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The Half-Wyvern by Drake Redwing {Author Interview – by Kirsten J. Foster} {Guest Post}

The Half-Wyvern

The Half-Wyvern Trilogy

A Book Review by Kirsten J. Foster

If you’re like me, books are one of the best things to have taking up space in your house.  You have them sitting on your shelves, on tabletops, in boxes, in bags, and even on your electronic devices (eBooks or audiobooks, anyone?)!

When you have this many books on your shelf (or book bank on your electronic devices), you’re always looking for the next great book to add to it.  You’re looking for that next story that has you on the edge of your seat with bated breath as you watch the characters strive for their goals.  You’re always looking for that next favorite author who writes stories that come alive in your mind or bring you to tears with his or her words.

Today, I would like to share an interview I had with author Drake Redwing as he talks about writing and his book coming out soon.  Here’s a sneak peek:

*~*~*~*

The Half-Wyvern

2020-05-11

(The Half-Wyvern Trilogy)

Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Post-Apocalyptic, War

Synopsis: In the year 2160, in the remains of the United States of America, a young man named Trevor Ryder, thrust into a life-or-death situation, must lead a rebellion against his corrupt King. With the help of his dragon and his friends, they must battle the evil King Deranth and save their kingdom, but there are far greater things at work in the shadows. And through it all, can Trevor overcome his complacency and grow into a true man?

 

Interview with Drake Redwing

Kirsten: Why don’t you tell us a little about yourself?

Drake:  My name is Keith, known by my penname as Drake Redwing. I’m a 19-year-old author, avid nerd about just about everything, autistic fat kid and a college student. I live in Upstate New York with my parents and my two cats, Piccolo and Greyson—Greyson is also fat. I’m a proud American, follower of Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior (to Whom I owe every breath), memer and all around goofball. I’ve been writing since I was the age of about 5—stories of Winnie-The-Pooh characters and whatnot getting into all sorts of mischief. I’ve written several full-length fanfictions first about How To Train Your Dragon and then later Zootopia. But it wasn’t until early last year (Winter-Spring of 2019) that I started taking my original writing very seriously. I planned out over the three years or so of writing my current project, The Half-Wyvern Trilogy, a grand universe spanning all of human history, from Ancient Egypt to mankind’s trevails among the stars.

Kirsten:  What or who inspired you to write seriously? Judging by all of the projects you mentioned writing, you most certainly don’t just do it as a hobby.

Drake:  I believe the first time I actually started to take my writing seriously was when I picked up a copy of Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engines and read the whole book in two days. Shortly after that, I picked up Wings of Fire and read most of the series in a period of about 6 months. I had written things before then, as I said earlier, but Half-Wyvern is my first original novel. The idea came to me in the midst of a HTTYD fanfic I was doing, and was originally just a generic fantasy thing that turned out to be like a terrible knockoff of LOTR but with HTTYD. I loved the idea of these characters but had no clue how to use them until I started thinking of changing the setting. Instead of having it be a stock fantasy world, why not have it be set in our world, long into the future after a great nuclear war? That was when I hit upon something I knew was going to be big—a post-apocalyptic fantasy story with elements of LOTR, HTTYD, Star Wars, Mortal Engines, Wings of Fire, Ranger’s Apprentice/Brotherband Chronicles, and Kazu Kibuishi’s Amulet graphic novel series.

Kirsten:  In your own words, what is your latest book, The Half-Wyvern, about?

DrakeThe Half-Wyvern is the start of a trilogy set in a post-apocalyptic United States roughly 150 years from now. Humanity could not have risen to its position as of the story without the help of the dragons, who had been exiled deep underground over a thousand years ago, during the Middle Ages. After the nuclear war, the dragons discovered they were free to return to the surface world. When there, the two species helped each other out and slowly began to rebuild society. By the year 2160, humanity has begun to build itself back up again, with technology levels approaching the Wild West era.

Kirsten:  What inspired this book idea?

Drake:  Oooh, good question. I’ve read a lot of fantasy/sci-fi books over the years and have seen many more movies and TV shows. Some of the more broad inspirations I have are Star Wars, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the videogames Portal and Portal 2, LEGO (specifically Power Miners, a LEGO theme from when I was about 9 years old that got me obsessed with LEGO), Jupiter Ascending, Ranger’s Apprentice, Wings of Fire and Mortal Engines. However, there are more specific inspirations for The Half-Wyvern Trilogy, specifically the latter two in the list above. Wings of Fire and How To Train Your Dragon were the chief inspirations for the sentient dragons in Half-Wyvern and their civilization; Mortal Engines, as well as a movie called War of the Worlds: Goliath, inspired the overall aesthetic of the world and a lot of the machinery. But more interestingly, a lot of these books actually are referenced in Half-Wyvern on a certain character’s bookshelf. The Rebellion in the story, called the Legion of Free Americans, or more simply the Dragonkeepers, are organizing a fight against the villainous King of Andethron (AKA the Eastern Seaboard), so that is obviously inspired by Star Wars. And the magic system and the existence of fantasy creatures like Dragons, Wizards, etc., is a concept from The Lord of the Rings. But most of the inspiration was my own ideas.

For example, some of the warfare concepts include an image I had in my head for a while of dragons with machine guns mounted on their armored helmets engaging in aerial dogfights with enemy aircraft and airships. Another was the idea of a Wizard enchanting a gun to never run out of ammunition in a firefight, and yet another was the idea of sentient dragons with their own culture, language and society. Some of the story elements, such as the complacent hero twist on the Hero’s Journey format, came from my own experiences in life. And still others, such as the idea to set a high fantasy story in the future in a ruined America, came from my desire to put a spin on fantasy that hasn’t been done all that often. I can count one hand the Post-Apocalyptic Fantasy stories that have been successful, among them Jeanne DuPrau’s The City of Ember quartet, Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, and Terry Pratchet and Neil Gaiman’s satire Good Omens. All of them are well-known and good books, but no one’s really tried a High Fantasy twist on post-apoc. Most of it is Mad Max, and that franchise is little more than a stereotype these days for post-apocalyptic fiction. I wanted to do something different with both the setting and the narrative to further distinguish myself from all the other J-level fantasy authors.

Another big inspiration was the music of Pink Floyd—who I would argue are the greatest band of the last century—and the overall vibe of old school music. There’s just something timeless about a select few artists from the 1960s to the 1990s that really makes me feel like I’m right there with my characters in the story. But Pink Floyd is the greatest of them all—their albums The Wall, The Dark Side of the Moon and The Division Bell have given me more life to my inner thoughts about the stories themselves than anything I’ve ever heard before.

Kirsten:  Who inspires you to write better?

Drake:  A lot of people inspire me to write better, but often certain things in my life inspire me too. I look back at how far I’ve come with my writing to see what I can do to improve and what I can do differently. My father inspires me to write the best stories I can, and my mother does much the same—I think of what my friends and family would like to read and then I write it and in the process make it better than they could have ever imagined. And of course, through God’s world, His Word and His gifts, I strive to tell the best possible story I can.

Kirsten:  What is your goal in writing The Half-Wyvern?

Drake:  My goal with The Half-Wyvern is to, I pray, start a business for myself. I have enough material in my head for an entire mythos surrounding this trilogy, taking place both before and after. It spans genres, spans millennia, spans a galaxy, all connected by various threads and things introduced in this trilogy. This is a mere stepping stone to a larger world. My goal is to have this entire trilogy published by the end of the decade, along with various other multimedia projects well underway. I want to be able to create something that will be shared among my generation and beyond for potentially the rest of my life. I want to create something that will last in pop culture, like LOTR, Star Wars or Harry Potter. I want to bring glory to God with my efforts, and I want to bring to life a whole new world for kids and adults to enjoy in a way they never expected. I want to teach kids valuable lessons that they’re likely not going to get in our rather self-centered and toxic society—they need to learn what it means to be human. And that, I believe, is the best possible goal I could ever be a part of.

This book promises to be exciting and filled with action and adventure.  According to the author, if all goes well, the book will be out over Memorial Day Weekend 2020, available as an eBook and in paperback.

If you have any questions, feel free to drop a comment down below.

Signing off for now!

 

A Threefold Chord is Not Quickly Broken {A Guest Post by Kirsten J. Foster}

“Two are better than one.” This comes from a verse in the book of Ecclesiastes, which says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor.”  (Ecclesiastes 4:9 NIV)

People can do many things better alone – like certain chores and tasks – but teamwork is a better option sometimes.  Have you ever seen a sailor sail a large ship alone? Does a warlord go to conquer a city by himself? How about an organization or ministry director?  Do they do everything alone? Of course not! One person alone would never take a city by himself, a single sailor could never handle such a large ship at sea, and the director would be overwhelmed if he/she tried to handle matters alone.  These things require a team effort.

Imagine you’re hiking through the woods alone, just enjoying yourself and the nature around you.  However, you slip down a steep bank and hurt yourself. First, it is a bad idea to hike by yourself (Ecclesiastes 4:10), and second, you have no one there to assist you or get help!

However, when two or three of your friends join you for this hike, there are many great benefits:

a)     You are safer together

b)     You are less likely to meander off and get lost

c)      If one of you stumbles, the others are there to keep you steady

d)     If you come across danger, you have a better chance at fending it off than if you were alone (Ecclesiastes 4:12)

Now you have heard me talk about some of the benefits of the power of companionship, but you are probably thinking, “What does this look like in real life?”  I thought I would take some artistic liberties and give some examples of companionship that I have seen and read in movies and books.  Please note that these ideas are my own and might be different from your views.    

Bonanza’s Cartwright Family 

Stories of love, loyalty, friendship, courage, and family play a major role in this western TV show that aired in the 60’s and 70’s.  In multiple episodes, half-brothers Adam, Hoss, and Little Joe demonstrate sibling troubles, but they also show how teamwork can accomplish more than going alone.

When Little Joe needed help rebuilding a large logging flume that a group of men damaged, his family came alongside and helped him out – and they even completed the project in record time!  If Little Joe chose to work on the project alone, would he ever be able to accomplish that much?  (Fourth season, The Quest)

When Adam did not meet Little Joe at Signal Rock, what did the youngest Cartwright do?  He sent word to his family about the problem at hand, and the three of them set out to find their lot kin.  Together, they could cover more ground and have a better chance at finding Adam rather than if Little Joe searched the desert alone.  (Third season, The Crucible)

When Little Joe did not know how to handle a situation concerning a deaf girl, did he choose to fight his conscience alone?  Instead, he told his problem to Ben, who gave him careful advice on what Little Joe could do. It can be a large burden on a man to deal with stressful problems alone, but when he has a partner to share some of that burden, things usually move along much smoother.  (Second season, Silent Thunder)

Most of the time, when a fist brawl erupts and one of the brothers is in the middle of it, the other two step in.  Most of the time, it is only because the chaos is getting out of hand, but sometimes, the two will do it out of pure protection for their kin.  Three men can overtake a group better than one alone.

The Cartwright family shows us the wholesome values of family and collaboration, which we can apply to our lives.  We may not be wandering deserts in search of lost family, but we can most certainly use the example of teamwork to cover more ground as we do assorted yard work.  Building a flume to get timber down to sawmills may not be our issue, but it is handy to have some extra help when fixing a house or outbuilding. Whatever the case, this family of hard working ranchers show us that collaboration can achieve more than if we’re alone.

J. R. R. Tolkien’s Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee

 

Middle-Earth and the fate of all living things depends on a single Hobbit to stop the growing evil in the east that threatens to take over the world.  Throughout all three books, Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee go through many challenges and trials that a Hobbit could never imagine! However, through all of it, they remain friends.

Let us take a look at Sam for a moment.  He had the choice to remain in The Shire and continue living a simple life, yet he still decided to venture into the unknown with Frodo.  When things got really hard, and he had the chance to desert Frodo, he chose to keep his promise to Gandalf and remained with his friend.  Because of Sam’s choice, he was able to help protect Frodo from greedy Gollum (The Two Towers) and prevent his friend from slipping the Ring of Power on a few times.

If Frodo were to embark on such a quest alone, who knows what trouble he would run into!  Or what about those times when the ring seemingly called to Frodo, and Sam had to tackle his friend once to prevent him from making a horrible decision? (The Two Towers 2002 movie addition) 

Everything I have said here goes back to that verse in Ecclesiastes: “Two are better than one.”  Because Sam went with Frodo, he was able to help his friend prevail in many challenges and keep him accountable with the ring.  Together, the two of them demonstrate deep loyalty and outstanding partnership. 

Kirsten Foster’s Concord Mason and Daniel Roberts

When you live in the wild land of Montana Territory, I would highly recommend buddying up with someone!  Well, these two young men do just that. One being trained to live off the land and fight and the other having the knowledge of books and business, Daniel and Concord both embark on an adventure that neither of them can imagine as they both seek to discover their calling in life.

In this example, the two young men have different skills that can help the other.  If Daniel is facing a mountain lion, then Concord can protect his friend with the help of a rifle. 

On the other hand, let us say someone plans to swindle Concord in a business deal.  In that case, Daniel knows how to sniff these things out and is able to prevent his friend from falling into a troublesome trap.

The two men have very different skills, and they can each use them to help the other.  Together, the two of them stand a better chance in the rough country and lawless towns than if either went alone. 

In addition, they can help encourage and build each other up (1 Thessalonians 5:11).  Concord deals with insecurity in life, and Daniel helps him through his insecurities by sharing encouragement and sticking by his friend’s side.

Daniel, on the other hand, has only ever dealt with an occasional stage hold up and lived in town his entire life, so living in the wilderness with the constant threat of robbers is a fearful experience for him.  However, good ol’ Concord is there to reassure and protect his friend. 

These are all good examples of what collaboration and friendship look like in our world.  However, there is a final example I would like to share. 

As a Christian, each of the three strands mentioned in Ecclesiastes 4:12 is a part of my life.  Christ is one of those three strands. He is the strongest strand in that threefold cord, so that when the two weaker ones break, He still holds us together.  Though my life may be a wreck and my family a mess, I still have Christ as my stronghold.

In Nahum 1:7, it says, “The Lord is good, a refuge and stronghold in times of trouble.”  Our friends may have walked away from us, and we may feel alone in our sufferings, but the Lord will never leave you.  It may feel like the world is crashing down around us, and we are slipping away with it, but God is holding onto you. He is that strand in the threefold cord that will never break, no matter what.  

The Conclusion 

For Christmas last year, I braided western-looking braids out of hemp cording.  Sure, one strand alone is easy to cut with a pair of scissors, but try cutting the braided cord.  It’s a lot harder, isn’t it? It is the same with companionship and collaboration. When two or three people are battling a dangerous animal, it is most likely that the animal will lose because it is outnumbered (Ecclesiastes 4:12).  Safety in numbers.

On the other hand, think about those times where you feel hurt and lost inside.  Those times where you don’t know what to do. You do not have to hide your feelings from everyone.  It can actually be dangerous sometimes to keep painful feelings bottled inside.

We should not feel like we have to cope with these things alone.  It’s good to have a shoulder to lean and cry on at times, and it feels good to know that there is someone out there who you can talk to and share your burdens with.  It feels good to know we have someone we can depend on to help us. 

Think back to what I said about Little Joe and Ben.  Little Joe could have chosen to try to solve his problems alone concerning the deaf girl, but he admitted his weakness and turned to his father for help.  With a few comforting words and wise advice from Ben, Little Joe found the encouragement and ideas he needed to solve his problem.

The power of love and friendship.

Finally, remember that God is one of those three strands in life.  He’s the strongest one that holds the other two together, even when they break.  He is the one in control and will always be by your side, no matter what.

I challenge you today to remember the amazing power in collaboration.  Sure, there are many things that you can do best alone, but there are just some things that work best when you do it with others.  Besides – it can be a lot of fun to do stuff when you’re not alone!  

And that fantastic article was written my very good friend, Kirsten Foster. I’d like to once again thank her for her contributions to my blog, and I hope you were encouraged and blessed as you read what she had to say. 🙂

The Mystery Blogger Award

Hello everyone!

I’ll try not to make it a habit to post tags too often, but I thought I’d just do this one, just so you all can find out a bit more about me since this blog is still fresh.

Thank you to the lovely Abi Lyn for tagging me for this award! ❤

First up, the rules!
1. Put the award logo/image on your blog.
2. Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
3. Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well. (This award was created by Okoto Enigmas.)
4. Answer the 5 questions you were asked.
5. Tell your readers 3 things about yourself.
6. You have to nominate 10-20 people.
7. Notify your nominees by commenting on their blogs.
8. Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question.
9. Share a link to your best post(s).

I thought I’d splatter the post with a bunch of corny gifs to spice it up a little. Alrighty, let’s get started then!

Le Questions

1. What is your favorite meal for dinner?

Oh, anything with potatoes in it. Or soup, because weirdly enough, I’m a soup addict. Or rice paper rolls. *licks lips*

Oh look, it’s Michelle!
2. What’s your favorite kind of fruit juice?

I don’t drink juice a lot, but if I had to choose, mango or orange juice is nice.

This is a very dizzying gif…
3. What is your favorite type of music?

I love all kinds of music! It depends what mood I am in. I’m usually listening to contemporary music or songs from musicals, but I love a Capella as well. I’ve currently been obsessed with the Wicked soundtrack and Rachel Platten songs.

4. What is your favorite room in the house and why?

My bedroom, because it’s comfortable and quiet, and I can sing really loud, and because our house doesn’t have a lot of rooms other than other people’s bedrooms. But I also love it in the family room when everyone is there, because it’s cozy and I love spending time with family.

5. If you could become fluent in one language in an instant, what language would it be?

I think I’d pick Tagalog (Filipino), because it’s natural to want to know your own language. If I had a second choice, I would pick French.

3 RANDOM FACTS ABOUT ME

  1. I’m a Hufflepuff. 36% Hufflepuff, 23% Gryffindor, 21% Ravenclaw, and 20% Slytherin.
I thought this was Ricky Gervais for a second

2. I was homeschooled all the way up to grade 10.

3. I’m secretly Hermione Granger even though I’m not really like her, and I only wrote this because I couldn’t think of another fact about me.

I nominate: (apologies if you don’t do tags)

Noah @ Life In Kyoto

Rhi @ Marshmallow Harmonies

Sarah @ Paraphernalia

Jo @ Pananaw

Kenechi Duatron @ Randomgirlsramblings

Trudy @ True Story

I also nominate all the other Hufflepuffs out there, and anyone else who would like to do this award/tag!

My questions for you

  1. What is the strangest story and/or blog post you have ever written?
  2. What is your current favourite book and why?
  3. Are you an extrovert, an ambivert, or an introvert?
  4. Would you rather have one wish granted right now, or three wishes granted five years from now?
  5. What qualities do you look for in a friend?

And last but not least, my favorite post to write was 9 Things Les Miserables Tells Us About Life.

I had a lot of fun with this post, so thank you once again, Abi, for nominating me!

| Do you like doing tags? | Which Hogwarts house do you belong to? | Do you like potatoes and soup? | Will you do this tag? |

P.S The backround featured image is from Canva.com

4 Steps to Making Great Goals for 2020

Hello everyone!

During this time of year we’re getting ready to go back to school (well some of us), we’re making new goals and reaching for new stars.

Last week, I took a goal-setting class on The Young Writer’s Workshop. Because of how much it helped me, I wanted to share with you the four steps I learned to setting good goals– condensed into one post. For this class, we were setting goals for our writing journey, fiction of non-fiction. However, you can set goals for anything you would like.

The first step to making great goals is to reflect on the past year.

This is a time to focus on gratitude, milestones (big or small), achievements and anything else you would like to include. Do this in bullet points, or you can even freewrite a messy paragraph if that’s what works for you. If you can’t remember what happened, ask your family members or refer to your journal if you have one. When you’re writing this, some things to remember are:

  • Milestones/achievements
  • Obstacles that didn’t defeat you
  • Paradigm shifts you experienced (a fundamental change in approach or underlying assumptions– a change in mind, basically)
  • Important decisions you made
  • Key books or resources you completed

After you’ve done this, figure out what worked and what didn’t, so you can block out the unhelpful things, and continue doing the things that benefited you.

Now it’s time to reflect on where you want to be in the future.

This should be a free, one paragraph (or more, I can’t expect writers to keep it to one) reflection on what you want 2020 to look like for you. Write down everything that comes to mind, and don’t be afraid to go wild on this, this is for you, no one else.

Write this in present tense. So instead of, ‘I will wake up early every morning to read my Bible’, it should be ‘I wake up early every morning to read my Bible’. This helps to get you into this positive mindset; it’s as if you are already doing it, and we can envision ourselves already reaching our goals.

Have fun with this step!

The next step is to reflect on your current reality and where you are now in life.

I get that this may be a little discouraging, but this will be very helpful to plan your next steps. I find it helped me to face what I was feeling and allow me to do something about it, or even just realise it. If you’re not comfortable doing this, don’t feel you have to.

This is a time to get brutally honest about your current situation. Where are you now? Maybe you’re dealing with some tough things, or you’re stressed out. Whatever it is, take the time to write it down. After you’ve done this, take some time to write a short reflection on what you learned from this exercise. Maybe you’ve discovered something you’ve been hiding from, or didn’t want to realise.

Refer back to your desired destination in step 2 and use them to help you write down 2-4 big goals for the year.

Ah, here we are. We’ve come to the setting-goals step. The first step, is to make sure these goals are your own and based on your views, values, and ideas; not anyone else’s.

It’s really important to keep your goals minimal, as it can be overwhelming to have a lot of goals. After you have written down your big goals for the year, now is the time to plan out the next achievable and simple step to get you closer to your goal. Make sure your goals are S.M.A.R.T. Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based.

A bad example of a goal would be:

Goal: I’ll get better at blogging.

What exactly does ‘better’ mean for you? What does it look like to ‘get better’? Be specific. It’s not time measurable. Is there a deadline? This might seem obvious to you, but having the deadline right next to your goal — even if it’s just December 31st 2020 — is helpful.

A bad example of a next step would be:

Consistency equals getting better, so I’ll start being consistent on my blog.

Although it is great to be consistent, what does consistency look like for you based on what your schedule is already like? How does one ‘start’ being consistent?

For example, one of my goals is:

Goal 3: Consistently write 1 blog post per week until the end of the year.

Next step: Sit down and write down blog post ideas and based on past postings, find the day that works best for me to post. (My next step could be: make a detailed plan with deadlines as well as plan days to batch create.)

The goal is time measurable, and something that I can achieve if I work at it. The next step will get me one step closer to my goal, and is specific. When you’re setting your next steps, be sure to set ones that you can easily complete so that you can write down your next step after that. Or, ones that will set a chain reaction of consistency and habit are great. But for now, focus on one easy-to-complete next step.

If your goal was ‘Get better at blogging’, you could change it to: Complete and study (book title) on blogging by (date). Your next step could be something like: Go to the library to check for the book, and gather a few friends to study the book with me.

Once you have your goals, well done! If you did this, share your goals down below if you’re comfortable. I would love to read them and cheer you on! All of our goals will look different for each of us. Some of our next steps may include making detailed plans, but some of you might not like rigid plans and are more flexible. Do what works for you, just make sure they follow the S.M.A.R.T plan. 🙂

To review the steps:

1. Reflect on the past year.

2. Reflect on where you want to be in the future.

3. Reflect on where you are now.

4. Make your goals using the S.M.A.R.T plan.

All that said, the process of setting goals should not be stressful or overwhelming; it should be fun and motivating. If it’s starting to overwhelm you, maybe it’s time to take a step back and be kind to yourself. 🙂

I promise this is not a tactic to get you to comment; I genuinely love reading your comments, and I love responding to each and every one of them.

What are your goals and next steps in 2020?

Did you find this post helpful? Will you do these steps?

Anything else you want to comment? Leave it down below! This is a judgement free zone, and your mind is welcome. 😉

 P.S The backround featured image is from Canva.com

In Which I Fangirl Over Beck And August And Joey And Perfect Notes

You’re worth more than a thousand perfect notes.

Yes my darling Beck, yes you are.

OH. MY. WORD. How perfect is this book? I can’t describe all my fuzzy feelings for this awesome book. I read this in a couple hours and I loved every minute of it.

Zielle, you may ask, what’s with the title? Who in the potato is Beck and Joey and August and Perfect Notes? This is a book review by the way. As soon as I finished the book and I scribbled down a messy, jumbled, fan-girly review and posted it on Goodreads. My mum read it and told me not to change it up because it seems natural. Lucky for you, I edited a little bit, just so it’s at least seemingly coherent.

An emotionally charged story of music, abuse and, ultimately, hope.

Beck hates his life. He hates his violent mother. He hates his home. Most of all, he hates the piano that his mother forces him to play hour after hour, day after day. He will never play as she did before illness ended her career and left her bitter and broken. But Beck is too scared to stand up to his mother, and tell her his true passion, which is composing his own music – because the least suggestion of rebellion on his part ends in violence.

When Beck meets August, a girl full of life, energy and laughter, love begins to awaken within him and he glimpses a way to escape his painful existence. But dare he reach for it?

|The Style/Writing |

The way C.G Drews presents the story is so real and deep, it reels in the reader and makes it so relatable. I was hooked with every page and devoured the book in a couple hours.

Drews did a fantastic job of weaving in amazing and deep quotes throughout the book; they were so full of wisdom and thoughtfulness; prepare your highlighters, readers!

And let me just say, the style. WOW. The style is so beautiful and it connected with me and penetrated my very soul because it was thoughtful and broken and hurt and confused and amazing and talented, and at this point I’m just talking about Beck Keverick.

|The Charries |

I think cinnamon roll or vegan cake sorry I just had too is the only way to describe Beck. He is the kindest, most caring person ever. He was a character I could really connect with because of the way he was portrayed. His thoughts scattered throughout the book made the reading experience everything. He cares so much for August, although he tries not to show it, and it is so obvious how much he cares for Joey. He is the most gorgeous human bean.

Can I just say how much I love Joey? It breaks my heart to see how broken she is, and how her world slowly changes when she witnesses things a five year old shouldn’t witness.

And August is the sweetest human. I loved her banter, her dialogue, and her personality. And also her parents. How can I not mention her parents?

I think my heart nearly stopped when I read that part about Jan and then realised that he was still a good guy who was on Beck’s side because Beck deserves it. I also just realised that sentence will only make sense to people who have actually read the book. Jan is an amazing addition to the book.

The author crafted these characters so well, although (I know the story is not about Beck’s mother) I wanted to see a bit more layers to his mum. That’s not gonna stop me from giving this book the five stars it deserves, though.

Can you tell I LOVED this book?? Because I do. And did I mention that I love it? There are so many beautiful lines in this book. It’s all so deep and meaningful and everything ties in perfectly together and I didn’t want to put it down.

|Content |

There is a bit of swearing and insults in German and one s**t, and physical and verbal child abuse of my favourite people.

| Overall |

Overall, I totally recommend that you read this book. It’s not a very heavy read and you can finish it fairly quick, but it has some deep messages in it. To me, every sentence in the book had it’s place and purpose. It was all meaningful.

| Will you read A Thousand Perfect Notes? | Have you read this book before? | Who is your favourite character from one of your favourite books? |

Say Hello 2020 | Just some thoughts

Hello future!

2019 has come to a close, and if it had just come to a close, and it was January 1st instead of 12AM on January 4th, this would make more sense. But play along and pretend it’s January 1st.

It’s New Years Eve, (well it was, at the time I started writing this) there will be food, fireworks, noise, family and friends. It’s a small end of year for us this year, no going to visit relatives, and the whole family isn’t here. But that’s okay.

I’ve thought a little bit about 2020. There are a lot of things to add to the list of things that I could do better. A lot of things are changing. I’m moving schools. That is, I’m moving from homeschool to a big VCE public school. That’s crazy! I’ve been thinking about it, and it scares me. It excites me and I’m grateful for this opportunity, but it’s also scary to think about it. It’s a massive school with new people, it’s a different environment, and it’s the last two years of my schooling. I have that nagging thought in the back of my mind that tells me I’ll never be good enough.

This is the time of year where we usually set expectations for ourselves. It’s so great to make goals for ourselves, but this can be a time where we can compare ourselves to others. We plan vigorously for the next year, and we lift the standards for ourselves so high so that we can be better, that we feel discouraged because we can never reach them. We make goals to be like that popular girl who always looks perfect, or that guy who is good at literally everything. Been there, done that.

Maybe the reason we never reach our goals is because we set them too high. Maybe the reason we don’t change is not the fact that we actually don’t change, but we don’t notice the change. We’re too busy shooting for the highest star, that we don’t notice the star we’ve already caught. I’m not saying to shoot high, go for it! But if it’s for the wrong reason, it’s not healthy for us.

In the youth theatre that I am part of, the director always says that she’s not looking for who is the best singer, or the best actress or the best overall performer. She is looking at us as individuals, and if we are making magic to the best of our ability. Not to the ability of the best singer in the room. To the best of our ability. She looks at whether or not we’re doing our best; pouring our heart and soul into what we’re doing. She wants us to reach for OUR star and no one else’s.

I’m still learning to set goals for myself and no one else. I’m learning to set the goals that I want to set, not the goals that I think other people want me to set. I want to be the best I can be. And it’s still a learning process for me. But I’m learning to reflect on myself and what my goals as an individual are.

And I’ll get there someday. And so will you.

P.S the backround featured image is from Canva.com

Nine Things Les Miserables Tells Us About Life

Now before we get started,

I know it’s late, but better late than never, yes? I pray that you all had a wonderful time celebrating Jesus and family. 🙂

Over the past year, I had the privilege of performing in the ensemble of Les Miserables with our Youth Theatre. I can safely say that it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. Over the eight shows, we received standing ovations and roaring applause, and tears and laughter. As well as gaining and strengthening some great friendships, I got to see firsthand the ‘behind the scenes’ of it all.

Some musicals are for entertainment purposes only, and while Les Miserables is certainly entertaining, there are powerful themes of love, hope, forgiveness, and redemption.

I have yet to watch Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg’s Broadway or London West End performance of this musical, but if you have seen any version of it, I can only guess that it touched you. To my great delight, I recently received my DVD of our performance, and I straight away put it onto my laptop and prepared myself for a good laugh and cry.

The scene in which the Bishop shows Valjean mercy and compassion is always a very touching scene for me, embodying the very essence of the production; love. And of course, the young, barricade boys fighting and dying for their freedom always manages to bring the waterworks. Ultimately, the entire musical means a great deal to me, and it will always have a special place in my heart. 

So without further ado, here are nine things that Les Miserables tells us about life.

1. Our pasts do not define us.

We all make mistakes. We’re all human. Sometimes our mistakes come back to haunt us, and it’s easy to live in the falsehood that our past defines who we are.

Jean Valjean is the perfect example of this. From the beginning of the story, Valjean is looked down upon by others, especially by Inspector Javert. Valjean is part of the chain gang because he stole a loaf of bread for his sister’s starving child. Because of this, even when he is given a ticket of leave, his papers and his brand always remind both him and society of who he is.

We see a remarkable change in Valjean. Despite his past he is running from, he leads a loving and compassionate life, putting others before himself and lovingly raising his adopted daughter. He embraces who he truly is in God and in himself when he tells Cosette the truth about his past. He is no longer 24601. He is Jean Valjean! 

Because of God’s grace and salvation, we can live with the hope of a better future. What is important is how we live our now in preparation for the great future God has in store for us.

Jean Valjean. And no I don’t have a picture of Hugh Jackman lying around. Aka this is not my photo

2. You can always look to God.

Have you ever felt sad? Happy? I have. So many times in life we can be angry, lonely, depressed, confused, or excited. But I have the encouragement and the promise from God that He will never leave me or forsake me. And that promise is for you as well. 

When Jean Valjean is shown kindness by the Bishop and Valjean gives his life to God, he makes a conscious effort to look to God in all of his circumstances. God has become a big part of his life, especially when he sings ‘Who Am I’ and includes God in his tough decision. Even when he is singing for Marius’ safety in “Bring Him Home,”  his song is a song of prayer to God. In this touching song, he sings:

God on high,

Hear my prayer.

In my need,

You have always been there.

You can take,

You can give,

Let him be,

Let him live.

   

Les Miserables shows us that through it all, we can look to God in the sad and in the happy times.

3. Freedom is worth fighting for.

It’s easy to feel as if hope is lost. That our freedom is out of reach and we can’t do anything about it. And then from there, it’s easy to sit back and ‘wait for it all to blow over’, as Uncle Max from Sound of Music says in submission when the Nazis are taking over Austria.

But the truth is, our freedom is worth fighting for. Our voices are worth being heard, and the truth is worth being told.

The barricade boys including Marius and Enjolras, depict this perfectly. These ‘school boys’ who ‘never held a gun’ fight for their country; their freedom. Although young, inexperienced, and looked down upon by society, they fought, giving their people a hope for a better tomorrow. 

Enjolras and the barricade boys.

4. Love and compassion is the greatest gift.

A huge theme stressed in Les Miserables is love. Victor Hugo, the author of the book, asserts that love and compassion are the greatest gifts one can give another. He says that always showing these qualities should be the most important goal in life, and that love and compassion is infectious, passed on from one person to another.

Through simple acts of kindness, a person’s life can be changed forever. Through one act of kindness shown to Valjean, he passes on the kindness to Fantine. He looks past the situation and sees her dire need of someone to show her love. In doing so, he is able to rescue and adopt Fantine’s young daughter. The trio: Valjean, Fantine, and Eponine sing these words in the Epilogue, “To love another person is to see the face of God.”

So what kind thing are you going to do this week? Whether it be smiling at someone, or volunteering at a homeless shelter, our kindness matters. Every smile and act of kindness counts.

5. Even the worst people are worth forgiving.

Oh, how easy it is to hate our enemies and love those who do good to us even though we are supposed to love our enemies. It’s a hard thing to do. But even if we don’t think someone is worth forgiving, ultimately, that decision is God’s, and He says that we are forgiven. How great is that?

Javert has been relentlessly hunting down our hero for eight years. Others may have seen Javert’s cruel acts to Valjean and to the lower class in society (he saw them as the righteous thing to do) as unforgivable, therefore he was not worthy of compassion or mercy as he showed none to others. However, Valjean turns all our expectations around when he shows compassion to Javert.

6. We sometimes make our own images of God.

It can be easy to create our own ideal image of God to fit our comfort zones.

We see this in Javert. He is so deluded by his own belief of God, believing it is his duty to bring Valjean to justice. By twisting up what God’s will for him is, he makes his own version of God that gives him ‘power’. God is just, most certainly, but Javert overlooks the other qualities of God; His kindness, His forgiveness, mercy and grace, and His eternal love for us. By doing so, Javert is able to justify his actions. 

It’s easy to fall into this pit, believe me, I know. Sometimes we don’t even notice we are doing it. This is why walking close with God and learning from Him is vital for us to see who He really is. 

So how can we be sure of who God is? The Bible is full of verses describing God’s greatness. 

Exodus 34:6 says,

“The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth,”

Among others, he is our redeemer, our rock and our strength, he is everlasting love, he is mercy and grace, he is Prince of Peace!

7. Misuse of power can lead to suffering.

Sometimes when we’re in a position of power, whether it be small or large, we can misuse that power just as Inspector Javert does.

Javert has so much faith in his flawed morality that it leads him astray. In his big song ‘Stars’, he sings these words:

He knows his way in the dark,

Mine is the way of the Lord.

And those who follow the path of the righteous

Shall have their reward.

And if they fall as Lucifer fell?

The flames, the sword!

And so it must be, for so it is written

On the doorway to paradise!

That those who falter and those who fall

Shall pay the price.

In other words, Javert believes it is his duty to thrust his understanding of righteousness on Valjean. He believes that if he fails to do so, he himself will pay the price. He lets his moral beliefs overpower his love for others, creating a twisted view of what justice and righteousness is.

Whether you are in a position of leadership at school, at church, or even at home, approach this God-given ‘authority’ with love and mercy. Because ultimately, God is the one with the power. 

Javert and his hat.

8. When we give ourselves to others, we begin to recognize our own worth.

In Valjean’s soliloquy, he says this: “For I had come to hate the world, this world that always hated me.”

But when this one Bishop shows him kindness by giving him a place to rest and eat, Valjean sees God’s mercy and turns his life around. As mentioned above, kindness is infectious. This rings true with Valjean when he commits acts of kindness without asking anything in return after he is showed compassion.

In ‘Who Am I’, when he faces the dilemma of freedom or a life of guilt knowing he condemned a man to slavery, he says: “My soul belongs to God, I know, I made that bargain long ago. He gave me hope when hope was gone. He gave me strength to journey on…” And from then he makes the decision to tell Javert who he really is.

At the end of the prologue, Valjean sings these words: ‘Jean Valjean is nothing now, another story must begin!’ But when he changes his life for the better, he can now accept who he is. He knows who he is. He is no longer defined by his past. He’s Jean Valjean!

9. What Kind Of Person Am I Going To Be? 

One question is lifted up above all the others in Les Mis: What kind of person am I going to be?

Ask yourself these questions: Who am I going to be defined by? By God? By myself? By my peers? By society? All nine characters are from different walks of life; who I am most like? What type of person do I strive to be? Who am I now?

Jean Valjean, by the grace of God, turns his life around and does not allow it to be defined by his past. Javert, who lets his delusional idea of justice overpower his love. Fantine, all alone, a scorned and desperate mother doing all she can for her young daughter. Cosette, young and innocent, yearning for answers about hers, and her father’s past. The Thenardiers, conniving and sly, taking everything for themselves and trampling all over others. Eponine, chasing after a love she cannot have. Marius, young, and torn between his love for and duty to his country and his love for Cosette. And Enjolras, the young man who leads the barricade boys into a fight for their country and their freedom.

Ultimately, we are being asked what kind of person we are or what kind of person we are going to be. Are we going to try and get everything we want? Are we going to put ourselves above other people and give ourselves power and authority, letting convictions cloud our love for others? Or are we going to live with compassion and kindness like Valjean?

Only we can make that choice. Sure, the seed can be planted, but we choose if we’re going to water it or not. Through God’s saving power, we can be better. 

Only we can decide to leave our past behind and live in the present to build towards the future. Only we choose our own path. 

So which will it be?

What If God Hasn’t Called Me To Write?

Isn’t it great to be called by God?

Um, yes. That would be AMAZING, to hear God’s voice instructing me to do something. I for one would be so proud to be doing God’s work.

But… what if I like doing something, and I really want to keep doing it, but I haven’t been told by God to do it?

What if it isn’t really God’s plan for my life?

Hasn’t God mapped out my whole life, didn’t he know me before I was born?

In this case, I love writing. I love taking letters and crafting words, and then taking those words and crafting whole stories that occasionally make sense. And with those words, I am able to impact someone for better, or for worse.

So, I wait. I wait for God’s gentle nudge, His gentle whisper in my ear telling me that yes, His plan for me is to write.

So why haven’t I heard Him?

Sometimes it’s just really hard to know what I’m meant to be doing with my life. Is writing just MY passion, or is it GOD’S passion too? Is it wrong to do it if God hasn’t asked me to?

You might be feeling this way as well. It’s super easy to feel this way, especially when we lose our inspiration.

GOOD NEWS. A quote from the awesome Brett Harris shared with me by a friend:

“Don’t give up. You didn’t create your love for writing… God did. He placed this passion inside you. And He doesn’t make mistakes.”

Let me just expand a little. If you have a passion and a talent for writing, use it. That burning passion in your heart to craft stories, and that amazing gift you have to tell them; it’s in your heart for a reason. All God wants for His children is this: that in whatever we do, we do it for His glory.

It doesn’t matter if we love drawing, music, dancing, acting, playing sports, or writing, like Brett said, God’s plans never fail. We can be sure of that because of all the times God has made promises and kept them time and time again.

He knew us before we were born, He knows us. And that’s what is so amazing!! He knows our passions and what we love, and He uses those passions for great things. He’ll use us wherever we are, in whatever we do. All we have to do is surrender to Him. He’s given us these talents to USE for His glory. Isn’t that a calling in itself?

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, – Colossians 3:23

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. – 1 Corinthians 10:31

PS. The backround featured image is from Canva.com

I Assume… {Collab With Esther | WTD Blog Tour}

Hi my smol potatoes!

Today I have a special collab for you, to celebrate the launch of Write In The Dark! Now, I know this is late, but we had some….. shall we say….. difficulties. XD

Due to my poor decision making skills, Esther came up with this collab idea, where we come up with assumptions for each other.

Without further ado, here is the collab.

Hi, my name is Esther Jackson. My dad is old, but my mom grew up in the earliest age. Tolkien’s rhymes and riddles are an inspiration. I’m pretty sure I have Aspergers, but I don’t know for sure. Second youngest, youngest girl, as many brothers as sisters. I enjoy a good cabbage shoe and any other language joke. Primarily homeschooled, but I have spent some time in small Christian schools. I make a point of trying to foolow God’s commands as much as I can. The best part of life is knowing that I don’t have to worry about dying for when Jesus wants me he will call, (until then, am I immortal?)

Favorite well known fiction book

Lord of The Rings, or anything by Tolkien.

Favorite well known non fiction (Bible excluded)

Ooh this is a hard one. I’m going to guess Anne Frank!

Favorite modern piece of music

I feel like I know this, I just can’t think of the title! I’m going to say Hillsong Glorious Day.

Favorite classical piece of music

Wild guess: Piano Sonate op. 13 “Pathetique” 2nd mov. (yes I looked up the name in my piano book)

Dream future

To serve God and then have a big family while homeschooling all the way through. And also publish books.

Dream vacation

Somewhere with family on the beach or in the woods for up to a week or more.

Dream book to write

A fantasy novel, or a historical fiction.

Favorite religious holiday

Easter.

Favorite non-religious holiday

I don’t know many holidays…. New Years Day?

Favorite Bible verse

Jeremiah 33:3 “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” (I couldn’t think of another verse)

Those are my Esther assumptions.

What did you think? Did you have any assumptions of your own?

I’d be surprised if I got any correct.

Since we were squeezed for time, I wasn’t able to get Esther’s responses to my assumptions, so I’m asking her to respond in the comment section. 🙂 Don’t forget to check out her blog and her part of the collab!

PS. The backround featured image is from Canva.com

Over Cupcakes And Comfy Couches {WTD Blog Tour}

Hello my smol potatoes! Thanks for stopping by. So why don’t you kick your feet up, grab a mug of tea or coffee to go with these cupcakes? *hands you a cupcake* I had a lovely chat with my friend Madi over cupcakes and comfy couches, so why don’t you come along and join us?

Madi: sits in chair excitedly waiting for Zielle

Zielle: runs /skips into the room Hi!

Madi: stands up and excitedly hugs Zielle YAY, you’re here! How are you?

Zielle: hugs Madi back It’s so good to see you!! I’m so great, how are you?

Madi: It’s so good to see you too! I’m great—I made cupcakes to celebrate your new bloggy! Would you like one?

Zielle: Ooh thank you so much! I would love one. By the way, I love your house!

Madi: Thanks so much! Would you like to sit down? I have these armrest-chairs so comfy you may fall asleep. offers cupcake

Zielle: smiles and sits down Wow, these are comfy. I love the maroon colour. It matches my blog! takes cupcake Thank you!

Madi: sits down Maroon is one of my favorite colors! Ooh, really? I haven’t seen your blog theme yet! Can you show me a picture of the design?

Zielle: Really? That’s so cool! I love the design, it was actually designed by Mukta! shows you a photo | takes a bite of the cupcake This is amazing!

Madi: Oh my goodness, it looks amazing. She did a fantastic job! What does Write in the Dark mean? And thanks — it was my second time making cupcakes myself. laughs

Zielle: She did, didn’t she? grins That’s a great question! Write in the Dark is a play on words for Light in The Dark. And plus, I love writing. laughs Well, you did a really good job! smiles

Madi: Oh, I love that! And I love writing too. grins and thumbs up Will you be posting any of your writing on your blog? And thanks!

Zielle: I sure will post some! Maybe not everything, but there will be some snippets. At least, once I have a set work in progress. laughs and sinks into the chair Ooh this is nice.

Madi: Oh, I can’t wait! I remember reading your writing on your old blog and loved it. Speaking of which, will you delete your old blog or nah? And oh yes, giggles these are super comfy.

Zielle: Aw, thank you! I don’t think I will delete it. I love looking back at my old posts, even if the majority of them are cringey. laughs

Madi: Old posts are the best to look back on! Except maybe the cringey ones. laughs

Zielle: laughs as well They are! Can you recall one of your cringiest old posts? I think the majority of mine were cringey.

Madi: I remember this one post where I wanted to talk about my teeth getting pulled out… on my doll blog. And also post a bunch of random selfies I somehow tied into the post so people could see what I looked like. laughs I remember really liking your posts! What kinds of posts will you post on your new blog?

Zielle: Oh dear! laughs I feel like I remember reading a post about something like that on your doll blog before. laughs again Aw, again, that’s very sweet! I’ve always loved reading your post, I always get some kind of enjoyment and inspiration from them. 😀 On my new blog, I will be posting writing snippets (as mentioned before), life posts which include posts about my faith, writing and teenage life. 🙂

Madi: laughs Aww, thank you so much! And I literally can’t wait for those posts — they sound amazing and I love lifestyle stuff. How will they differ from your old blog, if at all?

Zielle: Thanks again! That’s a good question! They won’t differ much, but I’ll be talking a lot less about homeschool since I’ll be heading off to public school next year.

Madi: Oh, wow! Are you excited or nervous for public school?

Zielle: Both! I’m very excited to be able to have this experience, but also nervous. I’ve met all my teachers and they’re all pretty good which is great! It’s a massive school, though!

Madi: Oh my goodness, that sounds insane! I’m so nervous for you, but I bet you’ll do absolutely amazing. Will you be blogging about that, too?

Zielle: It is!! It’s so exciting, though! Yes, I will be blogging about the transition and my survival. XD

Madi: laughs Oh my gosh, I can’t wait to read about that. I hope you’ll have a great time transitioning — and of course, surviving! What’s the URL so I can visit it?

Zielle: grins I can’t wait to write about it! Thanks, Madi! smiles Oh can’t forget that! The URL is writeinthedark.home.blog.

Madi: I can’t wait for its launch! I’ll be one of your first followers. grins Have you posted on it yet or nah?

Zielle: Aw thanks!! I have made one post welcoming you guys to the blog, but that’s about it! 😀

Madi: Yay!! I can’t wait for all your posts! Thanks so much for coming. hugs Zielle

Zielle: Aw, thanks for inviting me over! I always love chatting with you. returns hug

Madi: Come over anytime — and best of luck with your new blog!!

Zielle: Thank you so much!! stands up

Madi: Want some cupcakes to go? XD

Zielle: grins Yes please!!

Madi: grins and gives her a nice case of cupcakes

Zielle: grins and takes the cupcakes Thank you! opens the front door and exits I hope to see you soon! Thanks, again!

Madi: come over anytime! waves

Well hello again! Wasn’t Madi’s house pretty? I had so much fun catching up with Madi and chatting with her over those amazing cupcakes. I think I need to get the recipe.

Madi helped me out with my blog tour even though she doesn’t do blog tours, to help celebrate the launch of my new blog! She is such a sweet and encouraging person and is also a very talented bloggy friend, so I highly recommend you check out her blog which she just started! You may also know her from Life Undefeated, her author blog, and Delightful World of Dolls.

Mukta {BORN FREE}

Enni {THE BLANKET BURRITO}

about me.png

Esther {WE’VE GOT POCKETS}

Zielle {WRITE IN THE DARK}

about me

Noah {LIFE IN KYOTO}

about me

Jo {PANANAW}

Madi {MADISON GRACE}

Thanks for joining our chat and joining me in the launch of my new bloggy!

PS. The backround featured image of those scrumptious cupcakes is from Canva.com