Friday, November 20, 2020

Fin.

Looking into the world from Beyond the Veil and the folklore that surrounds it.
Part 10. 
To my dearest friends and followers,

This is the final week of my 10 week series of analyzing my young adult fantasy novel, The Story of Hollyhocks (Tales from Beyond the Veil book 1)!! For anyone who might be new here, you can find part 1 by clicking here, From Beyond the Veil (if you are using the desktop version). Or, if you are using a mobile device, you can begin with the article published on September 3rd by clicking here.

Chapter 36 picks up mid-dialogue that began in the previous chapter. Hollyhocks has just learned that Jack died, and wonders how it is that he is still "alive". We learn a little about his past life and what it is that made him who he is now. This character was extremely fun to write, even though he really only appears in the last 5 chapters of the book. He was influenced by one of my favorite characters ever written, Peter Pan. He is youthful, frozen in time, and arrogant and charming all at once.
The stories of Jack Frost go way back, where he actually originated as two different beings: Nordic gods, or giants. One was named Jokul (Icicle) and the other was named Frosti (Frost). Somehow the names became meshed together, and then translated into English as Jack Frost. In time, he was thought to be an evil entity, bringing darkness and the bitter cold in the world.
My research as led me to believe that it was in the book, The Weather Fairies by Marion St. John Webb (published 1927) which first depicted Jack Frost as a sprite. She (the author) writes about him as being a childlike, mischievous, and evil character.
In 2012, the DreamWorks film, Rise of the Guardians, came out, painting a fresh view of the character, depicting him as a young carefree teenager who was once a normal human boy. In my mind, he was the ice version of Peter Pan. I always love characters like this, including Jet from Avatar: The Last Aribender.
If you are familiar with one or all of these characters, you might see similarities with them and the character from my book, though I take the story in a much different direction as well.
Towards the end of the chapter, Jack says that his soul is joyful - something that Hollyhocks and other characters have longed for the entirety of the book.

Chapter 37 is interesting, in that we learn that Hollyhocks's parents are "privy to her adventures in the human world," so we now know that they know about Edward, who has been absent since chapter 30.
I think the biggest thing in this chapter is that, even though we know that the law was set in the Ancient World saying that no sprite should leave the Forest for the rest of time, Hollyhocks's parents decide to allow her to leave the Forest when she likes, since they know they could not really ever prevent her from going. We are told this in the space of a single paragraph, and it is never really brought back up. This is because Hollyhocks, at the time, was still very upset about Edward, and we are told that because of this, "her parents leniency meant little to her." I think it's safe to say that, though she will take action on this at a later time, it's never openly discussed with her parents again.

Chapter 39 picks up months later, in the spring to be exact, which is exactly one year later from when the story began (excluding the 1st chapter). Jack seemingly succeeds in his endeavor to bring Hollyhocks out of her darkness, as we are told that her world "grew brighter". One thing about Jack, is he looks for the little things that make life worthwhile, appreciating the beauty of the Forest, and living joyfully, believing that life itself is an adventure. 
The beliefs of Jack are what I came to believe myself - or what I am always striving for, at least. I used to feel like I was always waiting for "one day" to arrive - like I wasn't really living in the time that I was in, always waiting for something better to come along. I always loved books with beautiful details. I loved the infinite moments, the moments that the characters felt most alive. I wanted that. I wanted to notice the world in the way the poets talked about. I think Jack was born out of that desire, so to speak. He notices things that others do not. He has reached what the others desire: joy.
Hollyhocks believes that one day she will feel joy, though she never really achieves it in this book, which is honestly a bit sad. Still though, she is with her friends and glad to be home, content to live her own adventure in the midst of the Forest with those she cares about.

Thank you so much for reading!!

Yours truly,
Me

Additional:
Check out the novel, The Story of Hollyhocks (Tales from Beyond the Veil book 1). A new revised version will be available for purchase in December 2020!!

Friday, November 13, 2020

Beginning To See The Light.

 Looking into the world from Beyond the Veil and the folklore that surrounds it.
Part 9.
To my dearest friends and followers,

Today is the ninth week that I will be discussing and analyzing my novel, The Story of Hollyhocks (Tales from Beyond the Veil book 1). In case anyone has not read the previous 8 posts, you can do so my clicking on the Archive on the right panel of the blog if you are viewing from the desktop version, or by clicking here if you are using a mobile device, and beginning with the article published on September 3rd, 2020.

Today I will be going over chapters 32-35. Next week, I will be finishing this series with chapters 36-39!!

Chapters 32 and 33 both focus on the state of depression that Hollyhocks enters (a result of the events told in chapters 30 and 31). She, JuJuBee, and Shaylee journey back from London, traveling through familiar places, such as Stony Stratford (where the characters lodged in chapter 15), and Northampton (see also chapter 15). The end of chapter 33 sees the characters arriving back at the Forest. Hollyhocks is hesitant to return home as she struggles to feel like she belongs anywhere, after experiencing an adventure beyond anything she could ever have imagined.
Shaylee is a pillywiggin (a flower fairy) and hibernates during the colder seasons. We learn that summer is nearly over, and autumn is approaching fast, giving way to the bitter cold winter that is sure to come. While Shaylee grows more and more sleepy, JuJuBee really steps up and becomes the good friend that I think we've been wanting her to be. She comforts Hollyhocks and offers wisdom in this dark time. The chapter ends with JuJuBee accompanying Hollyhocks as she is about to return to her parents after having been away for so long.

