Friday, September 25, 2015

You Should Be Writing

We've all been there at one point or another: you've managed to find some free time among school and work and whatever else you have to do, you know you should write, and you maybe even have a decent idea of what happens next . . . but you just don't feel like picking up your pen right now. You're tired, after all. You've been working all day and you just want to flop on the internet and browse forums and blogs and Pinterest and whatever else until your free time runs out. Anyway, it's not like NaNoWriMo's on, right? It doesn't really matter if you don't write, does it?

It does.

Whether you're thinking of starting something new but aren't sure if you want to commit, you're stuck midway through and not sure what should happen next, or (like me) you're tired of slogging through the middle bits and feel like the exciting scenes are still miles away, picking up that pen and writing matters. Even if you're tired, even if you just write a page or a paragraph or a single sentence, it matters. And I'm going to tell you why.

You Should Be Writing

  1. Habits are hard to break. The more often you put off writing, the more likely you are to do that again and again and again and never actually do anything until you get a massive burst of inspiration. However, the reverse is also true: if you make a point of taking a few minutes when you have time to write even a paragraph, or start setting aside ten minutes a day to write a page or two, that becomes a habit as well. I speak from experience: I've spent most of the past year or so constantly in a "write X number of words a day Y days of the week" challenge, and I have gotten into the habit of writing every day, more or less. (Of course, I've also gotten into the habit of doing that writing in the ten minutes before I go to bed every night, but it's the words that count.)
  2. To paraphrase Sam Gamgee, it's the story never started (or worked on) as takes longest to finish. Yeah, stories take a long time to finish sometimes. I spend a lot of time wondering when, if ever, I'll finish my current WIP. But you'll never finish if you never write. After all:
  3. Writer's block may be defined as "when your imaginary friends won't talk to you," but they talk a lot more when you're listening. Or, in other words, making an effort to write. Yes, the opposite can also be true- sometimes the best way to get unstuck is to take a break and think about something else- but more often, at least for me, sitting down and muddling onwards is the better route, particularly if I've been using my stuck-ness as an excuse not to write. Another thing that sometimes helps my writer's block: having a chat with my characters about, well, nothing in particular. I like to do it within the story, finding an excuse to pop up somehow and confuse my characters to no end. But those less inclined to break the fourth wall could easily do it on a document outside the story.
  4. On that note, your characters will appreciate it. Theories vary about what happens to characters when an author stops writing their story. Most people say those characters just remain frozen in place . . . unpleasant enough, particularly if said characters are, say, trapped in a dungeon or lost in the wilderness or something like that. One wonderfully creative person, however, suggests that, when a writer abandons the story, it all goes to pieces for the characters- they're pretty much doomed. And is that a fate you want to wish on your poor characters?
  5. Finally, you were given this story for a reason. No one becomes a writer by accident. Nor does any writer get a story idea just by coincidence. Things happen for a reason in the stories we write; they happen for a reason in the story our Author is writing as well. So it's our responsibility not to give up on the gifts we've been given, not to stop when it gets tough- because the stories we write have a purpose, even when we don't have any clue what it might be and just think they're terrible messes of jumbled imaginings.
So, are you writing yet?

Do you have any writing encouragement you'd like to share? Please do so in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Monday, September 14, 2015

No Longer Home

Written on the way home from a weekend trip back to Virginia:

It’s strange coming back to a house no longer your home. At first, as you drive down familiar streets, you feel almost as if you’re returning from a long vacation. You pick out particular places as you pass: the turn to the library, the Safeway shopping center you’ve walked to many times, the swimming pool at the end of your street. The house comes into view just as you remember, except that the lawn and garden are overgrown and the two flags- one large American flag by the garage and a smaller garden flag in the dying flower patch- are nowhere to be seen. 

The garage door rumbles upward, and your van inches in, careful to avoid the close sides of the doorway. And here, in the garage, are the first reminders that you’re not really home. The shelves are empty of tools; the bikes no longer hang from the ceiling. Where the refrigerator was, an unused door leans against the wall. On the far side of the garage, a small American flag hangs in the place of your large one, like a child trying to take his missing father’s place. Only a can of paint and a few other miscellaneous items remain, abandoned by workers who slipped in while you were gone.

