Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Hiatus Announcement and February's Jumble of Books

Hiya, everyone! Okay, so. This post is going to be doing double-duty.

First of all, I have impulsively decided to take a blogging hiatus from now until at least Easter. Beginning tomorrow, I will disappear entirely from the blogging world. Which means I shan't be able to enjoy anyone's lovely posts or reply to comments or anything! Fatima posts are included in this hiatus, sadly. (If someone wants to adopt that feature for her own blog while I'm gone, feel free!)

But it's okay, I'll be back. 

The end of all 3 movies. I think i'll always love chronicles of Narnia.:

Hahahahaha, that got sappy fast. On to the next thing! Thankfully for the length of this post, I didn't read as many books in February as I did in January. Here are the four I finished:

A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens

i love A Christmas Carol in every form ... books, plays, Muppets, Patrick Stewart, George C. Scott.  Never can get enough of it at Christmastime!:

I'd read this at least once before, and read it again at the beginning of the month for school. I don't feel qualified to say much about it in review. It speaks for itself. It's a rare book that makes me both cry real tears and laugh aloud, and this book did both.

Our Town, by Thornton Wilder

Read through in February for the play! I can't wait to play Mrs. Gibbs!:

I'm going to be in a production of this in May, so I read this through with the rest of the cast. It's a lovely piece...very sweet, and simple, and sad....and it kind of reminds me of It's a Wonderful Life, but in reverse, if that makes sense. I'm quite looking forward to putting it on.

The Hobbit, by J. R. R. Tolkien

The Hobbit! I'd forgotten so much of it, and it was better than I remembered. Finished in February; favorite character, Bilbo. (I loved Gandalf, too, and Thorin was interesting, but you've got to go with Bilbo.):

This wasn't the first time I'd read The Hobbit...but I'd forgotten so much of it that I almost felt it was at times. Oh, it was splendid! Bilbo is such a dear little protagonist. I love how he's always thinking about his hobbit hole. Despite his timidity and frequent bungling, he's really a heroic character. I'm writing a paper about this book right now. (And it's due tomorrow! Aggh! What am I doing blogging??)

The Robe, by Lloyd C. Douglas

Although I had some mixed feelings about this one, overall I loved it. Demetrius was far and away my favorite characters! Finished in February.:

A dear sweet friend of mine has been begging me to read this for ages, and delightfully surprised me at the beginning of this month by actually presenting me with a copy. (There should be some kind of proverb out there about the friends who give you books being worth more than gold.) Of course it was top priority for February reading!

It's a very interesting piece of historical fiction about the soldier who won Christ's robe at the crucifixion, and his subsequent search to find out who Jesus really was. I did have some theological bones to peck with it... Lloyd Douglas didn't seem to have many qualms about tweaking the Gospel's accounts of events. For example, he had Jesus appear at Thomas' side the moment he said "I will not believe until I have touched his wounds," rather than having Him appear a week later as Scripture says He did. Things like that. I also felt he didn't portray Jesus very well...almost like He'd come to give the world a set of rules that would build it into a perfect society eventually, not first and foremost to shed His blood to save us and institute a Church that would act as the fountain of His grace for all men. The focus just struck me as off. I don't think it would be a big problem for those well-grounded in the faith, but I'm afraid it might give the wrong impression to others.

That said, it was a very enjoyable read. The characters in particular were delicious. My favorite was definitely Demetrius, the main character's Greek slave. He was so loyal! So noble! So admirable! Absolutely a Sam Gamgee character! The sacrifices he made for Marcellus... *sighs* Let's just say I made some rather undignified squeaky noises over Demetrius.

And while I might have looked down my nose at the portrayals of Jesus and his disciples (am I the only one who finds it hard to believe the Apostle Bartholomew was a tottering old man who could barely walk? you can't go to the ends of the earth and spread the good news if you can hardly walk, can you??), I loved getting a look at the inside of the Roman court. Tiberius, Gaius, Julia, and Caligula will never be mere names to me again. They were so slimy! Surrounded by intrigues and deception and overindulgence! *shudders* And oh, I appreciated the portrayal of Peter as a leader.

I was hoping I would be able to make time for participating in the Penning Tournament, hosted this past time by Belle Anne @ Worlds of Ink and Paper...but alas! What with school and essays and stuff, it looks as though I'll have to lose that delightful challenge. :( If by some miracle I manage to complete it before midnight tonight, I might do a victory post after all? But that may be wishful thinking. :)

Farewell, friends! I leave to go on hiatus! If I show my nose before Easter, you may click your tongue at me and tell me to shoo. :) 

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Some Words from Our Lady

I was tempted not to do a Fatima post again today, since it's been a long day and it's already rather late. But then I thought, why not simply raid my Pinterest board and slap together a post from that? (The idea probably comes from the "Quote of Inspiration" posts Anna @ Swords and Quills does weekly. So thanks, Anna!) 

