Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Wonder

As the recent months have passed, my writing had become strangely silent. After a frenzied period of time where I raced to finish up my edits on The War Horn, it just...stopped. I submitted TWH to the contest, and that was that. (I'm still waiting to hear back from the contest, actually.) Schoolwork came, our move hung over my head, and my keyboard's smolder turned to ashes.

I could claim that my life was busy. I could claim that inspiration had deserted me. I could claim that I procrastinated. (I did, really, but that's not the point.)

Some might call it writer's block, but nothing was really blocking me. I just didn't do anything.

Here's what happened: I lost my drive. No, scratch that. My drive was still there. I still wanted to tell a good, meaningful yarn to the world and glorify my Creator.

But I lost my desire to fulfill my drive and accomplish my goals.

I keep telling myself I needed to write this or write that or torture a character or something. But I never did it. Sure, that's procrastination, but there's a reason behind procrastination as well.

Where was the allure?

Writing had begun to boil down to words and mechanics and editing. And it took this little short story to regain what I had lost.

Hearken back to when you first started writing. Why did you do it? Why would you write a story? What lured you? (Keep in mind, when I say "Why did you do it?" I don't mean, "What drove you?" but "What drew you?")

Maybe it was a desire for fame. Or a desire to create a book like the ones you read all the time. I know that the latter was part of my desire to write.

But here's the thing. There's something about writing that draws us.

I've been pondering it all day long. And yes, in the shower too. It's the Thinking Room, wot.

There is something about a blank sheet of paper. There's something that clicks, something that hums, something utterly amazing that happens when a writer sits down at a computer, pulls up a blank document, and writes.

Anything could happen. And anything will happen.

When I first began writing, I found it utterly engrossing. I had a childlike fascination with it. It was magic, really. You could create, you could make something out of nothing. You could tell a story.

Those words have lost their magic. In this context, the simple words "you could write a story" are amazing. You have the entire world at your fingertips. You could write whole species into existence, whole worlds could be created, and history could be rewritten. You have all of your infinite imagination to fill.

Daniel Schwabauer said, "People read to live vicariously." (i.e. to live through their imagination.) And the same is true for writers.

This, in my opinion, is the allure of writing: we can write to live vicariously. We get to choose what we want to do. We can race against time to save the world, we can fly with dragons across an azure sky.

And so, we write, not only for ourselves, but so that we can share it. We want others to see the glory that we see. And for Christians, we also want others to see the glory in Christ that we see and experience.

And that's why my writing ground to a halt. I lost the allure. So much of my writing had come down to revision and grammar and mechanics that I lost what got me writing in the first place.

That changed, however. I started writing a little story. I've begun so many stories and never finished them, but this one...this one had potential. It had allure.

And then I wrote this section. In that moment, my keyboard lit, my imagination roared to life, and the ultimate lure and desire to write came rushing back.


"He wanted to see home before he died," Rodney said, taking in a deep breath and letting it out. "He wanted to see the grasslands and smell the free breeze. He wanted to taste Kanai fruit again. He wanted to see his old house by the creek and the wood."


In that little section, I caught a glimpse into my character, and not only that, his homeland. In this little story, I saw a new world. And it took my writing back to life, because now I want to see new worlds again. I want to write new characters and explore new places. The very word "write" takes on new meaning.

Write well, readers. And when you write, don't leave the wonder of writing behind. Keep ahold of it. Don't let it diminish.


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Various Newses

No, I have no idea why I added an extra "es" top, and no, I'm not related to Gollum, and no, I haven't been reading Lord of the Rings.

Questions done?  Good.  No?

No, we haven't left yet for Africa.  I'll post before we do, be sure about that, even if it's a 50-word post. :)  I'll keep you informed.

In the meantime, I still love Kansas and Cheez-Its and Doctor Who.  And writing. 


I wish these were conveniently and accidentally dropped off at my house. ^_^

Stetsons are cool!

And speaking of writing, all I've been writing of late are geometry proofs (technically, I'm filling in the blanks) and essays.  Blech.  

Hold it, I tell a lie. O_o  I have written five hundred words or so in a modest little story I'm writing in my spare time.  It's a fantasy tale in a world called who-knows-what.  (No, that's not the name.  Call it that and I'll get out my Cheez-It cannon.)

In the meantime, I've been watching Doctor Who and doing a lot of schoolwork.  The series finale of Doctor Who is actually next week. (I am SO. EXCITED. GAH!)

Also, I wish to inform you that the Director at Castles, Quills, and Cameras is having a giveaway!  This most excellent blogger is giving away two books; one of which I can attest to being a great read. :)  Here's the link to the giveaway post.  

And...well, I've run out of things to blog about. O_o  Ask me questions, folks.  Maybe I'll have a Q & A post next time.  It'll at least give me something to blog about. ;)  

See ya later, friends!  Write well, and may your ink stay full!

I'll leave you with one last quote:  "He who laughs last thinks the slowest."

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Review: The Dragon's Tooth

For two years, Cyrus and Antigone Smith have run a sagging roadside motel with their older brother, Daniel. Nothing ever seems to happen. Then a strange old man with bone tattoos arrives, demanding a specific room.

Less than 24 hours later, the old man is dead. The motel has burned, and Daniel is missing. And Cyrus and Antigone are kneeling in a crowded hall, swearing an oath to an order of explorers who have long served as caretakers of the world's secrets, keepers of powerful relics from lost civilizations, and jailers to unkillable criminals who have terrorized the world for millennia.

N. D. Wilson, author of Leepike Ridge and 100 Cupboards, returns with an imagination-capturing adventure that inventively combines the contemporary and the legendary. (From Amazon.com)

"North of Mexico, south of Canada, and not too far west of the freshwater sea called Lake Michigan, in a place where cows polka-dot hills and men are serious about cheese, there is a lady on a pole." ~The Dragon's Tooth

I first heard of the Dragon's Tooth through the fantastic book trailer that premiered just before the release. (See the bottom of this post for the trailer.) It was professionally done and really did a great job at catching my attention. After hearing several good opinions on the book, I decided to check it out from the library.

To say it outright, the Dragon's Tooth was a good book. In comparison to 100 Cupboards (the book, not the whole series in general), I liked the Dragon's Tooth better. Varied characters with rich histories abounded, and the world as we knew it took on a new shine in light of a secret society. For the most part, the characters were well-done and unique. From quirky guys to grim leaders to traitors, they were a motley and colorful bunch.

Wilson's characteristic humor was present throughout the book, albeit in lesser amounts than in his other series, The Books of the 100 Cupboards. (I reviewed 100 Cupboards some time ago.  I'd link you, but I don't have much time. By the way, I ended up finishing the series. The two following books were MUCH better than the preceding. Highly recommended.)

Wilson's writing style is definitely unique. His peculiar and trademark style is like few I've read before. It relies on a lot of showing, which is a good thing. His description, while vivid, left me feeling a little confused during the first few pages. It takes a while to get used to it. If you've read any of Wilson's other books, you'd know what I mean. (An example of this style is found in the first sentence of the book, which I posted above.)

The plot of the novel wandered about, a string of half-random events that wove together into the conclusion. There wasn't a driving force to it. It was the difference between planning an attack or trying to survive a battle, if you get what I mean. One seems more structured and the other darts about. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it doesn't have the I-have-to-finish-this-to-read-the-end-or-I'll-die drive that it might have had.

The plot and settings were fairly unique, though I could see a couple of parallels and similarities to Harry Potter in it. These weren't particularly large, however, and didn't bother me.

The idea of a secret society woven throughout history was a brilliant one, as were other such concepts scattered throughout the book, like keys that could open any door. There was also a lady on a pole, a tooth that could kill transmortals and mortals alike, secret passages, and a really, really cool oath that Acolytes have to take. (See the video below.)

There were several borderline things in this book. Firstly, there were dead people who appeared to still have their spirits near their bodies. (However, that section was a little confusing when I read it, so I may have misinterpreted that.) There was also the concept of transmortality. While those things didn't pop up much, it did make me wonder how Wilson (a Christian) would resolve it in the future installments.

In summary; the plot, though wandersome, was unique, the characters were great, and the writing style was a little confusing. There was nothing really spectacular about this book, but there's nothing really bad about it either. I really liked it, but there wasn't much to make me love it. It's a fast read.

I'm hoping, however, the next few books will improve. The same happened with 100 Cupboards, actually. The first book recieved a "forgettable fantasy" rating from me, while the following books were fantastic in many ways. If this series does the same, it'll prove to be amazing.

In a word, recommended.

Rated 8 out of 10.

Check out the epic book trailer:

(Note: I won't be blogging too much, due to the fact that we cut our internet.  I'm posting this pre-written post from Starbucks, actually.)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Review: The Realms Thereunder

A homeless man is stalked by a pale, wraithlike creature with a mouthful of needle-sharp teeth. Maimed animals and a host of suicides cluster around a mountain in Scotland. And deep beneath the cobbled streets of Oxford, a malicious hoard besieges a hidden city.

Freya Reynolds is a university student with a touch of OCD and an obsession with myth and folklore. Daniel Tully is living rough on the streets of Oxford, waging a secret war against an enemy only he can identify. Years ago, they found themselves in a world few know is real. They have since gone their separate ways and tried to put that adventure behind them.

But the mythical world is now bleeding into our reality-a dark spiritual evil that is manifesting itself in forgotten corners of the British Isles. Alex Simpson is a Scottish police officer who specializes in hunting mythical creatures. Together, they must confront the past, the present, and points beyond to defeat the ultimate threat to humanity.

Nothing they've seen so far prepares them for what awaits...in The Realms Thereunder.  (Description from Amazon.com)

Ross Lawhead is the son of the well-known fantasy/legend author Stephen R. Lawhead.  Having read much of Lawhead's work, I looked forward to reading this novel (which, by the way, has a fantastic cover).  In some ways, I wasn't disappointed.

I expected a novel grounded in British mythology and legend (one of the senior Lawhead's trademarks), and I found it.  This book felt as old as the earth itself, so steeped was it with mythology and old tales.  From forests that give gifts to strange creatures to sleeping knights and underground cities and ancient, immortal people, this book had a lush and detailed world.  And, at the same time, it was a dark and dangerous world.  The earth was ancient, and while ancient good is harbored underneath the surface, ancient evil is awakening.

The creatures and races were likewise unique.   From gnomes whose mantra is that you "always end up where you happen to be", to terrible creatures, to villains and olde-speaking knights, the creatures were diverse.

The characters were well thought-out and three-dimensional.  They weren't amazing, but they weren't bad either.

The writing quality of this book was average, but this is, after all, the author's first published novel.  There's bound to be a few rough edges.  The writing style itself reminded me, distantly, of Tolkien's writing.

Probably my favorite aspect of the book was the short snippets here and there—slipped in naturally—that caused me to stop and think.  There were some beautiful, poetic moments in the book where the character of the characters was revealed.  Clever dialogue dotted each page; the knights spoke like knights, the Brits like Brits, and gnomes...well, it's hard to compare gnomes to anything.

The book's biggest opportunity was in the plot, and I felt like it missed the mark.  It had great potential, but failed to live up to it completely.  I expected a novel that happened after the preceding, inciting events (i.e. Freya and Daniel's previous journey), but it didn't turn out that way.  That was probably the biggest drawback—the book kept flashing back.  If anything, we spent more time in the past adventure than we did in the previous one, and it was rather annoying for the reader.  The characters and situations in the present were much more interesting than what was happening in the past, and as a result I wasn't quite that interested in the past storyline.

When I had finished the book, I sat back and thought to myself, "It ended just as it was getting started."  Due to the flashbacks, it really felt like it.  Events in the present had just begun to move, and the previous storyline had been resolved—and then the book ended.

Still, don't let it stop you from reading this.  It's a good book—good characters, great worldbuilding, great potiential, with a few drawbacks.  Pick it up sometime and decide for yourself.

Rated 7 out of 10.  Recommended, read it. :)

(I received this book for free from the Bookneeze program in exchange for a review.  I was not required to write a positive review.)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Some Rather Important News

If you follow my blog, please read this post.  It's rather important. 

Take a look at this picture.  And then, read this post.

It's hard to find a way to put this.  To put prayers and work and God and glory and emotion into a sentence, into a blog post; such a task is hard.

Basically, you might find a slight decrease in blogging here at Teenage Writer.  Maybe a major decrease in blogging.  Maybe even a stop in blogging.  Who knows?

The thing is, God's been at work, and some of His plans are coming to fruition.

Like I've told other people, long story short; the Sadaar Clan (a neat name for me, my siblings, and my parents) is moving to the bush.  The big Bush.  The biggest Bush of all.

Africa.  Liberia, to be specific.  See the arrows?  I'm a fantastic artist, as you can see. ;)

We're going to be off, soon (once God sells our house) to see what God has in store for us in Liberia.  It's going to be fantastic.

So, what will this move mean for Teenage Writer?  I have no idea.  I may be able to keep blogging.  I may not.  We'll see.  At this point, I'm unsure how the move will effect my writing and my blogging.

But one thing I do know; we need as many prayers as we can get.  Prayer is essential for this to work.  So, if you could, please pray for the family, for Liberia, and for the house to sell.  Once the house sells, we're pretty much off on the adventure.

And don't worry, I won't disappear right away.  I'll still be around, and I'll keep you all updated.

Thanks for reading my blog, folks.  You are all fantastic. :)


Friday, September 2, 2011

A Battle Fought at Midday, Part IV

It's back, after a long while and several offscreen bouts with the famed enemy Procrastination.  A Battle Fought at Midday has returned for a smashing conclusion.  My apologies for the lateness of this blog post; it took longer to write than I anticipated.

The last sequence was in May; can you believe it?  Procrastination's had me pinned down, but I've conquered him and I'm forging onwards.

Please note that this is the last segment of a four-part story (which I have finally finished). The first segment of the series is found here.  The second, here.  The third, here.  Beware; my writing has gotten better since then, so the writing quality of the first few segments leave much to be desired.



In Which I Defeat an Enemy and My Pen Talks

"Blasted swing." He cursed, sitting up and rubbing a bruised nose.

"Watch your language," I said, stepping aside and letting the personification clamber upright. "I have younger sisters, y'know."

He stood and dusted off his Shadowy Cloak.

"I see that you chose to go name brand," I said, leaning on my sword's pommel. "I can see the tag on the bottom edge. Everything Villainous© Inc."

Procrastination scowled perfectly, raising one lip just so. I could tell that he'd been practicing. "My cousin told me that black was the new blue. And leather was in style."

"'Cause you really care about that stuff," I said, sarcasm drying on my tone. (Making it drip would be rather disgusting.)

"You do." Procrastination spat a few times, evidently trying to rid his mouth of dirt. "Do I see a logo on your hilt?" He mussed his hair, dirt and dust raining down from the black, tangled mess.

I took a look at my hilt. A symbol in the shape of a button was carved there, and I pointed it out to him. "This thing? It's not a logo."

"Then what is it?"

I grinned. "It's a button." I pushed it. "Awaken, Pen!" And then I pushed it again...and it talked.

"I'm awake, I'm awake! Don't push it more than once, ya inked-up scoundrel, all it serves is your own impatience. Patience! Ya don't have any! Be quiet, I don't wanna hear an argument! What's the situation and why didja wake me up? I'm grumpy in the summers, buddy, I hope ya know that. Why, I'd—"

"Be quiet," I interrupted. "I'm trying to have an Epic Showdown with Procrastination. That's your job. We need to defeat him."

"Fight to the Write? Or did ya come up with some other dumb hey-I'm-a-geek phrase for a simple battle?"

I sighed. "Yes, Fight to the Write." The Pen fights better than a sword, I reflected. Especially when it IS a sword. A rather garrulous sword...

"Good," the Pen said. "En garde, Procrastination! You shall die exquisitely!"

Procrastination groaned. "Not the Pen. It talks more than my sister, and that's saying something."

He didn't have time to complain much longer, because the Pen lurched forward, taking my hand with it. "AYEEEEEEEEE!" The less-than-bone-chilling howl echoed down the street. (It would be better labeled a girly screech. It sounded rather like a cross between a dying cow and a turkey that swallowed a marshmallow and can't force it down.) I hoped fervently that the neighbor didn't hear him.

For a long time, we fought. Around the tree, around the tree again, over the downed tire swing (which Procrastination tripped over again), around the tree, up the tree, down the tree, and we knocked over my sister's flowers.

And we fought around the tree once more.

And then, when my strength began to run out and my hand began to tremble, Procrastination broke the Rules of Combat (Copyright © 2011 Villainous and Heroic Enterprises Inc.), which neither of us really paid attention anyway. He summoned help with a literal snap of the fingers.

Instantly, the monstrous Allegebra Mathe stood in front of me. He was one of the only two things in the world that are really indescribable; the first is the Golux's hat. The only thing I could clearly describe was the spray-painted sword, which shone black in the sun. Mathe wasn't the richest villain, but he prided himself in his shiny spray-paint.

"Here we go again!" the Pen cried, and before I could stop him, we hurtled towards the beastie (who was cruelly crushing the flowers by the front door).

I (or the Pen) took a stab at Mathe. He and I exchanged a few blows, steel against spray-painted steel. The paint began to flake off.

And then I realized something.

"Wait a moment!" I shouted. "You can't be here! I'm finished with school for the week!"

And then he was gone, just like that, without a poof or a bang or a ping. Just gone.

"Rats," I heard Procrastination mutter from close behind me. I tried to Heroically Whirl Around, but a black shoe tripped me, making me twist and fall over. I thumped to the ground, flat on my back. The Pen clattered to the ground, where it began to shout insults at Procrastination's trickery.

"You're a foul-faced flapstapper, Procrastination! Fight like a REAL Villain, and let me at ya! You can't hurt an unarmed man, ya persnickety ploshy—"

Meanwhile, Procrastination's blade stared me in the face, and I wondered why he had drawn two eyes on the blade in blue Sharpie.

"Now you're MINE, writer!" Procrastination began to laugh evilly, bringing up his blade to stab.

I winced. "You need to work on your laugh."

"Be quiet! I'm about to stab you in the stomach!" Procrastination paused for a moment. "....what's wrong with it?"

"For one, you laugh like a girl*," I said, and made a footnote. "No modern villain says 'Ha ha ha!'. It just sounds cheesy."

Procrastination rolled his eyes. "I'm trying to enjoy my moment of supreme victory, and you're lecturing me on laughing. It's annoying, stop it."

"Try adding a "Mwah" in there," I continued. "Like you're a chef or something." I kissed my fingertips in what I hoped looked like a chef-like manner and made a "mwah" sound.

"Mwah ha ha ha!" Procrastination laughed.

I winced again. "You sound like you're laughing and kissing at the same time. Cut the smooching bit and try again."

"Mwahahhahaha!" he tried.

"Great job!" I said. "Now, you can proceed to headlock him."

"What?" Procrastination said, puzzled, until an arm locked around his neck. Inspiration looked over Pro's shoulder.

"Hey, Jake." Inspiration grinned. "I'm back. And it's time for Procrastination to go. When inspiration comes, procrastination flees. You can quote me on that."

"I might put it on my blog," I said, standing up. "Now, Procrastination, we've Fought. Now it's time for me to Write."

Procrastination struggled. "Hey! I was about to win! You NEVER let me win, it's not fair!"

I picked up my sword off the ground, pushing the button in the hilt before the Pen could get a word in edgewise. "Yeah...it's far too easy to stall you. Maybe you'll know better next time." I then turned the Pen of Doom back into a pen...and twisted the end, turning it on.

Procrastination let out a classic Villainous "NOOOOOOO!" shriek as I stepped up to him. Inspiration held him fast, though.

I took my pen and wrote on his forehead, "Silence. It held the hall like the cold grip of death...."

And then, with a final shout, he faded out of reality...for a while.

*Please note that I mean no offense to either girls or their laughs.  I was stating a simple fact.  If you have grievances against me or resent me for stating a simple fact, please contact me using the information on my contact page (which I am too lazy to copy-and-paste).  Thank you.

So, what did you think?  Good, bad, needed work?  Feel free to critique.

Farewell for now, folks!  I'm hoping I'll be back soon.