Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Updates, Plans, and Things



All right. My Kingdom For a Quest will be publishing in just two and a half weeks. I've received feedback from all of my editors save one, and she's IRL. I only have four chapters left to read through with my Mom, and I should be able to get to them within the next few days.

I've fixed the formatting issues that were in the proof copy, which brought the page count to 137, as apposed to the former 115. It's still a bit shorter than Sew, but since by word count, it's longer, I don't care.

I'm still open to more participants in the Blog Tour. I have at least two stops per day across 13 blogs as it stands right now, but if anyone else would like to have me, I'd appreciate it. I'm especially looking for reviewers.

However, since I recognize that this is the third book of the series, and very dependent on the two previous books, and some of my readers haven't one or both of the first two books, I'm going to open the reviewing options to include Sew and Take. If you have read one or the other and you'd like to do a review during the tour, let me know which day via email (you can see the schedule here to see which days I'd need it.) Or, if you haven't read them, let me know and I'll send you a PDF of Sew, and you can, again, let me know which day you'd like to post the review.

Also, and I believe I've mentioned this before, but I've set up a goodreads group for Bookania, where you guys can gather and discuss the books, characters, whathaveyou. Last night I added two more topics - one for the discussion of My Kingdom for a Quest and one for casting choices if a movie were to ever get made.

However, currently, most of the topics have just me and that's all. Could one or two of you guys please, pretty please, just go through and comment on them? It's a bit embarrassing, as an author, to be the only one talking about my books. I've even given you guys some starter stuff - I'd like to include Q&A's with the various characters here on my blog, and I'd like the questions to be asked there. (Though if you don't have a Goodreads account, I'd accept them here or in an email).

Also, you guys need a name, don't you think? Fans of Ilyon are calling themselves the Resistance. Anne Elizabeth Stengl has her Goldstone Imps. And you can't forget the classic Whovians, the Demigods, and the Tributes.

What do you Bookania fans wish to be called? I'll let you guys discus this in the comments below.

Also, speaking of the tour, I have almost all of the interviews filled out, and though I haven't started any of the guest posts, they're all topics that should be easily written. I'm also planning/hoping to include two "Which character are you?" quizzes during the tour, one for the princesses, and one for princes.

And ...

Onward to Rizkaland stuff.

I've begun my personal edits for the book, and I've sent part 2 to a young man who was in the boy scouts for about as long as he could be so he could make sure I handled my boys correctly. I'm going to send out edits one part at a time, so it's not overwhelming, and I'm hoping to have part 1 ready to hand out by the end of February.

And, on one more note, I read an article/watched a video the other day that has completely changed my view on archery, and I plan to incorporate this new knowledge into my edits.

Check it out here.

'Twa!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

My Kingdom for a Name

I realized the other day that despite the fact that it's a topic that means a lot to me, and there are some interesting stories, I've never told you the reasoning behind the names of most of my Bookanian characters. So since My Kingdom for a Quest is publishing in less than three weeks (scary thought there!) I thought I'd share today.

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Robin: I've mentioned before that Robin came with her name. Actually ... that's not quite true. It took me a few minutes to settle on the perfect name. You see, at the time of her creation, she was going to be of a lower class and an only child (or at least a singleton birth). I chose Robin for her name because her father was going to try to cover the Fairy Godmother's mistake by trying to raise her as a boy, and thus chose a name that could go either way. That plot point changed, but the name stuck.

Readers of Take know that her middle name's Marcia. That was something that took a bit more deliberation, but I chose it because it means "Swordmaiden" or something similar.

Robert: The obvious choice for the twin of a girl named Robin. Despite this, I originally tried to name him Rednal. Part of this was the fact that I had just read a book with a unicorn named Rednal, and I liked the name, but another factor is the fact that I have a cousin (or two) by that name, as well as another character in book 2 of the Rizkaland's, who is also a multiple (twin brother to Reuben), and had a similar personality to Robin's twin brother.

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However, after a discussion with mom about this, logic won out, so I now have two characters named Robert. His middle name (which I can't call off the top of my head at the moment) doesn't have any meaning. I just wanted something that would go with Marcia.

Rosamond: Another intuitive one, since Rosamond is the name of the Sleeping Beauty in the Grimm's version of the tale. At the time, that was all I was going to use, but as I plotted, I decided I wanted to work in all the variations of of Sleeping Beauty's name. She goes by Briar Rose in some versions, so I decided that her first name would be Briarra to allow for it as a nickname. To acknowledge the ballet and Disney, I gave her Aurora for the last of her names ... but Briarra Rosamond Aurora didn't feel right to me, so I added one more name: Fiona.

I liked Fiona as her third name. It flowed well. It's one of my favorite girl's names (I have three others). In fact, I wrote the entire first draft with it as her third name. But as I started editing, I remembered another, older version of the Sleeping Beauty tale, a rather weird one called "Sun, Moon, and Talia," and I decided to reference it as well, so Rose's third name became Talia. (This also meant changing the name of Robin and Robert's great-aunt. She was originally Fiona as well.)

