Saturday, March 31, 2012

Letters to the Characters: Kell Thurton

The closest resemblance I've found that Kell (my Hero from Broken Glass King) agrees looks like himself.
Dear Kell,

Today, I really don't feel like writing.  It's probably just me, but then I'm thinking, and I'm trying to write YOUR story, and it's just a complete fail.  Maybe you're not really alive, maybe you've died in my mind.  Maybe I left you alone for a couple weeks and you faded from reality into myth.  You were just coming out of your shell.  You were just taking those steps off the page and into my heart but something's slammed the lid on that and you are just a person sitting around in my head.  So tell me- why are you special, Kell Thurton?  Why shouldn't I just scrap your story and toss you into the folder of failed projects and forgotten people?  What about you can make me pry the lid back open and bring you again off the page and into something real.  You're so complex, aren't you.  Elusive but honest. Hiding but trying to escape your own little spinning head.  You want to be known but you just don't know how to express yourself.  You're half frightened to do it too. You want to open yourself up but it hurts and you don't know the right way to go about it without tearing apart your own soul.  Or the souls of others.  You're fighting in the war, but--

--Oh.  Fighting the war?

Is that what you need to do, Kell?
Leap back onto the page as a fighter, as someone who is on the front lines of the war?
Is that what I was missing about you?  I suppose I did create you to be a kind of diplomat, a keep-your-hands-clean leader who sat behind a desk and made tough decisions. But that way, you don't see the little girl dying in her father's arms. You don't pick up a sword and choose if you're going to run it through a man just like you. You're too plastic that way, too far away from the conflict.  Maybe that was part of the missing piece of you.

Come out of your box, Kell. I promise I'm throwing away the key- and I'll stop pre-deciding what kind of person you're going to be.  I'll follow you onto the battlefield and I'll write YOUR story.  Not my idea of what you as a puppet ought to do.

Love from your writer, 

Friday, March 30, 2012

Beyond the shadows is the sunshine

I crash through the forest, roots sneaking up towards my ankles, branches swatting my cheeks.   Somehow I've lost my way amidst the darkness. The trees close in, but I press on, ignoring the scratches on my arms as I keep on searching.  I've got to find my way home.  Safety is there, at home.  Security is there. 

We're all looking for something. We're frantically searching,  desiring purpose, meaning.   Fulfillment.

My heart has a song, and it's crying out.  It's a compass, and it's pointing to something.  It's desperate for something more than the pain and work and weariness of this world.  It hurts to see pain and not be able to do anything about it.  It hurts to live in the world with all its disappointments and sorrows.  I hurt for the children without parents.  I hurt for the parents who've lost their children. I hurt for the lost, the addicted, the dying, the betrayed.

I know I was made to live for more than this 60 or 70 year life on earth.  I was made for the sunrise, for the eternal shore, for the Home beyond the shadows of the dark forest.  

How does one live for eternity?

I know Truth. So why do I run away and pretend that I don't?  When I try to leave behind truth and bury myself in mud sooner or later it crashes around me and I am left with dry dust in my hands.

What good is it to gain everything in this life, to laugh at every joke and have 500 Facebook friends and wear the right clothes and be liked by all and yet not have God?  

What good is it if I have so much of a virtual life that I lose touch with my family?  What good is it if I isolate myself and read and study and write and think inspiring thoughts but neglect my God and His people?

Eternity in my heart means that I know God's Word and that it fills my mind.   It means that I resist the temptation to set my mind on things that will fly away like dust.  It means that I choose something Higher than the earth I'm standing on.

Eternity in my heart means I live for something bigger than the latest fad, something grander than a tv show, something more worthy than temporal pleasure. 

Eternity in my heart means just that....the reality and consequences of Forever imprinted upon my soul.

Think about Forever.    Think about what Forever means.  
And then live with Forever in your heart.

Live with the song of tomorrow.

Friday, March 23, 2012

A storyteller's glasses

The storyteller may forget the grocery list while she people watches and plots novels, but she's not trying to be forgetful.  It's just that her prescription for seeing the world includes the formula "Writer".
Sometimes I think that writers, and specifically storytellers, see the world in a slightly different way then everyone else.  

For example, when a writer reads history, she can find something interesting in almost any place and historical period.  The conflicts in history become feeding ground for stories.  Girls weren't allowed to go to war during the 1800's? How about a girl who does.  There were men on the Titanic who selfishly took valuable seats in lifeboats while women drowned? How about a girl who calls them out for it. Thus history becomes more powerful to a writer because she create characters who live that history and those conflicts.  Same goes for scientific discoveries, twists on old fables and fairy tales, and the ever potent question "What if?".

Then there's movie watching and book reading, both of which are simultaneously spoiled and enriched for a writer.  She can't see a film without picking it to bits.  If she's reading a book with lousy characters she has a lot less patience than she did before she was a writer.  She can distinguish why she likes certain stories and why she dislikes others. She notices themes. She is entranced by characters.  Hopefully, when a writer watches or reads a really good story, she is encouraged.  Hopefully, good stories spur her on to write her own stories with more passion, motivation, and skill.

Finally, when a Writer goes to the grocery store, the bratty child, over-talkative teenager, clerk with a chip on her shoulder, and man shouting into his cell phone all provide ideas about characters and stories.  The writer looks at things from the perspective of Story, Character, and Theme and sometimes misses the less consequential things, such as grocery lists and being places on time.  Also, the people who a writer knows are prime candidates for inspiration in her stories.  This includes, but is not limited to strange quirks, odd histories, funny mannerisms, strong character traits, and embarrassing stories.

So if you are a writer and you see the world through a slightly different pair of glasses, don't be alarmed. This is a perfectly normal thing for a writer to experience and should be encouraged, not downplayed. Enjoy the way you see the world.  Learn from it.  Hone that writer's lens prescription.

If you know a writer and they seem to notice the unnecessary random things while missing the grocery list - don't worry. They're just seeing the world through a very unique prescription.  And ultimately, we'll all benefit.


*These are generalizations. Not all writers will think particularly this way- this is just things, both humorous and serious that I have noticed about the way I view life as a writer. :)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Classics never age

I'm reading Lord of the Rings again, and it's just as good a book now as it was the first time I read it.   Some things never age- classic books certainly don't.
"The road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say."
-The Fellowship of the Rings

Here's to amazing characters, poetry that breathes mystery and magic, and stories that pull back the veil and show me something beautiful.

Go read a classic book today. Turn off the computer, brew a cup of tea and chill on the couch with something that will never quite grow old.

"Bilbo was meant to find the ring, and not by its maker. In which case you also were meant to have it. And that may be an encouraging thought." -Gandalf

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What is a Christian Storyteller, (Part Two)

Yesterday I talked about a couple different faulty ways that people think about what being a Christian Storyteller means.  Today, I want to talk a little about what my passion as a Christian Storyteller is.
As a Christian and a Storyteller, this is my vision. This is not going to be the vision of all Christian Storytellers necessarily. That's something that every writer has to determine on their own.  This is simply my take on the subject.

I've written a number of different genres.  Some things I've written have been more obviously Christian, and some, like my current WiP, isn't.  But what I believe is important in my stories stays the same, regardless. 

As a Christian Storyteller, I am someone saved by Jesus and have my whole life committed to Him.  Therefore, as a writer, I have varying styles and levels of Christian content in my books, but they all have the same focus- to honor God and seek His will as I write Stories with Purpose and Truth.

So- what does being a Christian and a Storyteller mean?  Can Christians write non-Christian fiction?  I'd say they can.

Being a Christian Storyteller starts deep.  It starts with the heart. In fact, it starts way before you thought about being a writer. It starts with Jesus dying for you.  Then it starts in your life with God's mercy breaking into your sin and redeeming you into His family.  Being a Christian Storyteller starts with a new heart and a new life given to you by the Creator of the Universe (on an unrelated note, read this where Kelsey talks about the remarkably upside down love of Jesus.)

