Friday, December 16, 2016

The Queen that Hates High Society

I found this in my journal from a long time ago, when I worked in a job that wasn't quite a comfortable fit for me.

Lately I've been sucked, bit by bit, into a world different from my own -- sometimes in direct opposition to my culture.  I accept things, tolerate them, for peace' sake, rationalizing the lower value of culture in relation to the higher value of principle.
But I underestimate how much I identify with my culture.  The pride and comfort I take in it.  The value I have for it.  It feels sacrificial to trade my jeans and workboots in for jewels and shiny flat shoes.  To take the things I've admired and heard praised by all who are dear to me and to trade them for the wardrobe bestowed upon me like a royal gift.
It makes it harder, you know, because they view it as a rags to riches transformation for which I should be immeasurably grateful.  They poured money into me, trying to make me one of them.  I'm supposed to twirl in front of the mirror, eyes aglow and a little weepy, as I stammer how I never knew I could look so pretty.  With the definition of pretty being one set in their own minds, not in mine.
And in small ways, I am grateful.  I concentrate on those.  I don't want to hurt feelings, to cause pain or divide.
I tell myself that culture is not important. That my identity is not in the way I dress or talk or play  or work or spend my free time.  I tell myself that pride is a fault.
And so I go for weeks, months, even years.  Smiling.  But they wear on me.  Wearing down things that I love...like sandpaper on corners.  Clothes.  Athleticism.  Woodsmanship.  Resourcefulness.  Strength.  Determination.  Frugality.  Morality.  Honesty.
And deep within me, I begin to boil, like the precursor to a lava explosion.  I try to cool it but it simmers.  I can't take it anymore.  I don't want to be that person.  I want to be me.
I start to lash out - to say controversial things.  I no longer care about mollifying them.  I want to startle them out of their little worlds, to open their minds to my world...my beautiful world.  I talk about guns, motorcycles, being alone in the woods with the wildlife, meeting a bear, climbing trees and running, learning how to throw knives, driving pickup trucks, wrestling big dogs, only using one utensil at mealtime, eating out of the pan, starting fires to cook over, eating with a knife, trying to climb a rope, and loving tennis shoes -- and they shudder and tell me to change the subject or shut up.
I unexpectedly run across people who think like me.  New friends, old friends.  I almost cry as their eye catches mine like we both know the same secret.  As they nod approval over one of my stories and share one to match.  I'm not weird.  I'm not alone.  There are others out there like me -- functioning and successful.  Why do I stay here?  Why do I let them stuff me into a box in which I don't fit?  I won't do it!  I want out!
I dream of the day when I can be myself.  Wear what I want.  Do like I love to do.  Say what is mine to say.  Just a little longer, and I'll be free.  Try not to explode before then.
I feel bad for thinking this.  I remember the things I'm grateful for.  I remember how much they put into me.
But it still doesn't quite work.  If anything, I simmer harder.  Is this right or wrong?  In me?
I come home.  With a shudder like I have just finished vomiting up poison, I let myself be folded into the arms that open to receive me, arms that know me, that understand me -- and not just an image of what they've created me to be.
And I think that maybe I'll never go back.
Somewhere in the midst of all my writhing against fashionable constraints and almost sobbing in welcome to those who think as I do, I think of Queen Esther.  Of her myrrh baths and beauty treatments.  Honestly, she's the reason I've survived as long as I have -- lending her precedent to my position.  But what if she hated it as I sometimes do?
When I think of stories like hers, I think of a girl raised poor but who was really fit for queenship.  But what if the opposite was true?  What if she was ideally suited to life on the streets?  Or what if she was fit for queenship but not in the way the princes expected her to be?
What if she loved and identified herself with the poor?  What if she had always despised the rich and their fashions and behaviors?
There is so much I could do with a story like that.  I want to try and write it. 
 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Some Wedding Pictures

It's wedding picture time!!!!

My family and friends all worked to decorate for us.  This is the bride and groom  table at the reception hall.


This is when I first stepped through those doors into the sanctuary, and the emotion of the moment hit me.  I didn't know whether I would make it down the aisle without crying.  There is something incredibly powerful about that moment when the double doors open and you take the first step onto the aisle.


My flower girl did such a good job sprinkling the petals so perfectly for me to walk on.

My sisters made the bridesmaid dresses.  I loved them.  They were long and flowing and modest and absolutely gorgeous. 

I love it that we're all smiling here.

The grand recessional of King Garrett and Queen Esther.

Yep.  Just like that, and I'm a married woman.  Kinda hard to believe.  After months of preparation, the entire  morning passed like a blink of an eye.  It's not fair how fast that went.  At the end of the day, I felt like everything happened so fast that I didn't have time to even see the day.  It was one of those "blink...blink...what just happened?!?!?!" moments.  I was glad somebody took pictures.  And I was also glad for  some quiet time afterward to slow it down and relive it.

I really am not posing here.  I'm just glancing over my shoulder as I head down the steps to get my picture taken.  Maybe the cape makes me look serious or something...

Cutting the cake.  Neither of us knew what we were doing, but he pulled it off with the skill of a surgeon.


I know you can't see all the designs on my dress, but there are roses and leaves and fleur-de-les and horses and owls and flowers.  There are three strands of beads that start front and center on my skirt and swoop down to the hem in the back.  For those of you  who remember my previous post wherein I was making a "surprise" applique: it was an owl because Garrett loves owls.  I don't have a picture of it here at my new house, but I will post it when I retrieve it from my old computer.


So many amazing friends were there and so many amazing friends couldn't come.  I am very blessed by all my friends.




     I hope you all are having a wonderful day!  As things slow down a little, I hope to be on here more often soon.  Happy writing, everyone!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

REST

Rest. It's something that Garrett and I have been longing for. Life got pretty crazy in March, but we told ourselves that if we could just hang on until summer things would smooth out. That's just a few months, right? We can handle that, right?
But it didn't get easier in June. In fact, it got even harder. But don't worry, it will be better in November. In November, things will get simpler. And so, even though I'm maxed out and feeling like I'm about to lose my mind, I can hang on to this hope of November. It's going to be okay.
Well, November hit. And in case you couldn't foresee this coming, let me tell you that the last 8 days have been even more intense. And you know what Garrett and I said? "Don't worry. Next week is our honeymoon. We can rest then."
Ha.
There were two problems with this. One is that, while I might be slow sometimes, I'm not complete idiot and I was beginning to recognize a pattern here. And the second was that things were getting too overwhelming to handle, even for just one more week.
But what did the pastor at our church decide to preach on, during the week of my wedding?
Rest.
Because we find our rest in God and in what Jesus had done for us.
We find rest in praising Him and appreciating how awesome He is.
We find rest by doing just what God did at the end of creation -- seeing the good in what He has done.
And the fun thing is that everything else in your life starts to fall into place. Timing works out. You know how to do things. People show up to help.
The pastor talked about taking naps in awkward places. Even though you may sleep, you don't get good rest. He tried to nap in his car on the side of the road, but he kept startling awake with dreams about almost running his car into somebody.
You see, you may be able to mimic rest by looking in other places, but the only place you're going to "sleep really good" (find perfect rest) is in Him.
And that was the perfect sermon for this week. I'm selling back into a peaceful (albeit busy) routine, and everything is coming together! I'm getting excited about the wedding. Pictures to come afterward!!!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

