Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A girl and her dolls

On Sunday evening, I found a time capsule hidden behind a few baskets of laundry in my parents' basement. My sisters and I were looking for an old "Pepper" doll that we suspected had been sacrificed to Good Will years ago, when Mom told us, "All the dolls are in a big trunk in the basement. There's a pink doll house on top."
We were skeptical. None of us remembered any pink doll house, and we could hardly believe that Mom would have saved a bunch of old doll toys for ten years past the time my youngest sister actually played with them.
Then, we found the trunk. Opened it. Began to squeal in girlish delight and hilarity. "Oh, that pink doll house!" "Oh my gosh, it's your Peggy doll!" "AH! The little doll with the twisty changeable clothes!" "Oh, wow, do you remember this dolly blanket!" and plenty of "Ugh, check out the 90's makeup on this one!"
It was pretty epic. But every childhood emotion I thought I had forgotten swooped back into my chest. I am just raring to work on my middle grade novel now. :)

This was Genevieve's initial reaction:

Oh, Mama...

After all, it was her birthday, and we were supposed to be paying attention to her, not squealing in such an embarrassing manner.
But after a little while, she joined in on the fun:


Hey, this pink dollhouse is pretty cool...


Thursday, June 21, 2012

My So-Called Teenage Life Blog Hop

So...my teenage life. 'Twas rather unconventional. My journal posts were sporadic and dull at best--the bad/good thing about being homeschooled was the lack of drama in daily life. But my very favorite (very nerdy) social activity was our lovely Shakespeare group. My friends and I would meet once a month for a potluck dinner and casted read-aloud of one of the Bard's plays.
Shakespeare developed my sense of humor, my sense of prosidy in writing and my love for archaic words. He also inspired a few notebooks full of poetry.
One of my favorite plays was Henry V. The drama! The politics! The funny French accents! Perhaps it holds a specially dear place in my heart because it was the first time I was cast opposite the only boy in the group I ever had a crush on (a really, really cute young man named Mark Hough). He had ten or so lines as King Charles. I had five or six as Queen Isabel. One time, someone else had the line "I love you," and our eyes met across the crowded room, like the song says... A few sentences later, the comic character Louis, the "Dolphin" (our Yale Shakespeare edition didn't update this to Dauphin, apparently) of France, describes his admiration for his prize horse, and reveals his intention to someday write a sonnet to it, beginning, "Wonder of Nature." The magical romantic moment was broken by snorts of laughter. Then Mark started turning his French accent into the chef from The Little Mermaid, adding "He he he, ho ho ho!" onto the end of every line.
That combination of lines and events inspired the following series of poems, which Mark and I wrote back and forth to make each other smile, all the while I tried to convince myself that we were just friends:

If Louis the "Dolphin" ever fell in love
(by Faith Elizabeth Wagner)


My dearest Lady:
Wonder of nature, truly thou art;
They equestrian beauty toucheth my heart!
When my noble eyes first gazed on thy frame,
Steed-like and noble toward me you came.
My heart leapt within me the moment I knew
How like unto my darling horse were you!
Nearly as noble, almost as wise--

You've grown nearly as dear as my horse in mine eyes!
Why compare you to a flower--
Call you "upright as a tower,"
When, in praise, it is quite meet
To laud your sturdy, horselike feet?
One last word in your honor I say:
There's no voice sweet as yours--except my steed's neigh!
O lady, my lady, I do love thee so!
(But I love my horse more--he he he ho ho ho!)

Yours condescendingly,
Prince Louis,
the Dolphin
Son of Charles VI of France and Isabel
Moreover, the noblest, bravest, handsomest, smartest guy you'll ever meet.

Response to the Dolphin, from a Lady who deserves him
(by Mark Langdale Hough)


My dearest Prince,
Your sonnet was kingly, so regally said;
Your trotting verse proves that you are thoroughbred.
It appears though your wooing has tripled in pace;
I think that your hunt has become steeplechase.
And I, a mare modest, don't wish to be "altared"
If doing so now means to you I'd be haltered.
Now don't take this wrong, you're a wonderful steed,
But I feel my soul longing for some other breed.
I hope for to find me the best catch in France,
The type whose sweet neighing will make my heart prance,
A being, perhaps, with a prettier head--
Any chance I could marry your dear horse instead?
Yours,
Princess Pegasus

Response to the Response
(by Faith Elizabeth Wagner)


I admit your selection show flawless good taste,
Yet implore you still not to be wed in such haste!
For if you married my horse then would I be your master--

As you see that arrangement is doomed to disaster!
Besides, my good stallion's feelings must be considered,
And I'm afraid against you he is rather embittered:
When I gave him your proposal to hear what he'd say,
I regret to inform you, he briefly neighed, "nay!"
You can see that your suit with my horse is quite cold,
So I'll renew mine with you if I may be so bold.
It's true I can't gallop or canter or prance,
But for a small consolation, you'd be Queen of France!
Yours,
Prince Louis, et cetera

Response to the Response to the Response
(by Mark Langdale Hough)


Dear Dolphin,
To be Queen of France! That's a wonderful thing!
But that would require I marry a king.
And your father Charles appears quite enraptured
With Queen Isabel (clearly his heart she's captured).
So all that is left if apparently you,
And you're just a prince and so that wouldn't do.
Unless for a present as matter of course
You gave me full use of your glorious horse.
That might make up for the honors I'm due,
And might also make up for marrying you.
With much ambition,
Princess Pegasus


There you have it. Full evidence of my teenage geekiness. I hope you got as many laughs out of this as I have typing it up! :)
Visit Amy Sonnichsen's blog to find the list of other participants--and thanks for hosting, Amy!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Unexpected

"Did a delicate cobweb link us all, silky lines trailing through the air?"
-The Great Unexpected, by Sharon Creech

Yes.

We must all be connected, because that is the only way I can explain how so many questions and ideas that have been swirling around my mind for months found their answers in someone else's book. Revenge, forgiveness, ghosts, a girl like Anne Shirley, the way we are put into each other's lives just when we most need it, fairies, orchards, witches...

A good friend just brought us a copy of Sharon Creech's newest book, The Great Unexpected (which will be released in September), fresh from Book Expo America. I peeked into it Sunday evening and have been devouring it every spare moment since--now my heart is full and I can't even start on the next book on my long list until I let this one settle in for a while.

I'll attempt to calm down enough to write you a more traditional review:

Naomi Deane lives in the town of Blackbird Tree with Joe and Nula, who have been her caretakers since her father died in an accident that shaped not only Naomi's life but that of Blackbird tree itself. When a dead body falls out of a tree practically at her feet, her first thought is, "Is this my fault?" To her relief, the body opens his eyes and introduces himself to her and her best friend Lizzie (who could hop right into Anne of Green Gables with no trouble, by the way) as "Finn." He has a charming smile, a penchant for popping up at just the right moment--and holds clues to a mystery that spreads even "Across the Ocean" to Ireland.
There were some lovely unexpected moments and twists in this story--and many expected elements, too, considering the author. It was no surprise, for example, that the characters are so real you wouldn't be surprised to meet them someday, that the prose is lyrical and poetic and begging to be read aloud, or that the story has a heart bigger than the Atlantic Ocean.
September, friends. Mark your calendars.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

June is bustin' out all over!

It's been a busy couple weeks, with more busy-ness to come, so I'll let my garden speak for me today. 





It's rainy today in Connecticut, but as soon as the clouds pass, I'm going to switch to writing in a notebook for a while so I can stay outside!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Zoe's first storytelling

"Once upon a time...
there lived a boy named Peter Pan.
And--guess what?
Captain Hook tried to KILL him!
Peter Pan said, "Ahhh! Ahhh!"
But Captain Hook CAPTURED him!
Peter Pan didn't know what to do!
Until--
He jumped up and fighted Captain Hook!
And then Winnie the Pooh came and saved him.
The end."

My writer-mama heart just glows with pride at the line: "Peter Pan didn't know what to do!" Zoe's only 2 1/2, and she's already figured out quite a few essential story-telling techniques...despite the "Pooh ex machina" ending. :)

Friday, June 1, 2012

Tintin!

(Warning: this post will be extremely effusive and have little to do with writing. Don't say I didn't tell you.)

Yesterday we celebrated my birthday with homemade pizza, store-bought cannoli, and Redbox-rented Tintin. Tintin is sort of a birthday tradition with me, as when I was a kid, a good family friend used to send me a new book every birthday. I remember the first time I read The Secret of the Unicorn... As I recall, I was perched up in a tree most of the time.
So I've been waiting to see the movie since it was nothing more than a rumor. But as I mentioned recently, I don't find the time for movies very often. As a birthday present to myself, however, I rested. I took a nap with the baby. I let the lunch dishes sit until dinnertime. I read half of Insurgent. As a special favor, God even broke my vacuum cleaner, so I couldn't clean the floors. (Okay, maybe I broke it, but the billowing smoke and rumbling made it seem dramatic enough to be God.) And we rented a movie.
I'd forgotten how wonderful Tintin's humor is, and was pleasantly surprised how well they captured it in the film. I couldn't quite turn off my writer brain, and was fascinated by the visual way in which the humor was conveyed--great for graphic novels and movies and nearly impossible in a regular novel. (It helps you understand why graphic novels should exist.) Initially, I was unsure of the animation style, but I ended up liking it a lot. (The facial expressions were amazing.) And the acting was superb--every voice was just as I imagined it, except--oddly--Tintin's. I'd always imagined him sounding a bit younger, but it didn't really bother me.
My favorite moment of the night was when Lucy asked us why Captain Haddock was acting so funny, and we told her it was because he had been drinking too much alcohol. Her eyes widened and she said frantically, "I don't want you guys to ever drink any more alcohol!"
Okay, done bubbling. If you need a rest or a good laugh, go rent Tintin. :) (And read the books!)