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.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Book Review: Piercing the Darkness (Frank E. Peretti)









This “sequel” of sorts to This Present Darkness is set a while after the first book, in another town where the Strongman has a wide network of evil brewing all around it. Familiar angelic warriors return, like Tal and Guilo (huzzah!), but prayer cover is wearing thin as the demons turn Christians against each other.

The plot was a lot more intense in this book, with several different threads all branching out from the main town, where the conflict originates. With Tom’s struggle against people who would see his Christian school shut down, Sally’s flight from people who want her dead, Tal’s struggle to hold everything together, and Destroyer’s desire to fling everything into the brutal hands of the Strongman, the story webs all over, but everything still connects and makes it complex but intriguing to follow. It made the plot feel bigger, and like there was a lot more at stake.

I liked seeing the courtroom scenes, and how the arguments went. I felt immense satisfaction whenever the heroes seemed to offer up solid arguments, and I got frustrated when the villains would weave convincing lies. It was a tug-of-war, and, like a lot of the storylines weaving through this book, it ups the tension and adds just one more thing that’s on the line.

I do think the writing in book one was better than it is in book two, though. Piercing the Darkness seemed to have a few cheesy narrative moments, but it wasn’t constant or annoying. There were simply occasional times where the narrative felt off-kilter, but didn’t take from my enjoyment of reading.

Sally’s arc was really nice, too. She’s coming out of the beliefs everybody else is essentially fighting, and she slowly clears the fog within herself. I liked seeing her gradual change, and the angels protecting her along the way. The “climax” of her arc was really amazing, too (which is all I will say because I suspect I’m already pushing the limits into spoiler territory ;) ). But I liked how the way she views the world is also how she approaches Christianity as she explores it. She seemed very factual and practical about it, and it was nice to see her use that in most of her arc, instead of surrendering it right away. She’s cautious, but curious.

Speaking of angels: I was really happy to see Tal and Guilo again! They were my favorites in the first book, and it was awesome to read about them in this one. Guilo was probably my most favorite (likely for the same reasons I had for book one XD). I really loved seeing the strategies used on both sides of the spiritual realm. And I liked that Destroyer was strategic and calculating. It made the story’s tension rise when he seemed to know how Tal worked. He was more formidable that way, and made the angels work harder.

Amber. Oh, mercy, that child had a scene that freaked me out. Early on in the book we learn that Amber is “befriended” by some imaginary pony named Amethyst, but we soon see that this “friend” is a lot more twisted. The first time we see it manifest, it’s a little dark and foreboding (it even foreshadows another scene). It shows just how powerful and dangerous the villains are, and ups the tension by, like, a thousand.

****

Violence/gore: There are several fights that ensue between angels and demons, but there’s not really blood (as they’re spiritual beings). There is a murder, and the villains are hunting down Sally to kill her (occasionally they come pretty close. A group of Satanists threatens the church with crossed goat legs.

Profanity: If there was anything, it’s only referenced.

Sexual content: People accuse Tom of abusing the children in his school. Accusations in general are made against the human heroes in Bacon’s Corner in regards to sexual affairs or abuse.

Other: There is a group of Satanists in this book, and we see one of their rituals. Amber seems to be possessed, and we see a scene or two in which the demon manifests itself, which may be unsettling. Like book one, demon characters are seen wreaking havoc among Christians (whether through gossip, or physical harm).

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Author Interview: Nicole Kasprzynski

Hello wonderful people! I come today with a really fun thing for you. B3 My best friend Nicole’s book Egnitheos has published this week, and it’s a super fantastic book that you’ll all love if you like high fantasy or Christian fantasy. I was a beta reader for her way back, and I can say that it is fantastic.

So today I snagged my bestie to interview her in her debut week. B) After the interview, you can find what Egnitheos is all about. So, without further ado…


Tell us about yourself!
O boi are you sure you’re ready for this conversation

*ahem*

Hallo peoples! I’m Nicole Kasprzynski, and I like snakes. I was homeschooled for my entire K-12 career, and I’m currently studying media communications in college (media comm is just a fancy way of saying I’m gonna be a filmmaker). My favorite color is green, my favorite food is sushi, and I have a special fondness for characters with disabilities of some sort. I’m nineteen years old. As a writer I specialize in torture, poisons, and mental illnesses. I also love to draw, but I don’t often draw my characters, as they’re too close to me for me to be able to accurately portray them.

How long ago did you start writing? What made you start?
Oh, heavens. I’m pretty sure the first story I ever “wrote” (and finished) was a 16-page fanfiction of the Pixie Hollow books. I have a hardcover copy of it lying around somewhere. It was for a day camp, and I was overwhelmed at the thought of trying to create “real” characters within a day, so I just sort of borrowed the Pixie Hollow characters instead XD However, I have notebooks and things from as far back as eight or nine years old—maybe before, it’s been a while since I’ve picked them up—with snatches of stories and things in them. I’ve always liked writing, but film is my real passion. I struggle with the written word, since I’m a highly visual person and I just want to pick up a camera and show you what’s going on! I love reading, but writing is a different beast entirely. Attempting to convey what you see in your head into a clear picture on the page is a thousand times harder than it looks, and doesn’t pay nearly enough.

I started writing because I was an only child in a neighborhood full of seniors. What else was I supposed to do with my time XD

What gave you the idea for Egnitheos?
It’s actually a great story. Simperer came first (I was 11), but he didn’t have a story until much later. I got the idea for Egnitheos when I was 13. I was in Meijer with my mom, and we swung out of an aisle to head towards the milk aisle/bottle return area when this random redheaded worker dude walked into the back room with a box. He had a bushy red beard, and something about how he carried himself stuck in my brain. I didn’t have any paper with me at the moment (the one time I’d forgotten my notebook at home), so I kept repeating “Alastair Reudher, Alastair Reudher” over and over to myself. I’d imagined him as a small boy, 13—no beard yet—in a white outfit with blue jewels on the belt, in a sandy kind of exotic Indian city. There were walls around the city, like Jericho. When we got to the toilet paper aisle I’d decided the city was named New-Sindo, and the story just blossomed from there.

Who is your favorite character? Your least favorite?
Simperer is my favorite character hhh x3 I love him so much ack he’s so broken and twisted and HE DOESN’T EVEN REALIZE IT and it’s beautiful because all the readers will hate him and I just ehehehehehehe

My least favorite was Ryver. I hate Ryver.

We don’t talk about Ryver.

What do you do to get into the writing "zone"? Any snacks, drinks, habits, etc.?
Mmm, good question. My go-to was a six-hour Two Steps from Hell playlist and a bowl of Better Made Barbeque chips. I also tend to make faces/gestures at the screen to try and figure out how to describe an action.

Easiest part of writing this novel? The hardest?
The easiest part was honestly writing the torture scenes. Jaegar and Simperer are fun minds to get into, and watching them play off each other and their hostages was a lot of fun for me. The words just flowed. I originally had four chapters of torture (yeesh), but a girl screamed when alpha-reading… sooo… I decided that was too many. But yes. It was easy because it’s something I have a lot of knowledge on, and can write with relative shamelessness. Pain is also much easier for me to convey than love or sadness—there are sharper, smarter, and vivid…er (I have made a huge mistake) ways to describe pain than any other “thing” one feels. Happiness is fleeting, love is foolish, and sadness has no words, it just is.

The hardest part for me was definitely the Ekklesia scenes. They’re a lull, and I dislike lulls. Really anywhere we stop to take a breath I struggled, because I thrive on drama. Writing the mundane, even in a fantastical setting, was painful for me. I don’t care about what you ate or how long you slept, I want to know if you’re going to survive that stab wound or shipwreck.

What's something about your book (be it worldbuilding, characters, etc.) that you don't mention in the novel?
I don’t mention any of the science behind any of the things, which makes me sad because I know it all. XD Like with Jeshil-horn metabolism being linked symbiotically to the chlorophyll they harvest from the food they eat, to why Tinsley is sterile (it’s because she’s the genetic equivalent of a mule), to how dark elves regenerate. It’s very disappointing. I like biology, guys!

What's something that even you didn't see coming in it while you were writing?
SUCH SPOILER

MANY WOW

READ BOOK YOU SHOULD

Honestly all of the deaths were originally unplanned. Then I started thinking, and was like “…oh”.

Also how everything ends up with Jessana. I had no idea how that all was gonna go down. XD

What's a scene that made you cry? Laugh?
The opening of the torture scene makes me smile every time, just because Simperer is my baby and seeing him in his element like that is just cute/funny to me. I’m not sure anything made me cry. I don’t cry much.

WAIT I LIED yeah there was a part I sobbed over but that was mostly because I didn’t want it to happen >_>

Show us a (non-spoilery ;) ) snippet you adore!
Hmm….

Alastair turned his head. He almost bumped noses with a woman lying crosswise to him, her tattooed hands demurely folded beneath her pointed chin. Swathed from head to foot in a lustrous, deep purple, only the glint of her eyes and a thin strip of her tan cheeks could be seen between the widow’s peak of her raised hood and the opaque veil stretched across her nose and lips. Alastair sniffed. Her breath was the source of the pepperminty smell.
“Bad corpse,” the woman muttered, reaching over and shutting his eyes. “Nypozunski zvaloky.

The line “bad corpse” will forever be my favorite thing. XD

Are any characters based on real people, or even yourself?
They’re all a little bit of me, I’d be willing to wager. Except Breindel. That chick is too pure for this world. Jaegar especially is me—I usually define him to other people as “me if I knew there would be no consequences for my actions”. XD

Tinsley’s hallucination, the “green friend” she references, was actually based off my best friend at the time of writing the novel. I got permission from her to use the character, and a lot of the dialogue supposedly “said” by the green friend came directly from her.

In addition, Lajh was based off two of my friends before that… and Elijah Wood. I thought he was really cute when I was like fourteen okay XD But yeah. Alastair is King David, Moses, and me, Simperer wasn’t really anyone but then he became a dumping ground for all my angst, and Tinsley is just…. I don’t think she’s based on anyone either. XD Maybe my mom, a smidge. The original Anathame family has a flavor of my family in it, but not much.

Ryver has his roots in some people too, but I won’t say whom. >_>

What do you hope readers will take away from reading Egnitheos?
I hope they take away that you can be a Christian writer and deal with dark themes. You can be a Christian and write about pain, and sadness, and loss, because it’s what we deal with on a daily basis. Christians aren’t perfect. We’re far from it, and we need to stop acting like we are.

I also hope—just from a story perspective—that they pick up on how you shouldn’t be quick to judge without knowing more, you have nothing to fear with Christ on your side, and that Satan has no power over you unless you give it to him. There’s lots of other things, but I’ll let readers figure them out for themselves. ;)

And finally: What's a piece of advice you would give to aspiring authors, whether they're just starting out or they've been on this journey for a while?
A couple things: first, writing isn’t about creativity, sentence structure, or any of that crap. It’s about dedication. The only reason Egnitheos was done in two years was because I sat down and wrote every night, 6-10pm and later on Fridays, whether or not I felt like it. Sometimes I got two sentences down. Sometimes I got twenty-two pages. But you can’t edit what’s not there.

Second: if you want to write well, read well. And reading well is a loose term. If you write romance novels, read romance novels! Try to find classics as well as modern—it’ll round you out. You’ll learn proper sentence structure, grammar, and punctuation much more effectively from reading well than from anything an English textbook will teach you.

Finally: write what you love, and forget anyone who tries raining on your parade. You’re not writing for them. You’re writing for you, and you’re writing for God. Those’re the only two people who matter in the writing process. You can’t write to please everyone—that’s impossible—and if you try, in the end you won’t like what you’ve written. So go ahead. Be blunt. Heck, be graphic. Be cute or frilly or whatever it is that you want to convey. It’s like the text post says: “If u like sparkle, draw sparkle!” Sit down and write it that way. The one rule of writing is that there are no rules, so who cares? Just get it written.

Thanks so much for having me! <3 p="">



All he wants is to be reunited with his mother….
Years ago, Alastair Reudher’s mother fled from home, leaving nothing behind but her journal and a promise to return for him. He believes her, but as the years crawl on, his hope of her returning dwindles away….
That is, until he receives a letter signed with nothing but his mother’s initial. His world collapses: beliefs crumble, family divides, and he is left with nothing but the journal and a mysterious God to guide him.
Accompanied by a young girl he rescues from the city, a kindly centaur and a half-elf with a violent bent, Alastair sets out to find his mother. But with his own fears ever present and a demon pulling the strings, he can only pray for the strength to struggle onwards until he either sees her again, or dies trying.

Where you can find Egnitheos
Amazon (Paperback copies will be available soon!)

Where you can find Nicole: