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Category Archives: Rants

What Hides In Their Hearts vs. Writer’s Block

Hello, yee reader of this post!

In case you haven’t heard, I have two books published (look for information on the first book I published “What Lies In The Dark” on the “published works” page, if this is news to you) which just so happen to be part of a four to five five book series that I am writing titled, Trials of Three.

Consequently, I am writing the series as I publish it. This means that the time between when books come out depends on how long it takes me to plot, write, revise, redo, rewrite, and polish the book. Last year, my two books were released within relatively close range of eachother at about only a five month time span in-between the two releases. That is a very short time span to write books, given the amount of things that have to be done to self-publish a short novella.

In that respect, I intend for the third book to be released sometime late July or early August this year. I realize that’s a larger amount of time in-between books than before, and before you go a’wondering if the longer wait can be blamed on lack of interest in the series, I shall explain it to you.

First of all, I haven’t lost interest in my series. So that small handful of people that are eagerly awaiting the next book (you know who you are) be concerned not. I have a plan. This is what happened:

I wanted to start work on the third book (which you now know has been dubbed “What Hides In Their Hearts”) immediately after I published the second, but I found myself in a bit of a writer’s rut. So I took a stepped back away from it for a bit to reassess my plot, characters, world, etc. and instead started work on the second draft of my novel.

However, my “short” hiatus has gone on for quite awhile (four months, really) and I need to get working on writing it or else my poor beta readers are going to be sorely rushed to do line edits. On that note, I could start writing today only that I’m still stuck on just one aspect of the book.

Where to start.

This book is planned to have a lot of material and, unlike my novel which has proven to always have a good starting point, I could present any number of things in the first chapter. All of them give the reader equally important information, which can all be given at any time in the book.

Now, what does this have to do with you, you ask?

Well, I need your help to get me out of this little pickle of a writer’s block, or else I might never start writing it, and that would just be a shame. Gavin, Brian, and Emuna still have a long way to go before their journey is over. Thus I have concocted an age-old way to solve disagreements.

* insert drumroll here *

A majority vote! Also known as a poll. Which you’ll find pleasantly located at the bottom of this post…somewhere. Once I get to putting it up. You can’t miss it… I hope. I dunno. I have to tinker with WordPress some.

Anyways, on this vote, there are basically four options to what you want to be contained in the first chapter of the book. You could either; find out what happened to Terminus, bring in a new main character, learn more about one of the main character’s past, or be shown more of the powers that Emuna and Brian have.

Of course, I realize those options are extremely vague. So if you want a bit more back story (assuming you know at least a little bit about the books here) here are a few short explanations of the poll options:

Find out what happened to Terminus: This one is kind of pretty self explanatory. Terminus was swallowed by a powerful form of Luze earlier on in book two, and I never explained entirely what occurred to him. This scenario would give you a glimpse into what, exactly, happened. Do note though that this option is not promising that I’m bringing Terminus back, merely that I am clarifying the technicalities behind his disappearance.

Bring in a new main character: Pretty simple, I guess. I intend to present a new main character early on in the book to add to character conflict and story morals. Also…said character is just awesome.

Learn more about one of the main character’s past: If you haven’t guessed, this book is slightly a bit more focused on the psychological aspects of my main characters. Due to that, I will be presenting a lot of new information about their past and some of the situations they have all gone through to make them who they are. Choosing this options means that I will have one of the characters ‘open up’ within the first chapter of the book. Note that if you choose this option I am going to put up another poll, asking which character you would like to hear about most. Depending on your choice, I may or may not use that as the character that talks about their past in the first chapter.

Be shown more of the powers that Emuna and Brian have: So, you’ve all seen a little bit of what luze can do, but I’ve been keeping it pretty vague as to exactly what extent of strength these two characters have in their whimsical powers. In this book, I will touch a little bit more on that (and a little more in the next book, too). Choosing this option will ensue that you will get to learn some more about luze within the first chapter.

Just in case you’re wondering, this poll will be opened until the end-ish of May/whenever I feel like I’ve gotten enough votes and choose to close it. There’s really no officially set date, but the sooner I’ve gotten a lot of votes the better. 😀

Well, I guess that’s pretty much it. So, help me out a bit, and vote on the poll, please? We can’t let writer’s block win this battle!

-Bethany Faith

P.S. Just for the record, this post ended up being way longer than I intended. Sorry about the lack of short, easy, readability there, folks.

