Meet Tawny

January 18, 2018

Meet Tawny

On Devonia, a world far from here, but more deserving of the name Earth’s Twin than Venus, a dengee (a strong, wolf-dog-like creature) female birthed a litter of pups.  One of those tiny, sightless, nearly deaf, fluffy balls was a tan-brown female with black rings on her tail and black markings.  Her first two days of life were normal for any dengee pup.  She shoved her way to her mother’s warm belly and warmed herself inside and out with her mother’s milk and thick soft fur.

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But then something unexpected happened.  She was too young to understand, but the lead pack male was forced out by a trio of incoming younger, stronger males.  In the dengee world, those males would then destroy all of the previous male’s young.  Although some of the mother dengees had been wounded while trying to fight them away alongside the pack male, others resigned themselves to their fate.  The new trio of males, one lead pack male and the other two his cohorts, hunted down and destroyed all the six dens with the old male’s pups.

What the pup knew was that mean teeth snapped at her and a rough angry paw tossed her out of the warm den and into the cold early morning where it was just as dark to those with open eyes as it was to her blind self.  Miraculously, the tiny female pup, now heavily injured, managed to elude her pursuer and slide into the edge of a frigid creek.  She called for her mother.  She cried will all her might.

Her new mother heard her cries.

Alena Summers, a human child fishing on the bank of the Ice Cube Creek that early afternoon, heard the pitiful calls of this lonely baby and followed the sound.  Joseph Taylor, another human child, swam into the cold water to rescue the blob of tangled fur from her prison in the bushes on the edge of the water, and there Tawny became a ward of the humans.

This little three-day-old dengee pup whose eyes had never seen her own kind was rescued from drowning by two children and warmed in her new mother’s soft apron.  Tawny’s life had already been so full of turmoil!  Even on the bank after being rescued, the other children considered tossing her back because dengees were deadly foes to the humans – attacking their livestock and more than once, even the humans themselves.  Thankfully, Alena wouldn’t have that; she took full charge of this tiny creature.

With slow, tender, loving care, Tawny’s wounds will heal.  Four days later, at only a week old, and without yet opening her tiny eyes, little Tawny will face another challenge as the council of elders on Devonia has to decide if Alena can keep this dangerous animal.  Of course, Alena and her friends will swear that this pup is nothing dangerous – but that remains to be seen.

For now, Tawny, the newest member of the Devonian settlement of Covenant, is resting with warm Brown-Sheep milk digesting in her belly laying on a soft rag-blanket-bed on straw in the Summers’ barn listening to the sounds of Alena’s pretty lullabies, Brown-Sheep ewes, and baby lambs and dreaming of new warm sun on her body and the soft, warm love of her human mother.

If you want to read about how Alena, Joseph, and their friends find and rescue Tawny, you can read A Foundling Furball!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart

 

New Paperbacks!

January 17, 2018

New Paperback Books!

Introducing the paperback versions of The Brown Sheep Prank and A Foundling Furball!  These two short chapter books are parts 2 and 3 in The Devonians (following #1, Daydreamer).

Christina Tart did the illustrations except for Rebeccah’s design of Tawny, the “foundling furball” in book 3.

The Devonians are space castaways who have made their own life on a new planet called “Devonia” in a village named “Covenant.”  Each book follows the adventures of some of the younger colonists.  Daydreamer introduced the Taylor family with their five boys and baby Rose.  The Brown Sheep Prank highlights on the Summers’ family farm because Alena’s family keeps the only herd of Brown-Sheep.  Alena Summers and Joseph Taylor are best friends.  Alena gives readers a tour of her snug little house and you get to see where Alena, her two sisters, and younger brother, Michael, sleep.  In A Foundling Furball, the older of the Taylor and Summers children find a strange orphan animal at their favorite fishing spot!  Matthew Taylor and Janine Summers have a fun way to catch fish using teamwork.   Mr. Summers, Alena’s dad, tells the children stories as he tries to decide what they have to do with this unexpected little creature.

Enter the world of Devonia and be ready for engaging stories of adventure and friendship.

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

 

God Is Everywhere

January 10, 2018

God is Everywhere

We usually talk about movies after watching them.  The girls were discussing a movie while sitting at the “stone table” (what the little girls call the stone bench and table they get to do school at while waiting for the big girls at college) today.

The exchange from this movie being discussed goes generally like this:

“Don’t rob me of my hate…”

“…God has given us a second chance.  Don’t slap His hand away.”

“God? Can’t I ever get away from Him?”

“No.  God is everywhere, even in a kiss…”

And so this story that, as a novel, is a story of bitter vengeance and betrayal becomes morphed for the big screen into a story of forgiveness and God’s mercy.

Jaquline says, “I like how God is everywhere.  The Bible says He’s in the darkest valley and the tallest mountain.  Is God really in a kiss?”

“I think so,” Kimberly pipes up, “God also gives life and love.”

“So if God is in everything, do squirrels get married?” Jillian asked.  (She loves the Landmark Tribe squirrel stories, and in those, the squirrels are married.)

“God is in everything; He created everything,” Jaquline sighed, “but I don’t know if squirrels get married for real.  Dogs don’t but when we are feeling sad, God uses Prim’s and Sheba’s kisses to make us happier.” (Prim and Sheba are our dogs.)

“So God is even in doggie kisses!” laughed Jillian.

I smiled.  The sun that warms us, the air we breathe, the water, plants, animals; each spark of life is a gift from God.  “God is in everything” isn’t just a movie line; it’s real.  Sometimes we try to make God so distant when in reality He’s inside us, touching everything within and around us.  No, we can never get away from Him.  That’s the beauty and mystery of His love.  Why would the God who spoke the universe into existence want to “chase after” each of us?  God is in everything so that everything we see, feel, and love reflects His love for us.  In this way, all of creation sings God’s glory!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart

A New Step

January 8, 2018

A New Step

Saturday afternoon we got Christina back from her week-long Civil Air Patrol encampment.

Today, Kimberly, Jaquline, Jillian, and Lucas are doing school at a stone table on the beautiful grounds of our state college waiting for Christina and Rebeccah to finish with their first class.

My younglings are growing up too quickly for me!

The sweet lady in the college bookstore was very helpful and encouraging.  She handed the girls a copy of the eleventh edition of their Biology… I have the seventh at home (from when I went here only a few years ago).  Honestly, I’m so excited for the girls in this next step.  (But I won’t say that to them; I try to make this as normal as possible.  We’ve treated every step in their educational journey as simply another textbook to study.)  I’m very thankful for the awesome opportunities available to students in our county.  (This is a big difference from growing up when home schooling was illegal!)

I’m remembering them at the preschool level (Lucas: counting pinecones and creating stickmen from oak leaves and pine sticks), kindergarten level (Jillian: reading and doing her math problems), and working through book steps like Jaquline and Kimberly. (I “stair-step” arithmetic and language arts in a progression they move through and they get to pick one, two, or three “study books” from history, science, and other subjects.) Then they get through independent learning in preparation for college or vocation. (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, various social studies, upper level literature studies, etc.)  Now, Christina and Rebeccah are at the next step: dual enrollment (college credit classes!).

The nostalgic part of me wants time to slow down.

The logical part of me is thoroughly enjoying each new step each one of my children take.  I love the baby stage, but I get excited when the baby steps up to dress and feed themselves.  I love the learning-independence toddler stage, but I love it when they discover reading!  I love the everything-is-new discovery stage, (I try to keep that going as long as I can) but that is too quickly followed by the totally-independent-learning stage.  Yes, I get a little sad when they complete their lesson goals without my help, but I am proud and excited as they jump ahead of my goals by making and achieving their own personal goals.

I see the goal of my “teaching” job as helping my students learn how to teach themselves.  This means inspiring a lifelong love of learning, challenging them to reach higher and higher personal goals, and instilling core principles like academic integrity and determination.

I’m sure they will do well.  They love to learn and are thriving in their “adult” environment where their fellow students are all serious about their work.  I have to smile because I feel like I’ve accomplished my teaching goal – at least for these students – they are fully independent learners with their eyes on future careers and their lifelong pursuit of knowledge.

Of course, I will never truly stop teaching.  I’ll be asking, “so, how was school?” even when they call me from their university in years to come.  That thought makes me smile again.

“Jaquline,” says Kimberly, “why aren’t you writing?”

