Corgi Seven Leaf: Book Projects Update

This is a happy year in my writing life. I have three books coming out in three genres, from two publishers. I love that!

Corgi

The first book out is actually a third book – it’s the third book in the #SamandSaucer trilogy. The first two, Shepherding Sam and The Barn and the Book, introduced us to Sam, his corgi friend Saucer, and his friends and adventures at the Monastery of St. Gerasim. Sam struggles hard. Sometimes he’s angry, sometimes he’s happy, sometimes he wants to be left. alone. please. Saucer, corgi that he is, loves Sam and follows Sam around and barks at him and pats his foot and even, when occasion demands, takes a good mouthful of Sam’s pant leg and hauls him along where he needs to go.

Corgi standing under a blooming cherry tree
Photo by Alvan Nee on Unsplash

I just handed in my second round of revisions for this third book, and most of what’s left now will be copy-edits and minor adjustments. This book happened in layers, more than the last one did. I originally thought there wasn’t a third book, but with some prodding from my editor, I discovered there was indeed a third book. Like all my books, it fell out of the sky and hit me on the head. This is perhaps not the most dignified writing process, but it works for me! I wrote the story all in one gasp, so to speak, and then set it aside because there was time before the release date. The editor read through her pile and got to my story, and we started in on her first round of big-picture suggestions. The book gained several chapters, the characters gained depth, and it went back to her again for another round. She pointed out a few other adjustments, and that’s what I sent back to her last Sunday night.

I liked working on the characters this time around. They’re two years older than they were in the first book, and I did a little research to help me build out Sam. At no point in the books do we have a name for Sam’s particular kind of struggle. Many people have suggested that he’s on the autism spectrum, and my researched honored that suggestion. However, life has taught me that people with labels and people without labels have more in common than they think. This third book puts Sam together with Macrina, his arch-nemesis. Macrina would be the first to tell you that there is NOTHING the matter with her. But as the story developed, I realized, along with one of their mutual friends, that Macrina and Sam have more in common than either of them would like to admit. Perhaps we all do. For that reason, Sam still does not have a label. Macrina doesn’t either. There’s something in each of their struggles that most of us can relate to.

This book, like the first two in the series, will have a cover and three interior illustrations by the friendly and talented Clare Freeman! And that means I’ve also sent in a detailed list of information for the illustrations – listing scenes I hope will be chosen for pictures, and details of setting, clothing, facial expression, etc, Clare will need to create those pictures.

Seven

Seven Holy Women is a story-telling devotional I’m writing with a group of friends. All told, there are eight of us involved, but our math still works because the book focuses on seven women saints. It’s unique in my experience, for two reasons. First, I’ve never written a book with a group of friends before! Second, I’ve never run across a book like this one. Perhaps one exists somewhere, but it hasn’t popped up yet. Our book is unique because it uses short stories written in the second person to help our readers grapple with their own connections to these saints. “You are Morwenna,” the book begins. YOU. Your brain is wired to read those words and drop your imagination into the story, gazing out at the events as if they were your experiences, in your life. You aren’t Morwenna, of course. You are several centuries too late for that, but when I started writing the four short stories that were the root of this book, I loved the mental and spiritual exercise of trying to stand in these holy shoes, for a few moments only.

I needed help to make this book all that it should be, and that’s where my friends come in. Each of them took one of the seven saints, befriended her, and wrote about her. Each section includes personal surveys and a journaling opportunity, and as of this month, all seven sections are in the manuscript. The only remaining task is for me to write the final chapter, and that’s what I’m pondering now. I’ll wander back through the sections written by my friends and then I’ll have to make up my mind just what that final chapter needs to contribute to finish the book neatly and completely.

Leaf

St. Ia Rides a Leaf, the board book just contracted with SVS Press, is now in the storyboard stage! Kristina Tartara, the illustrator, has sent me the first illustration of Ia, and we’re talking over the color of her dress. This is a story set by the Irish Sea, so nearly every illustration will include shades of blue and green. Ia is a red-head, good Irish girl that she is, and we’ve tried four dress colors, drawn from our research on the dyes available to her in her place and time, and social class. Ia was a princess, so her clothes would be more colorful than those of neighboring peasants.

Meanwhile, Kristina has the final text, and this week she’s breaking it into pages and sketching the rough outlines of the scenes that will appear on each one.

I truly love watching the illustration process. I’d enjoy it for anyone’s book, and to watch my own story appear in pictures is one of my favorite parts of the writing life. It will never grow old! It’s especially delightful when I get to work so closely with the illustrator. Kristina communicates with me often and kindly sends me sketches and snatches at every stage. It makes me happy.

BLOG

And of course, my other writing project is this blog! I am so glad I came back to blogging. I’m finding all kinds of interesting people here in the blogosphere. I enjoy your words and pictures, and the ways they stretch my mind. Thank you for being here!

#Blogtown Tuesday: Interview with The Live Script

Today’s #BlogtownTuesday guest was a toss up – she’s a maker and a blogger, so should she be on #MakersMonday or #BlogtownTuesday?? I asked her. She thought about it, and she picked #BlogtownTuesday. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check out her handmade soap. It smells so good I’m always tempted to take a bite. However, rather than eating soap, I’m asking Sarah at The Live Script my 5 questions, and these are her beautiful answers.

How did your blog get its name?

The Live Script name comes from my sense of being every moment within a narrative taller and wider and deeper than what meets the eye.  Script means not only handwriting, but also a crafted story, and adding “live” speaks to the experience, the immediacy of being present within the story and observing it closely.

What would you say is the defining characteristic of your blog?

This question is quite hard for me to answer.  I know that when I write I am sort of “waving over” the one that comes to read, saying, by my words, “Here, look at this with me.  Experience this scene, this thought; do you see what I see?”  Topically I range from poetry to theology to parenting to cooking, and many stops in between.

What’s your favorite thing about blogging? Least favorite?

I greatly appreciate having a place to spill some of the thoughts that otherwise bang around my head and heart until they’re assembled and given a home.  Writing is crucial for my own understanding and processing and the blog format allows feedback that writing in my journal does not.  Thus far I haven’t experienced any negative aspects of blogging; I’m not well known so I’m not a target for trolls.  My obscurity has been a gift.

You’re a member of #Blogtown, a Social Blogging Collaborative. How is blogging social for you?

Though it can never replace the intimacy of a face-to-face conversation, there is value in the regular reading  of each other’s work.  Even if it is only our thoughts that reach across the miles, there is still connection and community.

Tell us 3 things we would know about you if we’d grown up with you.

  1. I am happiest in or near water, be it the ocean, a creek, or the river in Montana that runs through my parents’ land.  The sound, the smell, and the refreshing buoyant coolness of it never fails to delight me, and I am always the last one out of the water.  
  2. I would rather be up in a tree, or on a bicycle, or sitting in the woods, than playing organized sports or pursuing success or seeking entertainment (movies, concerts, plays).  My parents didn’t know what to make of me; I was not motivated by money nor achievement, but just wanted to be up in my tree, writing and thinking.  
  3. There was never an art form that I wasn’t interested in trying.  Growing up I loved drawing, painting, sculpting, doing collages, sewing, and photography.  As an adult that has expanded to soap making, candle making, miniature pottery, quilting, watercoloring, jewelry making, weaving, and soon, carving wooden spoons.

Thank you, Sarah!

You can connect with Sarah at The Live Script. See you in #Blogtown!

#bloginstead

#MakersMonday: An Interview with Pelikan Icons

My #MakersMonday guest today is an iconographer! Elina of Pelikan Icons and I have met in real life at conferences, and we’ve known each other online for years now. I’ve seen her dancing and art-journaling and book reviewing, but the craft she’s sharing today might be the crown jewel of her skills. As always, I’m asking 5 questions, and Elina is answering, with words and pictures!

Tell us about your work. What do you create?

I am an Orthodox artist, and my most important work is as a byzantine iconographer, which is what I’m mainly talking about today.  Along with digital art and various forms of art, I produce icons of all sizes in various mediums for homes and churches. Iconography is unlike any artform I have ever worked with, as it is more than just the paint and board or canvas that I am working with; it truly becomes a window to something deeper and greater, a cooperation with God and His saints.  In visual art I used to feel most fulfilled when sculpting – I love working in 3 dimensions, but in iconography the third dimension is the very real and present spiritual dimension. 

How did you learn to do this kind of work?

Ideally iconography would be learned by spending years as an apprentice to a master iconographer, but in North Carolina, that’s simply not available.

I began learning about the process of creating icons before I converted to Orthodoxy, learning from others intrigued by this ancient artform, and eventually flying to Greece to learn from a master for a few weeks while my first child was 8 months old.  I took her with me and my amazing mother in law came and spent time with her while I worked. It was an incredible trip. After converting, amid having 3 more kids to add to my 2, I was blessed with several opportunities to learn from other masters, including my most influential teacher and favorite living iconographer – Daniel Neculae.  Traditional byzantine icons are made with egg tempera on laboriously prepared icon boards, so the process is very specific and rather difficult, but intensely satisfying.

What do you find satisfying about being a maker?

Creation!!  Iconography is interesting because it is not creative in the same way as the other artforms that I do.  I’m not trying to innovate, to make something uniquely mine – quite the opposite. My goal is to take what has been handed down and reproduce it, but the process is nothing short of life-changing.  

What’s your favorite memory associated with practicing your craft?

I think my favorite memories are from the courses, where I’m spending 8+ hours working on the craft under the direction of a true master.  My first course with Daniel was strikingly different from other classes where they spent a lot of time talking – we spent more time doing. The thing that struck me was that at the end of the course, the internal change I felt was even deeper, as if the lines themselves of these holy faces were writing their way into my very person.

Share a photo of a favorite piece, and tell us the story that goes with it.

This is a difficult one, because my first impulse is to choose the icon from my first course with Daniel – of my patron saint, Archangel Gabriel – because the course was so moving, but I think I’m going to have to choose my largest work – the icon of the Theotokos hanging behind our

altar at St Raphael Orthodox Church in Fuquay Varina – my home parish.  Being asked to do the icons for my parish was a great honor, and also something very intimidating.  These are icons that I see multiple times a week, and they are the faces that surround me as I enter into worship.  This particular icon was not only my largest work, but several other firsts. It was my first time practicing marouflage, which is the technique of affixing paintings on canvas to the wall with paste.  The icon is 11 feet tall, and was primarily painted in my living room which is only 8 feet tall, so naturally it was quite a challenge. To add to that, I am not normally allowed behind the altar, so to spend the time back there when I was installing it, to be high on a ladder (I don’t love heights, tall as I may be) was memorable to say the least.  It was also my first time applying gold leaf to canvas, and to do so vertically, on a ladder, behind the altar made it even more exciting. I felt very solidly God’s help and the help of the saints (as I was constantly asking their help) as well as the prayers of my church family, and it was clearly something bigger than just me and my art, and that is really I think what makes iconography my favorite artform – the participation in the divine.  This is present every time I create, but uniquely here in the sacred work of iconography.

Still True: Lent for Creatives

Two years ago, a half-decade of observation boiled over the rim of my mind into a list of 5 hard lessons I’ve learned about creativity, publishing, and success in the Orthodox media field. I wrote out my list for the company blog in Lent 2018, and because all 5 are still very true, I’d like to share them with you here also.

Lent for Creatives: 5 hard lessons

At Ancient Faith, we believe that the spiritual life and the creative life are woven together. The fact that we are an Orthodox Christian media company is proof of this conviction. We exist to promulgate the Gospel through the work of people who use their creative gifts to affirm and explore the life of faith, in the persistent hope of edifying and encouraging our fellow human beings on their journeys.

During this Lenten season, we are all engaged in spiritual struggle of one kind or another, and it seems a good moment to share what I’ve learned in the last five years about the intersection of creativity, struggle, and media publishing. With this goal, I’ve created a list of five hard lessons we all seem to encounter on our way to producing high-quality books and podcasts. If you have already been published, this list will be familiar. If you are still trying to be published, it may be even more familiar! I pray it will be helpful, no matter which side of that fence you occupy.

don’t be an “idea person.”

Almost nothing will shut you out faster than those fatal words – “I’m an idea person.” Many people describe themselves this way, and in our experience, an “idea person” is one who can come up with an endless list of inspiring suggestions but is not able to follow through on them. An idea is like a flame without a lamp. It burns brightly and then vanishes, unless you provide a wick, some oil, and a vessel to hold the oil. Your idea needs a plan. It needs background research. It needs the ability to make and meet deadlines, foresee and overcome obstacles. You and your idea both need a significant amount of staying power, so that your publisher knows you will put in the effort to bring your idea to life – real life, enduring life, the kind of life that will justify the expenditure of staff time, resources, and just plain stamina required to publish a book or produce a podcast. If you were telling yourself that you could hand your idea to a publisher and staff members would provide the wick, the oil, and the lamp, please stop. No publisher can or will be a replacement for the diligent effort you should have dedicated to your idea before we ever heard of it.

KEEP READING HERE FOR LESSONS 2-5.

#BlogtownTuesday: Interview with Summer Kinard

Today’s #BlogtownTuesday visitor is one of the first members of #Blogtown. She’s one of the group who did #bloginstead with me, and her posts in those 3 blissful days were so good to read. I’m talking about Summer Kinard – blogger, yes, and also author, speaker, and what you might call a cultural bridge for people who are differently abled.

How did your blog get iTs name?

My current blog is just my name, SummerKinard.com. I’ve had other blogs over the years, but this is the best way for me to keep my ideas together online.

What would you say is the defining characteristic of your blog?

I try to always write with a recognition of the presence of the Incarnate God. My writing, whether personal reflections or about silly stuff with my kids, or resources for living the faith with disabilities, always comes from my heart and the knowledge that God is with us.

What’s your favorite thing about blogging? Least favorite?

Blogging gives me an opportunity to share what I have learned in a creative nonfiction format without the burden of monetizing it. I love the opportunity to share insights that I can discuss with people with whom they resonate. I can also tell when an idea is salient by watching how it spreads. That’s a big part of connecting with my readers. The part I don’t like is the pressure to blog often. My kids have high stakes special needs, and I have to put them first. I give myself permission to take a few days or weeks longer than I initially planned to post on the blog when the delay allows me to address my family’s urgent needs.

You are a member of #Blogtown, a social blogging collaborative. How is blogging social for you?

I read the Blogtown posts in my WordPress reader at least a couple of times a week. I enjoy listening to other people tell their beauties and their truths. Sometimes I can only tap “like,” but I try as often as I am able to be online to engage with their thoughts or just let them know they’ve encouraged me. I don’t forego other social media in order to blog, but blogging is my favorite type of online platform. I love stories and always have. I even love the stories of recipes on cooking blogs! To me, the most salient part of socializing is bearing witness to goodness and truth and beauty in the world, which includes exploring the process of discovery. I want to know how you noticed a particular rock in the forest or why sea salt and coffee changed your chocolate cake and your life. I love to see how the love of God grows in every crevice of life! Stories are where it’s at.

Tell us 3 thinGs we would know about you if we’d grown up with you.

It’s almost impossible for me to get lost. I used to be an eloper (though I didn’t realize it), and I would spend hours walking into the woods with my dog and finding my way home as a challenge. My mind absorbs details rapidly, giving me an instant map of places I go. I can pay unbroken attention to one activity for hours on end. I used to build houses for doodle bugs out of sand and sticks so I could train them to navigate the hallways. I love to laugh, and I love wordplay. My family had a custom called “shooting the breeze” where we would entertain each other with wordplay and stories. That laughter was a big part of my training in joy.

Thank you, Summer!

You can connect with Summer at SummerKinard.com. See you in #Blogtown!

#MakersMonday: Interview with The Cross Stitcher

When I was in second grade, I was given a cross-stitch project as a birthday present. It was a little prayer with Noah’s-Ark-themed ornamentation around the edges like a frame. I still have it. It’s still not finished. It is therefore with great respect and delight that I introduce you to Natalie at The Cross Stitcher, who not only begins to embroider, but finishes!

Tell us about your work. What do you create?

I’m a fiber artist! I create faith-inspired, contemporary embroidery art and weavings for the home. That’s a fancy way of saying, I stitch and weave crosses, which is exactly how the name, The Cross Stitcher, came to be. However, now everyone thinks I cross-stitch instead of embroider, (*face palm*). That’s what I get for trying to be punny! I also create Pascha basket covers, enamel pins, stickers and offer DIY step-by-step embroidery kits in my shop so that YOU can learn the beautiful art of embroidery as well!

HOw did you learn to do this kind of work?

Art has always been a very important part of my life. In my free time in college, you could often find me drawing or painting. There was a class in high school called “textile arts”. The name alone just sounded so intriguing. The class was full, and I wasn’t able to get in. Since then, I’d always wanted to try my hand at something with fibers. They just seemed so fun! I was drawn to the idea that you could actually touch your medium and constantly work with it in your hands. After a quick trip to Michael’s to buy some supplies, I started searching for videos of how to embroider. Everything I learned about embroidery and weaving, I learned from the internet! It didn’t take long for me to realize, “wait a minute…this is JUST like drawing or painting!” There’s still the basic concept of blending colors and filling in lines. Once I made that connection, I was off to the races.

Weaving came a little bit later. I had received a lap loom for Christmas 2016. However, I wanted to focus primarily on embroidery and starting my shop. When I get into something, I get INTO IT, so I actually asked my parents to keep it at their home until I was ready to use it, because I knew it would be too big of a temptation at my own place! Two years, 1 cat, 1 marriage, and a move to another state later, the loom made the long-awaited journey from Tennessee to Pennsylvania. I’ve been weaving for a little over a year now!

What do you find satisfying about being a “maker”?

Oh man, EVERYTHING. One of the reasons I started this business was because I couldn’t stop making things. Which is cool, until you have 40+ pieces of your own work in your small apartment…then it’s creepy. But, I just have this innate desire to create. It’s how I express my thoughts and emotions and relate to the environment around me. One day, I realized how truly thankful I am for this drive and ability to create. That’s when the idea of The Cross Stitcher, came to me. I wanted to do something that was an offering back to God, of the talents He’s given me, and to do so in a way that is glorifying to Him. That’s why almost every piece depicts the cross and why I designed the business to also function as a ministry, with 10% of all profits going directly to the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC).

I incorporate so much color and boldness into every design, because I want to create pieces that resonate with both Christians and non-Christians alike. We are designed to appreciate beauty, and for some, I feel like this is a good common-ground starting place for understanding our faith.    

What’s your favorite memory associated with practicing your craft?

I love knowing who these pieces are going to. A woman recently commissioned an embroidery for her mother and she told me that when she opened it, she cried. It’s moments like that, that I can’t really fathom. It was a Latin cross with butterflies around it, and it touched her in a uniquely special way. Or when a Matushka with small children says that she’s been saving to purchase a piece for herself. It’s hard to wrap my head around someone wanting to do that with my work. Or to give it as a Christmas present. It’s moments like that, that are extremely humbling and help me to remember that my hands are merely the vessel, the means to do the work, all the beauty and inspiration behind the piece comes from God.

SHARE A PHOTO OF A FAVORITE PIECE, AND TELL US THE STORY THAT GOES WITH IT.

This was a piece I made during the Christmas break of 2017. I didn’t have much time to stitch the previous semester due to a heavy course load, and I was so excited to finally create again. These are the times when I feel like I am most creative. I started with my familiar outline of the Byzantine cross, but instead of stitching flowers on the outside like I normally do, I broke out the watercolors. There was no plan of what flowers to put where, or how the cross itself should look. I just started creating. This type of process is what gives me life as a creator and keeps me constantly excited about my work, Glory to God!

Snowflakes and Blackberries

It’s snowing this morning, and coincidentally, I ran across a few words I jotted down about snow, several years ago. It was one of those moments that stretches your mind and reminds you of divinity and cosmos.

This reminded me of Elizabeth Barrett Browning and her words on blackberries.

Earth’s crammed with heaven

And every common bush afire with God;

But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,

The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries…

From Aurora Leigh, by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Searching for this quote, I rediscovered the longer poem of which it is a part, and found that it articulates my own belief about the spiritual nature of art. I kept reading, and Elizabeth kept building out the thesis in keeping with my own sense of things.

Human beings are inescapably spiritual. We are inescapably natural. We are created in the image of God, incarnated as He was, fully human and whole-souled just as He was fully human and fully divine. As an Orthodox Christian, I believe all creation is lifted up in Christ. ALL CREATION. This means I see God as much in a tiny snowflake as in a book of theology. I love that.

As a writer, I know I can’t let go of spirit to write about natural life. They are not separate. Not in the smallest detail. Some writing is more obviously “spiritual” or “religious” than others, but I believe all good art, perhaps I would say all “genuine” art, has as much spiritual as natural content. The measure of its greatness is the extent to which the fire of heaven shines through it.

Elizabeth says this more beautifully than I could, so here are her words to feed your thoughts on this snowy morning.

From ‘Aurora Leigh’
By Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806–1861)

TRUTH, so far, in my book;—the truth which draws
Through all things upwards,—that a twofold world
Must go to a perfect cosmos. Natural things
And spiritual,—who separates those two
In art, in morals, or the social drift 5
Tears up the bond of nature and brings death,
Paints futile pictures, writes unreal verse,
Leads vulgar days, deals ignorantly with men,
Is wrong, in short, at all points. We divide
This apple of life, and cut it through the pips,
The perfect round which fitted Venus’ hand
Has perished as utterly as if we ate
Both halves. Without the spiritual, observe,
The natural’s impossible,—no form,
No motion: without sensuous, spiritual
Is inappreciable,—no beauty or power:
And in this twofold sphere the twofold man
(For still the artist is intensely a man)
Holds firmly by the natural, to reach
The spiritual beyond it,—fixes still
The type with mortal vision, to pierce through,
With eyes immortal, to the antetype
Some call the ideal,—better call the real,
And certain to be called so presently
When things shall have their names. Look long enough
On any peasant’s face here, coarse and lined,
You’ll catch Antinous somewhere in that clay,
As perfect featured as he yearns at Rome
From marble pale with beauty; then persist,
And, if your apprehension’s competent,
You’ll find some fairer angel at his back,
As much exceeding him as he the boor,
And pushing him with empyreal disdain
For ever out of sight. Aye, Carrington
Is glad of such a creed: an artist must,
Who paints a tree, a leaf, a common stone
With just his hand, and finds it suddenly
A-piece with and conterminous to his soul.
Why else do these things move him, leaf, or stone?
The bird’s not moved, that pecks at a spring-shoot;
Nor yet the horse, before a quarry, a-graze:
But man, the twofold creature, apprehends
The twofold manner, in and outwardly,
And nothing in the world comes single to him,
A mere itself,—cup, column, or candlestick,
All patterns of what shall be in the Mount;
The whole temporal show related royally,
And built up to eterne significance
Through the open arms of God. ‘There’s nothing great
Nor small’, has said a poet of our day,
Whose voice will ring beyond the curfew of eve
And not be thrown out by the matin’s bell:
And truly, I reiterate, nothing’s small!
No lily-muffled hum of a summer-bee,
But finds some coupling with the spinning stars;
No pebble at your foot, but proves a sphere;
No chaffinch, but implies the cherubim;
And (glancing on my own thin, veinèd wrist),
In such a little tremor of the blood
The whole strong clamour of a vehement soul
Doth utter itself distinct. Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries,
And daub their natural faces unaware
More and more from the first similitude.

Our Board Book: St. Ia Rides a Leaf

As you know, illustrator Kristina Tartara and I have contracted with St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press for a board book. Earlier, I shared this photograph as a hint about the book.

Where is this place? It’s St. Ives in Cornwall! This charming seaside town, and the parish church that watches over it, are named for St. Ia of Cornwall (Ives is an Anglicized version of her Irish name).

I discovered St. Ia’s story while researching another book (coming out this Fall), and although it fit beautifully with the women’s devotional I had in mind when I found it, the story stayed with me until I realized it makes an excellent book for little ones as well.

St. Ia was an Irish missionary to Cornwall in the 5th or 6th century. England owes much of its Christianity to Irish missionaries who crossed the Irish Sea to save those heathen English.

Ia expected to travel with a group, but unbeknownst to her, her fellow missionaries decided she wasn’t old enough to come along. (Is there a child anywhere who can’t relate to this?)

Ia’s group left without her, and without telling her. She ran down to the beach, expecting to board the ship with them, and instead, she saw it disappearing over the horizon.

Ia was heartbroken. She stood on the shore for a while, being sad and praying, and she saw a leaf floating on the water. She touched it with her staff, the way you do when you are busy being sad and you start fiddling with something around you. The leaf began to grow, and Ia realized something special was happening.

The leaf grew large enough to be a seaworthy boat, and Ia rode her leaf to Cornwall. In one version of the story, she arrives before the people who had left her behind. (That must have been just the least little bit satisfying.)

Our book is a simple, lyrical 300-word retelling of this story. With contracts signed, Kristina and I are venturing into the world of story-boards and sketches. I love this. I will never get over the enchantment of seeing my stories illustrated, and Kristina is a great partner. We talk over the time and place, the probable age of Ia (our guess is very early teens), and the layout. When it’s ready, I’ll be sharing Kristina’s work here, both in development and finished.

Meanwhile, here is some of the other artwork we’ve found that shows Ia’s voyage, each interesting in its own way.

#BlogtownTuesday: Interview with Hopeful Patience

Continuing our stroll around #Blogtown, today we’re visiting with Michelle at Hopeful Patience. Like most of our #Blogtown friends, we haven’t met in person, but we’ve known each other online for a few years. As always, I’m asking 5 questions, and as today’s guest, Michelle is sharing her answers below.

How did your blog gets its name?

One day, I was describing to my brother that I was beginning to feel able to imagine and hope for something that wasn’t possible yet but might be possible someday. He called what I was describing “hopeful patience.” A few months later, I was creating my blog, and I found that that phrase encapsulated what I wanted my blog to be about.

What would you say is the defining characteristic of your blog?

This question follows nicely on my answer above–the goal of my blog is to practice hopeful patience myself, and, as much as I can, inspire others to wait hopefully in whatever struggle they find themselves in.

What’s your Favorite Thing about Blogging? Least Favorite?

I really love having an avenue to publish my writing and to share some of my ideas and encouragement with others. It gives me a concrete way to make writing part of my life. That’s important to me because I have always seen myself as a writer, but for many years I didn’t have any tangible way that I was acting out being a writer. The only negative part of blogging I can really think of is when I fall into wishing I had a wider audience.

You’re a member of Blogtown, a social blogging collaborative. How is blogging social for you?

Unlike other writing I might do that is more for myself, blogging is specifically a way to share what I’ve been pondering with others. I really like socializing through writing because it allows time to think carefully about what I want to say. I’m much more comfortable with writing than, for example, talking on the phone. It also means a lot to me to interact with people in meaningful ways online because most of my life is spent at home, and I don’t have a lot of opportunities to socialize in person (most of my in-person socializing is crammed in after church on Sundays).

Tell us 3 things we’d know about you if we’d grown up with you.

A. I was planning to become an author since before I can remember.

B. Vermont was my favorite place to visit during summers as a kid.

C. In early high school, I dreamed of attending Oxford University, studying the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, and becoming a professor.

Thank you, Michelle!

You can connect with Michelle at Hopeful Patience. See you in #Blogtown!