Thursday, August 29, 2013

Memorable Worlds: Narnia and Middle Earth

My friend Kendra has invited other bloggers to participate in her Memorable Worlds post series to celebrate the release of her upcoming book The Ankulen.


My introduction to the worlds:
Like most or all of the other people who have taken part, including Kendra herself, the fantasy worlds of Narnia and Middle Earth have been a huge influence on my own writing.

I came to both rather late.  My mom isn't particularly fond of fantasy so the books weren't around when I was growing up.  But, I adore fantasy so much that a few years ago, I did some research on Narnia online (to be sure it was something I would not regret reading) and bought a seven-in-one volume of all of the books.  I put it up on my shelf for three weeks while we packed and arranged matters for the cross-country trip we were about to make for a wedding.  The book went into my already-crammed-full book bag and once we were fairly on our way, I pulled it out.  For a moment, I savored the feel of a new book, smelled the pages, ran my hands over the covers, admired the lion painting on the front... and finally couldn't wait any longer and began reading.  I started with The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.  I wasn't very far into it when I knew I would never regret reading it.  Ever.

I read the books through The Silver Chair on the trip.  The Magician's Nephew and The Last Battle I read sometime after I arrived home.  I have seen all three of the new movies (and while I liked most of them, have some bones to pick with the scriptwriters for some of the liberties they took.)

Then, a few months after I had read Narnia, I looked up Lord of the Rings (again as a precaution, though I was pretty sure I would like it, it never hurts to do a little research).  A friend loaned me the books, and I cracked open the covers of the Hobbit the evening after I brought them home.  From the first paragraph, I was hooked.   As soon as I was done reading them, my grandpa loaned me Peter Jackson's movie trilogy and I watched it.  And loved it.  (Well, mostly.  But that is a subject for another post.)


My favorite things about each world:
Lewis created a delightful, enchanting world.  An added delight for me was that he included all sorts of creatures from mythology.  The rules about these creatures were somewhat different in Lewis' world than their mythological counterparts, which just made it all the more fascinating.  Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy and the other heroes and heroines of the books are real human children with faults that cause them problems, just like in real life.  And yet, they learned from their mistakes and overcame the difficulties to become the heroes Narnia needed them to be.  In the process, they grew and matured and learned life lessons.

My favorite race is the centaurs.

Favorite characters:
Susan (though I don't like what Lewis did to her character in the Last Battle.)
Reepicheep
Caspian
Aravis
Cor/Shasta


Middle Earth:
Tolkien's world of Middle Earth is magnificent.  It is, without question, the standard for all other writers of epic fantasy.  The years and years he put into the creating of it, working out the smallest details and adding layer upon layer... it is incredible.

Details of Middle Earth that I particularly love are the languages, horses, jewelry and maps.  I would love to be able to read, write and speak Elvish someday.  (Yes, I know it has no practical purpose, but it would be fun!)

The world of Middle Earth is my personal favorite of all the fantasy worlds I've read about or seen in movies.  It has SO many layers.  Each race has a rich, well detailed heritage, history and customs.  The interactions, or lack thereof (elves and dwarves :D), between the different peoples are so real, you feel as if they themselves were real people once upon a time.  True, Tolkien's writing is a bit heavy, but I loved it.

My favorite race in Middle Earth is unquestionably the elves.  They are just fantastic.  Wise, learned, superb fighters, but with a fun sense of humor.

The hobbits, Rohirrim and Gondorians all tie for second place.  The hobbits are just plain fun, the Rohirrim are horse people (I think most of you know by now how much I love horses) and the Gondorians are fascinating.
 
I don't dare start listing my favorite characters from Middle Earth.  The list would go on for forever.  In fact, it would be easier to list those I don't like.  Basically, all the villains.  :D


How Narnia and Middle Earth have influenced my own writing:
Lewis taught me that you can have a multi layered fantasy world without it having to be extremely complicated, serious or full of grim happenings.  It can be light in tone, but still have many layers and opportunities for adventures.  It can be fun, but still have a moral and teach something.

And Lewis's humor is delightful.  Consider this part from the end of The Horse and His Boy: 'Aravis also had many quarrels (and, I am afraid, even fights) with Cor, but they always made it up again: so that years later, when they were grown up, they were so used to quarreling and making it up again that they got married so as to go on doing it more conveniently.'  Isn't that fun?!

Narnia has been an especial inspiration for my world of Quara.


Tolkien taught me that even if it takes years to build and write, a well detailed, meticulous fantasy world is possible, and well worth the effort.

He also taught me much about characters, relationships and using scenery to set the stage.

Middle Earth has particularly influenced my world of Brythonia- the world of the Three Kyngdoms series, and the world of Quivira, which I don't think I've posted about before.


 Narnia and Middle Earth, two worlds I couldn't do without.


You have until September 3rd to join in on the worldbuilding posts!  Visit Kendra's blog HERE to find out more about The Ankulen, her other books or to add a link to your own worldbuilding post.

Happy Worldbuilding!!

Miss Melody Muffin

Monday, August 26, 2013

Writing Tag!

Megan Gorecki is starting a new writing website and as part of her launch party, is hosting a writing tag.  Go HERE to check out the site and HERE to join in on the tag.

1. What was your first piece of writing?
A story about two sisters and their horses and the fun they had with them.  I never finished it and I don't think I even have it anymore.  It pretty much hollered, "BEGINNER!!" and was quite boring.

2. How old were you when you first began writing?
Seven or eight.

3. Name two writing goals, one short-term and one long-term.
Short-term: I'd like to write 500 words a day nearly every day for the rest of August and through September.  Long-term: I'm hoping to finish the first drafts of The Land Beyond the Sunset and the first book in the Three Kyngdoms series by the end of the year.

4. Do you write fiction or non-fiction?
Fiction, totally and completely.  Unless you count my blog, which is non-fiction, most of the time.  :D  (Just kidding.  It is all non-fiction.)

5. Bouncing off of question four, what is your favorite genre to write in?
Fantasy.  I love the freedom of being able to make my own rules, histories, geography and culture.  I also enjoy writing Historical Fiction and some sci-fi/futuristic.

6. One writing lesson you've learned since 2013 began.
To not stress so much about my stories' outlines and just write them!

7. Favourite author off the top of your head!
I'm horrid at picking favorites.  At this precise moment in time, I'll say J. R. R. Tolkien.

8. Three current favourite books.
The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, and Rupert of Hentzau (which I just read on Saturday and WOW).

9. Biggest influence on your writing (it has to be a person).
My mother.  She was the first person to persuade me my 'scribblings' were more than just the outpourings of a frenzied need to write about everything in my world.  She remains a huge encouragement to me, and is always ready to give me a kick in the pants when I need it.  :)

10. What is your go-to writing music?
A wide variety.  I love opera overtures, especially when I'm writing fantasy.  Celtic music is fantastic and inspiring.  Musicals, drama soundtracks, and recently K-pop, are more favorites.

11. List three to five writing quirks of yours!  Little habits, must-haves as you write, etc.
~My list frenzy extends to my writing.  I make lists upon lists with character information, names and trivia.
~I tuck my pen behind my ear when I am looking something up, thinking or just referring to my notes.
~99% of the time, I write on top of a clipboard.

12. What, in three sentences or less, does your writing mean to you?
For me, writing is the one thing I can honestly say I am creative in.  For example, I can sit down and write the way other people sit down and create patterns or recipes.  It is my way of processing moral, ethical, political and social problems, and it is also the tool I hope to use to shine God's light on the world.


Miss Melody Muffin

Friday, August 23, 2013

Poem of the Week: August 23 – Not to the Swift....

I have sorely missed doing Poem of the Week!

Henry Van Dyke is one of my favorite poets and here is one of his that is quite thought- provoking.

Reliance
Henry Van Dyke

 Not to the swift, the race:
         Not to the strong, the fight:
         Not to the righteous, perfect grace:
         Not to the wise, the light.

         But often faltering feet
         Come surest to the goal;
         And they who walk in darkness meet
         The sunrise of the soul.

         A thousand times by night
         The Syrian hosts have died;
         A thousand times the vanquished right
         Hath risen, glorified.

         The truth the wise men sought
         Was spoken by a child;
         The alabaster box was brought
         In trembling hands defiled.

