Thursday, December 23, 2010

Fairfax And Cloves

Yes it has been eons since I have written on here.
Yes I have been busy.
Yes, I truly am sorry. But this season is so busy for us all, that I feel a bit better about my excuses! ;)
Would you all like to read my short-story, "A Tale of Fairfax and Cloves"? I wrote it for Sarah last year, but it has undergone absolutely *no* editing, so do forgive it. If you would like to read it, please leave a comment below preferably before the Christmas season is entirely over (since it's a Christmas tale) and I'll post it! :) Meanwhile, I'll do some touching up on it! :) ~Rachel

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Inkpen Poetry Day: When The Holly's In The Red

“When The Holly’s In the Red”
By Rachel H.

When the holly’s in the red
And the pine is in the green,
When the mornings all are frosty,
In a brilliant silver sheen
Then I love to go a’ walking
Rambling here and there, quite slow,
Plucking greenery and berries;
Wishing for a Christmas snow

When the holly’s in the red
And the pine is in the green
Then my heart is singing blithely
In agreement with the scene.
And I bring a bit of color
To my home from out-of-doors:
Sprays of pine and sprigs of holly
Glimpse of Yuletide during chores.

When the holly’s in the red
And the pine is in the green
I read novels by the fire-
Sweetest setting I have seen-
And the woodsy fragrance follows
As I make my way to bed;
When the pine is in the green
And the holly’s in the red.

Friday, December 3, 2010

"As Unto The Bow"

I really must apologize for the lack of posting on this blog. I have been really busy with our life recently, and in the writing world, with the critique group, so those are my really weak excuses. But I promise I won't quit with this blog! Please keep reading, and leave comments with ideas to make it better! Tell me what you like, and what you think I should change! I'll need lots of advice! :) Now, I know awhile back, I wrote that I don't like un-rhyming poetry, there is at least one exception, and I really do love this poem:

"As Unto The Bow"
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
As unto the bow the cord is,
So unto the man is woman:
Though she bends him, she obeys him;
Though she draws him, yet she follows;
Useless each without the other.

What do you think? Like it? What improvements can I add to this blog? Would you like another contest? Let me know ASAP! Thanks a lot! :) ~Rachel

Friday, November 19, 2010

It's About Time! :)

Sorry I've been so tardy in posting recently! I have been leading a decidedly un-literary life for the past couple of days. ;) Barring the reading of Barnaby Rudge in spare moments! :P Actually, I have been housecleaning, and reading for school, and attending documentary premiers, and percussion recitals, and plucking pin-feathers out of 130+ turkeys...eclectic mix, isn't it? :D
I also just joined an online writing critique group...Christian Young Adult Writers, and I'm so excited! I get to post my first chapter for critique on Monday! Of course, there is the creeping, uneasy feeling at times of what my poor little story will look like all crossed back and forth with comments. ;) But thankfully, all my reading of the Anne books and Little Women have not come back void, I am prepared to "sacrifice the best descriptions" if need be! :)
"A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks that others throw at him." ~Sidney Greenburg

I am trying to do some construction on this blog and get it looking much more refined! Less like a stark clinic and more like a cozy library in an Austen novel! :) So bear with any homeliness in the meantime! :) So Christmas is coming up pretty soon! I was wondering, what is your personal favorite Christmas story or book, besides the One and Only Christmas story that really counts (Jesus' birth! :) ? Leave a comment and tell me! :) ~Rachel

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Inkpen Poetry Day: (A day late :) "November Lines"

"November Lines"
By Rachel H.

November is a Lady fair
Clad in a russet gown
With copper scattered in her hair
And gold spun in her crown.

Her rich, red blood is blushing bright
Deep in that copse of trees;
She walks to meet the coming cold
With stately grace and ease.

Fair is her cousin Spring, no doubt
In apple-blossoms shod
Who dances forth on airy wings
And brings our thoughts toward God.

Fairer yet is Sister-Summer
With emeralds on her brow
And daisies in her azure hem--
To youth her charms endow.

But Queen of wealth and beauty,
In a breeze of spiced perfume--
Fair November meets the Winter:
Lady Autumn and her Groom.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Introducing My Child ;) "A Mother For The Seasonings"

For a long time I have told you all about my book, "A Mother For The Seasonings" and have promised to post some of it. The problem is, I began to realize that it was not at all in a state to be shared....the writing has a lot of I began what I never expected I'd have to do much of: rewriting. :D I don't know why I didn't expect it, but there it is! :) Any way, I finally have the first chapter down in a presentable form. Still not amazing or great literature, but pretty nearly my best for now. So without further ado, I present to you: "A Mother For The Seasonings" by your's truly!

A Mother for the Seasonings © 2010

By Rachel H.

Chapter One: “The Beginning of Things”

It all started in a rather silly way I suppose. You know how we children will get an idea and stick to it through thick and thin. At the very beginning of things, we were all gathered in the parlor, listening to Rosemary tell one of her stories about the “Queen”. The younger children were scattered about her feet, and I was standing in front of the fireplace with hands clasped behind my back, which is a favorite position of mine.

This evening, Rosemary was in the midst of spinning an especially exciting tale: “The orphans heard a knock upon their rickety door: Rap-rap-tap-tap-tap-tap; quietly at first, then growing louder.” She tapped her hand on the floor. “Who would come to the old shack at night? Unless they were—“

“OUTLAWS!” Dill suggested, rather too loudly. Angelica hushed him and gripped the ear of the tiger rug tightly.

“…Unless they were coming for something or someone in particular.” Rosemary continued. “The oldest orphan grabbed the heavy iron poker and crept toward the door, pledged by honor to save the others or die in the attempt. He crept ever nearer the door, and all at once, threw it open and shouted in a loud voice, “WHO GOES THERE? WHAT ARE YOU?”

