KP Book Review: Thr3e

Kevin Parson’s lived a pretty good life. He doesn’t have any major flaws, doesn’t have a dark and twisted past, and is currently in seminary studying to be a pastor. Sure, his life isn’t the best it could be. He’s a bit of a recluse and doesn’t quite know how to handle himself around people. But he’s a pretty decent person who’s pretty intelligent; what major faults does he have? None that he can see at least.thr3ereview

That is, not until a man calls him demanding that he confess his secret sin to the world within the next three minutes or watch his car blow up.

And, of course, things only escalate from there. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Josiah DeGraaf
Josiah DeGraaf is a high school English teacher and literature nerd who fell in love with stories when he was young and hasn’t fallen out of love ever since.
He writes because he’s fascinated by human motivations. What causes otherwise-good people to make really terrible decisions in their lives? Why do some people have the strength to withstand temptation when others don’t? How do people respond to periods of intense suffering? What does it mean to be a hero?
These questions drive him as a reader, and they drive him as a writer as well as he takes normal people, puts them in crazy situations (did he mention he writes fantasy?), and then forces them to make difficult choices with their lives.
Someday, Josiah hopes to write fantasy novels with worlds as imaginative as Brandon Sanderson’s, characters as complex as Orson Scott Card’s, character arcs as dynamic as Jane Austen’s, themes as deep as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s, and stories as entertaining as Wayne Thomas Batson’s. In the meantime, you can find him writing articles here or short stories at his website (link below) as he works toward achieving these goals.

Learning

“What is it like—saying goodbye?”

Her eyes misted as her mind tumbled backward, down spiral staircases and through doors—some which were locked, some open, a few dark, and yet others inviting.The winds of change were blowing behind her. The winds that pushed her forward—the winds that sometimes made her forget.learningstory

“It came very quickly—faster than anyone could have convinced us it would,” she said, pressing her steepled fingers into the bridge of her nose. Her eyes closed slowly, and a smile spread across her face. “It was beautifully heart-wrenching in the best sort of way… like the last day of Kindergarten when you believe for a day that you’re not a child anymore because your best friend told you boys have cooties and your mom told you to act more grown up after bullying your sister off the swing set yesterday—but really you still are a child, you just don’t know it. You cry because you think you’ve lost something that you’ll never find again—and in some ways you have, but—“

Her fingers wandered across the table, pausing as she drew in a deep breath and opened her eyes, “Then you realize that it’s not so hopelessly dark and scary that you can’t go on. Which you do, because that’s what people do—what we must do.”

“Do you remember all of them, then? All of your goodbyes?”

She sighed. “I do.” And she did. She remembered imagining her tears filling mason jars and, with trembling hands, placing them on shelves etched by sweet remembrance and colored by time’s sometimes-gentle aging. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Sarah Spradlin
If you’ve ever emailed us at KP, you’ve probably “met” Sarah—a passionate storyteller with a huge heart that loves Jesus and everyone she meets. Sarah grew up in Georgia with her mom, dad, and little sister, Merry, where she attends the University of Georgia, majoring in International Affairs and Agriculture Communication. When she graduates, Sarah wants to help people all over the world succeed in the agriculture industry and tell the all-important story of the farmer. She joined the Kingdom Pen Team as Secretary in September 2013 and now serves as the Director of Community Happiness. Sarah has been homeschooled, private-schooled, and graduated from Madison County High School in May 2015. She attended Summit in July 2015. She’ll read pretty much anything (if she had to pick, though, her favorite author would be Frank Peretti) and has tried her hand at pretty much every kind of writing out there, though she likes writing fiction and poetry best. But because writing bios is a struggle, if you really want to get to know Sarah, shove some words in her general direction via the Forum, on one of the many social medias down below, or through the KP e-mail: kingdompenmag@gmail.com.

True Courage

‘Success is never final, failure is never fatal. It’s the courage that counts.’

While this quote from John Wooden might not be literally accurate in every instance, there is a good amount of truth in it. In writing, and in life too, one success won’t establish your character forever. It will build him up, giving him strength for the next challenge, but more challenges will come. And it is during failure that a character learns the most valuable lessons. But, in success or in failure, a character’s courage or lack thereof will affect how they act and react, no matter what the theme of your story. truecourage

Courage, as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary is the ‘mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.’ Or, as the common saying goes, courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the ability to continue on despite fear. A character needs courage to move forward, to lead, to make decisions and then hold up those decisions. They’ll need to fight, to rescue, to confront… they might not feel brave, but they continue forward anyway, even when there seems to be no hope. Without courage, a character will have a hard time making any sort of rational decision and then sticking to it.

For some characters, gaining courage might be part of the plot.

[Read more…]

Profile photo of Hope Ann
Hope Ann is a speculative fiction writer who lives on a small farm in northern Indiana. She has self-published three Legends of Light novellas and is the Kingdom Pen Writing Team Captain. Reading since the age of five, and introducing herself to writing at age eight, she never had a question that the author’s life was the life for her. Her goal is to write thrilling Christian fantasy and futuristic fiction — stories she longed for while growing up. After graduating from homeschool, Hope now teaches writing to several of her eight younger siblings. She loves climbing trees, archery, photography, Lord of the Rings, chocolate, and collecting shiny things she claims are useful for story inspiration. You can claim one of her stories for free at: https://authorhopeann.com/rose-of-the-night/

KP Book Review: Into the Fire

Kate was just your average college freshman until she found a fire mark on her hand one day. A mark that she couldn’t get off of herself. That’s when she began to be approached by people who said that she had been given a superpower by God in order to protect others.intothefirepinterest

The only problem is: Kate doesn’t really know what her superpower is. And she doesn’t really want to have one.

As much as she loves superhero films, she’d much rather go on with her normal life than deal with the problems associated with having superpowers. Especially when there are powerful enemies on her tail. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Josiah DeGraaf
Josiah DeGraaf is a high school English teacher and literature nerd who fell in love with stories when he was young and hasn’t fallen out of love ever since.
He writes because he’s fascinated by human motivations. What causes otherwise-good people to make really terrible decisions in their lives? Why do some people have the strength to withstand temptation when others don’t? How do people respond to periods of intense suffering? What does it mean to be a hero?
These questions drive him as a reader, and they drive him as a writer as well as he takes normal people, puts them in crazy situations (did he mention he writes fantasy?), and then forces them to make difficult choices with their lives.
Someday, Josiah hopes to write fantasy novels with worlds as imaginative as Brandon Sanderson’s, characters as complex as Orson Scott Card’s, character arcs as dynamic as Jane Austen’s, themes as deep as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s, and stories as entertaining as Wayne Thomas Batson’s. In the meantime, you can find him writing articles here or short stories at his website (link below) as he works toward achieving these goals.

Kingdom Pen Interviews – Philip Yancey

His books had been in our house for years. But it was only a couple of months ago when I really took a closer look at them. After reading What’s So Amazing About Grace?, I was thoroughly convicted, challenged, and more determined to live a grace-filled life. And was also thoroughly captivated with Philip Yancey’s work.  phillipyanceypinterest

I had to read more. But first I wanted to tell him thank you. After contacting him through his website I wrote him a note in the comments section and then had the marvelous idea to get an interview with him!

After gracious months of emailing back and forth here is the wonderful result of the interview!

There is much wisdom to be gained from this seasoned, non-fiction author as his answers are chock full of writing advice!

Kingdom Pen: What is your personal testimony?

Philip Yancey: I’m in the process of writing a memoir, so you’ll get the full story one of these days (or years).  Unlike many testimonies, mine tells of a conversion from the church—from an angry, uptight, racist, legalistic church in the South.  As a Christian and as a writer, I’ve spent my life and career picking over the words and concepts I learned from that church, understanding them anew in the light of grace, and discovering the hidden treasures that were layered over.  I’ve found, sadly, that the church is as likely to turn someone away from God as toward God.  It’s amazing that God would turn over the mission of spreading the Good News to ordinary people like us, as we so often get it wrong. [Read more…]

The Bildungsroman: What It Is and How to Write One

The transition from childhood to adulthood is an important transition that everyone has to make.  So it shouldn’t be too surprising to find that this transition is a common motif in literary works.  Coming of age stories are staples among children and YA literature, but all of this may raise some questions.  What exactly makes a story a coming of age story?  Does a character just need to be at a certain age, or does a story need certain elements to qualify?  And how do you write a coming of age novel?  This is potentially a large topic, but in this article, I’ll try to sketch out the basic elements of a coming of age novel and then examine how to do one well.  bildungsromanpost

In the literary field, a coming of age novel is often known by the German term, bildungsroman, which means a novel of formation, education, or culture.  This is an important element of the coming-of-age novel to understand:

“The story often represents a time of formation where the protagonist has to figure out who he is and where his place is in the world.  At the beginning of the book, the protagonist often has a lot of potential, but lacks refinement and solidarity of character—something he’s going to have to gain by the story’s end.”

Many times, this bildungsroman will have a plot resembling the hero’s journey.  Unpacking what all the hero’s journey looks like would take longer than I have space for in this article, but if you’re unfamiliar with the term, this video does a pretty good job of showing what the stereotypical hero’s journey looks like:

Essentially, the young protagonist is sent out on some sort of mission in order to save the community he grew up in and, in the process of doing so, end up discovering himself as well. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Josiah DeGraaf
Josiah DeGraaf is a high school English teacher and literature nerd who fell in love with stories when he was young and hasn’t fallen out of love ever since.
He writes because he’s fascinated by human motivations. What causes otherwise-good people to make really terrible decisions in their lives? Why do some people have the strength to withstand temptation when others don’t? How do people respond to periods of intense suffering? What does it mean to be a hero?
These questions drive him as a reader, and they drive him as a writer as well as he takes normal people, puts them in crazy situations (did he mention he writes fantasy?), and then forces them to make difficult choices with their lives.
Someday, Josiah hopes to write fantasy novels with worlds as imaginative as Brandon Sanderson’s, characters as complex as Orson Scott Card’s, character arcs as dynamic as Jane Austen’s, themes as deep as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s, and stories as entertaining as Wayne Thomas Batson’s. In the meantime, you can find him writing articles here or short stories at his website (link below) as he works toward achieving these goals.

KP Book Review: To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the instant classics of our time. It was first written by Harper Lee in 1960, and has been a staple of high school literature classes ever since, so many of you may have already read it, and those who haven’t have likely at least heard of it.tokillamockingbird

This is a book that is best read going into it blind, as a lot of the charm of the book is due to the fact that you’re discovering this through the eyes of a young girl, so I don’t want to give too much away about what this book is about (although, given the popularity of this book, you may already know a fair bit about it). Nevertheless, this book is best described as a coming-of-age novel, where we see a young girl, Scout grow up and begin to enter the real world as she encounters goodness and wickedness and has to decide where she’s going to stand on important issues. Like most coming-of-age novels, this features both a process of maturation for Scout and also a clash between her own values and the values of society. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Josiah DeGraaf
Josiah DeGraaf is a high school English teacher and literature nerd who fell in love with stories when he was young and hasn’t fallen out of love ever since.
He writes because he’s fascinated by human motivations. What causes otherwise-good people to make really terrible decisions in their lives? Why do some people have the strength to withstand temptation when others don’t? How do people respond to periods of intense suffering? What does it mean to be a hero?
These questions drive him as a reader, and they drive him as a writer as well as he takes normal people, puts them in crazy situations (did he mention he writes fantasy?), and then forces them to make difficult choices with their lives.
Someday, Josiah hopes to write fantasy novels with worlds as imaginative as Brandon Sanderson’s, characters as complex as Orson Scott Card’s, character arcs as dynamic as Jane Austen’s, themes as deep as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s, and stories as entertaining as Wayne Thomas Batson’s. In the meantime, you can find him writing articles here or short stories at his website (link below) as he works toward achieving these goals.

KP Interviews – Tosca Lee

Last year at a writer’s conference I had the pleasure of hearing this creative woman give a few talks on the subject of writing. Given that she is a New York Time’s best-selling author I had to get an interview with her. I introduced myself after one of the sessions and through times of procrastination and several emails later here is the fruit of said interview. I found her answers quite interesting, very informative, and humorous. toscaleepinterest

I think I’m going to try her crazy stunt she pulled. 😀

Kingdom Pen: If you could only give one piece of advice on how to go about writing a book, what would it be?

Tosca Lee: Read a lot of good books that YOU like, and take notice of what works in it. And then start writing your own. Don’t go back and redo the beginning over and over—that is death. Write through to the end, even if it’s a shorter novel.

KP: Many authors have at least one embarrassing story to share about their first novels, short stories, or attempts at either. What was your first “big” writing adventure? Do you look back on it as something to be proud of, or is it something you tuck away into dusty corners and try not to talk about very often? [Read more…]

8 Common Cliches of Coming-of-Age Stories

There is a theme which abounds across a number of genres. One in which young men are torn from their farms and thrust into events which will change the course of an age,  young women rise up to fulfill prophecies, and youths are thrown into conflicts where they must fight for their very survival. The settings and characters change, but in each story a once young and immature man or woman is thrown into circumstances which forever alter their lives and thrust them into adulthood. commoncliches

The lines around a coming-of-age story are a bit vague. In them, the main character begins as a youth and reaches adulthood by the end. This can either be the focus of the book or, as in some of my works in progress, merely a result of the character development throughout the story. But, however it’s written, the meaning of adulthood ought to be clearly depicted, not fictionalized as some modern books portray.

Coming-of-age stories are only as compelling and gripping as the plot, characters, and emotions inside it. Though the focus of this article will be on the latter two points, the first one is important because it is the structure around which the character grows. Really, ‘coming-of-age’ is only a sub-theme of the greater character development which should take place throughout any book. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Hope Ann
Hope Ann is a speculative fiction writer who lives on a small farm in northern Indiana. She has self-published three Legends of Light novellas and is the Kingdom Pen Writing Team Captain. Reading since the age of five, and introducing herself to writing at age eight, she never had a question that the author’s life was the life for her. Her goal is to write thrilling Christian fantasy and futuristic fiction — stories she longed for while growing up. After graduating from homeschool, Hope now teaches writing to several of her eight younger siblings. She loves climbing trees, archery, photography, Lord of the Rings, chocolate, and collecting shiny things she claims are useful for story inspiration. You can claim one of her stories for free at: https://authorhopeann.com/rose-of-the-night/