Liebster Award

I was recently tagged for the Liebster Award by Nick Wilford. Thanks, Nick! I’m always up for a good game of blogging tag… particularly as it means I get a “free” day in which I don’t have to come up with idea for what to write about! And, as I’m still furiously working on Minstrel’s Call AND Arda Academy is starting back up today, I thought a nice tag would be a good way to ease us back into the school year!
The rules for this game/award are simple:
  • Thank the blogger who nominated you
  • Answer the 11 questions
  • Nominate 11 new bloggers and ask 11 of your own questions

On to the questions!

1. If you were to write a historical novel, which time period would you pick and why?
I would probably pick the middle ages or the some time  during the age of exploration…. possibly even as late as the late 1800s.
The middle ages, of course, so that I could write about princesses and knights and castles… and possibly throw in a dragon or two… or at least reference someone THINKING there might be a dragon. But then, the age of exploration is just fascinating. I think I would enjoy writing about one of the polar expeditions or telling a story from the perspective of a crew member getting on a ship and sailing off into uncharted waters in search of “whatever might lie beyond.”
2. Have you ever taken a creative writing class and what did you learn? If not, would you consider it?
I have taken several creative writing classes. I learned a lot in them about free-writing, structure, taking into consideration the sounds in words and how they go together to create a mood or emotion in the reader. I learned about story structure and using imagery. I learned about tightening up my writing and keeping it shorter. I learned about how to use narrative to move the story along and paint the setting for the reader. I also learned that there are certain types of writing projects that I do not enjoy.
3. Describe one thing from your everyday life that inspires you.
My children. Their sense of wonder at each new discovery, the way they talk and process things, the funny things they say… they constantly inspire me.
4. What’s your social media outlet of choice and why do you enjoy it?
This blog is my favorite. I enjoy it because it lets me write short things that I can finish in less than an hour. I enjoy interacting with you, dear Reader, in the comments. I enjoy discussing favorite movies and books with people who share similar preferences.
5. What’s the maddest thing you’ve done when researching a story?
Um… I’m pretty boring. I don’t typically DO a lot of things to actively research a story. I think probably the only thing I’ve done for the purposes of research is spent a bunch of time outside during a downpour to see just how wet and miserable it would be. Other experiences that I’ve done have made it into books, but I was just doing them for fun, not to research for any particular story.
6. Pick a favourite book character and give one question you’d like to ask them.
Apparently, I… forgot this question earlier.
But the truth is… I have no idea. Most of the questions I have for characters tend to be in the heat of the reading moment, “WHY?! WHY ARE YOU DOING THAT?” But I can’t actually think of any specific ones at the moment.
7. What did you want to be when you were growing up?
A teacher or an author. I also spent some time wanting to be a fighter jet test pilot.
8. Describe one ambition you would still like to achieve.
Successfully raise four kids to love the Lord God with all their hearts, souls, and minds.
As an author: See that little “best seller” flag next to my name on amazon. #AuthorGoals
9. What was the last book to make a big impression on you?
The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher. And the Lunar Chronicles….
10. Name one musical artist that inspires you and say why.
Brittany Jean – because she is making a name for herself with steady perseverance. I love that she doesn’t compromise her sound or her lyrics or write “filler songs” just to crank out albums, but puts care and depth into every song she writes.
11. Have you ever been lost and what was the outcome of the situation?
Have I ever been lost?
It’s not a true road-trip with me if we DON’T get lost at least once!
How about the time my roommate and I were driving from Indiana to Boston? I don’t think I’ve told that one here before…
It was Thanksgiving break and we were off to visit a friend who had graduated the year before. We were driving through the night, which may not have been the wisest decision ever, but we were poor college students and had no interest in spending money on a hotel. I drove the first half of the way. We stopped for a couple of hours in Pennsylvania to visit a friend of mine. We hung out, ate at Denny’s, tried to find a sled to go sledding… but struck out. By the time we were on the road again it was around 2am. We switched drivers around 4:00 or 5:00am — I don’t remember exactly — and I curled up in the passenger seat to get a little sleep, only to be awakened by my roommate yelling at me frantically:
“Wake up! Jenelle! Wake up!”
(I don’t wake up well… particularly when I haven’t gotten more than an hour or two of sleep)
I blearily looked at the clock: 6:15.
Then I looked outside. Some tall buildings. A few parking lots. Not tons of traffic.
I sort of grumpily asked what was wrong.
My roommate was rapid-fire telling me that the road she had been following had ended and she had to go over a bridge that cost $12 to cross (this was extremely important, you have to understand…. a $12 bridge toll was NOT in our calculations for the trip cost) and that now she was lost and needed me to navigate.
I had no idea what the name of the street we were on was, or any idea where we were in the country… as I pulled out the atlas (we didn’t have smartphones or GPS back then) and tried to reason out how far we could have possibly gotten. I sort of ball-park estimated that we were in New Jersey… and spotted an open parking spot on the road ahead that did not have a meter or any “no parking” signs near it. (That spot was a miracle straight from the Lord, we would soon discover). It also “happened” to be right across the street from a 24-hour McDonalds.
We stumbled into the restaurant, me holding the atlas, both of us looking less than stellar… and the friendly gentleman behind the counter asked, “What can I get for you?”
I tried to smile back and asked, “Where are we?”
He grinned cheerfully (obviously a morning person) and said, “Girl! You’re on the corner of 23rd and Fulton!” (I don’t know if those are the street names he actually said, or if those streets actually exist… but that’s how I remember it)
This was not helpful.
I sort of blinked at him and shook my head. “No… I mean… what STATE are we in?”
I don’t know if he was confused or amused, but he grinned again and said, “Girl! You’re in Manhattan!”
Dazed and a little freaked out that we were so far off course, I said a desperate sort of “thank you” and we turned and walked out of the McDonald’s.
Pretty sure he went home later and entertained his family with a story about the two crazy people who wandered in off the street with no idea what state they were in!
It took us 45 minutes to get out of Manhattan… leaving did NOT cost as much as getting into the city. Once out of the city, we promptly got lost in Newark, NJ and wandered around there for a good hour before finally getting back on track!
We did eventually make it to our hotel in Boston… and it has become one of my favorite stories to tell! It was a little stressful at the time, though!
And that’s the end of the tag/award!
I do not currently have the brainpower to come up with 11 new questions… but I would like to ask you all this: what’s YOUR best after-the-fact story? What is something that has happened to you that may not have been any fun at the time, but turned into a fabulous story to tell later? I’d love to hear about it!

~ jenelle

A Little Princess



Congratulations, Madeline! I will be contacting you shortly to get your mailing address so I can send you your movie!

Favorite Family Films Header Graphic

“I am a princess!”
“All girls are! Even if they live in tiny old attics, even if they dress in rags, even if they aren’t pretty, or smart, or young, they’re still princesses – all of us! Didn’t your father ever tell you that? Didn’t he?”

Today’s movie is one of those rare instances where I cannot decide whether I love the book or the movie better. The book is one of my favorites, and I have read it many times. But the movie fills a slight hole in my heart that the book is content to leave gaping and raw. And for that, perhaps I appreciate and prefer the movie… just slightly more than the book.

Meet Sarah Crewe and her wealthy father, Captain Crewe. Sarah has grown up in India, where her father has been able to give her all the nicest things in life. But instead of making Sarah snobbish, she has learned generosity and compassion for everyone. When her father enlists to fight for the British in WWI, Sarah is left at a boarding house where her mother once went to school.

Sarah is not used to learning in a classroom, and her peculiarities and vivid imagination do nothing to endear her to the strict headmistress, who has no patience for flights of fancy or anyone who doesn’t toe the line with cookie-cutter behavior. But she tolerates Sarah for the sake of her father’s fortune and generosity to the school. However, when Sarah’s father goes missing and is presumed dead, everything changes.

Forced to become a servant, forbidden to speak with her former friends, and living in rags in a freezing garret room, can Sarah continue to believe that there is magic still?

This is one of those movies that makes me cry every time I see it. There is also the beautiful story-within-a-story device that is used so poignantly to highlight Sarah’s own journey and the difficulties she faces. (I told you I love that device!)

This is one of those movies where everything in it just… works. From the acting, to the sets, to the dialogue, to the variation in the color palette between the “real world” of the boarding school and the “story” that Sarah is telling, to the music, to the beautiful, heart-wrenching plot that ties it all together… if you’ve never watched this one, it is a must-see! (The ending is good, I promise. No Bridge to Terabithia-style ending for this movie… though I guarantee you’ll need a box of tissues… for very different reasons)

A Little Princess is available to rent on iTunes, Amazon, Youtube, Vudu, and Google Play.

~ jenelle

Nightstand Books for a New School Year

Summer reading was fun! But now Autumn approacheth… and so… more books must be knighted to stand at the ready for voracious readers to enjoy the stories they hold!


Nope, that’s not my nightstand, but “Coffee Table Books” just doesn’t sound as good… Grayden was sleeping and I didn’t want to go in and wake him up when I wanted to take the picture.

This isn’t the complete stack of books, but there are a few waiting for me at the library that I need to go pick up that I didn’t have yet when I took the picture.

So… from the top down:

The Great Turkey Walk - by Katharine Karr

This is the book we are reading for Language Arts. School started back up yesterday, and it all went rather well, actually. This story is fun, so far. I am interested to see where it goes. The narrator has been easy to like from the first chapter.

Wild Born – by Brandon Mull

Still reading this with Nathalie. She LOVES it, and I am looking forward to the next book, because it was written by Shannon Hale… and I like her writing style better than Mull’s. Apparently this series was written by a collaboration of authors. Or something. I need to look it up, because I’m intrigued, and it appears that every book is written by a different author. It is a fun, fantasy adventure so far.

Jim Elliot – by Janet and Geoff Benge

Leiana pulled this one out of the church library and I’m reading it to the kids. It’s weird, reading this to people who don’t already know how the story ends. Growing up in Wheaton, it seemed to me that EVERYONE in the world had heard the name Jim Elliot (he went to Wheaton College). Nate Saint’s son came and spoke at one of our chapel services in high school, and he brought the chief of the Waodani and HIS son as well. It was incredible to hear the story from them.

This is a great series of books, and I enjoy learning things I didn’t know before in this story I’ve heard countless times.

William Wilberforce – by John Holzmann

This is what we are reading for History right now. So far, it’s interesting. I enjoy the books that Mr. Holzmann has written for the Sonlight curriculum.

Starting Strong – by Paula Rinehart

This is a study on the life of Simon Peter, which goes along with our Bible reading for each day.

Holy Bible for KIDS

We use Leiana’s Bible for our daily readings. It’s ESV and has some nice pictures. Nice edition.

Castle Behind Thorns – by Merrie Haskell

I have enjoyed everything I’ve read from this author, and this book is no exception. They have a fairy tale feel, but are not always retellings. This one has been quite intriguing and I can’t wait to find out how it all turns out.

Not Pictured:

I have been given the extremely awesome privilege to beta-read The Brightest Thread by Silmarillion Award Blogger Tracey Dyck! I am super excited to dive into that this month.

I am going to be heading to the library shortly and picking up Winter, Fairest, and Stars Above: A Collection of Lunar Chronicles Short Stories so that I can read ALL the rest of the Lunar Chronicles that exist. They are that good.

And that should be plenty for September… don’t you think?

What books are on your nightstand, dear Reader?


~ jenelle