Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Awen: Book One of the Sacred Oak Series (Part 2 of Chapter 1)

If you haven't read the synopsis, beginning prophesy, the prologue and part 1 of Chapter One, you will want to scroll down and read it first to have context for what you are about to partake of. The following is the rest of Chapter One, which I'm releasing for feedback. Next week... Chapter Two. I hope you enjoy ~ Rebecca
I give you: Part Two of Chapter One of The Awen: Book One of the Sacred Oak Series

   Ian needed a moment to collect his thoughts and face what he thought might be an unusually quiet dinner. He continued to meander away from where Reese could see him; out past the stables to the knoll where the two boys used to play “King of the Hill” when they were younger. At the top he stood and gazed at the panoramic view, taking a moment to remember how thankful he was for the life his parents worked so hard to give him.

     The estate really was fantastic. With sixty acres of sprawling grounds, horse stables, ornate fountains, lush gardens, streams, woods and a relatively short walk to the coast there was no end to the imaginative and troublesome things a boy could get himself into. In many ways it was a delicious way for the son of a servant to grow up. When Ian was prowling the grounds without Reese tagging alongside of him to keep him in his place he didn’t even remember his father’s low standing. 

     As he stood looking over the grounds, Ian knew one thing for sure: he would go out and make his own way in life someday, and though he was relatively gracious towards Reese now, he knew he would never spend the best years of his life trimming hedges and cleaning muck out of the fountains for one Reese Williams. He supposed he knew this from one of his dreams, but he did not know how it would all work out quite yet.


     Ian stood on the knoll for several moments feeling a little sorry for himself if he were honest and a bit lonely. With summer approaching he knew that Libby would soon be coming, as she always did, and normally the thought of her coming would have brightened his mood, but if his dreams about her were indeed true, things would not be as happy as last summer. 

     Ian had always enjoyed the fact that Libby was half-American and half-Welsh and happened to be Reese’s first cousin on his father’s side. It leveled the playing field a bit that Reese was related to a “commoner,” as the Williamses often snipped when they thought the children weren’t listening. Libby’s mom, Catherine, a former Williams herself, had married a middle-class American twelve years ago after meeting him while she was traveling to New York. It had been quite the scandal in the family and Ian loved that it gave him Libby--an ally against “Lord Reese” when he needed one and a girl to pester when he didn’t. It’s the little things in life, he thought to himself.

     Libby was eleven years old and half-decent as far as girls go, though Ian would never admit it. In fact, it always brought him and Reese great pleasure to torment her when she spent her summer holidays in her mother’s homeland. It was the only time when Reese treated Ian as almost an equal. Libby, you could say, almost brought them together.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Awen: Book One of the Sacred Oak Series (Part 1 of Chapter 1)

If you haven't read the synopsis, beginning prophesy and prologue you will want to scroll down and read it first to have context for what you are about to partake of. The following is part one of Chapter One, which I'm releasing for feedback. Next week... the rest of Chapter Two. I hope you enjoy ~ Rebecca

Aber, Wales @ sunset
Chapter One: Winter Haven Manor  

     Ian stood at the water’s edge engaged in two of his favorite boyhood pastimes: skipping rocks and spending one-on-one time with his father. He and his dad gazed out at Cardigan Bay from the coastal town of Aberystwyth, Wales--known as Aber to locals--where he had been born. The pair stood in comfortable silence, the kind of quiet that said they were enjoying each other’s company so much that talk wasn’t necessary. Simply watching the boats was so entertaining there just wasn’t much need for words.

Aber's warf area
     Besides the occasional pointing out of something interesting and the one-word response or a quip to brag about how many times their rocks skated across the water before plunking below the surface, there was only the toot of boat horns and the distant rumbling of the men’s voices who were working the docks. Talking was for when the two of them walked over to the pier and haggled over the cost of the catch of the day. Talking took place as they made the thirty or so minute stroll back to their home on the estate known as Winter Haven Manor.

Aber sunset
     On days like this being together and soaking up the late spring sun when his dad wasn’t working helped all of life make sense to Ian. And so, every Saturday things were set straight again. They were just father and son and nothing else mattered in the world. There was no Winter Haven and he was no longer the son of a lifelong servant to it. In fact, he was able to step away from the fact that for generation after generation his family had been servants of Haven.  He was Ian Jones, a twelve-year-old young man, and he had hopes and, well, dreams. A lot of dreams, in fact, and those were what he was thinking about today.

     When the sun began to slip down on the horizon and the raging waves began coming in from the Irish Sea, Peter Jones, Ian’s father, disturbed his thoughts with what he said every Saturday, “Well, son, I bet your mom is beginning to wonder where we’re at. What do you say we get her some fresh fish for dinner?”

     Ian had always nodded and said, “Yep, she’d like that,” and fell into step beside his dad. Today, though, he looked for one last rock and heaved it as hard as he could over the water before joining his dad. He really wanted to tell his father about his vivid dreams but was at a loss for how to begin. Ian decided to start off slowly by asking his dad a few questions before he shared his news.

     “Dad, tell me what it was like away from Haven,” Ian started.

     “What do you want to know?” his dad said as he looked away from the bay towards the hills and distant mountains.

     “Why did you leave and why did you choose to move back and become the estates’ caretaker?”

     Silence reigned for a moment, and then with a big intake of breath, Peter Jones began to share: “I suppose I left because I’d met and married your mother and wanted to set out to be my own man.  I guess it was bad luck mostly that brought me back--not that I’m not thankful for the job. You know your grandfather fell ill about the time you were born and wasn’t able to do all his duties caring for the grounds any longer. With you being born, your mom and I needed money to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table. There just wasn’t work anywhere else and, well, I knew the job inside and out from being raised here. At first I began working the estate from our little place across town until my dad passed, and then they offered your mom the nanny job caring for Reese and us the cottage to live in. We just couldn’t turn it down.”

Ian’s dad pursed his lips and a stony expression took over his face. Ian sensed that his dad was reliving a distant memory.

“It seems like there’s no way to stay away from this place. Everyone says it’s our destiny,“ his father added quietly.

A castle in Aber
With that, Ian knew the mood had changed by the now uncomfortable silence between them. He thought that asking questions would open a door for him to share with his father about the last several months, but he decided that now was definitely not the time. They reached the fish market, got what they wanted and then made forced small talk all the way home. 

Shoot, Ian thought, I’ll have to find another way.

As they neared their small thatched cottage next to the main house, Ian turned again to his dad.

“Thanks for working so hard to take care of us,” he said, seeing one of the reasons the Joneses had returned to Winter Haven out of the corner of his eye. Reese, the only child of Patrick and Victoria Williams, was ten yards from the main house practicing archery.

“It’s my job, Son.  I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Peter answered, rubbing his son’s head and turning towards the cottage.

     Ian watched Reese take aim with a determined look on his face until he saw that he was being watched.  Reese’s facial expression then turned to one of smug overconfidence as he set an arrow sailing precisely into the center of the target ahead of him.

“Show off,” Ian muttered to himself as he turned away and watched his father duck into their home to prepare the fish to fry.

     It was moments like this that Ian took pride in the fact that he was a full year older and over an inch taller than his occasional nemesis, the self-proclaimed nobility of Winter Haven Manor, Reese Williams. The two boys had been raised like brothers and were best friends until the day that Reese realized two things: first that Ian was naturally better at just about every boyhood skill than him; and second, that Ian was merely part of the hired help.

     Reese often talked poorly to Ian and his mom but would settle for playing with Ian when the other children in the area had taken enough of Reese’s spoiled, rude behavior. Ian for the most part didn’t think he had any other choice but to accept Reese’s offer to play and then to make sure things were the way they should be: he would trounce Reese in marbles, netball, cricket or whatever else was the game of the day. Ian had always liked that he was better at every sport or game than Reese. Better that is until archery came along. The Williamses could afford to give Reese lessons, and he’d left Ian in the dust.

     Ian had often overheard his mom describing him as having a “thin but sturdy frame, a brown mop of hair on his head and dark eyes that are both fierce and tender.” Ian wished she wouldn’t say embarrassing stuff around him but secretly thought she summed him up rather well.  People often looked into Ian’s eyes and then told his parents he had an “old soul.” It seemed like a compliment, so he thought maybe it was. It was some of these same people who also tended to say that he was “quick and competitive.” When Ian heard this he always added but usually only competitive in good ways in his head.

     Despite what people said, Ian knew he carried himself like he was the son of a servant and that his poorer-looking clothing made it evident to anyone who did not already know his station in life. He wanted to yell when wealthy people of standing looked right past him in town yet stopped to talk to Reese. When guests came for gatherings or dinner parties at the estate and handed him their coats and bags to hang up instead of saying hello he wanted to climb in a hole.

     Reese on the other hand, was average in height and weight and was unremarkable in every way. His hair was dishwater blonde, and besides a dusting of freckles on his nose and cheeks there was not one thing that stuck out to help people remember him. Ian couldn’t stand it that in spite of Reese’s looking totally average, his royal bearing and fine clothing were evident. Somehow he made up for being so ordinary by carrying himself like a king. That trait alone made Reese unforgettable.
NEXT WEEK ... The rest of Chapter ONE
Thanks for reading ~Rebecca

Rebecca Dunning is an award winning writer who lives in beautiful Colorado with her husband and three children. She not only loves to read and write but also enjoys hiking, climbing mountains 14,000 feet or higher, traveling the world and about anything else out-of-doors. Ms. Dunning is a regular contributor to The Gazette, Pikes Peak Parent and FreshInk. Rebecca is also the author of two children's books: The Real-Life Princess and Beetle Hunter as well as her first novel, The Awen: Book One of the Sacred Oak Series.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Team Abolition to Take on the Tough Mudder

L-R Clint Dunning, Jennifer Manly and Adam Manly
This is an article I wrote for FreshInk on a race our team is doing. I'm not quite nuts enough to do it, but I got my first press pass and will be doing an interview with the founder of the race. Once I attend, I will be writing another article so check back and see some pictures too.~ Rebecca

Three members of Team Abolition-Colorado Springs will be taking on the Tough Mudder on Sunday, June 26th 2011 in Beaver Creek, Colorado.

Team Abolition members Clint Dunning, Adam Manly and Jennifer Manly, will be heading into the event that is roughly eight (8) miles in duration that in the Tough Mudders words will, “test  toughness, fitness, strength, stamina, and mental grit all in one place and all in one day.”

Dunning, Manly and Manly are part of a grass-roots group of friends, dubbed Team Abolition, which is dedicated to spreading awareness about the atrocity of human trafficking and raising funds (for through sponsorship to help end modern-day slavery. Team Abolition does this by engaging in events like running, climbing Colorado’s highest peaks ( and other intense events-- events like the Tough Mudder.

Tough Mudders ( are not for the faint of physique or heart; in this case starting at 8,100 feet and ending at 11,440, means competitors are ascending a total of 3,340 feet during the competition; much of it in mud or icy water conditions.  If that isn’t a bit daunting then consider this: only 7 out of 10 “Mudders” finish, meaning 30% drop out along the way.

The course begins with five thousand (5,000) others and includes twenty-four (24) obstacles to surmount; quite a few requiring the help of those around you,  including a series of 12 (twelve) foot walls and enormous bales of hay. A further sampling of the course includes: army crawling through mud under eight (8) inch high barb wire, dragging a log up a ski slope before descending, three different sets of cargo nets, running through waist high mud, crawling on hands and knees through a mountain of snow, climbing to the top of a greased quarter pipe, swimming under a series of barrels tied together on the surface of the water and edging through a series of constricting pipes that dump you into muddy freezing water. The event then finishes by leading you through a series of live wires, some which carry a 10,000 volt shock.  

When asked about the choice of this particular race Jennifer Manly stated, “We saw this race as something pretty extreme. This race will no doubt bring about blood, sweat and tears as does the fight to end human trafficking.  We wanted to represent the 27 million slaves world-wide and their struggle for freedom.”

Team Abolition represents their current sponsors, Freedom Chiropractic ( and Artisan Decorative Finishes ( in this year’s events.  The group also has a July 27, Pikes Peak and a September 17, Mount Bierstadt climb left in their schedule during the 2011 season.
To find out more about ending modern-day slavery visit:

Thanks for reading ~ Rebecca

Rebecca Dunning is an award winning writer who lives in beautiful Colorado with her husband and three children. She not only loves to read and write but also enjoys hiking, climbing mountains 14,000 feet or higher, traveling the world and about anything else out-of-doors. Ms. Dunning is a regular contributor to The Gazette, Pikes Peak Parent and FreshInk. Rebecca is also the author of two children's books: The Real-Life Princess and Beetle Hunter as well as her first novel, The Awen: Book One of the Sacred Oak Series.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

To Save A Life: The Quest to Rescue Charles Manly

 I'm honored to have guest blogger and friend, Jennifer Manly, share a bit about her quest to save her son, Charles.

