Thursday, October 29, 2015

Gareth Interview

Time for Gareth's interview! (What's that? It's about time? Nonsense, it hasn't been a long time at all...it's still the same month I posted the bio, anyway....haha, yeah, it's been a long time.) Here goes. I talk in black. Gareth talks in green.

Hey, Gareth. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?

Uh-uh. I'm just on my way out to feed the chickens, so I don't mind.

Why do you want to be a knight so much?

Well, who wouldn't want to be a knight? They're brave and noble and strong and heroic, and they get to do so many great and valorous things! It's much better than sitting at home doing chores or milking a cow. *grimaces*

How old are you?

Fifteen. I think that's old enough to be a knight, don't you? Gawain was already a squire in King Arthur's service at my age. So was Mordred.

What kind of adventures do you hope to have?

Why, great and glorious ones, of course. Like the ones Gawain talks about. I want to fight ogres and slay dragons and outsmart giants - though I guess that's not saying much - and go on quests for enchanted treasure and protect all that is right and good and rescue fair maidens from certain death.

What are you best at?

Uh - I'm pretty good at swordplay. At least, Gawain says I am. And he wouldn't lie. I'm good with horses, too.

Why won't your mother let you become a knight?

*shrugs* I've been asking that same question for the last three years. I guess it's because she'd miss me if I was gone. I'm the last son she has at home, you know. She doesn't have anyone else to keep her company or do the chores or help take care of Father. I guess I can't blame her. But...gee, she could find some way to get along without me! Maybe I should just stop doing chores and then she won't mind having me gone...

How long have you wanted to be a knight?

Ever since I can remember. I've been surrounded by knights and knighthood for all my life. There's Gawain - Gawain's one of the greatest knights of the Round Table, almost as good as Lancelot himself. And Mordred - Mordred's not much to speak of, but at least he's a knight. Even Father was a knight, a long time ago. And - well, King Arthur's my uncle. Practically every man in my family has been a knight. *under his breath* Sometimes I think Mother's using me as the daughter she's never had.

What's your least favorite chore?

*grimaces* Dishes. All the other ones are pretty bad, too, but dishes are the worst.

Alright, Gareth, that'll be all. You can go do your chores now.

Now that you've met Gareth, I've got big news: I have started work on my next book in that silly space series of mine, the sequel to The Prince's Pendant. And I am very excited about it. :) For the next interview, I am going to temporarily change the government of this blog and make it into a dictatorship rather than a democracy. In other words - I'm deciding who the next interview subject will be. :) And...I think I will keep that little bit of information a secret until I post the next bio. :)

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Strains of Patriotism - You're a Grand Old Flag

Saturday! Time for another patriotic post!

This week's song is an extremely fun one - short and sweet, with a fast tempo, which means it's really tempting to just sing over...and over...and over again. Listen to it on Youtube and sing it and sing it and sing it!

You're A Grand Old Flag
By George M. Cohan

You're a grand old flag,
You're a high-flying flag,
And forever in peace may you wave.
You're the emblem of the land I love,
The home of the free and the brave.
Ev'ry heart beats true
'Neath the Red, White and Blue,
Where there's never a boast or brag.
But should auld acquaintance be forgot,
Keep your eye on the grand old flag.
Image result for american flag

Friday, October 9, 2015

Gareth Bio


Gareth

Now on the threshold of manhood, all Gareth wants is to be a knight. He's pretty sure he knows exactly what knighthood means, too. After all, there has never been a time in his life when he was not surrounded by tales of heroic deeds and examples of chivalrous behavior. His father was a knight, his brothers are knights, and his uncle Arthur is not only a knight but the best of all knights, King Arthur himself. The way Gareth sees it, he ought to be a knight, too.
However, there is one problem: Gareth's mother. Now, please do not misunderstand. Gareth loves his mother dearly and admires her for her unswerving devotion to her family. After all, she has spent her entire life caring for an invalid husband and bringing up three wild boys all on her own - not to mention all the housework. But he does get aggravated with her at times, for she will not hear of him leaving the farm to join his brothers at Camelot. And if he can't ever go to Camelot...how will he ever be a knight of the Round Table?
Have any questions for Gareth? Go ahead and post them in the comments, and I'll get an interview up before long!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Curios for Writers - Tools for Spinning

It's an established fact: writers are curious people. Curious, meaning each one is a curiosity, but also curious, meaning they want to know things.

Now that I'm starting to dabble in historical fiction, I've realized that the more serious I am with my stories, the more trivial knowledge I'm going to have to store up. Hardly a page into my Arthurian legend retelling, I mentioned a spinning wheel...and in another paragraph, found myself asking just exactly what a spinning wheel was. As I progress in my writing journey, I thought it'd be cool to keep track of what I learn, not just in my head where it will surely get lost, but filed away somewhere. And what better place to document such things than in a blog?

So here it is: my list of writer's curios, which I intend to add onto in the days and months ahead. Enjoy!

Curio #1: The Spinning Wheel

What is it?
It's a tool used for making fleece into yarn. (Not into cloth, as I had some vague idea of its doing before looking it up...) Historically, it didn't come into the European picture until the 1200s sometime. (Which means it probably won't work for my early Middle Ages Arthurian legend...darn.)

What does it look like?
Like this:

     Image result for spinning wheel

What does it sound like?
It doesn't sound very pleasant, actually. I had formulated some idea (I think due to the wonderful old book The Princess and Curdie) about a gentle hum....but actually the spinning wheel makes a dull, heavy grating noise. Think a big kitchen chair getting dragged across the floor. It isn't continuous, either - it grinds for a few seconds, pauses for a few seconds, and then grinds again. Grurrrr....grurrrr....grurrrr. I know because I looked it up on Youtube. :)

Curio #2:The Spindle and Distaff

What is it?
Well, if you can't use a spinning wheel, you naturally have to have something to make yarn with. :) This is a pair of hand-held tools rather than that big old wheel. It's a much older invention than the spinning wheel is....which means I can use it in my story! Yay! (But it also doesn't make a sound, the way the spinning wheel does.....darn again.)

What does it look like?
Like this:
               

How does it work?


Well, the distaff holds a clump of fleece - sort of a cloud of fluff that doesn't have any use yet. :) The spindle is this nifty little thingy-ma-bob that's basically a stick to wind the thread onto. You pull a bit of fleece from the distaff and use the spindle to twist it into thread; then, you wind the length of new thread onto the spindle and keep on going.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

St. Francis of Assisi

Today is the feast of St. Francis of Assisi! Hooray!
This holy man is quite possibly one of the most popular saints ever. Usually, when we think of him, we might imagine him surrounded by animals or talking to the birds. This is because St. Francis had a great love for God's creation and is a beautiful and fitting way to think of him.
However, St. Francis was more than just a man who loved nature. He was devoted, first and foremost, to God, and it is out of this love that all his other loves sprang.
Including his love for Lady Poverty.
 

 
Who was Lady Poverty? Lady Poverty was St. Francis' way of seeing the virtue of detachment from worldly goods - dependence on God, and not on earthly riches. When he was a young man and still rather attached to the things of earth, like riches and parties and raucous young friends, he had a vision of this beautiful lady and fell desperately in love with her. As a result of this vision, he gave up everything he owned and followed Christ without reserve for the rest of his life.
Dante describes this very well in his Divine Comedy:
 
And unto her he pledged his wedded faith
In spiritual court and
coram patre too,
And loved her more each day that he drew breath
(Sayers, Paradiso, Canto XI, lines 61-63).
 
St. Francis was not the first lover of Lady Poverty, however. Christ Himself loved her long before anyone else could see any beauty in her. Dante says of Poverty's love for Christ,
 
Naught it availed that she so constant was,
And so courageous, that when Mary stayed
Below, she leapt with Christ upon the cross
(Sayers, Paradiso, Canto XI, lines 70-72).
 
Christ had a great love for Poverty - he stayed close to her all through his life, having no place to lay his head at night. (See Matthew 8:20.) At the beginning of His life, He was laid in a manger full of straw for a bed; at the end of His life, He was stretched out on a rough wooden cross, as poor as the day He came into the world. St. Francis followed Christ's radical example by giving up absolutely everything.
 
What about us? Are we willing to give up all we have for God? We might not be called to walk the earth clad in naught but a pair of sandals and a rough brown robe, but would we be willing to if God asked it of us? Are we willing to share the things we have with those in need? More importantly, are we willing to share our love with those in need? They might not look like the lepers St. Francis helped - chances are they'll show up as a familiar face, maybe a pesky little brother or an annoying next-door neighbor. Are we channels of Christ's love and peace to them, as St. Francis would have been?
 
How much do we love Lady Poverty?
 
Dear St. Francis, pray for us to be like you!
 
 
 
 
 

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Strains of Patriotism - The Star-Spangled Banner

I love this country. Granted, it's got some problems. Make that a lot of problems. But every time the Fourth of July comes around, every time I see Old Glory waving in all her majestic splendor on high, and every time I hear a strain of patriotic music, I'm seized with a fit of patriotism that makes me want to wear red, white, and blue every day.

Is there anything wrong with this? Of course not! Just because our country is sick does not mean we should abandon her. Indeed, this is the time when we should most steadfastly stand by her - not by her flaws and imperfections, but by America herself, the true America which our founding fathers envisioned, the land of the free and the home of the brave. For it is only through the fire of virtuous patriotism that we can ever hope to burn away the many ugly blots which stain our country's flag and make it into the nation we owe our allegiance to.

With that said, I've decided to encourage this little flame of enthusiasm to grow and spread by posting a patriotic song or poem once a week. (Just watch: next Saturday I'll completely forget I ever made such a resolution....)

Here we go!

First up: the National Anthem! Oh, this is such a spectacular song, and it's so much more than just the first verse. My favorite part is the second stanza - so powerful and exultant! Beautiful!

The Star-Spangled Banner

Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro' the perilous fight'
O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming.
And the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
 
On the shore dimly seen, thro' the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream;
'Tis the star-spangled banner: oh, long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
 
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash'd out their foul footstep's pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
 
Oh, thus be it ever when free men shall stand,
Between their loved homes and the war's desolation;
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land
Praise the Power that has made and preserved us as a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust";
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Christina's Interview

Here is my interview of my character Christina Tenth. (News flash: on September 30, I finished my beloved scatterbrained concoction of a book, The Prince's Pendant! It's over 250 pages long, illustrated with pictures from some dear younger siblings, and very, very messy. I'm ecstatic.) Enjoy!

*setting: a dingy little shop, illuminated by one weak light bulb, and smelling of polished metal and oily rags. I stand in one corner, looking about awkwardly. Enter Christina, her hands on her hips, her face smeared with black, and wisps of her red hair, having escaped from her pony tail, hanging loosely about her face. I walk forward to greet her.*

Me: Christina! Thank you for taking the time to see me. I -

Christina: I don't have much time. What do you want?

Me: *smiles uncomfortably* The interview?

Christina: Oh. Yeah. Well, go ahead and hurry up, the shop's busy as anything today.

Me: Alright, I'll try. How many people are in your family?

Christina: Seven. My mom, my dad, my four older brothers, and me.

Me: Okay....what's your dream?

Christina: *crosses arms and raises one eyebrow* My dream?

Me: Yeah, you know....what you want to do with your life.

Christina: This is even more ridiculous than I thought.

Me: Can you just answer the question?

Christina: Don't have one. Dreams are for people with time on their hands. I don't dream, I work.

Me: What's your greatest fear?

Christina: *sighs, rolls eyes* That Dad'll come in and catch me slacking work to talk to some strange girl asking impractical questions. Can we get on with it?

Me: Uh...who do you admire most?

Christina: Anyone who can look at a flier, tell you what's wrong with it, and fix it in nothin' flat.

Me: *under my breath* Boy, have we got fliers on the brain....

Christina: It's easy to have them on the brain when that's all you see day after day. What's the next question?

Me: Do you have a secret talent?

Christina: *tosses head proudly, then glances around. Leans forward and says in a low voice:* I can sing.

Me: Really? *Christina nods, with something like a smile* Interesting...ah, how perfect. The next question is: do you like music?

Christina: *shrugs* I don't have anything against it. 'Course, the boys don't like it while they're working, so I don't hear much of it.

Me: Do you like animals?

Christina: I guess. Don't see too many of them in the city.

Me: What's your life goal?

Christina: *shrugs* Work in the shop and be useful.

Me: When did you first start helping in the family business?

Christina: I've been helping out in the shop as long as I can remember. I think I knew the parts of an engine before I knew my ABCs.

Me: Did you ever want to do anything else for a career?

Christina: No.

Me: You sure about that?

Christina: *brow wrinkles in either annoyance or confusion* Look, why do you want to know all this?

Me: Um....it's kinda...hard to explain.....

Voice (from the other room of the shop): Christina!

Christina: That's Dad. I've gotta go. *strides out of the room*

Okay, so there's Christina! I hope you've enjoyed meeting her. :)

Since I've finished writing this book and am going to take a break from these characters for a while, I think I'll give you a new choice of people to vote for. Hmm....this is going to be a little tricky, since I'm stealing these characters from Arthurian legend!

For the next bio, you may vote for:
Gareth (protagonist)
 Bellicent (his mother)
or
Gawain (his brother)