Skellig

Written by David Almond

                                                          skellig

“I thought he was dead. He was sitting with his legs stretched out and his head tipped back against the wall. He was covered with dust and webs like everything else and his face was thin and pale. Dead bluebottles were scattered on his hair and shoulders. I shined the flashlight on his white face and his black suit.”

Michael has reluctantly moved across town to a new house. His baby sister is very ill and his parents are devastated and distracted, leaving Michael depressed and without his old friends. Exploring the overgrown yard, he ventures into a dilapidated garage. He discovers, under cobwebs and dead insects, a strange creature that resembles a weak old man named Skellig. He is such a pathetic being that Michael starts to take care of him. When Michael meets a neighbour, Mina, and he introduces her to Skellig. They move the winged creature to a safer place and take care of him until he starts to gain strength. Michael wonders if Skellig is part angel. Desperately hoping his sister survives a heart operation, Michael tells the creature about her. During the baby’s operation, Michael is sure she has died, but the baby lives, and the mom describes a vivid dream she had in the hospital of a winged creature visiting the baby before the operation. Skellig disappears but the healthy baby arrives home and the family is whole again.

Pros: The cover attracted me first, but soon the lyrical prose drew me in to the characters and the mystery of what and who Skellig was. Was it human, bird, angel or all of the above? The book is very clearly written from a boy’s perspective and voice, and rings genuine. Michael’s family is going through a lot of tension with the baby’s illness, and the mental anguish they are all going through is palpable. But the theme of the power of love carries through to the very satisfying end.

Cons: Michael and Mina associated with this strange human-like creature and hid this fact from their parents, so parents of younger children would have to remind them to never talk to strangers.

Personal Opinion: This is a very well written book with mystery, good character development and suspense, but more than that, Skellig can appeal to both YA and MG readers on different levels. The adventure of finding a mysterious creature in a scary place would appeal to the younger crowd and the lyrical prose and deeper themes would appeal to the older crowd. Skellig has won two awards and was nominated for five more, so this should give readers an idea of how popular the book has been. And I would agree wholeheartedly with their assessments. I highly recommend this book.

Discussion points for parents and teachers:

MG:

  • There are many friendships. Find and discuss three.
  • Michael was very unhappy in the beginning. How did Skellig help him feel better?

YA:

  • Themes are recurrent in the book, like love and nurturing, connections, death, and spiritualism. Choose two and elaborate.
  • The lyrical prose is different from many books. Describe the difference.

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Interview with S.D. Grimm

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I’m interviewing S.D. Grimm on her debut release Scarlet Moon. Oh my goodness I loved this book. I had it on pre-order and started reading as soon as I ran in from the mailbox. It has perhaps one of the best opening scenes-ever. No spoilers.

I picked it up expecting to like it, I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did. The story world sucked me in and pulled me along on Jayden’s quest. The multiple points of view help us see the world from various angles. Ethan is probably my favorite character, but Ryan’s arc may be the most fascinating. I don’t like love triangles and had reservations about the connections between Jayden, Ryan, and Ethan. It’s not exactly a love triangle, so it works.

You can buy Scarlet Moon here:

Scarlet Moon on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Scarlet-Moon-Children-Blood-Book/dp/1683700503/

 

I had the privilege of interviewing S.D. Grimm and found out some interesting things about her. In Scriblerian fashion we ask for a fun picture, usually a “way back picture”. S.D.’s is more recent but features another author from the Scriblerian’s Wall of Fame, Kerry Nietz.

grimm-and-nietz

So when asked, Marvel or DC?

BOTH! (True too! I’ve seen pictures of S.D.’s customized Captain America Converse)

In what ways does your faith impact how you approach writing?

I think in the same way it impacts the way I approach life. It’s a living part of me, alive in everything I do. And I look at writing as a partnership with God. I hope he’s alive in my stories in a way I could never put him in there. I invite him to make himself a part of them in the only way he can—which is better than I could ever attempt to write him there on my own, I think.

How would you like to be remembered?

Wow. Going deep. I would love to be remembered as someone who showed love and let the light of Christ shine through her. As a writer, I’d like to be remembered as someone whose books—no matter how dark they got—always ended in hope.

Do you have a favorite Bible verse?

A few. One really good one is Micah 6:8 He has shown you, oh man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

When did you start writing?

In elementary school. I wasn’t serious about trying to get published until seven years ago, and that’s when I started writing Scarlet Moon.

What has your journey to finding an agent and the road to publication been like?

Hard. Crazy. The thing about this business is it’s not for the faint of heart. You better your craft all the time. You build your social media presence. You try to send the right work at the right time to the right people. You attempt to stay ahead of the curve without knowing where the curve is. You survive getting your heart broken again and again and again. You don’t give up. You make connections. Friends. Partners in writing who help and encourage you. You have fun. You learn a lot about writing and about yourself. And when something good happens and you take another step forward down this path, all those people celebrate with you. You find community. You work your heart out and wear it on the pages of your work. People will crumple it up, step on it, and some will even use it wipe the snot off their own faces. And then there will be those who feel what you’re trying to say. They’ll cherish it, and they’ll recommend that others read it. Some will misunderstand it. Others will get it. And still that journey—probably on the road less traveled—is just beginning.

What was your inspiration for writing Scarlet Moon?

I love animals. The novel I wrote prior to this one (which sits in a proverbial dark, secret drawer) was about animals. All the characters were animals. And one day I decided to get serious about publishing. Then I decided I was going to write about people. I still wanted animals to be a big part of the story so I chose to write about a race of people who can commune with nature. These people basically get certain talents or abilities from animals—and they reciprocate, giving animals certain abilities too. Then I researched some really cool animals, including mythological ones, and the story world really grew from there.

What did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?

To never give up. Sometimes things look bleak and impossible. Keep persevering.

What do you hope readers will take away from Scarlet Moon?

Persevere. And real love always protects, no matter the cost.

 

S.D. Grimm’s links and social media contacts

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/SDGrimm/

Twitter http://twitter.com/SDGrimmAuthor

Website, blog, and newsletter. http://sdgrimm.com

Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/SDGrimmAuthor/

Author Bio

SD Grimm.jpg

S. D. Grimm’s first love in writing is young adult speculative fiction. She is represented by Julie Gwinn of the Seymour Agency and her debut novel, Scarlet Moon, is slated to be published in October 2016. When she’s not writing or editing, Sarah enjoys reading (of course!), making clay dragons for her Grimmlies store on Etsy, practicing kickboxing and Brazilian jiu jitsu, training dogs, and doing anything outdoorsy with the family. Her office is anywhere she can curl up with her laptop and at least one large-sized dog.

How to Come Down from a Conference High

Tim, Lisa, Kathrese, & I just returned from Realm Makers. Next month a couple of others will be attending the ACFW conference. ‘Tis the (conference) season. So what do you do when you get home to come down from the conference high?

If you’re lucky, your firstborn will start football and junior high while your second born starts the “big kids'” elementary school. Bonus if it’s the junction of first of the month (status reports) and critical project milestones. Nothing like the outside world to pierce your enthusiasm like an arrow through a hot air balloon.

Even if your week is a bit nuts and especially if you have time to ease back in, do a few things to keep the spirit alive.

1. Post pictures on social media

You get to see the conference all over again. Also it allows you to tag people while your memory is fresh. This helps keep you in the loop.

2. Post highlights on social media

Same reason and purpose as above. If time is limited, set specific times or do this when you have down time.

3. Blog about it

Yes, everyone and their mascots will be writing them too. You may not get many views but then again you might. If nothing else, you have a record of your time there.

4. Make a to do list

Did you have appointments? If so, follow up with the materials each person requested. If the person you met with wasn’t interested, send a thank you anyway. They took their time to meet with you. It never hurts to be gracious.

Gather the business cards you received and enter them into your contacts list. Correspond with anyone who might not have your information. Organize your class notes.

You’re all rejuvenated and ready to write. Set goals and get to work. That’s why you spent the money to go.

Now I’m off to fill out permission slips and emergency contact forms.

Should Christians read Harry Potter?

Harry Potter

It’s the age-old question, or at least a question that’s been around since 1997: should Christians read Harry Potter?

We thought we had put the argument behind us when the 7th and final volume of the series released in 2007, but now an 8th book(ish) feature is coming on July 31 (which happens to be character Harry’s birthday).

Some Christians enjoy the series and see it as classic good vs evil. Magic and witchcraft in a biblical sense are associated with the occult, but magic in Harry’s world is not. In the frame of the series there are both good and bad wizards. Themes of friendship, loyalty, bravery, and self-sacrifice are packaged in a fun fantasy world.

Other Christians feel that the mention of wizards, witches, or magic preclude Christians from consorting with the books. They believe that in fantasy true power must point to God and His authority in whatever form it takes, such as a lion named Aslan. Metaphor must be direct and overt so that readers, especially young ones, will not be misled.

In actuality, this is an age old argument stemming from biblical times. In the past, the debate was over circumcision, or meat sacrifice to idols, or… So let’s look at Scripture, and for clarity let’s exchange eat for read and books for food.

Romans 14 (NLT)

Accept other believers who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. For instance, one person believes it’s all right to eat [read] anything. But another believer with a sensitive conscience will eat [read] only vegetables [CS Lewis]. Those who feel free to eat [read] anything must not look down on those who don’t. And those who don’t eat [read] certain foods [books] must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them. Who are you to condemn someone else’s servants? Their own master will judge whether they stand or fall. And with the Lord’s help, they will stand and receive his approval.

I know and am convinced on the authority of the Lord Jesus that no food [book], in and of itself, is wrong to eat [read]. But if someone believes it is wrong, then for that person it is wrong. 15 And if another believer is distressed by what you eat [read], you are not acting in love if you eat [read] it. Don’t let your eating [reading] ruin someone for whom Christ died. 16 Then you will not be criticized for doing something you believe is good.17 For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat [read] or drink [watch], but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too. 19 So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.

Don’t tear apart the work of God over what you eat [read]. Remember, all foods [books] are acceptable, but it is wrong to eat [read] something if it makes another person stumble.21 It is better not to eat meat [read Harry Potter] or drink wine [read 50 Shades of Grey] or do anything else if it might cause another believer to stumble. 22 You may believe there’s nothing wrong with what you are doing, but keep it between yourself and God. Blessed are those who don’t feel guilty for doing something they have decided is right. 23 But if you have doubts about whether or not you should eat [read] something, you are sinning if you go ahead and do it. For you are not following your convictions. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning.

emphasis mine


And another passage:

1 Corinthians 10 (ESV)

23 “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. 25 Eat [Read] whatever is sold in the meat market [on Amazon] without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 26 For “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.” 27 If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner [a book club] and you are disposed to go, eat [read] whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 28 But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice [penned under Satanic influence],” then do not eat [read] it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— 29 I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else’s conscience? 30 If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks?

31 So, whether you eat or drink [read or watch], or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.32 Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, 33 just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.


Personally, I have no problem with Harry Potter, but I could not in good conscience read 50 Shades of Gray. You may disagree with me on either side of that issue, and I respect that. The important thing here is to follow your own conscience (i.e. the Holy Spirit within you) because ultimately it is between you and God.

The key here, I believe, is two-fold:

  1. Don’t read/watch anything that prickles your conscience.
  2. Don’t encourage others to read/watch something against THEIR conscience.

NOW YOU: DO YOU AGREE/DISAGREE? WHERE DO YOU DRAW YOUR PERSONAL LINE WITH READING OR WATCHING MOVIES/TV?

Lisa Godfrees

this post brought to you by Lisa Godfrees

What is it about Star Wars?

Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The title alone is enough to stir excitement in even the most complacent person. This Christmas season we are treated with the much awaited addition to the popular franchise!

Star_Wars_The_Force_Awakens_Theatrical_Poster

As a science fiction/fantasy writer and Star Wars obsessor, I’m fascinated with what is causing the masses to flock to the theatres to take in the newest instalment in the franchise. Even after a couple disappointments with a few of the earlier Star Wars movies (Jar Jar Binks? Seriously?), I’m as loyal as any other Star Wars Fan. I have booked my seat for this Sunday and will be spending outrageous amounts for popcorn and a drink like everyone else.

Let’s take a look at the new captains at the helm.

J.J. Abrams (born in 1966) was a very impressionable 11-year-old when the first Star Wars movie came out. When he became a movie producer, his love for action and science fiction was obvious, taking into account a few of his movies in the past: Armageddon (1998), Mission Impossible (2006) and the Star Trek movies (2009 and 2013). He was also the co-creator of several t.v. drama series including Lost (2004 – 2010), and Fringe (2005 – 2013). He was nominated for seven Emmy awards, winning two for Lost. A rather successful young man, to say the least.

Then there’s Disney, no less! They bought the franchise from Lucas Films in 2012, and have thrown millions to promote this blockbuster, which Lucas Films and J.J. Abram’s company, Bad Robot, produced. Already the movie has received high ratings: Roger Ebert – 3.5/4. Rotten Tomatoes – 97%. The film is predicted to rake in over a billion dollars!

What I like about it is that J.J. Abrams took the same recipe that made the first movie incredibly popular, reshaped it a little, then added a few new faces who are similar to our first beloved characters. You have the resistance-affiliated droid (BB 8) carrying important information, stranded in the desert destined to meet the ‘nobody’ character (Ray) who is also jedi-obsessed. Instant chemistry, right? The galaxy is in disarray with two growing armies, the resistance and an evil army, headed for a war. There is non-stop action, a smattering of swashbuckling humour, and even our favourites, Han Solo, Chewie and Leia are there, ready to take us on a ride again!

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So, aside from the fact that the guys in charge are worth their salt and are using the same time-tested formula again, you have a movie with many popular elements that have been used forever (mythology/hero’s journey, epic characters, inspiring futuristic sci/fi). Stunning CGI from beginning to end, glues you to your seat, and an equally amazing orchestral score from the genius, John Williams, provides more for the senses to submerge you into the atmosphere and story. Complex and thought provoking issues like totalitarian rule, segregation, slavery, racism, gender equality spice it up.  And then you get a happy ending where the good guys win despite the incredible odds against them. We have also been long fascinated with the possibility of life beyond our stars, and here it is, with crazy creatures, liveable atmospheres on many planets and ways to get there and back in a nanosecond. What’s not to like?

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So why am I over-the-top excited about this movie? It takes me back to being a kid again, and who doesn’t love that? I’m eager to jump back on the emotional and visual roller coaster I’ve experienced in the past and will likely go back to see it again a few times, (more than my kids, I’ll wager).

So… are you going to the new Star Wars movie? Why or why not?

 

 

 

 

 

When I DO Like Fantasy

The first thing that comes to my mind upon hearing “fantasy fiction” is a medieval setting. Knights and dragons, sorcerers and quests. Unreadable names for every castle, dell, and hero. How annoying. I like to use basic phonics and sound out unfamiliar names. But with all those Welsh spellings? Forget it!

I realize there is far more to fantasy fiction than settings based on the Middle Ages in western civilization. Maybe Tolkien started the entire sub-genre with his Lord of the Rings trilogy. I have finally realized that Tolkien and Lewis weren’t the only authors to use fantasy as a vehicle to present Christian truth.

Take Lloyd Alexander (1924-2007). An American author, he found his niche in the 1960’s writing children’s fantasy. In 1969, he won the Newbery Award for The High King. Having spent his army years during World War Two in Wales, he gained first-hand experience in medieval geography. Yeah, there are a lot of Welsh names in his books. I wish I had known about his pronunciation guide, a separate book published in 1999.

Since I didn’t like fantasy, I never read much of it, so I only recently discovered his five part series, The Chronicles of Prydain. I had scanned The High King, the final book in the series, and was impressed with the deep philosophies analyzing good and evil which he wrote in such a way that children can understand.

Chronicles of Prydain

Until I have read them all, I don’t want to comment further on whether this could be considered Christian fiction, but I don’t mind if you spoil it for me and make your own comments.

Ideas introduced in the first novel, The Book of Three, figure prominently at the end of The High King, so I expect to have the total satisfaction of seeing the story come full circle, every loose end neatly tied to another.

I have read voraciously from kindergarten on, but the older I get, the more I realize how many books I’ve missed out on. While I’ll never live long enough to read all that I would desire, I want my tablet to be filled with so many books to read that the number of titles could rival Santa’s Naughty and Nice List!

What other inspirational fantasy fiction would you recommend to me? Especially in children’s literature?