Friday, October 28, 2016

Dual Character Inquisition Tag

Much to my delight, I have been tagged for the brand-new Dual Character Inquisition Tag by Anna @ Swords and Quills! Thanks, Anna!

The idea of this tag is to take two characters from your NaNo project (or any project!) and answer 10 random questions about them.


Now, it may have been the word "Inquisition" in the tag title, but for some reason I got the idea that it would be really fun to interrogate my characters themselves in this tag. So. In this post I intend to, not only tell you about, but introduce you personally to, my characters Ricky Hartford and Michael Mulligan, from my NaNo project The Time Traveling League.

Coast Guardsman and his K-9 Partner. Beach Patrol WW2. I love that dog!:

Michael Mulligan is in the Coast Guard,
like this fella here. I don't know if he has
a dog...but I hope so!

Artist's model of "The Aviator" by sculptor Augustus Lukeman, around 1925…:
And Ricky Hartford's a WWI airman.
No, he doesn't have angel wings -
not even in a figurative sense -
but I couldn't resist using this picture.

Me: So, you guys have been friends for awhile. How did you meet?

Ricky: It's a funny story, actually. We both stumbled into the Time Tunnel at the same time.

Me: Time, in the Time Tunnel? I thought it was a kinda timeless place.

Ricky: No way am I explaining that right now. Besides, you understand it as well as I do. Anyway. No sooner did I start exploring than I came across this scared little midshipman shaking in his boots.

Michael: I'm in the coast guard, not the navy. And I was not shaking in my boots. I was reasonably concerned.

Ricky: Sure.

Michael: You would've been, too, if you'd had any sense of responsibility.

Me: Describe yourself in one word. Michael?

Michael: *thinks for a moment* Conscientious.

Me: Ricky?

Ricky: A scamp.

Me: Now describe each other in one word.

Michael: *stares at Ricky for a moment* I think he summed it up pretty well. He's a scamp.

Ricky: *grins* Michael's a worrywart.

*Michael raises an eyebrow, but says nothing*

Me: You're both eligible young men. Have you any particular young lady waiting for you at home?

Michael: *smiles* Boy, do I.

Ricky: Boy, don't I.

Michael: He's got five.

Ricky: No, I don't. Honor bright. I'm not that much of a scamp.

Michael: A nice girl like Helen would do you a lot of good, Ricky.

Ricky: No thanks. Too busy with krauts to bother with girls right now.

Michael: Aren't we all?

Me: Speaking of the war. What's one thing you like about being in the service?

Ricky: Flying! Where else would I get to have wings?

"Winged Victory" by Terry Jones:
Image not mine.

Michael: I like knowing I'm doing my duty.

Ricky: Oh, come on, Mulligan. Isn't there anything fun about being in the navy?

Michael: The coast guard. And have you seen Hatteras Island? There are no roads. It's the middle of nowhere. Not that it's not growing on me.

Me: Do you have any siblings?

Ricky: Well, I've got two sisters who are regular fussbudgets. Nice fussbudgets, though. One's in the Red Cross. The older one's married with two kids.

WWI Nurse Uniform.:
Image not mine.

Michael: Three younger brothers and two sisters, one older and one younger. They're all good letter-writers.

Me: Name one thing you miss about the pre-war days.

Michael: Helen.

Ricky: Knowing I'd be alive in the morning.

Me: Oh, Ricky!

Ricky: Now, don't go feeling sorry for me. I like the risk. It just gets old sometimes.

Me: It's too late; I'm sorry for you. Let's do something lighter. What do you think of animals?

Michael: I like dogs and horses. Could do without cats. And seagulls. Sandpipers are okay, though.

Ricky: Well, I like cats. And seagulls, too. I don't think there's an animal I don't like. Except for mosquitos.

Me: Ugh, mosquitos are the worst! What are your plans for after the war?

Michael: Marry Helen and start a family. I've got a job in the family business for starters, so I'll be able to take care of them.

Life of a 50s Housewife:
Image not mine.

Ricky: Haven't thought that far yet.

Me: What's your favorite dessert?

Michael: Ice cream. Preferably a hot fudge sundae with a cherry on top. From the ice cream parlor back home.

