Courtney S. Barr

Welcome to My Kingdom!
Join me, the Princess, on my Royal Adventures in the Land of Writing!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Greetings from... A Royal Departure...

"Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air..."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
All adventures seem to find their way to a conclusion. Yet it is in the final moments that we reflect on the events and marvel at their surreality. The steps that took us to the final scene, the moments that captured our breath and left us wanton; those glimpses of magic that remind us of all that fascinates and the surge of pleasure we get when we realize how amazing this life is.
Our Royal Adventure to the Gulf Coast has been truly an adventure. We came hoping to find a fun and fantastic vacation and leave with the child like exhaustion of a day in the sun. We are tired, we are tan, we are moving a bit more slowly, reacting with a bit more snark and grudgingly collecting all our goodies before the long drive home. Yet with every single damp towel, sand crusted flip flop, empty suntan bottle and over stuffed suitcase - we pack up a week's worth of smiles, a lifetime's worth of memories and the pleasurable feeling of returning to normal life knowing that we just spent 8 days having a blast with close family....we also know it will be around 2 -3 years before we do this again so we breath a little easier.

I have enjoyed this week and all its activities, waking each morning at 6 a.m (my dog decided to try a new time schedule...WHILE ON VACATION! ;o) ), wandering the sandy shores & wading in the water collecting seashells until after 9:30 a.m., then gathering together to discuss the day's options. So many of us, so many places to go, things to see and pictures to take. We are a big group and getting around restaurants, movie theaters and the swimming pool can be overwhelming but we do it and we love it. Yes, there are occasional snide moods and snarky teenagers, whining young ones and grumpy adults but the in between, the up & around, the middle moments are when we shine. I am thankful to have a wonderful family. One that likes to have me around and welcomes me with open arms.
We missed those that had to leave early and there were a few who were unable to attend at all due to uncontrollable injuries (yep a broken arm and foot fracture was not the worst that struck our family but that is another story - one that today has high hopes for a good recovery in the next months). We are all at such different points in our lives. We move in so many directions that often a printed map would definitely help us keep up if not get us to where we should be. It is trips like this one, full of laughter & excitement that finds the checkered flag on our personal GPS systems. It allows a win that we were not expecting, that feeling of contentment similar to winning a prize and wanting to display it on the shelf.
So prize, my trophy is to sit upon this blogging shelf and shine for me to remember and for you to enjoy...

Kristin & Me driving up and down Front Beach (don't worry we are at a stoplight) ;o)

Me & My sister Nina!My niece Anna hula hooping at J Michael's restaurant - you can barely see the hula hoop spinnng around her..

Broken arm and all...texting is still the utmost important thing to a 16 year old..

Kristin in the Hot Seat at Ripley's - one handed she made it to 3000 points, not too shabby...

Watching the dolphins play...

Kristin & me on the dolphin cruise...

The "Spearhead" my sister stepped on while shellseeking...she is adamant about it being a giant arrowhead or spearhead. I must say the shape is definitely interesting as is a mark at its base that resembles an indention of where a post may have been..either way it is her treasure...

A snippet of the shells collected each morning...

A few of my favorites..

So there you have trophies, my lovelies, my memories...treat them well and I hope you enjoyed perusing our Royal Ramblings...

Have a Fantastic Friday & Wonderful Weekend...check in on Monday for the return of Monday Memos & the winner of the Harper Lee Prize Package..

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Greetings...from a Royal Adventure....

So here we are... 4. The kids are happily swimming in the pool, my brother & girlfriend are walking the sand dunes, my sister is laying on the bed, Kristin is beside me watching Lopez and well I am missing my hubby. He had to go back today due to work (don't worry we knew he would have to leave early) and well a vacation is just not as much fun without my hilarious and wonderful Marcus.

The other night our entire crew went to dinner...yeah..its a fun outing (don't warn the waitress its much more fun to see the fear on their faces when they first seat us...)
This is just a snippet...(Click to enlarge - I am taking this particular photo-do note this isn't all of us..)

We have two children here with injuries: one in a hand cast (Kristin) and one in a toe to knee cast on crutches (my nephew Coy)...this means they can't go to the beach and get in the water. BUT! Wait!! they CAN go to Ripley's Believe It or Not! & WonderWorks!! So who volunteers to take them? Why, me & Marcus! It was a blast. We all enjoyed the exhibits then we had a wonderful lunch at a beachside restaurant...

Yes, my husband and nephew are crazy...but we love'em...

But this morning me, Kristin, & Marcus woke up at 7 a.m. to go lay on the white sands of the Emerald Coast.

We literally got out of bed, grabbed our mats - towels - snacks - umbrella and headed to the sandy edge. We stretched out and...... went back to sleep listening to the waves...did I mention:

It is beautiful here!

(Check out the rainbow)

"I dropped a tear in the ocean... whenever they find it, I'll stop loving you..."

Enjoy what remains of a Terrific Tuesday!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Good Morning...from the Gulf Coast...

Good Morning my blogging friends.... I have been sporatic and poorly posting lately...for that I greatly apologize.

BUT there have been some extenuating circumstances.

In the past month my family has grown by one.

We now welcome Kristin to our family. She is my sixteen year old niece and is now a permanent member of our household. We have been working on legal documentation, school enrollment, driver's license tests, shopping, redesigning, redecorating, laughing, smiling and loving the new addition to our lives.

Right this moment my husband and her are still sleeping as I sit on the balcony of a beach home on the Gulf Coast. I can hear the early morning beach traffic, the waves crashing and feel the sun warming my skin. My little dog Peanut is beside me sniffing the air - no doubt reveling in the myriad of scents. Downstairs my other nieces and nephews are waking up and stirring in the lower floor, above me my sister and a few other nieces and nephews are moving as well. On the first floor (we have 3 floors) my parents are quietly stirring and walking out towards the pool...

YES! we are on vacation. 9 days, beach fun, warm sunshine and lots of family. More will arrive this afternoon and then we will be here - a large group of people who genuinely enjoy each other's company.

We are here to relax, to bond, to indulge and to support the coast that we have loved our whole lives. The beaches truly are open and I will be uploading photos beginning this evening and letting you all vicariously enjoy the beautiful Gulf Coast; also so you can begin to plan your next vacation in hopes you might frolic in our pure white sands...The oil spill has wreaked havoc on perception of our coast and well, I want to let you see how it is really doing.

So enjoy the day, have some good food, and check back later for more info on these announcements:

*I have been dancing around 300 followers for a while now and well its about time for a F.I.C. (Follower Incentive Contest). I will be finding a special 'beachy' prize while I am down here as well as some other prizes. So be SURE to check in on all of that.

*Don't forget the To Kill A Mockingbird Contest ends next week so go enter it too (click on the sidebar link)!

Now I am headed to get some breakfast and see what the day holds...

"A vacation is having nothing to do, and all day to do it in..."
-Robert Orden

Have a Sunny Sunday!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Quick Contest Update!!

Sara McClung never ceases to amaze me with her contests!!!
Okay Check out Summer Saradise
7 ARCs
One Blogger
One Contest
Click HERE for your chance to win:
Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
Firelight by Sophie Jordan
Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
Halo by Alexandra Adornetto
The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
Torment by Lauren Kate
Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers
Contest runs July 20 - August 6th
Don't forget about my TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD CONTEST ending on July 28, 2010
click HERE to enter

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Wednesday's Written Word on a Thursday: QUILL

The papers lay waiting,
Slips with words needing to be discovered,
A few weeks have passed,
will I find them or will I sit lost...
He hands me one - conviction in his smile...
I nod and unfold grin matches his...



The cold, cruel wind slapped at my cheeks; no doubt making the rouge I had applied obsolete.

It wasn't supposed to be this way.

Soft layers of cotton wrapped around my legs. I could feel the weight of the fabric, much lighter than was needed for the season, cling to my chilled skin. A heavier scarf fluttered behind my head, desperately trying to make me turn around and return to the house. It's pattern was simple, lines of deep navy, white and pale cerulean traveled from tassel to tassel. The thick threads knotting with each gust.

He loved blue.

Even now I could hear his voice.

"Who would not love the shades of heaven?" The words, a deep baritone that bellowed when excited. Then he would lightly kiss my cheeks. His rough beard scratching gently and his face glowing with love.

I always thought that if heaven were blue it would be the blue of his eyes on a warm spring day and that hell would be the blue I saw only once - so dark, so deep a navy that in its depth black at the core. That one moment, that one color, that one anger - I swore I would never evoke since and kept my promise.

The chuckle escaped my lips on a sob. Others had seen that darkness, had felt his wrath and knew that he was a formidable man. A man that did not back down from any creature. Yet when the cool cerulean blue returned they saw only the man I loved, the man I idolized and the man who had taught me of living.

Tears stained my cheeks, running down my chin and dripping onto the light blue eyelet dressing gown. He would not approve of the tears, of the sadness, he would tell me to remember that life is still right here. That standing here at this moment is proof that there is more to be done.

Dark brown mud glistened with dew. At the top of the mound lay wreaths of flowers, colors that seemed too bright, too perfect to be real. But I knew they were. I had walked among them in the garden for years, had played beside the petals and smelled their sweet essence. The marble headstone etched only with his name and our family symbol; the swan.

The breath ached as I took in the cold air of morning.

I know he is right.

But why must it be me...all

The scarf continued to flail behind me, towards the house. Turning I put my back to the wind and looked up.

Above me, yards away stood the only home I had known. Stately arches and gardens all at once seeming larger than before. Eccentric lines, painstakingly built generations before my own, appeared too much for one woman, one girl to oversee.

"You are the mistress, Carina, you are the one I will leave Dowelunder for. It has always been yours. For in its walls life spills, in its garden life grows, and in its heart you are the keeper. Guard it well and it will guard you." At seven the words had meant only that the castle like home was a fun playground. It was a place where hallways changed, windows were more for traveling than looking and gardens where creatures I had once thought only in my imagination lived. There had been adventures, shared with those I loved and the one man who had taught me our ways.

But now, knowing the secrets he had so carefully guarded, I saw its grandeur, its possibilities and the idea that my destiny was still to be discovered.

Glancing back at the marble grave, I saw that no longer did mud cover the mound. In the seconds I had turned grass had risen to the top; deep blue green grass. Amongst the strands small bluebells had slipped in, creating a blanket of pale perfect blue.

A pain shot through my heart at the beauty but I held back the tears and let the smile come freely.

"Yes, papa, it is mine. As you were, as I to you and as we are to the day before us. I will be the mistress, I will be the keeper and I will see you day..."

As the words left my lips I felt the object appear in my grasp. Small, silver and extraordinary - the quill of a Swan.

The key to Dowelunder and to the awakening day.
Have a Terrific Thursday!

"Each morning when I open my eyes I say to myself: I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn't arrived yet. I just have one day, today, and I am going to be happy in it." - Groucho Marx

Monday, July 12, 2010

Monday Memos! ~ warning.... ;o)

-Jenny Joseph

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people's gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.


I love this poem. There are moments when I do think about how I will be when I get older & it is in these lines that I smile the most.

I have a Great Aunt Eloise & Great Aunt Clara; sisters they are. My memory is peppered with things that they have done. I am too young to have known them in what they would say was their heyday, but the women I have come to admire still have a sensational shock and awe lifestyle. Now don't let your mind drift to south of the gutter, their shock and awe may be tame to some of you, but for me it is an enlightened experience every time I have the pleasure of visiting.

They took me & a cousin on trips during our childhood summers. Excursions to the beach where we would rent a house on the sand, listening to the soft morning murmurs of the Gulf and nights of games & laughter. They would tell scandalous stories of their youth - the men they dated, the men they loved, the men they lost and those that are forever etched on their hearts. True Southern Belles to the core, they are the kind that Scarlett would have been jealous of; their romances, adventures and even calm days are ones that could fill a hundred books! I have always admired that with each passing year they seem to get more energetic, more alive. Eloise travels often to see her children. Clara, though recently age & illness have been a battle, for years kept up as though she were ten years younger than her birthdate. Both have always been eclectic, outspoken, kind, women of gumption and barrels of laughs - refreshingly growing more with ever year.

I loved them as a young girl for the ice cream sundaes, caramel cake, trips to the Gulf and sweet disposition. As a teenager I fell in love with their ability to listen, to comment and to share their own teen trials without ever preaching or patronizing. As a woman, I now appreciate their zest, their ability to promote family, to live life, to speak their mind, to be eccentric, and to love with all their hearts.

They are my WARNING. My poem, walking around this earth reminding me of purple hats, red dresses, summers sipping sweet tea or brandy and the need for satin shoes. I am enjoying every day that I get to spend on this earth and hope that I will get to live out a life so full of fun & love that one day my own nieces & nephews will write a post about me.

I hope to do it justice... ;o)

Do you have anyone who inspires eccentricity or any habits you have that help in continuing an eccentric life? I know you do - you are a writer ;o)


Do you think you read Sci- Fi? (SyFy)...yeah..maybe genius has a great post about science fiction, but um, some of you may be surprised when you realize you already read sci-fi

Send Matt over at The Quintessentially Questionable Query Experiment well wishes on his 'sabbatical' - I know I will miss his posts!

Check out Jennifer's Featured Writer Interviews this week: First up Karen from the English Writer Blog!


Wanna win anARC of Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz? I do and Hannah's giving one away!!

Liz over at Cleverly Inked is having a VACATION GIVEAWAY - no you don't win a vacation - breathe & quit googling locations! - BUT you do win an awesome prize pack of goodies from her travels!


UPDATE! WIN an ARC of Guardians of the Gate by Michelle Zink at PJ Hoover's blog!!!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Have You Jumped? If so, are you falling or flying?

“Jump, and you will find out how to unfold your wings as you fall.”

-Ray Bradbury


This is my mind lately as I work on my WIP:

My wings have unfolded – I am getting the hang of gliding, my only worry is after landing will I be able to take off again and find my way through revisions… ;o)

I don’t know. But I DO know that I am excited to be someone who stepped off the ledge, throwing myself into an adventure that I will forever be changed by…


How about you…have you jumped? Are your wings out and are you discovering all there is to see with ease?

- Or -

Are you like me, sensing that flying is awesome, landing looks scary and the return trip might be a reason to invest in Dramamine?

Just remember:

“Aerodynamically, the bumblebee shouldn’t be able to fly; but the bumblebee doesn’t know it so it goes on flying anyway.”

-Mary Kay Ash

Don't forget to enter my To Kill A Mockingbird contest!

Have a Terrific Thursday!

Friday, July 2, 2010

A Contest & A Mockingbird....

They're certainly entitled to think that, and they're entitled to full respect for their opinions... but before I can live with other folks I've got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience.
~Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird, Chapter 11, spoken by the character Atticus

A steep, treacherous cliff shoots down on the right side of the car. Inhaling I grip the seatbelt and lean towards the middle of the seat. I do not want to see the depth of the sheer dropoff if the car were to swerve ever so slightly, I do not want to think of the danger below. The curves wind as we journey towards Monroeville, as we head to shop at the Vanity Fair factory store and spend the day at the Pecan Festival. My tiny fingers grip the book in my lap, my eyes closed tight until we reach an area of flat road. I release the breath I did not realize I was holding and turn the page.

I continue reading, my nine year old brain accepting the words but bookmarking phrases to ask my mother. She drives carefully as the 45 minute drive to Monroeville comes to a close. I am excited to wander the vendors at the festival. I have new wicker furniture in my room and I want a few things to match the unicorn blanket on my daybed. The words "footwashing" Baptists brings me pause. This is a phrase I cannot just bookmark. My mind sees what a child would consider the definition to be and in my gut I know I am mistaken. That this will be a question for discussion at lunch. We plan to go to Radley's Deli - I LOVE their grilled cheese and root beer. The idea of a day with just me and my mother makes me grin.

