Geeking Out Over Noblebright

Last night I discovered the term “noblebright.” I’m still geeking out about it. *happy squeak* 😀

It describes so much of what I write, and the tone of almost all my favorite stories.  Finding this term is like finding a word to describe a mood I have seen and loved all my life, but not had a way to describe.  It makes me so happy.

The term “noblebright” was created as a reaction to the negative term “grimdark,” which generally describes a setting that is dystopian, amoral, pessimistic, and/or violent – think Game of Thrones, or possibly Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy.  (The last few books of Harry Potter might also be described as “grimdark” in tone, although overall I don’t believe the series could be called grimdark.)

This Wiki page describes the differences between grimdark and noblebright:

In a grim world, no matter what you do, an individual can’t secure more than an individual victory, if even that, because the rest of the world is too big/scared/powerless/selfish to act upon his impulse. A noble world is one where the action of a single hero can change the world, and a single big villain can f*** it all up : there are important people, who are so either by birth, rank or sheer willpower, and every single one of these people matter.
Now, a bright world is one full of opportunity, of wondrous sights to behold. It doesn’t mean that it has to be [My Little Pony], it can be dangerous, but your first instinct when looking at a new location should be awe and wonder: people may adventure to save the world, but they leave town with a smile upon their face, eager to see what comes next. The shadow of Risk is largely erased by the glint of Adventure. … A dark world is one where life sucks, and usually not long: whether it be because of demon overlords… or even the lack of water, everyone in this story may die, and they die for good.”

Art by Jane-Aspen

(There are also hybrids like nobledark – heroic heroes fighting evil in a very dark world – and grimbright – which I guess would be the ability to secure only individual victories in a world of wonder and adventure?…weird combo.  But I’m just sticking to the two main terms here.)

There is a basic worldview difference between these kinds of stories.

There are the stories where there is no hope, no meaning, and no lasting joy to human existence, where everything is sad and pessimistic – versus the stories where lives are meaningful because every individual makes a difference, good triumphs against evil in both small and great ways, there is beauty in the world, and there is real hope of victory.

Which of these is truer to my own worldview as a Christian?  The answer is obvious.

Art by Sandara

Now.  I believe there is truth to grimdark stories as well.  The world is fallen, cruel, full of atrocities and sometimes unspeakable evils.  Sometimes we need to look that in the face.  Sometimes we need grimdark stories.  They show us truth about this passing life.  We need to confront not just the evil in the world but the evil in ourselves.  We do live in a universe where “good people” do bad things, where every person has a dark side (except Christ).

But that’s not where my worldview ends.  When I look at the universe I see a noblebright place. I see true beauty.  I see right and wrong.  I see God working through even the worst circumstances to bring about ultimate glory for Himself and joy for His people.

So it makes sense that all the books and movies I love best fall under the “noblebright” category in some fashion.

Art from a video game: Lord of the Rings Conquest

Noblebright stories include: The Lord of the Rings [edit: one could argue this one is more nobledark], The Chronicles of Narnia, Firefly, some Marvel movies, and most 0f Star Trek.  There may be horrible villains, and dark parts of the tales, but a sense of wonder, morality, and nobility courses through these stories.  Beauty is real.  Life might be full of despair and destruction but that is not the end of the story.  The heroes might be flawed, but they are ultimately fighting for the good, and good will ultimately win.

I never knew there was a word for it.  I knew it was there.  I knew this undercurrent of hope, light, and beauty ran through all the stories I love the most.  It was part of my goals as an author to create worlds like this, running deep with joy, beauty, and love.  But I didn’t know it had a name.  And now I do!

I love noblebright.

Noblebright stories forever!!! 😀

Do you like stories that are darker or lighter in tone?  Which kind of truth impacts you more?  What are some awesome examples of noblebright stories you’ve seen or read (because I want to know more!!)?

Art by Sandara

Simmer Starters – August 5, 2016

I’m currently recovering from VBS, which was back-to-back with my trip to Philly for Realm Makers!  I will blog about RM next week, Lord willing, and I have plans to shift to a new style of Simmer Starters…one where I add more of my own personal thoughts on the links I choose to share.  Please comment and let me know if that’s something that would interest you more! :)

For now, I’m simply sharing the links I’ve gathered recently, as always.  Do check these out, because they are all wonderful!

