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Are Fairy Tales a Waste of Time?

This is a guest post by Brent King.

As a Christian urban fantasy author I have been confronted, as have many of my writing partners, by those who doubt that fantasy, or fairy stories, have any anchor in the real world. Worse yet, some have argued that they take their reader far out of this world into an imaginary place that has no connection to reality.

Is this true? Are fairy stories a mindless waste of time? Do they lure our minds away from reality into an anchorless world of fantasy?

What Fairy Tales Do

It’s true, when we experience a good fairy tale it allows us to open up a place inside of us where we can actually believe its enchantments. It is thrilling to go adventuring with Kyran and Posy, or on a quest with Frodo, but does it snow-white-933491really have anything to do with our world?

The answer is a resounding “yes.” Fairy tales:

  • give us a lens to see the world in a startling new way.
  • help us to see our lives not only as they are, but as they could be (or perhaps should be).
  • touch us in their most signature way by how we experience their endings: that sudden, unexpected joy that washes over us in the miraculous grace of what Tolkien called the “eucatastrophe.”

But How Can This Be?

Fairy stories are only successful to the extent that they reflect our world. Who would be moved by a story to which they could not relate? The only reason why the fairy world attracts us is because it is fashioned after the truth of our world.

Indeed the fairy world is our world, a world of wonder we can experience in the real—right now. There is awe, wonder, and amazement in our world. There is beauty and redemption beyond all our evil and brokenness. The problem is that our eyes are often too compromised, shaken, pacified, unfocused, jaded, or injured to see it.

take-532097Where Fairy Tales Shine

This is where fantasy shines. In a world where the simple virtues of God have become routine and expected, a fairy tale catches us off-guard and we are surprised by the truth. It breaks through what CS Lewis referred to as our “stained-glass and Sunday school associations,” and the result is pure delight. This was JRR Tolkien’s point in his lecture on fairy tales:

“The peculiar quality of the ”joy” in successful Fantasy can thus be explained as a sudden glimpse of the underlying reality or truth.”

Teaching by Delighting

A good story both delights and teaches, and that is the power of a great fairy tale. It teaches by delighting. This anchors the fairy tale deep in the real world, powerfully connecting it to our lives in ways that are essential to society.

Are Fairy Tales A Waste of Time?

Are fairy tales a waste of time? Only if teaching truth is a waste of time. There is realm of awe and wonder in our world, scenes of beauty and redemption, yet many of us would miss them without a good story, indeed, without a grounding fairy tale.

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Brent KingBrent King is a freelance writer of Christian urban fantasy from Lake Oswego, Oregon. He also works as a massage therapist and health consultant. He has two sons, 20 and 23, who live in British Columbia, Canada.
Brent’s first book, The Grip of Grace: God’s Hand in The Lord of the Rings, was published in January, 2014. His debut novel, The Fiercest Fight, was published in November 2015.
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Book Blurb Blues

I’ve been in the process of writing and polishing the back cover description for my upcoming novella. And I’ll tell you the truth – it’s not fun at all. I keep wanting to shout, “But I’m a book writer, not a blurb writer! I’m good at unraveling my story over the long haul, not condensing all of it into a tight little space!”

I think it comes down to a few specific things that should be included. Here’s my very amateur go at it. Ready?

Setting: Things need to be mentioned in the blurb that give the reader an idea of where this story takes place and what open bookthey are walking into. Whatever these end up being – certain qualities/people/creatures/props – they should be given a nod in order to create a sense of setting. Many of these depend on the genre. Fantasy more so than most, I think.

Characters: Ok, no-brainer. The main character has to be introduced, along with any other character who is important to the plot as a whole. Maybe even the antagonist. After all, books are about people first and foremost, right?

Goals: More than just mentioning the main character, we have to know what she desires. What is the crux of her journey, whether it’s a physical, spiritual or emotional one? I want to know up front that this girl has something driving her forward. Otherwise I’ll suspect that I’m in for a yawn-worthy read.