Fatima Pin #1:
Portal of Catholic Pilgrimages. Presenting Basilicas, Shrines and Sanctuaries around the world. http://www.pilgrim-info.com/:

Short and sweet as it is, that pretty much sums up the Fatima message: be holy, love Jesus. Only this will bring us lasting happiness. It's so simple, yet so challenging.

Fatima Pin #2:

"Pray much and make sacrifices for sinners, for many souls go to hell because there is no one to make sacrifices for them." ~Our Lady of Fatima:

That one's a little more somber. There are consequences to our actions--serious consequences. Our Lady has come to warn us and to remind us of the basic religious duties we've forgotten. Pray for sinners! Pray, pray, pray for sinners!

Fatima Pin #3:

"If men knew what eternity is, they would do everything to change their lives." Message from Our Lady of Fatima to Blessed Jacinta Marto, 1920:

Another one with a grave and heavy tone to it. But it's so true, isn't it? We think our lives here are all that matter; but they'll be gone in a flash, and then what? 

It brings to mind something I once heard a wise priest say in trying to begin to explain the full meaning of the word "eternity." Imagine a great iron ball the size of the earth. Every several thousand years, a butterfly comes and brushes its wings against the iron ball. By the time that butterfly has worn the iron ball away to the size of a pin, eternity is only beginning. 

Oh, dear Mother Mary, pray for us that we may love your Son and never forget poor sinners! Help us to realize what eternity means, and that nothing can be more important than preparing ourselves and others for it! 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Historical Heroes

So, I can't be the only one who relates to this funny little thing from Pinterest.

Bbf:

The thing is...not all the men I'm half in love with are fictional. A lot of them are just dead. If that pie graph were designed by me, there would actually be much more yellow in it...and 99.999% of the yellow would be historical figures.

So I thought it would be fun to do a post revealing just how much of a sentimental goose I really am. Let's review five of my historical infatuations, shall we?

And no, not all of them are actually infatuations. I tend to think of them as "my heroes." It's just...it's very suspicious that most of my heroes happen to be dashing young military men, isn't it?

(Oh! And speaking of awesome historical figures, I just found out it's Bl. Jacinta's feast day today. Jacinta is my favorite of the Fatima seers...hopefully it's not bad to pick favorites....so I simply needed to mention that! She's so inspiring.) 

Horatius Cocles

Lays of Ancient Rome/Horatius:
Image not mine.

This is probably mostly due to Thomas Babinton Macaulay's excellent poem, Horatius At the Bridge. It's simply a gorgeous poem! If you haven't read it, you must. 

You probably know the story: the Etruscans were attacking Rome and about to cross the Tiber River. Horatius stood at one end of the bridge with two companions and held them off while the other Romans hacked down the bridge. Just as the bridge was about to fall, Horatius sent his two men back...but he remained on the Etruscan side while the great bridge shuddered, cracked, and crashed into the churning water below. Horatius was caught between his mortal enemies and the swirling torrent. It looked as though he would surely die...but he leaped into the river and swam across! With his wounds and his armor! And he made it! (The poem doesn't mention it, but he actually lost an eye to an arrow while swimming the Tiber.)

Horatius exemplifies all the bold and sacrificial qualities of the ideal Roman soldier. I come close to swooning whenever I come to his introduction in the poem:

Then out spake brave Horatius,
The captain of the gate:
"To every man upon this earth
Death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better
Than facing fearful odds
For the ashes of his fathers
And the temples of his gods...?"


Hernan Cortez

Hernon Cortes (1485-1547) was a classic Spanish conquistador who came from lesser nobility and was the first generation Spaniards involved in the conquest of the Americas.:
Image not mine.
Yes, Hernan Cortez, the Spanish conquistador. The fact that he's demonized so often only serves to make me love him more. Because no one realizes how awesome he was! No one understands! I must plead his case! I must write a novel defending him someday!

Ahem. Not to say Cortez was perfect. But on the whole he is just a fascinating, heroic figure.

The story of his conquest of Mexico sends shivers down my back, when it's told the right way. The history textbook Christ and the Americas gives a thrilling account of the events, and I'm currently reading a book entitled Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Conquest of Darkness which is, ah! glorious.

Around the time Columbus discovered America, the human sacrifice going on in the Aztec realm was atrocious. Thousands upon thousands of innocent people were slaughtered by the priests to satiate their demon gods' thirst for blood. It was a culture of darkness, despair, and terror. Perhaps the only glint of light in the minds of the common Aztecs was the legend of Quetzalcoatl, a good god who was supposed to come back to Mexico and put an end to human sacrifice. The story had it that he would return on the day One Reed of the Aztec calendar.

Somebody did arrive in Mexico on the day One Reed, and he was even wearing black as Quetzalcoatl was supposed to...and he would put an end to human sacrifice by overthrowing the Aztec government and religion. This man was, of course, Hernan Cortez.

Outnumbered but unafraid, his expedition of Spanish soldiers marched into the depths of the Mexican jungle under the sign of the Cross. The anecdotes surrounding their mission are deliciously dramatic--Cortez destroying all but one of his ships and inviting the cowards to sail back home in that, Cortez flying into a temper at the Aztecs who sprinkled human blood on their food, Cortez adopting Constantine's motto "In this sign (the cross) you shall conquer" as his own. It's the stuff of legend, material that would make for the most thrilling movie or novel ever!

And in the end, Cortez's conquest of Mexico paved the way for the mass conversion of the Aztecs to Christ. It doesn't get any better than that.

Don Juan of Austria

Austrian troops at the Battle of Lepanto:
Image not mine.
Twenty-four year-old military leader saves Christendom from the Turks--what could get more delightfully dramatic than that?

The story of the Battle of Lepanto has always been one of my favorites. I first heard about it from the book Leading Little Ones to Mary, which attributed the victory of the small Christian fleet over the formidable Turkish naval forces to the rosary and Our Lady's intercession. The story only grew more marvelous with every retelling. Probably my favorite account of the battle is G. K. Chesterton's ballad "The Battle of Lepanto." (I mean, come on--it's a poem by my favorite author about my favorite naval battle ever, how can it not be awesome?)

Don Juan (or Don John) is fascinating for several reasons. One is simply his youth. Until a few days ago I was under the impression that he was nineteen years old at the time he led the Holy Fleet. Turns out he was twenty-four...which is slightly disappointing, but still impressive. Another is his Catholicity (I tend to fall for the Catholic guys, have you noticed that?). Yet another is the fact that he was an illegitimate child, and thus I've always seen him as a potential poster child for the pro-life movement. In our modern society, he might easily have been aborted--and yet he was instrumental in saving Christendom from the Turks! And then there are all the interesting little stories I've heard about him through the years; one source said he owned a pet tiger, and also a pet monkey that threw grenades at the Turks during the battle. 

Basically, someone needs to write a novel about this man and this battle...and if they haven't, I might just have to write it myself.

Jacques Cathelineau 

The Traditionalist Mind     Jacques Cathelineau, a leader of the Vendéan counterrevolution   Hero and anti-revolutionary.:
Image not mine.

Whose name is simply the most fun thing in the world to spell. It's one of those words that makes you feel like a genius if you know how to spell it. :)

This fellow lived in the part of France known as the Vendee during the French Revolution. When the Vendeans rose up against the Revolutionists to defend their faith, their country, and their king, he kissed his wife and children goodbye and went to war as a leader of the Catholic guerrilla army. If he hadn't been shot and killed at Nantes, things might have turned out differently.

The French Revolution is one of those historical periods I've always found particularly fascinating. I always get so mad at the revolutionists for tearing down the aristocracy and the Church (even though, at the same time, I feel for the common people who felt so desperate and driven to this). If only someone could have stopped them--! The heroic stand of the Vendeans, simple country people who loved their nation and their religion, is one of those little sparks of hope and defiance in history that lead us to conjecture "what might have been." 

Georges Guynemer


Georges Guynemer - Wikipedia:
Image not mine.
I discovered Georges Guynemer when I was researching material for a WWI aviation paper a few years ago. The book I checked out of the library was entitled Knights of the Air, and it was simply mesmerizing. It introduced WWI aces so well that I felt like they were characters in a fictional story and was sorry when they died (even the Red Baron, who is generally seen as a villain). 

By far my favorite of these aces was Georges Guynemer. He was French, which of course is a point in his favor right off the bat (says the girl who is one fourth French and won't let anyone forget it). I forget exactly what it was about him that made him so delightful to read about. I think he just seemed like a good person. Most of the figures in that book had some serious character flaw or other, like bitter hatred of their enemies or typical loose living; but there wasn't any mention of Guynemer doing anything like that. Besides, he was Catholic, so of course I'm going to be prejudiced in his favor. :)

The last that was seen of Georges Guynemer, his plane had been hit and was spinning into a cloud. They never did confirm that his body had been found. French schoolchildren were told, "He flew so high he couldn't come down again."

In my first year of high school, one of my assignments was to rewrite one canto of Dante's Inferno or Divine Comedy using real dead people of my own choice. I chose to rewrite the canto from Purgatorio telling about the cornice of sinners who had died repentant but without sacramental confession. One of Dante's original characters was someone whose body had never been recovered. I thought, "Oh, I could do Georges Guynemer! Of course, I don't know anything he had to repent of...but I'm sure if I researched him enough I would find something. There always is something disappointing to learn about historical figures."

So I googled my favorite French pilot, certain I would come across something that would lower my opinion of him. But try as I might, I couldn't find anything. As a matter of fact, I discovered that he had just gone to Mass and Confession within days of being killed in action.

At that, I threw up my hands and laughed. The one time I was kind of hoping to find something bad about someone I admired, he turned out to have been, to all appearances, a truly good person!

So there are five of my historical heroes. What do you think? Ladies, do you "fangirl" over any historic figures? Who are they? Does anyone out there have a thing for ancient Romans? or Spaniards? or Frenchmen? 

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Daily Sacrifices

I'm in a hurry at the moment, so today's "Fatima post" will be much more like a "Fatima thought." :)

So, a big element of the Fatima Message is "sacrifice." It's kind of what jumps out at you when you read about the lives of the three little Fatima seers, especially Jacinta and Francisco. These little children suffered so much, so cheerfully, for love of God. Every time they saw an opportunity to make a sacrifice, they took it, whether it meant giving up their lunch of their own accord or suffering patiently through the agony of influenza.

We might look at these three heroic children and think, "Gee, I can never make sacrifices like they did." And maybe we never can, in which case God will never give us any trial as big as theirs.

But just because we might not be called to such huge sacrifices as the Fatima children were doesn't mean we shouldn't make sacrifices. After all, Mary and Jesus have asked it of us!

I suspect that half the battle, when it comes to making sacrifices, is thinking of making sacrifices. We all have troubles and trials in our lives, some big and some small. But how often do we think of offering these hardships up to Jesus?

I can't wait for the day when Jesus holds me like the precious jewel he had always thought me be!:

It doesn't matter if the sacrifice is something small and insignificant like a troublesome math problem, something odd and unromantic like annoying athlete's foot, or something big and vague and stressful like college applications. Jesus wants it all.

So this week, my Fatima friends, let's make an effort to offer it to Him.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Beautiful People: Ricky and Sophia

It's time for another Beautiful People post! Yay! This is a monthly link-up hosted by Cait and Sky. It's been a long time since we've had one of these, since the focus has been on books and new year's plans for the past four months or so.

February's theme is couples. After considering Mr. and Mrs. Mouse from my middle grade fantasy Lillian and Biff and Renna from my space novella, I've decided to go with Ricky Hartford and Sophia Rainier from my middle grade novel The Time Traveling League.

Ricky is a World War One American pilot stationed in France.

J.C. Leyendecker illustration cover art for Kuppenheimer Style Booklet, Chicago, Fall-Winter 1917-1918:
Image not mine.
Ricky smiles more than this fellow.

Sophia is a Southern belle from an antebellum plantation...somewhere in Tennessee, I'm thinking.

Would love to see the front of it, but I will take one of these dresses:
Image not mine.
I don't really like the bare shoulder, but.
1. How and why did they meet?

Sophia ended up in the Time Tunnel pretty much on accident, as a result of trying to help the main characters Alice and Jeanie out of captivity on her father's plantation. They took her with them to the Den, where the members of the League hang out, and that's where Ricky and Sophia first saw each other.

2. What were their first impressions of each other?

Ricky was mildly smitten, in his cavalier but gentlemanly way. Sophia didn't particularly notice him at first--she was too busy taking in the weird happenings of that day--but when she did finally notice him the first thing she saw was his outlandish aviator's costume, and the second thing was his pleasant (if a little too nonchalant) attitude towards everything.

3. How would they prove their love for each other?

Ricky is continually doing little things to show Sophia how he feels about her--like rushing for the first aid kit when she burns her finger or guiding her to a seat when she seems about to faint. And he's always very polite to her, calling her "Miss Rainier" and not teasing her the way he does everyone else. Sophia favors him with a gracious smile now and again.

As the story progresses, they get to prove their dedication to one another in bigger ways. I can't go into too much detail because of spoilers, though.


4. What would be an ideal date?

A square dance. Any dance, really, but they think square dances are particularly fun.


5. Is there something they emphatically disagree on?

Well, Sophia is a staunch Southerner because she was born and bred on an antebellum plantation in Dixie-land. Ricky, on the other hand, is a Yankee through and through. This isn't as big a rift as it might seem, though, since Ricky's a Northerner from 1918 and as such doesn't threaten Sophia's 1859 world.

Photography:
Image not mine.

Still....they see the world differently. Slavery in particular is a big issue: Sophia doesn't see anything wrong with it, and Ricky can't imagine how a sweet girl like Sophia can talk so calmly and matter-of-factly about owning people.

Their moral priorities are pretty different, too. Sophia puts family first, and is willing to compromise her values for the sake of her loved ones. Ricky, as he puts it, can't imagine knowing which side is right and joining the wrong side anyway.

That said, they respect each other's opinions even when they deeply disagree, and are pretty good about not flaring up at each other.

...So far.


6. List 5 "food quirks" they know about each other. (Ex: how they take their coffee, if they're allergic to something, etc...and feel free to mention other non-food quirks!)

This is the kind of thing even I don't know about my characters. :P Let's see.

1. Ricky has a remarkable appetite. Sophia has a very delicate one, because--well, are you familiar with Gone With the Wind? We must keep our 17-inch waistline!
2. Sophia would like a little tea or coffee with her sugar and cream, thank you. Ricky would drink coffee black if someone offered it to him.
3. Ricky prefers icing to cake...not that he won't eat the cake.
4. Sophia finds modern foods uncouth, artificial, and unappetizing.
5. Both are very fond of good antebellum food...Sophia for sentimental reasons, Ricky for less sentimental reasons.

Southern Peach Cobbler - FoodGaZm..:
Peach cobbler--yum!
Image not mine.

7. What's one thing they know about each other that no one else does?

There's not too much opportunity for secret-sharing in The Time Traveling League. But they do have one conversation alone together, and that's when they explain to each other what's really important to each of them. For Sophia it's the South and her family; for Ricky it's being on the right side.


8. What's one thing that they keep a secret from each other?

I don't think Ricky's told Sophia about the Civil War. She's bound to find out sometime, but he doesn't want to be the one to tell her. If by any chance he had a relative who fought in the Union Army, as I have a sneaking suspicion he does, he'd spare her that information for a long, long time. And he wouldn't tell her his middle name for the life of him--at least, he wouldn't admit that he was named after a Union hero.

As for Sophia...she wouldn't keep it secret at first, but as time goes on and she gets to know Ricky better, she probably tries to hide from him just how big a part of her life slavery is.


9. How would their lives be different without one another?

Without Ricky, Sophia would've never come back to the Time Traveling League after she left. And that would have changed everything.

Without Sophia, Ricky would've still been his happy-go-lucky self....maybe too happy-go-lucky, come to think of it. She put some seriousness and sweetness into his reckless pilot's life.

Black Flight by Terry Jones (Sopwith Triplane):
Image not mine.

10. Where do they each see this relationship going?

Well, they'd really like to have a formal courtship with marriage as the ultimate goal. But being from different time periods complicates things quite a bit. One of them would have to shift settings--either the Southern belle would have to plunge into twentieth-century northern America, or the World War One aviator would have to go back in time to the war-torn South. And that would be hard.

Sophia's father would never approve of his daughter marrying a middle-class Yankee from the future, and Ricky doesn't exactly savor the idea of living as a professed Northerner down South (he couldn't possibly hide that he was a Northerner). And it would break Sophia's heart to leave her home and family for a world where the Southern society she's used to is "gone with the wind."

So they're going to wait and see if Ricky lives through World War One, and then start to make serious plans.

So! There's this month's Beautiful People. What about you? Are you doing Beautiful People this month?? What do you think of Ricky and Sophia? Do you find WWI aviation and the antebellum South fascinating? 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Meet the Books! An Untitled Space Opera

Eep! It's time for another Meet the Books! link-up with Belle Anne @ Worlds of Ink and Paper. I have decided to take this opportunity to tell the world about the project that ran away with my imagination last month without much permission...but first, a little background.


I've recently discovered that the way I write stories is this. I get an idea, and plunge imprudently into a first draft. For several weeks, or months, or maybe even years, I abandon myself to this work in progress. And then--usually after I've finished a draft--it loses its luster. I shrug my shoulders and move onto something else. Once in a while I look back at the manuscript and cringe.

And then, one day, that old story idea pops up in a totally new form and I say, "Hey! I should go back to you!"

Actually that's only happened twice. Once with Lillian. And now with...this story.

It was originally dreamed up in 2014 under the title Amid a Million Stars. Back then it was the first novel in a trilogy about two girls from a futuristic boarding school who got caught up in a war between the planet Earth and the evil planet Athena. The bright spot in the draft was certainly the charming space thief, Dar Beauregard. Most of 2015 was spent on the second draft, now entitled The Prince's Pendant. This draft was still about the two girls, but they were starting to be less important characters than the duty-torn soldier Raphael Novarex and the other men involved in stopping the evil empire's plot to kill the Prince Alphonse. (That evil empire, by the way, had its name changed to Festerlon at this point.) After that second draft was finished, I wrote a hurried first draft of a sequel in early 2016...and there it ended.

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has uncovered what astronomers are reporting as the dimmest stars ever seen in any globular star cluster. Globular clusters are spherical concentrations of hundreds of thousands of stars. These clusters formed early in the 13.7-billion-year-old universe. The cluster NGC 6397 is one of the closest globular star clusters to Earth. Seeing the whole range of stars in this area will yield insights into the age, origin, and evolution of the cluster:
Image not mine.

Until now. This little story has flown up at me transformed almost beyond recognition in the surprising guise of a novelette.

(Confession: the novelette thing was the idea of a sci-fi/fantasy creative writing scholarship I plan on applying for. Can't submit a full-length novel or a children's story, so Lillian was out of the question, and this was the most interesting sci-fi/fantasy thing I had on the back burner, so. Yes, it sounds mercenary. Maybe it is. But this way I get to work on a story and tell Mom I'm working on scholarship applications.)

When I told my sister about the new idea, I was expecting her to give a horrified "What?!" and then laugh it to scorn.

But...she loved it. And we spent half the night thinking up all the changes to the plot and characters and story-world.

So I plunged in.

(Actually, looking back I realize that the night we made all these drastic changes was just a day or two after I read a lovely post of Blue's @ To Be a Shennachie involving characters from her space story...so Blue, if you're reading this and you sense any subconscious plagiarism in this novelette of mine, do please be a dear and call me out for it.)

What is the genre?

Space opera. It's not science-y enough to be science fiction (fate forbid I ever try that!) and it's not fantasy-ish enough to be fantasy, so that leaves it to space opera.

What is the title? The time period?

Alas, there is no title as yet. The storyboard I have made for it on Pinterest is entitled "The Twin Princes" but that's probably going to change. Another idea is "Mercury's Wings" or "On Mercury's Wings" but the sister who is practically a co-author in this case kinda pooh-poohed that idea.

As for time period, it takes place...vaguely in the very far future.

オービッド ウォクス・リンファ:
Once again, Pinterest fails to provide me with exactly what I imagine.

Who are the characters?

While the original drafts were chock full of characters, this version, I'm sad to say, has relatively few. I do feel remorseful for cutting so many, but strange to say I don't find myself writhing in agony over it. I think that's because I don't think of myself as cutting a select few, but salvaging my very favorites.

Those of you who have read the earlier drafts--please don't kill me! It's true: so far Jude and Christina and Ada and several others I was exceptionally fond of haven't made an appearance in this draft. But that doesn't mean they don't exist! I'm determined that they do, somehow...and even if they don't show up in this book, they're still walking around somewhere in Erdania, and if I write deeply enough into the story-world, I will find them.

That said, here are the five remaining characters.

Dar Beauregard: The protagonist. Twin to Prince Alphonse, he once lived a life of ease and happiness in the palace. But due to something tragic happening which I will not give away because of spoilers (and also because it's not very well developed yet, hahaha), he ran away at the age of eleven. Since then, he's lived a rough-and-tumble life with the very lowest of the lower class. He's also become a very accomplished young thief.

Dar's a very amiable fellow, staunchly loyal to his friends and fond of amusing the ladies with his gallantries. He's also fairly handsome, with chocolate-brown curls and roguish brown eyes.

Dar:
So, it took me awhile to discover how great
Azalea's Dolls is for character design...

Biff: Dar's best friend. He found him on the street the day he ran away, helped him out of a situation with some bullies, and has taken him under his wing ever since. Biff's the hero of the band of thieves Dar belongs to--think Tom Playfair or Robin Hood or someone similar. He's missing a front top tooth and likes to call Dar "kid."

Biff:
My sister keeps telling me he looks like
Kristoff from Frozen. I can see what she means.

Alphonse: The Prince of Erdania, Dar's identical twin. The tragedies surrounding Dar's running away mellowed rather than roughened him, and he's basically your ideal young leader--good-hearted, brave, and generous. His favorite hobbies are hunting space-dragons and acting Shakespeare. There is a small scar on his forehead from a hunting accident a few years back.

Alphonse:
Alphonse

Raphael Novarex: Alphonse's best friend, a soldier in the Erdanian space force and the son of two nobles. Dutiful and loyal, Raf will have no nonsense from anyone and takes his soldiering duties very seriously. His left hand is mangled from the same hunting accident that gave Alphonse his scar.

Raphael:
For some reason I didn't like the way
the science fiction doll I designed turned
out, so here's a very anachronistic Raf.
Timandra Novarex: Raphael's younger sister. A Shakespeare fanatic, she is a part of Alphonse's royal theater company and is currently working on her first big debut as Juliet. With long black hair and sparkling black eyes, Timandra breathes vivacity, laughter, and fearlessness. Sometimes she's a little much for Raphael to handle...especially when she gets into an overprotective sisterly mood.

Timandra:
Timandra

And that really sums up the surviving main characters, although there are a few others, like Biff's girlfriend, Renna.

What does the plot consist of?


Dar's stolen lots of things in his life. It's kind of ironic that his biggest theft is the theft of something which once belonged to him--the crown.

A revolution has long been boiling under the nobles' noses without their knowledge. The lower class is sick and tired of having to go hungry and barefoot while the nobles use their power selfishly. If they have to overthrow the government with violence and bloodshed on both sides, then so be it. But first they're going to try to take it peacefully, by deception...and they think they have the key to do just that: Prince Alphonse's long-lost twin.

What is the setting?

It's a futuristic setting and takes place largely in space and on the planet Erda, particularly the floating capital city of Romaline and the revolutionists' hidden base. (A rebel base! It's Star Wars!)

Floating Fantasy City:
Image not mine.

Who are the favorite characters in it?

Hmmm.....define "favorite."

For a long time Dar has been the general favorite, but in this draft he's giving me more stress than enjoyment because I want to keep him the old nonchalant lovable Dar while giving him the depth that ought to come with his new backstory.

Timandra is another popular character, and I'm pretty happy with her because I feel she's changed very little in the transition from Draft 2 to Draft 3...which is more than can be said of some people. *glares at Raf, who has been taking on many of Jude's characteristics*

Really, the person I've had the most fun with so far is Biff. Because he's new, I don't have to worry about being true to his old personality while improving his character. I can just run with him, and it's been a delight.

What is the favorite scene?

Golly, I don't think there is one yet. I've only been writing the thing for a few weeks and so far every scene needs rewritten again and again in order for the story to progress. (It's a very difficult, temperamental baby, this one. I feel like I'm writing with a scratchy pen running low on ink.)

I suppose my personal favorites would have to be the scene in the very beginning, because it was easy and fun to write, and a certain confrontation between Alphonse and Dar, because it was so satisfying to finally be writing something that flowed a little.

"There is no saint without a past, no sinner without a future." – St. Augustine:
Image not mine.

Any themes of music for this work?

Well, there are a few works by Tchaikovsky that get me into a space-opera-type mood. And of course I've listened to the Star Wars soundtrack on occasion for inspiration.

But what I've really found helps me while I'm actually writing, for this book, is Les Miserables. I suppose it's the revolutionist mindset. Dar would certainly sympathize with Gavroche and Fantine and Jean Valjean! I wouldn't be surprised if he and Biff regularly break into Do You Hear the People Sing when I'm not looking.

How's it's progress?

*Lucy breaks down and weeps*

I suppose, word-count wise, it's over half-way through. I've stopped dividing it into chapters for now. That really isn't bad, only I'd wanted to be able to pound out a first draft in a week or two, work on Lillian throughout February, and polish this throughout March to be totally done by April 1. Now it looks like I won't be able to focus on Lillian as much as I thought...

It looks like Saphira from Eragon!:
Image not mine.

Any snippets...?

Oh....well....if you insist....
***
"Well, kid, we did it. She's all ready to go." Biff crawled out from under the spacecraft and wiped a smudge of oil from his face. He grinned, showing his missing tooth. "Didn't I tell you we could?"
***
            "Ha! Scared, me?" Dar pointed at himself. "My dear Renna, you are looking at a man who has danced with death on a daily basis ever since he was eleven years old. Of course I'm not scared."
***
            "You wanted to see me act Romeo?" Alphonse held out his arms, grinning. He looked ridiculous in his plumed hat and crimson cape, with a tin rapier at his side. "Dashing, aren't I?"
            Dar smiled faintly. "You look like a fop."
            "And you, brother, like an absolute vagabond. Where'd you get that shirt, from the trash pile? Come on, let's get you into some real clothes."
***
            They had just begun whizzing through the balcony scene when a firm step sounded on the stage. Dar looked up to see a young man in military outfit, his hands on his hips, his rugged face serious under a shock of auburn hair. Raphael Novarex, age 22. First lieutenant pilot in the Erdanian space force. Friend to Alphonse. Brother to Timandra.
***
            Dar groaned inwardly. How could he have been so stupid? He gave a rueful chuckle. "Well, at least I'm dealing with clever opponents." He leaned the back of his head against the seat, chafing his wrists against the rope. "You might even stand a chance against me."
***
            "Hey," said Timandra. "There's that old refueling station. Raf, wouldn't that be a perfect place for—"
            "You read my mind, Timandra," said Raphael. "That'd be a perfect hiding place for a hit ship."
***
            He had failed them. But they wouldn't be ground under the heel of the bourgeois for long. Dar wasn't the only one who'd pledged his life to their happiness.
            If they couldn't win a better life by deception, then they would win one by force.
***
            "Look Alphonse." Dar spoke between gritted teeth. "Maybe what we did was wrong, but we did it for the right reason. There are worse crimes than stealing from royalty—like stealing from the poor. We committed a crime to bring an atrocity to an end."
            "You're accusing the government of stealing from the poor."
            "Yes! That's exactly what I'm doing! That's what this whole thing is all about. Say it, Alphonse—I'm a revolutionist!" Dar found he was trembling. He lowered his voice to almost a whisper. "If you'd lived through what I've lived through, you'd be one too. You'd do anything to stop the starving children, the widows worked to the bone, the girls living on the street. Come see it with me today—you'll join me tomorrow."
***
Any drawings?

Well, not really....I've already showed you most of the results of my playing around on Azalea's Dolls.  I suppose I didn't show you Renna, though.  Here she is. 

Renna:

So there it is! Another Meet the Books! post with Belle Anne @ Worlds of Ink and Paper. What do you think? Would you read it? Who do you think your favorite character would be? Are those of you familiar with the earlier versions going to murder me in my sleep for taking out so many characters? Have you ever had a story undergo drastic changes? 

Note: I will be out of town this weekend, and so there will probably not be a Fatima post this Saturday.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

First Saturday Devotion

Note: The information in this post has been taken from a holy card distributed by Love and Mercy Publications.

It's Saturday, which means it's time for another Fatima post! And not only that, but it's the first Saturday of February. First Saturdays have a special significance for those devoted to Our Lady's Fatima message.

We've been talking about the events which happened around Fatima in 1917; but to explain about the First Saturday aspect of Fatima, we actually have to fast forward in time to 1925. We also have to shift our focus from Fatima, Portugal to Pontevedra, Spain, where Lucia, the only remaining seer of Fatima, had become a nun in a convent there. 

One day in December, Mary and the Christ Child appeared to Sr. Lucia and lamented the sins of mankind. Little Jesus said,

"Have compassion on the heart of your Most Holy Mother, covered with thorns, with which ungrateful men pierce it at every moment, and there is no one to make an act of reparation to remove them."

From Christ's words, we learn the terrible result of our sins. When we hurt Jesus, we hurt Mary, too; and when we hurt Mary, we hurt Jesus. Their hearts are so close to one another that each feels whatever is done to the other as though it were done to Him or her. What could be crueler than to harm somebody's mother? The thorns in Mary's heart must hurt Jesus more than the thorns in His own heart.

Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.:

There are thorns in Mary's heart, "and there is no one to make an act of reparation to remove them."

What can we do?

After Jesus' sorrowful words, Mary said to Lucia,

"Look, my daughter, at my Heart, surrounded with thorns with which ungrateful men pierce me at every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude. You, at least, try to console me and announce for me that I promise to assist at the hour of death, with the graces necessary for salvation, all those who, on the first Saturday of five consecutive months, shall confess, receive Holy Communion, recite five decades of the Rosary, and keep me company for fifteen minutes while meditating on the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary, with the intention of making reparation to me."

Jesus and Mary have given us something to do, some way to console the hurting heart of Mary--and surely, at the same time, the hurting heart of Jesus. 

All we have to do is, for five First Saturdays in a row:

1. Go to confession.
2. Receive Holy Communion.
3. Pray five decades of the rosary.
4. Talk to Mary for fifteen minutes, meditating on one or more of the mysteries of the rosary.
5. Do all the above with the intention of consoling Our Lady's heart and making reparation for the sins that hurt her so.

This is a favor they have asked of us. Can we bear to refuse them?