New Story Release!

October 30, 2017

New Story Release!

Welcome to the ninth book in the “Five Alive: Stories of the Funny Sisters” series.  The title is “Happy Hurricane Helpers.”

Following Hurricane Irma’s attack on their town in Florida, the sisters join with their neighbors and help clean up.

Hurricane Irma was a powerful storm that did reach category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale (over 155 mph).  Hurricanes usually decrease in power as they travel over land.  Hurricane Irma had traveled almost straight up Florida’s peninsula from the Keys.  When this storm hit Saint Augustine, it was a category 1 storm (75 to 95 mph).

In coastal areas like Saint Augustine, most hurricane damage is caused by flooding.  The strong winds can fell huge trees, rip debris off houses, throw limbs through windows, and cause heavy damage as well.  Trees falling on power lines caused the sisters to be out of power.  For more information about hurricanes in general, see “Hurricanes,” one of my Home-Edge Readers!

For now, how about a preview of two scenes from “Happy Hurricane Helpers!

Kim awoke this morning before the sun even started to turn the edge of the sky pink.  Last night, the power had gone off and the sisters had camped out in their sleeping bags under the huge, sturdy wooden table in the safe room where there were no windows.  Last night they had heard the deep rumbling that sounded like standing next to train tracks when the train raced by.  Last night Hurricane Irma had hit Saint Augustine. 

   As soon as the tree on the dirt road was clear, Tina, Becky, Kim, Ellen, and Jill followed Mom and Daddy and started helping with limb cleanup.  Some of the Tree family kids were out cleaning limbs too.  Two other children from a house down the paved road joined in the fun.  The Tree men had left a trail of sawed-off branches scattered where the big trees had fallen.  They had stacked big round stacks of trunk wood by the road because those were too heavy for little kids.  But the branches were perfect for kids! 

   Six-year-old Kim flexed her muscles. 

   “I can drag this BIG one to the road!” She challenged, dragging a limb to the edge of the road. 

   “I got a bigger one!” said Tina. 

   Becky and Ellen laughed.  “We are doing teamwork!”  Ellen announced.  She was four and her blankie was draped over her shoulders like a boa.

   “Me too!” Jill called.  Jill was only two but she loved to help.  She had a two-year-old-sized branch and was making funny faces as she fought it to the edge of the road.

   “Let me help you, Jill,” offered Tina. 

   “No!” Jill yanked the branch and it flew out of her hands and right to the edge!  Jill stood up straight, brushed her hands on her jeans, and said, “I can do it myself!” 

   … (continued reading Happy Hurricane Helpers here!)

 

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart

 

Interview with Alfredo

October 16, 2017

Meet Alfredo

*** We are attempting to interview Alfredo, a rooster in the series, “The Adventures of Long Tail” but he doesn’t seem to think his microphone is working…***

Alfredo: So, are you going to interview me?  Oh!  Hello there!  Didn’t expect a beautiful white rooster like me to be talking, did you?

Alfredo whispering: (Guys, are you getting this on video or audio only?)

Us: Audio only.

Alfredo: (Oh, just sound… bummer.)

I’m Alfredo, the most beautiful white rooster to ever walk the planet!  And I live on this lovely farm with a sturdy henhouse and yard filled with beautiful hens and pullets… all my lovelies.  (So, just ignore that mean-sounding jealous crow in the background, that’s only a tiny, little, dull, worn-out, old rooster who’s jealous of my harem and my beautiful white feathers.  Can you guys filter him out in the final cut maybe?)

NOT Alfredo: “ALFREDO!”

Alfredo: Okay, maybe that yellow rooster in the picture is the king rooster of this henyard and I’m the second in command… (but a guy can dream, can’t he?  Guys, you can remove the first half of the sentence later.)

Anyway, so there are humans in the human house (scary thought, isn’t it?  Guys, have you ever seen a human?) and there are giant creatures all around outside of our sturdy fence and solid wooden henhouse but I have defeated many enemies!

NOT Alfredo: “ALFREDO!”

Alfredo whispering: (Can’t a guy do his own interview without interruptions?)

Us: This is live, Alfredo.

Alfredo: (This is live?  Bummer… maybe I should flatter him then so he’ll be quiet.)  So, I’m not the big hero all of the time.  Mr. Big Yellow Long Tail the Magnificent is always the hero.  It says so in the books… every one of them says “Long Tail, the great yellow chief” and he always is the big hero.

I’m done now!  Signing off, is that okay Mr. Long Tail?  (Is he gone?  Okay, so maybe I should ask my human writer to start the next book with “Alfredo the Beautiful whom the hens and pullets adore…”)

Us: ALFREDO!  That isn’t the book format!

Alfredo: That wasn’t a rooster crow!  Who said that?  Yikes!  A voice I can’t see!  Maybe there are more of them!  Alfredo is hiding in the hay until they leave – better yet, you go fight them for me, will you?  Bye!

*** We were unable to get Alfredo to return to the microphone and face the unseen voices.  So, this ends the interview with Alfredo the Rooster.  Read more about his hiding (ahem, his “bravery”) in “The Adventures of Long Tail.” ***

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

Meet Matthew

October 8, 2017

Meet Matthew Taylor

Matthew is one of the Taylor boys.  He lives with his father, mother, brothers, and baby sister on the first settled family plot in Covenant.  Although he must help with chores on his family’s farm first, he prefers to spend time around the Summers’ farm and learn about Brown-Sheep.

Matthew has a twin brother named Stephen.

Matthew and Stephen don’t like to wake up early.  Sometimes their little brother, Jacob, will jump on them to wake them up!

Matthew sometimes likes to set pranks for others.  This isn’t a good trait, as he discovers every time he tries, but that doesn’t seem to stop him.

You can read more about Matthew and his family in The Devonians series, starting with Daydreamer.

 

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart

New Story Release!

September 27, 2017

New Story Release!

I’m excited about a new release!  This is the eighth book in the “Five Alive: Stories of the Funny Sisters” series.  The title is “Gale at the Ghost Town.”

In this story, the sisters walk through their town as a gale is descending upon them.  A gale is a storm with winds between 50 and 65 miles an hour.  It is a nautical and meteorological term.  Most people refer to this today as “tropical storm force winds” because a tropical storm is defined as a storm with sustained winds between 39 and 74 miles an hour.   (www.amol.noaa.gov/hrd/tcfaq/A5.html)

The storm in this story is Hurricane Irma, a powerful storm that did reach category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale (over 155 mph).  Hurricanes generally lose power once they travel over land, so when Hurricane Irma hit Saint Augustine, it was a category 1 storm (75 to 95 mph).

Although the winds from hurricanes can be powerful, in coastal areas, it is usually the flooding that causes most damage.  Residents in low-lying areas try to protect their houses or businesses with sandbags to keep the water out.  For more information about hurricanes in general, see “Hurricanes,” one of my Home-Edge Readers!

For now, for a preview of “Gale at the Ghost Town” read below:

This day was when the colors on the radar map hid the entire Florida peninsula.  Schools were closed for the hurricane, but Becky’s school didn’t take a break.  She was nose-deep in her science book when Daddy announced, “Let’s go see downtown!”

“Yeah!” Shouted Kim, darting into the room in shorts and a workout top.  “I’m ready!”

Becky laughed.  It was cold for Florida summer and Mom came around the corner with “oh no you are not, young lady.  If you are going out in this storm, you are wearing long pants, a jacket, and socks and shoes.”

Jill, who was two, came to the shoe box and grabbed her Minnie Mouse flip-flops.  “Flip-floppies! Ready!”  She squealed. 

Tina, who was the biggest at ten, laughed and said, “but you need real clothes” and hopped like a bunny rabbit into the bedroom to find Jill’s clothes.  Pull-up-only-clad Jill followed in her best froggie-attempt at bunny impersonation.  

While the girls scrambled to find jeans and convince four-year-old Ellen that party dresses were not suitable for walking about in stormy winds, Mom pulled out the winter suitcase.  This big fat, suitcase smelled like Grandpa and baby powder.  It held all of the snow clothes.  They lived in Florida so this was the bag they grabbed in winter when they decided to drive to freezing climates like Middle Georgia.  The snow clothes were water resistant.

 … (continued reading Gale at the Ghost Town here!)

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart

 

Ghost Town

September 10, 2017

Ghost Town

Walking through our town, we felt like we were in a ghost town.   The streets, normally flooded with tourists, were instead empty.

In between the bands of rain, what started as gentle winds of about 15 miles an hour began building strength.  By the time we walked from the Village Inn to the Fort, the winds were tossing waves over the seawall and shooting spray and rain into our faces like atomic arrows.

At the wooden walkway at the north edge of the Fort, we stopped to watch the ocean beat against the seawall.

Lucas spied every vehicle that slowly drove down the small river that used to be Avenida Menendez and squealed “Big truck!” or “Police truck!” (Sport utility vehicles are trucks to Lucas.)  Three or four big jacked-up trucks moved through the river.  A police SUV appeared to be patrolling.

The girls raced up the Fort’s hill.  The walkway was underwater!

We didn’t check the depth, but the people behind us with the cute black and brown dogs were wading along the walkway up to their knees!

 

We stood on the Fort hill and surveyed the area of downtown in our sight.  Outside of those few vehicles, there were only a handful of scattered walkers.  (Our party of 8 made up about 50% of the walkers.)  The beautiful city was boarded up and sandbagged.  Colorful tape blocked the few windows that didn’t have boards or shutters.

After spying water in the moat, the girls decided not to roll down the hill because of the giant “lake” of water.

So off we went toward St George Street. (Back toward the car, because now the icicle raindrops were “too hard.”  This also meant no more pictures as our camera isn’t waterproof.)

On our way back home, Rebeccah said, “Mom, that was like a real ghost tour through a ghost town.”  With that began the ideas for what will soon  be released as another in the Five Alive: Funny Sisters series!  Gale at the Ghost Town

We left praying for those who would be affected as the flooding we observed was over 12 hours before the storm’s highest winds and storm surge were to reach us – and our city wouldn’t be the hardest hit.  Hurricanes display such raw, natural power that a mere human can only stand in awe.

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

 

The Shelly Seashore

September 4, 2017

The Shelly Seashore

In Sisters at the Seashore, the Funny Sisters, Tina, Becky, Kim, Ellen, and Jill visit the seashore with Mom and Daddy.

Like the Funny Sisters’ home, this seashore is actually a real place!

As a family, we end up meeting our family at this specific beach because it’s closer to most of them.  It isn’t the girls’ favorite beach because of the tiny broken shells that replace sand as the shoreline.  They have a special nickname for it: “the shelly beach.”

Whenever we go there, these shells get everywhere!  They get stuck in between toes, in bathing suits, and I think they even use the salt as a glue to attach themselves to human bodies.  Oh, there’s a beautiful stretch of pretty white sand up to the waterline, but past that are tiny shell fragments that carpet the beach even out into the water.  One must carefully step so as not to cut the bottom of one’s feet.  The good news is that, just like a carpet, the shell blanket is not very deep.  Usually, someone has already shuffled their feet through the shells like a bulldozer to make a thin shell-free sandy path into the water.  We look diligently for these tiny safe-foot-paths.  If we can’t spy one, we make one.

The water here is slightly greenish and usually clear enough to see various sea life in the shallows.  Often as the tide changes the younger girls will dig for various mollusks and crabs.  These tiny creatures are usually less than a quarter of an inch in length!

Once, though, we saw a giant conch!

Rebeccah loves to collect very small complete shells; these you have to uncover in the sand as the water grounds them to fragments quickly.

This is the beach that the Funny Sisters visit.  We have many fun cousin-time days here!  Because of the unique properties that make this one of my favorite beaches to play at, North Vilano Beach at the walkover has become “the beach” for the Five Alive series!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

Meet Chloe

August 29, 2017

Meet Chloe

Sometimes when authors create a character, the character is based on a mash-up of features and attributes they admire in many people or desire in themselves.  Chloe in Web of Deception is such a character.

Chloe has beautiful dark skin with dark hair sensibly braided and clothes she’s managed to make out of skins.  Her leather clothes are because she denies using the linen tunics common to the slaves in the household where she’s been captive for many years.  Chloe is determined (some say stubborn).  Keeping her traditional dress reminds her that she will not remain a captive.  She keeps memories of her homeland even though she was very young when she was captured.  Chloe is bold but quiet.  She is calculating and analytical.  She prides herself on not being emotional; her captive life has taught her emotions are only a weapon others can use against her.

Chloe’s deer-like appearance hails from her birth land.  She blends into the forests and jungles like a ghost.  Her boldness and shrewd logic are qualities I wanted in myself.  Her passionate fire and unstoppable determination were qualities I observed in my sisters.  Her bane is a streak of passion that can ice to frigid darkness – this is the evil twist of her positive qualities.

Creating Chloe was a challenge and manipulating her character believably was complicated.  This is what makes her character fit perfectly into the dynamic of Web of Deception’s storyline.

Chloe has lived waiting for a specific person to enter her village.  She has one close friend, Vi’liam, a military trainee with no family, who listens to her and sees her as a little sister to be protected.

She feels the presence of this person when a captive is taken by the military commander and she determines to release and follow him.  This captive is Jordan.

Be sure to check out the rest of Chloe’s story in Web of Deception on the nook!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart

A Storm and Chicken Story

August 26, 2017

A Storm and Chicken Story

One day we were playing outside and a storm came up.  Not a cute little Pooh bear thundercloud with a few raindrops, but a giant, hurricane-wind, flash-lightning-fireworks-in-the-sky, shake-the-whole-house-thunder, all-people-hide-inside kind of thunderstorm.  (Okay, it was a simple, everyday, Florida thunderstorm.)  The winds were swirling chicken feathers and fluffing them out like towel-dried cats.  Smaller chickens were hop-flying to stabilize themselves as they fought for the safety of the henhouse.

After drying off from the first wave of rain, the girls peeked outside and giggled at the chickens until the raindrops were so large we couldn’t see the henhouse anymore.  The late summer winds blew the tree limbs around like strong autumn breezes scatter just-raked leaf piles.

“Mom, can you tell us a story with a storm?” Asked Rebeccah.

“A Long Tail story!” yipped Kimberly.  She was five, and she loved Long Tail.

So we snuggled on the couch with lightning flashes illuminating the room through the big windows and started what would become “Long Tail and the Big Storm.”

The chickens of the yard were ruled by Long Tail, the great yellow chief, and guarded by Long Tail and Alfredo, the white rooster imported some time ago.  Under this rooster team, the hens and pullets scratched and gossiped and laid eggs all day with no worries.

On one autumn day the bright sky darkened with angry clouds.  The sun hid.  The birds in the woods started crying warnings and flying away.  Two small humans who were playing in the henhouse with the baby biddies, heard a booming crack of thunder and jumped!  They put the baby biddies back in the safe brooder and left the henhouse.

“Look at those little humans!” cawed Alfredo, laughing, “running like rabbits!”

A giant bolt of lightning lit up the sky just behind the woods and a cannon-loud BOOM of thunder shattered the air.  Alfredo scrambled into the henhouse and hid under the brooder.

All the hens laughed at the silly rooster.

Even Red Feathers and Golden Eye, two of the youngest pullets, laughed at him.

Long Tail strutted by, “when the water falls from the sky, we come in.” Long Tail was not afraid.

A big wind shrieked through the henhouse.  It blew the people door open!

Can Long Tail save his flock?  Be sure to check out Long Tail and the Big Storm to see just how this courageous rooster accomplishes this brave feat!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

Meet Corgi Dawflawn

August 21, 2017

Meet Corgi Dawflawn

Corgi was one of those characters who originally had a bit part in the story, yet was loved by my proof-readers.  Because of their suggestions (repeated begging and sadness when I laughed at bringing Corgi into a larger role), this character morphed into a secondary player.

Corgi Dawflawn was born to Warrior-Spirit parents during the early stages of the Border War.  He was recruited into the military school of Ja’hline.  He becomes a member of the Klnu’mori and ascends in rank quickly.  Corgi enters the story in the upper ranks of training at Ja’hline.  Upon graduation, he chooses the Cobra discipline which specializes in bare-hand techniques.

Corgi gets assigned to the Border Wall, finds a skill with a machete to become a machete-master, and his commander discovers he can read and write in several languages.  He becomes a scribe.

He reads a message instead of tossing it.  By this tiny split-second act, his life is forever changed.  (You can read his full story in “Web of Deception.”)

Just like Corgi, sometimes decisions that appear minuscule actually end up leading to the biggest adventures of life.

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart

Slices of Stories

August 16, 2017

Slices of Stories

Have you ever wondered about the stories of people you barely touch?  I do. Each time I see a person or group of people my brain asks that question and sometimes I theorize about the answer.

A biker in full regalia changing a tire on the sidewalk, a child standing in a full school bus with both arms protruding from the open window, a pair of women talking with their hands in the car next to you at the traffic light, a tall, thin girl crossing a 6 lane roadway with a drink in her hand; what are their stories?

These were all people I passed just on a twelve-minute ride this morning.  All bits of five full vibrant life stories and I eavesdropped on a few seconds of each.

Consider now: I’m at a park bench.  It’s early morning, school busses transporting children are still flying by the three roads that surround the park.  A mother and her toddler enter the park, they are the only ones besides me.  He laughs and runs free.  Mother checks out the surroundings from behind dark sunglasses – the same thing I do when I enter new surroundings.  Mother pushes him on the toddler swing as he smiles and points out squirrels and birds in the overhanging trees.

My mind asks me; what is their story?  I can describe them in detail.  I observe tiny things like how many keys dangle from her keyclip over her back right pocket, he is wearing the easy-slip-on canvas shoes I love (even in navy blue, my favorite color), her blonde hair is darkening at the base (maybe she dyed it blonde about six months ago or it’s summer-kissed) and twisted up in a becoming bun atop her head (It could be called a “messy bun” but it looks good on her), he has a cowlick (maybe he took a nap in the carseat).

It sounds weird, doesn’t it?  This is the overworking mind of a writer.  I only glanced at them twice, once when they entered and once when he squealed at a bird or squirrel, yet I imagine an entire storyline connected to them just from those glances.  Odd.  I’m probably wrong on all counts.  My mind has been doing this as far back as I can remember.  I see people and write sketches about them.  Many of these character sketches based on a 2-second glance have become bit parts in various stories.  I trained myself not to believe my assumptions and imaginative storylines about the people I meet. (That doesn’t mean my brain doesn’t still analyze and make storylines!) I allow people to fill in their own story as I get to know them.  I had to teach myself not to judge others by what my perceptions of them are.  As I learned more about people, took more psychology classes, watched lives unfold, and lived my own life, my assumptions came truer to reality; but I still don’t judge others by them.

It does help me get inspiration for story characters, though.  So, that’s just a glimpse into the mind of a writer.

I wonder what goes through the minds of the mother and toddler as they catch a glimpse of this woman sitting cross-legged on a huge picnic table by herself with keys, business cards, a banana peel, and a phone lying in front of her and tapping away like a diesel locomotive on a not-so-silent laptop keyboard.  What do they perceive of their observation of a slice of my life’s story?

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart