Monday, January 30, 2012

The Unveiling of my "Play"!

In the spirit of the "'Heigh-Ho for a Husband' Blog Party" I knew I just had to pretend to be the tiniest bit Shakespearean as a nod to the inspiration for this whole event. I am not sure I succeeded, but I was content and rather pleased than otherwise with what came out of it all. Therefore I give you my one-act play, "Thus Goes Everyone in the World" and I hope you enjoy it. The dialog is actually the both sides of Rachel counseling one another. It amused me quite a bit, and another friend quite a bit, and I hope you share some of our sentiments. :)

Thus Goes Everyone in the World
A humorous dialog by Rachel Heffington

Scene: Two cousins, ages nineteen and twenty-two stand alone in a garden as a friend who has just announced her engagement waves goodbye and walks off arm and arm with her fiancé.

Amelia: “And now I may truly say with Beatrice, ‘Thus goes everyone in the world but I…and I may sit in a corner and cry ‘heigh-ho’ for a husband’!”

Sophia: “It does seem so, does it not?”

Amelia: “In truth, it does. But do not despair, my dear cousin—we are by no means out of the running yet.”

Sophia: (sighing) “My mind tells me so, but my heart—oh Amelia, does your heart not contradict your mind?”

Amelia: “Indeed, constantly. And may I be struck down were it not so. My mind and heart are as alike as a kitten is to a raging bull.”

Sophia: “Mine as well.”

Amelia: “Were my heart to dictate the pace of my life I would have been married at eighteen—and yet I can see it would have been in no way the best sort of thing. No, dreams work rather in the way of wines—they only grow better and dearer with the passage of time.”

Sophia: “And what are your dreams?”

Amelia: “They bear little resemblance when voiced to how they appeared in my heart. However I will publish abroad that a tall, rather handsome, somewhat dark man figures strongly in them” (laughs) “But my tongue can say little of his demeanor, his carriage, and all the thousand things that make him mine.”

Sophia: “How easily you speak of your dreams. I prefer to keep mine locked away in my heart—at least they will not be pulled to shreds there.”

Amelia: “Why this sad countenance, cousin? In faith, you look as if the last man on earth had died in fearful agonies on your dainty slippers. I let my dreams out of their gilded cage that they may see the daylight while they may. True, I could coddle them and keep them close and young forever in my secret heart, but I have a dim hope that some of them may come homing back to me, at a distant day, not entirely empty-handed.”

Sophia: “A fair prospect, Amelia. But I have learned my heart well—it is not likely to change from now until forever.”

Amelia: “And that is something I have never been able to accomplish.”

Sophia: “Is your heart so complex?”

Amelia: “It is a perfect Chinese puzzle-box full of all a manner of secret drawers and springs. No sooner have I set my mind on contentment one day, then the next I am dreary and sad. I laugh in the face of the most toothed gale, and weep when the whole world is smiling.”

Sophia: “Well for my part I can easily comprehend why men do not love me—I am young and quiet and not very clever, but I do think it queer that you are not married yet.”

Amelia: “Do you? And would who among my acquaintance would you choose as my husband?” (winks at Sophia) “Ah, indeed you are right—there is no one that would have me.”

Sophia: “I do wonder they have not discovered your charms. There are other virtues beyond a fair face and figure.”

Amelia: “Well said, my dear Sophia. You speak the truth in saying so—beauty is not the only currency love accepts as payment.”

Sophia: “A beautiful heart and ladylike manners are more precious than a comely face.”

Amelia: “A truth again, darling, but until men look upon women with their hearts instead of their eyes, I fear we could all be perfect saints and it would make little difference.”

Sophia: “I wonder that you can speak so lightly on the subject, and smile over it too! Your admissions are full of horrid sentiments. Do you despair so over your singleness?”

Amelia: “Do not worry about me, Sophia. If I have learned one thing in my two years seniority over you, it is to laugh at myself. Only when I begin to take my ‘plight’ seriously do I succumb to vague sensations of melancholia. You may have my hand upon it—when I am laughing, I am well. Besides—I have found it excellent practice to poke fun at myself—it takes some of the sting away to laugh instead of cry.”

Sophia: “A Job’s comfort, Amelia.”

Amelia: “Were it anyone else’s comfort besides, I would not care. I am determined to be a cheerful single woman at eighty, if that is my lot.”

Sophia: “Again! These horrid premonitions!”

Amelia: “A premonition and a jest are two vastly different things, my dear Sophia, as you would learn if you listened a bit less with that wayward heart and a bit more with your ear. I admit that we women are partly to blame for the gentleman-populace’s demand of perfect Dianas. For though beauty is not the only coinage that has value, we have demanded payment in kind.”

Sophia: “What do you mean, pray tell?”

Amelia: “In those secret dreams of yours do you sigh over a man who more resembles a gorilla than any other piece of creation?”

Sophia: (horrified) “Indeed not!”

Amelia: “Then neither do the men spin daydreams of wart-spackled hags.”

Sophia: “You speak in terrible extremes.”

Amelia: “Do I?”

Sophia: “Ah. You do sometimes worry over getting a husband—I know that wistful look.”

Amelia: “It is less a problem of my getting a husband—I am rather more worried about a husband getting me, for the man must be the forward partner in all such cases.”

Sophia: “And they are so slow about it while we are both wasting away and bound to be old maids forever!”

Amelia: “How direly you put it, Sophia-dear. If that were to be my destiny, I would subscribe as a mail-order bride on Tuesday. However, an old maid is a condition of the heart, not the circumstance.”

Sophia: “If the men would only come we’d have nothing to worry about.”

Amelia: “Methinks you speak rather too hurriedly, Sophia.”

Sophia: “Probably. But oh, Amelia, is it not maddening to you that you have the respect of every young man you know?”

Amelia: “I cannot understand what you mean. Why should it be maddening?”

Sophia: “Do not affect denseness, cousin, you know what I mean. That you should be respected by all but loved by none!”

Amelia: “You’ve put a different paint to the idea and it begins to sound a woeful case. However, I would rather be respected by all than loved by a handful. ‘Twould be a slight upon my character otherwise.”

Sophia: “How so?”

Amelia: “Look upon it in the light of my heart: Were I held in contempt by all my acquaintance save a single man who was fond of me, how would that vouch for my character and his?”

Sophia: “Must you be so clever always?”

Amelia: “Must you be so bent on dismal ends for us all?”

Sophia: “There is not a single man who could turn your head, is there, Amelia?”

Amelia: “I should hope he was single.”

Sophia: “Ridiculous girl.”

Amelia: “Is this fair? One moment I am too clever for the world, the next a ridiculous girl? I troth your mind runs the gamut from one end to the other far too fast for me to keep up with it.”

Sophia: “Is there any man that has ever captured your fancy?”

Amelia: “I am a woman, Sophia. Does the question merit an answer?”

Sophia: “It does, and I demand one.”

Amelia: “Then I will tell you, there has been such a man in my past and there will be one, I am sure, in my future.”

Sophia: “And still you smile!”

Amelia: “Would you have me weep? There are but two choices in the case and I prefer the one that the gentlemen find more attractive.”

Sophia: “What a queer girl you are, Amelia. Sober one moment and merry the next.”

Amelia: “As is the very world you live in, Sophia. Look about you, darling. What is the largest cross you bear? Ah, you blush because it is that which we have spent half an hour talking of. You weep and sigh and walk about in moroseness because you haven’t a man to complete you. Is life not more than marriage, and is a woman not more than the man that she is joined to?”

Sophia: “It sounds wrong for you to say so.”

Amelia: “The only Man that can ever complete me has done so already.”

Sophia: “You speak aright, dear cousin.”

Amelia: “So then, why are you sad? Let us be merry while we have our youth. We are not entirely obsolete as we are.”

Sophia: “And if we are never married?”

Amelia: “Then it let it be said that we died in the pursuit of fine, noble things.”

Sophia: “Such as?”

Amelia: “Oh, such things as we ought—in seeking out charity, contentment, and devotion. Or, as we would have it: life, liberty, and the pursuit of a husband.”

The End

"A lady's imagination is very rapid;"

I could not resist sending an inquiry to Mr. Darcy about our party's subject. 

"Your conjecture is totally wrong, I assure you. My mind was more agreeably engaged. I have been meditating on the very great pleasure which a pair of fine eyes in the face of a pretty woman can bestow."

Miss Bingley immediately fixed her eyes on his face, and desired he would tell her what lady had the credit of inspiring such reflections. Mr. Darcy replied with great intrepidity,

"Miss Elizabeth Bennet."

"Miss Elizabeth Bennet!" repeated Miss Bingley. "I am all astonishment. How long has she been such a favourite? -- and pray when am I to wish you joy?"

"That is exactly the question which I expected you to ask. A lady's imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony, in a moment. I knew you would be wishing me joy."
~Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Beautiful People: Bertram Macefield

 Again, this post has nothing to do with husbands (at present) but I think a blog that only talked about romance would be rather dull. Therefore, I give you this month's Beautiful People.
You need know very little about Bertram--only that he is ten years old, the twin of Adelaide, likes long words, a ring-leader, lover of mischief and books, would make a fine lawyer or detective, but is a little stuck-up over his knowledge.
This is Bertram Macefield. Bertram, this is My Public. Please behave. Thanks. :)

1. If his house burned down and he was left with nothing but the clothes on his back, what would he do? Where would he go? Oh my. Well, for one thing, there is such a superfluous amount of marble in the Macefield home in Killsfeather Court, London, that it would be rather difficult for the place to burn down in its entirety. [Does marble burn?] But as we are allowed imagination, one must wonder. Therefore, if Bertram popped back out of Scarlettania to find that his father's papers had finally caught fire in the grate, he would pinch Adelaide, stick his hands in his pockets, and use an even larger word than usual to express his opinion of the situation. He would go out to the garden then and whistle like the dickens.

2. Is he happy with where he is in life, or would he like to move on? It has never occurred to Bertram to be unhappy in his life. After all, with five siblings younger than him (more or less) he has plenty of authority and they are never lacking for pocket-money. But at one particular moment--ahem--it did occur to him to save up and head to Australia.

3. Is he well-paid? Oh, of course! Half-a-crown weekly, you know. Spends it on bits of nothingness like wire and string and explosives.

4. Can he read? Like a scholar and a gentleman--which he is, or at least, is hoping to be.

5. What languages does he speak? English in the main, though he can parley-voo when the occasion warrants it. He is also fluent in the more elusive Dictionary-ese, the text-book of which he enjoys pouring over and rooting out "thruppence words" as Adelaide says.

6. What is his biggest mistake? He takes things into his own hand. Slightly arrogant over his learnedness.

7. What did he play with most as a child? He did not play with much at all. He played at pirates and adventures, Hamlet and Crusoe, and all the dozen-and-one other things that he and Darby are fond of doing together.

8. What are his thoughts on politics? They are rather a mash of "God save the Queen!" , "Liberte, egalite, fraternite!" and "Who said?"--in short, Bertram thinks, not of politics, but of how to get in a Just So position of Society without losing his head. But it's rather ambiguous--after all, he's only ten.

9. What is his expected lifetime? He hopes to have a long life, though Miss Perkins would tell you he wouldn't last a week more, being so fond of explosives. Not to mention the fact that he is, this very moment, waiting for my pen to decide his fate before then noble King Octavian of Scarlettania. It's rather a crucial point and he is begging me to get on with it--the waiting is killing him.

10. If he were falsely accused of murder, what would he do? How would he react? He would scratch his head, use a rather large word, laugh, and dig his elbow into Adelaide's side as if to say, "Haha! Think of that!" Then he would point-by-point refute your logic and show you that, why of course it wasn't him, for he'd been playing Benedick and proposing to Beatrice--who was really Addie, you know--at that very moment, and really, he cannot abide Lady Tongue, and wasn't this all much ado about nothing? And then he'd smirk at his cleverness and watch you unwind yourself from the tangles of his mind. He'd enjoy it, you know.

Bertram closed his eyes and grimaced. Which of the punishments would they be assigned? Dungeon-time was preferable, but he wasn’t sure you got off so easy for kidnapping a Princess, even if it wasn’t quite you who had done it—the King was standing right in front of them now, and Bertram felt his palms sweating—Oh Lord! He prayed, almost without realizing it, but the faintest glimmer of courage glowed under the prayer. Bertram thought he’d better try again—at least it gave his mind something to shred while he waited for their sentence. Don’t let him give us poison! Anything but poison—I know You don’t want us to die in fearful agonies, would You?
 -The Scarlet-Gypsy Song

Friday, January 27, 2012


I am once again breaking the rule of conventional blog parties and blogging about something that doesn't have to do with husbands at all. What it does have to do with is a shocking revelation in my writing career--namely, that just this morning, I wrote my first "dangerous" scene. Now before all you adventurous, amazing, fast-paced-plot people get your cockles up, I will explain. Most of my books have been about children, and most of those about children in fairly normal scenarios. The strife/conflict in the plot of The Seasonings, for example, was built off of social awkwardness, surprises, and foils. There was nothing quite "dangerous" in that tale. In Puddleby Lane, Cora's dangers have been more abstract--her fears, the stock-market crashing, the move to a completely strange place with new people, Frank dying....but I have never ever ever written an actual danger scene. Wait. Hold that thought. My danger scenes are more intellectually or socially dangerous. I've never written a physical danger scene. But that, of course, had to change with The Scarlet-Gypsy Song. After all, battle, war-culture, and the conflict between two warring countries makes up a massive part of the plot. Therefore I give you a scene plucked out of chapter 11 of The Scarlet-Gypsy Song. You will remember Diccon Quarry? I thought so. I know you'll love this fellow--poor guy. He's so confused. Where does his allegiance lay? To Gildnoir, and Clan Fitz-Hughes? They people he came from? Or to Scarlettania, where all that is just and noble and beautiful is bred? Anyway, here's a bit of danger/adventure for you. :)

“The General will see thee now.” The gruff, frost-edged voice jerked Diccon from his memories, and he grew warm at the smirks on the faces of the men standing nearby.
“Yes sir,” Diccon was too embarrassed to have been caught in daydreams to feel surprise at the summons. He followed the metallic clinking of the man’s armor into the half-light of the tent.
It took a moment for his eyes to adjust to the contrast, but by jumps and starts he was able to make out the shapes of the rough-and-ready table, a powerful-looking, iron-haired man, and the commander who had led him here.
The man seated at the table lifted his head and gripped Diccon in a hard gaze, as unwavering as the keen edge of a steel blade. “What a to-do a soldier of Gildnoir has made this day.”
Diccon frowned. “Sir?”
“To have failed in the act of information-gathering---even when the contact was none other than the Lord of the Night—to have insulted his Lordship to his face and in his own quarters…badly done, lad.” The man tapped a long finger on the tabletop, and Diccon’s attention was drawn to the large, elaborately cut ruby adorning it.
“How long have you been selling out?’ he asked. He strove to control the indignation that nearly choked him.
The man started, and black anger clouded his mien. “I do not understand what you mean, soldier.”
Diccon slid his hand down to his knife, then tossed his head. “The ring, sir. Very unusual for a general of the Gildnoir. How much did they give you?”
“Who, you son of a catamount?” The general rose, and his nostrils flared with rage.
Diccon blocked the gold-sashed commander who would have stepped in to aid his general, and indicated for him to be still with a slight pressure of his elbow into the man’s stomach. “It is no use pretending with me, General Moorcroft. I know the royal jewel of Scarlettania when I see it. Do you not think Fitz-Hughes would pay a pretty price for this piece of knowledge? I might acquire a large bauble of true Gildnoirian topaz for my efforts.” Diccon flourished his knife and twirled the shining blade under the general’s gaze.
The older man’s eyes flickered to his commander. “Step outside, if you would.”
“Are you certain, General Moorcroft?” the commander asked, eyebrows crumpled.
The general’s voice was too smooth and too flint-bladed to be taken for easy as he waved the sentry away. “Of course I am certain, Fulham.” The ruby of Moorcroft’s ring caught fragments of daylight and sent them eddying into the quiet dusk as the sentry opened the tent flapped and ducked through it to the dazzling day outside.
 It was still for a moment within the tent, each man sizing the other up.
“Come now, boy,” The General said. He laughed, but Diccon knew there was the desperate snarl of a snared fox under the ill-fitting chuckle. “You and I both know that your brother hates you—the message you delivered with your own hands were my orders to stab you through with a Scarlettanian pike. Your brother bears you no great love.”
Diccon tossed his knife, catching it by the dark, obsidian handle. “And I return the compliment, general. That, however, does not deter me from my object. No man who deliberately fraternizes with the enemy can be called a soldier of the Gildnoir. You know that well, I think?”
The general ran a hand over his chin, jaw set, but made no answer.
Diccon tossed the knife again, this time catching it and thrusting the point forward until it made a little slit in the gold and black standard on the general’s chest. “I will take that as an answer in the affirmative. Therefore, by whatever honor is left in this wild country of ours, and by the authority with which every clansman of Fitz-Hughes is endowed, I am stripping you of your title.”
The general made a movement as if to spring on Diccon, and his mouth was a narrow, malignant slit in his face, but the knife-point kept him at bay. “You have no right. You are a paltry excuse for a soldier of Clan Fitz-Hughes. You are a half-breed!”
“A half-breed, my Lord, is far superior than a half-wit, or a half-truth. You, General Moorcroft, appear to be both.” Diccon coolly pushed the knife a bit harder against the man’s chest. He leaned close until he could smell the scent of stale tobacco and salt-pork in the general’s hair. “You will gather the men and announce my command over this army now. For all they—or anyone else—knows, the message was an order from Fitz-Hughes to invest me with your powers. Understood?” Diccon glared at the man, commanding his gaze.
Fitful blue stars collided with the staid grey of the general’s eyes in a storm of emotions, but Diccon saw no sign of resistance in them.
“As you say, soldier,” the general said. He held both hands out at his sides, and plastered a faint smile on his lips.
Diccon held him a moment more on the point of the knife, then nodded. Only now did he allow himself to tremble over his boldness—it was but momentary weakness, though. “We must make haste, Moorcroft,” Diccon said. He slid his knife back into the sheath in his boot, and turned to leave the tent.
There was a hurried step behind him, a low growl, and in a flashing moment Diccon’s arms were pinioned. He struggled against the iron grip of the general, but it made no difference—he was taken. The tide had turned with the agility of a panther on the run. Diccon growled his dismay and thrashed against the hold of his captor, but the general laughed.
“A half-wit, soldier? I think not.” The general’s voice was low and mocking. “But how would you like a half-life? I could bleed a few quarts of that sullied blood from your veins, if it would be to your purpose, General Quarry.”
~The Scarlet-Gypsy Song

"A single woman, of good fortune, is always respectable."

           When I happened to ask Miss Woodhouse what she thought of Old-maids, Valentine's Day, and being unmarried, this is what she gave me. :)
 "I do so wonder, Miss Woodhouse, that you should not be married, or going to be married! so charming as you are!"--
             Emma laughed, and replied, "My being charming, Harriet, is not quite enough to induce me to marry; I must find other people charming--one other person at least. And I am not only, not going to be married, at present, but have very little intention of ever marrying at all."
              "Ah!--so you say; but I cannot believe it."
               "I must see somebody very superior to any one I have seen yet, to be tempted; Mr. Elton, you know, (recollecting herself,) is out of the question: and I do not wish to see any such person. I would rather not be tempted. I cannot really change for the better. If I were to marry, I must expect to repent it."
               "Dear me!--it is so odd to hear a woman talk so!"--
                "I have none of the usual inducements of women to marry. Were I to fall in love, indeed, it would be a different thing! but I never have been in love; it is not my way, or my nature; and I do not think I ever shall. And, without love, I am sure I should be a fool to change such a situation as mine. Fortune I do not want; employment I do not want; consequence I do not want: I believe few married women are half as much mistress of their husband's house as I am of Hartfield; and never, never could I expect to be so truly beloved and important; so always first and always right in any man's eyes as I am in my father's."
             "But then, to be an old maid at last, like Miss Bates!"
              "That is as formidable an image as you could present, Harriet; and if I thought I should ever be like Miss Bates! so silly--so satisfied-- so smiling--so prosing--so undistinguishing and unfastidious-- and so apt to tell every thing relative to every body about me, I would marry to-morrow. But between us, I am convinced there never can be any likeness, except in being unmarried."
                "But still, you will be an old maid! and that's so dreadful!"
                 "Never mind, Harriet, I shall not be a poor old maid; and it is poverty only which makes celibacy contemptible to a generous public! A single woman, with a very narrow income, must be a ridiculous, disagreeable old maid! the proper sport of boys and girls, but a single woman, of good fortune, is always respectable, and may be as sensible and pleasant as any body else." 
                                                       ~Emma by Jane Austen

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Announcing the "Heigh-Ho" Giveaway!

It is with very great excitement [and a dash of jealousy] that I announce the "Heigh-Ho for a Husband" giveaway! The lovely, writing and literature-themed shop: Michelle Mach has graciously condescended to sponsor this week's giveaway with something I have been swooning over for the past two weeks. You want to see? You're going to love it....

Oh yes. Genuine fountain-pen nibs made into earrings! 
Aren't they amazing?
I am entirely wishing I was able to be a participant in this giveaway right now! :D

The Fountain-Pen Earring Giveaway beings today, January 26, 2012, and runs to February 12, 2012. 
The giveaway will close at 11:59 p.m., Feb. 12.
Oh the ways you can win!
So here is how you can enter this giveaway to win these adorable earrings! (And to clarify, this giveaway is entirely different than the Writing Contest--I haven't announced the prize for that yet.)

Mandatory Entry:
Visit the MichelleMach shop and pick out your favorite things, then come back here and tell me about them in a comment.
One entry

Bonus Entries:

Follow this blog--two entries
Heart the shop on entries
Blog about this giveaway--two entries
Blog about this blog-party and writing contest--three entries
Buy something from the Michelle Mach shop--five entries

Now the most important thing to remember is this: 
All entries must be given in separate comment for each entry.  Therefore, if your bonus entry is following this blog, you must leave me two comments telling me you follow the blog. It's the easiest way for me to count correctly and enter you enough times in the giveaway! :) All entries that are lumped together in one comment will only be counted as one entry. So go ahead and start entering! I know you will love the earrings!

Some of my favorites from the Michelle Mach shop:

And knowing how much I adore Dickens...

Oliver Twist earrings! :)

What are your favorites? Let the entries begin!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Cherry Pitts: Just a bit of Nothingness :)

All right. So this has nothing to do with the blog party or contest. This is a bit of nothingness that I simply had to scribble down before it left me. I will not follow it as a plot bunny....yet. :P I hope you enjoy it! I rather like Pitt myself. :)

Cherry Pitts
By Rachel Heffington

I didn’t even know we had aunts. There were uncles by the dozen, but they all “bached” it in a dirty, smoky set of apartments in the city. Buggs, Sharpshin, and I loved visiting them—we always had such larks, for there was a desperate element of danger in their antics: Uncle Nelson had a habit of juggling all the sharpest steak-knives and throwing them at you so they cut a few hairs off the top of your head, but left your scalp. Uncle Jem drank brandy (for his bum leg, he said.) and smoked dime cigars at the same time. Uncle Welch always dared us to walk along the wrought iron rail of the great bridge in the Park. But the youngest, most perilous—and therefore beloved—uncle of all was Uncle Brodie. He would load one chamber of his six-shooter, (that had done service to a real live Indian once) then coolly point the pistol in your direction and shoot the five empty chambers so you prayed he was paying attention and counting right.
We adored Uncle Brodie for the very fact that you were never quite safe around him—he was like a jungle, an island, a cowboy, and a pirate-ship all boiled down and buttoned up in a crumpled, grey suit.
We never knew what to expect from Uncle Brodie. Maybe that’s why we weren’t as surprised as we might have been when the door of Sallimander’s Drug jangled open one afternoon as Buggs, Sharpshin, and I were drinking our twice-weekly cream-sodas.
Uncle Brodie slung his lanky frame onto the barstool beside Sharpshin. “Hey kids,” he said.
 I sipped my cream soda and licked my lips, savoring the sweet furze that clung to them.
“Hey Uncle Brodie,” Sharpshin said, without taking his eyes from his comic book. He wasn’t reading it—I knew my own brother well enough to know that—he studied the super-heroes because he planned to become an inventor and he was determined to find the formula for Kryptonite. Buggs and I thought him a genius.
Uncle Brodie cleared his throat and I looked at him. His face was splotchy, and he kept swallowing funny.
“Want my cherry?” I asked, running a grimy hand through my red hair till it stood on end.
“Sure kid,” he said. He never called me Lewis—which was my real name—or even Pitt, which was what the guys called me. All three of us—Buggs, Sharpshin, and myself—were just “kid” to Uncle Brodie, but I didn’t mind.
I pulled the cherry off the deflated pile of whipped cream and eyed it with a little reluctance—but nothing was too good for my idol. I passed it to him and he tossed it in his mouth, chewed once, and swallowed it, stem and all.
I suppose there was a measure of talent mixed up in such a feat, but I stared gape-mouthed. Buggs, Sharpshin, and I had a religious system when we ate a cherry; we pulled the stem off, licked the cherry clean, polished it on our shirt-sleeves, then ate it in mouse-bites till the last bit of sweet cherry-juice was only a memory on the tongue.
The cherry being disposed of, Uncle Brodie cleared his throat again and pulled an envelope from his pocket. It was sweaty and crumpled and looked as agitated as a june-bug with a string tied to his leg. In fact, it looked just like Uncle Brodie did.
“What’s ‘at?” Buggs asked. He pushed his patched cap to a jaunty angle on his head and reached for the envelope.
Uncle Brodie shoved his hand away. “Listen kiddos,” he said, “I’ve got somethin’ important to tell ya’.”
I froze in my folding of a napkin into a sailor-hat. Sharpshin pulled his eyes from his comic book. Buggs pushed his hat back in the other direction.
Uncle Brodie crumpled his weather-beaten fedora in his hands and gave us a sympathetic grimace. “I’m real sorry, kids. I really am.”
Buggs cracked his knuckles. “So?”
Uncle Brodie slid the envelope across the counter till it hit my elbow. “So, it’s the aunts, kiddos. They’re claiming you.”

Heigh-Ho Begins! Sonnet 116...with a twist

To kick off this rather unconventional blog-party, I hope you will excuse some liberties taken with Shakespeare's famous Sonnet 116. (You know..."Love is not love that alters when it alteration finds...") I thought it might be rather a humorous business to write a parody on it. I am not saying that it comes anything close to Shakespeare, I am not even saying that I think it very good. All I am saying is that I tried, and that's all anyone is entitled to do. :) One may imagine this to have been written by a pessimistic old woman--it certainly doesn't reflect my views on love. :D

Sonnet 116--Reprise:

Let them not to the marriage of old maids
Rain down sentiments. Love's still quite love
Which alters with the feeble minds--
It bends with the reprover to reprove:
Oh yes, it is an ever-fixed rule
That looks on singles and is ever shaken.
That views old teachers in the school
And winks at liberties half-taken. 
Love is Time's fool, when withered lips and cheeks
Within his virgin circle's compass come:
Love alters much o'er hours and weeks
And fadeth out to the edge of doom.
If this be the truth, and my mind is prov'd,
I am a wit that no man ever lov'd.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

And so it begins!!! :)

Please take this button and put it on your sidebar! :)

Tomorrow starts the kick-off of the "'Heigh-ho' For a Husband" Blog Party & Contest here at The Inkpen Authoress! I have much much much planned for this event, and I can't wait to share it all with you! All I will say is that there is a stinkin' fabulous giveaway sponsored by the beautiful Michelle Mach Etsy shop, and you will absolutely adore it. There will be post about Valentine's Day-themed things, writing romance [or not], excerpts from books, interviews, and more, during the next three weeks! I have a post scheduled for nearly every day, and I hope you'll enjoy this party as much as I plan to! :)

So this is a reminder that tomorrow (or more properly, at 12:00 a.m.) you may begin sending your entries to Contest Details are below :)

This contest will be a contest of Fiction. You may write a dialog, a poem, or a short story (no more than 4,000 words, please). The theme is Un-Valentined Humor. :) Witty, funny, humorous entries about this plight. You may write about two girls discussing their single state, a romantic comedy where no one ends up married, a parody on a famous romantic poem, etc. The idea is to showcase the themes of Valentine's day from an "un-coupled" person's prospective! :) Have fun with it! (And no, you don't have to be single to enter.)
This"Heigh-Ho for a Husband" Blog Party and Contest will open Wednesday, January 23, 2012, and end on February 14th, 2011.
The rules are as follows:
  • Each entrant may submit one entry for each category: Poetry, Dialog, or Story. Email all submissions to
  • The entries will be judged in their category.  I'll choose one winner from each category, and their entries will be featured on this blog. 
  • Then the winners from those three entries will compete for the Grand Prize Winner. I will be announcing the prize at a later date. :)
 Tally-ho, everyone! I can't wait to see what you come up with! Please spread the word about this "'Heigh-Ho for a Husband" blog party so that we can get as many people participating as possible! :)
                                        With Great Expectations,

Monday, January 23, 2012

"The Best Things Happen When You're Dancing": An honest scribble

One of my friends recently looked at me and sighed with envy. "You always have the most exciting things happen to you, Rachel."
I had never thought so, being of the opinion that all such exciting things happened only in books, but in recent years I've had a series of rather novel experiences. (Pun intended.) Here's a truthful account of my most recent experience while contra-dancing. It happened two days ago, and I rather hope you'll enjoy it. :)

"The Best Things Happen When You're Dancing..."
By Rachel Heffington

The evening had begun with instruction, and although Rachel had never tried contra-dancing in her life, the music dictated to her feet and taught her how to move. She had seldom felt such a sense of giddy freedom as this dancing gave her. She took hand across with her neighbor and smiled as he swung her in a swift, mad whirl. The small band on the platform up the hall played louder and faster, the fiddle, mandolin, and keyboard heightening the sensation with their wild cavorting. On the dancers swirled, weaving in and out, allemande, swing, gypsy-turns, on and on and on till with a last burst of melody, the band stopped playing and the dance was over. Rachel’s partner released her and she smiled.
“Thank you for the dance,” she said.
He smiled and made an awkward bow. “Thank you. It was fun.”
Rachel made her way across the bright wooden floor, through the knots of hot, flushed dancers. Water. That’s what she needed. She tried to brush away the weariness that crept through her senses, deafening her ears to the laughter and chatter of the crowd and dulling her eyes against the brilliancy of the overhead lights.
Rachel reached behind the great heavy drapes and felt the cool of the window-panes against her sweaty arm. If only the rest of the room felt this amazing. Her hand met with the metal of her water-bottle and she quickly unscrewed the lid, pouring some of the water into her parched mouth. She sighed and wandered to a chair, then sat down. Contra was fun, indeed, but rather exhausting to a girl who had set her alarm for 5:30 that morning, traveled two hours to a friend’s house, then nearly two more hours to the dance, and never ate lunch or dinner.
The caller at the microphone announced the next dance. “Gentlemen, time to get your-selves new partners!”
Rachel gathered herself and stood, determined not to lose a moment of this supreme happiness if she had an ounce of strength left. A man approached her, and she smiled as he looked at her.
“Would you like to dance?” he asked with a faint German accent, extending his hand.
Rachel put her hand in his and smiled. “I would, thank you.”
The man escorted her to the line of dancers and the music began. The complicated steps began, but Rachel soon grew accustomed to them. She gypsy-turned, laughing at the expression on the face of her neighbor. He smiled, Rachel returned to her partner, and on they danced. To your neighbor, to your partner, hands-across, gypsy-turn. The caller’s voice melted into the music, and the room whirled.
Weariness had now grown to exhaustion and rose, with each measure they tread, into a monster that threatened to steal her consciousness. Alarmed, Rachel bit her lip, trying to focus and recall the steps she had learned but a moment before. It was no use. She frantically looked up and down the line, trying to keep time with the other dancers. Her partner passed his arm around her waist and propelled her through a swing.
To the middle and back across—no, wait. Gypsy-turn—no, swing. There it was again! Rachel was relieved to feel a support across her back again, and she tried to smile and act natural. She felt herself slipping into a sleep-like state.
This was such fun! She could spin all night, if only she didn’t have to remember any of the steps. The room grew larger and smaller all at once, and she no longer felt her feet moving. Those dancers were not real—she was dreaming, or else watching them on a t.v. screen—she couldn’t decide. But her partner’s arms steadily pushing her here and there told her the astonishing truth. She was dancing, and something was rather wrong. Was this how it felt to faint? She felt strangely disconnected from the whole ordeal as if she floated above it and observed herself dancing below.
“Oh Lord, don’t let me faint!” Rachel prayed through clenched teeth. She clung to her partner, unspeakably grateful that his arm was there to support her, but again he pushed her out into the crowd and she tried to grasp the steps of the dance and fend for herself against the frightening, muddled tide.
Into the middle, back, swing your partner! His arm was there again, and Rachel summoned all her mind, soul, and body to concentrate and try to understand the dance. Just finish. Finish the dance—that was all she asked. She knit her brows and focused on her partner, trying to comprehend what he was saying, begging for a few words of instruction to help her through. All she heard a few muttered curses as she made a blunder and they crashed into another couple.
“I’m sorry!” she said feebly, too exhausted to care.
When was the music stopping? This dance had gone on far too long. The room was a whirl and she wondered if she would last until it ended. Her nerves buzzed, but the music continued. She had to finish, or they’d flaw the entire line of dancers. She tightened her grip on her partner’s shoulder. It was damp and hot under her arms. She searched his face for his eyes, for something to connect her to reality, but he was looking away, jaw tight and concentrated.
At last, when she thought she could not last another step, the music ended. She curtsied, clapped, said something to her partner, and floated to the tables and chairs, having no idea what she had just said. She hoped it was the proper thing. Rachel sank into a chair, thanking the Lord that she had made it in safety. She closed her eyes and tried to summon her wits.
For the next dance she sat in a daze on the side-line, sipping water and trying to call herself back to the present world, the present moment. Slowly, so painstakingly slowly, life began to return. She smiled at the dancers and made stupid replies to the questions of an elderly matron sitting nearby. She clapped at the next dance finished, sufficiently revived to wish he had the strength to continue—it was such fun.
Her eyes flickered to the sidelines but her color rose as a short, muscular, wiry man swaggered towards her, eyes intent. She had been hoping all the night through that he would not ask her to dance—she blessed her faintness—it would make the perfect excuse for refusing him.
The man stood before her a moment later and threw his arm out with a triumphant smile. “May I have this dance, my darling?”
My darling? Stunned, and still dazed, Rachel fought to piece together a coherent answer. “I’m sorry—I can’t. I got up early and I haven’t eaten and—” Such a feeble attempt at a refusal, but it was the best her befogged wits could concoct.
He smiled, and she thought she had never seen a man who looked so like a rattlesnake. “I haven’t eaten either—I’m rather hungry actually—my stomach’s growling.” He walked closer and crouched down, then sat back on his heels, affecting to watch the dancers as she did. Rachel kept her eyes on the dancers, willing this man leave her—she hadn’t enough brain to successfully fend off a determined man.
A moment later he turned back to her. “Where’s a good place to eat around here?”
Rachel shook her head. “I’m not sure—I don’t live around here.”
“Oh? Where do you live?”
“In Virginia,” Rachel replied slowly, hoping it was a vague enough answer. The man nodded, seeming pleased that he had got her to speak.
“And what do you think of it?” He motioned to the dance-floor.
Rachel smiled, tolerating this sort of question. “I like it—I’ve never done contra before—only Civil War and square-dancing.”
He raised his eyebrows and shifted so he looked at her squarely. “Oh?” He remarked further on his lack of experience in that arena, then returned to watching the dancers.
Rachel sat back in her chair, and decided to ignore him, whatever the cost.
He turned to her again. “I’m so hungry, I really can’t wait.”
Good Heavens—he wasn’t about to ask her out to dinner, was he? Rachel stiffened, hoping she could summon a regal, cold, demeanor to discourage any thought of such a thing. She raised her proud chin proudly and looked with steadfast interest on the whirling dancers beyond the crouching man.
He stood, repulsed at last by her incivility, then wandered behind her to lurk among the tables or saunter off to fetch his dinner. He whistled a wandering, haunting little tune as he retreated, and Rachel breathed a sigh of relief.
Then all at once she smiled, and tried to stifle a laugh—notwithstanding her present exhaustion, nearly fainting had been quite a novel experience.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

New Header! :)

Greetings, Chaps! (Or Chapesses--however you'd prefer!) How do you like the new header for my blog? :) I made it myself, and as I am technologically challenged, it was rather a victory. Dash it all! I wish my computer didn't block ridiculous things like backgrounds on blogs, because now I can't remember what it was my background did look like, and whether the header clashes horridly or not. Do alert me if you see anything that gives you a headache of phenomenal dimension--I will figure out a way to remedy it. :D

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

"Sink Me! He's been taking lessons--the cravat's a picture."

It has often been expounded upon that when one writes Fantasy, one must have a proper setting for it, complete with history, culture, customs, clothing, etc. Herein I've attempted to show you a bit of Scarlettania's Fashion, with a touch of Gildnoir as the case may be.

How Cecily longed for the touch of silk, brilliant as a butterfly’s wing, or brocade, or ermine. But most of all she longed to feel the feather-light brush of gossamine—the fabric of princesses—spun from dewy spiders’ webs.  How many, many times had she slipped her gossamine gown over her head, feeling its airy beauty and yet never stopping to think how precious a thing it was?
 Gossamine is a fabric I concocted in my imagination. It was intentionally a spin-off of the word "gossamer" and yes, it was intentional to make it a rather fairy-tale-sounding material. After all, we can't expect Mr. Macefield to be too too original, can we? ;) Gossamine would feel very very light, but it would have a pattern over it. Something like a mixture of organza, satin, and damask. :)

I have not yet shown Cecily Woodruff (or Lady Cecelia, if you will) in her own country, but I think that on her eighteenth birthday she will wear a gown much like this:

In stark contrast:

“Treason, is it?” Diccon’s breath caught in his throat as sudden rage surged through him. “Is it not what you are making war to commit yourself? To take a foreign woman as your wife just because she is beautiful and catches your eye?”
Fitz-Hughes’ smile dropped off his face like an autumn leaf before a blast of cold wind.  He smoothed the dark mail of his armored sleeve, stroking discordant jingles from it. “I believe that question is the fifth demerit you’ve earned today, boy. Watch your tongue a bit more carefully—you are trying my patience.”
Randolph Fitz-Hughes' Gildnoir-ian fashion is dark and brooding with here and there an unexpected splash of gaudy gold or yellow. It follows the pattern of his Clan-cum-Kingdom--wild, untamed, sophisticated, opulent. It's a queer hash, you know.

Not all of the clothing of Scarlettania is rich and brilliant though. There are some in the kingdom who do not wear gossamine, contrary to popular belief.

She thought she had better make amends quickly—it would never to do have the inhabitants of a strange castle vexed with you when you had no more of an idea of how to get out of the castle—if it came to that—than a beetle has of getting out of a match-box maze.
“I like your dress,” Adelaide said, feeling shy all at once and vexed because of it.
Dear-Heart gave a short laugh and brushed an even shorter finger across the fabric. “This, miss? Why, it’s nothin’ but flax an’ that bein’ such as has seen better days.”

Dear-Heart, Agnes, and the other women of the working class wear picturesque gowns of simple fabrics: cotton, linen, (or as Dear-Heart says it, "flax") and other materials. The gowns follow the classic "peasant" style of full, light, short sleeves, and a higher waist-line. Warm earth-tones are favored, as well as dusty-rose, deep red, navy, and other deep colors. :)

As for the court-gentlemen of Scarlettania, as well as for Bertram and Darby when the arrive, there is a definite late colonial- early Regency feel to the clothing. Waist-coats are very much "in," as are knee-breeches--at least for the younger boys. Scarlettania is not a fighting country, therefore only the very few knights wear armor. The city men wear fine, embroidered waistcoats, soft, well-tailored jackets, and breeches. The grown men wear cravats, of course, and knee-boots.

Darby glanced down at his embroidered vest, and soft jacket. He had been much delighted over the great golden dragon slithering across his chest in elaborate stitchery—it continued all across the back and around the other side. It wasn’t the sort of dragon he’d seen in Chinese paintings—it reminded him of a snake and a nightmare combined into something infinitely thrilling. And in its head were two emeralds for eyes; these made do for buttons.
His pants he was less pleased with—they were tight and buckled under his knees with bright brass fastenings—he had decided when he put them on that they looked just like the ones George Washington was in the habit of wearing—no wonder he went around chopping down cherry-trees; the pants were enough to make any fellow cross.

So that's that! How about you? What are the styles in your country? :) ~Rachel

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Writing Children: The To-Do's, and Not To-Do's. :)

“I don’t want to write for adults. I want to write for readers who can perform miracles. Only children perform miracles when they read.”
—Astrid Lindgren

I do not feel equipped to speak with authority on many angles of writing--I am not a published author, I make a hash of comma usage, I tend to use unpopular POV's (such as narrative), and my plot lines are not exactly Dickensian in intricacy. However of all the criticisms I got in the critique group that I was a part of (and that shaped me immensely) there was one consistent compliment. 
Apparently, I can write children well. Nearly all the members of the group commented on how realistic the children were in their personalities, their relationships, etc. I'm not saying that to boast, only to let you know why I'm hashing this topic out. 
I suppose the thing is, I am immersed in Children-Culture. With seven younger siblings (and eight cousins across the field) I have a 15-person study-group below my nose at all times. Okay. Let's face it. In my lap at all times. It was not three days ago that my five-month old Levi punched a random series of keys while I was writing and botched up the formatting of my entire manuscript. :D (thankfully I was able to fix it)
Being that I am so constantly involved in child-culture, it's a good thing some of that has translated into my writing. I'd be worried otherwise, for isn't it a maxim of all writing that your life flavors the way you write? If it isn't, it ought to be. That being said, I thought I'd give you a few tips on how to write fully-rounded, fully-fleshed children characters:

Point One: Children are not that simple:

 “You have to write whichever book it is that wants to be written. And then, if it’s going to be too difficult for grownups, you write it for children.”
—Madeleine L’Engle
Children have far more to them than meets the eye. They are people, after all, with hopes, dreams, aspirations...and they have more soul than we often realize. My little sister Gracie sat, dejected, at our dining room table this afternoon, having discovered a chicken that had succumbed to a cruelly enforced pecking-order, and died.
"He suffered, Rachie!" she cried, and the tears welled up in her eyes. "Can we pray for him?" (In fact, on a side-note, she keeps a running list of deceased pets that she prays for routinely. :P)
You cannot write a child-character as a named clown that walks around providing comic relief with his lisp and hope to captivate your audience. Especially if you write for children. They know their own kind, and they are quick to detect flaws in your characterization of one of them. So how do you write a child? Provide plenty of soul and depth. Children have a thought-process, deep emotions, and everything that makes an adult-character tick, only it is precious and unspoilt. Watch children and see how they interact with one another. I promise, you'll learn much from them.

