Author: Allison Grace

Oliver Twist: A Lesson on Satisfying Endings+Meet the New Blog Mascot!

Oliver Twist: A Lesson on Satisfying Endings+Meet the New Blog Mascot!

Warning: This post contains spoilers for Oliver Twist and Star Wars: A New Hope.

Dickens’ classic, Oliver Twist, is a novel full of darkness and despair. But that evil is lessened by the hope found in little Oliver himself. No matter the tragedy, he maintains his sweet, hopeful innocence.

Because of these incredibly dark themes, the ending needs to be bright and happy. Otherwise Dickens’ readers would be depressed for days.

While I personally enjoy bittersweet endings the most, I was satisfied by the conclusion of Oliver Twist.

How did Dickens pull off this “happily ever after” ending?

 

The Good Guys Win

As humans, we have God’s Law written on our hearts. (Romans 2:14-15) Even an atheist knows that murder is wrong.

Because of this, we have an innate sense of justice. We want to see good win and evil be punished. Dickens understood this and used it to his advantage.

He doesn’t cheapen the ending by making the heroes win too easily. They have to overcome many huge obstacles in order to achieve victory. Oliver finds a home. Rose finds love. Mr. Brownlow finds the long lost family of an old friend.

 

The Bad Guys Lose

The antagonists in Oliver Twist are utterly despicable. They tried to corrupt Oliver, to lead him into a life of thievery. And after 400 pages of watching them spread their influence, we’re ready to see them punished.

Bill Sikes, the murderer, is dead. Fagin, the ringleader, is in prison, waiting to be hung. Mr. Monks leaves the country and travels to America. Mr. Bumble is in the workhouse.

After the last page, we can breathe a sigh of relief. None of these characters will be back to torment Oliver anymore. They are all dealt with. There is no loose villain running around.  (*cough* Unlike the ending of my first novel. *cough*)

 

How can you create the same kind of ending in your own story?

First, determine what your reader wants from the ending. If it’s a romance, they’ll want the two characters to get married. If it’s a mystery, they’ll want the culprit to be found.

Each genre has a certain set of expectations.

After reading the dark themes of Oliver Twist, I wanted a happy ending full of hope for the future.

Of course, there will be stories where you don’t give the reader what they want.

 

Deal out justice to the villains, or at least give them closure. Sometimes killing the villain at the end of the story is not what you need to happen. Perhaps you’re writing a series and he or she needs to return in book two.

If that is the case, be sure the reader leaves with a sense of resolution. Meaning this, don’t let the villain just slip off the page never to be see again until book two. Sure, leave a teasing loose end, the kind that people love, but don’t leave a glaring plot hole.

For example, at the end of A New Hope, Darth Vader is flying around in his Tie-Fighter somewhere. But we still feel closure because the Death Star is blown up. Yes, Vader disappears for the remainder of the story, but the main threat has been destroyed.

In Oliver Twist, Monks goes off to America. He disappears. But the other antagonists, the more active ones, are all dealt with.

 

Don’t just settle for the easy way out by killing off your antagonists. Like I said in the previous point, sometimes it just won’t work to kill them at the end. Sometimes you need to handle them another way.

Maybe they are in prison for life. Maybe they are exiled.

In Oliver Twist, Mr. Bumble doesn’t die at the end. His status in life is simply lowered. He becomes one of the workhouse people he had taken advantage of at the beginning.

 

It will take a lot of effort to craft as great an ending as Dickens did, but with a lot of practice we can do it ourselves!

 

 

Meet Oliver!

Oliver the cat, that is. 😉

With his green eyes, tiny bow-tie, and one white paw, what’s not to love?

 

Oliver
Oliver loves to play with the coins on Scrooge’s desk.

 

Oliver
When it’s time to play, his favorite place is Madame Defarge’s knitting basket.

 

Oliver
His favorite place to nap is in the folds of Miss Havisham’s wedding gown.
Taylor Writing Conference Recap!

Taylor Writing Conference Recap!

Last weekend, my mom and I went to the Taylor University Professional Writing Conference again. We went last time and met DiAnn Mills!

And as I usually do, here is a recap post (with pictures).

(header image from last year)

Day One

We left on Friday right after an early breakfast. I drove the whole 3 hours there, including through the maze of construction.

