The Giver – And More

The-GiverLois Lowry’s Newbery Medal winner The Giver has been part of the literature curriculum in both Christian schools where I have spent my teaching career. Years ago, I had read the book and found it disturbing, but intriguing. It lacked a true resolution. Even though my natural optimism held high hopes for Jonas and Gabe, I would never know for sure. I hate making up my own ending. I want to know what the author had in mind.
Oh. There’s a Book Two?

Actually, Lowry wrote a quartet.

gathering_blue_cover

themessenger2_copy

-Son_by_Lois_Lowry
Our English teacher graciously loaned me all four books. I started over with The Giver, and then read the next three as though they were one huge volume.
Satisfying. Very satisfying.
Gathering Blue introduces the new main characters of Kira and Matt who seem to have no connection to The Giver until the last three pages. It still leaves us hanging since Kira cannot have her heart’s desire.
Messenger continues with Kira and Matty, and we only get a few clues regarding any connection to the quartet’s original title. While Book Three hints at a better future, it also ends in sorrow, and we know there’s got to be more.
Finally, in the last section of the fourth novel, Son, Jonas and Gabe reappear, nothing hidden, and we can see what Lowry intended all along.

Tapestry - Kinkade

art by Thomas Kinkade

All four tales can be read as stand-alones, but string them together, and the final novel weaves every thread of the previous stories into a tapestry of God’s love. Which is an odd thing to say, because like A Wrinkle in Time, whose message is similar, the word “Jesus” is never mentioned.
For that specific reason, The Giver and its companions are controversial in some Christian circles. Schools use it as a study in types of government since it so closely parallels communist societies. Students in Christian schools are challenged to consider the spiritual insights in the book.

We are free to interpret the series, as well as each individual novel, as we wish. Isn’t that what makes a great book? Like art, classic literature doesn’t dictate; it leaves room for discussion. Do any other classic books for tweens and teens come to mind that lead to lively debates?

 

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The Incredibly FAST Passing of 2015…

When the calendar flipped to October 1, I had a panic attack.

How was it possible that my favorite season—fall—which always proceeds my two favorite holidays—Thanksgiving and Christmas—could be upon us already? How indeed, as it was not conceivable that nine months of this “new year” had expired. Surely it was only June, certainly not later than July in this year of 2015.DSCF8153

The flowers on my front steps had never looked better. The weather was nice—not hot—but warm and very pleasant. Too many items remained on the summer to-do list. How could it be fall already? Where had the summer gone?

Simply. Not. Possible. ¾. Of the year. History.

Most of my adult life, I’ve declared the passage of time to be swifter with each passing year. You know the old adage, “The older you get, the faster time flies…” True, for sure. But this year had simply vanished.

Panic gripped my mind and emotions. So much to do in preparation for my favorite season. Buy pumpkins and other interesting fall produce, haul the saved-from-last-year fall decorations from the attic and then actually decorate. Other fall rituals needed to be worked into an already hectic schedule. Important  things like traditional fall recipes to make and share with family. I resisted the slight dread that accompanied my thoughts about this favorite season and vowed not to let the sneaky nature with which it descended upon me this year rob us of this most special of seasons.

DSCF8155 DSCF8157

Okay, you got this, I chanted repeatedly until my nerves calmed. However, the calm was short-lived as I remembered that mental Christmas prep normally begins in October. Mental only, you understand, as the rule in our home is no Christmas until after Thanksgiving, but then we pull out all the stops and do Christmas BIG.

My internal chant changed to, One holiday at a time…you can do it.

Ever since I got serious about writing, the matter of time has taken on a new dimension. Once writing became a priority in my life, my “time habits” changed dramatically. I once joked that I gave up sleep for Lent. It became a sort of year-round observance. Why sleep when there’s so many amazing writing related things I could be doing? Like …

  • Immersing myself in the characters and storylines of my YA 3-book series – the immediate goal being to finish book #2 ASAP and then indie publish book #1 with the second book following not-too-far behind

    Pieces of a Life storyboard

    the storyboard for my series characters

  • Composing the next post for my “Waiting Matters… Because YOU Matter” abstinence/renewed abstinence themed blog
  • Compiling this month’s sets of weekly web content for my business clients
  • Reading a YA book
  • Connecting with my writing partners via our email loop OR private Facebook page
  • Studying the craft of writing through any number of means
  • Critiquing the work of my awesome, talented writing partners
  • Networking & marketing to build my author platform
  • Reading a popular or award-winning or classic tale for the purpose of dissecting it’s greatness
  • Creating posts for the group Scriblerian blog
  • Dipping my toes into the sea of editing
  • Reading a book just for fun

Yep, it just happened again. As I finished typing the above list, an understanding of why this year has whizzed by washed through my mind. Just as it did the first week of October, as I tried to figure out why this year in particular seemed to have vanished in the wind, a sense of, “See, that’s why,” followed by a wave of relief.

My life took an unexpected turn earlier this year when the part-time job I’d had for 9 ½ years came to an abrupt, unforeseeable end. Poof, it was gone, due to circumstances beyond my control. Over the next month, I couldn’t shake the deep sense that this was my chance to for-go a “regular” job and just write. To establish myself as a “real” writer.

Let’s jDSCF8152ust say I’ve learned not having a “regular” job opens the door for a lot of things. Good things. Worthwhile things. Certainly not all writing related things, though. Actually, a lot of not-writing-related things. As I try to get used to the new “normal”, I’ve found myself issuing a rather firm warning to myself, repeatedly. “Do not waste this opportunity. Get that series finished and published.”

I’ve given my writing partners permission to get tough with me, to push and nudge, even badger, to keep me moving in the right direction. And I’m extending that same privilege or responsibility, depending on how you look at it, to you Scriblerian followers as well. Take me to task, if you feel so led. You have my blessing.

And now I’m off to finish a set of business blogs before diving back into the fictional YA world of Preston and Maggie. I’d love to hear any “keeping on task” tips you’d like to share!

It’s Complicated

its complicated
Life is complicated. If you’re like any of the people whose posts I’ve seen on FB lately, or if you’ve lived into your teen years, you’ll already know this. But finding a good book to read doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, Laura L. Smith has tools for us to make reading her books simple!
First, you can get her book along with 6 other great YA books for the bargain price of $0.99 in the Turning Point YA boxed set.
I’m hosting a Summer Book Club where we’re reading and discussing each of the seven books on my blog. This week is It’s Complicated. I’ve already read it, and I can’t wait to discuss it. I’d love for you to join us! (And Beth Steury – if you haven’t read this one, you absolutely should. It deals with abstinence and renewed abstinence!)
Second, she has a Bible-based discussion guide for the first four chapters of the book and she’s offering it to you for FREE! Wouldn’t it be great to read the book and discuss with your teen or youth group? Love this idea, and I plan to check it out!
“To claim your free copy, fill out the contact form below.” Whoops! The form isn’t working. To claim your free copy, please leave a comment in the post below saying you would like one. Sorry!
Third, another one of her books is currently available for FREE! Skinny: She was starving to fit in… I love that this author tackles issue-driven teen fiction. Her writing is great and I have great hopes for this series. I already have the book. Snag it while it’s free by clicking on the cover.
Skinny

CLICK HERE FOR A FREE COPY

Finally, if you’re the kind of person that loves Pinterest and enjoys checking out pictures of characters as the author envisions them, here are links to the Pinterest boards for It’s Complicated.
Kat 
NOW YOU: Thoughts on book clubs, issue-driven fiction, and life complications in general. Go!

Christa Kinde’s Alter Ego Tells All . . . and a chance to win an autographed, beautifully-illustrated book and an e-book as well!

Today, we have a very special guest, Christa Kinde (KIN-dee), prolific author of fairy tales, epic adventures, comic misadventures, light and sweet romance, clever allegories, whimsical fantasies, far-flung journeys, knotty mysteries, and more.

Christa, thanks for posting in The Scriblerians ‘visiting author’ slam book:

Nicknames: Marmee, CJ, codename “Sugar Daddy” (my husband is “Nacho Mama”)
Genre: Fantasy & Christian Speculative Fiction
Personal Philosophy: “Be brave and do your best.”
Fave Scripture: “Do justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly.” –Micah 6:8
Fave Quote: “Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work.” –C. S. Lewis
In high school, I was a… voracious bookworm with lamentable social skills and a formidable vocabulary.

 
Christa we’re delighted you joined us today to talk about the Galleries of Stone series. After publishing so many successful books, why did you write this trilogy under the nom deplume C. J. Milbrandt?

The books I’ve written as Christa Kinde—both fiction and nonfiction—belong solidly in the Christian market. When I approached my publisher about doing a fantasy series, they advised me to abandon the plan. It didn’t fit my author brand. So I shelved a short stack of magic-laced manuscripts and focused on the angels and demons in my Threshold Series.

But I began quietly investigating my indie options. Maybe it’s because I’m a “from scratch” kind of gal, but I love managing the creative process from start to finish. So my family-friendly fantasy is published under my maiden name—C. J. Milbrandt.

