Saturday, August 12, 2017

Book Review: The Lunar Chronicles (Marissa Meyer)


If you like fairy tale retellings and sci-fi...

You

will

love

these.

The series takes several fairytales and puts them into a science fiction setting. Earth in the future, with many years of additional history. Cinder, a cyborg mechanic, is at the center. It follows her mission to stop the Lunar queen, Levana, from taking control of Earth. She gathers a crew behind her, the Cinder Squad, to stop Levana.

First off, the characters are so vivid and varied. They come from so many different lifestyles, with colorful personalities. There's so much sass and sarcasm and witty banter, and I love it. The Cinder Squad is basically one big, slightly dysfunctional family of four girls (five if we include Iko, an android) and four guys. So you can guess the madness that could ensue. ;)

But they're able to work together. It works. They have their squabbles, but they get along well. And, with any proper fairytale, there is romance. All of them are adorable, and all of them are super new to the area of love (Thorne too, even though he's a big flirt), which is super cute, because they can be kind of awkward and dorky. My favorite ship is easily Thorne and Cress. They are precious.

I could talk about the characters for pages and pages, guys. I loved them all. Kai and Cinder were precious babies. Winter was a little odd but so sweet. I was leery about Jacin but he's okay now. Thorne is, like, a precious rogue and I love him. Cress is a the angel of the squad, with some attitude. Scarlet is, I think, basically the squad mother and takes no crap from anybody. Wolf is another precious child who needs so many hugs and tomatoes. And Iko is the energetic, bubbly cheerleader who can also kick some butt. XD  Many of them have really nice arcs, and the romantic plotlines have their own arcs, and they play a role in the main plot, instead of simply being a side-plot. I just love them all, guys.

Except Levana. She was a REALLY good villain, but the things she did... they are despicable. She's ruthless and merciless. The "prequel" story that tells her story, Fairest, did nothing to gain her sympathy from me (but that's another review for another time).

The plot kept rolling and getting bigger and more complex with each book, especially since each book added at least 2 more POVs. There was plenty of action and events that kept the squad on their toes, with plenty of near-death experiences. But there's also moments of peace, where everyone can breathe, including us readers.

And the worldbuilding. It was vivid too, even in the interiors of spaceships. The cultures even on Earth were shown well, and Luna's worldbuilding was pretty fascinating, utilizing the environment of the moon well, and the potential hazards and disadvantages. It was really cool to learn about its culture, and the abilities of Lunars.

Meyer created a bright, vivid adventure packed with everything, and wove fairytales right into it. From Cinderella to Little Red Riding Hood and Rapunzel to Snow White. She's elevated these princesses to some pretty tough ladies in the female half of the squad, and gave them equally tough gentlemen to work with. B3 I loved this series, and I highly recommend.

****

Violence/gore: There’s a lot, and it is described, but it’s not over-described, really. There are some instances of torture, too.

Sexual content: Kisses are exchanged between the main relationships of the series. Some light sexual references (as far as I remember). Very little of anything sexual beyond the main couples’ kisses.

Profanity: Not a lot, actually. If there is, it’s brief and rather sporadic, and fairly light language. It was one of the things that made me love this series even more, the absence of language.

Other: Nothing extreme that I can think of? There may be drinking, but I don’t believe there’s much else that I can recall.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

The Truths I Tell

If you read the About Me page when I rebooted my blog, some of this may sound familiar. But I wanted to make an “official” post about my purpose for writing: Why I write, and things I will or won’t write, or how I write certain things.

I’m not here to spark debate or conflict. I’m here to state what, I believe, is the purpose God has given me for writing. I do believe God has given me the gift for stories for a reason, and I think I’m beginning to learn why. I’m still learning, still navigating these waters and realizing it all.

So while I’m not trying to find conflict, I am not opposed to polite discussion. We can do it in comments, or if you’d prefer, we can find someplace to discuss it privately. I’m open to discussion, but only if it is polite and civil. I’m not here to argue, and I ask that if you disagree with me, that any comments are civil. :)

So with that, may I begin? ;)


I love writing stories. I love when an idea sparks and I love playing it out in my head, mulling over a variety of possible directions. Sometimes I don’t act on these stories right off. I have so many, it’s hard to pick which ones to work on!

I want to write to share these stories. To share the adventures, to share the characters. Sometimes I have a specific message I want to share in mind, other times I don’t (but usually there’s a message that quietly makes a place for itself anyway). I want to share my stories so others can read and enjoy them, and maybe find something in them that will offer help with something they’re struggling with. I want to write stories that offer fun, adventure, family, maybe a bit of romance in some, and above all, hope (more on that part later!).

Like I said, I believe God has given me the gift of words and storytelling. And so I want to use it to the best of my ability, to glorify Him. To do that, I must write honestly, and write His truths in the correct way. I see a lot of things in storytelling that I don’t agree with. I am a Christian, so there’s bound to be a lot of things the world and I don’t see eye-to-eye on in the art and content of storytelling.

So with my stories, I want to glorify God and show the world His truths. What pleases Him.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean I write Christian fiction. Or Christian fantasy (fantasy being my niche). This doesn’t mean I’m against it, either! I’ve written a Christian fantasy novella and I LOVED it. I’d do it again. Christian fiction/fantasy/speculative fiction/your-genre-here has its place, no doubt. I love reading it, and I enjoy trying to write it. ^_^

But my writing tends to not have directly religious references. Instead, I’m learning how my writing can glorify God in how I present the content I do write: the truths I write vs. how I must write about sin.*

*Story worlds are never perfect. There’s going to be sin. What I mean here is how I portray sin, by not condoning sin.


·       TRUTH VS SIN
I write to portray God’s truths, the things He declares good and right.

I will not portray sin (these God has declared sinful) as right or good.
            (Before we dive in let me clarify this: I mean larger issues, I don’t mean clean or unclean foods, fabrics to wear, etc. I mean the bigger things. I will offer a few examples later so you understand the subject.)

I see many authors writing about topics that don’t align with what God and His word says. Please note, though, that I’m not bashing these authors or hating on people who hold a different stance. I am simply seeing things in storytelling I don’t agree with. I must write truth, and that will probably be controversial for many people. I don’t mind. My stories aren’t for everybody. But I want to write these stories the way God would have me write them, even if they might include an approach that a lot of people don’t like. Writing for God will likely do that.


Among the things common in stories today is sexual sin. It seems to be a big element in many stories in YA (that I’ve seen. I understand that this is my own opinion and that this is not a hard fact). Sex out of wedlock, homosexuality, and other sexual sins are things I will not condone in my writing. For the latter, I will likely not have any homosexuality at all in my stories, as I do not believe it to be a lifestyle God is pleased by, and I am not comfortable including it. Instead, romantic stories of mine will be between a man and woman. Male and female.

As for sex out of wedlock… I can’t say for sure there wouldn’t be any. My characters are as flawed as I am, ladies and gentlemen. I have characters that have and would commit this sin. But this doesn’t mean I approve. I don’t. If a character of mine, villain or hero, behaves thus, I hope I will be writing it in a manner that informs the reader that this behavior is wrong. Both will have to face the consequences of their sin, and either they will ask forgiveness (which is good), or they won’t (which is not good).

This doesn’t mean I’m not showing any gestures of love ever. I will write kisses, or affectionate gestures (that are not crude). There may be stories where two characters do have sex, but doors will close. It might be implied, but I won’t write it. Love is a real thing, so is sex. But sex is something I personally don’t think needs to be shown “on-screen.”

Another example would be wanton killing. Killing the bad guys, killing for the greater good, etc. I do think there is a time and place for it (in self-defense, defense of others), but it should be a last resort, which the attacker is not stopping, and has been warned. In stories, sometimes killing is seen maybe not as good, but “normal,” without consequences. There are consequences. Killing someone changes you (though I don’t know this from experience, mind!), and I doubt it’s for the better. So though the intentions may be good, it shouldn’t be a “normal” thing. I have MCs who kill. My assassin is one (as the title implies). In Empire of Blood and Shadow, he admits it changes a person. He admits it’s changed him. I also don’t condone his behavior. I love the character, but I don’t approve of his lifestyle.

Also, I should say that I am certainly not perfect in this area. I’m sure there are times when I fail to apply this thinking to my stories. If I do, I hope someone will remind me, and I can make appropriate edits.

However, this does not mean that my characters will be without sin. My characters will be sinful little beans.  My heroes will sin, my villains will definitely sin. But, like I discussed earlier, it’s how I write the sin. If my heroes sin, they may ask forgiveness/be forgiven (depending on where they are in their arc), and/or they will discover the consequences, which likely won’t be good ones. It’s the same idea for my villains, although most likely they won’t recognize their sin. Either they’ll be redeemed (sometimes they are, which is something I love to see!). But the sin won’t be praised (or if it is, it’s very clear that this is a bad thing the characters are praising).

So I’m not saying I ignore the sin. Sin is a very real thing in the world, and so it’s bound to be a part of my stories (as I’m sinful too). My stories aren’t going to be happy 24/7. Life’s gonna suck for the characters sometimes. There may be a lot of violence, too. Characters will die, or break a bone, or be tortured. Sometime my characters will do things they’ll regret later. But this is honest storytelling.

But it also means that I get to show hope.


HOPE
As I’d mentioned back at the start of this post, I hope that my writing will show hope to readers. I want to glorify God, and one of the ways I can do it is by communicating hope. Healing and forgiveness, just as God offers to His children.

I believe in happy endings. In “happily ever afters.” God has one planned for us. It’s why He sent His Son to die for us. He set the stage for the happily ever after to come. So I believe those kinds of things exist, even on a smaller scale. They reflect what’s to come. True love, happy endings (which aren’t really happy endings, but, like OUAT described it, a “happy beginning”).

And also the Doctor. He speaks wisdom too.

I write about family, and how important family is. The people you befriend and meet along the way can be as much your family as the people who share the same roof as you do (the people you’re related to). They’re so, so important. My stories show that. I write it unconsciously, even. It just pops up, and I think it’s beautiful.

I’ve been incredibly blessed with a loving, connected family, both in my home, and my church family. I know I’ve been incredibly blessed, far more than I deserve. I think part of the reason for why I write is for the people who haven’t been so blessed. For the readers who are hurting. I want to show that there is hope, even for the sorriest of states. There can be a happy ending there too, God willing. God is the source of that hope. He is where hope and love and forgiveness and healing can be found. For example, in my WIP novel, Empire of Blood and Shadow, there’s plenty of that to be found. Gabriel, Lilly, Mordir, and Hakor are some of the characters who experience healing and hope. They all make big mistakes that nearly cost them their lives or the lives of others, but they find forgiveness. Gabriel and Lilly find a family again. EOBAS, I hope, will communicate how important family is to readers, how they can be so much support and a source of love and healing.

I want to write happy endings (I might have another post on that some other time). They’re crucial, and they offer a reflection of the happy ending with God to come. :3 Because today’s world isn’t the end. Darkness isn’t the end. God’s got something much bigger planned. So why not step into His light and His hope and join Him? That is what I want to convey. Even if I don’t directly mention God, even if my characters don’t mention God. I want my words to spark curiosity, somehow, I hope. I want to show the world hope in God and in His Son. And I want to do it honestly and truthfully.

I glorify God with the truths I tell.

That is why I write.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Book Review: Where the Woods Grow Wild (Nate Philbrick)


The woods are no place to be wandering alone. But when Martin loses his hand to something in the woods, he and his best friend Elodie are plunged into a world among the trees he didn’t realize was there.

I really enjoyed this book. It has the whimsy of, like… Alice in Wonderland and Narnia, maybe? Martin and Elodie step into a world mere yards (give or take?) from their normal lives. The plot takes us through Martin’s and Elodie’s attempts to find each other after being separated, and the incidents that come along with it. The characters are taken all over the forest, and things seem to just get worse instead of better, thus rising tension and a feeling that time is running out.

The worldbuilding was really neat. The wood is its own world, apart from Bardun Village where Martin and Elodie come from. It has its own array of flora and fauna, and you have to be careful where you go. It’s not a place to be taken lightly, and it has its own lore about a mysterious and powerful shape-shifter called Nayadu, who is feared by the inhabitants of the woods.

There isn’t really a specific antagonist (none I can mention without being spoilery, anyway), but there were plenty of things to get in the way of the characters. The king of the dryads was a bit crazy, and has a bit of magic that made him a little intimidating too. There was also the difficulty of Martin’s search for Elodie, and always seeming to be one step behind her. And there’s also the problem of his maimed arm… ;)

Speaking of, I liked Martin’s arc. It was simple, and didn’t manifest itself often, but his struggles grew as his problems grew, until it, like his problems, kind of… overcame him. It all snowballs until he’s not able to handle it well, which is where Elodie comes into play. She doesn’t really have an arc (that I’m aware of), but she’s more a grounding point for Martin, which is something he desperately needs after his world is violently shaken up. The pair of them are still so young and innocent, but they need each other. :3 I liked seeing their relationship and how it changes with them.

The cast of characters are colorful and charming in their own ways, with a vast array of personalities and quirks that make them so fun to read. And it was interesting, that they all seemed to change in little ways, even if they didn’t have much of an arc. Martin and Elodie touched the lives of many. ;)

Also, I hadn’t noticed it when I beta read WTWGW, but when I reread it now and knew in advance about the plot twists, I found a really feelsy parallel between two of the characters and their development (I won’t say who, because spoilers. You’ll have to find out!), and I really liked that. :3

All of the characters were charming and fun and colorful, but, I think, I’ll always have a soft spot for Bramble. XD He took my heart the second he hit the page the first time I read this book, and rereading now refreshed my life for this furry creature who speaks in third person. X3

That is all. XD

****

Violence/gore: There is some violence, but it’s not very unsettling. There are fight scenes with certain nasty creatures that get a little bloody, but it and any wounds aren’t detailed.

Profanity: None.

Sexual content: None.

Other: Nothing else that I can think of… Elodie tells a fib or two in Bardun Village to get Martin away from work for a while, and steals a ring from the Mayor’s house, but otherwise, nothing of much note.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Book Review: Princess of Undersea (Leslie Conzatti)


Ylaine is a mermaid with a gorgeous singing voice, who, instead of helping her father manipulate the merfolk in a mess of politics, wants nothing more than to see the land people, maybe even walk among them. This dream is fueled more after she rescues a human boy from drowning. And, with a potion from her guardian, she’s given the chance to find him.

Guys, this was a kind of adorable story. I loved the charm and fairytale quality to it, and the twists Leslie put into it to make it a retelling. The worldbuilding and history behind the story is part of what guides the fathers of Ylaine and Nathan. Ylaine’s father wants war against the humans, and the fairies, who were once friends to the merfolk, were banished by Nathan’s father. So it’s kind of a complicated mess of stuff between them, whether or not both sides really know all of the details.

The plot was charming. It followed the general Little Mermaid tail (haha, you see what I did there? I made a pun), and it kept moving steadily, giving me things to root for (Ylaine’s only got a few days to find the boy she rescued) and throwing plot twists at me that I then need to reorient myself around (in a good way ;) ).

I did not expect the villain to be who she was. Honestly that was one of my favorite parts. XD The villainess was clever and sly, and surprisingly vicious in contrast to the motherly facade we see. She showed a sudden display of violence and it startled me, guys. That is how unexpected that was for me. XD But I liked that, and I liked her scheming and manipulation. She made for a good antagonist.

I was a little disappointed by the ending, in that I felt it had a few loose ends to tie up still, and I really wanted to see that closure. It sounds like Leslie will reveal that closure I wanted after a certain number of reviews. So if nothing else, read the book and write a review so I know what happens! XD

Our “main” main character, Ylaine, is a sweetheart. She loves her father, but his restrictions frustrate her, and it causes tension between them. In a way, her desire to walk among the land people comes also from wanting to help her father: if she can prove they’re friendly, they don’t have to go to war.

Our other character, Nathan, is a young man who is struggling between clinging to his boyhood years of fun and play and the stage of his life where he must begin taking responsibility and prepare to take the throne after his father. His mentor is a source of wisdom, and with the help of Ylaine, is able to get Nathan started in the right direction.

At least until the villainess’ own plans come into play. That’s when things get complicated, and Ylaine only has so much time to do something.

*****

Violence/gore: Nothing extremely violent or described in detail, I don’t think. When Ylaine’s potion begins to wear off, her human skin peels away/flakes off, which may be unsettling to some.

Profanity: None.

Sexual content: Nothing really. There may be a vague reference to a woman’s breasts (though I could be wrong) when Ylaine is looking at a human’s depiction of a mermaid.

Other: Nothing major I can think of. The villainess dabbles in magic, with potions and such.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Writerly Facts About Me!


Images found via Pinterest.


If you know me via the internets, you likely know that I write (if you don’t, fear not, I’m not scary). But if you know me in real life, you may know I write, but not the details. And even if you know me over the internet, you may also not know many details.