Dill jumped and stared with round eyes at Rosemary, who held an imaginary poker above her head, her eyes sparkling with excitement. She looked so like Mama at the moment, when she used to tell stories that a lump came into my throat. “Who was at the door?” Fennel whispered. Rosemary smiled mysteriously at Fennel’s wide-eyed expression. “No answer came, but a dark form glided into the room, and stood before the orphans.”

Angelica shivered.

“All at once the dark form threw back her hood, revealing none other than the beautiful Queen! The firelight shone on her golden coronet of hair and-“

“Whass a golden cor’net of hair?” Fennel interrupted.

“Well it’s…well, I’m not exactly sure but it sounds regal! Anyway, the Queen bade the children flee with her, for 3-and-twenty horsemen were just then on their way to do mischief to the orphans! Outside, the Queen had gathered five horses besides her own beautiful white steed. The children mounted the creatures and, as quickly and quietly as a spring breeze, they left the shack and the clearing behind in darkness. They rode all night long, ever dreading to hear the 3-and-twenty sets of hooves in pursuit. But at last, as the morning dawned, they entered the Queen’s own land, and were in real safety at last!”

“Oh Rosie, that’s the best one yet!” Angelica exclaimed.

“It was pretty good, but I still say the 23 horsemen should have tied the children up at stake and started a fire around them, and then the Queen could rescue them!” Dill said.

“I don’t see how the Queen could have put out a fire and killed 23 knights by herself Dill. It works so much better this way!” Rosemary answered.

“I suppose you’re right. But it’s much more exciting my way!” he persisted.

Fenny scooted over to Rosemary and said in a wistful tone, “I wish the queen would come and get us.”

Rosemary smiled, then winked at me. “But then who would take care of Papa?” Fennel bit her lip and was silent for a moment. Then she replied with confidence, “Sali can marry him, and then he will always have someone to cook for him!”

Dill and I hooted at the thought, for Sali was a native woman who was employed as our cook. She was as wide as she was tall, and grouchy, but she was the most talented cook in the Cape so we didn’t mind much.

“Don’t laugh at me. Why wouldn’t it work? We could have a wedding, and I could be a flower girl, and then we could live with the Queen!”

Rosemary wiped her eyes with the hem of the pinafore and said, “Oh Fenny dear, Father would miss us too much. We’ll just have to wait and hope that someday a Queen will come and marry Father.” But she finished the words with a soft sigh.

“Well, Queen Victoria is already married, and I daresay she wouldn’t have Papa if he asked her!” Dill stated frankly. “Besides, I wouldn’t want to live in a castle.” He frowned.

“Why ever not, Dill?” Angie touched a spider’s web in the corner.

“Well, for one thing, castles are too safe! There’s no adventure at a castle!”

“Except in the Wars,…and down in the dungeon where all the desperate criminals are kept! And they are constantly having banquets: miles of tables groaning with food; potatoes and hams, fowl and vegetables, soups and bread, pastries, pies….” As Angie said this, she plucked the little spider from its web, and threw it out the window. Rosemary shuddered and tucked her skirt tightly around her feet.

“And roasts, and trifles, and mulled cider, and mountains of fluffy white rolls…” she continued. Dill appeared more transported by Angie’s description of banquets than he had at any part of the Queen story. “Well,” he conceded at last, “Perhaps I could stand being a King or something like that!”

The others burst into laughter. “You’d be Old King Cole!” Angie remarked, and she began the rhyme.

Old King Cole

Was a merry old soul

And a merry old soul was he!

He called for his pipe,

And he called for his bowl,

And he called for his fiddlers three!”

Dill did look like the illustration in Fennel’s nursery rhyme book, and I had a hard time keeping a straight face. Indeed, he already possessed the rounded figure and the rosy cheeks of the character, so that if he only were wearing a white periwig, it would have been perfect. Far from vexed at the comparison, Dill merely spread the lace antimacassar of his chair regally over his shoulders and drawled, “It would depend entirely, Miss Angelica, on what the bowl contained!”

We all burst into laughter at the splendid finish to the joke. I dethroned Dill with a good-natured shove, and we all returned to our former positions. “When will Papa be home?” Fennel hopped off of Rosemary’s lap and ran to the window. The great, red, Indian sun set late this time of year, so there was no need for street lamps.

“Papa’s working late again this evening, remember?” Dill replied. Fennel gazed out the window through the hibiscus bush, trying to catch a glimpse of Papa.

“It seems like we never get time with Papa anymore!” Angie bounced one foot upon the other, and shook her blond head.

“Well, he’s so busy at the camp!” I said.

“Why don’t we go down tomorrow and surprise him with a visit? We can walk down the railroad tracks and bring a picnic!” Angelica suggested. The others jumped at the idea, but I wasn’t so sure. “It’s a good idea, Angie, but…what would the OLAF say?”

Angelica scoffed.

“Aw! They always stop all our good ideas!” Dill complained. “Last time we wanted to play in the river, Mrs. Humphreys told us we’d drown, and Mrs. Major Warner said we’d be `et by piranhas!’ Those were her very words!”

I laughed. “Well Dill, at least that proves the OLAF doesn’t hate us! Besides, we really don’t know what is swimming in the river! There very well could be piranhas!”

“But Basil, piranhas live in the Amazon River in South America! Papa told me! This is India!” Dill pained expression was quite comical to behold.

“Now Dill,” Rosemary said, “we mustn’t blame Mrs. Major Warner for not having a handsome, clever, Papa to explain things to her!”

“Well, neither do we… anymore.” Dill said.

“Dill! Don’t talk that way! Papa doesn’t like having to work so late, but he has to do as the Colonel says!” Rosemary remonstrated. “He hates not being able to spend time with us!”

“Well. That all may be good and well! I believe Papa loves us dearly! And we love him! But the OLAF are always talking about it!” Angie said.

I groaned and passed a hand over my eyes. The OLAF was the name we had given to the women of our settlement. It was an acronym for Old Ladies Against Fun. If the title seems disrespectful, I do apologize, but even after things changed, it had become too natural to lay aside. Papa wasn’t able to spend as much time with us as he used to, but still, we loved him more than anyone we can think of. He is the best father in Cape Farsight, and even in the whole of India, or maybe the whole world.

The conversation lagged for a bit after we decided against visiting Papa at work. The dusk of the room deepened, and since Sali had not come in to light the candles, we sat in the half-light, each busy with our own thoughts. Ever so faintly through the window, we could hear a parrot screaming in the jungle.

All at once Angie sat up from where she lay stroking the tiger rug’s head and said, “Why can’t Papa get a new wife? I heard Major Warner’s wife say that he was a good `catch’ whatever that means.”

And she returned to her position on the rug, tracing the stripes on the fur.

“Well…it might seem strange. He just can’t!” I answered.

“But…why not?” Dill asked, looking at me keenly.

Rosemary lifted hopeful eyes to me, and even Fenny followed her example.

I began to feel decidedly uncomfortable. The idea was new, and I was not sure I liked it. For so long it had just been us children and Papa. It seemed that a new wife for Papa might feel out of place and foreign. Besides, hadn’t we been getting along just fine? True, Papa was so busy we seldom saw him outside of the evenings, but would a stranger in the house be worth the awkwardness of change? I had grown to accept the fact that our family consisted of a Papa, and five children. The memory of Mama ruled in my mind; the faint portrait of another parent, now forever silent, but still present.

“The reason Father can’t get married is because… well… you know… “ I stammered.


“Yes, why not Basil?” Angie asked. “We haven’t had a mother for so long!”

“Mother.” The word rang in my head like a pleasant song. I had thought of Papa having another wife, but I had overlooked the fact that we’d have a new mother. Faint remembrances of perfumed hugs and soft kisses, of winsome songs and silver laughter flooded my mind. A “mother” seemed quite different than a “wife”. A sudden eager ache gripped my heart, and I longed for a mother with a frightening intensity.

“Oh. I don’t see why Papa can’t get married if he wants to. Though he won’t get a real live Queen, I’ll warrant.” I finally admitted, trying to speak lightly so as not to sound too changeable.

Angie stood up. “All right! All we need to do is find a match for Father! Let’s see… there is Lieutenant Sander’s daughter Lily…”

Rosemary interrupted. “Father still loves Mama even though she’s gone. It wouldn’t seem disloyal would it?” and I could tell by her anxious look that the suggestion was a difficult sacrifice of this new hope.

“Do you think a new Mama would make us spice cookies?” Dill asked hopefully.

“Would our new Mama sing me to sleep?” asked Fennel.

“Would she brush my hair without pulling it?” Angie added, grinning at Rosemary.

It was my turn to speak now. “Mama has been gone ever since Fenny was born. And Fennel’s a big girl now! I think Mama would want Papa to be happy. We have to remember that. We’ve been motherless for long enough! The OLAF says you girls are mad as March hares, and they say that we boys need a `gentle, firm hand in our lives’. I think it’s high time that we have a mother. Now, I propose a plan…”

* * * * *

The next morning we waved goodbye to Angie from the gate of our little cottage on Barholt Lane. She wore her best Sunday dress, and a great big white hat. Her curls showed softly beneath the brim, and over all she looked just like a china doll I had seen in one of Fennel’s books. Dill thumped me on the back and congratulated me on coming with the splendid idea in the first place.

I knew that Angie is capable of very charming manners, so I suggested we dress her up, and send her off to the Ladies’ Club where the OLAF meets. I thought that if she could listen to enough gossip, she might hear of any ladies that were single or widowed or looking to be married.

Anyway, we waved goodbye to our little sister, and she grinned and stuck her tongue out, before turning back to the road and curtseying to Major Warner just as he passed. As I’ve told you, she could have good manners if she had a mind to.

* * * *

That same afternoon Angie came tearing into the yard, waving a piece of paper.

She paused to catch her breath and straighten her hat that sat askew on her curls. “I have a whole list of eligible ladies!” She pranced around like a peacock. Dill grabbed it and proceeded to read off a lengthy list of names.

Rosemary and Fenny joined us in the yard, and we all sat along the fence listening to Dill. “But not all of these women can marry Papa!” Rosemary reminded us.

“Of course not goose. But I don’t think all of them would want to!” I took the list from Dill and studied it. “Angie, this is your handwriting. However did you get a chance to write the names down if you were sitting in the middle of the meeting?”

She only grinned more broadly than ever and said, “I wasn’t.”

Now I was confused. “If you didn’t sit in the meeting, then how did you find out about all these people?” I waved the piece of paper in her face.

“I sat behind that group of potted palms. Ram Nokis knew I was there, and he slipped me three cookies. He really is a very nice waiter. Too bad we don’t have a mother that needs to get married. He is so nice and has a funny little parrot that rides around on his shoulder and squawks rude things at the ladies. Then Ram Nokis has to lock him up in the larder until he stops.”

“But you still haven’t told us how you got the names.” I pressed. Angie gave me a withering glance. “As I said before, I was sitting behind the palms, and I found an old receipt from someone’s bill, and you know what they bought? Three dozen tarts and a bottle of champagne! Think of all that rich food. Whoever ate all that must have felt sick!”

I was about to pinch Angie to help her stay focused, but she saw me and continued with the story. “Anyway, I asked Ram Nokis for a pencil, and he gave it to me, and I listened to the OLAF and wrote every name down. Well, at least the ones that they said were unmarried or widowed or that sort of thing.”

