical leader and corrupt government. Hans knows the consequences for their actions—execution for committing high treason—but firm in his convictions, he’s prepared to lose his life for a righteous cause. Based on a true story, Hans, Sophie and all the members of The White Rose resistance group will forever inspire and challenge us to do what is right in the midst of overwhelming evil.


Now are you ready to see the cover?  Yes?  Okay...here it is:






There are so many things I like about this cover.  I think it looks SO GOOD.  And I can't wait to read this book. It makes it's release in February seem so far away, doesn't it? (although you can preorder it now, if you want).


About The Author:

Emily Ann Putzke is a young novelist, historical reenactor, and history lover. You can learn more about Emily and her books at www.authoremilyannputzke.com and www.facebook.com/authoremilyannputzke




And now that you want to buy the book as well, here is the information that you need:

Available in paperback and ebook on February 22nd, 2016

Pre-order the ebook on Amazon

Add to Goodreads

  Check it out!!!!