Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Book Blurb... Goodbye Piccadilly

Hello lovely readers,

Last week I finished the book Goodbye Piccadilly by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles. I have read a few books of Cynthia Harrod-Eagles in her "Morland Dynasty" series which range from the Renaissance to the 1920s time period, so you can find a time period you can enjoy. You will probably not be surprised but I like the books set in the Edwardian Period to the 1920s... so I was intrigued when I saw she is writing a series just about World War I.

The story is mostly set around the Hunter family... who are middle class with the husband working as a banker and the wife stays at home to mind the household and servants. The story starts off a little slow and what is happening in mainland Europe is just in the back ground. My main criticism of the story is that their are a lot of characters. While there are the Hunters and their 5 maybe 6 kids, there is also their servants, Mr. Hunter's sister and her own plot line. I am hoping as this is a series that we will get to see all these characters plots unfold and it won't be fruitless to keep track of their stories.

The two characters I was most interested in were the Hunter daughters Diana and Sadie. Diana is casted as the beauty of the village who has lots of suitors but her focus is on Charles Wroughton, who is the oldest son of the Earl. While Charles is in good position in society he is not the most social person mostly because of nerves and fear of not knowing what to say. So when he catches Diana's eyes he is actually intrigues that this beautiful girl is attracted to him. Of course his family thinks she is just a fortune hunter... and while that might be a bit true she is honestly interested in him.

The next daughter Sadie, is sixteen and loves horse and actually doesn't want to be out in society for her only destiny to be marriage. She gets a position (most likely volunteer) to help ride horses in order to get them ready for soldiers and begins a crush on the veterinarian.  I hope in the other books she will be able to develop and do real war work.

I also hope in the other books they will develop David, the oldest son of the Hunters, who enlisted in the army a few days after the war.

Outside of the Hunter family is the Hunter family servants. Ethel the young housemaid seems a little arrogant and full of herself... she kind of reminded me of the Ethel character in Downton Abbey, I hope she won't suffer the same fate.

I will be honest this book was not that thick (only 392 pages) but it did take me a bit to get through it... I don't think it was honestly the books fault. I love the history this book included it provided me valuable insights into English society at the beginning of WWI. For example: Charles Wroughton is not allowed to write to Diana herself, he has to write to her mother. I mean that definitely doesn't allow for much romance. Also it gave good information on dates and other historical background like the Irish wanting Home Rule and some suffragette information. I personally love these details as they inspired my own writing so I was happy to read them but I don't think the casual reader would care for them.
As the story was about the the same period that I am currently writing about I found the story inspiring and I think I spent some of my usual commute time reading to write out scenes. Also after falling in love with Susanna Kearsley this summer I would love to find an author who wrote WWI novels in her style. Do you have any suggestions?

As I said there are other books, I think only one other is out set in 1915 called Keep the Home Fire Burning but the library doesn't have it yet... so I will keep waiting to see what happens next.

Overall: I liked the story, but I could do with less characters and I don't know if the casual reader would enjoy a lot of the historical content... however I think it proves that Cynthia Harrod-Eagles has truly done her work and keeps it based in reality.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Life starts all over again...

Hello my lovely readers,

This feels like an odd time... We have passed Labor Day weekend and everyone is talking about Fall. I will admit I could do with some cooler weather but I am not ready for it to be Fall, I am enough of a "Negative Nelly" that I don't like Fall because that means Winter is coming and I hate Winter. Though I will admit I am looking forward to Pumpkin Spice Lattes, being cozy in sweaters, and I am hoping with cooler weather I will want to cook more in my kitchen. Right now my kitchen feels too hot to cook in but I am not embracing that just because it is after Labor Day that it is now Fall... NO! But it does feel weird now, because Summer does feel over. So this is an in between time.

Doesn't life often feel like this when we are stuck in between seasons we can see a new beginning but we are not there yet? Well maybe it is just me.

Throw back: when my niece and sister came to Boston
There is a great quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald that says "Life starts all over again when it get crisp in the fall." Even up here in New England we are still having some end of summer warmth, though it is apparent the day are getting shorter and sometimes the morning are cool enough I wrap a scarf around my neck (but I just love scarves).

Anyway, I have been feeling for the last couple of months a new beginning is upon me... And things are really happening. Sadly, I cannot put all the changes happening on social media, trust me if I could tell you all I would... but until things are settled I cannot. I am not a fan of change, it usually stresses me out because in change there is something in the unknown. However, as I feel this newness coming on me I have been actively praying to God for him to prepare my heart for what is to come. That is one amazing thing about God, He knows every detail of our lives. He knows our past, present, and future and He truly is control. Many times I think I can handle my own life and I try to be in control and
slowly I start feeling I am beginning to drown.

I am sick of that cycle, so as I felt this "new beginning" feeling I am trying to cling to God.

I pray frequently that my life is in His hands. For we are not promised tomorrow, next month or next year, and I pray that God leads me on while I am on this journey of figuring things out. I know God's future for me is secure and I know He only wants the best for me. This is what I hold onto.

Question: Are you facing a time of newness in your life? Are you clinging on to God?

I will keep you posted on all this.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

"He waited for her..."

Hello lovely readers,

I have been feeling really good about my writing, getting a lot of typing done and writing future scenes but I finally typed up to the point that initially got me stuck in my writing and I feared that I wouldn't be able to get through my block. I have read different blogs and articles that  say one way to get over writer's block is to change the point of view. I wasn't sure how I was going to this and then I saw this writing prompt on Pinterest and I knew I could use it in my scene...
The scene below is from Mattie returning from London to Cranston Court after attending the wedding of her cousin. In London she met Leopold Brashware and meeting him has made Mattie question her feelings towards Kelby.

He waited for her, Mrs. Banks had informed the whole household that Master Parker was to return and he brought the Miss Harringtons with him. Mrs. Banks had written to Miss Mattie about how ill Lady Welford was and she had been highly disappointed to know she had not come sooner. Everyone at Cranston Court knew Miss Mattie held a special place in the house, for she was almost the true daughter of Cranston. They all knew Lady Welford regarded her as a daughter figure and they all knew in the summer when she had been ill what joy Miss Mattie brought to her. No one could explain it, but they all accepted it. However, it was not for those reasons Kelby had volunteered to meet Master Parker at the train station. Poole, Lady Welford's maid, had started rumors down in the servants hall that Master Parker and Miss Daphne were soon to be engage. Everyone was excited for the announcement and they felt their arrival together would make it official. Kelby would not let his brother meet the train. and knowing Shane's vindication risk his position at Cranston. More importantly to him he had to see Miss Mathilda for himself. Shane had talked about how Miss Daphne had changed after being in London and though Kelby  was confident Miss Mathilda, his Mattie, would never change, Shane's words still plagued him. Kelby was very eager to volunteer to pick up Master Parker and the Miss Harringtons and fortunately for Kelby Mr. Doyle, the butler, had  Shane go into Buxton to fetch some medicine for her ladyship.
            He waited for her, he paced a bit in anticipation, the local train was running a bit delayed and in a mix excitement and nervousness he walked the length o the platform and back playing in his mind what he was to say to her. He had to be formal, "Miss Mattie" sounded to juvenile for the woman he had hold and danced with only a month ago. He would never admit it out loud but that dance had changed everything, he had seen her flip over the bicycle and worried the worst fate for her, though she must not have remembered anything from that day. He knew she would remember the dance her looks told him everything he needed to know. Miss Mathilda Elizabeth Rose Harrington was his dearest friend but there was something more behind that look of her, something of sweet and dear love.
            "Miss Mathilda, I hope you are well," No "Miss Mathilda, I hope London suited you," No "Miss Mathilda, I am very glad you are back."
            The train began to pull in and Kelby took his position Mr. Doyle had informed him where the first class cars usually stepped and Kelby should be there to welcome his future master. Kelby had know Parker his whole life, though in recent years Cranston had not seen much of him, he was becoming a gentlemen of the world, as Mrs. Foster put it. In his younger years Kelby had gotten away with Master Parker, just Parker, at least in the solitude of being alone though now felt changed. They were no longer the children who played in the back woods, they no longer shared their dreams and hopes together, and Kelby would only be right to follow the rules of society.
            "Lord Parker," Kelby said stoutly when he saw them.
            "My God, Kelby I would not have recognized you." It was friendly enough for Lord Parker, Kelby thought.
            Kelby then greeted with a slight nod and said that it was good to see them all, his words were to everyone he particularly directed them to Miss Mathilda, and he hoped she would notice.
            There was nothing but warmth and happiness in her smile, nevertheless he noticed a look of pain behind her eyes. He could tell she was happy to see him and yet sad to leave London. Maybe Shane was right, London did change country girls. His mind went to hurtful thoughts of her finding a man, a man of wealth and position, one who could offer everything he could not. He tried to brush those thoughts aside as he had no truth behind him and he had to act civil, any other behavior could have severe consequences. He told himself it was all in his head, Miss Mathilda was happy to be home to be sure but sad under the circumstances of Lady Welford's health, he did have truth to that.
            How glad was he had arranged an extra carriage to come for the luggage as he was not expecting Miss Georgiana and Mrs. Gardner to be a part of the company. He first got them and their luggage settled them to go to Southerton as they had no business Cranston. As by design Mattie insisted on sitting on the driver's bench as she claimed the train had left her feeling ill and the desire for some fresh air. He hoped that she longed to sit next to him and they could talk, however when she situated herself she sat on the far edge of the bench to where she was nearly falling over the railing and barely spoke a word. He sat mindless not thinking of how to ask more probing questions. Something clearly had happened in London and she just wasn't willing to say anything.
            It pained Kelby that their only contact was as he helped her in and out of the carriage when they had been so close barely a month ago. She gave her thanks when he helped her down from the carriage and then she disappeared behind the doors of Cranston Court.
            This is where she belonged, he thought as he stepped back from Cranston's main doors to take in the view. Miss Mathilda and Miss Daphne, they belonged in the world of estates with fine gentlemen, perchance men with titles, jewelry and an abundance of gowns. What could he give her? As a girl Miss Mathilda could have been happy in the rooms above the stable, but she was growing now, one day she would be presented into society, and a man would have to be a fool not to see her beauty both inside and out.
            He didn't know what to say to her when she found idly walking through the stables no doubt to be with Diamond Dust, her chosen horse. It had been a couple of days since she had returned but he had not seen her from the time she had entered Cranston's main doors. The last time he saw her, her hair had been stylishly pulled and twisted up in a manner that was quite becoming. Now her hair hung in long braid drooped over her right shoulder she aimlessly played with the loose strands beneath the ribbon. He watched her carefully trying to get his words correct, he felt he was building up the courage to talk to her. This was silly, he had known Miss Mathilda her whole life, she had always been easy for him to read but now all he felt was a great divide. Perhaps Miss  Daphne had not changed as Shane had said, maybe they had just realized the divide between them.
            Then without truly realizing it she looked at him, her eyes were read and her cheeks flushed, her could tell she had been crying. Now he truly did not what to say it hurt him to see her so clouded in heartache. Her tender heart was always something he admired in her, she wore her heart on her sleeves but she had strength about her, one that he knew she would not be easily crushed, he saw it even if she did not. When he realized her eyes were still upon him as if she woke from a dream, they said a short greeting, there was pain in her voice. He quickly tried to think of conversation to distract her.
            "I fear you will find Derbyshire compared to London." He hoped this would bring a smile to her face.
            "No I shall not. Many times in London I longed to be back here. London is so confusing with so many people you hardly know, who to trust and where you belong. Besides this is my home."
            "I cannot imagine you did not find good company."
            "I did, but what are men to rocks and mountains."
            He teased her that London had not stopped her love of novels, as he had known she was quoting Jane Austen. She smiled at him and then turned back to look at Diamond as she petting the horses' nose.
            "Do you know what's wrong with her?"
            It was clear she was not talking about the horse, only he wished she was as he wanted to keep the tone light and friendly. He was about to make a joke when she pleaded with him. "Tell me honestly Kelby, I'd rather hear it from you than Doctor Gibson."
            "I know Miss Mathilda but I hate to be the one tell you. You know the old saying, don't kill the messenger." He took a gulp. "Dr. Gibson believed it is her heart, he doesn't know exactly what's wrong but he said it was weak. He recommended when this term of illness is over that she should go to a clinic in Cambridge."
            She questioned what he meant by the word "term" and he told her that Lady Welford's health would always be flocculating though if she rested and did not strain herself the bouts of illness would be short and spread out. Then his words turned serious "But they will come, Miss Mathilda, there is nothing we can do about that."
            "I understand," she said pressing her forehead against the horse and he could see a tear a roll down her cheek.
            " I am sorry —" he wanted to say 'dearest' but couldn't. "If I could keep this news from you I would."
            She looked at him and gently placed her hand on his cheek. "No Kelby, I asked for honesty, I am thankful it came from you."
            "I would protect you from the truth as long as I could."
            "I am fine Kelby, I don't need your protection. I am almost seventeen and far from my naïve childish ways."
            "That is not what I meant Miss" his voice was soft and compassionate.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Remember God's Faithfulness... In the Moments

Hello lovely readers,

Last week I posted "Remember God's Faithfulness...The Blessings in My Life" and I talked about the people who have blessed my life. This week I wanted to talk about the moments in my life that I look back and remember God was with me. But for those moment to make sense I wanted to give you a little insight into my life... I know in the past I have provided insights but I wanted to write them down again.

