Happy Thanksgiving

Today is the day we pause to give thanks for the blessings in our lives. Even when there are things that are hard and difficult to deal with, even among the trials there are things to be thankful for. Sometimes it is as simple as one more day, one more breath one more beat of the heart. There are days when life itself feels like a burden, but it is a gift none the less and in each day God is there waiting to connect with us, to bear our burdens, to share our pain.

He loves us, each one of us, fully and completely. He is eager to be our life, our strength, our hope and our home.

He gave us the greatest of gifts, his son, to open the way for us to enjoy the fullness of his love.

Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the Christmas season when we turn our eyes and hearts to that wonderful gift of love.

I have written a series of Christmas stories that circle around the miracle of that first Christmas night. I will be publishing them through the month of December, one each week. The first is, The Shepherd’s Tale, a story told by a simple shepherd, the lowest rung of the societal scale. After a year of drought, hardship and an attack by Roman soldiers, he brings his flocks to a sheltered valley outside the city of Bethlehem. He tells of the angelic visitation and his search for the new born Messiah.

Read his story here, http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00PUZ9AD8 . It is free today through December 1st.

Join me each week as we watch for the coming of the King.

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The End is Near!

Here it is, November 26, the final days of NaNoWriMo.

Have I kept pace with my goal of 1700 words each day?

No, I am averaging about 1400, but have picked up the pace with ‘the end’ looming.

Will I finish all 50,000 words before Dec. 1st?

Well, its not looking good. I passed 36,000 yesterday, but that leaves 16,000 to write over the next five days (including today)

Do I like what I have written so far?

Well, parts of it. It is, after all, a very rough draft since I have had to lock away my ‘inner editor’ for the last few weeks. There are a lot of notes, highlights and whole sections to revisit during the coming months before I will consider it good enough to send through my critique group. That being said, the basics, the bare bones of it is good and there are some rough gems hidden within. The coming months will determine if cutting and polishing can bring out the shine of the early promise or if it would be better off as a paperweight.

I did write in a turning point last night and this morning:

NGS Picture ID:1075708“You have one shot, make it worth it.”
John sighted down his musket barrel until his vision cleared. He could see the play of muscle beneath the coppery skin.
His finger was greasy on the trigger as his pulled away the primer cover. The smell of burning saltpeter from the wick caked the back of his throat. 1. Steady your stance. 2. Take a deep breath and let it out slow as you draw a bead on the target. 3. As the last of your breath goes out, squeeze the trigger . . . gently.
Please, Lord.
Blinking, he focused on the brown, now, red skin. The forest had gone eerily still, even the birds and creatures that rustled in the leaves went still.
“Don’t move. Reload. There are always more.”
Swan crept forward once more with his already loaded gun. John rushed to follow, loading primer, powder and ball. They made it to Clary without incident. John laid a hand on the older man’s chest.  The heart thumped strong and steady beneath his hand.
“He lives.” John swallowed the lump in his throat.
Swan moved toward the bleeding Indian. “So does this one.” He stepped on the indian’s wounded shoulder to keep him from crawling away. The native’s black eyes were emotionless with not even a tremor to show the pain he must be in. Swan grabbed a leather thong from the Indian’s outfit, tied the native’s hands behind his back, and forced him to his feet. A bead of sweat traced its way through the garish paint. It stared at John with quiet menace.
“We will take them both back to the village. The savage will be our hostage to keep the others at bay. Can you manage Clary?”
The sight of the arrow sticking obscenely from Clary’s back made him queasy, but John swallowed and lifted his friend to his shoulder, careful to disturb him as little as possible. Bowing under the weight, he nodded to Swan.
Swan nudged the captive with the knife he had pulled from its sheath.
For John, the beautiful forest, just stirring with the new life of spring, had suddenly become a labyrinth of peril where death lurked just out of sight.

Sary stood and brushed the wrinkles from her skirt with her eye fixed on Mr. Whitaker. He would know if her father had arrived.
Before she was more than halfway across the crowded lawn, there was a commotion where the clearing gave way to trees. The shrill scream of a woman and the shouts of men made her grab her skirt and run. She pushed her way through the mass of bodies until she could see the trio of men that staggered from the woods. Skipping over the black haired savage and Mr. Swan, her eyes latched on the stooped form of a young man staggering beneath the burden of a familiar brown coat and shock of grizzled chestnut hair. Bright crimson blood streaked both men.
“Papa.” Sary clapped both hands to her mouth to hold back the cry that rose to her lips.

 

Fall Behind, Hurry to Catch Up

I am a few thousand words short of where I should be if I want to stay on track. But the John and Sary’s story is slowly coming together. They have just met for the first time on Christmas Eve day . . .  Want to read it?

095The warm light drew him. It became a window. John fell against the rough siding an peered in. Through the wavy panes of glass, a fire crackled beneath a spit where a giant bird slowly rotated.
A sleepy-eyed child crouched next to the hearth yawning as she turned the spit. A woman worked a mound of dough at a table. John stood transfixed as the dough became loaves of bread. His stomach rumbled but he was afraid to move for fear the delicious scene would disappear.
“What are you doing?”
John whirled around at the snap of the voice but ended up on his hands and knees once more.
“Mother, Mary, come help.”
Slender arms wrapped around his chest and helped him to his feet. A nearby door swung open spilling light and heavenly scents into the cold morning air. John allowed the women to lead him inside.
They ushered him to a chair next to the fire. The heat seemed to scald his skin. Phantom pain flashed through his numb hands.
The women worked at the knots holding the blankets around him around him. Then did the same to his woolen coat. As the soaked layers were pulled off, the heat flooded over him bringing on a violent fit of shivering. When they tried to remove the linen gloves from his hands, John curled his fingers and held them on.
“Now sir, we must get these wet things off of you. Let me have the gloves.”
With his teeth chattering, John was unable to speak but he shook his head and pulled his hands closer to his body. He was too cold to think, but still refused to show his hands.
“Well then, hold this tea, it will help warm them.”
John took the cup, but his hands trembled so violently the tea sloshed over the side. The young woman cupped his hands in hers and steadied them. The first sip scalded his tongue, then slid down his throat with blissful heat. He closed his eyes allowing the warmth to spread through his belly.
“Have another.”
He opened his eyes and met those of the young woman crouched before him. They were wide with concern and the fire reflected off the hazel so that they seemed to glow with tones of green-gold and bronze. Her cheeks grew red under his gaze, a perfect complement to the eyes. He stared until thick lashed fluttered down as a shield.
“What were you doing out there, young man?” The mother came back to the room with a thick towel and began rubbing it over his head and shoulders. The vigorous rubbing awoke thousands of red-hot needles in his skin. More woke in his feet as the youngest removed his sodden boots and rubbed with another towel. The agony brought a moan to his lips, tears threatened to escape regardless of how he tried to hold them in.
“I know it hurts, but we have to get the blood moving before frostbite can set in.” The woman continued to rub across his chest. The girl with the eyes had taken his cup and he spotted her hanging a woolen blanket near the fire. He followed her movements. She still wore the cloak and scarf showing that she had been the one to find him.
“Th-th-thank you.” It took several tries before his lips would obey his command. “Moth-th-er. F-f-father.”
“I’m sure you are welcome, but I am not your mother young man.”
“By th-the river.”
All three females stopped their ministrations and stared at him.
“There are more of you out there? Why, it is below freezing, what can you have been thinking of.” The mother offered another sip of tea then another.
He tried again. “Set ash-sh-shore by ship’s long boat. Mother sick. Had to find help.”
“Sary, you’re dressed, go out and find your father. Mary, put more tea on and get the quilts from the attic.”

What do you think? Is it an interesting meeting?Cutting-gingered-bread

The Character Sketch

Who is this John that I write about?

His blood, diluted by 300 years and more, runs through my veins.

Will that help me to know him? What did he dream of? What did he dread?

He crossed an ocean after losing everything, yet so many others stayed.

What drove him across the water? A quest for significance? Dreams of feasting flames? Simple family duty?

He lived, laughed, loved and thrived.

Did he ever look eastward toward his past and wonder ‘What if’?

Did he look westward toward the future, where his grandchildren and their grandchildren would set down roots?

100 years after his Atlantic voyage, his grandchildren and great grandchildren fought for independence.

Did the seeds of rebellion lie dormant in his heart? Did he cling to king and country til they laid his body down?

Who is  this Sarah, who loved him and bore him sons?

Her blood rushes with each beat of my heart.

She was a child of independence, a new life in a new world.

Did she walk pristine New England woodlands? Did she huddle in her home?

What did she think of the land her parents fled? What did she see in the man who stole her heart?

Fresh from the shores of England, did she welcome him or offer scorn?

Did her parents arrange the union? or did her heart choose its course?

She bore him children, some lived, some died.

Did she thank God for the moments they breathed or forever mourn the ones who ceased?

Who are these people, who yet live through me.

I write their story to answer these queries. To know what came before and wonder what will follow me.

NaNoWriMo is Here!

The challenge is to write 50,000 words during the month of November. Since I work best with deadlines and a support system I am signing up again this year.

Follow my progress as I create a tale of long ago. John and Sary Perry in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1667.

Perry Across the Pond: This is the working title, I will come up with something better by the end.