The Adventures of Ratha James: Part Thirteen

If you need a refresher course on the Ratha James series here on Moonstonemaiden, go ahead and click here to catch up on all the piratical adventures of this amazing woman and her steadfast friends!

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

The Adventures of Ratha James: Part Thirteen

The sun was setting in a blaze of citrine and ruby light into the churning cobalt sea beyond the massive diamond-paned windows when Ratha finally stepped into the glorious St. Clare library. Maddie, Joona, and an unusually weary-looking Eric sat near the warmth and light of a crackling fireplace on the far side of the room, soft conversation enveloping them with the love of longstanding friendship. Each looked up when the door opened, their words halting as Ratha strode towards them, a scowl tugging her lips downward and darkening her bright eyes. Eric St. Clare rose from his seat and moved to meet her with a warm smile, pulling her to him in a brotherly hug that squeezed what little breath she had left from her lungs. Even after all this time, he worried for her safety and to see her and Madeline alive again and home brought him such fierce joy. When he finally released her it was only to lead her to an overlarge chair beside Maddie and to fetch her a glass of port.

Doing her best not to wheeze, Ratha sank into the chair with relief, breathing in as deeply as she could manage in her borrowed gown. She accepted the port with a small smile and took a deep drink, letting the liquid burn it’s way down her throat to her belly, warming her from the inside out. In brilliant contrast to the jagged fire inside her, the crystal goblet was cool and perfectly smooth in her rough, weathered hands. She bit back a rye smile at the sight of her scarred hands holding something so perfect and fragile before setting the goblet down with a decisive clink. Looking back at those before her, she leveled a pointed glare at the red-haired woman sitting before her, her brows arching questioningly.

“Well Joona St. Clare,” she huffed, gesturing down to the emerald gown in disgust. “Why am I in this monstrosity?”

“I think you look lovely Amalee,” Maddie offered with a grin, running an appreciative hand over her own rose pink gown with unabashed pleasure. The sea had yet to take Madeline’s enjoyment of beautiful things and Ratha doubted it ever could. Madeline was born to see beauty in a cruel, sparkling world.

“That’s not the point,” Ratha said with a wave of her hand and a ghost of a smile at her friend’s deserved happiness. But her eyes never left Joona’s. Some new secret lurked beneath their sharp green surface, churning in the depths where love and intellect normally resided. Ratha’s heart beat a little faster. “What is it Joona, what haven’t you told us?”

“There’s a merchant ship moored in our shipyard,” Joona admitted, her mouth a slight grimace. “You’ll have seen it no doubt as you came into port.”

“Yes,” Amalee nodded, thinking back to the ship bearing the garish orange and silver flags with entwined songbirds that had given her pause before she had arrived. A matching grimace turned her mouth downward as well, settling into port with strange ships and crews so close by was never something she enjoyed, but the bulk of the St. Clare’s fortune was made on the seas and ships came and went through their shipyard far too often for it to frighten her away. The vessels never stayed long, and the crews were kept bust unloading a foreign cargo or loading a new one bound for some exotic destination before settling sail on the next earliest tide. Her women had strict orders to stay well clear of the St. Clare shipyard and the men who worked them and the sailors who passed through them. Their names and faces did not need to become known. But her women knew this well and St. Clare had never before felt the need to draw her aside just to mention a ship. Her stomach tightened into a thick fist. “Is it dangerous?”

“No,” Joona said slowly. “But there was a storm at sea some weeks ago and the vessel was badly damaged, the hull breached and a mast snapped in two. The repairs will take some days and in that time the crew will work and sleep aboard their own ship. They will not be a danger to you and yours so long as your women remain out of their way and in their sight. But unfortunately…”

“But unfortunately what?” Ratha demanded, her heart beating so fiercely that sure it would explode out of the confines of her blasted gown at any moment.

“Unfortunately, you have already been noticed. Or rather your beauty has. It seems the Captain was quite intrigued with a certain person, and asked Eric just who the exquisite brunette was wearing men’s trousers and boots as though she was born in them.”

