Saturday, August 31, 2013

Memorable Worlds: Neverland

"Second star to the right, and straight on 'til morning."

My first experience with Neverland happened years ago on a quiet street in London... er, rather, under a maple tree. I cannot recall what age I was when I first saw Disney's animated version of Peter Pan, but I found the story fascinating from the first moment I watched it. From there, I've seen the sequel Return to Neverland, as well as the four (rather disappointing) Tinker Bell films that the same studio has produced. Hook I also saw at an early age, and I can still clearly recall how much the scene wherein Hook placed the man in the trunk and then added scorpions unnerved me. I always left the room at that part. But the rest of the story was interesting, considering the boy who wouldn't grow up, in fact, did.

Then in 2004, I think it was, I saw the new, real-life Peter Pan, the one that stars Jeremy Sumpter and Jason Isaacs. I didn't like it very much back then, immensely preferring the vivid colors of the Disney version, but recently, my family got it back out of the library, and I found that I really actually do enjoy it (with the exception of a few things). About two days after watching it, I found J.M. Barrie's original story at a second hand shop and nearly burst out of my skin, anticipating reading it. Unfortunately, I didn't have money with me, so my sister bought the book and therefore earned the rights to read it first. I had to wait until she was done. I'm sad in a way that I didn't read Peter Pan (or Peter and Wendy as Barrie originally titled it) when I was younger, but I feel that I appreciate the story so much more now that I'm... well, older. Yes, I first read the book when I was 20. On the day that I turned 20. Your point?

But what is it about Neverland that makes it memorable? Well, for one thing, Neverland truly is the land of dreams, made up of dreams. It's the place children dream about at night, it's the place where they can always be young and have fun. It's the land of pirates, mermaids, fairies, redskins, and so much more. This is what Barrie had to say about it:

"Of course the Neverlands vary a good deal. John’s, for instance, had a lagoon with flamingos flying over it at which John was shooting, while Michael, who was very small, had a flamingo with lagoons flying over it. John lived in a boat turned upside down on the sands, Michael in a wigwam, Wendy in a house of leaves deftly sewn together. John had no friends, Michael had friends at night, Wendy had a pet wolf forsaken by its parents."

Another thing that makes Neverland, or really the story of Neverland, so unforgettable is the characters. I mean, who hasn't heard of Peter Pan, Tinker Bell, Wendy Darling, or Captain Hook? When talking about boys never growing up, who doesn't think of Peter Pan? When someone mentions the word "fairy" who doesn't conjure up images of a certain green-clad Tinker Bell? The characters J.M. Barrie created and wrote about may not be real, but he portrayed them in such a way that they seem real. Who hasn't waited at the window, looking for the second star and a guide to Neverland? Who hasn't dreamed of flying and fighting pirates?

These are also the characters of the impossible. Where else would we find a tick-tocking crocodile? A boy who can fly? A loveable pirate who always wipes his glasses instead of his sword after killing and thinks of himself as menacing as he sits at his sewing machine? A band of boys who fell out of their prams, were never claimed, and so were sent to Neverland? A...

Okey dokey, we're getting too many questions. But you get my point. Neverland and its occupants has changed the children's land of dreams and adventures forever. And it's one of my favorite imaginary worlds. 'Nuff said. 

So, how has Neverland affected my writing? Neverland opened up the possibility of the impossible. It's all dreams and imagination. And those are two things a writer must have. Since a man with a hook instead of a right hand can be popular, and a boy who flies and never grows up can become legendary, anything is possible, right? Write with confidence, even when you're writing about characters of the impossible! If you don't think they are real, then no one will think them real.

By the way, did you know that J.M. Barrie originally wrote Peter Pan as a play titled The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up? The character of Peter was based on his brother David who died as young boy, and Barrie's mother was credited for saying that she was comforted in the fact that her son would never grow up and remain a boy forever. I want to say that I've heard of rumors that Barrie planned to write a sequel to the play and never did, but while I could be wrong (I can't locate the site where I read that info), it's interesting to think of what Barrie had in mind for Neverland's future! 

This post was written as part of the Memorable Worlds series, and by request of Kendra of Knitted By God's Plan, as she is anticipating the release of her new book, The Ankulen. Do stop by her blog!

God bless!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Memorable Worlds: Findenland

And now on to a world of my own...

Findenland is one of the twelve kingdoms in my fantasy world. Yes, all of my fantasy stories take place in one world. It's my own planet and universe in a sense. I'd go into more on that, but this post is strictly about Findenland, so we'll skip the universe topic.

Anywho, the following picture is what I do on Paint. It's not a grand map, nor is it very detailed. It would be, but alas, I do not know all that there is to know about each of the twelve kingdoms. Not yet, anyway.