Before the first session began, Mom and I perused the book tables. While we were doing so, my friend from the last Taylor conference, Rebecca, found us. We had kept in touch and were excited to meet up again. That’s the second time this year I’ve started a writing conference off with a hug!

Rebecca and Allison
Rebecca and me!

After several sessions on platform, plot, and characters, I had a one-on-one appointment about social media. One-on-ones are personal appointments with various speakers, agents, or editors attending the conference.

We talked over my email list numbers and she said they were really good! Thank you all for making that happen! ❤

Bill Myers
One of the keynote speakers, Bill Myers.
Angela Hunt
Angela Hunt, the other keynote speaker.

 

Then we had dinner in the college cafeteria. Mom almost lost her sandal because the floors were so sticky! We sat with a Taylor grad and she said the floors have always been that way. Her theory was they cleaned with soda.

After dinner, Mom and I went to a group meeting with other fantasy writers. There were about 25 other people in the group and we talked about our writing struggles and shared some resources to help with those issues. This was the first time they had done this at Taylor and I really enjoyed it. It was very encouraging!

Mom and I stayed at a hotel instead of the dorms on campus. We were just about to go to bed when the fire alarm started going off.

Mom went out to the lobby to see what was going on and learned someone had taken a steamy shower and set off all the smoke alarms.

Needless to say, it took a while for me to calm back down.

 

Day Two

Allison and Garfield
It is a truth universally acknowledged that when you come across a strange statue, you must take a picture with it.

We ate breakfast in the cafeteria. I got a piece of bright orange bread. It was orange creamsicle flavored and I only had one bite.

Orange bread
The orange bread of doom. 

After a couple other sessions, I had another one-on-one appointment, this time with Angela Hunt. She and I talked about my recent struggles with Checkmate, plotting, and some “weasel words,” which are words that add nothing to the story or are simply vague. I had gone to her session on “The Plot Skeleton” and we discussed using that outlining method to fix Checkmate.

Allison and Angela Hunt

I brought a sample from Checkmate and she pointed out some flaws as well as some highlights! It was very encouraging and helpful to get a critique from a professional author.

I also brought one of her books that I had read and got it autographed!

Allison Grace and Angela Hunt

Then it was off to lunch. Angela sat with us! I had a blast talking with the other two young people at our table about writing. (One of them was in the fantasy group the day before.) There was an ice cream machine so I got to make myself my own cone.

 

Overall, I really enjoyed going to Taylor with Mom. I got some good advice and hopefully made some new friends!

Fun Fact: On the way home, we stopped in Van Wert, Ohio to get dinner. Van Wert is named after one of the three men who captured British Major John André, a spy who helped Benedict Arnold. There’s a sign right by the Arby’s we ate at, but I didn’t get a picture of it.


Allison Grace blogs at allisongracewrites.com

Writing is Really Hard (but also really fun)

Writing is Really Hard (but also really fun)

When I was younger, I don’t know where I thought books came from. I remember being frustrated that the next book in a series wasn’t out yet and that I *gasp* had to wait.

When I started writing, I was under the impression that real writers sit down at their computer with a cup of coffee, type up a couple chapters of perfect prose, and finish their book in a week or so.

It all seemed so simple. I knew how to type. I knew how to construct sentences. I’d read a bunch of books. How hard could it be?

Really, really hard.

And if you, like me, have believed the lie that writing is easy, I want to encourage you with this truth:

Writing is incredibly hard.

Super encouraging, right?

Writing isn’t for the fainthearted. Just like learning an instrument, it takes dedication, passion, and persistence.

Some days I’d rather clean the bathroom with a toothbrush instead of writing. Some days all I write is trash and deserves to be thrown into a bonfire.

But if that was the end of the story, we wouldn’t have any writers.

Since there are thousands of writers out there, obviously there must be a better side to writing life. And lucky for us, there is.

Writing is incredibly fun.

Some days I can’t stop writing. The words just flow from my fingers. Some days every sentence I write is pure gold and I’m sure my novel is better than any that Dickens or Lewis wrote. Some days I’d like to forgo eating so I can keep writing.

Days like those make me think that writing is easy. I feel like a “real writer.”

But then the next day comes and with it storm clouds that black out the sunshine of inspiration. Every sentence becomes drudgery. Discouragement swallows up all our confidence. Writing sucks.

This is the point where writers groan, “Why isn’t this working?” And here, many people give up.

This is the greatest juxtaposition of the writing life.

I like to describe it like the waves in the ocean. If you’ve ever been to the beach, you know that the sea is never still. There are continuous waves. Some have enough power to knock you down and others barely lap at your feet.

Writing is like that. You’re trying to build a sandcastle at the edge of the sea.

Between the waves, you make a lot of progress. Little bouts of discouragement sweep away some of the sand. Then a big one comes and destroys your motivation to keep building, to keep writing.

And here you have two choices:

  1. Give up
  2. Keep going

You can just abandon the sandcastle to the waves. Or you can build a wall around your castle to protect it from the water and keep going.

Sometimes there will be longer times when writing is nearly impossible. It’s like at high tide. You can’t get to where you were before. You might even be back to where you started your writing journey. And sometimes, high tide will last longer than expected.

But the ocean always returns to low tide. You won’t be stuck in the hard part of writing forever. Soon the moon will draw the waters back and you’ll enjoy writing again.

And the discouragement of high tide makes the productivity of low tide even sweeter (though it’s still salt water).

 

Allison Grace blogs at allisongracewrites.com

 

Plot Twist! A Writing Update

Plot Twist! A Writing Update

Good morning, friends!

Just like a good book, life has unexpected turns and “plot twists.” And recently, I had one of my own.

After much prayer and thought, I have decided to lay off working on Checkmate for a while.

Let me explain why:

When I first started writing CM, I had very little knowledge of writing. I was arrogant and rejected a lot of the advice that I received. I wanted to do it my way, so I did.

They said don’t write fantasy for your first book. I wrote fantasy.

They said don’t have more than one POV for your first book. I had four.

They said outline, it will make it easier. I scribbled out an outline to say I did it, then threw it out the window.

While I don’t regret writing fantasy, I do wish I had stuck to one POV and spent more time plotting. I took on too much for my first attempt at a longer project.

One of the main flaws in my thinking was this: “Because I’ve read so many books and seen so many movies over the years, I don’t need to study plotting.”

Wrong.

Some of my friends can testify to me saying that to them. But as I started editing CM and looking at it from a critical perspective, I started to notice the flaws.

Because I hadn’t plotted, the storyline isn’t correct. And I also realized I had the wrong main character all along. I had never connected to the supposed main character, but really liked a secondary character. It turns out that the secondary character is the actual hero of the story.

While I’m sure that at some point I’ll be able to fix the problems with CM, I can’t do it right now. And there’s a point where trying to fix it will just make the issues worse, much like trying to untangle a pile of yarn—the more frustrated you get, the tighter the knots become.

I haven’t spent as much time as I should have studying the craft and learning about writing. There’s a lot of things I don’t know and a lot of things that I need to practice before I would try to implement them into CM.

I’ve been working on CM for two years. And I love every second I poured into writing it.

I’ve learned a lot and had tons of fun creating characters, crafting plot twists, and just simply writing. I learned how to write consistently, how to write when I don’t feel like it, how to bounce back from burnout, and many other valuable lessons.

While I’m really sad about giving up CM, I know taking a break will make me a stronger writer. In a few months, I plan on re-evaluating and see if my thoughts are still the same.

 

So, what will I be writing now?

Well, ever since I started this blog, it’s taken a backseat to CM. It’s time to invest more time and energy into writing posts. I’m tired of scrambling to write posts Friday so they can go up on Saturday.

But no more.

I’m working on a “vision statement” for blogging, to help me hone my focus and serve you all better!

Nonfiction writing is going to become more of a priority for me. I’m hoping to guest post more often and maybe get published on theReb again!

I’m also going to start brainstorming a new novel idea to practice on. I want to work on something without any tangles already in it so I can get better at writing. Then I can take what I learn and apply it to future novels, or maybe even CM!

I’m certainly not going to stop writing!

 

I hope you continue to walk this writing journey with me, plot twists and all!

 

 

Where’s Glendale?

This will be the final “Where’s Glendale?” post. Since he’s from CM, Glendale is also going on break. But this part of my blog isn’t leaving! In a couple weeks, there will be a new “blog mascot” up to the same antics as Glendale.