Have ice cream in the freezer just in case you want to whip up a few ice cream sundaes <3 Chocolate, strawberry, carmel syrups, whipped cream, nuts, a couple bananas? Make banana splits!:
Image not mine.

Ricky: Chocolate cake, slathered in about three inches of icing. My kid sister's is the best.

Me: What are some of your intellectual strengths and weaknesses? Books? Mathematics? Literature? Understanding people? Strategy?

Ricky: I always hated reading and writing in school. Math was a little better. I'm most comfortable working with my hands, actually doing things. Like flying. I picked that up pretty quick.

Michael: I'm pretty good at rote memorization. Hardly ever missed a history date or a spelling word. When it comes to the stuff like literature, though, I'm lost. I can't keep track of a complicated storyline to save my life. I need something straightforward and simple.

Me: Gee, I don't know if I'd get along well with you guys, after all. Reading and writing is my life!

Well, look at that! There's ten questions already. (Well, eleven, technically. But "describe yourself in one word" and "describe each other in one word" was a two-part question.) I'll let you get back to Time-Traveling League stuff, boys. What do you do in the Time Traveling League, after all? Don't answer that; I'll find out soon enough!

I hope you've enjoyed meeting Michael Mulligan and Ricky Hartford! I certainly enjoyed introducing them to you (and to myself, really). Thanks again for this "splendiferous" tag, Anna!

I tag:
And whoever else wants to join in!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Totally Should've Book Tag

Well! "When it rains, it pours" can apparently be applied to tags as well as to life in general. A couple of weeks ago I was tagged for the Totally Should've Book Tag by Anna @ Light From the Shadows, and now suddenly I'm drowning in tags. Tags that stare me down from my list of drafts with glaring eyes and mutter, "Finish us or we will finish you..."

Ahem. I'm apparently very dramatic today. (But then, when am I not?) Also I don't think three tags are really capable of drowning me.

And besides, tags are really fun! Thanks so much for this one, Anna!

Totally should've gotten a sequel:

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIM. I need to see whether it was Justin or not...

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien.  This book made me love science fiction from a very early age.  It also taught me that the movie made about the book is never as good as when you pictured it in your head as you read. -Heidi:
Eek, this is the cover of the library copy I had when I first read this book.
It's so beautiful I need to read it again...
I also would've liked to see a sequel to Enemy Brothers. But only because I loved the characters so much. The story itself ended perfectly, and I wouldn't want to mar that perfection by adding another book.

Enemy Brothers:

Totally should've had a spin-off series:

The Chronicles of Narnia. That is to say, 7 children's fantasy books by C. S. Lewis is hardly enough and I've always longed to see what was in those other pools in the Wood Between the Worlds...

The chronicles of Narnia CS Lewis KM

An author who should totally write more books:

Heheh. I mostly read books by dead authors. Maybe Carmen Marcaux? I know the writing in Arms of Love could've been better, and I haven't even read Surrender, but the world needs these kinds of stories.

Arms of Love--awesome book!  A must read for high schoolers, but adults will also love it!  Surrender is the sequel.:

And ooh! All my writing friends. They count as authors, right??

A character who totally should've ended up with someone else:

Aouda, from Around the World in Eighty Days. I might've been quite a few years younger and naiver when I read this, but I still had very strong feelings regarding her relationship with Phileas Fogg. I mean, what was so great about Phileas Fogg??? Why would her gratitude (and eventually love) fall on him? It was Passepartout who thought up a daring scheme and risked his life to save her! Phileas only risked winning a stupid wager, for Pete's sake. And he had about as much emotion as a clam.

Classic adventure novel by the French writer Jules Verne, published in 1873. In the story, Phileas Fogg of London and his newly employed French valet Passepartout attempt to circumnavigate the world in 80 days on a £20,000 wager (roughly £1.6 million today) set by his friends at the Reform Club. It is one of Verne's most acclaimed works.:

Totally should've ended differently:

The Chronicles of Prydain. The High King tore my heart out. I would give my appendix to see that book end differently.

I loved this one, except....Lloyd Alexander, why did you have to make it end that way??? And WHY did you kill off Prince Rhun????:

Totally should have a movie franchise:

The Tom Playfair series! Oh, they would make such awesome movies. Especially that scene on the stormy lake from Harry Dee. I just - it wouldn't even matter to me if they mixed all three books together in one movie, as long as they kept the characters as awesome as they are and respected the original feel of the story. 

Totally should've had a TV show:

A TV show! What a delightful idea! Can I order 500 TV shows based on all my favorite books, please?

The thought just crossed my mind that The Scarlet Pimpernel would make a good one. Because - French Revolution. Aristocrats in jail. The League of the Scarlet Pimpernel. The Scarlet Pimpernel himself. Guillotines. Disguises. Spies. What could make for a better TV show?

The Scarlet Pimpernel. I just got done reading this book, and it was AMAZING. Warning: The movies do not do the book justice.:

I mean, it could basically be like a serious version of Hogan's Heroes set in the 1700s. It would be awesome.

Carter disguised as General "Tiger" Weidler of the Russian Front, and Colonel…:

Totally should've had only one point of view:

Flight of Eagles, by Jack Higgins. This book could've benefited from a lot of things (more showing rather than telling, the deletion of a few totally unnecessary inappropriate paragraphs, more interior monologue, etc., etc.), but limiting it to at most two points of view would've helped it a lot.

Okay, so. I only read the condensed version of this. And it was....awful. I mean, the premise was good, but the writing itself was awful and there were a few inappropriate parts. Worst book I've read this year.:

Totally should have a cover change:

Tom Playfair, Percy Wynn, and Harry Dee. These books are so stupendous, and they deserve MUCH better covers than the ones they currently have. I mean....does that boy look like a nice person to you? He's always looked like a bully to me. Not my picture of Tom, at all.

Tom Playfair = one of the best books ever. If you have not read this book, your life is incomplete.: Percy!! I love this book soo much! It's so GOOD! (In every sense of the word!!) And Tom has matured into such a brave young man from Book 1. Plus Percy is so sweet and good and brave...: Tom and Percy and Harry! They grew up! I could cry!:

Totally should have kept the original covers:

Oh, I don't know. I'm guessing there are some newer editions of the Narnia books that I wouldn't like. I'm never too crazy about books with pictures of the movie on the front. Oh, like Because of Winn Dixie. My copy of Because of Winn Dixie has a movie picture as the cover, and I don't mind it because I saw the movie before reading the book, but I would much prefer the non-movie version.

Kate DiCamillo’s fi rst published novel, like Winn-Dixie himself, immediately  proved to be a keeper — a New York Times bestseller, a Newbery Honor winner, the inspiration for a popular film, and most especially, a cherished classic that touches the hearts of readers of all ages.:               Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo ... hey you...yes this book...:

Totally should've stopped at book one:

I'm gonna go with Little Women for this one. Even though I love Little Men and Jo's Boys. I just find it a bit depressing to reread Little Women and think of what happens to...certain characters...

So it's not a "totally should've." It's just a "maybe should've."

The book that started my love for reading and is, therefore, my favorite book of all time.:

I totally should've stopped reading:

I actually did stop reading Homeport, by Nora Roberts. It just seemed like it was heading in a risque direction. I probably read a little too far. As a matter of fact, I probably should've known better than to start it.

Homeport by: Nora Roberts:
Annnd if I had seen that quote they've got
there I probably wouldn't have started it...

Totally should not have prejudged:

Uh. I prejudge everything that's not a classic. Or at least, I pretend to prejudge everything that's not a classic.

Take the Prydain Chronicles, for example. When Anna first read them and talked about how great they were, I acted all disinterested and priggish. But secretly I was thinking that they looked really cool....

The Chronicles of Prydain: (1) The Book of Three; (2) The Black Cauldron; (3) The Castle of Llyr; (4) Taran Wanderer; (5) The High King BY Lloyd Alexander:

And, oh, I prejudged The Song of Roland. Or at least, I thought it would be totally different than it was. Definitely had no idea, when we were unpacking that box of schoolbooks, that it would be one of my favorite  my very favorite piece of medieval literature.

The Song of Roland by Dorothy L. Sayers
Looks like a regular old classic, right?
Well! There's my slapped-together response to the Totally Should've Book Tag. 

On my part, I tag:

And whoever else wants to participate! (And yes, that means you, dear random blogger who just stumbled across this post on accident, and you, dear other random person who doesn't have a blog and would like to participate in the comments or wherever. Just let me know where your post is so I can see it!) 

Of course, there's no obligation, just an invitation. :)

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Catholicism Explained - Saints

I can't believe I got around to doing a Catholicism Explained post today! I'd been neglecting it sorely. :'(

So, I've been playing with a few ideas for making this feature better, and I'm curious what you think. For one thing, I'd like each CE post to be less of a defense and more of an introduction. That way each post could be shorter (and probably, in all honesty, much more consistent) and act primarily as a spark for discussion in the comments section. If a conversation in the comments section got in-depth enough, we could take that conversation as a jumping-off point for the next CE post. What do you think? Tell me in the comments!

And now let's get on to our discussion. :) I thought that since we just finished left off a month or two ago with the end of our Marian posts, moving on to saints would be a logical transition.


I'm super excited! Today, October 16, 2016, Blessed Jose Sanchez del Rio is being canonized. That means from today on, he won't be known as Blessed Jose, but as Saint Jose.

I was first introduced to Jose in the novel/fictionalized account Blessed Jose: Boy Cristero Martyr by Fr. Kevin McKenzie. This book positively captivated me. Jose's story was truly inspiring - and "inspiring" is a word I don't use often for fear of sounding cheesy.

Jose lived in Mexico during the 1920s - a time of bloody persecution for the Church, when faithful Catholics were driven to take arms against the unjust government. As a young soldier of these Catholic "Cristeros", 14-year-old Jose Sanchez del Rio was captured by the atheistic government and, after a short imprisonment, brutally martyred. Through everything his executioners did to him -- including cutting off the soles of his feet, making him walk on salt, and forcing him to dig his own grave -- he refused to give up his battle cry, "Viva Christo Rey" -- that is, "Long live Christ the King!"

(If you want, you can read a little more about Jose here.)

Obviously, Jose was a very brave and holy young man. I anyone would agree that he probably went straight to Heaven. So it should come as no surprise that on this day the Catholic Church solemnly recognizes that fact by naming him a saint.

But what really is a saint? And why do we have them? What difference do saints make in daily Catholic life?

Definition of a Saint

On the most basic level, a saint is someone who has died and gone to Heaven -- anyone who has "finished the race" and is now dwelling in glory with God. In other words, a saint is someone who has become exactly what God wants each of us to be. We're all called to sainthood.

Once we've established this definition, we can categorize saints into two main types: the saints we know about, and the saints we don't know about.

Let's talk about saints we don't know about first. Obviously, we don't know the eternal destinies of everyone who has ever died, so there are lots and lots of saints in Heaven who are never officially recognized. My grandpa might very well be in Heaven -- of course, we firmly hope that he is in Heaven. If so, then he is a saint. But since he never did anything out of the ordinary or was known for his extreme holiness, chances are very slim that a cause for his canonization will ever be opened, and even slimmer that his name will ever be listed in a book of saints.

Which brings us to the other category of saints -- the ones we do know about. These are those who have been officially canonized by the Church. Canonization, basically, is when the pope, guided by the Holy Spirit, makes an infallible statement that says, "Yes, this person is in Heaven and may be venerated as a prime example of a Christian life well lived."

Why Canonize a Saint?

We can never have too many good examples, right? That's one of the reasons good literature is so important. As humans, we don't like to be told what to do, we want to be shown what to do. ("Show, don't tell" is a great piece of writing advice, but spiritual advice-givers like Matthew Kelley use it a lot, too.) 

In canonizing a saint, the Church is giving us another person to turn to as a great example. 

As a Catholic, I can personally tell you that it's really encouraging to have the saints to turn to. For every situation that life throws at you, you can turn to a saint book and ask, "How did other men and women of God deal with problems like this?" 

So when I'm feeling trapped by a cycle of sin and feel unable to crawl out of it, I can turn to St. Augustine. He's not only escaped sin, but become a great example of holiness. When I'm feeling bored with the daily routines of life, I can turn to St. Therese the Little Flower. She'll remind me that the little things can be turned into acts of love for God. When I'm feeling embarrassed because of the scorn of nonbelievers, I can turn to St. Jose and remember that he remained strong in situations much harder than mine. 

"Saints of the Americas" map, from The Communion of Saints by the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary:
I thought this was a kinda cool visual of how saints are for everywhere and every time.
And, ooh, St. Jose could be on that picture now! I don't think I realized there were
so many New World saints...we need more saints in America. :)

How Does the Canonization Process Work?

Great question! I need to look into that myself. I've only got a fuzzy idea of the process. But, what fuzzy idea I do have, I'll explain. Just don't quote me on anything. :)

  • A holy person dies. Under normal circumstances, five years must pass between the death of the person in question and the opening of the canonization process. 
  • Ecclesiastical authorities and experts investigate the life of the holy person to see if it was filled with heroic virtue.
  • If the person is found to have been really holy, he's declared a Venerable.
  • If a miracle takes place due to the Venerable's intercession, he's beatified (that is, given the title of Blessed).
  • If another miracle takes place through the Blessed's intercession, he's declared a Saint. At this point the entire Church is given permission to venerate the saint.

It's something like that. Not sure if I've got all the details right. Oh look! Here's a nice little article explaining the whole thing. Looks like the above explanation isn't heretical, though it might be less than scholarly. :)

What's "Veneration"?

I'm sure words like "veneration" might make Protestants uncomfortable. Aren't Catholics giving too much attention to saints? Aren't they...worshiping them? 

Let's look at the definitions of the words "worship" and "veneration." 

Worship: 1. a reverent honor and homage paid to God or a sacred personage, or to any object regarded as sacred. (Note: that's from the Random House Webster's College Dictionary. I'm not sure I like it very much. In theology, worship is the honor afforded to God alone. Let's go with that one, since I'm pretty sure we all agree on it.
Venerate: to regard or treat with reverence; revere.

So "worship" means the honor given to God alone, and "veneration" means just plain honor. Catholics don't worship saints, we just venerate them.

Isn't Praying to Saints Wrong?

If "praying to" meant the same thing as "worshiping" -- if it meant going to saints instead of to God -- then yes, praying to saints would be wrong. 

But as it is, that's not what Catholics mean when they say they're praying to saints. "Praying with" might be a better way to put it, or "talking to." Basically, we talk to the saints the same way we talk to other Christians on earth. 

Which brings us to a cool Catholic doctrine: the Communion of Saints. This is the idea that all Christians are connected as part of the Body of Christ. Death doesn't separate us from one other in spirit -- just in body. Whether we're on earth, in Heaven, or in Purgatory, as long as we're in a state of grace we are all parts of the Body of Christ. 

That's where the idea of praying to saints comes from. It's a Biblical idea, as explained in this article

When we're praying to saints, we aren't asking them to do anything on their own power. Rather, we're asking them to pray for us -- and with us -- the way I might ask you or any other Christian for prayers. 

Another reason praying to saints is sometimes frowned upon by Protestants is that contact with the dead is forbidden. However, praying to saints isn't making forbidden contact with the dead. The saints aren't dead, but alive in Christ. Jesus' words support this position: "and he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive." (Luke 20:38)

Communion of Saints:

That's all I've got for now. What do you think? Any questions, concerns, or arguments that I missed? Any points I made that you'd like to argue with? Come, come, let us discuss! :) 

And, oh, if you like or loathe my ideas for changing Catholicism Explained, do be a dear and let me know. :)

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Allegory in The Gingerbread Man

Today I thought it'd be fun to do a little allegorical study on the old Gingerbread Man story.

I'm a big believer in the deeper meanings of fairy tales. But when I think "fairy tales," I usually think "Cinderella" and "Jack and the Beanstalk" and other stories that can be easily imagined as a full-length fantasy novel, a novel complete with breathtaking word-craft, lovable characters, and a well-developed storyworld.

"The Gingerbread Man" never struck me as anything much deeper than a kinda cute and very simple story to amuse little kids - more nursery rhyme than fairy tale.

Until I thought about it.

We all know the story. A little old couple wants a child, so the wife bakes a gingerbread man. As soon as he comes out of the oven, the little stinker jumps up and runs away. The couple calls for him to come back but he responds with the cheeky little rhyme, "Run, run, as fast as you can -- you can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man!" He says the same thing to all the hungry people and animals he meets on the road, and fares very well on his impudence until he is finally tricked and eaten by the fox. The end.

Running gingerbread boy - The Gingerbread Boy - Robert Lumley - Ladybird Book:

Basically, it's a story about a created being so sure of his own capabilities that he runs away from those who love him into a dangerous world. Because of his cocksure attitude, he winds up running straight into the jaws of his greatest enemy.

Sound familiar?

We pitiful little humans are gingerbread men, created by God out of love. Like the couple in the story, our Creator only wants what's best for us. If we stayed close to Him and did His will, we'd be happy. We were made for him.

But, instead of staying in Our Father's care, we prideful little geese want to try life on our own. We don't need God -- we don't need anybody! We're strong enough, smart enough, good enough to get around on our own.

This mindset carries us on for awhile. On our own power, we surmount all difficulties with more or less ease. Life is a game.

Until we meet an enemy we can't handle.

Until we run into the trap.

The fox is the devil. If we run away from God, Satan is our only alternative -- whether or not we know it.

The devil is most dangerous when we don't recognize him. He rarely shows himself as he is; if he approaches us, it is with a friendly smile and sugary promises of help.

How easy is it to see pleasure, riches, or power as our sole friend? To see sin as a safe passage across rivers of hardship? Do we ever stop to think that the very things we put our trust in might be our downfall?

Or do we not see the teeth of the fox until it's too late?

gingerbread man story to go along with science experiment:

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Beautiful Books - October

To quote Sam Gamgee, "Well, I'm back."

And it is now the beautiful month of October! Beautiful, not only because of changing leaves and crisp cool air, but because it hails the beginning of the Beautiful Books link-up, hosted by Cait and Sky as an aid to writers participating in the adventure known as National Novel Writing Month. (Or any writers, really, since you don't have to be doing NaNo to join in.)

Since this is my first year participating in NaNoWriMo, I'm super excited!

beautiful books

(I am also super annoyed at the formatting of this post. Because look at how the lower section of questions and answers are all disgustingly highlighted with white on my normal beige background. It is not at all pretty, dear readers. And I don't know how to fix it without retyping my entire post. *whimpers at own pathetic technological skills*)

Anyway! To get on with it, today I am going to rant to you about my 2016 NaNo project, The Time-Traveling League

What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?

Well, around this past June I was reading the book Time Pirate, by Ted Bell. There were lots of things I loved about this book - namely how many awesome historical things could be packed into it because of time-travel. I mean, hiding in a priest-hole from Nazis in one chapter and running away from pirates in the next is pretty cool, not?

Despite the flaws in the writing...and the flawed moral philosophy...I really enjoyed this book.:

But, at the same time, the book left me flat. The writing wasn't the greatest, and I was continually thinking up things I would've done differently. 

"Billy Blood wants to kill Nick because Nick foiled his plans in Book 1. Wouldn't it be cool if Nick didn't know why Billy Blood hated him because Nick hadn't actually foiled his plans yet?"

"Nick should go back in time to meet his father as a WWI pilot! - Will he? Will he? Oh darn no, he never did."

"I like this little group of people who share the secret of time-travel...wouldn't it be neat if they went on time-traveling expeditions regularly? If they made a time-traveling league?? And if instead of being all WWII-era people, they could be characters from all over history???"

And it was that last thought that sparked the idea for The Time-Traveling League. Now tell me, friends, and tell me true, is that plagiarizing? Don't spare my feelings, Shasta. Because I tend to be paranoid about the plagiarism thing, and as such I can never tell if my alarm is unfounded or not...

Describe what your novel is about!

It's about a league of people who time travel. Shocking, no? ;)

Why are they time traveling? That's a great question. I don't really know myself. I do know that the villain is a power-hungry personage of some sort who wants to build a time machine so he can control time. You see, even though time traveling is a thing in this story, time machines aren't. Leastways, not time control machines. You can go back and forth in time by using this thing called the "time tunnel," but you can't do like Meg in A Wrinkle in Time and arrive back in your own time a minute before you left. If you spent a year in ancient Rome, you would have to spend a year away from your own time period. 

And basically I've taken this concept of the time tunnel, coupled it with a bad guy who wants to control time for his (or her) own selfish and nefarious purposes, and then thrown a large cast of colorful characters into the mix of good guys. Will it turn out as a good novel? I have no idea. Will it be fun to write? Oh, yes. 

(That is, if I don't stress out over it too much. Remind me not to stress out over it too much.)

