Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Randomness….

In lieu of actual blog post content (and until I can get my big Real Life Update post hammered out), some random thoughts from the mind of R. R. Goodwill:

~Quote of the Week~
So Mom and I were making supper, and she was shredding beets with the attachment on our mixer. A slice of beet got stuck between the plastic chute and the shredder and made a loud SQUEEEEEAK.
ME: *Chuckles* The screaming beet. …Actually, that pretty much accurately describes Rock ’n’ Roll.
MOM: “Squeak”?
ME: The Screaming Beat.
MOM: *Laughs*

~Conversations in my head~

I should totally learn Gaelic.

Aye, for sure! Erin go braugh!

Um, sweetie, you’re not Irish.

I am so!

OK, true, but you’re also Scottish, technically.

*Plays “Scotland the Brave” on bagpipes*

*Sigh*
AS I WAS SAYING….
I should totally learn Gaelic. No one can hear me when I talk anyhow. Then I could be going about muttering random junk like, “I want frozen yogurt,” or “Monkeys don’t like walnuts,” and if people asked me what I said, I could repeat it in Gaelic. And when they asked, “What does that mean?” I could smile impishly and reply, “Wouldn’t you like to know!” or, “That would be tellin’.”

Anka, you need a Tumblr account, not a weblog.

What? And have my thoughts posted in public??

Um…isn’t your blog public? I mean, you don’t have it in Protection Mode like you did your Xanga account, so…. *Shrug*

Ha! If all the Internet were an interactive, highly-detailed map of the world, my little blog would be a pin-prick on the coffee table.
In some old granny’s attic. :-P

Did you just call Blogger an old attic?

* * *
And just for laughs and giggles, a few of my favorite snippets from some of my WIPs. Ones without a book title attached are ones I’m still figuring out where they belong in the timeline. Ahh, the joys of non-linear inspiration….
(All pictures via Pinterest)
Enjoy:

     Another door opened down the hall, and a lady with bobbed silvery hair poked her head out. “What on earth is that racket downstairs?” she asked, adjusting her large, black-rimmed spectacles. “And what’s all this I hear about burglars?”
     “They—they’re trying to break down the door, Lillian!” Mrs. Daley wailed, running up to her with the poker in hand.
    “Then they must be rather stupid burglars,” Lillian quipped. “Thieves generally don’t alert their intended victims that they’re about to break into the house; they use lock-picks. You know that, Alice Daley.”
     “Oh—yes—of course,” Mrs. Daley gulped. “I—I just forgot. I haven’t my full senses at night.”
~Prince Nácil


     Jason smiled sheepishly, his face as hot as the sizzling bacon on the table, and held out the wildflowers. “Happy Birthday,” he squeaked in almost-perfect Gaelic.
"You told me to take time to smell the flowers!" *Inhales aggressively* "ACHOO!":      Ember blinked, still squinting, a few seconds as her groggy brain gradually processed his words. Then she beamed at him and took the flowers happily. “Oh!” she crowed. “Oh! ’Tis my birthday—of course! Thank’ee, boy-o; that was sweet of you to remember.” Then, smiling impishly, she practically shoved her face in the bouquet and inhaled their fragrance aggressively.
     “What are you doing?” Jason cried.
     “You told me to take time to smell the flowers,” she explained. Then she sneezed violently, scattering pollen and loose petals in his face.
~Jason Windrider



Iceheart:      “Henceforth, you are no longer my sister, but my enemy—a traitor to our people. You may style yourself as Queen of the Fae, O Krystála, but my allegiance is to Prince Nácil, and in his name I shall fight you.”
     Lady Krystála threw her head back and laughed heartily. “You?” she sneered. “What power do you possess to fight me, little Müriel? You who cannot cast a spell without the aid of your silly wand? You who tremble at every raised voice and loud noise? And as for your precious Prince Nácil,” she continued, narrowing her eyes and smirking, “he is as good as dead. He has suffered a mortal sorrow—”
     “—which you yourself inflicted upon him!” Müriel shouted.
“...Iceheart I name you, for you are cold as the winds upon the snow-capped mountains, with a heart as hard and pitiless as stone.” ~Lady Müriel:      “—and we all know that even the High-elves cannot last long in such a state,” Lady Krystála continued, ignoring her interruption. “He will die in the World of Men, and Ýdára shall be purged of Othniel’s line. Or, should he be foolish enough to return hither, he shall die regardless. Do not put your hope in him, little girl; he will not return.”
     Müriel started hard at her, a frown of anger, hurt and sorrow weighing down her countenance. “You are well named Krystála,” she said, “for its root—krystalos—means ‘ice’ in the tongues of Men. When they first beheld rock quartz, they believed it to be ice that was permanently frozen—as is your heart. Therefore Iceheart I name you, for you are cold as the winds upon the snow-capped mountains, with a heart as hard and pitiless as stone.”
~Rise of Iceheart



     “Ugh,” Tom snorted, wrinkling her nose; “love-letters are such slush—nothing but a bucketful of pure, sloppy, maple-syrup-infused, sentimental slush!”
     “Have you got enough adjectives there, Tommy-lass?” Ember snickered.
     “I daresay I’ve used up my quota for one sentence,” Tom smirked, “but seriously! Why can’t folk talk sensibly when they’re in love? If I wrote Ciaran and called him ‘my precious darling,’ he’d laugh his head off. Or think I’d gone daft. I never called him such silly names before I discovered I loved him; why should I do it afterwards? And if he was sappy enough to give me such an epitaph,” she concluded, “I’d call him a numpty.”

