Category Archives: Fairy Tales

Vacation Inspiration

A common question asked of writers is where we get our ideas for our stories. Some will say it’s the ‘Muse”. Others might say ideas are born from snapshots of characters who speak to us or a seed of inspiration that drops in from the aethers. Both are probably true, but as for me, I believe ideas are born from life experiences.

PJ Sharon here, coming to you fresh (or a little less than fresh) off a twelve day road trip up the West Coast. Call it a much needed and long overdue vacation, a visit to celebrate with my eldest son who just turned 33 (Holy cow! How did that happen? I turned 33 only yesterday!), or call it what it was…research. Since my last big vacation–a Mediterranean cruise with my mother-in-law back in 2011 that led me to write PIECES of LOVE, hubby and I were happy to splurge on some time away from our daily rat race.

Despite suffering the usual vacation mishaps, such as a missed flight, the dreaded airplane flu three days in with a side trip to the ER in San Rafael, and a questionable hotel stay or two, we had loads of fun and saw some amazing sights! And yes, I took copious notes and tons of pictures. I’d like to share some of my experiences and how they might serve to inspire me and my books.

The trip started in San Francisco with a lovely four day visit with my son who lives in wine country out there–the perfect backdrop for a romance novel. We did the usual touristy things like wine tasting in Napa Valley and a ride out to Bodega Bay to cruise the coast. In the city, we took a  trolley up to the cable car museum, then ate at Neptune’s on Fisherman’s Wharf, and watched street performers on the Embarcadero. GhirardelliAnd I couldn’t visit San Francisco without stopping by Ghirardelli’s.doing time in alcatraz

When a tour of Alcatraz landed me behind bars, I imagined the desperate souls who were once imprisoned behind those walls, looking out at the world beyond, the distant voices from the city by the bay a  constant reminder of an untouchable freedom.

After a sad farewell to my boy, we headed up the coast, through the rolling green and gold hills of wine country, and beyond to the Redwood Forests. I hugged some magnificent trees, connecting to their ancient life energy. Trees that have stood since the time of Christ and seen generations pass their way. I imagined a native hugging this same tree some five hundred years ago and felt the spirits deep in my soul. Massive creatures 300 feet tall and 30 feet around, whose roots interconnect with one another in a web of underground life. It sounds crazy to people who aren’t sensitive to such things (or creative enough to imagine), but in my minds eye, I see limbs that come alive and faces in every knot and outgrowth. Elementals perhaps? I can totally see this being the setting for a paranormal series, fey romance or historical Native American romance…oooh…maybe a time travel story.Hugging the grandfather treecrater lake oregon

We said goodbye to the giant Redwoods and continued our journey. Next came a detour inland to Crater Lake, Oregon–a sight not to be missed! Formed from a volcanic eruption 7,700 years ago, the collapse created a crater almost 2,000 feet deep. Over time, the bed filled with crystal clear rain water and centuries of ice cold snow melt. Through checks and balances of seepage and evaporation, the lake has found its way. The story possibilities boggle the mind!

Winding our way back to the coast led us to the quaint town of Florence, up through the seal caves, and along the twists and turns of route 101 until we reached Cannon Beach in norther Oregon. This was on my darling husband’s bucket list, so we splurged on a beautiful hotel room right on the Pacific coastline with Haystack Rock outside our door. Every romance includes long walks on a beach and golden sunsets, a glass of good wine, and two people who would lay down their lives for one another. I’m not sure if I could write romance if i didn’t have that in my life.

Not to be underestimated, the power of alone time is also necessary. haystack rock cannon beach. oregonWaking to the mammoth rock, a cool, dry breeze, and the sound of the Puffins nesting high up on the “haystack” shaped stone, I enjoyed my morning meditation and a much needed yoga practice before we walked around the touristy little town, admiring the glass blown art and lovely beachfront properties.

Then it was up through the small fishing village of Astoria, site of fun and famous movies such as Kindergarten Cop and The Goonies. We ate yummy seafood and visited the Maritime Museum–another of hubby’s “must do’s”.

