Daggers, Blood-Red Shields And Thundering Stallions

Monday, 30 July 2012

"For You have armed me with strength for the battle..." Psalm 18: 39

Glad as I am to be doing these final edits on my short story, A Love That Never Fails, I have been feeling quite homesick for the comfort of my old, well-loved story. In other words, I really miss working on The Crown of Life! But there is comfort in the fact that as soon as these edits are done, I will have a completed little story, and after that more time to dedicate my free hours to the tale I truly love, the tale that though is unfinished and seems a long way from feeling finished and whole, I feel a special bond to. Anyhow... I think you can see that I am missing it, so I will stop chattering and bewailing the fact that I have done very little writing on The Crown of Life this month and can't really share that many snippets for Katie's July Edition of Story Snippets. To make up for that though, I have sneaked up some bits and pieces I have written from the last few months and placed them here in with the selection of July Snippets. Besides that, there are a few snippets from my short story that I am allowing you to peak at and also random bits and pieces from some scribbling I got to do on Escape from Vanity (that story still remains an enigma to me as I am sure it does to you). All that aside, I do hope you enjoy this edition of snippets. Writing is an art... and sometimes it feels like an art of war, because you have to fight and battle all the time for the right words to evoke the exact emotions, moods, pictures, and scenes you want to pass on to the readers. I am learning how important it is to weigh every word, and make sure each single word earns its rightful place on the page. Otherwise, fight for a better word!

July Snip-Whippets

"How I will speak daggers to her!" he spun about, his eyes pinning Valerius' with the fierceness of his gaze. An oppressive, black silence rifted more then the distance between them. Valerius turned, and laid his hand on the shoulder of his friend. 
"But use none, oh Flavius son of Gaius." 
- The Crown of Life

“It does not befit a prince of the realm to stammer when the strength of justice and right is behind his sword.” 
 - Escape from Vanity

"Oh! Valerius, sometimes, I fancy how wonderful it would be if our letters could be dispatched with the speed of white lightening, the speed of the thundering stallions, or with the speed of a few days instead of long and painful months; but alas! I find myself fancying all too often of late. If I had my wish, and fancies came true, you'd have returned by now and come back to me. But.... one day, I know you will. One day.  
Signed with all my love, 
Claudia Albinus." 
- The Crown of Life 

His mother lifted a hand to his chin, gazing up at his face. The dark blue of her gown, like the misty shade of his eyes, rustled in a silent whisper of royalty and strength. 
“Your faith in him is shaken, is it not?" 
Escape from Vanity

It finally dawned on her, standing amidst the tears and farewells of so many, what was really happening. Jane was leaving England, her grandmother and heading to a place she'd scarcely heard of before to relatives she never knew existed. She bit her lips; she wasn't the only one. She had to be strong. 
A Love That Never Fails 

The sloping brown hills, like guards to the region, could be seen quite clearly by late morning. With the sun beating down upon them fiercely, and the hooves of their horses gathering up a cloud of hot dust all around, they plodded their way down the country highway that slowly narrowed itself into a gravel path as they reached Capernaum. From their vantage point they could see the town's many thatched houses, climbing up the side of the hill tier upon tier, shining together as a white jewel, the whole location nestled at the cove of a magnificent sea of turquoise... the Sea of Galilee.
 - The Crown of Life

Jane hesitated, fingering the thick lace of the shoes she'd worked so hard for, the shoes she so badly needed. It glared at her brightly, taunting her with her need. She self-consciously stared down at her own shoes, faded and ugly with the soles worn-thin with much use. 
- A Love That Never Fails

Her face seemed more pained then ever he recalled, as her gloved hands clung to the mirage of red and yellow colours on the window. 
Escape from Vanity

"It is now your time, Taurus Elnath. The hour of the Bull-rising is nigh at hand.” 
Escape from Vanity

Julius, standing at a ledge facing the horizon, breathed deeply the air, moist with autumn rain. The Isle of Britannia was one of harsh beauty, of green sloping meadows, jagged cliffs and moors covered with bracken, heather and moss. And it stirred his soul, in a way he could not understand. - The Crown of Life

“But I will ride with you,” Flavius rebutted, though fear was battling for mastery over the fierce pride of his cry. “I fear nothing but the bitterness of being robbed of my revenge at the last.”
 - The Crown of Life

The only tangible images before him were that of blood-red shields, spears of war, grey flagstones and harsh commands. The Roman eagle's piercing eyes tried to pin down and hold Valerius' heart within its brutal, knife-edged clutches, but nothing could for long restrain the memories he had of his loved ones or the deep stirrings of his own heart.
-The Crown of Life     

The first snippet was inspired from reading a quote by Shakespeare. 
 "I will speak daggers to her, but use none."
 - Hamlet

"Well, I am back"

Friday, 27 July 2012

He took a deep breath. "Well, I am back," he said.
- The Return of the King
via Pinterest 
Knowing how much I love The Lord of the Rings and seem to be quoting J.R.R. Tolkien incessantly of late, I think you will all forgive me when I happily quote Samwise Gamgee in saying, "Well, I am back"!

Back? Back to what? Well, to the happy sphere of blogger-land of course! To the joining in blog-post discussions and gallant tales and writings shared between fellow-scribblers as well as sisters in Christ. To the happy land where I can share my deepest (and not so deep) thoughts, likes and dislikes with you all and well... need I continue? I think not!

Just to inform you why my blogging has lagged and gone to the side-shelf of late, I will without further ado, give you a brief description of what has kept me at bay for nigh over one and twenty days and made me unable to post. I was kept exceedingly busy by preparations for and the actual event of my violin exam; that, and editing up of my short story A Love That Never Fails into better shape (something I am still working on), attending writer's workshops and determining to attack my schoolwork with renewed vigor (I promise you, the school-load never quite seems to end, or so it would seem).

The hours before an exam are usually not much fun... To be perfectly honest, I was so very nervous the morning of my exam, tapping my fingertips on my knees, yawning, grabbing my musical pieces and reciting my general knowledge, checking my watch every few minutes... besides developing a headache that made my head feel almost separate from my body. Not an enjoyable feeling! But when I entered the examination room and had the actual exam, though my headache didn't lessen, my nervousness almost completely disappeared and I felt quite calm. Praise the Lord! He was with me through it all and helped me do well at it, even if I did blunder at my aural work and stammered over a question asked of me during the general knowledge section. But, thank the Lord, I was exceedingly blessed to have had a kind examiner who did her best to put me at ease and made me actually enjoy parts of the examinations (basically performing the pieces). The Lord is so good! So now, I am entering at a very leisurely pace into a new grade while having fun with different hymns and random songs, including a piece from the LOTR movie-score, The Return of the King :).

Also, through attending the two writer's workshops, I have come out of them with an ocean of information, tips, rules, advice, critic and encouragement... so much so that it all seems a little above my head but I will have to tell you all about what I learnt and all for another separate post.

I have not done so much writing this month, but more editing on A Love That Never Fails then ever I expected. So much so, that I feel slightly sick of it all and am by the hour more and more homesick for Ancient Rome, and my dear characters Valerius, Claudia, Anthea and Flavius from The Crown of Life. I have to admit that Anthea's correspondence with y'all kept me quite amused, and I was quite fondly surprised at the positive response she received. After a lot of interceding on the part of some of you (not to mention petulant whining on her part!), I shall consider her guest-posting over here at a later date. But you have to understand that though she can so cheer up a body, she can also tire it out by ceaseless chatter! 

Well, now that I have the violin exam and workshops behind me, I hope to resume my blogging schedule in earnest again, Lord willing. However, I won't say that I'll be entirely free either, as I am trying hard to concentrate on schoolwork at this time. So there might be times when I seem to be absent from blogger-land, but never fear! I am not abandoning you or anything. 

Life has been very busy lately, and sometimes a bit tough and hard to understand. There are so many things that can try to pull me down, make me feel discouraged and suck me away from  abiding in the sweet Presence of my Lord Jesus. But, by His grace, I can be happy and rejoice. Because God is with you and me, no matter what happens. I see not but the Lord's abundant goodness and mercy in my life, despite how frequently I trip and stumble, how often I fall and fail. He remains a Tower and Strength, my Hope and Joy. He loves His Children with an everlasting love, and cares about the tiniest details of our lives. His plan for us is greater than any that we could fathom or desire, much as we struggle, argue and try to get our own way! He wants us totally for Himself, to surrender our ambitions and longings, for Him instead. He will do more than we can ever ask or dream. The Lord Jesus spoke to me through a Scripture in Deuteronomy the other day, and I would like to share it with you before I close up this post. 

"...I have set before you life and death,
blessing and cursing; therefore choose life,
that both you and your descendants may live;
that you may love the LORD your God,
that you may obeys His voice,
and that you may cling to Him,
For He is your life and the length of your days..."
-Deuteronomy 30: 19b-20a

Oh let us purpose to cling to the Lord with all our hearts, let us purpose to choose life, and love the LORD our God! The Lord Jesus bless you all abundantly this weekend.

On Tears and Laughter, and Romantic Tales and Wistful Dreams

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Anthea is a very willful creature. For the last few days, she has been pestering me, her "patron" as she calls me, to guest post on my blog. I was rather averse to the notion of HER doing such a preposterous thing, because once she starts, it can be hard to shut her up. But I have come to a truce with her. That is, she is only allowed to talk for fifteen minutes, and then she MUST be quiet, or else I will have to forcibly hand-cuff and gag her. That seems to have scarred her alright, but not enough to stop her from the attempt of speaking on my blog....

"The most gracious, esteemed, benevolent and... and... and ... (oh dear, and Valerius did tell me to take heed to my diction if I was to attempt this!) and kind Listeners and Debaters of my noble Patron and her Forum (she calls it a blog), how very flattered I am to be able to share my feelings with you, candidly and from the depth of my heart--something so rare and unappreciated among my large circle of acquaintances who look down their noses on tears and laughter, and romantic tales and wistful dreams. Alas, I cannot let you endure hearing my dismal tale of the life I lead, for it would break your noble hearts, and that would be an insurmountable tragedy! However, I have some business to attend to. It is my most solemn duty to make my presence of use here and be for once the mouth-piece of my patron who has faithfully (if not languorously) been mine these last four years of my life. 

She has asked me to inform you that she is currently very much occupied with her studies and a musical examination which she claims to be fast approaching, so she will have very little time for you for a while (oh, Patron, how can you be so very heartless and cruel?!).  Besides this, she has not directed me as to what to say here, so I take my liberty here in sharing some interesting little facts about my life in general, and my patron in particular.

You know, she seems especially anxious to help a young client from Britannia by the name of Jane Wilson in what she calls "an editing process", giving very little time to attend to my own problems. To say the least, I am feeling a wee bit jealous of that young Jane for having taken all the attention of the patron. My patron seems now to only deal with me in the recesses of her mind as she keeps claiming she has no time to deal with me or my family seriously at this time. She says, "after exams, schoolwork and such I surely will get to you." Oh how very condescending! Well, if I do nothing else, I plan on displaying my worst face even when she does pay us a visit (whenever that might be!). I will surely stamp my feet and frighten her frightfully so much so that she will not dare abandon us again. Portia, my slave, has ventured to tell me that my patron might not be afraid of us, but rather plan to assassinate us instead. If that be so, I intend to fight her with teeth and nails to stay alive (such is my zest for life). And of course she can't really get rid of us... after all without her clients how will she ever win enough votes or make it to the Senate? I should know, as my father is a Senator himself!

Much as I love my patron she has some great weaknesses which I will not, for the sake of her honour, utter here. But the worst of them is that she mistakenly seems to believe that the principle villain in this tragic story o' my family happens to be my own beloved husband-to-be, Flavius Apicius. Imagine him.... a villain?! Preposterous! How very proud, stubborn and misguided these patrons are sometimes! Oh no, but PLEASE do not tell my patron that I have said that, or she'd try to kill me for sure!! That's the scariest part about our patrons... they seems to have the power to kill us off on the slightest whim, almost like our own Roman gods and goddesses, who punish us with bolts of lighting and strike us dead to the ground for displeasing them. That reminds me, I really must join Mother tonight in offering incense to our household shrine... I do not want to incur their wrath for my hasty, and oh so foolish tongue!

Do you know something, my dear friends? Out of the sad mess of this tale of ours, my dear patron will be obliged to turn out our lives into rainbow and sunshine and let everyone live happily ever after to the end of our days. I will think her a horrid patron if she did otherwise! But to be perfectly candid with you, I cannot as yet see such a jolly ending. My life to say the least is in a rather gloomy state... what with my brother's misfortunes (I shall not mention them on this public forum, for fear of family disgrace), and my best friend deprived of the ones she loves most, and worst of all, my fiance struggling to gain some footing that would make him able to marry me and let us both live in total bliss here ever after. Look, if she decides not to kill every person in her way, I hope I at least will be among those few selected to live... unless of course she decides she has a task for me to do when everyone is dead. Now that will be worse than being stabbed by a dagger or even burned alive... I positively hate doing anything legionary or heroic as it gives me a dreadful headache, like that of a Macedonian slave drum! Now, that would not be nice.

Of course now that you either love me or hate me, I think it is my solemn duty to terminate this speech (and of course I do not want to be gagged by my patron!). I crave forgiveness for any erroneous diction I have uttered before you this day, but I hope you have born it with graceful pleasure as a whole. And I do hope you will miss me just a wee bit from now on, as well as get a vague idea of what my poor patron has to deal with whenever she decides to pay our family a visit. I am sure she gets positively befuddled.

Till the patron of this happy little forum returns,

yours truly,
Anthea Apicius, nee Gallus

To clear out any confusion, Anthea comes from my work in progress, 'The Crown of Life'. I fear I might have slightly over-exaggerated her character here in her 'guest post', but this was a fun little post that I enjoyed writing mainly for the pleasure of it, not that this young Roman girl is always so temperamental or talkative. She is definitely more nervous than usual (due to my earlier gagging threats), and thus she spoke rather laboriously. And if you have read to this end of the post, hurrah for you!