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.