A Rendezvous With Death

Okay, friends, ready for a morbid springtime appointment? Alan Seeger was a young American poet who fought with the French Foreign Legion in France from the beginning of the First World War. He was somewhat obsessed with the idea of his impending death–as you’ll see in this masterful poem. He was shot on July 4, 1916, enthusiastically leading his fellow-soldiers in a successful charge on the enemy. He was only 28 years old.

“I Have A Rendezvous With Death” is another long-time favorite of mine, and I’m so happy (in a sober, morbid sort of way) to share it with you. 🙂 Since I’m not a professional video maker or anything, please imagine that wonderful Wyoming wind is part of the dramatic effect.

Check out my other poems, and let me know in the comments if you have any suggestions of more poems for me to recite. I have lots of ideas and am thoroughly enjoying sharing these with you!

Hope you have a great week, no dangerous rendezvous involved!

Still alive and loving life,

Hannah K

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“The Children’s Hour” – Dramatic Poem

Back again with another dramatic poem! “The Children’s Hour” has long been one of my favorites, and the poem I pull out of my head for random talent shows or to impress people. (Poetry being one of my few actual talents!) 😀

Please excuse my fake English accent. I just can’t recite this poem in American, it feels wrong.

 

Isn’t that a wonderful feeling when those little ones you love come pile on you just begging for some extra hugs? Or maybe I’m just weird. I was babysitting 8 younger siblings last week and I had a few of these moments. But then there were the moments like if I have to wash one more sticky face I’m gonna scream! 😉 Those moments.

Please have a great week enjoying the little ones God brings into your life!

See you then,

Hannah K

4 Reasons To Write Creative Christian Teen Fiction

Google Christian Teen FictionHey, young people! Have you ever been looking for something good to read and googled ‘Christian teen fiction’? Well, don’t–it’s discouraging. You have about 5 to choose from (and a couple of those may or may not be actually written by Christian authors). Okay, I’m being pessimistic. But what really bugs me is when I search ‘Christian teen fiction’ on Christian Book Distributors. One of the top books is one I’ve read–and had to mark out countless swear words and rip out several pages of graphic sex and abuse.

That’s what Christian teens have to choose from? Seriously?

Okay, you know me, ever since I’ve been a teen I’ve been writing for teens. And this week I was thinking about it. Why do I write anyway? What are my goals, and how do I want my books to be different from what’s already out there?

Fiction for teens, creatively written from a Christian worldview.

  1. Why Fiction? Stories are messengers of truth. Jesus told short stories–parables. The idea was that the crowds were entertained and (most importantly) those who were actually wanting truth would get a glimpse of it and ask more questions. So fiction has two purposes–to reveal truth, and to entertain. Good fiction does both at the same time in a beautiful, natural way.
  2. Why Teens? I believe kids are incredibly smart, but of course they don’t know everything. Their brains are soaking up information–what they perceive to be truth about the world they live in. During the teen years especially, they’re asking questions. Forming beliefs about big issues like life, death, religion, politics, and eternity. Often, these beliefs will influence the decisions they make for the rest of their lives.
  3. Why Christian? So fiction reveals truth and teens are right now determining what truth is. What is the world doing about that? Walk through the teen section of any library or bookstore and you’ll see how the world is bombarding teens with their ‘truth’ (which more often than not, turns out to be lies). Lies like…
    -Love is all about sex and intimacy
    -Homosexuality is okay
    -You can be whatever gender you decide
    -Christians are narrow-minded and intolerant
    And the one I hate more than all the rest…
    -Follow your heart!
    (I know, it sounds so good! But Proverbs 28:26 says the person who trusts in their own heart is a fool. Whoops, guess the world got that one wrong…again.)

    All these lies and a million more are subtly sold to teens in the name of entertainment, and to me that’s just downright scary. Not to mention the high quantity of graphic violence, sex (or suggestive) scenes, foul language, and disrespect for God’s name often found in books for teens.

  4. Why Creative? Okay, this one is big for me. When I was 16 or 17, I picked up a YA book by a popular Christian author. The setting, plot, and characters were so-so, but the writing was awful. Not grammar and punctuation, okay, but just boring writing.  If you read Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me or Michale Byrne’s Lottery Boy and then you pick up a Christian book that’s like,  “Joe went into the store. He didn’t have any money. He wondered if…” Um, you’re going to do what I did and say, scrap Christian fiction, I’m going to go over the shelves with a fine-toothed comb looking for something clean not Christian.It’s really sad if you think about it. Because I soon discovered it wasn’t just me–Christian fiction is kind of known for being poor-quality. Maybe it’s preachy, or doesn’t tackle tough issues, or just downright bad writing because the publisher accepted it. Either way, I want my writing to be different. God is the Creator of creativity, and we are his children. We have the Spirit of God inside us. We have access to the wisdom of the Wisest. We are here on this earth to glorify him! Why aren’t we buckling down to the hard work of writing and writing well? Why aren’t Christians known as the most brilliant authors out there?

Okay, I’ve said my piece. 😀 I’ve given you 4 reasons why I write. A sort of mission statement. I don’t have it all figured out, but I do have a vision. It’s something I’m working toward.

What about you? Are you dissatisfied with the fiction the world has to offer? Have you read any well-written Christian fiction lately? What are your thoughts on this topic? Let me know!

Until next time,

Hannah K

A Poem Just For You

Hello Friends! Today I’m sharing one of my favorite poems with you–not written out, but spoken aloud, as poetry should be. 🙂 “Opportunity”, by Edward Roland Sill. I learned this for English in 7th grade and have remembered it ever since. I didn’t really like it when I first learned it, but it’s had more meaning for me in recent years. This poem says you can’t wait for luck to come to you. Instead, you need to get out there and use the broken pieces you have as opportunities for success.

Watch and see for yourself!

What did you think? I hope you enjoyed that, because I really enjoyed making it. I’d like to do some more poem videos in the future. Any nominations? 😀

What is your favorite poem and why is it meaningful? If you tell me in the comments, I’ll try to learn it and do a dramatic rendition!

Now get out there and spot some opportunities buried in the sand. They’re waiting for someone like you to pick them up and drive them to victory!

Cheers,

Hannah K

Book Review: Counting By 7’s

My first book review! So bear with me. I have been reading a LOT of books lately, and trying to pick one of the best to share with you. Whether you love reading or you only pick up a book when someone makes you, I think you should give this book a shot.

Quick Look

Counting By 7’s, by Holly Goldberg Sloan (2013)
Find on Goodreads or Amazon

Willow Chance is a twelve-year-old genius, obsessed with nature and diagnosing medical conditions, who finds it comforting to count by 7s. It has never been easy for her to connect with anyone other than her adoptive parents, but that hasn’t kept her from leading a quietly happy life…until now.

Suddenly Willow’s world is tragically changed when her parents both die in a car crash, leaving her alone in a baffling world. The triumph of this book is that it is not a tragedy. This extraordinarily odd, but extraordinarily endearing, girl manages to push through her grief. Her journey to find a fascinatingly diverse and fully believable surrogate family is a joy and a revelation to read. 

My Thoughts

Okay, my brother and I were in Denver at a historic downtown train station waiting for a friend’s train to arrive, and we found a really cool bookstore to explore while we waited. I can’t go into a bookstore and not come out with a book (I know, an expensive habit), but this is the beautiful book I came out with.

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The Good

From the first page the prose really captured me. It’s a very unique perspective–that of a 12-year-old who is smarter than nearly everyone around her (I first thought she was autistic), but she’s not cocky about it. Just very matter-of-fact. Her dry, scientific observations and the reactions that she gets from others will make you laugh sometimes.

But Counting by 7’s wasn’t just a well-written character exposition, it had a structured, engaging plot as well.

The Bad

Okay, so some reviewers will say this book has clichés in the plot (parents killed in an accident, someone wins thousands of dollars, etc.), and I say, sure, but life happens like that sometimes. Maybe not all to one set of people, but then a story wouldn’t be interesting if everything was perfectly realistic. Others say Willow isn’t relatable as a character, throwing facts at the reader left and right. Like, who thinks like that? Yeah, maybe not you, but there’s a lot of people in this world, and I’ll grant it to Willow that there are some kids who are like that. I mean, I’m no genius, but I do walk around thinking half-French and half-Chinese sometimes, and diagramming sentences in my head. And other people are into things like subwoofers and radiation and Greek mythology and all kinds of random stuff I have no clue about. So there…

The Best

Counting by 7’s made me laugh and cry. It dealt with universal themes–things like grief, friendship, loneliness, and a longing for home. Things I could identify with that drew me into the story. And like Maya Angelou said good writing should do, it slid right through my brain and went straight to the heart. I haven’t read a book like that (besides my own, lol!) for a long time.

Survey says…?

5 of 5 stars to a book that grabbed me and took over my world for a couple days. Check it out and tell me what you think! Keep reading, keep learning, keep exploring this wonderful world God has given us!

See you next week!

Hannah K

Camp NaNo-What?

If you’re familiar with the NaNoWriMo, you know it’s a lot easier to spell than it is to say. And if you can’t say it you just end up spelling it out. “National Novel Writing Month”.  Well, July is Camp National Novel Writing Month (the official one is in November). I heard about it on July 1 (the day it started), and by the end of the day I had decided to do it.

I went around to friends and family taking a poll. Because I knew I wanted to write a novel in a month, but I wasn’t sure which one. The options? Three stories I have been wanting to write. What do you think? Here they are with their working titles.

Book #1: God’s Kid
When his uncle Marty goes on the run, 16-year-old Connor is forced to move in with his mentally-unstable mom in San Diego. Trying to understand his relationship with a woman who’s always rejected him, Connor begins to unravel a mystery that will send him and a handicapped child on a harrowing road trip across the United States in search for answers.
(A sequel to Marty’s Kid, the book I am currently trying to publish)

Book #2: Paris of London 
(Lol, you wondered why that was the name of this blog!)
Struggling to keep himself and his sister alive on the streets of WWI-era London, Paris accepts a job running messages for a shady man. By the time he realizes the spy organization he has entangled himself in, Paris has gone starry-eyed over a beautiful rich girl named Melody, whose father is influential in both politics and crime. As his job becomes more dangerous, his relationship with Melody gets more complicated, and his homeless friends begin calling him a traitor. Will Paris find a way out of the maze of fear and crime, to find a home with those he loves?
(This is more of a romance, a rewrite of a book and musical I wrote several years ago.)

Book #3: Zian’s Story
He’s a ghost child. The seventh child of poor farmers, non-existent in the eyes of the strict Chinese government and their famous one-child policy. She’s an American high schooler, sneaking around mountain villages at night, dropping Scripture booklets on doorsteps. In a twist of providence, he meets her and they are thrown together on a journey of harsh reality, danger, and love.
(I don’t know if this is a romance, adventure, mystery, or what–it’s a pretty recent idea based on some of my own experiences in China (plus imagination!))

Survey says…?

Well, the poll I took indicated Paris of London as the winner, so that’s the one I started. Honestly, I’d like to see all of these ideas as books someday, and I hope you feel the same! Which one is your favorite? And let me know if you are participating in Camp NaNo-Whatever it’s called, so we can encourage each other!

Remember today is a gift from God, you are a gift from God, and don’t forget to use those gifts God gave you!

Signing off!

Hannah K

 

Making a Movie

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Hello again, friends!

My 6 little siblings (ages 5 to 12) decided to make a movie. I got wind of it, and finding they already had come up with a plot (I hate plotting), I said, “Hey, do you need someone to write the screenplay?” Of course they did. (Actually they never thought of having a screenplay for their movie.) But anxious to use my cool screenplay software (Final Draft), I sat down and whipped up a few pages for them. It was hilarious fun to have little kids hanging over my shoulder, absolutely holding their breath to see what the evil horse rustler would say next, and bursting out in laughter at my (pitiful) attempts at humor.

They were very serious about this movie. Carried their scripts around and practiced every day. Finally the day of the shoot came, and they rooted through the house looking for Wild-West-era costumes and shoes other than sneakers. I lent them my boots, my skirt, my hat, my new vintage shirt (*wince*), my favorite blanket (for a shawl), my eyepatch (I’ve been saving for a rainy day), and a silk scarf I bought in Beijing. Yes, I was seriously invested in this film.

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It was my 5-year-old brother Isaac’s acting debut. He had fun getting into costume and playing the part of a little boy who witnesses a kidnapping and runs to the police with the news. With a lot of coaching, he performed pretty well. And hey, when you’re that cute, audiences are forgiving, right? 🙂 If I can get the rights I’ll post a link to the finished film so you can enjoy it. 😀

If you are very bored, check out some of the little films I made with my siblings when were little (see, with no TV or video games, kids get creative). Wealth is Worthless, based on a verse in Proverbs, was made in one afternoon when we lived in China. After that we did a big film twist of Oliver Twist, called An Olivia Twist. I wrote the screenplay for that one too, but unfortunately we never quite finished filming it.

In my brother’s newest film, War Movie, I appear only as a dead soldier lying on the battlefield. Actually that was my favorite role of any I’ve played in a movie. (You won’t see me in the trailer because I’m in the climactic shot!)

This is random, I know, but ah… the joys of summer! Ever been in a film or made one? Or wanted to write for one? Let me know in the comments!

Good chatting with you all! See you again soon!
Sincerely,
Hannah K

SUMMER!

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If you haven’t already heard my enthusiastic social media posts… I SURVIVED MY FIRST YEAR OF TEACHING! Four kindergarten kids graduated to first grade on May 26, and after the last kid was safely out the door, one teacher went running around the building screaming in delight. Well, I wasn’t the only one. After the lady teachers had got their screams out (the guys were a bit more contained), all the staff walked downtown for Subway and after that… freedom!

The following week I flew home to spend the summer with my parents and ten siblings (yes, I was expecting to relax!). Summer at my family’s house consists of reading, reading, and… what else? Besides a little summer school, a little swimming, hiking, and camping, and the occasional snack or movie, my siblings apparently plan to read all summer. Hey, that’s fine with me. The house is quiet, and I can write and read almost to my heart’s content. Everyone else is having their own private adventures (which is why books are so awesome)!

Because of the internet situation where I lived, I hadn’t submitted my book to agents or publishers for a while. Now that I’m home, I’ve set a goal (as of yesterday!) to submit Marty’s Kid to at least one agent or publisher a day. I’m still not sure where the future of this book will be, but I feel like I need to give it my best shot.

I’m glad God’s in control, and I’m happy waiting on his timing. I’ve probably already shown you this quote, but it is one of my favorites, and one of my best teacher-friends hand-drew this t-shirt for me.

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I’m loving the journey, especially the sunshine and relaxation of summer! How about you? Does your summer look busy or boring (or a nice balance)? What books are you reading (or writing!) this summer? Comment and let me know! And remember to thank God for the gift of another season. 🙂

I remain

Respectfully yours,

Hannah K

My First Rejection

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Today was a lovely Saturday. I went out to breakfast, went shopping with my friends, and didn’t spend a cent of money since I forgot my wallet (isn’t that nice?!). All my work in the little kindergarten classroom was done, so I hung out in my room reading about special education degrees, writing chapter summaries for another proposal, and of course, reading my book. 1st-grade-teacher Rhoda from next door invited me over for pizza, so I went over there and lamented to her about how hard a writer’s life is. (Only she’s an artist so she faces the same kind of woes.)

After dinner I went running around the block and came in through the front door to find a very strange letter addressed to me in my own handwriting. Oh yes, my Self-Addressed-Stamped-Envelope. “My first rejection!” I said aloud. Because I knew it would be a rejection, and I was okay with that. I had waited for this moment for so long–prepared myself, told myself it would be a cause for celebration, told myself I would enjoy it… And I did!

I went flying out the back door again, found Rhoda in the kitchen and nearly screamed. “I got a rejection! My first rejection!”

She was mystified. But she smiled at my enthusiasm, and hugged me, and said if I was happy she sure was happy for me. (The mark of a great friend, btw.) And in the next few moments, as I tried to hold back my tears of joy (or, I think they were tears of joy), I tried to explain to her what my first rejection means to me.

My first rejection means…
–I spent over a year writing, brainstorming, and researching for a book.
–I spent almost another year editing, submitting, pitching, writing queries and synopses, and organizing a professional proposal.
–I actually submitted my work.
–Someone actually read it (or, we hope so).
–I tried.
And most importantly…
–I CAN TRY AGAIN!

Have you ever received a rejection letter? If so, tell me about it! I rejoice with you, because even though deep down we would have liked acceptance (right?), a rejection letter means we are one step closer to fulfilling our dreams.

Two Lives

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2:00 a.m. shoveling snow for a little extra cash

Every writer lives two lives—the real-world life and the fictional life. The real-world life is boring but moves fast, the fictional one thrilling but often progresses very slowly. At least for me. Up until now this blog has focused on my fictional life—the world of my characters and story. But now that I’ve started submitting to publishers and agents, I’m spending less time writing more time in my real-world life. And I’m beginning to realize how cool real life really is.

Since I started this blog, I’ve lived in three different places, been in ten different countries, hung out with refugees in detention camps, cowboys on the prairie, and gangsters’ kids in the ghetto…you name it. If I could distil all my wild adventures into a coherent set of stories I would be a master indeed. And yes, I get tired of hearing, “Wait, you’ve been to [fill in the blank]?” (add an amused or disbelieving stare)

Yes, I have, and guess why I write. I write out of my experiences–not about them, but out of them. The beauty and magic and mystery and heartbreak of life forces me to write, to somehow explore it. Maybe make sense of it, or maybe just lose myself in wonder at the mysteries I won’t understand until, as 1 Corinthians says, we “know even as we ourselves are known.”

So from now on, you might find me posting about being a clown at a family fun night, or shoveling snow all night for 12 hours straight, or a kindergarten student asking me what a gallows is. (“If they just hanged Haman from there, then how did he die?”)

I hope you won’t mind. It’s all part of my writing—real or fictional. It’s part of me.

How does your real life inspire your writing life? Is there anything you see in your writing that is a product of a real life experience you’ve had? Please comment below—I love hearing from you!

In all of life, but especially your creative endeavors, remember it’s about the journey, not the destination.

“…to travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive, and the true success is to labor.”
~Robert Louis Stevenson~