Saturday, February 22, 2014

Life in the Freakshow Lane

our new truck! A fabulous F100 1965 Ford!!!! Such a classy way to get around.
Life is full of strange things. Strange events. Strange people.
Quite often you encounter all of the above at some point in your life. All too commonly, you find yourself stuck smack dab in the midst of the threesome.
And sometimes, you just happen to be a major component of the strangeness yourself.
You're not just one of those strange people, you're an anomaly.
You just don't fit in.
Whether or not you want to mesh with what the world around you is doing doesn't matter. Because no matter what you try, you always stick out like a sore thumb. You're always swimming against the current, you're the fruit loop in a bowl of cheerios.
Am I sounding melodramatic, just a tad?
Who am I kidding. Of course I am.
I would know about what it's like to be an odd soul. And to be honest, I embrace my weirdness.
But sometimes it gets to be a little much, even for myself. Sometimes I not only drive the people around me insane, but my own self gets perturbed by my unexplainable mannerisms and anima.
I puzzle myself, frankly.
They say it's not uncommon for a young woman my age to have issues dealing with emotion. They say it's perfectly normal, in fact.
But sometimes I wonder. Sometimes I deliberate if I somehow ended up with 300% more emotion than I should have for my stage of life.
I'm going to be honest and transparent, here. You've been warned.
 Earlier this week, I felt like a freakshow. Detached from reality and all that is normal and acceptable. When you end up in emotional breakdowns in front of your entire family (which composes of five males and only one other female, by the way) over and over, and have no control over each event whatsoever, you start feeling terrible for those dear people who must endure your traumatic episodes. When they ask you why you're always crying, you feel like an alien. Because there's no way they'll ever understand.
You start to hate yourself for being so different, for feeling things the other have no idea about.
This is my struggle. I am my greatest enemy - aside from satan, that is.
I can't overcome myself without Christ. The only way I've found to pull myself out of this mire of self-hatred, depression and confusion is to stop and hand it over to my Maker. Because He's the only one who'll ever truly understand how I tick, what makes me who I am. With His help, and through dwelling on His Word, I see that I'm not really such a freak even though I feel like one time and time again. I see that I'm so incredibly blessed beyond my understanding, and that I have an overabundance of things to be grateful for 24/7. Most importantly, I learn I mustn't dwell on myself. I mustn't give rise to the flesh which demands I hate my own existence. It's a satanic notion, self-hatred.
Bottom line? How comforting to know I can always go to Christ, no matter what the circumstance. And as His daughter, I am also an overcomer. I may fall down, but I'll always be able to get on my feet again because "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
Don't let the number of times you fall outnumber the number of times you stand back up.
random photo from Brooksville that I found and thought looked neat.
Anywayyy. End of random rant concerning the internal struggle of life...that probably either bored you to death or freaked you out...erm. Yeah. Moving on!
Last week, we at Southern Lights had the privilege of getting to play up at the Olustee reenactment. The battle of Olustee/Ocean Pond was the largest battle that took place in Florida during the War Between the States. Naturally, this is the therefore the largest Civil War reenactment in the Sunshine State.
It was incredible.

We interrupt the regularly planned programing for an awesome map of my Reheboam world, made on GIMP by Brian McBride. ^_^

That weekend, my parents left on a business trip to Louisiana, leaving me in charge. Of course, I couldn't bring the boys along on the Olustee excursion, so my wonderful grandparents came to watch them while I was gone. Thank you Mammy and Pappy! ♥
My day Saturday started at 4:00 in the morning, unintentionally. I set my alarm for 5:30 but somehow woke up miraculously early...don't ask how. Of course, I also had trouble getting to sleep Friday night, so maybe that had something to do with it. Pre-reenactment bubblies and excitement I guess.

My lovely friends and I with the kitchen as a fabulous, historically accurate backdrop...hahaha

Mammy snapped this and I didn't even know it. Hahaha, I guess we were just getting ready to leave the house.
The weather was awesome - chilly, just the way I like it. When you're lugging instruments around most of the day and wearing a lot of fabric, you tend to appreciate the cooler weather.
It's a no-brainer why we don't have reenactments in the summer here in FL.

Spectators waiting for the battle to unfold.

We were blessed to get to play at the Ladies' Tea in front of an audience of 70 or so women and girls. Also, we played in the sutlers area and people seemed to enjoy our music. It's so wonderful to know that you can make people smile and be blessed through your work!
We even got a good deal of tips, which helped with the gas and food costs later.

so much epic cavalry-ness

man I love this picture. That gun!

The actual battle was epic of course. Only, since they were trying to show a little of how it actually happened 150 years ago, most of the soldiers were fighting out in the woods where we couldn't see them. Which was a bummer. Thankfully they ventured closer at times. And the cannons were always going off.
Two of my favorite things at reenactments are the artillery, and the drum and fife playing as the units do their processions through the camps.

I like the composition of this one.

BOOM! I hope they're wearing earplugs!

Rebel pride.

Emerging from the haze.

And here is the one photo that I found decent of at the ball later in the evening. Kay took it, you can see Maygan there in the middle.

The map I used for my route to get to Olustee. I do love maps. They've always fascinated me, and I tell you this - I'm not a GPS person. I will use a good ol' fashioned map over one of those unpredictable devices any day.

Ahh, and speaking of driving. Arguably the most traumatizing element of the whole day and trip was the time spent in the car. It was about a two hour drive up, since we got mixed up and went down a wrong road when the actual event location was less than a mile down the street. -_-
And later, as we drove to Lake City to get some grub for supper, (we went to Chick-fil-A again as that is our refuge for reenactment excursions now) it got extremely stressful.
Let's get a couple things straight. See that little box on the map along the highlighted route, which reads "231"? You'd never know such an innocent looking road could be so treacherous.
For miles and miles it was one big stretch of absolutely nothing. Literally no signs of human life anywhere, and this is no exaggeration. All you see is an endless stretch of pine trees on either side of the's smack dab in the midst of a national forest. In the daytime it's tolerable, but at night in the dark? Nooooo.  It's hard enough driving in a place you're not familiar with.
See, somehow we got off the original road (90) and went down 231 towards the homeward-route. Basically wasted a good bit of gas on a completely-out-of-the-way passage.
I ended up having a panic attack halfway down that blasted road, as we left Lake City to get back to the reenactment site for the evening ball. It was ridiculous. I was literally desperate to see another vehicle or some lights or anything. It was a mini praise session when we finally got back to the little four-way in Olustee!!!
I will never forget the horror of driving down that vile road.
But the ball was worth all the trauma of 231. I got to dance the entire evening! Learned many new contra dances and had a genuinely wonderful time. I did end up getting asked out, which threw me pretty bad, but ehhh such is life I guess. New experiences to add to the book of life, right?
But seriously for anybody who might be, I'm not looking for a boyfriend. I don't do the whole boyfriend/girlfriend thing. It doesn't even make sense to me. And when the time comes that I do start 'looking', it will be for a Godly man who I will spend the rest of my life with. Not just a boyfriend.
So are we clear on that? Good.
Last but not least, I present a little photomanip/collage I did of some of my favorite characters from If Dante Had Wings. 
Speaking of which, I'm now on chapter six of that. My writing moments ever since January have been devoted to this novel, and then recently I started rewriting The Rebels of Florida.
Ever since I began revamping some of the basic plots in TROF, drastic changes have unfolded. Characters have evolved - changed so much it's almost scary.
Zephyr, who used to be "Emma", the main character girl for example. She's gone from somewhat wall-flowerish, fantasizing softee to outspoken, overly-emotional survivor. Basically, her new self is a lot more kick-butt. All the characters are, really.
One of TROF's characters - Sybil. The picture on the right shows her 'before-revamping' version, and the one on the left her 'current' state.
Not kick-butt in the sense of the modern day 'strong' female lead that always has things under control and never sheds a tear(gosh, don't we all hate that stereotype?) but in the sense that, if you lived in this state during 1863, you had to have grit, and lots of it. Florida for most of history has been a wild, undeveloped jungle overflowing with peril.
Women didn't wear big fancy silk ball gowns and trounce around with slaves doting on their every whim and wish. The term 'southern belle'? Not applicable in this state, sorry. Unless your definition of southern belle is a trouser-wearing ranch woman who could cook anything she put her mind to (snakes, raccoons, wild pokeweed shoots, etc.) for the sake of the basic survival of her family. If she owned a dress it was probably made of calico or some other cheap fabric.
This is a general assumption of what I've read of pre-development Florida culture.
And this is what you'll find in TROF, for the most part.
Anyway! So where was I going with this? Oh yeah. Character development - er - change. It's certainly made the editing/rewrite process of TROF way more interesting.
So there you have it! A fairly detailed account of some of the most notable events that have happened in my life recently.
I leave you fabulously patient people with an awesome song from Imagine Dragons that you've probably not heard before because for some weird reason it hasn't really been promoted that much apparently.  *shakes head*
Hope y'all are having a blessed week! ♪

Friday, February 7, 2014

Dude, 103 Followers?!

Y'all, sometime earlier this week, Apassionata hit 100 followers.
And now that lovely little GFC followers box reads three over.
I guess I never thought this blog would develop such an audience.
Soooooo....thank you, guys. Gracias, all you wonderful, amazing peoples who have supported me and my erratic little blog here.
As a little meager thank-you, I'm sharing with you some recent illustrations for an art commission I've been hired to do - it's a children's book!
^This one is my favorite so far. I used some new Prismacolor illustration pens I bought with some birthday money, and this was also the first skunk I'd ever drawn!

I've been thankful for this commission opportunity. It's been fun and interesting to work on a different style than I usually do. I'm not one to typically do cartoons and the like, since I prefer the classic beauty of realism in art. But, this project? It's been a blast so far!
It's always good to try new things. To branch out.
{ some of my favorite things lately }
♥ Listening to oldies music.
♥ Trying to swing dance.
♥ Trying to do the's actually a lot harder than it looks!
♥ Visits/shopping with Grandma.
♥ Writing in If Dante Had Wings.
♥ Spanish.
♥ Radiometric dating research.
♥ Watching my brothers' baseball games.
♥ Chatting with my long-distance friends.
♥ Chilly weather.
♥ Classy 40s fashions.
♥ Homemade pizza.
♥ Homemade cinnamon breadsticks.
♥ Looking forward to the next big reenactment!
So yup. Life continues, and it is good. Our God is an awesome God!
What about you? What's new in your life?
 1 Samuel 2:2 -  For there is none holy as the Lord, for there is none beside Thee. Neither is there any rock like our God.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Guest Post - "Sixteen" Book Playlist by Emily Rachelle


Hey folks! Today I'm pleased to have a guest post from an author friend of mine, Emily Rachelle.
She has a new book out, called "Sixteen", and this is her music playlist for it!
A little description on Sixteen.

Nicole "Nikki" Johnson has never gotten along with her mother, so when she meets a great new guy, it's no surprise that Matt's age is all her mom sees. Just because he's twenty-four and she's sixteen doesn't mean he's a creeper! Thankfully, Nikki's dad allows Nikki and Matt to be together and see how things work out. Their relationship is fantastic and Nikki is on cloud nine...

Until the Fourth of July picnic, when things go too far. Now a very changed Nikki has to make choices that will affect her every relationship - with Matt, her parents, her best friend, and most importantly, God.
I haven't read this book yet, but the premise sounds interesting! You can buy it to read for yourself on Smashwords or Amazon.

Now, without further adieu, here's the playlist! Songs selected specifically for this book.

(Collected and arranged/notes by Emily Rachelle)
Unwritten - Natasha Bedingfield - This is Nikki’s theme song.

Won’t Stop - OneRepublic - I think of this sort of as Matt’s theme song, although it’s mostly about when he and Nikki met.
Today Was a Fairytale - Taylor Swift - This song reminds me of their first date, but also their budding relationship as a whole. It’s very sweet and first-love-y. Nikki and Matt’s Song #1.
Bleeding Love - Leona Lewis - I’m not a huge fan of this song by itself, but it really fits the conflict between Nikki and her parents when it comes to her relationship with Matt.
She’s In Love With the Boy - Trisha Yearwood - Self-explanatory title. ;)
Sparks Fly - Taylor Swift - Nikki and Matt’s Song #2.
It’s Your Life - Francesca Battistelli - Near the climax of the book, Nikki has to make some major decisions and changes in her life. This song spotlights that scene.
Say Goodbye - Mandisa - One of two songs I chose for the “turning point” of the book.
Only Grace - Matthew West - Second “turning point” song.
Two Heartbeats - Lenka - Beautiful song. That’s all I’m saying.
Sunshine - Lucas Grabeel - I have a lot of songs about Nikki (she is the main character) and thought this was a perfect song to focus on Matt’s view of her and their story.

Ho Hey - The Lumineers - This song doesn’t fit exactly with my book, but I chose it because the general feel matches one of my favorite scenes in the book.
When You Love Someone - Bethany Dillon - Another song about Matt and Nikki’s relationship, from Nikki’s perspective.
You’re Still the One - Shania Twain - Nikki totally picked this song. I can’t stand it. But I let her keep it in here.
I Won’t Give Up - Jayesslee - Matt and Nikki’s Song #3.
There Goes My Life - Kenny Chesney - For the modern-day scenes in the book, Matt either takes a backseat or isn’t even present. So I wanted to close with a song that kept in mind he’s still a crucial part of both Nikki/Nicole’s and Claire’s lives, and basically sums up the book from his point of view. This was the first song I put on the playlist, actually. Of all the songs on this playlist, this one is my favorite, the best one for Matt, and the one that best matches the story as a whole.


Visit Emily's blog to enter a giveaway in which you can enter to win...

  • First prize: $10 Kindle Gift Card + Sixteen Ebook

  • Second prize: $5 Kindle Gift Card + Sixteen Ebook

  • Third prize: Saving Mars pin + Sixteen Ebook