Numpty--Gaelic for "useless, bumbling idiot":
Scottish Gaelic



     “Tell you what,” Anton replied, sliding a comforting arm about Jason’s shoulders, “if you’re killed, I’ll guard your body ’till the fighting is over. Then I’ll have you burned and take your ashes to the Elves, and I’ll have them use them to make a precious gem. Then I’ll take your and Ember’s swords and have a sword maker combine them into a whacking-great claymore, and I’ll set the hilt with the gem made from your remains. I’ll give the thing to Ember, and she can find the people who killed you and hack them to pieces with the claymore.”
     Jason shot him a sideways dubious look. “Er…thank you…?”
     Ciaran raised his eyebrows. “’Tis both disturbin’ an’ amazin’ that be, at the same time.”
This is a bit macabre, yet inspiring:
The quote that inspired this snippet
 ~The Treasure of Rainbow Rock


     “Perhaps Jane woke up again, and Lillian had to reassure her that everything is all right,” Alice suggested.
     “My granddaughter,” Mrs. Whittaker explained, handing Victor a cup of tea. “She’s only seven, you see, and little girls frighten easily in thunderstorms like this.”
     Victor’s cup paused halfway to his mouth, and he stared into it silently for a moment. His friendly smile had faded into an expression of sadness, and his twilight-gray eyes misted over. “Yes,” he murmured, more to himself than to the two ladies, “yes, I know about—about little girls.”
~Prince Nácil



     To Tom’s horror, Shadow took a flying leap into the mixing-bowl containing the dry ingredients, and Midnight jumped in after his brother. Pouff! A cloud of flour shot up as the kittens scrambled to get out of the bowl. Tom wailed in despair and was about to grab them both by the scruff of the neck, when they leapt over the opposite side and skittered across the rest of the island, dropping to the floor with a plop and a small explosion of flour. Shadow shook off the remaining flour from his fluffy hide, but a good amount had stuck to Midnight’s face, looking for all the world like some sort of mask.
     “Cat, you look like a demon,” Tom snorted, still angry.
     Ember pretended to be frightened and crossed herself. “Elyon preserve us!” she ejaculated. “’Tis the Flour Demon!” Then she laughed at her own foolishness.

“Elyon preserve us!” [Ember] ejaculated. “’Tis the Flour Demon!”

     Anton snorted. “She always did treat me like her idiot brother.”
     “Well, frankly,” Jason remarked, “you sometimes act like it. Not that I’m calling you an idiot, mind,” he added quickly, “and I’m not taking her side against you, exactly… but, well…as I see it—personally—you are rather in the wrong here.”
     “So what am I supposed to do? Saddle my horse and chase after her? Dash into the theater and beg her forgiveness on bended knee?”
     “Oh, I’m sure she’d love that,” Jason chuckled ruefully. “Not to mention everyone in the theater. No, I’d wait for her to come home, and have something nice prepared for her—including a sincere apology.”
     Anton’s mouth curled into a mischievous smile.
     Jason pointed a finger in his face. “No exploding root beer!” he ordered.
     Anton made a face. “You’re no fun.”




     A chunk of the snow covering the boulder suddenly gave way under Yokúl’s hand, and he tumbled forward. The boulder happened to be on a slope, so down rolled Yokúl, head-over-heels, his clothes gathering snow along the way, straight for the circle of Snow-faeries. He passed right between two of the Snow Queen’s handmaidens—giving them quite a start—and crashed into the heels of Snow Queen herself before she had time to do more than look behind her. The snow he had accumulated burst off in a minor explosion, most of it coating the hem of her gown. Yokúl lay flat on his back, staring up into the upside-down face of the Snow Queen, who peered at him with a sort of cold curiosity.
     Yokúl flashed her a sheepish half-smile. “I don’t believe we’ve been properly introduced,” he quipped.
~Ice and Snow


     “You!”
     The Man froze in his tracks, his eyes wide with terror, his face taking on a grayish hue.
     “Come hither!” Obsidia commanded.
dragon eye by TatianaMakeeva on DeviantArt <--Looks like Obsidia's angry about something....:      The Man trembled all over himself, jerkily putting one foot before the other as he reluctantly approached the Dragoness. His mouth opened and closed, but no sound came forth.
     “Speak!” Obsidia bade him, snorting two thin wisps of smoke out her nose.
     “P-please,” he begged, his voice squeaking, “spare my life, I b-beg of you—and—and in return I—I shall give you my two young daughters. They will be sweeter, and tenderer, than an old goat like me—”
     Obsidia clashed her teeth together, her eyes flashing amber-red for a moment. “Am I one of the foul Ýrkhós”*—she spat out an ember as she said the word—“that you offer me Man-flesh?! I am Obsidia, the Black Fire-dragoness! And I. Do. Not. Eat. MAN!” She stared hard at him, her face moving closer and closer to his as she spoke, until their eyes were less than a foot apart.
     The Man shuddered worse than before, perspiration rolling down his face. “A-a thousand pardons, O Great One!” he began.
     “Cease your gibbering, Man—if indeed a man you be, and not a mouse,” she snorted, backing away a very little. “Now hearken! I have a request to make of you.”
     “I—I shall do whatever you ask,” the poor Man whimpered, “if you will but spare me.”
     Obsidia fixed him with a paralyzing gaze and stared at him steadily, unblinking, for several seconds, until the fellow looked ready to faint. “Teach me all there is to know about the preparation of food!” she ordered in her most imperious voice.
~Jason Windrider

*Ýrkhós = The collective name given to Goblins, Hobgoblins, and Orcs in Ýdára


     “What’s the matter? Why are you crying? Aren’t you happy here?”
     Jane wiped her eyes. “I—I am grateful—for—for all your kindness,” she slurred, “but—but—but what if I can’t get home again? What if I’m trapped here forever?”
     Harold blinked. “Oh, is that all? Why, if that happens, then you can stay here with me and Lady Müriel. She’ll take good care of you, and so will I.” He brightened. “See here! We could pretend you’re my sister, and—Well, now what’s wrong?”—as Jane’s eyes filled with tears again.
     “That’s what Robert says,” she whimpered.
     “Who is Robert, dear heart?” Lady Müriel asked gently.
     “My friend who lives over the hill in the West pasture,” Jane replied, rubbing her eye. “He’s so kind to me—he tells Teacher when the other boys tease me—and pretends I’m his little sister. He has ever so many big sisters,” she explained, dabbing her handkerchief at her nose, “but he says he always wanted a little sister to take care of, so he chose me.”
     “He sounds like a special person, indeed,” Lady Müriel smiled.
     Jane nodded. “Oh, he is. I—I wish he was here….” And she buried her face in her already sodden handkerchief.
~Prince Nácil



     Anton beat the drum at a regular interval—dum, dum, rat-tat-tump, dum, dum, rat-tat-tump—perfect for marching to. The others kept time more or less perfectly, but Anton of course could not be confined to merely marching. He skipped and hopped and pranced like a high-stepping pony—all in time to his drumbeat—chanting boldly and cheerfully at the top of his voice:

The Donkey and the Elephant
Went to the land of Hackenstant—
Tump, tump, tump, hilay!
And as they walked,
Nor never talked,
They sang this pleasant little chant:
Tump, tump, tump, hilay!
Tumpty-tumpty, tump, hilay!
Huzzah!

     “What nonsense might this be, then?” Ember muttered.
     “Oh, you know Anton,” Fiona whispered. “Whatever brings a smile to folks’ faces or provokes a good laugh, he’s sure to think of it.”
     “And run with it,” Jason chuckled.




     “Wait!” Yokúl cried.
     The Frost King halted and shot him an annoyed glance over his shoulder.
     “I—I have a request.”
     “What is it?” Krystalós sneered. “Are you going to beg for your life, Leaf-painter?”
     “No, sir; I know that would be useless. My request is simply this: If you’re going to kill me, then do it yourself—with your own hands. Anyone can have lackeys and underlings do their killing for them, but have you the courage to look me in the eye as you strike me down? To watch the life slowly fade from my eyes? If you’re going to take my life, Krystalós of the Frost, then you owe me that much. If you can’t, then you’re a bigger coward than I gave you credit for.”
     The Frost King glared at him several seconds in cold, stony silence. He turned to face Yokúl and took a few forceful steps forward, gripping the wolf’s-head handle of his sword. “Nothing would give me greater pleasure,” he growled.
---------------
     The blade whistled through the air as its sharp edge neared Yokúl’s neck. Yokúl swallowed involuntarily and closed his eyes, squaring his shoulders and taking what he believed to be his last breath.
     The whistling ceased suddenly, and the wolves and Efríts behind him groaned and yammered in dismay. Yokúl opened his eyes and saw the Frost King looking at him with confusion—and even a bit of fear—flickering across his face. He held the sword parallel to the snow-covered ground, barely an inch away from Yokúl’s neck.
     “No,” Krystalós intoned, his voice like a glacier. He brought the tip of the sword under Yokúl’s chin and lifted it up. “That is too quick and clean a death for an upstart like you.”
     Yokúl exhaled softly, relief flooding through him. He smirked up at his would-be executioner. “I knew you couldn’t do it.”
~Ice and Snow



     “When one person loves another very much, it’s as though that other person is a part of one—as though God Himself had knitted their hearts together in such a way that each can feel what the other is feeling. Perhaps your grandmother means that she loves you so much, little Jane, that, when you’re sad, or afraid, or hurt, she feels it with you. But love can also rejoice with the happiness of those we love,” he added, smiling slightly.
     “That’s like something Jesus said in the Bible!” Jane exclaimed. “He said to ‘weep with those who weep,’ and ‘rejoice with those who rejoice,’ but I never knew that was part of loving someone. But that makes sense…only…I can’t really explain why.”
~Prince Nácil



     The children circled the tower, feeling carefully along its smooth, beautifully carved walls. But there didn’t appear to be anything like a door anywhere.
     Sierra looked upwards, gazing at the windows. She chuckled as an idea came to her.
     “What?” Shasta asked, hearing her.
     Sierra blushed. “Oh, well,” she simpered, “I was just thinking of the story of Rapunzel. We’re kinda like the prince; we want to get in, but there’s no door.”
     “Say, there’s an idea!” Shasta beamed. With that, she faced the nearest window and cupped her hands around her mouth. “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!” she shouted.
     The children watched anxiously—Sierra rubbing her right ear, which Shasta had accidentally yelled into—but the windows remained shut.
     “Phooey,” Shasta grumbled.
~The Tower of Pearl



     “I don’t like the thought of dying any more than you do,” Robert continued. “But if I could save you somehow…then it wouldn’t be so bad. And if I can’t…well, I meant what I said: I’ll protect you, Jane—with my last breath, if necessary.”
     “Oh, please don’t talk like that.”
     “Why not? It’s true.”
     Jane’s body shook with a repressed sob, and she sniffled softly. “I don’t want to die,” she whimpered. “There were things I wanted to do before…before I went to Heaven.” She looked ruefully up at him. “I’m sure you feel the same way.”
     “If you only knew,” he murmured.
~The Obsidian Castle



     Othniel smiled softly at her. “Princess,” he murmured, “why are you doing this? Yesterday you did not know I existed, yet you are willing to help me become your partner for life. You have my admiration, yet I am curious as to your motives.”
     Again [Jael] looked up at him with eyes shining like sapphires, peering steadily at him without speaking for a moment. At length she replied, “You have become almost a legend among the peoples, much talked of and that right favorably. This day I have seen with my own eyes that the reports of you are true, and that has earned you my respect—which is not an easy thing to obtain, mind you.” Sadness clouded her face for a moment. “But there is a greater cause for me to approve of you: Sítára Halfelven was my friend, and her banishment is a bitter trial to those who love her. She wrote to me and told of how you changed her mother’s curse into a blessing, though she had wronged you greatly. For this, I have long admired you, and prayed Elyon that He would bless you for it.”
~The Labors of Othniel



     “Why, hullo there, Stardust.”
     “What? That.”
     “Come now, little one, you know a book when you see it.”
     “Book.”
     “That’s right. A very interesting book, which I’m trying to read just now.”
     “Teach!”
     “You want me to teach you to read?”
     “Read! Knowledge.”
Anton with the Dragonets:      “Well, I can’t argue with that. But this is rather advanced to start off with. If you’re going to learn reading, you’ll need to start at the beginning.”
     Anton closed the book, ignoring Stardust’s whimpering, and found a stout stick nearby. “We’ll begin with the letters.” He wrote out the alphabet in the dirt with the stick, reciting the name of the letters as he drew them. Stardust hovered over each letter and studied it carefully, repeating the names back to him.
     “Good. Now I’ll point to a letter, and you tell me what it is, all right?”
     “Right!”
    He pointed to a T. “What’s this letter?”
     “I!”
     “Try again.”
     “L!”
     “Try again.”     
     “Too hard.”
     “You give up too easily, little one. That’s a T. But perhaps I’m going too fast. Let’s say them all again from first to last.”
     Just then, Oriános fluttered down, landing squarely in the middle of the alphabet.
     “Teach Oriános, too!” he begged.
     “Well, all right, but you’ll have to move your tail, Golden Boy; you’re sitting on your lesson just now.”
~The Silver One

* * *

That’s enough for now. Many more snippets, and y’all won’t need to read my books when (Lord willing) they’re published, LOL.

Until next time, Gentle Readers,
God bless,
~R~

Saturday, April 1, 2017

“Can I call you *Bob*?”




(Virtual cookies to whoever gets the joke! ;-))


I was—keyword WASgoing to do a Rapunzel-themed April Fool’s post today, and see if I could fake you-all out into thinking I’d gotten a chin-length bob….

…but then Blogger ATE MY DRAFT just because I accidentally went into edit mode and back out again without saving, even though I hadn’t made any changes. (WHAT?!) Hours of work—finding the right pix, linking to the sources like a good girl, writing it all out, polishing and proofreading and previewing to get it looking (mostly) just right—and months of waiting to spring my loverly, clever little joke on my Gentle Readers…down the flush.
You bet I was mad.
And I didn’t feel like re-writing it (and when I tried, it came out all stupid).

So instead, I’ll just come out and say it: I cut my hair. Actually, Mom cut my hair, but at my request.
And now some of you are looking at me like
No, nononono. Don't go! Stay with me, Eugene! Flower gleam and glow, let your powers shine...:
"What have you DONE?!"
Just stay with me here....
In a nutshell, it was too long to leave down without getting in the way (or tucked into my jeans along with my shirts :-P), and the waist-length braid was feeling rather stale and unflattering. I wanted something fresh and new…and that didn’t take ten or fifteen minutes to fix in the mornings when I feel like I need to go-go-go ASAP.


In all honesty, I actually did seriously consider a short bob (but a LOT better looking than that stupid Anime-inspired monstrosity they gave poor Rapunzel. FAIL). However…well, a chin-length bob with straight hair tends to look rather plain. And I feel plain enough as it is, most of the time.

OH, ANKA, YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL!!!

Thanks, boy-o…but you’re prejudiced. ;-)

Plus chin-length is rather short, almost too short to look feminine (on me, anyhow). So I took Mom’s advice and went with a less drastic length.


Ta-da! *Cue dorky smile*
All pix but this one taken by Mom

(Fun fact: The first thing out of my brothers mouth when he saw it was, "Hey, Jo." *Snicker*)

And now that you’ve (hopefully) recovered from my shocking bit of news, here are some better pix of my new ’do:

Mom wanted to curl the ends after cutting it,
to see how it would look.
Obviously, one side was still dampish :-P


Hair was still wet back there,
so it didn't curl, LOL
Cute, ja? 

This was actually a couple inches longer than I intended—I was thinking of just-barely-shoulder-length—but Mom cut it longer, and when I saw it, I realized it was quite short enough, and that any shorter would probably be hard to put up in the Summer. 
Its a bit plain, perhaps, and definitely a major change from what I’m used to, but soooo much easier to care for and deal with already. I love it!
(For the curious, we actually made the chop back in March, but it was too perfect an April Fool’s gag! Or would have been, if Blogger hadn't been such a snot.) 

This length will allow me to put it up if I’m so inclined (even in curlers, as pictured below), but is still short enough that I don’ t have to all the time. It pretty much stays out of my way, and I don’t have to deal with a three-foot hairy curtain or thickish braid sweeping the floor when I bend over, now. :-P

I look a bit stoned here, LOL
...although the pix we took before  were worse.
I miss being photogenic
My aunt gave me a bunch of headbands shortly before The Haircut, and Ive found they work really well! A pair of simple hair-clips is good for at-home days, too, and to my delight, I can still dress up my shorn locks with hair-flowers and ribbons!

