Announcing New KP Staff Members

staffannouncementOne side effect of trying to do everything at once is that you can forget to announce the awesome new people you’ve added to the site team. So without further ado, here we are. We’ve recruited three illustrious interns for our writing team—Gabrielle Pollack, Emily Kopf, and Cindy Green—and we are proud as punch to have them with us. You should begin seeing new articles, book reviews, and poems from them this upcoming month.

We’re also excited to belatedly announce Christi Eaton as our new social media manager. Christi’s been running our social media for a while now and has been doing a fantastic job. If you aren’t subscribed to our various social media channels now, here’s your chance. (Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter.)

Finally, we’re thrilled to introduce a new web developer to the team. Isaiah Taylor is a rather mysterious fellow, so there’s not much we can say about him, but his expertise will be invaluable to us as we work on updating the site over the coming months.

Read more about our new writing interns below and feel free to wish them a hearty welcome in the comments!

Writing Team Interns

Gabrielle Pollack

Gabrielle PollackGabrielle Pollack currently resides with her family and many cats amidst a small wood she wishes was Narnia. Her interests are varied, and when she isn’t writing or studying, she enjoys karate, archery, introverting, and hanging out on the Kingdom Pen forum. She relishes the cool wind that rushes in before a thunderstorm, the scent of fresh rain, black clouds, and in summary, all things storm. As a lighthearted INFP, she loves horses, spring, strawberries, and sitting on the roof of her house.

She fell in love with stories many years ago and immersed herself in epic books like The Kingdom Series and The Peleg Chronicles, living the adventures and loving the characters. It took her a while to realize she could write epic stories herself, but once she did, she was a lost cause. She never quite recovered her sanity and often rants about good storytelling to innocent bystanders. Gabrielle has written two books since and has a plethora of other ideas swirling inside her brain, waiting to turn into people and worlds. She desires to glorify God through her books, short stories, and blog, and she looks forward to learning more about her trade.

She dreams of traveling the world and wishes to return to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, the heights of the Rocky Mountains, and the sandy shores of the Outer Banks. Gabrielle also wishes to travel to New Zealand and stand upon a rocky perch overlooking a flatland, where she will then quote Lord of the Rings lines in dramatic fashion. Her more realistic goals include becoming a full-time writer and surviving adulthood.

Cindy Green

CindyCindy Green is a Canadian homeschool student who wants to live in a world where rain is colorful and mint chocolate chip ice cream is acceptable for daily consumption. But she is contented to live in one where dogs exist, fireworks are a regular occurrence, and trees are climbable objects (though the winter season is consistently extended in the land of igloos and hockey, she has climbed trees in her snowsuit before, and she will do it again). She began scribbling out fiction and keeping a journal at around age seven, and last she checked, hasn’t stopped. Thinking of writing always goes hand in hand with thinking of a quote that she feels captures part of her existence: “I just want to make beautiful things, even if nobody cares.”

She deems becoming an intern for Kingdom Pen the biggest of deals in regard to her writing accomplishments, surpassing even her excitement upon placing second in a library contest, having a short story accepted in a nationwide collection, and being frequently published on a blog for young authors.

Aside from obsessing over the arrangement of words and fantasizing about maple-syrup-coated beavertails, Cindy enjoys spending time playing piano, looking at pictures of outer space, loudly singing along to music, exploring the dictionary, attempting Highland dancing, and reading. She hopes to someday publish a book of her own, learn to skateboard without getting scraped, and witness the aurora borealis in the Yukon. Most of all, she wants to live her life colorfully and passionately for the glory of a good God and to point to her Creator as the source of all joy.

Emily Kopf

EmilyEmily Kopf has loved books since her mom taught her how, and she reads everything she can get her hands on. After she read Dragons in Our Midst by Bryan Davis at the age of eleven, Emily became obsessed with dragons and fantasy. Now, ten years later, she has invented a few fantasy stories of her own and is determined to make a career for herself in the bookish world. She is studying English Literature in her final year in college, writing scores of book reviews, blogging at Zerina Blossom’s Books, writing epic stories, editing, and helping other authors make a name for themselves.

