The Shelly Seashore

September 4, 2017

The Shelly Seashore

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

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

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

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

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

Once, though, we saw a giant conch!

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

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

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

Meet Chloe

August 29, 2017

Meet Chloe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart

Slices of Stories

August 16, 2017

Slices of Stories

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

 

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

Mythical Horses

June 27, 2017

Mythical Horses

They say that in fiction, we don’t really create anything new, we draw on our memory of things we have seen to create something new: Like the Sevokloi in Web of Deception – they are like squids with reptile bodies (leather) adapted for a desert terrain and having two steadying legs like an overgrown insect.  I love creating creatures that don’t really exist.  I also like to pretend (in my stories) that other mythical creatures are real: like unicorns and pegasi. (The people of my world call them “skyhorses”.)

In our house, each of us have different theories on how the stories of mythical creatures like flying horses (pegasi) and horned horses (unicorns) came about.

My personal theory is that someone in ancient times came across a skeleton of a horse with a bone spear stuck through its skull.  Since it was bone, they thought it was part of the skeleton (maybe they’d never seen a horse!) and voila, stories spread of a horned horse!

For pegasi, maybe there were some pre-Ionian shepherds out when Elijah rose up to heaven (it says “there appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire… and Elijah went up by whirlwind to heaven”) and those shepherds said “Look Joe!  Flying horses of fire driving a chariot of fire!”  (tada, pegasi!) Then Joe says “maybe that’s how the sun goes across the sky.”  Boom!  Now there’s the Greek story of Helios driving flying horses in his flaming chariot.

Rebeccah thinks that flying horses and horned horses were mutants of the horse kind.  An isolated, now extinct, species of horse in ancient times used an overgrown tooth to dig the ground like cracker cows and wild hogs looking for food.  These were unicorns.  A few, eohippus sized members of the horse kind, flew-hopped about like archaeopteryx with tiny wings.  These ended up being called pegasi!

However you explain the origin of mythical creatures in fantasy stories, they do make the stories far more interesting.  (They also let us know that the story world we are entering is not real – so we can expect many strange things.)

I love mythical creatures.  I like pretending to create something new.  And it’s fun to theorize about how people created them.

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart

 

Building Katy Bear

May 30, 2017

Building Katy Bear

“Tell me a story about creation!” Pipes Christina.

“Animals!” bubbles Rebeccah.

So began a little story about a bear named Katy who wants to see God create something.  This story was told for about three years before I wrote it down because Rebeccah wanted to read it to her younger sisters.  We added Ralph Bear and the raven changed to a wise old owl. Ralph was added because the girls wanted Katy to have a brother.  Rebeccah said we had to change the raven to something that lived longer so it would be more believable.  (Animals talking and praying is believable, but an old raven isn’t)

They had lots of discussion about different birds but the owl won.  He could be very old.  Birds were made before mammals so he could remember God creating.  The Bible calls owls wise. Kimberly was the toddler when we wrote it down on paper (okay, typed it on the computer and printed it out) so Christina wanted another bear.  Rebeccah said bears have singles and twins, so a third bear wouldn’t really work.  Christina reasoned it was a fairy tale and anything could really happen.  We looked up lives of bears.  Because they usually do just have twins, Christina pointed out that this story takes place before the flood – maybe pre-flood bears had triplets and quadruplets!  Rebeccah wanted to know why bears would have more babies before the flood.   Christina’s reply was that they were obeying God’s command.

“Which one?”

“Being fruitful and multiplying and filling the Earth.”  Christina said, “that would easily explain why animals in olden days had more babies.”

“Mice live today and they have tons of babies.”

“That’s because they have lots of things that eat them.  Who eats bears?”

Well, that prompted some more investigation into the lives of bears.  We learned a great deal about bears in the few days while we wrote “Katy Bear’s Request.”  Christina and Rebeccah even bought a National Geographic DVD special on bears from the resale store because now they love bears.  (Kimberly LOVED watching this movie, along with the VHS tape about African lions – zoologist in the making)

I learned a lot about bears.  What I really like about researching for a book is that I can drag the girls into it too!  We all take a few days and launch into learning about whatever subject.  For Daydreamer, most of our knowledge was already there (farming, food without processed flour, community) but for Pirate Child, we dove into learning about “the deep” ocean; building challenges, what kinds of creatures Ethan would see, basic physics of underwater travel.

For Katy Bear’s Request, we learned about bears.  I always wonder what subject we’ll become “little experts” (as Rebeccah calls it) on next time!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later,

~Nancy Tart