Headband and Curls. (No, nobody punched my lights out.
I have permanent dark circles. Mreh.)
So, what are your thoughts?  
Did my news shock the tar out of you, or are you still chuckling?  
Do you love my new do, hate it, or not care one way or another? 
I want to know!
MOM: "OK, Licorice, tickle her so she'll smile."
*Cat rubs against ankles*
ME: *Laughs*
CAMERA: *Click*

Until next time, Gentle Readers,
God bless,
~R~

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Character Encounter March | Indie e-Con 2017! ~Victor Greenwood~



In honor of the massive blogging event Kendra and several other “Indie” authors are hosting on their blogs this week, I’m carving out a bit of time to participate in one of my favorite activities—Character Encounters!

The setting: We’re supposed to pretend Indie e-Con is a real live convention in a big building in Dallas, Texas. I’ll warn you right now there won’t be a whole lot of description, as I’ve never been to a big convention in Dallas. Or anywhere, for that matter.

What about the Celtic Festival?

Not sure that counts. The Nevada County Fairgrounds of Grass Valley, California aren’t exactly in the same class as a big convention center Dallas, Texas.

Fair enough. *Smirk*

Och! Bad pun, boy-o!

OK, silence in the Peanut Gallery, please. On with the Encounter!

* * *
Disclaimer (for those new to my blog): I use the terms Anka and Ank’ to describe myself and other writers, but full credit for their invention goes to Kendra E. Ardnek. No copyright infringement is intended. This is all in the spirit of fun.

I’d never seen so many people in one place in y whole life. Well, maybe that one time we visited San Francisco….
     People in regular clothes—jeans and hoodies, a few girls in skirts and dresses—others dressed like characters from their favorite Indie novels…most of which I didn’t recognize, being sadly out of the loop due to not owning a Kindle or having a regular income to buy new books. The girl in the red dress with more jewelry on than seemed possible for one person to wear, though—no fan of Kendra E. Ardnek’s Rizkaland Legends could mistake who she was supposed to be.

     I smiled to myself, adjusting my ankle-length blue taffeta frock. Good thing I hadn’t gotten around to shortening it yet, I mused. Somehow it just wouldn’t have seemed a WaterPrincess-y otherwise.
     It occurred to me then that the Water Princess did in fact wear shorter dresses later in the book…but I figured, hey, if I’m going to dress up, I might as well go all the way.
     Or at least half, I reminded myself, frowning at my unadorned fingers. Another result of having no income—no funds for a proper Water Princess Ring, neither. It was only by a miracle I’d even been able to attend this event.

I made my way through the enormous convention center, marveling that all these folks gathered were writers like myself—each with stories to tell, imaginary people and worlds in our heads just aching to get out and be shared with the world. Excitement welled up inside me, manifesting itself in a huge grin and friendly nod to those I met.
     “Nice costume!” several people called out in passing, for which I thanked them as best I could. Really, it would have felt more like a proper costume if I’d been able to embroider the thing—or at least add some trim—but this had been kind of a spur-of-the-moment thing. One doesn’t turn down free tickets to something this fabulous.
     “Hey, Water Princess,” someone else called, “watch out for Amber!”
     “Meh, Amber better watch out for ME!” I returned, giving what I hoped would be a not-too-pathetic karate-chop and earning a laugh from my fellow con-goer.

I couldn’t help but scan the crowds for a certain imaginary ginger of my acquaintance, who might be dressed in a red tunic…but instead I spotted someone else entirely.
Reminds me of Victor:
[source]
     A tall, lithe man with raven-black hair, a pale complexion, and a decidedly Roman nose, dressed like a working man of the last century—somewhere between the 19-teens and the 1920s or ’30s—looked about him with confusion in his twilight-gray eyes. Upon catching sight of me, however, he smiled, seeming relieved. He placed his right fist across his chest and bowed from the waist. “Greetings, Anka,” he said.
     “Hullo, Victor,” I replied. “Say, aren’t you a little out of uniform? I usually imagine you in tall boots and embroidered tunics.”
     “You forget, Anka, that in the World of Men, I must look like a Son of Adam. Elven garb would seem out of place among your Race. However,” he added, looking about at the various outfits of people around us, “perhaps no one would notice, considering some of the costumes I’ve seen today.”
     “Actually, I’m not sure they can see you at all,” I confided.
     As if on cue, another attendee walked past, complimenting my “costume,” but ignoring Victor entirely. I noticed Victor saluting anyhow.
     “You are the polite one,” I quipped, “greeting someone who can’t even see you.”
     Victor blinked. “I beg your pardon?”
     “You waved to that other Anka just now.”
     “I greeted both the Anka and her companion,” Victor stated, as if correcting me.
     “Her what?”
“Her companion. Didn’t you see…?” He paused in mid-sentence, slowly raising his eyebrows and trying not to smile. “Ah, I understand. Your fellow Ank’ can’t see me…but neither can you see their imaginary friends, who have accompanied them to this grand event.”
     “There are more?” I squeaked, looking about eagerly. I saw only Flesh-and-Blood people—and I could tell even the more fantastically-dressed ones were Flesh-and-Blood because…well, it’s hard to explain in words, but they just didn’t have that air of the imaginary that my friends had whenever I encountered them in Real Life. “Fascinating,” I murmured. Then I turned to Victor again. “Are you here to glean some information for your own writing?”
     A cloud passed over his face, and I could tell that painful memories came to his mind. “I did think perhaps I could learn from these other Ank’,” he admitted, “but this event is so massive…I must own myself rather bewildered.”
     “I’m a bit overwhelmed, myself,” I confessed. “Well, let’s just sit in on whatever lectures we can and not worry about attending all of them or participating in everything…much fun as some of the activities sound.”
     Victor nodded. “A wise plan, to be sure. I see that some of them are willing to critique others’ writing; will you take advantage of it?”
     “I’d like to,” I answered. “In fact,” I added, smirking, “I was thinking of submitting a snippet of your story, if you’re agreeable.”
     “I would be honored. But take care not to reveal too much just yet. It wouldn’t do for them to know exactly who I am before they even read my full story.”
     “Catch me!” I chuckled. “Don’t worry, I won’t spoil the surprise. Say, we’d better hurry if we’re going to get in on today’s critiquing session on time!”

