Friday, June 27, 2014


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For the next several weeks, my family and I are going to be traveling around performing concerts and teaching at Bible Camps.  Since we will have limited internet access on these trips, it is unlikely that I will be able to post very often.  But, in the mean time, I will try to prepare some good posts to get to when I come back.  :)  
So, that being said, farewell to thee, my dear readers!  I'll try to get on when I have the chance to say hello! 


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-Yours, Emmarayn Redding

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Liebster Award!

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Ladies and gentlemen, I am honored to announce that this blog has received its first Liebster Award, granted to me by the gracious Lady Sarah.  (Thank you, very much, my friend! :)
For those of you who do not know this tag, I will explain it.  I am to answer eleven questions posed to me by the person who has given me the tag.  Then I am to state eleven random things about myself before giving eleven more questions to pass on to those people I tag.  After this, I will tag eleven more people (or as many as I can think of).

And here begin the Sarah's questions for me.  :D

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I definitely prefer the mountains.  I love the scenery, and the air.   Though I've never been to the sea, so I suppose I might not know for sure until I have.  Right now though, if I could move anywhere, it would be to someplace with mountains.  I find them very inspiring for my writing.  I suppose that's why I made Talminia so mountainous.  :)


Let me fly!  It's been my lifelong dream.  Some nights, in my dreams, I've been convinced that I've discovered the secret to flight.  And some days, when the wind rises, and the sun shines off the clouds, it feels as though I'm almost there...  yes, I'd definitely want to fly.  Bind me not to this earthly soil- let me fly above the fly above the winds and clouds, soaring forever more in this sky! 


I'd probably get a little freaked out and land again.  Then, after I'd made sure that it wasn't just another dream, I'd try it again slowly and test my boundaries.   Then I'd show my family... though aside from them, I'd probably keep it a secret.  I know enough about superhero stories to know that the instant you have a super power, they want to study you until yo die.  


Hmmm.... well, it's difficult for me to choose just one.  Captain America and Spider-Man are tied for that position, I think.  I was also fond of Kid Loki as a hero, during his solo comic run in Journey Into Mystery.  


Oh dear.  What to do when some of my favorite characters are villains?  Ermmm... to be on the safe side, I"ll just invite the heroes for now.  Maybe I'll host a villain's formal dinner at another time.  ;)
On my guest list today are.... Aragorn Ellessar (LOTR), Sherlock Holmes, and Charlie West (The Homelanders series).  


I'll make a pizza-hotdish (basically, noodles, cheese, spagetti sauce, and ground hamburger), served with corn and green beans.  I'll make a cold seven-layer salad, apple-cider to drink, and for dessert I will serve pink-lemonade-dessert.


Hmm, well since Sauron's firey Eye wouldn't fit in my house, and the Homelanders series doesn't have any one villain, I'll go with Sherlock Holmes' archenemy, Professor James Moriarty.  
If he walked through my door, I would invite him to sit down as I set another place.  I would give him coffeee, cookies, tea, some of the meal.... all the while engaging in polite conversation as I covertly reach for my phone in case I need to call the cops.  Though that probably won't be necessary since he never does his dirty work.  And even if it came to that, I'm guessing that Holmes and Aragorn could fend him off.


Yes, I do.  Actually, a lot of my favorite character are villains.  And as for my own dark characters, I love them as much as my heroes, and sometimes even more.  :)  Some of the easiest scenes for me to write in QftIS were the ones from Andelph or Revoux's perspectives.


I do.  For some reason, I'm particularly fond of the number 12.  :D
Incidently, it was at that age that I began writing QftIS.


Hmmm..... well, looks-wise, I really like medieval boots, which is why I'm so glad that they're coming into fashion.  Not that I wouldn't wear them even if they weren't in fashion.  ;)  Though they cannot have heels, because I have this problem with collapsing arches in my feet.  The shoes I wear have to be flats, and I have to put custom-made inserts in  them if I want to stay out of excruciating pain.  I can handle heels for a short time... but after that, it's no good.


Mostly, I prefer hawks, although barn owls are pretty cool.  But now that I've seen Labyrinth, I'll probably never see them the same.  I'll see a barn owl and think, Oh no, the Goblin King is watching me!

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And now, I must state eleven random facts about myself.  

1.  If I was given the chance to go hang-gliding, I would do it without a second thought.  XD

2.  My favorite way to spend winter nights is watching a movie in my room while sipping hot cocoa.  Either that, or writing a book while sipping hot cocoa.

3.  I'll be going to a musical theater camp in the next few weeks.  It will be the first time I've acted alongside male actors of my own age in years.  The drama groups in my hometown consists mostly of girls and small children, so as I am quite tall and have an alto voice, I usually play the male roles.  

4.  One of my favorite roles to play was Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  

5.  During the rehearsals for that musical, I provided most of my own costume.  When I arrived in town, I had to walk across the street dressed like Willy Wonka, including a blonde wig combed in every direction.  One of the guys I knew from highschool saw me from a distance and said, "Who is that guy with the crazy hair?  I love his outfit!"

6. Though I have been homeschooled all my life, I was able to attend a few classes at a public school, and for one year spent half-days at school.  Thus, I've been fortunate enough to have a taste of both worlds.

7.  Homeschooling is better.  No offense to those of you who are public schooled.  ;)

8.  On the subject of being homeschooled, I am very well socialized.  As are my siblings.  In fact, I think it's safe to say that most homeschoolers are well socialized.  

9.  I can quote a movie line or book line for almost any situation.  It's too bad I can't do it with Bible verses... @_@

10.  I love belts, hats, boots, and anything that resembles medieval clothing.  I deliberately pattern a lot of my outfits to look medieval.  If I don't, though, I like to wear a trench-coat an fedora, like a gangster or a detective.  ;D

11.  I often use real people and situations as a basis for the plots and characters for my books.  So, if you know me in any way... beware.  You could end up in one of my novels.

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And now, I must ask eleven questions for the people I tag next!

1.  Would you feel more nervous... a) taking an extensive test filled with difficult questions, or b) Stand up in front of a large auditorium filled with people and give a speech/sing a song/perform a play?

2.  If you were to get stuck in a fictional universe from the books/movies that you like, which would you choose?

3.  Once there, what would you do to make a living and survive?

4.  If you were to meet the main cast of that story, would you get along with the characters?

5.  Would they get along with you? 

6.  If you were to become a private detective, what kind would you be?  The cool, collected, and emotionally removed Sherlock Holmes-type?  The friendly, charming, hands-on investigating Nancy Drew-type?  Opra-loving Morse?  Depressed but determined Wallander?

7.  Would you have a sidekick?  Or maybe just a friend on equal grounds?

8.  Given a choice between the Grinch and a sea-sick crocodile, which would you take?

9.  If you're a writer, answer question a.  If you're not, answer question b.

-A)  If you were given the opportunity to meet one of your main hero and villain from your book, with them knowing that you were the author, would you want to meet them?

-B) Do you know what pneumenoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis means?  And DONT CHEAT by looking it up first!  ;)  Break it down by the root words.  

10.   Are you fond of musicals?  If so, what are your favorites?

11.  If you were given the opportunity to play any character from a book/movie/play/musical, who would you want to play and from what show?

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I now tag...

And I would also tag Ryebrynn, but I know that she's already been tagged recently.  :)

Once again, thanks to Sarah for giving me this award!  Also, thank you to my readers, and good luck to those of you I've tagged!

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Sincerely, Emmarayn Redding

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Mary Sues: When to Lose 'Em and When to Use 'Em

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An idealized character, perfect in every way.  A character who is always right, with no great faults, and many friends.  Any character who is not fond of the Mary Sue is most likely the enemy.  Often, a Mary Sue is an author avatar, thought not always.

If you are unfamiliar with Mary Sues, here are some quick pointers on how to spot them.

a)  If their physical appearance resembles you (the author), or if it resembles what you wish you look like.

b)  If they have an insane amount of talents, or master new talents with ease and speed.

c)  If they are loved by everyone, except their enemies

d)  If the sun shines brighter, and the birds sing louder, and the flowers bloom when they enter an area

e)  If they are always in the right, and never make a mistake that drastically affects their life, or other's lives.

Now, almost every author is aware of the dreaded "Mary Sue", and each author does their best to avoid them.  However, despite their best efforts, even the greatest of authors have had their Mary Sues.  
Why is this?  I believe it is because everyone of us desires to be just a little bit better than what we are.  Every human being on the planet wants to be the best at something, to be loved, and respected...  and those of us with an inclination toward writing have a chance to make ourselves just that- whether it is done consciously, or unconsciously.  
Unfortunately, when readers encounter Mary Sues (or their male form, Gary Stus), they find that the characters are difficult to identify with, because of their perfection.  Let's face it- no one likes the know-it-all, overly virtuous person who stubbornly inserts themselves into your life "for the better"!  

Every author knows this, and yet somehow, Mary Sues are some of the most commonly seen characters in fiction- especially in fanfiction involving OC's (original characters).  
But ladies and gentleman, authors and readers, I present to you a revolutionary idea:  Mary Sues are not always bad.

Yes, I said it!  I believe that, contrary to popular belief, Mary Sues do have their place in literature.  

To illustrate my point, let me list some examples of Mary Sues from popular and professional literature.


Story:  The Silmarillion
Author:  J.R.R. Tolkien

Luthien by moon blossom-d2klr1v
Image created by Moon-Blossom
When Luthien is first described in the book, it literally says that when she dances, spring begins.  Luthien has no apparent faults, and is loved by all of her kingdom.  When Beren first sees her, it is love at first sight.  With all of her powers and skill, Luthien makes for a definite Mary Sue, in fact- I think she's the most obvious Mary Sue I've ever seen.  
And yet, Luthien still manages to be an awesome character!  Despite her perfection, she has readers rooting for her all the way.  The woman is up against tremendous odds, and yet she still manages to pull through triumphantly.  She is no damsel in distress, waiting for Beren her lover to rescue her.  When her father locks her away at the top of a towering tree (Rapunzel, anyone?)  She casts a spell to make her hair grow long enough for her to climb down.  She then proceeds to weave it into a cloak of invisibility and goes to rescue Beren on her own.  When she and Beren take it upon themselves to live up to her father Thingol's dare and steal a silmaril from the dark lord MORGOTH's crown,  Luthien uses her magic to disguise herself and Beren as a vampire and a werewolf, respectively.   She then proceeds to sing such a beautiful and enchanting song that she manages to send Morgoth, the manifestation of evil itself, into an enchanted sleep!

Why can Luthien be a Mary Sue and still manage to be awesome?  Because she has her place.  When a person reads a fairy tale, (especially one as  complicated, dark and grand as The Silmarillion), they aren't doing it for reality, they're doing it to escape reality.  Becaue each of us desires to be better than we are, it's fun to imagine ourselves as the incredible Luthien Tinuviel, or if we happen to be male, as her brave and devoted hero Beren.  
We feel for them as they struggle through trial after trial, fearlessly sacrificing everything for a love that will bridge the gap between men and elves.  As long as a Mary Sue is kept sympathetic to the audience, I think that they can work.

#2:  Super Man

Story:  Super Man (Comics and Movies)
Creator:  Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster

File:Superman.jpgI think that everyone knows who Super Man is.  He's the first person that everyone thinks of when they hear the word superhero (others may include Batman and Spider Man).  
He's the man from Krypton sent to earth to escape the destruction of his planet.  Being in our atmosphere gave him an amazing (and confusing) set of powers- including, but not limited to:  laser-vision, X-ray vision, flight, super-strength, super-speed, indestructibility, a memory-wiping kiss, ice-breath.... oh, the list goes on and on.  Super Man is just ridiculously powerful.  In fact, his only weakness is Krypntonite, fragments from his home planet, ironically.  
But don't worry, when readers and viewers get tired of seeing him beat his evil enemies to a pulp, we get to watch him go into his secret identity, Clark Kent, the mild-mannered reporter that has become the arch-type for all super-hero secret identities.  We get to meet his beautiful love interest, Lois Lane, who seems to be caught between loving him, and his alternate identity Super Man.  Oh... the trauma of love triangles...

Even though Super Man is an undeniable Gary Stu, people have known and loved him since his first days in the comics in the late 1930's.  Why?  Once again, because he is relatable.  Everyone has a secret desire to be heroic and powerful, and lets face it- every girl wants a hero to love her, right?  Super Man gives us something to aspire to, as well as some great adventure stories to enjoy.

I could list others, but I feel that my point has been sufficiently illustrated.  There is a time and place for Mary Sues, and a way in which to successfully use them.  
Now if the character is completely one-dimensional, with no enjoyable or relatable qualities at all, then it's time to dump them.  If the story hinges on their being like this, in might be time to rethink the story as well.  All characters, even Mary Sues, need to be sympathetic and able to be enjoyed by the audience.  
One sure way to test your character's relatability is to allow others to read about them.  Not just one person- multiple people.  Get their responses to your character.  Can the reader identify with them?  If not, can they still be enjoyed?  If not, it might be time to either scrap the characer, or re-work them from the beginning.

Still, I think that as long as Mary Sues/Gary Stus are kept relatable and reasonably realistic, it's not too terrible to have them in your stories.
Some ways to do this are:

a)  Give them a few faults or vices to bring them down to earth.  Make sure that these faults are reasonable faults that normal, everyday people would have and relate to.

b)  Make sure to show that they are not always perfect, or the best at everything they do.  Make sure that from time to time, they fail- because if they don't, what would be the point of reading/watching the story?  

c)  If they happen to be an author avatar, and their struggles in the book are wish-fulfillment for you, make sure that their victories can appeal to anyone.

So if you've been realizing lately that your Main Character is a Mary Sue, don't be disheartened!  There are still ways to turn in around, and make them into an enjoyable character without completely re-writing them.  There is a time and place for Mary Sues, just as there is for almost everything else.  :)

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For more fun stuff on Mary Sues and writing tips, Spring Hole is a great place to go.

If you're worried about a particular character, or multiple characters, run them through this test!

Do you know of any well-placed Mary Sues in fiction?  If so, let me know about them in the comments! Do you agree with my assertion?  Do you think I'm completely wrong and need to re-think my life?  Either way, I'd love to hear about it!  

Emmarayn Redding

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(Disclaimer:  I do not own the images used in this post.  All credit goes to the artists and the copy-right owners)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


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Hello!  I am your host (obviously...), Emmarayn Redding, but those who know me call me Emma. 
It is my opinion that the best way to start a blog is with an introduction of one's self.  So, let us begin, shall we?
As mentioned in the description of this blog, I am an author.  My first published book, The Quest for the Ivory Sword,  can be found here, and here.
However, my life consists of significantly more than just my writing.  I enjoy books, movies, and music.  As I am still in highschool, I also spend a bit of my time studying, and my favorite subjects are history, language arts, and... of course, music.  I play alto saxophone, piano, Irish penny whistle, and guitar. Though with the latter three, I confess I do not read music;  I am largely self-taught.  And as far as guitar goes... I play very poorly, and mostly for my own enjoyment.  
I enjoy singing Celtic and Gaelic songs, and also writing music for the piano.  It is my hope to someday record and release and album, but there is no telling when such an event may occur. 

I am a definite fantasy geek, and I love delving into the depths of such books as The Silmarillion, and the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.  The most recent fantasy series I've finished is Stephen R. Donaldson's Chronicles of Thomas Covenant.  
I have also, in the past two years, developed a great love for the superhero genre.  Since then, I've taken to researching superhero comic lines, mainly MARVEL, and thus have become something of a comic geek as well.

On this blog, I will mainly be posting thoughts, movie and book reviews, tips, devotionals, and an occasional excerpt of my writings.  You can also look here for any updates on books or series that I will be releasing in the future. 

In the mean time, welcome!  I am very glad to have you here, and look forward to hearing from you in the future.  :)

Emmarayn Redding