Monday, July 20, 2015

Review of The Choosing

Okay, guys. We have to talk about this book because it's awesome. Here's the description for The Choosing:
Like all citizens since the Ruining, Carrington Hale knows the importance of this day. But she never expected the moment she’d spent a lifetime preparing for—her Choosing ceremony—would end in disaster. Ripped from her family, she’ll spend her days serving as a Lint, the lowest level of society. She knows it’s her duty to follow the true way of the Authority.

But as Carrington begins this nightmare, rumors of rebellion rattle her beliefs. The whispers contradict everything she’s been told; yet they resonate deep within.

Then Carrington is offered an unprecedented chance at the life she’s always dreamed of, but she can’t shake the feeling that it may be an illusion. With a killer targeting Lints and corruption threatening the highest levels of the Authority, Carrington must uncover the truth before it destroys her.

Nice, right? The Choosing is dystopian, with some romance, and a little bit of crazy serial killer all mixed into a swirl of words, paper, and ink.

The book starts right in the thick of everything! As I read, I thought, "Wait, back up! Explain!" But there was no backing up, so I was immediately pulled into the story as Carrington's worst nightmare literally took place. After all her hard work, after following all the rules, after living her life perfectly for the Authority, her entire future and worth as a person is determined by some guy basically not picking her to dance at a grand ball. Okay, so it's a little more complicated then that. Then Carrington is sent to the lowest level of society to serve for the rest of her life. She can never marry. She can never see or speak to her family again. When Carrington is given a way out of the life she never wanted, she takes it not realizing this may be a worse fate.

Remko is devoted to the Authority. However, despite his best intentions, he falls in love with Carrington. After witnessing treachery and manipulation among the Authority, Remko begins to question everything he's held in such high esteem. Even though he comes a long way, Remko's story is far from done. I can't wait to see the challenges he overcomes in Book Two.

I loved how Rachelle Dekker also had these "Histories" included in the book. They explained how society got to this point, and I was disappointed when they ended.

What I loved most about this book was the message.

Your worth.

I want to make all the girls in the youth group read this book because this message is so important. Carrington had been taught her entire life that her worth was determined by a guy thinking she was marriage material at that exact moment. She comes to realize that none of that is true. Her worth comes from God. He loves her for her. She is beautiful in His eyes. Despite everything she has been taught, she is priceless. I know of no message girls and women need to understand more. Their worth is not determined by a man or by society. It comes from God alone, and because of that, you have all the worth in the world.

On top of everything else, you see people fighting to share "the truth." It felt so reminiscent of early church/apostles sharing the Gospel. I loved that. There were poignant conversations and deep spiritual questions that Carrington and Remko had to face. There was even a moving scene where one young lady died for God's truth.

I loved the ending. I love how Remko and Carrington choose the one thing society has denied them. Their choice.

And they choose each other.

This really was such a great book you guys. A lot of dystopian books are sold as Young Adult novels, and while they are all still AMAZING, The Choosing read differently. Maybe it's because of the spiritual meaning. Maybe it's because of the serial killer theme. Regardless, The Choosing was deeper then the average dystopian novel.

The Choosing by Rachelle Dekker is A Seer Novel, and is thankfully the first book in what is sure to be a promising series.

Great talking to you guys today! Check out this book, and then come tell me how much you love it, too! See you again on August 1st!!! :)

V. Joy Palmer

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Journey

Last time I talked a little about how even though writers love their characters, we still have to give them an identity crisis. We are going to continue that thought today.

So what comes after the identity crisis?

Authors build this up until the character reaches the breaking point, or the dark moment as Susan May Warren dubbed it in her popular coaching class for writers, My Book Therapy. The dark moment is the point when all feels lost, and the character's worst nightmare has come true.

Next comes the epiphany. It's that moment when the character realizes they've been putting all their faith in a lie. The character comes to a realization of the truth that sets them free!

Afterwards the character is a new man/woman! The best way to prove this to the readers is by some type of victory, test, reminder, battle, etcetera.

I was thinking about the stages we authors put our character through. It seems so mean, but really, it's life. We've taken our characters through the steps of salvation, through realizing who they are, and through overcoming the enemy.

Isn't that what God does with us?

Yes. Yes, it is.

We go through seasons of doubt, grief, trial, victory, joy, and peace. God, The Author and Finisher of my faith, takes me through all of that.

"Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."
Hebrews 12:2

Even Jesus went through the same stuff we do. There was joy and an awesome throne waiting for Him, but he had to endure the cross and our shame to get there. It wasn't an easy road for Him, but He walked it with God.

I know that in the thick of life's junk, it doesn't seem like there is some Divine Author with a master plan out there. If anything, if feels like there is some sadistic, angry person writing the story.

Do you guys know the "Footprints in the Sand" poem by Mary Stevenson? It talks about an individual who is having a dream. This person knows that the two sets of footprints belong to him and God, however, in the lowest points of his life, he only saw one set of footprints. The person asks God, and God says that of course He would never leave or forsake him. Really, the times when he sees only one set of footprints it was because God was carrying him. I have always loved this poem.

I saw this floating around on Facebook, and thought, "Yeah, that about sums it up."

"Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10

Despite everything going on around you, hopefully you realize that God is with you, sometimes carrying you, and dragging you when necessary. ;)  Really though, He's got your back, and no matter how difficult the plot twist seems, God has all the strength you need.

Writers take their characters through the same journey that you - a real person - would go through in life. Not because it's easier. Goodness, stories were so much easier when I could get away with saying, "They met, fell in love, and lived happily ever after." When I write a character's dark moment and epiphany, I am riding that emotional roller coaster, too. I do this because despite the fact that life is messy, when you've got God in the equation, there is hope. There is a point. There is a way to make it through life. With God that journey to the Happily Ever After moment in the last chapter is possible. It's how I push through the breaking point in real life and in my character's story.

And in each one of us, He's writing the perfect story. Sometimes the best reminder of that is someone else's fake story. :)

You guys are awesome! Thanks for hanging with me today. See you again on July 20th!! :)

(*Side note: I had to dig out one of my writing books for this post, you guys. You can find this information in Susan May Warren's coaching community for writers, My Book Therapy. Specifically The Book Buddy. This is such a great tool! Have fun!)

V. Joy Palmer

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Identity Crisis

I'm going to let you guys in on a secret. Writers love their characters. Seriously. We love them. (Well, except for the bad guys, or the ones we add for written revenge when people tick us off.) They're our friends. They're like family to us. They ARE people to us. We know their names, hopes, and deep, dark secrets. There isn't anything we wouldn't do for our characters.

We are also a little mean to our characters. We have to give them trouble and drama. And more often then not, we give them some type of identity crisis.

Identity Crisis
noun - a period of uncertainty and confusion in which a person's sense of identity becomes insecure, typically due to a change in their expected aims or role in society.

What am I? Who am I? AHHH!

We write out a lie, and the character believes it.

Why? Why does the character have to believe a lie that handicaps and traumatizes them?

Well, have you ever believed a lie that has handicapped and traumatized you???

Has someone ever told you have big ears so you try to hid them? Has someone ever told you that you are average, and for the rest of your life, you've strived to be more then average? Have the overlooking actions of others made you feel like you are always second pick? Have you ever believed anything contrary to being the amazing person God says you are?

"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." Genesis 1:27

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations." Jeremiah 1:5

"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light."
1 Peter 2:9

Those verses say all the lies we believe are indeed lies. You don't have funny ears because God created you in His image, and He doesn't have funny ears. You are so much more then the average chocolate chip cookie because God has called and created you. He has awesome plans for you! God picked you; you were never His second pick. You are all these amazing things.

But we all have our moments of identity crisis. We all have to work through them so we can come out of them remembering the promises God has spoken over us. We do this to our characters BECAUSE we love them, because they need to go through the same process of rediscovering how God views them.

And we do this for you, too. Because if you read a book about some annoyingly perfect girl, you'd probably burn it. ;)

I hope you all have an awesome Fourth of July!! I will see y'all again on July 10th! :)

V. Joy Palmer