Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Meet The Books! - The Top-Hat Gang



Hallo again... finally... Haha, yeah, I know. I haven't actually been gone that long. :)
But, now I'm back with the next Meet The Books! feature, and this time new and improved, with more features, which means Belle talks for longer! Yay! *crowd in distance boos horrendously* Ahem... *shoots glare at crowd* Anyways, moving on from that. :P So, I am doing this feature of introducing my books in chronological order (from when they were started). And the immediate story after Alomina is The Top-Hat Gang, a rather adorable, comedic little thing. It's a trilogy (oh, goodness, the word 'trilogy' seems far too epic and serious for it...) that I started the summer right before Alomina's first anniversary (so, summer of 2015, I believe...?). Wow. It's already almost two years old. :') My little baby book... *realizes how weird she's acting and clears throat* Ahem. Moving on again, I suppose I shall proceed to introduce it.
 I haven't actually been gone too long, have I? Well, I'm a bit of an obsessive blogger, I'm afraid. If I leave this thing alone for too long, then I feel like I'm losing the few lovely readers I have. Which is ridiculous and paranoid, of course. But, I'm finally back with another



What is the genre?
The genre of all three books is Romantic Comedy. But I find it has leaned very much more to the Comedy side at times. ;) Think cutesy old 1950's musical mixed with clever old slapstick comedy show (haha, I realized I used the word 'old' for both descriptions... haha, I'm a granny writer...).
What is the title? The time period?
The title for the trilogy as a whole is The Top-Hat Gang (as you can see from the post title). The titles for the separate three books are yet to be decided officially. Unofficially, I have them put down in document as The Top-Hat Gang's Beginnings: Harry And Flynn; The Top-Hat Gang's Best Years: Jim And Jerry; and The Top-Hat Gang Completed: Roger And Freddie. The time period (for the beginning book, Harry And Flynn) is the year 1952, and time will move on from there.
Who are the characters?
Haha, this book may have a plot like burnt toast (a brilliant phrase coined from Cait), but its characters have been very frequently praised (and, in all hopes, sincerely so!). The immediate characters in book one are these:
Harry Drew is the MC - twenty-two years old, unmarried, shy and rather nervous of nature. A gentleman in his heart, to be sure, but outwardly a rather more awkward one, particularly around ladies (whom he has never quite learned to socialize with). He works for a small music shop mostly, but is at his home apartment a composer of brilliant measure, just too reserved to get anywhere with his beautiful compositions, despite the urging of his friends (particularly Flynn), who have heard his melodies. He has blue eyes, and chocolate-brown hair, and, while no shrimp, is a bit smaller than his best friend Flynn (who is a whopping 6'3 in height), at just barely six feet. The best picture of him is this one here.
Actually a very young Frank Sinatra, but when he was much younger, he looked a good bit like I imagine Harry. Only when he was younger, though.
Younger Ronald Reagan also looks a lot like Harry Drew... In fact, possibly more so.
The reason that very young Frank Sinatra looks ever-so-slightly like him may be that Harry and Flynn are dedicated to the memory of the famous duo, Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly, so my mental image of Harry is compatible with his dedicated personage (even though Flynn looks only in a few select details like Kelly, unlike Harry and young Sinatra, who are pretty similar). The only problem with this picture is that it's in black and white, so you can't observe the blue eyes and brown hair. I have another Sinatra picture that is compatible with Harry that's in color, but Sinatra is slightly older, so it's not as ideal unfortunately.
Flynn Arnough is extremely different from his best friend, to be sure. He is the 'other' MC in a way, as a great deal of the book focuses on him too. He is twenty-three, very tall (six foot three, to be exact), has black swept-over, Errol Flynn-ish styled hair, and rare violet eyes. He was born into a rather rich family, but still works for fun as a private dance instructor. He lives in Arnough Mansion, not too far from Harry, with his younger sister, Rosanne (commonly known as Rosa) and his parents (when they're not off in some vacation home for business, which is pretty rare). He's rather a socialite, and is constantly on the search for the right girl, frequently going out with some new lady. Unlike Harry, he is about as composed with women as it is possible to be, just about. Unfortunately, even this hasn't really helped him out much in the realm of settling down, as much as he sorely wants to, so he is still unmarried.
A lovely picture of Flynn, don't you think? Errol Flynn to be precise, but let's not split hairs. ;)

After these two, are the other characters, including first and foremost, the members of the gang:
Jim Stevens can be a bit unpleasant at times, but is still as much a part of the Top-Hat Gang (as Harry, Flynn and their friends have come to be called) as anybody else. Jim has had maybe one or two going-out here and there, but for the most part is unspoken for also. He's a rather sullen, even grumpy, at times character, but he has his good moments. He's a bit contrary, and definite stubborn. Still, no matter how much he may argue or grumble, his heart is with the Gang, and particularly (oddly enough) with the person that antagonizes and teases him most in the gang, Jerrold James. He works as a math teacher, and doesn't go out a whole lot, unless it's with the rest of the Gang. He is twenty-two, about six foot two, dark-blue-eyed, darker-brown-haired, and has something messed up about his appearance usually. He isn't messy really, it's just that he has un uncanny knack for, whatever situation, getting his tie ever-so-slightly crooked, his collar ever-so-slightly flipped, his vest ever-so-slightly rumpled, or something of the like, and so gives the impression in appearance often of being rather disgruntled.
Jim Stevens... a.k.a. a rather mussed up James Stewart, haha.


