Book 4 Chapters 12, 13, 14 are here! “Falcon in the Barn”

I’m sorry–I sometimes forget to post here that I’ve finished recording.

After I spend up to an hour for each chapter in my closet, sometimes even yelling at my clothes (a few of my pants are showing signs of being traumatized), then up to another hour editing each chapter to erase my mistakes (hopefully I don’t miss any–someday I need to make a bloopers video so you can hear me apologizing to my future editing self for my inability to say the word “bafflingly”), then upload each one to Youtube, I forget that I have one more step: to put them here as well!

Chapter 7 of Book 4, “Falcon in the Barn,” is FINALLY here!

I’m so sorry for the delay. The microphone went out on my laptop, so I got another one, which was delayed for many days in delivery, then turned out to be very poor. So I tried another kind of microphone. Fail. Then another. And another fail. And another. And FINALLY today I got a microphone which works! So after recording this chapter FIVE times now, I just about have it memorized. (Sheesh . . . I’m hoping to get back on a regular schedule again.)

Audiobook Chapter 6 of Book 4, “Falcon in the Barn” is here!

This chapter was one of the hardest, yet most important ones I’ve ever written.

Perrin has to decide if he’s going to give up his life or fight for it. He’s stuck in a debate where the rational thing to do is the most irrational. Someone once asked me how I wrote it, and I said, “Easy. I write what I know.” Especially when I was pregnant with my girls, my mind was in a terrifying, dark place for months at a time.

I’ve written about the “rationality of suicide” in a blog back in 2014, after Robin Williams died: https://forestedgebooks.com/2014/08/15/suicide-is-rational-in-its-own-mind/

I caught some flak for that blog, too, from some who said I shouldn’t have written it, or shouldn’t express such ideas. I still don’t understand why not. It’s a debate many depressed people are trapped in, and it’s important to know.

Last year I taught at a residential treatment center for teenagers, many of whom had attempted suicide. The “rationality of suicide” was a common feeling, and therapy was geared to helping students discover the irrationality of it, especially suicide’s potential affects on those who are left behind.

That’s where the internal debate gets sticky. Depressed people often feel they are a burden on their loved ones, and if they removed themselves, the burden on their families would be removed.

Their death is a self-sacrifice for those they leave behind, so believes the irrational mind.

However, I personally know that’s not what happens. Survivors don’t move on. My grandfather killed himself when his first and only child–my mother–wasn’t yet a year old. She had no memory of him, but the weight of his untimely death at just age 28 dragged on her for her entire 87 years.

If you don’t choose to stay for yourself, consider staying for those you leave behind. Your death doesn’t fix anything, no matter what the rational-irrational argument in your head believes.

Book 4, “Falcon in the Barn” Chapters 1 and 2 are here in audiobook format!

Moving right along to the next book. I love this book, but the first few chapters are painful.

Warning for anyone who has dealt with PTSD. The first few chapters deal a lot with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. My mother suffered from PTSD because of what she endured as a teenager during WWII in Germany. She lost her home, most of her family: some kidnapped to Russia and killed there (one a teenage cousin), then others interred in work camps in Poland and starving before they were rescued (another young teenaged cousin). Then she was a refugee and starving when she was 18, and was never able to go home to her family again. Naturally, her mental health suffered for the rest of her life. She didn’t trust therapy and also refused to believe she needed it. Denial and paranoia were her constant companions.

I studied PTSD as an adult, trying to understand some of what she was going through (and what I went through as a child because of her distress).

I was startled to discover this suddenly affecting Perrin, but I shouldn’t have been. Writing these chapters was surprisingly painful, then cathartic, and ultimately healing. I only wish my mom could have experienced this before she passed away.

But I believe God has a way of healing all wounds. Time isn’t a hindrance to Him.

Dungeons, spiders, and kittens–what terrifies you?

My five-year-old is currently in the dungeon. Well, others might call it a “basement” but with the damp floor and that smell which permeates every inch of the concrete and rock down there, we’re calling it a dungeon.

He’s chosen to be there, because that’s where his dad’s and brothers’ Warhammer 40k figurines are set up. (I call them “hideous plastic things.”) 

Image result for warhammer 40k figurines

He’s playing with things that look like this^. I guess nothing else down there is as terrifying.

