Friday, June 28, 2013

The Ankulen Prologue and Chapter 1

In Which I Write My Life Story as Homework

   I have no imagination. Why then do I think that, by staring at this notebook, I can magically make it work? Or, better yet, why does my mom think it will work?
   I’m locked out of the house until this notebook shows signs of something that resembles a story. It’s happened before. Mom seems to think that such drastic measures can force me to write.
   I’m sure it would work, too … if I had an imagination. But it’s easier to squeeze juice out of a rock than it is to squeeze a story out of my brain.
  So I’m stuck out here without any hope of rescue. Oh, well, it’s not as though I’m going to be out here all night, or even have to skip lunch. Mom’s not that cruel. She’ll have Tisha bring me some lunch, just as she always does. As soon as it starts getting dark, she’ll send Tisha with an invitation to supper. Mom’s terrified of these woods, though, and wouldn’t dare come here herself.
   I feel like I’m rambling, but I guess that rambling is better than writing “I don’t know what to write, I don’t know what to write, I don’t know what to write” over and over again like I did a few weeks ago.
   Mom was not impressed with that stunt.
   I’m not sure she would be any more impressed with rambling … but it’s better than the same six words over and over and over again.
   Perhaps I could write my life as a story. It wouldn’t involve using my non-existent imagination, and it would be something that resembles a story. It would be tons more fun than just staring at a deceptively innocent blue-lined notebook page, that’s for sure.
   My name is Jenifer Marie Brown. People used to call me Jenny, but for the last three years or so, I’ve been asking people to call me Jen, since it sounds more grown up. It’s become habit for most everyone by now – except for Mom and Dad. I guess it’s impossible to train your Mom and Dad to do anything, so …
   At least Tisha has learned. Although, now that I think about it, she was the easiest person to convince – I only had to ask her once.
   I used to have an amazing imagination, or so says my mother. Not that I don’t believe her – I do. It’s just … I don’t remember it, not really. Mom says I would spend all of my free time outside or in my bedroom, just making up stories.
   I’m an only child. I don’t know why, but after me, Mom wasn’t able to have any more. However, she always wanted more, and since she herself had been an orphan, adoption was the logical solution to her.
   When they told me that they had adopted a boy and a girl who were both around my age, I wasn’t too keen on the idea. I was a loner, and used to being an only child. Even in Sunday School, I would cling to the edges of the room and refuse to interact.
   So the thought of two other children coming to live with us permanently … well, it scared me. I could handle grown-ups – but other kids? No.
   Then Chris arrived and I was wary of him for all of five minutes. I don’t know why I accepted him so quickly, but I did. Mom thinks that it was because he had the same name as one of imaginary friends, down to the unique spelling – Christofer. However, while I won’t say that that wasn’t a factor – I’m sure it was – I don’t think it was the full reason why I liked him.
   Whatever the reason, I liked him, and almost immediately initiated him into my world of imaginative play. Together we would make up terrific stories. The living room became the courtroom of a mighty castle, the woods full of monsters for him to protect me from, the stream I’m sitting beside a raging river … life was perfect …
   Then Chris disappeared and my once-amazing imagination crumbled into dust.
   I don’t know where Chris went, or how, or why. I don’t know why my imagination went with him. I do know, however, that every bit of good opinion I had of him was gone. I despised him, considered him a traitor. It seems an unreasonable response as I write these words, but it was the response I had.
   I can remember that we had an argument and that I stormed away, leaving him alone in the middle of the woods. I can remember that I didn’t want to ever see him again.
   And I haven’t.
   I can’t remember what the fight was about. It could have been something petty, it could have been something important. It was just after I got my first pair of glasses, so perhaps he had made a comment about them. I’m pretty sensitive about my glasses.
   Now that I think about it, I think I remember where we had our fight – though it may just be my brain playing tricks on me, for it was by this very stream, and, possibly, not far from where I’m sitting.
   But I’m not sure. Our fight could have taken place anywhere in the twenty acres of woods that are behind our house.
   The truly strange thing is that, not only did Chris disappear, but so did any paperwork about him, We have memories of him being with us – photographs even – but as far as the state is concerned, he never even existed.
   Tisha, the promised sister, arrived only a few days after Chris’s disappearance. Mom and Dad had been sure that I would like her as much as I had Chris, for the other imaginary friend I would talk about had her name: Letitia.
   I didn’t like her. I hated her.
   That was eight years ago. I was seven. Now I’m fifteen, and I still have no imagination.
   I don’t exactly hate Tisha anymore, but I don’t like her, either. I don’t hate Chris anymore, either. It’s more of an uneasiness when I think of him than anything else.
   I think it’s jealousy that I feel towards Tisha, I hate to admit. Let’s face it – she’s this perfect beauty. Long, wavy blonde hair that falls to her feet, yet never tangles. Big blue eyes that are almost too big for her face. Alabaster skin no matter how much time she spends in the sun …
   Compare that to me. I have fizzy brown hair that only makes it half-way down my back – if I stretch it to full length. Since it’s so frizzy, it sometimes barely makes it past my shoulders. I have grayish-blue eyes that are nowhere near the size of hers and are, besides that, hidden behind a thick pair of glasses. My skin can only be described as pasty with an overdose of freckles. The only thing I have over her is that I’m about two inches taller.
   Not only that, but she’s got a great singing voice – and she can make up songs.
   Totally unfair. I can’t tell one note from another, and, as I’ve said before, I have no imagination and therefore cannot make anything up.
   Ugh! I can hear her singing now. But – hey! Five whole notebook pages full of writing!
   I don’t think mom will be unimpressed.
   Then again … I don’t think she’ll be impressed, either.

Chapter 1
In Which Chris Shows up and He and Tisha Confuse Me.

   I just read over those pages I wrote this morning and find it hard to believe that it was only this morning I wrote them. Those words are full of despair, of longing … and despair and longing are the furthest things from my mind.
   Yet it is to this morning that I must return. To the stream that cuts through the woods in out backyard.
   It was there that this story begins. I won’t reiterate what I’ve already written, for I did a good enough job this morning. It puts things into perspective. I know more now, but to tell everything now doesn’t seem right. I didn’t know everything this morning. I will tell it all eventually, just not yet.
   After writing those five pages, I was still dissatisfied. I know that they weren’t what my mother wanted. More importantly, I knew they weren’t what I wanted.
   I knew that writing down what had happened wasn’t going to get my imagination back. I wanted my imagination back, but I didn’t know how to get it back.
   Hey! If I had known, I would have done so years ago!
   So there I sat, staring at the page that I’m now filling with ease, wondering where my imagination had gone. The sound of Tisha singing was helping neither my concentration nor my mood.
   Thinking that the fact that my brain was overheating might be my problem, I kicked off my flip-flops and plunged my feet into the stream, wiggling my toes around in the smooth pebbles that lined the bottom. I knew that an overheated brain had nothing to do with my lack of imagination, I really did, but I was sure that a good foot-soaking wouldn’t hurt.
   I closed my eyes and shut my notebook. A deep sigh escaped my lips. “Why?” I whispered. “Why did my imagination disappear?” Another sigh escaped. A sigh of frustration. I opened my eyes and looked down at the closed notebook and the photograph I had taped to the cover a few weeks before as a desperate ploy to get my imagination working again. A picture of Chris and me playing in the living room.
   (In case you are wondering, no it hadn’t worked)
   “Chris,” I muttered. “I don’t know why you disappeared, or how you managed to steal my imagination, but I wish that you would come back and give my imagination back to me.”
   To conclude my speech, I gave a dramatic sigh and fell backwards, allowing my eyes to close again. It was hopeless – I was hopeless. I was never going to get my imagination back. Why did I even try? Why did my mother insist that I try?
   “Is there, by any chance, a girl named Jenny anywhere around here?”
   My eyes flew open and I was back in a sitting position within seconds. There, in the middle of the stream, standing just a foot or so away from my toes, was a boy. He looked to be about eight or so, and had wild brown hair peaking out from under his hat and a multitude of freckles.
   Since I had only just looked at the photograph, I recognized him instantly.
   It was impossible for it to be Chris, the logical part of my brain insisted. Chris was nearly a year older than me. He would be sixteen, not eight. Yet, my eyes argued, the boy in the middle of the stream did look like Chris. Uncannily like Chris.
   “At your service,” he replied with a doff of his hat and a bow.
   I blinked as I continued to examine the boy in mute astonishment. His clothing reminded me of Robin Hood in both style and color – he even had a felt hat with a yellow feather. To complete the look, he had a bow and a quiver full of arrows strapped to his back and a naked sword in his hand.
It looked sharp.
   “Oh … I’m sorry,” I finally stammered out, realizing that staring was rude. “I thought you were someone I knew when I was your age.” I glanced at the sword and bit my lip. “Does your mother know where you are?”
   “But my name is Chris,” said the boy, lowering his sword and giving me a confused look. He cocked his head to the side before he added, “And I don’t think I have a mother … not … not really.”
   “Everyone has a mother,” I replied.
   He shook his head and gave a careless shrug. “Not me. Jenny didn’t give me one.”
   He nodded as he stepped out of the stream, sheathing the sword. “Lady Jenifer. She made me up.”
   “She made you up.” I narrowed my eyes as a chill went down my spine.
   He nodded again as a frown pulled down the corners of his mouth. “But then Tisha and I got her mad and she locked me in. I’ve been looking for a way to get her back ever since.”
   “Why did she get mad at you?” I asked, trying to sound friendly, trying to suppress the uncomfortable feeling welling up inside of me.
   He shook his head. “I can’t tell you,” he answered. “But do you know where I can find Jenny? I really need to find her.”
   “No,” I whispered. “I – I don’t think I know where she is.” A nagging part of me argued that I did know where she was, however.
   “Oh.” He sounded disappointed. “I thought you might, though, since you knew who I was.”
   “I didn’t know who you were, though,” I countered. “I called you Chris simply because you look like my adopted brother who disappeared eight years ago.” I held up the notebook and photograph as evidence.
   “That’s Jenny!” the boy exclaimed, springing forward in excitement. “That girl! That’s Jenny! Do you know where she is? I have to find her!”
   My mouth went dry. For several seconds, all I could do was stare at the boy. In an attempt to regather my thoughts, I scrambled to my feet, clutching the notebook to my chest. “That girl …” I managed to squeak out, “That girl … she’s …”
   I could not force myself to admit the obvious. It was too bizarre. Instead, I started backing away from the boy – away from Chris.
   “Is something wrong?” Chris asked, his excitement turning to worry. “Did something bad happen to Jenny?” Oh! Please tell me nothing bad happen to Jenny!”
   “How?” I questioned, barely comprehending his words. “How are you so young. You disappeared eight years ago! You were older than me!”
  “Eight years?” questioned Chris, his voice suddenly subdued. “Has it really been eight years?”
   Unable to speak, I could only nod.
  “Eight years,” he repeated once more. “I hadn’t realized it had been so long! Oh! This is terrible! You must help me find Jenny! Please tell me where she is!” He looked up at me with frantic eyes.
   Tisha’s voice caused me to whirl around. Sure, I had known that she was nearby – her voice was a constant reminder of that fact – but I had been so caught up in my confusion over Chris, I had failed to notice how close she was.
   For a moment, she stood there, one hand placed on a tree for support, her eyes fixed on Chris.
   “Christofer,” she at last muttered, as her gaze fell to her feet. “How … how did you get out? She locked you in!”
   Chris’s attention left me as he took a few steps in Tisha’s direction. Then he paused and again doffed his hat and gave an elegant bow. “I know not how I escaped but a few minutes ago, but I am in quest of Lady Jenifer – do you know where she is? Also, this fair maiden,” he indicated me, “has informed me that I have been trapped for eight years, so I am afraid that I do not recognize you. I must ask your name.”
    Tisha took the few steps that separated them and took his hand. She fell to her knees so that she had to look up at him before she answered. “Chris.” Her whisper was so low I was surprised that I heard her clearly. “I am the Fair Maiden Letitia.”
    The look that spread across Chris’s face was part surprise, part relief, part sorrow. “Tisha,” he said, in a matching whisper, “eight years is a long time.”
    “They are indeed,” she agreed, sinking down so that she no longer knelt, but sat on the ground. She did not let go of Chris’s hand.
    “But they only served to make you all the more beautiful,” Chris continued.
    “But they have done nothing at all to you!” She let go of Chris’s hand, allowing hers to fall into her lap with a plop. “Lady Jenifer is the girl you were just talking to. I think she would prefer it if you would call her Jen, though.”
    He immediately lost interest in the despondent Tisha and ran over to me. “You’re Jenny? You’re Lady Jenifer?”
    I looked down and glared at the ground. Things were taking a sudden, crazy turn that I didn’t like. Sure I had asked for Chris to show back up and tell me what had happened to my imagination – but I hadn’t expected him to actually obey the summons.
   “Yes, yes,” Chris continued despite the fact that I was no longer looking at him. “You are Jenny – I see it now. You do look like her, and you did say that I had been your brother. Yes, you are Jenny.” His voice became excited. “Oh, Lady Jenifer, I’m really sorry for what I did, and I’m sure that the Fair Maiden Letitia is as well! Will you please, please come back? Everything’s been horrid since you left – and only you can fix things!”
   My head shot up and I fixed my glare on him. “I have no idea what you are talking about, but I would appreciate it if you would call me Jen, not Jenny. I’m not a kid anymore – unlike you.” I didn’t know why I was lashing out at him. Part of it was the fact that everything was strange and confusing – but I knew that that confusion wasn’t my whole problem. Something in me was hostile to those two, and I didn’t know why.
   My glare caused Chris to shrink back and lower his head respectfully. “Yes, Jen.” He turned a pleading look in Tisha’s direction.
   “Jen has forgotten her imagination,” Tisha explained. “Every bit of it. She only remembers you as the brother you claimed to be. I don’t think she even remembers the Ankulen.”
   “The Ankulen?” I flung the unfamiliar word back at her, my only weapon against the confusion.
   “See?” Tisha buried her head in her hands.
   “How?” questioned Chris. “Is it because …?”
   “I don’t know,” said Tisha. “When I first arrived she could remember – all too well – and for a few weeks after that … but then … it happened overnight, Chris. The night before she could remember … and the next morning. … I thought at first she was pretending … trying to make me feel worse … but it was soon all too clear. Jen has forgotten her imagination.”
   I frowned. She had never mentioned that fact to me before. Now that I thought about it though, well, it had been a rather sudden process, though I had always placed my forgetting at Chris’s disappearance.
   “Stop talking about me as if I’m not standing here!” I exclaimed, “and tell me what this word Ankulen means. It’s just syllables to me.”
   Tisha looked up and bravely met my eye. “The Ankulen is the bracelet that you always wore. It’s what used to bring your imagination to life – to bring us to life.”
   “You’re wearing it in that picture,” Chris pointed out, his finger pointing to the notebook that I still had clutched to my chest.
   I gave them a skeptical look as I turned the notebook around so I could examine the picture. I had no memory of a bracelet that I “always wore,” much less one that I used to “bring them to life.” I forced my eyes off of Tisha and Chris and onto the picture, and my eyebrows went up. Sure enough, I was wearing a bracelet. It was a pretty bracelet, too. A golden band with a large, purplish-pink gem. There was only one problem with it.
   “I don’t remember ever owning a bracelet like that.”
   “I know,” said Tisha. I looked up and saw that she was once more standing. “You’ve forgotten about it. But it was your bracelet, your Ankulen, and you did always wear it.”
    “Until I lost it and forgot all about it?”
    Tisha sighed. “It was already gone when I got here. I don’t know what you had done with it. I didn’t dare ask.”
    “You had it when I last saw you,” said Chris, his eyes fixed on my wrist. “You used it to get out – we were in at the time, Tisha.”
    “In where?” I questioned, noticing that the words “in” and “out” were being used quite frequently.
    “In your imagination,” said Chris, as if the answer was obvious.
    “I don’t have an imagination,” I argued, dropping the notebook and pencil to the ground and folding my arms over my chest.
   “But you used to,” said Tisha. “You used to have an amazing imagination, and because of the Ankulen, you could make it real. But then …”
   “You got mad at us,” finished Chris.
   “Well, I do remember yelling at you,” I admitted. “But I don’t remember why.”
   “You were mad because you had discovered what we had done,” explained Chris. “That we had gotten out. And I really wouldn’t blame you if you decided to send us both back in and forget we ever existed as we watched our world crumbles to dust around us. It would be our fitting punishment.”
   “Frankly, that sounds tempting,” I admitted. “Problem is though, I haven’t the faintest clue how to do that. Perhaps …” I allowed a sigh to escape me, my arms to fall to my side and my eyes to land on the discarded notebook. “Perhaps if you’ll help me get my ‘amazing’ imagination back, I’ll forgive you for whatever it was you did.”
   “We would if we could,” said Tisha, her voice tainted by frustration. “Oh! You have no idea how much I’ve wanted to help you get your imagination back, Jen. But we don’t know how, not with your Ankulen missing.”
    Well, then, could you at least show me how to get ‘in’” I asked, folding my arms as I allowed my eyes to drift over the stream. “Maybe if I see it, I might be able to remember.”
   “You need the Ankulen to get in,” said Chris.
   “Okay … so I need the Ankulen to get my imagination back,” I exclaimed, throwing up my arms in exasperation. “The Ankulen, which I lost sometime between when Chris disappeared and Tisha arrived. That’s four days' time! It could be anywhere!”
   “That it could,” said Tisha. 
   I sank to the ground and put my head in my hands. This was worse than before Chris appeared. Now, instead of me simply not knowing, my imagination was being held tantalizingly just out of reach. I noticed my flip-flops sitting dejectedly nearby, and thrust my feet into them.
   “Oh, Jen,” said Chris. “We want you to find your imagination, too. We live there … and without you, it’s crumbling. Especially since It’s there.”
   “It?” I looked up and gave him a questioning look.
   “The Polystoikhedron,” said Chris, after drawing in a deep breath. The horror I saw in his face almost made me regret asking the question. “It appeared right after you left. I don’t know how it got there but …” he looked at me with small, scared eyes. “It eats imagination, Jen. No one can stand before it, not even me.”
   I shivered. “So … my imagination is being eaten.”
   Chris nodded. I allowed my head to fall back into my hands.
   “Oh! That’s terrible.” Tisha’s voice was panicked. “We must find a way to – oh! Jen, do you have any idea where the Ankulen might be?”
   “I thought we had already come to the conclusion that your guess was as good as mine.” I gave her a pointed look, then softened. “Hey, tell you what, you can search my room – if Mom asks questions you can tell her that I sent you in search of something. Chris and I will search out here.”
   Tisha did not wait for me to relay the instructions twice.

Compare to the original chapter 1.

Oh, and I've decided on a target release day of September 5th! Wish me luck!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

R - Rubik's Cube

Via Pinterest
R - Rubik's Cube

A Rubik's cube is only mentioned once in The Ankulen, in chapter six and only in the second draft.

You see, they were discussing the layout of Jen's imaginary world, and the fact that locations ... don't stay put. Just like on a Rubik's cube.

 “Oh come on!” I exclaimed in frustration. “Don’t tell me this place goes on forever! Just how big did I make this place?”
Tisha looked down and sighed. “It’s not that you made the land terribly big or anything,” she admitted. “But it doesn’t work the same way the real world does. You liked things to be different and spontaneous, so while within a particular location things are fixed, the locations themselves move around.”
I blinked. “So … this is a big Rubik's cube that’s constantly moving?”
You can put it like that,” Tisha confirmed.
That’s just great!” I stood up. “How am I ever going to reach my destination if my destination keeps moving!” Unable to make real progress, I started pacing.

Usually,” said Chris, hesitantly because of my foul mood, “if one has a destination in mind, then the next location they reach will contain that destination. Like when we went to go see the Old Woman.” - The Ankulen. 

And therefore, drawing a map of her world would be impossible.

But I will tell you the names of some of the locations Jen built:

The Ocean: Home of the Mermaids and the largest location to accommodate the many features, such as the Sea Castle and Choral Mountain.

Green Valley: Home of the leprechauns. Edged by emerald mountains, and full of lush, green grass. The site of Jen's climatic battle with the Polystoikhedron.

The Orchard: Full of fruit and nut trees, inhabited by Wood Children.

Rushing River: The narrowest locations, and where they have most of the parties. Inhabited by frogs and Water Babies.

Babble Brook: A very winding brook. Inhabited by frogs.

The Mountain: The tallest mountain in her imagination. Inhabited by Dwarves and Goatherds.

Flower Field: Field of flowers. Inhabited by Flower Fairies.

Valley of Song: First location that the Polystoikhedron destroyed. Inhabited by the Singers, which are very similar to the muses of Greek mythology.

Glitter Forest: A forest of trees with glitter coated leaves. Nothing lives there, though, but I can't tell you why.


On another note, I was interviewed by Miss Jack yesterday! Go check it out!

And I just realized that The Derao is free for the next few days, so if you don't have a copy of this delightful little tale, go pick it up now!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Q - Queen's Necklace

Via Pinterest
Q - Queen's Necklace

When I started writing The Ankulen, I had no idea that there was going to be mermaids ... or that those mermaids would be so important.

I had just helped a little boy, and we were wandering around wondering when Jen would stumble upon her lost memories ... when she stumbled upon the Ocean. And since I now had an Ocean, that meant I needed some Mermaids.

Princess Mynna obliged me and dutifully appeared on a rock a few feet from shore. Which was great ... until I realized that I needed a Good Reason to have her on a rock a few feet from shore. (All of Jen's imaginary friends are in hiding, you see).

So I did some quick thinking and decided that the Mermaid Queen had lost a very important item: the Queen's Necklace. (Originally, Queen Tailya was going to be Mynna's sister, but in the second draft, Mynna became the youngest of Tailya's seven daughters. Fun) Problem was, I needed a reason for the Necklace to be important ... and decided that, since Jen didn't like bending rules, and therefore didn't take Tisha and Chris underwater very often, she spent little of her time in the Ocean. Therefore, the Queen's Necklace had some of the abilities of the Ankulen, and therefore Queen Tailya could keep things running smoothly under da sea in Jen's absence.

I expected to do a quick pop over to the Sea Castle (pictured above), then a swim over to Choral Mountain (where the Necklace was lost) so that Jen could locate the lost item, and then a swim back to the surface to continue the journey.

Well, I didn't account for the Polystoikhedron showing up.

Long story short, five out of the twenty-five chapters have portions underwater, and Queen Tailya ended up being one of the steadying factors in Jen's journey.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Hair Sisters

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I have a board on Pinterest called "Would Make Good Cover Art" and in it I pen anything and everything that I think would make an interesting book cover. A lot of them are flowers, but many of them have some interesting story potential. Like this picture.

I have decided to write some of the stories behind the pictures, starting with this one.

(Note, not all stories will necessarily involve a character the I already had created, but this picture just begged Meg and Robin. Even though the second girl's hair is a bit too light for Robin's hair. BTW, Meg has a German accent.)

Hair Sisters

"Meg, do you have any brothers and sisters?"

Meg hesitated, unsure whether or not to answer. Her stepmother had drilled into her all of the proper protocol for a princess' lady maid ... but somehow Meg had gotten the impression that Princesses were high and mighty and wanted nothing of you other than their rooms, clothing, and hair tidy. Princess Robin of Locksley was not what she had come prepared for.

"Well? Do you?" Princess Robin repeated her question. "Or are you an only child?"

Meg decided that it would be better to answer. "Ja, I have zwei younger sisters." Or she did ... She winced inwardly as she thought of Penny.

"No brothers?"

"None, Prinzessen."

"Good. Brothers are a nuisance. I wish I had a sister. Then I wouldn't have this gift mix-up nonsense. Who would have noticed if we were both girls?"

Meg took advantage of a particularly nasty knot in Robin's hair to delay her answer.

"Ouch!" Robin before Meg could make that answer. "Do all of you maids enjoy pulling my hair? It hurts, you know!"

"Wie bitte? Prinzessen," Meg said quickly. "I'm brushing your hair as gently as I can. It's just so ... thick."

Robin scowled at her in the mirror. "I wish mother would let me cut it. Gets in the way when I'm sword fighting."

"But it is very beautiful. It would be a shame to cut it."

"So what are your little sisters like?" Robin asked, going back to the original subject. "Do you every disguise yourselves as each other and confuse everyone. Since you're all girls ... well, do you?"

"Nein," answered Meg. "We couldn't even if we tried, since none of use looks a thing like another. Penny has," or had, "red hair and green eyes. She's the tallest of us and usually gets her way. Ella looks like our mother, blonde hair, blue eyes, very small."

"And you have black hair and I have brown hair. We cover all the hair colors then." Robin nodded in satisfaction. "But if you're all sisters ... how come you all look different?"

"Well, we all take after someone else. Ella looks like our Mutter, Penny looks like a Tante ... and I look like our Vater."

"Oh. I wish I had a sister."

Despite her intentions to remain a calm and dignified servant, Meg let a sigh escape her. The sigh did not escape Robin's notice. Her eyebrows pulled down in a concerned expression. "What's wrong?" she asked.

"It's ... it's nothing."

"No it's not. People think I don't notice when they're upset, but I do, and you are. What's wrong?"

Meg sighed, there was nothing for it. "Penny went with our father on his last voyage. We haven't heard from them in over a year ... and they've never been gone that long ..."

"Oh ..." Robin was silent for a long moment. "I'd hate it if I lost Robert."

"She was just a little younger than you, Prinzessen," Meg continued, despite herself. "Next month would be her birthday."

Robin didn't say anything. Meg, feeling awkward for daring to compare the princess to a common merchant's daughter, fell silent as well.

"I don't know if it would make you feel any better or not ... but I could be your little sister, couldn't I?" Robin asked, suddenly.

Meg blinked, taken aback. "But ... you're a princess ... it isn't my place ..."

"Oh poppycock," said Robin. "I don't care about that sort of thing, so why should you?"

"Then ... then I would be honored."

"Goody. I've always wanted a big sister." She frowned at the mirror. "But we need some way to make it official. Let's see ... oh! I read in a book about a group of people who have a custom where if two men are really good friends, they can cut themselves and become Blood Brothers."

Meg paused mid-brushstroke. "I really don't think that is a good idea, Prinzessen ..."

"Of course not. Blood Brothers are for boys. We're girls ... we can be ... oh! I know! We can be Hair Sisters!"

"Hair ... Sisters?"

"Oh, yes! Instead of cutting ourselves, we simply braid our hair together, and we'll be sisters!"

"Braid ...."

"Oh, come on. You have to braid my hair for the night anyways. Why not just braid yours at the same time?"

Meg had to admit that Robin's logic did make sense ... so instead of launching directly into braiding Robin's hair as soon as the brushing was done, she ran the brush through her own hair instead. Since she kept closer tabs on it during the day, and wasn't quite so tangle-prone, it didn't take very long.

"Now braid it together." Robin instructed. 

Meg sat down on the bench next to her so that their head touched and their hair flowed together. Grabbing a fistful of hair, she started weaving. A soft smile played on her lips as she let her fingers dance. This was her favorite part of her job. Though Robin failed to appreciate it, she truly did have wonderful hair.

At last every bit of their hair was combined in a single braid. 

"I like it!" Robin said, nodding at the mirror approvingly, moving Meg's head with hers. "Now, we have to stay like this all night, or it won't be official." A moment later, she added, "Oh, and Meg ... somehow, someday, I'm going to help you find Penny."

"But ..."

"I'm a Princess. It has to come in handy for some things. Now, let's go to bed. I'm exhausted. I don't like dance lessons."

Via Pinterest
12. Jyson will succeed in killing a dragon before he finds out that they aren't the ones he should be hunting

Thursday, June 13, 2013

And Da Winners Are ...

I may have mentioned the fact that I was holding a giveaway yesterday, with two lucky winners of either

The PDF files of Sew, It's a Quest and/or Do You Take This Quest?
Or ...
A Word File containing my NaNo attempt at My Kingdom for a Quest. 

I just pulled names from the hat and they are ....

Miss Melody Muffin
Kiri Liz

Since I happen to know that both of you have read both Sew, and Take, I'll just go ahead and send the two of you each Kingdom. (Unless you do want the PDF of Take, in which case comment below, and I'll send it to you with Kingdom)

And since this would otherwise be a very short post, I've decided that I will talk about Disney Princesses. What I think of each movie, and when and where I'll slide their fairy tale into Bookania.

I agree with Tommy DePaola in my assessment of Snow White. The skimped on the Evil Queen's murder attempts and she got off way too easy of a punishment. And, in actuality, this is not the Snow White I grew up with. I grew up with this one, which follows the original fairy tale much better.

I will tell Snow White's fairy tale in book 17, but she won't go by the name Snow White. This is because I was reading an older Grimm's Fairy Tale and discovered another name for her that I like a lot better, and I don't want her to get mixed up with Snow White and Rose Red. (Did you know that, in the original German, the two Snow Whites have different names?) I was originally going to make her Doranna and Casperl's daughter (which is why Casperl has black hair) but I was plotting around some time ago and discovered that I wanted to give D and C's kids more mathematically-themed names (one of which my mother had considered naming me!) and I found another couple (who will be introduced in book 4) who would give the fairy tale a much better twist. I know who the prince is going to be, and he is related to Robin. That's all I'm going to say.

Cinderella isn't my favorite fairy tale, and in my opinion, Disney did a pretty good job of bringing Cinderella to life, and I consider Cinderella III one of my favorite movie sequels ever done. (I love it when movies experiment with what might have happened if "this" or "that" were different)

Cinderella will be book 6, and you have met her prince and the person who will pose as Fairy Godmother. (While she does have a Fairy Godmother, the FG will not be the person who gets her to the ball) The twists I have planned for this book. I mean, who else would combine Cinderella, The Merchant of Venice, The Odyssey, and Elsie Dinsmore into one book? (And let's not forget to mention the pirates!)

I find the fight over Aurora's dress color amusing ... and I like how Prince Phillip gets to fight against the villainess in this one. However, I don't like the fact that they cut her sleeping sentence short. It only lasted a few hours - if that!

Books 1 and 2. If you don't know how, go buy the books. They're currently on sale for 99 cents each on Kindle, and Sew's paperback price has been lowered.

I have never seen The Little Mermaid all the way through, though I do believe I have seen the whole thing (just not in order). I think they did do a pretty good job (I mean, this is disney, after all. The Little Mermaid's original sad ending just doesn't fit with it's scheme.) but the fact that Ariel is so blatantly rebellious to her father - I just can't put my stamp of approval on that one. 

I know exactly what I want to do with her, but it's so far in the future, it hasn't got a book number, or even a title yet. She won't be a fish-taled mermaid, won't even be able to breath underwater. She'll just be a normal human being who just happens to live in Atlantis. And she will be able to speak, just not in English.

However, if you do want a mermaid, Cayra was inspired by the Little Mermaid, and Jen has been talking about using her mermaids to rewrite it. 

I know that many of my friends adore this one, and I do agree that the fact that she's a bookworm is pretty cool but ... I've never been able to get over the fact that they changed her name from Beauty to Belle ... and the fact that she's an only child. I like her sisters (whose names are Marigold and something that I've forgotten, according to the book I found Casperl's fairy tale in). Gaston is amusing though. He makes a good villain.

Honestly, I don't know what I'm doing with this fairy tale. I think I've settled on the identity of his parents ... but her. I have no idea. (Her name will be Beauty, however, and her sisters will be named Marigold and Dressalinda (Went and looked up the other sister's name.) I do know that, if his parents are the people I think they'll be, he'll have an older sister. And you've met both of the parents already if you've read Take. (And if you've only read Sew, you've heard both of their names.)

They really messed with Aladdin's plot, but I can mostly forgive them because it was originally a very sprawling plot (Yes, I've read the original.) They changed the princess's name, too ... but I suppose Badr al Buldar isn't very romantic now that I think about it.

At the moment, I don't know what I'm doing with Aladdin at all. Not a clue, not a guess. 

(Yes, I'm skipping Pocahontas)

They messed with Mulan's plot a bit, and they added a few cruder jokes that I don't quite appreciate, but over all, it's fairly good. 

I'm thinking of Making Mulan Push's cousin or other such relation. If so, you'll possibly meet her in book 7. I'll also make her history much more like the original Chinese Legend.

I haven't seen the Princess and the Frog, nor do I plan to. I don't care much for modernizations, nor do I approve of the voodoo. However, it does have an interesting twist.

Book 21, and since there are three versions of this fairy tale that I really like, I'm using all three and making them a set of siblings who were all cursed to be frogs. (Two boys and a girl.) You've met their mother if you've read Sew, and their father if you've also read Take. I'm really looking forward to writing this one. (And the ending has been written already, actually.)

There are few movies that I have seen five times and still wouldn't mind a sixth. Tangled departs radically from the original, but somehow I don't mind it as much as some of the others. It works and it is hilarious. 

Book 5. Anyone who has read Sew, should be able to guess how. I follow the original fairy tale much better though. 

And next year they're coming out with Frozen, which will be based on The Snow Queen. From what I've read about it, it looks like it's going to have some very interesting twists.

Book 7. Yes, the one that'll star Push au Kim. I think I'll leave you guessing when it comes to my genius plot.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Your Versions ...

Okay, folks here's the mad lib in context! 

First, The original text:

For a moment, she just lay there stunned. Then she regained her feet and started running down the path. Eric reached the forest just as she disappeared beyond a curve in the path. He hesitated a moment, glancing up at the tangled vines before he resumed his chase of his intended bride. Not far behind him were Doranna, Casperl and Agatha.
At last they caught up with Robin. She had reached the castle gates, and stood with her sword held aloft as she threatened the guards. “If you don’t let me in!” she shouted, “heads are gonna roll!”
That’s what we are afraid of,” replied the captain of the guard, dryly.
Eric caught Robin’s arm. “Robin,” he said, “I don’t think making threats is the best way to get into the castle.”
Robin froze, then turned to Eric. “Oh, that’s right,” she said, in a subdued voice. “There’s a magic word.” Then she turned back to the guards and said, in a desperate voice, “Please! Please open the gate!”

And now for yours!

Tom Wild Rose

For a millisecond, she just lay there stunned. Then she regained her ankle and started running down the path. Eric reached the schoolmarm tree just as she disappeared beyond an octagon in the path. He hesitated a moment, glancing up at the tangled delphinium before he resumed his chase of his intended bride. Not far behind him were Doranna, Casperl and Agatha.
At last they caught up with Robin. She had reached the hospital gates, and stood with her claymore held aloft as she threatened the guards. “If you don’t let me in!” she shouted, “Ribs are gonna slice!”
That’s what we are afraid of,” replied the Major of the guard, dryly.
Eric caught Robin’s arm. “Robin,” he said, “I don’t think making threats is the best way to get into the hospital.”
Robin froze, then turned to Eric. “Oh, that’s right,” she said, in a subdued voice. “There’s a magic word.” Then she turned back to the guards and said, in a desperate voice, “Rumtiddlium-tumRumtiddlium-tum open the gate!”

Momma Eagle

For a year, she just lay there stunned. Then she regained her elbow and started running down the path. Eric reached the Grand Canyon just as she disappeared beyond a Parallelapiped in the path. He hesitated a moment, glancing up at the tangled Poison Ivy before he resumed his chase of his intended bride. Not far behind him were Doranna, Casperl and Agatha.
At last they caught up with Robin. She had reached the Memorial Bank gates, and stood with her sling shot held aloft as she threatened the guards. “If you don’t let me in!” she shouted, “Big toes are gonna be flung!”
That’s what we are afraid of,” replied the colonel of the guard, dryly.
Eric caught Robin’s arm. “Robin,” he said, “I don’t think making threats is the best way to get into the Memorial Bank.”
Robin froze, then turned to Eric. “Oh, that’s right,” she said, in a subdued voice. “There’s a magic word.” Then she turned back to the guards and said, in a desperate voice, “PopcornPopcorn open the gate!”

Kiri Liz:

For 3 1/2 thousand seconds, she just lay there stunned. Then she regained her Minimus and started running down the path. Eric reached Aslan's Howe just as she disappeared beyond an Isosceles triangle in the path. He hesitated a moment, glancing up at the tangled Kosteletzkya before he resumed his chase of his intended bride. Not far behind him were Doranna, Casperl and Agatha.
At last they caught up with Robin. She had reached the Millenium Dome gates, and stood with her Mercygiver held aloft as she threatened the guards. “If you don’t let me in!” she shouted, “Subcraniums are gonna Pronk!”
That’s what we are afraid of,” replied the Brigadier General of the guard, dryly.
Eric caught Robin’s arm. “Robin,” he said, “I don’t think making threats is the best way to get into the Millenium Dome.”
Robin froze, then turned to Eric. “Oh, that’s right,” she said, in a subdued voice. “There’s a magic word.” Then she turned back to the guards and said, in a desperate voice, “Please! Please open the gate!”

Miss Melody Muffin:

For four seconds, she just lay there stunned. Then she regained her ring finger and started running down the path. Eric reached the Leaning Birch Tree just as she disappeared beyond a trapezoid in the path. He hesitated a moment, glancing up at the tangled myrrh trees before he resumed his chase of his intended bride. Not far behind him were Doranna, Casperl and Agatha.
At last they caught up with Robin. She had reached the stone armory gates, and stood with her javelin held aloft as she threatened the guards. “If you don’t let me in!” she shouted, “Knees are gonna be slashed!”
That’s what we are afraid of,” replied the Major General of the guard, dryly.
Eric caught Robin’s arm. “Robin,” he said, “I don’t think making threats is the best way to get into the .”
Robin froze, then turned to Eric. “Oh, that’s right,” she said, in a subdued voice. “There’s a magic word.” Then she turned back to the guards and said, in a desperate voice, “KezangoKezango open the gate!”

Vote for your favorite (as long it's not your own! Play fair!) and the best mad libber will get an extra couple of points for the giveaway!
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