Thursday, August 4, 2016

Lady Dragon, Tela Du Cover Reveal

Hey everyone!  I'm popping out of oblivion to take part in a cover reveal for my friend Kendra's upcoming book Lady Dragon, Tela Du; the second book in the Rizkaland Legends series.  Book One, Water Princess, Fire Prince, is an excellent fantasy novel and I recommend both it and Lady Dragon, Tela Du.  (Yes, I am a beta reader.  Be jealous. :D)

Amber, the Lady Dragon, has been promised a fifty-year reign over Rizkaland and nothing can stop her from claiming it. But when you've lived six thousand years, fifty is such a pitiful number. Only one person can keep her from making this reign permanent - the Tela Du, a girl who shall share Amber's face.

The last thing Petra wants is a magical world interrupting her plans for a normal life, let alone an ultimate battle against the Lady Dragon with only one prophesied survivor. She has her childhood best friend, Reuben, at her side, but she's not sure if he's more of a help or a hindrance right now. Though she'd much prefer to just return home and forget about this whole crazy affair, things change when she discovers that the world has surprising connections to her own family - including her sister who disappeared without a trace two years before. Still, Rizkaland can't possibly expect her to risk her very life, can it?

Kendra E. Ardnek is a homeschool graduate who picked up a pen at an early age and never put it down. The eldest of four, she makes her home in the Piney Woods of East Texas with her parents, younger siblings, giant herd of giraffes, and honor guard of nutcrackers.

Book links:
Preorder Book:

As a special offer, the first Rizkaland book - Water Princess, Fire Prince - is free on Kindle today:

Connect with Kendra:
Official Website:

Cover Design Credit: Benjamin Ingalls -

For fun, take a look at one of the visual inspirations for Petra, the FMC of Lady Dragon, Tela Du.

Kendra says: Petra’s mother grew up in England, so Petra has some very British tendencies. Such as drinking tea. The ignoring people, though, is just Petra.

Are you ready for the cover?

Keep an eye out for the book this fall!

Monday, July 25, 2016

I've Put This Off For Far Too Long....

I've been reading Fellowship of the Ring aloud to my siblings and have all the quotes from both book and movie fresh in my head. :D

With a title like that I've probably got all of you searching through your heads for some reason as to why I'd write that.  I regret to announce that...

I am moving to South Korea and therefore am saying goodbye to blogging.

No, not really.  If I were, I sure as blazes wouldn't be regretting it, and I would most definitely blog about it... rendering unnecessary the real announcement.

I am taking an official semi-break from blogging and some other online activities.

It's been a looong time in coming.  I haven't posted regularly since early last year sometime or even before that.  I keep trying to, keep meaning to, and it hasn't been working.  I've been tagged by people (Carolyn most recently) and haven't yet done the tags.  I have a zillion drafts sitting in my blogger draftbox.  I have literal lists of topics I keep wanting to post about.

My mother has been telling me for YEARS that I need to take a break and I refused to listen.  More than once this spring and summer, she's repeated that.  When my MuseTwin and I were discussing stress recently, I suggested that what she needed was an official semi-hiatus from many online activities.  She agreed and immediately implemented it.  For three days I fought the idea that I also needed one, and then finally, in another discussion between us, she (figuratively) grabbed me by the shoulders and insisted I needed to take one also.  I finally capitulated.  (FYI: if you want to be a super stubborn person your whole life who wins almost every single battle ever, don't get an awesome soul sister and don't have a mom who knows you very well.  Especially not a soul sister who can threaten as well as you can... or a mom whose 'I told you so' look is as fiendish as your own.)

All of that to say that no, I'm not disappearing from blogging- stars, no.  I'd miss you all too much.  I'll still post now and then, but for now, I need to set the official seal on taking a break and restoring some energy and fun to my spirit.  I'll also be less active on Facebook, and other online areas.  I don't know for how long, but it won't drag on for months and months, I can assure you of that.  I'll still be /around/- reading blogs, commenting here and there, emailing, FB messaging... but I won't be forcing myself to do online things on days when I just want to write or go do something else.

I wish each and every one of you a happy, blessed summer, and look forward to seeing you more when I return.  Thank you for staying with me this long.

Until our next meeting....

Friday, July 22, 2016

Cover Reveal ~ The Rose and the Balloon

Many months ago, one of my dearest blogging friends emailed me to say she'd finished the short story retelling of Beauty and the Beast that she was writing and did I want to beta read it?  I immediately said yes and pounced on it when it appeared in my inbox.  I laughed my way through it and clapped at the end.  Now, Kiri is publishing that story and today, I'm delighted to reveal the cover!

In a kingdom where fauna and flora are held in higher esteem than breakfast, Dmitri is a prince who yearns for change and plans it in a single daring act that will alter his life forever. However, when his demented mother accidentally causes the destruction of a prized garden of roses, Dmitri is horrified when she proposes his hand in marriage to make up for it. Not only will a wife hamper his glorious plans, he doesn't even want one.

Janelle has spent her whole life on her father's rose farm, tending the roses and staying simple. But she really yearns for something greater than the flower beds. But now there's a wrench thrown in the works – the crazy Queen Maeva wants her to marry the prince, and all for ruining her father's beloved roses.

This is Beauty and the Beast with a twist like you've never seen it before.

The Author:
Kirsten Fichter is a twenty-something Christian writer who is trying to find the balance between being one of six kids, a church pianist, a college student, a movie buff, a disaster in the kitchen, and a writing INFP. If you know what the secret is to balancing all of that, she’d be grateful to hear from you. Otherwise, don’t contact her unless you want to send her homemade gingerbread. Or a new piano book. Or an autographed Charles Dickens novel. In the meantime, she’ll be somewhere under a maple tree – trying very hard to finish the seventeen and half other stories she unwisely started all at once.

Connect with Kirsten:
RatB on Goodreads
RatB on Pinterest


Thursday, July 14, 2016

Green: Envy or Healthy Jealousy?

'Healthy jealousy?' you ask.  'Oh stars, Melody's off her rocker.'  Ehehe, maybe and maybe not.

Apropos of using spare moments in the last several weeks to analyze the various friendships I have and how they all fit together- like different colors in an embroidery tapestry- I've been doing a lot of thinking on the different kinds of love that exist, the different kinds of friendship, and on jealousy.  As usual, when I finally came to some conclusions late last night (showers are wonderful places for helping one think) I bounced the thoughts off my soul sister, the final step in my thinking.  Bouncing thoughts off of her clarifies them for me.

The New Oxford American Dictionary defines 'jealous' as:
1) 'feeling or showing envy of someone or of their achievements and advantages'
2) 'feeling or showing suspicion of someone's unfaithfulness in a relationship'
3) 'fiercely protective or vigilant of one's rights or possessions'
4) '(of God) demanding faithfulness and exclusive worship'

We're taught that jealousy is a bad thing.  In the context of the first meaning above, it is.  Being jealous of someone's achievements or their skill or their personality is understandable, but frustratingly silly at times because God made each of us different.  Sometimes it seems like one person has better talents or is more likable than you are, but your focus is in the wrong place if you think that makes you less than them.  Instead of wishing you had someone else's friends or their talents or skills or their advantages, take a long, hard, HONEST look at who you are and what you do have and try to understand how you fit in the world and God's plan.

With the the second and third meanings above, the prevailing belief in many Christian circles seems to be that jealousy is an evil thing that poisons relationships and that if you feel it, you're giving in to Satan's evil influences and you're being weak and silly and you need to do something about that.

But.  God says more than once throughout the Old Testament that he is a jealous God (see meaning #4).  That if His people turn away, He won't strive with them forever and will at some point punish them because He won't tolerate other loves in their spiritual heart.

A lot of people (including me at one point) assume that jealousy in human relationships exists as a result of sin in the world.  But we're made in God's image, are we not?  We are created to have certain kinds of relationships that are exclusive.  The 'eros' love- what we in the Western cultures call 'romantic' love- is the foremost example of this.  We are created to only have one romantic love at a time.  (No, people, I don't subscribe to the 'polyamory is actually fine and possible' belief.) 

It's actually natural and right and /in His image/ that IF there is suspicion that your romantic partner is wandering in their love to you, there be jealousy.  Thinking that there might be unfaithfulness is you being protective of your rights in that relationship.  It's not clingy or needy to notice that something might be wrong.

But sin enters in where we're all fallible humans.  We make mistakes.  Sometimes we'll think someone is wandering in their love and they aren't.  But we won't know that if it's not discussed.  The only surefire cures for jealousy are 100% honesty and then faith in the other person.  'Hey, wife, it feels like you're spending an awful lot of time with him.  Can we talk about this?  Can we spend more time together?'  'Hey, husband, I know you and she are friends from way back but that familiarity with her, that's making me uncomfortable.'

Sometimes, it really is an issue that needs to be changed and sometimes, after it's been discussed, you figure out it's not really an issue after all, but either way, it requires ABSOLUTE HONESTY.  And then having faith in the other person that when they say 'I really do love you more than anyone else in the world' and then DEMONSTRATE IT, that they mean it.  (And to clarify, yes, there are a lot of people who have a difficult time balancing emotions with reason or faith and belief in their partner, and hence do become ridiculously jealous and needy and clingy.  Also, there are plenty of people who say they love you but don't back it up with actions and yes, that's also a problem.)

In friendships, the issues become at once both simpler and more complicated.  We are not created to exclusively have one 'phileo' love- what we in Western cultures know as 'platonic love'.  We were created to spread that around.  Because of the way human personalities interact and intersect, people usually have 'levels' of friends.  Some people only have one friend period (I feel sorry for them).   Some have one best friend, others have five best friends.  Beyond those, they have close friends, then good friends, then friends, etc.  Friendships are not supposed to occupy the exact same place in our hearts that romantic relationships do.  They have their own place and yet they are no less important, and can be almost as deep as the relationship with your spouse.  But, although each of those phileo loves is unique, it's common for jealousy to exist in friendships, and it's not always a bad thing.

Firstly, it means that the friendship means enough to one or both of the participants for one of them to feel protective of their place in the other person's life or of the other person's place in their life.  Secondly, it means that they're observant enough to have noticed a change in the relationship and to feel concern over it.  As with romance, there is one way to handle it if you even want to try to fix it.  100% honesty.  'Hey, A, we don't spend as much time together as we used to, can we change that?'  "Hey, B, I feel like you're not talking to me as much about the important things in your life; why not?'

'Well, all this is fine and good', you say, 'but what about clinginess in either friendships or romantic relationships?  People do get awfully clingy sometimes.  Jealous girlfriend/boyfriend is a cliche for a reason.'
Yes, they do.  But.  Healthy jealousy is often mistaken for clinginess.  There is a difference and sometimes it's very hard to tell where the line is.  The New Oxford American dictionary defines clinginess in regards to relationships as: 'overly dependent on someone emotionally'.

Clinginess isn't saying 'hey, there is something unsatisfactorily different about our relationship now, is there something we can do about that?'- whether you're talking to your girlfriend, husband or friend.  Clinginess is calling someone a dozen times a day because you feel insecure about your relationship unless you are talking to them almost incessantly.  It's pitching fits about every little thing that your friend does without you.  It's constantly guilt tripping people with 'I thought we were friends; don't you like me anymore?'  It's freaking out when someone doesn't reply to your FB message within an hour.

In conclusion, sometimes jealousy isn't the green of envy; it's the green of an alive relationship realizing there might be something wrong that needs to be fixed, some dead growth to be pruned to keep the relationship healthy and growing.  100% honesty is not an absolute fix- sometimes it won't work for a variety of reasons- but it's the best starting point you can have.

May you have happy, healthy, honest relationships.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Death More Than Usual; Or, Random Mirrody Conversations #2

[For #1, see this post.]

One of my favorite parts of every day is chatting with my best friend, MuseTwin, and soulsister Mirriam.  Our conversations zigzag from history ('The Ptolemies made the Lannisters look normal') to philosophy ('If people won't learn, they deserve to be ruled by those who do learn') to every other subject under the sun.  She's always up for whatever bizarre topic I throw at her and many and varied are the discussions which make up the mosaic of our friendship.  A few nights ago I came online after supper and a conversation ensued which had each of us laughing harder than we have in a while.  I present the conversation here for your amusement, with a few minor rearrangements made for better reading flow.

