Monday, December 26, 2016

Top Ten Lost Things I Wish I Could Find Again

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I was tagged with the "Christmas Character Tag" by Sarah of Dreams and Dragons, but I haven't had time yet to do it.  Even though it's past Christmas now, I'll still probably do it next time I have the chance.  
In the mean time, enjoy this list of things that sometimes keeps me awake at night.... 10 Lost Things I Wish I Could Find Again.  @_@

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Image result for fingers on piano public domain


#10 The Words to that One Song I Wrote...

One of the first songs I wrote was called (ironically) Forgotten Memory.  I had words for it, but I preferred the instrumenal version.  Now I've forgotten both the words, and the melody, and I'll never be able to get them back.


#9  Lily Baby

Probably my favorite toy from my earliest childhood years, Lily Baby was just a simple baby doll dressed in a beautiful white dress and pinafore.  She had a bonnet too at one point, though that was lost before the doll herself disappeared.  I remember, even in my little-kid-memory, that she was pretty discolored toward the end, so there's a good chance one of my parents is behind her eventual "retirement".  


Image result for gold ring with ruby and diamonds public domain

#8  My Ruby-Crystal Ring

 A pretty little piece of costume jewelry with a fake ruby and mock diamonds on either side.  This was the first pretty ring I remember having.  I lost it in a McDonald's ball pit.

#7  Emily Elizabeth

Another childhood toy, Emily Elizabeth was a life-size cloth doll in a pink dress with braided brow yarn-hair.  When I first got her, she had a miniature lookalike doll to go along with her.  I actually have a pretty good idea where Emily ended up.  She was mistakenly taken to a thrift store donation center by one of my parents, who (needless to say) felt horrible when they found out their mistake.  I forgave them of course, so all is well.  I hope some other little girl got to enjoy the doll afterward.  Though as I recall, Emily Elizabeth was missing a nose by the time she was taken, so maybe the thrift store didn't even put her on the shelves...  -_-

Image result for bible public domain

#6  That One Verse in Proverbs

Once I found a really cool verse in Proverbs that said something about a warrior who defended a city versus a warrior who waged war on another (or something like that), but I forgot the reference and I've never been able to find it again.  It's possible I imagined it and it was never there in the first place.  My fellow Bible-studiers out there may be able to point me in the right direction.  



#5  The Sisk 4 Necklace

When I was writing my first book, I gave my main character Nayrame a special necklace, a silver pendant depicting a rearing unicorn.  I had a similar necklace myself that served as the inspiration for it.  I call it the Sisk4necklace because these words were engraved on the back of the necklace, along with its twin, which I gave to my best friend at the time. After a few years of having it, I lost it at a Bible camp and despite many efforts to find it again, it has been lost ever since. I'm sure some kid picked it up and thought it was the coolest thing ever.  
The sad thing is, I've never been able to find another one just like it in any stores.  I've found others similar, but not the same.  Finally, not too long ago, I googled "Sisk-4" and found the same pendant on a different kind of chain, now valued at forty dollars plus shipping and handling!  I briefly considered getting it, but then came to my senses as I realized that $40 bucks is a bit much for such a small necklace.  0_o

#4  The Rest of My Enola Holmes Series

I'm not sure where the other books went.  I used to have the whole series, but now I only have the last book.  I last saw the series in a box I kept in the storage garage until I could get a new bookcase, but now they're nowhere to be found.  As you can imagine, this CHAFES ME GREATLY.

#3  My First Round of Checkbooks

What can I say? I had them stashed under my bed, safely away in one of my plastic totes.  Then, when I needed them after wearing out my very first checkbook, they were just... gone.  I have this nagging doubt in my mind that during one of my mad purging fits I threw the box out with other things I perceived to be junk.




#2  My Cat

Image result for beautiful short-hair cat  siamese public domainI guess he wasn't really my cat, but he was my favorite.  Angel was the most beautiful cat I've ever seen.  He resembled a Siamese cat, but with more patches.  He was perfectly proportioned, and had a face full of character.  His bright blue eyes were almost hypnotic in their intensity.  I'm serious, this cat could have made money in shows if we'd have only known his parentage.  He was clever too, unlike his mother Bella whom we affectionately acknowledged as a Supreme Ditz.  
Unfortunately, Angel disappeared on the eve of his adulthood.  Maybe a hawk took him, or a fox got him.  Maybe he took to wandering and decided not to come back.  Or MAYBE some well-meaning person saw him walking around on the farm and thought, "Hey, this cat is so pretty he doesn't deserve to be treated as an outside cat.  Come with me, kitty-kitty, I'll take good care of you!  Leave your silly mean masters behind, I have tuna!"
Alas, we shall never know.  But I did see a cat in the pet store recently that I could swear was descended from him...  

DUN-DUN-DUUUNNN!!

Image result for star sapphire ring  public domain

 #1  My Star Sapphire Ring

This one really galls me.  My grandpa bought a 10-karat silver ring with a real star sapphire set in the center when he received his very first Christmas bonus.  Fast forward to many-years-later, when he gave it to me as a gift.  I was so taken with it, I loved that ring.  I wore it often, and my friends at school thought it was so neat how you could really see a six-pointed star in the gem when you held it under the light.  But then one day, with no explanation, I couldn't find it.  I don't know if it was stolen, or if it just fell off in the snow somewhere.  I didn't notice when it went missing  because my finger had grown so used to wearing it I couldn't even tell when it was off.  We turned the house upside down looking for it, but to no avail.  
Now it's my plan that if I ever get a job where they give Christmas bonuses, I'll use my first one to get a star sapphire ring, and finally complete the circle.



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-Emmarayn Redding


(Images taken from the public domain)

Sunday, December 25, 2016

The Winter Wanderer: a Christmas Poem

The Winter Wanderer



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Dark, the tide of cloud stretched out

across the western sky

blotting out the twinkling stars

in the pale blue sea on high


A mournful wind was crying 'cross

the glistening snowy plains

ghosting through the pines and

stealing through the window panes


Emptiness, quite tangible, had

gripped the winter world

And frost in biting patterns

on the frozen trees was swirled


Then, with grim resolve he pulled

his patched-up jacket tight

He could see the shape of town ahead

in a line of dimming lights


Down a slope, so weary now

He stumbled backward twice

Every step now bound him

like a fetter to the ice


Oh, God above,” at last he cried

and to the ground he fell

On hands and knees he crawled

as if to flee the threat of Hell


I've wandered far against what I

have always known is right

And though I'm trying to return

I cannot make it through the night


If You have loved me as they say

then my soul at last be won

if You reach down to save me now-

'Thy will, not mine, be done'”


He stood, and swaying in the wind

He saw the wooden door-

a church stood there, he could have sworn

had not been there before


With a shout he tugged the unlatched door

and stumbled through inside

A praise from wind-chapped lips he gave

for warmth in which to hide


So through the night he slept in peace

his sorrows far away

And in the morning light he saw

a shining Christmas Day


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(Poem property of Emmarayn Redding.  All rights reserved.  Photo taken from the public domain)

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Beautiful Music: Codail a Linbh

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Codail a Linbh is a Celtic Christmas song.  Arranged by Michael McGlynn and sung by his group Anuna, the lyrics translate  beautifully to English with this simple Gospel message:

I worship you, my little child come on earth
Sleep peacefully, my child
I worship him, weak, naked and helpless
Sleep peacefully, my child
   
Tell me, my love, as you lie in the manger
Tell me why you lay stretched in the straw
You are a treasury of grace, and Jesus, Son of God
Sleep peacefully, my child
Sleep peacefully, my child
   
Mary, my mother and gentle nurse
Sleep peacefully, my child
I am a treasury of grace, and Jesus, Son of God
Sleep peacefully, my child
   
Desperately poor, I came with desire into this world
To save wandering exiles from death
And when I am suspended on high they will lean towards me
Sleep peacefully, my child
Sleep peacefully, my child



Saturday, December 17, 2016

Review: Charmed Life by Dianna Wynne Jones

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Image result for diana wynne jones charmed lifeAs a huge fan of Dianna Wynne Jones's "Howl's Moving Castle", I was delighted to find this highly intriguing-looking book on the shelves of my local book store.  I know it's almost Christmas and I shouldn't have bought myself a new book, but I just couldn't resist.   After skimming over the back cover summary I went straight to the checkout and bought it- which is something I hardly ever do with books.  
Usually I prefer to mail order my books only after I've researched them and read reviews, or if I've already read them from the library and want them for my own shelves.  This is mostly because I'm pretty choosy about what I read, and more choosy about what I actually want on my personal shelves.  If a book doesn't grab me, I don't want it, and it would be a waste of money to buy all the books that reguarly catch my eye!  ;)
But this book did not disappoint.  In typical Dianna Wynne Jones fashion, it had me from the first words of the first chapter, and I settled down in a rocking chair and happily stayed there practically until I finished reading it (aside from the part where I had to get up and dig my sister's car out of the snow when she got stuck...).

Book One in The Chronicles of Chrestomanci.  In "Charmed Life", young Eric Chant (or Cat) and his older sister Gwendolyn, are orphans.  Gwendolyn has a powerful gift of magic, and she's determined to become the most masterful magician she can be.  Cat watches as she hones her talents with admiration, but things go awry when his willful sister clashes with their enigmatic host and benefactor, the Great Chrestomanci.

PROS:  This book, though not connected directly to Howl or his bunch, is similar in feel.  The laws of magic seem to work the same way, though in this story we get to see it up close.  But Charmed Life is a bit darker in my opinion, but I won't get into why just yet.  
The characters were suitably whimsical and mysterious.  Cat was an innocent, trusting boy who was believably childish and naive, unlike most fictional heroes.  Gwendolyn...  boy oh boy, don't get me started on Gwendolyn.  The book is really about two people, and that's her and Chrestomanci, even though neither are the main character.  So if I were to talk much about Gwendolyn, I would be giving away too much of the story.  
My favorite character was probably Chrestomanci himself.  Distant and dreamy, kind, yet simultaneously terrifying, this mysterious character steals every scene he's in as you, the reader, try to figure him out.  I also very much liked his assistant, Michael.   (MICHAEL, you say??  Not A-Certain-Other-Michael-from-Ingary, is he?  I don't know...)

Like in Jones's other books, every detail counts.  There are clues hidden everywhere, and it isn't until you reach the end that it all makes sense.  I was extremely proud of myself for being able to predict one of the revelations, which I've never been able to do before in one of her books.  This isn't to say that Charmed Life is predictable, but rather that Jones did a good job of weaving the answer throughout the whole story, instead of just dropping it on you at the end.

CONS:  Like I said earlier though, this books is darker than the Howl's Moving Castle books.  Dark magic is played with here, and though it is most definitely shown to be evil and forbidden, the way it figured into the plot was very sad.  
There is a scene in which a group of characters attend a church, and one of them causes the stained-glass artwork to come alive during the sermon in an attempt to draw attention to herself.  This is set in a fantasy world, and no direct mention of God is made, but some people may find this offensive anyway.  The character is scolded and told that she went too far, but still.
Fortunately, there are no significant red-flags as far as the actual magic use in the book goes.  Magic words and incantations are mentioned, but not written directly.   A pentagram is mentioned to be painted on the floor of Chrestomanci's office, but that was the only objectionable element I noticed throughout the book.
Mostly, it is the nature of the great crime committed by the villain of the story that children (and parents) may find disturbing:
 ***BIG SPOILER***  
It is revealed that a beloved character who unwittingly possesses nine lives has been killed several times without their knowledge by Someone who should have protected them in order for that Someone to obtain the nine-lived-character's magic.
***END BIG SPOILER***
Aside from that, there are a few magical-apparitions that appear in quite a frightening manner.

OVERALL:

Charmed Life was a fun, exciting, quick-to-finish book with a great mystery and decent conclusion. Being book one in a series, the ending left you wondering what else might happen, but there are several other books I have not yet read.  The second book takes us back in time several years to explore the backstory of one of the most important character, so I'm looking forward to finding some answers there.
I would recommend this book to people 13 and up.  Adults can enjoy it as much as children, so don't be shy. Parents of young children should be aware that magic and the use of it is a major theme throughout this book, and it can be compared to Harry Potter, though unlike Harry Potter the magic words are not written out for readers to memorize.  
To people who loved Howl's Moving Castle, Castle in the Air, or House of Many Ways, this is the book for you!


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-Emmarayn Redding

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Madman of Elkriahl: Posters!

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YES!!!  With the final proof finally approved,the countdown for The Madman of Elkriahl and Other Fairy Tales has finally begun!   Physical copies will be available on Amazon in 3-5 business days, and my own copies for local stores will be available on Dec. 19th-  so now is the time to tell all your family, friends, and even strangers on the street if you want!

Here are some promotional posters that I will be putting up on Facebook and Google Plus.  If you're interested in this beautiful book, please share these on your blogs and whatever other social media you may have so that we can get the word out there.  

And again, I want to thank the people who helped to make this book from the bottom of my heart.  My loyal editors, and my family who encouraged me, my dad who helped me with formatting, text design, and so much more, Hannah and her amazing art skills, and of course- all of you, my readers, who have been with me through this whole process.  I'm so excited to be so near the finish line!  Thank you all so much.

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And here is the script for a banner hosted by MyBannerMaker.com for those of you who like the banner widget on blogger.  :D

<a href="http://mybannermaker.com" target="_blank"><img src="http://mbmfiles.com/Nov2016/161130-mIRymDKbg9CP.jpg" alt='Create your own banner at mybannermaker.com!' border=0 /></a><br>Copy this code to your website to display this banner!<br><textarea cols="40" rows="2"><a href="http://mybannermaker.com" target="_blank"><img src="http://mbmfiles.com/Nov2016/161130-mIRymDKbg9CP.jpg" alt='Create your own banner at mybannermaker.com!' border=0 /></a><br></textarea>


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Questions and Answers Tag!

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I've been nominated by Lover Of Lembas (or Nimrodel, as we call her,) for the Questions and Answers tag! Thanks, Nimrodel!

For this tag, I must...

-Tag the person who nominated me
-Answer ten questions
-Tag ten people
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Do you play a sport?  Is there a sport you want to learn?

No, I do not, and no... I don't really want to learn a sport.  Unless fencing counts!  I would actually love to learn fencing or other swordplay.

Image result for fencing inigo montoya



Sunrise or sunset?  Why?

Sunset.  I love to go out on cool nights and watch the sunset over the west hills.  Sometimes I bring my penny whistle and play a few tunes before going back home.



What was your dream job as a little kid?

There were quite a few.  I wanted to be an artist, an astronaut, a nurse, a spy, a librarian, and an author.  I picked the last two.  :)

Image result for library shelves public domain image
This is not actually the library where I work though...  ;)

What was the last movie you watched you really liked?

The Patriot!  Awesome movie.  Very violent, but a great story, and fantastically executed.


Image result for the patriot

What songs are stuck in your head?





What is something that makes you feel nostalgic?

Burnt peanut butter toast, the smell of old books, and the Chronicles of Narnia, to name a few.




If you were granted an extra hour to be added to your day (so you have 25 hours) what would you spend the hour doing?

Depends on my mood.  I might read, I might write, I might sleep, or I might waste it on the internet.

What is one of the most embarrassing moments you're willing to share?

I was home-schooled all my life, but I also took various classes at public school during my older years, including music, which my dad taught.
One time at the end of choir class, we were all supposed to put our folders back in their shelves, so all the students crowded around the shelves to do so.  I was walking directly behind my friend, who is significantly shorter than me.   Suddenly, she stopped in front of me, and I was walking too fast to stop.  I ran into her, doubled over, staggered to catch myself, tripped on the steps up to the shelves, staggered again, and promptly crashed into every guy left in the line trying to catch myself.

Several of them were cute.

And none of them tried to help me.

I laughed it off and put my folder away, and said nothing of the fact that it was totally my friend's fault.  Totally.

If you could customize your car license plate (for most U.S. readers, that means pick any combination of 5-7 words and letters) what would you want your license plate to say?

LUTHIEN

Rivers, lakes, streams, ponds, or the ocean?

Rivers.  :)




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Now for 10 questions of my own....


1.  What do you like best about the place where you grew up?

2.  What elements do you think were most influential in making you the person you are today?

3.  What fictional character do you identify with most?

4.  Would you call yourself an introvert or an extrovert?  Or possibly an ambivert?

5.  If you could be masterful in one skill, what would you want it to be?

6.  IF you were to be born in  a different time period, which period would you prefer?

7.  Where do you feel most free and happy?

8.  Do you dream of romance, whether present or future?

9.  And speaking of dreaming, what about your literal dreams?  Do you remember you dreams at night?  And if so, what do you usually dream about?  ( If this makes you uncomfortable, don't worry about it.  ;)

10.  If you were going to go down in history, what would it be for?

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And now I must nominate...

....ten people....


...umm...

Honestly, I'm scared that I've nominated people way to often for tags, so I'll do it this way.  If you're reading this, even if you're not technically subscribed to this blog, consider yourself tagged.  If you want to do this tag, awesome!  If not, no guilt.  :)  Link back here when and if you've done the tag, and I'll visit your blog to read your answers!  I look forward to hearing from you!

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-Emmarayn Redding

(DISCLAIMER:  Images taken from the public domain.  Except for the one of Inigo Montoya, which is taken from the Princess Bride.)


Monday, November 28, 2016

Beautiful Music: Luke and Leia

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(Spoilers for anyone who somehow has not yet seen Star Wars...)

This month's beautiful music comes from the master of filmscore, John Williams!  
"Luke and Leia" is the theme that plays when Luke first reveals to Leia her true identity, and the fact that he is, in fact, her brother.  This piece is both sweet and powerful, and emotionally charged, which is especially appropriate due to the circumstances in the films, with Luke preparing to go out to meet what might possibly prove to be his doom.  



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-Emmarayn Redding


(DISCLAIMER:  Music property of John Williams and LucasFilms/Disney.  No copyright infringement intended.)

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Ready to Fly Part III

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Hey, guys!  I'm here with another update on Ready to Fly!  Just a quick recap for ya-

Previously, ordinary hotel clerk and maid Leah Kestler had her night disrupted when she met an old friend from high school, Troy Davis, who revealed that he was an agent for a government agency called the Secret Defense, or S.D.  Before he had a chance to fully explain himself, the hotel was attacked by a group of deadly gunmen.  Troy and Leah fled to a nearby field, where Troy has hidden his trump card- a flying car.  
Now having successfully evaded their pursuers, Leah insists on calling her parents...





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Part III

Image result for small town at night

Heart hammering, I mopped the sweat from my brow and tried to pull myself together.

"Is something the matter, Leah?" my dad asked. How he and my mom always knew was beyond me. I thought I had my voice so well controlled, and then their darned but lovable parental wisdom would always cut right through me.

I swallowed nervously and nodded, forgetting for a moment that he couldn't see me over the phone

"Um... actually, yes. I have some bad news. Something happened, but the first thing you need to know is that I'm okay."

"Okay," Dad said slowly. I could practically hear the myriad of possibilities rushing through his mind.  

It's not too late- you could just make up a story and avoid all this... I bit my lip, torn.

“Tell him a guest trashed one of the rooms and you have to stay late to clean it!” Troy whispered loudly.

I hesitated.

“Tell him your car broke down and your sleeping with a friend or something!”

“Hello?” said Dad.

Taking a deep breath, I closed my eyes and ignored Troy's distracting whispers.

“I'm still here! Sorry, I'm just very distracted right now.”

“Maybe it'll be better if you say it very quickly,” Dad prodded. In the back of my mind I felt the humor of the statement; he was quoting one of our favorite movies. But unexpectedly, I found tears in my eyes.

“The hotel was attacked,” I finally managed huskily. “Gunmen came- tore the place up.”
Every word felt like lead on my tongue. I struggled to keep my tone straight and calm.

“What?”

I wished I could have seen the look on his face at that moment. Was he shocked? Was he laughing? Had he actually not heard? Suddenly, the words came like a torrent.

“I don't know, I don't know! They just came and started shooting-”

“Who? Are you okay?”

“-but we got away in a, a- a thingy! You know, the thingy that does the, uh,...” my traitorous brain refused to produce the word I was looking for.

On the other end of the line, I could hear my Dad struggling to understand and keep calm. “Where are you now? And who's we?”

“Troy is with me,” I paused, trying to reset my thought process.

“Troy? Like, Troy Davis?”

“Yes. I- AUGGH!”

I screamed as static crackled loudly in my ear and I ripped the phone away from my head. Scrambling to pick it up, I could already see that the call had been dropped.

“Crap!” I spat as I fumbled to redial. No signal anymore. I slapped my palm to my forehead and scrunched up my face, trying to hold back hot tears.

“No reception for me either,” Troy said quietly after a moment.

I sniffled and dried my eyes, shaking my head. “Bother it all...” I muttered. “I'm sorry, I didn't mean to break down like that.”

“ 'S okay. It's been a crazy night.” All the energy had gone out of his voice, and he blinked with bleary eyes.

I pocketed my phone and tried to relax. Blankly I stared into the horizon, wondering when I would wake up and find myself late for work. Ach, if only it were that simple! I closed my eyes and tried to stop thinking about it.

“Do you have any Kleenex in here?” I asked after a moment.

Troy paused, tapping his teeth together. “Uh.. maybe?” He fumbled around with his free arm for a moment, trying to open the center console. It was empty. So was the compartment in front of me, and the pockets in the doors.

I tilted my head back in an attempt to stop the slow drip from emerging in a most humiliating fashion.  

Troy hesitated for a minute and drummed his fingers on the wheel. He glanced down out the window and seemed to consider something.

“There's a fairly decent motel down there right now,” he said haltingly, as if not convinced he should be saying it, “and I think... I think it'll be okay if we stop.”

“Are you sure? I cad holt od still,” I managed.

“Pretty sure. We should be safe for what's left of the night.”

“Do you habe edough bodey? I cad helb pay.”

Troy shook his head. “I got it. Hold tight, Leah.”

He tapped the screen to his right and I could feel the vehicle shift. Slowly and gently he twisted the wheel until we began a tilted descent. My stomach flip-flopped and I squeezed my legs around the seat, enjoying the thrill of it despite myself.

Smoothly we swooped down toward the ground. There was a cornfield on the outskirts of the town that could provide some cover. As we sank slowly toward the ground, crushing several healthy young stalks of corn beneath us, I cringed at the high-pitched whistling sound the propellers made.
Then, quite suddenly, the noise stopped, and all the lights in the vehicle dimmed. Slowly, the hatch overhead slid open, and the cockpit depressurized in an instant. I closed my eyes, reveling in the cool, fresh air as it touched my face. Until that moment, I hadn't realized how enclosed I had felt in the peculiar flight-craft.

Troy pulled himself up out of the cockpit and stepped quietly into the field, keeping his head below the level of the cornstalks.

“Follow me,” he motioned with his hand.

I plucked a corn leaf and dabbed at my nose, which only served to make it worse. There was nothing for it- I used my sleeve and hated myself. I was thankful that Troy's back was to me so he couldn't witness my humiliation. Funny how years after a crush is supposed to have ended, I still cared about what he thought of my appearance. How stupid.

A minute later, we emerged from the field and strolled toward the town as if that was nothing unusual. And actually when I though of it, it probably wasn't, what the area being mostly populated by farmers.

Although I could see the light of the street lamps ahead, I was still very much aware of the darkness that surrounded us. I hung close to Troy, thankful that I wasn't alone, and thankful that it was a familiar face who walked beside me. In the middle of this crazy mess, at least it was someone I actually knew; at least marginally.

Finally, we came to the hotel. Troy stepped ahead and held the door open for me, and I flashed him a grateful smile as I passed. Spotting a kleenex box, I darted forward and proceeded to honk and snort unashamedly until I was sufficiently refreshed.
Thankfully, there was no receptionist at the desk to witness that particularly unsightly necessity. Troy picked up the phone and dialed the specified number for service. A moment later, a rumpled yet attractive receptionist emerged from a backroom and greeted us with a tired smile.

“Good evening,” she said. “Looking for a room?”
“Yes, two singles, if you have them,” Troy answered, winking at her and pulling out his checkbook.

“You're in luck.” The receptionist flipped open a book and marked our names down. I barely paid attention to the proceedings as I closed my eyes and massaged my temples.

So much for my hot-cocoa and book-writing... I thought ruefully. This whole night was beginning to seem like one big blur, otherworldly and fake like a dream. To think that a few hours ago I had been doing laundry and scrubbing toilets in a hotel much like this one! I had been in much the same mood as I guessed that receptionist was in- bored, weary, and ready to go home.
And how long before I get home now? I swallowed and tried to empty myself of the suffocating panic that kept threatening to rise. The police will come soon, I thought, and then it will all be over. You'll probably write a book about it someday.

“Leah?” Troy's voice snapped me out of my reverie.

I opened my eyes and saw him holding out a toothbrush for me.

“I got our rooms,” he said with an understanding smile.
I nodded and took the toothbrush and the key he offered. With leaden feet and an anxious heart, I trudged up the stairs behind him and found our rooms, which faced each other across the hall.

“Get some rest, and hopefully things'll be better tomorrow,” Troy said. He rubbed his forehead, and I could tell he was tired too. “And listen... don't talk to anyone tonight. Those Ronan Corp. guys will be looking for us, and you already saw what they're willing to do.”
“Yeah...” I said, my voice hardly above a whisper.

“Tomorrow I'm gonna get you to the S.D. headquarters, and they'll protect you. Trust me, you'll be back with your parents before you know it.”

“'Kay. Good night, Troy.”

He gave me a small smile and disappeared into his room. I could see the regret and apology in his eyes.

Part of me felt like it should be angry with him for dragging me into this mess, but mostly, I was worried. Not just for myself, what with trained killers after us, but also for him, and the fact that he was mixed up in this kind of thing in the first place. How could a guy like Troy- laughing, charismatic, class ham Troy- end up involved in a secret government spy agency? I mean, I'd always known him to be a bit of a daredevil, but this just seemed so... surreal.

I shut the door to my room and leaned back against it, letting out a long sigh. Shrugging off my coat, I hung it on a hook by the door and lined my shoes carefully. In a crazy situation like this, at least one thing I could control was the cleanliness of my room.
After a moment's deliberation, I settled into bed with my clothes still on. If I needed to flee during the night, I wouldn't be doing it in, well, you know.

God in heaven, I prayed before falling asleep, Help me. Help us. Keep us sa...

I must have fallen asleep before even finishing the thought, because the next thing I knew I was coming back to myself from a fugue devoid of dreams. I opened my eyes.

It was still night. I blinked, trying to figure out what had woken me. Sitting up, I looked out through the window at the moon, and became suddenly aware of a raised voice coming from outside.

In a flash, I was at the window, looking for any sign of our pursuers. But down below, the parking lot was empty. Except, I realized for one lone figure standing just on the edge of the light from a street lamp. It was Troy.
He was pacing back and forth, talking to someone on the phone. I couldn't make out his face, but I could tell from the way his shoulders hunched that he was upset. Every now and then his voice would spike, and I could hear his distressed tone even from my window.

Frowning, I squinted to try to see more of his expression, but it was no use. I licked my lips, wondering if I should be ready to run with him again.

But, quite suddenly, Troy pulled his phone down and hung up, shoving it in his coat pocket. Tapping his foot, he sighed and threw his head back toward the sky. Then it seemed like all the energy drained from him and his shoulders slumped. Shaking his head, he turned and reentered the hotel.

I closed my shade and got back in bed. There was no danger tonight, that much was clear. But as for what had upset Troy.... I would have to ask him in the morning.


* * *

-Emmarayn Redding

(Image pulled from Google Images)

Friday, October 21, 2016

Update on My Next Book

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As you may have guessed,  The Madman of Elkriahl and Other Fairy Tales encountered a bit of a hiccup in editing, resulting in a much longer delay in publishing than I'd anticipated.   But fear not!
 Work continues, and we're getting closer to our goal.

My latest proof was meant to be the last, however, something happened with the spine and back cover image during the printing process, resulting in an ugly, crooked spine.  :(  It was most unfortunate.  On the upside though, it will be pretty easy to upload a new cover file and get this thing back on track.  It'll be another couple of weeks while I wait for my third (and hopefully final!) proof to arrive, but once I've approved the exterior, everything else is ready to go!  

This has been an exercise in patience in my part, definitely.  But I'm glad the waiting working has payed off, and I'm looking forward to releasing this book at long last.  
Keep praying!  The Fairy Tale journey continues!

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-Emmarayn Redding 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Beautiful Music: Casper's Lullaby

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This month's Beautiful Music is by James Horner, my favorite composer.  I've never seen "Casper"  before, but I recently became aware of this lovely, magical piece that seems to vibrate with the same tone as my heart.  


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-Emmarayn Redding

(DISCLAIMER:  Music copyright James Horner)

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Meghan O'Bries: Part III

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Last time...

“It is not for human kind to divine the future,” Death said slowly, “but for your sake, in your dying moments, I can give you a gift.”

Now...

Taking hold of her shoulders, he turned her so that her back was braced against his chest and directed her gaze out the window.

“Attend carefully,” he murmured.

Meghan swallowed and looked to the horizon, where the hills seemed to roll on and on forever, until they were met by the pale, milky sky. But suddenly, that sky began to shift and twist in her vision, merging with the ground and drawing her in, so that the hut and the wooden panes of the window began to blur and fade. Meghan gasped and felt her stomach drop as her surroundings melted away in a blur, so that all around her there was nothing but vague, dancing colors that swished by like branches in a forest. She felt Death's grip on her tighten, and at once found a strange assurance in that firm hold. She closed her eyes, concentrating on the feel of him behind her, knowing that they still stood together in the hut, safe and on solid ground.

“Open your eyes, Meghan! Don't be afraid.”

Steeling herself, Meghan cracked her eyes open and took stock of her surroundings once more. To her surprise, the world had fallen back into place- but it was not the hut where they stood, rather it was the ridge that overlooked the village of Fainhearn, where Dairn and the rest of the Free Folk were preparing for battle.

She could see him moving far below through the tents of the soldiers they had gathered, talking with the generals at his side, patting the shoulders of the men he passed. Meghan smiled. That was Dairn, ever the friend of the common men, even when discussing the pressing matters of politics and battle strategy. If only she could see his face...

As if sensing her wish, he paused and turned, gazing toward the heavens for a moment in consternation. Meghan drew in her breath, noticing immediately the changes in his countenance. He was marked with grief- fresh and tender, as if he were mourning the loss of a dear friend. And yet, despite that, there was a cool, calm sort of resolution set deeply in his features, and in that moment Meghan knew without a doubt that he would be victorious in whatever battle was to come.

“It is for you he mourns,” Death spoke, his smooth voice slipping into the silence without causing so much as a ripple.

“Me?”

“What you see is the future.”

Meghan's jaw dropped.

Death squeezed her shoulders. “After your death and failure to arrive at the meeting place, your cousin Heich will search for you. Upon finding your body, he and his people will be outraged, and your death shall move them to align themselves with Dairn and his people.”

The scenery began to shift again, whirling into a battlefield, where the sounds of clanging swords and men locked in mortal combat rang out into the cold air. Meghan cast her eyes about for Dairn, and found him at last, in the center of the fray, swinging his broadsword masterfully, bringing down an enemy with each blow. He was blood-spattered and damp with exertion, but he showed no signs of slowing. His face was twisted with fierce determination, and in the falling snow he looked every inch a king.

Death continued, still speaking softly, but somehow able to be heard over the noise. “Together, your forces will defeat the Norn and drive them back to their own land.”

The battlefield fell away, and the land beneath them sped away until Meghan could see the Castle Cutorney, where the Old Kings had once reigned, rising tall and strong from the rocky fells. They seemed to be soaring down toward it through the sky, and as they grew closer Meghan could hear the sounds of a multitude, cheering triumphantly.

She peered closer as she and Death came to rest on the battlements. A great crowd was gathered in the courtyard below. With a sigh of relief, she smiled as she saw Dairn ascending the steps that led to the outdoor dais, where his elders and generals waited to crown him king. Heich of the Siobhan stood there as well, and in his tall, lithe frame Meghan could see traces of her own mother.

Humbly, Dairn knelt with his head bowed low, dark hair shining in the morning sun.

Stepping forward, General Ruel, their right-hand-man held the crown above Dairn's head.
“Dairn MacGabhann, we the people of Ern have gathered here today as freemen for the first time in four generations. When the Norn foreigners invaded and declared themselves our new rulers, your royal ancestors were cast from their place and forced to live in secret. But now you have risen against all odds to lead us, your people, into victory. Now we ask you to continue this duty and take your rightful place as our king. Do you accept this duty?”

“I do,” Dairn said, and the sound of his calm voice ringing out over the crowd brought tears to Meghan's eyes.

The crowd cheered and raised their fists in salute. Ruel placed the crown on Dairn's head and bowed. Slowly, Dairn stood and turned to face his people, raising his hands for silence, then smiled, his eyes shining with both joy and sadness. People of Ern,” he said, “my beloved kinsmen, my heart is warmed by your bravery and loyalty. Though we are a small people who have long been held in bondage, no nation could have matched the courage I witnessed during this war. We have risen against all hope to claim a victory we hardly deemed possible- but my friends, I cannot bear the credit as your leader. I began my quest fully believing it was a solitary one. All I wanted was to bring those who killed my family to justice. But when you flocked to my side, it was only then that I realized we could stand and fight. And even then, there were many moments when I doubted. When had I but had the chance I might have fled from the trials of war and hardship.” He swallowed, faltering. Even from the distance from which she watched, Meghan could see the tears that shone in his eyes.

“No my friends,” he continued, “I would not be here today were it not for the inspiration that drove me, even until the very end- my cousin and dearest friend, Meghan O'Bries, who gave her life for our cause. She who was as a sister to me, whose royal blood shone brighter than my own, was the true life of this revolution.”

The other generals bowed their heads, and Heich put his hand over his chest in respect.

Dairn sighed. “Let us remember her sacrifice, and the sacrifice of all those who have fallen for our freedom. Let us honor their memory as we step into this new era, where justice and freedom shall reign!”

Again, the people cheered. Yet though this cry was more raw and and saddened, it seemed to Meghan all the more beautiful.

“He acknowledged me,” she whispered. “He told them of my birthright, and my involvement. I never asked for it, and yet he has given me a place of honor.”

She bowed her head, and she felt Death release her slowly. When she picked her head up and looked at him again, they were once more standing in the dark hut.

The embers of the fire flickered dimly in the corner, so low now that the room was shrouded with shadow. Yet somehow she could still see Death's face clearly. She found she could return his gaze more steadily now.

“Thank you,” she said softly.

He nodded, giving a slight bow. “It is a privilege I can seldom give. For my part, I was glad to show it to you.”

Then, as if he sensed something she could not see, he shifted and looked out the window. “Are you ready now?”

Meghan looked down and heaved a deep breath. “I think so.”

To her annoyance, she felt fresh unbidden tears spring forward. But before she had a chance to quell them, she felt a hand cup her face.
Death looked down at her and brushed the tears away. “What is it, child?”

Meghan chuckled irrationally. “Nothing! It's just...”
Death looked at her expectantly.

“I never fell in love.” Meghan sighed, ashamed of herself. After seeing all of her wishes realized, how she could still desire more? “I had always dreamed.... that after the war, if we won, I might live long enough for someone to see me, truly see me. To look at me and find beauty both inside and out...”

She trailed off and shook her head. But to her surprise, Death smiled.

“I see all that,” he said gently. Slowly, he bent and kissed her forehead. “Don't be ashamed, Meghan. It is only natural for you to hunger for more life- for despite your hardships, you loved life, and lived it well. You were happy in what you had, and because of that, you can now leave in peace. Trust me, you were loved, and dearly so.”

Holding out his hand, he backed toward the doorway. “Come with me, Meghan. It's time.”

Meghan blinked away her tears and smiled. She felt, after all, that it was time to leave. Her time had come, and she had no regrets. With one last breath, she reached out and took hold of his hand. As his fingers closed around hers, Meghan closed her eyes and thought back to all she had seen, all she had done. It was true- despite her trials and sorrows, there had also been joy, and triumph, and above all love. The love of her parents, the love of her guardian Finn, and of her cousins, Heich and Dairn. And someday, she now knew, the love of her people as well. Her restless heart settled its wings and a sense of peace came over her.

“Are you ready, Meghan?” she heard Death's voice ask again.

I have nothing else to wish for, she realized. This time the tears that flowed held no sadness or shame, only relief. She squeezed his hand.

“Yes.”

They stepped through the door.

* * *

In the winter's cold
there blew a horn
when Free Folk of old
overthrew the Norn
In triumph Dairn
as king did rise
and the land of Ern
loved Meghan O'Bries

* * *

THE END

-Emmarayn Redding

(Image taken from the public domain)