You walk up the three steps and into the house, and with one breath you know it’s changed. The air is sharp with the scents of fresh paint and new carpet. “Shoes off before you go on the carpet,” your parents order, as if you’re strangers in a house for sale. The whole place feels strangely new. The carpet is too soft beneath your feet, the newly-painted walls too white, as if you and your sister hadn’t spent twelve years of your lives growing up here. Nothing else looks as it should either. Some rooms seem achingly large when before they were just big enough; other rooms that once were comfortably cozy seem to have shrunk to half their size. Many seem the wrong color, though maybe that’s just because of the carpet and paint again. All the rooms, touched or untouched by workers, are echoing empty. Only the curtains limply hanging over windows and the tiny holes in the walls where pictures hung suggest you lived here at all.

The first re-exploration done, you and your family scrub and vacuum the house to rid it of all the paint and carpet fuzz left by workmen’s tramping feet. Before long, the citrus-bleach scent of cleaning supplies and the dusty odor of old vacuum cleaners cover up the paint and carpet smells, and the roar of the vacuum and the competing music in your headphones fill in the echoes. Yet you cannot forget that this is not your home, not anymore.


Saturday, September 12, 2015

Books I Need to Reread

As you may or may not know, I'm big into rereading books. Even if I already know what's happened, there's still the delight of rediscovering the story, of finding the hints I missed before, and of reconnecting with the characters. At one point, when I had a more limited to-be-read list, I'd make sure to read my favorite series at least once a year. As the number of new books I had to read increased, however, my time for rereading decreased, so at this point, some of the stories that I loved, I haven't touched in quite a while. I've been trying to remedy this, but there are still several books and series I haven't gotten to. And today, I thought I'd share some of my top need-to-reread series with you.

1. The Lord of the Rings and The Silimarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
As I mentioned, there was a time when I read The Lord of the Rings at least once a year (rarely more, though- even for the most enthusiastic reader, they're kind of long), but considering how much I love the trilogy, it's been an awfully long time since I've read it. I really do need to fix that soon- particularly now that I have a pretty new matching set. As for The Silimarillion, I've read it exactly once all the way through, and I skimmed a great deal of it. Now that I'm older- and, I hope, have more patience- I want to give it another try.
(Note: The above picture is not my "pretty matched set." My copies are decidedly less fancy, rare, and expensive. Though that doesn't stop them from having super pretty covers and being a very comfortable size for reading. The above image is the product of asking Google Images for a picture of LOTR and The Silimarillion together.)

2. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
I used to like this book very much indeed, but after a well-meaning parent used it to turn a book club into a lesson in story structure, I didn't touch it again for, well, longer than I should've. I wish I'd let go of that memory sooner, but better late than never. Admittedly, I did listen to the Focus on the Family radio drama in the car last weekend, but it was so abridged that I felt like all my favorite parts had been cut short, or else left out entirely. All the more reason to reread the book sometime soon!

3. The Circle Trilogy by Ted Dekker
I read this series for the first time about five years ago and obsessed over it for several months- during which I also explored several of Ted Dekker's other books, none of which I liked quite as much and some of which freaked me out a lot. I've read the trilogy once or twice since then, but not recently. I'd like to reread it sometime soon, now that I'm older and have a different, hopefully more mature, perspective on it.
4. Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand
Cyrano is my favorite book (well, play) that I've had to read for literature, and it's also one of my favorite classics. I haven't gotten around to reading it since the year I had it in school, since my copy is in the back of that year's literature book. However, my sister is going to be reading it for her literature this year . . . which means I'd better reread it so I can join in her discussions! (I'll join in the discussion whether or not I've read the book, probably, if I get a chance- but at least that way I'll remember better what I'm talking about.)

5. The Wilderking Trilogy by Jonathan Rodgers
This is a short little trio of books, a fantasy version of the Biblical story of David. I read them perhaps four years ago, but haven't reread them more than once or twice since then. I'd love to rediscover them, though; they were some of the more unique books I've read. Unfortunately, my new library only has the first one . . . I am very much not happy. Hopefully, my old library has an online version I can borrow . . .

6. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis.
I have a confession to make: I haven't read The Chronicles of Narnia all the way through in quite a long time, despite how much I love the series. I've read single books now and then, and listened to some of the audio dramas either on trips or while knitting, but not the whole series. Obviously, that needs to change.

7. The Echoes From the Edge trilogy by Bryan Davis.
At one point, this was my favorite Bryan Davis series- it even beat out Dragons in Our Midst, which was an impressive feat. Is it still my favorite? I'm not sure- which is one reason I need to reread it, so I can find out. Also, it's a pretty awesome trilogy (I'm certain of that), and I haven't read it in a few years.

8. The Space Trilogy by C.S. Lewis.
I read these books the summer after I read The Silimarillion, I think- it's been a while. I'm sorry to say I really didn't appreciate them at the time. Out of the Silent Planet I liked well enough, true, but Perelandra seemed a bit odd, and by the time I got midway through That Hideous Strength, I was struggling. I'm fairly certain the main reason I finished was I thought "It's C.S. Lewis, and therefore I ought to like this." Recently, however, I've met enough people who really like the Space Trilogy that I feel I ought to reread it.

9. The Princess and the Goblin and The Princess and Curdie by George Macdonald.I loved these two books when I was younger, but sadly, they were some of the first to get lost in my new-book flood. Recently, however, I've been seized with occasional urges to reread them . . . which I've utterly failed to act upon. I do want to fix that, though, because they, like Narnia, are the sort of books that are always worth rereading.

Do you like rereading books? If you do, are there any books you need to reread? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Water Princess, Fire Prince: Author Interview

Hello, everyone! I hope everyone had fun at the Facebook party the other day- I, unfortunately, couldn't join in, since I don't have Facebook. Anyway, this is my final appearance on the Water Princess, Fire Prince blog tour- though it'll continue for the next two days on other blogs. Today, I get to interview Kendra, which was super fun. But first, of course, a little about the book and author . . . because, you know, you haven't seen it enough times in the last few days.

About Water Princess, Fire Prince:
When the Lady Dragon does come,
Hold fast, do not fear, do not run.
Your Water Princess will fight,
Fire Prince will set all to right.
Each shall come from a Fall,
Their union will save you all.

Despite the fact that she's on track for competing in the Olympics, and he's practically raised his younger brothers since they lost their mom in a car accident, Clara Mandras and Andrew Stevenson are pretty much normal teens. They have normal hopes, normal dreams, and they live in a normal world.

All this is torn away from them when they are thrust into another world and declared Water Princess and Fire Prince. With no experience ruling a country, meeting each other for the first time, and being expected to fight the Lady Dragon – an evil sorceress plaguing the world of Rizkaland – Clara and Andrew are underprepared and inexperienced. Unless they learn to work together despite their standing opposition, Rizkaland's hope will be lost.

What is to come will change their lives forever.


About the Author:

Kendra E. Ardnek loves fairy tales and twisting them in new and exciting ways.  She's been practicing her skills on her dozen plus cousins and siblings for years, "Finish your story, Kendra", is frequently heard at family gatherings.  Her sole life goal has always been to grow up and be an author of fantasy and children's tales that also glorify God and his Word. You can read more about her on her blog,

And now, what you've been waiting for: the actual interview!

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, like your hobbies, how you got into writing, your favorite books (besides your own), or just anything else you’d like to share?

Greetings and salutations! I’m Kendra E. Ardnek, lover of palindromes, eldest of four, homeschooled my whole life, maker of the best spaghetti and popcorn in the world. I started writing because my mom told me that was what people did with the stories in their heads, and my favorite books are C. S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy. I also knit and crochet when I get into the mood.

What was the best part of writing Water Princess, Fire Prince? The hardest part?

The best part of writing Water Princess, Fire Prince was watching it come together.  Seeing the characters come to life with so much wit and emotion, seeing the plot unfold as personalities clashed and wars were fought, and seeing the world itself rise from the nethersphere of my brain. It was so pretty.

The hardest part though? When I had writer’s block and I’d just ignore it for a few months or years. Yeah. It’s been a seven-year project for a reason. I mean, I loved the characters, and world, and it was ALWAYS on my mind, but there were a few points when writing the first draft that I’d hit a brick wall and just not know how to move on.

What’s your favorite scene in the book?

Oh. This question again. You do realize this book was huge, with nearly fifty chapters? Lots of scenes?

But I guess, if you’re going to make me choose, today I’ll go with Clara and Andrew’s first kiss. That was a fun scene to write both times.

It's a fun scene to read too. Now, on your blog, you’ve mentioned that Water Princess, Fire Prince was greatly inspired by The Chronicles of Narnia. Are there other books, movies, or such that influenced it as well?

It’s more the series itself that was inspired by Narnia, as in, they might not exist if I hadn’t decided to write a better movie for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

However, some other books and such that influenced Rizkaland include Oz, Middle Earth, Doctor Who, a unfinished book I found in my mom’s computer documents one day, The Blood of Kings Trilogy by Jill Williamson, The Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins, and perhaps a bit from Avatar: The Last Airbender. Oh, and Magic School Bus.

Wow, that's quite the list! Do you get writer’s block often? If or when you did, how did you deal with it?

Writer’s block is the reason this book wasn’t out a few years ago. Um, dealing with it … my methods usually involve ignoring the problem and hoping inspiration will come to me. In the meantime, I work on other books, take long walks, wash the dishes, realize that my room is in SERIOUS need of being cleaned (which … it is), read a book, play a computer game (I’m slightly addicted to old-style RPG’s and Hidden Object Adventures), try to reinvent the wheel …

Eventually, guilt or inspiration will drive me back to the story, but it sometimes takes a while.

If you could spend one day with one of your characters in one location in your book, which character and which location would you choose?

Ooh, it’s a tough call between exploring the secret passageways in the Upper Klarand’s castle with Jakob, because I didn’t get to explore them enough in the book, or just relaxing in Lower Klarand’s royal library with the Fire Prince, because Rizkaland science is awesome.

Those both sound like awesome people and places to visit. Mind if I join you? Just kidding. Anyway, do you snack while you’re writing? If so, what are some of your favorite writing foods?

Not often. Sometimes I have popcorn, and I usually have water at hand, but I don’t like to have food to distract me while I write.

If you were called to Klarand like the Ten or Clara and Andrew were, how would you feel about it? Also, what do you think your gift would be?

I … have been called to Rizkaland. I go there all the time, as it is my duty to translate Rizkaland’s Legends so that we of earth might understand that, and in order to do that, I must understand Rizkaland.

I’m known as the Translator, or the Arista, to those who know of me there.

Having been one of your beta readers, I know that Clara and Andrew are a super cute couple. Was their relationship easy to write? What were some of the challenges?

They were fairly easy to write, as their personalities bounced off each other excellently. I did have some issues with Clara’s breaking point in the relationship, as it refused to get written in the first draft. However, the biggest challenge was setting them back to square one in the second draft. After seeing how adorable they were together, it was literally painful to have them squabbling again.

Do you have any advice for other writers out there?

Study the craft, but don’t spend so much time studying that you forget to write. Perfect writing can only be achieved through lots of imperfect writing. And don’t be afraid to share your work, but also be willing to take critical advice when it is given.

And edits aren’t the end of the world. In fact, they’re what makes the world go ‘round.

Awesome! Thanks for the interview, Kendra!
I hope you all enjoyed that as much as I did! As always, don't forget to stop by the rest of the blogs on the tour to check out their posts! Also, today is the last day for free books- get them while you can!
 Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)  

Tour Schedule:
August 31st
Here: Introductory Post
Overactive Imagination - Jakob
Flights from the Aerie - Me
Elvish Pens, Fantastical Writings - Me
Shire Reviews
Scattered Journal Pages
A Heart Redeemed

September 1st
Here: Book 2 Title Reveal
Blogs Also Revealing:
Flights from Aerie
Morgan Elizabeth Huneke
Lianne Taimenlore
Dolls, Books, and Things that Matter
Writing in the Light
Jaye L. Knight
Written Rest
Read, Write, Laugh, DANCE
Dreams and Dragons - Laura
The Rambling Rose - Jasmine
Book Crazy Lady - review and interview

September 2nd

Here: Books and Such that have Influenced WPFP
Scattered Journal Pages - Clara
Read, Write, Laugh, DANCE - Me
Writing in the Light - Me
Anything, Everything
Written Rest

September 3rd
My Blog: Ships I Ship Because of this Book
Flights from the Aerie - Andrew
Written Rest - Kiona
Lianne Taimenlore - me
A Writer's Heart
Dreams and Dragons
Kedurah's Korner - Review and Interview
Facebook Party!!! (RSPV Now!)

September 4th
Here: The Initiation
Morgan Elizabeth Huneke - Amber
The Splendor Falls on Castle Walls - Jill Anna
A Heart Redeemed - Me
Jaye L. Knight - Me
Dolls, Books, and Things That Matter
Sutori no Hana
Overactive Imagination - Group review with the Blogger's Younger sisters!

September 5th
Here: Looking Back - A Writing Journey
Dolls, Books, and Things that Matter - Abraham
Dreams and Dragons - Me
writinganyone - Me
Lianne Taimenlore
Flights from Aerie - Dual Review with the Blogger's Younger Brother!
Elvish Pens, Fantastical Writings.

September 7th
Tour Wrap-Up at My Blog!

Free Books!

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31st ONLY:

My Kingdom for a Quest:

1st – 5th: