1 a : good name or public esteem : reputation
b : a showing of usually merited respect : recognition : pay honor to our founder
2 : privilege: had the honor of joining the captain for dinner
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, honor can be defined as a good name, the act of showing respect, or simply a privilege—a privilege to serve, or to be in the presence of someone greater than oneself.
If you’ve seen my blog post My Writing Testimony, you’ll know that I haven’t always honored God with my writing. For a long time I was in denial—I didn’t think that God could possibly use me—which is of course complete and utter nonsense. God can do whatever He wants. Still, I was a little selfish. I wanted to hang on to the gift He’d given me a little bit longer, and write the stories that I wanted to write. Besides, adding my faith into an already personal thing scared me.
What I didn’t know then was the fact that God has given us our gifts for a reason, and that reason is always to serve Him. He’s the author and finisher of our faith, and as such He always has and always will be the best storyteller in the universe. On the day that Jesus rose from the grave He gave us the biggest plot twist in the history of plot twists. Because of that, I want my pen to mirror whatever poor reflection of His glory that it can.
I have to apologize for the late post. I should've planned ahead a bit better, but as it was, the alignment of holidays really did my blogging schedule in. (No one would have taken it seriously if I posted it yesterday, anyway.) :P As usual, March brought its share of awesome reads my way. Love's Labour's Won and Discover are both short stories available for free through their authors' respective newsletters, Les Misérables was a beautiful but soul-crushing experience that quickly became one of my new favorites, and Gathering Blue was a re-read as I begin to revisit one amazing series.
Love's Labour's Won
Kyle Robert Shultz
My rating: ★★★★
One of the best things about anything Shultz writes is the wonderful sense of humor, and Love’s Labour’s Won is no exception. It stares sickly-sweet love tropes straight in the face, and while making subtle fun of them, Cordelia delivered a truth bomb during the climax that pulled it all together beautifully. (Cordelia, by the way, is quickly becoming one of my favorite fantasy heroines ever.) xD In short, Love’s Labour’s Won delivered the characteristic Beaumont and Beasley goodness we’ve all come to know and love.
My rating: ★★★★
Well that was adorable. I’m a sucker for sweet love stories, and this one delivered, let me tell you. *dies of cuteness* It tells the story of how Maggie and Ethan met—two characters that will be familiar if you’ve read any of the other Allegiance books. Stories like these are so refreshing in a world where lust gets labeled love so often. Ethan loves Maggie for who she is, and Maggie loves Ethan for who he is, end of story. I also liked getting to know a little more about Ethan’s past! I already knew some of Maggie’s, but this short story colored in Ethan’s character a little more vividly.
All in all, Discover is a quick read, a sweet read, and a worthy addition to the world introduced with the rest of the Allegiance series. ^_^
While deciding on the topic for my next blog post, I realized that it had been quite a while since I did one for writing prompts. We writers are always looking for ideas, so I thought I'd add a fifth installation to the ongoing series. After all, there's nothing like a good writing prompt to spark the imagination!
The following prompts are a little wacky, a little weird, and a few even turn cliches on their heads. They also cross several potential genres. Enjoy!
Writing Prompt #2
“I am small but mighty.”
“Yeah okay, mmm-hmm. I’d be more inclined to believe that if you hadn’t just run from the toaster.”
February was another awesome reading month! I finished The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens, as well as The Reluctant Godfather by Allison Tebo, Dissemble by Sarah Addison-Fox, and read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain for #AuthorBookClub on Twitter. As usual, it was a pleasant mix of the old with the new. If you haven't checked out any of these authors yet, do! Twain and Dickens have stood the test of time for their wit, while Allison and Sarah are bringing new life to the independent writing scene.
The Pickwick Papers
My rating: ★★★
[Minor spoilers ahead.]
In all honesty, this is a hard book both to rate, and to review! It had some truly wonderful moments, but it also had a lot of slow and “meh” moments too. (Although even the “meh” was carried off with characteristic Dickens wit, which made even that not seem too terrible.)
Being that this is my first experience with the work of a much younger Dickens, I was impressed with how closely it resembled his later writings, albeit with more humor and more rambling with less point. The beginning of The Pickwick Papers sort of reminded me of A Tale of Two Cities, since it was a bunch of seemingly random scenes thrown together, but unlike A Tale of Two Cities, most of them remained just that… random. (Although it’s important to take into consideration the fact that this was serialized in a newspaper, and therefore reading it all at once is an entirely different experience than that had by the original readers.)
The latter half of the book was better thought-out, however, and was altogether more satisfying, and there was even a point at about the three-quarters mark that I thought I’d have to rate it four stars instead of three if it kept up its wonderfulness to the end. Unfortunately, it didn’t. [Here come the minor spoilers!] The part I’m speaking of was when Mr. Pickwick found himself landed in a Debtor’s Prison. Charles Dickens knew something about this subject, since his father was arrested and sent to one when he was 12, and it shows in the heart put into those chapters. They were the most serious in the entire book, and beautiful in a horrible and sad kind of way.
And Sam. Can we just talk about Sam Weller for a minute? He was Mr. Pickwick’s servant for most of the book, but I have officially come to the conclusion that all the best sidekicks are named Sam. He was a young man, but had a good head of rock-solid common sense, and a funny mode of speech that he inherited from his father, full of halfway macabre anecdotes and hilarious sayings. I can’t say that Mr. Pickwick, like Frodo, wouldn’t have got far without Sam, but he was close. Sam’s most shining moment was when he followed Mr. Pickwick to prison and indebted himself so that Mr. Pickwick couldn’t tell him to leave. They were both there by choice, and though Mr. Pickwick was an older man, Sam still had his whole life ahead of him—yet he chose to stay with “the governor.”
The reason I gave it three stars, however, is that it may have been awesome in serialized segments, but all at once it seems a bit fragmented and rambles a lot. Now, obviously, I don’t mind a little rambling, since I usually love Dickens, but rambling without a purpose is annoying. I also have my doubts as to whether anyone knew what the meaning of a non-alcoholic drink was (except for the ladies, who drank tea only to "lay the foundation" for spirits, as Mr. Weller senior put it), since there was a ridiculous amount of drinking in this book, a lot of d--ning, as well as kissing without being married or even engaged, several mentions of unfaithfulness, and a couple awkward scrapes with a man and a woman (one of which lands Mr. Pickwick in the Debtor’s Prison, because he loses in the court and refuses to pay up because he knows he’s innocent.)
On the other hand, however, I will now know what the March girls were thinking of when they decided to make up their own Pickwick Club in Little Women. (I love it when classics recommend other classics, don’t you?) :P It’s a book that leaves you feeling as if you’ve traveled a long way with Mr. Pickwick and Co., and drops you gently off with a satisfying but practical happily-ever-after sort of ending.
Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! This year I thought I'd jump in among all the romance novels going on sale and offer three non-romancy books for free by way of variety. (Because who doesn't love epic journeys to northern mountains to find freedom and hope any time of the year??)
Thus, I give you Branwen's Quest, Finding Hope, and Journey to Freedom (numbers 1, 4, and 8 in the Warriors of Aralan series, respectively). "Well that's great, I'll just skip all over the series," you grumble. Yes... yes, you will. And that's fine, because each of them is a sort of beginning in the series, and can be read without reading any of the previous ones. They'll only be free for three days though, (February 16th-18th), so have at it! (And when you do read them, be a good egg and leave a quick review on Amazon or Goodreads. They mean the world to indie authors like myself!)
Branwen's Quest (Warriors of Aralan #1)
When the royal herald came announcing a mandatory Tournament of Warriors, Branwen was the last one to get excited. Sure, she was a good enough archer, but why should she be forced to go to the tournament just because the king said so? She had nothing to prove! Yet when she got there her competitive spirit took over and she succeeded—enough so that she was singled out by the king to take a difficult journey with three others who were as different as night and day from each other. Why? To recover the king and queen's missing crowns. Will they ever be able to overcome their differences and get along to complete their mission, or will they fall prey to an unexpected danger posed from within?