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Eric: It took me forever to settle on a name for this young man. As Sleeping Beauty's Prince, I knew he needed an awesome one, but (confession time here) I'm not that great with boy's names. One name that stuck out to me, but I didn't care that much for, was Henry, which, had I been plotting the story now, I might have gone ahead and used, since my current history headcannon is that Henry the Second was the prince of the fairy tale.

However, at the time, I hadn't stumbled on that bit of history, and I didn't care for the name at the time. So I brought the problem to my mom who said I should chose a name that was manly, and that sort of thing, and we settled on Araclee, based on the name Hercules.

Fast forward a few weeks and we were talking about the book again, and this time she declared the name stupid and we broke the name into Eric Lee, which I was reluctant to do because I already had a character named Erik in Rizkaland. (And yes, it is awkward to switch between the spellings when I switch between the books.)

I really like his middle name being Lee, however. It's an important name on my Mom's side of the family, and I have cousins, uncles, aunts, even my grandfather have some version of it as at least their middle name.

Also my mom has a blogger friend named Marcia-Leigh, who named her daughter after me. (*cough, cough* actually, she'd been considering the name Kendra, but wasn't sure about it, but then received an email from my mom, which contained my name, and decided it was a sign of God that she should.) I consider the fact that Robin's middle name is Marcia, and Eric's is Lee to be my return of the favor.

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Madeleine: If I remember right, I named Madeleine before I named her brother. I'm not entirely certain what were all of the factors in the decision, but it included the fact that I was a huge fan of Madeline as a kid (I collected the dolls). The decision to make it Madeleine was influenced by the fact that my friend (the one who helped create Rizkaland and whose dad inspired the Eaglewings of the Rowa), would chose to be Queen Madeleine of Fance whenever we did our game where we pretended we were kings and queens of various countries (the current version of this game is League of Royals.) Madeleine isn't French in Bookania, but it's a name I love, and she's a character I love.

Maximilian: I don't remember why I chose his name at all, beyond the fact that it went well with Madeleine.

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Samson and Shira: When I first decided to create a second set of mixed up twins from before the Change, I knew I needed to give them names ... so I chose Samuel and Samantha. I really liked these names, but as I worked with them in plotting (trying to find a gift for Samuel - I knew immediately that she would get strength, but I wasn't so certain for him, for a while I tried to give him Beauty) I decided that they weren't the right names, and I wanted some that reflected their gifts better. So I consulted my baby name dictionary (I own two of them, and have a third at easy access), and decided to change them to Vernon (which means springlike) and Valarie (which meant strength). Except that then I finally settled on song for his gift, and I wasn't loving these names either. So I consulted my dictionary again, and discovered the name Shiri, which had the spin-off Shira, meaning "song," and I fell in love. Consulting the S section of the boy's half, I couldn't find any that meant strength, but there was Samson, which had that connotation, and I was sold.

Vernon: However, I was reluctant to cast the name Vernon to the side, since it's my grandfather's name, and I'm rather fond of it. So I created a younger brother for them and gave it to him, as well as the gift mechanical genius since my Grandfather's a mechanic. Thanks to a scolding from Shira, he's the only character, other than Rosamond, from before the Change who has his full name official.

Kimberly: I had a best friend by this name when I was five. I like the name. What can I say? (Though now that I bring this up, I'm reminded that since Shira's name-change, I don't have a single Samantha anywhere in my writing, and I had a best friend by that name, too. I also have a shirttail cousin by that name.)

Cancaline: I stole her from the fairy tale The Little Good Mouse (Or, the Jolly King's Daughter according to the Great Illustrated Classics, which is where I originally read the story).

Grumedam: I took him from the fair tale ... "Prince Narcissus and Princess Pontella" (If I remember right - her name was actually Lucetta in the version I'm familiar with, and the tale is called "The Evil Enchanter.") The fairy who combats him in his official story was named Melinette, which correlated with my own Melina (who had already been named) and I liked that.

And ... wow ... this post is getting long. I think I'll cut it short here and make a part two! Feel free if there's any character in particular whose naming story you'd like to hear!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Guinevere


Today I'm sharing another movie that my sister and I watched while we were studying Arthur a few years back.

Guinevere doesn't have good ratings on Amazon or IMDb, but somehow, I remember enjoying it. It changes quite a bit from the traditional tale, but the core elements are still there. It can be a bit crude at times (I wouldn't recommend it for anyone under sixteen, even though I think my sister was at the time), and some scenes dragged, and the plot had a few weak points, but for the most part, I really liked the way this story was reimagined into a more historical context.

Set during the era when the catholic church is taking over England and the more savage way of life was disappearing. Some of the people criticized Guinevere for not being feminist enough despite claiming to, but I actually liked how she was handled. She was a strong woman, but she put the needs of her country above her own desires.

I especially liked how the Arthur/Lancelot triangle was handled. Yes, it's a bit part of the movie, but instead of Guinevere not meeting Lance until after she's married, they actually kinda grew up together. Guin was taught by Morgan Le Fay, and he was her ward. In fact, Morgan tried to get the two to marry. Despite the fact that Guin liked Lance, she was hesitant because, as her father's only child, she wanted him to have a say in her marriage, and therefore his heir.

And then she ends up married to Arthur, and the push and pull was quite interesting, because it was grounded in her duty as queen vrs. the inclination of her heart. And I liked that. In the end, I think she actually grew to love Arthur (I'm quite certain he loved her).

I liked the movie, but it could have been done better, could have closed up a few plot holes, and could have done without a lot of the discussion of ... marriage and women related things.



These posts are in promotion of the newest book of the Bookania Quests, My Kingdom for a Quest, coming out February 14th. Click here if your interested in lending me your blog for the blog tour - I still have several open slots, particularly the last few days!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Last Son of Camelot

First of all, I now have a blog tour schedule up on sign-up page!! There are still slots open, I would especially love a review or two more, and there are a few items that may be subject to change, but for now, I really like it. 

Now, onto the feature.


Today I'm sharing a self-published book that I read about three years ago but never got around to reviewing.

I won't call this the best Arthurian retelling I've ever read, but it was certainly one of the most intriguing. The premise was that a boy discovers that he is directly descended from King Arthur, and that his mother was (if I remember right), the Lady of the Lake. He also has some really interesting powers and there are monsters on his trail (a bit Percy Jackson-like)

Oh, and did I mention that Merlin's the villain? Yeah, he and Mordred have teamed up and all that, and are intent on making the lives of Arthur's (other) descendants miserable.

So it's a really good concept, but unfortunately, it didn't completely carry through. Quite a bit of clunky description, overuse of drama, and poorly carried out plot twists. I don't regret reading the story, and I'm looking forward to the sequel if it ever gets written (glares at amazon) but I don't foresee myself rereading it any time soon. 


These posts are in promotion of the newest book of the Bookania Quests, My Kingdom for a Quest, coming out February 14th. Click here if your interested in lending me your blog for the blog tour - I still have several open slots, particularly the last few days!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Write Boldly

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I have noticed something very sad about the Christian fiction of today, especially the stuff published mainstream.

When I compare it to the works of non-Christians, it just doesn't measure up. For example, I thoroughly enjoy the Percy Jackson books. I love Percy's snappy voice, as someone who has always been fascinated by mythology, the research that Riordan puts into the series is absolutely delightful. About a year ago, though, I ran across a book called Spirit Fighter, by Jerel Law, a Christian fiction about angels and Nephilim with a description that reminded me a bit of Percy Jackson.

And as I read it, that's pretty much what I found. A Christainized version of Percy Jackson (down to the fact that they were going in quest of the boy's mom, who had been kidnapped) but without Percy's snappy voice, and Annabeth had been replaced by the boy's younger sister ... and she just didn't measure up. Perhaps had I read the book in order, I might have connected with the characters better, but I had read Lightning Thief just as haphazardly, and I still ended up more impressed with that series. And while Riordan's books are well researched, I felt like Law was just making things up as he went along. Sure, the Bible doesn't have much to say about the angels, but I'm pretty sure they're not very much like how Law presented them.

Maybe there isn't enough talent in Christian circles anymore, but I don't think that's the case because there are still many authors who I recommend without batting an eye, whose work IS good, Jaye L. Knight, Bryan Davis, Jennifer Freitag, to name a few. However, so many Christian writers, perhaps myself included, are lazy. They think that having a Christian label with automatically get them sales. After all, there is so little literature being published for us, we're happy to read whatever we get.

Uh, wrong answer. To quote Lewis: We don't need more Christian literature, we need more Christians writing good literature.

We, as Christians, are called to excellence. We are to do things, with God's help, to the best of our ability. And that means, that as authors, imitating other authors and presenting characters with no development but just mouthpieces for our well-intended sermons just isn't going to cut it.

We need to write the books that can change the world. We need to write characters with flaws and strengths, who will live the messages we wish to present. They need to fail and fall, but, with God's help, get back up and carry on. You need to write stories that, though they may be gray, reveal sin for what it is in all its ugliness, though still showing how beautiful it can appear.

We need to write stories of hope and forgiveness, stories of pain and loss. We need happy endings, sad endings, and bittersweet. Most of all, we need endings that point to the True Ending, when Jesus will ride triumphant to victory.

We need writers bold enough to step beyond the line of mediocre, and to write new, original stories. We need authors who aren't afraid to step outside of the boxes that limit us. Gone are the days when we are limited by publishers who only care about what will sell. We can write those weird books that don't really seem to fit any genre. This comes with its evils of course, as the lack of filters allows some pretty nasty, even unedited books to get through, giving us a bad name, but that's why we must rise above the mediocre and polish our stories so that they shine far brighter than even the traditionally published. We don't have a big publishing company standing behind us to tell the world that we are good. We must be good.

And ... that's what's been on my mind the last few weeks. Your thoughts?
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