T. L. Morganfield

The Feathered Serpent's Nest: the Reading Life.

The Books I Love: Watership Down

Watership Down - Aldo Galli, Richard Adams

Watership Down was the only book I've ever read in secret.


In sixth grade, we spent a couple of really snowy days sitting inside during recess, watching movies. One of those movies was Watership down. At the time, I was really into cartooning, but most of my experience with the medium was Walt Disney movies and shorts and Don Bluth movies like The Secret of Nihm. Watership Down was a completely different animal from anything I'd seen before--violent and gory, with a bittersweet ending, and the story was compelling as all hell. I'd always thought of rabbits as cute, sweet little creatures that were fluffy and gentle (and if the Cadbury commercials were to be believed, they pooped those delicious Creme Eggs). The movie was an eye-opener to say the least. I wanted to check the book out from my elementary school library, but to my dismay, someone had lost it and the library had never replaced it. watership_down


So I casually mentioned at home that I was interested in it, and I was taken aback by the strongly negative reaction that drew. "It's an awful book, so pointlessly violent!" I didn't mention that we'd already seen the movie at school, afraid of getting my teacher in trouble (because I adored her), but it seemed quite clear to me that I wouldn't be able to convince anyone to take me to the public library so I could check it out. No one explicitly told me that I couldn't read it--the only time my parents plainly stated they didn't want me reading something, it was Stephen King's work, though even then it was couched as "I'd rather you wait until you're 14 to start reading those. They have a lot of adult content in them."--but I read the conversation to mean that I wasn't allowed. 49766


Seemingly shut down at home, I enlisted a friend to help me procure a copy . She checked it out from the public library for me (oh the trust that entailed...or the youthful foolishness we can sometimes display), and she became my Watership Down dealer. I was astonished the first time I saw the hardcover; it was monstrous, the biggest book I'd ever seen. But I wasn't deterred. I read it when I wouldn't get caught, keeping it hidden under my mattress when I wasn't alone, and taking it to school with me to read during recess. It was the perfect plan....


Except sometimes I wasn't the brightest kid. I casually mentioned to my teacher that I wasn't supposed to be reading the book, and following her teacherly obligations, she phoned my mom and told her what I was up to. When mom came home that night, she came to my room (just seconds before I'd managed to tuck the book under my comforter) and I fully expected to be in serious trouble. To my relief though, she gave me permission to go ahead and read it, but warned me, "You probably won't like it. It will give you nightmares." I considered putting it aside at that point, even though I was really getting into it, but since I no longer felt the need to read it clandestinely, it seemed a waste to give up. So I continued reading it, searching for the terrible things that were going to give me nightmares. WSSketch


I never did find what was so vile and scary about Watership Down; in fact, the more I read, the more I liked it, and the more I fell in love with the characters, especially Bigwig. The book became a minor obsession of mine for a couple years in middle school (and I habitually checked it out from middle school library--which did have a copy--until Mom bought me a copy of my own). In the end, it became one of my favorite books and I've read it numerous times over the years, always marveling how my eleven-year-old self managed to not only make it through such a huge, poetically-written book but fall in love with it too. I spent hours drawing the characters and plastering my bedroom walls with scenes from the book, like the one to the right; though they were often in full color, complete with the blood and gore. When my mother would ask me about all the blood, I'd tell her, "It's art, Mom!" She still gets a chuckle out of that.


The Books I Love: Where the Red Fern Grows

Where the Red Fern Grows - Wilson Rawls


Where the Red Fern Grows is the first book I remember ever falling in love with; my second grade teacher read it to us in class, and being someone who really liked dogs, I was immediately enthralled. I remember one kid kept telling the rest of us, "the dogs are going to die, you know?" but none of us believed him--no one would ever kill off dogs in books (this was long before I read Old Yeller). And even though he was right, I still loved the book dearly; I loved Old Dan and Little Ann, and I desperately wanted to be Billy Coleman--I stole my brother's raccoon-skin cap he'd gotten at Frontierland at Disneyland and from 2nd grade until middle school I wore it almost everyday: I would have worn it to school if my mother would have let me. I also wore overalls all the time and I named my Pound Puppies after Dan and Ann, and I swore that someday I would get some coonhounds of my own. I definitely had what Rawls had called "puppy love" in the book.



I don't know the exact number of times I read this book, but it has to be up near fifty; my teachers had to force me to read other books, and when I was flunking math in fourth grade, my mother didn't ground me from my friends or from the television--no, she grounded me from reading Where the Red Fern Grows. And it worked, for I busted my hump to get my math grade up and get my book back. Wilson Rawls was also the first author I ever wrote a fan letter to; unfortunately he'd succumb to cancer about five years earlier, but his wife Sophie sent me a nice letter that I kept for years and years, until it got lost as some point. I read the cover off of at least two copies, and before I had my own copy, I kept my school library's copy almost constantly checked (I adored the cover of their copy, which isn't the one shown here--I was unable to find a picture of the actual cover they had--and often thought of reporting it missing just so I'd have it forever, but my mother didn't raise thieves for children....). It didn't matter that I bawled my eyes out over and over when I read that book; nothing has quite held my heart the way this book had, and continues to do so today.


I tried reading it to my daughter, but to my sadness, she had very little interest, and when we were halfway through and she heard from someone about what happens at the ending, she didn't want me to finish. It was just too emotionally brutal for her and she wanted nothing to do with it. Years later I tried again with my son and this time we made it all the way through, and when I closed the book for the last time, he just kind of hid his head in his pillow and cried, and nothing I said comforted him. I figured he'd hated it too, but to my surprise, when we came across a $5 copy of the 1974 movie version, he begged me to buy it and we both sat down and watched it, and he cried again (it takes a lot to make me cry anymore). We haven't watched it since then, but I was glad to have least been able to share my love of this story with at least one of my kids. Lily


And back in day, I'd always talked about how someday I was going to get myself two coonhounds, just like Billy had, and wouldn't you know, that is one childhood dream that came true. I wasn't looking for a hound, but when I saw Lily's adorable face on the Humane Society of Boulder Valley's website, I fell in love immediately and made sure I was at the shelter first thing the next morning. I really considered naming her Little Ann, but in the end we settled on Lily, which suits her just fine. She's not a Red Bone, like the dogs in the book--she's a Treeing Walker--but she's every bit as sweet and smart, and I really can't believe I waited until my 30's to finally get a coonhound of my own.

MileHiCon Schedule

MileHiConI'll be attending MileHiCon here in Denver October 18-20th, so you'll be able to find me at the following panels:


Friday 18th:


4:00-5:00 pm - Author reading: Hilari Bell/TL Morganfield (Wind River B) - I'll be reading from The Bone Flower Throne and I'll be giving away a free copy of the book to an audience member


8:00-9:00 pm - Autograph Alley/MHC Meet, Munch & Mingle (Atrium)


Saturday 19th:


11:00-noon - Researching Fiction (Grand Mesa B-C)


Sunday 20th:


3:00-4:00 pm - Border Crossing: Non-Western Fantasy (Mesa Verde A)  

Source: http://tlmorganfield.com/milehicon-schedule

Bone Flower Throne Available for Pre-Order on Amazon

The Bone Flower Throne - T.L. Morganfield

My first novel The Bone Flower Throne is now available for pre-order on Amazon. Currently the product description is a bit messed up, but hopefully Ingram will fix it soon. The paperback version will start shipping October 7th, and the ebook will be available for immediate download at about the same time, maybe a few days later.



How to Write Irresistible Query Letters: An easy-to-follow guide to writing professional queries that produce sales--for articles and nonfiction books

How to Write Irresistable Query Letters - Lisa Collier Cool Compared to online resources like Query Shark, this book really isn't worth the money.
The Subtle Knife  - Philip Pullman Whereas I felt the first book really dragged (and I wouldn't have made it through it if it hadn't been an audio book), this one really grabbed and engaged me. My favorite of the trilogy.
The Amber Spyglass  - Philip Pullman Better than the first one, but not as good as the second one.
Imzadi (Star Trek: The Next Generation) - Peter David As far as Star Trek books go, I remember rather liking this one.
Smashing WordPress: Beyond the Blog (Smashing Magazine Book Series) - Thord Daniel Hedengren Pretty good. It answered all my questions when I was building my own WP site several years ago and was able to build something that looked pretty nice.
The Sword Dancer - Jeannie Lin Another good work by Jeannie Lin, though I felt this one suffered a bit too much from overly fast pacing and easy-outs rather than exploring the harder options.
Ink - Sabrina Vourvoulias Emotionally poignant and eerily plausible given the current political climate. I particularly enjoyed the use of magic realism. Will definitely look for more of Vourvoulias' work in the future.

Virgin Slave, Barbarian King (Harlequin Historical)

Virgin Slave, Barbarian King (Harlequin Historical) - Louise Allen So I liked this one way more than I did the last Louise Allen book I read. Still some instances of strange sentence formation that had me rereading, but at this point I'm guessing it's a stylistic thing for the author. I enjoyed the setting and the characters and never found myself annoyed with either one (which happened in the last Allen book I read). Looking forward to reading more of her work.

The Dragon and the Pearl

The Dragon and the Pearl - Jeannie Lin So much about this book took me by surprised. I hated Li Tao in Butterfly Swords and really wanted to see him skewered and dead, but this book completely turned that around for me. I was also looking forward to finally reading a book where the heroine wasn't a virgin, but darn if Lin didn't rip that rug out from under me (though the twist made perfect sense and I rather enjoyed that I didn't see it coming.) Now I can't wait for her next book to come out.

An Illicit Temptation (Chinese Tang Dynasty)

An Illicit Temptation - Jeannie Lin This one picks up after the ending of My Fair Concubine and follows the story of Dao as she's traveling to the north to be married. Dao wasn't one of my favorite characters from that book, but I liked her a bit more in this story. She's better developed here, but I was left feeling that she wasn't particularly strong. I guess my issue is that in a lot of Lin's work, the women see their honor and duty--to family and empire--as a strength, and I have no issues with that per se, but given that most all of them share this quality, the characters have started blending together for me. Jia from Silken Thief is the one exception to this I've seen so far and as a result, I found her very compelling.I hope Lin starts exploring more characters like Jia in the future. Of all the characters in this particular story, I found the hero most interesting. I was glad for them to end up together in the end if only because I liked him so much and wanted him to be happy (quite honestly, I didn't care if Dao was happy). The change in scenery from Imperial China to exploring the culture and people of the outer cultures was a nice shift too.

Capturing the Silken Thief

Capturing the Silken Thief - Jeannie Lin Finally! A non-virgin heroine. I was starting to think that the heroine in historical romances had to be a virgin. I'm glad to see this is not the case. So, overall I rather enjoyed this one. The heroine is a take-no-shit kind of girl, and I liked how she was morally ambiguous. She's no starry-eyed innocent and has no compunction about going after what she wants, so I found her to be one of the strongest characters I've read in a romance thus far. The story doesn't seem related to any of the other novels or novellas that Lin has written thus far, and it was quite well self-contained.
The Lady's Scandalous Night - Jeannie Lin This one worked much better for me than "The Taming of Mei Lin". With the characters, everything just fit together really well and I had no problems believing these two could be in love even after having just met formally for the first time. The end wraps up a bit too cleanly for my taste, and I was left feeling like I missed something because I have no idea what Ru Shan did--either to force himself into hiding then to get himself out of it--leading me to believe that this must be an off-shoot of another book that I haven't read yet. Overall I really enjoyed this story.

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