Monthly Archives: March 2014

Fairy Tales Are For Boys, Too

fairytale2I’ve often thought that fairy tales are unfortunately named. Not many boys want to get near any story that has the name “fairy” or “princess” in it. That sounds like a stereotype – but go ahead, ask the next boy you see how many fairy stories he’s read lately. Or ever.

But I say that if a girl wants to read a story about romance and princesses in towers that just happens to include sword fights and danger … then why can’t a boy want to read a story about sword fights and danger that just happens to include a bit of romance and maybe a princess or two?

I grew up as a bit of a tomboy. I liked having mud sliding contests in the field behind our barn more than I enjoyed playing with dolls. You would have found me by the creek or up a tree more often than you’d have found me in the house (ok, that’s still true…). I liked the scary stories, the adventuresome stories, the stories with pirates and swordfights and battles. I didn’t seek out fairy tales for the romance, and I didn’t much admire the damsels in distress. Yet I read them, and I loved them.knight dragon2

My own son, who is seven, loves them too. He’s not embarrassed to read fairy tales because he, like a true innocent, looks straight at the heart of the story – not at the title or the genre or the implications thereof. And when he looks at the heart of fairy tales, he sees the adventure in them. He is drawn by the mystery and the danger and the ultimate triumph of the hero. He flies around the house, brandishing his wooden sword while his homemade cape billows behind him … he’s a little hero himself. And it’s all because of fantasies and fairy tales and the dreams they have planted in his brave, sweet heart.

Boy, girl, man, woman … do you read fairy tales? What draws you to them? Which are your favorites?

Pictures of the World Through the Wardrobe

I am a huge believer in the capability of art to take us into other worlds. In fact, it’s much the same way I feel about books. And when the two are brought together – a book and the artwork that represents it – the cosmos can utterly explode! Okay, well, they do for me, anyway.

Pauline Baynes was an illustrator of many, many classic children’s books, among them (of course!), The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Recently I came across a special edition of this book at a used book sale, in spanking new condition, with all of Baynes’ original artwork. Eeeekk!! And at 50 cents??!! Yeah, I was very excited.

Flipping through the pages, it came to me, not for the first time, how deeply a picture can make you feel about something, or some place. There are pictures of Narnia and many other stories still floating in my head from the first time I read them. And when those pictures resurface, no matter where I am or what I’m doing, I am instantly pulled back into the warmth and familiarity of the world they represent. It’s a truly wonderful feeling to know you have the power, within your own imagination, to tap into endless worlds, wonders, magic, and adventures at any given time.

So in honor of this wonderful artist (of whose illustrations Tolkien’s friends said had reduced his text to a mere “commentary on the drawings”), and in honor of the bewitching quality of art itself, I’m posting several of the illustrations from the original version of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Are they what you imagine when you see Narnia? Which illustrators and/or works of art transport you into far worlds?

narnia!pauline+baynes+illustrations!Lucy+and+Mr+Tumnus+$28The+Lion+the+Witch+and+the+Wardrobe$29_473x500   book1edmundandqueen

Wardrobe2  book1edmundanddwarf

Fox3  8dd234d75c3f57e892b2cc8fba574a95

Wardrobe3  wardrobe-baynes

Edits, ARCs and a Tree House

This week I’ve been working on edits for THE WORD CHANGERS. The first round was finished a few weeks ago, and the second round (thankfully!) was much less intense. There will likely be a third round quite soon, which will probably be the last! *Happy dance!*

My publisher informs me he hopes to have ARCs for THE WORD CHANGERS printed by the end of this month. As in … March. THIS MONTH!books1

What, you may very well ask, is an ARC?? Well, truth be told, I was wondering that myself not so many moons ago …

It is, my friend, an “Advanced Reader Copy.” What that means is that, while THE WORD CHANGERS may not have completed its final edit quite yet, the unfinished paperback version of it will be available to certain readers chosen by my publisher, so that reviews will be available and circulating before the actual release date of the book.

ARCs are pretty great, huh? And I may decide to do a giveaway for one of my copies in exchange for a blog/Goodreads/Amazon review … so keep watching for that!

So, yes, THE WORD CHANGERS is not yet out and the edits have been much less than horrible. But have I been idling away my time? Nope. I am nearing the end of a brand new book! Eeek! For those of you write, you know how exciting it is to get near that finish line. Today I finished my second-to-last chapter … just one to go! I’m so close, I can just smell it!

