Thursday, 31 December 2015

It's the end of the year.

My last post of the year. This year has been exciting. I started writing. I started a blog. I made friends with a bunch of really wonderful authors online. Thank you Hope Schmidt, Faith Blum, Kendra E. Ardnek, Rachel Steele, Shantelle Mary Hannu and others. I really appreciate your friendship and encouragement.

I went to my first youth camp and made a bunch of great acquaintances there. Our family started fellowship with a new church. That has been a great experience. We had to look deep into what we actually believe, which has made my faith grow.

And I was given lots of great Christmas presents. I got money to buy writing books, I've just got to decide which ones. Recommendations are welcome. Also I got new sandals, camping crockery, a file box, a pair of Dutch clog slippers, some brightly coloured socks, though they were actually a birthday present, and a nice little head lamp, in our gift swap. I took it from one of my cousins, but he got something just as good, so I didn't spoil anything. It's all part of the fun anyway. And I got two lovely new purple plastic cups. My previous one was over 10 year old and I was used to it but it's nice to have a new one.

Writing goals for next year:

  • Finish the first draft of The Weaver and the Brigand.
  • Work on revising/rewriting it. That's going to be a really big job.
  • World-building for my second story.(and many more) It'll be fun.
  • Outline second story
  • Writing second story, hopefully in time to:
  • Outline sequel to Weaver and Brigand before November.
  • Write that for NaNoWriMo
  • Generally improve the quality and speed of my writing
That is probably way too ambitious. I'm stuck at the moment, because my plot seems to be broken.

I am also going to start some kind of serial story. Adel and Leisa used to make up stories together when they were younger and I thought it would be fun to write some of that down. They won't be terribly original, but I hope you will enjoy it.

Other Goals:
  • Write reviews for the books I read in 2015
  • Finish my projects for LibriVox
  • Find someone local who really needs a friend
  • Be a better friend
  • Find creative business skills
  • Find some way to bless my community or neighbours.

This has been a year of discovering the world of Christian indie authors and free ebooks so I think I've read more books than usual this year.

Great books I read in 2015:
  • All the published Ilyon Chronicles, by Jaye L. Knight 
  • All the Makilien books, by Molly Evangeline 
  • All books by Kendra E. Ardnek, especially Water Princess, Fire Prince
  • 4 Hymns of the West books, by Faith Blum
  • Virtues and Valor, by Hallee Bridgeman
  • The Five Unnecessaries, by Laura Campbell
  • The Eyes of Everia series, by Serena Chase
  • Annabeth's War, by Jessica Greyson
  • A Dream Not Imagined, Shantelle Mary Hannu
  • Brothers and Betrayal, The Destiny of One, and Waltz into the Waves, by Sarah Holman
  • Creighton Hill, by Morgan Elizabeth Huneke
  • Dreamlander, K. M. Weiland
  • The Forest at Edge series, by Trish Mercer
  • By Darkness Hid and To Darkness Fled, by Jill Williamson
I've also read stacks of books on diet and nutrition, listened to The History of England from the Accession of James II, The History of Holland, Early Kings of Norway, Emma, Northanger Abbey, Sense and Sensibility, and many other books. There are some other books I've read that aren't worth mentioning.

Next year I hope to read a whole lot more history, a little bit of fiction, and do a lot more Bible study.

I'll be away next week so there won't be any post for you. You all have a great new year and I'll be back in a bit over a week with exciting stories. I'm going to the Creation Super Camp. 

To end the year, I'll be finishing a 3000 piece puzzle with my family
(yes they do actually make them that big),  eating brie cheese and watching a new movie. What do you all do to finish off the year? Has anyone got any interesting goals for the coming year?

Monday, 28 December 2015

Celebrating Rizkaland: TAG!

Kendra has created a tag for the Ten Years of Rizkaland party over at her blog. Since I love her books and like tags, I've done it.

1. Have you read Water Princess, Fire Prince yet? 
Yes, about four times.
2. If so, what is your favourite part? If not, what are you looking forward to the most? 
I love the discussion between Laura and Clara at the end of Part 4. And then what happens next, I was so annoyed the first time because I didn't have the next part and had to wait.
3. It's Christmas time! What's the best Christmas present you've ever received? 
Tricky, I have gotten so many good presents. The most significant that come to mind was a birthday present so I'll go with the longest lasting, which probably is my 6-years-old hiking shoes.
4. What are your favourite fantasy worlds? 
I love Ilyon, E'veria, Narnia and Rizkaland.
5. Who are your favourite fictional couples?
Oooh, tricky, I'm not a romance person really. I can't think of any I haven't liked hough and I am rather fond of Clara and Andrew. I always love the, "You're together, there's nothing you can do about it, learn to love each other." stories. And I love subtle romance.
6. Do you have any projects (writing or otherwise) that you've been working on for ten years? 
Our family has been renovating for that long.
7. Fantasy weapon of choice? 
Quarterstaff. Swords are too common.
8. Name your element! 
Oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sulphur, sodium, magnesium. And every one has those. Yes, I like science sometimes. But it's relevant. Dihydrogen Monoxide is discussed in WP,FP.
9. What are you hoping to see in future volumes of the Rizkaland Legends? 
More complicated world and time twisting, hopefully a bit more of the books actually taking place in our world and some that don't take place in our world at all. And I am really looking forward to seeing more Christian truths presented. Water Princess, Fire Prince was very subtle, so there will probably be a build up to bigger things. I really want to see what Kendra's method for handling it will be.
10. What is your favourite Christian allegory? 
 Narnia will always be a favourite, but I also have a soft spot for Hind's Feet on High Places and it's sequel which I cannot remember the name of. And I also love the allegory in The Ankulen by Kendra E. Ardnek.

Friday, 25 December 2015

The light

I thought I'd share one of my favourite passage for Christmas. I love it because it is so simple.

John 1:1-14 (NKJV) 
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 
He was in the beginning with God. 
All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 
In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 
And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. 

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 
This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. 
He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 

That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. 
He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 
He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 
 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Character Encounters

I've finally gotten to take part in Kendra's Character Encounters. I want to do one long before I had a blog. Any way this month it's in her beautiful world of Rizkaland which is now ten years old.

“Hello, Anna.”
I look up from my writing to see a young dark haired girl standing in front of me. “Hi, ah, are you one of my new neighbours?” I ask, “Wait, what did you call me?” No one ever calls me Anna outside of the Internet. 
“I’m Laura,” She says, pulling me out my camp char towards the bushes. “I’m taking you to meet a friend of yours.” 
“Wait, I – ” It’s too late. Colours swirls around me and then I am standing on purple grass with turquoise leaves waving above me in the wind. I quickly guess where I am. 
“Uh, Laura, are you sure you took me to the right place. I don’t mind visiting Rizkaland, but I thought you said I’d be meeting a friend of mine.” 
She smiles and nods. “I did, he’s just over there. Go and talk to him.” She takes a step backwards and disappears. 
Rather annoying of her, I hadn’t finished asking questions yet. I look around to see the person mentioned, a blond haired young man dressed in varying blues from his hat down to the tops of his boots. He has his head in his hands and seems to be muttering to himself. I approach cautiously. I don’t exactly know anyone in Rizkaland, and especially not anyone resembling him. Suddenly he looks up. 
“Excuse me, mi’ad. Could you tell me whether or not I’m dreaming?” He grins at me for a moment before frowning again. 
I lean against the nearest tree. No wonder Laura had said a friend of mine. He’s certainly no Rizkan.

"I don’t think you're exactly dreaming, Wil. I might be, but not you.” 
A  puzzled expression comes over his face. “How do you know my name? For I certainly don’t know yours, mi’ad. And I didn’t understand what you just said. I surely am not awake. This place looks crazier that Adel’s fairy books. 
I smile nervously at him and sit down. “I am Anna, and I know you because I’m writing your story down. We’ve actually met before but I’m not surprised that you don’t remember it.” 
“What’s so great about my story? Why not tell the story of someone who’s done something worthwhile?” 
“Wil, you ought to know better than that. God doesn’t choose the greatest people. It’s not those who do the biggest things that are most important.” 
He shakes his head. “Well I’m certainly not doing anything big. You ought to know that. I’m certainly no one special. You should be telling Elind’s story. Now she has had what you would call big obstacles.” 
“I know Wil, I do know and I am telling her story. And I know exactly who you are too.” 
Eyebrows go up at that. “Who told you? Elind?”
I laugh and stand up. “No, not her. I’ve known longer than she has.” I spy Laura waving to me from the other side of a heap of boulders. “I’ll be going now.” 
He jumps to his feet. “But you only just got here. And you haven’t explained how you know so much about me. What else do you know that you shouldn’t?” 
I start walking away. “I know you are going to do great things and that your work will bring results.” 
“Is there anything you don’t know?” 
“I don’t know why you wear blue all of the time. Farewell, Wil. Go for a hunt, I’ve heard the Quaggleshump are good.” 
He bows slightly. “You fare well also, Maid Anna. And please don’t let Adel come here. She’d go mad with excitement. As for why I wear blue, I don’t think you need to know.” 
He sits down again in the same position as when I met him. 
I’m not sure that the meeting has been very useful to either of us. But even though I couldn’t find out his secret, I didn’t get tongue-tied either. And he didn't seem to get too confused.
Not quite right, but Wil looks something like that. In blue of course. 

