Monday, June 30, 2014

On Writing Journeys

A writing tip gleaned from C. S. Lewis.

The Time Captives trilogy has been full of writing struggles for me, from character development to worldbuilding. One of these struggles was the writing of journeys. They should be long, who ever heard of a fantasy country it took two hours to cross? But just journeying on and on with nothing really happening gets really boring really quick.

I was trying to figure out how to write journeys accurately. I researched how far someone could walk in a day, and didn't get a definitive answer, but it was enough for me to realize Calhortea must be tiny. It barely took the Hubbards any time at all to reach Calhortz in the first draft. It needed to be a bigger world. Yet, I didn't want to do like Month of the Novel and write "So they walked and they walked and they walked and they walked and they walked and they walked and they walked and they walked..." And I had that "show, don't tell" principle in my head.

A few months ago, I had a bunch of sewing projects. I like listening to audiobooks while I sew, otherwise I'm bored, so I got out my Focus on the Family Radio Theater Narnia audiobooks, and randomly picked The Horse and His Boy. If you're at all familiar with the story, you know that it is full of journeying. I have read and listened to that book millions of times, but that time something hit me. It skips a lot of the traveling!

The book "shows" the beginning of the journey, how tired and sore Shasta is, etc. then sets up their system for traveling (every other night Shasta went into a village and met Bree on the other side). Then it tells that this went on for weeks and weeks. It doesn't get to "showing" again until the night they meet Aravis and Hwin. Cool, isn't it? It just skips the boring parts of the journey where nothing important happened. And it's okay. It's even preferable.

I noticed this in DragonSpell by Donita K. Paul as well. It sets up what it's like to travel through the Bogs, then just says it went on for however long it took for something to actually happen.
It just comes down to knowing when to show and when to tell. There are times for both, and a story wouldn't be complete with the omission of one or the other.

There's always stuff to tell and stuff to skip and skim over. As E. Nesbit wrote in The Story of the Treasure Seekers, "The best part of books is when things are happening....This is why I shall not tell you in this story about all the days when nothing happened....So I shall just tell you the nice interesting parts--and in between you will understand that we had our meals and got up and went to bed, and dull things like that. It would be sickening to write all that down, though of course it happens."

So now I don't worry about just saying they traveled for so long. Something doesn't have to happen every minute, and it's okay to skim over the weeks of a journey where nothing really happens.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Why I'm Not Going To College

I know, crazy statement, right? I graduated from high school a month ago next week, after having been homeschooled K-12, and so of course the question is "What next?" Actually, I've been getting that for years, mostly in the form of "Where are you going to college?" My answer has long been "I'm not." It's not because I just want to sit around and do nothing that I'm not going to college. In fact, the reason I didn't post anything last week was because I had a job at a Parent Practicum for Classical Conversations looking after the 3-5 year olds in the play camp while their parents attended the Practicum. I'm not going to college because for me personally it would be a colossal waste of time and money.

I'm not saying college is bad for everyone. If you want to be a doctor, by all means, go to college, medical school, and whatever else is required to practice medicine. I certainly don't want someone operating on me who can't tell the liver from the gall bladder. But what I do say is to know what you are going to do and then get the training you need for it. Don't go out and get a college degree in education and then decide you want to repair air condition units. Neither profession is bad (my dad is in education and my uncle repairs air condition units and has been able to tell us what is wrong with ours before we even have someone out to look at it), but there's no sense in training for one and doing the other.

What am I going to do? Nothing that requires a college degree. Seriously. All I'd be gaining from college would be a useless slip of paper and the opportunity to argue with a bunch of liberal professors while wasting years of my life and creating a student loan debt to drag around the rest of my life. "What about the college experience?" I've definitely heard that one. And I can truly say, "No thanks, I'll do without and gladly." If I felt the need for a college degree, I would go the College Plus route and CLEP out of as many classes as possible and finish online. It saves both time and money. I know people who have successfully earned a degree that way, and it worked for them.

How am I planning to occupy my time? Of course, I'll still be helping around the house with the chores, learning to do important things like grocery shop well, and cook with more variety (congressional campaigns don't leave much time for that, especially when you don't like to cook in the first place).

Naturally, I'll continue to write and publish books. Seeing how I started that even before my last year of high school, I don't really think a college degree is necessary. I haven't learned everything there is to know about writing and publishing and marketing and everything else that goes along with it, but I don't need a college professor to teach me that. To be honest, I've learned more about writing this past year from following K. M. Weiland's blog Helping Writers Become Authors than I did in the rhetoric course I took for school. Any research I need to do, I can do on my own. I have a library card, a driver's license and access to my family's old minivan, and also a computer with internet access. What more do you need? I always remember things I want to learn better than things I have to anyway.

I'll be continuing to babysit. I really love taking care of kids. Call me crazy, but I loved playing with a roomful of 3-5 year olds at the Practicum all day, three days in a row. Sure there we
re challenges, I was dealing with kids after all, but my thought afterwards was, "I wonder if I can do this again next year?" I've been babysitting since my early teens, so nothing has changed there, except that I have more experience and don't freak out when kids misbehave anymore.

I am also a self-taught seamstress. With a little direction from my mom, a lot of trial and error, a few desperate internet searches, and a talk with the seamstress at Colonial Williamsburg, I have learned how to make well-constructed, professional-looking garments. The majority of my clothes are ones I've made myself. I don't have big plans for this skill, seeing how it is very easy for me to get sick of it, but I have in the past sewn many things for pay and taught a girl private sewing lessons . . . all without a college degree.

Then there's music. Yes, for this I've had more actual instruction than figuring it out on my own, but I did learn some piano on my own and I wouldn't have learned violin as quickly as I did if I hadn't been disciplined about practicing. (Not that I'm really all that self disciplined, I just was about violin.) I learned those instruments through private lessons and practice at home. I currently have one violin student and want to take on more, in both violin and piano. All I need to be able to teach is to know the instrument and be able to pass on what I know to others. Our piano teacher doesn't have a degree in music. What happened was that when she was a teenager we said something like, "Hey, Christiana, you've taken piano for a long time. How would you feel about teaching Addy?"

Finally, when God shows me the right man, I would like to get married and have my own kids. I look forward to raising children of my own, and to homeschooling them. "But wait," you might say. "How can you teach your children school without a college degree in education? Teachers have to have a degree." Well, it's true that public school teachers have to have a degree and a teaching license, but there are no such requirements for homeschoolers. And, frankly, I think it quite ridiculous that someone has to go to college to teach K-12. If you graduated from high school, doesn't that mean you learned everything you needed to in your prior years of schooling? Why would someone need a college education to teach five-year-olds their ABCs and 1-2-3s? Or even to teach the Algebra and Physics you learned in school? You got a high school diploma that said you passed those subjects. Why wouldn't you be able to pass it on to the next generation? My point here isn't that if you want to teach public school you shouldn't jump through those hoops, but merely that it is ridiculous to say someone can't teach their own children when they passed high school themselves.

In conclusion, I'm still firm in my decision to save time, money, and headaches by not going to college. I don't need it. I evaluated what I want to do with my adult life and came to a decision based on that, that I personally do not require a college degree. I encourage you to do the same and evaluate whether or not college is necessary to your life, and act on that decision.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Shire Reviews

Last week, while my sister Rebekah was doing the breakfast dishes and critiquing The Door Within, I had an idea. I often get crazy ideas that I drag my sisters into. Well, this one wasn't too crazy, and we got permission to pursue it. We started a review blog.

Our blog is called Shire Reviews and we will be reviewing books and movies on it. My sister Addyson reviewed The Pirate Daughter's Promise last week and today's is a review written by Rebekah of Third Starlighter.

Join us in our newest venture over at

(And yes, this announcement is instead of a real post because, though I have several planned, I didn't feel like writing one up. :) )

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Word Changers Review

Picture Her parents argue and fight almost every day. Not only is their marriage falling apart, but teenager Posy feels her life is falling apart with it. Amidst anger and tears, she retreats to the old library down the street. Posy selects one mysterious book in an undiscovered corner of the library and is magically drawn into another world.

Posy finds herself in a kingdom ruled by a cruel and manipulative king and queen who have attempted to usurp the role that belongs only to the Author of their story. The princess flees, an uprising is breaking out in the kingdom, and the prince and other characters fight against their slavery to the Plot.

Posy and the prince search for the fled princess, encountering hideous monsters, fierce battles, incredible danger, and strange creatures that Posy only ever dreamed. They must travel to mysterious places that expose the darkest part of the heart, their own raw fear, and past wounds that haunt them. Will they find truth and forgiveness as they plunge into the book? Will Posy and the prince save the story? Will Posy heal the heartache she knew in her own world?


Recommended for: Teens

The Word Changers was an interesting fantasy story with an intriguing premise: People in books are real. Posy, a girl from the real world, replaces the missing princess Evanthe in the Plot of a book, but she finds that much more than a missing princess is afoot. Posy and Evanthe's brother Kyran go on a quest to find Evanthe, and discover what has really happened to the Plot along the way. I did enjoy this book, but unfortunately it did not jump onto my extensive favorites list.

Writing: 4/5

The Word Changers is fairly well written. While it didn't ever become a page turner for me, I was never jerked out of the story by poor writing. Descriptions were pretty good and emotions were described well. The writing wasn't anything extraordinary, but it was pretty good.

Setting: 4/5

It's a fantasy world within a book. It has mythical creatures like centaurs, talking animals and a magical mist that tells Posy what to do, which was kind of cool. It was a little difficult to get used to talking owls outside of Narnia. It seemed a little out of place in a young adult book, but the owls were crucial to the plot. I wasn't terribly intrigued by the setting within the kingdom, but I did really like the Glooming. It was an interesting place, and full of different tests Posy and Kyran had to get through to make it to Evanthe. I don't want to give the Glooming away, but I thought it the best part of the book.

Plot: 3/5

I'm divided on this. Part of the plot I liked and part of it I didn't. I'll start with the part I liked: the adventure. There was quite a bit of it, as Posy and Kyran set out to find Evanthe, and got involved in starting a fight for the True Plot against the king. And again, I liked the stuff within the Glooming. It kept reminding me of things from many of my favorite books, but in a new way. I also did like when they met the Author and learned about him writing their story. I usually appreciate writing based allegory.

Now, what I didn't like: the romance. I'm not against a romance subplot, I rather like them, but this one never worked for me. What I love about the romance in Molly Evangeline's books is how the relationship is built on God and friendship. In The Word Changers, it seems to be built on that she's a teenage girl, and he's a handsome guy, and doesn't all YA need a little romance? When Posy first met Kyran, she hated him, but then, next time, when they were setting out on their journey to find Evanthe, she seemed to be falling for him simply because he was a guy. Not that Kyran was bad, he is a pretty good character, it's just that's not why she falls for him. The feeling is returned, but still, it seems to be for no other reason than because the book "needed" a romance. There are a couple of kisses between them, which I didn't feel were necessary. I think the book would have been better if the author hadn't tried to force in a romance.

Character Development: 3/5

Posy and Kyran were fairly well developed, but I never really connected with either of them. I did like how it was difficult to figure out whose side Falak the owl was really on. Also, the side the king and queen were on was difficult to discern, which was a good thing. The lesser characters were a little difficult to keep track of, and not very distinct. They did behave like typical book characters, but again, I didn't connect to them.

All in all, The Word Changers was a pretty good book built around an intriguing concept. Though I don't count it as a favorite, I did enjoy it.

I received a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Random Facts About Me

My friend Jaye tagged me in the Sunflower Blogger Award. Basically, I list 11 random facts about me, answer 11 questions, and tag 11 more bloggers to participate. (I'm not sure I know 11 bloggers, and several of the ones I do know were already tagged, so I'll have to cheat on that, but anyway.) I've never done anything like this before, after all, my blog has only been around about a year, but it sounds like fun, so here goes!

11 Random Facts

1. I hate spicy food. I don't like it when my mouth feels like it's on fire and I have to take a drink after each bite.

2. I love kids. If there's a baby in the room, I'm sure to be hovering around.

3. When I was little, I hated for stories to be about a boy, or about some one older than me, or something that was generally considered to be for boys or simply wasn't girly (action/adventure movies such as Star Wars for example). Now I'd much rather watch a superhero movie than Pride and Prejudice. And, quite honestly, I think most chick flicks are boring.

4. Ever since I saw the play Annie, I have loved orphan stories. My favorite childhood game was "run away from the orphanage," though I also loved to play pioneer.

5. I sing Disney songs all the time, and constantly respond with a quote from Bad Lip Reading.

6. I once had two turtles: Franklin and D. W. We discovered Franklin was a girl when she laid eggs . . . that she promptly ate.

7. I'm scared of snakes and salamanders and anything else slithery.

8. I have had more grand ideas that never came about than I can count. One was digging an underground playhouse with a plastic snow shovel when I was five or six. And despite many attempts, I still haven't managed to make a movie.

9. I own several hundred books, and desperately need another bookshelf, but there are still books I want that I don't have. (Of course, some of those aren't available yet, like all of Ilyon Chronicles and the rest of the Firmament Series.)

10. I scream on roller coasters.

11. I "blame" the Loudermilk family for the way my family's life is now. We met them when we started homeschooling and they dragged us into politics and got us into making our own bread. Though we are now involved in a very intense congressional campaign, I don't regret how God has used them in our lives.

My answers to the 11 questions

1.What is your favorite kind of tree?
I'm not really into trees, but I suppose it would have to be any tree you could put a tree house in. I would love to have a tree house.
2.Do you prefer tea or coffee or neither?
In general neither, but lately I've been drinking tea while I write and I kind of like doing that now.

3.What is your favorite social media site?
I'm not real into social media, but Facebook is where I get to see pictures of babies I know. :)
4.What is the last sentence you wrote in a story?
That would be from a random short story I'm writing.

She peeked at her little brothers Jack and Henry in the next bed.

5.Who is your favorite historical figure and why?
That's tough, but I think I'll pick George Washington because he was a man of God and the father of our country. I could tell many interesting stories about him, but I don't have room here.

6.What is your biggest pet peeve?
People calling America a democracy. We're not, we're a representative republic.

7.What’s your favorite dessert?
Ice Cream.

8.If you could live in any time period (past, present, or future) what would you choose?
The early 1800s. I would miss modern conveniences (a lot), but it's a really neat time in American history.

9.What is your favorite book to re-read (besides the Bible)
Probably A Wrinkle in Time. I've read it a ton. Though I've also read Narnia just as much.
10.What genre do you read most?
I think fantasy, but I also read a good bit of historical fiction and some science fiction. My taste in genres is pretty diverse.

11.What is the best movie you have ever watched?
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I watched it so much I had the entire thing memorized, so it's clear I love it.

I can't think of many bloggers, but here's a few.



My 11 questions for bloggers
I don't feel like thinking of new ones, so I'll just copy the same ones.

1.What is your favorite kind of tree?
2.Do you prefer tea or coffee or neither?
3.What is your favorite social media site?
4.What is the last sentence you wrote in a story?
5.Who is your favorite historical figure and why?
6.What is your biggest pet peeve?
7.What’s your favorite dessert?
8.If you could live in any time period (past, present, or future) what would you choose?
9.What is your favorite book to re-read (besides the Bible)
10.What genre do you read most?
11.What is the best movie you have ever watched?