Monday, February 23, 2015

A Very Large Squirrel

Do you ever have one of those mornings, evenings, days--or maybe longer--where you feel like you're just spinning your wheels? 

You're trying to go through the semi-routine that you have established for this part of the week, but new things keep cropping up? 

Naturally, (almost) all the technology chooses this time to malfunction.  Those little bits of important information you never wrote down come back to bite you. 

Like a squirrel biting a thrice-frozen crab apple.

And you find yourself wondering:  How have I ever gotten anything done in my whole life?  

But you have before, so it's a good bet that you will do something, someday, again, other than fumble with technology and drop things and forget things and post cop-out blog posts full of totally random squirrel pictures. 

Blogger Tricks

Monday, February 9, 2015

Guest Post by Arena the Roommate

Hello Friends of "The Feather and the Rose"! 

My name is Arena the Roommate.  Susan and Tyler-Rose are currently both inundated by work, and I have offered to fill in for this Monday blog post.  They obviously trust me a lot, because I am not exactly a skillful writer.  In fact, the last thing that I wrote that was not a research paper or an essay was a very depressing short story about cancer which was written in French when I was in Tours, France for a summer study abroad in 2013; I was very jet-lagged.  Prior to that short story, I think I wrote a short story for my 7th grade English teacher about slumber parties. 

While in Tours, France, you must go see all the cool chateaux.  This is a front view (non-bridge view) of Chateau, Chenonceau.

You may ask why I haven't written non-factual/opinion papers in such a long time.  The truth? I am not a writer.  Nor am I interested in writing.  In fact, I am a Math/Economics/French triple major.  I do not share any majors with Susan, Tyler-Rose, or Katie the Roommate*, so it seems a little surprising that we've all become such good friends.  However, we all seem to balance each other out.  Part of why this is, is that we all have different schedules for life.  After I graduate in May, I will be working for an insurance company as an actuarial assistant with the end goal of becoming an actuarial fellow**.  Thus, I have more free time this semester, while my roommates are continuously working on projects and job prospects. 

Now that I've talked about myself for multiple paragraphs, I will talk about what I've been meaning to talk about, which is... 

Time and the Necessity of Doing. 

You may ask what I mean when I say the "Necessity of Doing".  I'm talking about having to do something because there is no other option.  I experience this best in the actuarial exam process.  To become an actuarial fellow, I have to take twelve long, arduous exams.  I've passed one, and I hopefully will pass the second at the end of February.  The process of taking exams isn't very fun; they're expensive and difficult.  I've been studying for this exam since June.  However, I know that I MUST pass this exam, or I will get fired from my job before I even begin it.  If one can't pass his exams at fairly regular intervals, he will not get raises or promotions, which means he will get fired.  For me, it's also something that I must do as I feel it is what I'm meant to do, just as Tyler-Rose and Susan feel they must write. 

It's been important to recognize that things must be done, and that things will be done, whether you believe it's possible or not.  While sometimes the timeline for these things isn't as you expect, they will be completed.  In reality, everything is going to be alright.  If they're not alright, they will be.^

This probably all seems cryptic, but I've adopted it as my guide, and I'd venture to say that I'm the least stressed of my friends with the least amount of panic attacks.  Many people are amazed at how calm I am with so much on my plate, but I've managed to triple major without a time-turner and without going crazy.  If you can adopt the right mindset, you can do anything, because you have to.  If you don't have to do something, then why do it? 


*See Katie the Roommate's posts here.   And here. 

**What's an actuary, you ask?  See here. 

^My dad has a penchant for reggae music, so perhaps I listened to this# so often in my childhood, that it has pervaded my life. 


Monday, February 2, 2015

Cover Reveal: The Surrogate Sea

HEAR YE! HEAR YE! It is time for another wonderful Wilderhark Tales novella to make its glorious debut into the world. It is our pleasure to help our friend Danielle E. Shipley of Ever on Word proclaim the glory of her forthcoming fantastical lark.

And OH MY GOD is the cover art gorgeous.

Without further ado . . .

The Sea’s storm brought them together, and the Sea’s rules will keep them apart, unless the mute but melodious Muirigan can find another to take her place, freeing her to pursue the human man she loves. But when her plan collides with the schemes of the sly South Wind, a princess’s agenda to look for love in all the most fantastic places, and a prince whose head and heart have been long years at war, the result is a tragedy of errors from which the world might never recover.

The Surrogate Sea (Book Six of The Wilderhark Tales)

<> ~ <> ~ <>

An enchantress’s curse turns a spoiled royal into a beast; a princess’s pricked finger places her under a hundred-year spell; bales of straw are spun as golden as the singing harp whisked down a giant beanstalk – all within sight of Wilderhark, the forest that’s seen it all.

You’ve heard the stories – of young men scaling rope-like braids to assist the tower-bound damsel; of gorgeous gowns appearing just in time for a midnight ball; of frog princes, and swan princes, and princes saved from drowning by maidens of the sea. Tales of magic. Tales of adventure. Most of all, tales of true love.

Once upon a time, you knew them as fairytales. Know them now as Wilderhark's.

It will be available on March 24th on Amazon, but if the stunningly lovely cover art has inspired you, you can add it to your Goodreads TBR list right this very second.  

Congratulations, Danielle! I can't wait to read it :)

About the Author: 
Danielle E. Shipley's first novelettes told the everyday misadventures of wacky kids like herself. ...Or so she thought. Unbeknownst to them all, half of her characters were actually closeted elves, dwarves, fairies, or some combination thereof.

When it all came to light, Danielle did the sensible thing: Packed up and moved to Fantasy Land, where daily rent is the low, low price of her heart, soul, blood, sweat, tears, firstborn child, sanity, and words; lots of them. She's also been known to spend short bursts of time in the real-life Chicago area with the parents who home schooled her and the two little sisters who keep her humble.

When she's not living the highs and lows of writing, publishing, and all that authorial jazz, she's probably blogging about it at

Monday, January 26, 2015

Memorizing Poetry

I was in a class recently where the professor spent a long time defending the part of her syllabus that required us to memorize (quite a few lines of) poetry. 

This was a totally unnecessary argument to make to me.  I think it is quite obvious that memorizing beautiful poetry is good for your soul, and that it would be a very good thing if more people were reviving this educational practice that has somewhat died out in recent years. 

I may also have been gifted at birth with a pretty decent ability to memorize poetry, and so don't mind doing it. 

She did say something neat in the process, though:  She said that the poetry you memorize is like the paintings hung on the walls inside your mind.  It's what's always there. 

So, here are a few things that hang on the walls of my mind.  Some are in progress.  Some are new to me.  Some are old. 

"Aspecta Medusa" by Dante Gabriel Rosetti
Andromeda, by Perseus sav'd and wed,
Hanker'd each day to see the Gorgon's head,
'Til o'er a fount he held it, bade her lean,
And mirror'd in the wave was safely seen
That death she lived by. 
                                         Let not thine eyes know
Any forbidden thing itself, although
It once should save as well as kill, but be
Its shadow upon life enough for thee. 
(The beginning of) Petrarch Sonnet 150
"Che fai, alma?  Che pensi?  Avrem mai pace?
Avrem mai tregua?  Od avrem guerra eterna?" 
The first stanza of Dante's Commedia
Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita
Mi ritrovai per una selva oscura
Che la diritta era smaritta. 
one of William Shakespeare's songs
O mistress mine, where are you going?
Stay and hear, your true love's coming
That can sing both high and low. 
Trip no further, pretty sweeting. 
Journeys end in lovers' meeting,
Every wise man's son doth know. 
What is love?  'Tis not hereafter. 
Present mirth hath present laughter. 
What's to come is still unsure. 
In delay there lies no plenty. 
Then come kiss me, sweet and twenty. 
Youth's not such as shall endure. 
Sonnet 116, also by William Shakespeare
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments.  Love is not love
That alters when it alteration finds
Or bends with the remover to remove. 
Oh, no, it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken. 
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Who's worth's unknown, although his height be taken. 
Love's not time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come. 
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out, e'en to the edge of doom. 
If this be error and upon me proved,
Then I never writ, nor no man ever loved. 

And just writing down these has made me think of a bunch more that I wish I had!

What does the inside of your mind look like?  Bare walls?  Hang something.  Make it beautiful.  Make it true.  Pick things you want to keep forever. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Ghost Pictures

I can hardly believe that this is the Feather and the Rose's last semester in college. Susan and I are wrapping up our various majors and minors so that we can graduate in May like we're supposed to. I am both unbelievably excited and seriously terrified. This may get worse as the Day Itself draws near.

To finish out my Graphic Design minor which I've mentioned in previous posts, I'm taking a Digital Photography class. Because of this, I have recently acquired a fancy camera that captures more pixels than I ever knew I wanted.

To be honest, I was sort of nonplussed about having to buy such an expensive piece of equipment for ONE class. Especially when the professor warned us that the pictures we take on our phones will probably look better than the ones we take on our new cameras for at least a few weeks if not a month or more. How encouraging.

I was fairly wary of it and rather timid in my picture-taking the first few days, but now I've had it for almost a week and I think you might have to pry it out of my cold, dead fingers if you want to get it away from me.

I've had rather a lot of fun playing with different shutter speeds and aperture openings to get different cool effects. Turns out, if you make the aperture small enough, leave the shutter open long enough, and either have a timer or are pretty light on your feet, you can take ghost pictures.


I got up about a half hour before sun rise and had fun moving our living room furniture all around as quietly as possible so I wouldn't wake up my sleeping suite-mates. I think all three of these were taken with my camera balanced precariously on top of the Oxford Latin Dictionary and a stack of magazines consisting mostly of old issues of RealSimple, Cosmo, and Esquire.

I think I need a tripod.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Shenanigans with the Original "Hamlet"

So, I really need to be working on my senior thesis right now.  I'm writing a commentary of the original "Hamlet" story, which was written down in Latin in the middle ages by a funny man named Saxo Grammaticus.

Yes, you heard that right.  Things written in Latin can be funny. 

So, in an effort both to entertain and to warm myself up for an evening of work on this thing, I present to you:

What Shakespeare Didn't Tell You:  The Original "Hamlet" and His Original Shenanigans

1. In which Hamlet keeps people from detecting his sanity and also inspires an Old Spice commercial:  "Having been ordered to mount his horse, he arranged himself with cunning, so that his own back was turned to the horse's neck, and so that he was facing its tail.  He then proceeded to encircle the tail with the reins, as if he were going to check the speed of the rushing horse with that part. In this exceedingly clever way he evaded his uncle's tricks." 

2.  In which the Horatio-character harnesses the full potential of stinging insects:  "(In an attempt to warn Hamlet that he is being spied upon) he found a piece of straw on the ground and carefully tied it to the tail of a wasp that was flying past.  Then he herded that particular wasp into the place where he knew Hamlet was.  And by this feat he did the prince a great favor.... When Hamlet saw the wasp and the piece of straw it carried on its tail, having watched it with curiosity, he understood that it was a silent warning to beware of some trickery." 

3.  In which Hamlet is kind enough to cook Polonius before feeding him to the pigs:  "After cutting the body up into little parts, he cooked it in boiling water, and tossed them through the mouth of the sewer for the pigs to eat." 

4. In which we learn about a mysterious Danish mourning ritual:  "When he was leaving, he secretly ordered his mother to decorate the court with woven knots, and to carry out funerary rites for him for a year."  (What????) 

5.  In which Hamlet is an enterprising little trickster:  "Not content to escape execution himself and transfer the death sentence onto others, he added to the letter a request that the king of England marry his daughter to the exceedingly sensible youth who was being sent to him." 

6.  Did I mention that Hamlet's daddy was a pirate?  No word yet on whether this is as interesting as it sounds or if it's simply the case that everybody who was anybody in Scandanavia at this time was into piracy.


7.  In which Hamlet fills some sticks with gold for No Discernible Reason.   

8.  In which Hamlet gets half the nobles of Denmark to fall into a drunken stupor, ties up the other half in a blanket, locks them all inside the castle, and burns them alive.

And many more, but now it's time for me to go try my hand at elucidating this crazy tale.  Wish me luck! 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Mostly Chickens

Sorry I missed yesterday, but the last two weeks have actually been spent having terrible, terrible, TERRIBLE* computer trouble. In fact, this blog post was written on my mom's computer which I am borrowing until she gets home from work. Needless to say, not much novel has been done since the file is on a little portable hard drive which I am keeping in a deep box of packing peanuts behind bullet-proof glass.

I have been reading a lot though and have had a glorious time writing journal entries in the beautiful empty books I received for Christmas.**

I do have a little belated Christmas present for you all today, though. My uncle showed this to me when we were at my mother's family for Christmas festivities and I laughed so hard my abs were sore the next day. It's a Monty Python Skit which explores the idea of novel writing as a spectator sport. Oh, my goodness, am I glad this isn't how it really works. Enjoy!


* So terrible, I gave up and returned it. If you're looking out for a new computer, I would encourage you not to get an HP. Both Susan and I have had a wretched time recently with new HP computers not working properly and then, to top it off, their customer service is quite awful.

** If this was a homesteading blog instead of a writing blog, this would have been an extra long blog post. A raccoon got into our chicken coop a couple of times over the last week and ate four of our laying hens. This terrified the remaining six so badly that they started refusing to go back in the coop at night and instead were hiding in bizarre places.

I had to go out and find each of them and carry them individually back to their coop. I didn't let them out for several days hoping to solve the problem, and they seem to be back to normal as far as coming back. However, they have decided they want to sleep in their nesting boxes not on their roost, which means that I've been going out to personally remove them from their nesting boxes and set them on their roost.^

This is Speckled Chicken #2 trying to roost
in our orange tree.

Red Chicken decided the only place to be was in the rafters of the shed.
My brother had to stand on a garbage can to get her down.

^This is actually harder than it sounds because chickens are some of the most oddly political animals we have ever kept. It's called a "pecking order" for a reason. The first night I put them on what I would later learn was the Wrong Roost, facing the Wrong Direction, in the Wrong Order.

There was fighting. Someone lost a couple of tail feathers. Someone else got shoved off the end of the roost and ended up in an inelegant heap on the coop floor.

After a few nights, though, I figured it out and last night everyone was quiet as could be and settled down right away.

Would you like to know the Perfect Chicken Order since I now have it memorized? Never mind, I'm telling you anyway. It goes like this: Red Chicken, Blond Chicken, Wimpy Chicken, Speckled Chicken #1, Speckled Chicken #2, and Mrs. Bennet on the end.