Sunday, May 31, 2020

Dandelion Symphony: Poetry Collection Announcement (Featuring an ARC Giveaway!)

I have a new project in the works, which I may have hinted at a couple of times now. No, I’m not talking about that secret fantasy novel, shhhh, but rather a collection of poems called Dandelion Symphony, from my time spent living in Europe. Why a dandelion you might ask? The symbol for military brats is often a dandelion because, like the flower, military brats can “bloom anywhere.” That and I like dandelions.


What’s in a poetry collection?

Poems, of course! Okay, okay, I’ll tell. With some help from my lovely readers, I’ve selected some popular pieces from my blog to include. Many of them are nature themed, but not all. I’ve also commissioned an artist to sketch some minimalistic pieces for each section and will soon be commissioning a cover designer as well. Art is awesome—it goes so well with poetry!

Then there’s end notes, which are totally optional. I’m a very wordy person, so I’ve put them at the back in case anybody wants more background on specific lines or terms, complete with formatting for you digital readers so you can click back and forth with ease.


What’s new?

I like to publish print editions with exclusive content. In addition to the internal art and footnotes, I’m also including some poems I’ve never published before. I’ve been saving some of them for a special occasion, and this collection is it!


When is it being released into the wild?

I don’t have a definitive date yet. I released my last project way too quickly, so I’m planning on taking the necessary time with this one. That means, I’ll be waiting on beta readers, bloggers, my editor, and my artists, then proofreading everything and formatting and formatting again… you get the picture.

It must be perfect!

Let’s say September. I’ll keep you updated when it gets closer to being ready. I’d also like to host a blog tour upon its releases, so that’ll be fun! Until then, enjoy a quick sneak peek:


Internal Sketch by Vera


Thoughts of Place


I find

that the first time

I visit a place, I am

drawn to the way

the red roofs slope,

the snow-capped mountains tower,

the oceans lap at the white shores.

Yet the second time,

I see how

the locals meander the streets,

the salamanders navigate the moss,

the acacia thorns guard the sand.

How did I miss it


Living in a place

is not like visiting—

is not like returning

to where I lived before—

for the image

in my mind

of what was

is no longer

what is.




Before you go, don't forget to check out my ARC giveaway! Please keep in mind that receiving an ARC means I would like an honest review from you. It can be as short or as long as you please. Blogger changed their editing format, so while I try to figure out how to insert code again, check out this link to enter the ARC giveaway.

Let’s chat! What’s the last poetry collection you read? What’s your favorite of my poems?

Similar posts: Poem: Seeking the Song of Time, Origami Swan: Novel Title Change and Cinnamon Rolls (aka Characters), and Last of the Memory Keepers Book Birthday!

Recommended poems: At My Own Pace, Still Life in Spring, and The Christmas Market

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Types of Redemption Arcs

Redemption arcs can be tricky things. After all, what does it mean for a character to be redeemed? According to, redemption is “an act of redeeming or atoning for a fault or mistake” or in the biblical sense, it can be “deliverance from sin”, which is often reached after some sort of payment is made, often in the form a sacrifice. Though not all stories are biblical, most often in fiction, redemption arcs still tend to have some undertone of sacrifice, whether it is by the actions of another character or by self-sacrifice.

This post will focus on the different approaches writers may take when it comes to redemption arcs.

Disclaimer: This post contains spoilers. It’s really hard to talk about character arcs without giving things away. I have done my best to limit spoilers to well-known stories, namely Daredevil; The Lord of the Rings; The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; and Les Misérables.



Destructive Cycle Arc

Perhaps the most frustrating version of a redemption arc is the one that never comes to full fruition. Just when you think a character has turned around, they do something stupid that makes audiences like myself want to claw their eyes out. And I’m not talking about the hero making a mistake or two, I’m talking about said character taking their entire character arc and putting it in the blender. Sure, one could argue it’s also the most realistic because people fail time and time again, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating.

“I’m not seeking penance for what I’ve done, I’m asking forgiveness… for what I’m about to do.” –Matt Murdock, Daredevil

I’m using a Netflix original because try as I might, I couldn’t come up with a character from a book. As one of my friends who’s big into superheroes remarked, there’s a reason Matt doesn’t have many friends. When he says he doesn’t get along well with others, he means it.

He prefers to work alone, but throughout the show he wrestles with bringing about justice without sacrificing his conscience. He even makes the sacrifice play only to survive and end up depressed, so he takes advantage of his friends and pushes them away. I just want to see him and his friends happy, but that might not happen anytime soon, especially not if he keeps being a jerk and sabotaging his friendships.


Self-Sacrifice Arc

This is a popular one when it comes to redemption arcs. So much so that it’s practically cliché at this point. Character X is such a dirtbag that they can’t possibly be likeable until they finally make a decision to reform, and—oh, no! Now they’re dead.

Yes, I understand that this is an incredibly simplified version. Self-sacrifice usually involves deeper motivations than an accidental death, and it’s usually not so trivial. But this kind of arc is so common. That, and the self-sacrifice play doesn’t always turn out the way characters expect it to. Sometimes, it has a habit of turning around and hurting somebody they love instead, which can have some of the opposite effects of the intended sacrifice.

“I would have followed you. My brother. My captain. My king.” –Boromir, The Fellowship of the Ring, film edition 

Boromir just wanted to do what was best for his people, but he went about it in the wrong way because his father had encouraged his greed. He tries to steal the ring from Frodo, then repents after Frodo is gone and sacrifices himself to protect Frodo’s friends, Merry and Pippin.

Only, repercussions still creep up. Once his father learns of Boromir’s death, he takes out his grief on Boromir’s brother Faramir. Frustrating! Yet Pippin ultimately manages to save Faramir, so it can’t be said that the self-sacrifice arc in LotR was for nothing.


Redeemer Arc

Though the self-sacrifice arc can be really well done, perhaps we can agree that there’s something intrinsically satisfying about a character who gets a chance to reform and doesn’t die for it. Of course, if a character was behaving villainous for earlier portions of the story, there will still be repercussions—otherwise, the arc feels cheap and unjustified. That’s when an alternate redeemer comes into play—when one pays the price for somebody else’s actions.

“‘But even a traitor may mend. I have known one that did.’ And he looked very thoughtful.” –Edmund, The Horse and His Boy

Another great example is Edmund Pevensie from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I really wanted to use Eustace from the later books, but I figured more of my readers would be familiar with Edmund. He starts off as a cruel brother, ready to torture his younger sister even after he discovers that she’s not lying about finding another world simply so he can be named a prince and have sweets.

Only when he realizes that he’s been lied to and he has to be rescued does he change his behavior. But his actions still carry consequences, and Aslan willingly offers himself as a sacrifice in place of Edmund as a payment for his betrayal. Only then is Edmund fully redeemed.

All of the Above

You know, putting well-developed characters into a category is difficult. More often than not, if the writers have the time to develop the story, the characters fit into multiple categories. Sometimes a character will blunder about through the self-destructive cycle, then spend some time in the successful arc, then ultimately make the sacrifice play.

“I am reaching, but I fall, and the night is closing in, as I stare into the void, into the whirlpool of my sin. I’ll escape now from the world, from the world of Jean Valjean. Jean Valjean is nothing now! Another story must begin!” –Jean Valjean, Les Misérables, film edition

Les Mis certainly has plenty of time to develop each character. Over the course of the book, Jean Valjean goes from a petty thief to a convict on parole to a successful mayor to a loving father, not that he ever really stopped being an ex-con. All the same, he initially comes to the realization that his actions as a thief are wrong, not just that the world has wronged him after he steals from a bishop who turns around and offers him mercy by saying he gave to Valjean what had been stolen.

Then Valjean decides to live as a mostly-honest citizen by taking on a new identity and doing his best to help people make an honest living. Though it doesn’t always work out, and his redemption is conditional only as long as he doesn’t make other people suffer for his mistakes. Long after he adopts Cosette, he ultimately sacrifices himself to protect her boyfriend Marius and to protect her reputation by disappearing should his identity as an ex-con ever come to light.


Other great stories with various redemption arcs:

  • Avatar: The Last Airbender (Not a book, I know, but Zuko’s redemption arc is perfect, and there are some spin off graphic novels I’d like to read.)
  • The Black Cauldron (The Chronicles of Prydain, book 2) by Lloyd Alexander
  • The Boy Who Steals Houses by C. G. Drews
  • Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
  • The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (The Chronicles of Narnia, book 5) by C. S. Lewis


So there you have it—my take on the various types of redemption arcs. I’m sure audiences may differ on their preferences, but I’m partial to the last two types.


Let’s chat! What are some of your favorite redemption arcs? Any of your favorite characters fall into the types listed above?


Similar posts: Let’s Agree to Disagree: Reader vs. Author Opinion, 7 Settings as Vivid as Characters, and Character Types: Christ Figures

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Poem: Passing Shadows

My family and I were reading the Bible the other day, and a particular verse stood out to me: “Man is like a mere breath; His days are like a passing shadow.” (Psalms 144:4) What a beautiful simile. While the following poem isn’t religious, per se, I did picture the Camino as I wrote it.

Passing Shadows

Our days are but a passing shadow,
and yet I find myself
living this moment like never before—
I like to taste each sunrise
as though I’d never seen light,
I climb this new path
as though my heart has never pounded
to the rhythm of my footsteps.

When my shadow shrinks,
and I come to alight on a bunk
like a bird in its nest,
stretching my legs,
ready to hunt down my next meal,
as though I’ve never tasted
the savory drops of soup before—
and maybe I haven’t
had this variety, but I’d like it again.

The final hours stretch out
the darkness yet again,
the light I stopped from reaching
the ground
simply by standing here
amid the humid air,
chasing butterflies with my camera
as though I’ll never see one again,
listening as the stars come out one by one
as though they all still shine.


Let’s chat! What did you think of the poem? What are some activities you enjoy? What’s your take on mortality?

Similar poems: At My Own Pace, Shadows, and Bury Me