November 18th, 2014
Today marks almost 2 weeks since my time of grief began. I last wrote about this on the 9th in a post titled A Double Dose Of Grief, and so this is an update.
In short, I am still grieving, but now a new grief has been added to it. You see, we attended the funeral today of Vernon Lee Brooks III, who is the brother of one of Leighton’s best friends, Jared Brooks.
Vernon was only 25, Jared is just a year younger, and the two were very close.
For me, two of my own brothers have died, but each one was old enough to be my uncle. And one of them, James, had four children of his own before I was even born.
Despite the age difference, their deaths were still very hard and I think about them often. I can only imagine what Jared is going through—even with the peace that comes from the assurance of Vernon’s salvation—and our family is praying for him.
Of my original two griefs, one of them I was not able to write about out of respect for my son and daughter-in-law while they grieved in private. The time for that has passed, and now Hannah has shared publicly in a blog post that they lost their daughter in a miscarriage.
And now we have learned her name … Khava Grace … our first granddaughter, whom we will now only meet in heaven.
Here are three excerpts of what Hannah wrote:
Three weeks ago I was pregnant. I was excited. I was nesting and daydreaming about what the coming months would hold. I would hold my tummy and talk to the child inside. My husband Leighton and I had picked out names and a nursery theme. And.. even though that baby wasn’t in our plan, it was in God’s and we loved that baby.
… Losing the baby taught me that life is short. It taught me that anything God creates, He can take away. It’s up to Him. This earth and this life are incredibly temporary and it is the next life that we should be concerned with. It’s the next life that counts for anything. Losing the baby allowed me to see God’s grace in a way I never had before. There’s something about having the body of someone who is now with Jesus… inside of you.
… I take comfort in the thought that my baby is up in heaven playing with all it’s little cousins that were miscarried. It’s not alone. My baby is with Jesus. My baby was a gift from the Creator and has gone back to live with Him. My baby’s life was lived for the sake of glorifying Christ… and for that I am thankful.
And so now you understand my grief. I shaved for the first time in many years because Leighton shaved. His goal was to grow his beard out until the baby was born, and what a beard he had! When they found out the baby had died, he shaved, and I joined with him out of solidarity.
And so even though we smile, and even when Jared smiles … we grieve .. and we live … and we laugh … and we praise … and we trust … and we grieve again. Isn’t life mixed up like that?
May the Lord comfort Jared, and may He comfort Leighton and Hannah.
November 9th, 2014
I shaved this week for the first time in many years … the modern version, I suppose, of pulling out one’s beard. You see this was a week to grieve doubly … once for the two year anniversary of my mother’s death on November 6th, and before that for a reason that I’m not yet at liberty to share.
Needless to say, there has been weeping and sadness hanging over our family this week. As part of that, I’d like to share two things …
- The lyrics of a Fernando Ortego song.
- A small booklet I put together for my mother’s funeral, now newly formatted in a PDF so it can be shared digitally.
For family and friends, both near and far, it would be my hope that you would find some joy in the reading of this booklet as it celebrates the very unique and special life of my mother.
The Fernando Ortego song is about his own mother, and has been dear to me for many, many years because I lived two states away from mine and feared that I would not be present when she passed away.
Sadly, this fear was realized when she died before my plane flight. Still, we did have one final phone call, and I am satisfied that we said all that needed to be said.
The Breaking Of The Dawn
There’s a slow train
Pulling through the desert
The colored cars pass quietly from sight
Between the highway and the long horizon
Precious dreams wind away with the light.
My brother’s and my sisters’ faces linger
The hours of our childhood, grave and gold
Driving through these solitary places
Memories of their gentile kinship
Touch my soul
The hawk wheels away as we pass here
The clouds billow up and fly on
Down the road some hard turns
Are going to shake us
Ride with us
Through the breaking of the dawn
I worry for my loving mother
The dimming years,
The trials she has known
Her heart so kind and so weary
Keep her safe one more night
’til I get home
How I long to be right there beside her
And bring everything back to before
We’ll arrive with the first light of morning
Keep her safe, let me hold her once more
The sage and Joshua tree remind me
Of the miles to go,
The journey that we’re on
In the still, sweet air of the desert
We will ride
Through the breaking of the dawn
If you’d like to hear Fernando sing the song, as only he can in his beautifully melodic, peaceful way, look no further than:
October 27th, 2014
It has FINALLY come to pass … someone has WON THEIR VERY OWN EXCALIBUR with the hilt and pommel hand-made by the author!
The official results for both CONTEST #3 and the GRAND PRIZE CONTEST are given below.
Breanna, with 14,400 points!
This wins either a Kindle Fire HD 7”, a sewing machine, or a dremel tool kit.
Brittany, with 7,200 points!
This wins an iPod Shuffle!
Rebekah Gyger, Deborah O’Carroll, Ben Dillon, Stephanie Tullis, and Jennette Mbewe
Note: Rebekah would have won 2nd place with 12,200 points, but she had won 2nd place in Contest #2, and so was disbarred from winning the same prize in Contest #3.
THE GRAND PRIZE !!!!!!!!!!
BREANNA!! With 36,600 points over 3 contests!
This wins her very own EXCALIBUR with the hilt and pommel hand-made by the author !!
Rebekah Gyger! With 34,400 points.
Now Rebekah has worked very hard in the contests, and she came VERY close to winning Excalibur. As a thanks to her I am going to give a not previously announced prize of her very own Kindle Fire HD 7” !!
So … CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL THE WINNERS!
And thank you one and all who were part of the contests!
With much appreciation,
p.s. And plans are already in the works for a NEW SET OF CONTESTS for the upcoming PENDRAGON SPIRAL!
October 5th, 2014
Yes, Merlin’s Blade has won the silver medal in the 2014 MOONBEAM AWARD for young adult fantasy/sci-fi fiction
It is a great honor to have this vote of confidence given to a debut novelist, and I am blessed to have received it.
Their website says the following:
Creating books that inspire our children to read, to learn, and to dream is an extremely important task, and these awards were conceived to reward those efforts. Each year’s entries are judged by expert panels of youth educators, librarians, booksellers, and book reviewers of all ages. Award recipients receive gold, silver and bronze medals and stickers depicting a mother and child reading and silhouetted by a full moon.
Not only that, but this is the second award for Merlin’s Blade, having won the Grace Award this last May.
Here is an image of the cover with the two seals:
August 27th, 2014
Okay folks, for day 2 of the CSFF Blog Tour, and as promised, here are the photos of me making the prizes for contest #2 — MERLIN’S SHADOW:
This is my Excalibur hilt mold I made specifically for pewter casting jewelry pieces. I also made a mold of the pommel, and with these molds I can cast in three different sizes.
And here’s one of the wooden plugs I made to press the pewter into the mold. If you don’t want to buy silicone to make your own molds, you can carve the whole mold out of wood or clay.
Here’s the pewter melting in a cast-iron skillet in the kiln.
Notice that the kiln only needs to get slightly over 500 degrees to melt pewter. I could do it in an old toaster oven, but my kiln has better temperature control.
Here’s my first pour. Notice the wooden plugs press the extra pewter out. I cut these scraps off and just throw them back in the kiln.
The pewter has cooled. Silicone can handle pewter temps, but it could never handle bronze, which has to heat up to 1800 degrees Fahrenheit. For that I have to use the lost-wax process.
These are my first three finished pieces. Lots of work still to do!
Here I making the smallest pieces using the tips of the guard.
The finished pieces!
All the flanges have been cut off, the edges sanded, and the centers finished as well. Notice the three different sizes. Each piece has imperfections, but this only adds to their specialness … no two are alike!
A close-up of the largest piece and it’s integrated triple-spiral Triskelion.
Now I’ve hot-glued them all to the bottom of a plastic tub. This is to allow me to pour red epoxy resin in the centers.
Now I’ve blackened the pewter around the triple spiral. This will allow it to stand out once the red resin is poured in.
I’m measuring out the resin and the hardener. Notice the red dye, soon to be added.
The red dye has been added … it took quite a lot of drops to make it dark.
The pouring had to be done very carefully!
The pour is complete!
A close-up of the triskelion … my Merlin Spiral!
And here’s the finished jewelry pieces. The largest were too heavy to make into a necklace (oh well!), but they are really cool! My daughter, Ness, put the chains on the others.
These prizes go to the 7 top winners of the MERLIN’S SHADOW contest! Expect them in the mail soon!
- Stephanie Tullis — Large piece with The Merlin Spiral logo, as well as a Kindle Fire HD
- Rebekah Gyger — Large piece with The Merlin Spiral logo, as well as a iPod Shuffle
- Breanna — Medium Necklace
- Brittany — Medium Necklace
- Deborah O’Carroll — Small Necklace
- Hannah Troupe — Small Necklace
- Sophie Loban — Small Necklace
As well … I will soon have a limited number of these pieces for sale, so check back soon!
August 25th, 2014
Welcome to the first day of the CSFF Blog Tour, covering none other than the third novel in my series, MERLIN’S NIGHTMARE!
Now, since I’m the author, I’m going to use day #1 to announce the opening of my THIRD CONTEST! And with the close of this contest on October 25th, we will also know the GRAND PRIZE WINNER.
All three contests entail over $750 in prizes, including three 7″ Kindle Fire HDs, with a $1000 Excalibur sword for the GRAND PRIZE!
And Excalibur’s guard and pommel will be bronze-cast by the author himself! And the scabbard? Hand-made as well.
The winners of the SECOND CONTEST? Here they are:
- Stephanie Tullis — wins a KINDLE FIRE HD
- Rebekah Gyger — wins an iPod Shuffle
- Deborah O’Carroll
- Hannah Troupe
- Sophie Loban
And everyone on the list wins a SECRET ITEM HANDMADE by the author … so tune in for day 2 to find out what that prize is, along with photos!
Now, if you haven’t joined the contest yet, it’s not too late. The grand prize will go to the person with the highest point total, and that means that contest #1 and contest #2 are still open to you to gain points … even if the prizes for those contest are still open, so the field is WIDE OPEN still if you have enough gumption.
To join the contest just go to the website for The Merlin Spiral at the following web page:
And make sure you visit the other tour participants:
July 24th, 2014
It is with great pleasure and also pain that I introduce this month’s CSFF Blog Tour book: THE WARDEN AND THE WOLF KING by that renaissance man, Andrew Peterson.
Pleasure because Andrew’s writing, as well as music, is just so, so, so awesome.
Pain because, sadly, I haven’t had the time to finish the novel! This is one of the rarest of rare times when I don’t have a novel read for a blog tour.
But alas, my son and daughter-in-law had a wonderful, beautiful, God-honoring wedding three weeks ago, and my energy is only now recovering…
So here’s a little promo for the book, starting with the back cover copy:
The Warden and the Wolf King
All winter long, people in the Green Hollows have prepared for a final battle with Gnag the Nameless and the Fangs of Dang. Janner, Kalmar, and Leeli–Throne Warden, Wolf King, and Song Maiden of Anniera–are ready and willing to fight alongside the Hollowsfolk, but when the Fangs make the first move and invade Ban Rona, the children are separated. Janner is alone and lost in the hills; Leeli is fighting the Fangs from the rooftops of the city; and Kalmar, who carries a terrible secret, is on a course for the Deeps of Throg. Meanwhile in Skree, Sara Cobbler and Maraly Weaver care for the broken Artham Wingfeather as Fangs muster for battle across the Mighty River Blapp.
Sea dragons lurks in the waters. Wicked Stranders crawl through the burrows. Ridgerunners and trolls prowl the land. Cloven haunt the forest. Monsters and Fangs and villains lie between the children and their only hope of victory–in the epic conclusion of The Wingfeather Saga.
My Opinion Of This Series:
Even though I haven’t finished this book, my true and honest opinion of Andrew Peterson’s Wingfeather Saga is that it will be looked back upon as classic literature of our era.
Andrew has really created something special here, and if my prediction is wrong, it will only be because of the glut of books being published in our era.
And also, I must correct something I said in my review of his third novel (The Monster In The Hollows): I called Andrew a songwriter. What I should have said is that Andrew is an Album writer.
While he does write songs, he does them as a group with the purpose of crafting an entire album with chris-crossing themes. Anyway, I learned this distinction from an interview of his, and thought I’d share it.
What does that have to do with his books? Everything. You see, Andrew approaches his writing the same way … with intricately interwoven themes and powerful conclusions to each of his albums.
And it is with that understanding that I can wholeheartedly recommend THE WARDEN AND THE WOLF KING, the conclusion of the Wingfeather Saga. Andrew has saved the best for last, and you can count on that.
As well, for those who haven’t listened to it, there is an excellent interview (both written and audio) with Andrew over at World Magazine. Check it out by clicking here. (Note that a subscription is probably required.)
You can expect a full review when I have the book finished. Until then, make sure you go and purchase Andrew’s awesome novels!
The Other Tour Participants
February 24th, 2014
Come one! Come all!
Over $750 in prizes, including a 7″ Kindle Fire HD, spread over THREE contests, with a $1000 Excalibur sword for the GRAND PRIZE!
And Excalibur’s guard and pommel will be bronze-cast by the author himself! And the scabbard? Hand-made as well!