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

 

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

 

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

 

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