Violets Are Blue is COMPLETE!

26 December 2010

Yes, you read right! My book, Violets Are Blue (previously titled Peril on the Sea), is officially finished! Well, finished being written, that is. The editing is the stage in which I am in now. But I actually am enjoying the editing, because the material is already there--all I have to do is change a sentence so that it flows better; alter a chapter a little so that the message is clearer; check my facts on the sinking of the Titanic, etc. I've immersed myself in SO much research and read so many books involving this infamous ocean liner that I could practically tell you every detail. A friend of mine even had a really neat book called The Sinking of the Titanic and Great Sea Disasters that contained real-life accounts from survivors, photos, etc. Click here for the book on Amazon.

Since I am still editing, I shall not post the word count yet, because that is altered by a small amount in the editing process. When it is completely edited and ready for the next step--publishing!--I will post word count, page count, etc. 

I should tell you, too, that my book has been finished for almost a month--I finished it on November 31st. And I failed to let you know, other than a little P.S. at the bottom of one of my posts. :( I know, I know--I should have let you know sooner. But what with my dance studio's recital (and dress rehearsals) and then the busy-ness of Christmas, I simply haven't had the time to put together a celebratory post until now.

In honor of the completion of my book, I have decided to post a short excerpt. I am normally hesitant to post excerpts on my blog, because I don't want them stolen. But this shall be a rare exception. I hope you enjoy, especially since this is one of my favorite scenes. :) Please keep in mind while reading, though, that all of this writing is mine, and any copying of any kind is absolutely prohibited. Please respect that. And secondly, I would greatly appreciate any advice--compliment or criticsm--that you would like to give me. Thank you!

I was walking home from the factory one evening, when I happened to stop at Mr. O’ Neale’s blacksmith forge.
“Hello, Violet!” Mr. O’ Neale called out to me.
“Hello, Mr. O’ Neale,” I answered in a faint voice.
“Saints preserve us! What is wrong with you, Vi? Yer lookin’ a bit sick.”
“Nothing is wrong with me, although I am tired. It’s the factory,” I said, as if that explained everything. 
He nodded in a knowing fashion. 
“I heard from your little brother that you and yer mam were workin’ there. Are you at the clothing factory?”
I nodded.
“Aye, me old bones get to achin’ just hearin’ about it. That Mr. Woods is quite a gentleman isn’t he?” His voice was sarcastic.
I nodded again, pleased that he knew of Mr. Woods, yet curious at how the two had become acquainted. 
“He’s terrible, Mr. O’ Neale! The way he makes us work, in that heat…” I trailed off.
“Did he slap you?”
I blushed. I had forgotten about the scene earlier in the week, in which Mr. Woods had taken out his anger on my left cheek.
Suddenly, everything started to seem oppressive. I heard Mr. O’ Neale speaking, but I couldn’t make out the words. My stomach twisted, my head felt faint, and the street seemed to spin under me. I felt my knees buckling. 
“Violet!” someone called my name from far away. I heard footsteps.
I was falling, falling, and I couldn’t think why. Memories of the factory today made my head spin, and I began to feel more and more dizzy. 
But I didn’t hit the street, as I had expected. Instead, I seemed to rise above it, as though I was flying, cradled by strange arms I did not recognize. I heard Mr. O’ Neale speaking again:
“Yer quick, lad! There, catch her before she hits her head! Steady now, don’t let her fall. Her apartment’s just up this flight of stairs.
Who was quick? Who was going to hit her head? I heard a door open, and then the creaking of stairs as someone walked up them.
Voices suddenly started calling my name, in varying tones of alarm. I felt someone, Emma perhaps, place a cool rag on my forehead.
“She’s fainted. Get her to bed, quickly.”
I recognized the voice, but I couldn’t think who it could be. 
And then everything went black.

Glory to God in the Highest!

24 December 2010


1And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
 2(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
 3And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
 4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
 5To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
 6And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
 7And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
 8And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
 9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
 10And the angel said unto them, "Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
 11"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
 12"And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger."
 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
 14Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
 15And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
 16And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
 17And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
 18And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
 19But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
 20And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

This record of the birth of Jesus as written by Luke is by far my favorite version. There is more depth in the old time language used in the in the King James version, a depth that doesn't seem as present in the NIV or the NLT. The words seem to leap off of the page--"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the LORD."


Unto US. The Father gave His only Son, to be born as a baby and killed on the cross only thirty-two years later, for US. That's how much He loves us. We are sinners; we steal; we cheat; we lie; we're disrespectful to our parents. And it was for that reason that God knew, without His Son, we could not have eternal life.

We are entirely undeserving of eternal life. We all deserve to be separated from God. But because of Jesus, we can have a close relationship with the LORD, and we can live forever with Him. 

It almost brings tears to my eyes when I think of the sacrifices the LORD made for us. We, who are broken, weary, tired, and weak can find eternal strength in Him, because of what He gave. And yet, when Christmas rolls around every year, all we can think of are what presents we hope to receive, Christmas music, decorations, and all that. We lose sight so often of the true meaning of Christmas. 

I realize that what I'm saying may sound unoriginal and certainly very hard to follow.  "Yes, yes, I get it," you say. "I shouldn't get distracted by all the "extras," and I should focus more on the LORD. But it's so hard! What do I DO?"

I suggest you search your Bible for verses dealing with the birth of Jesus, trying to glean what you can. Read a little each day leading up to December 25th, preparing your heart for the coming of Jesus.

I have found that this year, my outlook on Christmas has changed. I am still excited for Christmas morning, and I'm looking forward to what I might find under the tree. But the real thing that brings me to tears and stirs my heart is thinking about the sacrifice He gave for us. When I read of Jesus' birth straight from His Word, when I listen to songs like "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" or "The First Noel" I am amazed, simply amazed at the power of the LORD. It's like I'm learning all of these things for the first time. "Have A Holly Jolly Christmas" and "Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow" don't stir me in this way.

This Christmas, try setting Jesus on your heart, and not just saying He is the best part of Christmas--realizing that He really is

10And the angel said unto them, "Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
 11"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
 12"And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger."
 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
 14"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas...

15 December 2010


Just like the ones I used to know,


Where the treetops glisten, 


And children listen,


To hear sleighbells in the snow.


I'm dreaming of a white Christmas, 


With every Christmas card I write,


May your days be merry and bright,


And may all your Christmases be white.


(This last one is my entry for Olivia's Words For Snow art contest. I highly suggest you enter--the prizes are stupendous!)

HorseFeathers

NOTE: We don't normally get much snow in the south, much less in December, so this was truly a surprise! Immediately after there was enough, I ran outside to take these pictures. I said to my sister that snow in December is, in my opinion, prettier than snow in January, because snow in December is paired with delightful strains of Christmas music, Christmas decorations, and delicious scents from baking cookies--all which seem to belong with snow. Snow in January is just winter.

Book Review: Almost Home

25 November 2010

Being that today is Thanksgiving, I thought my readers deserved a... Thanksgiving-related book review. :)

Almost Home: A Story Based on the Life of the Mayflower's Mary Chilton
By Wendy Lawton

Mary Chilton was but thirteen years old when she traveled with her parents on the Mayflower to the New World, leaving behind two sisters and many friends in Leiden, Holland. Mary befriends Constance Hopkins, and together with Elizabeth Tilley (a friend of Mary's  who also came from Leiden), they become an almost inseperable trio. But stormy clouds are on the horizon. Even after landing in the New World, Mary's world is still unsteady when both her parents die of the sickness that killed nearly half of the Pilgrims that first winter. Through all of this hardship, Mary's faith in God is amazing, and she knows that He will bring her to a place that she can someday call "home."



Oh, this is such a good book! Like I said in my plot summary, Mary Chilton's faith in God is amazing--she almost never wavers. It's truly an encouraging book to read, for if she can have faith in seemingly the hardest of conditions, how can we not have faith?

I pull this book out about a week before Thanksgiving every year and read through it again--that's how much I love the story. From the first day I picked it up, I refused to put it down. It's a great example of historical fiction (which is probably my favorite type of book) because many of the characters, like Mary Chilton, Elizabeth Tilley, and Constance Hopkins were ACTUAL passengers on the Mayflower. This was an element that I really enjoyed, because years ago I read the Dear America book about the Pilgrims (A Journey to the New World: The Diary of Remember Patience Whipple), and was sadly disappointed to learn that "Mem" (Remember) did not really exist. When I started reading Almost Home, I had already heard of and read about the Hopkins family, and so it was a delightful surprise to learn that they played a role in this book as well. (Ironicly, my mother was pregnant on Thanksgiving Day two years in a row, and so she always played "Mrs. Hopkins". :)

When reading this book, I often have this feeling of the amazing strength of the Pilgrims. They traveled out into the middle of nowhere, pushing through many trials, because of their faith. Any weaker Christian could think, "Oh, I'll just listen to the king of England. I'd rather do that than experience such hardship." But the Pilgrims didn't! And where would we be if they had not traveled across the Atlantic Ocean to the New World? Would we still be in England, or would we be one of the immigrants who traveled to America a couple hundred years later? It really makes me think. By listening or not listening to God, not only are we affecting the outcome of our own lives, but the outcome of many other lives in future generations.

Sadly, many children in public school are taught nowadays that the first Thanksgiving was no more than the Pilgrims inviting their Indian friends over for dinner to thank them for helping them when they were starving. But it is SO much more! The first Thanksgiving was a thanksgiving to the LORD, in which the Pilgrims thanked Him for seeing them through in this new land and for never leaving them or forsaking them. It was a thanksgiving to the LORD for sending the Indians to help them. See the difference?

I'd like to challenge all of you, between cooking and having fun with family, to sit down sometime today and say a prayer of thanksgiving for all that God has done for our country. 

A BIT O' READING FOR THE DAY

"I don't know where I belong, but someday--if it please the Lord--let me have a house to scrub. Someday, let me have a plot of land for planting. And someday let me unpack our linens and smooth out the wrinkles and lay them in a press. Someday... As Elder Brewster continued to talk with her father, she silently prayed one last request--And please, give me room in that someday garden to tuck in a flower or two. Flowers meant you planned to stay."

Yes... I'm back

22 November 2010

In this post, I don't intend to have any skipping around or "beating around the bush" so to speak. That's why I'm going to say my "big news" right here, right now:
I quit NaNoWriMo.
Yep, I said it. And now I shall explain.

At the beginning of the month of November, NaNoWriMo was fun. It was enjoyable, it kept me writing every day, and my book had never been better... until I realized something: by forcing myself to write almost 2,000 words every day, my writing was getting worse and worse. It didn't flow, it sounded terrible, and I threw in some chapters that were no more than space-fillers--they didn't connect at all the the central point.

Now, this may be my problem because I started out Nano having already written a little over 20,000 words for my book, Peril on the Sea (now much more fittingly titled Violets Are Blue). Don't worry--I didn't cheat--but to complete Nano (and win) I would have to make my book about 70,000 words long. And for me, that was hard. I should have been getting close to the end of the book (my personal word count goal is anywhere between 40k and 50k), and yet I had so much more to write to complete NaNo's goal. And that's where the space-filler chapters came in. And when my little sister, who has been reading this book a chapter a day (and eagerly begging me to write more so that she can read more) told me that she didn't like all those space-filler chapters, I finally realized what a waste it was to spend hours on end, sitting on my laptop and writing NOTHING. Stories come in all shapes and sizes; I was attempting to stretch Violets Are Blue beyond its capacity.

Another point: every morning (my favorite writing time is between 5:30 and 7:30 A.M.) when I would tell my dad my word count, he would ask me, "Well, are they ____ good words?" And I would be at a loss what to say. But my dad had a point. The one thing that always bothered me about Nano was their mindset that it doesn't matter what you write, it just matters how much you write. I'm sorry Nano, but I don't agree with you. If I'm going to spend my time writing, I'd like my writing to be the best it could possibly be. And I would so much rather write 200 good words than 2,000 so-so words.

So I quit. But, in a way, I didn't quit. My word count is 37,000 words, and I intend to finish this book before November ends. I feel no pressure to write, and because of that, my writing has never been better.
Because I took the time to step outside of Nano, take a deep breath, and start writing once more, my book was saved from going completely downhill.
And that's my story. Feel free to disagree with me--I understand that many of you love Nano, and will probably be gaping in shock when you read this post. And please understand that I do not hate Nano. Rather, I don't think that my circumstances with my book (i.e. having already written 20,000 words) really made Nano a good choice for me. 

Have a lovely Thanksgiving, ladies! (And speaking of Thanksgiving, keep your eyes open for a book review on Thanksgiving Day... :)

A Lesson From a Movie: Is "Tradition" Outdated?

31 October 2010

Today my post is going to be a bit different. I am starting a personal event titled A Lesson From a Movie. No, this is not a weekly or even a monthly event. This is simply whenever I find good values (or bad ones) in a movie, and I wish to share my thoughts on it, why I agree/disagree, etc. Being that Jo's fiesta for this week is book- and movie-centered, and we are allowed to post about our favorite movie(s)/book(s) for extra entries, I thought today would be a good day to start.

Theme: Tradition

Movie: 


Question: Is tradition outdated?

Song used to assist in proving of point: Tradition, Fiddler on the Roof movie soundtrack

Take a look at the "classic" American family: 2 parents, 2 children, and a dog. The children go to public school, the dad is a doctor, and the mom is an accountant. Maybe she works from her home. Maybe there's only a dad or a mom--not both--because the parents were divorced. (Keep in mind that this is just a stereotype--it is not always the case.)

Let us go even deeper than that. Let's say that the mom drives the car, while the dad sits in the passenger seat, because the mom "doesn't trust him." Let's also add that the children are constantly bickering and fighting, because they are so worn-out from being driven from school to soccer to ballet, and then home to eat a quick dinner, stay up a few more hours completing homework, and then roll into bed, only to wake up the next morning and start the process over again.

What's wrong with this picture?

To help you see what is wrong, I am going to pair each of my arguments with a verse from Tradition (key words are bolded):

VERSE 1

Who, day and night, must scramble for a living,
Feed a wife and children, say his daily prayers?

And who has the right, as master of the house,
To have the final word at home?

The Papa, the Papa! Tradition.
The Papa, the Papa! Tradition.


Does the "classic" American family regard the father as the master of the house? Sadly, most don't. The father is just a space-filler, so to speak--it is the mother who drives the car, who manages the checkbook, who orders the appliances needed for the household. Where are the strong men of God who lead their families?


When a man's ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. ~Proverbs 16:7

VERSE 2

Who must know the way to make a proper home,
A quiet home, a kosher home? Who must raise the family and run the home,

So Papa's free to read the holy books?

The Mama, the Mama! Tradition!
The Mama, the Mama! Tradition!


The mother is the maker of the home. She is not the leader, nor should she be. Many feminists today have planted this seed in our hearts that staying at home and raising a family is somehow "not good enough." Woman now have to go out and have jobs to be thought "good enough." "Women should be able to do everything that men can do," they  claim. But women and men have different roles! Of course we can't do everything that men can do! They are the leaders, and we (as women) are their helpmeets. 

In many circumstances, such a the wife driving the car, it is not just because she wants to "prove her abilities." Rather, women are made wanting leaders--that's how we work. If the husband is weak and not willing to be a strong leader, the woman naturally steps in and becomes the leader herself. 


A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety. ~1 Timothy 2:11-15

VERSE 3

At three, I started Hebrew school. At ten, I learned a trade.
I hear they've picked a bride for me. I hope she's pretty.


The son, the son! Tradition!
The son, the son! Tradition!


I don't believe that we should have arranged marriages--the husband is to love his wife, and vice versa, and so marriages should not be arranged by the parents of the couple--but the line that I bolded has a good point. "At ten, I learned a trade." Children are told today that they should be children for as long as they can--that being an adult is "no fun." Just take the Toys 'R Us jingle: "I don't wanna grow up--I wanna be a Toys 'R Us kid." What kind of message is that sending to all the children who see those ads? Children who think that they don't want to grow up grow into adults who are constantly complaining about their lot in life. When children are raised to bear responsibility at a young age, they become men and women who do not complain as much, for they already have experience. 


Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from Him. ~Psalm 127:3


My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. ~Proverbs 2:1-6



VERSE 3

And who does Mama teach to mend and tend and fix,
Preparing them to marry whoever Papa picks?


The daughters, the daughters! Tradition!
The daughters, the daughters! Tradition!


Again, I do not believe in arranged marriage. But let's look past the line that says "whoever Papa picks," and focus on the "preparing them to marry." Women are the caretakers of the home. But how can a young girl learn to be a good caretaker of her own home someday, if her mother never takes the time to teach her? The tasks that were considered extremely important just a century ago--sewing well, cooking adequately, managing a household--are thrown to the wind in favor of others, such as dance, soccer, volleyball, or cheerleading practice. No wonder woman are not prepared to be mothers when they are married! They are simply not receiving the right training. And the right training begins--not in public school--but at home.


Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them sup from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. ~Deuteronomy 4:9


This concluded my first A Lesson From a Movie post. I hope you enjoyed, and I hope you truly take to heart what I have said. And to answer my question: no, tradition is most certainly NOT outdated!!


Remember to click on over to Jo's blog and view her fiesta for the week--this is the last day, so be sure to join in before it's too late! Also, remember to join her Movie Quotes Quiz --it's the last day for that, too! 


P.S. Here is the full video for the song "Tradition," so you can hear the music. :)


Fiesta de Octobre at SFMW ~ Fiesta 4

24 October 2010

This week is the last week of Jo March's Fiesta de Octobre! And this week's prize is the best of all! Here's a preview:

Exclusive Marie Madeline Custom Aprons
Exclusive Marie Madeline Custom Ladies Clothing


Did you get the hint? Here's the answer: the winner will receive any pattern of their choice--NO COST--from Marie-Madeline Studio!! Click the link, and you will see what I'm so excited about--these ladies' products are just darling! 

Now that I have you excited, let's get down to all the details. The only mandatory thing you have to do to enter this giveaway is answer 20 questions written by Miss Jo, but if you want to have even more fun, why not do some of the suggested posts? It's all up to you!




(Note: for more information about this event in general, click the button. For info about this week's giveaway, click here.)

Here are my answers:


{1} It's nearly impossible to pick a favorite book, so what are your top THREE favorite books? (other than the Bible :D) It's nearly impossible to pick your top THREE favorite books! *sigh* But, I shall oblige you, Jo. My three top favorites are Anne of Green Gables (whole series), Pride and Prejudice, and the Little House books (whole series). And that's just brushing the surface!

{2} Who is your favorite heroine from literature? (if you need to list more than one, that's fine) I have several: Marianne Dashwood, Elizabeth Bennet, Anne Shirley, and Jo March. I can't say I like one of them over the others--I love them all for different reasons.

{3} Who is your favorite hero from literature? (see above note) Ooh, tough. I'll have to say the same as you, Jo: Gilbert Blythe and Laurie.

{4} Who is your favorite author? (see note above) I love the works of Jane Austen (bet you never knew! :) C.S. Lewis, and Laura Ingalls Wilder.

{5} What is your favorite type of book to read? Anything historical fiction, and surprisingly enough, that's my favorite type of book to write as well!

{6} If you could be a character from literature for one day, who would you be? Why? I would be Anne Shirley. She always seems to run into the most interesting of people--I think it would be very enjoyable to be her for a day.

{7} What type of reader would you call yourself? Are you an avid reader, passive reader, or even a non-reader? Avid, although a lot of what I read nowadays consists of schoolwork. Not that that's a bad thing. :)

{8} Do you like reading aloud? At times, when I want to read something in a different dialect or accent.

{9} Do you like mystery stories? I like some. The Nancy Drew books are very fun to read--one summer, my sister Bree and I tried to read through the whole entire series. I think we got to #27. 

{10} All of us have read a book at some point or another and disliked the way it ended or who married who, etc. What book(s) bother you like that, and what would you change about them? Well, it always really bothered me how Laurie did not marry Jo in the end of Little Women. Of course, Professor Bhaer is nice too, and if Jo had married Laurie, Fred Vaughn may have married Amy and that would not have been good, but still... For awhile after reading that book, I despised Louisa May Alcott, thinking her such an atrocious writer. Of course, my feelings have changed by now (and they are not so passionate in their hatred toward aforesaid authors) but I still wish Laurie had married Jo.

{11} Just like books, it's *very* hard to pick a favorite movie. What are you top THREE favorite movies? Fiddler on the Roof, Little Women (1995), and The Patriot. 

{12} When it comes to movie adaptions of books, are you a purist or do you not mind changes to the storyline? Nine times out of ten, yes, I am purist. But in the case of the 1995 version of Little Women, I actually like the movie a lot, despite the errors in the plot. That was the one movie that never seemed to bother me that way. Of course, the book is a lot better. :)

{13} What is your favorite book-to-movie adaption? Pride and Prejudice 1995 version. It was so perfect, even up to the characters' looks. I just love that movie. :)

{14} What is your favorite type of movie to watch? Book adaptions (if they are done well) and musicals. 

{15} Do you like to watch movies with the lights off or on? I like to watch them with the lights off, but my family likes to watch them with the lights on. 

{16} DVD or VHS? DVD.

{17} When you watch a movie, would you rather watch it straight through or skip around to your favorite scenes? Straight through--how else do you expect me to understand the movie and really get into it?

{18} Subtitles? As long as they aren't too attention-grabbing, yes.

{19} Do you make comments and ask questions during a movie, or sit in complete silence? I'd like to say I sit in complete silence, but my siblings would probably say otherwise. :)

{20} If you could be in any movie (whether it's already been made or not) which movie would it be? Who would you want to be and why? I'd love to be Amy in Little Women. I'd love to go to Europe, and I'd love to be able to paint like her, and I'd love to wear her dresses. :)

I think these were my favorite questions to answer--the topic was very interesting. :) Click here to join this event--you won't regret it. :)
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