An Excerpt: This Huge Space Inside Me

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An excerpt from my work-in-progress historical fiction novel, The Thrall’s Sword!

“Would she ever realize her efforts to love him could never thaw his icy heart?”

Grace Caylor

(Glossary note: Iosa is the Irish word for Jesus)

“What am I looking for?” I whispered.

Tyra pulled her blanket up to her chin and stared up at the thatched roof above us.

“Sometimes I feel like there’s this huge space inside me, wider and emptier than a starless night. Nothin’ I do can fill it up. Nothin’ but God, nothing but the grace He has given us through Iosa. That may not be what you’re looking for, but it’s what we all need, Sigrid. If it weren’t for God bursting inside of me, I wouldn’t be able to stand Ragnar. I’d run. He’d catch me and whip me. I’d run again. But with God, I’ve learned to have compassion on Ragnar. I’ve learned to fill up this void with Iosa’s love and His… strength.”

Tyra gave a gentle, rippling laugh. “God is good, Siri. He is so, so

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S9: Ends and Beginnings

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For this assignment, I brought ten books out and typed out the beginnings lines and endings lines. It was really interesting to see the differences and similarities in how the authors wrote them. Enjoy!

Crazy Love by Francis Chan

“We all know something’s wrong.”

“May you be able to say at the end of your life, along with Paul, ‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.’ – 1 Timothy 4:7-8 ESV”

I’m reading this book for a girl’s book study at my house. Chan hooks the reader in at the very beginning, getting us to wonder, “What is he talking about? What do I apparently know is wrong?” The ending sentence fully captures the idea of the book, that we need to fight the good fight and keep our faith strong in Christ, which, as he stated at the beginning, isn’t what many Christians are doing right now. When you’re in love with someone, it changes everything, and this book is all about being in love with God.

Duskin by Grace Livingston Hill

“Carol Berkley was still at work in the inner office when the men arrived.”

“’The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her.’”

Hill writes Christian romance, but this one was focused a lot on the action and mystery, which was cool too. The first sentence describes the main character in her office when “the men” or the main villains of the story, arrive. This sets the stage for all the work she does throughout the book in trying to stop the bad guys. Because of her determination to do the right thing, she meets a great guy named Duskin who begins to trust her a lot… and yes, they get married at the end!

Winnie-the-Pooh by Ernest H. Shepard

“Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin.”

“He nodded and went out… and in a moment I heard Winnie-the-Pooh—bump, bump, bump—going up the stairs behind him.”

This just wants me to go “Awww!” because this book is simply adorable. The style is so delightful to read from beginning to end. I love how Shepard goes full circle in describing Christopher Robin taking Pooh downstairs at the beginning of the book to play with his animals, and then going back upstairs at the end of all the crazy tales.

When the Heart Cries by Cindy Woodsmall

“Hannah Lapp covered the basket of freshly covered eggs with her hand, glanced behind her, and bolted down the dirt road.”

“Regardless of the ways things turned out between them, God had a plan.”

This is the first Amish book I ever read, and besides the second two in the series, they are the only Amish books I plan to read, at least for now (I’m not particularity a fan of them, but they’re all right!). Hannah Lapp is an innocent girl at the beginning of the book, which the first sentence captures really well. The last sentence gives a shout-out to the next book to get you to want to read more. It also shows the development of her character from an innocent girl to a young woman who has learned throughout the book to look to God instead of people for her value and purpose.

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

“A throng of bearded men, in sad-colored garments and gray, steeple-crowned hats, intermixed with women, some wearing hoods, and others bareheaded, was assembled in front of a wooden edifice, the door of which was heavily timbered with oak, and studded with iron spikes.”

“‘On a Field, Sable, The Letter A, Gules.’”

The beginning sentence really captures the sad mood of the first chapter, as the Puritans are prepared to bring judgment on the main character, Hester, who has committed adultery. Throughout this book, Hawthorne focuses a lot on description, and often uses colors to help the reader picture things in his or her mind, but also to capture the mood of what’s going on. So, the last sentence, which basically says that the red letter A is in a black background, simply gives a description at first glance. But it also may be describing that the sin of adultery went with Hester even after her death (trust me, guys, I had no idea what the last sentence meant till I looked it up!). So yeah, this is a gloomy book, where both the first and last sentences convey a sad mood.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

“It was a pleasure to burn.”

…And the leaves of the tree were the healing of the nations. Yes, thought Montag, that’s the one I’ll save for noon. For noon… When we reach the city.”

The above sentences reveal the main character, Montag’s transformation throughout the book. He loves to burn books at the beginning of this story, but by the end, instead of desiring to destroy knowledge, he wants to bring it back to the broken world in order to heal it. This is a beautiful conclusion of a profound story about the value and importance of books.

Riley Unlikely by Riley Banks-Snyder with Lisa Velthouse

“If anything has been clear to me over the past seven years, it’s the link between love and craziness.”

“We can’t wait to live with and serve the people of Kibwezi, surrounded by the sounds of children.”

This is a lovable, inspiring memoir about a fourteen-year-old girl who starts a ministry for children in Africa. The first sentence actually comes from the prologue, but I thought I’d use it instead of the one from chapter 1, because it portrays Riley’s heartwarming style. The ending captures that same love she has in her heart, and it really brings out one of the themes of the book: joyfully serving God where He calls you.

Set-Apart Femininity by Leslie Ludy

“It happened when I was 14.”

“Let us live, looking up, looking on, standing true by the grace of Him who called us.” – Amy Carmichael 1867-1961

This is a big slam-you-in-the-face conviction book for young and old women alike. The first sentence leads into a personal story Leslie shares. I love her style of relating personal life stories to reveal how genuine faith works. The last sentence is a wake-up call to action, which is really the theme of the whole book. This non-fiction book really motivates women to live set-apart lives for Christ as lilies among thorns.

The Last Sin Eater by Francine Rivers

“The first time I saw the sin eater was the night Granny Forbes was carried to her grave.”

“For ye are my own little bits of heaven.”

The title of this book may sound weird, but the first sentence goes right into helping you know what on earth a “sin eater” is, which really is what the book is all about. According to legend, the sin eater eats food at funerals, which supposedly eats the dead person’s sins away, letting it consume himself instead, so only he will go to hell and not the dead person. But in this story, a young girl, Cadi, learns of the ultimate sin eater, Jesus, and is changed forever. The last sentence is a sweet scene at the very end, when Cadi is now a grandmother saying goodnight to her grandchildren. It’s interesting that the first and last sentences have something to do with grandmothers. The books starts with the death of Cadi’s grandmother and confusion about the sin eater, and ends with herself being a grandmother with assurance of the ultimate sin eater, Jesus, as she loves and adores her grandchildren. This is an amazing book, and I wish I had time to tell you more about it!

A Voice in The Wind by Francine Rivers

“The city was silently bloating in the hot sun, rotting like the thousands of bodies that lay where they had fallen in street battles.”

“Hunching over, he covered his head and wept.”

This is my favorite book aside from the Bible. Like literally, you need to go buy it right now! Anyway *tries to calm down* the first sentence showcases Rivers’ amazing descriptive style and has a gloomy mood because of the enormous amount of deaths. The last sentence also conveys sorrow because the man believes his true love has died. The intensity and emotion displayed in both of these sentences consists throughout much of the novel. This book is a page-turner, has strong Christian messages, and will endear you to the characters. Warning: you have to be fairly tough skinned to read it, because of how intense it gets at times.

Hope you enjoyed my list! Do you all have any favorite beginnings and/or endings of books?  I would love to hear them!

Speaking of which, I will close with the ending of The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis, which is probably my favorite book endings ever (it’s the last Narnia book): “All their life in this world and all their adventures had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”

S8: The Healer of Istagun Seen and Heard

For the sandbox assignment this week, I was supposed to answer these questions: What song would be the film score for your story? What book would be your main character’s favorite? What TV show(s) would they watch? Perhaps do a celebrity casting. Which famous Hollywood actors would portray your characters best in a movie?

Song: “You’ll be in my heart” by Phil Collins

This song so accurately portrays Dahlia’s love for Hollis throughout the story. So sweet!

Book: “The Healing Touch of Jesus” by Dr. Richard Lee

I’ve never read this book, but it sounds like the perfect thing Dahlia would need… Yeah, I’m not sure she’d pick it up in a bookstore, especially since there are not bookstores in Istagun, and Jesus does not exist in my story world. But if you just changed “Jesus” to “Gesu” it would work perfectly. Gesu represents Jesus, and Dahlia is curious about Gesu’s healing throughout the story and strives to get it for her sister Hollis.

TV series: “ER” created by Michael Crichton

I’ve never watched this, but considering Dahlia’s determination to heal her sister, she might watch it in hopes there might be some medical advice that would help find a cure to the plague.

And for the famous actress… I chose Daisy Ridley.

Dahlia

Daisy Ridley

S5: Chapter 5 of Love Myles

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(Photo by Bryan Goff on Unsplash)

So this week in my creative writing class the assignment was to write chapter 5 of someone else’s novella in the class! I chose Megan N’s Love Myles book. It was definitely a challenge, but now I almost want to write the rest of her book! It’s a great story. Go check out her novel blog here.

Dear Ruthie,

I had a dream last night. I know I used to tell you about my dreams all the time, and they never made sense. But this one did.

It was about you.

You were smiling at me. We were running across an open glade. Earth. It was surprising, like seeing an old friend. The one blazing sun, the wide blue sky, and the fields of grass.
Finally, we climbed up the ladder to the tree house, and you told me a story. You smiled at me again, but suddenly the tree house shook and the whole earth quaked like it was being juggled in the universe by the hand of God.

I couldn’t see anymore. I couldn’t see your smile. I heard you crying out to me, and I tried to reach for you, but I felt the wood of the treehouse collapsing and I heard my heart pounding so loudly until everything caught on fire, scorching my skin and blinding me.

And then it was gone. Not just the treehouse, but the sun, the sky, the grass—and you, Ruthie. I cried out for you, but you were gone.

It was so dark. Clearly, I miscalculated when I’d hit the ground again. The whole Earth disappeared, and it was only me. Only me and the stars.

But I awoke again, so I know now it was just a dream. That only confirms the reality that I’m here, and not with you. It confirms that I will never see you again. I have to admit this truth, but I can’t stop writing to you either. I have to continue on, without forgetting the past. I have to keep going, with the fleeting hope that you’re here with me through all this, reading about my travels.

Soshomia has convinced Cola’s parents to let him travel with us. I don’t know if I want him to come, since his vain endeavors to act like a human reminds me that I’m so far away from home. But Soshomia is determined he comes with us. He is only one of a few who can speak English. He may help us find the answers to why I am here, and how I got here.

We took off from Fabulinus in the late morning.

“You excited, man?” Cola grinned at me.

“Yeah.” I shrugged. His use of “man” annoyed me. My guy friends in high school always talked like that, but a green monkey-human-alien wasn’t supposed to talk like that. Especially not thousands of years in the future.

“How are we going to do this, Soshomia?” I asked.

I was anxious to get back to Sidhe. The few days I had been there with Soshomia had already made me feel like it was somehow home. Not Earth home, but a temporary home anyway.

Soshomia didn’t seem to be hearing me as she worked the controls on the ship.

“I mean, how are we going to find the answers?”

“We’re going to the planet Huro,” she said finally. “There’s a man who knows about ships…. and humans.”

So she did have a plan. I wondered if she had been sorting the words out in her head to make sure she spoke it properly.

“Your English is getting better,” I told her.

That put a smile on her face. Whenever she smiles, she makes me think of you.

“What’s up, guys?” Cola asked suddenly, even though he had been hanging with us this whole time. “What are we trying to figure out, anyway?”

I laughed a little but didn’t answer.

“Myles… mysterious!” Soshomia pointed at me as her eyes sparkled. She was a very simple person—if a person is what you’d call her—but she was somehow beautiful.

Cola looked at me and patted me on the back. “Mysterious. Hm. Well if we’re going to solve a mystery like they do in Sherlock Holmes, I’m in!”

Soshomia looked extremely confused.

I shook my head. This guy never ceased to amaze me with his knowledge about Earth.

“We don’t know how I got here, two thousand years into the future,” I explained to him.

“And we don’t know what happened to the rest of my friends on the space mission.”

His eyes widened and then he scratched his neck. “Well, yeah, I was wondering I guess about how you came here. That’s really weird!”

“Answers found here, I’m hoping,” Soshomia said, pointing down at the little brown planet we saw through the clear glass window of the ship.

Answers. I don’t know why, but I hate the idea. I’m angry that we have to find anything. Part of me just wants to drift off into space and forget. But at the same time I know Soshomia is doing what she can to help me. And I keep telling myself that if you were here, you’d do the same.

