Meet Bria Addison

August 14, 2017

Meet Bria Addison

Today we get to meet Bria Addison, the eldest child of Dr. Drake and Dr. Alayna Addison.  Bria was born over a mile below sea level in the mining colony of Brantley Station.  Her father is the chief medical officer on Brantley Station.  Her mother is the chief Botanist.  Bria shares her mother’s passion for the flora and fauna of the station and is one of Dr. Alayna’s apprentices.

Bria has a younger brother named Benjamin.  Ben likes helping with plants and is in charge of one of the chicken flocks.  Bria’s youngest siblings are twins.  Kaya and Kevin act like their older siblings’ shadows!  Kaya usually follows Bria around and helps with the plants and animals.  Kevin usually follows Ben around; unless Ben is following Ethan.

Bria likes Ethan, who has always been nice to her.  She sometimes calls him her “big brother” though he isn’t.  Ethan treats her like a sister.  Often Ben and Bria seek out Ethan and help him clean something because he smiles a lot and knows a lot about the deep.  Bria loves to join Ethan at the Observation Deck to watch the Delivery Transport Shuttle arrive and depart every cycle.  She enjoys skating along the corridors afterward too.  Bria likes the way Ethan grins.

Bria is normally shy and reclusive.  She says little to those she doesn’t consider family.  Although she knows everyone on the Station, she avoids most places and tries to stay in the BioLabs.  Bria can be bold and is ferociously protective of her baby sister and brother.  She loves her underwater life!

You can read more about Bria and her family in the Brantley Station Saga books.  She is a baby in Pirate Child and Little Thief, but plays a much larger role in later books, starting with The Protector.

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart

The Board

August 13, 2017

The Board

The fun of off days is being able to spend time with family!  After I got done working Saturday, we planned on meeting up with Aunt Becca and Anastasia. (Jillian calls her “my almost-my-age sister cousin” because Anastasia is 4 and Jillian is 5.)  Our start time got delayed, as usual, but that happened on both ends. (Secretly, I love it when that happens! It’s like it was orchestrated!) We were “sardined” into the van with sand toys, boogie boards (which originally belonged to my sisters and brothers), towels to line seats, the canopy tent (usually used for craft and book shows), and two camp chairs.  Oh yes, and add the apples and cherries from our 3-minutes stop by the Produce Market.  (Our part of the snacks – we remembered Lucas’ water cup but forgot the gallon of water.)

And we had the surfboard.  THE.  As in, there is no other like it.  It was my Dad’s ages ago.  He rode it up and down A1A before the overgrown beach houses obscured the ocean view.  It is bright yellow with a blue “arrow” on the front. (The girls claim this gives it extra speed.) It has a few bumps and dings – yes, see that?  That one was from my only-ever attempt to stand at North Vilano Beach where the wave dropped me on the shells.  I like to call it “mine” but invariably it is referred to as “Granddaddy’s surfboard,” because everyone knows where it came from.  Christina tries to call it “mine” and Kimberly is starting to call it “mine” so maybe that is the official name, “Mine,” since I’m not done with it yet!  Honestly, we compromise; it is “ours,” and we all love to share it.

When our sardine can turned into the beach park north of the pier, the girls spotted Aunt Becca’s car behind us and started screaming, “Yeah! Aunt Becca!” and “I see Grandma’s hair!”  Lucas napped through all of this commotion.  We played musical parking spots until we found two side-by-side and the troupe tumbled out of the vehicles, hugged and squished each other in greeting, grabbed their assigned items, and paraded up the walkover to the beach.  Lucas and I took up the rear, but Grandma stopped to help another little one.

Lucas spied Grandma.  “Mommy!  MY GRANDMA is HERE!!”  That woke him up!  Anastasia ran past and he squealed “my ‘STASIA!”  Now squirming with excitement, he heard my sister.  “Mommy!  Grandma!  My Aunt Becca HERE!”  He didn’t get down, but twisted around to see her.  “Mommy, THE BEACH!” He yelled as we started going down the walkover steps.  He then announced to everyone else who chose to hear that he was at the beach and named everyone he came with in a very quickly smashed up string of excited words.

Set up was fast and the children launched into the ocean in twos and threes while the adults paused to relax and say hello in the shade.  Lucas discovered Anastasia’s sand toys.

Jillian and Anastasia hit the surf on boogie boards.

One visible head is part of the three heads in the distance belonging to Jaquline, Kimberly, and Rebeccah.

Christina took the surfboard out and after a couple of rides to discover the safety of the sand bar and how shallow the water actually was.  She started giving tandem rides to the older girls and “baby wave rides” to the littler ones.  Mom got to tow the middle ones out one at a time to catch waves.

When everyone paused to refuel, the surfboard doubled as a comfy sand-free bench.

We enjoyed rain in the water and played shipwreck.  The two littlest were in a boat, the others on boards, and Rebeccah, Christina, Aunt Becca, and Mommy guiding and swimming out “in the deep” just before the sandbar.  We pretended we were shipwreck survivors trying to navigate the waves (as if there wasn’t a beach 20 feet away) and keep each other afloat while Grandma watched for approaching ships and held down the fort. (Quite literally, as the wind was picking up the canopy!)  Christina, Jaquline, Anastasia, and Lucas built a big hole in a tide pool and played like the Funny Sisters in Sisters at the Seashore. (Lucas kept jumping in it!)

Join us next time, another adventure awaits!  (And everyone slept all through the night!)

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

Meet Granny Pecan

August 12, 2017

Meet Granny Pecan

Deep in the Wooded Lands but not too far from most of us, there lives a tribe of furry squirrels known as the Landmark Tribe.  They spend their whole lives racing through trees gathering nuts, berries, and other foods to eat and to store for winter.  The whole tribe works together to keep healthy, grow strong, and raise their squawlers.

Granny Pecan is the wise woman of the tribe.  Although she would laugh at such a title and say “I just speak through my lens of experience so you avoid my mistakes,” Granny Pecan is a sweet, thoughtful, grandmother squirrel loaded with tips, tricks, and wisdom.  The other squirrelesses in the tribe come to her often for all kinds of mothering advice, especially regarding Crunchies (teenage boys) since Granny Pecan and Grappy raised six of those!

She is a baker.  Oh, what a baker!  It is the opinion of every male squirrel in the Landmark Tribe (and maybe all of the Wooded Lands) that Granny Pecan’s hazelnut pie is a golden slice of heaven.  Rumor has it that her second son, Big Oak, loved her hazelnut pie so much that he named his daughter Hazel because of it.

Granny Pecan often snags one or more of the Crunchies to help her gather items.  This is what happens to Chip in Busting Berry Bath.  You can read more about Granny Pecan in any of the Landmark Tribe books!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

Conquering Ticks

August 10, 2017

Conquering Ticks

We live on what we call a tiny farm.  It’s just over an acre.  It was abandoned before our landlord bought it, spruced it up, and cut down all the brush.  When we arrived in April, we discovered that a twenty-foot walk from our carport to the front step attracted lots of ticks!  Not the big, easy-to-see dog ticks, but tiny ticks the size of a period!  (Yes, some are so small they can fit on the head of a sewing pin, the girls have tried it – they also are fascinating to look at under a microscope because the light goes through them!)  Some were slightly bigger.  (No, we’ve never taken pictures of them!  We are usually inside when we find them and we smash, burn, or flush them, instantly!)

Research taught us these were a variety of deer tick.  The small ones are called “seed ticks.”  In part of the tick’s life cycle, they are newly emerged in their tick form (small adult form) and need just a little blood to finish growing.  So they bite and release.  The duration of this bite is between ten minutes and an hour, so sometimes we caught them and got them off.  We got very adept at distinguishing tick bites from the bites of other minuscule horrors of Florida, like sand gnats, mosquitoes, fire ants, and yellow flies.  We all know that ticks attach themselves once they are full adults.  (For this variety, full adult size is about 1/8th of an inch in diameter – the size of a small print “o”.)

I hate ticks.  (Who doesn’t?)  I don’t like pesticides.  (We want to eat food from this yard!)

Luckily, I have chickens!

Chickens are opportunistic omnivores (aka, scavengers).  This means while most people envision them eating dry seeds and corn, they actually have a palate that inclines them toward consumption of living organic material such as insects, microscopic organisms, fresh new plant shoots, and anything moving that is small enough to fit in their beak.  My chicken flock has always been known to hunt actively for mosquitoes and flies.  (Yes, they run along under the flying insect and jump to attack once they perceive catch is possible.  Several times they have smashed into a fence or wall while hunting in this manner.  Side-effect: human entertainment.)

Roosters (grown-up males) seem to find ant larvae a delicacy and get all excited digging up ant beds and telling the others, “here, some awesome food!”  (A few hens join in this feast, but others look at the ant-larvae-loving chickens with “eww, gross” expressions.)

Our laying hens (females) and breeding roosters stay in the covered henyard.  Our “biddie-babies” (the girls have made-up terms for every stage; this is newly hatched to 6 weeks) and “baby-toddlers” (6 to 10 weeks) share the brooding pens so they can be protected from rain, draft, and heat in the pre-feathered chick stage (biddie-babies) and to protect them from our area’s population of kites (beautiful, small hawk-like birds who hunt young chickens).  The “big toddlers” (10 to 15 weeks) and “teenagers” (15 to 24 weeks) roam near the henyard because they are too big for the kites to carry away.

They will forage all day for insects and leave the free-choice feed completely alone.  They stay within about 25 feet of their water source at all times (during or just after a light rain, they may wander a bit farther, but not normally).  They LOVE seed ticks!

Within two weeks of our natural pest control plan, we could walk to the carport with zero ticks!  Within a month, the strip of back yard where we hang clothes and the kids play was nearly tick-free!  It’s been five months and they have cleared an expanded circle that includes parts of the front yard.

(My bulb beds helped grow the circle as they love to eat insects that eat the bulbs and the plants hold dew.)

Slowly, our chickens are conquering the tick population in the rest of the yard!

In closing, if you have a tick problem and don’t mind chickens scratching through your plant beds, maybe consider a pest control plan that rewards you with organic fertilizer… and eggs too!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

 

Imagination Playtime

August 8, 2017

Imagination Playtime

This morning was a surprise of miniature proportion.

First off, when I stumbled into the kitchen to start my coffee at 5:20am, my preteen was awake!

Secondly, the playroom was spotless (toyacts was creating a few new videos in the playroom the previous night).

This sparked an idea.

“Let’s play legos, want to build something together?”  My suggestion was met with rocketing jumps where my five foot tall eleven-year-old banged her head on our roof.   “Yippee!  Ouch.”

We discussed all things building; like which pieces came from which sets, which sets were missing pieces (thanks to the vacuum, Sheba’s mouth, or teething younger siblings; Rebeccah is the lego master and knows where everything went – much like me with my childhood bricks), and whose head and hair I had mismatched on my mini-figs.  (Once, I had Elron’s hair with Commissioner Gordon’s head, the result looked like a sweet old lady to me.)

Our building progressed to a tree fort with crazy entrances and exits, three towers, complete with the tallest one having a princess locked inside where her puppy is trying to save her while the Barbarian ax man is considering Chinese food. (See picture, if you can find it!)

The blue magician conjures up a storm and an adventurer seeking the everlasting flame (in the bowl, middle, second tower) will accidentally be shot by a kid bowman’s awry trick shot from the top of the bridge.  We goofed off until it was almost lunchtime.  The girl elf hair ended up paired with a repaired face that looks like it has feathery bangs to make a crossbowman.  (She was going to be an archer – my favorite – but the hair wouldn’t fit with the quiver and I couldn’t have her without ammo!)

I love delving into imagination (last night it was duplos to build tunnels for Lucas’ train and car tracks) and discovering how my kids’ brains see problems.  Building blocks bring that out.  They help teach children to think around their problems (yes, that they created, like “Mommy, I want two cars to go under it!” Jillian, last night.  Or “How are we going to camouflage this huge tree fort effectively?” Rebeccah, today.)

Oh, and don’t forget the sharks patrolling the island fort (notice the blue water on the plates?) as Rebeccah claims the most important part of any lego set are the critters included.

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart

Meet Eloi

August 7, 2017

Meet Eloi

Eloi Malikama is a sweet, friendly girl who was orphaned at a young age.  Among the Swavarians, orphans are usually taken in by relatives, but some are recruited by the Warrior-Spirit schools.  Eloi had a teachable talent – she had already been taught basic healing and understood on a basic level the special connection between the medicines in the world around her and the intricacies of the human body.  This made her a desirable asset for a training school.  She was recruited into Ja’hline.

Eloi doesn’t remember her parents or birth village.  Her memories start in Ja’hline.

She is discovered to have another talent; The Second Sight.  This is an inborn talent, few possess it, but when discovered it can be a powerful tool.  Often Eloi sees things about the people around her and sometimes can interpret what these viewings mean.  Eloi’s viewings warn her there is death about a new student – and she quickly perceives him as someone to stay away from.  His strange manner clashes with the culture of Ja’hline.  But soon she sees his faith and realizes he is not as she perceived; rather he is attempting to conform as best as he knows how.  Eloi becomes his friend.  But the death-about-all-around-him viewing stays.  She now pretends it doesn’t exist.

Eloi is strong-willed and usually practical.  She is fiercely loyal to her friends.  She is trained Klnu’mori, but despises the secrecy of it.  Her tendency to follow emotion rather than reason is balanced by another friend’s analytical logic.  Ryn, trained Klnu’mori as well, constantly reminds her of the one vow she made.  She cannot break her secrecy until one specific question is asked.  She hates this charge because she was told it would cause pain.

Eloi loves passionately.  Her friends are her sisters and brothers.  She protects without consideration for herself.  She gives without thought.  Although she is a Warrior-Spirit, she does not see how her small ability can help her friends in their quest; all of them have greater powers than she.  What she cannot see is that her brilliant love is the tool that can pull one heart from the danger she has always seen.

Sometimes we cannot see how powerful we truly are.

Read more about Eloi in “Web of Deception.”

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart

Doing the Boogie

August 6, 2017

Doing the Boogie

Wild edge of tropical storm winds and the distant threat of rain do not deter my kids (or me) from the ocean!  So with a scrap of time before dusk, despite the rain (we’re going to get wet anyway) we were the one crazy group playing on the seashore.  There were three or four surfers and a couple in bathing caps with frog flippers who would walk way north of us, swim out, and less than ten minutes later be south of the pier!  I pointed them out several times as an example of the strength of the ocean.

We like to stand in the edge about ankle deep and let the ocean yank the sand around us, bury our feet and ankles, and giggle at how far we move.  The bigger girls get about knee-deep and toss themselves into the breaking surf.  It’s fun, sandy, and exhilarating.  Jaquline, Jillian, and Lucas divided their time between building wet sand forts, watching the rain wash the shells into the wave’s path, and “doing the boogie.”  According to Jillian, this is lying on a boogie board in the sand and waiting for the wave to pick you up and swirl you around for a few seconds while you scream.

We get to play until the first lightning bolt shows up or when it gets close to dusk.  Everyone watches for lightning.  Three other kids joined our group and they spread out like squealing smidgens jumping into the tumultuous white water.  We always talk about the ferocious power of the water on days like this.  One of the girls inevitably drones “see the power of water” in a deep dragon voice.  They create obstacles for it out of shells and sand.  They watch the waves rip entire mountains of sand like a hungry vacuum and suck it out to sea.  They are doing construction near where we play so even bits of rock are grabbed and siphoned out to sea.

Rebeccah says the ocean reminds her of God’s power.  It’s vast, almost everywhere.  Over 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered in water.  It can be calm and friendly and is the safe harbor for thousands of creatures.  It can be rough and destructive – nothing can stand in its way.  But after the destruction, the beach is always better.  Cleaner.  Smoother.  She says it reminds her of how when we surrender our mess to God, He demolishes it and restores something better than what was before.

I love that thought.  The ocean always astounds me.  I respect its power and love its beauty.

Lucas sees fun.  That is all.  He sees “doing the boogie.”  Of course, on wild windy days, he only “does the boogie” board with Mommy or big sister holding his back and the boogie board string.  Lucas has such trust and he doesn’t need to analyze everything to appreciate it.  Sometimes I wish I could step backward into that trust.  Turn my analytical mind off and just bask in the fun.  Sit on a boogie board and giggle when the waves try to move me.  Okay, maybe that just works for those who can’t order off the big kid menu yet.

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

 

My Illustrators

August 3, 2017

My Illustrators

I love to write.  When it comes to drawing, I’m not an artist.  So when I’m ready to finish a story, I enlist the aid of my team of illustrators.

The latest releases, “The Mystery of the Strange Chip” and “A Clue in the Barn” were illustrated by a team.  Christina Tart sketched the design and Kimberly Tart used her new favorite medium, pastels, to color it in.  They turned to a computer editing software package to add text for the design.  The results are the new covers for what they call “old” stories.  (Old, well, they were written when I was dating and just after I was married – so they are older than the illustrators!)

It’s interesting for me to see what my illustrators come up with when they draw.  Sometimes what they see is not what I would have seen, but it’s usually much better!  When Ann Pearson (one of my little sisters) illustrated for “Long Tail” her images of Long Tail and Red Hawk looked different than what I pictured, but they were so perfect for the series!  Those images were colored by Christina and Rebeccah.  Crayon drawings gave the perfect texture to the childish, fun, read-along Long Tail stories.  (Ann’s running farmer was just perfect – you can see him in the DVD book and handmade book versions.)

Another new release is “Sisters at the Seashore” one of the Five Alive: Stories of the Funny Sisters.  Jaquline did her first illustration job on that!  She’s excited because “now I’m published too!”  Christina thinks it’s neat that their names show up on the ebook websites as illustrators or colorists (depending on their role).  Rebeccah loves getting commission on her work!  (I pay my illustrators 10 to 50 percent commission depending on the number of illustrations in the work.  The “Jilly and Luke’s Block Adventures” are 50 percent commission works because they are picture books – an illustration almost every page!)

At one bookshow I did, a fellow author expressed interest in my illustrations.  Her favorite was “The Living God” because she claimed the “abstract art is amazing” and she commented that it looked like the open jaws of a lion.  I’d honestly never seen it that way, but now, I can’t not see the open lion jaws when I see the book cover!  I previously just saw it as colorful geometric shapes.  (Christina’s favorite book cover illustrations appear to be random flowers, geometric designs, and scrollwork.)

As of the latest release, I now have five illustrators on my team: Ann Pearson, Christina Tart, Rebeccah Tart, Kimberly Tart, and Jaquline Tart.

Oh, and Jaquline’s second book cover illustration will be published shortly too – she redid the cover for “Birthday Present!”

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

Meet Jordan Binak

August 2, 2017

Meet Jordan Binak

We’re going to meet another fictional character today.  This one was created over 20 years ago!  Often when authors create fictional characters, they pull from themselves and add strengths they want.  If you study Charles Dickens, you learn that the character of David Copperfield has many traits and experiences that Dickens actually had.  Of course, the story is fiction, but the lead character is very close to Dickens.  I think of this as a “masked cameo” – like when a movie director has a cameo appearance in a film he directs.  Only in a book, since the readers may not know the author personally, the author can give his “masked cameo” a larger role.

When writing “Web of Deception,” I used many friends and family from real life and masked them or blended them together to make my characters.  (Don’t tell anyone!  And, no, I’m not saying who is who!)  Jordan was how I envisioned my character with his backstory.  Strong, bold, self-sacrificing for others, humble, frustrated, confused, content, fearless.  (Actually, he sounds like any teenager!)  I would work out the story in my backyard, acting out each part until I was satisfied with the way each sub-story played out and how the characters acted.  (Quite a lot of it was chopped later, or rearranged, just like a movie!  And my dog, Lady, was my first-ever audience.)

Jordan gets most of his character from his birth family.  This foundation is built upon by the family who takes him in.  He credits most of his character to his sister, who he looked up to and was always trying to be like.  He doesn’t realize it (most young people don’t until later when they choose to analyze themselves), but even his perception of others is influenced by his childhood village.  As a youngster he enters a military training school.  This is common in the World of Kings’ province of Swavaria.  Their Warrior-Spirits begin training between three and five.  Jordan enters “late” at seven and a half.

When he’s graduated from this school, he finds himself thrust into a twisted quest he knows nothing of.  This quest will answer more questions and touch more memories than Jordan knew he had.  “Web of Deception” was written using my “step in their shoes and walk around” model that I use for most characters.  Being that Jordan was my first protagonist (lead character), I discovered that when I was frustrated, it was easy to write confrontation and fight scenes. When I was calm, it was easier to drift to other characters and develop them.  This made for a great release of frustration!  I’d just turn whatever was bothering me into the creature Jordan happened to be fighting!  (This was a major stress-reliever!  When I created Kvortee, I was envisioning a bully we’d just dealt with.)

I completed the first draft of “Web of Deception” when I was fourteen.  When the first edition was published, the ending was cut, so this second edition contains the full ending!  Enjoy!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

Filling Big Shoes

July 31, 2017

Filling Big Shoes

We are always trying to be like someone.  Lucas is two.  He is always trying to do “like Daddy” or “like Becky” (what he calls Rebeccah sometimes) or “like you do.” (that can be anyone)  When Daddy got his hair cut, Lucas wanted “Daddy hair.”  When Jillian is coloring, Lucas wants to “color like big me.” When Christina is cooking bacon – BACON!  Lucas pulled out the bacon from the refrigerator before Christina had finished putting the pan on the stove!  He was jumping around, yelling “BACON!  My BACON!”  (We’ve never seen him this excited over food since the last night we made popcorn.)  After discovering that the pan was too hot for him to play with the bacon, he ran through the house telling everyone “Tina making my BACON!” and jumped on Daddy yelling, “BACON!  Me eat BACON DADDY!”

Although we girls laugh, I see this passion for food rather neat.  Lucas does everything with 110% excitement and passion.  He likes watching Wild Kratts.  When that comes on he jumps up and down and yells, “YEAH!  Animal movie!”  (Actually, that can be any well-done nature documentary that shows actual animals – I can’t wait to show him “A Zebra in the Kitchen!”)  He dances with joy when he’s happy.  He wants to be like everyone around him.

We were getting ready for a date one night and Louis set his Sunday shoes down in Lucas’ reach.  (Lucas had a pair of black dress shoes that looked like Daddy’s.)  Lucas climbed into them and said, “my Daddy’s shoes!  My shoes!”  He walked around the house for a while telling the girls “Me Daddy in Daddy’s shoes.”  Of course, they played along with this asking, “Daddy, can I go…”  Lucas has learned to laugh and say “why?” with his lips stuck out.

In the way a child wants to be like their parents, grandparents, or big siblings, we should want to be more like Jesus.  It may be comical for us to see a toddler in big shoes, trying to fill them, but being woefully short, but in the same way, we do not start our journey of faith fully filling the “shoes” we perceive ourselves trying to fill.  We aren’t perfect.  We try to walk as close as we can to Jesus.  Our aim is to fill the “shoes” God has given us.  Our role, our mission, our goal.  Our life here is a gift and we should enjoy it with passion!

Sometimes it’s rather funny what type of thoughts I have when I watch my toddler on his exploration of life!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart