Help publish a WWI novel?

I’m sharing this here in the hopes that some of my readers will be able to help. Schuyler of My Lady Bibliophile has written a historical fiction novel that sounds like a lot of fun, from what I’ve read about it on her blog. She’s trying to get it published this year.

The Kickstarter thingamabob is running out of time in — as of right now — 13 11hours. Also as of right now, she has about 500 300 (Yay!) dollars to raise. The way Kickstarter works, you either get all or nothing. If she’s raised only $4,999 of her $5,000 goal by when her time’s up, she doesn’t get a penny of it.

One of the drawbacks of being unemployed is that I haven’t earned any money. One of the drawbacks of that, is that I’m short on spending money. I can’t help financially, though I’d love to buy the book. So I’m promoting it here in case any of you might be interested or able to contribute. The link is here:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/968825317/bring-war-of-loyalties-to-print-historical-fiction. (You have to copy and paste the text here into a new window, sorry — I can’t get the link to work for some reason.)

She’s so close! How could I wait any longer?

Posted in Books, Historical fiction | Leave a comment

Peculiar difficulties in rewriting Of the North

I have returned to the haunts of men! (In company with a cat who’s guarding her matryoshka keychain like a dragon.) Maybe I’ll be back to something like my normal posting schedule now.

They say that one of the best ways to learn how to write is by writing, and they also say you can’t learn how to write books, just the book you’re working on at the time. Now, some things are the same from one book to another. Having rounded characters, or showing instead of telling, or avoiding preachiness, you can learn while writing one story and carry over to the next. But you can learn how to do a first person point of view in a story, and try it with the next story only to find it doesn’t work with the main character’s voice, or maybe you have too many p. o. v. characters for first person to make any sense, and you end up learning how to do omniscient.

This is the first time I have re-done a historical fiction. I’m not sure what to call what I’m doing, as it’s very heavy revising, so it might be rewriting, except without the connotation of changes to the plot that rewriting has. I’m not changing the plot, though I’ve found myself changing smaller details of exactly what happens. AEschild still meets Sunnild in the garden, for example, but I describe their meeting differently. Mostly I’m taking the bones of the story, which are already there, and expanding, putting in more detail, and telling it better. My writing has improved over the last year and a half.

My past self annoys me, though. My first garb was inaccurate partly because I was new to research and mixed up the tenth century with the ten hundreds. When I did my research for the first draft things weren’t much better. I decided in the last week of October to do the story for NaNo, which didn’t give me a lot of time to do new research. I went mostly off the stuff I’d already done for my persona (since conveniently the century is the same), which hadn’t been very deep yet. And I’d made more use of 19th-century sources than I should have. Put not your trust in princes, nor in those sons of men who have a romanticized view of history and little access to primary sources!

Because I’m finding out, a year and a half later, how inadequate and sometimes inaccurate my research was, it’s making a lot more work this time around. I’m digging into the history of the Vulgate (though that does double duty for Wind Age too), theories of literacy in the era (is the mass-priest literate or semi-literate, and what about English as opposed to Latin?), where they’d get honey from if there wasn’t a monastery close by, and the equivalent of marriage banns. I found a couple of books on Anglo-Saxon liturgy, published quite recently, but they’re expensive and don’t appear to be in our library database.

What about genuflecting in the doorway of a church — was that done? How much thread can you get off one fleece? I learned a church like the one in the story wouldn’t have glass windows, but at least I got the shape right the first time around. What’s the word for mother-in-law? What’s the minimum number of pins for a good veil that will stay on all day? (This needs more testing than book-research.) Are bone or metal pins more likely? (Bone, in case you were wondering.) And so on, and so on.

I’m learning a lot the hard way, and things I should have known a long time ago. It’s good to do lots more research before you write the novel than after, though there will always be those things you couldn’t foresee, popping up in the middle and halting the writing until you’ve answered the question. These times can be frustrating, because you put a lot of work into a single sentence, but it’s important too, because it’s those things as much as anything else that give the feeling of reality. But mostly, if you properly research things ahead of time, you avoid the risk of building the plot on something that never happened, or around some deed that would not be socially acceptable at all. So far that hasn’t happened to me, though.

I’m going to keep talking about how important details are. The general time and place help to make the story historical fiction rather than the kind of story that could take place anywhere at any time. Even smaller details, the cut of a neckline, the style of veil, or whether there’s buttons on a shirt, make the time more specific, sometimes narrowing things down to a single decade. The exact river running through the town, or the name of the fortress on a hill where a climactic scene takes place, narrow the focus from “this country” to a specific dot on a map. Focus a little closer on the everyday details, and there! You’ve captured a moment in time that can’t be mistaken for anything else.

One of the hardest things right now is that the more I write about AEschild being in the eleventh century, or her homesickness for it in the twenty-first, or the SCA events that are a part of it, the more I want to wear garb myself, or go to an event barefoot, or something. I have gotten to do chores in a skirt a couple of times this week, but that’s not quite the same thing. (One evening my sister and I killed a snake while we were both in skirts, and exulted over our abilities. . . a couple of days later I got the wrong end of a goat on one side of my skirt and diatomaceous earth on the other. There’s no in-between.) Next Saturday we may get to go to a garbed fighters’ practice kind-of-sort-of hosted by our officially-forming-group, and either that will satisfy my longing or make it worse.

Posted in Historical fiction, Of the North, Research, Revision, SCA, Writing | Tagged | Leave a comment

In Which I write about good things and heresy

This afternoon I am in the basement puzzling over a laundry conundrum, while my sister has tea and cookies with one of her girl friends upstairs. I’ve got a comfy blanket, a buffalo rug, and baroque guitar music, and The Fellowship of the Ring is waiting next to me. Earlier this week Olivia and I stopped at the library book sale. I was looking in one row and she in another, and she came up all excited. “They’re selling Paradise Lost, do you want it?”

“Of course! Show me!” (Inwardly I was cursing the library system for daring to get rid of such a book, while celebrating our own good fortune in being the ones to buy it. Finding good books at a library sale is a complex moral situation.)

So we hurried over. And there, on top of a stack of books in a box, was a hardcover staring up at me. It said PARADISE LOST, all right, in inch-high letters — but it was some Western-romance-murder-mystery-thing most definitely not by John Milton.

But the next day I checked out a book that turned out to be really good, and while Olivia and I were doing chores, I spouted off something about good books and she said “What were you saying?” and I said “Oh, nothing.”

But so rare is the feeling of having found a good book, that I think it’s a good thing to not-complain for once (I do a lot of complaining, especially about books, on this blog).

It is good to look down at the book in your hands and know:

For every cliched fantasy, where you know everything that’s coming next, because it’s the same cliche that’s been written a million and one times, there’s a Wingfeather Saga.

For every cliched “Christian historical romance” which, like the Holy Roman Empire, is neither Christian, nor historical, nor particularly Romantic, there’s The Gest of Beren and Luthien.

For every Da Vinci Code there’s a Dictionary of the Targumim, the Talmud Babli and Yerushalmi, and the Midrashic Literature. (I don’t know myself how good the latter book is, never having read it, but it’s a safe bet it’s better quality all around, in morals and in writing.) Or, better yet, there’s a Church History: An Introduction to Research, Reference, Works, and Methods. Now there’s one he could seriously stand to have in his bibliography, and none of this Gospel of Thomas poppycock, humbug, balderdash, and claptrap. >_< Four years. Four years and that still makes me scream internally. Well, they do say S. Nicholas punched Arius in the face after one of the debates over the latter’s ‘own personal truth’. ANYWAY. Moving on to the subject of good literature.

For every poorly-researched “historical” novel (hrrhm’phm, Dan Brown and G. A. Henty, I do mean you, for slightly different reasons), there’s an Edge on the Sword or Across Five Aprils or Adam of the Road or Black Fox of Lorne or Door in the Wall or The King’s Shadow. (And hopefully someday an Of the North and a Wind Age. Though re-researching OtN is giving me headaches. (What was I saying about moving on to good literature? Oh, right.))

For every Paradise Lost written in the 20th or 21st century (I didn’t check the date), there is Milton’s true life’s work. (Should I sue that authour for false advertising or plagiarizing titles or something? But then I’d have to sue Peter Jackson for his dwarf movies too. (What did I say about not complaining in a post this time?))

For every book about necessary evils and how it’s conceivable that we can be genuinely truthful to our co-conspirators regardless of how many lies we’ve told to other people (unless it’s also okay to lie to our co-conspirators, Harry Potter; and either way we’re looking at the destruction of Western Civilization), there’s a Pendragon’s Heir.

For everything written merely to amuse, there’s a tome of G. K. Chesterton or C. S. Lewis.

For every mediocre novel by George MacDonald, forerunner of the Christian Romance section, there’s a Princess and the Goblin, Princess and Curdie, At the Back of the North Wind, Portent, Lilith, and Phantastes.

For every atrocious bit of crime fiction out there (a genre I seem to have taken an especial dislike to since this spring’s writing workshop), there’s a Dorothy Sayers novel.

For every Love Wins  or Altar Call or Finney Lives On (all of which I think I can see from where I sit, or at least, I could before Dad rearranged the library), you can hit a heretic over the head with The Complete Sermons of Martin Luther, or Calvin’s Institutes, or Religious Affections, or the Summae, or Augustine’s Confessions. (All of which are quite large enough on their own to deliver a good thump to a heretical skull, and the insides are especially potent when you want to stun and disarm your opponent. (Why do I seem preoccupied with the notion of physical injury to heretics today?))

For every goody-goody, insipid, safe “children’s retelling of a fairy story, which by the way we don’t believe in at all, but it’s okay for the little kids, right?”, there’s an Ordinary Princess by M. M. Kaye and a Silver Trumpet by Owen Barfield, a Smith of Wootton Major, and a Farmer Giles of Ham, a Wonderful O, a Thirteen Clocks, and too many more to list.

For every modern, up-to-date and progressive, feministic, inclusive version of history, despising all versions written by those infamous “dead white guys”, there’s a Faerie Queene, Le Mort D’Artur, City of God, Pendragon’s Heir to show how medievals really thought. (You know I had to mention it twice.)

For every “inspirational Christian fiction” title that’s more like “mindless Pelagian goop” if advertising were honest, there’s a Cry, the Beloved Country.

And time will fail me if I try to tell of the Mind of the Maker, or History in English Words, and especially if I try to list all the Good Chesterton.

For every dark depressing dreary dystopian disgrace to the name of novel, there’s a book like The Girl Who Drank the Moon, to remind us of the value of life, the power of hope, and the magic of words.

There’s really a surprising number of good books in the world, when you think about it.

And thanks to good old Gutenberg, and a few others, we get to have all these jewels and more for a dollar fifty each at Half Price Books (or just 30 cents each for the 21-volume set of The Book of Knowledge, 1937 edition), even though we’re middle class.

The Girl Who Drank the Moon is this week’s discovery. My sister’s started it, and I’ll keep it around till my mother gets home so she can read it too. I obviously commend it.

Spot the Studio C quotes (alliteration is awesome).

Posted in Books, Fiction, Historical fiction, Non-fiction, Of the North, Reading | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Nothing to see here

My mother’s gone this week, off to the other side of the continent, leaving me and my sister with two horses, a goat, two rabbits, and three cats to take care of, with animal chores at 7, 10, 1, 4, 6:30, and 8 every day. My sister’s also in her last week of Driver’s Ed. So you might not want to expect regular posting this week, although I want to talk about what happens when you try to rewrite historical fiction, and my plans for July Camp NaNo. You’ll never live to wed his niece. You’ll only die to feed his geese. Goodbye, goodnight, and sorry.

*vanishes like a fly in the mouth of a frog*

Posted in Ordinary life | Tagged | Leave a comment

In Which I do something controversial (quite an oddity for me)

Having finally struggled through to the end of the Harry Potter series, I am, of course, going to write about it.

I intended never to waste time reading the books, let alone watching the movies, but a couple of friends of mine told me (not in so many words, and of course more politely) that my opinion doesn’t matter if I haven’t read them. Which makes sense — unless you know what you’re talking about, you can hardly expect people to think of you as an authourity. So I decided to try.

I’ll start with the problems I found.

First, a serious problem with morals. This is a world without a map. I don’t object immediately to a secular worldview in a book written by an authour with wrong ideas, because it would be quite unfair to expect a good worldview under those circumstances. However, in a case like this, where magic is an essential part of the whole thing, it points out its own shortcomings. Magic exists and some people have it — that’s neat, yes, but where did it come from? If it’s something outside the normal natural order, which seems to be the case since not everybody can use it, how did it come to be? Who put its rules in place? For spells as tricky and complicated as the one used to Apparate, you’d think some kind of Intelligent Designer is needed. But no one ever mentions anything of the sort. Some things, such as the power that’s stronger than death, are acknowledged to be mysteries. That’s nice and all, but that doesn’t answer the question.

The bad guys are bad, and the good guys, being not-as-bad, are called good. The thing is, they often use situational ethics and things like “the end justifies the means”. How does that make them any better than their enemies? In the last couple of books, Harry tries to use Unforgivable Curses on some of his enemies, and nothing ever hints that he was wrong to do so. Dumbledore, in one place, encourages Harry to lie, and (spoilers ahead) arranges his own death by assisted suicide, under the pretext that this is the only way things will work out all right. (What I’d like to know is why he wasn’t in Slytherin, with a mind like that?) (End spoilers) Whatever happened to Spenser’s “Die rather, than do aught, that might dishonour yield”? And even this isn’t hinted at as being bad. I don’t need an interjection from the narrator to say, “And so, children, you must never ever let the end justify the means”, which is bad writing on many levels, but you’d think a little poetic justice wouldn’t hurt.

In this world without a map, so far all of this is perfectly consistent with the worldview. If there is no order, rule, or law imposed on the universe from an outside authourity, it certainly doesn’t make sense to say “It’s wrong for everybody to use Unforgivable Curses, even Harry Potter the Chosen One”. By this worldview, it’s actually quite consistent to make exceptions here, or there, or everywhere. That’s a logical application of the worldview, internally consistent. There’s nothing wrong with it except that it’s wrong. (Am I making any sense?)

Everybody’s fighting Voldemort, because he’s bad. But what are you fighting for? Is it merely a negative thing: to have no positive evil left? Or are you fighting for a positive good? Defeat Voldemort — so that what? To preserve what goodness, truth, or beauty? So that the likes of Fred and George can keep setting off Dungbombs in Filch’s office? The world they’re trying to keep feels a bit sordid. It’s not a question of saving it. It’s a question of getting rid of the evil, and then turning to (what may be an even bigger job) cleaning up the world. If they do bother cleaning it up at all.

Then came the ending of the last book. (Naturally, spoilers follow) I started the last book being quite fed up with various and sundry issues that had persisted through the entire series so far, and was beginning to seriously consider skipping to the end (something I almost never do). But I resisted temptation. Anyway, the ending was surprisingly good, considering. Considering the inevitable presence of “good” situational ethics, the usual cliched villain monologue, Voldemort being a perfect fool when it comes to strategy, a glimpse of a rather unsatisfying afterlife. But even the quality of the writing suddenly got better, and Harry’s sacrifice was a splendid picture, not allegorical, of course, of sacrificial love.

The thing is. . . I didn’t like it. Coming on its own, or ending a series which had been, all the way through, up to the same level, it would have been even more stunning. But coming after a series where you have a personification of pure evil (Voldemort, in case you hadn’t guessed) but no corresponding personification of pure good (since all the candidates, Harry, Dumbledore, etc. freely admitted they have many, many faults) — well, it’s morally inconsistent. With a worldview that has no ultimate authourity or absolute morality, where do you even get the idea that sacrificial love is a good thing? Dumbledore arranged his own death, and made someone he trusted kill him, so that “good” could win. Harry has broken rules (and been rewarded for it) and told lies (and good things have happened because of, not in spite of, those lies). If none of this is bad, and can be even good, who’s to say it wouldn’t have been better for Harry not to lay down his life for his friends? This is not a very convincing theory of the world. We’re missing something of vast importance here, and it shows.

Deep breath. Okay. If any of that made sense, and feel free to pester me in the comments if it didn’t (or if you understood and disagree), let’s move on to the other problems I had with it.

1. Poor writing. One of the most basic rules in writing is “Show, don’t tell”. A lot of times, not always, but more often than not, there’s more telling in a scene than there ought to be. I’m a writer, so excessive use of adjectives, or having no better way to communicate anger than to write in all caps, bothers me. Other people might not notice it so much. But still, bearing with that kind of writing for seven (some of them quite long) books, rewriting scenes in your head most of the time, does get tiresome.

2. Flat characters. Now some of them, the main characters, and once in a great while a secondary character, have a little depth. Or they change throughout the series, or grow up in some way, or you see a side of them you hadn’t before. Even Voldemort (spoilers for ending follow) has a bit of development when he calls off the battle at Hogwarts, saying he admires courage, and will give his enemies time and peace to bury their dead — and he doesn’t break his word, which your ordinary second-rate villain would waste no time in doing. I liked that. Too bad that’s about the only depth we get. Oh, there’s loads of backstory, but his present character, as we’re dealing with him for all seven books, is seriously lacking. But I’m getting ahead of myself. (End spoilers) Flat characters are a problem. First, real people (with, perhaps, occasional extremely rare exceptions) are not flat. So a flat character will of necessity be unrealistic. Also, it gets annoying quite quickly. With people like Lockhart, if he were vain, in addition to this, and with that, and another attribute to go along, his vanity would be bearable. But as it happens, all he is, is vain. You have to deal with his unrelenting vanity for an entire book. It doesn’t make me want to keep reading. Now Tonks was a better secondary character. If she were like a normal side character in the series, she’d be clumsy — and that would be all. Or she’d like to change her hair — and that would be her only attribute. Or she’d be in love with Lupin (whom I also liked), and we’d see nothing of her character beyond that. But, for a change, she’s a side character with more than one side, and that’s the way it should be. Too bad it wasn’t that way more often.

3. (And this goes along with the first two) Villain monologues. At the end of every book. You can’t avoid them. They’re always there. They’re never a good thing. The villain (whoever he happens to be in this case) catches Harry, has him at his mercy, and instead of doing the smart thing (from a villain’s point of view), which would be killing Harry without taking any chances on his escaping, he has to sit him down and talk to him. For pages upon pages upon pages. The villain, meanwhile, secure in the knowledge that though Harry has escaped six and a half times so far, under increasingly implausible circumstances, he can’t possibly get away this time. “All right,” you say, “it’s not the best move, but Rowling has a lot of details to work in and things to connect.” It’s a sign of bad writing that that’s the best way she can do that, though, quite apart from the bad strategy. If it happened once, you could overlook it, but no, it has to happen seven times.

Now that I’ve torn the entire thing apart, and found fault even with the ending’s splendid theme of sacrificial love, you might be wondering if I found anything good about the books.

I found several things, in fact.

Once in a while the usual poor quality of the writing disappears and an actually well-written passage pops up. The plotting is done very well. More than once I was laughing aloud at some of the humour. The occasional character will be lovable, or grow, or have some good lines. The worldbuilding is very well done indeed. If I go on and on about these things as much as I went on about the flaws, I’ll take too much time. But, nonetheless, I don’t think Harry Potter is an unmitigated evil of poor writing. It has good spots. The series, dare I say it, is not a flat, one-sided character.

“Aren’t you forgetting something?” you say. “There’s no such thing as a Christian review of Harry Potter that doesn’t attack the magic.”

Well. . . you thought for sure I was going to get to it when I was talking about the lacking morality, didn’t you? No such luck. I actually. . . didn’t think it was much of a problem.

Don’t look so shocked. Listen to me explain why. It’ll be the last monologue from my side for a while.

Magic, in the world of Harry Potter, is something you’re born with, and then you go to school to learn how to deal with it (and keep it under control, unless you’re Fred or George). So it’s not going to be nudging a child to try to learn how to do magic in this world, because it’s not a thing you learn, and if you’re not born with it (and you’d know if you are), you’re stuck as a magicless Muggle. So if the point of the books is to encourage people to dabble in the occult, it’s shooting itself in the foot.

Secondly, the class which comes closest to being like a form of magic in our world, Divination, is one the books make the most fun of. I don’t have the books with me, so I can’t copy a passage to show you what I mean. But Hermione, the rationalist, walks out of the class (something she’s not at all the type to do) because she’s fed up with how silly and superstitious it is. The teacher has only made one or two true prophecies in her life, though at the beginning of every school year she predicts the death of one of her students. That sort of thing. So if the point of the books is to encourage a belief in Astrology, fortune-telling, and the like, it took the wrong tack by making fun of itself.

I’m probably forgetting something.

Posted in Book review | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Green cyrtel project post

As you’ll know if you’ve particularly noticed the SCA side of this blog, the hem of my green cyrtel (also known, later on, as kirtle) annoyed me. I thought I was being smart and not wasting fabric when I ignored the t-tunic pattern’s directions to round off the bottom of the gores. Afterward I learned why the pattern says that: it’s because it makes the hem a lot more even.

This is the second summer that I’ve looked at and said, “Maybe I’ll do something to the green this time,” and I actually got around to doing it.

Here’s how it looked before, to refresh your memory:

ravelry

Part of the cause of the unevenness is that I hung the fabric up to dry after washing it, when I first got it, and its own weight pulled on it enough to stretch it into a not-quite-rectangle. I can’t do anything about that, so that will stay. You can see its effects clearly in this picture — notice the way the front and back parts (not the gores — the body) don’t line up.

IMG_1619.JPG

First I took out my scissors and cut the seams of the gores, leaving me with two triangles and something kind of like a tabard with sleeves. You can see them in this picture.

“But,” you say, “there’s two other triangles in the picture too. What are they for?”

Well, when I rounded off the bottom edges of the gores, I found I lost about two feet of width off the hem. Which in itself is fine, as the skirt still has (or would have, when reassembled) plenty of room to move in. But my smock has quite a wide skirt, and I didn’t fancy bunching all that up under my cyrtel now that it’s suddenly so much narrower. So I took out my leftover fabric, and (with lots of help from my sister, both with math and with actually cutting, since the scissors don’t co-operate with me being left-handed) cut out two more narrow gores to replace the yardage I lost.

This is another thing I really like about doing just two wide gores at the sides and not bothering to slit up the front and back of the body piece to put gores there too. It’s a lot easier to adjust things like this. There is a disadvantage, though, which is that all the weight of the wool hangs from the narrowest part of the gore where it meets the body, and tends to pull and make holes there. I wasn’t sure how I’d prevent that this time around.

I started the project on May 5th, and on the 23rd of the same month I finished it. I only had so much time because I brought it to my grandmother’s, when we went to visit her for five days or so. It turned out really nicely! The fabric didn’t quite match up between the tops of the gores and the sleeves — the pictures make that clearer — and I could have avoided that if I took off the sleeves and sewed them back on, but I’d done enough work already. Even though small holes are forming in the armpits, where seams meet seams, and they probably need taking care of soon. . .

I washed it and that did wonders for the crooked body. The hem is still not perfectly level, the gores being on the floor, in fact, but it’s much, much better. And. . . somehow I went up a social class or two just because my skirt is a couple of inches longer. Because it’s not just about “I can afford to waste two more inches of fabric”, it’s the difference between having a skirt that comes to the top of your feet and having one that trails on the floor. The latter says “I don’t have to do hard physical work where this would be a problem getting muddy or caught in things or torn”. This also makes it harder to do the seventh-century look, which shouldn’t be a problem very often, as I’m mostly eleventh-century (late) Anglo-Saxon.

I really like how it turned out. The gores now come low enough (though the tops aren’t level with each other) that I have something of a waist, not as much of a potato sack. It also means I get rid of those wads of extra fabric up by my armpits, which is nice. The tops turned out really nicely. The entire time I was worried about how they’d work out, because I’m not very good with them, and I had three separate seams converging up there to deal with. The hem is much more even now.

I suppose you’d like pictures.

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These were taken the evening I finished, before I washed it, so you can see how the one seam still slants.

I really want to test how well it does in rain, so that I can write those parts better for Of the North. But my mother thinks I’m crazy for suggesting it. Maybe if we get a good rain during the day, now that it’s wearable again and I’m home, I’ll try it.

unnamed (20)

Posted in SCA | Tagged , | 2 Comments

May wrap-up

Writing:

Working, here and there, on Of the North. I’m trying to stick to chapter order, but not succeeding very well, so I jump around from one spot to the next.

Currently I have 11,345 words in the “New/rewritten OtN scenes” document and 4,496 of notes for plot and character development in another document. Sometime this week I organized things, so now when I get to a certain place, I don’t have to search as much for notes for it. I also have things organized under headings for characters, so if I’m working on developing a character, it’s easy to find. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s been a busy month requiring lots of socializing.

By the way, in case you hadn’t noticed, writing is not an escape from real life. I wrote a post about OtN’s progress the other day, and at the time I had one of the things-to-change in the back of my mind, but in an “I’ll get to it eventually” sort of way. The next day it came smack and hit me, and because I left it so late, stopped my progress on another area. I thought “I should have attended to it as soon as it came up, so I could keep working smoothly.” That’s a lesson for life too.

The Rooglewood contest for this year is Snow White. You might remember I mentioned a fairy-tale-ish Mediterranean-feeling story? I thought of trying it for the contest if it fit with the story they picked. Last week I suddenly (in the shower, of course) discovered the climactic scene, possibly the ending scene, and the theme. Now I’m assailed by the usual doubts about whether it’s possible to fit it all into 20,000 words. But the mood of this story is quite bright and sunny, except when the villain’s around (those villains do seem to like intruding where they’re not wanted), and I’ve always thought of Snow White as being like dark chocolate. So we’ll see, if the plots turn out to have any similarities, what happens then. I like Helen’s story enough to work on it regardless.

Reading:

I started May (and the holidays) by being sick, so I got lots of reading done.

Farmer Giles of Ham, Adam of the Road, The Door in the Wall, Pooh, part of The Thirteen Clocks, and:

The first six Harry Potter books. I’ll talk more about them when I’ve read the last one. I’m only reading them because some friends of mine kept saying words to the effect that I can’t judge them on hearsay, if I haven’t read them myself. I think the quality of my writing has been suffering a bit because of it. Tolkien or the Wingfeather Saga will be next.

SCA:

I redid my green cyrtel, which will have a post of its own coming up. Also, our group is officially a forming group.

Life:

I spent the night between exams with Jenny, and this is how my attempts at being grown-up went.

Monday afternoon at Jenny’s: Jenny: “I don’t normally eat supper at five, so if you aren’t hungry yet that’s all right.” I sat down to do school, finished a project, and started helping her make fringes on Lord Manfred’s belt, talking of this and that and weird writerly things. We finished that and I said, “What time is it?” Checked the time. “Seven thirty-two!” So we had to run for supper.

We went out to the van and saw that the side door was wide open and had apparently been that way for the last two hours. Jenny: “Did you not shut the door?” Me: “I thought of course I had. . .” So I looked in to see if anything was missing, hoping nobody stole the school books I had to return the next day, the only things I thought were of value in it. But, providentially, everything was still there.

Monday night when ordering at Culver’s: “Chicken’s meal kid’s — [dissolve into laughter here] — kid’s meal chicken fingers, please.”

When opening said kid’s meal: “There’s no spoon for the applesauce.”

Monday night, as I was going to bed: I forgot to take my allergy medicine.

Tuesday morning when I woke up: I have a sore throat. I bet it’s that horrible cold that’s been going around church. Lovely.

Tuesday morning while dressing: I forgot the hairbrush.

Tuesday morning when leaving for school with fifteen minutes before the exam: Traffic. How perfect.

Tuesday morning partway through the Aesthetics exam: It is that cold. When I told it I could get sick once school was done, I didn’t mean right now.

Otherwise, we spent a lovely evening talking about writing, SCA projects, and the value of eyes on the black market everything else under the sun, and between us we may have worked out a few of our plot problems. (Richard’s p. o. v. is working out splendidly now.)

Then I came home and got sick and spent the next couple of days reading.

Also, my father finally graduated with his Ph.D.

Last week I went to the first bit of a conference on the Reformation, which was fun in a heady intellectual sort of way. I was glad I got to hear the part on Sola Scriptura, which might help when, you know, talking to all my Catholic friends. . .

It was a bit of a crazy month, and June and July aren’t looking to be much more settled. I wish. I’d like a quiet summer for a change, especially as this might be the last before I’m officially grown up with all the rights, honours, privileges, and responsibilities pertaining thereto. One more for the road. . .

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