Thursday, July 30, 2015

The End of Camp NaNo

I know Camp doesn't technically end until tomorrow, but that doesn't matter to me. I won today! I'm so ridiculously excited. My first NaNo! And I'm done with the book! This book that has been waiting around inside my mind for almost two years is finally down on paper!

I love this book so much. You probably already know that. It's just so different and unique. And my characters. I already knew I liked them. But with that climax. Wow. I love these characters SOOO much. They're just so real now. I know them so well, and yet they, particularly Luke, surprise me so much. I don't think I've shared pictures of my "casting" choices off my Pinterest board on here yet, so here they are.
Cassie Owen
Garen Owen
Luke Winston

(I tried to put them all next to each other, but they won't exactly fit. Anyway.)

They've been on such a journey. And so have I. They have caused me to think deeply about what Christianity is, from the perspective of someone who hasn't a clue. They caused me to see ordinary things for the first time. They caused me to wonder over the simple mysteries of Creation. They caused me to search what it means personally to stand up for one's faith and how hard it is to withstand emotional torture. And it isn't over yet.

Through NaNo, I learned that life is always crazy. I've been learning that slowly this whole year, but I think I finally get it. Life isn't really going to slow down. So what if I have to be busy every spare minute to get everything done? I can still make time for down time if I really want to. I wrote 28,771 words (somehow the NaNo validator came out as 28,773), helped to do A LOT of framing and drywall hanging in the basement, wrote a blog series, explored a crazy idea with some friends, wrote several reviews, kept up with violin...It was a crazy month. But it was worth it. Hopefully August won't be as crazy, but if it is, that's okay.

During NaNo, I wrote a total of 28,771 words. That's essentially writing Across the Stars in a month. And since I started NaNo with half the book written, the total wordcount comes to 60,296. My longest book by far. I...don't think I can think of any other kinds of stats like my friend did last year, but I can tell you my writing places.
My desk
My bed
The kitchen table
The front porch
A local radio station
My mom's car
Our minivan in the church parking lot
Church (it was before, I swear)
The library
I can't remember if I wrote at the dining room table and the back porch before or during NaNo
So, it's done. And this is probably one of the most rambly posts I've written. But if you've survived this long, you get to hear this: I have an important announcement regarding The Crossways coming next week! Stay tuned! 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Camp NaNo 2015 Week 4 Update

"Almost there. Almost there."

In which an often used (by me) quote finally fits NaNo. Three days left to write! I have only 2,220 words left! I am so going to do this! Like every week, I got behind on the weekend. Now I'm 490 words ahead and so on track to finish. Actually, I think I'll be exceeding my goal by about 500 words, since my NaNo goal is about that much under my estimate for the book. And, well, if it isn't until Saturday that I get in that last 500, I'll still be finishing the book, and I'll still be winning NaNo. Before I get to the material discovered this week, here's my stats:

And this week's story material. I said last week it was about to get really exciting. Oh, boy, has it! I wasn't really sure what was going to happen in the climax, I had a vague idea, but it was very vague. I've figured it out now. And, man, if it wasn't spoilers, I would so love to tell you all about it. Let's just say I read the enchantment scene from The Silver Chair, the part with The Man With the Red Eyes from A Wrinkle In Time, and the war memory from The Giver, and reflected on Cell 25 from The Prisoner of Cell 25 as story research. So yes, I had a good reason for some of the books in this post. 

It's going to be great. And my sister has even sat beside me waiting for me to stop writing and hand the notebook over for her to read. :D

And now you probably want an excerpt. Or if you don't, I'm going to give it to you anyway and confuse you by making it one that really seems like it fits in a different book.

The noise was unbearable. The loud, horrific booming, like thunder, only more terrifying. A horrid stench filled the air. In the thick smoke all around, men carrying long, dangerous looking machines sent fire and smoke away from themselves. Dirt and blood covered everything. A shout barely echoed through the chaos.

"Timothy!" Only that voice did not belong to a man.

A woman, her face smeared with soot and dirt, tear tracks down her cheeks, pushed through. "Timothy!" It was she who had been shouting.

"Else, you have to get out of here. You'll be killed."

Three more days and I'm done! I'll give you a full report next week.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Building Our Wall Part 5: Affecting Change

Part 4: Finding Our Vision

What do we do now? That is always the question I have. I know these important things about America and whatnot, but what can I actually, physically do about it? Fortunately, I have been given some answers.

I have taken and volunteered with a class called Foundations of Freedom Generation (FFG) run by Rep. Barry Loudermilk's children. The final class is all about affecting change. I took extensive notes during the class I attended as a student, and it is these notes I draw upon for this post. There are basically three jobs involved in building our wall: Leaders, Builders, and Warriors. We can identify with more than one of these. Sometimes our builders have to become warriors. But there are duties for each.

Leaders: Those who recruit and organize builders and warriors and initiate action when needed.

We are fighting a spiritual battle, which means prayer is of utmost importance. Our leaders must pray. They must watch, be on the lookout for those battles needing fighting, so they can initiate action when necessary. But they must understand what we are rebuilding. We cannot rebuild without understanding what we rebuild. They must understand that rebuilding starts in the family. Just as each family built the wall of Jerusalem as a family, the part that affected them, we must rebuild the family so that the family can rebuild America's wall. The family is the most basic unit of government. It has to stand, or the rest of government will not. And leaders must be driven by a purpose greater than fear or anger. Those things pass away. But a true purpose greater than the feelings of now will endure and actually affect change.

Builders: Those who create long term change, retake culture, and raise leaders.

The builders are the ones who do the legwork. We create the change. And again, the most important thing is prayer. It doesn't seem like it does a whole lot, I know I don't feel like I'm doing anything to save America unless I'm physically out there doing something, but prayer is doing more than any other thing. We can speak. Tell people about God, about what is wrong with America, what our vision is and what we can do about it. In a similar vein, we can write. Do just as I'm doing now. Blog about it. Write books about it. Write articles about it. Share what you know in a written form. We can volunteer. Volunteer with political campaigns, charity work, anywhere you can think of, really. People everywhere need to hear the Gospel. People everywhere need to hear the message of freedom. Listen. There's always more to learn. Host. We can host classes, and other things. My family has hosted a Constitution class in the past and hope to do it again. And join. By joining things like organizations and things as simple as email lists or Facebook pages, we are able to be alerted to what is going on in the world, able to be alerted to when it is time to take up our arms and become...

Warriors: Those who are ready for immediate action when freedom is attacked, who always have their weapons at the ready.

I'm sure you won't be surprised when I say our primary weapon is prayer. It should be our first resort when our freedom is attacked. Social media is also a weapon. The enemy certainly uses it against us. We can use it to fight back. Cell phones. We all have contact lists. We can call and text people telling them to take action, and call elected officials and tell them what to do when important issues come up, and tell our friends to do the same. A handshake can be a weapon, in getting to know elected officials and other important people. If they know you, they're more likely to listen to your opinion. Tennis shoes. I've worn those out using them as a weapon politically...going door to door for political candidates. In doing so, I've helped to get candidates into positions where they can fight for our freedom. Wallet. Giving money to candidates and organizations who fight for our freedom. And it doesn't even have to be a lot. Every little bit counts. And time. Time is a huge weapon. Giving your time to campaigns and rallies and such is a big way to make your voice heard in the fight to save America.

This is how we build and defend our wall. We do it in our own circles. We do it together. And together we can make a difference.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Camp NaNo 2015 Week 3 Update

And I'm just barely ahead. I caught up Thursday, got a little behind Friday and Saturday, had a decent day Sunday, a fantastic 2,193 word day Monday, and was distracted Tuesday by two friends and our crazy idea for a very awesome if we can pull it off project, so I'm just about 18 words ahead. But good progress. It's getting exciting, and it's just about to get REALLY exciting. I'm really looking forward to what will happen this week. Anyway, here's my stats:

Looks pretty good. And for an excerpt.
Down near the foot of the table was a familiar face. Garen.
Cassie's eyes locked with his. He kept his face solemn and controlled, but in his eyes she could see he was glad to see her. She too was glad to see him. His gaze sent a surge of confidence into her. Whatever the Council wanted from them, Garen was here and he would always support her, just as he had done back on Owen Base. She longed to talk to him, to tell him all she had learned, the answers to so many questions she had voiced to him alone, but she knew it would have to wait.

I've missed Garen. There have been a few small scenes with him scattered throughout, but this section has the most with him since basically the beginning. And next chapter is about Luke. I really love that guy. He's pretty awesome.

My sister has been kind of annoyed because of this:

She says I'm finally really becoming an evil author. As a reader, she doesn't like my driving her crazy in this way. I'm enjoying it. But in a little over a week, this book should be done and she'll be happy. Then I'll really have to get on the subject of choosing a real name for it...

Monday, July 20, 2015

Building Our Wall Part 4: Finding Our Vision

"You're having a vision. It's like a dream...with a point. Which is exactly what you've missed." --Veggie Tales, "An Easter Carol"
Sorry, I just couldn't resist. Because even though that is technically talking about a different sort of vision, it still fits perfectly. The sort of vision I'm talking about is a vision for what we want America to look like. The day after I heard the second person talk about Nehemiah and building our wall, I went to Congressman Loudermilk's town hall meeting where he talked largely about having a vision for America. It is something so many people do not have. We see all that is wrong with America. We want to fix those problems. But the problem is, we do not know where we are going.

Our vision for America is our dream of what it should be. Not just a far off, never will happen daydream. It is a dream with a point, a dream we will work to make happen. And that is the point we have missed. We don't just get in the car and drive, not usually, anyway. We decide where we want to go, and then come up with a route to get there. There may be many routes to that vision, some detours, some setbacks, but if we have a vision and we keep to that vision, we will be able to overcome those detours. If we just set out to fix America without knowing what we want it to look like, we will do no better than someone trying to build a house without a floorplan.

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We have to have a strategy. It's like a road map. Say I want to get to Walt Disney World. I have my destination, my vision. I know what Disney World looks like. But I'm still not going to get in the car and drive. (I would just get in the car and ride if my dad was driving, since he's driven it multiple times, but that's beside the point.) I have to plan my route first. There may even be multiple routes, say if one route has an accident on it and all the traffic is stopped. I can still get to Disney World, but it might be a more roundabout way.

It is the same with America. Part of my vision for America is a country where there are no abortions. Would I like to outlaw all abortions entirely in one fell swoop? Absolutely. I pray for it to end entirely all the time. But outlawing it all at once is not the only route, and not even necessarily the route that is most likely to work. It might take small steps, a law that outlaws abortion after 20 weeks, then one that outlaws it after 15, then one that outlaws it after 10, and on and on until it is entirely illegal. And a large part of stopping abortion isn't even by law, but by changing the minds of the people. If everyone woke up to the atrocity it is, perhaps we won't even need special laws about abortion because murder laws would cover it.

This is where unity comes in. We attack the same issues from different angles, trying to move the end result toward that common vision we have for America. The elected officials are the primary workers on the part of the wall that involves changing the laws of this nation. But it is the people in the church and the schools and the media who are building the part of the wall that is changing the culture in this country. We work together in our different parts of the wall to use a united strategy to get to our common vision. Because united, working together to build our wall, we can get America to be that far off vision, that place where the government stays within the limitations of the Constitution, where people are allowed to live by their convictions, where the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is not infringed. It won't be perfect, sin will still taint this world until the end, but we can make it better and we can do it together.  Doing it together, we can do something we cannot do apart.

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I never really expected Finding Nemo to have a good analogy for this, but it does. Remember the part where Dori is stuck in the net with all the other fish? They are all swimming in random directions and the net continues to go up. They are flailing about with no direction, with no unity. Honestly, it is easy in that situation to have a common vision: to be free. But they were flailing, they had no strategy. However, Nemo knew what to do. He and Dori and Marlin told all the fish to swim down together. Their strategy was to swim down. But they had to do it together. At first, the net continued to rise. As they all worked together, in unity, they began slowly to take ground (or water) until the arm on the fishing boat holding the pulley snapped and released the net, allowing the fish to achieve their vision and swim free.

Together we must have a vision. Together we must have a strategy for attaining that vision. Together we must build that wall. Together we will accomplish what we set out to accomplish.

To be continued: Affecting Change

Friday, July 17, 2015

Half-Blood Review and Author Interview!

Half-Blood is here! I'm sure by now you know that I love Ilyon Chronicles. Half-Blood is no exception. It is Jace's story, hard to read because of all he went through, but that only makes it more powerful. I'll talk more about it in my review below. But first, here's the info about the book and an author interview! And don't forget to enter the giveaway!

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00026]
About the Book
The gasps and murmuring grew. Though some were hardly more than whispers, clear words reached Jace’s ears—dangerous, monster, animal, soulless. He tried to back away from their accusing eyes, but the collar pulled hard against his throat and held him in place.
For all his years as a slave, Jace has known nothing but the hatred people hold for his mixed blood—one half human, the other half the blood of a race considered monsters. Always, he is the outsider and quickly learns it is better to keep to himself. But, when his volatile ryrik blood leads him to do the unthinkable, he is thrown into a world of violence and bloodshed.

Forced to become a gladiator, Jace finds more and more of his heart dying as his master works to break down his will not to become the monster everyone believes he is. When a stranger interferes with his master’s harsh punishment, Jace’s world is upended yet again. But with it comes the possibility of hope that has long since died. Could the man possibly hold the key to escaping the hopeless darkness that is Jace’s life? Is there such a thing as life beyond the cruelty of slavery?

See where Jace’s story all began . . . 

amazon-buy goodreads

M: Hi, Jaye! Welcome to my blog! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

J: Hey! Well, I’m in my mid/late twenties, a country girl, hopeless romantic, and adore history and Christian fantasy. I was homeschooled K-12, so that gave me a do-it-yourself outlook that has really helped in writing and publishing. If I’m not writing or doing writing related things, I’m either filling orders for my Etsy jewelry shop, reading, going on outdoor adventures, watching movies and TV shows, or sewing a costume or historical outfit.

M: We’re here to talk about Half-Blood, the prequel to the amazing Ilyon Chronicles, a story about Jace’s past as a slave and gladiator. So, Jaye, what was the hardest part about writing Half-Blood?

J: Probably just trying to keep everything straight. I started writing it probably four or five times, going back in time further and further with each restart. It was supposed to be a short story that started just before he met Rayad, but it just kept growing until it spanned many years. So I had to make sure each event happened when and where it should. It was a bit complicated. Still, this was one of the easiest things I’ve written. Not because of the subject matter (which isn’t easy), but it just flowed really well. Even with all the restarts, I finished it in just a few weeks.

M: I'm glad you started it where you did. Six-year-old Jace is so cute. You’ve called Jace Your Precious before. :) When you first started Ilyon Chronicles, did you ever think he would become such a special character to you?

J: I always knew Jace was special, even from the beginning. I related to him so well. What I didn’t ever think about was how special he would be to readers. Of course, you always hope your readers will love your characters, but this is the first time I’ve written a character who has had so many fangirls. It’s so much fun. :)

M: Jace is definitely a special character. He deserves his fangirls. :) I try not to be too much of a fangirl, but I can identify with Jace's fangirls.

My Review
Jace. My sister jokingly says that Ilyon should be called the "Poor Jace Series" and nowhere is that more true than in Half-Blood. This is the story of Jace's past. Not where he comes from, that's in yet unpublished books, but Jace's recollected past. His growing up years. His years as a slave and a gladiator. The cruelty he received. How it shaped him into the Jace we all know and love.

We see him as a little boy trying to be kind, to stand up for defenseless animals, we watch him have his first struggle with his ryrik blood when standing up to a bully, we feel his brokenness as he goes through life friendless and alone, called a soulless monster, we cry over Jasper's treatment of him, we hold our breath as he goes into the arena. And then...

The end of the book overlaps the beginning of Resistance. And we see, more than ever, how much simple kindness means. How hard it is to accept after a lifetime full of nothing but cruelty and mistrust. How great a light it shines.

This book is a tough read. While not overly graphic, Jaye does not shy away from painting a picture of the true bleakness of Jace's previous existence. For it really is more of an existence than a life. But as horrible as it is, it only makes the good mean so, so much more.

Even though it is a prequel, I recommend reading at least Resistance prior to Half-Blood. But once you have entered Ilyon, pick up Half-Blood. More Jace is always good, makes his story mean more than it possibly could have before.

Haven’t discovered the world of Ilyon yet? Find out more at the official Ilyon Chronicles website!


About the Author
JayeAuthor2015Jaye L. Knight is an award-winning author, homeschool graduate, and shameless tea addict with a passion for Christian fantasy. Armed with an active imagination and love for adventure, Jaye weaves stories of truth, faith, and courage with the message that even in the deepest darkness, God’s love shines as a light to offer hope. She has been penning stories since the age of eight and resides in the Northwoods of Wisconsin.

You can connect with Jaye on her website, blog, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Etsy, and on her new fiction forum where you can interact with other readers of the series.

Share in the excitement of the release and enter to win a themed giveaway pack! Prizes include an autographed copy of Half-Blood, a blue feather bookmark hand crafted by Jaye, a bronze sword pendant, and a $5 Amazon gift card! (Giveaway is open to US residents only. Cannot be shipped internationally.)

Tour Schedule
Tuesday, July 14

Wednesday, July 15

Thursday, July 16

Friday, July 17

Saturday, July 18

Sunday, July 19

Monday, July 20

Tuesday, July 21

Wednesday, July 22

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Camp NaNo 2015 Week 2 Update

So week two of NaNo is complete. It was a harder week. My dad was off of work last week, which meant we were hanging drywall in the basement, which meant I didn't have as much time to write. But I wrote nearly 2,000 words on Monday, so that was awesome. I'm 658 words behind, which isn't as bad as I thought, and it's still quite doable to catch up. Especially since I'm about to start hurtling towards the climax. I anticipate the writing getting faster then. And I'm really excited. This climax is going to be interesting. I'm pretty confident I can finish this book by around the end of the month. It'll be really cool, since this story has been demanding to be told since August 10, 2013, and I'm only this year getting to focus on it. It might be a little sad that it'll be over, but it's the first of a planned trilogy, so I won't have to say goodbye!

Here's the updated chart for this week:

The shallow climb is kind of sad, but that jump just makes up for it.

For an excerpt this week, I wanted to share something that was particularly interesting to write.

As the prayer concluded, another sound began, a sound of which Luke had never heard the like before. It was not a sound of words, but of wordless pitches that flowed gently and naturally one from another. One of the young women raised her oblong piece of wood to her shoulder and drew a stick of sorts across the strings that were stretched across it, creating a smoother transition of pitches than he had previously heard.
Everyone stood, and so Cassie and Luke did the same. Words appeared on the screen at the front. Then a strange phenomenon happened. Everyone began speaking the words with one voice, yet it was not like speaking. Their tones followed the ever changing pitches, holding out certain syllables for periods of time, keeping the words in a sort of rhythm.

This is just one of the reasons I love writing this book. I love describing ordinary things we take for granted from the point of view of someone who has never encountered anything like it before. I hadn't gotten to do this a lot in the last few weeks on this project, but I had this opportunity last week. And it was amazing. I'm starting to see things in a new light, the same way I started really appreciating color on the way home from seeing The Giver last year.

Next week I might be at the climax! I'm looking forward to this next week of writing and what it will bring.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Building Our Wall Part 3: The Importance of Unity

Part 1: The Wall of Jerusalem
Part 2: Defending the Wall

"If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand." --Mark 3:24-25

It is so true. A house divided will fall. I always envisioned someone taking a saw and sawing a house down the middle and watching the sawed edges crumble away. That is what happens when a house is
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divided. It crumbles away for lack of unity, and often that crumbling away gets ugly. We as Christians tend to not be very unified. We as Conservatives tend to not be very unified. And that has to change.

Ironically, the Enemy is very unified. They have an agenda which they push in every facet of culture. The scientists make their "discoveries" which "prove" evolution, global warming and whatnot (now, science cannot prove anything, but that's a whole different animal), those discoveries are taught in the schools, they are expounded as fact in the media, they are the basis of the worldview in Hollywood movies and mainstream TV shows. Gay rights activists work together to change the view of their perversion, (and yes, I'm calling it that, the Bible clearly calls it a sin), so that people from young ages view it as normal and accepted because it's taught in school and it's in movies and books and the media, and people should be allowed to "be who they are on the inside, who they were born to be" and everyone should be forced to accept it, whether it goes against their firmly held convictions or not, and even if it requires the government acting yet again outside the boundaries of the Constitution to make it happen. They actively desensitize people to the fact that abortion is murder, saying that it is only a lump of tissue and normalize it and make it a part of culture.

How did they get things the way they are? Unity. How can we take it back and bring God back into culture? Unity.

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We're fighting amongst ourselves. We don't agree on someone's strategy, so we tear them apart. We disagree on whether baptism should be done after a profession of faith or to believers' children and let it keep us from accepting one another or working together. We argue because one person's belief on what media is or isn't acceptable is more lenient or legalistic than ours. Thing is, these things shouldn't divide us. There are things we can unite on. We can unite on the fact that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior, that He died on the cross to save us from our sins and rose again so that we can be with Him forever if we believe on Him. We can unite on the fact that America is broken and if Christians don't fix it no one will. We can unite on the fact that abortion is murder and murder is wrong and we should take whatever steps we can to stop it, however long it takes to get there, just like William Wilberforce ending the slave trade in England. We can unite on the fact that homosexuality is yet another sin that is officially accepted in this nation and we should reach out to those people with love, pointing them to repentance just as we would any other sinner.

Unite on the principles, the essentials. Don't get caught up in petty fights because you have to be right. And yes, that's something I tend to struggle with myself, particularly with my sister. That doesn't mean I should, because I shouldn't. It's something we all need to work on. We are supposed to build each other up, not tear each other down. Sometimes correction is needed, yes, and there's a Biblical way of dealing with it...but it doesn't involve starting fights.

The Enemy is clever. All he has to do to win is get us to fight each other. He has to get us to isolate ourselves from the world. He has to get us to only teach what people want to hear, not what they need to hear. He has to make people afraid to stand up for what is right.

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Look at the church today. There is strife within the church, just as between people in any organized group. We often tend to separate ourselves into our little bubbles as much as possible. Guilty as charged. So many churches refuse to preach hard sermons that will step on people's toes and convict them. There's a church somewhere around my area called "The Entire Bible Baptist Church." Thus, my family and I joke that other churches must then be "Selected Parts of the Bible Baptist Church." Unfortunately, that's true for many churches. Not all, I'm blessed by a church that does teach all the Bible and preach convicting sermons, but it has been hard for us to find a church like that. And Christians are afraid to stand up. You see it everywhere, Christians mocked for standing up for their faith. And that makes more people afraid to stand up.

We can't let the lies of the Enemy get to us. We can't let him divide us over unimportant stuff. We have to work together to spread God's truth. We have to work together to tell sinners of their sin and point them to Jesus. We have to work together to save the countless lives of unborn infants. We have to learn the truth ourselves, not be afraid of turning people off by teaching about trials and tribulations. Perhaps people will leave, but it's like in the parable of the sowers, the people who wither when hard times hit were never truly believers to begin with, or they would stick with it through the difficulties. And we can't sit in our little bubbles and not get involved. We need Christians in every aspect of culture, and that means doing more than just going to church on Sunday. And we have to do it together, or we will never succeed.

To be continued: Part 4: Finding Our Vision
 Part 5: Affecting Change

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Building Our Wall Part 2: Defending the Wall

The wall of Jerusalem. The state of America. They have so much in common. They are broken down. They are under attack. Sanballat did not wish to allow the Jews to rebuild their wall in peace any more than the Enemy wishes to allow us to rebuild America in peace. What did the Jews do about it?

They prayed to the Lord and set a guard to watch. Half of the men watched for the enemy's attack while the other half continued to build. And the builders carried their swords so that should the trumpet be sounded, they would be ready to join in the fight to defend the wall. And should the alarm be sounded, they were to rally together and fight as one. The builders and guards, the rulers and perfumers, to defend their wives and their children and their homes.

So must we have guards. Our pastors must be on the lookout for the attacks on our religious freedom. Talk show hosts often sound alarms as to what things are going on in our government. Some of us must watch. They must watch so that others are free to build. But we must always be ready, we must always be listening for that trumpet if we are the builders, so that when the time comes, we will be ready to join together in the fight.

"Now when Sanballat and Tobiah and Geshem the Arab and the rest of our enemies heard that I had built the wall and that there was no breach left in it (although up to that time I had not set up the doors in the gates), Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come and let us meet together at Hakkephirim in the plain of Ono.” But they intended to do me harm. And I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” And they sent to me four times in this way, and I answered them in the same manner. In the same way Sanballat for the fifth time sent his servant to me with an open letter in his hand. In it was written, “It is reported among the nations, and Geshem also says it, that you and the Jews intend to rebel; that is why you are building the wall. And according to these reports you wish to become their king. And you have also set up prophets to proclaim concerning you in Jerusalem, ‘There is a king in Judah.’ And now the king will hear of these reports. So now come and let us take counsel together.” Then I sent to him, saying, “No such things as you say have been done, for you are inventing them out of your own mind.” For they all wanted to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will drop from the work, and it will not be done.” But now, O God, strengthen my hands. Now when I went into the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, son of Mehetabel, who was confined to his home, he said, “Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple. Let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you. They are coming to kill you by night.” But I said, “Should such a man as I run away? And what man such as I could go into the temple and live? I will not go in.” And I understood and saw that God had not sent him, but he had pronounced the prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. For this purpose he was hired, that I should be afraid and act in this way and sin, and so they could give me a bad name in order to taunt me. Remember Tobiah and Sanballat, O my God, according to these things that they did, and also the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who wanted to make me afraid." --Nehemiah 6: 1-14

Sanballat used everything he could think of against the Jews. He sent messages to them saying that it was reported they intended to attack. He said that Nehemiah intended to make himself king. He said that Nehemiah had set up prophets to proclaim that "There is a king in Judah." He fabricated lies to make Nehemiah look bad. But Nehemiah refuted him saying that Sanballat invented them out of his own mind. Sanballat even went so far as to hire people to prophesy against Nehemiah. Yet Nehemiah stood strong. He trusted in God and declared the truth.

The Enemy is always fabricating lies about us. They hate us as Christians. They hate us as Conservatives. They say we hate people because we are against sin. They say we are selfish and don't want to help the needy because we oppose having the government take that role.  And even people on our side take up arms against the leaders on our side because they buy the fabricated story or they disagree on strategy. Like Nehemiah, we have to refute the lies. We have to speak the truth. They will lie about us. They will continue to do so. But we have to speak out. And we have to trust in God. We can't be made afraid by the lies, but only continue to refute them.

And then the wall was finished. Jerusalem was protected, the people were safe, they were rebuilt. They read the Law in the streets so the people would know it. They worshiped the Lord. They celebrated a holy day unto the Lord. And the people of Israel repented from their sins.

So must we declare the Gospel. We must share God's word with all, in the streets, in the town square. How shall they repent if they have not heard? We must worship the Lord always. And repent of our sins. We must tell people the Good News.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Camp NaNo 2015 Week 1 Update

Week one of Camp NaNoWriMo is now over. I think I'll learn a lot throughout this process. I'm learning that I'll never have just limitless time to devote to writing. Life happens. I have to learn to make time to write, as my successful NaNoer friend Ashley told me. I've been more active about taking those extra few minutes to write than usual, though I've still wasted a bit too much time catching up on blog reading and stuff than I should. I'm NaNoing and helping finish a basement. I don't have time for blogs. But anyway. I'm also learning that this chart is a great motivator. I really want to make my bars reach that line.

I'm making good progress. I'm technically 524 words behind, but I have time to catch up. Or so I think. I wrote 5,798 words this week, getting me almost to the "second pinch point" in the story. And I'm really loving this book. I'm not really sure I'm getting it quite right, but that's what 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th drafts are for. And despite having the book plotted, I'm getting surprises along the way. It's a cool story. So I'll try to find non-spoilery excerpts to share.

He followed the signs on the wall. And stopped outside the door. Matthew would be expecting him. But he was understandably hesitant to come face to face with his brother after these long eight years. He raised his hand and knocked at the door.
It swung open to reveal the familiar form of a man. His jet black hair was neatly cropped and his office white face was clean shaven. He wore a white lab coat that barely revealed the khaki pants underneath. As George met his gaze, he was reminded of how, upon meeting him for the first time, Ariana had observed that she had not known it was possible for brown eyes to be so hard and cold.
 "What have you come here for?" Matthew's voice had lost none of its old resentment. "You know you're not welcome."

George is a secondary character, but there was something that needed to be done for the MCs, he was a great one to do it, and...I ran into a ghost in his past. Of course then I had to follow him on it. It was hard not knowing what that ghost was, but I think I have it sort of figured out, and I'm driving my sister crazy by not telling her. :D Now let's find one from my main characters.

"Luke? Are you in here?"
"The engine is still shot and the generator is drained."
So he was in the Alary. She stepped into the common area. Luke sat on one of the sofas, his hands clasped in front of him, his elbows resting on his knees, a dejected air about him.
Cassie approached slowly and sat down beside him. She heaved a sigh, unsure of exactly what to say. Her gaze wandered about the room, the angular furniture casting deeper shadows on the darkened floor. So briefly had it been her home. So briefly had she known Luke. As one of the more prominent Seniors during her first year at the Pilot Academy, he had intruded on her peripheral vision, but still, she didn't really know how to reach out to him.

So that's week one. We'll see how week two goes!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Building Our Wall Part 1: The Wall of Jerusalem

America is in trouble. I don't even think I need to tell you that. Over and over, we see victories of the enemy: the continuance of abortion, the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage, the continued stories of children forbidden to pray at school, the removal of freedoms, the condoned mobs, continued shootings, attempts to fix the symptoms rather than the problems that end up making the problems worse, not better, etc. It's never ending. America is under attack. Christianity is under attack. And we cannot stand by and just let it happen. I have much to share on this subject, many stories and analogies and important points that I have heard from more than one person. It is interesting to me that two different people have spoken on the same subject independently using much the same analogies. It made an impact on me, so I feel I must share it. There is a lot I have to say, so I'm splitting it into multiple parts. And I'm beginning with Nehemiah.

The wall of Jerusalem was broken down. It was nearly destroyed. The Jews had no protection. Their city was a disaster. They had not kept God's Law, and it cost them.
Via Pinterest
"So I went to Jerusalem and was there three days. Then I arose in the night, I and a few men with me. And I told no one what my God had put into my heart to do for Jerusalem. There was no animal with me but the one on which I rode. I went out by night by the Valley Gate to the Dragon Spring and to n the Dung Gate, and I inspected the walls of Jerusalem that were broken down and its gates that had been destroyed by fire. Then I went on to the Fountain Gate and to the King’s Pool, but there was no room for the animal that was under me to pass. Then I went up in the night by the valley and inspected the wall, and I turned back and entered by the Valley Gate, and so returned. And the officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, and I had not yet told the Jews, the priests, the nobles, the officials, and the rest who were to do the work. Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in, how Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned. Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer suffer derision.” And I told them of the hand of my God that had been upon me for good, and also of the words that the king had spoken to me. And they said, “Let us rise up and build.” So they strengthened their hands for the good work." --Nehemiah 2:11-18
In much the same way, America is broken down. We have abandoned God's commandments. We have abandoned our Constitution. Evil runs rampant. "Tolerance" includes tolerating every kind of deviant behavior, but somehow excludes tolerating Christianity. The news is full of shootings, suicides, robberies, murders, scandals, and the promotion of things we as Christians know are wrong. Our walls are broken down. Let us rise up and build.

The plan Nehemiah and the people of Israel followed to rebuild the wall was a unique one. They didn't gather all the people who had experience with building and have them work on the wall a section at a time. No, everyone repaired the part of the wall in front of his own house. The priests built. The goldsmiths built. The rulers built. The perfumers built. Men and their daughters built. And each person built the part of the wall that was by his house. Not the part across town. Not that random gate. His part of the wall. The part that was relevant to him. The part that was where he was.

In that same manner, we must repair our part of America's wall. Whether that's business, or entertainment, or education, or media, or government, or the Church, or the family (though we all should be a part of the Church and the family), we build that wall. We bring God's truth into that area. We shine His light in our tiny corner of the world. Because every one of us is different. Everyone has a different part of the wall to build.

"Now when Sanballat heard that we were building the wall, he was angry and greatly enraged, and he jeered at the Jews. And he said in the presence of his brothers and of the army of Samaria, “What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they restore it for themselves? Will they sacrifice? Will they finish up in a day? Will they
Via Pinterest
revive the stones out of the heaps of rubbish, and burned ones at that?” Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, “Yes, what they are building— if a fox goes up on it he will break down their stone wall!” Hear, O our God, for we are despised. Turn back their taunt on their own heads and give them up to be plundered in a land where they are captives. Do not cover their guilt, and let not their sin be blotted out from your sight, for they have provoked you to anger in the presence of the builders. So we built the wall. And all the wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a mind to work. But when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the repairing of the walls of Jerusalem was going forward and that the breaches were beginning to be closed, they were very angry. And they all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it." --Nehemiah 4:1-8
Sanballat was not okay with the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem. And so he plotted with Tobiah the Ammonite and the Arabs and the Ashdodites and the army of Samaria to fight against Jerusalem and cause confusion, to halt the rebuilding of the city wall.

The Enemy will not sit idly by and watch us rebuild our wall. If he did, we would not be in the mess we are in today. He will mock and fight against us. We can see it happening already. We as Christians are not allowed to abide by our faith if it collides with the very vocal enemy. Look at all the children who are told they can't read the Bible or pray at school. Look at Hobby Lobby's suit over Obamacare trying to force them to provide birth control. Look at the bakers being taken to court for refusing to provide a cake for a gay wedding. We are under attack today, just as Jerusalem was under attack from Sanballat. And the more we build our wall, the more we stand up for what's right, the more the Enemy will fight us.

To be continued: Part 2: Defending the Wall
Part 3: The Importance of Unity

Note: All Scriptures taken from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

I was tagged in another post for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award by Shantelle Mary Hannu. Thanks, Shantelle! And since tags are fun and so are her questions, I thought, why not? (I have ideas for more serious article-ish posts, but I'm not sure when I'll get time to write them up, especially with basement finishing and Camp NaNo happening at the same time, so they'll probably have to wait. Hopefully I'll have one written and scheduled by the time this goes up, but it's imperative I get it right, so I don't know.) Anyway, let's get on with the tag!

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you, linking back to their site.
  • Put the award logo on your blog.
  • Answer the ten questions sent to you.
  • Make up ten new questions for your nominees to answer.
  • Nominate ten blogs.

Shantelle's Questions:

  • What genre have you read most of this year? Fantasy, primarily fairytale retellings, actually. I love fantasy. It's amazing.

  • Do you enjoy fairy tales? Which ones do you like most? I do. I actually, um, have always been quite intrigued by Rumplestiltskin. As far as more princess oriented ones go, I like Beauty and the Beast and the Disney version of Rapunzel. I'm not sure Frozen exactly counts, but I love it.

  • Favorite dessert? Ice cream. It's just so good. Especially on brownies with M&Ms and chocolate syrup and peanuts and caramel. Yum.

  • Which Disney princess are you most like and why? Disney princess quizzes say I'm Anna, and I'm completely okay with that. We're both quirky, don't think before we speak, want to help people, and value our relationship with our sister(s). But I would never agree to marry a man I just met that day. I'm with Elsa on that one.

  • Which Disney prince do you consider the most dashing? That's...a bit of an awkward question for someone like me, since I'm not the type of girl who gets any sort of crushes. But I'll go with Kristoff, even though he's not technically a prince (yet) because he's good and honest and honorable.

  • What was your favorite blog post this year? Hmm. Maybe "Magic in Christian Fantasy." It was an issue I greatly struggled with in my writing, and this helped both to solidify my thoughts on the issue and help others who struggle with the same thing.

  • A few books you hope to read soon? Magical Melons, or Caddie Woodlawn's Family by Carol Ryrie Brink. I've wanted to read it for probably about ten years, and I finally moved into a county where I'll at long last have access to it. I also want to read The Book Thief, but I'm waiting on my friend's sister to finish it. I have to read her copy, because it's sharpie edited and I refuse to read an unedited copy. Also Who-ology. My new library system has it, and it's the "official miscellany" of Doctor Who. I want to go beyond the Amazon preview.

  • Favorite book of the year? My favorite I can't actually mention because it's pre-release and I haven't been told I can say I read it. My favorite on my Goodreads shelf is The King's Scrolls, though Half-Blood and Water Princess, Fire Prince are pretty close.

  • Summer or winter? Summer. I really like spring best, but I don't like being cold, so summer is better. Despite 95 degree temperatures.

  • One goal you have? To do my part to fix America. I need to build my part of the wall. And actually, that is something I'm going to explain in a post I need to be writing right now. It is of extreme importance.

Since I have other things I need to be writing, and these were good questions, I'm just going to repeat Shantelle's and leave an open invitation. If you want to do this tag, this is your opportunity. You can leave a link to your post in the comments. I'd love to see your answers!

  • What genre have you read most of this year?
  • Do you enjoy fairytales? Which ones do you like most?
  • Favorite dessert?
  • Which Disney princess are you most like and why?
  • Which Disney prince do you consider the most dashing?
  • What was your favorite blog post this year?
  • A few books you hope to read soon?
  • Favorite book of the year?
  • Summer or winter?
  • One goal you have?

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Implant Cover Reveal

I have a cover reveal for another friend today! This time, it's for J. Grace Pennington's new book Implant. I haven't read it yet, but I really, really, really want to. Grace's books are always fantastic. I've read all four books she's released so far, and loved every one. She's a great writer. And Implant sounds amazing. Dystopian? Yes. Time travel? Oh, yes! You can see I'm really looking forward to this book. So, without further ado, I present to you the cover of Implant by J. Grace Pennington!

Welcome to the world of a universal cure.

Gordon Harding didn't ask for the life he has. He didn't ask to be orphaned. He didn't ask to go through life with cancer. And he certainly didn't ask to be pulled into a future world without warning--a world where every human being is controlled by means of a medical implant.

And when he learns that he's the only one who can destroy the base of operations, he's faced with an impossibly painful choice: either hide and let the world decay under this mysterious futuristic force, or rescue humanity from oppression, knowing that there's someone out there who is willing to use any means necessary to stop him.

Doesn't it sound amazing? And isn't the cover cool? I think it looks pretty awesome myself, and the book sounds really interesting.

You can find out more at these sites:

Graces' website:
Designer's website: