Monthly Archives: January 2013

Never by J. Grace Pennington

Travis Hamilton never expected to become a killer. One day he was studying to become a schoolteacher in the little western town of Spencervale, and the next he was sentenced to ten years hard labor in the Dead Mines outside town — from which few return alive.

Ross Hamilton is no detective. But when his brother is convicted of murder, he has no choice but to abandon his ranch and do all in his power to find out just what happened the night of the killing, and who is really responsible.

Neither brother is prepared to be stretched and tested to his limits and beyond by an adventure that is much bigger than either of them ever imagined.

But in the next few days, they will be. The only way to survive is to never compromise.

Never.

 

When I first started reading Never, I was half-expecting a typical western mystery from a Christian perspective. J. Grace Pennington’s book was a pleasant surprise, however. I found nothing typical or cliché about it, and it was intriguing, suspenseful, and entirely unpredictable, which was very refreshing after all the flat predictable mystery stories I had read.

The characters were very vivid, each with their own peculiar quirks and speech that made me want to know more about their background and lifestyle. They were well rounded, realistically complicated, and almost too easy to get attached to and to sympathize with. (Which is quite an accomplishment from a writer’s perspective.)

The Christian aspect was beautifully worked in as a necessary part of the whole book, and Grace pulled it off well without either sounding preachy or trying to minimize it.

All in all, it was a very satisfying book, a work of art with a sobering message that helped me to reevaluate the way I think and the values my own stories are unconsciously portraying. I heartily recommend that everyone read this book. Well done, Grace!

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Firmament: Radialloy by J. Grace Pennington

Hello again! And now do you like my hat? *Coughwinkgrin* Well! I know it’s not Sunday yet, but you see my friend and honorary big sister Grace Pennington was asking people to do  reviews on the books she just published. I’ve never attempted a review before, and am not familiar with any preferred ‘format’, but I figured it was worth a try! So I figured I’d post one today and another one Sunday-Monday-ish just for the occasion. Today’s review is on Firmament: Radialloy, the first in a series of Science Fiction books. (The others are not yet published.) So without further ado…

 

The year is 2320.

Andi Lloyd is content with her life as the assistant to her adoptive father, a starship doctor, but her secure world turns upside down after she uncovers secrets from her past.

When her father mysteriously starts losing his mind, she finds that she can no longer count on him to guide or to help her.

With mutiny breaking out on the ship and two factions desperate for a valuable secret she holds, can she save her father and herself before time runs out?

 

I confess that Science Fiction has never been my first choice, either for reading or writing. (But that could be simply a result of lack of exposure to the genre – I don’t know.) At any rate, I was intrigued by Grace’s book, Firmament: Radialloy, and found to my delight that it was an excellent book. I especially love how Grace weaves her vibrant faith through the very core of her books. It is so beautiful and so refreshing!

Grace’s descriptions are vivid and rich, and I was completely drawn into the story by them. I could hear the monitors beeping in sickbay, smell the tomato soup Almira was serving in the cafeteria; even feel the rusty metal biting into my own hands. The pictures Grace paints in her book are truly phenomenal!

Her characters too are dynamic and unique (something I myself struggle with in my writing, so it is good to see her example) and it is not hard to become attached to Andi, the doctor, the captain, Eagle Crash, August, and yes, Guilders too. I can tell that Grace put a lot of effort into each one, and I can’t wait to follow them through another story.

Speaking of stories, I should probably touch on the actual plot of Radialloy. (Let’s see, which synonym for ‘great’ shall I use?) Grace has woven an intricate story here that makes it impossible to foresee the ending. (At least for me – and I like to think that I’m pretty good at it, though whether or not I really am, I wouldn’t know.) Which is a difficult thing to do sometimes, but she made a unique story that I will be happy to reread again and again.

Well done, Grace, and I look forward to reading the rest of the Firmament series!

 

Categories: Reviews | 8 Comments

A Special Treat

Well, Sunday’s rolled around again, and I suppose that means it’s time for me to post again, since I’m trying to keep this weekly. Our internet was less-than-preferable this week so I spent a lot of time writing instead.[bunny-trail] and sewing, but since the sewing project is kind of a secret until I gradua— Oops! Anyways, I can’t tell you about the sewing project, thus I’m posting about the writing. [/bunny-trail] Anyways, I figured it would be appropriate to share a short-ish (I’m not sure which definition of short that would be) excerpt from one of my works in progress, The Rebel. Hopefully I managed to pick one that doesn’t have any major spoilers in it, but we’ll see if that happened, huh?

 

An Excerpt from The Rebel

 

A scream. Mine, I think it was. Darkness.

Consciousness burst back on me in the whirl of a splitting headache that had evidently banished all memory from my brain – there not being room inside it for both, no doubt. I groaned, reaching up to ease my throbbing temples. Blood, dried on my face. I drew my hand away from it in concern. Well, that would explain the headache, anyway.

I groaned and rubbed my forehead, trying to see through the darkness. It was so black you could almost feel it. I shivered, and drew my screaming body off the cold metal floor. My attempt to stand up failed miserably, however, and there were no walls nearby with which to support myself. I lay back down and eased my head onto the floor, hoping the cold metal would somehow dull the pain. My head ached so that I couldn’t even think clear enough to wonder what kind of injury I had. I just wanted the throbbing to stop…

A low groan aroused my groggy brain before it could settle back into the cobwebs, and I hauled myself into a half-sitting position and listened intently.

“Hello?” My voice echoed hollowly, sending chills down my flaming spine. Evidently more than just my head was in an unhappy condition.

“A…Allyson?” a voice wavered.

I kept my voice low so it wouldn’t echo again. “Who’s there?”

“My head…I hope. Could you come make sure it’s still there?”

Kent. Of all people, was I stuck here…with Kent? Good grief. God may have a sense of humor, but I was not in any mood to appreciate it at that moment. Still, I had to do something. Kent could be hurt too.

“Where are you?” I felt blindly along the floor, and stubbed my fingers on a bolt-head sticking out of the metal, “Ouch!”

Great. Now my finger is on fire to go with my back and head.

“What a blow that must have been…” Kent muttered, and rambled on incoherently for a minute or two. I inched across the floor towards the sound.

“Keep talking, Kent. I’m coming.” I encouraged him. It felt so strange; after so many years of scorning him, now it was I trying to be kind to him, rather than the other way around.

“You have one of those ice things on your trans-com? I could really use it right now…” Kent trailed off, seemingly thinking. “I can’t remember the name of it.”

I knew what he was talking about. You could download various apps on the trans-com for emergencies, like one that made the trans-com become very cold. A portable coolant. Very handy if you actually have a trans-com built to work with the app. I didn’t. Instinctively, I reached for my trans-com. It was gone.

“It’s…gone!” I exclaimed, and winced as the echoes started up again, “I haven’t got my trans-com, Kent. Check your wrist…is yours…there?”

I heard a rustling a few yards of towards my left, and Kent muttered groggily. I inched in the direction. Just keep making noise, Kent. I’m almost there…

“Here it is…I think…No, that can’t be it…my trans-com is never on my wrist.” He muttered. I reached his side just as he tried to sit up, and caught him just in time. The jolt sent my head spinning, and I smothered a groan of my own.

“Don’t try that just now.” I cautioned, “How is your head?”

“More like where…check and see if it’s still there.” Kent retorted, but his voice was still very weak. I gently felt his head. He had a large knot behind his right ear, and when I withdrew my hand it was covered in blood. Fresh blood. Instinctively, I knew there was something wrong…wronger than was wrong with my own head. He needed medical attention.

“Kent?” I spoke slowly to make sure he would understand me, “Do you have your trans-com with you?”

“Who knows…” Kent’s hand crept towards his pocket.

“Where is it?” I prodded urgently. If only he had it…surely Kent would have something useful on his trans-com. Anything, anything to help him… Please, God…

“In my boot I think…last I remem… yeah, the boot.”

I didn’t bother to ask which boot. I had both of his boots off in an instant, and it wasn’t long before I found his trans-com strapped inside his right boot. Thank you, Lord!

“I found it.” I told him, more for my own benefit than his. Kent said nothing, his mind having drifted again, I guess. I ran my hand over the tiny gadget. Sure enough, it had the polar-freez lining on the back. Beautiful. Now if only I could figure out how to activate it. I wouldn’t mind a little cold on my head myself. No. I shook the thought from my head. I couldn’t focus on myself. Focus on Kent. He needs it more than you do!

Breathing slowly, I felt for the power button. The trans-com beeped in protest, and the screen flickered before going dark again. I bit my lip. It couldn’t be broken! We needed it. Kent needed it. I pressed the button again, more insistently this time. The trans-com didn’t respond for several seconds, and then grudgingly showed a faint light. Come on, just turn on! It beeped again, and went black. Father, please… I pressed the power button, holding it down for a full ten seconds, a wordless prayer on my lips. Hardly daring to hope, I released the button, and watched as the dark was suddenly lit once more by the screen. This time it went through its normal routine and switched to operation mode.

I breathed a silent prayer of thanks, and searched through the databases. Surely Kent of all people wouldn’t neglect to install the freezpak on a polar-freez-enabled trans-com! Where… The trans-com beeped rudely, and a ‘low battery’ icon crowed the screen for a second. Oh no. I had to be fast, or it wouldn’t do any good at all. Frantic, I scrolled through index after index. And then there it was. Gratitude flowed through me, and I hastily opened the program and held the polar-freez to the side of Kent’s head, hoping against hope that it would clear his mind. I would need his brains if we were to get out of here…wherever here was.

“Thank you, Allyson.” Kent’s face relaxed into a half-smile in the glow of the trans-com. In the dim light, I could see that his lip was cracked and bleeding, and his right eye was almost swollen shut. I winced at the sight, a shiver running through me. Vaguely I wondered if I looked much better. Kent must have head my thoughts because his gaze fixed on me.

“You don’t look that bad. Purple cheeks is fashionable, you know.” He gave a half-cough, half-laugh, as though he were unused to laughter. I know I was. Suddenly my heart ached. How I wanted to have nothing to worry about, and just laugh and be free to be happy! My free hand crept to my sore cheek as a silent tear slid down it. It sure felt like my cheek was bruised. Kent watched me silently. I didn’t try to meet his gaze, focusing on the freezing power pulsing through the trans-com. My hand was getting cold.

Kent read my thoughts again. “You can turn it off now, before my whole head goes numb.” I didn’t even bother to be creeped out by his ability to read me, instead switching off the trans-com. We couldn’t afford use up its battery any more than we absolutely had to. I blinked, an image of the trans-com’s screen burned in the back of my eyes. Unconsciously I took my hand away from Kent and sat in silence.

“I think I can get up now.” Kent announced, after a moment, breaking the overpowering silence. I jumped.

“How’s your head?”

“It’s still there.” Apparently that was all he needed, too. Before I could stop him, he was on his feet, an accomplishment I hadn’t even managed thus far. He reached down and grasped my hand, pulling me up beside him. The unexpected act muddled me so much that I blurted out the first thing that came to mind.

“Do you want your boots back?”

Categories: Writing Excerpts | 2 Comments

Krachack, Chapter One

Recently I was digging through the files on my flashdrive (It’s extremely cluttered – almost as cluttered my brain, and that’s saying something…but then you can’t see how cluttered my brain is, can you?) and I rediscovered a short (Definition: 29 pages) story I wrote a year ago. It’s basically unedited, and admittedly not very good, but I thought I’d share a chapter (Don’t worry, they’re… fairly short… Not the previous definition of short, mind. More like two or three pages.) or two every now and then and see if ya’ll think it’s worth reviving and expanding. (Hey! It has dragons later on, if that gives you some incentive to read it.)

KRACHACK!

Chapter One

            Gimel sat in the doorway, feeling the sun on his face. Ah, it was a lovely, sleepy day! He was almost asleep, when his drowsiness was dispelled by a hand shoving him over onto his back.

“Hey, what was that about?” Gimel demanded. His friend Teth grinned.

“Wake up, sleeper! Didn’t you hear about the contests?”

“What contests?” Gimel asked, feeling like he’d forgotten something important.

“THE contests!” Teth emphasized, “How could you possibly forget about them? Everybody’s been talking about them for weeks!”

“They have?”

“Yes! Now, come on, or you’ll be late!”

Gimel leaped up as Teth dashed off, and followed his friend.

They came to a clearing, where numerous boys were already wrestling on the ground. Gimel didn’t recognize most of them. They must have come from out of town.

“I have found him, sir!” Teth announced to a tall, lithe man with a red scarf and mask, “This is the one I told you about! He’s very strong.”

The man in red felt Gimel’s arms and legs, “Indeed, it would seem.” He assented, “Boy, show me how you can wrestle.”

Slightly confused, Gimel threw Teth to the ground pinned him easily. The man in red applauded enthusiastically.

“Excellent!” he exclaimed, “You have much potential, lad. Please wrestle with the larger boys – I want to see how well you do with them.”

Still confused, Gimel joined the boys who were rolling and pinning each other on the ground, and launched himself against the biggest one. The two grappled and rolled here and there, disrupting the general scrimmage that had been going on. The contest continued, and soon all the other boys had stopped to watch. Some cheered for Gimel, some for the other boy, but at last the contest was over – with Gimel on top.

“Ah, fantastic! Amazing!” the man in red cried, “My lad, you must come with me.”

“But-but what for?” Gimel asked, his mind still muddled. What could he possibly be forgetting?? The man didn’t seem to hear him. He was speaking to a companion of his, dressed similarly, save in yellow. The blue man nodded, and apparently took over the overseeing of the contest, while his friend kept going. Gimel hesitantly followed.

“Where are we going?” He asked, finally.

“I will take you to Kaph, Master in Arms. He will teach you how to use weapons.”

But what for?” Gimel asked in exasperation. The man in red looked surprised.

“What, you do not know why we tested you?” He asked. Gimel shook his head sheepishly.

“I’ve tried and tried to remember what all this is, but I can’t. It’s just gone.”

“Pity, but no matter.” The man in red continued, “It did not affect your performance, and you still qualify. You, my little friend, have been chosen to train for the Aleph Yod which will be held in four years. Kaph will raise you and train you in everything you need to know for the competition.”

With a gasp, Gimel realized who the man in red was, “You’re one of the Krachack!” he exclaimed in awe.

“I am.” The man said, and there was a note of pride in his voice, and someday you might be too. Work hard under Kaph, and you may very well earn your place as the Emperor’s new son’s guard.”

This new piece of news came as little surprise to Gimel – he had always longed for such a prestigious position – but having the reality presented to his face was something else. He glowed with excitement as he thought it over.

“How far away is Kaph’s School of Arms?” he asked presently, “My mother will be Needing me to come home and help her every night.”

The man in red looked surprised, “Kaph’s School of Arms is a half-day’s journey away.” He said, “And why should your mother expect you home? She knows that one who trains for Aleph Yod devotes all his time to the training. You cannot half-heartedly train and then do housework.”

Gimel was dismayed. What would happen to his mother if he were not there to take care of her? An unwarranted tear slipped down his cheek. He hurriedly wiped it away before the man in red could see it.

Presently they came to a carriage sitting beside the road. Four great black stallions stood hitched before it, prancing with impatience. A man dressed in blue sat at the front, trying to keep the animals in check.

“Waw, this is the last of these ones. I’ll bring the next carriage myself.” The man in red called, and then helped Gimel up into the carriage where about ten other boys were already waiting. As soon as the Krachack man was out of the way, Waw snapped the reins and they set off at a canter. Gimel sat down violently with the force of the carriage and gazed anxiously at those who were around him. He knew none of them.

Gimel tried to smile at the other boys, but only two or three responded. They were too preoccupied with other things – their hands, their thoughts, and the scenery passing them – and didn’t care to talk. Gimel felt very alone. His thoughts returned to the dear old little house he had known and loved from birth. What would happen to his mother? Surely she would wait for him to come home, but he would never arrive.

Another tear forced its way out, and Gimel turned hurriedly away from the other boys. They couldn’t see him crying. He wiped the tear away impatiently, but another stubbornly came and dribbled down in its place.

“You’re nothing but a sissy to cry like this!” he muttered fiercely to himself, “Stop it, because it’s no use. I’ll never see my mother agaaaaaaaain!” Inadvertently, the last words turned into a wail, and once it came, he couldn’t stop it. The other boys were aroused out of their various activities long enough to stare at him in scorn. Gimel snuffled and tried to quiet his crying, but it wasn’t much use. He didn’t know what had come over himself – he had never cried that much before. Was it because he had never left his mother before? Oh, what must the other boys think of him?

Ashamed, he gazed out the window for the remainder of the trip, and when they climbed out, carefully did not look at his companions.

Waw, the man in blue, led them up to a gilded gate and rang the bell. A few minutes passed by, and then an old man came.

“Good day, my son.” the old man greeted, obviously pleased to see Waw, “I see you have brought the new trainees. Please come in.” He unlatched the gate and swung it slowly open. Waw led the way, and they all trooped in onto the polished stone path. It led into a wide courtyard, in the middle of which were the training houses and dormitories. The rest of the courtyard was devoted to gardens, and beautiful fountains played their streams of water gently here and there.

The scene was quite soothing, on the whole, and helped to stop the occasional sobs that still stubbornly lingered in Gimel’s throat. As his breathing returned to its accustomed manner, he was able to study those around him.

The old man who was talking to Waw was tall and fit, quite unlike Gimel’s grandfather who was frail and small and could not care for himself. Gimel admired how well this man had kept himself in shape, and guessed he was quite a serious opponent in battle yet.

This, thought he, must be the great trainer in arms, Kaph himself!

Next his gaze swept over the boys who had accompanied him. Those that caught him looking at him responded with looks of contempt at his recent weakness in the carriage. Surely they would forgive him in time? Gimel wondered what their names were.

At this moment, Kaph and Waw finished talking, and Kaph turned to the group of boys in front of him. He smiled in a fatherly way, and bowed ceremoniously.

“Greetings, my sons.” he began, and his voice was low and gentle, “My name is Kaph, and I am glad you have come, for I have been quite lonely since my last students left me. This establishment you see here is to be your new home. I hope that you will find your companions who have already arrived pleasant, but I also expect you to be pleasant to them. We will train together, and live together, therefore there must be unity.

I hope I will be able to impart much skill in arms to you, for the Aleph Yod which will be held four years from now. By then some of you will have distinguished yourselves above your comrades, and the best will then continue to the Aleph Yod. Please, follow me to your new quarters. They have been prepared for your arrival.”

As he said this, Kaph bowed politely to Waw, and thanked him for conveying the boys thither, after which, the two parted ways, Waw back to the carriage, and Kaph onward to the dormitories. The small troop of boys followed eagerly, save one. Gimel lingered, glancing longingly after the disappearing carriage. Oh, if only he hadn’t followed Teth! He couldn’t help but wish he hadn’t been chosen, and the aching in his heart came back full force. Would he ever see his mother again? The tears threatened to return, so he hastened after Kaph.

Categories: Krachack | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Greetings!

Image

Well, look at me, after all my objections; I’m actually making a blog. I never thought I would do such a thing…but then, there are a lot of things I’ve done lately that I never thought I would. [bunny-trail]Like write Science Fiction…and worse, write a theme-song for said Science Fiction![/bunny-trail] Anyways, I will be (hopefully) posting bits and pieces of my writing, opinion pieces, random observations, opinions, pleasing accomplishments, and did I say opinions? I’m really hoping to be able keep up with this, and post at least every other week, if not weekly. I’m trying to pace myself so I don’t run out of words (unlikely as it is that Calista of all people would run out of words).  So! If you have something you want to hear about, please do let me know! Oh, and while I’m on the subject I am also hoping to have guest posts every once in a while, so if you’re interested in doing something like that, I’d be delighted to hear from you.

So, please take a look around, and if it please ye, click ‘Follow’ so you won’t have any chance of escaping–coughcoughImean–forgetting my randomness. Pop some popcorn (May I have some?), grab a beanbag, and welcome to Blotches and Blunders! (And if you stick around, there could be dragon drawings and cool stuff to look at, so there’s some incentive for you.)

(And by the way, I apologize for the unfinished appearance. I’m still working things out and trying to figure out how this whole thing works.)

Categories: Uncategorized | 13 Comments

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