The old brown couch

A well-meaning friend offered me a couch this week. A very nice couch.
But I like Garrett's couch. It's soft and brown and cozy, and I've fallen asleep on it a couple times.
So I messaged Garrett to tell him of the couch offer. Maybe he won't like the new couch. Maybe it's too brightly colored for his cave-like den.
He liked the new couch.
Oh, dear, what do I do now?
This is the time when I split into two people - feelings and logic.
Feelings: I think...I don't know... But I don't want a new couch!
Logic: Why? Garrett has told you how his sinks down where the boys always sat. And you know this couch is a nice one.
Feelings: But I like his old couch.
Logic: Why?
Feelings (starting to get all panicky and weepy): Because everything is changing so fast. I'm moving out. I'm getting married. I'm changing everything. I JUST WANT THE COUCH TO STAY THE SAME. And it's brown and cozy and soft and snuggly and it makes a comforting cave. (wailing) Why do we need a new one???
Logic stares blankly for a moment and then tries again: If the new couch is in better shape and will last longer, it only makes sense to get it. And if Garrett likes it, we have a win win situation. Seriously, it's just a couch. I don't understand why this is turning into a big deal.
Feelings: (hiccupping around sobs)
Logic: Okay, then. Moving right along. Clearly you have lost your sanity. Quite alright - I've noticed you do this periodically, and you always seem to recover. However, we shall remove your decision-making privileges until you return to a rational state of mind, per protocol.


I still haven't decided about the couch yet. But other than that, I'm handling the impending major life changes pretty well, thank you.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Appliqués



Having searched the world over, I have discovered that my wedding dress is not in existence, at least not in my price range. So I'm making it myself with a little help from friends.


Garrett: Are you sure you're up for making your own dress?
Me (having never done this before and therefore completely without experiential knowledge of my capabilities in this arena): Well, if I walk down the aisle in November wearing jeans and a t-shirt, you'll know I wasn't.


But so far it is going well. I'm embroidering my own appliqués to go on the dress, which is new for me.


Talking to Garrett about appliqués has been interesting. Apparently it's not a word he's terribly familiar with. But he doesn't need to know what it means because he can tell from the sound of the word that it is something fancy. He's amazing at voice impressions, and he sometimes pulls out this posh, snooty laugh such as you might expect from a British gentleman who delights in laughing over his own wealth and scorning the lesser citizens. So, every time I say the word "appliqué", he repeats it and does this laugh... Which is both comical and exasperating. I'm half afraid to use the word in conversation any more.


One of the appliqués I made is a rearing horse (yes, that's it at the beginning of this post -- pretty cool, huh?). I designed it myself, had no idea how it would turn out, and it emerged beautifully. I spent probably four hours on it, and I was prodigiously proud of it. I took a picture and sent it to Garrett. Was he amazed? Nope. He said it looked nice, but I'm pretty sure he has no concept of what it took to make it and just how horribly it COULD have turned out.


Which is why, when he jokingly told me yesterday that he might make some appliqués (cue: snobby laugh) to put on his tie, I told him I didn't think he had what it took. Normally, such words would be perceived as a challenge, and he would rise to the occasion and wow me with his abilities. But, this time I was wowed by his perception because he quickly shifted tactics to tell me my embroidery skills were phenomenal.


He does read me pretty well, which makes secrets kind of pointless.  I was making another applique when he called.
Garrett: What is this one? Another horse?
Me: Nope, this one is a surprise.
Garrett: Is it a rabid mongoose, attacking a cobra?
Me (stifling laughter): Close enough.
Garrett: Is it really?
Me: No, and listen -- you can't keep guessing. I'm not going to tell you if you're right.
Garrett: You don't have to tell me. I'll be able to tell by the change in your vocal patterns.
Me: (growling in fake irritation and then being serious again) Actually, you alone probably could. Which is why you can't guess. I want this one to be a surprise.
          And, thankfully, we changed the subject after that. ;)


My little surprise one turned out pretty well, unlike the giant 12"x14" one that I did the other day. It looked amazing on paper but I didn't stabilize it enough for stitching so it puckered. I'm kinda sad about that because it had so much potential... And also because it took a whole afternoon, and I may not be able to use it. Sigh.


But that's okay. Dresses are a process. And, as Anne of Green Gables says, tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet. Right? ;)

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Flaws and Appreciation




     We all have flaws.  And sometimes courtship and marriage showcases them in a new light.  There have been multiple times over the past several months when I was shocked by my own imperfections.  Wow, I was really rude.  Wow, I sound incredibly arrogant.  Wow, I'm a wimp.  Wow, I've got a lot of weird defenses built up.  Wow, I most definitely fall short of the glory of God.  Every now and again, I wonder how on earth Garrett puts up with me, let alone still likes me.
      The showcasing of flaws goes both ways.  And my wonderful man is not perfect.  In fact, sometimes he's REALLY not perfect.  Ah-hem.  At the beginning of our relationship, I was a little surprised to find out that Prince Charming isn't as error-free as I imagined.  Oh, to be sure, I knew nobody was perfect...theoretically.  But somewhere in my subconscious, I expected all his imperfections to be irrelevant and minor -- you know, like he left his dirty clothes on the floor or he put the toilet paper roll on upside-down.  To which faults, I would smile and graciously overlook them.  I didn't foresee some of the more vital things we had to talk through.
      But talk through them we did.  And that's part of how we knew this relationship would work.  Because relationships aren't built on two people who always think exactly the same way.  They are built on two people who stick with each other and grow because of each other.
     And they're built on something else, too.  They're built on appreciation of each other.  Did you know that some of our so-called flaws are not really flaws?  Some things get labelled as flaws because of culture rather than because God calls them flaws.  And, sometimes, something that gets us labelled as "weird" in one set of friends earns us a title of respect in another group of friends.
     I'm a quieter, less-obtrusive person usually.  That's my nature.  In some circles, that gets labeled as shy, awkward, easy-to-forget, defective.
     I like to learn things and to be able to teach them to others.  In some circles, that gets labeled as geeky, bookish, brainy arrogance.
     I am a strong person, flexible on most things, but completely immovable on others.  I like a strong leader, and if my strong leader is doing something wrong, I have absolutely no qualms about facing them head-on.  That solidity is actually really scary to some people.
     I'm athletic.  I like to run and climb and sword-fight (I'm no good at it yet, FYI) and throw things (spear, ball, knife, etc).  In some circles, that's not very feminine.
     But these are things that Garrett doesn't just tolerate in me...he actually likes them.  These were qualities he found attractive in me...some of them were skills and traits he was looking for in a wife.
     Do you have any idea how cool that is?  To find out that some of the things that are unique about you are of great value?  Do you know how much it means to both of us that the other one APPRECIATES us for who we are?
     So, from the perspective of a girl who will be married in a little over a month, part of marriage is this:

  1. Discovering your own flaws (AAAAAH!) and working through them with God's help
  2. Being grateful for a spouse who loves you in spite of your flaws and helps you become better
  3. Offering grace and forgiveness and love to your also-flawed spouse and never give up on them.
  4. Thriving with the encouragement your spouse gives you over the wonderful unique things about you.
  5. Constantly finding things to appreciate in your spouse.
     And, all in all, marriage is a marvelous thing, and I highly recommend it.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Just a Pic

Just thought you guys might like to see a picture of me and my fiance.  :) 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Don't Forget Me



My wedding is less than two months away. It's going to be beautiful and lovely.
Old, unfinished stories are stirring in my head, begging to be written.
And my blog sits here in near-silence, waiting for the day when I pick it up again.
And I would like to assure all of you that THAT day will come. I do not know when, but it will. Maybe this winter. Maybe next Spring.
But, until then, please forget me not for I have not forgotten you. <3

Friday, August 5, 2016

The Time is Flying and I Have a Wedding to Plan


     Greetings, one and all.  I have a couple minutes to myself this evening, and I thought I would pop in to say I haven't forgotten about you.  But I have bank accounts to manage and business licenses to get and zoning to apply for and a marriage license to obtain and a million tiny wedding preparations to make.  Life has been really busy.  I should be filling out my zoning application for my business license right now, but that can wait 5 more minutes, can't it?
     For me, the time is flying.  My wedding is less than 4 months away, and I still have so much to do.  It's a little overwhelming and the day will be here before I know it.
     For my fiance, the time is dragging slower than time has ever gone before in the history of the world.  It's funny how time is so relative and variant in how people perceive it.
     There's not a lot of time for self-reflection, which is a shame.  This is a great time to do that, especially as a writer.  Real-life experience to write all my future romances?  Awesome!
      I think everybody reacts a little differently to a proposal and engagement.  I personally walked around in a daze for about a week.  Everybody else was jumping up and down and squealing for me.  And I felt like I SHOULD have been doing that.  I felt like people were starting to get worried that I wasn't happy about the engagement.  But I was.  It's just that I was a little stunned by the enormity of what I had just agreed to.  It took about a week for it to all sink in and for me to stop staring at my well-wishers with the grave look of one who had just accepted the honor of being the first one to jump off a cliff in an untested parachute.
     That's a pretty romantic way to look at things, isn't it?  Lol.
     The fun part started after the week of adjustment was over.  That's when the sparkly light came into my eyes, and I became completely absorbed with how much I love this man and how eager I am to spend the rest of my life with him.  Last weekend, I spent the day at his apartment.  We danced all over the house, planning where furniture would go and how we would make this place our own.  There's something incredibly delightful about spending an afternoon this way.  :D  
     Wedding planning is fun.  It's kind of like choreographing a dance, and I'm actually enjoying it.  That's not to say that there aren't times when I throw my notebook down and announce to my family that I've changed my mind and I will be eloping.  They laugh at me and say that's fine.  Then I sheepishly retrieve my notebook and plod away again.  I guess it's true for everybody but there are some parts that are so easy to plan and some that are much harder.
     Add to that...I think I'm going to make my own dress.
     And it's not going to look exactly like this, although my fiance wouldn't mind if it did.


      Well, I'm going to sign out for the night.  And I hope to talk to you again before the wedding!


Friday, July 1, 2016

Pieces


     Lately, I've had pieces of a story stirring in my head.  I don't know what the story is or who the characters are.  I'm just driving down the road, minding my own business, and then some crossroads scene plays in my head.  Someone at the end of their rope having a conversation with somebody.  A warrior in the bustle of men setting up tents and preparing for a battle ahead.  A whispered plot carried out in a dark room.
     I'm afraid to grab the scene (afraid that I will crush it if I try to commit it to memory) so I've just let it play in my head and hoped that somehow my subconscious will remember it and build it into a story.
     Has anybody else had this happen?  And what do you do when it does?

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Society Masks



     "Where have you been?"  My aunt's accusing voice startled me and I missed my foothold on the balcony.  I plummeted downward, saved only by my grip on the railing.  Somewhere, mixed in with the distant strains of a waltz, I heard the sound of my dress ripping.
      Strength surged through my body, brought on by the fear of falling and the fear of my aunt, and it pushed heartbreak from my mind.  I swung my legs, caught the edge of the balcony again, and pulled myself to safety.
      My aunt stood in front of me, her anger evident even under that smooth facade.  "You told the butler that you were coming up here to your room because you had a headache."
     That was true.  And it was the sort of headache best remedied by climbing down from my balcony and running to meet Ian.  But I had a feeling it would not be helpful to say that out loud.
     "You are a disgrace, Ingrid Deschamps!"  From the look on my aunt's face, there were much stronger words she wanted to use.  But her own high society upbringing forbade it.  "My sister was a fool for running away with your father.  Not only did she nearly shame the whole family, but she produced a mixed blood offspring.  It makes my task nearly impossible."  Her eyes darkened, and an involuntary shiver ran through me.  "But my parents were too soft with her.  I will not make the same mistake with you.  You WILL carry yourself worthy of the Deschamps name."
       I thought of the masks Ian had described.  Never did I loathe my polished facade more than I did now.
       My aunt smiled at me, but the smile carried no warmth.  "I am not too proud to admit when I need assistance.  Which is why you will be going to Dame Caramount's tomorrow.  She will take you under her wing to provide your finishing touches."
     I gasped.  "She hates me with a passion.  And she is the most scheming, shallow person I have ever met.  Why would you send me to her?"
     "She is one of the finest women of our society.  There isn't a single ball of any consequence that she is not invited to attend.  She has the most illustrious connections imaginable."  My aunt cast her gaze over me, and scorn for me flashed in her eyes.  "She is who I wish you to emulate, Ingrid, and she is a harsh enough woman to bring about the change in you."
     "I would rather die."  I could feel the passion flushing red in my face.  "And who cares about your society and consequence?!  There's no value in any of it!"
     My aunt's eyebrows raised into a peak and something akin to a smirk curled the corners of her lips.  "Take a deep breath, my dear, and change your gown.  You will spend the rest of the evening by my side, headache or not.  Do you understand me?"
     Yes, I understood her.  But I understood me, too.  And there was no way I would fit into the sparkling mold my aunt had planned.  I would run away.
     I ducked into my dressing room and selected a shimmering pink gown.  My aunt would be pleased with this one.  It would keep her from seeing the plan forming in my mind.
     Adventure, here I come.  There is nothing holding me back.
     And Ian needs me.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

My fiance


     Sooo...do you guys remember me telling you about my awesome boyfriend?  Well, I am pleased to announce that we are now engaged!  He took me on a hike this weekend and asked me to marry him.  And I said yes (after spouting out, "oh, my goodness!" about five times -- I was totally surprised even though I knew it was coming at some point).
     The picture is from our hike (yes, he proposed at the top of a mountain).  The hike was full of adventures.  Mysterious fog.  Steep climbs.  Bears (yep, that's a great story).  Sunlight beaming down through the clouds.  Pretty cool stuff.
     I'm not sure how normal people feel when they get engaged; but for me there is a huge churning of emotions, and my insides kind of resemble a washing machine.
     I told my future-father-in-law that I was really excited and really happy and...just...a...little...bit...terrified.
     He laughed and said he was pretty sure that was normal.  And then my future-mother-in-law told me about how scared she was when she got married.  
     It's just kind of crazy to go from being-single-with-no-prospects-in-sight to having-an-awesome-boyfriend-whom-you-love to actually-realizing-you-are-about-to-get-married-and-change-your-life-forever.
     But it's a good crazy.
     So that's my announcement for the week.  And I hope you guys have a great day!

A Hard Goodbye


     "You're more poet than anything." I folded my arms and glared at Ian.  He sat perched on the edge of the roof, dressed like an adventurer.  I coveted every part of his outfit -- the breezy shirt made of course cloth, the sturdy breeches, the leather boots that laced up to his calves, the dagger on his hip.  Tomorrow he would set sail to a life I craved more than anything.  But did he appreciate his opportunities?  No. And I hated him for it.
     "Do you despise poets, Ingrid?"  His voice was sad, but a grin twisted at the corners of his mouth as he finished his question.  Those blue eyes of his cut in my direction with a teasing flash.
      "They don't DO anything."  My thoughts and emotions ran in torrents, but I could see his flowing smoothly and quietly.  Even in his uneasiness about the morrow, his face was a peaceful as a child falling asleep in his own bed.
     "You don't always have to 'do'.  Sometimes it is just as important to be."  He shifted his weight and patted the roof next to him as an invitation.
     For a moment, I didn't move.  He was going to try to slow my torrent down and I didn't want to be slowed.  But then I felt ashamed of myself.  Was I going to spend our last evening together by turning a cold shoulder to him?
     The roof was warm under my hands as I lowered myself to his side.  A slight breeze came and ruffled the edges of my skirt.  The sun was low on the horizon, casting warm, soothing colors over everything.  I swung my legs vigorously to keep from falling under the calming influence.
     Ian chuckled.  "You never slow down, do you?"
     Sudden emotion flushed my face -- like tears that don't make it all the way to the surface.  Ian was the one person that accepted me for who I was.  I didn't want him to go.
     I turned my head to look at him.  He let me.  He faced the sunset, as if he didn't see me watching him.  His face was so serene, but I saw the way his fingers wrapped desperately around his knees.  He didn't want to go.
     I shook my head as if answering some unspoken question.  He shouldn't have to go.  He really was a poet -- he wasn't made for danger.  What if something happened to him?
      "We're both made to wear masks."  His voice was soft and steady.  "Mine is weather-beaten with sea-storms, gnarled into a fierce expression to strike fear into the heart of my foes, and hardened into a steel that makes me the envy of rough men."  His hand reached out then and grasped the end of my wavy locks.  "Yours is made of satins and pearls, shined with the polish of etiquette, softened with the life of luxury, and encased in the demands of society."
     "We should trade places.  Then neither of us would need a mask to fit in."  I swung my legs hard enough to kick the wall below me.
      He paused, holding my hair hostage, and smirked.  "Your expressions would strike fear in the heart of your enemies any day."
     I tossed my head, shaking my hair free of his grasp.
     He released my hair and stared out over the roof-tops of the city.  "I WANT to go."
     I pursed my lips.  "No, you don't.  You want to stay here and apprentice to some dreamy artist.  You don't have to say things just to make me feel better."
     His shoulders tightened and released.  "But there will be beauty where I am going.  Maybe not all the time.  But think of what I will get to see."  His eyes grew soft and he stared into the sunset without seeing it.  "Glassy seas.  Painted clouds.  Jungles, filled with flowers and exotic birds."  He nodded in my direction; and I saw that, deep down, he was laughing at me, although I didn't know why.  "Even storms are beautiful."
      "And pirates.  And hard labor.  And a captain who whips you.  Wild beasts who want to rip your heart out.  Sailors who curse and fight.  Quicksand.  Labyrinths."  I curled my lip.  "You're not riding as a first class passenger."
     He laughed.  "And yet you wish you could go.  I see it in every toss of your head and kick of your feet."  His face suddenly grew sober.  "I wish you could, too."
     A lump grew in my throat, and I inwardly thrashed against it.  I would not cry; I would do something.  I would take action in some way.
     "You should go back."  Ian's voice was almost a whisper.
     There was a grand ball waiting for me, a place where my filmy blue dress would fit in better than it did on this rooftop with a common boy.  I half-believed my aunt had planned the festivities of the evening to purposefully keep me from saying goodbye to my best friend.  But balls are easy things to slip away from, as long as you are not gone too long.
     "Goodbye, Ingrid."
     The lump grew bigger, choking me.  It was going to kill me.  Tears sprang to my eyes.  Tears of death.  A long, slow painful death brought about by a society full of nothing but polite and shallow enemies.  A death caused by missing Ian.
     I scrambled to my feet, trying to force as much strength into my voice as possible.  "Bye."  The word sounded almost angry.
     Ian grabbed my elbow, stopping my escape.  I looked down, hoping my short tone hadn't hurt him.  But his eyes were full of compassion.
     "I know," he said softly.
     I yanked my arm away as tears spilled onto my cheeks, showering my face with weakness.  "Bye," I said again.  Then I turned and ran.
       