Our final stay was in my new favorite city, Seattle! An entertaining duck boat tour gave us great views of the sky line and a city tour that helped orient us for the short stay so we could decide what we wanted to see most.seattle skyline Pike Street Market Place and the famous Space Needle were highlights as was the people watching in Westlake Center.Pike street market

space needle 2

Mount St. Helens made for a fabulous day trip despite the deep bowl being shrouded in clouds the day we visited. We didn’t have to imagine what the 1981 eruption might have looked like since there were dozens of pictures taken that fateful day in May over thirty years ago. The twenty minute movie that takes you up close and personal with the destructive force of the event was surreal. Nearly every sign of life in over 200 square miles was destroyed that day, leaving a path of destruction and magma that turned the surface of the Earth to a moonlike desolation.mt. St. helens lava flow Acres of trees were flattened or swept away, the nearby Spirit Lake filling with lumber and wiping out much of the water life below. But as with all stories, there came a happy ending when life began to emerge from beneath the ground and under the snow covered mountainside. The current state of new life, growth, and natural beauty give hope for a bright future, made possible by the conservationists committed to preserving the land–a labor of true love if I’ve ever seen it.

Our final adventure occurred on our return trip home. It seemed silly to spend a three hour lay-over in the Las Vegas airport when we could take a shuttle over to the Vegas strip and have breakfast while checking out the scene.mgm 2 I’ve never been to Vegas before but did a ton of research for WESTERN DESERT, book two  in the Chronicles of Lily Carmichael trilogy. I wished I’d been able to take this trip BEFORE I wrote the second book. It was fun to see the MGM Grand,  but somehow, I imagined the whole strip to be bigger. All the same, Google didn’t do it justice.

Sometimes, the best way to get inspired is to take a road trip.

Have you ever written about a place you’ve traveled to? Where do you find your inspiration?

Jill Richardson Shares Her Latest Hobbit Companion

Jill Richardson is the author of Hobbits, You, and the Spiritual World. I wanted toHobbit have her here on the Scribes today, because, for one, I am a Tolkein fan, and two, she brings prizes! But first, let’s find out why she wrote her latest book, Hobbits, You, and the Spiritual World.

Welcome Jill!

Why The Hobbit? What sparked your interest in Tolkien?

Hah. Years ago,my brother tried to get me to read the books. He said they were the greatest things ever. I tried first with The Silmarillion and said, “Yeah, right. Don’t think so.” Fast forward to years later when my husband started to read them to our girls when they were elementary school aged. I listened, saw the first movie, then picked the books up myself and devoured them. There is something magic about Tolkien’s skill mixed with real, unforgettable, and deep characters, and a story of epic good and evil fought by everyday heroes. Who else would get away with such unlikely heroes? He manages to show both the greatness and depth of evil in humankind in this small world of his.

Why would teenagers want to read this book?

It might seem that fictional fantasy characters don’t have much in common with real teenagers. But that is so not true. They feel inadequate, afraid, angry, proud, exhausted, hopeful—all the things we all feel. Teens are looking for their adventure in life—how do they fit in this world and what is their task? In Tolkien’s world, it’s all about tasks and unique callings; it’s about normal, average people finding their place and doing great things. How do they do it? How does that matter to God? How do we learn from both of those things

Describe what the book is about, how it’s organized, and what a reader can expect.

It’s about twenty Tolkien characters, who they are, what makes them do what they do, good or bad, and how that relates to both God and the reader. As far as organization, each character is introduced, quoted, and discussed. Add a relevant Bible passage, discussion/journal questions, and action steps for each person to take going forward. Choose to memorize the short Scripture at the end. A reader can expect to be  both entertained and challenged. I try to have a lot of fun with it, but I don’t shy away from tough questions and applications. Teenagers are capable of asking tough questions. They are more than able to recognize things that need changing. I refuse to talk down to a teenager or make it easy for them. They are intelligent, fun, and up for a challenge, and that’s what I make the book as well.

Describe the process of writing each chapter.

Fun? A lot of fun. But other than that . . . I figured out what really stood out as far as a character trait or lesson for each person. Some were easy—some difficult. Then, where do you see that in the book? It was tough using only one quote! Where do you see that in Scripture? How can a person apply that Scripture to daily life? I tried to be very, very practical and fun while working with serious stuff. I think it worked.

Who is your favorite character in the book? Why?

Sooo hard to answer. I have to say I love Eowyn. I didn’t at first; I thought she was too cold and discontent. But her loyalty and fierce need to do something important—I can so relate to that. Plus, she’s a princess who isn’t afraid to pick up a sword and fight for what matters to her. How cool is that? I love strong female models, since I have three girls.

How could this book help youth leaders disciple kids?

The book takes twenty  character traits everyone can relate to. It pulls that trait out of a Tolkien character and then relates it to the Bible. Can a teen learn about dealing with pride, frustration, or fear from Thorin, Eowyn, or Aragorn? Can she learn to find hope in hopelessness from Arwen? Can he understand how to channel his crazy whims from Pippin? Absolutely—and I have a few national youth leaders, college professors, and authors backing me on that claim!

What’s here they won’t get in the book or the movie?

A relationship between the fandom and the Bible. What is the unique Christian perspective Tolkien wrote with that may not have translated into film? Also, teens can see themselves in these characters when they study them individually. They have take home value.

How do you see teens, parents, and churches using this book?

Of course, it’s a devotional, so I see teens using it for their daily (or sort of daily–I know what it’s like) reading and praying time. Parents and grandparents play a huge role in finding resources for their kids and giving them to them. Parents, youth leaders, grandparents, any caring adults in a kid’s life (and let’s face it, some have so few)–should be seeking out resources to help kids build character. That’s really the point. That it entertains as well—bonus! I can easily see youth leaders using it in a group setting, and I actually have lesson plans for that. Best of all—kids can give it to their friends. The ones who love these movies/books but may not necessarily think about God too much.

Why do you think Tolkien is of such enduring interest to people?

The reasons I mention in question one. People can completely relate to his characters. They are not larger than life—they are us. (Except maybe a wizard or two. They’re a bit larger than we are.) They don’t start out amazing—they grow into it with hard work and love. That’s who we are, or who we should be. And we know that. We feel it. It’s very real. Also, everyone feels intrinsically called to something important. We are constantly seeking that. Some find it—some don”t. But we’re pulled toward stories that speak to that.

Do you really own Lord of the Rings Trivial Pursuit and can you really beat anyone at it?

Short answer—yes. Thought I am a bit rusty. OK, my middle daughter and I are a pretty matched pair. But put the two of us together on a team—yeah, bring it on.

jill portrait webTell me something more about you.

I used to teach high schoolers, and I loved it. Odd enough for you? I truly think they are a great age. I’ve spent ten years working in community theater, performing and directing. I have pictures of me doing so that will never see the light of Facebook. Pink hair, purple tights, giant false eyelashes? Yep, I’ve done it on stage. But—I’m a flaming introvert. Hugely so. I am also a pastor, which is a fun bit of mold breaking as well as serious stuff. I love my three daughters and one husband, manage our three cats, garden on an acre in the western suburbs of Chicago, and love planning our next vacation as soon as we get home form the last one. In fact, my last book before this one was about taking your family on short term mission trips.

Oh, I will be looking for your book on taking your family on short term mission trips, for sure!

Readers, here’s a little more on Jill:

Jill’s love for hobbits and elves comes from her time as a literature  teacher and as a lifelong reader of great stories. She also loves an epic challenge and a chance for grace wherever they exist. Jill has a BA in English and Education and an MDiv in theology and is an ordained minister who has served as a worship, preaching, and discipleship pastor. She has published four books previously, as well as articles in national magazines such as FamilyFun, Discipleship Journal, and Today’s Christian Woman.

Jill enjoys speaking on a variety of topics and has been very active on the MOPS circuit, as well as in junior high and high school classes. She enjoys speaking for retreats for all ages.

With three daughters, three cats, and (thankfully!) only one husband, she keeps busy otherwise with community theater, gardening, reading, scrapbooking, and traveling. Jill loves oceans, cats, chocolate, teenagers, her family, the Cubs, and God, not necessarily in that order.

Jill Richardson contact info:

jillmarierichardson.com

https://www.facebook.com/jillwrites                                

http://jill-theimperfectjourney.blogspot.com

https://twitter.com/JillMarieRichar

Hobbits, You, and the Spiritual World–Amazon buy link. Only $3.00 for the kindle.

Hobbits, Elves, and Dragons More Real Than You Believe 

Hobbits, elves, and dragons have become common fantasy characters but do they have more relevance to your life than you think? Are they as real as, or the same as, people you meet every day? Maybe not literally, but J.R.R. Tolkien’s famous characters bring to life real character qualities we all can learn from, whether good or bad. What can the bravery of a hobbit, the faith of a elf, or the greed of a dragon teach teens about themselves? How can their stories lead us to the real Kingdom where God is working out way more than a fantasy for his people? Dig in to these familiar characters and relevant Bible passages to find out. Come out understanding how to live your own epic story!

Peter Kreeft, Professor of Philosophy, Boston College, Author of The Philosophy of Tolkien has said this about Jill’s book:

“Jill Richardson has done a doubly difficult deed. She has written a book about the Bible and The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and she has written a book that both adults and teenagers will enjoy. Her trick is that this is a book that successfully uses Tolkien to understand the Bible instead of a book that unsuccessfully uses the Bible to understand Tolkien.

For another thing, it’s a book for teenagers that most adults will also enjoy, understand, and profit from instead of a book for adults that most teenagers will enjoy, understand, and profit from (which is much more difficult). And it works. It’s both sprightly and profound, funny and serious, full of loving sarcasm and realistic moral truth.”

Some more thoughts from others: 

Author Jill Richardson may well have been born in the Shire, so well does she know the inhabitants of Tolkien’s Middle Earth. But the truths in this book are anything but fantasy. They strike close to the heart where we all have the God-given desire for valorous deeds and new worlds to explore.

Wayne Thomas Batson
, Bestselling Author of The Door Within Trilogy,
The Dark Sea Annals, and GHOST

And now for the prizes!

From December 1 through December 16, the John 3:16 Marketing Network is hosting a Christmas Book Launch and Hobbits, You, and the Spiritual World is a featured book. As part of the event, the Network is offering a $200 Amazon gift certificate to one lucky winner. For a chance to win, go to http://bit.ly/Christian_Books and enter the Rafflecopter (toward the bottom of the page). And be sure and pick up your Kindle version of Hobbits, You, and the Spiritual World at Amazon.

Book Launch

Whatcha Reading?

Hey, Scribesters! Suze here, coming to you from deep in the cave (the writer’s cave and its next-door neighbor, the editor’s cave).

Whatcha reading these days? Me, I’ve got a couple of books going.

Doctor_Sleep[1]Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep. Ever wonder what happened to Danny Torrance, the little Red-rum kid from The Shining? Well, he’s ba-a-a-ack! (I know, I’m mixing movies here) And honestly things are not so great for him. This is classic Stephen King–beautiful writing about horrifying stuff. I don’t want to put this down. I wish I had a couple days of uninterrupted reading time, but, like a fine wine, I need to sip, not guzzle this book. So far, I adore it!

9780062192356_p0_v1_s260x420[1]I’m also reading a YA book, Slither, Book 11 in The Last Apprentice series by Joseph Delaney. This is scary stuff! Think Grimm’s fairy tales with every myth and monster you can think of (and some new ones too) putting our hero, Tom Ward, and the rest of the world into ever-increasing danger. While the prose reads like a middle grade book, in my opinion these stories are not for anyone younger than 6th grade. And the illustrations are gorgeous–done in the style of old woodcut drawings. There’s one more book in the series coming out next year, and while I can’t wait to see if Tom defeats The Fiend once and for all and if Alice can save herself, I’ll be sad to see this series end.

How about you? Are you on a horror kick like I am? What are you reading these days?  

Emma Right, Inspirational YA/Middle Grade Author Visits

 

 

Today, the Scribes invite Young Adult/Middle Grade Author, Emma Right to tell us aperf6.000x9.000.indd little about her latest inspirational adventure fantasy release, (that is on sale for 99 cents this week only) Keeper of Reign! And below you will see a place to enter to win  a Kindle!

 

But first I sat down with Emma to ask her a few Scribe’s questions to help us to get to know her and to see how she makes her writing a success.

 

So please welcome Emma Right!

 

Emma Tcheau headshotEmma, how do you battle the doubt monster?

 

The problem with life is that the Doubt Monster seeps into every aspect of our lives, right? He’s that negative voice that always tells us all to look at the cup half empty, to focus on the storm, and never on Jesus. And there is my sword. The Lord of my life, Jesus Christ. If I veer my eyes even a tiny fraction away from HIM and at the things I do, I will be defeated even before I start. HE who can turn water into wine, and bring the dead back to life can breathe life into my characters, even on my worse days. And that’s how I overcome all the Doubt Monsters, and there are too many of them around. So, I try to not focus on them, and remember I write for Jesus, I breathe for Jesus, and my stories are for HIM. He will overcome for me. He and His Word–just like my character Jules Blaze who had to realize that he had to go back to the Books to find answers to life, and that he’d been equipped all along to overcome his Enemy–see final chapters of Keeper of Reign 1. 

Well said! I know if I keep my eyes on Jesus, I will persevere. Can you tell us if you have a story you haven’t you told yet?  What is holding you back?

The only thing keeping me back is the lack of time. I have to remind myself that I am a mother first, before I am an author. That’s a hard pill to swallow since I feel I have also been called to write–something I had been resisting for one reason or another all these years. 

Understandable. Being a wife/mother has to come first. I’m glad you’re your family has supported you to allow you to have some time to write.

What would you do if you couldn’t be a writer any longer?

I’d continue to still tell stories verbally. And then, there’s reading, which I absolutely love to do.

Wonderful! So they say that every author has a partially completed, quite-possibly-terrible half a story shoved in a drawer somewhere.  What is yours?  What is it about?  What makes it terrible?  Would you ever consider picking it up and finishing it?

I actually have a 300 page manuscript in my drawer/computer. It’s called “No Accident” and is a YA/MG Christian paranormal mystery about a girl who’d moved into a new neighborhood and finds the house revealing things to her about herself. One of these days I’ll find the time to edit it and publish it. Maybe when I am done with Keeper of Reign Book 2 and the new YA psychological thriller series, called “Dead Dreams” I am working on right now.

Look forward to them all! Now, Emma, tell us how do you come up with your shtick?

I try to incorporate some bible nuggets into my stories. They may not be big or obvious facts or revelations, since I am also trying to reach a non-believing reader, or one semi-luke warm Christian, through my books, but I hope to add something in the story that would “shtick” to the reader–something about the Bible or Jesus. Some not-well-known detail, or peculiarity that I hope will nudge the reader into thinking a bit more about the Bible and his/her salvation.

Tell us about the making of your story!

Look about and see something out of place. And ask “What if…” I give you an example…your husband comes home and he seems to be different…how do you really know he’s you husband? ….what if…fill in the blanks here.

Okay, that’s a little freaky. Let’s move on….What was your biggest misstep in your writing career so far?

Wasting time trying to learn to write to get a literary agent. It’s a lesson in courtship, and very tedious. And, I took six months off from writing novels to learn how to sell myself, or rather my novel, to agents. If there was one thing I couldn’t do to save myself, it was to sell anything. So after a while, and bored stiff, I gave up and said, “forget agents, forget publishing houses, I can do this because I have Christ and I am willing to learn.” If I have any time at all to dedicate to my writing I’d rather learn how to craft a better story or read a novel that would help my stories be more exciting and so forth. Besides, in this day and age, an author can hire editors, a designer, and even a book distributor, so the need to find an agent and a traditional publisher isn’t so important like it was ten years ago.

Do you have a word related pet peeve?

I absolutely detest the word “I”. Truly, why, may I ask, is “I” capitalized? It is not only troublesome to type–since we always have to capitalize that silly word, and hence waste time–I just feel that capitalizing it just make “I” look so puffed up and makes us focus on, guess who? “I,” of course.

Never thought about it that way! We don’t capitalize “you”. LOL!

What is your junk food of choice?

Cheese burgers, dripping with juice and stuffed with freshly cut onions.

MMMM…What’s the most dangerous or risky thing that you’ve done?

Rappelling down the bell-shaped 180-foot Moaning Cave–my teenage son’s idea.

Yikes! Not for me, either.  Tell us your guilty pleasure?

Eating toast that has been slathered with butter, then topped with creamy, smooth Nutella. And a cup of latte to go with it.

Mmmmmm…while I imagine that, Readers, enjoy the Keeper of Reign Book1 trailer at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UwDNCsXsthIhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQKjBMLnnzE AND REMEMBER Keeper of Reign Book 1 is now 99c till Aug 16  at : http://www.amzn.to/12QkOOU

……………

Kindle Raffle!!

Keeper of reign Book1 is being showcased by the John 3:16 Marketing Network as part of their August Book Launch Event. Be sure to visit  http://bit.ly/Christian_Books for a chance to win a Kindle, a $25 gift card and a $10 Starbucks card, as well as purchase Children of Dreams.

 

Emma Right is a happy wife and Christian homeschool mother of five living in the Pacific West Coast of the USA. Besides running a busy home, and looking after their five pets, which includes two cats, two bunnies and a Long-haired dachshund, she also writes stories for her children. She loves the Lord and His Word deeply, and when she doesn’t have her nose in a book, she is telling her kids to get theirs in one.

Emma worked as a copywriter for two major advertising agencies and won several awards, including the prestigious Clio Award for her ads, before she settled down to have children.

Visit Emma Right at her home site and sign for her blog feed and newsletter @ http://www.emmaright.com and blog for tips and ideas about books, homeschooling, bible devotions, and author helps from self-publishing to book marketing. Follow Emma Right on facebook.com/emma.right.author and “like” her fan page at http://www.facebook.com/keeperofreign for the latest events. Follow Google Plus emmarightbooks, and Twitter @emmbeliever. She’d love to hear from her readers.

Waiting on the Royal Bundle of Joy

Hello my lovelies. Suze here. Welcome, or welcome back!

IMGP0687[1]Unless you’ve been living under a rock or maybe in the beautiful White Mountains of New Hampshire (where I had no cell service this past weekend, but that’s another story–and I’m not holding it against you New Hampshire-ites), you must know that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton and Prince William, are expecting a new little prince or princess any time now.

You may also remember from a prior post that I have a possibly inappropriate little thang for the Dad-to-be, but again, that’s another story (click here). Bald(ing) is beautiful, baby.

I’ll admit to being a royal watcher. I was a kid when Charles married Diana–I’ll never forget watching the royal wedding and marveling at the biggest darn dress I’d ever seen–and the mystique and pageantry fascinated me. I’ve followed their sons (no, not in a creepy stalker way. I don’t live close enough to them to do that!) since they were babies. And of course I watched the wedding of William and commoner Kate. Those two seem to genuinely love each other, so, like any good romance novel junkie, I hope they’ll get their Happily Ever After.

Without further ado, here are my predictions about the Royal BOJ:

slurpeeDance-slurpee[1]Birth date: Today, July 11, 2013. I’m rooting for 7/11 because I want the young prince/princess to be able to get free Slurpees at 7-Eleven on his/her birthday. That will leave more money in the royal budget for fascinators (princess) or ascots (prince).

Weight:     Hmmm, we like the number 7 around here, but Kate and Wills are both tall and I’m going to guess there’s a decent-sized baby in that bump. So I predict 8 pounds, 7 ounces.

Length:    21 inches = three times seven! Coincidence? I think not.

Eye Color: Dark blue, like most all babies.

Hair:   Yes, lots of hair, dark and straight like Kate’s.

Name–Boy: George Albert James. I know James is the current favorite for first name, but I’m going to go with George, the name of Queen Elizabeth’s father. Albert of course was Queen Victoria’s husband. I don’t think we’ll see Charles or Philip in there.

Name–Girl: Alexandra Elizabeth Victoria Diana. This was a tough one. Alexandra is the favorite for first name, and it’s a pretty, traditional yet modern-sounding name so I’m going to go with it. Since this year marks the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation, the baby will have almost certainly have Elizabeth as a middle name as a tribute. Victoria because she was the longest reigning British monarch and it’s also quite a pretty (even if Victoria wasn’t, um, too cute). Diana is a no-brainer for a middle name–but too controversial to be a first name.

1223673[1]Sex:  Drum roll, please! Girl. I think we’re having a girl.

All right, everybody. Be bold and give us your predictions. Whoever gets the most right will get a shoutout on next week’s blog!

I