Monday, February 29, 2016

The Countdown: Tomorrow!!!!

I am too excited to write a normal post.  Please accept this writerly expression of my anticipation instead.  See you all tomorrow!!!!!

     Once upon a time, there was a princess who received a prick from a spindle that turned her into an authoress.  She was immediately locked away in a tower, there to dream up endless plots and worlds and characters and write them down.  She was told that someday she would be awakened from her dreamy state and introduced into the publishing world by an acceptance from a publishing company (practically the same thing as a kiss from a prince).
     On the last day of February (the 29th, no less, for it was a leap year), rumors were whispered through the tower.  A prince would be passing through on the morrow.  Was he the one?  The authoress did not know.  All she could do was to fall asleep and wait for the dawn.  In the morning she would know if his kiss awakened her or if she must continue in her state of dreams, awaiting the right prince with the right kiss.

      For she knew that someday he would come...

Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Mental Ward - Dealing with Lunies (36)

     "Emery?" Beth's voice was full of panic.
     Emery swung to face her, just in time to see an officer in uniform grasp Beth's arms and pull her back with a yank.  
      Beth's eyes were wide and unblinking.  They fixed on Emery's face, and Emery could see the doubt and disbelief creeping into them.  "Emery?"
      Emery threw her arm out as if to stop the officer.  "Stop!  Let her go!"
      Lights flashed in her eyes again, blinding her, and she felt a rough arm shove against her, sending her stumbling backward against the fence.
     "I don't want to go back!" Beth cried out.  "Don't put me in the box again!  Emery!  Emery, help!"
     The sound wrenched in Emery's heart, and she flung herself at the officer, trying to pull his hands from Emery.  "Let her go!  Let her go!"
      More hands reached out the darkness and yanked Emery back.  She spun, freeing herself from them, and saw that there were 5 of them.  Five burly men in uniform.  
      The one with the flashlight shone his beam on Beth's pale face and then straight into Emery's eyes again.  "Been scouring the town for the lunatic but never expected her to be on this end of town.  Thought that fool truck driver was insane but here's the Beastly they talk about."  He frowned at Emery.  "Don't know who you are.  Don't care.  Don't have a warrant for you."  He dismissed her with a shrug and shone his beam back on Beth.  "Heard terrible things about you, but you don't look so tough now, do you?"  He laughed.  "You'll find that I don't coddle lunies.  You're dealing with Thompson now, little Beastly, and I will make you scream long before you make me scream."
      Beth turned her eyes to Emery and whimpered.
     "Let her go.  She's not Beastly." Emery said, putting as much control into her shaking voice as possible.
     The officer named Thompson ignored her.  "Move out, men."
      Beth screamed as they lifted her.  With all her strength, she pulled her arms free and thrust them out toward Emery.  The image of the little outstretched fingers burned on Emery's memory as Thompson raised his flashlight and brought it down hard across Beth's head.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Countdown: 5 days

This is the part when I think it gets really hard.  Because five days can seem like an eternity.

But what happens at the end of those 5 days?

Today I want to talk about what happens if you win.  Because, honestly, that excites me more than I let on.  And it scares me a little bit, too.  In a good way.

There's a good scared and a bad scared.  I talked about that many months ago.  "Bad scared" warns you to get out of a bad situation.  "Good scared" is the feeling you get when you are about to do something that takes a lot of courage but you know you will be glad that you did it.

If you win this contest, your name will be posted on the announcement page along with the title of the story you worked so hard on.  And then you will work with Rooglewood's editors and marketers to polish up your story and share it with the world.

You will have to make changes.  But you will also learn a lot.  And it will be worth it.  That's the part that excites me the most.

And you will sign copies for your friends and buy a copy for your grandma and all kinds of fun things like that.

Forever after, wherever your writing career takes you, you will always know that Anne Elisabeth Stengl liked something you wrote and believed in it enough to help you publish it.  And that's pretty cool, too.

I've entered contests before, without winning.  And I can honestly say that those were great experiences.  I learn so much each time I write a story, and it makes every single one worth it.  So, while I will be disappointed if my story doesn't make it into this book, I will be okay.  Truly.  You won't get anything out of me except gratitude.

But there's something about this announcement -- only five days away -- that makes me ask,

"But what if you win?"

So how about you?  Have you asked yourself this question?  Have you thought about what is most exciting about seeing your name on that list?  What do you think your favorite part of winning is?  What do you look forward to?

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Happy Hello's with a Touch of Gratitude

I just wanted to pop in and express my gratitude to all of you.  You make me happier than you realize.

So...hello to the new followers!  I'm so glad to have you on board!  Thank you for stopping by my little corner of the blogging world and liking it enough to come back regularly.  That makes my day.  You should see me counting my followers like a little girl counting how many presents she has under the Christmas tree. ;)

And...hello to all of you who have joined me so wholeheartedly in this countdown to the Rooglewood contest announcement.  You guys are the one making this countdown so much fun.  I love reading all of your comments and feeling the friendship in them.  And I really, really, really am grateful for the support because this "wait" has truly been so much easier this year.

And...hello to all of my old followers who let me take a long break and then welcomed me back with open arms.  I really appreciate you all.  So.  Much.  Thank you.

I hope you all have a lovely day!  I will see you on Thursday for my next "countdown" post.  :D

Monday, February 22, 2016

The Countdown: Eight Days

Eight days.  Do you know what that means?  Barely over a week.  Tomorrow will be one week from the announcement date.

Are you excited?

I am.

So, today, I want to talk to those who wrote something for the contest, whether or not you entered it in the end.

What made you start writing your story?  What was the first inkling of an idea that tickled your brain?  What was it that you liked about your premise?  As you wrote, did you have a favorite character or a favorite scene?  And are you glad you wrote it down?  Do you feel like you learned and grew in your ability as a writer as you tried out things for this contest?

And, if your story isn't included in this year's Rooglewood anthology (either because you didn't submit it or because it didn't fit with the other four stories selected), what will you do with it?  Will you market it elsewhere?  Or will you lock it away in a drawer?

Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Mental Ward - When Freedom is Almost in Your Grasp (35)

     "And this princess was guarded by men and demons, each having a different purpose for her imprisonment," Emery continued the story.  "But the princess did not know that.  All she knew is that she was forever tormented and held captive by them, with no hope of escape."
      "And then came another shining armor," Beth filled in.
     Emery shook her head.  "No, not a princess.  A daughter of a very brave knight.  And though her father was courageous, she was very timid.  She had not the makings of a knight in her blood.  Instead, she took a role as a humble servant, minding her work and keeping out of everyone else's way.  She did not expect to ever wield a sword or vanquish an enemy.  She only hoped to do enough laundry to bring home some food for her mother and brother and sisters."
     "That's brave, too," Beth commented.  Her voice was nonchalant, but she was chewing on her finger and staring into every rustling bush that they passed.  
      Emery paused her story and watched Beth for a moment.  The girl seemed more uneasy than usual.  Emery scanned the road ahead and behind them, but saw nothing to cause alarm.
     "What's the matter, Beth?"
     Beth shrugged her shoulders as if shaking off a bad feeling, but her face was worried.  "I don't know.  I don't like it."  She chewed her finger even harder.  "Maybe it will go away if you keep talking."
     Emery pressed her lips together, wishing she could erase the fretful pucker in Beth's brow.  "I said the princess had no hope, but that's not entirely true.  Something deep inside her was still alive, still reaching up toward the light, still fighting for life.  And one day, when the demons and guards battled each other, the princess slipped out of her tower."
     Beth's eyes flickered in recognition, and the pucker in her forehead smoothed ever so slightly.
     "But the demons had her bound in chains that could not be broken by human weapons.  So even if she tried to run, there was no escape."  Emery ducked under an overhanging branch of shrubbery and felt her way along a stone path.  If her memory served her right, the gardener's gate to the Carlysle estate was just ahead.  "The knight's daughter had a sheath tied to her waist, and in that sheath was a sword.  But the sword was locked in its sheath, and she had learned long ago that she was not strong enough to pull the sword free.  No one was."  Emery stopped and stood up straight, looking down at Beth.
      "Then the princess found the knight's daughter," Beth filled in.
      "The knight's daughter felt compassion for the trapped princess.  And you know what?  When compassion welled up inside of her, something clicked in the sheath.  And the knight's daughter grasped her sword, pulling it free.  As its blade flashed in the light, both the princess and the knight's daughter saw that it was no ordinary sword.  Desperate for freedom, the princess spread out her demon chains before the sword, and the knight's daughter swung its blade with all her might.  The demons swarmed in, furious against this attempt to free their prisoner.  But they were too late.  The sword came crashing down on the demon chains, and they shattered.  And the shrapnel shot across the room, vanquishing every demon.  The princess was free."
     Both girls were quiet.  Then, "Is that the end of the story?" Beth asked.
      Tears welled in Emery's eyes and she wiped them away.  "No, there's one more part," she murmured. "There's the part where the princess goes home.  And here we are, Beth."  Emery turned and took half a dozen more steps.  Her hands grasped hold of the cool metal bars of a gate.  "The latch is on the left if I remember correctly.
        Light flashed in Emery's eyes -- painful, blinding light.  She threw her hands up, trying to shield her face.  Beside her, she heard Beth's shriek.
      "Who would have thought we would find you here?" a man's voice sneered.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Countdown: 12 days

Hi, guys!  Thank you for joining me!  I'm continuing my countdown to Rooglewood's announcement on March 1st.  We have only 12 days to go!  And it's SO nice to wait with you guys.

 As you know, this year's Rooglewood contest is the third of its kind.  The first year, the contest was for Cinderella retellings, and, last year, it was a Beauty and the Beast retelling.  Have you read either of those anthologies?  Did you like them?  Do you own a hard copy of them?  Or an ebook version?  Or both?

I read both anthologies.  I have Five Glass Slippers in paperback, and I have Five Enchanted Roses as an ebook.  And, of course, I'm looking forward to adding Five Magic Spindles to my collection.

But what I really wanted to talk about today was Five Glass Slippers (partly so that I'm thinking about something different than this year's anthology but still somewhat related).  For those of you who have read it, what were your favorite stories from it and why?

     What Eyes Can See by Elisabeth Brown
          Broken Glass by Emma Clifton
               The Windy Side of Care by Rachel Heffington
                    A Cinder's Tale by Stephanie Ricker
                         The Moon Master's Ball by Clara Diane Thompson

I look forward to your comments!!!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Rooglewood Contest Countdown: 14 days

Ladies and gentlemen,
      We are in the final two weeks of the countdown.  In fourteen days, the five winning stories will be announced.  Huzzah!

     Shall we count down the last 14 days together?  Time flies faster when you are with good friends.  If I write a "countdown post" twice a week, maybe March 1st will be here before we know it.  I could share something contest-related on Mondays and Thursdays.  How does that sound?

     Okay, here it goes.

     I know we've all seen some of the wonderful stories that Rooglewood had to pick from.  Maybe you read the blurbs shared in the September Show and Tell or on some of the blogs around here.  Maybe you proofread a friend's story before she sent it.  Maybe you wrote a great story and submitted this year.  But I think we are all agreed that the Rooglewood team had an awesome set of stories from which to choose.

      Now, of course, we don't know yet which stories Rooglewood picked, but I wanted to ask you: what is a story that you would have picked?

     Better yet, which story looked great to you but was not written by anyone that you know.  Not that we are trying to leave out people that we know because, if you are like me, you have some really talented writer friends.  Instead, assume that all your friends are included.  You want all of your friends to win PLUS this one other person.  Who would it be?

Why do I want to know?  Because it's fun to think about what this next contest holds.  Whether you are a writer or a reader, March 1st is a date to look forward to.

So tell me: what is a great story that MIGHT end up in this year's anthology?

Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Mental Ward - One More Story (34)

     "This way, Beth."  Emery hurried down the street, her eyes finding familiar landmarks that would lead her to the Carlysle Estate.
      Beth's hand slipped into Emery's, and Emery could feel a tremble run through it.
      "Am I really going home?" Beth whispered.  "This isn't a trick?  Or a dream?  I'll see my Mama and my Dada again?"
     Emery squeezed Beth's hand.  "You're really going home," she said softly.
     Beth was quiet for a moment as she trotted by Emery's side.  Then a shiver ran through her again.  "I'm scared, Em.  Tell me a story."
     Emery looked down at the white-clad figure and suddenly felt like curling up and crying.  Emotions from the day swelled and crashed inside her like an incoming tide.  Panic. Horror. Terror. Hope. Confusion. Fear. Love. Helplessness. Compassion. Power. Purpose.  
      Emery's breath came out in a choked gasp and she shook her head, willing the torrent of emotions to die down.  Not now -- she couldn't cry now.  Not when Beth needed her to be strong.  Emery forced a smile.
     But tears stung her eyes as she glanced as Beth's close-cropped hair and started her story.  
     "Once upon a time, there was a princess locked in a dark tower..."

Saturday, February 6, 2016

The Mental Ward - A Cat that Barks (33)

      The truck stopped with a rattle and squeak.  Emery slowly slid to the ground, overwhelmed by whispers from the past.  It had been so long ago that she was here.  But this was her road -- the little back road, down which various employees of the Carlysle's abode.  She could almost see her father's strong form, striding down the road, and hear his whistle.  Emery inhaled.  The scent of tree blossoms were hauntingly familiar and she could almost hear a little Evelyn's voice wailing because Edwina spilled her milk.
     But then she blinked and the images disappeared, leaving behind a wistful feeling.  "Come on, Beth," she murmured.  "I can get you home from here."
     Beth sprang to the ground beside her.  Her eyes were wide and curious, but there was no recognition in them.  She didn't know how close she was to home.  The staff road was unfamiliar to her.
     Emery grasped Beth's hand and nodded to the driver.  "Thank you kindly, sir.  We can make it from here."
     But the man didn't respond.  His brow was furrowed and his head tilted every so slightly as if he had just seen a cat that barked and didn't know what to make of it.
     A gust of wind stirred the leaves bordering the street and Emery shivered.  "Goodnight, sir," she added, feeling that something polite must be said.
     Then she and Beth hurried down the back street, feeling the eyes of the man on them as they went.

(You can find the previous installments of The Mental Ward by clicking on the label "MentalWard."  The installments will appear with the newest at the top.  So if you only need a refresher, you can easily read the most recent post.  However, if you want to read the whole story, you will have to start at the bottom and work your way up.  Enjoy!)

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Wherein Esther returns with life news

     Greetings, dear friends!  I have returned to the blogging world!
     My absence provided me a lovely break from deadlines.  I must admit, as much as I love writing, the weeks with no posts to schedule were refreshing.  I highly recommend taking the occasional break, if you can.
     My sabbatical was not empty.  I have been writing -- lots of journalling, mostly.  And I started working at the veterinary clinic again (yay!).  But that's not the biggest thing that has happened.
      The biggest thing is that I now have a boyfriend. And he is awesome.  And this has inspired me to do a bunch of journaling because I have to wrap my brain around this new life journey and because I think better on paper.  I'm sure you writers can relate.
     I will do my best, over the coming months, to not bore you with sappy posts. ;)  But I am excited about the things God in doing in our lives, and my man will probably be mentioned occasionally.  You are forewarned.
      I am in eager anticipation of the coming Rooglewood announcement.  It's less than 4 weeks away!  Can you believe it?  At this time, Anne is reading the top 25 stories and matching them up together.  Maybe she is even sharing her ideas with the other Rooglewood editors by now.  It's so much fun to think about that.
     I've tried to figure out if I think I'll make it into this year's anthology or not.  Sometimes you have a feeling (whether accurate or not) that you are so sure you will win or you are so sure you will not.  But I really don't know this year.  I've kind of given up trying to figure it out and settled myself to wait patiently until March 1st.  How about you?  Any guesses or hopes for how your stories are doing?
     And for those of you still waiting to find out what happens to Emery and Beth: fear not.  I am going to work on it this afternoon and hopefully will have the next installment up on Saturday.
     Thanks again, everyone, for letting me play hooky for a few weeks.  :)  It's good to be back!