As you can see, there are twelve kingdoms, all part of a rather large continent. Terretmere is technically an island, but we'll overlook that for now. Findenland, the kingdom in which my story The Twelfth Kingdom (TK) takes place is right smack dab in the center of the other kingdoms. I also marked it with the story title (The Twelfth Kingdom) so that it will be easier to find. And it's entirely landlocked. That actually has quite a bit to do with the story. I'm not sure how well my map is going to turn out, so let me give you a quick tour. Above Findenland and to the left is Darancia, followed by Calottes, Troisem, Renarda, and Veymark. Malarber and Moyena flank Findenland on the left and right, respectively. To the south we have Cot├ędor, Sablia, Pennin, and the island nation of Terretmere. Those, m'dears, are the twelve kingdoms. And Findenland is the twelfth kingdom.

Findenland's inspiration comes from northern countries near the UK, namely Denmark and Norway. The name Findenland really isn't anything special, as I just made it up one day thinking of country's names and realized I didn't have any names that ended in "land" such as "England," "Iceland," "Greenland," "Switzerland," "Thailand," etc. I wanted one at least to end in "land" and then I just stuck "Finden" in front of it. I want to say that "Finden" was derived from a French word meaning something pertaining to the kingdom, but I neglected to write the inspiration down and thus have forgotten it's meaning. I tend to do that a lot.

Geography-wise, Findenland is a mountainous region, with little summer and harsh winters. The mountains surrounding the kingdom harbor terrific storms, so everyone knows to take shelter when they see gray clouds on the horizon, coming over the peaks. Findenland has little to no agricultural resources, so to receive a simple salad with dinner is a major event. Most of the greens that are able to grow in the rocky terrain is tough, and Findens eat more roots and potatoes than any other fruit or vegetable. Just to give a little bit more, this is what Princess Nattalaris says about her kingdom:

“[W]e have no access to the sea and our trade can only come to us from over the mountains. Now, because we have a strong mining industry, we're economically stable. However, we have a weak military and absolutely no navy. That gives us a disadvantage when it comes to political power.”

The people of Findenland are tough like the land. A great epidemic swept through the kingdom previous to the start of TK, and it left a great many of the children in Tellorn, the capital city, as well as many of the other major cities, orphans. It is not uncommon to traverse the streets of Tellorn and see homeless people in the gutters and alleyways. In fact, one of the kingdom's most well-known laws pertains to the orphans. Those who are among the poor and destitute, the orphans and the urchins, are not allowed real names. Instead, they are given letter labels at birth, such as B, J, N, T, Z, etc. This is obviously a rule written by a rich royal, for we all know there are only twenty-six letters in the alphabet, and there are many more than twenty-six orphans. But what do the royals care that the orphans stumble about in confusion due to so many people having the same label? They don't. That's the urchins' problem.

Inside the great castle in Tellorn live the twelve princesses, the people's pride and joy. They are very proud of their princesses, and even though there may be twelve princesses in all, each Finden could recite to you each of their names. Why are they so proud? Because the princesses each used to be part of the dirt on the streets. They were orphans and urchins themselves before the king took pity on them and adopted them as his royal daughters. Who wouldn't be proud of such a king? Well, to be truthful, the princesses themselves, but we won't get into that. That's more about the story of TK rather than the kingdom itself. ;)

The most popular way to travel about Findenland is by horse, although when traveling through the mountains and passes, carriage use is not suggested. The kingdom boasts a great expanse of wilderness amidst the rocks and crags, and it is not uncommon to meet up with the animals of the mountains while traveling. Wild cats, lurking on cliffs and in canyons, are among the worst threat to the safety of travelers, yet the beasts stay away from the lighted and noisy cities. Deer, elk, and other such creatures thrive in the wilderness, and venison is considered a staple on most Fiden tables.

I realize this isn't a very long post, but I want to save some of the info I could put in here for future TK posts, when I'm writing about the story itself and not just the kingdom. So, this is all you get for now.

This post was written as part of the Memorable Worlds series, and by request of Kendra of Knitted By God's Plan, as she is anticipating the release of her new book, The Ankulen. Do stop by her blog!

God bless!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Memorable Worlds: Amara

When Kendra announced she was hosting a series of Memorable Worlds posts in celebration of her new book, The Ankulen, I naturally was very excited and decided immediately to contribute a post or two. Or three. So, I began a list of worlds that are memorable to me and that have influenced my own writing. The list of favorite worlds, I noticed, included many of the same worlds that Kendra posted about, save for one (or at least, when I'm writing this, she hasn't posted about it yet). I know this world isn't very well-known, so it's not surprising, but I still felt it deserved a place in my list.

What is this world? Amara. 

Amara is the fantasy world of Donita K. Paul's The DragonKeeper Chronicles. There are a total of five books in the series, DragonSpell, DragonQuest, DragonKnight, DragonFire, and DragonLight. I was first introduced to the land of Amara when my sister and I came across the books in a Christian book catalogue. Interested as we were in fantasy, we decided to look them up and were delighted to discover that our library had all five books. We were at that time sugaring, and while sitting around the fire waiting for the maple sap to boil, there was sufficient time to read. And read I did. I think I finished all five books within two weeks. Yes, they are that good. 

But we won't harp on the books. Let's talk about the land in the books. Amara is the home to strange creatures beyond count, although you will never find an actual human or man within its borders. Not by name, actually. Instead, there are what Mrs. Paul has dubbed the seven high races. Yes, there are the seven low races as well, but they aren't the main focus of the story. 

O'rants are the main characters in this particular series, and from their description, they are the closest to what you'd expect a human/man to look like. Kale Allerion is an o'rant, and she is the main protagonist in DragonSpell and so on.

Doneels are fun, little creatures, and they enjoy fine clothes, bright colors, music, and that sort of thing, and they also are furry. Quite furry. Mrs. Paul's doneels tend to be my favorite characters in the series, particularly a certain little doneel named Toopka. 

Then there are mariones. Mrs. Paul describes them as excellent farmers and warriors, being short and broad, usually musclebound rather than corpulent. 

Emerlindians are Mrs. Paul's elves. At least, that's what I imagine them closest to. They have pointed ears, and they are born pale with white hair and gray eyes. As they age, they darken. At five hundred years, they are considered "grannies" and their skin is by that point rather brown. At one thousand years, they are dubbed "grand emerlindians" and are black. Height-wise, they can range from five feet to six and a half feet. 

Next are urohms, which are described as gentle giants, well proportioned and very intelligent. There aren't very many urohms that make an appearance in the series, but they're fun characters to have about, anyway.

Tumanhofers I find myself likening to dwarves oftentimes, although they are not the same iron-mining, rugged beings that Tolkien wrote about. While being short, squat, and powerful fighters, they enjoy literature and intellect. Tumanhofer cities are renowned for their libraries. Just ask Librettowit. 

The last of the seven high races is the smallest. Kimens are under two feet tall, and they are fast. In fact, it is rumored they can fly. They are probably the most mysterious of all the races for they have an odd habit of glowing, and while they are fun-loving beings, not much is known about them as a race. As a comparison, I'd say they were much like fairies. 

Not one of the seven high races, but a huge part of these books are the dragons. And there are three kinds, really. Minor dragons are about the size of a kitten and have different abilites depending on the color of their scales. Major dragons are large enough to ride, most being about the size of an elephant, and they are used in transportation. Meech dragons are the most unusual, for they are the most intelligent of all the dragons, as they are capable of speech. They can grow to be taller than most o'rants and emerlindians, and can walk on two legs much like their fellow inhabitants of Amara. Regidor is a meech in DragonQuest, and yes, I would count him a favorite character.

There is so much I could say about this world, but I fear if I continue on, I may spill too many spoilers for you all to enjoy the books yourself. Besides, this isn't meant to be a book review; it's a memorable worlds post. And how is Amara a memorable world for me? It's a fantasy world just like any other, but with it's own unique twists. There's forests, canyons, mountains, passes, valleys, swamps, bogs, islands, deserted castles, grand cities, small villages, gateways, pretty much everything you could hope for in the terrain and architecture.

But really memorable? Well, truth be told, it was really this series that really got me into writing fantasy. Reading Narnia and LOTR, the classic fantasy stories, only solidified my love of fantasy, but reading Mrs. Paul's books made me realize that fantasy isn't something that only professors with English accents monopolize. You can make your own world. And you can make it seem real. I've read a lot of fantasy and enjoyed (most of) it, but this series, and this particular world, proved to me that I could write fantasy, too. Mrs. Paul may not have influenced the world of literature the way Tolkien or Austen or Twain has, but she influenced me, and I'd say that was success. ;)

God bless!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

CE: When Dany Shops For School...

Where has August gone?! Was it just yesterday I was dreading anticipating my 20th birthday on the eleventh of this month (and my sister Jessa Bri was maliciously and hilariously hacking my blog to wish me many happy returns of the day)? Well, nope; not realistically, anyway. Wake up, Kiri, and smell the bacon. It's almost September! Time to get on the ball! 

I have been lackadaisical concerning keeping up with Kendra's hostings of Character Encounters (a lovely linkup ~ please check it out!). I love writing about meeting up with my characters every month, but for some reason, I never think of it until a few days before the month is over. Aw, well... my apologies. I shall inform the lovely little thing known as inspiration to strike sooner. 

This year, if you didn't know it already, I've dedicated the twelve Character Encounters this year  with the exception of December '12 replacing June '13) to be one of each of my twelve princesses from The Twelfth Kingdom. And yes, that story is based on The Twelve Dancing Princesses, just for your information. To keep my own head straight, I'm including a list of links to the previous princesses' encounters, and then I shall follow that up with this month's encounter with a new princess.


"Dany, there's got to be a green one somewhere."

"Perhaps if you try that stack there."

I follow the direction of the slender finger, and push up a few notebooks upward to see beneath them. "Could you hold a couple so I can get deeper?"

Princess Danyelle holds out her hands, and I pile her arms generously with the notebooks. "Must we specifically find a green one?"

My nose is buried in Wal-Mart's back-to-school shelves, so my voice is slightly muffled as I answer. "I s'pose any would work really. They're all the same, save for the cover. Jess has just had a green notebook every year for school, and she's asked us to get the same color to keep the tradition up. It's her favorite color, you know."

 "Your sister has excellent taste. Green is my favorite color, too."

I pull my nose out of a stack of 5 subject notebooks. "Green? Really?"

Dany gives me a wide grin and shakes her head at me, ruffling her brown curls. "Do you honestly think that because I am merely a figment of your imagination that you will immediately know everything about me?"

"You are all surprising me way or another when I meet you," I respond, stuffing my face back into the books. "I thought I knew all about you guys, but then I always seem to learn something new."

"You guys?" Dany's fair face falters as she stumbles over the strange words. "I do not..."

"It's modern lingo." I extract my hands from the dark shelves and wave it absentmindedly at her. "I wouldn't expect you to recognize that kind of talk because I don't want the twelve of you, or any of my characters to talk that way."

"And is it necessary for you as our writer to speak differently than you write?"

"Well, there's a difference there, I think. When I'm writing, I can think about what I'm putting down through my fingers, but when I'm talking... it just comes out."

I can hear the smile in Dany's voice. "Some would say, perhaps, that would be the reason the adjective of obnoxious has been applied to your person."

 "Found it!" I deliberately ignore Dany's statement, and luckily the sudden appearance of a green notebook has provided the perfect escape from responding. Why is it that somehow we always get back to this topic? Laris spoke of the same thing last month. Is it really that obvious?

"Well done, Kiri." Dany places the notebooks in her hands back on the shelf. 

"Green must be a popular color this year." I remark, holding my prize aloft and admiring it before dropping it into the woven iron depths of the shopping cart. "This must be the last one."

 "What must we pursue next?"

I grin. "I love the way you talk, Dany."

The brunnette girl hides her smile and turns her petite nose up at me daintily. "I haven't the slightest notion of what you speak. And if I had, perhaps the time has come for you to address me as Princess Danyelle, daughter of the king and ward of the kingdom of Findenland."

"You like having titles that long? Seems too grand for a small princess such as yourself."

"Small?" Dany sniffed. "May I remind you I am 19 years of age? And until recent days, I held superiority to you in that respect."

"Yes, well..." I clear my throat. "Don't make me wish I'd asked Issie to accompany me today instead of you."

"I shall endeavor to be an amusing companion."

I consult the list my mother gave me before we walked into the store. "Uh... besides the notebook, the last thing we need is pencil erasers. Mom has pencils, but we kinda used up all the erasers last year. Oh, and a day planner." I tap my chin. "That's it."

"Lead away, O thou consumer of the great mart. I shall follow thee unto the very corners of this expanse."

The erasers are relatively easy to find, but it's only after I pick them up that I realize the planners were back next to the notebooks. So, with me heaving a sigh, and Dany releasing a grin, we backtrack to the aisles containing all the books.

"What does your sister prefer in a planner?"

 I shrug, scanning the selections with a bored expression, not really seeing the ones in front of me. "Probably something green."

"Oh, Kiri! Look at this one!"

The cover of the planner Dany has picked up is clearly meant for a young girl, but the black and white photo of a ballerina in a large tutu is slightly faded, as if meant for an old fashioned feel. The edges were bordered with tiny roses, carefully threaded together. 

"Is this what they call a dancer in your world?" Dany's fingers gently caress the figure.

 "Yep. She's a ballerina."

"She's very elegant. I do wish I could see her dance. It must be a wonderful sight."

The look on Dany's face tugs at my heart, and I regret the recent months in which I have left her and each one of her sisters alone, without a new chapter or even a new scene. But the delicate smile playing about the princess's lips doesn't speak of sadness. Instead, it is one of wonder and delight, and in a mystic sense, wistful.

I turn away from her and rest my hands on the shelf. I know how much Danyelle loves dancing, probably as much as I love playing the piano. When separated from this love for lengths of time, I cannot deny that my fingers almost literally ache to touch the ivory keys and produce a tune. For Dany, the separation has been longer, and I can only imagine what longing she must feel.

"Excuse me, may I help you?" A store employee has just rounded the corner of the aisle and is looking expectantly at me.

"Oh, no, thank you. I'm fine."

She nods once and then disappears. I know before I turn back to my cart that Dany is gone. It's always like this. They never stay long, and almost never when other people are around. I wish the employee hadn't appeared, for it may have meant that Dany might still be here. I enjoyed talking with her, and her ready laugh and cheery comments made the shopping trip, something I usually despise, quite tolerable, and almost fun, indeed. 

I sigh, and glance down at the cart. A small day planner rests on the top of the pile of items stacked there. I smile as I examine the green, polka-dotted cover. It seems Dany knows my sister just as well as I do.

"You'll be dancing again soon, Dany." I promise in a whisper.

God bless!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Every Good Word Writing Tag

There's a new writing blog, for writers, by writers! And although I could say a lot about it, I'll just let you visit the blog, Every Good Word, and see for yourself. Yes, I'm sorry I'm like that. Please accept my weirdness. I'm a writer after all.

Anywho, I saw this spiffy, little tag popping up on a handful of my friends' blogs, and then decided I had to do it, too. Am I using this to get me back into a writing mood, hoping this questionnaire will get the creative juices flowing again? Maybe....
  1. What was your first-ever piece of writing? Hmm... that was a long time ago. I think it was a short story about my oldest sister, my two cousins, and myself all being sets of twins, and it was our birthday. I didn't know at that time how to spell "for" correctly so it always came out "fo." That was definitely interesting. Actually, the two biggest characters in the story were my younger sister, Jessa, and her best friend/partner in crime/cousin, Captain Oblivious. They made cards for the "twins," and they made good cards. :)
  2. How old were you when you first began writing? When I wrote the twins story, I couldn't have been more than 6 or so. But it wasn't until I turned 15 that I really began writing stories, real stories.
  3. Name two writing goals. One short term & one long term. That's difficult to say, because I'm in a stalemate at the moment. I really want to finish editing Children of a Legend and finish the first draft of Rebirth of a Legend, but at the same time I really want to finish writing The Twelfth Kingdom, and I've been bursting with inspiration for two stories I really haven't begun to work on in earnest: Black Fox and Kianna. What to do? What to do? I s'pose I should stick with CoaL and RoaL. So, short term? Finish chapter 14 and get to that all-exciting scene in RoaL, and long term... get CoaL polished and published. Not sure when that's gonna happen, but we'll see.
  4. Do you write fiction or non-fiction? Fiction!
  5. Bouncing off of question 4, what's your favorite genre to write in? Absolute favorite? Fantasy. Epic fantasy. Not that fluffy, modern thing people call fantasy today. I mean the good, old fashioned fantasy that Tolkien and Lewis wrote.
  6. One writing lesson you've learned since 2013 began. Editing is never easy. Some people can say it is, but it isn't. For me, if it only involved going through and catching all grammar and spelling mistakes, it'd be a breeze! However, finding plot holes and character flaws and all that other stuff... the rewriting of it all takes a lot out of you. And you thought just brain dumping the story out in the first place was hard!
  7. Favorite author, off the top of your head! C.S. Lewis. I love how he words things in his books. "And as for sweets, I won't tell you how good and cheap they were, for it would just make your mouth water in vain." :)
  8. Three current favorite books. Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens (probably my favorite Dickens so far!!), Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie, and The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien. And they may or may not be the last few books that I read...
  9. Biggest influence on your writing {person}: My dad. I know it might sound cliche, but my dad has influenced my writing like no other person has. He was a teacher, so personally, I consider him one of the smartest people in the world. ;) He is a hard but wonderful critic and knows both when to give praise and when to hold back on giving it. He's always telling me, "Never fall in love with your writing." One is always working on writing; there is no set goal that you can reach and then become a perfect writer. The moment you fall in love with your work, that becomes the moment you stop growing, and your writing will never get any better. It's been a hard lesson to learn, but I know that I'm better for my dad drilling that into me.
  10. What's your go-to writing music? Soundtracks. Current favorites to play while working on RoaL: HTTYD (by John Powell), Eragon (by Patrick Doyle), and Peter Pan (by James Newton Howard). Granted, I don't endorse all these movies or all the songs, but the majority of this music is amazing. Hence the reason I listen to it while writing.
  11. List three to five writing quirks of your's! Little habits, must-haves as you write, etc. 1) I love having music playing, although it can't be anything with words (learned that the hard way - I tend to sing instead of write). 2) I cannot stand when people watch me type. Don't know why, but it really annoys me. 3) I usually have two documents open: the actual story, and the story info. 4) The more excited I get about a scene or a line of dialogue, the faster I type. I don't type correctly all the time, but I use most of my fingers and I'm so well-acquainted with the keyboard that I can type entire sentences without looking at the computer screen or my fingers. The word I misspell the most is "the." It always comes out "teh." Go figure, eh?
  12. What, in three sentences or less, does your writing mean to you? I don't write stories to sell them. I write the books that I want to read. So often, I will pick up a book, a story that someone has said is great, and then put it down only after reading a few pages because there was something... well, wrong with it. It's not necessarily that I'm picky, but there are certain things that don't belong in stories (grammatical mistakes as a small thing, immoral behavior as a large thing). Seeing as we're here to glorify God, I don't want to waste my time reading books that aren't going to encourage me, give me something to chew on, that kind of thing. The stories I write are the stories that I want to read, stories that I love, stories I want to give the world. It doesn't matter if I'm not famous or a bestseller. I want stories that will point my readers to the Lord, stories I will not be ashamed of.
God bless!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Ankulen Cover Reveal And Interview

 My dear friend Kendra is anticipating the release of a new book! And to celebrate the grand event, she's asked for a few of us to participate in a special cover reveal! Well, here it is, folks! The Ankulen!

About The Ankulen: Fifteen-year-old Jen can't remember her imagination. She knows she had one once, though, and honestly, she'd like it back. It's been eight years. One day she finds a young boy who claims to be one of her imaginary friends and that her imaginary world is being eaten by a hydra-like monster called the Polystoikhedron. He helps her find the Ankulen, a special bracelet that had given the ability to bring her imagination to life and together they embark on a quest to find friendship, healing, and perhaps even some family.
1. What gave you the idea to write this story in the first place?
The book began as a play that my younger cousin and I were trying to put together for us to perform back when we were fifteen and eight. I was to be Jen and he was Chris. Later, my sister asked to join in and we made her Tisha. Unfortunately, we could never come up with an ending that would work with our extremely limited supply of special effects, so we eventually gave it up.

However, the idea wouldn't go away, and as I typed away on the Bookania Quests, and my other stories, it stayed back there in the corner of my brain, changing and growing, until about a year and a half ago when I finally pulled up a blank document, started typing, and never looked back.

2. Who is your favorite minor character, and why (just because everyone asks for a main character)?
Minor character? By that I will assume that you mean my favorite one of Jen's imaginary friends who isn't Chris or Tisha.

I shall go with the Wood Children. They're actually a group of characters, but I lump 'em all together. They're a bit like dryads, only they're all kids, between the ages of five and eight. Their job is to take care of trees, and they are so sweet, especially Walnut, the little boy who we meet first.

3. I know many times, most of my stories run away with me, and end up being totally different than what I had originally planned. Is the current ending of The Ankulen exactly as you imagined it would be when you first began writing the story?
Well, since the initial play had no ending, I'll say that it's changed a lot. However, when I sat down to write what became draft one, I did have a pretty good idea for how I wanted it to end. Had it been up to Jen, I probably would have had that ending, too, but there were a few other characters who had minds of their own, and changed it slightly. For the better, I do believe, since it saved one of those characters from having his memory wiped at the end. (The guy was starting to get on my nerves. Jen's too, much as we loved him.)

Don't forget to visit Kendra's blog for more excitement and fun! The Ankulen is also on Goodreads, so stop by and add it to your online bookshelf! I know it's on mine!

Kendra E. Ardnek  is the eldest daughter in a homeschooling family of four. She has been making up stories since an early age and published her first book, Sew, It's a Quest, when she was sixteen. When she isn't writing, she's usually knitting, crocheting,  making swords out of paint-stir sticks, or looking up random facts. You can follow her writing adventures on her blog, Knitted by God's Plan.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

It Looks As If You Have Been Hacked/Birthday Wishes

SUR-prise, Kiri!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Aren't you glad that I have hacked your account to wish you a happy birthday? 

AND to tell all of your swell followers that it is your birthday today?  

AND that it is your 20th birthday???

You are beaming with joy, I know you are. :)

Happy 20th Birthday, Kiri Liz!!! :)

Your loving sister,

Jessa Bri

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Memorable Worlds: Middle-Earth

Our dear Kendra from Knitted By God's Plan is planning the release of her next book, The Ankulen! And to celebrate the exciting event, she hosting a series of world-building posts in which she discusses the many different and memorable worlds that have influenced and inspired her. And, the kind blogger that she is, she has invited us all to join in the fun! And how could any world be more memorable than Middle-earth, the home of hobbits, dragons, elves, dwarves, and Rhosgobel rabbits? :)

To start things off, let me tell you how I was introduced to this world of J. R. R. Tolkien's. I first learned of Middle-earth just after The Return of the King came out in 2003. My aunt and uncle watched the films, and knowing my family's love of classic and fantasy, recommended that my parents watch them. My dad was familiar with LOTR, having read it and enjoyed it when he was younger, so he and Mom watched them. However, they told us that if we wanted to watch the movies, we had to read the books first. So, we got our copies and dutifully began reading, starting with The Hobbit first. 

I must say, the first time through Tolkien's books was difficult for me. I had just come from reading The Boxcar Children and such books, so LOTR was something entirely new.  And big. I wandered through most of the chapters, not exactly sure what was going on, but I managed to read all three of them. My older sister Beth had also finished the books at that point, so we pestered our parents to watch the movies. First viewing... we were hooked. I had always enjoyed fantasy, but LOTR took it to new heights. From that, we watched the extended editions of the films, which I abslobloominglutely recommend to any who loves Tolkien as I. I've also read The Silmarillian, The Children of Hurin, the appendices in the back of The Return of the King, and watched The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. And yes, I am very much looking forward to the extended AUJ as well as The Desolation of Smaug. I won't go about that, because it could fill an entire post. Quite a lengthy post, in fact.

But why is Middle-earth so memorable? One reason I believe it is so is because of the way Tolkien portrayed it. The classic story, the unforgettable characters... it's the kind of stuff that stays with you. That means something. Even if you were too small to understand why. It's not some fluff and nonsense tale. When you're reading Tolkien's works, you don't think about it being a story. It becomes real. The characters are real. Tolkien believed them real, so how could we do any less? 

Middle-earth has touched fiction, especially fantasy, in a way that no other story has ever touched the literary world. Tolkien's world has influenced so many writers, myself included. Elves are no longer the tiny, fat people who follow Santa Claus around and make toys. Neither are they pixie-like beings who glow in the dark and eat berries. Who thinks of them anymore when we have the regal inhabitants of Lothlorien and Mirkwood? Dwarves are no longer the stumpy, cartooned people who appear beside Snow White with funny hats and spectacles. Who, when hearing the the word dwarf, can imagine anything other than the dark bearded characters who wield axes and sing about blunting knives? Middle-earth has changed the face of fantasy.

Tolkien has also influenced writers to include maps alongside the stories. Who, after reading LOTR, has ever had the urge to make a map of his or her own? Tolkien made his maps so detailed, that one does not simply forget them. The mountains encasing Mordor... the long string of the Great River... the shadows of Mirkwood... the cheery face of the Shire... the elegance of Lothlorien... the homey atmosphere of Bag End... the lonesomeness of the crossroads... Weathertop... Minas Morgul... etc. You cannot mention one of these places without conjuring to mind images of Middle-earth. 

One last thing... for those of you wondering about my opinion on the magic in LOTR, please read this post.

God bless!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Ransomed Interview

I realize it is customary to start off such posts with a great introduction with a taste of the aforementioned interview, whetting your appetite and urging you to read more, but truthfully, I doubt I can say anything that would peak your interest as much as mine was peaked when I first got Elizabeth's responses to my questions. So, I shall allow her to take all attention, and I sincerely hope that you all enjoy this. Don't forget to stop by Elizabeth's blog, and discover more about this amazing story, as well as see more from this amazing author!  ;)


First, give me a short description of Ransomed.
Ransomed is an allegorical short story placed in a medieval-ish setting.
What gave you the idea to write this story in the first place?
Simply put, Ransomed is the written form of my awe at what Jesus Christ has done for me. I wrote the first version so many years ago I can’t remember exactly how I decided to write it, but the Bible and whatever books set in the middle ages that I had read (probably along the lines of Ivanhoe) were my story-starters.
Who is your favorite minor character and why?
There really are no minor characters, just four main characters.
Is the current ending of Ransomed exactly as you imagined it would be when you first began writing the story?
Yes, it is. Allegories are easy in that respect!
Let's suppose that someone just finished reading Ransomed and laid the book aside. What would you expect or hope his/her reaction to be?
Someone read the proof copy just the other day, and when he handed it back, he basically said, I’ve never read anything like it…it’s such a different way of looking at the story. It makes you think. And that is basically what I hope reader reactions in general will be. It is written mostly for teenaged Christian girls, by a teenage Christian girl. The story of salvation is one we have heard over and over again, often since we were babies, and I think sometimes we simply forget how incredible that story is. By placing a story I knew backwards and forwards into a new setting and changing the details, I wanted to force myself to reconsider what exactly it was that Christ did on the cross, and realize again exactly how awesome (using that word with its original heart-stilling meaning) it is.
Now let's switch topics from the enchanting story to the lovely creator. What is your purpose in writing?
I write because storytelling is in my blood and I’ve been in love with stories ever since I can remember. And in everything I do, my desire is to glorify God as I was created to do. Although I generally do not write with the idea of ‘what spiritual truths can I cram into this story’ (Ransomed was the exception, and even there it simply was the story, not something I tried to add), I do want everything I write to point readers to Him.
What time of day do you find it the easiest to write?
My ability to write is generally inversely proportionate to the time I have to do it, so finding time anywhere in the day can be difficult. Some of my best writing comes from morning lectures or sermons, though. There is something about singing hymns and hearing about the utterly incredible God that is ours that makes me ache to write that glory into words, and the better the sermon, the better I write, even if the scene on the surface appears to be unrelated to spiritual things.
As far as a specific time, though…I don’t have one. I write most easily when inspiration strikes me hard enough to stop whatever I’m doing and go write something down.
Do you often find what you believe coming through in your writing?
Hee, yes, actually far more often than I intend. Last winter I began a ridiculous novel I described as my “I’m-distracted-and-I-don’t-know-what-to-write story,” about a time-traveling thief and the rebel leader whose life he semi-accidently saves after his time-travel device breaks. Before I quite knew what was happening, it turned into an intense book about truth and lies, faith, forgiveness, and the power of Jesus’ name. I had no idea it was even going to be a serious story; right now it contains some of my favorite salvation scenes I’ve ever written.
Every writer struggles with something when it comes to writing, whether it be plot, character development, dialogue, etc. What would you consider your weak point, and how do you plan on perfecting that?
Erm… One of biggest reasons I write is to find out what happens—once I know, it’s just tying up loose ends, which is not nearly as fun. So my plots sometimes wander and ramble and go completely different directions from where I originally pointed them. I don’t know that I’ll ever be a structured writer with a beautiful outline to work from, but, as much as possible, I hope to use editing/rewriting to keep my stories on track and straighten up their wandering ways.
To wrap up, choose one of the stories you are currently working on (one of your favorites) and give me a taste of it, just enough to make me want to read more. 
Oooh, it’s hard for an author to pick a favorite…but here is a piece from one story I’ve just begun revising. It takes place in Israel and Syria during the time of the prophet Elisha. And, as you can perhaps guess from this bit, it is about Naaman’s servant girl.  

“So, planning my death already?” He took the towel from her nerveless hands, the corners of his mouth just barely tipping upwards.

Shock. Dread. Instant apprehension.

The young face turned to his showed nothing if not complete understanding. Oh, not only was she indeed planning someone’s death, if not indeed his own, she knew his language.

“Ah. And you speak Syrian, despite your pretense not to. Interesting information, that. I hope you realize Naaman told me to watch you. Better behave yourself, water princess.”

He dropped the towel carelessly onto her shoulder, turning to go, but then paused, glancing back at her. Her eyes had already veiled into confused wondering, and he narrowed his own eyes at her. “Don’t try to play with me.”

She defiantly dropped her eyes away from his, apparently submissive as a slave should be – something she could certainly not be punished for – and his jaw tightened. She knew he wanted her to look him in the eye.

When he took her wrist in his hand she gasped, jerking back, and he saw with slight satisfaction that she was again looking at him. But he ignored her, turning her wrist over and pushing her sleeve up to her shoulder. As he had expected, a great bruise was already purpling beneath the skin of her upper arm, and he dropped her wrist.

She jerked her sleeve down, clenching her teeth. This time she could not hide the flashing fury in her eyes, and he raised his eyebrows slightly.

“You’re not afraid to hurt yourself to give others what they deserve, are you? Dangerous quality, in a slave.” He held her eyes a moment longer, then added softly, “I mean it, water princess. Behave yourself.” 

Elizabeth Ender is a homeschool graduate, private pilot, author, and current medical school student. Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness is her life verse, and through her writing she hopes to glorify Him. All net profit from the sale of Ransomed will be donated to Chrystal Peaks Youth Ranch, a Christian ministry that uses rescue horses to help hurting children/families. Check out the giveaway at (beginning this Saturday!) and take part in the Amazon book blitz (also this Saturday!) to help out this amazing ministry.