Please feel free to repost and share in any way you may want to!
Hope, grace, love, restoration....So many things go into these powerful words. I am truly honored to be able to share my story of restoration and hope with you- Jennifer Manly

I am Jen, former
Army brat, and eldest of three and now a 31 year old mother of five, living here in our beautiful Colorado. I've always been a  free spirit with a zest for life which evolved into being a "wild child" in my early preteen years. After some very traumatic circumstances, I fell into a deep depression which landed me in "the system." I was in and out of group homes, hospitals, and "therapeutic" foster homes. Shortly after returning home at 15 I ran away which lead me down a true path of destruction. I found myself hitch-hiking around Texas and Mexico with a man ten years older than me who was an alcoholic with a horrible addiction to crack.  I found myself broken, alone, homeless, and pregnant at seventeen.

Might I say, it was not my best year...

Twenty weeks into my pregnancy reality sunk-in; I was going to be a mother. I called my parents for help and moved to Leavenworth, Kansas. Despite all my greatest efforts to pull a life together for my son: getting my GED, working two jobs, and attending college, his father was still in my life. 

To the devastation of my son, I allowed his father to watch him while I was in school and working. It was not until I came home to an empty house and had to retrieve my five month old son from a local crack house (mind you, I did not have a car and walked around for hours trying to find my child in the dark) that I realized again something had to change.

I joined the Air Force when my son, Joshua was 9 months old and he went to live with my parents until we were reunited in Great Falls, Montana when he was 18 months old. Life was a continual up-hill battle. My son had a difficult time adapting and I stumbled often. Only the healing power of Christ could restore my broken life.

Now, I am on a new journey. My son, now Charles Joshua, after being adopted by my husband, has been diagnosis with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and sever ADHD. After years of therapy, nutrition changes... you name it, he was recommended by multiple psychologists and psychiatrist to be placed in a residential hospital for the safety of our family. Having been a  child of the system I know this is not the answer. Countless hours of prayer and many tears later, God has opened a door for healing through a ministry that loves and speaks life into teens like, Charles. Shepherd's Hill Academy is our answer to prayer. The hurdle is the tuition that is over $50,000 annually. 

Again, after more prayer, I felt God speak to my heart saying, "This is nothing in comparison to how big I am.  I love your son and desire his heart even more then you."

Hard to even imagine!...

We took a leap of faith and began selling things and cashed in our small 401K. Then we  prayed more. God has been moving in the hearts of others in mighty ways. We now have raised over $12,000!! We have had several yard sales that have brought in a $1,000 at a time, and a Range Rover was donated to our family (which is presently for sale). Chic-Fil-A even allowed us to host a fund raiser. Miracles have begun to happen!! Through, hearts like yours God has continually showed His out-stretched arms. He has shown us His hope, His grace, His love,and His desire for restoration in my sweet boy. 

~Jennifer Manly
Here are a few things we are doing to support the Manly family. Our goal is total restoration ... and nothing else.

~ Rebecca

  • Visit: to hear more about Charles Manly or to give.
  • Colorado Springs friends: Come to Souper Salad on Friday, June 17th from 5-8 pm for a fund raising dinner
  • Colorado Springs friends: Visit Freedom Chiropractic on June 27 from 9-11 am or 3-6 pm for a Community Outreach Day.For $25 you receive: A full medical history, thermography scan, orthopedic evaluation, and then a followup with the doctor to go over findings and recommendations. (a $300+ value).The entire amount will be designated for the Manlys'. Call 719-533-0303 to hear more.
  • Colorado Friends: Join us for the run4youth 5k walk/run on October 1 @ 9am
  • Donate to and Shop @ The Manly's Yard Sale @ 8933 Bellcove Circle, 80920 this Fri and Sat, June 10 &11 from 8am- 2pm

  • And Of course: Pray! Pray! Pray!