Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Cover Reveal—My Kingdom for a Quest

Cover Reveal—My Kingdom for a Quest

When Kendra E. Ardnek e-mailed and asked me to be part of the cover reveal for her latest Bookania Quest, I was honored! I’ve enjoyed following Princess Robin and Prince Robert of Locksley and all their friends on their adventures in the intriguing—and sometimes humorous—world of Bookania and look forward to more!

Before I show you the loverly cover-art, here’s a little interview with the author:

1.) How do you feel your characters, writing style, etc. have developed in the years since you first began writing the Bookania Quests?
It's been over four years since I first picked up a pencil an attempt to write Sew, It's a Quest, (Then entitled No Longer a Dream), so it's obvious that things have changed. I've gained confidence in letting my Christianity shine through. My feel for the English Language (especially the Shakespearean part) has grown, and I've learned better how a guy's brain works. Back when writing Sew, I really struggled to capture Robert and Eric, and barely tried with Casperl, but now ... I actually kinda prefer their point of view for writing. It can be much more focused.

2.) If you could change/revise anything about this series, what would it be?
Mostly little things like the usage of Shakespearean English in the first book. It wasn't bad, but it could have been much better. There are also a few conversations that I would tweak to reflect some twists that presented themselves after the book was published.

3.) Does your inspiration come mainly from old fairytales (Grimm, Anderson and the like), or are there other stories (such as the Arabian Nights) that will eventually be woven into the world of Bookainia?
I do mainly go for the more traditional fairy tales by Grimm and Anderson. (Actually, my main source is Lang's Colored Fairy Books), but as I've already worked in Robin Hood and Arthur, it's clear I do some branching out. At the moment, I don't know how any of the Arabian Nights are going to work in yet, but I do have several Greek myths, a few Chinese legends, some tall tales, and even a Shakespearean play or two scheduled.

Back Cover Blurb:
Arthur is the rightful king of Briton, but his Uncle Mordreth refuses to give up the regency.   Arthur and Grandfather are now returning with allies to wrestle the kingdom from his uncle's grasp.  But not all is as it seems among his allies, and everyone has secrets.  New loves, old loves, lost loves, kingdoms conquered and kingdoms stolen.   Who is the real "rightful heir" and will the nearly forgotten sword in the stone finally answer this question?

Author Person:
Kendra E. Ardnek loves fairy tales and twisting them in new and exciting ways.  She's been practicing her skills on her dozen plus cousins and siblings for years, "Finish your story, Kendra", is frequently heard at family gatherings.  Her sole life goal has always been to grow up and be an author of fantasy and children's tales that also glorify God and his Word. You can read more about her on her blog,
Links to Previous books:

And now, the moment you’ve all be waiting for—the cover!

Ta-da!!! How’s that for intriguing cover-art? Makes one wonder what’s up with the sword stuck in a pillar, wot?

This has been fun, and I’m so glad to have been able to help out a fellow author!

Until next time, Gentle Readers,
God bless,


Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Popping back into the Blogosphere to wish each and every one of my Gentle Readers a very Merry Christmas!
And just for fun, I leave you with a little tag/quiz/questionnaire-thing I snagged off Kendra’s blog. *Wicked grin*

1.  What's your favorite part about Christmas?

Decorations and listening to Christmas CDs. Each of our decorations has a special story that brings back happy memories, and Christmas music (when done right—which most of our CDs do on the whole) just makes it cheerier!
2.  Does your family have any special Christmas traditions?  If so, which is your favorite?

Yes, we have several fun little traditions—a few of which we’re reviving this year, now that we’re back within driving distance of my aunt and cousin. I think my favorite has to be “light-riding,” though. That’s where we drive around town ogling the pretty lights and fantastic decorations people have put up. It’s especially fun this year because the main street in Grants Pass is all decked out with lights, musical “Christmas cards” (electronic murals that light up at night) and giant nutcrackers. 

This one's my favorite 'cos his jacket is PURPLE! :-D

There’s a huge Christmas tree in the middle of town, and they even put a Nativity on the roof of the visitors’ center!

Another is singing “Silent Night” with all the lights off save the ones on the tree—er, garland—or the candles during our church’s Christmas Eve service. *Sigh*
3.  Everyone knows that music is best part of Christmas.  What's your favorite Christmas carol?
Aw, just one? Hmmm….It’s pretty evenly tied between “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” “Now Is Born The Divine Christ Child,” “I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day”and “O Come, All Ye Faithful.” C’mon, ya can’t pick just one! ;-)
4.  What's your favorite Christmas song (i.e. non-sacred carol)?
Again, it’s a tie: Either “Holly Jolly Christmas,” “Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire,” “Most Wonderful Time Of The Year,” or “Silver Bells.”
5.  What's your favorite Christmas story or novel?
My grandma gave me Annika’s Secret Wish for Christmas one year, and I fell in love with the beautiful illustrations and the touching story.
6.  What's your favorite Christmas cookie?
Gumdrop! (Recipe coming soon!)
7.  Do you shop at Christmastime?  Where's your favorite place to do Christmas shopping?
Usually the local health food store, to pick up tasty stocking-stuffers for Mom. :-D
8.  What's your favorite Christmas treat?
Besides cookies, you mean? ;-) Hot cocoa with real cream and special flavorings added to it (I like coconut and caramel best).
9.  Do you watch Christmas movies?  What's your favorite one?
That’s another family tradition—our annual “Scrooge-a-thon”! Each year, we watch at least one version of A Christmas Carol each week in December, with other classics like It’s a Wonderful Life and Jonathan Toomey added to the mix. It’d be hard to pick a favorite, though, ’cos they’re all so different.
10.  We all know how much fun setting up the Christmas tree can be.  Of course, there are always those ornaments that you made in first grade that you would rather forget but they go on the tree anyway.  Do you have a favorite ornament?  What's the story behind it?
One that comes to mind is the one we got my computer-geeky dad many, many years ago. It’s a little boy writing a letter to Santa…on his computer!

Until next time, Gentle Readers,
God bless you all, and may He grant you a Happy New Year full of exciting possibilities, accomplished goals…and realized dreams!


Friday, February 28, 2014

Moving On

Moving On
God has done some incredible things in our family, things that will mean big changes, but exciting ones. I’ve alluded to them in my previous post, so now you get to hear The Rest Of The Story™!

But first, I have an announcement to make:

I’m taking an extended vacation from blogging…and I don’t know if I’ll be back.

It was a hard decision, but after ten years of trying, I’ve finally had to admit that I just don’t have the knack for it like some people do…even though I don’t have nearly the family duties and other responsibilities they have. There have even been times where I was so stressed out about it, it affected my health—not a good thing! O.O
As I’ve said before, writing (and proofreading, and editing) blog posts, taking (and uploading, and editing) photos, getting them to line up right on the page—it was more stress than fun. Plus—in the case of my sewing projects and fashion ideas—I never seemed to have the pictures ready when I needed them, or the time to take them in the first place.
To be honest, blogging and surfing the ’Net have taken over the time I could be using to develop my God-given talents and the creative hobbies He’s put in my life. So with His help, I intend to discipline myself as regards my computer time, get serious about my abilities and actually do something with my life. I’ve given myself permission to enjoy His gifts for what they are—telling myself they’re no less “real” if I don’t blog about them—and not worry if no one ever sees them. :-P If anyone wants to know what I’m up to, they can feel free to shoot me an e-mail at tomwildrose[at]gmail[dot]com. I’ll happily answer e-mails. :-)
I really feel like I need to simplify, organize and de-stress my life right now, and that this is the way to do it—or at least begin to.

But I didn’t want to drop off the face of the Blogosphere without saying goodbye and letting y’all know what’s going on at my end.

Which brings me to a happier bit of news:

When we drove back up from our California trip last Summer (jokingly dubbed our “Quest for the Sun”), we passed through a portion of Southern Oregon full of rolling meadows, live-oak trees and a generally rural feeling. It reminded me of the outskirts of Auburn and Roseville, California, where I recalled they don’t get snow. It seemed logical to assume that this place didn’t, either, and I found myself wishing we could move there. And that impression stayed with me all Summer and Fall.
I should mention here that when we left for our vacation, it was overcast and cold—we were still in long sleeves and extra layers—in June! There have been times when we sat watching the 4th of July fireworks in coats and hats, bundled up in blankets—craziness! The snow and ice also make it difficult—if not downright impossible—to get around in the Winter. Both Mom and I have suffered bad falls on the ice, and it’s left its mark on us. I think if we’d realized just how fierce the Winters are up here, and how long it takes for the place to thaw out, and really how short the good weather is, we might not have moved here at all.  
That said, our time in Idaho has been a Very Good Thing, on the whole. It was good to get away from the high cost of living (read: existence) in California, away from the unhealthy, mold-infested, falling-down-around-our-ears old house we had down there, away from some rather toxic family relationships (which, Im happy to report, have healed over the years since then). It was good to start fresh, and by God’s grace own our own home and be debt-free for the first time in I don’t know how many years. I thank Him so much for the people at Rathdrum Bible Church, who have shown us that true Christian love does exist in this day-and-age and revived our faith in our fellow believers. We have also received some excellent teaching and deep doctrine there—doctrine that has begun to allay some of my own spiritual insecurities. Overall, our time in North Idaho has been one of blessing, a time for us to heal from the horrors we endured in California, and of course the adjustment time after Dad died.
Still, the thought of living somewhere where the Winters were milder, and the Summers were longer, really appealed to me after that drive through

Fast-forward to the Sunday before Christmas. Peter had picked up a real estate magazine the day before—he likes to look at the architecture—and before we knew it, we all started talking about moving, and we discovered we’d all been feeling the same about North Idaho and that it was time to move closer to our elderly relatives. Peter also said he felt strongly that Mom should be in a home that she and I can take care of ourselves without it being a burden, in a climate that will allow us to get around and go places without fear of being caught in the snow or slipping on the ice. He wanted to be sure Mom would be well provided for and safe so that, when his schooling calls for him having to board out of town during the week, and (looking further down the road) he either gets a job out of town or out of state, or even has a home and family of his own…well, he wanted to know she’d be able to manage without him eventually. Or words to that effect. Wow. Can I just say how proud I am of my brother? :-D
 It was all very exciting and encouraging to find out I wasn’t the only one wanting to move, and that we were all of one mind about it. Totally a God-thing!
Then we stayed up till after eleven talking some more. One other thing that stands out in my mind is a comment Peter made that, we need to stop just existing; it’s time to start thriving.” Amen!

Over the next several weeks, the more we talked about moving, the more we researched the Grants Pass area, and of course prayed over the whole situation, the stronger we felt that this was where God was leading us. And it was so neat to see how our news blessed our various family members. Grandma and Grandpa were so excited at the though of our being only five or six hours away, instead of fifteen to eighteen, and the possibility of our visiting them in the Summer or even for Christmas, perhaps. Aunt Betty and Cousin Brenda were already thinking of fun things we could meet up to do together…and then God put it on their hearts to move up with us! We all grew up together and have missed seeing each other since our move to Idaho, so we’re really looking forward to spending holidays and birthdays with family again.
It’s been an amazing journey; one in which God is drawing us closer to our family, working in all our lives and teaching us valuable lessons along the way. It’s been incredible to watch His plans unfold (though sometimes frustrating in the in-between times). God is slowly helping each of us to trust His wisdom, to give our fears, our frustrations, and our hopes and dreams for the future, to Him and leave them in His hands.
And our journey isn’t over yet!

So now I leave you with this verse from Jeremiah, which is so appropriate for what God is doing in our family:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future….” Jeremiah 29: 11 (NIV)

Well, now the Peanut Gallery and the Characters featured on this blog want to say goodbye, too (and no, Gremlin, you absolutely MAY NOT have the keyboard! I don’t want you spoiling this nice little farewell party):

The Pixie
Bye-bye! *Waves* Blessings upon you! *Dances*

Bramblerose Cottonwool
Goodbye, everyone!
Tempest Thunderhoof
Elyon be with you, O friends and acquaintances of our Author.
Donald James Ciaran McSpadden
(Ciaran or Jamie to his friends)
Slán, folks! May God hold ye in the palm of His hand, as the old sayin’ goes.
(An’ just for the record, Tom-lass verra graciously got that hideous dragon tattoo off me back an’ gave me a decent past. Ye’ve no idea what a reflief that is—och, but here I am, jabberin’ on where there’s others wantin’ to say goodbye. Forgive me.)

(Forgiven. I just wish I could have made a better picture of you, me lad.)

[Huckle] >Waves< So long, friends of our Author! I hope I didn’t scare any of you! >BigGiantAir-hugs<

Ciára Littlefoot

Goodbye! And—may Elyon bless you all.

[Pádma] Oh, very well, I shall say goodbye also. Goodbye! (Are you satisfied?)

MINIATURE DOLL Shoulder Head Doll Bisque Handpainted Features Blue Eyes Brown Hair Mature Man From MOJEART
Gilbert Sherwyn (imagine a "Robin Hood"
costume on this poor fellow....)
 Farewell. It was good to meet you, if only briefly.

[Max] Um—is it my turn now? OK, ’bye, all!
Elsa Lightfoot
*Elven salute* Elyon be with you. Perhaps we shall meet again when our Author writes our histories!

[Cledwyn] May the Creator protect you wherever you fare, and may your fire never die out.
Thomasina Rose Blondel
Wild Rose LeBlonde
("Tom" to her friends)
Farewell wherever you fare, Gentle Readers, and God bless,
R.R. Goodwill,
The "Author" of all these
crazy Characters...and more!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Literary Herione Blog Party!

OhyesOhyes! It’s the annual LHBP over at Accordion to Kellie! Whahoo! I look forward to this every year—it just makes February a wee bit brighter. :-D Be sure to visit Kellie’s blog, read other ladies’ answers to Kellie’s questions, and enter the giveaways for some truly unique prizes.

~ The Questions ~
1.      Introduce yourself!  Divulge your life’s vision, likes, dislikes, aspirations, or something completely random! Hello, my name is Rebekah G., and I’m a chocoholic. :-P Seriously, though, my life’s vision is to get my inspiration back, so’s I can write the stories of all the fascinating Characters God has put in my head, and to use the wonderful miniatures He’s given me over the years to illustrate my books. It’ll be a long-term goal, to be sure, but I feel like this is what God wants me to do with my life, and with His help, I’ll do it.
2.      What, to you, forms the essence of a true heroine? Firstly, someone who has given her life to God. That’s the most important thing. A true heroine should be courageous, confident and stable in mind and able to stand up for her convictions—even when everyone around her has compromised and is urging her to do so. A woman who is kind and compassionate, yet unafraid to speak out firmly, but in love and by God’s aid, against injustice and wrongdoing. A woman who is unafraid to do what she believes to be right. One who is unwilling to compromise her beliefs, even though it would mean being separated from the one she loves. A true heroine should be sensitive to the feelings and needs of others and be able to meet those needs to the best of her God-given abilities...and to keep from freaking out or pouting when she can’t do a blessed thing. :-P She should be mature mentally, spiritually and emotionally, able to handle whatever life throws at her—to roll with the punches instead of right smack into them—and trust God wholly for the strength she needs to overcome any difficulty. She should be unselfish, willing to share what she has with those she loves or who are in need, but also know when to put down good boundaries and take time to do things for herself.
3.      Share (up to) four heroines of literature that you most admire and relate to. 
#1—Molly Gibson. I recently finished reading Wives and Daughters (Christmas present from Mom!), and I just love Molly! She’s something of a “strong heroine,” yet she never compromises her femininity (well, with the exception of reading books in the cherry tree if you want to get technical :-P). She is so loving and unselfish, yet not in a sickly-sweet Elsie Dinsmore kind of way. She stands up for what she believes is right and never wavers when she knows she is in the right, despite what other people think of her. When Roger (stupidly) proposes to Cynthia, Molly is miserable because she knows Cynthia doesn’t love him as much as Roger deserves to be loved. She wants so desperately for the people she loves to be happy, and her greatest fear is of causing pain. I really can’t say enough good things about Molly—she’s become one of my favorite literary heroines ever!
And it’s been so long since I’ve read any other books (bad Tom!), I’m just going to nominate Anne Shirley, Jo March and Elizabeth Bennett by default.
4.      Five of your favorite historical novels?
#1—Pride and Prejudice. Jane Austen at her very best!
#2—Wives and Daughters. Ranked #2 because poor Elizabeth Gaskell died before she could finish it! (The BBC did a pretty good job, though.)
#3— Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. It has its issues, but on the whole, faith, forgiveness and adherence to convictions shine through this somewhat Gothic novel, and near the end is the closest thing to a Gospel message as I’ve run across in secular fiction.
#4—The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood of Great Renown in Nottinghamshire by Howard Pyle. Don’t know if this counts as “historical,” per se, but I’ve always liked Robin Hood legends and tales of Merry Olde
England. :-D
#5—Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I love Marmee’s nuggets of motherly wisdom to her girls as they grow up.
5.      Out of those five books who is your favorite major character and why? Well, since I already featured Molly, I’ll pick Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice. She has her faults, but once she realizes where she’s been wrong, she accepts it and moves on. She’s spunky, witty, smart and lively, yet still definitely feminine without being weak or sappy. The relationship between her and Jane is so sweet, especially since it is untainted by jealousy.
6.      Out of those five books who is your favorite secondary character and why? Mr. Darcy, also from P&P. While at first he comes off as stand-offish, cold and even downright rude, we discover along with Elizabeth that a kind, generous heart beats under that sullen veneer, along with the determination to set right the wrongs he feels responsible for.
7.      If you were to plan out your dream vacation, where would you travel to - and what would you plan to do there? I’d travel to England to see the Yorkshire countryside and perhaps find out a bit more about my Dad’s side of the family. I’d explore the little villages and towns and see how Englanders live apart from the bustle and noise of the cities. I might do some “bashing around London” and do the touristy things like visiting the Victoria and Albert museum and the Tower of London (picking up some jolly good souvenirs if they’re not too pricy)…but on the whole, I’d rather see the quieter, more old-timey and down-to-earth parts of Egland. Then I’d pop on over to Scotland and Ireland to see the old castles, explore some more quaint little villages, pick up some more souvenirs…and maybe even find out once and for all if the McSpaddens really have a clan tartan or no. :-P (And if they do, I might just have to pick up a bit o’ cloth to make meself a kilt with…providing it’s reasonably priced.)
8.      What is your favorite time period and culture to read about?  Regency England, mainly because women’s fashions were so much less restrictive (or ridiculous!) as in previous and later eras, but also because life hadn’t yet become as mechanized and fast-paced. People had more time to visit one another, to sit down and sew, do needlework and/or write letters, attend balls and dinner parties, and generally spend time together. I also like a bit of American Frontier now and then. Life was still fairly simple, things were new and exciting, and there was an undisputed allure of “going West.” We’ll ignore the downsides of not being overtaken by “progress” (such as no indoor plumbing!!!) for the sake of nicety. :-P
