Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Elements of the Story: Part 4 – The Importance of Plot

Merry Christmas Everyone!!! I hope you all enjoyed yourselves, and I wish you the best in the New Year, 2011!!! :D

As many of you know, I've been working on a series concerning the Elements of the Story. So far I've been through theme, characters, and some sort of world or setting to put the characters in. Today we're going to be talking about plot. I know, I know: shouldn't "Plot" have been written along with "Characters"? Well, maybe it should have. But when I was writing the entry for Characters, I wasn't quite ready to write one for plot. I think I'm more ready now.

To start off, let's go back and look at what we discussed earlier in the "Characters" entry. In the characters entry, I talked about what it takes to make a good character and, as many of you know, the work is immense. Why? Because a character has to seem real in the reader's mind, and to seem real, the character has to be just about as complicated as any other human being. Of course, there's only one Being in the entire world or out of it who can actually do the job right: writers just have to pick off what they already know.

There was some talk after I posted the Element on Characters about whether or not Characters really are the driving force of the plot. This is a tricky subject, and to be honest, I'm not saying one element is more important than the other one. In fact, I think both of them are equally important. Without one of them, you can't have the other: simple as that. The tricky part is finding the balance between them. In my earlier post I did state that I thought characters definitely came before the plot. However, this doesn't necessarily mean that I am a "Character First" novelist. In fact, to be quite truthful, I hate sitting down just to flesh out a character, and as a result I don't do it very often. I would much rather sit down and have my characters flesh themselves out as I torture them with all the horribly, awfully, terrible things I have planned to happen to them in my plot.



After reading through this discussion, I decided to further research the subject. I pondered the questions I'd read and asked myself others, and finally came to this conclusion: even if you are a "Plot-first" Novelist (as I believe I am), characters still always come before the plot. And yes, they are the driving force. And apparently I'm not the only "Plot-first" Novelist who thinks this. In fact, Jeff Gerke, owner and publisher of Marcher Lord Press, states something very similar in his book "The Art and Craft of Writing Christian Fiction".

Does this mean the plot is any less important?

No. Not at all. Just because Characters are what drive the plot doesn't mean the plot is less important than the characters. After all, you may have the best and most complicated characters in the entire world, but if you don't have a plot nothing will happen to them. Because that is what a plot is: a plot is the sequence of events that (literally) make the story in a novel or a play.

Either that, or it is secret, hostile plan put in act by your super, evil villain to take over the world.


The plot is basically all the things you have your character do or that you do to your character. It is, in essence, the reason that the story is being told: the interesting bits that make the reader want to know what happens next.

"But if the plot is all this," you say, "then why did you say that the Characters are the driving force of the novel? Sounds to me like the plot is the driving force."

And this is where it gets tricky.

Just like I said that the plot is the sequence of events that make up the story of a novel, so are the characters the ones who do the "events" or have the events done to them. Without a character, your novel's plot won't have anyone to do it's evil terriblness to, and without a plot your character won't have anything to do. These two elements need each other. You can't think about one without thinking about the other.

So, to continue, what is in the makings of a plot? Wow… Hold on a minute. I'm supposed to think up all those events right now?! Yipes!

Ok, let's try this a different way. What do you want your story to be about? That is the first question you need to ask yourself. Little plot details can fall in later, but the first things you need to know when you sit down to write your novel are your Hero's motives and the stakes – the what-will-happen-if-your-hero-doesn't-come-through element. These are the most important parts of any plot. Often times the hero's motive is tied in with the stakes:

  1. The hero does something – because – such-and-such will happen if he doesn't.
  2. The hero has to do something – OR – such-and-such will happen.

Either one of these choices are the beginnings of a good plot.

Let me give you an example. In "Song of the Daystar" I stuck with the first choice: Curron (my hero) goes on a quest to find and change the king's mind about the Brethren of Anahdor – because – if he doesn't change the king's mind, the king is going to kill all Believers in the land… including him.

There you have it. Curron's motive to find the king and change his mind is the fact that he will be killed if he doesn't. The stakes are basically the same thing.

Now let's try choice number 2, which I used in "Eldrie".

In Eldrie my MC doesn't even know the overall stakes at first. His motive to leave his first home is not to get killed by the shadow creatures hunting him. It is my secondary character that has the true motive and knows the overall stakes: my secondary character has to keep my MC safe and get him to accept his true identity in an entirely different type of world – OR – my super villain will win and slowly cover the free world in darkness. (Trust me, the full plot is WAY more complicated than that, but it's too long and difficult to explain here.)

What's the difference between the two choices? With the first one your main character has to realize what could happen if he fails because he made the choice to do something-or-other. With the second one, your MC doesn't necessarily have to know the stakes at first, but someone else might need to. And there you have it: Motive + stakes. The true making of a primary plot.

But now that you have the outside plotting figured out, what about the inside? What is your character thinking, and why?

In every good novel I've read, the memorable characters usually have some sort of internal conflict going on throughout the story which helps that character grow in himself, whether for good or evil… a Character Arc, if you will. This all has to do with internal plotting and making your character believable. I learned it this way: there are "flat" characters and "round" characters. The flat characters are the ones whose ideas and points of view never really change: they are set in their ways throughout the story. The round characters are the ones who change their ways of thinking for better or for worse. They are usually the ones who have internal struggles and personal stakes. They are the characters that read and feel believable… like they could actually be real. Until the character realizes the truth behind their internal struggle and changes their mind (or doesn't), only the author actually knows what the character's mental conclusion will be in the end. This is a type of plotting in itself and it is quite important.

Basically, it looks like this:

Internal Plotting = the author working out the character's internal conflict over the space of the story.

  1. Character knowing why he has to do something and what it will cost him personally, and fighting with himself over his choice because of that.


  1. Character believing one thing while being told another thing that makes more sense to him than the thing he already believes, and fighting with himself over his choice because of that.

The truth is, you can have the most amazing surface plot ever, but if your character just goes through the motions of the plot without ever complaining or ever thinking about it, the reader is going to get bored. Seriously. In that case the character is more like a puppet who can't think for himself. What you want your character to be, though, is a "puppet" who seems more and acts more like a real person than a toy being worked by a human hand.


So you have your villain ready to blow up the entire planet and your hero has to make a choice between flying off in a space pod to save his skin, or pushing the deactivation button that will save the world but ultimately kill him… and he chooses to sacrifice himself for the people of the world… without considering what's actually going to happen to him when he pushes that stupid red button. Who in their right mind would do that? I sure wouldn't. I mean, I might choose to sacrifice myself in the end, but you can bet I would consider my options very carefully before coming to a solid conclusion: I'd be counting the stakes.

You want a better example? Alright. Here it comes.

Consider Jesus praying in the garden before he died.

The outward "plot" of that story is that Jesus was born into the world as God's only begotten son, and that he had to die on a cross and shed his blood, and then rise again on the third day to save the world from the curse of death – OR – man would never be cleansed from their sins, Satan would win, and we would all be lost to God forever. You have your motive and your stakes.

The internal "plot" was that Jesus knew why He had to die and what it would cost Him personally. He didn't question God about what He had to do, but He did fight with His mortal, human self over it. Jesus was born as a man so that He could go through what men go through… so that He, as God, could know and understand the choices and the fears that men have. And when it came to sacrificing Himself for the sake of the world – when it came to dying a horrible and torturous death – you bet He was scared! Just as scared as any other man would be. And you can bet He fought with Himself internally over that ultimate choice: "Father, if thou art willing, remove this cup from me!" (Luke 22: 42). That was His flesh fighting back, saying "I don't really want to die! I'm only 33, for pity's sake! I've still got so much life to live, and those whips and the nails are going to hurt like the dickens!!! And hey, if I've got a choice between living a full and happy life or dying a horrible and torturous death, I would much rather live, thank you very much."


"Nevertheless… not my will, but Thine be done."

"Even though I know it's going to hurt… even though I know what it will cost me in this physical form… I'm going to trust you, Father. My life is Yours, and I will lay down this mortal life to save the people that We created… and that We love."

The stakes were high with both choices. He knew that. He thought it over. He fought with Himself over it. But in the end, He knew there was only one right choice. And He made the choice, even though He knew what it would cost Him.

That is THE ULTIMATE EXAMPLE of surface and internal plotting. Everything you need to know is right there. If you're ever struggling with your plot, don't hesitate to look the story up for yourself. I don't think God could have written it any plainer.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Revisions and Excerpts

I've been working like crazy lately to revise my book "Eldrei" to perfection… if that is even attainable. Last night I managed to write half of a new scene and was very proud of my accomplishments, seeing as I've been blocked ever since school got out… either that, or I'm just really good at procrastinating… but it's kind of hard to tell. So, in honor my happy moment, I've decided to post the first chapter of the book and see what you guys think of it. I don't think I've ever posted this before, so this should be interesting for all of us. "Eldrei" has been a WIP since I was 16, but only now is it really starting to take shape and look like something publishable. I'm hoping to finish the re-write sometime next year, and maybe a polish, then start querying in 2011.

So anyway, please let me know what you think of this excerpt. The very first bit is a Prophesy, but after that comes the actual chapter. Feel free to critique away: I'm all for advice, if you feel like giving it. :D And don't worry, I've got a tough skin, so please let me know your thoughts on it.


From the west there arises a new brilliant star

From where the sun sets o'er the cities of men

He brings restoration where now there lie ruins

In the dark days when evil is eminent


In his hand glows the gift of guidance

On his brow, the blessing of Nildor

In his chest beats the heart of a child

In his head, the mind of a scholar


By his side are a wise woman's words

At his back sways the warrior's sword

From the west, where the exiled were banished

From the west will our hope rise anew


The shadows will flee from the wrath of his sword,

The evil be broken in the wake of his vengeance

On wings shining silver, the blue blade returned,

The fallen restored from their lowly demise


But beware, ye of valor; the Dark has grown stronger

It creeps in the night to sow doubt in the weak

Beware of the shadows, for death lies in waiting:

Keep ever the light of Nildor in your heart


Of blood, and stars, and darkness stained

A sacrifice for others is a hero gained

From the west where the exiled were banished

The half-bloods will reclaim their thrones



Ancient Prophesy translated from the elven tongue



Chapter 1




Sixteen-year-old Tibain eyed the man in front of him, waiting for his first move. Moisture from his hands clung to the hilt of his weighted wooden sword and sweat dripped down his forehead, stinging his eyes. As annoying as it was, he didn't move to wipe it away.

Rule number one: do not become distracted in a fight; distractions cause death.

Tibain shifted his weight to the balls of his feet, blinking back a pearl of sweat that stubbornly clung to his eyelash.

His opponent struck.

Tibain parried the blow and whirled away from the striking blade, lashing out with his sword.

His opponent swayed clear at the last moment, avoiding the weapon's tip within inches. He smirked and brought his blade forward. Tibain swung back around but his momentum carried him farther than he liked and tilted him off balance. Driving the sword's tip into the ground, he used it to level himself out and twisted, yanking it up and free. The weapons clashed again. The older man drove down hard, forcing Tibain to center his core strength beneath his blade's hilt to keep it from flying out of his hands.

I keep forgetting how strong he is.

His opponent smiled over the edges of their locked swords. "Getting tired yet?"

Tibain grinned. "Not yet, old man. You'll have to do better than this if you want me to surrender!"

"Old man, eh?" The wooden swords came undone with a loud thwack! "Why, you young rogue! I could take you with both hands pinned behind my back. By the time I'm finished with you, you won't even have the strength to admit defeat."

Tibain circled sword point out, feeling the ground through the soles of his boots. His eyes followed the man, calculating the next move. And then he struck. His wooden sword whirred through the air in a hard uppercut.

The man easily knocked it away with an oblique slice.

Tibain came back with two hard downward blows, parried a thrust, and lunged. His opponent sidestepped the sweeping blade. A loud thwack sounded across the sparring field. Tibain yelped. His sword clattered to the ground and he fell to his knees cradling his wrist. The older man shifted the tip of his boot beneath the fallen weapon's hilt and flipped the sword up to his hand.

"There you go," he said, smiling. "You just lost a wrist and it looks like I've won yet again." He reached down to help Tibain up. "Next time, don't overextend your lunge and try to keep hold of your sword. Thank Nildor these blades aren't real or my victory might be over something much more vital." He glanced at Tibain's wrist and winced; red marks burned on the surface of the skin. He shook his head and sigh. "You really should be more careful, Tibain. Your wrist will be sore for a couple days, but be thankful the damage isn't worse." He extended one of the wooden swords.

Tibain snatched it away and stuck it through his belt, scowling. "You know, Dakore, that wasn't really fair."

Dakore smirked. "Perhaps not. Then again, who's to say what's fair and isn't? If you ever fight a real enemy, you can bet they won't play by the rules." He threw an arm about Tibain's shoulder and started leading him back across the field towards the house.

The farmhouse was a crude, simple structure with red clay walls, three rooms, and a loft where extra grain was stored and where the chickens could roost in the winter. The roof was thatched and weighted down so that no strong wind could come and blow it loose. Beside the house stood a rough lean-to made of aged wood where dry fire wood was kept and where the donkey slept. A tall, gnarled oak tree stood sentinel in the front yard, casting most of the house in shade with its long, twisted branches. Beneath it sat a dry-stone well. A thick hedge bordered the yard, beyond which trees grew in spattered patches until the nearest neighboring farm reared into view a mile away. Behind the house, a small field stretched, planted with all different kinds of vegetation. As simple as it was, it was home.

As they came in sight of the back door, it burst open and a tall slender girl ran out to meet them. "Tibain! Dakore! Thank goodness your back already; I didn't expect you 'til near sunset."

Dakore smiled. "We finished a bit early, you might say."

"Yeah, you might say that." Tibain rubbed his sore wrist gingerly; the red marks had already darkened to mottle his skin. "Do you have anything I could use to bandage this, Arien? I think I'd better leave it tied up for the night."