We landed on Huro with a jolt. It was a desert, with strange creatures of all shapes and sizes passing through a market place.

After Soshomia received the intelligent man’s address, we arrived at his house. He had a bald head and was much larger than the tallest humans I’ve ever known. He had red eyes and red fingernails, but his body was human-shaped.

“Hello,” he said in Likpirksar. Evidently, we were not far from Sidhe.

Soshomia chirped some words back that I couldn’t quite understand.

The alien giant let us into his enormous house and pointed to leather chairs for us to sit on. Only I was certain the chairs were made from an animal very different than a cow, leather was just the closest thing to what it looked and felt like.

As the man pressed some buttons on a machine, a screen appeared on the stone wall with numbers, all while Soshomia chattered on and on to him in Likpirksar.

Two thousand years ago. That’s what Soshomia was saying. So much time had passed.

Soon I saw the same numbers on the screen: 2000. It went black for a moment as the man pressed more buttons, and then a picture and an article appeared. The picture was of a ship. My ship.

“This was sent around the galaxies,” Cola exclaimed, translating their words for me. “And they don’t know how it disappeared, along with its passengers. The article is about the mystery of this disappearing space mission.”

Soshomia’s Likpirksar was clearer now. She was telling the giant who I was.

Suddenly, the man’s calloused face turned as red as his eyes and his massive body ran towards me. Soshomia and Cola cried out, but they were hopeless to do anything. I struggled to fight against him, but it was no use against his strong arms.

That’s why I’m here now, Ruthie. Here under the ground of a strange planet, writing to you.

I’ll write again soon.

Love,
Myles

 

NP2: Chapter 2 of The Healer of Istagun – Prima

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(Image from Google)

This is the second chapter of my ten-chapter fantasy novella. I will be posting a chapter every week. Click here to read Chapter 1. Hope you enjoy!

Chapter 2

Prima

I knocked at the door of the thatched roof house. Tap, tap. Ratta-tap. I waited for a moment, then knocked again.

A spindly fairy with fluttering wings opened it, her mouth immediately twisting into a tight grimace. “Gesu wants to see no one—you should get some sleep, little girl.”

I found it funny that she’d call me little, when I was a foot taller than she. Though I supposed eighteen was young compared to the hundreds of years the fairies lived.

“I’m Dahlia and I have an important request,” I said quickly, noticing the blue glass wand she held tightly in her white fist. “Can he heal a girl with the Livs?”

The fairy tapped her wand on the door frame. Tick, tick, tick. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

I grabbed her wand, trying to yank it out of her hand. “Hollis is going to die. She needs Gesu’s help.”

Tears came, whether real or pretended I could not tell. I was sorry about my sister and in a hurry all at once. Sinking to my knees, I begged the fairy to help me.

Suddenly I heard the high chatter of several fairies at the door.

“Oh my! What do we do?”

“Poor child, don’t you turn her into sawdust, Prima.”

“Cheer up, girl, Gesu is still awake; I’ll go see if he could help just one more.”

It worked. Of course it did. That was the fairies’ weakness. They gave into sympathy far too easily.

“Get along, ladies—I’ll do the work. You know you can’t be seen.” And with that the fairies’ chatter disappeared before I could ever see one of their faces.

Now Prima, the spindly fairy who had opened the door, pulled me up to my feet. Her pink lips managed a quick, prim smile. “You aren’t goin’ to cry again, are ya?”

Her light green wings beat steadily, as calm as a Spring fairy’s would. I’d never seen a Summer fairy so calm. Or maybe it was I who felt calm in her presence. I imagined the rippling of tall grass and a faint coo-coo of a dove from the woods. Suddenly conscious of myself, I glanced at the wand in her hand. Prima. She must be the soother fairy—after firing up people’s emotions first, of course.

The fairy touched my cheek with her long, slender finger. “No more tears, Dahlia,” she said.

I nodded, slowly. Maybe I should get to sleep.

Wait, what was I thinking!?

Prima lead me into the living room to Gesu, who was seated on an armchair, staring into the fireplace. When he saw me, he ushered me in to sit down on the couch.

The man was broad-shouldered, strong, yet he slouched in the leathery chair as though he was a small fairy with droopy wings. “Why have you come?” he asked, his intense, soulful eyes staring into me.

My cheeks burned. I realized all at once how foolish I’d been to come here and interrupt this man’s rest from the day’s chaos.

“My sister is dead,” I told him, “or will be if you don’t help. She’s in Spring. Is there any way we can get to her and you can heal her? She has the Livs.”

Gesu scratched his dark bristly beard. “No one can cross into another season unless it is their Time.”

I narrowed my brows but managed to level my frustration in my voice as I said, “Yes, of course, sir. But there must be some way, with your powers—”

“—his powers are for healing, Dahlia,” Prima interrupted, her pretty face contorting into an ugly scowl. “He can do nothing more, so you might as well—”

Gesu raised his hand to stop her. “You are right to say that my powers are for healing, Prima. My mission is to heal. And I will use my power to do anything that will bring about such healing.” He smiled at me. “Anything at all.”

Prima looked at him in dead silence, paled, flapping her wings slowly in the shadowy corner.

I wanted to shout at the top of my lungs, but aware of the respect due to this man, I spoke quietly: “Thank you very much, sir.”

I was speechless after that.

Gesu and Prima did not speak either, as if waiting for me to say something, but for some reason I did not know of anything I wished to say.

“Who are you, Gesu?” I said, because it needed to be said, because if it wasn’t said, I wouldn’t know what to do. Was he trustworthy?

The man lifted his eyes to mine. “It is not the time to reveal such things. I am Gesu, the healer, and that is all you need to know.”

“Of course,” I said quickly, remembering why I was here again. “Please, help me. Hollis is in Spring. Do what you must do to get her out, and to heal her before it’s too late.”

After studying me closely again, Gesu rose from his big leathery chair. “Prima, I need to talk to you alone.”

When the door to another room shut, I gazed at the pictures on the walls.

A painting hung on the wall for each stage of Gesu’s life: first as a newborn, held in the arms of a mother; then as a boy, smiling with a bouquet of flowers; then as a teenager, hard at work in the mines; and then as the forty-year-old he was today, smiling with Minerva by his side. The last one must have been painted today to celebrate her healing, I thought, although bewildered. Even more perplexing was the fact that at each stage, he was surrounded by fairies—not one brand of fairies, but a colorful mixture of yellow Spring fairies, green Summer fairies, orange Autumn fairies, and blue Winter fairies. I had never realized what color the Autumn and Winter fairies were, but now it was obvious, as if I had known it all my life.

Were those the fairies I had heard chatting earlier, the ones Prima had shooed away?

Soon Gesu and Prima returned; Gesu, solemn, Prima, smiling.

“I’m expected to be transferred to Autumn soon,” Gesu said. “Getting a little old, I suppose.”

I tried to laugh, but it came out short and stiff. Why was I afraid of him?

“Prima will take you to Spring.”

But how? I wanted to ask. What was he going to do about the mud walls?

“You will find the way—both of you, together. And I will always be with you.”

The pixie’s wings fluttered ever so slightly as she gazed up in admiration at the huge man.

I shivered, even though the regular warmth of Spring encased me with sweat. I didn’t know what Gesu meant, or who he was. I didn’t know if I could trust him, or this dainty fairy who baffled me almost as much as himself. What if this was a trap? What if Gesu was trying to get rid of me, to let me face the wrath of Queen Hazina, the ruler of Istagun, the builder of the towering mud walls?

All I knew was that Hollis needed me. And she was worth whatever risk I had to take.

NPO: Outline of My Novella

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Photo by Alejandro Escamilla on Unsplash

This is a rough outline of my 10 chapter novella, The Healer of Istagun. Don’t read if you don’t want it spoiled!! Enjoy if you’re a fan of spoilers. ;D

Chapter 1 –
As Dahlia and Andrea work on the fields of Summer, evil fairies order them about and Andrea points out that there’s a young man staring at Dahlia. They argue about their views on marriage, and then the young man comes up and announces to all the Summer fairies that there’s a great healer named Gesu in town. Andrea and Dahlia go to see the healer performing miracles, and Dahlia wants to ask Gesu if he can somehow heal her sister who lives in Spring, but the crowd gets in her way. A long while later she wakes up from consciousness to find the young man asking her if she’s all right. She asks where Andrea is and he tells her. They introduce themselves. Then Dahlia bluntly states she never wants to get married, which sends Tarquin off running.

Chapter 2 –
Dahlia finds Gesu’s house and tries to get in but Prima the green fairy says he’s busy. Finally, after Dahlia makes a show of crying, Prima and many other fairies who appear give in and let her in. After encountering the strange soothing powers of Prima, Dahlia meets Gesu and asks if he can help. During her encounter with Gesu, she discovers pictures of Gesu with fairies from all four seasons. Gesu tells Prima he needs to talk to her alone, and so they go in another room. Dahlia waits in suspense, and then Gesu comes back and tells her that he is busy so Prima is going to take her to Spring. He tells Prima that she will find a way, with the power he gave her when she was a child

Chapter 3 –
During the trip Prima tells Dahlia about how Gesu has magic beyond healing, and that’s why so many fairies willingly serve him instead of the ruler (albeit in secret). She says that he’s more powerful than the ruler, but he’s waiting for the right time to overthrow the fairies. When Dahlia and Prima approach the wall that separates them from Spring, they don’t know how to get on the other side. They try to dig under but give up. Prima suggests she flies over and asks for someone named Hollis, but they know it would take too long, and Dahlia wants to see her sister for herself. Finally, Dahlia tries to climb the wall and Prima flies, trying to pull her up, but they just fall. Then they watch as fairies pass through it (the mud walls move apart magically for them); they try to just walk right through it, but then the muddy walls show that they are mud monsters and they throw Dahlia and Prima away. After much hopelessness, Prima remembers what Gesu said about the power he gave her, and they rush back. Prima soothes the mud monsters and they let them pass through the wall.

Chapter 4 –
Hollis isn’t in Spring. The fairies don’t remember where she went. Little kids are dying from a plague (They don’t know how it’s spread, but later find out that the ruler is trying to kill everyone because he wants to replace them with the Treelanders—their drinking water comes from a water fall Queen Hazina is poisoning). Dahlia hopes she went to Summer, but Prima says she probably went to Winter since she couldn’t work.

Chapter 5 –
Because Dahlia insists on being hopeful, she and Prima return to Summer. But they can’t find Hollis. In fact, they can’t find a lot of other people, and the people they do find are sick (there’s a plague?). And there’s no cure, not even the great healer, because Gesu is gone with all his fairies (no one knows where). So Andrea and Hollis and a lot of other sick people are in Winter, where the dying people and old people go. When Dahlia is looking in the last sick room for Hollis, she sees Tarquin helping the sick. He sees that she is one of the few people not sick and he hurries her and Prima to a room in the basement so she doesn’t catch the sickness and so they can talk without so much noise (he takes his gloves and mouth cover off.) (Just as Dahlia and Prima entered the room, a green fairy enters who doesn’t want anyone to help the people get better and doesn’t want anyone to find Gesu). Tarquin says that he was planning to go find Gesu if she’d like to come along. Prima suggests they try to find Gesu with Tarquin in Autumn on the way to the center of the island because the only other place Hollis could be is in Winter—and maybe Gesu can come with them. Dahlia sees the ship and Tarquin tells her about how he was building it so he could one day sail away (there were rumors about people called Treelanders who lived across the sea). Tarquin makes Dahlia dress up as a miner and they figure Prima can act as a fairy who is putting Dahlia on a new job.

Chapter 6 –
Tarquin, Dahlia, and Prima go to the mine to see if anyone knows where Gesu and his fairies are, but no one knows where they are. A lot of people there are sick, so that’s all the more reason to hurry up and find Gesu. (Dahlia wonders if her parents are there but she never sees them.) The three go to the center of Istagun and see the giant tower and all the fairies. (They hear about the Treelanders who are locked up. Someone says that they are going to take the place of the humans because they are a stronger species.). They try to find their way to Winter, but there are heavy guards, and they are taken to the palace to talk to Queen Hazina. Tarquin asks the ruler where Gesu is. The ruler says he put him in winter where he will quickly die. The ruler puts Tarquin in a dungeon and then throws Dahlia and Prima back into Summer with severe headache spells that make them take awhile to get their bearings.

Chapter 7 –
Not wanting to risk the dungeon by going to the center of the island again, Dahlia decides to go on Tarquin’s almost-built ship around the island to Winter with others who want their sick loved ones back. On the ship Prima says, “Gesu isn’t like the others—people just try to live, but Gesu lives–people just try to be good, but Gesu actually wants to be good and gives people the power they need to be more than alive.” Prima gazed off in the distance. “He isn’t like the others—he wants the whole world to be happy—he loves us, Dahlia—no one else is like that,” Prima took a little breath and sighed. “That’s why I love him, too.” Dahlia and Prima see the winter fairies at sea on the way, where Dahlia sees a bunch of dead people including Gesu (they are taking them to Midfuna Island—where humans are buried). One bad fairy says she’s going to go tell Queen Hazina, and she flies off. Dahlia and Prima have no choice but to go to Winter to see who is left alive. Dahlia finds Tarquin holding the frozen Hollis by a warm fire. He says that a ship went off with all the dead people, and he saved Hollis (he says this very humbly though! XD). Tarquin says he still couldn’t find Gesu, and Dahlia says where she saw him. Dahlia suggests everyone goes to the village where the old people live so they can warm up. Old people gladly welcome them and invite them in and help Hollis get better. The old people figure Queen Hazina didn’t give any poison to them because nothing can grow in Winter, so “it doesn’t matter what happens to them.” Tarquin finds the fairy followers of Gesu and tells her about the song they keep singing, “Long live the King, who will never be King! One drop of his blood, will meet all our needs!”

Chapter 8 –
So Tarquin and Dahlia and the Gesu-fairy followers go on the ship to Midfuna Island to find Gesu. On the way Tarquin and Dahlia talk about the horrible fairies and how no one else seems to realize how horrible they are (“Prima would be offended”). After they find Gesu (by hiding from the winter fairies with help from the Gesu-fairies’ powers), they see that he is dead and then they take his blood and put it in a bottle. They go back to Winter and see that there is a huge battle going on, between the few rebels and old people and the ruler and his fairies. The rebels and elderly are clearly losing.

Chapter 9 –
So Tarquin and Dahlia quickly go about giving the sick people Gesu’s blood (She sees Andrea—and Andrea says something “annoying” about Tarquin). People are healed and they start to help fight the battle—including Dahlia’s parents, who recognize her, and they have a short reunion before they have to go into battle. Gesu’s blood gives them extra power and they win over the fairies and the mud wall monsters—and everything turns into summer. Tarquin and the queen start to fight, but Hollis says to stop, because she has something to tell Queen Hazina. Hollis tells the fairy queen that Dahlia looked so hard for her, and she asks her if she ever knew that kind of love. She says that Gesu died trying to heal everyone, and she asks him if she ever knew that kind of love. She points out that she’s been enslaving the humans to do certain tasks at certain times in certain ways. She says that she’s separated the people so the children grow up without mothers and the parents have to say goodbye to their babies as soon as their born: “How can you let us live like this? Don’t you know anything about love, about loss, about healing? Where is your family, Queen?” The speech deeply moves the queen, but Tarquin quickly kills her in anger. The people are happy and decide to crown Tarquin as the new king.

Chapter 10 –
The Gesu-follower fairies have a funeral for Gesu and talk about all that he did for them. They sing sadly, “Long live the King, who will never be king; only the King in our hearts, to all humans and fairies.” Dahlia and Hollis talk about how they thought the queen was going to change until Tarquin killed him. Dahlia and Hollis reunite with their family. Tarquin knocks on their door and tells Dahlia that he’s going to set the Treelanders free and then sail them off across the sea. He asks Dahlia if she would marry him and be queen and go on the adventure across the sea for their honeymoon. Dahlia is conflicted: she is mad at Tarquin for not giving Queen a second chance, but happy in a way that he is king. Tarquin insists that he is sorry. Finally, Hollis reminds Dahlia of how he took care of her when she was frozen, so then Dahlia agrees to marry him.

 

 

Sandbox: How You Might Feel About My New Novella

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(Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash)

Warning: Spoiler Alert! I will be posting the chapters week by week, so don’t read this if you don’t want the story spoiled. 😉
This assignment was to imagine someone opening your completed novella and describe how they might think and feel about it.

Trinity Peters browsed the bookshelf at the library. Her eyes caught onto a colorful book with the title, The Healer of Istagun. She slid it out, examined the back cover, sat down in a comfy chair, and read it carefully.

The book took her on a fantasy journey with a young girl named Dahlia, who was trying to find her sick sister. Trinity thought about her mother who was in the hospital with breast cancer and understood the scary unknowns of illness. She found the powerful healer Gesu quite fascinating, and she wished there was some quick cure in real life.

Prima the fairy was always jabbering on about whatever, which got Trinity to chuckle a bit. That fairy and Dahlia seemed to be in some love-hate relationship. Trinity wished Dahlia would realize how much Prima was helping her.

As Tarquin showed his ship in the basement that he had built in hopes to sail away from this land of enslavement, Trinity couldn’t help but want Dahlia and Tarquin to end up together in the end. But Dahlia kept shoving his kindness and special attention aside. Why wouldn’t this girl give the poor guy a chance? She read faster, wondering how Dahlia’s heart was going to change.

Andrea was a bit annoying, Trinity had to admit. Dahlia had a point about bringing misery on her children if she got married, since the parents and children had to be separated immediately after birth. Those evil fairies were certainly evil! And Andrea seemed absolutely clueless, wanting Dahlia to just have fun with her life and marry somebody.

The story world naturally intrigued Trinity. Queen Hazina was a powerhouse, wanting all the age groups separated into never-ending seasons. If Trinity never saw her parents or didn’t know anything about them, she’d be totally confused and lost in the world. There wouldn’t be older people to give advice. Now that she thought about it, she’d probably do a lot of foolish things if only peers surrounded her. She couldn’t imagine the pain of being separated from children she had as soon as she gave birth. And with working as a slave all the time to that wicked Queen, she knew she’d be infuriated by the injustice of it all!

As the book approached the climax, Trinity wondered how Dahlia and Tarquin were going to help the hundreds of sick people, if Gesu was really dead. She watched as the two got his blood and fed it to the sick. Ew! Were these people actually vampires? But no, Gesu’s blood actually turned out to magically heal the sick and give them extraordinary power. Wait, was this some allegory thing? Trinity thought. Did Gesu represent Jesus saving us and giving us the Holy Spirit, after His blood was shed for us? These thoughts confirmed in Trinity’s mind the power of Jesus’ death.

The book ended with Tarquin the King of Istagun, asking Dahlia to be his wife so they could venture to the land across the sea to take the Treelanders home and to explore the new land. Clearly, the spirit of Gesu was with them all.

Trinity set down the book, realizing the library was just now closing. Great. Just in time. She went home pondering sickness and healing, the relationship between age groups in society, and the power of Jesus’ blood, which brought her life in abundance.

Well, this might be an idealized version of what I hope readers will get from my novella. But with God’s help, perhaps I can give you something worthwhile and meaningful for you to enjoy and think about.

CW14: Memories and Cheesecake

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So my creative writing teacher told us: “Give me some words that you would use to describe a restaurant.” So we said “okay” and gave her these: light, clatter, specials, cheesecake, spill, bacon, gratuity, bitter, delectable, tip, matre’d, mmmmmm, tasty, atmosphere, cheap, menu

Guess what she said next? “Write something without the setting of a restaurant using all of these words!”

This story is the result of that…

I pumped my feet over the bicycle pedals, taking in the glorious light of the sun setting in the west, glowing behind enormous clouds.

Evan had been pedaling behind me without speaking a word for five or ten minutes now. I only knew he was still there because I kept hearing the clatter of his gears on his rusty bicycle. No doubt that old bike was bitter of the many years of forced outdoor adventures, rumbling on the long stretches of dirt roads surrounded by the painfully flat Kansas prairies.

I made an effort at conversation: “How’s it working at the diner, being the handsome matre’d and all?”

“It’s all right.” He laughed a little, but he kept pedaling slowly behind me. His poor bike didn’t even let him keep up with his five foot girlfriend. Or was there something else on his mind?

“I’d go for a delectable slice of cheesecake right now,” I said, imagining the tasty dessert on my tongue. I remembered that first date we spent at the diner, sharing a slice of cheesecake, since we were poor college students and that was the only thing cheap enough on the menu. That was a few months ago, when our fascination for one another was at its peak. How could something that had seemed so real wear off so soon? I hoped it truly hadn’t. I hoped he still loved me.

“Strawberry cheesecake is one of the specials right now,” he murmured from behind me.

Mmmmmm.” Now the thought of cheesecake made my stomach rumble as I pedaled along. I gazed at the vast fields of wheat and corn that spread out endlessly to the horizon where the warm yellows and reds of sunlight continuously took my breath away. The atmosphere was so quiet and empty, yet strangely beautiful, calming my wearied spirit from the week of college finals that had so overwhelmed me. I set my foot down to stop the bike and stared off at the sunset.

“Why’d ya stop?” Evan said, as if forcing a playfulness in his tone.

I turned toward him, narrowing my brows. “Remember when you walked up to my table so carefully, trying not to spill the eggs and bacon?”

Evan managed a smile. “How could I forget?”

Heat flooded my cheeks, doubts surfacing within me. I was probably making him feel uncomfortable; he probably didn’t want to be here. For all I knew, he brought me here to announce that he wanted to break up. Yet I continued, “And that’s when it all started, when you started talking to me more, and I realized you liked me…”

“You gave me the biggest tip.” Evan grinned, but there was a hesitance in his dark, penetrating eyes.

“I call it gratuity.”

“Of course, Miss English Major.” He chuckled at the familiar joke, but then uncertainty filled his expression again and he searched my face. “Lydia, remember that night during Bible study?”

I nodded, but I didn’t know why he brought it up now. That had been the days before we started dating, when I had first met him, but also when I had first met the Lord.

Still sitting on his bike behind me, he stretched his hand out to me, so I shifted my body on the bike seat and reached my hand back toward him to clasp hold of his strong hand.

“Remember the Scripture we read that stirred your heart?” His voice was gentle, bringing back the memory of the Bible passage we’d read in our small group that night, a year before the incident at the diner.

“A little bit,” I said, trying to remember everything. “It was about Martha, listening to Jesus. He told her He was the resurrection and the life.”

He squeezed my hand, the warmth in his fingers comforting me.

We stared at each other in awe, holding hands, never wanting to let go. “Yes, Lydia,” Evan said, his voice returning with the passion and hope I’d so long associated with him. “Jesus is life.”

“And he brought me life again—through your message, that very night.” Tears filled my eyes again, but for a different reason than before. Even today, Evan was the leader of a small group of young men and women, often speaking passionately about the Scriptures, helping us to understand the heart of the gospel better. The Holy Spirit had convicted me through his message that night, bringing me to a place where I could fully trust in Jesus as my Savior.

But I didn’t understand why he was bringing this up at a time like this. “I thought you wanted to break up with me, Evan. I thought that’s why you brought me here.”

The young man pedaled his old rusty bike slowly till it sat close beside me. “The thought never crossed my mind, Lydia. I love you. I’ve just been tired, so tired. Between school and work at the diner, I feel like I have no time for you. I feel like we’ve grown distant, and that it’s my fault. I’m sorry.”

As he reached out and touched my cheek, his tenderness stunned me. I hadn’t felt like this in a long time, like he truly adored me. I let the tears fall down face. “I forgive you, Evan. I felt the same way, but I don’t feel that way anymore. We’re going to serve Jesus together, I’m sure of it. Wherever we are, me as an English teacher, or if you really become a pastor…”

Sitting astride our bikes, we gazed out into the empty prairie at the bright glint of the sun in the west that was now almost hidden completely under the earth. It was getting dark, but neither of us wanted to go back to the city.

Evan smiled at me, a hope burning in his eyes, and I couldn’t help but be assured of his love for me. “Or I could serve Jesus right now, as a handsome matre’d?”

“Or that. Maybe you could serve Him some delectable strawberry cheesecake…” After a moment my nervous chuckle exploded into a long, joyous laugh, as I realized he was finally laughing in return.

J14: 3 Tips on How to Write Powerful Fiction

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I’m far from being a bestselling author, but I have been working on a book for three years, along with writing stories, poetry, and articles on this blog during that time span. Through those things, I’ve gathered some ideas about how to write well. When it comes down to it, if you want to write well, you probably want to write powerfully, making an impact on your readers’ life long after they’ve read your words. I could write on and on about how to write in general, but I thought these were the most important tips I have learned for how to write the most inspiring, long-lasting writing that fills both a reader’s mind and heart.

1. Write for a purpose. Writing with a purpose in mind is so needed in this age of useless, even harmful stories, that eagerly step in time with the culture of depravity. The most meaningful pieces I’ve written have not only meant the most to me, but have meant the most to those who read them. When you write for a Reason other than applause, a Purpose other than man’s approval, that’s when God steps in and moves people’s hearts. It’s not what you write that changes people, it’s how you write. If you only write beautiful sentences without any meaning, your reader may enjoy your writing, but they won’t learn from it—it will just go in one ear and out the other. If you want to impact people with your writing, you not only need to write beautifully, you need to write purposefully.

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” — 1 Corinthians 10:31

2. Write from your heart. Along with writing for a higher purpose than simply pleasure, most writers long to draw their readers into their story, feeling the same way they do. Unfortunately, this emotional method if gone to far can have dire consequences, such as exciting sinful thoughts, so this aspect of writing must be carefully balanced. This might seem odd for me to say this, but I really think if you want to write for the glory of God, you must write as both His child and as a human being—as a Christian actually living out their faith, yet also as a human who has emotions they have to deal with. Because in order to create meaningful writing, there must be deep emotions that readers can relate with. If you express your emotions on paper, you’re drawing the reader into very real emotions that you yourself have experienced. Yet after shedding light on this darkness, if you reveal the Light of lights, the Lord of Lords, who overcomes all the fear, anguish, and despair we’ve ever felt, we allow the reader to hopefully experience true confidence in the gospel of Christ. Without darkness, the light seems normal, but with it, its anything but normal—its your last chance, your forever love, your absolute desire. So don’t write blandly. Pour out your heart on paper your crippling feelings, but balance it out by passionately writing about the gospel that pulls us through trials, allowing the reader to both relate and learn from your writing, especially helping them if they ever go through a similar hardship.

“Lessons of wisdom have the most power over us when they capture the heart through the groundwork of a story, which engages the passions.” — Laurence Sterne

3. Create dynamics in characters, scenes, and plots. Although this one’s a bit more on the practical side of things, I think it fits in well with this article because it is, I believe, a main part of how to write powerfully. So, what do I mean by dynamics? You need to create opposing forces, such as an extravert versus an introvert, a mouse blinking up at a lion, a bad guy dangling a little girl off a cliff. Simple, right? Now think further. Irony, the presentation of something that is the opposite of what we’d expect, is also a huge part of creating dynamics. For creating dynamic characters, think of the character Reepacheep in Narnia who thinks of himself as an honorable fighter, which catches us by surprise, because it’s the opposite of what we expect from a mouse (Usually when I think mouse, I think timid, weak, and afraid.)

When it comes to creating dynamics in scenes, think contrast. You don’t want the same thing happening, or the same feelings going on all the time. This one’s hard to explain, so here’s an example from a book I’m writing:

“Early the next morning, I awoke with a feeling of peacefulness, until the sharp odor of death filled my nostrils. Suddenly, I was hit by the horrific memories of the day before.”

Instead of the character waking up immediately terrified, she wakes up feeling at peace, only moments later to remember everything and grow afraid. This contrast in feelings within a scene creates dynamics and tension, making the reader much more in tune with the characters’ emotions.

For fun, here’s a picture of what I imagine the main character, Sigrid, to look like in my book, The Thrall’s Sword, which you can read about here.

chelsea-ferenando-203544.jpgPhoto by Chelsea Ferenando on Unsplash

Finally, you can create dynamics within the plot by having both moments of success and failures, both happiness and despair. You especially want to create that high climax, truly putting your characters at their wits’ end, so the grand beautiful happy ending (if you choose to have one) is much more realistic and satisfying.

jared-sluyter-342881.jpgPhoto by Jared Sluyter on Unsplash

Overall, I’ve learned that writing powerfully has to do not with what you write, but with how you write. Are you writing for yourself or for something Higher than yourself? Are you writing mere words or are you writing from your heart? And are you simply writing a mild story with hardly any contrasting elements, or are you creating dynamics through characters, scenes, and the plot?

These are the questions I think every fiction writer needs to think about, and they can be applied to nonfiction, too. I hope you benefit from what I’ve learned. Now, fellow writer, the pages are waiting for you to shake things up a bit!

Do you have any writing advice you’ve learned? Feel free to share in the comments!

 

Abigail the Intelligent

I flipped the thin, floury matzo over in the pan. My thoughts wandered over the writings of Moses, which the wise servant, Uri, had read aloud to me and the other servants last night. Though I wasn’t a servant to any master myself, I cherished the words, knowing I was a servant of God. “Love the Lord your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him.”

That I resolved to do with all my might.

Shira was singing gently to the Lord as she swept the ashes of the fire back into the pit. It cheered me to know my dear servant loved God as I did, that together we could do what was right, we could love and forgive, we could choose honor in the midst of my husband, Nabal’s, depravity.

But Nabal himself—oh, had I spent long hours thinking and praying for him, at one moment loving him as the Lord showed mercy on the repenting slaves who escaped Egypt, and at the next moment hating him as the Lord showed wrath on stubborn Pharaoh with the crashing reunion of the Red Sea.

I noticed the flatbread was burning, so I quickly turned it over. Shira and I glanced at each other, and she laughed at me.

“Mistress Abigail, you’ve burnt the matzo again.”

Her sweet laughter shook me until I almost wanted to cry. I hadn’t realized how stiff and nervous I’d been.

When Shira saw that I did not laugh, she said, “I’m sorry, mistress, I didn’t mean any harm. I should hold my tongue next time.”

“No, Shira, you’re all right,” I said quietly. I watched the half-burnt matzo sizzle in the pan, intent to keep the other side from burning as well.

“May I ask what you are thinking about, mistress?” she asked, as she continued to sweep, sweep in the rustling, breathing rhythm of broom against floor.

“Nabal.” I flipped the cooked matzo onto a platter abruptly. “That fool gets drunk every night in our chambers. I don’t look forward to when he comes back from the sheep shearing.” My eyes brimmed with tears. “But, God help me, I’ll shall continue to love him in hopes that one day he will repent and turn to the Lord.”

Shira paused beside me and laid a hand on my shoulder. “I’m sorry, mistress, it must be so hard for you. If I dare say this, Master Nabal doesn’t think things through. I’m just glad David and his men are around to protect the sheep from thieves, when Nabal developed no plan to do that. He and his men are so good to us.”

“Yes,” I murmured. “Thank the Lord for David.”

 

***

As Shira and I were washing the dishes by the stream, Uri, the servant whom I held gratitude for reading the Scriptures to me, approached me with concern. “David sent messengers from the wilderness to give our master his greetings, but he hurled insults at them. Yet these men were very good to us. They did not mistreat us, and the whole time we were out I the fields near them nothing was missing. Night and day they were a wall around us the whole time we were herding our sheep near them.”

He looked earnestly at me. “Now think it over and see what you can do, because disaster is hanging over our master and his whole household. He is such a wicked man that no one can talk to him.”

I set the dishes aside and sprang to my feet. Shira followed after me as I sprinted to the kitchen.

“Servants!” I called, banging on a pot in an attempt to get them all to come. One by one my servants came to me.

“Please listen and be quick to obey,” I begged, “for it is Nabal and many of our lives that are in danger.”

Their attention was rapt. And so I assigned them orders to collect two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five dressed sheep, about sixty pounds of roasted grain, a hundred cakes of raisins, and two hundred cakes of pressed figs.

If this doesn’t put some sense in the man, I thought, then I don’t know what will.

I called for the donkeys. The servants helped me pack the abundant food on their saddles.

Turning to the male servants, I said, “Go on ahead; I’ll follow you.”

Holding the reins of the donkeys, the servants trekked off on a mountain path.

“Shira,” I said, “Please stay here to attend to the household, and do whatever Nabal tells you to when he comes home.”

“Yes, Mistress.” She smiled. “And no, I won’t say a word to him about what you’ve done.”

I attempted a feeble smile in return.

***

I rode my favorite donkey down a mountain path, uneasy at every turn. Would he grant my request, or slay me at his first glance at me, simply because I was the wife of such a beast?

“Dear Lord,” I prayed. “Let this man listen to me, please. Don’t let him turn against Nabal and me and the rest of the household. Please, Lord, have favor on me; grant us mercy, though we don’t deserve it.”

As I entered a mountain ravine, I saw David and his men coming down to me from the opposite side. I also saw my own servants hidden with the donkeys burdened with gifts behind some trees.

I had never actually seen David before, only having heard about him from the servants, but it wasn’t hard to tell which one among his men he was. He was in the front of his men with the strong stature of a great leader and a quiver of arrows at his side. Yet there was a kindness in his dark eyes, and he rode slowly toward me on his donkey, as if to try not to scare me.

Hurriedly, I stepped down from my donkey and rushed to bow before him so my face touched the ground. “Pardon your servant, my lord,” I pleaded, “and let me speak to you; hear what your servant has to say. Please pay no attention, my lord, to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name—his name means Fool, and folly goes with him.”

Trying to contain the resentment inside me, I drew a deep breath. “And as for me, your servant, I did not see the men my lord sent. And now, my lord, as surely as the Lord your God lives and as you live, since the Lord has kept you from bloodshed and from avenging yourself with your own hands, may your enemies and all who are intent on harming my lord be like Nabal.”

I ushered the servants forward. They led the donkeys to David, revealing the abundant supply of food that could nourish David and his men.

“And let this gift,” I said, “which your servant has brought to my lord, be given to the men who follow you.”

I closed my eyes, still on my knees before this great leader. Tears dripped down my cheeks, as I clung to the only hope of survival I had for Nabal as well as Uri and the other male servants. “Please forgive your servant’s presumption. The Lord your God will certainly make a lasting dynasty for my lord, because you fight the Lord’s battles, and no wrongdoing will be found in you as long as you live.”

Remembering what I heard about King Saul chasing down David in order to kill him and keep him from the throne, I continued, feverish, yearning, hoping with all my might that this leader would somehow have the humility to listen to the little wife of Nabal.

“Even though someone is pursuing you to take your life,” I went on, “the life of my lord will be bound securely in the bundle of the living by the Lord your God, but the lives of your enemies he will hurl away as from the pocket of a sling.” I was confident of this, for wherever David went he was known to defeat his enemies, and he did so in the name of the Lord.

I continued, growing earnest and hopeful, “When the Lord has fulfilled for my lord every good thing he promised concerning him and has appointed him ruler over Israel, my lord will not have on his conscience the staggering burden of needless bloodshed or of having avenged himself. And when the Lord your God has brought my lord success, remember your servant.”

Finally, I looked up at David, who was smiling triumphantly at me from his donkey. “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you today to meet me. May you be blessed for your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with my own hands. Otherwise, as surely as the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, who has kept me from harming you, if you had not come quickly to meet me, not one male belonging to Nabal would have been left alive by daybreak.”

I shivered at the thought, but when I met his kind, dark eyes, I was filled with awe.

David stepped down from his donkey and accept the gifts my servants had brought to him. “Go home in peace,” he said. “I have heard your words and have granted your request.”

Relieved, I returned home, only to find Nabal enjoying a fine feast and laughing hysterically. He was obviously drunk. One way, I supposed, to clear his mind of the callousness he had shown toward David and his men.

“You served him the Passover lamb?” I asked Shira, eyeing the half-eaten lamb at the center of the table.

Shira shrugged innocently. “You told me to do whatever he told me to, mistress.”

I would have to wait to deliver my husband the news of the Lord’s mercy till the morning.

***

Nabal awoke still at the table where he had gorged himself with food and drank too much wine.

“My lord,” I said to him, “David son of Jesse has decided not to destroy you and your male servants. He has shown mercy on you. And also, my lord, I delivered him many good gifts so that I might save your life.”

Instead of being thankful for the Lord’s goodness, Nabal looked at me until his eyes seemed to be staring into nothing, and his whole body froze.

Ten days later, I bent to listen to my husband’s heart. There was an unfathomable silence.

My heart pounded. “Nabal,” I whispered, but I knew it was the Lord’s doing. In part, I was saddened to see what the Lord saw: he would never repent. And yet I knew, too, that such a stubborn heart was no use to the Lord and had no point to continue living a life pleasing oneself instead of the Lord, who was the only One worthy of praise.

But what do I do now? I wept with Shira, for we had little means of living anymore. Woman weren’t allowed to work in the fields. Though I had servants who continue the sheep shearing, I felt a sense of directionless without a husband to care for. And now, I saw with despair, I had no hope of ever having children to raise. “Oh, Lord,” I prayed, “what is there for me now?”

Hours later, servants of David arrived at my house. One said to me, “David has sent us to you to take you to become his wife.”

I was astonished at this statement. Would David show further mercy on me? His kindness, his godliness, his manliness—he was exactly who I needed after suffering with Nabal for so many years.

Overwhelmed with joy, I bowed before the messenger. “I am your servant and am ready to serve you and wash the feet of my lord’s servants.”

And with that, I, Shira, and four other female servants of mine went with the messengers to David.

When he saw me, his eyes lit up with an unspeakable joy, and I looked at him closely for the first time. A man of God. I had never dreamed the Lord would grant me so much favor. David threw his arms around me, and Shira laughed sweetly. This time her laughter resonated inside of me; it did not go away.

(Based on 1 Samuel 25. Much of the dialogue taken directly from 1 Samuel 25.)