Monday, October 16, 2017

What's in a Name?

A new set of names, my friends!  

Can you believe there's approximately TWO WEEKS left until NaNo??  TT_TT AHHHHHH!!! I'm not ready!!!  *runs away sobbing and simultaneously laughing hysterically*

Ahem.

Anyone in need of names for your NaNo characters?  You've come to the write place!!  (<---  heehee See what I did there?)  I have loads of names for you to choose from.  If you have one in mind, simply type it in the search bar on your right, and if I've posted it in the past, it should pop up.  And, if none of the ones I've shared here on the blog have the right ring to them, visit this website to search for both names and/or meanings.  Best of luck to you!

In the meantime, enjoy this set.  :]


Byron
M | English
BIE-rǝn

From a surname, which originally was a place name meaning "place of the cow shed" in Old English.  A well-known bearer of this name is the romantic poet, Lord Byron (1788-1824), the writer of 'Don Juan' and many other works.










Na'ima
F | Arabic
most likely pronounced as spelled

Feminine form of Na'im, which means "tranquil, happy, at ease" in Arabic.


Destan
M & F | Turkish
dess-TAHN (possibly)

A Turkish given name, meaning "saga."













Seraphina
F | English (rare), German (rare), Late Roman
ze-ra-FEE-nah (G), SARE-ah-fee-nah (E)

The Feminine form of the Late Latin name Seraphinus, ultimately derived from the biblical word seraphim, of Hebrew origin, meaning "fiery ones."  In the Old Testament, the seraphim were an order of angels, described as having six wings by the prophet Isaiah.









Names & meanings via behindthename.com.
Photos via Pinterest.
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Friday, October 13, 2017

Blog Tour! | Book Review









Welcome, welcome!
Today marks the final day of our blog tour, featuring Joan Campbell's Heirs of Tirragyl.  In this post, you'll find a book review of said novel, so read on!  And don't forget to sign up for the giveaway!!

A huge thank you to Laura A. Grace of UnicornQuester.com for hosting the whole tour.  And, of course, to the author, Ms Joan Campbell! :]

{To see the Blog Tour schedule at the home blog of the Unicorn Quester, click here!}

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Heirs of Tirragyl
The Poison Tree Path Chronicles #2
Joan Campbell

Enclave | October 10th, 2017
Fiction, Christian Fiction, Fantasy

{GoodReads}
Long live the queen...? 

Since birth, Nyla has shared everything with her twin brother — royal tutors, the right to the throne of Tirragyl . . . even their soul. Many believe it wholly belongs to Alexor and should be returned to Nyla’s brother regardless of the sacrifice — her death. However, Nyla’s future isn’t the only one in question.

A threat looms over the kingdom. The influential Lord Lucian intends to seize the Grotto, an underworld settlement known for harboring fugitives. And if legend is to be believed, it is also the hiding place of the most powerful of objects, the Guardian Rock.

As Nyla fights for her life, she realizes she’s not only a soul heir but also the sole hope for the kingdom’s survival.


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About the Author
Joan Campbell is notoriously bad at finishing things but, ever since she found the key to the portal, she’s been escaping into worlds far more intriguing than her own. In her word-spun worlds, magic can be harnessed, kings and queens rule supreme and ancient books contain coveted secrets. Her characters face division, danger, their own fallible natures and—ultimately—grace. While her husband and two daughters have learned to fend for themselves, a hungry whine or meow inevitably breaks the spell and brings Joan back to her everyday life in Johannesburg, South Africa. Here Joan wields a tennis racket instead of a longbow and trains writers instead of warriors, knowing full well that the pen is mightier than the sword. Chains of Gwyndorr was a gold medalist in the 2017 Illumination Book Awards.

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WARNING: Possible Spoilers

{The Basics}
            If you love a great, intriguing fantasy world and faerietale, you will definitely enjoy this novel.  The world-building and places are so very interesting - they have a personality of their own, the characters relate-able and lovable and flawed, and their stories mysteriously appealing.  (I felt myself wishing for more and more background on some of the minor characters!)  When they make terrible mistakes, they come broken into the arms of forgiveness.  It's a great reminder that even though we fail, and will fail time and again, there is hope that we can find forgiveness and peace (in Christ) if we seek it.
            I will admit, though, that I found the first half to be rather slow and uninteresting to me for some reason.  And I believe this was due to my not having read the first book of this series.  It was mentioned that this story could be read as a stand-alone, and I agree to a degree, but I found that I didn't connect well with a set of characters, aside from the main few, due to this.  While you learn the background of their own stories - told in the first book - you do not experience it yourself, and I felt this disconnected me from them.  However, once the story picked up pace, I was definitely in for the entire ride!  And I enjoyed it!  So looking forward to devouring the first story now and, once it's released, the third.  

{Spiritual Content}
            A rather evil ancestor of the kingdom, Taus, is revered as a god.  Others worship the Ancient One (whom we are to liken to our Lord), and appears to many in the form of a bird, Tabeal (or at least the bird is a being who represents Him).  The people of Tirragyl believe that twins are born with only half-souls.  The two royals, twin brother and sister, have been taught that their entire lives.  And it is believed that the one should be sacrificed in order to release their half-soul to the stronger, "more-deserving" of the two.  [SPOILER] It is attempted by way of drowning. . .
            There are rocks that possess special powers of various elements.  It's not explained as to why.  They are magic!

{Violence}
            A wicked lord seeks to turn brother and sister against each other.  Characters are tortured, wounded by cuts and bruises, slashes, gashes, arrows, swords, daggers/blades, etc.  Warning!} A character is executed by being tied to a "fire pole" - home of brutal fire ants who eat the flesh of their victim.  (We are told it takes days for the prisoners to die.)
            There's a forest, known as the Rif'twine, that seems to serve as a kind of prison camp for rebels and the like.  All who enter, never return.  And those few who interact with others seem to be but empty shells of themselves.  Rather creepy. . .

{Language, Alcohol & Other Content (Worth Mentioning)}
            None of belonging to our unfortunate society.  The "curses" in this tale are more like "by Taus!" or "festering breath" or "by the abyss," and so on.
            Quite a bit of drinking.  Mead, beer, etc.
            A tavern woman shows a good bit of cleavage, and knows it.  At one point, we are taken to the slums of a city where everything is disgusting and revolting and people and children live in poverty and abuse.  Women argue and demean their husbands (one calls her man a - forgive me! - "whoring son of scum."  Probably the worse bit of language in the entire book.)  Someone defends another woman who was "forced out of desperation" to choose a certain lifestyle. . .
            A girl has a special rock of great power taken from her (for her own good), and I couldn't help thinking of Gollum and the One Ring. . . The rock calls to her and she yearns for it, neglecting her duties and friends, unaware that it could bring much danger to herself and others.  

{Conclusion}
            Again, I found this to be an interesting read!  It's chock-full of adventure, a wee bit of romance, magic, and intriguing characters.  (I rather found myself liking the mysterious master-spy, the Raven, and his character growth.  And Klyden.  Klyden's my fave!!)  And I would definitely recommend to all my fantasy-loving friends.  :]  Looking forward to the continuing of the series!


I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.  
All opinions mentioned above are mine alone!

Purchase Links

Social Media Links

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Facebook Party!
Calling all book readers! Join us as we celebrate Joan Campbell's release of HEIRS OF TIRRAGYL, book two in The Poison Tree Path Chronicles, on October 14th from 10AM to 12PM EST (4PM South Africa Time, 9AM CDT, and 6AM PST).

Grab your favorite drink and snack and be prepared for a fun time of chatting with the author, games, and giveaways.

Special guests Morgan Busse and Jill Williamson will also be sharing their books and joining in the fun.

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Giveaway!
Want to dive into a new world of fantasy? Enter to win an e-copy of Joan Campbell’s Heirs of Tirragyl! (Open internationally.)


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

One Year | This Week - Happenings

Hullo, y'all.  :]

As it was Columbus Day weekend, and my hubby and I had been out of town until late last night, I [obviously] have no Name post for you this week.  But, I promise, it will return next week!

Instead, I just wanted to share this little post as an update and to letcha know what's going on in my little corner of the world.

In a day or so, I will have a book review for you, and within the next couple weeks, I plan to share the beginning of my NaNoWriMo journey.  O_O  Ahh!! YES.  I signed up this year.  My fingers just. . . did it.  I had no control and now I'm officially FREAKING OUT.  Buuuuuuuut. . . thanks to my dear writerly friend and genius, Lauri (aka Christine) from the amazing and incredible blog, Musings of an Elf, I think I will make it.  :]

Is there anyone else here in the bloggy world who just signed up for their first NaNo also?

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On another note, last Sunday, Evan and I celebrated our one year wedding anniversary!  It's hard to believe we have now been married for one. whole. YEAR.  And it's been AMAZING.  I just wish I could sit down with every single young lady in this world and tell them how beautiful and glorious and rewarding it is to WAIT for marriage.  And to encourage and uplift them, to tell them that God loves them more fully than any man ever could, and that if they simply trust in Him, He will bring about a godly, upright man that will sweep them off their feet and together they will begin the sacred journey of marriage.

God has been so good to me.  I am so undeserving!

I mean, look!  Look at this handsome man He's blessed me with for my lifetime here on this earth:

Instagram - @sarahpenmaiden
*big dreamy eyes*

I am blessed beyond measure.  And it's my wish that I will be a good and godly example of a lady who waited.  :]

It's so worth it!  You gain a husband and a best friend for life, y'all.

Okay, okay, I'll stop gushing now. . .  NOT. 

{Btw, in case you are wondering why we're holding a teensy knot, we tied a new knot to add to our wedding-day shadowbox.  Planning to do that every year!}

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Gotta run.  Have a frabjoulous day!
Sarah

Thursday, October 5, 2017

7 Deadly Sins of Writing | CONTENT

What is acceptable content to put in a novel?  
And what is NOT?

What content is tolerable to you in the books you read?  What do you let slip regarding language or sensuality? 

This world is not perfect.  EVERYONE knows that.  Therefore, your story will not be perfect in the sense your characters will make mistakes and there is such things as evil and deception and murder.  But as a writer, how do you know what situations, language, issues, and/or other content is acceptable in a novel or WIP (work-in-progress)?  Could any of these be a stumbling block for your readers?  Mentally? Emotionally? Spiritually?

In this post, I will share with you my honest opinions regarding this particular topic, and coming from a Biblical perspective.  Why?  Because I believe this to be extremely important.  Books shape the lives of those who read them - especially that of the younger readers.  If you are anything like me, there are many books that simply inspire you, motivate you, make you daydream, or just leave a sweet feeling of a story well read.  You put your whole self into the novel - you imagine yourself as the main character, or at least that you are present with the characters through all their wild adventures.  Right?


So, what is acceptable?

1)  ALCOHOL
            Did you know drinking alcohol or any fermented drinks is not a sin?  *GASPS* You may be thinking, "OH MY GOSH, is she one of them??" Believe it or not, m'dears, drinking alcoholic beverages is not a sin.  That is, unless one takes it too far.  There is nowhere in Scripture that states consumption of strong drink as "forbidden."  Through the Proverbs, and scattered all in the Old & New Testament, you will find numerous verses warning against drunkenness (among other things).  But our Lord doesn't forbid it.  Even Solomon says to give it to "him who is perishing, and wine to him whose life is bitter.  Let him drink and forget his poverty and remember his trouble no more." (Proverbs 31:6-7)  However, this does not apply to one who chooses a lifestyle of poverty and will not help him/herself - that, is sin.
            {Unfortunately, this is an extremely touchy subject.  While I am not one to drink any form of alcoholic beverages, I do not condemn anyone who does.  (I do rather like kombucha, though - a healthful, fermented drink. :] )}

2)  VIOLENCE
            How far is too far?  How do you determine what level of violence, torture, and gore to put into your story?  I believe it all depends on your focus group, a.k.a. the ages to which you wish to present your book (middle grades, young adults, adults, etc.).  And, of course, it depends on your readers.  Most can read a shoot-'em-up thriller and not think twice about all the blood and descriptive wounds, whereas to others it could be a complete turn-off,  a whoops-time-to-close-this-book-forevah thing.  Some kids are far more sheltered than others (and some have been exposed to far too much).  Some are your fluffy, romantic, period drama fiction lovers, and other are the hard-core Sci-Fi or all-out action thriller buffs.  As the writer of YOUR story, you have a choice.  I would only ask that you be conscious of which focus ages your story would "target."  Pun intended. 

3)  IDOLATRY
            Every culture is different.  Every religion is seeking something.  Every person, however intentionally or unintentionally, is yearning for their purpose in this crazy world.  Some think they find it in worshiping idols made by man.  And some simply ignore this need, and either worship themselves in a variety of ways, or they run through life without a care.
            While you and I know differently, your fantasy story may feature a whole race of people living deep in some enchanted mountain range, unaware that there's an Aslan, or a Wulder and Paladin, or Elôm, a Maker, an Eru (or Ilúvatar), an Allfather, or a God(Btw, double high-fives to anyone who can guess which novels these Representatives of our Lord God hail from!)
            I believe this "sin" is acceptable to add to the culture of a native people in your stories.  Unfortunately, it is true of this world and its vast history.  And perhaps it is a way to plant the seed of Christ, the Unknown God, in a people unintentionally/intentionally unaware of His presence.

4)  POLYGAMY
            Again, this is an [unfortunate] piece of many cultures, and is even a part of Biblical history.  However, I don't find this particular issue a "sin" in adding it into a story,  It is a sin Scripturally, of course! but there is no stumbling block that would cause the average person to question why marriage to one spouse, and one spouse alone (male + female), is really the only way - especially if they are grounded on the Right foundation.  If it was me adding this as an element to a race of people in my fantasy novel, I would definitely not elaborate.  

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What is UNACCEPTABLE?

5)  LANGUAGE
            Words hurt.  Words teach.  Words sting.  Words speak.  Words REMAIN.
            Scripture says one day we will be judged for our words.  {insert reference}  And not just those we speak, but for our thoughts as well.  Whoa.  That's an eye-opener, right?  Believe it or not, that includes any and all curse words.  So, should your story, your novel, contain such things?  In my firm opinion:  NO.  Why?  Truthfully, when I come across words even as "harmless" as 'd--n' or 'h--l,' I find that it takes away from the story (no matter how good) and is an unnecessary distraction.
            FOUL language is absolutely INTOLERABLE.  If your character is a rather rough n' tough kind of guy who curses as a part of his gruff personality, forego the actual words and simply put, "he cursed aloud," or "a few choice expletives escaped under his breath in an astonished mutter."  You get the idea.  Never should such words as (forgive me! but I'm making a point) 'f--k,' 'p--s,' 'a--,' or so on and worse.  Nor should any vulgar words be used to refer to the personal parts of the body.  
            It's unacceptable.  And besides, some of our [unfortunately] modern expletives were not even - what's the word: invented? discovered? - used until certain points in history.  And even then, they were not expletives, they were mere synonyms, but are now twisted in an ugly way to match the ugliness of this world.

6)  HOMOSEXUALITY
            Absolutely, most definitely, indescribably unacceptable in your novel.
            This a huge issue in our present culture.  And that is exactly why I make such a big deal about it right now.  I wish to stress the Biblical perspective as much as I can, whenever I can - it is a great weight on my heart and the cause of much sorrow that I feel for our world today.

"Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.  Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God." 
- 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (emphasis added) -

            Wow.  That's in our Bible.  The Manual of LIFE that our merciful God has graciously given to us.  Think about it.  Our Lord created both Man & Woman to be One.  When He made Adam, He didn't give him a George or John, He gave him an Eve.  There is nothing more beautiful than the oneness of a man and woman under the authority of marriage and Christ.  Your novel's love interests should be nothing more or less than 
boy + girl =

          People are so very blinded by this so-called "desire" of the flesh.  Because of this, they do not need anything more that seems to encourage such a deadly sin - even so much as a mention of said couples at the local high school or in some futuristic tale.  This pertains to thoughts as well.  Particularly with young readers.  Introducing this suggestion at an early age is especially damaging.  {As writers, we have the power to be guardians in a sense and to produce beautiful stories of bravery, love, mystery, and adventure!}

7)  SENSUAL SCENES
          While immorality is a very real thing, and it happens every single day, there is no need whatsoever to put steamy, sexy, EXTREMELY descriptive love scenes in your story.  If you have characters that "do the thing" outside of marriage, be discreet and vague in your storytelling.  Descriptions of said scenes are HUGE stumbling blocks for a majority of people, and frankly I find them disgusting.  There is nothing appealing about two people grappling and groping one another outside of marriage and. . . you know.
            The marriage bed is sacred.  But, as you know, no one treats it so.  Even though it's something "everyone does," give your stories strong characters that stick to God's Truths, especially if they are pressured by their peers to give in.  And if, for whatever reason, you allow your characters to mess up in such a way, let them find the repentance and forgiveness that comes from a gracious God who washes away the permanent stains.  But DON'T give a step-by-step description - however "vague" you may be - in explaining how they got there. 
            As mentioned in #6 above, this also applies to thoughts.  Young men, especially, have a much more difficult task of keeping their thoughts pure than most women.  Let's not make it any harder for them than what they already face.


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I applaud and bestow many, many bows and hugs to you if you persevered this far!  Thank you so much for reading this.  I truly hope it has accomplished its purpose in compelling you to think.  

One last thing I leave with you:

To each is given a bag of tools,
A shapeless mass, and a book of rules;
And each must make, ere life is flown,
A stumbling block or a stepping stone.
- unknown - 


Sarah <3