Monday, April 30, 2012

Tennyson's "The May Queen"

As it is almost May, I thought I'd post a bit of  poem on the subject. Get you all fired up to host a May Day party. ;) This is part one of Lord Tennyson's "May Queen." Enjoy it!

"The May Queen"
Alfred, Lord Tennyson

You must wake and call me early, call me early, mother dear;
To-morrow 'ill be the happiest time of all the glad [1] New-year;
Of all the glad New-year, mother, the maddest merriest day;
For I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, I'm to be Queen o' the May.

There's many a black, black eye, they say, but none so bright as mine;
There's Margaret and Mary, there's Kate and Caroline:
But none so fair as little Alice in all the land they say,
So I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, I'm to be Queen o' the May.

I sleep so sound all night, mother, that I shall never wake,
If you [2] do not call me loud when the day begins to break:
But I must gather knots of flowers, and buds and garlands gay,
For I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, I'm to be Queen o' the May.

As I came up the valley whom think ye should I see,
But Robin [3] leaning on the bridge beneath the hazel-tree?
He thought of that sharp look, mother, I gave him yesterday,--
But I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, I'm to be Queen o' the May.

He thought I was a ghost, mother, for I was all in white,
And I ran by him without speaking, like a flash of light.
They call me cruel-hearted, but I care not what they say,
For I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, I'm to be Queen o' the May.

They say he's dying all for love, but that can never be:
They say his heart is breaking, mother--what is that to me?
There's many a bolder lad 'ill woo me any summer day,
And I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, I'm to be Queen o' the May.

Little Effie shall go with me to-morrow to the green,
And you'll be there, too, mother, to see me made the Queen;
For the shepherd lads on every side 'ill come from far away,
And I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, I'm to be Queen o' the May.

The honeysuckle round the porch has wov'n its wavy bowers,
And by the meadow-trenches blow the faint sweet cuckoo-flowers;
And the wild marsh-marigold shines like fire in swamps and hollows gray,
And I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, I'm to be Queen o' the May.

The night-winds come and go, mother, upon the meadow-grass,
And the happy stars above them seem to brighten as they pass;
There will not be a drop of rain the whole of the live-long day,
And I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, I'm to be Queen o' the May.

All the valley, mother, 'ill be fresh and green and still,
And the cowslip and the crowfoot are over all the hill,
And the rivulet in the flowery dale 'ill merrily glance and play,
For I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, I'm to be Queen o' the May.

So you must wake and call me early, call me early, mother dear,
To-morrow 'ill be the happiest time of all the glad New-year:
To-morrow 'ill be of all the year the maddest merriest day,
For I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, I'm to be Queen o' the May.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Prompt Story Contest Winners Announced!

It's time to announce the winner's of the Prompt Story Contest! I had such fun seeing what each of you did with that one little line: 

"When I stepped over the warm, sun soaked threshold I never expected to see..." 

But there you see, not one of the entries was like another!  You surpassed yourselves in originality. That being said, I am here to show you the two winners--I chose these two based on their merits and my own taste. Thus I give to you:

"All in a Morning's Duel"

By Leanna Ozee
    When I stepped over the warm, sun soaked threshold I never expected to see the Earl of Doncaster. He was seated at Sir Godfrey’s table, with his feet insolently propped upon the tabletop, while he twirled in his fingers, a knife.
     My hand went to the hilt of my broadsword. “Forsooth! When Sir Godfrey asked me to join him for a day’s hunt, little did I think to find thee here!”  
  The Earl of Doncaster smiled beneath his mustache. “In truth, I did not expect to be so fortunate as to see thee, Robin of Locksley." 
 Sitting upon the table was an assortment of fruits. The Earl plunged his knife into a pomegranate and watched as the red juice trickled from the fruit and stained the blade of his knife. His glance was full of loathing. “Thou knowest well that I have sought Prince John’s reward for thee.” He was poised as a cat ready to pounce, and I waited, as tense as he.  
Suddenly, he sprang from where he was seated. I was ready and the steel of my blade met his in a fierce clash. 
“Pray thee, stop!” Before we could make a proper duel of it, our host had leapt betwixt us. “Is there need to make such a display upon my very hearth?” 
The Earl and I took a step back from one another. “Thou art right, Sir Godfrey. Let us no longer insult our host by this unseemly behavior in his home.” I waved my blade toward the open door. “Shall we move to a more suitable place?” The Earl bowed his head in prideful consent. I then proceeded through the door ahead of him. 
“Robin!” At the cry, I instinctively dropped to the ground and rolled away. I sprang to my feet again and turned to see the Earl tugging at his sword, which was imbedded in a wooden pillar not inches from where I had been standing. 
I waited for him to dislodge it. “Art thou such a coward, Hewitt of Doncaster, that thou wouldst stab a man in the back?” 
With a vicious pull, he at last freed the blade of his sword. Then the sound of steel upon steel filled the old courtyard of Sir Godfrey’s family estate, as the Earl and I fought up and down upon its crumbling flagstones. 
 I bounded atop a mound of stones, the ruins of some aged structure, and fended off the blows of my opponent. 
“Thou art mine, Robin!” The Earl vigorously swung his sword at my legs. 
I leapt so that his blade harmlessly passed beneath my feet. With a laugh, I sprang down from my perch, giving his head a crack with the flat of my sword. 
The Earl sprawled to the ground and I stood, spinning my sword in one hand. He shook his head, and staggered to his feet. “Thou wilt die for that-Robin Hood!” 
An impudent smile and the blade of my sword were all that answered his challenge.

*    *    *

I loved this because Leanna told enough of a story without telling it all. The ending is deliciously open for imagination, and her action and dialog was done very well. :) The second piece was written by our own Bookworm, and told an entirely different story. It caught my fancy somehow. I liked how sunsoaked the whole piece felt, in keeping with that first sentence. :)

*    *     *
"The End of the Fairytale"

By Bookworm
    When I stepped over the warm, sunsoaked threshold I never expected to see my fate hanging in the balance. Looking past the piles of dirt that accumulated in the past weeks, I see my mother. Her brow is slightly arched and I know I’m done for. What was I thinking, leaving this mess behind me? She had gone into town for a month while I was here keeping the coop. What a great job I’ve done. I try a small smile hoping that her emotions of motherly love will soften her. Obviously not. She’s holding a broom in her hand and I’m wondering if that will be the device to kick me out the door.
    “Well, you have proven just what I said.” My mother tips the broom in her hand sardonically. “But he wouldn’t listen; he thinks you are the perfect bride to be!” Her laugh sends chills down my back. I’m not really listening, just wondering what in the world has gotten in to her. I know we aren’t necessarily the “best of friends” but usually we keep out of each other’s affairs.     Suddenly I notice Baldwin step from behind a canvas to the right of my mother. My face flushes uncontrollably. Why does our business always have to be so public?
    “Sleeping beauty, Rapunzel, Belle, Cinderella…” Mother’s mouth twisted as she called me the last fairy tell name.
    “Mother!” It was all I could say for a plea. Why bring up my stories now, in front of him? I’m a celebrated novelist in our small neck of the wood, but to bring up my dreams now? I look over at the glistening book case and it’s the first time I wanted to tear those precious books apart! I peal my eyes away and look at the man now just paces before me.
    “You are to be my wife.” Baldwin said this with a lot more confidence than he portrayed. “As is the custom.” Yes, that lovely custom where a man comes and tells, not asks, a girl to be his wife. And people wonder why I write what I write. “I’ve read your stories and they are romantic, intriguing, and farfetched but still... good.”
    Out of nowhere, all of the sudden, I feel bold. Inexplicably so. “No, I won’t.” Once I’ve said it I’m sure this is the day I just might die of fright.
    A smile tugged at his lips and he looks at me with a serene, loving look. “I was hoping you’d say that.” Now I’m just dumbfounded. “Would you do me the honor?” Now even my mother looks like she is about to keel over. His hand is outstretched and something within me compels me to take it. Honestly I always did love him, but I just wasn’t going to give in, but now that he actually asked…
     “Truly?” Then I fumble out, “Yes.”
     With one fleeting look at the bookcase I knew this was my fairytale ending.

Well done, Leanna and Bookworm! Thank you for entertaining us so well. :)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

April Snippets of Story

Good Grief! I thought I wasn't going to have anything at all to post of April Snippets with Katie, seeing as I haven't written anything all month. But today I managed to begin something. I won't promise anything (as I've learned I hate keeping writing-related promises I've made. :P) but this could possibly turn into my next project. I call it Third Time's the Charm and so far it is a ducky little story with rather a lot of personality. Which is what and how and why I write. Anyway, whatever the outcome, do enjoy these snippets of story!

     “Who are you hiding from?” The governess—or whatever she was—asked. 
 Lord Blythe Halyard did not like that wicked, laughing gleam in those grey-green eyes. Her eyes were exactly the hue of that racing horse he’d lost ten-quid on at the Ascot races. He had thought at the time the horse was green but of course one couldn’t have a green horse so it must have been grey. He’d never settled the matter to his satisfaction. But whatever the outcome, the horse and this young woman’s eyes were the same color, and it irked him. Governesses had no right to look so triumphant and mighty over nothing. “I was not hiding, madam. I was resting. It’s deuced hot in this room and I was tired of standing about like a wax-figure.
-Third Time's the Charm

      He perched on edge of the ottoman like a great gorgeous waist-coated bird and contemplated her face. “You are not very pretty.”      
The woman smiled, and laughter silvered the grey of her eyes—yes, they were grey. “No, I do not have a pretty face. But I have an interesting one, and there are many beautiful women who cannot boast as much.”    
  This was above Lord Halyard’s immediate comprehension. He put up his expensive ocular-device—devil take him, he’d forgot its name again—and inspected her for the second time. Or perhaps her eyes were green. Green or grey? That was the question. They had a peculiar and irking indecision in them. “I thought it was every woman’s duty to be beautiful,” he said with an abruptness born of being conquered by a question of color.      
 “A woman’s duty? And so it is, I suppose, as much as it is every man’s duty to be polite and complimentary. Neither of us measure up to our requirements—I suppose we shall be outcasts of Society by and by.” She laughed again, and to Lord Halyard it seemed she rather relished the idea.
-Third Time's the Charm

  “So you know the Benevolent One?”      
“Know him? I’d still be Blythe Bunting of Tillburrow Topham if he hadn’t gone in and got me a lordship and a house.”    
 “Is that a correct term?” Madeleine Starr asked with a shade of indecision passing over her brow.      
“Is what a correct term?” 
  “‘lordship’ used in that fashion.”      
“I’ll be hanged if I know. But I used it and I think it stands to reason if one uses a term in a sensible way it doesn’t matter what Noah Webster thinks of it.”
-Third Time's the Charm

It had come with a bright red wafer of wax and the address in an elegant hand:          
    Blythe Bunting    
    Tillburrow Topham      
    Shropshire, England    
 He’d thought it was a condolence letter at last, letting him know that Auntie Chaffinch had died and left him his expectations at last. Only it had been pressed upon his intelligence by the stable-boy at the Plow & Onion that such letters were sealed with black wax, not robin-red. After that, he’d not been over-eager to read the letter, as he expected no money from anyone and money was the only thing he wished to receive in the mail at present.
-Third Time's the Charm

There is only one thing I ask and stipulate in this, my latest will and testament. That you will find an American heiress by the name of Madeleine Starr and ask her three questions in the first three years of your acquaintance: 
1.    Can a candle burn when the air is deep?
2.    Who can fathom the paths of sleep?
3.    Where will the trail of the future leap? 
Do this and all will be well. Fail to act in the manner I've noted, fail to help Miss Starr find the answers, and all will be lost.                               
                                               I am yours warmly,                                                  
                                                              The Benevolent One
-Third Time's the Charm

He’d often wondered why his benefactor had not christened himself ‘The Mysterious One’ or ‘The Puzzling One.’ But of course ‘benevolent’ was a much pleasanter and less suspicious word to have on a latest will and testament--whatever that was. As long as the inheritance was sound, that was all that mattered, really.
-Third Time's the Charm

A Man's a Man for a' that.

I am a woman. (Obviously.) Many of my followers are young ladies as well. I have five sisters. All of these are very plausible reasons as to why my posts tend to reference the female population more often than not.

But it recently came into my thoughts (and was subsequently brought to my attention) that we are not all women on this blog. There are a few young men of good taste and even better sense who follow The Inkpen Authoress and all this going on about "have a good day, girls" and "Hey ladies--hope you're having a great weekend" is rather unfair to the poor chappos. I am sorry, gents.

Wyatt Fairlead, a very sensible and judicious blogger at What My Mind Does, wrote me an email regarding this topic. The subject of the email was pertaining to this issue, but the manner and phrasing was what caught me:

"As I am sure you are aware I have been reading, "The Inkpen Authoress"  as a would-be lit. enthusiast and out of interest.  As I have read however I have noticed that you seem to focus on the female audience as you write.  I say this in no way to criticize, and I also realize that the vast majority of your followers are ladies.  In fact, as this realization dawned it occurred to me that perhaps your blog was more intended for ladies and I was in fact unintentionally intruding.  I am writing you to ask if this is the case, and if so, I will of course no longer comment and be a follower only in so much as...etc."

He goes on, but what the rest of the email said is of little consequence. This bit shows the great good sense of this young man. (and I hope the others resemble him in this respect.) Most fellows would have said something silly like, "Why do you talk so much about girls?" but Wyatt showed an honorable mind in wondering if he was, perhaps, the one intruding. Not so, of course, but I appreciated the thought. It showed a careful mind and gentlemanly impulse.
I have often noticed in conversation with Mr. Fairlead and other young men of my acquaintance, this tasteful hesitance to intrude, and yet careful pointing out of a flaw in my logic or behavior. It is the best sort of criticism to receive, for it is meant kindly and received kindly and all parties are the better for it. I hope I do not embarrass Mr. Fairlead by using him as a scape-goat for the thing I have been musing over for some time: A gentleman's point of view is sadly lacking in our girlish writing blogs.

I love girls. I am a girl. I live with girls. And yet I think there are not enough Wyatt Fairleads in our literary world. Think of that famed Inkling Club that Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were a part of. I recall reading a description of it by C.S. Lewis himself wherein he stated that "We were not a mutual-admiration club."
Ouch. Because I love compliments on my writing. You love compliments on your writing. And yet compliments are not excessively constructive. I want my blog to be a place where we can grow as writers. I want you to be able to point out flaws or weaknesses so that I can grow in my craft. If I think I have arrived as a writer, Heaven help me. I don't wish this to be (in its entirety) a mutual admiration club. And I think the gentleman keep if from being such.
I do not intend to portray the male audience as pedantic, dictatorial, and critical mass of men. However, it is a characteristic of men that they are able to distance themselves from the emotion of a situation or piece of writing and see it for what it is--with all it's dangling participles and incorrect grammar. The gents keep us from becoming fan-girls and vain, silly writers.

In fact, I wish I had more followers of the gentleman variety. You are welcome, dear fellows, come pull us out of our complacent, feminine ruts. Whenever I see a chap who has decided to follow The Inkpen Authoress I smile to myself, mentally shake hands with him and say, "Ah! There's a Sensible Man."

So thank you, Wyatt Fairlead. I ow you and every other gentleman (though they are few) a real handshake someday for following this blog. I treasure all of my readers (male or female) and seek your constructive criticism and advice so that I might not make the mistake of being a complacently arrogant authoress. Don't let me become self-satisfied. That is the worst mistake any human being can make. So chaps? Feel free to join this blog and hang your hat on a peg. There's always a place for your sort. :)

Monday, April 23, 2012

"Five-and-twenty, Tattycoram."

...Or ten, rather. I have decided to join up (at least for several of the days) in The Anne-girl's Hero Week over at her blog, Scribblings of my Pen and Tappings of my Keyboard. :) Today's challenge was to list my top 10 favorite heroes in literature and tell you a bit about them. Ready? Set? Go!

1. John Jarndyce. For those of you who have read Charles Dicken's Bleak House, you will realize who I am talking about and why I love him so. He is the epitome of self-sacrifice and generosity. He's loving, gentle, but firm. Plus he never goes off his rocker like some people. *ahem ahem* (Nobody said the hero has to be the lover, right?)

2. Sir Percy Blakeney. Yes, yes, I know. Every girl loves Sir Percy, but it would be positively indecent not to include him in this list, even at risk of sounding like a common fan-girl. :P The French Revolution needs to be relived (kidding) so that we can have a real Scarlet Pimpernel. I was rather dismalized when I remembered there was no such personage in the actual history of the French Rev. Sir Percy is heroism itself--pluck, audacity, humor, compassion, and considerable fashion taste. ;)

3. Arthur Clennam. The hero of Little Dorrit, this man is one of the gentlest and sweetest heroes I've yet to come across in literature. He is humble, loyal, kind, and yet unmoving. His scruples are never moved by any of his circumstances and in the end he is rewarded for all that. :) Arthur Clennam has lived a life of contradictions: unloved, yet loving. Pushed away, yet reaching out. He's a real man. :)

4. Mr. Knightley. We all know who he is. We all know why he's on this list. We all know that words would not begin to describe the depth of his character. Thus I shall borrow his own words and appropriate them to myself: "Perhaps if I felt less I could talk about it more." ;)

5. Sydney Carton. We don't often think of this fellow from Charles Dicken's A Tale of Two Cities when we think of our top ten fictional heroes, but I had to include him. He is a wouldbegood. He has wasted his life for years, is denied the woman he loves, is about to go to ruin, and then he has a conversion. He takes that wasted life and becomes a hero. It's a beautiful picture of our own redemption through Christ.

Haven't seen any film version of this book so I hope this is Sydney. :D

6. Nathaniel Bowditch. I don't think I've read of a more determined man than this fellow. I was inspired by his sheer determination and strength in the face of so many trials. If you ever want a good, easy, rather sad book to read, read Carry on, Mr. Bowditch. :)

7. David Copperfield. Although I was cross for his perversity in marrying Dora, I loved David. His story was pathetic and yet sweet. And he rose up through all those terrible spheres of trial and temptation and came out on the right end. I love him. :)

8. This brings me to Mr. Dan'l Peggotty. (Also from David Copperfield) He is, perhaps, the true "hero" in the book. His love for his niece, Em'ly, and his quest to find her and bring her home brought me to tears several times. He is so blue and brown and sea-smelling that one can't help but love him. :)

9. Jean Valjean. This character from Les Miserables had my sympathy from the get-go. I wanted to  do something awful to Javert myself to get him off of this good man's track. I know Les Miz was written partially as an allegory and I can see why. Jean Valjean is a redeemed man, and yet his past and faith-by-works is hunting him down relentlessly. A marvelous hero.

10. Gilbert Blythe. I had to include him. Gilbert is so ordinary and yet so great. Why do I count him among my favorite heroes? My only answer is a shrug and a "why-not", but I think it has something to do with the fact that he is down to earth. I feel that I have a real chance of meeting my own Gilbert someday. He is practical, generous, funny, and impulsive and that is why he is on my list.

Have a great Monday, girls! :)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

It gives one a sense of irony...

Here are some funny writing tips I found today. Enjoy reading them. :)

  • Finish your point on an upbeat note...unless you can't think of one
  • Don't patronize your reader--he or she might well be intelligent enough to spot it
  • Avoid unnecessary examples. e.g. this one
  • Similes are about as much use as a chocolate teapot.
  • Mixed metaphors can kill two birds without a paddle.
  • Take care with pluri.
  • If you can't think of the word you have in mind, look  it up in one of those dictionary-type thingies.
  • Do you really think people are impressed with rhetorical questions?
  • Sarcasm--yes, I bet that will go down really well.
  • Less is more. This means that a short, cryptic statement is often preferable to an accurate, but drawn out, explanation that lacks punch and loses the reader.
  • Many readers assume that a word will not assume two meanings within the same sentence.
  • Some early drafts of this document had had clumsy juxtapositions
  • If there's a word on the tip of your tongue that you can't quite pin down, use a cinnamon.
  • Strangely enough it is impossible to construct a sentence that illustrates the meaning of the word 'irony.'
  • Practice humility until you're really sure you have it down.
  • There is no place for overemphasis whatsoever.

....I love irony.... :D

Friday, April 20, 2012

It is a simple question...a business proposition, actually.

I like surveys. I really do. I like hearing statistics and numbers and all that rot. Not that I'm any good and coming up with them on my own, mind you, but there is nothing like a good whump of facts to make me smile.

All that (andacertainlackof ***ahem***writinginthepastfewweeks) has lead to me asking you, dear readers, a question:

 What are you reading?

A simple little question but one that packs a lot of punch when one considers the speculation another could build about your character off of what sorts of books you read. ;) So leave a comment and tell me what literary adventures you've been reveling in or slogging through or otherwise consuming!

As for myself, I've been reading The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James and loving it so far! This could have a deal to do with the fact that I find I resemble Isabel Archer in every single point except that of physical characteristics! :D (So far--I do not know what the end of the book will bring to change that opinion. :)

Comment away! I want to hear all your news.  :D

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Scott's "The Lady of the Lake"

I thought I'd share with you some pieces of another of my favorite (lengthy :P) poems: Sir Walter Scott's "The Lady of the Lake."

You can read the whole of it here--it is such gorgeous poem and full of such stirring bits. I feel as if I want to jump right into the setting...the Trossachs, Loch Katrine and will love the end too! :) But here is a taste of the glories to come for those who read this beautiful piece of literature:

The stag at eve had drunk his fill,
Where danced the moon on Monan's rill,
And deep his midnight lair had made
In lone Glenartney's hazel shade;
But when the sun his beacon red
Had kindled on Benvoirlich's head,
The deep-mouthed bloodhound's heavy bay
Resounded up the rocky way,
And faint, from farther distance borne,
Were heard the clanging hoof and horn.

(Canto First, I)

The western waves of ebbing day
Rolled o'er the glen their level way;
Each purple peak, each flinty spire,
Was bathed in floods of living fire.
But not a setting beam could glow
Within the dark ravines below,
Where twined the path in shadow hid,
Round many a rocky pyramid,
Shooting abruptly from the dell
Its thunder-splintered pinnacle;
Round many an insulated mass,
The native bulwarks of the pass,
Huge as the tower which builders vain
Presumptuous piled on Shinar's plain.
The rocky summits, split and rent,
Formed turret, dome, or battlement.
Or seemed fantastically set
With cupola or minaret,
Wild crests as pagod ever decked,
Or mosque of Eastern architect.
Nor were these earth-born castles bare,
Nor lacked they many a banner fair;
For, from their shivered brows displayed,
Far o'er the unfathomable glade,
All twinkling with the dewdrop sheen,
The briar-rose fell in streamers green,
kind creeping shrubs of thousand dyes
Waved in the west-wind's summer sighs.

(Canto First XI)

The shades of eve come slowly down,
The woods are wrapt in deeper brown,
The owl awakens from her dell,
The fox is heard upon the fell;
Enough remains of glimmering light
To guide the wanderer's steps aright,

(Canto Fourth XXIX)

With step and weapon forward flung,
Upon the mountain-side they hung.
The Mountaineer cast glance of pride
Along Benledi's living side,
Then fix'd his eye and sable brow
Full on Fitz-James--"How say'st thou now?
These are Clan-Alpine's warriors true;
And, Saxon,--I am Roderick Dhu!"

(Canto Five)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Keep Calm Contest entries. :)

I am entering Miss Dashwood's "Keep Calm" Jane Austen poster contest! Here are my two entries:

I made them on an awesome Keep Calm Poster Generator! :) Yay for templates! ;) 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Home again, home again, jiggity-jig :)

Good morning lovelies! I am home from my travelling and can say that I had a grand time in the beautiful North Carolinian mountains fellowshipping and learning and hanging out with some of the dearest girl-souls this side of paradise. :) It was mahvelous. Of course there are dangers accompanying the sojourning of an affectionate creature like myself--I get attached to people rather quickly and have to tear myself away with deep wistfulness...but it was not so awful this time because one of the dearest of the darlings came home with me and will not leave until sometime tomorrow.
We assuaged our grief with Rascal Flatt's "Life is a Highway" played at the top of the speaker capacity, varied now and again by Chris Rice's "When did you fall in love with me?" or the boingy Celtic song "Scalliwag."
We were greeted by all the home folks and crowned the end of the trip by getting deliciously  confused and scared by the BBC's "The Mystery of Edwin Drood" and having to partake of M&M therapy. It was wonderful.
But this has nothing to do with writing, does it? Nope. But I suppose it is the experiences of life that shape our writing so who knows? There may be mountains in one of my books and if I'd never seen them, how would I be able to describe? I wouldn't. That's all. :)
 But I have saved the best for last. I've found her. Who? Who? Who? Only Cecily Woodruff! Lady Cecelia! You know. I found her on Pinterest quite without looking for her. She is beautiful, is she not?

Even the hair is right. Wow. This is amazing! 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Wouldn't you love to get a letter from *him*? :)

This girl...yes, that one ^ is off to a girls' retreat tomorrow, so you shan't hear from me till the week's end at the earliest. :] *Cue weeping, wailing, gnashing of teeth*... ;) No, I am sure you will do very very well without me. Your feed might even get a rest which might be nice. But I found something positively brilliant that I had to leave you with. Here's hoping it will inspire and uplift you, and help you love our dear old Jack better than ever...I found it on, and thought it was such profoundly simple yet intricate writing advice from one of the best authors ever that I had to post it here to show you girls. :)

The Kilns,
Headington Quarry,
26 June 1956
Dear Joan–
Thanks for your letter of the 3rd. You describe your Wonderful Night v. well. That is, you describe the place and the people and the night and the feeling of it all, very well — but not the thing itself — the setting but not the jewel. And no wonder! Wordsworth often does just the same. His Prelude (you’re bound to read it about 10 years hence. Don’t try it now, or you’ll only spoil it for later reading) is full of moments in which everything except the thing itself is described. If you become a writer you’ll be trying to describe the thing all your life: and lucky if, out of dozens of books, one or two sentences, just for a moment, come near to getting it across.
About amn’t Iaren’t I and am I notof course there are no right or wrong answers about language in the sense in which there are right and wrong answers in Arithmetic. “Good English” is whatever educated people talk; so that what is good in one place or time would not be so in another. Amn’t I was good 50 years ago in the North of Ireland where I was brought up, but bad in Southern England. Aren’t I would have been hideously bad in Ireland but very good in England. And of course I just don’t know which (if either) is good in modern Florida. Don’t take any notice of teachers and textbooks in such matters. Nor of logic. It is good to say “more than one passenger was hurt,” although more than one equals at least two and therefore logically the verb ought to be plural were not singular was!
What really matters is:–
1. Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean and make sure your sentence couldn’t mean anything else.
2. Always prefer the plain direct word to the long, vague one. Don’t implement promises, but keep them.
3. Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do. If you mean “More people died” don’t say “Mortality rose.”
4. In writing. Don’t use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the thing you are describing. I mean, instead of telling us a thing was “terrible,” describe it so that we’ll be terrified. Don’t say it was “delightful”; make us say “delightful” when we’ve read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers, “Please will you do my job for me.”
5. Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say “infinitely” when you mean “very”; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.
Thanks for the photos. You and Aslan both look v. well. I hope you’ll like your new home.
With love
C.S. Lewis

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Introducing The Prompt Story Contest!

I hope all you girls are having a blessed Resurrection Sunday! :) We had an amazing breakfast and church service as a church family right in our backyard under a huge circus-style tent a guy from our group owns. Afterward all the guys got together to beat the tent-take-down time from last year. It took them only an amazing 10 minutes last Easter to tear the tent down, pull up all the stakes, fold it, and load it. Today they completed all that in 3 minutes and 45 seconds. 3 minutes and 45 seconds.


I cheered like a cowgirl. :D

But now, girls, its high time. High time? For what? For another contest here at The Inkpen Authoress! :) The Prompt Story Contest. I have done many different sorts of contests in the course of my "life" here on this blog, but this one is just a tad different. You see, it's a short-story contest. Yes yes I know, but what makes it different?

Just this: I am supplying the opening sentence. I am giving you a "prompt." You have to use this sentence as the start of your story and build something fabulous off of it. I'm looking for original, fascinating, captivating, intriguing stories built off of that one little sentence. Ready for the challenge?

All right. Here are the rules:

All stories must be emailed to by April 22, 2012. That gives you exactly 2 weeks from today.

  • The stories are to be rather short stories--not more than 500 words, please.
  • I will pick two winners who will then have their pieces featured on this blog. :)
  • All entries must use my sentence as the beginning of the piece.
  • All entries must be clean. No language or other questionable material, please. :)

Ready for The Sentence? Here it is!
"When I stepped over the warm, sunsoaked threshold I never expected to see..."

Ready? Set? Scribble!

Friday, April 6, 2012

"What do those girls do over there all day?"

I suppose you, like I, assume that fellow authoresses must spend all day tucked away in a lovely little writing corner. You believe I am an authoress who has the leisure to scribble all day long. There would be a canary or two in a little gilt cage hanging near the half-open window of my eyrie. I would have a geranium potted in a delft pitcher--its homey scarlet and white banners fluttering in the fresh spring breeze. I would write with a pen and ink. My ink-pot would be blue glass, catching sparkles of sunlight and holding them in its deep cobalt depths.
I have reams of paper in your imagination--computers never figure there. All these blog posts are written to you, my friends, on cream colored stationary scented of lavender. I would have bits and pieces of clever drawings that inspire. I would have quotes scrawled on tattered bits of antique paper. My book friends would hold honored court with my "Genius Burns" sign, and my characters would find a quiet, brilliant corner of brain to mellow in while I worked on their brethren.
Plot bunnies would never disturb me--I have a leather-bound notebook where they reside. My chair would be of the Windsor style and painted Wedgewood blue. Outdoors it would always be invariably sunshine--the only variety being when a merry rain came to patter amongst the red roses growing below the window.

Yes...that would be ideal, would it not? But yours truly doesn't live such a life. I would even beg leave to say such a life would not be conducive to brilliancy. One cannot sit down to write if one hasn't stood up to live, you know. So what does an average day look like for Rachel Heffington, authoress? I shall endeavor to tell you.

It began with a younger sister getting ill during the night. Oy vay. I am not a Clara Barton. I woke up around 8:00 this morning---enjoying a brief respite from my routine of waking at 6:30 to write. It soon became apparent that I would get no writing done this morning. After breakfast I trotted around with bleach and a rag cleaning everything that would bear a wet face decently. That's the way to eradicate sickness, believe me! I am a great hand at doing it. :P
Then it was time for the authoress to go grubbing up in the room over the garage, gathering potato sets into a bushel basket on her hands and knees. She let her mind wander over the unfairness of the publishing world, Jan Karon, and other topics. She asked herself why she always wrote about British people and why she always wrote about boys--both things that are somewhat foreign to her nature.
She then went out to the garden where she poked holes and poked peas into the holes and poked more holes and poked more peas and stamped down a path to vary the routine before beginning again. She is very efficient in the garden.
Then, musing over a very intriguing dream she had had, yours truly wondered how to phrase it to catch the exact color and gleam of the seemed somehow rather Important. But, seeing that now was her only time for writing a blog post, (while eating lunch and feeding a baby beans and applesauce. :) this authoress, Rachel, decided she had better begin.
That is the way I usually live. :) Much of my writing is completed in my imagination--at least major workings out. And you know what? I'm more useful without the geraniums and inkpots and Windsor chairs. I can garden and cook and clean and diaper, all the while being the picture of Efficiency. It's a good life, albeit a prosaic one. :)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Call me Ishmael

When I picked Moby Dick up at a library sale I bought it mostly for its age. It was an oldish copy with gilt waves on the binding and illustrations--always a plus! I knew I ought to read it. I am always keeping a copy of Ought To Reads much as some people keep To Do List. They are no necessarily books I think I'll love, but ones I know a well-read person should have in their repertoire. I had always considered Moby Dick the sort of   book little eleven year old boys devour and coerce their older sisters into reading. But immediately upon beginning Moby Dick I was astounded--the writing is humorous, salty, and even beautiful. I have so enjoyed reading Melville's Moby Dick that I had to share some of his genius with you. Here are a few examples of Herman Melville's gilded ink:
Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off--then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.

~ ^ ~

The starred and stately nights seemed haughty dames in jewelled velvets, nursing at home in lonely pride, the memory of their absent conquering Earls, the golden helmeted suns!

~ ^ ~

These are the times of dreamy quietude, when beholding the tranquil beauty and brilliancy of the ocean's skin, one forgets the tiger heart that pants beneath it; and would not willingly remember, that this velvet paw but conceals a remorseless fang.

~ ^ ~

"I am ready to shiver fifty lances with you there, and unhorse you with a split helmet every time."

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A Promising 3 Sentences. ;)

Why oh why do titles always come to me before plots? Why? Argh. I am not as cross as I could be, as I am openly welcoming plot bunnies to start me off on my next Project. Of course I always have numerous projects that I work on now and again,  but I like a Main Course, if you will...I am feeling that something may be happening with a certain name...which certain name? Well, I shouldn't tell you, but I will.

 Banbury Cross.

That name sends all sorts of ideas darting through my brain...I have written all of about three sentences, but I'm already intrigued. It my go nowhere. It may go somewhere. I shall have to see....

She could have been carved of the white cliffs of Dover as she stood in the middle of the moon-washed road. White was her skin—marble fair. White was her gown, stitched here and there with blue shadow-kisses. White was her horse and it too stood still as a mirror as if bewitched. -Banbury Cross

Monday, April 2, 2012

You Wanted to Know, You Know.

Oh look ^ a barnacle vase! I think it's kinda pretty, actually!
The Circumlocution Office received all your inquiries with open arms--I was quite surprised at how those Barnacles scooted over when I commanded them. And now time for a brief interlude while Rachel trots off to hang up the laundry like the sweet little housewife she is...Okay! I'm back and the clothes are flapping in the jaunty April breezes! :)

Now for the answers! :) Felicity wanted To Know: "What inspired you to write this post?" Truthfully? I was tired of hearing my own voice and wanted to hear from someone else for a change so I thought I'd enlist the help of a Barnacle or two to extract questions. ;)

Blossom's Choice Girl asked: "Have you ever won any sort of writing contest?" I have...once I believe. It was a poetry contest and m'thinks I won tops for "Here Runneth the Path of Fairy Feet." :)

"Can you sing or play an instrument?" I can sing well enough. I don't have an exceptionally strong voice--it wouldn't carry past the footlights and that's why I wouldn't make it as a Broadway actress, but it is a sweet little voice, I suppose. :) But I can't play anything. I wish I could, and several of my siblings do, but the time devoted to study would have to be carved off of my other interests such as writing...ahem...and that is utterly impossible! :D

"Who told you about God/ why did you decide to follow Christ?" Ooh. Good question. I have grown up in a Christ-centered home all my life so I suppose it was my parents who first started it all. I was drawn to Christ..I hardly think it was a decision at first--I loved him and wanted to obey him as long as I can remember. It was only when my brother pointed out to me (when I was 5 or 6) that just because my family were Christians didn't make me one, I realized it needed to be a personal commitment. And I've kept learning that ever since. :)

Maria Elisabeth wanted To Know: "What was your first poem like?" In short? Hor.ri.ble. I can't even begin to describe the utter stupidity of it.

"What kind of music do you generally listen to?" It depends. I listen to some Christian contemporary, but my favorite style of music is the old 40's and 50's musicals/crooners and Celtic folk music. :) I really like it when artists combine all those styles (at least, Celtic and Christian) like Keith and Kristen Getty! :)

"How were you first introduced to Dickens, Lewis, and all those other amazing authors?" Well, the Narnia books were some of the first Mama read to me as a young lass. They have always held a special place in my heart. I got started on Dickens through a mutual friend. Little Women, actually. :D I hated not knowing why Jo had started the Pickwick Society. Therefore, Pickwick was my first peep into Dickens and I've never turned back since. :)

"And I save the best for last: Where did you get your genius?" Well my dear girl--you quite flabbergast me. I feel rather like Margaret Hale when she said, "As much as I would like to own up to being remarkably handsome...I was not there." ;) Answering this question in a normal manner would indicate that it was genius burning up in my noggin and not something else. But I will take your question to be a very pretty way of asking, How Did I Learn To Write? My "talent" was "born of fire, bred of dew." which is as much as to say, I Caught it. I caught it from reading and loving and absorbing fine literature. I was never allowed to read "twoddly" books, and therefore my diet of literature was only the best. If you are what you eat, then that must be why I write things worth reading: because I read things worth writing. :)

The Anne-girl made several inquires as well:

"Where did you get your inspiration for Gypsy-Song?" It actually came quite unexpectedly in a simple little phrase: "There was Nannykins to begin with..." and built up rapidly from there! Also, as usual, my siblings gave me robust inspiration for the various children. :)

"Do you think of names or do your characters come named?" Depends...I usually name my characters, as in I suggest the names, but they name themselves in the sense that if the name is not right, it never sticks. :)

And last but certainly not least: "Do you ever dream about your characters?" Actually, no. That has never happened, though I think it'd be amazing. I did dream in Shakespearean English though! :)

Thanks so much, gals! The Circumlocution office will now resume normal activity of Thwarting Progress. No More Wanting to Know. ;)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

You never knew this about him! :D

I love bits of trivia about famous authors--it's a geeky side of me, I guess! :D I am a proficient in the art of Rummaging Up Facts Hitherto Unknown. Here are some of my latest finds:

According to a very reliable source  Elizabeth Gaskell had a hideous fear of spiders and rats combined. One or the other didn't bother her, but if she saw two together she nearly went into apoplexy! :D

C.S. Lewis called his inner editor "Bonzo" after a clown he had seen and been inspired by as a six-year old child. :D Read the whole article here: C.S. Lewis Names Clown His Inspiration... :)

Shakespeare ate sardines and tea for breakfast every morning...I mean hey, fish oil is supposed to work wonders for the brain, right? No wonder he was such a genius!

Lucy Maud Montgomery was creeped out by red-haired people, but in order to do penance for how she had treated her red-haired cousin as a child, (according to a published version of her journal) she created a ginger-capped character for one of her books: Anne Shirley, who went on to become the most famous of all Montgomery's literary heroines!

J.R.R. Tolkien never meant for his books to be published when they were--he wanted to wait and have someone publish them post-humously, but the other Inklings coerced him into early publishing. :D Here's an interesting blog post about it...Talkin' Tolkien: Brainy But Bashful.

Aren't those hilarious? I was laughing so hard over some of them! Oh yeah, and I forgot the best fact of all! This one will really have you going...


...Author Rachel Heffington counted April Fool's Day as one of her favorite semi-holidays. She wrote a blog post full of phony facts to make her friends smile, in hopes that they'd believe some of them. :)

Love you guys! <3