Jaquline is sitting at the stone picnic table, her paperwork on a clipboard, smiling and staring at the sky.  She sighs and says dreamily, “I’m doing my school at college!”

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

 

Trip Planning

December 28, 2017

Trip Planning

We have to be at a distant location at a specific window of time on a specific day.  Easy enough, right?  Wrong!  Everything in our house is a sporadic adventure! 

Mom: It’s only an hour and two minute drive.

Christina: Then we leave at 8am.

(We are not supposed to arrive at said location until after 11am.)

Mom: Oh, no.  If we leave by 10, we go right by Grandma’s, pick her up, get lost, make 5 potty stops, and still have enough time to get you there.

Christina: Ahhhh! *facepalm*

(I think my teenager loves me.)

Seriously, I have learned a few things about planning trips with toddlers, teenagers, and husbands:

  • Plan to leave at least a half hour before you need to go (this allows for shoes tossed into the pond, a preteen sleepwalking back to bed four times, finishing any last-minute chore like making the list, and misplacing your keys which are already in the running vehicle)
  • Always pack like you will be gone for a week (diapers, wipes, four spare shirts, at least as many pants as diapers, spare shirts for anyone who may be carrying said baby, carrots and apples so you don’t get trapped by fast-food hunger, and 2 or 3 cases of bottled water should do it)
  • Whatever you do, plan 10 minutes extra to turn around (you forgot something you can’t leave home without – like baby’s special blanket, your toddler’s choice toy, your preteen’s library card, your sanity, or your husband’s totally non-standard phone charger)
  • Remember your wallet! (and make sure some toddler didn’t remove your license because he loves to play with mommy’s picture – that will be the day you will be pulled over for a faulty brake light or an oddly rocking vehicle)
  • Count heads (the children, toddler in carseat, hubby, take the dogs back inside, catch toddler who turned into carseat Houdini, now missing two! Oh yeah, hubby is unlocking the door for one who forgot to go potty)
  • Enjoy your 5 minute shopping trip! (or your entire day of travel)

Bonus fact: Music calms savage beasts and makes your vehicle a noisy dance-while-in-seatbelts rocking machine. Maybe DC Talk, Skillet, and Capital Kings are a bit rocky, but everyone dances to Deadmau5 and Disney.  As long as you have your license, roll down the windows, crank up the music, put on shades, and enjoy the ride!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

Small Choices

December 21, 2017

Small Choices

One of the principles I stress as a teacher and parent is personal responsibility.

For me, this means trying to teach that each action, each choice, has either positive or negative consequences.  I also try to teach the importance of following our moral principles when making even the smallest of decisions because even small decisions direct our lives.

When we read fiction (or play strategy board games, watch movies, play role-play story-line video games, etc) it is easier to see the “big picture” of each small decision (when reading or watching a movie, I often yell at the characters when they make a stupid decision and I know it will cause problems – this entertains my children).   I love games like chess, cathedral, Settlers of Catan, and Risk because they teach us to look ahead, plan our strategy, and make small decisions (moves, location of settlements, or deployment of men) to affect the goal (winning the game).

In real life, whatever our age, we often miss the “bigger importance” of an event as we live it.  It is only through reflection (as in the Bible, Mary “ponders in her heart”) that we see our experience in its proper place in the tapestry of our lives.  We sometimes catch a glimpse of the awesome scope of a seemingly simple event in retrospect (a large purchase decision, joining a sport, a move, competing in an event, a new job).  Occasionally, we realize our decision is massive at the time (picking out a pet, choosing a spouse, deciding to start a family).

As young people, we seldom see our “small” choices as momentous.  We don’t often see our choice of high school classes, friends, or activities to be important.  In truth, classes generally pique interests, aim career paths, and influence our college choices.  Friends shape our personality!  Activities often lead us to long term relationships, future business and personal connections, and help shape our character.

When I write stories, I try to hint at the importance of personal decisions.  In Pirate Child, one simple decision by Darren (his decision to treat his “charge” as he would his younger brother) affects Ethan’s entire life.  In Web of Deception, Chloe’s decision to aid and follow Jordan leads to her discovery of her destiny.  In Story From the Inn, Rachel’s choice to help instead of complain (although, it wouldn’t have been in her culture or personality to complain) leads her to being present at a baby’s birth.

Small choices shape our lives.  Sometimes, they help shape the lives of others.  Choose wisely.

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

 

Finding Perspective

December 20, 2017

Finding Perspective

One of the most important things for me to find when I’m writing is the perspective of my target audience.

Simply: for whom am I writing?

For Web of Deception, I was writing to the adventurous young adult (myself and my brother), for the Brantley Station Saga, my target is young adults, and my target readers for The Devonians are those in first through fifth grade.  The Funny Sisters stories are written to be read-aloud so they are more complex.  My goal for them is to entertain both the mom or older child reader and the younger preschool or elementary listener.

Story From the Inn was written when one of my girls mentioned, “I wonder what it was like to work at the inn where Jesus was born.”  (We had just watched a show about the culture of Jewish life in Jesus’ time and read through a book about growing up where Jesus lived.)

I imagined the small inn at Bethlehem run by a family (most were in that time) and one daughter (one my girls could relate to) always trying to help yet always getting underfoot.  This became the eyes and ears of my target audience (my little girls).  Children would relate to Rachel and see, hear, and feel that inn, culture, and special event through her eyes.  I dove into some more specific research and developed Rachel’s story of Jesus’ birth as remembered by a beloved grandmother while entertaining several grandchildren awaiting a new baby’s birth.

Rachel epitomized most children: full of life and expectancy, eager to help, longing to please, and constantly asking questions.

In the moment, Rachel doesn’t understand the magnificence of the event, she only feels elated that she gets to help with a birth (something “big”) and hold a newborn baby (for the first time).  As the storyteller, she reflects on this as an adult, to complete the circle.

Check out Story From the Inn to read Rachel’s story!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart

 

New Story Release!

December 17, 2017

New Story Release!

Yippee!  My illustrator team (Christina and Rebeccah) did some awesome cover art (Rebeccah just had to get Tawny perfect) on the newest chapter in the story of The Devonians!

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The Devonians are space castaways who have developed a colony on a strange new planet (they name it Devonia).

This newest story, A Foundling Furball, begins a few days after the end of The Brown-Sheep Prank.  Joseph Taylor, Alena Summers, and some of their siblings are meeting at the fishing spot on Ice Cube Creek after helping with Washing Day (everyone in Covenant, it seems, washes clothes on Wednesday).

While fishing, they chat, argue, and tease each other.  (Not much different than Earth, is it?)  This is until Alena hears a strange noise and investigates.  Joseph joins her.  They find an injured baby animal – which they realize is a dreaded dengee after it is protectively cradled in Alena’s arms.

On Devonia, dengees are formidable foes.  The tallest stand five feet at their shoulder!  They resemble wolves in most of their hunting and communication techniques yet they are ruled by a protective pack male much like a lion pride.  They often raid Covenant’s wachick flocks and Brown-Sheep herd.  Because of a long-ago attack where early settlers were injured and killed by a pack of dengees, most of the adults in the village hate them.

But today, Alena found, Joseph rescued, and Alena claims she will nurse and care for a blind baby dengee.  How will this be received?

For a peek into Devonia, read this excerpt from “A Foundling Furball!

 “Janine!  Keep hold!” Matthew yelped and jumped into the water to grab her fish.  Janine giggled and wrestled the long creature toward the creek bank.  With teamwork, they managed to catch, unhook, and plop the fish into the vine trap. 

“Wow, that one’s way bigger than my best!” Michael grinned, “way to go, Janine!”

“They love the black-spotted grasshoppers,” Janine giggled.  “Thanks for tossing him, Matty!”

Alena set her pole down and wandered toward the far bank.  There was a clump of water-bushes that blocked up the far edge of the fishing spot and tangled in a long stretch about fifty feet down the creek bank.  The children weren’t allowed to go beyond the water bushes. 

“Alena!” Joseph called after her, set his pole down, and followed.

“Joseph!” Stephen taunted, “you go past the water-bushes and I’m telling Dad!”

“What are you doing?” Joseph asked.

“Do you hear it?” Alena returned.  They both ignored Stephen’s threat.

“The crying baby sound?” Joseph did hear it.  It was a soft, watery cry that sounded like a newborn baby’s very tired, almost asleep, “feed-me” cry. 

… (continued reading A Foundling Furball here!  Or browse all titles and formats here!)

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

 

Pictures & Captions 1

December 14, 2017

Some Picture and Captions

Sometimes it’s just fun to look at pictures and make up captions:

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“Unique dirt graffiti” (Drawn on our van rear by Jillian after her first experience of writing the “0” times table.  Plus, there’s the three marks of Arne Saknussemm on the right!)

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“Find the hidden birds” (Rebeccah took this one because a “flock” of birds were in our trees!)

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“Is food ready yet?” (Everyone loves it when this grill is in use!)

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“Roller Dance!” (They use our carport for a roller blade/skate rink.)

 

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“Silly Cousin Games” (Notice Prim covered with the couch blanket?  Anastasia said she was cold & they are playing “Michael Row Your Boat” with the broom as the boat…)

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“Help when Folding Clothes” (This is what happens when imagination runs wild… they said they are wearing “invisible hats.”)

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“Stealing Her Heart” (This was probably the moment when Christina decided to keep Primrose.)

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“Yummy Trees!” (Since Rebeccah was little, our family has called raw broccoli “trees.”  It has always been a favorite vegetable – once it is discovered in the crisper, it usually disappears before dinnertime!)

I’m so thankful for the neat little invention we have called a “camera” because I can capture snapshots of our fun life.  Most of the funniest ones aren’t on film because we are too busy living them.  (Staged funny pictures don’t have the same effect!)  We love to look back at these snapshots and relive the memories with our little stories; it’s neat to hear the story each child has for the pictures!  We all see life from our personal perspective and even among family members the stories will be slightly different since each member has their unique perspective.

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Story Release! The Brown-Sheep Prank

December 13, 2017

New Story Release!

There’s a new chapter in the continuing story of the Devonians!  The Devonians are space castaways who have developed a colony on a strange new planet (they name it Devonia).

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The soft-crayon illustration is done by Christina Tart. (She is a published illustrator who wisely takes commission for her work!)

This newest story, The Brown-Sheep Prank, begins the day after the end of Daydreamer. Alena Summers, whose family husbands (takes care of) the village’s herd of Brown-Sheep, is very excited about her second-favorite time – Shearing Day!  (It just so happens, that’s the day covered in the story!)

Alena loves the busy time when all of her neighbors will be gathered at her family’s house, trimming the wool (called Shearing), washing fleeces (a fleece is the wool from one sheep), preparing food (Alena’s job is to assist here), and stacking the finished fleeces in the big barn (this one is shared by the entire village).  The boys and overgrown boys (men) love the table of ready-to-eat food that those on refill duty (Alena and Butterfly) have to keep stocked.

Devonia travels in a longer solar orbit so has the equivalent of 499 Earth days in the Devonian year – so when Alena says “5 years 8 months” it really means “about 7½ Earth years.”  Just a little hint about the world of Devonia!

Now to get an idea of how busy Shearing Day is in Covenant, read this excerpt from “The Brown-Sheep Prank!

Everyone was so busy that Alena had barely stopped moving since Mother had called her away from the Brown-Sheep observation this morning. 

It was nearly lunchtime. 

Alena’s stomach growled. 

“Oh my!” Cried Butterfly in fake shock, “you’d better feed that monster!” 

Alena laughed.  She and Butterfly were on refill duty.  This meant they helped in the kitchen and ran back and forth from the big table refilling the food baskets and bowls.  For Shearing Day, everyone snacked whenever they were hungry from the long table outside.  The unwed boys had brought it over from the meetinghouse before Alena awoke.  She grabbed a carrot stick and quickly ate it.

Alena’s Father and most of the other men plus a few older boys were cutting each Brown-Sheep’s wool close to the skin but taking care not to cut the soft skin.  This was called shearing.  This formed what they called a fleece.  The fleece was the shape of a flat sheep without legs or head.  The Brown-Sheep’s head and legs didn’t have wool like the rest of the body. 

A cluster of two men and three women with a few of the older boys and girls were thoroughly washing each fleece to make sure they would get clean. 

… (continued reading The Brown-Sheep Prank here!)

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart