The World in 2212

Found on Pinterest
A number of the futuristic books I’ve read or seen, with tyrannical governments that are overthrown, happen in a world where just the nation involved is left…the rest of the world has been destroyed in countless wars. Now while this is very convenient, from a writer’s point of view, the rest of the world is very much alive in my Scarlet Rose Trilogy.
But since they were around, I had to figure out what do do with them. The Scarlet Rose Trilogy takes place in the United States and other nations do not play a big part in the story. But to make it realistic, I knew I needed to mention other countries at some point or another. What is the rest of the world doing while civil war rages in the US? I had no clue. But, after drawing on history (what the major nations did during the Civil War in the 1860s) and finally focusing on my problem, I partitioned the nations of the world into distinct groups. 
England and the European Federation (something I made up) will accept representatives of the rebels fairly quickly and, as the rebellion turns into full scale civil war, they will support the freedom fighters. They’ll offer aid to refugees and perhaps some help in weapons, but won’t commit their own troops.
This lack of ground support is mainly due to the strength of the Russia/China alliance who support the Reasoners. It’s an unspoken agreement of sorts…neither side will send ground troops to the civil war though they will supply their favored side with weapons and aid. 
Australia has no such compunctions and gives aid in both weapons and (probably) some soldiers. Whether these soldiers will be in the books or will just be mentioned is another matter. 
The African and South American nations are neutral. Most take representatives from both sides of the conflict, though some are partial one way or another. Most nations are too war-torn to care very much about the civil war, though scattered aid groups based in different countries do send some help.
Canada is kind of like Switzerland during WWII. They remain neutral but (in spirit) support the rebels. Fugitives occasionally take refuge there and the Reasoners dare not attack for fear of drawing Canada into the war on the side of the rebels.
Mexico is also neutral though it (in spirit) sides with the Reasoners. Bands of robbers sometimes raid across the border and it is suspected that they do so with government permission…though the government actively denies such claims. These roving bands must be dealt with, though I don’t know how much this will come into the story either.
Disclaimer: This is merely my division of the world for the sake of my book. If you live outside the USA, please don’t take offense at how I’ve portrayed your country. I will admit that I may have some slight prejudice for or against some nations (though not the people of those nations) due to world history I’ve read…but don’t take it personally if your nation is viewed in a more unfavorable light than others. I had to balance the ‘good’ nations against the ‘bad’ simply for the sake of the story. 

Fantasy Stones

The first stone I chose. The color reminds me of
captured moonlight.
Mom and I discovered a cool shop in town last week. It’s one of those small, cluttered (in the best kind of way) little places with beads, buttons, stones, pendants, necklaces, bright clothes, and jewelry of all kinds stashed in every corner and covering every open space. And it’s the perfect place to find fantasy jewelry.
I found some beautiful stones the first time I was there, but there was no way to fasten them onto a chain like a necklace pendant. That’s when the store owner showed me stones wrapped in wire with loops for a chain to pass through. 
This is the first pendant I wired
She herself taught wire wrapping and she offered to teach me. The cost of the class would also cover the stone and chain. I accepted eagerly, both because I wanted to make the stone I’d picked into a pendant and also because…well, one never knows when a miscellaneous skill like wire wrapping could come in handy in some book or another. 
When I came to the store on the set day for the class, the lady told me to pick a larger stone than the tear-drop one I’d chosen the last time. She said she’d give the original one to me along with the class but, to learn, it would be easier to start with a larger stone. So I chose a blue and gold flecked oval stone, which looked like it would contain power of some kind in a fantasy world. Though tricky, the wire wrapping wasn’t too hard and I was pleased with the result. I bought wire for my second stone and yesterday I wrapped that one too.  

What If…

I found this picture on Pinterest. I’ve had an idea for a long time about writing a book about writing a book…where characters are real and there is tension between them and the author. I really don’t know what would happen or what it would be about or if I’ll ever go anywhere with it. But this prompt could be part of that idea if I write it someday.

Beta Readers

I’ve been working on The Shield and Spear with the help of the Emotion Thesaurus I mentioned last week. Its aid has proven invaluable. 

Anyway, I’m opening part 1 and 2 of The Shield and Spear (12 chapters) for beta reading. If anyone would like to read through the beginning of my book and critique it, please go to my contact page and give me your name and e-mail (and a note saying that you want to be a beta reader). I was hoping to have a form for you to fill out right here in the post, but I’m having technical difficulties. Sorry for any inconvenience. 

I’ll be sending out these first two parts this coming Saturday and would be grateful if you could critique the chapters by June 30th. 

After that, if you are still interested, there are three more larger portions of the book that will need to be corrected as well. Actually, if you contact me anytime this summer, I’ll probably still send the first parts of the book to you. 🙂 As a point of reference, my current goal is to submit this book to a publishing house sometime in October. 

Busy Days

This week was our final week of school for the school year! Everyone, teachers and students alike, are thrilled at the prospect of three months without lessons. For me, the extra hours in the morning will be put to use with more writing and some Bible study I’m hoping do over the summer. And, of course, knife throwing and rollerblading. 
Though we haven’t owned rollerblades in years, when I found some at a thrift store last week I was very excited. Joy, Josiah and I ended up being able to get a pair and we’ve had a great time skating up and down our road. 
Then, earlier this afternoon, Mom and I went shopping and picked up some tomato and pepper plants along with a bunch of seeds. It’s late for planting, I know. but that is what seems to happen to us every year. But we set to work and got everything planted before supper.
And so now we head into summer in earnest, with school finished, the garden growing, and (soon) our first batch of chickens ready to butcher.  

By Blade and Mettle

Swords and sword fights appear in many books and movies. It is also a subject that many writers work with, especially if you write lots of fantasy. Now, if you are anything like me, you may have seen sword fights in movies like Prince Caspian or The Princess Bride and base your own fights off common and seemingly ‘standard’ warrior moves and tactics.
But as I read more about swords, I realized a fact I already knew but didn’t think too much about. The swordmanship in most movies and books is for show only. Real sword fights were much different.
Miraz and Peter’s duel in Prince Caspian
First there are a number of misconceptions about swords, some of which I was surprised to learn myself.
For starters, swords do not weigh 10 to 12 pounds. They were really not very heavy, averaging around 2.5 pounds apiece. Even the large, two-handed blades weren’t normally heavier than 4 pounds. (Now of course in a fantasy world your swords might be heavy. The swords I’ll be talking about in this article are Medieval type swords.)
Found on Pinterest
Also, swords didn’t have blunt edges. Well, actually this depends on what the sword is meant for. If is is a thrusting weapon, then it might just have a well defined tip. But otherwise the swords edges could be sharp and many Medieval swords have been found with edges still sharp. One note…however sharp they were, swords were not meant to cut through armor. That was the whole point of armor, to protect the wearer from the sword. Even thrusting swords were designed to stab through the joints of the armor, not through the armor itself. (Now of course, you might have a super-strong warrior or an armor-cutting sword or something like that, but as a general rule…)
Found on Pinterest
Now about the fights themselves. In most sword fights you see and read about, the blades constantly clash against each other, normally edge against edge. A more realistic scenario is one fighter parring the blade of another with the flat of his sword to avoid damaging to the edge of the blade. But there are other moves to a fight than just metal-bashing, including (at times) simply moving the sword aside so the opponents sword cuts nothing but empty air. Real sword-fighters were less animated and more cautious than many actors performing their choreographed moves. And sword fights general did not take long.
Now let me say right here that the information for this latter part of the article comes from a book I bought and read awhile back. It’s the best resource I’ve found for learning about realistic sword fighting enough to write about it (without learning how to sword fight myself. It’s called Medieval Swordsmanship by John Clements.)
Found on Pinterest
Anyway, the credits for the list of things not to do in a sword fight (below) comes from the book I just mentioned, though I have reworded it a bit. These are notorious and common cliches of choreographed fighting which would (probably) never happen on a battlefield. 
  • Long, dramatic pauses as two foes lock swords and deliver terse short (and, admittedly at times, cool) lines. Swords, when they lock, only pause the fight for the fraction of a second. And, when a person is fighting for their life, they don’t stop to for cute insults and comebacks.
  • Punching and kicking when there’s an opening instead of just cutting or stabbing.
  • Closing in to hit the enemy with the hilt or pommel of the sword instead of the blade (there might be a time when a soldier does use his hilt, but if the fighter can use his sword, then he’ll use his sword).
  • Finishing off the enemy with a simple stab after minutes of nothing but trying to hack at him throughout the fight.
  • Spinning and twirling the sword in one hand during the middle of a battle (or the warrior spinning himself) might look cool but will probably be the last dramatic act the spinner will ever make.
  • Swinging at a disarmed opponent yet still missing him over and over. I mean, the person might be quick, but in a logical situation, he’ll probably be hurt or killed pretty quickly.
  • Missing a strike so that the inertia of the blow spins the attacker around.
  • Having the hero lose his sword and recover it. Sure, it could happen…maybe. It’s cool in books and movies. But for real life, if a soldier loses his sword he’ll probably be killed before he recovers it.
Edmund in Prince Caspian
And really…how come the hero can spend ten minutes in a duel with the villain just before or after cutting down ten of minions in one minute? It’s just what happens in a book or movie, but that doesn’t make it realistic. (Not to say I am innocent of this myself, but it is something to keep in mind.)
Anyway, those are a few myths corrected and a few tips on what is not a realistic way to fight. For more information on how a sword fight should progress, I highly recommend the book I linked above.
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The Avengers: Age of Ultron

Mom and we girls went to visit our grandparents for the weekend and our grandpa took Mom, Joy and I to see Age of Ultron. Though it wasn’t perfect, we all really liked it. So here are some of my thoughts on the movie. Warning. There may be spoilers below. 
Whenever there was inappropriate humor, which happened two or three times, it was thanks to Tony Stark/Iron Man. He was the source of most of there swear words too…though there really wasn’t much swearing in this movie (at least not that I remember). Iron Man also has quite a few funny lines.
Ultron was quite funny too. He was a surprisingly fresh and original bad guy as opposed to the normal, melodramatic, ‘let me tell you me evil plan’ bad guy. There were actually quite a few humorous one-liners in this movie…most of which I can’t remember anymore but which I remember were funny.
Then there was the Vision.
He was great and I really liked him. One of the best scenes with with him is when he is first ‘born’ and has to convince the other Avengers to trust him. But I’ll say no more about that because knowing what will happen would ruin the drama of the moment. 
My favorite new characters in this second Avenger movie were the twins, Wanda and Pietro Maximoff, also known as the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver. 
These two were great together. I love the brother/sister relationship, the way Pietro cares for his sister, and their characters. Though they start out with the bad guys, they do go over and help the Avengers by the end. They didn’t get enough screen time, in my opinion. 
And so, to finish up, though there were a few objectionable things, I did enjoy this movie. I loved the new characters and am looking forward to the continuing of the story…though that won’t be until the final Captain America which comes out next year. 

Brother and Sister

The cast for my trilogy is much larger than any of the other books I’ve written so far, and sometimes it is a lot to try to remember. There are about two dozen characters right now, though they don’t all enter in the first book and some of them are minor characters without a large part. But even the smallest characters must have names. 
And so, this weekend, I sat down and found names for the sixteen characters which were still without an identity. Some of the names I am quite pleased with, like Sophia Joy Hawthorne, Kyle Carter, and Levi Honor Radcliff. Then I went through my character pictures on Pinterest and found pictures for each of my characters. In future posts, I’ll probably introduce you to some of them but for now here are two quotes which show Anna and Titus West’s characters in Scarlet Rose.
Anna West
Titus West (about Anna)