A New Focus for 2017

As we beckon in 2017, we prepare ourselves for tragic misadventures that all start with last-minute New Year’s resolutions:

“I’m going to write ten novels in 2017!”a_new_focus_for_2017

“I’m going to write the next [insert favorite work of literature here]!”

“I’m going to stop overusing parentheses (because it gets annoying when you basically could have started a new sentence)!”

It is hard to fulfill New Year’s resolutions (I am my own case in point). Perhaps the main reason we have so many tragic misadventures each year is because we have not yet developed the skills and habits needed to accomplish our resolutions. The good news is that all of us at Kingdom Pen are gearing up to give you the skills and habits you need to achieve your writing-related goals (except maybe the one about parentheses—you’re on your own there, unless you wish to plead for help on the forum).

Where to Get the Skills

Each month we try to center our articles, short stories, and poetry around a Monthly Topic (formally known as Monthly Themes). Since many of you will be interested in writing something to fit those topics, we are making the list for 2017 available for your viewing and planning pleasure here. Challenging yourself by focusing your writing on a certain topic can help you become a better writer. Just ask Josiah DeGraaf, author of “Why Everything in Your Story Must Tie into Your Theme.”

In addition to our Monthly Topics, we are going to concentrate heavily on understanding theme, which is an important topic or idea that the moral aspect of a story addresses. Are you confused? Let’s unpack this a bit.

An Important Topic or Idea

I believe a story should revolve around a single topic or idea (and I think a few notable authors would back me up). Even Charles Dickens’s 135,420-word masterpiece, A Tale of Two Cities, has a core theme: resurrection and transformation. Even with all of the wonderful characters and plot twists, ideas and sub-themes, Dickens ties everything together through a central theme and creates a powerful story that leaves an impression on readers.

Notice that the theme is simple. It is not even a full sentence. It is meant to be abstract because everything in the story flows into or out from it. Theme is a subject on which you have an opinion, and your story is your opinion playing out in someone else’s life.

The Moral Aspect

According to John Truby, author of The Anatomy of Story, “Theme may be the most misunderstood of all major aspects of storytelling… Theme is the author’s view of how to act in the world. It is your moral vision.” Say your theme is love. We all know there are right and wrong ways to love and even an opposite of love (hate). But what is the “right” way to love someone? Hopefully that is what your story will dive into. Your characters will likely face moral choices that all pivot on the central theme of love. You will give different characters opposing views on how to love and that will put them at odds with one another, causing tension. Meanwhile, you, the writer, will be displaying a number of ways to love, and in the end it will be clear which one is “right.”

As Christians, the Scriptures inform our moral vision. The only way you will see the world correctly is through the lens of the gospel and God’s Word made flesh (Jesus alive in you). Thus, it is imperative that we ground ourselves in THE Word before we attempt to tell others how to live.

Story

If you are like me, you long to share what you know and care about with others. For writers, this often takes the form of a story. We write to express who we are and what we believe, but we don’t want to shove our views down people’s throats. So we decide to compose a story. Unsure where to start, we look to the great allegories of our childhood like The Chronicles of Narnia. But soon we realize that storytelling is more than making up fanciful creatures and recreating our own version Narnia.

Everything we write should have a heavy focus on theme because it is the heart of storytelling. Without it, a story can feel disjointed, preachy, or even meaningless. It is impossible to sum up the importance and complexities of using theme in storytelling in one article. Thus, we are going to concentrate our efforts on increasing your Mastery of Theme throughout 2017. Watch out for more articles on theme to be published here in the upcoming year.

Teaser News: A Writing Course is Coming!

In closing, I have the pleasure of heralding the following news: we will be releasing our first ever Kingdom Pen writing course this summer. It will be a chance for you to advance your writing to a new level as we guide you deeper into Theme Mastery. That’s all I can reveal for now, but I will also give you this hot tip (because no one said I couldn’t): a limited beta release of the course will probably be announced on the forum, so be sure to check there often in the coming weeks.

Remember, your best hope for completing your New Year’s resolutions is acquiring more writing skills and habits. So be sure to habitually visit us at Kingdom Pen so we can help you become more resolute!

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.

Staff Changes at Kingdom Pen

Welcome, KeePers! When we posted about our new writing interns and director of marketing several weeks back, we thought that would be all the changes to the Kingdom Pen team for a while, but apparently God had different plans.

staffannouncementAs most of you probably know from our previous posts, our illustrious editor-in-chief Reagan Ramm and amazing editor Haley Long are currently engaged to be married! With marriage, however, comes many new responsibilities, which have pulled our two core members away from their work at Kingdom Pen.

In their absence, editor Josiah DeGraaf has stepped up to be the next editor-in-chief of Kingdom Pen. Reagan and Haley will still be involved as part of the newly formed “Kingdom Pen Board,” and they hope to be able to return in a more active role sometime in the future. In the meantime, though, Josiah will be assuming Reagan’s position of leading the team as we continue to put out great content for you all. We have a lot of cool plans laid out already for the upcoming year, and we’re excited to begin showing them to you.

We’d also like to take this opportunity to introduce two new team members to the staff.

Brianna Storm Hilvety is our new copy editor and assistant graphics designer! Brianna has actually been working with the team for a couple months now, but somewhere along the way we forgot to announce her position. *Cough, cough* She copyedits all the posts that appear on the website (which is why you may have noticed an improvement on that front lately) and she also helps to create some of the beautiful graphics that accompany our articles and the quote images we post on Facebook.

Hannah Carmichael is our new editor-in-training! Hannah has been Haley’s apprentice for the past few months and will be transitioning into taking over the editor role from Haley by the end of this year. She will be reviewing all poetry submissions with Mackenzie and uploading the majority of the content (articles, poems, short stories, etc.) to the website.

You can read Brianna’s and Hannah’s bios below.

Brianna Storm Hilvety

Processed with RookieBrianna Storm Hilvety 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.

By the age of twelve, she had devoured several books about the writing industry, could wield a thesaurus with deadly skill, and knew how to format a manuscript for submission to a publisher. During high school, she authored columns in two small Christian periodicals and won an assortment of short story and essay contests. In 2011, she composed a three-part treatise for Homeschool Enrichment Magazine that described the lessons she’d learned while tinkering with two fantasy novels (which still have not been developed or refined to her satisfaction).

After suffering a debilitating case of writer’s block, she struggled with guilt that her own perfectionism was hindering her from fulfilling her calling. But then God placed people in her life who needed her aid in polishing their manuscripts for the cause of Christ, and she realized that her weakness could become a strength if it were channeled differently. Now 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 on the staff of Castle Gate Press and Kingdom Pen magazine.

As a homeschool graduate and an introvert, she is an independent thinker who is not afraid to express her opinions—provided it’s on paper. 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. To explore Brianna’s realm, visit: www.TheLiteraryCrusader.com

Hannah Carmichael

Hannah Carmichael dreams of a world where she can be fully paid to work from home with her three cats and a jar of Nutella, all while wearing her pajama pants.

Hannah is delusional; don’t be like Hannah.

All joking aside and the Lord willing, she hopes to someday be a published author and kick off a fabulous career as a freelance illustrator to glorify God and bless those around her.

Most of her days are spent helping to homeschool her siblings, reading, and editing her two novels in the making.

Although born in Florida, Hannah far prefers her home in Indiana where she lives with her large family and amazing OTP parents. (That she ships very strongly.)

Because of all the awesome support her family and friends provide, someday she may even be famous! Or, at the very least, you might pass her on the street while exiting McDonald’s, but that’s close enough, isn’t it?

If you like, you can follow Hannah on Instagram where she frequently posts her art under the code name watersnail1.
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Finally, we want to thank all of you for following us the past several years and for participating in the Kingdom Pen community! We love the work we do and are excited to be taking these next steps!

Writing Team Update

After much ado from engagements to interviews, ladies and gentlemen, we present your Fall Writing Team Interns and Kingdom Pen’s newest permanent staff member, the Director of Marketing. Prepare to unleash your best barbaric yawp in greeting these fine folks who will serve on the front lines of wordsmithing and kingdom expansion.writingteamupdate

’Twas a noble contest of great proportions. Many lances were splintered, and many inkwells emptied. In the end (and after significant deliberation), we crowned four victors, but for those knights and ladies not selected, we would like to remind you that there will be another opportunity to join the Kingdom Pen Writing Team in the spring! We are so proud of each of you who applied; it is truly overwhelming how much talent and passion the KP community has to offer!

So, today we invite you to lay down your battle axes and swords in favor of some appropriately nerdy confetti and goblets full of sparkling grape juice and welcome those who have been elected to serve the KeePer’s Kingdom. [Read more…]

A Long Love Story With Major Rammifications

At last, the final piece in this mysterious puzzle!bigrevealpost

But first. Let us honor the fallen who gave their lives in the comments section, waiting for this to be revealed.

 

 

[Insert moment]

 

 

[Insert silence]

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[Read more…]

Writing Team UPDATE

And now, the moment you’ve been waiting for…

The writing team results are…not in. Long story short (and we will be posting that long story later), we’ve had to delay announcing the selected tributes—we mean, interns—for the writing team and marketing director until further notice. First off, it’s really hard to choose when we’ve received a ton of awesome applications. Seriously, y’all killed it. But that, among a few other things, has led our selection committee to request extra time. Yeah, we have to take you up on that little word “tentative” in our writingteamupdateoriginal post and bump back the announcements for other announcements. Besides, this is America, and we do what we want. Let freedom ring and all that. That’s right; we’re rebels with a cause.

Now, before you go on a manhunt for the staff members with all those medieval weapons we know you own (Seriously, y’all, calm down with the long swords and revolvers, m’kay? It’s like you’re prepping for a revolt or something… Remember, Sarah and Laurel live in a doublewide cardboard box that is very mobile, so you shouldn’t even bother trying to track them down.), we will be announcing something very special around this time on Wednesday. No, not the results, but we promise it’ll be something almost as exciting. Well, for some of you, it may be more exciting than the results, but to avoid spoiling anything, we’ll just leave it at that (although you’re free to make your best guesses in the comments below). We also promise that the results will be announced as soon as we have them!

Until then, hang tight, hold your horses, and whatnot. We hate to KeeP(er) you waiting (Ba-Dum-Tsss), but again we assure you it’ll be well worth the wait when you do hear exactly what’s been going on around Kingdom Pen the past couple of weeks.

Sincerely,

The Kingdom Pen Staff

May Theme – Coming of Age

Hello Kingdom Pen!

May Theme Blank

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!

Lyric Writing Contest Results!

The lyrics have been written, the contest has been won, and now we are proud to present you with the final results of your efforts!! Tom and Jo recorded all three songs and they are right here for your pleasure! Let us know what you think.

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Also, don’t forget that KP Radio is open for submissions. As always any submission you have should be sent to the Kingdom Pen email: kingdompenmag@gmail.com If you have any questions feel free to ask! We always love hearing from you.

A Farewell From Kingdom Pen

Dearest community members,

 

It is with a heavy heart that I must inform you that Kingdom Pen has reached the end of its life. As of tomorrow, we will be shutting down the website and disbanding the team. We, as the staff, simply cannot continue on. Not only is time scarce due to many of being enrolled in college, but, we also have no money; many of us are working two or three jobs to make ends meet. pitfallsandstrengthspost-200x300 (2)

I’m sure you’ve noticed that the graphic for this post is somewhat lacking. Laurel went on strike earlier this morning after demanding payment for her services. The cookies just weren’t cutting it anymore. We also apologize for any errors in this article. Both our editors left a few minutes ago to go beg for food in exchange for publically correcting peoples’ grammar mistakes.

I hope my pirated internet connection will hold long enough for me to get this message through. I’m pretty sure the Jittery Joes people are going to notice the new cardboard box soon. It’s not a lot, of course, but its home. A little wet when it’s rainy, but not that bad after you get used to it.

We have really enjoyed our time together these last few years and wish you all the best.

 

Sincerely,

Your Now-Cardboard-Box-Indwelling Secretary Sarah

 

PS—Happy April Fool’s! But seriously, we really do depend on y’all to help us keep KP running. *cough* Swag yourself. *cough* Sorry, this weather is really getting to me. Cardboard boxes really breathe a lot, y’know?

Book Reviews Now Accepted!

The last page has been turned and the final sentence read. You have to tell someone about this amazing book; the whole world should know!

Today, Kingdom Pen is making that possible. KP isn’t global yet, but we are on the World Wide Web, which is close enough. Bookreviewspost

Book reviews can be difficult to write, but we’ve simplified the process just for you! One of our editors, the talented Josiah DeGraaf, has written up guidelines that doubles as a how-to for writing book reviews!

Once you’ve written up your stellar book review, simply put it in a Word document and email it to kingdompenmag@gmail.com with the subject line: “Book Review.”

We look forward to receiving your reviews!

KP Guide to Writing Book Reviews

Fiction Book Reviews

The goal of this guide is to give a general sense of direction for subscribers who want to write fiction book reviews to be published on Kingdom Pen. Book reviews should try to hit all of the different aspects included below, and preferably should follow the suggested format. But if you feel like the book review would work better with the elements below in a different sequence, reviews need not strictly follow the suggested sequence (although it is recommended).

Summary of the Book

Begin the review by describing what the book is about. A good way to do this would be to start with a one-to-two-sentence hook and then go on to explain what the book is about. Now, since this is a book review and not a book report, you don’t want to give away the whole plot of the book (don’t include any spoilers). Rather, you want to give a general idea of the book’s premise and what it’s about in order to entice people to read the book. One to two paragraphs would probably suffice for this section of the review.

If this book has won any awards or has been really popular, include this information at the end of the summary.

Review of the Book

Moving on to the actual review of the book, explain to the reader why this is a good book and why it is worth reading. For the book reviews that KP publishes, we prefer to only publish reviews of books that we’re actually recommending, so at this point in time, we’re not going to publish negative book reviews. However, if there are any weaknesses that you see in the book, please include a brief discussion of those weaknesses as well, since we do want to give a balanced review of the book. In listing the book’s strengths, try to include specific things in the book that you liked as well as general things, although of course you’ll want to avoid spoiling major plot developments in the book.

Since KP is focused on helping Christian writers to write well, a quick discussion of the book’s worldview, to whatever extent it’s present, would be appreciated. In addition to this, since KP is focused on helping Christian writers to write well, if there are specific aspects of the book that you think writers could learn from, please feel free to include some particular discussion of those aspects as well.

Content Advisory

If there are any parts of this book that you think might not be suitable for younger or less mature readers, please include that in this section of the review.

Nonfiction Book Reviews

The goal of this guide is to give a general sense of direction for subscribers who want to write nonfiction book reviews to be published on Kingdom Pen. Book reviews should try to hit all of the different aspects included below, and preferably should follow the suggested format. But if you feel like the book review would work better with the elements below in a different sequence, reviews need not strictly follow the suggested sequence (although it is recommended).

Summary of the Book

Begin the review by describing what the book is about.  A general explanation of the book’s thesis and the different points that the author makes would be good. You don’t need to be too specific because those sorts of descriptions are better sorted to the review portion. However, a general discussion of what the book is about would be good. One paragraph would probably suffice for this section of the review, but two paragraphs would be fine as well.

If this book has won any awards or has been really popular, include this information at the end of the summary.

Review of the Book

Moving on to the actual review of the book, explain to the reader why this is a good book and why it is worth reading. For the book reviews that KP publishes, we prefer to only publish reviews of books that we’re actually recommending, so at this point in time, we’re not going to publish negative book reviews. However, if there are any weaknesses that you see in the book, please include a brief discussion of those weaknesses as well, since we do want to give a balanced review of the book. In listing the book’s strengths, try to include specific parts of the book that you liked as well as general parts, and explain what specific lessons or applications you personally took from the book. When relevant, an explanation of the author’s specific arguments would be good, but try to avoid stating the author’s entire line of reasoning, since we do want the reader to read the book as well.

While nonfiction books don’t need to be explicitly focused on writing, since this is a website for writers, if this book is not explicitly on writing but you still see applications in the book for writers, please try to include that as well in the review.

Content Advisory

If there are any parts of this book that you think might not be suitable for younger or less mature readers, please include that in this section of the review.

-Josiah DeGraaf

October and November Themes

Ellohay Ingdomkay Enpay!

 

Here is your friendly reminder on the monthly writing themes coming up for Kingdom Pen.

 

October:

 

October Theme Post Graphic

This month we would like to post articles on gore and Darkness. No, we don’t want you sending us excessively gory and dark articles; rather, this month we would like to discuss where the line is. How much is too much? How dark is too dark? How much gore is too much?

 

We can’t wait to read what you have to say on this subject!

 

November: 

 

We are also including November’s theme in this update because we have changed it. Rather than dialogue, we would like to feature articles related to National Novel Writing Month. Have you attempted or completed NaNoWriMo before? What are some tips you could give to others attempting to make the feat?

November Theme Blank

We would love to be able to publish a bunch of encouraging articles concerning NaNo during the month of November to help inspire the Kingdom Pen community to persevere in their noble quest to write an entire novel in one month!

So if you have some advice, tips, or encouragement concerning NaNo, write those up and send those articles to us ASAP! This will ensure that we will be able to them scheduled in time for November to provide aid to Kingdom Pen’s writing warriors.

We can’t wait to read your submissions!