Danger in the Patchwork Clearing (a narrative poem)

Danger in the Patchwork Clearing
by Kelly F. Barr

Bramble Fleetwood and Flip Gatherson did somersaults among the wildflowers in the Patchwork Clearing. Bramble’s lower jaw dropped and his eyes widened as a shadow passed over them. A chill ran down his spine as he recognized Crooked Claw Fellingward.

“Flip, run! Hawk!” Bramble scrambled back toward Oak Leaf Forest, and Flip struggled to keep up.
“Stay low and don’t stretch your body.” Bramble puffed out as he ran. How had they gotten so far from Oak Leaf Forest?
He could hear his father’s stern voice in his head, “Bramble, never wander into the Patchwork Clearing. It’s too dangerous.”

Crooked Claw screeched and Bramble looked over his shoulder. The hawk was inches above Flip, who desperately weaved and dragged his pudgy belly across the ground. Crooked Claw made a grab for Flip but missed as Flip rolled to the side.

Bramble tripped over something — rocks! He stopped, picked up a rock, and hurled it at Crooked Claw. He picked up another and another and threw them as hard and quickly as he could. One bounced off the hawk’s beak. Another rolled off his back.

Bramble couldn’t remain in this place much longer. The rocks managed to slow Crooked Claw down enough for Flip to gain a bit of a lead. Bramble started to run again. Almost there — if they could just get to the forest.

Bramble burst over the line, under cover of the Oak trees. He turned and screamed, “Nooo,” as Crooked Claw grasped Flip and lifted him off the ground. Bramble watched in horror, but Flip struggled in the hawk’s grip. Flip pounded his fists on the talons that held him, and suddenly Flip was falling. Crooked Claw descended right above him reaching for his falling prey.

Flip hit the ground and immediately made a break for the forest. Crooked Claw was bearing down on Flip. Would Flip make it in time?

Bramble heard a commotion in the trees directly above him. Father, and Flip’s father, and several other men from the squirrel colony were slinging acorns, from a large slingshot, at Crooked Claw. They slung six acorns at one time and hit Crooked Claw’s wing. The wing crumpled and the hawk made an emergency crash landing as Flip crossed under the Oak trees.

Bramble and Flip scooted farther under the Oaks. Their fathers stood before them. How had they come down the tree so quickly?

“Bramble, are you hurt?”
“No, Father.”
Flip’s father checked Flip over. The two dads looked at their sons. “Suppose you two have had a good fright and now know why you’re not to play in the Patchwork Clearing?”
Both boys nodded.
“Good. Now for the next two weeks, the two of you will be teaching your little brothers how to hide nuts and acorns.”
Again, Bramble and Flip nodded. Anything would be better than running for their lives.

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I Need a Hero

What has happened to the heroes in today’s literature and movies? Why are being bombarded by antiheroes?

Literature and art have always have a profound effect on our society and literature and art used to have high standards — standards that held them to producing beauty and goodness. Sadly, as I see our society turning from true goodness and beauty, now much of our literature and art is following the example of society instead of trying to uphold their higher standard.

According to Merriam-Webster, a hero is: 1a) a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability; 1b) an illustrious warrior; 1c) a person admired for achievements and noble qualities; and 1d) one who shows great courage.

According to Merriam-Webster, heroic means: 1) of or relating to courageous people or the mythological or legendary figures of antiquity; 2a) exhibiting or marked by courage and daring; 2b) supremely noble or self-sacrificing; 3a) of impressive size, power, extent, or effect; and 3b) of great intensity : extreme.

In days of old, our heroes had clear heroic qualities and that is what made women swoon over them or fall in love with them. I believe it is safe to say that still today, most young ladies and women hope to find their “knight in shining armor”; their “hero”; a man who will treat them with care and respect, who will protect them.

Some examples of historical heroes are: George Washington, Martin Luther King, Jr., Alexander the Great, Geronimo, and Spartacus. A recent real-life hero is William Kyle Carpenter.

Then there are Greek Mythological Heroes such as: Achilles, Hercules, Jason of the Argonauts, Odysseus, Perseus, and Prometheus.

There are literary heroes like: Beowulf, Frodo Baggins, Robin Hood, Percy Jackson, and Thor.

Movie and Television heroes include: Zorro, The Lone Ranger, Cordell Walker of the Texa Rangers, Knight Rider,  James Bond, Indiana Jones, Han Solo, Ben Hur, Rocky Balboa, and Aragorn.

My list is far from exhaustive, but these characters were strong and yet sensitive and they were willing to risk their lives for others.

Now here is Merriam-Webster’s definition of an antihero: a protagonist or notable figure who is conspicuously lacking in heroic qualities.

I think we need to bring the true heroes back to our literature, television and movies. We need to see more characters showing goodness, caring, and self-sacrifice.

I am pickier than I have ever been about what I read and what I watch because there is enough bad news on the news everyday — stuff that’s going on in the real world. I want to have my entertainment saturated with goodness. I also hope that society at large feels the current void of true heroes and seeks for more truly good things to saturate their minds with.

Last month the box office results showed that, apparently, I’m not the only one craving more goodness in my entertainment, when “I Can Only Imagine” grossed 17 million dollars its opening weekend and continued to do well for at least two weeks after that to the shock and surprise of Hollywood.

I encourage you to look for true heroes in your literature and television and movies. The true heroes weren’t and aren’t perfect. They had weaknesses and flaws, but their strengths always showed through.

I Need a Hero

It was a Super Saturday After All

Have you ever planned and paid to go somewhere and been really excited about it only to have your plans changed by unfortunate circumstances?

Well, that’s what happened to me for this year’s Lancaster Christian Writer’s Super Saturday Conference. There was a fantastic line-up of speakers planned with some great seminars on the schedule. I was extremely excited that there was to be a historical novelist in the lineup since that is what I write. I looked forward to scheduling an appointment with her. Well, before I had even sent in my registration, she had to withdraw from the line-up due to a family emergency. I was disappointed but prayed that her family would be all right.

Then I registered, still looking forward to several of the scheduled seminars, and just days before the conference, another speaker, who was going to give one of the two seminars I was most interested in, had to drop out due to a health crisis. I prayed that the Lord would bring strength and healing to this speaker.

I began to wonder if I would get anything out of the conference. There was only one seminar left that I was looking forward to. Would it be worth the cost and time?

So, I prayed that God would direct me in which seminars to attend, in addition to the one I knew I would attend, and trusted that He would make it all worth it. Then this past Saturday, I drove to the conference not knowing what to expect, and found blessing in just seeing some of my wonderful writing friends that I hadn’t seen in a while.

When the conference began, one of my dear writing friends, Shelleen, sang a humorous song, to the tune of “Jingle Bells”, that she had written about the writing life, making us all laugh. Then the keynote speaker spoke, and I knew God was going to bless this day. The keynote, Pierre Eade, gave us such an inspiring and encouraging message to begin our day, and as I looked over the schedule, I seemed to know exactly which seminars I was to attend.

The day was indeed blessed, even as one speaker made me groan as she spoke of threading our backstory throughout our novel and I realized that I had begun to do that and somewhere along the line had dropped the thread. Now I have just seven chapters to finish the novel’s first draft, so I now know my revision and edit will be in depth and somewhat time consuming–more than I had anticipated. But that is why I attend these conferences — to learn more about how to write to the best of my ability so that I can produce the best novel that I am capable of producing. So, thank you Gayle Roper, who also taught another wonderful seminar I attended, providing valuable information and encouragement, as well as strong examples to read. As a matter of fact, after the second seminar she taught, I rushed back to the bookstore to purchase a book she mentioned that I remembered seeing in the book store when I had shopped earlier!

I have found that writing in Deep POV, (Deep Point of View), really does draw a reader deeper into the characters of a story and makes the book harder to put down, so I have been trying to master writing Deep POV in my own writing. However, I still had doubts that I really understood it and was actually accomplishing it, so I attended a seminar that was all about writing in Deep POV. I left that seminar affirmed and encouraged that I truly did understand Deep POV and had become fairly good at using it in my own writing — thank you, Donna Brennan.

Finally, the last seminar I attended, I simply attended out of curiosity. Shawn Smucker spoke about Speculative Fiction. I haven’t been a big Speculative Fiction reader in the past, but have been reading more of the Fantasy genre and Fractured Fairy Tales, (retellings of Fairy Tales), that fall under the Speculative Fiction umbrella. Therefore, I decided to attend this seminar simply to learn more about this group of genres. It was a great seminar as I feel like I now have a greater understanding of what Speculative Fiction is, and because Shawn shared some of his knowledge and experience with both traditional and indie publishing.

I love it when something that looks like it’s falling apart is blessed by God to make it something so valuable.

Bride Tree by J.P. Robinson

Bride Tree (Secrets of Versailles Book 2) by [Robinson, JP]

Bride Tree “Secrets of Versailles” Book II by J.P. Robinson is an epic tale of Queen Marie-Antoinette during 1789, when France is reeling from a civil war between its social classes.

This is the second book in the “Secrets of Versailles” series by J.P. Robinson. The first was Twice Born. You can read my review of Twice Born here.

Bride Tree is a story filled with French history, action, romance, betrayal, suspense, and allegory. Characters stretch across the social classes. Some I hated, some I loved, and some I had mixed feelings for. I identified with some of the characters, found it hard to understand others, and pitied others. I cheered for some of the characters. I laughed and cried. To me, that is the mark of a great story — it grabbed my emotions and touched my heart. The characters of Bride Tree will forever remain dear to my heart.

I also love the cover of this book. I find it beautiful and eye-catching.

I highly recommend Bride Tree to adults who love to read historical stories, especially epic accounts. I recommend Bride Tree to adults who like to be emotionally gripped by a book and who enjoy a book that keeps you turning pages — a book you just can’t put down.

This book may also be appropriate for some young adults, but, a word of caution: this book contains some graphic violence and some sexual scenes and innuendo.