August 29, 2011

I Think He Knows Which End to Hold


"So killing things mends a broken heart?"
"No, but it's good fun."


When I began to write "Take One Lump or Two?" I was simply going to do a basic getting-to-know-your-character post, but instead it turned into a more specific post on the subject of tea or coffee. There are many good posts out there about interviewing your character, so instead of doing that (since it doesn't work for me anyway), I wanted to do something more in depth and out of the ordinary. Something in the line of Jenny's recent clothing post. The other day I used the personalities of tea-drinkers versus coffee-drinkers; today the subject is

weaponry

A fun subject for those of us who enjoy a bit of violence in our stories. Indeed, there are very few stories that can get away with not having any violence in them at all; the world is hardly a peaceful place, after all. In many cases your main character will have to fight at some point or another (because a novel without bloodshed is incomplete), and when they do it is likely that they will have a weapon. Rather like clothing, weaponry is one of those things that authors tend to hand their characters on the spur of the moment, not giving much thought to it or seeing much need to do so. But, like clothing again, the kind of weapon that suits your character can say a great deal about him. Is he a bull-in-the-china-shop kind of person? Then it is doubtful that he will be comfortable with a rapier. Is she a well-bred city girl who grows queasy at the sight of blood? Then she will probably not rush into battle with a hatchet.

Before starting on the barroom brawl or the climactic battle, stop to consider what weapon your character would use if given the choice. Naturally he or she will not always be able to pick and may end up with a weapon with which they are uncomfortable, but knowing what their ideal choice would be will help you as a writer know how they fight with what they have.

bare hand clobbering

Tip Brighton is a bare-hand-clobbering type of character: hot-headed, plain, and with the ability to pack a punch. In general this would be the more savage kind of person, the sort who enjoys a good fight and gets into them frequently. On the other hand, even a generally laid-back individual, if bred in the backwoods of a nation or the outskirts of an empire, is likely to prefer the use of either his fists or some heavy weapon to something light like a bow. It also implies that, when it comes to appearance, the character is at least moderately well built; a very slight person is unlikely to make a good boxer. A character who loses his temper frequently will probably be passable in the use of his fists, unless of course he always travels with a knife or a dueling pistol.

two inches in the right place

What is the weapon of the stereotypical villain? The dagger, hidden in the boot and withdrawn at the most inconvenient moments. There is something sly and underhanded about a dagger, making it a good weapon for conniving females and deceptive men. If your character is a plotter, the kind who can spend hours sitting and thinking, the kind who rarely loses their temper but hates with a cold hatred, a knife would be a suitable weapon. This is also a good weapon of necessity, as it can be carried and hidden easily. For a dash of pizzazz, throwing knives are always good.

I don't want a knife, I want a bow and arrow!

The longbow is a graceful weapon, which is probably why Elves always seem to use them in fantasy novels. This is a good weapon for a woman who must take part in a fight but does not wish to get in the thick of things; it takes a cool mind, however, since the character's hands have to be steady for him or her to hit anything. A man who isn't heavily built enough to wield a broadsword or wear full armor might also use a bow and arrows. Though the bow seems to take no effort at all, however, keep in mind that it takes a strong arm to draw the string. The longbow isn't a weakling's or a child's weapon.

ready...aim...fire

The gun is a little like a modern-day bow, only a lot bloodier and less of a woman's weapon. All right, so the only similarity is that it allows the character to keep the opponent at arm's length at least, allowing them to stay fairly clean. A pistol is a good weapon for someone too slight for anything heavier, but still clear-headed and of a cool disposition. This would be Charlie Bent's choice; he does not have the build to fight with only his hands, and the pistol is a gentleman's weapon: sophisticated, pretentious, but deadly as well.

This list is not exhaustive, but it covers some of the more common weapons that characters might use. Again, keep in mind that they will not necessarily be able to get their preferred weapon and that this can be used to illustrate their characters; going back to Tip and Charlie again, Tip is forced at one point to fight a duel - something that is totally opposed to his nature - and Charlie gets into several brawls. Determine what the character would like to use, then decide whether or not to give them what they want.

August 26, 2011

The Wager

When I posted Ethan's Beautiful People interview, several people expressed an interest in seeing the part where Ethan wins his name "the Hound." So to gratify you, I scribbled up the section. Although it makes more sense if the reader has a fuller knowledge of the story, I think that this will be fairly self-explanatory.

the wager

Cub held his hand to his mouth and exhaled into it, adjusting the other on Marah’s ice-caked mane and flexing his shoulders experimentally. The tension in the small of his back was almost unbearable; he had slept little the night before and there had been a crick in his neck when he struggled from bed in the moonlight that morning, though his excitement had masked it. There had been a great deal of jesting and leg-pulling as the boys scarfed their cold meal, many bets placed and boasts made, but Cub was too preoccupied to take part. Thunder-son had laughed at him in his careless, goodhumored way and attempted to draw him into a wager, saying, “I have an hour on you, Cub; I’ll take my quarry first.”

And Cub, on his way to the stables to wait for the others, had thrown an indulgent grin over his shoulder and returned, “We’ll see.”

The first trembling excitement had sunk by now into a core of desire for the hunt, a hound’s longing for the scent and the chase and—finally—the kill. His body was relaxed and his heartbeat steady, but every nerve was straining and he knew that Marah’s were as well. He moved his fingers over her damp shoulders, counting the red freckles from memory while his gaze darted from thicket to thicket.

“Spears,” came Lord Peregrine’s voice at last, as akin to the forest as the drip of the icicles. Through the boys’ dogpack went a stifled sound of movement like a snake over the ground; it was good, Cub found, to have the weapon in hand and the feel of its carvings beneath his palms. It was encouraging.

On and on they went, the silvering light and birdsong beginning to hint at dawn, and still they saw nothing and smelled nothing. The silence among the boys grew tense as each thought the same horrible thought: what if there was no hunt that day? With an effort Cub turned his mind to other things, while one hand felt the grooves on his spear and the other ran nervously through Marah’s mane. He thought of Kit, wondering where she might be today and what she might be doing. He thought, with the cooler mind of a hunter, that it was a good day for his first hunt: a wind from the west to blow their quarries’ scent to them and their own scent away, and pervading cold to make the wolves’ bellies growl…

Aow-oooo-ooooo!

The horses flung up their heads and danced at the sudden closeness of the howl and the boys, throwing off all of Peregrine’s restraint, gave tongue like dogs. Cub’s voice rose above the others until his spine thrilled with it, and before he knew clearly what he was doing, his knees were hard in Marah’s ribs and they were lunging forward as one. His body warmed against the winter air as the hunter’s pleasure swept tingling through his veins and Marah, narrow and agile as an arrow, was alive in every muscle as she plunged over limbs and tumbling bushes toward the howl.

AAAOW—oOoooO—ooo—!

Only one, Cub thought briefly, and it was hungry.

Marah was gathering herself up and Cub’s legs tightened instinctively around her barrel as she made the last lunge to meet the wolf—a massive brindled creature, red-eyed and gape-jawed, streaked with frost across its fine head. It whirled with another short cry as Marah and Cub attacked, too hungry and furious with the starved world to run, and as they danced the hunt-dance with it Cub howled back. This, he thought as his spear glimmered quick as a kingfisher, was bliss: the heat of his own blood in his temples and the drum of Marah’s dancing hooves, and all the while the danger and fear of losing flirting at the back of his mind.

They fought on every inch of that small clearing, the three of them. Marah and the wolf were all that existed to Cub, and the mare was so much a part of him that even she began at last to fade from his brain; only the blazing eyes in the ash-coloured face were important. He and his quarry locked gazes and never broke them all the time that they fought—save once, when a panting breath clouded the air around the wolf’s muzzle and Cub lost sight of the two red gleams. In that brief moment he lost his control over the fight, and behind the screen the wolf gathered itself up and leapt.

He saw a flurry of grey and black, felt the damp heat of breathing on his skin, and then the huge body hit him across the breast and he was falling, falling with an unbearable weight on him. The breath exploded from his lungs as he hit the ground and rolled through the morning frost; the wolf was hard on him, scarlet tongue lolling, and Marah was dancing at the corner of Cub’s vision as she tried to find a moment to attack. Claws like ivory scrabbled at him and the cold air stabbed into his chest as they ripped his tunic wide. And Cub, his mind briefly clearing, was furious. With a shout he caught the animal by the throat, braced his own body against the ground, and sank his teeth into the shaggy warmth of the wolf’s neck until his jaw seemed ready to break. The skin broke and blood filled his mouth; the beast clawed and bit at him in a flurry of pain and still Cub held on, his body pulsing with the will to succeed.

He did not know how long he kept his teeth in the wolf’s throat or how long he lay with the cold ground at his back and hot fur on his chest, but at last he became aware of a horse’s whickering nearby. The wolf was unmoving and unbreathing. Cub loosed his stiff fingers from its skin and opened his mouth, spitting blood, and the motion brought him to an unpleasant awareness of pain all over; he lay still again.

Then hands were taking hold of the wolf and dragging its carcass from him, bringing the winter air down on his wounds. He gasped, blood trickling from his lips, and someone cried out, “Ai, he’s alive after all!”

Cub blinked up at the boys who surrounded him and struggled, still hissing and spitting, to gain his feet. Peregrine stooped and helped him with a dozen others hands trying to assist as well. “That was a fight royal!” the lord said, casting an eye over Cub’s bites and scratches. “A fight for a wordcrafter to tell of, if we had one. You’ve earned yourself a name with that, lad.”

Cub, dizzy with adrenaline and bloodloss, managed a reply that his own ears did not hear and then caught at another boy’s shoulder to steady himself on. It was Thunder-son, and with a panting laugh Cub said, “I won the wager—eh?”

“You won the wager,” the red-haired boy agreed, not drawing his eyes from the blood on Cub’s teeth. “I’ll not contest that.”

-

“And that,” Justin concluded, leaning back, “was how Ethan won his name and his first wolf pelt. Did I tell it well for not having been there?”

The men howled their pleasure like wolves themselves, though Ash objected, “I wasn’t as ridiculous as that. I don’t care for your rendering of me; you make me sound a brat.”

“That’s because you were,” Ethan returned, lounging on one elbow with a spark of laughter in his Gypsy-eyes.

“I was not,” Ash repeated, and over the men’s mockery Justin cried,

“All right, Ash, next time I’ll tell the story of how you won your name. Will that appease you?”

Ash raised his mead in acknowledgement and the fire played tricks on his wild hair as he jerked his head at Tawny, saying, “So, and make Tawny look the fool this time.”

“You can make me look the fool,” Tawny interposed, “but I’m going to bed. Good-night.”

He rose and one by one the others followed until only Justin and Ethan were left by the dying campfire. The Wordcrafter, beginning to cool down from the sweaty warmth of story-telling, put his arms around his knees and rocked; Ethan picked a glowing twig out of the embers and held it up for inspection, remarking slowly after a moment, “You know…you made a great deal of that up.”

Justin crooked a smile and shrugged. “I know. But they don’t.”

August 24, 2011

Beautiful People - Ethan Prince

It's time for the August edition of Georgie and Sky's Beautiful People! Everyone ought to be on the bandwagon by now, but in case a few people are still jogging along in the dust behind it, here is the point:

Once a month Sky and Georgie post a collection of ten questions for writers to answer about their characters. This can either be for you to get to know the character better, or for others to get a glimpse into the personality of said character. You can answer one question, or a few questions, or all of them; the rules are not strict.

Last month after doing Justin I promised to do Ethan Prince next, since it seems rather unfair to do one but not the other. So here is a little peek into the personality of the other main character of Wordcrafter,

the Hound

1. What is your character's full name?

Ethan Prince, Hound of Tera.

2. Does his name have a special meaning?

Ethan stole his “Christian” name from a little boy in Edinburgh who mistook him for a homeless man and gave him chocolate. He earned the name “Hound” when he brought down a wolf on his first hunt and killed it with his teeth. (Lovely, I know.)

3. What is his biggest accomplishment?


Ethan may be prince of Tera, but Tera is a small world: there isn’t much to accomplish. He does not dream of doing anything particularly grand, and considers his biggest accomplishments to come when he defeats himself.

4. What is his strongest childhood memories?

Ethan has many childhood memories, some better than others. His worst are of his father after an evening of drink. His best are of sitting with his mother in the garden on autumn afternoons, when the flowers were still blooming but the leaves had turned red and golden, and of her voice.

5. What is his favorite food?

I don’t think he really has a favorite food, but if he does I can bet it isn’t Justin’s spaghetti.

6. Does he believe in love at first sight?

No. Ethan is far too clear-minded to believe in something like that, which is perhaps why he took such a violent dislike to Jamie.

7. What kind of home does he live in?

Ethan lives in the Horsemen’s Palace. His room was once his mother’s, and after her death he moved into it; it is one of the upper rooms looking down on the courtyard through a wide stretch of windows, very bright, but not cozily furnished.

8. What does he like to wear?

Ethan wears the traditional clothing of the Horsemen—tunic and breeches—designed for long days on horseback. He also frequently wears a long, sleeveless red overcoat.

9. What would he do if he discovered he was dying?

He would probably withdraw into himself, and there I can’t pry into his thoughts.

10. What kind of holidays or traditions does he celebrate?

The Horsemen celebrate the coming of autumn with their harvest fires and the dance they call the Harvest Knot, which Ethan has taken part in since he came of age. Weddings usually come with a week’s worth of celebration.

11. What do your other characters have to say about him?

Have to say, or have to think? Those are very different things. Jamie calls him “strange” and “different.” Justin stands a little in awe of him, half-terrified at times of his wildness and vivacious personality. Copper, in her grave way, calls him a good man.

12. If he could change one thing in hisworld, what would it be?

He would have Jamie killed, or make her never to have existed. Ethan is not a very patient or forgiving individual, and if there is one person in either world whom he hates, it’s Jamie Fairbairn.

August 22, 2011

Day Six {Genre} and Day Seven {Project}

As you will no doubt realize if you've seen the list of the Fifteen Day Challenge writing questions, I am taking liberties and skipping a couple of them. Day Six has to do with one's "bucket list," but I don't have one and therefore can't answer that; Day Eight is supposed to be a video about books or writing, but the only one I know of is Julian Smith's "I'm Reading a Book" and I can't stand rap. So I'm going with the questions I can answer.

day six: your favorite genre to write in

Earlier this month I wrote a post on diversity in which I pointed out the advantages of both reading and writing in many different genres to stretch the imagination. I am currently reading my father's dissertation on biblical economics, and in learning a little about the basics of Capitalism, it occurred to me that the Division of Labor encouraged by Adam Smith is today as pervasive a concept in the field of arts as it is in the field of physical labor. Authors are expected to hone their skills in one genre - something which, no doubt, earns them prestige and money. I contend, however, that although it might bring financial success and get the writer into the New York Bestseller List, it is damaging to the mind and will eventually doom the author's writing to tedious repetition.

All that to say, I like to write in several different genres. Currently I have two historical fictions and a fantasy; two of my planned novels are a time-traveling novel (science-fantasy) and a light "historical fiction" composed entirely of letters. I also have a historical fiction and a romance bumping around in my head. If forced to choose I would probably say that my favorite genre to write in is historical fiction, since in that one field there are a thousand different possibilities of time, setting, and characters. I like the research that goes into making the past come alive; I like the feeling of having created a story within history and made it authentic. And - well, I just love history and writing is the closest I can get to being there.

day seven: your current writing project

This question is an easy one for me to answer because I have a one-track mind - in this area, at least. Although I will occasionally scribble down a section in my writing notebook for another story, in general when I begin one novel I concentrate my energy on finishing it. I can't write two novels at the same time. Right now I am writing The White Sail's Shaking, my first "sea novel," set during the United States' first war with the Barbary states of North Africa. I always like a good intrigue, and that is what White Sail's is - an inner war among four midshipmen set against the backdrop of their nation's war with Tripoli.

At any level an officer's single goal is to get to the next highest, and Tip Brighton is as eager as his messmates to succeed when he first joins the Enterprize. He has always been a failure - in society as well as in his own family; that's how he ended up being dumped into the navy in the first place. But now that he is there, he means to prove himself...until he finds that the cost of success is higher than he is willing to pay.

I am roughly 90,000 words in to The White Sail's Shaking, placing me at about the two-thirds mark. The writing has been rather slow (I started this novel as my 2010 NaNo) but I am heartily enjoying this novel through all of its chaotic ups and downs and I hope it won't be the last naval fiction that I write.

August 19, 2011

Take One Lump or Two?

Day five of Lerowen's challenge was on the least favorite of your own characters, and I gave the award to Marta because of how difficult I find her to write. However, since she is a necessary part of the plot, I am forced to overcome that and make myself acquainted with her lest she become flat and annoying. Every character who is mildly important to the plot must be just that - a character, an individual person with a life that readers can tell stretches before and beyond the scope of the novel itself. Sometimes this develops of its own accord. Sometimes (to twist Jack London's quote) we must go after it with a stick.

tea or coffee?

Difficult characters plague just about every writer, and there are a dozen ways to beat or coax them into submission; they do not, however, all work universally, so this is trial-and-error. The very first thing to do if you wish to get to know the character is to ask them an important question as soon as they drop by to visit: "Tea or coffee?" My tongue is not wholly in my cheek; it's amazing what such a small and seemingly inconsequential choice can say about a character. Tea and coffee illustrate two ends of a personality spectrum as surely as do the terms "introvert" and "extrovert," and they turn up more often in real life. I frequently hear people lovingly discussing the merits of particular coffee grounds and crying out in horror at the idea of drinking decaffeinated coffee, while others shrug and say, "Coffee's all very well, but tea is such a homey thing. I must have my tea." An illustration that comes very easily to me would be the two main characters of Wordcrafter, who are opposites on this point as on so many others.

Justin: Justin is the embodiment of tea, really. He is withdrawn, shy, and generally sedate, finding comfort within himself rather than from the people around him. He's the sort of steady chap who will gladly sit by you through a rainy day and need nothing for himself, the sort who can comfort and encourage in any situation.

Ethan: Ethan's coffee. He tried this whole "tea" thing and thought it a very strange, watery concoction, but the smooth, bitter strength of coffee had him from the first. Ethan is more brilliant and assertive than Justin, confident and easy and perhaps a little proud. He is more striking, or, for lack of a better term, more flavorful. When you want someone to wake you up and dazzle you, you head for Ethan.

These are extremes, but they serve to make the point of the powerful indicator a choice between tea and coffee can be. So invite your character in, put him or her at the kitchen table, and ask the first question: "Tea or coffee?"

take one lump or two?

The kettle's whistling or the coffee is percolating, and you've brought out the sugar cubes and the cream. But there are half-a-dozen ways a person can take their tea or coffee, and depending on taste buds and personality, a character could take theirs black or with cream, with one lump of sugar or two (or three!), with honey mixed in or with a sprig of mint on top. Jenny's character Rhodri, for instance, takes his tea black and could not be induced to take it any other way. If forced to take tea my character Tip would likely also have it black, but he would prefer straight, strong, black-as-a-bat's-wing coffee. That's the way he is: plain and blunt, lacking any frills or tact. Charlie Bent would have tea with two sugar lumps...and, maybe, if you turned your back long enough (but watched him in the side of a tea pot), he would take another and eat it plain. And that's the way he is: smooth and easy, the perfect gentleman while you watch him, but with his own quirks that he can't quite resist when your back is to him.

How a person drinks his coffee or tea is as significant as which he drinks. It makes a world of difference whether he asks for tea or whether he chooses coffee, and then the cream and sugar provide some details for his personality. To say that Ethan is a coffee-person is not quite enough; does he take it black? No, he takes it with cream to make it go down easier. Justin likes his tea without milk so that it stays clear and amber, but he puts in just a little sugar after it has cooled so that he can watch the beads in the bottom of the cup. These are the little things, not necessarily important if you take them by themselves, but offering further glimpses into the personality of the character if you look hard enough.

Careful observation, my dear Watson, is everything.

August 17, 2011

Day Five {Least Favorite}


day five: the least favorite character you've written

(This is a bit like the Razzie Award, isn't it? I don't know that I would want the distinction of Worst Character.)

When on day one I struggled to produce a favorite character, I was looking over a cast of characters whom I dearly love and trying to pick out one - at most two - who I could tentatively call my "favorite." Like most writers, I even take pleasure in my villains. Christopher of The Soldier's Cross was indeed less fun to write than Jamie of Wordcrafter or Lewis of The White Sail's Shaking, but still I know him and he belongs to me, so I can be pleased with him. No, none of my villains can step in to fill this role.

I have had difficult characters in all my works so far, with the possible exception of Wordcrafter. In fact, I've discovered that I have the most trouble with female characters. Jamie and Copper, the two women of Wordcrafter, came with surprising ease to me, however, and so I would have to turn to either Fiona (The Soldier's Cross) or Marta Rais (The White Sail's Shaking). But I don't even remember writing Fiona (ah, the bliss of forgetfulness), so I would have to say that currently my least favorite character is

Marta Rais

Marta is the other main character of White Sail's. The daughter of a Syracusan actress and a British seaman, Marta is orphaned at seventeen when her mother dies of an illness and her father is reportedly killed in an engagement with a French corvette. Her survival depends on either reaching England and, hopefully, her father's relatives, or remaining in Syracuse and going to work in a theatre. She refuses to do the latter and turns all her energies toward getting to Britain, but by a twist of Providence she finds herself on an American schooner heading to a war with the Barbary states instead of a British merchant bound for England.

Marta is a hard character to write because she is a woman in a man's world, which means I have to show her vulnerability while still trying to convey her strength of character. I had the same trouble with Fiona. Women weren't meant to be running here and there without anyone to protect them, and so it is difficult to feel and write the emotions of a girl who finds herself in a situation such as this. She can't be crying all the time (Tip would go crazy, poor fellow) but neither can I pretend that she would be as cool and collected as a man when she has just been dumped into a world entirely foreign to her. There has to be a balance, and it's a difficult one to find.

Although I am 90,000 words into my novel, most of the sections that are to be from Marta's perspective have yet to be written because she is still largely an unknown. I suspect, however, that by the time I reach the final page of White Sail's I will be as fond of Marta as of the other characters, and once again I'll have no reply when someone asks me who my least favorite character is. Which is fine with me.

August 16, 2011

Day Four {Inspiration}

"You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club." (Jack London)

day four: an author or novel that has inspired your writing style

These are all difficult questions, primarily because they seem to imply that there should be a single answer. But unfortunately, there isn't. I read and enjoy a number of authors and I daresay that they have all influenced my writing in one way or another, but there is no particular one who I can point to and say, "That person inspires me. That is what I want my writing to be like." If I had to pick one, however, it would have to be my sister

Jennifer Freitag

Jenny inspired me to start writing. For as long as I can remember she has been creating stories. Whenever we would play outside, she was the one who made up the stories we would act out (sometimes under duress; she often tried to foist it off on someone else, but that never worked). Then she got her awful hulk of a computer and would spend hours writing stories that I thought were works of genius. I would always contrive to read them, and I always adored them - with the exception of the time she killed off my favorite character and wouldn't bring him back to life no matter how hard I pleaded. I think I'm scarred for life.

Eventually I decided that I wanted to write, too. I wanted to have the same magical hold on words that she does. I wanted to be a creator, an artist, to be able to hold something up and say, "This is mine." It took me some time to be certain that I really was a writer, but I think that despite the wonderful books I have read since that time, it is still Jenny who inspires me most.

When I sat down to write this post I wasn't sure what answer I would give to the question, but there it is. The prize goes to Jenny.

August 15, 2011

Day Three {First Time}

Today is the third day of Lerowen's writing challenge (for me), but it is also the end of the giveaway for The Soldier's Cross. Using the highly sophisticated Random Number Generator, the winners are...

Eyebright (of Defective Compositions) and Katy (of Inlets and Harbors). If you two could scoot your addresses into my inbox (jeanne [at] squeakycleanreviews [dot] com), I will get your copies of The Soldier's Cross shipped out very soon. If you enjoy the book, I would love to read your thoughts in an Amazon review. Congratulations!

day three: first attempt at writing

My very first attempt at writing was little more than a kind of fanfiction of one of Jenny's early works. It stemmed from the fact that she killed off my favourite character - that happens to me a lot - and would not repent and bring him back to life though I wept piteously. Really, I was broken up. The sun was dark in my eyes. So naturally I took her story and created my own character, who just so happened to be a rather flimsy reconstruction of the character she had killed. The story was ridiculous and riddled with Mary Sues and Gary Stus; it has since been fully deleted.

But that was years ago, and we prefer not to dwell on that. Then there was another story, a kind of mystery, that flowed out of the fanfiction attempt. I suppose it was a little better, but that has also been deleted and I really don't want to compare the two. They were both early attempts. That is to say, they were both silly.

But then there was Stonehenge. Stonehenge predates The Soldier's Cross by a while, but it came trickling into my head at a time when I greatly needed it. It was something original. It was something not entirely rubbish. It was just something different from the ridiculous stories I had hitherto been trying to beat into shape - which was a bit like trying to construct something with jelly. Stonehenge did not exactly have a cohesive plot, but it was set just as the Romans were overrunning Britain and dealt with a man, a somewhat Saint Patrick-like character, who had come to bring the young Christian faith to the remote land. The main character was a young woman of one of the tribes who met the man of God and who was the only one to listen to his words. To her the stranger had no name but "the man of God"; he was an enigma, appearing at times when he was most needed and seeming more otherworldly than human.

Stonehenge is an aching kind of story, which is perhaps why I have not pursued it further. But it convinced me that I could write after all, and that if I persevered, I might be able to write something good. It was a milestone, so I doubt I will ever delete it.

Standing Stones

“A dark time is coming to this land.”

His words sounded strange, coming on such a beautiful day. The sky was clear and blue as a precious stone, the moors grey and purple with heather, the birds chirruping in the thicket. The broad-bladed grass stirred lazily in the breeze, showing silver underbellies and deep green backs as they moved; like a chieftain’s golden torc, the sun hung low in the vastness, reaching down toward the west. I thought it odd, for I had just been thinking how a day like this brought one in sight—almost in reach—of the Paradise of yore, with the gem-bright colours and the shivering expectancy that I felt pulsing in the earth beneath me. But I had learned to heed the man of God’s words, and I turned my head on the grass and looked up at him with a frown on my forehead.

He was not looking at me; as he did so often, he was staring before him intently. He held a piece of reed between his fingers and he played with it, stretching it taut and then strumming it to produce a hollow sound. Then he began to roll it, still not even affording it a glance, until he held a tapering kind of tube; at first I thought he was not even paying attention to what his hands were doing, but presently he raised one end to his lips and I saw his chest expand and heard the breath moving out from his mouth, and a deep, quivering noise, rich and wild like a voice, came from the little instrument. I lay as though paralyzed, listening to the notes falling until I recognized the melody of a psalm he liked to sing. I should have liked to pick up the words, but I did not know them well enough.

Suddenly he stopped. He looked long and hard at the reed, then laid it away and rested his arms on his knees, meshing his fingers together. “A dark time,” he continued as though there had been no pause. “The Red Crests are hungry for power, and soon they will march on Britannia. Blood will be spilled; the land will be darkened; Albion has had her time for laughter and mirth: she faces sorrow and destruction now.”

I sat up, looking about me at the warm, living stones that encircled us. “Is it because we do not worship the One true God?” I asked tentatively.

He jerked his head briefly. “It is not for me to say. Perhaps: perhaps not. I do not know the mind of God—who does?—and it is not my duty to pass judgment on this land. I only know that the dark is coming, but not why.”

“How is it that you know?”

He turned his head toward me, tipping a smile and unlacing his fingers to lay a hand against my face. “I have not always been here,” he reminded me. “Those distant lands have been my home for long years, and I have seen the ever-growing power of the Empire. God has chosen to grant her dominion for a time; many tears and much blood will be brought because of the Red Crests, but His word will also spread, and that is a far greater thing.

“As for how I know that the time will be soon,” he continued, drawing away again, “traders have passed through here, and I have spoken with them. They tell me of a new emperor—a new king—who looks to expand the borders of the Empire yet further, and they say his troops are moving across Gaul.”

“But we have always stood against the Red Crests,” I objected. “Why should now be any different?”

“Their armies are stronger now, and Britannia is weaker. Their legions have doubled; you have no battalions. No, the Red Crests will swarm over Albion like ants over their hill, and no one will be able to fruitfully stand against them.”

I was quiet. I wondered just how much would be destroyed when they came marching across the chalk: would this place, my sweetest refuge, be destroyed? Would the farm be burned? Would my father and mother and the people of the village all be killed? The day did not seem so bright anymore, and I could not hear the birds singing. “Why do you tell me of all this?” I asked quietly.

“I would have you be warned,” he returned. “I would not have you be taken off your guard. And there is always prayer.”

“Prayer for what? War seems inevitable.”

He shook his head. “None of the shadows we glimpse in the future are inevitable, bairn. What God wills, He will do, but He has in the past willed miracles. Pray for grace and strength and the courage to stand by your faith.” He paused a moment, and then added in a softer voice, “You are still very young: I would not see you uprooted.”

I stared out across the downs, but my eyes were blind to the beauty now and I saw only scarlet plumes and sandaled feet and bright, gleaming metal in the sunlight. I shuddered and realized with a pang that, whatever I had thought before, I was not brave, and the future loomed before me like a veiled monster waiting to devour me. From the merchants that passed through I had heard tales of the Red Crests’ cruelties, and as I looked down at my own slight body I wondered how I could stand them. As the fear rose to an overwhelming pitch, I did something that I had never done before: I reached across the distance between us and slipped my hand into the man of God’s. “I am afraid,” I whispered.

He tightened his grip on my hand. “I know. But courage: there is hope.”

I shook my head, hunkering down into a little miserable ball. “I cannot see any.”

“While God lives,” he said firmly, shifting his cloak over my shoulders, “there is hope. Courage.”

August 13, 2011

Day Two {Male Author}

Day two on Lerowen's Fifteen Day Challenge list deals with your favorite male author. I peered at the question and pondered the question and formulated tentative answers to the question without success. I might say C.S. Lewis, but Jenny already said Lewis and I hate to be redundant. I might say James Fenimore Cooper because his The Last of the Mohicans is one of my all-time favorite books, but currently that is the only book of his that I have read, so that might sound silly. I might say Charles Dickens, but one has to be in the right mood to enjoy Dickens. So the result?

I have no favorite male author. My favorite books are my comfort books, and they are all, I believe, written by female authors; most of the other books on my shelves are ones that I very much enjoy, but not ones that I would call "favorites." Or perhaps I have so many favorites that I can't dig through the heap to find one that I could call my really, really favorite. What I read depends on my mood, so I thought I would give my favorite male authors based on that.

for a cheerful, sunny day

Dickens. He isn't the sort of fellow you read on a gloomy winter day when you're in a gloomy winter mood, unless you like that feeling of depression and cheerlessness; but when I am feeling particularly "up," he is at least one of my favorite authors to read. He is quite verbose, which annoys some people, but I love his caustic wit and his sparkling casts of characters. The reader must trek through a great deal of darkness to reach the end, but I like that in most of his works, there's light when you come out of the tunnel.

what I have read

A Christmas Carol
The Pickwick Papers
Martin Chuzzlewit
Little Dorrit

for a rainy autumn day

C.S. Lewis. Despite my desire not to copy Jenny, I can't give a list of favorite authors without including Lewis. Again, I have to be in the right mood for him; I have to be able to handle the otherworldly longing, the mix of sorrow and joy, that threads through many of his works. I can't simply pick up Till We Have Faces any day of the week without feeling the need to cry because of the beauty and reality of the truths that Lewis paints. But it would not be true to say that C.S. Lewis is not still a favorite, because of more so than despite the painful loveliness in his books.

what I have read

The Chronicles of Narnia (7)
The Space Trilogy (3)
Till We Have Faces
The Screwtape Letters
The Great Divorce
Mere Christianity
An Experiment in Criticism

August 12, 2011

Day One {Favorite Character}

I am really and truly belated on Lerowen's challenge, I know, for which I have the excuse that my blog was booked for the first two weeks of August. However, I have been reading other people's replies and waiting eagerly for a chance to join in the fun, and since I have some free time, I'm now hustling to catch up with everyone else.

For those of you who are not aware of the 15 Day Challenge being hosted by Lerowen over at "Eat...Sleep...Write," the point is to post an answer to the question assigned to that day. This was supposed to begin on August 1 and go to August 15, but you could always be like me and pretend to have an excuse to join really late. So here is my answer to day one's question.

your favorite character you have written

This, like many of the others on the list, is a hard question. If asked several months ago the answer would have been simple enough: Justin King, my main character from Wordcrafter. But as I have progressed in The White Sail's Shaking I have grown more in love with the characters of that story, even Tip, who used to be so ornery that all I wanted to do was shake him and box his ears. I've fallen under the spell of my work in progress - and the spell was a long time in the making! - and so the answer is no longer cut and dry. Therefore, instead of being able to give the definitive answer that I'm sure the question is meant to have, I am forced to dawdle around and do a great deal of hemming and hahing before I come round to the point.

Justin

I love Justin. I think that despite my growing affection for Tip and Charlie and the rest of the White Sail's cast, Justin King will always be first simply because he is a dear. Oh, I certainly had some trouble with him; I couldn't even figure out his name in the first scene I wrote. But it wasn't the trouble that Tip gave me; Justin never sat in a corner and sulked. It was just that Justin wasn't like either Ethan Prince (Wordcrafter) or Charlie Bent (The White Sail's Shaking) and so he didn't come ambling into the story and ask if I had any tea to give him. Justin's shy, and so he took coaxing - but the coaxing paid off, and I now have a character who is, as perhaps only fellow writers will understand, a friend.

Tip

There could not be two characters more different than Justin King and Tip Brighton, which is probably what caused me so much trouble with Tip in the first place. Tip came to me with an occupation and a Christian name. Tip was a midshipman. Tip was a midshipman on the USS Constitution. Tip was a bully.

Tip did not want to be a bully. Tip did not want to be on the Constitution. Tip did not even want to tell me his last name. If you simply boil it down, Tip did not want to cooperate. And he continued to not want to cooperate all throughout November and NaNoWriMo, and, consequently, the first 50,000 words of my novel. I hated him with a passion; I wanted to hit him upside the head and then shake him and demand that he answer my questions and be a good, self-respecting character like Justin.

I don't really know when he started to shape up, but we sorted out our differences in the - well, the middle, not the end. He got his way on a few points: he is no longer a bully and I switched him to the Enterprize instead of the Constitution. And I managed to figure out his last name and get him to cooperate, or myself to cooperate with him. The more I write, the more attached to him I become.

So the result of the examination is that amid the large cast of characters I love, these main ones stand out as two of my favorites because of how juxtaposed they are to each other. They are different in background (Justin is an only child and now an orphan; Tip has a large family in which he feels unaccepted), temperament (Justin is shy and reclusive; Tip is volatile and intrusive), and friends (Justin's best friend is his polar opposite; Tip's is so close to him in temperament that sparks fly on a regular basis), and so I have poured energy into them both in different ways. I love 'em both, and I love Ethan and Charlie and Pierre and Jamie and Darkwood... Nearly all of my characters could have been in this post, really, but I have already stretched this question much farther than it ought to have gone, so I will save them for another time.

August 9, 2011

Imagination Limited

When writers write and when readers read, they often explain their love of stories by saying that the words take them away to other times and places. Their imagination is fueled by stories and, in the case of writers, finds an outlet in stories. While it is true that very small and seemingly inconsequential things in daily life can inspire a novel, books and the written word continue to be the prime medium for the activity of the mind; reading promotes some degree of intelligence.

To have a well-rounded mind, however, it is necessary to not focus on a single genre of literature. You shouldn't read only fantasies and fairy tales; you shouldn't even have a steady diet that is 53% fantasy and fairy tales. You shouldn't have a steady diet of romances, "Christian" or secular. Nor should you wear a track from the library door to the historical novels. Histories should not gather dust while fiction is being constantly pulled off the shelf. There is no genre that can be indulged in to the exclusion of all others; the mind will be stunted if fed the same thing day after day, just as the body would if you only ever ate carrots or potato chips.

Oddly enough, one of the bits of advice most promoted by many writers today is that you should read extensively...in the genre of your choice. If you want to write historical fiction, read historical fiction. If you want to write fantasy, read fantasy. Never mind that this may very well mean that your plots, characters, story arcs, and what-have-you are being fed to you by authors who have come before, or that you are stuck in the rut of one genre both as the source and outlet of your imagination. 'Read in one genre, write in one genre' is the rule of the day, and so authors are pigeonholed into specific fields of writing to develop themselves there until they are ready to expand (if not forever).

This is not wholly ridiculous. From a marketing standpoint, it is true that if you write and publish a historical fiction, then write a fantasy and want it published, you will likely have to seek out a new publisher. I speak from personal experience; I am currently querying Wordcrafter, a fantasy, and it is almost like being an entirely new author. I have no guarantee of acceptance. But I wouldn't trade the time I spent writing that story for the certainty of publication, and I would far rather have been writing Justin's story than grinding out another historical fiction. Of course, I am writing a historical fiction now. I simply didn't want to then, because I didn't have the inspiration for one.

Writing is an art, although it must be balanced with the more "practical" side of marketing, and some of the most renowned artists are those who experimented in many different mediums. Michelangelo was a sculptor as well as a painter and architect; Leonardo da Vinci dabbled in a dozen things, from sketching to painting, from writing to inventing. In the realm of writing, Agatha Christie is most famous for her mysteries, but she also wrote romances. C.S. Lewis wrote essays on faith and philosophy as well as fantasies and "science fiction." Rosemary Sutcliff, acclaimed for her Romano-British works, wrote children's books, stories set in the Middle Ages, some nonfiction, and retellings of The Iliad and The Odyssey.

These artists were never equally lauded in all mediums, but that was not their purpose; their imagination was fired in many different directions, and so they followed that and did not remain inside the box of their own especial genre. Their minds were well-rounded, so that they could and did tackle fantasy as eagerly as nonfiction, sculpting as readily as painting. Practically speaking, if you read widely, it is unlikely that you will be able to stop your mind from developing tales in many different genres - and this is not a bad thing, even if you are not as skilled with one as with another. It's good for the imagination to expand, and not to be allowed to stagnate in a single medium.

August 6, 2011

Interview with Liz Patterson

Liz Patterson, who writes over at the lovely blog Awake, recently published her fantasy novel The Mark of the Star. I bought a copy and thoroughly enjoyed devouring it (you can read a review of the book itself over at The Penslayer), and I was delighted when Liz agreed to do an interview here at Scribbles. For those of you who have somehow not stumbled upon Liz's blog or her book, here is the plot summary from the back cover:

What can you do when an entire country hovers on the brink of collapse and your courage is all that can save it? What can you do when your dearest friend makes the wrong choices and your love is not enough to protect him? What can you do when your blessing turns out to be a curse? When Arvis is suddenly faced with these questions, her search for answers leads her on a journey across the world. Hunted by an elusive enemy and brought low by betrayal, Arvis is forced to rise to the challenge and accept that she was set apart by the mark of the star for a reason.

I don't know about you, but that (and the beautiful cover) caught my interest - and the rest of the novel lives up to it. I am eagerly awaiting Liz's next story. And now, on to the questions.

1. First things first. Can you give something about yourself? Personality, favorite pastimes, ideal weather, tea or coffee, favorite pair of socks?

Well, I'm a writer, so that means that I have a inordinate love of words, I tend to sit in coffee shops by myself and people watch, all the librarians know me by name because I check out so many books, and I'm generally the quiet, nerdy one who doesn't say much until you get her talking about books; then she won't be quiet.

I wish I had more pastimes. I don't tend to have any. Instead of pastimes I have passions, which are so much more exhausting. I have a passion for music and I bang away at my poor piano quite frequently. I have a passion for philosophy, which is expressed in my avid love for competitive debate and my intention to major in Philosophy in college and become a teacher of it. And I don't know if I have a favorite pair of socks, but I do have a favorite pair of shoes: my tall black boots which I wear to death because 1.) they are comfy 2.) they are black and I love the color black and 3.) I like to indulge in the irrational fancy that they look like Robin Hood's boots and anything Robin-Hood-ish is the epitome of awesomeness.

2. When did you first begin writing?

Pretty much since the first grade, where I wrote a tragic poem in which every character died. But I really didn't launch into fiction writing until I was 10, when I started writing a series of stories about Arvis (who is the now the MC of Mark of the Star), except back then she was an elf from Lothlorian who drifted in and out of the story of The Lord of the Rings, sometimes off on her own adventures, sometimes joining up with the Fellowship... It really was a way to escape life and enter into a story that I loved.

3. What inspired The Mark of the Star?

Each character has a person who is their inspiration and each place in the world does as well, but overall the inspiration for the whole idea of the Mark of the Star was inspired by a dear friend of mine, Susanna, who originally was going to co-author with me, but became too busy to write. She came up with many of the original ideas, including Arvis's star-mark, and though the story is mainly mine, it was the excitement and fun of her friendship that really inspired the adventures of Arvis and Co. And it was Susanna who encouraged me to write in the first place - she was the first person (and only person for several years) who genuinely believed that I could write a novel.

4. Some novels flow easily, others are like molasses running uphill in January. Which would you say The Mark of the Star was?

Haha! Molasses running uphill in January? How did you know? The current copy of the Mark of the Star that you can buy happens to be the seventh draft of the story. Every few chapters, Writer's Block would bound up and harry me for a while... I thank God that Arvis was so supremely stubborn that she wouldn't let me give up, and also that my stiff-necked pride wouldn't allow me to bail on this project once I had told everyone that I was going to write a novel...

5. I know that Arvis, the main character of The Mark of the Star, has been in your mind a long time. Is she your favorite character in the novel?

I'm afraid Arvis is a little too much like me to be my favorite character. Arvis is, of course, ten times better and braver of a person than I am, but we share many of the same flaws and characteristics. So my favorite character is without a doubt Jadev! Several people have remarked that they love Jadev and I think part of the reason is that when I wrote Jadev, I poured out my heart into his character. I love everything about Jadev, from his silly habit of running his fingers through his hair to his longing to prove himself and his sometimes volatile moods. Jadev embodies almost all the characteristics I love most in people and I had an absolute blast writing him.

6. Politics form the background to the plot of your novel. When and how did you first become interested in that?

When I was 15 back in 2008 and the presidential election season was gripping the country in its excitement and suspense, I discovered, quite shockingly, that this strange and generally-abhorred thing called politics was something I found extraordinarily intriguing. I declared, amidst much controversy, that I wanted to grow up to be a politician. I think the reason I love politics is because it is human nature displayed. Leadership has a way of bringing out the best, and the worst, in people and I love seeing that. Also, political philosophy is so fascinating! If one can be a novelist, a teacher, a wife, a mother, and a politician in the same lifetime, I certainly intend to!

7. Who is your favorite or most inspiring writer?

Wow. This question floors me. Can I cheat and choose two or three? My first answer would be undoubtedly C.S. Lewis. Though it was Tolkien's story of The Lord of the Rings that first inspired my imagination, it was the writings of Lewis that taught me how to write and think and inspired my love of words. In particular reference to The Mark of the Star I think Stephen Lawhead's Pendragon Cycle was very influential. His book Taliesin has many similar characters and elements in it and I learned a lot about writing from Lawhead's creative style. But one of my favorite authors and the writer whose work truly empowered me to finish Mark of the Star when I was about to genuinely give up would be Ara, who used to blog over at Shilah. I read the manuscript of her novel Riven and it changed my life. When I was about to quit writing, her story encouraged me to keep on. I owe the fact that my novel is finished to Ara and Riven. [Ara also designed The Mark of the Star's gorgeous cover.]

8. This is probably a difficult question, but what do you think your favorite part of the plotting process is? World-building, character-sketching, outlining?

Hmmm. Considering that I never outlined the story and although I tried to character sketch, the characters always ended up being different than I intended, I will have to go with world-building. My friend Susanna and I created the world of Lithan'galow together and all the summer afternoons down by the lake and long winter evenings curled up with hot chocolate that we spent yakking away about Lithan'galow, drawing maps, and coming up with history... those are priceless memories and were definitely a ton of fun. I think our boundlessly imaginative Creator placed in all of us a deeply-rooted longing to create. Coming up with an entire world where your imagination can run wild and play with the very laws of physics and nature... it fulfills that longing and sparks a unique and special sort of joy in your heart.

9. What kind of scene do you find easiest to write: tragedy, comedy, or drama? Do you find writing dialogue or writing description/narrative to be easier?

Well, this has changed over the years. At first, dialogue was the bane of my existence and I couldn't write anything but soap-opera drama. Now as I've learned a bit more about writing and gotten more comfortable with it, I find dialogue to be my favorite. I love to write long conversations between my characters that never end up in the story but just help them bond and help me bond with them. Speech is how we express ourselves and writing a character's dialogue is like opening a window into their mind and their heart. As for type of scene, I love comedy but can't write it to save my life. So the easiest would definitely be tragedy - well, not tragedy so much as a scene of intense moral dilemma or conflicting emotions.

10. Is fantasy your genre of choice, or do you see yourself trying others in the future?

Since I'm a little too lazy to ever be completely bound by the laws of nature, I'll probably always have fantasy/sci-fi elements in my stories, but I can't see myself writing epic fantasy for a very long time, if ever again. Fantasy is definitely my favorite genre of book to read, but for writing, I've been yearning lately to get into something more realistic - I want to write a novel set in present-times and that stretches my limits as a writer. Perhaps a thriller or mystery.

11. What are you working on now?

I was working on a story called This World (a weird sort of dystopian sci-fi drama story that involves a good deal of politics and philosophy). But I've realized that I will not have time to finish the story (since I'm going back over and redoing the beginning) before I leave at the end of September for a six-month-long mission trip to South America. So in these next few weeks before I leave, I'm not really working on anything. Everything is put on hold until I return to the US in March. When I get back, though, I may write a sequel to The Mark of the Star, or I may be inspired to write an entirely different story. We'll see what life throws my way...

Thank you for listening and thank you muchly, kind Abigail, for letting me monologue on Scribbles and Ink Stains!

I enjoyed getting to interview you, Liz! Thanks so much for sharing about yourself and Mark of the Star.

The Mark of the Star will be available for purchase on Amazon in three or four weeks, and is now available on Lulu.com. For more information about Liz's writing, or just to read some highly enjoyable posts on anything from music to philosophy, head over to her blog Awake, pull up a chair, brew a cup of tea, and stay for a while. I assure you, you won't be disappointed.

August 4, 2011

Liebster Award

Last week Jenna, over at Literally YA, chose five blogs to award with the Liebster Blog Award. For those of you, like me, have absolutely no idea what that means, here is the point of the Liebster:

"The goal of the award is to spotlight up and coming bloggers who currently have less than 200 followers. The rules of the award are:

1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.
2. Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
4. Have faith that your followers will spread the love to other bloggers.
5. And most of all - have fun!"

Anyhow, I am very honored that one of Jenna's picks was Scribbles, and in keeping with the rules, I am going to pick out five of my own favorite, under-appreciated blogs to award. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

  1. The Penslayer - Jenny, the author of The Shadow Things, scribbles about writing, about reading, and about her faith, and her posts are wonderfully airy and lighthearted. Even the ones about how to write fight scenes. Two bonuses are that she always finds lovely pictures for her blog posts and that she has great tongue-in-cheek, geeky humor. What's not to love?
  2. Whisperings of the Pen - (No, Katie, I'm not just giving you this because you love my book.) This little nook-of-a-blog has the feel of a quiet corner of a library beside an open window, filled with stacks of books and a musty ink smell and washes of sunlight. I love the cheerfulness of Katie's writing, not to mention that the subjects are always a delight to the literary.
  3. Insanity Comes Naturally - If you want to die laughing, this is the spot for you. If you want to think on deep and weighty subjects, this is also the spot for you. You may protest that those things can't possibly go together, but I merely reply that that just goes to show that you haven't seen this blog - or met its authoress.
  4. The Lamb and the Lion - This blog is darling. The topics range from writing to faith to Hornblower to BBC Merlin, but still the best adjective to describe it is "darling." Just scoot over and see if you don't agree.
  5. The Poetry of Lost Things - This dreamy blog is almost entirely writing-focused, full of story-snippets (this gal can really write), character introductions, and book-love. Because no blog is complete without some book love.
There is at least one other that battled for a place in the list, but I think I'll leave that one to Jenny for her to award. If you want to take a peek at a new blog, I suggest a stroll around the block to one of these lovely places for tea and a bit of reading.

Note: The giveaway is still going on, so if you haven't joined yet, don't miss the opportunity!

August 1, 2011

Giveaway - The Soldier's Cross

Recently Scribbles and Ink Stains passed fifty followers. Fifty is a nice number, perfectly situated between zero and a hundred, and in honor of the event I have decided to host a giveaway of my historical novel The Soldier's Cross. Note that this does apply only to readers living in the United States, since shipping out of the country is just a wee bit expensive.

Historical Setting:
The Soldier's Cross
is set in the early 1400s, a full century before Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the doors of Wittenberg, but in a time where the first rumblings of the Reformation can be heard through the preaching of Jan Huss and the underground movement of the Lollards in England. It stands on the threshold of the Protestant break from the Roman Catholic Church, a time when the ignorance of the Dark Ages was just beginning to give way to curiosity and knowledge.

This was also a time of renewed conflict between England and France. Henry V, the new king of England, invaded northern France in mid-1415 in order to recapture the lands that he believed were rightfully his. He took the fortress of Harfleur in September and then moved on toward Calais, but on October 15 his tired army was met by the French for the most famous battle of the Hundred Years War: the Battle of Agincourt.

Plot:
A.D. 1415 - Fiona's world is a carefully built castle in the air, made up of the fancies, wishes, and memories of her childhood. It begins to crumble as she watches her brother march away to join in the English invasion of France. It falls to pieces when he is brought home dead. Robbed of the one dearest to her and alone in the world, Fiona turns to her brother's silver cross in search of the peace he said it would bring. But when she finds it missing, she swears she will have it and sets out on a journey across the Channel and war-ravaged France to regain it and find the peace it carries.

Characters:
To meet the characters of The Soldier's Cross, check out my Dramatis Personae post.

Want to win a copy of The Soldier's Cross? Here's how to enter:

Mandatory Entry
Follow Scribbles and comment to let me know (1 entry)

Additional Entries
Comment and tell me why you want to win The Soldier's Cross (1 entry)
Shout-out this giveaway on your blog, Twitter, or Facebook account (2 entries)
Buy Jennifer Freitag's The Shadow Things from her blog* (3 entries)

Post one comment for every thing you do: if you shout-out the giveaway, comment twice; if you buy Jenny's book, comment three times. Be sure to leave your email address so that I can contact you. Giveaway ends August 15. I will then choose two (2) winners using a random number generator, each to receive one free copy of The Soldier's Cross.


*NOTE: Copies of Jenny's The Shadow Things MUST be bought from her blog in order to be eligible for this giveaway.
 
meet the authoress
I am a writer of historical fiction and fantasy, scribbling from my home in the United States. More importantly, I am a Christian, which flavors everything I write. My debut novel, "The Soldier's Cross," was published by Ambassador Intl. in 2010.
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published writings






The Soldier's Cross: Set in the early 15th Century, this is the story of an English girl's journey to find her brother's cross pendant, lost at the Battle of Agincourt, and of her search for peace in the chaotic world of the Middle Ages.
finished writings






Tempus Regina:Hurled back in time and caught in the worlds of ages past, a Victorian woman finds herself called out with the title of the time queen. The death of one legend and the birth of another rest on her shoulders - but far weightier than both is her duty to the brother she left alone in her own era. Querying.
currently writing



Wordcrafter: "One man in a thousand, Solomon says / will stick more close than a brother. / And it's worthwhile seeking him half your days / if you find him before the other." Justin King unwittingly plunges into one such friendship the day he lets a stranger come in from the cold. Wordcount: 124,000 words

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