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.

Archive for the month “June, 2014”

Writing Prompt: 06-27-2014

Origin: “Caught by a Sunbeam”, by Josephine Wall. Do remember that, (surprise, surprise) I don’t know this artist and haven’t looked at a huge amount of her work, so if you want to look up some of her other work, keep your attention and caution in action.

Do you want to write something from this prompt? I’d love to read it! You can post a few paragraphs (or a few thousand words, or whatever you want to write) in the comments, or move it over to your blog and leave a link in the comment!

[I really look forward to being able to read anything you write from this prompt, and I expect to enjoy it very much and for my readers to also enjoy it. That said, please keep everything as clean as it gets because otherwise I will delete the comment or link to your blog.”Only what is good for building up…” If in doubt, ask. My contact information is on the About page.] 

 

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Believability: Common Injuries

In stories, everybody loves drama. Whether they’re just starting out in writing, and it’s only for the sake of drama, or they’ve been writing for years and the dramatic event serves a purpose, stories simply cannot be told without some sort of dramatic incident.

In our case–us in this instance being Fantasy, Science-Fiction, and Young Adult writers– drama often manifests itself in how a character manages to injure themselves this time.

I have read stories by beginning authors that are so full of injuries (at the end of each chapter, for instance, many people will knock out their character) that none of the cast would be able to walk away after it, or even walk ever again. That, however is a topic for another time. Instead of talking about how frequently you should injure your character, today I shall type (it is easier than talking when one is running a blog, as I’m sure most of you know) about what happens when you do injure your character.

[Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor, but I have done rather a lot of research on each injury here. I shan’t be using technical or medical terms for the sake of my readers who won’t understand, just as I didn’t. If you look up what I say, though, you’ll be able to verify it with medical terms and official information.]

Something very common in fiction, be it television shows, movies, or books, is that the character will be shot in the shoulder. (In case you were wondering, if you go to a minion training school, you’ll see person-shaped targets in the shooting areas, with the bulls-eye on their shoulder.) They’ll grimace, say “Oh no! I’ve been shot in the shoulder!” and proceed with whatever they were doing before. There was one point in a story where I saw someone bleed extensively from being shot in the shoulder, but afterwards he was perfectly fine, and even did things with that arm.

What people seem to not understand sometimes is that being shot in the shoulder is very serious.

In spite of the fact that there are no vital organs in the shoulder (unless you’re writing a novel with creatures other than humans, in which case you might find a heart in one’s shoulder–but that’s not very likely), there is a very large artery, a terribly complicated joint, and a bunch of nerves.

If your bullet hits the artery, your hero is going to bleed more than you want them to. An average adult human male has somewhere between eight to ten pints of blood in him. After losing 40 percent of one’s blood, a hero would need an immediate blood transfusion to survive.

If your bullet hits the nerves, your hero could very likely have a permanently paralyzed arm. If your hero has a bullet hit their nerve group, they’ll most likely need follow-up surgery to get their arm working at all again. They’ll likely lose all feeling in their arm, and maybe never get it back.

If your bullet hits the joint, it could shatter, and no surgeon on this earth has the ability to piece the joint back together after that. This seems to be actually the event hardest to deal with. In some stories, you’ll want your hero to have to, say, lose their arm or their ability to use their arm, because it’s part of the character development. In others, you might want your character’s arm to stay intact, as it’s kind of difficult to shoot a gun, or do other exciting action-adventure things. This has a lot of potential in stories, but most people just don’t know that it will happen.

 

Another common thing (indeed, probably more frequent), is a blow to the head strong enough to knock someone out.

Knocking people out is oftentimes an essential part to many stories. It’s considered a convenient way to get the hero out of the way without killing him or her, and without lasting effects. It provides a moment when your villain can get in while the hero is conveniently unable to do anything, but when they wake up, they’ll gasp, say, “Oh, no! I was knocked out! I need to go catch that dastardly villain who managed to get past me and do whatever his evil plan was!”

What writers need to know, though, is that a blow to the head that’s strong enough to cause unconsciousness is very serious. Aside from the normal symptom arising in fiction, memory loss, a blow to the head can cause severe long-term problems–if it doesn’t kill immediately. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of trouble arising from head injuries–so much I wouldn’t have time to finish and post this today if I went into all of them. However, there are some common ones that writer’s should know about before thrusting their character into this particular situation.

Your character could die immediately. Pretty straightforward, that, yes?

The blow might cause a dent in your hero’s skull. When a person is knocked out, it takes a hard blow. Humans have hard skulls, so it takes a lot to get past them–but once you get there, you’re going to do a lot of damage. With unconsciousness, the blow might cause the skull to cave in, which could lead to immediate death, or lasting brain damage.

A common reaction to a concussion is seizures. Your brain controls basically all of your body. It’s the place of origin, where all of the nerves go to, where all of the commands come from, and when it’s damaged, there might be problems in connecting to certain parts of your character’s body, or commands might be skewed. Your character may end up suffering from long-term seizures after a strong blow to the head.

Your hero will vomit. I know, not very glamorous is it? Vomiting is one of the most common reactions to a head injury, though. And while we can create our own worlds, our own rules, sometimes it’s just best to stick with the way it is in our world.

Your character might suffer from lasting mood swings. With the brain being the origin site for chemicals, which influence what our emotions tell us, your character might very well go into a phase where they’ll be very happy one instant, and most displeased the next. The most common psychological reaction is depression, though.

 

Of course, there are other common injuries, and perhaps some other day, I’ll go over them. For now, though, just know that injuries are often made out to be much more simple than they are in fiction. They’ll have serious consequences in the short-term, but none in the long-term. That’s not how we work, though.

Research your injuries before you inflict them on your character (research carefully!). Perhaps your search history will make you look like you often get yourself into the hospital, but you’ll be able to write much more realistic injuries if you do.

And we, as readers, appreciate that. Not only does it enrich the story, it shows us that you care.

Do you struggle with unrealistic injuries in your writing? Do share! (As a reward, I’ll share some embarrassingly bad injury in my writing.) 

Character Interview: Lukas Vetti

Character Interview - Lukas Vetti

Happy Tuesday, readers! Today, I have the pleasure of introducing to you Lukas Vetti, from Anastasia Cross and Lacey Mickler’s currently in-planning series, known at present as only the mysterious “Orion Series Two.”

The Orion has fallen–or so they thought.
 Alex and Corra, children of former rebel Nicholas Calhoun, live in the destroyed remains of New York City, where what’s left of the battle between the rebels and the government are scattered right outside their door. Living a fairly normal life in such a devastated time proves impossible for them when their grandfather spills a secret he has kept for decades: Viktor lives. The High General, the evil mind behind the entire Orion government, lives. 
And he will take back what is his.

Hello, Luke! Welcome to Red Lettering; I’ve been looking forward to your being here ever since I first heard about you. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Luke: A little? Um, okay, I can try. Let’s do this. Okay, I’m twenty-three years old, wanted in seven countries, an ex-soldier, an expert sniper, and I’ve got at least ten different gangs associated with my name. I’m German, was born there, but only stayed there until I was…maybe fourteen? I dunno. Then I moved around all over the place. I like cheese—cheese sticks in particular—and I go comatose whenever there’s a TV and a comfy couch.

I’m not sure if that’s supposed to be sarcasm–or, if it is, which part. A pleasure to meet you, though. (You should also know that my sister has a metal bar that I can use to whack sarcastic folks who aren’t so friendly and carefree as they want us to assume. Just in case you were wondering.) Do you have a family?

Luke: Define family? I’ve got the sweetest little sister a guy could ever ask for, and this best friend Nikolai. He’s a cactus, I swear. Prickly and so boring that boredom gets bored just looking at him.

I think you did a pretty good job of defining family just now by including your friend. I’ve never heard the word cactus used like that, but… I definitely understand what you meant. You should be a writer. This is a dangerous question, so I shan’t blame you if you completely ignore or side-step it, but… If you could change anything in the past of your life, what would you change?

Luke: Pfff…what kind of question is that? Okay…assuming that I’d end up in the same place as I am now, I would change quite a few things. A whole lot of things, actually. But, if changing all that made me change, I wouldn’t mess with anything. My past makes me who I am, and frankly I kinda like me. *roguish grin*

You know, I might have guessed that from your answer to the first question.  Tell me about your childhood. What is the first thing you can remember?