Jerrold James, commonly known to the rest of the gang as Jerry, is a twenty-four year-old repairman, often to be found doing handy work more for fun than for his job. He has chestnut-ish hair(?) and brown eyes, and is about six foot two or so (roughly the same as Jim). He is especial friends with Jim Stevens, but it's still a mystery how he and Jim are such good friends. He probably antagonizes, teases, and otherwise irritated Jim more than anybody else does, and he does it practically as a hobby. Jim also will occasionally do the like to him, so nobody is really quite sure how the two are so close. Jerry, though, unlike Jim, is extremely social. Not quite so much as Flynn, though, and definitely not the same kind. He's friendly, to be sure, but steers as clear of women as he possibly can. He doesn't exactly trust them, let's say. He dislikes the 'spider-like ones', who 'weave webs around a guy', and so, not being able to tell the difference, just avoids them all more or less.
Yeah, I know that Gregory Peck doesn't match the description of Jerry up there very well, but the face he's making is incredibly Jerry-ish.



Freddie Mayne is definitely the jokester of the group. He's also the shortest, at about five ten. He's got green eyes and black hair, and is aged about twenty-three at the start of the story. He has a thing for cracking rather bad jokes and being optimistic no matter what the situation, even unto being ridiculous sometimes. He is fairly social, and, while not being such a fast-mover as Flynn, is still relatively familiar with the women. His job is working at a malt-shop, but he's frequently seen trying to do various unusual hobbies (which he usually fails at eventually) such as karate or a yo-yo world record.
Google Image Result for http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/40/Gene_kelly.jpg/225px-Gene_kelly.jpg:
I know Flynn is the one who is dedicated to Gene Kelly, but Freddie looks so much more like him than Flynn does.
Roger Raymore is the youngest member, at age twenty-one. He and Freddie are very much pals, for being very opposite. (Jim and Jerry are unusual as pals, but have not too different characters, so it's not as contrasting.) Rog (as Freddie calls him on occasion) delivers books, and own a tiny book shop. He definitely looks like a professor, even though he isn't one. He's ever-so-slightly absent-minded, and extremely indecisive in character. He's blonde, has blue eyes, and is the tallest member of the gang (despite his younger age) at about six foot four. He enjoys more scholarly activities for the most part, but will never hesitate to go out with the rest of the gang if asked. He particularly enjoys reading, but as athletic activities go, Freddie can get him to play baseball sometimes. He never really goes looking for female attention, unlike some of the other members, but he (quite unwittingly) can sometimes attract it.

After that, the only other characters that are really, really important to the first book are
Charlotte Davis, a twenty-two year-old friend of Rosanne's who goes to a rather eventful party of the Top-Hat Gang one night,
Rosanne Arnough, more commonly known as Rosa. Flynn's sister and pretty much a part of the Top-Hat Gang already, and
Ella Kitterne, a rich socialite friend of Flynn and Rosa's who arranged this mentioned very eventful party.
I wish I could talk more about them, but I elaborated so much already on the gang. I will, in another post, get to the elaboration on the girls of the Top-Hat Gang. For now, I will stick with the male members.
What does the plot consist of?
The plot is mostly a romantic one as of yet. There will be more plot that isn't romantic or comedic soon, but it's not too developed right now. The romantic plot is Flynn and Harry, basically. Harry doesn't even really look for a girl, while Flynn is desperate to find the right one. So, when Harry gets smitten with a Miss Charlotte Davis at a party, Flynn decides to put his own girl troubles aside for the moment, and help Harry with courting Charlotte. Flynn sets Harry up in one romantic situation after another, and Harry, being very shy and somewhat nervous, manages to make each one comedic somehow. Harry is trying hard, and Flynn is trying even harder to help him, until chaos hits when Flynn finds himself falling for the very same girl. Thus, the romance gets incredibly comic, and largely frustrating, I might warn you. But, it's funny. Plus it has a lot of little subplots of the doings of the other gang members and their girls here and there. The first book of The Top-Hat Gang will cover this romance, of Harry and Flynn, and then the second book will cover the romances of the so-called free ranger, Jerry, and unattached Jim. The third book will be covering the last two members, Freddie and Roger, and their doings (plus an amazing scene where somebody gets punched! I love punching scenes!). :P
What is the setting?
It is the USA in, as I've said, the time 1952. I'm still not quite sure what state it is yet, but I'm working on it. It's a town somewhere in America, wherever I eventually decide. And... I will have more pictures for both setting and characters as soon as I can get myself to just stop using pictures of awesome old actors and old movie props. :P
Who are the favorite characters in it?
Well, I have five readers for this, and almost every one has said their favorite (or one of their favorites) was Harry Drew. The next most popular one, it seems, would be the disgruntled Jim Stevens. After that, Flynn Arnough is the only one who is directly mentioned as a #1 favorite. The other gang members, though, are frequently ranted over, whether by me or by a reader. My personal favorite might still be Harry, just for having been there before Jim, Roger, or Freddie (my other favs!).
What is the favorite scene?
Haha, a scene at a museum. All the gang is there, and Jim gets lost by himself, and, well, let's just say his time was pretty eventful. All the while, Jim is incredibly grumpy (he hadn't wanted to go), and Harry is trying to be enthusiastic and get the other guys to be positive about it (Jim not helping at all by grumbling about getting left behind). But they forget that Jim's there for a moment, and they lose him. He, due to his pleasant attitude, manages to get on the wrong side of a tour guide there, a tour guide who ends up being the one for the gang's trip, so it gets a bit comical... :P But, that scene isn't finished. The favorite finished scene is one in which Harry came to try and pick up Charlotte for their first date. It was a gem, to be sure. Which reminds me! I have to place credit where credit is due with this story, of course. When I was brainstorming for the idea for this novel, I wasn't the only one brainstorming. My first younger sister was there too, and was a party helping think up the original idea for this. I would say more, but I fear she might disapprove of it, as, while she helped come up with the original idea with me and for me, she does kind-of resent the liberties I took with plot and characters. So I gather, she had kind-of intended Flynn to be a bit of an antagonist. I think. That is what I surmise from her protests. But anyways, a hand of applause for her, the reluctant aid in the idea (and if she reads this, I really am sorry with what I did to the story - I just am trying to develop it!). She helped come up with the original idea for that Harry and Charlotte scene too.
Any themes of music for this work?
Well, no official ones, but the Elvis song Girl Of My Best Friend reminds me of Flynn, and is unofficially his song. And the song I Fall In Love Too Easily by Frank Sinatra is pretty much the unofficial theme for Harry, and the first book as a whole. Which is funny, because in the scene in the movie that song goes to, Anchors Aweigh, the situation Frank Sinatra's character is in is a lot like Harry's. It's so weird, though, that even before Harry and Flynn were dedicated to Sinatra and Kelly, they resembled them in character so much, and the plot was so similar to a Sinatra/Kelly plot. It's incredibly weird, especially considering the fact that I wasn't big on Kelly back when I started writing it, and hadn't even seen more than one movie with Sinatra and Kelly together, and that one only once (and I didn't even remember it very well!). It's like Harry and Flynn were just destined to be like the Sinatra/Kelly duet in a lot of ways. It's almost creepy...
How's its progress?
Well, it's gotten to about Chapter... Nine in the first book, which is the only one being officially written at the moment. But the chapters are long, and I spend a lot of time perfecting scene in that, so... I also have some sneak-scenes for books two and three, but officially, they're not written yet (shh!).
Any snippets...?
When they got there, Flynn stepped out of the taxi, and, straightening his top hat, entered boldly into through the doors of the building. With many a second thought, Harry nervously tried to copy Flynn, but tripped on the stair and fell over. Quickly standing up and brushing himself off, he also entered, desperately hoping no one saw.
***

"Hello Rosa, enjoying yourself? Ella! You look very nice tonight! Ah, Charlotte, good to see you here!", Flynn said, kissing each on the cheek. He then singly addressed the third: "Charlotte, I'd like you to meet my best friend, Harry Drew", and at this Flynn stepped aside to display Harry.

Harry only did an odd, nervous sort-of wave that did anything but improve the situation's awkwardness.

***

"N -nice to meet you", Harry said nervously, lifting her hand as though to kiss it as he had often seen Flynn do, but shyly thinking better of it and putting it down.

She smiled at him as though she thought he was amusing. This made him ashamed like nothing else.

***
"You look swell...", Harry said, observing her lovely violet gown and done-up hair, but wondering whether 'swell' was quite the right word to use.
***
Escorting Rosa into the house, Flynn continued his thought train. He thought of how he could possibly get Harry Drew into the romantic 'mood'. But an idea did hit him. So, the next day, even before his sister was up, he went to bookshop after bookshop, and stands for movie-tickets, getting things that he thought might do the trick. When he was done, he went to Harry's small but quaint and well-kept home. He then, carrying a large bag of all that he had collected, knocked on the door.
***
"Anyway  I've got to scoot, see you later, hope you like those, bye, old pal!", Flynn said, departing.

"Bye, old pal...", Harry said, puzzled by his friend's mysteriousness.

Then Harry shrugged, picked up the closest book, and began to read.
***
At the mention of Miss Davis, if Harry's mind had been unsure, his heart was quickly certain, for he confirmed Flynn's every suspicion by answering:
"Yes, I'll be there!", and with that, he smiled briefly but then looked away, apparently realizing his own quite over-obvious enthusiasm.
***
"Rosa, um, uh, hello, and um, Char-lo-tte", he said embarrassedly , dragging the syllables of Charlotte's name, hoping he had not done something wrong in addressing her.
***
Harry looked down at his costume and then at Charlotte's again. Rosa's gaze followed his and then met his. Her look confirmed his guess. Charlotte was Maid Marian... and poor Harry was playing Robin Hood!
***
Harry groped for his tie, and somehow managed to tie it neatly despite his clumsily shaking hands. Once he was finished, he looked at his watch nervously for the fifteenth time. Good, he thought, Still thirty minutes to go...
***
He then walked up to the house and knocked on the door. No one answered. He walked round to the back, but no one was there either. He looked through the first-floor window - carefully just avoiding the small, ornamental pond by the window. The house still seemed to be empty. He sat on a decorative garden bench in the back, wondering what to do next (he thought to himself that Flynn would probably know). Harry then saw the figure of someone in the second-floor window, and tried desperately to signal to them, but in vain. Suddenly, an idea hit him, one most un-Harry-ish. There were vines all up the house's outside walls... Harry grabbed one boldly. He at the same time wondered what Flynn would say....
***
Charlotte threw off her fur shawl, and took off her pearl necklace too. She then sat on her bed, wondering what could possibly have happened. How could  he possibly be so late? Was he going to come at all? Charlotte heard a slight creaking noise from outside, and wondered what it was, but didn't move. She then heard a small yell, and a loud splash. She hurried to the window in surprise. She looked down, and to her greatest shock, saw a dripping wet Harry Drew, just sitting in the garden pond! He looked up, shyly grinned, and said sheepishly:
"Sorry I'm late"
***
"Fine", Jim reluctantly said. "But don't expect this all the time, pals"
Jerry laughed. "Who knows, you may change your opinion about going to museums, Jim, in fact - who knows? -  you could even get a date, I'm sure"

"With whom?", asked Jim suspiciously.

"A dinosaur", said Jerry, to more laughter from Freddie, and a disapproving frown from Jim.
***



"Top going to blow any time soon, Jim? It's getting a little boring waiting for it", said Roger casually.
 
Jim did indeed look as though his top was going to blow. He glared at Harry.

"And just for some girl", Jim muttered under his breath angrily.

***
"What handiwork! Isn't it great, fellas?", said Harry enthusiastically, trying to spark interest.

"Bet it's a fake", said Jim grumpily from the corner, regarding it distastefully. "What a boring place", he said.

"Nobody likes a stick in the mud, Jim, and you're a whole tree", said Flynn.
***
"Well, sorry Jim", said Freddie, "Sorry for ruining your time here", he said, an ever-so-slight hint of rare sarcasm in his voice.

"It was already ruined just being here", Jim grumbled, resuming his dark attitude.
***
"Hey fellows, isn't this a beauty?", Harry said to keep their attention, pointing  at a clump of Celestine rock on display (though Miss Harper had already pointed it out).
 "Yeah, somebody found a rock and polished glitter all over it", muttered Jim.
***
But then that glowing feeling passed. Harry realized he would have to persuade the guys into going to that opening, and his heart sank into his shoes.
***
Haha, over half of those snippets were from the museum scene... Yeah... I think I'm more obsessed with that scene than my readers... And a good amount of those snippets were centered on Jim... :P Oh well... Really, for being the main character, Harry likes to just step out of the spotlight sometimes (not that that's really uncharacteristic of him... quite the contrary...).
Any drawings?
Unfortunately, I only have a couple, and, unlike with Alomina, my sister isn't really willing to draw for this one. And I have very unusual readers for this one, most of whom don't draw, so none from them either. But I drew a bookmark for myself of Jim and Kitty Harper (a third MC in his book):

Haha, Jim's looking rather mussed-up... as usual. His collar's half-flipped, his hair is ruffled, and his tie is ever-so-slightly crooked.


And an uncolored picture of Charlotte Davis:


You see the arm of Flynn accompanying Charlotte here on the left. I was going to draw the whole Top-Hat Gang. I hadn't drawn Harry, Freddie, Roger, Rosanne, etc., etc. yet, and had not quite finished Jim. Kitty is in the picture, but headless still. Flynn looks rather below standard for the detail of the rest of the picture even though he's finished, so I didn't put him here. Unfortunately the shadow of my other hand got in the way taking the pic... :P



That's unfortunately all the pictures I have concerning the gang, but I hope to draw more sometimes soon. I suppose that's all I've got as of now, but, like I said, I may do more, because I barely scratched the surface character-wise (which means this story is quite populated - even just now I went on for a while!). So I'll end it, I guess, and leave further elaboration for another time. For being one of the less written-down stories, it's definitely one of the most developed. But, like I said, that's for another date. So, konbonwa, all! ;)
So, what did you think? Would you read it? Who would be your favorite character from the descriptions? Do you think it sounds better than Alomina, or does my former story sound better? Can anybody else sympathize with the predicament of having characters who refuse to stick to plot rather than hanging around and bantering delightfully? Do you like Romantic Comedies (especially ones where it's 75% Comedy and 25% Romance)?

























Sunday, January 29, 2017

Dual Character Inquisition Tag

Tags, tags, tags. They've been coming down hard, haven't they? :) Well, I've got another one. It's called the "Dual Character Inquisition Tag", or, as I like to abbreviate thing so much and I will do with it, the "DCIT". ;) I got tagged for it by the wonderful Blue@ToBeASennachie (remember how I said I had another tag from her?). So, I came back from the Pro-life March and decided this would be a good re-starting post to resume from where my hiatus took off. The idea of the DCIT is to take two characters from your NaNo project (or whatever project you are working on) and ask them together in an interview ten random questions. So I suppose I'll get right to it, with my NaNo project characters Tsonja Ristoff and Bertie Fleming (Tsonja is in blue, Bertie is in green. I just put a note to convey Tsonja's accent rather than confusing people by typing it in, like I normally do.)
Belle. Hey, Bertie, Tsonja. You guys ready to answer some questions for me?
Tsonja. *with strong Russian accent* If you insist.
Bertie. *smiles brightly and claps hands together* Let's hop to it then!
Belle. *smiles* Thanks for the enthusiasm, Bertie. Alright, the first question for both of you is this: who is your greatest friend? 
Bertie. *shrugs* I don't know. Vic's fun, but... *laughs* I get the feeling that there are people who know him even better than I do... I might say Tsonja here if she would allow that kind-of talk. Tsonja. *smiles dryly* Well, I won't.
Bertie. *shrugs* Well, than I suppose I'll say it anyways and dare her disapproval. 
Belle. And what about you, Tsonja? Surely even the recluse of the story must have a great friend? Tsonja. I have told I don't like to answer personal questions before, have not I? If you insist, though, I answer. Most likely Gospotitzya Leta.
Bertie. *turns to Tsonja* What's with the 'Gospotitzya' business you always have to do?
Tsonja. *sighs exasperatedly* I believe you use 'Miss', do not you? Gospotitzya is obscure, old-fashioned, to be sure, but it means same thing.
Bertie. *laughs* So that's what it means. *laughs again* I actually already knew that, I just wanted to make you explain it again.
Tsonja. *rolls eyes and frowns, but mouth twitches slightly as though to smile*
Belle. *laughs* You're a rascal, Bertie. The next question is what's one of the worst, most hilarious situations you've gotten into?
Tsonja. *smiles sarcastically and gestures towards Bertie* Meeting this one.
Bertie. *laughs* Now that's even cruel for you, Gospotitzya.
Tsonja. *rolls eyes smilingly*
Belle. *trying not to laugh* Oh, come one, guys, answer this one seriously, please?
Bertie. Well, I got into a pretty bad spot when I met my... *gazes reminiscently into distance* When I met my team... *jerks himself back to reality and tries to laugh* Well, I kinda met them on bad terms. Me and Louis got into a fight with each other in the cadet training, and Kate was one of the people who came to split the fight up, but it ended with us all fighting each other, until we realized we were the only ones still at it, and gave up. Then, well, we got together and became one of the most elite task teams in the entire force. *laughs rememberingly*
Belle. *smiles* And what about you, Tsonja?
Tsonja. *sighs* Probably when I first went into base, and my papers were presented to this one. *gestures to Bertie* He held out a hand to shake, saying that I must be 'Tas-oon-jah'. *frowns* That is no way to speak, I know, even for an Australian.
Bertie. *laughs* Now, woah, woah, woah, sister! Let's not go so low as to start insulting my heritage, Miss Tsarina. Besides, I knew how to pronounce it. I was just playing around saying it like that.
Tsonja. *sarcastically* Oh, yes, Gospodin, of course you were.
Bertie. 'Gospodin' too?
Tsonja. *rolls eyes* It means 'Sir'.
Belle. Haha, alright, break it up, guys. *grins* Here's a good question, and a very personal one, unfortunately for you, Tsonja. Do you two realize that when the idea for your story was first in process, you two were romantic interests?
Tsonja. *raises eyebrow at Belle, then Bertie*
Bertie. *blinks confusedly and then looks down at Tsonja*
Belle. *just waits for reaction*
Bertie. *blinks again and bursts out laughing, shaking himself* That's funny! *looks sheepish* That was before, and not now, right...?
Tsonja. *lifts eyebrow higher, now looking at Belle* Me? Gospotitzya Belle? That was before...?
Belle. *laughs* Haha, yeah. But... *tries to look mysterious* I may or may not have changed it...
Tsonja. *looks back up at Bertie* You definitely changed it.
Bertie. *nods awkwardly* Yep... Definitely. We are not a couple... *laughs*
Belle. *laughs again* Well, I guess I won't try to bring this back as of now. Moving on, what was your best subject in school as a child?
Bertie. *grins* Any subject that didn't require intense studying.
Tsonja. *smiles dryly* Any subject that did require intense studying.
Belle. *laughs* You two are so funny. I mean specifically speaking.
Bertie. *rubs neck sheepishly* Well, probably Geography. I always did well with maps, even though I was better in Track and the like.
Tsonja. I always was more favoring of Mathematics, Coding, and Logic.
Bertie. *grins* Yeah, and that's why she ends up being some genius satellite tracker and decoder, and I end up being an Aussie super-spy.
Belle. Oh, Bertie... *smiles* You two are about as opposite as day and night. How on earth did you ever become colleagues, much less friends?
Bertie. *shrugs and grins* I guess she just couldn't resist my amazing personality.
Tsonja. *unsmiling* What is American saying? Give me the break?
Belle. *laughs* Yeah, that's it, Tsonja. Question number five, what's your favorite food?
Bertie. Cake. Cake. Cake. Especially when it's cake.
Tsonja. *dryly* What an eloquent answer, Gospodin Fleming. I do hope that I can answer with the same wit and poeticism as that.
Bertie. *smiles sheepishly* Well, I just like cake, that's all.
Tsonja. *smiles sarcastically* And who knew cake was the food to destroy your grammar. There should be notices to inform people that their grammar will become twisted if they eat it. I do hope your mind hasn't become too mottled by it, Gospodin?
Bertie. *grins* Yeah... I think I'm already a cake maniac. They should lock me up in irons - I'm just not stable any more!
Tsonja. *rolls eyes* You never were, to my knowledge. As my favorite food, in which telling you of, I hope for having better grammar - despite my flawed English - it is stroganoff. I never really think about foods much, siding from those of my homeland.
Belle. Well, at least you've got a cool accent, even if broken English. I would let you just talk in Russian, but I don't think any of my audience can read Russian letters... and neither can I. *grins*
Tsonja. *shrugs cooly* Oh well.

Bertie. And the next question, Miss Belle?
Belle. Haha, hold your horses, Bertie. Alright, the next is this: have either of you ever had a significant other in your life?
Tsonja. *crosses arms* No. I do not have time for that.
Bertie. *grins a little sheepishly* Well, I can say I have had a few significant others before...But nothing too serious.
Belle. Alright, question seven, how do you react to pressured times?
Bertie. *laughs* Run my hand over my pistol holster and just play it cool.
Tsonja. *frowns* In pressured times, I don't usually have to have a reaction. Normally I am by myself.
Bertie. *laughs again* Yeah, but when you are around others, you pretend like you don't care, and then slowly your hair gets all out of placement and into your face, and then you start wanting to have time alone to work everything out, and then you fall into Russian muttering to yourself if it gets really, really bad.
Tsonja. *frowns* No, I don't.
Bertie. *rolls eyes smilingly* Yeah, you do, Tsarina Tsonja.
Belle. *laughingly* How many times am I gonna have to break you two apart? Alright, next, what's the worst mistake anybody has ever made concerning your name?
Tsonja. *rolls eyes* This one and his 'Tas-oon-jah'. But Americans are constantly mispronouncing it in various way.
Bertie. *laughs* The worst mistake in addressing me is often made on purpose. *grins down at Tsonja* She and Leta seem to think it's funny to leave out the 'Major', and address me like a civilian, even at work. For your information, Gospotitzya Tsonja Ivanovna Ristoff, my name is Major  Bertie Fleming. Major. It took a while to get that rank, and I didn't get it just so a couple of Russian dolls could pretend it didn't exist. *winks at Tsonja*
Belle. *smiles awkwardly* Well, Leta was my dedicated character, so it's kind-of me who purposefully forgets that 'Major'... *clears throat* Ahem, uh, anyways, the next question. How, in one word, would you describe yourselves? What about each other? (By the way, that question was stolen from Miss Lucy Agnes' doing of this same tag.)
Bertie. I think I'd describe myself as 'lucky', probably. I have been in countless dangerous missions, explosions, fights, boring sessions of training, etc., etc., and lived through all of them. I think 'lucky' is definitely the word. As for her... I might say 'reclusive', 'hard-shelled', or 'absorbed'. Yeah, definitely 'absorbed'. She gets so into everything, especially work, and it makes me tired just watching her.
Tsonja. Tired? How do you get tired watching...? I am unfamiliar with this phrase...
Bertie. *laughs* Never mind it, Tsonja. Basically I'm sayin' you work very determinedly.
Belle. And what about you, Tsonja? How would you describe yourself?
Tsonja. *sighs and frowns slightly* My character is not what most would think of as pleasant, or necessarily optimistic. Most would undoubtedly call it, with some measure of correctness, somewhat disagreeable. I think that perhaps it could described as, like Gospodin Fleming said, reclusive, or even cold, unfeeling, perhaps. I might call myself - ah,what is the term? - reserved? I believe that is the word, nyet?
Belle. And what about him?
Bertie. *lifts eyebrow grinningly at Tsonja* Yeah, what about me, Tsonja?
Tsonja. *rolls eyes* A fool.
Bertie. *busts up laughing* Haha, I knew you'd say something like that!
Belle. *laughs* Oh, come on, Tsonja, be serious.
Tsonja. Alright, fine. He is perhaps the exact opposite of my own character. I might call him over-social, reckless, distractable, or warm-natured. I suppose in but a word, though, he is optimistic.
Bertie. *grins* Optimistic, huh? That's about right... I'd like to hear the reason behind those others, though... 'Over-social'... 'reckless'... 'distractable'...? I think you have a very low opinion of me, m'dear Tsarina.
Tsonja. *sarcastically* Then maybe your perception is not so low as I had thought.
Belle. *laughs* Alright, last question, you two. What's your favorite pastime?
Bertie. *gestures at Tsonja* Her? Work. Work, work, work. That's the only hobby I've ever seen her at. 
Tsonja. Maybe your sight is not altogether keen then, Gospodin. 
Bertie. *laughs and slaps his hand to his forehead in disbelief* Really? First you admit my perception isn't so bad, and then you insult my eyesight! Really, I'll have to work with you, because you, Tsarina, have no respect for your captain! *grins*
Tsonja. *smiles dryly* Have I ever had any?
Bertie. *grins sheepishly in defeat* Nope.
Tsonja. But, anyways, Gospotitzya Belle, before this one *gestures towards Bertie* interrupted, I was going to tell you a pastime of my own. My first and foremost occupation, of course, is my work -
Bertie. *snorts with laughter*
Tsonja. *ignores Bertie* - But I also read quite a bit, and not just for my job.
Bertie. *sidles up to Tsonja grinningly* Oh, yeah, I can just imagine you, sitting down in a nice, cozy chair by the fire with a cup of whatever Russians drink instead of hot cocoa, settling yourself to read a nice, little chapter of "Mathematical Proposition and Coding: Volume One". *bursts into more hearty laughter*
Tsonja. *smiles dryly* Don't you think I would have gotten farther than volume one?
Bertie. *laughs harder*
Belle. *tries hard to restrain laughter* And what about you, Bertie? Your favorite hobby?
Bertie. *gasps for breath from laughter* Well - hahahaha - I - haha - sometimes - hahaha - like to - hahaha - swim! *loses control again, and starts laughing harder*
Tsonja. *rolls eyes at Bertie's predicament* I think we best go, Gospotitzya Belle. *nods head to Belle* Good-bye. *takes Bertie's arm as he still guffaws helplessly* Let's go, Gospodin Fleming, before you burst a lung.
Bertie. *calms himself a minute to wave to Belle* Seeya! *starts laughing again*
Belle. See you both soon!
Tsonja. *leaving with Bertie* Oh, come on, Gospodin, it was not that funny...
End Interview.
Those parties tagged for this thingy are as follows:
The Lovely Miss Cait.
The Lively Kayla Marie (I missed the last post on her blog unfortunately, which I think told where to find her new one, so now I am in confusion as to where it is and cannot link to it).
So there you go! The DCIT! Thank you again to Blue for nominating me! And thank you to Anna R., the founder of the lovely tag! Did you like Bertie? What about Tsonja? Can you pronounce her name correctly? (It basically just sounds like the name 'Sonya', with a slightly more Russian-ish pronunciation of the vowels.) Which of them did you like better? Do you like them together? Are you wishing you'd never read this crazy post? ;) 


Monday, January 23, 2017

Writer's Life Tag

Bongiornio! :) Yeah, I'm back. Again. ;) But this time, with a lovely tag from Blue. Thanks for the tag, Blue! (She tagged me for something else too, which I will do at another time.) But, anyways, the tag is called "The Writer's Life Tag", and consists of answering questions... which I will do, so as not to let myself rant on for too long. :)
Write-fuel: What do you eat/drink while writing?
Well, usually I eat chocolate. I know, I know, uncreative writing-food. But it's good! :D As for drinking, usually hot chocolate or coffee (coffee only on occasion - I don't like getting coffee on my notebooks!). Although, if it's anywhere near lunch, I have been known to also munch on pretzel-sticks while writing. And zevia (a sugar-free soda I like) is also amazing for thought before a writing session. Don't ask me why. :P
Write-sounds: What do you usually listen to while writing?
It depends on the story. If I'm working on Alomina, for instance, I usually listen to either the soundtrack of Cinderella (2015), Il Divo, or a few select Andy Williams songs (including "More", because it's awesome, and inspires any story-writing, and "Dear Heart", because it reminds me of Percy, who frequently calls Mina 'Dear Heart'). I also will occasionally listen to the love theme for the book, which is "Remember When It Rained", by Josh Groban (it is specifically Celeise's love-theme). If I'm working on my other medieval story, then mostly the same music applies, except I also listen to that story's themes. When I write in my Romantic Comedy, though, that's when I really get to have fun. I break out the 40's and 50's music and just write. :)
Write-vice: What's your most debilitating distraction?
Well, probably the fact that my favorite characters can't be in every single scene, doing all the funny little hangout things I imagine them doing. Unfortunately, not every scene can be a tea party between Vic Vance and Bertie Fleming (In Greater Hands). *sighs* I wish it could... I really get tired of my boring MCs (well, boring in comparison to my pet characters). Alomina is over-timid, Leta is frustratingly unsure, Owain is too sullen, Alagna is stupendously nosy, and I cannot seem to rid myself of the feeling that I just despise all of them and wish they would disappear to just make way for the side-characters. That is definitely the main reason I write so slow...
Write-horror: What's the worst thing that's ever happened to you while writing?
Probably when I got bit by a spider while writing outside under a tree. It wasn't a super terrible bite, just a small one, and it got some gray foam on it afterwards, but it was slightly unpleasant. The main thing about it that I didn't like was just the thought of a spider biting me (because I do NOT like spiders!).
Write-joy: What's the best thing that's ever happened to you while writing, or how do you celebrate small victories?
One of the best things that ever happened to me while writing was when I was very intensely typing a new scene in Alomina. I was very thoroughly getting into the scene, and I leaned back for but one second to think, and my eye caught to word-count. It had reached the standard 50k. My little baby! :') *sighs* I was soooooo happy, I followed my best friend around all the rest of the day after I told her, just talking with her about writing, and randomly sighing and smiling. My baby was officially a novel! I celebrated by going to see my best friend, and by listening to the music themes of Alomina over and over again.
Write-crew: Who do you communicate or not communicate with while writing?
Well, I have had various writing parties (meaning, just sitting down together and having a quiet session of writing) with my best friend and mentor, who is a very prominent writer. And my main cheer crew reader-wise, besides her of course, are three other writer friends, including Lucy Agnes and Anna D. I also have a wonderful critique crew over at The Inklings, the main people (besides Miss Lucy) of which are Anna R. and Hope. I also tell my reluctant siblings about writing, not really caring whether they listen or not. :P
Write-secret: What's your writing secret to success, or hidden flaw?
Well, *laughs* I haven't much success to brag about at the moment. I suppose even having gotten as far as I have in my stories is some kind of a success, though. And the secret to that is just having particularly enticing characters. As for hidden flaws, *laughs again* all my flaws are quite out in the open, I assure you. No one would miss 'em. :) I guess my least well-known one, though, is my trouble with proposals. I can't really write romance unless it has some element of comedy in it, or particularly intriguing setting. Hence, I have never been able to write proposal scenes, whether inside or outside of the story. I have only written one, and it was a failed proposal. Poor guy. I would mention the poor boy's name and more details, but again, certain audience members may be on the lookout for spoilers.
Write-spiration: What always makes you productive?
I can answer that in one word. Characters! I only got as far as I did in NaNo because of my characters. I only have gotten through Alomina because of the characters. I basically can ony write at all because of the characters. Think how dull a story would be if there were no characters?! What could even happen at all?!
Vic Vance, made with an online space doll scene-maker.
Write-peeve: What's one thing that writers do (or you do) that's annoying?
Oh, there are so many... Like the writers that I call practicalists (or realistics), who spend their writing days trying to make their novels exactly like the real world, and force others to do the same by the pressure claims of "Cleche" and "Try to make it real". It. Drives. Me. Nuts! Writing is not supposed to be exactly like the real world! It's supposed to have personalization and make sense (the real world doesn't always make sense, or at least not the kind of sense that needs to be in writing). As for what I do... It annoys me how I have a habit of putting sentences into a sort of interrogation almost. Like this:
"Bob bit his lip, reflecting on the event. Could he really have just heard that? Was it true? Did he believe it? Could he?"
It's pretty irritating, and it's not good writing. :P
That's all the listed queries for this particular tag, but I hope to be back soon with the other tag. Thanks for the opportunity, Blue! :D
So, there we have the Writer's Life Tag. What did you think? Do you have a write-crew? Are your characters doing well? ;) Does practicalism in writers irritate you as well? Are you a practicalist or a poeticist (like me)? Unfortunamente, this shall be my last post before the hiatus to go on the pro-life march. Sorry if comments are answered late! :P

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Catholicism Explained: Purgatory

Yay! My first Catholicism Explained post! :D I am quite over the moon that I was allowed to take this up at all. So, before I begin, I suppose I shall give another most heart-felt thanks to Miss Lucy Agnes, the starter of this gadget, and the person who permitted my doing it. *clasp heartily* Thanks, Luce! :)
And now, since all thanks due has been given, I shall proceed. Today, I am going to talk about the Catholic doctrine of... well, okay I forgot something first. Firstly, here is a link to a pervious CE post of Lucy's, which in turn links to all the previous ones before it, that way you don't have to miss any of the subjects talked about through these posts, whether by me or Miss Lucy. Alright, now, where was I? Yes, that's right. Anyways, today, I am going to talk about the Catholic doctrine of purgatory. I was going to do Heaven, Hell and Purgatory in succession of each other, but I figured that Heaven and Hell are not just Catholically held, and are easy enough to understand the basic concept of without a post explaining. So, I am turning to purgatory.










Basic Theology


So, a good person dies. They were also a sinner (as all human beings are), though. Obviously, with sins still on their soul before they died, they are not perfect. And Heaven is for holiness and perfection. If you still have unaccounted-for sins on your soul when you die, then how are you to remedy it? Obviously you can't just pause dying for a moment, go to confession, and then continue. So there is another way to purify yourself. Purgatory is the place for the saved that are still in need of purification. First, before I go on, I must clarify this often-confused point: If you are in purgatory, you are saved. I repeat, if you are in purgatory, you are saved, and meant for Heaven. It is not an in-between place for the kind-of decent people, as some non-Catholics think. You are not there forever. It is a place of purification and preparation, to make you ready for Heaven. It is not Hell, it is not Heaven, but it is 'on the path' to Heaven. So, having that clarified, I'll continue.











Purification?

What exactly do I mean when I say purgatory is for purification? Purgatory is envisioned as a place of some suffering - suffering to make up for sins. But it is not the same sort of suffering as Hell. The greatest torture for the souls in purgatory is merely the fact that they are not yet with God. But they also have great joy. Great joy in that they are going to God. They will be with Him someday, and someday soon hopefully. So they joyfully bear their penances.










Why Is It Necessary?






Glad you asked! You see, every human being sins. We all know this very well. And we pray, offer small sacrifices, and go to confession to remedy this fact. But all the same, the fact remains. We sin again, and again, and again, but are still forgiven. The problem is, sometimes we don't atone for our sins well enough on our own. Sometimes we go to confession only for the necessary things, like mortal (greater) sins, leaving it to our own judgment to atone for venial (lesser) ones. Sometimes we forget to say sorry for a sin altogether, even though, in our hearts, we are sorry for it. So in such cases, we still haven't quite edged that sin out yet. We haven't quite made up for it. All of us do this at some point or other; it's a human flaw. But, when we die with such a trace of sin on our souls, we are not quite perfectly fit to enter Heaven yet. A saint once explained it this way: The flames of Hell are just the light of God seen by those with hearts of sin. Purgatory is the same. The light of God is seen as flame, because the people there have sin upon their souls. But they welcome the flame, because they know that it will become light for them as they are purified, and in Heaven, it is their greatest joy. In Hell, they only do not rejoice in the flame, because they rejected it, both as light and flame, and so they can never truly know its goodness. I think the exact summing-up quote was "The flames of Hell are just the light of God as seen by sinners", or something like that.











   How Are We Released From Purgatory?






Another good question. We are released from purgatory when our sins are fully atoned for. However, the souls in purgatory can have their suffering shortened by two things - suffering of their own on earth (basically, atoning for their sins in life), and prayer or suffering from fellows. I'll go into this second one a little more now. We on earth can pray for or offer little sacrifices for the holy souls in purgatory, to help them get to Heaven faster. Even just giving up that extra helping of desert, or staying home to help a sibling do school instead of going out with friends can help. Offering up sacrifices for the holy souls in purgatory is an amazing thing to do. Or even just doing a little something extra to offer up for them, like saying another rosary, or doing an add-on prayer for them before meals. Even just little things like these can help them get to Heaven faster. And it is definitely not thankless to do this for them. When you pray for them, and get them to Heaven, once they are in Heaven, they'll pray for you, and help you get to Heaven. You can ask their intercession if they are in Heaven, and just as they once needed yours, they'll give you their prayers. It really is one of the best things we can do to help a soul get to Heaven, and in this way we do just that.









Why Do We Believe In Purgatory?



Well, as any well-versed Bible reader will know, there is no direct mention of purgatory in the Bible. There are indirect mentions, though, that support the idea:


"... the work of each will come to light, for the Day will disclose it. it will be revealed with fire, and the fire [itself] will test the quality of each one's work" (1 Corinthians 3:13)


"... but if someone's work is burned up, that one will suffer loss; the person will be saved, but only as through fire" (1 Corinthians 3:15)


And ones supporting the prayers or sacrifices of those on earth for the sake of holy souls:


"Bear one another's burdens, and so you will fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2)


However, alongside Scripture, Sacred Tradition (which I may or may not talk a bit more about in relation to Scripture and the Magisterium later on) has always held this belief very strongly and directly. We have always believed in purification, whether on this earth or in the spiritual world. It's a necessary thing to make oneself holy, that is, if you want to get to Heaven (which, I'm sure, we all do!). If you are unclean, then how are you to get to Heaven? If you are sorry for your sins, but do nothing about or for this to make amends, then it is idle sorrow, without any reparation. I like to think of purgatory as the afterlife's confessional. You go and fully declare your sorrow for your sins, and do penance. Then, once you come out, your soul has been cleansed, and you may go on. But, the main basis, as I said, for believing in purgatory, is in Sacred Tradition. Passed down from the ages, disciple to disciple, receiving and giving an infallible truth. Thus we have this doctrine. We've always believed it, even before it was fully defined by the Magisterium (whom we may talk about in another post). Here are some Church father and scholar quotes on the matter:




"But also, when God will judge the just, it is likewise in fire that he will try them" (Lactantius, 307 A.D., Divine Institutes 7:21:6)




"Useful too is the prayer fashioned on their [the holy souls in purgatory] behalf..." (St. Epiphanius of Salamis, 375 A.D., Medicine Chest Against All Heresies 75:8)




"...In this present life he will purify himself of any evil contracted... If he have inclined to the irrational pressure of the passions, then he... finds that he is not able to partake of divinity until he has been purged of the filthy contagion in his soul by purifying fire" (St. Gregory of Nyssa, 382 A.D., Sermon On The Dead)




"Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them..." (St. John Chrystosom, 392 A.D., Homilies on 1 Corinthians 41:5)




And then, of course, a fragment of what the good old reliable Catechism Of The Catholic Church has to say:




"All who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of Heaven" (CCC, 1030)




Significance


The significance of purgatory to our daily lives is fairly easy to see. It is significant as a reminder of why we must not only strive to do our best spiritually, but also to make amends thoroughly for when we slipped and fell into sin again. It is relevant, because we should offer up all the little unpleasantnesses and sacrifices we have to make for those good souls that are there. We should pray for them and think of them much in our daily lives, lest we forget them in their needy state, a state which we also may be in one day. So pray for the poor souls, the souls alive in God, and not quite the whole journey travelled yet.



Summary


So, to sum up what I've already said, purgatory is the place of cleansing. It is where we go to 'get our ticket' into Heaven, so to speak. We are made fully holy there, and, while it is a place of suffering for purification, it is also a place of joy in that it is the last step on the road to Heaven. We may pray for the souls already there, that they can go to Heaven sooner, and they can pray for us when they finally arrive at their Heavenly goal. By doing this, we are helping more souls to Heaven than we can imagine - their vast number of souls, by praying for them; our own, by doing this holy thing and meriting their prayers; and the souls of those around us, by our example which they may follow. So, really, while it is one of the most overlooked Catholic doctrines, it is really one of the most beautiful! I'm sure we all hope that one day, we can make it there, and on to the Heavenly gates beyond it.



So, there's my first Catholicism Explained post. What did you think? Did I do alright? Did I measure up to even half of Miss Agnes's skill at it? Have you any comments or questions concerning the subject matter? I welcome all debating, so long as it's civil, and well-meant. Let's talk! :)