Complication: Is there a person or circumstance that is thwarting her from her goal? Well, we need to know about that too. A little bit. Don’t give too much away, though. The reader will want to hear about it, certainly; otherwise, why open the book at all? But I personally have difficulty with this one. How much to tell without giving too much away and ruining important surprises, but making it enough that it creates curiosity in the reader? It’s a very fine line, my friend.

Stakes: What is at risk if the main character doesn’t (or perhaps does!) obtain what she wants? Will she lose her life? Her family? Her self-respect? Her cat? All of the above? Whatever the stakes are, a blurb-reader wants to know them up front. Or at least I always do. It puts that extra fire in me that says, “I just have to know what happens!!”

Hope: So the poor main character has been given an ultimatum, a timeframe to achieve something, a roadblock that is seemingly impassable. What now? Well again, a simple blurb can’t give too much away. But we at least need to see that glimmer – that small flash of hope that tells us things might be … could be … all right.

Brevity: Ah, brevity, my bane. It’s like trying to fit my post-baby self into the size 4 jeans I wore a few short years ago. Not likely. I need a serious word diet to get the 25,000 words of my novella into a 200-word blurb. It’s painful, I’m not gonna lie. It takes lots of trimmings and re-writes. Lots.

So …. aaallll these things need to fit into a blurb? Yep. Ok, well, most of them. Some of them can be accomplished with a few very choice words. Some of them, such as setting, can be almost implied between the lines without ever mentioning directly at all.

Yep, I’ve got my work cut out for me.

So what are the things that draw you in when you read a book blurb? What is most likely to get you to pick up a book and say, “I have to take this home and read it right now!”

The King’s Scrolls Character Spotlight: Prince Daniel

I’m pleased to host Jaye L. Knight on my blog today, the author of the newly released fantasy, The King’s Scrolls! It’s the second book in the Ilyon Chronicles, and I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about both books! The character being spotlighted today is Prince Daniel. He sounds quite intriguing to me!

First, here’s a bit about the book itself:

The King's ScrollsFollowing the harrowing events that brought them to Landale Forest, Jace and Kyrin have settled comfortably into their new lives and the mission of protecting those under the emperor’s persecution. The fast approach of winter brings with it the anticipation of a quiet few months ahead. That is until the arrival of four mysterious, dragon-riding cretes who seek aid in a mission of great importance—not only to their own people, but to all followers of Elôm.

Hidden in the vast mining valley north of Valcré, a faithful crete has spent years sharing his knowledge with the destitute miners and their families and is known to possess what may be Arcacia’s last surviving copies of the King’s Scrolls—the Word of Elôm. Joining the cretes, those in Landale must find the crete teacher and bring him to safety, but it is a race against time. Should Daican’s men find him first, execution and the destruction of the Scrolls is certain.

When disaster strikes, all seems lost. Could Elôm have a plan even in the enemy’s triumph?

Available on Amazon!

Buy Now

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Character Spotlight – Prince Daniel

Appearance: Short dark hair, amber eyes, fit, 6’1” tall.

Age: 24

Race: Human

History: Daniel is the prince of Arcacia and Emperor Daican’s only son and heir. However, he does just about everything he can to voice his displeasure over it in hopes of getting disowned rather than be the future emperor his father wants him to be.

Author’s Notes: Daniel is an absolute delight to work with. He’s one of those characters where, as a writer, you get a little giddy as soon as they enter the scene because they completely take over. Seriously, I can’t believe some of the things that come out of his mouth. It’s awesome. From the moment he burst (literally) into the story, he’s been one of my favorite characters. The funny thing is, he’s only had about five scenes total so far. The King’s Scrolls is the first time readers will get to see things from his point-of-view. But despite only having a few scenes between the first two books of Ilyon Chronicles, he’s already made his mark. And don’t worry Daniel fans, his story is coming. It’ll just require a little patience (easier said than done, right?) to get to it.

