Friday, February 23, 2018

Ask Me Questions!



Calling all nosy dragons out there! Do you have any questions burning inside you about the person behind the blog? Well, now’s the time to ask!


My 7 year blogoversary is coming up in March (*GAAASP* This blog is so ooold!), annnd I wanted to do something fun. (Because I fail every. single. year. to do something cool for my blogoversary…) But I wanted to include you guys. Because this blog is absolutely nothing without all my precious readers.


SO.


I’ve decided to attempt another vlog! But this time answering your questions. But, ya know, I actually need your questions. Which is why I’m here today with a random Friday post.


I NEED YOU TO ASK ME QUESTIONS.


You’re free to ask anything and everything. About my writing, about the books I read or my bookshelves, about my life, even personal things. I don’t care, ask away! (Just keep the questions appropriate please. Which I know you guys will.) And it seems like most people hate the “What’s your favorite…?” type of questions, but I’m an odd duck and LOVE those. I’m totally obsessed with figuring out my favorite…everything! (Ihavenocluewhy.) So don’t hesitate to ask those types of things. Ask anything at all!


I will say, though, I’ll probably only be able to answer one or two questions from each person. (Depending on how many of you ask things.) My last vlog was half an hour long and I don’t need to do that again. Eheheh… So you’re welcome to ask me a bunch of questions, just know I’ll probably only choose a couple of my favorites from each of you. I’ll also probably be filming the vlog in about 2 weeks, maybe even sooner. So the quicker you get the questions in, the better!


ANYWAYS. This is a lot of words to just say: I NEED QUESTIONS. Ask away down in the comments! I can’t wait to see what you guys come up with!



I hope you all have a lovely weekend!

Monday, February 19, 2018

Interview with Kate Marie - Creator of The Bubblegum Rebellion



I have some delightful stuff going on with the blog today!


My dear friend and fellow writer/blogger Kate from Story and Dark Chocolate has recently launched a new website. But it’s more than that—it’s a revolution.


Introducing…


THE BUBBLEGUM REBELLION


What is The Bubblegum Rebellion? Let me share Kate’s own words about it:


The Bubblegum Rebellion isn’t about your average revolution. It’s not about anger or defiance. Rather, this rebellion is a dare. A dare to live differently. To rebel harmlessly. To conquer winsomely.

The Bubblegum Rebellion is about dancing even when others stop to stare and you let them. It’s about putting flowers in your hair like the awkward wisp of fairymagic that you are. It’s about closing your eyes and feeling the sun on your eyelids and a smile so wide the whole world can’t contain it. It’s about learning from the past but not staying there, not wasting one more minute of YOUR ONE WILD AND PRECIOUS LIFE reliving it. It’s about finally feeling like you belong somewhere and basking in the knowledge that you are loved for the BEAUTIFUL MESSED UP human being that you are.

…will you join the Rebellion?



As someone who strongly believes in keeping to childlike wonder and finding the beauty in everything, I was thrilled when Kate told me about her revolution.
Of course I had to be a part of this! This is everything I strive for.


So, in honor of her new revolution, I’m interviewing Kate herself here today! EXCITING, RIGHT??? We’ll be talking more about her rebellion, her hobbies, and her creative life in general.


Without further ado…


. . . THE KATE . . .


As a four-year-old, Kate regularly yelled long, enraged monologues to the nonplussed white wall of her bedroom when she got sent there as punishment. Her penchant for the dramatic was born then and it continued to grow and flourish as Kate matured. In recent years, the realization dawned on her - she was never happier than when she was acting. Her passion is to bring stories to life - whether it is on a stage or in front of a camera - and her hope is that those stories will change people. When she isn't at rehearsals, she loves writing dark, heavy books that usually include explosions, a big family, and lots of ethnic culture, drawing creepy things that are either burning or bleeding with her art pencils, and reveling in the haunting wistfulness of the trees when she takes long hikes in a nearby park.

Blog | Twitter | GoodReads



. . . THE INTERVIEW . . .

 


Firstly, give us a quick rundown about what The Bubblegum Rebellion is and why it's important to you.


The Bubblegum Rebellion, for me, is about shedding this hard outer layer that I’ve built up over years of life battering me into a tough, calloused person I don’t really recognize and starting afresh.

As a kid, my life seemed magical and perfect and safe. But growing up is inevitable. I saw poverty and messy relationships and gray morality and people questioning the things that had always seemed obvious and true to me.

I want to go back to being a little girl again. I want to recapture the wide-eyed wonder that life used to hold.

The Bubblegum Rebellion might be that to you, too. Or it might look different. It might be looking your reflection in the eye and seeing the beauty there instead of the imperfections. It might be trying something you never have before because you’ve decided to make the most of every day. It might be mustering up the courage to go back home after wandering away.

Whatever it looks like, I think it has the power to change people.

 


What first sparked the idea for The Bubblegum Rebellion?


Watching the Lizzie Bennet Diaries on YouTube, as lame as that is. I think that was the first time I ever realized that I could start using my love of acting now – not just after I had gotten a degree and landed a role in a play or a movie.

 


What is a your greatest hope for TBR to achieve?


(Gotta love that acronym, right? I have a panic attack every time I look at it.)

In my wildest dreams, I see myself expanding the team to include a photographers or a filmmaker, one of those crazy-talented music-geniuses, another actor, more writers, and all of us traveling the world and making indie films together.

But really… if this can be a reminder to one single person that they are beautiful because no one else in the whole world is exactly like them, that there is always hope even when you can’t see it, that everyone can start over, try again, and be brave – I will have succeeded.

 


Would you share with us some of your best advice for living rebelliously?


Good gravy. Are you sure I’m qualified to answer this, Christine?

Okay, advice.

Um. My advice is to go outside on a sunny day and close your eyes and feel the wind caressing your skin and bask in the fact that all of that is God whispering that he’s crazy in love with you.

YOU ARE A FREAKING PRINCESS. Stop being afraid to live like one.

(How did I do?)

 


Do you have certain books/shows/movies/activities/etc. that inspire you the most to live differently and winsomely?


Rapunzel from Tangled. The scene where the musicians walk through the town square and she just starts dancing, completely unconscious that people are watching, and then she reaches out and invites others to join in and then the whole square is just alive with this beautiful carefree dance and it keeps getting bigger and bigger and wow. THAT INSPIRES ME.

 


What are your favorite hobbies?


DANCING.

I’ve never taken a dance lesson in my life, but I love to dance. I just learned that about myself, actually.

When I was little, I wanted to do ballet. No clue where the desire came from, I just wished so badly that I could be in a ballet class. But ballet is expensive and when I was very little, we didn’t have a lot of money for the necessities, much less ballet lessons for a six-year-old. Then I got older and felt awkward and knew my brothers would laugh, so I never mentioned it again and never danced.

I still don’t really dance in front of people – being laughed at is still my greatest fear. But I’m researching ballet (for one of my novels, actually) and watching videos on YouTube… so who knows? You might see me on Broadway someday.

Ahem. That turned into a rant, didn’t it? Oops. I also love to read, write, and draw. Basically anything that gives me an opportunity to tell a story.

 


Do you have a favorite genre to read and write?


Fantasy! Urban or futuristic fantasy, to be specific.

I’ve attempted contemporary but it’s so stifling and terrifying for me because everything has to be realistic and accurate to the real world. In fantasy, I can make my own rules and no one can say I’m doing it wrong.

At first I wrote medieval fantasy but something was missing – lots of somethings, actually. Guns. Bombs. Jeeps. Skinny jeans. Crumbling skyscrapers.

Urban-future fantasy is the sweet spot that combines all the things I love writing.

 


5 of your most favorite books of all time. Go!


Ack. The pressure.

The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien.

Till We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.

The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. (We’ll just ignore the fact that this is three books…)

Winter by Marissa Meyer.

Whew.

 


Early bird or night owl?


Night owl!

I guess I never outgrew that childlike excitement that bubbles up in you when you are permitted to stay up past your bedtime?

 


What does your creative process look like? How do you get motivated to write, blog, and pursue other creative outlets? Any advice?


More like how do I stop being motivated…

My creative process is still growing because I’m such a writing-newbie. I’ve always had a knack for writing and I started The Songless when I was 11 but I didn’t get serious about writing until 2016. So my process basically consists of writing down hundreds of plotbunnies and then picking one to work on for the next fifteen years. (I am muchly slow.)

Motivation is the easy part. I am a very intense person – driven, stubborn, and hardworking. So I can usually force myself to get things done just out of sheer will and knowing that it is the right thing to do. But to-do lists help. (Make little boxes and number them. You get to fill in the box when you complete the task! It’s so fun.)

My advice is to let yourself be unabashedly passionate about what you do. Keep your eyes wide open and see the stories all around you. If you’re excited and love doing what you do, nothing will keep you away.

Thank you so much for letting me invade your blog today, Christine! You are the loveliest!


 

Thank you, Kate! Wasn’t this interview so motivational and inspiring? I don’t know about you, but I have a sudden urge to run outside and bask in a patch of sunlight.


Don’t forget to check out Kate’s NEW SITE and join the Rebellion!

 

TALK WITH ME!

Does this lifestyle intrigue you? Do you agree we should cling to our childlike wonder and live winsomely? What are some ways you live with “Bubblegum Rebellion”? LET’S SPREAD SOME GLITTER AND RAINBOWS, GUYS!



P.S.
 Not only did I get to have Kate take over my blog today, but, much to my delight, she got me to overtake her blog last Wednesday. I shared a guest post over there all about NaNoWriMo (‘cause you guys know I neverrr talk about NaNo enough, amIright??? *COUGH*). If you nosy dragons are curious about my NaNo origin story and why it means so much to me, head on over to
Story and Dark Chocolate
and check it out!

Monday, February 12, 2018

7 Types of Ships I Love to Find in Books



If you’re reading that title and wondering if I’ve suddenly become a pirate well…no. Sorry to disappoint! “Become a pirate” is a bit lower on the to-do list I’m afraid. Butmaybesomeday. And no, I don’t have a random urge to discuss seafaring ships. Especially since I know…like 0.7% about boats. That’d be an awkward post to try to write.


No, no, no. When I say “ships” I’m talkin’ ROMANTIC COUPLES. “Ship” is a fandom term meaning you want two characters to have a romantic relationSHIP. But I’m sure you’re all quite aware of this. (I just wanted to be clear in case you were wondering why I’m not talking about boats in this post. Ahem.)


Some of you may recall back in October I did a post about 7 (Non-Romantic) Relationship I Love to Find in Books, all to prove that there can be other types that isn’t romance. Because, let’s face it, those romantic relationships take precedence in basically…every story ever. Even stories that aren’t supposed to be romance stories. And I think we’re all ready to see other types of relationships in books. Like FRIENDS and FAMILY.


Buuuuut I’m nothing if not a walking contradiction. So today I’m going to be listing some of my top, top types of romantic relationships that get my fangirl heart squealing. Hey, in my defense, in that other post I did say I like romance in books, I just wish there were other types of relationships. But shipping characters is fun! I have many, many, many fictional couples I squeal and gush over. It’s the fandom life!


And, come on, guys. It’s Valentine’s Day week! Let’s spread some (fictional) love.


 


THE TYPES OF SHIPS




THE BANTERERS


YOU ALL KNOW THE COUPLES. Usually their first meeting is something disastrous like him spilling coffee on her or her insulting his clothing choices. So obviously they can’t stand each other. And then next thing they know, THEY’RE FORCED TO SAVE THE WORLD TOGETHER. And both are like, “Whyyyy me?!” Or, more accurately, “Whyyyyy her/him?!”


Then we get some 400 pages of delightful banter and them trying (and failing) to work together and us readers are over here screaming at the pages, “YOU KNOW YOU’RE IN LOVE. ADMIT IT.”



It’s all wonderful fun and I love it. I can’t get enough of it. Thankfully, it’s not hard to find. Bantering couples abound in books these days, especially YA. AND I AIN’T COMPLAININ’.


Howl and Sophie from Howl’s Moving Castle are obviously my faaaaaaves. (I’m so subtle about it, I know.) Shasta/Cor and Aravis from The Horse and His Boy is another classic. Gotta love ‘em!

 


GRUFF GUY + HYPER GAL


There are few things in this world that make me squeal as much as when an ultra hyper, upbeat girl breaks down the shell of a quiet, gruff guy. Like a kitten forcing an old, tired dog to get up and play. IT’S ADORABLE. You can’t deny it!


He’s all sulky and dark, perfectly content to live broodily forever the end. Then, lo and behold, here comes this happy-go-lucky girl that dares to bring him a little sunshine. Like what is this? What’s happening? Happiness and flowers and rainbows? Why is he enjoying this??? Who gave him permission to have feelings?



Ah yes, it is destiny.


This is obviously one of my favorites since this totally describes Rose and the Dragon from my WIP Burning Thorns. Heh.


Kale and Bardon from the DragonKeeper Chronicles by Donita K. Paul would totally fit this category and I LOVE THEM.

 


HYPER GIRL + SHY BOY


I really like hyper girls in fiction, guys. I don’t know why??? (Maybe ‘cause I sorta am one?) And, on that note, the super shy cinnamon roll boys are my favorite types of males to write. So COMBINE THAT? BE STILL MY BEATING HEART. (Am I the only one that’s actually a little freaked out by that saying? Like…our hearts should not be still. That’s called being dead. It’s kinda disturbing.)


But but but! It amuses me eeendlessly when you have this eccentric girl dragging along the painfully shy boy who really just wants to go hide in his room or something and not go on a death-defying adventure to save the world. But he’s going to anyway because he’s totally secretly in love with this crazed girl. Maybe it’s cliché? I don’t know. And I really DON’T CARE BECAUSE IT’S ADORBZ.



And this may or may not be much like my own Karis and Jonah from The Nether Isle (the novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo last year). Look at me, accidentally promoting my own novels that AREN’T EVEN SORT OF PUBLISHED. Oops.

 


COCKY GUY + SHY GIRL


On the flipside, what’s more precious than this ultra shy, sweet girl being in love with the hilariously cocky, seemingly confident and suave dude and bringing out his broken, vulnerable side? Hm? HMMM??? Nothing is more precious, I tell ya!


Cress and Thorne from The Lunar Chronicles, anyone? ANYONE??? Because YESSSS. Rose Red and Leo from Veiled Rose had a bit of this going as well.


I literally can’t with couples like these. I CAN’T. It does things to my heart.


 


MUTUALLY SHY CINNAMON ROLLS


Yes, I’m totally aware this is the 3rd one that involves shy people. BUT SHY PEOPLE BEING IN LOVE IS THE MOST ADORABLE THING OKAY.


It’s totally presh when one of them is shy, but when both the gal and guy are equally precious shy cinnamon rolls????



It’s so delightfully awkward watching them try to get up the nerve to declare their love for the other. And also paaaainful to go through an entire book where they’re both SO IN LOVE but neither has the nerve to ADMIT IT. Painful in a good way. (We fangirl/boys do love the pain.) You’re totally lying if you say you’ve never yelled at the characters to just SAY SOMETHING ALREADY.


No one ever said shipping was a calm activity.


Oh, but when the shy cinnamon rolls do finally get together. *happy sigh* They can ride off in the sunset and be shy and precious together. Or just…go quietly hang out at the library and share shy little smiles over the tops of their books. Now that’s a date I’d be totally on top of.

 


INTELLECTUAL GIRL + CLASS CLOWN GUY


I don’t know what it is about a pairing like this, but it thrills me. I’m sure you know it. The girl who’s all business and studies and barely cracks a smile. The boy who barely takes anything seriously and spends his days making jokes and being all around hilarious. Their meeting usually involves her rolling her eyes at his obnoxious behavior. But his lightheartedness slowly begins to make a crack in her tough exterior, and she helps him learn when to be serious, and together they end up making an EPIC TEAM. OPPOSITES ATTRACT AFTER ALL.



Ashley and Walter from the Dragons in Our Midst/Oracles of Fire series by Bryan Davis fit this to a T and just— SLKDJFLJSLKDJLFJKLSJDFL. CAN’T!

 


WILL WALK TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH/SACRIFICE MYSELF/TAKE ON THE WHOLE WORLD FOR EACH OTHER COUPLES


Oookay, that may be a bit of a mouthful. BUT REGARDLESS. These are the couples who have been through it all, seen it all, and came out stronger and closer for it. The ones who have probably saved the world 2 or 3 times together, may have lost each other half a dozen times, but always, always found each other again.


These couples have vowed to be together to the end AND THEY MEAN IT. Whether that means singlehandedly battling an entire army or jumping into a active volcano or traveling back through time and rearranging all of history JUST TO BE WITH THEIR LOVE, they’ll do it!


Basically, if you’re the villain and separate these two well HAHAHAHAHA. You’re so doomed.


And excuse me but who doesn’t love to root for couples like this??? This type of sacrificial love is #GOALS right there.



I’d say Sapphira and Elam also from the Dragons in Our Midst/Oracles of Fire series have this. Really, most of the characters from these book share this kind of love. IT’S SO INSPIRING.



I don’t think this is even half of the types of ships I love finding in fiction, but I’d definitely say this is my top 7. And for some reason I seem to like making lists of 7??? Which is probably obvious since basically over half my posts are lists like this these days. But it’s a good number as to not overwhelm you guys or me (because goodness knows my posts are long enough…).


But there we have it! ALL THE SHIPPING. I maaay go into full fangirl mode when it comes to discussing all the precious couples. (I’m sure you didn’t notice.) Which is hilarious because in real life I often grimace at romance. Seriously.


Me watching fictional couples:
“THEY’RE SO CUTE HALP I CAN’T THEY NEED TO KISS.”
Me watching real couples: “Ew, gross. Pls stahp.”


Oookay, not always. But we all know fiction is way better than real life.


 

TALK WITH ME!

YOU KNOW WE MUST FLAIL TOGETHER. What are your favorite types of ships to read about??? Do we share any? Or do we disagree on some? Let’s discuss all the shippy things!
I hope you all have a happy Valentine’s Day!
(And hey, if you’re single it’s a good excuse to get yourself some candy and fangirl/boy over your favorite fictional couples. Who says we single people can’t have fun on Valentine’s?)

Monday, February 5, 2018

7 Fantasy Worlds I Call Home



FEBRUARY IS FANTASY MONTH! So proclaimed the lovely and brilliant fantasy expert herself, Jenelle Schmidt.


This is the 3rd year she has hosted this month-long celebration of all things fantasy and I couldn’t be more thrilled! (Because, hello??? FANTASY. It’s my life’s blood!) If you want to learn more and join in yourself, check out Jenelle’s post. She has all sorts of fun planned for this month!



Oooobviously I had to immerse in all the fantasy fun. BECAUSE FANTASY.


There is so much to love about this genre. It’s truly infinite. Full of mythical creatures or new creatures altogether, strung up from a single person’s mind. Swordfights and magic battles. Elves and dwarves and all manner of fascinating races. People with extraordinary abilities. Trees that walk and talk or items imbued with unknown enchantments. When you crack open a fantasy novel, the wonders you may find inside are endless.


One of the greatest things of fantasy is the other worlds; that feeling of being transported to somewhere completely new and different where perhaps the laws of our own universe may not even apply.


There are so many brilliant and amazing worlds found in fiction that have captured our imaginations for years. Some we even may call home. Because I believe “home” is often a feeling. I’m sure you know it, that sensation of returning to a favorite book and sighing with contentment as you step through the portal of words into that mystical land that feels so familiar, so right. Home doesn’t have to be one place or even a physical building. It’s that warm feeling in our hearts where we feel comfortable and content. And, for so many of us, there are some places like that nestled within the pages of books.


So, in honor of February is Fantasy Month, I wanted to list 7 fantasy worlds I call home. (Though I suspect none of these will be a surprise to anyone who knows me. *cough*)


. . . THE WORLDS . . .

 


MIDDLE-EARTH
The Hobbit & Lord of the Rings + other Tolkien works
(J.R.R. Tolkien)

 


AREN’T YOU IN SHOCK??? I mean, obviously this one goes first. Did you seriously think I’d have a list of fantasy worlds and not include it? Let’s be real.


But GUYS. Middle-earth! Where do I even begin? I was first introduce to the world of Middle-earth when I was 10. I had started writing just a year prior, but this, this, is when I realized the power of imagination and words. It opened up a whole new world for me, literally and figuratively! I’msofunny.


My imagination soared with this world of majestic elves and hearty dwarves and hobbits who, though common folk and small, were brave enough to save the world. Of talking tree-like people and great eagles and dark places and shining places and wonders abound. I couldn’t get enough of it. This was what storymaking was about. It snatched up my heart and never let it go.


Who wouldn’t want to go have afternoon tea in a cozy hobbit hole or gallop on horseback with the Riders of Rohan? To sing with the elves under the trees of Mirkwood or Lothlorien? Or rest in the peace and beauty of The Last Homely House, Rivendell?


Tolkien’s brilliance and dedication to his world blows my mind. The history and complexity of Middle-earth tricks me into thinking it is real. It’s so broad and rich with life, sometimes it’s hard to remember it’s a fictional place.


As a writer and fantasy lover, Middle-earth will forever put me in awe.

 


NEVERLAND
Peter Pan
(J.M. Barrie)

 


Though  Middle-earth pulled out the desire to create my own worlds and showed me how grand fantasy could be, I’d say Neverland was my first fantasy home.


I’m not sure I can even describe what Neverland is to me. It holds an extra special place in my heart, possibly more so than any other fantasy world out there. Whenever I think of Neverland, a single word comes to mind: Wonder.


I can’t think of any other fantasy world that fills one with wonder as much as Neverland. Because isn’t that the point? Neverland isn’t one specific place, it’s the center of all children’s imaginations. It’s an island where imagination runs wild, where imagination creates it. To each child, Neverland is a little different. But what child wouldn’t want a place where they never grow up? Where they can play with fairies and fight pirates and swim with mermaids, all led by a boy who knows nothing else but how to have fun?


I’m about to go off into Crazy Christine Land, but the truth is, I long for Neverland. Yes, I long for all these wonderful worlds, but Neverland is different. My heart swells whenever I think of it. I’m ecstatic whenever I hear there’s a new Peter Pan adaption coming out and I always so hope it’ll be good, because I need another taste of Neverland on a constant basis. I need to be there and experience it. I need that sense of wonder it always leaves me with.


I believe whenever one “visits” Neverland, hints of fairy dust clings to them and reminds them there is wonder and magic out there.

 


AMARA
The DragonKeeper Chronicles
(Donita K. Paul)

 


I was probably in my mid-teens when my bestie recommended these books to me. The second I read the first few pages, I was hooked. I’ve since read the whole series 3 or 4 times.


Donita K. Paul is another one of those brilliant worldbuilders who puts so much thought and effort into every detail of their world. How do I even begin to describe her world?


Well, firstly, THERE ARE DRAGONS. So…yeah. Obviously that’s important. But not only that, there are TINY dragons. Of course you still have the large, epic dragons who can totally eat people…and you can ride. #Important. But there are also minor dragons which are basically kitten-sized ones and EXCUSE ME BUT I WANT A KITTEN-SIZED DRAGON STAT.


And the dragons are just the beginning. There are countless races, all utterly made-up by Mrs. Paul. Such as the doneel—small, furry little people who have a penchant for flamboyant clothing—or the emerlindian who are born pale and grow darker as they age, or kimen, 2-foot people who run so fast and are so light it looks like they’re floating on air. It just goes on and on and on.


This world is full of so many different regions and species and races. The magic system is utterly fascinating—each wizard having a specialty. Even the minor dragons have their own special gifts depending on what color they are. There’s intriguing food and fauna and culture galore. Literally every single corner of this world is something new and interesting to explore. I’ve only scratched the surface.


It’s so full of color and joy and fascinating things to see. I feel like a little kid being taken to an aquarium when I read these books—entranced by all the strange and interesting things found around each corner. But, at the same time, there’s something cozy about Amara. I always feel comfortable and content when I read or even think about these stories.


Amara is definitely a place I call home.

 


WONDERLAND
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
(Lewis Carroll)

 


You knew we were coming to this, didn’t you?


Ah, Wonderland, that utterly bizarre world Alice falls straight into from a rabbit hole. A lot of people don’t really understand my (unhealthy) love for Wonderland. It’s such a weird and random place after all. But Wonderland and I click because, well, my brain is a weird and random place.


Mom has joked before that she expects the inside of my mind looks a lot like Wonderland. She is right on the mark. Whenever I read the story or watch adaptions from it, I feel right at home. A mischievous talking cat, rocking horse flies, live flowers—those are all things I could have absolutely seen my childhood imagination coming up with. I’ve always had a strange fascination with characters who are a bit mad, so of course the Mad Hatter captured me from the get-go. Then again, they’re all mad in Wonderland. “We’re all mad here.” They’re silly and bizarre and speak in riddles or take things too literally. There are talking animals galore, an army made out of decks of cards, a time-conscious rabbit, an endless tea party—really, I don’t see what’s not to love.


To me, this world, the real world, is weird and random. You guys are on the internet, you know the nonsense this world produces! (I mean, seriously.) But Wonderland embraces it fully and accepts nonsense as a way of life. I love that. I love how you literally never know what you’re going to find there, what sort of characters you’re going to come across. And Wonderland is different to each person; it’s what you make of it. Is it wondrous? Is it silly? Is it creepy? It’s all a manner of how you look at it! And I love how it can be perceived in so many ways.


It’s called Wonderland for a reason. It feed a child’s curiosity with wonderment.


“Curiouser and curiouser.”

 


GOLDSTONE WOOD
Tales of Goldstone Wood
(Anne Elisabeth Stengl)

 


It was around 2010 I believe when I first entered Goldstone Wood, and I have been entranced by it ever since. This world of magic and faerie instantly snagged my fairytale-loving heart.


Goldstone Wood is a place in between, a bridge between the mortal world and world of Faeries. It is not a safe place, but it is beautiful and full of curious and magical things and beings.


I think what really draws intrigue about the Goldstone Wood is the sense of mystery. Because do we ever really know what all it contains? In the first few books especially, we only get small glimpses of the Wood, little tastes of a much grander thing beyond. It’s the kind of place you both long to enter and fear to. Because underneath those trees may be dark, twisted things or wondrous, beautiful ones. Or perhaps beings that are both.


It is a world to fear and love all at the same time. And though I’d prooobably get lost and/or die the second I stepped foot inside it, I can’t help but desire to visit that enchanting Wood anyway.

 


HUNDRED ACRE WOOD
Winnie-the-Pooh Series
(A. A. Milne)

 


My childhood consisted of two main things: Playing in the woods and stuffed animals. I didn’t play with dolls much. Give me a stuffed animal any day! So a story set in a wood where a child’s stuffed animals are basically alive? MY CHILDHOOD DREAMS COME TRUE.


Sadly, I didn’t actually read the official Winnie-the-Pooh books until just a few years ago (I HAVE BEEN MISSING OUT! *SOBS*), but I watched the Disney animated movie possibly more than any movie in existence, and I soaked up ALL things Winnie-the-Pooh. To this day the Winnie-the-Pooh theme song sends a thrill down to my heart. The movie, the books, everything about this adorable story makes me indescribably joyful. I could happily spend hours in the Hundred Acre Wood.


This is a world built by a child, and there’s something so charming and pleasant about the simplicity of it. The little houses of all the different animals. Pooh’s thinking spot, the bee tree, the sandpit where Roo plays. These are places of Childhood. The cozy little haunts to play and have pretend adventures in.


Whenever I’m feeling down, I know I can visit the Hundred Acre Wood and instantly be cheered again. These stories take me back to the simple, happy days of childhood unlike any other.

 


NARNIA
The Chronicles of Narnia
(C.S. Lewis)

 


Naturally no list of fantasy worlds is complete without Narnia.


I think the most captivating thing about Narnia is that we get to see it from its creation to the very end (well, not the end exactly. The new beginning perhaps is more accurate). I’ve never read any other story that allowed me to experience the entire history of the world. What a grand and magical feeling it is. And what a world we get to experience!


Is there anything more alluring than a great, fantasy world with a lamppost curiously planted right in the middle of the woods? Or the fact that its first rulers were a humble couple from our own world?


What I particularly love is, though it definitely had dark days and hard times, Narnia also was utterly full of golden days as well. It gives you a sense of hope and happiness. A reminder that war and hardships do not last forever.


Narnia is such a charming place, with its talking animals and mythical creatures and beautiful, hilly countryside. And then there is Aslan himself, his very presence filling one with amazement and fear and awe and hope all at once.


Wouldn’t you love to go dancing with the fauns or try to cheer up poor Puddleglum or visit the Beavers’ comfortable little house or dine with the Pevensies in the grandness of Cair Paravel?


There’s something cozy about Narnia that makes me yearn for its comfort and beauty. If that’s not a feeling of home, I don’t know what is.


 

And there we have it! There are so many more fantasy worlds I wish to visit and explore, but these are the ones that carried me through childhood and my teen years. The ones I’ve visited again and again and again for years and years. The ones that forever give me that comfort of familiarity when I go back to them.


That feeling of home.

 


TALK WITH ME

Tell me, O’ World Questers, what are your favorite fantasy worlds? Do we share any? And pleeeease tell me I’m not the only one who yearns for these places and calls them home! (Because sometimes I feel like a mad person. Then again, maybe I’m actually from Wonderland. *wriggles eyebrows* Thatwouldactuallyexplainsomuch.) And don’t forget to check out all the fantasy fun over on Jenelle's blog!

Monday, January 29, 2018

Self-Love vs. God’s Love



“Believe in yourself.” | “Make yourself happy first.” | “Treat yoself.” | “Love yourself first. | “Be who you want to be.” | “You’re worth it.”


Do some of these look familiar? Maybe you’ve seen quotes like this on Pinterest in front of a pretty, inspiring background. They’re common things to see on posters and makeup commercials, scattered about on Twitter and Instagram, hear people say on Disney Channel, or just passed from one person to the next. They’re motivating, right? Make you feel good about yourself.


How about this one?


Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” –Matthew 16:24


WHOA. Wait a minute! That doesn’t sound right. Deny ourselves? That’s not what we’re meant to do! We’re supposed to love ourselves. That’s the most important thing. Self-love. Because if we don’t love ourselves, we’re incapable of loving anybody or anything, right?


Well, that’s certainly what today’s society is trying to teach us. But you know what I’ve discovered through the year? Selfishness leaves no room for others.


A lot of people may instantly recoil at this and claim “self-love” has nothing to do with selfishness. I realize that, I understand where people are coming from with it. (Which I’ll discuss more in a bit.) But the thing is: Humans are selfish beings. Why do you think these self-love quotes capture us? Because we’re selfish. We want to be told it’s okay to focus on ourselves.


This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” 2 Timothy 3:1-5


That looks awfully familiar to today’s society, doesn’t it?


Selfishness is rooted into human nature from the very beginning. Think about it, little children have to be taught how to share because it’s their natural instinct to claim everything for themselves. To have their way. We have to fight the urge of selfishness from the very second our brains are capable of understanding what that is. Aren’t we all still toddlers, desperately wanting our own way? It’s a fight, every single day. And when the whole world is telling you to “love yourself”, it makes that fight a whole, whole lot harder and, eventually, seem pointless, wrong even, to deny self.


But self-love can be so destructive. The selfishness of our society makes me sick. Sometimes I can’t even watch TV because you can physically see the self-centeredness on actors’ faces. And it’s not attractive, let me tell you.


You know what is attractive? What makes a person beautiful and truly shine? Humility. Selflessness. Love for others.



Have you ever had one of those conversations where the person ends up solely talking about themselves and doesn’t even seem to acknowledge you? Do you walk away thinking, “Wow, what a wonderful person. They’re so confident in themselves. How admirable.” Prooobably not. It’s usually pretty annoying, am I right?


Now what about those individuals who ask you questions about yourself and shows enthusiasm for your passions? Aren’t those the beautiful, admirable people in this world? The people we want to be like?



Self-love says we can’t truly love anyone until we love ourselves. But focusing on one’s self makes other people fall by the wayside.


I struggle with selfishness daily. It’s one of my worst problems. My vanity is a big, ugly thing I’m constantly trying to fight, and constantly finding it creeping back in, taking over everything. And if there’s anything I’ve learned from it, it’s that the more I focus on myself the less I see others.


Being a writer makes it harder. Because we’re supposed to promote ourselves. It’s literally our job to draw people to us and praise our work and gain as many followers as we possibly can.


This used to be very hard for me. Over the years of blogging and immersing in social media, it’s become easier, natural even. In fact, I rather like “promoting myself”. Maybe too much. Because, yes, it’s definitely my job to grow a platform, but God gave me this passion for writing to use it to glorify Him. And I fail at that daily. I get so caught up in gaining followers and trying to prove I’m a good writer, that God gets pushed behind me, me, me.


But when God gives you a gift, it should never be kept for yourself. We are supposed to take it and then pour it out for others. Show people God’s amazingness through us, show what He has done.



Now, I think a million and one people would get on me for saying these things. Because isn’t denying ourselves unhealthy? People hurt themselves and commit suicide every day because they hate themselves, feel unworthy and unloved. It’s heartbreaking. I love people. People is my jam. And it tears my heart in two when I see others hate on themselves.  So I absolutely get this self-love movement.


I’m a huge believer in confidence. I have spent almost my whole life working on being a confident person and few years back something clicked with it. Ever since, I have been much more satisfied. We should be confident in ourselves. But there is a fine line between confidence and selfishness. And our human nature does so love to slip into that selfish behavior more often than not.


It’s a tricky thing. Sheesh, I agree with some of those “self-love” quotes. And there is a time and place for self care and to focus on our own pursuits. We can pour ourselves out too much and need time to refuel. And we should leave plenty of room to pursue our own passion. Lately I’ve been realizing I spend so much time helping other writers, I haven’t really left any room to work on my own books. And thus I have had to learn to say no (which is hard because I love supporting all my dear writer friends!) and take time out each day to work on my personal projects. I’m not saying we should pour ourselves out until we’re dry to the bone and don’t ever get to chase our own dreams. Again, I get what we’re trying to do with this “self-love” movement, but I think we’re going about it in the completely opposite way we should be.


You know what brings true joy and happiness and satisfaction and love?


Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” –Philippians 2:3-4


Value others above yourselves.
Now that is quite the different tone from these motivating self-love quotes, isn’t it? Because that’s the thing with those quotes—there’s a pattern. Can you see it?


Every single one of them acknowledges YOU. Love yourself. Make yourself happy. You’re worth it.


But God’s Word tells us over and over again to deny ourselves, to die to self, to seek humility. The answer to happiness and love can never be found within ourselves. It’s through GOD. But there’s absolutely no room for Jesus if we’re filled up on “self”. But if we fill up on Jesus, we will never run dry. We will find that His goals for us are our dreams and passions, and can chase them all the farther because He is the one driving us, not ourselves.


I’m sick and tired of this world of focusing on self, self, self. It’s a sickness that grows larger and larger the more we feed it.



To truly shine, is to put “self-love” away and accept God’s Love.


He is all the beauty and love in this universe. And when He is within you, you will shine more brightly, live more confidently, find more joy, and love more deeply than any amount of inspirational self-love quotes can ever give you.


Self-love is a shallow love that will eventually lead to bitterness. God’s love is true love that will lead to fulfillment and satisfaction. If we honestly want the best for ourselves and to “treat ourselves”, we will stop glossing over our sins and instead hand them over to Jesus and accept His love for us.


“Believe in yourself” is the big slogan Disney is very fond of using. Well, I don’t know about you but I’d much rather believe in the all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving Creator of the Universe than myself.


“And all these things shall be added unto you.”

 


TALK WITH ME!

Hope you guys didn’t mind the rant! I know this is a bit of a different post from normal, but it’s been on my mind for…a long time. And, as writers, I do think it’s extremely important we keep centered on Him and use our gifts for His glory. SO LET’S TALK! What are your thoughts on this issue? I know it’s a tricky one and I’d love to debate it with you all and bounce ideas off of each other!

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