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

 

Enjoy the Journey

November 25, 2017

Enjoy the Journey

The world through the eyes of a 2 year old is amazing.

He spies Daddy cutting strawberries for a pie!  Lucas yells “yeah!  Yummy strawberries!  Red berries!   I eat?” and half of the strawberries destined for pie filling instead fill Lucas’ tummy.

On the way to Grandma’s house, 2 year old boy yells, “Mom! Look!  Big trucks!  One! Two! Three! Four-Five Big Trucks!”  (Everything from his mouth comes in two volumes: mouse-whisper or top-of-the-lungs yell )

Sometimes he helps me to slow down and enjoy the things I often take for granted… like time.  It’s easy to find fun in the chore when you share the wonder of a 2-year-old.  For instance: An attempt to transfer toddler chickens from one pen to another and they excitedly hop-fly off in all directions yelling “FREEDOM!”  Lucas giggle-screams and chases them around.  This turns the frustration into laughter and a lesson on counting as they scurry over to the day pen and wait for us to lift them in where the food is.  “One-two-three-four-five-six-seven-eight!” Lucas screams it all together as if it was a single word.

Lucas finds wonder and excitement in everything.  From washing dishes (he always wants to help) to being stopped by a train (one-two-three-four-five-six trains!), everything is fun.  Sometimes he helps remind me to enjoy life as it is presented to me.  Goals (finishing the dishes) and plans (getting to the produce market before it closes) are good, but enjoying the journey is just as important.

Stopped in slow traffic turns into “Dance Party in the Car” and the backseat is bouncing to “Pink Shoelaces” and “Rockin Robin” (two favorite oldies).  Lucas spots birds and shouts to tell everyone.  Rebeccah looks in her book and gives their names.  Taking in this special time is part of me slowing down and enjoying the journey.

I hope you join me in enjoying the journey today.

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart

 

“I am Lucas!”

October 9, 2017

“I Am Lucas!”

It had been a very hectic day!  As Christina and I sorted the folded clothes, I imagined how much money we would make if we designed a Roomba-type total-clothes robot.  You know, you would dump dirty clothes in a bin and this robot would suck them in, wash them, dry them, fold them, and put them away in the correct drawer.  (I was imagining coding for the brain and a lego technic body rolling around the house in an endless cycle – it would have to be powered by a rechargeable battery that plugged itself in at night so I wouldn’t forget to charge it.)

(With Christina’s cap!)

Lucas ran down the hall with lightning speed.  (On second thought, maybe I should just discover a way to harness 2-year-old energy to offset electric costs!)

He tapped Rebeccah’s knee.  “You are Becky!”  He screamed.  (He and his best buddy at church had amused themselves by yelling “I AM…” *insert toy, like BIG TRUCK, BLUE CAR, LITTLE PUPPY, etc.* This was the first “You are…” I had heard.)

Rebeccah, Kimberly, and Christina applauded.  Lucas loves attention even though he plays shy.  He ran into Kimberly doing dishes.  “You are Kay!”  (This is the sometimes-nickname the girls use for Kimberly.)

“He knows my name!” Kimberly laughed.

Jaquline stopped with an armful of clothes to be put away, “who am I, Lukie?”

Lucas got that crooked boyish grin. (She had said Lukie instead of Lucas!)  “You are BECKY!”

Jillian stopped gathering Lucas’ army of trucks that lined the hallway and laughed, “am I Becky too?”

“You are Prim!”  (This is Christina’s dog!)

Christina and Rebeccah laughed.

Jillian thought this was hilarious.  She started nudging trucks with her nose and yipped as Lucas raced past.  Lucas ignored the newly-discovered doggie and ran full steam back through the house.

He called out names as he touched or ran into people, “You are Ki-tina!”  (Best version of Christina so far.)   “You are Mommy!”  (Can’t really get that wrong; he’s been saying it correctly for a year and a half.)  “You are Becky!  You are Kay!  You are Jaqu-line!  You are Jillian!” This continued until the clothes were put away.  (The energizer bunny would run out of power before Lucas slowed down!)

Christina laughed, “who are you?”

Lucas giggled and yelled, “I AM LUCAS!”  This sound echoed off the hallway walls as he raced back into the playroom.

There is one little guy who knows who he is!  (Some of his energy does actually leak out to us; he can race through and brighten the mood of a whole room!)

 

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

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

Creating Darren

July 6, 2017

Creating Darren

One of the neatest parts about writing (for me, anyway) is creating people.  Maybe I take it too far, but I like to have elaborate backstories for everyone.  (For example: a character with a small part in “Web of Deception” has fifteen pages of notes on his family life, origin, habits, and history of how he rose to sit on the Myra’neen council!)  To give you some idea of how I create characters, I’ll give a simpler example:

Darren Blake is a member of the Grenadan Guards.  His parents own an inn in a small town two days’ travel from the capital.  His family consists of his father, mother, himself, and a set of twin brothers.  As toddlers, his brothers loved making muddy messes and rejected clean water.  Since his mother didn’t like mud in her inn, she would solicit Darren’s help in corralling and washing the twins every evening in the stable.  Darren hated this so much that when he left to join Guard service, he vowed he’d never wash a kid again.

Fast forward a few years.  Now Darren is a junior grade junior officer in the Guard ranks.  He is stationed at the underwater mining colony of Brantley Station.  He is low enough in rank to be unable to contest being placed “in charge” of Ethan when the pirate child is held in Guard custody until the council meeting.  Even though at first Darren appears just as callous as the majority of the Guards, his real character emerges as he realizes that Ethan is just as innocent as his own brothers.  Then Darren becomes Ethan’s guide, friend, and advocate.

I needed a character to bring the human side of the Grenadans into light.  This character needed to connect with Ethan despite being part of the Grenadan Guards.  In the long-term storyline, a positive connection early on was needed so that Ethan could reflect on at least one Grenadan as being good instead of evil.  As most of them, due to their militaristic viewpoint and cold, logical mindset, see orphans as weak links (unimportant, less than human) and are not in the least kind to Ethan.  In creating Darren, I had to take into account the lifestyles and culture of the Grenadans I’d created.  Darren would be, like all people, a product of his environment.

Darren appears only in the last half of Pirate Child and in the first chapter of Little Thief.  His character was also created to be temporary.  He is in Ethan’s life for less than two months.  Although his time spent is small, his impact on the way Ethan views the station is large.  This part of fiction is just as in real life.  Sometimes our connections with others may be very small (a nurse in an ER, a man on a bus, someone we stand in line with at a park, or a passing stranger who smiles at us when we are sad) but we remember them forever.

Be sure to check out Ethan’s story in the Brantley Station Saga and keep your eyes open for one short-term character named Darren Blake.  Ethan remembers him forever.

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

 

Baby Mode

June 20, 2017

Baby Mode

Babies have several levels; there is no-sleep level, walker level, mobile level, and want-to-be independent level.  Then they graduate into toddler level and you’re off to the races.  Really, off to the races begins with baby’s birth.  When you hear Momma yell: “It’s time!” the race is well underway.  There are endless modes baby can choose from as well.

Random strangers say “Oh, your baby is so sweet!” but as soon as they turn the corner “Angelic Mode” shifts into “Cranky Mode with supersize red food dye on top.”

My personal favorite is “Grandma Mode” – this is characterized by sweet, innocent faces and nuzzling into lots of adoring hugs and kisses.  It makes everyone go “Awww how sweet!” then it’s time to go.  “Tell Grandma bye bye,” – cutest little wave and shy away ever!  But as soon as you drive off, “leaving fun mode” comes on and it’s ferociously scream “I want Grandma!” at the top of his lungs.  (This is related to “Auntie Mode,” “Bestest Uncle Mode,” and “Cousin Mode”)

“Snuggle Mode” is nice.  This always turns on when mom, dad, or big sister has something vital to do (like make food, do schoolwork, or remove the insect that is causing the dog to break the sound barrier).  Baby enters snuggle mode and the world stops until he is really asleep.  Don’t ever try to lay him down while in “Half-Sleep Mode” (this is where your stemware shatters with the ear-piercing squeal announcing that he had not received enough snuggle time)

“Goofy Mode” is the most wonderful of baby modes – and this mode continues into teenagerhood.  This is when anything and everything from “Boo” faces to tummy tickles to doggies kissing sister’s feet makes baby laugh.  Not just a little chuckle, but a deep belly laugh that makes everyone else in the house laugh too.

Laughter is Baby’s superpower.

Sometimes even in “Total Demolition Mode” laughter emerges.  Mom can be cleaning up one mess as baby is making two more yet when she sees the marker masked bandit excited to show her his masterpiece of tape and sequins decorating the couch, Mom just can’t help but laugh.  (Maybe a bit of insanity laughter, but still laughter.)  Of course, those stories make everyone at the family reunions laugh (or the lady’s group, church, PTA, etc.)  This is because anyone who has experienced baby knows the memories are what you carry with you.

God has entrusted us with His little angels (they are His first) for a short time.  18 years goes by so quickly.  Before you are done cleaning up messes, your baby has toddled off to school and instead of screaming because he’s hungry and can’t express it, he is asking for the car keys.

Enjoy the baby levels, different modes, and ages of life.  Remember that laughter can turn any situation into a happy memory. Who knows?  An artistic mess might be framed and remain part of the wall to show your Grandchildren, “see, this is what your daddy did to my wall when he was your age.”

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

Trucks!

May 22, 2017

Trucks!

     Lucas is almost two.  He loves trucks.  He loves food.  While all of the girls had “Dada” as their first word, Lucas heard the air popper and screamed “Pop-pop!” running into the kitchen with his popcorn bowl in hand.

Currently, his newest craze is yelling on the condition of the trucks that pass his window.  At home, it’s just the UPS or Fedex trucks (BIG TRUCK!) and Grandma and Papi’s trucks (PAPI TRUCK!) which enter the yard.

We had a friend riding shotgun.  She says hi, but Lucas pretends he’s shy.  A garbage truck goes by.  A squealing yell erupts from the second row, “BIG TRUCK!”  This is followed by two “PAPI TRUCK!” yells, an ear-shattering “RED TRUCK!” shout and a Publix big rig.  Huge gasp, “BIG, BIG TRUCK!  MAMA BIIIIIG TRUCK!”  Shotgun is laughing hysterically.

This boy can spot a policecar with lights off a mile away.  Those are “Woo Cars!” or “Please Cars” since he can’t clearly say “POLICE.” (This made an officer smile and give him a toy car at the Family Fun Fest – “WOW, PLEASE CAR!”)

Any toy with wheels is “my truck” or “my train” or “my car.”  His daily exercise includes fifteen miles of running behind a wheeled toy sputtering “rrrrrr” or “brrrrRrrrrr.” (If it looks like it should have wheels but doesn’t, he will pretend it has wheels and push it all over the house instead; examples are empty boxes, pillows, toy boxes, baking pans, and chairs.)

Today he discovered two of his wooden trucks in the last of the moving boxes and was cradling them yelling “yeah! My trucks!”  Scattered around him and overflowing his car shaped toy bin are probably two dozen assorted vehicles, but these were missing for almost two months and now demanded all of his attention.

What was lost was now found.  God does that when we come back to Him.  He loves each of us tremendously – He sees us coming from our “far-away” place and runs to us.  Like we are the only person in the world.

Isn’t it neat what images God puts for us to connect to His love?  A little boy with his trucks reminded me of God’s amazing love.

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~ Nancy Tart