I was just looking back at my early notes for any interesting tidbits on Daniel, but I really couldn’t find anything. I wish I remembered more about his creation process, but I think he was just one of those rare characters who came along so fully developed in my mind that I just didn’t need to keep many notes. I do remember, though, that I went through quite an interesting process when it came to “casting” him. I love having pictures of my characters to make them more complete and real in my mind, so I’m always on the lookout for just the right person to use as inspiration. Around the time I started writing Resistance was when I started using Pinterest. And, as I would be going through different boards, I kept coming across pictures of Henry Cavill. Every time I saw one, something whispered in my mind, “That’s Daniel.” But I was stubborn. I was like, “Nope. That’s not how I picture him.” I was determined to hang on to that initial image I had in my mind for his character. But I just kept coming across those pictures, and every time they would tug at me. This maybe went on for a month or two of determined stubbornness. And that’s when I found this particular picture of Henry Cavill. Immediately, I was like, “Oh my goodness, that’s Daniel!” Everything about it just screamed his character, especially that little smirk that would so infuriate his father. So, I released my stubbornness and fully embraced this image of Daniel. I don’t regret it at all. He’s so clear in my mind now that I don’t even remember what my initial image I was so determined to hang onto was anymore. Sometimes, regardless of how you think things should be, you just have to let your characters be who they want to be. Many times it turns out even better in the end.

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TOUR SCHEDULE

Don’t forget to visit the other places along the blog tour for The King’s Scrolls!

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SALE!

Haven’t begun the adventure into Ilyon? From February 17th – 23rd (today’s the last day!!) get Resistance , the award-winning first book of Ilyon Chronicles for your Kindle on sale for only 99 cents! Check it out on Amazon!

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GIVEAWAY!

Share in the excitement of the release and enter to win a themed Epic Winter giveaway! Prize pack includes an autographed copy of The King’s Scrolls, a CD by Future World Music (some of Jaye’s favorite writing music), a dragon bookmark, a stone hawk pendant (much like the ones mentioned in the book), and a few packages of Twining’s Winter Spice tea to sip while you read! (Giveaway is open to US residents only. Cannot be shipped internationally.)

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Jaye KnightJaye L. Knight is a homeschool graduated indie author with a passion for writing Christian fantasy and clean new adult fiction. Armed with an active imagination and love for adventure, Jaye weaves stories of truth, faith, and courage with the message that even in the deepest darkness, God’s love shines as a light to offer hope. She has been penning stories since the age of eight and resides in the Northwoods of Wisconsin.

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

WANTED: Newsletter Signer-Uppers!

Yep, I finally got a newsletter. See the button for signup, over in my sidebar? Yeah, that’s it!

For those of you wondering: What’s the difference between signing up for a newsletter and following a blog? Well, there are several things that set newsletters apart.

My newsletters won’t be as … ahem, random … as my blog posts. Neither will they be as frequent. You can expect them something like once every other month. They will be focused on specifics, a few of which are:

1.) Book news. Release dates, exclusive content like as-yet-unseen chapters or excerpts, and any other important announcements regarding my books and stories.

2.) Opportunities. Newsletter followers will get first dibs on things like beta reading and reviewing opportunities.

3.) Condensed blog info. If you don’t fancy getting an email every single time I publish a blog post, my newsletter will give you a rundown of the most popular posts I’ve published recently (with links), and you can pick and choose (or not!) which ones you’d like to read. No clutter in your inbox … always a good thing!

4.) Fun Stuff. Even if you don’t follow my blog, my newsletter will keep you up to date on things like giveaways and promos. Also any other fun tidbits from elsewhere on my various social media that you may have missed.

Click here to sign up for my newsletter, or click on the lovely green sidebar button!

First Drafts and Dragons

first draft 2

Well, my friends, I am feeling a strange mixture of utter relief and tension right now. It’s the feeling that comes when a first draft is finished (relief), and edits loom large (tension) ….

Yes, you heard me. Mere minutes ago I typed the last sentence of my book. It is the second of a series I am working on (I finished the first draft of the first book earlier this year). It’s a thrilling feeling, to say the least! Especially as this is a bigger undertaking than I’ve ever tackled before. From a girl who has written only standalones, a series is a daunting task. As of now I have written the first two books, and have many plans and ideas for the third book, although it may be a while before I begin officially working on it.

What, you ask, are these books about? Well, I’m always a bit reluctant to say much about my WIPs while they are still in first-draft form – even to my own family! But I will give you a few clues.

Firstly, there are dragons. And anyone who knows me knows how much I adore dragons. I’ve longed to put them in a book for many years, but dragon1hadn’t found the right story for them until now. And I’m so excited about them, although to be honest, a little nervous about how I’ve pulled it off …!

Secondly, and probably obviously, these books are of the Christian fantasy genre, just as The Word Changers was. There is an element of allegory, an element of mystery, a great deal of adventure and intrigue and danger, and a bit of romance.

Thirdly, these books are told from multiple points of view. There are two protagonists – one is a male and one is a female. The story is told alternately from their viewpoints, something else I’ve wanted to do for a long time but didn’t quite have the courage for. The male viewpoint was a difficult one, and when I’m editing I’m sure I will have to sharpen his voice and think many manly thoughts in order to get it just right …! Perhaps some of the men in my life will be willing to read the book and offer their wisdom! 😉 😉

I am giving myself a week or two off before I begin edits. And by “off,” I mean that I will probably just tackle another writing project while I wait.  A short story, perhaps … or maybe a brand new book. I’ve got ideas for both of those things rattling around in my brain right now, so we’ll see.

So thanks to those who prayed for me and encouraged me as I struggled through the ending of this book (you know who you are!), and to those of you who I pray get to read these labors sometime in the distant future. I truly couldn’t do it without you, or without God, the true Author of all our stories.

Have a blessed weekend!

You Can’t Go Home Again

Thomas Wolfe said it. “You can’t go home again.” And he was right.

This past weekend, I visited my hometown. The one I was born in. The one where I grew up. The place I went to school, wrote my first stories, received my first kiss, made my best friends, had my heart broken by a childhood that flew away all too swiftly.

It is a small town, a boring town, even. But for me it’s a town full of ghosts and memories. And when I visited there, I found myself wanting to walk with those ghosts. I wanted to climb into the memories that were some of my happiest and live in them. Pretend I was a child again and that the world didn’t hold nameless horrors in the future for me or those I love.

But I can’t. No one can.

Because you can’t go home again.

I took my son to the beloved library that was “mine” as a child, just a block away from where I lived. I watched him climb the same stairs that I used to, touch the same books, walk the same creaky floorboards. Yet nothing was as it had been when I was a child myself.

My hometown library

My hometown library

Rooms had changed. The library itself is more than three times larger than it used to be. Walls had been taken down, others had gone up. Squeaky floors and new floors met together beneath fresh, flat carpeting the color of a robin’s egg.

I went to stand in the same spot where I had stood so many years ago, gazing at the bookshelves, dreaming of crawling into the worlds between the pages … the seeds of what eventually grew into The Word Changers. But it was no longer a children’s book room, and the space I stood in was awkwardly between magazine racks and “new release” shelves.

You just can’t go home again. Not really.

I watched as my favorite “story-time lady” talked to my son. She had always been my favorite as a child – you know, the type who does the voices, makes the faces, practically jumps out of her chair with animation. Her face – the one that was so familiar and yet somehow so changed – had been a large part of my growing to love books. I saw the eventual recognition come into her eyes when I began talking to her. She shook her head, not believing so much time had passed. She told me my son would be my age in the blink of an eye, and it would be him taking his own kids to story-time. After I left I realized I should have told her what her stories always meant to me … what they still mean.

Perhaps I’ll do it next time I go home again …

Then we drove by the house I grew up in. It’s practically the only one left standing on the block, and it’s barely standing at all. In place of the roses my mom used to grow were sparsely-leafed bushes and broken cement. The fence my grandpa had put in had lost so many panels you could see straight through into the yard. And that was the worst shock of all. Because there in the backyard was the playhouse my dad had built for my sister and me. It was leaning sideways against the garage, hovered against the bushes like a huge, sad, beaten animal. I saw the tea parties that had been had in that playhouse, the dolls and sleepovers and board games and neighborhood clubhouse meetings, the laughter and even the arguments …. Ghosts and memories.

I want to go home again … I long to go home again. This past Friday, visiting my old haunts, remembering that fleeting, thoughtless joy I had as a child … I ached to go home with every fiber of my body.

That’s when God spoke.

“This world is not your home.”

Simple words, stern and gentle at once.

father's handIt came to me, slowly at first, and then in a rush. And I realized what I had really known all along. That you can’t go home again because “home” isn’t a place. It’s a state of mind, a feeling, an age, a group of people, a combination of events and objects, a transient, bittersweet moment of time that you don’t realize even happened until it’s over and gone and irretrievable. A wisp of cloud, a sweet, faint scent in the wind.

You can’t go home again because you’ve never really been home at all.

Thank goodness the home God has in mind for me isn’t made up of these things. Worldly things. Fleeting things. No, the home He calls me to, the home I should be spending all my longing on, is entirely different. It’s heavenly, and eternal, and all else pales in
comparison to its splendor. I’m blessed to have that hope. And I’m a fool if I let myself stay locked and lost within the past, beautiful as it may have been.

So I have a choice before me, one I have to make every day, in fact. I can take the memories and the happiness and even the sweetness that feels so much like sadness, and I can either mourn over them, or I can let them remind me of where I’m going…. through the narrow gate, to a place where tears and sorrow will be gone forever. A place that my heart yearns for, though I’ve never seen it. A place that’s in front of me, and not behind.

My home, of course.

 

Interview with Author Tialla Rising

Tialla Rising is the charming authoress of Holding the Future Hostage, a Christian action/adventure with a sci-fi twist … does that sound exciting or what?!  She is currently working on its sequel, Where Shadows Lie.

Hope you enjoy getting to know her better! I know I have!

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Tialla, welcome to Finding the True Fairy Tale! It’s an honor to have you by for a chat! First of all, could you tell us a bit about yourself? Hobbies, history, family, eye color … shoe size 😉

Hi, Ashlee!  Thanks for having me.  Well, first and foremost, I’m a born-again Christian, and I strive to honor the Lord with the stories I write.  I published my debut novel in 2012, graduated high school in 2013, and I’m *hoping* to publish my second novel autumn of 2014.  I live in the mountains of Arizona with my family (yes, mountains – where we have seventy degree weather in the summer and OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAsnow in the winter).

Aside from writing, I’m also a Marketing Representative for the website LetsHomeschoolHighSchool.com.  In my spare time, I work on my books, read and review novels, and – when I’m completely exhausted and just cannot work any longer – I provide job-security for Netflix.

I have green eyes, I’m 5’3” and I wear a women’s 7 ½ shoe size. 😉  I have a huge weakness for shoes, earrings, and summer dresses.  One strange fact about me: I always have to feel busy – and if I’m not crazy busy, I feel lazy.  I’ve burned myself out from this multiple times in the past year, but I just can’t break the habit.

If your present phase of life was a book, what genre would it be told in, and what would its title be?

Oh, this is tricky.  I suppose it would be in the Christian Fiction genre (nothing so exciting as action or drama), and I think the title would simply be, “Choices.”  I know that’s fairly vague, but…it fits.  At this point in time, I am confronted with essential choices regarding every aspect of my life.

I’ve wanted to be a writer for a long time – as long as I can remember, in fact, except for a short period where it was a toss-up between a carpenter and a ballerina… 🙂 What is the first thing you remember aspiring to as a young child? Was it being a writer – or something different altogether?

