Heralds of Courage

I am officially a published author. No, not a novel of mine. I have somewhere around seven short stories published in an anthology. Most of you know that I am a member of a Christian writing forum called Holy Worlds.

One of the Holy Worlds members decided she wanted to publish a book with the theme of Justice, Hope, and Honor. Her main goal is to get these books into prisons around the U.S. In order to get stories and poems based on those three themes, she held a contest.

 Each contest submission is in the book. I submitted seven short stories. One of those stories was the runner-up in the Justice category. Today and Saturday I will post two of my favorite stories from my submissions. The runner-up was my favorite, but you will need to buy the book to read it. Here is the link for the book: http://www.amazon.com/Heralds-Courage-Holy-Worlds-Anthology/dp/1490569677/.

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Book Cover Reveal

Today is the day! I promised the book cover reveal and here it is. As I mentioned in a previous post, Perry Elisabeth offered a sale on book covers and I decided to take the plunge. I am very glad I did! Perry did a great job with the four prototypes. It was a difficult decision.

I ended up going with the first one she had, with a couple of minor tweaks. Here is version #1:

 amightyfortress1

(Cover design by Perry Elisabeth (http://perryelisabeth.blogspot.com/)
Stock image by imma (http://mrg.bz/uByyIp))

On this version, there were only two things I did not like: 1. the four ruts on the road, and 2. The font for the series and author name. Perry used a different font on the other book cover prototypes and I liked it a lot better. So, on the second version, she kindly changed the font and was able to change the four ruts into only two ruts.

With no further ado, here is the book cover for A Mighty Fortress:

AMightyFortressBookCover

(Cover design by Perry Elisabeth [http://perryelisabeth.blogspot.com/]
Stock image by imma [http://mrg.bz/uByyIp])

It is really, truly happening! I now have over half of A Mighty Fortress edited, I have the book cover, and I have two wonderful people helping me out with the editing. I also have a dedicated test-reader. However, if there is someone who would like the opportunity to test-read my (mostly) final draft, I am willing to take one or two more volunteers.

Right now, I plan to send the draft out the first week of September and will give you until September 30th at the latest to finish the test reading. I ask that my test-readers look for obvious typos, weak plot points, character development, and things like that.

To end this post, I will leave you with one of my favorite parts of my novel (so far):

A week after leaving Helena, and two weeks after leaving home Joshua spotted the house, swung his hat above his head and let out a loud whoop. Ruth heard the holler and ran out of the house to greet them.

Joshua reined his horse in and leaped off to give his sister a hug. “We’ve got two stallions and ten mares to get us started. We also have four hands with us and two more coming in a few months with more horses.”

Ruth watched the group heading towards them. “They look like good horses. What about the men?”

“Pa picked ’em out himself. He questioned them carefully before hiring them. From what I could tell on the trail, their good men. William is a year or two older than me, but knows a lot about horses, cattle, and ranch work. He’s quiet, thoughtful, and well-mannered.

“Peter is the oldest of the group. He’s a hardened, grizzled man with plenty of experience and a quick wit. He looks older than he acts. I’m not really sure how old he is and he won’t tell me.” Joshua said this last bit under his breath and behind his hand. Ruth giggled.

Joshua looked at the men again. “Let’s see. Oh, yes. Wyatt and Flynn. They always seem to be paired together. They’re brothers and worked well together. They work hard and do as they are told, no questions asked. At least not yet. Hopefully they’ll ask questions if they don’t understand something or think what we’re doing won’t work.

“All in all, they are all a bit rough around the edges, but what man who’s lived out West for long wouldn’t be?”

Ruth laughed. “Especially without a wife, mother, or sister to help them out.” Her eyes twinkled as she teased her brother.

“Exactly!”

Week Four Questions

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How goes progress?

 I am very pleased with my progress. Both stories are coming along steadily and I am becoming more convinced that the time line I have set will truly work.

Snippet-time! Share a snip or two from your weekly writing.

I picked up the dishes from the table and started washing them. I scrubbed them more forcefully than was necessary, but Caleb was in the barn fixing some of the tack, so I was safe from his observation.

‘I don’t think the finish will come off that plate if you just use a dishrag and your hand,’ Caleb’s voice said right next to me.”

I jumped. I had been so absorbed in not thinking that I hadn’t heard him come in. I put my right hand to my heart. ‘Caleb! You shouldn’t sneak up on people like that!’”~Be Thou My Vision

 “Four against one. Pretty good odds, though I still have the advantage. I know I’m coming and they don’t.

“He picketed his horses just on the other side of the hill and sat at the top of the hill to observe. If there was one thing he had learned in his life, it was to wait for his opportunities.

Jed quietly observed the camp until night began to fall. He took his pistol and rifle and worked his way rapidly down the hill, staying in the shadows. Two of the men broke from the camp to get water and wood for the night, just as Jed had hoped would happen. He followed the two men until one man started to break away from the other. Jed made a quick decision.”~A Mighty Fortress

Do you have a Pinterest inspiration board, or other

collection of images, that inspire your story? If so, share one or two of them with us.

 No, I do not have a collection of images.

How would the main character of your story react if he or she were introduced to you?

 Hmm, does he know that I am his author? For Joshua in A Mighty Fortress, if he knew I was writing his story, he would probably be a little wary, but good natured about it. If he didn’t know, he would react the same he reacts to meeting anyone new. With a smile, open and friendly.

 Anna from Be Thou My Vision would try to be friendly, but still be wary. Not many people talk to her, so having someone single her out would be a little nerve-wracking for her. Whether she knew I was writing her story or not.

Introduce us to one or two of the secondary characters in your story. 

 A Mighty Fortress: Ruth Brookings is an important secondary character. She is a timid fifteen year old young lady who prefers being inside rather than outside. She loves God and trusts in him through the easy and hard times. Ruth is the one who helps keep Joshua sane while they are alone in the wilderness and Joshua does the same for her.

 Be Thou My Vision: Pastor Miles Jenkins is a widower with two young boys, one of whom is mute. Miles works hard as the Pastor of his small community and wishes and prays that he could have more time for his sons. He is a powerful man of God and is a blessing to his community. Many church members are convinced that he is in desperate need of a wife and try to match him up, but he will have none of it. He tells them, many times, that he will know when the right woman shows up.

We’re nearing the end of this summer challenge! Is the completion of your goal in sight?

 Yes, it is! I am already well on my way to finishing my edits on Chapters 15-20. When those are done, I will have finished my goal for A Mighty Fortress. Last week, I surpassed the 50,000 word mark making A Mighty Fortress novel-length instead of novella-length. I am getting excited about the prospects of having A Mighty Fortress published sometime in early December. To keep up with some of the more daily updates, please visit my facebook page for the Hymns of the West series: https://www.facebook.com/HymnsOfTheWest.

 I have also been able to write at least 1,000 words (usually much more) in Be Thou My Vision. Be Thou My Vision is now up to 13,984 words and about five and half chapters.

Stay tuned later this week when I post the book cover reveal for A Mighty Fortress. I am very happy with how it turned out and I can’t wait to share it with you.

Yahweh Saves

This story was written from a challenge given by a Holy Worlds member.  The challenge was to write a 1,000+ word short story based off the picture below.  With no further ado, my short story:

Water Elemental

Yahweh Saves

by Faith Blum

 

This story starts in the middle of a true story that can be found in the book of Exodus. For more background information, please read Exodus 3-13. This story is a re-telling of the parting of the Red Seas as found in Exodus 14. The only differences being that this story is fictionalized and is written from the perspective of an imaginative young boy.

Ehud stared at the cloud ahead of him. The cloud had led the group of former slaves everyday since they had left Egypt. Moses most assuredly knew what he was doing. Yahweh was leading them away from slavery at last! Ehud skipped with a gaiety he had rarely felt before.

“Abba?” he looked up at his father.

“Yes, my son?” Jonas smiled down at the eager young lad.

“When do we reach the promised land?”

“Not for many months, Ehud. You must be patient. These things take time.”

Ehud nodded in agreement even as he sighed his disappointment. He ran along the outer edge of the group of travelers. There were so many! People, cattle, sheep, oxen, camels, donkeys. It was overwhelming to his senses. Especially his sense of smell. He wrinkled up his nose as he passed a pile of animal waste.

Where would he ever find his friend, Uriah? His head swiveled back and forth, searching, searching. Where was he? Ehud heard a shout. He whipped his head around, trying to see where it had come from.

“Ehud!” the shout came again. This time the shout was closer. Ehud’s face lit up in a grin.

“Uriah! I thought I’d never be able to find you.”

“You have to come see this, Ehud,” the taller boy said as he grabbed his friend’s hand. “There is a sea. A big one up there. Moses said the cloud leading us is headed straight for the sea.”

“But if we go to the sea, how are we supposed to cross it?”

Uriah shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know. It Does not really matter, anyway.”

Ehud’s worried look changed into a smile. He tilted his head to the left. “True. El-Shaddai brought us this far and He is leading us all the way to the sea. I am sure He will figure out a way to get across the sea.” Continue reading

Finishing Something in July: Week Three

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Week Three Questions

Were you able to meet (or exceed!) your goal this week?
Yes and no. Yes, I met and exceeded my writing goal, but no, I did not get as much editing done as I wanted. I guess that’s what happens when your brain is fried from helping with VBS and helping take care of five extra little boys. I will be trying to make up for it this week.

Where did you get the bulk of your writing accomplished? In the quiet of your room, outside on the patio, on the bus?

Most of my writing was done in my room. It rarely quiet enough anywhere else for me to concentrate.


Share a couple of your favorite snippets!

What in blazes is goin’ on?” Tom demanded.

Somebody’s in the woods shootin’ at us!” Garrett shouted, pain lacing his every word.

Tom darted out of the path of the jumpy horses. Gunshots and horses did not mix well. Blood and horses didn’t mix well either. Horses feared the smell of blood and often went wild. ~ A Mighty Fortress

Ehud was stopped in mid-stride by an outstretched arm. “Where are you off to in such a hurry, Boy?”

Ehud looked up into the scarred and threatening face of a strange man. He struggled to catch his breath. “I need to warn Moses.”~ Yahweh Saves

Have you introduced a new character into your story? Tell us about his/her personality. 
No, I have not introduced any new characters in Be Thou My Vision. I did start a short story that I hope to finish and post this week. Ehud is the main character. He is a young boy traveling with his parents in the Exodus from Egypt. He is lively, adventurous, and tries his best to be helpful.

List the favorite foods of your main characters.
In A Mighty Fortress, Joshua’s favorite food is anything you set in front of him. He has never been a picky eater and he is a growing seventeen year old who needs a lot of food. Jed’s favorite food is roasted venison.

In Be Thou My Vision, Anna’s favorite food is anything she doesn’t have to cook. She has never told her brother or father this, but she hates being stuck inside all the time and would rather be outside.


Introduce us to the antagonist in your story. Does he/she prefer crunchy or creamy peanut butter?

A Mighty Fortress‘s antagonist is Jed Stuart. He is a half-Irish, half-Scottish young man who ran away from home when he was fourteen. He has red hair and has a quiet, introspective personality. When he speaks, he uses as few words as possible. He keeps his anger under careful controlled, but at times, it explodes with a force that is frightening to see.

Jed’s main goal in life is to live his own life and prove that he is worthy of life, despite what his father thought. He also tries to be as unlike his father as possible. He refuses to drink more than a little, keeps a close rein on his anger, and actually has some moral standards.

As Jed has never had peanuts or peanut butter, I have no idea which he would prefer.

 

Week Two Questions

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Week Two Questions

1)  How time flies! Did you reach your weekly goal?

Yes, I did! I have A Mighty Fortress edited through chapter eight. I also wrote a lot more than 1,000 words in Be Thou My Vision and the plot is thickening.

2)  Is this challenge pushing and encouraging you to write more often?

Yes, the challenge is definitely helping me.

3)  Did you accomplish most of your writing in the morning, afternoon, evening, or at random intervals during your busy day (i.e. waiting for your neighbors to go inside so you can jump on the trampoline without disturbing them)?

Morning and Evening. As I am usually the first one up and the last one to bed, I take the opportunity of using the quiet morning and evening hours to do editing and writing.

4) Any particular musical tracks inspiring your prose?

Just whatever music happens to come up on the Pandora station I listen to.

5) Share a snippet (or two) of your writing!

“The camp is ready,” Joshua said.

Ruth didn’t respond immediately, finishing her sentence quickly. “I’m done writing now.”

Joshua nodded. “Are you sure you are up to this?”

Ruth smiled up at him as she lifted her arm. He took her hand and pulled her up. “I know this will fool him. We need to do this if we are going to have a fighting chance.” (excerpt from A Mighty Fortress chapter 7)

6) Share your three favorite bits of dialogue.

#1: “Good! Now that we have that settled, I have to know. Can you speak or are you just being obstinate?”

His hands moved quickly in a series of signs that I was unable to understand.

“You are mute?” I guessed. His head bobbed up and down and the reluctant smile came back. “Well then. That could make guessing your name all the more challenging.” I put a forefinger on my chin. “Does your name start with a letter between A and M?”

I could almost hear his brain working as he tried to figure out the answer to my question. After less than a minute, he nodded. (excerpt from Be Thou My Vision chapter 3)

#2: “Welcome home, Anna,” Caleb said. “How was church?”

I shrugged. I wasn’t really sure what to say.

Caleb crossed his arms and looked down at me. “What about the sermon?”

“It was… interesting,” I said. I knew I was being vague, but I really did not want to talk about it. “If you wanted to know more, you should have come with me.” I moved to walk past him, but he caught my arm. (excerpt from Be Thou My Vision chapter 3)

#3: “What is going on here?” I demanded. “Why are you two acting like heathen wild men?”

“We didn’t mean no harm, Miss Stuart. Honestly we didn’t.”

