Friday, March 30, 2012

[Guest Post] What are you worth?

Today's guest-poster is my friend and fellow OYANer, Reagan Ramm, from Kingdom Pen and his blog, Hybrid Student. I read his post What Are You Worth? and instantly thought of two videos I had recently watched, both of which I will include here at the end. He is kindly allowing me to share his post here at Sword of Ink.
Thanks so much, Reagan!

The shouts of the auctioneer cast out over the calculating eyes of the crowd.

“Come on folks. We gotta nice strong lad here. He’d be able to do any sorts or labors you would need. Now, let’s start the bidding at…say $75.”

The boy tried to keep his head down, but the auctioneer yanked his head up with a harsh jerk.

“75! Do I hear 75?”

Several men called out, announcing their interest and raising the price of the frightened African boy to $100. After several more attempts by the auctioneer, the boy was sold for $115.

$115. That was deemed as being his maximum value: his worth.

Well what are you worth? If you were put up on that auction block today, what kind of price would you fetch? How much are you worth?

An object’s value is determined by how much someone is willing to pay for it, or, as the dictionary defines value: an amount, esp a material or monetary one, considered to be a fair exchange in return for a thing. A cup of water in New York City is worth very little, while that same cup of water may be worth a great deal in the Sahara desert.

In both the example of the slave trade, and the cup of water, the value of the object was determined by its practical value to the processor. An object is only worth as much as one can get out of it, or how much use one can get out of it.

In other words, when it comes to the slave trade and material things…worth is not intrinsic. Value is relative.

But we are not slaves; we are not objects…right?

Well…is this true? Are we really not slaves? Are we not objects? Well if we aren’t, we sure insist on treating and thinking of ourselves as though we are.

That’s right. We are often getting our views of self-worth the same way a slave or a cup of water or a microwave oven gets its worth. It’s from what we can do, or from how much other people think of us.


This truth is uncomfortably apparent with the American female. As the culture has so masterfully taught them, many girls get their sense of self-worth from their physical appearance. To be pretty is to be valuable; to be admired and sought after by the opposite gender is to be worth gold.

But is it really?

What these girls doing when they place all of their self-worth on their bodies? Well, they are equating themselves to a microwave, making themselves into objects.

Whether they realize it or not, these girls are getting their worth from their practical value to others. How pleasurable they are to look at becomes their measure of value, and their sole purpose for existing.

In other words (subconsciously or not) these girls are saying their worth is not intrinsic. Their value is dependent on other people. This would also mean that the more attractive one is (physically), the more valuable one is.

But this is just females.

Guys will often get their ideas of self-worth from what other people think of them as well. How good at sports they are--how talented at one thing or another they are--will often give them their ideas of self-worth.

But again, we are equating ourselves with practical appliances and slaves if our worth only comes from what “things” we can or can’t do, and what selfish pleasures we can bring to other people.

Does our value really come from what we can do? Or what the other gender thinks of us?

Remember, an object’s value comes from what someone is willing to pay for it. But we are not objects right? We are people. So why then do we voluntarily objectify ourselves? Why do we enslave ourselves to people who only care about us for how we can please them? We are not objects. We are slaves to no man. It’s ridiculous. We need to stop garnering our self-esteem from what others think of us. Why? Because people are not our masters. They are not the highest bidders.

No! There is someone else. There is someone else who has bought us at a price no one has—or ever can--match. That person is Jesus Christ.

If our value stands at the highest price someone is willing to pay for us…then our worth is literally priceless…because no one can put a figure on the price Jesus paid for us. If Jesus is our master--our savior—then His opinion of us is the only one that really matters. And it just so happens that God looks at the inside, not the outside. As the Bible says in 1 Samuel 16:7 “for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.It’s not about what we look like or what we can do…it’s about who we are.

So why do we continue to fret over what others think? They do not own us. We are not their slaves, we are not their objects of enjoyment. We are slaves to God, and God only. His opinion is the one that matters, and we are priceless to Him. The creator of the universe thinks you’re priceless! We don’t really have an excuse for insecurity. We can boldly go forth and do what our Master, our value-giver, our savior would have us do. And once we give up our insecurity, we will become better vessels for Christ.

So what are you worth? The answer…nothing. That is, no figure can be put on your head. You are priceless. So stop acting like you came from Wal-Mart! You weren't bought cheap.