I didn’t even consider writing my own stories until I was eleven, so being a writer certainly wasn’t always on my list.  For the longest time, I wanted to be a veterinarian.  My parents even purchased multiple veterinarian computer games for me – which I adored.  I eventually grew out of that phase, though.  I think seeing the suffering animals is what did it for me – I love them too much to witness so many hurting and injured creatures.

Holding the Future Hostage (Tialla Rising)Your books, titled Holding the Future Hostage and Where Shadows Lie, sound fascinating! Are they part of a series, or standalones? Can you tell us a little about how your ideas for them came about and/or evolved?

Thank you!  I will more than likely end up making a trilogy out of these books – maybe even four books.  HTFH can definitely be standalone; however, WSL is a sequel.  I have been marketing it as a standalone as well, but after hearing back from one of my proofreaders, I’ve decided readers would understand it better if they read HTFH beforehand.  Fun fact: my third book *may* end up as a prequel.

The ideas for HTFH truly came as I wrote.  I didn’t outline anything, and I honestly had no idea what I was doing when I wrote the first draft (thank the LORD for revisions!).  I was only running on inspiration from a single photograph of a large rock formation, which I titled, “The Stone Megalith.”  I imagined a girl swimming in the water nearby, and everything grew from there.

My inspiration for WSL was much different.  Shawn was the second character to make an appearance in HTFH, and from that first moment, something about him attracted me.  In fact, I took a whole week away from editing HTFH to fill notebooks with “who Shawn is,” “where he comes from,” “why he is the way he is,” and so on.  He absolutely intrigued and fascinated me – I just had to tell his story.  However, HTFH wasn’t the place.  Once it was published, though, I knew without a doubt that my next book would tell Shawn’s story.  And that’s how Where Shadows Lie was born. 🙂

If you had to describe Shawn, your most recent main character, in just three words, what would they be?

Conflicted. Loyal. Determined.

When a reader closes the last page of your latest book, Where Shadows Lie, what message or feeling do you hope they will walk away with?

The message truly has several dimensions.

I would like for readers to know that no matter where they come from, and no matter how dark their past may be, God’s strength is powerful enough to lift the shadows – and also that even though God’s power is sufficient, it still takes work.  We have to *want* it – enough to not let anything stop us, even ourselves.  After all, if God is on our side, who can stand against us?

I also pray that readers come away with the feeling that even if they are drowning in the darkness, as long as they are pursuing God’s will, there is always a thread of hope.

I’ve made phone calls to strangers, I’ve done Google searches on grisly, embarrassing or disturbing things … all in the name of writing! Do you have a story about a crazy or quirky thing you’ve done to further your writing or creativity?

Ahh, what we do to add to the realism. 🙂

I suppose one of the more disturbing things I’ve done is when I asked my Dad about the very intricate process of how someone might go about extracting money from a stranger’s bank account without arousing suspicion (my father is a former police officer).

I’ve also contacted complete strangers in India to tell me about daily life there, as well as ask all my friends what qualifies a person as a “cool bad guy,” and if they could give any examples.  And LOTS of rather grisly Google searches (like, “can someone survive a stomach knife wound” and “how to assemble a shaped-charge car bomb”).

We writers have undoubtedly captured the government’s attention.

I won’t ask that dreaded question: “what’s your favorite book?”!!  But I would like to know if you could name three books (any genre or type) that you think everyone in the world would benefit from reading…

(The Bible is a given.)

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.  This is one of my absolute favorite books, and I do think everyone needs to read it.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.  This book is just so intense on so many levels…I really believe it’s a necessary read.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe.  This classic was incredibly hard to get through, but it has impacted me more than any other book, and I feel like it’s a story everyone needs to know.

Lastly, would you mind sharing a short excerpt from one of your books with us?

Sure!  Here is a bit of dialogue from my work-in-progress, Where Shadows Lie.

***

It wasn’t until we were nearly three blocks away that I realized what had happened.  I froze mid-step.  “Did he say trained killer?”

A smug expression crossed Jackson’s face.  “I was wondering when that would dawn on you.  You’re not actually going to take him up on that, are you?  Hiring an assassin seems a little…dramatic.”

I started walking again, and looked down, watching my feet.  I wasn’t sure what to think.  It did sound dramatic but…compared to everything Max had done to us, was it really such a bad idea?  No…well, if I didn’t get caught, that is.  I would not go back to jail.  Then again…I had decided to do everything to avoid prison because I didn’t want to lose Ginny.  I lost her anyway, so what was holding me back?  Get the guy off my back, serve time if I got caught, then get on with the rest of my life.

A hand on my shoulder stopped me.  I glanced up at Jackson; his eyes burned with determination.  “No matter how many enemies you eliminate, Shawn, there will always be someone ready to take his place.  Be careful what you choose.”

***

Thanks for having me, Ashlee!  This was so much fun.

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Tialla Rising Author Pic

Tialla Rising is a Christian young woman living with her family in the mountains of Arizona. She loves to write and will work long into the night developing her stories. Like most writers, Tialla spends her spare time reading. A good book, a stormy day, and an iced coffee comprise her favorite moments.

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Summer of Ups and Downs

Death …

The past weeks have included a lot of ups and downs around our house. For those of you who remember when we got our puppy, Pilot, a few months back, it pains me to say that we lost him just a couple of weeks ago. He died, we believe, of a disease young dogs sometimes get. Fine one day … horribly sick the next. My 7-year-old, my husband, and myself were (and are) heartbroken, to say the least. It’s a sad thing to lose your dog … and it’s a sadder thing to watch your child’s little heart break because of that loss. God certainly put a special place in people’s hearts for their pets, and Pilot will always be in ours.

Pilot and my little Bug were rarely apart.

Birth …

Several days after Pilot’s death, our cat, Princess Peach, had a kitten. Yes … just a single kitten! And this was, in fact, perfect. If there had been any more, we would have had to find homes for them. This way we get to keep our precious little kitty (named Toad). While the pain of Pilot’s death won’t end anytime soon, this new fluffy addition to our household has helped a small bit.

Our tiny Toad

 

First Drafts…

Having completed the first book of my new two-book project, I have been attempting to concentrate a bit more on finishing up the first draft of  Book 2. I’ve sent very, very rough synopses of both Book 1 and Book 2 to my agent, although I fear she may be a bit bewildered with the fractured and confusing way they were put together! These books are still in early stages, and they are the first books that aren’t stand-alones I have ever written – quite daunting! But the confusing synopses are only temporary … things will be ironed out during edits, as usual. It’s nothing some hard-core revisions and trusty beta readers won’t be able to handle!  My hope (fingers crossed!) is to have revisions completed, and finished drafts of both books in my agent’s hands, by the end of the year. Then I’ll be able to start talking a bit about them here on my blog! Can’t wait.

Introvert Overkill …

The past few weeks have been full of other things as well.

I got to visit for the day with a friend I hadn’t seen in more than four years.

One of my very close childhood friends got engaged!!

I spent a “girls” weekend with my cousins and sister (sans kiddos!), just shopping, watching movies, chatting, swimming and laughing ’til we cried.

And I am gearing up for my son to attend school. We home-schooled this past year, but decided a small local Christian school was the best choice this year. I’m sure my Bug will have no problems adapting … it’s Mom who will be the emotional mess during the first week of school!

So, yeah. A lot going on for this introverted girl 🙂  I’m just plain worn out.

How has your summer been going? What have you been up to? Relaxing in the sun … or something new and exciting?

My Writing Process

I was tagged in this fun writing process blog tour by two of my favorite bloggers, Deborah and Sarah. So here we go!

What I am working on.

I recently finished the first draft of another YA fantasy, and am already about halfway through the sequel to it. When I’m finished with the sequel, my plan is to edit and revise both of the books at the same time. I also have a couple of short stories I hope to writehand writing soon (we’ll see if I have time!). In the midst of all of that, several weeks ago a brand new book idea (middle-grade fantasy this time!) dropped on me from nowhere, and I couldn’t help writing down a rough outline for it … I’m super excited about it, of course, although it will be a while before I can begin working on it.