I have not always been a Christian or Christ Follower (as I like to say). Actually I became a christian after I lied to my dad three times about using his computer and was punished by being sent to my room only allowed to read my Bible or twiddle my thumbs.  I do not know why but I read 2 Peter and chapter 3 really got to me "The Lord is not slow in keeping in his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" -2 Peter 3:9 and next "So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this (Christ's return), make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him"- 2 Peter 3:14. Having just lied to my dad, I felt guilty and I knew that if Jesus came back at that moment he would not find me spotless or blameless and at that moment I prayed for God to come into my life and save me. I was twelve at that time and it would take years for me to even begin living out the faith I proclaimed that day.

Senior Portrait
In my junior year of high school I suffered from minor depression and once thought about killing myself. Those words hurt to write... but as I imagined it, I didn't actually want to die, I just wanted for someone to know how much pain I was in. My thought was to take some sleeping pills (I took occasionally) but then when my mom came to wake me (as she did) she would realize what I had done and be able to get me to the hospital, they would pump my stomach, and they would save me. I didn't do this but just the thought I wanted to do it made me so broken inside... and I blamed myself a lot for these feelings. Anyway, during my senior year I went to therapy and got through some issues... but it still wasn't enough. I was about to move to Boston and I worried what if I move to Boston and slipped back into depression and wanted to kill myself. At home I had the support system of my parents but in Boston I knew no one and it scared me, but I also knew there had to be something bigger out there that could hold me up when I was low.

Because my parents were divorced and living in different states, I spent my summers in Oklahoma and for one week we went to church camp. I love my family so I say this with love but I looked at my dad and sisters and thought "yeah it's easy for them to have faith because they are strong" and I felt so weak and I felt so broken that there was no way that my brokenness could come to God. Well the week God put some amazing people in my life that were honest to me and told me of their brokenness and how God rescued them and saved them. Something I knew I needed because I didn't slip back into depression. So it was then I say I truly gave my life to Christ.

Now I believe if I died in high school I would have gone to heaven but if Christ asked me what I had done for Him? I would have had to say "nothing" because honestly there was nothing in my life that marked me as a Christ follower but that prayer I had said years ago.

My dear friend and I
Anyway after I got back from camp, I asked my dad to help me find a church in Boston and through his guidance and my mom reminding me of Park Street Church, I decided to go there and on my first Sunday there I felt I had come home. Also that first Sunday I met a really good friend of mine... and she allowed me to break down my walls and throw away the masks I had been wearing for so long. Over my Freshman year I felt so much my desperation for God but I felt more than anything His presence in my life.

In my Sophomore year through another girl we met at bible study we learned about Reunion Christian Church, and I remember my friend "C" telling me I had to go and when I asked her if I had a choice she said "no." That was our friendship worked and I am so thankful for that because through Reunion I have found a second family. Also through Reunion I decided to get baptized.

I remember, Reunion, went through this series called "Christian No More" where we talked about what it meant to be truly being a "Christ Follower" and one time my pastor (bald guy in the picture above) told us to "STOP" being a Christian. I didn't know what he meant by that and it was a big struggle for me because I felt he was telling me to stop being who I was. Well that's not what he was saying he was saying to stop calling yourself a "Christian" stop putting rules in the way of faith, and stop putting on a facade if you are not truly loving Jesus. Here is a parody video we watched during the series:

Now I am not saying that being a Christian is bad, because I still declare myself a Christian but I think it is more important to be true to Christ in your heart than just on the outside.

Even through all this, I have had low moments with God. Moments I didn't feel God was with me, moments I thought God had abandoned me or moments I would cry at night believing I was no longer a child of God. It is not because God had abandoned me because He promises over and over again in His word that He will "not forsake you" one of my favorite versed about that is Deuteronomy 31:6- "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them (enemies of Israel), for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you or forsake you."  

One of my darkest moments came after I broke up with a boyfriend, I thought I was going to marry. I realized that I had put my hope in him and in our relationship that I lost my hope in God. I couldn't even tell you what it meant when people said "put your hope in God" so I went back and studied all the mentions of the word "Hope" listed in my Bible concordance and it is still not something I completely understand. But I keep digging, I keep looking for times God provides hope. My favorite verse recently has been Hebrew 10:23- "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful." And to me that me that no matter what come our way God is with us. God is with me and He is with you... even if you don't think He is.  

Okay, this post has gotten longer than I originally thought... and after writing out all my thoughts I don't know if I have displayed the moments God has been with me.. and I am okay with that because God is with me at all times. He is with me when I am having good days and I can totally feel His presence and He is with me when I am cannot.  He is with me when I am active and sharing my faith and He is with me when I am quiet and just going about my life. He is with me when I am crying and He is with me when I am crying. That is the amazing thing about Him, He will never leave me because He created me (and you) and He will be with us forever. In this moment God has blessed my life in showing me that. I hope you can find the blessing in knowing He is with you as well and that no matter how broken or shattered your life is, He can heal and mend your life... in fact He is the only One who can.

I am going to step off my preachy soap box now and just say if you are reading this God is with you and loves you.

I did not want to leave this blog post with out sharing this video from my trip to Honduras with Living Water... for me that sticks out as the pinnacle of knowing God was with me because I felt there were so many hoops that if God wanted me on that trip I was going to have to go through and He blessed me through all of them. I am not saying you have to go a trip to know God's presence, you can know it in your living room, on your commute to work, or just making dinner. For me however re-watching that video and actually writing this blog post I think God has shown me that he is with me always. Are there ways or moments you recognize Him? What are those moments you saw as struggle but looking back now are moments of hope? 

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Writing Wednesday... not much to say

Hello lovely readers,

Usually I love Wednesdays and posting this blog, but I feel I have little to say. Actually that's not true... I have a bit to say. I caught up on my typing, which feels great. My current word count is 78,196 (so about 162 page). So now I have to continue writing!!! I feel comfortable with my outline and I have written a few future scenes (which is also exciting). So I will continue as working on my story I don't know how much I will have to post here.

A couple of months ago I started my retelling of Wives and Daughters through letter writing... I enjoyed writing it as I felt stuck in my writing and it was a good release for my creative energy. However, now I am so busy between my work, other activities to juggle two stories.Also I am thinking about changing my timing of this blog. I might have been a little too ambitious to think I could have a post three times a week and as I have always wanted quality over quantity... I am going to switch to posting Tuesdays and Thursdays (or Friday) and as much as I like alterations I am not going to hold myself that as tightly as I have been. I still want to share the things that are important to me my faith, the events of my days,  my writing and the books I'm reading. Also there will be times I share random YouTube videos and posts of historical dramas. I hope you will stay tuned to my blog... I do so enjoy writing it.

Last weekend I went to Vermont (my first time to Vermont) to see a revival pastor named Clayton Jennings. As I have posted here I have been feeling rather distant in my faith and a good friend of mine invited me to this and it was wonderful. I got such in sight into what God desires for my life. I hope to write about that more. However, I wanted to share this video "Now Is Your Time | Philippians 4:13": 

Even if you aren't a none Christian this is a good reminder that this is our one and only life and if you have a passion or a dream this is the time to do it. He states "if you want to be an author write that book." However, as a Christian it speaks to the fact this is our time and that nothing is impossible to do what God calls us to do. Do you have a sense of what God has called you to do? 

I know this message can sound like a TV evangelical that talks about how God will bring you wealth, well that is not what Clayton Jennings messages is, I think his message is to tell us to stop dragging our feet and embrace what God has in store for us. To keep being "game changers" for God. Personally I think this is an awesome message because I as a wanna-be-author I have always wondered how I can use my gifts for God... the Bible talks a lot about pastors, evangelicals, and prophets (well  I am not those things). So I didn't know how I fit in to the church... in that I really happy to know I can use my gifts of writing and story telling to spread the good news of God. Is there anything you are passionate about you can use and shape for the message of God? 

That is all for now, but before I close this post I want give a shout out to my bffl on her birthday... I am so lucky to be her Watson.