Thursday, January 18, 2018

Rooglewood Countdown: 10 1/2 wks: Where Are They Now?

     There is only 2 1/2 months or so before the winners are announced.  I've been scouting for updates -- any word on what is happening with stories and judges.  Sometimes it helps to know those things.  Like reading battle reports in the newspaper when you know your son might be fighting in them.
     Have you heard anything?


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

An Arranged Marriage - 3

    There was something familiar about the prince – something that Ilona couldn’t quite put her finger on.  She puzzled over it as she followed him into the next dance.  Was it his name?  Or something in his eyes?  Who was he?

    “How do you find your ball, princess?  I hope you enjoy dancing -- there seems to be an unending supply of partners waiting for your hand.”  His eyes twinkled as he nodded toward the crowd of eager suitors.

    “Have you been to Hanadil before?”  Ilona puckered her eyebrows.  She was sure she had never seen him before…and yet…

    Detlef's eyes sought hers.  “Do you remember?”

    Ilona pulled back ever so slightly to study his face.  “No.”

    He grasped her hand and spun her.  “No, I didn’t expect you would.”  He nodded toward the wall, where another handsome raven-haired man lounged.  “I and my two older brothers visited when you were a very little girl.  My oldest brother is here tonight.  The middle brother is already married.”  He spun her again.  “I have but one small request of you, princess.  If you are to dance two dances with the North Country, let them both be with me.  Leave my brother out of this.”

    Ilona laughed.  “Are you protecting him or me?”

    “Both.”  An enigmatic smile flickered across his face.  “You shall not have to dance with a self-seeking prince.  And he shall not have to face his little brother’s wrath.”

    Ilona pursed her lips, suddenly sober.  “I’m afraid I shall be dancing with a great many self-seeking princes over the next few days.”

    “Then may God grant you wisdom to discern.”

    The song ended, and he led her slowly toward the throne.  “Terribly short dances, don’t you think?  I think it’s a conspiracy to give every man a chance to dance with you.”

    Ilona laughed again.  “It is very likely, I admit.”  He released her hand and she climbed the steps toward her parents.

    “Was that Rowan’s youngest boy?” Her papa squinted at the retreating dark-haired figure.

    “It is.  Do you know him?” Ilona took her seat beside the king, hoping her suitors would give her a moment to breathe.

    “Rowan had some civil unrest in his country over ten years ago.  He sent his three boys here until he had sorted it out.  The youngest gave us a terrible fright – went completely missing for a day and a half.  He was an adventurous lad.”  Her papa shook his head over the memory, but his eyes twinkled.

    “Your highness, may I present…”  Another crier stood before her, and behind him stood a balding ambassador who looked eager to dance.

    Ilona sighed.

    Her papa winked at her.  “One more hour, sweet girl, and then we will retire for the night.  Take the time to talk to as many as you can until then.”

      She stood up and kissed her papa’s forehead.  “And so my royal duties call me away to dance with bald-headed men.”  Then she followed the ambassador to the floor.

(by Esther Brooksmith)

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Creating Backstories

      If' you're like me, you've just finished your entry for a contest and you are taking this time to breath.  Maybe you haven't started a new big project.  Maybe your thoughts still linger around your last story.
     So why not create some backstories?

    Pick a side character in your story -- one that interests you.  For me, that is Helka.  By the time Moriah meets her in my story, Helka is old and knowledgeable.  She has a history of both good and bad decisions that have brought her to this point.  But, due to word limits, I don't have time to explore that in Blood of Beauty.

      If you want to explore all of your characters, you could write a little backstory snippet for each of them.  For me, I want to explore Helka in depth...kind of like I explored my villains in my first Beauty and the Beast story (for links to those posts see this post), although Helka is not a villain.

     I wrote the first one last week.  It was a scene from Helka's childhood.  It lays the groundwork for how Helka gained some of her skills, it introduced the mirror, and it starts to share some of the philosophy that drove Helka to make her bad choices.  And it was so much fun!!!!  Next, I'll probably do a scene from Helka's youth.

      Try this for one of your side characters!  First, look over your characters and see which backstory intrigues you.  If you have to force it, then it won't be fun.  You want a backstory that is going to add to your original tale in a beneficial way.

     Think about the good and bad decisions the character made in your story.  Why would they do that?  Have they made decisions like that before?  What do they believe will happen based on their decisions and why?  

     Then go back into that character's past and write a scene showing something that will start to develop their future decisions.

     It doesn't have to happen all at once.  As you can see from my Beauty and the Beast villain -- he wasn't born a bad guy.  He was just a shy little kid.  But he starts making bad decisions and they keep getting worse and worse until he can't even see how far he has fallen.

    If you can, mix in historical elements for your main story.  Maybe your Snow White doesn't remember the Great War before peace was made by her father marrying their princess and bringing her home to be Snow White's evil stepmother, but your dwarf fought in that war and still mistrusts the enemy princess.  In my Helka backstory, you'll see the mirror, you'll see the dwarves, you'll see Snow White's mother before she dies.

    So try it!  And tell me which character you picked!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Rooglewood Contest: 11 1/2 wks: Favorite Anthologies

     The countdown continues!  We only have 11 1/2 more weeks to go until contest winners are announced.  Time is flying like...a snail.

     Snails fly, right?

     Hmmm.  I was afraid you would say that.

     So, while we are passing the time, I want to know: have you read the 3 previous anthologies?  Which of the 3 collections were your favorite?

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

An Arranged Marriage - 2

    Colors swirled around her, keeping time with the music.  It was the first day of the ball, and guests flocked to the castle of Hanadil by the scores.  For a moment, Ilona felt dizzy, but it was a delightful dizziness that made her feel as if she could float away into the music itself.

    Then the music stopped and the swirling colors resolved into the forms of lords and ladies in elegant array.  Reluctantly, Ilona glanced up into the beaming red face of her dance partner.  He hadn’t said a word through the whole dance.  What kind of husband would he make?

    Her silent partner returned her to the throne, waiting until she ascended the few steps and rejoined her parents before he turned away.

    “Any favorites?” her papa asked in a stage whisper.

    “I hardly even know.”  Ilona brushed at a loose strand of blonde hair, and Cordula appeared from the shadows to re-pin it.

    “You will.”  The king’s confidence was contagious.  “We all will.”  

    But her mother looked worried.  “There’s no need to decide anything tonight.”

     Ilona puckered her forehead and leaned forward to see her mother’s face better.  Usually Queen Amalia loved parties.  But she seemed withdrawn and uneasy today.

    “Your highness, may I present…”  Two criers spoke at the exact same time, one from each side of the steps leading down from the throne.  Behind one of them stood a handsome young man with hair as dark as a raven’s.  His clothes identified him as foreign royalty.  Behind the other stood an equally handsome young man with hair as blonde as Ilona’s.  He wore the coat of a Hanadil lord.

     For a moment, an awkward silence reigned.  Neither crier knew whether to back down or stand his ground.  Finally, the black-haired stranger broke the tension, waving the other ahead of him.  “I shall be here when you return, princess,” he said.

    The criers looked relieved and the blonde-haired stranger was introduced.  “…Emil, eldest son of Lord Shafton of Hanadil.”

    Emil bowed and offered his hand.  “May I have this dance?”

    He led her to the floor as the next waltz started.  One-two-three, one-two-three.  “Your dancing is like poetry, your highness.”

    Ilona laughed as he twirled her.  “Poetry comes in many forms.”  Her eyebrows lifted mockingly.  “I hardly know whether the comparison is a compliment or not.”

    He smiled, revealing a perfect set of white teeth.  “And your wit is as bright as the stars.”

    “I don’t remember seeing you at court with Lord Shafton.”  She followed his lead through an intricate pattern of steps, secretly delighted over the skill of her partner.

    “No, I’ve been abroad.”  He guided her away from a clumsy pair of dancers.  “The world is a place of entertainment and beauty.”  He smiled charmingly.  “Don’t you think it should be enjoyed to the fullest when we are young?”

    All too soon, the dance was over and Emil returned her to the throne.  The raven-haired stranger was waiting, as promised, and his crier stepped forward eagerly.

    “May I present his highness, Prince Detlef, youngest son of King Rowan of the North Country.”

(by Esther Brooksmith)

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Let's Make a Story!

     Hi, guys!  Let's make a story!  It will be fun!  I'll start it and you comment with the next few lines.  The next person will add onto your comment and so on until we have a little story!

     Here are some guidelines:
The main character is an 11-year-old boy names Gus.
Gus lives in colonial America with his father and grandmother.

     Here is the start of your story:

     "Do you ever wonder where the sun goes?" Gus whispered as the sun slipped over the horizon, leaving a faint glow to the sky.  No one answered but his pet owl.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Looky! Looky! It's my Snow White!!!

     Through the Rooglewood contest, I met this awesome artist named Melanie Morgan.  And she sketched the Snow White character in my story.  Here's the sketch!!!!  I love her!!!

     She's going to sketch some of my other characters in the coming weeks.  I'm so excited!!!!