Originally this was gonna be a tag I snitched from Cait’s blog http://paperfury.com/the-writers-tag/, but as I was writing it, I thought it would be more fun to add more categories to show you all more about me/my writing. ^_^ Also, feel free to comment below and talk to me/ask questions! I’d love to talk to you, and I don’t bite. ;)

Still here? Bless your heart. Here we go!

Why I write
Firstly, to glorify God. I want my stories to honor him. That may mean my stories will have direct/indirect references to God or His Son (like the Chronicles of Narnia). Or they may not. And I think that’s okay. Even if my characters don’t mention God, that doesn’t mean I can’t still glorify Him in what I write. How I approach subjects that appear in my stories is the key. My stories won’t condone sin. Now that doesn’t mean my heroes are perfect. They'll screw up as much as I do sometimes. Sometimes way worse than I could imagine (I have character who are downright wicked). But the point is, whether the sin is in my heroes or my villains, that it is not viewed as being approved of. No world, real or fictional, is perfect (it wouldn’t make much of a story if they were!), and sin isn’t exclusive to the villains. In my stories, whether heroes or villains sin, the sin does not go undisciplined. Heroes may find that their sin has put a friend in danger, or a villain’s sin is his downfall.

Instead, my stories show that the things God does approve of are the things that help the heroes. They are what my stories do condone. I don’t overpower the bad with the good. I give it a balance. Maybe some characters have more than the other, but that’s okay. It makes them real, and, I believe, brings glory to God when I portray what He approves of or doesn't approve of correctly. I bring Him glory by portraying sin as sin, and the things He approves of as things to be pursued.




And I simply love writing. I love the stories I find drifting in my head, waiting to be snatched up. I love the “film reels” that play out scenes of stories I’m excited to get to, or exploring the deeper inner workings of my characters. I love the magic of it, and being able to let others read it is something I look forward to (I don’t keep it hidden. Just very few people have read it and I’m just excited to see what others think too XD). I tend to express myself better in written words than I do spoken words, and it’s a nice feeling when the words come so smoothly.

What I write about (genres, themes, etc.)
Typically, I write fantasy in a variety of forms. Fantasy set on Earth, fantasy in another world. Like that. But as fantasy in other worlds tends to require a significant amount of worldbuilding, story ideas usually tend to be in the other category. ;) Though I do have a few fantasy worlds floating around I’m quite proud of.

I’ve also dabbled in other areas of speculative fiction, like dystopian and steampunk. I haven’t really tried many others, but I have a couple ideas for other genres I’d like to dip my toes into someday. :3

I don’t think I really have a main theme or topic I focus on. But a lot of the time, my stories will deal with family in some form or another, whether or not it’s a major theme. The family one is born into, or the family one creates through friendships. It’s a topic that’s important to me, and whether I purposely try to or not, it makes its way into my stories somehow. XD But I love it. I think forgiveness/redemption often makes its way into my books, though I can’t say for sure. XD Honestly theme is an aspect I don’t often focus on unless I’m purposely working a story around it. XD

My style of writing is… My style is… friendly/open? I’m not really sure, to be honest. It’s not heavy, but not too light, either. Hopefully I’m making sense. XD I haven’t had anyone comment on my style, so I don’t know. XD

Length of Writing Career
Ehh… early teens, I think (I’m 24 now)? Some of it was crossovers of my favorite cartoon shows, others were original stories I never finished. Most of the time I wrote on a computer (I still have those old docs!), and those were stories I never finished. I think I finished a total of one from that era (and it’s really, really bad XD). There was also a stage where I wrote almost exclusively on paper, mostly slice-of-life stories about a small family, and other short stories, as well as a few short chapter books. :3 Being so short, I finished those. My skill had improved between these two stages, but it was still pretty bad. Then I moved back into writing on the computer in my later high school years.

That’s when the writing got extensive, and I wrote a ton. I had a separate computer for the curriculum we used for school (I and my siblings were homeschooled), and so I had nearly unlimited access to it (to a point where I was told to pull back a bit and limit the writing time XD). And boy, did I take advantage of it! I had several docs of stories, and this time, I finished a lot of those!

Not that any of these stories will see the light of day, but they’re finished. XD

Old Writing VS. “New” Writing
Basically: what my writing was compared to what it is now. XD

Are you all ready for this? Because I’m not. XD

This snippet is from a story I started eleven years ago this May. I was a wee child at the tender age of thirteen, and my writing skills were… well, you’ll see. Please, please do remember that this excerpt is unedited, from eleven years ago. XD I’ve left it untouched, and only adjusted the paragraphs as close to what I think I intended back then (I was for some reason into using a whopping 28 font size, so shrinking it down skewed the paragraphs a bit). This excerpt is from the first chapter of an unfinished story titled The Girl Who Wished for a Horse. Way back, this was the story I started writing with the intent to publish.


“Calm down Dana, you’re ruining your braids,” Mother laughed has her daughter wriggled underneath her.
“I can’t help it Mother, tomorrow’s my birthday, and I’m going to get a horse!” Dana said, she was turning 12 and she just knew that she was going to get a horse.
“Now Dana, you don’t know that, just wait and see, if you don’t, then just be content with what you do get,” Mother said, although she knew her daughter was going to have her wish come true, it was a cool autumn’s night, and Mother was getting Dana ready for tomorrow, Dana had a shower that night, and she wanted her friends and family to come. Dana lived on a Dairy farm, the Dairy farm only had one horse, a very old horse, Dana was never allowed to ride it.
“Of course Mother, but I’ve always wished for a horse ever since I was five,” Dana said with a sigh, “Mother, can you please read me the story about the talking animals, please?” Dana begged.
“Again? Darling we’ve already read it 20 times this week,” Mother said with a smile.
“Pleease?” Dana begged again.
“Alright, I guess it wouldn’t hurt,” Dana’s mother said with a laugh, “Then it’s off to bed with you,” Mother said as she slid into her rocking chair and Dana sat beside her mother.
“May I please stay up until father get’s home?” Dana asked her mother.
“Well,” Mother said thoughtfully.
“Please?” Dana said, she and her father knew that one of their cows was going to have a baby.
It was common that one of their cows had a baby, Dana loved watching it be born into the world, and Dana had this special talent to name a calf five minutes after it was born, she did that so often that her friends asked her to name their kittens, puppies, whatever animal it may be, after it was born. And so all the animals in the entire county had been named by Dana. That’s how Dana earned the nickname ‘The Queen Of Animal Names’.


Anybody still here? You are? Bless.

Now, this excerpt is much, MUCH better. This comes from the prologue of my current novel, Empire of Blood and Shadow (already you can see how I’ve changed!). I’m currently editing this new first draft (it’s gone through several versions of first drafts, so technically it’s not a first draft, but whatever). I started the story a few years ago and it’s finally evolved into this glorious, ridiculously long epic. XD


“Tilas?”
Seiryu’s voice made Tilas Ennan jolt, his knee jarring against the corner of the desk in the dark study as he turned quickly. Seiryu squinted to read his friend’s face, but it was too dark. His schooled his voice to be careful, cautious. “What are you doing?” Maybe what he had just seen was a misunderstanding. There was a good explanation for it.
Tilas didn’t answer for a half minute, as if debating within himself. But then he spoke, his tone bold as ever, even though now it seemed less certain than usual. “When were you going to tell me?”
Seiryu frowned. This wasn’t the direction he had hoped this conversation would go in. He shifted some of his weight off his left leg and flicked his eyes to the chandelier above them. It flared to life, pouring light down upon them both. Tilas flinched and blinked, squinting.
“Tell you what?” Seiryu asked, relaxing now that he could see his friend. He stood behind Seiryu’s desk. Seiryu noted the papers there had been rifled through. Oh, Tilas…
Tilas’ features hardened as he lifted the small, circular amulet into view. The thing turned lazily on its chain, the tiny jagged teeth of glass, left over from when the creator had smashed it, glinted in the light.
Seiryu almost laughed, forcing his voice to be light while he hurried to prepare his words. “I’ve told you about that thing, Tilas. What more is there?”
Tilas wasted no time diving in. “How about that when it takes dark magic, it kills the host?”
Seiryu paused. How had he found out? Seiryu had been so careful.
“Or how about this.” Tilas’ voice went quiet, hurt and betrayal rising in it. Seiryu felt a twinge of guilt when Tilas finished, “You planned to use it on me.”


