Monday, March 30, 2015

My story Monday

Dear Lovely Readers,
Thank you for reading my blog. I am still working through my story so I wanted to share it with you. However, I have decided I need to go back and do some correcting. I know grammar is not my biggest talent, but beyond that I need to make some historical corrections. Also the more I plot and write my story I have become less satisfied with my title. So I hope to get through these corrections and start sharing my story again. I do so love sharing it as it gives me inspiration to continue writing. 
Have a good day.

 Daphne and Mattie followed Parker up the back stair case from the kitchen to the third floor. Mattie was puzzled where they were going to find dresses for her and Daphne for Lady Welford only had one son. Amongst the splendor of Cranston Court Mattie began to feel the shabbiness of their attire even if they didn't have any mud stains on them. She felt certain that she would never fit into the grandness of a place in this and she felt certain that whatever she did would bring shame to Lady Welford, and she did not want to do that after all Lady Welford was already being so generous to them. Even Daphne who far outweighed Mattie in beauty looked a bit faded against the grandeur of Cranston. After passing through a long corridor that took them to the end of the house and into a wing that was barely touched, Parker stopped at a door.  
            He didn't open the door but spoke in hushed by very firm voice. "This was my sister, Aurora's room. I am sure my mother, Lady Welford, would like it to be left they way you found it. Get dressed quickly. Food will be in the nursery shortly."

            When Parker opened the room, the creamy pink color that covered the wall almost made it shine against the dark interior of the hall. The room was so dainty  and sweet with comforter, the curtains, and the pillow all matching in a cheery flower print. Mattie quickly noticed the little doll with curly brown ringlets sitting in a high chair in the corner with a bassinet in the middle of the room all the perfect size for the doll. And in the bassinet there was light pink blanket that matched the colors of the with the initials APW stitched on it. The one thing Mattie noticed the most was the lack of dust, which seemed astonishing for the corridor looked as if no one ever touched this part of the house. Everything though in this room looked as if it had been cleaned all the time. 

            "Mathilda! Don't touch anything," Daphne snapped at her as she was staring at the doll.
            For the story to be accurate it must be noted that even though no one was listening the girls spoke in a whisper as if someone was.

            "I wasn't, I was just looking. Don't you find it a bit curious that we have known the Welford family all our lives, at least Parker, and we have never heard of this Aurora Welford. I always thought Parker was an only child."

            "No Mattie, it was not curious at all. You only make things curious because you don't occupy your time with more important things. You read too many novels and it has affected your sensibilities. Now we have to find something to wear, we don't want to keep them waiting."

            Mattie didn't care what Daphne said she still found the revelation of an unknown daughter rather mysterious. She had thousands of questions and though she wanted to ask them all at once she felt it would not be appropriate to ask any further. It was clearly kept a secret, for an unknown reason, and Mattie felt asking them would bring humiliation to Parker and through him Lady Welford and Mattie did not want that. 
To read more click here

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Modern stories with Jane Austen Twist

Hello Lovely Readers,

I have just done a huge accomplishment reading 2 books in one week... I never have done that. It helps that one story wasn't that big and the other as so intriguing I couldn't put it down. I am partaking in a "26 Books in 2015 Challenge". And the first couple of books were really deep so I went with something light and fluffy.

The first one was called Keeping the Castle by Patrice Kindl. The story is simple Althea Crawley is penniless with a large house that is crumbling around her that she wants to keep intact for your younger brother to inherit. She is beautiful and she trying to find  a wealthy man to marry. She originally thinks that she will fall for Lord Boring (her new neighbor) but she finds his friend Mr. Fredricks annoying. And she even says no matter what she would never been tempted to marry Mr. Fredricks no matter how much money he had... that is the kiss of death.

I liked the story was simple and very light read and it was good to read a teen book that was set in Jane Austen times, but was clearly for a modern day audience. I loved the banter between Althea and Mr. Fredricks.  What I didn't like was Althea was kind of a basic character. She had her flaws of not holding he tongue (when it would have been correctly to do) but she is just labeled as pretty. Not much else is given about her personality. So it was hard to get swept up in the cute moments.

The second book was First Impressions by Charlie Lovett, which was a great bibliophile mystery. Basically imagine you discovered that Jane Austen plagiarized Pride and Prejudice what would you do? It is a dual story one of Jane Austen and her friendship with Richard Mansfield who was also an author. The other is in modern day England where Sophie has begun work in an Antique Book store. Two customers come in asking for a rare copy of a second book she can't even find if it exist. But through digging around she comes to the knowledge Pride and Prejudice or how it was originally know as First Impressions might have written by someone else. Now to protect Jane Austen's legacy and keep herself alive.

The pace of the story was good, it switched back from Jane to Sophie every other chapters. Sometimes Sophie's story got so intense I wanted to skip the Jane chapter and go to the next Sophie chapter. I love the little "Easter eggs" Lovett threw into the book such as Sophie's favorite uncle was Bertram... like in Mansfield Park. I also love how Sophie uses her whits of doing research to help solve her mysteries. It was an intriguing story and I felt Lovett did a good job with his Jane Austen knowledge.

I would recommend this book to any one who loves Jane Austen. However, I give caution there were two mild sex scenes (but nothing that made me blush) and the end a few curse words though if I was fighting someone to save my life I might cuss too. If this should ever get made into a movie it would hard not to see Anne Hathaway in the role of Jane Austen as I love Becoming Jane. 


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Remember your character

Great post about becoming a VAD

Hello Lovely Readers,

I call myself a naive writer because while I have been writing since I was a little girl, I feel like I am figuring things and minus this blog I am not published. I do not call myself "naive" as a negative thing, no I just say it because when I give advice on writing I don't want my readers to think I have this completely mastered because I don't and I might never have it mastered... and to be honest I am okay with that. I write because honestly sometimes it is the only keeps me sane also when I am writing I don't know what else I should be doing.

I read a lot of blogs on writing about how to create characters and how to have great plots. Sometimes in reading these blogs I get so overwhelmed by them that I don't know how to translate it into my writing. For example: I read blogs and have numerous pins that talk about how there needs to be action in every chapter. But I am stuck think how can that be?

I am the kind of author that uses part of my personality in my characters. My character, Mattie,  is definitely my hopeful romantic self, who wants a happy ending and believes love will conquer all. My character Daphne, is my more practical self who while she wants love believes that following the straight path is the way to go.

Also personally, it is the heroines Elinor Dashwood, Fanny Price, and Molly Gibson that fill my head. Their struggles seem mostly internal. All them are very sacrificial, giving up their own pleasures for the good of  all, they also are not understood by other characters and for much of the story they are in the background. Then it seems all the sudden the man, they have been wanting the whole novel finally realizes how good they are or how beautiful they are and suddenly they are enthralled with the girl. (Wouldn't it be nice if it worked out like this in real life?) But these stories don't really have much action.

How can I take the heroines I love, and want to write about and make them acceptable in the 21st century readers? And how can I do this and still write good historical fiction?

Right now in my writing I feel I am setting up my characters. Mattie is still "innocently naive" but I think the War will push her out of her comfort zone and that will be good. I think Mattie will become a VAD (voluntary aid detachment) because after her brother gets injured she decides that there must be more she can do for the war effort. Mattie will have to lie about her age because she is 17 when the war starts and VADs couldn't volunteer till they were 23. Which is okay, because I have read a lot of people  didn't have birth certificates. 

But I am still figuring things out...

As I have working out the plot and trying to get Mattie on the train platform where she she discovers Kelby has abandoned her, but yet she still gets on the train to have a life in America (read here) I realizes she needs motivation. Besides not marrying Lord Thomas.

I just finished Vera Brittian's Testament of Youth, it is a memoir of her life during WWI where she becomes a nurse. It has been very insightful and I have underlined a lot of passages.
My copy of Testament of Youth with post-its marking pages of passages I liked
 But after the war she kind of drifts not knowing what to do next, she wrote: "The War came and went; love came and  went; but the dream remained" (pg. 544). For Brittian the dream was to be a writer and she goes to back to that, but I don't think I have given Mattie a dream. She wants to be useful and gives herself to help those around her (esp. Lady Adelaide) and she tries to sacrifice her own heart to love another so her sister can marry the man she loves. But what are her dreams?

Here is where I get stuck.

Okay I think I leave this post with more question than answers. However, to me that is the fun of writing because while I have plotted out my story I let my characters take me on a journey sometimes to places I never thought possible.

So my naive writing advice to remember your character's dreams.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Timid or Playing it Safe pt.2

Hello Lovely Readers,

It has been over 3 years since I wrote the "Timid or Playing it Safe?" And that was about relationships. But I still question am I being timid?

Last year I thought about going on Missions and one of the countries that was a possibility was Tunisia. But things came up 1) I didn't graduate in May and so I couldn't leave move over seas in September and 2) I got lost my passion for it and I reconsidered going. In a way I forgot about it and completed my thesis and have now graduated school.

With the recent violence in Tunisia my heart has been re-awaken to this country. On the one hand I am happy not to be there because I know my mom and family would be anxious for me. However on the other hand I would want to be there to experience it and be able God's love there in this time of turmoil.

Lately I have come to realized that sometimes I play it too safe. I honestly feel trapped between what I want to do and the the things I have to do. Some one asked me "what would you do if you broke out of your comfort zone?" I thought, I like to travel, I like to write, and help people. How can I can take these passions and actually make a difference?

I don't have an answer to that question. But that is my life right now and I will continue to pray about it. One thing I know for sure is I have to trust God more to work through my timidity.

Thanks for reading this short post as I continue to work things out.
Please answer in the comments below "what would you do if you broke out of your comfort zone?"

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Not Forsaken Pt. 4

 Hello Lovely Readers,

You know when you read something and you feel it was the perfect time to read it. You might have read it before and yet it didn't hit you quite the same way and it felt as this was the right time to read it because it truly spoke to you.  Well that is how I felt this morning as I was going through my quiet time.

I have been reading The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren (so I owe all quotes to him), I tried reading it awhile ago but did not complete it, but last semester as I felt the loom of completing grad-school and having no clue what to do with my life I decided to pick this book back up. I have been reading it occasionally and I am on chapter 14 titled "When God seems Distant." Upon reading that I knew this would be an intriguing chapter for me. Lately, I have been feeling distant from God, I have been feeling like I have been floating through life and not really clinging to anything including God. I guess aimless is the best word to describe it.

It has had me worried because these feelings of aimlessness frequently lead me to feelings of treading water and eventually sinking into mild depression. So when I begin to feel this way I like to take action right away to prevent them from growing. Well I feel I have been going through the motion of trying to prevent these feelings and while I don't feel I have sunk, I have moments where I feel I am treading water.

full pic from above
Even before I read this chapter I prayed "I am tired of seeking out things to complete me" when those things are just temporary and what I really need it God to complete me. I feel I have said these words (or variations of them) for the last couple of months but nothing has changed. In fact I feel more aimless than I have ever had. I feel like I am in a time of waiting, waiting to see what will come next in my life and I have no idea how long I will have to wait.

Anyway, going back to my reading. I read the line "To mature your friendship, God will test it with periods of seeming separation--times when it feels as if he has abandoned or forgotten you." I mean I know he hasn't, there are numerous scriptures on God not forsaking us. But even still it is hard to reassure myself that He hasn't forgotten about me. Warren points out various verses that point to this fact. However, the verse I like the most about this is John 14:16-18: "And I will ask the Father and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever...I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you."

 Warren is quick to point out that even though God will never leave us, we may not always feel him, "There are times when he appears to be MIA, missing in action, in your life."  Yep, that is how I feel right now. I filled my journal with this and wondering where God is. I know God is all present, but why I cannot feel that presence in my life. Warren wrote: "When God seems distant, you may feel that he is angry with you or disciplining you for some sin... But often this feeling of abandonment or estrangement from God has noting to do with sin. It is a test of faith--one we all must face: Will you continue to love, trust, obey, and worship God even when you have no sense of his presence or visible evidence of his work in your life?"

Immediately I want to say "Yes!" In reality this will be harder than saying "yes."

I know God is at work in my life because every morning I wake up, everyday I breathe and my heart continues to beat. That alone is him working in me. The fact He created me, the fact that He died on the cross to save me, the fact that He has kept me going every day till now is enough for me to trust him and worship Him. Warren quotes Psalm 37:28: "For the Lord loves the just, and will not forsake his faithful ones." 

While I looked at this time as aimless... I am now going to try to see as a test and reassure myself that God has not abandoned or forsaken me. My favorite verse comes back to me: Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess for he who promised is faithful- Hebrews 10:23. I know God know has promised me He will not forget me and that is the promise I hold to because God is faithful in keeping his word.

Writing that doesn't mean this will no longer be a struggle. Writing that means I will try to learn to worship God despite of how I feel and despite of what I am facing.

Warren stated "Tell God exactly how you feel. Pour out your hear to God. Unload every emotion that you're feeling... Didn't you know that admitting your hopelessness to God can be a statement of faith?" I feel I do this but sometimes I feel I sugar coat my emotions to God but God already knows whats in my heart and mind, so why don't tell him actually?

I don't have an answer to this yet, this is all a work in progress. However, even though God feels distant right now I know He is with me and He will not forsake me.

It has been almost two years since I wrote parts 1-3ish click here to read more.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Its time for a new post

It's Monday, this Monday has come upon me faster than I realized...

Every other Monday I am working on posting part of my story on my other blog The Secrets of Our Days Past  and it is that time again for another post. I almost forgot.

Click here to find out what happens to Georgiana after she almost drowns in the creek. Meet some new characters, and discover the world of Cranston Court.

Thank you.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Top Ten...Period Dramas

I love getting lost in the past, I have probably said it many times but I have a very idealistic view of the past. I love the world of etiquette, refinement, and perhaps some chivalry. When I am having a bad day I love escaping to the world of these dramas and escaping just for a bit.

These are my top ten favorite period dramas.

1. Pride and Prejudice (1995)- I owe this miniseries for starting my love of Jane Austen. I don't remember when I started watching this, it was always just around my mom's house on five VHS tapes. At first I thought it was ridiculously long and I got lost in all the characters but now I am happy to spend five hours watching it and still waiting to see if Darcy and Elizabeth get together.
2. North and South- I know there was an 80's or 90's drama with the same title about the Civil War, but this is not it. This is a mini-series based off the Elizabeth Gaskell novel and probably the only time I am going to say that the movie is better than the book. I think Gaskell was trying to be too much like Charles Dickens with lots of details and dealing with the struggles of society. But I feel the plot get lost in book. In the mini-series you can see Mr. Thorton and Margret's love develop (very much in the Pride and Prejudice way). And you still get great one liners from Mr. Higgins (you might recognize as Mr. Bates). Plus you get to watch the beautiful Richard Armitage.
Left to right: Mr. Higgins, Mr. Thorton, Margret Hale. Mr. Hale
He is just so beautiful I could not help but share..
3. Emma- I like both the Gwyenth Paltrow (1996) version and the Romola Garai (2009) version. They both portray Emma well. I know the 1996 version is not exact to the book and there are some plot points that get lost, but I think they casted it very well. Paltrow plays Emma with lots of arrogance and her facial expressions are right on. And I think they did a better job casting Jane Fairfax as a great beauty (as she is suppose to be). But I keep coming back to Emma (1996) because of the line "Now I might call you Mr. Knightley, but my Mr. Knightley."
Mr. Knightley and Emma 
But I also enjoy watching Jonny Lee Miller play Mr. Knightley and he really is concerned for her, which I think is more obvious in this version.

4. Sense and Sensibility- Alan Rickman as Colonel Brandon, enough said. But in case you didn't know there is a 2008 mini-series with Dan Stevens playing Edward Ferras, which is also really good but it is hard to love it with no Alan Rickman and no Hugh Laurie. 
 Hard to decide

5. Downton Abbey- Speaking of Dan Stevens. I'm still getting over the loss of Matthew. The other week I went through season 2 of Downton and I admitted to my roommate I didn't own season 3 because it is hard to watch the end of it. However, I owe Downton Abbey my love for the Edwardian and WWI era (as I am sure many do). The costuming is wonderful, the Countess's one liners are brilliant, and it is hard not to get swept away in it.

"If you really like an argument... we should see more of each other."
-Edwardian flirting at its finest

6. Lark Rise to Candleford- As another series I recommend Lark Rise. It has some characters your will recognize: Julia Sawalha (Lydia Bennet (1995)), Brendan Coyle (Mr. Bates and Mr. Higgins), and various others. It really cements my idea that there are only 12 British actors who do historical dramas because most of them have connections through this series, either being long time characters or guest of the show. The show revolves around Laura Timmins and when she moves from her little hamlet of Lark Rise to the bigger town Candleford to work at the post office. However all the characters and their shenanigans are the real enjoyment of the story with enough heart to keep the story grounded. I also love the love interest either in regards to Dorcas Lane (Sawalha), Laura Timmins and Alf Arless. 

7. Wives and Daughter- This is another Elizabeth Gaskell novel adaptation. I love Molly Gibson. She is a great heroine to look up to. In fact I have a whole post about my love for her: A new heroine to love
Rodger and Molly
8. Little Dorrit- A Charles Dickens adaption (thus far the only Dickens I have read). The story deals with a little more heart break than the others on this list. Amy Dorrit is born in a debtors prison because of her father and while the whole family tries to act grander than their fortune, she is very humble and selfless. She gets a jobs sowing for Mrs. Clennams when we meet her son Arthur (Mathew MacFayden). Like any Dickens work there are lots of sub-plots. So while I am glad to cross Dickens off my list of authors to read, I'd rather watch the mini-series.

9. Cranford and Return to Cranford- I personally like Cranford more than Return to Cranford but I mention it because it has a great story involving Tom Hiddleston (and wouldn't miss a moment to see him in a cravat and top hat. Cranford is great because like Lark Rise it takes place in a small town but yet is full of nonsensical commotions that bring laughter but lots hearts. Also the story line between Dr. Harrison and Sophy Hutton is sweet and a great reminder about courting.But there are also lots of stories that make this little town such a great to visit. Once again there are many people you will recognize: Judi Dench, Jim Carter (Carson on Downton), Imelda Staunton (Umbridge in Harry Potter), Julia Sawlaha (Lark Rise, Pride and Prejudice). 
Sophy Hutton and Dr. Harrison 

10. The Young Victoria- To end this list is so hard. I love so many films check out my Pinterest board (Chivalry does exist) to see more I love. There are other films I would include on this list if I had more time. So I will end this list on The Young Victoria, it is always a film that makes me feel better and the costumes are absolutely breath taking. 

I always enjoy learning about other period dramas so if you have any you think I should watch let me know. If you have seen these and want to know of other films... I found this article "British Period Dramas Online" it has links to many of the titles listed her and it has others not listed. Also I recommend checking out what is at your local library (they have hidden gems). 

Thanks for taking time to enjoy this frivolity.

Monday, March 2, 2015

A new beginning...

Dear Lovely Readers,

I have written about my story a few times and shared little blurbs of it on this blog but now I have set aside a blog for it all on its own. The Secret of Our Days Past is the story of Mattie Harrington and her family, she comes to age in the era before WWI and lives her life very idealistically. She cannot imagine what destruction will come when an assiation of an Arch Duke rocks all of Europe and soon England is at war. Her brother who has always wanted to be an explorer and his best friend enlist and are called to the front to fight in the worst battle Somme. Her life is shaken when her beloved brother is injured and he is so shell shock, he is barely the man she once knew. But other obstacles come into her path when her love interest decides to enlist after his older brother dies in the War. These challenges push her to become a stronger woman, who can no longer depend on ideals. She takes up war work, much to the horror of her mother and she learns the strength of her own heart. In the wake of war her family is practically penniless and now she must decide to follow her own heart, or do as her family desires and marry a title man she does not love.

What would you do?

"All aboard!"

            "Kelby where could you be? Why did you not come? I cannot leave not knowing where you are."
            "You must," another voice inside my head said. "You have to go for you and for him."

            "Miss  are you getting on this train?" the older man asked me.
            "He didn't come," I mumbled. "He promised he would be here. It was his idea."
            "I am sorry, but if you are going to Liverpool you need to get on this train." He said trying to push my suitcase into my hands.
            "He didn't come," I said more violently in my head  than out loud.
            "Miss I need you to get on this train."

            I looked back at the ticket counter and the doors beyond that to see if I caught a glimpse of him, but he was not there. Nothing but pure nerves were telling me to go back. My heart and mind were telling me to run far away.

            "Last call to South Hampton!"

            The train engine blew and the ground beneath my feet started to tremble with the wheels beginning to turn. Something inside me snapped. I grabbed my bag and ran down the platform to my car. I threw my bag on the train and the conductor took my hand to hoist me up.
            "Glad you made it my lady," he said through his walrus like my mustache.
            "Me too," I said slightly relieved slightly sick.
            "Have a safe journey," he said when he had shown me to my seat and placed my luggage in storage above my head.

            This wasn't a journey this was a new beginning. 

Mattie Harrington could not believe what she had done that fateful day, of course it would be many years before she talked about it. Parts of this narrative Mattie could still remember as if they were yesterday even though they happened years ago. Some parts of this Mattie had to conjure up out of her imagination to make sense of the outcomes. Therefore, it is a hard to call true account of the Harrington family but it is the truest account you will ever hear.

            No matter how many time Mattie Harrington told the story she always started the same way...

            There was a time when we were all happy and innocent to the ever changing world. Before the war and destruction on that followed in its wake. The war had changed our family in so many ways as it had for countless others. Before the war it didn't matter that Parker was heir to Cranston Court and was best friends to Shane Dolan, whom was the eldest son of Cranston's head cook. Daphne would be happy to wear daisy chain necklaces and Marcus dreamt of exploring the deep jungles of Africa. Back when were children we would spend our summers in the back woods, wade in the creek that divided Cranston from Southerton Greens. I remember here we could be a thousand miles away from everything and everyone with only our dreams to play out. Though, that was before the Great War. The Great War that killed Shane, wrecked Marcus, and made our poverty known. It was all due to the war. It was the reason our lives would be forever altered.

Click here to read more