Tuesday, May 28, 2019

of cake and jane austen and joy {currently}

Hi friends! I've missed you so much. Shall we have a cup of tea and chat for a bit? I'd love to hear what's been up with you for the last few weeks!

Image by Надежда Дягилева from Pixabay

Persuasion. I've been meaning to read it and host a read-along for years. I don't know if I'm knowledgeable enough yet to host a read-along. But I have been enjoying it immensely. The small observations about human nature. Realizing I don't think any of the movie adaptations quite match Captain Wentworth's sense of youthful joyousness (even though Amanda Root makes a wonderful Anne.) I think there's a sense of young, vigorous manhood about him coupled with a slight inexperience in regards to relationship navigation that isn't captured by Ciaran Hinds' crip authority or Penry-Jones' introverted reserve (though I love P-J, too.) I kind of want to see another version of it now.

Image by peachknee from Pixabay

In the mornings, I fill a mug with cereal and milk and bring it downstairs to my office/den. There, in the middle of ungraded papers, I wrap myself up in a fleece snowman blanket and wake up to face another day--sometimes with a Bible and The Valley of Vision. Sometimes with quiet. Sometimes--to my shame--with my phone.

I've finished catching up on random BSF lessons I missed throughout the year. Proverbs. David. The life of Solomon. One of the things that stood out to me from 1 Kings chapter ten and the questions we are asked is that in the midst of the list of Solomon's building and exploring, worship is also mentioned. Projects must be wound in and through worship. As I face school books to read for next year and dreams further in the future, worship cannot be lost. It must be the refrain, winding in and out. The accompanying plumb line of faithfulness. The companionship with a heavenly Father that, without which, all this learning and dreaming would be meaningless.

Image by peter_pyw from Pixabay

So much goodness. If you sign up for the McConkey Press newsletter, there will be a missive chock-full of historical fiction goodness coming in movie recommendations, as well as updates on research for the Folkestone Files. So sign up (see the top of this page on the right-hand side) and get even more fun chat there!

But the day I finished teaching for the year, we made stuffed crust pizzas and checked out a DVD of The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.

It made me feel alive. It was pure and good and beautiful. It was a story of adventure, of taking risks. The little scenes at the beginning of the movie set up for big plot moments at the end in satisfying mirror moments. Watching Clara made me feel as if I was watching a conglomeration of my creative writing students, who I deeply love, as she struggled for her place and who she was. And in a way, it makes me feel as if it is me, too. At twenty-four, I am looking for what my place in this season, and I love how Clara found hers. It was full of creativity and chivalry (the mouse!) Of friendship and yearning. Of love (the mother!) and of purple color schemes, which is my very favorite color.

Image by Amna Sayeed from Pixabay

My dad's birthday. We tuck cinnamon rolls into pans and layer cream cheese frosting over spice cake and give surprises that fill us with joy. It is a milestone birthday, and it is a day of rest, just being together and taking a breather from everyday work in a glorious long weekend.


The realization of things that I enjoy. Figuring out how to scrub a dirty cement floor. Folding peanut butter frosting over a double-layer chocolate cake. Turning up Disney song covers and baking brownies and cookies. Which kind of delights my soul as it reminds me off odd hobbies I love. They are beautiful in themselves for the sheer joy of creation.

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

if you fall // It reminds me that in the midst of tough love, tough love is still worth it.

fall on me // Could any lyrics sound more magical? This is on repeat as I type, filling my heart with beauty so deep it hurts.

speechless // I don't know what to think about this yet, but it provided adrenaline for paper grading, which was a kind of grace.

Image by Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay

The most amazing peanut butter trail mix that a student gave me as an end of year gift. It's gone now. It had pretzels and peanut-butter m&ms, and rice squares coated in a peanut butter coating. It was incredible. Another student gave me a package of Apple Jacks, and there is nothing sweeter than a package of Apple Jacks from a student. I enjoyed them immensely.

schuyler, this whole post is delightfully full of cake and peanut butter. why thank you, darling. i thought so too. 

waiting for

Painful things. A sense of freedom. A sense of security. A sense of enough. A sense of restoration.

This pain controlled by the hands of a very compassionate Father is teaching me good things.

Image by Anastasia Kuleshova from Pixabay

dreaming about

All the books I want to read this summer: biographies about Vincent Van Gogh and Mary, Queen of Scots, and L.M. Montgomery. Books about stargazing and enneagrams and chess strategies.

All the ways to grow as an author, thanks to a fabulous course by Katie Phillips. (Do check it out!) I'm studying authors in my genre, who I am writing to, and how to set clear goals for a business.

Writing a magazine article about hygge. Taking a road trip later this year. Seeing For King and Country in concert, Lord-willing.

Image by freestocks-photos from Pixabay

grateful for

Passing a test. Free nights to sit under twinkle lights and write and text and watch the last episode of Les Miserables again. Sunshine in the mornings. Counseling that digs into hurt. Summery white skirts. Chances to give final words of encouragement to students. A bouquet of purple flowers. Chick-fil-a sauce twice in one month. Hard conversations with a very patient God. Cozy nights visiting with family and eating burgers and potato salad. Octonauts on a sleepy Saturday morning. Naps under a fluffy gray and pink comforter. Encouraging messages from a blog follower. A comment from a stranger who enjoyed War of Loyalties. So much goodness here.

Will you tell me what's happening in your life right now? I'd love to know! Feel free to grab one of these prompts (or more!) and answer them in the comments! 

(prompts taken from here and here)

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

War of Honor // sneak peek II

War of Honor is coming, slow and sure. Camp NaNoWriMo added another 25k words. 

Here are some of them. 

The girl got up, still holding the object in her hand. It dangled down, a string of beads that flashed in the light of the moon, with a heavy cross underneath it. She paused at the foot of the steps, and he could hear clearly enough to make out her words now. “Je vous salue, Marie, pleine de grâces.
Hail Mary, full of grace.
She grasped the cross firmly and pulled something else from around her neck. Ben pressed further back, ignoring the ache in his heels.
It was time to reach for the gun now. 

“What is the end of it all?”
Jaeryn. Charlotte. Matthew. Terry. An earnest, dark-haired girl in France.

There was no happiness in this for all of them.


When he came the next night, Terry sat on the edge of his mattress smoking and looking in a dreaming sort of way across the room. Jaeryn followed his gaze to a polished wooden baby cradle standing alone in a shaft of sunlight. He choked. “What is that?”
“It’s for babies to sleep in, doc. You’ve seen ‘em before.” Terry grinned and blew smoke.
“But why do you—please don’t tell me you promised to look after a baby for someone.” 


He picked up the chair and smashed it through the beautiful stained glass in a rain of tinkling ruin. The blue and yellow shards fell like a shower and Gina ducked, throwing her arm over her face. Jaeryn smashed it again and dropped the chair, then picked her up by the waist and raised her to the sill. “Get out and run. Don’t let them see you.”


Far away in the grass, a boy tumbled with his golden puppy, shrieking with laughter. Ben’s face softened as he watched him. If he had a son with curly hair like that, and he could come home after work to family and a puppy and unadulterated joy—
It would be wonderful. 

He dropped the crusts into the crumpled brown paper parcel and pulled something else from his pocket—something worn and smooth and wooden, beads that had been between his fingers since he stood in church on tiny legs, looking up at the gray-haired, imposing hero beside him.
Sé do bheatha, a Mhuire, atá lán de ghrásta,” he breathed, “tá an Tiarna leat.


Closer to the house, a gray cat sat on the porch as the cab pulled to a stop, crouched into fighting stance with Percy. Percy crouched low, his fur melting over his paws and shoulders like blue-black ebony. Jaeryn ran up past them both, causing them to break their glare and hiss at him.


He took her out to the cabby. “I may need you to kidnap someone. Or break in somewhere.”
Gina shot him a sideways glance. “When have you ever known me to have a compunction about kidnapping?”
Jaeryn smiled in spite of himself. “Never.”

Ernest picked up the basket and threw back the lid. Inside was a wooden box, two thin books, a dirt-stained hand trowel, and a Browning handgun. He picked up the Browning. The chamber was empty. His eyes met Nathan’s, and Nathan glanced again at the precious bundle of exhaustion lying on the bed. Wordlessly, Ernest picked up her hand and kissed it. “Well done, thou good and faithful servant,” he whispered. “You are worthy to be saluted.”

All words copyright 2018 by Schuyler McConkey, McConkey Press. 
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