Monday, March 20, 2017

The Making of Shadowed Eden - Guest Post by Katie Clark



I have something fun for you guys today! Remember that book I reviewed a couple of weeks ago, Shadowed Eden? Well, today I have the author, Katie Clark, herself sharing with us her inspiration for the story! I, for one, absolutely love getting an inside peek at how each novel is made. It’s fascinating how one spark of an idea turns into a whole world, characters, an entire story we love. And how we all get ideas differently!


So, without further ado, I shall hand the reins over to Katie herself!


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The Making of Shadowed Eden


Have you ever been lost in a story? So lost that you can’t think of anything else? Ever loved the characters so much that you started imagining new twists and turns for them to live through?


Okay, confession time. This is how the seeds of Shadowed Eden, my YA supernatural novel, began. While doing my daily walk on the treadmill I began watching the TV show Lost on Netflix. I fell in love, but not with the characters many people loved.


A couple seasons into the show we were introduced to a teen girl named Alex. Her dad wasn’t really her dad, but she didn’t know that yet. And her dad was definitely wrong in his views and beliefs. This went beyond the normal “teens hate their parents” stuff. Alex’s dad really was wrong, and she had to do something about it.


Alex stuck in my head. I began imagining scenarios for her, just to see how she would resolve them. I wanted to know more, more, more about her! It wasn’t long before I had created an entire character profile for this girl who wasn’t even that important to the TV show.


Shadowed Eden grew out of that character profile (as well as some awesome brainstorming sessions with my brother, who is a fellow Lost enthusiast). I wrote the book quickly, and my love for the show morphed into a love for this new story. This different story.


Now it’s your turn! Ever loved a show so much you truly found yourself “Lost” in it?


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I can definitely relate to this! Actually, most of my stories ideas come from watching TV. *cough, cough, cough* But hey, as writers, when we’re spending hours on Netflix we can call it “working”. #TheWritersLife


Thanks so  much for agreeing to visit Musings of an Elf, Katie! I loved seeing how Shadowed Eden came to be!


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Want to know more about Shadowed Eden?


High school senior, Avery Miles, is attending one last mission trip with the church youth before she moves across country to attend college in the fall. The trip through Iraq takes a wrong turn when the sandstorm of the century hits the area and blows the group’s entourage off course. After the dust settles, they find themselves in an unimaginable and inexplicable garden oasis. Along with an abundant supply of luscious fruit and crystal clear springs, the mysterious garden is home to poisonous snakes, hidden sink holes, and a lingering confusion that no one can shake—not to mention the natives, who are almost unearthly.

As the days progress, the group begins to realize they have a very real problem—no matter which way they trek, they can’t seem to leave. Avery puts the clues together and begins to suspect their location is much more than a simple garden oasis, but just as a rescue plan forms, Avery discovers her father is working with a more sinister presence, one that wants to keep them trapped permanently.


*Watch the book trailer for Shadowed Eden on YouTube here!*
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGl3i7ZhJLs

 

What others have said about Shadowed Eden!


"A truly original premise, Shadowed Eden, is an exciting supernatural adventure filled with danger, redemption, and a cast of teenaged characters that I grew to love. I enjoyed Clark's story and look forward to seeing what she comes up with next." ~Jill Williamson, Christy Award-winning author of By Darkness Hid and To Darkness Fled


"Shadowed Eden is a unique and intriguing tale that will keep the reader turning pages, and the suspense doesn't stop until its surprising end! I highly recommend it." ~Melanie Dickerson, Carol Award-winning author of The Merchant's Daughter

 


KATIE CLARK started reading fantastical stories in grade school and her love for books never died.

Today she reads in all genres; her only requirement is an awesome story! She writes young adult speculative fiction, including her YA supernatural, Shadowed Eden. You can connect with her at her website, on Facebook, or on Twitter.


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Now let’s hear your thoughts, O Readers! Who else has written entire books off of inspiration from TV shows? (I know we’re not alone here.) Do you ever get these ideas that just eat away and eat away at your until you put them to paper? And have you read Shadowed Eden?

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Musings of an Elf’s 6th Birthday!



Why yes, my Monday post is a day late. But that was on purpose becaaause…


TODAY IS MY 6 YEAR BLOGOVERSARY!!!


Yep! On March 14th, 2011, I published the first post here on Musings of an Elf, and thus my blogging obsession began.


It’s a bit surreal to realize I’ve been blogging for 6 full years. THAT’S A LONG TIME. But it doesn’t feel like it’s been that long. Honestly, in my head, this blog is still a little baby blog and I’m an amateur blogger. And yet, on the other hand, I can’t imagine a time I wasn’t blogging. Blogging is such an integral part of my life now, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.


This year I had hoped to actually do something special for my blogoversary since I never have before. Which is shameful! Buuuut I didn’t even remember my anniversary was coming up until the beginning of March, and my brain has been so scattered, I didn’t feel equipped, or in the right mentality, to come up with something fun. ONE OF THESE DAYS, GUYS. I’ve been meaning to do a giveaway or party or something on my blogging anniversary since my first one AND I STILL HAVEN’T. I’ve just got a lot going on in life right now occupying my mind (all good things, do not fear) and was scared to commit to a giveaway or something. So, as I tell myself every year, maybe next year… This year you’ll just have to put up with some reminiscing. *cackles*



I first decided to start a blog when I was getting very serious about writing. I’ve been writing since I was 9, but I didn’t really get serious about it until my first NaNoWriMo in 2010. After that amazing experience, I knew for a fact writing was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. And thus I jumped into actually learning the craft (which is something I had failed to do before…let’s not talk about my early novels), poking around writing blogs, and actually, *gasp* WRITING. As I saw other writers blogging and talking about the importance of having a platform if one wants to be published, it occurred to me: Hey, I should make a blog!


And thus Musings of an Elf was born.


This blog has come a long, long way since that March day I finally took the plunge and created it. I’ve grown a lot in the past 6 years—in life, in writing, in blogging (thank goodness). In those first couple of years, there was a whole lotta random nonsense posted on this here blog. (Okay, I still totally post random nonsense, but at least it’s a biiit higher quality random nonsense…? Maybe? Perhaps? Anybody?? Ahem.) I also posted extremely irregularly, with loooong amounts of time between posts. It wasn’t until 2013 was about to roll around that I up and made a New Year’s resolution to post every single week, and I’ve stuck to that schedule since. I think a blogging schedule is very important, annnd it’s the only way I’ll ever get around to posting. I gotta have that accountability. *grins*


Once I started posting weekly, I think my content grew in quality as I got the hang of things. I also became way more open about my writing, something I normally hid in the deep recesses of my laptop from all eyes but my own. I mean, if I was building a platform of readers I prooobably needed to actually, ya know, talk about my writing. Originally, this blog was kinda meant to be an ALL THE THINGS blog. Just about life and randomness and anything on my mind. But, slowly but surely, it became a full on writing blog. And that’s when I found my niche. I don’t know why I didn’t see it before. This blog was meant to gain readership, so of course its main focus should be on my writing! Duh, Christine. #Blonde


I think by 2014 I was really finding the type of things I liked to blog about, and the blog grew a lot as well. I had developed the habit of writing a post for every Monday, and settling into the types of posts that suited me and the blog.


Though, I don’t think I really found my niche until just a couple of years ago. And I’m still learning. I don’t think I’ll ever stop. But that’s the thing about writing, you never “make it”. It’s a continuous quest for improvement. But I think that’s a pretty exciting realization. The journey is the fun part, and writing is forever an adventurous journey.



My favorite part about the writing/blogging journey is the community. YOU GUYS. I would have probably given up on this blogging endeavor a long time ago if not for the continuous support and encouragement of all my dear blogging buddies. This circle of bloggers I’ve joined is full of the nicest, most fun, creative, encouraging people I’ve ever known.


I would not be nearly as far along with my writing if not for all of you. I’m blown away every. single. time. when one of you shows enthusiasm and interest in one of my stories. Each and every comment I receive gives me a thrill. I adore reading your brilliant posts and getting to interact with each of you. You all push me to keep going. Sometimes (most of the time…) this writing journey is uphill and tiring and just downright discouraging. But you guys are like a fresh spring of water on that uphill hike, refreshing and refueling me to keep moving forward. Before I started blogging and befriended all my amazing writing/blogging friends, writing was just a hobby. Now it’s my life, and I have all of you to thank for that.


THANK YOU for reading Musings of an Elf.


THANK YOU for putting up with my rambles and nonsense.


THANK YOU for showing interest in my novels and supporting me through this hard journey.


THANK YOU for being YOU. You’re all amazing, talented, beautiful people, and I wish I could give each and every one of you a ginormous hug.


~ ~ ~


I love you guys! *passes around cake* Here’s to many more years of blogging to come!

Monday, March 6, 2017

{Book Review} Shadowed Eden (Beguiled #1) by Katie Clark


Avery Miles is ready to spread her wings and prove her worth on a church mission trip to Iraq, but when their entourage gets blown off course in a desert dust storm, the group is lost in an inexplicable garden oasis. Along with the luscious fruits and crystal springs, Avery and her friends find poisonous snakes, deadly sink holes, and a group of natives that are almost unearthly—but that's not their biggest problem. No matter which way they trek, they can't seem to leave.

To keep the group safe, Avery steps up and takes charge, but it isn't long before she realizes things aren't as they seem. She isn't the only one seeing the mysterious boy named Rae, and she's pretty sure her father is sabotaging her rescue efforts. Gathering her courage, Avery must decide what's most important to her—finally winning her father's approval, or getting out of the jungle for good.


Amazon | GoodReads | Author's Website


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I’ve honestly never read a book like this before. I’m usually more a speculative person myself, but I do love survival stories. So when I saw this was a survival story with a touch of the supernatural, well, call me intrigued!

 

THE RUNDOWN


Avery has just arrived in Iraq on a mission trip with a group of other teens. She’s hoping to use this trip as a way to prove to her father that she can handle herself in the real world. Well, she gets a bit more than she bargained for. A sandstorm throws the group’s bus off into a desert just outside a mysterious jungle. On the one hand, this jungle provides food and water, which is good since the group is left stranded with a broken bus. On the other hand, the jungle doesn’t seem to play by the rules of the universe. People who enter it lose entire days of their lives, unearthly people roam within, and no matter how far away you walk from it, you always appear back.


Avery and her group do their best to survive the hot desert and peculiar jungle, all the while trying to find a way to get back to civilization. But as more and more dangers cross their path, and Avery’s father shows keen interest of the jungle, Avery can’t help but solve the mysteries within.



At first I was a little bored, but I think that was my own fault. I expected a more action-y book for some reason. But this story really isn’t about the action, it’s about the mystery. Once I got that in my brain, I started enjoying it much more. It pulls you along with one strange occurrence after the next. I couldn’t help but turn the pages, desperately wanting to see what happens at the end. The pace is pretty fast. It doesn’t take long at all to get through. Small and quick chapters, which I like.


My favorite bit of it was the survival. I don’t know why I’m so fascinated by stories about a small group being stranded somewhere and having to learn to survive, but I just love it! And that’s exactly what this book was. You could feel the misery of the desert sun and the chill of the night. The characters did their best to ration the food they had on the bus and instead eat the fruit of the jungle, but, after a while, their appetites longed for something other than fruit. They had to trek back and forth for water, and make shelters, all while in danger of the mysterious jungle. All fun things! (Because, ya know, watching people suffer in fiction is fun…? #BookWormProbs)


To add to the hardships of survival and the mystery of the jungle, Avery struggles with her own inner problems—like having to learn to work with her ex-boyfriend.

 

CHARACTERS


Each character has a good backstory that slowly becomes unveiled over the course of the story. We have four characters who are the main focus—Avery, Luca, June, and Benny. The story itself goes back and forth between the point of view of Avery and her ex-boyfriend Luca, giving a deep understanding of each of them and their rocky past.


