August 30, 2012

Describing Characters

pinterest: sunshine & gossamer
Two weeks ago I wrote a post on descriptive passages in general, and the topic of how to describe characters came up in the comments.  We all want our readers to draw a vivid and accurate image of our characters from the book.  But how do we manage to plant that image without abusing adjectives?

I don't believe there is one right way to go about this: it's something determined by style.  There are definitely, however, wrong ways of doing it.  We all know those introductory passages where so much is said about the character's beauty/intelligence/ah-MAZing skills that it turns your stomach.  Should we all have ugly, stupid characters, then, so as not to irritate readers?  By no means: oftentimes the fault comes not in the merits of the character, but from the delivery.  I can get just as frustrated with over-described dolts as with over-described geniuses. 

One of the main problems, I believe, with the attempt to describe a character (especially a main character) is that we have this idea that if we devote enough words to his features, we can translate our own mental image into the reader's mind.  But at least for myself, I don't find that to be the case.  The mental image I have of, say, Tip Brighton is probably not the exact image that a reader would piece together; and I doubt that an image I have of another author's character is quite what they had in mind.  The most important means of communicating who a character is have little to do physical descriptors; they're far more visceral - actions and quirks, not bone structure and eye color. 

All that to say, we needn't depend on descriptions to summarize a character.  That isn't to say we should rid ourselves of all descriptions, however, only that less can be more where adjectives are concerned.  The amount of description for any character should be determined by the circumstances of his or her introduction, and by the style of narration.  I mentioned in the comments on my previous post that I tend not to describe my main characters much beyond hair or eye color.  This is because my main characters are my narrators, and even in third-person, it's awkward to have the character appear be describing himself.  (Apparently mirror-scenes are cliche to the nth degree, so I can't recommend them.)

It is possible to get around this in means other than the mirror-scene, though, especially if a novel has two point-of-view characters; I do this a little in The White Sail's Shaking, since I switch between Tip and Marta.  When Marta first meets Tip, there are certain things she fixes on at once: his hair, which is always sticking up, and his laugh, which sounds like a cork coming out a bottle.  When Tip gets to know Marta, he's much more attuned to her looks than she is to his.  (And he has this idea that she's pretty, which is silly, but what can you do?)  If you do have more than one narrating character and they interact, I think it nice to show their first impressions of each other and what features stand out in their eyes.

Another good thing to do - and I mentioned this briefly in a post I did almost a year ago - is to allow other characters to comment on your narrator in subjective terms.  Charlie Bent is always quick to point out how plain Tip is.  (What else are friends for?)  A seaman who rumbles briefly through The White Sail's Shaking very kindly remarks that Marta's features look like a boy's.  I like these dashes of outsiders' thoughts, so long as they are in general and not specific; unless the speaker is lovesick, I doubt they would go into detail about the narrator having blue eyes and perfect teeth.

There's more freedom in describing secondary characters, I find, as long as the setting is appropriate.  Note - if the main character meets a person while they're both running away from the Gestapo, that's not an appropriate setting.  But in normal circumstances, some description from the narrator's eyes is good.  Try to incorporate the main character's feelings, rather than conveying mere lifeless adjectives - it makes it much more enjoyable to read, but also to write.  I just picked up The Lantern Bearers last night, and the first chapter is a good example of this.  The main character, Aquila, has just come home for a visit after a year away and is seeing his sister, who has grown up in that time; the descriptions are tinged with nostalgia and affection.

Emotions are the best means of adding color to the characters on the page, for they introduce the element of subjectivity that gives reality to the mind of the narrator.  No matter how you go about bringing them into play, they must be present.  Without them, people are not people at all and the only images the writer communicates will be of colored carboard-cutouts.

August 24, 2012

What Makes a Memorable Character?

This week I am tickled to be able to play host to new authoress Elizabeth Rose, whose novel Violets are Blue was published in May 2012 and can be found on Amazon.  Elizabeth has been conducting a blog tour, and I'm very pleased that she chose to make Scribbles and Ink Stains one of her stops - especially since her guest post is on creating memorable characters.  Read, enjoy, and remember to check out her lovely blog at Living on Literary Lane!

read and enjoy

When I read a book, the first aspect of it that makes me fall in love are the characters. In my mind, the setting, plot, and dialogue are all various forms of polish that enhance the people around whom the story revolves.

That is every writer's intent, is it not? We want to write characters who are memorable. When you read Anne of Green Gables, did you love the plot of an orphan girl sent to live with a middle-aged brother and sister, or did you fall in love with the scrape-proned title character herself? She is the one we remember the best, and she is the one that keeps us reading the various sequels in the series by L.M. Montgomery. If we hadn't liked Anne, we would have never wanted to read Anne of Avonlea. 

C.S. Lewis' unforgettable opening lines — "There was a boy named Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it" — are a perfect example of how much a book's readability depends on the characters that inhabit it. When I first read those words as a child, I knew very little about where the plot would carry me, and yet I had already decided that I was going to like this book. Why? Because Lewis opened his book with a character that demanded your attention from the start. Already I was wondering why Eustace almost deserved his horrid name. If you don't care about the characters, it doesn't matter what fantastic plot twists the author puts in his story. You may be surprised that a man who seemed trustworthy is really the villain in disguise, but you'll only yawn in boredom when he wounds the protagonist in a duel. After all, what does it matter that the main character may die in the next three pages? You never cared about him in the first place. Frankly, you're more curious about what you'll be eating for lunch.

Obviously we don't want our readers considering the everyday occurence of a midday meal more exciting than the riveting plots we took months, even years to craft just right. We hope they'll be turning pages feverishly, laughing at certain characters' dialogue, smiling sweetly at the end of a chapter, weeping at an unexpected death. In essence, we want the people we create to become as real as life itself to whomever meets them on the page. We want to write memorable characters.

Which begs the question, what is it exactly that makes a memorable character?

Recipe for Memorable Characters
One dosage per chapter should suffice.

Both faults and virtues. Except for those who swear by the Elsie Dinsmore books, most readers find perfect characters stuffy, unnatural, and discouraging. Why? Because we can't relate to them. It's admirable to have a character who does everything right, but it's not very honest. We're all sinners, whether some wish to accept that fact or not, and we all are going to make mistakes in turn. That's not saying your characters have to be unnaturally immoral just for the sake of "being realistic", though — find a good balance between the two. If you're struggling, just observe the people around you.

Secrets. When was the last time you met a person who told you their life's backstory and everything about them in the first five minutes of conversation? If all that information is put out in the open from the start, not only does it make for some rather dull reading, it also gives the reader little incentive to continue. After all, he or she knows everything there is to know about these characters, and they've barely finished the fifth page. Keep some things secret. Show your characters' personalities through gradual dialogue and actions, rather than a never-ending paragraph of description.

Villains with hearts. Villains who simply go around slaughtering people for absolutely no reason are not very conceivable. Even your antagonists must have some small features that endear them to your readers, or a bit of background on why he or she became this way. Somehow this makes them more deadly, because it temporarily unarms you and can make the good and evil in the story seem less clear-cut (so long as you're not portraying them as good, loving, and just misunderstood, because that ploy has been used one too many times). I can assure you that there are very few people who were born wielding an uninhibited tomahawk with designs on conquering the world. If you've ever met one, I'd love to be introduced . . . from a distance, and in full-body armor, of course.

Natural dialogue. This can be a tricky one for some — myself included — but it's a very crucial part in making your characters seem real. Stiff, queer dialogue is a dead giveaway that the author doesn't know much about how real people speak in daily life. Again, if you are having trouble with this factor, just observe your family and other people around you: how they interact with each other, and how their conversations fit together. It doesn't take too long to get the hang of it.

At the heart of it, writing unforgettable characters is all about portraying real life and different aspects of human nature. Every point in the list above can be boiled down to this simple truth. Seek to portray human nature realistically, and you'll have a cast of fantastic characters before you know it.

* * *

Elizabeth    RoseElizabeth Rose is a follower of the Most High who seeks to live every day of her life in accordance with 1 Corinthians 10:31. She loves all sorts of books (the thicker the better), is convinced that Irish Breakfast tea is the closest thing this world will get to heaven, dances until her feet ache, stays up until all hours writing, wears pearls at every opportunity, and obsesses over Les Misérables and The Scarlet Pimpernel. Her debut novel, Violets Are Blue, was published in May 2012. You can find her on Literary Lane, most likely with The Count of Monte Cristo in hand, and ink on her fingers. 

August 21, 2012

Les Miserables

I picked up the unabridged Les Miserables late last month, daunted by reports of Hugo's endless harangues, but determined that if I was going to read this thing, I was going to make it worth my while.  After all, the abridged version is only 200 pages shorter; what's a couple hundred pages?  (We'll ignore the fact that the abridged is in a completely different, probably much less weighty format.)  So, trudging a bit at the start, I began.

Last week I finished the book.  Objectively it didn't take me so very long; in fact, I read it faster than I did The Count of Monte Cristo last year.  But I confess, it felt at times as though the end would never come.  The sheer amount of wordage Hugo uses in detailing things that have almost no impact on the plot is by no means exaggerated.  He starts out the book by introducing the bishop who sets Jean Valjean on the path of morality, admits on the very first page that the following accounts have no immediate importance, and then launches into a 50+ page novella of the bishop's life.  "M'gawk!" I say, profoundly.  Such passages crop up frequently and on a variety of subjects: the battle of Waterloo and the history and purpose of convents are just two subjects that get significant page-time.  And Rachel Heffington, the Ink Pen Authoress, remarked that only Hugo could leave the reader wondering whether Marius dies in order to detail the entire history of Parisian sewers.

"Lean" is by no means the adjective to describe Hugo's style.

In reading the classics, I've learned that getting used to large chunks of dialogue-less narrative is simply a matter of survival.  What bothered me far more than Hugo's verbosity was his sad ignorance in regard to spiritual matters.  Not that this was unexpected: without making him any less culpable, it is accurate to say that he was a product of his environment.  Deism rather than Christianity was the rule of the day, as even a glance over the pages of Les Miserables will show.  Thus, while he speaks of God and even, at times, Jesus Christ, everything is flavored by his philosophy: God appears as an unknowable cosmic Power, existing in every emotion or object that is "good"; Jesus Christ is afforded no higher place than that of a "good" man.  Morality, not redemption, is to be found in the characters of the bishop and of Jean Valjean; good works and not God lead to heaven.  Again, this is present in many if not most of the classics, although I found it particularly prevalent in Hugo and his contemporary Dumas.

At this point, you're probably thinking that I must not have liked the story.  In fact, this wasn't the case at all; I have a strange ability to pick things apart and criticize, and still end by enjoying the whole.  Such was the result with Les Miserables, for despite my irritation with the two matters mentioned above, there were other things that thoroughly caught my interest and won my appreciation.  Being a character-driven writer myself, I was naturally delighted by Hugo's rich cast: in his tying together of the threads of many different lives, he's like a French Charles Dickens.  (Except that it would be Dickens who was an English Victor Hugo.)  Characters come from all over France and from all walks of life: Jean Valjean, the convict-turned-"saint"; Fantine, the miserable prostitute, and her daughter Cosette; Javert, the relentless hound of a police inspector; Marius Pontmercy, a dreamer; Enjolras, the visionary leader of a band of republicans; Thernardier, a certifiable creep; Eponine and Gavroche, Thernardier's children.  These are the main players, who emerge complete from the pages.

In fact, although Jean Valjean is a nuanced character, he is hardly even the main character for the majority of the novel.  After the infamous "hump" in the story, in which Hugo tells in painful detail all about him, Marius is the primary narrator; Gavroche, a young boy living on the streets of Paris, also gets a fair share of this page-time.  In this section Jean Valjean moves to the background, seen through other characters' eyes, until Hugo returns to him after the fall of the barricades. 

Of the good characters, I think I would class Enjolras as my favorite.  He is something of an odd choice, as he doesn't play as major a role as Marius or Cosette or Gavroche; but I still liked him and found him an intriguing character, because he is so very cold and unapproachable.  (I seem to like unapproachable, as evidenced by my liking for Uncas in The Last of the Mohicans.)  As for Jean Valjean, while I sympathized with him in a detached way, his character never fully grabbed me.  Perhaps because he had a tendency to lie down and be a doormat, and I always want to grab character-doormats and shake them.  Marius and Cosette - well, I like a good romance as much as the next gal, but I confess I had a strong to desire to knock their heads together and tell them to wake up and smell the gunpowder.

Among the villains, there were really only two of any importance: Thernardier and Javert.  The former was an excellent sneak, I must say, but it was Javert who caught my interest.  He was the perfect villain for a hero like Jean Valjean, a phenomenal villain on any level.  For he was the sort of character who seems at first like a hero: dedicated, scrupulous, upright, just, even humble.  Oddly enough, as I read, Micah 6:8 often sprang to mind; Javert did justice and walked humbly (although not with His God - it would going much, much too far to say that).  But in all that, he wasn't a hero, because he never learned mercy.  This vein through his character made his struggle with Jean Valjean all the more fascinating, and his ending the more apt.

In the end, taking the book as a whole, I did enjoy Les Miserables.  The characters and the plot, woven together until they really can't be looked at separately, were enough to hold me to the pages from laborious start to depressed-but-exultant finish.  But if you read it for yourself, don't anticipate a happy ending.

August 16, 2012

August Snippets

pinterest: the white sail's shaking
The time has rolled round once more for the fabulous Monthly Snippets meme, from Katie's Whisperings of the Pen.  For the past month I have been doing much more editing than proper writing, but as there have been some scenes that I've had to completely overhaul and rewrite, I believe I'll be able to draw together enough snippets to participate.

Also, in the process of edits for The White Sail's Shaking, I am coming to the conclusion that the story will in fact be split into two novels.  Of course this was a new and shocking idea for me, but after much agony and thought, I'm not only reconciled, but quite pleased with it.  Until I have thoughts, titles, and edits ironed out, however, the story will continue under the single title The White Sail's Shaking.  But keep an eye out for changes on that front!

august snippets

Charlie looked round when Tip swung up beside him, his disinterest warping into irritation. “What do you want?” he demanded. 

Tip’s anger was still very much present, and, what was worse, yet unvoiced; and though he knew it was unreasonable, he retorted, “What, have you taken possession of the ratlines? I think I’m free to skylark 
if I want.” 

“Skylarking is forbidden,” Charlie said, “actually.”

- the white sail's shaking 

Lewis twisted; Marta choked and turned her head as well, blinking painfully at the approaching figure. The seagulls were still reeling in a flurry of white and grey at the man’s back, and for a moment they were far clearer than he. Then she brought him into focus and saw, with a sick wrench of the knot in her throat, 
that it was Brighton.

- the white sail's shaking

The thief was on his feet; he turned sideways into an alley, pushing himself one-handed along the walls, but in a second bound Tip was on him. The coarse cloth of the man’s shirt gave in Tip’s fist with a retching sound, so he simply went deeper, digging his fingers into the back of the thief’s neck and swinging the knife around to his throat. 

“You son of a dog!” he snarled, staggering a little as the man wrenched himself about. “Stand still! Stand still, or I’ll slit your throat—your blood and not his: is that you want?”

- the white sail's shaking

"The love of the sea’s a powerful thing, but some things in life call stronger still.”

- the white sail's shaking

Some chickens, you know, are frightfully silly and will do anything to hide their eggs.  You wouldn't think it of Patsy; she seems so innocent and sweet.  But Gossamer and I held council, and decided it was best to be safe.

So today we conducted a Search.  And by Search, Father, I do not mean a bit of poking; I mean a SEARCH.  We ransacked the hen house!  Feathers flew!  Straw was overturned!  We looked in and under roosts, in cracks and crevices - nothing.  Mid-morning we abandoned the search, for Aiden said if we kept it up, none of the other hens would lay for a week.

- sunshine & gossamer

"Do you mean to say - " She could not seem to finish any of her sentences; she made a greater effort.  "You don't mean, ma'am, that you think the master of the house is - "

"A vampire?  Oh!"  Mrs. Godands sat back, letting up a string of squeals from the chair.  "Goodness, no, dear, not he.  He's as alive as I - aliver, for I'm getting up there.  No, no, not a vampire, but mightily eccentric.  I suppose all bachelors get to be just a little eccentric but he goes quite, 
quite to the edge of respectability."

- tempus regina

August 13, 2012

Salt of Description

pinterest: the white sail's shaking
As I was preparing to sit down last week and write a post on the subject of using all five senses in descriptions, I looked at my blog feed and discovered that Go Teen Writers had just done such an article.  That, ladies and gentlemen, is what I call unfair.  However, I decided I would go ahead and write my own thoughts on the matter, and in the end you can read both posts and compare.

Descriptive passages have never come to me with quite the same ease as dialogue.  Perhaps this is because dialogue tends to follow a more logical procession from point A to point B, or at least from point A to point Q back to point B, while description is more intuitive and emotional.  But difficulties notwithstanding, I do enjoy writing these scenes.  I enjoy them because it is a pleasure to take a step back or forward and examine the world in either broader scope or closer detail - and because, by looking at a scene through the eyes of a character, I see things in a different light.  (That is part of the brilliance of fictional people: not existing, they still manage to be so real.)  While of course still utilizing my own senses, I am at the same time accessing the senses of the character.  Separating those senses into the five common ones, and leaving out the sixth sense of intuition, each one provides rich means of vivifying description.

sight - touch - hearing - smell - taste

We depend very heavily upon our eyes, so it's no wonder that descriptive passages tend to be heavy on this aspect.  I don't know about you, but when I'm reading a description, no matter how well I can smell and feel and hear and even taste the object, I would very much like to know what it looks like.  The man may smell of horse and sweaty leather boot-soles - grand!  The pipe may make music like the wind across the surface of a lake - brilliant!  The decorated cake may taste like the cover of a hardback book - disgusting!  And yet, without a few choice visionary descriptions, it is difficult to bring to the reader's mind exactly the same image that was in the writer's thoughts.  I can imagine a great deal about how the man in question feels about bathing, and even create my own mental image of him; but my imagination is probably quite faulty.

Descriptions based on sight tend to get a bad rap, I find.  This is reasonable, as many take this as the easy course and write off a hasty description about how the man is 5'9" and tanned (or is that dirt?) and has piercing green eyes, which evokes nothing.  However, it is possible to go to far to the other extreme and eliminate all sight-based descriptions.  Strike a good balance!

The next four senses are, I think, the most fun and provide more food for the imagination and for one's originality.  This is especially so if you mix and match them, and do not simply use them in obvious settings.  Of course if you're describing a stew, you'll want to describe its taste - but what about its appearance, or the sound it makes falling into the bowl, or its texture?  If a flower is in question, appearance and smell are obvious.  But how do the petals feel against your skin?  How does the wind sound thrumming over its leaves?

Another good thing to do, and one which is used powerfully by such writers as Rosemary Sutcliff, is to link senses together in descriptions.  Colors can be used beautifully in these descriptions.  Something might taste scarlet - similar, perhaps, to saying it tastes like blood, but far more evocative in the writing setting.  Perhaps the flower smells the way honey tastes on a day in midsummer.  A laugh can sound like silk running through one's fingers.  Oftentimes these sorts of descriptions leap to one's mind and can't be actively sought out, but if you're watching for them, you'll see them more frequently.

Caveat!  (I do tend to have caveats, don't I?)  Descriptions of any one kind ought to be used sparingly, sprinkled rather than dumped into a story.  Too much of a good thing is still too much, as they say.  These are thoughts to keep somewhere in the back of one's mind during difficult descriptive passages, not to have always and obsessively in the forefront of one's thoughts.  I find they're like salt: useful in small doses, not so useful in large.  ...Unless you're Sutcliff, because she pulled it off amazingly.

August 6, 2012

All Your Might

I came across a quote today.  I was already familiar with it, and probably you are as well, but it sprang out at that moment because I happened to be thinking about working on projects I didn't want to be working on; I was, in fact, pretty actively procrastinating - if that is even possible.  So the quote was very pointed indeed.

whatever your hand finds to do, 
do it with all your might.

ecclesiastes 9:10

Granted, the Preacher was not exactly a cheery fellow; judging from the whole of Ecclesiastes, and from scholars' arguments in favor of Solomon being the author, it appears that he was a world-weary and perhaps God-starved man looking at life through jaded eyes.  His proverbs tend to be negative; the full verse quoted above reads, "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom."  Not particularly bright and sunshiny.  It sounds almost like Russian literature.

And yet it is nonetheless true, and for a much more glorious reason than the Preacher brought out.  Another quote sprang to mind as I read this one:

so, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

first corinthians 10:31

The two verses mesh; they complement each other.  The Preacher, world-weary and God-starved as he may have been, was yet a wise man: it is true that whatever our hands find to do, we ought to do with all our might.  But not merely because we will eventually no longer be able to do it.  We put our might into these things for a greater reason; we have a higher goal, we march to a more joyful beat.  And that reason, that goal, that beat, is the glory of God.

It is not only our duty, but our greatest good and, we hope and pray, our greatest happiness to glorify God.  We were made to glorify Him.  What does the catechism say?  "Man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever," or, as some would rephrase it, " glorify God by enjoying Him forever."  This is an ongoing, lifelong, daily process, worked out in our most common actions - in our praise and prayer and meditation, and also in our work and our rest.  I Corinthians and Ecclesiastes can be put together, I think, because whatever our hands find to do, we do it with all our might for the glory of God.  

Most of us on this block of the blogosphere are writers.  Some are published; some aren't.  Some are treated by acquaintances as though "writer" were synonymous with "lazy bum."  In this context, I don't think it really matters.  The point is that, no matter what stage of life we are in, no matter the praise or disapprobation of others, we must do what we do with all our might.  If we're putting our hand to this plow - to any plow - we aren't meant to look back.  To co-op a third and totally extra-biblical quote, we shouldn't know how to dabble in things we should be earnestly pursuing.  Perhaps "dabble" shouldn't be a word in the Christian's vocabulary at all.  Labor and perseverance, prayer and praise - those are words much better suited to us.

kudos if you know the reference of that third quote

August 2, 2012

Beautiful People - Sunshine

pinterest: sunshine & gossamer
It's August!  Who would have thought it?  July seemed at once very long and far too short, for now the summer is drawing to a close.  Eep!

Anyhow, I thought I would usher in the new month with a Beautiful People.  (Because my brain is such a cauldron of Tempus Regina ideas and White Sail's edits that it's not good for much else.  Oh dear.)  Last month, with Georgie and Sky's free-write edition, I did Regina; this month, still using the free-write, I decided to go with a much lighter subject: Sunshine, of my in-dabbling-progress story Sunshine & Gossamer.  This is the novel I relax with - a dash of whimsy and childhood and kitty whiskers - and while it is not properly "in progress," I thought it about time to introduce the main character.


1. How old is she?

I haven't been quite able to pin down Sunshine's age; in some ways she seems older than she really is, and in others she's very much a child.  I would say that, upon her arrival to Farrowdell, Wales, at the beginning of the story, she is ten or eleven.

2. What does she look like?  What color are her hair and eyes?

Sunshine's looks are fitting to her name: she has tawny-blonde hair that bobs in loose curls halfway down her shoulder-blades, long, darker eyelashes, and eyes that are typically blue with a lighter ring around the pupils.  She is naturally pale, but days spent outside give her some color; in the summer she freckles across her shoulders, but not on her face.  Sunshine is not tall, but she has long legs - good for scrambling up trees - and her frocks are always getting too short without her ever seeming to gain much height.

3. Where does she live?  Describe her surroundings.

Sunshine comes from the suburbs of London, where her mother and father owned a small home, but she now lives with her Aunt Katherine on a farm in Wales, Farrowdell.  (At least, that's how Sunshine pronounces it.)  Farrowdell sits on more land than Sunshine had seen in the first decade of her life, so that the house, a cottage surrounded by a wooden fence and a tangle of white roses, seems insignificant.  From the little courtyard, you can look between the fence-slats and see, straight ahead, a rise in the unpaved road that winds to the village; to the left, the "new" barn sitting atop a rise in the grass, and some of the pastures beyond it; and to the right, a tumble of unbroken grass and a stream. 

4. Does she own a pet?

Before he left to join the airforce, Sunshine's father gave her a little black kitten whom she named Gossamer.  However, he's not exactly a pet: he's a friend and a person, with a strong will of his own.  She does eventually have the responsibility of taking care of the chickens, and she considers those her "pets."  She tries to name them all, but they look so much alike that the names get mixed.

5. What is her absolute favorite book?

Treasure Island, by R.L. Stevenson.  She has a great longing to sail the Spanish Main (without quite knowing where or what it is) and engage Barbecue in a naval battle worthy of the history books.  She would defeat him, of course, but she thinks she would be merciful and not have him walk the plank.

6. What does she do on a sunny day?  A rainy day?

There are more things to do at Farrowdell than time in any one day to do them.  On sunny days she might float boats in the pond, or carry an armload of books to the Reading Tree, or tag along behind Aiden, the young man who runs Farrowdell.  On a rainy day she might play in the courtyard and get good and sopping wet, or race down to the Reading Tree because she just recalled she left something important there, or she might go up and play with Gossamer in her room.

7. Is there something of which she is particularly afraid?

The mail.  On the days when she is around to see the mail delivered, she is always afraid that it will have a letter or telegram announcing her father's death.  Depending on her mood, she can also be afraid of thunderstorms.  And wasps.

8. Where is her favorite place to be?

She is very fond of her bedroom, though it isn't anything special; she hauled an empty crate up to the window and can now sit and look out over Farrowdell.  This is how she likes to watch the sunrise, when she can crawl out of bed early enough to see it.  She also enjoys being at the stream or the pond.

9. What are her favourite clothes?

Sunshine does not often pay much attention to her clothes, but she does enjoy a shopping excursion to the village.  Currently she has a grey Sunday dress and three every-day dresses: dark grey, brown, and apple-green-and-cream.  I very much fear that the apple green won't last her long.  Besides these, Sunshine is awfully fond of her black wellies.

10. Besides Gossamer, is she fond of animals?

Very much so.  She enjoys looking at the cows, though she finds them a little daunting; she stays clear of the bull.  The chickens are so fat and fluffy that she frequently gives in to the desire to cuddle them, for which she gets thoroughly pecked.  Farrowdell also has one old sow (very cranky and ugly: she's got warts) and two mice behind the "old" barn who appear but rarely, and seem to use it as a sort of country-home.  There is a spider who lives outside of Sunshine's window, and she's even fond of it (as long as it stays there, on the outside). 
meet the authoress
I am a writer of historical fiction and fantasy, scribbling from my home in the United States. More importantly, I am a Christian, which flavors everything I write. My debut novel, "The Soldier's Cross," was published by Ambassador Intl. in 2010.
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published writings

The Soldier's Cross: Set in the early 15th Century, this is the story of an English girl's journey to find her brother's cross pendant, lost at the Battle of Agincourt, and of her search for peace in the chaotic world of the Middle Ages.
finished writings

Tempus Regina:Hurled back in time and caught in the worlds of ages past, a Victorian woman finds herself called out with the title of the time queen. The death of one legend and the birth of another rest on her shoulders - but far weightier than both is her duty to the brother she left alone in her own era. Querying.
currently writing

Wordcrafter: "One man in a thousand, Solomon says / will stick more close than a brother. / And it's worthwhile seeking him half your days / if you find him before the other." Justin King unwittingly plunges into one such friendship the day he lets a stranger come in from the cold. Wordcount: 124,000 words

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