The Worth of a King Cover Reveal

It is my pleasure today to participate in the reveal of a cover of a book I’m really looking forward to. It’s The Worth of a King by  Kendra E. Ardnek. Yes, the same Kendra I often do reveals and releases for. And I still complain about her books not coming faster.

I have read a large part of Worth already and quite enjoyed it. I don’t know how it’s going to end yet, but I suspect a mixture of triumphant and ominous. Both of which are awesome in their way. But enough of my speculations. You want to see the cover.

Cover in…

 

3…

 

2…

 

1…

 

Pinterest!

 

Okay, this isn’t the cover. It is coming though, it’s the next picture down. But I thought I would share an inspiration pic first and a dialogue snippet.

 

Not the cover. Just some smoky crown from Pinterest.

Kendra says: This is an aesthetic pin that screamed Worth to me for some reason. It ended up inspiring the titles of the book’s three parts.

“Oh, Sidi, it’s a crying shame how little time we’ve spent together of late,” Nadilynn declared, as Obsidia left her bedroom, Christa a step behind her. “And now there are only a few weeks before my birthday!”

“We are greeting our guests together today,” Obsidia pointed out.

Your guests,” Nadilynn corrected. “My suitors.”

Sighing, Obsidia slipped her arm through Nadilynn’s. “Come along.”

“And even now, one of your girls is trailing behind us.” Nadilynn gave a melodramatic sigh as they started walking. “I’m beginning to think that I’ve been replaced.”

“You are leaving me in a few months,” Obsidia pointed out, shaking her head. “I had to think ahead.”

 

And now we have the cover in all its glory.

. . .

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Isn’t it pretty? It’s a little different to Kendra’s other covers, but Worth is just a little different. It’s not fairy tale or portal fantasy. It’s, well just read the description. I can’t explain it well enough.

 

Princess Obsidia’s father was killed the night she was born. Since there was no male heir, the crown went to the man who killed him, by Dialcian law. This never bothered her, growing up, and when it comes time for Obsidia to choose her husband, she chooses Prince Delaney, the son of that man, with little hesitation. Only then does her life start crumbling around her.

Adrian expected to live a normal life, taking his father’s place at the print shop when his father retired. But, on his eighteenth birthday, when the princess’ engagement is announced, his world is ripped out from under him when he learns that his life was a ruse, and he is the twin brother to the princess – and expected to take back his father’s throne.

Delaney knows that his country is hovering on the brink of war – and that his father may harbor murderous intentions towards his intended bride due to her Zovordian blood. He wants nothing more than to protect Obsidia and his people, but as merely prince, he has little power against his father.

The ancient war between the Dragons and the Immortal King and Queen is nearing its climax, and the three are already caught in it.

 

The Worth of a King will be coming out on the 27th of August.

(That seems ages away, but I know it will come all too quickly.)

You can add the book on Goodreads here and the first chapter is waiting for you to read it right here.

 

Kendra E. Ardnek, as always, loves fairytales and twisting them in new and exciting ways. She’s been or acting them on her dozen plus cousins and siblings for years. “Finish your story, Kendra,” is frequently heard at family gatherings. Her sole life goal has always been to grow up and be an author of fantasy and children’s tales that glorify God and His Word.
Find her online at: Website || Blog || Goodreads || Facebook || Twitter || Amazon 

 

You can find more snippets from  the book along with inspirational pins, more copies of the cover, and the comments of awesome people who are not me, at all these lovely places.

Savannahjaysworkshop

Dreams and Dragons

Unicorn Quester

Kiri Liz

Morgan Elizabeth Huneke

Read, Write, Laugh, Dance

Elvish Pens, Fantastical Writings

Books, Baking, and Cowgirl Boots

Jenelle Schmidt

Jessica Greyson

The Music of a Story

The Flowering Vales

The Rambling Rose

Written Rest

The Labyrinth

Bible and Books

Jaye L. Knight

 

 

Top Ten Books on my To-Read List

Today I’m talking about the books I’ve been waiting to read the longest. Otherwise known in some cases as books that interested me an I forgot about.  I’m going by my Goodreads list here. I suspect there are some books I’ve wanted to read that are older than the list. I’m doing a combined fiction and non-fiction list because that’s what I have. I’m also dropping some books because I don’t really care about them any more.

1. When Every Month is NaNoWriMo by Larry Brooks.

Probably still something worth reading, though I have no intention of attempting 50,000 words every month.

2. Bitter Winter by Jaye L. Knight.

When I first put this on my to read list, it was nameless Book 5. I don’t even think Book 3, Samara’s Peril had a title yet. Bitter Winter still isn’t out, and though I’m not complaining, I will order the paperback the first day it is available.

3. Haphazardly Implausible by Jack Lewis Baillot.

It’s out of print and not cheap. But I love the title and I did love Brothers in Arms, also by Miss Jack.

4. Hebros by Nicole Sager.

I probably won’t read it. I didn’t love the Heart of Arcrea enough that I feel like reading more in the world. Just because there’s only so much time I can spend reading.

5. Orphan’s Song by Gillian Bronte Adams

I almost bought this at the Omega Writers Conference, but I thought I would wait for an opportunity to get one with the new cover. I wish I had bought it instead of the novel I did get for myself. Would have been more interesting. The rest of Gillian’s books are also early on my to read list, but I won’t duplicate them.

6. The Word Changers by Ashlee Willis

It takes place inside a book and the allegory sounds fresh. Still want to read.

7. The Shadow Things by  Jennifer Freitag.

I had no memory of this, but I want to read it. Realistic historical fiction in post-Roman Britain that’s centered around the arrival of Christianity? Yes! And there’s good reviews from people I respect.

8. Our Accidental Adventure by Ness Kingsley

It sounds as fun as when I added it to the list. But I really ought to finish Our Intrepid Heroine before starting another of Ness’s books. And given that I was reading that book with my brothers, and we’re all busy, it’s gotten stuck. I’ll have to finish it alone, because I do want to know is she kills the dragon or not.

9. Honor by Rachel Rossano

It’s been a long time since I read Duty. I know I like it, but romance, even in this  medieval fantasy setting, isn’t something I go rushing after.

10. The Christian Imagination compiled by Leland Ryken

I really really want this. It’s actually on my Amazon wishlist, not good reads, but when I saw it I couldn’t leave it off.

Bonus: The Tough Guide to Fantasyland: The Essential Guide to Fantasy Travel by Diana Wynne Jones

I’ve wanted this since I found it existed, but it’s not easy to find at a reasonable price. Oh well, It probably won’t help me write anyway.

 

Go check out the link up at thatartsygirl.com if you want to see what books a whole lot of other people haven’t read.

Alternatively you could stay here and leave a comment. What books have you wanted to read for a long time? Are any of them the same as mine?  Have you read any of mine?

Amber Eyes Review

About the Book

Destiny can be cruel
Darkness retreated from the light of the scarlet moon, but has since grown even stronger. The Mistress of Shadows has found a new pawn—one that may be the key to unlocking the door to her underground prison. Now evil threatens to escape its shackles and destroy the land.

In the aftermath of loss and betrayal, Jayden’s fight with the enemy still isn’t over. But while she isn’t sure she can stop the Mistress alone, leaving her friends might be the only way to keep them from being consumed by the darkness.

With lives hanging in the balance—and no time for error—can Jayden make the right choice?

AmazonBarnes & Noble Christianbook.com

 

 

My Review

I have mixed feeling on Amber Eyes. The first book, Scarlet Moon didn’t really grab me. There’s nothing particular I disliked, but neither did the concept intrigue me, or the characters grab at my heart. With Amber Eyes, I started out feeling the same, but as it went on, I found myself loving more of the situations and the characters.

It is a complex story, with many different threads and characters. Sometimes I didn’t fully follow everything, though that’s probably because I didn’t remember Scarlet Moon especially well. I probably should have re-read it first, but I couldn’t be bothered and it was a little late by the time my brother mentioned he’s had it checked out of the library for longer than I knew I was reviewing Amber Eyes

The whole Deliverer’s harnessing the power of the Creator to fight against the Mistress if Shadows things is part of what makes me feel a little uncomfortable. I think too much, you see, and try to classify the theology and worlds of the stories I read, and this one is hard to put in a box. It’s not the Christian semi-allegory type of story, and it’s not the type of story where there’s a Christ figure somewhere in its history, or a church at the current time. It’s something else and I don’t understand it. I think it’s taking after more popular fantasy in some ways, but from a Christ influenced angle. But I don’t read the more popular fantasy, so I have little idea what I’m talking about.

The other thing that makes me uncomfortable is the darkness in the story. Because it is dark and violent at points. I know there are reasons to write darker stories, and that the dark can make the light shine brighter, but I don’t have to like it. It’s more than human darkness and it’s not confined to just a small part of the story. It’s not made fun of or laughed over. So, if you can’t take dark stories, I don’t recommend it.

Yet despite all the darkness, there are beautiful moments. There is hope. There is love. There are moments of happiness and heroes rescuing people. There are even the rare humorous moments. There is dancing, and friendship. There is self-sacrifice. I loved this part of it.

As far as magic in this book, there is a few kinds. There are the talents of the Children of the Blood Moon. They’re simply specially abilities they are born with. There is the magic of the healers, Also a born magic, and a self-sacrificing one. There is the magic of various creatures, plants, and beasts. And finally, there is evil. The evil is clear and obvious. That is one thing I like about Amber Eyes. The characters are complex. Characters who are fighting for good don’t always do right. Yet there is always at least a hint that it is wrong. There might be plenty of characters who think the end justifies the means (or plain don’t care if either are good), but that’s certainly not what the book is presenting as true.

I always try to learn something when I read a book. I didn’t get anything big out of Amber Eyes. I can’t even say what the theme is. But I did learn a few little things: A guy can never have too many sisters.  Be honest with your friends. Appearances can be very deceiving. Sword fighting is like dancing. (Really!) Don’t trust evil people, and liars. If you are forced to choose between two dreadful options, don’t blame yourself for the result. You didn’t cause it to happen.

So that’s the book. Read it if it sounds like the kind of book you would like. I can’t deny that it’s well written with well-drawn characters. And it did hook me enough that I will likely read Book Three when it comes out. If I had it now, I know I would. I doubt I would read it a second time, but I do want to know where the story ends.

 

About the Author

S.D. Grimm’s first love in writing is young adult fantasy and science fiction. She is represented by Julie Gwinn of the Seymour Agency and author of SCARLET MOON. She currently has four books under contract, including the remainder of her YA fantasy series Children of the Blood Moon. When she’s not writing or editing, Sarah enjoys reading (of course!), practicing kickboxing and Brazilian jiu jitsu, training dogs, and binge-watching shows with great characters. Her office is anywhere she can curl up with her laptop and at least one large-sized dog. You can learn more about her upcoming novels at www.sdgrimm.com.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Instagram | Goodreads | Newsletter | Spotify

 

Facebook Launch Party

Calling all book readers! Join author S.D. Grimm as we chat about her fantasy novel Amber Eyes on January 30th from 8 PM to 11 PM EST (6 PM CDT and 5 PM PST).

Grab your favorite drink and snack and be prepared for a fun time of chatting with SD, games, and giveaways.

Special guests Nadine Brandes, Lindsay A. Franklin, and Sara Baysinger will also be sharing their books and joining in the fun.

RSVP Today

 

Giveaway

Want to dive into a new world? Enter to win a signed copy of both Amber Eyes and Scarlet Moon, a grimmlie dragon of the dragon on the cover (made by the author), a charm bracelet (made by her Captain America), and a $10 amazon gift card. (US only. Sorry!)

>>> Entry-Form <<<

 

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, January 22nd

Tuesday, January 23rd

Wednesday, January 24th

Thursday, January 25th

Friday, January 26th

Saturday, January 27th

Monday, January 29th

Tuesday, January 30th

Wednesday, January 31st

Thursday, February 1st

Friday, February 2nd

Saturday, February 3rd

Monday, February 5th

Top Ten Reading Goals for 2018

Hello my friends,

Today I decided to take part in the Top Ten Tuesdays Link up. I do have a few other ideas for blog posts, but they’re more or less stuck. I lost the notes for one and I haven’t come up with the core element for another. So resolutions it is.

I’m not always much of a New Years resolutions person. I’ve heard enough stories about people giving up on them while it is still January, so sometimes I don’t feel it’s worth doing. That’s probably to my loss because plans have to be made sometime and the beginning of the year isn’t a bad time. So my reading goals:

  1. Read less books. Yes, this sounds like a strange one, but over the last couple of years, I’ve been stuffing my mind with so many stories that they’ve just become a muddle.
  2. ​Read slowly and deliberately. The only reason I’m able to read so many books is because I skim and don’t leave time to absorb them. I don’t take the book in properly. It’s a bad habit I’ve had for many years, and it only got worse with digital books.
  3. Only read when I’m done with other work. This is probably the biggest one. Reading has been the bane of my productivity. It’s been taking up time belonging to other things. It’s the reason I didn’t write this post earlier in the day. The only exceptions to this is reading the Bible and listening to audio books. Depending on the work I’m doing listen can help me along.
  4. Read more blogs. I used to follow quite a few other writers, but I’ve got busy and not kept up with them. It’s more for networking than learning that I need to do this, but I know there’s a lot of things worth reading out there.
  5. Write more reviews. This isn’t a new goal, but it’s a common failing. I know reviews are worth a lot to authors, but it’s so easy not to write them. Yet it’s isn’t difficult to write a very short review for the majority of books. I like giving my whole multi-sided opinion and recommendation for a book, but I don’t always have to. I’ll likely not do review for the books I could care less about, but I should attempt the ones I’m not sure how to feel about. Writing makes the thoughts clearer.
  6. Read a SpecFaith article at least once a week. There’s a lot of good in here.
  7. Read a Creation.com article at least once a week. I can always do with some science or apologetics to keep my mind active. I ought to read the Creation magazine more too.
  8. Finish all the non-fiction books I’m partway through. I can’t skim books on theology or any detailed topic. They require concentration and focus. That also means they take quite a bit longer and I do have a very long non-fiction list. (Thirty-six on Goodreads, not counting books on writing, and there’s more than that on our bookshelves that could be listed.) So this year i am going to focus on getting through at leas the ones I’ve begun. The possible exception is Augustine’s City of God which I got half for the purpose of getting the really long book achievement on Audible. It is fascinating at points, but thirty hours, is thirty hours, and there’s a bit more than that left.
  9. Take notes when I read. I think a lot while reading, but there are so many thoughts and brilliant lines that escape me later. I need to find a way of making notes without constantly distracting from my reading, and then it’ll be good. I do have a journal I’ve used for that purpose already, so that’s not a problem.
  10. Get to the point in my Greek studies that I can read sentences not just one word in ten (and that is only due words we use in English and a few extremely frequent words).

Now all I have to do is remember and do these things and everything will be, well not perfect, but likely better. Remember the signs.

A Quiet Start to a New Year

Happy New Year everyone!

I’ve had a pretty quiet year so far. It’s not been empty, but I haven’t felt rushed. Bathroom renovations have taken up the last couple of weeks including Christmas Eve and Boxing Day. Apart from that I’ve been sewing, reading and keeping up with my 440 words a day minimum. The last few days there’s been editing work as well.

In reality, this year probably hasn’t been much quieter than last year at the same time. The only difference was last year I was getting exciting about going away for a week long course at the end of the month and this year I have very little planned.

I’m going to keep writing obviously, and I hope to pick up more editing. Sewing is something I can always find more to occupy myself with, and my accounting job keeps coming at it’s steady rate. That’s the everyday things. Beyond that I have the studies I started last year, and dropped partway though. I must pick those up again. The Greek is good for my mind and a good Bible study tool, while Theme Mastery something I really need for my writing.

I’ve also got a couple of exciting things coming up. Camping in March with a bunch of Homeschoolers including Jane Maree, and in October I’ll be going to the Creation Super Conference which is sure to be exciting. Loads of information and people to meet, a long car trip, and the perfect climate for swimming. Yes, I’m rather excited.

Last year I was considering the possibility of figuring out a way to attend Realm Makers this year, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. I thought about it after hearing two good writing friends say they hoped to go this year, but I don’t feel that adventurous right now. I’m not sure why, but right now my daydreams of travel are quite happy to remain only day dreams. I’m happy to stay home reading and writing.

The natural house daydreams have been plaguing me again lately. I need to use them as motivation to get other things done, because they can take up a bit of time.

Honestly, that lack of ambition is scaring me a little. Even if I don’t feel like it right now, I really do know I want something to happen in my life, and I can see I’m doing almost nothing to make it happen. I’m becoming one of those passive people who never make interesting characters in books. Probably not even funny side characters. Just a background character that doesn’t contribute anything. And I wasn’t put on this earth to do nothing. I have a purpose.

Now that I’ve got all that out of my head, I’ll just wrap this up by wishing you all a blessed, productive, wonderful year.

 

Great peace have those who love your law and nothing can cause them to stumble.

Psalm 119:165

Festivals and Holidays of Verlis

Merry Christmas dear readers.

I did it this time. Here is you promised pre Christmas post. Since I have holidays on the mind, I thought I would write something about the holidays in some of my own writing. Since Lady of Courage is set in an alternate Italian maritime world, it doesn’t have any especially unique holidays. It does begin on Chistmas Eve with a Ball and that’s about it. In contrast, for Girl of the Rumours, I have had to do a fair bit of world building and that includes multiple sets of holiday customs.

Festivals in Verlis and Amra differ quite a bit. In Amra they are community celebrations and times of fun. In verlis they are more solemn. There is some slight religious significance to soem of the festivals, but it has mostly been stripped away. The old folk religions of the countries were never very ritualistic or held strongly and when the new beliefs came, the holidays were all changed.

There is a Harvest End Festival held twelve weeks after the summer solstice. It has a spirit of thanksgiving and rejoicing over the harvest. In Amra is is celebrated by huge markets in all major towns and feasts where ever people are gathered. There will be dancing and various competions or skill. Wrestling, archery, staff fighting, and the like. The celebartions frequently go on for several days. There are musicians playing all of the old and new tales until all hours of the night and religious leaders will take opportunities to speak to the people. Everywhere, the feast will begin with a prayer everyone joins in on and the day before the festival there are often special services in the chapels.

In Verlis, there are no markets and no huge gatherings. Throughout the day you are not to eat any food from the years produce, only that of the previous year. Everyone will give gifts of food to their friends and neighbours as they can afford. It usually will be something they themselves do not grow. If you are giving to those of higher class, the gift must be tasteful and well presented, but will often not be large. The extremely wealthy will often give enormous gifts. Everyone gives what they can to those less fortunate especially as this is a day when they cannot refuse it. The gifts are traditionally given anonymously, though people often know who various gifts are from. The festival ends with a time of solemn reflection at sunset followed by a meal of all new food.

The Spring Festival is held in the middle of planting. It is barely celebrated in Amra. Traditionally it is the time of drinking new milk and letting the animals out to graze in the mountains. However, no one waits for a particular day to come if the conditions are right and there is little mention of it these days. The remnant of the festival is the wearing of flowers and the dancing of the girls of each town. It is also common practice to plant herbs on this day. Prayers will be offered for a good growing season.

In Verlis, the prayers have a much greater emphasis. Everyone gathers and prays all day. The prayer are usually not just for a good planting and harvest, but for any need. In recent and not so recent years, the prayers have been for peace, for safety. Is is the one day of the year that a large portion on the population prays anything than ritualistic form prayers.

A few significant events in Girl of the Rumours happen on these festivals. Aydel dances with Nylf at the Harvest End Festival in the town of Jarrah. He tells her something that changes her life. To finish up the day, they get chased by guards and she meets Wil, Elind and Mim. (Who all happen to have an ‘i’ in their names. Funny that.)

Towards the end of the story, someone takes advantage of the Spring Festival’s distraction to further his own plans. That, put simply, wasn’t not a time the prayers for peace we answered. Not that day.

I feel that there ought to be more holidays. Something like Passover or Christmas. They haven’t come up yet and I don’t know if they will. I believe they differ between the different church branches and never became huge public celebrations. Passover would be close to the Harvest End Festival in timing. Christmas could be mid-summer, but given we do not know an actual date for Christs birth, they don’t not in most part have any celebration other than that of the new year.

There are also festivals and holidays in the neighbouring nation of the Dlinaat. The culture in entirely differnt, and the festivals have a great deal to do with their main religion. They worship the sea, or a sea god of some kind, or just simple water. It has all gotten rather mixed up over the long existence of their civilization. The migration from islands to dry plain has been a major factor in the development of the current rituals. Very few people In Verlis or Amra are familiar with their customs and I haven’t learnt the Dlinaat language yet, so I cannot study directly from the source.

It is also rumoured that there is a separate Dlinaat group who’s beliefs and practices are very reminiscent of Christianity. It seems they are the product of the knowledge of the way spreading along many paths. They do not mix with foreigners any more than the rest of the population, so they are few facts, but it is believed they celebrate Christmas. Because at least one group out there has to.

I have probably made this a little confusing. Is this our world or not? Truth be told, I haven’t quite figure that out. it’s some kind of alternate universe. Some major things are the same. Other parts of geography and history are entirely scrambled. I may end arranging things to make in entirely different as it changes more each time I think about it, but I haven’t reached that level yet.

This is likely my last post for the year so until next time, have a joyous Christmas and a blessed New Year.

Twisting Reality in Fiction

It’s about time for another of my Reality in Fiction posts. But this time I decided to mix it up. I’m talking about the lies in fiction. How reality can be twisted. The way a made up universe can reflect any world-view as true.

I have been reading a bit outside of my usual Christian fiction, to get an idea of what the world is thinking and what teenagers like to read these days. I can’t read these things without analysing them and making observations.

Secular fiction often shows a world without God. It can sometimes be a world without rules, sometimes a very believable world with basic morality (though no explanation for it), and sometimes a world with no hope.

This only breaks the laws in the universe, not the ones outside it.

I read a story where the protagonist did some pretty dreadful things to keep her family safe. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that she sold her soul to the devil, but if that would have kept all the people she cared about safe, she would have done it. Her morality was no more than ‘Murder or torture of innocents is wrong and should be avoided if possible.’

It was not a cheerful story, I didn’t enjoy parts of it. But in the end I had to acknowledge that in the story would her actions made sense. The was no higher power which meant both that there was no ultimate consequence for her actions and no guarantee that the side of right would win out. If the devil could be greater God, serving him is not unreasonable. But that’s not how the world works. The consequences of since is more than the reactions of others and the trouble of one’s conscience. There is an ultimate right and wrong, and God will win, so his side is the only right side.

Beyond that there is the hope of eternal life. Even if we die, that’s not the end. It’s only the beginning. As I’ve been helping teach all year in the School Bible classes, “God has a plan.” He is in control. He uses even the most terrible of circumstances to his ends and for the good of those who love him. In a Godless world, when they’re dead, they’re gone and there’s nothing you can do. In our world, there still is grief, but there can be the certainty that behind that it will be okay.

Of course, there can be a created world where as long as you are a generally good person you end up in some kind of positive afterlife. I know that is another very common belief. It’s nice to think that everything will be absolutely fine with us doing whatever we like, but it’s false hope. It might even be worse than the lack of hope I have already mentioned.

I’ve also seen how easily simple things that I beleive to be wrong can be justified. With no ultimate right or wrong, the boundaries can be pushed all over the place. In a story, you don’t have to deal with the consequences. You can’t entirely ignore all of them because people do know what is real, but the effects can be lessened. Things like adultery can end up with okay outcomes, instead of betrayed or broken relationships.

More than that it’s quite possible to make you really care about the characters. In certain circumstance you want to excuse people, even if you do think what they’re doing is wrong. It’s so easy to come up with extenuating circumstances, and tragic back stories. You want these people to be happy and even if the route they take towards isn’t exactly moral, when they get their you can’t help but feel some of their happiness.

Some of this twisting is probably easier in speculative fiction than contemporary. Fantasy deals with the supernatural. It’s not just a world where people don’t believe in God or don’t have morals. You can have a world with false gods, or one where you straight out prove there is no God in the story world. You can have a heaven almost everyone enters, or an endless cycle of reincarnation. You can have whatever kind of world you want to believe in.

It is likely that readers won’t fully embrace the world you’ve created as real, but it will have an influence. People will be more likely to think the way of a book or movie they enjoyed. The world you immerse yourself in will effect the one you have in you own head. That’s why I tend toward Christian fiction with heavy themes. A complex, wonderful, but potentially dangerous world with God ultimately in control.

I’ve gotten very deep here, but I do think it is very important. Popular books and movies shape the way the world thinks. Or in case of many people, how they feel. Too many of them don’t really think. Fictional world affect the emotions of the current world, and the morality. Music probably does too, but  I am very eclectic in my taste and can’t stand the thought of a lot of the stuff that passes for music. If I do happen to hear some, there is a fair chance of it being unintelligible to me. Besides, I analyse the theology of my music too.

I won’t deny that there’s nothing at all good in mainstream stories. Even if authors don’t have a good backing to the morality doesn’t mean they’ve got it all wrong. They have a conscience after all and if they listen to it, there could be quite good morals in their story.

Right now I could go off on a tangent about how morals alone don’t matter, but that would be quite off topic. It’s something I’m passionate about though, so I’ll just recommend you watch the movie Time Changer.

So anyway, when I read these stories, I end up thinking through the ideas behind them, as well as the actual content of the story. I find it fun. Maybe I’m weird, but I like having my mind stretched by time travel and the different philosophies that lie behind it. There is the ‘time is fixed and unchanging’ idea and I’m going off on a different tangent. I’ll stop that. Keep on topic.

This line of thought does factor heavily into how I create the world for my stories. I write in worlds where my core beliefs are true. If I departed from that, I would probably have a character who shares by beliefs as a frame of reference. Or I would have some other purpose behind exploring this world. I might make a world that really fundamentally breaks down, just to show it does. However, I’m more likely to keep that level of though outside my stories. I don’t think I have the skills to write something that completely skews with people’s heads. Even though I like contemplating the ideas.

​Applying This to Writing

The key to influencing someone’s mind slightly with your views is subtlety. I pull out of stories that violently disagree with me and shove that in my face. I just can’t stand some things. With other stories, well I still am paying attention so I consider what world-view the story is using and do my best to keep my mind straight. But it doesn’t offend me. And even the stories that do likely have a subtle part to them. Very few people say straight out what the underlying ideas in their stories are. They may not even recognize those ideas are there at all.

Perhaps I’m doing this all wrong by stating some of my underlying ideas, but I just can’t help it. They are important to me. I’m not shoving them in every story though. Lady of Courage particularly has very little discussion of this kind of thing. My beliefs about the world and God are underlying somewhere in the background, but over that are various social and political things and a whole conflict that only hinges on that indirectly. It like how you can’t the see the framing in a house because it’s all hidden in the walls. Or perhaps it’s more like a floor underlay.

Terrible metaphors both of them. Framing makes me think of story structure than the background of the world. And as a background it plays more into how some of the characters act and some of the social, ethical and historical foundations of society. (social and society). Maybe it’s more like the glue holding the wallpaper up. And now I’ve gotten to the part where I use building references that are outside my personal experience. I’ve helped construct walls and lay floors, but I’ve never papered them.

These underlying ideas may even be more like the air we breathe. Everywhere, invisible, essential. Or like the beam of light C. S. Lewis spoke of in an essay once. Here, I’m certainly talking about the beam. My prayer and hope for the stories is that the light will just be in the room as something you don’t even consciously think of most of the time.

A Little Sidenote

There’s another thought that came up with all of this, but really doesn’t fit because it’s not a lie in fiction. It a thought I had, a truth almost. It still is about twisted reality, but in a different way.

Some of the stories I’ve read have people travelling back in time to change things that went wrong. I started thinking over what I would do if I had the option to change some of the past. My conclusion: I wouldn’t. I’ve made some mistakes, there’s small moments I wish I had done something different, but I’m pretty content right now. There’s no friendships I completely messed up, or family members who died in an avoidable accident.

If I look further back, say to the World Wars, I want to interfere even less. One, I don’t think I could have much effect unless I actually killed Hitler and I don’t think I could do that. Two, Messing with time could entirely change the world in unforeseen ways. I’m not God, and I don’t trust myself not to make a mess of things even in the short term. I certainly couldn’t direct history.

The closest I would get would be accepting an offer to live just this past six months over again. That just because I’ve not been as productive as I could have been. And even then, the opportunities that could be lost if I did things just a little differently scare me away from that. I may have missed conversations, and even conferences. I most certainly would have written this blog post if I had been writing or studying instead of reading the books I did.

Now this post is about half a week late, but I promise I will have another one before Christmas. By the way, I am having serious trouble comprehending how close to the end of the year it it. We haven’t put decorations up yet, and I’v been the only one playing Christmas music at home and I’m usually not playing music. There aren’t even any wrapped presents sitting around yet. I better go take care of that.

Later then, bye. *waves furiously*

Recent (or not so recent) Happenings

Here’s a long overdue update for my blog. I know I’ve been far too quiet for a while, but I’ve been busy. November was taken up by NaNoWriMo and October was full of my preparations for that and for the Omega writers conference.

Yes, I went to a writers conference. It was about a three hour drive away and I went all by myself. It was a great experience. We had sessions by Margie Lawson on literary techniques and using psychology and visceral feelings to pull readers in. I’m focusing more on the plot level with my writing at the moment, but it will be very useful when I get into editing.

There was also a workshop on writing for the YA and middle grade audiences by Alex Marestang who has written for Disney. We heard that he just emailed the conference organizers asking if he could do anything to help.  The organizers had never heard of him and looked him up to make sure he was legit because offers from complete strangers are not common. He had never been to Australia before and I’m not sure how he heard about the conference. But it’s not the first time he’s just sent off a letter blind. It’s actually how he got his job at Disney. He just sent them a letter asking if there was anything he could do to help them.

So that was his first point. Sending letters offering help to random companies might be a good idea. Maybe. Actually I think statistics on the best selling YA and middle grade books was first, followed closely by the elements that make them work.

Alex Marestaing also spoke at the awards night for the CALEB prize. He talked about finding your voice. That was an inspirational talk. Your words are powerful when they have something behind them. An emotion, an experience, something you beleive in strongly. You must believe what you are saying before you speak out with it. Otherwise it will be half hearted.

The awards evening was good too. I won one round of a game we played in the middle of it and happened to be sitting next to the winner of best Picture Book, and the runner up overall. CALEB stands for Christian Authors Lifting Each-others Books and it’s an Australasian book award. They have a category for unpublished manuscripts which I aim to enter in the future.

I also made contact with a few other writers and some editors and publishers. I’m not at the stage to be looking for a professional editor or pusher, but these friendly contacts will be useful even if they are with editors who do not understand the fantasy genre. I still made friends even if they’e not directly useful friends. I do need to work on my networking skills a bit more.

I also bought a stack of books. One novel for myself, a writing book by Orson Scott Card, Narnia, Middle Earth and the Kingdom of God by Mark Worthing (which is a fascinating book about the history of fantasy in regards to Christianity, and the only book I’ve read so far). a book about Martin Luther also by Mark Worthing (That one was a present for a brother), Phantastes by George Macdonald updated with more modern language and style by, once again, Mark Worthing (present for another brother). Also another book I haven’t given to anyone yet and won’t mention.

There were also a bunch of books by various Realm Makers authors which I would have loved to have bought, (even though I had read some of them). I had a budget though, and decided to stick with Australian authors. (Except for Card.) The three by Mark Worthing were published by Stone Table Books (or the parent publisher Morning Star). Of all the publishers there, that was one I thought really might fit some of my books.

I also heard about one of Stone Table’s upcoming release. It’s a book called Playing God by Morton Benning a.k.a. Ben Morton who was representing them at the conference. It’s a kind of crazy sounding story answering the question: What if God was a self absorbed jerk named Jeff? Or something like that. It’s not quite my usual thing, but I’m putting it on my wish list. And go look at it along with other less crazy books here: stonetablebooks.com

​NaNoWriMo Report

Well I wrote 50,000 words. And I started using a useful tool called 4thewords.com It helps me make my word counts and has kept me writing something everyday even after November is over. Even though it’s usually quite late by the time I do it.

However I didn’t finish anything. A Brigand, No Longer still wasn’t very ready to be written. I have scenes, and I have extra outlining and I even have an explanation of what was wrong with some of the choices I made with what I did write. I had character problems. Aydel was being unreasonably stubborn. Sure, her head is stuffed hard with cotton, but there’s no reason for her to be quite so angry with God after the ending of the last book. And Joane came around far too quickly on that one issue and it clashed with everything else.

But all in all, that’s fixable. I still got some good words down, and I do have a much better idea of what’s going on. New side plots and character relationships are coming to life and complicating the whole thing beautifully. And I shot out a basic outline for the prequel. Writing that’s going to be fun someday. And difficult. Silly me thought it was a great idea to invent another language, and smart me recognizes that it wouldn’t make sense to not have another language. So I’m stuck using it now even though there’s only a few dozen words so far.

The Future

I’m going to be getting back into more regular posts. And I really mean it. I’m also going to work on editing more of Girl of the Rumours, and I’ll work on SubM when I need breaks.

That is that and good bye.

Beautiful NaNoWriMo project

It’s time for the Beautiful Books link up with Cait and Skye. This month I get to introduce my NaNoWriMo project. I’m going to be writing A Brigand, No Longer which is the sequel to Girl of the Rumours. I have talked about it before (see this post), but some of my ideas have changed a little and i’m going about it in a different way.

What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?

Joane being interesting inspired this book. In particular ongoing conflict between Joane and Elind, back in an imaging of the story where Elind was young. And I may have had the idea for about two years. This time last year, I was expecting to begin writing it very soon.

Describe what your novel is about!

Joane and Aydel adjusting to their new situations. Impending war. The groom being captured just before a wedding. Mayhem. Outlaws running wild. Fathers. Sisters. Lots of spoilers.

What is your book’s aesthetic? Use words or photos or whatever you like!

Wide stone streets petering off into dirt paths. Buildings in a mixture of stone, wood and plaster. Plentiful gardens. A river flowing through the town. A dirty tent town for refugees. a tangled forest stretching down from the mountains.

Introduce us to each of your characters!

Joane: Fierce, tomboy, man-hater, intimidating leader, protective, despiser of chiefs, lonely, proud, illiterate.

Aydel: Broken, freedom-lover, comforter, shunned, healer, best sister ever, regretful.

Wil: Noble, cautious, protective, can’t say what he wants, haunted, self-sacrificing, trustworthy.

Ireen: Power-hungry, not a compelling leader, terrifying, clever, perpetual rebel,  hurt.

How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?)

I’ve done a bit of outlining. Still more to do. And I’ve stocked up on chocolate that is to be doled out at mile stones.

What are you most looking forward to about this novel?

Figuring it out. I have some plans, but I’m really just looking forward to seeing where it goes and what new characters pop up.

List 3 things about your novel’s setting.

  1. A lot of the book is in a city.
  2. The city is more open than crowded, and is generally cheerful.
  3. Bright, strong colours are the fashion.

What’s your character’s goal and who (or what) stands in the way?

Joane wants to make the world calm down, but she’s removed herself from her old place of authority and is hopeless in the new situation. Aydel wants her sister happily married, but Arthen has been taken in a raid and Aydel is prohibited from leaving the city.

How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?

Joane will be less jaded and suspicious. More graceful and capable. Aydel will have found hope again.

What are your book’s themes? How do you want readers to feel when the story is over?

Right now, I feel that a major theme is new beginnings. Submission and trust will come into play as well. I want people to come away feeling lightened and cheered.

 

That’s that, and you can check out the other entries here or here.

Giveaway Winners Announced

Hello everyone,

I finally found enough time to draw the giveaway winners out of Rafflecopter’s magical algorithms (not that it has any). This will just be a short post, but I’ll have something  worth reading up in a day or two.

(I’m excited enough to use a GIF despite having an aversion to them on blogs)

 

Now, here are the winners:

The free critique goes to Keturah Lamb.

Half price on any one of my editing services goes to Faith Blum.

The ebook of The Five Unnecessaries was won by Sarah Taleweaver.

The ebook of the Wander’s Daughter goes to Erika Mathews.

 

I will be contacting all the winners and for everyone else, I still recommend the books and my editing services.

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