Author: Sierra

Teaching Freedom

Arthur Blakeney hated September. He didn’t despise fall’s arrival, or his students’ return to his one-room schoolhouse, or even the picking of apples and pumpkins. He once welcomed all these changes and more, but now they evoked dread instead of pleasure. The annual Honor Ceremony fell smack in the middle of that awful month, and as the schoolmaster of Gribleyton, he was compelled to give a lesson on the reason for the occasion. And that was enough to make him avoid flipping his calendar long after August had passed. But every year September arrived despite Arthur and his students’...

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Should a Christian Ghostwrite?

Who do you suppose wrote this article? If you’re a loyal, observant reader of Kingdom Pen (as you should be) your answer will probably be: “Sierra Ret, obviously. It says so at the top.” But in the age of superfluous digital-content creation, a byline might not be as authentic as you expect. If I were a less ethical writer (and our editor-in-chief less picky about whom he hires), this article could be ghostwritten. Ghostwriting is typically defined as writing for another who is the presumed or credited author, and the practice has a long tradition. Presidential speeches, for instance....

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How to Develop Realistic Sci-Fi Technology

On the surface, sci-fi is one of the easiest genres to define: stories involving speculative science. But the word speculative has deeper connotations than you might think. When authors incorporate as-of-yet uninvented technology into their stories, they are speculating answers to different what ifs. What if people had the ability to indefinitely extend their lifetimes? What if the government had to completely restructure itself to deal with the changing population demographic? What if certain religious groups rejected the artificial life extensions and suffered persecution for continuing to procreate, which the rest of society worries could lead to overpopulation? Sci-fi...

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Beyond the Evil Overlord: Three Dynamic Character Arcs for Villains

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a hero in possession of reasonable talents and good looks must be in want of an arch nemesis.” Although the above statement is nothing more than a bad Jane Austen paraphrase, every writer knows that a story is vapid without a villain. Without darkness, how will the light shine through? No one can test, provoke, or push the hero to reach his full potential the way a villain can. In all likelihood, without the villain, the hero would still be a poor moisture farmer in a planetary backwoods. But even though we recognize...

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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...

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