Tibain's sister glanced restlessly between him and Dakore, then flicked the gold hair out of her eyes with a sigh. "What now?" She leaned down to examine his wrist. "My word, Tibain! You couldn't have managed any redder?" He winced as she gently grabbed it and prodded the bruises with a finger. Her eyes darted to the wooden sword thrust hastily through his belt and she lifted an eyebrow. "I see," she said. "Another lesson learned?"

"Hopefully," Dakore commented. He grinned. "Though I may have struck him a little harder than usual; he called me an old man!"

She clucked her tongue, shaking her head. "In that case, I think he deserved it. Come on Tibain." She took his other arm and pulled him towards the house. "I'll see if I can find something to wrap this up with."

Dakore followed.

Arien glanced over her shoulder as she walked. "Dakore, you weren't expecting company today, were you?"

"Not that I remember. Why?"

As they reached the door, the drone of low voices floated out to them from narrow slit-windows in the mud-daubed walls.

"Because two men are here to see you and insisted on staying until you came back. One is Quinn, but the other… I don't know who that one is. Never seen him before. He seems a little… strange: doesn't talk much. Quinn says he's alright, but he's quite the sight, I can tell you."

"Did either of them say what they wanted?"

Arien shook her head as she reached for the handle. "They wouldn't tell me. I offered to run after you, but Quinn said there was no immediate need. He's getting more fidgety though and keeps glancing at the door. And I can't help feeling a bit nervous around that other man. I gave them some food and they seemed content, but I'm glad you've come back."

Dakore nodded, a frown furrowing his brow. "I'll talk to them." He reached over Arien's shoulder and pushed open the door.

    Two men sat at the table, hunched over their mugs and talking in low voices. The older one, a thickly built man with waving brown hair just starting to grey, looked up when the three entered and waved a hand. "Dakore! What took you so long? It's been hours since we got here; I was beginning to think you'd forgotten about our little meeting."

Dakore's smiled tightly. "You'll have to forgive me for that; it completely slipped my mind. I was a bit busy."

"But not anymore, I hope." The man lowered his voice. "There's other business to attend to, you know; more serious business, if you catch my drift." He nodded at the children

Tibain glanced at Dakore's tight face. His jaw was clenched. "Any business I attend to is important, Quinn. You should know that by now."

    Quinn sat back in his chair, his face suddenly the color of a beat. He cleared his throat. "Well, yes, you're not exactly one to fool around, are you? But all the same…" he paused, his eyes darting about the room. They alighted on the younger man sitting next to him. "Ah yes! Nearly forgot. You haven't met my friend yet, have you?" He sat forward, gesturing to his companion. "This is Nolan. He's been taking care of some of the… business in the city, reportin' to me if he hears ought."

    The other man looked up and nodded wordlessly.

Tibain eyed the new man seated at the table and gave a start. Why, He's young! He shifted forward to get a better look at the man's face. He can't be more than a few years my elder.

Yet already the youth looked like he'd seen more trouble in his short life than many a seasoned man. The shallow wrinkles in his forehead spoke of much frowning, and his body was lean and muscular. Pale scars traced nearly every patch of uncovered skin, etching the back of his hands and stretching cruel fingers up his neck and over the rim of his jaw. His eyes were a sharp, piercing blue.

Dakore eyed the young man thoughtfully. "Actually, we have met previously. Only once or twice here in Iban. I knew of him before that." He motioned Arien and Tibain out of the room and pulled another chair up to the table. Tibain grudgingly followed his sister to her bedroom and allowed her to close the door behind them.

"What do you think they're talking about?" He pressed his ear to the door and yelped when Arien grabbed his wrist and wrapped a strip of bandage around it.

"Stop squirming," she commanded, "You've been hurt much worse than this before."

"Yes, and you weren't gentle then, either!"

"Well, serves you right." She frowned as the voices outside the door escalated. "I am curious," she admitted. "Dakore can be so secretive sometimes. You'd think after living with him for so long we'd know more about him than we do."

Tibain nodded absently. The truth was, Dakore kept his past a mystery. He was not their father; Tibain knew that much. But Dakore had never relinquished more.

The voices outside the door were muffled, but Tibain heard enough of the conversation to follow it.

"…think we've waited too long as it is." That was Quinn's voice. "If we're goin' to leave, we'd best do it soon; this week even."

"Not this week. Not yet." That was Dakore. "It isn't time yet. You said you would wait until I said it was time."

"Then you'd best start settin' a time." Tibain heard a fist pound the table. "Everyone's gettin' antsy. We either make a move or we don't, but no more of this dotterin' around. He'll catch on in another few months if things go on like this. If we haven't gone by then, we never will."

"I can only agree," came a new voice. Tibain assumed it was Nolan's and immediately liked it. A warm, rich tone laced his speech, and he spoke fluently as if he were well brought up.
"You won't be able to wait much longer on any account. Not here in Crow's Beak at least. I can well tell you that some of the nobility are starting to suspect."

"Bah! Let the dirty money-hoarders suspect!" The way Quinn said it, Tibain pictured a deep scowl on his face. "What can they do? Sit around in their great houses and pine away their lazy hours, weepin' filthy tears 'cause some of the farmers they thought were so lowly decided to run off? They're lazy enough as it is without our hard work payin' for their leisure."

Nolan chuckled mirthlessly. "Ah, but it's not the nobility you have to be careful of as much as their wagging tongues. Every Lord or Master's wife will loosen her tongue for a chance at respect on the social ladder. And you've forgotten one other thing; Governor Trayhern's guards are in the pay of the aristocracy. If so much as a rumor reaches his ears, you and all associated with you will be flushed from your homes. You know how Lord Trayhern is; he despises the very thought of anyone undermining his authority, even if they are but lowly farmers – no offense meant. If the rumors I've been hearing in Middle City spread before you can escape, he will send his men to your homes and you will be taken to Lûrbrakh to be made examples of. You all know Lord Trayhern as well as I do; even proof spoken with a lying tongue will convince him. There will be no escaping then. Crow's Beak won't protect you much longer."

Deathly silence fell.     


The word tainted the air, making every breath taste stale.

Tibain shivered. He'd heard whispers of that dark place. The Death Hole some called it; others named it Hell and twisted their fingers over their chests in a sign to ward off evil. No one could say anymore how it had been created or what its original purpose had been, but there were stories… there were always stories. Governor Trayhern used the endless dark passageways as a sort of dungeon. He called them his "mines" but it was doubtful even he knew their real purpose. The tunnels meandered every which way and crisscrossed back on themselves, always leading down farther into the darkness. And hidden deep within those tunnels was said to live a horror beyond any dreamed by the foul thoughts of men. Trayhern had a fortress built at Lûrbrakh's main entrance to discourage escape by any survivors, but there were few enough of those, and if any did find their way back out of the black catacombs and make it past the fortress walls, they were never the same again. It was a place of ill omen run by black-hearted men and even its name conjured nightmares.

Tibain winced as Arien wrapped another coil of bandage around his injured wrist.

"What are they saying?"

He tried to wave her question away, but she glared at him. "Tell me what they are saying, Tibain. I'm not deaf, you know."

"I'll tell you when they're done speaking, but I can't hear the words either if you keep talking to me."

She started to protest but he hushed her with a finger and laid his ear back on the door.

Dakore sighed. "You're right," he said, "you both are. We must leave soon. But not yet. Quinn, you'll have to trust me in this. Just for a little longer, I promise."

"How much is a little, Dakore?" Quinn asked. "Every time you say to wait, the danger grows nearer. I can almost feel Trayhern's guards breathin' down my neck."

"Have I not kept up my end of the bargain so far?" Dakore's voice was as close to angry as Tibain had ever heard it. "You have your supplies; your men have been trained. Our plans are set…"

A mug banged the table. "But we're still here!"

"What more do you want from me?" Dakore's voice grew louder. Sharper. "Without a guide, the desert will swallow you in a day, and to turn any other direction is as good as handing your lives and your families to Trayhern at his leisure. The desert is your only choice; it is the one place Trayhern fears to send his men, and I am the only one in Iban who has ever crossed it and lived. It seems to me a few more days of waiting is a small price to pay for the lives of you, your men, and your families."

"It is dangerous…" came Nolan's low voice.

Dakore gave a frustrated sigh. "I know. I never said it wasn't. But I have to wait."

"What for?" came Quinn's voice.

"My business, not yours."

A pause hung on the air. Then Nolan spoke. "You know what you risk. I won't further argue with you; it would be pointless anyways. But Quinn, I think you should trust him in this. You've known me long enough. Take my word for it, if you won't take his; Dakore knows what he's doing. It is for the best."

Quinn growled. "Like as not, he'll be our deaths for all his empty promises."

"Or your lives." A chair scrapped the floor and feet shuffled about. "For now we'll trust it is the later. But Dakore, if my advice can be of any count…"


"I shouldn't wait more than a day."

Tibain pulled his ear away. He'd heard enough. He looked down at Arien who stopped wrapping his hand. "We're leaving Iban," he murmured.


He nodded. "That's what they're talking about. It's not just us, but it sounds like half of the farmers in Crow's Beak are leaving too. Dakore's going to lead them across the desert."

"The eastern desert?" Arien hissed, "The Desert of Bones? That's madness! No one's ever crossed the desert and lived to talk about it. No one's ever come back!"

"Which is why the farmers want to cross it, I suppose," Tibain mused. "Think about it; why didn't anyone come back? What really happened to them? Did they find something better?"

"They died, Tibain. Why do you think Trayhern hates it so much? His soldiers won't go near it. Its name is not an idle one."

"You don't know that for sure," Tibain argued. "Nobody does; those are just stories."

"Stories of blood, and bones, and murder. Why didn't he tell us this before?"

"Maybe he didn't want to worry us," Tibain said. Or maybe he just didn't want to hear you whine. "Anyway, it sounds like he knows what he's talking about."

"Oh, and he knows a way across the desert, does he?"

Tibain shrugged. "I don't know. But he says he's crossed it before and the others won't dare cross it without him."

Arien sucked her cheek and looked back down at her work. Then, with a jerk that made Tibain bite his tongue in pain, she wrapped the end of the bandage around his wrist and tied it off.

"There. You're all finished." She dusted her legs off and stood. "Just don't over use it for a few days; it should be doing better by then. And let's have no more talk of leaving unless Dakore mentions it first, okay?"

"But don't you want to find out—"

"No. I don't like this, but I'm going to trust him. He'll tell us when he's ready." She flipped her hair and turned to put the rest of her bandages away. "I, for one, don't really want to leave Iban."

Tibain heard more chairs scrape over the wooden floorboards and figured the men in the other room were probably done with their meeting. A door opened, low voices murmured goodbyes, and then the door shut again. Dakore called to them.

"Arien, Tibain, you can come out now. We need to talk about something."

"Sounds like he's ready now," Tibain mumbled, and opened the door.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Of Boys and Deadlines

Ok, first off, I apologize in advance to any guys out there who read this and find the following content offensive… for whatever reason that may be. My simple excuse? I'm not a guy. :D

But I have to say, I think boys and deadlines have a couple close similarities. For one thing, you "flirt" with both of them trying to get them to "crack" and instead they remain as unwavering and immovable as a brick wall.

And just why am I ranting about boys and deadlines for no particular reason?

Well, it's quite simple really. We'll start with the writerly thing, since I am first and foremost a writer. :) Ok, so many of you know I'm trying to stay accountable to writing Eldrei… and it's really difficult. Not to say that I ever thought it would be easy, but school right now is crazy, life is crazy, trying to find a job is crazy and… yep, you guessed it: my writing life is crazy. And I'm stuck which doesn't help matters at all. So I decided to give myself a word goal and a deadline and see how that plays out. However, while giving yourself a deadline is a good idea, you have to remember that a deadline is a DEADLINE: no moving it about or switching it around to match your hectic schedule. Once it is set, there's no changing it and you'd better be willing to commit. Of course, this is all good practice for when you're a published author with an editor breathing down your neck waiting for your next manuscript.

But how, you ask, does that have anything to do with boys what-so-ever?

Well, it may seem funny, but at 22 I'm looking for a good Christian guy to start a relationship with. I know God has the right guy in mind for me, and I really am trying to be patient and pray about it. At the same time, though, I can't help worrying about whether I should even try to enter into a relationship at all, or whether I will ever be given the chance. It does not help matters (in my mind) that many of my younger friends have entered into good, wholesome Christian relationships. I try not to look at their lives in comparison with mine. Comparison is never a healthy way to start anything. I think what I'm really searching for is mortal companionship… someone who loves me for me, and not what I look like, or how I act, or what I do. God must realize this. In fact, I know he does. I continue to pray about it, hoping that the right guy will come along before I'm forty-five.

Sounds petty, doesn't it?

It's hard sometimes to wait on God's timing, even for the petty things. Everything happens for a reason. He knows what's best for me and I believe He wants me to fully understand that before He allows me to meet the man I'm supposed to be with.

"Yes God, I'm trying to understand. Really. But…"

No buts. No moving the deadline. God has his own agenda for my life. It's hard sometimes for me to realize and accept that fact, but I've got to try. Just like I'm trying to stay accountable and faithful to my writing, a need to try and stay accountable and faithful to God. God first. That's how it should be. If I follow that simple rule, everything else will fall in line behind it: my school, my writing, my life, a job… and yes, eventually a relationship.

Lord, help me to be more patient. You know what's best for me. Help me to understand that Your timing is my deadline. When it's supposed to happen, it will… but not before. And not after, either. Your deadline for the events of my life is set in eternity. Help me to honor that, and wait. And help me to be content in You until the day when I see each event come to pass.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Character Interview: How does Tibain really picture me?

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to interview one of your characters?  Well, over the weekend I tried it.  I gotta say, it really wasn't nearly as easy as I thought it would be.  My character, Tibain, got to step out of the story and be boisterous, and I don't know if I was ready for it.  Actually, he kept trying to give things away from the story, and since he wouldn't cooperate, the only way I could get him to shut it was to send him back.

But I decided to post the conversation here.  If anything else, it was entertaining, and a bit enlightening.  I have so much fun torturing him, but I've learned now that I must be more careful.  Now that he knows who I am, he might want to come after me at some point in time.  Eeek!  What a scary thought!


*Tibain walks in*

“Hey Tibain.  How’s it going?”

“Going?  Ok, I guess.  At least I’m still living, right?  Is my sister alright?”

“For now she is… I can’t very well have anything happen to her yet, now can I?  Considering the story is about both of you.”

“Well I guess not.  Where are we anyway?”

“Right now we’re in a blank room in my mind and I’m trying to think of what should happen next.  I believe we are at chapter 9, correct?  And you’re having trouble with the Gronjhiem.”

“Oh, so that’s what those things are.” *scowls*  “You do seem to like putting us in situations where we almost get killed, don’t you?”

“Hey, I’m the author; I can do whatever I want.  But you’ll be fine, so don’t worry too much about it.  What I want to know now is what you’re thinking as you’re trying to fight this beast off.”

“Thinking?  I’m thinking I’m going to die!  I’m thinking it’s just waiting to rip my throat out.  And now I’m really confused because I’ve started to hear voices in my head, and I don’t know why, or where they’re coming from, or even if I’m still sane or have lost my sanity completely.  I’m thinking that Dakore is never gonna get here in time and that I might as well put my weapons down ‘cause they aren’t going to do any good in the long run, and right now I’m thinking that I wish I had them with me so I could do something to you and make you pay for all you’re doing to me!”

“Woa!  Calm down there!  I’m not going to kill you off or anything; I’m not that heartless.  Why don’t we just forget this subject, ok?  And you can tell me more about your life and such.  Tell me about your child-hood with Dakore; he seems like an interesting type for a guardian.”

“He really is.”  *calming down somewhat*.  “I don’t remember much of my parents before hand; in fact, I can’t remember my father at all and my mother disappeared when I was four.  Dakore showed up soon after.  It was really strange too… It was as if he knew exactly where we were and who we were, and all about us before we’d even met him.”

“Yes, well… Dakore does have some secrets, but since I know you don’t know what all they are yet, let’s just get back to what he was like as a mentor.  Was he…. Fatherly?

“I don’t know how a biological father should act because I don’t remember having one…”

“Oh right.”  *sheepish*

“But Dakore was everything a kid could have wished for growing up… he knows so many things and has so many different talents.  Like, did you know that he’s just as good as a blacksmith as he is at farming, or even at carving?  After mother was gone, he taught me how to use some of the tools around the place and we fixed each room with its own door, and each of the windows is covered with hide scraped so thin that you can see through it.”

“Sounds quaint.”

“It is, and lovely.  I really loved our old home.”

“Yes, well… I’m sorry for your loss.  What about stories, though?”

“Dakore is the best story-teller.”

“Do you have a preference of his tales?”

“Yes, actually.  My favorites are the ones he tells about the constellations.  It seems there are hundreds and hundreds of legends about the stars, and he knows every one.  Did you know that the Dragon King has never harmed a living soul because the twin warriors figured out how to quench his fire breath?  They used his own fire to do it, too, and as long as one of them keeps hold of the Dragon king’s tale, he’ll never be able to breathe another tongue of flame.  But he still has sharp claws and teeth, and he uses them to fight off the other twin, who guards the book of Adamant.”

“No actually, I don’t remember all that, but it’s good to know.  Thank you; I’d better write it down while it’s still fresh in my mind.”

“You’re welcome.”

“But now I wonder, was there anything about Dakore that you found unsettling?”

“Unsettling?  Do you mean like how he seems to know so much about things that have nothing to do with farming, how he talks to himself in a different language, or how he goes out at night and sings to the sky?  Or perhaps you mean his short temper?”

“Yes, well…” *clears throat*  “He is a very complicated character…” *fidgets nervously in her seat.  Clears throat again.*  “Perhaps we can move on.  Shall we talk about your sister?”


“Because she’s your sister and I’m talking to you, so I can’t very well ask her if she’s not here, now can I?”

“If you’re the author and this is just a blank room in your mind, then you can do anything you want to do, couldn’t you?  Including bring my sister here.”

“But I’m not going to, because I’m asking you.  So, what is Arien like?”

“Like a sister.”

“No, no, no!  Give me some details about her personality.  Is she finicky, common, easily angered… what?”

“Well…” *leans back in his seat and crosses his legs* “We get along alright, but she does start fussing over the smallest thing.  Like the other day, for instance.  She was so put out that I went to talk to Dakore and she had to stay behind.  When I came back, I hardly had to say anything and she was all over my case.  If there’s one thing I know about Arien, it’s not to get her too mad.”  *leans forward*  “I’d never tell her this, but if she got mad enough, she could probably kick my butt in a fight.”

“Yes… well, butt kicking aside, what else can you tell us about her?”

“Us?” *looks around* “isn’t there only you?”

*straightens* “for now, yes.  But please continue.”

“She’s a good fighter, but too much of a girl.”

“She is a girl.”

“Exactly.  And from what I’ve noticed of the other farm girls, she’s too much like them.  We used to love to wrestle in the living room, or race each other through the cornfields, but as we’ve gotten older…” *shakes head* “well, she just doesn’t want to do those things anymore.  And now we’re running away through a desert with…”

“Enough!  You’re going to give everything away if you keep on so liberally like this.”

“Hey, you’re the one who’s asking questions.  I’m just answering them.  It isn’t my fault if a few things come out with it.”  *crosses arms*

“Fine then.  If you want to be so stubborn, I’ll just send you back.”

*jumps up*  “What, to that place?  With that… that thing trying to kill me?!”

“Exactly.  You don’t want to cooperate so…”

*the room starts to fade away.*

“No, wait!”

*The room comes back into focus.*

*I look up*  “Yes, what is it?”

“Just tell me quick before you send me back…”

“Tell you what?”

*shuffles feet*  “Am I going to win this fight”

*evil grin*  “Well, I can’t very well tell you that outright, now can I, or else I’ll give everything away.  What I will say is that IF you do come out of this one alive, you’ll be a little worse for wear.  Now get!”

*Room fades completely, and Tibain is gone*

On another note, this is finals week, and after that comes Christmas Vacation.  Since I don't have a good internet connection at home, there's a very good chance that I won't be on the internet much until January when school starts up again.  So, just in case I don't get the chance later, I'll say my good byes now and wish everyone a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

But you'll probably still see me on every once in a while before January.  I must say, I've become addicted to blogging... almost as much as checking my email... which is REALLY BAD.

Until later! :D  Hugs for everyone! *throws out hugs*

Signed with an Ink-Stained flourish,


Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Rights of a Writer

This is a subject I do not approach lightly, for there are many people who have opposing views. But it is a subject close to my heart. Call this my little "Soap-Box Moment" if you will.

The other day while browsing through some old posts on different blogs I follow, I came across one with an interesting subject matter: it had to do with the "burning of" or "banning of" certain books and it showed a clip of the old TV show "The Waltons" which backed the author's point of view on the matter. Personally, I love watching that old TV show; my whole family does. We'll sit down to watch 5-8 episodes of "The Waltons" over almost anything on regular TV in the evening (though it's been a VERY long time since we've done that lately). It's set during World War II way out in the country, in a mountain home that houses… I think a family of 8 kids, the parents, and the grandparents, if I remember correctly. And to make matters even better, the Waltons' oldest son, John-boy, is an aspiring author striving to see his first work in print and working at going to college. I can so relate!

The clip was set during the time when Hitler was burning books in Germany – including the Bible – and replacing God's Holy Word with his own book. In the clip, the Waltons' church had found a copy of Hitler's book and planned to destroy it along with a bunch of other German books in a ceremonial burning. As you can probably imagine, John-boy went ballistic. Rising from his seat, he rushed to the pile of books on the ground and told the people staging the burning that it wasn't their right to destroy books just because they were German; the Germans had a right to read and write what they wanted to just as much as anyone in the states. He then picked up one of the books and, fondling it in his hands, stated simply that he wished someone could read German to them. An older woman hesitantly stood and joined John-boy in the center. She gently took the book from him and began to read it aloud. John-boy stopped her after a few sentences. "Could you please read it to us in English?" he asked. And with tears misting over her eyes, the woman lifted her head higher and began to read:

"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, 'Let there be light.'"

John-boy had made his point: those who had planned to burn the German books were just as hypocritical as those who were burning books in Germany. Those who so strongly opposed the desecration of books had very nearly burned the Bible, the very book that they held so sacred.

After reading and watching this post, I ended up posting an extensive comment about how I agreed with John-boy, and when I had finished writing I thought about what an interesting subject it was to explore.

What are the rights of a writer – especially one that writes speculative fiction? And, for that matter, what are the rights of a reader?

What are they truly?

It is indeed a delicate subject to broach. Many people have different opinions on the matter and are not afraid to try and influence writers and readers towards their opinions. Indeed, many writers and readers have been influenced. It isn't always a bad thing, but sometimes it can be difficult to fight.

For example, I am a Christian Fantasy writer. As soon as people hear of this, there is immediate speculation. It's not uncommon for Christians to worry about reading Fantasy and Science Fiction. With the popularity of secular speculative fiction on the rise, and with the booming recognition of books like Harry Potter and Twilight, the church's hackles have risen and many people are on the watch for new pieces of fiction with underlying "evil intent", thoroughly convinced that only bad can come of reading such things. The Harry Potter books have all but been banned from many churches, and even from certain private schools because they are believed to be evil.

And why are they believed to be evil?

Because they have magic in them. And wizards. And even some witches. And because these characters are made out to be "Good" and even "Wise".

Now, I am no fan of witches, but for anyone who's ever read "The Lord of the Rings" or "The Dragon Keeper" series, the concept of good wizards isn't exactly new. Nor is the concept of magic. (think of Narnia, for instance.) My personal opinion is that the author had no real intention of writing evil into the books except for in the form of her villain. The rumors that give the books a bad name came from the outside. True, I haven't read any of these books yet and I don't know if I ever will, but I'm not about to judge them by their cover… or their author… or their author's intentions. People can read what they want to into anything they want, but I doubt that Mrs. Rowling regrets writing the Harry Potter books, or that she ever will.

How does this effect Christian Speculative Fiction Writers?

I would think that was obvious. Fantasy and science fiction have been given a bad name, and because of this many people refuse to give it a chance. While the amount of Christian Speculative readers (and writers) has grown drastically over the last few years, it still seems that there are more people against it than there are for it. Which is a real shame.

I have an older friend whom my family has known for years. I absolutely respect her and her advice, except for on one little matter; she believes that all "magic" is evil, she hates "The Chronicles of Narnia", despises Lewis for writing it, and believes I am desperately sinning by writing fantasy of any kind.

I absolutely disagree.

I believe that we were created in the image of the Creator of the Universe, and that he gave us an imagination so that we could use it and follow in his footsteps. My idea of magic isn't that of demons wreaking havoc in the world and those who try to harness the demons' power; rather, I believe that "Magic" is a term people stamp on to any fantastical happening that they have no explanation for, be it good or bad. Enchantment is rather a different story, but I won't get into that now. Do people in fantasy books use magic? Well… some readers say so. So what? "Magic" can be anything from a simple trick to something totally supernatural. People in today's world are too focused on the reason for things. If we don't understand something or it seems supernatural, we immediately have two options: God did it, or the devil did it. There's no in between. But where's the mystery in that? Who wants to know the source of every problem or the source of every answer that comes into their life? "Magic" is the source of wonderment in a fantasy book, and yes, some of it is supernatural… actually, most of it is. And in Christian spec-fic there are only two options for the source of magic: God or Satan… but we don't have to say that. We just say "Magic" and the context explains the rest. Are we really so different, then?

The point of the matter is that I can decide for myself how I am going to write something, why I write something that way, and what I do and do not believe. I am entitled to my own opinions; they are no one else's but mine. If I am influenced by someone else's opinions, well, that just means they touched me in some way. But I know what is right and what is wrong, and I can choose for myself which is which because God gave me that knowledge and I have his Word to guide me. I don't need somebody else to tell me that something else is right and that I'm a sinful person because I write a certain way… shoot, I know I'm a sinful person! We all are! But for goodness sake, take the beam out of your own eye first.

Another guy that I know believes that ALL fiction, no matter the kind or genre, is pure evil. When I asked him why, he said that it was because God wants us to search out truth and God made what is real. Therefore, what is real is truth, and if we read or write things that aren't or couldn't be real, then we are reading and writing lies and thus purposefully and willfully disobeying God.

I obviously don't believe this. But the matter of fact is, he is entitled to his own opinion and I won't try to sway him. Why should I? He didn't change my mind on the subject, and by trying to convince him otherwise I would knowingly be telling him that I sin on a regular basis (in his mind) and that I would like him to sin as well.

Another friend I know says that he believes Christian Romances are actually evil because they put certain ideas and desires into women's heads, awaking feelings (or something of the like) that should not be awakened. Ok, admittedly I almost laughed at this one; for one thing, I've read some Christian Romances and I don't ever recall have any type of "feeling" awakened in me that was wrong in any way, shape, or form. But I didn't try to tell him otherwise. That was his own outlook on the subject, not mine. If he believes that reading Christian Romances is sinful, then he doesn't have to read them, but my outlook is quite different. It is NOT a sin to me.

So my question is, what are the Rights of the Writer? What are we entitled to? Who must we listen to?

And this is what I came up with:

We are entitled to our own opinions and are under no obligations whatsoever to be influenced by other outside voices unless we wish to be.

That means, don't just throw good, solid, righteous advice out the window because you don't entirely agree with it: listen to what others have to say, but do so with discretion. God gave you your own brain for a reason as well as the freedom of choice. Use his gifts wisely – read his word, and pray, and don't forget to listen carefully for what he might whisper in your ear (it's always good to follow His advice. :D) But when allowing others to voice their opinions about a subject, listen with an open mind, yet remember who you are in God and be confident in what he has shown you; you can't go wrong that way.

Besides, we can't please everybody no matter how hard we try.  So if we just write for ourselves and for God, we'll know inside that we are doing something right.

*steps down off of soap-box*

So, what are your thoughts on the matter?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Chronicles of Narnia: Finding the Wardrobe

For many of us, the Chronicles of Narnia was our first real glimpse at a world beyond this one, and for many it was also the beginning of a journey into the impossible.  Of course, to really see the impossible, one must first see the possible.  Perhaps that is why C.S. Lewis chose children to represent his Kings and Queens.  Perhaps that is why the beginning of his first book was set in the middle of a war.  Or perhaps there is some other reason.  Whatever it may be, the Chronicles of Narnia have touched many lives with their magic, but none have been more effective than “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe”.

When I was thinking about how I was going to write this article, I started to wonder what it was that drew me to that first book.  I remember the day I first started reading it.  It wasn’t a magical day, with snow cresting the ground or lacing the trees.  In fact, it was a day in the middle of summer.  It was a Sunday… rather fitting, if you think about it.  We were at my parents’ friends’ house, I was ten years old, and I was so tired from being dragged around all day that I just wanted to go to sleep.  Our friend offered for me to take a nap in his bedroom and I was very grateful.  The problem was, I always read myself to sleep and I hadn’t brought any books with me.  I just couldn’t seem to still my mind enough to close my eyes and just relax.  So I asked him if he had any books I could look at.  Now, he was an older man.  He said he had some books that he could let me borrow, if I liked, because his kids were too old to read them anymore, and his grandkids were too young to understand them.  Those books just happened to be “The Chronicles of Narnia”.  I remember feeling slightly guilty when I pulled out the first one, because it had a witch in it, and witches were evil; we weren’t supposed to read about them.  Lol!  How far I’ve come since that day!

What comes to mind when we think of the Chronicles of Narnia?  For me, the first thing I see is a little girl in an empty room peering into the dark of a closet and wondering what could be inside. 

“Shortly after that they looked into a room that was quite empty except for one big wardrobe; the sort that has a looking-glass in the door.  There was nothing else in the room at all except a dead blue-bottle on the window-sill.

“Nothing there!” said peter, and they all trooped out again – all except Lucy.  She stayed behind because she thought it would be worth while trying the door of the wardrobe, even though she felt almost sure that it would be locked.  To her surprise, it opened quite easily…”  (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe)

What drew Lucy to the wardrobe?  Some people say it was the promise of fur coats hiding behind the door, but that can’t be because she didn’t know the coats there until after she’d opened it.  Some say it’s because she wanted to look at herself in the looking glass, but she didn’t know that was there either.  All that we are told is that, “she thought it would be worth while to try the door of the wardrobe, even though she felt almost sure it would be locked.”  And that’s it; nothing more.  She just thought it would be “worth while”…

But I have to wonder if that was really all.  I wonder if something wasn’t calling her to the wardrobe… something far more compelling than fur coats or a fancy mirror.

The Wardrobe could represent several different things.  Some might say it represents opportunity.  Some might say imaginative freedom.  But while I was sitting and pondering what the Wardrobe represented to me, I was struck with a new revelation… one that’s probably not been thought of before, and that might seem so obscure so as to make people wonder if it could possibly be a true reason after all.

My reasoning is this:

The Bible says that God will draw all men onto Him.  It also says that if we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us.  He wants us to be close to Him, and He calls out to us, asking us to come to Him; asking us to find Him and take refuge in His arms.  He wants to be near us, and he wants us to want to be near him.  Deep down inside of each one of us, we can hear that call.  Some of us ignore it, but others search it out, listening for His still, small voice to lead us down the right path to His arms.

But every path has a beginning: every room needs a door.  Finding that door and opening it is just the start.
“What door?” you say.  “What on earth are you talking about?”

If this is confusing you, I’m sorry.  Let me try to be more plain.  Raise your hand if you know that Aslan the Lion represents Jesus Christ.  *looks at the many hands raised in the air.*  Just in case you didn’t know, Aslan the Lion does represent Jesus Christ.    Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Light.  No one comes to the Father but through me.”  Though Narnia isn’t exactly God the Father, there was only one way to get there… and that was if one was being called because of a great need.

Think about it.  Every time any of the children entered Narnia, Aslan knew.  At least half of the time, he called for them himself.  In “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” it was the prophesy of the four thrones.  In “Prince Caspian” it was Susan’s Horn.  In “Voyage of the Dawn Treader” it was Caspian’s quest.  In “The Silver Chair” it was the lost prince.  In “The Last Battle” it was the fight for Narnia’s last true king and the True Aslan.  (Though you can’t count “The Magician’s nephew” since that’s basically the story of Adam and Eve, nor can you count “The Horse and His Boy” as that was set in the Golden Reign of the four Pevensies.) Things only went right in the end because Aslan and the children worked together in some way, shape, or form… no matter how minute it may have seemed.  Aslan shows up in all of the books, even if it’s only for the briefest period of time.

So what is “The Wardrobe” for us, and how can we find it?

Well, it’s simple really: so simple it’s sitting there right in front of our faces.  Our Wardrobe – our doorway to the wonders of God – our open window to freedom and all of God’s love for us – is Jesus Himself.  He is the bridge.  He IS the Wardrobe… the passage into God’s arms.  The salvation message in the books and the Wardrobe itself both represent similar things.

Aslan is the one who calls us to Narnia – through the wardrobe or by any other way.  He is our open door.

Jesus is the one who calls us to Himself and to the Father.  He is our path to God.

It’s all one in the same.

So when Lucy peered into the wardrobe for the first time, was it really the fur coats that made her step inside and reach for something beyond her site (in this case, supposedly the back of the wardrobe) or was there something more behind it?  Perhaps she didn’t know it… Perhaps it was the most surprising thing to ever, ever happen to her… but I like to think there was more reason behind it than that.  In the books Lucy asks Aslan if he’s in the other world (our world) too.  He says, “Yes, but there I have a different name.”  He also says, “You have come to know me here so that you may know me better there.”

No, I don’t believe it was an accident that Lucy stepped beyond the door of the wardrobe.  She may not have known why she did it, but that doesn’t make it accidental.

Christ calls to us and longs for us, and wants to draw us to himself… just like he drew Lucy to him.

Christ is the wardrobe.  And just like the Wardrobe, it’s not so hard to find Him if one looks.  After all, He’s always right there with his arms wide open just waiting to welcome us in…

Just like the Wardrobe door.


(I hope this all made sense.  I struggled with a few of the spots.  If anything feels “muddy” to you, please let me know and I’ll try to clarify.  For something I’ve been considering for quite a while, it sure was difficult to get it written down in coherent thoughts.  Please feel free to post your own comments below.  I look forward to hearing from  you.)


Thursday, December 2, 2010

No, I have not forgotten you!!!

Hello everyone.  You've probably been wondering where in the world I've been.  After all, it's been over a week and I haven't posted anything!!!  I haven't updated, I haven't sent things out, I haven't... uh... finished Nano... Oh, but that's over now, so I'm good.  :D

I'll have to ask your forgiveness though.  It's finals time and school is really crackin' down.  But I have made a few updates, with more lining up for the near future.  The first update is that I finally, FINALLY set up the page for the winner of "The Amazing First Chapter Contest".  Congratulations, Squeaks!  So everyone mosey on over there and check it out.

The second thing is that I also finally have all of the addresses to those who won books in the contest.  Squeak's gave her choice to Jake, who chose "Watership Down" (to better research the habits and cultures of rabbits so he will be more capable to defend himself against them. :D).  Adele Treskillard chose "Dragon Rider.  And that leaves Galadriel who won "Submerged".  I'll hopefully be sending the books out tomorrow, (if I can get out of school before the post office closes).  If not tomorrow, then probably early next week.

The third thing is that, even though it is ridiculously belated, I am still trying to plug ahead with "Narnia Week".    The series will consist of three posts... although it may actually be elongated over a period of three weeks, rather than one.  Because of school.  And Christmas.  And any other excuse I can think of off the top of my head.  lol!

The posts are titled:

1) Finding the Wardrobe
2) Following the Lion
3) Facing the Witch

Hope you'll all check back in to read them!

In other news, the finalists for the "Look Like Obbin" Contest are up on   All the voting instructions are on the site, so vote, vote, vote!  And vote for me too!!!  XD  But you can post multiple votes as well, so if there are more than one entrant that you know, feel free to vote for them too.

With an Ink-stained flourish,


Monday, November 22, 2010

The Blue and Green of Things

I'VE GONE BLUE!  And my hair has turned green.  It's weird, I know, but hey... it was definitely an interesting experience.

And why do I now look like a strange blue creature from another planet?

Because that's what I'm trying to be!

It's all for Brock Eastman's contest, "Look like Obbin", a little blue character from  his book called "Taken" coming out in 2011.  What you have to do is take a photo of yourself and then go into your favorite art program and digitally make your skin blue and your hair green.  If you don't know how to do that, click here.  Brock Eastman explains an easy way to do it, and also gives you the other info you need to enter the contest.  But hurry!  The contest is ending soon, and you don't want to miss out on the chance at winning really cool prizes:  a $50 gift card, a signed copy of "Taken", and a cool Obbin T-shirt!

Now I'll tell you a little bit about this picture.  At first all I was trying to do was exactly what was required: digitally turn my skin blue and hair green.  Then I thought, "Hey!  I've been messing around with digital art, and I don't think I'm half bad... I could probably repaint this!"  So that's what I did.... for most of it, anyway. The hair and the face are completely repainted, as well as part of the shirt and the arms.  I wanted to keep the necklace on so the neck wasn't redone, but I did add highlight and shadow to make it blend better with the rest of the painting.  :D  Almost all of this picture was repainted in GIMP with a Wacom Tablet.  I really enjoyed messing around with it.  Hope y'all like it!  :D

The Long Awaited Review: "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader"

Well, here it is at last folks: the long awaited review of the new movie “Voyage of the Dawn Treader” due out in theatres December 10th and the first post in “Narnia Week”.  Yes, I’ve dedicated this entire week on “The Pen and Parchment” to Narnia.  As some of you know, I got a big surprise last week when I received an email stating that I had been chosen to go to a pre-screening of the movie before it came out.  How often does that happen, right?  The screening was last Thursday in Minnesota, which is a good 8 hour drive from where I live in Central Illinois.  There were a couple of times when I didn’t have any clue how I was going to get out there, or if I was going to get out there at all though I really, really, really wanted to go.  But then a friend of mine decided that she wouldn’t let me miss this opportunity and we drove up to Minnesota and back all in one day: then she went to work the next morning and I went to school.  We were both extremely tired, and she was much more tired than I was because she stayed up to help her husband with the directions while I napped on and off in the back seat.  But it was great!  She’s never read the books (naughty, naughty Anne!  Lol! :D)  but she thought the movie was excellent.

So here is my review.  Let’s start with the basics, shall we?  Most people know the story of “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” but for those of you who don’t, here’s the basic summary:

Lucy and Edmund are forced to stay with their intolerable cousin, Eustace Scrubb, when their parents are on a business trip in America.  In Lucy’s bedroom there is a portrait of a beautiful ship sailing on deep blue waters, and one day, as the siblings are musing over the painting, they and their cousin are sucked in through the frame and end up back in Narnia.  The ship is called “The Dawn Treader”, the first ship built in Narnia for hundreds of years, and it is run by King Caspian himself whom Lucy, Edmund, and their older siblings, Peter, and Susan, helped put on the throne.  Caspian set out from Narnia to find the Seven Telmerine Lords, friends of his father whom his uncle Miraz banished from Narnia during his tyrannical reign.  Lucy and Edmund are only too happy to help in the expedition, though Eustace has other ideas in mind.  Along the way they have many adventures as they search for the missing lords, discovering many different and magical lands populated with friends and foes alike.  Perhaps, if they keep sailing, they’ll even come to the land of Aslan himself! But there’s only one way to find out…

Ok, that was a rather interesting summary.  I haven’t read the book in ages, you see, but it is my absolute favorite of the series so I figured I knew enough about it to just wing it.  :D

So now, back to the movie. 

The first question you are probably all asking is, “was it better than ‘Prince Caspian’”.  The answer is quite simply, “yes”.  :)  Was it as good as “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe”?  Uh… I’ll let you make your own opinions.  (yes, I am that cruel.  Mwahahahaha!!!)

The graphics and special effects were absolutely stupendous!  Beautiful, really… just gorgeous!  And I was told that what I was watching wasn’t quite the finished product yet, so all the more reason to go see it again when it comes out in December.  The ship looked just like I imagined it too… and that’s saying a lot, because I have very specific images come to mind when I read a description: I like it that way.  And for everyone who’s curious about Eustace and the Dragon?  Amazing.  I don’t think there’s another word to describe it.  That was, by far, my most favorite part of the film.  And there were quite a few good parts.  :D  As for the White Witch – yes, they did bring her back… AGAIN – but it was done very well.  It didn’t feel forced or out of place at all, like it did in the movie, “Prince Caspian”.  It worked well.

The only problem I really had with the movie was that they messed with the plot again.  I won’t tell you what they did: you’ll have to figure that out on your own.  *cruel grin*.  But they did mess with it.  As a stickler for the books, I wasn’t too happy with some of the changes.  Admittedly, some of them were much need and were absolutely awesome!  But others…  there were just those spots… those spots that ate at me through the entire program, slowly, slowly chipping at my satisfaction.

Eh, I’ll stop complaining.  :D  Don’t let me discourage any of you: it really was a fest of awesome awesomeness!  Except for those few parts…

Ok, I’ll shut-up now.  :D

In other words, you should all go see it as soon as it comes out in theatres without delay!  I’m sorry this review is so vague, but I’m not supposed to give details.  Hopefully my mysteriousness peaks enough interest that you’ll be running to the theatres on December 10th.  They are getting better!  And if this movie was anything to go by, the next will be even better.