When Jesus grips your heart, you are going to be a very different writer.  After all, your love for stories is a gift from God.  And because He has bought you and you are His, this gift is now one you offer back TO Him for Him to use.  What you get you turn around and give back to the Giver. Upside down, but true.  And yeah, this is really personal to me right now.

God is the source and the center of me as a Christian Storyteller.  He guides this Storyteller.  Sometimes He may give me the vision to write a Christian story, and sometimes He calls me to write stories that are not specifically 'Christian' for HIS glory, to share Truth with the world in a way they will be able to see it. The thing is, whatever I write as a Christian Storyteller, I write for God. I write because He's enabled me.  I write to tell Truth and to bring joy and healing and light in places of darkness.

I write my heart out for my King.

Monday, March 12, 2012

What is a "Christian" Storyteller? (Part One)

In an online writing group I'm a part of somebody recently asked the question "If you're a Christian, do you have to write 'Christian' genre fiction?"  Some would say yes.  Most disagree to some extent.  I'd like to delve a little deeper and ask a question with a bigger scope.

"What does it mean to be a Christian Writer?" (or, more specifically, a Christian Storyteller, as what I'm referring to is fiction, not nonfiction).  Here are three things people may think a Christian Storyteller is or ought to be.

One: "A Christian Storyteller is someone who happens to be a Christian and also happens to be a writer, so therefore their writing has little or no connection to what they believe, either overtly or in more subtle ways."
Saying you're a writer who just happens to be a Christian is faulty reasoning.  It's akin to saying you're a teacher or a plumber or a songwriter who just happens to have Christian beliefs.  Some people say that we need to distance our own beliefs from our work.  But that's a serious problem.  This idea suggests that somehow your belief in Jesus is divorced from your real life.  It suggests that your Christianity is 'private' and has no real effect on who you are.  But that isn't God's calling.

God's calling encompasses all of life.  He wants the whole man, the whole person with all their hopes and dreams and plans and lifestyles.  Jesus demands that everything must come under His leadership.  Our lives- lives saved by grace- become lives given over to Jesus in every aspect, and that includes writing. 

Two: "A Christian Storyteller is someone who only writes overtly 'Christian' fiction, labeled Christian in genre and usually read mainly by a Christian audience."
I don't think this is quite so common of a view, but there probably are some who believe it.  In this idea, being a Christian and a writer means that you have to write "Christian" books.  I'm not saying anything against Christian stories. We need them. I've been encouraged and strengthened by Christian fiction. But if every Christian writer only writes books for the Christian marketplace, then Christians will have no influence in the world of literature outside of ourselves. It's a fallacy that all writers who are Christians must write overtly Christian stories.

If we are the salt and light of the world, then we NEED writers who are Christians writing books that non-Christians will read. Most of my favourite stories are not labeled "Christian."  But they point to beauty and Truth and draw me closer to Jesus.
As Christian storytellers, we have the opportunity to affect people, both Christians and non-Christians with the power of stories that honor and point to God even if they never mention His name.  It's tough, but it's needed.

Coming Tomorrow:  What is a "Christian" Storyteller (Part Two: My Vision)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

An Interview with Riwa Aretheni

So- I'm participating in the March blog chain hosted by Teens Can Write Too!  Read about it here.

Today I'm doing an interview with a character from (one of) my current works-in-progress, Noisemaker.   This is Riwa Aretheni, the Hero and POV Character; a 12-year-old redhead who never went to school and grew up without parents but does have a whole lot of passion and is intent on pursuing freedom and Truth.

Me: Riwa, welcome to the blog. I seem to be bad at describing you sometimes.  So, instead of that, I'll let you lead off.  What kind of person would you describe yourself as?

Riwa: Loaded question!  Do I have to answer?

Me: It's an interview, not a duck and evade training class.

Riwa:  Okay, I'll jump right in.  Young girl.  Young Noisemaker.  Silence is intent on squelching Noisemakers.  Girl is intent on NOT getting squelched and starts a revolution. Girl fights, girl fails, girl learns.  Me in a nutshell *grinning*

Me:  So what's a Noisemaker?

Riwa: We're the socially unacceptable minority.  Y'know, in one of those character sheet thingamabobs, they asked what my 'political leaning' was. You were filling out the forms and half the stuff you got wrong about me, but that much you got right.  REVOLUTION.  We don't like what the Silence is doing to the world. We don't like not being able to tell people what we believe and we don't like Truth getting shoved in prison.

Me:  Okay, so what does that look like, exactly?  What kind of revolution are you trying to start?

Riwa: It's a revolution of ideas, mostly.  Y'know, we're trying to bring free speech back into the public.  Nobody says anything anymore about what they actually think.  Everything's spoon fed and we're sick of it.  We do things to get peoples' attention.

Me: Yeah, like that stunt you pulled when you sabotaged the radio systems and jammed them from regular programming so you could speal your stuff?

Riwa: That was a fail. We learned from it.  why do you have to bring it up in public places?

Me: Because I'm trying to give these readers a glimpse of who you are.  Your choices define who you are, so I'm--

Riwa:  --you're showing them my choices.  I know your lingo.  Sometimes I make really stupid choices.
Me: Like me letting you on the blog?

Riwa: *a disinterested, unimpressed look*

Me: Moving on- do you have family?

Riwa: Yes.

Me:  Please humor me, Ri.  Who's your family?

Riwa:  No parents. One sister, two brothers, both older than me.  Will's a Noisemaker and the Silence wants to catch him, bad.  Ben's messed up.

Me: Messed up...?

Riwa: He's in training to be a Silence soldier.

Me: What about your sister?

Riwa:  Keriana? She's a lot older than me and she's in prison for telling Silence that she wouldn't change her style of journalism to suit them.  Now, tell me, does she get out eventually?  I haven't lived the end of the book yet.

Me:  Spoilers!

Riwa: *rolling eyes*  I can't stand it when you play that card. By the way, you really ought to hurry up on the whole writing thing.   I'm waiting...

Me: You should hear from some of my other characters.  Anyhow,  Let's not talk about the future right now, but the past. What's the worst failing you've had?

Riwa: Well, have I had it yet?

Me: *shaking head*

Riwa: O boy. Yeah, I guess saying it's like picking a scab and it gets better after, so yeah *deep breath*.  I backed down once. I didn't want to look bad in front of someone, so I gave up my freedom and got myself into a mess that cost everyone a lot of suffering.

Me: One last question.  To move the conversation fowards, what is one thing that gives you hope?

Riwa:  Truth. I know that there is such a thing as Truth. And nothing can stop it.  We fight for freedom so we can enjoy Truth.  That's hopeful.  And when it rains.  Nothing smells like hope more than rain.

Me:  Well, with that I'll end this interview. Riwa, thanks for being in this interview and in my story.

Riwa: Can I duck and evade now?

Monday, March 5, 2012

My Favourite Characters #9: Robin Hood

Hm.  No picture for this character, since he's from a book that hasn't (yet) been published, and I'm not going to just go and find some random actor who plays Robin Hood :)   So you get a picture of a statue instead.
Honorable mentions for #9: Marcellus Gallio (The Robe), Albert Ingalls (Little House on the Prairie), and Henrik (Young Underground series)

First off, before I start, an important clarification.  There are many, many versions of Robin Hood as a character.  The one that is on this list however, is very specific.  He's from the pen of a teenage writer who I greatly admire, namely one Nairam of Sherwood.  if you want more background on her Robin, read this post on her blog. 

Storyline of Character:
He's an outlaw. Check for traditional Robin Hood stories.  He robs the rich, gives to the poor, and is a fantabulous archer.  Check again for traditional Robin Hood.  But beyond that, his story is unique.  There's no 'love at first sight' between Robin and Marian.  In this story, she believes he's a heretic and an outlaw.  She's also in love with the Sheriff of Nottingham and determined that she'll marry him and find the love she's never found from her father.  But Robin interferes. He's been a slave in the Sheriff's house and knows the things that happen to girls behind those walls.  After rescuing Marian from another rough group of outlaws, he convinces Marian to stay with his band in the forest. Marian plots to turn Robin in to the Sheriff and continues to treat him with the disrespect and condemnation she believes this heretic deserves.  But despite her plotting, he sticks with her, telling her the truth and showing genuine love for her.
(oh. Hard to describe this story in one paragraph.  Has anyone guessed that I struggle with being long-winded? So I'll stop here and not spoil the ending.)

Strong points of character:
Robin is more concerned with following Jesus than with keeping in step with the status quo.   He's an outlaw who steals from the rich to give to the oppressed poor and isn't afraid to tell off the political and religious leaders for their hypocricy.  But he's not all talk.  He truly cares for the poor and does more than just give them money.  He shares with them, works with them, stands with them and loves them in practical and emotional ways.
Also, his compassion extends itself in his actions in taking in Marian and loving her even when she is *cough* more than just a little rude to him- even when she betrays him. This compassion also shows up in the way he tells the Truth, regardless of the consequences because he cares about the PERSON who is hurting and needs God.
One more thing I really noticed is that Robin acknowledges his dependance on God's grace.  He knows he's failed in big ways and can't make himself good.  He's humble and knows he can't do anything apart from the radical mercy and strength that Jesus gives him.

Weak points of character:
If anything, he thinks too little of himself and he heaps too much guilt on himself for things in the past.  His self worth is very low and mistakes he's made haunt him and hurt him even once he's moved on from them.  Sometimes he has a hard time accepting grace and forgiveness.

What makes me Love this character:
His love for Jesus that spills out in his compassion for others and in his commitment to loving the unlovable.  In a very real way, Robin shows Marian what Jesus is like by his sacrifice and love.  I've read this book at least 2-3 times, and every time I finish it with a greater desire to love Jesus and love people.  A lot of that has to do with the example of what a life sold out to loving Jesus and loving people looks like in the person of Robin.
(And he's got a terrific sense of humor, especially when Marian or Much is around.)

Quotes from this character:

Robin gave a slight laugh. “I only wanted--I’ve tried--do I offend you?” 
“You are an outlaw.”
“Good reason for offense.” 
“But worse than that, you are a heretic.” 
“Because I love my God?” 
“You, a heretic? You cannot possibly love God!”
“No. Not as fully as he loves me. But weak as my love is, I--” 
“You ridiculous contradiction! One moment, you’re insulting and robbing a man of the church, the next you’re talking to me as if you were one of God’s most faithful servants.”
“I try to be.” The answer was quiet--too quiet. It was hard to see his face in the dim light. “I know that more often than not, I fail. But you aren’t going to make me give up, Marian. For me it is better to be labeled by the world a heretic then to know in my heart I am a hypocrite.”

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Teens Can Write Too (March Blog Chain)

I'm excited to be a part of a blog chain this month, hosted by Teens Can Write Too!

This month's theme is Character Interviews.   Ever day for the rest of the month there will be character interviews going on at the blogs of a group of teenaged story-writers. 

Today I'm posting the schedule for the blog chain, and on March 10th my post, an interview with one of the characters from my latest novel will be posted here!

March 5 — — Kirsten Writes!
March 6 — – Struggles Of A (Maybe) Teen Author
March 7 — –This Page Intentionally Left Blank
March 8 — – The Dreamers Adventures
March 9 — — Lily’s Notes in the Margins
March 10 — – A Box of Letters and a Cup of English Tea ^^ That's me!
March 11– –From My Head
March 12 — –The Word Asylum
March 13 — –Oh Yeah, Write!
March 14 — – A Farewell To Sanity
March 15 — — Novel Journeys
March 16 — — Comfy Sweaters, Writing and Fish
March 17 — – Oops Was That Out Loud?
March 18 — — Here’s To Us
March 19 —— The Incessant Droning of a Bored Writer
March 20 — –Teens Can Write Too! (We will be announcing the topic for next month’s chain)

**Please note as a disclaimer: I don't personally know these bloggers, so I can't vouch for them or the content on their sites.