Luke: My childhood…well, I had a pretty normal childhood. Me and my best friend Kyle spent all our time together, romping around, skipping school, getting into messes…my dad spent a lot of time away with his job, so that meant I spent a lot of time looking after Willow, my sister. But it was a pretty good childhood. Then my dad died when I was thirteen and that’s when the fun started. *winks* The first thing I remember as a kid is being forced to guzzle a gallon of eggnog as a dare from Kyle. Good times…

Ah, so you weren’t exactly the model child as a kid? …I’m sorry about your dad. That must have been hard. …There’s something I’ve been wondering since I heard of you, so I hope you won’t mind a possibly awkward question…Would you consider yourself a good man, or a bad one?

Luke: You’re killin’ me! …Good or bad? How about none of the above? I’m not a “good man”, but I don’t consider myself a bad one. Sort of hovering on the edge. I think I’ve kinda ruined my chances at being “good”! But good’s relative anyways so who cares about that kind of stuff.

Gray, eh?  At the risk of referencing something you’ve never heard, go dance with a dinosaur. How do you feel about government—just in general?

Luke: The government, in a word, reeks. There’s nothing I hate more than the American government, except maybe every other government on Earth.

I find it slightly amusing that you just used the phrase “in a word,” and then went on with the answer in more than one word. But… I understand that, definitely. If you put a group of sinful men together without anything Higher to guide them, they’re going to make a mess of things. Where do you live, and what is it like there?

Luke: Currently, I live in New York, which was bombed by nukes like two hundred years ago or something, so things are kinda trashy. Getting better, but trashy. Lots of old buildings and rotting skyscrapers. But hey! It’s nicer than anywhere else!

Sounds like the perfect place for a vacation! Maybe I’ll come visit you the next time I find a train headed that way. Okay, last unusual question, really. How do you want to die?

Luke: What kind of question is that? How do I want to die? I don’t want to die! But…if I was to die, it’d be a noble death, and no one’s fault but my own, like choking on a cheese stick, or suffocating on a pillowcase while napping.

…You count those as noble deaths? I feel like I need to clear up the meaning of some words here. …Back to normal questions now. What is your greatest dream? What do you strive for?

Luke: I strive for Willow’s protection and happiness. I’ve spent my whole life making sure my sis is safe and sound and I won’t rest until I’m sure she’s in the right hands.

Oh–Luke! That’s the first time you’ve been serious during this whole interview. You make me wish I could read your mind, and see what’s really going on behind this nonchalant charade of yours. Unfortunately, we don’t have the time now, and I don’t have access to the ability to read minds, so… I suppose I should let you go. Thank you so much for being here, Lukas Vetti, and I hope that, by the end of this journey you’re about to be heading on, if I were to ask you some of these questions again, you would have different answers.

Many thanks to Anastasia Cross for allowing me to interview Luke! You can find out more about Lukas Vetti, the Orion Series, and Orion Series Two, on her blog, Pinterest Page, and her co-author Lacey Mickler’s Pinterest Page.

Anastasia Cross is an eighteen year old writer of fantasy, dystopian, post apocalyptic, and science fiction novels and short stories. She began writing at the age of nine and finished her first novel at age thirteen. She now has finished four stories and hopes to have her first published soon. Anastasia’s goal in her career as an author is to glorify God with every word she writes. You can read more about her on her blog at inkspotwriter.blogspot.com.

Double Liebster

Tis the time for blogger awards, I suppose…

I’ve been blessed to receive two Liebster awards recently, in addition to the Sunflower blogger award I got a a little while ago. If these continue at this rate, by the time I reach the one-year mark, I’ll have more awards than most six-year old bloggers. I really appreciate it, y’all. ^^

Adele, at Howling Evanescence  and Ana at Butterflies of the Imagination both nominated me for the Liebster award (Which, apparently, means “dearest” in German; I wonder how many people who use this award know that, now that it’s traveled around the internet this far). Thank you so much, Adele and Ana!

Eleven Facts About Me

1. I got a violin a few days ago, and am now learning all about beats and notes. Oddly enough, I’m learning from a series of videos on YouTube–British videos. Aside from the fact that it means the teacher has a neat accent, it also means I’m learning the British terms rather than the American ones. As those of you who read the Sunflower Award post might remember, I have the same thing going on with my First Aid book.

2. When I was a small child, I used to be afraid that I would turn into a boy. Thinking back, I now think that the whole idea came from the book The Land of Oz in which the main character, who was a boy, found out that he (she?) was really a girl who had been enchanted to be a boy when… she was a small child, in order to hide her real identity.

3. We’re having spaghetti  for dinner. If you’re here before six o’ clock or so,  you can come over for dinner.

4. I find it beautiful when it rains. Here, at least, when it rains the sky is gray, but the grass and the trees are so vibrantly green that it contrasts against the sky in such a way that it seems almost impossibly beautiful. The earth declares His glory…

5. I have an old manual Olympia typewriter which I got a little over a year ago. ‘Tis lovely, and has a wonderful ding at the end of each line. It pleased me ridiculously when I first heard it.

6.  “I have Friends in High Places.”

7. Rather than watching modern television, I and my family tend to watch older movies or television shows. For example, the television shows that I’ve watched the most of are The Adventures of Robin Hood (with Richard Greene, not the modern one) Lost in Space, The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, and The Rifleman. 

8. My name has three meanings in three different languages that I know of at this very moment.

9. I use Google Chrome, but very rarely allow the Most Visited boxes to collect there. Instead, I’ll go through and delete all of them, unless I expect that I’ll need one of them many times in the near future. This seems to irritate my browser to no end, and it repeatedly puts things on there which I have only been to once or twice. It’s rather unusual, both my habit and my browser’s habit, but I don’t really know why either happen.

10. The background behind my email inbox is dark wood grain. The tiled areas (linoleum, technically) of our house are faux wood floor. The paneling in our old house was… (wow! You guessed!) faux wood paneling.

11. I love the wind.

My Answers to Adele’s Questions

1.What are your goals for the future? Rate them from most important to least important!

Serving God – Loving children – being alive – getting a book published – learning how to grow wings.

2. Do you think you will be blogging 20 years from now?

I have no idea. …Does that count as a real answer?

3. If you could have any superpower, what would it be? Why?

Healing. Because there is so much that could be done…

4. Would you rather be poor but happy, or be rich but sad?

Oh. That is a hard question. Of course, I would rather be happy, and there are some things that money can’t buy… But there are also some things that money can buy. Like wells in Africa and homes for children in China, funds to help people adopt. I suppose that this is going to be a non-answer too; whether I’m rich or poor, I have joy in the Lord. He knows what He’s doing; I’ve just got to trust him.

5. What is your favorite book in the whole world at this moment?

The Bible. What other book is true, has such epic stories, is so wonderfully written, and is the best guide-book to live in the history of ever?

6. THINK FAST! THERE’S A PURPLE PEGASUS FLYING TOWARDS YOU. WHAT DO YOU DO?

Blink, then dodge. What happens next depends completely on what the Pegasus does.

7. What is the dumbest injury you have received? (Mine is a scar that received 5 stitches because I jumped off, but caught my leg on, some bleachers. XD )

I only have had two actual injuries to speak of, and I suppose that my dumbest one would be when I was very small (three?) and I was jumping on my parents’ water-bed. I jumped off of it and hit my head against the window-sill, having to afterwards go to the hospital to get stitches. I don’t remember any of it, but, the moral of the story, kids, is to not jump off water beds when you have low windowsills.

8. Have you ever watched Frozen? If you have, what is your favorite song from that movie?

Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” 

9. Cats or dogs?

Cats.

10. Favorite sport?

Ah. I don’t really have a favorite sport… Sports aren’t a major thing for me. I’ll say running, for now.

11. Why did you start blogging?

At this moment, I don’t really remember my exact reasons. I had a million different ideas circling around in my head, I believe, and wanted to put them down somewhere where people could read them.

 

My Answers to Ana’s Questions

 Would you rather live without the ability to read or without the ability to write?

Without the ability to write. It would certainly be difficult, but a life without reading would be worse.

What is your favorite song, and if you’re Christian, what is your favorite Christian contemporary song?

They’re one and the same, if I can think of my favorite. I listen to very little non-Christian music. But I have such difficulty thinking of a favorite artist, how can I pick a favorite song?

I suppose I shall go with Walk On, by 4Him, but I reserve the right to change it at any time, with or without warning.

What was your greatest accomplishment this year?

Keeping this blog running steadily for so long. Even though I took a break in the middle.

What advice do you have for newbie bloggers?

Blog regularly, and keep in touch with your readers. If someone comments on your blog, you should respond to their comment, and go check out their blog if they have one. If they follow your blog, definitely go check out their blog, but be aware that some people will like and follow blogs to promote their own; if that’s the case, it’s very likely that on their “About” page, there will be many comments saying “Thanks for the follow!” It’s not necessary to follow everyone who follows you, but it is good blogging etiquette to at least look at their blog. And you might find some great blogs that way!

What is the word count of the longest piece you’ve written?

Ah. Well, as embarrassing as my first major writing work is, that takes the prize length-wise. It’s around one hundred twenty thousand words or so.

What is your favorite thing about your personality?

I haven’t half a clue…? I’ve never had to contrast it with someone else’s.

What do you like more: sad books or funny books?

I like sad books with hopeful endings rather than funny and fluffy books, but I like funny and deep books better than sad books without hope in the ending.

Do you speak more than one language? If so, what languages do you speak?

My first language is English. I speak a smattering of Spanish, can recognize a few words in Russian, Hebrew, Japanese, and German, and am working slowly and steadily towards being fluent in Chinese. Emphasis on the slowly.

Can you share a picture of your handwriting, please?

Certainly. My handwriting has been slightly off for the past few days, but here’s a picture.

Malachi's Message Quote

(Quote by Malachi, from Adventures in Odyssey episode “Malachi’s Message.”

Who is your favorite author?

Jesus, “the author and finisher of our faith.” For fiction writers, Anne Elisabeth Stengl.

Do you frequently read e-books or do you read more physical books?

Physical is most certainly best. I have read a few books e-books style, but I don’t ever expect to prefer that over hard-copy. Ever.

 

The Nine Bloggers I Nominate

  1. Katie (or Anna, if she’d like!) at Cousins in Christ
  2. Kya Lightwing at Journal of an Ambassador
  3. Abrielle Lindsay at Indonesia Around Me
  4. Sofia Marie at teensliveforJesus
  5. Alea Harper at Elvish Pens, Fantastical Writings
  6. Krazy at My Point of View
  7. Elyse Moiser at Blessed Beyond Measure
  8. Bethany at The Ramblings of a Young Author
  9. Hannah Jane at Walking in Grace

My Questions for My Nominees

  1. Why did you start blogging?
  2. Who are your favorite three fictional characters?
  3. What is the most beautiful place you’ve ever been?
  4. If your home was going to burn to the ground and any people and animals were safe, what one thing would you grab?
  5. Do you prefer the sun or the moon?
  6. Do you have a favorite Bible verse?
  7. Do you speak any second languages?
  8. What makes you cry in fiction? (Do you cry at fiction?)
  9. Who is your favorite historical figure?
  10. (Just as a random question…) Describe your floor.
  11. What is the skill you’re the most proud of?

Thank you so much for your nominations, Adele and Ana! If anyone else wants to be officially nominated for this, comment. I’ll edit your name into the post. *whistle*

Writing Prompt: 06-20-2014

Origin: And Then There’s Us” by Labri71 on DeviantArt. As is fairly typical, do not know this artist, so I would urge caution in looking up their other work.

Would you like to write something from this picture? I’d love to hear it! You can leave it in the comments, or move it to your blog and leave a link to your blog in the comments. Have a great weekend, readers!

[I really look forward to being able to read anything you write from this prompt, and I expect to enjoy it very much and for my readers to also enjoy it. That said, please keep everything as clean as it gets because otherwise I will delete the comment or link to your blog.”Only what is good for building up…” If in doubt, ask. My contact information is on the About page.] 

What We Can Learn From Violins: Press Hard, Focus, Things Aren’t What They Seem

Meet Allen, my new (and first) violin.

