But first. Let us honor the fallen who gave their lives in the comments section, waiting for this to be revealed.
But first. Let us honor the fallen who gave their lives in the comments section, waiting for this to be revealed.
Hello Kingdom Pen!
This month’s theme is “Coming of Age”.
It’s the time of the year when many are closing in on graduation, and by the standards of many, “coming of age.”
The “Coming of age” trope is a common one in fiction. For example, Luke Sykwalker, the lowly farmer boy, is thrown into the middle of a galactic struggle and forced to mature to be able to defeat the enemy.
In every Coming of Age story, a character starts out young and immature, and then grows into adulthood.
How does one write an effect “Coming of Age” story? How do we write effect character arcs showing a character growing in maturity over time? What advice or experiences do you have with with writing these kinds of stories? Send in your submissions post-haste so that we have time to approve and publish them this month!
Next month’s theme is COURAGE! Start writing your submissions for next month’s theme and submit them this month so that we can publish them next month.
We look forward to reading your submissions!
Stories follow a familiar pattern because it works. When it comes to character archetypes, we have the Hero, Villain, Mentor, Ally, and Love in just about every story. Usually, the weakest of these is the Love. This is because in an adventure novel, the main story goal is not to “get the girl” (or boy as the case may be), which means your Love character will become the object of a subplot. This leaves less time available for pursuing the Love. Less time for the Hero to be rejected, overcome the rejections, and eventually win the Love.
As a result, romantic subplots usually feel unsatisfying because we get the sense that winning the girl (or boy) isn’t as important as defeating the villain. How many movies and books can you think of where obtaining the Love interest was way too easy, and seemed to just be tacked on at the end, like a bonus prize? Throw in some extra-marital romance, perhaps a kiss here and there, and this all adds up to cheapen love, rather than esteem it. Many books and movies bombarded us with the fantasy that “love is all you need”, but the “love” they speak of is NOT real love. It’s just the glossy icing on the cake, lacking the deep richness that true love actually renders.
“It is love that sustains romance, but our culture would have us believe it is the other way around, and that romance sustains love. We cannot perpetuate this myth in our stories.”
So many stories today want to pitch us the easy, cheap, and “free” kind of love which is just an imitation, a vapor that doesn’t last when divorced from its foundation, a foundation based on sacrifice; hard love.
For most young writers, I think they would be better off leaving out a Love subplot altogether. Pulling off a real, meaningful Love subplot that esteems the real deal is a difficult task. On top of that, it’s hard to write appropriate, believable, and positive examples of romance into your story. Even if your characters are married, for young writers, it can be difficult to pull this off.
However , this does not mean we should abandon love. We need stories that show what we are missing. We need stories with hard love. Therefore, for beginning writers, if you want to write a Love subplot, write one that doesn’t include any romance.
Hello Kingdom Pen!
The KP staff is so excited for this new year! Last week, we all got together (many of us meeting in person for the very first time!) and cooked up some pretty cool new treats that we hope to reveal to you soon!
In the meantime, here are the new writing themes for the year, which can also be found under the publishing schedule tab.
As the month of February holds Valentines Day, we thought it appropriate to make the theme for this month romance and love.
Valentines Day today epitomizes the sad state of love and romance in our Western culture. What was supposed to be a holiday dedicated to a man who was executed for defending marriage during a time when it was banned, it has turned into a time of cheap romance and consumer “love”, or a “SAD” (Singles Awareness Day) day where we bemoan our lack of a romantic partner.
In the same way, so many stories today have taken on this same low idea of romance and love. These ideas are so casually thrown around, misused, and twisted to be used in inappropriate contexts, or to mean something less than what they should.
How can we restore these ideas in our stories to what God intended them to be? How should Christians approach these two elements in their writing? Should teen writers even be writing about romance? How can we write stories that display the immense love of God?
Send in you articles, poems, and short stories that touch on this theme. That’s right! You don’t just have to submit articles that address the monthly theme. Stories and poems are also encouraged! We can’t wait to read what you have to say!
Also, if you want to make sure your submission has enough time to be reviewed and published during the theme month, please send in your submissions one month AHEAD of schedule. So for the month of February, start sending in your submissions now. For the month of March, send in your submissions in February, and so on.
Thank you so much! We hope you are looking forward to 2016 as much as we are!
Coming of Age
National Novel Writing Month
Hey Kingdom Pen! We are excited to bring to you our very first book giveaway!
I think it is very appropriate that our first giveaway is “The Curse of The Seer” by Daniel Schwabauer. For those who don’t know, Kingdom Pen, in a way, owes it’s existence to him, as the original founders of Kingdom Pen met through the curriculum he developed called The One Year Adventure Novel. With the addition of John Stonestreet, you could say Daniel Schwabauer is to Kingdom Pen what John Locke was to the American founding fathers.
If you’d like to be eligible to win a FREE copy of his book, “The Curse of The Seer,” then follow the directions below. But first! Check out this synopsis of the book:
Everyone thinks Eli is afraid of the dark, and they’re right. But it’s not because he can’t see in the dark; it’s because he can. After his father is murdered by kingsguard mice, Eli is tortured and condemned to death.
With the help of Tira-Nor’s old seer, AlBaer, Eli escapes his executioners and discovers that his mother, who was sold into slavery in Cadrid years before, may still be alive. Finding and saving her becomes his passion, but can he survive slavery, cruel taskmasters, foreign armies, the hatred of his own people, and even death itself? AlBaer can’t—or won’t—protect him from the supernatural evil that stalks him, and Eli must try to unravel the seer’s curse alone.
We are also excited to bring to you an interview Mr. S was so gracious to provide us. We hope you are enlightened and inspired as much as we were by his words.
Kingdom Pen: What compelled you to be a Christian author and teacher?
Daniel Schwabauer: I fell in love with stories and began writing in grade school, long before I became a Christian. I started teaching writing because I wanted to help young writers. It had taken me years to see that I needed to learn the fundamentals of storytelling, and I didn’t want anyone else to experience the same frustration of not knowing what their writing lacked.
Christianity is the defining trait in my life. It informs and shapes my view of life, humanity and all of reality. In that sense, I can’t help but be a Christian writer and a Christian teacher. But I didn’t set out to become these things. I determined to follow Christ, and also to write and to teach.
KP: Who has influenced you the most in your writing?
DS: This is very hard to answer because there is more than one crucial element to any writer’s journey. James Gunn’s classes at KU were extremely helpful, but I was also inspired by G.K. Chesterton and C.S. Lewis.
KP: What makes a dynamic character?
DS: Short answer: whatever makes them truly human, or helps the reader to connect with their humanity.
Characterization techniques taught in writing classes often fall flat because they aren’t implemented in a way that resonates with readers. Writers try to push characters to the extremes of humanity in order to create a fascinating person, as if what we care about is someone’sedgy and unusual characteristics. This doesn’t work. Extremes don’t connect character and reader. Understanding does.
A high school quarterback character who bullies the hero is a cliche. You can’t humanize him by giving him purple hair and a love of ballet. These traits might look interesting on a character sheet, but very few readers will recognize him. He won’t resonate.
Instead, we need to see ourselves in him–or see him in ourselves. Why is he a bully? What made him dye his hair purple? What kind of ribbing does he take from his team when they discover he likes ballet? These are the things that will make him human: not the traits themselves, but the reasons behind them.
KP: What or who inspired the idea for your book series, The Legends of Tira-Nor?
DS: At the age of four my daughter was bitten in the face by a dog. It took two plastic surgeries and 39 stitches to fix the damage. Afterwards, I sat by her hospital bed reading the story of David and Goliath as she slept. She had frequently asked me to tell her stories about mice, so I decided to write a mouse version of David’s story that would embody the courage I saw in her. I meant to finish the novel in a few months, but it took me four years. The series grew out of that.
KP: In a novel, is it better to have more showing than telling? Why?
DS: Every novel uses both, but yes, showing as a mode of fiction is more effective for most scenes than telling.
Showing involves creating images in the reader’s imagination. Those images are evaluated by the reader’s reasoning faculties as they unfold.
If I write, “Sweat trickled down his brow,” you will see a concrete image in your mind, but your brain will interpret the sweat to mean something else (i.e., “that guy feels hot”). Thus, showing gets both sides of the brain involved in the story.
Telling, on the other hand, is purely conceptual. It doesn’t activate the reader’s imagination, so only one side of the brain is really “awake.” If I write, “he felt hot,” your brain doesn’t create any images on the screen of your imagination. You get the concept, but nothing else. Too many concepts and your readers will grow bored.
KP: With so many differing opinions on the subject, why do you strongly advise against using adverbs? Is it ever OK to use them?
DS: I advise against them because they are almost always used as a crutch. Most of the time, especially in the work of young writers, adverbs are there to strengthen a weak verb. It’s better to replace the weak verb/adverb pair with a stronger, more vibrant verb.
But yes, it’s sometimes okay–and even right–to use an adverb in fiction. Whenever you can’t get across the same meaning with a more active verb, use an adverb. But this is not as common as we like to think. Most of the time when I use adverbs it’s out of laziness.
KP: What is the key to writing a great novel?
DS: I don’t know.
KP: In my experience, I have found the editing process of a novel to be quite daunting; what do you suggest to be the best way to proceed?
DS: Plan for it to take twice as long as you expect. Most novels need more revision than their authors want to give.
KP: What would you consider to be the most difficult part of writing a novel?
DS: For me it’s getting the rough draft written. But I know people who have no problem cranking out words. Their issue is making those words readable.
So perhaps our universal struggle is against mediocrity. I think the truly great novels are a combination of an inspired idea and a depressing number of rewrites.
KP: What are your writing essentials?
DS: An inspired idea and a depressing number of rewrites.
A quiet room (my office)
The irrational conviction that my story is worth telling
To be entered in the giveaway, click the widget below and login with either Facebook or your email to see all the possible ways to enter. The more options you choose, the more entries you get, and the greater your chances of winning! Additionally, some entries you can make once a day to further increase your changes of winning.
This giveaway will run the 8th-15th, so enter while you can!
May the odds be ever in your favor!
It is once again that crazy time of year where writers everywhere decide to embark on a heroic quest of their own: writing an entire novel in just one month.
If you have decided to take on this massive enterprise for the first time, or are coming off of a failed attempt last year, this goal may seem even more daunting than it really is. The truth is, writing a novel in one month is actually pretty simple. All you have to do is write 1667 words every day. Or, to reduce that down even more, only 833 words an hour for two hours a day, or, 209 words every 15 minutes.
Do you think you can write 209 words every 15 minutes? Of course you can! 209 words is nothing!
We make a lot of excuses. Being too tired, not having enough time, something else coming up, etc. But very rarely do any of these excuses account for not writing a novel in a month. Surely, even the busiest person can find 8 fifteen minute sections in a day to write 209 words. It’s not about time or capability. You have the ability and the time to write a novel in just one month. However, the reason you may not lies inside your head.
I successfully completed NaNoWriMo in 2012, but then failed to complete a novel the following year. Why? The same reason why I think a lot of others don’t finish: perfectionism.
More and more as I write, it is becoming increasingly difficult to turn off that inner editor voice in my head telling me my writing is absolutely appalling. I’ll just be merrily writing along when, BAM! Off goes the bad writing alarms.
Inner editor: Oh my gosh! You just used an adverb there! That’s weak writing! [Read more…]
Kingdom Pen is excited to bring you another episode of KPR! This episode, broken up into two parts, was submitted by our good friend Daniel over at The Very Serious Writing Show.
This episode features Kingdom Pen’s own Haley Long discussing the topic of poetry.
Kingdom Pen Trivia: Haley’s reading this book was inspired by Reagan’s request that she write some articles on poetry. To this day, Reagan is still waiting to see those articles…
Daniel’s new website:
Make sure to subscribe to the Kingdom Pen newsletter to be eligible to submit, and also to stay up-to-date on all the latest posts, contests, opportunities, writing prompts, and more!
Do you have a podcast or audio episode you would like to have featured on Kingdom Pen? Submit your own shows at: Kingdompenmag@gmail.com
Four and half years ago, Kingdom Pen began as a simple eMag comprised of articles, short stories, and poems. Primitively produced with Microsoft Word, Kingdom Pen was founded, run, and written for Christian teens, by Christian teens. It was free, and it was basic, maintained by volunteers.
Kingdom Pen has drastically changed since we began, though we are all still volunteers, and our content is still free. It is also still our goal to encourage a generation of Christian writers and artists to use their God-given talents to impact the world for good and advance God’s kingdom here on Earth. Our culture is starving for truth—the truth of Christ. As Christians, we have the potential, more than anyone else, to supply this truth. Kingdom Pen wants to be here for the long term to equip you—the bringers of truth.
As it stands right now, most of us on staff are not teens anymore. Now into our early 20s, many of our staff members are in college, and/or work two or three other jobs in addition to Kingdom Pen. Our free time is very limited so we are always looking for help and new talent to become tomorrow’s leaders of Kingdom Pen. The current Kingdom Pen staff members were once Kingdom Pen readers who responded to opportunities as they arose to lend their talents as writers, editors, graphic designers, content managers, administrators, and so on.
If Kingdom Pen is going to continue to thrive, it will be as a result of some of our current readership stepping up into active participation as members of the Kingdom Pen staff.
If you’d like to get involved, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line, “I Want To Help!”
If you enjoy Kingdom Pen, and share our vision of encouraging young authors to write for Christ and advance His kingdom here on Earth, then we would love your help in this endeavor! There are many different things you can do to join in and aid Kingdom Pen, and we would greatly appreciate any assistance you can offer.
Here are a few things you can do to help:
Pray for us as we seek first and foremost God’s will above all else. There are a lot of things we would like to do with Kingdom Pen, but they would not be good unless they were part of God’s will. So join with us in asking God to direct our paths into His purpose for this work.
Being engaged on the Kingdom Pen website goes a long way as well. Not only will you be encouraging your fellow Christian writers, but increased activity and sharing will allow more Christians to find Kingdom Pen, and benefit from what KP has to offer.
Yes! We want you to submit! We want to publish you! So subscribe to our newsletter to be eligible, and send us your writing!
Tell everyone you know whom you think would be interested in KP. Tell your friends, your homeschool group, and any writers you know. The bigger Kingdom Pen grows, the more resources we will be able to offer you in return!
Birthdays, Christmas, Easter, or just for fun, Kingdom Pen Merchandise make great gifts for your Christian writing friends! Not only do you and your friends get an awesome piece of clothing, but you are also helping to support and spread the word about Kingdom Pen in the process!
We welcome those of you who are led to contribute financially to growing the Kingdom Pen platform.
More funds would mean more contests with bigger cash prizes. It would also help cover our operating expenses related to our web hosting platform, domain name registration fees, design software, etc ., and enable us to invest in other areas to continue to expand and enhance Kingdom Pen. As stated above, we are all freely donating our time and effort Kingdom Pen, which we are more than happy to do. We LOVE getting to spend our time working for Kingdom Pen, but we hope to someday be able to retain our valuable human resources by competing with those who would entice our staff with jobs that pay money!
Basically, the more funds we have, the more we can improve Kingdom Pen! We would very much appreciate any amount you can donate to the cause of Kingdom Pen!
We are very grateful for all of the support and encouragement so many of you already give us! We are optimistic about the future, and can’t wait to see what is in store for Kingdom Pen in the coming months and years!
Kingdom Pen’s own Sarah Spradlin had the amazing opportunity of interviewing Wayne Thomas Batson, and we are so excited to bring it to you today! We hope you find his words as encouraging as we did!
Wayne Thomas Batson: Which time? LOL Sorry, couldn’t resist. I think the first time I recognized Jesus as Savior was in 7th grade at an all nighter tennis tournament. The teaching pro was a Christian, gave his testimony, and led us in a prayer. BUT, that said, I’m not certain when the old-to-new transformation happened. The nature of saving faith has always been a little elusive for me. I mean, these altar calls, sinner’s prayers, and 100 other practices have only been around for the last 200 years, so how did people get saved prior to that? Probably just what the Bible says: they believed. And even that faith was a gift from God. So, I don’t worry about the day. All I know is that, within me, there is a great desire to know and experience God. I want to please Him. I want to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
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?
WTB: Well, The Door Within was originally entitled “The Door Without Hinges.” ROFL Whew, glad God gave me a better idea.
KP: Every author has heard the whispered tales of the horrendous behemoth called “Writer’s Block.” How do you deal with this monster when it comes knocking, and what measures can authors take to avoid a confrontation with the beast to begin with?
WTB: Don’t hate me, but I don’t get writer’s block. Ever. Seriously. God floods my mind with so many ideas that I can’t even keep up with them. There are times when I make my own blocks, spending hours laboring over just the right character or place name, that kind of thing. The worst obstacle for me is mindless surfing on the Web. If not for that, I’d likely have three more novels written. For those who have what we traditionally refer to as Writer’s Block, I’d suggest becoming more of an Outliner. Sketch out the whole plot, chapter by chapter. You’ll always know where you’re headed.
KP: Christian allegory is a growing genre in the book store, particularly in the medieval fantasy area. For those aspiring to be authors in this genre themselves and since you have considerable experience with it, what are some tips and tricks to writing convincing, original, and meaningful Christian allegory?
WTB: Number 1: Don’t FORCE IT. If you dress up a Bible Tract in fantasy trappings and try to pass it off as a story, you are going to infuriate readers and dishonor God. Write the story that is on your heart. Work hard at it. Craft it. Make it sing. If Christ is in your heart, He will shine through. If God gives you a story, tell it well.
KP: Each of your series have a repeated phrase, generally a command or motto, that highlight a significant message that is in the book. For example, in The Door Within trilogy, the knights of Alleble encouraged one another by saying, “Never alone!” Would you encourage other authors to do the same thing, and for authors who do want to put something like this in their books, how would you advise they pick out a phrase that is meaningful but not clichéd or awkward?
WTB: Two answers here: 1) It allows readers to rally around the story world. After all, you can text someone “Never Alone,” and that will bring to another reader’s mind the whole story experience. Endurance and Victory! Hold Fast!—these are things that allow readers to more easily remember the heart of the series. 2) Reason number two: having a “catch phrase” makes it easy to write something during book signings! LOL
KP: Even if we’re always told not to judge a book by its cover, a lot of times that’s the only reason that a potential reader picks up a book. Since you’ve written quite a few novels and even self-published, what are some things that an author should consider when either creating their own cover or picking out of a publisher’s provided selection?
WTB: The Cover is HUGELY important, especially now. My biggest advice here is: be professional. Use a pro artist (Like Caleb Havertape!) and don’t skimp. Also, make sure that the composition of your cover looks good at small scale too. Think: thumbnail pic. In today’s ebook market, that little pic may be the only thing the reader sees. If it looks cool small, readers will click to see it big. If it looks cool big, reader may just buy it.
KP: Tell us a little bit about your new book series, Dreamtreaders. Can we expect to see some more of your familiar medieval fantasy flair, or will this series take a new direction like your new GHOST series?
WTB: Dreamtreaders is a modern dream fantasy, so it’s not medieval per se. The central thought is: what if dreams were more than they seem, that we could travel into them and have control over certain elements? And what if there was something sinister in our dreams, the dark force behind nightmares? What if that force wanted into the waking world, what then? Who would defend us? Seriously, the Dreamtreaders series will blow your mind with imagination. Book 3 in the series, War for the Waking World, will release this October. Get all three at the same time so that you won’t have to wait!
KP: Late last year you wrote The Black Wood for your readers for Christmas that included an epilogue to the final book of The Door Within and also a short story about Nock and Mallik. What was it like getting back into that universe after writing so many other stories since The Door Within trilogy had been completed?
WTB: Very nostalgic. I love those old characters. It’s fun to roll with them once more and, honestly, they have so many more adventures. There are always more adventures…
KP: How has your career as a teacher influenced your writing? Is there any insight that you have gained especially from being around kids and working with them daily that has helped you with writing?
WTB: 25 years of teaching middle school has given me immeasurable insight about the way kids think, their motives, hopes, fears, dreams, etc. One thing I’ve learned is that kids are MUCH MORE perceptive than most adults give them credit for being. I won’t ever dumb down a novel. Kids are smart. Kids are deep. So I need to write that way.
KP: Authors have been known to do some crazy things, not limited to staying up all night to meet deadlines and dressing up as characters and reading to kids. What is one of the craziest things you’ve ever done in the name of writing, and what is one of your most fond memories related to writing?
WTB: I would need to write a novel to answer this question. But I will share this anecdote. When Christopher Hopper and I were writing the Berinfell Prophecies series, we often met for what we termed “Writer’s Bootcamp Weekend.” We book a hotel and just write all weekend long. That can get a little silly at times. At one point, we were both BURNT TOAST mentally. I was flummoxed over a character name, and I think Christopher had revised the same paragraph about 90 times. I began searching “fantasy name generators” online. These are sites that take 1000s of random name or traits and shuffle them randomly. Occasionally, you’ll get something cool, but most of the time, you get hilarious nonsense. I kept clicking the “shuffle” buttons to get new combinations, and it seemed like the more I clicked, the more ridiculously funny the combinations became. Christopher and I were quite literally rolling around clutching our stomachs with the pain-of-laughter. But the crescendo came when once I clicked and the generator gave me: Flatulent barrister gnome! That just killed us. We kept imagining these garden gnomes cutting the cheese and flying around in circles. I know, I know: real mature, right? But you have to understand: 1) we are guys 2) we were completely exhausted and 3) that stuff is funny!
Check out Wayne Thomas Batson’s books on audible.com!
Wayne Thomas Batson has spent the last fifteen years teaching Reading and English to middle schools students. He pioneered the active instruction of Strategic Reading in Anne Arundel County and has written Reading and English Curricula for Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, and Howard County Public Schools. Most recently, he helped develop the Challenge Reading Curriculum for advanced readers in Howard County, Maryland.
Wayne Thomas Batson lives in Eldersburg with his beautiful wife of eleven years and his four wonderful young children. Besides dividing his time between family, teaching, and writing, he likes to read, golf, play PS2, travel to the beach, play electric guitar, and create 3D artwork.
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Stop by next Monday for the next episode of Kingdom Pen Radio, until then,
Keep writing for Christ,
The KP Team
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