Monday, February 29, 2016

My Childhood in Books

I had a book filled childhood. Very book filled. It's no wonder I love books as much as I do. I want to share some of my top childhood favorites, the ones I read and reread repeatedly. This isn't exhaustive, not by a long shot, and I probably still picked too many, but I loved them all so much, I couldn't exclude any. Let's get started.

Historical Fiction

Thursday's Child--This is my favorite Noel Streatfeild and my favorite orphan story. It has everything you could ever want in an evil orphanage, great characters, a daring escape, and a perfect happy ending. It's also the reason I read Bleak House. 

Nelly in the Wilderness--This book fueled my pioneer obsession which began with Little House. A rough, frontier widower with two children takes a city wife. Complete with rattlesnake bites, a baby wildcat, and even an appearance by Johnny Appleseed. Not-so-happy ending, but I loved it just the same. Fantastic character arc, now that I think about it.

Turn Homeward, Hannalee--The mill hands were stolen from their homes during Sherman's March and shipped north. Hannalee Reed is determined to fulfill her promise to her mother and come home. I first read this while we were going to see George W. Bush, and have read it many times since. I especially love it because they journey through places I have actually been.

Caroline Little House Books--Of course, the Laura books are very special, but they were family books to me. On my own, I LOVED the Caroline books. About Ma growing up with her five siblings, struggling to live after Father died, the series takes her from age five through her marriage to Pa. As a child I only liked books 1-5. 6 and 7 are fantastic now that I'm older, though.

Elsie Dinsmore Series--The series follows Elsie from age 8 through becoming a step great grandmother. They're full of literary flaws, but Elsie's faith is inspirational, the first 10 or 12 books contain great stories, and most of all, they're full of good memories. My mom read them to my sisters and me, and I also reread them on my own.

The Secret Garden--Spoiled brat and orphan Mary Lennox goes to live with her mysterious and absent uncle. She makes new friends in the strange secretive house and coaxes an abandoned garden back to life. I still want my own secret garden.

A Little Princess--Sara Crewe is rich, but very sweet. And when her father dies and she is forced to work as a servant in her now former boarding school under cruel Miss Minchin, she continues to be the true princess she is inside. Far better than the Shirley Temple movie.

The Journey Home--Two sisters journey out west on the orphan train. Orphans and pioneers in one book equals perfection.

The Witch of Blackbird Pond--"She's NOT a witch!" I vehemently exclaimed while stomping my foot. Kit Tyler doesn't fit in with her Puritan relations, and when she begins to associate herself with the Quaker woman everyone assumes is a witch, she herself is accused of witchcraft! No real witches, pure historical fiction. This book has been a read-aloud in our family multiple times, and I've read it myself even more.

The Bronze Bow--This also is a multiple read-aloud, multiple rereads on my own book. It's about a young blacksmith who lives at the time of Jesus. He hates the Romans and wants to drive them out, but he begins to encounter the teachings of Jesus, which slowly soften his heart. Then there's the part of the story about his sister who is possessed with a fear demon.

Samantha Books--It's no surprise that orphan Samantha was my favorite American Girl. I especially loved the orphanage parts with Nellie. I even wrote a screenplay of the Samantha story once, because the official movie cut out a lot of things I liked.

Anne of Green Gables Series--I love these books to pieces. They are such a part of my life. They're also books that were read-alouds multiple times that I read and reread on my own. Who doesn't love an imaginative redhead like Anne Shirley? All the redheads that show up in my books...yeah, this is where that comes from.

Fantasy/Science Fiction

The Chronicles of Narnia--Fantastic allegories, amazing stories, memorable characters. I'm the biggest Narnia fan I know. When some girls from my old homeschool group were writing something on Narnia and were supposed to ask an "expert" about something regarding it, they said they should have asked me. 

The Tale of Despereaux--The story of a mouse, a princess, a rat, and a bowl of soup. I used to read this at night because it was scarier then. All my dungeons come from this well-beloved book. 

A Wrinkle in Time and A Wind in the Door--These two books pretty much reach the level of Narnia as far as how much I love them goes. Classic battles of good versus evil told in a new way as Meg travels across the universe and into the microcosm of her brother's mitochondria. It's a powerful story.

Mary Poppins--I'm...the only one in my family who really loved these books. Nevertheless, I thought they were fantastic. If you like the Disney movie, these are far better. Who wouldn't want Mary Poppins for a nanny?

Tuck Everlasting--Explores the idea of immortality on earth, not actually a pleasant experience. This book impacted me a lot. Again, far better than the movie.

Five Children and It--What would you do if you could have any wish granted? Cyril, Robert, Anthea, and Jane have the opportunity to find out, and it doesn't always turn out the way they hoped. Being beautiful as the day isn't so great when the servants won't let you in the house, and you'll wish your baby brother was a baby again when he's suddenly grown up and ordering you around. It just goes to show, be careful what you wish for.

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle--Does your child have a bad habit you can't break? Just call Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. She has a cure for everything. And her cures are quite interesting. Like magical hearing powder for Thought-You-Said-itis.

The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles--I haven't read this in a really long time, so I don't know how it withstands the test of time, but I loved it when I was younger. I was fascinated by the idea of a magical land you could reach by using your imagination. And what a magical land it is! Quite the adventure.


A-Z Mysteries--These were a lot of fun. My favorite was The Deadly Dungeon. But my best memory of the series is of when I emailed the author, Ron Roy, and he actually emailed me back. That was so amazing! I never managed to own any myself, though. These all belong to my sisters.

The Boxcar Children--I LOVED these books. Orphans and mysteries together in one series. Of course, as mysteries go, they're not really great, but I enjoyed them a lot. In spite of the inconsistencies. :)

Trixie Belden--These were special to my mom's childhood, and she passed it along to me. Trixie and Honey get themselves into all kinds of trouble trying to solve mysteries, but their brothers always come along to rescue them. Again, not exactly good mysteries, but fun stories just the same.

The Westing Game--This one's a good mystery. The movie doesn't do it justice. So many complicated threads, different "games," and I'm still not sure I understand how it all works out, after reading it so many times. It's absolutely fantastic.

Mid 1900's Contemporary

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler--Something about running away from home to hide at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is just very intriguing. Lots of stuff about history and art. My sister and I acted out the entire book one day. It was pretty awesome.

Gone-Away Lake--Originally a read-aloud, these books made the journey from the library to our house countless times before we collected our own copies. A girl and her cousin find abandoned summer homes on the edge of a swamp...or are they abandoned? Gone-Away is a fantastic place, both now and in its glory days.

Shoes Books--They're all about different characters, though a few of them connect, but they're all about children who work on the stage, either as dancers, actors, or both. Usually both. My sisters never got that into them, but I absolutely loved them...especially the ones about orphans. Though not a Shoes book, I also really loved The Children on the Top Floor. I wish I owned it.

Ramona Series--My sister loved these more than I did, but they're still a big part of my childhood. Ramona starts off as a brat and ends up a pretty good kid, though she still has a penchant for getting herself into trouble. "Guts, guts, guts!" My dog's middle name is Ramona because of this character.

Because of Winn-Dixie (this is 2000, not mid-1900's, but close enough)--Opal doesn't have any friends in her new town, until she takes in a mangy dog she calls Winn-Dixie. She makes interesting and unusual friends and brings the town together...all because of Winn-Dixie.

Mandy--Mandy has a decent life for an orphan, but she longs for a place of her own. She finds an abandoned cottage in the woods and fixes it up. She makes some poor decisions and almost gets herself killed, but everything works together for the best, and she gets what she always dreamed of.

There are far more books that I love, but these are the top...I think, it's so hard to choose.

What are your childhood favorite books? Do you like any of mine?

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Monday, February 22, 2016

The Liebster Award

I did a version of this tag last year, but these are different questions, so I'll do it again. I was tagged by Anna S. Brie. Thanks!

Here are the rules:
- Thank the blog who nominated you and link back to them.
- Nominate up to 11 other bloggers to receive the award. To be eligible, they need to have 200 followers or less.
- Answer 11 questions from the blogger who nominated you.
- Tell your readers 11 random facts about yourself.- Give your nominees 11 questions to answer on their blog when they post their nomination.

My Nominees:
I'm just going to leave it open. If you want to do this tag, here's your chance!

My Eleven Questions from Anna:
#1 - What is your favourite book of the Bible?
I have to choose? I love so many books of the Bible. I really like Genesis because that's where everything began and my writer brain is intrigued by the pre-Flood world, I like Luke (and Matthew, Mark, and John) because it's the Gospel and completes the story of Salvation, I like Ephesians (particularly Ephesians 2) because it explains how incapable we are of attaining Salvation on our own but how God gives it to us by His grace, and I like James because it has all sorts of various words of wisdom about the Christian faith. I'm being as indecisive as Philippa Gordon here.
#2 - Do you like maths?
No, not really. I definitely prefer algebra to geometry, though. And my brain is constantly doing math whether I like it or not.
#3 - What is your favourite thing to do outside?
Ride my bike. It's exercise in the fresh air and it helps me brainstorm for my stories.
#4 - What is your dream house?
A rustic farmhouse on several acres with an old fashioned attic. And half a dozen bedrooms and at least three bathrooms. Maybe a secret passage. A guest room with a wardrobe and a Dawn Treader painting, a huge front porch, a beautiful view, a sewing room, bookshelves everywhere, a fireplace, a secret garden outside, a dog and a cat and some chickens, and a husband and kids living there with me, not far from my parents' house.
#5 - Who do you look up to most?
Person I know, or historical figure? I'm not really sure. I'm feeling too Philippa Gordon again. I look up to a lot of people, like my parents and Christiana Loudermilk, and C.S. Lewis, and George Washington.
#6 - What is your favourite word?
Can I claim Phil again? I don't really have a favorite at the moment, though I keep using "perhaps" in my current WIP.
#7 - What are your five most prized possessions?
Hmm. If the house was burning down and I could grab five things to save from my room...probably my Bible, my Ilyon books (I'm counting that as one), my laptop, my kindle, and my quilt. I think. That could change.
#8 - Is there a question you really wish someone would ask you?
I can't really think of any. If it's something I'm willing to talk about, I'll talk about it without being asked, and if it's something I don't want to talk about, you're not getting an answer even if you ask.
#9 - What would you do if you had one month to live?
I'm not entirely sure. But I like to think I would try to do as much as I can for the people around me while I still can. Because as nice as a month long trip to Disney World would be, it wouldn't be worth it. And I don't want people to remember me as distant and uncaring.
#10 - If you could live under water, would you?
I think I would. Not permanently, but it would be neat to experience for a week.
#11 - Light or dark blue?
Light, definitely. I like pastel shades the best. 

Eleven random facts about me:
#1 - I'm not a morning person, and never have been. When my parents were taking me home from the hospital after I was born and we went out into the hall, I covered my eyes against the light.
#2 - I can't stand snakes or salamanders or worms. There was a salamander in our basement recently, and it totally freaked me out.
#3 - I'm supporting Ted Cruz for president.
#4 - I know how to use a pottery wheel.
#5 - Once at the Indiana State Fair, the ladies doing a spinning demonstration invited me behind the ropes to try out their spinning wheel. I didn't stop smiling for the rest of the day.
#6 - When I was eight and nine, I wrote stories about alien invasions. Yeah...
#7 - I think it would be really cool to open a living history museum someday.
#8 - I've now helped with two kitchen backsplashes. FYI, grout stains your fingers, and if you're the one wiping off the excess grout, wear rubber gloves. You don't want your fingers to look like mine did halfway through.
#9 - I can quote just about every line in The Princess Bride, though not necessarily in order.
#10 - When I was nine, I was misquoted in the newspaper. It made me really mad.
#11 - My dog knows that the sound of the smoke alarm means to go outside.

Eleven questions for you (I'm just going to give you the same ones):
#1 - What is your favourite book of the Bible?
#2 - Do you like maths?
#3 - What is your favourite thing to do outside?
#4 - What is your dream house?
#5 - Who do you look up to most?
#6 - What is your favourite word?
#7 - What are your five most prized possessions?
#8 - Is there a question you really wish someone would ask you?
#9 - What would you do if you had one month to live?
#10 - If you could live under water, would you?
#11 - Light or dark blue?

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Adela's Curse Cover Reveal

I have a cover reveal today for Claire M. Banschbach's next book, Adela's Curse. It sounds like an interesting fairytale-type story, and I'm looking forward to reading it.

First, a little about the author.

Claire Banschbach was born and raised in Midland, TX, the fourth of eight children. She was homeschooled through high school and is now a proud member of the Texas A&M University class of 2014. She is currently working on her Doctorate of Physical Therapy at Texas Tech University Health Science Center. She continues to write in her spare time (and often when she doesn’t have spare time). She hopes her strong foundation in God will help to guide her writing.

And about the book.

A witch and her master capture a young faery and command her to kill their enemy. Adela has no choice but to obey. If she does not, they will force the location of her people’s mountain home from her and kill her. To make matters even worse, the person she is to kill is only a man struggling to save his dying land and mend a broken heart.

Count Stefan is a man simply trying to forget the woman he loves and save a land crippled by drought. When a mysterious woman arrives at his castle claiming to be a seamstress, he knows she is more than she seems.

Adela enlists the help of Damian, another faery, to try and delay the inevitable. He insists she has a choice. But with the witch controlling her every move, does she?

Now for the cover. Doesn't it look neat?

Coming in March!

Monday, February 15, 2016

On Fictional Romances

I've been thinking about writing a post on this subject for a while, and now seemed like an appropriate time, yesterday being Valentine's Day, and all.

When I was little, I despised romance. While I wanted to know who the characters married when they grew up, I didn't want that to happen in the story. Possibly because I hated for characters to grow up, but that's beside the point. As I moved into my teen years, I started to like a dash of romance in books and movies. Over the last few years, I've gotten to the point where I want to put a romance subplot into my own books. That, among other things, has gotten me thinking about just how I want fictional romance to be. Because while I now really like that romantic subplot, I'm still rather picky about romance. And the analytical side of my brain had to figure out the exacts of the matter.

Top five things I dislike in romance.

1. Inappropriate content.
This pretty much goes without saying. If a couple goes further physically in their relationship than they should prior to marriage, that's not okay with me at all. Most likely, I'll skip the story entirely. Even post-marriage, where certain things are right and acceptable, it doesn't need to be shown to the reader/viewer. While I love sweet, touching, romantic scenes, a fact to which I'm sure Kendra will attest, there comes a point where the reader should no longer be welcome and the couple should be given some privacy.

2. Excessive relationship drama
Every couple is going to have struggles. It's just part of being human. However, I cannot stand it when it gets excessive. You know the drill: Couple gets along great, wants to get married. Misunderstanding comes about, they break up, no longer want to ever get married. Misunderstanding is cleared up, they're ready to get married again....until the next installment in the series where they do the whole thing all over again. Yes, I'm looking at you, Spider-Man 3. Disagreements shouldn't be that drastic. I don't care if it happens in real life.

3. Dating that lasts forever without leading to marriage
Relationships that go on forever without ending in marriage, or even ones that take absolutely forever to get to marriage, annoy me. What's the point? As much as I love Andy Griffith, and while I understand that many funny situations in the show are dependent on Andy and Helen still dating, it tends to annoy me that they don't just get married. There's no purpose to a relationship like that. (They do get married post the end of the show, but that's still after dating forever.) I think a lot of writers think romance ends when a couple marries, but it absolutely doesn't. The Scarlet Pimpernel and the DragonKeeper Chronicles are two excellent examples of romance about a married couple.

4. Shallow relationships
I especially hate it when fictional relationships are based on practically nothing. He's good looking, she's pretty, let's date. And there's no more depth to it than that. A relationship with no roots is never going to last. Love at first sight falls under this as well. While in real life, love at first sight can and often does turn into a true, lasting relationship, fictional treatments generally seem to be shallow.

5. Love triangles and other "which guy do I choose?" situations
Don't get me wrong, there are tons of stories I love that contain these types of situations, but they still annoy me. If you can't choose between Alec and Alonzo, chances are it's because you haven't met Jonas yet. (bonus points if you understood that reference) (extra bonus points if you got that one) While it may be funny in an indecisive character, it makes the girl seem like a flirt, whether she is one or not. If she is one, I'm not going to like her all that much. These situations also set up fans to ship the wrong ship, and then you've got fangirls complaining about how you're blowing holes in their ship...not exactly what you want. Swanfire, anyone?

Top five things I like in fictional romance.

1. Relationships with God at the center
The first antidote to shallow relationships. With God at the center of a relationship, if He is the one drawing the couple together, in fiction as in real life, this is a relationship that has everything in the right place. God is our rock, He is our foundation, and this should remain true in romantic relationships. One of the reasons I love the way Molly Evangeline/Jaye L. Knight writes romance is because she always keeps this in mind.

2. Couples that are also best friends
This is the second antidote to shallow relationships. Couples ought to be really good friends. If two people don't have enough in common to be best friends at a just friends level, why would they have enough in common to be husband and wife? But what I personally especially like is when the couple is good friends before officially becoming a couple. They already know each other well, their relationship as friends has already lasted, and it has the best of chances to last as a marriage. That's one of the reasons Reuben and Petra from yet unpublished Lady Dragon, Tela Du are one of my favorite couples. They're already best friends, they already know each other well enough to know that they are right for each other, and it will be a lasting relationship, once they're ready to take that next step.

3. When marriage is the goal from the beginning
There's no point to a romantic relationship if the end goal is not marriage. Yet so many stories toss in that dash of romance just to have that dash of romance. Just look at Indiana Jones. I love the stories that look on a romantic relationship, be it dating or courting, as a means to the end of marriage. I'm going to bring up Molly's books and DragonKeeper Chronicles again. I love how there's no reason for having the relationship other than eventual marriage. For Anne Shirley and Emily Starr, it's the same thing. Even though Anne has some difficulty recognizing her real Prince Charming and Emily's has difficulty getting over his shyness enough to tell her he loves her, the goal isn't to date, the goal is to get married. And I love that.

4. Girls that fall for the "good boys"
I can't tell you how the "bad boy" trend annoys me. Which is why it makes me so happy when the girl falls for the "good boy" instead. Jace, Bardon, Prince/King Arthur, Reuben Eaglechaser, Gilbert Blythe, Teddy Kent, Calvin O'Keefe...guys who treat the girls with honor and respect (carrots was when they were kids, it doesn't count), who will protect and defend them, who will choose to do the right thing. Girls of the storybooks, "bad boy" may be your charity case, but "good boy" should be your husband.

5. The ability to make up after a fight without going through a huge drama first
My sisters and I fight, but we never stay mad at each other for long because we love and care about each other, and that overrides our disagreements in the end. If that's true for siblings, how much more so should it be for a couple? Things aren't going to go swimmingly all the time. Characters should be just as human as real people. And that does mean that sometimes the characters will disagree and fight and not get along. But it doesn't have to mean going through the whole Spider-Man 3 drama. Because with characters, like with people, love should be strong enough to enable them to make up.

So there you have a recipe for my favorite fictional friends take note. ;) And now that I'm ready for my characters to start pairing off, I think you'll begin to see these principles in my stories as well.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Infinity Dreams Award

I was tagged by Gabriela Paige for the Infinity Dreams Award. Thanks, Gabriela! I like tags. :)

Tell us eleven facts about yourself.
  1. I work at a library. (This is new, as of almost two weeks ago. I love it so far!)
  2. I love reference books. 
  3. I once tried to draw Frodo in color and he turned out yellow. Colored pencil isn't my thing.
  4. I have hand quilted (with help) three quilts: queen size, full size, and baby size. Never again.
  5. I used to keep a list on my door of books I wanted to make into movies that were actually like the book.
  6. When I was five, we went on a family vacation to see all the Little House on the Prairie tourist spots. We were the only people on the tour in De Smet not going to or coming from Mount Rushmore.
  7. Almost all of the adult books I've read are classics.
  8. I still remember the dance I did in the Nativity Ballet when I was 8 and 9.
  9. I got a Doctor Who cup for Christmas, and now I almost never drink out of anything else...unless I'm drinking tea out of my Elsa mug.
  10. When I was four (during the 2000 Presidential campaign), I asked my mom if Al Gore was real. Her answer: "Unfortunately, yes."
  11. My friends and I think debate watch parties are fun. Because they are.
Answer the eleven questions.

What do you like about blogging?
Hmm. Um, telling people about things I like? I like participating in blog tours, because I like to tell people about books I love.

What is your favorite hobby?
Reading. Books are the best. I mean, I love writing, and I also like playing music and sewing, but nothing beats a good book.
What is your favorite genre of books that you like to read?
That would probably be fantasy. I also love historical fiction and science fiction. Funny, I like reading fantasy best, but I like writing sci-fi the best.
What is your favorite movie?
Easy: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. There are lots of movies that I love, but it's the only one that I've seen enough times to unintentionally memorize literally the entire thing, and yet still am not tired of it in the least.
What is your favorite TV show?
Doctor Who, with BBC Merlin as such a close second that it's not actually second, but really more of a tie. Those two shows. They're so good.

Is there anything that you “fangurl” about? If so, what?
Yeah, that list is growing. Primarily Ilyon Chronicles, the Rizkaland Legends, Doctor Who, and Merlin. But I don't like to simply fangirl about things. I fangirl, and then I analyze. What do I like about this story? What do I like about these characters? Story structure, character development, acting skills, writing, what was done right and what was done wrong. If it's something with multiple writers, what are the strengths and weaknesses of the different writers and how does it work together? What is the theology like? What message is being conveyed and what message do I get out of it? See, I'm weird. I can't even fangirl like a normal fangirl. I'm too much of a nerd. :)
Do you have a favorite music artist that you listen to about every song of theirs? If so, who?
Not really. I mostly listen to film score, which means I mostly listen to music from movies and shows I've seen and not the rest of the composer's music. If you ask me my favorite artist, I'll probably say something like Murray Gold, or Howard Shore, or John Williams.
Is there anything new that you’re hoping to do this year?
Hmm. I can't really think of anything. I had a lot of change last year, and then a big new thing last month with getting a job at the library, so I think I've had enough new stuff to last me a while.
What do you hope to be when you are “grown-up”?
I'm already an author, so I guess what's left is to be a wife and mother. I really do want to be a wife and mother someday. It's still definitely a "someday" right now, but considering the fact that I'm almost 20, someday doesn't feel as distant as it used to. Which is kind of weird and scary, but it's still at least a few years off, if it ever happens at all. At least, I think. God's plans usually aren't the same as mine.
What is your favorite way to travel?
By teleport. At least, I wish I could. I hate traveling, so if I could just teleport to all the couple of places I want to visit, that would be fantastic.
If you had a TARDIS (time machine/spaceship), where would you go?
Ooh, choices. So many places to visit. I'd have a list of famous people and historical events I'd hand to the Doctor. Places like Roanoke and Salem during the witch trials and people like George Washington and C.S. Lewis. And once we got through with all that, I'd finally ask him to take me to an alien planet in the future. Though considering the fact that the Doctor admittedly can only control the TARDIS 5 times out of 10 (well, that's how low he got before he stopped himself), I might get to an alien planet sooner. ;) 

  • Use the Infinity Dreams Award picture
  • Thank the blogger who tagged you
  • Tell us 11 facts about yourself
  • Answer the 11 questions
  • Tag 11 bloggers
Kendra (sorry)

Now your eleven questions.

What is your favorite thing to blog about?
Who is your favorite fictional character?
What is your biggest pet peeve?
If you could visit one place on earth, and only one, where would you choose?
What's one movie coming out in 2016 you want to watch?
Would you rather time travel to the past or the future? Why?
What is your least favorite holiday?
What do you want to be when you "grow up"?
If someone offered you a million dollar inheritance if you would drive twenty bucks (as in deer) across Alaska, would you do it? (I know it sounds weird, stems from a game of Balderdash.)
What genre of books do you like best to read?
Do you prefer movies or TV shows?
 I hope you enjoyed this post! I certainly did. Do we have anything in common?

Monday, February 1, 2016

Welcome to Briznom(ian Politics)

Briznom, the land of Vannie's birth, a land of varied regions from the rolling hills to the deep forest to the beautiful coastline. A land mired in politics and corruption...Oh wait. That's not something they would want advertised.

Briznom is divided into twelve vassalages: Wyland, Yoland, Maitland, Leland, Kirkland, Morland, Devland, Cumberland, Durland, Strickland, Stipland, and Roland. Each one is its own sort of district, ruled by a vassal lord. Each vassal lord can set some rules for his own vassalage, but his primary role is as a member of Court. The vassal lords meet regularly in the Capitol. They conduct business similarly to Congress, but on a much smaller scale, and since they don't have a bicameral legislature, legislation only has to pass through one vote. Not exactly the best for preventing bad bills, but that's how it goes. The king's role is far more similar to that of a president than that of a traditional king. He also presides over Court.

The Briznomian Court passes laws, but they also have other duties. They also fill the role of the judicial branch and that of lesser courts, passing judgement on criminals. So essentially, they're both judge and jury, as well as being the legislature. It's no wonder their system became so corrupt. Division of power exists for a reason.

Succession of Vassal Lords

The position is hereditary, as might be guessed. If at all possible, it passes from father to son. If, as in the instance of the Cumberlands, a vassal lord has only daughters, the title passes to the husband of the oldest daughter. If the vassal lord dies before the next in line is of age, the father of the betrothed of the next in line (or the father of the next in line, should the vassal lord have only daughters) serves as interim until he comes of age. 

To secure the position, the eldest child of every vassal lord is betrothed when a child, girls in infancy, boys between ages 3 and 5. These betrothals are final, and it is unheard-of for them to be broken. Usually, heirs are betrothed to a distant cousin. In spite of the requirement of arranged marriages for heirs to the vassalage, it is extremely rare for any others in the country to be betrothed in childhood.

The nature of relations between the vassalages, how the heirs feel about their betrothals, how deep the corruption in Court...You'll just have to wait to find out in Espionage, coming May 16.

I've never gone so deep into the political worldbuilding of a country before, but I really enjoyed constructing the country of Briznom. It was fascinating. Even though I managed to set up some major obstacles for my favorite characters...Briznom has some major flaws, but I still love the story and the people who live there.

P.S. Random tidbit about the name: My sisters and next door neighbor and I were writing a play about a kingdom where the brother usurped the throne with the help of the people, but they wanted the old king back because the new one was actually worse. Never did finish that play. But we needed a country name, and we somehow combined "Brazil" and "nomenclature" to coin Briznom. I intended to someday write a book of "The Kings of Briznom," but I've since dropped the idea. The political arrangement took off in a different direction, so it was no longer canon, and I also realized that the plot was stupid. But I used the country, and retained the name James for the king.