Friday, December 6, 2019

Folklore, Legends, and Mythological Prompts.

To my dearest friends and followers,

Over the course of the past 25 days (tomorrow will mark the last day for us), my husband and I have been drawing together each day (together meaning, we each drew our own SEPARATE interpretation of the prompt). Our drawings are based on a list of fairy prompts (one beginning with each letter of the alphabet). The list was created by yours truly. XD
Today, I am going to share with you a few select favorites that I drew, along with a brief explanation of what the creature is.

Calypso is not a type of creature. Rather, it is the name of a particular goddess or sea nymph (nature spirit). She was one of 3,000 daughters born of the Titans in Greek Mythology. She was banished to the Isle of Ogygia, though the reason why is unclear. After the Trojan war, Odysseus encountered Calypso where she forced him to stay with her for roughly seven years.
I imagined her as a seductive siren-like being, a true spirit of the water.

My research on drakes has provided me with little insight about these creatures. While so many sources conflict with one another, one thing many of them agreed on is that the term "drake" and "dragon" may be used interchangeably. However, I went with the version I like best, depicting a drake as a type of dragon with six limbs (seven if you count the tail); four legs, and two wings. I gave this magnificent creature nature-like wings with wooden branches for horns.

Elayne, or better known as "Elayne of Astolat" or "the Lady of Shalott", is from Arthurian legend. She is the lover of Sir Lancelot (lover here being, she loved him, though he refrained from any such feelings/actions concerning her). She ends up dying of a broken heart, having previously requested that her body be placed in a rowboat and sent down the Thames River. Eventually, her body arrives in Camelot, where she held a lily pad in one hand and a letter to Sir Lancelot in the other.
What I decided to draw is a woman with a solemn expression, inspired by the woman in John William Waterhouse's painting, The Lady Of Shalott.

Fairy Triad.
My understanding is that a fairy triad is when an oak tree, an ash tree, and a thorn tree all grow together, forming a magical portal. I have also read that if these three trees are found growing next to each other, it creates a "sacred grove", a place where dryads inhabit.
I decided to draw a curious fairy who happened upon a magical tree. This was inspired by The Tree Spirit by Arthur Rackham.

I wanted this to be a loose prompt, allowing for the interpreter (my husband and I) to draw a hippocampus (or seahorse) if we wanted to. I ended up going with Hippo. Though little is known about her, she is also one of the 3,000 daughters born of the Titans. It made me think of a water horse or a water spirit, so I wanted to draw something that screamed water nymph (but was still very different from her sister, Calypso). 
I ended up drawing the "Freshwater Nixie" from The Spiderwick Chronicles.

I put this prompt on the list simply because I thought we would appreciate something easy and my husband likes drawing mushrooms. XD 
I went with a fairy ring, an area where mushrooms naturally grow in a circle. According to folklore though, a fairy ring was created when fairies, particularly pixies, danced in a circle to celebrate the vernal equinox. The mushrooms sprung up from the ground where their feet touched the earth. That circle of mushrooms then became a portal, trapping any human who entered it in an eternal spring, driven mad by the fairies who created it.

Puck is a character from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Nights Dream. My husband told me that Puck was a mischievous child or sprite. I was absolutely flabbergasted!! I always imaged Puck to be a hobgoblin. So I did some research and the original story does not actually say what Puck is or even if he is a boy or a girl!! In plays, he was always depicted as a male though, and given the name Robin Goodfellow.
I still decided to depict him as I always imagined: a hobgoblin.

Qutrubs are interesting creatures. I honestly had no idea what fairy began with the letter Q, so I just picked one at random that I knew absolutely nothing about. My understanding is that it is basically a Djinn or what we would now call a genie. The female qutrub was called a "ghūl", which seems to be where we get "ghoul". 
I decided to draw a genie that was lightly inspired by Jeannie from one of my favorite TV shows, I Dream Of Jeannie.

A Rougarou is a creature that comes from French or more accurately, Cajun lore. It's kind of interesting to me that this is a creature that originates almost entirely in the U.S. The Rougarou, though it has some slight differences, is essentially the werewolf of Louisiana's bayou.
I drew the character Remus Lupin as a werewolf as he is depicted in the Harry Potter films.

A sylph is one of the four types of elemental spirits: water, earth, fire, and air. Sylphs are spirits of the air and cannot be seen. It is said that some have the ability to shape-shift and appear as a female human. The word sylph translates as neráida in Greek, meaning fairy or butterfly, which is a symbol of life and change (much like the wind).
I interpreted this being as a feminine spirit made of air.

Thank you, Dear Reader, for stopping by. I would love to hear from you in the comments!! 
Do you like it when I share lore about fantastical creatures? Which illustration was your favorite? I look forward to hearing from you. 

Yours truly,

Friday, November 29, 2019

A Little Bit Of Everything.

To my dearest friends and followers,

My apologies for not posting in a few weeks!! I feel like I have been pretty busy, but in all honesty, I'm not sure if that's true. Maybe I just didn't feel like I knew what to sit down and write about - so I didn't. XD

On November 10th, my husband and I celebrated our 1 year anniversary. XD He spoiled me a little bit by serving me breakfast in bed, coming home several hours early from work, and giving me flowers. We then went to the beach where we were married and had a picnic. Afterwards, we got ice cream and spent time downtown. It was a really nice day to a difficult year. <3

Just last weekend, he and I went to Family Life's Weekend to Remember marriage conference and heard from a few different speakers. We heard some valuable insight, each took something away, and purchased several books to read together.

Speaking of books...
In October, I sent my manuscript out to five beta readers and told them that I expect it back within two months (giving them plenty of time to read with Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas to plan for). One of those beta readers has since returned my manuscript to me (thank you Mom!!). I was immediately going to begin to work on it, however I decided I would wait until I received the rest so I may compare each person's notes and better decide which things I don't want to change and which things they all said should be changed.

Some other things I have been working on are getting Christmas gifts!! I'm so excited for Christmas.
I'm so excited to get our first tree this year (We didn't have the space for one last year)!!!!!!!!!
I think I have all of the gifts that I'm going to give this year. I like to be done thinking about gifts by the time December comes, that way I don't have to stress about it last minute. Call me efficient. :D

I have also been drawing every day since November 12th. My husband participated in a "100 days of sketching" challenge a few months back. He then did Inktober. While he was drawing whatever he felt like for a few days, I took the liberty of creating another "prompt" list or challenge for him. It is a 26 day challenge, drawing a fairy creature for each letter of the alphabet. I told him that if he accepted my list, I would draw them with him. He accepted my challenge!! Next week I will share some of those drawings with you along with the lore around those creatures!! 
Until then, thank you so much for reading!!

Yours truly,

Friday, November 1, 2019

Days Past.

Journal entry
(19 April 2019)

I liked places like this.
Behind me. Is this changing?
Sunshine. Warmth. You. Us.
This place is us.

Heartbeat. I can hear it. Yours.
Soft pitter-patter from within.
It is soothing. Infinite.
We are alive.

I liked feeling this way.
Rested. Peaceful. Happy.
I liked feeling like this
is all I have.

She listened to me
and heard my silent words.
No judging, no interrupting.
She understood
and whispered it back to me.

The sun. The warmth.
The breeze. It feels good.
The birds. They sing.
No! Please, do not go away.

A moment lost, but not forever.
Silently, you will return again
and echo to me
this never ending cycle.

Yours truly,

Friday, October 25, 2019

Why I'm Not Doing NaNoWriMo This Year.

To my dearest friends and followers,

As you may already be aware, I finished revising my novel Beyond the Veil last Monday (10.14.19)!! I have since sent it to my five beta readers to get their feedback. I am so excited about the progress I have made so far and continue to look into self-publishers.

So, the novel I just finished was quite a long project. I wrote most of it when I joined NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in 2016. That was the first time I joined. I did not join so that I would finish my book. My goal was not to write a 50k word novel. My goal was to write a novel prior to hearing about NaNo. I joined so that I would stay motivated. I finished the book roughly two months after NaNo ended.

This year, I have put a lot of thought into joining again. I finished writing my book, I finished revising it (it's currently on it's third draft), and now it's in the hands of my beta readers. I have time off!! I've been going back and forth a lot. Will I join NaNo this year? Maybe I won't. Maybe I will. Maybe I won't.

With a lot of thinking and consideration, talking to other writers about it, looking at my old account, I decided I will not be joining this year. Sure, I'm finished with my novel for the moment, but I'm not done. I have time to look into publishers, to decide on one, to make sure I have the cover I want, etc..

I also have time to begin my next project!!
When I finished writing Beyond the Veil back in 2017, I began to think about the next book I would write - the book that demanded to be written by the character who demanded his own story. I am finally ready to answer that call. I made my own notebook and have begun building my world, naming my characters, playing with different ideas and directions in which the story could go.
In all honesty, I haven't taken the time to even think about what the story will actually be about. I haven't even gotten that far. I've only gotten as far as an idea - an idea about another novel within the same universe as Beyond the Veil...
And I am unsure if I want all of my focus to be on my new project when I feel like the previous one isn't complete yet. Within a month, I could start to get those manuscripts back from my beta readers. I want to be ready when I do. I don't want to put them aside because I am in the middle of trying to write a new novel. I want to be ready for more editing on my part.

That being said, I would still love to share ideas with others who are doing NaNo this year. I would love to join a Write-in, if any are being hosted in my area. If any of you reading this are in the San Diego region, hit me up!!
Come NaNo 2020, I will be joining without hesitation!!

Yours truly,

What is NaNoWriMo 

Friday, October 18, 2019

Beta Readers.

To my dearest friends and followers,

I just want to give all of my faithful readers an update about my fantasy novel, Beyond the Veil.
Let me begin by saying,
this week was THE week.
It was a very good week for me. It was the week I finished my book!!

There have been so many steps in this process, and though I completed another, I am not done yet.
Allow me to explain. XD
Rather than telling you what happened (I made some choices regarding my book that I wish I had done in a different order), I am going to tell you those steps that I wish were true:

The first step was to write the book. I did that.
The second step was to let it sit for a year (or slightly more in my case).
The third step was to revise my book on my own.

This is the step I just finished!! It took me a little bit longer than I anticipated, but I finished!! I couldn't be more excited about that. I fleshed out a lot of ideas that were only mentioned in the first rough draft, I omitted some ideas entirely that were placed there originally. What was a 61,752 word manuscript is now a 75,401 word manuscript!!

My next step is beta readers. I've heard that this is a good step, though I've never really done it before. I have recruited 5 individuals who will be going over my book for me. I requested that they have it back to me in about two months. I even sent them little bags with goodies for editing (highlighter, page tabs, sticky notes). I am super excited and cannot wait to hear what they have to say!
Once that process is done, I will be going over the book again with their feedback in mind. After that I will work on the publishing process.
For now, I am going to begin looking into the publishing services I have been considering. I am also working on writing down ideas for a second project that I will talk more about at a later time.

I will do my best to keep you up to date as this latest process unfolds. If there is anything you would like to know about my book, anything at all, please let me know in the comments!
As always, thank you so much for reading!!

Yours truly,

Friday, October 11, 2019

Talking With Authors: Charles Reed.

Getting to know us:
Author Interviews #3
Chronicles Of Darkness.

To my dearest friends and followers,

Last week, I had the pleasure of interviewing indie author and friend of mine, Charles Reed. Today I am excited to share that interview with you!
To start, I met Charlie back in 2016 over social media. I believe we met in one of the many writing groups I joined on Facebook. At any rate, I was writing a darker fantasy novel and he was too. We enjoyed sharing our work with each other and what our books were about. 
Since then, he has gotten his first book published though I have yet to read it because I'm a terrible friend (sorry Charlie!!), but we message every so often and I usually end up asking for writing tips, his thoughts on potential book covers I create, and what it was like publishing his book. Now I'd like to share some of that with you! Thank you for reading and thank you Charles for taking the time to answer these questions for me!

Tell me a bit yourself? 

Hello, my name is Charles Reed. I am a single father to my 7 year old daughter. I am 25 years old.
I spend a lot of my time exercising and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, most of my free time is spent with my daughter where we 
will often go exploring the local woods, playing games, hiking etc.
In my own spare time I like to get a little more adventurous and will go off trail, taking up climbing, and swimming.
Outside of that I also have interests in forms of art besides literature. I enjoy painting, drawing, cosplay, occasionally taking up gaming, reading, watching shows and anything else I can try
(Not that my schedule allows for much of this haha).

Tell me about your published book or books?

My first book I: Chronicles Of Darkness book 1 is a dark fantasy novel following the life of a young god shortly after he is born. It is primarily a first person book, being retold by the god as he reflects on his life. The book focuses mainly on his travels at a young age as he combats enemies and deals with growing up in a society where he is largely alone.
The book shows a more humanistic nature to gods and follows the nameless protagonist as he develops both mentally and physically.
It is set in many different places, an ancient city, a mystic castle, a primeval forest and a futuristic city. I will have a sequel upcoming however you can look forward to a side project coming first! A Horror/Suspense novel will be coming from me next!

What made you decide you were going to be a writer? When did you start writing? Why do you write?

I started writing I in high school, so it was a very lengthy process. I was given quite a lot of encouragement from my English teachers
as they kept giving me high marks on my work.
I feel like what gave me the drive to write was simply that I had a story to tell.
I largely write for myself as all authors should, I am my own driving force when it comes to writing, it makes for a much simpler writing process.

What do you think makes a good story?

I feel like anything can be considered a good story, it's how it is told that carries the most weight in my opinion and how people connect with it.
Some people will connect with a story and some will not, it's a vastly individualistic experience, and there's no one right answer for what will make a person feel connected to the story in a way that they enjoy it, in reference to the previous question this is largely why a person should write for themselves, in contrast to the approval of others.

Do you believe in the worlds you create?

I think that every author is the pseudo-god of the world they write.
So you should absolutely feel guilty for killing off any characters you kill. (Kidding)
If we take this from an advanced scientific perspective we can compare multiverse and string theory for baselines. According to these 2 theories, its possible that the stories you write are a connection to an alternate reality. For a simpler answer though, I absolutely believe that if nothing else, the stories we write exist in the hearts and minds of both the readers and the writers. 

What is a favorite book you've read and is there an author you feel influenced your own writing style?

I have quite a few favorite books, but only to pick one I would say...City of Bones, an excellent book that started me out on a journey that split into multiple series. I love it, those are also considered dark fantasy, but are on the lighter side in my opinion.
Love Cassandra Clare, the author of the previously mentioned book and following series. She was a great influence that happened to give me the right push into writing.

What is the weirdest/most interesting thing you've had to research for your books?

Mmmm to be fair, I've only ever had to do some minor fact checking when it comes to my writing.
So the most interesting thing I've researched is Gargantuous. Not a real word (oops)

Tell me, how did you decide on a publisher for your book? Who did you go through and how was it using their services?

Aha, sore subject! So originally I submitted to agents, which I recommend regardless of my continuous rejection, as it is a very good practice and prepares you for doing it all over again later. I ended up self publishing through Amazon for the reach, and achieved a modicum of success in the process.

Do you have a creative space? What does it look like?

I usually do my first draft on my phone, so my create space is primarily in my room, I connected my desk to my bed (Which I'm typing this on). And that's where the majority of my magic happens, I find it good to relax when I'm writing. The majority of my editing is done on my computer so that I can utilize more resources while I'm going through drafts.

What advice do you have for other indie authors?

Persevere! Never give up and keep trying over and over again!

What are some of your pet peeves?

When people put up their bare feet on an object that's near other people, i.e. a movie theatre seat, airplanes, the dash of a car.

Are you a coffee drinker or a tea drinker?

I'm an espresso drinker chronically so I can wake up and stay up.
I'm a tea drinker when I want to relax.

Anything else you'd like to add?

Well I found this to be an enjoyable interview, I want to thank Vanessa for the opportunity. I will also be available for free on Ebook for the next 7 days!
You can also follow me on Twitter for my more humorous side and the occasional book sneak peaks/ info about what I'm working on.

Thank you and happy reading everyone!

Thank you so much for your time Charlie!!

Yours truly,

Friday, September 27, 2019

My Creative Space.

To my dearest friends and followers,

I have always believed that one could learn a lot about a person by what their room/house looks like. What colors did they use, what does their furniture look like, what decor did they use, what posters/pictures are on the walls?
It's the same thing for an artist. What does their creative space look like? What does that say about them?

A few weeks ago, I shared with you what puts me in the right place to write, my evening ritual as it were. XD
This week, I thought I'd share with you what my creative space is like.

To start, I don't actually have a designated room which is something that I would LOVE to have. So for now, I've just got a lovely wooden desk in the living room of the house. It's a dark wood, which is something I'd like to change to a light wood. In the left corner of it is an antique looking lamp. The light bulb is completely exposed, as there is chicken wire going around in the place of a lamp shade. This was not an easy lamp to find!! I spent years trying to find a lamp like this, with no lampshade.

Next to the lamp is a small green lantern (meant for a candle) which I am using as a pencil cup, or pen cup rather. It contains my XACTO knofe, a mechanical pencil, two ballpoint pens, a Prismacolor fine line marker which looks like a pen, a black sharpie, and three calligraphy pens. I have a fake dried flower clipped to the side of the lantern, and a natural coconut wax lavender scented candle in front of it.

Farther left is another 8oz lavender candle. Next to that is a small wooden chest in which I keep my thumb drives. Three tiny glass bottles, or fairy bottles if you will are on top of the chest. 
On the far right side of the desk is a stack of books.
From the bottom up, I have:

A large notebook filled with illustrations of characters from my book, and notes about another book I have yet to write.
Next is an Encyclopedia of Fairies in World Folklore and Mythology by Theresa Bane. This book pretty much speaks for itself. It has no pictures. It isn't the best book to learn about one particular creature, but it's great for a quick reverence about hundreds of creatures, with only a small paragraph of information about each one.
On top of that is my newest book, An Encyclopedia of Tolkien by David Day. I got this only two days ago. I wasn't looking for it, I just happened across it. It's really fascinating and talks about the original myths and legends that inspired Tolkien and how he used those in his own works. Definitely a must have I think for not just Tolkien fans, but fantasy lovers in general.
I then have The Middle Ages: Everyday life in Medieval Europe by Jeffery L. Singman. A very useful reference to that time period. 
Next is a book I wanted for about 5 years and only recently bought: The Princes In The Tower by Alison Weir. I have heard both good and bad things about this book, but honestly, any enthusiast of Edward V should give it a read in my opinion.
On top of that I have my yearbook journal for 2019 that I made.
I also have THE journal that inspired my book. There's nothing interesting inside it, I just like the cover art by Kinuko Y. Craft.
Next is the journal I made in 2015 as I was writing my book.
On top of that is a notebook I made for me while I am revising my book,
and on top of that is a small sketchbook I made.
The cherry on top is a small glass vase with dried roses, baby's breath, and eucalyptus (one of the decorations left over from my wedding). 

Of course, my laptop is in the front and center of the desk. I have one of those keyboard wrist pads in front of it because my wrists hurt a lot. And I have a wireless mouse next to the laptop. You know the trackpads that come attached, or built in to the computer? yeah, those. Gross. That's why I have an actual mouse. And even though my laptop is Apple, my mouse is not. Gross.
Ooh!! And there's a string of fairy lights creating an arch, like a window on the wall in front of my desk. I also have two big windows left to me that are nearly always open for that fresh California air, baby!

I do have 4 drawers in this desk, but I'm not going to tell you what's in them mostly because that's boring. They're filled with things like matches, candlewick trimmers, book light, earbuds, glasses case, more notebooks, etc.

In general, I am a very neat person. I keep my space clean and organized. Before I'm working at my desk, it's always clean. When I get up from my desk, it's always clean. BUT when I am sitting at my desk, it looks like a tornado went through, with papers and clutter all over the surface of it and on the floor around me. I know it's a stereotypical thing that creative people are messy, but that's just not 100% true.

Yours truly,

Friday, September 13, 2019

My Evening Ritual.

Sing in me, Muse, and through me tell the story...
~ Homer
(Translated by Robert Fitzgerald)

To my dearest friends and followers,

This past week has been rather eventful. To start, my husband got a new job and those nightshifts are taking some getting used to - for the both of us.

I used to be a night owl...but work and marriage changed that. I don't know why, but I always felt peaceful at night, and kind of lonely. Not in a bad way though, more so in a rainy day kind of way where I feel like I can think. I felt inspired, the muses within my mind waking up and singing their songs of creativity to me.

With my husband working nights now, I feel like my muses have come back.
Yes!! I have begun working on my book again, revising another chapter every other night. It's such a rewarding feeling, as this is the most progress I've made in as many days. I truly do think that I shall be done at the end of October of this year. XD

My nights have typically looked like this:
I decide what to eat for dinner, make whatever it is I decided, feed my fur babies, eat that dinner I made (whilst watching a 44 minute episode of a show of my choosing), clean up that dinner (if I feel like it), watch a YouTube video, interact with people on my social media and possibly even post something myself. 
Basically, after I have wasted a good deal of time, I start to take things seriously. I turn off all the lights in the house, sit down and turn on the lamp on my desk. I open the document on my computer. I then proceed to stare at it.

After a few seconds pass, I'll open Spotify and pull up my James Newton Howard - Peter Pan 2003 soundtrack. It's fantastical, beautiful, sad, dark, and magical. I once read someone describe that soundtrack as being what love sounds like. I can't remember who said that, but I couldn't agree more.
It puts me exactly where I need to be. It puts me in a magical land of fairies and men. A land of beauty and darkness. A land of love and hate.

I then light my lavender scented candle.
Finally I am able to write. To read what I have already written and retype it, polishing it as I go.

I should like to boast that I am just about at the word count that I was at the end of NaNoWriMo 2016 (gosh, was it that long ago?). XD Not finished yet, but I'm keeping motivated and I am finally almost halfway through my manuscripts current (as in, non-edited version) word count.

I know I am not the only writer who struggles to go back over their work and edit. But let me say this: don't give up. Let's make our books the best they can be. We deserve that much after all the time we've put into them.

Yours truly,

Friday, August 30, 2019

Exploring the World of Fairy in Art.

...Above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world 
around you because the greatest secrets are always 
hidden in the most unlikely places. 
Those who don't believe in magic will never find it.
~ Roald Dahl

To my dearest friends and followers,

Today I'd like to share with you some recent discoveries of mine concerning fairies. You should note that this post is not about fairy folklore, it's about the fairies I have taken a liking to in art.

To begin, I would like to tell you about a rather peculiar book I came across.
A few weeks ago, I happened to be in the local library for reasons not concerning books actually. The small bookstore within the library piqued my interest though. I saw a book that had to do with fairies. It was beautifully illustrated with delicate watercolor fairies. I left the store empty-handed. Later I found that I had not stopped thinking about the book. Those illustrations kept coming back to me. They were so breathtaking!

I did a Google search for watercolor fairies and though I was not able to find the book I was looking for, I found something else that caught my eye. It was a fairy by an artist I had never heard of: Toni Burt. Her work was so simplistic and yet complicated at the same time. Such fine detail showed and yet there was little detail. It was whimsical and magical and beautiful. It was a piece of art called "beguiled fairy". It looked like it had been loosely sketched and then painted in watercolor.

A few days after my initial trip to the library, I took another trip there. I went back to the bookstore to purchase the book I should have purchased the first time. They still had it, and I walked out with the book in hand and one less dollar than I had walked in with. It's called Fairie-ality: The Fashion Collection from the House of Ellwand by Eugenie Bird (author), David Downton (illustrator), and David Ellwand (photographer).
It's quite a humorous little book, but it is extremely well put together, filled with the most beautiful artwork. It is definitely well worth the dollar I spent on it. I'd say it's a must have for anyone who loves fairies.

I love drawing fairies, and I was inspired by both Toni Burt and David Downton's illustrations. I am now working on filling a sketchbook with fairies in like style, loose lines, just the right about of detail, and mostly pastel colors. I am however, working with my preferred colored pencils instead of watercolors.
I believe it is important to know my own style and to stay true to that, but to also not be afraid to try something new. I am doing both. XD
I have been feeling more confident in my art lately I suppose and am more open to trying something new. As my husband said, as an artist, it's good to get out of our comfort zone so as to not grow stagnate or become stale. Thank you for encouraging me, Love.
It's easy to know what you like and what you're good at. It's good to remember to be open to trying new things too. It offers an opportunity for learning and growth. I feel like I have started exploring a whole new world of fairies in art.
Thank you so much for reading and I hope you enjoy some of my most recent artwork below.

Yours truly,

Fairie-ality: The Fashion Collection - Eugenie Bird, David Downton, David Ellwand (Candlewick Press; 2006)

Friday, August 9, 2019

The Buried Castle Pt. 2.

To my dearest friends and followers,

Last week I shared two chapters from The Buried Castle, a novella I wrote nine years ago. I want to say thank you to those of you who voted for me to post more chapters!! 

As you may remember, the first two chapters I wrote were in a tiny book I made for my American Girl dolls. Then I later decided to turn those into a novella. Interestingly enough, the first two chapters in my pdf document are a bit different from the chapters I shared last week. They're lengthier, more detailed, and there are more characters mentioned. In general, the writing style is slightly different. Perhaps one day you will read them, but for now, I am going to continue where we left off last week...

The Buried Castle
"Shorter Lessons"

The next morning at breakfast, Charlotte asked, “Grandmother, must I do my lessons
“Why, of course, child!” Margaret answered. “What do you want to do instead?”
“I want to take Prince into the forest, and...”
“And play with John,” Margaret finished for her.

There was a forest that was not far from their cottage, and when Charlotte was

younger, she was riding Prince in it, when she met John Pixton, a boy who is a year older than her. He lived in a small little house in the forest with his father and mother.
John's father kept goats that roamed in the forest with no boundaries. He also had a beautiful sorrel horse named Gallant with a white star on his forehead. Together, John and Charlotte would spend many evenings riding on the beach.
Margaret never met the young lad, but she liked him from the things that Charlotte told her. She knew Charlotte liked him too by the tone in her voice when she talked about him and the things she said. Not once did she say anything unpleasant about him. Only kind and gentle words passed through her lips.

“My goodness! You don't even know if it really exists. No. I want you to finish your lessons before hunting for fairy tales. Besides, I'm sure John has his lessons to do also.”

“He does not,” Charlotte said. “He does not sit inside and read books like I do, oh no. He learns his lessons by being outdoors. He is outside much more than I am and even though he lives in the forest and doesn't get a lot of sun, his flesh is still darker than mine. I look dead, I am so white! While I sit here and learn to speak Latin and French and read about the Kings of England from morning to evening, he learns about his animals by being with them, and he knows about the wild animals, and of the forest plants, and he could tell you if it is going to rain or not by the smell of the wind.
“While I sit here and write songs and play the piano, he plays his flute to the trees...”
“Charlotte” Margaret interrupted, “are you telling me do not you like your lessons?” 
“I like them, I just wish I could be outside more.”
Charlotte thought her grandmother would be angry with her, but instead she said,

“Why have you not told me before? I will make arrangements for your lessons to not last until supper.”

“Oh, thank you, Grandmother!” Charlotte hugged her to show her gratitude, then finished her breakfast and started her lessons.

She read about King Henry VIII and his six wives. His first wife was Catharine of Aragon, but when he grew tired of her, he married Anne of Boleyn. Later she was beheaded. At the death of Jane Seymour, his third wife, he married Anne of Cleaves. He then divorced her like the first, and married Catherine Howard. And then he married Catherine Parr when the other died.

Then she read stories in Latin. It is easier for someone to learn something when they have a desire to learn it, and this was the same for Charlotte Heart. She read her favourite book, “Le Morte d'Arthur” in the language it was originally written in; Latin.
Then she practiced playing a song she had written on the piano. It was called “The Shepherd and the Goose-Girl.” Charlotte played a beautiful little tune, then she cleared her
throat and sang as follows;

“The Shepherd and the Goose-Girl”

There was a shepherd boy
Who kept watch over his sheep.
He sat upon that little hill,
While most of the animals lay asleep.

Then he heard the sound
Of a maiden's voice so fair.
Her singing, thought he,
Was so beautiful, and oh so rare.

He walked through grass and trees 
Until he came to a stream with rock. 
A goose-girl is what he saw, 
Standing there, guarding the flock.

She had a sweet mouth
And bright sparkling eyes, 

With hair that was the colour 
Of honey from the hives. 

Never before, said he to himself, 
Have I seen a maiden as fair as she. 
Many a day did he watch her,
But talk to her would not he.

Then he had fallen in love with her,
 And interrupting the song, said he,
How art thou, fair maiden,
On a fine day as this be?

The maiden was startled
And stopped singing the gay tune. 

Quoth she, I best be getting home, 
For it is almost noon.

She turned to leave,
But the shepherd gently said,
Leave not, I beg of thee,
For fain would I marry thee, or be dead.

She was so pretty and so happy, 
 she began to cry, 
Willingly will I marry thee,
For I would not have thee die.

So their wedding was full of 
Happiness and laughter, 
And they lived...
Happily ever after. 

When Charlotte finished her lessons, she went to her bedroom to change so that she could ride Prince. She changed out of her pale blue frock that made her bright blue eyes stand out, and into her riding gown. She let her curly dark locks down to lay as they wished, and then she went outside. 

"Where is John?"

It was a beautiful spring day, and when Charlotte went outside, she smelt the fresh blossoms in the air. All of the leaves that hung from the trees danced in the cool breeze that went by. Many of the bright coloured birds were out singing gay little songs. Some sounded as though they were singing at the top of their tiny lungs, others sang quiet peaceful tunes. She saw a bird fly to her nest that was in a juniper tree and feed her young ones that waited their mother's return. The bees were busy buzzing about, and the sun must have been happy, for his smile was shining brightly.

Then she noticed that Oliver, the stable boy, was ready with Prince. He had been on this earth but sixteen years. He smiled at her, showing his white teeth on that dirty boyish face. He was a kind lad, and always whistled gay tunes to himself as he worked. Often he would make up his own tunes, then put his own words with them. 

“Hallo,” he said to Charlotte as he helped her to mount.
“Thank you, Oliver.”
“It is my pleasure to help a bonny lass like yourself,” said merry Oliver. “Going to have a bit of fun today?”
“Oh, yes. Me and John are going to look for the key to the buried castle,” she explained excitedly.
Oliver stared at her blankly. “If you don't mind me asking, what are you talking about?”
“Not at all. It is a key and a castle that I am not sure exists,” she explained.
“If you are not sure it exists, why look for it?” he inquired.
“Oh, Oliver,” Charlotte giggled, “that is half the fun in looking!” and with that, she 
was off, Prince's hooves kicking up the sand as he galloped in the direction of the forest. 

Oliver just watched her with a confused look on his face. “Leigh Hunt was right when he said, 'A girl is the sweetest thing God ever made,'” he said, referring to the English Poet. “But,” he continued, “they sure are the queerest things He ever made too.” When he could see her no more, he went back to work, whistling to himself.

So, Prince galloped on towards the forest, Charlotte's hair flying all about her face.
Then, when they came to the forest, he began to walk. The sun was hidden by all the trees, making it dark and moist. Soft green moss covered many rocks and the trunks of trees.
Within time, Charlotte caught sight of a herd of goats. “Surely he must be near,” she thought to herself. But she did not dare call out his name, for fear that she would startle the animals.

As she came closer to them, she saw Gallant grazing with them, then she heard the faint sound of a flute being played. Now she knew he was near! She dismounted Prince and tied his reins to a tree nearby. Then she looked and looked and looked for John, but found him not. And she couldn't follow the sound of the flute, for there was no sound to follow. He stopped playing it.

After some time, Charlotte had grown weary of searching and she sat herself under a beech tree. “Oh, where is he?” she asked herself aloud.
“Here he is,” a familiar voice answered.
Charlotte was startled and looked all about her. “Where?”
“Here. Up here.”

She looked into the tree at which she sat, and saw John looking down at her. He sat on 
a thick branch to support his weight with a flute in his hands and a grin on his face. 

“Hallo,” he said cheerfully.
“Hallo? Hallo? John, are you not aware that I have been looking for you?” Charlotte inquired testily.
“Ay, I am quite aware,” he answered proudly. Again he smiled at her.

John had the kind of smile that when he smiled at someone, they had to smile too. Or maybe it was his kindness that made them smile, or maybe some just liked his smile. Whatever the reason, Charlotte could not be mad at him, but smiled back.

“What is it you wanted from me?” John asked kindly.
“I wanted to ask if you wanted to dig in the sand today?”
John looked amused. “Charlotte,” he laughed, “Charlotte, are we not a bit old to play 
in the sand?”

“I don't want to play in the sand, John. I want to dig for a key.” She told him the story of the buried castle.
“That sounds just like a fairy tale,” he said. 
"I believe one is never too old to believe in fairy tales, and I also believe it is not a tale, but really happened here in Shooting Star hundreds of years ago.”

John looked doubtful and didn't really want to look through all that sand for a key that he was sure they wouldn't find, but he could see that Charlotte was determined to find it, so his face brightened up and he said in his cheerful voice, “All right, let's look!”

Charlotte forgot herself and hugged John for excitement. He was just as surprised as she was. “I apologize.” somewhat embarrassed, she released him. “But thank you!”
“That's quite all right,” John said.“Now, tell me,” he went on, “when and where do we look for this buried key? And if we do find it..”
Charlotte interrupted him with a frown on her face. “Don't you mean when we find it?”
“But you don't know that we ever will,” he insisted.
“But we will. I can just feel it.”
He smiled at her.
“Why are you looking at me like that?” she asked kindly, not being able to keep a

smile off her face.
“I love that about you,” he said. “When you set your mind on something, even when 
you do not know if it really exists, you are determined to find it anyway!”

“Oh,” she said, for she did not really know what to say. “What was it you were about to say?”
“Huh? Oh. Um...What do we do with it when we find it?”
Charlotte didn't know the answer to that, so she said, “I suppose we will know when 
we find it. Shall we start looking now?”

“That sounds good to me,” he agreed. “First let us ride back to my house and tell my dear mum what I will be doing.” 

So saying, they each mounted their horses and rode towards his house. All of the goats followed, for they knew John was their master, and wherever he went, they would follow. 

Thank you so much for reading. I'd love to hear from you in the comments if you would like to read chapter five. XD

Yours truly,