Finding Hope (Warriors of Aralan #4)
Branwen’s fourteen-year-old daughter Rhoslyn, is intrigued when she comes home one day to find three strangers in the house, arguing with her parents. Who are these men? Two of them appear to be the same age as her father, but one of them is younger—much younger, about her age. He turns out to be Allister, Rhoslyn’s cousin, and he with his father and uncle have come all the way from Norwynnd. Needless to say, Rhoslyn and her best friend Bradyn get off to a bad start with Allister when they find him unusually secretive, and instead of deterring Rhoslyn with his bad attitude, Allister unwittingly encourages her curiosity. She knows he has a secret, and she’d determined to find out what it is. To complicate matters, a dark-skinned man from Calima, Aralan’s closest neighboring country, appears the day after Rhoslyn’s relatives, bringing with him a new religion, and it looks like he’s going to be there a while due to his broken leg. While he’s there he insists on telling others about his faith, and Rhoslyn doesn’t know what to think. Why is her cousin so secretive? Why does this man from Calima think she needs God? And most of all, why have her relatives from Norwynnd come to Linfort now, after all these years?
Journey to Freedom (Warriors of Aralan #8)
Josiah is a prince... albeit one that has just about had it with his hypocritical parents and grandparents, the ruling family of Aralan. Sure, he's not that much different than they are, really—but when they turn down a small country's plea for help in an oncoming war, Josiah is furious. A full one-eighth of his blood comes from that country, and he can't believe his ears when they send the emissaries away without a promise of assistance. So he flees the castle, hires a cook to feed him in his travels, and breathes the free forest air for the first time in his twenty-one years of life. Sleeps on the ground for the first time in his life. And argues—constantly—with the most stubborn cook he's ever met in his life. Emma is not one to take orders quietly, despite coming from the poorest part of Freymont; a stark contrast with her sweet-tempered, eleven-year-old sister named Hadassah. Add in Josiah's crazy hermit uncle, a pair of mischievous identical twins, an unheard-of amount of sass, a war of epic proportions, and a betrayal or two—and you have a Journey to Freedom.
I tend to read a lot of classics, as well as new-and-awesome independent authors, and January has been no exception. Christmas brought some more Jane Austen into my life, which I couldn't resist, and Disowned by Sarah Addison-Fox had been on my radar for a while, so it's safe to say January's reading material was great. If you like books that are quieter and not so action-packed, these might be for you!
My rating: ★★★★
Emma is a very solid four-star read for me. Austen has a way of bringing you right into the world of her characters, and making you care about little, everyday happenings, as well as the bigger, not-so-everyday stuff… like getting married. (I mean ‘cause you know it’s going to happen, being Jane Austen and all.) :P
Previously, I’ve read two other Austen novels: Pride and Prejudice, and Sense and Sensibility. I find them to be a pleasant variation from the typical “save the world,” type things I usually read, and going back in time to the eighteen hundreds is another plus. (I kinda sorta love that time period, *cough*.) The problem with having read two Jane Austen books before, however, is the fact that by round three, they begin to become a little predictable—there always seems to be a Mr. Collins, Wickham, and Darcy, to use Pride and Prejudice terms. (I won’t say more than that for fear of spoilers, but I saw who the main character, Emma, would end up with almost from the very beginning.)
Speaking of Emma, at the start of the book she was quite the “nonsensical girl,” as Mr. Knightley once put it, almost to the point of being irritating. However, by the end she had grown a lot, as a character, and as a person. I thought that it was a refreshing arc, because Elizabeth from Pride and Prejudice already had a good head of sense on her shoulders, as did Elinor from Sense and Sensibility, but Emma was more relatable because she wasn’t perfect. (Also, she had declared that she would never marry—an extraordinary thing, given the time period and the fact that she’s in a Jane Austen novel. While I don’t think either extreme of the Marry-or-not-to-Marry spectrum is good—after all, we should be after what God wants in our lives—she wasn’t so bent on upholding that declaration that couldn’t be persuaded otherwise.)
As for the other characters--Mrs. E was infuriating, Mr. Knightley by far my favorite male character, Harriet quiet and sweet, Mr. Woodhouse funny and endearing despite his obsession with health, Mr. and Mrs. Weston just the sort of lovely people you want to associate with, and Miss Bates… holy cow, that woman could talk—just to name a few.
The reason I didn’t give it four stars despite the super-satisfying ending that gave you time to enjoy it before dropping you back into the real world again, was the fact that it did drag a little at times (although that might just be my attention span to blame there), and everyone lived Happily Ever After™. I know it’s Jane Austen, but I felt like the end of Harriet’s subplot was just a little thrown in, so you wouldn’t feel too bad about Emma’s turning out all right in spite of everything.
Those are my only complaints, however. Although Pride and Prejudice still reigns as my favorite Jane Austen novel to date, this one’s a close second, and is definitely worth the read!
A few days ago I was at a loss as to what my next blog post should be, so I posed the question to Twitter’s writing community. Sarah Addison-Fox was good enough to lob a suggestion my way, (the title of this blog post, in fact), and so I went with it. (My Emergency Backup Plan was writing prompts, but I honestly wasn’t feeling very inspired in that direction, either.)
So here we are. How to Write Killer Descriptions from a person that’s still very much learning the writing process, just like every other writer out there. As Ernest Hemingway once said: “We’re all apprentices in a craft in which no one ever becomes a master.” With that in mind, here’s how this apprentice approaches writing descriptions of things.
1.) I use my imagination. This may seem obvious, but the best weapon in a writer’s arsenal is really their imagination. Live the scene you’re writing, and it’ll be easier to describe it.
2.) Don’t be afraid of using –ly adverbs, adjectives, and so-called boring words like “really,” and “very.” [police sirens in the distance] Wait—before you lock me up, hear me out. I was taught to write this way, and I think the world goes too far whenever they say “delete every ______.” There are definitely some words that should be used with caution, and some words that should be used hardly ever, but I think that avoiding any part of the English language like the plague does not do anyone’s writing any favors. This is creative writing I’m talking about here, folks. It’s okay to be creative. (And if you go back a hundred years or so, you’ll find that what publishers considered “good writing” has a lot of these forbidden words in it. It’s changed, just like every other part of society. Someone once told me that writing for a fad will make you late for the fad, and it’s true.) I’m not saying ignore every writing rule in existence, I’m just saying take them with a grain of salt, and write with the voice God gave you.
2017 was a big book year for me. I not only published three of them, but I rediscovered my love of reading (*gasp*, bad author), and learned to write those reviews I so desperately craved myself. Going into 2018, I want to continue writing reviews of books I read, and so I thought I'd start doing a once-monthly blog post in which I compile the previous month's reviews all in one place. (Because every bookworm loves finding new reads, right??)
Thus, I give you December's offering... in January. There's quite a bit of Christmas going on here (oddly enough), so if you need a little something to ward off the January blues, I have some recommendations. ;)
A Christmas Carol and Other Stories
My rating: ★★★★
A Christmas Carol
5 out of 5 stars
[I copied most of this from my original review of A Christmas Carol, which can be found here.]
This book is weird. This book is spooky. This book is deep. But it also captures so perfectly the essence of Christmas—that “goodwill towards mankind”—that makes the season so beautiful.
I have to say, though, that one of my favorite parts came early on when Marley’s ghost visited Scrooge:
‘You are fettered,’ said Scrooge, trembling. ‘Tell me why?’
‘I wear the chain I forged in life,’ replied the Ghost. ‘I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it. Is its pattern strange to you?’
Though I don’t believe in ghosts, and certainly don’t believe that anyone is cursed to “go forth” in death if they didn’t in life, it was a very vivid picture of the chains we all end up trapped in at some point—the chains that only God can free us from. Marley’s chains were made of cash boxes and other things related to the miserly business he and Scrooge conducted. It was a sobering reminder that we aren’t to get so caught up in our business that we forget to be a blessing in other peoples’ lives. And that’s something we all need to remember from time to time—both during the Christmas season, when it seems to come so naturally, and the rest of the year.
Also, I’d just like to say that Scrooge is one of the most well-thought-out characters that I’ve ever come across, especially in older fiction. In the beginning Dickens introduces him as the most tight-fisted, crotchety old miser there ever was, but then he colored in his past and made me pity him, since he hadn’t always been that way, and by the end, Scrooge has undergone a tremendous change in his arc, and his joy at having been given a second chance was palpable.
All in all, it’s a new favorite, and will probably become a yearly Christmas-time read for me. (In fact I read it twice this December, after reading it for the very first time—which says a lot, coming from a person that hardly ever re-reads books!)
3 out of 5 stars
Admittedly, it’s got to be tough to be the story that comes directly after A Christmas Carol, but I didn’t enjoy this one as much. It was a biting satire highlighting the way rich people brainwash themselves and the poor people under them with comfortable lies—comfortable lies about how they’re a Friend and Father to the poor when they really do nothing but Put them Down. That made it rather depressing, for a large part of the book, since the main character “dies” early on, and in ghostly form watches his beloved daughter travel a hard path on her own, and ultimately try to commit suicide, because she believes the lies. The darker feel of this one knocked off two stars, since I personally don’t enjoy that as much, but it was extremely effective in its satire, and the characters were vivid, and the plot as well thought out as ever, thus the three I left.
The Haunted Man
3 out of 5 stars
This one was a little darker as well, but not as much as The Chimes, I thought. It was kind of a rewriting of the Midas’ Touch idea... except instead of turning everything he touched to gold, the main character erased all the memories of sorrow and wrong that a person had. Which sounds good in theory, but those times of suffering help us to appreciate the good times all the more, and without them everyone turned miserable and ungrateful. It was really thought-provoking, thus the three stars, but it didn’t grab me as much as some stories, and it felt a little dark. (Not “bad” dark, just depressing dark.) :P
Altogether I rated A Christmas Carol and Other Stories four stars since A Christmas Carol had rocketed so high on my list of favorite books, but the other two weren’t as impressive. Worth a read, definitely, but hard acts to watch after the first, which was such a work of genius.
Merry (belated) Christmas, dear readers of this blog!! I wanted to celebrate by writing a Christmas short story tied into the Warriors of Aralan series. I've written very few short stories, much less any Christmas-y ones, so it was something refreshingly new. It takes place in Calima, which is a country of dark-skinned people on Aralan's western border, a people that figure prominently in Journey to Freedom (WoA #8). Ironically, this Warriors of Aralan short story contains only one passing reference to Aralan itself.
I chose Calima as the setting for several reasons, but mainly because they're the country that introduced Christianity to Aralan back in Finding Hope (WoA #4), and would therefore be most likely to celebrate Christmas if any of the people in my stories did. I also chose them for the fact that the Caliman twins I introduced in Journey to Freedom are so full of the Christmas spirit the rest of the year, that they'd be the perfect ones to deliver this story during the actual Christmas season. (Only they don't call it Christmas—they call it Rakkaus—and if you're curious what that means, Google the translation.) ;)
This story takes place in the "winter" before Journey to Freedom, so if you've read that, there'll be lots of Easter eggs hidden inside. But if you haven't, don't worry, there aren't any spoilers. You'll just get to see a pair of awkwardly adorable identical twins doing their thing in my version of a Christmas story. :) Enjoy!
His Favorite Rakkaus Story
“You want to hear Elias’s favorite Rakkaus story?” Emory feigned a groan and glanced at his brother, enjoying the clamor of small voices just as much as he did.
All around them was a crowd of little ones, beaming faces highlighted by the cozy flickering glow of firelight emanating from the hearth. Nearby Emma, Josiah and Hadassah sat around the table on one end of the cottage, looking fondly upon the children—the oldest of which was barely ten years old.
This child in question lay on the floor on his stomach, chin propped up on both palms, grinning as he blew a stray lock of dark curly hair out of his face. “You always act like you don’t want to tell it, but you do!”
Emory heaved a long-suffering sigh and rolled his eyes. “If I must! But maybe I want to tell my favorite Rakkaus story once in a while you know…”
Elias prodded him in the ribs. “No one wants to hear about the five pounds of lamb roast you ate in one sitting any more than you want to remember the stomach ache it gave you.”
Emory looked indignant. “How should you know? Maybe I do!” After pausing dramatically for an instant, he leaned out over his young audience and lowered his voice to a ghostly whisper: “‘Twas a dark and stormy night—”
“It was not!” Elias treated his brother to another good jab in the ribs, much to the hilarity of the children present. “If you’re going to tell a story, do it right.”
Emory rubbed his ribs ruefully and appealed to the imagination of the youngsters. “Every good story deserves embellishment, doesn’t it? After all, announcing that it started on a bright and sunny morning doesn’t grab your attention much!”
“But it did start on a bright and sunny morning!” Elias laughed, “And it wasn’t just any bright and sunny morning. It was Rakkaus. And that was a very promising fact to the young whipper-snappers that we were…”
Last October I compiled a list of masculine Norwegian names for you, but with one thing and another, I haven't been able to make the female counterpart until now. Well, here it is!
Norwegian names have a really unique feel to them, and though I tried to find the most authentic ones, many of the names on this list are not necessarily Norwegian in origin, even if they're used in Norway. "What does that mean?" you ask. Well, take the name Maiken on this list, for example. It's a Danish and Norwegian diminutive of Maria, which is a form of Mary, which is, of course, a well-known name taken from English translations of the Bible. The reason I didn't list a meaning for Maiken when I put it on the list, is because Mary may mean "sea of bitterness," "rebelliousness," "wished-for child," "beloved," or "loved," depending on who you ask. When names are vague like that, or pass through four or five variations before what makes it to this list (like Katja, which came from Katya, which came from Yekaterina, which came from Katherine, which may have come from the name of the Greek goddess Hecate), I don't feel qualified to nail down a simple meaning for you, and left it blank, instead.
But you didn't come here to read about the evolution of names. You came here to find one for your woefully nameless lady character. So here you go! However, just in case Norwegian names aren't quite what you're going for, here's a few other lists of very different ethnicities that might prove more helpful.
• Male and Female English Names
• Male and Female Hebrew Names
• Male and Female Irish Names
Now, let the Norwegian names begin!
Agathe – good
Agnes – chaste
Agnetha – chaste
Ågot – good
Aina – the only one; always
Alfhild – elf; battle
Alva – elf
Anja – favor; grace
Annbjørg – eagle; help; save; rescue
Annelie – ?
Annette – favor; grace
Anniken – favor; grace
Arnbjørg – eagle; help; save; rescue
Åse – god
Asta – god; beautiful; beloved
Astrid – god; beautiful; beloved
Beata – blessed
Benedikte – blessed
Bente – blessed
Bergliot – protection; help; light
Berit – ?
Birgit – ?
Birgitta – ?
Birgitte – ?
Bjørg – help; save; rescue
Bodil – remedy; battle
Borghild – fortification; battle
Brit – ?
Brita – ?
Brynhild – armor; protection; battle
Welcome to Katelyn Buxton Books! I'm a Christian author and blogger, with a passion for writing stories that are not just enjoyable, but also lead people to Jesus. Feel free to look around, and enjoy your stay!
Progress for round three of edits on Warriors of Aralan #9: