Cover Reveal! Pendragon's Heir by Suzannah Rowntree

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Tonight I am very excited to share with you the cover-reveal of my fellow Aussie friend Suzannah Rowntree's upcoming novel, Pendragon's Heir! I've been keenly interested in Suzannah's work for a while now, and enjoy her blog and her literary reviews a lot. She's very talented but also deeply educated in literature. She has much to share and contribute to the writing community, and right now it's in the exciting form of an epic Arthurian fantasy novel!

Blanche Pendragon enjoys her undemanding life as the ward of an eccentric nobleman in 1900 England. It's been years since she even wondered what happened to her long lost parents, but then a gift on the night of her eighteenth birthday reveals a heritage more dangerous and awe-inspiring than she ever dreamed of--or wanted. Soon Blanche is flung into a world of wayfaring immortals, daring knights, and deadly combats, with a murderous witch-queen on her trail and the future of a kingdom at stake. As the legendary King Arthur Pendragon and his warriors face enemies without and treachery within, Blanche discovers a secret that could destroy the whole realm of Logres. Even if the kingdom could be saved, is she the one to do it? Or is someone else the Pendragon's Heir?

I must say I am greatly intrigued! The story-premise, for one, sounds thrilling and wonderful. . . also, don't you love the artwork of the book-cover? It's pretty fantastic, I think; you can check out Suzannah's recent blog-post where she shares the process of how she came to create the design of her novel. How about you? Is your interest piqued? The release date is set for March 26, I believe, so you can keep a look out for that. Suzannah is also offering in a delightful giveaway to celebrate its upcoming release, an advanced copy of Pendragon's Heir in the e-format of of your choice. Enter link below for your chance to win :))
a rafflecopter giveaway

Toodle-pips, my fellow inklings! I must go off and prepare for bed now, and for an early start to my studies tomorrow, like a good girl. By the by as a wee note, I really appreciated the beautiful comments and words of encouragement you all left on my last blogpost, "I Had A Little Nut Tree / Writing When You're In Highschool". It was pretty overwhelming and beautiful the amount of encouragement I found through your thoughts, friends. Thank you :).


"I Had a Little Nut Tree" | Writing When You're in Highschool

Thursday, 12 February 2015

"All Quiet on the Western Front" is so sad, and very moving. Also the writing is raw and beautiful. 

"I had a little nut tree, Nothing would it bear
But a silver nutmeg, And a golden pear. 

The King of Spain's daughter, Came to visit me,
And all for the sake, Of my little nut tree."

It has been a while since I've talked about my writing on my blog; I am not exactly certain what's the real cause of this reticence on my part, except perhaps to put it rather bluntly: I have not had much success with my writing in the past several months. I've written very little. Let's not even talk about the quality of that "little" writing, please!

It is not a nice thing to admit, really. For the past year, I've been going through a bit of a rough patch in regards to my writing and inspiration, and really seeking direction to what I am doing. Because honestly, the older I get the more I feel I know less and have no clue as to what I am really doing as a writer and artist. It feels like going back to square one, or to the rudiments of the English alphabet. It's awkward, its painful. . . why did the store of words that seemed to flow like a fountain of inspiration some two years before feel now so stale and dry and lifeless? How could a simple scene that might have taken a week for me to write a while back, now take months for me to feel happy about? Where has my imagination drifted off to? I am trying - I try to scribble things, and my main aim in literary creativity these days is simply to try. It's simply to learn. 

I think I'm realizing that the older I get, and the more knowledge I acquire (as well as more experience), the more difficult it is to learn how to harness the use of words and imagination to the best I can. The more you have and know, the more it is that is required of you (both from yourself and by others). Isn't there a verse in the Gospels along those lines? :)

So. I've been reading. From the classics, history, devotional, a streak of modern authors. Trying to sharpen my mind and spark the embers of imagination again. I thought it was amazing to read Chloe sharing her current literary experience recently on her blog, The Write Solution (When Your Stories Run Dry) ,who seemingly has been running along very similar lines as myself when it comes to where we are in our writing journey. She shares about filling up the empty tank, reading and learning. For example, in the holidays I read Jenny's latest novel. And Plenilune, while rather disappointing morally and story-wise, ignited me with a passion for the fire of words again - it also got me doing a lot of analysing and thinking analytically/critically. I am so used to reading books in my own sphere and tastes that sometimes a totally different "out-of-my-comfort-zone" sort of book is just the sort of thing I need to jar me into using my critical senses. It's good training! On that note - I do plan on reviewing Jennifer Freitag's novel soon on my blog, by the way (just to keep you updated ;). Likewise, watching The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies stirred in me the desire to capture deep emotions, and rich characters, and powerful themes. . . especially about the things that truly matter in life, and about faithful friendship. I pulled out Gaskell's "North and South", just to reread my favourite bits of the heartfelt story of Margaret Hale and John Thornton in all its vivid drama; reading bits of romantic and classic poetry by Wordsworth, Keats and T.S. Elliot; going back to my favourites - The Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien never fails to inspire me), and watching my younger sister get caught up in the grand adventure of Bilbo and the thirteen dwarves in The Hobbit book gets me excited with the sheer passion and love of stories, characters and words. 

My reading pile includes "All Quiet on the Western Front" by Erich Maria Remarque (a gritty, sad look at WW1 from the perspective of the German boys), "David Copperfield" by Charles Dickens (I actually really love this story, and love the way Dickens wrote it in autobiographical style!), "The Princess and the Goblin" by George MacDonald (such a delightful tale), and "Secure in the Everlasting Arms" by Elizabeth Elliot (this is very good :)).. I also can't help but revisiting some of my old favourites: "The Fellowship of the Ring" by J.R.R. Tolkien, "North and South" by Elizabeth Gaskell, and even a little bit of "Chasing Jupiter" by Rachel Coker! 
Bottom hardback: "All Quiet on the Western Front", "The Princess and the Goblin", - that musty grey one is "David Copperfield", "William Wordsworth" poetry, and ha! Beowulf somehow made it into the pile (admittedly, I am not reading it yet, exactly).
blogpost ideas. . . LOTS! (and very little time to write them :)).
The devotional reads. . . "Secure in the Everlasting Arms" by Elizabeth Elliot has been really, really encouraging. I haven't started "The Cost of Discipleship" yet. . .
going back to the oldies. . .  
An Oxford Thesaurus in the flesh!
Gracie caught me writing notes. . .
See, in between the grit of schoolwork, the busyness of family life and time with friends, it can be hard to remember the treasure of words, stories, people, moments and memories; cherishing it all up. Bits and pieces, gathering ideas and images in my mind. Most days, it looks something like this: 

Silver. Grey. Overused. Ancient. Stale. Worn. Dreary. Melancholy. Lifeless. Clichéd. Commonplace. Trite. Corny. Stereotyped. Childhood. Deep-rooted. Timeworn. Previous. Antique. Early. Olden. Primeval. Ageless. Matured. Venerable. Decayed. Sour. Musty. Hard. Fusty. Damaged. Shabby. Tatty. Dog-eared.  Dilapidated. Tattered. Threadbare. Obsolete. Old-fashioned. Archaic. Bleached. Cheerless. Bleak. Routine. Monotonous. Lowering. Dampening. Reducing. Disheartening. Glum. Colourless. Dingy. Dowdy. Limp. Insensible. Comatose. Inert. Unoriginal. Passé. Everyday. Unimaginative. Humdrum. Familiar. Normal. Pedestrian. Unsophisticated. Pigeonholed. Fatigued. Drained. Mind-numbing. Infanthood. Upbringing. Infancy. Deep-seated. Inherent. Entrenched. Subconscious. Frayed. Erstwhile. Vintage. Traditional. Out-of-date. Perpetual. Classic. Unchanging. Mellowed. Seasoned. Full-fledged. Revered. August. Respected. Mouldy. Perished. Corroded. . . 

I pulled out all these words from "Word" thesaurus this past week. I was numb to words, and writing poetically. I needed some inspiration-blitzing rather urgently. So I did that, simply by starting out on the word "silver" and building from there using one synonym on top of another synonym. Ironically, the definition, the whole atmosphere of those words fit into what I am feeling rather well. It felt so good. I am going back to my trusty Oxford Thesaurus from now on to inspire me with the love of words again! 

Out of the pile of lifeless, dingy words I picked up, I wrote these melodramatic sentences which actually make me laugh. I even used the first two lines in A Love that Never Fails, yesterday. ^_^
 Silver was the frayed gleam of martial colour and glory; it was hoary with age, but venerable with respect. . .  The sky dripped with melancholy that bleached, August morning. . . An overworked Pedestrian crossed through unsophisticated seasons in a bleak and cheerless routine of the humdrum. . . She was pigeonholed in the age-old, subconscious traditions of her Elderly forefathers. . . I feel comatose, as if erstwhile I stand in the colourless features of this threadbare world, I am reduced to the corroded frosts of my upbringing. . . 

And then, the story-product:
Tilting her head up wistfully, she watched the pattern of raindrops on the windowpanes. The sky dripped with melancholy on that bleached grey February afternoon.‘Tis the shade of . . . silver, she thought, sadly. But silver was the frayed gleam of martial colour and glory; it was hoary with age, but venerable with respect. . . - A Love that Never Fails.

I know. It's melodramatic to the extreme. I really feel like all I have is a little nut tree, nothing to bear but a silver nutmeg and a golden pear :). But I am okay with that. These days I am not writing a novel with the hopes of publication. I am writing simply because I want to learn. . . because I need a release valve from normal life, a place to write bits of my heart and experience and emotions. Because I have a story that I love deep down, and one-day hope to write as beautifully and accurately to the images in my head as I can possibly make them. Oh, goodness, it is so hard trying to be patient with that. But I am also going to try and enjoy this season of my writing life. Because God has put me in this place and time for a purpose, and I want to appreciate it and gain all I can from it, by His grace. I know the experience of learning will never quite end, but some seasons have the "waiting" a bit more than others. Therefore, for now I will just keep writing crappy, melodramatic synonymous sentences, scenes and novels, and enjoy the process of learning to become a better writer like it's the Theme-Park ride of a lifetime. 

Because it really is. 

Filling Teacups - a guest post by Chloe M. Kookogey

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

But surely you think of the grey times, 
the dark, fruitless days with no sun? 
I recall filling teacups with sunshine, 
my dishpans as battlefields won.
Dinner-time conversations are always interesting ones. We sit around the long wooden table that's scuffed and marked and dinged and has seen more flour spills and soup spills and milk spills than you can count, and in between the chatter, the high giggles, and the interruptions of "pass the rice, please," and a less patient "where's the butter?", we drop seeds with our words. Not all thoughts are brilliant ones — and when we're hungry, the majority are far from it — but every once in a while, the seed falls just so, working its way through the old wooden table and the fabric of our clothes, and nests in our bosoms. There it stays, silent, hidden, until an unexpected splash of water calls it into life and the small green bud pushes itself out of uncomfortable soil and into the light.

Several weeks ago we had a guest for dinner, which meant our own free clamor was diminished as Daddy guided the conversation into more significant avenues. The talk turned to grandparents, specifically my father's father, who passed away in 2011 at the age of ninety-two. Our favorite stories of Grampie are those that take place several decades before his death, way back into the high summer of my own father's childhood, a mismatched bundle including the story of the Native American man who ran a campground store and supposedly answered "Me fixum lantern" to my grandfather's request, the stories of playing at being business men in my grandfather's office and sneaking gumdrops from the secretary's glass jar, and the old, old tales of when he was a pale, skinny boy living in that tremulous time between the Great War and the war that followed it. But this night in particular we discussed his last years.

"You know," Daddy says between bites, "my father didn't retire until he was in his eighties." He went on to say how my grandmother had encouraged him to retire at an earlier age, but Grampie would not give in. He didn't think it was right to stop working when one was still hale and healthy and sharp of mind.

My father's words struck me curiously, though I didn't recall them until a week later, when I was bent on the ground, reorganizing a lower cupboard that flatly refused to stay neat. The sentiment came gushing back over me in a sudden rush. You see, my grandfather was not one of those men who lived for the profit. He didn't scrounge and save his money for retirement and spend his autumn years in the tropics, though he could have if he wanted to. Despite the polio that never left his leg and forced him to walk with a cane more than half his life, he rarely complained and he always worked hard. Even when we visited him in his later years, he was still lively and busy, always reading, always learning. He greeted us with a smile, a cheerful laugh, and an able mind, despite his clumsy, stiffening limbs. 
He was a simple man who lived a simple life in a simple town most people have never heard of. But he taught my father the value of honest labor, of taking pride in your craft and not the money it makes for you, and my father in his turn passes it down to us.

I need hardly say that our world no longer regards labor as a legitimate virtue. We either squander our time in frivolity or we trudge through jobs that are only a means to an end, eyes alight for the next vacation or break. Work is loathsome, uncomfortable, and dirty. It forces you to sweat, cry, and sometimes even bleed. It's too much for our frail frames to subject ourselves to such conditions without receiving much in return. We shouldn't have to feel the splinters in our hands.

Are you ready for the harsh truth?

Writers do that too.

We're not exempt from the ploys of society, though we'd like you to think so as we hide behind our horn-rims and our third mug of tea. We too sometimes get so caught up in the next release, the next book-signing, and the next blast of confetti that we forget about the innocent pleasure in putting words down on paper. We've lost our thrill. We seek cheap extravagance in the lowlands because we've forgotten what it is to feel a breeze blow over us in the highlands.

when did we lose our healthy pride? when did we lose our simple joy?

Writing is one of the hardest jobs a man can work, and most times, he ends up with little but stacks of inky pages to show for it. The books that become bestsellers are those that are pounded out for the modern public, full of every ungodly excess that the author knows will win him approval. The classics are not classics until an age has passed, and more often than not, the author does not live to see it. More than one author who we now quote in Pinterest graphics and herald as a genius died in a small, cold room, his passing unmarked by all but his family.

We cry, we struggle, and we shake, but we push forward. Even if it's only five hundred words and our goal was two thousand. Even if we know this book may never see the light of day, let alone a publishing house and a reading public. The man who labors faithfully, pouring his all into his work and taking pride in his creation, is no less a writer than the bestselling author whose name is on every tongue. Honest labor is a joy. We don't write because we want to appear on morning talk shows and New York Times top twenty-five lists. We lay down sentences together because our God is a God of creation, and to understand something is to spin it out again in new words.

we won't always live to see the results, but that should never keep us from pressing on towards the light, creating and crafting to our utmost ability.

About the author:
Chloe M. Kookogey is a young lady of tender years who takes pleasure in a variety of pastimes, chief among them being writing. She lives in the southern United States with her large family, and has been home schooled her whole life. Her debut novel, Violets Are Blue, was published in April 2012 under the pen-name Elizabeth Rose and can be purchased on Amazon.