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It’s About Time

So…I haven’t done anything here in quite some time, and I realize that I need to get back into a habit of writing. On top of that, with my wedding coming up, I feel like I should have plenty of material for any kind of post I should need to put up. I already have something planned for the next ‘New,’ and it gives me an incentive to fill in with some ‘Blue’ and ‘Old.’ So without further adeu, here’s something blue.

Perhaps using another shot from Deviantart is something close to cheating, but I can’t help it. That site is an addiction.

I think part of the reason this piece speaks to me is that it reminds me of that dream everyone seems to have; that dream of an endless, shallow ocean that becomes sky somewhere on the horizon. Blue becoming blue. Perfect peace, perfect serenity. Not a wave or disturbance, no sense of place or time.

.enolA by megatruh

 

 

 

So while I like the current background, I realize it may make it hard to read my blog. So what do you guys think? Do I need a makeover?

If the answer is yes, then I’ll post a couple of options later, and you can help me choose.🙂

All of that Magic

This is far, far too overdue. I need to be better with this…

If I had not been given the preface that Grossman wrote The Magicians as a reflective commentary on Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter, I would have pulled my eyes out in frustration at explicit fan-fiction. In fact, even with the explanation, I felt that I was reading a grown man’s attempts to live in both of these fictional worlds. Let me give you a brief summery of the story before critiquing the means. Warning: there may be some spoilers.

Our stereo-typically-not-stereo-typical hero–an awkward, tall, lanky, raven haired high schooler by the name of  Quentin Coldwater–is fed up with his boring, regular life as a child genius. He retreats from his mundane life into his favorite childhood book series entitled Fillory and Further, which describes the adventures of the Chatwin brothers and sisters in the magical land of Fillory. (Here is our connection with Narnia.) Quentin longs for adventures like these, and wishes that magic were real.

Through a series of odd circumstances, Quentin gets his wish for adventure and magic, and finds himself at Brakebills, a school for wizards (our connection with Harry Potter). Here he makes new friends, forgets about his awful parents, and learns the art of magic.

After his five years (which somehow manage to only be a little less than half the book) at Brakebills, Quentin graduates and moves to New York with his buddies. An old acquaintance from Brakebills shows up with the means to travel between worlds, and the group decides to use it to go to Fillory. Fillory happens to be in a state of decay and chaos, and the group uses their magic to do the best they can to save it, but it comes at a high cost.

Our heroes return to the ‘real world,’ and Quentin does his best to forget about magic and sets out to live the rest of his at a desk job. Of course, that would be a silly thing to do for a man without a real world education and whose only skills lie in turning himself into wild animals and manipulating time/space/nature. His friends return to whisk him back to Fillory, and Book One ends.

Despite my thickly sarcastic tone, there are some valuable things in this novel. Grossman has an ability to descriptively captivate his audience. While I usually have at least one (depending on the writer, two or three) stretch of why-the-heck-do-I-need-to-read-this-part-my-eyes-are-drifting-off-the-page in every book I read, I actually didn’t have any issues with The Magicians.

Grossman also has some brilliant, original ideas despite his purposeful links to Harry Potter and Chronicles of Narnia. I particularly enjoyed the steampunk, Neo-Victorian atmosphere of Brakebills, and I would have loved to see that developed. Grossman develops a surprisingly unique approach to organized magic. His beautifully haunting version of ‘The World Between Worlds’ (the name of it escapes me) could be the start-point of something great. But he is so driven by his agenda that he throws too many ideas together, rushing Brakebills and awkwardly sticking Fillory in the end with one or two crooked nails.

This being said, his agenda wasn’t one to overlook; he wanted people to reflect on the nature of idealistic fantasy and how, even if it were real, it would be polluted with sin (‘sin’ probably wouldn’t be his choice of word, but it works). Grossman wants his readers to accept that even if good triumphs over evil, it’s often a fluke. There is no great destiny, and if it seems that you are meant to do something, it’s because someone human has set you up for it. In his opinion, though children’s books like Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter are great works of literature, they ultimately set children up for disappointment. I can’t say I agree completely with his outlook, but it is one worth reflecting on.

In summery: far too many incohesive ideas for one book; decently written; read like a fan fiction; showed a lot of creative promise that was ultimately undeveloped; offered quite a bit of character development that either wasn’t properly smoothed or was discarded; more explicit content than was needed. I give The Magicians a 3 out of 5.

A New Project

So while I don’t have a new piece I feel like sharing at the moment, I do have two new writing projects that I’ve just started, and I’d like to hear all of your thoughts on them.

The first is an essay on the nature of creation in fantasy and science fiction writing, and its similarities to God’s act of Creation. I’ve found this to be an incredibly fascinating subject ever since high school. Though I’m sure someone has talked about it before, I stumbled upon it myself during a conversation with my mother while I was trying to defend the validity of the ‘junk reading’ (as she calls it) I was enjoying. I argued that in my reading and writing of fantasy, I was able to see how intricate, detailed, and demanding creating an entirely believable world can be. It stretches the writer to be god of their own universe, and to shoulder the responsibilities of that position.

While I’m a little hesitant to disclose the thesis….I’ll  say that I believe that fantasy writers have a critical role to play in Christian community, the Church, and the world at large.

And yes, CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien will be references. They will not be the only ones, and the other ones with not simply be the rest of the Inklings.

The second is another essay on the connection between naming in fantasy and naming in the Bible. This is a more recent fascination, which came about while reading Earthsea and The Magicians (a later ‘Something Borrowed’ entry will be made on the Magicians). Names are such a reoccurring theme in fantasy writing that I really want to explore those connections in more depth. Again, I’m sure someone far more knowledgeable on the subject has already explored this topic, but  for my own purposes I’m going to write on it.

On another note, here are three little tidbits of writer usefulness for all of my writing buddies: The Writer, Evernote, and The Whirlwind Review.

Maybe you’ve all caught on to the The Writer long before I did, but if you haven’t, go look for this magazine at your library. Do it. NOW.

Evernote is a free program that allows you to take notes, save articles, add urls, link pictures, and generally collect all sorts of writing tidbits from the net into one place. And the basic version is free. It syncs with any smart device, too.

The Whirlwind Review is a new start-up publication focusing on the connection between writing and spirituality. If these two essays turn out to be anything of value/relevance, I’m thinking of submitting them here. Or somewhere.

So after much prolonging of the inevitable, I have decided to bore/hound/entertain/vex you with chapters from that still-not-finished book of my childhood, Dragon’s Blood, for ‘Something Old.’ For your own sanity, or so that you post in outrage at the lack of the next installment, I will occasionally take a break and throw in something else.

Disclaimer: this blog is still intended to only be as personal as my reflections on my own writing should be. Any personal life drama is simply recorded here in perspective of the me that was writing any given piece. You may continue.

For a background, Dragon’s Blood began (I believe) in my 8th grade year as some form of escapist therapy from that tortured time of life otherwise known as middle school. Basically, I was an emo child who hated my life and couldn’t decide if I wanted to be an Animorph or a Mirkwood elf, and so I created my own world under the direct influence of K.A. Applegate, J.R.R. Tolken, and C.S. Lewis. (After realizing that most of the writers with the greatest influence in my life use abbreviations in their pen names, I shall now be known as K.P. Hickey. It has a somewhat awful ring to it, doesn’t it?) Hence why it is…pretty bad. It gets a little better…but it is really bad.

Now, because I don’t think you will read both the intro and the story, I’ll just plunge you into it and continue further commentary with the next DB post.

     “But I love stormy nights,” Nikki sighed. She looked over at her twin sister, Keri, with longing, green eyes.

“I don’t care if you love stormy nights; I don’t, so live with it,” Keri said stubbornly. Keri reached for the window shade and pulled it down.

“Well, can’t you leave just one open?” Nikki pleaded.

“No, there’s only two windows in the room, and besides, I’m the oldest, so I make the decisions,” Keri said triumphantly.

“Only by three minutes,” Nikki muttered. A loud clash of thunder rumbled and filled the air with a deafening noise. The girls shrieked, then started to giggle.

“I thought you weren’t afraid of thunderstorms,” Keri said, laughing.

“I’m not; that one just startled me,” Nikki replied sheepishly.

“Go to sleep, girls!” their mother, Mrs. Rosswell, called up the stairs.

“See you tomorrow,” Keri whispered.

“See you tomorrow,” Nikki replied. Then the two girls drifted into a deep sleep.

Snow was falling everywhere. Thunder rumbled. Nikki looked up, and barely saw the lighting flashing in the sky.

     What kind of thunderstorm has snow instead of rain? she wondered. Nikki couldn’t see two feet in front of herself. It was so cold, she couldn’t feel her legs. The cold washed over her, and she felt as if she would fall into a deep sleep.

Nikki struggled forward and fell to her knees, which wasn’t easy, considering the snow was three feet deep. She pulled herself up, panting and bruised. Pushing back her silky, black hair, Nikki looked around, but she could see almost nothing. Then, as if the thick snow was parting like a curtain, Nikki saw something. It was tall and an iridescent green. In the light, it changed to a deep green-blue, then a brilliant yellow, then black. Nikki could almost make the shape out. It looked like a, a-

Beeeep! Beeeeeep! Nikki fell out of bed.

“Are you trying to kill yourself?” Keri asked. She was dressed and ready for school. “We have to leave in about seven minutes, so I suggest that you get moving.” Keri walked out of the room.

     That dream, it was so real, Nikki marveled. It was real, wasn’t it?

“Nikki, get ready for school!” Mrs. Rosswell called up the stairs. Nikki decided to forget the dream. It was way, way too freaky to be real. Besides, she had to get to school.

Oh, wow. I forgot just how bad it is. Please, please tell me how bad this is. Really. Don’t worry, next week is Something New.

Smokey Blue

I know I’ve put off posting again, but the guilt of not writing has gotten to me, and so my modest audience, here is my apology.

I recently won a little competition for the premier of my friend Dane Gustafson’s website, Dane Gustafson Photography. Dane is a young and aspiring photography artist with an eye for natural beauty, as well as an interest in experimentation for the sake of a good picture.

He’s really quite prolific, so it took me a while to go through his photos and choose one for my free print. One particular picture caught my eye, and though I didn’t choose it, I knew it was a piece that begged interest and discussion.

By Dane Gustafson

Smokey Blue Incense

When I see this piece, I see Buddhist monks chanting in their Tibetan temples at dawn. I see a Shinto Priestess sweeping the floor as she opens the shrine. I see a humble woman in Jerusalem kneeling for her morning prayer, door shut to the world and window open to her Father and the first rays of a new day. Mystery and intrigue glow in the warm embers–the desire to understand the humanly inexplicable natures of universe. They are a reminder of that forbidden fruit that separated man from God, the humbling tower of Babel.

I actually know very little about photography, so I wanted to know how Dane did it. When I asked him to describe how he constructed this shot, he replied,

“[T]hat particular day I was trying to think of something to take a photograph of and then I saw a burnt incense cone out of the corner of my eye. It was then that I decided to use my blue led flashlight and light up another cone to try to get a photo of the smoke swirling around. I really liked the way it turned out and I think it was the next day that I tried to do an even more elaborate photo of incense.”

If you’re interested in checking out his second incense shot, you can view it here. Take time to check out the rest of Dane’s art at his site!

I had quite a few different things I wanted to do for ‘Something Borrowed,” but I settled on this…because it’s just awesome.

For those of you who know me, I studied English in college. I have a soft spot for words. Audible texture. A well written sentence should feel like a fine truffle in one’s mouth; a crunch, crumbling bite, filled with something smooth to roll over and under the tongue in contemplation of its flavor, feeling, and depth. Words are a banquet for the oral. I could honestly write a whole post on just this idea.

But what if you could play with your food? Silent Conversation by Gregory Weir allows you to do just that. But Katelyn, you say, word games are old news!

Image from Gregory Weir

Alice in Wonderland

Perhaps. But Silent Conversation is more than a typical word game. You play as “I,” highlighting and hitting all of the words on the page before you. The words that happen to be parts of exquisite works of classic literature. From T.S. Eliot to H.P. Lovecraft, Weir allows the user to ‘play as he reads.’

This is a casual gamer’s game. It gameplay is light (though the reading’s not always!), and overall is not a long game. It’s beautiful in its simplicity of appearance, and the soundtrack is elegant. Take a moment and test it–you won’t be disappointing!

For a little more information, check out one of Weir’s posts here.

Snow and Crystal Lace

Alright, ladies and gents! Here it is: the story on Snow and Crystal Lace!

It started on a journey to the thrift store with my dear Abby Gardener as we were scouting for cosplay potential amongst the disregarded odds and ends of Cincinnatians. I was sorting through formal dresses when a bit of lace caught my eye.

Well, there's lace on it...

Abby though I was crazy. But for $5, why not?

It was stained a nasty shade of pink under the shoulders, and had a little hole or two. The tag said $5, so it was clear that no one at the store thought it would sell. I practically jumped up and down. “Abby, it’s PERFECT!” I grabbed two different lace curtains from the linen section for $2 each, and we were off.

My initial plan was to make a sort of Sweet Lolita style costume. This morphed and changed, till it became a Lolita-Ice Fairy hybrid. As the wings still have not been completed (and won’t be in the foreseeable future), I’ll say it’s Lolita.

A lot had to be done. In order to get rid of the pink stains, which were not a part of my plan, I carefully bleached the bodice, adding color grades from white into blue.The hole (which is smaller than a pinhead) was fray-checked and hidden under the lace over-skirt which I added. The white lace curtain that I purchased turned out to be more pink than white, and it had to be bleached as well. (Note to costumers/creative junkies: most lace curtains are made out of a polyester blend. Those don’t take bleach very well, so be prepared to scratch the idea. Mine took 3-4 cycles of bleach, and it’s still not a pure white.)

The bodice was…well, pretty, but a little revealing as the only thing covering the middle was a little bit of lace, so a modesty panel out of silver shimmer was made and added. I decided to make this panel removable, in case whoever purchased the dress wanted something different.

A detachable  train was also added out of blue lace (which happened to match the blue of the dress perfectly!), and little netting shoulder sleeves were added as well. Of course, this is a pretty fairy/princess/lacy/girly dress, so I needed to add some more bling. Beads and trim were added to the dress, outlining the V in the bodice, the tip of the princess waist, and embellishing the lace skirt and train.

Accessories were a must. I made little matching lace glovelettes out of the same blue lace as the train, as well as a necklace and matching earrings. Wings, as mentioned before, were part of the initial plan, but I just ran out of time and energy to embark on the task of making them out of silicone and vinyl. The frames are as far as I got.

With the project complete, I needed a model. I had two in mind, and I wanted to do a photo shoot with each, but time only permitted me to work with one, my dear friend, the beautiful Heidi Schellenbach (Lord willing, I’ll get a chance to work with Katie Powell sometime as well!).

The beautiful Heidi Schellenbach!

Snow and Crystal Lace

The photo shoot was an amazing success! Well, with one little glitch–wrinkles! That’s right; the dress had been sitting so long in it’s dress bag that it had wrinkles, and I didn’t even think of it till we were at the site. Oh, well, that’s what Photoshop’s for. The wrinkles will be removed before the dress is listed on Etsy.

Speaking of which, for those who may be interested, the whole outfit will be for sale on my Etsy site in the very near future! (It’s a size 2-4.) You can check out more of the photoshoot on my Facebook album. Enjoy!

Dancing with Wolves

Well ladies and gents, it’s that time of cycle that I post something old. I’ve debated posting (endorsing, selling) my currently listed Etsy item, the MacRabbit, but I decided to spare you that since I’ll be pouring my handiwork on you for the next ‘Something New.’😉

(You can still check it out if you’d like!)

Anyway, what I am posting is an old short story I wrote some time ago in college. The initial concept still draws my imagination down the wild, twisting forest paths, and the basis of Leo’s character is still one that I play with when dreaming up stories. Anyway, please enjoy!

Leo pulled up and parked the rusty red Chevy, his high school tassel swinging with the force of the truck. He took a deep breath and released it, running his large hand through his sandy hair. Just get it done quickly, he thought to himself. As if this ever went quickly.

He jumped out of the car onto the gravel parking lot. The park was abandoned at this time of evening, especially with summer storms brewing overhead. The tension in the air matched Leo’s inner tension; tension built up from putting this off, tension built up from the need to do it. Glancing overhead, he made his way into the woods.

Taking the trail wasn’t usually the smartest thing to do, but Leo felt too lazy to start off the hike with forging through foliage. He’d have to do enough of that later. ‘Course, later he wouldn’t care so much. After a good ten minutes, he decided it was as good as any time to split off. Choosing a spot that was well covered with unnaturally green bushes and weeds, he pushed his way into the heart of the woods.

The deeper he trudged, the clearer the sound of the river grew. Leo had chosen this particular park because of this river; it was wide with a series of waterfalls, some small and delicate, others large and roaring.

The scents of the water and the trees pulled at his nose, and he knew that all of his desires to resist were falling away. He closed his eyes to the tense air, breathing it in, letting it fill him. Why did he hate his nature so? It was a part of him. It was something he wanted to release. He would go away from here, wherever that was, and forget the scents, the colors, the tension, the freedom that the wind howled to him. The freedom of the night, of the storm, of all those things on which he could never place his human fingers. The wind pulled at him, at his form, at his heart, and no longer could he hold it.

Changing was always painful. But in this atmosphere, the pain felt more than natural- it felt necessary. It was a part of his nature, it was a part of the nature around him. As his bones cracked and grew, he heard the pain of the wind. As his skin stretched and ripped, he heard the pain of the sky. Of the river. Of the trees. The pain of all things bound. His form released itself in a howl of pain.

No longer could fear or reason hold him. He raced off through the woods, browns and greens flying by in a fury of earth and wood, leaves old and new. Shadow traces of the other occupants of this forest surfaced, none of them willing to come out and greet him, but none of them shy by the flavor of human. This was his territory, the territory of a wolf. He ran with the wind, water, and sky roaring at his back, feeling their fierce passion fill him till there was no way for him to release that energy but to succumb to the call of the run.

Faster, harder, straight to the sound of the river. Upon reaching its swollen banks he turned and followed it, jumping rocks and fallen trees with abandon. Never dropping speed, he jumped a boulder which reminded him that the greatest waterfall on the river was just a few good yards away.  His yellow eyes grew slightly wider with anticipation. Another boulder, and he leaped clear of gravity, angled just so that he flew over the edge above the water.

With a light splash he fell thirty feet into the icy water. Submerged for just a moment, his senses began to screech with the need to be above. He pulled his head up and paddled over to the bank. Pulling himself was a slightly harder task, as his fur was now soaked. He shook it, but a roll of thunder told him it wouldn’t make much difference in a few minutes. Time to start the return trip.

Leo was only about twenty-five feet from the truck when it started to rain again. Walking over to the Chevy, he stood on his hind legs against the side of the bed and used his nose to flip the handle. Standing there reminded him even more of the fact that he was no normal wolf.

As he climbed into the cab, he forced his change to begin, just so he could fit. He lost a good ten pounds in water just from loosing the fur. He grabbed the towel and closed the door before anything unsightly was visible to the outside world. After wiping himself down, he threw on a pair of jeans and a tee shirt.

Leo sat for a moment, remembering the scents and sounds of the woods and the rain. He knew he had been given a gift, but somehow, he could figure out why it was supposed to be just that. How many other people were forced to dance between two worlds, never to belong to either? He started the truck and put it into drive. One day, he would have to choose.

Sparkles and Shines

As you may or may not have guessed by this time, I’m a sucker for DevientArt. I spend way too much time on that site, and too much of my hard drive is occupied by pretty pictures (who can resist pretty things?).  So I decided that I would be lazy and search for something rather blue on DA, and just slap it on. After all, this post should have been up weeks and weeks ago.

As God would have it, I stumbled upon this piece by Nambroth. Yes, it is obviously a beautiful blue stone, but more than that, it happens to be one of my favorite natural semi-precious stones of all time: labradorite.

Pretty Shiny Sparkly...

You know you want it...

Labradorite is a highly iridescently reflective stone, and colors range within a single piece from bright yellows and sugar pinks to dark greens and vibrant blues. It shines in the light like no one’s business. The stone has flecks and streaks in it as well, which might be considered imperfections in some other types of stone, but I personally find that this adds to the natural, earthy beauty of labradorite. Besides this, those specks actually sparkle in the light, which makes it the only stone I know of that both sparkles and shines at the same time! Each cut stone is completely unique because of these random streaks and specks as well.

I suppose it is because people like shiny pretty things that the cost of labradorite is higher than most other semi-precious stones at the bead store. A single pack of 8 4mm cut pieces at Hobby Lobby cost me $7; I’ve gotten entire strands of pearls for less. But in my opinion, it’s worth every penny.

Take a moment and check out Nambroth’s other pieces–she has  a large selection of different labradorite pendants, and not only is it a chance to see the variety present in the stone, it’s also a chance to see more pretty things. You can also purchase her beautiful work at her store Featherdust Studios. Enjoy!

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