Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Blog Interview with Willow and Darrion of "The Call"

Ooh, this is exciting! As promised, here is a special blog interview from writing sisters Willow and Darrion, who maintain their blog, "The Call." Enjoy!

1. Tell us a little about yourselves.
Willow: I'm a Christian introvert teenage writer who loves Lord of the Rings, cosplay, Doctor Who, Marvel, and photography. I'm two years the elder of my younger sister, Darrion. {Wow, that was a mouthful!}

Darrion: I consider myself an extrovert, a Bible believing Christian, an amateur photographer and artist, and last but not least, writer.

2. How did your blog “The Call” get started?

Willow: I originally entitled it "Many are Called but Few are Chosen", though we never really used it. I did two fanfics from the "Star Wars the Clone War's" and "The Codebearer's Series", but never really got into it. Then I joined a story blog called "The Story Club" where I wrote most of my story "Once a Pirate, Always a Pirate", a fanfic of Pirates of the Caribbean. I realized how much I loved writing, and reworked "The Call" into what it is now, to put my book "Friends and Enemies" on, and D wanted to get into the action finally. She'd wanted to originally, but didn't want to be a part of the blog until she had something to put on it, which turned out to be "The Watchmen Files", and we eventually added our friends Ammelia Gabriella and Billie Catherine.

Darrion: See above.

3. Aside from your fantasy stories, have you always liked writing fanfiction?
Darrion: Yes, in fact that's where our fascination with writing started with. We sort of inserted ourselves into the stories we loved (Star Wars and every other TV show or movie we watched) and always intended to write the stories we invented down. And that's how we started: our little imaginary ventures in written form. I think one of the best things about fanfiction is that you can make it what you want to. Actors interpret their characters in their actions and delivery of lines, but writers can do whatever they want. They can be all of the characters, they can make them act however they choose. And I love that.

Willow: What she said!

4. How do your tastes differ from each other in regards to your writing? Willow, I know you have “Friends and Enemies,” which is a wonderful fantasy story, and Darrion, you have “The Watchmen Files,” which is just a fantastic build-off of the Marvel Comic universe.
Willow: I really love fantasy, and the modern world, but I do think that I like writing fantasy more than D does.

Darrion: I think Willow's writing style is more conversational, and I like more description. I also really try to cram as much emotion into my characters as possible, and I love character development (even if it does mean someone has to suffer, which Willow does not prefer). I wouldn't say that either of us could choose one genre over the other, but I am really looking forward to making a fantasy tale, and Willow is also excited about a more modern story.

5. You are both such wonderful writers. Do you think it’s something you’d like to pursue as a career, if you could? Why or why not?
Willow: I would love to do that as a career, but there are other things I plan to that that writing would get in the way of. I still plan of writing for fun, more and more books will make their way onto our blog, but I doubt I'll actually turn it into a career.

Darrion: I would like to make it an on-the-side sort of thing, since I don't think I could live off of my writing. But I plan to keep at it as life moves on, and who knows where that will take me!

6. What do you guys like to do in your free time?
Willow: Surf pinterest, grabbing pins for books/future reference {hehehe} and search for Clara Oswald cosplay stuff, and designing book covers :) Just a few things!

Darrion: When I'm not on Pinterest (like Willow, snatching up ideas for stories), I enjoy sketching with pencil, mostly fanart, which I post on my personal/art/other blog, 'Sincerely Darrion'.

7. Yeah, I'm a Pinterest junkie, too. Just out of curiosity, are you both homeschooled or do you go to public school? You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to.
Willow and Darrion: We're both homeschooled.

8. That's what I thought. Takes one to know one, I guess. ;-) Who are your favorite book characters (could be from more than one book)?
Willow: I love Fanny Price in Mansfield Park, Fili and Kili from the Hobbit, Samwise in Lord of the Rings, Aravis in the Horse and His Boy, and Hope and Trista from the Hunter Brown books.

Darrion: Thorin Oakenshield and Bilbo Baggins from the Hobbit, Frerin from the appendix in the Return of the King (not so much what is written about him, since there really is hardly anything there, but what I imagine him to be like), Gimli from Lord of the Rings, and Edmund and Lucy from Narnia.

9. Who are your favorite on-screen characters (could be from more than one show/movie)?
Willow: Elsa in Frozen, Fili and Kili in the Hobbit Trilogy, Samwise, and Eomer in Lord of the Rings, Skye and Jemma in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Captain America and Hawkeye in the Avengers, Edmund in Narnia, and Clara and Donna in Doctor Who.

Darrion: Thorin and nephews (and Balin and Bilbo!) from the Hobbit (especially the Unexpected Journey), Mike Wazowski from Monsters Inc., Flynn from Tangled, Captain Rex and the rest of the 501st from Star Wars the Clone Wars, Anna from Frozen, and Captain America from the First Avenger, and more then I have room to mention here.

10. This might be inappropriate since you both incorporate worlds and themes from Lord of the Rings and S.H.I.E.L.D. into your writing, but… humor me. If you could live in another fictional world, which would it be and why?
Willow: Tough one, but Lord of the Rings. I'd love to live in Rivendell.

Darrion: Ouch, that's difficult... I think I'd want to live in Erebor, before the firestorm.

11. Finally, if you could have a conversation with any writer in history, who would it be?
Willow: I'd talk to J.R.R. Tolkien and ask him questions about the Hobbit, and have him sign our copy!

Darrion: I would do the same... Tolkien, tell me about the heart of every character in the Hobbit!

Thanks for the questions, Grace! You picked really good ones, and it was very nice of you to ask us :)

And I'd like to thank Willow and Darrion for participating in my little interview.  You guys were wonderful guests. :-) Click the link below to visit their awesome blog.


Monday, November 24, 2014

The Dragon Chronicles: Leia

Well this is embarrassing. Here I was hoping to give you guys a blog interview, but unfortunately I haven't gotten all my questions out, and the ones I have have not been responded to yet. No worries. Instead, I present to you a short story entitles The Dragon Chronicles: Leia. Enjoy!

Leia measured the sun’s position as it pertained to the height of the trees, then turned back to glance at the mountains, and then back to the sun again.

            “We’re lost, aren’t we?” said Natalia, sounding unsurprised.

            “No we’re not,” assured Leia. She blew a strand of brown hair out of her face. Her wings drooped a little, betraying her uncertainty. “The cove is just… this way.” She pointed to a gap in the trees that looked somewhat familiar, and she and Talia flew towards it, the hedgerow a cool, dark, luscious green. The fairy sisters zipped through the leaves and for a moment Leia was confident they were going the right way… until they came to the river. For the third time.

            “Great!” said Talia, exasperated. “We’re lost.”

            “We are not lost.” Leia flew high above the trees and shielded her eyes from the sun’s glare.

Talia’s voice appeared beside her. “I thought a graduated fairy was supposed to be a highly intelligent keeper of nature. You don’t even know where north is!”

Leia brushed away her comment. “Don’t be ridiculous. It’s that way. And besides,” she added, flying toward a maple tree she thought she recognized. “I am an intelligent keeper of nature. We’ve been trained to pinpoint locations instantly.”

“Instantly, huh? Well, we’ve been flying around for fifteen minutes. How is that instant?”

Leia rounded on her little sister sharply. “Oh, will you stop it? I could find my way out of this forest blindfolded.”

Talia crossed her arms, her blue eyes narrowing under platinum blonde bangs. “Then maybe we should blindfold you. It would probably get us home a lot faster. We weren’t even supposed to go this far. Mother said to stay by Make-A-Wish Falls.”

Leia was about to respond when she spotted a dark figure over Talia’s shoulder. Eyes widening, she grabbed Natalia and dove just as the hawk’s claws missed them. “Hurry!” she yelled as they dashed away from the hungry bird. Leia heard the bird’s angry cries and could feel its wings beat against the wind as it gained on them. Sparing a glance at Natalia, she saw her sister’s wide blue eyes frozen in panic even as her wings pushed her faster and faster. “To the river!” Leia called over the wind.

Talia nodded stiffly and they both straightened their arms against their sides, piercing the air like bullets.

They were close now, the river a mere stone skip away, when suddenly the hawk swooped in front of them, spreading his wings like a phoenix rising from the ashes. Leia spread her wings wide to stop, but Talia soared straight into the hawk’s embrace. Grabbing her by the wings with his beak, the hawk gave a gargled squawk and started to rise.

“Put me down!” Talia cried, thrashing in the hawk’s mouth. But the hawk shook her once her cries reduced to a whimper. Pulling wings was like pulling hair.

Leia watched in silent horror as her sister shrunk from view, helpless in the predator’s clutches. Looking around, she only saw a few pinecones, some pebbles, and a cluster of mushrooms. She needed something to help Talia. She needed something to fend off the hawk. She needed something now! And then, out of the bushes toddled a brown and grey porcupine, its pointed face nuzzled to the ground, searching for food. Suddenly inspired, Leia raced to the porcupine and hovered carefully above it. She reached for one of the spines, but the animal wouldn’t stop moving. Talia screamed again.

“Sorry, mister,” Leia said. “But this is gonna hurt.” Grabbing a handful of spines, Leia yanked with all her might until they came loose in her hand. The porcupine yelped but Leia didn’t wait for his scolding. She sped toward the hawk brandishing her spines.

The hawk only realized what was happening an instant before it came to be.

Leia jabbed him sharply with all three of the spines and the hawk gave a pained cry. Talia dropped from his mouth. Seizing her hand, Leia and Talia flew toward the hedgerow and waited until the hawk disappeared from view before braving the skies again.

Leia stuffed the porcupine spines into the back of her belt. She was sure she could find another use for them. Turning to Talia, she saw her sister’s cheeks had grown a tender pink, her bangs hiding her dark blue eyes.

“Thanks,” said Talia, sheepishly.

Leia smiled and blew another strand of brown hair out of her face. “You’re welcome.”

“I’m sorry I was mean to you before.”

“It’s okay.”

There was silence for a few moments before Talia spoke again.

“So… how do we get home now?”

Leia pondered, her gaze drifting to the laughing river. “Maybe if we follow this,” she said with a gesture to it, “it will lead us to Make-A-Wish Falls. Then we can find our way home from there.”

Together the two sisters drifted above the water, enjoying its’ sound and the peace it brought. Leia spared another glance to Natalia. She had been very close to losing her today. The thought made her want to hug her sister. But instead, she dipped a foot into the water and splashed Natalia in the face. By the time they reached Make-A-Wish Falls, both of them were laughing and soaked. Thankfully the air was warm as evening came, the summer sky turning shades of pink and lavender. Before the sun had set, the cove came into view with its’ bustling populace of fairies. Leia and Talia made their way to their hovel, which had once been a mole’s home before the family converted it to a fairy home after the mole’s departure. Mother only looked slightly taken aback at the state of the sisters’ frizzy hair. Leia produced the porcupine spines and set them in the corner by the coat rack, which had been fashioned out of two paperclips twisted together.

“Where did those come from?” asked Mother with a knowing look.

Leia and Talia glanced to one another. Leia cleared her throat. “We found them… while we were… looking for algae. For the tadpoles.”

Mother smiled. “I see,” she said. “What else happened today?”

Talia looked down, but Leia only smiled and leaned casually against the compass which served as the dinner table. “Oh, nothing. Played in the river. Raced each other.”

“Uh-huh.” Mother turned stirred some kind of bluish mixture in an acorn bowl. “What a day. Why don’t you two set the plates for dinner,” she suggested. “You father will be home soon.”

Lei and Talia nodded and began the nightly ritual. Occasionally they would catch each other’s eye and smile or wink. And to think, all that adventure had come from a few minutes of playing a little too long.

What a day indeed.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

What's to Come

Hi everybody. So, just a little heads up, I'm doing a bunch of blog interviews that I'm hoping to post this coming week. The interviews will be from different authors and bloggers of various genres, what they like to do in their free time, who their favorite fictional characters are, what being a writer is like... all kinds of stuff. I'm trying to switch up the questions for each person, but you may see some of them repeated.
Be on the look-out for interviews from Mark Venturini, Tracy Krauss, Travis Perry, and Willow and Darrion, the authors of one of my favorite blogs, The Call.
Stay tuned!


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Disney Parents

What does Disney have against parents? If you’re in a Disney movie and you’re a parent, more than likely you are either single or dead. Why is that? There are a few exceptions, of course: Rapunzel’s parents in Tangled (though Rapunzel was separated from them most of her life); Aurora’s parents in Sleeping Beauty (same situation as Tangled); Prince Naveen’s parents in The Princess and the Frog; Mr. and Mrs. Darling from Peter Pan; King Fergus and Queen Elinor of Brave; and Fa Zhou and Fa Li of Mulan. This is not a complete list, but you get the idea. Compared to how many Disney movies have parents who are either single or deceased, the scale is remarkably unbalanced.

While this strategy may be handy in removing unneeded characters from the plot and giving some depth to the protagonists, the reasoning must go deeper.

Children are raised with stories of brave knights and dastardly villains, rescuing the princess or saving the village. In tales like those from Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm, kings or parents in general usually play a significant role in the story. But as fairytales have evolved, the role of the parent seems to have diminished to that of a prop in the background. No longer are fathers the voice of wisdom and reason. Mothers are so rarely ideal role models (take Mother Gothel from Tangled for example). While many other Disney themes are wonderfully imaginative and otherwise agreeable, their regard for parents has dwindled to something nearly nonexistent.

My dad works as a flight medic. One day he came home and was telling us about his interesting patients. He said a middle-aged man was moving a very heavy dresser in his bedroom and the dresser somehow fell on top of him. The drawers and knobs pinned his limbs in place, and the only things not being crushed by the very sturdy piece of furniture were the man’s head and one of his arms. His Mac computer happened to be sitting on the desk with the power cord running down the side. The man had gotten hold of the power cord and very carefully tugged the computer off the desk so he could type an e-mail to his mother telling her that he was trapped under a dresser and couldn’t reach the phone to dial 9-1-1. It was the man’s mother who had called for help for her son, but not until she read the e-mail… two days later. The medics stormed the man’s house and strategically removed the dresser while keeping pressure on certain body parts so the blood wouldn’t rush to his heart and give him a heart attack. The man was fine after a lot of medical treatment, but as my dad was relating this story to us at the dinner table, it struck us that the man would still be under that dresser if he hadn’t e-mailed his mother. And it made me realize that no matter how old you are or where you settle down, you will always need your parents.

I don’t think this theme is expressed enough in Disney films. The value of parents throughout our lives is not something that can be measured in dollars or pounds. And I don’t mean calling them when you need a recipe or you’re trapped under a dresser. My parents are people I want to be more like. People that others can depend on and look to for encouragement. I hope someday to have gained my father’s wisdom and my mother’s compassion. I hope one day I can understand what it means to be a good parent.

And while I still love Disney films and am all about strong female characters, it would be refreshing to see a more family-oriented tale from my favorite storytellers.