Tag Archives: The Chronicles of Narnia

For Lovers of Time Travel


castle turretWriting, or reading, a story set in any historical era is traversing time in a way, as would be a futuristic setting, but I’m referring to actual time travel stories. In my Somewhere in Time series the boundaries of time and space are hurdled in various manners. This idea has always fascinated me, also of discovering new lands. I’ve been seeking Narnia since childhood and never gave up the quest. C.S. Lewis is my favorite author and has been since I read his Chronicles of Narnia. I’m nothing if not devoted. Any fellow Narnians out there?

“Things never happen the same way twice.” C.S. Lewis, Prince Caspian; The Return to Narnia

A concept I bear in mind while writing.

Door, Old, Fantasy, Halloween, Gothic Style, Mystery, Spooky, Wood, Medieval, Doorway (2)The theme behind my Somewhere in Time series is that the story opens in an old home, so far Virginia (I’m a Virginian with deep roots in this richly historic state), and then transports the reader back in time either in the same wonderful old house (I love old homes), or another place entirely such as the Scottish Highlands. As is the case in Somewhere My Lass and Somewhere in the HighlandsBoth stories convey the characters to and from 17th century Scotland via a portal in time. The unifying characteristic of the series is the paranormal/time travel element, but the stories themselves aren’t necessarily tied together, though some are, and will be. It’s the encompassing theme that matters. Doors play a big role in this series. Behind every door lies a secret, an intriguing puzzle to be solved, so these romances are also suspenseful mysteries.

Fergus, the unlikely hero of my latest release, Somewhere in the Highlandsheads up this fast-paced Sci-Fi Fantasy Time Travel Romance. Untold hours of scheming, dreaming, writing and revising went into the story. Yes, there will be another title in this continuing saga. Don’t ask me when, but plotting is underway. Somewhere in the Highlands is book three in the seriesfollowing Somewhere My Loveand is the sequel to Somewhere My LassSomewhere the Bells Ring is a hauntingly beautiful Christmas romance.

Blurb for Somewhere in the Highlands: 

The MacDonalds are coming! When Elizabeth MacDonald (a.k.a Beezus Mac) thrusts a sealed gold box at Angus Fergus amid panicked requests for him to hide the stolen artifact, she has no idea the ancient cloth it contains bestows unearthly powers. Red MacDonald knows and he’s hell-bent on traveling 400 years into the future to claim the charmed relic, even kill for it. Protecting Beezus from his old nemesis is only one of Fergus’s problems. 

Before they can stop him, Morley MacDonald, descendant of Red MacDonald, snatches the prize and leaps through the time portal to head the MacDonald clan and kill Fergus’s MacKenzie ancestor. If he succeeds, Fergus will cease to exist. Danger grows in the feud between the MacDonalds and the MacKenzies as the pair, along with an ingenious friend and high tech inventions, returns to 1604 Scotland to face these brawny Highlanders and reunite with kin. Will Fergus overcome his mistrust of Beezus and fan the growing spark between them before they battle Morley? If he waits, it may be too late.~

Excerpt:

Fergus turned to dive after Hal’s hazy form.

No time to glance at his watch. It had been a mad scramble since they first charged through the portal, but five minutes must’ve passed by now. That truck needed to blow!

A loud boom and bright light answered his prayer.

“Fire in the hole!” Fergus shot down to the hard-packed earth and stone below.

Hal grabbed him, breaking his fall. “Always wanted to shout that, didn’t you?”

“Yep.” Fergus swept his gaze over the faces faintly illuminated by the glow from above. “You guys OK?”

“A relative term,” Hal grunted. “But tolerable.”

Beezus gave a short nod. 

“This place is just as charming as I remember. No wider,” Fergus noted.

“Real cozy,” Hal said under his breath.

“Dug by dwarves, I expect. You may need to crouch down as we go along.”

“Counting on it.” Hal again. Beezus was sucking in deep gulps of air.

Fergus fished in a pocket for the LED flashlight and flipped it to green. That hue made everyone appear garish, but would show up less in the gloom. Beezus looked scared spitless, and with good reason. Morley might as well have painted a big red X on her. She was ‘it.’ But Fergus would die before he’d let Morley take her. The problem was, he might not still be here to stop him.

No room to ponder that challenge now. The clicking that emanated from Hal told Fergus his quick-witted friend had retrieved his ultrasonic device to better navigate their way. He’d better think fast too.

“Here, Beezus.” Fergus pressed the flashlight into her trembling fingers. “We can’t risk you bringing up the rear in case we’re pursued and you’re snatched again. Shine this ahead and follow the tunnel. Hal will go next and me last. And don’t look too closely at your surroundings.” He remembered his last trek through this tunnel with rats scattering across their feet, not to mention spiders and pushing through cobwebs. Wishing he could take her into his arms, Fergus laid a hand on her shoulder. “We’re right behind you. And if all goes as planned, Niall waits ahead.”

She lifted a quivering chin, resolve in her eyes. “Watch your back.” Snatching up trailing skirts with one hand, she directed the light with the other.

Angry voices sounded overhead.

Fergus snapped, “For God’s sake, don’t they ever give up?” 

“That would be a negative, Captain,” Hal said gruffly.

somewhere_my_lass_resized 2He tailed Beezus and Fergus brought up the rear. At least the really big men couldn’t get through this narrow pass. That still left a considerable foe. Of course, Fergus had smoke bombs inside his coat to toss over his shoulder. And he did. Luckily the breeze was in his favor.

Coughs and curses carried from behind, then a man with a strong Scottish burr roared, “After them, lads!”

Amazon Link for Somewhere in the Highlands, in case you missed the one above. And for its predecessor Somewhere My Lass.

 The Somewhere in Time Series; where the past meets the present.

***Royalty free images. Cover by my talented daughter Elise

May in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia–Beth Trissel


COVER FOR SHENANDOAH WATERCOLORS NONFICTION BOOKThis excerpt is from my nonfiction book about gardening and country life, Shenandoah Watercolors, a 2012 Epic eBook Finalist, available from Amazon in kindle, and now paperback with lovely photographs taken by my talented family.

May

“The quality of mercy is not strained,

It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven,

Upon the place beneath; it is twice blessed;

It blesseth him that gives and him that takes…”

~William Shakespeare

the meadow and woods above our farmThe heavy rain has given way to a misting drizzle, but streams of water pour down from the hills and make new ponds and creeks. It’s chilly with that raw wet feel. This spring is awash in moisture and amazing after last summer’s searing drought. I’m struck by the intense beauty around me, and I thought I was already seeing it, but it’s so much more somehow. The grass seems to shimmer, yet there’s no sun out today, and the meadow is so richly green it’s like seeing heaven.

Our barnyard geese are enraptured, as much as geese can be, with all the grass. If there’s a lovelier place to revel in spring than the Shenandoah Valley and the mountains, I don’t know it. Narnia, maybe.

Dark hollow falls on Skyline drive, Shenandoah national parkI’ve been thinking about my favorite places. The pool I like best lies in the woods near a place called Rip Rap Hollow in the Blue Ridge Mountains. A splendid falls cascades up above, but I like the pool far more. We always meant to go back, but never have. The cold water ripped through me like liquid ice and is as clear as melted crystal.

I could see the rocks on the bottom, some slick with moss, others brown-gold in the light where the sun broke through the leafy canopy overhead. Trout hid beneath big rounded stones or ones that formed a cleft, but the men tickled them out to flash over the flat rocks strewn across the bottom like a path. Drifts of hay-scented fern rose around the edges of the pool, warming the air with the fragrance of new mown hay, and made the shady places a rich green.

Now, that’s a good place to go in my mind when I’m troubled. The problem with cities is that people don’t learn what really matters. Don’t really feel or know the rhythms of the earth. When we are separated from that vital center place, we grow lost. Sadly, most people will never know what they are lost from, or where they can be found.~

moms-kitten-gosling-pic***Goose update. We spotted four new goslings yesterday.

*Images of the meadow and wooded hills above our farm taken by daughter Elise, Dark Hollow Falls in the Blue Ridge Mountains, a royalty free image, Kitten and baby goose taken by my mom, Pat Churchman

 

I Remember When–1960’s Nostalgia


The bubble-head Barbie came out in the early 1960’s, her hair style influenced by Jacqueline Kennedy. When I was eight, I was  overjoyed to receive a red-headed one for my birthday.  Presents were simpler and fewer in those days. Most of my Barbie’s wardrobe was laboriously made by my mother, the ‘store bought’ outfits being too pricey for us. Even so,  my grandmother felt we were quite spoiled.   Anyone who lived through the Great Depression did.  Plus she grew up in China, the daughter of missionaries.  Talk about poor…that dear lady once sewed a collection of my great uncle’s old ties together to make a skirt for me.  I was a teenager, so didn’t wear it.  She always told me there was no room to stand on pride when you were hard up.  But I took a stand on that occasion.  Now I wish I’d saved that skirt.

Books were particularly special in my childhood, my collection small and continually reread.  The thrill of my life was when my mom ordered a box all the way from England filled with C. S. Lewis‘s the Chronicles of Narnia, not yet available in the U.S. To say I was influenced by The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe (and the rest of the series)  is an understatement. I’m still looking for Narnia.  I assume everyone is, but apparently they’re not all…weird.

Given my love of reading, trips to the library were savored. With three younger children to take care of, mom let me check out as many books as I could manage myself.  Thin arms laden, the pile stretched from my knobby knees up to my arched chin as I staggered to the car with my take.  I devoured everything, fiction, nonfiction…even the biography of Lotta Crabtree, which I suspect most children haven’t read.

I remember dirt roads with bumps we’d beg to ride over fast, and endless highways before the age of the interstate.  Traveling from one place to another in our old Chrysler was an arduous affair with warm sandwiches smashed in between wax paper and tepid, metallic sips of water from my father’s Marine Corps canteen.  And that had to date back to the Korean War, unless it was his father’s and then we’re talking WWI.   Air conditioning in the car was unheard of then and rarely enjoyed anywhere.  Mostly public buildings.  Few homes possessed such comfort.  Only a fan stirred the heavy stillness of our sweltering summers.  We finally got air-conditioning  in our farmhouse when the older children were well into elementary school with one window unit in the family room where we all camped out together when the nights were really hot.  We now have several units, the height of comfort, except for the parts of the house that don’t.

Childhood trips to the movies can be numbered on my fingers.  Maybe not even using  both hands.   Cinderella and The Sound of Music stand out in my memory.  My college English teacher father, who spent several years getting his doctorate, wasn’t overpaid.  And then I married a farmer, also not overpaid.  As for television, a small black and white set sufficed until I was thirty-something.   Only recently did we acquire a more advanced means of obtaining channels other than the battered antenna, constantly zapped by strong winds, that required my hubby to climb up on the garage roof for adjustments and yell down at the person in the kitchen doorway below, “Can you see it now?” The answering shout was relayed from the person in the living room until better reception was achieved.  I was delighted to discover  Netflix.

As for clothes, refer to the long-suffering mother mentioned above and selfless grandmother at their sewing machines, and hand-me-downs.   I reveled in what some would call a ‘missionary barrel’ of hand-me-downs when my father was in graduate school, my younger sister on the way, and our family as poor as church mice.    I thought a pair of ‘to me’ fashionable flats made me look like a movie star and dreamed big dreams.  When I reached the advanced age of thirteen I was awed by a pair of fish net stockings and my first ever lipstick, a pale pink by Bonnie Bell.

Back to fashion.  When my children were small, I labored at my sewing machine and even made over some of my own clothes into little shirts, pants, and smocks for them (and embroidered the fronts). Again, mom and grandma sewed much appreciated contributions, and Grandma knitted sweaters.  Children weren’t expected to be as well dressed in my day, or my children’s, as they are now.  As long as we had something suitable for church, and when I was small that meant petticoats, white gloves, and a hat.  Sales had to be really good for my mom to buy ‘ready made’ clothes.  Ditto for  my kids.  They even sold sweet corn at a roadside stand in the summers to earn money for back to school clothes.  But all of this built character, right?  Made us more appreciative of what we have.   (*Image of little Beth)

No Kleenex in my childhood.  We used handkerchiefs which were washed, and if one was  fastidious, ironed.  Some of them were quite fancy, possibly family heirlooms.  Again, I wish I’d saved some.  I’d dress my Betsy McCall doll in the prettiest ones.

Furniture?  In our family, with rare exceptions, you inherited it, or someone still living gave you some pieces, or you made/refinished them yourself.    Food?  A lot of home cooking/canning.  Some less than appetizing meals when mom got into a hardcore health food phase.  My sister recalls groats, but only once. Again, I can count on my fingers, maybe with both hands, how many times our family ate out as I was growing up.   And eating between meals was frowned upon or we’d ‘spoil our dinner.’  An occasional snack, maybe.

Didn’t like your supper?  Too bad.   Probably why I have the urge as an adult to eat whatever I want, whenever I want.   But we kids played outside all the time and were wiry and fast.   Little danger of obesity among the youth back then.  Those were the ‘Timmy and Lassie days’ of riding our bikes all over the neighborhood as long as we were back by suppertime.  Now we want to know where our children are every second, and understandably so with all the pedophiles at seemingly ever corner.

Have we really come all that far?  In some ways, yes, in others, not so much. When I was young, we feared the Russians, the Cold War, and Nuclear proliferation.  Now, its Muslim Extremists.  And they’re worse than anything I recall, and I was one of those kids who had to hide under their desk in elementary school as part of a practice drill for what to do if…as though that would have saved us from a nuclear attack.  We also practiced taking alternate routes home which had me stopping off in a golf course to play–alone–at the age of eight.  Great plan. (Not me in the pic, just a random child from that era doing the desk drill thing).

What are your memories?  Do you lament the old days?  Those Russians don’t seem so scary now, huh?