         Not from my torch, the gleam,
         But from the stars above:
         Not from my heart, life's crystal stream,
         But from the depths of Love.


Have a joyous weekend!

Miss Melody Muffin

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Guest Cover Reveal!!!!!!!!!!!

Hello, readers!  I'm back, for a little while at least.  :D  I know I haven't been around much at all lately, but there are good reasons for it, which I shall explain in a future post.  But not today. 

Today, there is something else going on.  Something very cool and exciting.

My good friend Kendra E. Ardnek is publishing another book!!!!!!  Very soon.  September 5th to be exact.  She invited some of us to take part in the cover reveal.  I happily agreed, but I'm going to make all of you wait until the end of the post for the cover picture.  Muahaha.  :D

So, first you shall be treated to all of the other information you need about the book....

First of all, the story synopsis:
Fifteen-year-old Jen can't remember her imagination. She knows she had one once, though, and honestly, she'd like it back. It's been eight years. One day she finds a young boy who claims to be one of her imaginary friends and that her imaginary world is being eaten by a hydra-like monster called the Polystoikhedron. He helps her find the Ankulen, a special bracelet that had given the ability to bring her imagination to life and together they embark on a quest to find friendship, healing, and perhaps even some family.


The goodreads link:  http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18331720-the-ankulen


Kendra graciously allowed us to ask her a few questions about the book:
Is there any particular reason the gem on the Ankulen is purple-pink? (Does the color have a special meaning?)
Nope, no reason other than the fact that I like the color and I think it looks good with gold. (And it's three gems now, as you can see on the cover.) Gems on Ankulens can come in any color. My own, which is a ring, is purple.

How did you come up with the name Polystoikhedron?  (It sounds very Greek.)
I, truth be told, didn't come up with the name. It was my mom. During the plotting stages the name was evading me, so I asked her for help, and she came up with Polystoikhydra. Once she explained her reasoning (poly means many, stoics are well ... stoic, and the hydra is a manyheaded beast in Greek mythology. Points for you there, Miss Melody!), I decided to change the hydra to hedron (which means faces) because this monster didn't have multiple hydras. It had multiple heads. Which were all very stoic.



And, on September 6th there will be a party at her blog to celebrate the release of the book.  She has all kinds of fun things planned!   Head over to THIS POST and check out what will be going on.


More about Kendra:

Kendra E. Ardnek  is the eldest daughter in a homeschooling family of four. She has been making up stories since an early age and published her first book, Sew, It's a Quest, when she was sixteen.
When she isn't writing, she's usually knitting, crocheting,  making swords out of paint-stir sticks, or looking up random facts. You can follow her writing adventures on her blog, Knittedbygodsplan.blogspot.com.



Aaaaaand, finally the delightful cover:


I hope you all enjoyed this as much as I have!!  Mark your calendars, this is a great book to read!


Miss Melody Muffin

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Today We Welcome....

...My dear friend Elizabeth Ender, also known as Katherine Sophia.  She is here to promote the release of her debut book, Ransomed.

I've been privileged to read some of Elizabeth's writing and it is beautiful.  While I haven't read Ransomed yet, I can't wait to get my hands on a copy.  You don't want to miss it!!

Today, I asked Elizabeth to talk about what genres she writes in and what she likes and dislikes about writing in each genre.

So without further ado....




When I was little, my imagination majored in historical fiction. Every night as I went to sleep I would jump to my story's next scene, where burning cabins, riverboat accidents, and Indian raids featured prominently. I'm pretty sure even the Lone Ranger made an appearance at one point! With Tonto actually being a real character, unlike some versions of that story. ;)

As might be obvious just from that, my siblings and I watched a lot of Westerns - the old, good ones, where the only negative elements were randomly inserted (and generally rather cheesy) song-and-dance routines, and of course, the relegation of Tonto to background. :P It makes sense then, that the first novel(la) I ever finished was a Western. The second, which started appropriately enough after church one Sunday as a story to keep my siblings occupied, was Biblical historical fiction. Upon finishing that one, I started a sequel to my first Western. That was my genre, and I was sticking to it.

Then one day, sitting in lecture, I scribbled down a sentence somewhere in my notes.

A single moment…so short a time. So few the events spanned by such a small space...Yet the happenings of a moment can change the course of history.

