Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Cruising, Part 1

My grandma recently took my dad's side of the family on a seven day cruise to Alaska. My cousin and I, as the youngest grandchildren, were allowed to come, too. We had a blast!
The fun started before we even boarded the boat. Our boat left from Vancouver, BC, and the very building where we had to check in was also home to an anime conference that day! I don't know too much about anime so I didn't recognize a lot of the costumes, but I did spot a few familiar faces.


A fabulous Jack Skellington (from the movie Nightmare Before Christmas) and the black blob-creature from the movie Spirited Away. I also saw the Tenth Doctor, and I saw The Joker and The Riddler having a fight (with Jesus in the audience, go figure).

As we left Vancouver, we sailed passed Stanley Park. It was beautiful.

Vancouver's skyline and a corner of Stanley Park
We sailed with Holland America lines (what else would you expect from a family of Dutchmen [and women]?). Our boat was called the "Noordam," which, coincidently, is the same name of the boat that carried some of my ancestors on my maternal side from Holland to America over a hundred years ago!

There were three staircases on the boat and on each landing there was a picture or a piece of art. This painting depicts the Noordam that my ancestors sailed on to come to America in the early 1900s!
Our Noordam looked very different.

Our boat, along with one of the tender boats that brought us ashore to Juneau, Alaska.
All of Holland America's boats are registered in Holland; our boat had a Dutch captain and several Dutch officers. It was nice to hear the familiar Dutch brogue over the loudspeakers each morning, even if it was only to tell us the weather and our current position in the water. It was also cool to see all the Dutch touches... Dutch flags, pictures and busts of Dutch royalty, Dutch tea in the afternoon, Dutch breakfasts on the menu, and Dutch pea soup the day we visited Glacier Bay. Perhaps the best Dutch touch were the servers in the formal dining room singing "Lang Zal Ze Leven," the Dutch birthday song, every night to those who had birthdays. It was especially funny because all of the servers were most definitely not Dutch, but of all different ethnicities.

Our boat stopped in three places: Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan. We also sailed into Glacier Bay and spent the day admiring God's fabulous creation. At each stop, we had the opportunity to go on excursions, though most of us did not. Instead, we walked around the towns. It's amazing how many jewelry stores there are in the cities that cruise boats stop at! At least every other store sells jewelry.
In Juneau, I walked with several uncles and aunts and my cousin around the town. We found a Starbucks, which was a like coming home for me since there is a Starbucks on nearly every corner where I live. We also went to two bookstores.

In Skagway, my grandma, aunt, uncle, cousin, and I took the train up to White Pass. By far, this was my favorite part of the trip. I LOVE trains. They are my favorite mode of travel. This train took us up into the Alaskan mountains. It was stunning.


If you noticed the thin trail snaking through the left side of the picture, that is the trail that men seeking their fortune in the gold rush rode to get wherever they were going.



I spent most of my time outside the train car on a little platform, snapping pictures.

There were supposed to be three cruise ships docking in Skagway, but we were the only ones that made it into the bay, because of stormy seas. The store owners were expecting over 10,000 tourists, but ended up with only our meager 1,800.
The night we left Skagway, the wind was blowing harder than my mother (who grew up in the plains of Minnesota) had ever felt it before. Two tug boats escorted us outside the bay, just in case we needed help. Thankfully, we made it to Ketchikan with no mishaps.
Once there, we walked around town again. Most people go to jewelry stores or clothing stores or trinket stores when they go to Alaska. We went to the thrift store. We also walked around Creek Street. It is aptly named, seeing that there is a river instead of a road in the middle of the street. We happened to be in Alaska during salmon spawning time, so the lovely aroma of dead mother salmon followed us around Creek Street.
I loved seeing all of the different t-shirts Alaska had to offer:

Na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na Batmoose!

I have to admit, this one is my favorite. It makes me chuckle.

May the forest be with you

There were four other cruise ships docked in Ketchikan with us, including our sister ship, the Westerdam.