I screwed my eyes shut at John’s grammar. “You didn’t mean any harm. Really, John. Don’t you pay attention at school? I know your ma’s dead, but doesn’t your da do anything to correct your grammar?” James and John both looked up at me with eyes full of… something. I wasn’t sure what. Disbelief? But disbelief about what?

“Take me to yer da, boys. I’d like to have a wee bit of a talk with him.” (excerpt from Be Thou My Vision chapter ?)

7) How are you going to move forward in this challenge? Are you changing your word-count goal, or other such battle plans this week?

My goal for this week is to get A Mighty Fortress edited through chapter eleven this week. As for writing, I will do as much as possible, including a short story based on a picture from another challenge. If it turns out, I may post it here for your reading.

Olive Trees and Cornerstones

“That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace:”~ Psalm 144:12 (KJV)

My sister, Naomi, is in a Bible Study this summer and they are studying Women of the Bible.  Somewhere in the introduction to the study, the teacher read this verse and gave a short explanation of it.  Later that evening while Naomi and I were doing dishes (great bonding time, by the way), she mentioned the verse and explanation.  Between the two of us, we came up with a very interesting interpretation.  It goes something like this:

Boys were created to provide for their families, thus they are described as plants (or olive trees).  Girls were created to support their fathers, husbands, and brothers, thus being described as the corner pillar or cornerstone. 

Now before you jump all over me saying that women should have a more influential, more important role, and that God wouldn’t allow them to just hide in the corner, keep house and raise children.  I agree, to a certain point.  However, think about it this way.  The cornerstone is cut perfectly straight.  Everything in the building is measured according to the cornerstone.  If the cornerstone is off even just a little, the building will be crooked, tilted, unstable.  The cornerstone is the most important part of a building.  Without the cornerstone, the building will not be level.  Without the cornerstone, the building could very well fall down.

Ladies, we do have influence, we are important.  Gentlemen, you are influential and have importance.  Each of us has a specific purpose and role in life.  Some are providers, and some are supporters.  Each of us is equally important, just in different ways.  God has a purpose for you in your life.  Go out and live it!

Psalm 144:12 By Naomi Blum
Boys are providers,
Girls are support.
Boys are olive trees,
Girls are cornerstones.
Boys give us food,
Girls keep us level.

Boys are in the open,
Girls are unseen, yet influential.
Boys are tall and strong,
Girls are straight and polished.
Boys are providers,
Girls are support.

Actually Finishing Something [in] July: Week One

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I really liked this idea for a blog event. And I really like to make goals. Combine these two likes and you get this blog post. So here are the answers to my questions. I expect my readers to help keep me accountable.

1) What is your writing goal? 

Writing goal #1: Get A Mighty Fortress edited through chapter 20.

Writing goal #2: Write at least 1,000 words per week in Be Thou My Vision.

2) Give us a short synopsis of your project. What makes it unique?

A Mighty Fortress: After their stagecoach is attacked by outlaws, an adventurous young man and his timid sister flee into unsettled territory and must find their way to town before they are killed by a pursuing gunslinger.

Be Thou My Vision: After learning of her younger brother’s death, an outspoken spinster defies her father and starts going to church, where she begins to care for the widower pastor’s two rambunctious boys who need a mother’s love.

One thing I think is unique in both of these books is the Christianity factor. Not many Westerns have the main characters as committed Christians.

3)How long have you been working on this project? 

A Mighty Fortress has been in the works for a couple of years, though only seriously in the works since October 2012. I started Be Thou My Vision in June 2013 and have been working steadily on it.

4) How often do you intend to write in order to reach your goal by August 1st? 

At least every other day.

5) Introduce us to three of your favorite characters in this project.

Joshua Brookings is an adventurous young man who must protect his younger sister from hunger, wild animals, and her fears as they escape from a murderous outlaw who robbed the stagecoach they were on.

 Jed Stuart is a murderous outlaw with anger problems. He is in pursuit of two teenagers after he and his friends rob the stagecoach they were on.

Anna Stuart is an outspoken spinster who befriends two motherless boys, in turn helping out the Pastor of the church.

6)  Go to page 16 (or 6, 26, or 66!) of your writing project. Share your favorite line or snippet on the page.

A Mighty Fortress (page 16): “A cloud of oncoming dust caught his eyes. The stage was on its way. Ten minutes later, Jed had his rifle resting in his shoulder, the hammer was pulled back and he worked on setting his aim. The stage was just coming into sight and Jed put his finger in the trigger guard. He squeezed the trigger just as his ears registered a startled cry from behind him.”

Be Thou My Vision (page 6): “By the time Caleb finished reading the letter, I was crying silently. Even Caleb’s voice had become subdued by the end of the letter. I couldn’t believe that Jed had done all those things.”

7) Tea or coffee? 

Definitely tea. Better yet is Kombucha, a fermented tea.