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Calling Out to Our Shared Inner Adventures



     Jenny Freitag posted on her blog about the value of putting yourself into your stories.  And it's true.  
     You probably have seen stories that were too much of a playground of one self-absorbed author-hero.  You shook your head over it and told your mother it was written by an amateur.
      But you have also seen stories wherein the author bares his soul and it speaks to something deep within your own soul.
     There are parts inside of us, no matter where we are from, that are the same.  That's why we write stories that we would like to read -- because others will want to read it, too.  That's why we write stories from our hearts -- because we give voice to someone else's heart at the same time.  The same amount of your true self that you put into a story will call out the same amount of true self from a reader's heart.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Black Sheep


     You might not be proud of me.  I think I've always been the black sheep of the family, and I'm probably a little blacker now by your standards.  It's been eating at me a little more than I've been willing to admit.
     I knew you were annoyed with me my last year back home.  You thought I was hanging out with the wrong friends.  To be honest, I was pretty irritated with the rules you were always trying to tie me down with.  Things just don't come as easy for me as they do for Harry or Frank or Thomas, and I hated that you wanted me to be exactly like them.
     But that look in your eyes when I signed up with our nation's armed forces -- that's what got me.  There was hope in your eyes.  Not just a surface hope, but a deep, desperate hope.  That's when I realized how much pain I caused you every day.  And I vowed I was going to be a good boy from then on.  I could tell that you figured the military would reform me, and I started to believe it myself.
      Well, guess what.  You know those wild friends of mine that you hated?  There's plenty more of them here.  I don't know where we got the idea that the military was like an intensive Sunday School program, but we were mistaken.  I've picked up some habits that would make all of you cringe.
      I guess I'm a little confused maybe.  What exactly defines good?  The more of the world I see, the wider definitions I run across.  Is it just what you eat or drink?  Whether you smoke or not?  The scars you carry or don't carry?  Is it just how you treat people?  Or how you treat yourself?  Does it matter how you fit into society?  Or what company you keep?  Whether you can be trusted?
      What if I'm not as bad as you always seemed to think? What if you are worse on the inside than our little community back home ever suspected?  What is the standard?  What really matters when you weigh a person?
      I've been doing a lot of thinking lately.  I ran into the chaplain the other day, and we talked for a long time.  He's got his head on straight, and he told me some Bible stuff that made sense in a way that it hasn't before.  I never really thought of that Book as a practical one, but I've got questions and it seems like it has some answers.  I'm kind of hoping I run into the chaplain again tonight.
     It's been good for me to come here, I think, although maybe not in the way you expected.  I'm glad I joined up.
     We're shipping out tomorrow, and I'm going to do my part to save the world.  Then you can change that look in your eyes from hope to pride.  I might not be a quiet little community boy, but I'm out here on the front lines making it possible for all your boys to have their quiet little communities.
     Au revoir...
                                                                                                    JACK

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Mountains. The Wind. The Sun.


     The mountains.  The wind.  The sun.

     They make me feel strong.

     The stone walls of the castle hem me in and make feel as fragile as a bird in a cage.  There, I am trapped by generations of traditions and protocol --- caught in a game ordered by rules that no one fully understands.  The bars and posts at every turn remind me of the expectations placed upon me by an entire nation.  And the whispers caught in the tapestries haunt the throne room that changed hands many times through the intrigue of those who play by a darker set of laws.

      But when I feel myself succumbing to the pressures, I come up here.  The castle looks small and distant, and I realize how big the world is in comparison.  Why would I let myself be forced into such a tiny cage?  From here, I can laugh at its traps.  From here, I can see who I am meant to be -- and it is not what any of them expected.

     The horizon is broad and beautiful.  I can almost feel the pulse of the earth beneath my feet.  This is my land.  I will rule its throne.

     But the throne will not rule me.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Why We Don't "Pants" in Public

     The Mental Ward came to a close this past weekend.  I very much enjoyed writing this story and discovering it along with you all.  Your encouragement made a world of different to me, in helping me finish.  And it was kind of fun to just write without worrying about anything.  There were definitely some motivation-and-pleasure advantages to writing and sharing a story as you create it.

     That being said, there are reasons we plan our stories before releasing them to the public.  If you read over The Mental Ward, from beginning to end, you will find multiple errors, some people speaking or acting out of character, several overused gestures or expressions, a few plot holes or unresolved threads, and so forth.  That's because stories are not perfect the first time through.  Remember, we edit for a reason.

      Writers are often categorized as plotters or pantsers.  Plotters have their novel planned out before they start writing.  Pantsers do like I did with Mental Ward -- we write each scene without a guiding outline, discovering the story as we go.  Either one is a workable method, but, when you fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants in public, everyone gets to see your blunders.  It's a little smoother if you pants in private, then edit, and THEN post your story.

      Add to that downfall the issue of dependability.  I tried really hard to write a scene every week for you guys without fail.  But you will see that there was a gap of several weeks where absolutely nothing was written.  Which is another reason why writing the whole thing ahead of time would have been a great idea.  I could have scheduled it out on my blog and then sat back to watch.

     So I'm entirely arguing against the idea of sharing a story as you write it, but there are definitely some reasons why it could be embarrassing to "pants" a story in public. Lol.

      What do you think?  Can you think of other reasons why you should or should not post as story as you write it?

This is a picture I took on the James River, in the fog and rain.  It was such a fun day, and I loved the air of mystery added by the mist.


     

Saturday, May 21, 2016

The Mental Ward - When the Old Chapter Closes (42)



      Mr. Carlisle shifted his gaze hastily to the gardener and back to Emery.  For a moment, he looked defensive and angry.  But then that faded away, leaving a weary, defeated resignation.  "I had hoped that name would never come back to haunt me."  He shrugged his shoulders, a flicker of evasiveness reappearing in his eyes.  "How much do you know?"
      The gardener raised his chin defiantly.  "I know that Clayton was the best gardener you ever had.  I know that he had a wife and children depending on him.  I know that he was the sort of person you could trust.  And I know that you got rid of him the morning after your daughter supposedly died."  His voice grew louder.  "I know that he couldn't find a job anywhere after you fired him.  I know that his family fell into hard times that just grew harder and harder.  Last I heard, he was far away, looking for a job outside of your influence, and his family lived in the city on the brink of starvation."
       Mr. Carlisle winced as the gardener flung each sentence at him.  
      "Whatever happened that night, I know that Clayton didn't deserve the way you treated him.  It was your fear and intense family pride that made you overreact to everything, to take unnecessary 'precautions' against word leaking out."  The gardener shook his head.  "If this girl had wreaked vengence on your daughter, it would have served you right.  But, no, the Claytons aren't like that.  Instead of reaping what you deserved, the very family you ruined were the ones to bring you back from the disaster."
      Mr. Carlisle's face was fixed on the gardener's and his expression was unreadable.
      "You may fire me for saying this," The gardener shifted his weight and his voice lowered to a normal tone.  "But if this isn't God giving you a second chance to make things right, I don't know what is."
      Beth lifted her head, her big eyes pleading with her father.  "Can Emery stay here?  With me?  Please?"
     "I'll do it -- I'll fix this." Mr. Carlisle's voice was soft, almost unrecognizable.  "Emery Clayton, you will have employment here for as long as you desire it, with Beth.  I will bring your mother and siblings here, and they will live in your old cottage again.  My investigators will track down your father and bring him home.  The money he has lost from not working here, I will restore to him.  And, if he will take it, I will give him his position as head gardener.  Everyone..." He reached out, brushing Beth's hair from her forehead."  "...everyone will be home again."
      Emery's mind spun, not quite comprehending this sudden change in situation.  Never had she dreamed such a thing was possible. Not once, when she stopped to help Beth, did she imagine that doing so would bring her family back to their humble prosperity.
      Lady Carlisle snuggled Beth closer, resting her cheek against Beth's hair.  "For so long, this chapter lingered -- painfully kept open.  My little girl was gone, but not gone.  And our whole household was falling apart because of it.  And now that's been resolved."  She lifted her eyes to Emery, smiling at the look of overwhelming shock on Emery's face.  "For the first time in seven years, I am looking forward to tomorrow.  When an old chapter closes, a new one opens.  And this one will be a good one -- I just know it."
      
THE END

Monday, May 16, 2016

How Boyfriends Affect Your Writing

Because, as it turns out, people don't touch your life without causing ripples.

Or cannonball splashes.

So, last fall, an awesome, one-of-a-kind man waltzed into my life.  And it turned my writing world upside-down.

First of all, I was distracted.  Ah-hem.  Yep, that probably doesn't need to be explained.  He was on my brain almost all the time, and I didn't really want to think about much else.
Secondly, I was busier.  Normal writing times were replaced with long phone calls.  My life focus shifted from writing "the best story ever" to building a relationship that would potentially last for the rest of my earth-based existence.
Of course, when I did get a minute to write, I wanted to spend it journaling about him.  Because real life was suddenly more important to me than my imaginary one. Go figure.
So that resulted in several months of very little creative writing.  Which sounds bad.  But really isn't. Because...

...it made me take a break from pouring out and take some time to reflect on who I am and who I want to be.  Maybe not all boyfriends are like this, but mine makes me think.  And I began to see ways that I am odd...and difficult...and unique...and gifted.  I, like a character in a book, am full of both strengths and weaknesses, and there is nothing like a boyfriend to help you see yourself for who you are.  All those months of journaling were as much about looking at myself as it was in looking at him.  And knowing who you are makes you a stronger writer.

But my boyfriend did more than just help me understand myself better.  Because, as it turns out, he also has a passion for epic stories.  And he's a genius.  But in a different way than I am.  We compliment each other.  And he questions EVERYTHING.  Which makes me think about life in a more in-depth way than I have in a long time.

I don't know about you, but my favorite writing times are when I have something to say -- something unique and original, something deeper than plot and characters and yet intricately intertwined with them.  I don't want to write things that I have been taught.  I want to write things that I discovered for myself.  And that means I have to stop and think about how life works and why.

When I am caught up in work and school, that doesn't leave much time for pondering the meaning of existence.  It took someone (who cared enough about me to make me slow down and come up with answers) to reawaken the dreamer that I used to be before life got so busy.

Suddenly I am plumbing depths that haven't been touched in a long time, and my stories are churning up on the inside of me.

And that, my friends, is how a boyfriend affects your writing.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

The Mental Ward - Just Let Her Wake Up (41)


      "Hush, just let her wake up.  She'll be alright."  The gardner gave his advice in hushed tones and then drew back into the shadows with Emery.
       Emery covered her mouth with her hand and tried not to cry as the scene soaked into her very soul.
      They were upstairs, in the nursery where Beth had played as a little girl.  The opulance was overwhelming, with it's soft carpets, lacy curtains, and fine furniture.  Lady Carlisle sat in an overstuffed chair, cradling Beth.  Her rich gowns and elaborate hairstyle contrasted with Beth's white hospital shift, bare feet, and short-cropped hair.  But the look on Lady Carlisle's face was tender and teary-eyed, and she clutched her little girl as if she would never let her go again.
     Beth's eyes blinked and then slowly opened.  Every one in the room held their breath.  Beth's eyes roved over her mother's face, up to the ceiling, around the room, and back to her mother.  Slowly she lifted her hand and ran her finger over Lady Carlisle's chin and cheek.  "Mama?"
      Tears swelled in Lady Carlisle's eyes and splatted onto Beth's face.  "Yes, darling?"
      "MAMA!" Beth shrieked, her face lighting up as she threw both hands up around her mother's neck.
     And suddenly Lady Carlisle wasn't Lady Carlisle any more.  She was just Lola, a mother.  She wrapped Beth up in her arms, burying her face in her little girl, and sobbed.
      Downstairs a door slammed.  "Lola!"  Mr. Carlisle's voice preceeded him as he rushed in the front door and bounded up the stairs.  "Lola!  Where are you?"
      Lola's face emerged with a quavering look that wanted to cry and laugh at the same time.  "Here!  Andrew, here!"
      Mr. Carlisle appeared in the door, and his wife held out his hand to him.  He hesitated for a split second and then stumbled across the floor to throw his arms around his family.
      "You're here!  You're here!  You're alive!  You're okay!" His words rushed out, almost intelligible.  He stopped and pulled Beth's chin to face him.  "Are you okay?"
      Beth reached up, gingerly rubbing the knot on her head, and nodded.
      Lady Carlisle bristled.  "The policemen are waiting downstairs.  I'm sure you have a few words for them."
      "They can wait," the gardner murmured, just loud enough for Mr. Carlisle to hear him.  "Take your time.  We'll wait outside."  He inched toward the door.
      Mr. Carlisle raised his head, gratitude flooding every feature.  "Thank you...for this."
      The gardner shook his head.  "Don't thank me.  Thank her."  He nodded pointedly toward Emery.
      Emery shrank back, wishing she could hide behind something.
      Mr. Carlisle focused his eyes on her and slowly dipped his chin.  "Thank you, Miss..."
      Emery opened her mouth to answer but the gardner beat her to it.  "Clayton.  She's old Clayton's girl."

Saturday, May 7, 2016

The Mental Ward - But You're Wanted at Home (40)


     Andrew felt like a shadow of a man.  A body with no spirit left.  For hours he sat across the street from the asylum, staring at the force amassing against his daughter.  And he felt his life crumpling away from him.
      The team outside suddenly moved, rushing toward the asylum with their weapons drawn.  Someone brought him word that a maid on the inside had finally been able to open the doors.  It wouldn't be much longer.  Andrew hated that maid.
     Life was very confusing.  How had it come to this?  What had he done to deserve a lunatic daughter?  To lose his baby girl?  To be forced to hide her away to protect his family name?  And now to have her taken away from him all over again?  No one could ever know -- the disgrace of this night surpassed any he imagined over the last seven years.  It was one more burden he would have to bear alone, in secrecy.
      He tried not to think of the rescue team, shooting his daughter.  Every time he did, he could only see her as a tiny four-year-old, holding out her hands to him as he put her into the arms of the asylum worker.  Her face, pleading with him.  That little whimper she made.
     It seemed like an eternity before the rescue team started to re-emerge from the building.  They carried multiple people out but no little girls. Andrew left his hideaway, his legs carrying him reluctantly but forcefully toward the miniature rescue base.
     People were scrambling around, too busy for him.  He tried to ask what was going on, but nobody seemed to have an answer for him.  Finally someone told him that all the open floors had been searched, but neither Beastly nor the control box had been found yet.
     "Don't worry, Mr. Carlysle, sir.  We have it all under control." One man grinned from ear to ear and puffed his chest out.  "My name is Edwards...Jim Edwards..."  He shoved his hand under Andrew's nose.  "Let me know if there is anything I can ever do for you, Mr. Carlysle."
      Andrew ignored the man and the wheedling smile.  He despised people who envied his money and position.  They wouldn't be so eager if they knew the pain and emptiness that came with it.  Andrew curled his lip.  He was barely surviving and he was a Carlysle.  Did those little Jim-Edwards-and-such think they could handle power?  Ha.
      But the spark of pride in his heart died out almost as soon as it was lit.  Like a candle in a tornado.  And he was once again staring at the looming asylum and feeling that the end of everything was at hand.  And he was alone.
     "Sir?"  Antrin's voice sounded in his ear.
     Andrew spun to face his butler.  "What are you doing here?"  Tears sprang unbidden to his eyes.  It was a weak moment for him, and the thought that, in his loneliness, he at least had a faithful butler by his side was a sweet one.  "You weren't supposed to follow me."
      "I realize that, sir, and I apologize, but..." The butler picked at his coat button, and Andrew realized for the first time that Antrin's attitude was more uneasy than supportive.  "But...you're wanted at home."

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Time-Traveler Letter from 2015


Greetings, one and all!  I am writing this letter in 2015, and it will be posted on my blog one year later.  Which means that you are likely reading this on May 1st, 2016.  It's great fun to write something that you will read so much later.  I almost feel that you might could hear me, across this great gulf of time, if I yelled really, really loud.

HELLO! HELLO! HELLO!  GREETINGS, O FUTURE ONES!  I CALL TO YOU FROM THE NOT-SO-DISTANT PAST OF 2014!
Enough nonsense, now.  I thought I would start by responding to some of the things in my last letter.

First order of business: inspiring blogs.
     Rachel Heffington and Anne-girl continue to be inspirational to me, and their blogs will always hold a special place in my heart.  However, I have been especially helped recently by goteenwriters.blogspot.com .  K.M.Weiland's blog and http://thepenslayer.blogspot.com/ have also been influential for me this year.  And I am just started to watch http://anneelisabethstengl.blogspot.com/.

Second: current writing projects.
     The Caver's Kiss is currently being edited and is under proof-reading by two wonderful beta-readers.
     Broken Clouds is being written.
     ToP is in the planning stages.
     And all my other ideas are being instructed to wait their turns.  Except for JW, which not listening.  It wants to be written and it wants to be written now.  I should be scolding it, but I'm secretly proud of it for appearing and insisting on its own creation.  It makes my writing time easier.
     Last year, I mentioned Dungeon and Ariana's Island, which are still sitting in draft forms, and BB, which was filed away unfinished.

Third: my biggest writing flaw.
     I am still putting extra effort into not repeating myself.  And I'm trying to find the right balance in action/reaction scenes.  And I'd like to flow a little smoother and to be poetic without raising ridicule.

Fourth: improvement measurement.
     I'm not sure how to put this into words, but my story writing has improved tremendously.  I'm actually finishing things now!!!  That makes me happy.  I don't know that my blogging has improved, but the stories are better.

Fifth: blog stats.
     Pageviews all time history: 6706
     Highest-viewed month to date: April 2014 - 559
     Lowest-viewed month to date: January 2015 - 158 (I'm not counting October 2013, which was 90).
     Number of published posts: 361
     Five most popular posts of all time:
          Short Story: Becoming a Daddy
          Hideous Creature
          Beautiful People: The Cavers Kiss
          Beautiful People: Willie from BB
          Beautiful People: Hilma
     Number of comments: 270
     Number of followers: 13

Sixth: things I'm learning
     I think I'm learning to finish things -- to be more "end goal" oriented.  It's easier for me to see the end from the beginning now, including the middle.  The middle used to completely lose me.  <chuckle>
     I am not as opposed to help.  I used to think that taking advice from anyone made me less original.  And now, I am eager to get feedback and advice from sources I trust.  The best way to learn quickly is to "stand on the shoulders of giants," right?
     I am less emotionally attached to scenes -- meaning I have less fear over throwing something away.  I used to be so terrified that I would "lose" something.  Even a horrible scene...it was so hard to let it go because I WROTE IT.  Now, for every story that I write, I make a special file for deleted scenes.  Then I cut the unnecessary scene, store it in my special file, and move on.  It's made a huge improvement in my writing.

Seventh: goals
     In this coming year, I'd like to finish Broken Clouds first draft.  I'd also like to write a short story for the Rooglewood contest.  And win!  And it would be lovely to get something published.

So there you have it.  My time-traveler letter from 2015.  I hope your year has been wonderful and that the coming one is even better.

Sincerely,
E.L.Brooksmith

Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Mental Ward - Wake the House (39)


     "Alive? Yes, but maybe not for long unless you save her." Emery felt the officer's grip on her arm loosen, and she shook herself free.  "She'll die if they put her in that Box again."
     Lady Carlysle stared at Emery and tears spilled over on her cheeks.  "Alive?  My baby is alive?"
     "Lady Carlysle, if you don't mind me interrupting, this is the Clayton girl.  You remember your old gardener?  Clayton?" the gardener shook his hands by his sides, as if stirring his lady's memory.
     The butler, Antrin, shifted his weight and looked highly uncomfortable.  "Oh, yes, mmm, Clayton," he stammered.
     But Lady Carlysle didn't seem to hear.  "Where is she?" Her voice was soft, almost pleading.
     "At this moment, she lies just outside your gardens, knocked unconscious by the hands of these officers." Emery felt her voice quivering.  "She was on her way home to you, but they are taking her to lock her up again."
      The change that came over Lady Carlysle was instantaneous.  "How dare you!" she hissed, her eyes wide and angry.  The officers stumbled backwards, under her glare, suddenly fearing for their livelihoods.  "Antrin..." Lady Carlysle turned to face him, suddenly realizing he was still there.  "Where is my husband?  Why haven't you fetched him?  He will know how to deal with these barbarians!"
     "If you please, my lady, he left without saying where he was going." Antrin shifted uncomfortably, inwardly torn in his sense of duty.  "But...I believe...if I may hazard a guess...that he was on his way to the insane asylum in the city...perhaps."
      "Wake the house!" Lady Carlysle raised her voice shrilly.  "I want everyone out here.  Someone fetch my husband!  Someone get these officers' names and stations!  And someone..." She turned her eyes toward Emery and held out her hand, lowering her voice to a whimper.  "...take me to my baby Beth."