How my work differs from others of its genre.

I love reading entertaining books, funny books, serious books, meaningful books. And though I’ve wanted to write books like that for as long as I can remember, I’ve always felt I couldn’t simply just write an entertaining story. My stories, as I hope my life does as well, point toward God. And I hope that they not only do that, but that they also tell my readers something new, or unsuspected, about their faith, God, or their relationship to Him.

Why I write what I write.

While I enjoy fantasy more than any other genre, I feel also that fantasy serves my purposes better – the purpose of reaching people in a way that’s not preachy or moralizing, but instead natural and even surprising. What could be more unexpected about a fantastical fairy tale world than finding a path leading you right back to your true home? I talk about why I write fantasy in more detail in this blog post, if you’re interested!

keyboardMy writing process.

My usual process for a book goes something like this:

  1. First draft (usually takes between 6-9 months)
  2. When finished with my first draft, I like to work on something completely different, or simply concentrate on reading, while my manuscript sits for 1-2 weeks.
  3. Now come the “big picture” revisions – that is, fixing structural things that don’t flow right, plot lines that are out of skew, character arcs that don’t work, scenes that are out of place or need to be cut altogether … etc.
  4. For my second round of revisions I normally concentrate on things like dialogue, descriptions, wording, flow, and grammatical errors.
  5. In the past I haven’t used beta readers – but that has changed! I look forward to being able to send my newer manuscripts to some trusted writers/friends who will be able to give me a sound critique of my work.
  6. After the beta readers have given their advice, and I have changed anything that needs to be changed, off goes the manuscript to my agent, and from there … who knows! Maybe more edits and revisions … maybe straight into the hands of editors or publishers.

Currently, as a stay-at-home mom, I don’t have an actual writing schedule I stick to. I wish I could! But it’s just impossible right now. This coming school year, though, I hope to implement a fairly strict writing routine, and to become more consistently productive. Daily word counts … here I come!

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I am supposed to tag others to post answers to these topics as well, but instead I’ll just leave it up to you. Any of my followers who would like to fill everyone in on their own writing process (if you write!), fire away! Leave your answers in the comments, or post it on your own blog and leave the link below. I look forward to hearing from you!

Words of Freedom

What a perfect day for hearing all of the great things that can be said about our freedom!

 

“Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth.” (George Washington)

“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.” (Charlotte Bronte)

Flag pallets

I had to snap a picture of this patriotic display we saw on the way to visit family!

“Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in our bosoms. Our defense is in the preservation of the spirit which prizes liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands, everywhere.” (Abraham Lincoln)

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3:17)

“There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me.” (Jane Austen)

“And the turtles, of course … all the turtles are free, as turtles and, maybe, all creatures should be.” (Dr. Seuss)

“Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, cannot long retain it.” (Abraham Lincoln)

“Freedom (n.): To ask nothing. To expect nothing. To depend on nothing.” (Ayn Rand)

“People have only as much liberty as they have the intelligence to want and the courage to take.” (Emma Goldman)

“Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.” (1 Peter 2:16)

“I am an American; free born and free bred, where I acknowledge no man as my superior, except for his own worth, or as my freedom flowerinferior, except for his own demerit.”  (Theodore Roosevelt)

“Freedom lies in being bold.” (Robert Frost)

“True freedom is impossible without a mind made free by discipline.” (Mortimer J. Adler)

“The first duty of a man is to think for himself.” (Jose Marti)
“He who has overcome his fears will truly be free.” (Aristotle)

“Freedom is what we do with what is done to us.” (Jean-Paul Sartre)

“Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility.” (Sigmund Freud)

“Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.” (Benjamin Franklin)

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” (Nelson Mandela)

“In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” (Ephesians 3:12)

“Injustice in the end produces independence.” (Voltaire)

“The time is near at hand which must determine whether Americans are to be free men or slaves.” (George Washington)

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36)

 

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY, EVERYONE!