Emily comes from a creative family, with two self-published authors for uncles. She grew up in the beautiful mountains of the Inland Northwest as the oldest of three kids in a Christian family. She was homeschooled until fifth grade, when she joined a tiny Christian school. Emily loves everything artistic, from singing to macramé to sketching. Most of all, Emily loves Jesus and her family and friends.

Her favorite genres to read and write are fantasy, fairy tales, historical fiction, and sweet romance … or anything clean with a happy ending. A few of Emily’s favorite authors include: Nadine Brandes, Anne Elisabeth Stengl, Bryan Davis, Jane Austen, and J.R.R. Tolkien. Currently she is a book reviewer for Kingdom Pen, so if you want her to review a specific book, send in a suggestion to KP for consideration.

Five Questions to Ask Yourself When Your Story’s Theme Lacks Subtlety

Few flaws can kill a story’s theme and message as much as blatancy.

We’ve all read books that constantly hit us over the head with the author’s beliefs. Afterwards we resolve never to do this as authors.

But then we sit down to write and realize how easy it is to make this mistake.

5_Questions_to_Ask_Yourself_When_Your_Story_s_Theme_Lacks_Subtlety

Why Subtlety Is Important

As I explain in my article, “Is Fiction Inherently Worse Than Nonfiction,” literature’s thematic power lies in moving emotions, not reason. Generally speaking, stories don’t change readers by presenting new logical arguments. That’s the role of nonfiction. Instead, fiction changes readers by showing what it means to live morally versus immorally, and what the results are. [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.

Ceiling Tiles

Anna Shipley had often been told she was an old soul in a young body. And upon being admitted to the Golden Years nursing home at age nineteen, her first thought was that fate had an unusually twisted sense of humor.

Following that initial observation came a host of others, mostly of a grim and hopeless nature. She soon found existence easier if she avoided thinking and instead focused on small diversions. This morning she took an inordinate amount of pride in confirming that three hundred and seventy-eight tiles covered her gray ceiling, which she would have reported had anyone asked her.Ceiling_Tiles

“Her” ceiling was a relative term, for she had been shuffled into an out-of-the-way spare room while the nurses were manically sanitizing everything after last month’s influenza outbreak. Im no different than the furniture.

The thought caused her mood to further deteriorate. Great. It’s barely past ten and I’m already indulging in self-pity. Pull yourself together, Shipley. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Sierra
Sierra Ret is a homeschool student who spent nearly her entire childhood with her nose buried in a book, and consequently decided she wanted to write one of her own (preferably filled with dwarves and elves). Actually getting her thoughts down on paper regularly has proven to be a far greater challenge than she first thought, but Kingdom Pen was kind enough to step in and give her some much-needed deadlines by honouring her with a temporary spot on their writing team. When not hermiting behind a laptop screen, Sierra enjoys gallivanting across Canada and adventuring near her home in rural Ontario with her family. Currently her chief fantasies include making a living as a travel blogger and someday moving to New Zealand. But above all, her chief aim is to live a passionate and meaningful life for the glory of God.

Echoes of Spring

By Moriah Simonowich

In beauty as elegant as a pearl,

Another day crisply unfurls.

Echoes_of_Spring

From God’s treasure house of gems

Come chill March winds,

Echoing the season of spring;

They whirl, twirl, and ring.

Clouds in transparent white wisps

Move about in drifts—

Sails billowing on a sea of blue;

In a sky of clearest hue.

[Read more…]

Become a Steward of the Pen (and Earn Rewards!)

Stewards_of_the_PenFor many moons, the Kingdom of Pen has occupied a small corner of the land called Internet. We have enjoyed relative prosperity and comfort amidst the forum’s castle grounds and the rolling countryside of social media surrounding our kingdom. But now we stand at the dawn of a new era.

Introducing the Stewards of the Pen! This branch of our kingdom will become stronger than the rest, subduing all those who dare oppose us as we infect every last region of Internet with our brand until we reign supreme!

Did I just write that aloud? Well, uh … awkward.

At this point I would like to turn the podium over to my assistant, Stewie, to explain what the Stewards of the Pen are all about.

Thanks, Master. Guys, I’m gonna shoot straight with you. This whole idea is completely insane, but heaps of fun. Basically, Dark Overlord Michael sends us all over the Internet realm to post and share about Kingdom Pen in exchange for certain KP products and discounts on KP merchandise. “Dark Overlord” is mostly an honorary title.

Sure, the organization is technically villainous, and we’re made serfs of the kingdom and paid with wooden currency, but all that aside, involvement is a lark. Master lets us chat in the forum castle, we get to scheme new ways to spread the word about KP, and we’re granted early access to KP content and news. We even play volleyball on Tuesdays! Plus, there are opportunities for advancement. I recently earned my freedom from indefinite indentureship, and a buddy of mine has become a Dark Underlord or something! 

I admit that being a villain is a little jarring at first, but of all the organizations that have “dark” in the boss’s title, Stewards of the Pen is probably the best. We’re just acknowledging that we’re all sinners in need of a savior. In that sense, everyone is evil anyway. We just happen to be more candid about it.

At any rate, if you’re interested in checking out Stewards of the Pen or touring the volleyball court, you can apply below!

Thank you, Stewie. That was … honest. For those less disposed to propositions from dark overlords and optimistic underlings, here is what’s happening. Kingdom Pen is starting the Stewards of the Pen, a contingent of KeePers committed to growing the Kingdom Pen community. You already got a taste of the lightheartedness we hope to promote in the group, but let me give you a sample of the other benefits (aside from volleyball Tuesdays).

Stewards of the Pen will be rewarded for things they’re likely already doing: sharing KP social media posts, enrolling in KP courses, referring friends to KP courses, etc. As a bonus, the top performing Stewards in each quarter will gain treasures like one-on-one story coaching with Josiah (or yours truly, Dark Overlord Michael, if you wish), free e-books, and more!

If Stewie was unable to entice you to join with his promises of volleyball and promotions, perhaps this dragon hoard of rewards will persuade you to apply now!

You’d better hurry, because enlistments close on May 2nd!

UPDATE: Enrollment to Stewards of the Pen is now closed. Subscribe to our email list to be the first to know when enrollment opens up again!

Profile photo of Michael Stanton
Michael Stanton has had what he describes as a scatterbrained adventure of a life that has recently led him to working at Kingdom Pen. When he wasn’t teaching underprivileged children in Uganda and rafting on the White Nile, he was either in Canada’s capital city studying the history of Christianity or in Michigan learning how to make films. Originally from Banner Elk, North Carolina, Michael grew up homeschooled and surrounded by the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains. Those mountains inspired Michael’s love of writing (and, let’s face it, the Lord of the Ringsmovies also helped). Many years and adventures later, Michael found himself getting a marketing degree, and low and behold, Kingdom Pen was in need of a Marketing Director. What are the odds that God didn’t see that coming? All divine providence allusions aside, Michael is super excited to get to work in an organization that so closely matches his desires to see more quality content streaming from the minds and hearts of his fellow Christians.

Are You Helping Your Protagonist Cheat Her Way to Victory?

By Rachel Keller

You’ve written a novel that you love (ironically) beyond words and handed it to beta readers to prepare it for the final editing stage. You’ve aced all the details (characterization, plot, theme, setting). You’re sure this is the novel that will launch you into publishing. Then you receive disturbing feedback from your beta readers:

“I didn’t care about the protagonist.”Are_You_Helping_Your_Protagonist_Cheat_Her_Way_to_Victory

“The protagonist won too easily.”

“I couldn’t help feeling more drawn to the side character or villain.”

Your momentum slows as you read their comments again and again. What happened? Your character suffered greatly! She dragged herself to the end! You spent considerable time developing her story. How can they dislike her? What did you do wrong?

I had this experience on the flip side as the reader. Excited to delve into a new book, energized and intrigued by the plot. Yet, I repeatedly slammed the book down in frustration. [Read more…]

KP Critiques – 37

Welcome to the 37th edition of KP Critiques! May others be inspired by your bravery, R. J. Wordsmith. Even the most skilled knights of the pen shudder at the sight of an editor’s dagger, but it’s a necessary training procedure. Although you may emerge with blood splatters on your hands, your sword will be sharpened and your story will wield more impact.KP Critique 37

Before I begin, I have a quick note for anyone who has viewed my previous critiques. Up until now, I’ve essentially performed a critique and copyedit combo on each piece wherein I’ve tried to improve the sentences as well as comment on plot, characters, theme, etc. However, I’ve decided to cease that practice because it’s tedious and time consuming to transfer all my line-level edits from a Word document to a blog post without missing something. I will still be doing critiques, but more in the true sense of the word (focusing on content only).

