I don't get the computer much on the weekends. We only have one desktop (so I have to share it with the Boy and the Husband) and the app doesn't work too well on the iPad, so I'll be combining weekends into one blog post on Monday, then going on to Monday's WIPJoy.
Tell you about me, huh? Fortunately, most of you will be reading this directly on my website, so it will be easy to figure out. :-D I don't even need to include links to my other books, because they are around here somewhere, depending on the device you are using to view this.
I have been writing since the fifth grade. I still have the quick, two-page, hand-written story that my teacher picked out as the best and helped me think, "Maybe I got what it takes." I pull it out every once in a while when I am doing a presentation to my son's class to show them that even though their stories right now may not be the best, if writing is what they want to do -- even if it is hard, and it is still hard for me -- they can take what they are learning now and use it later in life.
I have seven novels for all ages and three story prompt books. Four of the books are collaborations with my son, the other six are completely mine. Right now, my time is mostly taken up by our Story Prompts for Kids books. I want to have all 10 out by my birthday in April so we can do a "boxed set" for Teacher Appreciation Week.
Buffy's best friend is Red, a member of the Umatilla tribe. Agent Jiro asks her at the beginning of their relationship, "Isn't calling [a member of a Native American tribe] Red offensive?" Buffy explains that her name in Sahaptin, the language of the Umtilla, means "Red Hawk." Since "Red" is much easier to pronounce than her actual name, Buffy and other friends are able to shorten her name.
Red is feisty. She takes great pride in making people try to pronounce her Sahaptin name, especially the ignorant white folks who come to Wild Horse Casino for their gambling fix. She is about ten years older than Buffy, and a cousin of Buffy's late husband, but that hasn't hurt their friendship. Red was the first that Buffy called when the urn containing her husband's ashes was dropped off at her doorstep, and Red was the one who inserted Buffy into the investigation of a suspicious death on the Reservation.
Nearly a month after the flood, after seeing Peter everywhere every day, Isabel was surprised to hear him volunteer to go foraging with her. Over the past month, she had been busy. Her brother insisted that, as part of Peter’s wages, she provide him with the fattest fish she could find on her adventures in the woods. She had been feeding his family of four all this time without anything to show for it.
Peter, of course, was always very gracious when he took the fish, and yes, he had kept his promise not to tell anyone of her abilities, but that was it. Would she really be putting in all of this work for the foreseeable future for nothing more than his silence? While his silence kept her from the stake, was it truly worth it?
When Peter asked to come with her that morning, though, Isabel knew that, finally, they would be able to talk freely without the worry of anyone overhearing. She had questions she needed answering, and he always seemed to have something he wanted to say to her.
Their foraging took them through back trails Isabel had never been through before, very deep into the forest where, according to her uncle, witches dwelled. Peter, armed with a bow, was constantly on the lookout for game as well as danger.
Isabel did her best to keep her eyes on the ground to look for wild plants the apothecary would eagerly trade for. Jacob had come down with a stomach illness and they needed to be able to purchase some medicine for him. Their father, unfortunately, had been reminded of the anniversary of their mother’s death, and had spent every coin he could find in the house on a three-day ale binge. If it was not for Edmund and Isabel, the children would be starving as well as sick.
Keeping her eyes on the ground, though, was difficult. Isabel had never noticed before how handsome and well-built Peter was. His brown hair and eyes and his quick and playful smile made it hard for Isabel to concentrate on anything else. She wasn’t the only one, she was happy to discover. More often than not, when she looked up at him, he was already looking at her.
The dark forest gave them no indication of the time until they came to a small meadow. A break in the trees told Isabel that it was close to mid-day. A small brook ran through the meadow.
“I will build a fire if you want to catch us some fish,” Peter said.
Isabel pursed her lips. What did he know about her? Had Edmund been talking about her abilities?
“I did not bring my fishing gear,” she said. She did not bother to mention that her fishing gear only consisted of a bag to carry the fish.
“I am sure you will figure something out,” Peter said with a smile. “You’re resourceful.” He looked away before adding, rather nervously. “As am I.”
Now what did he mean by that? Isabel thought to herself as she walked to the brook. Was he like her? No, he could not have been like her, otherwise he would not have stayed on the bank when Mary fell in the river. He would have simply gone in after her. Perhaps he was similar, but with a different ability. Did God grant different abilities, or was Peter touched by the Devil same way she had been touched by God?
She quickly found and coaxed a few chub into her hands and pulled them out of the water, thanking them in the process. When she first realized she could control, or at least persuade, aquatic life to do what she wanted, she felt guilty for coaxing them into her bag just so they would be eaten. Her mother, however, had been extremely helpful in helping her realize that her method was much easier on the fish than catching them unwillingly with a hook or a net.
Peter had the fire burning hot when she brought him the fish, which he spitted and began cooking immediately.
“Will you not sit down so we can speak?” he asked. It was only then that she noticed she had been standing apart, ready to run at a moment’s notice.
“Of course,” she said, sitting down hesitantly.
“Are you finding everything you need?” he asked, starting the conversation light.
“I believe so,” Isabel told him. “I will look around the meadow after we eat to see if there is something else that may be of use, but I think we have everything that the apothecary asked for.” In fact, she was surprised that she had been able to find everything so quickly. It was as if Peter knew exactly which path to take that would allow them to collect everything they needed in a timely fashion.
Peter nodded. “Isabel, shall we talk about that day? We have been avoiding it for too long, do you not agree?”
“What day?” she asked innocently.
“There is no one here to overhear our conversation, we can speak freely,” he assured her. “If you are too frightened to say anything, I will go first.”
Peter, looking into the fire, sighed. “As I said before, I am … resourceful as well. My gifting is slightly different than yours, however. God has seen fit to give you the ability to swim with—and like—the fishes. I have been given the gift of insight. I hear the Most High’s voice in my head telling me where to go, what to do, who will be the best person to work for,” he looked at her, “and who I should spend my life with.”
Isabel was taken aback. “What?”
“We are to be married,” Peter said with conviction. “I have seen it. God has spoken. Not yet, not now, but some day, when you are ready. We both have brothers and sisters who need us, and we cannot leave them yet, but one day we will and we will be together all of my life.”
“How…” Isabel started, but then stopped.
“I have heard the voice of God,” Peter said with a shrug of his shoulders.
“If Father Gerard heard you speaking that way, he would have you burned as a witch.”
“If he knew you could speak to fishes and swim a raging torrent as if it was the duck pond behind your house he would have you burned as well,” Peter pointed out. He removed the fish from the fire and handed the skewer to Isabel. “In another time, I may have been called a prophet.” He sighed. “But not now. Now, we must hide who we are if we are to use the gifts the Lord has seen fit to give us.”
“I do not know what to say,” Isabel told him, taking the skewer and pulling off bits of flesh and burnt skin.
“There is nothing to say yet,” he said, pulling his legs up to his body. “I simply needed to tell you that you are not alone, and you will not be alone as long as I am alive. I ask, though, that if I should ever come to you and ask you to run with me, that you do so.”
Isabel thought back to the prayer she had repeated the whole month—that she would have foreknowledge of any evil her superstitious uncle had in mind for her. Was this the answer the Holy One had sent her? Peter? The badger’s boy?
“Our families will not approve of this union,” she said with the slightest hint of a grin.
Peter grinned. “There is talk of a play performed in London about just such a couple.”
“You would compare us to Romeo and Juliet?” Isabel asked with raised eyebrows. She looked at Peter’s playful, mischievous brown eyes and knew then that she could easily look at them for the rest of her life. “Are you suggesting we marry now, in secret, as they did in the play?”
“No, no,” Peter said. “With as much scrutiny as is on our two families at this time, I think waiting would be best. And we do not have the money as yet to set up our own household. Honestly, Isabel, I do not yet know that we will live here. We may need to fly from the village in the dark hours of night in order to save ourselves. No, we must wait to marry. But we can use this time of uncertainty to learn more about each other and our abilities.”
A week after the flood crested, the river had receded enough to begin cleaning up. All of the men of the village and quite a few of the women collected the fallen trees and branches—most of which would be put to use in fires and repairing buildings damaged in the rain. Stones were collected to begin rebuilding the mill and bridge across the small river. The now-slow-moving current allowed anyone to swim across, and in places even wade through, helping the villagers reconnect with their friends and family on the other side of the river.
For Isabel, though, life was the same as ever. She and 3-year-old Sophia were busy every day in the neighboring forest collecting food to supplement Edmund’s income. Everything their father made went to the local alehouse keeper, so Isabel did what she could to supplement the family’s income, selling the eggs and fish she and Sophia collected that they didn’t need to feed the family of five. If she had wanted to, Isabel could have called all of the fish in the river and driven them into town to sell, and was tempted to do just every once in a while. She knew, however, that would not help her convince her uncle she was not a witch.
That week after the flood, Isabel and Sophia spent more time in the forest than usual, trying to stay away from the public eye. One of these days, she knew, Peter would begin telling everyone what he had seen her do, and then her life would be forfeit. She only prayed that she would have enough foreknowledge to be able to flee the village before her uncle came to collect her.
Isabel and Sophia were returning to the village one late afternoon with a collection of fish, eggs, herbs, and other assorted foodstuffs when a stranger stepped out of the underbrush onto the path in front of them.
Isabel pushed her little sister behind her and stood ready to defend her little sister if necessary.
“What do you want?” she asked, perhaps a little more harshly than she had intended.
“To thank you for saving my sister,” Peter said, his brown eyes locked on hers. There was an emotion there that Isabel could not read.
“I… I do not know what you are talking about,” Isabel stammered.
“Do not worry,” he said, holding up his hand. “I simply wanted to assure you that I will not tell anyone about what you did and Mary is still too emotional to remember much. Your secret is safe.”
Isabel had no idea how to take this new information. Why would the badger’s boy, who did the odd jobs around the village his father refused to, help her in any way? Especially after what happened between their families.
Peter and Mary’s father had once sold her father a few rare supplies he needed to finish a dress for a noblewoman, but then claimed to the magisters that the tailor shortchanged him. The local solicitor and mayor heard the case and ruled in the favor of Isabel’s father, and the badger had never let anyone forget it. After a time, the badger was told to stay only on his side of the river, and was never to return to Isabel’s side.
“Why?” was the only thing she could think to ask. “Why are you doing this?”
“Why are you even asking? You saved my sister’s life,” Peter said, taking a hesitant step toward her. “You are amazing.”
Isabel looked over her shoulder at Sophia, who was looking up at her with wide, fear-filled eyes the same color as their mother’s had been.
“We should get back home. Edmund will be worried if we tarry too long.”
Peter smiled widely and for some reason Isabel felt her heart leap at the sight. “That is why I am here. Your brother has hired me to be his caddie. He told me to come find you and bring you home.”
“You?” Isabel asked. The thought of being reminded day in and day out that her life was forfeit if she, or now Edmund, did anything against this boy filled her with dread. However, she had learned to trust Edmund’s decisions in the past three years, and if this was his decision, she would have to live with it.
“We will be able to see a lot more of each other,” Peter said. “I do hope we can become good friends.”
Isabel looked at him strangely. Why would this boy—knowing what she was—want to have anything to do with her? While they rarely saw the badger himself in Mass, Peter always made sure that his younger siblings were in every Mass unless they were practically dying of the plague. Why would such a righteous person want anything to do with someone as “touched by Satan,” as her uncle always put it, as her?
Shaking her head, she allowed Peter to lead the way home. Whatever the reason, they were not able to discuss it with Sophia around. Maybe one day, they would find themselves alone somewhere where they could speak freely.
Photo credit: James Allan
So, I'm supposed to write something about myself. Well, I am a Christ-follower, first and foremost; then a wife, now of 14 years; then a mom to a very busy almost-10-year-old; and then a writer. All of that, unfortunately, means my writing sometimes gets pushed to the back burner.
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