What is your book’s aesthetic? Use words or photos or whatever you like!

My book's aesthetic. I do not believe I have heard that word used in that particular way before. I must needs consult a dictionary.

*hurries to look it up on google*

Ah, I see. According to the internet "aesthetic" in this sense means, "a set of principles underlying and guiding the work of a particular artist or artistic movement." Ha. So I am an artist. I like that. 

Well! My book's aesthetic is going to be primarily very fun. Bright. Upbeat. Jazzy. If this were a young adult novel, I could try to get into the horrors of war and social rights issues in almost depressing depth, BUT! it is not a young adult novel. I am bound and determined to make it a middle grade novel and just have fun with it. 

     50s/60s Blue and Green Full Skirt Dress - sm                         Cape Hatteras Lighthouse; In Buxton, NC, The tallest lighthouse in North America, stands at 187 feet tall with 286 steps reaching to its light. For just $5, (during the season) you can climb it to the top for an amazing arial view of Hatteras Island. Ready to climb?:                           Photo Uploader for Pinterest on the App Store:

             Classic Banana Split Ice Cream Sundae Recipe:                                   "Winged Victory" by Terry Jones:

That said, there is going to be a serious side to it. I firmly believe that comedy needs a serious undertone, even and especially children's comedy. I intend to make myself whimper over my characters as well as laugh with them. And I'm sure my poetry-loving side will sprinkle the story with descriptions of smooth blue skies and cotton fields and summer flowers. Fun descriptions. :)

Introduce us to each of your characters!

Each of my characters?! Yippee!! This is going to be my favorite part of the link-up. 

Well, first of all there are Alice and Jeanie Mulligan, sisters from 1950s small-town America. I did a Beautiful People post on Jeanie in August. Alice, my main POV character, is tall(ish), blonde, green-eyed, and skinny as a rail. She loves mystery stories, especially Nancy Drew and Sherlock Holmes, and considers herself pretty good at sharp observation and clever deduction. (I'm not saying she's actually good at it. She just thinks she is.) She loves Jeanie with the fierce devotion of an older sister and fancies herself Jeanie's protector; but really, Jeanie's much braver than she is. Alice is afraid of everything but strangers. Jeanie is only shy.

Girls, Soda Pop and Rollerskates, 1950s:

Then there's Michael Mulligan, my second POV character, a WWII member of the....Coast Guard, I think, although I have to do a lot more research. He's stationed at the Outer Banks during the Atlantic Turkey Shoot. (I am so excited about this! I just got back from a vacation at the Outer Banks, and I've got this really cool book about WWII on the North Carolina coast, and I saw the lighthouse and the ocean and this whole setting where Michael is from...) I love Michael already. He's quiet, friendly, responsible, in love with a nice girl back home, and prone to freaking out when things go wrong. Oh, and there's a reason he's got the same last name as Alice and Jeanie - he's their father. (I don't think that's a major spoiler..)
U-Boat Type IIB (1939) - German Submarine:

Michael's best pal in the book is Ricky Hartford, a WWI fighter pilot. I've got a slight obsession with WWI aviation, and so this should be delightful. And Ricky is going to be so fun to write. Stereotypical, perhaps, but fun. Reckless, easy-going, cheerful, teasing, and irresponsible, he should provide a good contrast to Michael. And he's always whistling, particularly the patriotic song You're a Grand Old Flag. I shouldn't be surprised if he steals center stage and turns Alice, Jeanie, and Michael into cardboard cutouts. And yet - poor Ricky! There's a touch of tragedy about him, too...

World War One 1st Aero Squadron Collection by San Diego Air & Space Museum…:

Sophia is a young Southern belle who gets whisked into the Time Traveling League on accident. Her father's one of the bad guy's minions, and it's going to be fun to put her on a bicycle and watch the Mulligan girls walk her through modern society, but I really know very little about her. Even her name is subject to change - and she really needs a last name, so if anyone has any suggestions, I'd be thrilled to hear them. 

antebellum southern belle - Google Search:

Alice and Jeanie never would've gotten pulled into this adventure if it weren't for a mischievous little cowpoke-in-training from the Wild West. Currently his name is Trick, although the more I think about that name the less I like it. It doesn't sound Old Westish enough, does it? Anyway, I like Trick. He's kinda like the Artful Dodger - you can't believe a word he says. But he's not a bad-hearted kid.

'Getting Behind in his Work' by Jack Sorenson:

Sarah is an adorable little girl who escapes southern slavery through the time tunnel. I don't know how she'll affect the plot, but I've got to have her. 

Too cute:

Oh, oh, oh! And now we get to one of my other favorite characters. Jessie (also in need of a last name) is the founder of the Time-Traveling League. She didn't invent the time tunnel or anything - it was always there - but she's the one who organized the group of good guys in order to stop the bad guys. (*Sob* that sounds so plot needs help!) She's got a personal motivation for saving the world - her little brother has gotten roped into the service of Evil Lord Characterless, and she would do anything to save him. Oh, and she's present-day. Almost forgot to say that.

Jessie's brother will factor into the story, too. He doesn't have an official name yet; I'm thinking Conner or Kevin or Ryan or something like that. Suggestions?

And...goodness, that appears to be the end of the major characters. Of course, there's the villain to be figured out and everything, and minor characters like Alice and Jeanie's mom...

How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?)

Usually, I don't prepare much at all. I think about it for awhile, and then I write. For this book, though, I've been preparing in the following ways:

1. Outlining. This is a first for me. I wrote about one third of an outline about a month or so ago, and need to get around to finishing it...
2. Researching. Since this is historical fiction (in a way? I guess?) I'll need to do a lot of it. Right now my primary focus is on WWII on the Outer Banks; I'm reading an excellent excellent book called War Zone for that and plan to read another called The Atlantic Turkey Shoot if I have the time.
3. Familiarizing myself with the characters and their worlds. Basically whatever fun stuff I can find time for - writing backstories, thinking about dialogue, listening to music from the various time periods, things like that. I'm hoping to reread some of the Nancy Drew books, since Alice is a Nancy Drew fan.
4. Figuring out that nasty plot hole. The one about the villains and their goal. I'm sure there are other ones that'll need addressed, but this is the major one bogging me down right now.
5. Talking my siblings ears off about my characters and pestering them for ideas. Siblings are ever so helpful. "Guys, give me a list of modern boy's names." "Should this character get married to this character?" "Would it be stupid if I did such-and-such a thing?"

What are you most looking forward to about this novel?

The characters! Totally the characters. Also the different settings, but as those involve research and being historically accurate they're not quite as appealing.

List 3 things about your novel's setting.

1. It changes. So far I know I'll have scenes set in a small 1950s town, present-day America, the ante bellum South, the Outer Banks during WWII (hopefully), and (also hopefully) some kind of WWI thing.
2. It's full of slightly quirky landmarks, like the library gazebo and the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. 
3. It's cheerful. Even though lots of these time periods were full of dark yucky things, I want to focus on fun and adventurous aspects of history.

 This lighthouse guards the "Graveyard of the Atlantic"!:

What's your character's goal and who (or what) stands in the way?

Heh-heh....that is the million dollar question. The overarching story goal is largely a mystery to me. "Stop the bad guys," "Keep them from taking over time," etc. is pretty near the mark but so vague it's cliche. It would help if I knew exactly how the bad guys are trying to achieve their goal.

I do have a few personal character goals in mind, though.

How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?

Well, to tell the truth, I'm not 100% sure who my protagonist is, much less how he or she will change by the end of the novel. As of now, I'm pretty sure it's Alice. She'll have to deal with a lot of self-discovery - including realizing that she isn't as brave as the younger sister she wants so much to protect. And she'll have to face a lot of her fears in order to help the people she loves.

What are your books themes? How do you want readers to feel when the story is over?

Regarding themes, I plan to discover them as I go along. I do have several topics I want to touch on, including patriotism, power, sacrifice, courage, and family. 

When the story is over, I hope readers will feel happy and satisfied. I want all loose ends to be completely taken care of, and, at the same time, for it to feel like the characters' adventures are far from over. 

So! That concludes this Beautiful Books tag. Tell me, are you participating in NaNoWriMo? Squeal to me about your projects! (Even if it's just a regular project and not a NaNo one.) Do you have any ideas for character names (first and last)? Or any advice for improving a needy plot/conflict? And at what point do you draw the line between inspiration and plagiarism?