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Monday, April 20, 2015

Top Ten Writing Tips

Hey, everyone!!

Something a little different this week. I guest posted on my good friend's blog and I thought I would share the link with you! :D

Here I posted my Top Ten Writing Tips. If you are a writer, I would encourage you to check it out, or if you know a writer, please pass the link onto them.

To read the post, go here. Thanks so much for checking it out!!!

If you haven't filled out the Reader Survey please take the time to do so.  I can still use your feedback. And, I shall see you all on Friday, so be sure to get your question in by then.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Untitled Cinderella Retelling Second Chapter

To everyone who enjoyed the first chapter of my Cinderella retelling last week: You are all in luck!!

I was very sick the end of last week and this weekend, so I didn’t have time to work on a blog post (hence the absence of a Candor Fridays post. There were no questions and I figured not posting anything was better than attempting to write something in my fevered state. Though, that might have been fun, actually. You could all see how crazy I am when I’m completely out of it…)

Anyway! Since you all seemed to enjoy it so much, I thought I would post chapter two for you.

I will be posting on Friday, so be sure and get any question you might have to me! And, if you haven’t taken the time to fill out the reader survey, please do. I’ve gotten a lot of helpful feedback, but if I haven’t heard from you yet, I would like to know what you think!!

And, without further ado, the second chapter:

Chapter Two

Life at Whitehall grew more and more like a fairy tale every day. Ella could scarce believe her good fortune, that her mother had not only found someone so right, but one so good and kind, to accept her into his family, as his daughter.

Day passed into weeks and then months and she began to accept that this was not a dream, but truly her life.

Several months after she had arrived, Ella found herself quite alone and in need of something to do. She had on a gown of light green linen and felt very much like a princess. And so she determined she must do what she felt any good princess would. She would go exploring.

There were many parts of the grounds that she had not seen and she had never been told not to go. So, why should she not explore them?

Her first expedition she decided would be to discover what was behind the gate at the back of the garden. She had seen a few of the servants coming and going from there, but she had never actually seen what was beyond.

And as soon as the idea entered her mind, she knew she must do it or else go mad with the wondering. So, making sure her boots were laced tight and firm, and set out with determination to make her discovery.

She found, to her dismay, however, that the gate was locked. With a frown, she stood before it, hands on her hips, wondering what she was to do. Climbing the wall would not only prove most difficult, it would no doubt be deemed quite unladylike by her mother.

But, she knew not where to find the key. So, how was she to get to the other side? For, now that she had begun to wonder, she knew she must discover the gate’s secret before the day was out.

Her mother and Lord Bannering had gone out on business and Henry had locked himself in the library, a place Ella had learned never to disturb him. Edward too, was busy doing she knew not what. But he had apologized at breakfast and told her he must leave her to her own devices for at least part of the day.

She stood there a good many minutes, wondering what was to be done, when up came behind her one of the kitchen girls, a basket tucked under her arm.

Ella did not hear the girl until she was right behind her and the presence startled her. She jumped, letting out a cry of surprise as she whirled around.

The girl dropped a curtsy, letting out a little squeak herself. “Oh, miss, I am sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you. Please, I do beg your pardon.”

Ella too, ducked her head, looking down at her feet and feeling most embarrassed for being discovered in a place she was not entirely certain she was allowed to be.

“I- I wasn’t doing anything wrong,” she hurried to offer as an explanation, though the girl had not indicated any need for one. “I just wanted to know what was on the other side of the gate.”

“Oh, that’s just the kitchen garden, miss,” the girl replied, looking up in surprise, then blushing a deep red and looking back at her feet as she offered an unnecessary curtsy. “And, there’s nothing wrong with you being here, miss. Not that I know of anyway.” She bit her lip and snuck a peek up at the girl. “I’ve got a key, if you want to take a peek in. I’m to be collecting the vegetables for supper, you see.”

“Oh, do you think it would be all right if I looked in?” Ella cried, so overcome with delight she forgot about being ladylike and holding back her excitement.

“I don’t see why not,” the girl replied as she pulled the key from her apron pocket. “Not that it’s much, really. Just vegetables and herbs and the like.”

She unlocked the gate and swung it open. Ella bounce up behind her, standing up on her tiptoes in an attempt to see over the girl’s shoulder. But, of course, it was to no avail as the girl was much taller than she, as she had at least eight or nine years on her.

But then, the girl stepped into the garden and Ella could see it all. The girl had not lied, it was truly just herbs and vegetables, but then, Ella had never seen herbs and vegetables before. And so she stood before the gate, her eyes wide and her mouth open.

Her wonder lasted not long, however, as she realized the girl had left the gate open and she was quite free to enter and explore, if she so desired. Which, she very much did.

She skipped down the rows of vegetables to where the girl was kneeling, pulling orange roots from the ground.

“Are those carrots?” she breathed. “I’ve never seen carrots in a garden before. They’re so beautiful.”

The girl laughed, getting caught up in Ella’s excitement and forgetting this was her master’s daughter and she had no place laughing with her. “I’ve never heard that said about carrot’s before. Here, do you want to pull them up?”

“Oh, may I?” Ella breathed, kneeling beside the girl. She was only vaguely aware of the cold, damp earth pressing against her knees through the fabric of her dress. The girl put her hand over Ella’s to help her and together they pulled a carrot from the ground.

Ella clapped her hands in delight. “May I pull another one?”

The girl laughed. “Just one more and then it’s onto beans.”

“I’m Ella, by the way,” Ella told the girl as she plucked the last carrot from the earth. “What’s your name?”

“Rosemary,” the girl told her. “My name’s Rosemary.”

They finished shaking the loose dirt from the vegetables they had picked and moved onto the bushed of beans.

“How many of these should we pick?” Ella asked.

“We want the basket about so full,” Rosemary replied, demonstrating with her hands about how many they wanted.

And, together the two went to work, both forgetting their stations and the fact that they had no business spending time with the other. The time passed with Ella asked all manner of questions about plants and vegetables and what exactly one did with them all and Rosemary trying her best to answer, even though she was only a lowly kitchen girl and nowhere near the knowledge of such things the cook or the gardeners would.

When all the vegetables were picked, Ella took one handle of the basket and Rosemary the other as they walked it back to the house.

In her enthusiasm, Ella had somehow managed to get dirt smudged on her dress, face, hands, and hair. So, when they returned to the kitchen, rather than either of them being scolded for associating outside their station, the cook merely took in the young girl, frowned, and muttered something about them always hiring help and not telling her about it.

Then she pointed to the ashbin and said, “Take that ‘round back and then see it’s washed out proper.”

“I don’t know how to wash it,” Ella said, biting her lip. She would tell the woman she wasn’t a maid, except, she had nothing better to do, and she was having so much fun. “Might Rosemary help me?”

The woman sighed, muttering again, about how useless the help they hired her was. Then she gave her permission and Ella and Rosemary carted the ashbin outside.

“You really oughtn’t to be doing this,” Rosemary told her, remembering just then who exactly this girl was. “You could get into trouble.” She didn’t mention how much trouble she could get into got helping her.

Ella adjusted her grip on the ashbin handle. “I don’t mind. There’s no one else to talk to and I like you. You’re awfully nice for a servant. Most of them won’t even say hello back when I try saying it to them.”

They reached the place where the ashbin was to be dumped and in her enthusiasm to help, Ella hefted the bin and started the dump it straightaway while Rosemary cried, “Not like that!”

But, alas, it was too late. The ashes puffed up in a cloud and both girls were engulfed in its embrace.

“Oh, I am sorry,” Ella cried through a coughing fit as her lungs tried in vain to find a full breath of fresh air. The ash cloud began to settle and both girls looked at each other. Ella started giggling first. “You’re covered in cinders.”

Rosemary too began to laugh. “So are you. You look a sight.”

“Ella?” The call came. The girls jumped at Edward’s voice.

“Oh, I have to go.” Ella grew panicked. “If they see me like this, I shall get into awful trouble.” She started to dart off but then stopped and turned back to Rosemary. “But, don’t worry, no matter how they press, I shan’t reveal the name of my accomplice. Thank you, for the wonderful morning.”

And then off she flitted, making sure to avoid the path Edward’s voice seemed to come from. Unfortunately, she did not realize Henry too was in the garden.

Not until she ran right into him. Quite literally.

“Whoa there,” he said, grabbing her shoulder as she tried to run away. “Ed, she’s over here. I found her.” He looked down at her, surveying her with a curious expression. “If Lady Bannermen were to see you like this, she would be sure to have a fit.

Ella felt her face grow warm under the layers of dirt and ash and she wished very much to be anywhere but there at that moment.

But, then Henry offered her a grin and said, “Which is why you should be grateful she isn’t here at present.”

Edward came up just then, took in the sight of her and laughed. “Do I want to ask what you’ve been up to today?”

She shook her head. “I shan’t tell you, even if you ask. I’ll not let you get my friend in trouble.”

It was only then that she realized they never would have known she was not alone if she had not told them. She drew in her lips, her eyes wide.