Honestly, I thank God for the improvement He’s blessed me with. For all of the writing opportunities He’s given me, and all the writing friends. :3

Preferred POV Style
I usually write in 3rd person, past tense. I’ve tried first person once or twice, but I don’t think I’ve ever finished any stories in that style. Third-past is my default. ^_^

Male or Female MC
Mm, kind of both, I think. But I also think I tend to have more ideas for stories with a guy MC. I dunno why. XD I do have some stories with a female MC (EOBAS, for example), but the stories I have ideas for often have a male MC. XD But I’m good with either one. It just depends on the story. ^_^

Amount of POVs
Now, this one’s a bit harder… I think it’s usually just one, but with brief POVs (point of view) from supporting characters sprinkled in. EOBAS has two main POVs, but I think for the most part it’s just one, with a supporting character or two (or even the villain) sprinkled in to offer perspective away from the MC’s view.

Length of Writing Sessions
This depends. Usually I like to try to get in at least an hour in the morning. After that, I may writing more in the afternoon, but how long varies. So at the very least, an hour. ;)

Usual Time to Write
I’ve found I get my best writing done early in the morning, before I get started with my day. That way, I’ll have done my writing, and while I’m free to write more later, I don’t feel like I must, which allows me to do other things that need doing. And in the morning I’m able to pace myself.

Aspects of Writing I Love VS. Aspects I Hate
PARTS I LOVE
The characters. I love creating them and getting to know them, understanding what they do and why, or what they love, what they dream of or fear, and how they interact with others. They come alive to me, and often they become a part of me. And sometimes I’ll find a part of myself in them without having meant to put myself in them (usually it’s just little traits or habits). Or, on rare occasions, I even learn from them myself.

PARTS I HATE
Two words.

Plot. Holes.

I swear, they are my bane. Holes so big they make the surrounding territory crumble and I have to start over, or drastically change things. It’s awful, and I hate it. I hate the frustration that can come with it. Sometimes there are tears.

It’s not pretty.

 

That said, it’s also a wonderful feeling of relief when I fix them. :3

Music Listened To
This depends on what I'm in the mood for. Currently, it's been varying, but while I wrote this draft, I've been listening to Jonathan Young on Spotify. Another draft, I listened to Peter Hollens. Now, it just kind of depends on my mood.

Snacks Consumed
Again, it depends. Usually nothing, but if there's something sweet around, I'll probably grab it. XD Drinks also depend on what I'm in the mood for/what's available.

Overcoming Writer’s Block
Usually, I’ll rant to a friend. Or at least, I’ll ramble on and on and they’ll just listen and nod. ;) If I talk it out like that, sometimes I can work it out. Or I’ll beg a friend for help.

Projects I Plan to Publish
God willing, I have a few I’d like to publish, both traditionally and through self-publishing. Empire of Blood and Shadow will be self-published (and likely any stories related to the world), and I’d like to self-publish a Christian fantasy novella called Here I Stand.

For traditional publishing, I have a steampunk murder mystery story with a dash of feels, Clockwork Apprentice, and a Peter Pan/Alice in Wonderland crossover (which I’m really proud of, not gonna lie) titled Straight on to Wonderland (working title, but hey XD).

So I’ve got a few novels planned for the public. B)

Writing Elsewhere
I have a few stories “published” elsewhere, on the internet. On Wattpad, I have two fantasy stories,  The Empire Thief, and its sequel, Thief of Promises. Also on Wattpad and here on the blog I have the serial story Fence Jumpers. You can find links to those in the “My Writing” tab above. :D

Current Projects/Goals for the Year
Right now, I’m focusing on editing EOBAS. I would like to get it all the way to the beta reader stage, but I’m not holding myself to it (as I haven’t even reached alpha reader stage), but I would like to at least get close to that stage. I also plan to work more on Thief of Promises, and likely finish it this year.

So that about covers it! :D Feel free to comment below! Ask me things! I’d love you talk to you!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Book Review: Egnitheos (Nicole Kasprzynski)



Alastair just wants to see his mother again. When she disappears, he waits anxiously for her to fulfill her promise to come back for him. While living surrounded by a culture of false gods and idols, Alastair encounters a God that towers above any idol of stone or metal, and it changes his life forever. More often than not in ways even Alastair isn’t sure he’s ready for.

The plot moves steadily, following Alastair’s journey as he searches for his mother. It expands greatly, and he instead finds fellow men and women who help him grow in his newfound faith. But even this hidden place of worship of the true God is overshadowed by threat, one that also holds the strings to Alastair’s own quest. Egnitheos is a journey of faith, forgiveness, and overcoming fears when strengthened by God. The themes are woven into scenes that vary between being fast-paced/intense and scenes that are a little slower in pace, but either side of the coin carries the force of the message well. While a couple scenes felt a little disjointed coupled together, they both carry a similar message, and they do it well. There’s a good balance of action to keep the characters on their toes, and readers turning pages, while also pauses to recover and time to reflect.

The description in the book shows off the world beautifully as we follow Alastair through it. The settings are beautiful and diverse, with their own cultures within them, such as Polish elves who live on an island and dark-skinned shapeshifters who hail from the desert. The narrative also appeals to the senses, describing smells, the feel of things, or the sounds. It makes the world come alive in the mind’s eye when it touches on the basic senses.

While Egnitheos is a story in which we follow Alastair’s journey to find his mother, it’s also a story in which we follow his spiritual journey, and the growth there. His arc isn’t an instant change. Instead, it’s realistic and gradual. Alastair comes from a priestly family that worships false gods, and he’s been a part of that for twelve years, despite his mother’s teachings that counter that of the family. He’s been brought up in that culture, and so he struggles to move away from that perspective. It was good to see it as a learning experience for him, instead of him up and changing his ways instantly. Like anyone in similar situations to his, Alastair had to grow into his new faith and adjust. His arc is one many readers could relate to, perhaps, making him feel more real.

Another thing about Alastair that I liked is that he’s a little shy and timid. It’s evident right away, but a little part of that stays with him even as he progresses through his arc. Sometimes he doesn’t feel confident at all. But he does what needs doing anyway. He doesn’t have to be outgoing and bold to carry the story. His strength in the face of his biggest fears carries us along in the story as he meets each challenge. Even when he’s not 100% confident, he often chooses to act without thinking of the cost to himself, or when he’s aware of the high risk of fear involved.

The villains are also well done. Jaegar, the presiding “alpha” villain, is essentially a representation of Satan, and as such, he’s very twisted and manipulative, but also dark and intimidating. He doesn’t have to do anything. Being in the room brings enough fear and darkness.

Another villain, Simperer, is also well written. He’s a peculiar man, with quirks that seem to make his sadistic torture all the more twisted. While he is under Jaegar’s influence, he’s evil in his own right, too, and that makes him even more dangerous. But on the flip side, we hear little snatches of another side of him that can make us think… I’ll let you figure that out. ;)

Other characters have their own smaller arcs. Tinsley and Lajh have arcs in forgiveness, on different levels. While theirs aren’t as vast as Alastair’s, they are no less important or powerful. They add to the weave of themes and growth the cast undergo, as well as facing their own fears. It’s interesting how while they and Alastair seem to have their own areas of growth, they also share each other’s too in some ways.

One of my favorite elements of Egnitheos (if the above hadn’t already clued you in on how much I enjoyed the book ;) ) is how diverse and colorful the cast of characters are. They come from all walks of life and all cultures, and one way that’s shown is through their voice, the accents they speak, like Breindel or Tinsley. It adds vibrancy and color to their personalities. All of the characters come from many different walks of life, too, and their own cultures and habits lend to their personalities, and make them more real to readers.

But also, in general, their personalities are just so vast from each other, you often don’t get the same personality twice. Alastair is a little timid, but can be determined. Lajh (one of my favorites) is a cocky flirt. Steffen and his son Ziven may be slightly similar, but Ziven has more passion than his father. Bri is soft-spoken but spunky. And Tinsley… well, she’s a wild, dangerous personality with an innocent, childlike charm all her own. ;)

And, without, spoiling (heaven forbid I spoil this book for anyone), I’ll also add that the climax is a beautiful display of good vs. evil, and a powerful moment of Alastair’s arc.

And that is all I will say. ;)

*****

Violence/gore: There is a fair amount of violence, and blood, but it’s not described in close detail. Torture scenes are present later in the book (for any who may feel uneasy about that kind of thing).

Profanity: Only referenced swearing.

Sexual content: None, really. A few characters share simple kisses.

Other: Wine is drunk. Demons, or Vrag, make up the majority of antagonists that Alastair encounters, so we see them appear and attempt to stop Alastair. There’s also a sorcerer or two who can summon up the Vrag (not including Jaegar, who is a Vrag himself), and have darker, more sinister powers.