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Friday, November 21, 2014

My Beauty and the Beast



As many of you know, Rooglewood Press is holding a fairy-tale short story contest. Last year, they held the contest and created the amazing Five Glass Slippers collection focusing on re-tellings of the Cinderella story. This year, the focus is Beauty and the Beast.

I've mentioned this before, but Beauty and the Beast is my all-time favorite Disney movie. Belle is my favorite Disney princess. Tale as Old as Time is my favorite Disney song. Chip is my favorite Disney sidekick, you get it. I like the original fairy tale too, though I don't like it as much as the Disney version. So of course, I HAD to write a story for it.

Esprit de la Rose



The 'Belle' of Esprit de la Rose is a young woman named Cecilia Lester. Her mother has recently died, and she has coerced her pirate father to ferry her from America to England so she can start a new life. However, having a pirate father complicates the voyage. Cecilia's father robbed the Fee, a race of vengeful mermaids, and they seek him out to punish him. Despite her father's absence for most of her life, Cecilia can't bear to lose her only other family so she takes the punishment meant for her father upon herself. She finds herself aboard The Rose, a blood-red brigantine inhabited by dreadful omens, frightening monsters, and a devilishly suave captain. Cecilia must cut through all of the mysteries and lies surrounding the ship, to truly discover the spirit of the Rose.

Like most of my writing, the story initiated from my problems and feelings concerning both the Disney version and the original. I'll just go through them all, shall I?

My first problem with both versions is Belle's name. I mean... Belle. It means beautiful, and I know it refers to her inner beauty not her outer beauty, and I know both versions prove that... but still. What, did her parents get a good look at her when she was born and go "Well, at least she'll be beautiful" and name her Belle? Or did the parents intend for it to refer to inner beauty, but didn't have enough initiative to wrack their brains a bit harder and come up with a name to prove this? I dunno. It always sort of rubbed me the wrong way. 

I chose 'Cecilia' because it is Italian for 'does not know her own beauty'. I thought this really fit Cecilia's personality, and I also liked the idea of her having an Italian mother and an English father, so I went with it. 

Here's another problems I have... why on earth did that fairy curse the prince/Beast when he was 11? E-LEV-EN! What? Really? Seems rather pretentious and heartless to me. This was the foundations of the Fee, and it also inspired them to become one of the villains in the story. More on the Fee later.

This next idea wasn't so much of a problem, but a "what if?". I truly love what Disney did with the Beauty and the Beast story. I love the addition of Gaston, who replaced the sisters from the original tale as the villain. I love the themes Disney showed through the conflict between him, Belle, and The Beast; physical features and strength neither make you deserving of love nor the best. It's the heart that matters. I felt that Disney covered these themes well, so I was already planning on not including a Gaston character in the story. Instead, I wondered... what would the story have been like if the Beast had had his own agenda apart from Belle's? In the Disney and the original, the Beast is rather a passive character who does precisely what the fairy intended him to do. He changes and learns how to love and how to be lovable. This is wonderful, but I always wondered what would have happened if there was more conflict between him and Belle. This is a major part of my story. 

Not all of the angst that fueled this story derived directly from the Beauty and the Beast story. Instead, some of it came from Christians. 

For so long, I lived among (and was) a pharisee Christian. Oh, I understood God's grace, and I understood that it was for everyone. Yet, I still carried with me a Christianese version of the pig's mantra from Animal Farm. "All people are given grace, though some people deserve more grace than others." It makes about as much sense as the pig's belief, but I lived it, and it is depressing to see entire churches living it. A couple years ago, I realized that grace is neither deserved nor preserved by my own doing. God showed me that judging others was tantamount to judging myself because I am the same as everyone else. I have done nothing to deserve God's grace. I will never do anything to deserve God's grace. That's why it is grace. 

I discovered this, and I felt free. Free to be friends with whoever, free to be myself, and free to simply live on God's grace and not worry about perfection or the law or the "right" way to be a Christian. For some reason, after discovering this, I seemed to have forgotten that there was a point where I was judgmental and harsh with certain types of people. I seemed to have forgotten that those type of 'Christian' existed. So to suddenly run into a pharisee Christian was extremely shattering.

This pharisee was spiteful and rude, taking smug pride in his ability to uphold an agenda without giving a care as to the spiritual impact upon those just learning about Christ and His love. It was shocking and jarring and I wanted to scream at him because he was so obviously blind and it was so painful. And then I started noticing it again. The smugness, the pride, the sickening reek of entitlement permeating every crevice of every aspect of every Christian's life. "Don't read that book, don't be friends with those people, don't share your true feelings, don't take the first-step in a relationship, don't dress that way, don't watch that movie, don't be that excited, don't, don't, don't don't don't don't don't." These Christians, these people, have taken something as beautiful as the Gospel and twisted it into their own machination of self-obsession. It's foul, ugly, and beastly, and I used to be that way.

The Fee represent those so-called Christians. The Fee represent the people who feel entitled to grace. The Fee represent the girl I used to be. In a way, this story was almost cleansing to write. It felt good to write all those ugly thoughts I had once harbored and stick them in the mouth of a villain. It felt like I was finally getting rid of them. I still struggle with being judgmental, but life is so much better with grace. It's so much better knowing I can mess up and God will still love me. It's so much better knowing that others can mess up and God will still love them. It's just beautiful. 

Well... I didn't mean to turn this blog post into a rant, but I'm rather glad I did. I've been meaning to share that for a while, but I never could think of what sort of blog post I would put it under. Just so you know, this grace that I have discovered is part of the reason I haven't been blogging. I didn't want to write anything online until I was sure of it, you know? That doesn't make much sense, but I always felt like I was slogging through a slimy fog every time I sat down to write a blog post. Now that I have it settled, everything is so much easier now! 

Anyway, I can't wait to enter my story into the contest! Like everyone, I do rather hope I am one of the winners, but even if I'm not, I am SO looking forward to reading the 'Five Enchanted Roses' collection once it comes out. If I don't win, I'll probably find some other way of letting y'all read it. 

And I just want to give a shout out to my completely amazing English teacher, because she is editing my story and she is helping me SO much. I love her to pieces.

So are any of you entering the contest? What are your stories about? I'd love to hear about 'em!

If you'd like to get more of an idea about Esprit de la Rose, check out my Pinterest board! http://www.pinterest.com/KayceeBrowning/esprit-de-la-rose/

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Cold Never Bothered Me Anyway

You know your life is sad when the most exciting thing you can name that happened in the past week is the fact that you scored 98 on a college statistics test you were sure you were going to flunk.

Though you gotta admit, that is pretty awesome. 

I haven't been blogging much, and I really shouldn't be right now. I should probably be catching up on some much needed sleep, but I wanted to do something. So this is me... doing something... I did have an idea....

Oh yeah! I thought I'd compare the five main Hail Frost characters to Disney characters based on looks and personality!

(Obviously I'm functioning on an overdose of coffee and peanut butter, can you tell?)

Hail Frost would be...




Eric from the Little Mermaid! Eric looks just like a cartoon Hail, and they have some similar personality traits. They both like headstrong redheads, fluffy pets, and brooding in the dark. Oh, and both have been under a spell from an evil magical monarch. "That voice... I can't get it out of my head..."

Ember Flame would be...



Merida from Brave! And no... I totally did not pick Merida because of her hair. But seriously, they are similar. They are both stubborn to a fault, both like to have their own way, and both prefer to make the rules rather than follow the guidelines. Neither gives in to the pressure to become something they are not. "I'd rather DIE than be like you!"

Flake Frost would be...



Elsa from Frozen! Okay, okay, I know this one is a complete stretch! Not an obvious choice at all! But besides from both being blonde and having an affinity for braids (and...uh... ice powers), they struggle with the same fear; that of ruining the lives of their families. They keep questionable secrets in an attempt to protect those they love. "No, I'm just trying to protect you..."

Valin would be...



Flynn Rider from Tangled!... minus the hidden kindness and adorableness. Valin is a roguish, rascally young man with a twisted path who suddenly finds himself with enormous power he never expected. Unlike dear Eugene though, he would rather have power than love... "I've got dreams like you, no really, just much less touchy feely..."

And finally...

Dray Thorne would be...



Naveen from The Princess and the Frog! Naveen is quick-witted, suave, and manipulative, and Dray is too. Both love to crack jokes, often at others' expense, and both learn that sacrificing for love is far more redemptive than any amount of parties or fun. "What we want, what we need, it is all the same thing, yes?"

Well, that was fun! I'd be interested to see what Disney characters are like all of YOUR characters, so if you do a blog post like this, please tell me! Hopefully next time I'll be able to tell you a bit about my Beauty and the Beast short story. That should be fun!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Word Changers by Ashlee Willis

Is it really the end of October? Seriously???

Okay, wow, sorry guys. I don't know what happened there. Stress, I spose.

Anyway, today I would like to share a book that has been on my mind for quite awhile. This post is LOOONG overdue, but better late than never right? (I think I should just go ahead and make that my life motto. Sigh.)

The Word Changers by Ashlee Willis



The Word Changers by Ashlee Willis is a sweet and heartfelt tale following Posy, a fifteen year old who is struggling with her parents' deteriorating relationship, and Kyran, a prince and a brother. When Posy is pulled into a book she was reading and is forced to take the place of a lead Character, she and Kyran form a reluctant team and run away to discover the truth behind the story and the lies. They meet centaurs, fight monsters, battle themselves, and slowly learn more and more about the mysterious and seemingly absent Author.

I've already said this, but this book was so sweet. It read like a fairy-tale allegory. At times, the messages and themes felt very obvious, like an allegory, but then I would read the words closer and find a deeper meaning in the subtext, like a fairytale. That aspect of the book was a brilliant parallel to the actual story taking place within the words, where the characters, who know they are characters, are trying to find the meaning of their story and their words. It was like a fairytale Inception! Totally awesome. 

The characters themselves were likable and interesting. They reminded me of Christian from Pilgrim's Progress, someone you like and relate to, but is still distant like Cinderella. While in most fantasy novels this might be considered a bad thing, it worked quite well in The Word Changers, emphasizing the fantastical and fictional elements of the story. 

The world at first glance seemed like a classic fantasy world, but upon closer inspection, like everything else in the story, revealed a depth and uniqueness I have not seen before. There were classic fantasy creatures like centaurs, but also new ones that were easy to grasp and understand (I have a peeve about fantasy authors who invent WAYYY too many new animals for their world, so this was a pleasant aspect to me).

I don't want to give away any spoilers, but the themes and messages were sweet, true, and surprisingly deep. It is obviously a Christian novel, and yet, the messages are portrayed very gently and soothingly. Sometimes, though this is rarely the author's intention, I feel like I'm being hit in the head with a Bible during novels that are blatantly Christian. The themes came across, while obvious, in a very soft, lilting sort of way, like an old hymn or lullaby. 

The only part of the novel that was iffy to me was the romance between a fifteen year old and an eighteen year old. It was sweet and innocent, and it also fueled my curiosity and kept me turning pages to find out how it would work out, but it was still a bit odd at times. However, I'd say it's a pretty good book if that is my only complaint about it!

I've used this word so many times in the review, I suppose it is good enough for a one-word summary. Sweet. It was a very sweet novel that I am definitely going to encourage my younger sisters to read. Check it out on Amazon HERE.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

On Being a Senior

So apparently I'm a senior in high school.

It's a weird feeling.

On the one hand, I don't want to understand why people mistake me for an adult. I don't want to understand why I'm showing up at colleges to take classes this year. I don't want to understand why my mom is planning graduation already and why I just spent an entire Saturday writing and sending a college application. I just want to keep doing what it feels like I've always been doing: enough school to be interesting and not bothersome, visiting with friends, getting dragged out of my room by my mom to do chores, and a whole lot of writing.

And on the other hand, I am so ready to be done with this part of my life. I'm so ready to move on.

I feel like I'm in a weird vortex that lies somewhere between boredom and contentment. Sometimes, I think I'm lazy, but I don't think that's true. I hate doing nothing. But sometimes, doing the same thing over and over again, even if it is required, feels like doing nothing. I'm tired of thinking about my high school transcript. I'm tired of applications. I'm tired of standardized tests. I'm tired of living at home.

Yet, sometimes I wish it could stay this way forever. I love reading to my sisters everyday. I love being free to write and edit and shop at Barnes and Noble on a whim. I love joking with my brother about anything obnoxiously serious or important. I love babysitting. I love the pool behind my house. I love the way my dachshunds prance when they know they deserve a treat. I love my life.

It's a paradox. I don't like paradoxes outside of writing and Doctor Who.

Do all seniors feel this way? I've asked my friends and many of them feel the same as I do. So maybe this post feels a bit angsty and cliche, and I'm sorry about that, but I really am confused.

Funny, in real life, I'm not one to talk about my feelings. Yet on the Internet, I basically spill my guts every time I open blogger. Maybe I should just start a diary. Geez.

All my teenage woes aside, I suppose the purpose of this post is to explain why updates are going to probably be a bit shorter for a while. I'm still getting used to my schedule, but I should have time to write a blog post every week. I'm trying to work in time for writing and editing first, so I'm sorry when I inevitably fail to blog every week.

Next post is a review for a fantabulous novel titled The Word Changers by Ashlee Willis. This review is long overdue, but I'm still really looking forward to writing it. I love writing happy reviews. They make me happy.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

5 Ways Writers Can Use Fanfiction



From what I have noticed, fanfiction tends to be looked down upon by the majority of writers. I suppose this is understandable. A lot of fanfiction is exactly what the stereotypes say it is: poor writing, poor characters, poor plot, poor everything... but it doesn't have to be that way. Writing fanfiction has helped me become a better reader and a better writer. Here are 5 ways it has helped me.

1. It helps me focus.

Let's be honest, writing is hard. Writing requires you to be constantly creating, but also constantly critiquing. It requires constant thought, yet you also have to simply feel and not let your thoughts get in the way. And sometimes, it's just too overwhelming. That's when writers get writer's block. Yet, everyone says that the best way to break out of writer's block is to write. However, my writing during writer's block is always terrible. I don't want to write words I will just delete on an original work. So I don't write. Which just prolongs the block. It's an unending cycle...

...until fanfiction, that is. When writing fanfiction, I don't have to be as creative or thoughtful. The worlds and the characters are already there for me. That doesn't mean I get to be lazy though. I have to work my mind in another way. I have to think critically about the characters, setting, plot, and original author. And yet, there is no stress because I'm never going to attempt to publish this, I might not even edit it, it's just relaxing. Yet, I'm still practicing my writing and I'm still thinking. Now, my writer's block disappears in no time!

2. It makes me a better reader.

I touched on this in the above paragraph, but I would like to emphasize it. To be a writer, you must also be a reader. And not just a casual reader, you have to read lots and lots of books from many different genres. You have to be critical reader, so you can learn what you should and shouldn't do in your own writing. Yet, you also have to imagine yourself as a reader reading your book. It's a lot to remember.

Writing fanfiction has helped me be a better reader because I have to dig deep for answers. I have to truly think about the characters. Why would he do that? What made him say that? Why does he word his sentences that way? In my fanfiction, I try to emulate the original author's writing style while still staying true to my own. For example, J.K. Rowling has an obsession with adverbs (the only aspect of her writing that bugs me). Should I use more adverbs when writing my story or should I not? I choose to not, because it irritates me. However, she also has a simplistically beautiful way of describing people. I try to incorporate that into my fanfiction. I might not have noticed either of these details if I weren't paying extra close attention to her writing because of fanfiction.

3. It can get instant feedback from readers.

I don't know this one too well because I have only published a fanfiction one-shot. However, I have seen it be true for other writers and it did happen for me, though on a much smaller scale. On fanfiction sites, there are usually ways to instantly comment on a story or chapter. Many readers give helpful and kind critiques that focus on simply one aspect of your story- like your writing, or plot, or a single chapter. This can be an invaluable resource for writers looking to improve. Of course, like all critiques, you ought to think about what the readers say and decide whether you believe it or not. Just because someone on the Internet said it doesn't necessarily make it true.

4. It can be a great marketing tool.

This one goes along with my third point, but fanfiction can be a great marketing opportunity. If a reader enjoyed your story, they might go and check out your original work. Many sites won't let you promote within your story, but they don't usually have a problem with you promoting your original work in your profile. If your story is good enough, readers will click on your profile to find more of your work and who knows? They might become your new biggest fans!

5. And finally... it's FUN!

Fanfiction is just fun. It's sad to me that so many fanfiction writers simply re-write the same old stories. It's sad that fanfiction has become a place simply for fans to vent or change the story to fit their whims, without paying attention to the depth and complexity contained within that story. It's sad that many writers look down on fanfiction writing. Because not only can it accomplish the four points listed above, but it is also extremely enjoyable. Don't get me wrong, writing my original writing is the most amazing thing in the world, but then, sometimes it isn't. Sometimes it gets stressful and annoying and hard. That's fine. It's an aspect of it. But I prefer to keep it fun as much as possible, and relieving some stress into fanfiction writing helps with that.

So that's my two-cents. What do y'all think? Have you ever written a fanfiction? Would you ever write a fanfiction?

Friday, August 22, 2014

For the First Time in Frozen... Not

This post was created from boredom and snarkiness. It serves no real purpose and only exists because I was sick of reading and re-reading various ways of greeting someone in Spanish. You have been warned. This post is mostly to satisfy the Disnerd inside of me that gets irritated when I hear people say certain things about Frozen.

"There was a handsome villain for the first time in Frozen!"



Not.



"Frozen was the first Disney movie to show how girls really wake up!"



Not.



"Frozen was the first to have a love interest that was not the typical 'prince charming' handsome."



Not.



"Okay, okay, but it was the first Disney PRINCESS movie to do that!"



Umm... how about not.



"Frozen was the first Disney movie about sisters!"



Not.



"Frozen was the first Disney movie that had both the hero and the villain sing in the same song."



Not.



"Frozen was the first movie to include a song about self-freedom and finding yourself!"



Not.



"Elsa was the first Disney princess to show no interest in getting married."



Not.



"Kristoff was the first prince to actually ask permission before kissing the princess."



Well... actually that might be the first. Unless this counts.

"You must KISS me." "Excuse me?!?!"

"Elsa was the first Disney princess to become a queen."



Not.



"Frozen is the first Disney movie to show that the first guy you fall for might not be Prince Charming."



Not.



"Kristoff is the first blond Disney 'prince' in the Disney princess franchise."



Not.



"Anna is the first clumsy princess."



Not.



"That was just because she had never walked before!"



Still not.



And finally...
"Frozen is the first Disney movie to teach girls that they don't need a man to save them!"
NOT


So Frozen might not be as original as it at first seems. However, the beauty of Frozen is that it has all of this in ONE movie, and it's a movie that is enjoyable and not preachy. Personally, I think nearly all Disney movies have some aspect of beauty and truth in them. They all speak to the viewers in different ways. That's why I love Disney.

So what's your favorite Disney movie? Did I miss any"not the first" Frozen tidbits? :)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Blurry Line

via Pinterest

I think I've mentioned this before, but a lot of the aspects of 'Ember Flame' and 'Hail Frost' come from the vortex of snarkiness that has taken over my brain.

Little, random things that irritate me like unrealistically chivalrous heroes or phones vibrating in the middle of the night find their ways into my novel. Obnoxious gossip overheard at a mall or anger towards a sibling or my phobia-like fear of crabs all make it into the rough draft.

But it's not all bad stuff. I also include my fascination with watching a fire burn out, or the smell of pine trees in fall, or my aspiration for the sibling I wish I could be in my novel.

Basically, thoughts and experiences I've had usually morph into new imagery as I write. Sometimes I do it purposefully, other times I notice it later. I think all writers do this to some degree. And I think all writers should do this... but how far should we take it?

For instance, there is a woman that I have a been angry at for years. It's a righteous anger which she absolutely deserves. I've contemplated writing her into a novel. But should I? Would that be acting on my anger in a sinful way? Since I feel the need to be secretive about it, I'm going to take that as a 'yes' and refrain from writing her into a story that gets published. I think it's okay to vent my feelings in a private diary though. I also think it's okay to take the anger I feel towards her and reflect it in my characters when they are put in similar situations. This will make it more realistic since I have truly felt what I'm writing about.

You see what I mean? There is a blurry line between what experiences you should draw on and which ones you shouldn't draw on. Sometimes, I struggle to find a balance. My writing comes so much easier to me when I am emotionally invested in what I am writing, and I find it easier to throw myself into the story-world when I have already lived that world. And yet, I have to remember that using a pen as a sword is not how God intended me to use writing. I have to be careful to keep whatever I'm feeling towards someone relegated to my characters and not to my desire to "get even".

The 'Ellie Sweet' books by Stephanie Morrill helped me quite a lot. In the novels, Ellie is a teen writer who vents her feelings by translating her real-life into a fictional novel. Only, when the novel gets published, everything becomes a lot less fictional. I highly suggest these books for any teen writer gal, even if you (like me) aren't typically a fan of contemporary fiction. They helped me decide how I wanted to handle the blurry line between reality and fiction.

So what about y'all? Do you struggle with staying on the white side of the blurry line? Or do you not have this problem at all? (I dunno, maybe it's an angsty teenager thing) Have a great week! :)

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Quiet Lives

Have you ever had one of those moments where life just got so overwhelming you froze? Or cried for seemingly no reason? Or shut yourself in your room and built a wall around your soul  so strong that not even reading or writing could penetrate it? Where you couldn't even find the energy to turn the page of a novel because it was just too hard?

Perhaps I'm being a bit melodramatic. Let me start over.

Hey guys. *smiles sheepishly* I've been gone for more than a month. I really missed y'all.

Why have I been gone for a month? Well... several reasons. 

Firstly, Hail Frost and Rooglewood's new contest. My summer has been fairly busy, so all the free writing time has been spent working on either editing Hail Frost or writing a 'Beauty and the Beast' short story. More on this in a bit.

Secondly, social life. This seems like the first summer where I've actually gone and got myself a social life. (whaaaat? I know right.) I've got amazing friends who I've been hangin' with quite a lot, which was good and calmed me down from the other craziness that's been going on.

Lastly, I think I had Senioritis. Yep. In the middle of the summer before my senior year even started. Thinking about the next schoolyear caused an earthquake (brainquake?) to erupt in my mind. Mom would ask me questions about this-or-that college or this-or-that subject. And I would just kinda blink and stare stupidly at her, or more often, say something rude and childish because I just wanted my head to stop hurting. (sorry Mom...)



I feel like I've grown up quite a bit in the last month. Everything just got so overwhelming. I took a break, and I'm glad I did, even though I thought about y'all every day. You know, I always make fun of movies like 'Thor', where the hero drastically changes over the course of a few days. I sit there in the theater, stuffing popcorn in my mouth, and internally chuckle over how that could never happen. It takes years to change a person's character so completely, especially if that character is a thousand year-old "god" with the angst of a teenager. 

And yet... there's some truth to it. Now, I've not changed that much. I don't think I could lift Mjolnir or fight the Destroyer or even look fabulous in a red cape. But I feel a bit more mature. A bit more confident. 

I wrote a blog post awhile back called 'Thinking about College'. In it, I reflected on how I was going to trust God with the entire college-situation, and everything after it. That hasn't changed, but I think I learned something rather odd about myself.

There are people I know who sit back and say with confidence, "God will take care of it", "God will help me through this", "God will never leave me nor forsake me", "God has a plan for all of us" etc. And yet, they literally don't do anything to fix their situations. They just sit there and wait for God. And I'm just here like, "Yeah, sure, He'll be there. Why don't you get off your butt and go to Him? Why should He help you when you aren't even making an effort to follow His plan? Why are you relying on your heart when God gave you a brain as well?" 

I've never found anything wrong with my response to these types of people. I still don't, really. They do need to make an effort instead of waiting for a magic genie to fix all of their problems.

And yet, like always, I've discovered that I have flaws in my way of life as well. I trust God with my life after college, absolutely. I trust Him with my college plans. But I haven't been trusting him with my life. I don't mean my future. I mean my day-to-day, should I have cereal or yogurt?, oh my gosh, I have so much work to do!, my siblings are so obnoxious, I'm such a failure I can't do anything, everyday life. Instead of sitting around and waiting on God, I decided to limit him to the vague, foggy future that even I can't fix, while I attempt to fix everything that comes at me each and every day.

Ladies and gentlemen, that is not a good way to live. In fact, I wouldn't even call it living. More like juggling. On a tight rope. Surrounded by laughing clowns and constant distractions with a stress headache just a miscalculation away. 

Get the log out of my own eye, much?



1 Thessalonians 4: 11-12 says, "Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody."

This verse never jumped out at me until this month. I'd always assumed "quiet life" meant "don't try to be famous." Check, got that one. I thought "mind your own business" meant "don't get involved in other people's drama". Done that. I thought "work with your hands" meant "don't be a lazy bum". Well... I mean, I only procrastinate some of the time... And the "don't be dependent on anybody"? Obviously, it meant "don't end up on welfare". Yep! Looks like I was good on this verse! Now onto Proverbs 16:18...

Maybe some of those interpretations are right in some ways, but this verse has come to mean so much more to me. God can use people who are famous. If someone were famous, He would want him or her to use that blessing as a ministry. I think "quiet life" means something else, something a bit more personal that social status. 

I think it means peace. When I became a Christian, Jesus gave me a peace that passes all understanding. And that doesn't just mean peace in the knowledge that death can never hurt me. It means that life can never hurt me either. It means Jesus is there to help me through my day. It means He is there to own my day. I don't need to freak out over deadlines and failures and school and college and my life. He gives me peace so I can have a quiet life, a life focused on Him and His plans, not me and my insecurities. 

"Mind your own business" doesn't necessarily mean "avoid drama" and it certainly doesn't mean "keep to your own life, don't get involved with others'". It means to focus on the things that matter. I don't need to make sure I use super cool writing techniques and stylistic literary devices in 'Hail Frost'. It means I need to be honest. I need to write what God would have me write, even if, perhaps, the story would be more "stylistic" if I did something else. 

"Work with your hands" means that I need to do the job God has for me today. I don't need to worry about what college I can be of most help to God in. I don't need to worry about what missionary trips I should go on during my summer between school years. It means I follow His plan today and let Him worry about tomorrow. I let Him guide me as I struggle with editing or plotting a short story or hanging out with my siblings. I let Him work through me.

And after all this, when my life is quiet and I mind my own business and I work with my hands, I won't be dependent on anyone. I'll be wholly dependent on God, and I'll feel more free than ever.



I'm not there yet, but I know what it feels like and I can only imagine what it will be like when every second of every day is filled with heavenly peace. Maybe I won't feel that until after I die, but I know that I can at least trust God with each day of my life and simply focus on His plan for that day.

So yes. Thor learns that being a jerk is totes not cool and that a little humility never hurt anyone. I learned that I have no control over my daily life and that God needs to own each and every aspect of today. Not bad, if I do say so myself.

Well... now that I have only translated my soul onto a keyboard to blast out into cyberspace... let me share some updates!



I'm currently writing a short story for Rooglewood's new contest (which I encourage you to check out). It's a Beauty and the Beast retelling, and it's been fun to write so far! It's one of the first short stories I've ever written, so I don't think it will win, but it's been good practice and 'Beauty and the Beast' is my favorite fairy tale and Disney movie so I just had to join in the fun!



'Hail Frost' is a little jerk. I'm serious, this book does NOT want to be edited (Or maybe I'm just a perfectionist. Whatever). I love the story so much. It's a rather personal tale. Of all the characters I've ever invented, Hail, Ember, and Flake are probably the three that are the most "me", so this story feels especially vulnerable. Perhaps that is why it is taking so long. I don't know. All I can say is this- when I said in 'Ember Flame' that it would come out in 2014, I obviously had no idea what junior and senior year would entail, nor how much I would grow to love this novel. I'm still hopeful it will be published in 2014, but if it's not, I promise to have lots of freebies to hand out as apologies. :) 



Fanfiction. Seriously yo, if writing "real" stuff gets too stressful, write fanfiction. It's extremely relaxing because you don't have to worry about editing or styles or cliches. You can just write. It's also cool because you can experiment with different writing techniques without fear of ruining an entire novel. AND, you get an excuse to spend time seriously obsessing analyzing your particular fandom. There are no cons to this. For example, I'm writing an HP fanfiction that involves three different timelines and storylines that all interconnect even though the characters never meet. I would have never attempted something like this in an original fiction, but I can in fanfiction. (That sounds way more professional than what actually happened. Actually, I couldn't decide between writing Marauders Era, Next Gen, or AU because of Snape feels... so I sorta went with everything... #lol #yolo #ihatehashtags #turntopage394)

I've got a lot of post ideas that have been coming to me over the month. Totes ma goats excited. (My friend May likes to say that. She designed Ember Flame, and she is always saying stuff like "That is totes ma goats cray-cray". And she can do it without sounding dumb. She's way cooler than me, for seriously). I've got a way overdue review for a fantabulous novel coming up. I've got some thoughts on HP. I've got some thoughts on superheroes. I've got some thoughts on world-building. I've got some thoughts on dude characters (I did a strong female character post awhile back, and I'm for gender equality, so guys get a post too). And I've got a blog post about writing workshops. Basically, be prepared for a lot of blog posts!

*sigh* Long post, I know. I'm so glad to be back! What have y'all been up to? I missed you so much! *hugs everyone*

P.S. Guardians of the Galaxy people. GO SEE IT NOW!!!! IT'S AWESOME AND HILARIOUS AND GLORIOUSLY CHEESY! Need more incentive? Zoe Saldana. Chris Pratt. Animated raccoon. GO SEE IT!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Liebster Award!



I've been nominated for the Liebster Award! Thank you so much for nominating me, Adele! :)

Here are ze rules:



Eleven facts about me.... hmmm....

1. I don't get scared easily, but I am terrified of crabs. I hate the things. They are nasty, evil, disgusting creatures that I am almost positive came into existence after Adam and Eve ate that fruit. They are like slimy sea spiders. Ew.

2. I have two dachshunds named Derby and Charlie. I love them very much!

3. Elephants are my favorite animals. :)

4. I'm vegetarian. And it's not because I'm a PETA fan or anything. When I was two, I simply refused to eat any kind of meat, be it chicken nuggets or hamburgers or seafood.

5. I was put in therapy for the above reason when I was seven. My mom wanted to see if I actually had an aversion to meat, or if I was simply being stubborn. Yes, I am that stubborn, so her concerns were not unfounded.

6. 'Ember Flame' is basically a book filled with subtle (and not-so-subtle) sassy slights on other fictional works I have problems with. For example, a certain author I used to read had this thing about making his female characters either damsels in distress or have some sort of big "sin problem", and he always made his (male) heroes overly chivalrous and perfect. So I made Ember a sassy brat and did nothing to fix that, and I made Hail probably one of the most un-gentlemanly knights ever. Ha. Take that, famous author who will probably never read 'Ember Flame'! *smug smile*

7. I can be rather immature, as you might have surmised.

8. I'm okay with that though, because my favorite Mistborn quote is, "I've always been quite confident in my immaturity."

9. I love to babysit. I've been babysitting consistently ever since I was twelve. Unfortunately, school and *shudders* social events have made me have to really cut back on babysitting. There's only certain families I babysit now, and I get sad every time I see kids I used to babysit getting so big and grown-up.

10. Just realized I never told you how the vegetarian story ended. Turns out, I have overly sensitive senses, so meat seriously does upset me. I also can't play videogames very well, and certain sounds bother me more than they do normal people. I think I also have a depth-perception issue that comes from over sensitive eyesight, which made learning how to park a car really fun. :/ (Don't worry, I've got the hang of it now!)

11. When I'm in college, I want to study abroad in the UK. That would be epic.

So there's the eleven facts about me. Now onto the questions...

1. What are your goals for the future? Rate them from most important to least important!
Oh, gosh, this is tough. I want to write a screenplay that becomes a movie (that does well, mind you). I want to write and publish lots and lots of novels. I want to graduate college. I want to finish Hail Frost. I want to graduate high school. Aaaand, I want to go downstairs and finish my mocha frappe that I left on the counter.

2. Do you think you will be blogging 20 years from now?

As long as there are blogs, I shall be blogging! Where would the world be without my words of wisdom? (Check out that alliteration, people!)

3. If you could have any superpower, what would it be? Why?

I'm not quite sure where this came from, but I think I would enjoy turning myself invisible and making a map that tells me where people are in a building. That would be quite fun.

4. Would you rather be poor but happy, or be rich but sad?

Poor but happy! (I'm a writer, so those adjectives are kinda in the job description...)

5. What is your favorite book in the whole world at this moment?

Lord of the Rings! But I am also quite enjoying Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

6. THINK FAST! THERE'S A PURPLE PEGASUS FLYING TOWARDS YOU. WHAT DO YOU DO?

I climb a tree and jump on him, hoping he's a friendly purple pegasus!

7. What is the dumbest injury you have received?

I've never actually been to the hospital for any injuries, but one time my toe hurt all day because I knocked over a bottle of shampoo in the shower and it landed on my foot...

8. Have you ever watched Frozen? If you have, what is your favorite song from that movie?

Why yes, I have indeed seen Frozen (an embarrassing number of times...)! My favorite song is probably 'For the First Time in Forever Reprise'. Speaking of songs and Frozen, I seriously wish Kristoff could have sung more. I know,  I know, it would have been out of character, but wouldn't it be hilarious to see Anna and Kristoff sing a version of Love is An Open Door? Like, Anna is there singing her heart out, and Kristoff just sort of shakes his head, looking confused...

9. Cats or dogs?

DOGS! DOGS! DOGS!

10. Favorite sport?

Tennis!

11. Why did you start blogging?

*puts on hipster glasses* Because writing a diary was too mainstream. I was blogging before it was cool. 

I nominate... everyone reading this post! Be sure to link your blog in the comment section so I can go see your post! Or you could just answer the questions in the comments, if you like. :)

Now for my eleven questions...

1. Do you have any pet peeves? If so, what are they?

2. What book made you the angriest reading it? (It can be anger directed at a particularly evil character, or anger at an author for something, or anger because you disliked the book, etc.)

3. What is your favorite childhood memory?

4. What is your favorite movie and why is it your favorite?

5. What do you think of social media?

6. Cake or ice cream?

7. Do you think it is better to dream big or to be realistic?

8. What was the last thing/joke/situation etc. that made you laugh so hard your side hurt?

9. What is your favorite weather?

10. What would be your ideal vacation?

11. If you could meet anybody in the world, who would you meet?

And there you have it folks! This was a lot of fun! :D


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Just catchin' up

Hi everyone. I apologize for the lack of posts recently and also for the shortness of this post. I'm currently at the beach right now and I don't have much time, but I felt like I ought to catch up with y'all because you're awesome.

Sooo, yeah, how's it goin'? Life is pretty good for me. I'm at the beach and I'm tan so life is good.

I've currently been working on a short story for Rooglewood Press' new fairytale contest. Last year, they hosted the Five Glass Slippers contest which, even though I did not enter, I had a lot of fun watching. This year, it's a 'Beauty and the Beast' contest. When I saw that, I basically squealed, danced around the room a bit, then paced all over my house brainstorming for the next week. I'm having a lot of fun writing it so I encourage everyone to join in the fun! You can find out more about it HERE.

This next paragraph is for my good friend Miss Jenelle. I"M READING HARRY POTTER AND I READ THE FIRST THREE BOOKS IN TWO DAYS AND NOW I CAN'T STOP AND OHMYGOSH DUDLEY AND DRACO AND THE DURSLEYS NEED TO DIE AND I HAVE A WEIRD LIKING FOR SNAPE AND I DON'T KNOW WHY AND I LET MYSELF WATCH THE TRAILER FOR THE SORCERER'S STONE AND IT LOOKS SO GOOD BUT I'M NOT GOING TO WATCH THE MOVIES UNTIL I FINISH THE BOOKS BUT I NEED THE FOURTH BOOK ON MY KINDLE AND THE INTERNET IS BAD HERE HELP MEEEEEEEE!!!!!

Okay, I'm done. I think...

No wait.

Please oh please tell me they don't do the whole Ron barfing up slugs thing in the movie. I gagged reading that. Ew.

Now I'm done! Back to our regularly scheduled programming...

Series 3 of Sherlock is on Netflix! *dances* And it also has some super cool behind-the-scenes stuff. *dances some more*

Hail Frost is going well. I just had this huge idea that is kinda changing the direction the story originally went, but it's way cooler now.

Aaaaand, I believe that is all! Hopefully, I'll have more time a bit later. I have a world-building post and a review coming up soon. Hope you all are doing well!


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

"My name is Coal. Coal Flame." "And you laughed at MY name!"

Yes, yes, I know it has been more than a week since my last world-building post. I think it's because I said I was actually going to try and post once a week. I jinxed it. Silly me.

But here I am now to bless the world with another fantasy worldbuilding post! Aren't you excited?

This post is going to start a sub-series in the world-building series. Originally, this post was going to be about language. I started writing it, but I quickly realized it was going to need more than one post. Language is such an enormous part of culture, after all, that it deserves a lot of time. It can get rather complicated (or maybe it's just my weird brain that makes it that way. I mean, if your fantasy characters are speaking English, do I call the language 'English' or do I think of another name for it? But what if my characters are not speaking English, yet I write the book in English as if they were and never told the reader otherwise? What if I did tell the reader? Do I have to then write the book in omniscient point of view to explain the 'translation' or what???), so I decided to start with something simple. Names.

I wrote a post about names a year or so ago, but that post was more about possibilities on naming characters. Now, I'm focusing on how names can impact fantasy cultures and worlds.

Names can show different cultures

via Pinterest

Once you start writing, it isn't long before you hear the 'show, don't tell' rule. Names can help a LOT with following this rule. If you design a system of naming for the different cultures in your novel, than once the reader picks up on it, it will subtly inform your reader as to what race or culture a character is from. For instance, in Lord of the Rings, if a character showed up named Daisy, I would likely assume the character was a Hobbit. However, if a character named Amoniel was introduced, I would assume the character was an Elf. If I were an extreme nerd (cough, cough) I could possibly even tell if the Elf was Sindarin or Quenya, which would also add to my presuppositions about the character.

Having different naming techniques for different cultures can also help the reader keep the different storylines and cultures straight. For example, in Brandon Sanderson's 'Mistborn' trilogy, by the third book there are many different characters doing different quests in different countries. Having a character named 'TenSoon' who is in his country where people have names like 'OreSeur' and 'KanPaar' helped me remember where TenSoon was and what he was doing.

Names can build character



My parents had a very specific formula when choosing my name and my sibling's names. All of the names had to start with 'K', they had to sound good with 'Browning', they had to have Gaelic roots since we have Scottish backgrounds, and my parents had to like the meaning of the name. I'm glad they did that. It really is shocking how often we live up to our names. 'Kaycee' means liveliness, creativity, and courage depending on which baby naming site you're on. Funny, those three things are probably the aspects I try most to live up to. I try to be loving and kind and selfless etc. too, but for some reason, because certain traits are in my name, I find myself pushing for them most. I don't know if that's a good or bad thing, but it is an aspect of my character, which means that it could be an aspect in a fictional character's personality.

I love what Jenelle Schmidt did in her novel, 'Second Son'. The country Llycaelon has a "rite of passage" type thing. At the end, the man or woman has the option to change his or her name. The people of Llycaelon put a lot of weight on names and meanings. Two of the main characters change their names, and the choices in their name meanings add so much to their characters. They were such pivotal moments in the novel, that I stopped picturing the characters as teenagers and started picturing them as adults at that point. I thought it was a very effective and creative way to show (not tell) the complex changes in character.

And last but not least...

My OYAN is showing... :P

Names need to be easily identified. This isn't exactly a world-building tip, but if you follow it, it will help make your world more realistic. Don't create names of people, places, or things if you can't pronounce them. When I see an unpronounceable name, I tend to skim it and assign random gibberish to the name in my head. I don't take the time to identify or discern the culture or thought behind it. The name Cassa Outcast is way more compelling to me than Xxanthoses Bardelheim, even if both names have the same amount of thought behind him. Long, difficult-to-say names take away from the story, and subsequently, the world within the story. If you are unsure if a name you have picked for a character is hard to pronounce or not, ask someone else, preferably a non-fantasy reader, to read it out loud. If they read it wrong or say they can't, you should probably change it. There's a reason everybody can immediately recognize names like Bilbo Baggins and Harry Potter.

So there you go! If you thought this was confusing, just wait until you read my next post on language! >:)

*Title is from Ember Flame by moi. :P