I’ve also been interested in Japanese and Indian cultures since girlhood…though truth be told, I never applied much time to actually studying them…mainly their national costumes. *Whistle*
9.      You have been invited to perform at the local charity concert. Singing, comedy, recitation - what is your act comprised of? A medley of instrumental arrangements—a mix of old hymns, folk songs, English ballads and Irish jigs and reels—performed by myself, my mother and brother, on cellos, recorders, violin, viola and Irish whistle.
10. If you were to attend a party where each guest was to portray a heroine of literature, who would you select to represent? This is always a tough one for me, since most of my favorite heroines are brunettes! What’s up with that? Anyhoo….Methinks I’d go as Éowyn, especially since I can wear white now! :-D
11. What are your sentiments on the subject of chocolate? Mmmmmmm….Dark, Milk, White—it’s all good in my book. Really, the only chocolate I (gasp!) don’t like is bittersweet—chocolate with more than 72% cocoa content. Ech!
Chocolate, when made with natural sweeteners and NOT processed with alkali (what hair-brained genius thought putting battery acid in food was a good idea?!), eaten in moderation and savored for the velvety delight it is…well, it can be a little slice of Heaven, if I may be so bold.
Chocolate can be therapeutic—the ultimate comfort food when you’re feeling blue and make-the-world-go-away-ish.
And they say dark chocolate is good for your thyroid! :-D
12. Favorite author(s)? L.M. Montgomery, A.A. Milne, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, L. Frank Baum, Lloyd Alexander, Jane Austen. Mind you, I haven’t read ALL of these authors’ books, and there are a few I have read that I didn’t like (or even finish), but on the whole, their styles are enjoyable, their stories interesting and entertaining.
13. Besides essentials, what would you take on a visiting voyage to a foreign land? (Note: I consider my Bible, camera and extra batteries/memory cards as essentials)
~Booffy Bear! (My faithful mascot on any Adventure)
~Lots of money for meals, hotels and souvenirs
~A needlework project for the plane trip (if I don’t have too bad a headache, that is)
~My memo voice recorder, in case Inspiration strikes, and as an easier way of documenting the day’s adventures than trying to write it all out right then.
14. In which century were most of the books you read written? Probably mostly the 19th, with a smattering of earlier centuries and 20th- and 21st century works thrown in for good measure.
15. In your opinion, the ultimate hero in literature is… While I loved Roger Hamely from Wives and Daughters (baring that fit of stupidity as regards Cynthia), I still think Frodo and Sam top him in the “ultimate” category.
Describe your ideal dwelling place. (WARNING! Long answer!)
A white two-story Victorian farmhouse with dark green roof and trim, a covered porch all the way around it (with a porch swing, of course!), with a deck built onto the veranda in back that leads to a patio and swimming pool area. The house would have big bay windows for hanging ferns and/or prisms in, or with window-seats, and a balcony or two. The attached garage would be architecturally similar to the house and have direct access to the kitchen so’s we wouldn’t have to haul groceries through the rain and mud in bad weather. The kitchen would be spacious and efficient, with counters all round (except where there were doors and appliances, of course), and an island in the middle with a butcher-block top, an extra set of burners and a small sink. There would be a rack hanging above the island for pots and pans, lots of storage for lids, cookie sheets, casserole dishes and what-not under all the countertops, and of course an efficient stove/oven, dishwasher, sink and refrigerator. It would also have a hutch for the everyday dishes and silverware, and a walk-in pantry. The back door would have a weather tight cat-flap in it so’s my seven precious kitties (I decided forty-leven was a bit much) and the Cocker Spaniel could come and go as they pleased. The Irish wolfhound would just have to bark at the door to be let in or out.
All the rooms would be elegant yet not extravagant, warm and inviting (or cool, depending on the season and thanks to an efficient heat pump and wood stove), and have enough space between the furniture and what-not to keep the place from feeling claustrophobic, but not so much that it feels practically bare. There would be lots of cupboards, closets, shelves and other means of storage all throughout the house—a place for everything, and everything in its place—including a coat-closet in the entry and a linen closet in the hallway on the main floor. There would be a spacious living room with plenty of seating for guests, a modest-yet-comfortable formal dining room with a built-in china hutch to display the “family heirloom” dishes, a good-sized laundry room with (surprise, surprise) cupboards/storage for cleaning supplies, mops and brooms, the vacuum cleaner, etc., and a table for folding clothes as they come out of the dryer. A separate room would house the movies, games, books and entertainment what-nots in general, so as not to detract from visiting-space in the living room. Another, very large, room would be set up on the main floor as a music room/dance studio, which would double as a ballroom for hosting Jane Austen balls and masquerades and stuff of that ilk. It would have double French doors on one wall that open onto the spacious deck (or terrace, to coin a more elegant term). All the bedrooms would good-sized, with built-in or walk-in closets and plenty of room to get around the furniture without walking like a penguin. :-P
There would be a bonus room above the garage where I’d work on my jewelry and miniatures and display my room-boxes, dollhouses and “mini movie sets” made for my Book Illustrations project. The house would have a generous attic for storing Christmas decorations in the off-season and whatever else we didn’t need all the time, and a finished root cellar (the walls painted liberally with KILZ to prevent mold and mildew) for storing all our canned goods from the garden…and home-brewed root beer and ginger ale! :-D
The area around the house proper would be nicely landscaped in front with a grassy lawn, and a few flowerbeds with shrubs and ornamental trees mixed in with the flowers. In back, I’d have an English garden for flowers and a kitchen garden near the patio/pool area mentioned above, and it would all be inside a solid board fence about eight feet tall, with one of those “Houdini” fence-toppers that keep cats from climbing over the fence (‘cos I’d love my kitties too much to let the coyotes eat them). There would be seven ancient weeping willow trees around the house, and one of them would have a swing-seat in its branches.
This blissful dwelling would be set in the middle of a ten- or twenty-acre meadow bordered by deep woods, dotted with rolling hillocks, more trees and wildflowers, and a creek running through it into a duck pond with a pier with a rowboat moored to it (no noisy motors for me, thank you), with another one on the island in the middle of the pond. This would be large enough to hold a little Summer teahouse or gazebo, with a flagstone path leading to it. There would also be lots of reeds and cattails and what-not for the wild ducks and geese to nest in, safe from predators. There would be a big treehouse somewhere in the woods, either built around the bole (trunk) of the largest tree, or between four or five that are close together, in a ring of sorts, with cargo nets connecting the treehouse to other trees that are good for climbing.
 The creek would wind around the property, bordered on both sides by trees of the willow and poplar families, with a deep swimming-hole near the house. The driveway would cross over the creek at one point, and at this spot, there would be a pretty stone bridge with lanterns at the corners. The driveway would then form a circle in front of the house, with a round flowerbed in the center sporting a graceful fountain, and wind its way back behind the house to the garage and extra parking area.
16. Sum up your fashion style in a short sentence. I’m actually still trying to “find myself,” as it were—see if there’s any way to balance what I like to look at and what I’m actually comfortable wearing.
17. Have you ever wanted to change a character’s name? I’m still mad at Jane Austen for calling that air-headed floozy in Northanger Abbey “Isabella.” WhyWhyWHY couldn’t she have given that character a name like Maude or Agnes?!
18. In your opinion, the most dastardly villain of all literature is... Click here and scroll down.
19. Three favorite Non-fiction books?
#1—Making and Dressing Dolls’ House Dolls in 1/12th Scale by Sue Atkinson. Pretty much everything you need to know to make miniature dolls and dress them in costumes from the 18th century to the present day.
#2—The Miniature Costumiere by Catriona Hall. Tips and techniques for making changeable clothing for miniature dolls.
#3—How to Make Your Dolls’ House Special by Beryl Armstrong. Ingenious tips for realistic-looking dollhouse details!
(What do you mean, I have miniatures on the brain??)
20. Your duties met for the day, how would you choose to spend a carefree summer afternoon? Ideally, curled up on the swing-seat in the shade of the porch-roof or a spreading tree (whichever it ends up being); either reading a new book (or re-reading an old favorite), embroidering pretty flowers on a new tunic or vest; or else sitting indoors with the windows open, doing something creative.
21. Create a verbal sketch of your dream hat - in such a way as will best portray your true character. As always, I have one design for Summer and one for Winter.
Summer: A wide-brimmed straw hat covered in white “muslin” (thin, finely-woven fabric), with colorful “silk” flowers round the crown, and a modest ribbon-pouf and an elegant ostrich feather on one side. To be worn for Very Special Occasions.
Winter: A knitted “Pixie Bonnet” made from multicolored yarns in a tweedy texture (two standard-sized yarns twisted together and knitted as one), lined with cozy flannel or fleece against the cold wind, with blanket-stitching worked in black yarn round the edges (too keep the lining from rolling outwards), black I-cord ties with small tassels, and a white tassel at the top point.
Another design that appeals is either a floppy beret, with a tassel in the center and embroidery on the band, brim and top.
22.  Share the most significant event(s) that have marked your life in the past year. There have been two, actually—one that just affected myself, and one that affected the whole family.
The “minor” event (which I’ve hinted at before now) was the discovery that my complexion has been changing gradually over the past few years, and that the pretty pastel colors I’ve been wearing most of my life (especially after I discovered color analysis when I was sixteen), the colors that brought my fair skin to life and harmonized with the coloring God gave me…now made me look pale, tired, washed out and even like I was getting a bad sinus infection! Yes, Gentle Readers, I shed a few bitter tears about that—I’ve never been able to handle change well, and something like this…well, I felt like I’d lost a big chunk of my identity. On the upside, though, we found that deep, vibrant jeweltones—and even black and white!—are what bring me to life now, so I’ve tried to see it all as a new adventure…and an excuse to update my wardrobe. :-P And for the record, by God’s grace I’ve been reclaiming some of my beloved pastels, too. The fact that white is good on me now opens up all sorts of exciting possibilities in the form of collars and yokes, as well as pastel-colored vests worn with a white blouse. :-D Happy, happy, happy.
The other significant event in my family’s life is our upcoming move—to
Oregon!—this Summer (Lord willing). But I’ll explain that one in my next post….
23. Share the Bible passage(s) that have been most inspiring to you recently. I can’t recall anything exactly jumping off the page this past year, but God has reminded me of some old favorites that have comforted me in the past. The one that comes to mind now is Jeremiah 29: 11:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the L
ORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future….” (NIV)

And as I was copying that out, I realized just how appropriate that verse is, in light of what God is doing in our family! Awesome!

This has been fun to write—as always—and I hope it was fun for you-all to read, despite its epic length. :-P

Until next time, Gentle Readers,
God bless,

Friday, January 31, 2014

Character Encounters—Living Room ~Elsa Lightfoot~

My attempt at capturing Elsa's likeness.
Methinks it'd be easier with a 6" doll....

For this month’s Character Encounter, we’re supposed to meet a Character in our living room “that you think about a lot, have much of his or her story plotted out, but have never actually sat down and written anything with them.”
Unfortunately, most of the Characters I think about a lot and have their stories pretty well thought out are ones that have something jotted down already…and they’ve already made appearances on CE (save Ciára, Tempest and Gilbert; they were featured in an interview a while back, but it still counts as “screen time”). I don’t really feel I should do repeats until I’ve introduced several more Characters (especially since I already broke that rule with Ciaran *innocent whistle*). So for this month’s CE, I’ve chosen one who up to this point has been an idea in my head, but never actually had anything written about her. Introducing Elsa Lightfoot, an Elven maiden with some very special gifts (and no, I did not take her name from the character in Frozen; my Elsa was christened a couple years ago, before I even heard about the movie…plus I like the name).

* * *

I had just draped myself languidly on the reclining chair in our living room, to see about making some progress on the afghan I’d been crocheting for Mom…for over a year. I still felt a bit proud of myself for actually having reached the sewing-together stage at last, considering I hardly ever finish any needlework project. It didn’t help that the octagonal patches—after I’d gone to all the trouble of blocking them prior to assembly—had reverted to their former curly state when I sewed them to the little diamond-shaped “fillers” that go in between the octagons. But then, that’s what one gets for making the “fillers” too small to begin with. Twice. But now I had them about the right size, so theoretically, all the parts of the afghan should lie down more smoothly.
     As I threaded the dark-green yarn through the tapestry needle, staring unseeingly at the blank TV screen opposite my chair, I began thinking of my Characters. Really, they deserved better treatment than to be locked in my head all the time, hidden from potential readers. They deserved to be brought to life to the best of my God-given ability…if only I could figure out how to break through that…whatever-it-was…that blocked my imagination whenever I tried to convert my stories into cold, hard text.
     Perhaps is I interviewed them I thought, it’d get my creative juices flowing. Maybe if I got them talking to me, and I wrote down their words, maybe the actions—and the environments those actions took place—would come to me as a result.
     BANG! came a noise from the kitchen to my right, as our seventeen-pound Maine Coon-Ragdoll mix bolted through the cat-door like a jet-propelled bat.
     I looked up from my work to see him trotting through the dining area of the kitchen, fairly galloping through the maze of table- and chair-legs.
     “Hey, puss!” I called, making squeaky noises at him. “Mister Licorice.”
     “Mister Licorice” ignored me, skittering to a stop in front of the tiny hallway leading to my own room. I watched, intrigued, as he suddenly flopped over on his side, exposing his fuzzy white-striped belly, his forepaws tucked up atop his chest, his head laid back against the floor. His usual position for greeting us when we return home from church or town, or come back in the house from the work-building. To my knowledge, I was the only one in the house just now, yet he seemed to think there was someone in the hallway—someone he was very glad to see. In another two seconds, I found out whom.
     A tall, slender lady with hair like sunshine, which fell to her ankles in thick ripples, stepped into the dining area, the silver and crystal-clear beads on her pale-blue floor-length gown sparkling in the fluorescent lights from the living room lamp. Her feet and arms were bare, her hands slender and graceful. Her perfectly oval face boasted a complexion like peaches and cream, without flaw or blemish—making myself painfully aware of the ugly little moles on my own face and neck—enhanced by rosy cheeks and smiling ruby lips. Her eyes, framed with dark brown lashes and delicately arched eyebrows, sparkled like two sapphires as she smiled down at the purring black-and-white fluffball begging her to rub his belly. She lowered herself down—I hate to use such a coarse term as “squatted” for such an ethereal being as the lady before me—and gently stroked the thick, wooly fur, producing deep, rumbling purrs from its affectionate owner. She murmured softly, speaking words I couldn’t understand, seemingly talking to the cat, pausing every now and then as if listening to his reply.
     This had to be Elsa Lightfoot, my Elven maiden raised by Halflings (or rather, Bryndikins, as they call themselves in the Young World)—no other of my Characters possess such beauty (save perhaps Lady Müriel, but her hair is white with a tinge of pale-blue), and it would explain the Beast-speaking abilities this lady demonstrated. All thoughts of afghan construction were forgotten in my fascinated observation of Elsa’s graceful movements, studying her face and form, the way her hair shone in the light.
     At that moment Elsa raised her head slightly and turned her face towards me, still smiling her rosy smile. She whispered a few words to the cat and rose to her feet, her posture erect, yet not imposing. Then she raised her left hand, palm outwards, with the middle finger leaning forward slightly and the thumb at an acute angle from the hand. “Greetings, Author,” she beamed, her voice soothing and musical.
     “Hello, Elsa,” I returned, wondering if there was any proper way to return an Elvish greeting…and how an Elven maiden raised by the Little Folk would even know the proper way for Elven ladies to greet one another.
     “That is a mystery even to myself,” Elsa confessed.
     I blinked. “How could you be reading my thoughts, when they weren’t even in concrete words?” I gasped.
     Elsa’s sunny smile deepened, making her look even more beautiful (if that were possible). “Why, the same way I can speak to dumb beasts, Author; I can sense the impression of the thought, and—as my foster family would say—read between the lines to get at its meaning.”
     “Would you care to sit down?” I asked, suddenly remembering my manners.
     “I thank you, yes,” she replied cheerily. She crossed the few yards of laminate flooring and carpet—her feet not even bending the carpet fibers as she trod on them—her silken gown swaying elegantly about her feet as she moved. Elsa daintily adjusted the pillows on the upholstered dining room chair that served as extra seating in our tiny living room, seating herself with grace and ease…and without a sound but the rustle of her dress. For anyone else, the chair would have let out an irritating squawk. Meanwhile, Licorice had hopped up from his “rub-my-tummy!” position and followed Elsa into the living room, where he immediately flopped over on his side…right on top of Elsa’s silk-covered foot.
     “Ca-at!” I groaned. “You’ll get your hairs all over her pretty dress!”
     “Never mind, Author,” Elsa soothed, rubbing Licorice’s belly. “Cat-hairs are easily brushed off. In any case, he is so intent on welcoming me that he is not as aware of himself as he might be. Pray do not scold him for giving love.”
     I buttoned up my mouth, a little put out at being lectured—albeit ever-so-gently—by my own Character. However, seeing how happy Licorice appeared in her presence, I left off pouting and allowed myself to join Elsa in laughing at the cat’s amazing displays of contortion. I had just begun to ponder how to ease into an interview with Elsa—since she was here, and a Character I really knew very little about as yet—when she spoke again:
     “They would not help you, Author.”
     “Wh-what?” I stuttered, blinking stupidly.
     “The interviews you were thinking of conducting,” Elsa explained. She ceased petting the cat—much to his chagrin—and directed her full attention to me now. “They might indeed help you know us your creations better,” she continued, “but they would become stories unto themselves, I deem, and distract you from writing our histories, rather than inspiring you.”
     “Then what am I supposed to do?” I wailed. “Whenever I go to continue an existing story, my inspiration dries up and gets ADD, and my motivation goes out the window. I can’t just force myself to be creative—can I?”
     Elsa closed her eyes and tilted her head slightly upward, as though praying, for a moment. Presently she opened her eyes and spoke again:
     “Creativity in general cannot be successfully forced, true,” she mused, “but the answer that comes to mind—which I believe Elyon has sent me to relate to you—is that you may need to force yourself at first, writing whether you feel like writing or no, until it becomes a pattern, a rhythm. And when there is rhythm,” she concluded, “it will also be a joy again.”
     “That would be nice,” I sighed, lifting one corner of my mouth. “I miss those days when words seemed to flow through my head and out my fingers—when I didn’t even have to think of what to say, hardly, and the scenes almost wrote themselves—it was wonderful.”
     “It can be so again, Author,” she declared, reaching over and laying her fair hand gently on my arm. “Pray for the right words; Elyon will guide you. He has given you this gift—will He leave you to develop it alone, or allow you to forsake it?”
     I smiled sheepishly, recalling a couple other talents I had “forsaken.” “No; that’s one thing He’s never let me drop completely, even in the worst part of this ten-year slump—going on eleven now,” I muttered under my breath. “All through the years, I’ve always had this need to write something—even stupid, silly, often whiny-awful blog-posts—I was always writing something.”
     “Elyon has great plans for you, Author,” Elsa replied. “It may be that this one talent—and all others connected with it—is part of that purpose for your life. He began the work in your childhood; He will be faithful to complete it in His perfect time.”
     “I just need to obey His—calling, I guess.”
     Elsa rose suddenly and stepped closer to my chair. She leaned down and wrapped her slender arms about my shoulders. “Go forth and write!” she whispered as I returned her embrace. Then she straightened and saluted me Elvish-fashion again. “Elyon be with you, Author.”
     I also stood, mirroring her salute. “And also with you, Elsa Lightfoot. Someday,” I smirked, “I’ll get your story fleshed out.”
     “My history can wait,” she smiled. “There are others whose tales take precedence, and therefore need to be finished—and read—foremost.” With that, she bestowed one more belly-rub to Mister Licorice, one more sunny smile me-ward, and walked gracefully back toward the hallway, disappearing around the corner. She left in her wake one rather disappointed puss-cat…and one very thoughtful author.