The minutes fly by and we are soon at our destination. The festival wraps around the courthouse. The streets smell of kettle corn, hot dogs and cotton candy. Vendors talented with woodwork, paint brushes, quilting surround the brick building. Across the street at the light murals depicting scenes of Scout & Boo peeking around a tree and the subject of the book now laying on the seat of the car watch over the residents and visitors. The temperature is cool, an Alabama fall is magical and here where characters live and breath there is no comparison...

We window shop, we purchase, we laugh, we argue over the worth of a small pillow in the shape of a unicorn and whether or not I will finish the red candied apple that has stained my lips. Lunch comes quickly and with it the reminder of the phrase in the book. I ask my mother and she sighs. I read things well beyond my years she says and it becomes harder and harder for her to explain things to me. I tell her that I am a big girl, that I want to read everything! She laughs and begins to tell me not just what the phrase means but of the author, of the book and how there are pages yet to come when I may ask more questions.

She touches my hand and asks me a very important question: "Courtney, are you any more important than the waitress?" Standing near the cashier is a young woman. She appears to be much older (meaning in her late teens). At first I think how I am a princess (seriously I took this title pretty highly as a kid - not like I do now *wink*) but then I shake my head. She asks me what I see when I look at the young woman. I describe her clothes, her hair, even her smile, my mother grins when I remember the chocolate of her eyes, and how she's very nice because she gave me extra cherries for my root beer. I never once mentioned the dark brown of her skin.

My mother nods and does not speak at first. Then she tells me she loves me, that she is proud of me and that yes I am big now and that I will enjoy the book even more after I finish it. I blush forgetting the quiz only enjoying the praise. I do not realize yet what she is getting at and to be honest it is years later when the memory slams me in the gut.

She was in many ways testing me. Trying to see if I had somewhere in my few years learned of a horrible judgment, whether or not the story would be something I would cherish and love or something that I would find fault with its ending. She knew then how Atticus, Jem, Boo, & Scout lived amongst the pages, she knew of the themes threaded amidst the setting; how they could be construed - how some might think Atticus wrong or that things should have turned out differently for the characters. She was merely trying to settle her own mind about the way her daughter was being raised, about whether or not the lessons on loving people had seeped into my young heart and if I had let them take root.

For those of us in South Alabama, the story is as famous as any. Nelle Harper Lee wove a tale that speaks of the way things happened and how many people should have handled situations, how parents should talk with their children, listen to their children, have faith in their children and how the color of your skin does not tell the color of your heart. 50 years ago she wrote a story that still stands the test of time, that still resonates in any town, in any state, in any country. For me it is a story of great love, of courage, of conviction and of understanding. I often looked for Atticus in my own father & was ever more pleased to find even more traces of that wonderful character in the living breathing version who kissed me goodnight.

I love this book and have read it many times, each time discovering some snippet that I must tuck away, some dialogue that I must etch into memory. Nelle gave us a gift and every year the tiny town that neighbors my own celebrates it, even if she feels all the hub bub is a bit silly, I hope that Nelle realizes how much she molded my life and so many others...

So when I journey down there for the celebratory festival this year ( July 8 - 11, 2010 ) I will walk the square. remember the story, the day I made my mother smile and the lessons I have learned even since...

I think there's just one kind of folks. Folks.
~Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird, Chapter 23, spoken by the character Scout


So folks in honor of this marvelous novel I would like to give away a prize package...

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50th Anniversary

One copy of To Kill A Mockingbird (50th Anniversary edition)
by Nelle Harper Lee

Product Details

The DVD version of To Kill a Mockingbird starring Gregory Peck

Sur-prize from the Monroeville County Heritage Museum

Open to US & Canada only...sorry Internationals ;o)

I will announce the winner on August 1st
(Harper Lee's birthday is April 28, so why not choose that numeric ;o)

Have a Fabulous Friday!