2/22/12

Clouds in my coffee

Swirling round and round...scatterbrained threads of ideas, whirling at the tiniest motion of my stirring spoon--so easily within reach yet determinedly unattainable.  I watch as each idea filters through my fingers like fog, sliding down into the cup of chaos--efficiently evading my attempts to capture it with ink upon paper.  The pen is listless in my hand...words refusing to pour from its tip.  
And I watch, as yet another whimsical notion escapes my grasp and sinks into the bowl full of brilliant but unwritten masses of my inklings that a publisher has yet to discover. 

Tangles of mindless thoughts eddy around: clouds in my coffee...

2/16/12

Quotes by famous people--aka, my characters

Sometimes, when I read back over my writing, I find it amusing when I see some of the things I wrote.  And I wonder why did I even bother to jot down those sentences?  And then other times, I wonder whose hands were writing those words at the time to make them flow so well.  Because I'm sure I didn't.  

Even so, I thought I would favor my readers with some quotes from my characters in some of my stories--in the hopes that you can gain some insight into their mysterious lives that have yet to reveal their secrets to me.  Because, as of yet, I still don't know exactly how their stories are going to play out.  [And on some of the pictures it says "By S. Jackson", because that is my figment pseudonym, for those of you who didn't know.]




"But when you’re hungry, you’ll eat just about anything you can get.  And so I buried my misgivings in the scrumptious flavor of the poverty-stricken fest before me." -Scottie O'Cleaveland, thirteen-year-old protagonist and rebel in Den of Thieves. 




"But time, however short, was what he’d been given in the present to play a deadly game of catch; for time is a fickle substance that cannot be measured in weight or ounces, cannot be seen or heard except through the ticking of a clock––steadily, doggedly continuing on no matter how much one person begs for it to turn back and walk the previous path of fate, its robes of generations cascading about the universe." -Sixteen-year-old Will Russell, soon to be convicted of treason, resistance to authority, fraternizing with enemies of the Republic, assisting said enemies with illegal activities, and murder--Starkeeper's Gate.

“Drake, You’ve got nerve to be here.  And if you can fly, then don’t let politics get in the way.  Go with your gut feeling, and you’ll soar.  Understand me?” -Sixteen-year-old pilot Kit Morgan, arrested for acting as a spy for the Sky Force in their efforts to launch a rebellion against the Uplands.

"Don’t forget, dearie, war’s not about what you want, but about what you’re willing to sacrifice.  God bless your husband."  -Mrs. Oomlan, an eccentric, quirky lady living in the next door apartment in Every Girl Loves a Sailor.
"Her spirit refused to be doused.  She thought of what it would mean if she talked, who else would die or have to endure this hell she was in.  She couldn’t––wouldn’t––succumb to the pain, taking the easy way out, and sentence her friends to sure death." -Twelve-year-old Kently, a girl who has nothing left save a friend, Will Russell--Starkeeper's Gate.

Well, there you have it: some insight into a few of my characters.  Now I just have to finish their stories.  

-Editor.

One Million Colors...

So recently, I heard a song called "Spiders Web" by Katy Melua, and in it she says "The piano keys are black and white, but they sound like a million colors in your mind."  And I just thought, Wow!  That phrase is just, I don't know how to explain it.  There are some words in this world, simple words, that, when put together, create such beautiful sentences--and this is one of them.  


And I thought, that's how it is when you write.  The words on the page are black--stark and plain, little black lines that are colorless.  But when you craft and mix them to create a sentence, they become many different colors--forming a story, descriptions, and phrases, all in your mind.  Words are such fickle things.  Sometimes they don't fit in just the right way, or sometimes they just won't flow through your pen at all.  But when they do, when you succeed in forming those beautiful sentences, they feel like a million colors in your mind.


2/15/12

This picture...

I don't know what it is, but this picture nearly moves me to tears every time I see it.  It illustrates true companionship, even in hard times.  Dogs are so loyal, you know that?  They don't care what you look like, how you talk, or what you're peculiarities are.  They are your friend, through thick and thin, always looking out and comforting you as no other human friend could.  


My computer cord is back!

Well, more specifically, I had to order a new one.  So I've lived without my laptop for almost two weeks! So I'm sorry I haven't been posting regularly, and I promise to soon remedy that--now that my laptop is working.  

2/11/12

I took the ACT today

Yes.  I think I bombed the science; I might have done a little bit all right on the math, and I think I did well on the reading, writing, and grammar. 

So...now the anxiety of waiting for my scores.  Got up at 6:20 [around there] this morning, and went and took a long test, with hardly any good sleep the night before.  That is, I didn't sleep well--even though I went to bed fairly early.  

So, how are you all doing?

2/9/12

Writer's Block

I have writer's block.  It's official.  I have this idea for a new book in my head, and the more I look at it the more I hate it and see how cliche it is.  So, I decided to post a sample from the middle of a book I'm writing called Cheshire

Hope you enjoy it:  


Sixteen-year-old Devon, his heart beating very fast, his knuckles white on the hilt of his weapon, reached up a gloved hand and pushed his dark hair out of his eyes.  Already, beads of sweat were gathering on his brow, making his eyes smart and his vision cloud.  Slowly, he walked with deliberate steps, as though they might be his very last, to his place: a black marble square to the right of the exarch.  He was a chevalier, and the emblem of a blue horse was emblazoned on his surcoat.  To his right was the rook.

