Friday, September 21, 2012

Author Interview #3!!!

This week's author is Jennifer Freitag, also known as the Penslayer - which she most definitely is! 

I was going to review her book The Shadow Things before doing this interview, but I find it is a book I must read two, maybe even three times, before I can feel at all ready to give it a proper review, and between life and school, have not been able to read it three times yet. :P 
For now, I must simply say that when I think of The Shadow Things, scarcely think of a single character, so much as I think of a place and a time and a people - and the miracle of God becoming man to make Himself known to us. (Elizabeth Rose did review this book very recently, if you would like to hear her thoughts on it.) :D

For the rest, suffice it to say that, for sheer beauty of style, I have not found an author like Jenny. I love words and how they can be used, and her blog is simply a treat to read. As were her answers to these questions. :) Enjoy!

Thank you, Jenny! :) 

Could you describe yourself as an author in 3 words?

Elemental.  Emotional.  Erratic.

What book/author has influenced you the most? What book/author would you say has influenced your writing style the most?

Almost every book I read has some bearing on my conception of writing and expressing reality through prose, but I think the single most influential author I have read is the British historical novelist Rosemary Sutcliff.  I was first introduced to her through my homeschooling curriculum as a child and now have almost an entire shelf dedicated to her works.  She was the one who woke in me the desire to capture stories with a breathtaking beauty, and it was she who really taught me my craft. 

As for what particular book has influenced my writing, I really could not say.  I don’t think there is any one book that has impacted me: everything I read necessarily executes its intrinsic power over my imagination and creativity.  I am indebted to the countless stories of countless authors.

What is the most important thing God has taught you through your writing?

Bringing to my writing my supralapsarian views regarding God’s plans for man and the universe, I have learned through my writing to see time as, not a series of cause-and-effect events, but a beautiful, awful overarching story with the greatest heroes and the greatest villains, the highest stakes, the wildest plot twists that no mortal story spun by man could ever hope to best.  Dorothy Sayers put it very well in her book Letters to a Diminished Church:

“So that is the outline of the official story—the tale of the time when God was the underdog and got beaten, when he submitted to the conditions he had laid down and became a man like the men he had made, and the men he had made broke him and killed him.  This is the dogma we find to dull—this terrifying drama of which God is the victim and hero.”

What's the craziest thing you've ever done for story research?

You know, I honestly don’t recall.  I’m not really a wildly enthusiastic individual when it comes to doing crazy things.  I have been known to plot the measurements of Romano-British fort ditches by using tape-measures and rocks for markers; when handed a glass of dubious alcoholic beverages I will take a sip to know what it tastes like; when wounded and/or in pain I will think, “So this is what this feels like.  I’ll put it in a novel somewhere.”  But I’m not really the sort to go bungee-jumping just to know what weightlessness feels like.  I’m fairly tame and don’t unbend easily from my stiff sense of protocol and decorum.

How many words per week do you write, on average? 

It depends on how smoothly the plot is flowing at any given time.  At any one time I’ll push to write 1,000 words in a sitting, preferably more.  So I may write as many as four to five thousands words in a week, if I’m not interrupted.  Which I usually am.

Can you give an idea of what The Shadow Things is about?

After about three years of having to give an idea of what The Shadow Things is about, I hope I can!  Basically, The Shadow Things is a story of a Christian living in a pagan and hostile environment, of literally giving up everything just to cling to the cross of Christ, and expecting, not a reward for it here and now where the form of things is passing away, but beyond to the promise of the return of Jesus Christ and the renewal of the world.  It isn’t a happy story—everyone who has read it has had his heart stepped on and crushed—but it is a true story.  We were never promised that life in this world would be easy, we were promised that it would hard and that this world will hate us.  But we were also promised the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the hope of a heavenly city to come.  That is what The Shadow Things is about: walking by faith, even when everything you walk on cuts you until you bleed, and still walking on for the love and the hope and the inheritance of Christ.

How did you go about publishing it? 

