November 15, 2017

words to inspire

In the midst of the craziness that is NaNoWriMo and wrapping up another school semester, here's a collection of quotes that never fail to inspire me (or in the case of Flannery O'Connor, make me laugh). The majority of them are by Lewis, but can there ever be too much of Lewis...?

“Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will ever be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him, everything else thrown in.” | C. S. Lewis

“God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.” | //

“Reason is the natural order of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning.” | //

“Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become.” | //

“I am not afraid that the book will be controversial, I'm afraid it will not be controversial.” | Flannery O'Connor

“Writing a novel is a terrible experience, during which the hair often falls out and the teeth decay. I'm always highly irritated by people who imply that writing fiction is an escape from reality. It is a plunge into reality and it is very shocking to the system. | //

“My chief desire in all my writings is to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ and make Him beautiful and glorious in the eyes of people; and to promote the increase of repentance, faith, and holiness upon earth.” | J. C. Ryle

“Perseverance is a great element of success. If you only knock long enough and loud enough at the gate, you are sure to wake up somebody.” | Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

July 11, 2017

the oxford hymn

I had the unbelievable privilege of attending the Oxford Creative Writing Master Class in April. Along with eight other writers, I walked the streets and surrounding areas of the oldest university in Britain. My soul loves stories, and every building and statue had one to tell. By the end of our eight-day jaunt, I'd come away filled with so much more knowledge of the writing craft and awe of God's grace and majesty, not to mention the blessing of new friendships along the way.

Rather than just telling you more about it, my mind decided to be all mysterious and spit out a poem instead.

. . .

the goodbye of familiar things
wakens both joy and uncertainty.
longing creates
anticipation awaits
the magic of a new journey.

though plans shift beneath my feet,
excitement for adventure takes the seat.
through paths uncharted
the course now started,
evermore on God do i lean.

new faces and new places alike
replace my fear with emphatic delight.
with reverence
i sit entranced,
caught by the moments in between.

our heroes look down from their walls,
while the air of martyrs yet fills the halls.
the stones do speak,
these beams to seek,
to tell us of their stories.

i walk as one does in any century;
alleyways and gateways hold time for me.
for these spires
no day expires
they stand witness as long as need be.

yet even beyond quads and gardens i see
the created substance of no material thing.
interwoven mystery
throughout history
hangs as a providential tapestry.

for the hills and fields i'll forever long,
the woodland path an eruption of song.
a hymn of glory
for the ultimate story
written by words with no ending.

from the moment i beheld this country
i knew i didn't deserve what i'd seen.
could i ever write
without sounding trite
of the poetry of my feelings??

what does one do at the end of journeying
but purpose to live in light of what they've seen?
this new reflection
of my inaction
bids goodbye to familiar things.

- yours truly

April 10, 2017

welcome to my world

What if you could time travel? What are some eras and events you've always wished you could experience for yourself? What would you give for that opportunity? (Forget for a moment that entering a wormhole would result in instantaneous death.)

Enter the world of my sci-fi novel. The following questions are from the Beautiful Books linkup from a while ago, modified with some of my own questions I needed to answer. 

What is the title of your novel?

The Forerunner

What is your novel’s logline?

The daughter of time travelling historians must find a way to restore the family name. Catching time travel’s most wanted criminal seems a good place to start.

What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?

I don’t even know. I just recently rediscovered a napkin with the note, What if time travel was possible?!?! Where and when would I go if I only had one chance to travel back in time? I don’t remember what prompted this thought, only that I was sitting in the grocery store parking lot waiting on my mom and got so excited about the idea I grabbed the napkin so I wouldn’t forget it.

I've tweaked and added and overhauled it now for over six years, so it doesn't remotely resemble what it was when I started.

Describe what your novel is about!

Well, there's this family of time travellers, and then there's this whole society of time travellers, and then there's a lot of politics and dissension in the time travel community over how things should be handled, then there's quite a bit of mishandling of the things until before you know it the history of the world is at stake (which isn't at all cliché for a time travel plot). Also, a camera named Lyle, evil antique collectors, and a race to kill everyone’s grandfathers.

What is your book’s aesthetic?

Low-key sci-fi. Academia. Cameras. Organized chaos. Disgruntled British professors. 

Introduce us to each of your characters!

Just a few, because six years of plotting has a tendency to expand the dramatis personæ beyond logical proportions.

Morgan Anderson
Avid photographer. Undergraduate at Providence College. Student Traveller.

At seventeen, she’s the youngest student of the Historical Exploration Agency (and technically an underage agent). Despite her enthusiasm and energy for the cause, very few of her superiors take her seriously and feel she is more of a liability than anything—something Morgan unfortunately confirms in their minds after several of her inventions wreak havoc.

Daniel Anderson
Inventor. Traveller.

The middle Anderson child, he’s the glue that binds the siblings together. He’s Morgan’s best friend, and the two are never not scheming together.

Gregory Lyle
Retired professor of philosophy. Author of history texts. Traveller.

Lyle is the rain on Morgan’s parade, and the “F” on most of her grades. He is the namesake for Morgan’s camera, due to his proclivity for despising the sound of the lens shutter and her greatest opponent for photojournalism of history. He loves using pithy lines, and often pauses for dramatic effect. His and Morgan’s dynamic is my favourite to write.

Christopher Swift
Diplomat for THE Agency. Traveller.

The traveller of the community who usually disagrees with his father and is usually right, but no one listens to him since Richard Swift is the modern legend of Time Travel. Christopher believes he bears the responsibility of making the world a better place, and time travel is the means for achieving that. 

How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?)

1.      A considerable amount of head-banging occurs. 

2.      I create a rough outline and try to play as many scenes as possible through my head like a movie (it helps writing the dialogue go more smoothly). This step either takes a few days or six years. There is no in between. 

3.      Research happens throughout the process, often causing me to revert to step 1.

4.      Theoretically, I get past the plotting stage and write.

What are you most looking forward to about this novel?

Writing Morgan’s character. Exploring the time travel community. Having an excuse to research time periods.

List 3 things about your novel’s setting.

Providence, a fictitious college town in Northern England, and HQ of The Historical Exploration Agency. 

1760s North Carolina. 

1940s Edinburgh.

What’s your character’s goal and who (or what) stands in the way?

Morgan’s goal is to graduate from training in order to become a licensed Traveller and photojournalist. The only problem: the time travel community believes travelling + personal technology is synonymous with sure and swift doom.

How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?

She makes a stand for Truth, even paying the price for that conviction. For the first time she experiences loss, grief, and the gnawing ache for revenge. She learns to take responsibility for her actions, and while she may not trust the Powers that Be, she learns to respect them.

What’s your first sentence?

I could say my calculations were fairly accurate, or that we ended up in the same general part of the U.S. that we needed to be in, but that would be a lie.

What are your book’s themes? How do you want your readers to feel when the story is over?

Truth Wins. Family. Man vs. Technology (heh). Good vs. Evil (but of course). 

I hope readers come away with a greater appreciation for history, and how critical it is that we preserve accurate history. I also kinda/sorta want them to hate me for the cliffhanger.