Youth, Homeschooling, the Past and the Future

Romeike

He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future.

Do you know who said this? Keep reading and I’ll tell you.

A few days ago I made a post titled Support the Romeikes. The Romeike’s are a German family who came to the states to escape persecution in their homeland. Several of you clicked through to the petition started on their behalf. Thank you. Today HSLDA (Homeschool Legal Defense Association) published a video about the Romeikes. I’m embedding it here if you want to watch it.

As soon as Mr. Romeike said, “The government wants the right to impose what they think children should learn.” I knew I’d heard that sentiment before. You read it in the quote posted above. Those words were spoken by a government leader in Germany. Have you guessed who? It was Adolf Hitler.

That’s right. A lot of people don’t know that governmental control of the German youth was a huge part of Hitler’s devastating plan for the Third Reich. And now the German people are fighting this war again. What’s even scarier is that we here in the United States need to fight it too because our government wants the same power. And Hitler was right, whoever controls the education of the children controls the future of the country.

To quote Hitler again:

How fortunate for governments that the people they administer don’t think.

We need to think. English statesman Edmund Burke once said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” He also stated that, “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.” He was right. On both counts.

Whether or not you support homeschooling, it’s important to recognize that absolute control over education should not be handed over to any government. It led to disaster in Germany and it can easily do the same again. Except this time it could be the downfall of our “bastion of freedom,” the US. Let’s not make the same mistake made by so many people before and during WWII. The mistake of silence. To close, consider this quote from another English statesman, William Wilberforce.

You may chose to look the other way but you can never again say that you did not know.

Book Review: Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends

Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends

Some brothers and sisters remain best friends all their lives. Others just see each other occasionally at family reunions and maybe send a Christmas card. Which do you want?

Brothers and sisters get on each others nerves and can be just plain annoying. It seems an inevitable part of having siblings. But guess what? It doesn’t have to be that way. What if brothers and sisters could not just get along but be best friends. This book casts a vision for making brothers and sisters best friends and provides practical and Biblical guidelines for doing just that.

My family often receives comments on how well my brother and I get along. Since we are in our mid and late teen years, we find that amusing. At this age we should be able to get along. The sad things is, kids aren’t expected to get along anymore. My brother and I have been best friends for as long as I can remember (sure, we’ve had our spats, but they never lasted long), but this book made me more purposeful about trying to strengthen our friendship. Since strangers often notice how well we like each other, it seems like it has worked. The principles in this book can be applied to a lot of things besides sibling relationships too. There’s also plenty of humor to keep you going. Everyone I’ve met who has read this book mentions how much they like “Stephen’s Definitions.” I’ll leave you with a few examples.
Key Ring: A device that enables you to lose several keys at the same time.
Clear Conscience: Often the sign of a bad memory.
Campers: Natures way of feeding mosquitoes.”
I can attest to that last one!

Authors: Sarah, Stephen and Grace Mally
Audience: Everyone
Genre: Christian Non-Fiction/Self-Help
Pages: 273
Publisher: Tomorrow’s Forefathers

Read More Book Reviews

Last call for entries in the Through Gates of Splendor giveaway. I’ll be announcing the winner tomorrow.

Author Interview: Aubrey Hansen

Girl SilhoutteToday Aubrey Hansen is joining us to answer a few questions. Just to let you know, the girl in this picture is not Aubrey. It’s a stand-in picture so you have someone to look at. 😉 Enjoy the interview.

What gave you the idea for “Peter’s Angel”
Once upon a time, Peter’s Angel was actually my attempt to salvage a LEGO fanfic I’d written years ago. It was one of my earliest works, but I thought the plot and characters had potential, so I wanted to “recycle” them into something original I could publish. It took many drafts and revisions to get the story into the shape it is now, but, believe it or not, that’s how it started! As for where I got the idea for the original fanfic, I have absolutely no idea. (Interesting tidbit–the original fanfic was actually futuristic sci-fi.)

What is the most interesting fact or story you discovered while researching for this book?
Oh, that’s a tough question. I’m fascinated by the era as a whole, and there’s so much to discover in history. Recently however I have begun delving more into the life of Aaron Burr, and I’m utterly intrigued by the drama and excitement of his enigmatic adventures. It almost makes me sad that my “altering” of history in Peter’s Angel involved killing Burr off!

Do you have a favorite character from “Peter’s Angel”?
I love them all except Peter. And sometimes Mariah gets on my nerves. But to be more specific, Edwin has long been my cherished favorite, until just recently when I started favoring Mark. Don’t tell Edwin that–he’s been through enough heartache and doesn’t need to add rejection by his author to his list of woes!

What are some of the challenges and rewards of self-publishing?
Self-publishing is driven by instant gratification and control. Unlike traditional publishing, where an author is dependent on and answers to a publisher, self-publishing is completely within the hands of the author. The only person you’re depending on or waiting for is yourself. If you’re willing to take control and push yourself, nothing stands between you and a self-published book. By the same token, then, self-publishing puts all the weight of creating a quality product on the author. Cover design, editing, formatting, and so on are all your responsibility. You can’t just focus on the writing; you have to think like a publisher, marketer, and more. It can be very time-consuming, and I’m still learning how to manage it all.

What message would you like readers to take away from this book?
I have no earthly clue. To be honest, I don’t know all the themes and messages that Peter’s Angel may present. My goal with writing this book was not to present a message but to explore my own thoughts. Some reviewers have noted that the narrative of the book is littered with characters asking questions; that’s me talking, asking questions, expressing doubts, and giving no answers. Peter’s Angel was a personal journey in which I explored themes that were pressing on my heart–criminal justice, suicide, romance, and others. I don’t know all the answers; as such, it’s up to the reader to decide for themselves what they believe.

There is one message, however, that I hope will shine through when the tale is done: “There is no restraint to the LORD to save by many or by few.” (1 Samuel 14:6)

Is there anything else you would like to share with readers?
Writers always harp about how much we appreciate reviews of our books, but there’s one element people often overlook when writing (and requesting) reviews–detail! A good review of a book is detailed and specific. Don’t just tell us that you loved it (or hated it); tell us why! I say this not only as a writer, but also as a reader. As a writer, I need to know what people liked or disliked about my books so I can build on my strengths and learn from my mistakes. As a reader, I want to know what to expect. Why is this book worth my time? Tell me why and sell me on it!

If you have any questions or comments for Aubrey, leave her a comment!

Author Interview: Hannah Mills

Hannah MillsHi everyone! Sorry to be a bit late with today’s post. I had a lot of school to do and didn’t turn on the computer because I didn’t want to get distracted. Anyway, here’s an interview with author Hannah Mills, who also happens to be a good friend of mine. Enjoy!

What gave you the idea for Plague of Darkness?
The idea came from the character of Teague. I liked him so much that before I was even halfway through “Called”, I decided that I simply had to explore Teague’s backstory and give him his own book.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Honestly, I think the most difficult part about the writing of this book was keeping it consistent with what he shared of his past in Called. If you can avoid writing books out-of-order, do! It’s a lot harder than one would realize.

What is one personal lesson you learned from writing this book?
Strength of will. I’ve always been a stubborn person, but Teague has a stronger will than I do, and helped me realize how strong and resilient one can be under incredible pressures.

What have been the pros and cons of self-publishing?
The biggest pro has been getting to do my own cover designs. The cons are that right now, I don’t have the know-how or time to really market my books.

Are you working on any new books?
Yes! I am currently working on Hosanna House, a contemporary novel. It’s going through a lot of editing after placing 2nd in a novel contest. I’m really excited about it, and can’t wait to share it with the world.

Is there anything else you would like to share with readers?
Readers, have high standards. Don’t settle for poor writing. Some amazing books are out there, and well worth your time. Writers, keep reading– and read high quality fiction and non-fiction. If you are not a good reader, chances are you won’t be a good writer. And also, be patient with yourself. It’s neat to look back at my old writings and see how much I’ve improved. It just takes time, practice, and a willingness to learn.

Thanks for the interview Hannah!

New Parent Guide!

LighthouseThis has certainly been a busy week on this blog! As a grand finale, I spent a couple hours tonight making a new parent guide and making the guides available as FREE downloadable PDF files. The new guide is for Speculative Fiction Series. For those of you who don’t know, speculative fiction encompasses fantasy, sci-fi, dystopian and other “weird” fiction. Most (if not all) of the series included in the guide are fantasy, but that may change at some point. If you are interested in the downloadable PDF files, you can find those on the main Parent Guides page. Hope this is helpful to you.

Author Interview: Molly Evangeline

Molly EvangelineLast Friday I reviewed The Pirate Daughter’s Promise. If you haven’t already done so, go comment on that post for your chance to win a free copy of the book. Today, author Molly Evangeline is here for an interview. Please join me in welcoming her.

What gave you the idea for The Pirate Daughter’s Promise?
All I used to write were horse stories until I saw The Fellowship of the Ring as a teenager. That was the first step that started me in the direction of writing action/adventure type stories. A year later, I saw the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie for my fifteenth birthday and fell in love with the idea of pirates and sailing. The plot for The Pirate Daughter’s Promise developed shortly after that.

How long did it take for you to write this book?
I wrote the first three or four chapters as the story was developing, but hit a snag and set it aside for about three years. My love for pirate stories resurfaced again with the second Pirates of the Caribbean movie so I pulled the story back out. Once I got into it, I wrote the remaining chapters in about two and a half weeks.

Tell us about your self-publishing experience. What has been the best and hardest thing about self-publishing?
It took a long time to really settle into self/indie publishing. When I first chose to self-publish The Pirate Daughter’s Promise it was because I had no idea how to get into traditional publishing and I was impatient. Now it’s a decided choice, and I don’t think I’d ever choose traditional publishing even if it was offered to me. The best thing about it is the control and the potential to actually make a living off it. I am a very do-it-yourself type of person. I typically spend over a year actually writing a book, and when I put that much effort into something, I want to see it to the end so I know I’ll be 100% happy with it. And the fact is, if you’re trying to do this as your job, indie publishing is much more profitable than traditional publishing, but it all depends on your ability to market and sell books. That’s where the hardest part comes in. Marketing is something you have to work very hard at, especially if it’s not something you’re good at. It takes a lot of time and effort that you would much rather spend on the actual writing process. But, if you’re doing what you love, it’s all worth it in the end.

What person has influenced your writing the most?
Definitely my mom. She is a writer too, and if she had not been writing while I was young, I may never have tried it myself. It was also her decision to homeschool me that played a huge part in where I am now. All that extra time I had to devote to writing, and imagining, and improving my skills was invaluable. A homeschool lifestyle also gave me the DIY attitude I needed to pursue self-publishing and setting up my own indie publishing company. I also have to point to J.R.R. Tolkien as the second most influential person in my writing. Discovering The Lord of the Rings when I was thirteen was a turning point for me. That’s the first time I realized writing was what I wanted to do with my life, and his stories still have a huge effect on what I like to write today.

Are you working on any new stories?
I am right in the middle of writing a new young adult fantasy series called Ilyon Chronicles. It’s the biggest project I’ve ever undertaken. It will be six books (unless something drastic happens along the way and a seventh book pops up). I started the first book, which turned out to be the longest book I’ve ever written, in June 2011, and I am now just about finished with book two. It’s set in a medieval/ancient Rome type setting with a tyrannical government and dealing with some issues we have now in modern society, so it’s full of action/adventure as well as many spiritual, emotional, and physical struggles. I’ve never been so close to or related so much to my characters as I have this group. I’m only a third of the way through the series and I’ve already laughed and cried and experienced incredible highs and lows with them.

Is there anything else you would like to share with readers?
I am beyond excited to share Ilyon Chronicles. I have a ton of work to do before that can happen, but every day I’m working hard to get there. There’s something special about this story. The things God has been showing me and the way He’s guiding me through all the little details is amazing. This story is so far above anything I’ve ever done before, and I can hardly wait to see what readers think and what God does with it. I’ve already set up a website for it, http://www.ilyonchronicles.com, and have an active Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/ilyonchronicles. I try to keep it updated often with where I am in writing the series, and occasionally post little snippets of the story.

Thanks for the interview, Molly! Readers, do you have thoughts or questions about anything Molly said?

Starting The New Year

book spinesHello everyone! I just want to update you on the schedule for this month. Last month I focused my book reviews on Christmas stories. This month I’m going to be reviewing books written by homeschooled authors. Four young ladies will be joining me here to talk about their books. Even better, two of them have agreed to offer a free copy of their book for a giveaway. Here’s the list.

Week One: Molly Evangeline, author of The Pirate Daughter’s Promise
(with book giveaway)
Week Two: J. Grace Pennington, author of Never
Week Three: Hannah Mills, author of Called and Plague of Darkness
(I haven’t decided which one to review)
Week Four: Aubrey Hansen, author of Peter’s Angel
(with book giveaway)

I am really excited about this lineup. I hope you’ll join me in enjoying these girl’s books. We’ll kick off with a review giveaway of The Pirate Daughter’s Promise tomorrow.