April 29, 2011

Synopsis

Alright, so, as many of you know, I am working on a new story (possibly a new series, we'll see where it goes). Thought you might be interested in some insight into my writing process today I will give you a very short synopsis as to what this new story is about (kind of like what you'd get if you picked the book up in the bookstore, flipped it over, and read the back cover). Next week, I'll give you some of the back-story, the place where we started this writing endeavor (many of the ideas for this new story are from my husband, hence the "we" there). I rarely ever write completely alone - I need people to bounce ideas off of... thankful my family is so willing to be my sounding board so often!

Ok, so, this new story, so far, is called "Grayden's Tale" - but that's just my working title... will come up with a better one later on. Here's the short synopsis so far:


In the small village of Dalsea lives a young man named Grayden. He and his best friend, Wynn, have recently been accepted to the Academy, a training ground for warriors. As they begin their journey away from everything familiar into the vast unknown of the future, they take with them all their doubts about leaving home and their excitement about a new adventure.

On the eve before they embark on their long journey across the country to the Academy, however, Grayden discovers an old man living high up in the mysterious tower on the outskirts of town, a tower everyone thought long abandoned. The old man, Dalmir, is angry with Grayden for disturbing his quiet contemplation. Despite his anger, something makes him come down from his tower, and invite himself along on Grayden and Wynn’s journey to the Academy.

Traveling with this enigmatic old man, whose face and energy bely his white hair and beard, Grayden and Wynn aren’t sure what to think. They find themselves awed and a little frightened of him, as well as curious about how he has managed to survive at the top of the tower without anyone seeing him or knowing about him for all these years.
As they travel through cities, fly in the amazing airships, and get hijacked by pirates - turning their journey into a far greater adventure than they ever hoped for - the two young country boys begin to grow up into the realization that the world is more vast and complex than they ever dreamed.

April 27, 2011

Guest Writer - Laughter is Good for the Soul

When we were up in Washington visiting my brother and sister-in-law, I was trying to work on my newest book (I've been posting snippets here and there on this blog you can go here or here if you need a refresher on what the story is sort of about). I had hit a wall (momentary writer's block) and so I asked Grant if he had any ideas for me. My brother is very creative, and has often been someone I can bounce ideas off of. Here's the direction he recommended I go with my story... what do you think?


  

    “Rambo will take you there.”
    “Oh good I feel much better with Rambo taking me there.  You imbecile why would I let some homicidal ex marine touting a 60 cal take me anywhere?”
    “Well, he’s gotten better.”
    “Oh goood, he’s gotten better.  Now I’m all relieved and like ‘cheerio’ let’s go adventuring.  You’re all da da da da let’s go find Bambi and tell him that Flower’s caught the SNIFFLES!  It’s all over the mountain and through the woods from here.  All mai tais and yahtzee eh?  All lead pipe cinch, eh?  All biscuits and gravy? All add the cream and hold the sugar?  Well let me tell you I didn’t graduate out of pull-ups to be bibbed around by some maniacal man suffering from.. from a lot of angst!  All this pubecent rage!  All this teenage mad at my father syndrome. SHAME ON THEM!!!... no... I’m leaving.... and I’m taking the monkey with me!













I think it fits rather well with the overall theme, don't you? Did I mention that my whole family has a rather odd sense of humor? I love it. Sometimes you just need a little laughter in your life... helps you knock over those writer's block walls.


I believe excerpts and bits and pieces of First Blood, Bambi, The Grinch (Jim Carrey version), and The Rock were used in the creating of this post... (possible other references that I can't place at the moment), but considering how completely out-of-context they are and the major changes made to them... I think they fall under the "Fair Use" category, don't you?

April 25, 2011

Poetry Corner

Welcome back to Poetry Corner Monday! Sorry I was quiet last week. Had some... rough stuff going on...

In the vein of focusing on Kiernan Kane (my dad's favorite character in my quadrilogy), here's a song he sings in one of the books: (I believe it's the third one, based on the date)

Kiernan’s Song 6-25-04

The minstrel draws you
The minstrel calls you
The minstrel beckons
Come listen, come hear.

When the days turn dark
And the firelight dim

When cold are your hearts
Come listen to him.

The minstrel sings
And strums his strings
Let your heart take wings
Come listen, come hear.

When the road seems long
When your strength is gone
You’ve forgotten his song
Come listen, draw near.

Let the minstrel remind you
With his song let him find you
From the darkness unbind you
Come listen, come hear.