The Shadow Things will be three years old this November, and I confess that three years has been sufficient to blur my memory of the publishing process.  I know it included the usual query letter and manuscript request—it was really no different from what you might expect from any publishing house.  I was accepted by Ambassador International and signed the contract late in the year so The Shadow Things was put through quickly in order to be out in time for the Christmas market: that, too, helped to make things a blur.  It was certainly an interesting autumn and winter for me, full of meetings with the publishers, book-signings, an interview on a local television channel…  I stepped into the fast flow of a whole new world, but thankfully I have a very supporting family, which has always fostered in me a sense of self-confidence, and my publishers are very nice people.  I’m very grateful to God for such a crazy grace as I experienced the autumn of 2010.

At what stage are the books you are currently working on?  (How soon can we read them?! ;)

I am in the process of writing a first draft for an fantasy, and I have another completed fantasy that I am currently seeking a literary agent for.  God alone knows how soon you will be able to read them!

What can you tell us about them?

Certainly!  The synopsis of the completed manuscript, Adamantine, is as follows: “Unloved by her extended family, on whom she depends, orphan Adamant has no real purpose and no place to which she belongs, until she is caught up in the centre of a plot to destroy the last of Beowulf’s family.  With a sense of destiny that she does not fully understand Adamant finds herself willing to risk everything to thwart her enemies and restore the glory of Beowulf’s legacy.  But she was not reckoning on what she would unleash.”

Plenilune, my second novel, which is still in the works, is meant as a companion to Adamantine.  A brief synopsis of it is: “When a young Victorian lady is shipped off to Naples to catch a suitor, she wasn't expecting a suitor to catch her. Kidnapped and a world away from home, Margaret Coventry finds herself fighting for her life and the life of the strange world she is beginning to call home.”

Is there a favorite sentence you've written this week that you could share?

“Now you taste how awful justice is in the mouths of them that speak it.” -Plenilune

Is there any particular lesson or idea you hope readers take away from your books?

In particular I find readers notice a sense of splendour—as Victor Hugo allegedly said, “every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.”  The plots and themes of my stories change, but I think that one aspect, the sense of hugeness and richness, continues from story to story.  I love making the fabric of the temporal world grow thin under the reading eye a give people a glimpse, as C.S. Lewis has given readers a glimpse before me, of the world of virtue and vice, where souls are at war and triumph and are lost.  That is an unseen truth that is very little talked of, and very important.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


The day after posting this, I received an email from WaterBrook Multinomah Publishing about promoting Nick Vujicic's new book, Unstoppable. Too perfect. :) 

We all have problems, don't we? Things that make our lives just that much more difficult, our days that much harder to get through. Somehow seeing his testimony is always just a encouragement to look past whatever is in my way, to open my eyes and see God, and to want, no matter what is going on, to be a light.
If you are interested in his book, the first chapter can be read here for free!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Beyond The Door....

And who would have guessed that my first Sci-Wri assignment would be to write description?! 

Oh, the horror... says the child who turned Description-Skipping while reading into a fine art. I perfected that reading technique, and came pretty close to perfecting it in my writing as well. For a while I was trying to write a la Franklin Dixon - Frank had brown hair, Joe had blonde, they drove a yellow convertible, and that's all you need to know. Hey, it worked for him! Kind of. :P ANYWAY.

Enjoy. I think my style came as a bit of a surprise to my peer review group... but they were super nice about my wackiness, so I really appreciated them. :D The teacher said, Please remember when you get constructive criticism - they're criticizing your writing, not you.

But when you are a writer... they are criticizing you, even if they don't mean to.  It's a sad world... ;) But still I think this class might just be good for me... eep.

Beyond the Door
copyright moi. Don't mess with my school stuff. ;)

Picture in your mind a wide doorway, open to another world – a world of perfect blackness. Against that stark background, the first thing to catch your eye is an explosion of neon lights: swirls and spots of lime green mixed with cyan splashes, tiny flecks of hot magenta over ethereal amethyst splotches, and delicate sweeping strokes of electric blue. Like fireworks on the Fourth of July, the small lights move off into the distance, while in front and center-left, lime green and purple whirl together as if someone overturned a table of paint buckets. To the right, however, looms a menacing shape, like a ghostly purple manatee rising out of the darkness.
Look closer. Go straight to the center of the open doorway. That strange figure just above and to the right of the center? It is not truly the ghost of a long-departed manatee; no, it is the head and upper body of a robot with a mechanical left arm. The green-tipped hand – a rotating Gatling gun with a faint purple dagger projecting at an angle from its middle – leads back to a cylindrical blue wrist. The arm itself is outlined with purple, faintly blotched with blue, and painted over with magenta flames shooting back towards a separated shoulder. From the black space between torso and shoulder, tiny dots of cyan and purple spread out in both directions.
Near the upper right edge of the door, delicate lines of electric blue with almost white centers combine to become a helmet with horizontal stripes, with a long bird-like beak of darkening purple stretching straight out towards the center of the doorway. A tiny swirl of cyan-touched green projects a short distance from the helmet’s left, while one of blue and white rises upwards from the helmet’s right. Another separated shoulder follows, with the same bits of cyan and purple spreading out from it like the petals of a flower; the blackness they lead to swallows up any semblance of a right hand.
Starting from where that missing hand should be, slightly below the door’s top and just barely left of the midline, another petal of oval green dots heads upwards at an angle and eventually disappears off beyond the left edge of the doorway. Just below it in the left corner is another petal, this one of softly swirled green and black. Unlike the others, it is outlined by a fine sweep of cyan that turns quickly to purple, and appears almost more like a thin, elliptical light bulb than a flower petal.
Directly below this on the left side is another swirl of black and green, spinning away in three parts like a miniature waterspout, coming straight from the doorway’s center and leading off to the left. Swirls of amethyst touched with dark blue sweep behind the waterspout, crossing over the top of the purple-dotted petal at the robot’s shoulder and then continuing on towards the beaked helmet. Tiny specks of green change to cyan and then to blue, following the sweep of the amethyst swirl to the right and covering the thin streaks of magenta that line the swirls, before all colors, except for a single purple stripe, disappear into black. That stripe stretches straight back to the front of the beak-like diamond, however, connecting the two strange images like a straw between a robot and a waterspout.
Another purple swirl falls below the green waterspout, this one made up of three strips turning slowly to blue. Together they form the three-pointed star of a Mercedes Benz. Tiny flecks of purple near the left side of the star lead the eye off to the edge of the doorway, only to come sweeping back up from the bottom where the flower-petal fireworks again appear, the muted purple-blue circles that create them dotting their way back to the Mercedes Benz star. Larger ovals of green find their way from the upper right point of that star – near the center of the doorway – all the way down to the very bottom, forming a J-shaped flower petal of dots with a lower edge of light green that moves to a shade of light blue.
The bottom right corner is filled with the purple-flecked outline of the largest petal-shape of all, one that makes its way directly back to the left shoulder of the robot. The middle of the petal fades away to black as the specks of color grow smaller and smaller, but right from the disappearing center of that petal comes a thin stripe of magenta-touched purple. Following a faint S-shape, the band of color creeps up the right side of the doorway, until at last it runs directly into the back of the robot like a line of communication or control from some unknown commander.
It is a strange-looking figure. Yet, despite the otherworldliness of the image, it is merely a picture, a haunting combination of blues and greens and purples set against a black background. Firework or flower, manatee or robot, open door or just an upright rectangle – each idea gives simply another perspective, another piece of description, to this intriguing picture.

from ann arbor, mi - it's actually a fly larva. ha. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

moment of awesome

I have just a moment here, between learning genetics, anatomy, doing my reading for sci-wri, and a pre-med club meeting tonight, but I had to say something about anatomy class today. 
We're learning the skeleton now, and the teacher mentioned that one drug women were taking in the 60's for morning sickness that resulted in babies being born without their limbs. Then he proceeded to show a clip of Nick Vujicic

I couldn't believe it. Of course, every mention of Jesus Christ was carefully edited out (which has to make you a little sick...) but everyone heard the rest of Nick's message. The girl ahead of me wrote down his name in her notes, and I had to wonder how many students in that room are going to go look him up later tonight? 

How many people are going to go find out the reason WHY he is able to live as he does and smile like that? Because he is living for God, people have to be awed by his testimony - to the point that the most atheistic of them are compelled to tell people about him. 

That's pretty awesome.  

Friday, September 14, 2012

Snippets of Septemberness...

Okay, I saw Jessica's Favorites post, and gave in to the sudden desire that seized upon me to do the same. Which means you will get a snippet of every single one of my stories... from ONE of my favorite scenes. (I'm horrible with choosing favorites, and, after all, I'm not going to give you the ending of any of them! ;) :D Please enjoy, and feel free to comment! Which is your favorite of my favorites? Least favorite?

cover I used when I gave it to my younger
siblings last Christmas :) 
The Star Packer 
(it has something to do with the main mystery of the book...)
    Sanderson looked up from where he was seated, carelessly sprawled out on a large wooden chair, tilted back against the wall on two legs. The corners of his thin lips turned up when he saw how close Tim’s hands were to his pistols. 
   “Sit down,” he said.
 “Thanks, but I’ll stand. What’s up?” The boy’s eyes were half closed, but focused carefully on Wade, and his whole attitude was defiant.
    “I think you know, Bolt. A rumor’s been started that you’re not who you say you are.”
    “And if I’m not?” The boy’s voice was dangerously calm.  
    “Then you’re the Conlan Kid and I could shoot you right now and get $10,000!” The chair came down with a bang.
     Wade Sanderson was staring into two pistol barrels. 
    “I don’t think you could. And the reward is for me alive, not dead, by the way.” Bolt smiled softly.

because... well, that's the dagger.
The Jeweled Dagger 
(simply because it shows exactly who they all are in a few short paragraphs... and it was fun to write ;)
“I think I will like her, Naaman!” Her new mistress’s voice was gentle. She looked curiously at Kefira. “I wonder what she’s thinking?”
"Stupid swine of a Gentile." Kefira voice was soft, meek, pleading. It wished to speak Syrian. "Make me wait your ridiculous table indeed. I’d sooner muck the stable. I hate the very air you breathe. And I hope you choke on your disgusting sausage."
Ben-Kiral coughed suddenly, choking on his drink. For a moment pure fear shot through Kefira. She had not thought he would know what she said she hoped, though if he actually did it, she thought suddenly, she would not mind in the least.
But Naaman also spoke enough Hebrew to understand her words. She first realized it when his chair crashed to the ground.
The mistress glanced up, startled. Naaman’s face was white with passion. Reaching out, he wrenched Kefira toward him. "You do, do you? Maybe you’d rather-” He looked down at his wife. “Let me take care of this. Don’t worry."
Kefira met Ben-Kiral’s eyes, hating the hidden amusement she recognized in them just before he lowered his eyelids. His face was expressionless as he pushed back his chair. “Sir –”
   “Don’t disturb yourself. I will be back directly.” Naaman started for the door, pulling Kefira after him. 

*cough* Yeah, Will's dream cover,
even though the book was so totally NOT
about him... he said that was the only
interesting part in it, though... 
Some Trust in Chariots 
(awk... but Jim is one of my favorite characters, and there was such a short glimpse of happy in the book... I had to like this part. XD)

            Josie gave her friend a smile, then turned her attention to the swirling colors before her that were rapidly resolving themselves into whirling dancers. People watching was always fun. There was Tom again, although Caleb was still nowhere around. Then Jim flew by, this time with a different girl.
            Two weeks had not been long, but already Jim seemed a part of the family. Josie rested her head against the wall, watching him curiously. He threw himself into the dancing as he seemed to throw himself into everything else. She watched him, his red shirt flashing in and out between the other dancers, first with this girl, then with that. Despite the abundance of boys, no girl said no to him, and he seemed to be asking them all.
Josie could not help but smile. Now she knew what he reminded her of. He was a panther, dancing with the wild grace that somehow seemed to define him. The fiddle was singing, and from the back of the room she could hear a banjo joyously following its lead. She lost sight of Jim in the crowd, and closed her eyes to listen to the music. Her foot was keeping the beat, and she leaned back fully against the wall. Suddenly, she heard Jim's laughing voice beside her and her eyes flew open.
            “I’m here for my dance with one of the two prettiest girls in the room.” 

*sigh* .... 'cause Will likes cards? :P
Will Arrington 
(an aching bit... but I like it because it is Will at the lowest point in his life - and he is finally in a place where he can realize that he is not self-sufficient. It took me a long time to get him there, believe me. Anyway, you'll be getting quite a few of my favorite 'Will-moments' next month. ;) 

             He was wandering slowly through the market. They said tourists should not go there unattended, but Will would not have listened before, and now he was past caring. Besides, he knew the language, he was armed, and nothing had ever stopped him before.
The mark of Cain – the ability to enter any situation and walk away unscathed, he thought, with deliberate self-mockery. The brilliant colors, the cacophony of sounds, and the feast of smells swirled around him unnoticed. He moved through it untouched, unmoved.

because if I could have any cover I wanted,
this would be it... 

'cause it fits the story...
Hope Sprang Up 
(ack... too many favorites... okay, this one at least does not give away the entire story. :) If you find it confusing: one of the MC's was just given hallucinogenic pain-killer. Unlike every one else, however, he does not have a crazy nightmare...) 

Thank you, he said, only he had not spoken aloud. Yet the other understood him, somehow he knew.
Who are you? he started, when suddenly his fingers felt the scar. His eyes flew to the man’s hand and wrist, wondering only an instant before he fell to his knees at the feet of the shining figure, touching his forehead to the ground.
Adonai, he breathed. Christos.
Again that sound like thunder, but in the stillness that followed he heard the words, heard them almost inside his mind, yet they went deeper than that. They rang out in his heart, strong and true.
Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for Jehovah thy Elohim is with thee whithersoever thou goest

umm... because roses are very fairy-tale-ish. And Tam seems
to like red ones... 
Tam Lyn 
(I already posted my more favorite bit... please excuse my ungrammaticalness for the moment... and this book is barely started, so most of my favorite scenes are in my head. :P But this is so them...  :)

            “And do –” he gestured meaninglessly towards me. “Something with your hair.”
            “Something with my hair?” I repeated. That was lucid.
            He sighed as if I were half-witted. “The idea here is to be unnoticeable. If you could come lookin’ a bit more like a servant, and less like a princess, it would be helpful.”
            “And how exactly, does a servant look? As compared with a princess, I mean?” I asked, emphasizing the word just as he had. “Especially considering that I’ll certainly be dressed as a servant.”
            He rolled his eyes. “Just… cover your hair up so it doesn’t draw the attention of every courtier in the castle.”
            Turning to go, he glanced back at me. “And don’t smile at them either.
            I watched him walk away, trying unsuccessfully to keep back my smile. I couldn’t help it, though. So I looked like a princess? Not that I should care… but it was flattering – and I knew he hadn’t meant it to be.
Oh, but it was a relief to be with the one person who knew what I had done and why.

Look up Lo-ruhamah if you don't remember what it means...
Faith Through Flames
(another story barely started... this is one of those scenes that I will probably have to re-write once I know the characters better, but as the one scene that makes another character's death worth it, it is one of my favorites so far written)

He came forward slightly, looking up at Arael with steadfast eyes. “It is that destruction that haunts you now – living death that lasts for all eternity! But He loved us still, and that is why Christos stepped into the way of that destruction and took it upon himself. Open your eyes! See that He is beside you! Just as you would never abandon the one you love, but would stay by them through any pain that came to them, even if it was due their own choices, so He stands by you, willing to ease your suffering if you will only turn to Him!”
What he was saying, Arael did not know, but words long forgotten were ringing in his mind. Where he had heard them, he could not remember, but they were there. For Elohim so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth on him shall be saved. Believe on Elyon Iesus Christos, and thou shalt be saved.  
 She had made a choice, and both of them were paying for it now. But could not there possibly be Another with them, paying for the consequences of both their choices? One who loved him as much as he loved her, and Who would do anything to save him from the pain he felt and would always feel, just as he himself would for her?
The violence of the emotions roiling through him brought sudden tears to his eyes and he closed them, bowing his head.
“Iesus Christos,” he said softly, “I believe.”

my dream cover from a very talented friend
And It Was Love
(Sad to say, but this will probably be the last AIWL snippet I post... It's very close to being finished, and I'd rather not post the whole thing online. :) This is one of my favorite scenes just because so much happens in it... though you only get to see a tiny bit here. :(

     With a sudden movement she had unfastened the clasp of the heavy bear cloak, and the next instant she was on her feet, balancing easily on the branch, one hand lightly resting in the tangled twigs above her. Her dress was the color of a water bird’s wing feathers – not green and not blue, but somewhere wildly in between. She had dyed it herself; she wanted to stand out, and she knew she did, astonishingly bright against the stark white and black of the winter background.
     “None of you! None of you stand a chance against them! I offered the choice to your king; now I offer it to you. Will you join Ilmatara in her fight against Brynhaven, and at least save your own lives? Or will you blindly follow, straight into the open hand of Death? I’ve seen you fight, and these are your only options, for you will never conquer Ilmatara.”
       The amusement was wiped cleaned from their faces now. Her heart pounding strangely in her ears, she saw the shock travel across the group like a wave, watched the men turn to Jayde, and she met his eyes with defiance in her own.
       There was a strangled sound below her, and Mahon strode suddenly across to Jayde. They were still not far from her, and every word the man said carried easily back to her ears. He was nearly shouting.
      “She has crossed the line. That is treason, and either she defends it or she repents it.”

another cover by that same friend :) See the
age difference for this story? :D 
Unnamed Western Sequel I  
(I don't like writing about my characters once they're married... it's just weird. LOL So this is one I'm going to totally re-write in a different style, and from a different character's perspective. For much younger children than I was originally intending. Good thing I'm only 8 pages into it. :P 
And a note of explanation... he's sending her and their baby to Europe because he's got people after him (doesn't he always...) and he doesn't want to worry about them getting her. The last thing she wants to do, obviously, is leave him alone to face them.)

“I loved you yesterday, I love you still; I always have… and I always will,” he said whimsically.
            But Rosalia merely choked back a sob, hiding her face against his chest and clinging to him as if she could not bear to let go.
            “Will,” she whispered, her voice shaky through her tears, “Please, please forgive me for not marrying you the day you asked me. We missed so much time together, just because I wanted to wait… I am jealous for every hour I was not your wife – I am sorry!”
            His arms tightened about her. “No, Rosalia, no. You wanted to wait until we were both ready, and you were wise, wiser than I. We needed to wait until we had grown up.”
            She did not respond, and at last he added, “You’re supposed to remind me that I will never be grown up.”
            At that she pushed sharply away from, smiling through her tears as she batted him with her hand. “You won’t be, not ever… yet I trust you in this.”

Unnamed Western Sequel II 
(heh, yeah... I'm getting quite the series... unfortunately they're kind of practice books. But since I started the series when I was 15, I guess I can't be too unhappy that I now find the beginning books full of problems... ;)

It was a fast dance, and there was no place for talking, so he simply spun her out and in, his own feet keeping time to the music as if it was a part of himself, and just as easily keeping her with him. Inside, the fiddle hit the ending notes and, instead of a final curtsy and bow, he set her twirling, faster and faster and faster until she was clinging to his fingers with all her strength as if afraid that he would let go. Then he reversed it, slowing as he did so, until, in the silence between songs, she spun slowly to a stop, where she stood, facing him breathlessly, her lips parted in a laughing smile. He bowed and released her hands. Clapping them together like a little girl, she laughed as she caught her breath.
“That was fine!” she gasped, and he smiled again. Her happiness was infectious.     

The Sons of Bretton Meyrick
(just a tiny part of my favorite bit... it's one scene where everything comes together - you're getting the bit where it all falls apart.)

           He had spent the summer working in the ER – but nothing could have prepared him for this; watching his brother’s life drain from his body with every pulse of his fast-beating heart.
He could feel the rhythm of that pulse slowing, even as he knelt there, and he fought back the panic rising in his chest, using his free hand to open Tristan’s shirt yet more. Something snagged his fingers, and Blair suddenly caught his breath, feeling as if he had just been struck a blow to the face.
It was a rawhide lacing that had tangled about a button, and a silver cross hung from it, gleaming in the chill, grey air. He knew he had but to close his eyes, and he would see that same silver cross, swinging from a silver chain as his mother bent before the mirror, fastening the clasp at her throat, preparing for a weekend in Chicago. 
It was the last time he had seen her alive.
To see that same cross now, hanging about his brother’s neck… He bowed his head, begging silently with all his heart, yet now it was not for his brother’s life that he prayed, but only for his soul.
He dared not ask for both.


and another cover made some ages ago also by
Jessica... :D She wants to read this story, but I
just keep talking about it and never writing it. :P
StarDusk: a tale of the Dragon Riders
(This story I hope to properly introduce to you soon... Until then... I have a very limited bit of story you can read. :P)

