About Me

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Soup, and a Contest

I found this article for making different soups. I've only tried the Chicken, Leek and Potato Soup so far, with a few variations (such as adding carrots, and, today, rotini pasta noodles), and it's really good! I love soup on a chilly or downright cold day, and we're going to be having a lot of those for the next several months.

The contest is not held by myself, but by K. M. Weiland, who is trying to get publicity for her book 'Outlining your Novel; Map your Way to Success'.
If you buy her book (either Kindle or paperback), and email her the receipt, she will enter you into a contest to win either a Kindle (first prize) ten books on the craft of writing (second prize), and several other prizes, as well as an hourly drawing for an MP3 recording of one of her writer's craft books (this drawing doesn't affect your chances of winning the big prizes). You can visit her website here. And hurry, the drawing ends on Friday!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Waiting for Morning- A Book Review

Waiting For Morning
Karen Kingsbury

So, I want to say that first off this was the first book that caught my attention on the Blogging for Books list of books available for review. It seemed like all the others were either romance (which I can't stand) or else modern devotional books (which I have very little interest in, as a rule). Drunkeness angers me greatly, as I've heard too many stories of what happens when someone gets drunk. So, I was kind of interested in this book. It might not have been one I'd have spent money on, but it was one that had an interesting premise. And it was interesting!
It follows the basic formula of happy family suddenly torn apart by tragedy; anger against God by the main character; a little bit of silly 'romance'; and a happy conclusion. However, Karen Kingsbury is a good writer, and in the pages of this book she packs a lot of tense excitement and emotions. I did feel a few things were theologically shaky, but those things were few and far between. An example of this was when one character tells another character who has walked away from God that God loves her. My response to this would be, "How do you know that God loves this person, if they are showing absolutely no sign of truly being saved?"
But the basic messages in 'Waiting for Morning' are excellent. Christians do suffer, and they suffer terribly at times. Being a Christian is not being 'carried through the skies on flowery beds of ease'. It's a battle, and often times a very long and painful struggle.
At times, the book got a little too much for me, however. I found it hard that a woman like Hannah would completely turn her back on God and deny that He existed. But the last fourth of the book kind of convinced me a bit that it's possible, but that God will always bring His children back, using whatever it takes.
Actually, the last few chapters were the best, but the whole book was good. I could really feel for Hannah and her daughter Jenny, and even for Brian Wesley. I liked Mrs. Cummins a lot.
This book is very good in showing how the legal system works, and I enjoyed that. My heart sank every time there was a delay in bringing the case to trial. I liked how it showed the defense attorney, Mr. Finch, to be a dishonest sleezeball, knowing that his client is guilty but still trying to get him the very lightest sentence possible.
I also very much appreciated that, although forgiveness was emphasized, so was justice. The district attorney is a Christian, and when someone tells him that it doesn't sound very Christian to want to get someone a first degree murder charge, he responds, "My obligation to forgive doesn't erase my obligation to provide punishment. Without rules and penalties, this country would have fallen apart decades ago. I like to think that my job is actually quite Christian."
So, all in all, this was a very good book, which I give four stars out of five. I would love to read the next two books in the series, if at all possible.

I received this book for free through WaterbrookMultnomah's Blogging for Books program, and was not required to give a favorable review.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Eager Peasantry

The Eager Peasantry

In a whole lot of fantasy, you will see a prince or a nobleman saying a few words, and rallying all the peasants and merchants under his banner in a few minutes. These commoners will leave behind crops, families, homes, and livelihoods and march off to death, but, for what? These are people who often live in small villages, far away from the grand palaces and castles, and live quiet, honest lives. If a nobleman suddenly popped up from nowhere and said,
"Hey, everyone, the throne has been usurped by an evil sorcerer, and the king is in the dungeons. Let's go free him and restore the crown to the rightful man!"
Do you think they would all drop their plows, grab a pitchfork, and go? I don't think that's realistic. Here's an example from Red Sea Rising of a very different sort of peasantry. Berwyn is the son of a nobleman, Korenthel is a former servant of Berwyn's father, and Marthos is the villain.

///Berwyn soon learned that the work on a farm was extremely hard; his muscles ached at first, unused to the labor, but after a while he became accustomed to it.
However, it was even more difficult to get anyone to pledge their support to an army that had less than fifty men, few weapons, and a leader that was only sixteen years old.
Berwyn and Korenthel tried to persuade the farmers and villagers of Marthos' treachery, but they only said,
"He won't worry us. We are small and hidden, and are no threat to him."
Berwyn quickly became frustrated.
"If these people were truly subjects of their rightful king, they would rise in arms at once. We would have to restrain them from attacking the palace, instead of pushing them to think about joining us."
"Sir," said Korenthel. "That may be, but they're simple men: farmers, bakers. They see us, six men on the run from Marthos ourselves. Yes, we tell them we have a few others elsewhere, but they don't see them. And fifteen or twenty is not a most inspiring number, is it?"
"But we will never have more, if they only look at our small number now, and say it is hopeless even to try!"
"We must persuade them. They are loyal to the king, as far as that goes. It would take threats from Marthos to turn them against us, but they are not soldiers, they do not think in terms of bravery, or courage. They measure a man by how large his farm is, or how fair he is in his dealings."
"You seem to know a great deal about them," said Berwyn.
"You forget, sir, that I've lived and worked with them for years. I almost consider myself a farmer."
Berwyn sighed.
"Then what are we going to do? If we cannot convince them, then we might as well give up the endeavor."
"Nay, sir! Have you nothing of your father in you? I told you that it might take a long time before we are ready to challenge Marthos, but great things take time and work. We cannot expect farming men to drop their plows, leave their families, and go to their deaths all in a moment, simply because we told them they should, can we?"
"No," said Berwyn. "I suppose not."\\\

The people of this village are not so ready to listen! And I think this is much more realistic, as well. Berwyn, as a nobleman, really does expect them to drop everything. He knows the king, he knows the prince, and his own father was murdered, so it is easy for him to feel the importance of it; but the farmers probably know very little about the royal family or Marthos, and perhaps do not even believe Berwyn or Korenthel. They are, above all, very practical; why should they die for some nobleman whom they don't even know?
So, does anyone have any other ideas of how to write common people so that they don't seem like automatons that will just do whatever the 'good guys' say?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Rant-On Princesses

Okay, before you read this, know that I am not sympathetic in any way with how most princesses in fantasy are written. There, you've been warned :)
So, there's all these princesses in fantasy who wear pants, can fight better than their brothers, don't care about being ladylike, and ride their horses astride. All the men in the story are against it, of course, but the princess (or noblewoman, or peasant girl) shows them. What this rant is all about is this: in a culture where the women are brought up to be ladylike, to wear dresses, and to ride sidesaddle, there is always, and I repeat, always a rebellious girl who goes against everything she's (apparently) been taught, for no reason at all. And this rebellious girl is the heroine of the story.
If she had truly been taught by her parents that acting ladylike is the right thing to do, then why in heaven's name does she go against all her upbringing and start wearing pants. I can tell you for a fact, as a girl who was raised wearing dresses and skirts, that I've always felt uncomfortable even thinking about wearing pants. It's something that I know I would feel terribly awkward and wrong in. And that's in a society where it's the norm for women to wear pants. Yet these princesses can run around in pants and ride like a man without feeling even the least bit uncomfortable, and her parents let her do it. Of course, they reprimand her, but they would never dare tell her to stop doing it! If they even think about telling her to wear a dress, you get a pouty faced, rebellious girl who stomps off, slams her door, and sulks.
Apparently, people (even Christians, like L. B. Graham) don't realize that they are imposing their idea of what is normal into a story whose society's norm is the exact opposite.
So, do I think that girls have no place in a fantasy story? Absolutely not! But I believe that their role is far different from a man's role. And the fantasy stories that have totally hot, tough, rebellious princesses really turn me off. Maybe it's just the way I was raised, but I see a great deal of beauty in a tale of a man going off to war and fighting courageously, while I see a woman going off to war and fighting courageously very differently: I find it ugly.
Obviously, our society today is accepting of women in the military, doing whatever a man does. Only problem is: they can't! Women are built differently, and their strength is less than a man's in certain ways. I'm not stronger than my brother, who is two years younger than me, and I know it.
Some ideas for women playing a role, yet not being little feminists:
1. Have a woman defend her children and home while her husband is at war (I did something similar to this once, in which a woman whose husband was dead and her son wounded took a frying pan and knocked a soldier over the head with it).
2. Have her be a spy. This is quite easily done. A woman (especially an unmarried one) can go places that a man could not in a time of war. She could ingratiate herself with soldiers (not in an improper way, of course) and learn valuable information.
3. Have her be, simply, a wife. The moral support she gives her husband, even when she herself is afraid, is something invaluable to him. It is a courage all of its own to bear fear and uncertainty alone, while encouraging a husband not to be afraid and to do what is right.
4. Of course, there's always the option (which probably wouldn't be received very well) of showing the rebellious, feministic girl to be just that. She could think she's totally awesome, and in the end, be shown the error of her ways (without exactly stating it, of course). I've thought of doing that before.
I've always loved stories where a brother protects his sister. I don't know; there's just something about that, in today's world where siblings seem to be at enmity with each other most of the time. A brother giving his life for his sister. It's just as sweet as a man giving his life for his true love, and maybe even better. In fact, that's my favorite relationship to write about. But that's off topic *turns post around and heads back to where she detoured*. There.
My parents have always taught my sisters and me to be ladylike, but my dad says, "I'm not raising you to be sissies." What he means by that is to have moral courage, the bravery to stand up against error. I love reading stories of women who were martyred for their faith in Christ. A woman can be just as brave (or even braver, at times) than a man when facing persecution.
A woman does not have to 'prove herself' by acting like a man. The courage she displays can be a much different kind: quieter, more internal. Perhaps only a few people know about it. As Aragorn said, "There may come a time for great deeds without renown."
Not only that, but when women start acting like men, then men stop treating them like women. Gentlemanly conduct is greatly reduced when men and women are barely distinguishable in their actions and dress. And that's a really lamentable thing, if you think about it.
Let's stop acting like embroidery and ladylike behavior and long, modest dresses are contemptible things. Not only is it wrong, but it's just tired and boring by now. We are Christian authors. Let's do what we're always saying we do and 'think outside the box', or, to use a better term: 'think inside the Bible'. We don't have to let society or culture dictate how we portray women.
Note: This is not aimed at anyone in particular, but just to fantasy writers as a whole who do this sort of thing :)
A/N: I had been going to write a post entitled 'The Eager Peasantry', but will save that for my next post. Until then, I'll leave ya'll to guess what it means :D

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The World of Heszeret-Alacta

So, I've finally come up with a name for the world I am developing! For the longest time, all I could say was 'my world'. Now it has a name, which of course you saw in the title of this blog post.
As explained a bit in The Legend of Time, Heszeret and Alacta are not two worlds, but two separate dimensions of the same world, which were created after a cataclysmic event.
Heszeret is the only part of the world that I have ever written about, chiefly because I hadn't thought of Alacta :)
Although a fantastic world, magic is not an essential part of Heszeret. For the most part, the inhabitants are human and dwarf, though there are talking animals. All magic in Heszeret is either granted or stolen, and is never something that one is born with.
In Alacta, on the other hand, magic is part of the fabric of the world, and many people/creatures are born with some trait or other of magic. I haven't thought enough on it, but there are definitely more diverse things in Alacta than in Heszeret. As you'll read in The Legend of Time, there is a way to travel between the dimensions. Perhaps more than one way...
Anyways, say a man from Heszeret finds the way to Alacta, and he decides to stay. In the first place, it would be very difficult, because the pull from his own place would be very strong. But, if he marries, the pull would be diminished, since now he would have ties in Alacta. However, whatever children he had would be inevitably drawn back to Heszeret. This is also true vice versa.
If anyone has any questions, I would be eager to hear them. I really want to develop Alacta; it's very young right now, and needs a lot of nurturing :)