And that moment changed everything. :D The following are the genres I have written in, am writing in, and will probably continue writing in - though I make no predictions as to which one my next story will be. :)

Historical Fiction
My Western Series - which includes some variation on the titles
Will Arrington
The Star Packer
Some Trust in Chariots
Summer of the Gunfighter

and another which has not yet been named. :)

What I like best:
I've always loved that time period of American history, I've read/watched enough of it that I'm comfortable writing it, and by now I know these particular characters so well writing their stories is like visiting with old friends. They're fairly easy stories to write, even though I seem to find myself dealing with the strangest questions, from when is it acceptable for a Christian to use violence to prejudice and how an interracial relationship (or four, actually) could work in the Old West.

What I like least:
This isn't necessarily a criticism of the genre as it is of myself - because I started this series when I was 15, the beginning wretchedly screams new author. I thought it was awesome at the time, of course, but am now having to deal with how exactly I would have to rewrite it all to make it a decent story. *sigh*

What I like least about the Western genre itself…well, I've fixed that. My westerns are not typical westerns. They're not exactly prairie romances (gah, I somehow managed to fit torture into at least one of them), nor are they all filled with typical western bad guys, though The Star Packer and Summer of the Gunfighter do deal with Apaches and outlaws. I think the fifth book will deal more with things like Custer, Indian boarding schools, and the rise of the Ku Klux Klan.

Some Trust in Chariots, however, makes use of two European villains, and Will Arrington involves not just orphan trains, gambling rings, and beyond irritating school masters, but several trips to Europe and India, among other places. (I actually wanted to make Will Arrington meet Amy Carmichael, but the dates were some 20-30 years off. :P)

Biblical Fiction
The Jeweled Dagger

What I like best:
It was fun. :D And I can never read the book of 2nd  Kings in the same way again. XD I enjoyed exploring ancient cultures, though it was a bit disconcerting to realize I had to delete the sections discussing how one of the MC's saddled his horse, since saddles probably had not yet been invented in that area of the world!

What I like least:
It's a bit nerve-wracking to play with real people - particularly real people in the Bible. While I hadn't struggled THAT much with time-period feelings/ideas in my westerns, I had - and am having, as I revise - a hard time making sure I am not putting 21st century ideals into the heads of people living in 600-something B.C.

Historical Fantasy
My Faith-Hope-Love series:
Faith Through Flames
And it was Love
Hope Sprang Up


What I like best:
The ability to create entire countries and cultures and histories without worrying about what was actually happening in the world at that time or how I could bring a certain royal family into a story, etc. :) It's not that I have to do any less research, but I can use my research in any way I choose, rather than having to stick to an already established timeline and setting.

What I like least:
It's complicated! XD Especially because I'm writing a trilogy set in the same made-up world. Trying to keep track of all the different royal families, of the different wars and alliances and betrayals and how each army fights…It can be difficult. :)

Fairy Tale
(retelling)
Tam Lyn (or at least that's what I'm calling it right now :)

What I like best:
I have the basic outline of the story right there. I know how it's technically supposed to go, and when I'm at a loss I can always just pull in more elements from the original.

What I like least:
Well, for one thing, I didn't like the original fairy tale. :P I did think it had some very cool story elements in it, however, and thus got started on it. Having that outline does make things a bit difficult though, when certain characters start changing from who they were supposed to be into someone else entirely and then throw a wrench into the entire plot.

Realistic Fiction/Mystery
The Sons of Bretton Meyrick
Inspired by two western songs, this story combined a historical fantasy I wanted to write and a modern-day story which I did not expect to write at all. Talk about genre crossing. :D

What I like best:
That it's modern. I can finally put together a story about people who listen to Josh Groban and have conceal and carry permits and wear high heels and like writing novels and riding motorcycles and are in college or medical school…I can also stay after class and ask my teachers about doing CPR/using an AED machine on someone who was just shot in the chest and has a punctured lung. (Heheh, and still get certified in both, despite my strange questions… XD)

What I like least:
That it's modern. :) Sure, I was born in the 1990's, wear high heels and listen to Josh Groban at times, and even took college classes, but for one thing, I was homeschooled, and for another, I've never particularly been a part of mainstream American culture.

Writing about four brothers who went to public school and had a semi-abusive father who abandoned them is therefore a bit more difficult. With fantasy or even historical fiction - nobody was around then. As long as I do my research, I don't have to worry about someone saying, This isn't how it was! With this…I admit I am afraid of someone reading it and going, No way would these guys act like this. :P

Also a problem is the fact that I've been doing so much studying of other cultures, particularly ones where people deal with emotions rather differently than I've seen in the US, I'm feeling less prepared than usual to keep it realistic. Case in point: the fight I am currently having with making the brothers a) talk out their emotions and b) make up afterwards. I want them to hug and be happy; they're acting like I'm suggesting they crawl through a Florida swamp barefoot. Actually, I think they'd enjoy that more. :P


Fantasy
StarDusk
(which I am hoping will turn into a trilogy - I have an idea for at least one sequel right now. :)

What I like best:
No rules. XD Except of course those I give myself. And, honestly, it's a lot closer to historical fantasy than straight up fantasy yet. There's just a few things in the natural world that I'm messing with…and of course, the fact that including people who ride dragons probably shoves it in a fantastical direction, as much as I would like that to have been a real historical fact. XD Also, I'm thinking about messing with the whole there-was-a-world-wide-flood deal, which would definitely make it fantasy. :)

What I like least:
Trying to decide which rules to give myself. :P Figuring out which things will make sense without a "magical" explanation. And, because I always used to completely skip description as a reader, figuring out how exactly to make this fantasy world appear real, and what needs to be described or what can be left to readers' imaginations.


Science Fiction
Contract to Time Travel
Ahh, the genre I said I would never write…because I never liked it, hee. I have read little of it, so maybe that is my fault, but what I did see did not generally endear me to the genre - space ships and transformers just were not my thing.

Then a friend and I began writing a "fan fiction" story where we threw a whole bunch of our characters together in an alternate universe, and we needed some way to get them together. (Don't ask me why we didn't simply make it happen…we're just logical like that. XD) So we came up with this awesome, totally confusing, somewhat physics-related sci-fi-ish explanation that brought all our characters together perfectly.

I also began reading some dystopian stories which I found intriguing…and then suddenly one day I found myself writing a story about a time traveling thief. Ha. So much for never writing science fiction...

I fell instantly in love with the characters, much as I disliked the setting they had chosen. And then I figured out a way to make it more dystopian than science fiction, and the story took off like a jet plane. :P

What I like best:
Probably being able to use what I'm learning in developmental/molecular biology, play havoc with the rules of physics, and generally go places I never went with fantasy. Despite the inclusion of dragon riders and star prophecies, I don't include magic in my stories, which can be slightly limiting. With science fiction, though, almost anything is possible. XD

What I like least:
It's hard! XD Trying to make sure I'm not copying anything from the few futuristic books I've read, coming up with plots that make sense, not writing myself into an inescapable corner…having the freedom to bend the rules does not exactly make plots simple. :)


Allegory
Ransomed

What I like best:
 I've only written one, and it is short, so I can't give much in the way of generalities. But the story of Salvation is the most beautiful one ever written, and this story pretty much wrote itself. I loved writing it, I've loved sharing it, I've loved the feedback I've gotten on it, and I am beyond thrilled to have it illustrated and ready for publication at last. :)

What I like least:
Like Biblical fiction, it's a bit of a tight-rope walk - you can't just play games with the characters. Also unfortunate is the fact that I must pick a specific kind of story to tell. (In this case I chose a medieval setting.) I love how stories like Cinderella can be found in cultures all around the world, and I think it would be fascinating to tell the story of Salvation in a similar manner, with wigwams and braves or palaces and samurai instead of castles and knights.



Elizabeth Ender is a homeschool graduate, private pilot, author, and current medical school student. Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness is her life verse, and through her writing she hopes to glorify Him. All net profit from the sale of Ransomed will be donated to Chrystal Peaks Youth Ranch, a Christian ministry that uses rescue horses to help hurting children/families. Check out the giveaway at elizabethender.blogspot.com (beginning this Saturday!) and take part in the Amazon book blitz (also this Saturday!) to help out this amazing ministry.


Miss Melody Muffin