Monday, January 27, 2014

Writing Tip- A Meaningful Death

Aslan's death demonstrated God's love.
Have you ever read a book (or watched a movie) where a character received a death that in no way matched their importance to the story? I just finished a book like that, and it has wounded me more than I can say.

Why? Because a character I loved died for no reason. Not even the writer in me can account for her death. It was needless and worthless. She could have easily lived, after all else that she had survived, and no one would have questioned it. She could have even died a better death.

How does a character die a great death? They die for what they believe in, for those they love, and they do it in such an epic way that we can not help but stand up and take notice.

Do not let them die a puny death. Do not let them die for nothing. Make their end mean something and let them meet in a way that will mean everything to yours story.

In The Seed, a novel I wrote two years ago, my message is that we must give up everything for the message
Boromir's death created all sorts of conflict for the story.
of Christ. And so one of my characters died a martyr's death. It was important to the story and everyone who read it told me that it made them think about what they would have done in that situation. That is what a character's death should do.

It should not just upset us, but move us to action, to change. Because ultimately, the character does not just die for the story, they die for us.

If you want to read more on this subject, you can go to this link at Go Teen Writers.

Tomorrow I plan to post a short story I wrote a long time ago that deals with this subject.

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Unlikely Debut of Ellie Sweet- Stephanie Morrill

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description: For once, Ellie Sweet has it all together. Her hair now curls instead of fuzzes, she’s tamed the former bad-boy, Chase Cervantes (she has, right?), and her debut novel will hit shelves in less than a year. Even her ex-friends are leaving her alone. Well, except for Palmer Davis, but it can’t be helped that he works at her grandmother’s nursing home.

Life should feel perfect. And yet, it’s not that easy. Ellie’s editor loves her, but the rest of the publishing biz? Not so much. And they’re not shy about sharing their distrust over Ellie’s unlikely debut.

Ellie has always been able to escape reality in the pages of her novel, but with the stress of major edits and rocky relationships, her words dry up. In fiction, everything always comes together, but in real life, it seems to Ellie that hard work isn’t always enough, the people you love can’t always be trusted, and the dream-come-true of publishing her book could be the biggest mistake she’s made yet.

My Thoughts: This book answered questions left from the first book, The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet. Does Ellie get away with the things she wrote about her classmates? Does she end up with Chase?

Just as with the first, I was drawn into Ellie's story and her dramatic high school career. I just was not able to connect with her as much as in the first. I am not published, nor have I dealt with much of the same things as she did in this novel.

Yet I still enjoyed reading it. If there happens to be a third, I will be sure to read it and get lost in another Ellie Sweet adventure.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Guest Post With Hannah from The Writer's Window

Hannah was the winner of my guest post contest last month and today she is here to tell us about her manuscript, Moonscript. Say hello!

Hi Rebekah! Thank you so much for having me on your wonderful blog! 
I’ve just recently finished the first draft of my novel, Moonscript, and I’d love to tell you about it! Although the roots of this story started three years ago, this actual manuscript was written in the past year with the help of my amazing mentor, Anne Elisabeth Stengl. Without her, Moonscript would be a completely different (and poor) tale. At the end of 2013, I completed the first draft at 446 pages, 115, 923 words. Now, I’ll be revising and editing with the plans of going through an extensive line edit with my mentor. Hopefully, I can then pursue publishing!

Moonscript is a YA fantasy novel about redemption. It’s an adventure, full of colorful characters and humor to contrast the darkness of the pursuing threat. I hope it will encourage and inspire the readers to have faith, endure, and know that there is always a second chance.
If you’d like to learn more about Moonscript and my writing world, check out my blog, TheWriter’s Window.

The Secret Was Safe With Him…But Only If He Was Saved First
Long ago, the elven king hid away his most precious book, the Moonscript, for only it held the secrets of the unreachable Higher World. Evil has long sought this knowledge…and now the heir to the Moonscript has vanished…

Such stories should have nothing to do with Tellie.

Young Tellie is a simple orphan girl with one desire in her heart—to find a family who loves her. But when dark strangers visit her inn, she discovers a mysterious treasure and is pulled into the outside world.

Her dreams of family and home are forced aside as Tellie is plunged into an adventure beyond her imagination. If she is to escape, she must rescue a fellow prisoner, the only person left alive who can keep the Moonscript a secret. 
But which will be harder—rescuing him from dungeons….or from himself?

Moonscript Excerpt

The storm was subsiding, and all that could be heard in the inn was the patter of raindrops on the roof and the slosh of water in a bowl. Tellie bent over the washing bin, scrubbing away at the dishes. She stood for a moment, relieving the ache in her bent shoulders, and rubbed her burning eyes. It was late; surely the men at the table had left by now. She crept to the door and listened. Yes, all was quiet.

Yawning, Tellie walked out to the table. The ale mugs and plates were still scattered over the table and food was strewn upon its surface. Wrinkling her nose in distaste, she began stacking them up. Last dishes to be washed, she told herself. Last

In her weariness, she bent too far over, and a cup, towering on top of the others, fell to floor. Setting the other ware back on the table, Tellie bent down to pick up the stray mug.

But she froze, for a glimmer caught her eye.

There by the table leg lay a small disk of moonlight itself. Of course! The necklace she had seen fall out of the leader’s cloak. He must have been drunk enough to have missed it. Tellie reached over and caught it up.
Her breath skipped a beat. The cord was as light as spider-web silk. As for the crescent medallion she could not feel it at all. And it was brighter…far brighter than Tellie recalled. No longer grey, the crescent shone like starlight itself.

Tellie’s heart began to thud. This was rare and it was precious. Where it came from and who it belonged to, she did not know. But she was certain it did not belong to those men. What do I do? she wondered. I can’t give it back to them if they’ve stolen it, but I must, because they’ll miss it. Will they be angry? I—I shall have to give it to them in the morning. But if anyone else comes looking for this I’ll point them in the right direction.
Tucking the necklace in her pocket, Tellie grabbed the dishes. She’d worry about it at dawn.

“So. She has found it.”


“Then it will begin at last.”

Author Bio:  Hannah Williams is a homeschooler living in the lush valleys of Oregon. She doesn’t mind the rain because it gives her an excuse to stay inside and write. She lives on a knoll with her parents, big brother, her grammie, and three dogs, five cats, six chickens, two guinea pigs, and one goat. Writing and illustrating epic stories of good and evil are her passions. She is a geek of all things Tolkien and Stengl and hopes to publish her own books with the goal of bringing glory to God. Learn more about her stories and interests at her blog, The Writer's Window.

Friday, January 17, 2014

First Date- Krista McGee

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description:  The last thing Addy Davidson wants is to be on a reality TV show where the prize is a prom date with the President's son.

She's focused on her schoolwork so she can get a scholarship to an Ivy League college, uncomfortable in the spotlight, never been on a date, and didn't even audition for it.

But she got selected anyway.

So she does her best to get eliminated on the very first show. Right before she realizes that the President's son is possibly the most attractive guy she has ever seen in person, surprisingly nice, and seemingly unimpressed by the 99 other girls who are throwing themselves at him.

Addy's totally out of her comfort zone but that may be right where God can show her all that she was meant to be

My Thoughts: First Date was a cute read. When I first started reading it, it reminded me of The Selection by Kiera Cass. But I liked it a whole lot more. The President's son was a lot less stuck up and the conflicts made more sense.

The First Date was meant to be a story of Esther, where Addy must decide whether or not she will claim to be a Christian before all of America or keep her faith a secret. I appreciated the struggle, as it is one that I have dealt with in college with many teachers and classmates being firm atheists. The desire to not create waves is a strong one.

Admittedly, I would have preferred it to have had more danger and other physical conflicts. Bur I liked it for what it was.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Writing Tip- Their There

English has too many words that sound the same, are spelled almost the same, but mean very different things.

Their- There- They're

To- Too- Two

Very- Vary

Passed- Past

Effect- Affect


And we can not always find them in our writing on our own. The reason is that we know what it should say, and so we read it how it should be, not how it is. I suggest having someone who understands the differences read over your work and mark them for you. For example, I had Emily Kopf read my manuscript of Bonded Souls (Thanks Emily!), and she pointed out that I tend to use 'surly' when I meant 'surely'. There is a bit of a difference in their meaning that completely mess with the story.

Actually, it is difficult to get right. We are writing stories!! Many of which have whole new worlds and cultures for us to worry about. There is a lot going on. And we all need to stop being embarrassed about our mistakes. So long as we are willing to fix them.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Samson: A Savior Will Rise- Shawn Hoffman

17762147My Rating: 4 Stars

Description:You are a man who has vowed to protect his family, even at the cost of your own life. So you have no other choice. . . . You must fight, Samson. You must.

 The year is 1941, and Samson Abrams makes a life-or-death decision that lands him, and his entire family, in the notorious concentration camp Auschwitz. When Samson is recognized by Dr. Josef Mengele and Commandant Rudolf Hoss as a former boxing champion, he is ordered box for their entertainment. A win means extra rations, but the penalty for losing is death in the gas chambers.

One question haunts Samson as he and his family face one atrocity after another: Where is God in the face of such evil? An unexpected friendship between the Jewish Samson and the Polish Catholic priest Maximilian Kolbe challenges Samson to examine what little is left of his faith, but will it give him strength when he needs it most?

Based on true stories, "Samson: A Savior Will Rise" blends Shawn Hoffman s thorough research with a compelling narrative that provokes questions about faith, hope, and love.

My Thoughts:  Just... Wow. The research put into this book is amazing. It comes with pictures and footnotes and other information in the back. For a history nerd like me, that just makes this awesome. Add to the historical facts, retold Holocaust stories and Samson from the Bible, and you have a very emotional read. The horrors Samson suffered were atrocious and will haunt me for a while to come.

There were some things that I did not enjoy. Every now and again there was a little bit of head hopping, and at one point Höss refers to Samson by name, even though Höss has not learned his name yet. On the whole though, I enjoyed this story about a man God used to give hope to the Jews.

*The story of Samson is not a true story, though it is drawn from many other true stories. The content is, while not described in detail, graphic and upsetting.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review from Thomas Nelson publishers.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Writing Tip- Time off

We all need time off. From work, from school, and yes, even from writing. I have seen many times where someone has said that we should write everyday, and I have always had an issue with this.

Life is short. Do stuff that matters.Writing it fun, that's why we do it, but it is also difficult and exhausting. It takes a lot of creativity and energy. A lot of time away from other things, like family and friends. So we cannot write every day. Don't get me wrong, I believe that we need to write as often as possible, but we do need breaks. And there is no shame in admitting it.

One day every week, I do not let myself write. Just one, and it can not be a day where I spent most of my time at work. And this day off never reduces the number of words I write.

The reason is that this day off gives me a chance to enjoy life, to experience what I write about. I can watch movies, read books, write blog posts (like I am today), or any other number of things. You can even go to that rarely-seen-by-the-author realm, Outside. And when I come back from that day off, on average, I write nearly twice as much as I usually do.

Remember, there is a reason we take two days off of work and school each week. There is a reason for the day of rest. Because we all need it.

What will you do with your day off?

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Happy Birthday!

That's right, today, Backing Books is a year and a day old. I began book blogging last year on Jan. 4th.

So let's recap this past year.

Backing Books has had over 9,000 page views and gained over 100 followers. There have been 150 posts and over 190 comments left.

Thank you all for joining me this year, and I hope you stick around!!

There is a give away that you may want to enter here.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Clear Your Shelf HOP

clear your shelf january

Thank you to I am a Reader, Not a Writer for this HOP where we all giveaway some books on our shelves that we either do not have room for or will not read again. Today I am giving away two books. Sorry, but they are both US only:

Description: Although Everett Cline can hardly keep up with the demands of his homestead, he won't humiliate himself by looking for a helpmate ever again--not after being jilted by three mail-order brides. When a well-meaning neighbor goes behind his back to bring yet another mail-order bride to town, he has good reason to doubt it will work, especially after getting a glimpse at the woman in question. She's the prettiest woman he's ever seen, and it's just not possible she's there to marry a simple homesteader like him.

Julia Lockwood has never been anything more than a pretty pawn for her father or a business acquisition for her former fiance. Having finally worked up the courage to leave her life in Massachusetts, she's determined to find a place where people will value her for more than her looks. Having run out of all other options, Julia resorts to a mail-order marriage in far-away Kansas.

Everett is skeptical a cultured woman like Julia could be happy in a life on the plains, while Julia, deeply wounded by a past relationship, is skittish at the idea of marriage at all. When, despite their hesitations, they agree to a marriage in name only, neither one is prepared for the feelings that soon arise to complicate their arrangement. Can two people accustomed to keeping their distance let the barricades around their hearts down long enough to fall in love?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Description: It's the turn of the twentieth century and drifter Hugh Brennan is a man well acquainted with betrayal. Hugh finds himself drawn to the attractive widow, Julia, yet when he looks into her eyes, he recognizes the same hurt that haunts him. Julia Grace has little reason to trust men, but she's going to have to trust someone if she's to keep her ranch from the clutches of her dead husband's half-brother. Is it possible God had a hand in bringing Hugh to her door?

The latest historical romance from award-winning author Robin Lee Hatcher and the second book in the Where the Heart Lives series, Betrayal will take you to the high desert of western Wyoming, through the crags of the Rocky Mountains, and into the hearts of two seekers learning to trust God's love no matter the circumstances.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, January 3, 2014

Elusive Hope- MaryLu Tyndall

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description: In a colony named New Hope, while their friends are seeking a southern utopia...

Hayden is seeking revenge. Relentlessly.

After years of all but selling his soul to track down his scoundrel of a father, Hayden Gale discovers his search must continue in South America, where his father is reported to be helping colonize Brazil. Hayden has nothing more to lose, certainly not a good reputation, and vows to keep pursuing--at any cost--the vile man who he believes killed his mother.

Magnolia is seeking a way out. Desperately.

She's in the jungles of Brazil against her will, but what choice does Magnolia Scott have? Her father insisted on uprooting their family to escape the uncertainty of Southern life after the Civil War. But how will she survive without all she holds dear--wealthy suitors, beautiful clothes, summer balls, and slaves waiting on her every whim? She vows to find a way to get back home--and attaches herself to handsome Hayden Gale.

As they journey toward Rio de Janeiro, they each seek to use the other for their own purposes. Deceptively. Falling in love was never part of their plans....

My Thoughts: Amazingly, I have never read a novel set in the jungle before. I wish that I had. All of the flora and fauna made for a unique setting. I also enjoyed the supernatural elements, which have not played much into any of MaryLu's other series. I can't wait to see how that continues to unfold in the next book. The only thing I would have changed would have been to have the supernatural take more of a part in Hayden and Magnolia's story.

And speaking of their story, might I just say that it was rife with tension. There was bickering, attraction, and betrayal. What made it all the more interesting was that their fatal flaws were the other's most loathed vice. Hayden uses people, Magnolia has been used all her life and is tired of it. Magnolia lies to get what she wants, Hayden hates being lied to because it reminds him of his own faults. The conflict kept me enthralled and I could not put it down until I knew the end.

I received this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.