(Picture Credit: From Amazon, property of Mendini)

After scoring the rosin with a knife, scraping it against the violin’s bow several times, and attempting to tune it (so far, it’s still a work in progress), I learned that things applying to violins also apply to writing sometimes.

You Have to Press Hard

I never realized how hard one must press against the strings to get it to make noise. Of course, I did need to add more rosin, but even now, I wouldn’t have expected to actually need to press hard against the strings to make noise.

In writing, sometimes we have to realize that it’s more difficult to get something correct than we might have previously expected. We’ll need to press hard against one point whenever we thought it would be easy, because if we thought it would be easy, it probably isn’t. We’ll have to work harder at things we thought we would be good at; even if we are good, we always need to be better.

You Have to Keep The Bow in One Place

“Hobby-hopping” is particularly common among writers. Even those who stick to writing tend to move from project to project, never finishing a novel before moving to another.

It’s so easy to let the bow slide all over the violin strings. And yet, that makes it screech. It creates bumps in the road and makes it so that a person will not be able to get better until they stop the habit.

The Rosin Looked Just Like Glass

I wish I could show you a picture, but as I can’t find one, you’ll just have to take my word for it. The rosin came in a small round container, stuck to a bright red velvet-like cloth. It looked like a small, round piece of glass.

And then I dug deeper, scoring it with a knife, and realized that, in the end, it wasn’t a piece of glass. It was rosin. It looked like something not even remotely the same.

Until I looked further.

(I’m sorry for the slightly un-thought out post; when I accidentally post half-finished blog posts as I did with this one, I tend to hurry through finishing them. Also, I have a violin I’d like to get tuned before dark. So I bid you farewell and ask you to comment, and forgive this terribly sloppy post.)

Why Do You Write?

I ran a thousand miles for you

Knowing you would break My heart

And I  would do it all again

Because I couldn’t stand to be apart…

~J.J Heller, “Red Against Your Black”

It’s not that He knew that we might, possibly, maybe turn away and spit on the face of the One who had come to save us. He knew we would.

“‘For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord GOD;’ so turn, and live.”

Isaiah 18:32

While I may not know you
I bet I know you
Wonder sometimes, does it matter at all?
Well let me remind you, it all matters just as long
As you do everything you do to the glory of the One who made you,
Cause he made you
To do

Every little thing that you do
To bring a smile to His face
Tell the story of grace
With every move that you make
And every thing you do

Steven Curtis Chapman, “Do Everything”

 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

1 Peter 4:10, NIV

Go, tell it on the mountain,

Over the hills and everywhere

Go, tell it on the mountain,

That Jesus Christ is born.

John Wesley Work Jr, “Go Tell it on the Mountain.”

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?”

Romans 10:14, ESV

“Write as if you were dying. At the same time, assume you write for an audience consisting solely of terminal patients. That, after all, is the case.”

-Annie Dillard

 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

Mark 16:15-16

I write for love.

 I write for those who are not forgotten.

For those who are looking for Truth.

For those who have closed their eyes.

Because hope is not dead, and there is still a God who changes lives.

Why do you write?

(For those wondering, this is like a super-condensed version of this post on my other blog.)

Writing Prompt: 06-13-2014

Origin: From what I can tell, the picture and the words are from The Star Trek Enterprise: Into Darkness. I wasn’t able to find who made the picture, so if you have information regarding that, contact me so I can put them in the post.

This picture, in particular, has made the author part of me gasp every time I see it. “Have I got your attention now?” … Oh, the potential in those six words! If you’d like to write a few paragraphs from it, I’d love to see them! You can post it in the comments section, or on your own blog and leave the link here. Have a great weekend, readers.

Why We Go To Camp

Participant 2014 - Twitter Header 2

The wind whooshes around you, pulling at you and kidnapping your breath, holding it for ransom. Your feet do not touch anything, and though your eyes are open, you see only blackness.

Finally, you feel ground solidifying underneath your feet and the rushing wind slows, then stops. After blinking a few times, you are able to make out your surroundings; several stylishly rustic-looking cabins dot the area around you. A few trees are scattered here and there, as though someone walked past with a leaking bag of seeds, but your attention is quickly taken from the way things look, and given to the way things sound. You have been outside before, as most people have, so you find it unusual that there is no natural sound. No crickets chirp in the knee-length grass. No birds sing from the tops of the trees or the insides of the roofs.

Then you notice that the lack of natural sounds is not the only thing unusual. You can hear a clack, clack, clacking coming from the cabins surrounding you, a loud version, and a softer version that reminds you of typing on computer keyboards. Determined to investigate, you make your way cautiously toward the doorway of a nearby cabin. The door is open, so you step in.

It takes your eyes a moment to adjust to the difference in light, but soon you see with clarity the odd sight in front of you. Eleven people sit, stand, or pace in the cabin in front of you. Boys and girls, men and women, they have only one thing in common: the fact that each of them is writing. One writes at a typewriter; another with a pen; yet another dictates their words into a computer program. 

If you are confused, reader, you might be pleased to know that you’re just walked onto a website labeled Camp NaNoWriMo. It should sound familiar to some of you, but to others it might be an alien term, so I shall explain.

Camp NaNoWriMo is what happened when the National Novel Writing Month branched off into separate sections, creating two smaller but similar challenges in April and July. A writer can join the website, set a word goal, and write for the entire aforementioned months to meet their goal. Whether their goal be big or small, whether the writer be walking, jogging or sprinting, many writers gather on one website to write their novels.

Separated into “cabins” of eleven people, the writers face writer’s block, lack-of-time, procrastination and distraction with each other for one month.

One of the obvious questions when faced with such information would be, “Why in the worlds would I want to do such a thing as that?”

Well, dear reader. I searched the internet for just such an answer, and Google told me several things that I think apply to writer just as (more than!) they apply to children.

Why Children and Writers Should Go To Camp

  • To Try New Things
  • To Challenge Themselves
  • To Get a Change of Routine
  • To Meet New People
  • To Learn New Skills
  • To Get More Active
  • It Builds Self-Esteem

Most writers will know what’s best for themselves better than I do, and perhaps Camp is not right for everyone (talk to your doctor before using Camp, and it should not be used by young children or… ah, sorry. No.) but I know that I’ve grown substantially as a writer every time I did Camp NaNoWriMo or NaNoWriMo. Whatever regular summer camp may be, whatever children might learn if they go to camp, writers learn when they challenge themselves.

Will you go look at their website?

Will you challenge yourself?

Will I see you at camp?

 

Character Interview: Kien Lantec

Happy Tuesday, readers. Today I have the pleasure of introducing to you Kien Lantec, from R. J. Larson’s award-winning series, Books of the Infinite.

 

  

Hello, Kien! Welcome to Red Lettering—it truly is an honor to have you here. Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

Kien: Thank you. I’m honored to be invited to Red Lettering and to be in such excellent company. My name is Kien Lantec, and I am a citizen of the Tracelands and Siphra—and that dual citizenship has led to a legal quagmire, considering the hostility each country harbors for the other. I’m a former ambassador to Istgard, a duty which once landed me in prison, and I also trained as a judge-advocate specializing in treaties for the Tracelands. Amid this, the Infinite, the Creator, once recruited me as a prophet. I don’t mind admitting that I failed spectacularly as His servant, and He should have reduced me to an oil blot for that disaster. However, He was merciful, so here I am.

Kien: As far as personal tastes, I enjoy reading, mock battles, joking with family and friends, fighting my monster-warhorse, and eating properly cooked food. Unless my wife, Ela, is off in another country—nothing’s enjoyable when she’s away.

A pleasure to meet you in person, Kien. Thank you for being here, and it is I and my readers who are in excellent company. To begin at the beginning—or, at least as near as we can get—what is the first thing you remember?

Kien: The truth? I’m unsure. It was probably the time I decided to run away, but I couldn’t carry enough food. Furthermore, my father’s sword was displayed so high upon the wall that I couldn’t reach it. Naturally, I couldn’t run away without weapons to fight off monsters, so I gave up, for that time at least. I don’t even remember why I wanted to run away; it seemed logical at the time—a protest against my living conditions, which I later realized were excellent. However, when you’re three years old, and a Lantec, you dispute everything. Most likely I was too puny to open the hall’s door.

I think when you’re three years old you dispute everything regardless of who you are, but most three year old’s don’t attempt to run away. Ah. *winces* You gave up “for that time”? I hope you don’t mind my saying so, but you must have been such a joy to live with as a child.

 I’m sorry if this isn’t a question I should ask, but… Your wife is a Prophet of the Infinite. You must be aware of the fact that all previous Prophets of the Infinite have died young. This is something of an open question, but what do you think of that?

Kien: I’d like to say that I’ve fully accepted the fact that Ela risks her life whenever she acts on behalf of the Infinite, but that wouldn’t be true; I’m still overly protective of her. She’s my wife and my dearest friend—I can’t imagine living without Ela. Yet I can’t anticipate every danger she faces in every situation, and neither can she. Prophets don’t foresee every personal threat each time they leave home to serve the Infinite, which is probably for the best—we’d both be paralyzed by fear and unable to complete our work. Instead, we’ve resolved to make the most of our time together and simply trust our Creator with our lives.

Kien: We’re all mortals here, facing the same risks. Let’s live to serve others and make a difference in this fallen world!

You say you wish you had fully accepted it, and perhaps you haven’t, but it seems to me that you’ve got the gist of it down. If you could go back in time and change anything in the past, would you do it? If you would, what would it be?

Kien: Several years ago, I would have snatched that chance without hesitation, in order to prevent a massacre that cost several friends and servants their lives. I now know that if I’d attempted defensive measures we would have all died together that day. I think of my friends often…

I’m sorry. It must be hard having that experience in your past. …I know that there are many things to be valued, so perhaps this will be a difficult question to answer: What do you value the most?

Kien: People. Other’s souls—Ela and the Infinite have had that effect upon me. Mortal wealth and power can’t buy eternity.

Indeed, that is one of the most precious things in existence. If you answer this without even blinking, I shall be impressed. Few men are willing to admit readily that they fear anything, but even fewer still are without fear. What do you fear?

Kien: Total isolation of my soul. If I were separated from the Infinite—existence would be torture beyond endurance.

Ah, well, you hardly blinked, so I shall be impressed slightly; consider me thus. As for your answer, it’s always good to know that the Infinite doesn’t want that for us, either, so if we and the Infinite are on the same track when it comes to that, we haven’t much to fear. I understand, though. As humans, it’s natural to fear, even when our heads know that we’re safe.

When you have free time, what do you do with it?

Kien: I hunt, and I attempt to train my destroyer, Scythe. The brute has no manners at all. Even a monster warhorse ought to be civilized. However, he’s unrivaled in battle, and we’ve forged an understanding: I keep him well-fed, he saves me from being hacked to bits, and we’re both happy. Or, rather, I’m happy. Scythe is an inherent grumbler.

 I’ve heard from some credible sources that he has basically the same opinion as you. Or, he certainly implies he does, as you do about him…

I know your time is valuable; thank you for agreeing to spend it with us! For a last question, who would you consider a hero? Why?

Kien: Excluding Ela? I’d have to vote for Akabe of Siphra. The man was forced to become Siphra’s king—he’s virtually imprisoned by his duties and by tradition, yet he works day and night to serve his people, and he will continue to do so for the rest of his life. That’s a true hero—a man of honor who protects and serves others without a thought of accolades. This world would be a better place if there were more like him.

There are more like him. I can think of one in particular right now who I had the privilege of speaking with very recently. Thank you so much for being here, Kien. Continue to serve the Infinite, and if you have any more adventures in the near future, be sure to contact us, for we would love to hear about them. 

Many thanks to R. J. Larson, who put me in contact with Kien; I couldn’t seem to find his contact information to set up a meeting until she intervened and gave me her help and her time. Thank you!

R. J. Larson is the author of numerous devotionals featured in publications such as The Women’s Devotional Bible, and Seasons of a Woman’s Heart. She lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with her husband and their two sons, and is suspected of eating chocolate and potato chips at her desk while writing. The Books of the Infinite series marks her debut in the fantasy genre.

You can find out more about R. J. Larson ad connect with her on her website and Facebook Page.

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