Red Lettering

Stories will not be written easily. A story without a heart is dead, and the only place it will get a heart is from the author.

Rooglewood Press Fairy Tale Contest 2017

  • Happy June, my friends! Springtime is beginning to wane and ever-impatient summer is pushing at the barrier between. Along with summer comes many things, like mosquitoes, watermelons, and exciting writing contests.

It was back in 2015 when last Rooglewood Press last unveiled a cover reveal and drove the internet to excitement with their previous “Five Something Something Contest”, Five Magic Spindles Now the time has come for it to happen again, one last time. Some of you may be familiar with their previous contests: this one, and this one, and this one.

The books? Five retellings of well-known fairy tales by five different authors.

The challenge? To be one of those authors.

THE FINAL FAIRY TALE CONTEST
Rooglewood Press invites you to join the adventure of the Five Poisoned Apples creative writing contest!
Cover model/photographer Wynter Clark.
Cover design by Julia Popova

Writing Prompt: 10/28/2016

Origin: “Riversong,” by the Von Trapp Children, “The von Trapp Children Volume II” (Lyrics below)

Feeling inspired? Write something from this prompt! Actually, I’m aware that this video might be a tad difficult to write one thing from, so I’m posting this particular writing prompt more as a general inspiration. But if you do write something, I would love to see it! You can leave a response in the comments, or move the prompt to your blog, and leave a link in the comments! 

Lyrics: 

Shule aroon [“walk, my love”] away to waters by the sea;
It’s a churning yearning river!

You can cast your burdens there upon the glass;
Just a skip of a polished pebble.

Dreamers, lovers, listen sweetly:
Let the waters wash away your tears.

Poets, teachers, listen keenly:
Wonder not, your course is led by God.

Sing and dance!
Do a reel to the tune of a babbling tale.
Do you heal to the tune of a babbling tale?

Let your heart be glad.
Let the song of the river take you away!
Let the song of the river take 
you away!

Don’t let the sun set on hearts of stone.
Turn to the river of life.

Wisdom and nature are true to God.
Be it river or tree set you free!
Go with a heart full of grace.

Come now, sing and dance.
Do a reel to the tune of a babbling tale.
Do you heal to the tune of a babbling tale?

Let your heart be glad.
Let the song of the river take you away!

Dance to the tune; sing to the moon;
aye shule aroon; oh, shule aroon.
Let the river take you!

 

Dear Female Warriors

Dear Female Warriors l craftingstoriesinred.wordpress.com

Dear Female Warriors (and eavesdropping authors),

Occasionally, there comes a time where women must become warriors. Those times are few and far between (and usually come up because your author is borderline feminist), but without a doubt, they do occur. As you sit in your armor (which has been properly constructed to guard your internal organs, not to look cool—right?), in the midst of your war camp reading this letter, you have apparently come upon such a time: you, a woman, must become a warrior. Possibly no one else stepped up and became a warrior at this time; perhaps you are the Chosen One who is destined to save the world; perhaps you are in a unique political situation which forces you to be the one to take the reins and lead your country to victory. Perhaps you live in a world where female soldiers are the norm (in which case, you’re likely not in the midst of your war camp wearing medieval-style armor), or you’ve been drafted into the military; perhaps you’re simply a young lady who ran away from home and joined the army.

Whatever your reasons, you’re the heroine, so you’ve probably made the right choice for your situation. If you haven’t made the right choice, you’ll surely figure it out later. I won’t ask for your reasons; the point of this letter is to slightly increase your chance of survival until you either have won the war, or regretted your choice and returned home to be reunited with your estranged parents.

First off—your clothing choices. We covered most of the problems in another post a few years ago, so this will be brief.

Remember that you are a female: you’re most likely smaller and weaker than most men. Consider carefully what kind of armor you’ll wear, and remember that on the battlefield, sometimes lighter is more practical for you. Remember (and remind your authors) that research is vital when picking what armor you will wear. What you know about the weight or flexibility of medieval armor may be incorrect.

If you do decide to wear armor, remember: your armor is meant to protect your vital organs, not make you look nice. I promise, no one is going to be admiring you in battle; to quote Father Christmas, “battles are ugly affairs”. Everyone is fighting for their lives, attacking, counterattacking, being thrown from place to place and focused only on the person they happen to be fighting right at that moment. People just don’t have time to be admiring your fancy armor. What the do have time for is noticing that you’re not wearing vital protection over your important internal organs. If you have the funding, by all means, get your armor custom-made so that it fits you better; but get it made well. 

Your long hair is an accident waiting to happen. You are not an indestructible Warrior Elven Princess*, and your hair will not fly out majestically behind you. Instead, it will get tangled; it will get caught; it will be grabbed by your opponent. As a woman soldier, you need to consider this, even when you aren’t on the battlefield. If you are the one leading the battle, expect assassins; if you have no political power—did I mention you’re the heroine?—expect assassins anyway. Either keep your hair tightly put up, or cut it off.

Skirts are most likely not the best choice for battle gear. That said, as a female soldier in what is most likely a Young Adult novel, you might be under the misconception that skirts get in the way, or that you can’t move in them. Madame, you are wrong. For ages, people—men, even— have worn robes, skirts, or kilts, even into battle. In formal clothing, you may have trouble with overly large or overly tight skirts, but simple skirts are unlikely to restrict your mobility too much as you go about day-to-day life.

If you’ve decided to become a warrior, you’ve surely trained. You’ve spent hours learning to fight, strengthening yourself, forcing your body to become a weapon. Now, you’re probably ready to fight. But you’re still female. 

Where I come from, typical males are not only taller than typical females; they also naturally stronger and weigh more. This may be different depending on your race and location, but it will be the case for most humanoids. You may have trained hard. You may be strong. You may have even trained hard enough to be the best fighter anyone has seen this side of Pluto.

But the moment you meet a male foe who has the same amount of training and dedication as you, you have met someone who is not your equal—you’ve met a fighter greater than you. Always look for unconventional ways of fighting that will turn the fight to your advantage; don’t allow yourself to get locked into a combat that depends on your size and strength. If you’re a high-profile political lady who is leading your armies into battle, consider investing in a bodyguard to help you with the aforementioned assassins. There is no shame in recognizing your limits and finding ways to compensate for them (so you can stop giving me your typical warrior-female glare and snappish, “Thank you, I think I can manage”).

Another undeniable limit that you’ll need to be aware of is your emotional state. Whether or not females feel emotions more strongly than males is a question that can be disagreed on and debated for ages; what is not in question is that females feel emotions differently than males. And in many females, that makes it very difficult to fight in a war (not to say that men are wired to go around violently ending each other, either; no human (and therefore, I assume no other sentient creatures, since I have seen no data suggesting otherwise) was intended to fight in a war, and it deeply effects and changes any person who must do it).

Female warrior, you are about to go through the most grueling, emotionally and physically challenging thing you have ever gone through. You will be tested on every level. You will break and break again in the dead of the night when the trauma of what you’re going through is going to come back to you, keeping you awake though every exhausted bone in your body begs for rest. You will see comrades and friends slain before you; you will slay your opponents. Your body will be unbalanced, allowing your emotions to run through you more fiercely. You will forget what it means to be okay. 

 

 

It’s true that some people handle stress and trauma better than others. You’re probably one of those people (congratulations! There are some benefits to having an author who doesn’t want to write hard PTSD). But you were not designed for war, and on top of everything else, your emotions are going to try to kill you, too. Isn’t being a woman fun?  (Sorry, males—I can’t write from experience for you, but I’m sure you have a great time with your emotions, too.)

You’re going to need to learn to balance your emotions, especially if you are one of the leaders of the army. You need to think rationally. You’ll need to learn how to recognize when your emotions are beginning to get out of control, and learn how to rein them back in. Learn to put off the emotional breakdown until after the immediate crisis is over. Recognize that your emotions are far out of control, insist on your author telling this unwanted part of your story, and then do your best to get them under control. When it comes down to it, you either must learn to recognize and control your emotions, or you will break.

Warriors, have you ever wondered why so many people seem to have romantic subplots in the midst of their end-of-the-world scenarios? It’s because emotions run high in times of deep stress, and people forget to be concerned about how awkward it is. Therefore, I stress to you here my last and most important point: Say no to mixed-gender divisions. 

On top of everything else, the very last thing that you need is a romantic subplot. Your emotions are out of control; so are the emotions of everyone else in your division. If you managed to be placed in a division with honorable men and an honorable system set up, that helps—but only with about half of the problem. Men and women like each other. They really like to impress each other. With a war going on and everything going wrong, you dearly need your people to not be attempting to impress one another with feats of bravery. You dearly need your people to not be competing for anyone’s affections. Because emotions are at peak strength, if you place men and women together under harsh circumstances, fighting side-by-side, living in close proximity to one another when they’re not on the field, couples will form; competitions will follow. Your units will cease to work together.

Aside from the potential disastrous romances that form in a mixed-gender unit, there are other problems. Notably, the difference in the physical capabilities of men and women will endanger the unit; part of training is to teach your groups to work together, at the same pace. Having both men and women in your group will cause men to be faster at some tasks, and women faster at others, putting the whole group in danger.

Another issue is that honorable men do not allow women to die. Several days ago, while conversing with a friend of mine, the subject of men and women fighting together came up. My friend said that part of the reason that’s a bad idea is because honorable men do not allow women to die; he stated that, if two men are fighting together, one can allow the other to die if they both see it’s the best thing for the cause for which they fight. However, an honorable man can’t allow a woman comrade to die. If you set up a group with men and women fighting side by side, when it comes down to actual combat, the men will be more focused on the women around them: their focus will be on keeping the women safe rather than advancing the cause for which you fight.

Distracted soldiers are dead soldiers.

Warrior female, if you must go to war, do everything in your power to be assigned to a female-only division. If you are in leadership position, set up your military so that men and women are separated into different divisions; not only will you bypass the problem of incidents from dishonorable men in your military (because there are always dishonorable men in every military), you’ll most likely increase the success rate of your army. If you are only a common soldier with no rank, insist that your commanders look at this situation. However, in spite of the fact that your commanders probably want to win the war, they’ll almost certainly ignore your request, because they’re military commanders (in their defense, completely rearranging an entire army is quite a hassle right as you’re going into a war).

Though a good deal of these suggestions won’t apply to those of you who have made the decision to go into battle disguised as a man, I hope that this letter will be of some assistance to the rest of you. Be safe. Win your war. Make it home to your estranged parents.

Sincerely,

Athelas Hale
(Writer and President of the AfPoCR)

 

*If you are an indestructible Warrior Elven Princess, why did you just spend time to read this article when you can ignore all the advice herein, and not only succeed in all of your battles, but look fabulous whilst doing so?

(For my little sister who came over while I was writing and wanted me to put a smiley face in: 🙂 )

Writing Prompt: 06-03-2016

Origin“Dawn Patrol” by Sandara on DeviantArt. Note that I know neither this artist, nor any of her other work, so beware if you decide to look her up.

Feeling inspired? You undoubtedly know what I’m about to say, so you can just skip this paragraph. For any newcomers, though… Write something from this prompt! I would love to read what you write! You can either leave a response in the comments, or move the blog to your blog and leave in a link in the comments! I cannot wait to see what you come up with!

Preparing for Camp

Preparing for CampEvery year—sometimes twice or thrice a year—my family experiences an upheaval to our schedule as a few of the writers in the house participate in a National Novel Writing Month Event—whether the National Novel Writing Event in November, or the two Camp NaNoWriMo events in April and July. A good portion of you writers know what they are, how they work, and what I think of them. For those of you who don’t, you can click the websites for the first two, and look at my other NaNoWriMo posts for the second. NaNoWriMo events are some of the most exciting and helpful things for writers, aside from writer’s conferences and publishing deals, and NaNoers join up from all corners of this world to write (occasionally a writer will participate from Narnia or Arwiar, but internet signal is bad there, so it’s pretty infrequent).

Some writers come away with 50,000 words of nonsensical words, and others come away with a workable first draft (one friend of mine also uses NaNo events to edit, but I’m fairly certain that she has superpowers, so I wouldn’t recommend attempting this for the rest of us). Sometimes we succeed, and sometimes we don’t; either way, it tends to be okay. Either we gain twenty thousand words of story, or we learn something.

For most of the five years leading up to this post, I’ve come away from a NaNoWriMo event with decent words. Never perfect words, but decent ones for my stage in writing and in drafting. In November of 2015, I came away with a fifty thousand useless words, mostly beginnings which I quickly marked as useless. Among those words (which I assure you has found a dusty, shadowy corner of my hard drive to hide in), I learned something.

You can’t SotP it all the way.*

While I doubt any of you planners have this problem, sometimes us seat-of-the-pants writers occasionally say, “Oh, we don’t plan; why would we need to know this before we start writing?”

From my experiences during NaNoWriMo last year, I learned that there are certain things that you absolutely must be clear on before you begin any sort of intensive writing.

The Camp NaNoWriMo website just went live for July, but before you begin writing your grand novel, there are certain things you need to work out.

Your characters. You don’t necessarily have to know everything about your characters before you begin— even hard planners don’t do that. Characters change and develop more deeply as the story progresses; you’ll never know a character fully until they’ve come to the end of their story (unless, that is, they’re a two-dimensional Mary Sue, which is to be avoided at all costs). Whatever method you use to develop your characters should be done before the month starts to avoid needless frustration on your part. You can either develop your characters before going in to draft one, or you can develop them in post. Doing it in the beginning is always easier.

One piece of vital information about your character is their character motivation. What is their want that drives them to do what they do? What thing do they need? The two things are rarely the same thing, but occasionally they’re directly in conflict. A character’s want/need drives all aspects of their action. You can know what their favorite type of ice cream is, but it will never help you as much as the simple knowledge of what their goal is.

Your setting. Your setting will influence all of your novel—your plot, your character, the way other people interact with your characters. Your setting includes everything from your political and cultural climate to your actual physical setting. Politics always play a part in world-changing events; be aware of what is going on in the background.

Before you start writing, know what sort of region your story is set in, to avoid accidentally switching around mid-way. Consider which setting is best for your story before you begin telling. It can always fixed in editing, but again, it’s easier to set out with the knowledge than to have to change things after you’ve finished. Avoid having to edit out guns because you decided partially through the story that your tale would better be served without pistols.

Your concept. Clarify your concept. Know what your story is about—if you write strongly from themes, consider what your themes may be (though most people who include themes in their story find out half-way through, it still may do you some good to think about it before you start). Think about the direction that you want your story to go in, even if you don’t plot it out entirely. Having a general idea of where you’re headed helps to keep you on track.

Your concept can include your original idea, what sort of story you want to tell (a war story, a coming of age story, a space story?), any major plot points or plot twists; it can be however in-depth you want it to be. Just be aware of what sort of story you want to tell before you start trying to tell it.

How in-depth you go depends on your personal preference. If you feel like you need to plot all the way to “The End”, by all means, do so! If you’re more comfortable with little planning, there’s no need to plan it all the way out. But always, always remember.

You can’t SotP it all the way through.

Are any of you planning to do Camp this July? What is your plan for the month? Planning or SotPing?

*For those who are unfamiliar with this particular writer term, SotP stands for the phrase “Seat of the Pants”, meaning that a writer goes into their writing with little to no planning or idea of where the story is going.

Writing Prompt: 05-27-2016

Origin“Baba” by Beck Storie. Note that I don’t know this artist, nor her other work, so beware if you decide to search for her other work (which can be done by clicking the name of the picture, as that will take you straight to her DeviantArt page where she posted this it).

Feeling inspired? Write something from this prompt! You can leave a comment with what you wrote, or move the prompt to your blog and leave a link in the comments. I can’t wait to see what you come up with! (I suppose you could also lock any writing you do for this prompt away in a dusty old folder in the farthest, darkest corner of your computer, but where’s the fun in that?)

Keep all your responses clean, please. Enjoy your writing, O readers!

The Spontaneous Kiss (and other poor romantic decisions)

As a child, I read frequently, various books and of various genres (as a slightly older child, I still read various books, but my genres tend less toward slightly realistic fiction for seven-year-olds). Of some of the oldest memories I have regarding reading, I recall there was one series I read multiple books in—I can’t remember the name, but it was one of the aforementioned slightly realistic books for seven-year-olds—that chronicled the life of a young girl from childhood to motherhood.

That is, the series chronicled her life from childhood to motherhood; I was done at the first sign of any romance.

The Spontaneous Kiss (and other poor romantic decisions)

 

My years of bailing out at the first romantic glance now long since over, I’ve found that many authors, whatever genre they write, have a desire to include romance. Occasionally the romance is fabulously well done; frequently I tolerate it; every now and then I’ll make snarky comments about it for weeks later.

Throughout the ones that I like, there are a few solid aspects that always make their way into it –  sweet romances are the best, with respect for one another and an intact brain even while they fall in love (what a novel idea!).

As with most things, there is no easy-to-follow formula for the perfect romance, whether in your story or in your story. However, for your enjoyment and for the education of your characters (and hopefully the improvement of your romance subplots), I’ve compiled a list of seven poor decisions I see most often in the romances that dance (by moonlight, most likely) across the pages.

(Not even mentioning blatant immorality on the list because I know my readers are amazing, noble people who have all that down already.)

Decision Number One

For years, The Spontaneous Kiss, our starring guest, has been considered a good option for any  young, dashing hero. In any situation where he loves a young, charming lady, but has yet to tell her that he loves her, the spontaneous kiss is clearly the option. It’s romantic, and very straightforward. The girl will clearly not only understand everything better now, she’ll also appreciate it and cherish the memory for years to come.

Well… no. No. No. 

There have been a few instances in real life of this working, some love stories that I’ve heard which began with a spontaneous kiss and turned into something good and beautiful, but those are the exceptions that make the rule. The rules, in this case, are don’t touch someone where they don’t want to be touched. Don’t surprise someone by taking them to their own, unplanned wedding. Don’t kiss someone suddenly and take away their ability to say no.

If a person is kissed suddenly, they’ve lost their ability to say no; there’s no way to decline the offer if one is not made. To be kissed is a very intimate thing, a special act that should have the unmistakable agreement of both parties involved. To do otherwise is to take a beautiful thing and twist it. Because yes, O charming hero, she will remember it for all of her life, but not at all in the way you want. (Also, you may remember for the rest of your life how solidly she punched you.)

Decision Number Two

“No,” she says. But clearly she means… “Yes.” Not to be dissuaded by her apparent lack of interest, our young hero stalks her, creates opportunities to “accidentally” run into her, follows her through whatever dark forest she happens to be questing through, because eventually, she’ll change her mind and realize how much she should love him. Congratulations, my good man. You’ve become the perfect embodiment of Stalker Love.

This one goes back to basic respect and, quite frankly, you can get arrested for that for good reason. It’s a disturbing tendency and, if you can’t respect her to say no, how do you expect to love her for the rest of your life? If she can’t trust you to respect her, how do you expect her to love you for the rest of her life? By all means, go talk to her, but talking to someone in a polite and respectful manner is a far cry from stalking her.

Decision Number Three

The charming, beautiful young lady tends more toward this particular decision—and, thankfully, I have yet to see this one in too many of the books that I read, but it’s still there, lurking, a long-dreaded beast from the shadowy land of 1940s soap operas. In this case, someone attempts to re-attract their lover by way of jealousy, flirting with another man to get their man to want them more. The trouble here is, any lass with a fully functioning brain (and I dearly hope that your charming, beautiful main character has one of those) will see in a heartbeat that this is only bound to cause trouble. People will get hurt; emotionally and physically. The situation will quickly grow sticky, and you’ll find yourselves trapped in the endless drama of a bad 1940s show. You’ve been warned, O charming main character.

Decision Number Four

Ever since Beauty and the Beast, people have been falling in love with the idea of Stockholm Love. As with the last one, this mainly affects the pretty lasses who are kidnapped by the male (who is usually remarkably handsome, as if only the remarkably handsome males turn to a life of—mostly nobly-inspired—crime). Obviously, she’s a little rattled by this, but after she regains her cool, she slowly starts to realize… she’s falling in love with him. This can be brought about by various different things; he’s either very noble and kind for a creepy kidnapping psycho, he’s ruggedly handsome, or he’s tragic and broken, and she wants to do something about that.

I admit that this particular poor decision would most likely be me. I have a tendency to see brokenness and try to fix it, so, O sweet and pretty lasses, listen to me when I tell you: it’s not a good idea. Yes, your author will probably see this through and he’ll turn good and you’ll live happily ever after, but only because that’s your author’s tragic hero character. If you are in a situation where a man is holding you captive, your first thought should be to not get killed, and then to getting yourself and any other hostages out of that situation. Your emotions are not reliable in periods of high stress and there are far, far better times to be falling in love. Always avoid Stockholm Love.

Decision Number Five

Set in a medieval land far, far away, there are two kingdoms or two houses, both high in power. A young lady and young man are of the same age, and to secure an alliance (or maybe, just occasionally, because they’re both young and unmarried and need a spouse), their parents arrange a marriage between them. It’s friendly, it’s uncomplicated, they know who they’re going to get married to, and there should be no problems in a culture where this is clearly the norm.

Except! There’s another two people, also (surprisingly) of the same age; also unmarried, and most likely remarkably good-looking (are we starting to see a trend here?). In spite of the fact that both the young lady and the young man are aware that they’ve been promised in marriage to another, they both seek to spend time with the other person, noting as they begin to develop feelings for them, and decide to pursue a romantic relationship with a person other than their betrothed.

Please don’t do this. If you are promised to another, it is your duty to guard your heart and your mind from straying, just as if you were already married. If you have reason to want to avoid marrying your betrothed, by all means, work it out – but don’t fall in love with someone else when your hand belongs to another! This will cause endless issues after your marriage.

Note that this scenario usually works out in stories, but only because the writer has made it their goal to speak out against the oppressive practice of arranged marriages, which was not only not oppressive, but also went out of style in the west long before any of them were born.

Decision Number Six

After a relationship has already been established between two characters, whether they’re engaged or simply officially “together”, there comes up the topic of kissing. Specifically, for a good many characters, frequent and passionate kissing while in dangerous situations. 

Kissing is going to completely destroy any situational awareness. Off the top of my head, I can imagine a hundred better places for kissing than the side room the characters ducked in to as they infiltrate the villain’s lair.

Save the kissing for romantic moments and avoid getting a spear thrust through your characters while they’re distracted.

Decision Number Seven

One particular trend that always seems to pop up in romances, especially of the Young Adult variety, is Instant Love. 

You were expecting me to quickly bash this one’s head in and send it home robbed of any power it had over these stories, weren’t you? Well, I’m afraid that’s not my plan of action for this particular one. Instead, I’d rather tell you a story.

Two decades and a few years ago, there was a young man, and a young woman. He had just gotten out of the military, and as he found himself in the mall where the young lady worked a cart, he still wore the paint-flecked pants in which he had painted his army barracks. From across the mall he saw her, and thought she was much too pretty for him to pass by without talking to her, so he made his way across the mall. Upon reaching the cart, his eyes fell on a tiny “Now Hiring” sign and – though he was not looking for another job – he asked for an application.

The young lady told him that she was doing interviews that very day, and she interviewed him on the spot. She remembers him as being unbearably shy during that first interview; he didn’t even meet her eyes once, but at the end of the interview she told him that if he would come back the next day and show her that he could wear something other than green-stained sweatpants, he could have the job.

She never thought he would return. But he left that cart, and from that very mall, he bought a new pair of clothes with which to return the next day. He got the job.

And he married that girl. A few years and a couple of children later, I was born.

My point of the story is this: there is a difference between “Instant Infatuation” and “Potential Love.” Potential love is to see someone or talk to someone and be very aware of the fact that you could, and would like to, fall in love with them. Instant infatuation is the “Instant Love” that so many YA novels use as a poor substitute for a well-written romantic subplot. If a person can take one look at someone and instantly be head-over-heels in love, there is a very simple explanation: it’s not love, and it won’t last.

In the end, a love that lasts is really what we want for romances – whether in-story, or out.

Samara’s Peril Blog Tour: Book Review and Author Interview

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When news arrives that Emperor Daican has been in contact with his chief war strategist, it signals potential doom for the country of Samara. Determined to intervene, the resistance in Landale, headed by Lady Anne, embark on a covert mission in hopes of unearthing further information. However, a shocking discovery leads to complications no one could have foreseen.

Armed with their newfound knowledge, they set out for Samara to warn the king. War is inevitable, and they must face two desperate battles—one on the walls of Samara’s great stronghold, and the other on the battlefield of Jace’s heart, where victory might only be achievable through great sacrifice.

Samara's Peril

As a few of you blog readers may remember, over the last two years I’ve been following a series called The Ilyon Chronicles, reviewing here for you all of the books that have come out so far (Resistance, The King’s Scrolls, and the prequel novella Half-Blood). Now I have the pleasure of once again reviewing the newest book, Samara’s Peril, But first, the author herself has agreed to an interview! Folks, please welcome Jaye L. Knight!

 

  1. Do you do your writing with a story-inspired playlist? (If so, might we see a song from your Samara’s Peril playlist if we ask particularly nicely?)

Jaye L. Knight: Music is a huge inspiration for me. I do have a lot of character “theme songs” and a few songs for particular scenes. I don’t have a playlist dedicated to each book, but I do have an Ilyon Chronicles playlist here on YouTube. One song I do have specifically for Samara’s Peril is On My Own by Ashes Remain. It fits the book perfectly.

 

  1. What are three random facts about you that most people wouldn’t know?

Jaye L. Knight: Let’s see.

  1. I adore old trucks from the late 1960s to early 1970s. It’s my dream to someday own an aqua and white classic Chevy truck.
  2. Over the last few years, I’ve developed a lightning phobia. I’m not sure why. Sharp lightning strikes just freak me out.
  3. And, lastly, I’ve never broken a bone. Well, I don’t think. I did smash my finger really bad once and might have broken it, but I never went in for it, so I’m not sure.

 

  1. What’s the most interesting experience you’ve had while writing?

Jaye L. Knight: I’m not sure I can think of a specific time, but the most interesting experiences I always have while writing are when my characters completely act on their own and something happens in the story that I wasn’t planning. This happens a lot with characters falling in love. A lot of the time, I don’t see it coming. Most recently that happened while writing book five of Ilyon Chronicles. One of my guy characters started talking to this girl he sort of knew, and suddenly it was like, wait a minute. You like her, don’t you? That unexpected revelation led to a whole novella that takes place between books 5 and 6.

 

  1. If you could live anywhere in your storyworld, where would it be, and why?

Jaye L. Knight: I would live in Dorland, with the cretes. I love the crete culture. It’s really a mix of a lot of my favorite things. Native American culture, Elves, tree houses, dragons. Ever since I was little, I wanted to live in a tree house like on the old Swiss Family Robinson movie, so that was big inspiration for how the cretes live. Plus they wear a lot of leather, and I like leather. (This is coming from a historical reenactor.) And they have dragons!

 

  1. What is one question that you’ve always wished someone would ask you in an interview, and no one ever has? And what is your answer to it?

Jaye L. Knight: Good question. I’m not sure, but I’m surprised I haven’t been asked more what the L. stands for in my pen name. I know I mentioned it once on my blog, but I’m not sure how widely known it is. So, for anyone who doesn’t know, it stands for Lee. Jaye Lee Knight. Why? Well, the L sounded good in the name, so I stuck it in there. Then, after thinking about it for a while, I decided on Lee because I really like the name and it too sounded good. And hey, it’s like Jeremy Lee Renner. That’s cool. Bonus fact: I’m a Hawkeye fangirl. 😉

About the Author

 Jaye L. Knight is an award-winning author, homeschool graduate, and shameless tea addict with a passion for Christian fantasy. Armed with an active imagination and love for adventure, Jaye weaves stories of truth, faith, and courage with the message that even in the deepest darkness, God’s love shines as a light to offer hope. She has been penning stories since the age of eight and resides in the Northwoods of Wisconsin.

You can connect with Jaye on her website, blog, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Etsy.

 

Book Review

Characters – A good portion of the characters in this book were recurring characters from the last two books of the series. Those characters stayed consistent, though I did feel like we got to see less of them in this one than in previous books.

This books seemed to be more Jace’s book than the previous ones in the series, so he was the focus through most of it. That left the other characterseven the other main charactersfurther in the background, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing (except that Trask should have had more screen time. Why has Trask had so little screen time, Jaye?). Anne played a larger role in this novel, and I enjoyed seeing her have an active part in the resistance; she was just as amazing at it as anyone would have expected her to be. Holden was so remarkable, and I also found myself liking Leetra throughout this book. As in the previous books, I found Kyrin to be very relateable; perhaps slightly less so in this book, since Jace had more of the spotlight.

The newer characters were all well developed, and I’m looking forward to seeing the character arc of one in particular. There was only one point I felt like one of the characters did something out of character, but since most of the other people who have read the book disagreed with me there, perhaps it was just me.

Plot – The plot throughout this book felt slightly unconventional to me, especially the ending, but somehow it worked. I don’t know whether it was the story structure she used, but it felt somehow unfamiliar to me; in this case, it was a good thing. The author surprised me in how she ended it, but the ending also seemed to work particularly well.

I have only one complaint about the plot; one of the plot lines seemed slightly disconnected from the rest of the book to me, as though it didn’t quite belong there or didn’t affect any of the rest of the story, though it should have been a world-changer.

Setting – The setting remained consistent with the other books in the series, though we get to go somewhere we’ve never gone before: Samara.

I thought that Samara fit in very well with the world; it was very similar to the country we’ve spent the other books in (as it ought to be, since it’s very near to it), and struck me as being as Arcacia should be now, and once was.

Content  There’s war–people are injured; characters kiss; in one character’s backstory, there’s assault that leads to pregnancy, and a young man of less than noble character is a jerk toward two women. But, Jaye respects her readers. Her writing is to tell a story, and she does that; it’s not to make people vomit or cringe. Her descriptions tell the story, and are tactfully handled, so even if you have a weak stomach, you shouldn’t mind this. (A note of advice to aspiring authors: part of being a writer is about respect. For your readers, your characters, your editors. Don’t bow to the every whim of your readers, but do respect them as people and treat them with honor in the way you tell your stories.)

Summary I enjoyed Samara’s Peril and read it in a few hours (for most of that time, seated awkwardly in the kitchen on a five-gallon bucket of flour because my tablet battery was dramatically flashing the symbol of impending death and I needed to stay plugged in at that outlet). Was it my favorite of the series? No, probably not. Would I still recommend it? Most definitely.

Samara’s Peril is available now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iBooks!

Add to Goodreads

Haven’t discovered the world of Ilyon yet? Find out more at the official Ilyon Chronicles website!

And, to add just a little bit of extra excitement, I present to you

SPGiveawayBanner

– A Samara’s Peril Themed Giveaway!

Share in the excitement of the release and enter to win a themed giveaway pack! Prizes include an autographed copy of Samara’s Peril, a John 3:16 necklace by FaithWearDesigns, and a green wire dragon bookmark by Wirelings! (Giveaway is open to US residents only. Cannot be shipped internationally.)

Just click here and you’ll be taken to the giveaway page straightaway!

If you’d like to take the afternoon to visit all these lovely other blogs participating in the blog tour, I also happen to have a handy tour schedule here for you.

Friday, May 13

Saturday, May 14

Sunday, May 15

Monday, May 16

Tuesday, May 17

Wednesday, May 18

Thursday, May 19

Friday, May 20

Saturday, May 21

Writing Prompt: 03-04-2016

Origin: “The Lost World of Conan Doyle” by Max Mitenkov. I know neither this artist, nor his other art, so if you decide to go searching for his other works, beware. 

Feeling inspired? Tell this story. I would love to see whatever you write – you can leave a response in the comments, or move the prompt to your blog and leave a link in the comments! I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

(Please do keep all responses clean. I thank you greatly!)

Flash Fiction Challenge: “I was Within and Without”

Today I’m participating in Rachelle O’Neil’s Flash Fiction Challenge again. I received a very interesting prompt from Evan White: “I was Within and Without”, a quote from the 1920s novel The Great Gatsby. These words had to be found in my story at some point.

There’s a story behind this story, one of intense procrastination (and time-consuming biology), six or seven hours of working on a story one day, and two stories written from this prompt.

My first story (one with a much grander feel than the one you’re about to read), I wrote over the course of a few days, but mostly I finished it earlier this morning (because, procrastination and biology). When I finished it, it ended up at 2,363 words; 1,363 words longer than the 1,000 word limit for the Flash Fiction Challenge. For several hours, I worked to edit out those 1,363 words. With around 300 more to go, I let my sister (who had read the lengthy original version) read it again. She (indirectly) told me that the original was better.

For the sake of the story… I dropped it. If it was already worse off, I didn’t want to edit out another 300 words. I reverted that story back to the original word count and set it aside. My faithful readers, you may be able to read that story some other time.

By this time, it was around six o’ clock in the evening, three hours past the suggested deadline to post the Flash Fiction pieces. I grasped for new story ideas, came up with something, and because the day was lengthy already, made cookies (readers, cookies are always helpful) before returning and writing this new story that you are about to read.

After editing out a few words on this new Flash Fiction story, I finally have it ready to post here, with apologies to Rachelle for being late, thanks to my sister Faith, for reading my original and letting me know it was better before, and thanks to Katie Grace, for reading over the second story for me to let me know whether or not it was absolutely horrible.

Now that you know the story behind this story, I do hope you enjoy it.

I was Within And Without

  Gusts of wind rushed through the trees, the blasts of air broken only by branches flung by the wind. I ducked around trees, straightening my leather jerkin. He should have known better than to go out today. Everyone spoke of rainstorms or hurricanes, and in the cliff-strewn forests, safe ground didn’t exist. If he wasn’t somewhere dodging flying trees, he probably lay at the bottom of a ravine somewhere.

But then, that’s why I’m here.

I brushed my hair behind my back and cupped my hands around my mouth. “Matthias!”

The rain hit.

I stumbled under the force of it, the wind catching me and blowing me a few steps forward before smacking me into a tree. Water streamed down my face, blurring my vision. Keeping a hold on the tree, I blinked rapidly, scanning the area. “Matthias!

The wind snatched away my voice. I cast a glare upward in irritation. Child, where are you?

“He-elp!”

The voice, worn thin by the force of the wind, barely reached my ears. “Matthias!”

“Help!”

Ducking low and watching for branches, I sprinted toward the voice. I had to duck once under a branch that nearly snagged my hair, and the rain obscured my vision every few seconds.

When I made it to the edge of the cliff, I nearly fell off.

I scrambled back from the edge, breath catching in my throat and my brain snapping sarcastic comments. Moving more carefully, I knelt and peered over the edge.

The rain lashed at the sandstone over a thirty foot drop, tree roots protruding from the surface. Clinging to one of them, battered, rain-sodden, and gripping the strap of a blue backpack, hung Matthias.

My first glimpse of him as a boy showed him as an average twelve-year-old.

“Matthias!” I shouted.

He looked up. “Help!

“Drop the backpack!”

He shook his head, eyes wide and frightened.

I sighed, swept my dripping hair off of my face again, and scanned the surface of the sandstone. “All right,” I said. “Hold on—I’m coming!”

I slid over the edge, carefully placing my feet on roots and ledges in the sandstone. The wind smashed me against the rough wall, stealing my breath, and I dripped almost as much as the sky. Slowly, I made my way downwards, toward Matthias.  As I neared him, I could see the facial features I knew so well; younger, his hair a few shades lighter, but still him. He shivered, clutching the root with all his might.

“Keep holding on,” I said. “I’m coming.”

The wind thrust me against the sandstone and I smacked my chin against the rock. Warmth spurted out, accompanied by sharp pain. I shook water from my eyes and glanced downward.

Matthias still clung to the root.

Something moved on the edge of my vision, and I sucked in a breath. A tree limb careened through the air. I followed it with my eyes, rapidly glancing between it and the expected place of impact.

Matthias.

“Matthias, let go!”

A fall would be better than an assisted one!

Matthias looked up at me, eyes wide. The tree limb jerked in the wind, and I thought for a moment it would miss him.

It jerked back, crashing into the side of his head. His grip on the root released, and he fell.

Cursing under my breath, I scrambled down the sandstone, slipping more often than not and grasping roots to slow my fall. I hit the ground hard, stumbled, and dashed to Matthias.

Red streaked from both sides of his head, where the tree limb hit and where it smashed his face against the rock. I lifted him as best I could, grunting and grabbing his backpack as an afterthought. Surely there was a cave or sheltered area somewhere around here.

It would be just my luck if there wasn’t.

I was Within and Without. Sheltered Within a world by a depression in the ground ringed by sandstone, I fought Without for breath, life, and, if convenient, no lasting brain damage. The darkness fluctuated, sometimes deepening, but he breathed through the night.

Matthias stirred as dawn lit up the eastern sky. I lay on my back a few feet away, sore in a way both physical and far from it. But he lived; I lived. I couldn’t ask for more than that.

Matthias groaned, but as his eyes opened he quieted, gaze darting around. Suppressing a groan of my own, I rose to my feet.

Matthias stared at me for a moment before finally saying, “Thank you.” The fact that he remembered was impressive on its own; the fact that he politely thanked me added to it. “Who are you?”

I smiled, bending over and offering him a hand. “I’m Hope.”

He took it, and I helped him to his feet.

“Matthias,” he mumbled, rubbing the back of his head.

“I know.”

He glanced at me, uncertainty flickering through his eyes.

“Your books are in the bag. I think they might be ruined.”  He looked wide-eyed toward his backpack, and I laughed under my breath. “If you go straight east, you’ll be home in an hour.”

“…Thanks,” he said.

I smiled. His mannerisms, though younger and more uncertain, were as familiar to me as breathing. I took a deep breath and reached into my jerkin, withdrawing a small blue orb. “Here.”

He took it, turning it over in his hands before looking back at me.

I stared into his equally blue eyes, solemn enough that he gave me his full attention. “You’re going to save the world someday, Matthias Wendell. Don’t forget it. Learn how to use that. When you’re done with it, give it to a little girl named Nadine.”

With an irritated push at my damp hair, I turned and started toward the opening in the rock.

“Hope,” Matthias called, and I turned back. He paused. “Nadine means hope.”

I smiled and nodded. “You’re right.” With another nod and a wave, I turned and jogged off into the forest.

 

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