apple pie

Under the Apple Tree

Fun fact of the day: I consider myself a poet.

Here is a free verse poem I wrote last night, inspired by my favorite kind of trees. (you have one guess as to what tree that is 😉 )

Under the Apple Tree: a Poem by Jese

IMG_0178.JPG
Collage Created by Catherine Regitz for her own story, but I thought it fit mine, so I borrowed it(with permission). Pictures from Pinterest

She sits against the tree

the rough bark snagging at her hair

Her eyes are closed

She is thinking

and dreaming

of a boy who will one day be a man

whom she will marry

 

He lounges in the tree

a shiny apple in his hand

His eyes are wide

He is thinking

and looking

at a girl who will one day be a woman

whom he will marry


I hope you all liked that! I certainly enjoyed writing it.

See ya soon!

Jese

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The Universe

My Dear People…

Do you know what today is?
If you said the 29th of July, then yes, you’d be right. But it’s also the 63rd birthday of that most epic tale ever to grace the shelves of the fantasy genre.
That’s right, I’m talking about The Lord of the Rings.
Now, you might be thinking: Nikken, why do you have such a high opinion of those books? After all, you’re a fictional character yourself.
That has a very simple answer: if it wasn’t for these books, I wouldn’t exist.
You see, when my Author was a little girl, she loved to make up stories. But she only liked to make up mystery stories. Her favorite books were The Bobbsy Twins and The Happy Hollisters and the like. But when she was six years old, her mother read The Hobbit to her, and it changed her world. The next year, she read The Hobbit all by herself, and it changed her. Middle-Earth touched her in ways she didn’t understand, being only seven years old. Elves and dwarves, goblins and hobbits and dragons… it was unlike anything she’d ever read before. Slowly, she stopped reading mainly mystery stories and began reading fantasies like Redwall and Eragon. Then, when she was eleven years old, her parents said she was old enough to read The Lord of the Rings. She had been waiting for this for years, especially once her older brother read it, and nearly burst from excitement. She read the entire series in five days.
If she loved The Hobbit, she absolutely adored The Lord of the Rings. The world of Middle-Earth, which had so intrigued her in The Hobbit, became so much clear, so much more wonderful than she thought it ever could be. The cheerfulness of the hobbits, the courage of men, the loyalty of the dwarves, the long, long sorrow and steadfastness of the elves… It made her wish that somehow she could be a part of so epic and wonderful a world. Reading the book was like peeking through a window to a world of honor and glory and faith and valor and wonder. A world of good and evil, of weakness triumphing over strength.
Then she had an idea.
She thought, “I can never write as well as Tolkien, but I wish I could write a fantasy story that would make people feel in the tiniest the stuff The Lord of the Rings makes me feel.” So, a few weeks before she turned twelve, she climbed up into her loft bed and began to write a story on six pages of tan-colored lined notebook paper. And eventually, a story took form—the story of how my cousin, my brother, and I set out on a long journey to discover the Father’s Chosen hero that would save our lands.
So that is the main reason I like these books so much—they helped bring me to life.
But there are other reasons too: for one thing, if you think about it, Tolkien is the father of the entire modern fantasy genre. Don’t believe me? Think about it:
1. Orcs—Tolkien invented them. The name is based off the Old English words orc and orcneas, which, roughly, mean ‘demon’. In Middle-Earth, ‘orc’ is the Elvish word for Morgoth’s and Sauron’s servants, who were originally elves that were corrupted by Morgoth. In English, the word ‘orc’ is translated to ‘goblin’, (therefore, Tolkien’s orcs and goblins are one and the same, not separate species, as many people seem to think). The orcs in World of Warcraft and Warhammer? They would not have existed without The Lord of the Rings.
2. Elves—Tolkien, of course, was inspired by the elves of Norse Mythology, but the standard modern version of elves—tall, wise, long hair, incredibly beautiful, archers—were invented by Tolkien and Tolkien alone. Traditional mythological elves do not look anything like the image of elves that is so common in our minds these days. The preeminence of elves in modern fantasy, such as World of Warcraft and Eragon? You can thank Tolkien for them.
3. Dwarves—dwarves in Norse Mythology were greedy little guys that spent all their time underground, and most of them were mean-spirited types, if not out-and-out evil. The image of noble dwarves? This came from the last bit of The Hobbit and Gimli from The Lord of the Rings.
4. Dark Lords—how many Dark Lords are there? Too many to count. When was the first appearance of a Dark Lord in modern literature? I’m not certain, but I’m pretty sure it was The Lord of the Rings.
5. Other languages—this isn’t as common, but there are many books that have invented languages for certain races in the books (often Elves). I don’t know if there were any instances of invented languages before The Lord of the Rings, but you and I both know who started that trend—Tolkien.
6. Halflings—again, not as common, but Halflings tend to pop up here and there, especially in board games. The trend of short guys with curly hair and hairy feet that live in holes and eat a lot all began one sunny when Tolkien wrote the words ‘In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit’ on the back of an exam paper.
7. Mithril—mithril was invented by Tolkien. It first appeared in the Hobbit, and it had a prominent position in the story of The Lord of the Rings. All sorts of fantasy games and stories have mithril, and even call it mithril (which is a Sindarin name meaning “grey brilliance”) instead of the English name, truesilver.
8. The fantasy genre in general—There are instances of fantasy stories before the publication of the Hobbit or the Lord of the Rings, such as George MacDonald’s excellent stories. But the big boom of fantasy happened after The Lord of the Rings was published in 1954. Dungeons and Dragons, Warhammer, World of Warcraft, Eragon, you name it—they probably would never had existed if Tolkien hadn’t published a book about hobbits and dwarves and elves and men and then was asked to make a sequel.

These are some of the basics. There is even more evidence out there proving that Tolkien is the father of modern fantasy fiction. It’s sad to think that many people nowadays forget his huge influence on modern culture (My author says it’s even sadder that people watch the movies based off his stories and never even bother to read the actual books. That really annoys her).
Tolkien, The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings are doubly responsible for my existence, if you think about it, so I have a lot to thank them for. I think anyone who is a fan of fantasy should celebrate the often-underrated epicness of Tolkien, so that’s why I’m here writing this post. Maybe someday, everyone will remember how Tolkien started it all and appreciate him for the impact he had on our world. But until that happens, at least my author and I will never forget.
Professor Tolkien, I salute you.
So CELEBRATE, everyone! This year marks the 100th year since Tolkien first began to write about the world of Middle-Earth, and today it’s the 63rd Birthday of The Lord of the Rings! Cosplay! Sing songs! Eat Apple Pie (though seriously, you should do that anyway)!
Happy Birthday, Lord of the Rings, and many happy returns!
Namarië! Elen síla lummen’ omentielvo. Namarië!
~Nikken

19

life

Writing Tips from Jese

Recently, I’ve been writing a lot more than I used to so I thought I might share a few writing tips, some that I keep telling myself, some things that come very easy to me, but I know that other people struggle with. Take what you will from this list 🙂

a) write whenever you can. If you’ve got an idea, keep going with it. Even if you don’t have a pad of paper or a computer, just keep writing in your head, planning out your stories.

b) write whatever you can. Write down all the ideas, write in all the genres. I don’t like stagnation in my writing, so I try to write in as many genres as I possibly can: fantasy, scifi, contemporary, historical fiction.

c) write first, edit later. Editing/perfectionism (something I struggle with) is like a heavy fog and you can lose sight of what you’re aiming for as you try to perfect as you go.

d) finish what you start. It’s so tempting to give up on your current project in order to chase another one, or to be discouraged by perfectionism, but there is nothing more satisfying than finishing what you started.

e) if you’re a pantser, try planning. If you’re a planner, try pantsing. Be comfortable with both approaches, and you never know. You might like another style better than the one you use currently. Don’t be afraid to change.

f) have fun! 😀

See ya later!

Jese

life

Fear Itself

Hail and well met! ‘Tis I, Nikken. How have you all been this summer?

Today I am here to talk about something that affects all of our lives. You may have forgotten it ever existed, or maybe you still remember it with a faint shudder. But I assure you, it was once a tangible, inescapable menace that clutched your mind and heart with a fierce grip. Perhaps in the deepest, darkest corners of your mind, it still has a foothold, ready to rise with vengeance at the least provocation.

I am talking about—

Childhood Fears.

Admit it. We all had them.

These are the fears that plagued you at night as you lay in bed, trying to sleep. Every sound would morph into footsteps of varying magnitude, every shadow turned into a dreadful harbinger of your fear’s arrival.

Some of them are on the improbable side, such as flaming monsters. Others are more reasonable (though not any less frightful) such the house burning up. Some were even ridiculous, now that you look back on them.

For interest, my biggest fear when I was little was… rabbits.

Don’t laugh.

I had horrible recurring nightmare of evil rabid bunnies breaking into my Uncle’s manor and swarming me, an unstoppable wave of rabbity evil.

Something rather like this, in fact, except in hordes.

killer rabbit

I would weak up screaming and crying every night.

(Stop laughing, Your Highness. It doesn’t befit your dignity.)

My author had two childhood fears–burglars and snakes. Or to be more precise, venemous or constricting snakes coming into her bedroom. She wasn’t afraid of snakes normally, though she doesn’t like the ones that can kill you. She used to spend hours catching and handling snakes.

But she was terrified that a dangerous snake would somehow come into her room, wind itself up into her loft bed and either bite her (if they were venemous) or squeeze her to death (if they were constrictors). She would lie awake at night, peering at the suspicious lump at the end of her bed and hope it was a fold of her blanket and not a snake head. But she was too afraid to sit up and look in case it was actually a snake and she attracted its attention, causing her imminent death. In the morning, she would tell herself it was silly (she lived in a town), but knowing it was silly never did much when the lights went out and the lump at the end of the bed appeared.

She blames the Jungle Book and Rikki Tikki Tavi.

But she grew out of the fear (as we all do, in time) as she got older, and not long ago, she moved to the country. And it just so happens that her new bedroom has a small hole in the corner directly across from her loft bed, and beneath this hole is a small piece of drop ceiling. About a month ago, she woke up and saw a snake draped on that small piece of drop ceiling directly across the room, looking at her.

There are very few things more terrifying, my friends, is to wake up one morning to find your childhood nightmare is a reality.

She tamped down her first response (screaming) and went to find her dad. She managed to keep her cool until the family entered her room and the snake appeared to be missing, which was when she screamed and indulged in a brief moment of panic, convinced the snake was hiding in her room. She managed to calm herself down quickly, though, and it was discovered that the snake was still on the ceiling piece but was retreating into the attic. Her father and two younger brothers then proceeded to catch the snake, take it outside, and release it.

My author is not afraid of snakes. She even volunteered to help hold the snake (and big fat black ratsnake that was more than four feet long) while her family took pictures. But finding one in her room (especially one that looked brown in the current lighting, therefore making her fear it a rattlesnake or some other venomous kind) was… difficult, shall we say.

Now to the point of the story.

Everyone has childhood fears. We outgrow them eventually, but they still lurk in your minds, forgotten but not gone. And while many of us will never wake up to find their fear an actual reality under the light of day, for many of us, in those dark hours between lights out and the land of dreams, those fears are tangible. Inescapable. Real. And they will remain so unless we take steps to defeat them.

My author volunteered to hold the snake for two reasons.

Number One: She wasn’t afraid of snakes. Rather likes them, in fact.

Number Two: She didn’t want that to change.

Above many things, my author hates debilitating fear. She understood if she didn’t reach out and hold the thing that brought her nightmare to life, the nightmare might grow. The fear that poisoned her nights may end up poisoning her days, making her flee in fear from something she once enjoyed. Paralyzing her in moments when action is needed. So she held the snake.

As I said before, I was afraid of rabbits. When my Mammami discovered what my nightmares were about, she devised a plan. My Mammami is a wise lady, so she knew that the best way to defeat your fears are to confront them, hold them in your hands, and throw them away. Far, far away where their ability to hurt you is small and faint. So my Mammami had me do two things–she gave us all rabbit stew to eat for an entire week, and she gave me a baby bunny, as a pet. The rabbit stew taught me that despite the overwhelming evil of the rabbits, they could be defeated.

The baby bunny was a tiny thing, so small I could nearly hold it one hand. It taught me that the rabbits didn’t have an overwhelming evil, after all.

I named that bunny “Nyacaon”. In the tongue of my cousin’s people, that means “No Fear”.

My author tells me that someone once said “The only thing we have to fear is Fear Itself”. It’s not whatever you are facing that paralyzes you, it’s your fear. Defeat your fear, and half the battle is already over.

So, when you are all grown up and your children come to you (or even now, with your younger siblings, if you have them), frightened and sniffling, don’t tell them there’s nothing to be afraid of. Have them hold their fear in their hands and show them there’s nothing to be afraid of. Hearing someone tell you something is knowing, having someone show it to you is believing.

And in the rare case this might not work, there’s one last, best thing to do. Remind them that even when they lie awake at night, all alone, staring at the lump at the end of the bed, they aren’t truly alone. There will always be Someone there with them, ready to face and fend off their fears and, when they fall asleep, to fill their dreams with light.

Farewell for now! May we all never wake up to find our childhood fears have come true. Especially me. Because being swarmed by a colony of evil rabbits is something no one should have to experience.

Now if you will excuse me, I have to go put some mulberries in a laughing High Prince’s bed.

~Nikken

life

~Favorite~

“What is your favorite animal? What is your favorite color? What is your favorite season?”

All of these are traditional ice breaker questions you’re asked when someone’s trying to get to know you. I never know what to answer. I don’t have a favorite animal. I love several of them. I don’t have a favorite color. There’s at least three I can’t decide between. How can I decide between all the seasons when they all have such wonderful contributions to the year?

I can’t decide. I don’t want to decide.

Then, as I was eating lunch at my friend’s house today, her younger sister asked her “can you have more than one favorite?”, looking for a resolution to an argument she was having with a brother about their favorite fast food restaurants.

“Sure” my friend replied, mainly saying it to keep the sister away from her as she was trying to read her book, not realising she said something rather remarkable, something that made me redesign the way I’m going to think from now on.

Where does it say that you can have only one favorite?

So, now I am resolved that whenever someone asks me those questions, I will respond with all my favorites. I’ll tell them I love cats, dogs, echidnas, and tasmanian devils. I’ll delve into how I love pink just as much as red, orange, or blue. I’ll list the pros and cons of all the seasons, settling on the answer that I love all of them.

Feel free to say that you have many favorites, whether it be between flavors or children (since we know you’re not supposed to have just one favorite with the latter). However, if you do truly only have one favorite, that’s ok too (though don’t tell your kids that).

Have a great day everyone!

You’re all my favorite people 🙂

Jese

The Universe

Rose of the Oath: A Beauty and the Beast Novella by Hope Ann

Well met, everyone! It is I, Nikken, and today I am introducing a special guest. She has come here to present unto you the wonderful news of a book release, and a review as well.

Now, without further ado, I present to you–My very own Author! *clasp wildly*

Author: *laughs* Thank you, Nikken. Today I am here to talk about Rose of the Oath, a new novella by author Hope Ann.

~*~

War clouds the horizon and rebels gather under a mysterious leader. Alone, with her two younger sisters, Elissa watches the mountain road desperately for her brother’s return. Instead, she receives news of his capture by a strange figure covered in scars and cloaked in wolf skins.

With rebels drawing nearer, she sets off to find her brother. To save him. There is no one else who can.

Yet she soon finds the rose that granted her warning now holds her captive in safety. Outside the valley, war threatens those she loves most. Though her strange host claims the ancient promises of the Prince’s return and victory over the rebels, Elissa knows the blood-drenched truth. She is on her own. Elissa will do anything to keep her family safe, but more than one kind of wolf stalks the Blackwood and danger lurks closer than she could ever imagine.

Download it for FREE at:

Amazon

Smashwords

iTunes

Add it to your shelf on Goodreads

Also, a bonus! For those of you who may not have seen it, I’m also giving away the prequel to this Beauty and the Beast retelling, Rose of the Night – an account of how the ‘Beast’ became the Beast.

Click here to claim your free copy!

Add to your shelf on Goodreads

Finally, in honor of the official release of Rose of the Oath, my other novellas are $0.99 for this week only!

Buy Song of the Sword: A Rapunzel Novella

Buy Shadows of the Hersweald: A Hansel and Gretel Novella

About Hope Ann

Hope Ann is a speculative fiction writer who lives on a small farm in northern Indiana. She has self-published three Legends of Light novellas and writes regular articles for Kingdom Pen as the Writing Team Captain. Reading since the age of five, and introducing herself to writing at age eight, she never had a question that the author’s life was the life for her. Her goal is to write thrilling Christian fantasy and futuristic fiction — stories she longed for while growing up. After graduating from homeschool, Hope now teaches writing to several of her eight younger siblings. She loves climbing trees, archery, photography, Lord of the Rings, chocolate, and collecting shiny things she claims are useful for story inspiration.

You can visit Hope’s blog at authorhopeann.com, or follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, or Twitter.

~*~

This novella is actually a rewritten version of Hope Ann’s original published work, Rose of Prophecy. My close friend, Jese’s author, recommended it to me a few months ago. I got it on the Kindle, read it, and enjoyed it thoroughly. Just a few days later, I discovered the author, Hope Ann, was about to publish a rewrite of Rose of Prophecy, called Rose of the Oath. This intrigued me, and I became very excited to see what this new version would be like. So when Hope Ann announced she was looking for people to participate in her blog explosion, I signed up and read Rose of the Oath immediately. I wasn’t disappointed. The smooth-flowing descriptions, the carefully thought-out symbolism, the quality of the characters–all of these show that Hope Ann has continued to grow and improve in the writing world. The book was exciting, entertaining, and at several notable points had me close to panic about what would happen to Elissa and the Beast.

There are, of course, a few things that I liked better the way they occurred in the original version. Yet over all, Rose of the Oath is far superior to its predecessor, in the same way that a rose in full bloom overshadows a bud that is about to open. One of the things I love most about this new book is the character of Elissa. In Rose of Prophecy, Beauty is sweet and gentle, brave and loving, faithful and trusting in the promise of the Prince and the King. Beauty is a character that, while she still needs to grow, is on the threshold of adulthood in the faith.

Elissa, on the other hand, is broken. She has seen no provision of the King, she disbelieves the prophecy that His so-called son, the Prince, will ever appear. The King has never cared for her–why would He start to do so now? She’s struggling and afraid, clinging to her disbelief, scared of hoping only to see the hope burn to ash.

While both Beauty and Elissa struggle, Elissa’s struggles are more poignant. Both are realistically human, but Elissa’s humanity is one that everyone can relate to.

This is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and anyone who has ever heard of the story knows one simple fact: Beauty and the Beast is about love. Not merely romantic love between two people, but deep, deep love that saves from death, doom, and destruction.

I have read multiple retellings of Beauty and the Beast, all of them good and beautiful. Yet in the end, I have to say that Rose of the Oath is the one that most accurately, movingly, and meaningfully depicts this love, in more ways than one and in surprising fashions.

To sum up, this is a story about someone beautiful and someone beastly, about a faithful prince and a failing people, and an Oath made in love that will be fulfilled, despite all the powers of hate and darkness.

~*~

Author: And now, I’m afraid I have to be going. Thank you for your time, and thank you, Nikken, for letting me borrow your blog for a bit. Goodbye, everyone! *waves and leaves*

There, wasn’t that great? Give my author a big round of applause, if you will! (After all, she’s the one who made me! 😉 )

Thank you for coming, everyone. Come back soon! Until then, fare you well wherever you fare!

life

A Sentence That Creates a Paradox

As someone who spends way too much time on the internet, I am here to tell you a sentence that, no matter what decision you come to concerning it, will leave you in a paradox.

You might have either figured this out before or seen it somewhere else (if so, you’ve done more internet surfing than I ever have), but that doesn’t matter. You can just skip this post and read something else, but if this is a new concept for you, I urge you to sit down and ponder.

Keep reading. I know you’re curious.

It’ll come. I promise you

Here we go:

Don’t believe anything on the internet!

A very very very simple sentence that can and will create a paradox.

If you disagree with this statement, you’re saying you believe anything on the internet, but by disagreeing with what I’m saying, you’re disbelieving something on the internet, which goes against the conclusion you just came to.

If you agree with this statement, you have yet another paradox. You’re agreeing that you shouldn’t believe anything on the internet, but because you read this post on the internet, you have gone against your conviction and believed what I said.

see you later 🙂

Jese