May 28, 2013

The Tale of Dozyville

So, I told some of my dear writer friends that we should do a small project; each of us should write our own short story based off of a picture I found on Pinterest, and then share it with each other. I thought it would be a good idea for me to share with everyone else in the meantime, since it's just for fun. ;)
    And now, here is the picture... and then begins my short story.

Amelia was walking through the garden, picking ripe pods from the rows of peas. Mother was selling the chickens' eggs and fresh leeks at the market, and Father was working in the wheat fields with the other men of Dozyville.

    So, Amelia was by herself that sunny summer morning, which suited her just fine. She carried the basket of pods into her parents' cottage, stoked the fire, swept the ever-dusty floor for the third time that day, and sat down to shuck the pea pods at the table.

    The peas were perfectly green, and Amelia helped herself to a large handful when the basket was full. She was already feeling quite sleepy, though the day was new. Without really meaning to, Amelia dozed off, her pale brown braid dusting some peas onto the floor as she leaned her head down onto the table. She began to dream sweet dreams of trees gushing with fresh sap for maple syrup. Sweet, surreal syrup.... She slipped her arm under her head to make the dream even pleasanter, and in her whimsical rest didn't notice the sprite climbing out of the cauldron.

    Sprites like mischief, and living near Dozyville, they often chose to be mischievous to the unknowing people there. You may have guessed by now that there is a reason why the town is so named: Sprites put a sleeping spell over their victims, whispering little soothing songs that are too soft for the big people to hear, but too powerful for them to fight against even if they should happen to know about the rogues all around them.

    These particular sprites were young and small enough to easily hide behind the carrots and potatoes and onions Amelia had placed in the cauldron to make soup for luncheon. Sprites are moderately patient, but when Amelia had lit the fire their little toes grew hot, so they cast their spell hurriedly, hopped up on top of the hot vegetables and crawled out of the cauldron, quite ready to avenge their blistered toes.

    "Let's tie her braid to the leg of the table," one sprite suggested eagerly.

    Two more sprites followed after the first, and one nodded in agreement. "Let's mush peas in her hair and under her fingernails!"

    The third was lazier, and had grown a bit of an appetite waiting so long in the cauldron. He began eating peas, smiling impishly while his brothers began to work their mischief.

    A fourth sprite was still peeking over the edge of the cauldron, and took a moment and a great deal of strength to tumble over the lip, narrowly missing the fire as he fell. Amelia snorted in her sleep, and all four sprites froze in their places. But Amelia did not wake, and so they let out a quiet, unified sigh and went back to work.

    The sprites snickered as they finished their handiwork and scampered out the front door of the cottage. They steered towards the garden and began pulling up carrots and nibbling the young leeks that Amelia's mother deemed to small yet to sell. They congratulated each other on their success and enjoyed their prize, stuffing as many seeds and beans and other small vegetables in their pockets as they could carry.

    One of the sprites lifted up his ear to the sky suddenly, and looked alarmed. "One of the big folk is coming along the path!"

    They ducked under the cabbages when the lumbering big person came by, and nudged each other gleefully when the woman entered the cottage and began to shriek. "...So irresponsible!" was all the sprites heard as they scuttled away through and beyond the garden back to their secret homes, chuckling all the way.

    In the forest that surrounded Dozyville, in the shelter of the tall trees, these four sprites lived with the rest of their kin. They retold the events of their day to a rapt audience. But as they went to bed that night in their oak-leaf and thistle-down nests, the sprites planned the same scheme for the following day. "Only this time," the laziest of the four said excitedly, "we'll start before the girl's mum has left for the day, and leave a surprise for the father when he returns from work after dusk!"

    The other sprites agreed and whispered a special little song to sooth themselves to a light summer sleep.

    The next morning, the sprites left before the sun touched the top of the horizon, stumbling through the dark to the cottage on the edge of Dozyville. Amelia was up earlier than usual, not doubt trying to make up for her sleepy mistake the day before, and was already in the garden harvesting food, confusion riddling her face at the tiny bites marks on the vegetables.

    When Amelia at length went into the cottage, the sprites followed cautiously. They narrowly missing being trod upon in their hurry to hide beneath the stove, trying to avoid being seen. The tips of their pointy little ears brushed the black metal of the stove, and they grumbled to each other that it was already lit for morning tea. Their little brows began to drip with sweat as they waited for Amelia's mother to wake - which seemed to take hours - and then eagerly put the sleeping spell over the big folk and crawled out from beneath their hot hideout.

    There were no peas to mush into hair today, but as they crossed the floor to the big people's toes, the sprites noticed a great deal of not-yet-swept dirt. They glanced at each other, grinning impishly. "What an opportunity!" one of them said as Amelia and her mother snored and dreamed.

    The sprites scooped up handfuls of dust and dirt, and in pairs climbed up the skirts of the women and onto their laps. They drew pictures of the people on their aprons from a sprite's perspective - fat, stupid, slow, and of course sleepy - and colored their faces and fingers black with stray charcoal fallen on the hearth.

    The sprites clapped their hands with delight and waited near the cottage until night, munching on vegetables until Amelia's father returned home from a long day of working in the fields. The man scratched his head in such confusion, the sprites were stuffing leaves up each others' noses to keep from laughing too loudly.

    Off they went back to their homes; they recounted their tale of success, and their kin laughed harder than ever. Some of them asked to join the four the next day for another adventure, and made even more dastardly plans.

    This time, Amelia and Mother were up and Father with them, for it was the rest day of the week. "What luck!" the sprites said to one another, "We again have them just where we want them! What great and terrible trouble we can make for them now!"

    Gleefully they sang the sleeping spell and began their work, this time tying the laces of all of the big peoples' six boots together in one great braid under the table, spilling honey on their heads - "What a mess this will be when they wake!" - and stuffing their sleeves with straw.

    "Scarecrows!" one sprite sang, dancing upon the table.

"Scarecrows sleeping in their chairs,
dreaming of daisies, unawares
They know not what ails their peaceful home;
we sprites, I say, cousins of the gnome!" 

    The sprites giggled and left the cottage, patting each other on the back. They stopped short when they heard a strange sound in the garden. A bleating, a baa-ing.... The voice of a goat with a very long grey beard, one that had apparently strayed into the garden for a snack.

    "What luck!" cried the sprites. "More mischief to do!" But as they drew near, the goat gobbled them up, only the two youngest and most agile escaping to bring the news to their kin.

    The sprites were troubled - imagine, troublemakers troubled, having never failed in their impish arts in all their lives! They worried and discussed the issue, and finally decided to put the goat to sleep, or possibly risk every one of them being eaten as well.

    The next day, the three sprites who drew the shortest straws sat behind the cabbages, gulping as they looked up at the great dumb animal which posed them such a threat. They nudged each other to go first, until at last they clumped together and stumbled nearer to the goat, staring up into the beast's unnerving, horizontal eyes.

    They opened their mouths and squeaked out a short sleeping song, but the goat did not even blink. It munched on the sprites as though they too were tasty garden greens.

     Soon, others in Dozyville began keeping goats, and though they never knew exactly why, they realized it somehow prevented them from falling into random, catastrophic naps day-by-day. And so, the sprites had no other choice but to keep to themselves or themselves be made into dinner! The hungry goats kept the gardens clear of sprites, day and night, and Dozyville at last was free of their mischief for good.

Better to do good uncredited under someone's nose than to be caught in the act of mischief.

May 10, 2013

late night novelist

It's going to be another busy weekend, but sometimes novel-writing just can't wait. It's half past midnight, and I've written exactly 300 new words. If I keep this up I just might become a successful baggy-eyed author one day! ;)

May 9, 2013

the first time once again

In a world of convenience such as the one Americans live in today, it's easy to forget the value of having the Bible on hand at any moment - on the smart phone, the internet, paper, fill in the blank.

Just this morning, the first thing I did was... well, sleep-in later than I should have. Then I read a short devotional, took a shower, wrote for a little while, and had breakfast with my sisters while they finished watching the Lorax.

Around that time, my mom called our attention and started to show us a video. At first, all I could see was a blur of a group of people, walking and talking excitedly but I had no idea what about. Mom explained that they were Chinese Christians receiving Bibles for the first time.

I can honestly say that for a moment, my heart stopped. Everything else in the world lost its value while I realized the joy these people were experiencing over the Book I have had the chance to read every single day of my entire life.

Christians don't have this freedom in China.

I felt ashamed watching that video, knowing that I had already lost my love for God's Word, and hadn't even opened it once this morning. It should be my life and breath, my bread and water, my very sustenance!

It breaks my heart that it's so easy to fall away, so easy to lose value for the most important things, even God's very WORD!

If you haven't seen the video, please watch it, and pray for such people who do not have Bibles, or fellowship, or who are persecuted for their faith, for those who have never even heard of Christ before - and while you're at it, please pray with me for the people around us who need to be reminded of the true value of the Gospel. (While you watch the video, please notice the title doesn't say 'Chinese Christians receive Bible for the first time', but they are actually SEEING it for the first time! Just imagine that!) I'm thanking the Lord right now for His mercy and love.

Let's all read our Bibles like it's the first time.

May 2, 2013

to gain self.control

Dragon art by Laurel "Tully" Austin/L.D. Austin
It's been my goal to write even just the tiniest bit to my novel every day. So far, I've made it to every other day, but my diligence is slowly increasing through determination. I have a little over four chapters completed - imagine my sigh of relief! - and am making somewhat slow but steady progress in chapter five. I have many writer friends who are so much more faithful than I am - they are my motivation.
   Fantasy artwork (as shown) is another huge inspiration for me when I need to get cracking on my novel. There's just something magical about it....

I can't walk into our library anymore without the urge to carry out at LEAST five new books! As I told my sister, even if I don't end of reading all of them, it's helpful for me when writing or reading other things; that is, I feel surrounded by inspiration. Standing in the center of a library is like being encompassed by millions of opportunities. Knowing my options helps me decide what steps to take in my writing, and also helps motivate me to finish reading a novel so that I can begin a new one. (So many novels, so little time!)

A dear friend of mine and I agreed that we wanted to begin eating a healthier diet. We both admitted to eating far more sugar than we ought to - a sure way to gain fat, while avoiding it, a sure way to slim down.
    Well, I made it off to a good start this week, but we had pancakes for lunch yesterday, and then French toast for dinner - neither of which is nearly good enough without a thick drizzling of real maple and blueberry syrup. So, today, I've resisted cereal already - although I'm still being tempted, even at this very moment; the characters in my story are eating breakfast, and describing everything is making me hungry - but even though tempted, I know in the long run I will be grateful to not have wasted youthful health on an irresponsible diet that will no doubt come back to haunt me later in life.
    Step one: resistance 0.5 complete.

{I just couldn't resist adding this quote!}
  As far as reading God's Word, I have made a habit of reading at least one chapter every day, and haven't quit the flow for months. (Technically, my mom read to me when I had my wisdom teeth taken out, so those two days don't exactly count, but it's the heart that matters, not the numbers.)
   The struggle now will be making a healthy habit of prayer. I do pray every day, but not as fastidiously as I know I ought.

So, lastly, Princess Academy: Palace of Stone. Shannon Hale is my favorite author, and this is becoming a new favorite book. As dreadfully long as it's taking me to read it - I'm a very distracted reader, unfortunately - I've made it well past the half-way mark, and have the hardest time going to sleep at night because I CAN'T STOP! Last night I read at least one more chapter than I probably should have and woke up this morning looking ragged because it wasn't until around midnight that I had fallen asleep. (Not good for a natural early-bird like me!)
    My compliments to Shannon for writing novels that tug at my heart, fill me with a love for her characters, and *whoosh* me away to foreign lands that are excruciating to depart from. Once I can afford it, I'm buying the books of yours that I've read but don't own, and then I'm going to read the rest of your books and probably buy them all, too!

May 1, 2013

little is much

God's been showing me the weakness of my heart, how I worship Him in deed only, not out of true love. I WANT to love Him, but even wanting isn't enough.

In Luke 21:1-4, we learn about the woman who gave two meager coins to the temple - all that she had in the world - but her worship was truer than that of those who gave generously from abundant riches.

It's a perfect example of how deeds really accomplish NOTHING to please God. Kneeling down to pray means NOTHING unless your very spirit is kneeling before God's throne in humility.

Anyway, this is on my mind and heart. I want to serve God fully, all hours of the day, sacrificing whatever He asks of me; having no idols above Him to tear my time with Him away, to waste on the fleeting world.

Help me to be pure, O Lord.
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