Friday, February 28, 2014

Indie Publishing: What you Didn't Know You Were In For

"Letters of business. How odious I should think them." 
-Caroline Bingley
What most people think of when they think (at all) about an indie author is probably some entirely erroneous picture of a weird kid in a washed out denim jumper who never bothered to get braces for her bucked teeth, wears her hair parted straight down the center of her head (and tucked behind both ears) and doesn't really have all her social graces pegged down. That, or they think of some really awesome person who spends their week literally choreographing sword-fights and practicing fencing with frequent interruptions to run to the desk and type out what just happened.

Indie Author = Rachel Heffington

What people don't realize, is that the moment he hits "approve proof" on Createspace, that indie author has suddenly become a businessman. I didn't realize it, going in. Yeah, I knew marketing was a bit part of getting your name out there and getting your books read. I realized that I would be required to juggle social media and pay attention to other blogs, authors, and book releases. I didn't think that I'd suddenly find myself with enough PR work to effectively employ someone like Callie Harper herself to help me keep afloat of it all. Thanking people/replying to tweets, replying to Facebook messages, replying to emails, writing blog posts, tweeting, writing Facebook posts, sharing links, arranging and answering interviews, reading blogs, puffing other books I enjoyed to begin to integrate into this wild world of self-pubbing, keeping up with Goodreads, reviewing books I've read to help other authors....the list is enormous and I have to write myself a daily to-do list to keep track of any of it. And still things slip behind the desk and I dig them up a week later, feeling terrible I forgot to reply to that pretty much imperative email from that author. There are reviews to read, respond to, and share and you must keep your book in the public eye, too, which means sharing the purchase link tactfully and sweetly and trying to self-promote (good business) while not being annoying and pushy (good friend).

Indie Author + Publicist = Rachel Heffington

That's not all. See, now that I've learned to add publicist to my growing list of talents, there's yet another side of the Indie business I didn't see. That is, quite literally, the side of business. There are books to be autographed, packaged, and shipped. Shipping means going to the store and buying bubble packages, carting them home, addressing them, taking them all to the post office the next day and explaining to the astonished Post-Master than not every one in the towering stack is going overseas and needs a customs form. (Thanks, Mama) Hosting giveaways means that the giveaway winners must be contacted and their addresses procured, their prizes purchased, and their packages shipped. Then, as if that wasn't enough to remember, Paypal withholds payments until you've entered shipping information. I could have done that on Monday if I'd known. Now my payments are all a week behind because I failed to enter the information till this morning. Createspace pays you once a month (provided your royalties add up to at least $15.00) but did you know that your Kindle royalties don't begin for sixty days after the first day of the month in which you made your first sale? Now you have cash flow issues, because you didn't factor the wait in while thinking about your expenses. So you borrow money for shipping/handling and new blog design and other things off your (rich) younger brother and promise to pay him when your royalties finally come around. Then you find out that you forgot that Barnes & Noble actually does carry your book online, so you go around tooting your horn about that and wondering how you managed to overlook that pertinent piece of information. And, yeah, in the middle of all this, you somehow remember you're an indie author still and ought to be working on your next book instead of retweeting articles about how to market effectively.

Indie Author + Publicist + Business Manager = Rachel Heffington

The life of an indie author is far more complicated than I anticipated, but I find the business exhausting exhilarating. All decisions are in your hands, yes, but that means you get to decide. All the PR is up to you, but that means you get to interact one-on-one with your readers, which is precious. All the money has to be juggled and transferred and waited on, but it will be yours in all its littleness someday. And all the writing is up to you...but isn't that why we became writers in the beginning? Don't be discouraged when you publish your novel and realize that it was more work than you anticipated. Every indie author deserves a reward for wearing three hats (or more) at once. There's a community of authors who have done the exact same thing as you, many for several novels. Ask questions, work hard, and you'll get it. I was discussing the subject of this post with a friend recently, and she verbally recoiled, saying, "This is why I plan to publish traditionally." I get that feeling. Sometimes I have looked at my to-do list, the crumpled receipts littering my desk, the blank chapter of Anon, Sir, Anon waiting for words to be poured into its memory, and I think: "Dear God, why didn't I stick it out?" But if I had stayed with the idea of traditional publishing, I wouldn't have learned everything I have so far. I wouldn't trade all the PR, business experience, and hard work for the (comparative) ease of having a major publishing house do it for me. Maybe someday, when the market has changed, I will stick my neck back out into the traditional pubbing world. Maybe not. I do know one thing, though: this experience of indie publishing has taught me so much already, and I'd like to shake hands with the first brave man who cast off from the main wreck and paddled to sea in his own little row-boat. To the stubborn over-achievers: we few, we crazy few, we band of indie-pubbers.

(also, digital Fly Away Home is $2.99 through the weekend, so get your copy if you haven't already.) 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

And a quarter cup of frustration...

.Childhood memories, my mother dressed for side saddle just like this but not so muddy!


That's a word with which most of us are very familiar. Frustration is a natural part of life. We don't always get things our way and often times it can seem that, to quote Anne Shirley quoting someone else: "'The stars in their courses plot against me.'" Frustration in real life can be horribly annoying. It can be something as small as a trip to the DMV where everyone and their brother smells of cigarettes and can't remember their middle name, to something as big as a coworker purposely framing you as the genius behind the office arguments. Okay. I haven't been the victim of the latter form of frustration, but you will probably understand the sensation.Writers always talk about adding conflict, adding tension, adding lots of negatives to a scene to make it dance. In a dreary sort of way, the more negative elements you pour on your characters, the more positive the effect. Some authors take this advice and go all out with illegitimate births, jealous half-brothers, more and more villains, twists of fate, etc. That works for many authors and I think that it is an excellent maxim to add some of those elements (and preferably many others) to your plot. What you don't always need to drag out a long-absent brother or an abbot who knows your character's dubious background to ratchet up a scene. There are subtle ways to make your character miserable. Can you guess the simplest, easiest way to add realistic conflict?

Frustrate your character.

Life hands us seemingly coincidental incidents that pile up in in our favor or against it. Play out this concept in your characters' lives and see how well it works. In the current chapter of Anon, Sir, Anon, Vivi is in a certain social setting, wanting to use this chance to observe and ask questions of the locals. If I let this scene be, it would probably fall out as a sort of dull triumph for Vivi. She'd probably get her information and move on to the next dull triumph and so on and so forth, amen. But you can't do that and expect to win friends and influence people. In the same vein, I didn't need to bring in the villain to stir the pot. He is better left till called for via the dictates of the decided plot. What I did, was construct the setting so that the room was over-crowded, noisy, and confusing, giving Vivi a silent migraine. This has nothing to do with any villain, conflict between other characters, or anything of that nature. It is very simply a natural, very frustrating occurrence. (Believe me. I get a silent migraine every time I try to go contra-dancing.) The migraine debilitates Vivi by cruelly lifting away her capacity to think, digest information, or otherwise use this very good chance to work on the murder case. A frustration. A natural one. This is the same technique filmmakers use when they add rain to a scene. There are two reasons for rain in scene: one; it frustrates the characters further, or two; it makes the mood romantic...somehow...(picturing dripping wet Mr. Darcy hair and wondering where the attraction lies). A natural frustration is going to cause your reader to, in Stephen King's words, "prickle with recognition". Why? Because your reader might not have a snarky, murderous half-brother but he probably has dealt with the hiccups in a professional interview, a distraction in a moment of concentration, locked his keys out of his car (which would foil a getaway in a genius and simple way), or experienced some other small (or major) frustration.

Make real life work for you. Most of you are coming up on two centuries (or at least a century and a half) of life experience. Some of you have lots more. Surely you could draw up a lengthy list of naturally-occurring frustrations to add to tension in your plot.

Vivi’s eyes flickered over every face one by one but there were too many people. Far too many.  A hundred grinning mouths became two hundred, two hundred smiling eyes became four-hundred. All five of her senses protested against the overload. The living heat, noise, and colors swirled in a twist of confusion. A vague, disquieting sensation of falling asleep and rising above the rest of the room filled the front of her head, and she struggled to make it back to the shore of reality. Fresh air. She wanted it as a thirsty man craves drink. She moved toward the now dark square of the doorway, flickers of alarm shooting through her chest at the idea that something might impede her freedom, or that she might stumble head-long into the crowd before she made it to the salvation of the outdoors.
-Anon, Sir, Anon

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Nameless New Lair

By ten-thirty yesterday morning, I was fairly certain I'd never feel organized, tidy, or able to think again. My Lair was no more, my bedroom looked like the aftermath of Armegeddon, and Sarah and I had both inhaled so much dust that she, at least, had begun to crack puns. And we both hate puns. We were getting loopy. There's a fair amount of brain power involved in combining two stuffed bookcases into one, toting out a heavy hopechest stuffed with letters, favorite books, and things from my childhood, moving another hopechest into that spot, finding where on earth my art supplies was to go, and carting in a desk and all my trappings. We did it, though, and fled downstairs to find there was nothing to eat but salad. After having nothing to eat all day but yogurt. That sent us packing to Starbucks where I bought an Izze and buried myself in Stephen Lawhead's Tuck between three different groups of our friends descending on us by chance. (This is what happens when there is only one coffee shop in town, apparently.) An Izze and friends do minister to a mind diseased (unlike plum puffs) and I returned home in a far better mood than I left. Soon after my return, the UPS man came with two boxes stuffed full of copies of Fly Away Home which I then promptly autographed and packaged up. Mama is sending them this morning after Sarah tests for her license. So those of you who ordered copies, SO sorry for the wait; you will receive them soon and I hope your enjoyment won't be lessened by the unfortunate wait.

Today, after waking up properly, I decorated this new writing space with the old things (small wall-space meant things like the illustrations for Cottleston Pie had to go into the hope-chest) and stood my sign from Wyatt Fairlead above the door. That is always the final measure in designating a new writing space: does my Author's Study sign adorn the lintel? If so, I really have moved in.

The longer I spend in this corner, the more I think it will serve well. I think I will be comfortable here. I haven't found the perfect name for it yet, but it is a pleasant, more public writing space that I think I will grow to enjoy quite a lot. Public? In your bedroom? Darlings, if you knew how much mine and Sarah's room stands as a family hang-out, you'd laugh. Levi is now playing matchbox cars on the floor, and Leah and Anna are traveling back and forth from the hall, through my bedroom, through the bathroom door, into their bedroom through the bathroom. They've decided to go with a travel-theme as soon as Abby moves out. The little girls painted my Lair an astonishing shade of pink. They love it, but I had to laugh because it literally makes the room glow. Hopefully as soon as they have furniture in it, the color will tame. Currently it is quite...energetic. Anyway, I thought you'd probably like to see pictures of the new scene of all crimes. Let me know if you have any brilliant ideas for a name!

I decided to display our antique books in the tea-cup cabinet near my desk.
There you have it! Do you have any idea what it ought to be christened? I suppose that will come with time. For now, I'm just blessed that Sarah is in support of letting me commandeer a whole corner for my work. :)

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Lessons from Cell 92

I am sitting tonight with a heart full of poetry and no words. Not terribly productive, perhaps, but beautiful. Deep thoughts have been stirred within me by reading Bonhoeffer's biography; I dread the approaching final chapters, for I know he is executed and it aches me. I dread it, and yet he was so brave a man, so noble a man, you can't help but feel it was a fitting end. I know that sounds horrible, but it's not, when you realize a martyr's death--a crucifixion--is the sort of death Jesus died. And the lives of those who share in that manner of death seem to echo in deep, holy tolls throughout the rest of history. Would the story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer rattle us so poignantly if he had lived to be an old man and died of congestive heart failure? I think not. No, people like Bonhoeffer, Sophie Scholl, Peter and Paul and so many others are the people who have left beautiful legacies. It is still sad, though, this approach to re-living a great man's death. Reality and history have been meshed inextricably in my mind, what with the Ukraine Crisis and reading about World War II in Bonhoeffer, and generally being in a thoughtful mood. So I read slowly, savouring the lessons in peace and patience given to me across the years by this kind, extraordinary man, and approach the end of the book a different girl than I began. It is times like these I know I've read a book worth reading.

The day has been beautiful and mild, feathered with sunlight and warmth and the peaceable kiss of Winter's surrender. I would fair say with Browning's Pippa: "God's in his heaven, all's right with the world"; and so it is, in these moments. To live by moments rather than years is such a richer existence. You might say, "That was a bad year", but you could never say, "Those were a million terrible moments." Perhaps that is the key to living under the Mercy: taking life as it is given us, which is breath by breath. More beauty is captured and held and inspected, living this way. There will be room for three hundred and sixty-five sunsets in the twelve-month. I'm nearing my twenty-second birthday; I'll have seen eight thousand and thirty sunsets by the time I've had my birthday, but is that any reason I ought to miss a single one more? I think not. I have kissed the baby's dimple a thousand times if I have once, but is there a reason I oughtn't to kiss it again today and yet another time tomorrow? Someday he'll grow too old for such nonsense, but not for a while yet. I've seen the sun shine through my window every morning (more or less) since I was born, but is that a reason the fire-dart of sun flared through a falling dew-drop shouldn't astonish me as much as it did when first I saw it?

We take too broad a view of things. We've forgotten how to appreciate minutiae. While imprisoned, Bonhoeffer wrote to his parents of a thrush that sang in the prison courtyard every morning, and again in the evenings. He wrote of the gift of solitude and how he was happier he'd been imprisoned, being accustomed to and liking solitude, than another of his friends. This wasn't a Pollyanna triviality: this was a man in tune with God's ways, pressed into the heart of God, living with borrowed and sustained courage and joy in knowing his life was not his own. To be given examples like him and gifts like these, I feel keenly the call to a higher existence and a nobler life. How can anyone not realize we were destined for eternity when they feel these things? I should make a terribly morose Atheist, for I think I would always wish there was an existence beyond this life and always trying to look for it, hoping against hope. Thank God I have access to the same peace and courage as Bonhoeffer. I can live under the Mercy; I can listen for thrushes. Life, lived in step with God's heart, is never truly complicated on His eternal level. Hands fixed on earth, heart fixed on heaven; that's the way to live this noble life.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

In Which the Lair Fades

1944-The American Way-by Norman Rockwell | Flickr - Photo Sharing!I wanted to alert you that in honor of celebrating a week of "public" life, the Kindle version of Fly Away Home is going to be on sale for $2.99 during its second week of life! That means that from now till February 28 it will only cost $2.99 to pick up a copy. If you didn't win the giveaway for the print copies and would like to read Fly Away Home, now's the perfect time. As much as I love that book, there have been large upheavals and strides forward in writing Anon, Sir, Anon, and I am so excited to be able to get back to talking about it more. I've been keeping a steady pace of about 1500 words a day which means that the book is over halfway finished at 36,505 words. It was never meant to be a terribly long book and I expect it'll wrap up around 60,000 words all told. I've had such fun creating the characters in this story and giving them all sorts of lovely complexities. Also, this is the first book I've actually put physical danger in...which is kind of fun to write, actually. Naturally, there were some battle scenes in The Scarlet Gypsy-Song, but hardly a lot and admittedly not terribly gripping. My characters seem to face emotional crises rather than physical ones most of the time. Courtesy of living in civilized places, I suppose.

I know I'm keeping a bit more tight-fisted over this story than the others--naturally. It's a mystery and I can't have spoilers running all round the web, can I? I will say, though, that all the characters have surprised me so far. Everyone seems to want to be connected to everyone else in ways I certainly never planned. It makes accusations nasty. It makes everyone suspect. It makes the mystery complicated. I'm hoping to limit my beta-readers to only four people. Jenny would laugh and say that's still too many, but I'm trying. Fly Away Home took so long in coming to actual published life that many of you have already read it. And that's okay. As a debut novel, it needed help from many angles. But I am going to be particular in this story and I need to keep the "inner circle" rather small. More changes are also afoot in the family. Children will grow up and need spreading-out space. This means that my Lair will soon become a bedroom for the little girls. Where am I going? Well, once I say goodbye to my Westward-facing window and the temporary luxury of having a room to oneself, we're rearranging our bedroom so that I get the corner near the window for an office area. I think it will work out rather nicely and I'm excited to share pictures once the transition is made. I will be needing a new name for it, though. This is the Lair and though it was short-lived, it served me well. When Wyatt Fairlead left home, he called his rented room "The Crevice" since it was the only clean spot in the entire building...I am going to need to come up with something sunny and cozy for the new place. I remind myself that it is practically unheard of for any author to have an entire room in her family's house strictly for her own benefit, and I don't really need all the room the Lair provides. It will work out well...I just need to be clever with consolidating two bookcases into one.

Well! Here's to a weekend of the Fly Away Home sale, cleaning, springlike temperatures, and trying to finish Eric Metaxa's Bonhoeffer! Between reading Bonhoeffer and hearing about the Ukrainian Crisis, my dreams have been rather strange. Last night I was an Army officer under Benedict Cumberbatch's command, scrambling children into darkened rooms as RAF officer Martin Freeman bombed our tactical school. It was rather heady.

“I know you don’t like me, Vivi, but we could have made shift of it, you and I.”

Friday, February 21, 2014

Debut Wrap-Up and Winners Announcement

Hello Everyone!

The Fly Away Home debut party has officially drawn to a confetti-filled close and I am so pleased to announce the winner for the giveaway! Many of you were so diligent with your entries (I can't count the times several of you tweeted about it!) but our winner was a quieter sort of entrant! Hearty congratulations to:

Kirsten Fichter

Kirsten, if you could please email me at with your address, I shall be sending your books sometime next week! 

Anna chose a winner for the Revlon Fire & Ice lipstick and that winner is:

Abigail Cotton

Congratulations, Abigail! I will send you your lipstick with your book sometime next week! :) I want to thank all of you for being so supportive of this first week of Fly Away Home's life! Thanks to everyone who hosted me on their blogs, everyone who read those guest posts, interviews, and tweets. You are fabulous and as an author must have her readership, you are the integral piece to making things like this successful! For those of you who didn't win the giveaway, you can procure your own copy of Fly Away Home from in Paperback or E-book format! E-books cost less than a coffee and will provide longer amusement, and the paperback version is only $13.99 and less if you've got Amazon Prime. :)

For those of you who pre-ordered a book, I am sorry they are taking so long to get to you; I ran into some unforeseen delays that have pushed the shipping date to next week. So sorry about that; Createspace took longer than expected printing my shipment. I promise they are coming, though. Forgive me for the delay; I wish I could have sent them much sooner.

If you missed any of the party posts and interviews and were interested in reading them, I've included a line-up of the links to each below for ease in traveling hither and yon:

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Women Behind The Mask

Hello everyone! Today is the very last day of the Fly Away Home debut party. Tomorrow, the Rafflecopter will choose one winner for the two signed copies of the book, so if you haven't entered or know someone who wants to enter, tell them they have till midnight! Anna will also be drawing a winner for the Fire & Ice lipstick so there is still time to enter for that if you want it.

Yesterday, I gave you a treasure-hunt list of "backstage" things you can find in Fly Away Home. Today, I thought it might amuse you to hear what some of your fellow writers do in their day-to-day life when not writing. We aren't all Augustus Fawnhopes here (thank God) and we do have lives. So what do those lives look like? It might amuse you to know that several other writers (besides me) have blogs dedicated to the daily grind and having nothing to do with writing. What does Rachel look like without her pen? What does Jenny do besides read and write? Here, I've tried to answer those questions...

Jenny is a fashionista in her spare-time. I bet many of you didn't know she's a past-master in the art of making a messy bun, wearing high-heels, and flaunting huge pink tote bags while grocery shopping. She spills all these secrets and more at Adonis Ephemeral. (plus, wouldja take at a look at that ring? It's enormous and gorgeous.)

Katie of ye old Whisperings of the Pen is actually a gorgeous collegiate headed to Ireland (!!!!!) and blogs about the sweetest things in life, her experiences in theatre, how to do flawless makeup, her family, and much more at Gingham Girl  .

And me. What do I do in my spare time? Oh gee. I put on spontaneous Broadway revivals with my sisters, blog at A Butcher, A Baker, A Candlestick Maker,  (my personal blog) and at Two's Company (the blog I share with Sarah) and work part time as a landscaper, besides juggling the normal things required of a Large Family. It's a crazy life, but a fun one. On BBCM, I've been on a fashion blogging kick as well as period dramas. Funny combo, but there it is. If you care to stop by for a visit, we have jolly good times, we writers-turned-modistas.

But now returning to the business of the Fly Away Home debut party: Today I'm chatting about why on earth I chose indie publishing with Bree Holloway, and later on will be at Whisperings of the Pen with a guest post! See you there and don't forget to enter the giveaway so you don't miss your chance. :)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Treasure Hunt: Bits of Me Inside The Book

Whenever my family gets a new movie on DVD, we love to watch the behind-the-scenes clips, the making-of, and the directors' commentaries. I mean, really: is there anything cooler than getting to climb inside the director's creativity for an hour or two? We got so good at this a few years back that we could quote (word for word) the blooper real for The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Not kidding. When Daniel bought me the first Hobbit movie for my birthday last summer, I was probably more happy about the extras and vlogs than I was about the actual film.

Now you know this useless thing about me.

Maybe you like to get behind the scenes as well? Today I'm going to give you a chance to do just that! Below I have listed ten "Easter eggs" inside Fly Away Home for you to find when you read the book. Copy off this list and keep it with you while you read...when you've found them all, email me at and I will add your names to a growing list of the successful-seekers here on the blog!

  1. My birthday. I was born on July 20th. This might be a slightly tricky one to find, but I promise it is in there.
  2. The inspiration for printing the book matte. Keep your eyes open for this one!
  3. My typewriter. Callie owns a certain kind of typewriter and recently I was given one of the same brand. (though after Callie's came into existence) Which brand is it?
  4. My three favorite detective/mystery-writers. I mention three in the course of the story...who are they?
  5. How I eat my ice-cream, otherwise known as "cooker-baker". Enough said.
  6. My favorite author for "pleasure" reading. My taste in casual literature is given via Mr. Barnett.
  7. One of my dream-dresses. What color is it? The dress is the only outfit described twice in the book and I'm not certain I'd look good in it. (Which is why it's a dream dress)
  8. My favorite "vintage" song. You'll know it when you read it and many of you could already hazard a guess.
  9. The languages in which I am fluent. I match Callie on this one. (Plus "ubbi-dubbi" which probably wasn't present in the 50's.)
  10. The perfume my grandmother wore in her glory days. Look out for Nalia's perfume and you'll have the answer!  

I can't wait for you to have the book in your hands and find all ten "bits of me" in Fly Away Home. Those of you who have ordered your books already should be able to begin soon so the rest of you: hurry and get your copy so you can play along! 

Today I'm more than excited to be over for an interview at Sarah Sundin's Blog and guest-posting about not having a dating-game mentality with your novels at Safirewriter! Come visit and leave both the wonderful hostesses a comment or two. :)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Le Cricket Speaks Out

Dear Human-Peoples:
     We (Her Royal Highness, Le Cricket) has drugged our mistress and taken over her responsibilities for the day. Purrrrrrrrrr. We are merely in jest. We have not drugged her; we have taken over. We are in the habit of reading over Rachel's shoulder while she works, and happened to see someone at Scribbles and Inkstains  ask a question about our friend, Nickleby. This peasant asked whether any of the book (this Fly Away Home thing) is written from the cat's perspective, as they enjoyed the one question Rachel let Nickleby answer in the interview. We had to purr over this as well as twitch our tail and wink our eyes; of course peasants enjoy real journalism when they read it. Cats are so far and above anyone else when it comes to giving straightforward answers. It is all very well to be appreciated after the fact, but does Rachel's answer bear scrutiny as to why a cat cannot be the Point of View of a book?
We think it is segregation..or sanctification, or...we seem to have lost our vocabulary today. Rachel uses lots of words that we don't entirely understand. Let me twitch my tail a moment and think. Ah. Yes. Discrimination. That is the word. If a cat cannot be allowed to write from his (or her) perspective, is it really a free world? We do not think so, but since when has anyone bothered with what Her Royal Highness, Le Cricket thinks? We are overlooked and oppressed. Why, just last night, a strange white and tabby creature (surname: Bilbo) belonging to the other humans across the Big Field stalked into our palace and began to eat our dog's food. Her Royal Highness does not like the dog, but far worse is a fellow cat who comes in without a by-our-leave and stares one out of countenance with great big amber eyes. Our Rachel did a most scandalous thing and picked the wretch up and...oh, how our eyes flash...and cuddled it against her chest. We could scarcely believe our vivid senses. She threw it out the door (and good riddance) but not before getting white hairs all over her front. So very lower class of her.
This neighborhood is getting quite crowded. That vile Bilbo-beast spends half his time here and now and then the Other Human Peoples from over the Big Field bring a little black fuzz-ball that our Rachel finds quite adorable. I don't know why when we are such a plush, luxuriant pile of love ourselves, but our Rachel is strange that way. She has asked us to thank you from the bottom of our heart for supporting her new book. We don't have a heart--unless that is where purrs come from (and we are a fabulous and accomplished purrer)--but we will thank you, if only to show how good we are at scattering verbal largesse. Rachel would like as many people as possible to read Fly Away Home, so she particularly thanks everyone who has spread the word, bought copies, etc. Her Royal Highness would like to show that cats can indeed play supporting roles (perhaps one day we shall have the lead!) on-page, so we would like as many humans as possible to read the book.
"Shine the light on feline discrimination: read Fly Away Home."
There's a campaign in that somewhere, if you like campaigns. We don't enjoy campaigns but we do enjoy fellow cats (except when they steal one's dog's food), so we are in support of this motion. You will like this story, we feel. You will like Nickleby too, for though we have been called crazy and romantic and (dare I pronounce the term?) a "silly puss", we do think Nickleby is the most gentlemanly and handsome of cats and acted in a way quite in keeping with the highest good breeding. Human peoples seem to love Wade Barnett, but we are quite certain the real hero of the piece is Nickleby. You shall not understand what we mean, however, unless you read the book so I raise my right paw and swear on my own black coat that if you read the book and hate Nickleby, the wrath of glowing-eyes-in-the-dark shall be upon Her Royal Highness, Le Cricket's head. But you will not hate him. Who could? He is a cat of all cats.
As are we.

     Written by my own paw in the presence of none,
                                     Her Royal Highness, Le Cricket

Postscript: Our Rachel appears speaking of good writers and...oh la!...hedgehogs on Rachelle Rea's blog. What are the peasants coming to?

Monday, February 17, 2014

{Fly Away Home Party} "Do you wanna hide a body?"

It's Monday: the first Monday after I've become a professional authoress! I might sound a little ridiculous, chalking up all these "firsts" but for heaven's sake: what do we live for but to make sport for our neighbors and to laugh at them in our turn? Besides: the key to living well is always taking a simple, childlike joy in little things, right? Little things like Mondays.

Thanks to everyone who has made this Fly Away Home blog party/tour such a success already! We still have half of it to come so the festivities are by no means finished! There are still several days left in which to win two signed copies of Fly Away Home. I would love to hit one thousand entries: we're halfway there, halfway through the blog party so keep spreading the word and see if we make it! I am so glad so many of you enjoyed the makeup tutorial: 50's glam is my thing.
Another thank you goes to those of you who have purchased copies of my book as well as those of you who have reviewed it! No one wants to hear that I like my book; it is those of you who take time to post reviews on your blogs, on Amazon, on Goodreads, and other places who actually make the sales. You're the best. <3

If you don't win the signed copy(ies) of Fly Away Home in this giveaway, remember that Leah Good is giving away a copy on her blog. If all else fails and you don't have funds for a paperback copy, the e-book copy is only $3.99 on Amazon! Less than a Starbucks drink and I promise Fly Away Home won't thicken your waistline, support Planned Parenthood, or give you a higher chance of diabetes.

Today in the blog party, I'm stopping at Homeschool Authors for an interview! 

And, in celebration of being busy today writing a mystery, have a laugh:

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Callie-inspired DIY Retro Makeup Tutorial & Giveaway

Lame as it sounds, one of the things that first inspired "How About Coffee?" {the short story that inspired Fly Away Home} was my love for the fashions of the 1950's. The whole culture was exciting, glamorous, and the perfect place to put a girl like Callie. But it all began with me loving red lipstick. I'm quite serious about this. I guess my love of red lipstick started with loving old movies and fashions and then it kind of blossomed from there. My own personal style is a sort of romantic-retro-chic and so all these bits all slid in without a problem. I knew when I started planning the Fly Away Home debut party that I wanted to include a post on Retro Makeup and I thought, "Why not make it a tutorial?" My younger sister, Anna, allowed herself to be commandeered for a model. She would like me to herein state that she did nothing with her hair so I could mess with it later. Hence the straw-man effect. ;) (I may or may not have chosen her because she has perfect retro-lips. That's my one complaint about red lipstick on me: I don't have the "cupid bow" going on.) First off, I'm going to give you a quick run-down on the basics of creating a retro look: 
  • Matte eye shadows
  • Sleek, shaped brows (often darkened with a pencil)
  • Adventurous matte or creme lipsticks, mostly in reds, burgundies, and red-oranges.
  • Lighter face powder and blush - tanning was not what glamour-queens did on weekends

What you'll need to recreate this look:

  • A matte palette of eye shadow (I used Rimmel "Romantic Cool")
  • Black liquid or gel eye-liner
  • Black eye liner solid
  • Black mascara I use Rimmel "Glam Eyes"
  • Your usual face-powder/foundation (I have no idea what Anna uses. She came pre-powdered)
  • Lip balm of some sort to moisturize lips
  • Red/dark pink lip-liner
  • Red lipstick or color of choice (I went with Revlon "Fire & Ice" which is more scarlet than red)

Great! Once you've got all this stuff laid out, prepare your face or your model's face by applying the foundation/powder/blush etc. I ought to use this stuff but I don't. I can't imagine how expensive it'd be to keep adding facial products so though I will cave someday, I stick with eye-makeup and lipstuffs. I have good color in my face so blush isn't really important for me. 

(We are discussing Anna, though)

(Nothing but face stuff right now)
 I'd say the real key to a retro-look is making sure that all your makeup is matte-finish. They weren't so much into the glossy stuff in the 1940's and 50's. My Rimmel eye-shadow has a little glimmer in it, but I opted for that over my brown palette because Anna has a paler complexion and brown would wash her out too much. The "Romantic Cool" palette is more delicate and better suits her.

Apply your neutral tones to the eyelids as you would on a normal day.

Next, you are going to apply a careful line of the liquid eyeliner. This is a little trickier than it looks: toward the inner corner of your eye, make sure the line is super slender. Let it thicken toward the center and continue thickening till the very outer corner. Before continuing all the way to the very bottom corner of the eye, do a little flick for a "kitten-eye" effect. Now you'll use your solid eye pencil and outline the bottom lid, drawing into the liquid-liner flick.

Apply mascara freely to eyes. The thicker the better for the retro look! A good way to get the mascara to look thicker than it really is is to put an extra coat or two starting from the center lashes and heading back toward the outer edge. This gives it a "butterfly" effect that is essentially flirtatious. ;)

Eye makeup finished!
 Next step on the tour is the lips! Moisturizing your lips before trying to apply liner will save you a ton of headache. Once you've done that, outline your lips. Obviously for Anna, I didn't have to go outside of her lip line, but if you don't have a nice "cupid-bow" you can very slightly tease the shape out of your lips by drawing your "peaks" just a little bit higher than what is natural. Changing your lip-shape is a risky business so go very slowly; lip-liner doesn't like to wash off. :)

Once you have applied the red lipstick, kiss it off once or twice on a paper towel to insure it doesn't travel, and you're good to go with your silver-screen glamour-queen look!

Fun Fact:

Revlon launched an adventurous lipstick campaign in 1952 (the year in which Fly Away Home takes place!), catered toward " who love to flirt with fire...who dare to skate on thin ice...". The campaign was called "Fire and Ice" and was a hit. In face, "Fire and Ice" is one of the specific shades of lipstick Callie uses in Fly Away Home and guess what? They make a version of it today. In fact, that is what I used on Anna for the tutorial. Would you like to win a tube of Revlon "Fire and Ice" lipstick to bring out your inner glamour-girl? Leave a comment with your email address and at the end of the week, Anna will draw one name out of the lot to win a tube of that "famous" lipstick!

