Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!


I love these Normal Rockwell paintings depicting two very different WWII Thanksgivings. 

I hope your day is filled with family, good food, and many blessings!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Dream Casting

Today I'm celebrating because I finished all the line edits of my book! It was a mountain of work, but thanks to my awesome family, I plowed through it in 1 week. Hooray! Now all that's left is proofing, last minute little edits, and then I can publish!

So, to celebrate, I thought I'd share my dream casts for my main characters, Alex Moon and Lonnie Hamilton. Exciting!

Picking out faces was something I did at the very beginning of writing my book, The War Between Us. It really helped to have a face I felt came the closest to what I imagined my character looking like. It helped me visualize them in a concrete, realistic way. Unfortunately, my main characters' looks tend to be very allusive to me for much of the writing process - side characters not as much, so having pictures helps as I write.

If my book was to be made into a movie (seriously, that would be so awesome, but also very weird!), I've got just the right people picked out. Here they are:

Alexander Moon
played by Lee Je Hoon

For Alex, who is Korean American, I pictured him as kind of the cute "boy next door" but with some complexities in his facial expressions. I thought Lee Je Hoon captured that look really well. He also has this great ability to pull off suave and casual which I imaged my character, Alex, doing. 

The inspiration for my character's killer smile actually comes from Jang Geun Suk in the K-drama "You're Beautiful". For half the show he's all frowny and grumpy, but then there's this glorious moment where he turns on this brilliant smile, and his whole face lights up. Watching it, I actually jumped back a little and said, "Whoa!" - the change was so dramatic. It blew me away that someone's face could change so drastically, and I knew I wanted to use that affect for Alex. :-)

Lonnie Hamilton
played by Susan Peters

For Lonnie, I pictured someone with light hair and a kind, pretty face. I also wanted to find a girl that was more old-fashioned looking, and it's very hard to find that in modern girls, funnily enough. I loved the sweet innocence of Susan Peter's face, and she's very close to how I picture my character, Lonnie. 

Unfortunately, this casting would be impossible. Susan Peters is deceased and if she were alive, she'd be quite old today. Aah, well. Dream casting is fun even if it can never be a reality! 

My book is scheduled to be released December 7th. Look for it on Amazon! I'll be putting an announcement and a link on here too. I'm so excited! It's been a year and a half of a lot of work and a ton of perseverance with a bunch of support from loving friends and family. I feel very blessed for having such a big dream of mine come true.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Books and Fabric

A friend of mine posted this link from the fabulous website The Art of Manliness. It's a list of the 50 best books for men and boys - such a fabulous list. I'm happy I've read so many of them myself and have gotten my son off to a good start. Check out the list yourself. There are a lot of great ones!

On the subject of fabric, I tried to get a start on some sewing during my writing break, but I just got my line edits back this week, so I didn't make much progress, but I did do some!

 Here's the fabric I'm using for my son's 18th century boy's shirt. It's a blue checked linen. I'm so excited!

I like to take my sewing in steps so it's not so overwhelming. Wash and iron the fabric. Cut out the pattern pieces, pin and cut out the fabric, mark the fabric, then finally sew. It may take me longer, but at least I get it done, step by step!

My fabric pieces are cut out now, but until my book is published, that's the way they'll stay, I'm afraid. Ah well. It'll get done soon.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

5 Excellent Historical Fiction Books

I was going back through my list of "Read" books on Goodreads and came across a WWII YA Historical Fiction that I had loved, but since forgotten the title of. Then I thought that I should do a list of little-known historical fiction books that I've loved to share with you. The first slot goes to the book that inspired this list.

1. Climbing the Stairs by Padma Venkatraman

This book was entrancing to me. It's a book set at the beginning of WWII and takes place in India. It's the story of a girl whose father receives a brain injury and their family must move in with relatives, where things are done differently and are fraught with trials and frustrations. It's such a beautiful, moving book about a part of the world that is rarely talked about in conjunction with the second world war.

2. Death Comes as Epiphany by Sharan Newman

This book is the first in a long mystery series about Catherine LeVendeur, a girl living in 12th century France. She is about to take her vows as a nun, but ensuing events prevent this and take her life down a vastly different path. The historical detail is breathtaking and wonderful, and Ms. Newman delves into some little known and somewhat controversial topics in a few of the books. I found them delightful and mind-opening, especially as its a time period I don't usually read about. Catherine is a wonderful character, and what I love is that the author doesn't keep Catherine in a bubble. She lives her life, marries, has children, moves around, and behaves as a person should, all while solving mysteries within her life's parameters. I found this quite refreshing!

3. Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes

This book is already a classic, but I feel like no one talks about it anymore. I've read this one several times throughout my life and love it every time. It's a story about misfortune, grudges, forgiveness, fear, discovery, and coming of age all within the backdrop of the beginnings of the Revolutionary War. Johnny Tremain is a difficult character to truly love because he's grouchy and proud, but through his trials he grows a great deal. It's a fantastic adventure that I will continue to enjoy for many years to come.

4. Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear

Okay, I have a soft spot for historical mystery series, but I couldn't pass the first book up in this series. While I don't agree with the direction the author takes the series in the last few books, what I really love about this series is the level of historical detail. She delves into the many issues that faced Great Britain during and at the end of WWI. It's really wonderful to read such fantastic quality of research in a book, and Ms. Winspear does it amazingly well.

5. Guinevere by Sharan Newman

This is another book by Sharan Newman about Guinevere, the future wife of King Arthur. I found this book so fascinating because in the book, Guinevere is a girl and she lives during a time in Britain where the Roman culture and the old druid beliefs clash a little bit. I loved how Roman her home is with mosaic floors, and how she observes the old rituals of the servants. I just found it such a fascinating snapshot of time in British history with a legendary woman at its center. Arthur makes an appearance at one point in the book, but you'll have to read it to see how everything unfolds. :-)

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

18th Century Breeches - Completed!!!

18th century fall-front boy breeches

Yes, it's unbelievable, but I finally, finally finished those darn breeches for my son! It's a good thing I made them too big. He keeps growing, but I don't sew any faster. What held me up all these long months, besides working feverishly on my book, was those darn buttons. All 14 of them. I had to cover each bone mold with fabric, then sew it on the breeches, then cut and finish the buttonholes. All 14 of them!!! It was tedious, but I'm sure you've gotten the clue already. :-)

I'm pretty proud of them overall. I'm always a little astonished at the end of any pants/trouser/breeches making, because they seem like such a difficult piece of clothing to make, but somehow they turn out in the end. And they look like pants!

My son is so thrilled. When I showed him the finished breeches, he smiled and said, "Good! Are you going to finish my shirt soon?" Ugh. Poor kid. He's had to wait ages. The shirt is the next hurdle. Every time I look at the pattern by Kannick's Korner I go through some mild fuming. Why does it have to look so complicated? (It's got 4 gussets! Maybe more... It just seems so unreasonable.) I'm half tempted to just buy a different, more simple pattern like from Past Patterns, just to get my feet wet. I'm bound and determined to sew like a madwoman this winter. I really want us all to be dressed for the 18th Century Market Fair at Ft. Frederick next year!

Back of the breeches
Detail of buttonholes and ties at the knee
(see video below!)

Detail of the font button flap with a peek at the back lacing holes
The pockets are partially open, but buttoned. An interesting design.

I found this video by Ft. Ticonderoga on doing correct 18th century buttonholes to be very helpful, and I think my buttonholes have turned out vastly better than ones I've done before. I didn't follow his instructions exactly, since I did them from memory off his video, but adding in the bar tack does make the holes look nicer. I'll have to try them using his whole method next time for my son's waistcoat, when I get around to making that.

I do still need to whip stitch the inside seams and then wash them to get rid of my markings, but really, they are wearable, and that's all I care about! Whew!

WWII Fun & Awe

I had a couple links to share that I've come across recently.

One is for a Studio C comedy sketch set in WWII. It's pretty funny!

And second is this photographer, Marc Wilson's work capturing abandoned WWII military structures throughout Europe. Haunting, but beautiful too. Click here to check out the amazing photos.