Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category

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DISCLAIMER: What you are about to read is mostly made up. I do not own Hannah Stewart or any of her characters. I also do not own Tom Hiddleston (because owning people is a wretched thing called slavery, more on that later) or Coriolanus. I do thank Mr. Hiddleston for his extremely dynamic portal of Coriolanus and for all the other characters he has lent his voice, heart, and appearance to over the years.  I do own my own characters, Valentine (Vosh) Belina, and Michaeli’ina as well as the world of Dubai, the city of Verdigris,  and the system of Shawe. So don’t go snitching and taking and running around like a crazy person with them claiming them as your own.

I will find you, and I swear by my pretty floral bonnet I will end you, if you do.

The city hunched like a possessive ferret, hoarding the flash and dazzle of water as if it were all its own and had no need to share with anyone else. Ferry boats shaped as fantastical creatures of the depths rocked and bobbed at their moorings. I leaned into the pole stroke, pushing the dark boat and my passengers through the rose-colored wet. It slid, still and razor-sharp, against the hull, then broke at our wake and flirted back towards the pilings of the empty walkways. Hannah grinned at me from the bow and thrust her hand down into the water.

It insinuated itself through her fingers and dripped like mercury from her fingertips as she sat up and shook the droplets free. Her red-gold curls bounced and bobbed as she looked back and forth between the buildings that sank from several stories high to beneath the wetness. They divided the sea into streets, corridors, and alleyways, and I was used to their elegant, crumbling grandeur. Even the fabled green patina of their roves and copper gargoyles was routine to me now, but she gawked, and refused to let the red-headed man behind her edge up into the bow. She made him still with a flashing glare, and I laughed.

“It’s amazing” she said, grinning at me quick and sharp like the wink of dagger pulled from its sheath, “And” her eyes narrowed “You’ve been hoarding this place all to yourself?” I felt the ache of heat in my cheeks, and leaned on the pole, pushing the boat into a cool lane just to our port side.

“Not exactly hoarding, “ I hedged and guided the boat to the pier. “Just not sharing it. This is Verdigris, one of the cities of Dubai, in the system of Shawe. It’s part of my story-world.

“And yet I never was told anything about this place” she said, crossing her arms crossed over her chest.

I grinned.

“Valentine, get the lines, please” The redhead grabbed a mooring line and pulled until the boat was snug with the pier. “Get off one at a time, Hannah first” I ordered, holding the boat stern against the current with the poll as Valentine’s arms flexed and worked to hold the bow. She scrambled out, and stood where the pier met the walkway. A white haired winged female jumped and glided from boat to the walkway, and smiled at her, shifting red and black wings. Valentine turned half way, one hand clamped to the dock, and offered his other to the red winged winger. She looked at him for a moment, and he shrank back, letting go. I hissed as the bow swung out. Hannah leapt down to the end of the pier and threw a serpentine line which thwacked into him. He wound it around his forearms, leaning backwards against the drag and weight of the boat as Hannah held still, he muscled us back to the dock.

“Thanks” the heat in my cheeks flamed hotter. “Michaeli’ina, for right now we are between points in the story—please, just get out. He hasn’t done anything,” I said, and the red-winged, dark skinned female turned to look at me, her brown eyes glittering slashes in her sharp featured face. Deliberately, she turned her shoulders to me and then leapt, rocking upward and blasting us with the downdraft. The ferry thrashed in the water, taking on wet as we heeled nearly over. Valentine grabbed the dock end as it came past and Hannah gritted, refusing to let the rope move in her fingers.

I leaned all my weight against the pole, and after a bit bought the stern to the dock where the white haired female was waiting for me. She bent down, wings skewing, and her quick long fingers moved the mooring line around the ferry’s cleat.

“Thank you, Bel” I shuddered. She clasped my shoulder for a moment and murmured something in her own language, red and blue mismatched eyes meeting my gaze. “I think we had better get inside, and let the hothead cool her wings elsewhere” I muttered, looking upwards after her. The final Passenger in the boat stirred. Bel straightened, and I nodded.

“In this world of ink and blood,” her wings flared backward, one as ebony as a starless night and the other red as a dying sun, “Where words are armor, and phrases hide true intent” the Passenger moved past Valentine, who shied back slightly from them, but didn’t let go of the dock “Be other than you are, and from every eye hid—“ Bel’s words rang against the sides of the buildings, waking the shadows. “Take on the form of what you are not” she continued. The little darknesses slid like oil over the water, and up the side of the boat until they found the Passenger. I held my breath as they wound around the frame until it was cocooned in darkness. “In this time with us, wear the likeness of some other” Belina’s commands were pulling power straight from the text of the world itself, I goggled at her. I’d never seen her, not like this.

The Storyteller in utter control of the environment she inhabited was rather wild, and yet she wasn’t abusing the power I had gifted her. “Maybe she is going to be more than a short story” I murmured and looked up to find Hannah’s knowing smirk aimed right at me. I made a face at her and looked back at her character, now shrouded.

The darknesses undulated, curling around the Passenger in pieces until they and the shadows resembled someone wrapped in a pillar of gnats. The sky darkened, the suns sliding behind a cloud, but the little darknesses remained, orbiting.

A snarl broke them away, and I exhaled. Bel’s wings flicked and then folded against her shoulders, and she leaned on one of the piers pilings. “Tom Hiddleston. Nice choice, or are you Coriolanus?” she asked the Passenger who was looking down at his hands. He touched his long fingers to a cheek. His angular features sported a goatee and the wind swooped down to flatten ginger hair that curled.

“Whomever I look like” Hiddleston’s voice purred “I am always, and only, Myself.” He gave his shoulders a shake and a cloak billowed downward from the collar of his tunic, snapping and catching at the wind. The shadows poured themselves into it. My jaw dropped.

“They shouldn’t be able to do that” I choked, then closed my mouth. I shook myself and cleared my throat, clapping my hands. “Right, well let’s get inside,” I said and slid the ferry pole into its ring. Valentine, standing steady in the center of the boat, offered me his hand and I took it, stepping over the shallow wooden bench seats. Coriolanus/Hiddleston/The Passenger moved with liquid grace from the bow to the wooden walkway and moved to stand beside Hannah. I held to Valentine and then took the hand Hannah offered and was levered up beside the others. Vosh motioned us to get out of the way, and then jumped himself from boat to dock. The Passenger looked down at me, eyes too bright. “Right this way. I’ve rented a room” I said, sidestepping him. Bel moved to my right side, and Vosh swung in behind me, at my heels.

I glanced back at Hannah and her character who looked now, like Hiddleston as Shakespeare’s Coriolanus. “This is going to be some kinda wild interview” I murmured as he bowed to her and offered his arm. Hannah’s cheeks lost some of their brightness, and she looked a long moment at the offered broadcloth covered arm. Then, slowly, she slipped her hand down and rested it there as a lady does with the lord who is escorting her to a grand event.

We entered the rented room, and I moved with Bel over to the table which was prepped with coffee, tea hissing in a samovar, confections, and fruit drinks.  One thing I had learned well from working in retail and talking for hours on end, drinks were wonderful friends.

 The walls of the place were a deep egg-shell color, with supports and beams exposed of exposed wood a shade of bitter molasses. Tinkling throughout were cut pieces of glass, fashioned to throw the light from the high windows down to where we were. Rainbows flitted over Hannah and her Character, sliding, slipping into pockets, occasionally being absorbed by his cloak of shadows.  There were couches and seats in shades of the sea, as well as backless tall stools with high side arms, all clustered around a center fire pit.  Small ornate tables of various woods and stones sprouted up between the seats like bizarre fungus and elegantly patterned rugs of purple poured over the cobble-stone flooring, muffling footfalls.

“Everyone just, well, settle and pick a spot. Bel and I will being the food over, and the drinks. Anyone want coffee right now?” I asked and moved an earthen double-handled cup to the coffee urn’s spigot.
“Yeah, that’d be great” Hannah nodded, and crossed to one of the smaller stools near a table of orange and purple stones.  The fragrance of the coffee, mild and sweet, made my spine unkink slightly and I breathed in the steam as I carried it over to her. Her Character watched, and then in a silken motion, smoothed onto the floor near her feet. One knee drawn up to his chest, the other leg thrust out over the stones rumpled the edge of a rug he sat, looking every inch the broody misunderstood Roman in William’s play. I stopped dead, and he held out his hand. Surrendering the coffee I watched as he sniffed the offering, sipped it, and then handed it to Hannah.  For a heartbeat they both held it, each having a handle. Their gazes locked, and Coriolanus/Hiddleston/The Passenger looked away. Hannah exhaled through her lips, and then took the cup and drank.

Valentine took the serving tray from Belina, and motioned to her to sit as he brought it over to where I stood.

