Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What I Gave for Christmas

Instead of focusing on what I got for Christmas this year, I’ll tell you what I gave to other people, since that was more exciting for me this year.

To my parents, I gave audiobooks that they can listen to while they are driving. Both books are radio drama done by Focus on the Family’s Radio Theatre. To my mom I gave “The Hiding Place,” and to my dad I gave “The Screwtape Letters.” (Did you know that Andy Serkis is the voice of Screwtape? He’s insanely creepy!)


For my oldest sister, I got a candle. But this is no ordinary candle. It’s an artificial one that flickers either yellow or blue, and to turn it off, you just blow. And you also blow to turn it on. :)

For my next oldest sister, I made a recipe box, collaged with cooking-themed papers. She’s a great cook and loves culinary arts. I made recipe cards to go with it.

To my brother, who has his blog here, I gave the game Risk, but with a twist. It’s set in the year 2210 A.D. He played it with our cousin on Christmas night (stayed up until 3 in the morning!), and they both like it better than the original Risk game. Then I played with him… and lost. But I will triumph eventually!

And for my youngest sister, Hepzibah, who blogs at Beauty of Christ (among other places), I made an altered book about fairies. The book used to be "The Thousand and One Nights," but now it is all about fairies, with lots of colors and glitter. It’s my second altered book, and I learned a lot of new techniques for this project. This is probably the present I worked on the most. She loved it, and kept flipping through the pages in delight. I’ll try to post some pictures of it soon.

And for the whole family, I made a photobook. The title is "Faces: Looking Closer at the Personalities Around Us." You can view it here.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Safe and Sound

I'm posting this from my newly updated and backed-up laptop!  I'm now running Snow Leopard on my Mac, and everything automatically backs up to my external hard drive. Yay! No more do I need to worry about my computer dying on me and taking all my photos and stories into the endless abyss. I'm covered! (If only I'd done this last summer! I would have avoided a lot of headaches and expenses.)

Just in case anyone's curious: Time Machine is awesome. Snow Leopard is awesome. Macs are awesome.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Symbols of Christmas

I've been so busy getting ready for Christmas, but I took the time to write this poem to remind myself of the importance of all the aspects of the celebration. And so, it's now my gift to all of you! Merry Christmas!

To give someone a gift
Is a symbol of love
Just as the snow
Is a gift from above.

To light up the house
With colors so bright
Is a symbol of triumph
Over Satan's dark night.

To sing carols together
'Round Advent flame
Is a symbol of worship
Why the Lord Jesus came.

To ring bells in the morning
Spreading news of his birth
Is a symbol of joy
Ringing out to the earth.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Cookies, and a Recipe

I can't cook, but I like baking! Here are some pictures of the first batches of Christmas cookies in our house. (My dad likes to call them Advent cookies, so we can eat them before Christmas Day.)
First up, Spritz wreathes, some with plain old sprinkles and some with red-hots for the adventurous soul...

Oops. I thought I had pictures of my decorated gingerbread camels... but I guess they got eaten already. :)

And here are the sugar twists, my family's favorite Christmas cookie. It's an old family recipe from my dad's side. They are delicious, and fun to make. The funny thing is, they have no sugar in the actual cookie dough, but the end product is very sweet indeed. THE BEST!

Here's how to make them:

(for the dough)
2 tsp. yeast (or one package)
3 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. butter (or margarine)
2 eggs
1/2 c. sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla

(for the sugar mixture)
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla

Mix the yeast with 1/4 cup warm water. Set aside.
Blend the flour and salt. Cut in 1 c. butter. Blend in 2 beaten eggs, sour cream, 1 tsp. vanilla, and yeast mixture. Mix thoroughly and chill for at least 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 375º
In a little bowl, combine 1 1/2 c. sugar and 2 tsp. vanilla. Spread half of the sugar mixture on a floured surface.
Divide the dough in half. Roll out one of the halves to 8" x 16". Spread with more vanilla/sugar mix and fold into thirds. Turn and roll again, and spread more sugar. Then fold and turn and roll it again!
Cut into 4" x 1" strips with a pizza cutter. Then twist each strip and place on cookie sheet. Sprinkle with colored sugar.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, and then enjoy!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

THE END! And some excerpts!

I'm DONE! Yesterday, I finally finished my NaNoWriMo novel, Bluewillow! I'm so relieved and glad to be done writing for awhile. The final word-count is 76,114, which is only a thousand words over what I estimated it would be. That's almost 200 hand-written pages!

Here's a brief synopsis of the plot:

The Flicker Chronicles book 2
A girl with blue hair wakes up under a willow tree and can only remember other people's memories. She sets out to find a mysterious inter-dimensional portal that could somehow be the key to her past, but she gets caught up in a struggle between colorful worlds. Will she turn to the true King before it's too late?

Here's the banner I made for the book: 

And here are a couple of short poems from my novel. I wasn't expecting to write any poetry, but these just appeared on the page without me really thinking about it. :) And then I put them to music, and turned them both into songs.

"In the wings of the morning, in the depths of the earth
Ring songs of great value and words of great worth
The birds of the air and the fish will cry out
When the people are silent, even stones will shout."

And then a silly one:

"My honey went away, away, away,
In search of another day, away, away.
My dear sweet girlie
Went all a-twirly
And fell into a portal swirly
And made my head turn gray, away, away."

Later, when I type out my book and start editing (it needs a LOT of editing), I'll post some longer excerpts. But for now, I need to turn my attention to other things, namely Christmas. I enjoy making gifts for my family, but that will require a lot of time and energy, so I'm putting my finished draft aside for awhile. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Swine Flu and Novel Writing

Yeah... I'm sorry I haven't been posting at all during November. I wanted to keep you guys updated with my word-count goals and excerpts from my novel, but less than a week into the month, I got really sick. I never went to the doctor to get tested, but I had all the symptoms of the H1N1 swine flu. I had a fever for nine days, and felt poorly for over two weeks.

Of course, that didn't help with the novel writing. I've never been sick during National Novel Writing Month before, so it was a frustrating time for me. I wanted to make it to at least 75,000 words, and hopefully finish the whole story, but with several days in there where I didn't write ANYTHING, I was really behind. My parents kept telling me to give myself a break, but it was hard when I've been planning this book for months, and looking forward to NaNoWriMo all year.

It was also hard to accept that I would be writing alone this year. In all the other years of NaNo, my brother was writing with me, and then my dad tried it and my younger sister did it for a couple of years. But this year, the others weren't able to write novels for one reason or another, so I was alone. (And since I was sick, I couldn't go to any write-ins with local Wrimos.)

I did make it to 50,000, though, and then for the last three days of November, I wrote over 5,000 words a day!  Yay! My final count is 70,213 handwritten words. So even though it felt like a terrible month, it was not totally unsuccessful.

And yet, my book is not yet completed. *sigh* Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to write I go... And when I finish, I'll come back and post a few excerpts for y'all to pick on and admire. :)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

My Nanowrimo Survival Kit

I've been inspired by Earwen and several others who have posted the essentials for them to survive (and hopefully win) National Novel Writing Month. Here is my own version of the NaNoWriMo survival kit!

1. Snowflake
No, it's not a real snowflake. I usually plan my novel ahead of time using Randy Ingermanson's wonderful "Snowflake Method." You start with a one-sentence summary of your novel idea and then it builds through several steps until you have a short summary of every scene you plan to write. I've found it to be VERY helpful in years past. I wrote down all my notes in a blue 5-star notebook, and I'll refer to it often during November.

2. Pens
I am writing my novel by hand this year. *gulp*  So, I stocked up on pens today. I got a dozen of my favorite kind, the Tul gel pens-- I love the smooth, black ink.

3. Notebook
Of course I need something to write IN, so I bought a hardcover, unlined notebook at Borders. By the way, it's blue.

4. Index cards
I love 'em. I bought a whole pack of 300. I wrote out all my scenes on cards (53 scenes!), and I also stick a couple in my pocket for random ideas that hit me during the day.

5. My laptop, Phoenix
I'm not using it to write this year because I get headaches and eye strain, but I'll need it to update word counts, check the forums, and of course, blog.

6.  Calculator
This I shall probably carry around everywhere I write...

7. Hot chocolate
For those chilly nights when I have to stay up late to hit my word-count goal.

8. Novel playlist
I usually don't listen to music, but this year I kept finding music that just fit perfectly. I created a playlist on my iPod full of the most inspiring tracks. Most of the music is from movie soundtracks such as Hook, Peter Pan, Chronicles of Narnia, etc, but I also have Jupiter from "The Planets" (by Holst) and some Enya. Some of the songs on my playlist draw specific images from my novel in my mind.

9. My Elven cloak
Something to inspire me when my imagination loses steam. And my character is likely to wear something like this. It's blue, by the way.

10. Cats
We have five of 'em, so there's always one who is willing to sit on my feet and keep them toasty warm. Scout, however, is MY cat. She's my best writing buddy.

11. Candy
'Nuff said.

12. Fingerless gloves
They keep my hands warm. And they're just plain cool. :)

13. Candles
It is soooo cool to write by candle-light!

14. My Journal
I've used my journals for everything from blog ideas to brainstorming for my novel to random scribblings that don't have much to do with anything but allow me to experiment. During November I'll use it for complaining, panicking, procrastinating, and doodling, so I don't do that in my novel.

15. My Bible
My novel is Christian fantasy, so I refer to this a lot. It's cool when you open up the Bible, and an amazing plot idea jumps out. It's incredible to be able to deepen the fiction with Truth.

16. My family and blog friends
You guys are awesome!

NaNoWriMo, here I come!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Ten Titles Tag

Joraiem gave me this tag a looong time ago, and I (in a normal phase of inobservance) somehow missed it. I thought it was fitting to do it right before NaNoWriMo begins...

Instructions: Come up with ten titles for books that have not been written.  (yet)
I'm assuming I can put down titles for story ideas I have. All but one of these titles has an idea attached to it already. Anyone want to guess which one is just a lonely title?

1. MindWrite
2. Twyndyllyng (it's actually a real word, though you might not find it in every dictionary)
3. Titantis
4. Treehouse   (I'm realizing how many of my titles start with "T")
5. The Hotel Girl
6. The Secret Side of the Library
7. SoulWorld Traveler
8. Lira Larc

and for the last two, I have the prequel and sequel ideas for my upcoming novel, Bluewillow:

9. Greenheart
10. Redtail

I shall tag...
and Bracie!

Tomorrow I shall attempt to return with a run-down of the items in my NaNoWriMo Survival Kit!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

It Came!

Curse of the Spider King has arrived! I'm thoroughly enjoying it so far. Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper are AWESOME!

In case you haven't heard, there's a cool contest going on to promote their book Curse of the Spider King, and if you haven't yet joined, get thee to this website and educate thyself! We need a few more "tribes" to get the game going, so if you think you could get at least 21 people together to form your own tribe, do it! And did I mention prizes?  Attend a private party with the authors, get a character named after you, and books, books, books! I've also heard that they may be giving away a SWORD! (Tribe leaders seem to get the best of the booty, by the way.) If you want to join or create a tribe, there are a lot of helpful people at the official forum called The Underground, which you can find at Adventures await!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Exploring Sherwood...

At last... my medieval costume entry for Maid Marian's Wardrobe! The rain stopped for a few hours today, so out I went into the forest. Pictures or bust!

I made the cloak, but purchased the dress from an african booth at our state fair's international bazaar. :) The blouse is from Kohl's.

My lovely mother took the pictures for me (it's rather hard to take one's own picture), and then she returned my camera so I could take pictures of my sister, Hepzibah. <--- Check out her blog, too!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Merry: a Sherwood Story

I'm waiting for a non-rainy day to take pictures of my costume for the fashion side of the Maid Marian's Wardrobe event (so far no luck-- it has been raining constantly for days!), but here's a short Robin Hood story I wrote for now. Enjoy!

by Evergreena

Robin has been living alone deep in Sherwood for almost a year after fleeing his band in shame when his cocky plans went awry and he accidently killed a man due to a poorly aimed arrow. He's finally mastered the art of the bow, and now it is time for him to return...

I whistled a never-ending tune as I departed from my gloomy haunt in Sherwood. I didn’t know what pace to set, for my heart throbbed with both eagerness and trepidation about my destination: home. I would be there very soon. Too soon. Not soon enough.

I tried to focus my attention on the different kinds of trees and birds, and perhaps that is why I forgot to watch for lookouts. I was admiring the plumage of an especially talkative robin when two men dropped on me from above and knocked me to the mossy roots of an oak. I kicked at my attackers and managed to dislodge one of the men, but the other simply flipped me over and pulled back my hood.

“You!” he gasped.

I laughed. “John! Are we doomed to forever be at odds? First you knock me senseless into a freezing stream—”

He got over his initial shock and stepped back. “What are you doing here?”

The other man approached us. He bent over and picked up his fallen cap. “You broke my feather, Robin,” he said, and held it up to prove it.

“Ah, Will. You’re still the local fashion disaster?” I mock-frowned at my old friend.

John pulled me to my feet. “We thought you were dead!”

“Or deserted,” added Will. “Or captured, or hiding… We thought we lost you for sure!”

We entered the nearby clearing, and John looked up at the canopy of oak trees. “The men must be aloft.”

I put my hood up to hide my face and turned to Will. “Get them down here. We have work to do.”

Will and John exchanged glances. I could tell they were remembering last time. But this time was going to be different. Robin was back, but I was no longer the inept churl with unsteady fingers. No, the hard months of winter in Sherwood had made me more than just a man. I was poised to become a legend. And it was time to make my band into one too. Marian’s words rang in my head. “You just have to find your calling, and I will support you; the others will follow!” she had said when I told her I was leaving. “But first you have to grow up!” I still remembered her sincere, angry eyes.

Will rang the rousing bell, and avoided looking at me. I heard groans and complaints in the trees above, and then the sound of rustling foliage as the weary men dropped down ladders and ropes. They lined up in a rather messy group in front of Will. I could see that winter had been as hard on them as on me. Their faces were a mixture of exhaustion and disgust, and very little hope. There were some muttered jibes behind backs and ruckus guffaws. But no one smiled. No true joy. Things looked grim.

They had no idea what I was about to do.

As soon as they had all arrived, I threw back my hood and stepped forward. When they saw me, they all began to murmur and shift feet. They hadn’t expected to see me ever again, I could tell. Ha. Let them see how much I had changed! Let them see my determination and newfound merriment! Yes, things were going to get good.

I whipped out my bow and showed it to them. “This, “ I said loudly, “is not just a bit of wood with a string. It is more than a weapon and more than a tool.” I held it above my head. “This is an icon! It is a symbol of our life. We are not much to look at, but we are strong, we are supple, and we are dangerous.”

At this I swept an arrow out of my sleeve, and to the men I suppose it appeared to come out of thin air. I drew back my bow easily, and took only half a second to aim… and released.

The goose-fletched arrow shot just above the ranks of men, who gasped and yelled and leaped away. It sailed on, right through it all, and disappeared in the thicket beyond.

I nodded to Much, the miller’s son. “You’ll find it in the knot of yonder oak.” He paled, but nodded and darted out of sight. A moment later he reappeared, holding the shaft of the arrow. “I— I couldn’t get the head out of the wood,” he said. “Too deep!”

The men looked at me again, and this time I saw fear. Did I go too far? Did they think I’d gone mad? Was there respect in that silence? I lowered my head and stared at my feet. One of my toes was peeking through the deerskin.

A sudden laugh burst on the camp with the shock of a hot stone falling from the sky. I looked up. All of the others turned to look, too, and in the very back of the group was Tuck, his eyes dancing and his robe quivering.

He laughed again, and this time it morphed into a giant belly-laugh. “Heavens, Robin! You’ve got your point across!”

A few of the others chuckled at Tuck’s joke while he doubled up and slapped his thighs. I grinned, and John came up behind me and gave my back such a clout that I thought I would fly all the way to the sheriff's front door. I coughed, and that made the rest of the band laugh.

John pulled my hood up and yanked it over my face. “We’ll have to call you Hood,” he said, “Robin of the Hood, because you don’t have anything else to your name!”

I spluttered and grabbed his massive elbow. “And you, my friend, I now dub ‘Little John!’”

The men roared. The whole forest rang with the sound of us! And that gave me an idea.

I hopped up on the speaking log. I rested my hands on my bow until the chuckles died down.

“I have returned to a merry band indeed. And we shall merrily revolt!”

Cheers rose up and gave me the resolve I needed. I belonged here. We were together again, and we had more than enough spirit to get through the coming storms. Laughter had united us.

John raised his voice above the rest and bellowed, “Huzzah for Robin Hood and his very merry men!”


I received many hearty thumps and greetings then, and I became alarmed when a sudden hush fell on the group. I turned and saw a figure in a cloak and hat leading a black stallion out of the trees. I lifted my bow slightly and nocked another arrow. “Come no further, stranger! What is your business here?”

“I am no stranger, Sir Robin Hood of Sherwood.”

Marian! I sucked in my breath and tried to decide what I should do with my bow.

She lifted her chin and stepped out of the shadows. Her dark tresses fell over her shoulders and down her back, and under her velvet cloak she wore a dress of Lincoln green. She curtsied and briefly bowed her head. “Let me assure you, not all of your lively followers are men," she said. "You have at least one friend who shall fight for you in skirts." She drew out a light sword and held it up in a high salute. "Welcome home, Robin," she said, and smiled at me. The whole world could be lit with that smile! Oh, merry!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Quick Update

Sorry I haven't posted much lately. I'm feverishly planning my novel to be ready for NaNoWriMo (which starts in 10 days!), participating in an awesome contest* that authors Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper are having in anticipation of the release of their new book Curse of the Spider King, and I DO have lots of ideas for posts, but no time to put them up. So bear with me, and I'll be back this weekend with a couple of posts for the Maid Marian's Wardrobe event (see banner above).

*If you want to know more about the contest or the book, check out Wayne Thomas Batson's website at or the series website

Monday, October 5, 2009

Snapshots of My Autumn Life

A tree fell on our house a few days ago. The wind was pretty strong that day, and we didn't know it, but the limb was rotten. It made quite a clatter. I thought the cats had gotten into the dishes and broken a few, but alas, it was our maple. And I wanted to build a treehouse in that tree! I guess it's a good thing I didn't. (We made a movie instead.) The tree guys came and chopped it all up and put it through the TREE SHREDDER! *wince* Terrible. Just terrible. And they didn't stop there! Oh no, they had to cut down two other trees near our house! Of course, those were dead already, but I feel like we're losing trees right and left. Last time a storm came through we lost Gandalf and part of Treebeard (now he looks ever so much more like a real Ent).

Anyway, that's the pain of autumn storms.

A few nights ago was the first frost, so we raced down to the garden after dark to save the food! We covered my dad's (GIANT) pumpkins with cozy quilts and I picked my herbs. My dad also had a ton of tomatoes, so we filled two whole boxes of 'em and brought them indoors for safekeeping, a.k.a. canning. My mom has been busy making pizza sauce and salsa. And tonight we had sausage tortellini soup with fresh tomatoes and basil and parsley. Mmmm... perfect for cold weather!

I felt like taking a nap this afternoon, but when I climbed up my ladder to my loft bed, this is the sight that greeted me. Five innocent* cats had already claimed my bed, and there was no room left for me. So I was forced to lay on the couch instead. I know, I'm hopeless. I can't even fight off snoozing cats for my rightful place.


The muted colors of early autumn...

And last but not least, a makeshift cover I created for my upcoming Christian fantasy/sci-fi novel, Bluewillow, that I'm going to write for NaNoWriMo. More on this soon!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Are You Ready?

50,000 words. 30 days. It's coming... Will you be ready?

Join the fun! Write a novel!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Quick Tag...

Happy last day of September! Wow, this month has just zoomed by.

I've been tagged the Honest Scrap Award by... Jare & Lib, ElizabethMarieKauffman, and IvoryDancer! Thank you, all!

Here are the Rules:
1) Say thanks and give a link to the presenter of the award.
2) Share ten honest things about yourself.
3) Present this award to 7 others whose blogs you find brilliant in content and/or design, or those who have encouraged you.
4) Tell those 7 people that they've been awarded HONEST SCRAP and inform them of these guidelines in receiving.

1. I'm sort of a picky eater. I don't like meat, but I'm not a vegetarian, per se. Just picky.
2. Ever since my horse died, I've been reluctant to get back into horse stuff.
3. I'm procrastinating right now as I write this.
4. I don't have any "real life" friends besides my family. I wish I did.
5. I won blue and purple ribbons at the state fair in 4-H, for photography! *squee*
6. I've stopped reading The Bones of Makaidos. I don't know why, but I can't get into it like the other books.
7. I'm weak, but I'm trying my derndest to get stronger.
8. Acne is my worst enemy. Die, acne, die!
9. I always have trouble writing about the bad guys in my stories. They always seem cliché.
10. My eyes hurt when I use my computer, so I'm going to handwrite my novel this year!

Some bloggers who have inspired or encouraged me are:
6. My brother, DTH Rocket
7. And my sister, Hepzibah, who has three blogs.

Everyone, be sure to check out these awesome blogs!

Note: If you are one of the above and have already done this tag, you don't have to do it again. I'm just letting you know that I like your blog. :)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Archery at the State Shoot

This past weekend I participated in the 4-H State Shoot! Other years, my whole family has been involved in events from shotgun to the wildlife knowledge bowl, but this year, it was just me. I competed in the senior class for bare-bow, no sights or releases. I've always competed in this class, but this was the first time that I went with a recurve bow (I always used compound Genesis bows before), so I was both excited and nervous. Back to the way Robin Hood might have done it!

There were a LOT of kids there, from little fourth graders all the way up to graduates from high school (13th grade). I was put right next to kids with fancy compound bows equipped with sights and weights and all sorts of doo-dads so that they hardly look like bows anymore. At least I wasn't really competing against them, but they made my scores seem pitiful. I got 187-- not bad, and a lot better than I've been getting while practicing at home, but it didn't seem like much. 300 is a perfect score.

Anyway, we came back on Sunday to see where I placed and maybe attend the awards ceremony. I went up to the boards and scanned it carefully. I found my name and blinked rapidly a few times...

I got first place.

I just about fell over. Luckily, my parents were behind me. I checked again. Sure enough, my score was the highest in my category, and the next highest score was 145, not even close!

The only disappointment in the whole event was that I'm just a few months too old to go to nationals. And they're in Texas this year, too. *sigh* Oh, well. I had plenty of fun at State.

Now I just need to get my own bow, and I'd like to start working on my medieval dress, and if I could get my hands on some leather, maybe I could make a new quiver, belt, and arm-guards...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Musings on a Shy Grasshopper

This evening, while I was watering my white pine sapling, I saw the sun shining on the wet needles and I ran to get my camera. When I came back, I noticed that I had a guest. A grasshopper had taken up residence at the very top of my little tree. I tried taking a picture of him, but I soon discovered he was camera-shy! He kept moving around to the other side of the branch to hide from me. But I just walked in a circle around my tree until he finally stopped hiding and let me have a peek at him.

I'm not very fond of insects. Yet as I looked at this tiny, frightened grasshopper I saw beauty. The almighty God of the universe created and cares for all seemingly insignificant bugs because they please him and bring him glory. God knows how old this hopper is, and how many stripes are on his body, and what he sees with those dark eyes. God gave him a place to perch in a nice young tree, away from cars, robins, and other potential dangers. God provides food and water and warm weather, and the grasshopper lives to give God glory.

Jesus said, "Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!" and "Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you!" (Luke 12:24, 27-28)

I admit that I often feel about insects the way this grasshopper felt about me-- I'd rather just hide! But if God loves bugs, maybe they aren't so bad after all. And if God so cares for a tiny insect, how much more will he care for you and me!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A New Cover for My Novel!

I was out taking senior pictures for my brother and my cousin this afternoon, and towards the end of the day, we discovered a tunnel under Main Street and I instantly thought of my novel. I handed my camera to my brother and made him take MY picture for once, as I ran through the tunnel.
Then I brought it into Photoshop and played around with color, levels, and my new "tech" brushes. And voila, I became my main character, Kimble Haansvoy, STEW agent 1121!
(Click to see a really large version) What do you think?

Monday, August 31, 2009

An Award and a Tag and Good News

First off, MY LAPTOP IS FIXED!  *rejoicing in the streets* I had to pay dearly to get my precious data recovered, but now my trusty MacBook Pro is whizzing along fine with a new 500 GB hard drive. I have finally given it a name: Phoenix, because it rose from the ashes of computer purgatory.

And, I got my first award! This is The Artistic Writer's Award," from Bethany. It's beautiful, Bethany. Thank you!

And finally, I was tagged by Isirian. This is the "30 Things You Probably Don't Know About Me" tag. This excludes all family members who read my blog, by the way.
1. I'm an INFP (and proud of it!) Did you know that J.R.R. Tolkien was an INFP? And Peter Jackson, Helen Keller, Princess Diana, Anne of Green Gables, and Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes?
2. I hate driving. A lot. Why can't I ride a horse everywhere?
3. But, since driving is pretty much a requirement these days, the vehicle you'd most likely find me in is a Jeep Wrangler, preferably yellow.
4. I'm a reluctant night person.
5. For my birthday I'm going to ask for old books, a recurve bow, and leather.
6. I recently discovered that archery is not easy to do when you're wearing a cloak. How did Robin Hood manage? Or Faramir, for that matter?
7. I once met a yak.
8. The book I've read the most times is probably Peter Pan, by J. M. Barrie.
9. Besides piano and flute, I also play the ocarina.
10. At this moment, my cat is either happily sitting on my lap, or meowing at my bedroom door, or cranky because I'm not home.
11. I think it would be awesome to have a pet hedgehog, but my mom doesn't agree. Besides, my cat would  probably get jealous.
12. I'm not strictly a cat person, by the way. I also love dogs, horses, flying squirrels, birds, and pretty much everything except spiders.
13. I have a crooked toe.
14. I like to whittle sticks into Beanie Baby swords.
15. I was unable to whistle until I was 14 years old. I discovered how while walking the streets of Washington, D.C. in the rain.
16. I can touch my right ear with my right hand, but with my arm all the way around my head.
17. I love languages- and all forms of communication except the telephone.
18. I tried the Harry Potter series, but quit after book five. Pointless to keep going, really.
19. I'm a shelver at the library. A lot of people know that already, but what they don't know is what REALLY goes on there. For example, did you know that the library is only a cover for a top secret government operation, and that most librarians are actually undercover FBI agents? My mission is to infiltrate the underground network and make sure that a certain book makes it to the 8oo's. Now you know why I keep my identity a secret!
20. I like to name trees.
21. My brother and I like to play "The Random Game." Rules: You take turns blurting out random words that are NOT related to each other. It's harder and funner than it sounds.
21. I am deathly afraid of bees. 
22. I can read and write Anglo-Saxon Runes, also known as "futhark."
23. I wish I could fly.
24. I used to always use a pencil, but I was finally lured over to the dark side. I now use black gel pens for almost everything, even drawing! 
25. I sometimes worry that I have too many interests.
26. I've written over 430,000 words of fiction.
27. I'm a Mac person. My mom calls me a Mac "snob." How can I help it if Mac is the best?
28. I have too many story ideas to know what to do with. I can't possibly write them all!
29. I like my middle name. I modified it to use as my main character's name.
30. I am enrolled in the Imagination Institute of Creative Arts and Self-Directed Studies. In other words, no, I'm not really going to college, but I'm learning all the same. :)

And, a special BONUS, because this is my 31st post:
31. I'm planning a new trilogy, and this time, it's going to be Christian Fantasy!

I now tag Hepzibah, my little sis!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The First Chapter of My Novel

While I anxiously wait for word about my computer, I'm letting you have a sneak peak at my book, The Shadow of Rebellion. I was in the process of revising and editing it when my computer stopped working, but I printed out the first two chapters before the big crash, so I didn't lose all of my hard work. Please read and comment!

Some background: The Shadow of Rebellion is the sequel to my first completed novel, The Shadow of Greed, a science fiction/spy adventure about a secret academy that trains elite warriors for the galactic government, and how two students are targeted by assassins when they discover a sinister plot. (If you click on the link, you can purchase it at I wrote the first draft of the sequel last November, and it ended up at about 100,000 words-- the longest thing I've ever written.

Note that while these books aren't explicitly "Christian," they were written by one. I brought up themes that are important to me, such as loyalty, family, truth, and sacrifice. Now, without further ado, Chapter One!

The Shadow of Rebellion

Chapter 1

Kimble struggled against the grabbing mud at her heels. Panic overruled her senses and she gasped in the darkness. They were coming for her! She couldn't run. She couldn't scream. In a wild spasm she broke free and her hand fell on fabric.

A sheet, damp with sweat.

She closed her fist around it and forced herself to breathe in, though the sour air caught in her throat and made her gag.

Light. She unclenched her fingers from the sheet to turn on the lamp. The closet door loomed across from her, draped with a clean uniform. Her roommate's pets shifted in their cages on the wall. Dilly's bed was next to hers, empty.

"Dilly?" she whispered.

No answer.

Kimble shivered. She slipped out of her clammy bed and itched her elbow. Dilly was not in the room. No one was supposed to leave their room after curfew, and Dilly always abided by the rules. She must have had a good reason to risk her good reputation.

Had she left because of Kimble's nightmares? Her dreams often caused her to groan and call out, and Dilly was a light sleeper. Kimble winced and sank to the end of the bed.

The door broke open with a bang. Kimble jerked her head up. Dilly jumped inside and fumbled with the lock for a long moment before it finally clicked shut.

Her friend's face was in shadow, but her sharp breathing betrayed her. Fear ducked into the room.

"What's wrong?" Kimble asked urgently.

Dilly didn't answer right away. She hurried over to her wall of animal cages and knelt in front of one of the smaller doors. She gently pulled out a snoring ball of fluff, which she held to her cheek.

"Dilly--" Kimble began, folding her arms.

Dilly slumped on her bed. "Someone is creeping around the halls out there," she said at last.

Kimble sat up straighter. "What? What are you talking about?"

Dilly looked away. "I-- I couldn't sleep, so I just went out in the hall to stretch my legs. But all the lights went out, and then I heard someone sneak past me in the dark! I'm sure they were up to no good." She twisted her fingers in the animal's long fur.

Kimble frowned. "All the lights went out? That is strange. They're supposed to be hard-wired..." She got up and opened the door.

Sure enough, darkness filled the hall. Kimble looked both ways. To the right, she could see a distant cross-hall with the ceiling panels glowing as usual, but on the left, the hall faded into black. "Weird. No one should have been able to turn them off," she whispered.

Dilly came up behind her, still stroking her pet frantically. "And what about the person I heard?"

"I'll check it out. It was probably just another student, out to stretch her legs or something."

"In the dark?"

Kimble shrugged. "There's got to be a reasonable explanation. Don't worry about it. I'll be right back." She snatched her gun off the dresser and slipped into the silent hall, and began to run. She trailed her fingertips on one wall to guide her, but she couldn't see where her feet hit the floor.

When she came to an intersection, she stopped to catch her breath. Both halls were pitch black. She strained her ears, but her pounding heart drove away all other possible sounds.

Then the lights suddenly blazed to life. Kimble covered her eyes with her palms and groaned. She had to find out what was going on. She had to get to the utility room. She blinked a few times in the intense light, then turned and ran again.

It was odd to be out at this hour, when all the STEW agents slept and all the halls were empty. She felt as exposed as a crater on the moon. She almost wished the lights would go out again and hide her.

When she reached the heavy door to the utility room, she was dismayed to find it locked. She rattled the handle and tried a code in the keypad, but the door refused to budge. She had forgotten to bring her computer unit, so she couldn't pick the lock. She turned and found a woman staring at her. A hall monitor.

"Agent 1121, is it?" the woman said. Her eyes narrowed. "What are you doing? Don't you know the rules? You ought to by now."

"The lights went out in my hall, and I came to check it out." Kimble swallowed. It sounded so trivial now.

The monitor rolled her eyes. "The lights cannot be changed. Even the Headmaster can't turn them off. They're designed to stay on always, even during emergencies."

"Of course I know that, but somehow they were turned off. I was going to check the computer system to see if anyone had hacked into it. Someone was sneaking around the halls--"

"Yes, I noticed," the monitor said, and frowned at Kimble. "You will receive a warning this time, but next time I find you wandering about past curfew, you won't get off so easily."

"But I was just trying to find out what was wrong! At least let me see the utility system!" Kimble hated pleading with the smug monitor, but she had to know what was going on.

The monitor jangled her keys. "I don't have to let you in there. In fact, I shouldn't. I should march you right back to your room and stand guard outside the door."

Kimble clenched her fists. It was all she could do to hold back a sharp reply.

The monitor sighed and motioned Kimble out of the way. She grumbled as she fiddled with the lock until it clicked and the door shifted.

Kimble pushed past the monitor and entered the humming room. She bent over the main computer screen.

The monitor leaned against the wall and folded her arms. "Well?"

Kimble scanned the utility files. Nothing was out of place. The computer registered that the lights were on the entire time. "Whoever it was must have hacked into the computer system," she said. "And they covered their tracks completely."

"Face it, girl, you dreamed it," scoffed the monitor. "The lights can't be turned off."

Kimble shook her head. "I'm not the only one who saw it." She logged out and turned away from the computer.

"Then I'll have to report that several students are experiencing hallucinations. I always knew the pressure was too much around here. Maybe final exams did you in." The monitor leaned forward. A hint of sympathy creased her forehead for a moment, but it was soon covered with contempt. "Maybe I'll be next. Everyone knows I have way too much to deal with in the middle of the night."

Kimble tapped her gun on the wall and glared at the monitor. "I'll talk to the administrator about it tomorrow. This isn't normal."

"You're just paranoid. Now go to your room and don't come back out!"

Kimble watched the hall monitor secure the room again. There was nothing more she could do tonight. She could only go back to bed and hope that her nightmares stayed away for the rest of the night.


Kimble focused on her opponent. His lanky form made it difficult to pin him down, and he enjoyed taunting her with glib remarks about her height. He wasn't more than an inch and a half taller, but he was also growing like a vine. He would end up a giant, most likely, and he knew it.

Still, he was several years younger and overly confident. Easy prey.

He dove towards her with his knife extended. She batted him aside as if he were only a rowdy kitten, and hooked his ankle with her boot. He sprawled on the mat at her feet. She touched the tip of her knife to his ear. "Nice try, wise guy," she said. "Your feet are as big as your mouth."

He groaned. "Why do I have to be so clumsy?" He rubbed his shin and frowned.

"I've got to get back to my exams, Danny. We'll practice again tomorrow." Kimble sheathed her weapon.

"Aw, can't we do it just one more time?" His gray eyes grew large. "Please?"

"Sorry, can't do that. I've got to graduate first." She grinned. She was ready to move on to bigger missions as a level five agent. No more decoding endless documents and training first-year students.

Her computer unit buzzed. What now? She glanced at it. An emergency meeting had been called for only select students, and she was ordered to come to the conference room at once.

She looked back at her pupil. Danny was still sitting on the mat, picking at his boot-laces. She snatched up her shoulder bag and dashed out the door without another word to him.

She ran through the halls of the STEW Academy, her bag thumping against her leg every step of the way. A secret meeting! Could this be about a new mission?

She slowed as she passed the library, next to the conference room. Several other STEW agents were already standing in the hall. She stepped towards them, but someone grabbed her arm. "Kimble! Wait!" It was her brother, Angle. She allowed him to pull her into a corner of the library entrance.

"What's going on?" Kimble demanded.

Angle looked into the hall. More agents were gathering by the conference room. "It's about the meeting," he said. "I talked to Banu already. He's really upset." His gaze flickered between her and the other agents.

Kimble put her hands on her hips. "And?"

He rubbed his face. "He wants you to lead a team of agents--"

"That's good news, isn't it?" Kimble said eagerly. "I've been hoping for something like this!"

"No... you don't understand." He closed his eyes. "The M2 document. It's been stolen."

Kimble grimaced. She turned away from him and leaned against the wall. "Great," she muttered. "Just great."

"I know you've been in charge of that project since the Headmaster was arrested," Angle said from the shadows.

"So, it's my responsibility to get it back, right?" Kimble clenched her teeth. "Oh, this is wonderful."

Angle put a hand on her shoulder. She shrugged it off. Then she lifted her head and started towards the meeting room across the hall, but Angle grabbed her again.

"That's not all," he said. "There's something else you need to know."

Kimble folded her arms.

"The document disappeared last night, so few clues have turned up already, but the preliminary evidence points to a notorious thief called 'The Slippery One,' named so for his uncanny ability to slip in and out of the most high-security government institutions without ever getting caught. He escapes without a trace every time."

"And what does all that have to do with me?" she challenged.

Angle's electric eyes locked with hers. "The Slippery One is our father."