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Halflings by Heather Burch – Book Review

You can find Halflings at your local bookstore or online retailer.

This book starts up with action from the start. Opening in a forest, with the moon high in the sky, Nikki Youngblood, a teenager girl, is being chased by hell hounds – wolves released right from that very special place with a sole intent to destroy her. 

While her midnight ordeal is stopped by three Halflings sent to help her, the fight between heaven and hell doesn’t end there. The book follows her as a group of supernatural teenage boys sent to protect her work hard on finding out why so much evil is after her. 

In the process of being protected by the half-angel, half-human boys, she falls madly in love with two of them, Mace and Raven. Then spends a good majority of the book pondering over which one she could have, but the solemn truth reigns that she can’t have either. Humans and Halflings aren’t meant to fall in love.

Stemmed from a controversial Bible verse (Genesis 6:2) there is no doubt that very many people are going to have trouble agreeing with the theology that Burch presents in this book. The fictional concept that Burch offers follows along the lines of this:

The children of the Sons of God and daughters of men were called Halflings. It appears that the Sons of God were fallen angels that decided to take for themselves human wives. Thus the Halflings, due to their origins, are to a certain extent unredeemable. They can neither live in heaven nor on earth nor in hell. 

Because of their inability to be saved they therefore spend their lives helping and protecting humans. They travel from spirit to physical realm by something called the spirit plain (or…something like that. I’ve forgotten the name, haha) and then ‘magically’ show up where they are needed as per the Throne’s orders.

If you’re wondering which side they fight for, it’s the good side…well, usually. Halflings can ‘fall’ and turn to serving Satan, however, they are born serving God. Which is, evidently, God’s mercy for them even though they come from a line of fallen angels. 

However, rebellion flows through their blood and Halflings can have a hard time staying on track. To add to their troubles, they can’t actually hear directly from ‘The Throne’ but are instead dependent upon information from an angel in exile. 

Now, that’s the really broken down version of Miss Burch’s theology, I’m sure there is more to it, but that would be the bare bones. 

Negative Content:

The violence in this book ranges from gaping leg wounds to rotting flesh. At one point Nikki is brought into a battle by Raven where she proceeded to kill a hellhound by repeatedly beating it with a rock. 

While I don’t feel the gore in this book was graphic or frightening (at least not to me) I can see how it can be disconcerting to anybody with potentially squeamish dispositions. Be warned that you’re going to be reading about killing, blood, and other various things if you pick up this book. 

Physical touch is explained in a spiritual way. To clarify, Nikki feels attraction to Mace when she originally meets him due to his half-angel essence. Being supernatural makes him a relaxing and calming person to be around, this is touched up on multiple times. 

After so long, the various descriptions of Nikki’s reactions to the three brothers grew slightly monotonous and I started skipping over them. I think it could have been done a bit more ambiguously without having to pause every few paragraphs. 

As I’ve already mentioned, the theology can be sketchy here seeing as it was based off of a relatively controversial Bible verse. Because of this it’s probably best to be prepared to have a lot of points in the books question your own personal convictions. I didn’t agree with a good amount of the theology presented, but that’s mainly because a lot of it isn’t commonly preached-on concepts. However, I don’t think anything was presented that, personally, made me feel extreme unease.

Finally, there is a love triangle in this book. 

*NOTE: this next part can sort of be considered a spoiler so skip it if you wish.

Originally, Nikki falls in love with Mace, but towards the middle of the book she begins to fall for Raven as well. Though her senses tell her both boys are dangerous, she continues to seek after them. When the book ends, she is torn between which one she should pick, but feels like she still ‘loves’ both of them.

I think the love triangle was a bit too much like Twilight for me – this coming from someone who hasn’t read the books, mind you – and it could have been done just a bit more tactfully. Nikki seemed to swing from boy to boy towards the end without warning, whereas in the beginning she appeared to be relatively loyal to one of them. 

Positive Content:

This book is written from a Christian perspective and it’s modern fiction, so it presents God as a fact as well as makes multiple references to the Bible. Nikki isn’t a Christian (she refers to herself as ‘realist’), but still seems to accept Christianity as a religion generally easily. Then again…having half-angel, half-human boys, and an angel in exile standing in front of you would probably make you believe God exists too.

Nikki shows perseverance, being willing to fight against hell. She also shows bravery and sacrificial acts by wanting to protect the Halflings, her friends, and her parents. 

The Halflings show chivalry as well by protecting Nikki. Mace shows loyalty and makes promises which he keeps, regardless of the situation.  

Nikki keeps everything that is happening a secret, and refrains from telling even her parents. However, the lack of sharing between daughter and parents is portrayed as a stumbling block and frowned upon. In the end, it actually results in a major consequence. 

Nikki’s science teacher displays a good example of a kind adult. He offers to help her when he notices she seems to be struggling with something and repeatedly shows polite and kind behavior.

To note, as I mentioned, this book is written by a Christian author. Therefore, there are sprinkled morals throughout the story (I would list them all, but I think I’ll leave them for you to discover if you read the book) that reflect a Christian worldview. 

Conclusion:

Heather Burch pulls together a lot of aspects of Twlight in an attempt to write the same forbidden love, teenage fandom inducing book that has been buzzing about in movies, but with a Christian’s perspective. 

While I don’t think Halflings is going to rise up to my favorite books list anytime soon, I can see Burch’s reasoning for writing the book in the way she did. That said, if you’re dying to read Twilight, but are hesitant because of the vampires and werewolves and are really only interested in forbidden love and various love triangles… You’d probably like this book.

-Bethany Faith

 
 

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The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – Book Review

You can find The Hunger Games at your local bookstore or online retailer.

Note: When I originally read this trilogy, it was not with the intention to write a book review in the future.  This review is mainly to give you my overall opinion on the series, not an in-depth account of the content inside. If you would like, feel free to comment and ask any questions involving my opinions you have about the book and I will be happy to answer them as best I can, but I can’t promise to have everything important written in this one post. 

If you think these books seem unsettling to you, I strongly advise you do research on them and read multiple reviews before deciding to pursue them as a form of entertainment. As with any book you consume, be sure to read with caution and do your research.

A few friends had suggested to me The Hunger Games as a good read, when I had asked for interesting books. I was wary at first, since all my questions about the storyline were meant with disconcerting comments about twenty four tributes killing each other and love triangles. However, when I came across the trilogy at my local bookstore, I had an hour or so to read away so I sat down with the first book and contented myself reading. 

Before I was half way through the first chapter, it was clear why this book had become a best seller. As someone who finds reading to sometimes be a struggle when descriptions get too complex and POVs are jumbled, I enjoyed the coherency of Collins’s writing. 

The characters had depth and the narrative had a voice. I was quickly consumed in the fictional world of Panem, watching it all with my own eyes. The entire book rushed before me in a shockingly fast speed. The plot never stopped to let me take a breath. 

From the depth of the characters to the cruelty of the Capitol, there were so many factors that tied together wonderfully in this first book. 

Taking place in the post-apocalyptic ruins of North America, The Hunger Games introduces the readers to a place where there are 12 districts. The 13th was annihilated by the Capitol when it defied the cruel Capitol’s leadership years ago. 

Since the rebellion of district 13 an annual Hunger Games was announced. Each district gives up a boy and a girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to be sent to the Capitol. They will then train, be objectified, and interviewed, in hopes to gain sponsors for the actual event.

The event? A to-the-death battle in an arena stimulating a natural environment, whether it be mountains, forest, island, ocean, or what have you. The twenty four tributes will be thrust into the arena and forced to kill each other until only one is standing. 

This is exactly the fate that Katniss Everdeen – the main character – was handed, when she volunteered as tribute for District 12. The story of what happens to this tribute when she is forced into this fight between life and death; fame and poverty, is then written down in the first person, present tense book that is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.

Negative Content:

People die in so many ways that I’ve lost track; insect bites, snapped necks, explosions, being caught in a net then having a spear thrown through them, arrows, knives, and being mauled by mutant wolves…just to name the deaths I can recall. 

That said, even with the violence content that shoots through the roof, Collins writes it well, in a way that is done tactfully. She describes all the deaths as a-matter-of-fact and does not go into gory and unnecessary details in order to make the readers squirm. 

Of all the deaths, I can think of only one that is notably more graphic than the others. The final tribute dies in a brutal way, by being attacked by ‘mutts’ (mutant wolves created by the gamemakers) and spends the night slowly being eaten alive. He endures the slow death, until Katniss feels mercy upon him and ends his life quickly, with her last arrow. 

Other than the deaths, the tributes also receive countless injuries. Burns, bites, cuts, and other such nasty things. The worst injury being one to Peeta’s leg, which results in blood poisoning and a near-death scenario. 

The mentor for the tributes from district 12, Haymitch, is consistently drunk both on and off camera and lacks both manners and the necessary etiquette to be a good role model. Only one of the adult character in this book shows potential for Mentorship, Cinna, but he is in there only temporarily. 

Katniss’s mum lacks parental care in the beginning of the book, having forced Katniss to fend for the family since her father died. Peeta’s family is implied as being abusive, and he shows no connection to them. 

The capitol is corrupt and rules through fear in a dictatorship-like fashion. They obsessive over appearance, and objectify the tributes for their own entertainment and monetary gain. 

Positive Content: 

While this book has enough negative content to make it difficult to sum it all up in one review, Collins does an outstanding job of using most if not all of the negative content to teach lessons. She portrays the things done in the Hunger Games and actions of the Capitol to be wrong, and shows how the actions of others can have longstanding effects. 

Sacrifice is exercised on multiple occasions, starting with Katniss volunteering as tribute when her sister is reaped. Peeta also shows care and love by protecting and fighting for Katniss.

There is perseverance shown by both the main characters; defiance of evil, and Peeta expresses that he wants to be independent from the dictatorship of the Capitol, explaining that he doesn’t want to be a piece of their property when he dies in the games. 

Katniss’s love for her younger sister, Primose, is certainly admirable, as well as her kindness towards a younger tribute that she helps in the arena. 

While the main characters do kill to survive, they show remorse and even pity for the dead tributes. Death isn’t taken lightly by them, and it isn’t portrayed as such. Each life is individual, and even the characters forced to kill show vague awareness of this by their reactions to murdering fellow tributes.

Conclusion: 

Personally, I’m a huge fan of this trilogy, especially the first book. Every bit is truly extraordinary and worth the read. However, I can understand its not the book for everybody. From the violence content, to the lack of direct moral messages, many people might find it to be a controversial book.  

Because of the mixed messages and the violence content, I probably wouldn’t recommend this for younger readers. It’s hard book to swallow, with a lot of content and very much controversy hidden inside. Making both political and moral statements, it can be difficult to comprehend and take in.  

Regardless, I’d still recommend this book quickly to anybody who thinks this would be the kind of read they would like. It really is an excellent book, and Collins pulls it all together wonderfully. 

-Bethany Faith

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2012 in Book Reviews, Rants, Writing Tips

 

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Why Do You Write ‘Dark’ Stories?

I write dark stories. I’m sure there are darker tales out there, but when I really let my heart write, my stories are sad. If I were telling them vocally, they’d be sure to draw a few tears and make a few hearts wince. And because of this, I’ve been asked more than once why I write like this. 

I seem so happy to people. So care free. Almost ignorant, if they don’t know me that well. But then in the next instant, I’m writing dark Fantasy which, in rare cases, doesn’t actually have a mention of God, but rather, just strong, Christian morals. 

Consequently, I say I write dark because I want to reach a particular audience. People who would read dark stories, maybe people like me. Or maybe people not so much like me. Just an audience who wouldn’t pick up a book if it said rainbows and kittens, but would eat up a book that said death and depression. This doesn’t, however, mean that my stories are going to be all dark. 

See, it’s often hard to remember that, even in the darkest of nights, as Christians, we always have a light. A hope. A Savior. The light shines brightest when the nights are darkest; and hope is strongest when situations are hopeless. 

It’s as though we have a diamond which shines its own light. Sometimes it is out in pure daylight, where sun is surrounding it. And, though the diamond still shimmers and shines brightly, it seems to blend in with the other sources of shimmering light. Soon enough, it almost blends in with the surroundings, and it seems average. Then we can get distracted by the other lights and loose focus of that little diamond. 

Take that same diamond shining light though and put it in a dark room, where no sunlight shows. It’s a lot easier to focus on the jewel when it’s in the dark room, where it is the only hope to cling to. You can then choose easily. Do you want to drown in the darkness, or cling to the light? 

That’s why I write dark. Because the depression, the struggles, the sadness, everything hurtful, can help focus on the Hope, the Strength, the Savior, everything good. And a lot of the world is struggling; Christians and non-Christians alike. However, show that the pain can and does have light in it and it suddenly isn’t so painful. In fact, you’re thankful for it. 

-Bethany Faith

 

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