“Think you’re going to want me on this one, boss-lady” he said evenly and then bent and offered the tray to Hannah. She selected a chocolate chipped scone and meditatively dunked it into the coffee, before beginning to nibble on it.   Valentine offered the tray to her Character, who took a chocolate chipped scone and began to crumble bits off with his long fingers.  Vosh cocked a brow, and then offered the tray to me.  I shook my head.

“Check the perimeter, and just, cover him. I don’t like the fact that the shadows are so attached to him.”

“You got it boss lady” he murmured and strolled back to where Belina was, bowing slightly and offering her the tray of sweets.  I cleared my throat and sat down on the couch on the end nearest to Hannah and her Character.

“So, Hannah, I do have some questions” I began, picking at a loose thread on the arm of the couch.

“Fire away, “ she said,  covering her mouth with a hand as she chewed and  letting her Character hold her coffee cup

I took a deep breath, and began. “ Breaking Shadows: BOLD has quite a few violent scenes, and deals with some dark subjects.  As a Christian, was it a struggle to reconcile the darkness you created in your story world with your personal beliefs? Why or why not?”

Hannah shook her head slightly, the light reflecting off her glasses as several rainbows flicked over her shoulder.
“Honestly, not really. We live in a violent, fallen world. While Bold certainly paints a darker picture, it’s really just an exaggeration of the society we already live in, and the purpose of the story itself is to reconcile the darkness around us with the idea of hope.

 A lot of people have criticized my choices in regards to how I portray life and hope, and at times, I admit, it’s easy to miss the theme of hope through the darkness. But the way I see it, every redemptive story ever told is filed with darkness.” She gestured with her hands, and continued “The history of Christianity is filled with hopelessness, loss, and martyrs. Our religion is really built on the blood of our forefathers, and in the end, our hope is found in blood – the blood of our Savior.

Sin is an ugly thing with an uglier price tag, which our Heavenly Father willingly paid. So, yes, this story is dark. And violent. But, at least in my opinion, true hope cannot be portrayed in any other way. One of the issues I’ve found in modern-day Christian literature is that, so often, it portrays the Christian life as a kind of Utopia.

 But all of redemptive history, and God’s word itself, promises that there will be suffering. Our Hope comes from the knowledge that the darkness will end, and that we have already won against the forces of darkness – not from ease or light in the moment. Really the idea behind Bold is that found so often in the New Testament, in passages like Romans 5:2-5 – the idea of endurance through hope. We can endure all things, even death itself, because we have Hope in our God, hope in our ultimate victory.” She paused and her Character gave a hoarse, bitter laugh.  She looked at him, the corners of her mouth tightening and her nostrils growing white.  She looked back to me.

“There will always be some that disagree with my representation in Bold, and perhaps the third book in the series will help put them to ease, but I didn’t write this for everyone to agree with it. I wrote this because my own soul needed to remember that there is hope even in the darkest of times, and I’ve shared it out of the belief that God just might use my simple words to help someone else that, like me, is struggling through the harshest of circumstances, desperate for a little light to break through their shadows.”

Hiddleston/Coriolanus shook his head, muttering too soft for me to hear.  Hannah’s fingers twitched, then she took the coffee back and dunked her scone again, nibbling at it and waiting for the next question. I ran a finger over the tufted work I was unraveling by pulling at the thread and curled my fingers into the fabric.

“Every author works to craft a world that beckons their readers to engage the willful suspension of disbelief, the investment in their story which becomes reality for as long as the reader is reading.

Share one tip with us on how you created that bridge from our reality to the reality of Raven Falls, how do you get the reader to forget that they aren’t really living in your mud caked town?”

Hannah wiped her chin and then with a smirk reached over and wiped her fingers on Hiddleston/Coriolanus’ hair. He snarled, and shifted away from her reach, but it was too late.  Primly, she smiled at me.

“I think for most of my works, the key component for this suspension of disbelief is my narrative style. While it’s become a popular choice recently, I’ve always favored the first person present, even when it wasn’t a common choice. I’ve always felt the best way to achieve that suspension is to put the readers themselves into the story.

They aren’t reading about characters, they are one, living and breathing as the main character does. It’s always a challenge, as the first person present is particularly vulnerable to plot holes and telling rather than showing, but I’ve worked hard to pull it off. When this form of narration is done correctly, I think it offers a very special glimpse into the world of the characters, and it’s my personal favorite to read.

She leaned forward, motioning with her hands. “It offers more than just a story – it’s a connection. By being a character, you can really live the story, build the same connections, think the same thoughts as the characters do, and that’s beautiful. I’ve strived to pull it off, and I hope my readers can sink into the story the way I did.”

There was a flicker at the tail of my vision and I paused, then looked at Belina who got to her feet.

“Please, excuse me, I need to go and check on some—I’ll be right back. Continue, I pray you. I’ll catch up later.” Red and black wings swept her up and then she was winging out through the door we had entered.  I looked at Hannah who slipped a hand down and took a hold of her Character’s neck.  He grimaced and rolled his eyes.
“I’m not the one doing things” he protested.

I exhaled and then asked the almost final question.

“Most authors are either “world builders” or “plotters”. Each kind of story-teller has a strength, and a weakness. Most world builders create cultures and people so real that it’s difficult to believe they don’t have a portal to their worlds in their basement, but have trouble with the pace of plot.   Most plotters have a hard time making the reader care about their paper tigers.  Which one are you, and how do you shore up your kind of weakness?” I rubbed a temple, very much aware that the only reason my worlds were as developed as they were, was because I had learned so much from my world-building writer friends.  Hannah smiled, but kept a hold of Hiddleston.

“I am very much a world builder. When I first started writing, I had no idea how to plot, how to build a story – it’s always been about the characters, fleshing them out, learning their innermost workings, their joys, their heartaches, bringing them to life for myself and my readers. I just love my paper tigers, each and every once of them, and it’s my greatest joy to watch readers love them too. But, as such, plotting has never been my strong suit. I’m blessed to have a fairly natural talent for pacing, but everything else took a lot of developing for me, and continues to be a constant struggle. I’ve certainly improved since I started my journey, especially where outlining and plotting is concerned, but I’m still a world builder at heart.”

Coriolanus ducked away from her hand, and shook his head, but she grabbed his shoulder and took a hold of his hand, knitting her fingers with his. Again, their gazes locked, only that time his cheeks were the ones that went sallow and he looked sharply away.

“The main way I’ve overcome this weakness is through reading” Hannah said brightly “ A lot. It’s probably the most commonly quoted bit of writing advice, but you simply cannot write without reading. Reading all kinds of works, especially those written by authors on the other end of the “world building” and “plotting” spectrum, has helped beyond what words can express.

But, more directly, all of my works go through several stages of editing and rewriting before I’m happy with them. My process is ever changing due to a fluctuating college schedule and family needs, but for Bold, the process was something like this: I began by just writing the story, getting it out on paper. Then I set it down for a few months, moved on to other projects, read a lot, and came back to it with fresh eyes. At that point, I identified the weakest plot points and bits of development, and began to fill them out by adding new scenes and touching up old ones. After another break to distance myself from the project and improve myself, I returned again for a double revision, rewriting sections, filling in others, cutting extra bits I didn’t need. Every revision, I focused more finitely on the plot, working on correcting mistakes I’d made and strengthening my weak points.

By this summer I’d spent 4 ½ years working on and off on the project, alongside a number of others. A week after school let out, I had myself set up with the most recent document on my computer and a new notebook in my lap. After about 2 months, 2 full handwritten notebooks (which were then typed up into a new document), a ton of Skype sessions with my ever-patient plot bunny, and a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, I had the second full rewrite of Bold completed, with 2 weeks left of break to do another full revision and edit. After reading the full story out loud twice, making edits along the way, I finished the final draft of Bold the day before school started again.

Through the semester, I was gradually reformatting it as I waited to hear back from various publishing houses and worked on other projects. Once I made my final decision on how to publish the novel, I completed the reformatting, and ordered a proofreading copy. Much of my proofreading and final edits were done in the last 2 weeks of school alongside finals, then the edits were put in, and it finished – exactly a day and a half before the release. “

She looked down at her hand, joined with Hiddlestons, and her voice took on a different timber.

“I know I’m rambling now, but that’s what we writers do, isn’t it? In essence, I shore up my weakness through a lot of hard work and elbow grease, a lot of BETA readers, and a lot of help from my friends –“ She smiled softer, “ Those I know in person, and those that passed away long ago, but left their wonderful works behind to help me along my own journey.”

“Fair words, foul breath” Hiddleston/the Passenger said, lips pulling back from his teeth “As if one such as she, would tell you any of the truth.”

Hannah shot out of the seat.

“Oh really? I’m a liar am I? Well then, why don’t we see how well the truth sits in your mouth, sit!” She pointed at her vacated seat. He smoothed to his boots, towering over her. “I said” she said softer. “Sit”  He stumble backwards and then was thrown into the stool/seat.

I swallowed and fumbled with the string on the couch arm again.

“Ah, Hannah?”

“It’s fine,” she said turning on her boot heel. “He’s not in his tale, so I have quite a bit more control over him. Go on” she said, folding her arms slowly “Ask him your questions.”

I got to my boots, and moved to stand just behind her.

“What  is your vision for utopia (a police state, free market, totalitarian regime’, benevolent dictatorship etc.)  and what would you personally be willing to give up to achieve such a legacy to the world? (Example: your own life, your appearance, your own personal power etc. family and friends are not acceptable answers for something for this particular question)”

“I could care less who’s running the thing. They can run it straight into the ground for all I care.” Hiddleston’s voice ground out, as the Passenger/Coriolanus gripped the arms of the stool chair. ” All that matters is that the rebels are demolished. My utopia was stolen from me long ago. All that matters now is that I fulfill my oath to finish them off.” His pale blue gaze flicked over me and my heart gave an off tempo kick. “I have nothing left to lose, they’ve taken everything from me. Everything.” He continued, voice almost dulcet. ” And they’ll pay for it, each and every one of them. I’m perfectly willing to give whatever I have to. My life is but a small price to pay.”   Hannah pursed her mouth and shook her head. The crumbs of scone over the floor vibrated faintly, I frowned. They fell to the floor still.

“Right. Well, that’s a lovely sentiment. You are very dedicated to your goal.” He snorted.

“Ask him something else” Hannah goaded.

I rubbed my forehead.

“All right. Let’s try this question.  Consider if you will, a mirrored moment.  Your place is reversed with the irritating band of scruffy rebels, they are in power and you are on the outside trying to overthrow them.  What would you do to undermine their authority?”  I asked and Hannah tensed, throwing me a look sideways.

Hiddleston/Coriolanus fussed with a sleeve, and then shrugged, a smile climbing sideways up his face.

“That’s easy enough. Their greatest weakness is that they care.” He grunted ” Or at least, they claim too.” He shook his head ” They still believe in humanity, somehow. All one would have to do is worm in among them and gain their trust. Easier said than done in this climate,” he shrugged. ” But certainly possible.”

“Well thank you for that insight” I said “Now I.  ..”

“I believe” Hiddleston smiled, shadows sliding over his shoulders and forming around his arms. “You had another question, and possibly two.”

“Uh,” I swallowed and looked at Hannah, who was half way to the door, but gestured a vague ‘go on go on’ and then she disappeared through the opening. My eyes widened. Hiddleston smiled, and then bowed.

“The art of conversation is very much like dancing. Perhaps” he said evenly “If we were to try a waltz you might remember those two last” his face was suddenly very near mine “Important questions.” I stumbled backward, and found that he’d gotten an arm around my waist.

“HANNAH!” I yelled, but the room was all ready beginning to spin. One-two-three, one-two-three, one-two-three, we swayed to a rhythm only he could hear.

“Questions, dear lady, one should never, ever play coy with questions. Not” he shook a finger lightly before my eyes “When interviewing the most important character in the book.”

“You have defeated all opposition” I choked out, shutting my eyes as the room spun” There is nothing for you to do to maintain control over people. You’ve utterly and completely won, your enemies are vanquished and you have publicly executed them.  Their bodies are carrion in the markets and there is   no doubt that those who died are the ones that you have fought.  What is your next step?”

“Well, that depends on which side of me won the coin toss,” his voice murmured as we continued to sway, one-two-three-one-two-three-one-two-three. “Parts of me want to die with them, end the cycle of pain that this world has handed me. Other, smaller bits would want to settle down, live a simple life again, start a family even. I have no interest in power, or change. Their deaths are all I care about – nothing else matters. I have nothing else to live for, really. Maybe I could, someday, if they were out-of-the-way. But the thought isn’t worth pondering now. It’s merely a distraction from my task, and I can’t afford distractions now. ” I ducked away, scrambling over the furniture,  and towards the door as his bootfalls sounded across the floor, faster, faster.

“Oh no, you started this—with all of your questions and having her pull me from my own tale, only” he shrieked “She didn’t realize how much of it I bought with me!” I flashed out onto the dock and windmilled both arms then caught the lentil of the door. The whole sea was vibrating, vibrating with dark shadows which made the water boil.  The pier was gone. The boat was gone. The sidewalks were gone. All that was left of the town was undulating darkness. “She destroyed everything that I loved. It is only fair now, that I destroy what it is that you care about.” His voice hissed in my ears.

“Idiot” Hannah’s voice cracked through the maelstrom of darkness. “I’m the one that made the world, and everything and every one in it. You think you alone grieved for what happened? You are a little child playing at being a grown-up” I looked up, and gasped.

Valentine tossed a scarlet rope ladder down and I jumped for it, as the great wings of the Vos beat back the darkness and its great diamond-shaped head lowered at the end of the powerful neck, its mouth opening in a cry that set the darkness whorling back on itself, and making Hiddlston blur and stagger in the doorway.

“C’mon up, watch where you put your hands” Bel said evenly, catching me under the arm on one side while someone else caught me from the other and pulled me up behind Hannah on the Vos’ wide back.

“Ina” I choked, and then “Oh suns I was so frightened that something had happened to you—all of you” I said and they looked at one another and then at me, smiling slightly. “Well,” the Daithian shook her head “Who would have believed that a plot-first scribe would admit that.”  The great beast moved out over the water, and the swirling darkness that was pouring like bad ink over everything below. The bright, decaying city was being smothered by it.  I blinked, struggling to get my vision cleared.

“Oh, don’t worry” Hannah patted my shoulder. “Jess and the others are all ready working on a plan to take care of the little kid and their temper tantrum down there” she nodded ” I’ll see your world put to rights before I leave. Promise” she squeezed the shoulder. “It’s too cool of a place not to see the proper light of day.” The Vos turned towards the suns, and began climbing, lifting us further from the darkness, into the wooly wet of the clouds. “Did you have any other questions for me?” she asked, looking over her shoulder, a vague form of gray before me on the dragon’s shoulders.

“Just one” I sighed.  “Which antagonist are you the most like from Breaking Shadows: Bold; which one would you actually be willing to let win, for the sake of telling a story?”

She turned back around, facing foreword.

“Well, there’s really only one antagonist in Bold. There are others with antagonistic qualities, sure, but only one real antagonist – the one you’ve just met. And as much as I hate to admit it, there are certain qualities we share. Our passion is one – we throw everything we have into what matters to us. We both love our families beyond reason. We both write. And we both have tempers. But perhaps the single point we are the most similar, and the most different on, is the fact that when we find our speck of hope, we cling to it for all we’re worth, and we don’t let go. The difference is, my Hope gives life, and his hope takes it. My Hope will never die, his hope dies with him. My Hope leads to everlasting light, and his to eternal darkness. Really, his hope isn’t hope at all, but it’s all he has. As for letting him win – in ways, I already have. But his winning is short lived, and it’s easily argued that it’s not really winning at all, but losing in the cruelest of ways.” She gave a laugh “And as for telling his story, well,” her voice was bright as we broke through the last wisps of cloud and out into a brilliant blue sky, with dazzling twin suns overhead. ” What did you think Breaking Shadows: Fractured was going to do?”

Thank you Hannah for agreeing to meet with me in my story world! Now, *WHEN* exactly are Jess and the others coming over to help with the clean up?  Ah well.

For those of you who stopped by I hope you had fun reading about our adventures, but they aren’t over yet! Check out all the other fantastic stops along the tour. Oh, and don’t forget to check out how YOU can own part of the action, hope, and heartache yourself. Won’t you be BOLD?

Tour Release Schedule

 KNOCK 70% OFF YOUR PRICE OF  BREAKING SHADOWS: BOLD BY ENTERING THE #HOLYAPPLECRISPS Tournament!

Two winners will receive 70% off the retail price of Hannah’s amazing book! All you have to do to enter is share something about Bold on Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #HolyAppleCrisps (Jesse’s tag line in Bold). On the last day of the tour (Dec. 30th), the winners will be drawn at random and announced on her  blog.

OR BY ENTERING THE
Breaking Bold  YOU AND YOUR BOLD SELF Contest:

First, you need to go here holyapplecrisps

Contestants will send their artistic interpretations of the scene to breakingshadowsproject@gmail.com. Entries can be anything original, from drawings to videos, audio, written responses from their characters, or anything else they can come up with. Entries must be sent in by midnight on the 29th. On the last day of the tour, Hannah will post her top 10 entries to be voted on by readers. The winner will be announced on her  blog the week following.  What’s the prize? Why a SIGNED COPY of Breaking Shadows: Bold, of course.*

* for official contest rules or if you have any questions, please contact Hannah at the e-mail address above.

Don’t want to wait to see if you won? Looking for a fantastic gift?  Do you just want to get your hands on Breaking Shadows Bold so you can throw it at the wall repeatedly for what happens to the paper tigers inside it? Well, you CAN go here too, and buy it.

doubleholyapplecrisps

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Cake, like  most of the  best things in life, doesn’t just happen. For cake to happen successfully you need a  plan, a plan and two other things: time and a reason to make one.

Earlier this month, Mom and I had both. I had a friend who was going in for gall bladder removal surgery, and a day off with nothing pressing on me to be accomplished.  I had asked Mom earlier if I could make a meal for my friend as she has kids and I thought that a home cooked meal complete with cake would be just the thing to say ‘I’m thinking about you and hope this makes you smile as you recover.’

Mom helped me pick out which meal to make (roast beef, carrots, potatoes) and then I added a 1-2-3-4 cake. This is an old family recipe that most bakers have passed down in their family. This is a fantastic cake, it’s easy to make and so tasty. You can change it up and add things to it to make it more luxurious or serve it unadorned with coffee or hot chocolate and enjoy the simple goodness.  It’s called a ‘1-2-3-4’ cake because its how the original users of the recipe remembered the main ingredients.  You use:

1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
4 eggs
1 teaspon of baking powder
1 cup of milk

1 teaspoon of  vanilla


It’s so easy! It’s been my family’s go-to cake for three generations. I remember my grandmother making it when we’d come down and visit during the summer, and Mom would make it for birthdays, and any time we needed a cake.  You can use it as a layer cake or as a sheet cake. You can pare the recipe down or double it as needed. It’s like the Swiss-Army Knife(TM) of cakes. It also makes amazing cupcakes.

The first step is to add the sugar and the butter together. According to MomMom’s notes (that’s the paper on the counter there) it’s called creaming . I don’t know why, I just know it’s the phase of the cake that makes me the most nervous because the mixer suddenly decides it’s tired of being a mixer and wants to know what life is like  as a mechanical bull.


Yee-haww git along lil tastebuds.  For those who are interested, the mixer is more than 30 years old, and still works amazingly well, other than the aforementioned dreams of rodeo glory. It is my grandmother’s mixer, passed down through the family.  After you cream the sugar and the butter together you start adding in the eggs, one at a time.


Baker’s tip: don’t ever just  crack the egg into what you’re making, when you add in eggs. Break it instead into a smaller container or pitcher. If egg shell, blood, or mutant chicken are present, you’ve saved yourself the heartache of having messed up your whole project.  When you’ve verified that there’s nothing wrong with the egg, then add it into your cooking project. You’ll save a lot of heart ache this way.

This shot is after two eggs were added and this yoke was being irritatingly illusive. I had to shove it into the beaters with the spatula. But look how creamy the batter’s getting! Ah, but it’s only for the minute. You still have to add in the flower and baking powder. In a separate bowl combine the flour and the baking soda. I used a whisk but you can sift it too. You just want to combine the flower and the powder evenly. If you have self-rising flour you don’t have to do this step but I can never find self-rising flower and so I have to add the baking soda in.


Now comes the time of testing and patience. You have to add the flour/baking soda to the rest of the mix  slowly.  I suggest half a cup at a time, maybe a little more if your mixer’s newer than mine. Too much too soon, and you’ll be covered in flour. And so will your kitchen.  I alternate pouring the milk and the flour in as well. It helps things combine nicely.


It’s impossible to get a shot of the milk pouring while holding a camera, it just can’t be done, at least by me it can’t.  So there’s the milk, sitting up on top of the batter instead of looking elegant as its poured in. When all the ingredients come together just right, this is the final result.

From there, you take the batter all lovely and smooth, and pour it into the cake pans, which you’ve all ready greased or lined.


But before you do that, don’t be like me. Don’t forget to add the vanilla! Very important to add the vanilla! Right. Onward.

Another baking tip: pick the pans up and drop them on the counter (not far, a quarter of an inch does it) to get the air pockets to brake up so you won’t have as much settling and falling when you take them out of the oven.

Then, it’s time to think about how you want to dress your cake. Or if you want to dress it. I did. I decided on chocolate icing.


Chocolate icing recipes abound, and I don’t remember which one I used, but I do know that I used unsweetened baker’s chocolate, not cocoa. I didn’t take pictures with the icing simply because other things were happening. Things like this:


So I was a tad busy while making the icing.  Mmm, I love vegetables cooked with the meat. They just melt. Anyway, so I was busy in the kitchen while I was making icing. Then, the cakes came out and it was time to assemble them using the delicious sticky chocolate glue.


That is almost the end of the story. The very, very end, is that my friend loved the meal, her kids adored the cake, and every last pan came back lovingly cleaned. Though my friend said that really, she could have given them back unwashed, they’d been licked spotless.

What undertakings have you started, to help someone else when they were in a low spot? Did you wind up getting the most out of it, like I did?  If you try the cake recipe here let me know. Or if you use this one too, let me know!

Coram Deo Scribes.

 

Hullo Scribes! I have been working, working, working, on lots of things. One of them is interviewing the different writers/artists we are having in for events  where I work, and since the interviews are my own I thought I’d share with it you as well. For the sake of clarity, I’m leaving the ‘his way’   to prevent anyone from crying ‘ this is plagiarized’. For all intents and purposes with interviews, I am His Way.  Enjoy!

HIS WAY:  There are a great many graphic novels/comic books available today, what in particular sets your stories apart?

MEL TODD: My stories show what sin and God does to the soul. I deal with deep issues of healing in a creative visual way. I haven’t seen many graphic novels show or deal with our relationship with God in the intense, “raw” way I try to illustrate and tell in words.

HIS WAY: How would you describe your drawing style?

MEL TODD: My style is a mixture of abstract and semi-realistic. I have a little bit of a manga influence, but it is more of a Western style. My ink work is this wavy,  fluid style that lends to the abstract in some ways.

HIS WAY: In writing a traditional story, words are used to paint pictures in the readers’ imagination. The reverse can be said of a graphic novel, that they take pictures to write messages in their readers minds. What message burns like a fire in your bones and smolders from your fingertips to the page in your work?

MEL TODD: The biggest message that burns in me is GOD IS GOOD. I can’t say I hit the mark every time in my work, but my goal is to tell people that God is not evil and He loves us and wants the best for us.


HIS WAY: Christians are often leery (and rightly so) of this particular genre, what are you, and others like you,  doing to bring the message of Christ into a very secular venue?

MEL TODD: I believe sharing the Gospel in a creative way opens the door to the world. Different Christian creators do it in different ways; from superheroes to Bible adaptions, from drama to manga,  and so on. I personally try to preach in my books. Others don’t think we should be as preachy and be more subtle like Tolkien. Which is fine, but the funny thing is; secular reviews of my work never find my stories preachy. That’s funny because that is what I’m trying to do. I feel if you share the Gospel and the truth it will touch lives and plant seeds in non-believer’s hearts. The Bible says the word is sent out and does not return void. The word of God is the incorruptible seed. We do our part and let God do his.

HIS WAY: If a young artist is interested in pursuing the idea of creating a graphic novel or comic book, where should they start?

MEL TODD: Start from the basics. The book Drawing Comics the Marvel Way is a great resource. There’s been a lot of  How to comic books that have come out, but this one will start you off in the right direction. Plus, draw, draw and draw. And study, study, study everything you can about drawing. Which means go find more books or look on the internet for tutorials and books. Always be open to learn, learn and learn.

HIS WAY:  What books or other resources have helped you grow  as a graphic artist?

MEL TODD: Besides that Marvel book, mainly a boatload of comic books and graphic novels that I have studied through the years. I would study my favorite artists’ styles and try to figure out what their methods were.

HIS WAY:  If you  could pick one goal for your work to achieve in your life time, what would that be?

MEL TODD:  A movie. Live action. I say that because I can see it as animation and it going over well. But as a live action flick with real people and CGI, that would be tough I think for mainstream viewers to accept.

HIS WAY: Other than your own work, what graphic novels and comic books would you recommend for reading?

MEL TODD:  R-Squared Comics just released Lightweightz: The Anthology part 1  http://www.rsquaredcomicz.com/  It’s a different take on the teen superhero genre.

Kingstone Media  http://kingstonecomics.com/  produces some great Biblical adaptions and other comics

Conquer and Conqueris by Marc Moran http://conquerorandconqueris.com/Home.html is a great teen superhero graphic novel.

The best place though,  to check out some good Christian comic books/graphic novels is at R-Squared comics links on the right side of the home page  http://www.rsquaredcomicz.com/

HIS WAY: Where can those who are interested keep up with what you are doing? What’s the best place to stay in touch with you, on the internet?

MEL TODD:  My web site is www.weaponpress.com. My CONTACT link is the best way to reach me.

 

Hope you enjoyed that look at the inner workings of a graphic novelist’ mind  and picked up some tips too!