Saturday, December 29, 2012

Annabeth's War

My brother came in with the mail and handed me something, "There's a package here for you." I took one look at it and bolted upstairs, closing my door firmly behind me so that my sister couldn't peek in (one of the copies was her Christmas present, you see.)   I pulled the package open but kept myself from ripping the pages open and starting to read like I so desperately wanted to.  Instead, I carefully unwrapped the beautiful wrapping paper and allowed myself a couple inward squeals.  The front cover is gorgeous when you see a picture of it, but to see the front and back for myself, to hold it in my hands, was more than I had imagined.  I opened it and squealed some more when I saw the acknowledgments.  Then I began to read.


Annabeth, the swordmaster's daughter, had been trained by her father as the son he had wished he had.  Now Lord Raburn has seized power and she is left, the only one in the kingdom, with secrets which just might preserve the lives of her father and her prince. 

If she can stay alive.

What can I say?  Opening the pages was going back into the medieval stories I've loved and used to almost live in.  I don't know where to begin.  Annabeth.  Let's start with the girl who has center stage.

Coming to Annabeth's War, I unconsciously expected a bit of a feministic outlook.  I mean, have you ever found a book about a sword-wielding medieval girl  that wasn't feministic?  Well, meet Annabeth.  Jessica's deft portrayal blew me away.  Here is a girl, strong, but still tender, sweet, complex, miles away from the cliche rebellious girls with swords.  I was VERY impressed.  And then there's Ransom the bounty hunter, charged to earn Annabeth's trust and bring her to safety.  Can I just say that I love him?  Because I do.  His character is like Annabeth's; it unfolds slowly, beautifully, just enough to tantalize you and make you read on.  And the exchanges between him and Annabeth are delightful and incredibly sweet. 

So I LOVE Ransom and Annabeth, but under them, my real favorite was a captain of the guard named Eliot.  He came onto the scene sadly late in the story (sadly for me who wanted more of him, fortunately for Annabeth - but I musn't give you spoilers) and it didn't take long before I was convinced that he was looked, acted, and sounded like Richard Armitage.  Awesomeness, peoples.  And did I mention that these characters come alive?  They do. 

And then there's the rest of them: Lord Raburn ("villain" is written all over him!), Prince Alfred (another great guy) Song  Lark, Christina, and Annabeth's father (though his page-time was sadly short. *sniff*)  And what these characters do is not to be described.  Joy, pathos, humor, romance, villainy, swords...

But if I had to find one word to summarize Annabeth's War I would chose 'beautiful.'  Partly because Jessica's writing always has that indefinable quality to it, and partly because beauty is woven all through the story.  The beauty God gives to every single story; how he makes everything beautiful in its time; that's what Annabeth's War is about. 

But why am I telling you all this?  You want to read it for yourself, of course. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

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Yesterday I looked at my sister and asked, "Are you sure it's Christmas Eve?"  "I think so," she said.  However hard I find it to believe, today actually is Christmas day.  I hope all of you have a very merry Christmas and a new year filled with love, joy, and peace.

Joy to the world! the Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.
 
Joy to the world! the Saviour reigns;
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat the sounding joy.
 
No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.
 
He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Author interview with Jessica Greyson

Earlier this year, I had the privilege of beta-reading Annabeth's War, and, while I have not yet held the finished book in my hands, I can tell you right away that it's every bit as wonderful as you could wish.  As part of the publishing festivities, Jessica agreed to an interview here at Miss Georgiana Darcy and I'm delighted to present to you the result.
 
Ladies and gentlemen, the celebrated authoress Jessica Greyson and her newly-published novel, Annabeth's War!
 
*loud applause* 
 
Just for starters, can you tell us a teeny, weeny, bit about yourself?
I am middle child of three kids, homeschooled from kindergarten to high school. I love the color blue, travel and peanut butter and chocolate and ice-cream (I have a horrible sweet tooth). Books and writing are my favorite passion and pastime, thought I don't get quite as much time to do either nowadays. Late night conversations with my friends and family are my favorite because they can go forever with no interruptions.
 
Oooh... I seem to recollect a scene where Annabeth mentioned that her favorite color was blue.  It's one of mine, too. :)For those of us who don't know, what exactly is Annabeth's War? (other than being a book you wrote, of course)
It is the story of a girl defending her country against the wishes and power of one man.
 
How, where, and, when did you get the original idea of writing it?
The story slowly emerged over time, picking up pieces here and there along the way until it became what it is today. An old story idea, a few medieval movies, the desire to write a story of a strong yet feminine heroine. The personal lesson of God works everything together for good. It all melded into Annabeth's War.
 
Strong yet feminine heroine... oh yes.  That's exactly what most books don't have and exactly what Annabeth is.  Because I'm curious: where did you get their names? Annabeth and Ransom are especially distinctive and still somehow perfect for their characters.
I had used the name Rance in a story ages and ages ago and always wanted to use the name Ransom, but to be honest I don't remember really making a conscious decision to call him Ransom, it just sort of happened.
Annabeth was a bit harder. I was going between the names Anne or Anna and Elizabeth. Neither seemed to fit quite right yet both seemed perfect, Ransom said he wanted to call her Beth, and the idea struck to use both names creating Annabeth.
 
From what I've seen, you use a lot of epic subject matter, with lots of adventure (and swords :D) What exactly makes you write about that?
Weapons have always been one of my fascinations, old fashioned weapons. You might blame it on a version of The Three Musketeers, I saw when I was little. I've never been a fan of the genre of romance - I like a little here and there but not a lot, and in my teens most of the books that seemed offered to girls my age were of that nature so I veered off in a different direction. I chose boy books and delved myself into the land of sword fights and adventure, brushes with death and historic excitement. G. A. Henty books were my obsession (as my poor friends around that age will tell you, they didn't get a reprieve from him until I found Lois Walfrid Johnson). But as a general rule, the bigger the stakes, the more fun it is to write.
 
Which scene or character did you must love writing about?
That is difficult to say. I have so many favorite parts for different reasons. Some of the exchanges between Annabeth and Ransom were really fun to write.
 
 
Are there any scenes or characters that you positively hated writing?
My least favorite character to write about was probably my villain, I just wanted to recoil from my keyboard when I wrote about him.
 
 
When did you first know you wanted to be a writer? What was the first thing you ever wrote?
Around age twelve, many of my influences were talking about life purposes and mission in life. After some thought I God to give me a calling, the answer came shortly in a sermon that my pastor gave that talked about Paul and King David being ready writers. I felt that still small voice ask me Will you be my ready writer? My answer, was yes! I really didn't think about how little I liked writing. But it's been a slow development over time, creating the writer.
 
The first thing I ever wrote aye? Thinks back a long time…
My first non-fiction work was the story of how we got our dog Petey.
My first fiction work The Skunk Story.
My first attempt at a novel, Story of a Saxon Lass.
My first complete novel, I am Louisa.
 
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Don't give up, follow your calling and you dreams. Pursue writing with all of your heart, God will open the doors of impossibility.
 
 
Describe what Annabeth's War is to you in five words.
Loyalty, faith, dedication, friends, enemies,
 
Thank you so much for letting me interview you, Jessica! 
 
To my lovely readers: do you want to know more about Jessica?  Visit her superly-duper blog (the festivities for Annabeth's War are still going on, I think!) and buy Annabeth's War from amazon.com or get signed copies (how awesome is that?) from etsy.
 
Off to see if my copy of Annabeth's War had arrived...
~Maria

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12/12/12

Today... the date is 12/12/12.  It hasn't been that in a hundred years and won't be that for another hundred.  The last repeating digit date in our lifetimes...

Today... there are giveaways of the beautiful new book Annabeth's War at Safirewriter and Seek Him First.  Technically this has been happening all week, but you can enter today if you haven't already.

Today... I was so delighted at having finally gotten a snowflake-shaped cookie cutter that I made shortbread cookies.  I was planning to frost (pun not intended :P) them with light blue icing, but we ate them instead.

Today... er, tomorrow, I will be watching The Hobbit. I suppose all you fans know that it comes out on the 14th?  Well, the theatre nearest us will be showing it at 10 PM on the 13th.  No joke.  We have our preordered tickets to show for it. We're thinking that the come-out-on-the-14th doesn't apply to Canada. I can't say that I object, though. :D

Today... I'm sleepy.  I've been sleepy most of the day.  And I have nothing more to say.  (Sink me, I'm a bit of a poet!)  So a very good day, evening, morning, or whatever it is, to all of you.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Tolkien Tag

Being naturally very excited for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, I was delighted to be surprised by the announcement that Nessima is hosting an unexpected, Tolkien-themed, blog party.  Yay!  Something Middle Earth-ish to do while I'm waiting for the day that I'll be able to see The Hobbit!

An Unexpected Blog Party

1. How did you first hear about LOTR & The Hobbit? I can't exactly say when.  My earliest memories of it is a very fat dark blue book with gold letters and something about rings.  I thought the rings were sort of like the rings around Saturn. :P

2. How many times have you read LOTR/The Hobbit? Or have you yet to read it at all? Both twice.

3. Would you name your child after a character from it?  I'm a name nut, so I have considered it.  But, say I named a boy Aragorn Legolas (WHAT a combination!  Don't worry, I wouldn't.)  He'd get teased like crazy.  He'd want people to call him by an 'ordinary name' (I had an unusual nickname when I was young and I didn't like it one bit.)  He wouldn't actually be introduced to LOTR until after years of us calling him Aragorn Legolas and it might prejudice him against it.  So, no.  I'd give my kids not too weird names that could be adapted to suit them.  Still, I'd consider Aragorn as a second name.

Okay, away with this nonsense about Aragorn Legolas.  Truth is, I've been very close to having Eowyn on my list of must-use-as-first-names.  But for the same reasons as above, I probably won't.  But I love so many of the other names: Galadriel, Thorin, Arwen, Faramir, Eomer...

Second name material, peoples.

4. What are your thoughts on Tom Bombadil? Do you think he should have been in the movie?  The movie was, after all, only a movie.  It couldn't get everything, and while Tom Bombadil is an important figure if you really want to understand LOTR, it doesn't contribute much to the plot.  The real fans will read the book anyways and the movie, I think, is better without it.

5. Do you have a favourite piece of poetry from any of Tolkien's books?  I have a feeling some of the poems in LOTR would have been my favorites, but the last two times I read it I was more interested in getting on in the story than reading the poems.  I know, shocking, especially for one who professes to love poetry.

6. Have you read any of Tolkien's work besides LOTR and/or The Hobbit? A couple of the Unfinished Tales and right now I'm starting The Silmarillion.  Even better then I hoped, it is, precious.  Oh, and long before I cared about Tolkien I read Mr. Bliss.


7. Can you write in the Tengwar?  Unfortunately not.  However, I have found several different (free!) Tengwar fonts to put onto my laptop. 
Let's all look at the beautiful inscription on the One Ring for a while...

8. Were you at all disappointed that Prince Imrahil wasn't in the movie?  I would have loved to see more footage in The Return of the King and that would have probably included him, but I don't care for him other than as a minor figure who has a little to do with Eowyn, Faramir, Aragorn, and nice Gondor-ish things 

9. What would happen if you and Denethor were put face to face? Frightened smile, curtsy.  That is, if we met in an ordinary situation. If there was Something happening, or we got into a conversation, I would thoroughly berate him about his unfair treatment of Faramir and give him quite a tongue-lashing on how he's not even fit to be Aragorn's stablehand.

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10. Would you rather reside in Edoras or Minas Tirith?  Minas Tirith is tempting, but no.  If you're going to give me one of them, give me Edoras.  All that beautiful, Old English sort of culture.  And Eomer.  Queen of Rohan sounds quite nice, don't you think?

11. What think you of Éomer's armour?
'Tis a little strange at first, but very Rohan-ish when you get used to it.  I likes it.


12. What do you think of Boromir? Poor guy.  He was more susceptible to the power of the Ring, and his dad had told him to get it, and he had had firsthand experience fighting against Mordor.  He knew it wouldn't be as easy as Frodo imagined.  "One does not simply walk into Mordor!"

What it really says in Google Maps!  Amusing, isn't it?
The bits of his relationship with Faramir in the extended edition is sweet, although I could be ready to knock him in the head when he first meets Aragorn.  But then you see bits of him playing with the hobbits and getting into an almost sort of friendship with Aragorn.  And then he dies.  That was a sad, sad, scene.  And his last words in the movie...  I like those kind of sad scenes.

13. Which is your favourite LOTR couple: Sam & Rosie, Aragorn & Arwen, or Faramir & Éowyn?
Aragorn and Eowyn.  Not allowed?  Oh, all right, Faramir and Eowyn.  In the book, though.  Even the extended edition has only a measly little bit of them together.  Did you know that they filmed a whole Faramir/Eowyn wedding scene, but never released it?  I would SO love to see that. 

14. Did you shed any tears when Thorin died? It ruined The Hobbit for me the first time over, but I don't recall actually crying.  It takes a looong, drawn-out scene to do that to me.  Like the Grey Havens in the Extended Edition.  *sniffle*
 
15. Which is most terrifying of the following: orcs nabbing you in your sleep, giant spiders crawling out of dark tunnels and forests, Nazgul standing right over where you're hiding, or a ghost army that doesn't like you very much? Nazgul.  Or maybe the orcs, because they've caught you already, but you still have a chance of not being caught by the Nazgul.

16. How well would you enjoy life as a hobbit? Would it be preferable to being something like, say, an elf? Or a Ranger?  Life as a hobbit would be tolerably-tolerable, but I'd have to be one of the Tooks (not Pippin's sister, though.  He would be a brother not to be borne.)  Rangers have a certain charm, because, of course, that's what Aragorn was.  But that would be a little too dangerous for me.  Elves... now, that's perfect.  If I could be anything in Middle Earth, I'd be one of the Lothlorien elves.  With frequent visits to Rivendell, of course.  That would be preferable even to being Queen of Rohan.  Unless I could be both.  Of course, I'd have to give up my Elvenness like Arwen did if I married Eomer, but I wonder if I even could...  Were any of the elves of Lothlorien were descended from Beren and Luthien?  Let me look up Half-Elves.  Let me see, Galadriel's daughter's husband (Elrond) was their great-grandson.  I guess some Half-Elf blood got into Lothlorien. 

Sooooo, if I was in Middle Earth, if I was a Half-Elf, and if I wanted to marry Eomer, I'd have to give up my Elvenness to do so.  Not nice at all. 

But wait.  Tuor, one of the few men who married Elvish women, was given, as a 'unique exception' the chance to become an elf himself.  If Tuor could get a unique exception, why not Eomer?

Teehee.  Please tell me I'm not the only one who finds finding obscure bits of Middle Earth history delightful.

Have you watched LOTR or read any of Tolkien's works?  What did you think of it? Don't forget to go to Arda Nessimava to see the rest of the Unexpected Blog Party!