Claire Banschbach | Author Interview and Book Review

This week I have both an interview and book review. If you like non-magical fantasy, check out Claire’s Rise of Aredor series!

INTERVIEW
1) In a nutshell, what do you write​?​
I write fantasy/adventure books, mostly for teenagers. But I want anyone of all ages to be able to enjoy my stories. Mainly I want to write clean adventure stories that are worth reading.

2) What spurred on the desire for writing​?​
Basically I had an entire book in my head for almost five years. These characters were always there and I enjoyed hanging out with them. Then one day, I decided to pick up a notebook and a pen to see if I could get it all on paper. Once I discovered how much fun writing and letting myself brainstorm new stories was, I never stopped.

3) How do you balance writing with living — or is writing your full-time job?
I’m currently in Physical Therapy school, which takes up most of my time. So during semesters, I don’t get to do a lot of writing since I’m always studying for something. During breaks is when most of my writing gets done. But I have a weekly serial story I publish on my blog, so that makes me write something at least once a week.

4) Who do you hope to reach with your writing?
Anyone and everyone! I know it’s something authors say a lot, but it really is true – if my stories can impact at least one person’s life, then that will make me happy.

5) If someone asked you for your best writing tip, what would it be?
Don’t force yourself to write. I’m not a big proponent of the whole “you must write every day or so to break out of a slump” thing. If you don’t want to write, then don’t. It’s my thought that your writing will be better when you actually want to do it. And maybe that’s just the lazy person in me talking. 😉

6) ​What are three things that you greatly enjoy doing?
1. Reading. Obviously.
2. Horseback riding. I started lessons when I was 12, but it’s been a while since I’ve
been on a horse due to school and everything. 😦
3. Hiking. It’s something I don’t get to do very often, but I love it!

7) You created your own world for “The Rise of Aredor” series. How did you go about doing that?
Landscape wise, I took some inspiration from a few other books and the rest was just countryside that I personally like. Culture wise, Lawhead’s Arthur and Robin Hood books helped me develop a fascination for ancient Welsh culture which inspired Aredor. I’ve always loved anything Irish or Scottish (I used to Irish dance) which inspired Braeton. As for Calorin, some people have noticed that the name resembles a Narnian country which indeed did inspire it, but I also think that Arabic culture is fascinating as well. So with that long winded answer, I basically took elements of cultures that fascinate me and used them as a basis to construct my world.

8) What was the thing you enjoyed most about writing “The Rise of Aredor” series?
Since Corin is the main character, he’s obviously my favorite. But I love his and Aiden’s friendship, so basically any scene with them together, no matter the situation, was always a blast to write.

9) What was the hardest thing about writing “The Rise of Aredor?”
The girls. Weird answer I know, but I tend to find that writing guys is easier than girls. Odder still since I only have one brother and six sisters, so I don’t have a lot of experience with the male persona. Anyway, out of the three main female characters in the series it was a bit more difficult to construct individual characters and not have them quite so cardboardy.

10) How are your other books different from “The Rise of Aredor?”
The new series I’m working on right now is a little different in the fact that it’s magical fantasy. With most of my other books I’ve started to include more noticeable religious overtones, something that The Rise of Aredor series does not really contain as far as giving a message of faith. It’s been fun but challenging so far to work it in.

ABOUT CLAIRE

Claire Banschbach was born and raised in Midland, TX, the fourth of eight children. She was homeschooled through high school and is now a proud member of the Texas A&M University class of 2014. An avid reader of Lord of the Rings, Narnia, and many other adventure novels, Claire was prompted to begin writing her own fantasy novel at seventeen after several years of daydreaming.

She continues to write in her spare time (and often when she doesn’t have spare time). When not scratching out stories and homework with pen and pencil, Claire partakes in the joys of watching the Boston Red Sox, Aggie football, and playing volleyball. She hopes her strong foundation in God will help to guide her writing. 

She is currently working on her Doctorate of Physical Therapy at Texas Tech Health Science Center.

Connect with Claire:
THE RISE OF AREDOR

ABOUT THE BOOK
20512334Lost in a foreign land and separated from his family, Corin does his best to survive as a slave in the household of a Calorin lord. With newfound friends he fights for survival in ambushes and wars. For one act of bravery, he is awarded his freedom and returns to a home that has been invaded and ravaged by the Calorin armies. When Corin sets foot on Aredor’s shores, he has one goal in mind: find his family. He is driven into the forest, where he is reunited with childhood friends. From the shelter of the woods, they begin a spirited rebellion against Corin’s former cruel master, who now holds sway over Aredor. Follow Corin’s path in his quest to free his imprisoned brother, find a father who has vanished, and ultimately free his country in The Rise of Aredor.

MY REVIEW
This book is divided into two segments or “books” (Book One: The Phoenix Guard, Book Two: Hawk Uprising), basically defining two parts of Corin’s (or Hadmid’s) life.

I couldn’t really discover a plot for the first part of the book — it seemed like the story was being driven from event to event, told in an overview sort of way. I didn’t really get “into” the characters. However, when it came to the second book, I thoroughly enjoyed it! There was definitely a strong plot as Corin set to work at finding his family and summing up the courage of the Aredorians. In some ways it made me think of Robin Hood.

There were a few things that I either missed or they weren’t there — for example, who was the inside informant of Lord Rishdah?

What I liked:
– I appreciated the “no magic” in this book!
– It was very clean as far as no morally compromising situations (really, no romance at all), no bad words; there weren’t any scenes that made me feel uncomfortable
– Karif. You’ll have to read the book to find out who Karif is. 😉
– The humor. Ah! I did laugh a few times throughout this book!
– I didn’t find it extremely gruesome, though about 90% of the book was descriptions of war and fighting. There were tortures, but they were mentioned, not detailed.

What I didn’t like:
– I can’t call this a Christian book. The higher powers of Zayd and Lleu is mentioned. Hope of earning a place in Lleu’s halls.
– I’m not big on dreams, and there were two scenes: one where Hamid dreamed that a dead friend warned him of upcoming danger, another where a wounded man dreamed that he talked with a messenger from Lleu then was healed. Those were just a little weird to me.
– From a fictional point of view, I enjoyed it. They seemed to always get the inside scoop, always be one step ahead, always have mistakes turn into victory, etc. (exception at the climax, of course) If I wanted to read a story where the good guys always managed to be smarter and more skilled than the bad guys, this was it. But if you like realistic stories (which, I tend to…), too many good things happen to make it believable.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and am looking forward to reading The Wildcat of Braeton in the next month or so!!!

*I received this book from the author in exchange of my honest review*



Historical Hints

Historical fiction. It has to be my favorite genre! Not only do I enjoy reading it, I also enjoy writing it. And as I have read and written it, there have been a lot of things that I’ve noticed. Sometimes it is simple things that will make or break your story.
Characters
1800 – You have this kid who says cool.
Actually, it wouldn’t be a kid at all — it would be a child. And “cool” is totally out of his century.
1750 – All of the families have 2-3 children.
Depending on the culture, some of the families would have had 2-3 children, but that was probably due to deaths of children (during childbirth, as infants). Otherwise, if you’re speaking English culture, families would have had larger families.
1550 – “I’m just kidding.”
What? Your character is having a baby goat? Nay. He would be in jest.
980 – “This is my dad.”
The first known use of “dad” is 15th century (how do I know that? Simple online search). He would most likely be “Father.”
How does your character dress? How do they speak? How do they interact with others? What do they call their grandparents, parents, aunts, and uncles? How do they spend their days? What is their occupation? The answers to all of these questions help set the tone of your historical fiction novel.
Setting
What is the terrain? What do the houses look like? Are the streets crowded and dirty or clean and free of clutter? The more you describe, the more the reader “feels at home” in your story.
Food
What did they eat? Did they have crackers then? Soup? Bread bowls? Salads? Dressing? You could omit these details, or you could do a little research and make your story authentic.
Items
She looked around the parlor.
What did she see? Were there couches (or were they called sofas or settees)? Did the windows have curtains or drapes? What were the colors? The ambience?  Going from the parlor, what is in the kitchen? A butter churn? What about the barn? Are the walls lined with tack?
Things to Remember
Don’t assume. Do not assume that a published fictional book is accurate. It might be a good place to start with research, but don’t use it as the encyclopedia.
Research pays off. But be sure that you’re researching in the right places. The internet has great sources and the library has great books, but anyone today can have a website or publish a book. Check your information — if you find 2-3 places that say the same thing, chances are you’re pretty accurate. And remember: the best place to find solid information is in original documents, newspapers, etc.
Read books that were published in your era. If you’re writing in the 19th century, you have a world of books you can obtain that were written in the 19th century! And who would better know their century than those authors?
Writing historical fiction is the best tool to learning history — and you will unearth some pretty amazing treasures as you research! Don’t let the magnitude of work discourage you from writing. Learn as you go, and be willing to test your historical authenticity.
What makes a historical fiction novel authentic to you? 
What hints do you have for writing historical fiction?

Whose Doctrine?

“Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.” John 7:16

We would do well to test the doctrines to which we cling. It is easy to get swept into the doctrine of men and then cling to it with a vice-grip, not even weighing it against God’s Word to see if the doctrine is of God. A good test is to consider verse 18 of this passage, “He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him.” 
Whose glory are we seeking? When someone contradicts a doctrine (or belief, conviction) that we cling to, what is our reaction? Are we grieved because such does not glorify God — or merely upset and try to prove that our way is right? 

Kellyn Roth | Author Interview

Today is the start of a fun weekly event on my blog: author interviews!! Some of these authors, I have just discovered and haven’t read their books yet (like Kellyn), others, I have already read their books, and am sure you’d enjoy them as well.

1) In a nutshell, what do you write​?​
I’d say I write historical fiction with a dash of Christianity. I like the idea of writing romance, but have a terrible fear of it ending up sounding corny. Overdone romance is one of my biggest pet-peeves, and I certainly don’t want to write it! I guess I’ll just have to make sure someone with more common sense than me reads it if I end up writing more romance-y novels. I’ve always dabbled in fantasy and steampunk … but nothing has been good enough to publish as-of-yet. Oh, and I wrote a couple contemporary pony stories a while back that I might rewrite should my adoration of books about horses return. I doubt it, though. 😉

2) What spurred on the desire for writing
​?​
“The voices in my head” is my stock answer for when people ask me this. But, really, I don’t know. I’ve been writing ever since I could talk … poetry, songs, short stories, little bits of prose … and I’ve never stopped. I always loved words and characters. My love for plots came later as I began to read, and I started wanting to make my own. Though for the longest time I had no writerly aspirations.

3) How do you balance writing with living — or is writing your full-time job?

Well, I have a pretty relaxed schedule. I’m homeschooled, and I have an average of 2.5 things to do a week during the school year (not counting church). During the summer, it’s a lot less. I usually am able to find a couple hours to write every day.

4) Who do you hope to reach with your writing?
At the moment, I’m writing for upper middle grade and young adult readers, although I think some adults might be interested, too … it really depends on the person. However, I’d like to write for adults in the future (once I am one myself) and smaller children. I’ve always adored kids (I kind of am one myself still), and I really want to write interesting books for them. Also, I’d like to write light, happy books that a mom could spend an afternoon reading while her toddler naps. I know this sounds shallow, but my main goal isn’t to touch people or bring them to God or anything like that … it’s just to make them happy and give them entertainment,  and perhaps to spark their imaginations a little (which is a goal a bit more worthy). And … that sounds like just Disney … But, you know, Disney’s great, and I have no objections to touching people in my own way like old Walt did.


5) If someone asked you for your best writing tip, what would it be?
Well, I don’t know. I’m a rookie writer myself … I don’t think I have any great advice to share with the world. 🙂 How about, um … show, don’t tell! (wow, the was cliché!)

​6) What are three things that you greatly enjoy doing?

Um, let me see, sky-diving, shooting baby deer, and … ok, I’m kidding, I’m kidding. I’m terrified of heights, and I like Bambi just as much as the next girl. Three things I enjoy doing … let me see … horseback-riding, swimming, and reading (which is kind of a given). 🙂


Links and Books
My website: http://kellynroth.wix.com/author (which I almost never update … and on which the formatting is off)

About the Author
Kellyn Roth lives with her parents, two little brothers, incredibly needy cat, and faithful border collie Gidget on a ranch in the country. She has been reading obsessively since she was seven, writing poetry and short stories since she was eight, and writing novels since she was ten. Her goal is to write historical fiction novels (which slight branches out into other genres) with Christian themes. Her debut novel, The Dressmaker’s Secret, can be found on Amazon.

Getting the Keys in the Ignition (Starting Your Story)

You have an idea. And it really is a great idea. A fantastic idea. But first, you have to get past that blank page. You have to somehow get the key in the ignition and start this story — get the story engine revved and moving
Many would-be writers stop right there. If this describes you, then get your pen out and just start writing! Guess what the first draft of a story is called? Wow, you’re smart: a first draft! It means this isn’t the finished product. Some writers go through ten, twelve, twenty drafts before their story hits the public. What do you have to worry about now? Not about getting your story perfect. And not about getting that “gripping first line” perfect. You have to start your story. Get your ideas on paper.
Those of you in the “would-be-writer” group, you may stop reading the article and get to work. 😉
Now, some of you are here and all of your stories start with “Once upon a time” or “The sun rose in the sky” or another cliché idea — anything to get you to the story. If your rough draft is finished, congratulations! You started and finished a story! But. You cannot leave your beginning like that. The first sentence of your story will either engage your reader, or turn them away. It is extremely important! Because of this, 99% of the time, the beginning of your story will need to be changed. For the fun of it, I asked a writer’s group that I’m in, “How many of you changed your first sentence, paragraph, or even chapter, after rough draft?” Guess the answers I got? “A hundred times!” – “Oh yeah, over and over!” Several of them said they cut the first chapter completely out — one of them even cut out the first two chapters. They realized that it wasn’t necessary to the plot they had.
Some of you might be at loss with what to do for a new beginning of your story. I wish I had easy answers, but as I’m still working on crafting the beginnings of my stories, I can only give you some tips and ideas.
     – Write something that will hook your reader in the first sentence or two (“The sun rose in the sky” isn’t very gripping. But what about, “Sarah refused to acknowledge that morning had finally come”?)
     – Choose an interesting first scene (start in the middle of your story — Prince Reginald just discovering that he wasn’t really the prince is more interesting than describing the back story of his life as a prince, which might not be relevant to the tale you’re telling)
     – Raise questions about your character and his/her goals (In the examples above, why did Sarah dread this morning? If Prince Reginald wasn’t the real prince, who was? and why did he live as if he was the prince for so long?)
Two things stop your story and make readers groan:
     – Information dump (“Sandra had grey eyes, sandy-brown hair, she was thirteen, had seven siblings who were ages ___. Her parents were both alive and loved the family and they lived happily together in Texas with their dogs, cats, cows, and rabbits.” — instead, weave this information throughout the story)
     – Back story (where you explain why your character is here and detail their past life after you’ve already started the story moving forward. Immediately going into back story instead of pushing the story forward to the future takes careful skill and purpose)
Thinking about the beginning of your story might be tedious and frustrating, but it is worth it!

I leave you with an assignment: go to your bookshelf and pull out ten books. How many of them entice you with the first sentence? How many take a paragraph? How many are just a little dull? Why? Use these observations as a key to start the engine in your own story.

What are some of your favorite story beginnings? What are some things you do when mastering your story’s beginning? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Trusting Without Feeling

So often, we want to seeGod at work. To feel Him working. But, we don’t have to see evidence to know that He is there, working in hearts and lives.
“Behold, I go forward, but He is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive Him: On the left hand, where He doth work, but I cannot behold Him: He hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see Him: But He knoweth the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” (Job 23:8-10)
Sometimes, we just have to trust the promises of God’s Word, even if we feel nothing. As the next verses in this passage indicate, we must continue in God’s way and commandments even if we “feel” no change.
“My foot hath held his steps, His way have I kept, and not declined. Neither have I gone back from the commandment of His lips; I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.” (Job 23:11-12)

Let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season, we shall reap if we faint not!

Cover Design

Okay, so I realize that this veers away from my normal writing updates, but since cover design is kind of part of my writing business, why not?

I’m copying this from my personal blog (in case you follow both and find it droll that it’s double-posted… sorry! 😉 ).

Have you ever had those times when you just wanted to do something, so randomly prayed, “Lord, I realize I don’t have to do this, but it’d be nice if…” That was me a few weeks ago. Since all of my writing projects are in the baby-stages of planning and writing, I’ve not had a reason to do one of my favorite hobbies: book cover designing. So, I prayed that, if the Lord saw fit, He’d bless me with the opportunity to design a book cover for someone.

Not even a week after that, I beta-read a book by a Goodreads friend, The Silent Blade. Long story short, we ended up discussing covers and such and she hired me to design her cover! I had so much fun going back and forth, getting to know Jesseca and what she liked, AND finding out that a church-member had a sword for me to photograph! (you never know what happens when you post on FaceBook, “Does anyone have…?”) I am very grateful that the Lord allowed me to come up with a cover that Jesseca loves. That makes it completely worth it for me!

Okay, okay, some of you probably skimmed over all of that so you could see the cover (because, after all, if you’re like me, looking at covers is one of the best things ever!). Here it is!

And the full cover:

For those of you who love reading, The Silent Blade will be releasing on July 22, 2016. I may post about it on my blog, but in case not, Jesseca surely will post about it on her blog, so follow her there!


What’s a prayer that God answered for you recently?

The Silent Blade | Cover Design

Have you ever had those times when you just wanted to do something, so randomly prayed, “Lord, I realize I don’t have to do this, but it’d be nice if…” That was me a few weeks ago. Since all of my writing projects are in the baby-stages of planning and writing, I’ve not had a reason to do one of my favorite hobbies: book cover designing. So, I prayed that, if the Lord saw fit, He’d bless me with the opportunity to design a book cover for someone.
Not even a week after that, I beta-read a book by a Goodreads friend, The Silent Blade. Long story short, we ended up discussing covers and such and she hired me to design her cover! I had so much fun going back and forth, getting to know Jesseca and what she liked, AND finding out that a church-member had a sword for me to photograph! (you never know what happens when you post on FaceBook, “Does anyone have…?”) I am very grateful that the Lord allowed me to come up with a cover that Jesseca loves. That makes it completely worth it for me!
Okay, okay, some of you probably skimmed over all of that so you could see the cover (because, after all, if you’re like me, looking at covers is one of the best things ever!). Here it is!

And the full cover:

For those of you who love reading, The Silent Blade will be releasing on July 22, 2016. I may post about it on my blog, but in case not, Jesseca surely will post about it on her blog, so follow her there!

What’s a prayer that God answered for you recently?