The minstrel draws you
The minstrel calls you
The minstrel beckons
Come listen, come near.

April 18, 2011

An Interview with Kiernan Kane

Taking a week off from Poetry Corner Monday...

One of the groups I am in, Breakout Books, is doing character interviews. I thought this was a fun idea, so I joined the party. I thought I'd go ahead and post the interview here on my blog as well. Enjoy! (BB stands for Breakout Books, KK stands for Kiernan Kane) They will be posting this interview on the Breakout Books Facebook page on April 27th.

Author Name: Jenelle Leanne Schmidt
Book Title: The Dragon’s Eye
Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.com/Dragons-Eye-Jenelle-Leanne-Schmidt/dp/1419602012/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1302634056&sr=8-2

BB: Tell us your name and a little bit about yourself.


KK: My name is Kiernan Kane. I am a wandering minstrel, and I have seen much of the world. I have sung in palaces and in marketplaces, for kings and commoners. I have a flair for the dramatic, and enjoy amusing people and making them laugh. I am in love with a wizardess, and although I believe she loves me in return, she refuses to admit it because she fears that she would be forced to watch me grow old and die while she stayed young and beautiful. However, there is more to me than meets the eye.

BB: What role do you play in your book?
   

KK: I play the role of a minstrel. I tell stories, sing songs, and get swept up in an adventure with the other characters almost through complete chance. Or at least, that is what they all believe...


BB: How did you meet your author?
    

KK: I was introduced to my author through inspiration she received from a song by Gordon Lightfoot called “Minstrel of the Dawn.” It inspired in her a desire to have a seemingly amusing, nonsensical character who was something of a troubadour, but ended up being far more than that in later books.


BB: Do you get along with your author?

KK: 
We get along very well. However, I annoy her constantly by popping up in places where she did not intend for me to be yet, or by doing things she did not plan to have me do. I am the character that most often “writes himself” in her books. However, while she claims to be exasperated with me over this, I think she secretly enjoys the fact that I do some of the work for her!

BB: Is this your first role in a publication?
   

KK: Yes.


BB: Do you plan on returning in other books?
    

KK: I do. And I have. I show up in the Prequel to this book, “Dawn of the Dragon’s Eye” and play an integral role in the two sequels, “Twilight of the Dragon’s Eye” and “The Minstrel.”

BB: Do you like how you were written? 
   

KK: I love it. I am acrobatic, fun-loving, hilarious and much deeper than I seem. Throughout the quadrilogy, I constantly get to pester and aggravate Brant (one of the other main characters) and he is often very close to furious with me... which I find to be great fun, and very useful. He is the sort of person who must do things because it is in his character to do them, and not because anyone tells him to.

BB: What is the most interesting thing that happened to you in this book?
    

KK: That is a difficult question to answer. I would have to say that the most interesting thing was the battle between Llycaelon and Aom-igh, and getting to witness first-hand the duel that ended the battle. But in addition to that, I got to travel with the Princess of Aom-igh, meet the last remaining wizardesses in the world, saw dragons return to the surface of Aom-igh after centuries of living below ground in great tunnels, and saw a king abdicate his throne to a young hero. There was plenty to keep me entertained throughout my journey.

BB: Who is your favorite character in your book, besides yourself?  Why?
    

KK: I would have to say Brant. He is the main character in this series, and while I do annoy him constantly, there is a brotherhood of shared experiences and mutual respect that grows between us throughout the series. I even get invited to his wedding in the third book!

BB: Is there anything we should know about you that we haven't been told in your book?
   

KK: I am not just a minstrel. But other than that, I can’t tell you anything that wouldn’t ruin the surprise at the end of the series.

BB: How do you feel about the way your story ended?
   

KKI am very satisfied with the way my story ends. I feel that it wraps up very nicely, and though there are struggles and tragedies and sorrows along the way, I do enjoy a story that ends well.

BB: Thank you, Kiernan Kane, for agreeing to meet with us and chat a little bit about yourself. It has been very enlightening.

April 15, 2011

Freebie Friday

Another excerpt from my new project: Grayden's Tale (which is just my working title) - it's the same one I've been posting excerpts from for a while now...

******

The first rays of sunlight crept over the horizon, illuminating the thin layer of frost that covered the ground. Each blade of grass glistened in the nacreous light of dawn. As the sun rose higher in the sky, the warmth of its rays gradually melted the frost into crystal beads of water.

    The village was draped in garlands of late-summer flowers. Unlit lanterns lined the walkways of the town. Multi-colored ribbons fluttered from various doorways and were wrapped around fence posts, swaying gently in the morning breeze. The town was a veritable wash of color and cheer.

    “Grayden! Wake up! Wake up! Today is Harvest Festival.”

    Grayden groaned and threw an arm above his head, squeezing his eyes shut and pulling his blanket over his face. He did not know what time it was, but he was certain it was earlier than he wanted it to be. A small, but powerful force landed on his stomach.

    “Oof,” he grunted.

    The covers were pulled back and he squinted blearily into a pair of bright green eyes. He sighed, he would never get back to sleep now.

    “What time is it, Seren?”

    “I don’t know, but the sun is up. Today is the big celebration.”

    “I know, Seren. Do you know what happens today?”

    “We celebrate the harvest, and we throw a party for you and Wynn.”

    “And we also generally rest, Seren. That means we get to sleep in.”

    “I slept in... well, a little. Mother said I couldn’t wake you until the sun was all the way up, I waited a whole hour.”

    Grayden grinned, “Well, for that incredible feat of patience, I suppose I should thank you.”

    Seren nodded, her blond curls bouncing around her small face, “You’re welcome.”

    “Know what else happens on Harvest Festival?”

    “No.”

    “Big brothers are allowed to tickle their annoying little sisters who wake them up early.”

    “No...” Seren hesitated.

    Grayden grinned and formed his hands into claws, growling. Seren shrieked and threw the covers over his head, diving towards the edge of the bed. Grayden caught her leg and started tickling the bottom of her foot. Seren squirmed and giggled, kicking at him with her free foot, shrieking and laughing.

    The door to Grayden’s bedroom swung open and Grayden looked up at the cheerful face of his mother. He let go of Seren who half clambered, half fell out of the bed. Their mother put her hands on her hips.

    “Grayden was demonstrating one of the Festival traditions, I see.”

    “Mother! You mean it’s true?” Seren said, eyes wide.

    “I’m afraid so... but only once during the day,” she winked at her son and Grayden grinned. “Come on, Seren, I need your help stirring the biscuit batter, and Grayden needs to get up and get dressed for his big day.”

    Seren stood up and bounced out of the room. Dara smiled after the little girl and then met her son’s gaze. Grayden saw all her emotions jumbled together in her forest green eyes. They mirrored his own emotions: pride, fear, joy, sorrow, happiness, and a little bit of wistfulness.

    “Your father’s out milking the cow. He thought you should get to sleep in this day, but he said there was a pile of wood that needs chopping after you have breakfast.”

    “Yes, Mother.”

April 13, 2011

Production Studio

I've been thinking about this for a while now. And I thought I would go ahead and blog about it, for those of you who are interested in following my journey through publishing.

I am sick of writing query letters. I haven't written a ton, not as many as most authors, by far. But it just isn't anything I enjoy doing. I don't mind the rejection letters, those are pretty easy to take. It is my understanding that you receive YEARS of rejection letters before you finally break through into traditional publishing. That's fine. But it's really not how I want to spend my time.

I want to spend my time creating new stories. Not trying to get an agent or publisher to look at my stories. I want to retain the rights to my written works, not split it with some unknown agent who may or may not really have my best interests at heart. If I'm going to split my work with someone, I want it to be someone I really trust, with my life and my words.

That is why I am abandoning the quest for a traditional publisher. There is so much involved in that world that I really don't want to have any part of. I don't want to sell the rights to a Hollywood production studio, just to have them mess it up the way so many books have been messed up by the movie production world. I want someone I trust to make the movies (if they ever get made... that's the LARGE-SCALE dream). :)

Instead, I am throwing my efforts and my books into the Production Studio (we're in the very early stages, it doesn't even have a name yet) that my family is creating. This production company is the brain-child of several members of my family, my brothers, my dad, my husband mostly, and they are beginning to work very hard at getting it up and running. The main purpose of this company at first will be to promote, market, and distribute: my books, my sister's CDs, and my sister-in-law's artwork. It will also be focused very much on targeting the audience we want, the audience that many traditional publishers, record labels, etc do not believe exists, but that we know exists in abundance: Families.

We are hoping, in the next few months, to have a website up and running, that has regular Friday web-casts featuring my books being read out-loud (like they used to do on the radio years ago with books and other stories) in installments each week, songs by Brittany Jean, and artwork by Angelina... along with interviews with the artists themselves. This would be step 1 of the marketing process. We might even migrate all our blogs over there... we'll see what the capabilities are.

Eventually, we hope to open this company to other authors, singers, artists, film-makers outside of our family. We hope to have our own film-studio (which is great, because Evan's about the only person I'd trust to make my books into good movies anyway)!

So that is our exciting on-the-horizon-news... and the reason you won't be seeing me make any more updates about query letters and rejection slips from now on. If you would be willing to join us in prayer about this endeavor (and that we would come up with a name that we all love and has the meaning we want to convey) that would be muchly appreciated!

April 11, 2011

Poetry Corner

Dazzling Darkness 1-11-01

There is a darkness in my soul
Where brightness used to flicker
Left is just an empty hole
That now grows dark and darker.

The foaming, empty sea is full
Of what confuses me
Both deep and dark yet light and shallow
Perhaps it holds the key.

Emotions wash over my heart
Love and hate, joy and sorrow;
Light and dark, leaving battle scars
Fighting to win over my soul.

Near comes a diamond glow
Piercing the heart of me
Bursting into my soul
Leaving me empty of me.

The darkness terrifies my heart
Yet I run to its embrace
With light peeking into my eyes
I stare at the dark, ugly face.

Enthralled and in horror I realize
The face is none but my own
Under the witness of stormy skies
I battle myself alone.

Darkness so bright it blinds me
I dash down the grim, haunted road
The world seems ghastly and empty
I shiver alone in the cold.

Long lonely shadows are all I hold
As I peer at the path ahead
Horror creeps into my soul
As I realize, I am dead.

Then, out of the sky, a scarrรจd hand
Reaches down to comfort me;
Lifting me up, helping me stand
Leaving me pure and clean.
~Jenelle Schmidt

April 09, 2011

Midnight Misadventure Part 2

So, at midnight on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving morning, my cousins and I slipped away from the house and crept down the road. We knew that our parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles had all come to expect this thing to happen, it was a very well known tradition, but it was more fun to sneak out than to ask for permission. It was chilly outside, frost had appeared on the ground every morning for the past few weeks, covering the stiff grass with a layer of crystals that melted in the late morning sunlight and faded away without a trace in the warmer afternoons. We were all praying for a white Christmas, as we prayed every year, with childlike anticipation of mounds of white fluff, perfect for building snow forts and snowmen.
My cousins and I crept down the street; the walk seemed endless, though it was only a few blocks. Finally, finally we reached the church, and there sat the bell in all its glory, the sharp image of black metal stood out starkly against the surrounding darkness. We stood and stared at it, fascinated, our breath puffing out in clouds, illuminated by the soft ethereal light of the moon.
    We exchanged conspiratorial grins as we stared at our goal. Then with excited whispers we scrambled up and stood next to the bell. We paused for a heartbeat, reveling in the mounting excitement and danger of the moment, and then we grasped the wheel and began to turn the bell.
    We had become experts at this over the years, and we knew that someone had to make sure that the clapper did not hit the side of the bell as we turned it upside down. Kim was in charge of this and Gayle and Wendy and I were in charge of turning the enormous wheel. Slowly, ever so slowly we strained to turn the bell upside down. Finally, it was in position; we paused, listening to the silence, as the night seemed to hold its breath in anticipation. Then we let go and dashed towards the grove of pine trees that stood on the corner of the church property. We huddled there, shaking with suppressed laughter as the bell swung back and forth, clanging over and over again, its deep, clear tones ringing out and disturbing the quiet Morenci night.
    “Let’s go home,” Gayle said quietly, when the bell had finished ringing and silence had once again enfolded us in her arms.
    “No!” I whispered in agitation, “This is our last childhood adventure, we will never have this time again. If we leave now, we will regret it for the rest of our boring adult lives!” I can be very persuasive when I want to be, and although all three of my cousins were older, wiser, and more mature than I, I knew that they were still children at heart as I was. I also knew that they could not argue with my statement, illogical as it might have been.
    Gayle’s argument weakened as Kim joined my ranks, “Come on Gayle,” she said teasingly, “Where’s your sense of adventure?” Wendy nodded, but did not vocalize her agreement.
    Gayle finally grinned, “What can it hurt?” She asked.
    I stopped myself from letting out a cheer. Together, the four of us crept back up to the bell and repeated the process. If anything, we were all a little more on edge. We turned the bell upside down and then scattered, only this time, we ran around towards the back of the church, intending to loop around and run home. However, before we had gotten more than five steps from the bell, we heard an ominous noise.
    SLAM! The door of the pastor’s house swung open with a violent crash, and then we heard a dog begin to bark ferociously. Then, panic ensued. We all dashed away in different directions, terrified. In the darkness I lost my cousins, but I kept running as fast as I could, without knowing exactly where I was going.
    As I fled, I wondered what had happened to Kim, Gayle, and Wendy. I did not know what had happened to them, but all I could think of was that a dog the size of the Beast in the movie Sandlot was chasing us. I had visions of my cousins being devoured in one enormous bite by the vicious, drooling monster who by now must be coming after me, I could hear its heavy footsteps coming closer and I could feel hot breath on the back of my neck. I ran and ran, my feet pounding the ground, keeping time with the frenzied thumping of my heart. Suddenly, I saw the grove of pine trees and leapt for it in desperation. I made it to safety, and found myself surrounded by all three of my cousins. I was relieved to see that they were all alive and well.
Before we had a chance to calm down, the beam of a flashlight blazed into our eyes and a gruff voice said, “I guess you think you’re pretty cool, don’t you?”
    Wendy, the oldest by ten minutes, stepped forward and spoke in a quavering voice, “I’m sorry sir, but we’re Roger Porter’s grand-daughters and ringing the bell is kind of a tradition.”
    The pastor suddenly seemed embarrassed, and he lowered his voice and said grudgingly, “Well, you really scared my wife.”
    “We’re really very sorry,” we all chorused, our hearts beginning to calm.
    Then the ferocious barking began again and we all recoiled in terror as the pastor’s huge beast jumped out at us.
    “Oh, don’t worry,” the Pastor said kindly, “Pixie won’t bite.”
    We stared at him, and then we stared in shock and embarrassment at the growling beast, that was actually a tiny miniature poodle with bows on her ears. The Pastor turned and went back inside, and the four of us dashed back to Grandma and Grandpa’s house as though we had a raging forest fire chasing us. When we got back, we related the story to our parents, who laughed at us; it was somewhat upsetting that they found our terror so amusing, but within a few moments we were laughing with them. We had gotten our “last” adventure, and what an adventure it was!

April 07, 2011

Little Star by Anthony DeStefano - Not What I’d Hoped For

I ordered “Little Star” because I have fond childhood memories of another book called “The Tiniest Christmas Star.” I had hoped that this would be in a similar vein.

However, this story was disappointing. The story is about a little boy who is looking up into the sky trying to find the Christmas star from when Jesus was born. So his father tells him the story of the Christmas star. It starts out as a cute story about a tiny star that the other stars ignore or make fun of, kind of like a “Rudolph” story. The tiny star sees Mary and Joseph on their way to Bethlehem and sees that nobody will let them in, and empathizes with them. Then, Baby Jesus is born, the tiny star is concerned that Jesus will be cold, so he shines as brightly as he can to warm the baby. The other stars tell him to stop or he’ll burn himself out, but the little star can’t hear them. All through the night the star shines and warms the baby, and in the morning, the star is all gray and cold because he burned himself out.

The little boy is sad that Little Star is dead, but his father says no.

“You see, Little Star did a wonderful thing that night in Bethlehem. He gave his life so the baby Jesus could be warm. And God gave him a great reward in return. Little Star will be remembered forever and ever.”

“You mean Little Star isn’t gone?” the boy asked.

“No, he’s alive!” the father said. “Every Christmas, when we celebrate Jesus’ birthday, people all over the world place a star on top of their Christmas tree to remember him.”

Okay. It’s a cute story. Sure, it’s a super fictionalized account of the story behind the Christmas star. The problem I have with it, is that while it alludes to Christ’s sacrifice so that we might live, the story’s focus at the end is on the STAR, rather than on JESUS. It just left me feeling rather... I dunno... empty, I guess. Maybe the disappointment was that I really loved the story up until the last 2-3 pages, and then it felt as though the narrative suddenly fell flat or turned a corner and left me behind. Also, we know that the star shone for YEARS, (and moved oddly) because the wise men followed it for a very long time and didn’t find Jesus until he was around 2, so the whole supernova thing hasn’t really ever made a lot of sense to me. Even type II supernovae only really last for a few months. But I digress.