Monday, February 20, 2017

Treat or Tripe? | The BFG



Having grown up with the rather dark TV cartoon version (circa 1989) of Roald Dahl’s otherwise delightful story, I had my reservations about viewing Disney’s 21st century update. Reading the reviews gave me the impression it was pretty much a straight remake of the cartoon—with a few tweaks, of course—and since anything intense or frightening in a cartoon is usually ten times scarier in live-action and/or CGI…well, I wasn’t sure a trip to Giant Country was the best idea. However, as with several other new movies in recent years, my curiosity overcame my suspicions, and I put it in the NetFlix queue. We watched it last Saturday.

And while it will probably never be on my Top Ten Favorite Movies list…I’m glad we gave it a chance.

I’ll not delve into specific content and plot here—there are a couple Christian review sites that do a fairly good job of that. This post is simply my impressions of the movie, thoughts it provoked during and after viewing, and how it compares with the cartoon. I can’t say how it holds up to the book, because I’ve never read it (yet ;-)). In fact, I didn’t even know it was a book until almost half my life ago—long after I’d outgrown the cartoon. Story of my life…but I digress.

The live-action movie is definitely not a straight remake of the cartoon. In fact, it’s almost completely different, apart from the basic plot and several key scenes (which in themselves are portrayed differently). This is not necessarily a bad thing. As I mentioned before, the cartoon, for all its fun, lighthearted portrayals of BFG and Sophy’s friendship—and even a few goofy moments—does contain some pretty intense scenes for a kids’ movie. It’s never gory or particularly violent, but although Bro and I were pretty young when we first saw it, and neither of us had any ill effects…well, I wouldn’t recommend it for “chiddlers” under ten. Happily, this version isn’t quite as intense—although a couple scenes might be frightening for the under-eight crowd, especially in the theater in 3-D.
In fact, it almost feels tame by comparison (the climax especially).

The tone is, overall, more serious—even somber—than the cartoon, especially considering Sophy isn’t the first “Bean” BFG has brought back to his cave. It’s implied, although never actually stated (or shown), that one of the other giants eventually found out about BFG’s first little friend…and ate him. It adds another element of danger to the plot, and an extra layer of sadness to BFG’s character. It also explains why he’s so protective of Sophy…and why he eventually finds the courage to stand up to the other giants and help Sophy form a plan to end to their crimes against humanity.

I always loved the cartoon’s BFG for his cheerfulness and humor, and probably always will. This BFG, by contrast, struck me as being a bit grumpier, at least at first. As the story progresses, one gets the impression that BFG’s long years—and he admits to being “as old as the earth”—have made him tired and…well, I wouldn’t call him cynical, but he is definitely more subdued. He’s weary and heartsick at the “murderful” doings of his fellow giants, but too afraid to stand up to them. He feels he is too weak and too small to make them listen to him—he is, after all, the “runt.”
This BFG is older, wiser, and more of a thinker. This BFG is lonely, but shuns the company of the other giants because of their differences…and the fact that they bully and taunt and take advantage of him doesn’t help. He has a strong sense of right and wrong, but is too afraid to confront the wrong head-on (at first, anyway). He sees the faults of others around him and tries to compensate in his own way. He’s different from his peers—both in size and appearance, and in personality and conduct. He is creative and tries to make life beautiful; the other giants only know how to take what they want and destroy things. BFG lives in an improvised cottage or furnished cave; the other giants sleep out-of-doors. BFG collects firefly-like Dreams and gives them away like presents—blowing them into sleeping people’s rooms at night. Dreams that sometimes reflect the secret longings of the recipients’ hearts, which BFG can hear. And he’d rather eat disgusting, slimy Snozcumbers than stoop to his peer’s level of hunting and gobbling up humans. Even though he can’t stand Snozcumbers.
I saw a lot of myself in this BFG.

I must confess to being a bit shocked when, upon reading the reviews, I discovered that the effects of drinking Frobscottle—which BFG describes as a “whiz-popper”—is not, in fact, a burp. As a kid, I always assumed the downward-fizzing bubbles in BFG’s favorite brew came up once inside the drinker…or that it simply filled you with gas and lifted you into the air, rather like Willy Wonka’s Fizzy Lifting Drink.
*Sigh* The innocence of youth….
The cartoon just showed BFG, Sophy, and a kind of mouse-like creature rising into the air and zipping about randomly (accompanied by a catchy song that’s now running through my head…). The live-action version adds explosive clouds of green gas—and sometimes rude noises—to the “whiz-popping” experience. Which I felt to be a bit over the top, but then, I’ve never had any great love for body-function “humor.”
However, this is really a small part of the movie and doesn’t detract much from the main plot.

It’s hard to place the genera of this movie. Teens and older kids will probably find it slow and hard to follow, yet it doesn’t really offer adults much, either. As Bro put it, the moviemakers “focused more on abstract themes,” cutting out A LOT of the material we remembered from the cartoon, and leaving the movie feeling rather hollow.
Some of the tenderest and most important scenes in BFG and Sophy’s character development happen in the oddest places in the timeline, or with strange choreography—if you will—that doesn’t seem to fit the dialogue. Probably the biggest head-scratcher is their discussion of “Sophy’s Dream,” a special kind of Dream she caught in Dream Country…a discussion that takes place on a hillside overlooking the sleeping giants…while their plan to capture them is in motion. It just seemed out of place and impractical to be discussing Sophy’s heart’s desire in plain sight of nine other giants who would happily eat her for lunch if they saw her.

I’m not going to be mean and call this movie a load of tripe. This is actually one of the cleaner movies I’ve seen in a while (and considering some of Stephen Spielberg’s other movies—featuring rather cruder humor—that’s pretty good). And it was a bit of a “treat” to find it so much less frightening than parts of the cartoon.
However, I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s better than the cartoon. It is, and it isn’t. The darker elements are toned down, what violence/intense content is there is more cartoonish and comedic. The cinematography is amazing. BFG—and indeed, much of the world around him—is so realistically rendered that I actually forgot for a while that he is really computer-generated. The addition of BFG’s mad camouflage skillz during Sophy’s abduction was a hoot. The Snozcumber was appropriately slimy and unappetizing (in the cartoon, it was red-and-black striped outside and deep seafoam-green inside, and didn’t really look that “slimy and sickable”). BFG himself looked almost as if he’d stepped right out of the cartoon—from his mysterious black cloak to his wide, pointed ears, down to the style of his sandals—and gotten a more realistic makeover.  I especially liked how they designed his Dream-blowing trumpet, and the various mechanical devices in his cave—many of which were made from Human artifacts, as were many other things in Giant Country.
The music (composed by none other than John Williams) is delightful—it’s one of those soundtracks that, on the whole, fits the action so subtly and so well that you don’t really notice it, yet it undergirds the story. The one exception is the scene where the evil giants are rummaging about BFG’s Dream-cave while hunting for Sophy. The background music has a more comical feel to it—what I’ve dubbed “bumbling idiot music”—which helps diffuse an otherwise tense sequence rather nicely.

But the more abstract feel and odd script and directing choices leave it lacking the depth, both in plot and worldbuilding, that the cartoon had. The live-action is a bit more kid-friendly overall, but the cartoon tells a lot more of the story, and in a more interesting way. As Elizabeth Bennett would say, there is just enough between them to make one good sort of movie.

On the whole, we all enjoyed it pretty well (Mom’s biggest beef was that they made BFG so much smaller than the other giants!), and I wouldn’t mind seeing it again every so often.

But now I want to read the book and find out what really happened….

Until next time, Gentle Readers,
God bless,
~R~

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Quote Queste February | Love and War. Mostly Love.


 




Joining Arielle/Miss Melody’s monthly writing challenge, using this as a starting point:
https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/8f/20/bd/8f20bd88fcaaa07f16e28ffad1ce5f9a.jpg
It’s admittedly rather tricky coming up with a good scenario for these…especially since I never equate being in love with going to war. Total opposites in my mind. :-P Makes it all the more challenging, wot?

Anyhoo, I dashed off this rather sappy piece of dialogue for the purpose of this exercise, using a couple originally part of my Heirs of Dunsmüir story-arc: Lisbeth and her best friend Brynhildr, AKA Ben. You’ve met Isabella—this was going to be her younger sister. I initially cut them from the cast to avoid having too many Main Characters, but I’m toying with adding them back in again. Or I may stick them in elsewhere in the timeline. Don’t know yet. For now, they made for a good scene that wouldn’t be spoilerific. ;-)

Black text = Ben       Blue text = Lisbeth

* * *
Leona:
via Pinterest
     “I suppose this is it—our last hours in this world.”
     “It looks that way.”
     “It’s not fair! You’re the strongest man in Fjórdhaven, and I’m no weakling, myself—we should have been able to give a better account of ourselves—”
     “One man and one strong woman are no match for two-score fighting Orcs.”
     “I suppose not—but it still goes against the grain to be caught like minnows and wait about to be used as bait.”
     “Well, there’s nothing we can do about it, so let’s not spoil these last moments with bitter grumbling.”
     “What would you suggest?”
     “We could say our goodbyes. Last words and all that.”
     “Things we’ve been meaning to say, but never got around to it?”
     “Something like that.”
     “You start. I don’t know how to begin, so perhaps I can take my cues from you.”
Character inspiration:
via Pinterest
     “As you wish. You’ve really changed my life, you know. Before I met you, I just sort of drifted along, like a skiff on a current. Never really took much interest in life or got involved with much of anything. Then you crashed into my life, and I found I’d best look lively. You forced me to do more than just observe and think; you taught me to do things.”
     “And you taught me to slow down and look where I was going—sometimes literally. You taught me to think before I speak, look before I leap—that sort of thing. And you didn’t sneer at me for wanting to know all about sailing and fishing. Every useful, practical thing I know, I learned from you. I’m glad to have known you, Ben Larsson.”
     “Likewise…and more.”
     “More?”
     “Well…knowing you…learning all about you…spending time with you…well, it was a bit like going to war. I was never the same afterwards.”
     “That’s not very romantic—or flattering.”
     “I meant that in a good way. I’d…given the chance, I’d have taken an arrow to the knee* for you, Lisbeth.”
     “And I’d have done the same for you—wait, what?!”
     “You heard me.”
     “Brynhildr Larsson, did you just propose marriage to me?”
     “That would hardly be fair, considering we’re about to be killed.”
     “But supposing we weren’t? Supposing by some miracle, we were able to escape to freedom?”
     “That’s a lot of supposing.”
     “Well, if you won’t say it, I will—”
     Nein, nein; that’s not very romantic either. Lisbeth Oláfsdóttír, if we survive this, will you marry me?”
     “Won’t I!”
    
__________________________

* Take [took] an arrow to the knee = Viking slang for getting married.

* * *


Forgive the lack of action; didn’t have the brain wattage to figure it out. I’ve been wrestling with some Real World garbage of late that’s sapped my emotional energy for quality writing. I’m open to suggestions, though. 
How do you imagine the scene? What backstory can you think up for this scene? Should I keep these two in the HoD timeline—along with Anton and Isabella, Jason and Ember, Ciaran and Tom/Fiona—give them their own timeline, or put them back on the cut list? I want to know!

Until next time, Gentle Readers,
God bless,
~R~

UPDATE: Because Brynhildr is technically a girl's name, I'm currently debating on the following ones for Ben's full name (so I guess I'll be putting him and Lisbeth back in the timeline after all, LOL):

Bjárni [b'YAR-nee]—Old Norse form of Björn (“bear”).

Brandr [BRAN-dur]—
Old Norse: “Sword” or “fire.” 

Áldebrand [AHL-deh-brand]—Old Germanic for “old” and “sword, fire.” 


Beornræd [bee-ORN-rad/bay-ORN-rad]—Anglo-Saxon for “warrior, man” and “council.”

Votes, anyone?

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Prepare the Sacrifice! (…wait, what?)




Miss Melody tagged me for what at first appeared to be rather an odd questionnaire, especially for book-lovers. It makes more sense as you read through it, though because it gives us a chance to rant about books we aren’t too fond of (or downright hate), and would be happy to sacrifice at need. A bit twisted, but fun.
So here we go….


#1: An Over-Hyped Book
Situation: You are in a bookstore when the zombies attack.  Over the loudspeakers you hear the military announce that over-hyped books are the zombies' only weakness.  What over-hyped book will you chuck at the zombies?

This is hard, because I haven’t actually read any of the books people are raving about these days. Just knowing what the themes of the books are turned me off. But I’m going to join Melody and Dessa and heave every stinkin’ copy of Twilight at the zombies anyhow.
This quote pretty much sums up my feelings for this series. :-P

#2: A Sequel
Situation: You are caught in a torrential downpour and you're probably the type who melts when you get wet.  What sequel are you willing to use as an umbrella to protect yourself.

Well, not exactly *melt* but I do hate getting wet (hello, ugly straight bangs…). As for what book I’d use as an umbrella without shedding a tear…I’d have to say Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery. I tried to read this again several years ago, but just couldn’t get into it. I was miffed at Anne for talking like Rilla’s not wanting to go to college as a bad thing. I was more turned off by Rilla’s all-fired hurry to grow up. She didn’t have the charm and imaginative quality that Anne had throughout most of the series, and of course a lot of the book deals with WWI, and I hate war stories. Oh my gosh, poor Walter….
So yeah. Eat rain, Rilla.

#3: A Classic
Situation: You're in English class and your professor won't stop going on about a classic that "revolutionized literature".  Personally you think the classic is garbage and you decide to express your opinion by hurling the book at his head.  What classic is that?

Stepping Heavenward by Mrs. E. Prentiss.
*Ducks under Everything-proof Shield*
I hate this book. I’ve seen this lauded as an excellent example of Christian womanhood in Christian book magazines and what-not, but I honestly don’t know why. I tried twice to read it—once at sixteen, once as an adult. Couldn’t finish it either time because I was so disgusted. At first, I felt sorry for Catherine, because her mother didn’t understand her, and her father (who did understand her) up and died, then she was railroaded into marrying a man she didn’t like….
When I read it again, I saw things from the mother’s perspective, and found Catherine to be a willful, petulant little…*shrew*. Then I ploughed through the rest of the book, where she has to deal with her unpleasant relatives, her mother dies, she’s worried about her delicate little girl—but it’s her strong, healthy boy who keels over (EXCUSE ME?)—but the last straw was when her brother, who just got engaged to be married and was all set to go to India as a missionary…yeah, he dies, too. Just like that. It’s like the author sat around and thought to herself, “Who can I kill off next?”
A little conflict is fine, but this was just too much, and seemed so arbitrary. AURGH.

#4: A Least Favorite Book
Situation: You're hanging out at a bookstore (where else would you be?) when global warming somehow manages to turn the whole world into a frozen wasteland.  Naturally, your only hope of survival is to burn a book.  Which book would you not regret tossing into the fire?

Wait—global warming causes the world to become a frozen wasteland?? O.o Anyhoo….
While I’ve never actually read the Harry Potter series (which my Bro dubbed “Hairy Potsmoke,” LOL), just looking at anything related to them gives me the creeps. Actually, I did read a bit of ChristianAnswers.net’s review here…only a bit because I was so disgusted with the pagan overtones and undercurrents just in the short snippets they featured (“sacrificial goddess magic”? Someone’s blood has magical powers? Ew…). So, yeah, I’d be happy to toss this witches’ brew in the flames.

#5: A Series
Situation: There's a flooded stream you have to cross on your quest and you can't get your feet wet.  Which series (oh yeah, btw, you brought your whole bookshelf and also probably local library with you) will you use as stepping stones?

Any of the last three books in the When Calls the Heart series by Janette Oke. The first two were pretty good, but the series just got more frustrating as it went along. So many potential plots glossed over. So many opportunities wasted. Such shallow. Very disappoint. Much ugh.

Runner-up would be the Emily Books by L.M. Montgomery. So little love, virtually no character development, and there are some pretty strange ideas featured (reincarnation and Emily’s being “psychic” among them). Bleh.

I tag Kendra.
...and anyone else who wants to participate.


 God bless,
~R~