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Posts Tagged ‘Xsardis Chronicles’

An array of challenges were set before me when I began Mark of Orion. Chiefly, I had never before limited my perspective to that of two character’s. I had an insanely hard time not jumping from Marcus’ thoughts directly back into Cressa’s. Then, as I tried to add richness to other characters, I found it to be difficult. In this style I could no long enter every character’s mind. As a result of all this hard work, growth occurred. I found a style I liked far more than that I had utilized for my Xsardis Chronicles.

But, today, the point is not perspectives. Today, the point is characters. Marcus is a highly inquisitive teen. He questions everything. Cressa is much more assertive and definitive. I was faced with a challenge. To portray Marcus’ questioning nature I had to downplay all of Cressa’s questions. How? All characters weigh decisions. The answer: simple phrasing.

Instead of, “Will I get sick again when I reenter the mansion?” I wrote, “It is too likely that I will get sick again when I reenter the mansion.” It may seem like a small change. But when perpetuated throughout the novel it leaves a distinct impression that Cressa weighs things while Marcus questions things, that Cressa is assertive and Marcus is passive, and a list of other descriptives I will leave you to uncover when you read the novel this November.

Often it is the simplest change effected over a large portion of text that yields the greatest effect. Character traits are not always ‘love of architecture’ or ‘movie-goer’. Sometimes, they are simple aspects you would see in the real people around you: ‘peace-lover’, ‘go-getter’, or ‘joyous’. Be real with readers–not extreme.

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My duel-blogging system is giving me the freedom to speak both to my personal life and my professional one. So, for writers…

I made a great many mistakes in laying out my Xsardis Chronicles–namely not keeping any kind of definite system for names, descriptions, dates, etc. By far, the worst of these was the mistake of dates. The summer I went to write Xsardis I had major headaches trying to pull together a variety of non-conforming facts into something that made sense. In the end it all worked out: Nadine and Ethelwyn’s story was almost entirely born out of a need to problem solve. But when I began serious work on Mark of Orion I swore I would not make the same mistakes again.

So I have a file folder on my computer dedicated to facts for the Orion Records. I keep my ‘timeline’ doc up and record my every decision. And surprise of surprises I find myself hitting Christmas in the novel a full month earlier than I anticipated. Back to work, imputing snowy scenes and inflatable santas…

Take my advice. Write down your decisions. You will be surprised how easy it is to get lost in the space-time of your book. A character who starts out fourteen, may be twelve by time you reach the end. A blond may turn into a redhead. A one week book may actually involve twenty nights. You don’t want to make these mistakes. Keep notes. Edit carefully.

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I finally have all the deadlines for college sorted out. I graduate February 18th. Knowing the deadlines makes graduation seem actually real. Between the joy of writing this short story and working with my new novel, Mark of Orion, I am all-too-ready to begin my adventures as a full-time writer. So without further introduction, here is part two of ‘The Man in the Attic’–the Christmas short featuring characters from The Xsardis Chronicles.

The Man in the Attic Part 2

Thanks to everyone who read and commented on yesterday’s portion of ‘The Man in the Attic’! Help us spread the news about the Xsardis Chronicles through your Facebook and Twitter accounts!

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It has arrived!

“Oh there’s no place like home for the holidays…” Now, Xsardis fans, you can go home. Below find the first link to my six part short story featuring characters of the Xsardis Chronicles on a holiday adventure. Check back each day for a new portion of the story. It all leads up to the Christmas Day release of the first chapter of Mark of Orion, my new book (coming out Thanksgiving 2013).

Rebirth Publishing and Jessie Mae Hodsdon wish you a very merry Christmas!

The Man in the Attic Part 1

 

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Sister Kate, my parents, and I piled into my car (whose name is Edgar) and drove to New York for a wedding this past weekened. We picked Sister Julie up and took her the last few hours. Kate and I passed the seven hours on the way to Julie’s house and the seven hours on the way back by crafting. At Soulfest we will be selling fairy dust bottles like the one Rachel wears in the Xsardis Chronicles. After ordering bottles, buying glitter, finding wire, etc., we were ready to begin our efforts just in time for our car trip. We figured would could put the time to use. The bottles are beautiful. Better than my expectations. The car time was passed pleasantly, and I have a product to show for it.

As for the wedding, it was nice. It was good to see family and be hugged by aunts and uncles. As I hugged my Uncle Matt (from Pittsburgh) goodbye, he told me the door was always open to his house. I truly hope to take him up on it this coming fall and extend my Ohio book tour to Pennsylvania.

I thought this post was finished until I read my brother’s recent recollections of his family’s vacation: http://moverethink.blogspot.com/2012/07/vacation.html?spref=fb

He learned that the world could survive without him. Honestly, I was scared of the same thing (that my world would collapse while I was away). Work has been hectic lately and I was leaving for three days without internet to monitor it. I feared that school or publishing might implode in my absence. But God was good and showed me that I can walk away from work and He will take care of things. Rest is a Biblical principal God is teaching me to take to heart.

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What should I be doing right now? Writing my midterm paper or a variety of other school/work projects. I tried this morning. And I got some good work done. But my heart and my mind and my creativity are always with this novel I am working on. It is not even a book I want to release for several years, but my imagination doesn’t seem to care.

So as I listen to Pandora’s ‘Film Scores Radio’, I compose my own tale. The characters, the voice, the adventure, the mystery all seems to be falling into place in a way that it has not since I wrote Issym (or maybe never). What a joy to write on days like these!

I love connecting creatively with my nephew Silas. My winter village is still up since I have been gone, the snow has lingered, and the basement is not quite ready to embrace my pieces. Silas and I walked its center aisle yesterday and he asked me questions about who lived in the houses. We imagined together and it was sweet and good. Some moments you just want to stay in forever and that was one!

And in other news, the Bangor Public Library has purchased two copies of the Xsardis Chronicles. Hooray! So if you have been waiting to read them, request them now!

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I was reading about Joseph. Strangely enough it has been over a year since I read Genesis (after reading the Old Testament in a semester for school, I took a break and switched to the New Testament. Then I covered Psalms, Proverbs, and some of the Prophets. Now I am finally back to Genesis) so the stories are more fresh than they have been in a long time.

At some point while he was in slavery, Joseph was forced to choose: whether he would trust God had a plan despite the fact that his world was literally falling apart, or whether he would grow bitter for the things that had happened. Maybe we could justify Joseph being resentful and untrusting; but he wasn’t. His choice to throw his life into the hands of the Almighty shaped Joseph into the man that would save the world–literally.

And then I got thinking about Mary. The shame and rejection she must have borne; the questions and fear that must have plagued her. She carried the greatest Gift, yet her road would never be easy again. She had to make that same choice: to trust God or to run? (Note: when Jonah ran, it didn’t work out so well. Part of what I preach about when I go to youth groups is that yes, the road can be difficult when you are following God; but God’s plans are the best for us. He wants us to have the best life possible so following His plan is always better.)

As New Years rolls along, Americans everywhere think about what resolutions they will make. This requires a fair amount of reflection, and it’s easy to get lost in that reflection. We can begin to doubt whether God’s plan is really best for us–sometimes subconsciously, sometimes overtly. I definitely think that Joseph and Mary had to keep making that choice to trust again and again, but I do believe that there was a moment when they surrendered themselves–for better or worse–into the hand of God. We must do the same.

I talk about this a lot in the Xsardis Chronicles, and I sum it up with the word, ‘kiash’: a prayer for victory and an acceptance of the cost and the results, whatever they may be. Joseph and Mary’s roads were not easy or bump-free, but God was trustworthy for them. He was trustworthy for Jonah too, even though the prophet didn’t like it. Joseph and Mary’s decision to stand affected so many others. Just look at Christmas. Just look at the cross.

So, are you ready to stand?

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I was recently requested to review a book—my unique blend of a love of fantasy AND of purity causes people to either stay away from talking about literature with me or to investigate my opinion. The particular author of this fantasy book attempted to create a unique world by contrasting the human-realm of morals and rules of nature with a fairy-realm without morals or the constraints of morality. Murder was not wrong; truth was relative; power was attainable by loss of morals. The writing ended up failing because this is impossible. It was an interesting experiment, but without the basic laws God installed in the universe the novel just did not make sense or feel real.

Beyond the poor skill of the author, I was struck by how wrong the book was. Books like that are the reason so many Christians are opposed to fantasy. It puts wonder in the unchecked hands of creatures summoning it by demonic sources. Correctly written Christian fantasy is the polar opposite of this. It returns wonder into the hands of the believer. This power is not summoned by demonic forces, but by the God of all power.

In Eden animals really could talk, life was granted by a fruit and there was a tree of knowledge. Throughout Scripture food fell from the sky, prophecies were told, seas moved and axe heads floated. These things could be defined as magic if seen in a book of fantasy. Witnessed in the Scripture we are amazed at the might of God.

The demonic definition of magic is not godly, but Christians should not be opposed to the concept that there is power in Christ! Christian fantasy done right is not about selfish, man-attained power; it is about returning to the wonder and blessings of Eden by the might of Christ—things God always meant us to have. In the Xsardis Chronicles, the word magic never appears. Fantastical ‘powers’ were granted by God at the beginning of time. Is that such a stretch for the God who raised Christ from the dead?

My viewpoint is controversial. I have had a very time gaining acceptance in church circles because of the word fantasy. Examine the Scripture for yourself and determine what the truth is.

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Pulling into the CIU parking lot caused my stomach to do flip-flops as if I was at the top of the Griffin ride at Busch Gardens (on this ride they hold you at the top of the coaster for several seconds and let you stare down at the world). This morning, the excitement causing the flip-flops in my stomach is even greater than before. Today I get to hang with my roomy and set up our room and start orientation. I cannot wait.

People at home would ask me if I was going to have a job while I was at college and I would think, “I run a publishing company, I write books, I am a youth speaker, and I’m going to do all that (which is three jobs, by the way) at college (which is a job). What more can I do and still do things well?” Cutting back is not quitting or copping out. Knowing your limits is important. I know my limits. At home I worked some, did high school and ran my company. But Rebirth Publishing’s tasks are expanding, the Xsardis Chronicles are taking more time and I need to be a good student (and, as my parents have reminded me, I should have a social life too).

So here we go. Down the Griffin, through the mist and into the wonderful world of Columbia International University!

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