Next time... learn about our trip to Glacier Bay, and the other activities we enjoyed on board the Noordam!

Live long and prosper.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Yorian's Hand Cover Reveal

My friend Jenelle Leanne Schmidt (whose name I love to type. Anyone who can pull off three names deserves a prize. I am not one of those people. If I were to type my three names, it would take up so much room that this blog post would be over already) is coming out with a book! This is the third installment in her lovely fantasy series (I reviewed the first two books here).

Jenelle Schmidt grew up in the northern-midwest. She now resides with her husband and their three adorable children in North Carolina where the summers are too hot and there is never enough snow. Jenelle fell in love with reading at a young age during family storytimes. To this day she enjoys creating exciting adventure tales filled with poignant themes and compelling characters in the fantasy and sci-fi genres.
You can find her website here:

Book Description:

The years of Oraeyn’s short rule have been peaceful, but now ominous nightmares plague his sleep and cling to him during his waking hours. When two of his most trusted advisors disappear without a trace and not even the power of dragons can locate them, the fell promise of the king’s nightmares becomes reality.

From the furthest reaches of the world, an ancient enemy stirs. Stretching beyond his crumbling prison walls, this foe seeks to bring life to the darkest of shadows. His army marches towards Aom-igh with deadly intent, threatening all Oraeyn holds dear.

Aided by dragons, and with the warrior Brant and Princess Kamarie at his side, Oraeyn must journey into the wilds of a forgotten realm. Trusting in the wisdom and skill of the enigmatic minstrel, Kiernan Kane, the companions race against time in search of Yorien’s Hand, a relic that may hold the power to save them all.

While I loved learning more about Brant's childhood in Second Son, I can't wait to find out what has happened to Oraeyn and Kamarie and all of the other characters from King's Warrior!

And now, the cover:

This series has some of the most beautiful fantasy covers that I've ever seen. I can't wait to read it!

Live long and prosper

Sunday, September 13, 2015


I got a job.
I am now an employed woman.
My job is monitoring a business park for trash and then picking it up and throwing it away. At least, that is what I will be doing for the first few weeks. My boss is the head of his own janitorial company so he gets odd jobs all the time. My boss also goes to my church, which made the whole job-getting process a little easier because I've known him for years and years. The guy who has been training me also goes to my church, which also makes learning the job a little less stressful.
Did I mention that I get to drive a golf cart on this job?
And yet, I still face fears and anxieties. It's hard to realize that you aren't as self-confident as you believed yourself to be. Isn't it strange that I feel totally comfortable going up in front of a hundred people to sing musical theater, but being paid to pick up trash in a golf cart makes me so anxious I can't sleep?
I know I haven't been around my blog much this year. It will probably continue that way as I try to figure out life. Working, anxiety, relationships with friends and with God, my writing, my music, being an adult, and other things that I'm probably forgetting. I might post about it if you're interested.

One thing I want to mention... I am planning on having my Super Secret Fantasy Novel (which I have been hinting-at on this blog for about a year-and-a-half) rewritten by the end of the year. I am looking for several people to read it in the New Year and to express their opinions on plot, characters, and world-building. I guess it kind of goes back to that self-confidence thing. I know my writing is good, but I have no clue if other people will like it or not. I want to know if my story is good enough to share with the world, or if I should lock it in a chest and bury it under my house, only to be taken out when I want to peer, Gollum-like, at it (my precioussss). If anyone is interesting in reading the rough draft of the story sometime in January or February of 2016, leave me a comment or send me an email* expressing your interest. If you want to learn more about the book, you can read THIS blog post. A number of things have changed since I wrote that post, but for the most part it remains accurate.

Are new, exciting-yet-frightening things happening in your lives? Tell me about them!

Live long and prosper.

*Those of you with my personal address can email me there; otherwise, you can reach me at, which I check about once every two months. Haha, if you email me there, let me know in the comments.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Water Princess, Fire Prince release party – Interview with Lord Abraham.

Lord Abraham is one of the characters from Water Princess, Fire Prince, my friend Kendra E. Ardnek's new book. I had the pleasure of interviewing him:

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself, Lord Abraham! What do you lord over?

I am the Lord of Lower Klarand. Klarand is the largest island in Rizkaland, and I hold sway over about a quarter of it.

2. Your son Karlos is a fairly prominent character in the book. Can you tell us a little bit about the rest of your family? Your wife? Do you have any other children?

My first wife, Hannah, Karlos's mother, died when he was just a baby. I was tied to her younger sister, Winona, shortly thereafter so that Lower Klarand might have a Lady, since my father died shortly after. We now have a daughter named Iska.

3. You pulled the Fire Prince out of the Firefall. What was going though you head as you did so? Did you think he looked and acted as a Fire Prince should, or did you have some doubts?

It happened rather quickly, so I really didn't have time to think. The boy just shot out of RiFi, and so I automatically caught him and pulled him to the bank.

I'll admit that he didn't fit our preconceived image of the Fire Prince, and he seemed less than willing to do what was asked of him. I had my doubts at moments, but I could see that he was a young man with his head on his shoulder. I hardly blamed him for not loving this world when he'd only just came here, especially when he was ripped unexpectedly from his own.

5. What did you think of the Water Princess when you first met her?

Truth be told, I realized who she was the moment I met her. The way she carried herself, as though she was taller than she was, as though she expected the world to fall to her bidding as a matter of course, and yet no malice in her. The otherworldly sparkle to her eye.

"Here's the girl who will lead us against the Dragon," I thought. "And I pity the Dragon."

6. What is your favorite thing to do when you have some time off?

To be honest, I get very little actual time off, but when I do, I prefer to use it in study or in nature, or in teaching my son the power and wonder of Alphego.

7. Klarand and nearby Rizkaland are very colorful places. What is your favorite color?

A rich dark blue, the color of the sky just before the stars come out.

Thanks for the interview, Lord Abraham!  

Book Description:
When the Lady Dragon does come,
Hold fast, do not fear, do not run.
Your Water Princess will fight,
Fire Prince will set all to right.
Each shall come from a Fall,
Their union will save you all.

Despite the fact that she's on track for competing in the Olympics, and he's practically raised his younger brothers since they lost their mom in a car accident, Clara Mandras and Andrew Stevenson are pretty much normal teens. They have normal hopes, normal dreams, and they live in a normal world.
All this is torn away from them when they are thrust into another world and declared Water Princess and Fire Prince. With no experience ruling a country, meeting each other for the first time, and being expected to fight the Lady Dragon – an evil sorceress plaguing the world of Rizkaland – Clara and Andrew are underprepared and inexperienced. Unless they learn to work together despite their standing opposition, Rizkaland's hope will be lost.

What is to come will change their lives forever.

Author Bio:
Kendra E. Ardnek loves fairy tales and twisting them in new and exciting ways.  She's been practicing her skills on her dozen plus cousins and siblings for years, "Finish your story, Kendra", is frequently heard at family gatherings.  Her sole life goal has always been to grow up and be an author of fantasy and children's tales that also glorify God and his Word. You can read more about her on her blog,

Free Books!
Do You Take This Quest?
31st ONLY:
My Kingdom for a Quest:
1st – 5th:
Saffron’s Big Plan:

Live long and prosper!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Water Princess, Fire Prince release party – Book Review

Title: Water Princess, Fire Prince

Author: Kendra E. Ardnek

Summary: Clara looks forward to being in the Olympics someday as she practices sports. Andrew looks back to the day his mother died as he takes care of his younger siblings. They've never met, but their lives are about to become intertwined forever as they both fall into the world of Rizkaland and learn of their places in the ancient prophecy foretelling the Lady Dragon's demise at their hands. Clara and Andrew must learn the customs of Rizkaland, must learn to fight the Lady Dragon, and must learn how to work together for this Narnia-esque tale to end happily.

My rating: 9/10 stars.

Plot: Most often, it is the tales with the simplest plots that gain the most recognition and love, because the themes are universal and always applicable. Just look at The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Harry Potter. At the core, these stories are the same. The different characters and settings are what set these masterpieces apart. So it is with Water Princess, Fire Prince.
At its core, Water Princess, Fire Prince is the basic quest-to-defeat-the-villain plot with a Beatrice-Benedick romance* on the side. Along the way, the characters face adventure and difficulties.
While reading the first two parts of the book, which introduce the reader to Clara and Andrew separately, I couldn't wait to get to the third so that I could see Clara and Andrew interact with each other! That was my favorite bit. I loved their journey through the Mountain to get to the Kastle. Each part serves its purpose wonderfully and sets the reader up for the climax.
Even though the quest plot may be one I've read (and written) before, Kendra E. Ardnek gives it her own unique twist. Readers will be surprised by various plot twists near the end.

*For you non-Shakespeareans out there, a Beatrice-Benedick romance is where the two lovers start out at odds with one another. Seemingly, they will forever be encapsulated in strife... until they stop having fall outs and fall in love instead.

Characters: While Andrew is likable right away, Clara is a bit on the brash side. She knows who she is, she knows what she wants, and she is ready to go after it. Having her plans interrupted by an unexpected trip (or, should I say, swim?) to Rizkaland throws her for a bit of a loop, so it is no wonder that she isn't the most pleasant character at the beginning. I wouldn't be either, if I were suddenly transported to another world and told that I was supposed to save it from a Dragon. Clara, however, grows as the book progresses. She learns some important lessons and is the better for it. Clara feels real because of her faults and how she grows from them.
Andrew, as I said, is likable from the start. He learns and grows throughout the book, too. He is instrumental to the change in Clara, and he learns a few things from her as well.
The supporting cast are wonderful as well. Water Princess, Fire Prince boasts a large group of characters, but the author has given them each their own sparkling personality. I could tell that each character had a past and life beyond that which was portrayed in the text.

World: Worldbuilding is where Kendra E. Ardnek shines above all else. Rizkaland, like the worlds in her previous books, is a highly developed society with its own set of rules, land masses, peoples, creatures, and colors. In Water Princess, Fire Prince most of the reader's time is spent on one of Rizkaland's islands: Klarand. It is fun to explore the physics of Rizkaland with Andrew, who is the son of a scientist and, therefore, interested in that sort of thing.
If you are a visual learner and can't envision what a cylindrical world looks like, I highly encourage you to watch this video and read the accompanying blog post:
Water Princess, Fire Prince is Kendra E. Ardnek's best book yet, and I recommend it! Fans of the Narnia series by C.S. Lewis, allegorical fiction, and light fantasy will especially find this book to their taste.

Live long and prosper!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

"I can make it longer if you like the style, I can change it 'round, and I want to be a paperback writer..."

And I thought rewriting would be fun... Ha. I've entered one of those my-story-is-terrible-why-am-I-doing-this stages and the only way I know to combat those is to keep pushing through, even if I think everything I'm writing is dull and boring and completely lacking in the character development department.
I think I found a way to make things a tiny bit better, though. Too many things were happening over too many chapters. It was bogging down the story. I kept wondering when these scenes would end, and when the plot would advance. So, as much as I hated doing it—because it messed up my entire outline—I combined several chapters into one and moved one entire chapter to later in the book, where I think it fits better. Now, my novel is two chapters shorter. When your book is 65 chapters to begin with, cutting out two chapters is probably a good thing.
Still, it's taking me about two hours on average to rewrite one chapter. It doesn't help that I'm having a bear of a time concentrating. The Internet keeps distracting me (and, yes, it is grammatically correct to capitalize "Internet"). Namely, comic con panels keep distracting me. The best one, by far, was the Muppets panel where the Muppets ACTUALLY JOINED IN ON THE PANEL! Their performers were right there, too, and you could see them Muppeteering their Muppets, but all you could see was the Muppet talking. It was as if the performer wasn't even there.
The Muppets constantly break forth wall; a movie or show can hardly go by without them mentioning that they are in a movie or TV show. But I have never seen the Muppets break their puppet forth wall. There were so many puppet puns flying around. It was surreal. And Steve Whitmire (Kermit's performer) is a little troublemaker. Half the panel is his snarky comments. It's hilarious.

Well, I should probably get back to rewriting... and tearing my hair out.

Live long and prosper.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Water Princess, Fire Prince release party – The Sequel's Title

With the release of Kendra E. Ardnek's newest book, Water Princess, Fire Prince, she is already thinking ahead to its sequel. Today, I have the pleasure of releasing the title of Book 2, and its summary!

Without further ado...

Lady Dragon,
Tela Du
Two girls with one face
Two girls with twisted fate
One in purple, one in red
One shall speak the other’s death
Who shall win their final war?
Lady Dragon or Tela Du?
Amber, the Lady Dragon, has been promised fifty years ruling over Rizkaland, and it is time for her to claim it. Only one person stands in her way of ruling forever – the Tela Du, the girl who shall share her face.
The last thing Petra wants is to have to fight and kill the Lady Dragon. What she wants is to have a normal life, and to prove that she isn’t insane for remembering sisters that no one else can. Rizkaland has other ideas.

The Story Behind this Book (from Kendra):
Nearly ten years ago now, the first of the new Narnia movies released, and I got to see it in Theaters – actually, the last movie we got to see as a family. A friend of ours had also seen the movie, and had been converted to the Narnia fandom, and so as we were chatting about it, one of us had a brilliant idea – why don’t we make our own Narnia movie? We all loved acting, so it seemed like the most natural thing in the world.

As the eldest of that threesome, and the most adamant about the plot, I took on the responsibility of writing the script, then titled “The Giraffe, The Witch, and the Tunnel Tube.” At first it resembled Narnia fairly closely, the changes we made were for casting or prop reasons – we didn’t have a lion costume, we did have giraffe. We didn’t have a wardrobe, we did have a tunnel.

After several fits and starts, my mother told me that I needed to put it away and rehash it so it resembled Narnia less, perhaps make it summer instead of winter, a dragon instead of a witch. So, I followed her advice and managed to turn out my first finished work of any great length. It was quickly followed by a second draft, after I decided that I wanted to make some changes to the ending. A third draft quickly followed when I decided I wanted love interests.

As I finished this third script, I realized that it was far too complicated a story for me to hope to perform at that time. And since it had changed so radically from Narnia by that point, I decided to take the plunge back into novel writing. Shortly before NaNo of ’10, I finished this draft at twenty thousand words, and was terribly proud of myself – though I knew it needed work. However, I now had other story ideas on my plate that were demanding my attention – Bookania and the Ankulen – and I knew I needed to write and publish Water Princess, Fire Prince first.

So I set aside again. Oh I worked on it, here and there and in snippets – one or two scenes especially – but for the most part, it largely sat at the back of my mind festering and boiling.

It’s changed a lot since I started writing it, and this draft that I’m writing now has changed even more. It’s a powerful story that has come with me through some of my darkest years. I’m so thrilled to finally be at the verge of sharing it.

Sneak Peak:

At last Amber came to the men working this farm, a father and his two sons, she guessed, of human stock. They’d suit her purposes just fine.
“Oh, good gentlemen!” she cried, filling her voice with pathos. “I’m so glad to have found you. Do these fields never end?”
The father straightened and regarded Amber critically. “Well,” he said, after several long moments, “I reckon I can say that there are days I wonder the same, though with this drought, they aren’t nearly enough. Who may you be, Miss? It isn’t often we see strangers around here, especially not ones dressed as fine as you.”
“Nor as pretty,” one of the sons commented.
Amber shot the boy an imperious glance. “I am married.” She’d already noticed the way they’d been staring at her while trying to look like they weren’t. She turned her attention back to the father. “I have traveled rather far from home, I fear,” she admitted. “Where I come from, there aren’t nearly as many colors, and the rim of this world curls away from me strangely.”
It took the man several seconds to process Amber’s speech. At length, he asked, “Did the Doorkeeper bring you to us?”
This question took Amber by surprise, and for a moment, she was rendered speechless, as her conversation with Laura echoed through her head. She quickly recovered herself, however, and shook her head. “No, I cannot say that she did.”
And it was true, Amber admitted bitterly to herself. For all the travels she made and grand stories she produced, Laura had never taken Amber anywhere. Amber had been forced to make her own escape both times her world fell.
“Well, perhaps she did and you just didn’t see her, I hear that she can be mighty sneaky at times.” The man shook his head. “But from the looks of your dress and jewels, I’m willing to say you were someone mighty important where you come from. A princess, maybe?”
“Queen.” Amber drew herself to her full stature.
“I see.” The man nodded. “Well, after our last few hard winters and scorching summers, we scarcely have enough to call a fitting meal for royalty, but you’re welcome to come stay at least the night with us before we send you to Loray to meet our own kings and queens. You said you were married, didn’t you?”
She nodded, “I am.”
“So your husband?”
“Accompanied me, but he lacks my ambition.”
“I see,” said the man. “Welcome along then, my dear – I mean, your highness. I don’t think I quite caught your name.”
“I don’t think I gave it to you,” she replied.

I can't wait!

Author Bio:
Kendra E. Ardnek loves fairy tales and twisting them in new and exciting ways.  She's been practicing her skills on her dozen plus cousins and siblings for years, "Finish your story, Kendra", is frequently heard at family gatherings.  Her sole life goal has always been to grow up and be an author of fantasy and children's tales that also glorify God and his Word. You can read more about her on her blog,

Free Books!
Do You Take This Quest?
31st ONLY:
My Kingdom for a Quest:
1st – 5th:

Tour Schedule:
August 31st
Here: Introductory Post
Overactive Imagination - Jakob
Flights from the Aerie - Me
Elvish Pens, Fantastical Writings - Me
Shire Reviews
Scattered Journal Pages
A Heart Redeemed

September 1st
Here: Book 2 Title Reveal
Blogs Also Revealing:
Flights from Aerie
Morgan Elizabeth Huneke
Lianne Taimenlore
Dolls, Books, and Things that Matter
Writing in the Light
Jaye L. Knight
Written Rest
Read, Write, Laugh, DANCE
Dreams and Dragons - Laura
The Rambling Rose - Jasmine
Book Crazy Lady - review and interview

September 2nd
Here: Books and Such that have Influenced WPFP
Scattered Journal Pages - Clara
Read, Write, Laugh, DANCE - Me
Writing in the Light - Me
Anything, Everything
Written Rest

September 3rd
My Blog: Ships I Ship Because of this Book
Flights from the Aerie - Andrew
Written Rest - Kiona
Lianne Taimenlore - me
A Writer's Heart
Dreams and Dragons
Kedurah's Korner - Review and Interview

September 4th
Here: The Initiation
Morgan Elizabeth Huneke - Amber
The Splendor Falls on Castle Walls - Jill Anna
A Heart Redeemed - Me
Jaye L. Knight - Me
Dolls, Books, and Things That Matter
Sutori no Hana
Overactive Imagination - Group review with the Blogger's Younger sisters!

September 5th
Here: Looking Back - A Writing Journey
Dolls, Books, and Things that Matter - Abraham
Dreams and Dragons - Me
writinganyone - Me
Lianne Taimenlore
Flights from Aerie - Dual Review with the Blogger's Younger Brother!
Elvish Pens, Fantastical Writings.

September 7th
Tour Wrap-Up at My Blog!

Live long and prosper.