My current writing focus is my latest novel-in-progress, Esmeralda, which can be read in what is so far its entirety on Figment.  It’s a tale of imprisonment, betrayal, assassinations, masquerades, true love, not-true love, and secrets.  Anyway, I’ll let you read it yourself.  Here’s a bit of the opening. 🙂

You could say we’re best friends- I’ve never seen his face, nor he mine, but I know him as well as I know myself.  I might even love him.  I can’t be sure.  Every morning and every night we talk through the little hole in the wall between our cells.  It’s smaller than my eye, too little to see anything through, but we can speak.  His name is Bastian, and he’s a prisoner just as I am.

My cell, my dungeon, has only one window, if a window it may be called.  It’s the size of my hands spread out beside each other, so high that even if I had the strength to jump for it I couldn’t see the sky through its slanted opening.  The iron bars across it only serve to make it more formidable.  As if that’s necessary.  My walls are stone, my ceiling is stone, and my floor is stone; my very world seems to be made of stone.  Cold, hard, unforgiving.  Except for Bastian.

It’s the only life I’ve known for eight years- I know how long it’s been because every year I miss a few days’ meals when our guards are allowed to leave for the holidays and forget about us.  I’m accepting of this life but I’m never accustomed to it.  Every day, when Bastian is gone, I cry, and long for freedom.  Each night I wake suddenly, expecting to be back in my feather bed, in my glorious bedchamber with a score of maids waiting in the next room to do as I ask.  And finding it not so, finding that it would never be so again, I cry.  I don’t need the extravagant lifestyle I led before the revolution.  I just want to see the sky and the trees and the grass.

It’s something that I ask Bastian often- “Do you think this will ever change?”  In the few seconds of silence that often follow this question, I don’t know if he shakes his head or sighs sadly or holds back tears.  I wish I could see him.

“No,” he’ll say at last.  “I don’t expect it ever will.”

This time I ask a question that haunts me frequently.  “Why don’t they just kill me then?  As they did my parents?”

“You should be grateful that they are letting you live,” he scolds me quietly.

“But why?  I don’t want to be alive, like this.”

He has no answer for me.

 

Anyway, that’s that!   It’s got 235 pages so far, and climbing.  I plan on finishing the first draft by November 11th, exactly four months after its start.

Hey, so if you’ve been following my story “Esmeralda” at all, you may be aware that my heroine, Evangeline, is gearing up for a ball- as masquerade, as a matter of fact.  So I decided that since I was describing her gown, I might as well draw it, right?  So here are a few rough ideas. 😉

And another:

Hey, so I have a new, rather intense project- I’m nearly half-way finished with a new book, “Esmeralda” and I’m super excited.  This is one of those random times when I actually love my own writing.  So here it is!

Esmeralda on Figment

🙂 Enjoy!

Have you seen X-Men? Or Shrek? The hulk?  I can’t think what it is in the back of my mind that I’m recalling, but there’s something where something comes over the hero, something unstoppable that he can’t control that takes over his body.  One of those “Incredible Hulk” deals.  That was the feeling I just had, only it was of a less violent but perhaps more tragic nature.

I felt it coming on, htat dreaded, that horrid, that thing I hate above all else, depression.  I hate it so much.  I realized that I was getting angry and sad about something that wasn’t completely worth it, and that then I was heading down a familiar trail- one of those well-worn ones that is usually about self-pity but always feels justified at the time.  This time it was about how much I hate it when Mum thinks I’m lying, or doubts my integrity.  That really makes my blood boil.  If there’s one thing I can always hold on to it’s the knowledge that I am telling the truth, and when someone doubts that, I feel empty and vulnerable, and I want to hit something.  I know I’m being truthful.  Why don’t they (she)?

It makes me furious.

But anyway, I felt the depression coming on.  I have journalled about this for the past ten months or so.  It isn’t pms and it isn’t just hormones.  It’s real.  I get depressed.  This does not mean it’s something I can’t work on, or shouldn’t work on, it simply means I don’t control it, at least as of yet.

But I felt it coming on and I just thought oh no oh no oh no.  Not now.  It can’t be.  I was doing so well.  Why now? But here’s a question…

I will never forget in Anne of Green Gables when Anne says she is “in the depths of despair”, and Marilla says that such is a sin; to despair, she says, is to “turn our back on God.”

Is that true?  Is being depressed a sin?  Or am I allowing the devil into my head to tell me that it is, to tear me up inside, and if so, is that a sin?  I don’t know, and I don’t know where to turn.  I pray and pray but so far God hasn’t seen fit to pull me through this.  I’ll never doubt that he is with me throughout, but I don’t understand yet why he hasn’t taken my hand and just dragged me to the other side of this chasm.  I can’t understand it, but I guess we usually aren’t meant to.  Anyway, I’m signing off.  It’s nearly one in the morning and I need to sleep.  Maybe that will help.

In Christ, Lydia

So, I had a revelation.  I don’t have a whole lot of revelations- they’re not usually my thing.  I’d like to, but mostly I just notice a new issue I have to work on (I’m so “human” it’s really not even funny.) and I say, “Lydia.  Shut up.  Stop it.  You know that’s wrong.  Oh, you thought you were perfect?  Nope, just look.  Another thing to work on.”  (I really do talk to myself this way, and often.)  And then I try.  I really do, to work on it, the increase my time in prayer, to focus more on God, and to see my life through Christ’s eyes.  It rarely gets very far.  I’m not all that great on self-discipline.

However…

This past Friday (“It’s Friday, Friday, gotta get down on-” no?  Alright, fine.) was out church’s monthly Pastor’s Council meeting, and as usual it met at our house, so my mom could make an extravagant Puerto Rican dinner for the people attending.  There were a few people coming who were new to us- one couple had been briefly to out house in the summer for BBQ and the other man had never even see it.  Anyway, there was a certain pressure for the house to look nice, for everything to be in tip-top condition, spiffy and as bacteria-free as possible.  (Our house was built in the 1840s- there’s only so cob-web-free it’s ever going to be.)  Emmy and I woke up early and instead of going to our schoolwork started immediately on the cleaning.  It was mostly dusting, vacuuming, putting stuff on shelves, finishing the dishes, etc, but I do not exaggerate when I say that we worked, on our feet, the entire day.  I mean from 7:30am to past 11:00pm that night, with two hours off for dinner and fellowship.

I scrubbed the pots,

I swept and vacuumed the floor,

I did the laundry,

I washed the doors and frames of hand-prints,

I put away books and stray toys,

I dusted tables, vases, tvs and even ceilings,

I washed the side of the fridge,

cleaned every inch of the main bathroom,

took out the trash,

and set the table.

Lastly, I tended the fire.

And to be honest, I didn’t get along with Mum all day, so the Cinderella vibe was intense (see why tending the fire was important to mention?).  I was feeling used and exhausted, completely worn out- wiped.  There was a problem, though.  If I saw myself as Cinderella, where was the Prince?  The ball?  The fairy with a wand?  Even the glass slippers weren’t to be found.  I felt like I had the “Evil Step-Mother” thing going on, my hands were chapped and raw from hundreds of dishes, and I even had ash on my face and pants.  So where was my happy ending?

I really started to get moody.  (I do that a lot; this was nothing new, only it seemed justified.)  I went in my room at midnight, when I was finally done working but should have been leaving a ball, and pulled out this very laptop.  I went onto facebook and in 100 or so characters vented a bit to my friends, about feeling like Cinderella without the benefits.  I honestly, sincerely felt that I had the right.  I had slaved, ALL DAY, and for what?  Mum thanked me, oblivious to the frustration she had caused me all day, and most of the dinner-guests left thinking that Mum was Superwoman, doing so much on her own.  I had every reason to be fuming.  In my room I sat with the laptop in front of me and sank into my pillows, crying.  I was just flat-out exhausted.

Was this justified?  The weariness, yes, I think so a little.  I hadn’t even stopped for lunch.  But the frustration, the anger?  No, I don’t believe I was.  (For the record- Mum wasn’t an angel exactly, but she was very stressed and I could have been more understanding.  I certainly was no perfect peace-maker myself.)

What I was forgetting is that serving is supposed to be a joy.  My “gift” is serving.  I’ve always loved to do something for someone, help them with their kids, clean their house if they’re sick, cook a meal when they’ve had a baby.  But that, while it blesses them, is easy for me.  I get thanked, I get praised, I get the satisfaction of that person I served usually knowing who did it, and appreciating me.  It makes me giddy to help someone in need.  But what about when it’s helping my mom with a task she could NEVER do on her own?  Everyone at the dinner party may not have known all that I did so that they would see a beautiful house and eat a delicious meal, but they would be blessed, wouldn’t they?  And it would make my parents’ job of hosting new people at short notice that much pleasenter and easier.  Besides, who am I really serving when I work?

Usually, myself.  But the answer should be God.  As I sat there thinking, a scripture came to me that I had learned in song-form as a child;

“And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24, New King James Version)

I couldn’t remember that and not be utterly ashamed of my selfishness.  I was pathetic.  When I work, it was supposed to be a joy.  The Lord has equipped me with an ability and love for serving that should translate into a means of worship.  I was serving Him when I worked hard to keep our home afloat.  If everything I do is to God, and not to men, then how does Jesus feel about my incessant grumbling when I have to get my hands dirty?  I should have been overjoyed to have been given a task with which to give service to Him.

Thinking about it in reference to that verse dumbfounded me.  It was a much needed *smack* from God and I was so grateful.  Suddenly I was ashamed and simultaneously gladdened.  I fell asleep praying and crying out to God that he would forgive me and teach me to serve Him humbly and gratefully, and that I would learn to be more like His son, the perfect servant.  I woke up the next morning eager to be of help to my parents, my siblings who didn’t feel well, and anyone else I could possibly come in contact with.  I wanted, desperately, to “make-up” in a sense, for my pitiful existance the day before.

I kept thinking and another scripture came to me:  For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”  (Galatians 1:10, English Standard Version)  I felt that this was applicable, too.  It’s really not about me.  I am praying that it won’t wear off, but in the past two days since then, I am absolutely thrilled to serve, because it’s an act of worship.

Maybe I’m really simple.  Maybe everyone else has already realized this years ago.  But for me it was a fresh smack that I needed.  My hope is that this is somehow an encouragement to you, as it was life-changing for me.

In Christ, Lydia 😉

Hey, so I am super-duper excited.  (I know, “super” is a favorite adjective of mine; I’m sorry I use it so often.)  Because……

(Drum-roll, please…)

I finished writing the first installment of Betrayal!!  I have started, even gotten quite far in, probably a hundred stories.  That’s no exaggeration; I have two small file cabinets in my room at home that are filled with stories begun and often, I am afraid, neglected.  It’s pathetic, in many ways.  My mom finally told me that I actually had to finish a story.  As in, it was an order.  And that’s what I finally did.  It’s short (only 21 chapters and you’ve already read most of those) and unedited and many parts really are poorly written. But it’s mine and it’s finished and I can say I have completed a “novella” (short novel, novelette).  Yeah, I’m super excited.

— Now I have started on the second installment (2nd of 3 in all that I have planned so far), this one about Raoul.  I have been considering changing his name, but I still want it to be French.  Luc perhaps?  I don’t know.

 

I think I have a bit too much time on my hands, even though everything feels crazy! I just looked at how many times I have posted over the last few days, and whew!  Oh well.  But I just wanted to share this poem, because I have lately been thinking a lot about our soldiers, how wonderful they are and how much they sacrifice for our collective freedom.  Sometimes, if I get thinking hard enough, I even start to cry. 😐

So although this is in reference to England (hence, the name) I loved it and thought it fitting.  So, without further nonsense and ado, and with a heart that goes out to America’s wonderful military, here is Winifred M. Letts’ The Spires of Oxford.

I saw the spires of Oxford
As I was passing by,
The gray spires of Oxford
Against the pearl-gray sky.
My heart was with the Oxford men
Who went abroad to die.

The years go fast in Oxford,
The golden years and gay,
The hoary Colleges look down
On careless boys at play.
But when the bugles sounded war
They put their games away.

They left the peaceful river,
The cricket-field, the quad,
The shaven lawns of Oxford,
To seek a bloody sod—
They gave their merry youth away
For country and for God.

God rest you, happy gentlemen,
Who laid your good lives down,
Who took the khaki and the gun
Instead of cap and gown.
God bring you to a fairer place
Than even Oxford town.

(The only image I could find)

This was the only image of Mrs. Letts that I could find, unfortunately.

Edgar Allan Poe portrait

I recently fell in love with this poem, “Annabel Lee”, by Edgar Allen Poe; I feel like everyone else knows it but me, but after listening to it over and over read my Matthew Gray Gubler, my favorite actor (Spencer Reid on Criminal Minds, among other roles). It’s such a sad, beautiful poem that I nearly choke up each time I hear it. Matthew does a wonderful job of inflection and emotion, too. You can listen to his reading of it HERE and I strongly encourage it. Here are the words at any rate.

“It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.

“I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea;
But we loved with a love that was more than love-
I and my Annabel Lee;
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
Coveted her and me.

“And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsman came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
In this kingdom by the sea.

“The angels, not half so happy in heaven,
Went envying her and me-
Yes!- that was the reason (as all men know,
In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.

“But our love it was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we-
Of many far wiser than we-
And neither the angels in heaven above,
Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee.

“For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling- my darling- my life and my bride,
In the sepulchre there by the sea,
In her tomb by the sounding sea.”

Wonderful, isn’t it?