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.

Writing Prompt: 09-11-2015

Origin: “Our Ends are Beginnings,” by ParadisiacPicture. Please note that I do not know this artist, nor his other work, so if you do decide to explore, beware. (Please further note that clicking the picture will take you to where you can view the original location of the artwork and explore other work by the artist.)

Feeling inspired? Write something from this prompt! I’d love to see what you come up with. You can leave a comment with what you’ve written, or move the prompt to your blog and leave a link in the comments! 

Now, for those of you concerned and sharp-eyed readers who have noticed that this is the third writing prompt in a row, be not concerned! This blog has not been entirely taken over by writing prompts, and I hope to soon be back to the previously known posting schedule. It turns out that leaving a blog alone for almost half a year makes it slightly harder to slip back into a normal posting rhythm, but we are getting there, and I greatly thank you for your patience during the time of silence and, now, slow reawakening.

Writing Prompt: 09-04-2015

Origin: Sheep? by Tracy Butler. I know neither this artist, nor her other work, so if you decide to look her up (or click the picture, which will take you straight to her DeviantArt page where she posted this), use caution and beware of monsters.

Feeling inspired? Write something from this prompt! You can leave a response to it here, or move the prompt over to your blog and leave a link in the comments so we can all go look at what you came up with! Do please keep it clean… It’d be greatly appreciated over here.

I can’t wait to see what you amazing writers come up with. Enjoy your writing, and have a great weekend!

Writing Prompt 07/17/2015

 

 

 

Origin“Stepping Through,” by BPKelsey. Note that I do not know this artist, nor this artist’s other work. If you do look the artist up, look out for nasty beasts that you may find out there.

If you’re feeling inspired, write something about this picture! I would absolutely love to see whatever you come up with (though keep in mind that my nine year old sister reads this blog, so keep it clean!). You can put it here in the comments, or post it on your own blog and leave a link in the comments. I can’t wait to see what you talented writers come up with!

Half-Blood Blog Tour: Review and GIVEAWAY

The gasps and murmuring grew. Though some were hardly more than whispers, clear words reached Jace’s ears–dangerous, monster, animal, soulless. He tried to back away from their accusing eyes, but the collar pulled hard against his throat and held him in place.

For all his years as a slave, Jace has known nothing but the hatred people hold for his mixed blood–one half human, the other half the blood of a race considered monsters. Always, he is the outsider and quickly learns it is better to keep to himself. Yet, when his volatile ryrik blood leads him to do the unthinkable, he is thrown into a world of violence and bloodshed.

Forced to become a gladiator, Jace finds more and more of his heart dying as his master works to break down his will not to become the monster everyone believes he is. When a stranger interferes with his master’s harsh punishment, Jace’s world is upended yet again. But with it comes the possibility of hope that has long since died. Could the man possibly hold the key to escaping the hopeless darkness that is Jace’s life? Is there such a thing as life beyond the cruelty of slavery?

See where Jace’s story all began . . .

Half Blood Cover

About the Series

Ilyon Chronicles is a six book, non-magical Christian fantasy series geared toward new adults (ages 18-25+). Half-Blood is best read after the first book as backstory for the series’ main character.

Review:

Oh, Half-Blood, Half-Blood, Half-Blood.

I’m not even sure I’ve got a way to start explaining how this book affected me, so I suppose I’ll do it with a quote:

“I laughed, I cried, it moved me Bob.”

Yes. Yes, I did–yes, it did.

Most of this story is that of pain, of suffering, of what happens when humans believe anything is lower than they are. For a bit of background: when I say I cried at a book, I don’t mean literally. Oh, sure, there’s a tear or two, but they never make it more than a centimeter past my eye. The same was not true for this book.

During that last half of it, I could not keep my face dry for more than ten minutes. I could not stop crying, though it blurred the words in front of me. I read until the book ended at around 12:40 at night—and then, after I had put it away, I simply lay on my bed and cried some more. It would be misleading to say that I exactly loved it, and I could not recommend it to everyone. At the same time, the book was fantastic.

It was hard. So very hard, to see the life that Jace went through. All he remembers is slavery, and through most of this book, this is all that he knows.

The characters were well done. Jace, the various other slaves he meets, the various masters who he served, the different people he met throughout the first seventeen years of his life. I was pleased to see that the characters overlapping through books stayed consistent.

The various characters evoked different emotions in me. Some were evil; some were moderately acceptable. Some I hated… some I just plain couldn’t find it in me to hate. There were so many characters who I pitied in this novel, even the ones who, on first glance, would at first just be cruel and worthy of your hate.

I would have liked to see a little more kindness in Jace’s life… It felt a tiny bit awkward to have no kindness and then extreme kindness. Perhaps some middle ground would have been appreciated.

The character development here was, in keeping with my Southern-ness, “Somethin’ else.” Jace stayed the same person all throughout the novel, but he went through changes as life, cruel as ever, shook him and battered him.

The setting remained consistent with the other books all the way through, though we got to see a… well, a different side. From the manor house to the gladiator fights, then all the way to a little farm where the book ends, the settings are various, not all unfriendly, but few welcoming. Yet even though the other books take place in different locations, the world is bound together so well that there is no doubt that they’re the same place.

The writing was smooth and even. One author once described your words as a window. With that in mind, Jaye’s window was clear, smear-free, and spotless. I noticed only one sentence in the book—the rest of the time, my gaze was firmly on the characters.

The research…ah, now we get to the exciting part. In the past, Jaye had heavily researched gladiators for the previous books in the novel. I could tell by the easy way she incorporated facts into her story that she knew the material well. I didn’t feel uninformed at any point, nor was there any info-dumping or bits of information that seemed unimportant. Though, I feel as though I must mention one sentence; indeed, the only sentence that I noticed while reading.

Strengthened by this determination, Jace spun the sword around and drove the hilt into the side of the gladiator’s head—not hard enough to be lethal, but enough to knock him momentarily senseless.

This is not necessarily a problem, especially since the story is set in a medieval-type era. However, as you may remember from this post, a blow to the head can frequently be (if not severely damaging for the rest of a man’s life) immediately deadly. However, Jace may not know this, so I will accept it as part of the story.

In a way, I loved this book for the honesty of it. It gave us a good idea of what was going on before we first met Jace in Resistance. On the other hand, if this had been the first book of the series that I read, I may not have made it all the way through the novella. It’s hard, it’s dark, it’s almost depressing. If you know you can’t handle that, I cannot recommend it for you.

And yet I can recommend it for you if you’ve read Resistance and The King’s Scrolls, because you know that things will get better. Things get better even at the end of Half-Blood, but I still don’t think the story would be beneficial unless you’ve read at least Resistance first.

Now, at the end of this crazy-long review, I got to interview Jaye L. Knight herself! Furthermore, at the end of that, we’ve got a fancy giveaway that you should be sure to enter.

First, 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.

Website | Blog | Facebook | Google+ | Twitter | Etsy

  1. Do you remember what book first made you fall in love with stories?

Jaye: I’m not sure what the very first book was, but my all-time favorite books when I was young were the Pony Pal books by Jeanne Betancourt. I adored those books, and the first story I ever finished writing was based off one of them.

  1. What people or events in your life most influence your writing?

Jaye: My mom has been the biggest influence in my writing. I don’t think I ever would have started if not for her, since she’s a writer too. Then, of course, there is J.R.R. Tolkien. It’s because of him that I started writing fantasy. As far as events, I guess a lot of the trials I’ve faced over the last few years have really influenced me, especially in writing Ilyon Chronicles.

  1. What is the necessary environment for your writing and editing?

Jaye: I can usually write anywhere, unless there’s a lot of commotion. I write most often in the living room or outside in the summertime. Writing outside is my favorite. For editing, I’m usually on my computer in my bedroom. I either like it quiet, or with some epic background music. And I almost always have a candle lit. 🙂

The Giveaway

Enter to win a themed giveaway pack! Prizes include an autographed copy of Half-Blood, a blue feather bookmark hand crafted by Jaye, a bronze sword pendant, and a $5 Amazon gift card! (Giveaway is open to US residents only. Cannot be shipped internationally.)

