Sunday, February 28, 2010

"Ink and Fairydust" PREVIEW!!!!!!!!!!

Are you a Jane Austen fan? Then you are going to LOVE this month's issue of "Ink and Fairydust." Inside we have humor, facts, testimonies, and short stories, nearly all relating to England's beloved authoress. I personally have a couple of articles of which I'm rather proud of and cannot wait to share with all of you on Tuesday morning!

At any rate, here are some of the highlights of this issue!

"Dear Miss Jane" (an editorial by moi)

"So you think you know Austen?" Jane Austen Trivia Contest

"Mr. Austen Hero"

"Miss Austen Abbreviated" Persuasion and P&P in a minute. (more or less.)

"Sense and Sensibility: an overlooked jewel" (again, by moi)

English Country Dancing (or "How to Dance like Elizabeth Bennet")

"The Secret Diary of Margaret Dashwood"

"The Origins of Manners"

"On Etiquette and Rules of the Forum"

"Tea Time with Rose: A Short Story on Etiquette"

"My Love Story with Pride and Prejudice"

And of course, all your favorite regular columns!!!

A wee bit more about roleplaying...

In one of my recent posts I mentioned that I've gotten involved in a role-playing game in my new part of the country. It's been a very positive experience so far. Since I don't have any other dramatic/theatrical outlets, and because I love strategy games and anything reminiscent of "The Lord of the Rings" it's been really fun to get involved in a weekly activity that really combines all three of those interests.

If you're interested in learning a bit more about the coolness of roleplaying (in moderation of course... all things in moderation...) you can check out my friend Carpe Guittarrem's blog, on which the latest post is an interview with - who else? - yours truely! I give away quite a few details about the game I'm currently involved in (which is pretty interesting so far!) so if you're interested in any of the three things I mentioned above, check it out!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Liz Curtis Higgs

A new interview with one of my favorite living authors: Liz Curtis Higgs.

It's a fairly basic interview and didn't cover anything that I didn't already know. But it's a nice introduction to her. It also reminded me that her next book is coming out in two weeks! Eep! I've been waiting three years for this thing and I can't quite believe it's FINALLY getting released!

*Throws confetti and hurries off to Amazon*

Er - *comes back* if you'd like to learn more about my opinion of Liz's work, check out my review of her book "Thorn in My Heart."

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Of sinuses and Adventures

I don't like sinus infections, but I do like urgent care. I don't like being sick, but I do love having sympathetic employeers. I don't like missing out on a shopping expedition with my friends, but taking a long nap and then cracking away some more at my novel sounds strangely appealing.

No, my life does not suck. Yes, I have a sinus infection and it's bad, but it's not as bad as most of the other things I've dealt with this year. And, let's face it - my job is only about eight feet or so from my bed (my door pretty much opens onto the schoolroom here at the Black Cat Inn) so I don't have to have panic attacks about driving twenty miles to work and then being too sick to drive myself home. Thank you God for my many blessings - even if you also gave me stuffy sinuses.

That, my friends, is the reason why I haven't written a lovely post up yet this week. When one's sinuses are clogged, it becomes strangely hard to think. Although I have some rather intelligent and dramatic conversations at our roleplaying game this week... (when one can't be in a play, join a roleplaying game! It's an excellent, low stress and high fun way to work out those dramatic urges!).

I have not, however, been idle. I've been scheming. Scheming and listening to wise advice. And doing a lot of praying. As a young adult every day can seem like a crossroads of life, but right now I find that feeling exceptionally magnified. Which road do I take now - the one less traveled, or the one I did not take before? And what of the forks I can already see ahead on those roads?

One day at a time. One footstep at a time. Life goes on. I've found that God leads me onwards at the right time, even if I do not truly understand why. It's an adventure. Thank goodness I was raised to like adventures.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Friday, February 19, 2010

Bright Star

"First love shines brightest"

"Have you seen the film Bright Star?" is a question that gets one of three responses:


"Yes! Oh, I really want to see that movie!"

"Never heard of it. What is it about?"

If you are in the first catagory - hurrah! I love you! Thank you for being my blog reader!

If you're in the second - oh you MUST see it as soon as possible! Did you know that it's on DVD now? And you can actually find it at Redbox?

And if you answered the third way - then this review is for you.

It is the early 19th century in England; the era of Jane Austen and Charles Dickens - an a certain young poet named John Keats. As the movie begins, Keats has just published his first book of poetry, a book which has been accepted with much criticism by the literary circles of the area.

Miss Fanny Brawne, a fashion-conscious young woman who delights in nothing so much as a well made ruffle, comes to vist. She finds herself intrigued by the mild-unassuming and slightly eccentric young artist. Though she knows nothing of poetry herself and finds it difficult to understand, she brings herself to ask Keats for poetry lessons in order that she might better appreciate his work. And thus a deep and passionate love relationship is begun that is forbidden by constraints that Jane Austen would have been proud of. Only this is no author's invention - this is a true story, translated to screen with the help of the many letters John sent Fanny over the course of their separated periods.

This is a beautiful film. What makes it work is a perfect marriage of technical perfection with a deeply emotional and gripping love story. The cinematography, costumes, acting, scenery, music all works together perfectly to draw the audience into the movie. Yet while intensely poetical, it remains real and true. Fanny is a strong-minded, independant young woman who steps off the screen as a person in her own right. Like Keats, she is her own individual. She designs clothes that are the height of fashion (and according to my little historical research, was supposedly an expert on historical costume as well) and is not afraid to stick up for herself - and for Keats. Furthermore, this very real woman is surrounded by a very real family. Her widowed mother and younger brother and sister support and love her (and she them) in a way that ties this story all the closer to reality.

Keats also is beautifully portrayed. He is not a classic dashing or even Byronic hero. He's intense, but gentle-mannered. He's an artist full of deep ideas and feelings - but he is practical and knows that his own happiness cannot be bought at the expense of a life of poverty for Fanny. He's tormented by the fact that his health prevents him from earning the fortune he needs to marry her, and fully acknowledges that he should let her go in order for her to marry a man who can provide her a secure life. Fanny's devotion, however, is absolute. She has faith in him and his art even when the rest of the world does not and sticks bravely by his side even when he falls into an illness that will - well, history and the movie will give you the answers.

Yes, it's a sad movie. And for some may strike too close to home for comfort. Yet though I found myself sympathizing in so many ways with the characters, I also found it refreshing to see that I'm not alone. Young people have dealt with this issues for hundreds of years, and they will continue to do so as long as the world lasts. Art or security? Love or money? Should we face the world together, or bow to expectation and practicality and walk separate roads? These are deeply relevant questions to myself and - I suspect - to many other young people these days as well.

The movie recieved a PG rating for "Themetic elements, some sensuality, brief language and incidental smoking." All of these issues are handed very tastfully. There are some beautiful kissing scenes that earned the "sensuality" caution, but they are so tender and sweet that they are a joy to watch rather than a saliva fest. The themetic elements refers to a subplot in which another poet impregnants a maid. However he ultimately lives up to his responsibilities, though there are indeed consequences. This film is perhaps best suited to a 15+ audience, but younger viewers ought to be able to enjoy it under parental or elder-sister supervision.

I adored this film. It is now on my list of top favorites. If you love a good love story, a historical bio-pic, or a beautiful artistic movie, then I'm almost certain you will as well.

Monday, February 15, 2010

"Born of Hope" - fan-made prequel to LOTR is finally here!

I remember first hearing about this project years and years ago, back when all they had done was a few days of promotional shooting. So needless to say, I was starting to think it would never get finished!

But here it is at last - a fan-made prequel to "The Lord of the Rings." It tells the story of the parents of Aragorn, Arathorn and Gilraen, and nicely elaborates on the information Tolkien gave us in his appendixes.

For a fan-made, non-commercial production it's extremely well-done. That doesn't mean I can't pick a few bones with it - but overall I'm incredibly impressed by what they've managed to do. Cinematography and film quality especially, as well as some very good acting by most of the actors.

The bones? Well, the costumes could have been better. In particular they could have been aged better. I know it's so hard to age costumes when you've put work into making them. You desperately want to preserve every thread of them. But it's so so so so necessary to get the right look. I learned this to my cost when I did my own LOTR project half a decade ago.

Secondly - I'm not sure they made the right choice in casting their Gilraen. She had a fairly decent air, but she didn't look at all like I imagined Gilraen to be. Too old, and (though pretty) not the sort of pretty that I would expect from a mother of Aragorn. Also, they tried to make her into some sort of fighting maiden, but she couldn't really fight when it mattered, and it's like - do it all the way or not at all. If you only do it halfway, she looks silly swinging a sword and that makes her a weaker character than if she never picked up a sword at all.

Yet other than that, the film really is extremely well-made. For being an hour long it has some nice character and relationship arcs, the story moves along, and most of the VFX are fairly-well done. Let's just say, they actually made their bluescreen work. ;) (...yeah, about my experience with bluescreen...*shudders*...)

Anyhow, kudos to the team, and many thanks for captioning the film so that I could properly enjoy it!

And to my readers, if you've got good internet streaming, haste thee over to the website and prepare thyself for a goodly treat!

Friday, February 12, 2010

February's "Ink and Fairydust"

As promised - just in time for Valentine's Day!

There are some really great articles in this issue, so don't delay in reading it! You will love this issue! :)

Writing Lightbulb

Sometimes it's when I'm sick that I come up with the best ideas for writing. Take yesterday, for instance. I felt pretty crummy, but my brain wouldn't let me sleep. Oh no, it kept pulling up scenarios and working through plots and characters and facts and features until finally... about 11:00 last night I figured out some very important details about my heroine, my villian, and the series climax.

I was intensely relieved and excited and almost couldn't get back to sleep after that! I've been trying to figure out some of these things for three years and have been intensely frustrated that they kept eluding my grasp.

At any rate, I'm looking forwards to working more on the project, after I get this month's issue of "Ink and Fairydust" finished and published for you all to read! Expect lots of articles on love, friendship, chocolate, romance and Lent! :)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Shepherdess in the Making

If you've been watching the news at all, then you've probably heard that the East Coast is getting pretty battered right now with a series of snowstorms. Last Saturday we had a particularily intense one that ended up dropping two feed of snow on us. I'm from the Midwest and I still haven't seen that much snow on the ground in my life.

It just so happened that we ended up getting a bit more of an adventure than a snowstorm. We raise sheep, and most of our ewes are pregnant. Early Saturday morning we woke up to find one of the ewes missing. A frantic search ensued (which you can read about in detail on Regina Doman's house blog - ) that ended up in the eventually discovery of not only our missing ewe, but our very first lamb.

My family has raised a total of four sheep, so I've been around them before and like them a lot. They're very mild-tempered animals, and I love the way they look and everything. It was an absolutely amazing experience to be a part of. Going out into snow that was over my knees, and walking for what seemed forever, and finally finding a newborn lamb.

I can't quite tell what a wonderful feeling it was to come to the rescue of that baby. Especially to be the first human to make contact with it. I loved it. I feel incredibly blessed that God allowed me to have this experience. It has definetely increase my love of sheep, and my appreciation for those who raise them.

The baby (whom we named "Twitchet") is now four days old and leaping and frisking all over his pen. He is unbelieveably adorable! He's very tame and curious. When we go in the pen he will sniff around us and be very friendly.

We have two other ewes that we are watching in the garage. They're both very pregnant, but we're not exactly sure when they'll be birthing, so we just keep an eye on them. They're very wild so we can't really examine them either, but we hope that by seeing us interact with Twitchet and his mom these other ewes will get used to the idea of having humans around when their babies arrive.

Friday, February 5, 2010

January "Ink and Fairydust"

Where is it?

Well, a certain layout editor moved cross-country and got a new job and suddenly had no time.


However I am now hard at work at pulling it together and will hopefully have it for your reading pleasure very shortly.

Meanwhile the forum, the moderators and myself have been hard at working figuring out how to share more of the workload so that we can get future issues out in a more timely manner. We have several new ideas and strategies we are testing out, and our target release date for the February issue is Valentine's Day.

We would appreciate your prayers, and as always, thank you for your encouragement in reading our hard work!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

What is it like to be a Nanny?

I always used to wonder. One reads about Mary Poppins and Maria Von Trapp and Jane Eyre, but what is life like for a modern-day nanny in a middle-class home?

Here's a peek into my life.

Things I do as a nanny...

I take care of six children, todder through jr. high. This includes a variety of things, with differant expectations depending on whether the parents are home or extremely busy. I might do anything from supervising chores, to changing diapers, to taking them outside, to making a meal.

However my primary responsibility is to supervise most of the education Mondays - Thursdays for the four older children. That means I have a bit of a one-room schoolhouse set up, as I have an 8th grader, a 6th grader, a 4th grader, and a 1st grader. It's a wide-range, but I enjoy teaching all of them.

We cover:


Some of my favorite things are teaching the younger ones their science (we're studying the human body and we've got a wonderful book that even I am learning things from), doing writing with my 4th grader, or flash cards with the two-year-old who likes to sneak in and join our lessons. ;)

Right now most of the kids are gone and I'm getting a bit of a break before I have to get started on supper prep. The two-year-old is currently taking a nap on my lap while I write. Peaceful. :)

Monday, February 1, 2010


Today I started something new.


I have a friend down in my new place of employment that is fairly good with them, and he is instructing me in proper use. I started out with a foam pair, but almost immediatly switched over to wood. The wood ones are dangerous because they hurt a LOT if they hit you - I have a fairly nasty bruise developing on one of my knuckles - but the balance is SO much better and they swing a lot smoother. Anyhow, I have some basic moves down and I'm looking forwards to learning more soon.

Like tomorrow, maybe.