Pros:
-cute fictional story about the Christmas Star
-tells the story of Jesus’ birth from a different perspective
-gets the details about Jesus’ birth correct
-as I said earlier, alludes to Jesus’ sacrificial death (and sort of His resurrection)
-great illustrations
-my 2 year old LOVES it - good length and number of words per page

Cons:
-very fictionalized story about the Christmas Star, posing as a true story
-focuses on the star rather than on the true meaning of Christmas


Maybe I’m being nit-picky... but something about the way the author chose to end the story really bothered me. I’m sorry, I really wanted to like this one.



I received this book for blogger review through the Blogging For Books Program. They asked for nothing other than an honest review, but the FTC requires that I make that clear.

April 04, 2011

Poetry Corner

Some Dreams Do
10-19-01

“Once upon a time…”
Or so the story goes,
And then in perfect rhyme
The fairytale flows.

To the beautiful, captive princess
The perfect prince or knight
Rides to save her from distress
And everything ends all right.

But “once upon a time” isn’t now,
Not all tears end in laughter,
And we can’t always see how
It could end “happily ever after.”

Life isn’t a fairytale, it’s real
Still, things aren’t always as they seem;
Though it becomes painful
Cling tightly to your dreams.

No, there is no perfect rhyme,
And perfect knights are few,
No “once upon a time,”
Yet, some dreams do come true.

~Jenelle Leanne Schmidt

April 02, 2011

Midnight Misadventure

Our hushed whispers seemed to ring out with deafening clarity in the cold, November night air. The barely suppressed giggles slashed through the sacred midnight silence. Along the street, darkened windows stared out at us from sleeping houses with grim, unblinking, and judgmental glowers.
On the very edge of Michigan in a tiny town called Morenci, there is a beautiful brick, one-story house. It is placed on a quiet road across the street from a large field of corn. The pretty little brick house has a large, grassy lawn around it and right out front is a tall, old, peeling, white sycamore. Its trunk has split and grown in two different directions, and each trunk is too thick for a grown man to encircle with his arms.
Upon entering this house, good smells assail the nose and warmth seems to surround the heart. This is my grandparents’ home. At Thanksgiving every year, our family all comes together and gathers at this house to celebrate God’s goodness and constant loving care. It is a happy time, cheery and secure, full of good things to eat and comfortable companionship, and most of all family. It is here that my story begins.
On my mom’s side, I have three cousins who are my own age. These cousins in particular have always been my best friends, for we share a bond that we always believed made us more than cousins. My mom is their mom’s younger sister, and my dad is their dad’s younger brother; to put it simply, sisters married brothers. This made my cousins and me more like sisters than merely cousins; therefore, it was always great fun when we got to spend time together. We were a mischievous four-some, and we were constantly getting into worlds of trouble, but it was harmless trouble, and I think our parents were generally more amused by our antics than upset by them.
At the time of my story’s beginning, I was in eighth grade; Kim was in her sophomore year of high school; and Wendy and Gayle, twins, held that most envied title of seniors in high school. Simply said, it was our last year as children. In a year, I would be entering that vast, and hitherto unexplored, realm of high school, and Wendy and Gayle would be leaving forever on the great adventure called college. We suddenly realized with the dramatic flare that children have, that we might possibly “never see one another again.” So it was decided, this Thanksgiving we had to have one final adventure, an adventure that would go down in history, an adventure worthy of the occasion.
There is a certain adventure that has really become more of a tradition over the years, a tradition that can only be carried out when we go to Grandma and Grandpa Porter’s house. Down the road, two blocks from our grandparents’ house, is the Morenci Baptist church. It is a small church; the congregation is composed of no more than two hundred people. The windows are stained glass and the pastor and his family live in a tiny, yellow-brick house, just next door to the church. It is a real-life, small town church, with all the traditional country-style hospitality and potluck dinners almost every week. However, there is one feature of this church that sets it apart: the bell.
The bell is not in a tower, it is set on a rectangular-shaped mound of earth that rises about three or four feet above the level ground. The bell itself is suspended in the air and attached to a great wheel, larger than a grown man. To ring the bell, one must turn the wheel, thus causing the bell to turn with it until it is completely upside down; and then the person must release the wheel, thus allowing the bell to swing back around and down, swinging back and forth and ringing several times before finally stopping.
Every time we went up to our Grandma and Grandpa Porters’ house, it was our tradition; my cousins’ and mine, to sneak out at midnight at least once during our several days’ stay and walk down to the church and ring the bell. This Thanksgiving was to be different though. We had determined that this time we would not simply ring the bell and run away, this year, we would ring the bell twice.


.......... TO BE CONTINUED .............. NEXT WEEK!