I read the remaining names scrawled on the paper. “Widow Tabythuh Micklurrin, Miss Sinthyuh Lowell, Miss Jone Preengul…. And Dill read you the rest. Eleven in all. “I propose that we go about this in a reasonable way. We’ll pick a name every day and visit that lady. If she isn’t the right one, then we’ll visit another the next day. That way we might find a mother before too long!”

All the others agreed with my idea.

“Capital logic Basil- I should have suggested just that sort of thing!” Dill agreed.

I should explain that these were the summer holidays, and I knew we would have many a long, empty week to go “mother-hunting” That evening when Papa came in to kiss us goodnight, we all feared Fennel would give the secret away. I was sitting near the hearth whittling a piece of wood into an elephant for her. She was looking on as Dill began talking about the OLAF. “The women there eat so much, it’s a wonder they aren’t all as fat as…as monkeys!” he finished, for lack of a better comparison.

“They sure do! They ate hundreds a’ tarts!” Fennel spoke up. We all froze, hoping against hope that Fennel would stop speaking. Rosemary’s hands trembled as she continued to knit, and Dill’s face had assumed a threatening expression. Angie was the only one who could gather her wits about her. “You’re right Fennel! The OLAF does eat a lot of tarts! You know, if you and I stacked up all the tarts they ate in a month, I bet it would reach all the way to the tippy-top of the church steeple! Or we could make a whole castle out of tarts for your dolls! Wouldn’t that be charming?” she asked, thereby diverting the conversation into safer waters. She grabbed Fennel by the pinafore and marched her behind the sofa under pretence of drawing plans for a tart-castle. Once out of sight, I could hear their whispered conversation.

“Fennel Seasoning! Don’t you dare say another word about the tarts! You’ll end up spoiling our secret!”

“What secret?” Fennel asked eagerly.

“The secret about finding a mother! Remember Basil told us not to speak of it?”

“Ohhh…. I’m sorry Angie! Did I spoil it?” she asked, a note of panic in her voice.

“No silly. Not yet, but you almost did. Just be quiet for pity’s sake, and only talk about the weather or the garden or something!”

I tried to stifle a laugh. We had decided it would be no good to tell Papa our plan. Rosemary thought that he might get sad and remember Mama and not want to get married and then all our plans would be spoiled.

Angelica and Fennel returned to the group, and sat down.

“The weather was real pretty today wasn’t it?” Fennel immediately began.

“Yes it was Fenny.” Papa agreed.

“No rain, or thunder, or lightening, or anything!” she continued.

“No Fennel, you’re quite right. The weather is usually perfect this time of year.”

“Yep. Just perfect. I didn’t even need my stockings! And Rosemary let me play in the garden barefoot!” Fennel said.

“Is that so?”

“Yes! But I think rain would be good for the garden! But the weather is so pretty! Don’t you like this weather? I like this weather!”

Angelica poked her hard in the ribs, and frowned.

“What? You said I should talk `bout the—“

“Papa!” I interrupted just in time.


I grabbed mentally for any topic that would divert the subject. “Wasn’t the roast extra good tonight?”

Angie rolled her eyes at the weak attempt. Papa smiled faintly. “Yes, it was very good. But Sali always cooks the meat to perfection.”

We were silent for some time. The knowledge that we could not talk about the one all-consuming subject of finding a mother had put a damper on our ability to make conversation.

At last, Papa roused himself with a sad smile. “I’m sorry to be so dull tonight. It is—was—you mother’s birthday…But she would want us to be cheerful tonight. Come, tell me about your day!” So he took Fennel upon his knee, and examined the grubby bouquet of flowers Angie offered with assumed cheerfulness. Rosemary leaned over the back of his chair and stroked his head while Dill chattered away about a huge fish that we had found washed up on the sand. “How was your day at camp? I finally asked, for he was in charge of training new recruits for the British Army. As if glad for a new topic, he smiled and charged bravely forward with a report of the entire goings on.

After Papa had prayed with us and tucked each one of us in own beds, I lay awake, watching the shadows of the mango tree wave and flutter on the wall.

I wondered if our plan would succeed, and if we ever would have a real mother again. It was late when at last I heard Papa go into his bedroom. Not long after I succumbed to my own weariness, and fell asleep, the day’s distractions slipping peacefully away.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Inkpen Poetry Day: Nothings

By Rachel H.

There's nothing as green as the grass,
And nothing as blue as the sky,
There's nothing as crystal as glass,
Nothing sweeter than warm apple pie!

There's nothing like root beer to drink,
There's nothing like flowers to smell
And nothing like minds that'll think,
Nothing swirlier than a snail shell.

There's nothing like snowfall for white
There's nothing like lemons for yellow,
And nothing like moon for the night,
Nothing wiggles and jiggles like Jell-O.

There's nothing as funny as laughter,
There's nothing so fleeting as time,
There's nothing so final as "after"
And nothing like ending this rhyme.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

"Once Upon A Time"?

It has often been said that the most important part of your story is the first sentence. If you hook your reader in the first few words, and continue to write an interesting story, chances are, they will continue reading! But first sentences really are important. You may have a great sentence down the next paragraph, but as someone once said, "If your reader doesn't get that far, he'll never read it!" :) "Once Upon a Time" is a dear, old-fashioned opening, but let's agree, it is over-used by now! :) I was thinking about this idea, and so I thought I'd examine some famous books, and see how great their first sentences were! :)

Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers: "If you want to find Cherry Tree Lane, all you have to do is ask the policeman at the crossroads." Right away, we wonder what Cherry Tree Lane is, and why the policeman knows. We continue to read! :)

The Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens: "Marley was dead to begin with. There's no doubt whatever about that." Ha! I love this one. Obviously, this captures our attention magnificently, as it is an extremely uncouth way to begin a tale! :)

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett: "When Mary Lennox was sent to Misselthwaite Manor, to live with her uncle, every one said she was the most disagreeable looking child ever seen." Don't you wish to find out what made her disagreeable?