Since WordPress isn’t friendly to Rafflecopter Giveaways, you can just click the picture above and it will take you to Jaye’s blog post. There, you can enter the giveaway, and find a list of other participating blogs!

See the Ilyon Chronicles on Amazon!

Book Review: Draven’s Light, by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

In the Darkness of the Pit The Light Shines Brightest

Drums summon the chieftain’s powerful son to slay a man in cold blood and thereby earn his place among the warriors. But instead of glory, he earns the name Draven, “Coward.” When the men of his tribe march off to war, Draven remains behind with the women and his shame. Only fearless but crippled Ita values her brother’s honor.

The warriors return from battle victorious yet trailing a curse in their wake. One by one the strong and the weak of the tribe fall prey to an illness of supernatural power. The secret source of this evil can be found and destroyed by only the bravest heart.

But when the curse attacks the one Draven loves most, can this coward find the courage he needs to face the darkness?

Draven's Light Cover

One could say that Draven’s Light, by Anne Elisabeth Stengl, is a small book. And perhaps it is: clocking out at 190 pages, it certainly isn’t large, as far as page-count goes. You could probably fit it in your purse or bag easily, and not feel the extra weight. It’s only around 50k words; not very large by author standards.

And yet the effects this book will have are bigger than the book itself. The weight it carries is heavier; you will remember it for a longer time than it took you to read it.

You see, dear reader, this book may be small in size, but in reality, it is as big as The Lord of the Rings, as emotionally stirring as A Tale of Two Cities. 

This story takes place in two sections and in two separate times: in the first, we see a little girl who carries water up to the two Brothers who labor on their Great House near her village. In the second, we follow the story that is told to the girl; the story of Draven, the Coward—or is he Draven, the Hero?

The characters within will call to you, beckoning to your heart. GahoDraven, was admirable, brave, loyal, and very much alive. Ita was little, but fierce, a little broken, but made stronger in spirit and in pride for it. Though perhaps, just perhaps, her desire to be strong isn’t all that is within her; perhaps there is much more than pride. At times, Ita was the person I related to the most in the novel. Callix, though I liked him at first, didn’t really grow on me as much as I thought he would. 

In the girl’s side of the story, we find the girl, her grandmother, and the Brothers. I loved seeing Etanun and Akilun during a normal time in their lives—not fighting dragons, not saving the day… but being heroes all the more for it. The girl was, well, us. She was all of us fan-girls, deciding what must come next in the story. She thought about the story all day when she couldn’t hear the next part, and then was sure of how it must go next. The girl definitely ranked up there in my top favorite characters from the book.

Now, though I dislike to mention it, I must speak of the only part of the book I disliked: the girl’s mother. The lady is always busy, always doing something, and never seems to have time for any of her children. To quote from the book:

“She was always in a hurry about something. Twelve children have a way of keeping a woman on her feet.”

A little bit of history for those of you who are unaware… My family has eleven children. While that’s not quite as much as the girl’s family, I can’t imagine that one child makes that much of a difference. My mother is quite possibly one of the calmest people I’ve ever met, always with time to talk or help her children with something; nothing like the lady in the book. While, of course, there are different types of people, I feel as though the portrayal of a woman with so many children is… well, less favorable than it could be. While this doesn’t thrill me, by the time I got to the end of the novel, it didn’t matter as much, and I did love the book; out of 190 pages, I had only this one complaint. Draven's Light Banner

Objectionable Content: The setting was dark, it’s true; Draven’s tribe is a twisted group of people. Yet— and this is one of the reasons Anne Elisabeth Stengl is one of my favorite authors—she never showed anything, never even stated would have gone on behind the scenes had events transpired differently. There is some violence, yes, but nothing described in detail. The Tales of Goldstone Wood are intended to build up, and as such, the author writes them in a clean and encouraging ways.

Technicalities: There was nary a typo or awkwardly phrased sentence that I noticed. The plot and pacing was well done, the novella balanced between the separate time periods. It didn’t seem to drag in any place (though my sister Caiti tends to notice the pacing and technical things better than I), and though I guessed the reveal at the end before-hand, I loved it all the more for it.

I fear this is the least in-depth book review I’ve ever written. However, I’m happy because now I know you’ll be done reading the book review faster, and you can go more quickly to read the book.

Purchase Links: Amazon –  Barnes&Noble – Add to Your Goodreads Account!

About the Author

ANNE ELISABETH STENGL makes her home in North Carolina, where she lives with her husband, Rohan, a kindle of kitties, and one long-suffering dog. When she’s not writing, she enjoys Shakespeare, opera, and tea, and practices piano, painting, and pastry baking. Her novels have been nominated for and won various literary awards, including the Christy Award and the Clive Staples Award.

To learn more about Anne Elisabeth Stengl and her books visit:
www.AnneElisabethStengl.blogspot.com

(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher in return for an honest review.)

New Fairy Tale Contest from Rooglewood Press!

Be thrilled, O readers, for a great day has come to us. A day when Rooglewood Press reveals what we have all been waiting for: the cover of the third fairy tale contest.

Are you ready for this?

Five Magic Spindles

No… No, you probably weren’t ready for that sort of epic-ness. I certainly wasn’t.

Rooglewood Press is delighted to introduce their third fairy tale novella contest—

Five Magic Spindles

a collection of “Sleeping Beauty” stories

The challenge is to write a retelling of the beloved fairy tale in any genre or setting you like. Make certain your story is recognizably “Sleeping Beauty,” but have fun with it as well. Make it yours!

Rooglewood Press will be selecting five winners to be published in the Five Magic Spindles collection, which will be packaged up with the phenomenal cover you see here. Maybe your name will be one of the five listed?

All the contest rules and information (how to enter, story details, deadline etc.) may be found on the Rooglewood Press website. Just click HERE and you will go right to the page.

Rooglewood Press’s first collection, Five Glass Slippers is available for purchase, and our second collection, Five Enchanted Roses is scheduled to launch on July 27, and is currently available for pre-order. Be certain to get a copy of each and see what previous winners did with their wonderful retellings.

Cover Illustration Credit: This cover illustration was rendered by Julia Popova, “ForestGirl.” You can find out more about this gifted artist on her website: http://www.forestgirl.ru

Well? I, for one, am most excited. I haven’t had a chance to enter the past two contests for various reasons (though I do have one completed 50k word novel to show for my attempts, and an idea for a short story or novella), but the third time’s the charm, right?

Go, reader. Look at the official rules and details at Rooglewoodpress.com. That’s Rooglewood Press, dot com. Call now.

Writing Prompt: 05/22/2015

I know, it’s amazing, isn’t it? I’m finally posting another writing prompt!

I’ve seen this picture several times, and I really love it. I can’t wait to see what you brilliant people do with it! This is, A Centaur in Disguise, by Michelle Toro. I don’t know the artist, nor her other work, so beware if you decide to look her up. 

If you’d like to write something from this prompt (and you want to share it. Because I suppose you could always lock it up in a dusty folder and forget about it), you can comment on this blog post with what you wrote, or post it on your own blog and leave a link in the comments! Either way, I would love to read it (how can you have an uninteresting story with a picture like that?).

Please, though, keep whatever you write from this prompt pretty clean. My younger brothers and sisters read this blog and have a great time looking through what you awesome people write – I don’t want to have to delete anything. Violence is okay, a little blood is okay, but please, no foul language or “mature” content.

Half Blood Cover Reveal (and GIVEAWAY)

In but a few months, Jaye L. Knight, author of the Ilyon Chronicles (Resistance and The King’s Scrolls), will be releasing her prequel novella, Half Blood.

Just looking at the cover, my heart is preparing to be shattered into a million tiny fragments. We’ll all be crying at this one…

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00026]

About the Book

The gasps and murmuring grew. Though some were hardly more than whispers, clear words reached Jace’s ears—dangerous, monster, animal, soulless. He tried to back away from their accusing eyes, but the collar pulled hard against his throat and held him in place.

For all his years as a slave, Jace has known nothing but the hatred people hold for his mixed blood—one half human, the other half the blood of a race considered monsters. Always, he is the outsider and quickly learns it is better to keep to himself. But, when his volatile ryrik blood leads him to do the unthinkable, he is thrown into a world of violence and bloodshed.

Forced to become a gladiator, Jace finds more and more of his heart dying as his master works to break down his will not to become the monster everyone believes he is. When a stranger interferes with his master’s harsh punishment, Jace’s world is upended yet again. But with it comes the possibility of hope that has long since died. Could the man possibly hold the key to escaping the hopeless darkness that is Jace’s life? Is there such a thing as life beyond the cruelty of slavery?

See where Jace’s story all began . . .

Coming This Summer
Are you aware of just how awesome this is going to be? If you haven’t read Resistance and The King’s Scrolls, I suggest that you do so. IMMEDIATELY. In fact, if you wish to read my reviews for them, you can read them here: Resistance and The King’s Scrolls.
For those of you who have read them, you should add Half Blood to your Goodreads so we can all appreciate how awesome it’s going to be, together.

goodreads

About the Author

JayeAuthorPhotoJaye 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+, and Twitter.

 

Giveaway

As part of a month long celebration for the one year publication anniversary of Resistance (Ilyon Chronicles – Book 1), Jaye is giving away several fun prizes! Enter for a chance to win using the form below! U.S. entries only please.

(You can also visit the other awesome sites hosting the cover reveal)
A Writer’s Faith
Morgan Elizabeth Huneke
A Writer’s Heart
Thoughts and Rants
Written Rest
To Be A Person
Tialla’s Tellings
The American Anglophile
Knitted By God’s Plan
Elvish Pens, Fantastical Writings
Pencils Can Change The World
Crafty Booksheeps
Zerina Blossom’s Books
Ryebrynn’s Random Ramblings
Through the Realm of Dreams
Red Lettering
Leah’s Bookshelf
The Official Website of Brent King
Writings, Ramblings, and Reflections
Shattered Fractals
Flights from the Aerie
E. Rawls
The Pen of a Ready Writer
Scattered Journal Pages
Sutori no Hana
The Art of Storytelling
poetree

Keeping Heroes Heroic

Keeping Heroes Heroic

When I was a wee little lass, scarcely old enough to be allowed to remain awake during napping time, far from understanding the complexities of writing—though my timeline is likely a little mixed up (few young children categorize: On this date, at three o’ clock in the afternoon, I decided I want to be a writer), I doubt I had any interest in writing stories at that point.

Ah, but I loved to read. This was a good thing, with all of the reading we young ones did for school in those days, and through studying certain old legends and myths, I found myself a hero. A brave man, strong, the very best of the king’s knights. I adored him, my hero, and through a few weeks of study, decided he must have been the best man in medieval history.

His name was Lancelot du Lac. And before you ask: no, I didn’t know.

The first time I wept at a book wasn’t a gentle sniffle or misty eyes. No, it was with tears streaming down my face, barely able to speak, tears clogging my voice as I gasped, “No, Lancelot, don’t, please.

On that day, my first hero fell.

He did the thing with Guinevere that even I, a small lass though I was, knew was wrong. I desperately hoped that he’d turn back, that he’d make things right, but the hero that I had loved never did. Furthermore, Lancelot and Guinevere caused everything to fall to pieces. Wow. Well done, you two.

There is so much stress these days on giving your heroes (or heroines) flaws. It doesn’t matter who they are, where they come from, or what they do — as long as they make horrible decisions, mistakes, or are wretched people. While I’m all for having characters that are people (and therefore are fallible, have doubts sometimes, make mistakes, and may have flaws), there’s such an emphasis on making sure they aren’t perfect, that people seem to have forgotten what heroes are.

Heroes are the men and the women who step up and do what’s right, no matter how hard it is. They’re the folks who never give up the fight. Sure, they consider quitting. But eventually, they keep fighting for what is right and good, because that’s what  hero does.

To quote The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything*, “The hero isn’t the smartest, strongest, or the best looking. The heroes are the ones who do what’s right.”

What you look for in a hero, which many people try and fake with flaws, is personality. Instead of throwing in random flaws or terrible habits, take the time to develop your characters into the type of person who is a hero. People look to fiction to find heroes (whether we ought to or not). Make your character the type who inspires your readers to do good.

Though, what matters in the end is not whether or not they were a perfect person during the book. They may have made mistakes at times — huge mistakes. But in the end, if they understand, if they want to make it right, if they’ve learned, and if they’ve turned themselves around, they are heroes.

Lancelot never got that. Perhaps, if Lancelot had turned himself around and did his best to make right what couldn’t really be made right, he would still be my favorite character, or at least the Arthurian Legends would still be my favorite of all the legends.

But this once good hero crashed, failed, and did not find redemption. And I never remember loving any other character as much as I loved him. I never cried over a book as much as I cried over him. I never again trusted a hero as much as I trusted him.

You may be laughing to yourself. Boy, does that sound overly dramatic. But it is true.

Make your heroes heroes.  Make them love and live, and die, and make mistakes, but make them right. (Actually, the die part isn’t really necessary.)

As an afterthought: I may still be just a tad prickly about Lancelot. Beware what you comment.

*You may think you’re too old for The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything. You aren’t. It’s one of my favorite movies — and I am very picky about my movies. 

The #1 Rule of Killing Characters

The #1 Rule of Killing Characters

What is the #1 rule of killing characters? 

Aha! You know this one, don’t you?

“Always have a reason for death.” Good rule, but not the rule.

“Never kill off your main character.” Heh…heh…heh.

“Just kill your character and avoid the miraculous healing?” Ah, you are clever, aren’t you? But that’s still not the rule of killing characters.

“The rule is, always have a– *static*” Shh. I’m not ready to reveal what the rule is yet.

You should always have a reason for death. Your plot should always, without fail, benefit from the death of one of your people. Your characters should go on a lovely development arc following the traumatic experience of losing their father, best friend, or love interest (it cannot possibly be the mother, since they’re always dead at the beginning of the story).

You should always have a realistic way for them to die (avoiding shooting your henchmen in the arm and expecting them to die (Roy Rogers, I’m looking at you). There should usually be foreshadowing leading up to the death of a character, but not always.

What, then, could possibly be the rule for killing characters?

In truth, it depends on whether or not you want the character to stay dead.

Assuming you want the character to stay dead, let me show you how to use the most important rule in killing your characters.

You Will Need: 

1. Your character’s body.

And that, good readers, is all.

The #1 Rule of Killing Characters is to have a body. Have a funeral. A memorial service will not do at all; you need to actually have the body mentioned.

I know a few of you will be staring wide-eyed at your computer screen and spluttering in surprise at my apparent morbidity, “Athelas, why?”

A couple of years ago, in the Tales of Goldstone Wood series, a character died off-screen. Immediately, I jumped at that. The character, obviously, was still alive.

Longer ago than that, while the death of a character in Adventures in Odyssey was mentioned, his body never was. Bingo. He was, obviously, still alive.

And, if you have any knowledge of Marvel (while I’ve never watched anything Marvel, I’ve learned quite a bit from Pinterest), you’ll know that a body is absolutely necessary. There are so many other characters I could mention who I knew would be coming back because of their lack of a body. Sometimes I was right, at other times, I was wrong; each time, I waited for the character to stride once again through the door.

While your reputation will determine if a reader automatically assumes the character is still alive, I know I – and several others – will immediately say, “Nope, he’s alive,” if you don’t present the body to us.

The readers assumptions technically change nothing of how the story proceeds, but as any author knows, the reader is always right. Even when they’re wrong, their thoughts, their impressions, and their convictions about the story will never leave them. If you lack a body for your dead character, your reader will be on the edge of their seat, waiting for the fellow to pop up again.

When he doesn’t, you’ll leave them disappointed. And we’re trying to not disappoint our readers, remember?

Make them cry, yes. Make them laugh, yes. But never disappoint them.


Note: I must admit, I’ve been rather lazy about posting on this blog recently. I’m sorry to have disappointed you by being thus, and I shall endeavor to do better.

 

Post Navigation