It’s not a sequel to THE WORD CHANGERS, as many people have asked me, although it is a YA fantasy (of course!). And while I really prefer writing standalone books, this one has turned into a duology. It was simply too much to put into one book, and I think it works well as a two-book set. So once all the work is finished on the first one (edits and revisions and other fun things) I will be plugging away at the second one. I can’t say much about it now because even my agent hasn’t seen it yet – but I hope to tell you more in the coming months.

Oh, and one more exciting thing … my 6-year-old wants me to inform everyone his treehouse is now officialy finished and ready to play in! Right in time for spring!

Yay for edits and ARCs and tree houses!

What In the World is “Christian” Fantasy?

aslanlucy

Truthfully? I don’t know.

All right, I know how I myself define Christian fantasy, let’s put it that way. But a clear-cut definition that pleases everyone? Not sure that will ever happen.

So, here’s what I think: I think a Christian fantasy story can be one of a few things. For now I’m going to assume that you are as familiar with “fantasy” books as I am, and we will skip the “fantasy” definition and move right along to what makes a book a “Christian” fantasy. Shall we?

1. A fantasy story that has parallels to Christianity.

There are many stories we could look at in this way – even stories that the author herself may not have intended to write from a Christian worldview at all. Perhaps the author wasn’t even a Christian! I think of books like Harry Potter (which, let’s face it, has a lot of Christian parallels if you look at it at the right angle), or even the Lord of the Rings trilogy (although Tolkien himself specifically said this book was not based on Christianity). Did the authors intend these books to symbolize Christ or Christianity? No. Can we as readers see and enjoy the parallels in these beloved stories that compare to our own Christian walk? Yes!

2. A fantasy story that has intentional Christian symbolism in its characters or theme.bright sword

Think of Lewis’ Narnia, think of Anne Elisabeth Stengl’s Heartless. There are characters who represent me and you, human and faulted. And there is the One over them all who makes everything right in the end, who reveals to us the characteristics that we as Christians know our God Himself possesses. For some (mostly non-Christian readers), this type of symbolism is too much – too obvious or “preachy.” Me, I like it. Hey – I write it! It gives me a premise I know already, the foundation of a spiritual world I cannot see but which is around me every day, and then inserts characters and situations that are adventuresome and intriguing. Yeah, there’s symbolism – no one’s arguing that. But it’s meant to be obvious, it’s meant to take something you’ve thought of a thousand times and make you see it in a new light.

3. A fantasy story where God is simply represented as Himself, with no parallels or symbolism.

Ok, I’ll admit, I have yet to read a story like his, although I have seriously considered writing one myself. I have heard of one or two books like this, which are fantasy stories that include God as we know Him. Have you read anything similar? Let me know – I’d love to read it, too!

4. A fantasy story where, even if a God-like character does not exist, true biblical values are made obvious in the book’s theme because of the author’s worldview.

This one is much more subtle. What we as Christians call “biblical” values and truths are sometimes claimed by the world as well. Truth, honor, integrity, patience, love … these were created by God, my friend, and without Him they have little value. But some books that include these virtues would require quite a stretch of imagination to label as “Christian.” These virtues, therefore, aren’t the sole criteria for a book to be “Christian” fantasy. So, the final judgment would have to be based on the individual book, and on the author’s worldview and intention in writing it.

I think it’s important to note that there are a multitude of books out there, fantasy and otherwise, that have religious symbolism, even books that have a God-figure in them. This most definitely does not make them Christian. If a book has a world with parallels to Christianity, it needs to be based on what the Bible defines as Christianity. If a book has a character that represents God, he needs to show God’s real attributes as revealed in the Bible itself. The Golden Compass is a good example of the opposite of this – religious symbolism gone wrong.

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My Cover Art and Future Giveaways

For any of you who didn’t get a chance to check out the official Cover Reveal over at Anne Elisabeth Stengl’s blog, here’s the cover for my book, THE WORD CHANGERS, which releases in June.

TheWordChangersFinal

The giveaway at Anne Elisabeth’s is over, but don’t worry! I will be doing another giveaway when the book releases. I also plan on doing drawings for prizes when I get a certain amount of reviews for the book on Goodreads or Amazon. So if you want to be part of it, swing by Goodreads and add it to your to-be-read list (and send a friend request my way, too, if you’d like!), or you can follow me on Facebook for updates.

As I am learning, there are many things that don’t go exactly as you wish for your book, and though I originally had other ideas for my cover, I am pleased all the same with how it turned out! Hope you are, too!