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott: "Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents!" grumbled Jo, lying on the rug." Well, why don't they have any presents this year? We keep reading! :)

And the best one of all! :) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."
Oh boy! You begin laughing from the start, and that single sentence has entirely captured your attention! :)

Do you see what I mean? How very important first sentences are? I am afraid I don't do a great job of first sentences....the best one I've come up with's not great so I'm not posting it! :P Hope this helped inspire you to come up with witty openings! :) -Rachel

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Are You Procrastinating Too? ;)

I am guilty, at times, of procrastinating....I am not the type who uses "Things are never quiet enough" for an excuse. I have lived too long in a family of 10 for that! But I am guilty of having 2 dozen projects going on at once, and burying the writing I know I must accomplish under those 24 other things, instead of going to it and doing the rewriting and editing. I do realize, however, that some of you may not have the privilege of the wonderful training life in a large family may give you! Here are some tips from famous authors, that I have found so, so, so true! :)

“The secret of it all, is to write in the gush, the throb, the flood, of the moment – to put things down without deliberation – without worrying about their style – without waiting for a fit time or place. I always worked that way. I took the first scrap of paper, the first doorstep, the first desk, and wrote – wrote, wrote…By writing at the instant the very heartbeat of life is caught.” – Walt Whitman.

Agreed! This is a very true statement! :)

“A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.” – E.B. White.

Again, I totally agree. Just as in life you cannot stand by waiting for sunny days, in writing, you must just begin to write! The words will come when you least expect them, and, as you continue writing, nine times out of ten you will end up with something infinitely more clever than you could have pounded out if you tried!

"The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes" ~Agatha Christie

This woman has got it right! Really! I have scraps of paper littering my drawer and writing desk with idea for poems, stories, and many things, that have come to my mind while doing the most mundane tasks! Do try it! If you try to put off writing, I challenge you to sit down as soon as you can, begin writing, and see what comes of it! :) -Rachel

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

What Are Mothers Made Of? :)

As I tried to let Mama rest on her birthday, and make her a special birthday dinner with the girls, I was reflecting on just what does make a mother what she is. Of course, I do think and feel like a mother in many of these areas, but I am not a mother yet! :) I think we should all stop now and then and think over how much mothers do for us! :) Here are my thoughts on the subject:

I can take care of a household, do all the chores, fix meals, and keep laundry running and folded, but until I can do all of that while holding a baby in one arm and a 3 year old by the other hand, I will not know how it feels to be a mother.

I may be able to handle all the problems that come up in my life, but until I can look a weeping six-year old in the face, and listen to their little tragedies without laughing, and help them through their trials without making them feel like ridiculous "children", I do not have the ever-ready understanding of a mother.

I may be able to wrap presents beautifully and concisely, but until I can step over the untidy makings of an eight-year-old boy's gift-box to lay paper down before he spatters the table with paint and all the time praise his ingenuity, I haven' the patience of a mother.

I may be able to make a pie-crust flaky to perfection, but until I can make one with a sister standing in between my arms, helping me roll the dough flat, I don't have the foresight of a mother.

I may be able to sew a doll dress, ice a cake, do any of a number of things eight times faster than a little child, but until I can let them help, and not mind the crooked stitches, or lumpy icing, I won't be thinking like a mother.

I may be preparing a gorgeous meal, and setting the table beautifully, but until I can let a little brother light the candles, even if he uses up ten matches, and until I can all the while thread a needle for a little sister eight-hundred times, and still emerge from the kitchen with a smile on my face, I don't have the multi-tasking abilities of a mother.

I may be able to appreciate great works of art and beautiful music, but until I can hear the "Moonlight Sonata" played fifty times over, and until I can look at a 6 year old's drawing and see as much promise, and as much beauty as if it were hanging in a museum or recorded on a c.d., I don't have the eyes and ears of a mother...

Thanks Mama! :) Love, Rachel

Monday, November 1, 2010

Inkpen Poetry Day: Frosty Morning

Good morning! This is a poem I wrote this morning, inspired by the frost we have had lately. Oh I dearly love frost! It absolutely transforms everything it touches! But of course, if I continue on, I'll spoil the poem for you! So I will simply stop talking! :)

"Frosty Morning"
by Rachel H.
I've heard that in the halls of old
They plated everything with gold-
The chandeliers, the pillars, floors
With spoils from their latest wars.
Yet all this splendor cannot be
As rich as what is given me.

For every night as soft we sleep
Out in the dark, and midnight deep
A beauteous miracle is done
Before the waking of the sun;

And if I wake just at the dawn
I catch a glimpse of what went on:
Each leaf is clad in crystal cloak,
The grass glimmers in fairy smoke.
The rudest bramble, tinged with rust
Is sprinkled well with diamond-dust.

The thorn, the tree, the hidden flower
Are glittering with a silver shower
And things that never caught my eye
Are regal in their shimmering dye.

This miracle is but for those
Who early from their beds arose
And I can say I'm wealthy quite:
My world is gilded every night!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Announcing The Winner of The Autumn Writing Contest!!!!

At Last! The Moment we've all been waiting for! The winner of the Inkpen Authoress's Autumn Writing contest is announced!!!! Thank you to each and every one of you girls who entered! I enjoyed so much receiving every entry! As I remember, the prize for winning this contest, is the publishing of your entry on this blog, and in our family newspaper. I read through the entries this afternoon, and though each one was very good, I chose the one entry that to me captured the spirit of the contest, and was in short, the best. Although the choice was hard, I finally decided the winner. Everybody please congratulate Miss Abigail Taylor on her poem "The Changing of the Leaves"! You may read the poem in full below, but first I want to again thank each of the girls who entered this contest! Do you think there should be another contest sometime? Let me know!

"The Changing of the Leaves."
By Miss Abigail Taylor

Splendid colors of every hue

Accentuated by skies of deepest blue

Like carefree laughter of the trees

Is the changing of the leaves

The oaks unfold their acorn crop

Squirrels squirrel-away the ones that drop

They know they have no time for ease

At the changing of the leaves

The white-tailed buck deer seeks a mate

He shakes his head and makes a scrape

With eager eyes the hunter sees

A promise in the changing leaves

The golden sun smiles gentler rays

The land is blessed with cooler days

The farmer welcomes the gypsy breeze

That accompanies the changing leaves

Bittersweet comes the end of summer-long

Like the close of a book or the end of a song

Boys and girls study ABC's

While they'd rather be playing in the leaves

For though flowers of summer are bright and lush

More resplendent still was the Artist's brush

When He uniquely painted fair Autumn's trees

And designed the changing of the leaves.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A New Side of C.S. Lewis

Who doesn't love C.S. Lewis? His Chronicles of Narnia series will never fail to delight and inspire its readers, and I understand his non-fiction books are equally amazing! :) I don't know about you all, but there is nothing I like better than to discover a new side to one of my favorite authors! :) So today while at my aunt's house when Sarah brought over a volume of C.S. Lewis's poetry, I knew I had to take a look! For some reason it had never crossed my mind that anyone who excelled so in prose could turn out such lovely poetry! Some of it, indeed, had a strange meter to it, but I found much of it beautiful! The discovery gave me the sort of feeling I had when I found out that Rachel Field, long one of my favorite poets, was an acclaimed authoress of novels also! :) Here are two of the poems that I found especially thoughtful. Beware though, you will have to put your mind to thinking a bit more with his poetry than if you are reading Robert Louis Stevenson! ;)

"Late Summer"
by C.S. Lewis

I, dusty and bedraggled as I am,
Pestered with wasps and weeds and making jam,
Blowzy and stale, my welcome long outstayed,
Proved false in every promise that I made,
At my beginning I believed, like you,
Something would come of all my green and blue.
Mortals remember, looking on the thing
I am, that I, even I, was once a spring.

Isn't that so bittersweet? Mama said it reminded her of an elderly person! :( The next poem, is addressed to "Andrew Marvell". I hadn't a clue who he was, so I took the liberty of Google-searching him, and found he was a poet in the late 17th century... I suppose he was criticized for writing light verse, as the general taste ran toward heavy, thinking, poetry, but I found the ideas in this poem very well fit my taste in poetry! (excepting the "godlike power" part, of course!) :)

"To Andrew Marvell"
by C.S. Lewis
Marvell, they say your verse is faint
Beside the range of Donne's;
Too clear for them, too free from taint
Of noise, your music runs.

Their sultry minds can ill conceive
How godlike power should dwell
Except where lungs with torment heave
And giant muscles swell.

The better swordsman with a smile
His cool passado gives;
Smooth is the flooding of the Nile
By which all Egypt lives.

Sweetness and strength from regions far
Withdrawn and strange you bring,
And look no stronger than a star
No graver than the spring.

*Passado: a thrust in fencing with one foot advanced
So I hope you enjoyed this rather deeper journey into poetry...this is the sort of thing that real poets write...*goes off to sigh over her own poetry* ;) I think it would be ever so much easier to write poetry for children! *goes off again to read "A Child's Garden of Verses"* ;) -Rachel

Monday, October 25, 2010

Inkpen Poetry Day: Introducing Miss P's China

Sorry today's poem is so late! :) Before you read this poem, I had better do some explaining: You girls doubtless know that I have been greatly influenced by Louisa May Alcott's writing. I can totally identify with the March girls in Little Women- we have six girls, but the older four of us are in a little pocket hemmed in by two boys. Years ago, when reading Little Women, I wished to start up a club like their "Pickwick Society", but as many of you have already heard the story, I won't go into detail. Click Here For More. We named our paper "The Girls' Gazette" (G.G. for short) and decided to have a tea party every Wednesday afternoon. Now, we all chose pen names, and Sarah's is Louisa Joy Popplewell.(Hence the reference below) Mama and Dad have a tradition of buying a tea-set for each one of us girls when we turn 13. Long story, but Sarah did not get her's till shortly before her 16th birthday this summer! :D So I made up this little poem for the occasion. Now, read the poem in peace! :D
"Introducing Miss P's China"
By Rachel H.

China for group of eight;
Cup and bowl and dinner plate
Finally coming much too late;
(A year too late, times three!)

Here we learn the happy truth:
These shall serve our merry youth
And we'll gravely break a tooth
On sweets a year-times-three.

A Benediction now I lay
Upon the porcelain this day,
And hope it's safe to finally say:
"Louisa, pour the tea!"

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Autumn Fancies- Anonymous

"Autumn Fancies"

The Maple is a dainty maid
The pet of all the wood
Who lights the dusky forest glade
With scarlet cloak and hood.

The elm a lovely lady is
In shimmering robes of gold
That catch the sunlight when she moves
And glisten, fold on fold.

The sumac is a Gypsy Queen
Who flaunts in crimson dressed,
And wild along the roadside runs,
Red blossoms at her breast.

And towering tall above the trees
Wrapped in his purple cloak,
A monarch in his splendor
Is the proud, and princely oak.

*Sigh* I've always loved this poem, and by the time I was about 10, I had it memorized. The sight of a brilliantly colored tree never fails to bring this little poem to mind, and I even absentmindedly made up a tune to sing it to...a very lame tune, but I was only 10 years old! :) Hope you enjoy it! :) DON'T FORGET!!!! ONLY 6 DAYS LEFT TO ENTER THE AUTUMN WRITING CONTEST!!!! SEE BUTTON ON SIDEBAR FOR DETAILS!!!! = D

Friday, October 22, 2010

Is Simple Best After All?

