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“You enter the extraordinary by way of the ordinary.” ~Frederick Buechner

Friday, December 30, 2011


When you’re really rushed for time, do you find yourself toe-tapping when someone gives you a long explanation? What is the point, you wonder. Racing from here to there doesn’t allow for leisurely conversation and even less for stories or riddles.

Yet, what if the meandering is really an invitation to a mystery that can enrich your day, or your heart, or your soul beyond your imagination?

In The Land of Darkness, by C.S. Lakin, Callen and Jadiel are running out of time. With each new clue or riddle they unravel to bring them closer to their goal comes an even more mysterious saying and confusion. Callen’s impatience grows—he wants a direct answer now. But a life-changing mystery, like a parable, needs time to uncover and even more time to discover the meaning.

“Callen’s head swam with images: the king-priest buried under the terebinth, with its boughs in the heavens. The tree cut down, but sprouting again. A king returning, blowing breath into dry bones. But not the king-priest of Antolae—a different king. The boar’s words swam dizzily in his head. ….. How were all theses stories tied together? And the one image that wouldn’t come was the one he yearned for most—the bridge.”

At the end of the encounter all they have is another city to travel to with even more questions that need asking.

Journal Prompt:

1. Even if you do not have a mystery in your novel choose a situation to become a mini-mystery parable with long reaching significance.

2. Pick a scene where your character is pressed for time. Make a list of possible obstacles, such as a flat tire. Have a good ‘helper’ come alongside to assist, but keeps making the situation worse.

3. Then, when your character finally reaches his goal, he realizes that the interference saved him in some way—maybe from a huge embarrassment. How does that change his perspective on his frustration?

Friday, December 23, 2011


Memories are like emotional mirrors, reflecting back the image that connects us. The strongest ones often come through our senses. Is anyone baking Christmas cookies this week finding a more than average visitor trek to the kitchen? The memories can show up in unexpected places or be ones we hold tightly, so as not to forget a place or a special person. Traditional hymns are not heard as often recently and it is a special treat for me to hear “The Old Rugged Cross” sung which was my Grandmother’s favorite, and brings her immediately present to me.

When times of chaos, or tragedy, or stress strike, these images can become lifelines as well when they hold goodness and love.

In The Land of Darkness, by C.S. Lakin, Jadiel holds onto her mother’s memory to give her strength to cope first with her stepmother’s cruelty and then to face a harsh quest to save her father. She reaches for her flute and the songs her mother taught her. When her soul bows under the strain the remembrance restores her. It reaches across emotional time. And also across physical distance as her father, now trapped in a hawk’s body, crisscrosses the sky searching for her.

“He singled out the breathy melody, a thin strain wafting his way—from the south. ….The farther south he glided, the more sonorous the music. Now he was certain he heard a flute, its crystal-clear notes stringing into a tune that resonated deep within his soul. A tune his wife M’lynn had sung many nights in the drawing room, beside the fireplace.”

What special images from your past give you hope?

Journal Prompt:

1. Pick a song that is familiar to you from your childhood. Hum the melody. What memories does it raise?

2. Now choose an instrument that is familiar in your story world and give your character your emotions. Does it give him strength or sorrow?

Friday, December 16, 2011


Usually maps are meant to be helpful. Sometimes we resist thinking they’re necessary, but still appreciate the assistance when we’re ready. We search them out when planning a trip, or when we get lost, either literally on the road or emotionally needing counsel. Roadmaps give clarity.

Occasionally we have experienced asking directions and becoming even more confused due to a rapid fire answer or an explanation so complicated we can’t track; however, how often have we ever had someone deliberately falsify the right path, or threaten bodily harm if we continue?

In The Land of Darkness, by C.S. Lakin, Callen’s only map for his quest to find the bridge is verbal prompts that are more confusing than logical. He is seeking a bridge from the past that is also to be his future and they’re both in the same place, although nowhere to be found. Yet despite all the barriers he finally arrives at the edge of possibility in a small town almost as forsaken as his search. Rumble. He and Jadiel are received with kindness until Callen states his destination and the room becomes hushed.

“The barkeep stopped pouring ale and glared at Callen. ‘Surely you’re not taking a child into the Valley Perilous? Man, have you lost your beans?’

Jadiel turned her head and caught the wide-eyed expressions on the faces around her—disapproving, incredulous glares that made her shiver. ……….

‘Here in Rumble, anyone venturing onto the plain is our business’. …… The man set down a tall glass of ale before Callen. His voice softened, but his eyes remained full of judgment. ‘Because the foolish likes of you go stirring up the dead, making the ground shake and the animals spook.’”

One man spits at Callen as they leave town and he worries his search will put Jadiel in more danger. However, he must continue to follow this map, this journey, to find an answer.

Journal Prompt:

Put your character in a situation where he knows he is within a few block radius of his destination, but is missing the last few directions. Whoever he asks for directions either ignores him or becomes angry. How does he react? And what does he do to cope?

Friday, December 9, 2011


We’ve looked at how one metaphor can open up a multitude of possibilities. What can happen when it also opens up a stream of new metaphors, and they’re all tangled together like knot ends on the back of a tapestry? How willing are we to follow the various threads?

The Land of Darkness, by C.S. Lakin, immediately pulls you into a multi-layered richly textured world that you don’t want to leave. Myth and parable, scripture, imagery and mystery blend into a fresh fairy tale. It breathes mythic impact with inviting metaphors, maps, memory and mysteries.

Callen, a woodworking apprentice, sets on a quest to discover a bridge. He wants to see up close the beauty of its designs that he has found in sketches on parchment scrolls. He is practical and hard working and has no time or patience for riddles or abstract references. Yet his search plunges him into myth, into the extraordinary that could change his life if he is willing to see beyond the surface, in both thought and action.

“Speaking in stories and riddles. Talking about circles in circles. And just who was that landowner he’d mentioned, the one who had built the bridge? Callen gritted his teeth. Why wouldn’t that pest tell him how to find the bridge and who the builder was? ‘You’re not ready to hear those answers.’ What nonsense!”

Callen could attempt to dismiss what he perceived as a deranged or sun-stroked prophet, but he couldn’t dismiss the deepening yearning to find the bridge. Threads of connections, warnings, faith, beauty and art wove layers of metaphor into his heart. And drove him to find the answer regardless of the cost.

Journal Prompt:

What ‘bridge’ does your character need to cross, either as a decision or a life-altering truth? Choose a familiar item from her everyday experience to become a springboard metaphor. Then with each new insight add another metaphor.

Friday, December 2, 2011


Thresholds as Connectors

Do we open the locked door at the end of the spider-coated hallway? Are we ready to hear the words written in the old manuscripts found buried under the house?

When Eve saw that the tree God had forbidden, “was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave it also to her husband with her, and he ate.”

Pandora couldn’t contain her curiosity and opened the box. “Out flew every kind of disease and sickness, hate and envy, and all the bad things that people had never experienced before. Pandora slammed the lid closed, but it was too late.”

Both these women were well warned before they succumbed to temptation, but what about the times there are no clear directions. We have good reason to hesitate before the unknown. When do we need courage to resist a threshold, because the consequences are beyond our control and could bring great suffering, or risk stepping into the unknown to bring light into darkness?

If Lucy had not opened the door at the back of the wardrobe and discovered Narnia, she and her siblings would not have been instrumental in breaking the White Witch’s spell. By willingly entering the Beast’s palace, Belle breaks the curse. Hercule Poirot follows every lead possible until he can bring a culprit to justice.

Often the clues needed to solve a mystery, bring about justice and bring the truth out begin with ordinary things and familiar words. The investigator needs the insight to see them in the right light and respect warnings when given.

“..stop and look around and step forward with courage and cognizance across otherwise invisible Thresholds into Discovery.” Tim Wynne-Jones

Journal Prompt:

Look at the literal thresholds in your character’s daily world and choose one to explore as a figurative threshold. Think of ways they could become a life-changing threshold for your character: doors, windows, cupboards, gardens, railroads, or books.

"The Seeker" Rachel Marks | Content Copyright Marcy Weydemuller | Site by Eagle Designs
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