Me: Just finished dinner, which was a hilarious meal.

Mirriam: Why was dinner hilarious??
Me: Because it consisted of (among other things) beginning a discussion on hanging vs burning alive as the least desirable method of death with my 12-year-old brother- which was quickly shut down by Erudessa (my sister) because APPARENTLY some people don't like to discuss that kind of thing over dinner. Go figure.


Me: RIGHT? So boring.

Mirriam: Also, I've thought about it multiple times and I would much rather be hung, thank you.

Me: I'd rather be hung, too. There is only type of death that I find more gruesome than hanging and it's being burned alive.  But if I get to choose the way I go, it's poison or firing squad.

Mirriam: SEE FOR ME HANGING IS LIKE. A GOOD WAY TO GO. HANGING IS A+ compared to things like burning alive or the iron maiden or skinned alive or dismembered by four horses etc.

Me: Well, when you put it like that, it is definitely an attractive option.

Mirriam: That's my thought.  
I mean, poison + firing squad are definitely the best, but hanging is a pretty decent way to go
.  comparatively.
  Particularly if your neck snaps. xD

Me: Exactly. The main reason I find hanging rather distasteful, as far as manners of expiration go, is because I dislike the struggle if the neck does not snap.

Mirriam: True; I'd rather not slowly suffocate while my insides burst, /but/ I would rather suffocate than, say, be crucified. I mean honestly I've thought about this quite a lot and hanging is in the second-best death category, after firing squad or poison.

Me: I've thought about it, too, though not usually including more medieval forms of death. But in light of those supposedly less 'civilized' kinds of death, I would place hanging in third best, I think. Second best would be having my throat cut.

Mirriam: How did we get onto this subject again?

Me: Because it's JuNo and our thoughts run to death more than usual.

Mirriam: TRUE.  I would say it depends on where the throat is cut, because it can be either immediate and painless, or you can drown in your own blood; soooooooo it would all depend. xD

Me:  Exactly. Depending on WHERE it was cut, it would be my second favorite death. Though hanging is certainly looking more attractive by the minute.

Mirriam: I'm trying to bring hanging back as a method of swift justice XD

Me: There is definitely something poetic about a rope noose, or a necktie party.  My stomach is very full and is starting to slightly ache with how hard I'm laughing.

Mirriam: I'm sorry I can't help you I'm laughing too xDDDD


Mirriam: Here I was like 'ah yes all showered, all clean, got coffee, time to settle down and do a little quiet writing'.

Me: And then I burst onto the stage.


Me: Resplendent in bloody philosophical glory.

Mirriam: This conversation is Ferdinand + Isabella approved.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Space Kitties 2 Cover Reveal, Giveaway and Interview with E. Kaiser

Several months ago, a friend posted on FB asking for someone to fill in for a judge who'd had to drop out of an anthology contest.  I volunteered and that's how I came on board the Space Kitties 2: Searching the Cosmos team.  I enjoyed reading the submissions, scoring the entries and following along with the rest of the process.  Today, I'm thrilled to introduce you to the finished anthology!  My Standard Operating Procedure still holds - you have to scroll through the whole post to see the cover at the end. :)

Throughout the week, each of the seven authors will be featured on a blog.  If you comment on any of the blog tour posts, your name will be added to a drawing for an ebook copy of Space Kitties 2.  (If you win the Facebook party giveaway, you are not eligible for the blog tour giveaway.)

June 4 - Facebook party 1:00 - 6:00P.M. Central Time
~ Tour kickoff and cover reveal at E. Kaiser Writes A Blog
~ Interview with E Kaiser at The Splendor Falls
June 5 - Interview with Jamie Mortensen at Lesa McKee
June 6 - Interview with Lesa McKee at Bookworm Reading
~ FB giveaway winner announced
June 7 - Interview with Rachel Harris at Bookish Orchestrations
June 8 - Interview with Faith Blum at Rachel Rossano's Words
June 9 - Interview with H.L. Burke at Jessica Greyson
June 10 - Interview with Aletha Bakke at H.L. Burke, Author
June 11 - blog giveaway winner announced and tour wrap-up at E. Kaiser Writes A Blog

Here today for an interview is Space Kitties contest mastermind, editor and author E. Kaiser Writes.,1,213x249/ 
 E. Kaiser Writes credits her nearly nomadic childhood for the vast reach of her fictional worlds; she has lived (and gotten to known the locals) in the Rocky Mtns, the Smoky Mtns, the plains, the deep forest, the searing Texas summer and frozen Minnesota north.

She wears many hats: writer and editor of ad copy, web copy, office correspondence & fiction; a cowgirl, animal trainer, seamstress, jeweler, artist and... authoress!

Welcome to The Splendor Falls, E!

What is the synopsis of your Space Kitties tale?
Well, when an A.S.P. ship (Air & Space Patrol) unwittingly gets involved with a monopod stealing Company princess, someone must go down onto a young world and get the runaway golden kitty back. Two somebodies get picked... and it's too bad that the young lieutenant and the Scotch Terrier have been quarreling thus far.

What inspired you to write it?
I wanted to play with some classic lines from pop-sci-fi, so I built the story to accommodate a subverted usage of some of science fictions most popular catch phrases. It really came to life, and I think many people won't even notice the way I snuck the lines in amongst the action of the plot.
[My favorite was the 'Beam up, Scotty'.]
Oh, well.

How long did it take you to write?
I probably came back to it over the course of a month or two. It's only 10k words, so it's not that big of a deal. I write in spurts, so the first 10k of anything is usually pretty easy to get... putting the finalization on it is always the hardest part!

Was there any music you liked to listen to while you wrote?
I am a "silence is golden" type of writer. I like to "hear" the special effects in my mind while they're playing out, so too much auditory stimulation is actually a terribly frustrating thing.

What was your reaction when you found out that your story had been selected for the anthology?
I was thrilled! Of course I was... as the main host editor, I have the lovely job of accepting the submissions, stripping them of all identifying info, and then compiling them into documents for the judges to assess "blind." I put my stripped story in amongst the rest and it had every chance of "getting the gate" like any other! As it was, reading the judges scores on the tales was twice as suspenseful because they had no idea they were talking about my tale in there!

As it was, I really enjoyed the experience, because I felt the judges comments were completely truthful since they didn't know. Therefore the positive opinions were that much more valuable!

Are you a plotter or a panster?
Definitely a panster. I start with a premise, a general idea of a theme, and generally a compelling character. Then I see where it goes.

What elements does your ideal story contain?
Oh, I'd say a lot of sly humor, some action, and a whole lot of realism being clever. I love to read about clever things that could actually be done in real life. (I share an appreciation with my brother for "true crime" stories of very smart heists, scams, etc. where someone was extremely tricky about something.) Other than that, I love a good turn of phrase and realistic, witty dialog. 

A lot of dialog I read is just so flat, it's terribly boring.

Has there been an author or non-author person who has influenced your writing more than anyone else?
Hmm... as far as person, I guess you could say my Abi-sis is a huge influence because she crits everything I write... though authorly, Tolkien, O. Henry, and Robert Lewis Stevensen are major influencers on my general craft.

Have you written any other books?
Yes, two in the Five Gems series where Fia Brithin gets her dream of a jeweler's apprenticeship, but it includes total removal from her family and childhood home. That leads to dangers and growing, which home-body Fia never really craved!

Second, the Thaw quartet deals with the combined tales of Snow Queen, Snegurken, etc. with a Frozen adaptation that focuses on self growth and maturity... giving a cast of characters a wide stage to play on as they find their way toward internal balance and true happiness. This gave rise to the Fairytale Collection, which will include over 20 books and many classic tales retold in the world of Demargen and it's 13 fascinating princes.

What stories can we expect from you in the future?
Well, clearly, the 20 upcoming Fairytale Collection, for one thing! We're in the final stages of Beaded Slipper, which has a lot more action and mystery and surprise reveals than most people expect out of a Cinderella retelling... but what can you expect when Elinor only goes to the ball to steal sensitive documents?

King's Ward, #3 in the Five Gems books, has Fia once more being uprooted and immersed into a whole new place, and dangers come skulking pretty soon there as well. Readers of Fia's first two books are going to LOVE the villain of this piece, and the stakes get very high and very personal for our home-body heroine as she adapts to letting go of "what should have been" and deal directly with what needs done, now!

And of course there will be a Space Kitties 3; The Ones They Left Behind anthology, (submissions opening now!) for a planned release 2017.  [See below.]

We're also wanting to include our fantasy writer friends, so we're planning a fantasy kitties up next, tentatively titled "Cats in Black Boots".  (I love that title!!! And of course I'll be doing the cover art, so that is just full of delicious possibilities!!! Can't wait!)

After all of this? Wow, who can say? I do have several historical novels which may come into play at some time, but that's all too far away to lay any solid plans.

Thanks for having me! It's been fun talking books with you all!!

Aaaaand now.  Are you all ready to see the pretty cover?

Buy Space Kitties 2 on Amazon
Add Space Kitties 2 to your Goodreads lists

Submissions are now open for the Space Kitties 3 Anthology: The Ones Left Behind.  Visit this page for all the information you need!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Writing: Humility vs Blindness

A few days ago, my MuseTwin Mirriam and I were having a conversation about a rather well known author in the world of Christian fantasy- someone whom I have admired and whose skill level I've aspired to reach some distant day.  In the course of the conversation, Mirriam said I wrote better than this author does.  Now, Mirriam is not usually someone whose evaluations are influenced by her love for a friend.  I said I was most assuredly NOT a better writer than this author and Mirriam outright disagreed with me.  'No, you're the better writer.'

Something occurred and we moved on to a different topic for a few minutes but it bothered me so deeply that I brought it up again a little while later.  Because A) if Mirriam was right, then my evaluation of this author's work was flawed.  B) if she was right, then my evaluation of my own work wasn't just low- it was bottom layer of the underworld, insanely, ridiculously, so far out of sight that it might as well be the Planet Pluto low.  Mirriam's reply was: Yes, in her opinion, to A (keeping in mind that it had been 3 years since I had last read this authors work and my evaluations have undergone many changes since then) and absolutely yes to B, but more B than A.  I sat there processing this for a few minutes.  She went on to say that she considered the aforementioned author to be better than average but that I was still better.  She finished by saying was a difference between humility and ignorance concerning one's own work. 

For two days it's something to which I've given a lot of thought.  I knew my estimate of my own writing was low.  I just didn't think it was that low.  Last night I discussed it with another best friend and she agreed with Mirriam's analysis.  This morning, I mentioned it to my mother.  She had read a little bit of the author in question three years ago when I was reading the book, and she agreed that right off the bat, there was at least one thing she thought I did better than this author.  My mother has different literary preferences than I do, but she's almost as picky as I am about most literary elements and is not hesitant to tell me when I need to improve.

One of my pet peeves is when I come across any author with an over-inflated ego that doesn't match the quality of their work.  I've seen it in traditional authors (sorry, Cassie Clare fans) but the last year or so, I've increasingly come up against it in self published or indie authors as well young authors who have yet to be published.  For example, I recently read a book in a fantasy sub-genre.  Now, anyone who knows me knows that I ADORE fantasy in almost every form.  This particular sub-genre is one of my favorites.  This book, written by an indie author, made me want to stop reading it three chapters in and it only grew worse from there.  It was overflowing with cliches, historically inaccurate (a problem for historical fantasy), illogical, shallow and confusing.  In my message to the author, I gently pointed some of these things out.  The author replied, 'Not everyone likes the same kind of books.', implying that I had disliked the book because I didn't like that genre.  In return, I pointed out that in fact, I loved that genre; it was specific issues in that book that made me dislike it.  Not to any surprise, I haven't heard back from that author.  This is only one of several times in the last 3 months along that I've come up against this or similar arrogant seeming behaviors.

Self confidence in one's work is necessary.  But there is a line between self confidence in the fact that you've written something well and arrogance that you're a good writer no matter what anyone else says and that if someone criticizes you, they don't understand you.  There is a standard of quality in writing, and if you don't pass muster, then you need to strive to improve, not brush it off.

As someone who is a rational thinker and often aloof, I've been accused of arrogance before.  Quite frequently.  Often unfairly.  Several times, it's nearly ruined a relationship.  It's made me hyper sensitive to coming across to people as arrogant or supercilious or pretentious in the way I communicate facts or knowledge.  And it's deeply affected my evaluation of my own writing.  As much as it annoys me in others, I  promised myself I must never never become arrogant about my writing.  But in reaction to the arrogance that has annoyed me, and in determining not to become the same way, I went too far in the other direction.  I landed in a place where I can't honestly tell anymore whether what I've written is decent, good, or stinks.  There's a balance line to walk and I missed it completely.  And for an aspiring author, that's a bad thing.  It's incredibly hampering and I realized it's what's been holding me back from moving forward with publishing plans.

I'm blessed to have best friends and a mother who keep me honest.  I'm going to be spending a few months climbing out of the underworld.  It won't be easy and it will take a while, but it's vital for any of us who want to properly walk the path of authorship.

How many of you have dealt with crippling lack of self confidence in regards to your own writing?  Any tips in overcoming it?

(And yes, I'm going back to re-read said Christian author's work and see if my evaluation changes.)

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Beautiful People May 2016 ~ Verena and Liare

It's time for Beautiful People again!  I'm excited to dust off this story for JuNo.  I probably won't finish the book in another 50,000 words but hopefully I'll come within sight of the finish line.  

 I know that, according to the rules made up by some mythical someone whose opinion supposedly matters, authors aren't supposed to have favorites, but I never was good at following rules made up by people I don't know (or following rules at all, come to think of it).  Therefore, these two are definitely on my list of favorite characters to write.

Verena Silvesti

How often do they smile?  Would they smile at a stranger?
She hardly ever smiles.  She'll make this sideways uptilt of her lips, but smiles are as rare as blue moons.   She might nod to a stranger but not really smile, no.

What is the cruelest thing they've ever been told?  And what was their reaction?
That her aunt wouldn't take her in because she 'couldn't handle her ridiculous personality'.  She reacted by sealing herself off to love and never thinking kindly of her aunt or cousins again.

What is the kindest thing they've ever been told?  And what was their reaction?
Liare told her that he likes being around her because she's an unusual person who makes life fun.  She doesn't believe he means it.

What is one strong memory that has stuck with your character from childhood?  Why is it so powerful and lasting?
The day she was pulled out of class and told that her father had died in the bombing attack they had just seen on television.  I would imagine that the reasons it's powerful and lasting are now self-explanatory.

What book (a real actual published book!) do you think your character would benefit from reading?
Benefit from?  Probably something to do with loving your enemies or at least, not plotting revenge on them.  A book she's read a lot is Shakespeare's Julius Caesar.

Have they ever been seriously injured?  How severely?  How did they react?
She dislocated her shoulder once but didn't realize it had been dislocated until it was put back in place.  She gritted her teeth and carried on through the pain, refusing to ask for special help or treatment.

Do they like and get along with their neighbours?
Like- no.  Get along with- eh, more or less yes.  She is civil and polite but she doesn't really like people so she ignores them the rest of the time.

On a scale from 1 to 10 (1 being easy and 10 being difficult) how easy are they to get along with?
On the surface, maybe an 8.  She's polite but not very approachable.  Underneath, a solid 10.

If they could travel anywhere in the world, where would they go?
The galactic capital of Ceruntu.  The planet is one giant city and races and peoples from all over the galaxy gather there.  As for a place on Earth... probably Cairo.

Who was the last person they held hands with?
Her older foster brother Won Jae a few years ago. 


How often do they smile?  Would they smile at a stranger?
His default expression is a smile.  He smiles at everyone he comes across- friend, foe or stranger.

What is the cruelest thing they've ever been told?  And what was their reaction?
That he knew nothing of real pain or grief.  He took it with a strained smile, and managed to not stagger back at the emotional punch in the gut.

What is the kindest thing they've ever been told?  And what was their reaction?
That he's a ray of sunshine that never dims.  He blushed and thanked the person.

What is one strong memory that has stuck with your character from childhood?  Why is it so powerful and lasting?
His father hugging the man who had been the cause of his mother's death and saying, 'I forgive you.'  Liare couldn't forgive the man for years and didn't understand how his father could.

What book (a real actual published book!) do you think your character would benefit from reading?
Machiavelli's The Prince.  Verena will persuade him to read it at some point.

Have they ever been seriously injured?  How severely?  How did they react?
Not really.  The most he was ever injured was bruising after boxing fights with fellow members in his father's dance troupe, and even then it wasn't too serious because they didn't want their star dancers messed up.

Do they like and get along with their neighbours?
He's a very friendly person who's always willing to help.  He's quite popular among people and likes almost everyone.

On a scale from 1 to 10 (1 being easy and 10 being difficult) how easy are they to get along with?
He's a 1.

If they could travel anywhere in the world, where would they go?
A planet in the Outer Fringe of the galaxy.  He likes adventure and exploring.

Who was the last person they held hands with?
A random old lady he helped to cross a street.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Happy Birthday Dearest Melody

Mwahahahaha!  This is Melody's younger sister Erudessa.  And I, along with some of her friends, am hacking her blog.  Completely unbeknownst to her!

From: Me
I know you won't be surprised by this, and that you will chase me to Mars and back just to kick my rear, but I couldn't resist it.  Having you for an older sister is very amazing.  You show me Whole New Worlds, New Fantastic Points of View (but sometimes you do tell me that I am only dreaming! ;)), you say that 'salmonella' is the sea's version of 'Cinderella' and so many other things.  And, although we don't always agree, and you insult me by calling Frank a 'toad', and telling me that "We don't need you having a crush on Viggo Mortenson", I'm very proud of my baby who's 'all grown up and saving China'!  You are an amazing, talented young woman and you help so many people.  One day all of your dreams will come true.  Just have faith and remember, "There can be miracles, when you believe..."  I love you, Mulan.

From: Mirriam
I've been trying to think up something to say.  That sounds bad at first, right?  Like I don't have enough thoughts to translate into words.  The truth is just the opposite - there's so much to say that I don't know how to condense it into a simple birthday message.  It's fitting I should write this so soon to the anniversary of the day our friendship really began.  It's hard to believe it was less than a year ago - it feels so much shorter and so much longer all at once.  You could say we've known each other
for far longer, since the day you sent me that first email, but we didn't truly form a bond until June 2015 when, for some divine, magical reason, the act of writing a novel drew us together like magnets.  Since then we've had countless brainstorms and lengthy, deep conversations.  We've shared heartache, tears, and numerous struggles; but they don't outweigh the laughter,
amusement, and joy.  I've never known anyone like you.  I could talk about this for hours and write a novel about our exploits, our talks, our agreements and disagreements (here's an itemized list of 30 - I kid, we've never had that many) but I'm trying to keep it short and sweet.  You share a piece of my soul, Lion Yin, and no matter what happens, I know it's in safe hands.
  Thank you for everything - and I mean everything in the full sense of the word. The laughter and the tears, the downs and the ups that outnumber them.  I know you will grow even more spectacular this coming year, and every year afterward. I can't wait. — Dragon Yang

From: Jessica
Dearest Ari,

Happy Birthday!!!! Reflecting on another year of fabulous friendship, a lot of words come to mind.

Thoughtful, meditative, snarky, lovely, wise beyond years, loyal, fierce, Lioness. These are just a few of the things that make you the amazing, caring and wonderful creative human, friend and writer that you are. You have a fierce and beautiful heart that sees beyond shells, walls, armor, and into souls.
When I was in Taiwan, I always appreciated that you were willing to stay up late and chat with me when I was struggling to make sense of difficult things, I know you gave me lots of your time, talking listening, caring and plenty of virtual hugs and encouragement. I always knew even though I was half a world a way that I could come running to the internet and find Ari—willing to chat and sympathize to get me through times where my world didn’t make sense.

Thank you for being a friend I can trust, lean on and love. You’re amazing!



From: Jamie
"So... I heard it was Lody Appreciation day... More or less >.>

When I first joined the pack you were the very first member to introduce yourself. You were very open and warm with your introduction. It may have seemed like the simple or obvious thing to do to you, but to me it was the ice breaker I needed. I kept the thought with me that you had made me feel welcomed and accepted in the group right off the bat. Continuously, you reminded me- be it in big ways or small- that I was wanted and loved... And learning of our common interests certainly didn't hurt my opinion of you  *cough, cough* mostly kpop *cough*
Over my first year in the Pack, I really needed the support, without even realizing it. This year, I've needed you and the others more than ever.
You're always there, making sure I and all the other packlettes know that you're praying for us and offering advice and support time and time again without fail.
During the skype call I felt like I got to know your personality better. I came to realize you aren't just a person, you are a painted galaxy. Fierce, insanely beautiful and when you get to know more about it, irreplaceable.

We may not be incredible close, and we may not talk a lot, but I want you to know you've made a significant difference in my life. And I want you to know that I love you lots

                                                                 -Your incredibly cute dongsaeng,

(P.S. We should get to know each other better and maybe spend some time together if you're ever nearby.)"

From: Lisa
"Lody is like the big sister I never had. For being the 'unni' of our group, it's so nice and refreshing to know I have an unni too XD I feel valued and appreciated when she asks my opinion or thoughts on a subject. Many times I've gone to her with my mess of emotions and feelings when I didn't want to tell anyone else. She's amazing and I am so tremendously blessed to have her in my life. I love you, Lody ^.^"

From: Rana
"My first impression of Arielle was: sass, snark, and consistent encouragement. You can tell she really means it when she says, "Praying!"

From: Katherine
Oh, Katherine, if you ever need another beta reader (for any of your stories!)... I would be thrilled and honored to volunteer!! =) =)

Not many friendships have a beginning that can be traced to a single sentence. 

In this case...well, I turned her down. (Horrors.) As a general rule, I just did not send out my stories to blog readers. But Miss Melody Muffin continued visiting my blog, leaving comment after insightful comment that time and time again nailed the heart of what I had been writing. After about a month of more such responses...Dear reader, I sent her a novel.

I thought I was getting a beta-reader, even as she noted that she'd never beta read for anyone outside her family before. I've never asked her exactly what all she expected. :D But I certainly had no idea that the next 3 3/4 years would be the establishing of a friendship that really is the stuff of stories. They knew each other's heart. It's a phrase from a book we both love, and it is the essence of our friendship. 

Melody is incredibly clear-sighted, with a rare ability to see others and to know them for who they truly are, and beautifully strong - few people are as mentally disciplined and rigorous in what they require of themselves as she is. What she loves, she loves deeply and passionately, and while she is constantly searching and trying what she believes, attempting to argue against what she knows to be true is simply asking to be verbally taken apart. She will fiercely fight for what she loves, and her skill is a thing of beauty. Trusting people absolutely does not come easily to me, but she has proved herself to have my back time and time again, and I have rare belief in her loyalty. This is a woman with a sense of responsibility as wide as the ocean, talents that are a delight to watch unfold, and a glorious, if occasionally wicked, sense of humor. 

May you have a truly beautiful birthday, Melody, and may this year be full to overflowing with the blessings of God. Looking forward to many more years of a friendship filled with everything from heavy theological discussions to magical midnight chats - I love you!

From: Gabrielle Martin
We’ve only just met a short time ago,

And yet our friendship had grown a whole lot.

There’s so much about you I want to know

And yet there’s a lot I already got.

You’re smart and creepy as a mind-reader

Our biases often of the same things.

Your tastes are good, it’s becoming clearer

Your favorite band the amazing younglings,

Our favorite Song? Of course called Joong Ki!

Our favorite singer the tall Choice One

“Swoon” you call him, he never sings off-key.K

dramas are our favorite marathon.

These are just a few ways we’re the same kind,
And why I like you: we’re of the same mind.
(I just have to say, I LOVE this poem!  And I understand some of those references!)

From: Prudence
A u t h e n t i c
R e l i a b l e
  I n t r e p i d
E n c o u r a g i n g
  L o v i n g
  L i o n h e a r t e d
E n t e r t a i n i n g
And here is the rest of my little message: There are so many reasons to love you! Lody, you’ve been with me through it all—and it’s a joy and a privilege to always know that even if we haven’t chatted in a long while, and regardless of physical distance, we’re still as close as ever, because you put up with my abrupt disappearances and long absences so unbiasedly.  I know that our friendship is a lifetime deal and I look forward to facing it all at each others side. You are and forever will be my Octopus of Encouragement. I LOVE YOU MORE THAN TIME CAN TELL & YOU ARE MY PERSON - Your Pixie Girl  

From: Shelby
So when I first met Lody through our online writing group, I thought that she was cool and nice, and she had an interesting Facebook profile picture that never showed her face, which was intriguing XD  I didn't talk to her a whole lot at first.  I didn't know a whole lot about her, and there never seemed to be much reason to talk to her one on one.
Until we did.
I don't remember exactly how we started talking more, but once we did, it was like opening up a floodgate of friendship.  She told me a few weeks after we really started talking that she had decided to adopt me as her sister and was that alright?  Naturally I said that was fine, being completely ignorant of how seriously Arielle takes adopting a sister XD
Before I knew it, she was checking in with me all the time, asking what I was up to and how my life was going.  She gave me advice on everything from my writing to my job and lots of stuff in between.
I know I've told her that her reaching out like that meant a lot to me, but I'm not sure she will ever know how much.  I had been going through a lot of changes in my life when she first "adopted" me. All my friends had been moving on and getting busier with their lives, and my life long best friend left on her mission, leaving me in a weird position of not being able to talk to her whenever I wanted for the first time in eight years.
So even though I didn't know it at the time, I really needed the support of a friend, and I was so blessed to find that friend in Arielle.
Everyone should strive to be the kind of friend that she is, and everyone should strive to be /worthy/ of such a friend.  Because when she decides to make you part of her inner circle, she makes sure you stay there.  She will be the best, most caring, most compassionate friend you have ever had, and I am so grateful that she made me her adopted sister.  I realy don't know what I would do without her.
I had the amazing opportunity to go meet her IRL and it was the most amazing Spring Break ever.  We were forty five minutes away from the nearest Walmart, and I think the closest gas station was in the next town over.  You'd think that set up would make for a really sad Spring Break, but if anything, it made it even more worthwhile.  I got to spend an entire week with my close friend and the rest of her super amazing family without any kind of distractions or obligations or any place to be.  If we hadn't been good friends before I came to visit, we would have been after.
Arielle is one of the most genuine people I have ever met.  She is exactly the same online and off, kind, compassionate, intelligent, funny.  She never puts up fronts with you, she tells you like it is, but she's always kind and considerate when she does it.  I have never had a friend I disagreed with so politely XD
I'm not totally sure what else to say... Um... Happy birthday Lody!  You have no idea how happy I am to have you as a friend and adopted sister.  Thank you for always being there for me, even when I didn't know I needed it.  I hope we have many, many years of friendship ahead of us, but for the more immediate future, have a wonderful day.
You absolutely deserve it. 

(I learned from Shelby's visit, that if ever these girls get together all at once, I am going to banish them to a mansion that covers and acre and is on a high mountain with no one closer then 80 miles!)

From: Melody 
Dear Arielle, When I first met you it was through the Pack email chain and my initial thought was “Lody, like Melody, like me!” I’d never met someone with my name before, and even after learning it was a nickname I still automatically liked you because of it. Needless to say my opinion of you has only blossomed from there. Unfortunately I do not know you as well as I would like to, but what I do know is marvelous. You are a very strong, loving, and amazing woman. You are an excellent friend. And while the barrier of the internet does stand between my ability to get to really know you, your personality still shines through the words that you write and the sparse videos that I have seen you in. You are all the real life Regina Mills I could ever dream to encounter XD. Your sass and attitude is quickly and perfectly coupled with your determination and fierce love for the people you care about. Your quick readiness and loving advice are a wonderful thing to have. You are a wonderful friend to have. From my limited world knowledge I have realized there are at least two types of friends out there: The kind that support you from the sidelines and the kind that shoulder their axe and run head long into battle with you. You are a warrior Arielle, and I would gladly go to battle with you at any moment. Happy birthday! Thank you for being an awesome example and a spectacular friend. Your comments, prayers, and friendship are great treasures to me, and I am so blessed to know you! Hope this next year is packed with adventures fit for a protagonist such as yourself.
Love, Mel.   

From: Dabby
Dear Arielle Fairy,
If hearts could be measured in size, yours would be a continent. You have so much love, so much kindness, so much strength and gentleness. You are the friend who truly deserves the world. God took extra delicate care when he made you. I love you so much! Your constant friendship even when I'm a slacker inspires me to be more genuine, more consistent. Thanks for being an example of so many good things and bring a gold mine of a friend <3

Many tiny hugs.

From: Kash
Dear Lody,
I legit wouldn't know what to do if I didn't have you in my life. You have helped me through things I didn't even knew I needed help through. You're there when people need you and that is more than enough for me.
You are a beautiful strong woman and are so very kind. You don't get upset when asked for help, and if you're busy you make time or promise to be back later and always are.

You are the best pack grandma I could have asked for 😉 and I thank God for you every day. 
Love you, Lody Love, Kash/Kashie/Kashlet/Kashrine/Kathrine XD

From: Liz
All right, so here we go.
As I'm writing this, you're totally oblivious. It's almost funny, to watch you affirm requests in the Pack Help Line chat, while several of us plot to make you cry. Honestly, I hope we succeed, even if it's just because it hit you that you. are. loved. That would be enough (for me, at least).
The point of these words is to "say something nice, if you've "say something nice, if you've got something nice to say"; I don't think my problem will be saying something nice, I think it will be summing up all the nice things I have to say. XD I'm not sure that I can be even borderline-sappy, but I don't think you'd expect sappy from me, if I'm honest. (On a related note, the fact that you pay attention to the tendencies of so many people, and keep them

straight, is one of the many reasons I love and appreciate you.)
I can continue that by reiterating: I love you a ton. You inspire me to aspire to your level in so many things, whether it be exploring different cultures, branching out in writing, or educating myself in literature - as you'll recall, I only bought Hamlet because of you. Your analytical mind keeps me on my toes - it's so nice

having someone in my life who understands how that side of the brain works. Your logic is a breath of fresh air - whenever I need an objective conversation, about pretty much anything, I know I can come to you. (I mean, I can come to you at about any point in time, but. You know.)
You're the college aunt that other college aunts only dream of being - it's not that others lack qualities, it's that they are found so abundantly in you. You love so deeply in your own Lodyish way, and sometimes that may not manifest as "I love you", though it often does. Sometimes it's sending us random messages, or things that remind you of us. Sometimes it's a "you should go eat". It's pretty much always practical and/or with some purpose in mind,
because you aren't one for excessive nonsense, thank the good Lord Almighty. You are perpetually a woman with a point, whatever the point may be.
This is getting long - whoops. I tried to condense it, but it didn't really work. XD Anyway, suffice it to say we love you, I love you, & happy birthday. Basically. (& thanks for reading this train wreck).
- Liz

 To all of the girls who contributed, thank you so much.  Especially Mirriam, who contacted everyone for me.  And thank you to Mum for the beautiful birthday banner.  We love you Melody!

From Mom:
 My dear, sweet Melody is all of this  ...  and so much more.  Yes, that is possible.  She has been my Lieutenant for more years than I can count, she is fierce, loyal, and when she loves, it is with a depth that very few can understand.  I thank God for this lovely woman every day, am so blessed to have her as a daughter, and pray that her years continue to be filled with joy unspeakable.  
I love you!!  Happy Birthday!!

Monday, May 16, 2016

An Overlooked Hero and Brothers-in-Arms Book Release

Today I am delighted to welcome my good friend Jack Lewis Baillot to my blog.  Jack's newest book, Brothers-in-Arms, will be released on the 31st of May and let me tell you, you do NOT want to miss it.  I beta read it and LOVED it.  She has written a truly great tale about just how far friends will go for each other.  Seriously, READ IT.  Oh.  One little warning: it may or may not be a painful book.  Muahahahaha.

Can a Jew and a Nazi survive Hitler's Germany?

Franz Kappel and Japhet Buchanan never expected their friendship to be tested by the Third Reich. Friends from early childhood, the boys form an inseparable, brotherly bond. Growing up in a little German village, they escape most of the struggles of war until the day Japhet is banished from school for being a Jew, and later has a rib broken when other village boys beat him up. Franz learns he is putting himself in danger for spending so much time with Japhet but continues to stand up for his Jewish friend even at the risk to himself. Then one day their lives are shattered when they see first­hand that the price of being a Jew is dangerously high.

With the war now on their doorsteps, Franz and Japhet come up with a desperate plan to save their families and get them out of Germany alive. Leaving behind the lives they've always known, they move into Berlin with nothing to protect them but forged papers and each other. Convinced their friendship can keep them going, the boys try and make a new life for themselves while trying to keep their true identities and Japhet's heritage a secret.

Taking his best friend's safety upon himself, Franz joins the Nazis in an attempt to get valuable information. At the same time, Japhet joins the Jewish Resistance, neither friend telling the other of their new occupations.

With everyone in their world telling them a Nazi and a Jew can't be friends, it is only a matter of time before they believe all the lies themselves, until neither is certain if they are fighting against a race of people or fighting for their homeland. Somehow they have to survive the horrors of World War II, even when all of Germany seems to be against them.

Find Brothers-in-Arms on:

To celebrate, I present the author herself.  Welcome, Jack!

Greetings to all Melody's wonderful readers from Jack. I'm here because I have a book being let loose on the defenseless world and Melody let me invade her blog. Let's hope she doesn't come to regret it.  [Pfffft, NEVER, Jack.]

When I set out asking for what kind of posts blog authors would like when I invaded, Melody mentioned a post about a WWII figure who I felt was often overlooked – and I might have did a happy dance and clapped my hands. I knew just who to pick.

(For those who can read my mind before I type, no, I didn't pick Louie Zamperini. Nice try, mind readers.)

Naw, I know of plenty of other men to pick from...such as Louie's best friend, Russell Allen Phillips.
Called Phil by his friends – and Allen by his dad – Phil was the pilot who flew most of their bombing missions. He was described as a quiet man who could enter a room and leave without anyone knowing he'd been there. Sometimes men would have conversations with him and realize when he left that he hadn't said a single word.

In spite of that, there was a mischievous side to Phil which Louie brought out even more when they became friends. (Not that Phil didn't have this side growing up. As a boy he would hide in trees with bags of flour and bomb passing cars.)

Phil and Louie constantly pulled pranks on each other between missions. Some of them were elaborate, and one Louie pulled on Phil he felt endangered his existence so he went into hiding for a couple days after he did it. One of my favorite stories about them is when they decided to take their mattresses out on the ocean and try to float on the waves, and almost drowned.

That said, hey I had to take a moment to ramble right?, there are reasons I think Phil is more of the overlooked hero.

Phil was one of the men who lived after his plane crashed into the ocean. Along with Louie and one other crewman, called Mac by his friends, he found himself adrift on a raft. Sadly Mac ended up passing away before they were rescued, but Phil survived the 47 days on the raft with Louie, only later to be picked up by Japanese soldiers. He was beaten along side Louie and later sent to a labor camp where he spent the remainder of the war.

When he got back home Phil didn't talk much about his time on the raft or everything he went through as a POW in the hands of the Japanese. In fact, many of his friends in his hometown had no idea about until Louie's story was told and they discovered Phil had been with him.

After the way Phil was content to return home and marry his sweetheart and raise a family. He seemed to put the war behind him and become instead a husband and dad. But it still affected him.

After the plane crash he never got into another airplane – except for when his daughter's husband died and he flew out to be with her. He blamed himself for the men who died and his family wasn't ever sure if he ever got past that blame.

He was an amazing man who never really accepted that, or let anyone know. If it wasn't for Louie's story being told, Phil's might never have been revealed. And he probably would have been okay with that, but I'm happy it had the chance to be told. He has inspired me just as much as Louie.

Jack is one of those strange people who calls herself an Author. She spends a lot of her time writing and even less time editing. She likes to write about friendships which is partly how Brothers‐in‐Arms came to be. More than ten years in the making, this is the book she dreaded the most writing, but which also has the most meaning for her.

When Jack isn't writing, which doesn't happen too often, she keeps busy with various other hobbies – such as reading, playing the bagpipes to the dread of her neighbors, and drinking tea – which might not be considered a hobby by most but which should be.

She lives in a cabin in the woods with her dog and a library which isn't quite equal to Prince Adam's but will be given enough time and a secret doorway.

Connect with Jack on: