Saturday, December 26, 2015

A Most Peculiar Coincidence

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Image result for troll faces

Hello, readers!  I hope you all had lovely Christmases!  
Something very strange happened to me recently, and I just had to tell you about it.  But first, I have to set it up for those of you who know me only from this blog.
Image result for the berinfell prophecies the undergroundI believe I've mentioned a particular forum in the past called The Underground, which was run by the authors of a children's book trilogy called The Berinfell Prophecies.  (Good books, by the way- even if you're not exactly a 'child').  
This forum was not only my introduction to the internet world, but it was a very unique place, unlike any other forum I've experienced since then.  It was a close-knit community made up mostly of young kids and slightly older teens. The majority of us were Christians, or at least raised in a Christian home.  It made for a very kind, open, safe environment unpolluted by the junk that litters most of the internet.  
A lot of us were writers, and we began to share our work with each other.  Over the years, the forum evolved from its original purpose (which was to hype about the book series), and genuine friendships seemed to develop.  People grew up, graduated, and one even died in a tragic car accident,  all during the time that forum was in existence.  It was a very special place with many memories.

Not too long ago, that website was corrupted by some kind of site hack, and it was shut down.  The remaining members gathered together to form Whitehall Castle, a new forum.
Now, with all those unique relationships we built on that first forum, you can imagine that we often talked about meeting each other in real life, which was a difficult thing to do since we all lived very far apart for the most part.

Here's where the strangeness starts.

I work at a hotel, and I recently was asked to design a Christmas advertisemet poster.  To do that, my manager gave me her user password to the desk computer, allowing me to work with her setting.
When I opened up her web browser, what did I find bookmarked?  A link to the old Underground forum.  I couldn't believe it- because only a member who visited frequently would want it bookmarked. 
 Of course I asked my manager right away if she had been there during its time.  She said no- she had never heard of the book series before.  But she said that her settings were actually carried over from the previous Live-In who left before I started working at the place.  Her name was Sarah, but I don't know her last name.  She was an adult, so she must have been one of the older members.  Either that, or she had kids that lived with her and used the computer.  

Image result for troll faces facepalmCAN YOU BELIEVE THAT???   After ALL that dreaming and planning and wishing, a member of the Underground came so close, but still too far.  I'll never even know which user she was, since we all went by pseudonyms like Elethia, or Millard, or Leilani, or Aarthyn.  (-)_(-)

Well, there you have it.  A most peculiar coincidence.  Those of you who used to be members of that same forum will understand the irony of this.  

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-Emmarayn Redding

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Tag

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Sarah of Dreams and Dragons  has tagged me with the Christmas Tag!
This tag is pretty much the same as all other blog tags, so I shall simply begin answering the questions.  :D

Thanks for the tag, Sarah!  This will be fun.

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What is your favorite Christmas treat?

Hmm.... I really love snickerdoodles, and gingersnaps, and those peanut butter cookies with chocolate kisses in the center.  But there's this thing that we make that is a date stuffed with an almond, wrapped in bacon, and then baked.  Those things are SO YUMMY!  XD  I love them so much.  Which is funny because I never thought that dates were a thing that I would like.

Are there any special traditions that your family has to celebrate Christmas?

I don't know if we have anything terribly unique- but we do celebrate both Christmas eve and Christmas morning.  

How do you usually celebrate Christmas?

On the Eve, we get together with our Big Family- that's aunts, uncles, cousins, grandmas, grandpas, in-laws, and once or twice removed folks.  We read the Christmas story, sing songs, exchange gifts, and gorge ourselves on homemade snacks.  
On Christmas morning, it's just our immediate family.  We open our personal presents, have a lazy morning and a special breakfast, and basically just loaf around and use our gifts for the next few days until it's time to get back to work.  :)

Do you enjoy getting presents for your friends and family?  Do  you buy your gifts or go the homemade route?

I do enjoy giving gifts- I like to see their faces when they open their presents.  I especially like seeing them use the presents afterward.  I buy gifts and make gifts depending on who I'm giving to, and how much time I have.  I wouldn't give my uncles homemade gifts because they really aren't the sort who would find a use for paintings, wood-burnings, or crocheted slippers.   But my grandma and mom both love that stuff, so that's usually what they get.  

Is it cold where you live?  Have you ever had a white Christmas?

Oh yeah, it's very cold where I live.  North Dakota is classed as semi-arid.  Our temperatures swing between as hot as 100 Fahrenheit in the summer, and -40 or -50  Fahrenheit in the winter.  Most years we've got snow before Thanksgiving, and its almost thigh-deep by Christmas.  These past few years, however, we've had two brown Christmases in a row, which is freakish our standards.  This year is the first one that's been white in a while.  I'm very happy to have the snow back.

What's on your Christmas list this year?

Some books, The Hobbit:  Battle of the Five Armies Extended Edition, some raspberry-flavored hot cocoa packs, junk food, Girl With a Pearl Earring Soundtrack.  I'd also really appreciate some tall black medieval leather boots, but I have a large shoe size (Comes with being tall) and I wear therapeutic inserts, so it's tough for other people to buy shoes for me. 

What's your favorite Christmas song?

I love Oh, Holy Night! and What Child is This?, several Celtic Christmas tunes, including Suantrai and Don Oiche ud i mBeithil

(The first two songs were sung by my grandmother and my mom!  :D)

What is your favorite Christmas Memory?

It's hard to pick just one memory.  For the last several Christmases, I've been sick with the flu over the holidays! Not to mention, now that I'm nineteen I seem to have a harder time remembering specific Christmases.  But a couple of years ago, I opened up a present from my parents that contained a journal and a blank CD.  There was a note saying that it was representative of the money they were going to use to pay for my first book to be published, and my first album they would record.  It was one of the most touching moments I've ever felt- before that, I had been prepping myself to find a job and save my money until I could afford it.  But in that moment, my dreams were realized, and I very nearly cried.  And that's something, since I'm not often moved to tears!

What does your Christmas tree look like?

Here is a picture!  :D

What are you reading in December?  Anything festive?

No, nothing festive.  I'm still trying to get through Frank Herbert's Dune.  I'm ashamed it's taking this long, but to be fair I have been busy trying to complete illustrations for my fairy tale book.

Are you an organized little elf, or are you still shopping/preparing on Christmas Eve?

I'm usually done with my stuff by Christmas eve.  I like to get that load off my chest.  

How soon do you start getting into the Christmas spirit?

After Thanksgiving, definitely.  As much as I love Christmas, it can get tiring if I'm not careful.  

Do you make any Christmas crafts? Decorations? Send physical Christmas cards?

I almost always do paintings for my family members, either that or woodburnings.  I don't make cards often, but when I do I use watercolor to paint flowers and such.  :)

Here's a painting I did for my mom this year:  

What's on the menu for Christmas day?

Hors d'oervres, mostly.  Cookies, crackers, meat, cheese, fruit, salad, cake, egg nog, sherbet, pie, pickles, olives, you name it!  Last night, someone brought lazagna (which was awesome!) and a Puetorican ham roast.

What makes it FEEL like Christmas for you? (Weather, specific tradition, food, smell, person, etc.?)

Everything about it!  Snow, music, the kids' excitement, those Rankin-Bass holiday movies...

Do you have relatives coming?  Excited?  Nervous?

I have a lot of relatives that come for Christmas, but I don't really get nervous.  :)  I do like seeing my extended family members, since we hardly ever get together.

What famous Christmas character do you most identify with? (Scrooge, Elf, Tiny Tim, the Grinch, Santa, etc.)

Rudolf, because my nickname is Rudy.  They used to call me "Emma-rudy-toody".  

If you were to start a new Christmas tradition, what would it be?

I don't think I would add anything new to our traditions.  Though when reading the Christmas story, I would want to read a bit from Genesis about the Fall of Man, a bit from the old testament prophets, and finally the birth of Jesus Christ, therefore establishing the history and context of the event.  :)

What Christmas movie do you like to watch this time of year or what's your favorite?

The Santa Claus is a family favorite.  We watch it every year.  
On the years when I am sick with the flu, I watch The Man from Snowy River and Emma by myself. On those nights, I used to spend a lot of time on the Underground, hoping some of the members would be there to wish each other a merry Christmas.

What's your favorite Christmas book or book with a Christmassy part?

I actually don't have one!  I don't read many books that have a Christmassy theme.  Though I suppose Narnia counts, in a way.  :)

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And now, since it's already the evening of Christmas Day, I don't think I'll pass the tag on officially- but if you see this and want to do it, be my guest!  Consider yourself tagged.  I look forward to seeing your posts if you do.

-Emmarayn Redding

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Harry Potter Fanfiction: "My Name"

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It's been a while since I read the Harry Potter series, but the story is still fresh in my mind.  Indeed, the end left a great many possibilities swirling around in my head- so what was I to do but write a quick fanfiction?
I've also included some fan art I've done- it's not really an illustration for this story, but's it's got a few moments from it included.  

This oneshot takes place after the main story ends, but just before the last scene in the book.  Thus, there be spoilers here- but only about whether certain characters in the series live or die.  Now you have your fair warning, and I can now give you....

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Is Scorpius Hyperion Malfoy

I apologize for the low quality- I had to take a photo,
Instead of scanning it in as I usually would.
Scorpius gazed out the window of the family cariage, filled with a million thoughts and feelings regarding the building that lay just ahead:  that is, King's Cross Station.  Really, it wasn't just King's Cross Station he was thinking about, it was everything it stood for.  Beginnings, journeys, mystery, and most of all- Hogwarts. 
Scorpius heaved a deep sigh, trying to still his shuddering body and ease the apprehension in his chest.
Looking up to see his father staring at him with his cool, piercing gaze, Scorpius snapped to attention and sat up.
Seeing his apparent alarm, Draco softened his eyes just slightly.  
"Yes, Father?"  Scorpious said expectantly.
Draco tapped his fingers on a book he had been reading.  Taking a deep breath, he looked down before starting. 
"I want you to be careful,"  he said slowly.  "On this train, at Hogwarts, everywhere really."
He paused.  Scorpius waited.  
"It is likely that you will experience some amount of... difficulty... as you enter society on your own now."
Scorpius looked down, swallowing and fiddling with his shirt cuffs.
"You will be navigating a very difficult position in life,"  Draco continued.  "Because you are my son, you will have many enemies.  On one side, you are the son of a Death eater, a servant of Voldemort, and worst of all, a murderer and a torturer.  On the other side, the descendants of my former friends will consider you the son of a blood traitor and a coward."
"Yes, Father," Scorpius murmured.  "But..."  he hesitated.
"All those things... I know they're true, but.."  Scorpius sighed.  "That can't be the whole story, can it?"
Draco looked at him once again with that piercing gaze.  "It is."
Scorpius nodded, feeling his heart sink.
"But, whatever you do, I don't want you to be afraid,"  Draco said after a moment, tearing his gaze away from his son.  
Scorpius looked up, his eyes wide.  
"Don't be afraid,"  Draco repeated, "and don't give in.  Never let them make you ashamed of something you didn't do.  It's not a crime to be a Malfoy.  You can be proud of the name,and you can give us something to be proud of too.  Remember that."
"I'll try, Father."
"I know you will."
Draco leaned forward across the seats and put a gloved hand under Scorpius's chin.  "And remember that I- that you are are not alone.  Do you understand?"
Scorpius nodded, feeling his traitorous eyes fill with tears.  Shutting them tightly, he threw his arms around his father and hugged him with all his might.
Draco responded immediately, wrapping one arm  firmly around his son, and lifting the other hand up to stroke his hair.
"I love you, Dad,"  Scorpius whispered.
Draco smiled.  "Are you sure?"
Scorpius snorted, grateful for the distraction from his tears.  "Pretty sure.
"Good,"  Draco said, sitting back.  "I was worried."
Scorpius shook his ehad, looking out the window with a smile pulling at his mouth.  "Oh, Dad..."
"I love you too, Scorpius," his father returned quietly.
Scorpius dried his eyes.

After a moment, the carriage stopped, and Scorpius stretched his back.   Draco straightened his collar and adjusted his hair.
"Wake your mother, we're here."  
Draco stood and stepped out of the carriage.  Scorpius could see him putting on his "public face", cold and austere. Scorpius sighted.
Crossing the carriage, he stooped over the pale, sleeping form of his mother.  She stirred, and he kissed her lightly on the forehead.  
"Mother, it's time to wake up.  We've reached the station."
Astoria's eyes fluttered, and she gave her son a tired smile.  "So soon?"  she murmured.
Slowly, with Scorpius's help, she lifted herself to her feet and leaned out of the carriage, placing her hand in Draco's waiting grasp.  Her foot slipped on the step, and Scorpius gasped.  But Draco caught hold of her arm and swept her onto solid ground in the blink of an eye.
"Would you rather wait here?"  he asked under his breath.
Astoria shook her head.  "No,"  she said faintly,  "I want to see him off."  
She smiled at Scorpius.  "I'm fine, really.  Just dizzy today.  Come on, we'll miss the train!"
Scorpius smiled up at her and picked up his bags.  His falcon, Oberon, shifted restlessly in his cage.
"Shush, Oberon- someone will hear you!"  he whispered, casting a glance about and meeting his father's eyes.  
"Come along, now,"  he muttered to the bird,  "or like Mother says, we'll be late."
Balancing the cage carefully alongside his carpet bag, Scorpius set off toward Platform 9 3/4, his parents trailing close behind.
"Get ready, Hogwarts... Another Malfoy is coming your way!"

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-Emmarayn Redding

(DISCLAIMER:  I have no claim on the rights for Harry Potter.  All credit for the creation of this world and story go to the proper parties.)