Edward continued to chuckle. “Then we shan’t ask, as it appears it would do no good. But, we must do something about your state before your mother returns.”

“I think we shall have to start calling you Ella of the Cinders,” Henry teased as they led her off toward the house.

“Or, Ella, the Cinder Girl,” Edward offered.

Ella bit her lip and ventured, “Cinder Ella?”

Both boys laughed at that.

“That’s perfect,” Henry said. “I think I like that one the best.”

“It’s settled then,” Edward said with an air of authority. “From hence forth, you shall be our Cinder Ella.”

Ella smiled at that, feeling warm all the way from, the tips of her ears and down to her toes. It wasn’t the kind of warmth she got when she felt foolish or silly or decidedly unladylike. No, this was the kind of warmth one felt when everything was perfect. 

Thanks so much for reading! I would love to hear from you about what you think of it!! See you all on Friday :D

Monday, April 6, 2015

A Cinderella Retelling- a Snippet of My Writing

According to the survey, people want to see more of my writing... so, I thought I would post something fictional I've written, instead of a post about writing!

A while back I started working on a Cinderella retelling. It doesn't have a title yet and is far from finished. But, I'm sharing the first chapter with you anyway. So, enjoy and let me know what you think. If enough interest is expressed I'll post more.

But, for now, without further ado, Chapter One of my untitled Cinderella story:

Chapter One

Ella looked away from the carriage window to smooth the pale blue lace of her skirt. The smile that graced her face was uninhibited and radiating. She bounced a bit with joy as she looked over at her mother, who sat beside her.

“The dress is really mine to keep, Mamma?” she questioned for the tenth time since she had first been shown it. “They aren’t going to take it away from me, now that the wedding is over?”

The woman sighed and lifted a gloved hand to her temple. “No, Eleanor, they are not going to take it away from you. And, you shall have many others after we are moved to Whitehall.”

“You’re certain?” The girl sat at the edge of her seat, looking out the window once more as she asked the question.

“My dear, I would not lie to you,” Lady Bannering replied. “Now, do, please try to act like a lady. You must make a good impression.”

Ella sat up straighter, though her smile remained unwavering. “And, I’m truly to have brothers? Real ones?”

“Are there any other kind?” her mother asked, a note of exhaustion in her tone. “And, I would not get my hopes too high, my dear. They are your stepbrothers, after all, and might not afford you the affection of blood.”

But the woman’s words appeared to have fallen on deaf ears. “And, we’re all to live together, like a real family?”

“Yes, my dear,” her mother replied. “Now, do try to let Mother rest for a bit. It’s been quite a long day.”

The girl pulled in her lips and nodded, barely able to contain her mirth. She turned her attention back to the scenery outside the carriage and allowed the next hour to pass in silence.

She was unable to hold back, however, once Whitehall came into sight. As soon as her gaze fell upon the magnificent building she let out a breath of awe and said, “Mamma, did you marry the king?”

Lady Bannering reminded in her seat, not so much as glancing out the window. “Don’t be ridiculous. Of course, I didn’t. Now, sit back, you’re acting most unladylike.”

It took every ounce of willpower for the girl to pull herself away from the window. She so badly wanted to take in every glance of this magnificent estate that she could. But, her mother’s words rang in her ears, the ones about making a good first impression and the desire for her new family to love her overtook her awestruck wonder of the place.

She sat back against the carriage seat, straight and tall as her little frame would afford her, keeping her eyes straight ahead.

“Do stop fiddling with your skirt,” her mother instructed. The girl folded her hands, clasping them so tight the knuckles turned white.

It took a full fifteen minute- and more patience than the little girl had- before the carriage came to a stop outside. The girl sat forward to jump out but her mother’s hand on her arm kept her from it. She looked to the woman, question in her eyes.

“A lady waits for the footman,” Lady Bannering instructed. “And, she allows her seniors to proceed her.”

The girl slumped back against the seat, hanging her head. “I’m sorry. How will they ever like me if I’m so terribly ill-bred?”

“Patience and attendance to your manners would improve matters,” her mother remarked as the carriage door was opened. She gave her daughter a pointed look before she accepted the footman’s hand and climbed from the vehicle.

Ella bounce in her seat while she waited for the footman to return for her. It seemed an age before he did and she fairly leapt for him, taking his hand and flying from the carriage.

Out on the gravel drive stood the man she had watched her mother marry not twenty-four hours ago. They had spent their wedding night in the capital and then he had left earlier the next morning to prepare for their arrival.

And now here they were. At their new home.

Ella’s feet hit the gravel and the footman released her hand before she had truly gained her footing. She stumbled and started to fall, when she felt strong hands about her. She was righted and a voice said in her ear, “Are you all right?”

She nodded, feeling her face grow hot to the tips of her ears. “Quite, thank you.”

The hands released her and she snuck a peek at her savior. The first thing she noticed was a shock of wild blond hair. It framed the face of a young man, perhaps twenty-one or twenty-two. At first, she thought perhaps he was a footman, but his clothes, she noted, suggested otherwise.

No, this could only be one of her new brothers. And, he had seen her nearly topple from the carriage! Her face grew even warmer and she looked down at her shoe once more.

“You must be my new sister,” the young man said, his tone not unkind. In fact, it was quite warm and friendly. He had even called her his sister. But then, he was surely only being polite.

“Yes, sir,” she replied in a small voice. “I’m Ella.”

“It’s Eleanor,” her mother corrected. “The girl insists on holding onto her childish nickname.”

Ella felt very small indeed and wished to be anywhere but here at that moment. What must her new family think of her? She shrank back, trying to become as far from the center of attention as possible.

“She is still a child, my love,” Lord Bannering pointed out. The man took a step toward her, bending down to her eyelevel and lifting her chin with a finger. She had no choice but to meet his gaze. “I think Ella is a perfectly beautiful name.”

She blushed once more, but this time from pleasure, not shame. She did not know this man well, as his courtship to her mother had been whirlwind and the two had spent much of it engaged in activities she was still too young for, such as balls and tea parties and the like. But the few times they had met, he had done everything in his power to put her at ease and she could not help liking the man immensely.

The man righted himself. “Now, then to properly introduce you, dear Ella, this is my son, Edward. I know not where his brother, Henry, is.” He glanced around, as if to see if the boy was somewhere nearby. “That boy…”

“Last I saw him, he said he would be down directly,” Edward informed him. “He should be but a moment.”

They saw no reason to wait for the young man out there on the gravel drive and so they retired inside.

“I’ve had your rooms prepared,” Lord Bannering informed them. “If you would perhaps like to freshen up before we tour the house.”

“Oh, yes please,” Lady Bannering requested. “I must look a sight after that ride.”

“You look beautiful,” her husband told her, an arm firmly about her. He drew her to him and kissed her nose. The woman blushed with pleasure and the two became wrapped up in themselves, leaving Edward and Ella alone.

The girl tried to shrink away, hoping that if Edward had better things to do, he wouldn’t feel obligated to remain with her instead. But, he did not forget her. Instead, he turned to her, offering her a smile. “I suppose that leaves me to show you to your room.”

“I don’t want to be of any trouble,” the girl said in a small voice, looking down to the hem of her rich gown.

Edward mimicked the motion his father had used not long before, tilting up her chin with one finger so that she was forced to meet his eyes. His own blue eyes danced merrily as he said, “But, what are brothers for, if not to assist their little sisters?”

She bit her lip and tried to look away, but it was hard, with his finger still under her chin. “Mamma said I’m not to get too attached to the idea of having brothers, as we’re only siblings by marriage, not by blood.”

“Well, it’s always good to listen to your mother,” Edward agreed slowly. “But, I think even she would agree this is a much better arrangement for everyone.” Then he offered her a smile so contagious she could not help but smile too.

A ruckus was heard on the stairs and both turned their attention in that direction to find another blond young man descending the stairway. His face was flushed, as if he had run in a great hurry, and he was younger than Edward, perhaps fourteen or fifteen, Ella would guess. Whatever the case, both were a good deal older than her nine years.

“Wherever have you been?” Edward demanded of his brother.

Henry skipped the last three stairs, hopping straight to the floor. He made the last few steps to close the gap between himself and Edward and Ella. He began all in one breath, “It took me longer than I thought. I was in the library and-”

“Never mind, I don’t want to know,” Edward said, holding up a hand to stop him from saying anything further. “You missed the new Lady Bannering, but this is our sister, Ella.”

Henry offered her a lopsided grin. “Oh, hello. I’m Henry. Do you think Father’s mad at me for missing them coming, Ed?”

“He probably was,” his brother replied. “But, he’s too caught up in his bride to care about much else right now, so you’re good.”

The young man let out a sigh of relief. “Thank heavens.”

Edward offered Ella his arm. “Well then, shall we show this young lady to her new room?”

Ella bit her lip in embarrassment but took the offered arm all the same. The house was much bigger than the one she had lived all her life and certainly more splendid. It was all she could do to keep up with

Edward while they walked, as she wanted to keep stopping to admire every beautiful thing. Only the thought that she did not want to embarrass herself further and that this home was to be hers and she would have amble opportunity to enjoy it kept her from doing just that.

They finally stopped outside a room and Edward opened the door. Ella stood in the doorway, her eyes wide and mouth open. “Is- is this really to be mine?” she breathed. “Surely you are teasing me.” She turned to Edward, hurt and pleading in her eyes. “Oh, please don’t tease me so.”

“I’m not teasing,” Edward said with a smile. “They’re yours, for as long as you are to live here.”

The girl could not contain herself, so overcome with immeasurable joy was she, that she threw her arms around her new brother and squealed.

After a moment she realized what she had done and jumped back as she released him, her face redder than it had been all day. “Oh my. I- I am sorry. I- I wasn’t- that is- I didn’t- Oh, I’m sorry.”

Edward offered her that grin of his. “There’s nothing to be sorry for, little one. I told you, I am to be your brother. And, Father will be very glad to hear the room is to your liking.”

“Oh, it is,” she hurried to assure him. “I’ve- I’ve never seen a room so fine before. And, it’s to be mine? Truly?”

“Those are your trunks, are they not?” Edward said, nodding to the luggage on the far side of the room.

The girl had not seen them before, in her awestruck examination of the room, but indeed they were hers. “I can’t believe it.”

“Believe it,” Edward said, clucking her chin. “And, while you’re at it, why don’t you freshen up? Luncheon will be soon and then Father will no doubt want to give a tour of the estate.”

He left her then, and Ella danced over to the bed, jumping up and flopping herself down on the mattress, which she discovered was softer and more heavenly than any she had ever slept on. She closed her eyes and drew in a contented sigh.

She had never known life could be very, very perfect.

And there you have it! Let me know what you think. And, make sure you get your questions in for this Friday!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Pausing an Idea- Candor Questions

Hello, faithful readers! One question for this week:

Emily asked: As you may have gathered from my last email, I'm writing a novel. however, I've come to writers block and, in the midst of it, I've come up with an idea for a new story, one I'm really enthusiastic about. I was only a couple of chapters into my other story, and am beginning to wonder whether or not I should even continue with it. Is it a bad idea to pause the story I'm currently working on and start the other?  What do you suggest?

I’m actually a really bad person to ask this because this is something I do all the time.

All the time.

But then, maybe that makes me a good person to ask.


Anyway! There are a lot of variables to determine what you should do and ultimately you are the one who has to make the decision. But, hopefully, my response will make the decision easier for you.

For me, whenever I hit writer’s block I’m usually excited about a new story idea. And, more often than not, I drop the one I’m working on and jump headfirst into the new idea. This can be bad for a number of reasons, but it has also worked for me on several occasions.

It can be bad because oftentimes I don’t go back to the first story. I say I’m going to “pause” but it really ends up being that I quit. And my poor first several chapters are left abandoned. It’s also a bad habit to get into because once it becomes a habit it’s hard to actually push through and finish something rather than chase every plot bunny who hops in your direction.

But, there have been other times where I have been so stressed about a story that I just have to write something else. Anything else. And so I’ll set the first story aside and work on something new. And, I have written a good many stories this way. So, it’s worked on several occasions.

Personally, I would recommend pushing through on the first story. It's tough, it's not fun, it can even be really boring at times, but it's life. If you haven’t read my post about writer's block you might want to check it out.

Something I would recommend, since you are passionate about your new idea is to get a notebook or a new document on your computer- depending on your preferred method- and write down anything you want about the story. A first chapter, character outlines, notes on what you want to happen. Just write whatever comes to you until you’re completely dry. This way you’ll have notes when you want to go back to this idea and won’t lose everything you were thinking while you work on the first idea.

The two cases I would recommend quitting the first idea for the second are: if you’re stressed or if you have major plot holes you can’t figure out. Both of these are cases where you need to take a step back and get a fresh perspective. And the best way to gain a new perspective is to set your story aside and come back to it at a later date.

If you do decide to pause the first idea for the second, I would recommend making notes on what you have planned for the first idea, if you don’t already have them. I tend to forget this step and then when I go back to an idea, I don’t have a clue what I was planning. You think you’re going to remember, but put enough time and excitement about another project between you and the idea and you’d be surprised how much you don’t remember.

And that’s that! I’ll see you all on Monday, as usual.

In the meantime, if you would consider taking a quick survey about my blog and let me know how I’m doing and what you would like to see from me in the future, I would greatly appreciate it. You can either put your name on it or don’t, your choice. And, please be honest. I won’t be offended by your feedback, I promise!

To take the survey, go here