Back to me (Hannah), here are the videos this made me think of! Both are well worth your time watching. The man in this first video is the lead singer of the band Tenth Avenue North, by the way.

- Hannah

Thursday, March 29, 2012

[Excerpt] Scene from Plague of Darkness

SOMETHING WARM NUDGED my cheek. With a groan, I rolled over.

“Teague,” a whisper and a hiccup. Adeline.

I rolled back over, rubbed the sleep from my eyes, and sat up. “Aye?”

Staring at her bare toes, she sniffled. Her eyes were rimmed with red. “When will Mother come back?”

Tears filled my eyes and I swallowed hard. “Come here, Addie.”

She curled up onto my lap, twining her arms around my neck and laying her head against my shoulder. “When will Mother and Father come home?”

“They aren’t coming home,” I whispered, wrapping my arms around her. “They died, Addie. The plague took them far away.”

Adeline let go of my neck and pulled back, staring into my eyes. Her lip quivered. “Can we go too?”

“Someday.” I stroked her hair.

“I want t’ go now,” she insisted.

I swallowed hard again. “We can’t go now.”

She hid her face against my neck and started to cry. I didn’t know what to do, so I just let her cry. I rubbed her back. After a while, she quieted. Her tears turned to hiccups, then to an occasional sniffle, then she fell asleep.

I eased her out of my arms and onto my pallet, then remained sitting next to her until I was sure she wasn’t going to wake up. I couldn’t go back to sleep. Besides, the dim, pre-dawn light was easing into sunrise. Father and Mother had always been up before dawn, preparing for the day. I had to imitate them now.

Crossing the small room and stepping around Matthias’ and Katriels’ pallets, I reached the water bucket. Empty. I picked it up and tiptoed out the door. Outside, the air still held a slight chill, but the sun would soon burn it off.

One of the village elders stopped me before I reached the well. “Teague.”

I turned. “Aye, sir?”

He put his hand on my shoulder. “In two days’ time, we will hold a meeting t’ determine what is best for you and your siblings. I’m so sorry about your parents.”

I stared down into my empty bucket, then up at him. “Please, don’t separate us.”

“None of you will leave Dunn, if that is what you are concerned about.”

“No sir, not that. Please don’t split us up among different families. We need t’ stay together. I promised Father.”

He sighed. “I can’t make any promises, but we’ll see.”

I nodded my thanks. “May I go now? I need t’ get back.”

“Aye, you may.”

Making my way to the well, I tried not to feel afraid. He said he couldn’t make any promises. What would happen if we were split up? Aye, we’d still be in the same village, but who would Adeline run to in the middle of the night? She wouldn’t want one of our neighbors. She would want family.

- from Chapter 1 of Plague of Darkness

Plague of Darkness is undergoing yet another revision, and this scene is entirely new, not having come into existence until the 10th or 11th draft.
I am so excited about finishing it!

- Hannah

Monday, March 26, 2012

[Media Monday] Then and Now

Today's media is the newest Jostie Flicks! Love the contrasts.

- Hannah

[Review] To Kill A Mockingbird

To Kill a MockingbirdTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed To Kill A Mockingbird very much.
It chronicles the misadventures and trials of young Jean Louise "Scout" Finch and her brother, Jem, as they grow up in a small Alabama town in the 1930's. A mysterious neighbor, a court case where their father defends a black man accused of raping a white girl, prejudice, and vengence connected to said case, end up being much more connected than it originally seems. While I feel the plot meanders slightly, it ends up working out well for the story and gave me an "Oh, duh, it makes perfect sense!" moment at the end.

The older feel, the narrative style, and the perspective were all great and consistent throughout the story. I also like how the author handled the more mature themes, by telling the story through the perspective of young Scout (who goes from about 8 to 11 through the course of the book) who didn't fully understand everything that was happening. Character growth was believable and progressed nicely, and the various characters were colorful, and most, very likeable.
This is a book I wouldn't mind reading again someday.

View all my reviews
- Hannah

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

[Beautiful People] Jerome & Marc

It is time for another Beautiful People once more!
The lucky duo this time is Jerome and Marc Steele, from Shadow of Glory, about half of the way through that particular book. This month's challenge involves questioning two characters that are friends/lovers/enemies/in-some-sort-of-relationship. Part One has more general questions, Part Two focuses on their relationship.

