Quote of the Weekend

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Courtesy of Pinterest.

I don’t know anything about the author of this quote, but I did find this quote beautiful and encouraging. Whose life turns out like you planned or thought it would? The point is to trust the writer of your story, and be content with how He is telling it.

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Meet the Muse: Jules

 

38126019_10217006309093806_7769612094915215360_nJulie-bear, this post is weeks late! I’m so sorry. Life is just so busy right now. But! I am so happy to have you my first of the Vincent Nieces and Nephews. You are the first. You made me an aunt, on our side. You are bright, happy, loving, creative! I love talking stories with you. I love your drawings. I love your every expanding imagination. I can’t wait to see you continue to grow into an amazing young woman. I love you, Julie! Happy Birthday.

Quote of the Weekend

 

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Courtesy of Pinterest.

This reminds me of the line from Rambo 4: Live for nothing, or die for something. Rambo 4 is my favorite movie, so I like seeing the connection between it and the Vikings. I think this is often the heartbeat of warriors, willingly dying for something.

What’s your favorite movie?

Huntsman and HearthKeepers

 

HuntsmanHearthkeepers

As you all know, I love warrior stories. That’s fairly obvious and I’ve talked about it before here. One of the unique-to-me-elements of my love comes from my experiences as a church member, pastor’s daughter, and now as a pastor’s wife. I hope you get the heart of what I’m saying here because it may seem a little self-aggrandizing, but it’s not meant that way. It’s meant to show why I love these stories: they’re my life experience.

I see my pastors through warrior-colored-glasses. I see them just as I see policemen, firemen, and the men serving on the front lines of our military. Pastors are shepherds. They’re here to train and defend the sheep. You don’t stop wolves with sweet words, but with well-made weapons wielded by well-trained men.

I view my husband as one of these great defending-shepherds, a SoulDefender if you will. This perspective puts me in the same rank as every woman who has ever sent her man out into the cold, dark night to risk his life for others. This type of woman isn’t super popular right now. Culturally, we love the warrior woman, the leader woman, she who herself goes out into the night, risking her life. I get it. The warrior/leader woman is dynamic, sexy, and powerful. She’s not trapped in a box, or a home, or quiet, but out active and engaged. Look, here is a woman who is as good as a man!

It gets old.

It gets old, honestly, because it’s one dimensional, physically and temperamentally. I’m not fit or muscular. I don’t have martial arts training or a strong constitution. I don’t like being in charge. The warrior/leader woman doesn’t speak to me because she isn’t me, or not me on many levels. It also gets old because it tends to communicate that homemaking is easy, and thus only lazy women or stupid women do it. It also communicates, even more subtly, that it’s fine to leave your children behind to be raised by someone else. You need to be out saving the world! That’s what mighty people do. They’re out saving. When in fact, mighty people are in rising. They stay in and raise their children.

Rabbit trail, but this is one of the things I enjoy about Joss Whedon. He creates dimensional women. He tries to show women in many different roles and honors them all. He can have Black Widow and Hawkeye’s wife in the same house and neither women feels put down by the other, nor belittled by the storytelling. Hawkeye’s wife is just as strong and mighty as Black Widow, even though she’s only on the home front, she’s only a hearth keeper.

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Image from Pixabay. Edits by me.

I try not to hate on the warrior/leader woman too much. I understand she can be an analogy for a strength that isn’t just physical or temperamental. Unfortunately, this constant warrior/leader woman drumbeat starts to get on my nerves. It often beats its drum by putting down the men in the story, by making them weak, or stupid. It also leaves the women keeping the home, tending the hearth, doing everything that is needed in a family while her husband is out fighting, including trying not to worry, with little honor. Even worse, when these wives of warriors are showcased in our modern storytelling, she’s often belittling and nagging her man for his desire to protect others. She parades her children and herself before him as needing him more than the world. She makes his choice of warrior-ness a selfish one, even though she knew what he did when she married him. This woman forces her man to feel torn between his promises, his duties, and his family.

The cliché women in our modern storytelling are either the female warrior more mighty than any man (including highly trained ones), or she is a weak coward demanding her warrior stop being what he is because she doesn’t like it. Oh, how this annoys me.

In my own experience the cop’s wives, soldier’s wives, and pastor’s wives that I know personally, take his going, and their tending of the home as their part in the duty. It’s a team effort. It’s the family business. The wives keep the home front. They cheer him on as he leaves because he needs to go fight with a strong focus, not a divided one. She is a mighty woman. She has taken on the role of the warrior’s wife, and she embraces it. She embraces the worry. She embraces the late nights, long hours, the unknown, and unknowing elements. This wife shoulders as much as she can to keep burdens from him. This woman is incredibly strong, smart, clever, and wise. She isn’t shellfish about sharing her man. She doesn’t turn their family into a burden on him every time he goes out to be a shepherd. She encourages him. She tells him she thinks he is the strongest, bravest, best warrior in the world. This wife says, “Come home with your shield, or on it.” She has his back. Most important, she gives him a place to come home to. She creates a place to come back to. She doesn’t nag every time he goes away.

We don’t honor these incredibly strong women enough. We look for women marching for their rights, or protesting the evils of patriarchy, or doing incredible physical feats, or just yelling really loud. We don’t notice the quiet HearthKeepers doing the work it takes so warriors can go out in the world to fight the wolves.

So, because this is near and dear to my heart, because I have just stepped into this mighty sisterhood, I started writing Huntsmen and HearthKeeper stories. In normal genres, they would be Urban Fantasy. But for me, they’re stories about the men who fight the things that go bump in the night, and the women who light their way back home. They’re exaggerated forms of real life. Instead of just cops, I have men who hunt supernatural beings that have gone rogue. Instead of having just cop wives, I have women with the ability to stitch torn souls back together. I have women who are literal lights in the dark.

Fortress is my first story in this personal genre. It’s the story of a small town under attack from an odd, burning, black ooze. Huntsmen arrive on the wings of a storm to take out the mysterious black tar. Before they can figure out the tar’s intent it specifically targets Dún, a woman who owns the local diner. That’s the overarching plot. The story is about Will and Dún. He’s a lost, angry huntsman who doesn’t remember why he does what he does anymore. He’s a broken warrior or a breaking warrior. Dún is a young woman who finds herself stronger than she thinks, and is able to stand in the middle of Will’s anger, accepting him as he is. She opens her heart not just to him, but to the other men who give their lives for the town. She finds she’s not a warrior, but a helper of warriors. This acceptance moves Dún into the world of magic. She becomes the first HearthKeeper Guardian, joining the ranks of many sisters before her who step into the darkness of their men’s worlds and find themselves strong.

One of my first readers of Fortress said:

I love that your story grows not out of emotion first, but out of commitment and dynamically explores the relationship between man and woman.
Your stories have done more to tether my heart to hearth and home than a host of books I read in my teen years outlining why I should desire to be a homemaker. I also think books on womanhood tend to focus more on motherhood than the calling of a wife, to the point of seeing marriage as merely a means to have children, neglecting the high calling God has placed in being a helper to man. Your chosen metaphor of the warrior’s companion, the HearthKeeper, is poignant and corrective.
We need clear doctrinal teaching on marriage and the roles of men and women but we also need stories that stir our affections to love that truth. Art is “the Huntsman marked by the Preacher as one of his soldiers against the monsters seeping into the world through cracks and crevasses…” Art too is a ‘guardian.’ And yours is a strong fortress, ready and able to stand the test of time and changing culture.”

Another reader had this to say:

You’ve created something amazing.
I have been so busy this summer with deadlines, work, and barely being home, and pausing life to read Fortress was very rewarding. (I wish I could have gotten to it sooner, but life :/ )
I love how it’s focusing on the quiet power, the one where women are supporting the men through the hardships in life. (Like, that is life!) And it was done in such a beautiful way in a world that is ours, and yet not. The story was new and refreshing -the pacing keeping me on constant edge….I do hope you continue to write more about Dun and Will because I need more lol!

My Snow White retelling has this same Huntsman/HearthKeeper vibe. It was a finalist in the Rooglewood contest. I hope to tell many more stories in this genre. I love it. I love playing with strong women who aren’t raising a sword, but who are standing beside a man with a gun. It’s my life. It’s the lives of the women I know. I want to honor them, for they are the strongest people I know.

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Aesthetic for Fortress. Images from Pinterest.

Amendment: I want to mention that what I don’t want to do with this post is discourage women. I don’t want you to feel like a lesser women if you aren’t this brave, strong, clever, supportive creature. We are finite and dependent, all of us. None of us are as good, kind, brave, or wise as we could be or want to be. We’re all weak. What I want to do in this article, and my stories, is honor the women who stay home and set that candle in the window, because it’s not an easy job.

Second, men should never use their jobs as an excuse to abandon their families. A man’s first priority, regardless of job, is his family. He must draw boundaries and lines that make them his highest aim, even if he’s deployed, or on the streets, or in the pulpit. A man can’t abandon his family.


If you are interested in reading Fortress, you can get it in the first tier of my Patreon for only a $1 a month. Check it out!

Quote of the Weekend

Quote from Fortress by Abby Jones

Monday I’m going to talk about one of my sub-genres in my Worlds Before the Door genre: Huntsman and HearthKeeper stories.

This is a quote from my story Fortress. I hope you’ll join me as I explore what lead me to write this type of story, and why I love it.

Quote of the Weekend

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Courtesy of Pinterest.

Another adorable one by Charlie Mackesy. I love the penguin flying because he’s riding a horse. As you know, horse are fitted into almost all my stores, for they are my very favorite animal of all time. I’ve loved them since I was a little girl.

The Tolkien Blog Party

 

Tolkien Party Hobbit Hole 2018

I’m joining my writing Kindred Spirit over at The Edge of the Precipice Blog in celebrating all that is Tolkien. (Hope over there for instructions on how to join in.) Today is Bilbo and Frodo’s birthday, and yesterday was the 81st Anniversary of the publication of the Hobbit. It seems a good time to celebrate. So pack that pipe, grab a beer, and put those furry feet up on a table as I talk about Tolkien.

Tolkien Tag 2018

1.  What’s your favorite Middle-earth story/book?

My favorite of all the Middle Earth books is Lord of the Rings. I probably love the Fellowship the best, but that’s a bit hard for me to say, since they’re all beautiful. The Silmarillion would have to be my second favorite, followed by the Hobbit.

2.  Do you have a favorite subplot?

Legolas and Gimli’s friendship is my favorite subplot. I love how it crosses cultures, ages, and even endures beyond the end of the world. I love the friendships in Lord of the Rings. Take Sam and Frodo. Their friendship carries them to the very end. Has there ever been a character as beautiful as Sam?

3.  What’s your favorite theme in Tolkien’s books?  (Can be in one specific story, or overall.)

My favorite theme is one stated by Sam near the beginning of the book: “…so old and young, and so gay and sad, as it were.” Sam is talking about meeting the elves for the first time, but I believe it is an undercurrent to all of Lord of the Rings. It is the sense I walk away with: the story is happy and yet so sad, young, yet so very old.

My other most favorite theme is eucatastrophe. Tolkien loved eucatastrophe. The idea of the turning point of grace. Lord of the Rings has several moments like that, where things change just when they’re all about to go so bad.

I also love the theme of the powerless-ness of the ring. Now wait, hear me out. I love that there are a tiny handful of characters that never really give into it. Bilbo gives it up in the end. Sam gives it back to Frodo. Faramir isn’t drawn to it. I love these little people who are able to resist it’s power. That is hope, hope right there.

4.  Do you have a favorite weapon from Middle-earth?

I’m partial to Aragorn’s sword Anduril, what a history. I’m also rather fond of Gil-galad’s spear Aiglos, which means snow-point. Even as a child I was fond of the idea, the image, of Gil-Galad and his spear.

5.  Would you like to be a hobbit?

I am a hobbit.

6.  Do you have a favorite romance/couple?

I always loved Arwen…mostly because she loves Aragorn. But, I do love the beauty, the sadness, and the almost distance of their romance, like it doesn’t play a huge part in the story.

I love Sam and Rosie. (Sam is kinda my favorite.)

But my favorite romance is Beren and Tinuviel. Their story is rich, heart-breaking, filled with pain, and ultimately brings about one of the greatest family lines in all of Middle Earth. It doesn’t hurt that my husband started calling me Tinuviel Undomiel when he finally read Lord of the Rings and the Silmarillon.

Faramir and Eyown are another favorite because Faramir brings Eyown so much hope.


7.  What’s your favorite Middle-earth creature?  (Can be “real” or “imaginary.”)

I really do love elves. I love so much about elves that I feel like Sam most of the time, kind of in awe of them. But in my heart of heart, I love hobbits the best.

8.  What character do you look the most like?

Probably Rosie if she had brown hair.

9.  Are there any books about Middle-earth or Professor Tolkien (but not written by him) you recommend?

Right now I’m reading A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War: How J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship, and heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-18. It’s amazing. The more I learn about WW1 the better I understand Tolkien. 

10.  List up to ten of your favorite lines/quotations from the Middle-earth books and/or movies.

“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him.”

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

“Still round the corner there may wait
A new road or a secret gate
And though I oft have passed them by
A day will come at last when I
Shall take the hidden paths that run
West of the Moon, East of the Sun.”

 

“It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end… because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing… this shadow. Even darkness must pass.”

 

I’m going to stop there, because there are more lines in the Lord of the Rings that I love than I can every ever quote. You should see the mark ups I have in some of my copies.