Turrim Archive Snippets

As promised, here are a few snippets from my current Work-in-Progress, book #2 of the Turrim Archive. In no particular order:

It was silent to all but one, the snapping of the bonds, the whirlwind of power, the sudden strength returned to its rightful place. Uun bolted upright in his bed as his full power flooded through him and awoke him from his slumber. Pain seared down into the very marrow of his bones, and strength roared to life within his veins. He stumbled out of his bed and out onto the balcony that overlooked the whole of the palace grounds as the overwhelming deluge of power coursed through his body. It was achingly familiar, and yet he had been without it for so long that its sudden presence burned like a terrible blaze as it had so long ago on that very first day. He doubled over in anguish, breathing heavily. He closed his eyes and let it wash over him. For so long, he had only grasped at the barest trickle of his power, his potential. He had been like a starving man subsisting only on a single bite of food each day, and suddenly an entire feast was laid before him. It was overwhelming and horribly painful, but it was also so very sweet.

After a few minutes, the pain subsided, fading to a tiny, lingering flicker. Uun straightened and stared at the western horizon. The mid-day sun beat down upon him and he imagined he could see it glinting off the very top of his tower, a point of solid blackness in an otherwise perfectly azure sky. A cruel smile adorned his lips, and there was a coldness in his eyes.

“I knew you could never abide what I had done, brother,” he whispered. “So, you have put the world in peril for the sake of a single soul that was already broken beyond repair.” He let out a loud, barking laugh that pierced the serenity of the day. “Dalmir, my brother, you have just made your first mistake.”

Hmm, intriguing. 

“Dalmir?” Marik’s voice cut through the memory.

“Forgive me,” Dalmir shook himself and took a deep breath. He rubbed a hand across his face and his shoulders slumped.

“Are you well?”

“Yes. Yes, I am. Come along.”

“Do you mind if I ask where we are going now?”

“We must return to the Academy.”

“The…” Marik pressed his lips into a hard line, his face growing dark with a mixture of frustration and anger. “May I ask why?”

Ah, poor Marik. His life and plans have been so interrupted by Dalmir and the events of the world colliding around him. But don’t worry, I think he can take it.

“Hush now!” Nadia exclaimed. “He gets enough teasing about that from his brothers, thank you.”

Ioan just laughed.

“When do you leave to take your new post?”

“Tomorrow morning, I must meet my brigade early.”

“Perhaps I will see you before you leave,” Nadia smiled. “I plan to be up early myself.”

“That would be most agreeable. It’s hard to really have a quality conversation in scattered moments during a party one is hosting.”

“Well, congratulations, Ioan. We are all very proud of you.” She pulled a small box out of a deep pocket on the inside of her cloak. “This is from all of us, but mostly from Drengur.”

Ioan accepted the box and grinned. “Thank you, Aunt Nadia. And thank you for coming, it means the world to me.”

“You are welcome,” she tousled his dark hair playfully. “Now, go celebrate with your friends. No reason to stand around talking to your old aunt.”

“You’re hardly what I’d call old,” Ioan stuck his tongue between his teeth in a wide grin.

“That is the right answer,” Nadia raised her chin. “No wonder they let you graduate.” She turned to her friend. “Roshana, he’s a smart one, your boy.”

Roshana’s eyes twinkled and she gave slow, knowing nod. “Yes, he is.”

This one is a bit more random, but was so much fun to write. I think we’ll have to see more of Ioan than I had first intended.

As they stood outside the ring, watching as Arven attacked their friend. Grayden whirled and parried, and the dance began in earnest.

“Think he’ll win?” Wynn asked.

“I do believe our friend will defend his record on the field today,” Beren replied formally.

“You know, I don’t think Gray even knows that he’s got the top score,” Wynn’s tone was offhand. “He never looks at the standings.”

“That is not why he is here,” Beren agreed. “But surely he knows he is undefeated.”

“For now. Ouch!” Wynn winced in sympathy as Arven landed a particularly painful sounding blow to Grayden’s shoulder.

Grayden allowed himself to drop beneath the blow and twist away. He lunged back in and delivered his own rap to Arven’s wrist, causing the other young man to momentarily lose his grip on his stave. Arven shook his hand and backed away warily, readjusting his hold on the weapon.

“I shall enjoy watching Grayden in the Trials,” Beren commented.

“The what?”

“The Trials,” Beren repeated. At Wynn’s blank look, he grimaced. “They are the exams that we take before moving on to the next class.”

“What kind of exams?”

“Ah,” Beren hesitated. “Perhaps I should not say.”

I couldn’t do a snippets post without including my main characters! I wonder what the rest of their time at the Academy holds?

Well, that’s all I’ve got. I can’t really do too many snippets from book #2 without giving away far too much about book #1, so this is what you get. Some of these I wrote during Camp this year, others I had written previously. Hope you enjoyed this little teaser-trailer of sorts. But now, I have to get back to writing!

~ jenelle

Five Magic Spindles Review

If you had asked me throughout my entire childhood which fairy tale was my favorite, I would have unswervingly answered, “Sleeping Beauty.” Much of this answer was, of course, influenced by the Disney movies, and Sleeping Beauty had it all. Beautiful music, humor, a prince who not only had a name, but also a backbone as well as the ability to sing and dance, and a truly evil witch who turns into an awesome dragon! 

A few years later, I was given a Child’s Book of Fairy Tales by my grandpa and it included slightly darker (and probably more original) versions of many of the fairy tales I’d grown up reading/watching/hearing. Sleeping Beauty was still a favorite, though other, non-Disney-fied stories began to attract my interest (Twelve Dancing Princesses, for example).

So I was more than a little excited to hear that Rooglewood’s next project was going to be Sleeping Beauty. I preordered a copy as soon as I could and it was a day of great joy  when this beautiful tome arrived on my doorstep, carried by the winged feet of Hermes… er… Amazon.

A round of applause to each author and to Rooglewood Press for putting together yet another stellar product.

The Man on the Buckskin Horse

I must admit to being truly skeptical about this story. If anything could be more strange than Cinderella in space, it would have to be the Princess Aurora in the Wild West. How in the deep world was this feat going to be accomplished and still retain the elements of Sleeping Beauty… the fairy tale I loved best as a child? I love westerns, but still… would it not be like mixing mint ice cream and rainbow sherbet? Both good on their own…. but, um… together?

Of course, I needn’t have worried. Within the first page, Rachel Kovaciny had me completely hooked. Although the setting is vastly different than that of Sleeping Beauty, The Man on the Buckskin Horse retains all the elements and even the whimsical feel of the fairy tale it is based on. 

Although there are no fairy godmothers, no wands, no curse, and no magic whatsoever… the story is undeniably Sleeping Beauty. Nobody could read this story and miss the connection. In the place of an evil witch, there is a greedy landlady. In the place of a fairy godmother, there is a midwife. And in the place of the prince, a lone gunman whose backstory is at once rich and heart wrenching.

I was completely swept away by this story, which turned out to be a gorgeous tapestry of two things I love: fairy tales and the wild west.

Guardian of Our Beauty

This story was absolutely charming. I was absolutely entranced by the characters and the story. From fierce little Palli who is so ready to do more for her nation than merely sleep, to the lowly Prince Neriya who is so kind and filled with perseverance, despite his inadequate training or understanding of the world, I fell in love.

This story reads like a blend of classic fairy tale and ancient fable/folk tale. Again, all the Sleeping Beauty components are there, but all with extremely interesting twists… and all are subtly under woven with a message about “The God Who Answers” in the midst of this fairy tale culture that prays and sacrifices to many gods… and is surprised to find that there is actually One who answers.

This one stole my heart completely. There was a dry, witty humor to the story that I highly appreciated. I was laughing in many places and even got a little choked up later on. Guardian of our Beauty was probably the one I was expecting the least from based on the short description, but the reality of the story won me over. Beautifully written with a truly unique twist on the classic tale, this tale also has a tinge of Eastern culture that makes it feel otherworldly and brand new.

The Ghost of Briardale

Of all the stories, this one had the most convoluted plot, and I was never sure where it was going to head next. It kept me turning the pages throughout all the twists and turns.

Enter a world that is purely epic fantasy… but time and a 500-year curse have diminished the belief in magic and dwarves and elves and curses. So, actually, it’s a world much like our own. But when Franz sees a ghost and is subsequently deemed insane and shipped off to Briardale, the insane asylum, he leaves everything he thought he knew about the world and enters into a world that is far more comfortable with the ideas of hideous swamp beasts and tiny kingdoms and evil curses and fairy godmothers.

This story was clearly Sleeping Beauty, but in the end nobody was really who you thought they would be. I enjoyed the way everything ended up with Franz, but would have liked a few more glimpses into the world of the Princess and a bit more resolution of her story… though I guess when it comes right down to it, she wasn’t really the main character, after all.

It is definitely important to note that this story was completely different than what I had expected from reading the description. Not in a bad way… but if you are expecting the story to revolve around a haunted modern-day insane asylum (which I was)… that’s not even remotely what this story is about. To be perfectly honest, this was my least favorite of the stories, though I’m not sure I could put my finger on why. It could have been the distance between what I expected and reality, or it may have been that I just didn’t connect with any of the characters the way I did in the other stories… but this one didn’t really reach down into my heart like the rest of the stories. I think in a collection like this you’re just always going to have a “favorite” and a “least favorite” and that’s not a commentary on the story or the author… just a commentary on a collection of vastly different stories and personal taste. This one may be YOUR favorite. And that’s one of the things I love most about these collections – there always seems to be something for everyone!

Spindle Cursed

This was definitely the most true to the original telling of Sleeping Beauty. I very much enjoyed everything about this story. From the courageous prince Edmond – who doesn’t believe in true love or cursed princesses, but sets off on the quest anyway in hopes of taking his life back into his own hands if he survives, to the princess Arabella – who has been cursed to sleep for a century but has retained the ability to watch what is going on in the world through dreams and is aware of what is going on in the room round her (including the knowledge of her face getting dusty, shudder), to the loyal and steadfast Martin, to the somewhat off-her-rocker fairy godmother, to the villain (who I won’t spoil here)… the characters were definitely what made this story spring from the pages.

And there’s a dragon. And he’s an awesome, ferocious, beast of a dragon. I mean… dragon!

The beauty of this story, however, is the romance that develops between the sleeping princess and the skeptical prince. And the humor of the fairy godmother, because she’s fantastic.

Out of the Tomb

I have to be honest. This was my absolute FAVORITE of the five stories. And that’s saying something, because I really, really liked all of them. But this story.

This story!

Out of the Tomb had me turning the pages extra fast to find out what happened next. The last chapters had tears pouring down my face. The characters rose up out of the pages and became “real” – yes, like the Velveteen Rabbit.

I think my favorite part of this story was that it began at the ending. The traditional Sleeping Beauty story starts with a baby princess cursed to sleep for a hundred years and ends with her being woken up. Out of the Tomb starts with a tomb robber accidentally waking up a prince who has been held in a stasis field for 100 years, whom everybody thought was dead.

And then the adventure begins.

All the elements of the Sleeping Beauty story are there… the curse, the thirteen gifts (in the form of Virtue Names), the 100 year sleep, the thorns, the spindle… but they are so cleverly spun that I didn’t even recognize some of them at first (another reviewer pointed out the virtue names thing).

From the unlikely friendship to the incredibly well-defined world and culture of the Tephan people to the heartbreaking struggle that the main character deals with as she struggles between what she has always been and what the glimmer of hope the prince gives her about who she might become… this story is epic and beautiful. The pacing is perfect – gripping, intense, and yet not so fast that it doesn’t allow the story to unfold with a depth to the characters and the story and the themes that is just stunning in such a short story. I loved how she created the Tephan culture and unwrapped different aspects of it in such a perfect way that I never felt super confused or overwhelmed by information. I would love to spend whole novels in this galaxy (hopefully the author reads this review and continues writing stories in this universe!!!)

Overall, I can unreservedly give this collection Five Dragon Eggs.

dragonEgg5star

~ jenelle

Summer Ishness

Well, here I sit. Kind of reeling to discover that we’re already halfway through August already. What in the deep world? Thought I might take a minute to write up an Ishness post and let you all know what I’ve been up to this summer.

(ishness is a monthly blog meme created by Deborah @ Road of a Writer)

First, a quick announcement:

Second Son is currently available for FREE on Kindle at Amazon – the sale lasts until Wednesday!

Now, on to the Ishness of Summer… what have I been…

Reading

Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 4.44.58 PM Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 4.45.12 PM

I’ve also made it 3/5ths of the way through Five Magic Spindles, and am enjoying all the stories immensely. More to come on that once I’ve finished all the stories.

five magic spindles 1

I haven’t read a ton this Summer, nowhere near as many books as I intended to. I have so many good books sitting on my bookshelf, begging me to read them, but I haven’t really been in much of a reading “mood” lately. It’s kind of weird, but every now and then I go through a sort of reading “slump” in which nothing really seems all that enticing, and I just don’t want to read. These occurrences are extremely rare, but they do happen. Often they are followed by a period of absolutely voracious reading, so maybe I’ll have more books to tell you about in the coming months… we shall see.

Writing

I have hammered out approximately 11,000 words on my Turrim Archive Book #2 – most of those words were written in July during Camp Nano, and I really enjoyed/appreciated the extra incentive of Camp that helped keep me on task with getting back into writing in that story. Now that I’ve gotten back to the keyboard and had my memory refreshed on that story, the writing is coming more easily, which is wonderful.

Also lots of blogging. The Silmarillion Awards necessitated quite a bit of writing.

silmarillion-awards-border-gold Henry Fairchild

And I introduced the world to Henry Fairchild and his capricious capers into the realm of fiction where he commits his dastardly (but quite fictional) crimes in the name of justice and “happily ever after.”

I helped out with the Bookania party and got to interview Madeline, one of my favorite characters of Kendra E. Ardnek’s.

Watching

Actually watched quite a few movies this summer.

Kung Fu Panda 3 – which has actually been a super cute series of movies. I have been pleasantly surprised by how the sequels have been every bit as funny, whimsical, and family-friendly as the first one, and haven’t slid down the slippery slope of adding unnecessary crude humor like so many other franchises feel the need to do.

Zootopia – saw this one twice and really enjoyed it. Just a very cute, fun story. Lots of humor to this one. My kids enjoyed it, as well, which is always a plus.

The Peanuts Movie – oooh, probably one of my absolute favorites this summer! I love this movie so much! When we watch it I feel like I’m watching the old Peanuts movies or reading the old comics. They captured the heart and soul of the franchise and presented it so beautifully. Seriously, it made me cry. (Not that that’s super hard… but still) If you haven’t seen this one, WATCH IT!

What If… – with Kevin Sorbo. Has a bit of a slower pace, but really a very good movie. Just an exquisitely beautiful story about second chances, redemption, and God’s plans for your life all intermingled with a very subtle Gospel message. Somewhat reminiscent of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

Suicide Squad – which wasn’t my favorite movie ever, but I liked it more than I thought I would. If only because DC continued to prove that it can write villains better than Marvel can… and I am very much looking forward to where the Justice League goes from here, because if some of these villains show up in the Justice League movies as actual villains… well, our heroes are going to have their work cut out for them!

The Finest Hours – an absolutely nerve-wracking, epic movie about a true story. Loved everything about this movie!

Eddie the Eagle – about Olymic ski jumper Michael “Eddie” Edwards and his lifelong goal of becoming an Olympian. It wasn’t at all what I was expecting, but still quite inspirational and a fun story. And it has Hugh Jackman in it, so that was fun.

The Empire Strikes Back – we are having a lot of fun introducing our kiddos to the Star Wars movies. They are not as appreciative as I would like… but I’m willing to give it time *grin* At the very least I am having fun re-watching some of my all-time favorite movies!

Far and Away – only actually made it through half of this one, but it’s still fun.

Ant Man – rewatched this and enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed it the first time. Seriously, it’s a complete rip-off of the first Iron Man movie, but I don’t even care. Such a fun romp of a movie.

Lots and lots and lots of Cubs baseball! *does a happy dance* A couple of weeks ago my wonderful, awesome husband saw that MLB tv was only $18 for the rest of the season and he went ahead and bought it. So I’ve been watching my Cubbies to my heart’s content, and getting to introduce my children to the thrill that is major league baseball.

Life-ing

My mom and sister came to visit and we and the kids drove over to Michigan for a family-reunion/early birthday surprise party for my grandma.

I helped lead a “Family Group” at our church’s VBS which was themed, “Adventure in Egypt” and followed the journey of Joseph through being sold by his brothers to being thrown into jail to becoming the Pharoah’s right-hand man to ultimately forgiving his brothers. It was a super fun week and I really enjoyed getting to know a few more people at our church.

We’ve been going to the pool a lot, visiting parks and playgrounds, and generally enjoying being outside in the warm-but-not-so-hot-it’s-miserable weather. It is so nice to be enjoying Summer again! We’ve also been getting to know some of our neighbors, which is a new and different experience for me as an adult. It’s a bit weird and uncomfortable at times, but it’s also something I’ve been praying for for a long time, and I’m enjoying being in a neighborhood that really feels like a community. In our old neighborhood I often felt like we were very disconnected from our neighbors (mostly because they were all older than us and none of them had kids our children’s ages).

Miscellaneous

Guys! A thing happened! I had an endorsement printed in a real, honest to goodness, traditionally published book! *squeals in a very non-adult sort of way and jumps up and down grinning like an idiot* I didn’t even know about it, Deborah told me about it (and I haven’t had a chance to get to the library yet, so I’m going to include the picture she took and sent to me). And not just any book… a STEPHEN R. LAWHEAD BOOK!!!! *flails*

IMG_5943

The endorsement is in the front of “The Bone House” which is the second book in his Bright Empires series. Many years ago when I had less children and more time to do things like this (and publishers actually sent you a physical copy of the book instead of this e-book/pdf nonsense), I signed up for several “blogging for books” programs and wonder of wonders, The Skin Map by Stephen R. Lawhead was a book I managed to get ahold of an ARC for. I devoured and reviewed it in short order, and thought absolutely nothing more about it…. until last week when Deborah sent me an email telling me that my endorsement had been printed in the front of The Bone House!

*falls over*

I can’t even.

I’m almost more excited about this than the prospect of publishing my OWN book, because… Stephen Lawhead. I mean… STEPHEN LAWHEAD!!!!!!!!!!

Eeeeeeeeeeep!

If you’d like, you can read the entire review I wrote back in 2010 HERE.

August/September Plans

I am continuing to work on the Turrim Archive. I’ve been getting a lot of writing done while watching the Cubs play, so making good progress on that front. Hoping to continue plugging away and maybe get the first draft of this book finished in the next month or two.

Some dear friends are coming to visit us at the end of August – we are much looking forward to that.

Planning on starting into school with the kiddos on Sept. 1st. I learned that WI has a law that says their schools can’t start before Sept. 1st because of the heavy influence of tourism on the economy here… and while that doesn’t apply to homeschoolers, of course, I like that rule… so we will abide by it anyway.

The Nerd and Tie Expo is coming up at the end of September, and I’m getting a bit nervous. But also excited. Hopefully I’ll have lots of fun to share about that at the end of September.

And that is pretty much all I’ve got for updates and Ishness! How was YOUR summer, dear Reader?

~ jenelle