 

Glendale's "Glowing Away" Party
After a library program, there were a few tiny glow sticks left over. So I brought them home for Glendale, who decided to have a “lightsaber” duel with Yoda.

 

Writer’s Jargon: A Basic Dictionary

Writer’s Jargon: A Basic Dictionary

When I first joined the writing community, I was pretty much clueless when it came to writer jargon. When people talked about MCs, word sprints, and ships, I just skipped over those posts until I finally got enough courage to ask what those words meant.

Once I learned the terms, I started using them in my everyday conversations with my family. Then they had to ask me what they meant. 😅

So, I hope this quick guide will help you (whether you are a writer or not) to understand some of the slang us writers throw around.

 

Character Arc—A super basic definition is the inner change a character goes through over the course of the story. For example, in The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe, Edmund goes from being a brat to being a noble king.

Charries—Slang for “characters.”

50k—Writers like to share word counts and the most common way is in the thousands. A book hits novel status around 60k.

Love Triangle—A love triangle happens when there is one girl who has two boys she likes (or who like her). Then she has to decide who she wants to be with. Or vice versa, one boy who likes two girls (or they like him). I’m not a fan of these.

MC—This is one I use all the time. It simply stands for “main character.”

NaNo or NaNoWriMo—A yearly event in November where writers try to write 50,000 words in a month.

Pantser—Someone who writes without an outline, i.e. by the seat of their pants. (more on pantsers)

Planner—Someone who outlines. (more on planners)

Plantser—Someone who is a combination of planner and pantser. (more on plantsers)

Ship—I personally don’t use this one, but I know lots of writers who do. A ship is when you take two characters you think should get married and mash their names together. For example, there are a lot of people who think that Kylo Ren and Rey are falling in love (they aren’t, they’re either siblings or cousins 😉). So, they call the ship, “Reylo.” Weird, right?

WIP—Work-in-progress. This is whatever the writer is working on at the time. Sometimes, we have multiple WIPs at the same time.

Word Sprint—Now that I know what these are, I love doing them! Word sprints are when you and another writer set a time to write together (usually around 30 minutes or so), then after the time is up, you share word counts. Some people view them as competitions and try to get more words than the other person. Others use them for concentration and accountability purposes.

Word War—The same thing as a word sprint.

 

While this certainly wasn’t an exhaustive list, I hope it helps you understand more of the “slang” in the writing community.

Allison Grace blogs at allisongracewrites.com


 

Where’s Glendale?

Glendale plays cello
After abandoning his attempts at piano, Glendale found an instrument his size–a cello! Just don’t tell him it’s a Christmas ornament.
Liebster Award and Tell the Story Challenge!

Liebster Award and Tell the Story Challenge!

Two of my friends from The Young Writer’s Workshop, Eliana and Caleb, tagged me for some fun blog tags!

Eliana tagged me for the Liebster Award, so without further ado, here it is:

Liebster Award

 

The rules:

#1: Acknowledge the blogger who gave it to you and display the award.

#2: Answer 11 questions that the blogger gave you.

#3: Give 11 random thoughts about yourself.

#4: Nominate 11 other bloggers and notify them of their nominations.

#5: Ask your nominees 11 questions.

 

Thank you Eliana for the Liebster Award! Check out her blog here!

Her questions are in bold and my answers are in normal text.

 

Who are your top two favorite book characters?

  1. Jace from The Ilyon Chronicles by Jaye L. Knight
  2. For number two, it’s a tie between Prince Caspian and Reepicheep the mouse.

What is the yummiest candy in your opinion?

Chocolate. I also really love jelly beans and Peeps. (the marshmallows covered in sugar that come out around holidays)

Have you looked at clouds much? What is your type (e.g. nimbocumuli)?

I haven’t looked at the clouds very much. I’d have to say cumulonimbus. They’re just so cool!

Do you wear hats much? Why or why not? And what kind of hat?

I wear baseball hats all the time. (Go Indians!) Usually to keep the sun out of my eyes, or just to hide underneath of them. 😉

Is your head in the clouds a lot or are you sensitive to the real world around you?

Totally in the clouds.

Where do you get photos for your blog?

Most of them I get off of Pexels.com but a few of them are my own. The Glendale pictures I take myself, but my mom has taken a few for me.

What is your favorite bird?

I love birds! Maybe chickadees or peacocks. Or falcons.

What is your favorite number?

I like number 3.

What did you want to be “when you grow up” when you were younger?

My friend and I were just talking about this the other day! I wanted to be basically everything—firefighter, police officer, veterinarian, Jedi, etc. I never wanted to be a doctor, though. I hate all things medical. XD

What do you want to do “when you grow up” now?

Write and work at the library! I’m doing both right now. Well, I only volunteer at the library, but working there is my dream job.

Favorite school subject?

Either writing or reading.

 

And now for eleven random thoughts about myself:

  1. I hate seafood.
  2. I love baseball.
  3. I’m afraid of butterflies.
  4. I have eleven plants that are currently alive.
  5. I don’t know how to swim.
  6. I want to go somewhere like Montana to look at the stars.
  7. I’ve never been overseas.
  8. I almost always have my hair in a braid.
  9. I rode my first major inverted coaster this year.
  10. I want to learn to play cello.
  11. I’ve never been to Boston in the fall. 😉

 

I don’t know eleven bloggers, so if you haven’t done the Liebster Award before, I hereby nominate you. 😃

The 11 questions for you to answer:

  1. Do you enjoy yard work?
  2. If you could re-paint your bedroom, what color would it be?
  3. Have you ever been to the Pacific Ocean?
  4. What is your favorite Narnia book (or movie)?
  5. In general, do you like books or movies better?
  6. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
  7. Why did you start blogging?
  8. Have you ever been skiing?
  9. Do you have any autographed books? If so, which one(s)?
  10. Are you afraid of spiders?
  11. Would you rather eat shrimp ice cream or a bacon milkshake? Why?

 

Tell The Story Challenge!

The rules:

Pick an image out of the choices.

Write a short story, poem, or whatever that applies to that image.

Choose some other bloggers to do the same challenge.

Give your nominees a few more images to choose from.

 

I haven’t seen a blog tag like this one before, so I’m super excited about this! Thank you, Caleb, for tagging me! You can read his blog here!

Out of the choices, I picked this image, and wrote a poem about it.

Tell The Story Challenge

 

Let the misty fog roll over me,

Let it cover me in dew,

For on the broken mountain path,

I will rejoice.

For God is my rock,

My unshakable foundation,

And I will wait for Him.

 

As I tread the stony path,

I will never be alone,

For Thou art with me.

 

Until I reach the golden streets,

I’ll draw each breath with thankfulness,

For the grass

The flowers,

The sunrise,

The great misty mountains,

And Your ever greater grace.

 

I tag:

Eliana at: https://elianathewriter.blogspot.com/

Cheyenne at: https://thedancingbardess.wordpress.com/

Here are your three images. Choose one and write a poem or short story about it!

Tell The Story Challenge!

Tell The Story Challenge!

Tell The Story Challenge!

Allison Grace blogs at allisongracewrites.com


Where’s Glendale?

 

Glendale the Gardener
Glendale practices his green thumb with some of my plants. Then I proceeded to pry him off of the cactus in the lower right with a pencil. XD
Hope Prose Podcast Launch!

Hope Prose Podcast Launch!

 

The Hope Prose podcast is dedicated YA Christian books – the authors who write them and the readers they inspire. We upload new episodes once every two weeks and hope to leave our listens with sparks that ignite their own stories–whether their own or fictional. We want our podcast to be a place that inspires you to live a life of creative purpose through reading, writing or maybe even singing. Words are kinda our thing, and communication is one of the most powerful gifts God has given us and we want to stoke the fire in your own faith and creative journey.

 

About the host(s):

Tara K Ross Hope Prose Podcast

 

Tara K. Ross is a perpetual Toronto suburbanite, despite her best efforts to escape. She works as a school speech-language pathologist and mentors with local youth programs. She is blessed with a ridiculously supportive family that grants her time to create stories which tackle the interplay of faith and mental health. Her debut novel, FADE TO WHITE, will be published in the spring 2020. When Tara is not writing or reading all things YA, you can find her rock climbing the Ontario escarpment, planning her family’s next jungle trek or blogging.

 

Rebekah Black Hope Prose Podcast

Rebekah Black is a young writer from Southern California who is a lover of all things bacon and books. She is the co-founder of The Wilting Rose Project, an online girls’ ministry, contributor to The Rebelution, Fervr, Top Christian Books, and is a staff writer for TheLife.com. Her love for books borders on an obsession, but she regrets nothing. When she is not reading you’ll most likely find her either playing piano or guitar, working on her next novel, baking up healthy treats for her insanely supportive family, or fangirling over her favorite band, BTS

 


I know Rebekah Black through The Young Writer’s Workshop and I’m super excited about this podcast! I love listening to podcasts (or audiobooks) while crocheting and with this one being about Christian YA books, what could be better? I’ll definitely be tuning in for new episodes when it launches on July 8th!

Listen on iHeart Radio!

Hope Prose Podcast

 

Habakkuk: Everyone’s Favorite Minor Prophet!

Habakkuk: Everyone’s Favorite Minor Prophet!

Nestled between Nahum and Zephaniah, there is a little book called Habakkuk. It’s only three chapters long (56 verses), but very powerful. My dad once called it “everyone’s favorite minor prophet,” but it’s actually my favorite!

Our church just finished a four week series on Habakkuk. I’d like to share three things I learned with you.

1. There’s conflict between what we see happening in the world and our beliefs about God’s character.

When God told Habakkuk He was going to use the Chaldeans (the Babylonians) to judge Israel, the prophet was shocked. How could God use an evil and wicked nation to judge His people? Habakkuk said:

Your eyes are too pure to approve evil,
And You can not look on wickedness with favor.
Why do You look with favor
On those who deal treacherously [the Chaldeans]?
Why are You silent when the wicked swallow up
Those more righteous than they?
1:13

But God’s ways are often mysterious to us. We can’t always see how He’s working. But He still is.

Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD,
Or as His counselor has informed Him?
With whom did He consult and who gave Him understanding?
And who taught Him in the path of justice and taught Him knowledge
And informed Him of the way of understanding?
Isaiah 40:13-14

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,”
declares the LORD.
Isaiah 55:8

2. God welcomes our questions.

Never once in the book of Habakkuk is the prophet rebuked for questioning what God was doing. In fact, the name “Habakkuk” actually means “to wrestle.”

The prophet never tells God what He should be doing, he simply asks why God is doing what He is because of what Habakkuk knew of His character. Habakkuk wasn’t trying to take control, he was seeking to understand what God was doing.

 

3. Remember God’s faithfulness in times past.

The Bible isn’t just a book of stories, it’s a record of God’s work. When we worry that things won’t work out for our good, we need only to open the Scriptures to remember what God has done.

Chapter three of Habakkuk is a song written by the prophet, remembering what God had done for Israel in the past.

We can also look to our own lives for examples of God’s work. We’ve all experienced it–God’s providence, answered prayer, His blessing upon us, etc.

 

Finally, my favorite passage in Habakkuk are the closing verses:

Though the fig tree should not blossom
And there be no fruit on the vines,
Though the yield of the olive should fail
And the fields produce no food,
Though the flock should be cut off from the fold
and there be no cattle in the stalls,
Yet I will exult in the LORD,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
The Lord GOD is my strength,
And He has made my feet like hinds’ [type of mountain deer] feet,
And makes me walk on my high places.
3:17-19

All Scripture references taken from NASB.

Allison Grace blogs at allisongracewrites.com

Big News+Sneak Peek into Checkmate!

Big News+Sneak Peek into Checkmate!

On June 22, 2019, I officially graduated high school.

I’ve been homeschooled since kindergarten, so this is a big change for me.

Allison Grace Graduates

You might be wondering, “What’s next? Are you going to college? Getting a job?”

Well, my plan is to get a part-time job and focus on more writing. I’m really hoping there will be an opening at my local library when I start applying places.

Don’t worry, my blog isn’t going anywhere. In fact, I’m working on honing the vision and purpose of this blog. (Something I learned about at the 2019 YDubs Conference.) I’ll be posting more about this in a few weeks.

 

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for…

The Sneak Peak Into Checkmate!

For those of you who don’t know, Checkmate is my YA fantasy novel that I’ve been working on for just over two years. You can read more about it here.

