Friday, December 31, 2010

Thoughts on Starting a Blog Reading Project

This post is inspired by a blogger I've been following who chronicles his way through his reading and viewing experiences on his blog. I've found the experience to be pretty cool, and thought it might be a good project for me to try.

Basically what happens is I pick a book, read a chapter a day (more or less, and write a blog post about it. You all are invited to read along with me, or (if it's something you've read before) simply enjoy my reactions to the material.

(Don't worry, I'd continue my posts on other topics as well)

I'd like to start with a book I have some familiarity with... there's really no end of options but I would love some reader input on this project.

Titles that I'm considering...

Chesterton's "Orthodoxy"
Lewis's "Mere Christianity"
Lauren Winner's "Girl Meets God"
Anne Lamott's "Bird by Bird"
Jane Austen's "Persuasion"

The first three are all reflections on theology, the fourth is on Writing (and by a Christian) and the fifth is, of course, a novel. They're all more or less equal length, although Persuasion has itty-bitty chapters so I'd probably have to do more than one per day.

Thoughts? What would you like to see me read? Why?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Steampunk and 1920's

Can't stop me from coloring! It's just so fun... I love designing clothing.

Anyhow, the first dress was supposed to be something for Lucy in VotDT (since they annoying only gave her boy clothes in the movie). However it decided to become Steampunk instead, so Steampunk I give you. I'll have to try Lucy again another day.

This is supposed to be 1920's. I think it ended up looking a bit more like an Irish Dance costume.

Doctor Who Christmas Special 2010

It's Christmas Eve and Rory and Amy are on their honeymoon cruise... only catch? Their ship is a space ship and it's careening out of control and due to crash into the nearest planet. It's up to the Doctor to save them. Only instead of fighting aliens or monsters, the Doctor is up against a cranky old man who could just about double for Ebeneezer Scrooge's twin.

Kazran is the old crank who controls the skies. A flick of a button could save the ship and 4003 people, but Kazran could care less. The Doctor realizes that persuasion is no good, and to change Kazran's heart he is going to have to influence the old man... in the past.

That's right. Christmas Special 2010 is a retelling of "A Christmas Carol" and does a spectacular job. In fact it could very easily be considered one of the most beautiful, heartwarming and romantic Doctor Who story ever (even the recent "Vincent and the Doctor" and "The Lodger" don't carry quite the same poignancy). It's a Christmas Special that actually feels like Christmas - something that has been lacking from most of the recent specials. It is beautifully and exquisitely filmed and absolutely a joy to watch.

In many ways it recalls to me the Doctor Who episode "The Girl in the Fireplace" which was also written by Stevan Moffat. It has the emotion and character without the horror, and follows the same formula of romance through time. And though I am still a staunch David Tennent fan, it's no chore to recognize that Matt Smith grows stronger with each episode.

The rest of the cast is brilliant as well. Michael Gambon graces the production with his brilliance as Kazran, and performer Katherine Jenkins brings her ethereal voice to the part of Abigail (the romantic interest). The actors portraying young Kazran do a great job as well, especially the adorable Laurence Belcher as the youngest version.

Indeed, this special has become perhaps my absolute favorite, with only "The End of Time" giving it any rivalry.

I had my worries about Moffat as the head of the show, but this special on top of the last episodes of season 5 have given me complete confidence in him.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Snow Forts and Ginger

Remember all that snow I mentioned a week ago? Well it keeps piling up. Yesterday I decided enough was enough, and we needed to put all this white stuff to good use. So my sister and I called up a couple friends and we had a grand old time of shoveling and sculpting snow today.

Spraying color

Snow Graffiti

A Feline Intruder

Looking up

For a bit of extra fun, we mixed food coloring with water and loaded it into spray bottles.

It's always good to spend some time being creative and active in the fresh air.


Now about that ginger...

Normally I drink a lot of peppermint tea. I have stomach troubles and need all the calming help I can get. However my current issues need ginger, not peppermint, so I had to devise a way to get a lot of ginger into me first thing in the morning.

Turns out it's not hard to make ginger tea. All you have to do is grate fresh ginger, stick it in a tea bag and steep in hot water. I add a bit of lemon flavored stevia to make it truly delicious.

Monday, December 27, 2010

I&F January Cover

Somehow it turned out to be picture week here at the blog. Post #2 of today is a preview of the cover for January's edition of Ink and Fairydust. I had fun going a bit more on the artistic side for this cover, blending the themes of winter coping methods and poetry into a striking black and white cover.

And I'm quite excited about my short story for this issue. It's called "A Poetical Conversation" and is a completely fantastical exploration of what might have happened if the Shelleys, Byron, Poe, Charlotte Bronte and Robert Frost were thrown together on a rainy night. It was really fun to write and I can't wait for all of you to read it on January 1st!

Green Renaissance Dress

The Wacom is addicting! Here is finished project #2, and you can see that I'm gaining more control already. I had fun adding the pattern to the bodice and sleeves -- a simple copy and paste makes things soooo much faster!

UPDATE: This page keeps getting tons of hits so apparently it's a popular design! Thanks to all of you viewers for showing interest!

I just thought I'd let you all know that this design is available to custom order for $100. If you'd like to commission it, just send me an e-mail at elenatintil [at] gmail [dot] com.

You can find more of my costume and clothing designs here!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Testing out the Wacom

So for Christmas I received a Wacom drawing tablet -- something I've been wanting for quite some time. Still getting the hang of it, and this is my first completed project.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

One Small Child

I'd like to share one of my new favorite Christmas Carols with you all...

One Small Child

By David Meece

One small child in a land of a thousand
One small dream of a Savior tonight
One small hand reaching out to the starlight
One small city of life

One king bringing his gold and his riches
One king ruling an army of might
One king kneeling with incense and candlelight
One King bringing us life

See Him lying, a cradle beneath Him
See Him smiling in the stall
See His mother praising His Father
See His tiny eyelids fall

One small light from the flame of a candle
one small light from a city of might
one small light from the stars in the endless night
one small light from a face

See the shepherds kneeling before Him
See the kings on bended knee
See His mother praising His Father
See the Blessed Infant sleep.

One small Child in a land of a thousand
One small dream in a people of might
One small hand reaching out to the starlight
One small Savior of Life

It's hard to find recordings that properly convey the beauty of this song, however here are two that I found. I really suggest listening to both.

Choir, traditional

Solo, slightly remixed

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

POTC: On Stranger Tides - Trailer Transcript!

My awesome friend Meg took the time to type up a transcript for me! She also is allowing me to post it here, in case anyone else is having trouble catching the dialogue.

Thanks again so very much, Megs!

Jack (Voice Over): Death lies before us as we sail to the Fountain of Youth

Random Guy: (Voice Over) You could guide an expedition.

King (I think?): You ARE Jack Sparrow?

Jack: There should be a 'Captain' in there somewhere.

Gibbs: I hear a rumor...Jack Sparrow was in London, looking for help (?) to find the Fountain of Youth.

Jack's dad: Don't be a fool, Jackie. The Fountain will test you.

Jack: Was that really necessary?

Barbossa: Gentlemen? The Fountain is the prize!

Crew: YEAH! (hahaha.....)

Barbossa (Voice Over): Mermaid waters, that be our path.

Angelica: Steady as she goes!

Gibbs (Voice Over): What's your play, Jack?

Jack: I thought I should give you warning when taking a ship. Nothing personal

Angelica: *Babbles off in Spanish* (hahaha...)

Jack: I just think you should.....*gulps at the sword* Stay out of it.

Jack: There will be dangers along the way. Firstly, mermaids, zombies, Blackbeard....the pirate all pirates fear.

Blackbeard: If I don't make it to the Fountain, neither will you.


Blackbeard: Is that it?

Jack: I think so.

Barbossa: Are we not King's Men?

Angelica: How is it that we can never meet without you pointing something at me?

Gibbs: There's the Jack I know.

Jack: You know that feeling you get when you're standing in a high place with a sudden urge to jump? I don't have it. (HAHA!)

Jack: Did everyone see that? Because I will NOT be doing it again!

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides -- Trailer Play-by-Play

So the busyness of life has kept me from commenting on the new trailer for POTC4 that came out last week. However I now bring you a play by play of my reactions...

...however you'll see that I'm severely limited by not having captions here, as I have pretty much no idea what anyone is saying. So if you know of or wouldn't mind typing up a quick transcript of the lines, I'd be eternally grateful!

0:11 -- a skeleton in front of a ship. Creepy -- and new. I don't think I've ever seen that one used before?

0:20 -- Penelope Cruz!

0:22 -- Barbossa looking... very un-Barbossa with a new hat and fancy clothes. He's supposed to be a privateer working for the Crown in this film... too bad he lost his cool pirate clothes for the ice cream cone look.

0:29 -- and Jack is sitting in a nice fancy room for the first time in the franchise... talking to someone high up. The King?

0:32 -- why does London always look gray in period films? The industrial revolution hadn't really started yet, so some sunlight would be cool... but otherwise it's a nice shot.

0:33 -- they're dragging Jack? Who dares to DRAG Jack? ... okay and why is he in London in the first place? Looking for Barbossa to get the map to the Fountain of Youth? Would having a transcript enlighten me at all here?

0:34 -- Gibbs is back! Hurrah!!!! :) :) :)

0:37 -- eww, wading through THAT really does not look like fun.

0:38 -- Capt'n Teague is back!

0:42 -- HAHAHA! The look on Jack and Barbossa's faces...and they're facing a swarm of angry soldiers, as usual.

0:47 -- oooh, finally a decent pirate peg leg in the series! (This is Blackbeard, right? right?)

0:49 -- Who are the fancy Brit dudes? Anyone important? What is Barbossa saying? I want a transcript...

0:50 -- Ooooooh... mermaids! With long floating gauze all around them... or are those some weird sort of fins???

0:51 -- okay, that girl is PRETTY! Who is she? A mermaid, right? She looks forlorn and distressed. How does she play into the story?

0:53 - Penelope Cruz again! Oh isn't she great? The way she talks... the expression... the hat! Love her.

0:58 -- Jack and Penelope (her character has got a name but no one cares about it yet) arguing!

1:02 -- HA! Never shut the door on a woman, Jack. Especially not an angry one.

1:07 -- this cave looks very intriguing. The slant of it is just... very visually interesting.

1:08 -- okay, those hands are beyond creepy.

1:12 -- and of course here come the evil seductive mermaids...

1:13 -- are these the zombies? Cuz they're disgusting, but not nearly disgusting as most zombies are.

1:16 -- Ian McShane as Blackbeard! Huzzah!

1:16b -- someone jumps overboard with a rope tied to him. Diving after someone?

1:19-- guy with rope comes back up. Huh? It looked like it was in response to Blackbeard's commanding posture. Is that just a deceiving trailer edit, or does Blackbeard have mystical powers?

1:21 -- Ian McShane talking... oh man, the guy is just so awesome!

1:22 -- scary knife thudding into table.

1:23 -- is it just me, or does this young guy look like Will Turner 2.0? At any rate, he's cute and I wonder if he's just a random face or someone who will actually play a significant role in the story?

1:24 -- and of course they follow cute young guy by cute young girl that I commented on earlier, which of course leads me to link them together in my mind and wonder if there's a romance here. But question -- this young girl was pretty obviously a mermaid earlier, right? So how is she on dry land now, in properly dressed clothes? Well, whoever she is, she really is intriguing me here!

1:25 -- scary mermaid attack!

1:27 -- oh Jack... it's so funny when you scream like a little girl.

1:30 -- "Is that it?" (that's what he said, right?) Oh so awesome!

1:35 -- Jack doing his usual tipsy... on top of a moving carriage. Guess that's new.

1:38 -- Penelope Cruz kicks butt! Yehaw!

1:40 -- whoa... that's either a jet engine, a double explosion, or dual fireballs...

1:47 -- awwww, I just love the Jack/Penelope Cruz pairing already... *sighs happily*

1:50 -- okay, the hat tip was a cute move.

1:53 -- Am I not already enough of a Jack/Penelope shipper that you had to put more cool pairing stuff in???

1:54 -- more evil seductive mermaids.

1:58 -- so quick I can barely catch it, but I think it's the cute young guy and gal again... and there's a trapped-in-flooding-room component.

2:04 -- HAHAA -- Jack hanging from a chandelier!

Overall this trailer makes me even more excited for the film. But I really, really want to know what they're saying!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

It's hard to even know how to begin this post. I've read so many reviews and so many things have already been said... and it hasn't even been an hour since I finished the film so I wonder if any feelings will change...

...yet at the same time I want to share with you all what it feels to walk out of the Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Because it really is more than a movie -- it's an experience.

I've always been in love with Dawn Treader. For a long long time it was my favorite of the Narnia books. "Horse and His Boy" took over first place eventually, and now I'm not sure I actually have a favorite, but Dawn Treader remains very, very close to my heart.

So these last few years have been rather traumatic. I knew after LWW and PC that it was nearly impossible that we'd see a faithful adaptation on the big screen. Reports that came in over the filming period varied between exciting and distressing.

Same with the trailers, reviews, and fan reports. I kept going back and forth between extremes, wondering and second guessing and fearing...

When I went into the theatre today, I had low expectations. I knew this was the best way to enjoy a film -- don't expect anything so that whatever is good will truly thrill you.

I knew they were going to condense the Islands and change the orders. I knew they were going to have silly green mist and swords. I know there would be no Ramandu, and no wedding of Caspian and Liliandil. I knew Gael was going to be an annoying and pointless addition in pursuit of cutsyness.

And I'm really glad I knew all this. Because I was able to process them ahead of time and move past them to truly enjoy the film. Do I think they were all wise decisions? No. I still don't really see why they couldn't put Ramandu in and cut Gael out. Condensing the Islands probably was necessary, but it did make for a bit of an over-packed middle. The green mist and the swords were actually done better than I expected, and while not the route I would have chosen, I found myself forgiving that change. The absence of the wedding was probably unavoidable as there isn't a good way to portray that without a narrator and of course Eustace couldn't have done that. All I can really hope for is that they'll include that romance and wedding in flashbacks in SC.

That said.

Everything else was brilliant. The Islands were gorgeous and each perfectly unique. All five of the main characters (Lu, Ed, Caspian, Eustace and Reep) got what I felt was fair screen time. The acting was better than the previous films, and the character arcs were far better picked and handled.

The costumes were gorgeous -- I only wish we could have seen Lucy in girl clothing because her dresses would have been breathtaking. However Caspian's amazing jerkins and vests and coats nearly made up for this. I love the way they dressed him!

The sets were wonderful. I wish I could actually step into the cabin on the Dawn Treader -- at the very least I wish they'd release prints of the paintings on the walls. The little glimpse we got of them was absolutely wonderful!

The cameos of Susan and Peter were done very well. I felt it added a nice connecting touch, but did not at all distract from the main story.

The relationship between Reep and Eustace was slightly restructured from the book, but completely for the better.

Reep himself was very well done, given much better characterization than in PC.

I loved how they expanded on Lucy's insecurity over her looks. It was something that was definitely in the book and a perfect theme to elaborate on.

It's a little sad that the mention of Susaspian gets about as much time as the little hint at romance between Liliandil and Caspian. However it provides nice continuity between movies and the way they wrote it made it pretty clear that Caspian does not just jump from one girl to another as some of the fans feared would appear after the Susan flirtation.

The battle with the sea serpent was quite epic, though the serpent itself was nothing like I imagined. And the whole "splitting open" thing was weird... but it was great to see the characters get to fight so heroically -- especially Ed!

Also, I loved how after Caspian gave his little speech before Dark Island, he started to step down, but was caught off guard by the cheers of the sailors... he's not used to being a King, even now, but his self-depreciation and humility makes him all the better.

Oooh, little things... I loved that the Magicians book contained the spells mentioned in the novel... and that they mentioned the changing constellations, and the water growing sweet...

And Reep's coracle! The entire ending is absolutely wonderful and that nod to the coracle was just so sweet...

The ending. The beautiful ending. When Aslan spoke it sent chills down my spine. When the children went back to England I started getting misty-eyed.

"Am I going to cry? No... I can't..."

and then the door closed and the Pauline Baynes Illustrations came up in the credits. The tears started then. You see, I've always adored the Baynes illustrations, and wished that the movies would follow her styles closer... so to see those drawings so unexpectedly like that just filled me with nostalgia and gratitude for the beautiful homage.

I didn't bawl. I actually had two identical tears run down on either side of my face -- the sort of perfect tears that never happen in real life. My sister happened to glance over and said afterwards "you really had those perfect movie tears!"

So Dawn Treader... probably my favorite Narnia movie so far. And I sincerely hope you all will go out and see it again and again, because I now think they could actually pull off a pretty spectacular "Silver Chair" and I'd really love to see it.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

An Education (Mine, not the movie)

My life seems to be one big example of never planning anything in detail. Not because details are bad (I think they are very very good), but because God always seems to come in and change everything. Perhaps a better way to say this would be "never get attached to your life plans."

I had a plan once. That plan was to finish my English Literature and Writing degree before my 21st birthday. I was on the track to do it too. Then a lot of things happened and my whole life turned upside down and suddenly I had absolutely no use for college anymore.

"Goodbye college. You're silly and absolutely not right for me and just forget you!"

Or something like that.

It was an unusual decision, but so absolutely what I needed to do and I do not regret that decision. In the years since I left school I've been able to direct a play, costume a musical, be in another musical; write, direct and produce a feature length film; nanny and tutor the children of my favorite author for three months; finish a novel and start submitting it for publication; start an e-magazine that is well into it's second year; start a costuming business; and learn so many invaluable life lessons.

I thought I finally had everything together. It wasn't going to be easy, but I had a life plan.


Seven weeks ago God started laying a certain university on my heart. It was a school that a friend of mine had nearly gone too, and where I have a cousin currently enrolled. It was also in a location where I had pretty much vowed never to live. But for some reason I felt really, really strongly that I needed to check this school out.

So one morning I went online and did research. Lo and behold but this school had exactly the right major for me. Apparel Design.

See the one thing I had learned over the years away from school was that if I ever (for some bizarre reason) went back, I absolutely had to do a hands on major. This Apparel Design major fit the bill exactly.

After that everything started falling in place. I discussed the idea with my parents and grandparents and they were 110% in support of it. It surprised them all, but they saw the wisdom of it and of course were thrilled that I was considering going back to school.

So just a few weeks later we went up to visit the school. It was absolutely amazing. We loved the campus, and we were floored by how wonderful all the people were that we met. I came home and immediately the college started peppering me with handwritten notes. I had applied the day after our return, so every day I would check the mail box and find another piece of mail telling me how they hoped I would consider their school... but all I wanted was my acceptance letter!

(It was, however, pretty amazing when the head of the Apparel department sent me a handwritten note. THAT one is going in my keep-forever box.)

Then, this Monday, the letter arrived.

So next fall I am going back to college! It's going to be crazy, awesome, challenging and adventurous! And I absolutely cannot wait! all I have to do is apply for Scholarships and work like crazy so I can actually afford it. But I have complete confidence that God is going to lead me through this, because it is completely his plan, not mine.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Star Wars on the Subway

This is absolutely hilarious! A group staged a Star Wars scene on the New York Subway.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Love, Snow, Christmas and Revolutions

I woke up this morning wondering why they call it "falling in love." I guess we're so used to the phrase that we can associate the feeling with the anaology... but is it really the most apt description? In my experience, it tends to be more like "getting dragged kicking and screaming into love." Well maybe that's a bit absurb but falling doesn't seem to really describe the crazyness of love.

For the record, no, I'm not in love with anyone right now. Which is probably why I feel like I can actually comment on it.

Remember my post last week about snow? Well, most of you have probably heard that this weekend the midwest was blasted by what many of us are calling snowmageddon. Airports were closed down, ACTs were canceled, and at least one state DOT told drivers to stay off the roads on Saturday night.

I and my family all survived safe and sound. Our area actually got less snow than the majority of our state. It was fierce and windy and COLD, but in terms of amount of snow it didn't top (or even come close to reaching) the knee high dumping I experienced in Virginia last year.

Christmas celebrating begins. We had our first family get-together yesterday at my grandmother's lovely decorated house. My sister was in charge of the decorations there and it looked absolutely marvelous. They put timed electric candles to good use, which means at around 4:30-5:00 every day the candles come on and remain on for 6-7 hours. Rather brilliant, I think. (Even though I of course prefer real candles to fake ones)

Today is a doctor-and-errands day. I'm hoping to get back home before too long so that I can get to work on finishing up my red and black party dress. I have an order coming in for a regency coat, and after that's finished it looks like my sister will be comissioning me to do her prom dress. She found a sketch in my notebook that she absolutely loves and I'm really excited to have a chance to make it. Pictures coming soon!

Speaking of my sister, I have to proudly say that she just got cast in a production of "A Tale of Two Cities." This happens to be one of my very favorite classics so of course I'm absolutely thrilled about it.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Ben Barnes was almost Edward Cullen.

Read the Scoop here.

I completely understand the not mixing franchises thing. But the age thing makes no sense. Ben totally looks younger than Rob Pattinson. I also think Ben is better looking -- Rob just looks freaky as Edward (although I did like him as Cedric in Harry Potter 4).

As far as acting goes? I have no idea. Neither one of the young men have done hardly any other films besides Twilight and Narnia. I've seen Ben in "Easy Virtue" and Rob Pattinson in "Remember Me" and just based on those, I'd have to say that Rob is the better actor. However I really do not like the way he plays Edward (laughably at times), still, it's impossible to know whether that is Rob's fault, or direction/writing. Would Ben have been a better Edward? I definitely would have enjoyed him more but that's only personal opinion.

Leaving aside the shocking idea of "Prince Caspian as Edward Cullen!" -- who do you think would have really been the best actor for the part?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

From ScreenCrave

Click the link above to see the rest of the first pictures!

I have to be honest, when I first heard they were doing a fourth 'Pirates' film, I thought they were crazy. Films 2 and 3 had their good parts, but were definitely overall seen as less than equal to the first. Let it rest, right?

But when they brought Penelope Cruz onto the project, I began to grow hopeful. Cruz won my respect and liking in the action film "Sahara" where she played a strong, but sensitive and likable young woman. With the right writing, she could be an absolutely perfect match for Jack Sparrow -- and seriously think she could handle playing opposite him romantically. Don't trust me? Rent Sahara today.

Wikipedia's synopsis quotes a Disney Press release saying:

Captain Jack Sparrow crosses paths with a woman from his past (Penélope Cruz), and he's not sure if it's love—or if she's a ruthless con artist who's using him to find the fabled Fountain of Youth. When she forces him aboard the Queen Anne's Revenge, the ship of the formidable pirate Blackbeard (Ian McShane), Jack finds himself on an unexpected adventure in which he doesn't know whom to fear more: Blackbeard or the woman from his past.
—Disney's press release[4]

I think this looks intriguing and also leaves the romantic aspect up in the air which I think is appropriate.

And then there's Ian McShane.

I recently took the time to watch the first season of the show "Kings" on Hulu. It has it's ups and downs, but the shining center of it is Ian McShane who plays the King Saul character. He is an absolutely brilliant actor, who can play conflicted good/evil in a way that always keeps you guessing. I am in awe of his abilities and am absolutely thrilled to see that he is coming on to Pirates to play Blackbeard. If anyone can handle a legendary character like that, it's McShane.

Plus we're getting a glimpse at London, and even King George II (hands up for anyone who has EVER seen ANY film containing this George before). Furthermore the king is going to be played by Richard Griffiths who is a fairly prolific British actor (most of you will know him best as Uncle Vernon in Harry Potter, although he's also done BBC work such as the 2005 Bleak House).

And then they're talking about mermaids... which as long as they aren't done too immodestly or sensually, could be a really interesting plot twist.

So yes, I'm excited now. This film has quite a lot going for it and may possibly end up being another hit.

Just no more weird sea goddesses or overly-crazy Jack, please! Jack is best when he's odd, but not brain-falling-out crazy....

Further of my movie musings are available to read here.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Blog Revamp

I've been meaning to do this for awhile. Get an actual picture of meaningful things to create my header with. My last header was functional and I loved the new layout, but it just didn't fully convey the proper tone that I wanted my readers to get when they first entered my site.

Hence the new header. It's a special one, as everything that appears in it has some special value.


Bible - this is the ESV Bible my parents bought for me as a teenager. It's a very nice one and is the one I intend to have for the rest of my life.

CS Lewis's "Till we Have Faces" - Lewis is one of my favorite authors, and I love this book. It is so beautiful and filled with layer upon layer of messages and meaning.

"When Knighthood was in Flower" - first of all it is just beautiful, and secondly it is representative of my lifelong fascination for Tudor England. It's also an antique copy of a story I'd looked for over many years unsuccessfully -- you can read the full story at the bottom of this post.

Sense and Sensibility - I love Austen in general, but S&S has some of the most personal meanings to me.

The flowers - I save and dry most of the flowers and all of the roses I receive. It's getting a little hard to keep track of which is which, but I believe this are birthday flowers from my 19th and possibly 21st birthdays.

The teapot - My friendship with Regina Doman produced a real appreciation of tea. To facilitate this, my sister gave me this gorgeous teapot for Christmas two years ago. I could not have picked a pot that suited me better -- even if I could have had it custom made.

The scarf in the background - a design I love picked out by my mother. It's the sort of scarf that dresses up anything elegantly. (And I just love black and white)

You'll notice I dropped the SOTB quote. Sad to do so, but I wanted to make the focus of the blog visible immediately upon entry. Perhaps I'll figure out how to work the quote in somewhere else.

So... thoughts? Does this work? Could I make anything clearer? Are the tabs organized coherently?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Gilmore Girls

Time to start those TV reviews I promised! I've decided to go in chronological order, starting with the show I got into first. Which is, of course, the brilliant, sparkling and witty,

Gilmore Girls.

The premise of the show is the close friendship between single-mother Lorelai (Lauren Graham) and her daughter Rory (Alexis Bledel). Best friends, confidants, and full of hilarious comments for every occasion, they are the heart and soul of the show.

Rory is shy, bookish, very smart, and not always sure of how to handle herself socially. Lorelai is vivacious, mischievous, and can talk anyone into anything. The two of them create a walking encyclopedia of every movie ever made.

The series begins with Rory's acceptance to Chilton, an elite private school. In order to pay for tuition, Lorelai must go to her estranged parents, Emily and Richard, and ask for assistance. Having had minimal contact with their daughter since she ran away as a teenager, the senior Gilmores agree to pay for Chilton only if Lorelai and Rory commit to attending dinner at the Gilmore residence every Friday night. This sets up an ongoing battle of understanding between the class and socially conscious (but not always very sensitive) Emily and Richard, and the easy-going, fun-loving Lorelai and Rory.

Meanwhile Rory has to deal with the pressures of Chilton, which include the bossy, controlling Paris Geller, and Tristan, an ego-centric guy who finds Rory's disinterest far too intriguing. Things get complicated back at home in Stars Hollow where Rory gets her first boyfriend, the clean-cut, adoring Dean.

Lorelai's works as a manager at the Independance Inn, along with her best friend the klutzy but oh-so-sweet Sookie, and the prissy-but-hilarious French manager, Michael. Daily life revolves also around Stars Hollow, the tiny town that serves as Lorelai and Rory's extended family. The hub of the town is Luke's Diner, owned by the gruff plaid-wearing but extremely cute Luke Danes, who supplies coffee and friendship to Lorelai, functions at time as a surrogate father to Rory, and never fails to help out in a crisis. And maybe, just maybe, there's something more going on...

There are far too many awesome personalities in this cast to name. Lane (Rory's best friend), Christopher (Rory's father), Taylor Doose (Town Selectman), Kirk (man of all jobs), and of course Rory's second and third boyfriends, Jess and Logan.

The show spans seven seasons, which is long enough to see Rory venture through high school and college. Babies, weddings and funerals mark the pass of time, but what holds the show together is its believable, enjoyable and lasting relationships. I've even know a few guys to enjoy sitting down and watching a few episodes of the show...

In some ways I think it's a modern equivalent of Jane Austen. The relationships, witty banter, social commentary... there's definitely some sort of genetic link.

What isn't Austen and may worry some people is the sexual innuendo and morals. Lorelai is, after all, a single parent, and seems to have few qualms about jumping into bed with her boyfriends. After reaching adulthood, Rory shows these same tendencies.

So why is this show still worth watching? Because when the Gilmore Girls make mistakes, they face consequences. And although there are a few sex scenes, they are not gratuitous. Swearing is kept to a minimum, and while some sexual innuendo keeps the show to a PG-13 rating, it is still done in a fairly classy manner that chick flicks in general would do well to imitate. Mom Lorelai is a regular watchdog when it comes to her daughter's relationships, and although she may not always make the best choices herself, she does everything possible to keep her daughter safe and wise.
Overall the show is far more wholesome, enjoyable and full of depth than just about anything else on TV.

Of worth noting --- the show "grows up" with Rory, so early seasons are more appropriate than later ones. When I showed the show to my teenage sister, we only watched through the fifth season. For a morally upright young woman with her head screwed on straight, there shouldn't be any problems with enjoying this show. I think it's a great series for sisters or mothers and daughters to enjoy together. It's clearly made to be enjoyed by girls together, and any difficult subjects can make great conversations afterwards.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Fires, Queens and SOTB.

I'm in love with our fireplace. Yesterday we rearranged the family room so that there were two couch spaces by the fire, not just one. Which is good because the spot nearest the fire is always in demand and at times I miss Virginia, where there were about six good spots that were all more or less equally near the fire.

However I don't like snow. I mean it is very pretty and can remind the literate viewer of Narnia... but have you ever tried driving it when it is just gushing down and there is ice all over the road and the wind is blowing you around? When you live as far north as we do, it's a real hindrance and I get rather tired of not going places because of the horrid weather.

I miss sunshine and grass already. We've had an unusually heavy dumping of early snow -- not once but three or four times already. Spring Vacation can't come soon enough...

But in the meanwhile I am consoling myself with Christmas. The latest issue of Ink and Fairydust contains an article I wrote about stocking stuffers and I'm hoping to implement a few of the suggestions myself. (but shhh -- dont' tell my family!)

Speaking of gifts, if you ever randomly decide you'd like to give me a present, I highly recommend a biography of an English female royal. I nearly always find them terribly interesting. Of course you risk sending me one I already own, but that's a risk you'd have to take. Where does this suggestion come from? I'm reading an old (55-year-old) biography of Queen Victoria and find it utterly fascinating. I didn't realize that Her Majesty's life was so well-documented... or that she had her babies in such quick succession. Poor woman!

I am also looking forwards to getting even busier when I order the editing software for SOTB. I'll be doing the editing myself and that's rather an intimidating job. I find myself watching films and taking careful note of cuts and jumps and shot choices... and then I start second-guessing whether or not I really have all the footage that we need. Plus six months seems far too short for getting this done. Oh and we still have to get permission to use "It's Only a Paper Moon" so that's another thing to worry about. *sigh* Why do I let myself take these crazy things on?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Ink and Fairydust - December 2010

It's time to journey into the past along with the I&F staff as we take adventures in one-room schoolhouses, homes without running water, and visiting the little houses of Laura Ingalls. Also a special interview with Melissa Wiley, author of "Little House in the Highlands."

Find it all here:

Also, we've got some news! We are in need of some more excellent writers on our staff and would love it if YOU would consider working for us! Want to learn more? Just check out this page:

Do you love I&F? We'd love to hear why you do! Just send us a line at Your answers might even get printed in an upcoming issue of I&F!

Thank you so much for your support, and don't forget to pass on the link to all your interested friends!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Reflections upon the Completion of NaNoWriMo

I wasn't expecting to learn from NaNoWriMo. I had this sort of idea in my head that I already knew everything I needed to know about myself as a writer. Or at least, that one month of flurried writing couldn't possibly teach anything.

I humbly stand corrected.

This month I learned that I cannot write from outlines. I started off bravely on the outline I had written up in September. However about 23K in I realized that the flow was completely off and I was not telling the right story.

This isn't a new phenomena for me. My last novel (the complete one) reached the 80K point before I realized I was telling it wrong and went back to square one. So I'd consider this an improvement.

Finding a beginning is hard. The first chapter, and the first three chapters, are absolutely crucial to get right. I can't really know where the rest of my story is going until I get the first chapter written.

So without disregarding my original work, I simply started a new draft and added the two word counts together. The first draft was simply an adventure in understanding my characters. I learned that my heroine did not have a boyfriend, but rather a brother, that there was a mysterious Trust fund, and that the Vampires were even more complex than I had first envisioned.

However there was a week in there where I wrote almost nothing. By the time I got back to work I was over 10K behind. Getting sick and having the holidays show up didn't make things easier. The last two days of NaNo I had to sit down and write 5K each day.

The first day was pretty miserable. I was stuck in a difficult part of my story that contained a lot of exposition. I was tired. I wasn't terribly inspired. And I was quite determined that I would never commit to doing NaNo again.

However the last day, Tuesday, was pretty cool. My family were all aware by this point of how important this was to me and were supportive and encouraging. Of course it didn't hurt that they all had to be away from home so I had the family room (and the fireplace!) to myself in a quiet house. What a blessing!

But what really made it fun was how I was able to connect with several young ladies and fellow NaNo-ers from the FTN Forum (which I administer). About 5 or 6 of us spent nearly five hours writing together Tuesday afternoon. We'd get done with a word war and then do another, and another... by the end I was so physically fatigued that I pretty much went straight to bed. Who knew that typing at a computer all day next to a fire could wear one out so?

It was worth it though. My book completely took off, my characters revealed new depths about themselves, I found myself writing a whole section in a hospital and I don't actually hate my story, even after forcing myself to write 10K in two days.

I was trying to explain the importance of this whole adventure to my parents at Sunday dinner. Neither of them are fiction writers, so the concept of "having" to write 50,000 words in one month seems a little bizarre to them. However what they do understand (and what I think many non-writers will) is the concept of a Marathon. My parents are runners and have both recently completed marathons (my parents rock). My father came up with the explanation that NaNo is to me what the marathon was to them. It may seem a little (or extremely) odd and silly to those on the outside, but to us doing it, it means everything.

No flashing cameras, no shiny medals, but I have to say it was really cool to see my little progress bar on the NaNo site change to purple with the word "WINNER" emblazoned across it.

Will I do NaNo again? I really have to say that it depends. With some big changes hopefully coming up in my life I foresee not having the time for the next couple of years. However, never say never. I think you may find me indulging in the craziness again at some point.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Many Uses of a Pizza cutter

Pizza rotary cutters are pretty brilliant. I love using them -- whether it's to cut pizza, quesidillas, or sandwiches.

Today I also discovered that they are absolutely fantastic for cutting sandwich meat into strips. I cut the meat into tiny squares for things like scrambled eggs and Greek pizza. Normally I use a large chopping knife, but today I decided to give the pizza cutter a try. It worked like a charm -- and about three times as fast!

Now I'm thinking I could put this pizza cutter to use cutting some other things as well...

What handy ways do YOU employ a pizza cutter?

Blame NaNo.

I've been desperately wanting to get another post written and feel incredibly guilty that I've only managed 13 posts for you all this month. However I got sick, we had holidays, and I ran into a rut with my NaNo novel which meant suddenly I had to crank out many more words a day than I was expecting. And I've still got a ton of I&F work to do. Phew.

Meanwhile I still plan to give thoughts on HP7, and maybe I'll even make it to tangled sometime soon! I'm also wading my way through a delightful but insanely long novel about Mary, Queen of Scots. If it turns out to be appropriate I may even do a review on it, it's that good so far.

I'm also thinking of starting to review the TV shows I've seen over the past few years. So there should be plenty to keep me busy once I get through November. Can't wait for Wednesday!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

"Sorry, I lied."

Have you noticed this trend? If someone tells you something, and then finds out later that they were mistaken, or facts were other than they know, instead of saying "Hey, so I made a mistake..." they are just as likely to say "Sorry, I lied..."

This seems a bit strange to me. I mean sure, I understand the cultural meaning here... (and have occasionally used the phrasing myself) but I feel it could have disturbing ramifications. If this trend continues, it could change the meaning of "lie." Instead of being a deliberate falsification, it would soften the meaning of the word to "mistake."

And I'm not just talking about a change in definition in the dictionary. Society's entire perception of what "lie" means could change. A lie would no longer be so deliberately malicious, but rather an accident.

Why is this worrisome? Am I overreacting?

In the last century we've seen such a shift in moral perceptions. The world hates the word "sin" and despises moral absolutes. Condemnation of many acts that have been seen as evil for thousands of years now is decried as judgmental and narrow-minded. Since the world has normalized adultery, fornication, blasphemy, homosexuality and coveting, is it really that irrational of me to see "sorry I lied" as the next item on the list? Could this really a move (however unintended) towards blurring the definition and consequences of lying?


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Enchanted Ivy

Imagine you are a prospective student at Princeton University. As you tour the campus, you find that an exclusive society is going to give you a chance to win instant admission to this college of your dreams. Just one catch. To do so you will have to enter into a world of magic -- of talking gargoyles, were-tigers and vampire monkeys. It could even cost your life.

This is exactly the situation that high school freshman Lily Carter finds herself roped into in the pages of Sarah Beth Durst's latest book, "Enchanted Ivy."

From the moment I open the cover I was entranced by this story. Even though I had a NaNo novel urgently calling to me, my eyes stayed glued to the page until I was deep into the book. It wasn't until I was halfway through that I reluctantly pulled myself away -- and that only succeeded because I bribed my inner reader with the idea of e-mailing Durst and telling her immediately how much I was enjoying the novel.

It was only a few hours later that I finished the book and immediately passed it on to my younger sister.

"Enchanted Ivy" is Durst's most captivating book yet. And although I enjoyed "Ice" and "Into the Wild" (and it's sequel) I can easily say that this latest work is my favorite. Maybe it's the magical world set on an ordinary college campus -- maybe it's the unexpected twists -- or the lovable characters -- but I am absolutely in love with "Enchanted Ivy." And topping my Christmas list is a desire for Durst to announce that she has a sequel in the works, because the setting is rich and absolutely demands further installments.

I would recommend this book for readers 14 and up. It is more suited for a younger audience than "Ice" was -- apart from some bloody encounters with a villain it remains quite appropriate. And as evidenced by my own enjoyment, this is a book to be enjoyed both by the younger ones -- and by those of us who read it with a nostalgic air, wishing our own college experiences might have included such magical adventures.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sickness and Stuff

So sorry that I've been so quiet this week! I came down with the flu on Friday and have had horrible brain fog ever since. I feel rather terrible about that because I've had some good post ideas lately but I just don't trust my brain to properly convey my ideas to the page... you know how it goes. When you're sick some things can truly be genius -- and others can just be sickness pretending to be genius.

Hoping things will clear up so I can get back to work and also so that I can go see Harry Potter 7 on Friday!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Toy Story 3 at Redbox

Have any of you gotten Toy Story 3 from Redbox? I would like to rent it, but the last Pixar movie we got from Redbox (UP) didn't have any special features, including subtitles. Watching a movie without subtitles isn't an option for me (since I'm hard of hearing) so I'd like to know whether or not Toy Story 3 at Redbox has them before I lay down the money for it.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Are You Ready to Date?

My thoughts on being emotionally, spiritually, financially, physically and mentally ready for a dating relationship:

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I bought an orange jump-rope.

Yes, folks, I am the proud owner of an orange plastic jump-rope. Despite the fact that orange is one of my least favorite colors (just above puke green and magenta) and the other fact that I don't jump-rope, I nonetheless just purchased one. Why?

Blame it on Claire's. Yes. The teen jewelry store. Did you know that they also sell jump-ropes? Well now you do. Count it as your Important Fact of the Day.

Every now and then Claire's will have a sale on their clearance where you can get 10 things for $10 bucks. My sister and I happened to stop into one of the stores on Monday and - low and behold! - it was a 10 for $10 sale. I couldn't resist. My sister got four things and I got six.

The selection wasn't amazing. I mean, the first three things were easy. Cute hair clips! But the necklaces were not included in the 10 for $10 (grrr) and I can't wear earrings. So I had to look for other things. Namely more hair stuff. But you can only own so many jeweled bobby pins.

And then I found the jump-rope. It was cool and sparkly and bright and had this cool twist to it... and I thought "now that is SHINY! and it's only $1! and you never know when I might need a jump-rope..."

So, my readers, I put that jump-rope into my basket and my sister was completely befuddled as to why it was there...

But you never know when you might need a jump-rope. So now if I have to tie up a burglar or just burn a lot of calories really fast, I'm all set.

Me and my orange jump-rope.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A NaNo Skit

A One Act About NaNoWriMo

By Elizabeth Hausladen

The stage is quite plain. There is a desk, an office chair, and an arm chair. Above the desk hangs a poster that says "NaNoWriMo: 30 Days, 50,000 words!"

My office is right in here.

Two people enter. They can be played by either men or women, although this script is written with a feminine slant.

The COUNSELOR is a professional looking person in her late twenties. She is well groomed, with every hair in place.

The WRITER is younger, perhaps college age. There are circles under her eyes and she is dressed in sweats. Her hair looks as though it hasn't been brushed in days. Under her arms she clutches a laptop.

Will you sit down? (Indicates the armchair)

(gingerly sits down)

Now, what are you in for today? I understand it was something of an emergency?

(bursts into tears)

(hurries to offer a box of tissues) Oh no, don't cry! What is the matter?

My -- my book -- is TERRIBLE!


My characters won't do ANYTHING I want. They all went out and bought gumballs last night. WHO WANTS TO READ ABOUT GUMBALLS?


And tomorrow is the 15th. I'm supposed to have 25,000 words by the 15th!

(inches backwards and starts tugging on the edge of her poster)

I was up to 24,593 words last night. I was SO CLOSE. But then my computer died on me and I lost HALF of that. HALF of my story! And all I remember are the gumballs!

(succeeds in pulling the poster off the wall and hiding it behind the desk) I am so sorry. That is terrible!

My life is OVER!

Oh -- well you may feel that way now, but I'm sure that's not true. You've got your school, your family, your volunteering at the nursing home --

I'm a great big failure!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (bursts into tears again)

(Starting to get really worried) Uh, can you excuse me for a moment? I need to make a phone call.


(grabs a notepad and cell phone and leaves the office, crossing down to stage right. As she goes, she dials a number on the phone.)

(Meanwhile the Writer watches her leave, then pulls out the laptop and starts typing furiously)

Hello, is this the Office of Letters and Light? Why yes, I am doing NaNoWriMo! Oh it's lovely. I'm doing a mystery in Victorian England. No, it's not my first novel. Yes, that does make it easier. Say, I do have a, er, friend, who is not having such a good time. Well everything that can go wrong seems to be going wrong and she said something about gumballs... plot ninjas? No I hadn't heard -- (starts scribbling on her pad) Mhmmm. Yes. I see. Oh good idea! Yes. Thank you.

(In the office the Writer seems to hit a block. She stares at the screen for a long moment, then slams the lid shut and starts bawling again)

Yes. Thank you again! Goodbye! (hangs up and goes back into the office. She is worried when she sees the Writer crying again and hurries over to kneel besides her with more tissues) Hey, honey, it's okay. We're going to get through this.

No one can save my poor deranged story!

Well I'm a psychiatrist. My job is working with deranged people. Now I talked to some professionals, and I have some good news for you. (holds up her tablet) First of all, you must remember that NaNo is supposed to be fun.

Fun? (bursts out in maniacal laughter)

It's not about writing the next Great American Novel. It's about learning how to start and finish a story in a reasonable amount of time.

R- reasonable?

Well one month is pushing it a bit, but if you can do a bit of crap in a month, you can pound out something decent in a year.

But I can't waste time on crap! I have to pay bills NOW!

Right, so I have three words for you. December, January, February.

I'm supposed to write three more novels?

No! Those three months are your saving grace. In December you take a break. You forget the novel ever existed. Eat cookies, make snow angels, open presents, sing silly songs. RELAX.

Relaxing sounds good...

Then in January, you pick up your manuscript again and read it. Then you start going over it with a viking axe. Chop out all those pieces that are superfluous and unnecessary. Throw out all the gumballs into that truck in "Bedtime Stories."

Oh so that's where they came from! I thought there were an awful lot of gumballs on that truck.

Then in February you start proofing. Maybe even let some other people take a look at it. Perfect it. By March 1st you will have something that you can actually read without wincing at.



(looks greatly relieved and picks up her laptop, opens it, and starts writing again)


(pauses) Yes?

I sort of need my office back.

Oh! (closes the laptop, stands up and shakes the Counselor's hand) Right! Thank you soooo much! When I get published, I'm going to dedicate this novel to you! (runs out)

Yeah... I hope it's a long time before you learn that publication is an entirely different story. (hangs up the poster, then goes back to her own desk and starts typing) "Dear Miss Cole, I would like to bring to your attention my novel, DARK WITHOUT STARS..."

(lights down)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sarcasm and 1 Thessalonians

I don't have a very good track record of keeping up with doing daily scripture readings right now. However the past two weeks I've been periodically reading through 1 Thessalonians which is a book I've never paid much attention to before.

Today this passage jumped out at me:

Therefore encourage on another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
~ 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Okay, the first thing I have to point out is that in this sentence, Paul practices exactly what he preaches. He says "you are doing a good thing here -- keep doing it!" He doesn't say "Well you need to do this and this and this" and turn it into a long discouraging lecture. He notes what his readers are already doing!

But the second thing I want to talk about is sarcasm - especially internet sarcasm.

When did sarcasm start? Is it something that has always been around, or has it developed over the years? Are there incidents of sarcasm in the Bible? I think there are some words of Jesus that could be seen as sarcastic -- although our Lord always used anything along the lines of sarcasm to illuminate a point, NEVER to cut down others.

I don't know about you, but it seems to me that sarcasm is pretty popular today. People use it a lot. Sometimes it's funny, sometimes you get the point exactly. Sometimes it is just a way of "witty bantering" that hearkens back to screwball comedies.

But the difficulty is, how do you know where to draw the line? Because sarcasm is NOT inherently something that builds others up. It is almost always a sentence that implies negativity of some sort, and it is terribly easy to cause offense without meaning so. OR, sarcasm can betray inner negativity that the speaker was not actually intending to reveal.

And if real life sarcasm has dangers, that is nothing compared to the pitholes of online sarcasm, where faces are invisible and even the friendliest of sarcasm can get mistaken for ire and hatred.

I'm not bringing this up as a lecture... sarcasm is something I've always struggled with. I do try not to use it online, unless it is a conversation in which there is no way the meaning can be mistaken. And there are obviously some situations in which you can be sarcastic about something and everyone will know what you mean.

I made a sarcastic comment last week. It was meant to be funny, and I'm fairly certain it was taken as funny. However I realized a second later that the issue at hand really wasn't one that I wanted to infuse with negativity. I'd made my joke -- but I wanted to clarify that the object of my words would actually be quite good at the subject under discussion.

Reading Thessalonians made me realize how this shouldn't be a rare occurrence -- it should be my regular mode of operation. How much more will get accomplished by building up and encouraging others, than by making a joke at their expense?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Theories about River Song

Having just finished the final episode of Doctor Who Season 5, I wanted to do some research into what theories the fans were spinning out for the identity and purpose of River Song.


Here are 8 pages filled with theories I found interesting --- some are quite easily disproven and others are rather viable...

Theory I

Theory 2

Theory 3

Theory 4

Theory 5

Theory 6

Theory 7

Theory 8

So what are the theories we see so far?

River is the Doctor's Mother or Daughter
-- eh, much too creepy.

River is Jack.
-- not possible. River dies in the first episode we meet her in, whereas Jack (as the Face of Boe) dies in "Gridlock." Plus it's also very, very creepy.

River is Romana, the Rani, Rose, Donna, another past companion
-- I really don't think this is likely AT ALL. Some companions (the Rani) have copyright restrictions, and others are very clearly completely wrapped up for good.

River is Amy somehow regenerated
-- Personally I really don't like this idea but I can't rule it out for good.

River is a future incarnation of the Doctor
-- No, because she wouldn't need the diary to recognize what time point they were meeting in, nor would she be surprised by the fact that the Doctor doesn't know her when they meet in the LIBRARY.

River is a future companion of the Doctor with her own history/game
-- more likely than anything on this list.

My personal favorite theory? River is the TARDIS. I think that would be the coolest of anything previously mentioned. I don't think it's necessarily true as it is very farfetched, but it would be by far the most interesting.

And then there is the perhaps bigger question. Is River the Doctor's Wife? His Murderer? Both? Neither?

What is the truth going to be? I don't know. What I do know is that after "The Pandorica Opens" and "The Big Bang" I actually like River now. I have to stop casting premature dislikes on characters in Doctor Who... (Rose, the Ninth Doctor, River Song) because I invariable change them...

Completely different side note. RORY ROCKS! 'Nough said.


EDIT 1-16-10
Just can't stop thinking about River! Read my additional thoughts here: MORE River Song.

A Night on the Town

So after about 1400 words of NaNo yesterday, I pushed it aside to go spend a night on the town with some friends.

We picked up one friend at a train station, another two friends at their college, and after parking waaaaay too far away from our restaurant, we tromped through the icy cold streets to meet up with our final friend who had gotten hopelessly lost.

Anyhow, it all worked out. We stopped into a Caribbean restaurant first, but it was steaming hot and the food looked too spicy, so we left that one for the slightly nicer yet also cheaper Chinese restaurant next door. We were all pretty glad we did, as the food was excellent, the atmosphere was calm and relaxed, and we had amazingly nice servers. I think the restaurant was owned by one family or something, because there was a matronly figure there, two teenagers, and one adorable little girl. And they were all so polite! One of my first comments upon entering the restaurant was "I think Alex O'Donnell would probably love this place."

The food was really good. I got the best cream cheese puffs I've ever had. The egg rolls weren't so amazing, but I sampled almost everyone else's meat and there was some good stuff!

Have any of you ever heard of bubble tea? I should really look it up online. None of us got any, but it was one of the featured items at this restaurant and they had just about ever flavor under the sun. Including one really weird and disgusting one we couldn't quite believe: Leeches.

I'm not a downtown person, and I'm not a cold person, but I do like food and friends so in the end it was a pretty fun night. :) Although trying new things like this isn't really part of my comfort zone, it is important as an author to do it occasionally and stash it away for future novels. So if you ever read one of my future published works and find a scene like this in it... you'll know where it came from!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Basics of the 3 Act Plot

Want to know the basics of the 3 Act plot?

Then check out my article on the subject in I&F's November issue here:

You can always find interesting and important information about writing in my column, Jots and Scribbles.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Bleak House

It is 19th century London. In the Court of Chancery a case - Jarndyce and Jarndyce, to be precise - has been dragging on for generations. Foggy and duplicate wills have ensured that a grand fortune remains tied up in court, no matter how much the possible heirs could use it.

Into the midst of this muddle come three young people who will be changed by it forever.

Richard and Ada are wards of the court and possible heirs of Jarndyce. Esther Summerson is a girl of unknown parentage who has been engaged as Ada's companion. All three of them have been invited by old Mr. John Jarndyce, the kindest man ever to live, to come and live with him at Bleak House. They all willingly accept and find in Mr. Jarndyce the best friend and guardian any of them could hope for.

But life never remains as it was, and unwanted suitors, mysterious parentage, nefarious lawyers and deadly illnesses turn everything upside down.

Will they survive the case of Jarndyce and Jarndyce alive?

Although I have not read the book, by all accounts this 2005 adaptation produced by the BBC is fantastic. And taking it on its own merit, it is a wonderful miniseries. The acting is fantastic, the locations are perfect, the costuming is wonderful, and the script --- (written by the A&E P&P's Andrew Davies) is brilliant. Like most BBC productions the only faltering point is the camera-work which remains somewhat jarring, though in a way that is perhaps not inconsistent with the feel of Dickens. Though unconventional the cinematography is totally watchable and I liked it better than I do most BBC work.

It is also very appropriate. Apart from a scene of spontaneous combustion (which is a little freaky/gross) and discussion of an illicit affair (but in proper Victorian language) it is something the whole family could watch. Younger children will likely be uninterested by the court case and the depth of human emotion, but the rest of the family should find this a wonderful treat to enjoy together over the upcoming winter months.

Dickens and I have a love/hate relationship. I love his "A Tale of Two Cities" and "A Christmas Carol" but have been annoyed by most of his other stuff that I've read. However several years ago I happened to catch the first episode of "Bleak House" on PBS and was completely engrossed. I always meant to find it again, but it wasn't until now that I actually managed to do so. I'm extremely glad I did as it is marvelous and human and accessible. But when you have such a stunning cast and a script written by Andrew Davies, what else can you expect?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Ink and Fairydust - November 2010

Dear Friends,

What's the big deal about Facebook?
Why should you read Alex O'Donnell?
How do you know if you're ready to date?
What are the confessions of the 23rd Thief?

Find out all this and more in the latest issue of I&F! Read it online at

Also, I am looking for two new writers to join our staff. More information will be up on our website shortly, so check back often.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

NaNo is almost here!

Nine hours until NaNoWriMo starts for my time zone! Who else is planning to stay up until midnight to write?

I've got plans to hang with a friend, and then I'll see if I can finish Bleak House before getting online for the chatcountdown with the other Forum writers.

By the way... I'm two thirds of the way through the 2005 "Bleak House" and I absolutely love it! Maybe I'll do a review after I finish...

Friday, October 29, 2010

I&F, Make-up, and Steampunk Costumes

The November Cover of I&F is very pretty. We've got a new staff of photographers and I am so excited by the work they are already turning out! However I'm not previewing the cover for you this month... you'll just have to wait until Sunday to see it!

Anyone else here think make-up is expensive? The good stuff that actually works, I mean. I started using Pur Minerals a year ago and I LOVE it. I just wish the foundation wasn't $26 a tub! Thankfully one container will last me for about nine months, so that evens out to around $3 a month... which really isn't that bad. It's just that when one is a poor starving artist, anything that costs anything is a pain. I need to sell more costumes...

...speaking of costumes! I am hard at work designing my website/blog for History's Wardrobe! It is looking really nice and I will be excited to formally unveil it in the next week or two!

What do you do for Halloween? Do you trick or treat? Does your church have an event? Do you ignore the night and huddle down in your basement with a movie?

Our church has a "Halloween Alternative" party which I'm going to help out with this year. Choosing a costume proved harder than I expected! You'd think with all my choices it wouldn't be hard to pick something, would you? I almost settled on my brown Austen dress, but couldn't find it (seriously? argh). So I'm going to use a vest and flowey blouse and boots to pull together a "Steampunk Heroine" outfit. What is steampunk, you ask? Stop reading this post right now and go check out GIRL GENIUS. Romance. Mad Science. Adventure. What more could anyone want in a story?

Okay, did you check it out? NO? All right, that's it. I'm ending this post here. Now you have nothing else to do and you can go check out the adventures of Agatha the amazing GIRL GENIUS. Mwhaha.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


First of all, for the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. Every year during the month of November, thousands of writers all over the world pledge to write 50,000 words in 30 days.
Last year I didn't plot my book out ahead of time, and ended up with a plot that flew all over the place and was about as far from a publishable book as you could get. I got to 35,000 words, realized it wasn't working, and put it aside.

There's a reason the agents and other expects view NaNo with skepticism and strongly urge all participants to plan out their plots ahead of time! I had to learn that the hard way.

This year I have my novel completely planned out and I'm ready to see if things work better this year. I've got a plot I'm extremely excited about. It's based on several years of accumulated thoughts, and is going to be the scariest thing I've ever written.

Now what is that picture floating on the left side of the screen? That, my friends, is the NaNo Meter. It is now tradition for me to draw one of these up every year and post it on my bedroom door so that my family can visually watch my progress. (Yeah, I get a little obsessed with statistics sometimes).

There are just three days left until this year's marathon of writing begins! I'm terribly impatient. If it wasn't for the release of Scrivener Beta and the necessity of finishing up the Nov I&F, I'd be terribly tempted to start writing early...

...but don't worry. I'm holding strong. For now.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Royal Blue Doublet - Part 2

At long last, the final pictures from the Sophia Institute Press project!

I haven't made a lot of masculine costumes yet (although I have done a lot of men's alterations), so I'm really very happy with how well this turned out. Especially the buttons! Buttonholes can be tricky to line up just right, and I'm thrilled with how marvelous I got the dozen needed for this project to work!

Monday, October 25, 2010

And you had to make the decision hard?

Thank you for voting in my polls. I really love to see my readers interacting with my blog and get to learn a little more about you (and also know what kind of stuff I should be writing!)

But boy... the answers to the last poll have me befuddled. About two thirds of you said that I should keep my costume posts here... while another fourth or so said that they should branch out to their own blog.

So I want to know. Those of you who want me to keep my costume diaries on this blog - why this blog? Is it too much trouble to add another blog to your daily internet rounds? Are you just attached to this background? Do you think I don't do enough costume diaries to feed another blog?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Drowning in books

I never thought the day would come when I would start to feel a little suffocated by books. Yet after the book fair last week I walked away a little light-headed thinking I could use a little break from the printed pages...

And then of course I promptly picked up "Wolf Hall" and started reading it again.

The book fair was really good. It was an intense 9 hours of interacting with people, but it was great to have so many interesting conversations. It was also really encouraging to see all the books that have managed to get published. I'd been procrastinating with my query letters out of intimidation, and seeing all the published books really gave me courage. If all those other people could find agents and publishers for their books - well then, so could I.

I really do have too many books. Normally I'm just whipping through books only to spend two weeks trying to find something new to read. Now however I've got into the habit of

a) immediately ordering from the library any interesting titles I find anywhere online or in bookstores


b) regularly browsing our amazing new library aisles for interesting titles.

The end result is that I really do have piles of books rising up all over my room and have to check the library website constantly to make sure nothing is overdue.

But it's all a good kind of drowning. I love books, and I love having new stories to read. If ONLY people could write DECENT Jane Austen sequels!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Brief Gaudy Hour

Oh entrancing, bewitching woman! Anne, how do you hold us captive five hundred years after your death? What compels us to read and write your story again and again and again?

"Brief Gaudy Hour" is a novel originally written in the 1940's that has a strange, haunting resonance today. It brings Anne Boleyn to life in a compassionate, honest manner that is both respectful and accurate (at least as far as the information in the 40's allowed).

Anne is a character with whom I have a sort of "Pride and Prejudice" romance. I've gone from hating her, to nearly revering her as the woman to whom I owe my current religious freedom. I suppose I see her in some was as the patroness of the current Protestant church, however unintended that result may have been.

She fascinates me, as I think she does many historians. Her marriage and coronation were completely unprecedented acts. So was her wretched farce of a trial and beheading.

What is so frustrating is that so many things about her will remain forever unknown. Her letters were nearly completely destroyed. We don't even know her date of birth. And yet she completely changed the world.

I've read many entries in the world of Tudor Fiction, and they all have their pros and cons. My favorite is undoubtedly "Coronation of Glory" (Lady Jane Grey) but I have to say, "Brief Gaudy Hour" makes a strong second. It portrays Anne very much as I imagine her to be. Neither saint nor sorceress. A woman aware of her own witchery and thrust into a situation where she had little choice to flee and ever chance of winning all by cunning wit.

It is an adult book, and deals with a court well seeped in sexuality. Yet it contains no overly graphic sexual scenes and treats the subject in a respectful yet historically accurate manner. I wouldn't recommend it for teen readers, but the college crowd and up should find it engrossing and well worth pursuing.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Let's talk about that Lightning Thief dude....

Once upon a time, there was a pre-teen boy who discovered that he had magical powers. To learn how to use them he was shipped off to a special training place, where he met two best friends (a guy and a girl), a wise mentor, and a prophecy predicting a dark and deadly destiny.

And no. Believe it or not, this is NOT Harry Potter. (or Star Wars, or Eragon, or...)

We're talking about Percy Jackson.

Percy Jackson is a 12-year-old boy with ADHD and Dyslexia. He has been expelled from every school he ever entered. One day one of his teachers turns into a monster and he finds himself disintegrating her into a pile of dust. To his astonishment he then learns that he is no ordinary teen.

Percy is a demigod.

Demigods are the half god/half human offspring of one of the Greek Gods of Olympus (Unless your dad is Hades, who was sort of expelled from the holy mountain awhile past). Olympus is no longer in Greece - it's entrance is on the 600th floor of the Empire State Building. There are Greek Gods and Monsters around every corner, and only the mysterious "Mist" hides them from the sight of ordinary humans.

So as Monsters chase Percy across New York, he escapes with his satyr friend, Grover, to Camp Half-Blood where young demi-gods learn how to fight and defeat monsters. At camp, Percy meets the centaur Chiron who will become his mentor, and Annabeth, daughter of Athena, who becomes his other best friend (and... maybe more...).

He also finds out that he is the son of Posidon, one of the "big three." This turns out to be a bit of a sticky issue. Apparently after WWII the big three (Zeus, Posidon and Hades) agreed not to have any more children, because their offspring are just too powerful.

But it gets worse. About seventy years previously a prophecy decreed that the next child of the big three who reached 16 would have the power to destroy Olympus - or save it. The last child of the big three (a girl Zeus had in spite of the promise) was destroyed by monsters and turned into a pine tree. Yeah, very encouraging, thanks.

So it's up to Percy to fight off Monsters, traitors, Titans, and the biggest baddie of them all - Kronos, father of the Gods.

I have to say I really enjoyed this series. While it doesn't reach anywhere near Harry Potter's brilliance, it still sits rather higher than most YA literature published these days. It has an intriguing and usually at least somewhat unpredictable plot. The characters are memorable and easy to care for.

Plus it's just plain awesome for any fan of Greek Mythology to squeal over the appearances of all the gods, monsters and heros.

"Mr. D... likes parties... now what god... OOOH! I KNOW WHO THAT IS!!!!"

"Three old ladies with thread... ha, let me guess..."

"Girl with a bow and arrow... in the woods... surrounded by maidens... hmmm, this isn't hard to guess... ha! Look. Whaddya know! I was right!"

As far as appropriateness goes... although the series is directed towards a younger audience than Harry Potter, it does deal with what I find a very complicated subject. The union between gods and mortals. It is handled extremely tastefully, but there still remains the rather weird fact that the gods have unions with hundreds of mortals across the centuries, but are still married to immortal spouses. And then the humans, after the union results in a child (or two) usually go on to marry another human.

Maybe it's because families have become so splintered in our day and age. Having multiple parents in different houses with different spouses.... well it's become a bit normal for our society. I doubt "Percy Jackson" could have been published two decades ago - at least as children reading material.

I really liked the series. I'm definitely going to be watching for Rick Riordon's next books. But at the same time, I'm a little amused by the lack of Christian outcry, because imho, there is more to worry about in Percy Jackson than there ever is in Harry Potter.