Here’s the weird part–he’s not afraid to be down there, alone, with the spider webs and damp and creepy windows . . . but he’s terrified to pick up his new 6-week-old kitten.

It’s the cutest little thing in the world, cuddly and purring, but it has those needle-like claws and THOSE freak him out. He’ll pet it, he’ll croon at it, build her shrines out of blankets and pillows when she sleeps, but the moment it comes after him and his bare feet, you’d think a mountain lion had been released because he goes RUNNING FOR THE HILLS!

2010-02-07 23.06.16

Blanket shrine to worship the cat. And we’re not even in Egypt.

On the other hand, his 13-year-old brother will love and play with the kitten endlessly, but he’s so terrified of the dungeon/basement that he LOCKS the doors going down there.

This poses a problem for the 5-year-old trying to come back upstairs, and freaks out older brother when he hears the door rattling because SOMETHING HAS COME UP FROM THE BASEMENT!

 

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The stairwell to the basement/dungeon/Hades.

Fear is a weird and random thing.

Sometimes it makes us run and slam the door. Other times we charge it, like my 18-year-old daughter armed with the shop vac sucking up every spider web with the extension tube. (The dungeon/basement is next, but only once she stops shivering from her last extraction triumph upstairs.)

Other times we call for help, as with my 5-year-old (the dungeon tolerator) who came from the bathroom to announce he couldn’t brush his teeth because of the “critter” in there. Turned out to be a moth in the sink. Another reason why we got a kitten, who I wanted to name “Moth Killer” as a reminder as to how she’s supposed to earn her keep.

Sometimes we’re quiet about our fears, such me pretending to know how to talk to people–especially strangers–all the while my heart rate is at 120 bpm and I’m praying I don’t pass out before the conversation is over, to my own father who I didn’t know was deathly afraid of snakes until I, as a kid, came up to him with our neighbor’s boa constrictor draped around my neck. I’ve never seen a man go gray faster than my father did, and still live.

It’s strange that what makes some people afraid has no effect on others. Birds, for example, send some people into a panic while others keep them as pets. Same with rats. And chihuahuas.

Everyone hates needles, however. I’ve asked phlebotomists about that every time I’d had blood drawn. One nurse told me, “If I met someone who LIKED having a needle jabbed into a vein, THAT would terrify me.”

What’s the point to this rambling? I’m afraid I don’t know.

“There’s nothing to fear but fear itself.” Be honest. You, like me, hear that phrase that think, “Oh yeah? What about [fill in the blank]?” There are DOZENS of things to fear, and here’s the good part: all of us fear something. All of us are cowards about something.

Openly or quietly, there’s something that worries each of us, which is good to remember. That’s not meant as a challenge to figure out someone’s fear and exploit it, but to comfort us all that we really are all the same.

Once I dropped by the house a 13-year-old when her mom wasn’t home. In a small and terrified voice, she asked me to do her a favor. Worried that I was walking into a home invasion scenario based on her solemnity, I nevertheless agreed. Moments later I felt like Wonder Woman as I went downstairs (a nice downstairs, with carpeting and lights) with tissue in hand to extract a spider that had kept this sweet girl from entering her bedroom for the past hour.

I realized then that maybe different fears exist to let all of us be heroes at one time or another. My husband is my hero whenever a live mouse or a dead animal is involved. (Bonus points to him if it’s a dead mouse he bravely disposes of.) Perhaps that’s why he moved us here, so that after a year of living apart I’d have plenty of reasons to rush into his arms and ask him to be my hero because there may have been another mouse . . .

Which now has may thinking that maybe romance is also a weird and random thing.

     When Perrin came home for dinner the tiny cat was still there. It hobbled up to him and began to climb his trousers.
     “Get it off!” he yelled, shaking his leg.
     Mahrree extracted the kitten from his knee. “Honestly. How can a grown man be so afraid of a tiny kitten?”
     “Afraid? That’s what you think I am? Afraid!”
     “Yes! Give me another reason why you run in terror from it.”
      “I don’t run.”
      “Well, you shout!”
      “That’s ridiculous!”
      “You’re shouting now!”
      “So are you! Give it to me.”
       Mahrree clutched the kitten to her chest. “What will you do?”
      “Prove you wrong,” he beckoned. “Hand it over.”
      “Don’t hurt it!”
      “I won’t hurt it. Just hand it over.”
      Reluctantly, Mahrree gave him the kitten. Perrin held it up to his face. It mewed in a manner that sounded like a whimper of fear.
      Perrin stared into its tiny eyes.
      It stared back, then looked down at the height at which it was dangling. It flailed in fright, so Perrin cradled it in his other hand, and the thing began to purr.
      “Why does it do that?” he asked, bewildered.
       Mahrree’s mouth twitched. “Because it likes you. I can’t imagine why, but it does.”
       He evaluated the creature.
       It didn’t resemble a Thorne—captain or general—in any way. It was just a tiny, helpless animal. With needle-like claws. And it made annoying sounds, although quietly.
       Still, those claws were unreasonably sharp, snagging the wool on his uniform.
       Still yet again, it was just a baby.
       “Hm,” he said eventually. “Fine. It can stay.”

~Book 4, The Falcon in the Barn, Forest at the Edge series

What do we think about?

Over the years I’ve become more judicious in what I read, watch, and listen to. Everything I take in effects my thoughts, which in turn alters my behavior. 

Maybe it’s because in the past few years my parents and sister died, and a dear friend is losing her battle to cancer, that I’m acutely aware that life is short.

I don’t have time–nor do I want to have time–to waste. Every day needs to be focused on improving my mind and my heart.

Hugh Nibley, in “Zeal without Knowledge,” summed it up best:

what do we think about

The more I’ve decluttered my mind (as I’ve been doing with my house) the simpler everything is. There really is time and space for the important stuff.

No men who Jaytsy cared about were interested in fashion or the theater. It was all fake and contrived, and unappealing.
But she knew what she did love, and it was glorious to no longer worry about the world’s opinions. She loved real things. Dirt on her hands and under her fingernails. Flicking insects off the corn. Filling wagons with potatoes. Braiding the greens of onions together. Measuring milk yields. Churning butter. Sampling cheeses. Looking into cows’ eyes.
~Book 4, The Falcon in the Barn

New cover for “Mansions,” and here’s the cover for “Falcon in the Barn”!

Yes!
Finally!
Not only do I get to present to you the new cover (will be available on Amazon in the next 24 hours) for Book 3, The Mansions of Idumea . . .

Book 3 Front Cover Edition2

(I’m so grateful my family doesn’t mind dressing up. The best part is, we’re such a nerdy family that we already owned the costumes and many of the props.)

Book 3 Back Cover Complete edition2

(I wished I had doors like this in real life. But mine are painted metal. From Lowe’s. So unromantic.)

. . . but here’s also Book 4!

Book 4 Front Cover

(I won’t tell you how many pictures of barns I took looking for just the right one. Fortunately I live in an old farming community with plenty of subjects. Can you see the cat?)

Book 4 Back Cover

(A marvelous fire we got to experience in Yellowstone in 2013 provided these fantastic clouds. Yes, fires can be marvelous.)

I’ve had far too much fun playing with colors and images these past few months. I’ve never pretended to be a professional anything: not a writer, and certainly not a graphic designer, as is likely obvious. But creating these books has been a pure joy and absolute delight. Deciding to develop new covers as vivid and lively as I dared was just the next step in my all-consuming hobby. I’m immensely blessed that my family tolerates me and my little obsessions. My husband especially has been a good sport, even if not a natural actor.

“So what do you want me to do? Just stand here? How about I put my hand on my hip? I can scowl. Wanna see a scowl? Should I point? Like in baseball, that’s where the ball’s going . . . Why not? You want more emotion? What’s that supposed to mean? Dammit, Jim–I’m a doctor, not a soldier! How was that? Are you about done? Why are you laughing? What? You need me to dress up again?! I think you’re doing this on purpose . . .”

(Most of the time I was waiting for him to close his mouth so I could take the pictures. He also gets very chatty when it’s time for family portraits. Rarely do we get a picture with his lips together. Yes, I think my husband’s adorable . . . and I’m not just writing that because I’ll need him to pose again for the next book!)

The actual book will be release FRIDAY, MAY 29 on Amazon and also here! Don’t worry, I’ll let you know when it’s ready to fly . . .