Kaladhiel laughed, reaching one hand out to catch one when a swarm ducked too near their heads. She held it a moment, watching her hand light up and then darken as the little light flicked on and off, before opening her hand and letting it fly away. Still smiling, she brought her legs up to her chest, folding her arms about them and resting her head on her knees.
“What do you call them?” she asked, and Seung-Jae leaned back, allowing himself to smile at the dance of lights.
“We call them Dragon’s Breath,” he said softly, on some strange impulse giving her the word in his own language, “for they are so like the sparks one sees on the breath of a dragon.”
龍的呼吸” she repeated after him, a dreamy smile upon her lips, and he sat up with a start.
“Do not say it so loudly!” he reproved her, and she looked at him, puzzled.
“Why not?”
“Speaking the language of our people is forbidden, and the punishment is harsh.”
Her smile disappeared and she dropped her eyes to her hands. “I am sorry,” she said. “The language is beautiful.”

Thanks again for hosting snippets, Katie! :) 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Curse God and... feel better?

via google

Do you ever take theological issue with a novel? Are there any common themes you've noticed in books that drive you crazy? 

I used to flip through standard "Christian fiction" and find myself shocked by the  characters' attitudes toward God. (It's unfortunately not quite so shocking, the more times you encounter it. :P)

Perhaps it's true that the common human reaction to suffering is not Job's, but rather his wife's response - curse God. Rather interesting, though, that she added "and die," isn't it? I don't think I would mind if that were the attitude shown in books. That's unfortunately realistic. Instead, other (Christian) characters act like it's fine.  

Think about Job's response to his troubles (a faaar cry from screaming at God) and then look at these verses from Job 34:

33  Should [God’s] recompense [for your sins] be as you will it, when you refuse to accept it? For you must do the choosing, and not I; therefore say what is your truthful conclusion.34  Men of understanding will tell me, indeed, every wise man who hears me [will agree],35  That Job speaks without knowledge, and his words are without wisdom and insight.36  [Would that Job’s afflictions be continued and] he be tried to the end because of his answering like wicked men!37  For he adds rebellion [in his unsubmissive, defiant attitude toward God] to his unacknowledged sin; he claps his hands [in open mockery and contempt of God] among us, and he multiplies his words of accusation against God

What a contrast to the idea I have seen so many times in books - It's okay to yell at God. He can take it.  
Ever read Ezekiel 6:9, where God describes Himself as broken by His people's rebellion? Do people realize that they are basically saying that our sin doesn't bother God? Or do they mean to say that telling God you hate Him is not a sin? Huh???

Job never did curse God and die. But he did insist that he did not deserve all that had happened to him, ie., that God's judgement was not fair - condemning God by implication only - and look how God responds!
Several chapters later, Job simply lays his hand upon his mouth and acknowledges that God is utterly without blame.

Maybe the question should be, can you "take" yelling at God? 

I think we have forgotten the holiness, the awesomeness, that is our God. A God who loved us so fiercely He took all our sins - the despicable things that He hated and abhorred - upon Himself. A God so perfect His death was necessary to to satisfy His justice. 

I picked up one series the other day where the protagonist kept on calling God "Big Guy." O.o THAT is how you refer to Someone so awesome that the Jews would not even write down His Name?
I get that those who do not know God would not understand this... but can those of us who call ourselves His followers start remembering that He is Holy?

Friday, September 7, 2012

Author Interview #2 + read books free!!!

This week's author is Rachel Starr Thompson, a writer who I discovered just as I was beginning to take my own writing seriously - she's definitely been an inspiration to me. The beauty of her writing style simply makes me want to write, as well as read, more. She's also an awesome editor - I loved her writing so much that I chose her to edit a short story of mine, and she was definitely worth it! 

I reviewed one of her books, Taerith, which can be read online here. On the left of that same page are links to Worlds Unseen, which can be downloaded for free. Either one will give you a taste of her stories, and leave you wanting more! 
Most recently I read Reap the Whirlwind, because the premise reminded me of the To Kill a King story, which I happened to write just before I saw RtW. The introduction says,
"Years ago I had a dream. A city was burning, and inside the overthrown palace, two young women were confronting each other. One was a princess. The other was a bitter, battle-scarred rebel, there to kill the princess. 
But they had a secret that would change the course of history for them both: they had once been friends, and the power of that friendship had never truly died." 
Awesome, yes? :)

Actually one of my favorite things she has written is this, though. You see why she inspires me to write? 

And after that rather long introduction, here is the interview! :) Thanks so much for taking the time to answer these questions, Rachel!

How many books have you written and can you give a brief overview of them?
Right now, I have twelve books out--some digital, some paper, and some both--plus a handful of individually published short stories.

Worlds Unseen, Burning Light, and Coming Day make up the Seventh World Trilogy. They're semi-allegorical fantasy about a world with a buried past--a past that is alive and coming back for them. Angel in the Woods is a gentler sort of fantasy, a fairy tale about a young man who wants to be a hero and the patchwork family in the forest that teaches him how. Taerith follows the adventures of an outcast warrior whose life intertwines with the fates of a princess and a slave girl. Reap the Whirlwind is one of my earlier stories--I wrote it while I was still a teenager--about a friendship pushed to its limits by political upheaval and personal rivalries.

Lady Moon is a love story (sort of) and the zaniest tale I have ever written. Theodore Pharris Saves the Universe was my first complete novel ever, and I still think it's funny--it's the story of an eight-year-old who must save the universe from aliens who want to blow it up.

Then there are the nonfiction books: Tales of the Heartily Homeschooled was cowritten with my cousin, Carolyn, and is a collection of humorous stories from our growing-up years. Pieces of Grace (And What They Mean) is a paperback collection of short narrative pieces used by our ballet group; it also includes "Fallen Star," one of the short stories you can get on its own in digital. Heart to Heart: Meeting with God in the Lord's Prayer and Letters to a Samuel Generation are collected devotional essays.  

How many are you currently working on? 
I'm currently working on a secret nonfiction project (which I will be editing and contributing to rather than writing all on my own), and writing short stories that will eventually come together in an interconnected book called Wayfarer's Road. I'd like to get going on a novel, but am between projects at the moment. 

What book/author has influenced you the most?
  It's impossible to name only one. As a kid I read hundreds of books in just about every genre you can think of, and they all coalesced into one giant influence. But it was obviously the fantasy writers who made the biggest impact--C.S. Lewis, Lloyd Alexander, Susan Cooper, Stephen Lawhead, Terry Brooks, and a lot of others. 

How many words per day do you write, on average?
When I'm working on a book, about 2500.

Do you have any advice for writers considering self-publishing?
Learn what you're doing, don't pay for anything you can do yourself unless it makes good business sense to do so, don't do yourself what you should pay for, and get in it for the long haul.

How does ballet fit with writing?
Better than you might think! Ballet has always been a form of storytelling. In a typical Soli Deo Gloria Ballet production, we mix dance and music with poetic or narrative readings (which I write and perform). The words and dance play off each other in really powerful ways.

If you could make your Seventh World Trilogy into movies yourself, who would play your main characters?
Answering that question would require me to have some clue of who and what is happening in Hollywood. Unfortunately, I don't. So I'm open to suggestions :).

What is the most important thing God has taught you through your writing?
Use the gifts God has given you in any way you can see to do so, and trust that he will direct you to his glory. Don't wait for him to show you exactly how he's going to do that before you'll start using the gift. God sees better than we do. It was the guy who buried his talent who lost it, not the guy who took risks with it.

What's the craziest thing you've ever done for story research?
Going to an old bar in Corktown, Detroit, with my dad. Mind you, we actually went for the blues. But the atmosphere is definitely going to make it into a story of mine sometime. (I drank cranberry juice. I'm so adventuresome.)

When will your next book be published and what can you tell us about it?
The next book out will probably be the Secret Project mentioned earlier, and that's coming in November. In the meantime, Letters to a Samuel Generation is coming to digital, so are several more short stories, and paperback editions of Taerith, Angel in the Woods, Lady Moon, Reap the Whirlwind, and Theodore Pharris Saves the Universe are all in the works.

Is there any particular lesson or idea you hope readers take away from your books?
I hope they come away with wonder and understand that beneath the surface of what they see is more purpose, more power, and more beauty than they have dreamt of. 


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