Thursday, May 17, 2018

A Few of My Favorite Things

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My family likes to play a game called "Thankful", in which each of us takes a turn naming something we're thankful God has given us.  
Often, the tendency is to say something quite serious, such as "I'm thankful for shelter and warmth," or "I'm thankful for the nice clothes that we have".
Now, these things are WONDERFUL things to be thankful for, of course, along with God's Love, Religious Freedom, Food, and other vital things.  
But when playing the game, I also find myself thinking of the little things.  Inconsequential stuff that might seem trivial, but in my opinion, it's really amazing that God has seen fit to bless us with these small details that enrich our lives.  Things like birdsong, or cool mornings, or a happy ending in that book series I just read.  

Here in this post, I want to list some of the things I'm thankful for, both big and little.  In addition to giving us His great gifts, like Salvation, Providence, Peace, and Protection, God has seen fit to give us gifts that make life all the sweeter.   :)

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Our World

Image result for beautiful mountains public domain images

Did God need to give us a pretty world to live in?   No.  And yet He not only created the earth to be functional, but wondrously and breathtakingly beautiful!

Music

There are few things that can touch the human heart as universally as music.  Not everyone likes the same style, but somehow, this phenomenon reaches every corner of the world as a sort of natural language.  God gave us the ability to create incredible sounds, and the intelligence to put them together into a comprehensive work.  That's pretty amazing.

Imagination


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Life would be so dull at times without imagination.  It brightens up my day and adds a sense of wonder into the most ordinary or difficult circumstances.

The Ability to Produce Calluses

This one occurred to me as I was raking the lawn this spring.  Without the ability to produce calluses, my hands would have been so blistered afterward, it would have been difficult to do much of anything for a few days.  How fortunate we are that God decided to give us the ability to get that extra layer of protection!

Heaters

Speaking of protection, I am so thankful that we have heaters nowadays, to protect us from the cold winters!  Same goes for air conditioning in the summer, or for anyone who lives in a hot climate.  Not everyone has these luxuries, I know, so I'm very thankful to have these things available. 

Movies

What a cool way to tell a story!  The concept of a film is really an odd one, when you think abut it.  We're able to record people doing something, then play it back with color and audio on a screen that somehow represents both depth and dimension despite representing the picture at only a fraction of its original size?  It's like... it's like magic, or something.  I mean, I know it's all very scientific and everything, but honestly, the fact that this even works is amazing. 
Also, so fun, right?  I love to curl up in the evening and watch a good movie or a tv show, just to relax at the end of the day.  ^_^

Coffee

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Hot cocoa is for the afternoons or the evening, but coffee and its somewhat harsh flavor and feel is definitely for the morning.  I don't depend on it to start my day, as some people do, but for me, coffee is the perfect pick-me-up in the morning to last me through the workday until lunchtime.

Conditioner

I don't know about you, but my hair without conditioner is so full of static!  I don't think I would ever wear my hair loose if I didn't have conditioner.

Soap

And for that matter, soap!  Scrubbing off dirt from the garden or barn is such a chore without it, but when you've got it, it just slicks everything away.  A luxury I don't often pause to consider, to be sure.


Electricity

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Electricity makes so much of our modern lives possible.  And while some technology has some pretty big downsides, I am so glad I live now with the conveniences humanity has invented.  Heating, cooling, access to internet (read, 'information'), power tools.... life is so much easier than it could be.

My Car

It's been about three years now since I got my first car, and still when I drive it I find myself getting a little giddy now and then over the fact that I have a car that both works and looks nice.  Thank you, God!

My Parents

My parents are awesome, guys.  They understand me like no one else does- and I enjoy being with them not just because I love them, but because I like them.  They are my mentors, my friends, my role-models, and my heroes.  But most of all... my parents.

My Siblings

My siblings are my bestest friends in the whole world.  Need I say more?  XD

Home

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I wish where I lived had more hills, and more trees.  But at the same time... I don't.  I love this place!  Though it's flat and probably quite boring to most people, my little corner of North Dakota is beautiful to me, and I love being here.  I go for long walks, ranging over the fields and country roads, and I'm so thankful that I can call this place home.  There are no bugs or snakes or other animals that are an active threat, there's plenty of space and privacy, the land is green and fruitful... and I'm thankful for it every time I go out. 

Time

I'm really thankful for the time that I have to just... be.  I can spend time with my family and friends, I can write my books, and work and save money without having to be a slave to my job.   This is something that not everyone gets to experience, so I'm very thankful for it while it lasts.  And if life changes and I suddenly find myself with less time, then I'll still be thankful for it.  Because whatever the case, the time we have on earth is still a gift, and we ought to use it and thank the Lord for it every day.   I pray God will help me take advantage of my life to the best of my ability, for His glory. 


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What are you thankful for?  Let me know in the comments, or do your own "Thankful" post!  I'd love to hear what gifts God has given you.  :)


-Emmarayn Redding





(DISCLAIMER:  I own none of the images in this post.  All were found under 'public domain images' through a Google search.)

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Beautiful Music: Ghosts

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Welcome!  For this month's Beautiful Music I have selected Thomas Newman's Ghosts, from the Road to Perdition soundtrack.

This piece is slow, haunting, and ethereal, inspiring images of mist and water, and perhaps even a little danger. 

The mystery implied by the low-end frequencies, coupled with the deep beauty of the mid-range strings, seems to offer both questions and answers to the listener's ear.  



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-Emmarayn Redding


(DISCLAIMER:  No copyright infringement intended.  Music is used here for review purposes only.)



Thursday, April 19, 2018

Novelist's Tag

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Hey, all you writers out there!  Here's a fun little tag I wrote.  If you're a novelist, or aspiring to be one, feel free to join in on the fun!

I'm gonna start it off here, then tag four people.  Those four people, if they answer the tag, can then pass it on to however many fellow bloggers they want.

So!  Let's get started.  :D  




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Why do you like to write?

I love telling stories, both to others and to myself.  Often enough I do this verbally, but I think the best way to convey a story is through text, and the beauty of word-craft.

When did you first start writing?

I don't quite remember... for a long time, anyway.  I used to write short "novels" in spiral-bound notebooks.  The first one I ever completed was called Patty Anderson and the Case of the Stolen Pocket Watch.  It was about six pages long, with an illustration for each chapter.  I believe I was in third grade when I wrote it.

Have you ever written in a coffee shop?

Yes!  Only started doing it just recently, when I found a coffee shop I love  called the Ember.  I find I rather like it, and plan to start doing it regularly if I can.

What is your current project, or do you have more than one?

I'm currently focusing most of my energies on Rise of Ralienah, an epic, four-part medieval fantasy novel that exists in the same continuity as my first novel, Quest for the Ivory Sword.  But I also have two other novels going on the back burner:  Spellbreaker, a fairy-tale inspired story of an 'ugly' stepsister who takes fate into her own hands, and Day&Night, the first in what is to become a saga of superhero novels.  I've also started plotting out a science fiction novel with the intention of someday releasing it as a newspaper serial, if I'm lucky.

In which genre do you usually write?

So far, usually fantasy.  But I also enjoy doing contemporary and light sci-fi.  

If you have more than one project right now, which one do you favor?

Rise of Ralienah, definitely.  I'm fond of them all, but RoR is the one I've been working on the longest, and it has particular sentimental value.  I'm extremely motivated to finish it.  

Who is the protagonist of your main project?

Well, Ralienah, for one.  She's the central character, though she shares the spotlight with one or two deuteragonists.  Ralienah is the daughter of a nobleman of Kalavar, who loses both her father and mother at a young age.  With little to look forward to in her own country, she travels to Talminia, her father's homeland, looking for answers about his death.  Once there, she is moved by the plight of the Talminian slaves, and takes up with a band of outlaws to begin a revolution.

Other main characters include Eotel, the leader of the outlaws (and Ralienah's love interest), Sapphire, her twin sister, and Rune, a mercenary tasked with hunting down the revolutionary leaders.

Who is the antagonist?

Lord Istarr, a cruel but admired noble who currently dominates Talminia.  As the head of a broken society, he represents the worst of their tyrannical system.  The revolution threatens his entire way of life... but unbeknownst to his followers, his conflict with Ralienah is also quite personal...

Have a short (300 words or less) excerpt you'd like to share with us?  Or are you saving it until it's released?

The book is still in its early stages, but I'll share a tiny piece here.  :D

'  Heaving a long, steady breath, Eotel dragged a finger across his lips in thought.  "All I know is that I would give anything to see freedom restored to this land, once and for all," he said slowly.  "And I believe that time will come... someday."
At the sound of someone calling his name, his head turned and he got up, patting Galeo's shoulder as he left.  Licking his lips, Galeo looked at Ralienah, who smiled in response.
"Do you really think that time could be now?" he practically whispered. 
Something flickered in her expression as she considered.  Tilting one shoulder, she rolled her head toward the bonfire, blinking in its flickering light.  "Time is just the passing of days, Galeo.  The question is, how much time are we willing to let slip by while your- our people- are made to suffer?" '

What inspired this particular story?

To tell the truth, it's been so long I don't even remember.  Robin Hood legends played a part, I know that much.  In fact, in the very first draft, Eotel was named Robin.  Obviously that had to change...
There were a few concert band songs I listened to as a kid that played an influential part in shaping the tone of the story.  One of them, On the Wings of Swallows, inspired an entire battle sequence that has for the most part made it through the subsequent drafts.  

Are any of your characters inspired by real people?

Sometimes, but not for this book.  The sci-fi novel (Something is Coming) I'm in the middle of plotting has a few characters based on people I've known.  This is mostly with the intent of making them seem natural, as if you might know them in your own hometown.  

Do you have a musical playlist for any of your novels?

Often enough, yes.  Though I've never actually gone through the trouble of putting an official one together, most of my books have several songs or tunes associated with them.  Synth, another upcoming sci-fi novel, already has several attached to it, and I haven't even started writing yet.
Rise of Ralienah has some concert band songs, The Burning Bush from the Prince of Egypt soundtrack, and Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis.

Write what you know, or write what you imagine?

Write what I imagine, definitely.  With a little bit of what I know mixed in so that it feels real.

What makes your story (or stories) unique?

I'm not really sure yet.  There are some themes and character types I find myself weaving in fairly often, but as far as what makes my writing unique, I don't know.  If it had to be one thing, I would hope it would be character development.  One thing I love in stories is the way that characters evolve over time, or conversely, how they stay the same through whatever troubles the plot throws at them.

Would you say you write for yourself, or other people?

A mixture of both, really.  I get story ideas based on what I want to read, but I write them for others to someday read and enjoy.  I want to evoke feelings in readers, to draw them in and keep them there, as so many great stories have done for me.

What do you intend to do with your writing?

Publish them, for as long as I can.  I have so many ideas, that as long as I'm able to do it financially, I can see myself publishing books for the rest of my life.  If I could become a reasonably successful author, with books read across the country, that would be my dream.  But for the most part, just writing and having a few people read the books is fulfillment in itself.  

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I now tag...

Leilani Sunblade
Hannah Williams
J.M. Christian
Braden Russell




And here are the questions again,  to copy and paste  Have fun, you guys!  I look forward to seeing your answers!

Why do you like to write?

When did you first start writing?

Have you ever written in a coffee shop?

What is your current project, or do you have more than one?

In which genre do you usually write?

If you have more than one project right now, which one do you favor?

Who is the protagonist of your main project?

Who is the antagonist?

Have a short (300 words or less) excerpt you'd like to share with us?  Or are you saving it until it's released?

What inspired this particular story?

Are any of your characters inspired by real people?

Do you have a musical playlist for any of your novels?

Write what you know, or write what you imagine?

What makes your story (or stories) unique?

Would you say you write for yourself, or other people?



What do you intend to do with your writing?




Monday, April 16, 2018

Ode to a Dead Fish


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Staring, silent,

thoughtfully,

through finger-printed glass,

Ancient Fishy watched as all

the visitors would pass

What he thought we

cannot say,

for that he never said

We shall miss him just the same

Alas!  For he is dead


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In fond memory of Cedric, beloved hotel fish and often my sole companion during those solitary off-season shifts...


Thursday, April 5, 2018

Top Ten Animated Movies of My Childhood

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The following is a list of the top ten animated movies I loved as a kid.  I picked them based on both how much I enjoyed them, and how much they influenced me as a grew up.  So, without further ado, let's get to the list!  :D


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Number 10:
The Swan Princess

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An adaptation of Swan Lake by Warner Bros., the animated fairy tale really went for the Disney-feel.  Though perhaps not a memorable as the mainstream Disney movies, I really enjoyed this as a kid.  I enjoyed the parts with Prince Derek and his quest more than I did the parts with Odette- but her designs in the montage song during their childhood gave me inspiration for a few characters later on in life.


Number 9:
Fievel Goes West

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I never knew this was a sequel until I was much older, but as a young kid I loved this movie!  And, since my dad recorded the audio onto a cassette tape for me to listen to at night, this is one where even now, when I watch it, I know just about every sound before it comes.  Fievel Goes West continues the tale of Fivol, a brave and enthusiastic little Russian mouse whose family emigrates to America.

Number 8:
The Secret of NIMH

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I didn't see this one until I was a little older, but I think I was still in my early teens when I did.  Definitely still young enough to get a little bit of a crush on the character Justin.
Based loosely on the book Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, the movie tells the story of Mrs. Brisby, a mouse and a recently widowed mother of three, and her quest to save her ailing youngest son.  Desperate to move her house before it is tilled up in the spring, she goes to the mysterious Rats of NIMH for help, and finds herself in an even deeper struggle than she realized.

Number 7:
Robin Hood



Image result for Disney's Robin Hood

Yet another movie where I had a crush on one of the central characters, Disney's Robin Hood remains one of my favorite adaptations of the Robin Hood legend to this day.  

Number 6:
Beauty and the Beast

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Of all the Disney princesses, Belle (with her bookishness and long brown hair) was the one I really identified with as a kid.  Well, her and Pocahontas, but my parents had mixed feelings about having Pocahontas in the house, so although I saw it once when I was little, I didn't really become familiar with it until later.  But Beauty and the Beast was one I immensely enjoyed, and certain parts really influenced my writing and story ideas.  In particular, the scene where Belle defends herself from the wolves with a stick in the snowy wood is probably what first got me thinking about the story of a female swordmaiden, which would later become the plot of Quest for the Ivory Sword. 

(Ha!   If only I'd seen this movie when I was younger... the fun I could have had pretending to be Kayley!)

Number 5:
The Great Mouse Detective

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Before I discovered my love for Sherlock Holmes, there was this- the mouse version of the Greatest Detective.  (If your noticing a theme here of movies featuring mice as main characters... so am I.  Where did we get all of these?  Geez!)
Although it's never been the most popular of the Disney movies, (and probably for good reason) I still love this movie.  Basil, the main character, along with his relationship with his archnemesis Ratigan, is what makes it work. 

Number 4:
Peter Pan


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I can't think of any lasting reason why this one should be in my Top 10, other than it was just a tremendously fun movie to watch as a kid.  (Okay, fine, and I had a crush on Peter Pan.)  The brilliant colors, the thrilling adventure, the happy ending, all makes for a great kid's film.  And Captain Hook and his hilarious- and disastrous- encounters with the Crocodile still get me laughing almost hysterically sometimes.

Number 3:
The Fox and the Hound

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This movie is probably the reason my favorite animal has always been a red fox.  Todd, a young fox adopted by a lonely farm woman, makes an unexpected friend out of a hound puppy named Copper.  Their friendship is put to the test when they reach adulthood, especially when Copper's master vows revenge on Todd, no matter what the cost. 
Apparently this is based (very loosely) on a book, which I now want to read as soon as I find a copy.

Number 2:
The Prince of Egypt

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Not only one of my favorite animated films to this day, but also one of the most beautifully animated films ever in my opinion, this film take second place on my list for only one reason- the nostalgic sentiment attached to Number 1. 
A surprisingly respectful adaptation of the Exodus story, The Prince of Egypt has its flaws, but is overall a great movie.  In particular, I love the burning bush scene and the parting of the Red Sea.  The music is awesome, and the songs are great fun to sing.  I re-watch this one fairly often now that it's on Netflix, and I really should get a DVD copy.

And now, before we get to Number 1, here are some
Honorable Mentions:

Willie the Sparrow

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Thumbelina

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The Little Mermaid


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Number 1:
The Land Before Time


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This movie has a dark grit to it that we will probably never see in a kid's movie again.  But for all that, this story of a group of young dinosaurs and their perilous journey to reunite with their families touched me from an early age and has remained my favorite animated movie even in my adult years.  And yes, I did have a crush on Little Foot, the main character, but that wasn't exactly what stayed with me.  The beautiful animation, for one, is hard to forget.   And somehow the movie managed to cover several of the stages of grief without bogging itself down too much.  The characters' friendships with one another are really fun to see, and when they overcome the odds, it's so satisfying.  Little Foot's complicated relationship with Cera reminded me a lot of a... sort-of friendship I had with another girl when I was probably between six and eight.  They way that they get kid's dynamics with each other so accurate is impressive to me. 

Anyway, this one goes down as one of my favorite moves EVER, animated or not.  I've never seen most of the sequels, because I can't imagine they're nearly as good.  Or at least not in the same way the original is good.  But this is one I'll introduce to my kids someday for sure!

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And there you have it, my top ten favorite animated movies from my childhood.  I hope you enjoyed the list!  What are some of your favorite animated movies?  Let me know in the comments.  Have a great day!

-Emmarayn Redding