Elevator Pitch

Photo by Charlotte May on Pexels.com
A summary of my first novel that can be told during an elevator ride.

What if, at the tender age of sixteen, you suddenly found yourself responsible for the government of an entire realm? And what if your innate magical abilities surfaced at the same time? Welcome to the world of Enoch Northward, an orphan boy whose secure and predictable life has just been turned upside-down.

Enoch returns home from the Resurrection Festival to discover that his beloved guardian, the Baron-Knight of the Northern Marches, has passed away. Enoch must now act as Baron-Knight in his stead. Lacking confidence in his ability to lead others, Enoch neither expected nor desired this heavy responsibility to be placed upon his shoulders.

Enoch trespasses into the forbidden Darkenwood Forest and uses his emerging wyldling powers to unlock a mysterious portal that connects Tehara to Earth, thus forging a fraternal bond between him and a girl named Annabelle. Grieving and desperate for a family, Enoch wants Annabelle in his life and is tempted to take risks and break the rules to bring her to Tehara. However, time is running out, because the dreaded Commander Storm –- the superior officer of all baron-knights and Enoch’s mentor — is on his way to supervise Enoch in his new position. To make matters worse, one of the men under Enoch’s command is a murderer who is scheming with a sorcerer to ensnare the youth.

Enoch is presented with two choices: heed his elders’ warning or follow his heart.

The first installment of a fantasy series with a strong Christian theme, Wyldling Snare is a novel that teens and young adults will enjoy. Set in a world where magic is possible, dangerous beasts roam the wilderness, and filled with fully developed, quirky characters, Wyldling Snare is the adventure of a youth’s struggle to follow in the footsteps of his late guardian while enemies plot to destroy everything he holds dear.

It still needs work, but you can’t fix an empty page, right?

Father’s Day

A few Februaries back, I took a selfie just before the Clean Lake Alliance’s Frozen Assets 5K run on Lake Mendota. I stared at the photo, thinking: “Dang. I look just like my dad.”

I look like my dad!

It was, simultaneously, a hilarious and sobering moment.

Over the years I began to recognize more and more of my father’s traits in me, and also those of my grandfathers. Some good, and others…not so favorable. I am blessed to have both sets of grandparents still living, and I like to think I know them pretty well. I believe I got my “snark” and teasing humor from my maternal grandfather and my penchant for careful deliberation and stocky frame from my paternal grandfather. My grandfathers differ in their personalities, but they both are good, hard-working men who provided for their families, remained faithful to their wives, and are generous with their grandchildren. They both were avid deer-hunters in their day and love the outdoors. I practically grew up running around outside, playing with my cousins in Rothschild or roaming the shores of Tippecanoe Lake. One day, I will share stories from my childhood showing just how large a role both sets of my grandparents and the outdoors played in my life. 

My father also worked hard to provide for his family. He worked rotating shifts at a paper carton packaging plant for over thirty-five years. It wore him down, sometimes. I got a taste of what he endured when I worked at the same company as a vacation replacement for the regular employees during the summers of my college years. This stint convinced me pretty quickly that I disliked factory work. And yet, my dad put up with it until he was sixty-two, when he retired. This is a man who double-majored in history and political science and has a college degree from UW-Madison. He thought about becoming a lawyer or a teacher, but would have loved nothing more than to coach children’s sports teams, or so he claims.

Throughout my childhood, my parents bickered often and still argue quite frequently but they remain together to this day in spite of all their disagreements. I learned a lot about forbearance, patience, and forgiveness from my parents. Unlike my mother, whose fury is quickly spent in a verbal tirade, my father is not a particularly vocal man and tends to quietly hold a grudge. The words that spring to mind when I think of him are taciturn and stubborn. Sometimes, I joke that he’s obsessive compulsive because of the weird things he did and still does. For example, cutting down the ends of chip and bread bags as their contents depleted. Replacing a broken toilet tank-lever with fishing wire attached to a bobber. Turning on all of the televisions and radios in the house–at the same time–and watching or listening to none of them. Or affixing power strips to wooden furniture in such a way that it wrecks the finish. Just thinking about some of his odd habits makes me smile, even as it drives my mother crazy.

It is sometimes difficult for me to spend time with my father. Not because we don’t get along, but because I feel we have little to talk about. My mother and I can easily find things to discuss: church, school, children, baking, flowers, etc. But my father? When I call my parents, he hands me off to my mother after five minutes, tops, of awkward conversation. 

At first glance, my father and I appear to have few interests in common. In his youth, he was a decent student and participated in football, softball, volleyball, and probably other sports I can’t remember. In my youth, I pursued scholarship above all else and dropped gym class the first chance I got in high school. He loves watching most flavors of sports on the television. I would rather read a book (so would my mother). He diligently mows the lawn and shovels snow off the walk, each in their appropriate season. The grass would go to seed in the summer and the driveway would become a slush-pit in the winter, I fear, if the mowing and the shoveling were left to me. 

Upon further reflection, however, my father and I are more alike than we are different. We would manage quite well sitting in silence together. Although there are those who say otherwise, I am not a great talker. My father detests traveling; he won’t drive any further than across town to see his parents. And just forget about him making the two-hour trip to visit his eldest daughter. Fortunately, I have a husband who is not averse to driving, otherwise we would never go anywhere, either. Like my father, I tend to be a homebody. I could contentedly sit at home for an entire weekend without going anywhere and not feel as if I am missing out on life. In high school, I acted in several plays. Only minor character roles, but I had fun. My father was once in a play, too, but he played a major role. I am told that he was an excellent Charlie Brown. I can imagine it.

Looking back on my childhood, I recall the time I spent with my father. The ice-fishing expeditions in my snowmobile suit, mainly spent exploring the frozen lake or reading books instead of staring at a tip-up. Traipsing through the woods with our beagle, Shambles. Playing “catch” with the burgundy MacGregor baseball mitt and the green-handled aluminum bat I got for one birthday or another. And then there were the softball games at ballparks, where I seldom actually watched him play…yeah. That last example was more like time spent “adjacent” to my father. But I still went. And sometimes watched parts of the game. 

Of course, as I grew up we spent less time together. But I knew he still cared about me, in his way. I remember him trying to counsel me through the first boyfriend breakup when I was sixteen. Me, lying in my bed, weeping, and he’s droning on about how so-and-so is nearly a man–the boy in question was nearly two years older than me–and I had to focus on school, etc. He even quoted “Que Sera, Sera” to me. To this day, I don’t know if my mother forced him to try and comfort me or if it was his own idea. Either way, I appreciated the sentiment, if not the manner of delivery. 

On this day when we honor our fathers, I have shared a little bit about mine. At times, he was emotionally distant, as I suppose many fathers are with their children, however this never affected me adversely. I knew my father was always there.

Dad, I realize that you will probably never see this post–you don’t much like reading–but know that I appreciate your sacrifices over the years for me and my brothers. 

I love you, Dad.

Fun with Character Art

My day has…simply slipped away.

Now that I have figured out how to use the Artbreeder website (more or less, LOL), I have spent way too much time trying to design the characters in Wyldling Snare. It can be frustrating and fun, in equal measure. Sometimes you create a masterpiece. Other times, you are rewarded with a hysterical horror-show.

It tends to be more frustrating when you want to breed a character with animalistic features. All I can say is, thank God for the existence of MS Paint. This archaic app is very helpful when you want your white-furred wolf-like male character to have red hair but not look effeminate. Surprise, surprise: the more humanoid “furry” characters on Artbreeder tend to be female. Fortunately, my point-of-view characters are either human or human-looking.

Without further ado, I present here the fruits of my labor.

Meet Enoch Northward, the sixteen-year-old protagonist of Wyldling Snare. He enjoys long hikes through the woods and dining al fresco with friends in forest glades beneath the shadow of the Wall. His hobbies include traveling through magical portals to other planets, hunting down murderous renegades, and mastering his Wyldling abilities so that he can learn to fly. Enoch is not a fan of his new position as the Baron-Knight of the Northern Marches, but he is determined to give it his very best effort.

Here is the apprentice sorcerer, William Dulciber, in all of his sullen glory. Also sixteen years of age, he is happiest when studying physics and advanced mathematics — disciplines of which his master does not approve. Squeamish in the face of suffering and bloodshed, William dreams of the day when he advances to full Arkhabast like his master and is free to practice sorcery in a manner that works best for him. However, his master has given him a very important task: capture the young Baron-Knight for their mysterious employer, the Dreadlord.

Resident of Earth, Annabelle Leigh Wells wants more than anything to escape the dreariness of a Wisconsin winter and experience the types of adventures she’s read about in fantasy novels. When a boy from the planet Tehara contacts her through a wormhole, she believes that her dreams have finally come true. Little does she realize that she is about to get more adventure than she bargained for!

I will save the rest of the images I created for the next time. Stay tuned for my next enthralling blog entry. Feel free to comment.

Have a great day, everyone!