What's in a Name?

NaNo is BASICALLY upon us.  Are you ready??  I'm getting there. . . I honestly don't think I'll ever feel ready.  But here's to having fun and enjoying the process.  :]

Need any last minute names for your NaNoWriMo novel??  If so, maybe these will help!


Hercule
M | French
ER-KUYL

French form of Hercules, which is the Latin form of Herakles, meaning "glory of Hera" -- referring to the Greek goddess, wife of Zeus. 

NOTE:  This name is possibly most recognizable as the given name of Agatha Christie's protagonist and private detective, Hercule Poirot, who stars in many of her novels.  Having just finished reading Murder on the Orient Express myself, and for the upcoming film, I decided to share its meaning. 



Lillian
F | English
LIL-ee-ǝn

Possibly originally a diminutive of Elizabeth, meaning "God is my oath," or "my God is abundance."  However, it is considered an elaborated form of Lily, derived from the Latin lilium, symbolizing purity.  This name has been in use in England since the 16th century.




Derek
M | English
DER-ik

From the Old English name Dederik, which originates from the Low German form of Theodoric, meaning "ruler of the people."




Avelina
F | English, German
AV-ǝ-leen-ah, ave-ǝ-LEEN-ah

Possibly a diminutive of Avila, from elements ultimately meaning "desired."









Names & meanings via behindthename.com.
Photos via Pinterest.


Have a lovely week, y'all!  And luck to all who are taking part in NaNo!!

Fairfarren. :]

Book Review | To Wager Her Heart

To Wager Her Heart
Belle Mead Plantation #3
Tamera Alexander

Zondervan | August 8th, 2017
Christian, Historical Fiction, Romance

{GoodReads}
With fates bound by a shared tragedy, a reformed gambler from the Colorado Territory and a Southern Belle bent on breaking free from society's expectations must work together to achieve their dreams—provided that the truth doesn't tear them apart first. 

Sylas Rutledge, the new owner of the Northeast Line Railroad, invests everything he has into this venture, partly for the sake of the challenge. But mostly to clear his father's name. One man holds the key to Sy's success—General William Giles Harding of Nashville's Belle Meade Plantation. But Harding is champagne and thoroughbreds, and Sy Rutledge is beer and bullocks. 

Sy needs someone to help him maneuver his way through Nashville's society, and when he meets Alexandra Jamison, he quickly decides he's found his tutor. But he soon discovers that the very train accident his father is blamed for causing is what killed Alexandra's fiancé and shattered her world. 

Spurning an arranged marriage by her father, Alexandra instead pursues her passion for teaching at Fisk University, the first freedmen's university in the United States. But family—and Nashville society—do not approve, and she soon finds herself cast out from both. 

Through connections with the Harding family, Alexandra and Sy become unlikely allies. And despite her first impressions, Alexandra gradually finds herself coming to respect, and even care for this man. But how can she, when her heart is still spoken for?

Sylas Rutledge will risk everything to win over the woman he loves. What he doesn't count on is having to wager her heart to do it.


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WARNING: Possible Spoilers!

{The Basics}
This was such a sweet novel, and definitely chock-full of history!  Set in Nashville, TN (my home state!) in 1871, we get a small taste of what life was like in the growing city.  As the daughter of a wealthy family--one of the founding families of Nashville, Alexandra has never lacked for luxury, food, or education.  She has had a gorgeous home, society's finest in gossip and clothing (of which she cares little), a decent education, and a loving, servant-hearted fiance.  But one fateful day on Dutchman's Curve, her beloved David is taken from her when two trains collide at full speed, and Alexandra is left to pick up the pieces of her broken heart and her empty life.  Without David, she feels lost.  His vision to help the freedmen and teach at a university seems to vanish like the smoke from the crash, where she too had been a passenger.  And in one year's time, she has yet to set foot on a train.

Sylas Rutledge is a self-made man.  He has built his life from the ground up, literally.  From the cracks of a broken family, he emerges a good man and, thanks to the stepfather who called him Son, he was raised to appreciate a good work ethic and the equality and value of another's life, no matter the darkness of his skin.  He, too, lost a loved one in that tragic wreck, and it's to Tennessee from the mountains of Colorado to which he sets his sights, aiming to build his business and clear his father's name.

{Positives}
I loved Alexandra's character.  She is sweet and kindhearted.  When she

{Negatives}
Due to the era, there is quite a bit of racism.  Especially when the Fisk University singers set out on their traveling tour to raise funds for their school.  Many "whites" jeer and shout insults at them because of their skin.  Many hotels turn down their business, not willing to accept them.

{Spiritual Content}
Alexandra's faith in God is what sees her through the grief of David's death.  She prays often, eventually serving as a light (along with another fellow believer) to Sy through their growing friendship.

The Fisk Jubilee Singers were an a cappella ensemble who sang and toured for the benefit of their college.  They performed theater and sang many hymns, as well as old "slave songs" (for many were either slaves themselves, or they had family members who were and their freedom had been bought).

Mr Philip Paul Bliss, an American composer and writer of many hymns (you may recognize the hymn Hallelujah, What a Saviour!, as well as the tune to Horatio Spafford's It Is Well With My Soul), was even a character!  He and Sy (fictional liberty taken by the author) became good friends, and it was him who helped Sy see that God is good, even when we don't have all the answers.

At the aftermath of the collision, an old man describes seeing angels, "fearsome beings," standing over the bodies.

{Violence}
This story takes place exactly one year after the terrible accident of Dutchman's Curve.  Many are still affected by the aftermath, Alexandra included.  There are rather vivid descriptions of her memories as well as others who experienced the wreck: bodies and blood everywhere, those of children lying motionless on the ground, wailing, screams, body parts, etc.  The injuries of those who survived the accident are brutal: loss of limb, visible burns, health issues, etc.

News of a female school teach is attacked by nightriders: "badly beaten--and worse."

{Language, Alcohol, Drugs}
A sign mentions the word "nigger." (Forgive me!  I felt it needed mentioning.)  A man uses the slang, "lawd."  No other offensive words that I recall.

{Lovey Content}
A woman approaches a man with specific intent, but he simply brushes her off.

Sy notices just how attractive Alexandra is.  They build a tentative friendship (it's so sweet!).

{Conclusion}
To conclude this lengthy review. . . I totally enjoyed this novel.  The little bit of history was so very interesting, and I loved that it was set in my home state!  A definite plus, in my opinion.  :]  The characters were beautifully flawed, but they learn to push past the mistakes, take up their courage, and step out in faith.  For some, it is giving up everything for eternal reward of furthering our Lord's kingdom.  And for others, it is finding the peace they've searched their whole life for.

This story doesn't end with a cliff-hanger of any kind, but it does leave some questions unresolved, simply to say that not everything in this earthly life can be answered.  Only God knows, and we can take comfort in knowing that is sufficient enough.

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Recommended ages:  16+
I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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If you made it this far, well done, my friends!  
Didja add this book to your TBR (to-be-read) list??

Have a lovely weekend, y'all.  :]


What's in a Name?

Welcome back, lovelies.  It's been a rather tough and overwhelming Monday, but I've made it this far (thank You, Lord), so I'll "keep plugging away," as my hubby says.  

Here's some new names to add to your story arsenal!


Evan
M | Welsh, English
EV-ǝn

Anglicized form of Iefan, a Welsh form of John, which is primarily derived from a Hebrew name meaning "YAHWEH is gracious."

NOTE:  I thought I had previously posted this one before, but I couldn't find it in my archives, so here it is.  :]  This one has special meaning for me as it is the given name of my dear husband. *^ - ^*)

Pippa
F | English
PIP-ǝ

Diminutive of Philippa, the Latinate feminine form of Philip, which ultimately means "friends of horses."

Saegan
M | Unknown
SAY-gǝn

Meaning and origin unknown.










Amiée
F | French
E-ME

French form of Amy, which in turn is the English form of the Old French name Amée, meaning "beloved."






Names & meanings via behindthename.com.
Photos via Pinterest.




Namarié, my friends.  Have a lovely week!
{BTW, how's NaNo prep coming??}

NaNoWriMo | Diving Blindly

HAPPY FRIDAY, Y'ALL!!!

You made it.  The weekend has arrived at last, and yet, another week of October is past.  (Whoa.  That rhymed.  O_O)  Already??  That must surely bring to mind the impending doom er, joy of NANOWRIMO.  National Novel Writing Month.  *cue faint scream in the distance*  

Well, if you are INSANE, like me, you've probably signed up for it this year.  Is that true?  If so, AWESOME!! Wanna be buddies?  I could use all the help and friends I can get.  ;D  (I'm currently trying to persuade one of my sisters to jump on this crazy bandwagon. *fingers crossed*)

As you've most likely guessed, this is a post to say it's official, I'm gonna do this.  But also to explain why I signed up, and what I expect of myself. 

HALP.
WUT WAS I THINKING??

*deep breaths*
I signed up rather unexpectedly.  Honestly, I hadn't given NaNo a single thought this year.  I've heard of it in the blogging/writing world, and many of my friends have taken part, but it hadn't crossed my mind to join in.  Especially this year as I'm a wife now.  I have many new responsibilities, including caring for my hubby, managing a home, planning for the future, being diligent in my job, Etsy shop, etc. etc.  

And here I am diving blindly, but oddly enough, I'm getting rather excited!

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WHY I SIGNED UP
I love writing.  While I've yet to actually COMPLETE a story, my dream is to one day be published.  I can just imagine a gorgeous book cover with my name on it someday filling a shelf in one or three beloved bookstores.

That's a dream anyway.  A dream I've joined the NaNo community to be one step closer to fulfilling.  Maybe this is the push--or shove, rather--I need to finish the first draft of my novel.  Maybe it's the motivation to be diligent in completing the daily quota to actually bring my WIP to the level of editing, and then [hopefully] to pursue publishing.

November is a busy month for me.  But, Lord willing, the end result will be worth it!

WHAT I EXPECT OF MYSELF | GOALS
110%. At the very least.

I want to give the best of myself in meeting my 2k word-count goal each day.  I want to write as much as I can, without second-guessing myself and feeling like it's a horrible, no-good story and will come to nothing.  {NO!  No, sirree.  I have the means, I have a mighty pen, and I'm a pretty-darn-good typer. :]}  I want to meet new friends, gain writing buddies, and much coveted advice in how to survive my very first NaNo, and yes, NOT DIE in the process.

But most importantly, I want to have FUN.  Because that is my ultimate goal.  Even if, by the time December 1st rolls around, I don't have the word "winner" by my name--maybe due to the realities of my life now (and, unfortunately, that is my current mindset: that I won't make it)--then I want to be satisfied with the simple fact that I had fun, I enjoyed myself, my Noya story is much further along than it was originally, and I'm that much closer to my dream.

> > > > < < < <

So, with all that said, I present my WIP and my NaNoWriMo novel:
{Photo via Pinterest.  Wording via Font Candy app.}

Book Blurb
{someday soon to be on GoodReads *wink wink*)

She sacrificed everything for a beloved brother.
Only to gain an eternal prison.

He has lived an empty life for nearly 500 years.
Could one mere girl possibly change his cursed darkness?
Once upon a time, a girl named Noya and her family lived comfortably in the booming city of Mearn. They have lacked for nothing her entire life, but all that changes when her father's once-lucky fleet of famed merchant ships find their fate in the depths of the sea after a monstrous storm.  And all their great wealth disappears.

In an effort to save his family, Noya's father gathers her, her three brothers, and what belongings remain to their name, and moves to the country leagues away where they begin a humble existence.
But little do they know their paths will soon cross with that of a. . .
Beast.
For what greater act of love is there than the sacrifice of one to save another?
And in loving the unlovable, can one lowly girl break a 500-year enchantment?

Or is it not up to her?

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Here's to NaNo 2017, my friends!

Best of luck, y'all.

Book Review | Picturing Heaven

Picturing Heaven
40 Hope-Filled Devotions
(A coloring book!)
Randy Alcorn (illustrated by Lizzie Preston)

Tyndale | September 5th, 2017
Coloring Book, Non-Fiction, Christian/Biblical, Theology

{GoodReads}
Imagine Heaven the way the Bible describes it--a place of exquisite beauty brimming with marvelous detail and intricate patterns; a special dwelling place free of corruption and sin; and a place of both rest and enjoyable, meaningful work.

Let the power and majesty of Heaven fill your heart with joy as you color these 40 designs carefully interpreted from the pages of Scripture. Savor a respite from daily life as you read and meditate on devotions from best-selling author Randy Alcorn, a leading authority on Heaven. Picturing Heaven will offer you comfort and relaxation, while filling your heart with restful assurance that God prepares a special place for those who love Him.
 


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This coloring book is wonderful!  There's no other way to put it.  Forty devotional Scripture verses and excerpts are taken from Randy Alcorn's well-known book, Heaven, and make for a lovely devotional time for the busy mother or grandmother (or father, whoever!) - anyone who may have pondered the life after THIS.



All too often, we seek the pleasures of this Earth, knowing full well we truly want to go to Heaven - some day - but not really wanting to go anytime soon. . . Am I right?  I don't think we realize what exactly an Eternal Heaven looks like.  In this devotional (and in the actual book as well), Mr Alcorn shares some amazing points that have never crossed my mind.  Every good and marvelous treasure will be multiplied "God-fold."  By that, I mean WAY more than ten-fold or 100 times over.

I'm sure you are as guilty of it at times as I, but in our small minds perhaps you are thinking there's a good chance that Heaven could be/will be. . . boring.  What with everything being perfect and no need for absolutely anything and that we will forever be bowing at our Savior's feet.  All that is true, of course!  And we will be so humbled before our Savior Christ that we won't wish for anything other than to sit and bow before Him, I'm sure.  BUT.  Have you ever considered the idea that there could be sports?  An abundance of your favorite foods and drinks (with NO chance of getting fat or sick)?  Gorgeous fields to run and play?  And coffee?  Tea?

"If coffee beans & tea leaves were some of God's good ideas for the old Earth, why not the new one?  Can you imagine enjoying a cup of coffee with Jesus?  . . .We may not yet have tasted our favorite food or drink - and if we have, it will taste even better in God's everlasting Kingdom!"
- p. 54, Day 23 -

Have you ever really thought about that??  It blows my mind!  And just think, what about animals?  Beloved pets?  You remember that verse regarding the wolf laying down beside the lamb, and the lion eating grass as an ox? (Isaiah 11:6)  In Romans 8:21, there is a reference regarding the "creation" being set free from bondage in the resurrection.  Mr Alcorn says, ". . .what could that be if not animals?  Only God knows for sure what He plans to do.  But wouldn't it be just like Him to recreate the same pets He entrusted to us in this life?  What a delightful reunion that would be!" (p.58, Day 25)  Ever thought of that, my friend?  :]



Who knows but our Lord, what exactly we can look forward to one day with Him?  Can you imagine walking with the dinosaurs?  Maybe learning an incredible new sport?  Exploring new galaxies? Singing with the angels?  Relaxing in your spacious new family room?  Or most of all, anticipating your Lord and King saying to you, "Well done, my good and faithful servant.  You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.  Come and share your Master's joy!" (Matthew 25:23)


I would definitely recommend this to EVERYONE.  It would make a lovely gift for someone who has lost a loved one, or someone who is struggling with questions of what comes after death.  Maybe they don't have time to color this, and definitely no time to read the full book by Randy Alcorn.  Still, this would be great if only for the devotions!  (Then, maybe they could pass it on.)

All told, this was a beautiful coloring book and I highly recommend.


Tyndale House Publishers has provided you with a complimentary copy of this book.

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.

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.)


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

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

What's in a Name?

Happy Monday, y'all.  I hope your weekend was as lovely as mine! 

This is the second day of October!! AHHH!!!  And guess what - FACT:  In a mere six days, I will have been married to my best friend for ONE WHOLE YEAR.  *jaw drops*  Aces, where did the time go??  [I seem to say that quite often, forgive me. . .  But seriously, I can't help but be baffled.]

Anywho, 'nuff of the chit-chat.

It's time for a new set of Names!  I have some good ones today, my friends.  :]  And I'm particularly fond of the first one. . . (which could be due to the fact there's only one letter difference compared to my dear hubby's name. . .).  *^ - ^*

Enjoy!

Eran
M | Hebrew
er-AHN, ER-ǝn (possibly)

Means "watchful, vigilant" in Hebrew.  In the Old Testament, this was the given name of a grandson of Ephraim, son of Joseph.


Melissa
F | English, Dutch, Ancient Greek, Greek Mythology
mǝ-LIS-ǝ

Means "bee" in Greek.  In Greek Mythology, this was the name of the nymph who cared for the young Zeus.  As an English name, it has been in use since the 18th century. 








Fitzwilliam
M | English (rare), Literature
FITZ-will-yǝm, fitz-WILL-yǝm

From an Irish surname, meaning "son of William" in Anglo-Norman French.  William hails from the Germanic name Willahelm, which is comprised of the elements wil "will, desire" and helm "helmet, protection."  The FitzWilliam family are recorded in Dublin all the way back to the year 1210.  In Jane Austin's novel, Pride & Prejudice (1813), this was the given name of Mr. Darcy. 


Lily
F | English
LIL-ee

From the name of the flower - a symbol of purity.  Ultimately derived from the Latin word lilium.












Have a lovely week!
Sarah



Names & Meanings via behindthename.com
Photos via Pinterest.