Have you ever received a piece of information just a teensy bit too late? That happened to me recently! I have been reading "Revision and Self-editing: Techiniques for transforming your first draft into a finished novel" by James Scott Bell. Recently I sent my manuscript to a publisher, only to withdraw it due to some of the company's policies that I didn't agree with. But I am not sure that I quite understood just how unfinished my novel was. A friend introduced me over the web to a wonderful blessing: a young lady named Claire who has since been acting as a sort of editor for my book. She has opened my eyes to the fact that I have problems with telling my story instead of showing it. I laughed aloud one time at one of her comment blocks; she said something like: "You are telling the reader instead of showing them. This is a technique popular in classic novels like David Copperfield, Anne of Green Gables, etc." because you know, it's true! That is the great majority of what I read, and so naturally my writing conforms itself toward that ideal. The problem? The writing world has changed since then, and readers do want you to show them the scene rather than tell it is many words. :) But back to the book I've been reading. I had always assumed (and Mama with me) that when writing dialog, it was profitable, and better writing to use alternative words for "said". Therefore, my dialog is peppered with "retorted", "answered", "stated", etc. I avoided little generic "said", that gloriously all-purpose word out of fear for it's very usefulness! But here is a passage in the aforementioned book that struck my eye:
"An attribution tells the reader who is speaking. Almost always, the simple said should be your default setting. Some writers, under the erroneous impression that said isn't creative enough, will strain to find ways not to use it. This is a mistake. Said is almost invisible to the reader but for its primary use as a tag to tell us who is speaking. It does its work and stays out of the way."

Wow. This perfectly describes my writing! :) *blush* But you know, this is what writing is about. This is why reading is profitable. This is why scribbling is my passion! :) There is always something to be learned that you have not heard. So please listen. I wonder if the things I write now will seem as immature, and...awful as the things I wrote as a 12 year old. Back then, I thought them prime literature! ;) Now...I laugh ruefully, still remembering how I cherished those stories and poems. Doesn't it then stand to reason that what we think is a masterpiece in creation now, will be viewed in rather a different light 10 years hence? Therefore, do learn new techniques...until I met Claire, I had never heard of show vs. tell. She recommends joining a writing critique group, (which I have yet to do) because, as the old saying goes: "Two heads are better than one!" and others catch mistakes or flaws in our writing that may be blind spots. If I have learned one thing through-out my small writing experience, it is that you must view criticism not as a thing to be offended at and avoid, but...merely an opportunity to refine your craft, and make your story a thing to be proud of in 10 or 12 years! Hope you enjoyed this tip from "Revision and Self-editing" by James Scott Bell! It was definitely worth the purchase! :)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

"Qualities For A Grandma"

“Qualities for a Grandma”

By Rachel Heffington

I wrote here some things, quite a lot,

A grandma should be, and what she should not.

She should always be squishy, like bread in a pan,

She should drive an old Buick and never a van.

She should talk about flowers and intr’esting things

And hum when she’s happy `cause grandmas don’t sing.

She should have quite a store of things in a tin

That are good to eat- she’ll have wrinkly skin.

She should have a broad lap that makes a good seat,

And a grandma should never go `round in bare feet!

She should call you an angel and sometimes a dear,

And when you get hurt she’ll always be here.

And when you come vis’ting, she’ll sure be at home,

Because tisn’t often that grandmas should roam!

She’ll make you feel cozy, like toes by a fire,

And her clothes always smell like they’re fresh from the drier,

She should have a soft chin and nice padded knees—

I know this is right for Grandmamma has these!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Various and Sundries!

Greeting Fellow Writers! I have been gone all week at Daughters of Destiny, so do forgive the lack of posting! I promise to come up with something good to post on here soon! We just jumped back into life running so I'm super busy! But here are some things to hold you till next post...

1. Thanks to my new follower! We are getting a nice, cozy, community over here at last! :)
2. How on earth can any person on earth have time to do NaNaWriMo? (I just finally found out what it was!)
4. Anyone read any good classics recently? Any to recommend?
5. One last thing: Please leave a comment answering these four simple questions:

A. What do I need more of: interesting posts, my writing, or tips?
B. Of my writing, what would you like to see more of: poetry, stories, short pieces of any sort?
C. If I had any other contests or blog parties, would you enter?
D. What made you decide to follow my blog?

Okay! I'll be rather sad if some people don't comment, because than I'd know for sure that you all were sick and tired of this blog! :( I cherish each and every one of you girls, so please keep reading! :) Love, Rachel

Saturday, October 9, 2010

You're Never Too Old For This! =)

Hello Fellow Scribblers! :) Before I begin this post, I thought I'd remind you all that there are only....22 days to enter the Autumn Writing Contest! Yes, I know publicity reminders are irritating, but I only have one real entry right now and I'd love to hear from all you girls on there! Thanks to my several new followers! You girls are what will make this a cozy little blog! :) Now for the real business.... Some poor people labor under the delusion that the Winne-The-Pooh books by A.A. Milne are for children. If you think that is a funny and wrong statement, I believe you have never read the real books! Read this quote from one website:

"Interestingly, Milne didn't write the Pooh stories and poems for children but instead intended them for the child within us."

And I have found this to be wonderfully true! :) In my opinion, Disney has watered down the Winne-The-Pooh stories and characters until they are for children and no one else. But I have seldom seen such wit and comedy in any other easy-reading book that you can find in the Winne-The-Pooh series! The humor is characterized by mispellings, amusing capitalizations, adorably choppy conversations, and...Pooh logic! Here are several quotes from the various books:
"Just what I feel," said Rabbit. "What do you say, Pooh?" Pooh opened his eyes with a jerk and said, "Extremely." "Extremely what?" asked Rabbit. "What you were saying," said Pooh. "Undoubtably." Piglet gave Pooh a stiffening sort of nudge, and Pooh, who felt more and more that he was somewhere else, got up slowly and began to look for himself. "But how shall we do it?" asked Piglet. "What sort of a lesson, Rabbit?" "That's the point," said Rabbit. The word "lesson" came back to Pooh as one he had heard before somewhere. "There's a thing called Twy-stymes," he said. "Christopher Robin tried to teach it to me once, but it didn't." "What didn't?" said Rabbit. "Didn't what?" said Piglet. Pooh shook his head. "I don't know," he said. "It just didn't."

"Well," said Owl, "the customary procedure in such cases is as follows." "What does Crustimoney Proseedcake mean?" said Pooh. "For I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words Bother me." "It means the Thing to Do." "As long as it means that, I don't mind," said Pooh humbly. "The thing to do is as follows. First, Issue a Reward. Then---" "Just a moment," said Pooh, holding up his paw. What do we do to this--what you were saying? You sneezed just as you were going to tell me." "I didn't sneeze." "Yes you did Owl." "Excuse me, Pooh, I didn't. You can't sneeze without knowing it." "Well, you can't know it without something having been sneezed." "What I said was, `First Issue a Reward.' " "You're doing it again," said Pooh sadly."

"A bear, however hard he tries,
Grows tubby without exercise.
Our Teddy Bear is short and fat
Which is not to be wondered at;
He gets what exercise he can
By falling off the ottoman,
But generally seems to lack
The energy to clamber back....

Our bear rejoiced like anything
To read about this famous King,
Nicknamed "The Handsome." There he sat,
And certainly the man was fat.
Nicknamed "The Handsome." Not a doubt
The man was definitely stout.
Why then, a bear (for all his tub)
Might yet be named "The Handsome Cub"!

Anyway, I hope you will read A.A. Milne's books and enjoy them as much as my family and I have! It may be strange to believe at first, but one of the chapters in a book that we have laughed at so hard we cry is the "Heffalump-Hunting" chapter of one of the Pooh books! Read them! They are amazingly funny! :) -Rachel

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Excerpts From a "Green Gables Letter"

I absolutely love reading "behind the scenes" bits and pieces of famous authors' lives. Generally the best ones come from their letters and journals, where their true thoughts were spilled out, and thought "safe" from the public eye! :D We have a thin volume entitled: "The Green Gables Letters: from L.M.Montgomery to Ephraim Weber", published by Borealis Book Publishing, and I have read it several times. One part in particular is very amusing. Miss Montgomery was in the midst of writing the second "Anne" book, and was writing to Mr. Weber about the process:
"I don't like my new Anne book as well as the first but that may be, as you say, because I am so soaked and sated with her. I can see no freshness or interest in it. But, I suppose if I took the greatest masterpiece in fiction and read it over, say, a hundred times, one after the other with no interval between, I wouldn't find much of either in it also. I felt the same, though no so strongly when I finished Anne......The book deals with her experiences while teaching for two years in Avonlea school. The publishers wanted this-- and I'm awfully afraid if the thing takes, they'll want me to write her through college. The idea makes me sick. I feel like the magician in the Eastern story who became the slave of the "jinn" he had conjured out of a bottle. If I'm to be dragged at Anne's chariot wheels the rest of my life I'll bitterly repent having "created" her."

What tickles me about that whole passage, is that every one of us writers who have taken our books to the end and edited them, knows exactly how Lucy Maud Montgomery felt! And it is wonderfully reassuring to know that even when one is famous, that feeling does not change! :) I have read my book to shreds, picked it apart, looked at it inside out and upside down, till I doubt there is any originality, or continuity in the thing. That is when I lay it aside and forget about it for a little while. If ever you are in a blank spot in your writing, it really does help to read the famous authors' private never read of writer's block in the text of....well, "David Copperfield" for instance, and yet, perhaps Dickens had a few blank moments! :) Anyway, whether you benefit in your writing from reading such things, I know they are at least, amusing and insightful! -Rachel

Monday, October 4, 2010

Monday's Inkpen Poetry Day!

To keep things simple, I'm going to start by making every Monday the day of the week that I'll post some of my own poetry on this blog. I know you all don't want to read solely things I've written, so I'll do it this way! ;) Any ideas for what I should call it? :/ Anyhow, here are this week's poems!

“For a Nest”

By Rachel Heffington

Nestled in a flower pot,

Snug beneath the whispering pine

Lulled by breezes waltzing past,

Rocked by arms of green-briar vine,

Lies a cradle with five eggs-

Warmed by feathers soft and fine.

Woven by a little wren

Snug with walls of fragrant straw

From the pine that murmurs close,

She builds her nest by ancient law.

How does she know to place each twig?

I wonder at the things I saw.

Little bird with up-turned tail,

Russet colored wings and coat,

Creamy streak above her eye,

Russet speckles on her throat:

All her babes shall look like she,

Singing songs that Heaven wrote.

Sleep thy little eggs of green,

Let the wind sing you a song,

Sleep beneath thy mother’s breast,

While she warms you all night long.

Sleep and grow within your shell,

And let the dreams around thee throng.

For the past two years I have made books of my poetry to give to Mama as either a Christmas, or birthday gift. This is one of the poems from those books...what do you think of the (blast- is it meter?) ...meter (I'll go with that) of this poem? It is interesting....a bit hard to manage, and not my favorite style to use, but it makes for a different kind of poem than usual! :) And here is another poem I wrote that, as the daylight is changing, will soon be relevant! :)

"A Dusk in Winter"

The dusk is like a bridal maid:
The rose is mantled on her cheek,
A single shimmering diamond-star
Clings to her hair so dark and sleek.
Her skirt of azure gently rests
Within her modest golden hand;
Her veil of quiet darkness flows
After her hem has swept the land.