I thought I should mention this change in procedure, lest someone spot a typo or grammar error and mistakenly assume I’ve lost my “superpower.” 😛 Occasionally I may point out small blunders and trim words, but generally I won’t be marking up novel excerpts like a copyedit anymore. Since the following story contained some recurring issues, I’ve positioned my assessment at the bottom of this post rather than scattering it throughout. My apologies to anyone who hoped to witness or experience a more comprehensive edit. Thank you for understanding. 🙂

Now, onward to R. J.’s dastardly tale!

James ‘Kit’ Kessington Wraith lived at house No. 166 on West Regicide St. in the City of Wickton. He came from a perfectly respectable evil family (two of his more famous ancestors being Morgana and Mordred) and was top of his class at the ‘Wickton Academy for the Mastery of the Villainous Arts’. Now you may think it strange that this story does not begin with the introduction of a classical hero, but truth be told this story isn’t about one. For you see, sometimes the world needs a hero to save it and other times the job can only be done with a bit of good old-fashioned villainy. But I begin to digress. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Brianna Storm Hilvety
Brianna was born with a rumble in her veins. She finds the tap of a keyboard to be soothing like the pitter-patter of rain. She has been a writer for a decade, a freelance editor for a few years, and a bibliophile from the moment she pronounced her first syllable. Proudly a Silver Member of The Christian PEN, she serves on their team as Graphics Coordinator. She exudes her passion for speculative fiction and helping young writers by being an Associate Editor at Castle Gate Press and the Copy Editor/Director of Graphics for Kingdom Pen. When she isn’t poring over words, she may be spotted shooting her Canon, riding The Breeze (an all-terrain vehicle), or romping with her dog, Zookie. Purple is her signature color, and she refuses to recognize all other claims to it.

KP Book Review: Waterfall

By KayleighAnne E. Stanton

What if our time collided with another? What would happen to our world? Who would we become?

See the answers unfold in Waterfall, book one of the River of Time series.

Every summer, sisters Gabi and Lia have reluctantly traveled to the beautiful country of Italy with their parents, who seem to care more about archeology than their daughters. After the death of their father, the girls stumble across Etruscan ruins their parents have long been hunting for. One hot, dusty day the sisters sneak off to examine the tomb, artifacts, and strange handprints no one can explain.KP_Book_Review_Waterfall

When the girls touch the handprints, they are pulled into a whirlwind that sweeps them into fourteenth-century Italy, where life is difficult. The sisters get separated, and Gabi searches desperately for Lia—and a way to return home. [Read more…]

Vain

By D.G. Snapper

There once was a man from Vain

His life was focused on gain

He worked for his wants

It pleased him just once

And his countenance was blank as a pane

Vain

There once was a girl from Vain

Her escape came only from feign

She laughed and she tried

Only it was a lie

All she did went down the drain

[Read more…]

Write a Great Description in Three Easy Steps

Readers can’t relate to a story without narrative description. It happens in a vague world of shadows and smoke that readers have never visited—a world of floating voices and gunshots (splitting the silence, probably) but no real physical matter. It fails to engage the senses and ignite the imagination.Write_a_Great_Description_in_Three_Easy_Steps

If you’re like me, most of your descriptions may read like this: “It was raining outside.” Not exactly imagination-evoking material. Story worlds must come to life for readers, or stories never can. Vivid description is life-or-death for your story, but there’s a secret to pulling it off. Don’t believe me? Try these three easy steps. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Brandon Miller
Raised on C.S. Lewis and matured (to whatever extent) on Tolkien, Brandon Miller is a huge fan of Christian speculative fiction. His favorite stories artfully bend the physical reality to reveal spiritual realities which apply to all realms, kingdoms, districts and solar systems (including our own.)
When not writing fiction Brandon spends his time tending his blog The Woodland Quill, sportsing, or just struggling through that last-year-of-high-school/first-year-of-college which is really neither but is definitely both.