Cheshire. 
That was the game, although to call it a game would be almost an outright lie.  It was a battle—a brutal, bloody battle.  It was fought every two years at the field of Starlion, a no-man’s-land for Terryl and Taska.  The players consisted of one Monarch, one Crown, two Exarches, two Cavaliers, two Rooks, and sixteen Pawns for each team.  Players from ages fourteen to eighteen were chosen during the spring—twenty-four Warriors from Terryl, and twenty-four Lockborns from Taska, whether it was against their will or not.  It was fought to keep peace between the two countries.  The treaty stated:
The winner of the tournament shall receive a contract that grants trading rights, quest rights, and settlement privileges.  This contract will hold for a year until the next tournament. 
I do hereby agree to this contract,
Roland of Chetny, King of Terryl
I do hereby agree to this contract,
Garzman of Ranl, Warlock of Taska
Everyone from the two countries abided by these rules, but that didn’t make the fighting any easier. 
Devon looked at the playing field: a giant marble slab with ebony and ivory squares for fighters to stand on.  The black and white stretched on and on across to the far side, and tall marble pillars flanked all the sides like silent sentries.  Vines and tangled briars wound their way up columns, creating an eerie and beautiful atmosphere that contrasted starkly with the deadly undercurrent that flowed throughout the combatants and spectators alike. 
On the other side, facing the Warriorkind youths, were the Lockborns from Taska.  They were arrayed differently than the Warriors, not wearing heavy armor and carrying broad swords, but dressed in light chain mail and tunics.  Some carried thin swords and long daggers, others carried staffs or clubs.  But all of them—lockborn, warlock, warrior, nobility—knew that this was no fun game.  It was war.  Death.  And they’d been chosen to play it. 
He looked around at his teammates: some were taut, their muscles tight and waiting, while others rolled their arms around to loosen the kinks.  Devon himself tried to relax his body, forcing it to obey him.  That was the key to winning a fight: being in control of your reflexes and abilities.  This was ensured by a calm and loose stance. 
He didn’t want to look into the adversaries’ faces, read their eyes: the fear, the hate, the survival that was written there.  He didn’t think that he would hesitate when the time came to kill.  They’d all been training for the past months to become killers with a high amount of skill.  And when it came to life or death—and when the other player was doing his best to kill him—he knew he would choose life. 
And that thought sickened him.
Devon looked up at the raised table above on the grass that surrounded the whole Starlion dais, and saw Roland and Garzman—king and warlock—draw slips of paper from a goblet.  That would decide who would move first.  Devon steeled himself to look away and focus only on the playing ground.
Garzman’s voice rang out across the deadly silence.
“Sixteen pawn to 8-6.” 
Lockborns first.  A youth carrying a short sword and a cat's claw on his tunic stepped forward two black squares on the marble board.  First move.  One down.  No fighting yet. 
Then it was King Roland’s turn.
“Fifteen pawn to 7-4.” 
There it was.  The first challenge.  Devon winced as Fal walked forward, his hand shaking slightly on the hilt of his weapon.  Decon knew almost every teammate he had—memorized their names and faces pointlessly—and Fal was going to be the first to fight, first to draw blood, either his or the other player’s.  The two pawns were diagonal to each other and therefore had the right to engage.  But it was Garzman’s turn.  He had to call it. 
“Take.”
A simple word—one word that rang out across the dais like a thunderclap—that held the power to kill either of the two youths.  Immediately, the Lockborn—a tall boy arrayed in chainmail and carrying a thin sword—stepped onto the Fal’s square and the two faced off.  Circling, armor clinking, leather creaking—every little sound magnified in the choking silence.  The spectators surrounding the dais and standing in the Starlion field were holding their breaths, waiting for the first blow to fall, the first blood to drop. 
And it did.  The Lockborn stepped in quickly and did an overhead blow that Fal barely managed to parry, then spun quickly around with a feint and followed with a deadly back cut.  It was over in an instant—Fal’s muffled cry of surprise and pain, his body slowly crumpling—and the cheers started. 
Devon forced himself to stare straight ahead, to breathe evenly—he couldn’t do anything else.  Two surgeons came and collected Fal’s body, carrying him off on a makeshift stretcher.  The Lockborn now stood on Fal’s square. 
Slowly, but surely, Devon watched as the pawns began to move out onto the playing squares—fighting, dying, winning, and loosing for their country.  The board was opened up, spaces cleared, and the serious moves with the exarches, rooks, and cavaliers began. 
“First exarch to 4-3.” 
King Roland’s exarch was challenged by a Lockborn pawn, and the exarch claimed the square.  That opened up a space, and Devon knew what was coming next.  By now he felt numb, as if he didn’t have any feelings at all, as if his body were of lead—not flesh and bone.  His heart was ice, not a beating heart of blood capable of any feelings.  This wasn’t him doing it; it was his body, not his soul.  He was forced, forced to fight, kill, and be killed.  It wasn’t him. 
It couldn’t be him.
“First cavalier to 5-2.” 
