Monthly Archives: April 2014

Interview with Pauline Harris, Author of MECHANICAL

I’m so excited to have Pauline on my blog today! She is the author of the MG/YA sci-fi dystopian book Mechanical, which is celebrating its first anniversary of publication. In honor of its anniversary, Pauline is hosting a giveaway on Goodreads, so don’t forget to stop over there after you read her interview and try to win a copy of your own! Also find her on her blog and Twitter.

Here’s a bit about Mechanical.

Mechanical.Book.CoverDrew is an android. From the very beginning of her existence, she has been programmed by her creators to understand her superiority and overwhelming responsibilities. She was created for a mission, a mission more important than anything she could ever have imagined. Drew is sent to a high school to observe the humans and report back to her creators. But when she begins to form friendships with these humans and starts feeling strange human emotions, she doubts the creators’ ways of dealing with her and wonders whether her mission is as wonderful as it once seemed. As Drew falls deeper and deeper into the mystery surrounding her mission and her creation, she’s suddenly left with a choice. Does she follow through with what she’s known all her life or does she act on what she now knows is right?

And here’s the interview with the lovely author herself!

What are the three things in your life that are most important to you?

My faith, my family, and then just the things that make me happy – writing included. 😉

 

Mechanical has a premise that sounds just thrilling! Can you tell us about how you were inspired to write this story?

Well, a lot of the time I come up with the title first and am inspired by the title to write the story. So one day I was thinking up fun titles for books and “Mechanical” popped into my head. I loved the sound of it and wondered what a book called “Mechanical” would be about. I decided it would have to be robots, and moved on from there.

 

If you had to choose a favorite character from Mechanical, who would it be, and why?

Definitely Yvonne. She’s a supporting character but she plays a pretty large role. If you ever read the book, you’ll see she’s kind of a nasty character, though. But what I like about her is that a) she was SO fun to write about with her snarky attitude and unpredictable behavior, and b) she’s very confident and fearless which are character traits I really admire.

 

What part of the writing process is the most difficult for you? What part is the most enjoyable?

Hmmm…this is a tough one. It might sound odd, but just sitting down and forcing myself to write when I’m not feeling inspired is the hardest part for me. I love coming up with the ideas and thinking up the plot and the characters and for me, that’s the easiest part. It’s sitting down and just writing every day to get the book done that’s the hardest.

 

When did you decide you’d like to become a writer, and what inspired you to take that step?

It’s funny because I can’t really remember an exact time in my life where I thought, “I’m going to be a writer.” It just sort of happened. I’ve been writing stories since I was a little kid and when I was about twelve I wrote my first book-length story. My dad actually suggested I try to publish it and from then on I dedicated my free time to researching the industry and just never gave up.

 

If you had to pick a book or an author who has changed or inspired you more than any other, what/who would it be?

I would probably have to say the Maximum Ride series by James Patterson. I remember reading those when I was about twelve or thirteen and they really sparked my passion for writing – science fiction specifically. I can remember thinking to myself, “Wow, I want to be able to write something this good someday.” And that really inspired me in some of my early projects.

 

So what, if any, are the project(s) you are currently working on? Any new books your fans should be looking for?

I’m currently really into fairytale retellings, especially with a fun twist on things. Lately I’ve been into taking traditionally male centered fairytales (Pinocchio, Peter Pan, etc.) and making the main characters girls. And retellings are just about the most fun things to write in the world. So hopefully a few of those will be coming out soon.

 

Could you share a paragraph or two from Mechanical?

The prologue for Mechanical is pretty short, so here it is:

I looked down at the body that was now mine. I wiggled my fingers and toes and realized, with some surprise, that I could feel them. I nearly jumped as a piece of hair fell in my face, brushing softly against my skin. I had forgotten what it was like to have hair or any other part of the body for that matter. Or was it that I had never really known at all? I couldn’t be sure.

I had long slender arms, and when I stood up, I saw that I towered over most of the people in the room. As I tried to take a step, I faltered and saw numerous people come towards me to catch my fall.

Seeing—this was also a new sensation for me. So much to take in all at once. The intricacy of how every little nerve had to be working just right for your eyes to adjust to the smallest speck of light.

For so long, I hadn’t been anything at all. I didn’t remember much of the last few years, only nothingness, the sense of weightlessness and no feeling whatsoever. I wondered if that was what death was like; if I had experienced some form of it. For, when the weeks turned into years I had started to think I really was dead; that no one was coming back for me as promised.

But all had ended up well for here I was, alive again, or so it seemed.

The scientists crowded around me, talking all at once.

“…your mission…”

“…imperative that you…”

“…never do this…”

“…if you don’t…”

I listened for a while, taking in what they needed me to know, but soon the talk of the mission subsided and new talk began. Or should I say old? I tuned them out when the subject came up, for I had already heard it too many times. I didn’t need to hear it again.

I knew what I was. There was no need to remind me or sugarcoat it to make me feel better. They acted as though what I was would be a terrible disappointment to me, as though it would tear me apart if they didn’t approach me in just the right manner.

I didn’t understand that. Was my existence something horrible? I didn’t think so; I had never known anything else. All I had ever known were these people and they were the strange ones, not I.

I saw right through their fancy and elaborate ways to explain my existence. I understood what I was and accepted it.

I wasn’t human, they’d told me. I was made up of parts; millions of parts put together to resemble human form. I wasn’t a real person. I wasn’t really alive. I was a robot, synthetic. I was a thing to be used when needed.

I was mechanical.

Pauline Harris author pic

 

Pauline C. Harris is an eighteen-year old author of science fiction books for kids and teenagers. She started writing stories when she was eight and after she self-published her first book at the age of fourteen, moved on to write the Mechanical Trilogy. Other than writing, she spends most of her time reading sci-fi books, watching black and white movies, drinking tea, and trying to survive her college classes.

Mechanical is her first professionally published novel.

 

Mechanical sounds amazing, doesn’t it?!  Don’t forget to leave a comment or question for Pauline below, and head on over to Goodreads for her awesome giveaway!

Inspiration in the Garden

J40J39

As a birthday surprise a couple of days ago, my son and husband planned a trip to one of my favorite gardens. The sun was shining, the breeze was cool, the flowers were smiling, and the whole garden was awash with color and life. The perfect day for a long stroll through the gardens, thanking God for His beautiful creation and my time with family.

As we wandered through the iris and daylily gardens, I noticed marker after marker of unique names that had been given to the different versions of these flowers. I wrote some of them down (ok, a lot of them …) while my husband and son took a breather in the shade.

 

Some of the names were silly, some were creative, and some were just plain inspiring. I’ll be honest, I started seeing some of these as titles to possible stories! I even started getting ideas for the stories themselves … I just couldn’t help myself!

 

Here are some of my favorites. Aren’t they inspiring? Do any stories come to mind for you when you read them?

 

Fox GrapeJ19

Peach Fairy

Little Gypsy Girl

Dragon’s Orb

Patchwork Puzzle

Dark Avenger

Glowing Inferno

Minstrel’s Fire

Lavender Kingdom

Book of Magic

Smuggler’s Song

Magic Lake

Dragon KingJ15

Raven’s Rage

Irish Issues

Piranha Smile

Hebrew Maiden

Little Damsel

When I Dream

Royal Braid

Demon Rum

Believe in Tomorrow

Gentle Shepherd

Web Spinner

Pale Moon WindmillJ26

Beautiful Jealous Eyes

Cinderella’s Dark Side

Mask of Eternity

Cinderella’s Blush

Starman’s Quest

Yesterday Today and Tomorrow

Dragon Prince

Tigerling

Enchanter’s Spell

Walking Into the Sun

White Wizard

Laughing GiraffeJ41

Paper Butterfly

Pirate’s Patch

Moses’ Fire

Dauntless

Ruffled Pinafore

Skinwalker

Primal Scream

Moonlit Masquerade

Stardust Dragon

Dark Design

Peace Prayer

Follow the Fleet

Poet’s Rhyme

Park Avenue Princess

Uncharted Seas

Crimson King

Innocent Devil

Grindelwald

Names of Strength and Whimsy in Literature

While researching names for my next book, I began thinking of all the names I’ve always loved from my favorite stories. What makes a good name, exactly? Does it need to have a certain sound? A particular meaning? A “feel” to it – happy, solemn, playful or fateful?

I came up with a list of several of my favorite names and tried to reason out why I admired them so much.

Thorin Oakenshield – now that’s a name! Thorin has such a powerful sound to it. And I love how Oakenshield serves to never let the reader forget what act of bravery this small dwarf performed to deserve such a great name.character names - pickwick

Tom Pinch.  With names like Pickwick, Peerybingle, Honeythunder, Tulkinghorn, Sweedlepipe, Turveydrop and Spottletoe, Tom Pinch may be one of the shortest and plainest names for a character that Dickens ever wrote. I’m not sure why I’ve always liked it. It’s honest and simple and a bit funny – just like the character himself. … I suppose I just answered my own question.

Meriadoc Brandybuck and, of course, his friend and companion Peregrin Took. Why do I like these names? Just say them out loud and you’ll understand 😉 But these two hobbits could change their names for all I care … they have my heart, regardless.

Ichabod Crane. Now, while I can’t greatly admire the actual character of this self-centered, superstitious schoolmaster, you’ve got to admit his name fits him to a tee. Ichabod is pretentious and humorous at the same time, and Crane gives us the image of a lank, gangling man – just, I may imagine, what the author intended.

Breehy-hinny-brinny-hoohy-hah (or Bree for short). Bree is a rather stuck-up, know-it-all horse who could tell you anything you wanted to know about Narnia, despite the fact that he’s never been there himself.  His name is long and horsey and rather affected, like himself, and it’s that similarity that draws me to it. Ok, also his name is just plain fun! But he’s character names - breelovable despite his faults, and in the end Aslan takes care of that pesky arrogance anyway … as he always does!

A-through-L. His mother was a wyvern and he has good reason to believe his father was a library. Therefore he is a hybrid – a Wyverary, of course. He knows all there is about any subject that begins with letters A through L, naturally, but if you want to know about anything out of his expertise, just ask his siblings, M-Through-S or T-Through-Z. Any questions as to why I’m in love with the very idea of this ingenious character written by Catherynne Valente?!

Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore.  A name that is both daunting and playful, both strong and gentle. Who wouldn’t take someone with that name seriously? Who wouldn’t want to know him better?

Galadriel.  The name is beautiful. She’s beautiful. Enough said.character names - puddleglum

Puddleglum. This Narnian Marshwiggle is possibly one of my favorite characters of all time. His name tells us about the way he is on the outside, and what we think of him from the beginning: he’s glum, pure and simple. But … the part I love the best is how, through his gloomy cynicism, he trusts Aslan more purely and single-mindedly than any other character in Lewis’ entire series. In the end, Puddleglum isn’t so glum at all, really.

If you are a writer, how do you name your characters?

If you are a reader, what are your favorite character names, and why?

Death Means Life

Harry Potter is struck down by his archenemy, visits the in-between, and makes the choice to return and finish what needs to be done – that is, conquer evil in the form of Lord Voldemort, thus saving not only the wizarding world, but the world entire.

Death, for Harry, meant life.

Gandalf the Grey is taken down into darkness by the Balrog, only to later return a much greater and stronger wizard: Gandalf the White.

Death of the Grey meant birth of the White.

Persephone is taken by the god of death, Hades, every autumn and made to live with him in his kingdom of darkness beneath the earth. Yet each year she returns to the world above, bringing spring and new life in her wake.phoenix

Death, for Persephone, meant the promise of life.

The mythical creature, the phoenix, is famous for its ability to rise from the ashes of its own fiery death.

Death means life.

Neo moves between the Matrix and the real world, doing and understanding things no one else can. He is The One. After death has claimed him, Trinity kisses him, commands him to get up. And he does.

So his death meant life.

Aslan the Lion dies to save one boy, Edmund, whose life was forfeit because of the wrong he had done. In saving this one child, Aslan saves all of Narnia from the clutches of the White Witch. But it wasn’t his dying that saved Narnia – it was his use of the Deeper Magic to turn death backwards, and rise again.

Thus, death means life.

There isn’t one of these stories or characters that fails to affect me deeply. Their stories are ones I love to read and watch and ponder time and again. In fact, a few of them hold places in my heart as the best stories I’ve ever read.

The best, save one.

For there could be no life after death without Jesus, could there? There could not even be the thought of it – the very idea of it – without Jesus. We humans could not even begin to imagine such a vast concept.

Stories are about hope, more times than not. We love them because they give us a promise that our lives, no matter how dark, can one day stumble into the light.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

cross seaA phoenix rising can give us the confidence of new beginnings. The Matrix can remind us there is a truer world than the one we live in – one that eyes cannot see. Aslan goes a step further still, and gives us a direct idea of what Jesus did for us. For you are the Edmund Aslan died for. I am the Edmund he died for.

Yet still, nothing compares to the true story, the one that happened in our very own world more than 2,000 years ago.

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)

Had you guessed that you are living out a fairy tale? Can you fathom that your life has the capability of being more thrilling than any fantasy? Did you know the hope you have is greater than anything found in a novel?

Because this is the True Fairy Tale. The one that started the rest. The one that turned death backwards and conquered the darkness.

I’m thankful for books – so thankful for them. And the Bible is closer to my heart than any other. But these other stories are God’s work as well – the stories that bring us back to the Bible, to a better understanding of Jesus, His death, and what his resurrection means to us: life eternal.

The Fairy Tale Gospel

This is a guest post by Brent King.

Deeper than our deepest longings, fairy tales tell truths about our inner and outer world, truths that are either too obvious for modern men or too truthful. Take, for instance, Little Red Riding Hood. It affirms that the world is dangerous, that there is an evil wolf that will eat us up if given the chance. Yet there is also a huntsman who can slay the wolf and save us. The great themes of sin and redemption are encapsulated in such a story in a clever and deeply symbolic way.

It’s All About the Good News

GK Chesterton said that the deepest truth about fairy tales was not that dragons exist, but that they can be beaten. Who doesn’t see the bad news about dragons? They lurk all around us in our broken world. It’s the good news of their defeat that we need to hear.

The Pagans Knew More!

Many of our modern tales do not reflect this reality. In these stories, the young girl easily defeats the wolf or the protagonist befriends the dragon and they live happily together ever after. Consequently, our children are assured that wolves and dragons can be effortlessly vanquished. The pagans of old knew more about the dragons than we do!dragon and knight2

It Seems Impossible

The good news in those ancient stories is that, beyond all hope, the dragon has been defeated. They are stories that seem impossible. We have all seen the pictures of the hideous monster dwarfing the brave knight wielding a sword. How can that story ever have a happy ending?

Yet it is this hope that lies at the root of our fascination with fairy stories: that good will triumph against all odds. The eucatastrophe, as Tolkien called it, of the fairy tale represents the heart of the Gospel: the dragon has been destroyed. The princess has been rescued, and she will live happily ever after with the prince.

A Primal Story

Fairy tales hold power over the human heart because they reflect the Gospel story, a story that rejects the idea of the princess saving herself. Of course, this is the primal story. It tells of a God who made the world and man. It tells of a malevolent angel’s attack, and man’s defeat and captivity. It was a rout so complete that, to save men, God had to become a man and fight the enemy Himself.

That is What Happened, but We Tell the Story Like This:

Once upon a time there was a lovely damsel who fell in love with a prince. Through her own folly, she was captured by a necromancer, drugged, and confined in his dark tower. The prince disguised himself as a commoner and entered into his shadow-shrouded stronghold to rescue her. But the sorcerer was too strong and slew the prince. Yet he could not combat the ancient magic that brought the prince back to life. The prince subdued the sorcerer and his minions, rescued the princess, and took her back to his kingdom where they lived happily ever after.

An Enduring Story

We tell and retell this story, as if we can’t get enough. Somewhere deep inside, we all know it is true. It awakens our imagination, rousing us in a way that religion cannot. No one, anywhere in this world, is immune to its power. It revives a hope of victory that reaches down into this broken world from beyond.

This is the Fairy Tale Gospel

The fairy tale world shares the darkness of our world, yet its world powerfully pictures a place where marvelous and unbelievable things truly happen, where good battles evil and survives to tell the tale. This is the fairy tale gospel: a gospel that introduces us to the true Gospel so that our once upon a time can indeed become a happily ever after.

 

Brent King is a freelance writer of Christian fantasy and historical fiction from Lake Oswego, Oregon.

First ARC Proof for THE WORD CHANGERS

ARC proof4

My publisher warned me ahead of time it was coming, but I still wasn’t really prepared.  What a surreal feeling to see my name on the cover of a book at last, to see my own words written in the pages, my own characters walking around and doing things just on the other side of that unsuspicious-looking cover….

It’s a proof for the ARC, which will be corrected and printed as the ARC, which will then be corrected a final time and printed to officially release in June. Just another step in a lengthy process … but such an exciting step!  Is it any wonder I wanted to share it with you?!  God has certainly blessed me 🙂

Thanks so much, my sweet fans, for stopping a moment to celebrate with me!  Now you can get back to your usual Saturday doings ….

My Interview at Covers and Ink

Covers and Ink

Jillian over at the oh-so-lovely Covers and Ink blog did an author interview with me, which she posted yesterday!  Here is the link for it if you’d like to read it, and don’t forget to browse her archives while you’re there, where she muses about books, writing, and life!

The Birth of the Hobbit

hobbiton

The word Hobbit was soon to be as much a magical word for Professor Tolkien as Hocus-Pocus was for any fairy-tale magician. In fact, Hobbit was the most important single word that ever inspired him to invent a story. (David Day, The Hobbit Companion)

Hob.

A short enough word, simple and unsuspicious. Is this how it all began for Tolkien many years ago? Looking at it, as a word in and of itself, and as a prefix to many other words, we can find a wealth of meaning and inspiration that Tolkien himself was almost certainly aware of when creating the world of The Shire and beyond.

A word in existence long before Tolkien took it for his own purposes, a Hob was a fairy, an elf, or an imaginary being. Hob comes from the root word hump, originally meaning hill in Low German. A Hob can also be a spirit that builds its home in a hollow hill.

Imaginary being? Home in a hollow hill? Any of this sounding familiar yet?

Now for words beginning with the prefix ‘hob.’ See if you can spot the ways Tolkien may have taken the following words and used them when assigning characteristics to his beloved Shire-lings.

Hobbledehoy: A stripling; a half-man.hobbit1

Hobnob: To drink together; a friendly chat.

Hobbyhorse: A medieval morris dancer.

Hobnail: A country clodhopper.

Hobbyhorsical: Whimsical, amusing.

Hobbyist: Someone who pursues an interest for pleasure or relaxation.

Hobbiler: A name used in the Middle Ages for a farmer who may also be called upon to fight.

Hobbler: Someone who tows a boat with rope along the shore.

Hobo: Originated as “hoe boy” or itinerant farm worker.

We’re plain, quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty, disturbing, uncomfortable things, they make you late for dinner. (J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit)

Tolkien was to have been quoted as saying, “I am in fact a hobbit in all but size.” And I think he must have been. The astounding work and depth of heart he put into this group of peaceful, quirky creatures made his love for them obvious.

At a height of just over 5 feet, I also happen to be a lover of peace, and quiet, and good-tilled earth. I sometimes wonder if I’m only missing the hole in the ground … and the large hairy feet, of course.

A Few Things About Dragons

“Never laugh at live dragons.”

― J.R.R. Tolkiendragon4

 

“Fairy tales do not give the child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon.”

― G.K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles

 

“My armor is like tenfold shields, my teeth are swords, my claws spears, the shock of my tail a thunderbolt, my wings a hurricane, and my breath death!”

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

 

“No dragon can resist the fascination of riddling talk and of wasting time trying to understand it.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

 

dragon3“A dragon’s heart burns fiercely, even in the face of evil.”

― S.G. Rogers, Jon Hansen and the Dragon Clan of Yden

 

“The hunger of a dragon is slow to wake, but hard to sate.”

― Ursula K. Le Guin

 

“Let me tell you: the only way to get rid of dragons is to have one of your own.”

― Evgeny Shvarts

 

“He had turned into a dragon while he was asleep. Sleeping on a dragon’s hoard with greedy, dragonish thoughts in his heart, he had become a dragon himself.”

― C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

 

“And that is the story of the boy who cried ‘Dragon!’  Of course, when dragons sit around the campire at night or tuck their children into bed, they tell the story of the dragon who cried ‘Boy!'”

― Mike Resnick, Young Warriors: Stories of Strength

 

“There is so much more to slaying dragons than a code of honor and a damsel. It’s a complicated series of fate and destiny.”

― Yesenia Barkley

 

“The age of chivalry is past. Bores have succeeded to dragons.”

– Charles Dickens

 

“But it is one thing to read about dragons and another to meet them.”dragon5

― Ursula K. Le Guin, A Wizard of Earthsea

 

“Come not between the dragon and his wrath.” – William Shakespeare, King Lear

 

“They say dragons never truly die. No matter how many times you kill them.”

― S.G. Rogers, Jon Hansen and the Dragon Clan of Yden

 

“He who fights too long against dragons becomes a dragon himself; and if you gaze too long into the abyss, the abyss will gaze into you.”

– Friedrich Nietzsche

 

“Here be dragons to be slain, here be rich rewards to gain; / If we perish in the seeking, why, how small a thing is death!”

― Dorothy L. Sayers, Catholic Tales and Christian Songs

 

“Noble dragons don’t have friends. The nearest they can get to the idea is an enemy who is still alive.”

― Terry Pratchett, Guards! Guards!

 

“Speak politely to an enraged dragon.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien

 

“So comes snow after fire, and even dragons have their endings.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

 

 

Noah: A Deluge of Nonsense, or Not?

I’ll admit, I have yet to see this new, highly debated movie. I’ve read review after review of it, though. All of them seem to be in one extreme or the other: love or hate.noah

The two following reviews are by Christians who express these opposing extremes of opinion. Click on the links if you’d like to read the entire review(s).

Austin Gunderson wrote a review of Noah for the Speculative Faith website (one of my favorite websites ever, by the way), in which he claims the movie is “the greatest work of Christian speculative cinema” he’s ever seen. Strong words! He nearly had me convinced to jump up and head to the theater … until I read another review….

This one is by Matt Walsh, radically outspoken conservative/Christian blogger, and he calls Noah a “ridiculous train wreck,” which is amongst the least of his strongly-opinionated views of the movie.

So what’s a Christian to do?

Have you seen the Noah movie? What’s your opinion?