He ate and drank the precious words
His spirit grew robust;
He knew no more that he was poor,
Nor that his frame was dust.
He danced along the dingy days,
And this bequest of wings
Was but a book. What liberty
A loosened spirit brings.

Emily Dickinson

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Photo Contest!

I have entered the below picture into a Photo Contest hosted by Irishragamuffin's Lil Sister.  

The theme is emotion, and when I read the post, this was the first pic that came to mind.  It is of my grandparents on our annual camping trip last August.  You see, we have this certain spot that has become a traditional family photo booth every year (in actuality, it is an old worn-out bench on the lake trail).  When it came time for their turn, the subject came up about keeping straight faces in photos (like the oldie black 'n whites) and every time Grandmommy and Poppy tried, they broke into laughter.  Usually, we tease them about not smiling in pictures anyway, so I was so happy to have taken these!  Genuine laughter!

Albeit it isn't of the best quality, but... those types of pics you gotta take fast.  ;D

Laughter - August 2012

It does a body good to laugh!  Did you know that?

"It is bad to suppress your laughter because when you do, it goes back down and spreads to your hips."
[Fred Allen]

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What's in a Name?

Gender:  Feminine
Usage:  Greek, Russian, English, Spanish, Ancient Greek
Pronunciation:  ah-nah-stah-SEE-yah (Russian), a-nǝ-STAY-zhǝ (English), a-nǝ-STAS-yǝ (English), ah-nahs, TAH-syah (Spanish)

Meaning & History
Feminine form of Anastasius, which is the Latinized form of the Greek name Anastasios, derived from the Greek word meaning "resurrection".  This was the given name of a Dalmatian martyr who was killed during the persecutions of the Roman emperor Diocletian.  Because of this saint, Anastasia has been common in Eastern Orthodox Christianity.  As an English name, it has been used since the Middle Ages.

A well-known bearer was the youngest daughter of the last Russian tsar, Nicholas II, who was rumored to have escaped the execution of her family in 1918.   Contrary to the rumors of her survival, as well as the various impostors - among them the most famous in her claim to be the lost grand duchess, Anna Anderson - this is not true, according to an article in Wikipedia:

"Anya" (1997)
Her possible survival has been conclusively disproved. In January 2008, Russian scientists announced that the charred remains of a young boy and a young woman found near Ekaterinburg in August 2007 were most likely those of the thirteen-year-old Tsarevich and one of the four Romanov grand duchesses. Russian forensic scientists confirmed on April 30, 2008, that the remains were those of the Tsarevich Alexei and one of his four sisters. In March 2009 the final results of the DNA testing were published by Dr. Michael Coble of the US Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory, proving conclusively that the remains of all four Grand Duchesses have now been accounted for, and no one escaped.

It is a depressing record in world history to be sure.  I would much rather believe she really did survive, much like the happy tale told in 20th Century Fox's 1997 film, Anastasia.  Ah, well.  There's your little history lesson for the day!

The next two names are featured per request.  Thank you for commenting, Robyn Hoode!

Gender:  Feminine
Usage:  Spanish
Pronunciation:  kon-STAHN-thah (Spanish), kon-STAHN-sah (Latin America Spanish)

Meaning & History
Spanish form of Consantia, which is the feminine form of the Late Latin name Constantius, derived from Constan (Late Latin, Late Roman), meaning "constant, steadfast."

Gender:  Feminine
Usage:  Italian, Spanish, German, English, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch, Romanian
Pronunciation:  ee-zah-BEL-lah (Italian), iz-ǝ-BEL-ǝ (English)

Meaning & History
Latinate form of Isabel, which is a medieval Occitan form of Elizabeth, meaning "my God is an oath" or "my God is abundance."  A well-known bearer of this name was the ruling queen Isabella of Castille, who was behind the sponsorship of Christopher Columbus' explorations.

According to Behind the Name (website), this name is ranked number 2 in popularity in the United States; the number 1 name being Sophia.

Shira - Ice Age: Continental Drift
Gender:  Feminine
Usage:  Hebrew
Pronunciation:  [most likely] shee-RAH (English)

Meaning & History
Means "poetry" or "singing" in Hebrew.

Shira, in my opinion, fits the character of the beautiful and intriguing sabre-toothed tiger in DreamWork's Ice Age: Continental Drift.  One of my favorites!

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Name definitions and history via behindthename.com.
Photos via Pinterest.

To Ponder

Psalm 139:23-24

"Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my concerns.  
See if there is any offensive way in me; 
lead me in the everlasting way."

Psalm 86:11
"Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in Your truth; 
give me an Undivided Heart that I may fear Your name."

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What's in a Name?

Gender:  Masculine
Usage:  English
Pronunciation:  mak-si-MIL-ee-ǝn, mak-si-MIL-yǝn

Meaning & History
Variant of Maximilian, which comes from the Roman name Maximilianus, derived from Maximus meaning  "greatness" in Latin.

[Sorry, I had to put a pic of Maximus!]

Gender:  Feminine
Usage:  Italian, Late Roman
Pronunciation:  ro-zah-LEE-ah (Italian)

Meaning & History
Late Latin name derived from rosa meaning "rose."  This name was borne by a 12th century Sicilian saint.

New Blog Design!

A HUGE thank you to the lovely Storyteller for designing my blog!

I am so incredibly happy with the new look, as for the past few months I've been looking for the perfect template anywhere and everywhere (I didn't really want to purchase one).  And guess what?  She does everything for FREE!  Just because she likes to design!

So sweet!

Here is a link to her blog, Storyteller of Weston County and her design blog, Heart of a Storyteller. Pop on over and check it out!

Thank you again, Storyteller!

What's in a Name?

Flynn Rider (aka Eugene Fitzherbert)
Gender:  Masculine
Usage:  English
Pronunciation: YOO-jeen, yoo-JEEN

Meaning & History
English form of the Latin Eugenius, which is derived from the Greek Eugenios, which is taken from the Greek eugenes meaning "well born."  Bearers of this name include several saints and four popes.

This name was not particularly common in the Western Europe during the Middle Ages.  However, it's popularity increased due in part to the fame of Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663-1736), a French-born general who served the Austrian Empire.  A notable, American bearer of this name was the playwright Eugene O'Neill (1888-1953).

*ahem* This is also the given name of Flynn Rider in the Disney movie version of Rapunzel, Tangled.  "Here comes the smolder." =D

Gender:  Feminine
Usage:  English, French, Italian, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, Dutch, German, Ancient Germanic
Pronunciation:  EM-e (English), E-mah (German)

Meaning & History
Originally, this was a short form of many German names that began with the element ermen meaning "whole" or "universal."  It was first introduced to England by Emma of Normandy, who was the wife of both King Ethelred II and later King Canute.  Another bearer was an 11th century Austrian saint, sometimes called Hemma.

After Norman conquest, this name became popular in England.  And later, it was revived in the 18th century perhaps due in part to Matthew Prior's poem 'Henry and Emma' (1709).  Jane Austen also used it as the given name of her main character, Emma Woodhouse, in the 1816 novel 'Emma' .

Dracorex Hogwartsia

Gender:  Masculine
Usage:  English
Pronunciation:  DRAYK

Meaning & History

From an English surname derived from the Old Norse given name Draki or the Old English Draca meaning "dragon."

In May 2003, a nearly complete skull and several neck vertebrae was discovered in the Hell Creek formation in Northwest South Dakota, USA, and donated to the Children's Museum in Indianapolis. You can read a brief article about it on the Creation Ministry International's (CMI) website here.

Gender:  Feminine
Usage:  Biblical, Biblical Greek
Pronunciation:  DAM-ǝ-ris (English)

Meaning & History
Means "calf" in Greek.  In the New Testament, this is the name of a woman who converted to Christianity through the efforts of Paul, mentioned in Acts 17:34.

---- Hope you enjoyed reading about these names!

Here's my little bit of advice for the day:

For you aspiring writers out there in need of fresh names for brand new characters (or even older characters, whose names you haven't been entirely happy with), I have a solution to your problem!  Drive by or walk through church cemeteries and check out the surnames, both common and unique, to find either a first or last name for your character.  We were driving by a cemetery the other day, and my sister pointed out a couple, that I may use sometime in the future - Gallant and Saylor.  Great surnames for a present day hero or western cowboy, maybe even a fantasy/medieval/sci-fi.  Also, to find the meanings of surnames, check out this site: surname.behindthename.com (a branch of the website Behind the Name).

Another tip you can use:  when watching movies or TV shows, read the credits to find both given names and surnames.  Believe me, this can be done just for fun!  There are so many uniquely weird names out there to give you plenty of ideas, whether you use the ones you find or come up with your own.

Be creative!  For example, one of my character's (in my head, not officially set on paper) name is Kyndela.  My thought process - Kendall to Kindel  to Kyndel to Kyndela, whose nickname is Kyndi.  See! it's not hard.

I've mentioned this before in a previous post, but check out this article on Choosing Names for Your Characters by Jill Williamson from Go Teen Writers.  In it, you'll see tips and tricks for finding the perfect name.  One piece of advice Mrs. Williamson states is to make sure your names are easy to pronounce.  This can be very important.  Do you want to hear a year or two later, after you've published your debut novel, that EVERYONE has been pronouncing your MC's name wrong this whole time??  And it was one you were quite proud of...

If you like a certain name, but get the feeling it could be difficult to say, change a couple letters and/or ask your sisters/friends/strangers what they think.  Don't keep it to yourself!  Outside opinions can be your life-saver, or in this case, a novel-saver.  =]

Again, be creative!

Thanks for reading!

Any requests?


Name definitions and history via behindthename.com.
Photos via Pinterest.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Greetings, my friends!  Happy Valentine's Day!

Last year, and maybe the year before, I posted a letter on the Maidens blog describing what we know of the life of Valentine, a Christian martyr and saint.  Using what research I found from various websites I put together a brief account of what could have happened during the time of St. Valentine.  My character, Alessandra, is portrayed as the daughter of a warden to the Roman prison where Valentine was held as punishment for his belief in the Christian faith.

Here is part of the original post:

In honor of St. Valentine's Day, I would like to post a letter I wrote from the perspective of someone who might have known the Christian priest, Valentine, in the early 3rd century Rome.

Please note: The names used (Alessandra Donati, Aldo Donati III) are fictitious and were only for the purpose of discerning the writer.  However, Emperor Claudius II was indeed the emperor of Rome at the time of Valentine.  Places such as Via Flaminia, Apennine Mountains, and Ariminum (known as Rimini, located on the Adriatic Sea) are present-day locations.  The dates used in the letter are approximately correct according to various sites from which I found and researched the information regarding this letter.  Also, the "fact" that the writer of the letter received Christ as her personal Savior may or may not be true.  There is no indication in any of the accounts on the subject of the legend of St. Valentine.  Again, this is a fictitious writing, please do not take it as total truth.  There are so many different accounts of St. Valentines (plural) that it is hard to discern which are true.

Please enjoy my account.

To whom it may concern:      

      My name is Alessandra Donati, daughter of Aldo Donati III, who is a warden of a Roman prison. I wish to inform you of the legend of St. Valentine, a devout Christian martyred because of his refusal to obey a petty law and renounce his faith.
      The year is A.D. 269 when Rome was governed by Emperor Claudius II, a cruel pagan ruler. In his desire to build a great army, Claudius sent out a decree forbidding marriage, believing that married men did not make good soldiers. In that, he was right.
      A righteous man by the name of Valentine refused the absurdness of this law and secretly performed numerous marriage ceremonies. I know this because a dear, dear friend of mine was herself married to the love of her life through the courageous acts of this priest. In order to protect her and her family, I will not produce any names.
      Unfortunately, Valentine was discovered and arrested. He was placed in the custody of my father and imprisoned for a time, during which the emperor himself, having heard of the character and strength of the Christian man, attempted to convert him to his own pagan ways and place him in a position of power. Valentine refused and further astonished the emperor by explaining the gospel of the Christian religion and attempting, in his own way, to persuade the emperor to turn from paganism and embrace Christianity.
      It was all in vain.
      A witness to this conversation, I stood in a hidden corridor of the large prison and listened as an enraged Claudius ordered the execution of this righteous priest. My heart sank, for I had come to treasure the friendship given me during his brief stay in the prison. It was I who sent him letters of encouragement leading up to the dreadful appointment, and in return he replied with answers to my questions regarding religion and life. Always, his letters were signed, “from your Valentine.” Through his teachings, and seeing firsthand the firmness of his faith in his God, I came to know Christ. Ever grateful I shall be for my dear Valentine.
      It was rumored that he had fallen in love with me, and that his letters of hope were actually the letters of love. Perhaps it was true, for, in Christ, I had become a sister to him, and he a brother to me. Who knows what could have been? Had the Lord deemed differently, it was possible, and I would not object, that I could have become the wife of Valentine. But, of course, it was not to be.
      The day came all too quickly. Valentine – friend, priest, Christian – was executed on February 14th, A.D. 269, because of his faith and rebellion to an unattested law. He was buried on the Via Flaminia, a Roman road leading from Rome over the Apennine Mountains to Ariminum on the coast of the Adriatic Sea.
      Romantically, his legend still lives on, though it is usually mistaken for the Greek word eros, meaning “passionate love”, instead of agape, meaning “Christian love” or “love of God.”
      Though I mourn the loss of my dear brother in Christ, I rejoice in knowing I will see him again one day. His example of Christ's love has paved a path I wish to follow with all my heart and shine the Light of God to this lost world.  May it be so.

Happy Valentine's Day.

I hope you enjoyed this little piece of fictional "history".  Thanks for reading!

The Ultimate Valentine:
To:  Whosoever
From:  the Lord your God
"For God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life."
John 3:16

Happy Valentine's Day!


Snippets of Story

This is my first entry to the Snippets of Story, hosted by Katie from Whisperings of the Pen.  I've wanted to do this for a little while and at last I have the chance!  Snippets is just a way to give you, dear readers, a taste of what I've been up to in my writings.  And, hopefully, have you wishing for more!

Below, I've listed a few quotes/excerpts from Peder's short story, which, thanks to the 100-4-100 Challenge, is coming along quite well.

So, without further ado... Here are the snippets for January and February:

All in a Day's Work

    It was done.
    He had succeeded in retrieving what he'd come for. So, why the hesitation? After nearly running over the unsuspecting guard back inside the castle, his nerves were strung thin.
    If he was caught...
    He didn't want to think about that.

[Slannin - master thief, mercenary for hire]


    Ma carina nás?” Are you done? asked Jaron, in his native tongue. Peder turned away, ashamed of his outburst.  He answered in the same language.
    “Ná.” Yes.
    “Good.” The Elf nodded. “Now I can tell you why we are waiting.” Peder looked up, rubbing the nape of his neck out of habit.
    “You mean there's a reason for this madness?” he asked sheepishly, returning to his normal, care-free self.
     This time the Elvish man chuckled.
     “There usually is.”

[Peder and Captain Jaron]


    Peder could feel the long hours of endurance and “sneakery” training taking over. His mind was clear, muscles relaxed, and footsteps light. He just had to keep up with the Elf.  

[Peder Grey, cadet Guard]


    Peder accepted Jaron's hand and allowed the Elf to pull him to his feet. He blinked. To clear the mush his brain now felt like, he shook his head and looked to see Jaron watching him.
    “I'm alright,” he grinned. “My head's just pounding like a hammer to an anvil.”
    “No wonder. You've got a knot the size of an egg.”
    “Really?” Peder grimaced, not even bothering to feel his scalp. He believed him. “That's what I get for tryin' to be sociable.”

[Peder and Captain Jaron]


    He is a troubled man, Peder,” remarked the red dragon suddenly.
    “How do you know?” He kept his eyes trained on the border of trees lining the meadow.
    “We dragons smell more than gold, food, and human flesh. Emotions play a large part of our world. Contrary to legend, perhaps we feel more than even your kyn.” Now Peder turned to her, puzzled.
    “Wait. You mean you can actually smell emotions? Happiness? sadness? fear?”
    “Hmm, yes. The smell of fear is usually strongest..."

[Peder and Valtiramiir, a red she-dragon]


    Peder nodded, the look of determination set on his face. He couldn't help the bit of pride that grew in his heart. Not the bad kind, mind you, but rather the good sense of a job well done. He knew his mission as a Guard, secretive as it is, was important to the safety of his country. He straightened his weary shoulders. So be it.

[Peder Grey]


And there you have it.


Side note:  The Elvish phrases are taken from arwen-undomiel.com, because I have not the courage and intelligence to come up with a better Elvish language...  =D

What's in a Name?

eikonik - DeviantART
Gender:  Masculine
Usage:  English, Biblical
Pronunciation:  JAH-shǝ-wǝ, JAW-shwǝ

Meaning & History
From the Hebrew name Yehoshu'a, meaning "YAHWEH is salvation."  Joshua was the given name of one of the twelve spies sent to Canaan under the orders of Moses, as recorded in the Old Testament.  After the death of Moses, Joshua was called by God to succeed him as leader of the Israelites.  As an English name, Joshua has been common since the Protestant Reformation.

The name of our Savior, Jesus, comes from a Greek translation of the Aramaic short form Yeshu'a.

Gender:  Feminine
Usage:  Japanese
Pronunciation:  hi-KAH-ree

Meaning & History
Means "light" in Japanese.  It has often been written as ひかり using the hiragana writing system.

Gender:  Masculine
Usage:  Irish, English
Pronunciation:  LEE-ǝm (English)

Meaning & History
Irish short form of William, which comes from the German name Willahelm, from will meaning "will, desire" and helm "helmet, protection."

This is the given name of Irish actor Liam Neeson, known for portraying Oskar Schindler in Schindler's List, Jean Valjean in Lés Miserables, Qui-Gon Jinn in Star Wars, and the voice of Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia, among many other films.

Prima Ballerina - Maria Tallchief
Gender:  Feminine & Masculine
Usage:  Italian, Portugese, Catalan, Occitan, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch, Frisian, Greek, Polish, Romanian, English, Finnish, Icelandic, Corsican, Basque, Biblical Greek, Biblical Latin, Old Church Slavic
Pronunciation:  mah-REE-ah (Italian, German, Dutch), MAHR-ya (Polish), mǝ-REE-ǝ (English)

Meaning & History
Maria is the Latin form of the Greek Μαρια which comes from the Hebrew for Mary, whose meaning is uncertain but is most likely an original Egyptian name derived from myr "beloved" or mr "love."  Maria is the usual form of the given name in many European languages, as well as a secondary form in other languages including English, where it is most common as Mary.  In other countries, such as Germany, Italy, and Poland,  Maria is commonly used as a masculine middle name.

age 88
Bearers of this name include two ruling queens of Portugal, the Hadsburg queen Maria Theresa (1717-1780), whose inheritance of the domains of her father, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI, began the War of Austrian Succession.

A lesser-known bearer of this name is Maria Tallchief (1925-), a Native American ballerina, born in Fairfax, Oklahoma to a chief of the Osage Nation and a Scots-Irish mother.  She became the first Native American to carry the title Prima Ballerina.

Anything New?

Hello, dear readers!  Welcome back!

For those of you involved in the 100-4-100 Challenge, hosted by Go Teen Writers, how goes your story?  Even if you are not participating in the challenge, what's up in your adventure?  I love hearing the various plots of young writers and seeing the creativity go from mind to paper, or in most cases, computer.

I'm not sure I mentioned it, but I decided to work on Peder's story for the Challenge, and once finished, begin again on Safia's.  My idea was to make a short story to post at least once a month on here... Obviously, that hasn't happened.  But I'm working on it!  I find one of my greatest problems in writing is that I continue to ramble on and on and the story just wanders with no actual point, getting longer and longer.  If you struggle with this, you are not alone!  Thankfully, G.T.W. has many helpful points and writing tips to help you get along.

You remember how much I love names, right?  Check out this post by Jill Williamson, a published author, on Choosing Names For Your Characters.

Character Development is a biggie.

Here's another link to help get you started: 7 Things You Need in the Beginning of Your Story.

These links are just the tip of the iceberg to many other tips and tricks in writing posted on G.T.W.  Personally, I've found these extremely helpful as checklists in my own writing.

And, of course, I've got a whole lot more to learn. =]

In Peder's story, whom you were given a glimpse of in my Chainsaw Therapy, my goal is to create a sort of mini-adventure.  A test, in which Peder grows as a character.  At this point, I seem to be rambling on... again.  But, thanks to 100-4-100, I think I'm getting somewhere.


At least, the pages in my notebook are dwindling of blank space... But that's not always a good thing, is it?

Pardon me for being so vague... I just wanted to share the helpful tips I've found and see what some of you are up to.


What are you up to?


What's in a Name?

akizhao - DeviantART
Gender:  Masculine
Usage:  English, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch, Czech, Biblical, Biblical Latin, Biblical Greek
Pronunciation:  MIE-kəl (English), MI-khah-el (German)

Meaning & History
Derived from the Hebrew name Mikha'el, meaning "who is like God?" - a rhetorical question, because no one is like God.  Michael is the archangel of the Bible, a warrior and leader of heaven's armies, considered by many as the patron saint of soldiers.  He is a great prince and guardian of Israel (Daniel 10:13, 21; 12:1).  He has disputed with the Devil (Jude 9) and in the End Times, he and his angels will fight the dragon (Rev. 12:7)

Bearers of this name include nine Byzantine emperors, among them Michael VIII Palaeologus, who restored the empire in the 13th century.  Michael has been commonly used in Western Europe since the Middle Ages, and in England since the 12th century.  It has been borne, in numerous spellings, by rulers of Russia, Romania, Poland, and Portugal.  More modern bearers of this name are British chemist/physicist Michael Faraday (1791-1867) and basketball star Michael Jordan (1963-)

Gender:  Feminine
Usage:  Literature
Pronunciation:  AY-ə-win (English)

Meaning & History
Means "horse joy" in Old English.  This name was invented by J.R.R. Tolkien and given to the swordmaiden of Rohan, niece of King Theoden in the novel "Lord of the Rings" (1954).  Tolkien used Old English to represent the Rohirric language in the world of the Middle Earth.  Eowyn, in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, slays the Lord of the Nazgul ("I am no man!").

Gender:  Masculine
Usage:  Greek, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, French, Dutch, Biblical, Biblical Latin, Biblical Greek
Pronunciation:  mah-TEE-ahs (German), -THIE-əs (Egnlish)

Meaning & History
A variant of Matthaios, derived from Matthew, meaning "gift of YAHWEH." In the New Testament, Matthaios is the name of the apostle chosen to replace Judas Iscariot.  This was also borne by kings of Hungary, including Matthias I, who made important reforms to the kingdom in the 15th century.

Gender:  Feminine
Usage:  Greek Mythology
Pronunciation:  E-ko (English)

Meaning & History
Means "echo" (umm... yes?), the word for repeating reflected sound, which is taken from the Greek word eche "sound."  In Greek mythology, Echo was a nymph given a speech impediment by Hera, so that she could only repeat what others said.  She fell in love with Narcissus, but her love was not returned, and she wasted away until nothing remained save her voice.

In the western fiction novel entitled "Ride the River" by Louis L'Amour, Echo is the given name for the main character, Echo Sackett, a girl who inherited a small fortune and set off to retrieve it.  She encounters many dangers along the way, meets new friends and enemies alike, and proves herself worthy to "ride the river with."  Written in first person, I must say it is one of my personal favorites of the Sackett series.

Go Teen Writers

This is kind of a last minute decision, but I've decided to do it!  I signed up to accept this 100 words for 100 days challenge hosted by Go Teen Writers (even though I'm no longer a "teen").  This challenge is for all ages!  And I believe it will give me the motivation I need to progress in my Safia story... We'll see.

The challenge starts today!  If interested, you can sign up by the end of this day, otherwise you've missed it.

Thank you, dear Risa, for sending me the link to this!  I hope I can follow through to the end.

And good luck to those participating!


Haha, I just had to put that pic up there...

Blessings, dear readers!