Tuesday, October 30, 2012

NaNoWriMo Excitement and Other News

Hello, everyone! It's almost Halloween, and guess what that means? It's nearly time for . . .

Yep. that's right. NaNoWriMo, otherwise known as "30 days and nights of literary abandon", otherwise known as "one of the two months in the year where Sarah goes slightly crazy with excitement and it's actually a good thing". (The other month, if anyone was wondering, is July, which is Camp NaNoWriMo.) Believe it or not, I'm more excited about NaNoWriMo than I usually am about Christmas or my birthday. (Ok, maybe not Christmas. The excitement there is probably about equal. But I'm definitely more excited about it than I am about my birthday, which happens to be drawing near.)

This year, of course, I'm about four times as excited about it than I was last year. Why? Here are the reasons:
♥ My plot and characters. I've wanted to write this plot for several months now, and my characters are some of my favorites I've ever created. This is my plot for this year:
Emma Alyron isn't fond of the danger and adventure so many of her siblings seem to relish. That's why she and her mother moved away from Alyron Village and to Port Metre in Beylend so many years ago. Now, with her mother dead, Emma is alone, friendless, and defenseless. She doesn't mind too much- at least she's safe . . . for now.

Meanwhile, Emma's ne'er-do-well brother, Jared, is in trouble once more. Having run up more debts than he can pay, he's fled from his creditors and headed straight to Port Metre, where he hopes his luck will change for the better. It seems to have when he runs into Emma and falls in with a group called the Circle of Eight, but soon he begins to wonder if he's jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire.

To make matters worse, Gwen Alyron and the Firhirt siblings are on their way south, in search of another Alyron brother, Jake. They too run into Emma, much to the consternation of both Emma and Gwen, neither of whom is very fond of the other. Gwen and the Firhirts' search is cut short, however, when friends arrive with news of a terrible emergency. Thanks to Jared, Emma knows a secret that could be the key to solving the emergency, but will she share it and not only help Gwen, but become permanently entangled in what she's been running from for so long? And that's not her only secret . . . will she risk everything for this? Find out in Secrets and Searches, the third book in Leilani Sunblade's Berstru Tales series.
 For the record, "Leilani Sunblade" is my username on two forums: The Underground (which I'll be talking about again later) and the NaNoWriMo YWP (young writer's program) forum. 
♥ As I think I've mentioned, I'm doing it on the official site this year. Basically that means that I have a place where I can get help from other NaNoWriMo participants when I get stuck. And if I get my novel finished and edited in time, I have the opportunity to get five free copies of it.
♥ One of my favorite authors, Wayne Thomas Batson, is also doing NaNoWriMo! Even better, the book he'll be writing is Dark Sea Annals #3! For those who don't know, the Dark Sea Annals series is pretty much my favorite Wayne Thomas Batson series of all time. Book 2 in the series, The Errant King, also has the double honor of being my favorite book by Batson, as well as having one of the most awesome covers I've ever seen. So, you can imagine how excited I was when I learned about this! (This paragraph was actually two reasons for why I'm quadruply excited for NaNoWriMo this year, by the way.)

In other, non-NaNoWriMo-related news, I recently received the honor of being chosen as a Sentinel (moderator) on The Underground, one of the three forums I'm on. The Underground is a forum based on The Berinfell Prophecies, one of my favorite series. Needless to say, I'm pretty happy about it, and I enjoy being able to help on the site. The other moderators are all quite busy and don't have as much time as they used to, which is part of why they were looking for a new Sentinel.

Editing my Camp NaNoWriMo novel is going well. I hit the 2/3 mark this morning, which I'm happy about. Since the last third of the novel is probably my favorite part, I'm hoping it'll go a little faster than before. Of course, I won't get it done by NaNoWriMo, but I'm hoping I'll be close enough to being done that I won't have much to edit after November and I'll be able to start editing my NaNoWriMo novel soon after finishing it.

Finally, I watched Ever After last night with my family. I enjoyed it, though I like the Narnia and Lord of the Rings movies better. I'd probably put it about on par with The Princess Bride. I'm hoping that we'll have time to watch another movie on Saturday, preferably one of the longer ones that we were going to watch last night but didn't because didn't have time.

Well, that's about it. Thanks for stopping by!
- Sarah

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Terrible Shriek of Princess Carrie du Kaye

Once, long ago, in a land far away
There was a fair princess called Carrie du Kaye
It cannot be denied that she was quite good
At doing the things all princesses should-
Like dancing and sewing and being polite
(Even to people she didn’t quite like)
And playing the lute and singing so sweet
And keeping clothes and hair so nice and neat.
But one thing about this princess just must be said:
When it came to a fuss, she could not keep her head!
At the mere sight of blood she’d faint dead away.
(Once she didn’t wake up for a night and a day!)
And if the smallest of bees should be flying around,
She’d scream and she’d cry until all heard the sound.
So, knowing this knowledge, it’s no wonder, you see,
That when one day a dragon dropped by at tea
And carried her off, away through the sky,
Princess Carrie du Kaye let out a great cry.
So very loud and long was her shout on that day
That it scared every bird so they flew far away.
They flew with the insects ‘til they couldn’t hear Carrie’s cry.
But the poor dragon was wondering why
He’d had to pick this fair maiden to snatch-
Surely there were quieter girls he could catch!
Her scream just went on, and for a half-hour he endured
Carrie’s carrying-on, with nary a word.
Then, finally, he thought to himself,
“It’s certainly not worth, it not if she were an elf!”
(Every dragon knows in these parts
That catching an elf is a sign of great smarts.)
“She’s far too loud; I can’t hear myself think,”
This he decided in the space of a wink.
So he turned back around just like that
And took Princess Carrie home in ten minutes flat!
And not even once did he e’er darken her door-
Nor any dragon, forevermore!
So that is the story of how and of why,
Princess Carrie du Kaye, with her terrified cry,
Forced a great dragon to take her home
And, furthermore, to leave her alone.
The moral of the tale: if by dragon you’re caught,
Give Princess Carrie’s tale a short thought
And scream long and loud so the dragon can hear
And hope that your screaming will very much hurt his ears!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Speak Life

Hello, everyone! I'm back, with a new story! This one's called "Speak Life", and it's inspired by the new TobyMac song of the same name. (If you haven't heard the song yet, I advise that you try to listen to it soon. It's a great song.) Anyway, enjoy!       

     Erica woke to darkness so pitch-black she could feel it. It felt like spiderwebs on her skin, tickling and sticky. This, for some reason, thoroughly annoyed her.
      Her annoyance was immediately followed by a half-dozen questions. Where am I? Am I dead, or am I still alive? What am I doing here? Are there others here? Why is it so dark? Most pressing of all was the last question she thought of. And who am I anyway?
      The realization that she couldn’t remember anything except her name was accompanied the cold pinpricks of fear. Erica tried to shrug the fear away, but the question remained: where was she? Who was she? This bothered her even more than the darkness. She had a life, didn’t she? Or she’d had one, if she was dead. She should be able to remember it.
      Erica took a deep breath, and was pleased to find that breathing still seemed to work. She pushed herself to a sitting position, and felt her hands press against cold, rough stone, like the floor of some medieval dungeon. Then, just to make sure she could, she called out, “Where am I?” to the darkness. As she spoke, a grey glow formed in front of her face for a moment like frosty breath on a midwinter morning. The glow quickly disappeared, fading into the pressing blackness.
      Erica frowned. This is odd. Even without her memories, she felt sure of that fact. She tried again. “Anyone else here? Hello?” Another glow, this one a bit larger than the first, though it lingered no longer. Erica frowned. “Come on! If there’s anyone out there, I just want to know where I am!”
      A sigh came from somewhere in the blackness. “Very well.” The words appeared as a pale blue swirl that floated into the darkness some distance before disappearing. “Give us some light!”
      What happened was not so much light breaking away the darkness as it was the darkness growing transparent enough in one spot that Erica could see. About ten feet away, three people sat: a sleeping boy no older than six, an old man seated on a stool with his back against a stone wall, and a young woman a few years older than Erica herself. They were quite obviously family, perhaps a grandfather and his grandchildren.
      Erica, however, cared not for this. She could see someone else, and that someone else seemed to know something about where they were, and that was all that mattered. “Who are you? What is this place? Where is this place?” Instead of forming a cloud, her words appeared like tiny fireflies that zoomed away and circled the young woman’s head before disappearing.
      The young woman sighed again. “I am Emraldra. This is my brother, Lukas, and my grandfather, Markus Key. We are three of those who have wandered into this place and cannot find our way out. As for what and where this place is, we cannot tell you.”
      Erica frowned. “What do you mean, you can’t tell me?”
      “I mean what I said.” Emraldra raised her hands in a gesture of helplessness. “We cannot tell you, for we do not know. It appears as a castle, but if it is a castle, it is impossibly large. I have walked for a week without reaching the other side of it. I cannot tell you where it is, for I do not believe it is anywhere.”
      Erica crossed her arms. “It has to be somewhere, and it has to have an end. Nothing is infinite, and everything has to have a location.”
      “Then perhaps this is nothing.” Emraldra shrugged. “I have told you what I know. I can tell you no more.”
      Something inside Erica suddenly snapped. “You really aren’t very smart, are you,” she spat. “You live here. I’m willing to bet that people you know have died here. And you don’t know where you are. What kind of idiot are you?”
      Each of Erica’s words appeared as a fiery ball before her lips. They flew towards Emraldra like arrows from a bow, striking against her and exploding like tiny fireworks. With every word that struck her, a wound appeared on Emraldra’s arms, back, or face as if someone had struck at her with a knife, or perhaps with a whip. She bore it without a sound, though her face contorted with pain.
      Erica didn’t even notice until she’d finished her tirade. Then and only then did she see Emraldra leaning against the wall, blood oozing from her cuts. Erica’s eyes widened. “What- What happened? Who did that to you?”
      The old man glared at Erica as he stiffly rose from his stool. “Who did that to her?” he growled. “You did that to her, fool girl. And don’t you dare do it again. Emra never did anything to you. She’s too sweet-hearted to. She tried to help you, even. And you hurt her for it. You’re lucky, fool girl. Lucky I don’t have the breath anymore to give you twice what you gave her. Don’t you know that if you speak hate, you speak hurt?”
      Now it was Erica’s turn to be on the receiving end of those fiery balls. Again and again, pain rippled across her arms or back. The darkness grew solid again as she crumpled to the ground. She curled up in a ball, hoping to protect herself from most of the strikes, but by then they had stopped. “I didn’t mean anything,” she whispered. “I just wanted to get out of here. Can’t someone tell me how to get out of here?”
      Erica had spoken so softly she could barely even hear herself. She didn’t expect anyone else to hear her, and so didn’t expect an answer. She didn’t hear one either. But something from the old man’s torrent of angry words had stuck in her mind. If you speak hate, you speak hurt. Speak hate, speak hurt.
      Abruptly, Erica realized what had happened. Words are more than words here. No. That’s not right. They’re still just words. But you can see what they do here. That’s what happened. I yelled at her. And instead of the effects staying inside like they should, the hurt showed on the surface.
      And if that was true, the opposite should be true. If words brought pain and darkness, couldn’t they bring healing and light too? But how do you heal with words? Then, suddenly, Erica realized the answer. She didn’t know how she knew it. She just did. And she knew what she needed to do.
      She pushed herself into a sitting position, doing her best to ignore the lightning-bolts of pain that shot through her. “I’m sorry,” she called into the darkness. Her words formed a stream of golden vapor that floated away and disappeared. “Emraldra, Mr. Key, even Lukas if you know what happened, I’m sorry. I didn’t know-” She stopped herself. “No. I did know. That was why I said them. But I shouldn’t have. I realize that now. Mr. Key, you’re right. I had no reason to yell at Emraldra. No excuse for saying what I did. I deserved every word you threw back at me.” She swallowed hard. “I hope you’ll accept my apology. And maybe, even though I don’t deserve it, you can forgive me.”
      Five minutes of silence passed. Then ten. Erica wondered if her words had been heard by anyone. Maybe they hadn’t. Maybe Emraldra and her family had left. Then, suddenly, Erica heard Emraldra’s voice. “I forgive you.”
      The words appeared in the form of a golden glow that flowed towards and around Erica before disappearing. The pain from the word-induced wounds eased. And Emraldra’s voice came again. “I forgive you. How could I not? I have made the same mistake many times. And I have been forgiven to it. I cannot withhold the same mercy from you.” Her voice grew soft. “Speak love, speak life. Speak life, speak light. Speak hate, speak hurt. Speak hurt, speak darkness. We all have to learn it. And yet, it seems, if we do learn it, we always seem to forget when we most need to remember.”
      As Emraldra spoke, the darkness finally lifted. Erica could see her surroundings now: grey stone walls and floors, extending twenty feet in each direction before coming to a wall. In each wall was a door, and directly across from Erica, behind Emraldra and her family, was a stone staircase. She could see Emraldra, her wounds healed but scars remaining. Erica knew that she had been healed as well. Hurt or heal. Death or life. Funny what words can do.
      Erica stood up and shook herself. Slowly, she crossed the empty space between herself and Emraldra. She extended her hand to the older girl. And, smiling, she said, “Let’s find a way out of here.”
      Her words glowed golden.

In other news, I will be doing NaNoWriMo next month. For those of you who don't know, NaNoWriMo is a challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in a month. It takes place every November, and there's a summer version called Camp NaNoWriMo. I'm very excited, both because I'm using a plotline I've been wanting to write for a while and because I got permission to do it officially this year. (There's an actual site for it where you can sign up, upload your word count, and get free copies if your book if you "win", aka meet your goal.) Also, I applied to be a writer for The Scribe Magazine,a teen creative writing magazine. Anyway, that's about it. Thanks for stopping by!
- Sarah

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Mercy Song

Hello! I'm back again! Today I'm posting another poem, this one inspired by about ten of Bryan Davis's books: the Dragons in Our Midst, Oracles of Fire, and Children of the Bard series. (That's two finished series of four books and one unfinished series of two books, if anyone was wonder. They're all awesome, all favorite books.) I'd been working my way through rereading these for about ten days and had just finished the last when I decided to write a poem in the style of the poems found in Davis's books. Anyway, here it is:

When Adam fell to Satan’s lies,
His act brought on a curse
That spread throughout the song of life,
Corrupting every verse.

Now mankind wears the stains of sin,
The marks of every wrong.
And from his lips, no holy hymn;
He spews a darkened song.

The Creator sings his love for us,
Despite the stains we wear,
He wishes us to dwell with him,
His presence still to share.

But Satan shouts a Chaos Song,
Of pleasures of the flesh,
Everywhere we turn, ‘tis there,
Tempting us afresh.

Most just hear the Chaos Song,
But some desire more.
Following God’s song of love,
They come to the holy door.

But perfect God and red sin stains
Must always stay apart.
And how can mankind dwell with God
If the curse is in his heart?

Oh, who can wash these bloody stains
Into the purest white?
Who can turn a lowly squire
Into a holy knight?

Only one can wash the stains
And right what’s been made wrong.
Through His death, Jesus broke the curse;
Now He sings the Mercy Song.

To those who do believe,
New life He gives away.
All we have to do is ask;
He’ll give it any day.

Jesus turns the red to white
And washes all the stains.
He raises up a holy knight
Who sings a hymn of praise.

Oh, will you heed the Mercy Song
That flows down from above?
The choice is yours, to scorn or take
This holy gift of love.

And the Chaos Song that Satan spews
Falls lower every day
A soul does choose the Mercy Song
And follows Jesus’ way.

What do you think? I hope you like it! Thanks for stopping by!
- Sarah