31 August 2012

The Time Has Come For Us to Part.

Gianni Strino - La lettera
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It is with great regret that I announce, on this thirty-first of August in the year of our Lord 2012, that my blog tour has come to its proper denoument. It has been a great adventure, and I would like to extend my hearty thanks to all who offered me the stage of their blogs for a day. Under the circumstances, I thought it fitting that the grand finale of this tour should have something to do with endings. Thus, I give you the last stop for the Violets Are Blue blog tour: a guest post about how to close a book well at dear Kellie's site, Accordion to Kellie ("d" was correct!). There are those who close books too quickly, those who ramble on and on for hours, and those who can do it just right. What is that constitutes just the right conclusion? Why don't you drop in and find out?

sneak peak:

You've done the seemingly impossible. All those sleepless nights and countless mugs of tea are about to pay off in the next few moments. Memories of writer's block and the tears you wept over that horrid chapter fourteen are forgotten in the unmistakable glory of your success. Your book is finished. The plot is intriguing and creative, your characters are dynamic, and your dialogue flows with all the grace and ease of water over mossy rocks. You even have a creative title that evokes the beauty of your story in a few poetic words. You're soaring on cloud nine, singing at the top of your lungs, "I did not live until today!"

. . . Well, not quite.

Before you can start designing your book's cover and planning the movie adaption, there's one little matter to settle, and it comes right before those two little words: THE END. That's right — I'm speaking of your story's last few sentences. They could easily be called the most important part of a book, for they are the lines that stick in the reader's head long after the final page has been turned. You may have a general idea of where all your characters should be when the book concludes, but how are you supposed to draw it all together so effortlessly that the reader is given a feeling of completion?

Click here to read the full post at Accordion to Kellie.

P.S. Let's give many rounds of congratulations to Emily for winning the Violets Are Blue giveaway! Please email me with your address, and I'll get your autographed copy in the mail as soon as possible. :) Congratulations, dear girl!

30 August 2012

A Royal Review with Raquel.

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If I'm perfectly honest, I will say that my favorite stops during this blog tour o' mine (which sadly ends tomorrow *wipes a tear*) are the book reviews. Not because they praise me and my book to the skies (and if they did, I would worry about their sanity, since I feel Violets Are Blue is easily surpassed by hundreds of other books) but because it's refreshing to hear someone's honest, unbiased review of your work. I had sent Miss Raquel a free copy of VAB to review, and today her kind assessment of the book is up on her blog, God's Daughter ("b" was correct!). Raquel is a dear blogging friend of mine, and it was such a pleasure to work with her. Enjoy the excerpt below, and be sure to stick around and read Raquel's other posts — you'll be sure to leave her blog blessed.

sneak peak:

Summary:
Violet Bradshaw is a fourteen year old girl, living with her family of nine in Eastbourne, Great Britain.  Due to certain circumstances, her father decides to move the family to New York.  Violet is forced to leave behind everything she knows in this pivotal change - including her best friend Lillian Prescott.  Violet is faced with the possibility of never seeing her friend since childhood again.

My Thoughts:
I thought it was well written for being someone's first novel.  Elizabeth Rose wrote it in first-person which (to me, anyway) is difficult to write well.  I like how Violet and her family are Christians, but she doesn't make that a huge center focus of the book.  She puts it in just when needed and I like that.
The family is very sweet and solidly built (something greatly lacking in today's world) . . .

Click here to read the full review at God's Daughter.

P.S. It's your last chance to guess where I'm stopping tomorrow! And anyone who tells me why I called my review with Raquel "royal" gets another 3 points. :)

29 August 2012

I'm Going to Write Historical Fiction Because I Cannot Help It.

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That oft-repeated question of why I chose to write historical fiction over all the other genres open to me has made its appearance in many of my interviews throghout the course of my blog tour. However, as is normally the case with interviews, I wasn't given the proper amount of time or space to fully explain my reasons. The answer I can best give in such circumstances is a brief, "Um, well . . . I love history?" But today you get to hear the full backstory about my passion for history in the guest post I wrote for Payton at Dirt and Dickens (choice "b" was correct!). I did not know of Payton's blog until she emailed me several weeks ago, but I can't fathom why. She's kind, funny, and intelligent, and I'm looking forward to getting to know her and her blog better in the months to come. I highly suggest you stick around and meet that most peculiar mademoiselle when you're finished reading the guest post.

sneak peak:

For as long as I can remember, Daddy has told my siblings and I stories about events in history. Whether he is recalling something from memory or reading it from a book, history and the men and women who changed it are his true passion. He loves reading about how ancient Greek philosophy and Roman rule of law affected our American Constitution. As a descendant of a soldier in the American Revolution (said soldier’s rope bed is in our attic — how amazing is that?), history is in his blood. And as I won’t be the first to tell you that I bear a striking resemblance in both looks and character to my father, it shouldn’t surprise you that he passed this love down to me . . .

Click here to read the full post at Dirt and Dickens.

P.S. Don't forget to guess where I'm stopping tomorrow!

28 August 2012

What Sort of a Girl Is Miss Darcy?

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"I never met with anybody who delighted me so much. Such a countenance, such manners! and so extremely accomplished for her age! Her performance on the pianoforte is exquisite." Not to mention she writes a lovely blog called Miss Georgiana Darcy ("c" was correct!), and has asked to host me for a small interview at said site. As both Miss Darcy (a.k.a. Maria Elisabeth) and I had extremely busy schedules, this interview had to be pushed a day forward. But it wasn't too much of a bother to do so, and now that we are all settled, won't you drop in and join us for some tea and petit fours? We've been discussing Violets Are Blue and writing in general, as I'm sure you guessed, but there are several new questions added to the mix that even I haven't seen before . . .

sneak peak:

Writing Violets Are Blue, did you ever feel the temptation to ignore historical facts?  Did you ever wish that you didn't have to write the story of the Titanic just as it happened?

Oh yes, many a time. In fact, there were several scenes where I felt I could have written with much more fluidity if I wasn't constantly dragged down by historical facts. Historical fiction can be very difficult, and there are times when I wonder why I ever chose it. But I love stories from ages past: they make the blood that courses through my veins flow red-hot, and they excite me to capture the truth about history on paper. No matter how many times I throw my pen down in disgust and claim I'll never write historical fiction again, I always seem to turn back to it.

Click here to read the full interview at Miss Georgiana Darcy.

P.S. Nela at Beloved Star is hosting a smashing giveaway, and you simply must enter, dahling. Actually, I'd rather you didn't, since I'd so dreadfully love to win.

26 August 2012

Sunday Blessings

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"This is God's gospel promise: to forgive our sins and give us eternal life by grace alone because of Christ's one sacrifice finished on the cross."

— Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A 66

Have a blessed Lord's Day, ladies!
"And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." — Hebrews 10:10

25 August 2012

True Friends Are Always Together In Spirit.

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Jo and I have been close friends (or shall I say amigas) for a lengthy amount of time. If you were to read any of our emails or see the comments we leave on each other's blogs, you would probably find yourself in a mysterious swirling vortex of period drama quoting, Spanish, lengthy Hunger Games discussions, little Southern-isms, the amazing Les Misérables, random, utterly unexplained outbursts of "You could be the deciding vote!" (it's a rather long story) and why it's perfectly normal (healthy, even) to start listening to Christmas music in late November. In other words, we're ready-made kindred spirits. And how can one go about conducting a blog tour properly without making a stop at the inglenook of a kindred spirit? (If Anne Shirley had a blog, she would heartily disapprove.) This afternoon Jo did a review for  Violets Are Blue on her blog, Scraps From My Workbasket ("d" was the correct answer!). Below I am sharing the obligatory excerpt, but you really ought to read the full review at Scraps for yourself. I believe Jo mentioned a few scenes that even I haven't released on Literary Lane before . . .

sneak peak:

I'm not a "classic" book reviewer, I do each one kinda different, just to keep things interesting. Sometimes I do a chronological look, sometimes I summarize, sometimes I focus on a particular incident, or sometimes a particular person. The thing that stood out to me the most about this truly fascinating story was the development of the characters and how true they are to life. So, dear readers, that is going to be the focus of this review.

Actually, this is a book that was interesting for me to read since I really couldn’t relate to the main character, Violet, very much. I found that I’m more of a cross between Violet’s older sister Emma and her best friend Lilli. That said, I was particularly struck by one chapter that involved a conversation between Vi and her dramatic sister Helen. In the scene (forgive the theater language - I'm an actress, what can I say? *chuckle*) Helen opens her heart to her big sister in a moment of weakness, and Violet gets a rare glimpse into the "real" Helen. Vi learns in the brief interchange the mystery, if you will, behind Helen's sometimes obnoxious and overly hyper behavior - it was simply her way of dealing with change and sadness and stress . . .

Click here to read the full review at Scraps From My Workbasket.

24 August 2012

Creating Characters Always Involves a Few Ink Stains.


Finding a blogger with wisdom, maturity, and a fresh sense of humor is always a treat. Finding a blogger who happens to be an amazing writer is exciting. But finding a blogger who has all the above — and is only sixteen years old — is amazing, in that we-are-kindred-spirits way. Abigail J. Hartman, young author of The Soldier's Cross, is one of those rare bloggers. Every time I visit her blog, Scribbles and Ink Stains, I am rendered speechless by her comprehensive insights into literature and the heart-wrenching book snippets she shares. So when Abigail said she wanted me to write a guest post for her, I was both incredibly honored and apprehensive at the thought of my writing appearing on her blog. Would it be good enough? Wouldn't it look terribly childish and immature in comparison to her other posts? But my fears were soon set aside as Abigail and I communicated through email. She was always kind and encouraging, and it was truly a pleasure to include her in my tour. Our discussion today has been on memorable characters: how does one invent such unforgettable, original people anyway?

sneak peak:

C.S. Lewis' unforgettable opening lines — "There was a boy named Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it" — are a perfect example of how much a book's readability depends on the characters that inhabit it. When I first read those words as a child, I knew very little about where the plot would carry me, and yet I had already decided that I was going to like this book. Why? Because Lewis opened his book with a character that demanded your attention from the start. Already I was wondering why Eustace almost deserved his horrid name. If you don't care about the characters, it doesn't matter what fantastic plot twists the author puts in his story. You may be surprised that a man who seemed trustworthy is really the villain in disguise, but you'll only yawn in boredom when he wounds the protagonist in a duel. After all, what does it matter that the main character may die in the next three pages? You never cared about him in the first place. Frankly, you're more curious about what you'll be eating for lunch.

Obviously we don't want our readers considering the everyday occurence of a midday meal more exciting than the riveting plots we took months, even years to craft just right . . .

Click here to read the full post at Scribbles and Ink Stains.

23 August 2012

Poem of the Week: Little and Great by Charles Mackay

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Little and Great
By Charles Mackay

A traveller on a dusty road
Strewed acorns on the lea;
And one took root and sprouted up,
And grew into a tree.
Love sought its shade at evening-time,
To breathe its early vows;
And Age was pleased, in heats of noon,
To bask beneath its boughs.
The dormouse loved its dangling twigs,
The birds sweet music bore--
It stood a glory in its place,
A blessing evermore.

A little spring had lost its way
Amid the grass and fern;
A passing stranger scooped a well
Where weary men might turn;
He walled it in, and hung with care
A ladle at the brink;
He thought not of the deed he did,
But judged that Toil might drink.
He passed again; and lo! the well,
By summer never dried,
Had cooled ten thousand parched tongues.
And saved a life beside.

A dreamer dropped a random thought;
'Twas old, and yet 'twas new;
A simple fancy of the brain, 
But strong in being true.
It shone upon a genial mind,
And, lo! its light became
A lamp of life, a beacon ray,
A monitory flame:
The thought was small; its issue great;
A watch-fire on the hill,
It sheds its radiance far adown,
And cheers the valley still.

A nameless man, amid the crowd
That thronged the daily mart,
Let fall a word of hope and love,
Unstudied from the heart,--
It raised a brother from the dust,
It saved a soul from death.
O germ! O fount! O word of love!
O thought at random cast!
Ye were but little at the first,
But mighty at the last. 

When I logged into my Blogger account this evening, I was so overwhelmed with happiness to see that my followers have reached three hundred. Sweet friends, you all must know that you mean the world to me, and I have been so blessed by your emails and comments. Blogging just wouldn't be the same without each one of you. And to all my new readers, thank you for dropping by Literary Lane! Stick around for a while, won't you? There will always be a warm kettle on the back of the stove, a roaring fire, and maybe . . . we'll even break into the sardines. ;)

The guessing game for the giveaway is up, and don't forget to link up with your poems below!

22 August 2012

A Garden Visit With My Lavender Friend.

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First of all, some of you may be confused as to why I did not post about where I was stopping for the blog tour yesterday. Plans shifted at the last minute, and I had to make the executive decision to cancel yesterday's interview at The Destiny of One (answer "d") and move it to today (click here to read it). Everyone who guessed correctly will still be receiving a point in the giveaway. Furthermore, since no one had the chance to guess where I am stopping today, I'm making a slight exception to the rules.  All you have to do is copy and paste the following into an email to me:

I just won 4 points in Elizabeth Rose's giveaway because I know that she is stopping at Grace's Garden Walk for an interview.

And just like that, you automatically have four points in the giveaway: that's two points for guessing where I'm stopping, and two points for saying whether it will be an interview or a guest post. This offer ends tonight at 11:59 P.M., so enter while you can! It takes all of 30 seconds.

I received an invitation to stop by Miss Grace's sunny garden a while ago, and at last the special day has arrived. Her garden is growing so nicely this year, with nearly every flower you could imagine. Not to be outshined by the more rampant blooms, the lavendar, the special pride of Grace's heart, is sprouting up in lovely, powder-soft bunches. It smelled so nice, and Grace was kind enough to send me home with a sachet so that I might always remember my sweet lavender friend. When the sun grew too hot, we cooled ourselves on the shady veranda with tea, scones, and little petit fours. Grace and I have been chatting together, in that dreamy way peculiar to warm summer afternoons, and we would so love to include you in our conversation. Why don't you stop by and join us?

sneak peak:


What sparked your interest in the Titanic era? 

The Dear America book, Voyage on the Great Titanic, by Ellen Emerson White, has been a favorite of mine since childhood, and was what first introduced me to the tragedy of the Titanic. I was quite intrigued with the infamous ocean liner's end, mainly because it came as such a shock to those of that period. A ship so grand, so luxurious — why, nothing could possibly sink her, right?

I hardly need answer that question.

Click here to read the full interview at Grace's Garden Walk.

20 August 2012

Like a Beacon in a Tumultuous Sea.

Lighthouse
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As I mentioned nearly a week ago, there are certain blogs that stand out to me above the rest. What I love most in a young lady's site can not be found in the clothes she wears, the food she eats, the books she reads, or the movies she watches (although matching opinions on such topics does make for good ice-breaking). Rather, what I love best about the blogs I enjoy is the heart of the author behind it. She doesn't have to be perfectly eloquent, nor does she need a $600 camera to catch my eye. Her spirit comes alive through the screen, and her heart for the Lord spills out into everything she says and does. Last week, I spoke specifically of Joy in this respect; not surprisingly, her sister, Sarah, has the same gift. And though you won't exactly get to read Sarah's own words today, as I am guest posting at her blog, I hope you take the time to read through her archives when you are finished with my article on pride and the Titanic.

sneak peak:

It is known as the greatest marine disaster in the world. Mention the name Titanic to anyone, and they will immediately think of the "unsinkable" ocean liner and her tragic end on April 14th, 1912. The film of the same name is one of the highest grossing movies in the world (though whether that has to do with the historical background [flawed though it may be] or the romance is a subject worth debating). Everyone knows about the Titanic.

Having reached the centennial of her infamous sinking just this April, the Titanic seems to be present in everyone's minds now more than ever. Why is that? What lures us to the heartbreaking story? Perhaps it is the courageous way in which men of all classes stood aside to let their beloved wives and children go first in the lifeboats, knowing full well that it meant perishing in the icy waves. Perhaps it is purely the drama and excitement of the night. Or perhaps it is the fact that this grand ocean liner whose makers claimed was unsinkable actually struck an iceberg and went down, causing the deaths of nearly fifteen hundred people.

Click here to read the full post at Beacons of the Past.

19 August 2012

Sunday Blessings

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Thou, O Christ, are all I want,
Here more than all I find;
Raise the fallen, cheer the faint,
Heal the sick, and lead the blind.
Just and holy is Thy Name,
I am all unrighteousness;
False and full of sin I am;
Thou art full of truth and grace.

Plenteous grace with Thee is found,
Grace to cover all my sin;
Let the healing streams abound;
Make and keep me pure within.
Thou of life the fountain art,
Let me take of Thee;
Spring Thou up within my heart;
For all eternity.

— Verses 3 and 4 from "Jesus, Lover of My Soul" by Charles Wesley

Have a blessed Sabbath, ladies!
"Therefore will I give thanks unto thee, O Lord, among the heathen, and sing praises unto thy name." — Psalm 18:49

18 August 2012

Actually Finishing Something July — Week #4

This post is so late that the title contrasts oddly with the mid-August date. A few of you may not know this, but during the month of July, Katie challenged anyone who is writing-inclined to actually finish something during the summer, specifically July. We were allowed to set a personal goal for ourselves — it didn't have to be large — but our purpose was to buckle down, persevere, and meet that goal. It was a splendid adventure, and I would like to thank Katie for giving me the initiative to start my book, Rifles in the South Field. Though I did not reach my word count goal of 20,000 words, I still completed the hardest step: the beginning. And for me, that is enough.

the final questions

Were you able to reach and finish your July writing goal?

Not quite. But I did crack through that imposing layer of ice that always shells the beginning of a story, and I feel that alone was enough to make this endeavor successful for me.

If you did not fully complete your goal, were you able to make progress in your project? 

Yes, quite a bit. Though not all of it is written out in an orderly, chronological fashion, I have a great deal of inspiration for little plot twists shelved away in the murky depths of my writing notebooks.

What was the most difficult part of finishing something this July?

Sticking to the task at hand. Distraction can come easily to me, especially in the form of the Internet, and Pinterest alone can cause your writing time to sift through your fingers.

Did you maintain a writing schedule? How often did you write to meet your goal? Did you write into the wee hours of the morning, or wake up extra early to write?

I had hoped to wake early each morning to write, but the majority of my scribblings ended up being pounded out at night. Late at night, my mind will come alive with voices and stories and friends as dear to me as any in the real world (brownie points to anyone who can named that movie quote ;)).

List the three musical tracks that most inspired your writing this July. Tell us why they inspired you and how they fit with your story.

The entire film score for The Patriot. It sounds rather cliche, since both my book and the aforementioned film take place during the American Revolution, but it could practically be the soundtrack for Rifles.

"Safe & Sound" by Taylor Swift and the Civil Wars. This heartbreakingly sweet song perfectly describes the relationship between Susannah and her father. "Don't you dare look out your window, darlin' / Everything's on fire / The war outside our door keeps raging on . . ."

"Home" by Dara McLean. I danced to this song in a recital last year, and the lyrics could so easily apply to Susannah. After her father leaves, the combination of her missing him and the weight of her new duties threatens to crush her. This song is her plea, and the answer that gives her the strength to go on.

As you wrote, did you come across any component of your story that  surprised you? Plot-twists, Grand-New-Ideas!, new characters?

A new character named Kenneth rather pushed himself into my story. Right now he is keeping his identity hidden — he won't even reveal his last name! — but he's mysterious, and the little I know about him is vastly interesting. I can sense an adventure right at my fingertips, and excited butterflies are already coming to my stomach at the thought of discovering his history and motives.

Choose and share your three favorite pieces of descriptive writing you penned for the challenge.

A young girl — a woman, really — stood less than a few yards away, a rifle held awkwardly in her lily-white hands. She eyed him suspiciously, and the green in her eyes held all the defiance of a kitten that has been cornered by a large dog. She took in the wounds, the torn and dirty blouse, the musket lying nearby, but still she did not speak.

He was alone, and he knew not where he was. He could not move, and yet he felt no pain. The sky seemed to be made of black velvet, and it enveloped him in an embrace that had no sharp edges.

Her skin, barely more than gossamer over bones, did little to conceal the hot blood pulsing through her veins at that moment.

Share the meanest, most unfeeling line said by one of your characters from your July writing.

“I have made my decision, daughter. It is final. Do not beg me to change my mind, for you will only meet with disappointment.”
— Mr. Dixon

Pick one of your favorite characters from your July writing. Describe his/her wardrobe. Share how this character would dress is he/she were living in the year 2012 (or, if your character already dwells in the 2000's, describe how he/she would dress if he/she lived in the time period of your choice).

Leonard Williams is one of those characters who is entirely foppish and ridiculous (but not like Percy Blakeney. That manner of foppishness is acceptable). From the top of his powdered wig to the shining buckles on his black shoes, when it comes to this gentleman's wardrobe, his mantra appears to be "the more frills, the better." If you want proof, just take a look at one of his cravats. Placing Leonard in the twenty-first century would have rather dastardly affects; think skinny jeans, tennis shoes that defy normal proportions, and other flashy clothing of this manner. In other words, horrific. I'll spare you the gruesome details.

Pick your all-time favorite bit of July writing and share it with us. Tell us why the passage is your favorite.

He saw [the man] falling, the British infantryman raising his loaded rifle. Sunlight glinted off the steel barrel, concealing the next action from his eyes. He only felt the urge to move, and before his more practical side could object, he was throwing himself between the older man and that mocking rifle. The shot rang in his ears, and the bloody world around him shattered into bits, leaving nothing but an empty black abyss.
Rifles in the South Field

What I love about this scene is how spontaneously it came to me. My pen was practically on the heels of the idea, and the words seemed to spill onto the page before they had the chance to go through my head. At the time, I didn't even realize what a pivotal moment it would be and how it would affect the rest of the book. I just wrote . . . and this is what resulted.

Bonus Question! What was your favorite part of the Actually Finishing Something July Challenge?

Getting the initiative to start a new story, and riding the roller coaster of plotting. It has been a challenging and exciting experience, very difficult at times, but ultimately rewarding. I can't say I loved every minute of it, but at the end, I was glad I had accepted the challenge. It was a month well spent.

17 August 2012

Beloved Interview with a Beloved Girl.

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This morning I am being featured at Nela's blog, Beloved Star, for an author interview of sorts. This is a young lady who truly seeks to desire God's desires in every aspect of her life, especially her lovely blog. Nela's questions were very fun and interesting, and it was a delight to answer them for her. I hope you'll join us for warm chocolate chip cookies and a glass of milk while we discuss all the wonderful subjects that thrill writers' hearts. Nela is also having a giveaway in celebration of recently reaching 300 followers, but it ends on September 1st, so head on over and enter while you can!

sneak peak:

What do you hope to accomplish in writing?

Ultimately, I seek to tell the truth, whether that be the truth about human nature, the truth about the sinful world in which we live, or the ultimate Truth of Christianity. My motto for writing can be found in these words by one of my favorite authors, C.S. Lewis, from his book, Mere Christianity: “Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.”

Click here to read the full interview at Beloved Star.

P.S. Don't forget to guess where I'll be stopping tomorrow! :)

16 August 2012

Poem of the Week: The Rainy Day by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

thunderstorm.
pinterest: what makes life beautiful by michaela

The Rainy Day
By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The day is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the mouldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and dreary.

My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
My thoughts still cling to the mouldering Past,
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast,
And the days are dark and dreary.

Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.

Link up with your breathtaking bits of poetry below. :) And don't forget to guess where I'll be stopping on my blog tour tomorrow!

15 August 2012

Tea-Cakes and Strawberries and Cherries, Oh My!

strawberry shortcake
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There is something special about stopping at a blog written by a young lady who doesn't just say she's a Christian, but breathes the truth of the Gospel into everything she posts. One always leaves such a girl's site feeling renewed and refreshed. Fullness of Joy (answer "c" was correct!), authored by dear Joy, is just one of those blogs. (Not to mention the fact that Joy is a fantastic writer — in other words, her blog has it all.) Today she treated me to tea, fruit, and every manner of tea-cake you can imagine while we chatted about all sorts of lovely writerly subjects. I think Joy's been keeping an extra cake in the pantry, and the teapot is still half-full (though it won't remain so for long), so why don't you drop in and join us?

sneak peak:

How does your Christian faith affect your writing in general and is this novel overtly Christian, or is it written more subtly on Christian principles and influence?

I believe that my Christian faith plays a part in all of my writing, whether it is overt or not. My relationship with Jesus is such a key part of my life — it seems to make itself known no matter what I write. In relation to Violets Are Blue, the Bradshaws and Prescotts are openly Christian, and prayer, daily Scripture reading, and references to Biblical truths are not uncommon in their respective households. Although not all my books will be this way, they will all have Christian principles exemplified.

Click here to read the full interview at Fullness of Joy.

14 August 2012

Stopping to Smell the Roses.

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This afternoon I was featured at Rebekah's lovely little nook, The World of a Rhoswen White Rose (answer "a" was correct!). She had asked me to write up a guest post for her readers, and I was more than happy to oblige. I've been talking mainly about the hoards of writerly stereotypes and why they are, for the most part, untrue. If you've ever believed that writers are perfect and never struggle in their writing, I suggest you come join me over at Rebekah's blog — you just might change your mind.

sneak peak:

To be sure, I'm not exactly the dictionary definition of average. I prefer tea to coffee, pens and notebooks to company, I don't own an iPhone, and I'm not a huge fan of shopping malls. But when people at my tutorial think I (and all authors in general, for that matter) am perfect, I can't help but laugh hysterically. You should see me on the days when I stay up too late watching The Young Victoria and can barely drag myself out of bed. In those circumstances, my mind is consumed with the adorableness of Albert and Victoria, and whether or not I should have some toast with my breakfast. I certainly won't be offering up doses of authorly wisdom at the breakfast table, I assure you.

The average person enjoys the excuse that authors are more than human because it relieves him of any responsibility. If a writer possesses talent far beyond that of a typical human being, there's no hope for the rest of us. Writers are experts — that's why they craft stories so brilliantly. They were born to write literature that takes its reader's breath away, and the rest of us  just weren't. Therefore, we can't possibly be expected to produce such wonderful, poetic stories.

Click here to read the entire post at The World of a Rhoswen White Rose.


P.S. Don't forget to guess where I'll be stopping on the blog tour tomorrow!

11 August 2012

As for Me, Make Mine Tea.

pinterest: make mine tea
Today Miss Emily is hosting me for an interview over at her blog, A Thousand Words (those who guessed "c" were correct!). We've had a wonderful time conversing and getting to know each other over email, and during this time I learned that Emily does not find quite so much pleasure in a cup of tea as she does in a glass of cool pink lemonade. Though she chose to drink lemonade, she was kind enough to make me a cup of Irish Breakfast tea while we chatted about books, writing, and whether or not I would allow a movie to be made of Violets Are Blue. Be a dear and pop over to say hello, won't you?

sneak peak:

(6) Which would you recommend to aspiring authors: self-publishing or traditional publishing?

I think it depends on the writer. Self-publishing is perfect for new authors who want a simple, do-it-yourself approach to publishing, without too much commitment. If you are pursuing an active career as an author and are willing to put the time into writing and submitting query letters to various publishing houses, traditional publishing is probably the better approach for you. Organizing book signings and other promotional events is much harder when you self-publish, but doing promotion on your own for a while gives you a bit of an edge when seeking traditional publication. It all hinges on your personal motives and goals. For more information, I highly recommend 
this excellent article by Abigail J. Hartman, author of The Soldier's Cross.

 Click here to read the full interview at A Thousand Words.

10 August 2012

It's Not Every Day You Get to Visit Alberta.

Alberta
pinterest
. . . And if you want to be technical — a rather unimaginative prospect, in my opinion — I didn't exactly visit Alberta today. But I did stop by Alberta Girl (yes, "d" was correct!) for an interview and chat with my dear friend Gwen, and it was nearly as much fun as visiting her in person. Of course, this girl happens to be one of those wonderfully vibrant people who manages to capture her personality on the computer screen in just a few words, leaving the reader feeling as if she really is in Alberta and talking with Gwen in person. If you want to get a taste of Alberta and this Alberta girl without paying the price of an airplane ticket, why don't you stop by and say hello?

sneak peak:

What was your initial inspiration for writing this book?

I was very interested in the history of the Titanic, but I wanted to tell the age-old tragedy in a manner that was new, fresh, and different. I had noticed that many books tended to tell the story from the perspective of a passenger on the Titanic — certainly there was no need for another book of this type. I started wondering about the emotions of the people in America who had friends and family members on the doomed ocean liner. How did they feel when they heard the news? After that, everything seemed to fall into place.

Click here to read the full interview at Alberta Girl.

P.S. The guessing game for tomorrow is up! Click here for the chance to win an autographed copy of Violets Are Blue.

09 August 2012

Poem of the Week: The Run of the Downs by Rudyard Kipling

{Because my blog tour will be making stops every Friday during the month of August, my Poem of the Week link-up has been temporarily moved to Thursdays until September.}

This poem could practically be called Violet Bradshaw's heart-song, as it names many places she holds dear. Reading it was better than scrolling through pages of research; in a minute, my image of Vi's world back in England was widened and the colors intensified. It's a delicious poem with a soft strain of reluctance hidden behind the lines.

waves
pinterest: ocean by anna olivia

The Run of the Downs
By Rudyard Kipling

THE WEALD is good, the Downs are best – 
I'll give you the run of 'em, East to West.
Beachy Head and Winddoor Hill,
They were once and they are still.
Firle Mount Caburn and Mount Harry
Go back as far as sums '1l carry.
Ditchling Beacon and Chanctonbury Ring
They have looked on many a thing, 
And what those two have missed between 'em
I reckon Truleigh Hill has seen 'em. 
Highden, Bignor and Duncton Down
Knew Old England before the Crown.
Linch Down, Treyford and Sunwood
Knew Old England before the Flood;
And when you end on the Hampshire side – 
Butser's old as Time and Tide.
The Downs are sheep, the Weald is corn,
You be glad you are Sussex born! 

Link up with your poems below!

08 August 2012

A Trip Down Memory Lane.

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pinterest: dreamy and whimsical

Before I was an official novel-writer, I journaled. I journaled a lot. Writing about my daily activities each night truly helped to improve the quality of my writing, and to this day, I love looking back at old journal entries from when I was but six or seven years old and watching the progression. Today, you get to hear more about how I first started journaling and where it took me at the darling Amy Dashwood's site, Yet Another Period Drama Blog (those who guessed "b" were correct!). Amy herself has authored a book titled Only a Novel, and it would be a novel idea to read some of her snippets once you are finished reading the guest post.

sneak peak:

The best advice I have been given on writing is to keep doing it. Just like a person cannot become a professional dancer solely through watching The Nutracker repeatedly, a writer will never grow unless he actually begins to put pen to paper. Journaling is the simplest step with which to begin, because it requires little invention on your own part (yes, I know that sounds terribly dull on the surface, but we all have to begin somewhere).

It was a warm day in late spring . . .

Click here to read the full post at Yet Another Period Drama Blog.

P.S. Don't forget to guess where I'll be stopping tomorrow!

07 August 2012

Book Review: Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton

Another book that I was required to read over summer break. Another volume at which I stared daggers every time it forced me to put down my beloved Count of Monte Cristo. Another paperback that was carried around wherever I went, in the hopes I would finish just a few pages in the van, but was sadly ignored because the topic was so dull to me. And then, another book that I was forced to devour in sixty-page bites in a matter of days because of the fast-approaching deadline. I was close to my end goal, of course . . . but did I like it? Certainly not.

And then, as proof that God really does have a sense of humor, it turned out to be one of those few books that made me weep buckets at the end. Remember the rule about not judging books by their covers? *ahem* Apparently I still haven't learned my lesson.

Cry, the Beloved Country
By Alan Paton
*Summary via Goodreads.com

"Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that is the inheritor of our fear. Let him not love the earth too deeply. Let him not laugh too gladly when the water runs through his fingers, nor stand too silent when the setting sun makes red the veld with fire. Let him not be too moved when the birds of his land are singing, nor give too much of his heart to a mountain or valley. For fear will rob him of all if he gives too much."

Cry, the Beloved Country is the deeply moving story of the Zulu pastor Stephen Kumalo and his son, Absalom, set against the background of a land and a people riven by racial injustice. Remarkable for its lyricism, unforgettable for character and incident, Cry, the Beloved Country is a classic work of love and hope, courage and endurance, born of the dignity of man.

My Thoughts: Because of the limited, brief dialogue, I formed the fast opinion that this book was flat and dull. But what I took for mundanity is really the beauty of Paton's prose. This novel is lyrical, a never-ending song that is not just contained within these three-hundred pages, but has been playing far before the beginning of the novel and continues on long after the closing words. The summary above hardly does it justice. Cry, the Beloved Country is a tale of tragedy, a tale of fathers and sons, a warning, a lament. It hardly reaches a point of joy, and yet the words and story are intermingled with such beauty that it tears at your heart.

CBC tells the story of Stephen Kumalo and his son, Absalom, who goes to Johannesburg and is corrupted there by immoral society. It tells the story of James Jarvis, a prosperous white farmer who barely understands his son Arthur's interest in native Africans' rights. At the heart of it, it is the story of South Africa, a story of that beloved country's heart-wrenching cry during a not so beautiful time in its history. Perhaps the most commendable part of CBC is that it neither praises the white man's dominance nor honors the protesting black men. Both have the ability to act morally and upright, if they so choose, but both can just as easily be ruined by greed or the desire for vengeance. 

Pros: It's one of the most amazing, beautiful, and tragic stories I've ever read. I essentially listed all the pros above — in fact, there's very little to dislike about this novel. Stephen Kumalo is a perfect example of how Christians are meant to live. He doesn't just preach the Word; he truly lives his faith. Repeatedly, he draws strength through prayer, reading the Bible, and crying out to the Lord. 

Cons: The story is so tragic and heartbreaking that it can be difficult to read at times. I believe there are a few mild swear words, but not enough to cause worry. A young girl becomes pregnant out of wedlock, and prostitution is briefly mentioned, though not in detail. All in all, it's certainly a book for mature readers.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
I recommend this book for ages 14+

A Bit O' Reading For the Day:
“But there is only one thing that has power completely, and this is love. Because when a man loves, he seeks no power, and therefore he has power.” ― Cry, the Beloved Country
P.S. Don't forget to guess where I'll be stopping on my blog tour tomorrow!

06 August 2012

Madam, You Have Been Penslain.

I <3 this!!!
pinterest: dreamy and whimsical

Perhaps these words are not ones spoken to me by a living human being, but they certainly seem to echo through my head every time I visit Jenny Freitag's writing blog, The Penslayer (answer "a" was correct!). She is not a penslayer in name only, and continues to astonish me with her splendid excerpts of Adamantine and Plenilune (are those not captivating titles?). True to her form, the questions Jenny gave me for the interview were witty and well-researched, and I had a lot of fun coming up with creative answers. Be sure to venture over, but not before sharpening the nib on your quill.

sneak peak:

“The Weald is good, the Downs are best— / I’ll give you the run of ‘em, East to West. / Beachy Head and Winddoor Hill, / They were once and they are still,” said Rudyard Kipling.  It must have been really hard for Violet to leave Eastbourne and the beautiful Sussex coast, but which place stole your heart most as you wrote: Sussex or America?

I was surprised at how easily I fell in love with Eastbourne, a place that was only supposed to fill the beginning pages of my book. But if I had paused to think on the matter for a moment, it would not have been so shocking. In truth, I have but a passing interest in great cities in general and New York City in particular. Touring London, Rome, and Paris would be the surreal fulfillment of a lifelong dream, but I wouldn’t want to call those cities home. They hold charm for me only in theory; once you are physically there, the noise and dirt and traffic rather block out any perceived dream you formerly held. But the ocean . . . oh, to call the seaside home! In Edna St. Vincent Millay’s words, “I have a need of water near.”

Click here to read the full interview at The Penslayer.

05 August 2012

Sunday Blessings

pinterest: dreamy and whimsical

Though great our sins and sore our woes
His grace much more aboundeth;
His helping love no limit knows,
Our upmost need it soundeth.
Our Shepherd good and true is He,
Who will at last His Israel free.

— Excerpt from "Psalm 130 (From the Depths of Woe)" by Martin Luther

Have a blessed Sunday, ladies!
"If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you." — Psalm 130:3-4
P.S. Don't forget to guess where I'll be stopping on my blog tour tomorrow!

04 August 2012

'Twas a Pleasant Lark.


pinterest: i am too long away from water

My schedule for today includes a stop at Larkin's inglenook, Libri — Lost in Words, for a guest post. (For those of you who guessed "c" in the giveaway post, you were correct!). Larkin is heading off on a wonderful road trip today, and she asked me to write up a guest post for her while she was gone. We've been discussing writer's block, that horrid disease that strikes every writer at some point in his or her career. Surprisingly enough, forcing the words when they don't come naturally is not the answer. What is the answer, then? Read the post and find out. ;)

sneak peak:

For a while, it's breathtaking. You're tempest tossed on the seas of Inspiration, barely maintaining your grip on the little that is left of your ship called Reason. Your clothes may be tattered, and your stomach reminds you (in no uncertain terms) that you haven't eaten for days, but such trivial matters barely faze you. Bits of plot are always meeting together in your head like the foaming waves around you, and you can't help but get caught up in the excitement of it all.

But suddenly, the waves begin to slow from crashing barriers to gentle ripples. No longer does lightning flash through the sky, illuminating your world with its spirit and fire; no more does thunder groan like an old man rising from a deep sleep. You raise your wet head and swipe the saltwater from your eyes, trying to see where you've landed. And then you see it. A sandbar. You're trapped. And all you can do is helplessly watch as the caressing waves wash away from you, only pausing to gently kiss the edge of the bar every once in a while.

What now?

Click here to read the full post at Libri.

03 August 2012

Update on the VAB giveaway.

{Yes, I know I'm posting twice on one day . . . you won't tell, right? Of course right!}

There has been a slight change in the rules for my giveaway. I realized that it may be a bit too difficult for someone to madly guess random blogs, as if he were throwing darts at a target while blindfolded. The odds of hitting upon the right blog once — much less several times — are not really in anybody's favor. So, I've decided to make the game a bit easier, and quite a lot more fun (at least I think so). Here's how it's going to work:

The day before (and only the day before) each of my blog tour stops, you can go to the giveaway post to guess where I'll be stopping the next day. Underneath the next day's date, I will have listed the names of three or four different blogs. Pick the answer you believe to be correct, and send it to me in an email (literarylaneblog{at}gmail{dot}com). Sound simple enough? Remember, as soon as the location is revealed, the voting closes. So you have to stop by on the day before! If it's helpful, you can write down the dates of my stops, which are all listed in that post.

Have fun guessing, ladies!

Another Stop Along the Way

{via pinterest}

Today I am making a stop at Näna's delightful nook in cyberspace, By the Way. She was kind enough to host me for a review and a mini interview. I've known Näna for over two years now, and she can turn the simplest of occasions into an unforgettable story. (Not to mention she's a fabulous party planner, though she would never own it.) She asked some wonderful questions, and I only hope my answers did them justice. We've been discussing Violets Are Blue a great deal, so hop on over and join us! Who knows? You might learn something new . . .

sneak peak:

Where/when did you first get the idea to write a book?

I was particularly interested in the story of the Titanic during the summer of 2010 (some might call it an obsession). I had read the books about the tragic sinking; now I wanted to write one for myself. But the problem was that there were already far too many novels, journals, and other stories written about characters who were on the ship itself. I desired to write about the Titanic, but there was no need for another book of this manner. We all know how the story of the Titanic ends: how could I rewrite that age-old tale in a way that was new and interesting?


Click here to read the whole post at By the Way.
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