Devon slowly stepped forward a square, then turned and walked two squares to the left.  He was now on an ivory tile.  He was immune to the sounds of battle around him, as one after another of the players were pitted against each other.  Everything was a blur of cheers, sweat, cries, and fear.
“Take.”  Garzman’s voice was strong, confident. 
And then suddenly, Devon was facing a challenger who had walked onto his square: a tall, broad youth with the image of a turret on his tunic holding a plain spear with a long head—a rook.  Devon looked into his eyes and saw hate and contempt, and he wondered how someone actually dueled with only a spear.  Maybe he would have a better chance with his broadsword. 
But just then the youth lunged forward with a blow intended to cleave Devon’s head from his shoulders, the raw force of gathered muscle behind it.  As Devon ducked and reached up to parry, he was nearly knocked down by the force which jarred his blade.  It was like strong current of pure energy was flowing in the spear, determined to knock everything else aside.  He scrambled to his feet in time to block another wide sideswipe, and this time his sword absorbed most of the shock. 
Both contenders backed up and faced off again. 
So this was how it was to fight a Warlock, thought Devon, breathing hard.  And he realized that he was going to have no more advantage over his enemy than his enemy had over him—just pure skill.  He processed this in his brain and was dull to everything else going on: the cheers, the crowd, the other players.  This was his fight—he would either live or die. 
The youth rushed forward with a back cut, which Devon neatly avoided while bring his own sword around to meet the blow that followed.  Again sword and spear clanged; again they separated.  The Lockborn feinted to Devon’s left then swung around again, and as Devon dove forward in a roll to miss the blow, the Lockborn brought his spear tip down upon him, piercing the skin where the breastplate ended. 
Devon felt a dull, fiery sensation in his left shoulder; he felt a warm, sticky stuff soaking his sleeve as it trickled down his arm.  But he didn’t care and was too much absorbed with the fight to feel the pain. 
The youth’s lips curled contemptuously as Devon scrambled up, and somehow that made it easier for what Devon had to do.  He rushed forward, and again they were locked in a dangerous game of footwork, strength, and agility—in which only one would be the victor.  And finally, as the youth made a stab meant to end Devon, the latter threw himself to the right and forward, and took his move—his one chance, his heavy blade standing between him and death. 
It was over. 
Devon stood shakily up and watched as they carried the body away, the body who once had a name, a family, a life.  He felt sick—horror-stricken.  But there was nothing he could do.  Kill, or be killed. 
 “First cavalier to 6-4.” 
Devon changed his place.  It struck him as odd, right then, how almost orderly everything seemed.  He could have an enemy on the square next to you, or right in front of him, but unless they were a crown or monarch, they couldn’t attack.  And even then, it had to be with a command.  Exarches attacked diagonally, so did pawns—although they could only move forward—and rooks could only go straight forward or sideways.  It wasn’t him doing the fighting; someone else was pulling the strings, holding sway over his life, choosing whom he would fight.  It wasn’t a battle, but a deadly sport of two minds without any thought to the cost of casualties. 
Devon turned his attention back to the scene in front of him as a Warrior exarch engaged in a deadly duel with a female Lockborn.  She was slim and small of stature, but lithe and fast.  And she was using this to her great advantage.  Sparks were licking at her red curls and flames were spitting down her curved blade, hissing and snapping: she was a Firelock.  Her eyes were focused and concentrated as she stepped in, out, and under the reach of her opponent’s broadsword, like a cat or a slippery eel.  He hacked at her, testing his weight and strength against her agility.  She swung around, feinting with her blade, and, moving with lightning speed, brought it around in a neat thrust that finished her rival.   All the Warriors on the board groaned as the girl took the fallen youth’s place, while the Lockborns cheered on their player.  Her face was deathly white, her lips trembling a bit—as if she just now realized the deed she’d done and could do nothing to take it back. 
“First Cavalier to 7-3.” 
As Devon stepped backward a square the two slabs to the right, he knew what was coming.  He was right across the diagonal line of the red-haired girl. 
“Second exarch to 7-3.” 
The girl did not look at Devon, as she strode down the crosswise ivory tiles until she was facing him.  Devon glanced into her eyes—steely grey that snapped and flashed with terror and anger—and knew that his fear was probably written in his own eyes as well. 
He was a puppet on strings.  He couldn’t chose what he wanted to do, whom he wanted to fight, or whether he wanted to fight at all.  He had to obey, move where the King wanted him to, being used as a sacrifice to open up moves for other players.  If the girl took him, then she’d have to fight the pawn that was directly behind Devon.  And she’d be trapped, either having to fight the rook or monarch.  King Roland was clearly trying to take her out, and was willing to risk Devon to do it. 
As Garzman’s voice said, “Take,” Devon knew he couldn’t do it.  He wouldn’t do it.  With a clang, his sword fell to the marble, and the silence that followed was almost tangible.
“Take him,” said Garzman quietly with a cold gaze. 
And then the girl’s weapon clanged to the ground as well. 
“I refuse,” she said in a clear voice that didn’t hold a tremor of fear

2/7/12

I found the dog I want...

...eventually.  I love big dogs.  Little dogs can go bark their hearts out down some hole.  I will always be a big dog person, with the exception of Jackies.  I love Jackies, grew up with Jackies, and some of my best friends have been Jackies.
Anyway, I've decided it.  I'm going to live somewhere far out in the country [preferably England or somewhere else in the UK], on the moor, or dales, and I'm going to own an Irish Wolfhound.  Big much?  Yes.  I will.  And I won't have to worry about my children when they're wandering about outside because the dog will take care of them--as dogs always did when I was little.  My mom wouldn't worry a bit on our ranch when my brother and I were off in the pastures alone when we were really little, because the dogs were always with us.  And a good thing, too, what with all the snakes and coyotes about all the time.

So here are some pictures of Irish Wolfhounds.  Lovable protectors of the family.  Aren't they huge?














Supporting Characters

This post goes out to Lydia Albano, who, like me, has a soft spot for supporting characters in books.  I don't know what it is, but only seldom do I fall for the main boy character wholeheartedly.  

For instance, in Lord of the Rings, I really don't like Frodo.  I prefer Sam so much better, because he's just a simple gardener who sticks by Frodo's side throughout thick and thin, persevering even though there's no hope left.  He has a lot of depth--in other words, he's not a flat character.  And neither is Frodo, for that matter.  But Sam is just--I don't know how to explain him.  He's just a wonderful best friend with a lot of heart and a love for growing things.  And I also like Pippin, instead of Frodo, not to mention Merry.  Oh, and don't get me started on Aragorn, who's my favorite character in the books!  Okay, I'll stop now.  

For those of you who have read Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain [one of my favorite books and authors] you know about Tom Sawyer and Joe Harper and Huckleberry Finn.  Now, I love Tom and Joe, and of course Sid [because he just gets Tom into a whole ton of trouble] but Huckleberry is by far the best, although he's a close call with Tom.  Just the whole, "I live in a hogshead barrel/first one without shoes in the spring/swears like a sailor/smoke a corncob pipe/don't have to go to school", atmosphere about him that makes all the other boys jealous and all their mother's displeased creates such an unforgettable character.  

Now, Harry Potter.  Who doesn't like Ron better than Harry, huh?  Anyone?  Well, maybe I'm the only one.  But Ron is SO awesome!  And he's a ginger from a family of gingers, and he loves Hermione and it's just so cute!  And Harry's, well...Harry.  Yeah, he's the Chosen One and everything, but I love Ron so much better!  Hey, I might choose even Seamus over Harry, in the movie of course because Seamus is just so cute!  Oh, and don't EVEN get me started on the Weasley Twins!  They are SO much better than Harry!  If I could save one character from getting killed, I'd choose Fred first.  Then Sirius and Tonks and Lupin.  And then--I must stop!  

Now, in The Chronicles of Narnia, who doesn't like Edmund?  Hmmm?  I prefer him to Peter, always have.  Even though Peter in the movies is pretty good looking, am I right?  Show of hands?  I love Edmund because, after the whole thing with the White Witch in The Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe, he's so level-headed and awesome and everything!  


If any of you have ever read The Secret Garden [an old classic that I highly recommend] no one can help but like Dickon Sowerby better than Colin Craven.  Dickon is just a poor "cottage" boy living on the moor who always one of his tame animals about him, a baby fox, lamb, crow, two squirrels, etc., and rides a wild moor pony named Jump.  



And in Oliver Twist, who doesn't love The Artful Dodger?  Which one is better: a homeless runaway with no knowledge of street life whatsoever, looking for a family and a life he never knew?  Or a street-wise, smart-talking, ruddy-faced pickpocket bedecked in a large top hat and a trailing gentlemen's coat who talks with such a thick accent that you can barely understand him?  That is a rhetorical question--no offense to those who like Oliver Twist better.  Here is The Artful Dodger [pictured left] played by Jack Wild, and Oliver Twist played by Mark Lester.  

There are a lot of other examples, I'm sure.  And there are several books where I actually like the main character better than his best friend: Percy Jackson, for example, I much prefer to Grover.  Also, Hal in The Outcasts I like better than Stig, even though they're both awesome.  And Will Treaty in The Ranger's Apprentice I like better than his best friend Horace, I guess just because I fall for the underdogs.  I really do.  I don't know what it is--but something to do with my strangeness, I guarantee.

Now that post is done, I can get back to school...or more school...or actually start school.  

-Editor-in-chief.  

2/4/12

Sketches at La Cafe--The boy

These notes I jotted down while waiting for a family movie to start--The Incredibles.  Yes, I know.  Anyway, I only started these last night, and then finished them today.

Sketches at La Cafe--The Boy

Seated outside with the soft breezes playing through my hair, I take a long sip of the strongly steeped tea, its fragrance filling my nostrils.  I breath a deep sigh as I place the teacup back on the saucer.  Strains of music from some place down the street wafts to me upon the air, soft notes of the violin mingling with the crisp picking pattern of the guitar under the skilled fingers of its musician.  The scents of roses--red, yellow, pink, and soft blushed peach--and the sweet smelling tea and cakes being passed back and forth on trays by the waiters fill La Cafe.  

Suddenly, a commotion across the street catches my eye.  A group of boys are all clustered around another lad, who is busy performing acrobatic feats.  His hair is red as a tomato, freckles covering every spare inch of his face, crooked teeth showing through his equally lopsided grin.  His appearance is dirty and his trousers are patched with mismatched fabrics.  Amid mutterings of encouragement and doubt, the boy flips himself onto his hands and walking around on the pavement, teetering first one way, then the other for balance.  

Eventually though, he topples over to much laughter and yelling from his friends, quickly righting himself amid slaps on the back.  He talks rapidly in french, spouting words while gesturing with his hands and re-living his moment of triumph.  He is laughing now, and as he looks up, he catches my eye across the lane.  Contrary to his crooked smile and two missing front teeth, the look in his eyes is mature--almost as if, young though he is, he has had much responsibility pushed upon him.  As he looks quickly away, I reached for a scrap of paper and the pen I always kept around me.  I continue to study the boy as he does a few back handsprings, then snaps up what few pennies the passersby cast at him.  

I watch him, as he, still surrounded by the rowdy group of boys, heads down to turn onto an adjoining street--out of sight.  I cannot think of a name to capture his wild appearance, and so I christen him The Boy, not knowing what else to call him.  I take a sip of my now-cold tea, and fold up the piece of paper upon which these notes are scrawled.  

2/3/12

Frodo and Sam

Okay, everyone who has been following this blog knows how much I love LOTR, right? And J.R.R. Tolkien and his sheer brilliance and everything else and--okay, I'll stop now.  But I stumbled onto this powerful quote that just stopped me dead in my tracks, since I'd forgotten about it:  

Frodo: I can’t do this, Sam.
Sam: I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.
Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?
Sam: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo… and it’s worth fighting for.

[Lord of the Rings Trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien, films by Peter Jackson.]

"...there's some good in this world...and it's worth fighting for."  Wow.  Those powerful words are so beautiful and give me chills when I read them, letting their meaning soak into my mind.  Frodo is ready to give up, wishing he could lay down the burden that has been placed upon him--a burden he had no wish to carry in the first place.  Samwise, his trustful friend, is there for him every single step of the way, helping Frodo persevere.  And it's from this simple yet heart-felt character--a lowly gardener at Bag End--that comes such a profound statement, beautiful and potent.  

It's so easy to think of stories in which the character is brave or keeps going when everything gets hard, "It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo.  The ones that really mattered."  Those stories are full of danger, like Sam says, and you worry for the various characters in the book "And sometimes you didn't want to know the end...But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow."  And Sam is reassuring Frodo, hoping beyond hope that their own story will turn out the same way.

And Sam keeps holding, holding to something that he hopes will drive them onward: the "good in this world...that's worth fighting for."  And in the end, they do achieve their goal, through sacrifice and knowing that if they kept going, there would be no hope that they would live to see the Shire again--their home.  

I could go on and on, but I think I will just make a Tolkien Column where I'll periodically post on anything LOTR.  Sound good?  Because this quote just gives me chills and I could literally dissect it from every angle and just marvel at Sam's sincere wisdom for his friend, his burdened companion.  

