South Carolina, Part 2

 On the drive to Edisto, we stopped to visit the Angel Oak tree. It’s 65 feet high, the area of shade it covers is 17,000 square feet, and the largest limb is 89 feet long and over 11 feet around. It’s believed to be 1500+ years old and is named after the original owners of the property, Justin and Martha Angel.




Impressive, no? And now, on to Charleston! This city was – is! – absolutely amazing. We took an hour-long horse-drawn tour and barely scratched the surface of all the culture and history to be had. The family wants to go back and spend a week there sometime  to really explore.




The tea-and-spice shop was pretty amazing.



There are random skulls scattered around Charleston, just so you know. Even in tea shops. P1040250

There was a mystery shop called the Black Fedora with a welcome mat I wanted to buy, but I didn’t think mom would go for. There was also a fudge shop where we were serenaded with songs about fudge (that girl could sing). And also – my personal favorite – a guy on a corner performing a concert with marionettes.






 And then, there were the houses. I’ve never seen such houses.



P1040269 A couple random Charleston photographs…



While eating at an Irish pub, Silas drew on his cup “Silas ♥ Aunty M” and so naturally, my heart melted and I had to take a picture.



 And last, but not least, Botany Bay! (yes, fellow trekkies, it’s a real place. It’s the grounds surrounding a no-longer-existing plantation, and when the tide comes in the place is submerged in water, leaving sea shells hanging in tree branches and other such oddities.)









And there you have it! Is it any surprise I decided to switch the setting of a certain novel of mine?


South Carolina, Part 1


So we drove to Edisto Island, South Carolina, and realized there was nothing to do there. Let alone having a Starbucks, the island didn’t even have a coffee shop to its name. (It did have a bookstore that was a bit of allright, and I did get two books there. The bookstore cat was nicer than the bookstore owner.) So I actually spent a good portion of the trip reading, editing Paper Crowns, trying to save my iPod battery so it would last through the week to the car trip home (which I did. Hah!) and watching Dragons: Riders of Burk with my nephew, Silas. The rest of the time was spent walking on the beach, watching dolphins, and exploring Charleston. Also I slept on the couch so I could read late into the night (and also to avoid sharing a bed with my sister, who happens to cling like a squid to whoever happens to share sleeping quarters with her), and my bones aren’t sure the sacrifice was worth it. The week’s fruits – three books bought, four books read, half a book edited, and a lot of pictures. Enjoy the glimpse!



She might be seventeen, but I can still call her my baby sister.


 This cutie is Silas, my 7-year-old nephew, with a shard of something shiny.P1040142_picnik

 Oh yes, part of our beach time involved throwing beached jellyfish back into the water.P1040146_picnik

 It doesn’t get more gorgeous than this. Does it??P1040156_picnik


Easy, breezy, beautiful.


Possibly my favorite shot from the entire week.


The Real Photographer, my sister Maralie.




Dad asked why I was standing on the beach taking selfies. I told him it was for the blog.  MeBeach1 P1040197_picnik


More to come soon!

South Carolina: Day Three

The last day dawned. Mom was coming this time, so the bathroom was even more cramped than last time. Makeup was hurriedly applied (note: mascara wand + eye = ouch) and showers were taken at record speed. (The first time I showered in that bathroom, I couldn’t figure out how to get the showerhead to switch from a thin stream of powerspray to something more useful. My younger sister showed me the second day. My family is so cool).

Dad talked me into going to see a class by Stephen Kendrick, called “Movie Story Building.”


It was *awesome.* For those of you who don’t know who Stephen Kendrick is, he’s the brain behind Courageous, Fireproof, Facing the Giants, and Flywheel (I don’t like Flywheel so much, but the other three? L♥VE).

This class was not just for people who want to make movies (the closest I get to movie-making is fan trailers for my books). It was for anyone who weaves stories, and it was amazing. I took pages and pages of notes. Many of the things he covered I already knew, but he said some things that really touched me. Everybody really enjoyed the class; in fact, we all voted to have him go overtime – and he did! We got like 15 extra minutes!!

Here are a few highlights from the talk.

“Use earthly realities to tell Heaven’s truth.” Can it get any more poignant? This phrase really touched me and has now become the basis of my writing.

“Let God be the hero of the story.” Now this was a revelation to me. I mean, if you look at Courageous, for example, the guys aren’t the heroes. It’s God, working in everyone’s lives. The same goes for Fireproof and Facing the Giants and Flywheel – it’s God behind everything. I thought this was an amazing way to look at it.

“Save the Cat.” Basically? KEEP YOUR READERS CURIOUS. End chapters/scenes on hooks. Those books that keep you turning pages, or movies you just can’t pause? You want to be that author. You want your readers to hate to put your book down.

“Begin with the end in mind.” The end is more important than the beginning!!

“Does this work?” This is the million-dollar question to ask. The story Stephen illustrated was this – Kirk Cameron,  who plays the main firefighter in Fireproof, is five foot five. Gavin, the guy who played the doctor, is like six foot six. The only scene where they are together is near the end of the movie, where Kirk tells Gavin to stay away from his wife.

“We couldn’t very well have him staring up at Gavin and shaking his fist while going ‘You leave my wife alone, you!” said Stephen. The entire crowd tittered at that image. Their solution? Put Gavin behind a desk! Nobody was the wiser.

“Skip boring parts.” Nobody wants to read chapters of tooth-brushing and homework-doing. Take the Doctor’s wise words – “It’s always a big day tomorrow, I have a time machine. I skip the little ones!” Use this same principle while writing.

“Race and pace.” Don’t be afraid to skip two weeks if nothing happens, but don’t be afraid to have a slower scene if it’s important to the story. My example? Korean dramas. They are masters at slow-FAST-slow-FAST-slow-FAST, and they get you emotionally involved.

And now, for the real adventure. It may seem small, but to me, it was awesome.

I made a new friend.

Her name is Abby, and we were staying at the same hotel. I saw her that morning, walking toward her car as we walked toward ours, and remarked to mom that I thought her outfit was cute. Lo and behold, I sat next to her during Stephen Kendrick’s talk, and we got to chatting. She had Phantom of the Opera pictures all over her notebook and we were both studiously taking notes and I thought “She’s writing, I must speak to her” and we began chatting and found we had quite a bit in common! She’s from Arkansas, so… yes. =)

After that class, we headed to the Malley’s second class on witnessing and being a leader while you’re still young. I doodled “I’m a nerd. Byte me.” on the top of my notebook page. I don’t know why. I also included a doodle of an apple with a bite taken out of it, and several. because I’m a nerd.

The next class, in the same room, was “Why Wait” by Larry Blythe. It was excellent; re-enforcing things I already knew in a humorous, touching way. He illustrated sexual purity with stories like Joseph (“Flee sexuality and get sent to prison!” he said jokingly).

Our last lecture of the day was Voddie Baucham on ‘how to read the Bible,’ because, surprisingly, a lot of people don’t know how. It was very helpful and technical and filled with advice, even if I’ve been raised knowing how to read the Bible. 🙂 After that, it was time to head home. It was fun, really, climbing back in the car, knowing we had a few hours of road stretching ahead of us. We listened to Anna Sophia and Elizabeth Botkin’s CD “When Being Girly is Not Enough,” which I found TOTALLY INSPIRING.

I don’t usually like the Botkins (this is for no real, solid reason, I just don’t) but this CD really struck home. I’m not living for me, I’m living for God, and I’m doing that by serving. Or at least, I SHOULD be. I realized I’d been focusing too much on me and my pursuits rather than the Kingdom; so it was very eye-opening.

(Plus it introduced the new thought that Jael was a perfect hostess and killed Sisera from home. Oh yeah).

We FINALLY found a Starbucks (curse you, Spartanburg! No Starbucks! Shame!! Well, technically they DID have one – in a Barns and Noble. Which was heavenly torture because I could look at all the books and stationary and know I had no means with which to purchase them). I got a mocha from a friendly barista and had just enough time to finish it when we got to Chili’s and had dinner.

Then we went home.


It was dark, the dog was very excited to see us, and it was a marvel to see my own bedroom again. I no longer have to share a bed with my sister! Pardon me while I quote some Sherwood outlaws –

Will: Peace.

Allan: Sleeeeeeepppp!!

I also came home to several letters (I’M SORRY EVERYONE; ART COMMISSIONS AND LETTER REPLIES WILL HAVE TO WAIT FOR NEXT WEEK!) and two packages – a necklace from an Etsy shop that I won, with Tolkien’s quote “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us” printed on it, and a CD FROM KOREAAAA that I’ve listened to probably 20 times in the last week. Not to mention all the times I hear it on my iPod. No, it’s not the ONLY thing I listen to. (Just almost).

So, while nothing STUNNING or EXTRAORDINARY happened to me, the whole thing really did count as an adventure.

And now I’m leaving on ANOTHER adventure tomorrow – the father-daughter retreat in Calloway! I’ve scheduled some posts for the weekend which I hope you enjoy. One LOOONNNNGGG one on conflict and pain, and another shorter tag. Ahem. ^_^

Much love to you all, you fantastic fishes.

Credendo Vides,


P. S. Please help me remember to bring the camera this time. I really do want to share my weekend with you.