Category Archives: For Readers

Armsman’s Trial WIP – Excerpt

Fast and whipcord strong, Nith had already completed his routine and beaten his post into submission. Now he bent his long frame over the well stones at the back of the washhouse and splashed his head. He came up blowing and shook back his hair, flinging water.

Nith always finished before him. That did not irk Berd as he panted at his work, thirst growing. The first armsmaster of a stronghold ought to be quicker, stronger, and more wily than any armsman. Berd’s growing grin cut short.

The thief irritated him no end. The thief who stole his first daughter’s blade from the heart of Cierheld. The thief who cast his oath as Lady Cieri’s personal armsman under the shadow of doubt.

Berd’s jaw knotted. He should be out hunting the missing weapon with the rest of the men, not caged, worse than useless. That blade of curious design was cousin to Kyrin’s old falcon dagger, which played so large a part in bringing Kyrin home from slavery, carrying the hidden means to save Cierheld. The blade now resided in a faraway land in honor, with Kyrin’s mentor, Tae Chisun.

The thunk of his hundred and seventieth strike did not comfort Berd. He had wielded all his skill against his wooden enemy from Prime bell to Terce. One would have thought the third hour of the morn would bring news if it did not bring rest. It had not. If any had seen ought of note without the walls, the retired armsmaster would learn of it. Over long years, old Cernalt had woven a ring of hearts within and without Cierheld loyal to Lord Dain Cieri.

Berd drew a deep breath through his nose, and quietly out. He was yet loyal, though the grizzled retired armsman was uncertain of it. Sweat ran down his face, and he continued his weapon’s drill against the enemy that stood between him and the cool well. He must fight with patience. His wood edge thudded into the pine a last time, and he whipped it back to readiness behind his shoulder. His speed belied his hot face and dark hair, as prickly with sweat about the ends as a hedgehog’s. “Ho, Nith, my arm tires. Are you fixing to swim?”

Nith turned, dripping, and smiled with a bare lift of lips. He studied his charge, as if he might discover somewhat of interest, cocking his head.

Berd gave him back nothing but a bland stare. Nith, who had trained him since he could walk, had bruised his pale skin on top of the marks Kyrin had dealt him earlier with her staff. They were not as sore as his thoughts.

Mildly, the armsmaster indicated Berd’s weathered post. “Use your wit to bring him down. Do not let your enemy recover. You must outlast him—if his wood heart has not ceased to beat for fear of the blow that dropped his hose about his ankles a moment past,” he added drily. Then his voice left all jest. “First armsman, you must become a blade. And every blade must be tempered, honed, tested. Like the weapon you seek.”

Berd looked at him straightly. Only one who knew him well would notice the pale tension about his mouth and realize his anger glowed at white heat. “What would you have me do?”

“What you have always done. Support Cierheld; protect it with all you are. If you are strong enough, seek the sword.”

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Fantasy and Our Training in the Cosmic War

All good fantasy points to the truth of God, who we are in the sphere we breathe in, who our enemy is, and who we can or will become.

When we look to hope, and the refuge above ourselves, we have joined the cosmic war. Our training has begun.
And the entire rightful aim of training for war is peace—when evil will be no more in the cosmos. Until that time of complete healing, we can but bind the world’s wounds after groundbreaking conflict, when the seeds of peace are sown in peace by the makers of peace. – Fantastic Journey pg. 155

Jenelle Schmidt in Mantles of Oak and Iron speaks of conflict, training, and more than survival in the cosmic war:

The glow of their accomplishment washed over each of them as they ambled across the Academy grounds together. They continued in silence, an easy comaraderie settling over their group. They needed no words, and they needed no applause or recognition for the task they had accomplished. They had done their duty, they had survived nightvines, frigid rivers, hungry grymstalkers, and deadlier yet, warring personalities. They had climbed mountains and pushed through their own exhaustion. They had not come through the fire unscathed, but they had come through it. And more than all they had endured, they had shared the ordeal together and become brothers. …

When you stand beside someone and face the enemy together, you become brothers. When you train together to defend our nations, you become brothers. The second you stepped across the Academy threshold, you became a part of this family. Don’t either of you forget it again. …

In this cosmic war, to be part of God’s family is an indescribable gift, and we catch glimpses of who we will become. It is intriguing that we are told we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. Isn’t it fascinating, that in order to be like him we must see him clearly? That will be a glorious day, when the cosmic war is won.

In the mean time, it’s back to training, and occupying until he comes. There are people to help and encourage, and things we need to learn to fight the unseen battle well. Through him we shall do valiantly, and defeat the evil within. The end of ourselves is in sight. Not the true, just, joyful self he made us to be, but the self that would swallow everything in pride and selfishness. Thank God for that!

What place will you take in the war of the cosmos? Where will you stand? With who will you side, and on what grounds? Why do you fight?

Crossover – Find the Eternal, the Adventure

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Stormpoint Feb 2024 – The Anti-hero’s Weakness

In the wide world of ideas the anti-hero is gaining ground.

I find stories that admire anti-heroes repellent, unless the anti-hero grows beyond their selfishness. Anti-heroes have a major weakness, namely, that they never grow stronger. Instead they fail, make themselves victims, and revel in their failure. (Anti-hero and anti-heroine is synonymous here.)

After they are knocked down, they don’t get up again, not in any true sense. That is repellent in any person, and most of all in a story, which most readers go to for encouragement, enjoyment, and a guiding ethos. (I had to look that word up. Ethos is a Greek word that refers to the character of ideals and beliefs of a community or ideology. It includes the idea of alignment of passion and caution. –Loosely paraphrased from Google.)

Great fantasy books show us the beauty of justified self-sacrifice and the ugliness of it’s opposite, the unjustified anti-hero. How fantasy explores what is worth dying for and what is worth living for opens worlds of choice and myriad possibilities before our eyes.

In The Fourth Scroll, Karen Grunst takes the lead character down the path of a true heroine. When she refuses the path of the anti-heroine, Sarah discovers that the life she expected to live must die (figuratively). And she grieves that loss. Suddenly she is forced down a completely different path with only the vaguest notion of what her new life will entail as the novel ends. Though I have not read this book, this is a great point. This is true of many things in our lives, as it is of Sarah in this clean fantasy.

Amy Earls in Forbidden Reign gives us another truth in this quote. “Elohim walked with me in those frightening places, and maybe the darkness as well as the light is a part of His plan. Sometimes things must die before the world sees the life they can bring.”

Dying and living can both be dangerous and deadly. That is the nature of choice in life. For whenever we live to one thing, we always die to another. Dying for the sake of hope often brings life. As it does in [the above books]. Paths divide and hearts choose. It is odd that it is often necessary to die, sometimes literally, in order to truly live. —Fantastic Journey pg. 197

Freedom from the tyranny of self is freedom indeed. Doing what is right brings freedom, even if it brings the death of something dear to us.

The weakness of the anti-hero, and his very real despair, propagates a lack of strength and whining, to put it bluntly. We are all weak and complain at times. The anti-hero stays there. See the end of anti-heroes, in more ways than one, and turn from emulating them.

Give your admiration to heroes, to simple people who strive for truth and light and good. Imperfectly striving, but still heroic, still fighting for something far beyond themselves. Follow those who refuse to stay down under the weight of darkness.

Crossover – Find the Eternal, the Adventure
Have a great week!

Azalea

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Stormpoint November Nights – Conflict in Fantasy

Why do we need inner strength?

Some may say fantasy combat is very unrealistic. We see their point.

If they mean stories where a sudden miracle out of story context saves the day, or the hero gains an illogical, unstoppable power, or the heroine performs flying martial arts, though beautiful in grace, which would never stop an enemy.

But there is one place where combat is real, always—inside the mind, heart, and spirit where the ground is set for any conflict to be won—or lost. If we lose there, we lose outwardly, no matter our fighting method or weapon. The inner fight determines the results of the outer. Fantastic Journey pg. 137

Because the inner war in fantasy touches the outer war. Not just of the character, but also the conflicts of the author and the reader. Here is an excerpt from Lance and Quill, that I recently rewrote.

He touched her arm, then dropped his hand. “Each defending the other, we can defeat these gossip-mongers. No matter, that you do not possess the death touch. That is a small thing.” He was laughing at her. Gently. “You are fierce enough without it.”

He bent near, full of heat again. “Alaina, you need to be strong in your strengths, the gifts given you, not in another’s. Not in Kyrin’s—but Alaina’s strengths—gifts from the Master of all. Take his truth to you; take joy in it. You are strong, Alaina. Know it.”

She shivered. Her battle to accept her weaknesses, her struggle to find her place in the world, to be strong—he saw it? Burn him—no, no. But he did see too much.

The place she sought was not completely shaped, nor completely known. She wet her lips. “You could live with one who is a pawn of peace, not born of your sands, whom no other would have? You would have the—the heart of one who is spoiled?”

“Do not call yourself so! I have Tae’s word you are not touched. Even if you had been, it would not be to your blame. That rests on Ali Ben Aidon’s head.”

Alaina’s face burned. She was a healer; she should not blush at such things. She smoothed the paper in her hand.

His voice lowered. “I see your power. I would live with one who speaks truth, though it does not favor her. With one who picks battles that need fought, no matter how many lances oppose her—”

“Battles ill fought, this morn,” she said. “Right words at an ill moment and ill words at the right moment.”

“You do not start a battle with me that you cannot win.” He was laughing at her again. “Unless I must.” A smile tugged at her mouth.

Alaina needed inner strength for her battles, inner and outer. Her willingness to do battle within touched everyone and everything outside her. Her conflict taught me, as I wrote it, how I could better fight to acknowledge my God-given strengths and build the strengths of others.

And, dear reader, I hope her battles strengthen you. How, I cannot tell. You must brave her inner arena and grow in the forge you find there.

May you have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Azalea

Crossover – Find the Eternal, the Adventure

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October Stormpoint – Relativity destroys Strength

Saying morals are relative destroys our inner strength. And the strength of story. It unravels the framework, the structure, and the heart of the story, which ought to tell us something about how relativism works – or doesn’t – in us.

If we believe relativism, it’s like trying to fight on dry dunes. The sand is never stable, giving us nothing to rely on. That tyrannical belief begins in us, when we redefine, excuse, and explain what we can about our circumstances in attempts to justify our actions. Relativism is the mark of the bad guys. There is no solid ground to stand on, no reliability. It is false, deceptive ground. We can build no lasting framework, no structure here. There is no place of inner strength to find.
Wyldling Trials and The Shadow Elf’s Mission reveal inner strength in their good characters because they fight on the rock, or a least toward the rock. They are fighting relativistic thinking. That fight between the relativistic villain and the underdog who says, ‘no, the same rules apply to you and everyone,’ is a forge. Often a forge of pain.

As we have said, there is always some kind of pain in training: from that of tearing, expanding muscle, to rigorous trial of spirit, to heart-pain that makes room for compassion or which turns that which is weak inside to steel. … Hence, forging forces are needed in the inner arena. The training arena, the gladiatorial arena, and the liberating arena of ideas where spirits strive through the ages—all have served this purpose. When a fantasy story combines the external elements of training, the contest, and the gaze of witnesses with high inner stakes of the moral war, we have a great story and fly through the pages . . . –Fantastic Journey pg. 145

You can’t have any kind of story that rings true, that has a framework, or structure, or heart without objective morality, which is a rock to us. What inner strength we have comes from what we stand on, from our rock. We must choose, we do choose, relative truth or objective truth in every circumstance. Will we tell ourselves tales or the truth?Oddly enough, the more relativistic a character in a story is, the more we hate them. As I say in Fantastic Journey, “Principles, or their lack, drive the blade in every world.” We use the blade in a right or wrong way. Every moral rock, all reality attests to this, even the reflections of reality we call story.

What ground do you choose to fight from? What is your rock? Or rather “who” is your rock? Yourself or???

Fight well!

Until next time,

Azalea – Crossover, Find the Eternal, the Adventure

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September Spheres Stormpoint

We need training in inner strength in every sphere of life. To live well we must become a blade.

So how do we strengthen our inner steel? The fantasy trope of training usually touches the spiritual arena, the wide world of ideas, and the sphere we breathe in.

There is always some kind of pain in training: from that of tearing, expanding muscle, to rigorous trial of spirit, to the heart-pain that makes room for compassion or which turns that which is weak inside to steel. Can we agree that is true? Forging forces are needed in the inner arena. 

-Fantastic Journey pg. 145

As Pamela Hart shows us in her new book, those forging forces can be as fiery as someone disagreeing with us in a good way. This forces us to think, to evaluate, to weigh the true and the false, right and wrong. The words of those we admire, love, or emulate take root, and reach into the sphere we breathe in.

A memory streaked across her mind. Dragul’s raspy voice had chided, “Your anger is holding you back.”

“But I won!” Kaya protested.

“Anger can only get you so far. There will come a time when it’s not enough.”

Kaya huffed disparagingly. “Spare me the speech.”

“Kaya, until you learn to control your anger, I refuse to teach you anymore.” Dragul folded his arms across his chest.

“So that’s it? You’re just going to abandon me here?”

“When you’re ready to continue the path of Eiren, seek me out. I’ll be in Avathys.”

-City of a Thousand Tears by Pamela Hart

Ideas and thoughts that stretch us help us grow spiritual muscle for the arena of decision, as The Eternity Gate relates.

“The historian in me was thrilled about finding the precious artifact. We could fill museums with the treasure from the tunnels. My practical side demanded that it be used to pay off Laijon’s debts to Pirthyia. Kiboro would agree, if she knew. But my priestess’s training screamed that Jorai and I had broken the king’s command and were rewarded with a sinister discovery. Not one piece of our ancient treasure remained, if the records were true, so what had we found?”

The Eternity Gate by Katherine Briggs

Growing the steel to deal with the spiritual sphere, the tide of ideas and thought, and the arena of decision where we breathe sounds simple. But in the conflict of the moment we are often overwhelmed. Test everything in the spiritual sphere and every idea, thought, and decision.

Learn from our heroes and heroines how to become battle steel tough in the forge of the world. Follow the example of Frodo, Paksenarrion, Firebird, Picket Longtreader, and the Son of the Father and you will become like them, and like Him. A blade for our time. Straight, true, and tested for combat.

There are multitudes of others who witness to what is good, right, and true by the example of their lives, both imagined and real. That cloud of witnesses watch us all. Will we join them?

Until October, Crossover – Find the Eternal, the Adventure

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August Stormpoint – Inner Strength Attracts Readers

People sense inner strength in people around them and in stories. That inner strength of right leads to fairness and stability. “Fair” means what is right, what is just. Readers tend to be attracted to good stories where the author defends the right and the characters are deeply invested in the outcome. Aren’t we all interested in being treated fairly?

Defending the right always appeals to us deeply, when it is our right in question. But what about when it is another’s right in question, and we are in the wrong? Then the measure of “fair” must be the same for both, or it is not just.

Acknowledging the truth of wrong and taking responsibility for where our actions lead is a major part of fairness and justice. It opens the door to mercy and enables change. It starts with telling the truth to ourselves.

“She. The witch. Did something to me.” I coughed as if there still might be a chance to purge myself of it, but even now, I could feel it settling into my heart, weakening me. If only I’d listened to God right away, rather than allowing myself to revel in my misery and anger.

The Witch’s Curse by JF Rogers

In a culture that increasingly rewards split tongues, encourages the insanity of lying to yourself and others about gender and your very identity, approving evil in so many forms, “right” and “fair” are a breath of fresh air. Don’t let anyone redefine those words and make a good word mean something bad. Challenge what they say. Is it true? Is Social Justice really just? Is it right? Is it fair?

A good story cuts through the confusion, lasers through the vague screen of responsibility shifting, the darkness of untruth, and rebukes evil. It shows us what a just world could be, what it should be, and picks a rose for us from the garden of heaven to give us an inkling of what the future holds if we pursue true justice, fairness, and mercy.

A great story helps us understand our own confusions as we follow our heroines and heroes through their confusion, and see through it to the truth. An excellent story clarifies right and wrong, enacts fairness, justice, and mercy. It helps us see the truth of many things.

Jenelle Schmidt’s Steal the Morrow illustrates this well.

Olifur hung his head. “I didn’t take the shot,” he choked. “I couldn’t. I had my arrow ready, but…”

“Why didn’t you shoot?”

The gentle question startled him and Olifur looked up, confused. He considered the question. Why hadn’t he taken the shot? The moments of terror flooded back to him and he swallowed hard. “I couldn’t tell which one was Bet,” he said. “I didn’t want to hit her.”

“That doesn’t sound like fear taking over,” Fritjof said. “That sounds like wisdom.”

Olifur frowned, his emotions a tangle of shame and confusion. He couldn’t speak. Words failed to materialize.

Fritjof kept speaking. “You might have frozen for a moment,” he allowed. “But you didn’t let it take over. You acted. You drew your bow, but when you realized you might hurt a friend instead of your foe, you waited. Instead, you saw that you could help me, and you did. Lad, you didn’t run away, nor did you stand there frozen and unable to move. You did what you could with the tools you had. Probably saved my life and Bet’s with your actions.”

Steal the Morrow, by Jenelle Schmidt

This snippet of a Fantasy Gaslamp adventure has the earmarks of inner strength, justice, fairness, mercy, and defending the right, all over it. How many earmarks can you find?

So while we search out fantasy adventures, and fight alongside the struggle for good in their pages, remember our true strength and ability and training, and the moral battle. And whether we are strong or weak in body, winning our battles first lies in the unseen realm. Then that war spills into the seen. We should be ready to fight as best we may in both worlds to defend the right.

Fantastic Journey pg. 249

Speak. Don’t let truth die in your silence. Someone else may be depending on that blade and your strength to defend them.


Until next time, enjoy a great summer!

Azalea

Crossover – Find the Eternal, the Adventure

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June Storm Point – Growing by Conflict in the Arena

Conflict in the spiritual arena makes or breaks a story’s characters. Conflict in that arena also builds up or tears down something in us as we read. That thing is goodness. How do we face the inner battle, how do they face it? Much depends on how that battle is portrayed. Through the characters, their actions and reactions, is the author of the story leading us on an adventure of hope, or through a tale of despair?

Characters we admire can inspire us to goodness, or characters can drag us through the ugliest levels of inhuman evil. I started to watch the series 1883, and I pulled it out of the dvd player very soon. When I watch or read something I want to be encouraged, warned, taught, inspired, and given strength to go on by a real look at people, not have indifference to darkness and evil rubbed in my face, and worse, my spirit. All we have to do to know evil intimately is to look inside. We don’t need anyone to tell us how corrupt we are.

People who try to rewrite our perception of history and claim it is valid because it is reality, are not doing us any favors. I especially hate it when they try to make out that people of past ages were as bad as we are, and end up showing the worst of us. Is that going to do anything good? Is it true?

We enjoy our heroes and heroines, handsome and beautiful or not, whether they overcome together or are pitted against their enemy alone. Their spirit, their strengths, and yes, sometimes even their weaknesses, endear them to us—when they show themselves human, yet with a capacity for greatness. [That is reality. All of us have the capacity to rise above greed, hate, and evil in all its forms, in Christ. We have been given the gift of change. Story is about change in ourselves and changing things.] Things we all wish for. We all wish to be brave, to overcome wind and wave and monster—to be a hero to someone, even if only in the ocean of fantasy. –Fantastic Journey pg. 51

Elisa Rae’s newest release showcases a conflict that shows beautifully how the spiritual arena can change characters for the better, from the lowest verbal spat to running for your life. Whether in a literal arena or that of a court, the stakes are high, and every challenge gifts us the capacity for growth.

“I long to be free.” I blushed. “He says I am a fool, wishing for something I can’t comprehend, but I understand enough. I wish to make my own decisions and not consider what would please my master.” I clasped my hands at my waist and bowed my head briefly. “You probably agree with him.”

“Quite the contrary.” Greyson glowered at the far wall. “Freedom is precious.”

After a moment of stilted silence, he spoke again. “Be at peace. Bartle will see that Silda does nothing to harm you when reporting to her mistress. And if the servant doesn’t attend to the warnings, I will see to it personally.” His ominous tone sounded almost malevolent.

I watched his expression for a few moments, debating what kind of fae he was. There were so many possibilities. He was too large for a sprite and too small for an ettin, not to mention possessing the wrong coloring. It would be rude to ask, and considering clothing completely covered him form the neck down, he seemed to be possibly hiding his true nature.

“Lord Greyson.” A halfling with glasses tucked into the wild thatch of hair at the top of his head bowed to Greyson.

“Lord?” Panic tightened my chest. Had I been overly familiar with a noble of the Unseelie court?

“I have need of your verification of this order for three hundred barrels of Tiren blackberry wine,” the halfling explained, holding up an invoice.

“Pardon me, my lord.” I curtseyed. “I really must return to work.” I hurried off without waiting for a response, my heart thundering in my chest. An Unseelie nobleman–I had been casually conversing with a member of the court. What a fool he must think me.

The Unseelie’s Wallflower

Because freedom truly is a precious thing, fighting for it carries the most risk. And the highest reward. Never stop fighting for it. Above all, for the freedom to do right, to do good. And doing that often calls out evil. Be wise as serpents . . . There is a wise and foolish way to wage war, of course.

The Unseelie’s Wallflower is a great tale, and one you will enjoy if you like stories of fae and humans and clean, adventurous romance. You can check it out here.

If you can’t get that one at the moment, read one of your old tried and true stories where the battle was hard, the conflict stiff, and the reward worth it all. If not immediately, in the end.

Not being overcome by evil, but overcoming evil with good. Now there’s a reality possible in the arena. Think about what helps you overcome in your arenas of conflict. What stories stiffen your spine when you are in the grip of the enemy and everything hangs in the balance?

Crossover – Find the Eternal, the Adventure

Until next time, all the best!

Azalea

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May Stormpoint – The Strength of Beauty

For many of us, beauty has the strength of a Siren call, to put it in common terms. In other words beauty draws us like a lodestone, a powerful thirst, the call of the West, our true North.

This applies to the beauty of good things in the moral sense, the beauty of form in the physical sense, and the beauty of being in the spiritual sense. When one of these is present in a person, a flower, a creature it draws us. We sense by the beauty of its being that it is real. When all three capture our awareness we are a goner. In the best way.

Some things are a blessing to lose ourselves to. Beauty is one of them.

A friend of mine is releasing a book May 30th that shows us one aspect of beauty.

A purple flower swayed in the breeze within reach. I touched the smooth petal as if it might comfort me. I sensed its hearty energy within. So calm. At peace. Doing what it was made to do—use its beauty and invigorating scent to attract. It had no worries. How I envied the plant for that. I wanted what it had. The petal in my fingers stiffened and browned. I released the plant as if I’d killed it and been caught with the murder weapon in hand. –The King’s Curse, by J. F. Rogers

Do you see the context? The attraction of beauty and our ability to destroy it, even unintentionally. What is the cure for our curse? I think you may find some of the answers in my friend’s book.

I challenge the idea in the blanket statement that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Depending, again, on context, this may mean only that people have different beliefs about what constitutes the beauty of form, etc. In that context, of the beauty of form, it may be partially true in the sense of perceived beauty. Still, it is much more true that many things and people and forms are beautiful in their created selves, whether we ever see them or not and despite what we think of them.

This makes my heart sing, that beauty exists. That it exists and thrives outside of me, even despite me. Great stories show us beauties “that pierce like swords” as C. S. Lewis has said.

He says further of The Fellowship of the Ring, “Even now I have left out almost everything–the silvan leafiness, the passions, the high virtues, the remote horizons. Even if I had space I could hardly convey them. And after all the most obvious appeal of the book is perhaps also its deepest: ‘there was sorrow then too, and gathering dark, but great valor, and great deeds that were not wholly vain’. Not wholly vain–it is the cool middle point between illusion and disillusionment.” Isn’t that truth beautiful? About illusion, disillusionment, and our present fight against evil? Are we fighting?

All these beauties are worth fighting for, worth seeing and appreciating. Imaginary worlds are wide places of ideas, where the truths of the unseen can be painted in awestriking colors, such as in The King’s Curse by J F Rogers.

As I mention in Fantastic Journey, “Are we not seeking the beauty we have tasted somewhere, that strength that came to us at some time, that moment when a scent drifted past, as if it were a touch or a thought from another world? That time we were reading and a whole universe opened up, which had never existed for us before?” – pg. 10

Seek beauty in all good ways. As part of that, I encourage you to check out my friend’s books. You can still preorder The King’s Curse here for $0.99, and it releases the 30th.

Whatever you do, I hope you see beauty everywhere in its strength and pursue it, even defend it.

Until next time,

Azalea

Crossover – Find the Eternal, the Adventure

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April Stormpoint – The Strength of Choice – In Story and Life

Story impacts us by reflecting choices and results, thus helping us see the difference we can make in the world of the book, and in our own sphere.

Maybe that is another reason we love the adventure of voyaging in the fantasy realm. For the magic and mystery of discovery, where choices matter and we impact everything we touch. Fantastic Journey pg. 74 

How do you think stories reflect choices and consequences and the reality of life?

Well, some things are clear. We cheer when the bad choices of villains bring the consequences of justice to their door. Or, if there are mitigating circumstances that make us weigh justice and mercy, then our brains smoke a little, which is all to the good. Our brains are too flabby, and in need of exercise. Whether the villain gets his just deserts, or another chance with a helping of his deserts, or simply overwhelming mercy, choice always brings results.

The choice to pursue what is good and right brings fruit also, including the riches of goodness itself to ourselves and others. If good choices also brings pain at times because of the reaction of a villain, at least it is not pain brought because we chose badly. For our bad choices harm others, even if on so small a level that they simply care what happens to us.

Sometimes the reflection of story is about the choice of another on our behalf, after they see our choices. Such a story is E.G. Moore’s The Last Dragonfly. Etoiny chooses to follow in her mother’s footsteps. She chooses knowledge instead of the status quo. True knowledge, after weighing good and evil, not simply what she is told. She decides to allow the wide world in, instead of remain in comfortable insularity. Others around her make their choices. One will follow a heart of greed. Another will see the error of thinking Etoiny is a foolish child. One will love her to the end, and the last will discover what they missed. But there is hope for the future, in more opportunities, choices, and change. Though there is a point where choice may not be changed.

We cannot choose our circumstances, but we can, we must, we do always choose our reaction to our circumstances. Is it not almost always so in story, and life? The desire of our heart influences our will, our will determines our choice, and our choice always brings fruit. But thank God, He gives us the gift of mercy, and change. As it says in the movie, The Redemption of Henry Meyers, the greatest gift of God to man is change. I love that. The fact that we can change, we can do right, we can be kind when our hearts are changed. It comes down to choice.

I am thankful for mercy. I am thankful for justice. I am thankful for goodness. Today, how many times must I choose between good and evil? Stories bring us face to face with choice, result, and their impact. A glimpse into another life can rip away our excuses, and show us our own faces. It can also show us what we want to become, who we want to be like. Let’s make heroes and heroines, in both worlds. May choice change us.

One such hero that comes to mind immediately is Jonathan Renshaw’s Dawn of Wonder, The Wakening Bk 1. If you haven’t read the story of Aidan’s brave coming of age, you’re missing out. A curious, vulnerable, indefatigable hero, his tale is humorous, epic, and delves deep into choices. All at a good pace.

But what do you think gives strength to good choice, to bad choice? What chains a result to its choice? How are we bound by choice? How are we liberated by it?

As Alice Ivinya says in Crown of Glass, released yesterday, “I wonder if sometimes it is hard to know what is right and what is wrong until we’re forced to fight for it. And hard to appreciate something until we are forced to wait for it. Maybe sometimes, the darkness has to happen for us to understand the nature of light.”

In other words, often we don’t pay attention to right and wrong, or think deeply about it until forced to fight for the right, against wrong. And darkness shows light for what it is.

What choices do the heroes and heroines you read about make? How do they influence your thinking? And your choices?

Until next time,

Crossover – Find the Eternal, the Adventure

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