Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Is Hate Speech Protected by the First Amendment?

   "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me." It's one of the things we all grew up hearing and disagreeing with. Let's face it, we all know words can do much more damage than sticks and stones. This is the reason most of the protests nowadays have something to do with hate speech. (If you are unfamiliar with this term, this means anything considered offensive, racist, sexist, etc.) People everywhere are crying out that the government shut down people promoting hate speech. They want government entities and private companies to refuse to allow scheduled protesters to come to their campuses and other spots because they'll be promoting hate speech. And everyone everywhere says that it's not protected by the Constitution.
   It sounds good on paper. But the truth is quite a bit different and somewhat harder to hear.
   The First Amendment states:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
   It's clean and simple. What people have to say is protected by the Constitution. Period. People may say things that are hateful, things that are rude and mean and arrogant and wrong, but even if we don't like it, it's not the government's place to tell them to shut up. Unless someone is threatening your life, purposefully slandering your reputation, or spreading secrets they swore to protect, the government cannot and should not prosecute them.
   It's a hard truth to learn. It's not easy to hear things you disagree with. It's not easy to be lied about, cursed at, insulted, or offended. But if we turn to the government to start regulating the things we don't like, the things that make us uncomfortable, and the things that hurt us, we will be falling down a slippery slope that we may have to fight a war to get back up. Once we allow the government to start regulating speech, even speech considered hate speech, all the government has to do to suppress freedom of speech and the press is to throw people's words under the umbrella of hate speech and then everyone can be shut up.
   I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to death the right to say it.
   This idea, put so cogently by Evelyn Beatrice Hall, a biographer of Voltaire, perfectly demonstrates the attitude of free speech. It was hard for me to get behind at first, but I value freedom so much I eventually took it to heart. Honestly, what the KKK has to say makes me want to vomit. Fascist and anti-fascist groups alike make me want to scream. But no matter what I think of what they have to say, if anyone tries to shut them up with the law, I will fight that person to my last breath. If we call on the government to solve our problems, we will eventually find them controlling our lives.
   Instead of screaming at the government to ban the KKK and kick out the neo-Nazis from their planned protests, why don't we try peacefully spreading the truth instead? When somebody says something that offends us or makes us mad, when someone blatantly lies, instead of screaming at them or wailing that hate speech isn't supported by the First Amendment, why don't we try to calmly confront the liars with the truth or just simply walk away?
   Frankly, saying "hate speech isn't protected by the First Amendment" is a threat to our freedom. Because eventually, the legislators will believe it and they will act on it. They will pass laws prohibiting hate speech and they will enforce them. It will start out innocent, but it won't stay that way. Pretty soon, innocent people will be thrown in jail simply for speaking their minds. It could be me. It could be you.
   Freedom of speech is one of the most precious things we possess in our country. None of us want that to go away. So next time someone says something that offends you, something ignorant or prejudiced or just plain mean, instead of screaming at the government to shut them up or responding in kind to the ignorance and the hate, try taking a deep breath, respecting their (wrong) opinion, and spreading the truth.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Is Government the Solution to the World's Problems?

   It seemed like a normal day for the town of Smithville. Until an angry man ran into the school with a gun and massacred everyone inside. People shook their heads and talked about it in whispers, saying, "They should make more laws preventing that."
   Whether it be a cut in pay, a closed factory that sends the local county into a deep depression, a massacre, or the tragic death of some teenagers, whenever something affects people significantly, they declare angrily, "There should have been laws to prevent that from happening." Revolutions in Syria, slavery and persecution in Africa and the Middle East, and the most recent tyrannical dictator in The-Next-Country-Over...all cause people to cry to the American government, "Why aren't you doing something about this?"
   A disturbing mode of thinking has long controlled the people of the world. It is thousands of years old, but no less hideous for being so. People of the world see their governments as there to fix all of their problems. No matter what the issue, they call on the ruling power to step in and make all of their troubles go away.
   It's no wonder so many governments turn bad with the people handing them such power and looking on them with such worship in their eyes.
   As I look on at today's society, this has become shamefully apparent. A people who were once known for their ingenuity and independence, who would tackle any problem facing them with grit and determination, who were renowned for such a thing called American Exceptionalism, have turned into a people who look just like everyone else in the world, a people who turn to the government and cry for it to supply their every need instead of fixing any problems that come their way with God and prayer and little else.
   This attitude is nowhere more clear than in the gun issue. So many people become outraged that we don't have more gun laws whenever somebody uses a gun to kill. They clamor for the Federal Government to put more bans on guns, as if they think that would solve the problem.
   Here's a simple fact: the government can't solve all your problems. No matter how many laws there are, there will always be somebody who breaks them. Even if guns are banned altogether, criminals will still find ways to find them and use them. Killers will always kill no matter how many methods of doing it the government attempts to snatch out of their hands. Laws against drugs do nothing to prevent their abuse. No matter how much power is given to the government in the name of safety, the same awful problems will continue to ruin people's lives. The government is not and can never be the people's Savior.
   But there is someone who is a Savior. Someone who is all-powerful, all-worthy, and all-wise. Someone whom this nation has been turning their backs on for far too long.
   His name is Jesus.
   Perhaps, instead of sitting back and hoping the government can eradicate all problems, we should spread the word of Jesus instead. Let people know about the One who can set them free from all pain and fear and death. Instead of waiting for the government to get rid of the revolutions and the tyrants and the slavers, we should go and do it ourselves. Instead of trying desperately to keep guns away from killers, we should lead the killers to the One who died for their salvation. And maybe, while trying to spread God's light, we should accept that bad things will happen in this world. Killers will come. People will die. Slavery and persecution will always exist somewhere, and tyrants will never cease rising up. This world is a sinful place and the government can't change that.
   But God can. And one day, this world will pass away and we will live forever in a new world that is free from sin and pain and death.
   And no government will have gotten us there.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Firmament: Gestern Review

When I heard about this book's release, I knew immediately I had to be part of the action. The previous books in this series were wonderful, and this book didn't disappoint.

About the Book

You never escape your past
Andi Lloyd is more comfortable than most with interstellar travel, but she's not prepared for the perils and peculiarities of a world she has all but forgotten—the planet Earth. As the Surveyor undergoes repairs, her brother August receives a message with news that will send both of them across the world to a place he never wanted to visit again.

Neither of them are prepared to be thrust into a world of political intrigue amid the tangled forests and crumbling ruins of Austria. They aren't prepared to encounter wild animals and endure cross-country hikes. And they definitely aren't prepared to face it all alone.

But despite the dangers they must press on into the unknown to find a way to save Andi's life, to decide the fate of Earth itself—and to rescue a lonely girl who just happens to be their little sister.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Review of Exiles and Interview with Jace

   That time has finally come! The time, that is, when my favorite author releases another book. I can't wait until I can hold this book in my hands!

Jaye L. Knight’s newest novel, Exiles, has been released! Exiles is the fourth book in the Christian fantasy series, Ilyon Chronicles. Read about it below and be sure to check out the other blog stops on the tour by visiting the official tour page. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway!

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About the Book
Exiled after their defeat in Samara, the Resistance struggles to find allies in their quest to restore King Balen to his throne and put an end to the emperor’s tyranny. When the crete people refuse to lend their aid, Balen leads a group to Dorland to reason with them and win their support. However, enemies prove to be everywhere, and they find themselves in a fight to keep Dorland from becoming Daican’s latest conquest.

Back in Landale, the arrival of a new enemy forces Trask and Anne to tread more carefully than ever. Tensions are rising, and the enemy is determined to test Anne’s loyalty and root out the location of Trask and the Resistance once and for all.

Feeling trapped within the walls of Valcré, Prince Daniel must contend with an ever-eroding relationship with his father. As their clashes escalate, the situation becomes potentially life threatening when his loyalty is called into question. His sister seems bent on branding him a traitor and actively seeking to condemn him to the fate of those put to death in their father’s new arena. Daniel is certain his father would never execute his only son and heir, but with other forces at work, it might not be that simple.

One small misstep could prove fatal for all.

Available now on Amazon!


Haven’t discovered the world of Ilyon yet? The first three Kindle books are on sale August 11th - 14th!
You can find them on Amazon.


About the Author
JayeAuthor2015Jaye L. Knight is an award-winning author, homeschool graduate, and shameless tea addict with a passion for Christian fantasy. Armed with an active imagination and love for adventure, Jaye weaves stories of truth, faith, and courage with the message that even in the deepest darkness, God’s love shines as a light to offer hope. She has been penning stories since the age of eight and resides in the Northwoods of Wisconsin.

You can connect with Jaye on her website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Etsy.

My Review

Oh. My. Goodness. This book is wonderful. Reading it was rather like going on Expedition Everest at the Animal Kingdom in Walt Disney World. Such an emotional roller-coaster.

In truth, I'd never understood the phrase "emotional roller-coaster" as referring to a book before. Now I know. Such highs and lows in such a short period of time! The book started out nice, slow, and pleasant (just like Expedition Everest does), but then takes an unexpected turn and sends readers on a wild ride! The emotional roller-coaster is due in part to the high death toll accumulated at the end of the book. One in particular was shocking and sad, and a certain other one completely took me by surprise. Let me just say, things can never be the same for our beloved characters after this book.

This book follows three different story lines, and, for all the many books I have read with multiple story lines, this is the first one I read where I was completely engrossed and interested in every one.

Our beloved characters are just as amazing as ever. Jace's struggles with the idea of marriage (and more than that, kids...) are honestly kind of adorable. Jace and Kyrin's relationship is as cute as ever, and if I don't stop now, I'll end up fangirling all over the place so I'll move on.

The plot, as I believe I mentioned before, was a roller-coaster ride. There were shocking plot twists, and near-death experiences. It was pretty epic.

In short, this book is amazing and y'all need to buy it as soon as possible. I certainly am going to.

I was also given the opportunity of sitting down with Jace and asking him a few questions. Check it out!

Welcome to my blog, Jace! I must say, it’s an honor to finally meet you. I’m glad you agreed to let me ask you some questions, so I’ll try not to ask too many uncomfortable ones.

*Jace’s smiles* Thank you, and you’re welcome.

What would you do if someone ever approached you asking to date your sister?

Well, that would depend on the man, and if I knew him well. I do want Elanor to be happy and have someone to take care of her. Of course, I would need to know if she had mutual interest. And I would probably have Kyrin talk to him to make sure he was honest and his intentions were honorable.

If a genie enslaved by the power of a magic lamp granted you three and only three wishes, what would you wish for (barring the obvious wish for more wishes)?

I would wish for peace in Ilyon and the ability to follow Elôm without persecution. I’d also wish that, if we were married, of course, to take Kyrin back to live on the farm by Kinnim. And, finally, I would wish for Kyrin to have her father back so she could have her family together again.

If you were given the ability to time travel, when would you go?

Back to the day Kyrin’s father left for Valcré. I would warn him of the danger and not let him go. That is, if I didn’t have those three wishes.

I’m sorry for being terribly mean, but I’m also terribly curious, so please don’t freak out too much. What would you do if you wound up in the arena again?

*Jace smiles slightly* I think I’m starting to get used to these questions. *he grows serious* I’m not sure what I would do. Facing a man in an arena is not like facing him on a battlefield. Neither one of us has a choice at being there. It’s not like facing a clear enemy. I’ve always wondered whether I was right to fight or if I should have refused despite the consequences. I don’t know what choice I would make now.

Again, I’m sorry for the question. Here are some shortbread cookies to make up for it. And finally, on a happier note, if your adorable wolf Tyra ever had a bunch of puppies (say ten or so), how many of them would you keep?

*he takes a cookie* Thank you. As for the puppies, it would depend on who else would take some. I wouldn’t give them to just anyone. But I would probably keep two or three.

I don't know what to say to wrap this whole thing up, so...I guess I'll just leave it at that.

Share in the excitement of the release and enter to win a themed giveaway pack! Prizes include an autographed copy of Exiles, a pewter dragon necklace by treasurecast, and a sword letter opener! (Giveaway is open to US residents only. Cannot be shipped internationally.)


Friday, August 11, 2017

Interview with Will

   My amazing sister is also releasing a book, which all of you people need to hustle over to Amazon and buy as soon as possible. I know you need this book in your lives.
   Regardless of my bias, she and two other lovely authors are releasing retellings of the famous fairy tale Sleeping Beauty. You can read my other posts about it here and here.

About the Book
“I, Calandra, of the Wingans, do bestow upon you, the Princess of Hanover, a gift. You have been given long life. I cannot interfere with that, but when you are sixteen years of age, you will prick your finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and fall into an everlasting sleep.” She stepped closer so that she could be heard only by Liesel and her parents. “Then you will at last see the truth. Be wary. Be wise. Your fate rests upon yourself.”

On her sixteenth birthday, Princess Liesel Rosanna falls victim to a sleeping curse—but wakens in another world, a prisoner of war. As the bait in a trap for her fiancé, the crown prince of Hanover, Liesel longs to escape back to the fairy tale world. The world where she is only wanting a true love’s kiss to set everything to rights.

As situations quickly grow dire, Liesel must choose which story to live, which life is real. The fate of her country rests on her decision.

Meet the author:

Morgan Elizabeth Huneke is a homeschool graduate who lives in Georgia. She has enjoyed creating characters and writing stories since early childhood. Books have always been a big part of her life, never more so than when working at the local library. Her other interests include reading, playing and teaching piano and violin, and politics. She is the author of Across the Stars and The Experiment as well as the Time Captives fantasy trilogy.

You can connect with Morgan on her website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

   I was given the opportunity to sit down with one of the characters from Twisted Dreams and interview him. Check it out! I had a few interviews I needed to schedule this week, so I crammed them all into one day. The previous interview I refer to will be posted tomorrow.

   I settle in my comfortable armchair, place my notebook and pencil on my lap, and gaze around my interview room. My characters like to call it an interrogation room, but it's not my fault they don't like my mood lighting. I personally enjoy the bleak concrete walls, the sole light bulb in the middle of the ceiling, and the hard wooden chair. If my characters didn't want to experience it, then they should be more forthcoming to me. However, it's not my own characters I have to wrestle in here today.
   "Next!" I call out.
   The door opens and a tall young man wearing a dress military uniform steps inside and sits down in the interrogation chair.
   I smile at him and pick up my pencil. "Hello, Will, and welcome to my blog. Please excuse the cookie crumbs, they’re left over from my previous interview. I haven’t had a chance to sweep up yet."
   Will looks around at the cookie crumbs, but makes no comment on them. “Do you make a habit of pulling characters from their stories in order to ask them questions? If you would, please make it brief; I hate to be away from Liesel. She needs me.”
  "My personal habits are none of your concern. Just be glad this room is covered in cookie crumbs and not blood." Will frowns, but I speak before he has a chance to answer. "So, let’s move on to the questions, so we can get this done quickly. Heaven forbid we deprive Liesel of your company for fifteen minutes of the day." Will opens his mouth as if to answer, much offended, but I beat him to speaking. "We are all aware that you would give your life for Liesel, but would you give your life for your brother Matthew? What would you do if he were captured and threatened with death?"
   “Liesel is my fiancée, and therefore always my priority, but Matthew is my little brother. I could never leave him to die, nor would Liesel let me. Matt is as much a brother to her as he is to me. Naturally, I would have to discuss the details with Liesel before proceeding. I couldn’t leave Liesel alone in the world, however. It would all depend on the circumstances, how far I would go.”
   Amazing how his answer cycled back to Liesel almost immediately. "If you were banished from your kingdom, what would you seek to do to support yourself and your soon-to-be wife?"
   Will blinks in confusion. “Why would I be banished? I am the crown prince. If I was banished, who would be king when my father is gone? Matthew isn’t equipped to be king, nor has he ever wanted to be. Aside from that, none but my father has the authority to banish me, and he would never think to do so. It is a moot point.”
   "I think it is anything but a moot point, but since I doubt I'll ever be able to convince you otherwise, let's move on to your favorite subject, shall we? How far would you go to save the life of Liesel?"
   “I would do anything to save Liesel.” Will stares at me intensely, a solemn look in his eye. “Liesel is the light of my life. I love her better than my own self, better than anyone else I know. I can’t live without her.” He swallows hard. “I’d do anything for her.”
   Ugh, this was getting sickening. Time to move on to a different subject. "Do you like animals? If so, have you ever had any pets?"
   Will shrugs. “Matthew was always the one who liked animals. Our dog was mostly his, and he was always bringing in rabbits and mice and such things. I didn’t mind them, but I was more focused on learning the things necessary to lead and fight for Hanover.”
    "Wow, an answer that had nothing whatsoever to do with Liesel," I exclaim. "Well done, Wilhelm." I lean back in my chair and ready my pencil, though my notebook page contains nothing but doodles. "And last, but not least, have you ever been annoyed before by other couples’ public displays of affection?"
   Will eyes me suspiciously. “I feel as if that is a pointed question. When you are yet to be married and therefore must have chaperones, displays of affection are by default public. It isn’t ideal, and yes, most people are bothered by such things, but what else are you supposed to do? Besides, Liesel and I displaying affection towards one another in front of Matthew is hardly public.”
   "I admire your education. Obviously you were very well taught about how to be a politician and the art of never answering questions with a straight answer." I raise my eyebrows and try to keep a smile off my face.
   Will has a look on his face that I can only describe as exasperation.“When I was a child, perhaps, but now that I am an adult, I can understand why others do it, and it does not faze me.”
   I sit back and rest my chin on my hand. "You may go whenever you like."
   Will immediately rises and strides out of the room.

   So there you have it! Hopefully that was intriguing enough to induce you to buy the book immediately. And add it to your Goodreads. And explore the rest of the blog tour.

   I'll see you once you're done reading the book.

   Don't forget to join the giveaway!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Interview with Kendra E. Ardnek

On this very day, not one, not two, but three Sleeping Beauty short stories have been released by their caring authors into the wild to survive on their own. To celebrate this very momentous occasion, I have been given the opportunity to interview one of these brave, caring authors: Kendra E. Ardnek! So now, without further ado, I present to you the illustrious cover of the small little book Kendra is now releasing.

About the Book
Everyone knows that Sleeping Beauty's curse is triggered when she pricks her finger on a spindle and that she is awakened by true love's kiss...but what happens when the wicked fairy decides to switch things up?

Edmund didn't mean to put Auralea to sleep, but now it's up to him and the famous Puss in Boots to figure out how, exactly, a spinning wheel is supposed to awaken her.

Let me introduce you to Kendra:

About the Author
Kendra E. Ardnek is a homeschool graduate who picked up a pen at an early age and never put it down. The eldest of four, she makes her home in the Piney Woods of East Texas with her parents, younger siblings, giant herd of giraffes, and honor guard of nutcrackers. 

You can connect with Kendra on her website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Now, I invite you to sit down with me as I ply questions to this intriguing author.

Hello, Kendra, and welcome to my blog! Go ahead and introduce yourself to the readers.

Hello, readers! It is so, so nice to meet all of you. I love readers – they’re, like, my favorite sort of people. Able to look at these little black lines that I put onto paper and somehow translate it into words, and somehow they can interpret those words into stories, and it’s just plain amazing.
Stay awesome, readers, stay awesome.

What draws you to fairy tale retellings?

The ability to revisit my favorite stories over and over, yet they be different every time. I read Ella Enchanted, and Ella’s an independent young lady cursed with obedience. I read Cinder, and Cinder’s a cyborg. In Secret of the Hazel Tree, Cynthia’s going to the ball to solve a murder mystery (And, Kiri, if you read this, I NEEEEEEED you to publish this so I can shout my love for it from the rooftops). In CinderEddy, it’s an adventure to save a princess from a tower. MoM (Sorry, title not revealed yet), the prince doesn’t even know how to dance, and they meet because she just happens to find the curtain he was hiding behind.
But it’s Cinderella every time. There’s still the theme of hard work, honesty, overcoming oppression, and finding a better future.

How did you get obsessed with MBTI personality types?

I’m not obsessed – it’s my sister who’s obsessed. I will absorb the obsessions of anyone I’m close to, though. I find them fascinating, though, learning how people’s minds work.

What are your future authorial plans?

World domination.
I’m in the process of revising all of my published books, giving them a bit of a spit and a polish, adding a bit of content to some of them. And I’m giving all six of my novels brand-new, 1000 times more gorgeous covers. You can go here for more information.
I’m currently writing Worth of a King, which I hope to have ready to release in the fall of next year. I just finished The Seven Drawers, a retelling of Snow White for the Rooglewood contest, and am currently considering writing two more retellings of the tale – Red as Snow and Snowella White. So, yeah, lots on my plate.

Who are your favorite authors and how have they influenced you?

C.S. Lewis – my first serious work of any length was a script for a play based on LWW, a play that was never produced but eventually morphed into what is now Lady Dragon, Tela Du.
J.R.R. Tolkien – Before I was rewriting Narnia, I was kidnapping hobbits.
Gail Carson Levine – she reawakened my love for fairy tale retellings.
Laura Ingalls Wilder – It was thanks to her that I realized that books were written by people, and thus a viable career option for me.

What advice would you give to new or aspiring authors?

1 – Write, write, write. Aspiring doesn’t get you anywhere if you don’t create content.
2 -  Edit, edit, edit. Content doesn’t get you anywhere if it stinks.

3 – Market, market, market. Build your platform even before you’re ready to publish. Perfect content doesn’t get you anywhere if no one knows about it.

Ah, and I'm sure if more authors were to heed that advice, the flocks of stories continuously released into the wild would be more ready to face this frightening world alone, would they not? Alas, for the many stories who do not survive... But hurrah for the few who do, of which I am certain Poison Kiss will be one. Let me introduce you further to it before we move on:

Illustrious Snippet:
“Ah, now you’ve done it, boy,” came a silky, unfamiliar voice, and the princess’s large, blue-gray cat bounded onto the arm of the couch.
“You – did you just talk?” asked Edmund. First a sleeping princess, and now a talking cat?
“I did,” said the cat, licking his paw. “My vow of silence is at its end.”
“Are – are you a shapeshifter?”
“Oh, dear me, no!” The cat started preening its whiskers. “I am the Great Puss of the Boots. Perhaps you’ve heard of me? I eat shapeshifters for breakfast.”
“Um, yes,” said Edmund. He nodded towards the sleeping princess. “Do you have any idea…”
“She’s cursed, that’s the long and short of it,” Puss explained. “And you, dear boy, were the implement of bringing it about. The dear girl shall sleep for a hundred years until she is awakened by a spinning wheel.”
“A hundred years...”
“She’s Sleeping Beauty, and such is her curse. Although, now that you mention it, Geneva didn’t actually specify the hundred years, so maybe you’re in luck. Quick now, there’s a spinning wheel in the closet for just this sort of emergency.”
“A…” Edmund stared in confusion.
“Quick boy! I’d do it myself, but I don’t have hands.”

Such an intriguing snippet cannot help but implore you to purchase this book. Please, show it some love and take it into your hearts. 

I have also been informed you are also able to view this book on the Goodreads and add it to your lists. You may do so here.

Now that we have properly celebrated the momentous occasion on this my blog, I invite you to participate even more in the festivities by exploring the Blog Tour Schedule. Auf wiedersehen!

Don't forget to join the giveaway!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Spider-Man: Homecoming Review

   Anyone that knows me can tell you that I'm a huge fan of Spider-Man. I loved the original movies and I loved Spidey's appearance in Captain America: Civil War. (I wasn't a fan of the Amazing Spider-Man movies, but that's neither here nor there.) So needless to say, I was super excited when Spider-Man: Homecoming was released. I managed to convince my dad to take me to go see it not long after it came out, but due to Camp NaNo and other stuff, I haven't gotten around to doing such things as writing reviews for a while. So, without further ado, here is my (rather fangirly) review of the latest Spider-Man movie.

   First of all, this movie starts out hilariously. I loved how the original Spider-Man theme was incorporated into the intro music. The rest of the music was beautiful as well. Michael Giacchinno, while he couldn't measure up to John Williams with his Rogue One soundtrack, still did an amazing job with this movie.
   The technical aspects of this movie were very well done. Filming, lighting, acting, CGI, even the costumes were spectacularly done. Something so subtle and easily overlooked as costume design can really complement a story's plot and characters well, and this time they did so. Just something as simple as Peter's clothing choices says volumes about his character. 
   I mean, this t-shirt screams nerd:

   Also, Peter's two different Spidey suits designed by Stark were beautiful. Just sayin'.
   The plot was amazing. It wasn't ridiculously predictable, way too complex, shallow and meaningless, or centered around a girl. It wasn't even in the vein of a typical superhero movie. It was very well-written. The plot points were all spot-on and powerful. The plot twist near the end was very unexpected, and the climax was masterful.
    The characters. Wow, the characters. They are some of the best parts of the movie. My favorite, naturally, was Peter Parker himself. He was a nerd, a dork, and a hero. And what's more, Marvel didn't feel the need to tell this to their audience. They just let it show. As a fellow super-dorky nerd, I really appreciated it. Peter was by no means perfect, but he had a good heart, and it showed. His character arc was amazing, and the center of the whole movie. His flaws were shown as clearly as his virtues, which takes bravery. He changed so beautifully. Alright, I'm done fangirling.
   The other characters were marvelous and deep. Tony has very obviously adopted Peter as his son, and is trying to do a better job fathering him than Howard Stark did with Tony. He states several times that he wants Peter to be a better person than he is. He makes some tough decisions and says some hard things to Peter that really help him overcome his flaws and struggles. Ned was a wonderful, loyal friend to Peter, and a great "guy in the chair." :) Peter's crush, Liz, was sweet, kind, and very understanding. And MJ was a star. She was hysterical, and I can't wait for more interaction between her and Peter in the future.
   The theme. Hardly separable from the character arc. It was so powerful and wonderful. Unfortunately, I'll have to see it more times before I'll be able to articulate further. Guess I'll just have to buy the DVD or something.
   All in all, this was a wonderful movie. I wouldn't recommend it to younger children, especially not without their parents viewing it first, mainly because of the language. You can read a good overview of the content concerns here. Despite all that, I would recommend it to teens and up, and for any Marvel fans or Spider-Man fans.
   Now, I just hope I get this movie for Christmas so I can rewatch it a ton.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Camp NaNo Update Week One

My brain is shot because I've been doing NaNo all week, and I have nothing philosophical left in me. Therefore, I'm posting a NaNo update instead.

I'm working again on Awakened, hoping to get the second quarter of the book done. Things are going a bit slower than I hoped, but it's still going pretty well notwithstanding.

I've written 13/14 pages so far. As you can see, I'm right on my goal. And surprisingly, the cabin is ahead! This is the first time this has happened to me. Hopefully it lasts.

This week has actually been pretty laid back. We haven't been going much of anywhere, so I've been able to get a lot of things done at home, including having my first driving lesson, preparing a glass candle holder for staining, baking a coconut cream pie (in honor of Gilligan's Island), knitting my yarn remnants into a scarf, practicing piano, and, of course, writing. I'm not writing as many pages as I would like, but I'm happy with what I have so far, so the good outweighs the bad.

Le snippet:
   Peter's heart leaped. A presidential pardon. A free ride. He could stay out of jail.
   But it wasn't worth the lives of Katie and her family.
   "I...think I'd rather not."
   "Well," the man said. "I needn't waste my time with you any further. I've got a bit of a time crunch, and there are reams of doctors waiting to study your body to find out more about your genetic disease. I hope it won't inconvenience you if I just speed the process along a little."
   The nausea climbed up towards Peter's throat. Not only was he going to die by a needle, his body was going to go to the very doctors he had dreaded and fought all these years. In the end, they'd win.
   A strong hand gripped Peter's left arm. A pinch of pain spread through the crook of his elbow. The pinch of a needle.
   Bile rose in Peter's throat. He swallowed the burn down. The needle slid out.
   "Normally we'd offer you a last meal, but..." Another needle pinched Peter's skin. "I guess this is goodbye."

I'm off to write some more.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Why We're Celebrating Today

   Today is Independence Day! *cue fireworks* This is one of my favorite days of the year. Lame parades, hot festivals, country music, political campaigns galore, beautiful fireworks, and amazing friends, all to celebrate the great nation that is America. Even more amazing than the celebration itself is the reason behind it: why we celebrate on this day and what led up to the events that happened then. I thought I would share the story of Independence Day with you on this hot but wonderful day.

   Soon after Christopher Columbus stumbled upon America, the European superpowers rushed to colonize the new lands discovered. Naturally, England felt the need to get in on the action, and started the first English colony called Virginia. Through a long series of events, twelve other English colonies were founded in North America, known as Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and South Carolina. Each colony was begun by a group of settlers armed with a charter stating the land they were settling on was a colony under the authority of the British government and all the inhabitants therein were British citizens. Being very far away from the British homeland, the British government mostly ignored these new American colonies, and they were forced to learn to govern themselves. They built legislatures based on the British House of Commons and governments founded on the Bible and the freedoms guaranteed them therein and enumerated somewhat within the Magna Carta. For a long while, people fled Europe and settled in America to gain freedom and lived happily governing themselves independently and freely as citizens of the British government.

   Then a war erupted between two long-standing enemies, Britain and France. Unlike most wars between Britain and France, this one took place mostly on the American homeland. The American colonists drummed up the militia and turned out in droves to defend themselves alongside the British soldiers sent from England. Britain spent so much on that war they wound up in massive amounts of debt. And the current king, King George III, decided the American colonies should help shoulder their share of the debt. So he taxed them.
   Thing is, King George III didn't have the authority to tax Britain. Only Parliament had the authority to levy taxes, and the American colonists considered themselves part of England. They would only accept taxes if representatives they elected were allowed to sit in the House of Commons and vote on it themselves. So they sent emissaries to England to argue that point. But King George III didn't agree with that. He not only levied taxes on the American colonies, he forcefully dissolved their legislatures, refused to pass necessary laws, tried to obstruct immigration and population, made the courts of justice a mockery, took away their charters, abolished their most valuable laws, cut off their trade, completely reformed their governments to his design, and forced the abominable trade of slavery upon them. 
The colonists wouldn't stand for it. After trying every avenue they could to try and get the king to back down and failing at every one of them, they had enough. When the king sent his troops to confiscate their guns and ammunition, leaving them defenseless, they whipped up their militias and fought back. War had begun. They convened a Continental Congress in Philadelphia and entered into a series of actions: George Washington was appointed commander of the Continental Army, the American Post Office and Navy was established, two petitions were sent to England (and ignored) called the Olive Branch Petition and the Declaration on the Causes an Necessity of Taking Up Arms, and the First Continental Congress entered into negotiations with foreign governments. American colonists were risking their lives to fight the king for the freedoms he was denying them.
In 1776, the Second Continental Congress convened with representatives from each of the thirteen colonies. They authorized the thirteen colonies to set up provisional governments to replace the ones King George III had forcefully disbanded. And then, on June 7, Richard Henry Lee introduced a resolution that completely changed the minds and goals of the representatives there.

"RESOLVED. That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved. That it is expedient forthwith to take the most effectual measures for forming foreign Alliances

That a plan of confederation be prepared and transmitted to the respective Colonies for their consideration and approbation."

Massive debates erupted. Four days later, a committee was appointed to draft a declaration of independence. Five men, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston, were on it. For sixteen days, Jefferson penned a rough draft of the Declaration, the committee edited it, and on June 28, the Declaration of Independence was submitted to the Congress. They read it out loud and then tabled it until their final vote on Richard Henry Lee's resolution for independence.
   The colonies battled it out. They debated Lee's resolution and revised the Declaration. Georgia and South Carolina insisted on Jefferson's scathing passage against slavery being cut from the Declaration, and still, on July 1, during the trial vote for Lee's resolution, South Carolina and Pennsylvania voted no. Delaware was stuck in a tie vote, which amounted to a no vote. The Continental Congress refused to pass Lee's resolution unless it was a unanimous vote. Finally, two delegates from Pennsylvania opposed to independence agreed to abstain from voting so Pennsylvania would have a yes vote, Caesar Rodney, a Delaware delegate who had been home sick, rode all night through a storm to break the tie vote in favor of independence, New York decided to abstain, and South Carolina gave in and voted yes so they would not be the only ones against the resolution. On July 2, Lee's resolution passed unanimously (New York voted yes a couple of days later). Our country was officially a new nation.
   So why don't we celebrate independence on July 2? Right after the vote on Lee's resolution, John Adams wrote to his wife that he believed July 2 would be celebrated "as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, bells, bonfires, from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forevermore." How come one of the founders of our country got the date of our independence celebration two days wrong?
   The answer is the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration of Independence is what separates our nation from every other nation on the face of the earth. In the Declaration of Independence, the founders state that they are declaring themselves a nation independent from Great Britain, that they are doing it because of the reasons listed in the twenty-seven grievances, and that they get the authority to do this from the God of Creation. The most unique thing about this document is the six truths stated therein:

1) That all men are created.
2) That all men are created equal.
3) That rights are endowed by our Creator.
4) That rights are unalienable (nontransferable).
5) That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men.
6) That governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.

   These six truths had never been believed or acted upon by any nation before. They revolutionized the entire world and are still revolutionizing it today. They are what makes America so amazing. The Declaration of Independence was voted on and passed on July 4, 1776. It changed the entire world and made our nation what it is today. That is why we are celebrating today instead of on July 2. 
   If you would like to know more about the process which led up to the Declaration of Independence, HBO's series John Adams is very accurate and very exciting. If you would like to read the full Declaration of Independence, click here. 
   And in celebration of the day, check out this video from the HBO series John Adams.

Have a happy Independence Day, y'all!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Sleeping Beauty Cover Reveals

My sister and two other authors are revealing the covers of their upcoming books today. Come take a look!

Poison Kiss

About the Book
Everyone knows that Sleeping Beauty's curse is triggered when she pricks her finger on a spindle and that she is awakened by true love's kiss ... but what happens when the wicked fairy decides to switch things up?

Edmund didn't mean to put Auralea to sleep, but now it's up to him and the famous Puss in Boots to figure out how, exactly, a spinning wheel is supposed to awaken her.

And here's where you can preorder it:

About the Author
Kendra E. Ardnek is a homeschool graduate who picked up a pen at an early age and never put it down. The eldest of four, she makes her home in the Piney Woods of East Texas with her parents, younger siblings, giant herd of giraffes, and honor guard of nutcrackers. 

You can connect with Kendra on her website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Twisted Dreams

About the Book
“I, Calandra, of the Wingans, do bestow upon you, the Princess of Hanover, a gift. You have been given long life. I cannot interfere with that, but when you are sixteen years of age, you will prick your finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and fall into an everlasting sleep.” She stepped closer so that she could be heard only by Liesel and her parents. “Then you will at last see the truth. Be wary. Be wise. Your fate rests upon yourself.”

On her sixteenth birthday, Princess Liesel Rosanna falls victim to a sleeping curse—but wakens in another world, a prisoner of war. As the bait in a trap for her fiancé, the crown prince of Hanover, Liesel longs to escape back to the fairy tale world. The world where she is only wanting a true love’s kiss to set everything to rights.

As situations quickly grow dire, Liesel must choose which story to live, which life is real. The fate of her country rests on her decision.

And here's where you can preorder it:

About the Author
Morgan Elizabeth Huneke is a homeschool graduate who lives in Georgia. She has enjoyed creating characters and writing stories since early childhood. Books have always been a big part of her life, never more so than when working at the local library. Her other interests include reading, playing and teaching piano and violin, and politics. She is the author of Across the Stars and The Experiment as well as the Time Captives fantasy trilogy.

You can connect with Morgan on her website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Rosetta Thornbriar

About the Book
Once upon a time, way out west...
Back when they were young'uns, Fleur Guardstone proposed to Rosette Thornbriar with a cigar band ring. However, not long after, she disappeared back into the forest and hadn't been heard from since. However, when Fleur hears reports of smoke coming from that woods, he's determined to find out if it is, indeed, his dear Rosette. If he can get past all of the briars.

About the Author
Rachel Roden is a natural story teller, capable of weaving the most hilarious of fairy tales. She fell in love with the Lone Ranger in her teens, but ended up with a basketball referee instead. Together, she and the Ref homeschool their four children in the Piney Woods of East Texas, as well as any other odd kid who ends up in their house. She might also be the sole human who still uses math after college.

Go check them out!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The True Enemies of the American People

   The year 2016 will long be remembered around America as one of the worst years most of us have ever experienced. Terror attacks were rising on the extreme, celebrities were dying it seemed every other week, and our nation was caught in the throes of an election that ripped our nation apart. The last threads of unity left hanging in our country were snapped as Republicans and Democrats first tore themselves apart in vicious primaries, then tore each other apart in an even more vicious general election. Violence rose everywhere political candidates went, hate was spewed on every political post that showed up on Facebook, and people on both sides lived in such a constant state of anger that they threw around death threats like confetti.
   The election has ended, but the fighting has just gotten worse. People on both sides have worked themselves into a frenzy. The left bemoans everything the current government does as causing the deaths of millions, and the right pounces on anything the government does, tears it to pieces, and calls the entire government promise-breaking traitors if they can find even a smidgen of something to criticize. People on both sides are intent on destroying anyone they see as opposition without pause or regrets. They are unable to speak civilly to someone that does not hold their views. It should not have been a surprise when the rabid fighting that has been going on unchecked finally pushed an unstable man to do the unthinkable and try to murder congressmen and senators gathering to practice for a charity baseball game. This country and this people have come to a breaking point, and if we don't find a way to unify, we may destroy ourselves in a civil war more bloody than the one that erupted in 1861.
   Hate. Anger. Viciousness. Violence. These are the things that define our country today, when before we were known for our love, our compassion, and our unity. We are not the United States of America anymore, but the Divided States of America. People all around the nation seem to have forgotten how to disagree civilly, how to have different worldviews and still be friends, how to love and care and put aside our differences for what really matters.
   Justice Antonin Scalia and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg could not have been more different. They had completely opposing beliefs and ideological systems. They disagreed on nearly everything that mattered. And yet they were still best friends for many years before Justice Scalia succumbed to a heart attack in February of 2016. Most Americans today couldn't even fathom how two people so different could be such good friends, and I couldn't either until not long ago.
   During former President Obama's very last State of the Union address, I had a flash of realization. Despite our incredibly differing views on everything imaginable, we were still working towards the same goal: a better, safer, freer America. Contrary to what I had believed, most people on the left are not consciously trying to destroy the country we all love. I realized we all do love America, no matter our political beliefs. We all are trying to make her a better nation, though we have different views on how that can be accomplished. I realized these people are not my enemies. We are all Americans, united in purpose and truth...or we should be.
   So who are our enemies?
   Barack Obama is not our enemy. Donald Trump is not our enemy. Neither is Hilary Clinton, Harry Reid, George W. Bush, Ted Cruz, or the media on both sides of the aisle. Hate is our enemy. Fear is our enemy. Aggression and violence are our enemies. Criticism, anger, and suspicion are our enemies. Ignorance is our enemy. Lies are our enemy.
   But people are not our enemies. We need to stop all the hatred and the anger and the lies. We need to stop accusing the other side of trying to kill people and of being the devil's seed. We need to stop assuming the people in the government are out for themselves and are always trying to hurt the American people. We need to stop jumping to conclusions, and threatening violence, and losing friends to arguments over our beliefs. We can disagree and still be friends. We have a lot more in common with the people on the other side than we think. People on the other side are truly trying to do the right thing. It does not make them our enemy when they are opposed to what we are doing.
   We can still disagree with the people around us. Indeed, disagreements, if conducted civilly and in a friendly manner, can be very healthy for a nation of laws and purpose. But the fighting, the hatred, the ignorance, the anger, is poisoning our country and may lead to her death. It needs to stop and it needs to stop now, on both sides of the aisle, in every state, in every political and ideological group, in every religion and belief system, in every city and town, everywhere across the entire nation.
   Please reach out to those around you who disagree with you and reassure them you are their friends, that you stand with them, and that though you may disagree on many things, you still love them and recognize you are still working towards a better America.
   In the 1960's, people talked about spreading love, not hate. True love is putting aside our differences and standing united, working towards our common goals, and finding our common ground with each other. Let's put aside our division and hatred and become a united nation once more.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Why Can't Christian Media Be Good Quality?

   There's a lot of media out there. There's millions of songs being released every year, thousands of books being published, especially with the new self-publishing phenomenon, and oodles and oodles of movies. As Christians are called to be lights in a darkened world, we feel a calling to place our own songs, books, and movies out there with our worldview to counteract all the other media people are constantly gushing over. Yet we never see people fangirling over the latest Christian book releases all over Facebook or Pinterest. Millions of screaming girls don't flock to concerts of Big Daddy Weave and Casting Crowns. And Christian movies get nothing but mockery from everyone that doesn't publicly claim to be Christian. Is this just all symptoms of a deranged world turning its back on its Creator and Lord? Or is the world willing to admit something about Christian media we ourselves are too afraid to?
   Now don't get me wrong: many times, the producers of Christian media have their heart in the right place. They honestly have a good message they want to share and they are genuinely trying to spread the Gospel. This is why I think many Christians are too afraid to admit the truth about Christian media. They're afraid that other Christians will claim they're denying that the Gospel is true instead of denying that Chris Tomlin is the next John Newton. That's not what I'm saying, so don't misunderstand me. I'm not criticizing anybody's beliefs. 
   But what is it about today's Christian media that isn't hitting the mark? Secular people might claim it is our "stuffy" worldview. But any examination of classic media that still lives on and is well-loved today will show that's not true. Charles Dickens' books have lived on through over a hundred years, countless adaptations, and constant fans the world over. Yet Charles Dickens was a devout Christian, as is obvious in his books.  Treasure Island and The Swiss Family Robinson have been well-loved for ages, and they are also written by Christians. Jane Eyre, A Little Princess, Alice in Wonderland, Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, The Wind in the Willows, Heidi, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord of the Rings, and countless others were all written by Christians. And it's not limited to books. Some of the most famous songs of all time, Silent Night and Amazing Grace, were both written by Christians, and pastors to boot. Bach, Handel, Mozart, Haydn, and others were all Christians. And the lion of all modern entertainment who shaped the twentieth century and what exists of the twenty-first, Walt Disney himself, was an unapologetic Christian. Christians have the most amazing heritage of well-done, unforgettable, life-changing media of anybody in the world. So why is modern Christian media today the butt of all jokes and something that nobody but Christians even cares about?
   The answer is simple: most modern Christian music, books, and movies are not good quality. Most modern Christian books are not quality literature and are not even close to comparing to the works of Charles Dickens and C. S. Lewis. None of the Christian artists out there today are ever going to write anything as memorable as Silent Night or Amazing Grace and only a few, such as Michael W. Smith for example, are true musicians. And ever since the death of Walt Disney during the production of The Jungle Book, wholesome good movies made by Christians have been almost non-existent. Instead, all we have are movies like Left Behind and The Mark. All we get from Christian books, movies, and music nowadays is shallow messages, preachy words, and sub-par work. But why is this and how do we fix it?
   Most Christian artists, writers, screenwriters, and movie producers are too concerned with their label and the message they're trying to get across than with the actual works of art they're supposed to be producing. They really are trying to spread God's kingdom. But they're producing music, books, and movies for all the wrong reasons. They produce them because they know that's where the people are and that's what our culture revolves around, when they really should be producing music and books and movies because they have a passion for creating music, books, or movies deep down inside of them.

   MGM Studios has a motto: Ars Gratia Artis, which is Latin for "Art for art's sake." This idea really captures where good art (books, music, and movies) comes from: artists who would create their works even if no one was watching and their works would never be seen by the light of day. As Christians, we who were born artists have an even greater reason to create the art that demands to be let out of us: our God who loves us and has adopted us has given us a talent that can't be suppressed. If for no other reason than to make Him smile do we want to create our art, but our beliefs and our callings push through and drive us so that our art becomes not only a thing of entertainment, but a creation with the possibility to change the world.
   Christian musicians and authors and movie makers should focus not on making Christian music, books, and movies, but on being good artists creating good art. And because God has given us a new nature and made us a new man, and because true art is a reflection of the soul of the artist who created it, our art will not reflect us, but Christ who lives in us (see Galatians 2:20).
   And that is when art changes the world.