Avery: She is our main main character, as the story mostly revolves around her. At first, I wasn’t super wild about Avery. She was a little bit too stubborn and never opened up to people. But as her backstory came to light, all her actions began to make sense. I became sympathetic and understanding of why she was who she was. I appreciated the realism of her character, as well as her growth through the story.


Luca: Luca was one of my favorites! Where Avery took on a take-charge attitude to prove herself, I believe Luca took charge just because he genuinely wanted to help everyone, and no one else was stepping up. Not only was he keeping the group together and making sure they always had enough food and water, he never hesitated to help Avery when she was desperate to solve the mystery of the jungle. He was strong and brave and a total sweetie. I love ‘im!


June: She was my other favorite. Her calm, sweet demeanor was a breath of fresh air amidst the group of stubborn teenagers. She had a rather surprising character arc, some things I didn’t expect of her, but it just made her all the more human. I loved how she was so nice but not utterly perfect. A very well rounded character!


Benny: At first Benny really, really got on my nerves, and I feared was just there to serve as the comic relief. But he surprised me at how deep his character turned out to be. Honestly, he was probably the most realistic of all of them. I feel like we all know a “Benny”. He’s kind of that annoying pest of the group, but once you realize what their home life is like, you understand why they’re so needy. I actually ended up totally loving Benny.


There was a gaggle of other characters, but these four are the main ones the story revolves around.


The author did a good job of making realistic characters, though I didn’t connect with them quite as deeply as I would have liked. I don’t think it was that they weren’t deep though, I think I just didn’t get enough of their backstories or dug deep into their emotions. We do get the gist of their lives back home and why there’s tension between Avery and Luca, etc., etc. but it was always quick mentions here and there, never dwelled on. The emotions, as well, were there but brushed over a little too quickly a lot of the time. Sometimes I felt as if the story went a little too fast, more focusing on the actions of the characters than their inner feelings. Every scene just seemed a smidge rushed to me. Buuut I’m pretty picky with pacing, so this could very well be a me thing. XD



One thing that surprised me was the lack of God. This is a Christian book, and revolves around a mission trip and spiritual warfare, and yet…God wasn’t there much at all. Sometimes it would mention a character praying or something, but we never really just see the characters leaning on God. A character even got saved near the end, and all we’re given is a couple of quick sentences saying they prayed. No real deep talks or much emotion or anything like that. It just kinda surprised me. It definitely had some good messages and characters arcs, but I would have liked to see God way more present. Especially in the climax. Some of the events didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, because the characters hadn’t shown any deep interest in God before then. But now I’m getting into spoiler territory so I shall hush.

 

CONTENT CAUTIONS


Really…hardly anything! There was definitely some dangerous happenings and injuries, but nothing was ever described in deep detail.


As I said though, this was a spiritual warfare book, with mentions of angels and demons. It gets a little deep, especially with the demon thing, so I’d keep that in mind for younger readers.


No language or inappropriate content at all. There was some romance, but very, very lowkey.

 

CONCLUSION


Overall, I enjoyed reading this, but wasn’t utterly wowed. The characters were realistic, but I would have liked to see more of their backstory and emotions. The plot could have maybe been a bit more action-packed. BUT it did keep me utterly intrigued. Every time I picked it up to read, I didn’t want to have to stop. And I definitely loved the survival aspect of it!


As I said at the beginning, it was nothing like anything I’ve ever read. I quite enjoyed stepping out of my usual genres and giving something fresh and new a try. The premise of a youth group being stranded in a supernatural jungle was spectacular, and I may just have to try more books like this sometime!


If you enjoy survival stories full of mystery and/or spiritual warfare tales, I’d definitely recommend this one!



Have you read Shadowed Eden? Am I the only one utterly enthralled by survival stories? What do you think about spiritual warfare books? I personally find them fascinating! Tell me your thoughts!


And stayed tuned, because in a couple of weeks Katie Clark herself will be here at Musings of an Elf sharing how this story came about. It’s gonna be fun!


NOTE: I received a free ebook copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Life Lessons Learned from Fantasy Tag



I have been tagged! And tagged with the best kind of tag, one that involves STORIES AND FANTASY. Only my favorite things of ever!


As I mentioned last week, February is Fantasy Month thanks to our brilliant Jenelle Schmidt. To celebrate this fun month, she created the Life Lessons Learned from Fantasy Tag. And my dearest Deborah O'Carroll has tagged me for this awesome thing! Obviously I couldn’t pass that up. Fantasy is only my breath and blood!


 

Rules

1.) Link back to Jenelle's Blog

2.) Use the “February is Fantasy Month” image above

3.) Tell us 5-10 lessons you’ve learned from reading a fantasy book (or watching a fantasy movie) – lessons can come from multiple sources, as well, of course

4.) Tag 2-4 other bloggers to keep the game going

 

What Fantasy Has Taught Me


Lord of the Rings
by J.R.R Tolkien


Oh, the lessons I’ve learned from this powerful story! Really, the lessons are endless, because every single time I reread the books or watch the movies for the 299384 time and counting or just immerse myself in anything Tolkien related, I glean yet more wisdom from his extraordinary works. I could make a list as long as Frodo and Sam’s journey to Mordor about what this story has taught me. But there’s one particular thing that always stands out.


No matter who you are, how small and unimportant you may feel, you can still do big and powerful and hard and amazing things. Frodo was just a little hobbit. He had never gone out in the world, had never had any adventures or experienced great evils. He was just Frodo Baggins of the Shire—a small, kind, and seemingly simple soul. But when the need to destroy the Ring came, this small hobbit, who hardly even knew about the world, volunteered. He did what had to be done, when no one else would. He stepped outside his little life in the Shire and faced evil and pushed on and on and on. Not because he was some great warrior looking for glory, but because, as our dear Sam reminded us, “There is good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for.” Frodo and Sam and all the Fellowship fought just for the sake of good. Not because of who they were, but because it was the right thing to do.


I often feel so unimportant and inadequate. But when I think of this story, it reminds me: We are all called to do hard things and fight for the good. We just have to take the initiative and do it.


(Like I said, I’ve learned a lot from this story. Ahem. Moving on!)

 

The Chronicles of Narnia
by C.S. Lewis


More stories that have such an endless source of wisdom. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe’s allegory of Jesus’s sacrifice for us, even the most treacherous of us, resonates so deep and far. Aslan’s death brought an even deeper understanding of the Cross for me, gave me an illustration of what Jesus went through, helped me understand the power of His death. And it made it personal. Aslan sacrificed himself for Edmund, just as Jesus gave Himself for me. It takes my breath away every single time.


The Last Battle provided a clearer and more real picture of what Heaven may be like. It made Heaven feel real, feel close. Sometimes my little mind can’t imagine such a place, or wrap around the idea that one day I’ll actually be there, for eternity. But this story brought it to life and causes me to look forward to it and yearn for it every single day.

 

Dragons in Our Midst/Oracles of Fire series
by Bryan Davis


Yet another that is just packed full of beautiful allegories and immeasurable wisdom. For this series, it’s really the characters that have taught me so, so much.


Sapphira taught me that no matter how lonely and long hard times can be, that God is always, always right there with us, and we can endure because of Him.
Billy taught me that disobeying God does…not go well. God has set His commandments for a reason, and they’re there with our best interest in mind, whether we think so or not.
Walter taught me to keep a light spirit, no matter how difficult things get.
Bonnie, sweet Bonnie, is a constant reminder of what I want to strive to be. For years, I often ask myself the question, “How would Bonnie act or respond in this situation?” Her sweet, humble, and selfless spirit is something we should all strive to be.


I know there are 239984 other lessons this series has taught me that I’m not thinking of right now. But basically, READ THESE BOOKS. It’s my favorite series of all time. Yes, FAVORITE.


Peter Pan
by J.M. Barrie


Honestly, I think Peter Pan has shaped my personality. It has been such an integral part of my life from childhood to now. There are probably things I’ve gleaned from it that I haven't even realized. But one I’m largely aware of.


Peter Pan taught me that, yes, we do need to grow up. We can’t live in our childhoods forever, and ignore the big, wide world that’s out there. BUT. But but but! That DOES NOT MEAN we shouldn’t have child-like wonder. Do you think for one minute Wendy lost her wonder of the world? She forever remembered her time in Neverland. She was a storyteller, a dreamer. Yes, she chose to grow up because she knew she had to, but, I firmly believe, she kept remnants of Neverland within her to her last days. And that’s why Wendy is one of my top favorite heroines. She made a responsible decision, one many of us (a.k.a ME) might not have made, but she also knew this world is not about school and work and the daily grind. It’s so, so much more than that. It’s about dreaming and wishing and smiling and finding the beauty. Just like a child.


Peter Pan taught me that I do need to grow up, but I never have to, nor should I, lose my child-like wonder.

 

Heartless (Tales of Goldstone Wood #1)
by Anne Elisabeth Stengl


This story is an absolutely gorgeous allegory about how Jesus still loves us even though we’re such ugly, selfish beings. About how we push Him away and push Him away, when all He wants is the best for us, to love us. About how His love transform us, if only we’d stop resisting, stop feeding our selfishness and satisfying our worldly wants, and just accept Him.


I read this for the first time many, many years ago, and the story resonated with me, and continues to each time I reread it. It encompasses the beauty of our relationship with Jesus into words.


This whole series is filled to the brim with beautiful messages, so perfectly woven into the stories you don’t even realize it until you close the book, breathless from the powerful story you were just given. One of my favorite series of all time.

 

The Ilyon Chronicles
by Jaye L. Knight


This is a spectacular fantasy series about living in a world where worshipping God is forbidden. It really highlights the trials Christians face, but how it’s always, always worth following Christ, no matter how difficult the road is. This powerful message ran so deep within me. Yes, as Christians we will be persecuted. It is not an easy walk. But no matter how hard the trials are, how long and tiring the road is, we have endless HOPE. We have a God so, so much bigger than the naysayers on this little earth.


This series has shown me how important it is to stand up for God and stay strong in faith. It’s not easy, but it’s always worth it.

 

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
& Through the Looking Glass
by Lewis Carroll


Alice in Wonderland is like Peter Pan in that it basically raised me. To the point that Wonderland’s nonsense tends to make way more sense to me than the real world. NOT EVEN KIDDING. I often feel like the world and people in Wonderland often think the way I do. As my mom has said, she imagines my brain looks a lot like Wonderland. 100% accurate. Hey, I never, ever claimed to be normal.


Ahem, ANYWAYS. I’m sure you’re asking, “What life lesson could she have possibly learned from this nonsensical story?” Well, here it is: It’s okay to be a little mad. In fact, I highly recommend it. Because the world is mad. (Mad as in “full of nonsense”, not “angry”, just to clarify.) We don’t live in a normal world. Life is crazy and spontaneous and odd and sometimes (oftentimes) doesn’t make sense. We can’t always have perfect routines and live utterly ordinary lives. Life doesn’t allow that. And why would we want it to?


To quote the White Queen, “…sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” (Indeed it was the White Queen and not Alice who said that. #Trivia) I think that’s a very good practice. We shouldn’t live in boxes. Life is so larger and more wondrous when we allow ourselves to think the impossible, to have a little nonsense now and again. There is a time and place for being serious, but I enjoy life much, much more just making light of things and laughing and being a little mad. Life’s too short to take everything seriously.


~ ~ ~


I am sure there are dozens upon dozens of other life lessons I’ve learned from countless books. These are just a few prominent to me. Fantasy has never been just an interest, it’s who I am, it’s what has shaped me and raised me as a person. I firmly believe I’d be entirely different if not for the countless stories—books, movies, and TV shows alike—I’ve grown up on, immersed myself in for all my life.


Because fantasy isn’t just “made up entertainment”. It mirrors the truths of this world to help us better understand them. It portrays our trials as dragons and helps us learn how to face them with as much bravery as our beloved heroes. Real, good, whole fantasy teaches us to endure and be strong and love deeply and have faith and courage.


It’s so, so, so much more than “made up entertainment”.


Tagging


Katie Grace @ A Writer's Faith | Skye @ Ink Castles | Jameson @ Lovely Whatsoevers | Savannah @ Scattered Scribblings | and ALL who love fantasy and want to partake!

 

Tell me, O adventurer, do you read fantasy? What is one of the biggest life lessons from a fantasy story you’ve learned? Have you read any of these books? Let us flail over all the fantasy things! And don’t forget to check out Jenelle's post to see all the fantasy fun!

Monday, February 20, 2017

When Springs Blooms (Short Story)



So I did a thing. I sort of accidentally wrote a short story when I supposed to be editing Burning Thorns. *cough, cough*


The fantastic Jenelle Schmidt has proclaimed February as Fantasy Month, which is obviously the best idea ever. There’s all sorts of fun fantasy things going on at her blog. Do go check it out!



One of the fun things is a short story challenge. Her challenge was to write a story using the word SNOW somewhere. When I saw that, my brain got an image of a girl standing in a snowstorm, and things exploded from there. Except…the story is supposed to be 3k words or less, and mine ended at 4.6k words. Ooooops. I CAN’T WRITE SHORT THINGS, GUYS. But I thought I'd post it anyway.


This story may or may not have changed plots about 6 and a half times while I was writing it. I literally had no plot when I started it, but that was the fun part. It’s been a loooong time since I’ve just purely pants something and let my imagination run wild. It’s anything but perfect, and kinda odd. I think there’s still some plot holes and may not even make sense, but this was more just to loosen my creative muscles and let my imagination run free (which is often scary, buuut…) before burying myself under endless editing.


But plot holes and oddness and length (sowwy) aside, I hope you guys enjoy it!


~ ~ ~

WHEN SPRING BLOOMS
By Christine Smith



She clutched the frozen rose in both hands—its petals the same faded pink as her gown. The falling snow gathered silently around her boots. Her fingers, her nose, every inch of her had numbed so, so long ago. But they were only a dull ache compared to the constraining, endless numbing of her heart.

Once, numb fingers, frostbitten skin, was her only world. Once, she had not known there was anything but the bitter, cutting cold.

Not until he had entered her frozen kingdom, did she know the soothing comfort of warmth. And how she longed for it now.

The way his sun-filled smile cracked the ice binding her heart. The way his golden eyes sent waves of joy within her very core.

But oh, if only she had known then. If only she had realized.

Winter and Summer could never be together.

One would always destroy the other.

The snowflakes twirled and danced like the fairies once did in his sunlit kingdom. The wind picked up, howled around her like the roar of a dragon.

She tightened her stiff fingers around the rose—the last remnant of him. “I'm so sorry,” she whispered. But the harsh wind swept her apology away into the white wasteland of snow and ice and broken promises.

* * *

“I am cursed.”

He rested his ever-warm fingers atop her pale arm. Her skin tingled, turned rosy as the frostbites faded. “Winter is not a curse.” Those golden eyes sparked as they met hers, and she couldn't constrain the upward tug of her lips. “Winter is beautiful.” He stood and swept an arm out—at the icicles glimmering down from the frosty trees, at the white ground glittering like diamonds, at the snowflakes swirling around them and melting into his fair hair, his eyelashes.

“It is only beautiful when you are here,” she said. “It is so dark and cold without you. Won't you stay forever?”

He turned back to her, and the spark in his eyes had faded. “I cannot.”

She jumped to her feet and grabbed his hand in both of hers. Steam hissed between their palms as cold met hot. “But why?”

He dropped his gaze down to their joint hands, his eyebrows drawn. And that's when she saw it, when she knew.

She jerked her hands away and took a step back. Her heart twisted, tightened, leaving her breaths shallow. “I hurt you. You...you can't stay because of the cold. Because of me. You're...” The word would not come, was unthinkable.

“I'm dying.”

Hearing it out loud was like a knife to the chest. She shook her head, tried to deny it, to find some way out. “No,” she murmured. “But it can't... You can't be! You do not hurt me.”

His smile was so soft, so kind. He reached for her, but she pulled away, didn't want to hurt him anymore, however much she longed for his warm touch. Sighing, he dropped his hand. “This is your kingdom. You are so much stronger here than I.”

“Then...” She darted her eyes across the ground, searching, searching, searching. There had to be an answer. “Then I shall go to your kingdom!”

“No!”

She sucked in a breath at the sudden harsh reply, so unlike the gentle aura always surrounding him.

He blew out a long breath and then swallowed, his next words quiet, calm. “No, please.” He stepped up to her and grabbed her hand before she could pull away. His jaw clenched, but he did not release his hold. “The warmth will be too much for you in my kingdom. You will die instead, and I can't...” His voice hitched. “You must stay here.”

“But—”

“Please.”

She blinked at the sting of tears forming behind her eyes. “This kingdom is so dark without you. Your light makes me forget about Mother's shadow always looming over us.”

“Oh, Princess.” He tightened his grip around her fingers. “I can see a light within you. You must hold onto it. I believe this kingdom will be filled with light when you ascend the throne.”

One of the tears slipped out, but it only reached her cheek before freezing over. “But I will always be Winter, and you Summer.”

With another sigh, he reached up and brushed at her frozen tear. It thawed as it trickled down his finger. “I had so hoped to conjoin our kingdoms. To bring us snow and cool breezes. To give you sunlight, flowers.”

A lump formed in her throat, strangling her words. “I'd like to see a flower one day.”

He smiled, even as tears filled his own eyes. “I originally opened the door between our kingdoms because I wanted to see the snow. But instead I found such a greater treasure.” He lowered his head toward hers, so close the warmth from his body thawed every inch of her. “Promise me you'll never enter my kingdom.”

The lump in her throat grew, constricting. Unbearable. How could she promise that? Because with that promise came the one thing she could never endure.

She endured the cold. She endured Mother's tyranny. She endured the dreary world she lived in.

But how could she bear never seeing him again?

His hand trembled against hers. She looked down to find frost crawling along his fingers. His face had gone pale. White streaks appeared in his fair hair. And his eyes—his luminescent eyes that held the sunlight themselves—were beginning to fade.

She was killing him.

She threw her arms around him. Just for one second, just to feel his warmth one last time. Then she jerked away and, with a shuddering breath, she spoke the impossible words. “I promise.”

* * *

Ice grew thicker upon the rose's beautiful pink petals. She pressed it closer against her chest, but that only froze it more.

Because she was Winter. She froze everything.

Why had she believed Mother? Why had she broken her promise?

She should never have opened the doorway.

* * *

“You love him, don't you?”

Mother's silky voice sent goosebumps down her already chilled skin. She kept her eyes on the great silver door, sitting lone and precarious at the edge of the snowy cliff—the door between kingdoms.

The gateway separating her and the Prince of Summer.

She could open it, whenever she wished. Only her Mother could not pass to the Summer Kingdom, and the Summer King could not enter the Winter Kingdom. Their elements were too strong, too opposing. They could never touch. But she was only a Princess, did not hold her Mother's full power. The door would allow her entrance.

But she had promised him.

She stroked its intricate carvings, willing the stinging frozen tears to not come. “Yes. But I can never see him again.”

“Who's to say?”

This brought her around to face Mother, who stood with her delicate eyebrows raised and the faintest upward turn of her white lips.

“Because I...I can't,” said the Princess, now unsure of herself. Mother always had that effect. “Our kingdom will kill him, and his me.”

Mother sashayed toward her, and the Princess swallowed, taking a step back. “Not if you were stronger,” Mother said.

Her thrumming heartbeat took a momentary lapse. “St—stronger?”

“Princess.” Mother reached out a hand and slid her slender fingers across the Princess's cheek.

The Princess had to hold in the shudder the frozen touch sent down her body. Mother was always so cold, and yet she never seemed to mind. In fact, she relished it.

“My sweet girl.” The cool words sent chills deeper than the touch. “You will never hold the entire power of Winter until you are queen. But, I can grant you some of my power now. Enough for you to endure the Summer Kingdom.”

The Princess's breath caught in her throat. For a moment, she couldn't move, couldn't speak. Could hardly think. Mother's words repeated in her mind over and over again. Enough to endure the Summer Kingdom. The Summer Kingdom... Where he lived.

She blinked away the haze in her mind, tried to focus back on Mother. On the woman who held the kingdom with such a tight fist. Whose presence sent waves of dread through her subjects, her daughter most of all.

The Princess swallowed, fearing to even speak the words lest her ears had played tricks on her. “You'd help me?”

Mother's solid blue eyes flicked to the left, and for one fragment of a second, the Princess saw something in them she had never seen before. The icy exterior cracked, and for that tiny, sliver of a moment, Mother looked almost...sad. “You forget, dear, I was in love once as well.”

The Princess followed Mother's line of sight. Only snow lay across the empty field, but she had heard the stories of a third kingdom. Autumn, Mother once called it, but any questions about it sent her into one of her tantrums. The Princess had learned long ago to keep all inquiries to herself.

“I do not wish for you to hold the pain I do.”

She turned her gaze back to Mother, and a flicker of warmth stirred inside her, like when the Prince was nearby. Her Mother actually wanted to help her. Maybe she did care. “I do love him, Mother. I want to see him again.”

A hint of a smile touched Mother's lips. “Then you shall.” She brought her other hand up and pressed both palms against the Princess's temple. Then, with a deep breath, she closed her eyes.

The cold, sharp pain came instantly, like the winter storms that rushed across the kingdom during one of Mother's tantrums. The Princess sucked in a sharp breath. Mother's hands were like two icicles digging into her temples. Her entire body jolted, but Mother held fast, pressing harder, harder.

The Princess only thought she had experienced cold before.

This penetrated down to her bones, froze each muscle. Every inch of her skin burned underneath the frostbites. She couldn't move, couldn't breathe. White spots danced in her vision. Her thoughts fogged.

Then Mother removed her hands.

The Princess gasped in a biting breath. Her muscles still clenched together as stiff as frozen branches, and she couldn't stop shivering, but the unbearable pain ebbed.

But oh, she was cold. Colder than she had ever known. Once she was queen, would she be even colder? How did Mother bear it?

This brought her eyes to Mother, who stepped back, that rare smile still at the edge of her lips. “How do you feel?”

“Cold.”

An odd sound bubbled up from Mother's throat, stiff but not unpleasant—a laugh. “You'll get used to it.”

She never had before, but had no intention of telling that to Mother. Besides, soon she would be wrapped in the Prince's warm arms. The thought sent a hint of warmth around her quickening heart. “I will be safe in the Summer Kingdom now?”

A spark of something flicked in Mother's blue, blue eyes. Surely it wasn't...joy? “Summer will be no match for you now.”

* * *

She should have known then, should have seen the signs. Her emotions had blinded her.

Thrill had tingled her spine as she opened the door, entered into his sun-painted domain. How quickly that ecstasy turned to despair.

Why had she ever listened to Mother?

Why had she broken her promise?

* * *

Sunlight filled her whole vision, blinding her. She squeezed her eyes shut, but kept moving toward the light, refusing to look back. Just as the door clicked shut behind her, she dared open her eyes.

Her breath was snatched from her.

The Prince had told her of his kingdom, but words were only shadows compared to witnessing the real thing.

Instead of a land of white, she stood within a world of vibrant color. Miles upon miles of rolling hills filled with grass greener than any evergreen tree in Winter's forests. Trees with leaves so wide and flourishing they sat like hats atop the solid, dark trunks. Fairies, birds, deer, rabbits, and countless other creatures she couldn't even name skittered across the hills and between the trees. And a dizzying array of colors dotted across the land.

“Flowers.”

With a laugh, the Princess raised her face to the sunlight. Ached for its warmth. But it never came.

Frowning, she touched her skin. Still frozen. Mother really had given her much power. It seemed Summer could not touch her. But that's what she wanted, wasn't it? Now she could be in the Summer Kingdom without dying.

Still, how she longed for just a little warmth.

The sun glinted off something to the distance. Squinting, she spotted silvery towers glowing in the sunlight. The castle.

Her heartbeat hiccuped. Her prince. Forget the cold. She could endure anything as long as she was with him. And perhaps he could warm her, as he had before.

She sprinted forward.

Her feet pounded so easy into the solid earth, so different from the thick, slippery ground of home. But an odd crackling sound halted her. She glanced behind her. A sliver of dread clawed down her stomach.

At each spot her foot had touched, a pile of frost grew across the green grass. The crackling grew louder. Looking down, she found more frost climbing up around the grass under her boots.

“Oh no...”

“Princess?”

She spun around, and her heart stuttered as he approached, but instead of the elation she had imagined would brighten his eyes at their reunion, she found fear.

A dark shadow passed over them. Above, an enormous gray cloud blocked the blazing sun. The Summer Kingdom creatures darted under the trees just as the snow began to fall.

As she looked back at her Prince, the dread in her stomach tightened. His face had gone pale, but from fear or cold, she did not know.

He swallowed, and the sadness that fell over his fair features knifed into her very core. Yet all he said was, “You came to me.”

“I...” She reached a hand out, but ice crackled across her fingertips. She dropped it, not daring to touch him, hurt him. “Mother gave me some of her power. She said Summer wouldn't hurt me. I just couldn't bear the thought of never seeing you again. But—” The snowfall heightened, heaving into a blizzard.

Heart pounding, the Princess stumbled backward. “She tricked me,” she breathed. Mother gave her too much power. Winter was taking over Summer. She was taking over Summer. How had she been so foolish to trust Mother? This was her fault for breaking her promise. “I have to go!”

She lurched around and shot back for the door to Winter. Wind picked up around her, biting and violent. The sting of frozen tears pricked her eyes.

No, no, no, no.

“Princess!”

Footsteps pounded behind her, but she didn't stop, not until she reached the door. She had to leave before Winter consumed Summer. She snagged the handle and lurched it open. A blast of ice shot from the other side. Then Mother appeared.

A gust of wind snatched up the Princess’s gasp. “Mother! You can't...you can't be here!”

Mother's laugh roiled her stomach. “Oh, my dear, but I can. Now that you've opened the door and brought winter. The Summer Kingdom is becoming our domain.”

“It can't!” She spun around. The ground that had been so green only moments ago, now lay under a solid layer of snow. Gray clouds swirled above as wind eddied across the land, tearing the large leaves off the trees and tossing the birds and fairies to and fro. Ground creatures scurried into holes and within tree trunks.

Only one kept his ground.

The Prince stood two feet away, his golden eyes large with the hurt of betrayal. Facing him was unbearable.

The Princess reeled back around to Mother. “Why are you doing this? I thought you wanted to help me.”

Mother tilted her head. “But I am.” Her eyebrows lowered, face hardened. “I will not have you suffer the same hurts I have.”

“I don't understand.”

Mother's eyes cut over to the Prince. “Love is a poison,” she hissed between her teeth. “You will only be betrayed. As I was.” Her gaze slid back over to the Princess, but the sharpness in her eyes only intensified. “Winter was once such a large kingdom, but your father took some of my power to create his own kingdom, cutting Winter in half. Before he could take all of my power, I locked his side of the kingdom away.”

“Autumn,” the Princess murmured.

“Yes. A place near to Winter but never strong enough to thrive like our kingdom.”

The Princess's mind swirled as violent and dizzying as the wind. She had never known her father, never understood why Mother did not speak of him or Autumn. But that didn't matter, not right now. She straightened, clasping both hands into fists at her side. “What does any of this have to do with the Summer Kingdom?”

Mother's eyes locked onto hers, and her voice lowered. “Because your father came from the Summer Kingdom.”

The Princess's stomach lurched. “What?”

Mother jerked a finger at the Prince. “Summer always seeks to destroy Winter! Is that not why he came?”

“No!” The Prince stepped forward, shaking his head violently. “I just wanted us to coincide! I had hoped there was a way.”

“Lies!” Mother raised her hands, and the wind picked up as more dark clouds formed.

“Winter!”

The voice thundered above the roaring wind.

The Princess squinted in the dark blur of the snowstorm at a glint of light. A man with hair even more golden than the Prince appeared amidst the sea of white. The snow around him melted in his luminescence, and his incandescent eyes locked straight on Mother.

“How dare you enter my kingdom!”

Mother merely laughed. “You are not strong enough to stop me now, Summer. Winter will reign.” She shot her hands out toward him. Ice and snow and wind blasted from her palms. The Summer King brought up his own hands and countered with a burst of light, but Mother was right. He was not strong enough. Her attack dispersed his light, and he collapsed. The glow of his body began to fade, his skin turning blue.

“Father!” The Prince darted for him and dropped to his knees. He cradled his father's head in his lap. Frost began crawling along his own skin.

Fear strangled the Princess's heart, but something else as well. As she stared at her Prince, a new warmth boiled within her.

She swerved to face Mother. “You must stop!”

“Oh, child. You will see. Soon our kingdom will be so large, so powerful, and you will never have to suffer any heartbreaks. I'm doing this for you.”

“No!” The warmth inside her intensified, tingled all the way down to her fingertips. “You are wrong about love! It is the very thing that keeps us warm and whole and good. It is your lack of love that has frozen your heart!” With the new sense of warmth stirring inside her, she raised her hands and let it loose. An explosion of solid ice and vehement wind erupted from her palms. It shot forward and blasted into Mother, shoving her back through the doorway. Before she could stand, the Princess let loose another eruption. Icicles burst from within her and crashed into the door. The impact sent an ear-thrumming crack through the air. The door trembled as webs of cracks scattered across its surface.

Mother lay on the other side. She looked at the shuddering doorway, and, for the first time the Princess had ever known, fear crossed her features.

The Princess's own heart jumped to her throat.

The doorway...

She darted forward. The door continued to shudder and split open. The Princess made it inches away, saw the wintry land of home and Mother's horror-filled eyes beyond it, and then everything vanished. The door collapsed, fell into a thousand pieces at her feet and dissolved into snowflakes.

The doorway between kingdoms was gone.

And yet the wind still howled around them, the snow still fell.

She swerved around. Her legs nearly collapsed beneath her at the sight. The Prince still knelt on the ground, now holding the frozen body of his dead father.

Her hands flew to her mouth, and icy tears tried to squeeze past her eyes. “Oh, please no.”

Mother had killed the King of Summer, and had given her too much power. And now she couldn't leave. Which meant she couldn't stop Winter.

She was Winter.

Her gaze locked onto the Prince's. The light in his eyes had faded, and his own skin and hair had whitened.

His father was dead, and he was too weak.

She shook her head, trying to shove the words past the strangling lump in her throat. “I didn't mean for any of this to happen.”

The Prince just smiled sadly, nodding. “I know. I do not blame you.”

She pulled in a shuddering breath, longing to say so many apologies, but they all clogged in her throat. Why did he not blame her? It was her fault. She broke their promise. She destroyed everything. But he only held that smile.

He pressed a hand against the ground and closed his eyes. His brow scrunched, as if something pained him, then a flicker of light appeared under his palm. Beneath has hand, something rose up from the snow. He plucked it up, and slowly pushed himself to his feet. “For my Princess.”

With trembling fingers, she took the delicate flower from him, its petals the same blushing pink of her dress. “Wh—what's it called?”

His lips curled into a smile, and she knew she'd hold that image of him forever. “A rose.”

Frost crawled onto the delicate petals, reminding her of who she was, what she was doing. She gasped out a sob. “I can't lose you!”

Cracks of ice appeared across his cheeks, but he only stepped closer and pressed a kiss against her forehead. Then he looked down at her and smiled. “I love you.”

She opened her trembling lips, but the wind picked up, and behind him the Summer King's body turned white and began to disperse into thousands, millions of snowflakes. When she looked back to the Prince, his own body rapidly turned white.

“No! Please, no!” She backed away from him, hoping to stop herself from killing him, hoping to make Winter cease. But he closed the gap between them again and grabbed her hand in both of his—now frozen, all the warmth seeped out of him.

“I am glad I got to know you, Princess.”

She shook her head, her frozen tears forcing their way out. “Please don't go.”

He merely smiled, and then his hold on her loosened as his fingers dissolved into snow. It spread up his arms, all the way across his body, until his smile disappeared and the wind carried him away.

* * *

Now she stood within the winter wasteland alone, nothing left of him but a single pink rose. But it, too, began to die.

She took in a deep breath, the frozen air stinging her lungs.

Why did the cold hurt? She was Winter, like Mother. But she longed for warmth. For color and sunlight and flowers.

For new life.

She knelt and brushed a patch of snow away and then dug, not caring as the frozen ground sliced into her fingers. She continued to dig until she had made a small hole. Then, she brought the rose up to her lips and whispered the words she never got the chance to tell him.

“I love you, too.”

She placed the stem into the hole and pushed dirt back into it until it stood on its own.

The numbing cold around her heart tightened as she stood. She turned to leave, but a glimpse of light halted her steps.

The rose glowed.

She pulled in a breath and held it, not daring to hope.

Light emanated from the rose—brighter, brighter. Frost fell away from its petals, and it began to grow. The light only became brighter as the petals expanded, as the stem reached up. And she felt it. Warmth.

Heat flooded from the flower that now stood as tall as her, and only grew higher. The petals reached, reached, reached. Then they burst.

She gasped, releasing her held breath.

Before her, in place of the rose, stood a solid silver door. It swung open as if on its own, and light poured out, encompassing her in its warmth. She blinked in the sudden brightness. When her eyes adjusted, she saw him.

“Hello, Princess.”

The frozen tears stuck behind her eyes gushed out, warm and wet.

The Prince stood in the doorway, his smile brighter than ever.

She threw her arms around him, crying and laughing and so, so hoping this wasn't a dream. “You're here! You're really here!” She pulled away, just enough to look up at his golden eyes, to see that it really was him, he truly wasn't a dream. “How? I don't understand.”

He pulled her to his side and turned her around to face the land within the new doorway. “Because of this.”

A world of light greens and sunlight and countless woodland creatures met her eyes. And flowers. Budding, colorful flowers as far as the eye could see. A gentle breeze breathed across her face—cool, but not cold, just comfortable enough to combat the warm sunlight.

“Spring.”

The new word slipped from her tongue on its own accord, but it felt right. As if it had been there all along.

“Spring,” the Prince repeated. He encompassed both his warm hands in hers and faced her. “This is our kingdom.”

She took a moment to let his words sink in, take root. She looked back out into the land of fresh grass, newly growing trees, budding flowers.

This was hers. This was theirs.

“We are Spring,” she breathed.

He tightened his hold on her hands. “Yes.”

“And with Spring, comes Summer.”

She started at the new voice and turned back to the doorway. Her heart flipped.

With sunlight pouring from his very being, the King of Summer stood on the other side. The dark clouds had parted, and new light beamed from the sky, melting away the snow. The Summer creatures tentatively appeared out from their hiding places, blinking in the light.

“Spring transitions into Summer,” the Summer King said, a twinkle in his bright, bright eyes. “Our kingdoms are connected now. As long as the doorway to Spring is opened, there will always be Summer.”

She looked from the King, to her new kingdom, and back to the man she held hands with. And understanding began to dawn.

The cold had always hurt her because she was never meant to be Winter, and the Prince had searched the Winter Kingdom because he knew he did not belong in Summer.

She smiled up at him, the love in her heart warming her from the inside out, and he smiled back.

It all made sense now.

When Winter and Summer meet, Spring blooms.


~ ~ ~


Despite appearances, winter is actually my favorite season, and summer my least favorite… My stories just do what they want, guys! I have no control over them. >.>


Thanks so much for reading! (Seriously, if you made it to the end, I’m so honored!) Hope you enjoyed it!

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