Part 1:

1. Do they believe in anything that most people think is impossible?
Marc doesn't. He is very much a stickler for the status quo. Jerome on the other hand, is a dreamer. He believes that the Communist government can be overthrown and replaced if enough people can be recruited.

2. Are they strong, or the "damsel/knight in distress" sort?
Both are strong in their own way. Marc's strength is more physical, while Jerome's strength lies mostly in his stubborn nature.

3. Do they have a special place? (e.g. a corner in his/her bedroom, under a tree...)
Jerome's special place is under the streets, in the massive sewer system. While druggies and thugs hang around its outer edges, nobody goes very far into the sewer's network of tunnels. Except for Jerome. He likes how quiet it is.
As for Marc, I actually don't know if he has a special place. Hm.

4. What occupation do they have, or plan on having?
Marc is a Junior Agent, recently out of the Acadamey. Think FBI/CIA/Secret Police.
Jerome is a senior in highschool, but leaves before he can graduate to escape being drafted into the army and sent to Beijing. He ends up working as a Mole once he reaches the Underground. A Mole is someone who comes and goes from the Underground, carrying supplies, scouting, etc.

5. Describe their current place of residence.
Jerome lives beneath Chicago, in the only remaining bomb shelter: the Underground.
Marc lives in a small, sparse apartment in the city.

6. Explain their last crisis. How had they changed when they came out of it?
Jerome was arrested for being part of an anti-goverment meeting. He was interrogated, and Marc was forced by his boss to assist in the interrogation methods.
It hardened Marc, and it strengthened Jerome's resolve in the course his life was taking, and furthered the disdain/near-hatered he felt for Marc and The Inter-Continental Communist Confederacy.

7. If they could drive any kind of car they wanted, what would it be?
They would probably both want a Fire Hawk, possibly a Fire Hawk Z58. Fire Hawks are sports cars that look a lot like the more recent Corvette models. This Corvette ZR1 looks very much like a Fire Hawk Z58.

8. How do they deal with change?
Not very well--that applies to both of them.

9. If they had to amputate one body part, which one would they choose?
Their little toe.

10. What would their favorite be at the local coffee shop?
Marc's would be strong espresso, black.
Jerome would get something else just because Marc got the espresso. He might go with plain black coffee, or a frappacino that involves chocolate.

Part 2: Here are 5 more questions. These ones are focused more on that relationship we mentioned above. The goal is to become more familiar with the way your two characters relate with one another. Think about your answers, don't be afraid to give us detail.

1. How did they meet?
They are brothers, the hospital when Jerome was born.

2. How do these two deal with conflict?
Marc gets angry. Jerome either shuts down or lashes out; it all depends on his mood/the situation. They will yell, name-call, Marc will cuss, and sometimes their arguments will get physical.

3. Do they have a special song, phrase, item, or place?

4. What kind of things do they like to do together?
They used to like to just hang out together, like brothers often do. They also liked to go see action movies in 4D. But that was several years ago. Now they don't do anything "together"...the most they have done together recently involved Jerome being interrogated by Marc.

5. Describe their relationship as a whole in 3 words, or less.
Strained. Tense. Angry.


- Hannah

Photo Credit: I believe I found this picture on the Corvette website, but I found it well over a year ago thus can't remember for sure.

Monday, March 19, 2012

[Media Monday] Can't Get Over You

Anthem Lights preforming their beautiful song, Can't Get Over You. Their album is great, and I love how their voices blend.

“We were intentional on being more than just another pop group. We understood our calling, that we were meant to be more than ‘music business.’ We were called to share the Light we’ve been given. To build people up. To lead the way.” - Alan Powell, singer/songwriter for the band

Formerly known as the Yellow Cavaliers, they changed their name to Anthem Lights, because as one of the band members said, These songs [and] this record is our anthem to the world saying, "Listen, we know there's a lot of darkness in this life, but in the end, light is gonna win." And we wanna be the light to people and just show them who the light of the world is.

- Hannah

Thursday, March 15, 2012

As days go by... is building momentum and rushing by faster and faster.

This post will be a bit of a ramble, I'm afraid. At the moment I need to be cleaning, or working on my novel, but it is Thursday, so I'll do my best to write about something or other.

This weekend, some friends are coming over and we are going to take my senior pictures! I don't like having my picture taken very much, but I am really looking forward to it this time because I'll be doing it with three people that I love spending time with. So today my mom and I drove around for a while, "scoping out" potential spots to take the pictures. We found some pretty neat places!