Ratha’s face paled. How on earth did a sailor recognize her as a woman from such a distance, especially with her long hair — her most telling feature — tied up and out of her face?! “What did you tell them?”

Joona held her friend’s gaze, the very air tense with unspoken possibilities before her lips curved upward. “That you were my cousin of course. Fresh from Ireland with a few companions and on the hunt for an English husband to rival my own.”

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Falling In Love…With Nicholas Sparks

When I fall, I fall hard my lovelies. Just head over heels, all about you, and where have you been all my life, kinda hard. You know, for books and movies and stuff. Not people, or not yet anyway, lol. But either way, suffice it to say, I can switch from indifference to reverence in mere moments if I find something I like (Les Miserable) and I always love the sensation of being excited and driven to find what it is I want. Now you may be asking yourself why I’m telling you this pointless information that you care absolutely nothing about, and to that I say…I have found a new obsession love, my lovelies.

Happy sigh.

Yesterday I completed my first ever Nicholas Sparks novel (Safe Haven) and now…I have to have another! It was just so good, and fun, and dangerous, with small town Southern charm and new beginnings! I love new beginnings and romance! I mean I’ve always loved his movies, they’re guaranteed gold, but I never bothered to pick up one of the novels before. I worried that the writing wouldn’t be as good as the movie…so foolish, so wrong 😀

A Walk To Remember was my first Sparks movie and from there I was hooked (and slightly heartbroken considering the endings are usually bittersweet and sad). I just loved the story, I loved the love. Though I admit The Notebook has been so over-played that the mere thought of it tends to annoy me, but still, he just has so many good stories! For a while my favorite movie of his was The Lucky One, but I think Safe Haven might edge it out, lol. But AWTR will always have a special place in my heart.

And now I’m left wondering which one I should read next, which one will be another little slice of easy to read perfection? I don’t yet know, but I can’t wait to find out! Do you have a favorite Sparks novel or movie? Let me know!

Image From Google.

Image From Google.

Monday Movie: The Young Victoria

I’ll have a new Monday Movie next week!

moonstonemaiden

Hello my lovelies, it’s time once again for Monday Movies and this week I’ve chosen the incredibly moving and cinematically beautiful gem: The Young Victoria, starring the beautiful Emily Blunt, Rupert Friend, and Paul Bettany. The film showcases the early struggles of Britain’s longest reigning monarch, from her youth as a overprotected and stifled young woman, to the dangers of her first turbulent years and Queen, as well as the touching romance with her husband Prince Albert. With its dazzling mix of danger, power struggles, court intrigue, political unrest, romance, and above all: life — the realism of beauty, frustrations, and pain of life — The Young Victoria is nothing short of sheer perfection!

Image From Google Image From Google

Emily Blunt’s portrayal of a young and newly empowered young woman is stunning, she adds layer after convincing layer of realism to a woman who inspired an entire era. She artfully displays the impetuousness of…

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The Desert Sun

Here’s a piece of flash fiction to finish off Writing and Writing Advice Week my lovelies, I hope you’ve enjoyed all the writing posts! I tend to avoid things like this as it usually takes me quite a while to flesh out my thoughts and I’m too wordy for short pieces, but I figured I’d give it a try. No doubt the piece definitely needs work, but for the challenge of writing quickly and tersely, I’m pleased with it (and with myself!) 😀 It’s a snippet of a scene from a WIP called Ashes

Image From Google

Image From Google

The burning desert sun haloed his strong face, painting a golden-orange glow on his already dusky brown skin. She knew he knew that she was staring but couldn’t help it. Didn’t want to more like. He was so beautiful. She’d thought him so when they first met, but now…

It was this place, it had to be. Everything about this stark, isolated Realm– his Realm– made him seem more. She could see now how nervous he’d been before, in her home with her people, though she’d have never guessed it. But here he was truely comfortable. Here he was happy and confidant among his own people and the home he’d known his whole life. The difference had her near shaking…

By the Spirits she wanted him.

Six months they’d said. She’d never make it that long. Not now.

Almost as if he knew her thoughts, Varrick turned to stare at her appraisingly, a wolfish grin curling up the corners of his lips. He reached a hand out to trail his fingers along her jaw but stopped just before touching her, and she knew he was thinking of her guard and the others waiting for them below. She blushed, her father’s man was probably staring at them in the fading sunlight, watching and wondering if he should intercede… But still she wanted Varrick to touch her.

Finally he stepped closer and dropped his fingers to her lips, softly tracing the curve of them and setting her skin ablaze. “I should never have agreed to this,” he half-whispered. “You’ll be the death of me.”

The Best Of Romance: Love, Passion, And Desire

Image From Google

Image From Google

Happy Valentine’s Day my lovelies!!! I hope you are all having a great day, whether it’s spent with a significant other, friends, family, or solo! And solo means you get the entire box of chocolates to yourself guilt-free, and you don’t have to shave, so really…ENJOY IT 😀 Smile at the dopey love-struck goobers milling around you in a love-drunk daze, or at the dopey love-struck goober next to you (who’s staring at you so ardently he/she’s beginning to drool a little bit, which means he/she’s pretty secure in the knowledge that lingerie is in the near future), and know that Moonstonemaiden loves you just the way you are (Bridget Jones Reference!) and you are my favorite valentine ❤

Image From Google. From Me to You with love my lovelies!

Image From Google.
From Me to You with love my lovelies!

I’m rather fond of the Valentine’s Day post from last year — probably because it’s a list of my favorite literary men! — but I think this year’s is pretty freaking awesome too 😉  I had so many idea’s for Valentine’s themed posts and I couldn’t quite decide which way I wanted to go, so I figured…what’s better than a collection of romantic-themed mini lists?! Nothing I tell you…NOTHING!!! Except a pile of love letters from Richard Armitage and other devastatingly handsome men, telling me of their undying love and devotion to me…but I digress.

Image From Facebook. ...Yours Forever --RA

Image From Facebook.
…Yours Forever –RA

Moonstonemaiden’s Collection of Romantic Mini-Lists!

Top Love Songs For My Characters:

1) Hero: Enrigue Iglesias, Never Alone: Barlow Girls — Rosalie and Jackson (The Butterfly Garden WIP)

2) Near To You: A Fine Frenzy — Freyton and Alaina (Battle-scarred WIP)

3) Beautiful Disaster: Kelly Clarkson, Almost Lover: A Fine Frenzy, Spanish Eyes: Backstreet Boys — Calahada and Mytheous (Believe)

4) You’ll Be In My Heart: Phil Collins — Ravenna and Varrick (Ashes WIP)

5) Just A Kiss: Lady Antebellum — Kalisada and Mordred (Prophecy WIP)

 

Image From Facebook

Image From Facebook

 

Top Five Romantic Disney Ballads:

1) Now I’ve Seen The Light: Tangled

2) Love: Robin Hood

3) Tale As Old As Time: Beauty and the Beast

4) Once Upon A Dream: Sleeping Beauty

5) A Whole New World: Aladdin

Image From Google. * Swoon *

Image From Google.
* Swoon *

Top Five Romantic Movie Moments

1) Smithy regain his memory for the second time: Random Harvest

2) Tristan and Isolde (Entire Movie!)

3) Christian Forgives Satine, Satine Saves Christian: Moulin Rouge

4) All the Lyla and Louis moments: August Rush

5) The Bridge in the Rain scene: Sliding Doors

 

 

Image From Google. Come What May!

Image From Google.
Come What May!

Top Fictional Relationships:

1) Katniss and Peeta: The Hunger Games

Image From Google.  All Rights Belong To The Artist.

Image From Google.
All Rights Belong To The Artist.

2) Muller and Chime: The Charmed Sphere

3) Ally and Nawat: The Trickester Series

4) Daine and Numair: The Wild Mage Series

5) Gemma and Kartik: The Gemma Doyle Trilogy

6) Clary and Jace: The Mortal Instruments Series

Image From Google.

Image From Google.

7) Mia and Michael: The Princess Diaries Series

8) Claire and Jamie: The Outlander Series

9) Sorcha and Red: The Daughter of the Forest

10) Liadan and Bran: Son of the Shadows

So there we have it, my Valentine’s Day romantic mini-lists! I hope you guys enjoy and let me know what you think! What songs do you’re characters share, and what romantic movie or couple tops your list?

And here’s some extra Valentine’s cards…just because I thought they were awesome (and they’re Downton themed)!

Image From Google. Why yes Branson!

Image From Google.
Why yes Branson!

Image From Google.

Image From Google.

 

A Handsome Stranger At Downton Abbey

 *Warning: this post may contain a spoiler or two regarding Edith and the fourth season of Downton Abbey, if you haven’t finished the season, read this post later!*

Hello my lovelies, I hope you had a delightful weekend! Mine was spent re-watching the first three seasons of Downton Abbey since I devoured the entire fourth season last weekend (a real post about that later!) and I was feeling nostalgic and a little bit sad about some of my favorite characters. I miss Matthew and Sybil, terribly…sigh. And while I was reveling in the joy of the early pre-death seasons, and reviewing my thoughts on the happenings of the fourth season, I came to a realization…a sudden idea gripped me most fervently and hasn’t let me go since…Edith needs herself a man, but not just any man…

She needs Richard Armitage!

Image From Google He made the four hours of North and South well worth while!

Image From Google
He made the four hours of North and South well worth while!

Most of you may know Richard from The Hobbit films, where he plays the sexy dwarf prince/king Thorin Oakenshield, but those lucky amongst you know him from BBC’s miniseries North and South, BBC’s Robin Hood, and BBC’s The Vicar of Dibley. Are you sensing a theme here? I know he’s busy breaking into American films and fame, but really, at this point, being on Downton Abbey is the fastest way of becoming famous over here! We love those characters and the actors who play them and I think Richard would make a stunning(ly attractive) addition to the all-star cast. And for those of you who are unfamiliar with the SEXINESS that is Mr. Armitage, go to youtube now and type in his name or any of the shows I listed above and just wait for your mouth to start watering and your heart to start palpitating. Or better yet, just watch this video and see what I mean.

It’s kind of shameless, but I’m okay with that 😀 And I freely admit that near the end of the video, I find myself thinking “Bite that glove Gisborne, bite it!”

But back to business, Edith, she kind of deserves him really, after putting up with her horrid love life for four consecutive seasons. I mean really besides the five or six one-episode disastrous flirtations, she’s really only had two serious love interests: Strallan and Gregson, while both her sisters have met and married their one true loves. The first, Strallan — the man I rooted for for three seasons — ditched her at the altar, the bastard, and the second, Gregson, literally disappeared after going to Germany in an effort to become a citizen so that he could divorce his lunatic wife and marry Edith, and hasn’t been seen since. So really, there seems to be a spot open for a new love interest until they decide what to do with Gregson. And considering Branson and Matthew (her sisters’ husbands) are just flat out amazing, I think it’s high time Edith was properly romanced by someone the audience can swoon over as well, and who better than Richard?! He’s gorgeous, he’s intense, bossy, arrogant, aloof, and just so damn perfect for this role! He’d definitely give Edith a romance to remember (not to mention the audience) and if they want to bring Gregson back, they can and then she’d have to chose between the two, maybe he’ll appear on her and Richard’s wedding day…right before they say I do

 

Image From Google. "Hello there Lord Armitage!"

Image From Google.
“Hello there Lord Armitage!”

 

Can you tell I’ve been fantasizing about this just a little?

I’m just saying it’s an idea.

What do y’all think, do you like Richard Armitage? What’s your favorite film of his? Would you mind if he visited Downton Abbey, or is there another actor you want to see in the Abbey? Let me know!

Monday Movie: The Young Victoria

Hello my lovelies, it’s time once again for Monday Movies and this week I’ve chosen the incredibly moving and cinematically beautiful gem: The Young Victoria, starring the beautiful Emily Blunt, Rupert Friend, and Paul Bettany. The film showcases the early struggles of Britain’s longest reigning monarch, from her youth as a overprotected and stifled young woman, to the dangers of her first turbulent years and Queen, as well as the touching romance with her husband Prince Albert. With its dazzling mix of danger, power struggles, court intrigue, political unrest, romance, and above all: life — the realism of beauty, frustrations, and pain of life — The Young Victoria is nothing short of sheer perfection!

Image From Google

Image From Google

Emily Blunt’s portrayal of a young and newly empowered young woman is stunning, she adds layer after convincing layer of realism to a woman who inspired an entire era. She artfully displays the impetuousness of youth, the joy of freedom, the fear of being forced back into smothering silence, and the strength it takes to put aside one’s doubts for the betterment of not only oneself but multitudes of others. There were moments where I cheered for her, I sighed and understood how she felt, and moments where I wanted to shake some sense into her. But I think that’s what makes Emily Blunt’s Victoria so realistic; she shows the audience the good and the foolish, and you can’t help but think that the real Victoria was all the wiser for the mistakes she made in her youth.

Image From Google

Image From Google

But not to be upstaged or forgotten, Rupert Friend is absolutely perfect as Price Albert! Imagine having to court a woman who holds all the power in the relationship and who could squish your heart beneath her boot if she wants. Kudos to Albert for being as patient and sweet with her as he was, maybe there’s hope for the existence of real gentleman out there after all! I think his shyness and desire to help improve the lives of others just makes him that much more endearing, even though he occasionally steps on Victoria’s toes in the process.  Rupert Friend’s portrayal of a man struggling to find his role in a relationship and a country where he has no real influence or power is heartfelt and just downright moving. And I love that after a while, he starts to stand up for himself!

Image From Google

Image From Google

Not only is the story itself compelling and the acting superb, but the cinematography is simply breathtaking! There are many moments in the film where I find myself lost in the magnificence of it all, thinking, that’s just so beautiful! From gorgeous landscapes, to palaces and gown after luscious gown, there is plenty to adore in this dazzling film. After only one viewing, this movie became one of my most treasured and loved DVDs and every time I watch it I’m left inspired and awestruck by the life of this amazing woman and the man who always stood beside her and played the game with her, not for her (Movie Line Reference!).

Image From Google

Image From Google

So what do you think my lovelies? Have you seen the film, and if so, what did you think? Is there any scene you loved in particular? (I loved when Albert learned to dance, and the scene with their two desks!)

Writing Mr. Right: Pt. One…Recon

What it is about fictional men that causes our hearts to go all a pitter-patter and leaves us twitter-pated, with loopy grins on our faces and a perpetual squeal lodged in our throats for days after we’ve finished a book? Why do they capture our hearts and minds so easily and so thoroughly that we can’t stop thinking about them and fantasizing about how we would handle such a guy? Sigh…I don’t know, but I love them (not in the over-the-top fan-girl way, but they definitely steal a piece of my heart)! When I’m reading a book with a well-written male love interest, I’m completely one hundred percent captivated for the length of time it takes to complete that book. And if I’m being honest, there’s little chance of me getting through a book that doesn’t at least have a romantic sub-plot for crying out loud. There are a few I’ve gotten through and actually enjoyed – and I mean a miniscule amount – but romance is a crucial element in my reading happiness. With that being said, the leading men are therefore vital to holding my attention; I want a swoon-worthy man – that’s why I’m buying the book (be it fantasy, sci-fi, modern, or whatever, I’m not just talking about ‘romance’ novels here)! But how does one write a swoon-worthy man? Hmm…let’s ponder a bit on this most delicious of subjects why don’t we… *loopy grin emerging*

Ladies and gentleman don your protective goggles and camouflage face paint; it’s time for a little recon!

To write a good man, you have to be familiar with good men. That means do your research, head to the classics or your own favorite novels for inspiration and being the analysis. Why do you like the men in these books, what aspects of their personalities appeal to you? How does the author get that personality across? Does this character remind you of the character you’re working with in your head? Study study study. The more familiar you are with the type of man you want to write, the easier it will be to write him. That does NOT mean copy that author’s work/character; that is a no-no of the highest degree. These books and characters are not there for you to copy, they’re there to inspire you. Think of these novels as your textbooks, break them down, analyze them and try putting some of the pieces together yourself (most of us do this unconsciously anyway when we read, or most writers that I know anyway).

You also need to know the genre you will be writing in, and who you’re target audience is. Men are presented different ways in different genres and readers know it and have blatant expectations when they pick up a novel in their favorite section of the bookstore. This goes without saying, but if you’re writing for mature women then you need a mature man, if your writing for teens then keep that in mind because a teenage boy and a mature man are completely different (at least in the realm of books, we’re going to forget reality here for the moment). You need to know how to present your guy to the readers, make sure he fits into the parameters of the ‘type’ of writing you’re doing. Most genres already have archetypal men: gentlemen, rogues, leaders, warriors, bad boys, wounded souls etc. and they all come with prerequisite but slightly malleable, well-known rules. Gentleman tend to be cordial and understanding, rogues are deliciously impossible, bad boys have that sense of dangerous uncertainty, leaders contain a sense of hope and overpowering duty, while the wounded…well they’re wounded aren’t they. There’s no saying that you can’t bend these rules slightly to suit your own character, but you need to at least be aware of them. Readers reading a historical romance are not going to want an emo-esque whiny leading man, and fantasy lovers don’t usually break their hearts over a sharp dressed businessman. Know who you are dealing with because readers are just as picky as vicious as writers are.

But perhaps most important in the recon portion of writing a great Mr. Right, is knowing your character inside and out; this goes with any character in any story. Writers need to know the people they are writing, all the shallow edges and dark chasms, the good the bad and the ugly…everything, because if the writer doesn’t know and understand the character, how can the readers? Take the time to discover the ins and outs of this human being, the whys and how come’s, the things he doesn’t want anyone to know and habits and mannerisms that makes him who he is. What is his back story, what has led him to this moment in his life with this woman and how will his past dictate his present, and how will he handle being placed in this situation and why? Who is he? Go beyond his looks and get to know the man you want people to fall in love with, because if he doesn’t seem real to you in your head then he won’t be real for anyone else either.

So here we are, back to the beginning of our stories, a little tired and grumpy but perhaps a bit inspired. All in all troops, I believe the recon portion of writing Mr. Right has been successful, I hope you all enjoyed the ride and part two of our journey into writing the men of our dreams (the actual writing part) will be posted by the end of the week!

Evening Poetry

This is a haiku in four parts, inspired by the epic Scottish ballad of Tam Lin, a young man destined to die at the hands of the Fae on All Hallows’ Eve (Halloween/Samhain) unless he is rescued by the mortal woman who loves him. If you haven’t heard the story before, look it up! It is gorgeous and so very romantic (depending on what version you’re reading…make sure you find a good version!). I would say more but I can’t bear to give the story away!

 

Leaves darken to red

the night draws ever closer

soon Tam Lin will ride.

 

Pluck a rose Janet

draw your lover to your side

a kiss before death.

 

Hell awaits Tam Lin

chosen of the Fairie Queen —

stand ready to fight.

 

Pull him from his horse

hold tight—never let him go

he is yours to lose.

 

I’m unsure of the necessity of the third stanza/haiku — it can be read with or without it — but I left it in for now.