• The Writer


    Hello! My name is Laura, welcome to my blog! I write weird stories, collect dragon plushies and stay up too late with my nose in a book. I am a wife, mom and child saved by grace. My hope is that you find encouragement here or at least a smile or too.
    God bless!

  • “Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book that it may be for the time to come forever and ever.”
    ~Isaiah 30:8.

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  • Quotes

    We have come from God, and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God. Indeed only by myth-making, only by becoming 'sub-creator' and inventing stories, can Man aspire to the state of perfection that he knew before the Fall. Our myths may be misguided, but they steer however shakily towards the true harbour, while materialistic 'progress' leads only to a yawning abyss and the Iron Crown of the power of evil.
    ~J.R.R. Tolkien

    "The only just literary critic," he concluded, "is Christ, who admires more than does any man the gifts He Himself has bestowed."
    ~J.R.R. Tolkien

    “Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisioned by the enemy, don't we consider it his duty to escape?. . .If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we're partisans of liberty, then it's our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!”
    ~J.R.R. Tolkien

    "Writers who see by the light of their Christian faith will have, in these times, the sharpest eye for the grotesque, for the perverse, and for the unacceptable. To the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost-blind you draw large and startling figures."
    ~Flannery O'Connor

    You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what’s burning inside you. And we edit to let the fire show through the smoke.
    ~Arthur Polotnik

    Words - so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.
    ~Nathaniel Hawthorne

    "There are forms of insanity that condemn people to hear voices against their will, but as writers we invite ourselves to hear voices without relinquishing our hold on reality or our right to control."
    ~Writing Fiction by Janet Burroway

    Christians have sometimes been suspicious of stories, because they really can influence you. If you read the Twilight novels once a month for a year, I think you'd be a different human afterward—and not a sparkly one.
    ~Nate Wilson

Magic & Fantasy: Part 2 – Good vs. Evil

art by Alan Lee

art by Alan Lee

One thing I love about fantasy is the ability to show the battle between Good and Evil in a more vivid and clear way.  In fantasy there are shinning heroes vs. great monsters, hobbits vs. dark lords, light vs. darkness, etc.  Fantasy allows you to show Good and Evil in a form everyone can easily recognize.  As a Christian, I want to tell stories that show the stark contrast between light and dark, freedom and slavery, death and salvation, fantasy allows me to do this as no other genre does.

A Light in the Dark

One problem I’ve seen in a lot of modern Christian fiction is their stories are “light on light”.  The writer’s are trying to show the light of Christ in an already light environment.  When you light a candle in an already bright room it makes no difference.  (This is true for more than just Christian fiction.)  In order to show the beautiful light of God’s grace and love, you have to show the ugly blackness of men’s hearts and the consequence of sin.  (Tolkien did this beautifully in The Lord of the Rings.  He understood the corruption of men’s hearts and show’s it with their desire to possess the One Ring, the very symbol of evil.)  Christ died a very ugly, brutal death for us on the cross, without such a sacrifice salvation for the world would be impossible.  In fiction, if there isn’t darkness, the light will have no impact.  Without the destruction caused by the Dark Lord, the beauty of the Shire and Rivendelle wouldn’t seem as peaceful and bright or worth protecting.

We Can’t Ignore Evil

There is evil in this world, and we are fighting a war with it.  Fantasy is perfect for showing us that war.  It shows us our enemies and, The One who is the ultimate victor.  I believe it’s important, especially in Christian fiction, to show people the darkness so they can better understand and appreciate the light.  You can’t tell someone they need salvation, without telling them why.  You have to reveal the sin, evil and lies in order for grace, good and truth to become relevant and important.  You can’t ignore evil in fiction, just like you can’t ignore it in real life.  It’s there, it “stalks around like a lion seeking whom it may devour.”  As Christians we have spiritual armor for a reason.  We’re in a war with evil, and fantasy is the genre that can depict that war in every detail.

Exaggerated Illusions

Fiction is the illusion of reality and with illusions you can exaggerate.  We can better understand reality through these illusions because they are meant to teach us.  I love this quote by Flannery O’Conner;

“Writers who see by the light of their Christian faith will have, in these times, the sharpest eye for the grotesque, for the perverse, and for the unacceptable. To the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost-blind you draw large and startling figures.”

Those “large and startling figures” get people’s attention, and once you have their attention and have shown them the darkness, you can slowly turn on the lights and chase the shadows away.  In fantasy, not only can you show the exaggerated illusion of reality to better understand reality, you can show the illusion of the spiritual, to better understand the spiritual.  That’s another reason why I like fantasy, because of the higher level of spiritual.  That’s why you have magic and unearthly creatures.  Fantasy is a spiritual genre (more on that to come), hence, the battle between good and evil is so clear and vivid.

In a nut shell… a light in a bright room makes no difference.  A light in a dark room changes everything.

Missed part 1?  Just click the title! Magic and Fantasy: Part 1 – Overview 

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Magic & Fantasy: Part 1 – Overview

art by John Howe

art by John Howe

As fantasy grows in popularity and people become enthralled with stories such as Harry Potter and Twilight, Christians become more and more suspicious of the fantasy genre as a whole.  Stories with wizards, witches, dragons and magic have been labeled as secular and evil.  I understand why a lot of Christians are cautious about fantasy and letting their kids read/watch it, but I don’t agree with the modern stereotype that’s been applied to it.

Fantasy is not evil no more than rap or pop music is evil, the problem is how it is used.  Most Christians dismiss fantasy because it has magic, but (and here’s a bomb shell for you) magic is not the issue.  Now don’t freak out, just stay with me.

NOTE:  Every section will be expanded on in it’s own post.

Spirit-ism and Fantasy/Blurred Lines

Fantasy is not real life, the rules are different, the way the world works is different.   One big difference is the boundaries of the spiritual realm.  In fantasy the lines between the physical and spiritual are blurred or none existent (hence, there is magic or “miraculous” powers in said world).  Because of this you can show the battle between good and evil more clearly, through a bigger picture.

Writers who see by the light of their Christian faith will have, in these times, the sharpest eye for the grotesque, for the perverse, and for the unacceptable. To the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost-blind you draw large and startling figures. ~Flannery O’Connor

I’ve noticed a lot of Christians are uncomfortable talking about or getting into the spiritual.  Sure we talk about being spiritual and the good spiritual creatures (angels), but when it comes down to the spiritual, that’s a different topic all together.  There is a good and bad side to the spirit realm and most of the time we only remember the bad.

The Rules are Different

Fantasy doesn’t really work without magic. Magic is to fantasy what science is to science fiction. The magic is what makes it a fantasy, just like futuristic science is what makes a science fiction. I tried writing my first fantasy without magic because it bothered me, but it didn’t work. It was incomplete and nothing fit together properly. Now, eight years later I’m rewriting it with magic. Finally the puzzle of the story is fitting together because I have the missing pieces.
Magic in a fantasy world IS NOT the magic in the real world. It may be modeled after it, (another reason why we are so leery of it) but it is not the same. The point of a fantasy is that it is not real. It’s in a different world with different rules. Usually this other world magic is a power that flows through every living thing. Magic is that worlds science. In science when you mix baking soda and vinegar together it creates a chemical reaction, in other world magic, when you combine words with elements, you get a “magical chemical reaction”. (A cheesy example, but you get the idea.)
When you put magic in the real world, that’s when the rules change. It is no longer other worlds magic that doesn’t actually exist, it’s real world magic. There is an evil power in this world, there are real witches and wizards and they are not good. Real world magic is a force, as Christians we should avoid. (There are exceptions when it is stated that the “magical abilities” of the character comes from God.)

Context is Important

Context is what makes all that difference when dealing with magic in fantasy. Real world or other world, good guy or bad guy. Context matters. Even the context of where the magic comes from. For example, in The Lord of the Rings wizards are beings known as Istari or Maia spirits in human form, sent from Valinor (the Undying Lands) to protect the children of Middle-Earth (or the Children of Eru aka God) from the Dark Lord Melkor. Symbolically, they are angels in mortal form there to protect God’s creation from great evil. For those of you who are familiar with The Lord of the Rings, Sauron is an Istari, but one that chose to follow the fallen Melkor, what does that sound like?

Magic and Spiritual Power

God’s power is “magic”. At least magic as we might interpret. His power described often as “supernatural” or “miraculous”, could be properly labeled as magic.
Magic in fantasy is in basic terms the ability to harness spiritual energy to complete a task. Magic is a spiritual power and because there is both good and evil in the spiritual there is good and evil magic users.

NOTE: I just want to say that I am not supporting or advocating for the practice of magic. I AM NOT. This blog series is about magic in Christian Fantasy (literature), a Other World setting, NOT about magic in the real world or it’s use.

Want to read the rest of the series?  SUBSCRIBE! so you don’t miss any!

Click here for part 2 —>  Good vs. Evil

Plot Change

I have finally written a synopsis for Heart of Hope’s new plot.  (For some reason writing a synopsis for this book has always been difficult.)

After sitting on the shelf for over two years it’s back out.  I started this book at fifteen and finished it at eighteen and it had a lot of growing up to do.  I fought with it on and off for a year or so until I finally had to shelf it, and honestly, it was the best thing I could do for it.  Now, nine years after it’s creation, Heart of Hope is growing up.   I’ve grown and matured as a writer and as a person.  I have more experience and a bit more practice since then and I’m hoping this rewrite does the trick.

Slowly but surely it’s moving from cliched first book to an adventure fantasy I’d actually want to read.  Hurry for progress!

Anywho…here is the new working synopsis.  Whatchya think?

In a land ruled by humans, elves and dwarves are looked down on as “lesser races”. If you are anything but full human, you are nothing. Avalyn is a half-elf. Her and her mother Rhea struggle to survive in a world that sees them as tainted. When Rhea is arrest and taken as a dept-slave, Avalyn does everything she can to buy her mother’s freedom.

The King of Barita is not content with the human realm, he want’s it all. Allied with an ancient power, he launches a war against the elven and dwarven kingdoms. With the dwarven kingdom crumbling, all he needs is someone of elven blood to bring him the key to the elf’s downfall and Arcana will be his.

Avalyn is given a chance to win her mother’s freedom and pay all depts, but can she betray a people who make up half of what she is? Can she see past a web of lies and see she is not what has been branded on her? Will she discover the truth before it’s too late and if so, will she accept it?

 

P.S.  Posts coming soon!

“It’s Okay to Walk Away”

“Letting Your Story Grow”

When Plans are Interrupted

I had planned to write a page a day of one or both of my current stories.  I had planned to pump out a chapter a week, but, writing is an unpredictable craft and sometimes, what you plan on writing just doesn’t work out.

The first chapters of both my stories (the rewrite and the rough draft) were going very well.  I was excited, enthusiastic, but things took a turn.

Plot holes.

Gaps.

Unanswered “why’s” connecting “what’s”.

I’ve learned from past experience, it’s not a good a idea for me to continue in a story with sketchy filler just to get from point A to point B.  The rewriting and editing becomes an extremely painful headache when I do and it takes forever to figure out.  So now when that happens, I have to stop, answer those questions, figure out the probabilities, fill in the gaps, follow a logical plot path, and then move on.

I have reach this point with BOTH my stories.

Heart of Hope is a mess, and that’s putting it lightly.  It was my first book and I used every DO NOT and cliche in existence.  There are a lot of holes.  The plot looks like Swiss cheese.  It’s come a long way, but I still have several unanswered questions and events that don’t quite make sense.  So it’s back to the drawing board.

My second (or fourth book…) book (WIP title Wren Fletcher), I’m beginning to think I rushed into writing it too soon.  Again, plot holes, gaps, more messes I don’t want to fix in editing.

This can be beyond frustrating, not to mention discouraging.  But it happens, and I’m trying to reconcile myself to it.  I’m still learning as a writer.  I’m still learning how I write, what works for me and what doesn’t.  It’s a long and hard process.  (I’m beginning to wonder if I will ever have a book to set before a publisher…)

So, what am I going to do about it?  I’m going to keep filling up pages of my notebook with plot hole fillings, outlines, and “what happens next” notes.  I am also going to lose myself in a new fantasy trilogy* (well, new to me) that my husband highly recommended I read.  (He told me it’s very inspiring, here’s hoping it will pull an idea out.)

Even though I really just want to have a publishable book done, this experience has not been without it’s lessons.  It’s shown me my weaknesses in development, what I need to focus more on before I start writing a rough draft.  I’ve learned what doesn’t work for me.  It’s proven my tendency to be scatter brained and not think something through in enough detail.   I am not a seat of pants writer, I need to have all the important details mapped out before I start writing.

It’s long, tedious, and at times I feel like tossing the pages to the wind, but I know all this will pay off in the end.  All I can do is keep writing.   

What projects are you working on that feel like they’re never going to be finished?  What have they taught you?  Any lessons of your own to share?

 

*If you really want to know it’s the Obsidian Trilogy by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory

Heart of Hope’s Draft III Beginning

I’m very excited about draft III of Heart of Hope so I had to share the first scene.  For those of you who have read drafts I and II, you’ll see that  HoH is finally growing up. 🙂

How had it come to this? Knees and hands in the dirt, her arm stinging from the strike of a whip, Avalyn watched the cart holding her mother roll away.
Tears streaking her face, Rhea gazed back.  Unable to raise her hand, bound to the cart she called out to her daughter,
“Stay free!”
Her cry was met with the back of a soldiers hand to her face.
“No!”  Avalyn pushed herself to her feet and ran after the cart.
“Stay clear.”  The mounted soldier holding the whip warned, but Avalyn didn’t care.
“Let her go!”  Avalyn reached for the cart.  The braided leather of the whip met her hand, wrapping it around her wrist.  Yanked away Avalyn once again found herself in the dirt of the road.
“I said stay back!”  The whip fell again.  As it fell across her back, Avalyn screamed.  It fell again, and again. Finally it stopped.
“Let that be a lesson to you not to mess in the affairs of the Lord Regent.”
The whip cracked over her head, echoing in her ears.  As she watched the soldiers and the cart disappear down the road Avalyn sobbed.  Her back throbbed and she felt warm blood beginning to soak her dress.  Tears blurred her vision, her sobs racking her body but it only mad the pain in her back worse.
She was suddenly aware of the people watching her.  Villagers gathered to observe the spectral.  She tried to rise to her feet and stumbled.  Someone caught her.
“Av,” Avalyn looked up into the face of her cousin, Esten.   “I’m sorry.”  His shaggy blond hair shadowing his brown eyes.  He placed her arm over his shoulder, supporting her weight.  She hung her head and let Esten carry her away.

Heart of Hope Born Again

It’s happened.  My first novel Heart of Hope has been pulled off the shelf after almost three years of sitting.  I’ve blown off the dust and cracked open the pages and ever so slowly, new things are taking shape.

A few weeks ago my mind brought it up again, turning over ideas for changes, fixes for plot wholes I couldn’t figure out then.  It took a while, but Heart of Hope is finally growing up and maturing into something I can work with.  It’s going to be a different book when I’m done with it, but with the same people, same ideals, same places, and the same story.  (Same song different tune if you will.)

The plot has changed.  Two (soon to be three) characters have new names, and there’s a new twist in events.  I’m excited about it again. 🙂

I think I have my work cut out for me.  I’m sitting on Choices for a while, developing a new world, outlining/writing two stories set in that world, editing Heart of Hope again, and, working on an epic story with my husband.  Few!  Believe it or not, that’s how I keep myself writing, lots of projects at one time.  Keeps my mind in the writing mode. 😉  (Plus I get to world jump.  Who wouldn’t want to do that!)

There you have it, my latest writing update.

Until next time… may the Force be with you, stay out of the shadows, aim to misbehave and never meddle in the affairs of dragons.

The Beginning

Twelve likes and one comment… I guess I can go ahead and post that sneak peek. 😉

 

*     *     *

Ephraim

 

Still born.  Ephraim stared at the maid who held his son.  His dead son.

“My Lord…” She didn’t look Ephraim in the eye, but stood holding the still bundle of blood stained swaddling clothes concealing the boy.

“Kathryn.”

The maid looked up.

“What’s wrong with Kathryn?”

A woman’s scream broke out from behind the drapes leading to the bed chamber.  The maid, still holding the lifeless child, hurried back into the room.  More cries and screams filled the chamber, then… the cry of a babe.  Ephraim pushed back the drapes and stepped into the room.  Kathryn, his wife, lay on the massive canopy bed, her face slick with sweat and her eyes closed.  The physician turned to Ephraim, holding a live baby girl.  He gave Ephraim a faint smile.

“Twins my Lord.  Your wife has given you twins.”

The child was covered in blood, her face contorted in an aching cry.

Ephraim didn’t acknowledge, but rushed to his wife’s side.  He knelt by the bedside and took her hand.

“Kathryn.”

She didn’t respond.

“Hector,” Ephraim spoke to the physician.  “Hector!”

In an instant, Hector was at his side.

“What is wrong?”

It was a moment before he answered.  “I am sorry my Lord.  We were not prepared for the second child, it was too much.  Something was torn, she is bleeding and I cannot stop it.”

Ephraim gripped his wife’s hand.  No.  God, You cannot take her from me.

He rose to his feet and leaned over her.  Reaching out, he gently stroked her wet forehead then kissed it, breathing in her scent.  She still smelled of mint, like the day they first met.

“Kathryn,” he whispered.  “My Kathryn.”

There was a flutter of movement under her eyelid.  Slowly, she opened them.

“My Ephraim,” she whispered back, a small smile on her lips.  Ephraim tried to smile back.

“The children,” she continued in a faint voice. “Our children… Ephraim?”

Ephraim glanced at Hector.  The physician nodded, “She, the child lives me Lady.”

“She…” Kathryn breathed out. “Our daughter….the other?”

“A son,” Ephraim responded before Hector could say a word.

“A son… Ephraim,” she took a shaky breath.  “What shall we call them?”

“Whatever you want my love.”  Ephraim stroked her forehead with his thumb.

“Wrenna and Aaron.” she whispered after a moment.  “You…you choose the rest.”

“Kristine and… Walter.  Kristine for her mother and, Walter for my father.  How is that my love?”

“Wrenna Kristine and Aaron Walter Fulton.”  Kathryn smiled.  “Fine names.”

He nodded.

“Ephraim?”

“Yes?”

She whispered something, so softly, he couldn’t hear her.   He leaned in closer.

“I love you.”

A tear slid down his face.  He laid his hand on her cheek and kissed her.

“I love you too.”

(Copyright L.E.R. Jenkins 2013)

Writing Again

A couple weeks ago I wrote the opening to my next novel.  After almost a year of writing nothing new and months of battling Writer’s Block it feels SO GOOD to be writing again!  (And I have to say, I’m in love with this opening.)  I can’t wait to completely immerse myself in this new world and follow this set of characters on their journey.  It’s going to be epic, at least in my humble opinion. 😉

Anyone want a sneak peek of the opening? Let me know by liking this post or leaving a comment!

Night of Shadows

My fiancé’s book is being published!  =D

(Click the link and check out the post on his blog.)

Night of Shadows.

Confessions of a Frazzled Writer

crumpled-paperI believe it’s about time I gave you all a writing update… so, here we go.

First off, Choices, Chances and Aeden book 3.

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about those books and their future.  I’ve been trying to write Chances and edit Choices, and well, they just were not working.  After much thought, mental argument and frustration, I came to a conclusion I really didn’t like.  I need to re-write Choices completely and shelve the other two books.  Why am I doing such a thing?  I shall explain.

Choices is a book that is very dear and close to my heart.  It is also a very personal book and flowed very naturally when I wrote it.  Chances and Book 3 are not.  Because of how close this story and these characters are to me, it wouldn’t be right for me to force it out just for the sake having more books.  Honestly, I just can’t do that.  So for now, Choices will be a stand alone book.  Will it be like that forever?  Honestly, I hope not, that’s really up to the characters and whether a natural plot line presents itself.

As for re-writing Choices

For one, I was 16 when I wrote it.  I have grown and matured a lot as a person and as a writer since then, and the book really hasn’t.  My awesome critique group at the OYAN Summer Workshops really helped me see this.  Those sessions were very eye opening to me about the story.  I’ve grown up since Kate first met Terren, and now it’s time for them and their story to grow up as well.  So as of right now, I am going to start all over, re-outline and everything.  It took me a while to finally admit to myself I needed to do this, but, I figured if Tolkien, Bryan Davis can do it, so can I.  I truly believe this is what the book needs and the story will be better for it.  Wish me luck!

In other news, I am in the midst of creating a brand new fantasy world.  This world will include two new races, Asian unicorns, multiple dragon breeds (it’s not cool without dragons 😉 ), and (hopefully) a rich and vast history.  Right now I am working on some sort of a naming language for it.  (A much more daunting task than I first imaged, for I am no Professor Tolkien.)  So far I have at three stories I plan on setting in this new world, quite possibly more.  What’s it’s name you ask?  Well, it doesn’t have one, not yet.

Well, that’s it.   Right now I’m in the midst of wedding planning and not doing much writing.  Hopefully I will be back at it after the exciting event this fall and after I am settled in Oklahoma. 🙂

Blessings!

~Laura

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