Last Thursday, I finished the third draft!

*cue confetti*

Before upcoming edits, the word count stands at 83,421. That’s 249 Word doc pages (8″x11″).

I’m pretty happy with how this draft came out. It’s a million times better than the previous one. My family still teases me about the ending of Draft 2.

To celebrate, I tried very hard to find some non-spoiler snippets to share with you. Enjoy!

 


He stared at the bodies for a minute, moisture welling in his eyes and a lump creeping up his throat. He swallowed hard as he knelt beside his mother.

He ran a hand gently over her flaxen hair as he had done many a time as a child, brushing it away from her face. A tear slipped unchecked down his cheek. She always had a smile for him, no matter what. Her blue eyes would twinkle and her lips quirk in the most delightful way that made everything seem okay. But now her eyes were closed and her pale lips slightly parted, as if she were sleeping.

He squeezed his eyes shut for a second, pressing his fingers to the bridge of his nose again. Then he reached for her right hand and carefully removed the white opal ring she always wore. Apa had given it to her one year on their anniversary. She never took it off except on wash days. Then she wore it on a chain around her neck until the clothes were on the lines and the dirty water dumped.

He held it tightly in his hand, the gold fittings that held the stone digging into his palm.

***

“You hungry? I haven’t eaten dinner yet.”

Aris smiled. Leave it to Trev to think of food.

***

“We have gathered here to celebrate another year of peace. But, alas, Avendor is not at rest. Rebels attack and burn our villages. They kill innocent children.”

The crowd murmured. Kare grabbed the hilt of his sword. Liar.

“I have reason to believe that rebels are here, right now.”

Everyone gasped, then stared at each other, as if their neighbor’s mask hid a killer.

“Rest assured,” Dargrin said, raising his voice and motioning for silence with a hand, “there will be no incidents tonight. My men are prepared for any attack the rebels might have planned.” His gaze swept over the crowd and lingered on Kare for a second.

***

One word echoed above them all.

Run.

***

Brenson reached for his cloak, but it wasn’t there. Strange.

Then he noticed what the horse was eating.

“Give that back!” He snatched his black cloak away and eyed the gaping hole. “I have a mind to leave you alone over here.” He waved the fabric in front of the horse’s nose.

The stallion tried to eat it again.

***

So, why did you come? 

Because they needed hope. 

It hurt to admit it, even silently to himself. He was living a lie, pretending to be someone he was not. He was no king. He never would be.


Allison Grace blogs at allisongracewrites.com

 

Where’s Glendale?

Glendale learns piano
Inspired by the music at the YDubs Conference, Glendale has decided to take up piano.

 

Glendale playing piano
Though I’ve never seen it done this way before.

 

The YDubs Conference 2019

The YDubs Conference 2019

(Featured image and this photo credit: Amie)

I still can’t believe that I actually got to go to the debut YDubs conference in North Carolina last week. It was a dream come true. (If you don’t know what YDubs is, go here to check it out!

If I had to describe it in one word I’d say: SPLENDIFEROUS!

Everything about it was so inspiring, encouraging, and uplifting. For the first two days there was nothing but laughter and smiles (and lots of hugs). The last day included more laughing, smiling, and hugging, but also some tears.

But enough words, let’s have some pictures!

Simon in my backpack
While I was packing, Simon decided my backpack would be a good place to nap.

Day One: June 11

It took us 8.5 hours to drive down. Thankfully I had plenty of books to read and my laptop so I could write a bit. My brother and I watched “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.”

Allison Grace
My face is glowing with excitement as we near the JAARS campus.

As soon as I walked in, I was attacked hugged by one of my best YDubber friends, Chloe!

Allison and Chloe
(I’m on the right. Photo credit: Chloe)

 

 

Then I got to talk to Josiah DeGraaf, one of YDubs writing instructors and editor of Story Embers! I was really nervous, but managed to not make a fool of myself.

Josiah DeGraaf and Allison Grace
(Thanks, Julia, for taking the photo!)

 

After playing an ice-breaker game, we all settled down for the conference.

Tessa Emily Hall
This is Tessa Emily Hall, author and agent.

 

Kara Swanson and Allison Grace
Between sessions, I got the chance to talk to Kara Swanson, YA author and YDubs instructor! She signed my copy of “The Girl Who Could See”!

 

Josiah DeGraaf
A blurry picture of Josiah talking passionately about creating emotions with your words.

 

Pizza!
We had Little Caesar’s pizza for dinner! I took all my notes with that pen and notebook.

 

Amie, Chloe, and Allison
Two of my dinner buddies! Amie and Chloe!
Cupcake
For dessert, I had this adorable typewriter cupcake! The frosting was even YDubs blue!

 

Pyramid

After dinner, I stayed inside and tried to write. (I wound up watching two YDubbers both named Sam trying to get another YDubber’s little sister to play with them. XD) Meanwhile, the rest of the group was building a writer pyramid. (Photo credit: Leah)

 

Group
From left to right: Me, Saige, Robin, Savannah, and Olivia.

 

Day Two: June 12

Wednesday was the only full day of the conference, and boy, was it a blast.

 

Kara Swanson
Isn’t Kara’s laptop sticker cute?

 

Tessa Emily Hall and Kara Swanson
Real life author and agent duo, Kara Swanson and Tessa Emily Hall!

During the lunch break, Julia (violin), Maddie (flute), Parker (piano), and Sam (viola) had an impromptu concert. They played “In Christ Alone.” It was amazing!

YDubs Concert

 

Savannah, Chloe, and Allison
My lovely lunch buddies! Savannah and Chloe! (Amie ate with us too, but she playing violin with Julia at this point.)

Before we ate, Savannah and I explored the JAARS campus gift shop and I bought some handmade earrings from Uganda, a couple gourd animals from Mexico, and a couple postcards. I went back later and got a purse I had my eye on. 😀

 

Q and A
Q. and A. session with Marita Wilson, Tessa Emily Hall, Josiah DeGraaf, and Kara Swanson.

 

During the dinner break, we had another concert and this time I got to play!

It started with Parker playing hymns on the piano. Ever so slowly, everyone in the auditorium gathered around, taking pictures and videos. He’s a phenomenal pianist.

When Sam and Julia got back from dinner, they got out their instruments and started to play. I asked Maddie if I could borrow her flute and she let me!

The four of us played “It Is Well” in the key of D by ear. I think we did pretty good for never having practiced together, plus no music!

The “concert” might be my favorite part of the conference. Music has a way of drawing people together.

Concert
Sam was pretending his bow was a sword and attacking Julia.

 

Alexis and Allison
This is me and my new friend Alexis while we listened to the concert before I joined in.

 

Allison Grace at YDubs Conference
Me! (Photo credit: Alexis)

 

It was raining, so we couldn’t take our group picture outside.

Group Photo
I believe it was Addison who brought the photo mats for all of us to sign (a fantabulous idea). I’m in the very front row in the middle with the blue shirt that says “YWW.” And yes, if you count there are only 6 guys in the huge mass of girls.

 

Day Three: June 13

While this day was as fun as the others, it was also very sad. I think we all would have gladly stayed another few days (or months) and kept writing, playing music, and laughing together.

Marita Wilson
Me with Marita Wilson (a.k.a. an incredible person), another YDubs writing instructor. (Thanks, Addison, for taking the photo!)

 

Tessa Emily Hall and Allison Grace
Me and Tessa Emily Hall. She signed my copy of “Coffee Shop Devos”!

 

Costume Day
Thursday was also costume day. I didn’t dress up, though. (It also stopped raining so we did get a group picture outside! I don’t know how it came out yet.)

 

Cami, Maddie, and Chloe
Cami, Maddie, and Chloe in their costumes! (Photo credit: Maddie)

 

Allison Grace
A wacky selfie I took while no one was paying attention.

 

YDubs Conference
I took this photo just before the last session. I almost cried through the whole thing.

 

 

The conference has been the highlight of my year so far and I really hope if there’s one next year that I can go again. It was so much fun and I made many wonderful memories. (And next time, I’ll bring my flute. XD)

 

Where’s Glendale?

So, I brought Glendale with me and he sat in my backpack during the entire conference. Did I remember to get him out and take a picture with him?

No. Of course not.

So here is Glendale, in the line for an Arby’s in West Virginia on the way home. (They gave us 22 ketchup packets for four sandwiches.)

Glendale in West Virginia

Arby's Ketchup