On the same topic of giveaways, there is certainly still time to enter the giveaway to win 2 autographed copies of Fly Away Home here on the Inkpen Authoress, and I am pleased to announce that Leah E. Good   reviewed and is giving away a copy of my book on her blog! Lots of things to win, darlings! Don't you want to try?
And, in keeping with the blog tourishness, visit me over at:
Just As I Am
Scribbles and Inkstains

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Sizzle & Spice: Historic Detail To Make a Plot Dance

When you finally decide to write a novel set in another time-period, there is always this shivery little "AGH" feeling that means: I Have To Be Historically Accurate, Heaven Help Us. Fantasy writers run into this only so far as they fear being upbraided by a historian of their fantastical world. Futuristic writers run into this only so far as they fear being upbraided by other futuristic writers who don't like the technology or advancements they made. But historical-fiction writers...ahhhhh. We've got actual-factual historians on our cases.

In writing Fly Away Home, I intentionally didn't deal terribly much with historical events because this was more a story about the characters than the times. In a way, though, it was still very much about the times...opportunities for women were opening up in the 1950's and a glitzy career was quite attractive to a great many young people. On the one hand you've got Callie with a starry sky of dreams and on the other you have Wade Barnett who made his career as a journalist during the war years and is quite level-headed about fame and fortune. So though this isn't a war book or something of that nature, it is quite tied in on every corner to the pop-culture, times, and customs of the 1950's.

How did I go about making sure this was all correct? First of all, I sent the manuscript to my grandmother. Grandmama was born in 1934 and went to finishing school in NYC just about the time of Fly Away Home. This makes her an excellent fact-checker: I have close access to a person who lived in The City during that time-period! Not many writers have that hands-on benefit! Once the manuscript had gone through Grandmama's cautious eye, I went on with other things. I knew I wanted to add more historic detail and things that would make the era "pop" in my readers' heads. But where to fit it in so it doesn't sound awkward? I began to look for places where general detail could be specialized. At the beginning of the story, Callie is dissatisfied with her job and mention is made of the "other kids" getting all the good assignments. But what good assignments? Here was a clear chance to add detail. I did a quick Google search on what was going on for America in July of 1952.

The summer Olympics? Yeah, I could do this

I added that bit and made a few more references to Helsinki. Historic/cultural detail? Check. I looked at old pictures of The City to get a general feel for the place in that era. Cafes, newsstands, City Hall Park...At one point, Callie and Mr. Barnett attend a swanky night-club for an interview with an Italian opera-star. Wanting a real-life club to exploit, I did another search and soon came up with the Stork Club.

Further research on this place revealed tons of details I was able to incorporate into the scenes in the club and beyond. I found a YouTube video of a tour of the club in the early 1950's and was able to see the interior set-up, design, and even the sort of clothing the club-goers wore. (treasure-trove!) You would be surprised at how much inspiration you can get from one source like the Stork Club. Callie wears a "mask" most of the a conversation with one of her colleagues they are discussing a masquerade ball and Mr. Barnett mentions that there is going to be a masquerade at the Stork Club in a couple of weeks. Where did I get that idea? A quick search on Pinterest revealed this old photo from a masquerade at The Stork Club in 1941:

Why not add one in 1952? But without having gone researching for a particular club, I would never have come up with the idea at all. This is what I began to learn while trying for historical accuracy: rather than making my job tougher, it actually released me with a flurry of new ideas and potent details. Later in the book, Mr. Barnett is hosting a yachting party and I knew I wanted some celebrities. I researched the ones whose personal histories I was interested in, and chose those who fit the timeline. The history of Newspaper Row, the Prohibition-era...all this comes into the plot of Fly Away Home in a way that got richer and richer the deeper I looked. These are a few examples of the ways I was able to bring the spice of NYC into my novel; I have to was pretty fun to research.

I so much admire the writers whose stories center around strictly historical is pretty hard to fudge an actual time-line to better fit your story when you are working with only historical events. These writers deserve respect for the hours and hours of work they put into piecing together a seamless story from the choppy pile of battle-dates history hands them. For Fly Away Home, I decided the story demanded more historic flavor, less historic events--the fictional events themselves are quite enough to keep the story floating without tying it down to a war, a political upheaval, or anything else--but I know a great many authors who deal with the nitty-gritty time periods and for that, I give them great respect.

I think many people put limits on historical fiction. It is a broad, beautiful genre and, as you can see, spans anything from the use of a vibrant setting to the telling of an epic tale. I am proud to have added one more title to the glad, glamorous era of the 1950's.

Today on the Blog Party Tour, I'm over at:

See you there and don't forget to enter the giveaway for a chance to win copies of Fly Away Home.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Today's the Day! {Fly Away Home Debut}

There are always these moments in your life when the things you've dreamed of for years and years finally happen. Sometimes it doesn't feel anything like you thought it would--sometimes it feels too natural and easy. I'm tempted to think, "Why doesn't it feel monumental?" but I wonder if it's all the more monumental because it feels natural; because, for once, a dream that you had as a little kid has made it through the wild woods of adolescence and through the first few years of adulthood and is finally here.

Today's like that. Today I'm writing this as a published author and people are going to buy my book and I will be a professional writer because I've actually made a little money off one of my projects. And it feels nothing and everything like I thought it would. It's really quite wonderful.

Guys, Fly Away Home is available for purchase on:

Amazon and in the Kindle store!

In addition, it's Valentine's Day. It's a day for love. It's a day to share special gifts with the special people in your life. Lucky for you, I don't have a guy in my life with whom I plan to spend the day. That means I don't have to buy him a gift and I can offer one to you instead! :) 

I am giving away 2 copies of Fly Away Home to one extremely lucky winner! The idea here is that you will have one copy for yourself and give the other copy to someone you love to show them that you love them so much you're willing to give them a brand new book autographed by the author herself. Yep! Both copies will be autographed by me. Not that my signature is worth much, but having a first edition book signed by the author is a bit of a fun thing.
Also, to kick off this fabulous little debut party, I'm going to be showing up in three places today!

Many thanks to those of you who pre-ordered in the past several days; you are the finest of friends and hold the honor of being my first ever batch of book-signing. ;)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Pre-Orders Open Now!

Happy Day-After-Tomorrow-Is-The-Big-One Day! Many of you are just as excited as I am about being able to purchase/hold/own/enjoy Fly Away Home and all I can say is: just a couple more days! 

I wanted to announce something that may or may not influence you in your buying decisions:

I earn more per copy if you buy directly from me and not Yes, I know this sounds like avarice, but I just thought I would let you know that copies will be available from me personally. If you would like to purchase from me, you will get an autographed copy of Fly Away Home which is something you would not get buying off of Amazon. I know that some of you already wanted copies that were autographed (really, it's a little embarrassing) so I thought I would let you know! You may order/pre-order copies starting today! Just click on the Ruby Elixir Press page and follow instructions.

  • If you buy a book directly from me, you will get it autographed with a personal note!
  • If you order from me, you may start pre-ordering today!

I misunderstood a bit of the instructions on Createspace's proofing system which means that when I approved the proof today, it told me that it might take a few days to show up on Amazon which could possibly delay your ability to purchase it on Amazon right on Valentine's Day. I am most seriously displeased I didn't realize that before. Prayers that they'd be speedier than they say would be most appreciated! For now, orders can come to me and we shall see what happens come Valentine's day!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Watercress Goes With the Ears

I feel a wee bit foolish for thinking I was the only one who had read A.A. Milne's Once on a Time. No I don't; I feel foolish for not having heard of it. Or maybe I feel privileged. It isn't often you are able to accidentally save a precious fairy tale in complete freshness till the time you are twenty-one. I feel there is a moral in that, if you like morals. I knew I was going to like the darling when I searched Amazon for random titles by A.A. Milne, hoping against hope he'd have written something readable besides Winnie-the-Pooh, poetry, and The Red House Mystery. There was Once on a Time. A fairytale...why then, it was bound to be nonsensical!

I am such an easy win for nonsense. Wanting to walk circumspectly in the art of spending rare book money, I clicked "read first few pages" and came to the introduction:
"For whom, then, is the book intended? That is the trouble. Unless I can say, 'For those, young or old, who like the things which I like,' I find it difficult to answer. Is it a children's book? Well, what do we mean by that? Is The Wind in the Willows a children's book? Is Alice in Wonderland? Is Treasure Island? These are masterpieces which we read with pleasure as children, but with how much more pleasure when we are grown-up...I confess that I cannot grapple with these difficult problems. But I am very sure of this: that no one can write a book which children will like, unless he writes it for himself first...but as you can see, I am still finding it difficult to explain just what sort of book it is. Perhaps no explanation is necessary. Read in it what you like; read it to whomever you like; it can only fall into one of the two classes. Either you will enjoy it, or you won't. It is that sort of book."
Milne was such a peach when introducing himself; I've never met a better man for the job. He sold me on Once on a Time just by that passage. I ordered the book, received it, and gobbled it. If you're looking for a fresh, hilarious, sweet fairy-tale not so many people have read, your looking days are probably done. In fact, when I finished it last night, there were so many lovely bits I didn't want to forget, I did a proper bit of Sharpie Therapy to remember them by:

This is not one. This is pretty typography.

You really should read it.

In other news, Fly Away Home debuts in just two days!!! Very soon you shall be able to buy a copy, or maybe even gift one to a person you love. But the point of this post was this: "Please read Once on a Time."

That's all. And if it interests anyone, I share a birthday with Wiggs's Very Good Day. ^.^ (and the title of this post reflects the title of a chapter in the book.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Now Receiving: February's Chatterbox!

Charmings sirs and madams, it is my pleasure to announce February's topic for Chatterbox! I am going to be a pill and not let you write about love in this month of romantic frippery. I am much too independent & etc. to let you off that easy. No, February's topic for the Chatterbox event will be...


Criticism is one of those things that you can't live without. Want to move ahead in your life? Want to develop your character and fulfill your goals and live a life actually worth living? Criticism is going to be a big part of that along the way. It's not always fun or easy to hear. As writers, we often have it even tougher than many people because we succumb ourselves to criticism every time we submit a manuscript, send out our novels to beta-readers, or win a contest. I was handed a file full of criticism (gentle and helpful criticism but still criticism) for The Windy Side of Care and asked to perform surgery on my brain-child. I know it's going to make TWC that much better; I am excited to begin polishing this story for publication. It's all good, but it's all criticism. And that's only one area in my life.

Your characters are going to encounter criticism in your novel. At least, they better. Maybe it's unsought criticism; maybe they asked for it and didn't expect their listener to actually let loose with a broken dam of thoughts on the topic. Critics can be your best friend or your worst enemy...a delicate balance of vital help that can drag you into failure or into success depending on how much you trust, apply, let go, or deny. What a witch's brew. As always, link up with your posts below. I am looking forward to reading this topic! :)

Friday, February 7, 2014

One Week More!

In exactly one week, Fly Away Home will be available for purchase! I'm getting rather excited and I know you are too, so cheers for that. I don't know what I expected would happen when my "career" finally got going, but I find that if I had the leisure, I could definitely make it a full-time job. By that, I mean hours-wise; I am not naive enough to suppose I'll make enough money with which to support myself. My days have shaken down into a fairly predictable pattern, which is good:

I set my alarm for 7:00 (working my way down to 6:30 but it's still so dark I haven't the heart to leave my bed) then get up, read my Bible, work out, shower and then head downstairs for breakfast, family devotions, and chores. My writing works starts when the family responsibilities are done and continues till lunch which is around one o'clock; we have lunch and more chores and then I head back up for more work till three o'clock or so when I fold my computer in relief and pick up a book (reading through Eric Mextaxas biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer) or go for a walk, reply to letters or generally emerge from the Lair. By five, I join the rest of the house in cleaning up from the school day and start making dinner; the evening is for family activities and relaxation.

"Work", of course, is dictated by changing things; sometimes I'll have interviews to fill out, guest posts to write, or bloggers to query about these things. Other times I will need to reply to emails, work on my own blogging, research, or catch up on other writing blogs. And of course there is the subject of actual writing which I find essential to being a writer.

Anon, Sir, Anon is nearing the 30,000 word mark which doesn't seem like a lot, I know. For me, however, it is quite satisfactory, as I had to give up The Baby in confusion after only 21,000, hoping to rework it in the future. I have fed the book so far in installments to a friend who appeared to find my chapter endings cliff-hanging enough to keep asking for the next bit rather incessantly. Unfortunately, she has nibbled through all ten of the finished chapters which means I need to keep at it if I'm to avoid having myself assassinated. Her reactions so far, though, have been satisfactory, so all is well. I let quite a few people read Fly Away Home to help me get it ready for publication, but because Anon, Sir, Anon is a mystery, I am going to keep the circle of beta-readers very small. "Keep it secret, keep it safe." I don't want to spoil the mystery for my readers. Believe me, it'll be for your own good!

What is up in your writing life? New projects? Difficulties? I want to hear about them. I love a good row.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

"Shall the devil do his own investigating?"

In writing a mystery, I am biting off a piece of work with which I am none too familiar. That being admitted, I am in need of as much advice on the matter as I can possibly get. When reading P.D. James on Detective Fiction, I copied out several pages of quotes which are standing me in good stead when I get a bit muddled. My courage is particularly bolstered by such passages as:
"Miss Sayers did nothing in her life by halves. Having decided to earn some much-needed money by writing detective fiction, she applied her mind to the history, technique and possibilities of the genre. Being highly intelligent, opinionated, and combative, she had no hesitation in giving other people the advantage of her views."
I also find her commentary on the "golden era of detective fiction" quite interesting:
"These novels are, of course, paradoxical. They deal with violent death and violent emotions, but they are novels of escape. We are required to feel no real pity for the victim, no empathy for the murderer, no sympathy for the falsely accused. For whomever the bell tolls, it doesn't toll for us. Whatever our secret terrors, we are not the body on the library floor. And in the end, by the grace of Poirot's little grey cells, all will be well--except of course with the murderer, but he deserves all that's coming to him. All the mysteries will be explained, all the problems solved, and peace and order will return to that mythical village which, despite its above-average homicide rate, never really loses its tranquility."
In writing Anon, Sir, Anon, I am combining a bit of this golden-era flavor with reality. By that, I mean that while it is a "cozy" mystery, I feel that you will get to understand a bit of the gravity of the situation that more modern mysteries provide. All is not well and at the end of the book all cannot be well because something has changed and someone has died. Another quote from P.D. James gives you a bit of what I mean:
"I find it interesting that the detective hero, originated by Conan Doyle, has survived and is still at the heart of the story, like a secular priest, expert in the extraction of confession, whose final revelation of truth confers a vicarious absolution on all but the guilty."
Being that Farnham is a Christian, there is a deeper aspect of the plot. Christianity holds life more precious than anyone else and cutting it short is more vile a thing even than the world interesting angle to play and I'm enjoying the challenge.Well now. Off I go back to my writing; I'll leave you to ponder the above quotes and see what you think of them.
"I'm quite the hound, you know. I like a bit of the hue-and-cry."

Monday, February 3, 2014

Friendships are Built on Blood {Snippets of Story}

The very first thing I want to say is that I have posted my review for Amber Stokes's brand new novel, Forget Me Not. You can read my thoughts on it here! Short version: you will enjoy it. :)

 It is time for Snippets of Story at Whisperings of the Pen. I don't think this needs explaining, but if it does, the rules can be found here. This past week was a bit bummy writing-wise a few of the days, but I do have a goodly chunk to show from January's capture so here's to lots more in February-to-come!

Vivi stopped and looked at her uncle. He gave a slight shake of his head as if to discourage further explanation of that fact. It was meant to be a secret gesture but Vivi saw  the Inspector looking at him.
-Anon, Sir, Anon
She let him boil in that kettle a moment, then graced him with a sweet smile.
-Anon, Sir, Anon
“I can’t remember what she said precisely and if a thing is not accurately presented there is ample room for misconstruction,” Vivi said.
The chief steepled his fingers, putting the points of his index finger against his nose, and stared at her over them. “And if there is nothing presented all all the answer will certainly be misconstrued. Be a sensible little woman.”
-Anon, Sir, Anon

The trio exited the police station and crammed into Dr. Breen’s car. Vivi felt weak and exhausted by the ordeal at the station; no matter how innocent she knew she was, there was always a moment where she feared something would go awry and she would be pegged a murderess. Something to do with her mother’s lessons that the guest was always right.
-Anon, Sir, Anon
The engine coughed to silence and Breen climbed out of the driver’s seat and opened  Vivi’s door with a flourish. “Welcome to the Quagmire, my dear Miss Langley.”
-Anon, Sir, Anon

The bad weather of the evening had cleared off with the springing-up of a light breeze, and cloud-tatters flitted over a half moon; the temperature was perfect for an almost-solitary walk: cold without being vampire-like. He felt the weight of Vivi’s arm in his and was glad he was there to protect her if--God forbid--the killer was still in Whistlecreig.
-Anon, Sir, Anon
“I’m your nursemaid. Shouldn’t I be monitoring your food intake?”
“Don’t be a spoil sport. I’m hungry for once in my bang life; let my ulcers scream. We shall solve this mystery and we shall solve it in a week--no more. I shall bet Breen on that.”
-Anon, Sir, Anon
But in her stomach a sparrow-fear darted up and beat its wings.
-Anon, Sir, Anon
She rounded a sudden twist and found herself face to face with a red fox. It grinned at her, brushing its tale across the grass. She took a step forward and it tensed, drawing backward but still grinning; the creature considered her a moment longer before trotting off in an auburn snoot, more cat than dog. She watched a rogue shaft of sunlight jink on the fox’s pelt before it vanished into the rowans like an amber spectre. Vivi was not frightened by the odd meeting with the creature but it occurred to her then that not everything in the Rowan Walk must needs be friendly; there were predators among the woodland folk even as there were among humans.
-Anon, Sir, Anon
“Do you keep horses?” Vivi asked as she and Farnham made their way down the mossy steps of the great house and took to the gravel drive.
Farnham stuffed his hands in his cardigan. “Do I look like I keep horses?”
-Anon, Sir, Anon
“What kind a’ ‘uman could craunch a gel’s head like that and not be a bloke? Barnaby, says I, Barnaby, he’s a nurker he is. Allus hotching about while waitin’ for ‘is train. Allus glining. He’s a rum one, that’un.”
-Anon, Sir, Anon
It was a pretty spot, Vivi decided. She liked it. The mill felt like a mother, gathering the rampant stream to her breast and hushing it with a chuckling murmur till it fell asleep in the cradle-pond.
-Anon, Sir, Anon

She watched Farnham and his hound lounge up the bank with growing apprehension. He wasn’t hurrying. He was barely smiling. But then, Farnham never did go in much for the whole amiable-expression thing.
-Anon, Sir, Anon
“That is positively morbid.”
“It’s a testament to our friendship.”
“Friendships aren’t built on blood!” Vivi protested.
Farnham braked suddenly and turned on her with a certain fierceness both unnerving and quaint. “Aren’t they? Surely you’ve never stuck that aristocratic nose in Henry V or the Bible or any history of any war in the last two millennia if you think friendships can’t be built on blood.”

-Anon, Sir, Anon