Also in honour of the ten years of Rizkaland and because she's amazing, Kendra will have some of her books free between Christmas and New Year. Check them out, they're great fun.

And you all have a blessed Christmas.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Reading Thoughtfully

There, my final tagline post.

I believe that as Christians it is not wise or right to just read a book without thinking about what it is trying to say. You may say, 'it's just a story'. But it isn't. Ideas aren't neutral. Either they line up with God's truth or they don't. It's simple.

So when I read I try to analyse what the author is trying to say. Or maybe not even trying. Many people are just trying to tell a enjoyable story. But still their view of the world is going to come through. So it's probably a good idea to find out something of what the author believes before reading their book. I must admit that I often forget to do that. But I still try to figure it out. I don't want to find that I am believing a lie.

Of course this doesn't I only read books that are written from a certain world view. This year I found out a series I was reading, was written by a LDS lady. I still kept reading and enjoyed them. There was still a lot of truth in them. Knowing where she was coming from helped me know what errors to look out for. I'll do a full review sometime.

I enjoy some older books that aren't strictly classed as Christian. Especially accurate historical fiction. In the past the general culture was more Christian and this is reflected in some books. I wouldn't read a contemporary secular book though because they have so much filth in them. And some Christian books aren't  a lot better.

When I read I'm always looking for a godly theme or message in it. This may be because my family has a general stance against reading a lot of fiction and I feel that I need to justify having spent time on that book. When I haven't learnt anything from a book it feels like a waste of time.

I also read as a writer. Since I started writing, I've never looked a story the same way again. I notice the plot, I notice little things like alliteration, I notice little mistakes, like using the same word too many times. That may be because I'm reading aloud to my brothers though. But when I read to them I keep making little comments.

I also think about movies and music. With movies I even have a pen and note pad. Often I don't write anything down, but we talk about things still. And with music I usually  think about what it is saying. That is why I like songs from scripture. I don't have to analyse it. God's word is the one thing we are safe not to filter. and even then I think about it.

Thinking about stories hasn't lessened my enjoyment though. I think it has made it greater. I will follow these same standards when I do book reviews. That probably won't be very often as I'm not a great reviewer, but it'll happen occasionally.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Living Joyfully

Hello readers,

I decided to do my posts out of order. I had planned to talk about reading, but sometimes, you just want to talk about life. (There I go talking about myself in the second person again)

Even when life is hard, we should still be able to find some joy. Christ has rescued us from death and sin and that ought to be enough. And then there are so many simples joys in life. Things like lovely weather, cooking, or gardening.

A little while ago I harvested the first garlic for the year. I like growing garlic. It's so simple. Just stick the cloves in the ground and seven or eight months later you pull out whole heads. One on them was a little early and there's lots more coming. I harvested another head today in fact. I am very glad I planted as much as I did, because we probably aren't going to get much else this season. We have a problem. Our plants are being eaten.

By mice we thought. Because we knew we had mice. But we weren't catching any. Even with a get-the-peanut-butter-and-fall-into-a-bucket-of-water trap. something was getting the peanut butter though. And now we know what it is. Rats. So we got the rabbit trap set up and we are waiting for night to come. But at least rats don't like garlic.

The same day I harvested the garlic I was also making bread, and I took some photos. So here they are. I make bread because then I can know exactly what's in it. Or not in it. It doesn't have a lot of things in it. But it's really good.

Anyway this post doesn't seem to have a great point to it, but life is like that sometimes. Not everything seems to be hugely important. But we do it anyway and we find joy in it. Not because of what we are doing, but because of who we are, children of the living God. May you find joy in him.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

It's Ilyon Day!

Hey there,
This is the day when I get to talk about some of my favourite books, the Ilyon Chronicles, by Jaye L. Knight.

First I want to thank Rachael Steele over at The Art of Writing for Him for suggesting this. And Jaye for writing the books, and anyone else involved in their production.

Short Review:
The books are amazing stories of faith in the midst of persecution. They caused me to consider my faith deeper. They made me laugh and almost cry. (I don't cry easily when reading.)
Jaye is a very skilled writer. her books are very deep emotionally. They are not for the faint of heart though as she does not gloss over violence. They have no more violence than there is in the real world, but some people might find it too much. Apart from that they are clean though.
She has very relate-able characters and a stunning world. I can hardly wait to see where she will take us in the next book. I would recommend them for about 16+.

Character Spotlight:
Kyrin Altair is one of my favourite characters. I relate very well to her as we have much in common: two older and two younger brothers(no twin brother though), brown hair, similar personalities. We are both shy, both love our family. My family is closer than hers, (in the beginning at least), but that is mostly a result of circumstance.
I greatly look up to Kyrin and I am inspired by her. Her faith is phenomenal. I hope, I trust and pray, that I would be as brave as her under persecution. However I am afraid that I, in her situation, would not have befriended Jace. I may have pitied him, perhaps even defended him a bit, but I would have just stayed in my safe little shell. The fear of being hurt or rejected, the fear of what others might think, the fear of opening my self up would have kept me from truly showing God's love to one who badly needed it. It did not stop Kyrin. She stepped out in faith and did what God wanted her to. She did not give up. She was brave and became a friend. That is what I admire most about her.

Martyr Spotlight:
I recently hear the story of an early Christian martyr in Carthage. Perpetua was a young married noblewoman with a nursing baby. She had her child with her in prison and her father pleading with her to recant her faith. She stood firm though and and was martyred along with her companions. Her story is quite fascinating. Look her up.

Prayer Points:
There are so many Christians being persecuted right now. I ma just going to list a few of them. There are many more who need prayer.
Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, Meriam Ibrahim, Pastor Farshid Fathi, Pastor Behnam Irani, Asia Bibi.
Here is a good list of what to pray:

I may or may not be posting again this week. 'Til next time,
God be with you all.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Beautiful Books + New Title

I noticed the Beautiful Books linkup and decide I wanted to do it. Before the end of the month. So I have an extra post.

So I haven't been doing NaNoWriMo, but I have still been writing. I'll be talking about my story Restrained or Protected which I just renamed to: The Weaver and the Brigand.  (or possibly Spinner) This isn't the only name I've come up with though. For a while it was The Maiden and the Brigand in my head, I have a document called, Her Outlaw Knight, and the exercise book I use for outlining stuff says: So Called Freedom. I really like that name. It just does not fit. At least at the moment I don't think it does.
1. Is the book turning out how you thought it would be, or is it defying your expectations?
It's becoming more complicated than I expected, but also deeper. I had an idea this week that adds a whole new layer to it. That's why I changed the name.

2. What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)?
I really don't have one. I've written many and at the moment I don't like any of them. Most of the have something about a knight or prince in them though.

3. Are you a plotter or a pantser? Have you ever tried both methods and how did it turn out?
I plan, but not in great detail. When I've made changes, I might make a note, but I won't go and re-outline it.

4. What do you reward yourself with after meeting a goal?
Last month I bought myself Captivated, by Molly Evangeline. Next time I meet a goal, I'll have to come up with something else.

5. What do you look for in a name? Do you have themes and where do you find your names?
I want them to be somewhat distinctive, yet simple. Most of my names have an anglo-germanic feel to them.
6. What is your favourite to write: beginning, middle, or end — and why? 
The beginning is hard to get right. Lot's of interesting things things happen in the middle and I'm just at the beginning of the end. Which is fun, but i don't really know quite where I'm going.

7. Who’s your current favourite character in your novel?
Right now it's actually Adel, my protagonist. I was a bit surprised to realized that. Especially as every time I do a personality test with her, I get a different result. And when I think about it I'm not sure what makes her cool.

8. What kind of things have you researched for this project, and how do you go about researching? (What’s the weirdest thing you've researched?!)
I'm just starting to research Roman-Britain. I suddenly thought that would be a good flavour to add in. I've got some books set there I'm planning to read. Weirdest things I research was about knocking people out and making sleeping potions.

9. Do you write better alone or with others? Do you share your work or prefer to keep it to yourself?
Racing someone else can help me but I usually write alone. At the moment I'm keeping it to myself. It's not quite at a stage I can share it.

10. What are your writing habits? Is there a specific snack you eat? Do you listen to music? What time of day do you write best? Feel free to show us a picture of your writing space!
I don't really have any particular habits. Sometimes I listen to music. I really don't know what time I write best. I write in all kinds of places. Either of my desks, sitting on the lounge, at the bench, outside. I've even ended up writing at the library and in the mall. That has worked well. None of the wrong kinds of distractions there. Well at the library I had a bag full of books and did get a bit distracted.
So that's what's happening with my writing. I'm having fun. I'm not stuck at the moment, but I'm rather busy and can't get a lot done. At's it's probably terrible, but I don't care, I can fix it later.
God bless you all. I hope you have a great weekend.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Writing Intentionally

Welcome to my blog. I hope you will enjoy and be encouraged by what I write here.

Let me introduce myself. I am a writer. I go by Anna, but some people might know me as Bria. I'm fairly new to writing. I was the girl who never enjoyed writing assignment very much. My parents were very surprised when I started writing. I was slightly less surprised, I'd given myself more time to get used to it. I honestly didn't tell them until after I'd been planning for several months.

The beautiful pen my little brother made me, sitting right on top of my writing.
It really started when I had a good idea. Before that I'd only thought of mixing up fairy-tales and a few other stories. Those ideas were not original at all. I did make up other stories in my head and play act them with my brothers, but I never thought of writing any of them down. They probably weren't that good anyway.

I thought I should start by explaining my motto/tagline. I'm going to do it one part at a time, probably posting once a week. I might have some extra posts occasionally though.

So writing intentionally, what do I mean by that? I don't mean that I always write exactly what I meant to, or that I write whenever I intend to. (I wish that was the case though) I mean that I write with an intention, a purpose.

I don't want to just be entertaining, I want to make people think deeper at the same time. I want to to show truth. By showing, not telling. I don't want to write another preachy story or an overdone allegory.

I'm going to share a quote from one of my favourite writing books, Story Trumps Structure by Steven James. This is a great book even if you outline your stories in detail. It has great insights in to many parts of writing. Chapter 20: Meaning, is simply amazing. The quote is from there.

"Propaganda is when a viewpoint is promoted regardless of truth. Art is when truth is rendered regardless of agenda. Art rips the veil away, revealing reality in a way we cannot ignore. It forces us to see the world as it is, to see ourselves as we truly are, and to embrace once again the deep actualities of human nature that we know but so easily forget. Within art, truth touches time, debate becomes irrelevant, and thematic summaries are unnecessary.
Every story happens within a distinctly moral universal. There may be immoral stories, but there are no amoral stories. They’re all told from a certain world view, from a specific perspective. Every story is based on perceptions of right and wrong, good and evil, life and death. They all come from a set of beliefs and assumptions about the world and about what matters.
Or, perhaps that nothing ultimately matters.
That God doesn't exist.
That he does.
That he’s in control.
That he’s not.
That he cares about you.
That he doesn't.
Do our choices really make a difference, or, at the end of the day, are our lives inconsequential in the big scheme of things? Will justice prevail, or is it an illusion? All of these questions and issues matter, and the views of the author will affect how they are approached.
There’s a difference between a story’s moral fabric and your own moral agenda. Strive to let your fiction depict the truth of the world as it really is, rather than how you wish it were.”
James, Steven. Story Trumps Structure (Pages 239-240). Writer’s Digest Books.

That is my goal. To present the moral truths of the world. Not necessarily the historical or physical facts. I am writing fantasy, but I'm not going to distort God's reality. At least that is my prayer. I know I'm not perfect. There is no way I could write a perfect book. But I will do my best. I certainly intend for it to be fun though. And or it to be different. I hope to make other people's live a least a little bit better in some way by my writing.

Also Matthew 12:36 says that we will have to give an account for every idle word spoken. I think that applies to written words too. They are much more permanent and spread far wider. So with God's help I will write well.

I'll be back here next Tuesday for a special post. and I may just have something else in between.

There you made it to the bottom of my first post. That wasn't too hard was it?