Monday, August 31, 2020

Every Character Counts (+ Acktorek Cover Reveal Sign-Up)

The cover reveal for Acktorek Book 1: The Void will be in 2 weeks! Mark your calendar for September 14! If you want to help share the cover on your blog and/or social media, fill out this form:

Now, onto the main post. I saw this on Pinterest a couple weeks ago and it struck me as interesting.
Dexter Jettster was the person who identified the toxic dart for Obi-Wan after he ran into a dead end with the Temple droids. This set off a chain reaction that sent Obi-Wan to Kamino where he discovered the clone army, met Jango, followed him to Geonosis, discovered the beginnings of the Separatist plot, sent a message to Anakin, got captured, and then Anakin, PadmΓ©, and a bit later, the Jedi and the clones showed up and the first battle of the Clone Wars happened. Dex is an important link in the chain of events that led to the Clone Wars. Without him, the clone army wouldn't even have been discovered, and then who knows what would have happened.

Phasma, on the other hand...well, she taunts Finn a couple times, and deactivates the shields on Starkiller Base at blasterpoint. Take out Phasma, and not much really changes, except we lose the trash compactor joke and Han and Finn have to take down the shields the old fashioned way with an astromech or some detonators.

Contrasting the two characters and their effect on the plot was interesting to me, especially given that in one scene, Dex had a much larger effect on the plot than Phasma did throughout several scenes. And it made me think: every character should be there for a reason.

Quick side problem with Phasma is more with the marketing than with the character itself. The marketing made her seem like she was going to be a big deal character with an important role, and she turned out to be a minor character whose role was essentially to be Finn's superior when he was a stormtrooper. It is a role with a purpose, but it's not a role the marketing, and the fact that she was constantly at cast interviews, made me expect.

Every character should have an important role to play in the plot. They should have an actual reason to be there. Otherwise, they're just clutter.

Don't add characters just because they're cool, or because you "need" more female characters (or to fulfill any other PC "requirement"), or because you just want your character to have a big family (this one is a weakness of mine). Readers and viewers don't need a huge cast of characters that don't actually need to be there to keep track of.

For instance, in my original concept of Creighton Hill, the Hubbards had twelve kids and Joey was the only boy (Allan didn't exist at the time). But that was just too much. And all those extra older sisters had no effect on anything. So they vanished. Not saying all the Time Captives themselves had an important role...I tried, but there are a couple who are mostly just there to fulfill the pattern, which is not a good reason to add a character.

Say what you want about Jar Jar Binks, but if you think about it, he actually does have an important role to play in The Phantom Menace. Without Jar Jar, there's no alliance with the Gungans, and no army to keep the droids occupied long enough for the Naboo to retake Theed Palace and for Anakin to destroy the droid control ship. (And there's also no character gullible enough to give Palpatine emergency powers whose also in that circle, but anywho...) Jar Jar wasn't just randomly thrown in there. He was there for a reason. Not his fault the majority of people think he's annoying. (I personally like Jar Jar, though I'm not sure I needed to know that he had a girlfriend. Not as bad as Sy Snootles and Zirro the Hutt, though. πŸ˜›)

Sometimes a character's role is important because they are impacting the main character. Whether that's influencing them to be a kinder, more considerate person (Mater and Lightning McQueen), or planting seeds of the dark side (Palpatine and Anakin), they're playing an important role in the main character's journey. And sometimes they're actually the one orchestrating the plot of the entire saga behind the scenes. Literally the "grand plan" as it was called in Darth Plagueis by James Luceno.

Also, when you need a role fulfilled, before you create a brand new character, you should consider whether you have a character already who can fill that role. Like in Time Captives when I realized Anna was making things, well, not very interesting, I swapped her out on the adventure with the already existing Emily. I didn't create Emily to add conflict on the journey. In fact, the concept of an annoying fourteen-year-old sister is one of the few things that has been there since the beginning. I had a role I needed filled, and I had a character ready made. I just had to plug her in. (Now, I probably could have cut Anna altogether without losing anything other than the ice cream joke, but I didn't, so oh well.)

Now about minor characters and extras. Minor characters are going to be your tiny role characters that pop in to do a little thing for our main cast and then pop back out. But it's a role that someone has to do. Like Ric OliΓ© in The Phantom Menace. PadmΓ© had to have a pilot. His name was Ric OliΓ©. He flew her ship and Anakin hung out with him on the way to Coruscant, and that was about it, but without Ric OliΓ©, they wouldn't have had a pilot. Or Taun We in Attack of the Clones. Her part is small, but she's one of the Kaminoan cloners, which if you know anything about the Prequel Trilogy and the Clone Wars, you know that's a pretty darn important role. Very small, but important. And she made me so mad in The Clone Wars series when she was helping cover up Order 66 when Fives found out and then Fives ended up dying and 😭😭😭. Point is, though, these characters were there for a reason.

You're probably not going to have extras as much in a book as in a movie or TV show, since those are just the people in the background, and it's a little harder to just have people hanging out in the background unnoticed in a book. Since, you know, you actually have to mention them for them to exist in the mind of the reader. But say there's a crowd. Those people in the crowd are just there to flesh out the background. Don't really add to the plot. They're just there to make it look realistic. Like most of the clones. Or a lot of the Jedi at the First Battle of Geonosis.

The thing in Star Wars, though, is that they liked to give all the extras/people with teeny tiny parts names and then people would use those extras in other media and they wouldn't actually be extras anymore. Like Luminara Unduli, Barriss Offee 😬, "Dad" Plo Koon, Yaddle, Adi Gallia, Aurra Sing, Commander Cody, Wedge Antilles...I could go on. (Though Luminara and Barriss actually were major characters in The Approaching Storm by Alan Dean Foster which came out as a prequel to Attack of the Clones.)

A few last points before I go. Don't introduce a bunch of new characters in the last installment of a series unless they're absolutely essential. There's already so much going on, and you won't have time to delve into all these new characters' stories and still do justice to what you've already got going. *cough* The Rise of Skywalker *cough* Something's going to give. You don't need extra loose ends to tie up that you didn't actually have to introduce at all. And finally, please, for the love of all expectations, don't act like your minor characters are major characters. Minor characters absolutely have a place, but don't hype them up to be something they're not.

And if your minor characters somehow generate a fan base (Wedge Antilles, Admiral Piett), well, it happens. I mean, I was super excited by Wedge's cameo in The Rise of Skywalker, and he did have a pretty significant role in Legends. πŸ˜

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Poison's Dance Review

Poison’s Dance

Beyond the Tales #3
If he falls to the lure of the curse, the dance might trap him forever.

Alex has survived his first year as high king. The new counsel has improved cooperation between the kingdoms, and peace seems achievable. When the Tuckawassee queen sends him an invitation he can’t refuse, Alex must once again face his greatest threat for the sake of peace.

Princess Tamya of Tuckawassee, along with her eleven sisters, has danced from sunset until sunrise every night of her life. It is her gift and her curse. When Queen Valinda wishes to use the power their cursed dance gives them to rule all of Tallahatchia, Tamya must decide if she will do what is right even if it betrays her ow
n sister.

Daemyn Rand has survived a hundred years' worth of battles. All he wants to do now is safely marry his princess. Will he be forced to choose between the love of his life and the high king he has loyally served for years?

They have faced certain death before. This time, they might not make it out alive.

Don’t miss this re-envisioning of the Twelve Dancing Princesses fairy tale.

My Review

Poor Alex. He's grown up so much since the first book, but being the high king of Tallahatchia really makes him a target for curses.

I would say, it's prooooobably better if you don't read 80+ books in between the first two books and this one as it did take a bit for me to reorient myself in the world and remember what happened before, but I got my bearings a lot better with this one than I did with the last Mysterious Benedict Society book.

I really do love the worldbuilding in this series. It's just so different from what you'd expect from a fairy tale series, having that strong Native American feel, but with castles, and somehow it really works.

I'm not as familiar with the Twelve Dancing Princesses as I am with Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella, but reading through the Wikipedia summary of the fairy tale, I can see how Tricia included all the important elements, but with twists that blend it seamlessly into the already established world. And poor Alex. He's learned a LOT from his experiences in the previous book, and it shows in how he handles this difficult situation. And I don't want to say too much because if I do, I'll give major spoilers, but the ending was pretty tense there for a bit. Man. Let's just say it reminded me of a particular BBC Merlin season 1 episode, but with much more dire consequences.

There's not a ton of Daemyn and Rosanna together in this one, but what we do get is great. I love the two of them very much. 😊

All in all, a worthy installment in the Beyond the Tales series, and I'm looking forward to their next adventure!

Author Bio

Tricia Mingerink is a twenty-something, book-loving, horse-riding country girl. She lives in Michigan with her family and their pack of pets. When she isn't writing, she can be found pursuing backwoods adventures across the country.
Find her online at: Website || Goodreads || Facebook || Twitter || Instagram || Amazon 

Monday, August 24, 2020

The Dancing Princess Review

Kendra has a new fairy tale retelling out! It's a twist on the Twelve Dancing Princesses, and it's definitely an interesting take on it. Check it out!

The Dancing Princess 

A Twist of Adventure #5
Plagued by nightmares for the last few years, Katrine only wanted answers. Instead, she finds herself trapped in a tangled web of melody as she tries to free a cursed king and his brothers. No one deserves existence such as theirs, but dare she risk her very life? 

My Review

Twelve brothers are trapped in a curse. They need a songweaver to free them. Only songweavers have tried, and no one remembers any of them.

Enter Katrine, a girl plagued with strange nightmares, who just might be able to break their curse.

This story was fairly short, but it does well telling the story within the limited space. The worldbuilding is interesting, and I do wish there had been more time to delve into it, but for what space there was, it was good. It's quite different from the fairy tale, from what I can tell, but that didn't make it any less entertaining.

The Dancing Princess is a fun, quick read and a neat twist on a lesser known fairy tale.

Author Bio

Kendra E. Ardnek is the self-proclaimed Arista of Fairy Tales. She lives in the Piney Woods of East Texas with her dragon babies and massive herd of mini-giraffes, and she is still waiting for one of of her fifty nutcrackers to come to life and marry her. When not writing, you can usually find her sitting in a random box, and she's frequently known to act before she thinks.
Find her online at: Website || Blog || Goodreads || Facebook || Twitter || YouTube || Newsletter || Instagram || TikTok || Amazon

Monday, August 17, 2020

My Favorite Fictional Characters Are Like What? pt. 2

"How 'bout a girl who's got a brain
Who always speaks her mind?"

I started thinking about common characteristics in my favorite female characters because I'm having trouble connecting with Hadassah in Mark of the Lion, and I wanted to figure out why. I think it's because she's kind of mousey. She's firm in her faith, and she's kind and giving, which are all great characteristics, but she has very little spunk, and she's not particularly stubborn. She's never going to tell someone off the way Gwen did Arthur (quickly followed by ducking her head and saying, "my lord" πŸ˜†), she's never going to take down a droideka, and I kinda doubt she knows what banter or friendly bickering even is. So basically I tend to like my girl characters spunky and stubborn with something of a mouth on 'em. Wonder what that says about me...πŸ˜‰

As a kid, there were three characters I very badly wanted to play in a movie or TV series: Jill Pole (Narnia), Meg Murry (A Wrinkle in Time), and Darra Thel-Tanis (Jedi Quest series). I'm too old for...all three of them now, but I stand by my opinion that I could have pulled off Meg way better than the girl in the 2017 movie. She was just too sweet to make Meg's attitude believable. Anywho, on to the characters themselves.

Do I want to admit the ways I relate to Jill Pole? I guess I'd better. Jill argues a lot. I mean, it's pretty constant. She's easily distracted from her quest by the idea of hot baths and sleeping in a bed again. (I like being outside and I like the idea of adventures, but, yeah, I think I'd have been tempted by Harfang too.) And she's squeamish to begin with. Throughout the fight with the serpent she was going "I hope I don't faint—or blub—or do anything idiotic." (Though she did fight and kill enemies in The Last Battle. She got tougher for sure.) She's certainly not the mousey, sweet kind of character. She's stubborn, not afraid to say what she thinks, kind of a showoff at the beginning of The Silver Chair, and she develops skill with a bow and arrows, and with tracking and moving silently through the woods. Ooh, does that mean that by The Last Battle, she was a Ranger? But I know the Four Signs better than she did. I'm still proud of that fact.

I always really connected with Meg. She's got a temper, she's stubborn, she's determined, and she really loves her family. (Still want Charles Wallace to be my little brother.) And yes, she has kind of an attitude. I'd like to think I grew out of the attitude I had when I met Meg Murry, but I'm sure I could tap into it if I wanted to. She has some major flaws, but your weaknesses are always your secret strengths. She learns to turn that stubbornness in a positive direction, holding onto her love for her brother with a tenacity unparalleled. I need to go reread this book for the millionth time.

Okay, so Darra's a little different because she's the kind of person I want to be. She's a determined sort too, and she's good with a lightsaber (except when Anakin accidentally pushed her into the line of fire or in that whole disaster on Korriban that was not her fault, but anyway). She's positive and selfless and cheerful and kind, and I love her wisecracking, sarcastic sense of humor.

*after Anakin and Ferus agree on something for one of the only times ever* "We have an agreement. Remind me to declare this an annual holiday once we get back to the Temple."

“Remind me to get you guys the next time my comlink malfunctions. You’d probably rebuild it into a cargo lifter.”

Anne is the character everyone knows. Emily is the L.M. Montgomery character I relate to most. She's also stubborn, and though she's not the chatterbox Anne is, she will say what she thinks. (Well, except when it comes to Teddy. Those feelings she holds close, and that's a situation she's also very stubborn in.) She's got the "Murray pride" for sure. Emily's "Flash" is the same kind of feeling I always got when reading the last few paragraphs of The Last Battle as a kid. She's very serious about her writing, determined to climb the Alpine Path. She's destroyed writing she wished she hadn't, though Seller of Dreams was good, and I just think it would be fun if I could pull out "The Silly Monster and the Seven Orphan Babies" or "Seven Dogs for Anda." Writing is as much a part of her as breathing, but she also went through a period of time where she couldn't write. I've written multiple letters to myself in the future because Emily did. And when I read the Emily books, I feel understood.

I mean, Peeta's my favorite character in THG, hands down, but Katniss is still important to me, and I'm not sure Emma Edsel would be here without her. She's also a stubborn one...stubborn and good with a bow, as Peeta said. Her life story is a tragic one. She'll never be the same. She may be stubborn and not come off as a nurturing sort, but she's willing to sacrifice everything for her sister. And while some of her decisions as her mind goes cuckoo may be questionable, it's undeniable that her initial motivation comes from a good place.

Stubborn, spunky, got a mouth on 'er...yup. Anne fits the bill. I do relate to Anne, even though I relate to Emily more. I'm a chatterbox, and have I mentioned I'm stubborn? I've got a wild imagination... I think we all probably know Anne pretty well, so I'll leave this here. (But I'm never dyeing my hair. Anne scarred me for that.)

Belle's a good mix of sweet and spunky, and that's what I love. She's willing to look past the outward appearance and see the heart, but she's also not afraid to yell at people if that's what needs doing. "You should learn to control your temper!" She's fiercely loyal, and self-sacrificial when it comes to her loved ones. She has to be pretty stubborn to hold out against Gaston as she has. And she loves books.

Feistypants. 😁 Anna's a very determined sort of individual. She won't leave Elsa no matter what, and even charged up the mountain by herself still in her ball gown in the snow. She's quirky and fun, but I'd say she qualifies for stubborn. And Kristoff even calls her "feistypants."

Mara Jade Skywalker is really cool. She's stubborn and loyal and her son got his mouth from somewhere. πŸ˜‰ I really do love when she calls Luke "Farmboy." She's very capable; she was trained as an assassin by Palpatine. I suppose you could describe her as a Jedi Black Widow. But what I also love about Mara is that even with her background and her skills and her personality, she's a good team player (at any rate, when Zahn writes her), and especially when she's teaming up with Luke. She's totally willing to argue with him when he wants to put himself in danger doing something they both know suits her skill set better, and she wins the arguments, but she's not afraid to step aside and let him do the thing when it's something he's better at. She's probably not "feminist enough" (kinda like Claire from Jurassic World) because despite being so awesome and capable, she's very much in love with Luke and is proud to be his wife, refusing to let people leave Skywalker off of her name. But that just makes me love her more.

Snips is also stubborn and has a mouth on 'er. πŸ˜† She's snarky and impulsive, brave and kind, and she goes through so much. She was a cocky little thing when we met her, and she's so much more mature by the Siege of Mandalore. Disillusioned in regards to the Jedi, after how they handled what Barriss did to her (still mad about that), but Trace and Rafa recognize in her what a Jedi should be. Someone selfless who helps people. Plus Ahsoka's just plain cool. And her banter with Anakin is great. They're such siblings. And it's too soon after finishing the Final Season, so I need to go cry.

I have to make a list of some honorable mentions, because my list was way too long and I had to cut some. So here goes. Kit Tyler (The Witch of Blackbird Pond), Polly Plummer (Narnia), Eilonwy (Prydain), Siri Tachi (Star Wars Legends), Kyrin Altair (Ilyon Chronicles), Aravis (Narnia). And I could probably go on, but I think those are the most important.

So yes, I like stubborn girls with spirit, who aren't afraid to speak their mind, but I also like them to be compassionate. To love their families, and be willing to help others. Not every character I love has every characteristic I like, obviously, but these are the sorts of characters I can relate to, characters I can find something of myself in.

And I still want to be Jill Pole.

Monday, August 10, 2020

My Favorite Fictional Characters Are Like What? pt. 1

I always thought I didn't have a "type." Because, I mean, Teddy Kent looks nothing like Peeta Mellark, and Sam Gamgee and Luke Skywalker could not be more different. (Though Luke is short, just not hobbit short...)

But I was thinking about my favorite fictional guys (and girls too, but I'll get to that in a bit) and I noticed a pattern of...guys who take forever to talk to/get the girl, or don't get the girl at all looking at you, Obi-Wan Kenobi. And I was like, "what?" I mean, I've liked Teddy Kent (Emily of New Moon series) since I was 15, and man is that an extreme example of takes forever to get the girl, but that there are others like Teddy? Whhhyyyyyy?????? This from the girl who hates relationship drama with a vengeance. 😜 But I stick by my faves.

The king of it all is Teddy, and why do I like him? I dunno. He's an artistic, quiet, dreamy sort of person, and despite knowing Emily since they were kids, it takes them until ten years after high school to actually get together (yes, I went through Emily's Quest once counting the years). Part of it's not totally his fault *River Song voice* "Spoilers," but if he hadn't let his shyness keep him from telling her how he felt about her in person when they finished high school like he tried to do and then didn't, it wouldn't be a problem. Or any of the myriad opportunities throughout the years where they instead perpetuated their misery. Just FYI, Emily's Quest is kinda depressing. But yet I like it. Happy for deep people?
Peeta Mellark. Notices Katniss when his father points her out on the first day of school when they're five years old. Likes her pretty much from the start. Saves her life by giving her bread when they're eleven. Doesn't talk to her until they're reaped in the Hunger Games at age 16. Then doesn't tell her to her face that he likes her, but mentions it in their televised interviews after asking to be coached separately. But he really is a good guy who loves her unconditionally and does all he can to protect her...until he gets hijacked and I'm never going to get over that. But eventually it's as okay as it can ever be after all they've been through and they're together.

"Go on, Sam. Ask Rosie for a dance."
"I think I'll have another ale."
"No you don't." *Frodo pushes Sam to Rosie*

Didn't think Sam counted for this until I remembered. He wouldn't even go ask Rosie to dance before the whole Mount Doom thing happened. And that adventure gave him the courage to go straight to her when they got back (after 13 months of near death). Merry and Pippin's faces in that scene are the best. πŸ˜†

Hey, Luke and Mara also took ten years (and a near death experience) to get together. I mean, Luke did have other girlfriends, but several of them were only after him to use him/betray him, one of them being straight up an Imperial and later Sith. (I mean, Mara was a former Emperor's Hand and when they met she wanted to kill him, but that's beside the point. She stopped wanting to kill him in 9 ABY and they didn't get married until 19 ABY.) For ten years, he'd ask her to come complete her Jedi training, and then when she came he'd barely spend any time with her because he was focused on his students and so she'd leave. Until Han Solo and Talon Karrde decided they needed to force Luke and Mara to spend time together, and, well, things didn't go how anyone thought they would, but Luke and Mara ended up trapped in collapsed, rapidly flooding caves pretty much sure they were going to die, getting engaged. So things worked out. Eventually. Until Darth Caedus, but that's another story.


Obi-Wan just straight out gave up the girl because his duty to the Jedi (and her duty to the Jedi) was more important than their love. I'm talking Legends here, because it's Siriwan all the way for me. (Though to be fair, he gave up Satine too. I'm just not a Satine fan.) See, as padawans, Obi-Wan and Siri were several times paired up on missions and on one when they're in their upper teens, they discover their love for each other. And very shortly thereafter put their commitment to the Jedi above their feelings. And their friendship isn't quite the same, they're still a good team, but there's a barrier between them. And when finally they talk about it again, twenty years later during the Clone Wars, well, then she gets killed. But yet Secrets of the Jedi by Jude Watson (where this all happens) has been my favorite Star Wars book since I was 13. Whhhhyyyyyy??????? (I mean, it's a really good book, but 😭😭😭😭😭😭😭)

For Arthur, it's not his fault. Gwen's a servant and he's the crown prince and so he has to wait until his father dies and he becomes king, and then Agravaine and Morgana try to mess it up further. So they aren't able to get married until the end of season 4 of 5.

I'll finish up with Will Treaty. To be perfectly honest, Will's a real dope when it comes to girls. Brilliant battle strategist, completely clueless about girls. And so despite growing up with Alyss and her obvious interest in him, it's years before he tells her he loves her, and then it's only to break her out of a hypnotic trance wherein she's literally about to be forced to kill him. And then she's not sure he actually said that and he's not going to bring it up, and so they're all awkward about it. But at least Horace knows what went down and tells Alyss to just ask Will about it, that they need to stop thinking so much about things and come out and say them. So Alyss writes him a letter and Will goes to her and they're finally a thing, but yet 4 books later, Will's still kind of an idiot about girls. But Will Treaty is amazing. Just sayin'. November 3rd can't come soon enough.

So yeah, all these guys who are too shy or too clueless or too duty-bound to get the girl in a reasonable amount of time. Why do I like them? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I mean, they're all great characters, but that's a strange trend that I can't pretend to explain. Especially since such behavior creates relationship drama and I hate relationship drama. But yet...yeah, I can't explain why my faves have this in common.

Well, that went on longer than I thought it would, so I'll talk about the type of girl characters I tend to like best/relate to most next week. See ya then!

Monday, August 3, 2020

What Is a Plan, Anyway?

This is me realizing on Sunday afternoon that I forgot to write a blog post because NaNo.

Anyway, I started thinking while I was loading the dishwasher after lunch, and this is probably going to be rambly because I still have NaNo brain, but here goes.

I don't have everything figured out.

Primarily, I was thinking about this in regards to writing. I've been trying (with a half-functioning NaNo brain) to talk my sister through writing the second half of a book. We've talked through character arcs and story structure and reactive vs. proactive character actions, and it's been good. Actually helping me better process those things and try to identify them in my own writing. But I don't have all the answers. I can't tell her the perfect way to implement them in her book, or even a perfect way I've implemented them in mine (because I'm still learning too).

I'm also struggling still with Acktorek book 2. I know the general storyline and I have adequate worldbuilding for what I'm doing, but there's still so much I don't know. I'm struggling to figure out Emma's mental state and character arc. I'm struggling to figure out how Emma and Mitchell work as a team, what their particular strengths and weaknesses are and how they complement each other in this story. I'm having trouble figuring out how to seamlessly weave all the elements together into a cohesive whole.

But that's okay. I don't have to get it all right at this very moment. I mean, book 1 went out to betas on its 6th draft, and I'm about to head into editing again based on feedback. And I have a lot of work to do, not because it's a bad book—so far my betas and cover model have really liked it—but because I haven't figured everything out yet.

Am I going to have it all perfect by the time it's published? Well, the question we should be asking is "Is any book ever perfect?" No, it won't be, because they never are. But it will be the best I can make it at this stage in my writing journey.

Is this draft of book 2 going to be perfect? Not by a long shot. That's what subsequent drafts are for, for digging deeper, finding and correcting plot holes, fleshing things out. And eventually it'll be the best I can make it.

But it's not just in writing that I don't know everything, that I'm still learning and figuring things out as I go. It's in everything. And you know what? That's okay. I can't wait until I know everything to do things, because then I'll be waiting forever. I can't feel so overwhelmed by my inadequacies that I don't try. And believe me, this weekend in particular, all the things I'm not sure how to handle in Acktorek 2 are tempting me to give up and work on something else that will be "easier." (Though they never really are.) But I won't. It takes work and determination and risk to move forward in life. And figuring things out as I go along.

And this is only sort of related, but mostly I just want to share it because it was inspiring to me in church this week. We can't flee from hard, scary, dangerous things. We can't hide in safety away from life. Because it's easy to prize that safety and security above God. And God doesn't want us to run away from the things that are hard, to flee from our enemies, whatever form they may take. God commands us to be strong and courageous, He encourages us and is with us in everything. God rules. He is in control of everything. And He rewards those who live in righteousness, those who seek Him and live according to His will.

So no, I don't have it all figured out. Yes, I often want to give up and run away from my problems, or the things that are hard, or the things where I just don't know what to do. But that's the wrong response. It's okay that I don't have all the answers and that there are scary risks in life because God does have all the answers and He is in control of all these things I feel like are out of control, or I don't understand, or think I can't actually do.

Anyway, I'm not sure how coherent all this is, but these are my Sunday afternoon thoughts this week. I know I don't ever repost sermons on here, but I'd strongly encourage you to listen to this one, because it was really good and especially relevant. God's got this.