Friday, June 27, 2014

"Liebster" Means Dearest...

Hey, would you look at that! The Liebster Award's coming around again, and I got nominated. Thanks, girls! You're just peachy! *grins*

Since I've already done this so many times in the past, I think I'm qualified to skip the 11 facts. I've answered so many questions, I'm running out of facts about myself. *winks*

First off, from Robyn Hoode:

1. Do you prefer Winter or Summer?
Whichever season I'm currently in. Right now -- that'd be summer. 

2. What is your favorite section of the bookstore?
Ooh! Good question! Probably the classics or fantasy or children's. What? Those are all excellent genres.

3. What is the most interesting non-fiction book you've read?
One that I really enjoyed was My Philadelphia Father based on the life of Mr. Anthony J. Drexel Biddle from which the old Disney musical The Happiest Millionaire came. You can read my review of it HERE.

4. What is the best writing prompt you've ever used?
Hmm... to me, everything is a writing prompt. I can get story ideas from the strangest places. One of the most recent came in this form from Pinterest:

And THIS was the story that resulted.

5. The farthest you've ever been from home (you don't have to say where you live)?
If I take one more step, it'll be the farthest away from home I've ever been. ~ Samwise Gamgee. 
From my current home under the maple tree, I've been 15 hours away for a four day period. I'm expecting to be about that distance again when my family goes to visit my grandparents for the Fourth of July.

6. What do you do to keep yourself from being bored on long car trips?
What? You mean people get BORED on car trips?? I'm never bored; you can't be with a car full of eight people. We read, sing, listen to music, play the alphabet game, snack, etc. It's one of our favorite things to do!

7. If you could go back in time, what time would you visit and why?
To visit? Oh... so many choices! Let's say medieval just because I love the costumes, wide open spaces, and adventures. 

8. On that note, would you consider yourself a Whovian? If so, favorite episode of Doctor Who?
Nope. Not a Whovian in any form. Personally, I can't understand the hype over reincarnated aliens with screwdrivers.

9. Favorite board game? Least favorite?
Favorite: CLUE. Because I always win. Least favorite: MONOPOLY. Because I always lose.

10. What is the longest book you've ever read and about how many pages long was it?
If we're just talking all books, it'd be the Bible with over 1,000 pages. I've read through mine... I think five times now. Other than that, I think the longest was probably Bleak House. My copy was 860-something pages.

11. Which famous author would you want to read your books and give you feedback?
Tolkien!! Oh, wait... he can't. But I still want his feedback.


For the second one, I wasn't actually awarded, but Michaela of Stepping Toward the Son kindly offered to let anyone who wished take her questions. Did I wish? Yes, yes, I did. 

1. Do you live in the country or the city?
Country. We're surrounded on three sides by asparagus fields. But we have a five minute drive into town.

2. Would you stay in bed all day if you could?
That depends; if I was sick, then yes. I'd rest, read books, and listen to Focus on the Family dramatized Narnia CDs. But... as much as I like my bed, I don't think I'd want to stay IN it all day. 

These CDs are almost worth staying in bed for.

3. Describe yourself in one sentence.
HA! Is that possible? Well, let's try.... I'm a Christian writing INTP with a love of classic books, good music, and gingerbread with a flair of obnoxious on the side.

4. What is your favorite social media network?
Define "social media network." I'm really not all that social. I use Facebook to connect with family who live in other states, and I have a Twitter account that I just set up this week, but I barely check it.

5. What would you do if you woke up one night, and there was the animal you fear most sitting on your sheets staring at you? (haha)
Umm... my brother? *winks* Joking. What animal do I fear the most? Probably some kind of wild cat, mangy, bad-tempered, and sporting razor-sharp claws. What would I do? Eh... roll over and go back to sleep.

6. What is your favorite song and artist?
Favorite song? Favorite SONG??? I can't pick just one! My favorite-of-the-minute song is, I think, Out There from The Hunchback of Notre Dame, so I guess the artist would have to be Alan Menken. I really don't follow modern artists and singers as they tend to be... well, not my style. And most of them can't even sing, so... *shrugs*

7. What is one of your fondest memories from when you were a little kid?
Too many! I don't know if I could pick just one... Where we live, it's rare for the sun to go down before 10 o'clock in the summer, so when my siblings and I went to bed, there was still plenty of light to read by before we fell asleep. Or... if we were lucky, our parents would let us stay up later, and we'd have a 9 o'clock baseball game or an energetic romp before it got dark.

8. What is one of the books you read (or had read to you) when you were little?
Make Way For Ducklings was a favorite. I memorized it and used to recount it to my sisters after we went to bed.

9. What was the last thing you ate?
Crackers. Plain crackers. 

10. What do you do when you wake up in the morning?
Examined my foot. I twisted it Sunday night fooling around with my brother, and have been stuck with Ace bandages, ice, and ibuprofen all week. It's not as sore as it was, but my foot is swollen pretty good and it's got a lovely purple color all over.

11. What is your favorite old movie?
One of my absolute favorites -- the Original Nancy Drew Mysteries with Bonita Granville. If you haven't seen them, you must. THEY ARE FANTASTIC!


And then, lastly, I was nominated by Katie from Cousins in Christ.

1. What's your best memory? Why?
I love remembering playing outside when I was younger. We didn't have TV or internet to distract us, and we were only hindered by our own imaginations. My siblings and cousins and I would do all sorts of creative and foolish games. It was so much fun. I don't know if I could pull out one specific instance as the best.

2. What book are you currently reading?
I'm currently reading three: The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo (first time and loving it! save for the essays on Paris architecture), Isle of Swords by Wayne Thomas Batson (re-read), and Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix (in preparation of Secret of the Hazel Tree's publication, I'm trying to read, review, and compare as many Cinderella stories as I can; this one, I can say honestly, is *not* a favorite).

3. Would you rather bathe in a pool of ketchup or mustard?
Probably ketchup.

4. How do you like to relax?
Read, write, play the piano, listen to music, watch a movie with my family.

5. Favorite childhood toy?
My Kirsten Larson doll. 

6. What genre do you like to write?
FANTASY! Most of what I write is fantasy. I've done a bit of historical fiction on the side, and I just started my first dystopian novel.

7. What's the best writing advice you've ever heard?
Don't ever fall in love with your writing. Always be looking for ways to improve because no writer is ever perfect. There's always room to grow.

8. Besides writing, what do you do in your free time?
Read. Play the piano. Didn't I answer this already?

9. What are your wall colors? (I want to do a random question like Athelas :)
Spa blue/green. I share a room with four sisters, and we had to compromise on the color; half of us wanted blue, the other half wanted green, so we went with this spa aqua color. We all love it.

10. Favorite Bible verse? 
Joshua 1:9

11. Why do you write?
Because I love it. Because I want to put the books I want to read into the world. Because I want to inspire and challenge others. Because I'd go crazy if I didn't.

And because I'm feeling lazy, I'm not going to tag anyone. If anyone wants to steal some/all of the questions above, go right ahead! Answer them in a comment or a blog post of your own! I'd love to read your answers! Just say Kiri Liz awarded you! *winks*

God bless!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Samantha: First Scene

Annnnd.... I just realized that I never got around to writing and posting the first scene from my Samantha plot bunny. For those of you who need a reminder, please check out this post. For the rest of you, here's what I've got:

You're so dumb,” the voice taunted. “You're so dumb, you don't even know how to climb a tree.”

Samantha examined her scraped knee and scowled. The fall from the oak branch hadn't hurt her too much but Grandmary would not be pleased to see her ripped stocking. The most embarrassing part of falling out of the tree was having such a display witnessed by one's least favorite neighbor. She glared at the bushes.

“Go away, Eddie.”

But the voice did not go away; it only laughed. “You're so dumb you probably think three times four is twelve.”

She gave an unladylike huff. For once, his wild guesses at math were correct. He may be two grades above her in school, but no one could tell by his obviously stupid remarks. “Three times four is twelve.”

“Samantha, you're so dumb...”

She turned away. Why wouldn't he just leave her alone? “Eddie, go away!”

The voice cackled as a sticky face appeared from the bushes. “Samantha's dumb! Samantha's dumb!” It cried as it came closer, filling her vision until she could see nothing else.

“Go away!”

“Dumb Samantha!”

“Stop it, Eddie!”

“Samantha! Wake up!”

With a gasp, Samantha Parkington sat straight up in bed. Her hand flew to her knee, still covered by the blankets. Even with the cloth under her fingers, she knew instantly that there was no scrape discoloring her skin. The voice was gone, the bushes all but a distant memory. She was no longer that little nine-year-old girl with ripped stockings. No, she was far from that. 

She felt someone gently touch her forehead. “Are you feeling ill, Samantha?”

“I'm fine.” Samantha pushed Nellie's anxious hand away. “It was only a dream.”

Her adopted sister regarded her critically. “More of a nightmare, if you ask me. You cried out more than once and woke me up.”

Samantha fell back onto her pillows and pulled the blankets up to her chin. “I'm sorry.”

But Nellie wasn't finished. She leaned over Samantha, placing one hand on the iron-wrought headboard to steady herself. “You were yelling at Eddie.”

“Next-door nuisance,” Samantha mumbled, rolling over to avoid Nellie's eyes.

Her sister sighed. “Why are you letting that bother you still? I thought you left those nightmares behind you. That was almost ten years ago!”

“Eight years,” Samantha corrected. “And I don't know! Can I help it that the dream came back?”

Nellie grabbed her shoulder and forced her back over. “Samantha, that's all past now. Eddie Ryland isn't here, and we most likely never see him again. Didn't his mother send him off to some obscure college somewhere? Don't let him bother you anymore. Besides,” she continued, “you're not dumb. You're the smartest girl I know.” She gave Samantha a friendly poke in the shoulder. “Who graduated from the academy with the highest honors? Who received the most status for academic achievements? Who astonished the teachers beyond recall with excellence and deportment?”

Samantha couldn't keep her grin back. “Me.”

“Yes, you! Not Eddie.” Nellie's eyes flashed excitedly. “Now just tell that to your nightmares.” She left the bed and walked across the room. “Are you hungry?”

“Not very. What time is it?” Samantha glanced at the clock resting on her nightstand. The elegant hands were small but easy enough to read – six thirty. Grandmary wouldn't be up yet, although the Admiral would be just returning to the hotel after his morning walk. If they hurried, they could meet him when he returned to the suite. He was fond of two smiling faces greeting him at the door, as she and Nellie both knew.

She threw the blankets off and leaped out of bed as Nellie pulled their dresses from the wardrobe.

“Can you believe that it's already our last day in Paris? I never imagined our tour to go this quickly!” She exclaimed, studying the dresses with an expert eye. “Just think – next week we'll be on the RMS Titanic, sailing home, and then we'll be in New York City in time for your eighteenth birthday.” She frowned and cast a quick look at Samantha. “Do you want the white one or the pink one?”

“Pink,” Samantha said without even glancing at the dresses. The white was pretty enough, but the collar on the pink one proved most flattering with her locket she never took off. For a moment, she let her fingers rest on the tiny, gold heart. Inside were two faded pictures, though she hardly had to look at them anymore to remember what they looked like and to recall the beloved faces smiling back at her.

I miss you, Mother and Father, her heart whispered as a brief tear clung to her eye. I wish I could have known you longer. I wish we could have been a family.

“Samantha?” Nellie was holding the pink dress out to her, watching her with a curious expression. Her face softened as she caught sight of her sister's hand clutching the locket. She nodded, understanding. “I know, I miss mine, too.”

Samantha accepted the dress blindly. “I still don't understand why they had to die. Why I was never really given a chance to know them.”

“Would you wish them back?”

“Why wouldn't I?”

Nellie looked away. “But what about everything you have now? Would you change any of that?”

Samantha's heart sunk. She knew to what Nellie was referring. “No, I wouldn't change it. I mean, it's not every day that my best friend would become my sister. And everything we have in New York – Bridget, Jenny, little William, Uncle Gard, Aunt Cornelia, and all the others – I wouldn't give them up for anything. But... but don't you sometimes find yourself yearning for your real parents next to you? A mother to sympathize with you, a father to seek advice from?”

“Of course I do,” Nellie answered, rubbing her hands against the dress she'd chosen, a blue silk with dark gray trimming. “But we can't change the past, Sam. I think these things were all meant to happen for a reason. We can't control the universe and how it works, even though we may try to. I think there are things bigger than us, some things we can't even comprehend.”

Samantha snorted, eagerly dashing away all former signs of sorrow. “When you can find something bigger at work than the matchmaking Mrs. Woodbourne, let me know. I seriously doubt anything could be bigger than her.”

Nellie lost her somber air to an instant fit of giggles. “It's not her fault that she loves cake.”

“And cookies, and pies, and breads, and...” Samantha rolled her eyes and rounded a list out of the rotund lady's favorite foods. Nellie's giggles didn't cease, so neither did her sister's tongue. But the time Samantha had gotten around to breaded pork and beef tenderloin, Nellie had to sit down lest her laughter cause her to fall over.

“Oh, Samantha, stop!” She cried, holding her side. “Please!”

With a grin, Samantha added one last food item: “And pickled livers.”

The oddity had the expected result. Nellie's jollity vanished into a disgusted expression. “Jeepers, Sam! That's horrid!”

Now it was Samantha's turn to laugh. “Come on; we'd better hurry. The Admiral will think we've abandoned him.”

God bless!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Interview with Ashlee Willis

Ashlee Willis just published her debut novel, The Word Changers, and today it is my great joy to share with you the interview Ashlee so graciously allowed me. 


First, give me a short description of The Word Changers
The Word Changers is a book about a girl named Posy who, trying to temporarily escape her troubled home, falls straight into a book. She soon finds that even though she has fallen into a fairy tale, and all the characters within the book are treating her as the heroine, the story is a dark one. One she is not sure she wants to be a part of. 

What gave you the idea to write this story in the first place?
Book ideas are, at least for me, similar to seeds. They begin so tiny. Just one thought or image or word. And then they grow. I build on them, more and more, until I’ve got a whole cast of characters, a theme and a structure. The Word Changers’ “seed” began when I was only a child. It wasn’t even something I thought of as a story idea at the time. It was merely my own strong desire to actually become a part of the books I was reading. It was only after I got older and had a child of my own that that idea came back to me again, this time in the form of a potential story.

Who is your favorite minor character and why? 
Alvar is a main character I came to love. I usually am a big plotter, and have most things planned out before I even begin writing my books. But Alvar surprised me. He just popped into existence while I was writing, and I knew he was right for it. He’s a bit harsh, and perhaps even a little scary … but he’s got a huge heart, and more bravery than any warrior.

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 Word Changers exactly as you imagined it would be when you first began writing the story?
No, it’s really not! The main theme of the ending is the same – the “message” of the story. But there were many of the actual events that happened near the end that just naturally changed in the scheme of things. Plotter though I may be, things do have a way of getting away from me sometimes. I used to get a bit panicked when that happened, but I’ve learned to see the great potential that could be to my story. It doesn’t always have to be a bad thing when stories take unexpected turns …

I love the title -- The Word Changers! Can you tell us what inspired it?
I don’t title my books until I’m pretty deep into them, or even finished. There is a part in The Word Changers, where the owl Nocturne is speaking with Posy and Kyran, maybe two-thirds of the way through. He tells them their actions have begun to change the story and he tells them that folk have begun to refer to them as “the word changers.” I think that was when I really made a solid decision on the title. I was pretty thrilled when my publisher decided not to change it!

Let's suppose that someone just finished reading The Word Changers and laid the book aside. What would you expect or hope his/her reaction to be?
Some of my strongest and best reactions to books have been almost physical. I feel pained to part with them – with the world within them, with the characters I’ve come to know and love. Yet I feel a satisfaction, too, because I’m taking with me a part of that story forever. It meant more to me than just entertainment. And that’s what I hope, even in small part, that readers of The Word Changers will feel when they close its last page.

Now let's switch topics from the enchanting story to the lovely creator. What is your purpose in writing?
I hope to write stories that my readers will find entertaining, full of adventure, fantasy, danger and intrigue. But I hope as well that they will see the meaning beneath. That the stories I write will not only entertain, but lead my readers to a better understanding of both themselves and God. To let them know that the world we see all around us is only a small part of what we are meant to be a part of. To give them a bit of longing for the world we were truly created for.

Do you often find what you believe coming through in your writing?
Very often! I think if you believe anything strongly and truly, there is no way you will keep it from seeping into every aspect of your life. In fact, many times that is my aim.

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?
I tend to get a little wordy with descriptions, I think. I see things so clearly in my imagination, I have trouble holding back from wanting to paint a detailed picture of it with words. I’ve learned (I hope!) to trust my readers a bit more to fill in those blanks with their own imaginations. 

If you were able to give up-and-coming writers a bit of advice, what would you tell them?
There’s a point – a rather dangerous point – where passion fades and the real work begins. That’s not to say that passion never returns again, because it does. But don’t let its absence fool you. Don’t let the lack of it make you think your talent has run its course. Your writing, or even your pursuit of publication, may feel like the most strenuous thing you’ve ever done. But don’t give up. Push on past that wispy feeling, muscle your way straight into determination, and you’ll find a world of imagination and depth that you probably never dreamed of. Keep writing, keep querying, keep studying the craft. And one day, your story will be told.

Thank you so much, Ashlee!


The Word Changers is a must read for anyone who dares to call themselves a Christian fantasy fan! Click here to read my review of The Word Changers on KiriBeth, and then stop by Goodreads and add it to your shelf! If you're eager for more information about this novel, please visit Ashlee's website.

About Ashlee Willis:
Ashlee Willis is the author of fantasy for young adults. She lives in the heart of Missouri with her husband and young son. While most of her days are balanced between writing, reading and homeschooling, she also finds time to enjoy tea with friends, forest walks, photography, and piano playing.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

June Crusade: Criminal, Like Jellybeans

Whoa! Is this already Plot Bunny #8?? Sufferin' cats, I never expected them to come this quickly! Ah... well.

Don't forget to stop by Anne-girl's blog to learn more about the June Crusade!

To be blunt, Criminal, Like Jellybeans was spurred on just yesterday as I was browsing Pinterest. Nice site, that. Tons of inspiration. But I digress... 

La inspiration:


Snippet first, just to make thing different.

“I'm sorry, 6-1-2,” was all the guard said before he shut me in. “But this is justice.”

The door slammed, echoing fiercely in the small, dark chamber. He hadn't bothered with the lights, and I was in no mood to flick them on. The detaining room was boring and cold, anyway; why would I want to view it? Most things looked better in the dark, where a thick blackness swallowed lies and secrets, hiding them away so that the day could never expose them. I knew.

I moved to the low cot and sat, pulling my knees up to my face. With my arms wrapped around my legs, the hard world seemed that much farther away. I was the master of myself, and as long as I knew that I was in control, everything would be fine.

But I wasn't in control. No, here at last, the master assassin, Agent 6-1-2, was done for; caught, locked up, and waiting for a life sentence that was sure to come within the next forty-eight hours. I'd been in jails and other courtrooms before, but that had always been in disguise, me acting as someone else, never myself. I'd always seen them from a different viewpoint, and now here I was – stuck behind the bars I'd so often gazed upon from the reverse side. After all those years of blood and deceit, Agent 6-1-2 was put away for good.

That's an optimistic attitude, I grumbled to myself. Agent 6-1-2 has pulled through greater obstacles. This one setback won't take her out forever... will it?

I groaned. You're talking about yourself in third person again, 6-1-2. Why can't you be just like normal people? Normal people refer to themselves as I and me.

With a sigh, I dropped my arms and allowed myself to fall onto my back on the narrow cot. “Who am I fooling?” If I'd landed in jail a few years ago, I'd have thrown myself into the guards, pounded them for all I was worth, snatch as many firearms as I could get my hands on, and do whatever it took to get out of there. But now... no, now I was a nobody. An agent, sure, but an agent no one cared about. One that was cheaper than a can of tuna at the grocery store.

The thought forced a rough laugh up my throat. The hardened criminal was now on the same level as dead fish.

“Some criminal,” I muttered.

“Like jellybeans?”

Agent 6-1-2 has spent her whole life running from her past, and now she's so different no one would ever recognize her. She's made a name for herself with her wits, her stealth, and her gun. No one would dare to call her anything other than a master assassin, and she enjoys what she'd call “little tasks” – assignments given by some of the world's top villains. It's an exciting life... until the master assassin gets caught. Agent 6-1-2 does not like jail. Nor does she approve of her new cell mate – a six year old girl named Alice.

Alice has spent her whole life locked behind the relentless iron bars. She doesn't know her crime, and no one seems able to explain it to her. No one in the world would stoop to befriend her, but Alice doesn't mind. Life could be worse, and the Chief is kind enough; who else would let her watch Disney movies, eat popcorn, and listen to musicals while in jail? At least, he does when he remembers she's still there.

The last thing Agent 6-1-2 wants to do is spend her life sentence locked in the same cell as Alice. And that's only before Alice shows her the portal to her imagination – a place where people break out into random songs, dragons plague the land, and candy is illegal. Agent 6-1-2 knew she was a criminal, but she never knew she was criminal like jellybeans.

And yes, Alice was named for that iconic character who travels to Wonderland. In a sense, this story is kinda based on that, too.

God bless! 

Monday, June 23, 2014

June Crusade: The Riddle

Because this road is important...

Have you ever had just way too many ideas all at once? Well, that's what this month has been for me. Ever since Anne-girl announced that this year's June Crusade was going to be all about plot bunnies, I've been overrun with those cute hippity-hops. 

For the official Plot Bunny #7 for the Crusade, I'm introducing you all to a semi-favorite (I can't abso-favorite it because of weirdness in the second half), lesser-known fairy tale. Yes, I know I already started a fairy tale retelling this month with Beyond the Thorns, but one day I'm going to retell them all (or just as many as I can with clean, fun, magic-free, realistic, Dicken-ish contents), so I might as well get a start on another.

Have you ever heard of The Riddle? No, probably not. I'm going to be mean and direct you to the Wikipedia page for information on that one, because I want to get to the main stuff here: the blurb and the first snippet. 

Okay, here's what I got:

Prince Rian enjoys laughter, fun, jokes, and riddles – and in his royal place with little else to bother him, who wouldn't? Yet Rian has but one curse in life: he will never be able to understand his father. When King Ro'de Lar publicly announces his intentions to marry his son to a foreign princess and bring about a marriage alliance between the two kingdoms, Rian is certain that it's a joke. His father, unfortunately, is of a completely serious mind and secretly warns his son of treasonous whispers – whispers that could start a war, if they had but a single match to light the fire. And what's worse, the king wants Rian to find that match. Never mind the princess; that's the real purpose of his visit.

Reluctantly, Rian leaves the home he loves and travels to Veymark to meet his maybe bride-to-be. The journey is long, and it doesn't take much for something distracting on the side to pull Rian from his task. His path soon takes him to the doorstep of a crotchety old lady who, despite her crooked smile, is more than just senile. Things begin escalating when Rian's horse dies after contact with poison meant for the prince himself, and the old woman is the prime suspect.

Rian's adventures don't stop there, though, as he encounters a band of robbers and plenty of other dangers. All along the road, he uses his light-hearted laughs and jokes to keep the time pleasant, yet he discovers that there are riddles in the world that even he cannot fathom. In fact, his whole life, including everything he knows, might just be one of those riddles.

Because masked guys are important...

Annnnnnd, the snippet:

Riddles were Rian's best friend. The cleverness, the wit, the jabs; nothing fascinated him more than a crafty line. Jokes and a good laugh, of course, were close behind in his estimation, yet even they could not top a genuinely ingenious riddle. To say in the least, Rian thrived on them. No, if one did not take into account the loyalty of Alven – which Rian usually didn't – riddles were definitely the prince of Renarda's best friend.

When Rian was four, he told his first riddle to Renarda's royal court and succeeded in making even the stolid Baron Surlorest let loose in a guffaw. King Ro'de Lar was the only one who failed to laugh, and he was not amiss in pointing that out to his son later that evening.

“It's not dignified for a young prince to gallivant about telling jokes!” He said, waving his arms around in frustration. “I insist that you cease this unseemly behavior and begin acting like the prince you were born to be!”

Rian wrinkled up his freckled nose. “Why?”

“Because we are supposed to be the leaders of society! The rulers of the kingdom! If we stoop to petty things, what will become of our public image? I wish to hear no more about bears lying about in the woods.”

A grin swept over Rian's face. “But don't you know, Papa, they do that to trip the beetles!” He giggled at the thought.

King Ro'de Lar's face got very red. “Enough! No more bears, no more beetles! There are more important things in life than riddles, and once you learn that, the better off you'll be.”

But the giggles and chuckles only made Rian want to seek out more. He'd seen the laughter once, and in that instant, despite his youth, he determined to seek out the greatest riddle in the Twelve Kingdoms and bring it home to his father. Perhaps then, only if it was indeed the greatest riddle, King Ro'de Lar would enjoy it. He was careful not to tell any riddles around his father, but that didn't mean he couldn't divulge in an innocent laugh now and then. If riddles were forbidden, then practical jokes would have to suffice for the time being.

It was after no less than twenty-nine court members and thirteen royal advisors suffered through the varying humiliations of water buckets over doors, cream pies in their chairs, and frogs in the teapot that they begged the king to reconsider the riddles. 

Because I like this pic. His body language says it all!

God bless!

Friday, June 20, 2014

June Crusade: The David Team

Hey, look! Two posts in one day! This oughta be a record!!

*trumpet blare* All hail our marvelous Anne-girl and her noble June Crusade! You should know by now what I'm talking about. LINK.

Plot Bunny #6 is unlike any story I've ever penned before. I'm only just starting to get into reading the science fiction/dystopian/apocalyptic/whatever genres, and I never anticipated myself to ever be writing that kind of story. Yet, I found some awesome inspiration on Pinterest, and I couldn't let it go. 

..... Why did I just sing that last line? *shrugs* Anywho...

I told Kathryn that I was going to write a dystopian novel. And I fully intended to. So, I began chewing on ideas. What goes into a dystopian novel? What sort of things should you, or should you NOT, write about? And while I was thinking all that, here's what I found on Pinterest:

And then I found this:

Yes. I nodded. I could make a story out of that. And then the ideas came way too fast.

United States – 2714

With the world in chaos, all men battle for superiority. Regimes rise and fall daily, and it seems that no one group can hold the power for very long. Yet, some of the most influential groups have targeted the Christians. They kill wherever they can, determined to destroy all of God's followers, no matter what the race or age of their victims.

When he woke up, he could only remember David. Was David his brother? His father? His enemy? A friend? He didn't know. He didn't even know his own name, where he had come from, or even why he could manipulate light and heat. All he knew was that he had to find David. People laughed at him; there was no such person as David; David never existed. Yet because he would not give up, they called him Jonathan – David's friend.

Now Jonathan struggles to place himself in society, but he's turned out on the streets, unwanted wherever he goes. He keeps his strange powers to himself, fearing that someone might turn against him if they were made known. Of course, nothing can stay hidden forever, and it's not long before Jonathan finds himself with two options – flee from all civilization or join a resistance group eager to welcome him and his manipulating powers.

But this is no ordinary group. This is a group dedicated to snatching the condemned out of harm's way, a team whose only purpose is to save the lives of those who claim Christ. In an apocalyptic holocaust, Jonathan finds more conflict than he wants – proving to the world that David was real, finding out who the true villains are, and understanding what it means to be snatched out of the flames. 

Snippet from the first scene (I apologize it isn't longer, but I'm still working on it):

When I woke up, the only thing I remembered was a smile. And not just any smile – it was David's smile. I was sure it was David's smile. I wasn't sure who David was, but I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I had to find him.

The second thing I knew was that I was on fire. My hands burned, my legs burned, my face burned. Everything was warm and searing, and I was certain it was swallowing me whole. Yet when I opened my eyes, I could see nothing. All around me was dark, a dense blackness unlike I'd ever seen before. Not that I could really remember seeing black. Why can't I remember? Who am I? People had names, didn't they? What was my name?

I struggled to sit up, ignoring the pain of the fire. My fingers clutched at air, but it wasn't warm; instead, it was cool and dusty, with a breath of wind teasing around my thumb. Where's the fire?

The questions buzzed my brain. I tested my tongue. “This has to be a nightmare.” The sound of my voice calmed me; I could still talk, even if I couldn't see anything.

Just to be clear, I have absolutely no genre to stick this in. Think of it as Scarlet Pimpernel meets the Avengers meets the story of David meets end times meets... I'm not sure what else.

God bless! 

June Crusade: Allen's Revenge

Plot Bunny #5, folks! Hope you're ready for it! If you're interested at all for plot bunnies #1-4, just take a peek at the list on my sidebar. And don't forget to stop by our lovely hostess's blog to learn more about the June Crusade.

This story sparked from a dream I had. I won't tell you all of it, but I'll dish out just the general sense of it all... I was a stranger in an odd land, a land that I knew I had been promised great things from, yet it was a land that was dark and violent and unforgiving. The rich laughed scornfully, and everyone else who didn't have money was instantly clapped in slavery's chains.

What was wrong? I wondered. Why is everything so horrible? I remember feeling scared when I got branded a slave, and then I heard whispers surround me. It's the king's fault. He did this to you - to everyone. He hates goodness. He'll do whatever he can to pull you down.

Well, now I'm sure you can imagine how one must feel in that situation. I woke up soon after, but not before I'd been befriended by a man I didn't know. I didn't want to agree to his proposition, but I knew even without him asking what he wanted me to do: sneak into the castle and put an end to all the suffering of the common people, the people held as slaves. Free them and go to whatever extreme to help them.

And of course, that extreme was... killing the king.

To say in the least, I woke up laughing at myself. What had I eaten the night before to give me such a dream? But when I chewed on it, I decided that made a great story starter. What if there was someone who'd yearned for freedom and wealth and great things, but instead fell into the dark pit of slavery? Someone who became part of a rebellion, and against his better judgement, agreed to kill for the sake of freeing others?

Well, my friends, that's where Allen came in. And this is his story.

Because everyone loves a nice collage... and because it was easier than trying to finagle a bunch of pictures into this post.

Orphans Perden and Allen Wolfhouse hated their childhood, and why shouldn't they? Forced to work day and night, even as young boys, and slapped with the name of their shame – the orphanage Wolfhouse. Both brothers vow to one day rid themselves of the labor they abhor, dreaming of a new life that can only be found on the Lower Home island. One day, they promise each other, that life will be theirs, and they'll have anything they could ever desire.

But on Perden's sixteenth birthday, Allen's world comes crashing down. The orphanage cannot keep the older boys, so they are turned out to fend for themselves. Only eleven, Allen is not permitted to accompany his brother. Perden hates to leave him behind, but they have no choice. He promises to work and come back for Allen when Allen is old enough, and then together they'll venture onward to a glorious new life.

Ten years later, Allen is out of the orphanage and just finishing work as a lowly farmhand to earn money for his passage over the channel. Perden never returned, never sent word, but Allen doesn't give up hope – even when he discovers that Perden crossed over to Lower Home without him. No, he'll just meet him there. Nothing could be simpler.

But that's before Allen finds Lower Home is nothing like what he imagined, before he's thrown off his ship into the hands of slavers and chains. Before he's roped into a rebellion he didn't want. Before he falls victim to a dying man's unbearable request and a madman's whims.

First scene:

Is this what freedom feels like? Allen leaned dangerously over the side of the ship. The cool breeze felt refreshing on his face, and the ocean sent up droplets of water as the waves crashed against the side of the vessel. He brushed the saltwater out of his eyes and threw a smirk down into the clear, blue depths.

“Laugh all you want now,” he told the water. “Soon I'll be rich and happy, and I won't have to work another day. Then Perden and I will have nothing to worry about.”

He heard someone snort behind him and a heavy hand clamped down on his shoulder. “Now why might ye be talkin' down there? Can't hear ye none.”

Allen grimaced. The sailor's breath smelled thickly of beer. Even though the captain declared alcohol absent on the voyage, Allen supposed there were plenty of secret caches which held smuggled beer for the enjoyment of the more foolhardy crew members. But he said nothing, merely pushing the drunken sailor away. Not even his halitosis could dampen Allen's excitement for this day. Let the crew think him mad, talking to the water of the channel as he did. It mattered little to him. He stared outward, his eyes strained on the dark line just on the horizon.

“I'm coming, Perden,” he whispered. “And once I get there, we'll be a family again.”

He didn't know why his brother had made the crossing without him; why he had never tried to contact Allen at the orphanage. They had promised to come together to Lower Home, to face the new life together, but for some reason, Perden hadn't waited. It had taken Allen almost two years to finally discover the truth about his brother's whereabouts, each month passing anxiously, each night lonelier than the last. Doubts grayed the corners of Allen's mind, but he thrust them into oblivion.

Perden knew what he was doing. I'll find him in Lasarett.

The mere mention of the name sent a thrill down his spine. Lasarett. The capitol, the place where the waters stopped, the home of every dreamer whether he be twenty-one or not. As the dark smudge on the horizon steadily grew larger, Allen couldn't contain the smile that swept over his face. They'd dock that evening, and he was certain it would only take a few short hours – if that – to locate Perden.

 Allen took a deep breath. Soon.

God bless!