Author Archives: Azalea Dabill

About Azalea Dabill

Azalea Dabill grew up in the California hills, building forts in the oaks. Homeschooled, she read The Young Trailers and fantasy adventure to her siblings. Now she enjoys growing things, old bookstores, and hiking the wild. Never finding enough tales of adventure, romance, and mystery in the world, she non-fiction, medieval historical fantasy, and just plain fantasy. Words hold so much power.

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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July Stormpoint – Good Power vs. Evil Magick

How to know good power and evil magick in the spiritual arena, with examples from DJ Edwardson’s Grimbriar, and Jenelle Schmidt’s The Orb and the Airship.

We and our heroes and heroines bring various weapons and kinds of power to bear against characters who align themselves with oppression, selfish ambition, and sorcery. Our weapons [of warfare] hold power of different sorts, from a physical blade to mental gifting and beyond, which leads us to a deeper exploration of magic power. How can we know if unusual powers in other worlds are dark magick or sorcery? Special Powers in Fantasy—Are They a Talent, Gift, or Magic? Fantastic Journey pg. 213

DJ Edwardson’s Grimbriar is a tale of far lands and young Kion, his sister Tiryn, and Zinder and friends, including a pet frox, who struggle to overcome the evil in their world. With the help of their glaives, they take their place in the fight against the forces of Shadowriven who oppose the creation of the Mastersmith and all that is good. They are bladespeakers, and step out of legend into a world at war. The outcome hangs in doubt, while hearts are shaken and blades tested. And good power shows itself true, in contrast to evil magick. Not as we might think, in ends gained that appear good, but in every power that aligns with its Creator’s end, vs every power that seeks its own ends. Ironically, every person and power who seeks its own end finds its demise in fruitless selfishness.

“… I am a solif. One of the bryt ones from beyond the frames of this world. I have come to you at Volun the Mastersmith’s bidding, at the behest of the one who sustains this world and all that is in it by the unceasing work of his hammer, the hammer of his will. … for solif are beings of light and our bodies cannot pass farther beneath the waters than light itself may go. And yet, Volun does not send his servants to ends without purpose.”

-Grimbriar

Not without purpose. Good purpose is implied here, and a good end, opposing its opposite, evil, and all who follow that fruitless end.

As The Orb and the Airship demonstrates, “He did not know how things were going to end, but he now knew that even in the midst of the darkest night, there was always a shard of light.”

We may not know how a particular circumstance will end, but the very end, oh yes, the light wins out. For the shard of light is a glimmer of an essence destructive to darkness. There are three Persons who hate darkness and evil, and He will end it.

All evil will be justly dealt with. Is that not something to look forward to? And our purpose has just begun to unfold. Is that not something worth fighting for?

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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Spiritual Strength in Story

Strength begins in the spiritual arena. Our Stormpoint for this month is how conflict in fiction spills into battle in the inner arena.

Inner strength draws evil, or pits us against it, as our authors’ books this month attest. C. J. Milacci’s Fugitive of Talionis has a heroine who is top of her class as a kidnapped trainee but who is just at the beginning of her inner journey that will strengthen her or break her. That’s the thing about hard circumstances. They make us more bitter and defeated, or wider of heart, stronger in both spirit and body. For each affects the other, as the inner arena touches, even directly feeds, the outer parts of us.

Paths of fantasy, under water or over wold, take us to interesting places and wondrous spaces, not to mention introducing us to fascinating people where every character is involved in the battle we all fight.

Fantastic Journey – The Soul of Speculative Fiction and Fantasy Adventure Pg. 8

Gaining the skills to survive, the will to conquer, the hope that makes us look up, the courage to fight, all drive us to become strong. And the simple yearning for justice, that evil will not always rule by force and fear, that also strengthens us.

But where are the roots of spiritual strength, and what are the results? The roots of every strength are in truth. The true truth of your circumstances. The truth of what you think. The truth of what you believe. The truth you act on. The truth of what is real, not what you wish were real.

“Call me crazy,” Nika says as we walk around some old rubble, “but I thought you were going to share a little more than that.”

I rub the back of my neck. “Remember Ava?”

“The girl who died in the river?”

I nod.

“Of course I remember her. Not something easily forgotten.”

She goes quiet, and I can tell she’s replaying the scene in her mind same as I am. I can still see Ava slipping from my grasp into the clutches of the river. Her lifeless body washing up on shore hours later.

“What about her?”

“Leddington is her hometown.” I let the words sink in.

“Oh.”

I lick my lips. “I need to tell her family what happened. Tell her sister that with her last words she wanted her to know that she loved her. You get that, right.”

She nods. “Yeah. I’ll back you up.” . . .

“I need to do it, Nika. But how can I face them when I’m the reason she’s dead?”

Nika stops and grabs my arm. “Bria. You’re not the reason Ava’s dead. She drowned because of Commander Ark, because of Colonel Valarius. Not because of you.”

“Maybe.” I shrug. “But I couldn’t save her.” I stare off into the distance.

Nika squeezes my arm that she’s still holding. “But you tried.” . . .

“I just wish I could have done more. Wish I could have held onto her. Kept her alive.”

“It’s not your fault. But I get it.” Nika ducks under a branch. “You’re not the only one with regrets. I have them too.”

I look over at her in time to see a flash of pain sweep over her face.

“But we can’t let those regrets rule our lives. God’s forgiven us both, and He has a path for us to walk in. If we allow ourselves to be hindered by everything we wish we could change or undo we’ll never really be able to walk in the freedom of God’s plan for our lives.”

I let her words sink in, not sure how to respond. Silence stretches between us, but somehow I think we both need it. As we hike the last miles of the forest, I can’t help but wonder what Nika regrets.

Fugitive of Talionis – ARC

Turning from the false and following what is true gives us strength and leads to more strength.

The impact of choice remains to be seen. Candace Kade’s Enhanced demonstrates this.

Don’t miss these good reads, (Enhanced is out, and Fugitive of Talionis goes live on Kickstarter the 22d.) There will be new authors and books and more on choice next month.

Have a great week,

Azalea – Crossover – Find the Eternal, the Adventure

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