Sandbox 11

The Return of the King

Pippin looked out from under the shelter of Gandalf’s cloak.

“Well, I’m back,” he said.


The Good Earth

It was Wang Lung’s marriage day.

But over the old man’s head they looked at each other and smiled.


The Last Battle

In the last days of Narnia, far up to the west beyond Lantern Waste and close beside the great waterfall, there lived an Ape.

All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.


Memoirs of a Geisha

Suppose that you and I were sitting in a quiet room overlooking a garden, chatting and sipping at our cups of green tea while we talked about something that had happened a long while ago, and I said to you, “That afternoon when I met so-and-so…was the very best afternoon of my life, and also the very worst afternoon.”

Whatever our struggles and triumphs, however we may suffer them, all too soon they bleed into a wash, just like watery ink on paper.


The Legend of the King

Sir Dinadan of Camelot, knight of the Fellowship of Arthur’s Round Table, emissary of Emperor Alis of Constantinople to the Seljuk Turks, sniffed cautiously at his left armpit. (It smelled very bad.)

As for Dinadan, he and Palomides rode the length and breadth of England—and every other nation—singing the tales of Arthur and his knights to everyone who would listen, in every language they could learn, for as long as they both lived.


North and South

“Edith!” said Margaret, gently, “Edith!”

“Hush!” said Margaret, “or I shall try and show you your mother’s indignant tones as she says, ‘That woman!’”


The High King

Under a chill, gray sky, two riders jogged across the turf.

And, in time, only the bards knew the truth of it.


The Dark is Rising

“Too many!” James shouted, and slammed the door behind him.

And in a great blaze of yellow-white light, the sun rose over Hunter’s Combe and the valley of the Thames.


The Empty House

It was in the spring of the year 1894 that all London was interested, and the fashionable world dismayed, but the murder of the Honorable Ronald Adair, under most unusual and inexplicable circumstances.

“Meanwhile, come what may, Colonel Moran will trouble us no more, the famous air-gun of Von Herder will embellish the Scotland Yard Museum, and once again Mr. Sherlock Holmes is free to devote his life to examining those interesting little problems which the complex life of London so plentifully presents.”


To Kill a Mockingbird

When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.

He would be there all night, and he would be there when Jem waked up in the morning.


Out of all of these openings and closings, words that for me conquer up memories of some of my favorite stories and characters, my favorite pair is the opening and closing lines from “The Last Battle”. The opening is simple, yet it introduces the story so completely, and the ending is so beautiful it always makes me cry, for the end is not the end—it is only the beginning of something greater.



Chapter One From Stephan’s Perspective

I waited to post this one to keep from spoiling the big plot twist, but I really wanted to explore Stephan’s emotions in this scene. It’s the only time we see him before Alicia finds out he is a traitor, so it’s a pretty big scene for him. Enjoy!

NP10-McAvoyUncle had opened his mouth to say something as I walked up, but, seeing me, he instead gestured me forward. “What is it, Stephan?” He asked, looking at me with that tired way of his that always indicated Alicia had done something childish, again.

“Sire,” I began, feeling my anger toward my younger cousin boil up under my skin, “King Thomas is becoming extremely aggravated. I don’t think I can keep him entertained for much longer.” I subtly glanced over, taking in Alicia’s completely inappropriate attire. It seemed she was the reason the King and Queen were late meeting with the other Royal, as per usual.

Aunt pursed her lips, unconsciously I think. She tends to do that when she’s upset. “Our relations with Fayal are already tenuous as it is without Thomas acting like a puffed up peacock, seeing grievous insult at the slightest offense.” I agreed, though the situation wouldn’t be quite as difficult if Alicia would just act responsibly for once in her life—but, of course, such a thing wouldn’t even occur to her. Selfish girl.

Uncle gritted his teeth, as frustrated as his wife at the situation. After a moment he nodded curtly at me, wordlessly thanking me for alerting him of the problem. “Alicia, we will continue this conversation at a later time,” he told her curtly.

I hung back for a moment as they turned to go, waiting until they had reached the stairs to ask, “You knew the king didn’t like to be kept waiting, didn’t you?” I thought I already knew the answer, but still I felt compelled to confirm my suspicions.

“And what if I did?” She replied, a self-satisfied smile playing on her face. I had to struggle to keep my emotions in check. How was it that this little nit-wit was going to get to rule the kingdom? She couldn’t make a single decision that wasn’t in her own best interests!

“You’re never going to grow up, are you?” I asked, shaking my head. “The kingdom deserves better.” I turned on my heel, anxious to get away from her before my emotions got the better of me. As soon as I turned my back on her, I gave myself a little reprieve, letting my face twist up in an ugly scowl, leaving her standing alone in the hallway. She more than deserved what was coming to her.


The Soundtrack:

Chapter 1: Hunith’s Letter to Gaius (Merlin: Series One Soundtrack)

Chapter 2: The Blitz, 1940 (The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe Soundtrack)

Chapter 3: Merlin Lost (Merlin: Series One Soundtrack)

Chapter 4: Darcy’s Letter (Pride and Prejudice Soundtrack)

Chapter 5: The Burden’s of Duty (Merlin: Series One Soundtrack)

Chapter 6: Boucher’s Death (North and South Soundtrack)

Chapter 7: The Face of Boe (Doctor Who: Series One and Two Soundtrack)

Chapter 8: The Battle (The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe Soundtrack)

Chapter 9: Irishmen (North and South Soundtrack)

Epilogue: The Breaking of the Fellowship (The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Soundtrack)

S10-Lady EleanorAlicia’s favorite book is her old battered copy of “The Tales of the Lady Knight Eleanor”, the book that her father read out of for her bedtime stories when she was a small girl. As a little girl, Eleanor the hero she always looked up to, and later in life the lady knight became one of her role models.

Alicia’s favorite play is “Lady Knight Eleanor and the Serpent”, based on her favorite Lady Eleanor tale. The play tells the story in which Eleanor must fight a giant serpent that has wound itself around the castle keep, trapping the Royal Family inside. As Eleanor and the other warriors ready themselves to fight the beast, Eleanor realizes there is a ‘serpent’ among her people as well, one much less intimidating than the beast they are about to face, but no less deadly.


A Stirring Speech

“Evan! How am I supposed to give a speech?” Alicia asked anxiously, pacing the floor of her tent.

            Evan raised an eyebrow. “You just faced down the King of Kentra and you’re worried about giving a speech to people who are already on your side?” He asked skeptically.

            “That was different!” She protested. “I was angry at him for what he’d done, and he wasn’t being nice to me, which was helping to keep me stirred up toward him, so that wasn’t difficult like it could have been! He wasn’t expecting anything out of me, but my people are! If we make it through this, I’m going to be their ruler. If I say something they don’t like now, why would they want to follow me at all?”

            He sighed, stopping her by placing his hands on her shoulders. “Look up at me Milady,” he told her firmly. It took her a moment to do so, but she finally looked up reluctantly. “You are going to be an excellent Queen, but no one is perfect and these people know that. If you stumble on a word, or pronounce something wrong, or even just say something that you didn’t mean to say, they are going to understand. You don’t have to do everything right all the time—you just have to be ready to admit that you made a mistake and move on.”

            Alicia bit her lip, thinking. “But I just know I’m going to say something completely wrong that’s going to mess everything up and—” she protested.

            “Milady, you’re going to do fine,” Evan assured her.

            “But—” she began before he promptly turned her around and pushed her toward the door.

“Go on before you figure out some other reason you don’t want to give the speech!” He urged.  

            “Fine,” Alicia grumbled, hesitantly exiting the tent.


“All right,” Alicia began slowly once she had gotten everyone’s attention. “We’ve done our waiting and planning and now it’s time to retake the kingdom. I won’t lie to you and tell you this isn’t going to be one of the most difficult things you’ve ever done in your life because it likely will be. Not all of us are going to make it out alive, but we can’t allow our fears and worries to keep us from doing the right thing. The people who have taken the city have no right to it—they killed my parents and many of our people in order to take the castle. They would take control of the entire kingdom without care for the people. I refuse to let that happen while there is still breath in my body. Will you follow me to take back our kingdom?”

            The response she received from the crowd was thunderous, an earsplitting roar of approval that ripped through the camp.


Who Will Make Your Path Straight?–Ghost Write

This turned out to be such an interesting assignment, despite my worries. It’s terribly difficult to step into a world and a story that isn’t yours and try to write as if they are! I had a lot of fun though, and I hope I did the characters and the story justice! Head on over to Myra Frances’s blog Bravery for the rest of the story!

“Don’t you look lovely this morning dearest,” Fredrick said with a charming smile as he strode up behind her. “I brought you something to brighten up your morning, but I’m afraid their beauty dulls in comparison to your own.” He produced a bouquet of lovely red roses from behind his back with a flourish, bowing gracefully as he offered them to her.

            Ella blushed as she took the flowers, surprised to see her suitor so early in the morning. There weren’t many people up and about at this time of morning—those who were up were usually hurrying to work.

            “Do you like them?” Fredrick asked.

            “They’re lovely,” Ella assured him, bringing them up to her nose to breath in their scent deeply.

            “Might I walk you the rest of the way to the shop?” He asked, offering her his arm. “I must admit, I am anxious to see where you work. I’ve been trying very hard to imagine what it must look like, but I’m afraid I have hardly ever spent much time in such shops before, so I don’t have much to go on.”

            Ella nodded, quickly transferring the flowers to her other hand so that she could take his arm. “If I might ask, why are you up so early this morning?” She asked as they walked up the street, passing the occasional worker as they scurried by. “I thought most gentlemen didn’t get up until after the sun was high in the sky.”

            “I must admit, that is an accurate description of my sleeping habits far more often than I should like,” he said with a chuckle, “but I had some business to attend to at the mill this morning, and, as I knew I would be passing this way on my way back to the house, so I thought I would pay you a visit.”

            “And you just happened to be carrying roses around with you to the mill?” Ella teased gently.

            “Ah,” he exclaimed, “Now the roses are much easier to explain than my sleeping habits. On my way here I passed an old women who was selling some flowers on the side of the street. She was just setting up her stall for the day when I walked past and was more than happy to sell me the roses, although I think she may have cheated me a bit. She said the roses had been cut from the same bush as the ones used to decorate Queen Victoria’s chambers, so she made me pay a little extra.”

            Ella laughed. “Mrs. Thomas made a fool out of you. She didn’t get them from a ‘Royal’ rose bush—she keeps a garden behind her house!”

            Fredrick shrugged lazily. “Well, as I said, I figured she was pulling my leg, but the story was good fun. Even if it’s not true, who else can say that they bought you flowers from Queen Victoria’s rose bush?”

            She shook her head disparagingly, but had to turn her head to hide her smile. “Here we are!” She announced as they turned the last street corner before the sewing shop.

            “It’s certainly bigger than I expected,” he commented as he took in the building.

            “The interesting part is on the inside,” Ella told him, tugging him forward. “Come on, I’ll show you.”


Fredrick left after a few minutes inside, waving goodbye as he walked swiftly down the street.

            “Oo!” Tessa, one of the new seamstresses exclaimed as Ella went to put the roses in water. “Those flowers are gorgeous! Do you know when he’s going to propose?”

            Ella sighed, suddenly overcome with a wave of indecision. “I’m sure it’ll be soon Tessa—he doesn’t seem like the kind of man who waits very long after he’s decided he wants something.”

            With that she turned and made her way silently to where she had left Juliet’s dresses, her thoughts heavy. Was she ready to say yes to Fredrick?


Mad Libs!

This week’s Sandbox assignment was to make a Mad Libs of a paragraph from something we’ve written. Choose your words, and then scroll down for the paragraph. Have fun!


Verb ending in –ing



Plural Noun











A bird once looked down upon a squirrel           -verb ending in –ing along the ground as he sat up in his nest. Perceiving how         -adjective the squirrel looked to be as he rushed around the forest floor, gathering        -verb to store up for winter, he decided he would           plural noun the squirrel to see how he too could be so happy. After a day of watching the squirrel, the bird had decided that with such          -noun that the squirrel had, it would not be hard to be happy. He observed the squirrel’s beautiful, sturdy nest, his numerous secret stores of        -noun, and his        -adjective pelt that would protect him during the harsh, cold winter months and thought to himself, “If I had these things too, surely it would not be hard for me to be happy!” Two years after this, the bird heard word that the squirrel had lost, in quick secession, his           -adjective nest, his stores of           -noun, and that his silky, warm          -noun had lost much of its fur. Wanting to pay his condolences, the bird         -verb right over to find, to his surprise, the squirrel was just as happy as before!

The Bird and the Squirrel


Pride and Leadership

Here are ten quotes that go along with the main theme of my novella. Each of the quotes deals with pride, leadership, or a combination of both. There are some secret, hidden clues that point to some key points in the rest of my novella, but you’ll have to look really hard to find them!

“No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit for doing it.” –Andrew Carnegie

“A man’s pride will bring him low,

But a humble spirit will obtain honor.” –Proverbs 29:23 NASB

“A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.” –C. S. Lewis

“He who has never learned to obey cannot be a good commander.” –Aristotle

“He that is proud eats up himself: pride is his own glass, his own trumpet, his own chronicle.” –William Shakespeare

“Ignorance and power and pride are a deadly mixture, you know.” –Robert Fulghum

“There are three essentials to leadership: humility, clarity, and courage.” –Fuchan Yuan

“A proud man is seldom a grateful man, for he never thinks he gets as much as he deserves.” –Henry Ward Beecher

“Humility and knowledge in poor clothes excel pride and ignorance in costly attire.” –William Penn

“Pride prevents a good leader from becoming a great one.” –Christine Dunn


Survivor: Daryian

image“Uh, Alicia,” Matt said as he walked up the sandy beach toward her, “What are you doing? Everyone else is gathering firewood or branches to help make the shelter.”

The young woman looked lazily up from her spot sprawled out on the beach, soaking up the sun. Sheltering her eyes with her hand, her face twisted as she thought. “It’s Tom, right?”

He sighed. “My name’s Matt.”

“Oh, right!” She said, smiling at him. “Sorry–there’s so many people it’s hard to keep everyone’s names straight.”

Matt looked at her, thoroughly confused. “Where did you get Tom from? There aren’t any Toms on our tribe, or the other tribe for that matter.”

She shrugged. “I dunno. You just look like a Tom to me I guess.” That settled, she closed her eyes and lowered herself back onto the sand.

Glowering angrily now, Matt said, “You never answered my question.”

Alicia opened one eye, squinting at him. “What question?”

“What are you doing?” He asked again, getting exasperated.

“What does it look like I’m doing?” She asked, giggling. “That’s not a very smart question you know. If you were paying attention you’d be able to figure out the answer to your question without bothering me at all. Wouldn’t that have been nice. You woke me up you know. It wasn’t very polite of you to do.”

“Honestly, I don’t really care,” Matt told her harshly. “We’re trying to put up our shelter and get some firewood together before it rains tonight. Personally, I don’t really feel up to getting drenched all night long, and I would prefer to have some dry firewood to warm up with in the morning, so do you think you could get up off of your butt and help us out?”

“Oh, that!” Alicia exclaimed. “There were so many people already working on that stuff that I figured I’d just get in the way. Plus, if I take a nap now and preserve my energy, I’ll be all ready to go when it’s time for our first challenge! Then maybe we can win, and we’ll get a tarp, and we won’t have to worry about getting drenched tonight!”

“That’s an awful lot of ifs and maybes.” Matt said through gritted teeth.

“I didn’t say you had to stake everything on me winning the challenge for us, just that my being well rested gives us a better chance. By all means, go ahead and finish working on the shelter. I’m sure it will do adequately until we win a tarp today.” She told him, closing her eyes again.

Matt opened his mouth to reply, and then closed it with a snap. After one last dismissive glance, he walked slowly back to camp, picking up palm fronds and firewood as he went. After depositing the supplies in their respective piles, he pulled one of the other guys, Ben, off to the side.

“What is it?” Ben asked, looking a bit concerned.

Matt looked around carefully, checking to make sure they were alone. “I don’t care how well this girl does in challenges—as soon as we go to tribal council the first time, we have to vote out Alicia.” He told Ben vehemently.

“What did she do?” Ben asked.

Matt laughed. “She’s done nothing, which is exactly why we have to vote her out. She just gave me some crap about how we could all go on gathering firewood and building the shelter if we wanted to, but that she was going to keep on sitting on her butt on the beach taking a nap so she would be “well rested” for the challenge. She’s got it in her head that she’s some kind of Wonder Woman who’s gonna win all of the challenges for us. I want her gone.”

Ben nodded. “I’ll talk to a few other people. I can’t believe there’s someone who’s really that stupid. Not helping around camp is like a death sentence in Survivor.”


Books Can Be DangerousSA2-Stack of Books

I didn’t notice her reading the book at first. It was odd for her to be reading, but I figured, with as small as it was, it was probably some schoolbook she’d been assigned. But then I realized something odd; she had not complained about the book once. As I had said, Jessica isn’t much of a reader, so usually her assigned reading for school is accompanied by much huffing and puffing—that is, if she even reads it at all. I’ve walked into her room to find Spark Notes pulled up on her computer screen before a test more than once. I didn’t exactly approve, but I also didn’t really blame her either. Some of the books they assigned were very dry and uninteresting to an avid reader, much less someone like Jessica who didn’t like to read in the first place. Finally I decided I had to know what this book was that she was reading so willingly.

Using all of my stealth skills I had learned tiptoeing around the house when she was a baby, I snuck into her room, hoping to find the book. Luckily for me, I didn’t have to search too hard; she had left the book sitting on top of her bed. Of course, she happened to walk in as I was reading the title, catching me in the act of snooping. She rolled her eyes and gave me one of those signature, “Mom!”’s that teenagers are so apt to give, but she had really made me curious. Plus the title, A Field of Dandelions, hadn’t given me much to go on. So I hesitantly asked her what it was about, and what class she was reading it for. Her answer was quite the surprise. Not only was she reading it because a friend told her about it, but it was also a fantasy book! I have to admit, I was pretty stunned. I can’t recall ever seeing her with a non-schoolbook that wasn’t written by Nicolas Sparks. But it was also obvious that she wanted me to leave her alone so she could get back to reading, so I did.

That didn’t mean I stopped watching her though. Right before I started cooking dinner, she had sat down in her favorite chair in the living room, the book in her hands. The entire hour I spent cooking dinner, I kept one eye on her, watching. It was odd, watching someone read a book that I knew nothing about. Her face went through a whole range of emotions, none of which I could really figure out. Her eyes went wide, later she gasped, and at one point she even laughed out loud. By the end of the book tears were streaming down her face, and she looked like she had just run over somebody’s cat. With a soft little sigh, she uncurled herself from the chair and went to wash her hands for dinner. As soon as she left the room, I dashed over to the side table she had left the book on. I was going to read that book tonight.