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

 

Summer Storms

September 13, 2017

Summer Storms

We are an outdoor thrill-seeking kind of family.  So, what do we do when the winds die down and there is water everywhere?  (And the kids are stir-crazy because it’s been thundering for most of the outside-time hours?)

We go outside…

In our bathing suits…

And get muddy.

Sometimes we ride boogie boards on flooded lawns. (Last year we “boogied” where hurricane Matthew created a pool in our front yard that reached 10 inches deep!)  Sometimes we march through the trough of water in the driveway. (This year, new place, new storm, new water adventures.)

The screams of “I found a real pool!” happen when a puddle is more than 3 inches deep.

The big girls make a funny Lego video about Hurricane Irma preparedness.  (My favorite part was the guy in line behind the mini-cooper!)

The most fun after the storm  is discovering the unique toys in the yard (Like the two felled trees that became “teepees” covered in branches shed by other trees.)  and the new “swing.” (A grape vine attached to the maple tree but hanging enticingly low enough and sturdy enough to be used as a temporary swing.)

After a storm, especially a major one, I always try to help everyone focus on the positive.

Bored?  We can help the lady next door by cleaning her yard.

An oak tree is gone.  But it became a teepee! 

The chinaberry tree, a favorite climbing tree, split and fell.  But the leaves make a great mulch for the chicken yard and help reduce odor. 

The power was out for two days.  But we had plenty of maple and oak wood to grill yummy meats and tin foil to bake sweet potatoes!  And we had good no-see-um screens & strong, cool breezes!

We couldn’t get out of our street to go to work because of three big trees blocking the roads.  But that meant we could stay home and play every board game in the house!  (We shifted to the backlit electronics like Scrabble Twist and Catch Phrase once the sun went down.)

We thank God for family, for the opportunities to help others as they presented themselves, for teaching us to find joy in any situation, and for keeping us safe through all summer storms.

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

Lost in Translation: Awesome

August 30, 2017

Lost in Translation: Awesome

One of my favorite words is “awesome.”  This is because the prefix of this word “awe” first meant “terror.”  The root word in its original form has one meaning – “pain” (Greek achos) which translated into “terror, dread” (old English ege, eige, aege) When this translated into the Middle English spelling, “awe,” it still meant “terror, dread.”

Around the 1600s, “awe” began to mean “reverence” as well.

So during the majority of Elizabethan Literature, the word “awesome” meant “inspiring terror, dread, or reverence.”

In the turn of the 1900s, the additional definition of “amazement” was added to the root word “awe” thus creating a secondary definition for “awesome” that meant “inspiring amazement.”

Today, we generally think of the secondary modern definition, “excellent, exciting, remarkable,” when we hear “awesome.”

Our primary dictionary definition says “a feeling of reverence, admiration, etc., produced by that which is grand, sublime, or the like.” This is the most popular written meaning today, but as with many other words, the spoken secondary meaning is overtaking the written primary.

Most modern dictionaries list a “dated” or “archaic” secondary definition for “Awesome” that reads “causing awe or terror, inspiring wonder.” Some list an “obsolete” definition as “the power to inspire fear.”

When you read “the river is awesome” and the writing dates before 1900, it would have meant “the river is terrible, inspiring fear, demanding respect.”  This gives more weight than our current modern-definition thought of “the river, amazing.”

This word morphed from “pain, dread” (as in, “I’m scared to death of this power!”) to “excitement, amazement” (as in, “that is so beautiful, wonderful!”); “awe” has lost its dread.  The undercurrent of danger and respect has been washed out.

Just a little bit about our dynamic language of English.

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

Eclipse Adventure

August 25, 2017

Eclipse Adventure

This story all started about six months ago.

We discovered that there was to be a full solar eclipse!  Since the viewing area where we could see the totality of the eclipse was only a four hour drive away, we decided to take a road trip.

At just after midnight, in the wee hours of August 21, 2017, we loaded the last of the snacks, water, and spare clothes into the van and began our journey.

About 5:30am we pulled into a truck stop next to a Shoneys and woke everyone up in turns.  Lucas was already up, racing around the van expelling some magical two-year-old energy.  Mommy took Lucas and Jillian to the potty where, on the way out, Lucas spotted a policecar and shrieked “Wow!  Police car!  Cool car!”

Owner of said car (a tall, probable ex-football linebacker) growled playfully, “you noticing my car, buddy?”

Lucas played shy for a few seconds, then said, “Policecar, where green men?”  (This almost stumped me… until I realized this officer had a black uniform and our St Johns County officers wear green!) So I told Lucas this policeman wore black clothes instead of green, and yes, it was his car.  Lucas grinned at the officer, “police car!”

“High five for my cool car?” The officer grinned.  Lucas screamed “High five!  CAR!”  This made everyone laugh.

Since we were less than 5 miles from Santee State Park, our original destination, we found star constellations, played guessing games, and chatted about the science behind eclipses.

Finally, tummies growling like we had swallowed starving lions, we joined the small mob that entered the Shoneys as the sweet hostess unlocked the doors.  Even Lucas’ policeman friend had mentioned that it was a great spot for breakfast.

Breakfast was yummy!  Lucas’ new food word is “disgusting!” (Lucas was eating an apple and someone said “don’t eat the seeds, they are disgusting” so Lucas has this new word on continual repeat.)  Lucas would taste something, say “dis-gust-ing!” and chow down on said food item.  Lucas seems to think “disgusting” means “yummy.”  (Our waitress caught this two or three times and tried not to let everyone see she was giggling.)

Sip of chocolate milk.  “DISGUSTING!” Big grin and he drained the cup.  A mouthful of bacon.  “DISGUSTING!” and the rest of the bacon vanished from his plate, Christina’s plate, and Mommy’s plate. (We were his left and right neighbors.)  The girls would say “Mmmm!  Yummy!” in an attempt to make Lucas follow their example.  But Lucas is at the stuck-on-one-word-for-weeks stage.  Finally he heard the vroom of a big truck.  “BIG TRUCK” and that was the end of “disgusting” for a while.

We ended up in a huge parking lot next to a giant waterslide and pool complex about a mile from the Dollar General and Food Lion down a lovely sidewalk bordered with assorted wildflowers, quaint houses and yards, and huge pine trees.  There were a few scattered vehicles with others camping out in the wide open space.  The city hall had a much larger audience (an entire field of cars!) as they were doing music and entertainment leading up to the eclipse.

Including finding this almost 4 inch insect!

After a full morning of games, exploring, and resting, the moon began to slowly cover the sun!  Lucas napped up to the last ten minutes before totality.  It was amazing!  At first, we could barely tell through our dark glasses that anything was different, but within the next few glances, the girls cried out things like “it looks like a pac-man!” and “it’s an eye from the science book!”  We had read legends from various places and their favorite was one where the sky dragon swallows the sun but it burns the dragon up and reappears.

Through the glasses, half of the sun was gone.  Everyone jumped up to look again.  Between peeks, we hid from the ninety-seven-degree heat by ducking into the van with all the windows open, explaining and discussing the phenomena as it was happening.  Then it happened.  The air began to cool.  The colors of the cars and grass lost their vibrancy.  We grabbed our glasses. This glance was a few minutes before the total eclipse.  All of the sun was shadowed except for a sliver of a crescent.  The dark came.  Lucas had finally woken up and was playing with rocks.  All the girls and Mommy and Daddy got him to look at the sun – he was hooked!  He pointed out the stars (two visible planets in the sky) and the fireworks (lightning in the distance) and “Puppies!” (three or more dogs howling and whining)  For what seemed like an eternity, we listened to birds and insects who perceived it was night time.  Everyone was excited but quiet.  Then the shadow started to ease off.  The entire parking lot exploded in applause, whistles, and exclamations – praise, thanking God for letting the light come back.  Children danced!

We loaded up our van and headed out.  We excitedly replayed our video recordings, discovered stars in our photos of the total eclipse, sang fun songs, and chatted on and on about the fun experiences of the day.  Everyone agreed seeing the total eclipse was well worth the half-day drive.  We even started making plans to road trip to the next one!

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

Lost in Translation: replenish

August 20, 2017

Lost in Translation: replenish

I like translating old English into what I call “literal today-English” because 15th century England in which “old English” belonged was like another world.  Many words have changed meanings in small or big ways in 500 years!  It is really another language.

Consider this one word in study: replenish.

If you look up “replenish” in any dictionary today, you see “to fill again” – some huge ones may list a 2nd definition meaning as “to fill.”

In dictionaries printed before 1800, you will see only one definition for “replenish” and that will read “to fill.”

Usually, the prefix “re” means to do something again: refill, remarry, rekindle.  Fill again.  Marry again. Kindle again.  But you can’t do that with replenish because there isn’t a plenish.  Plenish again?  The “re” in this word isn’t a prefix at all, it’s like record, remnant, relax.  (I wonder about relax, though.  Could lax have been something like “rest” so relax could be rest again?  Subject for another word research report!)  (And, kindle doesn’t always mean start a fire today, does it?)

So words have changed meanings in 500 years!  Understanding that makes it easier to translate Shakespeare!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart