Your Writing Future – A Reminder for Writers, Part One

“I don’t know what my writing future holds.”

This is a paraphrase of what I’ve seen several of my blogging friends say. It echoes something I too often feel and face: uncertainty regarding my writing future. At times, it gets so bad I allow this fear of the unknown, this uncertainty, to dictate what and how I write. Numerous stories are currently abandoned because I didn’t think they were good enough. When I sit down and place my fingers on the keyboard, I have to fight the questions often lingering in the back of my mind. Is this book any good? Will I actually finish this one? What if I receive another rejection? What if permanent writer’s block hits and I can’t get past it? What if it’s just a sloppy, weak story overall? It’s nothing like the books I love and have on my shelves.

These questions are crippling, and I know many writers have faced them head-on and lost, myself included. Since reading a friend’s post a few days ago, this has been on my heart. This post might be rough and might seem like I’m inundating you with verses and songs, and am rambling all over the place, but I’m praying I can transfer what I’ve been ruminating on into clear paragraphs and sentences so those of you who struggle with this can find help and encouragement as we travel this road together.


Not knowing can be nebulous, unsettling, and stressful. It can cause fear and that sinking feeling in your stomach as you contemplate the unknown. We bear this burning passion to write, to create, to weave stories and tales that touch others, but that passion comes with the crippling kryptonite we know as fear.

Oh, it may not feel like fear at first, but that is the root of it. Fear of what we do not know. Fear that our writing may go nowhere. Fear that our writing career will sink before it ever sets sail. We long to know that what we’re doing today will make a difference tomorrow. That these words emerging from the depths of our hearts, souls, and minds will bless others.

We humans are foolishly silly. We think we can control the future. Doing so would be nice, we think, being able to decide when we finish our books, how popular they’ll be, and how our writing careers will go. That stems from a desire to control, which is a branch from the tree of fear. Not knowing the future unsettles us. We want to reach out and create our future like we create the worlds we write. We want tie it in a nice bow and place it in a safe only we can access – all because we want things to go our way. How we want them to. We don’t want to question, to wonder, what tomorrow, the next week, and year, and the next decade will bring. We want to know in advance so we can plan.

In that desire, we derail ourselves. We get off the track we need to be on and crown ourselves queen or king of our writing future.

Reality check: we’re not. The crown we wear is one of our own making. It is superficial and, ultimately, will lead us nowhere.

I’ve donned my crown many times, thinking by my writing ability alone will I succeed, will I impress a publisher or acquisitions editor. I forget to align my heart with the One who created it. I forget that He was the one who gave me this desire to write. I forget that only though His will will I ever publish a book.

On the other hand, a crippling fear and anxiety can grip my heart. I’m not good enough. What if I fail? Will I no longer have a chance at success? It’s an odd dichotomy, this rancid pride and this debilitating fear of what the future may hold.

I’m the type who likes to control everything. I like everything neatly organized and where it should be. Heaven help the soul who dares mess up the order of things. Because of this, I want to control my writing future. When I can’t foresee what will happen, or where my writing is going, that fear rises. When I think I have a decent WIP, that pride reemerges.

In my effort to reassure myself I can do this, I place a chain on my writing. I hinder it by my inane delusions that Madisyn is the one who can do it all by herself. Help? Pft. What an alien concept. No assistance needed, God. I’m a big girl. I can do this alone. Or I contemplate quitting writing or dis the idea I”m working on. The idea of claiming the title of author is so far out of reach it feels like it’ll never come to fruition.

Either way, I’m leaning on myself. I’m relying on my tenuous grasp on the future. I’m trying to pave my own path and am ignoring that God’s plan might be different than mine.

It brings to mind Anthem Lights’ song “Follow Your Heart”. Our own way is nothing compared to God’s.

Fellow writers, why, oh why do we reject the unarguable truth that the One who gave us this desire to write will not fail in providing us a future for writing? Whether we think we, with our all-so-mighty-and-incredible plans, can conquer every writing obstacle with ease, or we doubt and question and fear our writing future, we’re brushing aside the truth. We can’t do this alone.

A big part of this is that we hesitate to give Him everything. Do we doubt He can bear it all? Do we think it’s too much for Him? Or do we simply struggle through the mire created by our futile attempts to blaze our own paths?

Think about the following verse and the lyrics of the next song:

We can make all the plans we want, but God determines our steps. Why is it so difficult place our writing into the hands of the One who holds the stars?

An image of Gollum comes to mind. That ugly creature hunched over the ring and obsessing over it, or even just after Smeagol killed Deagol for it, and is stroking the ring and whispering, “My precious”. We’re a lot like Gollum. We hunch over our writing, clutching it to our chests while hissing at God, “Mine. My precious”.

That’s not who I want to resemble.

Another big part in this is fear of the unknown. If we’re honest with ourselves, we don’t like not knowing what’s going to happen. We see this throughout the millenniums. Humanity has tried numerous methods – all wrong and antiBiblical – to ascertain the future: Fortune tellers; astrology; sacrifices to the gods in exchange for knowledge of what was to come. Humanity is driven with the need to know the future, and we collectively will do anything to get that knowledge.

Not knowing is scary. It can be nebulous and encases our hearts and minds in fear’s choke hold. This is natural, to an extent. But when we allow fear to become even a slight whisper in the back of our minds, we give it a foothold in our writing.

Not knowing the future feels like you’re wandering along, alone, on a mist-shrouded path. Surrounded by dark sylvan outlines, mist droplets peppering your face. You think you know where you’re going – after all, you chose this path in the beginning, when everything was clear. Now, all you can do is stumble through the mist and wander in the direction you think is right.

I’m going to quote the aforementioned blog post I read a few days ago, which addresses this matter: “You don’t need to know what God’s doing to trust Him” (quote courtesy of Issabelle). How true this is, and how grateful we should be that God’s wisdom and power don’t depend on our plans or lack thereof.

Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established”. Do realize that doesn’t mean our plans the way we’d like them, but our plans as they come into accordance with God’s will.

Our prayers need to echo the lyrics of “Help Me Find It” by Sidewalk Prophets: “Whatever Your will, can You help me find it?”.

With this prayer comes the necessity to release our control. Fearing the unknown and letting that fear control our writing is a poison. It weakens us, slowly wearing away our understanding that God, not us, is in control. It’s naturally difficult for us to hand over the reins. It goes against our fleshly nature to give Someone else control.

But when we wrest away control from ourselves and hand it over to the One who formed us and decides when we draw our last breath, we are stepping into submission to God’s will and saying, “Here I am. Use me, use my writing, according to Your will”.

When we return the control we’ve stolen, our writing is in the safest hands it could ever be in. Take to heart Proverbs 3:5-6 and the songs below.

Understanding that our writing futures are in God’s control is worthless if we then fight God’s will at every turn. When we say we give it to Him, we need to mean it. Understanding must coincide with our willingness to obey, even if it looks like a door we’d really like to walk through is closing. It’s closing for a reason. When another will open, or why it’s closing is for God only to know. Remember, we see one letter amongst the vast pages of a master tome. This is part of giving Him control. Handing everything over, even the outcome or lack thereof regarding our writing. We can’t say, “Thy will be done” and then retract our statement and try adding in a clause stating, “Thy will be done for everything but this particular issue”.

He will create our writing futures in a way only He can design. It won’t always be easy, but we need to willingly follow the path He provides.

It won’t always be easy. We won’t always know what God has planned for us. But we need to face our fear of the unknown, admit that we cannot control it, and recognize that even if God’s plan differs from ours, His is the best way. Don’t let fear hold you back from pursuing the desire to write. Keep in mind these three verses:

Behold, God is my salvation;  I will trust, and will not be afraid.” – Isaiah 12:2a

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” – John 14:27

Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” – James 4:15

These three verses remind us not to fear and to remember that Christ provides peace in our uncertainty. The last one is a good reminder that everything we do ought to be from a desire to accomplish the Lord’s will.

We say we know Who holds the future, but do we really believe it?

As you continue writing, and when you face the fear of your unknown writing future – for you will face it, remember we are not meant to control what will come. Our attempts will leave us empty, worn, and depleted.

Take courage and know that the Creator, the One who made galaxies and worlds, is fully capable of forming our writing futures and seeing them to completion.

The Scarlet Pen

Has Emma Draycott been hoodwinked by a cunning charmer?

Enjoy a tale of true but forgotten history of a 19th century serial killer whose silver-tongued ways almost trap a young woman into a nightmarish marriage.


Author: Jennifer Uhlarik

Series: True Colors

Publisher: Barbour

Length: 256 pages

Beginning Reader Age: 16


About:

In 1876, Emma Draycott is charmed into a quick engagement with childhood friend Stephen Dee Richards after reconnecting with him at a church event in Mount Pleasant, Ohio. But within the week, Stephen leaves to “make his fame and fortune.” The heartbroken Emma gives him a special pen to write to her, and he does with tales of grand adventures.

Secret Service agent Clay Timmons arrives in Mount Pleasant to track purchases made with fake currency. Every trail leads back to Stephen—and therefore, Emma. Can he convince the naive woman she is engaged to a charlatan who is being linked a string of deaths in Nebraska?


Positive Elements:

A friend encourages doing the right thing.


Negative Elements:

Two potential uses of God’s name in vain. They’re followed by prayers a few sentences later, and I’ve never read the Lord’s name in vain in the author’s other works, but I was uncertain regarding the phrases’ intent.


Religion/Spiritual/Faith Elements:

Characters pray; church and going to church is mentioned quite often; a character claims salvation; the Bible is quoted and read.


Violence:

Kittens are murdered; characters are brutally murdered throughout the book, though the gruesome deaths are tastefully written; a character mentions being attacked; there is implication of a potential rape; deaths are explained; characters are shot.


Other:

Characters kiss; female characters are cheated on.


Rating:

4 Stars


The Scarlet Pen details the nefarious deeds and exploits of a nasty murderer and conman whom most forget exist. The plot is excellent and suspenseful, and will keep you on the edge of your seat. Murders are described, though tactfully, so readers 15 and younger should wait to read this book.

I didn’t care much for Emma until the very end. She was whiny, didn’t exhibit much common sense, and was self-centered. While this ended up working for her character arc, and she later does admit to her shortcomings, she wasn’t a heroine I connected with. Clay was a wonderful character and it’s through his and the antagonist’s POVs that the author’s skill shines. Like just aforementioned, we are treated to a “look” through the antagonist’s eyes. The author does quite well at this, showing the reader the antagonist’s slow descent into insanity. It’s delightfully chilling.

The Scarlet Pen is a solid four out of five stars. I wouldn’t advise it for younger readers, but for anyone else who’s looking for a good blend of historical romance and suspense, I recommend The Scarlet Pen.

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Freedom Isn’t Free

Courage and sacrifice come in many forms, many types. Today, we honor those who exhibited the ultimate type of courage and sacrifice and love. From the Battle of Lexington and Concord, to the Battle of Gettysburg, the Alamo, WWI’s Battle of the Somme and WWII’s D Day and Battle of the Bulge, to the Korean, Vietnam, Iraqi, and Afghanistan wars, freedom is paid with the color crimson.

Freedom is paid for, won, and kept by blood.

This is the ultimate sacrifice. This is the ultimate type of courage.

Today we honor those who emulated John 15:13 and laid down their lives for those who would never know them, those who would forget about them, those who would disparage their sacrifice, those who would live in enviable freedom paid for by blood. By honor. Courage. Sacrifice. Love.

To those who fought and died so the United States of America can remain free, there are no words strong enough or powerful enough that can describe the gratitude you deserve. Thank you for your sacrifice.

May we always remember freedom isn’t free.

Happy Memorial Day.

This song perfectly captures Memorial Day.

Crafting Characters

In my personal experience, one of the hardest parts of writing – besides finishing the book – is crafting characters. We don’t want them to have the same personality, the same outlook on life, the same reactions. We want them to jolt our readers, to be distinct, and to make an impression. Crafting one character can be difficult. Crafting many? Even harder.

How can we be successful in creating a memorable character? There is neither a specific recipe nor a black-and-white approach everyone must follow, but there are a few ways we can make crafting characters a fun event and not one of stress – and save some time while we’re at it.


ASK QUESTIONS

There are multiple questions you can ask to learn more about your characters, questions you can find by doing a quick search. Their favorite color. Their favorite food. Their least favorite memory. Someone’s who impacted their life.

These questions are fine, and certainly have their place; however, they’re shallow, meaning they don’t tell you much about your character. You can change that by asking why blue is your character’s favorite color. What makes that memory their least favorite. Why is their grandma someone who’s seriously impacted their life.

Perhaps blue reminds them of a beloved object, or the wide open sky, which resembles freedom. Maybe that memory was when a loved one was injured, or they said something they shouldn’t have and hurt another, and now live with that guilt. Maybe their grandma walked beside them as they struggled through tough life events or helped them through a difficult time.

I’m not saying to do this with every question; in fact, I advise that you not. That would be over-complicating things, which just makes it harder on you while developing your character. Pick about a third of the “shallow” questions you ask and put some depth into them. Not everyone has a favorite color because it resembles or reminds them of something.

We often forget to focus on the nitty-gritty. The questions obviously depend on the character, but by simply studying those around us, we can conceive perfect questions to help shape and mold our characters. By simply studying ourselves we can gain insight on how to add depth to our characters. Everyone believes a lie about themselves. Everyone has had past experiences that affect their outlook on life. Is your character jaded and/or cynical from being betrayed by who they thought was a close friend? This will seriously impact how close they allow others to get to them, which causes a multitude of trickle-down effects.  

Do they connect better with those younger or older than them? Why? If they are sarcastic, is it because that’s just the way they are or is it a self-protection method? And what about how they deal with bullies? This can tell you a lot about your character. Are they the type to confront them head on? Will they get help or tiptoe past and pretend like it’s not their issue? All three methods can be both strengths (well, not the third one – that’s just cowardice) and weaknesses.

Don’t forget about how your character reacts to someone they dislike – dislike as in someone who annoys you but you can’t really verbalize why; you just don’t like them. When forced to speak with them, do they exhibit a polite facade, or do they withdraw and cut the conversation as quickly as possible? My parents and sister do a good job of acting like they have no issue being around a generally annoying individual. Myself, not so much.

These are but a few of the plethora of questions you can ask to gain insight and add depth to your character. Be creative, don’t be afraid to delve into the tough aspects.


FIND A CHARACTER SONG

I connect with songs. They say the words I can’t, and there’s nothing like listening to a song that captures how you feel or voices the pain or emotion you’re dealing with.That’s one reason why my MCs usually have at least three character songs. Don’t worry, you don’t need three to create a three-dimensional character. Find a song that captures your character. This helps not only form your character, but when you’re in a writing rut or suffering from writer’s block, listening to your character’s song can help unlock creativity.

Below are two songs for a current MC. Both songs capture his struggles and his voiceless cries for normalcy, answers, and understanding of past events. “20/20” has a strong hope and faith message, while “Save Me” is raw and gritty.


FIND YOUR CHARACTER A BIBLE VERSE, CATCHPHRASE, and QUOTE

Every part of the Bible is important, but there are some verses/chapters/books that our souls just connect to, or verses that slam into us and cause us to acquiesce that this is something we need to work on, something we need to grow in. One Bible verse that will greatly influence one of my characters is Micah 6:8b. Not only does this enhance the overall faith element of your writing, it helps grow your character’s faith, as well.

Seek justice, love mercy, walk humbly. Micah 6:8b

Just as everyone has a catchphrase, a pet word, or a phrase they repeat or say often, so should your characters. That’s only natural. I’ve been told one of my pet words is “technically”. One of my character’s pet phrases is You can do better, Oren.

There are always quotes that remind us of others. My sister is short. A quote that reminds me of her is “Short person problems” (because she can’t reach a thing and the first thing they did when she was training in at work was to show her the step-stools. Poor munchkin.). A quote for one of my characters is by G.K. Chesterton:

Whenever God means to make a man great, He always breaks him in pieces first.

G.J. Chesterton

GIVE YOUR CHARACTER PERSONALITY

I find personality type quizzes amusing. Sometimes they’re terribly off. Other times, like for the MBTI test, it’s straight on. This plethora can help you find a personality for your character. You don’t necessary need to make them a specific type or number or quadrant (e.g. ISTJ, ENFP, Choleric, Melancholy), but draw from the types to create your character. Do they act based on emotion or thought? Does human interaction energize or drain them? Are they jovial or grumpy? Are they “feeling or facts” or “facts over feeling”?

Are they quick tempered or slow to boil? What about their quirks? Do they organize, drum their fingers, twiddle with something, or pace when they’re nervous? How do they react to authority and structure? Do they thrive on structure and law or are they free spirit? Do they prefer being in charge, following the leader, or are they adaptable to both? Are they a realist, optimist, pessimist, or opportunist?

Here’s a snippet of a quick character personality list for a new character I’m creating:

Secretly cares but doesn’t want the world or himself to know | Likes: Snickerdoodle cookies [also his deceased sister’s fave] | Hates: Spinach | Weapon of Choice: whatever gets him out of his current situation | Phobia: tight spaces – because of what happened on that day

This tells you:

1) he’s a grouch (he’ll be working on that)

2) he likes a certain treat because his sister did

3) he hates spinach (in this we’re kindred spirits)

4) he has a gift of finding trouble

5) something happened that makes him have a serious fear of tight spaces (poor thing. He’ll rue the day he discovers I know that).

There are major aspects of the personality and minor aspects. You needn’t be a psychology major to craft a character who strikes readers’ hearts and steals the story. Determining some simple, quick facts will not only make your character unique, but affect how they interact with other. And unless your character is a hermit living in a part of the land only they know of, they will interact with others at some point.


These are but a few ways you can craft a characters. As aforementioned, there is not specific recipe or black-and-white way. Still, characters with depth are necessary to your story.

What are some ways you craft your characters? What are some difficulties you encounter doing so? Or, if you’re a reader, what are ways you think writers/authors can improve character development? Let me know! Or, if you just want to talk about life, drop a post!


SIMILAR POSTS

Seven Things to Know As You Begin Your Writing Journey

Advice for Beginning Writers

Free Resources for Writers

When Motivation Goes on Strike

Abort

It’s easy to tell when someone is dead, but what makes them alive?


Book: Abort

Author: C.D. Hulen

Publisher: Self published

Genre: Allegorical Science Fiction

Length: 182 pages


ABOUT:

It’s easy to tell when someone is dead, but what makes them alive? Is it the memories they keep, or the pain they feel, or the love they share? For Cecilio, the first colony of Proxima B, the answer could bring prosperity or crack the very foundations of society.

After a five-year leave of absence, Commander Mason Wyatt is sent to an antique starship with the chance to earn back his rank and bury his past. All he must do is uphold the answer: life is what Cecilio says it is. But as the starship nears Proxima B, Mason’s past boils to the surface and Cecilio’s answer begins to unravel.


You may notice this isn’t my usual review format. That’s due to the positive and violent elements containting major spoilers. Read on to learn more about Abort.

Faith Elements:

Characters pray and prayers is mentioned; a character speaks of clinging to God; God is discussed; parts of “Amazing Grace” are heard and sang; believers are arrested; Hell is mentioned; there is a strong redemptive and salvation message.


Other:

A character drinks; it is implied a child is conceived out of wedlock.


Rating:

5 Stars


Conclusion:

Years ago, Earth was abandoned. New worlds on new planets were formed. New governments came to be. Yet, in this new age, something remains the same: people believing they have the power to choose who lives and who dies. It is the collision between this belief and the sanctity of life that provides the backbone for Abort.

The reader is immediately catapulted into mystery, chaos, and Mason, the protagonist’s, growing, desperate need for truth and clarity. If the cover doesn’t captivate you, the first chapter of this story will. With the way the world’s going, I can easily see events similar to those in Abort happening. The characters are well-written, the plot thoughtful and suspenseful, and the emergence of God’s truth and the sanctity of life profound. There is violence, but it is handled tastefully.

Though short – less than 200 pages – everything about this book is captivating. The desperate struggle between conscience and man’s “wisdom” is central to the plot and will capture the reader, refusing to release them until they read the last page. Ultimately, this book deals with confronting abortion. I applaud the author for taking a stand against the destruction of innocent life. That, alone, gives this book it’s five star rating.

Abort will sweep the reader into a chilling, intense, raw, and gritty story filled with redemption, salvation, and sacrifice.

*I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Madi’s Musings’ Sixth Blogiversary

Greetings, dear readers.

Today is Madi’s Musings’ Sixth Blogiversary. It’s a bit weird, as when I began the blog I never contemplated it’d still be going strong six years later, but here we are. Welcome!

The past few weeks have been hectic and busy. I graduated with my AA in English and yesterday reached 73,000 on my WIP. Along with beginning my own editing and graphic design business (more on that next week, I hope), praying for guidance on if I should pursue a Bachelor’s degree, and the typical potholes of life, I’d go insane if I hadn’t already lost my sanity. If this post seems somewhat disjointed, it’s because is probably is. I’m excited to celebrate the sixth blogiversary, but I wish it’d arrived at a calmer time.

Anyway.

Hopefully your week is going well! Thank you for joining me in celebrating Madi’s Musings’ sixth blogiversary. We have history and origin, goals, facts and statistics, some writing quotes (not from me), and some Q&A.


HISTORY AND ORIGIN

Madi’s Musings began May 13, 2015. The blog’s origins are the culmination of a mixture of a suggestion, a love of reading, and the struggle of finding quality, clean, Christian books.

Mom and I were discussing this struggle one night when she made a comment I never expected: “Why don’t you start a book review blog so others in the same predicament can find good books?”. Two weeks later, I clicked the publish button, and Madi’s Musings was officially born.

The blog has seen a few different styles throughout the years, some worse than others. It went through a parchment phase, a green phase, and a dull, boring phase. I’m quite pleased with how it looks right now. The gray wood as the background is actually a blurred picture of old barn wood. Since I live in state with plenty of barns, cattle, horses, and the beautiful mountains, the rustic appearance appeals to me.

My review style changed, too. At first, I only posted the book’s blurb, cover, info, and my thoughts. While reading a movie review on Plugged In, I was inspired to adopt a similar method. Most of the reviews bearing my old review method have been hidden from the public’s view or permanently discarded.

When I began Madi’s Musings, I was determine to only do book reviews. I had no idea what blog tours, book tours, and tags were. I never considered author interviews, celebrating a blogiversary, or being part of a book tour. This blog has become so much more than I imagined, and I’ve met so many wonderful people and have read so many delightful books I otherwise wouldn’t have been granted the pleasure – or knowledge – of reading.


FACTS AND STATISTICS

As of this post, Madi’s Musings has:

  • Reviewed 82 books.
  • Participated in a combined total of 13 tours and cover reveals.
  • Interviewed six authors.
  • Posted ten miscellaneous or writing advice posts.
  • Collaborated with my mom for 2020’s All Things Christmas series.
  • Participated in four tags and has been tagged twice.
  • Been requested to review at least 19 books (five of which will be reviewed in the next few months, so stay tuned).
  • Somehow landed on a few “Top Ten Blogs” re BookSirens, which amuses me because I don’t review a lot of historical or suspense books – and for some baffling reason Madi’s Musings is listed.
  • 2020 was the busiest year traffic-wise, but 2021 is only 185 views behind, and we’re not even halfway through the year.
  • The average post word count is 528 words.
  • 2020 saw the highest word count so far, peaking at 31,527.
  • Aside from the Home, About, and Request a Review pages, Free Resources for Writers is the most visited post.
  • Christmas Stitches is the most reviewed book.
  • Christmas Stitches, Daughter of Light, and Hideous Beauty are the three most repinned books/reviews on Pinterest, with Christmas Stitches leading the way at 202.
  • The sidebar link for Madi’s Musings’ facebook page is the most clicked-on link.
  • Made innumerable misspellings and minor errors which I will probably never catch and some of which are most definitely in this post.
  • Made 127 posts.
  • Altered the blog’s appearance four to six times.
  • Gained 88 followers. Thank you all so much! ❤

GOALS and PLANS:

Goals and plans for Madi’s Musings are to post more book reviews (five requested reviews are coming up), one or two updates, whatever blog tours or tags pop up, and to do better on updating my Word Count Update (I’m at 73,000 right now – aiming for 100,000 by the end of May). Basically, continue what I’m doing sans my inability to update word count.


Q&A

To you to all who asked questions for the Q&A! I wasn’t certain if anything would happen with it, but when I looked at the form, I was gobsmacked to see the number of questions asked. And what wonderful questions they are, too.

The first set is from my mom from A Day in the Life of a Wife, Mom, and Author (check out her books!).

When did you first decide you wanted to be a writer?

This answer is more complicated than it should be. I recently unearthed some old, old stories I wrote in my early school years. Apparently at some point in my first seven years of life I wanted to write. Then that dissolved and I hated creative writing until I was sixteen, I think.

I don’t remember what exactly pushed my muses to reappear. Either it was a writing assignment for Wordsmith: Craftsman, where I had to do a creative writing piece and all I could think about was this shell of a factory that had been abandoned due to an explosion that occurred while a rare metal was being processed. Or it was a trailer for something about Star Wars: Old Republic. I didn’t like that one of the characters died, and within half an hour, I had an idea percolating. I approached Mom, barraged her with questions, then sat down to type.

What made you decide to create a blog for book reviews?

You should know the answer, Mom, since you were the one who suggested I think about beginning a book review blog. ❤ I thought on your suggestion, and a few weeks later, you helped me set up this WordPress account. Thus was Madi’s Musings born.

Why on earth do you like fantasy and sci fi?!

Ah, another question you often ask, and with such incredulity, too. I don’t understand your draw to suspense, though I don’t mind some of it, and you’ll never understand the pull speculative fiction has on me. I think that’s why it works quite well for us to edit each other’s writing.

To answer, because I’m weird.

And a nerd.

And someone who delights researching herbs, plants, and poisons and weapons and then writing about their uses. And because it’s not the “real” world. In fantasy there are dragons and imaginary animals and lands and powers and oodles of opportunities to impart faith and life lessons without it being drenched in real life. Science Fiction is by far my least favorite of the two, but space ships, enhanced guns and weaponry, and the sheer potential of good versus evil intrigues me. You can blame Wayne Thomas Batson’s The Door Within Trilogy and C.S. Lewis for hooking me on fantasy.

You are a writer. The normal ship sailed without you long ago.
You are a writer. The ‘normal’ ship sailed without you long ago. – Terri Main

The next set is from Alexa at A Fangirl’s Hideaway. Your questions were quite fun and creative!

What’s your favorite color?

Sage green. Which makes me wonder how and why blue became Madi’s Musings’ theme color. I mean, blue is my second favorite color, but…

What’s your dream outfit?

Though it really does depend on what I’d be wearing it for, the outfit would need to be something practical. Probably a comfortable, sturdy pair of dark-wash jeans, a black t-shirt, tennis shoes or my hiking boots, my Sig Sauer hat, and my pocket knife. I also would not be against a Springfield XD as an accessory. I live in a rugged landscape which requires clothes you can move, work, and hike in (and run in, if bears, cougars, and moose are around).

If a genie gave you three wishes, what would you ask for?

Goodness. This made me think. Interesting question!

I’d have to say good health for my family, the endurance to fight for what’s right and true while standing firm in my faith, and to never waver in my determination to write for Christ.

What gives you inspiration?

Hoo boy. Several things. I’ve been clobbered with ideas while standing on the dock of a mountain lake, sitting in a restaurant, hiking, and even exercising. I get a lot of fairy tale ideas from Fairy Tale Central. Pinterest has provided much inspiration. Historical events and songs have given me tons of ideas as well. For a current character, the movie Fearless Faith and Switchfoot’s song “You Found Me” have really helped in forming his character and story. Inspiration can strike anywhere and anytime, and I have the ability to drive my family crazy with all the scraps of notes I take so I can remember the ideas. If you want to see a few things that provide inspiration for my current WIP, you can check out my Current WIP Playlist.

A writer is a world trapped in a person
A writer is a world trapped within a person. – Victor Hugo

Joy from Joy Caroline had some delightful questions that revealed my inability to select just one answer and keep that answer precise and concise. Sorry (not sorry?) in advance for the novel-length answers.

What’s your least favorite thing about your favorite book?

Ooohh. I’ve not seen this question before. I’ll have to tuck it away so I can ask others this.

A few of my favorite books have h-ll and one or two uses d–n in them. This really grates me, and if they weren’t my absolute favorites for other reasons, I don’t know if I would keep them. I know there’s an argument about “keeping it real” and including profanity, but this goes against Philippians 4:8 and Ephesians 4:29a.

These are the verses:

 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. – Philippians 4:8

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths. – Ephesians 4:29

Using this type of language goes against what the Bible says. It’s why I won’t include such in my own writing. It’s a sign of lack of creativity if a writer/author must resort to worldly language to get a character’s displeasure, pain, etc., across. There are multiple ways we can convey such emotions without including crass or anti-Biblical language. How can we be lights in darkness when our writing is no different from the darkness’? We say we are Christian writers. We need to write like it.

What type of poetry do you like? Any favorite poets? Favorite poems?

I am actually quite particular regarding poetry. Except the Psalms, I’ve never cared much for it. That being said, there are a few poets and poems I really enjoy: several by Robert Frost (Fire and Ice, A Soldier, and Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening to name a few) and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (that’s such a fun name to say), some by John Greenleaf Whittier, a few by Emily Dickinson, In Flanders Fields by John McCrae, and We Wear the Mask by Paul Laurence Dunbar. I’m sure I’ll remember more later, but these are what came to mind.

What is your top piece of advice for young writers?

Don’t fall into the comparison trap. It’s damaging and destructive. You may not be ready to publish yet, but you one day will be. Don’t compare your writing – your style, your story, your characters – to another writer’s/author’s. It will throw you off track and could severely slow your writing progress or even convince you to stop writing.

How do you make time to write with your college schedule?

I only did online college, so that freeed up a lot of time that would otherwise be used for driving, traversing the campus, waiting for lectures to begin, dealing with others, etc.. A lot of it is time management. A planner really helped and keeping detailed notes on when everything is due and when to complete it saved me a lot of time and worry and stress. I also never did college work in the evenings, which is when I write, unless I didn’t plan accordingly (it does happen, sometimes) and had to rush.

How many books have you completed (writing)?

Thus far I have four completed manuscripts. Hopefully I’ll have my fifth, a rewrite, finished by the end of May. And if I can get my act together (and that’s colossal if since my typing speed is akin to that of a slug stuck in frozen peanut butter) I’ll get a short story and fairy tale retelling completed by the end of 2020.

What is one cliché in Christian fiction that you believe to be harmful?

Is it okay if I answer with two cliches I really dislike and find harmful?

The first is the whole “Come to faith and everything is instantly made better”. This isn’t how life works, and, in fact, is unbiblical. Just look at Matthew 10:22, John 15:18, James 4:4, 1 Corinthians 1:18, and Matthew 5:10-12. We can also see from the lives of faithful martyrs and defenders of the faith that this just isn’t what happens. You may find life easier to endure, a difficult time easier to face because you have God’s promise of unending love and everlasting life, but nothing will instantly be made better.

The second one is “Forgive and forget”. Clearly whoever penned this phrase didn’t have much to forgive, let alone betrayal; backstabbing; familial rejection; or something else equally painful to “forget”. I’m not saying not to forget the squabbles and everyday minor grievances caused by those we love, because that would just turn into a grudge, which is sinful. We need to forgive, but forgetting can be harmful. If we “forget” a major occurrence (abuse, a so-called friend who gossips and backstabs you, or whatever the situation may be), we will keep returning to that person or situation and continue getting hurt. We’re called to forgive the toxic, but we also need to know when to rid our lives of the toxic.

Who is your favorite book character of all time? (It can be from any book, even from an unpublished book, or one of your own books!)

*cannot compute. Please try again.*

Joking. I am unable to narrow it down to one character. No surprise there. My favorite Biblical character is a toss-up between Jonathan and David. Favorite characters not of my own include Boromir, Eowyn, and Samwise from LOTR, Athden from E.J. Kitchen’s Wrought of Silver and Ravens, Marcus from Jaye L. Knight’s Ilyon Chronicles, and Selene from Morgan L. Busse’s The Ravenwood Saga.

Characters of my own…probably those who are the eldest siblings, which is what I am. So they’d be Therese, Beckett, Eason, Lisbeth, and Llyr. Honorable mentions of those who aren’t eldest siblings include Vlade, Rowan, Reven, Rogan, Merikh, Marcus, and Matthew. (I promise I don’t only have characters with r and m names.)

Who is your favorite TV character of all time?

I don’t watch TV, so one of my favorite move characters is William Reynolds, played by Andrew Cheney in Beyond the Mask. If you’re looking for a faith-filled action movie, check this one out. Even if you aren’t, check it out. It’s amazing.

I write because I can’t not write. – Jodi Picoult

I initially planned to present the questions in the alphabetical order of those who posed them, but Issabelle from Teen Writer’s Nook asked a marvellous question that I thought would make for a great last question. All your questions are wonderful and made me think, but that last one…that one’s really good.

What has been your greatest blogging achievement?

Honestly, getting a post written and posted is a great achievement. I would say, though, the most fulfilling is when someone learns about a book they’d not heard of before and lets me know or when the advice posts help a writer.

Do you have a favorite blog post?

I don’t know about favorite, but one that is dear to me is Seven Things to Know as You Begin Your Writing Journey. I wrote that on the tail end of another rejection and a severe writing drought, and I can look back at my advice to newbie writers and see how gracious God has been in giving me a new burst of inspiration.

How long does it take you to write a novel on average?

On average, three to five months, although it feels longer than that. I wrote an 85,000 word allegory in just over three months, which is my record. HOWEVER. Agonizing, fussing, and worrying about the novel (even aver it’s written)…I’d say a good year.

How many books have you written so far?

Four, almost five. Hopefully by the end of May it’ll be five. There are also multiple half-completed projects haunting me whenever I scroll through my documents list.

What’s your greatest dream for you writing?

For someone to be touched by one of my books (or all of them – I wouldn’t complain). And, of course, to write for the glory of God and be published.

Do you keep track of how many books you read a year? If so, which year did you read the most?

*squints into space as I try forcing my brain to remember and do math* I don’t keep track, but the number of book reviews I post on the blog is a decent indicator, although I don’t write reviews for every book I read. Glancing at the blog stats, I think 2020 was the most in a few years. I’m not wholly certain, though.

What traits does a book have to have for it to be a favorite?

Oooh. I hereby commandeer this question so I can ask others it.

I don’t think there’s a specific recipe, if you will, on what makes a book a favorite. Different authors equal different stories and different characters. In general, though, my favorites have a solid Biblical message, are fantasy, have an action-packed plot, and a character I relate to. They’re also usually in the NA or Adult categories, since I am quite picky and particular on YA. The exception to this is Heather L.L. FitzGerald’s The Tethered World Chronicles. I love sibling bonds and a heavy redemptive arc, so most of the ones on my favorites list include one of those two, if not both, as well. The writing style also has a lot to do with it.

In your opinion, which book has the best cover?

Dang. I don’t know.

Morgan L. Busse’s Mark of the Raven has an excellent cover, as does C.M. Banschbach’s Oath of the Outcast , E.J. Kitchen’s Wrought of Silver and Ravens, and Patrick W. Carr’s The Shock of Night.

Do you realize that I’m now running out of questions to ask?

Hey! All I can say is thank you for asking questions! It’d have been terribly awkward if no one asked any after I rambled on and on about it.

What is something God taught you in 2020?

This is why I placed your set of questions last. This is the perfect question to end with.

One thing God taught me – reminded, really – was that He is always there, He’s always present and able to be relied on, counted on, leaned on. There were some health scares among my immediate family members, and while they’re fine now, those times – which occurred within days of each other – were difficult. Sitting in the ER and waiting for updates on my little sister, I was given plenty of time to pray and reflect. As news filtered in that she’d be okay, I was reminded that no matter what happens, He is always on the throne and in control and is always faithful.

The desire to write was planted within you for a reason. – Unknown

How would you answer the questions asked? Anything to add? Any other questions? Thanks for participating in Madi’s Musings’ Sixth Blogiversary! How’s life going? What are you reading and/or writing? Let me know!

May your second breakfasts be plentiful and may you have the heart of hobbits, the courage of men, and the wisdom of Gandalf. Remember to never laugh at a live dragon – they are quite conceited and do not take well to being the object of mirth, and face the days ahead with the knowledge that God is on the throne and in control no matter how chaotic and messy life gets.

There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story. You never know where they’ll take you. – Beatrix Potter

Curse of the Midnight King Cover Reveal

Today is the cover reveal for Curse of the Midnight King by Yakira Goldsberry. Isn’t it pretty and mysterious?


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Yakira Goldsberry started writing at the age of eight, when she first discovered the power of words. She has since then buried herself in the magical worlds of fiction–and has yet to return. Working as a book reviewer by day and an author by night, Goldsberry lives with her family on the East Coast. Her one mission in life–set the world afire with truth.


ABOUT THE BOOK:

Releases: November 9th, 2021

Can she break the curse in time to save her sisters? She may conquer more than the Midnight King; she may learn to conquer herself.

Three years ago, Faye and her sisters were cursed by the Midnight King. Now, separated and alone, Faye only sees her sisters when she is dragged into the Underworld every full moon at midnight, and forced to dance with Pathos, the Midnight King himself. And Faye knows that their curse is her fault.

When the king of Eura announces a series of balls being held in the honor of his son, Prince Leo, Faye realizes she may now have a chance to help her and her sisters escape the curse. But things aren’t easy. For Pathos is determined to keep Faye in the Underworld with him.

In this retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses and Cinderella, Faye must sacrifice herself to save her sisters, or risk them being trapped in the Underworld forever, suffering from the curse she helped create.


PREORDER

Preorder links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Midnight-Retelling-Dancing-Princess-Cinderella/dp/1645263304/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Curse+of+the+Midnight+King&qid=1620577544&sr=8-1

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/curse-of-the-midnight-king-yakira-goldsberry/1139333029?ean=9781645263302

Christianbook Distributors: https://www.christianbook.com/curse-of-the-midnight-king/yakira-goldsberry/9781645263302/pd/263305?event=ESRCN

Preorder Campaign:

The first fifty people who preorder the paperback and send in their receipts will receive a handful of goodies from the author. These include—art of the main characters Faye and Leo, and of the villain, Pathos; three quote stickers; a bookmark; and a letter from the author.

The first fifty people who preorder the ebook, once available, and send in their receipts will receive—three quote stickers, a bookmark, and a letter from the author.

All proofs of purchase can be sent in via private message on Instagram or Facebook Messenger, or through email at yakiragoldsberryauthor@gmail.com.

Trial and Error

A small-town lawyer has been searching for his daughter for eighteen years. Now another young woman is missing, and he’s determined to find them both—no matter the cost.


Author: Robert Whitlow

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Length: 415 pages

Genre: Suspense


About:

A small-town lawyer has been searching for his daughter for eighteen years. Now another young woman is missing, and he’s determined to find them both—no matter the cost.

Buddy Smith built his law practice around tracking down missing children. After all, he knows the agony of being separated from a child. Not long after his daughter’s birth, her mother ran away and Buddy never saw either one again.

Gracie Blaylock has known Buddy her entire life, and now that she is clerk of court for the county, their paths cross frequently. When Gracie hears that a teenager in town has gone missing, she knows Buddy is the one for the case.

The girl’s parents are desperate for answers. Together with Gracie and Mayleah—the new detective in town—Buddy chases all leads, hoping to reach the missing teen before it’s too late. And as he pursues one girl, he uncovers clues that could bring him closer to the girl he thought he lost forever: his own daughter.


Positive Elements:

Characters learn the importance of faith and trusting in God; characters are determined to obtain justice.


Negative Elements:

None.


Religion/Spiritual/Faith Elements:

Characters pray; a character has a prayer list; faith is discussed; a prayer chain and church are mentioned; there is a strong salvation message.


Violence:

A child is kidnapped; a police car is sideswiped; a car flips; the Trail of Tears is mentioned; is is mentioned characters are forced to become prostitutes; girls are trafficked; characters are threatened and drugged.


Other:

It is indicated a child was born out of wedlock; a miscarriage is mentioned; it is implied that a character deals drugs.


Rating:

4 Stars.


Conclusion:

Sex trafficking is very real and ongoing in our world – more than most of us know and realize. Trial and Error tackles this tough subject in a chilling, realistic, and tasteful way. Set in a southern town where people love food and softball, a myriad of different characters are drawn into the search for a girl who disappeared without warning. The author weaves the setting in such a way that you feel like you’re there – I’ve been to the South all of once, but I could well imagine what the town looked like. The characters, too, are diverse in personality and faith; the faith element I really appreciated. It was well done and not stilted. My one complaint is that the POVs are not always firm; at certain points in the books, you can’t tell whose POV you’re reading.

News, Upcoming Posts, and Miscellaneous Ramblings

Hello, dear readers.

As I am certain you ascertained from this post’s title, this will be a unique post. For one, I usually only post things blog, tag, or writing advice related. I don’t think I’ve ever posted anything personal as far as writing updates, life in general, or anything like that.

I know I have an “Upcoming Posts” section on my sidebar, but I really am quite terrible at updating it and I’m too lazy to wait for the sidebar to load. Upcoming posts will include, of course, book reviews (no surprise there). Genres are science fiction, fantasy, historical romance, and suspense. I’ll also have a few author interviews, specifically from E.J. Kitchens and Penny Zeller. Now, I do not know the precise dates for these posts, save that the suspense will be in the next few weeks. But I can guarantee they’ll happen in the upcoming months, so stay tuned!

Regarding the “news” aspect…May 13th is Madi’s Musings’ sixth blogiversary. Exciting. I’ll touch on the blog’s history, inspiration, and more on May 13th. I also thought it’d be fun to do a Q&A. I’ve seen other bloggers do that, and it was a great way to connect with some people I quite admire. Here is the form. I figured that’d be easier than asking for comments to be posted. WordPress doesn’t always alert me to new comments; this way I will for certain see the questions. Please feel free to ask whatever – anything about writing, books, music, books, why I’d make a good dragon, books, etc.. Also, please feel free to ask as many questions as you’d like. The more the better!

Now we are entering the miscellaneous ramblings section.

I’ve never really done a writing update before, so here goes. I’m at 58,000 right now on the rewrite. My end goal is 100,000, give or take a few. The characters are not cooperating well, I’m a slow typer, and I’m trying to low-key develop some romance between two of the characters, but they insist on thinking each other bothersome to the extreme. *sigh* The life of a writer.

This is the last week of college. Thank goodness. Yeah…that’s all I really have to say about that. It wasn’t the worst semester, since there was no math and Spanish involved, and most of my fellow college-mates were decent enough, but I’ll be happy to move on.

So, that’s that, I believe. I’m not good at rambling, I suppose, but this wasn’t a bad first attempt. Let me know how you’re doing! How’s the writing? Or if you don’t write, what are you reading? How is life going?

May your second breakfasts be plentiful and may you have the heart of hobbits, the courage of men, and the wisdom of Gandalf, and remember to never laugh at a live dragon – they are quite conceited and do not take well to being the object of mirth (does anyone get my The Hobbit reference? Anyone?).

Love and Memory Blog Tour – Book Review

Today is the last day of the Love and Memory Blog Tour. Love and Memory released April 22.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kendra E. Ardnek is the self-proclaimed Arista of Fairy Tales. She lives in the Piney Woods of East Texas with her dragon babies and massive herd of mini-giraffes, and she is still waiting for one of her fifty nutcrackers to come to life and marry her. When not writing, you can usually find her sitting in a random box, and she’s frequently known to act before she thinks.

Find her online at: Website || Blog || Goodreads || Facebook|| Twitter || YouTube || Newsletter ||  Instagram || TikTok || Amazon


BOOK REVIEW

The Rizkaland Legends #3

When a Queen forgets,

Her enemies rejoice in her weakness.

But when the Queen remembers,

They tremble in fear.

When a King loves,

His country rejoices with him.

But when that love is broken.

The land is broken, too.

Can Water and Fire join again?

Can Love and Memory be restored?

They spent years in Rizkaland. They ruled the land, forged friendships, built families, and made it their home. But then it was time to return to Earth, and their former lives just don’t fit anymore. Clara and Andrew struggle to reevaluate their priorities when hundreds of miles separate them. Reuben and Petra are lost as they seek a balance between their old friendship and their Rizkan marriage. And Ashna and Noraeto never planned to return, so what life is there for them on Earth?

When the unthinkable happens and a new enemy arises, they’re all thrown back into Rizkaland, into a young prince’s rise to power and struggle to build alliances for his kingdom. But they no longer belong in their other world, either.

Are good memories too much to bear?


Positive Elements:

The importance of staying true to your spouse and relying on others is often illustrated.


Negative Elements:

None.


Religion/Spiritual/Faith Elements:

Alphego is discussed; worship is mentioned; it is mentioned false gods are sacrificed to; the Bible is discussed; a people group worship a variety of goddesses; there is a strong salvation theme; characters see Alphego.


Violence:

A character’s past is mentioned and reflected on; minor characters are injured and killed in attacks; characters recall being tortured; characters are kidnapped; characters are murdered and injured; a character’s mind is shattered.


Other:

Characters kiss; miscarriages are mentioned.


Rating:

5 Stars


Conclusion:

I love thick books. The thicker the book the more issues the characters must face, the more unexpected plot twists occur, and more problems that must be conquered. And at 650+ pages, Love and Memory is a doozy.

Love and Memory is full of humor, action, faith, sweet relationships, and danger. With twelve POVs and so many things happening, things can be confusing if you aren’t a slow reader. I love the struggles the characters face, and so many character arcs seem to come to near completion. The familial love and protection the sets of siblings exhibit is heartwarming and, at time, humorous. Everyone knows those Eaglechasers are unique individuals, and watching shattered and unsteady relationships strengthen and grow was satisfying.

As aforementioned, there are twelve POVs in this book. A difficult undertaking for most authors, but not Kendra. She does quite well keeping ever personality unique. I quite enjoyed the two new additions, and they added so much to the story. Perhaps the best thing about Love and Memory (and there are many delightful elements) is the salvation theme. Not only do characters put their trust in Alphego, but those who were already believers grew in faith.

As with the other two books in the series, it was bittersweet when the book came to an end. You have no hope of escaping the hold of these characters, and it is impossible to escape the draw their stories contain. That bittersweet feeling was assuaged a tad at the promise of a fourth book, but still, it was difficult leaving characters I’d grown quite of fond of behind. I guess that’s the lovely thing about books, though. You can always return.

Love and Memory is an enjoyable read that will sweep you into a world of faith, danger, romance, and adventure. Be sure to add it to your TBR list.

*I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.


BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE

April 19th – Monday 
Knitted By God’s Plan: A Post of Tantalizing Snippets 
Fantastical Notions: Interview – Kendra 
Resting Life: Review 

April 20th – Tuesday 
Knitted By God’s Plan: 12 POV’s and How I Managed 
Madi’s Musings: Interview – Petra 
Katherine A. Massengill: Review 
 

April 21stWednesday 
Knitted By God’s Plan: Every Reason You Need to Read LaM 
Madi’s Musings: Interview – Kendra 
Live. Love. Read: Review 
Safe Return Doubtful: Portal Fantasy and the Doorkeeper 

April 22nd – Thursday *Release Date* 
Knitted By God’s Plan: IT’S HERE, GUYS! 
Lands Uncharted: Interview – Kendra 
Fantastical Notions: Review 
Rachel Rossano’s Words: Motherhood in Fiction 

April 23rd – Friday  
Knitted By God’s Plan: Book 4 Title Announcement 
Dreams & Dragons: Interview – Kendra 
A. R. Silverberry: Interview – Andrew 
Light & Shadows: Review 

April 24th– Saturday 
Knitted By God’s Plan: Next on the Horizon 
Dreams & Dragons: Interview – Sorei 
Katherine A. Massengill: Interview – Kendra 
Madi’s Musings: Review