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Mental Ward - You are Her Mother! (38)


     Voices swirled, and Emery felt herself being yanked to her feet.  Puffy grayness clouded her vision as she tried to clear her head.  "No," she murmured.  She pulled in vain against the hands the held and tried again.  "No!"
     "Good heavens, officer!" The cultured woman's voice spoke again, and, through the fog in her own mind, Emery caught sight of satins and pearls.  "Is such violence really necessary on the steps of the Carlysle Mansion?"  The woman waved her hand.  "Antrin, fetch my husband."
     "Elizabeth!" Emery shouted the word like a plea or a password.  Her vision cleared and she locked her gaze with the woman in satins just in time to see the woman turn deathly pale.  Emery lowered her voice.  "Elizabeth Carlysle.  Or Beth, as she prefers."
     The satin woman backed away, retreating into her house.  "Take her away," she said, her voice croaking.  "Antrin, close the door."
     Emery felt like a knife had been stabbed into her heart and twisted.  "How can you say that?" she burst out.  "You're her mother!"  In all the hardships Emery had faced in her life, this was one that was foreign to her.  No matter how wretched life became, she could never doubt her parents' love.  "She needs you!  And you would walk away from her?"
     The retreating figure stopped and for a moment every single person stood motionless and silent.
     Then that cultured voice spoke again -- this time with tears choking the words.
     "She is...alive?"
     

Saturday, March 12, 2016

wait til next week

Thursday was my day to write the next installment of The Mental Ward. Then I got called into work on Thursday. And now it is Saturday, and I'm tapping out this pitiful excuse on a phone so you guys know I haven't forgotten you. I'm out of town at the moment, but I'll be home next week. And I'll work on the next piece of the story then. I can hardly wait to share the finale with you!!!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

The Mental Ward - Let Her Go (37)



      Beth went completely limp, her short hair sweeping across her forehead.  Emery screamed and flung herself at the officers.  Fingernails, elbows, teeth -- she fought like a madman.  But then two strong hands grasped her shoulders and held her at arms' length.  She looked up into the angry face of Thompson.
      "Don't care who you are, but if you assault an officer that is cause for punishment."  He cocked his head at her.  "Spend a night in my jail and you'll never try a stunt like this again."
     "Let her go." Emery lowered her eyebrows, putting all the authority possible into her gaze as she met the officer's eyes.
     He stared into Emery's face until Emery could feel her ears turning red.  Then he grinned.  "No."
     Emery flung herself backward and lifted both feet, thrusting them against Thompson's stomach with all her might.  Some sound between a grunt and a gasp erupted from his mouth, and his grip loosened just enough for Emery to wrench free.
     Off-balance, Emery toppled to the ground.  Instantly, she rolled to the side and scrambled to her feet.  She heard the officers behind her and felt an furious hand brush her leg and miss its grasp.  Emery's scream echoed through the air; and she tumbled, half-running and half-falling, toward the cool metal gate.
      "What's going on out here?" a gardner's voice demanded, as the gate latched swung loose under Emery's hand and she dove into the Carlyle gardens.
      "Catch her!  Catch her!  Stop her!" Thompson's voice shouted.
      The officers poured through the gate behind her, and the gardner joined the officer's pursuit.  Emery screamed again, running with all her might.  Her lungs burned.  Branches reached out and smacked her face, clawing down her arms as she tore through the shrubbery.
      The mansion loomed ahead of her, glowing white in the moonlight.  Emery pounded across the manicured lawn, with the sound of men's boots right behind her.  Up the white-stone walk, onto the porch.  She stumbled on the steps and almost fell.
     "Gotcha!" a voice said, in her ear.  Rough hands grabbed her, shoving her into the steps.  Pain shot through her body and Emery felt all the air smacked out of her lungs.
      Air rushed in again and Emery screamed, rolling to the side and trying to escape.  Her hands hit the railing of the porch, and she wrapped her fingers around the slats as an officer tried to drag her away.
      She screamed again and the officer swore.  Light suddenly flooded the porch as the front door was opened.  "What on earth?" A woman's voice.  Cultured.  Swimming with shock and disbelief.
      "Not to worry, ma'am.  Escaped criminal.  You're quite safe.  Please accept our apologies for disturbing you." Thompson's voice was barely recognizable through his winded wheezing.
      Another hand touched Emery's shoulder, rolling her body to face up.  It was the gardner.  A wrinkled, sun-tanned face that looked vaguely familiar.  His eyebrows puckered incredulously.  "Clayton?  Are you the Clayton girl?"
      Blackness circled Emery's vision and suddenly all the voices sounded far away.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Inspiration from Author Emily Ann Putzke

Hi everyone! I’m Emily Ann Putzke, author of It Took a War, Ain’t We Got Fun, and my newest novel Resist which released this week. Today I’m going to share five of my favorite writing websites.



The Online Etymology Dictionary is a wonderful resource for historical writers. If you find your characters saying things you’re not sure are historically accurate, this site is your friend. It will tell you the year the word was first used.



Helping Writers Become Authors is a great website chocked full of advice. Peruse their site for advice on both the writing and publishing process. The author, K.M. Weiland, also posts daily writing quotes on her Facebook page that are either encouraging or downright funny.



I love the layout of She’s Novel. I especially liked her post on deep point of view, and overcoming writing doubts.



I’ve been a fan of Go Teen Writers for years. There’s timeless advice on all aspects of being a writer, contests, giveaways, and more.


And finally, Pinterest. Storyboards are super helpful and fun to make, whether they’re public or private. I love finding quotes and character pictures that resonate with my story. Check out some of my storyboards HERE.





About the Author:


Emily Ann Putzke is a young novelist, historical reenactor, and history lover. You can learn more about Emily and her books on her blog, Goodreads, TwitterFacebook, and Instagram. 










              Be sure to check out the giveaway!  Winners receive an Amazon gift card!



Purchase your copy of Resist: