Second Picture Story Saturdays


“Oh come on, Gwenny! Please!” We chorused convincingly. “We promise we’ll be right behind you.”
    “Cross your hearts and hope to die?” Gwenny glared at us fiercely, binding us to the deepest oath we knew.
    We nodded and promised. After a few more moments of hesitation in order to make certain of our earnesty, Gwenny grinned and headed carefully down into the darkly yawning chasm. When she reached the bottom she whispered the news of her success back to us and we began our cautious descent. One by one we let ourselves down; the older cousins helping the younger cousins reach the floor without incident. Muffled giggles and suppressed laughter filled the little laundry room and woke up Annie and Dannie, the household Labradors. Eager to join in the fun they wriggled and writhed, wagging their tails and pressing their cold, wet noses into our faces.
    After a few minutes of giggling and playing with the dogs, we turned back to the lower end of the laundry chute. What had been our escape route from the orphanage now became our secret tunnel out of the Nazi concentration camp (at least one of us had seen “The Great Escape” a few too many times). The laundry room with its concrete floor and the dog cages and the “instruments of torture” (the washing machine and dryer) was the perfect spot for our new scenario.
    Going up was much harder than going down. It was like climbing up a tunnel slide that was far too steep, and the sides were perfectly flat and straight and offered no purchase to little fingers and toes. Once again the older ones helped the younger ones clamber up the chute by boosting us up into the opening, and then we younger ones reached down and helped pull the older ones up and out of the laundry chute and back into the closet.
    At long last, only valiant Gwenny was left downstairs. Thinking only of her cousins, she had remained below at the very end to help everybody back up the chute. Now she began her own precarious climb. She got up on the washing machine and tried and tried without avail to pull herself up into the laundry chute. It was all but useless, however, with no one left to give her a boost she could not quite pull herself inside. One of the older cousins, Gayle or Wendy, lowered me down headfirst into the opening by my legs and told me to grab Gwenny’s hand. Terrified of heights as I was, I would have walked through fire and jumped from a plane to help save our courageous Gwenny. We could leave no one behind for the evil orphan keeper or the strict Nazis to find and flog! However, even with my five year old body stretched the length of the laundry chute, precariously being hung head-down by my feet and stretching my arms as far as I could, I still could not quite reach Gwenny’s hand. Our fingertips touched for an instant, but that was all. It was then we realized that it would never work.
    Heads older and wiser than ours would have at that point lowered bed sheets down through the chute to pull our stranded friend up the laundry chute; however, we had watched “Annie” that night, not “Anne of Green Gables.” There was no other choice. In order to return to us, Gwenny would have to walk across the basement, climb the stairs, and run the gauntlet: walking directly through the living room where our parents were gathered. There was no other way around, no way to avoid it, and nothing left to do but accept our fate.
    There were no tears. Gwenny lifted her chin and squared her shoulders bravely as she prepared to face this most terrifying fate. Whispering words of encouragement and support, we watched and waited until we heard Gwenny leave the laundry room. In fear and trepidation we listened and imagined we could hear her climbing the wooden steps on the other side of the basement. Then we heard a stir in the room next to us and the voices of our parents grew louder. We heard Gwenny attempting to explain and then we heard the awful footsteps in the hallway approaching the room where we were supposed to be sleeping. The door opened and our parents looked in on seven little girls lying in bed in a semblance of angelic and innocent slumber.
    Afraid for our very lives, we were more than willing to abandon our valiant comrade to her sad demise. With a stern reprimand, Gwenny was told to get in bed and go to sleep, and then the door closed once more. With a quiet sigh, we cautiously cracked our eyes open and peeked at our beloved cousin. She was glaring at us fiercely.
    “Well,” Kim said timidly, “at least it was an adventure!”
    Gwenny and I often fought and sometimes held grudges, but no one could ever stay mad at Kim for long. Gwenny tried to hold a glower for a moment more, but then she began to shake with badly concealed laughter and broke into a wide grin and bounced onto the bed where we whispered and giggled excitedly until one-by-one we drifted off to sleep, exhausted by a full day of daring exploring and dangerous adventures.

~ jenelle

Progress Report

About a week ago I finished my second-to-last edit of the rewrite of “King’s Warrior.”

I have been doing a happy dance ever since. This was the edit where I one of my editors was going through and checking for redundancies, awkward wording, anywhere I used the same word or phrase too often, and just general clean-up of the re-written story – also, he went through and made sure that everything fit with the other books in the series, made sure that my characters and story were consistent with their future selves.

Next steps:
1. hand my book to my other editor, and have her go through checking for typos/grammatical errors/punctuation mishaps.
2. Go through and fix anything she finds.

Meanwhile: approve the final cover art (not the art, actually, more the text on the cover… the art is SPECTACULAR, I can’t wait for you all to get to see it!!!!)

Goal Date: Ready for publication by August 26th. Can we make it? Only time will tell!!!

In other news: our production company FINALLY has a name!!! Woot! Will reveal the new name shortly.

~ jenelle

Second Picture Story Saturdays

It’s time for another excerpt from SECOND PICTURE STORIES…

The Laundry Chute

It had been a long day, and eight little girls who should have been tired were being put in their pajamas and told to go to sleep. Our parents lined us up lengthwise on Grandma and Grandpa Walker’s four-poster bed, and left us with two very simple decrees: go to sleep, and do not, under any circumstances, slide down the laundry-chute. This latter mandate may seem odd, but not when one understands the nature of Grandma and Grandpa Walker’s laundry-chute.
    It was a secret tunnel, a slide, a doorway into the magical lands of…. The Basement. Ok, it was little more than a hole in the floor of their closet that dropped down on top of the washing machine in the laundry room, but to eight little girls all under the age of ten, it was a portal to new and exciting worlds. Sometimes we pretended it led to Narnia, on other days it might lead to another dimension, but tonight it looked even more perfect and tantalizing than ever. The laundry chute must have been somewhat larger than most others I have seen since then, or perhaps we were just that little, but the laundry chute made the perfect sized-slide for us… if you didn’t mind breaking both your ankles upon emerging at the bottom and landing on the washing machine. We never slid down it with reckless abandon; you had to have at least some sort of caution on these sorts of adventures… quests… things.
    As soon as the door closed on us and our parents crept down the hall to go sit around the fireplace and chat, mayhem ensued. We had been allowed to watch “Annie” just before bed, and the story had ignited our imaginations.
    “I get to be Pepper!” Gwenny shouted excitedly (it’s amazing we never alerted our parents to the fact that we were not “going to sleep,” we must have been loud enough to wake the neighbors at least, if not the dead).
    Her announcement was met by more than a few groans and “not fairs!” but she had called it first and there was not much we could do about it. A chorus of little voices chimed up quickly as each of us picked a different character. Nobody really wanted to be Annie, living in a nice house and being taken care of by people who love you? We all had that already; the true adventure was living in a dirty orphanage with an evil orphan keeper and a dozen other rowdy orphans. Starving to death, working our fingers to the bone, dreaming of escape… it seemed quite a romantic existence to our childish opinions. Spurning the idea of being Annie, each of us secretly wished to be just like Pepper: rough, tough, and perfectly capable of taking care of herself.
    We danced around on the bed for a while singing, “It’s a Hard-Knock Life” at the tops of our lungs. We pushed and shoved and tickled each other and after a very short amount of time our antics erupted into a full-fledged pillow fight. Eventually we collapsed on the bed and the floor giggling hysterically and gasping for breath.
    I don’t remember whose idea it was, but in less time than it takes to say we all became reverently silent. Someone had audaciously suggested that we try to climb down the laundry chute. The closet door was tantalizingly cracked open. Sliding off the bed and pushing the door open even wider we quietly gathered in solemn wonder and gazed at the gaping black maw of the abyss.
    Kimmy and Keri quickly caught onto the idea, “We could pretend it’s a secret passageway leading out of the orphanage!” One of them said.
    “Yeah!” We agreed heartily, the idea seeming far too perfect to be real.
    “Gwenny could go first and then…”
    “No! Oh no.” Gwenny said adamantly, bringing our dreaming to an abrupt halt.
    I couldn’t really blame her, and neither could anyone else. Being the most daring and adventurous of all of us, Gwenny was often talked into doing quite dangerous and risky things merely on the promise that “if she went first, we would follow.” However, we had failed to hold up our end of the bargain too many times for her to be talked into breaking the trail for us without question. On a similar occasion at a previous date, Gwenny had braved the laundry chute by herself, only to find that she had no followers. We could understand her reluctance to repeat such a venture.


Will the cousins venture down the laundry chute? Will they get caught by the evil orphan keeper? Will someone break a leg?


~ jenelle

Two Book Reviews

I posted this over at my other blog, but figured I could post them over here as well:

Two book reviews

Heaven is For Real – Todd Burpo
Safe in the Arms of God – John MacArthur

I told you a few weeks ago that I had read “Heaven is For Real” by Todd Burpo. It’s a story about Todd’s 3 year old son whose appendix ruptured and who almost died. While in surgery, Colton experienced 3 minutes in Heaven. It was months before his parents realized this, months of hearing their son say strange things, thinking that his Sunday school teachers were really doing a truly exceptional job, and finally realizing that their son had experienced something extraordinary.

He claimed to have met Jesus, John the Baptist (who, apparently is “really nice”), his dad’s grandpa (whom he had never met and never really been told about), and his sister who died before she was born (his mom had a miscarriage they had not told Colton about).

Sounds crazy, right? That’s what I thought. Then I read the book. Skeptically, of course. It is an amazing story. I don’t know if it’s a true story. I don’t know if I believe it. But I’d like to. I’d like to believe that this pastor is not just making this story up. The Scripture throughout the book is sound. The story presents the Gospel, as well as many amazing thoughts about Heaven, as presented by a very young child.

Am I still skeptical? Yes. Do I want to believe Colton’s story, presented in this book by his father? Yes. Does the book make me look forward to Heaven more as a truly “real” place? Yes, in fact, it does.

I recommend it. If you have lost a child, or anyone close to you to Heaven, I’ll warn you now, it’s a tear-jerker of a read. But it is also an encouraging and uplifting read.

The other book I’ve read in the wake of Hope’s death has been “Safe in the Arms of God” by John MacArthur.

While I want to believe the story in “Heaven is For Real” – I find “Safe in the Arms of God” to be far more encouraging. It reads more like a Bible study, although it isn’t. It’s John MacArthur’s personal Bible study that he has done to find Scriptural evidence that babies who die before they are born, stillborn babies, babies who die shortly after they are born, very young toddlers, and people who never mature mentally past early childhood go to Heaven and are safe in the arms of Jesus. It is a short read, it is an easy read (though not as easy a read as “Heaven is For Real”), and it is theologically sound as far as I can tell from what I’ve looked up and read as I studied MacArthur’s study.

This book is the Scriptural evidence for something I have always believed, but didn’t know (because I hadn’t done the Scriptural research) WHY I believed it. Presented clearly, honestly, and with a vast number of Scriptural references (most of which I have looked up myself now and read commentaries on in order to make sure I wasn’t just taking for truth something that wasn’t), this book is definitely something I would recommend to anyone who has had a miscarriage, lost a baby or very young child, or anyone who has a child with a disability that makes it so they will not mature mentally past the capabilities of a young child. All are included in this book (though it focuses primarily on parents who have lost a child). I would also recommend this to you if you know anyone who is in the above categories.

~ jenelle