“Grown-up people find it difficult to believe really wonderful things, unless they have what they call proof. But children will believe almost anything, and grown-ups know this. That is why they tell you that the earth is round like an orange, when you can see perfectly well that it is flat and lumpy; and why they say that the earth goes round the sun, when you can see for yourself any day that the sun gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night like a good sun as it is, and the earth knows its place, and lies as still as a mouse. Yet I daresay you believe all that about the earth and the sun, and if so you will find it quite easy to believe that before Anthea and Cyril and the others had been a week in the country they had found a fairy.”  ~Edith Nesbit

Point Two: Get out of the cliche-box:
Not every child has a lisp. Not every child drops "r"s. Not that you can't use those characteristics, but your child must have more to him than a clumsy tongue. Children are so much fun, that it is a pity to limit them to a speech impediment. Think outside the box. Does she like to dress up? Is she flamboyant? Would she march up to a stranger and demand a kiss, or is she quiet and reserved, having to be coaxed to speak?
Perhaps the most fun is writing The Little Boy. Frogs and snails and puppy-dog tails! ;) I have a weakness for naughty little boys....Dill, Darby, Tucker...oh yes. What is it that makes them so adorable? It could be something as small as freckles, a pug-nose, dirt around his fingernails. Just watch a little boy for five minutes and you'll have a host of actions to use in describing that character of yours. :)

Point Three: Pay Attention:
The Mistress of this third point, in my humble opinion, was Edith Nesbit. Even the narration of her books reflects the elaborate, illogical, perfect charm of a child's thinking. This is a task that takes some doing, for the older we grow, the easier it is to forget how sensible a childish thought once seemed to us, and how we came across that thought in the first place. You must cast aside all adult-ish thinking when you write for children. You must approach them on their own footing, thinking how they think, dealing with crisis the way they do. Sometimes it requires a kyniption fit. Sometimes it requires a fist-fight. But bet upon it. Something unexpected and not quite well-behaved is always the right way for a child. :) After all, social-grace and politics are not a large part of the average child's diet. Scapegraces are darlings, in my opinion. :) 

Point Four: Have Fun:
This is the last, and perhaps most important point. Children are fun. They have not yet learned that life expects more of you than smiles and giggles, delicious frights, more smiles, and a little dirt thrown in. Let your pen play for awhile instead of work. You characters can, on occasion, even serve as your alter-egos. I dare you to try to forget you are nearly grown-up, or even grown-up, or even Very Ancient. Try writing in a childish way. You'll find it refreshing, unusual, and so addicting you'll want to come back for more. :) 

“It is all very wonderful and mysterious, as all life is apt to be if you go a little below the crust, and are not content just to read newspapers and go by the Tube Railway, and buy your clothes ready-made, and think nothing can be true unless it is uninteresting.” 
~Edith Nesbit

Monday, January 16, 2012

"Heigh-Ho for a Husband" Contest Announcment! :)

I decided it was high time I hosted another contest on The Inkpen Authoress, and for some time I have had a perfectly splendid idea, if I do say so myself. You see, Valentine's Day is looming large on the horizon. Long has the day been heralded as a day of love. Love letters, love-gifts, professions of love, chocolate, flowers, things along that line. But what is a girl to do when she has no lover of her own? When she is quite single? That would be the question. Some people have even jokingly termed Valentine's Day: "SAD." (Singles Awareness Day)
Such is my case, and the case of many others. Granted, some of you are not of marriageable age, but that is muchly beside the point. So here's the deal. This contest will be a contest of Fiction. You may write a dialog, a poem, or a short story (no more than 4,000 words, please). The theme is Un-Valentined Humor. :) Witty, funny, humorous entries about this plight. After all, it isn't exactly a bad thing to be unmarried, and it doesn't mean that you never will be married. We must laugh at ourselves and other people in the same predicament, and celebrate this humorous time of life! :)
"Thus goes everyone in the world by I, and I am sunburnt. I may sit in a corner and cry 'heigh-ho' for a husband!"
       ~William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing 
You may write about two girls discussing their single state, a romantic comedy where no one ends up married, a parody on a famous romantic poem, etc. The idea is to showcase the themes of Valentine's day from an "un-coupled" person's prospective! :) Have fun with it! (And no, you don't have to be single to enter.)
As always, keep the entries clean and appropriate--I will disqualify anything I deem to the contrary of those scruples. However, I expect nothing but brilliancy from the lot of  you. This "Heigh-Ho for a Husband" Blog Party and Contest will open Wednesday, January 23, 2012, and end on February 14th, 2011.
The rules are as follows:
  • Each entrant may submit one entry for each category: Poetry, Dialog, or Story. Email all submissions to
  • The entries will be judged in their category.  I'll choose one winner from each category, and their entries will be featured on this blog. 
  • Then the winners from those three entries will compete for the Grand Prize Winner. I will be announcing the prize at a later date. :)
This event is not only a contest though--I will be showing excerpts from famous books about being unmarried, scribblings of my own, interviews, and perhaps a giveaway! Also, you will get to read the debut of my one-act dialog: "Thus Goes Everyone in the World But I." :) Please spread the word about this contest, and get your pens poised for scribbling! :) Remember, I will begin accepting entries on January 23, 2012! The contest runs for 3 full weeks. :)
P.S. You may begin writing your entries now--just don't send them before Jan. 23, please!