Month: June 2013

The Beloved Daughter – An Interview with Alana Terry

Alana Terry
Alana Terry

Kia Ora! That’s a huge kiwi welcome to Alana Terry, author of The Beloved Daughter. I first met Alana, who hails from Alaska, through ReGi McClain’s blog, where I discovered that she is not only a hugely talented writer but a super-homeschooling-Mom with an incredible sense of humour. She runs her own business and has already written a memoir about her son Silas (a miracle child indeed) and a children’s book entitled What, No Sushi.

The Beloved Daughter is her latest release, and is a christian inspirational novel set in North Korea, which placed second in the Women of Faith writing competition and has been nominated for book of the month at The Book Club Network website (you’ve still got a few days to vote for her). However if you ask her about herself, she’s much more modest – check out her bio:

When I’m not blogging and writing, it’s likely that I’m on the floor wrestling with my kids. Or playing outside with my kids. Or chauffeuring my kids. Or leading clubs and day camps for homeschoolers (including my kids). Otherwise I’m probably hanging out at church with a whole bunch of teenagers and my youth-pastor husband.

(But I’m probably not cooking or cleaning.)

(That’s my kind of person)!

Alana is also one of the WIPpeteers – regular contributors to the WIPpet Wednesday blog-hop run by K.L. Schwengel. So for sneak previews into her new projects check out her blog Lightly Salted.

Although this blog initially had an epic-fantasy focus, I’ve decided to broaden the scope. Like Kate Frost (in her guest-post earlier this week) I also read across the genres, and Alana’s book is one of those special books that I had to share with you all.

The Beloved Daughter is the story of Chung-Cha, a young girl who is sent to a North Korean prison camp for her family’s faith. It’s a heart-wrenching subject which really opened my eyes to the harsh realities faced by people all over the world.

Writing with great sensitivity and restraint, Alana weaves a beautiful tale about the grace and mercy of God, even in the most horrific trials. Although Chung-Cha’s faith is shaken, and she is mistreated awfully, this is truly a story about hope and finding a purpose in brokeness. I have to admit there was one part of the book that literally had me in tears, I was so moved. So I’m absolutely thrilled to have an opportunity to ask Alana some questions about The Beloved Daughter.

What inspired you to write The Beloved Daughter?

I’ve always been passionate about religious freedom and human rights. Since North Korea is such an offender in both fronts, I guess it just always stood out to me.

Your main character, Chung-Cha faces many terrible trials through out the story, that you portray with great sensitivity. What was the hardest part about writing Chung Cha’s story? What was the most rewarding?

The hardest part was definitely the research. I based a lot of the characters and the trials that they went through on real stories gleaned from real defectors. There were so many points during the research process that I just wanted to bury my head and shut my ears. The most rewarding was seeing the story finally come together at the end, to wrap up Chung-Cha’s story and have a final product I hoped would encourage and inspire others.

I for one, was certainly encouraged and inspired by Chung-Cha’s story – but I must admit I wasn’t really aware of the types of persecution christian believers faced in North Korea. Did you know much about it before you began your research? What was the most surprising detail you uncovered during your research?

I’ve paid close attention to stories of Christian persecution since I was teenager and read the book Jesus Freaks which highlights the stories of contemporary and historical martyrs. I was definitely disgusted by some of the things I learned, but not surprised. One story really jumped out at me though. It was the story of a woman who was forced to stand on tiptoe on a gallows for several days. The idea was that eventually she would get too tired and hang herself. Right before her strength gave way on the second or third night, lightning struck the rope and she was saved. I ended up working this story into The Beloved Daughter.

It’s probably the most “bizarre” event that happens in my novel, but it’s actually based on a true story!

I was really touched by that part of the story (that character was hugely inspirational too) – even more so now I know it’s based on true story.

As a busy Mum who homeschools and runs your own business, can you share your tips on how you balance a busy life and still find the time to write?

I definitely have to set aside time when I know I’m not going to write, or else nothing else gets accomplished! Ideally, I write during nap time and in the evenings once the kids are in bed. I often fudge, but that gives me time in the morning with my kids and time in the afternoons for our homeschool clubs. I don’t really hold myself to this schedule strictly, but it’s kind of my guideline.

Flexibility is a must when you’re a writing Mama. Honestly you are a huge inspiration!

You’ve already written a non-fiction and children’s stories, were there any notable differences writing in another genre?

Obviously, I can’t go into the heavy kinds of things I write about in The Beloved Daughter in a kids book, but even my kids historical fiction series touches on oppression (like the Japanese-American internment camps during World War Two). I like how in a kids book I can just wrap it all up with a nice bow and give everyone a happy ending. That doesn’t happen necessarily all the time in the books I write for adults. I think my kids series gives me a nice break from the heavy things I write about in books like The Beloved Daughter and its followup, which I’m working on now.

Thanks so much Alana for sharing! I would highly recommend The Beloved Daughter, and suggest you pick up a copy from Amazon or from Alana’s blog.

The Beloved Daughter
The Beloved Daughter

The Moon is Made of Glass

I walk most mornings in the wee small hours before my husband leaves for work, and during the winter months that means rugging up against the cold and navigating the path in the dark (or by streetlight). However the past few days, in wake of the storm, we’ve had beautiful clear skies and one of the brightest full moons I’ve seen for a long time. I’ve always felt there is something special about walking in the reflected glow of moonlight. The world seems softer, newer and more magical – especially when the heavy frosts sparkle, untouched by man and beast. So I guess it’s not surprising this fascination would work its way into a story somewhere along the way!

So in honour of the full moon, and the 26th of June here are 11 paragraphs (1+1=2 and because June is the 6th month – only WIPpet maths could equate that to the 26th) of my newest story, The Moon is Made of Glass, which has the potential to turn into a rather magical sort of WIPpet.

Carys peered into the moonlit pool, clapping her hands and laughing with delight as the gentle ripples pulled at her reflection; softening the edges and changing the shape of her face.

Sit still child.”

The old woman’s fingers, as sharp as her words, dug into the soft underside of Carys’s arm. Not taking her eyes off the water, she took a deep breath and tried to hold still. She had never been down to the lake at night, and she didn’t trust the old woman to break the spell and haul her back to bed.

There was magic in the moonlight. Carys could feel it. It felt warm against her skin like sunlight on a warm spring afternoon, soaking into her bones and making her feel like she was caught in the place between a dream and waking up. She held her breath and pulled her excitement in. If she could hide it from the old woman maybe she wouldn’t have to wake up from this dream.

“Still.”

It was barely a whisper, but Carys heard the threat.  She yearned to reach out and stroke the silken surface of the water, to fall into the moon’s perfect reflection – but she pulled the excitement closer and the grip on her arm relaxed.

She didn’t know how long she sat, holding her breath – eyes fixed on the silver disc in the water, but after a while she realised the only sound she could hear was the gentle huff of her breath. The nocturnal chorus of frog-calls and insect-song had disappeared, and even the lapping of the water grew still.

They’re holding their breath, she thought. Just like me.

“What do you see?”

There was a greedy edge to the old woman’s voice, as she strained forward to look over Carys’s shoulder. She shrunk away – suppressing a shudder, as the old woman’s breath blew hot against her ear. She was stealing the magic, sucking it out of the air as surely as the moon…

“What do you see?” The fingers dug in again and Carys jumped.

“It’s… it’s getting bigger.” (Postscript: Story continued here)

Well there you go. I hope you liked it!

While we’re talking about all things WIPpet related, I’m having a bit of a WIPpeteer fest this week on the blog. Yesterday our very talented Kate Frost was my very first guest-blogger, with a very thought-provoking post about self-publishing allowing greater freedom to write in different genres. If you haven’t already, you can check it out here.

And you should also buy The Butterfly Storm too (available from Amazon) – because it’s awesome. I’m going to do a review of The Butterfly Storm and ask Kate all sorts of probing WIPpeteer type questions (like what would your ideal WIPpeteer outfit be?… Just kidding… No, actually now I’m curious – you’ll have to tune in to find out…) in the very near future – so watch this blog!

And because A is for Awesome and Alana, (and And and Also) I’m also interviewing the lovely Alana Terry on Friday about The Beloved Daughter aka The Book that made me cry… for lots of reasons, not least because it was also so beautifully written. (Alana is it too late to have your take on the WIPpeeter outfit???). So make sure you come back for that too! (And buy The Beloved Daughter because it too is a story you need to read).

Many thanks to the lovely K.L. Schwengel for keeping the WIPpeteers in line hosting WIPpet Wednesday. If you want to join us, or check out some other very tantalising WIPpets head on over to this linky.

Have a great week!

The Freedom of Self-publishing: Guest Post by Kate Frost

Today I am super-excited to welcome my very first guest-blogger, the very talented Kate Frost! Kate has recently self-published her debut novel, The Butterfly Storm; a beautifully written story about love and family set in Greece and the UK. I read it in one very happy sitting this weekend – it’s the kind of book that’s easy to lose yourself in, and very hard to put down!

I’m interviewing Kate about it soon on the blog, so until then she’s here to share one of the advantages of self-publishing. I know you’ll enjoy!

The Freedom of Self-publishing

I love reading all sorts of books, both different genres and styles of writing, so doesn’t it make sense that I enjoy writing in not just one style or genre too? On my bookshelf there is literary fiction, historical novels and contemporary women’s fiction, plus a smattering of sci-fi, fantasy, thrillers, crime fiction, YA and even a handful of children’s novels. I’m as happy reading Geraldine Brooks as I am thumbing through a Stephen King novel. The books on my Kindle are even more diverse simply because I’m willing to take a chance on a novel I might not have read if it wasn’t for the affordability of eBooks. I like zombie movies but I hadn’t actually read a zombie book before getting Dead Things by Matt Darst and World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks on my Kindle.

I’ve just published The Butterfly Storm, a contemporary women’s fiction novel. I loved writing it and I’ve just started a follow-up novel with the working title of The House of Stone so if readers enjoyed The Butterfly Storm then there will be another novel in the same genre that they will hopefully want to read too. That makes business sense and is what traditional publishers do. If your first book is a success then they want another one and then another in the same genre to feed the appetite of the readers who devoured the first one. Although I’m enjoying writing women’s fiction it’s not what I solely want to concentrate on. The book I wrote after finishing The Butterfly Storm was a time travel adventure/fantasy for children called Time Shifters, which I’m currently editing. The two books couldn’t be more different and yet I’m proud of both of them. After finishing The Butterfly Storm I didn’t specifically set out to write a children’s novel rather than another one for adults, it just so happened to be the next idea I had and the book I wanted to write at the time.

I’m very jealous of Raewyn writing epic fantasy. I would love to write fantasy the same way as I’ve loved writing Time Shifters and I would love to have a proper go at writing a sci-fi novel. What self-publishing gives authors is the freedom to switch between genres if they choose to. Obviously this can be tricky and you have to bear in mind that if you build up a readership for your women’s fiction those readers might not stick with you once you’ve written that gruesome crime drama or a fantasy featuring dragons. But with self-publishing you don’t have the demands of a publisher or an agent, if you want to take a risk and write something new then who’s to stop you?

So, my first published novel is contemporary women’s fiction; the next book I’m hoping to publish is a novel aimed at 8-12 year-olds; my current work in progress is also aimed at women; and as for what comes after that? Well there’s the remaining two books in the Time Shifters trilogy, a sci-fi idea that’s been knocking about my head for years, an interest in writing historical fiction set in Roman or Restoration times, and you never know I might one day have the time to write epic fantasy. In the meantime I’ll leave that up to Raewyn to write and enjoy reading it once she publishes it.

The Butterfly Storm Cover Small

Anyone who buys The Butterfly Storm between now and Friday 28th June and emails the amazon receipt to kactus@kate-frost.co.uk will be put into a prize draw to win one of two £5/$5 amazon vouchers.
Thanks Kate! I highly recommend The Butterfly Storm, so head on over to Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk to check it out. Click here to visit Kate’s blog, and follow her on twitter @Kactus77.

A New Leaf

thurschilbadgejpg

A weekly blog hop
where writers get together
to discuss what inspires them.

I might have well and truly missed Thursday this week, but hey – if we’re sticking with the rhyme I quite like the sound of Friday’s child too!

P1040971
A carpet of gold…

Inspiration, at least has been all around me. The big flowering cherry at the front of our garden held onto its leaves well into winter this year, and finally dropped them with a flourish; turning our front lawn into a shimmering golden carpet. I wish I could have captured the way the light changed on those leaves all day, and how for a short time early in the morning and as the last fingers of sunlight played across them, they would light up and glow with an unearthly fire.

On a still day I could hear the leaves fall steadily, with a gentle shush like the brush of angelic wings. I was captivated.

I found myself constantly looking out the front window in awe and running outside to try and capture the moment on film. It was an exercise in futility. The first pictures I took on my ipod (and there were a lot because I just couldn’t quite capture the magic) refused to download or be sent by any electronic format.

The leaves continued to fall.

So I hunted out my camera only to find the charger had disappeared. As I searched through cupboards, in drawers and even a big box of ‘things to be filed,’ I prayed the wind our region is famous for would hold off until I got at least one photo.

Children frolicked through the ankle deep wonderland, and miraculously (despite leaves under the bed, down the hallway and in my wardrobe) the lawn remained covered.

One afternoon I found the charger. Some of the leaves were starting to turn brown, and I was having rake-guilt for letting them lie so long, but hope retuned… Maybe, just maybe, I could capture this moment and have something to hold onto when the sunlight grows thin and the ground hardens.

However the battery was so flat it refused to hold any charge until the sun had gone down.

In the dark, I was horribly aware it was becoming hard to hear the rustle of angel wings.

The next morning, having missed the time-between-times trying to get my own fairy court ready for school, I finally managed to get a few pictures – including the one above. Although the picture doesn’t do it justice, it’s enough to remind me to appreciate the changing beauty all around us. I want to always look for it and keep that sense of wonder.

A few days after I took that photo we were hammered by the biggest storm to hit the Wellington region in my lifetime. The winds roared up off the south pole and slammed us with an icy fury. The leaves were tossed and scattered, before driving rain turned them into piles of slimy brown jobs-to-do when the rain stops…

It pays to appreciate the moment when it comes, in life and when we’re writing. Illness and an overflowing schedule have kept me away from my own writing recently, and I’ve realised I’m going to have to make some big changes to keep my writing dream alive. If change is scary at least I know the new season will also have its own moments of wonder.

P1040981
After the storm we discovered a new water feature. Goldfish maybe?

Many thanks to the women behind this blog hop – Rhiann Wynn-Nolet (who’s hosting and moving house this week *acknowledges legendary status*) and Kristina Perez. If you want to join us (even this late), or check out what’s inspiring everyone else, click on this linky.

A Moment – WIPpet Wednesday

If I had to pick only one thing to keep up with on this blog it would be WIPpet Wednesday – for many reasons. For one the WIPpeteers are a great bunch; supportive, interesting and very talented. I love our weekly check-ins, it encourages me to trawl through my own writing, take stock of where I’m at and I get to read all sorts of WIPpets from a diverse range of genres.

*waves to WIPpeteers*

You rock!

Still wobbly this week, so in honour of the 19th with no clever WIPpet maths – here is the entire page 19 from my WIP The Fall of the Kings. I’m not going to give you any context or even tell you who the participants are – just to say unexpected things seem to happen in the light of the Heartstone…

“Not scared of my magic then?”  She narrowed her eyes, looking for any sign he was making fun of her.

“Should I be?”  He smiled again and took Tau’s scarf out of her hand and pressed it against the graze on her temple.  “Come on, I’ll show you the room.” 

And for some reason, against the glow of the Heartstone his smile looked genuine. 

“I’ll need to get my hat.”

“Of course.”

Make what you will of that!

Thanks as always to K.L. Schwengel for hosting us. If you’re keen to join us, just post your own WIPpet that has some relevance to today’s date and head on over to this linky.

A Crowning Moment – WIPpet Wednesday

I had an interesting experience this week, when an inner ear infection caused an onset of severe vertigo. The world was spinning – and spinning fast. It’s a terrible feeling when you can’t focus on anything and even closing your eyes won’t make it stop. In the end, relief came in the form of a big needle and a sedative – so once the spinning stopped everything went into soft focus and I felt much better. When I wasn’t falling asleep mid-conversation or smiling dreamily at everyone…

Although the worst of the vertigo has gone, the world still has a tendency to list – and I’m struggling to sit in front of a computer screen for any length of time. So as far as writing weeks go, it’s not been very productive. But at least, and yes I’m using creative licence on a grand scale, I can relate to Josiah in this week’s WIPpet. His world may not be spinning in a literal sense, but he has certainly lost perspective.

In honour of the 12th of June, here is an excerpt from Chapter 12 of my work in progress – The Fall of the Kings. What you need to know: There are 12  Kings of Gaelladorn and this scene is part of a coronation ceremony. In Gaelladorn sovereignty isn’t necessarily for life, and during this ceremony Gareth is releasing his throne. In theory Josiah as Overseer must appoint the new ruler, but in this case he’s allowed himself to be ‘helped’. This part of the ceremony is conducted before the Heartstone and away from the crowd – afterwards a public coronation will occur.

Strangely, Josiah’s speaking in a different first person tense in this passage. (I am so looking forward to untangling this during editing…).

They come one by one and kneel down before the Heartstone, forehead to the stone whispering promises to the One God.  I can’t hear what they say, but I dutifully extend my hands and raise them up at the appropriate moment.  Acknowledging their place as appointed Sovereign before the One God.

When Gareth comes, I feel regret.  The pain of another passing.  Perhaps it is because we’ve been through so much together.  Or because it was he who opened the door to this day?  As I raise him up, I ask him if he goes willingly.  The words are formal, and unnecessary, but I say them anyway.  With an embrace he releases his sovereignty and too quickly he is gone and I am left waiting for Marcus.

I have spent much time with this man in the few weeks leading up to this day.  Yet this is the first time I’ve been so conscious of his size.   As he comes up the path he has to duck to avoid the overhanging trees, and when he straightens I feel small.  The plain white tunic, chosen for its simplicity only accentuates the raw power of this man.

Yet he kneels and lays his forehead against the stone.  His hair hangs down over his eyes, and I can’t hear what – if anything – he says to the One God.  But after what seems like the right length of time I step forward and lay my hand upon his shoulder.

“Do you, today, before the One God accept the office of his appointed Sovereign?” 

I’ve said the words before, and have always felt the thrill of doing my part in the greater plan of God’s will.  But as I say them now, the glow of the Heartstone seems to dim.  Although I am not looking at it, the familiar brightness in my peripheral vision seems to have failed, and I feel a cold stab of fear in my belly.  But I am looking down at Marcus, who is accepting the charge and I don’t turn my head, but continue until all the words are spoken. 

When it is finished and Marcus has risen and left to join the others, only then do I turn to see what has happened to the great stone.

The Heartstone is still bright, its light steady and comforting. I kneel and touch my forehead to it. It is still warm, solid, the same as it ever was. For a moment I am comforted, until I realise, to my horror, it is me that has dimmed and grown cold.

Many thanks as always to the lovely K.L. Schwengel for hosting this blog hop. If you would like to participate, you either need to choose a passage from your work in progress with some relationship to the date or *drumroll* post a new beginning (a new WIP or story idea)! It’s the biggest change to the Wednesday WIPpet since… um… well some people had theme tunes last week! Check out the linky here.

Caught in the Act: WIPpet Wednesday

It’s WIPpet Wednesday again and New Zealand is still being blasted by icy winds. A good time to hunker down in front of the heater, crack open the WIP and share something that relates to today’s date and doesn’t contain spoilers. Not as easy as it sounds, but at least we get to use WIPpet maths – which is every bit as creative as the WIPpeteers themselves!

This week’s WIPpet is made up of 5 paragraphs (in honour of the 5th of June), from Chapter 9 of The Fall of the Kings. It is dedicated to all those who like to ‘people watch’. Bear in mind is it still very much a first draft.

In this scene the Sanctuary is getting dedicated and Marcus Verona will soon be crowned the newest of the twelve Kings of Gaelladorn. His wife Celeste is at the celebration waiting for the Kings (and Marcus) to arrive. She’s understandably nervous, and her aunt (Queen) Danaë tells her a great way to fill in time at these kinds of events is to watch the crowd and see what kinds of dramas play out (real or imagined). 

There were also a lot of smaller dramas being played out; fractious children jostling for position and people waving out to friends in the crowd.  Most interesting however were the people in charge of organising the event.  The elders in their ceremonial white robes hemmed with gold, glided around checking in with each other and mouthing indecipherable orders to the novices.  In contrast, the younger men, in plain brown tunics were in constant motion; running off on errands or arriving bearing pitchers, refreshments, folded messages and in one case a large wooden bench emerging out of the press of the crowd with all the finesse of a battering ram.

In the midst of all the action one of the elders caught Celeste’s eye.  He was small in stature, and although there was nothing striking in his appearance he seemed different from the others. After watching him for a while her best guess was that he was strangely self-contained – like he’d drawn a barrier around himself that no one wanted to cross. She thought he stood a little too still, and when he moved it was with great awareness of who and what surrounded him.  She had no idea what his story was, or how he might fit in at the Sanctuary?

Just as she was just thinking she didn’t have Danaë’s imaginative flair for the game, the elder turned and stared directly at her.

In the brief moment their eyes connected, a cold prickle ran up her spine and she felt a guilty flush rising on her cheeks –  as if she’d been caught doing something untoward.

Her gaze skidded away from his, reflexively searching for her children and suddenly concerned for their safety.  But they were where they were supposed to be: Nathan huddled up with his two cousins, heads together and no doubt plotting some mischief; and to her inexplicable relief Selina was still on the rug at her feet – her beautiful dress sprinkled with angel cake crumbs. She made a big show of scooping Salina up and brushing her clean, but it was a long while before Celeste’s heart stopped thudding and she risked looking up at the crowd again. The elder had gone, but the sour after-taste of fear stayed with her.

If you’d like to join in the WIPpet fun, jump over to K.L. Schwengel’s blog to find out all about it, or click on this linky to see what everyone’s else has been writing. Many thanks to Kathi for hosting!