Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Vannie, Kermit, Kyle, and the Subject of Marriage

As I write the sequel to Espionage, a story which greatly involves the subject of Vannie’s impending marriage, I’ve been contemplating why Vannie and Kermit are so ill suited for one another and she and Kyle are perfect for each other—aside from the fact that I wrote it that way, of course. There really are some good reasons, and not even that Kermit’s awful, because he actually isn’t. And while I haven’t really explored it yet, there’s a very strong likelihood that Kermit’s also a Christian. Therefore, being unequally yoked isn’t even an issue here

What are the reasons, then?

1. Understanding each other 

Vannie has known Kermit for her entire life. She’s known Kyle for half that. Yet I would venture to say that Kyle and Vannie know each other infinitely better than Vannie and Kermit. Why? Because they understand each other. Each knows what makes the other tick. Kyle and Vannie can predict each other, they can understand why the other behaves the way they do, they understand what drives the other in life.

Now, the fact that Vannie and Kermit don’t understand each other is largely Vannie’s fault for not giving him a chance, but even if she did, I still don’t think it would make complete sense to either of them what it is that makes the other tick. Their driving passions are oceans apart; too far for it to work.

2. Common interests 

Kermit and Vannie don’t really have any. Kyle and Vannie do. Vannie and Kyle are very interested in politics. Kermit couldn’t care less. Vannie and Kyle like animals. Kermit doesn’t. Kermit likes to draw. It just isn’t really something Vannie and Kyle do. Vannie practically inhales books. Kyle loves books as well. Kermit doesn’t really read.

It doesn’t make either party bad that they have different interests (I need to figure out more of Kermit’s interests…I just haven’t spent enough time with him yet). What it does do is give them either a lot to do together or nothing at all. Vannie’s not the type to play Charlotte Lucas and spend as little time as possible with her husband, which is what would happen should she marry Kermit. She has to have a best friend.

3. Common missions and goals 

Vannie and Kyle are always fighting in the political arena and sticking their noses where they don’t belong in order to effect justice. Kermit would be content to just be an artist. Both are necessary roles in the world, and by marrying Vannie, Kermit would be forced into the political arena, but Kermit would not be happy. He couldn’t truly work with Vannie the way Kyle does. They’d always be at odds with each other, pulling in opposite directions. Not to mention it would be disastrous for Cumberland and all of Briznom to have a disinterested representative at Court.

4. Partners in life 

At the time of Espionage’s sequel, Kyle and Vannie have been best friends for nearly nine years. Kindred spirits, they sensed a deep connection between them almost immediately. Kermit and Vannie have no connection. And for a marriage team to work, there has to be a deep connection. Kermit and Vannie could never share their deepest, darkest secrets with each other. Kyle and Vannie already do. Kermit and Vannie could never depend on each other for their lives. Kyle and Vannie already have. Kermit and Vannie could never easily work together to solve problems. Kyle and Vannie did when they barely even knew each other. It would be next to impossible for Kermit and Vannie to be partners in life. However, Kyle and Vannie are already most of the way there.

5. Working for God’s kingdom 

Even with Kermit and Vannie both being Christians, imperfect as they both are, they would have a really hard time serving God’s kingdom together. Forget working together to serve God at Court, they couldn’t even come close to presenting their marriage as a picture of Christ and the Church! They’d be fighting too much. Vannie and Kyle, however, could do much to serve God at Court, in their vassalage(s), in their own home and marriage, because though things aren’t always hunky dory between them, again, they are a team.

 There you have it: five reasons why Kyle/Vannie is a much more perfect match than Kermit/Vannie. And it’s good food for thought besides.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Camp NaNo 2017 Week 3 Update

So I didn't update you on NaNo last week. Sorry. I had some things to say about contentment instead. 

Week 2 wasn't so great for writing. I lost steam, had a lot of things to do, and just didn't make myself sit down and write enough. And so I fell behind and didn't even finish the chapter until the beginning of week 3. (The way my NaNo goal works with my page-per-chapter goal, I have to write a chapter a week.) However, week 3 turned out to be fantastic. Vannie's emotions started running high, I really got into her head, and I finished a two-pages-too-long chapter last Saturday, putting me ahead on my page goal.

Another thing that happened regarding this story during week 3 was that I finally, thanks to Kendra, figured out who Kermit is as a person. She's been at me for awhile on how I need to find his positive qualities, and I just couldn't think of any. Then after we chatted for awhile on the difficulties of writing a middle grade-appropriate book about an ENFP who wants to be in a relationship (yeah, Vannie's being difficult that way), the talk turned to Kermit and she assigned me three pages written from Kermit's POV. And wow. Now I actually like him...and feel sorry for him. Turns out, he's not actually an annoying, book-hating glutton. He's a dyslexic, INFP stress eater who's terrified of Vannie and doesn't like to tell people what's really going on in his head. Oh yeah, and she's also very, very determined to never see anything good in him. Perspective changes things.

And now stats.

I think I'm going to make my goal. I just have to keep writing a chapter every week, so that I can finish the book in 2 1/2 months. That would be awesome.

My first snippet is from week 2 writing.

     "Do you listen to this child?" Gordan Holbrook demanded. "He disrespects his elders, calling into question my devotion to Briznom--he whose father tried to murder one of our members!"
     Kyle bristled. "I am not my father."
     Sir Strickland, a youngish man who had not served much longer than Kyle, though several years older, gained his feet. "No, you cozy up to the other side. You abandoned not just your father's immorality, but his entire belief system. You could not sift good from bad, but threw the baby out with the bathwater. You are nothing but a puppet of Sir Cumberland."
     "Kyle is his own man." Sir Cumberland joined the fray. "He already had a well-grounded set of principles when I met him. My family accepted him when his own rejected him, yes, but we never forced him to follow our beliefs."
     "And yet you refuse to let him speak for himself," Sir Maitland jumped in.

From week 3:

     Kyle cracked a small smile. He'd seen Kermit try to dance. "His dancing can't be helped. But his hands are probably clammy because he's nervous. I think you intimidate him. You intimidate a lot of people."
     I raised my eyebrows.
     "You're smart, knowledgeable, opinionated, feisty, overwhelming, determined, and you don't have the good sense to know when to stop. Ever. Which is why I'm not going to tell you what happened at Court until after you get through the ball."
     "And don't bother trying to get it out of Walter or your father. I've already made them agree you need to be kept in the dark or you'll never make it through the ball."
     "Kyle! You'll drive me crazy."
     "I know. It'll give you something to think about and keep you at the ball with Kermit, because I won't tell you otherwise."

And a bit from Kendra's assignment:

     "Here's your speech." Kermit's father handed him a card covered in several lines of writing.
     Kermit blinked at the writing, willing the swimming words to be still. Of course they wouldn't. Not for the first time, Kermit wished he'd told someone that it wasn't that he didn't like to read, it was that the letters never stayed still long enough. But everyone just thought him a poor student and a lazy one.
     I am the future Sir Cumberland. The thought reminded him that he had to get through this. Honestly, though, it sickened him. He'd never be able to understand all of Court's proceedings, never be able to draft legislation, never be able to make a compelling argument. Unlike Vannie. And that was the other half of his problems. However much he walked on eggshells around her, their relationship had never improved, and he was convinced it never would. She was too determined to see nothing good in him; he too scared of her to explain who he really was.

And there you have it: weeks 2 and 3 of Camp NaNo April 2017. And next week I should be done!

Monday, April 17, 2017

On Contentment

God wants us to be content. I think we all can agree on that. 

I used to think contentment was a simple matter, just be content with wherever you are in life, but I’ve recently realized that it’s rather more complicated than that. God absolutely wants us to be content within His will. Outside of His will, not so much. 

We’ve all had desires throughout our lives, desires that honor God, desires that dishonor Him, desires that are within His will, desires that are outside of it, even if they aren’t inherently wrong. If you’re anything like me, desiring something and not having it makes you discontent. Desiring to be a published author, to act in a movie, to play the violin, to have more siblings, to live on a farm, to teach music…these are all desires I’ve experienced over the years, and all of them have, at one time or other, made me discontent. 

Is it ever right to be discontent? The easy, simple answer is “no,” but I believe it’s more complicated than that. 

When I was sixteen, I began to feel it pressing on me that I needed to publish my books. I explored my options, didn’t like the ones I found, and began to wonder if this was, indeed, what I needed to do. Yet this desire to publish my books would not go away. I couldn’t shake it, I couldn’t be content to let my stories sit idly on the computer. Then finally, God put all the pieces in place for me to find the correct path for publishing my books. And I was able to be content. 

As an older child and young teen, I desperately wished for more siblings. I wanted a baby in the house, I wanted brothers, I wanted to be a part of a big family. I was discontent with the size of family God gave me. I prayed for more siblings, but finally I came to the realization that I would never get them. God showed me that He has a reason for giving me just two sisters, and I learned to be content with that. 

In my limited experience, the causes of discontent can be divided into two categories: fleshly desires and divine prompting. 

When our desire is of the flesh, it is most definitely wrong to be discontent. If it’s outside of God’s will, we have to give up that desire and submit to the Lord’s will, understanding that His way is better than our way. I had to give up my desire to have more siblings, my wish to be an actress. And being content with not having those things, because they are outside of God’s will for my life, I am much happier, and much more accepting of what God has for me. 

But when we are discontent because God is calling us to do something and we aren’t doing it, it’s a completely different story. I’ve heard about missionaries who just weren’t content at home, weren’t content until they went out into the mission field. God did not allow them to be content until they were following His calling. 

It’s hard to know whether a desire is of God or of the flesh. I am young and don’t have all the answers, but I would say that the best thing to do is to honestly and earnestly pray that God would remove those desires if they are not of Him. I can’t think of any reason why God would allow a person to continue to have sinful desires if their true wish is to honor Him. And if you’ve prayed long and hard for your desires to go away—truly wishing to serve God and honor Him—and they haven’t, I would think chances are very strong that they come from God, especially if they’ve only intensified instead. And God most certainly won’t let us be content with living our lives outside of His will. 

Yes, sometimes He’ll still make us wait—He made me wait six or seven years to learn to play the violin so He could move all the pieces into place and better prepare me for it—but that didn’t make the desire wrong. It doesn’t mean you’re sinning by being discontent. It means God is calling you to do something and He won’t let you rest until you do it. 

Strive to honor God in all that you do, in all that you wish to do. He will direct your path. He won’t let you continue in sin if you truly wish to honor Him and ask that He help you do so. And He won’t let you rest until you follow His calling. Don’t let fear or uncertainty hold you back, and don’t be so afraid that what you desire is wrong that you never do anything about it. Everything happens for a reason, even the desires of your heart. And when you lean on Him, He will direct your path.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Introducing GiraffeCrafts

Remember Indie e-Con a few weeks ago? Well, Kendra is launching a brand new site dedicated to the promotion of good, clean Indie Fiction. The main site isn't up yet - stay tuned for that later this month, but for now you can check out the blog where she'll be posting writing advice (because half the battle in marketing is having a book WORTHY of reading) as well as advice for editing, publishing, and marketing. It'll also be the home for future Indie e-Cons. Do stop by and have a visit - and consider becoming a contributor or joining her blogger and reviewer teams. 

Kendra has a lot more information over on her blog, so head over there to find out even more of her plans, join her mailing list, enter a giveaway for a free blog tour organization, and more! 

GiraffeCrafts on Social Media

Monday, April 10, 2017

Camp NaNo 2017 Week 1 Update

About two weeks ago, I was working on plotting the sequel to Espionage, and, as I was frustrated with my lack of progress on the Cassie story and was more interested in Vannie and Kyle, I decided to just go for it and start writing the story. Then I remembered Camp NaNo was about to start, looked to see if I could set a page goal instead of a word goal, saw I could, and decided spur of the moment to write the Espionage sequel for NaNo.

My goal is to write 40 pages this month, which should equate to roughly half the book. Espionage was 79 notebook paper pages, and I anticipate the sequel being somewhere between 80 and 100. The goal is fairly reasonable, so I should be able to make it, and possibly (hopefully) surpass it. 

My project description from NaNo is this: It's almost Vannie's 18th birthday--which means she'll finally have to marry Kermit. And Briznomians are mysteriously disappearing from the coastal villages. I'm not entirely sure yet how it'll all shake out, but I have a few plot goals floating around in my head which I'm eager to work into a cohesive storyline. I've already introduced a new character, Walter Stipland, and discovered that Kate has a beau, which is causing Vannie to have a hard time getting along with her. It's certainly been interesting.

So my stats.

I'm keeping ahead, though the "average per day" and the "at this rate you will finish on" are a bit confused as 40 cannot be divided evenly by 30 and NaNo apparently doesn't allow decimals (a fact which annoys me greatly).

So far, I've written in the church parking lot, at the dining room table, a little bit in the car, while camping on Skidaway Island where we waited out a tornado warning in the bathhouse (though I didn't write during the storm), and mostly in my bedroom. 

I'll give you a snippet, and leave you with that.

     "Kyle, they said you were here, and they said Sir Cumberland wasn't, which is a pity, because I need to talk to you both. It's a matter of importance at Court, and for Briznom, and Gordan won't take it, so you and Sir Cumberland will have to. Where is he?"
     "Good afternoon to you too, Walter," I said, swiping my face for remnants of tears.
     "Good afternoon, Vannie. Where is your father? He's older than Kyle and I, so we need his advice."
     "He and Mama took Kate visiting. She has a beau now, perhaps you've heard." I couldn't keep a sour note out of my voice. Kate and I hadn't been getting along well in the two months since she'd begun courting, which was entirely my fault. So was the warning glance Kyle sent my way.
     "What's going on, Walter?" Kyle asked. Walter did have to be prompted, if we wanted him to get to the point within a reasonable amount of time.
     "Villagers have been disappearing. It's been going on for several months now, but I've only just found out. Gordan says it isn't anything to worry about, it's probably just a story cooked up by peasants looking for fame, but Callie and I don't believe him. He may be her father, but neither of us trust him. He won't do anything, so that's why I needed to talk to you, Kyle, and to Sir Cumberland. When will he be back, Vannie?"

 Are you doing Camp NaNo this April? What do you want to see in a sequel to Espionage?