Monday, January 31, 2011

Sunshine Flower

I took this picture about a year ago at the US Botanical Gardens in DC. (It's inside, in case anyone was wondering how in the world flowers could bloom in winter.) It was taken for the Complimentary Color competition at the photo club I go to. This picture is one of my favorites, and the one I thought would most likely place. Unfortunately, it didn't even get an Honorable Mention. I call it "Sunshine Flower" because of the way the light shines through the petals. What do you think of my picture?

By the way, the voting on whether or not I should post story parts on Saturdays has been extended to the eighth of February. To vote, click here and comment with your opinion.

Friday, January 28, 2011

What's Up With Me

Hi, everyone! Today is Friday, that means an update on what I’ve been doing! So, here are some of the more interesting aspects of my week:
  • I had my English midterm today. Was I nervous? Definitely, especially since I didn’t even know I had a midterm before last Monday or so. However, I got 100% on it. (It actually wasn't that bad, I was just surprised since I didn't think that I had midterms.)
  • I simultaneously reached my goal for the month of 31 books and finished reading The Silimarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien. The Silimarillion tells about most of the history of Middle Earth from the very beginning to the end of The Lord of the Rings.  If anyone’s thinking of reading it, don’t plan to read it all at once unless you’ve got all day. It is LONG and slightly confusing in spots, although it was fairly interesting.
  • I got a new CD player. So, I have been able to listen to a more varied range of music this week. YES!
  • We got the comment setting fixed so that everyone can comment! (Hint, hint) Sorry about the inconvenience if you tried to comment earlier.
  • It snowed Wednesday night! So, yesterday, my sister and I went out to play in the snow. The highlight of the afternoon was sledding, something that I enjoy, but might not be able to do as easily next year, as my legs are getting so long that we might have to get a new sled that I can fit in comfortably.
  • The picture I showed you yesterday did not win anything at the contest, because it was moved to March. Why? The place we meet at was closed because of the snow. Blitherated beetles.

Well, that’s my week, more or less. And now, I have a question of opinion for you. Thus far, I have posted two parts of a story a week, and it seems to be working fine. However, after I finish posting all of Knight’s Quest, I am considering posting a very long story . . . it’s actually long enough to have chapters. So, I am considering changing my schedule so that I post story parts on Saturdays as well. What do you think? You have until Tuesday the 1st to comment and tell me your opinion. If I get opinions, I’ll consider them. If not, I’ll decide on my own. So, what do you think?
Bye for now!


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Knight's Quest Part Four

Hi, everyone! I’m back once more, with Part Four of Knight’s Quest, a version that no one else has seen yet, despite the few times I’ve shown it to others. So, I’d really appreciate comments in this section. Not read the first few parts yet? Here are links to part one, part two, and part three. Now, on with the tale!

Part Four
“He . . . He has pointed ears!” whispered Walter “He . . . He’s an elf!”
            The elf had short brown hair, dark green eyes, and carried a bow, a quiver of arrows, and four knives. He was wearing gold armor and a green, brown, and gold mottled cloak. He stepped forward and bowed deeply.
            “Welcome, strangers.” he said, his voice deep and melodious, “I am Sir Shaftson Blackwood, one of the best warriors in the arboreal city of Woodsrovia, second only to her majesty Queen Irene Swiftshaft. I am sorry if I startled you, but I’m afraid it was rather unavoidable. And, yes, I am an elf. In fact the entire population of Woodsrovia is made up of elves. And, being elves, we have excellent hearing.” As Shaftson Blackwood said the last sentence, he was looking straight at Walter.
            “Sorry. I was startled. I just thought elves didn’t exist.” replied Walter, slightly taken aback.
“It is forgiven. Actually, we are rather used to it. It has, as you know, been accepted more or less as fact that elves do not exist. It is actually a lie started by Miran so that people wouldn’t come to us and find out many of his secrets.”
            “What secrets?” asked William and Walter.
            “In due time.” replied Shaftson. “Protocol requires that I first take you to meet Queen Irene, so that she may determine if you are worthy. She is a great judge of character. Follow me, please.” And with that, Sir Shaftson Blackwood turned and walked away, with William and Walter following close behind, though they stumbled quite a bit on the walkway of branches and boards.
Sir Shaftson Blackwood led William and Walter to a spot where the branches above grew thinner and a great amount of sunlight fell upon the lower branches. Here, in this sort of "treetop clearing", Queen Irene Swiftshaft held court. She sat, tall and proud, upon a sort of living throne, a branch that sloped down to make a seat. Her long, brown hair was swept back from her pointed ears, and she wore a flowing gown of green over lightweight, golden chain mail. A golden breastplate with a silver emblem covered her chest. She also wore a long cape, much like Shaftson Blackwood's and had a quiver of arrows slung over her shoulder. At her belt were two double scabbards with knives in them. She turned her gaze upon them and addressed the elf. "Shaftson, why have you brought these knights of Antuindia into our home?"
            Shaftson bowed. "With all due respect, your majesty, they were being chased by scynths. I could not leave them."
            The elven queen seemed to be satisfied, as she spoke now to William and Walter. "What are your names, knights of Antuindia?"
            William and Walter bowed, and William spoke. "I am Sir William of Antuindia, and this is my friend and comrade, Sir Walter. We are-"
            Queen Irene cut them off. "I know why you are here. You seek Miran, who kidnapped the Princess Ariana. I know this, as well as many other things. The elves of Woodsrovia are in no way blind to the goings-on of the rest of Alitene."
            William and Walter both swallowed. "Would you be so kind as to tell us what you know about Miran, your majesty?" Walter asked.
            The queen gazed at the two for a moment. "Humans have not been kind to the elves in the past," she said, half to William and Walter, half to herself, "but the people of Antuindia have never taken part in these dealings. Sir William and Sir Walter, do I have your word that you will not harm any elf, whether of Woodsrovia or another land, unless they first try to harm you?"
            Sir William nodded. "On my honor as a knight of Antuindia, you have my word." Walter said the same, and Queen Irene nodded.
            "You may know. Shaftson, please see to them."
            Shaftson nodded. "As you wish." He bowed, then turned away. "Come, Sir William and Sir Walter. There are more appropriate places to talk than here."

What are Miran’s secrets? Will Sir William and Sir Walter be able to use them to defeat Miran, or will the dragon succeed with his plan after all? You’ll find out soon in Knight’s Quest part five! In the meantime, please comment and tell me what you think of this new part!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Isle of Swords Review

Author: Wayne Thomas Batson
"Captain Declan Ross is a pirate who wants out. He is desperately searching for a treasure that will free him from the piracy business forever. Meanwhile, his crew is starving and his ship is falling apart in shark-infested waters. Desperate for supplies, they sail into the territory of . . .

Pirate Bartholomew Thorne, the black-hearted rogue who seeks to destroy anyone standing in the way of his finding the legendary treasure of Constantine.

A sixteen-year-old awakens on an island, alone and brutally injured, with no memory of who he is. The rare diamond he clutches will bring him between the pirates and their treasure, but will it also be the key to his own identity?"
-Summary from the back of Isle of Swords
Characters: Amazing! The many characters are colorful and vibrant, with the good guys not perfect and the bad guys thoroughly bad. Bartholomew Thorne is enjoyably chilling, and I would be hard put to find a bad guy who could match him. Alternately, many of the good guys, especially Jacques St. Pierre, are engaging and funny without being too crazy for me to picture. I just wish that some of the characters hadn’t died, as they caught my interest and I would’ve liked to hear more about them.

Location: Very clear and well mapped-out. There’s enough description that you can “see” the different places, but not so much that you’re overwhelmed with detail.

Plot: Very exciting! The main plot is clear, and there’s just enough subplot to make things really interesting. Mysterious secrets, epic battles on land and at sea, tons of high-speed action, and a healthy dose of hilarity will keep you on your toes throughout the novel.

Other: This book is one of the few historical fiction books that would make it onto my “favorites shelf”. Although it is actually historical fiction, as it is set on Earth, it has all the action, adventure, and variety of my favorite fantasy books. This is a must-read for anyone who likes adventure!

Overall Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Knight's Quest Part Three

Hello, all! I'm back once more, with part three of Knight's Quest! Ready? Read on! Not read parts one and two? Well, click here for part one and here for part two. 

Part Three
William and Walter left Castle Alitene and the city of Antuindia in the early morning, before anyone else was awake. They traveled West in the direction of Miran’s fortress for two days. They traveled carefully, but quickly, stopping only to eat and sleep, for they were crossing open plains. On the evening of the third day, they caught sight of a forest. “What forest is that?” wondered Sir William.
            “I probably knew at some point in my life,” said Sir Walter, “But right now I’m too tired to remember. Let’s make camp here and I’ll tell you in the morning.
            “Alright.” said Sir William, and they made camp. After they finished their dinner of bread and cheese, they crawled into their tents to get some rest. They were asleep before their heads hit the pillows.
            The next day, Sir William and Sir Walter awoke to a warm morning. They broke camp, after eating a breakfast of dried fruit and bread. They had ridden for ten minutes toward the forest before either spoke.
“Shaftwood.” said Sir Walter.
            “What did you say?” inquired Sir William.
“Shaftwood. That’s the name of the forest we’re approaching.” replied Walter.
            “Oh.” spoke William. “Isn’t that forest rumored to be haunted?”
            “Yeah,” answered Walter, “But that’s just an old legend. Besides,” he added nervously, looking behind him, “We have other things to worry about besides ghosts. Much more dangerous things.”
            “You mean Miran?” questioned William.
            “No.” replied Walter “I mean the scynths chasing us!”
            The two knights spurred their horses to a gallop, but the venom spitting, winged–snake like scynths were gaining on them! Suddenly, the scynths shot two streams of extremely poisonous and acidic saliva at the two knights. William and Walter ducked simultaneously, and the jets hit their horses, killing the poor beasts instantly. The two knights jumped off their horses and ran for the woods. They ran for about ten more feet once inside, then came to a roaring river. They were trapped!
            “What now?” shouted Walter, frantically.
            “I don’t know!” yelled back William, just as frantically. Suddenly a rope dropped in front of them. “Grab on!” a voice shouted. They did so, and were pulled up into a treetop city. They looked into the face of their rescuer and gasped.

What will happen now? Who had rescued William and Walter? Will William and Walter make it to Miran's fortress and rescue Princess Ariana, or have they just gotten out of the frying pan and into the fire? Check back Thursday to find out! While you wait, please comment and tell me what you think! I always welcome comments!

Update: Part Four is posted! Includes never-before-seen content! 

Monday, January 24, 2011

My Pictures: Door From the Past

This is one of my favorite HDR images. In case anyone doesn't know, HDR images are made by taking three to five pictures with different exposures and combining them in Photoshop or another such photo processing program. I call this picture "Door From the Past" because you're looking through an old doorway at today's world. It has won a second-place ribbon in the Claudemoore Park Photo Expo, and I've entered it in another contest that will take place Thursday. I'm hoping that it will do just as well, or better, there.

What do you think? Please comment and tell me what you think of this image!

Friday, January 21, 2011

This Week . . .

Hello, everyone! Today, as I had been planning on posting what I'd done this week and possibly what I've been thinking about a lot, I shall compile a list of some of the above.

  • My cd player has been driving me BONKERS! It, apparently, is so old that it won't play the music I like anymore, despite the fact that it's fine with one CD . . . that typically puts me to sleep. Granted, it could be worse, but it is very annoying to not be able to listen to TobyMac, Krystal Meyers, Lecrae, and my "writing background music." Perhaps this is why I haven't gotten much work done on my (hopeful) novella, Elden Tales #2. No, it isn't actually called that, but I have yet to give it a title, despite the fact that it is 50+ pages long. Luckily, I should be able to buy a new CD player this weekend, as long as I can get to Wal-mart or somewhere else of the sort.
  • There are no comments on my blog! I know that I can't expect that many comments, but I know that someone's read this, and I'd like feedback, especially on my writing and photography (which is coming)! Did you like it? Did you hate it? Do you think something needs changed? I know that at the moment, Knight's Quest isn't the most original idea in the world, and in a few spots it might be more than a little cliche, but I'd love your feedback anyway! Wow, I just rhymed there!
  • It is way too cold for my taste. In fact, it's freezing! Literally! It has barely gotten out of the thirties and low forties all week! Brr! A tropical island sounds really good right now . . .

So, that's my week. It's way later than I'd like, so I shall sign off now. Farewell!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Knight's Quest Part Two

Hello, all! Ready for more of Knight’s Quest? Well, if you are, you’re in luck, because I’m posting part two today! Are you new, and therefore haven’t read part one? If so, click here for part one. Then you can continue onto today’s part!

King Jonathan and his knights were enjoying a peaceful (and delicious) dinner. Suddenly, the doors of the dining hall burst open and one of the messenger-scouts ran in. Everyone looked up in surprise at seeing someone rush in like this. The man gasped for breath. “The prin-“he broke off, coughing. Sir Walter jumped up and gave the man some water. “What is it? What’s wrong?” he asked.
            The messenger gasped out “The Princess Ariana . . . she’s missing!”
            “What do you mean she is missing?” demanded King Jonathan. “She can’t be missing. I just checked her room ten minutes ago, before we sat down to dinner.”
            “I do not know how, m’lord.” said the messenger. “I only know that she is.” And with that, he fainted from exhaustion.
            Though King Jonathan and his knights tried to keep Princess Ariana’s disappearance quiet, they were not successful. The news was soon known throughout Antuindia, and it caused instant uproar throughout the city. No one had any clue about her mysterious disappearance – until Alexander, who was the Royal Librarian and Record Keeper, found something very interesting in one of his record books.
            “Your majesty,” began Alexander, who was presenting his information to King Jonathan, “Does the name ‘Miran’ mean anything to you?”
            “Miran? Isn’t that the name of that huge, mythological dragon who’s the villain in half the stories the bards around here tell?” replied King Jonathan.
             “Huge, yes; Villain, yes; Dragon, yes; but Mythological, no. He was one of your father’s greatest friends, and later, one of his greatest enemies. He was your father’s most trusted advisor, but when your father announced that you had been born and would be his heir, Miran turned treacherous. He tried to murder both you and your father, but was found out. Rather than face judgment, he ran away and established his own castle on the edge of the land. Everyone thought he was dead and gone about fifty years ago, but now it looks like he’s back.”
That night, King Jonathan gathered his knights, explained the situation, and asked them what they thought should be done. There was a loud clamor as knights shouted their ideas and argued with each other. Suddenly, King Jonathan slammed the butt of his scepter onto the stones of the hall floor. “QUIET!” he yelled. “Now,” he continued in a more reasonable tone, “We’ll hear from you one at a time, please. Sir Lewis, we’ll hear from you first.” An older knight with short salt and pepper hair and beard and sharp brown eyes stepped forward.
            “Your majesty,” he began, “it seems that Miran has us in a stalemate. We must rescue the princess, for she cannot be left in his clutches, but at the same time, we cannot attack Miran’s castle, for he has a great horde, and will likely kill most of us, and the princess if we attack. As for asking a knight to attempt this alone, it is by far too dangerous. I have nothing more to say.” And with that, Sir Lewis sat back down.
            Instantly, a hubbub arose from the crowd as they began shouting and arguing once more. And, once more, King Jonathan was forced to call for quiet. But this time, no one stood up to speak, for no one had any ideas.
But suddenly, a voice came from the depths of the crowd. “I will go.” it said. Everyone gasped. It was Sir William speaking! “I will go.” he repeated. “I ask that no one come with me except it be of their own free will. I will take only one, for this will be dangerous, and I will not risk the lives of more.” He thought back to his last quest, when a plan he had concocted, a plan for many young knights, had failed, and almost all of them had been killed. I cannot let that happen again!  he thought.
Silence. Then, another voice. “I will come with you, William.” It was Sir Walter. For once, his curly brown hair was not bouncing in silent laughter as he moved, and his brown eyes, which were usually laughing, were serious. Dead serious. “I can’t let you go alone, William,” he said. “You’ll need someone to watch your back.”
            “Very well.” replied William, and they both looked at King Jonathan, silently asking his permission.
King Jonathan thought for a moment, and then said “Yes. You may go. But be careful!”

What will happen to Princess Ariana? Will William and Walter be able to rescue her, or will Miran emerge victorious? You’ll find out soon, when the story continues in Part Three of Knight’s Quest! In the meantime, please comment! I’d love to hear what you think of my writing!

Update: For part three, click here

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Sword in the Stars Reveiw

Author: Wayne Thomas Batson
"Haunted by memories of a violent past, Alastair Coldhollow wagers his life on the hope that a sword will appear in the stars and the foretold Halfainin, the Pathwalker, would come. Meanwhile, tensions simmer between Anglinore and the murderous Gorrack Nation, threatening war on a cataclysmatic scale. The fate of all could rest on an abandoned child and the decisions of those who desperately seek to identify him." - Summary from the cover of The Sword in the Stars
Characters: Pretty good. The names were a little confusing, and I lost track of which characters where which in a few spots. Also, Mr. Batson accidentally resurrected a character in one spot. However, the different races were intriguing, and I’d like to learn more about them. Alastair is a little annoying in spots, but overall he is fairly likeable.

Location: Interesting, but a little confusing. I would’ve liked more details, and a map would’ve been greatly appreciated. Also, what exactly is the name of the world?

Plot: Complex. There are a lot more mini-plots, subplots, arguments, and whatnot than I’m used to noticing. However, the overall plot is very good, and the smaller stuff does not detract from it.

Other: I read this book and was startled and amazed to see the tie-ins with the Christmas story in the book.  I liked the “excerpts” from what I assume is classic literature or books of the history of this world. I would very much like to read some of these, since they sound very interesting. However, the flashbacks didn’t do much for me, and I found them a little confusing. I would like to see a sort of “field guide” to go with this series, similar in format to Eragons’s Guide to Algaesia by Christopher Paolini. I would appreciate a table of contents in the front as well.

Overall rating: 3/5      

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Knight's Quest Part One

Hello, everyone! It’s me, Sarah, with the first part of a tale! This is part of Knight’s Quest, otherwise known as The Story That Started It All, since writing this story was what really got me into writing, especially writing fantasy. So, without further ado, here is Knight’s Quest: Part One

Knight’s Quest
Our tale begins in a land far away, and many years ago. It is evening, and the castle inhabitants are excited, for the castle tale - teller has promised to speak tonight . . .
            Lady Aleta Dragondae, the warrior-bardess, walked swiftly though the castle passages. Her sword, a long rapier called ‘Light’ clanked against her side. She took her sword everywhere, for she was a Swordmaiden, or lady knight, though her tales were as ready as her sword. But, tonight, she was a bardess, or storyteller, and she was quite happy about it. She loved telling tales, and tonight, she had a special one planned. She arrived in the grand castle hall just after sunset. She took her seat on a wooden chair, the one she had specially requested be put there, and pushed her long, brown hair back from her face. Her long, rose colored gown that she was wearing over her lightweight chain mail rustled softly as she settled into a comfortable position. She looked at her hundreds of eager listeners and grinned. It seemed like everyone in the castle had come to hear her speak. So, she began.
“Sir William was the best knight in all the land, and was King Jonathan of Alitene’s champion knight. He had been on more quests and rescued more fair maidens than any of the other knights. He was handsome, smart, brave, and very gentlemanly. He was always polite and helpful to ladies, and he never hesitated to help others. So, whenever a quest came up that Sir William thought he could accomplish, he volunteered for it. Of course, the quests weren’t always things that he could do alone. So, sometimes Sir William would be part of a team. Whenever he could, he would bring along Sir Walter, who was his best friend, and any other young knights whose skills were well developed, but who were relatively unknown. That is, if they wanted to come. Sir William never forced anyone to come with him. However, there was rarely a person who didn’t want to come. Sir William was the most famous knight in the land. In fact, there was only one person, other than King Jonathan, who was as famous as Sir William. That was Princess Ariana.
            Princess Ariana was the only child of King Jonathan. She was smart, pretty, athletic, and one of the best sword handlers in the entire land of Alitene. Everyone in the land loved her, that is, everyone except the villains she had discovered making trouble and defeated. That made her a prime target for any enemies of King Jonathan who wanted to weaken him, and one enemy in particular. That was Miran, the evil, black dragon who wanted King Jonathan, his family, and all his knights and their families dead.
            Miran gazed out the window of his dark keep, scowling. He glared in the direction of one of the largest cities, Antuindia, the capitol city of Alitene, ruled by Jonathan, the king who had kept Miran off the throne for so long. But, Miran thought, he would overcome Jonathan, and rule the land, and he had a plan to do it. No one would stop him. No one.

        What is Miran’s plan? Will he succeed in taking the throne of Antuindia? To find out, check back Thursday, when I’ll post Part Two of this tale. Also, check back tomorrow for a review of Wayne Thomas Batson’s latest book, The Sword in the Stars.

Update: Click here for the part two of Knight's Quest! 

Monday, January 17, 2011


Hi, everyone! Welcome to my blog, Dreams and Dragons! I’m Sarah, an amateur writer and photographer. OK, enough about me. You’d probably rather hear about the blog. Well, this blog is about me, my life, writing, and pictures, and my Savior, Jesus Christ. I’ll post stories and parts of stories two or three times a week, and I’ll also post some of my pictures, updates on what I’ve been doing or thinking about, and reviews on books that I’ve read recently. I hope you continue reading, because I’ll be posting part of the Story That Started It All, Knight’s Quest, tomorrow! See you soon!