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KNOW THE NOVEL // Writer's Link-up!

It's a brand-spankin', shiny new, writerly link-up, y'all!!  And it's created by the Ever-Lovely Elvish Forest Queen Herself: Christine! of Musings of an Elf.  :]  :]  :]

Pop on over here to see the introductory post!


QUESTIONS

1.  What first sparked the idea for this novel?
Come to think of it, it was simply a name: SafiaI stumbled upon it years ago in one of my all-time favorite novels (by one of my all-time favorite authors), The Walking Drum by Louis L'Amour.  At that time, I believe the first few films of The Pirates of the Caribbean were extremely popular, so yes, you guessed it---PIRATES.  From there Safia's tale and storyworld just began to grow over the years.  And it has been years. . . (Going on about nine years. . . maybe?) I've worked on and revisited that WIP off and on many times.  And here I am again!! 

2.  Share a blurb!
 (still working on it, but. . .)

A rumored treasure trove, hidden.
A mysterious nobleman with vague intentions.
A prince seeking to follow his father's footsteps.
And an orphaned girl---the key to it all.

3.  Where does the story take place?  What are some of your favorite aspects about the setting?
In the world of Everon.  Much like our world, but different, of course.  :]  There's Elves, dragons, other awesome creatures, corrupt noblemen, bitter relatives, and handsome princes.  

Pirates.  SHIPS.  Battle at sea.  A sweet romance.  A prince learns to be a king.  TREASURE.  Sea shanties.  

4.  Tell us about your protagonist?
Safia is a sweet girl upon first impression.  But don't let the lovely exterior fool you into thinking she's fragile and easily broken.  She was raised aboard a sea-faring vessel amongst weather-beaten, battle-tough seamen whom she calls family, and she most likely knows more about the ocean and anything to do with ships than you'll ever learn from Google.  ;D  Safia has a sweet heart and lives to serve others and make them laugh.  She is a joy aboard her father's merchant ship.

5.  Who (or what) is your antagonist?
A nobleman who is extremely subtle and discreet in his intentions, but is as venomous as a snake.  And carries a grudge.  He may be one to seek revenge on those who have wronged him. . .  After all this time, he is still rather nameless. . . Nothing has really stuck. But I'm working on it!  To sum him up simply, he can be compared to a politician of our day.  *evil laugh*

6.  What excites you the most about this novel?
THE CHARACTERS.  For sure!  They're mah babies.  :D  They've been with me forever, it seems, and I've certainly put them through much.  heheh

7.  Is this going to be a series?  Standalone?  Something else?
A standalone.  Buuuuuuuut the other stories floating round my head are set in the same world and roughly same era/time as well.  So, there could be honorable mentions of mah babies throughout other tales.

Delani.  Myrander.  Joel.  Noya.  Brom.  

8.  Are you plotting?  Pantsing?  Plantsing?
Goshdarnitall.  
Definitely a plantser. . . I've said it before, plotting is such a difficult thing for me.  I can make a pretty decent outline and follow it well.  But coming up with awesome and unique plots is SO. HARD.  Characters, though, I can make new friends all the time!  (That goes along with my loving names)

9.  Name a few things that makes this story unique.
The rumored treasure.  
IF it exists, may not be what it seems. . .

Erm. . . I'm honestly not sure what else to say.  Is that intriguing enough???

10.  Share a fun "extra" of the story ( a song or full playlist, some aesthetics, a Pinterest board, a map you've made, a special theme you're going to incorporate, ANYTHING you want to share!).


I don't really have a playlist for this particular story (or any of my stories actually. . .), but my themes are a combo of Viking-ish/Norse things and and anything medieval.  :]  There's a HUGE level of value regarding family and loyalty to those you love that I'ma try to weave in also.

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There ya have it!  A great thank-you to Christine for hosting this link-up.  I so look forward to the upcoming questions! 

Whilst I focus on Safia's story for the next few weeks, my Beauty & the Beast retelling---Noya---is certainly not far from my mind.  Hopefully, I can return to it with fresh eyeballs and actually complete the first draft. . . 

Have a lovely weekend, dear beans!
Blessings. <3


Goings On || And Living ADORNED


Wow, dear beans.  Can you believe we are halfway through October??
Seriously, I cannot.  And my baby just passed the seven week mark last Monday. . . #WHUT  O___________O  He's growing so fast!  He weighs a little over ten pounds now from his 6 lb. 14 oz. birth weight.  I just want him to please stay little!

 In regards to the lovely quote above, my mother is hosting a Bible study/book club on Thursdays and we're going through the book Adorned by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.  It studies the Scripture of Titus 2 and just what it means to be a woman of God---for the older to teach the younger---and the how and why of living adorned.  

Essentially, we are to adorn Christ and live out the beauty of the gospel.  How does one do that?  Well, I don't have an answer just yet, but I'm working on it.  :]  

It's so lovely just to get together with other ladies of all ages and to simply study the Word.  I've really missed that the past year.

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As to other goings on, my new job as a mama is certainly FULL TIME.  And let me tell ya, there is NOTHING like it in all the world.  It's difficult, to be frank, but when I see my little boy's tiny hands and feet or watch as his face cracks in a wide smile, it is soooooooooo darn worth it.  

BATH TIME || Instagram || @sarahpenmaiden

 The Silmarillion
by J.R.R. Tolkien
Currently on a back-burner. . . It's a little dryer reading than I'm used to (although I'm loving it), so I'm reading a little at a time whilst going back and forth on a couple of the following books:

Raising Dragons
(Dragons in Our Midst #1)
by Brian Davis
This is the first re-read I've read in I don't know how long.  I found the copy at McKay's and had to add to my personal library (how I didn't have the whole series ages ago is a mystery).  And it is JUST AS GOOD AS I REMEMBER.

Burning Thorns
A Retelling of Beauty & the Beast
{BETA READ}
Technically, this one is not yet published---I'm currently a beta reader for it---but I'm TOTALLY counting it cuz it'll be on your shelves soon, BELIEVE ME.  I'm SOOOOOOOO proud of dear Christine for making it this far in her steps to be published, and I've no doubt she'll do just that. 

The Assassin's Daughter #2
 {BETA READ}
Another beta read!! I'm ECSTATIC, y'all---I'm a beta reader for TWO novels.  So blessed to have this opportunity.  And SOOOOOOOOO proud of this girl as well!  She's already published one novel and she's preparing this sequel now.  I'm really enjoying the continuation of Kat and Ed's story.

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NEXT ON THE TBR LIST
Caraval by Stephanie Garber
Fawkes by Nadine Brandes
Both of those were bargain finds at a couple different bookstores!  I'd been looking for them since they've been all over social media---SO HAPPY.  Can't wait to get into them.  xD
Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly
MERMAIDS, y'all.  MERMAIDS.
Been attempting to catch up on all of my bloggy friends blogs today, and I've seen some fun link-ups I may try to tackle.  I love those things because they challenge you on your characters' make-up and storyworld.  My stories have been gathering a bit too much dust lately, I'm hoping to grab the shop-vac of my brain and hit 'em hard these next couple weeks. 

Also, NANOWRIMO.

I'm afraid I have not the time to properly take on NaNo this November, but I may try to do it my own way.  I won't have the word goal, but I may set a time goal of, say, ten minutes a day, and see where it goes from there.  I've been wanting to look at a couple of my concept story ideas, which are set in different genre from my fantasy WIP.  Noya's tale seems to be kinda stuck, so I was thinking I'd work in a different world before coming back to it---a fresh start.

What do you think?
How do you keep your stories fresh and going?

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Well, happy Wednesday, all.  I'll be back Friday for a link-up. :] *waves*
Have a lovely evening!

Book Review | The Orphan's Wish

The Orphan's Wish
(Hagenheim #8)
Melanie Dickerson

Thomas Nelson | June 26, 2018
Christian Fiction, Faerietale Retellings, Medieval 

{GoodReads}
Orphaned and alone, Aladdin travels from the streets of his Arab homeland to a strange, faraway place. Growing up in an orphanage, he meets young Lady Kirstyn, whose father who is the powerful Duke of Hagenheim. Despite the difference in their stations, Aladdin quickly becomes Kirstyn’s favorite companion, and their childhood friendship grows into a bond that time and opposition cannot break.

Even as a child, Aladdin works hard, learning all he can from his teachers. Through his integrity, intelligence, and sheer tenacity, he earns a position serving as the duke’s steward. But that isn't enough to erase the shame of being forced to steal as a small child—or the fact that he's an orphan with no status. If he ever wants to feel equal to his beautiful and generous friend Kirstyn, he must leave Hagenheim and seek his fortune.

Yet once Aladdin departs, Lady Kirstyn becomes a pawn in a terrible plot. Now, Aladdin and Kirstyn must rely on their bond to save her from unexpected danger. But will saving Kirstyn cost Aladdin his newfound status and everything he’s worked so hard to obtain? 

An enchanting new version of the well-known tale, The Orphan's Wish tells a story of courage and loyalty, friendship and love, and reminds us what "family" really means.


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WARNING: Possible Spoilers
I was provided a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.

{The Basics}
It's the newest sequel to the faerietale retellings in the Hagenheim series!  Even though this particular tale follows Kirsten, the daughter of the duke of Hagenheim, and there are recurring mentions of previous characters from the previous novels, this story can be read as a stand-alone.  

This tale follows the childhood friendship of Kirsten and Aladdin.  Orphaned at five years of age, Aladdin was taken in by a greedy man and forced to steal for him.  Even at age five, he knew such things were wrong and that past and what he did then has haunted him.  But God saw fit to save him from such a life and he was rescued and brought to Hagenheim, where he was raised in the orphanage there and tutored with a high education.  Everything he set out to do he succeeded and did well.

Kirsten, as daughter of the duke, never lacked for anything in her life, but in her rather large family, she has always felt the least talented and "unextraordinary."  She has a love for exploring and adventure, and a passion for the little orphans she and her mother visit.  Kirsten and Aladdin form a friendship that grows with every passing year, but it isn't until Aladdin sets out to leave Hagenheim to make his fortune that both of them realize they could become something more.

{Spiritual Content}
Aladdin is a Saracen of an Arabic, pagan country.  He is rescued by a man known as Priest, who teaches him the way of the Christian and brings him to know Christ as his Saviour.  

Both Kirsten and Aladdin pray often.  Aladdin often dubts that God could love him because of his past.  During a great trial in her life, Kirsten prays daily for rescue, but some days are harder than others and she forgets His faithfulness.  Aladdin blames God at one point, but asks forgiveness.

{Violence}
Aladdin and another boy are beaten/slapped if they do not do as their master wishes, or if they failed him in any way.  

A boy is mauled and nearly killed by a mama bear when he and his friend stumble upon her and her cub.  His leg is severely injured and his body and shoulder in particular are slashed up rather badly.  (He recovers well, though his leg does bother him later in life.)  In an effort to save him, his friend grabs a walking stick and proceeds to hit the bear in the face as a distraction until a knight arrives.  

Highway robbers attempt to rob a traveling rich man, but Aladdin and his escort intervene.  The rich man's security men had been poisoned, but survive thanks to Aladdin and his knowledge of herbs.

A girl is kidnapped and held for many months by her captors.  She's kept tied constantly and her wrist is always bloody and raw.  She's beaten or slapped as punishment (but never specifically abused).  A sword fight ends in a man dead and justice served.

{Love-y Content}
It's quite obvious from the first time, Aladdin sees Kirsten that he'd be a goner.  However, they have a sweet friendship that grows and grows.  And she is the reason, though he doesn't want to admit to himself right away, that he leaves Hagenheim to make his fortune.  He knows he has no chance in marrying a daughter of a duke otherwise.  Kirsten could care less about any fortune, once she realizes she's always loved her dearest friend.  But she comes to understand why he wished to leave.  They write letters often.

{Conclusion}
This was a sweet little story, though I felt it kinda dragged on at some parts and I found myself wishing to move on a little quicker.  Still, it was an easy read and I enjoyed getting back into the world of Hagenheim and watching Aladdin and Kirsten's tale unfold.

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Ages 15+

I'm Back!

Well, hullo there!
I'm back from an extended hiatus and with a new addition to my little family. . .

On Monday, August 27th, Evan and I welcomed little Gabriel James into the world.

the proud new daddy | Instagram
If you happen to follow me on Instagram, you've probably already seen these photos---but they're too cute not to share again on here.  :D

Below is Gabe with his new friend, Hobbes, that my sister Julia and her hubby Walker got for him.  (Anyone else grow up reading Calvin & Hobbes??  I'm pretty sure I was more excited than Gabriel when we received this particular plushie)

Hobbes & Gabe | Instagram
Doggie beds have multiple uses, didja know that??  We'd purchased this pillow as a floor cushion for guests as we have limited seating for a whole hassle of beans (aka peeps, aka people).  But turns out it's an excellent napper as well!  Isn't he just adorbs?

Instagram
<3 <3 <3

Instagram
Me & my little family (+ Hobbes). 

And the two became THREE | Instagram
And lastly, me.  At Hobby Lobby.
For nearly two weeks, I rested and relaxed and recovered while my hubby and family took care of me and cooked and cleaned my house.  #SOBLESSED
It's been so nice to get out of the house every now and then and show off my baby.  You wouldn't believe how many people stop to take a peek at him (or how many comment on his rather full head o' hair.  ;D  I've had a couple people think he was a girl...). xD

Instagram
Today, he is three weeks old!  These days have flown by, but it seems like yesterday we were bringing him home.  Time certainly flies the older you get, but once you have children it seems to go even faster---if that's possible.  
As the season of Thanksgiving approaches, I'm constantly reminded even more so than usual of just how much I have to be thankful for.  And it's still almost hard to believe I have a little son who depends on me now.  Wow.  Mind-blowing, this parenthood thing.  But so amazing and such a high calling.
God is so good.

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It's so good to be back!
I've missed the blogging world and all me bloggy friends.  I'm hoping to be able to catch up on all my favorite blogs when I can.  And to somehow get into a groove of posting again.  I'm still reviewing books, so expect my thorough reviews every now and then!  

Happy Monday, y'all!