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And all of us are very glad you made the decision to follow your dream! I recently read Rakefang, the riveting third book of the Galleries of Stone, and I found it very hard to put down each night. What is your inspiration for such diverse stories?

Story ideas aren’t hard to come by. It’s near impossible to avoid the pesky things. Their ambushes throw my imagination into a tizzy and make me wish I could type faster.

However, Galleries of Stone trilogy is a special case. The story began as a personal challenge. For one year, I used an online dictionary’s “word of the day” as inspiration for my daily installment. On January 1, all I knew for sure was that the Keeper of the Gray Mountain was a banished Pred—a sheep in wolf’s clothing. And that Tupper Meadowsweet, his new Flox servant, was either brave, dense, or brilliant.

With each day’s addition, new complexities unfolded. I built the world to suit the story’s needs, making new discoveries right along with Tupper. By December 31, I had 366 chapters (2012 was a leap year) and more than 300,000 words. After some minor edits and a few additions, I released Galleries of Stone as a trilogy: Book One: Meadowsweet (2013), Book Two: Harrow (2014) and Book Three: Rakefang (2015).

Your target audience is tweens/teens, yet I’m also drawn to the delicately entwined layers of allegory and symbolism. What do you hope readers—of all ages—will take away from your books? 

I’ve often wished that books could be rated “E for Everyone.” I write what I enjoy reading—adventures with action, a surprising turn of events, a hint of mystery, and a smidgen of romance. If only “heart-warming” was a genre.

Takeaways? Hmm. The three highest compliments my stories have received are laughter, tears, and a warmly-expressed intention to re-read. I want folks to come away from a book feeling that they know the characters. Let’s add joy over the journey they’ve just taken. Satisfaction in its resolution. Anticipation for what’s to come. And with each successive title, a deepening trust in the storyteller.

Well, I for one am hooked because I’ve already started re-reading them. One of the things I like is that Galleries of Stone and your other series immerse readers into the heart of a rich story world, where customs, culture, and relationships unfold in a natural way (and I’d be remiss to not mention that the covers and chapter headings are like works of art). Can you tell us more about how you develop such detailed, fantasy worlds?

Over the course of the trilogy, I invented multiple cultures. Pred are vicious conquerors with an elitist mindset. Grif add a showman’s flourish to all they do. Drom are cantankerous plodders with a passion for spice and melons. Clow honor their tribal ancestry. Fwan are gentle lovers of beauty, but brutally superstitious. It’s a vast and varied world.

By contrast, Tupper’s whole life is bound up in one small village. He didn’t know there were other races of men. He’d never heard of magic. He had no concept of an ocean, let alone distant continents. But when confronted with a wider world, Tupper rolls up his sleeves and chips away at racial barriers. He adapts and adopts new ways of thinking, seeing, and doing. Frey’s “lambkin” makes a big difference in small ways.

Yes, he does. Tupper is one of my favorite characters.  In the Galleries of Stone series, which character is most like you and why? 

There’s a little bit of me sprinkled throughout the trilogy—attitudes, insights, bits of advice, turns of phrase. The strongest resemblances would likely be Carden’s love of family, Freydolf’s restlessness to create, and Aurelius’s formidable vocabulary. 

If you could meet one of your characters in real life, which one would it be and what would you do together?

I wish I had the courage to say Aurelius, but he scares me. So Freydolf. And since the Keeper can’t stray far from his mountain, I’d ask for a tour of the Statuary.

I, too, would like a tour of the statuary and the magical figures the Keeper carefully reveals within the stone! The mountain is a place that came alive for me through your writing!

Christa, thank you for coming on The Scriblerians to talk to our readers! I’ve listed her contact info below. Her websites and blogs are a wonderful world of sample chapters, beautiful artwork, and behind the scenes info on your favorite stories. Check it out!

Continue reading below for a sample chapter from the first book of the Galleries of Stone Trilogy and a chance to win an autographed, beautifully-illustrated book and an e-book as well!

Christa Kinde
Website/Bloghttps://christakinde.wordpress.com/
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ChristaKinde
Twitter – @ChristaKinde
GoodReads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/642522.Christa_Kinde

C.J. Milbrandt
Website/Bloghttp://cjmilbrandt.com/
Galleries of Stone on Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/pages/Galleries-of-Stone/1480104452254159
Byways on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Byways/840562655975459
Twitter – @Elymnifoquent
GoodReadshttps://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7465580.C_J_Milbrandt

Christa’s books are available here:
Christa Kinde on Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Christa-Kinde/e/B007O45N7A C. J. Milbrandt on Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/C.-J.-Milbrandt/e/B00H1D6PLW

Galleries of Stone Trilogy

Galleries of Stone Trilogy

 

 

Excerpt from Galleries of Stone, Book 1: Meadowsweet

With a flurry of silk and sulk, Aurelius burst into the workshop and demanded, “Have you seen the sprat?”

Freydolf glanced over the top of the golden stone he was marking and inquired, “Recently?”

“Since breakfast,” his brother-in-law clarified.

“I’ve been a little distracted.”

“And I’m being driven to distraction! Do you know how much work is waiting?”

“Yes and no,” Freydolf replied vaguely. “I usually leave such things to you.”

Aurelius rolled his eyes. “Very trusting of you, but I thought we’d agreed that you’d be entrusting your pet to me for the duration.”

“Aye.”

“So you haven’t seen him?” Aurelius prodded.

“Maybe he’s hiding from you.” Giving the other man a stern look, he added, “You could have been more polite at breakfast.”

“I was!” he insisted. “For me.”

Freydolf snorted and said, “If you don’t bridle your tongue, you’ll never win the lad over.”

“I’ll bridle my tongue when you collar your pet,” Aurelius muttered. “He’d be easier to find if you kept him on a leash.”

“Have you tried behind the rimbles in the upper loggia?”

The other Pred blinked. “The what in the where?”

“In the upper loggia,” Freydolf patiently repeated. After offering a convoluted set of directions to the tucked-away spot, he remarked, “It’s pleasant there, especially in summertime.”

Aurelius stared dubiously at his brother-in-law. “Do you really expect me to believe that I’ll find him way up there?”

“Not really,” Freydolf admitted, turning his attention back to the stone and making a sweeping chalk line along its side. With a growl, Aurelius exited the workshop, and Freydolf looked down at the boy sitting on the floor between his feet and winked broadly.

Tupper’s eyes shone with gratitude, admiration, and the rare delight of a shared secret. He was quite sure that his Pred was bigger and better than any other.

–End of excerpt–

Dear readers, we would love to hear from you. Tell us which book of the Galleries of Stone you’d like to win, or ask Christa a burning question you’ve always wanted to know about the fantastic realms she creates, or simply leave your thoughts on today’s post!  

One lucky commenter will win The Blue Door from Christa’s Threshold series and another lucky commenter will win an e-book of choice from the Galleries of Stone trilogy.

(if you have technical problems leaving a comment, scroll up and click on the blog title; the comment form will then appear at the bottom!)

 

Calling all YA lovers – have I got a steal for you!

Turning Point: 7 Young Adult Inspirational Novels in One Set

Making it easy (and super cheap!) for you. All your summer reading is right here in this one set. Get seven full-length novels from some of your favorite authors. 7 full-length YA novels for $0.99 – that’s 14 cents each!

Books-in-the-set

By Darkness Hid, Jill Williamson Given the chance to train as a squire, kitchen servant Achan Cham hopes to pull himself out of his pitiful life and become a Kingsguard Knight. When Achan’s owner learns of his training, he forces Achan to spar with the Crown Prince–more of a death sentence than an honor. Meanwhile, strange voices in Achan’s head cause him to fear he’s going mad. While escorting the prince to a council presentation, their convoy is attacked. Achan is wounded and arrested, but escapes from prison–only to discover a secret about himself he never believed possible.

Whisper If You Have To, Staci Stallings Secrets. Alison Prescott has collected a boatload of them in her short lifetime. Moving to a new school in a new town was supposed to fix everything; however, when she meets a new set of friends, keeping those secrets might just ruin everything including her fledgling relationship with the school’s basketball star, Chad Dourozette. How far will Allison go to keep the secrets she can never tell anyone?

It’s Complicated, Laura L. Smith There’s a reason Facebook has the Status Update, It’s Complicated. Follow four college roommates, Claire, Palmer, Hannah, and Kat as they maneuver crushes, confusion, and the crisis when pushy boys go too far. Complicated as it is, these four friends will pull through, guided by the strength of their friendship and the power of God’s love.

Failstate, John W. Otte A fledgling teenage superhero competes on a reality TV show for a government vigilante license. When one of his competitors is murdered, Failstate sets out on a quest to avenge her death. But will his superpowered lunk of a big brother ruin everything?

The Wishing Pearl, Nicole O’Dell Sixteen-year-old Olivia Mansfield can’t wait to escape the confines of her home, which promises nothing but perpetual torment and abuse from her stepfather. When poor choices lead her to the brink of a complete breakdown, Olivia comes to a crossroads. Will she find the path to ultimate hope and healing that her heart longs for?

Mardan’s Mark, Kathrese McKee Abducted by pirates and taken behind enemy lines across the Great Gulf, Princess Srilani is determined to save her sisters and younger brother, the crown prince, from captivity. She convinces their caretaker, Aldan, and his brother slaves to share the perilous journey home. This ragtag group of unlikely heroes sets out on a quest — pursued by cutthroat pirates, merciless priests, and marauding soldiers — to return the heir to his kingdom before war breaks out. In this epic adventure fantasy, Srilani and Aldan risk everything to save a prince and a nation, discovering along the way that death is not their deepest fear.

Glass Girl, Laura Anderson Kurk After her older brother Wyatt is killed in a jealousy-fueled incident and her mother disappears, Meg Kavanagh decides surviving is easy—it’s living that takes guts. She believes she’s to blame for Wyatt’s death, but when Henry Whitmire steps in with a secret, will Meg forgive herself enough to accept the good things in life like the rush of first love and the power of mercy?

I’ve read 2, own 2 more, but I bought the set to get the other 3. It was too good a deal to pass up. 🙂

Available for pre-order on Amazon.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Which ones have you read?

Turning-Point-Box-Set-Small

See No Evil by Mary Hamilton

See no EvilAuthor Mary Hamilton is no stranger to this blog. We interviewed her when Book Two in the Rustic Knoll Bible Camp Series, Hear No Evil, came out. I just finished reading the most recent and final book in the series, and loved it.

Each book centers around different characters and the problems they bring with them to camp. For the final installment of the series, See No Evil, we “see” camp through a blind camper named Stephen. He’s been in all three books and is my favorite character by far. As a golden child, I wondered what his issue would be. And it’s a sad one. Not only does he question why God made him blind, but he struggles with pornography, a prevalent problem in our society. How does a blind teenager struggle with pornography? Good question, but you’ll have to read the book to find out. 😉

In the first book, Hear No Evil, Brady’s mom dumped him at camp and told him she wasn’t coming back to get him. Ouch.

Rustic Knoll #1

Rustic Knoll #1

In Speak No Evil, we get inside the head of the bully from book one and get to see what makes him tick. “Hurt people hurt people” after all.

Rustic Knoll #2

Rustic Knoll #2

The thing that makes all of these books great isn’t just the characters and their issues, it’s the nuggets of wisdom from the camp pastor, Zeke. Mary does a tremendous job of weaving short devotionals through the book that tie in with each books’ theme. These are delivered in an organic, non-preachy way.

Mary Hamilton

Mary Hamilton

And since the protagonist in each book is male, the stories are created with guys in mind. Books like these are hard to find.

The entire series is recommended for Christian fans of YA literature (teens, adults, whoever), especially those who have been to camp. Both guys and gals will enjoy these books.

LET US HEAR FROM YOU: EVER BEEN TO CHURCH CAMP? WHERE?

Guess What Kids Are Reading!!

2015 is shifting into gear, but while most are looking forward to what’s around the corner, I spent some time analyzing a 2014 Scholastic survey concerning kids’ reading habits.

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I skimmed over the report with mild interest, but a few points caused me to stop and reflect. While I predicted a few of their findings, some were not at all what I expected.

The part of the survey that immediately perked up my ears, being a writer, was what kids wanted in books. We spend long hours trying to predict this very thing so I fast-forwarded to this part. Little surprise that 70% of kids (more in the 14 and below age group) prefer books with humour, and less surprise that most wanted to read a mystery, or at least about a problem that needed to be solved by the main characters. Hence the popularity of Harry Potter, Captain Underpants, Diary of A Wimpy Kid and the Percy Jackson books.

Teens that were 14 and up seemed to still enjoy a laugh but appreciated books that had romance and/or helped them forget about real life for a while. Hence, the popularity of Hunger Games, Divergent and Twilight. But one of the biggest sellers was the Harry Potter series. Still! That caught me off guard. Not that they aren’t good books, but that teens still read them.

There were interesting but predictable findings about what makes frequent readers and how many books are read by different categories of readers, but what made me take another glance were the surveys concerning e-readers. From 2010 to 2014, there was a 40% increase of kids who’d read e-books. That wasn’t a big ‘ahaa moment’ for me, but what I saw next, was.

77% of kids from 6 – 17 said that most of the books they read were print books, and furthermore 65% would read print books even if e-books were available. I figured that most kids would far rather be reading on screens of some kind. Is this because kindles, and e-readers are not as available to kids that age?

I like to think that maybe I’m not as old fashioned as I thought I was. I still like to curl up and finger the pages of a book, breath in the smell of a new book, and keep them on my shelves as old friends that I like to visit every now and then.

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But take a look for yourself at the link. Tell me if there are any things that jump out at you.

http://www.scholastic.com/readingreport/