It feels like April or May outside instead of March, how odd is that?
Thus...I did schoolwork outside, and loved every minute of it. Lying on the trampoline reading To Kill a Mockingbird for American Lit. and The Elements for chemistry is surprisingly relaxing.

The highlight of my day, however, is the package I received--an autographed copy of Jerry B. Jekin's book, Riven.
I am unashamedly a Riven fangirl, and yes, I nearly squealed when I opened the package (much thanks to the wonderful friend who gave me the book!)! My collection of autographed books and first-edition books is growing!

Writing is underway, albeit slowly, or so it feels. Two nights ago, I finally broke 25,000 words on my current novella. Plague of Darkness is still in its editing stage, which is kind of discouraging, but I'm hoping to complete it soon.

Well, I need to wrap this up and get some work done before supper. I'll end with a quote...

The rules have changed. True power is held by the person who possesses the largest bookshelf, not gun cabinet or wallet. - Anthony J. D'Angelo

- Hannah

Photo credit

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

[Media Monday] Pie

Another Julian Smith video! His grandmother co-stars in this one. It is quite funny ^.^

- Hannah

Thursday, March 8, 2012


You might be wondering what noodles have to do with writing.
Truthfully, I wondered that myself.

See, I didn't know what to blog about today. On my OYAN status, I put, "I need ideas for a blog post", and within ten minutes I had gotten multiple responses.
Something Controversial.

At first I thought, Noodles? What? C'mon, that is just--wait just a second... I suddenly had an idea.

So I present to you Noodles & Plots.

A complicated yet well-done plot is like a plate of spaghetti, I think. And so is a well-developed character.

At the beginning of the book, it seems simple enough. You pull on one piece of literary spaghetti with your literary fork, and's not quite as simple. You end up with an entire tangle of noodles resting on your silverware.

You don't know where to begin, which piece connects there, and which piece on top is connected to the even larger pile beneath your fork.
And your knife of Plot Dissection? It went AWOL.

You end up doing what almost everybody else does: you swirl your fork through the spaghetti, twirling a good-sized bite onto it like a cocoon, and start eating.
As you do so, the tail ends still in the bowl start to untangle.

By the time you get to the bottom of the spaghetti-story, it all makes sense.
You now know why the protagonist hates X, why the sidekick freaks out about Y, why the friendly neighborhood mailman was just a little too friendly.
You untangled it one bit at a time. It was complicated, but not hopeless. Tangled, but not tied into an eternal knot.

Just like a plate of real noodles, you had to eat it before it became untangled. You had to start at the beginning, with Bite Number One, Paragraph Number One, and continue right through to the very last piece for it to all make sense, for your mind to "digest" it.

Noodles sono come trame! Magnifico.

- Hannah

Photo Credit

Monday, March 5, 2012

[Media Monday] I Am Second: Lecrae

Wow. I just watched this video is wonderful! Lecrae is a follower of Jesus, and a rapper.
He also happens to look somewhat like Jerome Steele, which is kind of weird.

- Hannah

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The legend of the Koi Dragons

It makes sense now!

Last fall, my mom, brother, and I went to the Rebelution conference. I bought some of their t-shirts, and really liked the design that has fish on it. I thought it was odd, though. What do fish have to do with the Rebelution?

I found out in the most unexpected place: at my chiropractors'. I was wearing the fish-shirt last time I went to my appointment, and Dr. C noticed that the fish were koi (Japanese for "carp"), and asked me if I knew the Chinese legend about the koi dragons.

I didn't, so he proceeded to tell me. After which, I proceeded to write it down in my trusty notebook.

From what he said and from what I have read in an internet-search on the legend, I have dug up a very interesting ancient Chinese legend.

According to the different versions of the legend (there are three, I believe), the koi swim up the Yellow River. They do that in real life. Some say that when they reach the mouth of that river, they, due to their strength and perseverance, are turned into dragons.
The other version says that the few koi that are strong and brave enough to succeed in climbing the falls at the Dragon's Gate (along the Yellow River) are turned into dragons.
Both times it is as a reward for their perseverance and courage.
Another version says it swims up to the gate of heaven, is turned into a dragon, and flies away.
It symbolizes something relatively weak becoming something strong, and of perseverance.

In the world of tattoo artistry, koi dragons are popular tattoos, usually symbolizing that the person getting the tattoo has gone through, or is going through, a major change in life: a death, a divorce, difficult circumstances, and coming out stronger because of it.

Red koi tattoos represent love, exuberance, and "manly deeds".

The blue koi tattoos are associated with male dominance and reproduction.

Black koi tattoos symbolize victory after a major change, or fighting against the harshness the world sometimes brings into life and the feeling of victory after standing strong beneath said harshness.

Now you might be wondering why I am even writing about this.

Well, because it is interesting. And because I realized it fits part of my character, Erin Wolfe's, life perfectly!

Erin is/was (depending on what part of her story) a member of the Dragon Scourge Division, an elite military force, akin to our Navy Seals and Army Rangers. Originally, I had a plain Chinese dragon be their symbol, and all of the members--after completing their training--get the symbol and the words "Dragon Scourge" tattooed onto them in Chinese.
Since the Inter-Continental Communist Confederacy started out with China taking over Asia and half of the U.S., Chinese influence is very, very strong and Chinese is one of the two official languages. So a Chinese dragon made sense.

But a koi dragon makes even more sense.
The DSD takes promising, yet ordinary, soldiers and turns them into the best of the best. Transforms them into the elite, high-profile, dauntless, ruthless fighting force that is feared the globe over.
Taking a Chinese legend and tying it to a futuristic story is, in my opinion, so neat! It's perfect. Having the symbol rooted in the legend will hopefully make it all seem very authentic and real.

Now I just need to either find a koi dragon design that I like, draw one myself, or ask someone to draw it for me.

Meaning of this post: Ancient China has cool legends. And you never know where you will learn a useful tidbit that meshes perfectly with your book.

- Hannah

Image Credits:
Koi Dragon

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Notebooks - my semi-constant companions

Ah yes...notebooks.

My notebook is rarely far from me. Even now, as I am typing up this post, my current notebook is sitting not three inches away from my knee.

I filled up another one about three weeks ago. I'd only been using it since September/October, and it was quite a large one too, roughly 8 1/2" x 11".
It holds everything from chapters of my current manuscript to to-do lists, poems, brainstorms for school papers and essays, and a plethora of notes for a rather daunting paper I'm hoping to soon write.

It is chocolate brown and blue. My new one, a gift from one of my lovely grandmothers, has an old-fashioned atlas on the cover. It is so neat! The size is nicer too. Much smaller and easier to fit into normal-sized purses...because, well, I take it everywhere. You never know when inspiration is going to strike, when you can snatch a few odd moments to work on your current chapter, or when you're going to need to write down a note-to-self, right?

Since 2009 I've filled up five notebooks! That's 500 pages--more, since I often write on both sides of the page.

Keeping a notebook has been a great thing for me. For some reason, I brainstorm better when I'm using a notebook.
Like I told my critique-group, "My brain works better on paper." Yes. I actually said that. And ever since, it has been a running joke between us. Just imagine squishy grey matter all over a notebook.....yeah.
Ahem. Back on track. I think it must be something about the kinesthetics of using a pen. Or maybe it's because if I don't like a word or a paragraph, I can't just hit "Backspace" and forget all about it. Even if I cross it out, it's still there. It makes me think more slowly. And focus more.

While I definetly prefer a computer for the actual writing process, my notebook is invaluble. I hate going anywhere without it (honestly. I really do. It's kind of pathetic).
I wonder how long it is going to take me to fill up my current notebook...

- Hannah

[Review] Safely Home

Safely HomeSafely Home by Randy Alcorn

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow. This book was absolutely wonderful, and very easily one of the best "serious" fiction books I have read in a while.

I'm not going to give a whole overview because I don't want to spoil it.

While I could see some of the plot twists coming, there were others that I didn't see. The central characters were all well-rounded, and China, the government, etc. all felt very real. The contrast between the American, Ben, and the Chinese, Quan, was quite marked in mannerisms and such. I liked the contrast.
The sections of the book that were written from the perspectives of the Chinese characters had a distinctive feel to them, due to the way those sections were phrased, the similies and analogies used, and the thought processes of the characters. The tones in those parts of the book felt distinctively Asian, and that added a lot of personality to the novel.

It was a great way to convey what the Underground Church in China is experiencing. I almost cried, and would've felt like something was wrong with me if I hadn't.

If I could give it 10 stars, I would. I highly recommend it. Read it--you won't regret it.

View all my reviews

- Hannah