Archive for August, 2013

It Is Finished

Posted: August 23, 2013 by Hannah Stewart in Uncategorized

Just a few moments ago, I typed the last sentence of Breaking Shadows: Bold, the final rough draft.

I still have final rounds of editing to do but… the story is complete.

I’m celebrating with chocolate, tears, the song that inspired it all, and the song that carried me through to the end.

Feel free to join me.

What is Hope?

Posted: August 18, 2013 by Hannah Stewart in Uncategorized

“But wait… that’s how it ends? Hannah, I thought you said this book was about hope! You know, the whole Romans 5:1-5 spiel? This is a tragedy! Where’s the hope in all this?”

The above is a question nearly every BETA reader asks of Breaking Shadows: Bold upon reading the final chapter. I’m not known for writing happy books – I’m known for writing truth. Painful, heart wrenching, gut twisting truth. And the truth of Bold is that hope is all we have to hold on to. Hope is something that will strengthen us to endure through anything, even death itself.

As Christians, we are promised two things. The first of these is that we have hope, and that hope is worth living and dying for. We have hope, because our God came to earth to rescue us from the clutches of death and hell. We have hope, because God Himself is Hope, and He gave Himself to us in full. His Hope can carry us through anything, and that is what we believe in. But the second promise, is that it won’t be easy. Without that Hope, we will fail. Because, just as Christ was persecuted and put to death here, so His followers will be until His coming. This is what it means to be a Christian – trusting in our Hope, even through the slings and arrows of this life.

The good news is, the pain we go through as we endure with hope will not go to waste. It will not, as Romans 5 says, “put us to shame.” God uses our pain to make us strong, to build character in us, to sharpen us and purify us. And not only that, but He uses our pain as an example to others – not of punishment, but of how His hope can shine through any situation.

The entire story line of redemptive history is filled with pain, impossible odds, and martyrs. Since the fall, the pursuit of hope has been a marred, bloody, gory thing, and to many it may appear a fool’s errand. But we, as Christians, have hope, because – whether we live to see it, or die to see it – Christ will return, and with Him, all the pains and struggles and strife of this world will end. We have already won. And we can be safe, and rest in that – no matter what comes. We have victory, as long as we have hope.

Breaking Shadows: Bold is one depiction of this struggle. It is not a pretty, sugar-coated tale of success. It is a bitter tale of loss in a harsh and fallen world, and it doesn’t end the way most may think it should. I don’t close the tale with rainbows and candy and fluffy feels. This story is real, as real as that of Stephen (Acts 7:54-60) and countless others. But the story doesn’t end on the last page. The story continues, and will continue until victory is had. Because, though flesh may fail and beloved characters be lost, hope never dies. As long as there is one still holding to it, it will go forward into battle, and it will succeed.

All of this, I think, is summed up quite nicely by Jesse in Chapter 15, as she encourages Jude in one of his few moments of weakness. I leave you with her capable voice, and pray I’ve left you with ample food for thought.

“My parents always told us that ‘hope will not put us to shame.’ They taught us that hope is strength. It’s power. Hope was the driving force behind every successful movement in history. Where there are even a few willing to hold on to that, a spark ignites. A flame bursts forth. And no one, no one, Jude, can put it out. And if we hold on to that hope, if we let it take root and guide us, even our deaths will be victories.

“When we die fighting for them, following that hope to the very end, it gives them something to stand for. Something far bigger than themselves. It reminds them why their freedom is worth the fight. It fans the embers into a blaze.

“You yourself said I’m a light, but my light is nothing but the hope I reflect. And the only thing that can extinguish that light is running away. Putting it out myself by turning away from its source. Hope is all we have, and it’s worth fighting for, because it never dies. It never puts us to shame. It only spreads, and ignites elsewhere until the job is done.

“I’m not the keeper of my own destiny, Jude. If the guard dogs tuck tail and run, who will guide and strengthen the people? Who will show them hope? How can I live for myself, Jude, with so many other lives depending on me to show them what hope looks like?”

Bold (c) 2013

But Hold Me Tight

Posted: August 15, 2013 by Hannah Stewart in Uncategorized

The BOLD Update:

Breaking Shadows: Bold is nearing its final stages. I began the rewrite of Chapter 16 today, which means there are three chapters still to go. Once the rewrites are finished and typed up, the final round of my four step editing process will commence, and each completed chapter will be reformatted into what will be the final pdf version. All of this I aim to have finished by the first day of school, August 26th. After that, I will have about a week’s wait from the final publishing house, at the end of which time I will have a better idea of the official publication date. If they accept the manuscript, it could be another couple months. If they do not, however, I will be self publishing, and the release date will be sometime in mid-September.

Today’s Order of Business:

While that’s all well and good, today I wanted to take a moment to point out one of the more unique parts of Bold.

Those of you out there that are mostly unfamiliar with my writing style would be unaware that I began my writing career as nothing more than a poet. While I have since moved on to bigger things, poetry and song are still very large parts of my works. I often incorporate lyrics and poetry of my own into my novels, all filled with multiple layers of meaning – from their purpose in that moment of the story on down to the ominous foreshadowing hidden beneath the bouncy tunes. Bold has followed this tradition in what I hope you will consider a grand fashion, with many of the main themes and glimpses of the future wrapped up in rhyme.

Over the years, I have been blessed to have amazingly talented BETA readers come behind me, with skills far beyond my own, that have offered to take my raw lyrics and poems and set them to music. They never cease to amaze me with their wit and ability, and there hasn’t been a single tune sent to me that didn’t bring gleeful tears to my eyes. I have mentioned before here and on my personal blog that, as a writer, it is my job to inspire people. Bring them to tears, make them laugh, give them stories and ideas of their own – however that inspiration may display itself, that is what us writers yearn to do. And for us writers, the most stunning, breathtaking, tearful moments are when our readers take our words and turn them into something new, unique, and beautiful. That someone would glean such creative drive from my work that they would have the urge to spend their time and pour their hearts and souls into their own forms of expression… it’s truly the greatest feeling I’ve ever had.

That is why today, I have decided to share with you a certain song from Bold, one of my favorites, which the amazing and beautiful Nichole White recently recorded. Please listen at your leisure, the lyrics are posted below. Feel free to drop us a comment, and give her a round of applause!

In meadows flowers bloom, my dear,

In meadows flowers bloom.

Of our love they croon, my dear,

As to the Sun and Moon.

 

Your hand I need to hold, my dear,

Your hand I need to hold.

The world has grown so cold, my dear,

Toward lovers young and old.

 

Just a glimpse of you, my dear,

Oh, just a glimpse of you,

That was all it took, my dear,

To fall in love with you.

 

But on that forlorn day, my dear,

That dark and forlorn day,

Your love, it went away, my dear,

Ne’ermore here to stay.

 

My heart you broke in two, my dear,

My heart you broke in two,

Gave all my love to you, my dear,

E’en when it you slew.

 

Wrap your arms ‘round me tight, my dear,

Wrap your arms ‘round me tight,

This wound may mend tonight, my dear,

If you’ll but hold me tight.

 

Bold (c) 2013

Contrast & Compare: Perfection?

Posted: August 7, 2013 by Hannah Stewart in Uncategorized
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A perfect day for writing.

I am currently seated in the window seat of my family’s restaurant, starting in on Chapter 13 of Breaking Shadows: Bold, drinking coffee, and listening to the fabulous thunderstorm outside – my idea of perfection. But this thought of perfection was nagging at my conscience today, as it often does with us writers, and this idea is where my post today springs up.

There is an old saying in the writing world, and I’ve found it to be entirely, spot on accurate over the years. It goes a little something like this: “The best thing about writing is that you get better every day. But, the worst thing about writing is that you get better every day.” In short, your writing will improve, though perhaps not perceptibly, every single day you write. Which means that when you go back to what you wrote a week ago and thought was good, you’ll want to burn it. It’s a very painful and self-depreciating struggle, you see.

Breaking Shadows: Bold is a good example of this phenomena. I have fully revised the story 4 times, beginning to end, and yet every time I’ve looked back at it, it’s been as a thorn in my side. This is very frustrating, because most of the time, you really do love the story. The bones of the plot, the characters, the twists and turns – you love them so very, very much. And yet, you just can’t seem to give them the telling they deserve. This is what lead to my full rewrite this summer, along with a 4 part editing process before it will be completed. While the clutches of disappointment still grasp at me, this is by far my favorite telling yet, and you can only spend so much time in striving after perfection. No story will every be perfect, just as none of us will ever achieve personal perfection on this earth.

But, because I have promised to share every part of my writing process on Bold here, I have chosen to share a handful of snippets from both the old manuscript and the new. The old is quite painful for me to look at now, and the new could always be better, but I trust you all to be somewhat tender with it. Below are some selections, the same passages taken from the old manuscript and the new, for your contrast and comparison.

Old Manuscript:

“Ben! What happened?” I shout as my brother runs madly towards me.

“Keep it down, Jesse! Get a move on!” He barely slows as he speaks, and I jump up from my hiding place to follow. We fly down the alley, and expertly jump the little wall. We run silently, our bare feet hardly making a sound as we navigate the wet ground, following backstreets that we know by heart.

-Chapter 1

I gasp sharply at an especially bad shot of pain, and the man from the alley starts up from his chair by the fire. He turns, and upon seeing me rushes over. Oh boy.

-Chapter 4

I sit at our table, still dazed and numb from yesterday. No one dares venture out into the streets today, and a somber mood seems to cover the landscape.

-Chapter 9

New Manuscript:

The staccato roar of heavy gunfire splits the night around me, and my fingers tense on the metal grip of my pistol, reassuring myself of its solidity. The hard, crumbling surface of the wall I use as cover presses into my back, and I brace myself as the hasty, squishing footsteps round the corner just ahead.

“Ben! What happened?” I shout as my brother runs madly towards me. His quick, confident steps splash up showers of mud, but he still manages to keep quiet. Something about his gait seems off, unbalanced, but he doesn’t give me the chance to ask into it.

“Keep it down, Jesse! Get a move on!” The command is whispered firmly, though his voice is slightly hoarse. He barely slows as he speaks, and I leap up from my hiding place to follow. We fly down the alley and expertly jump the little wall, every step carrying us farther from the compound’s rusted chain link fence looming threateningly above the rundown roofs of worn out townhouses. Our bare feet hardly make a sound as we scamper over the cold, wet ground, following backstreets that we know by heart. Streets we know so well, the uniformed men have taken to calling us ‘shadow hoppers’ for the way we vanish from under their noses. At least, that’s one of the names they’ve given us. But I like it. It has a nice ring to it, and lacks their usual vulgarity.

-Chapter 1

I gasp at an especially bad shock of pain that takes me by surprise, and a man starts up from his seat by the fire in a large, black armchair, which previously hid him from view. He glances my way, then jumps up, racing to my side. I recognize his awkward stride as that of the man in the alley, quickly taking in the rest of him with a critical eye. He’s well built, with strong arms and shoulders, but his gait – while confident and efficient – is strange and jerking, his legs working in a slightly disjointed fashion. His face and neck, however, are where I find myself lingering, examining the outlandish appearance of his skin. Eerie, deep markings crisscross over every inch of exposed skin and vanish beneath his clothing, raised white scars cutting a pattern that resembles an intricate spiders’ web, or the harsh, scaly feel of snakeskin through his flesh. I’ve never seen scars like that. What could have caused them? From the lines of his face, I can see him as possibly having been handsome at one time, but the skin draped over it is too shocking and odd to make it apparent. His eyes are the only articles unscathed, two bright, worried orbs of the most inordinate shade of green – so light that they’re nearly grey, but dark somehow, like the pearly light of the full moon reflecting from a deep, murky pool. He moves with an eagerness not unlike that of a puppy, and I eye him suspiciously.

-Chapter 4

The morning is cold and still, heavy mist veiling the earth with a swirling, milky chill. It rises from the ground, dampening everything in its path before it falls once more to rise anew. I sit at our table, still dazed and numb from yesterday, staring blankly at my hands. We don’t dare venture out into the streets today, nor will our men. Only the officers and rich young blokes from the west side of town ever show up to the executions, and the landscape itself takes on a somber mood. I can almost picture the dewdrops as tears for the lost, burdened souls.

-Chapter 9

With that, dear readers, I must be off to finish Chapter 13. But as always, your comments, questions, feedback, and concerns are highly valuable to me, and I love to hear them in the comments!