Friday, 14 December 2012

Updated Winner of The Hobbit

Hi everyone. Unfortunately, since the previous winner has failed to contact me before today, I have chosen a new winner. The new winner is Emily, whose favourite book is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Congratulations to the Emily! Please email me at kirkyland@gmail.com with your address and contact information.

Quote of the day: Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. - C. S. Lewis

Monday, 10 December 2012

Winner of The Hobbit

Today I announce the winner of my Hobbit giveaway. The winner is . . . Kim, whose favourite book is Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman. Congratulations! I would appreciate it if you could email me with your address asap at kirkyland@gmail.com. Thanks to everyone who entered!

Quote of the day: For books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them to be as active as that soul whose progeny they are; nay, they do preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction of that living intellect that bred them. - John Milton

***Update: If I am not emailed by the winner by Friday the 14 I will choose a new winner. 

Friday, 16 November 2012

The Hobbit Giveaway

I have a bit of time so I thought I would take this time to tell you all that I'm doing a giveaway! In just under a month the first part of The Hobbit will be coming out in theatres. This is very exciting new so I thought I would give someone a chance to win a copy of The Hobbit. All you have to do to enter is to post a comment saying what your favourite book is. If you're under 18 make sure that you have your parent's permission. This giveaway is open to citizens of Canada and USA. This contest ends December 7 so make sure to comment if you want a chance to win!



Quote of the day: I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can't see from the center. - Kurt Vonnegut 

Sunday, 4 November 2012

October Memoir and Backstory Blog Challenge Day 11

I feel really bad about not finishing the October Memoir and Backstory Blog Challenge that I decided I would finish it, even though it's no long October. I'm going to start where I left off and post whenever I can. My life has definitely calmed down a lot and is a lot less crazy than it was in October.

Saoirse Eleventh Year

After the incident the previous year, Saoirse never went anywhere without her bow and quiver and a knife. Her father kept a close watch on her by having a soldier tail her wherever she went, even if she wasn't aware of it. She soon discovered the tail, however, but never said anything to her father, knowing that it made him feel better. Artair had the men who had attacked Saoirse found and burned as an example to anyone else who would attempt to harm his family.

In her eleventh year, the king decided it was time to go on a royal procession. He, his wife, his children, and some of the court would travel to the different towns in Dunan. There were two small towns in the forest, Malra and Ranin, with Aberness situated in the middle. They would travel to Ranin, as it was the closest of the two, take the long trek to Marla, and then return to Aberness.

Saoirse packed mainly thin dresses, since it was the summer months, with a few trousers and tunics also thrown in for good measure.

They left one morning ere the sun had risen. She had her own horse and rode next to her father. Artair and his family rode at the front of the column with a large guard. Many soldiers accompanied the group of travellers to make certain that the royal family was not harmed in any way. A few of Artair's most important courtiers also went with them.

Saoirse watched as the sun's rays pierced the boughs of the forest. It was a beautiful day to start a journey.

It took the company four days to reach Ranin. Saoirse occupied herself with focusing on people's thoughts and listening to those of the animals as well.

When they finally reached Ranin, the day was coming to a close. They came to a place where the trees were much sparser. The leader of the village, a man by the name of Breandan, welcomed them to his village. It was a small village with the buildings up in the trees as all the buildings were in Dunan. Beyond the trees was the ocean. The company could see the blue of the ocean through the trees. The harbour held many small fishing boats, as well as several larger trading vessels.

They spent three days in the village. Saoirse spent that time exploring it and playing with the children in the village. She made many friends in those few days. She knew that had they known she was a silvern they would not have been as friendly.

She met the silvern of Ranin, a woman by the name of Ceana. The woman knew exactly what Saoirse was, but never said anything.

On the fourth day they left early in the morning. The night before, Breandan had had a great feast for the company and several of the more important village citizens had been in attendance.

The company made their way on toward Malra. The journey took ten long days through the never-ending landscape of trees. Saoirse discovered her love of travelling during that trip.

When they arrived at Malra, Ailean, the village leader, greeted them warmly. Artair chose to remain there for four days.

Saoirse enjoyed discovering the village and met more people. She spent the most time with Ailean's daughter, Una. They became very close friends and enjoyed spending nights sitting in the trees watching the stars.

The silvern of Malra, Sorcha, also met Saoirse. She kept the young girl's secret, but was worried about what consequences there would be in the future.

The journey home took eight days.

When they arrived back at Aberness, Saoirse sent letters to all of her friends. She kept up her friendship with all of the children she had met. She always waited anxiously for the hawks to return with their letters, relishing in reading what was occurring in their lives.

Quote of the day: To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all. - Oscar Wilde

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Not Today

I'm really sorry but there will be no October Backstory Challenge post today. I'm away from home the entire day and won't be back until late so I have no time to write this post. There will be a post on Friday, however. 

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

October Memoir and Backstory Blog Challenge Day 10

Saoirse Tenth Year

Saoirse was learning quickly. Her knowledge expanded as she worked her way through the library. Her archery skills were also growing. Her father had found someone to teach her hand to hand combat and how to fight with various weapons.

Beathag decided she was old enough and trained enough to leave Aberness once again. They strode through the trees, naming the different plants and animals that they came across. Beathag showed Saoirse different paths that wound their way through the forest.

After that day, Saoirse found herself inextricably drawn to the woods outside the walls. Once her lessons for the day were done she simply walked through the trees. She loved the way the sunlight filtered through the leaves and found its way through to the forest floor. A waterfall could be heard somewhere in the distance.

Whenever she went for a walk Saoirse made sure to bring her bow and quiver, as well as a small hunting knife. She understood the need to protect herself and wasn't about to be caught unaware.

While walking through the forest one day she heard something rustling in the undergrowth. She stopped and listened. She was near the city, but far enough away from it that no one would be able to come to help quickly.

She took a few more steps and stopped when she heard rustling again. Saoirse strung her bow and moved slowly again, listening carefully. She focused her mind and noticed a presence. A man stood behind a tree not too far away from where she was.

Saoirse aimed her bow and stood still. Her arms began to shake but she steadied them. She listened to the man's thoughts and gasped. Without hesitation she released her arrow. It struck the tree he was standing behind, but she quickly restrung the bow.

The man moved out from behind the tree. In his hand he held a knife. "Watch it, you might hurt someone with that," he said.

Saoirse watched him, her bow aimed at his chest. "Don't take another step," she said.

"Or you'll kill me? You're just a wee girl. You couldn't hurt a fly."

She released the arrow and watched as it struck the man in the chest. He fell down and moved his hand to touch the arrow that protruded from his chest.

Saoirse ran toward the walls, nearly tripping over her feet as she did so. She stumbled over a root and spat out dirt. A different man stood over her with a knife. "Where are you going? We're not done here."

She focused her mind on him and steeled herself. "What do you want with me?"

"You are the king's niece. We want power. With you in our grasp, he will be forced to comply."

She spat on his shoes.

He made to stab her with his knife but she blocked him. With her small knife she drove it up into his ribs and twisted. He gasped and released his own knife. "Who are you?" he asked, his face contorted in pain.

"Your worst nightmare."

She shoved him off and ran back to the wall covered in his blood. As soon as the soldiers of the wall saw her they called for her father.

He came running and held her close when he saw what state she was in. Saoirse hugged her father back. Fearghas and Beathag came running also. She opened her mind to them as they neared the pair and Beathag gasped. Fearghas simply looked at her, and she looked him straight in the eye.

The entire time her eyes remained dry.

Quote of the day: Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved. - Helen Keller

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

October Memoir and Backstory Blog Challenge Day 9

Saoirse Ninth Year

After Fearghas discovered that Saoirse was a silvern and that she was being trained by Beathag, he decided to have a part in her education. He found out she had abandoned her studies for archery and made it his mission to turn her into a scholar.

He started out small, reintroducing her to the basics and not advancing until he was absolutely certain she had mastered them. Once she started she advanced quickly. Her knowledge grew as Fearghas fed her information. Her days became full of archery and her lessons.

One day Fearghas told Saoirse he wanted to show her something special. He led her through the palace corridors and into the heart of the building. They stopped before two large ornately carved wooden doors. He pushed the doors open and they stepped into a large room. It was full of shelves upon shelves of books and manuscripts. Large windows allowed light to filter into the room and illuminate the book stacks.

Saoirse stared at everything. She turned around to take it all in.

"What is this place?" she finally managed to ask.

"This is the palace library. This is where all of the history of Dunan and even Abermuir is stored in Aberness. And as a member of the royal family, you have full access to it."

"I can read all of this?"

He chuckled. "Well, as much as you can before you die. Where would you like to start?"

"The history of the cities."

Fearghas steered her toward the section where the history of Abermuir was stored. She pulled a manuscript at random and sat down at the nearest table. She spent the entire afternoon pouring over the manuscript. Every night after that she read a manuscript.

He smiled. He was happy to have inspired such a scholarly love in the young silvern.

Quote of the day: Reading one book is like eating one potato chip. - Diane Duane

A Little Late

I just wanted to quickly do this post. My October Memoir and Backstory Blog Challenge post will be up after 6:00pm EST tonight. Once it is up I will post a link on Twitter for any followers. Thank you for understanding.

Monday, 8 October 2012

October Memoir and Backstory Blog Challenge Day 8

Saoirse Eighth Year

Saoirse was good at what she did, and she was getting better. Every single morning she was at the home of the Forest Archers practising. She was becoming faster and hit the target much more frequently. Her eyes still remained the forest green they always had, never reverting to silver. Her ability to sense persons, their thoughts, and their true nature was becoming stronger. Most times she did not focus on anyone and so ignored the thoughts that whirled around her. Sometimes she would feel the need to be certain who was around her.

Artair would sometimes watch her firing arrows or working with Beathag. He stood in a corner so as not to interfere with what she was doing and never spoke. He would stay for varying amounts of time, but whenever Saoirse turned to speak to him, he was gone.

One day Paton took Saoirse out to the wall that surrounded Aberness. The wall was made of stone. It towered above all and was surpassed only by the trees. It was a yard thick and completely smooth with no handholds. The wall completely surrounded the city with two openings; one to the north and one to the south. Two large wooden doors stood at these openings covered in carvings.

The pair stood above the north gate looking out into the forest. "This city is under our protection," Paton said. "It is our duty as Forest Archers to protect it with our lives."

Saoirse nodded. If she focused her mind she could sense all of the people behind them within the city, as well as several citizens moving along the road through Dunan Wood. She ignored the people and focused on the woods around her.

Animal sounds echoed throughout the trees, though they remained unseen.

"As you know, occasionally raiders come to try and attack the city. They hail from either the other cities, or are wild men of the forest. We fend them off. Usually Fearghas, the king's main silvern, is wandering around trying to sense them."

Saoirse flinched inwardly when he said the word "silvern." She wondered if she would ever meet this man and what would happen if she did.

"Ah, speak of the devil. Hello Fearghas!" Paton called to a man coming toward them.

The man was tall and had dark brown hair that reached his shoulders. A thick curly beard covered the lower half of his face. His silver eyes twinkled as he smiled. Fearghas was portly, but his walk suggested that he was more agile than he appeared.

"Good day, Paton," he said in a deep voice.

Saoirse gasped when he stepped near. She felt a pang of anxiety in the pit of her stomach. When she looked up she noticed Fearghas watching her closely. She kept her mind closed and simply provided him with her hand. "Hello," she said in a small voice.

"You must be Saoirse, Paton's prodigy archer," he said as he shook her hand.

She nodded and stood up straight.

"This child will be the best archer in this city one day, I wager," Paton said proudly, placing a hand on her shoulder.

Fearghas smiled again. "I wager she will be."

Saoirse cast him a sidelong glance, but hurriedly looked away when she noticed him looking at her.

I know what you are. The deep voice resounded in her head.

Her eyes widened but she made no other sign that she had heard anything.

Will you tell him? she asked.

No. Obviously the king wishes you to be unknown, and so it must remain. But the day will come when your secret will be known to one and all, and you must deal with those consequences.

Quote of the day: There is no trap so deadly as the trap you set for yourself. - Raymond Chandler

Sunday, 7 October 2012

October Memoir and Backstory Blog Challenge Day 7

Saoirse Seventh Year

After the incident that had occurred the year previous, Saoirse always maintained her green eyes. They were never silver, even in private, for fear that someone would see.

In her seventh year, Saoirse's wish to learn how to use a bow was granted. Her father took her to the home of the Forest Archers, protectors of Aberness.

The Forest Archers' home was in the boughs of an extremely tall and thick tree. Its leaves hid the platforms and masked the buildings, hiding them from view. A long stair extended out from the trunk and led up into the foliage above.

Saoirse and Sealbhach stepped through a simple doorway and into a simply furnished room. The most elaborate thing in the room were the knots and designs that were displayed all throughout the region of Dunan.

"Hello, may I be of service to you?" a man asked as he approached the pair.

"Good morrow, Paton. My daughter wishes to join your services," Sealbhach said as he shook the man's hand.

Paton looked down at Saoirse as she looked up at him. He was a very tall man, and barrel-chested. His reddish hair was a shock against his pale skin. His clothes were very simple and he wore his quiver on his back.

Saoirse was tall for her age and her dark curly hair was getting long. She was scrawny and dressed simply in something that did not fit her correctly. Her large eyes stared out of her pale face obstinately.

"Do you think you'll be a good shot, girl?" Paton asked.

She nodded her head.

He gave her a miniature bow and some small arrows. Standing her in front of a target he told her to shoot an arrow and try to hit the middle. He showed her how to hold the bow and notch the arrow. When she was ready he stood back. Sealbhach watched anxiously.

Saoirse held the bow and arrow in her hands and aimed at the center of the target. She took a steadying breath and released the arrow. It flew through the air and hit the target dead-on.

Paton's jaw dropped. "You certainly have one talented daughter, Lord Sealbhach," he said when he had recovered.

Her father rubbed the back of his head with his hand. "Yes, she's rather talented."

"May I join the Archers?" Saoirse asked as she stood before the archer.

Paton leaned down. "We shall start training immediately. You'll be spending a lot of time practising  do you understand? And no dresses. Wear trousers and a tunic, they won't limit you as much. I expect you here tomorrow after you break your fast, all right?"

She nodded her head solemnly.

Quote of the day: Do one thing every day that scares you. - Eleanor Roosevelt 

Saturday, 6 October 2012

October Memoir and Backstory Blog Challenge Day 6

Saoirse Sixth Year


Saoirse grew to be afraid of her eyes when she discovered what others thought of silverns. On occasion she would forget to change her eye colour. Whenever this happened the king and his family would act as though they were not related. Many others who saw her were also afraid of her eyes. Her father never called her by her given name whenever her eyes were silver in public. Instead he would call her by her silvern name: Silverhart. He had given it to her when he had spotted a silver hart racing through the wood one day.

One day two boys and a much older girl were pushing her around. They had been in the castle courtyard and not many people were around.
               
"Why do you have silver eyes? I want silver eyes!" the fat boy said as he pushed her to the ground.
                
"I think I deserve the silver eyes," the girl said as she kicked Saoirse in the side.
                
Saoirse curled up in a ball and placed her hands over her head as her father had taught her in case she was attacked by a wild animal.
                
"What do you think would happen if we cut out her silver eyes?" the lean boy asked. He produced a knife as long as his forearm and advanced on her.
                
She saw the knife in his hand and her eyes grew wide. She began shaking her head and closed her eyes tight, squeezing them shut. "No, no, no, no! Please, leave me be. Go away!" She heard their thoughts in her head. They were abusing her, calling her names, thinking about what they could do with a knife to her. To her eyes. "No!" She was shaking now, the boy with the knife only inches away from her face as he leaned down, leering at her.
                
"You there, what are you doing with Silverhart?"
                
The voice was familiar and warm. The children ran away in fear. They did not want to be caught taunting the king's property.
                
Saoirse felt strong, warm arms wrap around her and lift her off of the ground. As she was carried into the wooden palace the familiar voice spoke soothing words. She was placed on a bed and a hand rested on her shoulder.
                
"What were they doing, Saoirse?"
                
It was her father. He had rescued her from the horrible, horrible children.
                
"They wanted to cut out my eyes, father." Tears seeped through her closed lids onto her face and dripped onto her pillow. "They wanted to know if I would still have my power without my eyes. If they could take it from me. They wanted to cut out my eyes," she whispered. 

Quote of the day: Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something. - William Goldman

Friday, 5 October 2012

October Memoir and Backstory Blog Challenge Day 5

Saoirse Fifth Year

In Saoirse's fifth year, a deadly plague swept through the city of Aberness. Many either died or were horribly crippled with lingering health issues. King Artair's only son and heir, Art, was the only one in the royal family to fall ill. After many painful days, he eventually passed away in a poppy-induced sleep.

The entire city mourned the young boy's untimely death, but could not be worried too long with the king's problem when they had their own. The city's finest physicians and witches worked to find a cure. Sealbhach, Brighde, and Saoirse were lucky enough to be free of the illness.

When it seemed as though the plague had disappeared, Brighde fell terribly ill. She remained bed-ridden and confined to a room separate from everyone else. Saoirse would often stand in the doorway and watch her mother silently.

The day finally came when Brighde knew she would die. She was getting worse and would not live to see the next sun rise. She called Saoirse to her bedside. Her daughter ran to her, not caring what the doctors said.

"My dear," Brighde croaked. "I want you to know that you are a very special young girl." She gently placed a hand on Saoirse's head and rubbed her thumb on her daughter's forehead affectionately. "I want you to understand that this was not your fault." She gently touched her daughter's eyes with her thumb one at a time. "Grace has given you a gift, and you must learn to use it wisely."

Saoirse nodded. Her eyes were glassy with tears as she watched her mother closely. Brighde was frail and weak. She seemed tiny covered in the many blankets as she was.

"I hope you understand that my death is a part of life. People come and go, with only a select few remaining in your life. You must cling to those people as they will aid you in all your endeavours. I may leave, but another will take my place. A new friend perhaps you will meet." Brighde paused and took a shaky breath. "Please know that I love you."

Her daughter hugged her tightly. When she pulled away, she found her mother had pushed a locket into her hand. "Keep it with you, for it will bring you good luck," her mother said with a smile.

Brighde shivered and looked at her daughter once more. She gripped her hand tightly and smiled as well as she could before closing her eyes and taking a final breath.

The young girl watched to see if her mother would open her eyes again, or take another breath, but when it soon became apparent she had left this world. The doctors tried to take Saoirse away from the room but she fought them. She hit them and kicked, clawing through them to get back to her mother's side. Her tiny frame shook with the force of her sobs. She called her mother's name until they took her away.

Time moved slowly. A witch gently lifted her up and took her away from the room as another doctor pulled the blanket over Brighde's calm face. People watched as she was carried away and taken to her own room. The witch placed her on her bed and left, casting one last sympathetic glance at the young girl.

Sealbhach came to the doorway and spoke to the witch, questioning her. When he heard the news he put a hand against the doorframe to hold himself up. He sent the woman away and looked at his daughter.

Saoirse lay on her bed with her back to her father. She had fallen silent, her tears falling freely down her face and onto the blankets. Her shoulders rose and fell as she took deep breaths.

Her father moved toward her and sat next to her on the bed. He gently placed a hand on her shoulder. She closed her eyes tightly. She turned and looked up at him, her eyes a piercing silver. Sealbhach hugged her tightly and she began to sob again. They sat like that for a long time, both crying onto each other's shoulders.

The moon set and the sun rose, casting its warm light into the room. Saoirse felt it was cruel that the day could be so happy and bright when a tragedy had just occurred.

"Your mother would want us to move on," Sealbhach finally said.

She said nothing.

"Dear, you must go to sleep. Get some rest and we'll speak in the morning."

He tucked her into bed and made to leave. "Father?"

"Yes, Saoirse?"

"I want to learn how to shoot a bow and arrow."

He nodded. "We shall see."

Quote of the day: I don't want to repeat my innocence. I want the pleasure of losing it again. - F. Scott Fitzgerald

Thursday, 4 October 2012

October Memoir and Backstory Blog Challenge Day 4

Saoirse Fourth Year

Saoirse became close friends with her cousins. Brighde watched as her daughter grew more confident around the other girls whilst Beathag kept a close eye on anyone who became suspicious of the little girl.

The young silvern became enamoured with her city in the forest. It was beautiful and enchanting. There was always something happening, and always one place she hadn't been. She dragged her mentor all over town trying to find out its secrets. Although she was beginning to know Aberness, she had yet to explore what lay beyond it. The trees and rivers and mountains were not familiar to her at all.

Beathag decided it was time to take her beyond the walls. They stepped beyond the city's gates and Saoirse was awe-struck. Before her were trees that reached the sky. They were enormously tall and wide. The amount of greenery was astounding. Birds sang in their homes and other animal sounds could be heard around them.

The elder silvern took Saoirse only a little way beyond the city's walls. They played in the river that ran nearby and searched for pretty stones.

As Saoirse was searching for a stone for her mother, a little bird alighted on a nearby branch. She looked up and watched it curiously. The bird cocked its head and twittered at her. Saoirse gently focused on the bird and heard its gentle singing thoughts. She whistled to it and titled her head to one side. The bird replied in kind, hopping a little closer. She encouraged the bird to sit on her hand and smiled. She called to Beathag with her mind and looked up at her with the biggest smile.

Beathag smiled back and whistled to the bird. It looked at her and cocked its head before flying off. "Very impressive, Saoirse. Let's go tell your mother and father about what you did today."

Saoirse nodded and followed the older lady. Suddenly, Beathag became rigid. She turned her head this way and that, as if to hear something clearer. She pushed Saoirse forward. "Run, girl, run! Get inside the gates!"

The young girl ran without thinking, obeying Beathag's command. The older silvern followed less agilely. Behind them, men were chasing them. They were dressed in dark green and wore scarves that covered their faces. The men notched their arrows and began shooting at the pair.

"Run, Saoirse! Keep going," Beathag yelled. They stumbled through the gates, but did not stop. Beathag found a nearby soldier.

"Raiders! There are raiders beyond the walls!" she shouted at him. He nodded and signalled to the soldiers on the wall. Arrows rained down on the enemy.

Saoirse stood in the midst of the confusion with her eyes wide. Silver began to peak through her green irises. Beathag immediately went over to her and held her close. "Are you all right dear? Are you hurt?"

She could only shake her head.

The older woman gently stroked her hair, repeatedly saying, "It's all right, it's going to be okay."

Saoirse watched over her mentor's shoulder as the men on the wall fired arrows down at the men beyond. She made a promise to herself that one day she would be able to use a bow and protect the people of her fair city.

Quote of the day: You never really understand a person until you consider things form his point of view . . . Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it. - Harper Lee

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

October Memoir and Backstory Blog Challenge Day 3

Saoirse Third Year

Saoirse quickly gained control of the ability to alter the colour of her eyes; usually this took many years. Beathag, her mentor and tutor, was impressed and told the parents of her young charge that she would grow up to be a very powerful silvern.

When Saoirse turned three, Beathag began teaching her a basic education. She learned her alphabet and extremely basic maths. Mainly she was taught how to master her abilities. Her mentor, who was also a silvern, taught her how to listen to a person's thoughts, how to sense a presence, to discover a person's character.

One day, Beathag decided it would be best for the young girl to leave the nursery and see the rest of the palace. Brighde wasn't very keen on this idea, but she was won over when she saw her daughter's eyes turn forest green.

The next day Beathag took Saoirse out of her nursery for the first time. They traversed the corridors of the palace and made their way out to the courtyard. Saoirse remained silent, simply taking in the beauty of the forest that was her home. She had often seen the trees out of her window and smelled the foliage, but she never could she have imagined the true size of those trees or the scent of the leaves so close to her face.

Aberness was a busy city. The sights and sounds made her head dizzy. Beathag took her to the palace gardens. The flowers and bushes surrounded her protectively.

Two young girls were also outside playing games. Saoirse watched the pair with her wide eyes. "Why do you not go to them?" Beathag asked.

"I don't know them," she replied, clutching Beathag's skirts.

"You're not afraid of them, are you?"

She shook her head.

"Well go on, go say hello. They are your cousins." Beathag gently pushed Saoirse toward the young girls who had stopped and watched the whole process curiously.

Saoirse approached the girls slowly. When she was standing two feet away she stopped. "Hello," she said in a low voice.

Deirdre looked at her. "Hi, I'm Deirdre, and this is my sister Morrigan."

Morrigan simply waved.

"I'm Saoirse."

"I know. We're your cousins," the elder princess said. She leaned in close. "Don't worry, we won't tell anyone about your secret. You can trust us." She leaned away and smiled widely.

Saoirse gently listened to her thoughts as Beathag taught her and realized that young girl meant what she said. The silvern smiled back, albeit a little shyly.

"Do you want to play with us? We were just going to pick some flowers."

Saoirse nodded and ran off with her cousins to pick the prettiest flowers they could find.

Beathag watched the young girls from a distance. She smiled as she watched her young charge laugh and talk animatedly with her cousins. She may not have the same eye colour as the other little children in the palace, but she could still make friends with them.

Quote of the day: To do the useful thing, to say the courageous thing, to contemplate the beautiful thing: that is enough for one man's life. - T.S. Eliot

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

October Memoir and Backstory Blog Challenge Day 2

Saoirse Second Year

The other courtiers whispered about Brighde and Sealbhach. The most popular rumour was that their daughter had died days after she had been born. Several others said that Brighde had miscarried, that the child was locked in a tower, and that she had been so deformed the couple had been obliged to kill her. The lesser circulated rumour was that she was a silvern. No one paid much attention to those rumours.

Whenever Brighde heard them she turned up her nose and went to comfort her two year old daughter. She was beginning to speak. her sentences were much more formal than the other two year olds in the palace. She ran around the nursery, forcing her mother to chase after her.

One day Brighde fell asleep with Saoirse in her arms. The little girl gently wiggled her way out of her mother's grasp and slipped to the floor. She could hear someone's thoughts on the other side of her door.

Hoping it was her father, she quickly ran to the door and pulled it open. Instead of her father, standing before her were two young girls. They were Artair's daughters, gone searching for the trapped cousin. Deirdre, the eldest at five years, gasped loudly. Morrigan, who was the same age as Saoirse, simply stared. "You're a silvern!" Deirdre whispered loudly.

The door slammed close. Saoirse looked up. Standing over her was her mother in tears. She kneeled down and forced her daughter to look her in the eye. "Saoirse, you must never open that door. Do you understand me?"

Saoirse simply nodded, her eyes wide as she looked at her mother, slowly comprehending Brighde's thoughts. "I understand."

Her mother hugged her tightly, hoping her nieces would be silent. She had always laughed off the rumour that Saoirse was a silvern in public, and she knew that courtiers would simply laugh at the imaginative daughters of Artair. She still held her daughter close, as if she could protect her from all of the scorn and mockery that would one day be directed at Saoirse if anyone found out what she was.

Quote of the day: If you kin see de light at daybreak, you don't keer if you die at dusk. It's so many people never seen de light at all. - Zora Neale Hurston

Monday, 1 October 2012

October Memoir and Backstory Blog Challenge Day 1

Today is the first day in the October Memoir and Backstory Blog Challenge. Basically you post memories from your past through all of October in any medium you so desire. There is also an option to write the backstory for characters in your writing. This is the option that I have chosen to help flesh out my main character.

Saoirse First Year

When Saoirse was born with her eyes closed, no one knew what she was. As soon as she opened them in the privacy of her own nursery, her mother and father knew that everything would change. They called in her uncle, the king. When he saw her eyes, he hesitated.

"Does anyone else know?" he asked.

Brighde, Saoirse's mother, shook her head.

They all looked down at the baby girl. Her large eyes were wide as she gazed up at them all with silver irises.

"This must be kept a secret," King Artair said. "No one must know of this. For now she will remain in a private nursery and isolated from the other children until she can master her eyes."

Brighde and Sealbhach, the father, both looked at each other. They knew that their daughter's silver eyes meant she was a silvern, a psychic. It is law that all silverns work for the king and live within his palace. The silverns were feared due to their power and so were either mocked or ignored by everyone else. Having one in the family was considered a curse. That Artair wanted to keep Saoirse's powers a secret was not a blessing to her parents, he simply had a reputation to maintain.

Saoirse remained silent through all of this. If she focused on one adult she could faintly hear their thoughts. When she blinked her eyes changed colour before returning back to their natural silver hue.

Her mother looked down at her and smiled gently. Her daughter would have a difficult life ahead of her.

Quote of the day: It doesn't matter which side of the fence you get off on sometimes. What matters most is getting off. You cannot make progress without making decisions. - Jim Rohn

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Saturday Break

There is nothing new in my life, I have not been working on my WIP (baaaaaad Meghan), and I have been working (not a very good excuse) and so I thought I would share a picture with you all that did in fact make me laugh when I saw it.

Source

I found this on Pinterest. In case any of you don't know, Pinterest is a website where you can pin pictures to boards. Basically it's a massive bulletin board split into smaller bulletin boards and smothered all over with pictures. You can follow people, obtain followers, repin, add pins, etc, etc. I have a board specifically for book inspiration. You can check out my boards here.

Quote of the day: Don't gobblefunk around with words. - Roald Dahl

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Back in the Swing of Things

So today was the first day back to school. I was very proud that I didn't have my white sheet of paper saying where/when my classes took place (memorized them, because I'm cool like that) and that I knew my way around campus. I wasn't as nervous as I was last year because I've already got a year under my belt and I had met lots of people in my program in a lot of my classes last year. Going to my classes today I didn't know if anyone I knew was going to be in them, simply because a lot of my friends are in different programs, so I was pleasantly surprised when I got to my classes and realized I had a person to sit with in each one. My professors that I had today seem really nice so I'm pleased with both of those classes so far. I already have some readings assigned, which isn't too bad since I have no classes on Fridays. I am officially designating it my homework/errand/miscellaneous day. Anyway, just wanted to give you guys an update on what's going on.

Also, if you want to be a part of Gearing Up To Get An Agent but haven't signed up yet, it's not too late! You can take part in any activity throughout the month. I know I've also gained a ton of new followers so I want to take this moment to say hello to you all! If you have any questions/concerns/comments don't be afraid to let me know.

Quote of the day: I would hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo, and if an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight, to create a sense of the hunger for life that gnaws in us all. - Richard Wright

Monday, 3 September 2012

GUTGAA Meet and Greet Monday

Hello everyone! This is my meet and greet post for the Gearing Up To Get An Agent Blogfest. Basically it's a way for me to introduce myself to you fellow GUTGAA bloggers and also I think it's a great way for those of you who were already following me to get to know me a little better. Deana Barnhart posted up some questions on her blog to answer, and I'll also add some tidbits that aren't mentioned in the questions.

Questions for the Meet and Greet:

1. Where do you write?
-I write at my desk in front of my bedroom window. I think it's a great place where I can look out on my backyard and get some inspiration from nature if needed. It's also great if there's a breeze and it's hot out. I will also move around the house if I don't feel like writing at my desk.

2. Quick. Go to your writing space, sit down and look to your left. What is the first thing you see?
-My bookshelf. It's full of novels and books that I need to either finish or start reading, as well as books that have already been read and textbooks that I need to read for this year.

3. Favourite time to write?
-I don't have one. I tend to write whenever, especially when inspiration strikes. Although I do tend to favour writing in the evening. I like to sit in bed then all curled up in my blankets and write under my reading light. It adds atmosphere!

4. Drink of choice while writing?
-Usually I'll drink water whilst I write. Sometimes I'll have milk or fruit juice or a smoothie, but it's usually water more often than not.

5. When writing, do you listen to music or do you need complete silence?
-Oh I listen to music. I can't stand sitting in complete silence. I always need some kind of background noise, even if it isn't music. I love listening to classical music, movie scores, soundtracks, instrumental music, and other songs that have some kind of reference to what it is I am writing.

6. What was your inspiration for you latest manuscript and where did you find it?
-I was really inspired after reading Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore to write my latest manuscript. The inspiration wasn't exactly from that book, it was more from a character in that novel who also plays the heroine in Fire by Kristin Cashore. Also Tolkien has played a major part (of course) especially since I was currently reading The Lord of the Rings.

7. What's your most valuable writing tip?
-Always, always, always keep a notebook or paper on hand. You never know when inspiration will strike. I carry a notebook with me everywhere and jot down any inspiration or ideas that come to me.

Here are some other random facts that I'm throwing in here for fun.


  • I don't have a favourite colour, I go through phases.
  • I have three favourite numbers: 7, 12, 21
  • I played forward in rugby in my last year of high school, second row or lock if any of you know rugby/were wondering.
  • I've worn glasses since I was 9.
  • The first books I wrote were stories about Pokemon, also illustrated by yours truly, when I was six.
  • I am an English student.
  • Tolkien is my favourite author.
  • I'm a crazy Disney fan.

Well, I suppose that's all. If you have any questions just let me know and I'll try to respond ASAP. 

Quote of the day: If you would tell me the heart of a man, tell me not what he reads , but what he rereads. - Francois Mauriac


Thursday, 23 August 2012

Gearing Up To Get An Agent Blogfest Year 2

I am excited. Do you know why? Deana Barnhart is doing the Gearing Up to Get an Agent Blogfest for the second time. This time it is happening in September rather than July, like it did last year. This is a great way to meet new writers, ask people questions, and make new friends in the blogosphere. I met tons of writers, published and unpublished, last year and had a blast.

This year it's going to be bigger and better than ever. Each week there will be an event. You can sign up for the entire month or each week separately. Since this year it is occurring during the start of my school year, I'll probably stick to signing up to each week separately since there is just so much going on in that first month of university.

There will also be random drawings for prizes throughout the month, which is always great, and there will be an agent pitch contest. Deana has got 8 agents this year who will accept Adult, YA, and MG. There will also be a small publishing house pitch contest.

This is still technically a blog hop, so there are tons of blogs signed up already. You can check out their links to say hi, follow them early, or visit old friends if you were a part of this blogfest last year. You can sign up here.

Quote of the day: I have never listened to anyone who criticized my taste in space travel, sideshows or gorillas. When this occurs, I pack up my dinosaurs and leave the room. - Ray Bradbury

Friday, 17 August 2012

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was a really interesting novel. It only focused on Tom Sawyer is a boy and there was essentially no 'real' plot to it. By no 'real' plot I mean that of course there was plot in that Tom's story is a story but that it doesn't seem as though there is a plot, if you understand what I'm saying. The novel didn't focus on Tom's transition from childhood to adulthood, from being some crazy Southern child to someone more sophisticated. It is simply about a boy being a boy and what comes of it. The characters were all really interesting, with Tom interacting in different ways with each of them. They were all very realistic, not a one being perfect (since no human is). The 'plot' had no holes in it that I could discern. I really liked the conclusion of the story as well. While reading the book I had thought that that would be the way that it would end, but wasn't totally sure. There were so many mini plots that took place that I was never totally sure which was the overall plot and which was simply an event that occurred before the actual conclusion. I also really enjoyed how Tom was best friends with Huckleberry Finn, even though everyone and their mother forbade their children to even look at him. Tom was really kind to Huck and Huck was really not a bad character. Overall I was really impressed with this story and will definitely look into the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I really recommend this. It's a book that isn't just meant for children or adults, it's a very universal tale. There was the correct amount of humour and seriousness, without either one being over done. I really enjoyed this book and am very happy I read it.

Quote of the day: Tom's whole being applauded this idea. It was deep, and dark, and awful; the hour, the circumstances, the surroundings, were in keeping with it. - Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding

From Amazon:

In the course of the year recorded in Bridget Jones's Diary, Bridget confides her hopes, her dreams, and her monstrously fluctuating poundage, not to mention her consumption of 5277 cigarettes and "Fat units 3457 (approx.) (hideous in every way)." In 365 days, she gains 74 pounds. On the other hand, she loses 72! There is also the unspoken New Year's resolution--the quest for the right man. Alas, here Bridget goes severely off course when she has an affair with her charming cad of a boss. But who would be without their e-mail flirtation focused on a short black skirt? The boss even contends that it is so short as to be nonexistent.
At the beginning of Helen Fielding's exceptionally funny second novel, the thirtyish publishing puffette is suffering from postholiday stress syndrome but determined to find Inner Peace and poise. Bridget will, for instance, "get up straight away when wake up in mornings." Now if only she can survive the party her mother has tricked her into--a suburban fest full of "Smug Marrieds" professing concern for her and her fellow "Singletons"--she'll have made a good start. As far as she's concerned, "We wouldn't rush up to them and roar, 'How's your marriage going? Still having sex?'"
This is only the first of many disgraces Bridget will suffer in her year of performance anxiety (at work and at play, though less often in bed) and living through other people's "emotional fuckwittage." Her twin-set-wearing suburban mother, for instance, suddenly becomes a chat-show hostess and unrepentant adulteress, while our heroine herself spends half the time overdosing on Chardonnay and feeling like "a tragic freak." Bridget Jones's Diary began as a column in the London Independent and struck a chord with readers of all sexes and sizes. In strokes simultaneously broad and subtle, Helen Fielding reveals the lighter side of despair, self-doubt, and obsession, and also satirizes everything from self-help books (they don't sound half as sensible to Bridget when she's sober) to feng shui, Cosmopolitan-style. She is the Nancy Mitford of the 1990s, and it's impossible not to root for her endearing heroine. On the other hand, one can only hope that Bridget will continue to screw up and tell us all about it for years and books to come. --Kerry Fried --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

This was a great book. I'm not normally into the whole 'chic-lit' thing simply because it doesn't really intrigue me, but this book is one that I love. I've seen the movie so I knew what to expect (and I loved it so that probably helped) but what I wasn't expecting was the incredible amount of differences between the book and movie, as well as a suspiciously similar plot line to one of my favourite books. I realized about three quarters of the way through the book that this novel was almost exactly like Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Bridget Jones's Diary deals with a Mr. Wickham (Daniel Cleaver), and Mr. Darcy (Mark Darcy), a Lydia (Bridget's mom), and another Mr. Wickham (Julio). As similar as the plot line for this story is to Pride and Prejudice, it also has its differences. It is modern (dur), and Elizabeth Bennet's mom wasn't as much of a twit as Bridget's (amongst other things, but I don't want to spoil it for you). I found no plot holes, the characters extremely well rounded, and the comedy wonderful. I could really relate to Bridget, which is a thing I think all writers strive to achieve, and her way of thinking. I think all women have troubles with body-image (and if they say they don't, they're lying), 'dieting', men, their jobs, families, and basically every day life. I absolutely loved Bridget's character, as well as Mark's. She was so refreshing from the usual 'damsel in distress' type of character you find in chic-lit novels that include a love interest (nearly all). She was independent, but struggled with the whole 'a woman shouldn't need a man to be happy' idea, as well as stereotypes of singles, which she is throughout the majority of the novel. Mark was an extremely great male character. He is definitely one of those men that women would use to compare to real men in their lives, but someone who could also end up being real and not give women extremely ridiculous expectations for men. If you prefer Daniel Cleaver, I think there may be something wrong with you. I also really love the warning on the front of the book below the picture. It reads 'HEALTH WARNING: Adopting Bridget's lifestyle could seriously damage your health.' Which is very true, which anyone who has read this book before will agree with me on. Again, if you don't, I think there may be something wrong with you. This is not because I don't like people who don't agree with me, it's just that it is extremely unhealthy to binge smoke, drink, and diet all at the same time. Overall, I loved this book and would definitely recommend it. This will definitely be re-read in the future.

Quote of the day: Then we had a long discussion about the comparative merits of Mr Darcy and Mark Darcy, both agreeing that Mr Darcy was more attractive because he was ruder but that being imaginary was a disadvantage that could not be overlooked. - Helen Fielding, Bridget Jones's Diary

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Chicago, IL Day 6

Chicago, IL Day 6: Friday

Friday was our last day. We got up at 8:15 and instead of heading down to Tempo, we ate a breakfast of bars, bananas, and water. We packed everything up and made sure nothing was left behind in the hotel room. After that we signed out of the hotel and had the bell hop hold our luggage until we had to go catch our train.
Cell phone charging station in front of the John Hancock building
The Hope sign in front of the John Hancock building with my mom
In order to waste our time we shopped at 900 shops, which was very expensive. We basically only shopped at Bloomingdale's, which had a great variety of clothes. I thought it had a lot more variety and better selection than the Macy's in New York.

We ate lunch at the Cheesecake Factory, simply because there is a Cheesecake Factory in The Big Bang Theory. I ordered a lemonade, a classic burger, and a key lime cheesecake.



The burger was really good, although the fries were too much. The cheesecake was very light and delicious! Service here was also very good, although our waitress kept saying 'thank you', which I thought was getting very bothersome.

After lunch we went to a deli to get some sandwiches for the ride home, since train food is awful. People make fun of airplane food, but really they should be making fun of train food. We then hung out in the lobby until it was time for us to leave for our train. We took a taxi to Union Station. Our taxi actually took us a block away from Union Station, which forced us to walk a block with all of our suitcases. We made it to the station and waited quite a while, which has left a very bad impression on me of American train transportation.

The train ride went by the same as before, making all the same stops. When we got back to Port Huron, we were expecting two taxis that had been asked for prior to our arrival. There was only one taxi and the other one could not be found. Since he had not shown up we hopped into another taxi and headed back over to the Hampton where our car was parked.

As we headed back to London, we were all exhausted. My mom got some coffee and we made it to the border. I'm pretty sure the customs officer must have thought I was on drugs my eyes were half closed and were probably bloodshot I was so tired. This was one o'clock Saturday morning and I had to work later that day. Once we crossed the border it started POURING rain. It was raining so hard my mom couldn't see. I fell asleep and slept the whole hour back home and then woke up when we arrived at home sweet home.

Quote of the day: Good humour may be said to be one of the very best articles of dress one can wear in society. - William Makepeace Thackeray

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Chicago, IL Day 5

Chicago, IL Day 5: Thursday

We got up around 8:30 and ate at, you guessed it, Tempo Cafe. This time I ordered the 3 eggs any style to get some variation from the French toast. My 'any style' was overeasy, my favourite style of egg. I found this morning that the service wasn't as good and the eggs weren't that great. The first two times we ate at Tempo we had the same waitress, but this time we had a different one. One of my eggs wasn't fully cooked and my hashbrowns were only slightly warm. This was a big disappointment because I loved the French toast so much. I will say this, the toast was really good.


After eating we took the 10 to the Museum of Science and Industry. The 10 was a specific bus for the museum that went straight there, although many other people took the bus simply to get where they were going.


Brother in front of train model from Chicago to Seattle.

U-505


Tornado
While there we saw the Mythbusters exhibit. I was actually very disappointed with the exhibit. It was very small and not as interesting as I thought it would be. Basically what you did was try to bust the myths that they had done on the show, such as running in the rain.

Mythbusters!!
I was actually pretty disappointed with the entire museum as a whole, aside from the Omnimax which was a giant spherical movie theatre that really immersed you. I thought that the Science Museum of Ontario and the National Museum of Science and Technology are better are both better than this museum, as well as being Canadian. You have to pay simply to get in to the museum, and then if you actually want to see anything interesting you have to pay to see each of those entertainments, which adds up fast.

When we were done there we took the 10 back. We got off near the Hard Rock Cafe and ate there for dinner. I ordered a lemonade and a classic 6 oz. burger. It was good food and service, as usual. We then walked back to the Gap, did some shopping, and headed back to the hotel.

Quote of the day: A smile is the chosen vehicle of all ambiguities. - Herman Melville 

Chicago, IL Day 4

Chicago, IL Day 4: Wednesday

So day 4 we woke up and ate breakfast at Tempo again. This time I ordered the Morning Glory Special, which was French toast with strawberries, blueberries, and bananas.


My brother's Belgian waffle
We then took the 145 to Madison and State. We went shopping along that strip and then met back at the hotel for 3:30.

After returning we went for a quick swim at the hotel. The pool there is on the very top floor. Along with the pool, there is also a sauna, fitness room, change room, and bathrooms.

We then took the 66 to to Navy Pier. We did the 5:30 architectural boat tour. It was really cool. There were lots of really interesting buildings. After the Chicago fire, nothing was left standing except for the old Watertower, so they had to rebuild everything. A lot of the architecture there is very neoclassical and has a lot of European influence.







We then ate at Harry Caray's Tavern for dinner at Navy Pier.

Navy Pier sign, not lit up.


At Harry Caray's I ordered a Sierra Mist and a Tavern Burger. The food was great and service was awesome. It was actually so hot that day that when I got my drink, though the glass was sweating and it was filled with ice cubes, it didn't feel cold at all. It actually felt lukewarm, it was that hot! Our waitress was really great. She had an AMAZING memory and remembered all of our orders perfectly.

After eating we decided to go on the Ferris Wheel there. It had actually been created to honour the original Ferris Wheel that had been built for the world expo. It was VERY high up but it was really neat to see, especially at night when the city was all lit up.




While we were waiting for the fireworks to start, a flash mob appeared! It was pretty fun, but rather organised so it didn't look all that great. After the fireworks we grabbed the 66 back to the hotel. There were a TON of people waiting to hop on the 66 with us, but all eight of us managed to get on the same bus. 

When we got back to the hotel we went to bed almost right away we were all so exhausted.

Quote of the day: You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. - James Baldwin

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Chicago, IL Day 3

Chicago, IL Day 3: Tuesday

***Warning: Photo heavy post

Tuesday we got up at 8:30 and took a five minute walk to the Tempo Cafe.


I ordered the French toast, which came with a whole peeled banana, and a large cranberry juice since they had run out of grapefruit juice.



My brother ordered the short stack chocolate chip pancakes and was kind enough to drizzle syrup on them prettily.

The service was really nice. You could eat inside or outside. The inside was more of a deli but the outside is what I would imagine a Paris cafe would look like. There were lots of tables with plenty of condiments. The people were nice enough to put together enough tables for us (eight people remember!). The waitress we had was really great at remembering everything and was really accommodating. The prices for this restaurant are also really great and the portions are enormous. I find that all meals in Chicago come in large portions, so if you go be prepared for that.

After breakfast we went to the visitor's centre and got a three day city bus pass for $14/person. This was great because not everything we wanted to go to was near us and it was much cheaper than taking a cab.

We then caught the 146 and that took us straight to the Shedd Aquarium.


There were lots of really good exhibits. We went to the Jellie's exhibit, watched Ice Age 3 4D in a 15 minute nutshell, saw an aquatic show, and looked at all the fishies/aquatic creatures.

The suction part is on the top of its head.


Chameleon

Sea Otter

Sea horses

Sea horses

A type of anemone

Sea star

Baby monkey

Tree snake

Anaconda

Fish with letters on them. How appropriate!

Massive green frog

Itty bitty green frogs


Found Nemo!

Shark exhibit



They grow their own coral at the Shedd Aquarium

Jellies




Upside down jellies


Teeny tiny jellies




For some reason there was an owl at the show.



Yellow frogs

Really tiny shrimp

The architecture of the building was also really cool. I found that most of the architecture in Chicago was very neoclassical/European/Grecian. The details in this building were AMAZING.

When we were done at the Shedd we took the 146 back and got off at T.G.I. Friday's. I ordered the three course meal for $16.99. You could also get a two course for $12.99. For my meal I ordered pot-stickers as an appetizer, the Black Angus petite sirloin medium well with broccoli and sweet potato fries,  the Oreo madness for desert, and a lemonade to drink. I received five pot-stickers, which were very well done. The meat was good and the presentation was also a nice touch. It came with a sauce but I didn't care for it. The steak was really good. It was a rather tiny 6 oz. steak, but I thought it was enough. The broccoli was not cooked as much as I would have liked. It was still crisp, and when I get boiled broccoli I expect it to be boiled. The sweet potato fries were covered in too much salt I thought. They tasted great, but the salt was too much. The Oreo madness was VERY good. It was basically an Oreo ice cream sandwich with Oreo ice cream in between the two cookies.

Oreo Madness

Vanilla Bean Cheesecake - Dad's order
After eating we walked back to the hotel and relaxed for a bit before heading off to the Land of Nod.

Quote of the day: Never fear quarrels, but seek hazardous adventures. - Alexandre Dumas