So what do you hold onto?  As a Christian, do you hold onto Jesus because he's worth fighting for, dying for?  What makes you keep pushing on, sacrificing everything you know for greater gain, other's greater gain?

-Editor-in-cheif

It's Official

I'm going to France...someday.  Yes, I know what you're thinking.  "It's all a dream, and that's all it ever will be."  But I tell you it won't be only a dream!  I'm going to go to college, and then study abroad!  I'm telling you, I will!  And I'm going to live in a lovely little apartment flat like this one and visit the Riding School in Versailles.  Hopefully...

And I'm going to take trips into the countryside and go down to the beaches of Omaha in Normandy and witness the lowering of the U.S. flag to taps near the american cemetery.  And I will just be totally awed and start crying.  

And then I'm going to travel into England and visit all the castles and in classic American style, will probably crash while driving on the right side of the road, literally.  And then I'll have to go through all the security measures and hospital procedures...  And then maybe they'll send me home because I don't have the right ID.

No.  No, that's not going to happen.  I will explore the rolling fields of the lovely English countryside, walk along the moors of Yorkshire, and ride the London Underground.  Then I'll see Stonehenge and visit the Eagle and Child pub and sit at the table where the Inklings met twice a week! And I WILL see a West End musical!  There is no way I'm going to London without seeing something on the West End! Preferably Billy Elliot, Les Miserables, Wicked, Oliver!, or any of the above if they happen to be playing. Actually, I'd settle for seeing anything on the West End.

And then I'm going to go back to France and finish studying, and with the rest of the time before my visa expires, I will go to Italy, and Germany, then Austria and see the Spanish Riding School, because who in their right mind would go to Vienna and not see the Spanish Riding School?  Then the Netherlands, and Wales.  Then I'm going to bike Ireland, Scotland, and go back through England, hitting all the castles that I missed before.

And then I'm going to sadly get on a plane[which will probably be delayed], and come back to America and wonderful fast-food and driving on the right side of the road and our horrible way of pronouncing letter "leddER" instead of that musical sounding British way of pronouncing it "lettuh".

Yes.  That's how it's going to play out.  And then I'm going to go back to Europe and visit all the places I didn't see, and then go to Australia and New Zealand.

So...anyone care to join me?  Because whether or not I go study abroad, I will be biking New Zealand, Ireland, or Scotland, no matter what anyone tells me.  Or whether or not I actually do travel Europe.  I'm serious--it might be when I'm 35, but it will happen...hopefully.  I will need a partner in this endeavor of biking across a European country of our choice!  It would be the experience of a lifetime!  And I want to make it happen.  
So, until then, farewell!  

Sincerely, 
Professional Dreamer and Accomplisher Amateur  

2/2/12

Recent Poll Results

In light of the recent poll I just conducted [which book would you like to escape into for a day] I have decided to analyze the results.  

Eight of you, including me, took the poll [yes, I know.  My blog is so popular] and three answered Lord of the Rings, one answered Chronicles of Narnia, one answered The Invention of Hugo Cabret, and three answered Twilight!  Which totally escapes my reasoning, no offense whatsoever to those who voted for that...particular...sparkly...vampire...dream-inspired book.  

So, that being said, I chose Lord of the Rings, because it's just an impressive trilogy.  I mean, they're probably my most favorite books right now!  So, to those of you who choose that one, you're awesome!  It's a world of sheer genius, and there are no words that would be sufficient to describe those books, including the Hobbit.  Oh, and the movies are also amazing, and they do a wonderful job capturing the landscape of Middle Earth and all its characters.  I hope The Hobbit will be just as awesome!

One person chose Chronicles of Narnia, and I applaud that person.  The Chronicles of Narnia would be really cool to live in for a day, to meet Caspian and everyone else!  

All right: Hugo Cabret.  I really want to know what person put this, because this was a close second with LOTR for me.  I would love to stroll down the Parisian streets in the 1920s and slip in and out of the walls in a train station.  It would be like the dream of my life!  

Now...for Twilight.  So, I enjoy watching the movies sometimes, even though the first one is really cheesy and...well, everything.  But I have absolutely no desire to read the books whatsoever!   I hope that none of you [more specifically the ones who put Twilight as their...um, book to escape into for a day] will take any offense, but what would make you want to spend a day in Twilight?  I mean, for one you'll probably get eaten by one of the evil vampires, and if not then you'll get killed by one of the werewolves. And if not that, then you'll be dragged along with Edward and Bella [because Edward has another human to protect] on some wild escapade that involves playing a highly dangerous and deadly game of baseball in a thunder storm, which results in a face-off between evil and not-so-evil vampires.  How can there be not-so-evil vampires?  It just doesn't work.  Vampires are evil, people!

So, you know I've watched the movies, but I just don't get it.  Personally, I'm a fan of Dracula by Bram Stoker [long die the evil villain!], which is a totally awesome and creepy classic, where the vampire is actually evil and he dies in the end with a wooden stake through his body!  

Sorry, I will quite this rant on Twilight and congratulate everyone for taking my survey!  Comment down below and tell me what and why you chose [feel welcome, Twilight fans, enlighten me as to why Twilight is so awesome], unless you just don't want too.  But I'd appreciate it!  And I'm so glad someone chose Hugo Cabret, because he was feeling lonely and I really wanted to choose him but I had to go with LOTR instead.  

That being said, thank you all!  

Sincerely,
Editor of Old School Ink.  

2/1/12

Sketches of La Café--Mrs. O'Connor

[the smell of ink slowly soaking through the paper]

I was in band practice today and I started to doodle on a song sheet.  (Our leader was talking to some other band members, so I didn't have anything to do except sit there, understand.)  Well, you know me, writing when I ought to be paying attention--I started jotting down some descriptions on that paper (which happened to be a chart for God of Wonders), and it blossomed into an idea: Sketches of La Café.  This is mainly an idea where I scrawl out observations from a certain vantage point: La Café.  

So here is the first in a series of small columns that I hope to be posting in the future:

Sketches at La Café: Mrs. O'Connor.

The air is full of soft noise: the gentle hum of many conversations, the clinking of dishes as the cutlery is being used, the tinkling of ice as the waiters refill depleted glasses.  I idly stir my tea around with my spoon, studying the old woman as she sits there in the corner, quite by herself.  She has an empty cup upon her rose-painted saucer, and a half eaten biscuit on her crumb-covered plate.  Her flowered house dress is shabby, yet clean, while the shine on her leather shoes not being able to hide all the scuff marks.  Her face, wrinkled with lines of age and wisdom from past mistakes never repeated, is free of worry--peaceful, if you follow me.  Her eyes are vacant, perhaps recalling a memory of a time long ago--dusty and full of age, like a book whose cover has not been lifted for many years.  A smile slowly lights upon her lips, and she gives a wistful sigh with the sweetness of the recollection that plays slowly within her mind.  

Suddenly jerking out of her reverie, she politely nods at a passing water, then stands--slowly for her back is stiff.  She drops a few coins onto her small table and tucks her knit clutch under her arm.  Shuffling across the room, she pushes open the café door and steps out onto the quaint Parisian street, pinning her wispy grey bun under her hat.  Walking quickly, she disappears into the crowd.  

My tea lies cold and abandoned as I slowly scrawl these few notes on a crinkled napkin.  I don't know her name, but watching her hobble out of sight, one forms in my head.  I christen the old lady Mrs. O'Connor.  And even though I don't actually know her, I feel connected with her in some strange way--the bond that ties an author with the character that colors the story.  

I then pay for my tea and step quickly out of the La Café, notes tucked in my pocket.  

Rejections...

Received my first rejection letter today from a literary agency.  Well, at least they replied--unlike the other I don't know how many I've been submitting too.  Maybe they are just waiting to reject me too.  Quite discouraging, to say the least. 

Now onto the next agency, then the next, and the next...hoping beyond hope that at least someone will like my work.