Chapter 34 picks up several months later, with winter already upon them. We see a glimpse of what the autumn was like while also seeing for the first time how the sprite's magic works while they painted their world in the colors of fall. Hollyhocks's negative energy affects how the leaves turn out, causing them to die, rather than painting them in vibrant hues.
We then see a flashback of when Hollyhocks and JuJuBee first arrived back at Hollyhocks's home. Her parents welcome her, telling her though they missed her, they were not worried about her, for the unicorn (Anlon) had told them she would return.
We are then taken back to the present day (winter with snow upon the ground). Hollyhocks is alone in the Forest and views the world as dull and gray, which greatly contrasts her views in the first 29 chapters of the book. At last she is met by Anlon. She feels that he is empathetic toward her and hears the word hope in the wind, much in the same way that Edward heard the name Anlon in chapter 17. She follows him as he runs deeper into the Forest, convinced that the unicorn has more to tell her, but loses track of him several times through the snow falling. Hours have passed and she is tired, but before she can turn back, she collides with someone.

In the 35th chapter, we meet the cocky, yet charming Jack Frost. The two realize they have met before (see chapter 3). Jack Frost acts as a light for Hollyhocks, with the narrator telling us, Despite his pompous demeanor, his smile was oddly attractive and she found it contagious. How strange it felt to smile again. Jack is very observant and while Hollyhocks tells him briefly why she is sad, he quickly fills in the blanks, narrowing down exactly how she feels. She is alarmed by this, but continues to answer his probing questions. The chapter ends with Jack revealing a great secret about himself...

Thank you so much for reading!!

Yours truly,
Me

Additional:
(A new revised version will be available for purchase in December 2020).

Related Posts:

Friday, November 6, 2020

Murdered or Survived?

 Looking into the world from Beyond the Veil and the folklore that surrounds it.
Part 8.
To my dearest friends and followers,

Over the course of the last 2 months, I have been analyzing my novel, The Story of Hollyhocks (Tales from Beyond the Veil book 1), and talking about the historical elements and folklore that I put in to the story. If you would like to read through the previous 7 posts in this series, please check out the Archive on the right panel of this page and begin with the post From Beyond the Veil in September.

Today I will be going through chapters 28-31.
Chapter 28 tells of Richard of Shrewsbury, the Duke of York, arriving at the Tower of London to stay with his older brother, Edward V. In chapters 16 and 19, we saw the two boys in Ludlow, playing a game together which we are told they did often (or when their schedules permitted them to do so. Chapter 28 expands over several days, in which it is implied that the boys were delighted to be reunited with one another again. We then learn from the narrator that they spent much of their playing together at the Tower.
History tells us that, while Edward resided in Ludlow and was raised by his maternal uncle, Lord Anthony Woodville, 2nd Earl Rivers, Richard of Shrewsbury was raised primarily by his mother, Elizabeth Woodville. This meant that Richard would have spent much of his time in London, and that the two brothers would have hardly seen each other during their childhood. Elizabeth Woodville was said to have been in sanctuary in Westminster Abbey in London, when her son was taken from her and brought to the Tower on the 16th of June (Edward was brought to his lodgings in the Tower on the 19th of May).
I changed these historical facts for the purpose of having Richard there for Edward in chapters 16-19. It created fond memories in the flashbacks, while also allowing the two boys to have discussions that lead up to Edward finding the Forest in the first place.

Chapter 30 is quite extreme, which greatly contrasts with chapter 29, which is, if I may say so, a beautiful chapter filled with rich dialogue between Hollyhocks and Edward. The two touch on many topics: dreaming of flying and the freeing nature of it, exploring the idea of joy and wishing they could feel it forever, and talking about the possibilities of living in a fairy ring. Chapter 30, however, tells of the fate of Edward V and his brother, Richard.
Historically, the princes in the tower "disappeared" in late September, 1483. Things get extremely interesting here. In 1518, Thomas More wrote that Richard III had the princes murdered by being smothered with their own pillows while they were sleeping. In 1593, William Shakespeare also wrote that the princes were smothered by pillows in his play, Richard III. There are theories that Edward V and his brother were murdered not by their uncle, Richard III, but by Henry Tudor (who would later become Henry VII). There is also evidence in the writings of Sir Thomas More and the painting of his family, Sir Thomas More and Family (Painted by Hans Holbein) supporting the idea that the princes were never murdered, but went on to live secret lives. Who knows what really happened...

Chapter 31 shows the final moments between Hollyhocks and Edward before they are separated from one another. Hollyhocks grieves of his absence, and ends the chapter with a final goodbye, before she, JuJuBee, and Shaylee begin to take their leave from London.

Thank you so much for reading!!
Check out my Twitter for daily updates about my progress with NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)!!

Yours truly,
Me

Additional:
Holbein Artworks: Sir Thomas More and Family.

Friday, October 30, 2020

A Hopeless Romantic.

 Looking into the world from Beyond the Veil and the folklore that surrounds it.
Part 7.
To my dearest friends and followers,

Today I will be discussing chapters 24-27 of my novel, The Story of Hollyhocks (Tales from Beyond the Veil book 1). To check out my analysis of the previous chapters, click on the Archive in the right panel of the blog.

Chapter 24-27 are fairly uneventful when compared to the rest of the book, but I think they are very special chapters in their own right. More than anything, I believe that the simple events that unfold really showcase the friendship that has grown, and still is growing, between Hollyhocks and Edward. In the 27th chapter, the two characters even admit to sharing a special connection, acknowledging that they haven't known each other long (roughly a month at this time).

Chapter 24 continues the same day as the previous chapter, with Edward and company arriving in London, and then being led to his new lodgings, the infamous Garden Tower (built in 1225 and renamed the Bloody Tower in the 1500's.). Hollyhocks and her fairy friends encourage Edward to make the most of his time in the Tower. An invigorated Edward exclaims that he "cannot shatter so easily", in reference to his Uncle Richard, the Duke of Gloucester, who intends to "break" him.

In chapter 25, Edward has begun to settle into his new room. A large trunk is brought to his room containing several of his prized possessions. Of these items is a Bible written in Latin. Edward takes the Bible and lounges on the nook of the window. Hollyhocks is there with him, and he begins to read to her. It is a very casual moment between two friends. Hollyhocks has never heard of it or what it is about, so Edward briefly explains and then begins to read to her, translating what he knew in Latin into English for her to understand. 
Historically, during the time my story takes place, the Bible was very rare to have, except by the papacy and the highest nobles. A child would not have a copy in his bedroom. Also, Bibles were not what they are today. It would have been quite large and heavy, with the pages made of parchment (animal skin which has been treated for writing on), particularly vellum (the skin of a calf), meaning the pages themselves would have been treated very delicately, and not "quickly leafed through" as my story states. Basically, the picture I paint within my book is not historically accurate. I wanted the scene to be a very sweet, casual moment of reading together. Using the historically accurate Bible would have, in my opinion, taken away from what I was trying to communicate.

Chapter 26 showcases the harrowing moment Hollyhocks hears news of the fate of several of the characters in the story. She struggles with telling Edward what she knows, for fear of causing him grief. Her friends tell her they are there for her, to which she cries out, "Then who will be here for him?" She does tell him the news which weighs down the young king immensely, and understandably so.

The 27th chapter holds a special place in my heart. In it, we see Hollyhocks and Edward really connecting with each other, in ways that seem to embarrass the two, but are very sweet to observe for the reader. They are each glad to have the other there with them, and they express that. I believe this is the first time we catch a glimpse of the love they share for each other. Is it simply a love that best friends share for each other, or is it a romantic love? I could tell you my thoughts when I wrote it, but I'll leave the matter up to the reader to decide.
Through the actions, words, and thoughts seen throughout this chapter, I think we see a romantic side to Hollyhocks - and Edward too really. Let me explain, that by the use of the word "romantic" here, I mean in the sense of a dreamer, or a hopeless romantic - someone who has beautiful and unusual thoughts about life; someone who believes in love; someone who is a daydreamer and thinks up improbable notions. I think it definitely reflects a side of me. No, I'm not like that all the time, but I want to be, and I am sometimes. I suppose it's the part of me that writes fantasy stories and believes in them, or the part of me that married my first love, and sometimes like to think that my life is a book. XD

Next week I'll be going over chapters 28-31, which I am both excited about and slightly not looking forward to...
Also, beginning November 1st, I am starting NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)!! That will keep me pretty busy during the month, since the goal is to write 50,000 words. I'll be working on Tales from Beyond the Veil book 2, so yeah!
Thank you so much for reading!!

Yours truly,
Me

Additional:
Learn more about NaNoWriMo.
(search the hashtag #nanowrimo2020. I'll be posting updates on Twitter daily, and weekly on Instagram).

Friday, October 16, 2020

Enter Richard III.

Looking into the world from Beyond the Veil and the folklore that surrounds it.
Part 6.
To my dearest friends and followers,

Today I will be analyzing my novel, The Story of Hollyhocks (Tales from Beyond the Veil book 1). I have been talking about the folklore and history that can be found in the story. To check out the previous 5 posts, check out the Archive on the right panel of the page. XD

So let's get into it. last week, I went through chapters 16-19. Today I will be going over 20-23.

Chapter 20 begins with a new day. The evening before, Edward V told many stories of his past to Hollyhocks and her friends (chapters 16-19). Chapter 20 is pretty uneventful, as the characters pass the time, while waiting for Lord Anthony Woodville, 2nd Earl Rivers, to return from Northampton, which we learned about in chapter 15.

Chapter 21 sees Edward, Hollyhocks, JuJuBee, and Shaylee sitting outside together and eating snacks, when they hear carriages beginning to approach. Edward is dismayed to find only his uncle, Richard, Duke of Gloucester present. He asks where Lord Rivers is, and the chapter ends on a cliff hanger as Richard tells Edward that Lord Rivers has been arrested.

Historically, it was April 9th, 1483, that Edward IV died. 5 days later, on April 14th, his son received news of his death, making him Edward V. On April 24th, Edward V, Lord Rivers, and 2,000 men began to journey from Ludlow to London where the young king was to be crowned. On April 23rd, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, had left Yorkshire to ride to London as well, as he was now the Lord Protector of the Realm (and would remain so until the young king's coronation). Richard rode to Northampton, where he expected to meet the others, and they would ride together the rest of the way to London. However, Edward V and his escort had already travelled past Northampton, and were stopped for the night in Stony Stratford.
Lord Rivers traveled back to Northampton to meet Richard, and ride with him to Stony Stratford.

On the night of the 29th of April, 1483, Richard, Lord Rivers, and Lord Grey (Edward V's half-brother) ate a fine meal together. It is not clear whether this took place in Stony Stratford, or somewhere else. The next morning, Lord Rivers, Lord Grey, and another man, Lord Thomas Vaughan (the king's chamberlain), were arrested under the orders of Richard, Duke of Gloucester. It is reported that the young king protested, but since he was not crowned yet, he had little authority over his Protecter.

For the sake of the story flow within my book, I omitted the dinner that took place between the 3 men, and instead had Lord Rivers arrested before he and Richard reached Stony Stratford. This allowed the trip from Ludlow to London to take only the 2 days that I estimated it would have back then.

Chapter 22 shows Edward's attempt to get his cruel uncle to release his men, but to no avail. Richard then dismisses Edward's escort of 2,000 men. The chapter ends with him reluctantly getting into the carriage so that Richard could take him to London.

Chapter 23 is brief, as Hollyhocks and her friends sit silently inside the carriage with Edward and accompany him to London. Shaylee hints that maybe it would be best if they return home, but Hollyhocks feels that she must stay because Edward needs them, and friends stick together. They all agree to stay with him, with Hollyhocks stating "We will not abandon you" just before Edward steps out of the carriage upon their arrival in London at last.

Thank you so much for reading!!

Yours truly,
Me

Additional:

Friday, October 9, 2020

Lord Rivers and Edward V.

Looking into the world from Beyond the Veil and the folklore that surrounds it.
Part 5.
 To my dearest friends and followers,

For the past 4 weeks, I have been analyzing my novel The Story of Hollyhocks (Tales from Beyond the Veil book 1) and discussing the folklore and history behind the story. If you would like to read the previous posts in this series, you can do so my clicking the Archive in the right panel of the blog, and checking out the 4 latest posts.

The entire book is told by the narrator who follows the protagonist, Hollyhocks, throughout the story. However, today I will be discussing chapters 16-19, wherein the narrator switches the focus to Edward and where he came from.

Chapter 16 begins as a flashback in time. It is unclear when exactly this chapter is set or how old Edward V would have been - I felt it unnecessary to set an exact date and left it up to the reader to decide. We see the routine that Edward went through on an almost daily basis, from being woken up early, dressed, attending prayer services and mass. He is taught history and geography. He is taught different languages, including French and Latin. He is also taught music and proper etiquette, amongst many other things listed in the book. We are told that he has a tutor and that some of his lessons are taught to him by his uncle, Lord Anthony Woodville, 2nd Earl Rivers, or Lord Rivers for short.
Historically, Edward was 1 when he became the Prince of Wales, and took residence in Ludlow. When Edward was only 3 years old, his father, Edward IV, placed him under the care and supervision of Lord Rivers. Edward IV wrote a lengthy letter, explaining in detail how Lord Rivers was to raise his son. The events I describe in the first part of chapter 16 are as close to the letter as I could get, since I have read only snippets of it (I am unaware if the actual letter has survived to the present day, but I haven't been able to find it online). Based on this letter and the fact that Lord Rivers was to care for his nephew, Edward V, I believe that the two had a close father/son relationship, which is why I painted it as such in my own book.

Chapter 17 sees Edward venturing into the Forest that Hollyhocks resides in, though the two don't know each other at this point in time. The reader is aware of the creatures in the forest and what their intentions are, though young Edward is oblivious to them. At one point, he sees a fairy ring (a patch of mushrooms grown in a circular shape - a portal created by the pixies to trap humans) and nearly steps into it, but is pulled away at the last moment. 
Edward realizes his rescuer is a large white unicorn. The dryads whisper the name of the unicorn to Edward - Anlon. Edward hears the name and then says, "Quite a befitting name, I should think." At the time that I wrote this line, I was not aware that the name Anlon had any meaning. It was simply a name that my mother and I came up with. To me, having Edward state this line was supposed to be humorous. Edward, like me, also had no idea what the name meant, but thought it was a befitting name for the unicorn, much in the way that I had. To my surprise, I recently found out the name Anlon is an Irish name and means "Great Champion". WHUT?! That's cool. Though I decided to keep the meaning out of the story, it's kind of cool for anyone who does decide to search the name. It also makes sense, as the character Anlon sort of is a champion, as he succeeded the Great White Stag, which will be written about in the 2nd book in the series.

In chapter 19, Edward V learns of his father's death, making him the new king at just 12 years old.
History tells us that Edward received this news 5 days after his father died. His mother was in London with his father at the time of his death. In my story, I placed Edward's mother, Queen Elizabeth Woodville, in Ludlow as well, along with Edward's siblings. The purpose of changing these facts was, I simply required them to all be in Ludlow for the sake of the flow of the story. These reasons will become clear to the reader of the book.
The end of the chapter sees Edward calling out to see a fairy, which ties us back in to chapters 12 and 13, before continuing on with chapter 20.

Thank you so much for reading!!

Yours truly,
Me

Additional:
To learn more about the world beyond the veil, check out the book,
The Story of Hollyhocks (Tales from Beyond the Veil book 1). Now available in paperback and as an ebook (free with KindleUnlimited)!!

Friday, October 2, 2020

Historical Accuracies.

Looking into the world from Beyond the Veil and the folklore that surrounds it.
Part 4. 
To my dearest friends and followers,

Today I will be analyzing my book, The Story of Hollyhocks (Tales from Beyond the Veil book 1) to talk about the folklore and history that is woven into the story. You can click on the Archive on the right panel of this blog to check out the previous 3 posts in this series.
Today I will be going over chapters 13-15. The focus shifts drastically from the fairy world to the friendship that forms between Hollyhocks and Edward. In these chapters, I believe that the reader really begins to feel what the story will be about.

The 13th chapter of the book tells of the start of Hollyhocks's adventures as she meets the young Edward V. To learn more about who he was, check out my blog post, The History of Edward V.
In the story, Edward's father, Edward IV, has passed away just two weeks prior to Hollyhocks arriving in Ludlow. Hollyhocks and Edward exchange few words, before the young king is escorted to his carriage in which he will make the long journey from Ludlow to London, where he will be coronated. The reader is briefly introduced to several other historical figures, including Lord Anthony Rivers, Lord Richard Grey, and Lord Thomas Vaughan.

During the carriage ride, the reader learns about Edward, little by little, through the dialogue between him and the eager Hollyhocks.
Many of the events in chapters 13, 14, and 15, were heavily inspired by the actual events surrounding Edward V during the time. Some of them are stretched or slightly changed for the flow of the story, but I did try my best to tie real events into a fantasy book, in which the young king meets and befriends fairies.

So which events are based on real events and which ones are strictly for the story?
In chapter 13, Edward is preparing to leave for London. This is a real event. We know that he was in Ludlow at the time of his father's death. Two weeks later, he is on his way to London, escorted by 2,000 men (a number which I have found to be accurate). I estimated that it would take two days to travel from Ludlow to London, but I don't actually know if that is true or not. Smaller things, like who rode in the carriage with Edward, were there other carriages, what did the carriage look like, etc., I completely made up for the story.

In chapter 14, Edward talks about having six siblings, not including half-siblings, which is also true.
One thing I did, and some people might hate me for, is I painted Richard III as the villain. Edward is uncomfortable at the mention of his name, and admits that he has never been fond of that particular uncle. Edward then describes him as having a "cold look". Different theories and historians seem to have different opinions about the popular beliefs surrounding Richard III and Edward V, but I guess I took this belief and used it as inspiration for my own story.

In the 15th chapter, the company has decided to spend the night in Stony Stratford, which is historically accurate. Edward fondly tells Hollyhocks some tales from his past, stating that his other uncle, Lord Rivers, is one of the best men he has known, and that he has been a father to him. I know little about the actual relationship between Lord Rivers and his nephew. It seems to me that they must have been close, based on what we know of history. Edward V was placed under the supervision of Lord Rivers, brother to Edward's mother, Queen Elizabeth Woodville. I wanted to paint him as the father figure, since Edward's own father was out of the picture for the most part.

The end of chapter 15 sees Hollyhocks asking more about Edward's life story, which he begins to tell in chapters 16-19. I will talk about those next week!!

Thank you so much for reading!!

Yours truly,
Me

Additional:
My ebook is available now!! Free with Kindle Unlimited!!

Friday, September 18, 2020

The Tree of Life.

Looking into the world from Beyond the Veil and the folklore that surrounds it.
Part 3. 
To my dearest friends and followers,

For the last two weeks I have been analyzing my book The Story of Hollyhocks (Tales from Beyond the Veil book 1), and I will continue to do so in the upcoming weeks. You can check out my previous posts here: Part 1 and Part 2.

In chapter 9, Hollyhocks asks her father about the time he left the Forest, before he had married her mother. He proceeds to tell of his adventures, and then tells her something much more valuable to both her and the reader - the history of their world (a time known as the Ancient World). We are told of a time before the veil existed - a time when the humans and fairies lived in harmony together (something which is forbidden in the present day). We learn of the events that changed that, and that "Dain's eldest son died". Dain was one of three sprites who made up the Council of the Ancient World. Though it seems like Hollyhocks's father is telling a string of insignificant, though interesting tales, this section is filled with details of great importance for the book and for the rest of the series (books 2, 3, and 4 yet to come!). For that reason, chapter 9 is, in my opinion, one of the most important chapters in the book.

The 10th chapter of the book describes more history of the actual veil as told by Shaylee (Hollyhocks's friend), rather than the history of the Forest as a whole, like Hollyhocks's father explained. We learn that the source of the veil comes from "the heart of the Forest". We have already learned in previous chapters that in the heart of the Forest is a tree, more grand than all the other trees in the Forest - an oak tree.
Let's take a look at some Celtic lore for the sake of understanding the story. The Celtic word duir means oak. Several resources have informed me that it can also mean oak knowledge. I have heard duir translated into the English language as door. The Celts believed that the oak tree was sacred and was actually the living soul of a man who had "died". Therefore, the tree symbolized wisdom and strength. It became known as the "tree of life" or "door to another world", as it was thought that the tree was a gateway to the spirit world. The Tree of Life image we know today shows the connection between heaven and earth, and representing balance and harmony in all living things.
I took some of the celtic ideas for my own story. The oak tree is the heart of the Forest and is the source of the veil - the thing which keeps the worlds of fairies and men separated. In my mind, the door to another world is literally the door to the fairy realm, rather than the spirit world. More about the actual creation of the veil will be told in book 2.

Later, Hollyhocks learns that she can actually move herself from one side of the veil to the other. This act allows her to be seen by humans - something she so wishes to be able to do. Her long time dream comes true and she and her friends spend some time in the company of a woman and her newborn baby.

The 12th chapter of the book is when things really begin to pick up. Hollyhocks is able to hear a human calling out to see a fairy - a human that is so far away, they could not possibly be heard. Hollyhocks does hear though, against all odds, because she had a desire to hear humans more than any of the other fairies. As she thinks about leaving home to answer the call, she is bid farewell by the Forest itself, the dryads and the unicorn, along with the very windows she passes, and a creaking sign, as if "the world knew they were leaving". Thus begins her adventure, taking her away from her home, and into the darkness of the world.

Thank you so much for reading!!

Yours truly,
Me

Additional:
My ebook is available now for pre-orders!!

Friday, September 11, 2020

The Cunning Woman & Agnes Waterhouse.

Looking into the world from Beyond the Veil and the folklore that surrounds it.
Part 2. 

To my dearest friends and followers,

If you missed last week's post, I highly recommend you check it out here. For the next 8 weeks, I will be analyzing certain aspects of my book, The Story of Hollyhocks (Tales from Beyond the Veil book 1), and talking about some of the folklore that surrounds it.

I'd like to begin where I left off last week. I mentioned having talked with people who were a great help to me when writing the 4th chapter of the book, in which I write about the first interactions between Hollyhocks and Edith, fairy and human. I would like to point out that I was told a human had to be "good" in order for a fairy to visit them. In the 5th chapter, I interpreted that three different ways, showing kindness towards others, caring for the earth, and having a "pure heart", which is shown by how easily she is trusted by animals.

The 7th chapter is where the reader is first introduced to Anlon, the mysterious Unicorn who resides in the Forest. Little is known about him or his Wild Herd, but he appears throughout the story as a protecter/guardian. He is extremely old, and noted for having eyes that did not seem to be the eyes of a mere animal, but "more like that of a man or some ancient creature, for his eyes were filled with age and wisdom and understanding".
Also, there is a cold wind that follows Hollyhocks around. It is ominous and the source is unknown, as the wind does not seem to have an affect on the leaves as it blows through them. This again is something that was very intentional on my part. It might go unnoticed by most readers, but it does serve the purpose of symbolizing the darkness that always loomed in the world, and even more recent, in the Forest. More of the history of the Forest is talked about later on in the book.

In chapter 8, we see a woman named Agnes who is a witch of sorts (though she prefers to be called a "cunning woman"). I named this character after Agnes Waterhouse (1503-1566). Historically, she was the first woman in England accused of and executed for witchcraft. Most of the women who were in such positions were not actually witches, so it is unknown if the real Agnes was one of these women or not. Either way, my book is set in 1483, so the character I wrote about would have likely been deceased by the time the real Agnes was sentenced to death.
The reader gets to see the dwelling place of the character Agnes, and it is noted that there is a single black crow on the roof of her house. Often, crows were thought to be magical "spirit animals". However, a single crow was often seen as a bad omen. It meant death was sure to come. The symbolism behind the crow in the story is meant to foreshadow events later on.

Later in the chapter, we see an Angel Coin, depicting the Archangel, Michael, and the Serpent, or "dragon", as the devil is often depicted as a serpent in the Bible. The coin which I wrote about is a real coin. They were made by Edward IV and were, for some reason unbeknownst to me, believed to have magical properties. As Agnes states in the story, it represents the good and evil in the world, and also foreshadows the journey Hollyhocks is about to take.

Thank you so much for reading!!

Yours truly,
Me

Additional:
Pre-order the ebook!!

Thursday, September 3, 2020

From Beyond the Veil.

Looking into the world from Beyond the Veil and the folklore that surrounds it.

To my dearest friends and followers,

Over the course of the next 10 weeks, I will be taking a deeper look into my novel The Story of Hollyhocks (Tales from Beyond the Veil book 1) and analyzing certain aspects of the world I created and the folklore that inspired it, along with how sections in the first half of the book relate to the second half. I will try my hardest to not give away major spoilers for those of you who have not read it, but focus on smaller sections rather than the broad picture.

To start things off, I want to talk about the opening chapter of the book. It really is for the purpose of letting the reader know what kind of setting the story will take place in, while also introducing a wide cast of different fairy creatures, and introducing the main character of the book.
Within the first 3 paragraphs, the reader is given a hint of the year. Since the story later revolves around the young Edward V, it can be assumed that the child being born who is "destined to one day reign over Great Britain" is none other than Edward (who was born in 1470). Most readers wouldn't catch this, but I thought it was a fun hint for myself and those who also enjoy historical England.

Later on in the chapter, the reader is shown the night sky, with the moon and stars being personified. One star is too excited and accidentally shoots himself from the sky, falling to the earth, and his light going out. We are told, that "some didn't care, some simply didn't notice, and some will miss him." Though I was unaware of this at the time that I wrote it, it was pointed out to me that this foreshadows an event that will happen later in the story.

In the next several paragraphs, the narrator speaks of the Forest as a living thing, and then proceeds to tell the reader about the different fairy creatures who live there, including dryads, hobgoblins, pixies, and sprites. Each fairy creature in my book was carefully written about in a way that I hope reflects the old folktales and lore about them, instead of the poorly misinterpreted fairies so commonly seen in pop culture today. 
To read more about the fairies, I have written several articles about them and provided the links at the bottom of this post.

In the 4th chapter, Hollyhocks and her friends visit a human who "summoned" them. This section was so much fun for me to write. I actually spoke with several people who truly believe in the existence of fairies, as part of my research. I wanted to know how they knew if they had seen one, what it felt like, and how they "summoned" one in the first place. The series title of my book, Tales from Beyond the Veil actually came from part of this research. The phrase "Beyond the Veil" comes from a chant, saying something along the lines of, "Beyond the veil, please let me see." It was allowing a human to see into the fairy world, but my book is more so allowing a fairy to see into the human world.
The character in the book who wished to see the fairies is noted as having lavender flowers outside her home, and baking a lemon tart. I was told that lavender and sweets (such as cream or lemon treats) were common in pagan beliefs for summoning fairies.

Thank you so much for reading!!

Yours truly,
Me

Additional:

Pre-order my novel as an ebook on Amazon!!

Friday, August 28, 2020

Join Me In Writing!

If you want to be a writer, write.
~Epictetus

To my dearest friends and followers,

I wrote you a few weeks ago that I had been working on "tidying up" my possessions. While I have slowed down the process drastically, I did work on it a little bit this week, and in doing so I decided I wanted to move my "creative space".

As I mentioned last week, I am preparing for NaNoWriMo. To better set myself up for "success", I think it would be extremely beneficial for both me and my husband if I could have a work space away from the main room of the house. So that's what I did. I don't have pictures to show because the space isn't quite what I want, but I'm really happy with how it turned out so far!! It feels like my space in my own little quiet corner of the house. I feel less distracted and more ready to focus on my project.

I have moved a few times and each time, I've joined different "regions" on NaNoWriMo to find other writers/participants in my area. This year is different though. While I have joined my region "San Diego", there are no other members (which blows my mind!)!! If anyone reading this is in the area (those of you who may be doing NaNoWriMo), please join the region!! Or add me as a writing buddy (you'll find me as Vanessa Paige Israel).

Beginning on September 9th, I will be participating in the NaNo Prep 101 Workshop. It is a 6 week course that helps you to plan out your novel, organize your life for writing, and manage your time. I have a lot already planned for my novel, but I am going to do the course anyway and learn/plan everything that I can. It's free to join and pretty self-paced with a convenient easy-to-use handbook that can be downloaded as a PDF.

I have also purchased the book On Writing: a memoir of the craft by Stephen King. It is not a required read by any means, but I have heard on several different accounts that it is an excellent book not only for writers, but also for those preparing to do NaNoWriMo.
Honestly, if anyone reading has ever wanted to be a writer, NaNoWriMo is a great way to get started and it will instantly provide you with a writing community to join and be a part of.

I feel like I'm going have a busy schedule, with planning my novel, taking the NaNo Prep course, reading Rick Riordan's new novels, posting to my blog every week, and doing a weekly book reading of my book with a few ladies I know. The next few months are going to be exciting indeed. Please leave a comment or let me know if you are thinking of doing NaNoWriMo this year. I would love to get to know you as another writer!!

Yours truly,
Me

Additional:

Friday, August 21, 2020

Preparing For NaNo.

To my dearest friends and followers,

At the beginning of this year, I set myself a reading challenge on Goodreads to read 20 books. On July 13th, I reached that goal, and have since read 10 more books!! I've read a wide variety of books out there, from classics like Sherlock Holmes, to modern Japanese Manga, to the Rick Riordan novels!!
A couple months ago I was scrolling on Facebook and saw an add promoting Rick Riordan's new novel. It isn't available until October 6th, but I immediately pre-ordered myself a copy. I couldn't help but think, I hope someone is this excited about my books some day. XD
I have been so careful when planning what to read next. I want to make sure I have read Riordan's previous 4 books (The Trials of Apollo series), so that I am ready when I receive the 5th book. I estimate it would take me 10 days (at most) to read each book. Therefore, I don't want to begin reading them too soon, finish them, and be waiting in suspense until I have the final book. Basically, I plan to begin reading book 1 on September 1st.

In the meantime, I decided to take these extra days to focus some time on my own book, the sequel I'm working on to The Story of Hollyhocks. Click here if you'd like to check out last week's post, where I talked about starting this project. I have been writing so many notes, asking myself questions about the direction the story will take and about the characters. How old is Jack? What does he like to do? Who are his friends? How is he different, as he states in the prologue? What is the purpose of the prologue?

It's even important for me to know the other characters, not just the protagonist. What will their names be? How do I match the names from the first book? What part does that character play in the story and is his or her role necessary?

I need to know what this world is like too, and how does it differ from the world I already built for Hollyhocks, since it is supposed to have taken place BEFORE Hollyhock's story.

I've also had to ask myself, do I want this story told in the same narrative (the old fairy tale-esque style, like someone is sitting down, telling the reader the story, as opposed to the reader simply reading the story on their own)? How do I accomplish that?

For anyone who has read and enjoyed the first book, I am happy to say that several of the characters will appear in Jack's story. It makes me so happy to revisit this world and see familiar people!! I have written the prologue, the 1st chapter, and part of the 2nd chapter. I am still taking it slow, but I want to write enough (probably no more than the first 3 or 4 chapters) for when NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) comes around in November!!
At that point, I hope to have found my groove and stick with it, maybe not completing my novel, but getting a lot written!! Last time I participated in NaNo (in 2016), I finished the month with a total of just over 26,000 words. That was ok with me. The plan was not to write 50k words (which NaNo pushes for), but to write something everyday. I plan to do the same this year. I'm really looking forward to it!!

Yours truly,
Me

Additional:

Friday, August 14, 2020

Jack's Story.

To my dearest friends and followers,

If you happened to buy my novel, and if you happened to actually read it (I know I can't be the only one who buys books with every intention to read it, but sometimes...life happens...), and if you just so happened to enjoy the story and the characters, then I have some news for you that will excite you!!
I have begun writing book two!!

So, I completed writing the first draft of The Story of Hollyhocks in January of 2017. I immediately began planning for another book set in the same universe. I got a journal and wrote so many notes and ideas for what this next book could be, but I never really got started with writing it.

In just the last few months I began thinking about the story again and writing more notes, trying to make sense of what I had written previously, and figuring out the direction this next book would take. It was then that I made up my mind: The Story of Hollyhocks would be the first book in a 4 book series.

I'm not quite ready to announce the working titles, but I am so excited!! I have a rough idea of what each book will be about, but I'll work on them more when I get to them. The reason I am writing the second book at all is because one of the characters from the first book demanded to have his story told. I knew the only way to properly do that was to give him his own book.

He really is one of my favorite characters in the book, though he does appear in only a few chapters. I'll try not to give too much away for those of you who have not read the story, but his name is Jack. His entire being is a mystery. Little is known about his past life, how he came to be what he is now, and how that affected the current state of things in his homeland.

The second book will take the reader back in time (even farther back than the first book) to learn the history of the land and the creatures there, along with where Jack came from. I'm so excited to begin another journey and to get to see familiar characters again!! I'm probably going to take the writing pretty slowly for the time being. I'll tell you more in the upcoming weeks, but I am seriously considering doing NaNoWriMo again this year (I participated in 2016) to work on this project.

Also, I'm thinking that I would like to begin blogging about the folklore throughout The Story of Hollyhocks, so keep a lookout for that if that's something you're interested in reading. XD

Yours truly,
Me

Additional:

Friday, August 7, 2020

Remember.

To my dearest friends and followers,

Have you ever wanted something so bad, that you maybe didn't stop to even consider if it was right? Have you ever loved someone with all that you are, that you thought surely this is what we were meant for? Or have you ever missed someone so much, that it physically hurt? I ask you, have you ever looked back on your past, on all of the good, the bad, the times that made you happy, the times that you felt like your world was falling apart, the times you were numb from all of the hurt and pain you'd endured, the times you remember most, the times you cherish, and thought, I am grateful for all of these times?

Remember the time when you were a child. It was a good time. You were happy. Mom and Dad were happy. The world was good and everything in it, beautiful. You didn't always get your way, but you could live with that. You knew everything was fine, and when it wasn't, Mom would make it fine.

Remember that time you were out with your friends. You did something you probably shouldn't have. You knew it wasn't the best idea, but you did it anyway. You even thought, this isn't bad, is it? Of course, if you were questioning it, it probably was bad. You were old enough to know right from wrong. But you didn't always make good choices. You weren't a bad person though, you were just learning by making your own mistakes.

Remember that time when you left home without saying goodbye. You hadn't meant to be gone for more than a few nights at the most, but you were away for a long time. You didn't intend any harm, but you wanted to get out and see the world. You were excited and you knew you wanted to experience it all on your own.

Remember the time when you met him. He was beautiful - not in the way that a woman is beautiful, but in his own way. He was beautiful for the way he thought. He was the son of someone important, but that's not why he was important to you. He believed in you and knew he was better for having met you.

Remember the time when all of that ended. Maybe you even knew it was coming, but it didn't make it hurt any less. It was real, and the pain was real too.

Remember the time when you blamed them. You said the world was evil and you truly believed it. You didn't want to hurt anymore, but how did you make the pain go away? You knew they wanted to be there for you, but how did you let them in?

Remember the time you overcame your darkness. You didn't do it alone, because you weren't meant to, but you were in a better place all the same. And maybe the pain didn't completely go away. And maybe that's a good thing. Maybe it's all of your feelings, not just your good ones, that makes you you.


Yours truly,
Me

Friday, July 31, 2020

A Promise to Keep.

I promise, one day I'll have more to show than a few quotes from an unfinished book.

To my dearest friends and followers,

I want to thank each and every one of you that has been supporting me. If you follow me on Twitter and build up the Writing Community, thank you. If you like my Facebook page, thank you, because I know I don't post there as often as I should. If you followed me on Google Plus way back when, thank you. If you found me through NaNoWriMo or Rowanvale, thank you, because those were both very good and memorable times for me. If you follow my author profile on Goodreads, thank you. If you've purchased my book, thank you. If I know you in person and you come here to see what I've written every week, that truly means a lot to me, so thank you. And if you're new here, welcome.

I am sure I will never know most of you, but you're support to me means a lot. I'd rather have a small community of people who are close than a large following with little interaction. My views are steady for the most part, so I know some of you are faithful readers. <3

When I published my novel two months ago, I felt so many things. I felt happy, excited, nervous, relieved, amongst other things. I was recently reminded of something else though. While I was looking through past messages to people, I saw that I had made a promise to so many of them. That promise was this: I promise, one day I'll have more to show than a few quotes from an unfinished book. I feel like I have kept that promise, now that my novel is published and available to you guys. And that makes me feel happy in a peaceful sort of way, like I did good by you.

However, I have failed to deliver when it comes to those of us who prefer ebooks over paperbacks. I intentionally waited on that, as I wanted to release the ebook once the physical copy had been available for a few months. I am happy to announce that The Story of Hollyhocks will be available for purchase as an ebook on October 1st, 2020, just after the autumnal equinox and on the day of the Harvest Moon!!

I'm still working on a few kinks, and trying to figure out how publisher compensation works with an ebook, using an ISBN, and formatting. I felt achieved when I had completed all of this for my paperback edition, but it's all so different with an ebook, it's frustrating!!

Oh well, I'll pull through because I know it will be rewarding in the end. XD

Yours truly,
Me

Additional:

Friday, July 24, 2020

Multiple Projects.

To my dearest friends and followers,

This week (and the week prior) has been really fun for me, due to my working on several projects.
I really enjoy designing things on and making things on my computer. I don't know if I'm "good" at it or not, but I like what I make. XD
I actually thought about getting my degree in Graphic Design back when I was in college. Instead, I ended up getting a BA in English (not to teach, as many assumed, but for the literature/writing aspect of it to help me in pursuing my own writing career).
Anyhow, to get back on track, I have been thinking about creating a journal for myself to write down memories. If you read my post last week, you'll know I have been going through my belongings and getting rid of things, or "tidying up" as Marie Kondo puts it. She suggests writing down memories associated with sentimental items, since it is the memory we cherish and not the item. Once the memory is written down, it is easier to part with said item.
I've been working on creating a cover for my journal, using the Alice watercolor painting I made a few months ago.

Another thing I made is a bridal shower invitation for my sister. I offered to be in charge of that, since I really enjoy making things of that sort. She accepted my offer, and seemed pleased with the finished result. XD I'm looking forward to addressing them. I haven't decided if I'll print the addresses on the envelope, or if I'll hand write them in calligraphy. Decisions, decisions.

I also made a birthday card for a friend of mine. It had a birthday cake on it, each layer painted in watercolor, cut out, and glued together. I then gave it dimension, using adhesive foam dots (or squares in my case).

The thing that I am most excited to share with you though is the bookmarks I made!!
When my book was first published (May 29th, 2020), I wanted to hit up all of the local bookstores in my area and see if they'd carry my book. Due to the pandemic, that didn't happen. As more things opened up though, I realized, I should have made bookmarks to go with my book!! it would be the perfect thing to leave at all of the bookstores, right?

So, using Canva and BeFunky, I created really cute bookmarks that match my book!! I haven't decided if I'll offer them from my blog to people who may want them, but I'm considering the possibility of it, would I charge people (to cover the cost of shipping, etc.). I'm not sure yet, but I'll keep you guys posted if any decisions are made. XD

Thank you for reading!!

Yours truly,
Me

Additional:
A tale of friendship, love, loss, and coming of age.