Tuesday, June 30, 2015

In which I hope for an overwhelming response in the comments section...

Hello everyone!

I'm working on a "June Happenings" post to go up here sometime soon (and also thinking on this week's fun Ring Around the Rose questions—also posting soon), but meanwhile I've started a new monthly blog series over on Sharing the Journey and I wanted to be sure and tell all you dear story lovers over here, too so you can join in! :)

But no spoilers! For more details see my official post here on Sharing the Journey. I'm looking forward to hearing what you all think!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Ring Around the Rose Week 4 ~ Style Mentors

Question: What famous author(s) do you feel your writing is most similar to, and why? AND/OR What author do you wish you wrote the most like?

My personal motto on style is perfectly encapsulated in this following quote from the last superb chapter in Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style:

“Write in a way that comes easily and naturally to you, using words and phrases that come readily to hand. But do not assume that because you have acted naturally your product is without flaw.

“The use of language begins with imitation. The infant imitates the sounds made by its parents; the child imitates first the spoken language, then the stuff of books. The imitative life continues long after the writer is on his own in the language, for it is almost impossible to avoid imitating what one admires. Never imitate consciously, but do not worry about being an imitator; take pains instead to admire what is good. Then when you write in a way that comes naturally, you will echo the halloos that bear repeating.” (emphasis mine)

(Incidentally, another good read on imitation and style is Austin Kleon’s excellent little book Steal Like An Artist, which I’ve reviewed a couple times. Most recently on my author blog here.)

All that to say, I don’t think my style is exactly like any one author, but obviously, when I look at my stories I do see bits and pieces and all sorts of wonderful, varied colorations. I deeply love and admire Jane Austen with her simplicity and her clarity—and Tolkien with his versatility and descriptive, poetic power—and Dostoevsky and Josef Conrad with their swirling depths and starkly gripping emotion—and also the lyrical beauty of B.J. Chute’s Greenwillow and the evocative power of Gaskell’s North and South. 

Most of all, though, I see very early influences (which I didn’t even realize until recently when I was going back and rereading some of my favorites)! Three writers shine out particularly: Caroline Dale Snedeker (almost all of her books), Margaret Leighton (in her Journey for a Princess), and Beverly Butler (Song of the Voyageur). I read those gorgeous books over and over and over. Small wonder they captured my imagination!

And for a recent author: when I first read it I was actually floored to notice a kindred spirit and style in K.M. Weiland’s Behold the Dawn, with it’s particular blend and balance of internal and external conflict. A startling discovery, it was also an amazing encouragement. At least in that one story of hers there are some similarities and it’s a great encouragement that what I’m writing isn’t antiquated, that one day—somewhere—someone will enjoy reading it. :) And that’s a truly joyful prospect!

Tell me! Do you have a favorite author who has shaped your love of story?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Giveaway Winner and A Thank You!

First, thank you to every single one of you for visiting and for all your delightful comments over the past week—it was such a pleasure! 

Most particularly, a heaping thank you to all my dear, lovely followers for all your ongoing enthusiasm and encouragement as you take time out of your day to regularly visit. It wouldn't be the same around here without each and every one of you. :) Thank you so much!!

~     ~     ~

Our happy winner of the entire Crown and Covenant series by Douglas Bond is: Ekaterina!
(Congratulations, Ekaterina! And I'll be contacting you directly about shipping, etc.)

I hope you're all having a beautiful Wednesday!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Ring Around the Rose Week 3 ~ Dragon Conversation

This week is round three of the Ring Around the Rose link-up!

The question is: How would you go about talking a dragon out of eating you, especially if no weapons were available?

Generally I like my dragons metaphorical, but to begin with since (unlike poor Eustace) I have read the right sorts of books I would know it was a dragon. And since (presumably, and also differing from Eustace’s initial experience) this dragon is alive and well, I would back up about fifty paces and take a stand—trying to look as small and unappetizing as possible while also maintaining a paradoxically brave and courageous stance. 

Then keeping one eye on the dragon and pulling out my always-upon-my-person, yellow copy of Dealing with Dragons for Dummies, I’d flip to the chapter on out-talking one of the fearsome beasts.

Of course, they immediately cite the common example of Bilbo bandying words with Smaug. Tentatively, I try the first couple lines. No. My particular dragon is quite well-read and literate (most are, in fact) and knows every line of that enchanting and ultimately fairly disastrous conversation.

I start panicking a little and flip to the next chapter. Here Farmer Giles of Ham appears. This is the chapter for Inept With Weapons Yet Still Well Armed People, and begins with an excellent point on the advisability of having an ancient and semi-magical sword in your possession (hanging over the fireplace). I definitely don’t have a sword of any description. 

The dragon’s starting to steam and, desperately, I flip all the way to the last chapter—this one on Genuine Tales of Damsels, Dragons, and Champions. This chapter includes my own story of Sir Andrew (what an honor! ;)) proving his love, fighting his way up the rocky mountain in search of the perfect rose and meeting—on that one fearsome ledge—the fiery monster roaring down on him out of the air. (Very stirring.)

I flip a few more pages. After Sir Andrew, the authors go on to elaborate on the well-known, magnificent tale of St. George—including Spenser’s variation with full excerpts of Redcross’s mighty, exhausting, three day long battle. 

At this point (one of my favorite moments in all literature), my tears start spilling over and the dragon—swishing his tail—gets interested in spite of himself. Laying the book carefully in front of him, I inch away and—as he starts sizzling the first page—I catch up my skirts and take to my heels. 

If the good stories are to be believed, champions are never as far away as might be expected.

Tell me! How would you go about dealing with a dragon?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award!

Lois of You, Me, and a Cup of Tea tagged me a couple weeks ago with the Sisterhood Blogger Award! (Thank you, Lois!)

The Questions:

Do you have any nicknames? ~ Not particularly.

Favorite movie? ~ Shadow on the Mesa. :)

Favorite book? ~ Hmmm. Maybe The Perilous Seat by Caroline Dale Snedeker?

Favorite TV show? ~ There are several (including a Zorro we just started!), but one is the b/w Buccaneers with Robert Shaw. 

How many siblings do you have? ~ Four.

How many kids would you like to have? ~ I try not to have hard-and-fast expectations when it comes to my future (obviously including children), so simply put, whatever perfect number God would choose to give. On the “largish” end, though!

What is your favorite activity to do with your family? ~ Good question. I actually like watching films a lot. It’s so easy to get cozy together…and we generally find the same things funny and/or moving.

What is your current school status? ~ Living at home in my twenties, I’m helping out with whatever needs doing while also figuring out this wild adventure called authorship…including often staying up far too late wrestling with words and stories! :)

Dream vacation (if money was no object)? ~ As always, the Colorado mountains and Wyoming head the list (along with regions even further west), but there’s also the Caribbean/tropics…and India and Africa or…well, basically anywhere having to do with my other combined interests of archaeology and endangered animals/amazing world habitats.

Do you like tea? (just cause) ;) ~ I do love both Oolong and iced tea!

Thanks again for the tag, Lois!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Books, books, books.... Historical-fiction/adventure stories free to a good home!

Hooray! The Great Book Giveaway Bonanza has arrived!!!  Numerous book loving bloggers are clearing their shelves and there are also some additional (and exciting) bookish related items being shared. You can see all the exciting entrants/links on Hamlette's blog here.

Yours truly is giving away the entire Crown & Covenant series by Douglas Bond (3 books). All three will go together to one happy winner, drawn on the 24th. (And.... my apologies, but I do have to limit this to US residents only. You know, what with there being three books and the whole shipping thing.)

All three are softcover in excellent condition and covered with clear protective material.

Here are the summaries:

Duncan's War

In Scotland in 1666, fourteen-year-old Duncan learns the value of being true to his faith while fighting against supporters of England's King Charles II, who oppress the Covenanters--those who believe that only Jesus can be king of the church.

King's Arrow

Angus M’Kethe, brave Duncan’s younger brother, is no longer a child with a toy bow and arrow. He is now a young man, facing the same persecution and spiritual questions that his entire family has struggled against for years. Loyal to his family, Angus must match wits in a life-and-death struggle against Highlanders. By faith, Angus turns his beloved game of chess into a tool of victory. But desperate fear grips the Clan with an unexpected murder! Will Covenanters be found guilty? Angus’s true test of manhood and marksmanship will come at the Battle of Drumclog!

Rebel's Keep

The third volume concludes the Crown & Covenant series with a new, high-intensity adventure. Set in 17th century Scotland, in the midst of the brutal persecutions of King Charles II of England, Rebel's Keep picks up the historical thread just before the devastating defeat of the Covenanters at Bothwell Bridge in 1679. Brothers Duncan and Angus team up again to stand for the Covenanter’s cause and fight the king’s injustice. Forced finally to flee to America, they must leave behind their beloved homeland.

Have fun!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, June 12, 2015

Ring Around the Rose ~ Week 2: Meeting Characters

Question #2: If you could meet any literary character, who would it be?

Let’s see. For me, reading about characters (where you're thinking, seeing, feeling everything with them) and actually meeting them seem worlds apart. For instance, I'd love to be Margaret Hale, but if I was Heidi and she was Margaret, I'm afraid she'd actually be rather reserved—wondering how I knew so much about her inner self. (Of course, if I was Margaret there are several characters I'd absolutely love to meet and the same goes for numerous other characters from Austen or Montgomery or Caroline Dale Snedeker or Margaret Leighton or Beverly Butler or Lewis or Tolkien, etc. ;))

And if I continue with a Lord of the Rings theme off last week, there are so many wonderful nominees I’m afraid it’s nearly impossible to make a rational decision (quite apart from the above problem): Gandalf, Faramir (you can read my guest post on him here), Aragorn, Sam, Merry, Pippin, Gimli, Legolas, Eomer, Boromir, Beregond, Tom Bombadil…Treebeard! You see my dilemma.

So going with something completely different, I’ll say Avdotya Romanovna, Raskolnikov’s sister in Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment

Deeply beautiful inside and out—waking to find herself in a dark mesh of circumstances beyond her wildest nightmares—her tough integrity, loyalty, and love are stunning. And I think she’d make an amazing friend.

Tell me! Is there a favorite literary character you’d love to meet?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Movie Review // Little Women ~ 1949

Hamlette’s finishing up her Little Women read-along this week and as such, it’s the perfect time for a review I’ve been needing to do—the 1949 Little Women! Starring a host of big names—June Allyson, Peter Lawford, Margaret O’Brien, Elizabeth Taylor, Janet Leigh, Rossano Brazzi, and Mary Astor—it's definitely one incredible cast!

First things first, story wise, they do tweak and abridge things here and there (for example, having had Laurie run away to join the army and Beth seemingly being the youngest sister), but it’s all done pretty rationally.

Meg ~ Janet Leigh is one of my favorite actresses (partly, I’m sure, because of seeing this at a young age) and she makes a lovely Meg.

Jo ~ While I do appreciate Hepburn’s portrayal in the 1933 version, June Allyson’s rendition has always been “Jo” for me...

Her quickness and tomboyish-ness, and how she develops to a strong and gentle woman.

Amy ~ In my humble opinion, there has never been quite the perfect Amy, but Elizabeth Taylor does do a very passable job.

And Beth ~ Margaret O’Brien as Beth is so incredibly sweet!

One of the Saddest Movie Scenes Ever
(My sister told me that Allyson and O’Brien were good, real-life friends, and after filming this scene near the end of the movie Allyson was so physically and emotionally exhausted that the studio ended up sending her home for the rest of the day… Isn’t that a touching story?)

Marmee ~ To this day, when I read the book Marmee is probably still the most unchanged in my mind (i.e. I still completely picture her as shown here).

Laurie ~ Peter Lawford just IS Laurie!

And his and Jo’s friendship is developed beautifully.

Professor Bhaer ~ Is…yes…a bit more Italian than German :),

but he’s also very good.

When I was little this—along with Anne of Green Gables—was pretty much my first ‘period drama’ (in fact, I didn’t even know what such a thing was at the time) and (along with the 60’s Sound of Music and Heidi) a first classic movie (likewise unknown at the time)! And so, of course, we come to the dresses. 

From reprint patterns I’ve seen, the prints and color schemes throughout actually all seem very authentic. It’s not my absolute favorite film wardrobe ever (just because there are a lot of brown and purplish-red maroon tones, etc), but there’s still plenty of lovely gorgeousness. 

There’s Meg’s poufy pink party dress

And Amy’s purple with the artistically draped lace

Meg’s blue overcoat

And her refreshing green and white garden ensemble (second from the left)

And her gray and white striped “proposal” dress (always making me think of the seaside!)

And then, of course, there’s always this rather incredible dress of Amy’s!

For reference, I have seen the 1994 film twice and I’ve come to like the 1933 b/w version quite well (of which this is a remake—even using the same theme song)! And while I heartily vote for one day having a good, long, well-cast, 5-hour long mini-series version (following Amy to Europe and including much more of the early and later adventures throughout), this version is still a favorite. As I said above, watching it now, I think one of the biggest things is seeing so many familiar faces in one film!

So altogether it’s a most lovely adaptation and definitely a family-friendly standby!

Tell me! Have you seen this and what do you think of it?

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Ring Around the Rose ~ Week 1: Fantasy Worlds

The authors of Five Enchanted Roses are doing a blog hop event, answering different questions over the next couple weeks on their own blogs. They’ve opened it up for anyone else who wants to post their answers as well and when I saw this week’s question it was too splendid to resist!

Question for Week #1: If you could live in any fantasy world, which one would you choose (and why)?

My selection falls between those two overarching favorites: Narnia and Middle Earth.

To me, Narnia always seems very…transitory. A marvelous adventure ground, but hard to find a concrete place or time in which to settle down in (which is partly why I love The Horse and His Boy so tremendously… you get to stay). 

So when it comes to an absolute choice I waver—especially when I think of Shasta and Aravis plunging into that cascading waterfall with its mysterious, invisible scent of massing rhododendrons, and then of Shasta’s drink of the crystal stream running over the fresh grass and his first breakfast with the dwarves in their delightfully homey kitchen—but all in all (if it was a life choice and I had to choose), I think Middle Earth. 

I particularly love both Anórien and Ithilien.

From The Return of the King

“(Merry) could not see them, but he knew that all round him were the companies of the Rohirrim. He could smell the horses in the dark, and could hear their shiftings and their soft stamping on the needle-covered ground. The host was bivouacked in the pine-woods that clustered about Eilenach Beacon, a tall hill standing up from the long ridges of the Druadan Forest that lay beside the great road in East Anórien.” (Wonder of splendid wonders—there are pine trees in Anórien!)

And this earlier quote from The Two Towers:

“Day was opening in the sky, and they saw that the mountains were now much further off, receding eastward in a long curve that was lost in the distance. Before them, as they turned west, gentle slopes ran down into dim hazes far below. All about them were small woods of resinous trees, fir and cedar and cypress, and other kinds unknown in the Shire, with wide glades among them; and everywhere there was a wealth of sweet-smelling herbs and shrubs. …fronds pierced moss and mould, larches were green-fingered, small flowers were opening in the turf, birds were singing. Ithilien, the garden of Gondor now desolate kept still a disheveled dryad loveliness.

“South and west it looked towards the warm lower vales of Anduin, shielded from the east by the Ephel Dúath and yet not under the mountain-shadow, protected from the north by the Emyn Muil, open to the southern airs and the moist winds from the Sea far away. Many great trees grew there, planted long ago, falling into untended age amid a riot of careless descendents; and groves and thickets there were of tamarisk and pungent terebinth, of olive and of bay; and there were junipers and myrtles; and thymes that grew in bushes, or with their woody creeping stems mantled in deep tapestries the hidden stones; sages of many kinds putting forth blue flowers, or red, or pale green; and marjorams and new-sprouting parsleys, and many herbs of forms and scents beyond the garden-lore of Sam…

“The travelers turned their backs on the road and went downhill. As they walked, brushing their way through bush and herbs, sweet odours rose about them. Gollum coughed and retched; but the hobbits breathed deep, and suddenly Sam laughed, for heart’s ease not for jest.”

In the end, a place to put roots down deep into the brown-turned earth, a land of wide running leagues between one place and another, with fire wrought story at the turnings—hugeness and depth and darkness and the joy beyond words.

How about you? Where would you choose?

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