Storytelling with Faith and Free Will (R.J. Anderson and Stephen McCranie) – I enjoyed this dialogue about faith and storytelling. There’s a lot of good stuff to glean here.

5 Reasons Writing Is Important to the World (K.M. Weiland) – “Let’s face it, people, the world’s a mess right now. I think the vast majority of us agree on that, to one degree or another, regardless our worldview. And what are we doing about it? What can we do about it?… We’re just folks who put words on paper. We’re just people spinning little tales that make us happy or fulfill our own fantasies: romance and superheroes, dragons and femme fatales. We’re just writers. That doesn’t seem like much right now. It certainly doesn’t seem like enough.”

Harry Potter, Jesus, and Me (Andrew Peterson) – ALL OF THIS. “I couldn’t get Harry’s story out of my head. I doubled over in the back of the auditorium and sobbed with gratitude to Jesus for allowing his body to be ruined, for facing the enemy alone, for laying down his life for his friends–Jesus, my friend, brother, hero, and king–Jesus, the Lord of Life, who triumphed o’er the grave–who lives that death may die! Even now, writing those words, my heart catches in my throat. In that moment I was able, because of these books, to worship Christ in a way I never had.”

Why Christians Should Paint, Dance, Quilt, Act, Compose Music, Write Stories, Decorate Cookies, and Participate in the Arts (Mark Altrogge) – I LOVE this post so much. And the title of it reminds me of that quote from Joss Whedon: “Write it. Shoot it. Publish it. Crochet it, sauté it, whatever. MAKE.”

Realm Makers 2016, Here I Come!!

Things will be pretty quiet on the blog this week because….I’m flying out to Philadelphia for REALM MAKERS!!!

I have been dying to go to RM ever since it existed, so I am over the top excited. 😀 😀  I’m meeting a lot of friends who I’ve known online for awhile, rooming with some of my best friends and meeting them in person for the first time, getting to learn from experienced authors and professionals in the industry, and getting to have a ton of geeky fun with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who enjoy speculative fiction as much as I do.  It is going to be a BLAST.

So I’m packing my cosplay stuff for the costume banquet… (Here’s me so excited about my costume jacket and arm braces when they came in the mail.  Can you guess who I’m going to be?)

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…and my Nerf “arsenal” – which consists of one gun and some darts.  Girly ones, because I can.  When I’m going out shooting I might as well do it with feminine style! 😀

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And in addition to the geeky fun stuff, I’m organizing a sample packet of three chapters, plot summary, and a one-sheet for my current work in progress.  I won’t be pitching this year, contrary to what I originally thought (due to setting aside my dearest WIP and starting a new one in June), but it’s always good to have your materials on hand in case somebody…*gulp*…asks about it!

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And between all the packing and prepping before I fly out tomorrow, I’m trying to give my kids lots of extra hugs and loves because I’ve never travelled without at least one baby since I became a mom!  I know my husband will hold down the fort fantastically and probably better than I do on a given day, 😉 but I will miss him and these four little snugglers! <3

So I may not be putting out a Simmer Starters this Friday, but I will definitely be posting to all the social media with the hashtag #RealmMakers2016, because it is going to be awesome. 😀

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Are you going to Realm Makers??? Will I see you there?  If not, maybe next year? 😀

Sunshine Blogger Challenge – 11 Questions Answered!

I was tagged for this fun challenge by Gracie Mae DeLunac!  The idea is that you answer the 11 questions the previous blogger asked, and then “tag” 11 other bloggers and write them eleven new questions to answer.

I know not everyone enjoys (or likes to pass along) these challenges, so I won’t tag anybody specific here. But if you take a fancy to my questions at the end, consider yourself tagged! 😀 Answer the questions on your blog, then link back here in the comments so I can see your answers. :)

Here are Gracie’s questions, answered by me!

1. What is your favorite movie/tv show quote? What is it from? Why is it your favorite?

That’s a tough question!!  There are so many good movie quotes.  I think these few tie for my favorite…

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I love this quote from the captain deeply, because it reminds me of a much deeper and more beautiful truth: “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” – Jesus, Matthew 25:40

And my second favorite:

Every human soul has significance.  None of us are unimportant.

And my other favorite:

This one I love because it reminds us that what goes on inside our heads is immensely powerful.  It shapes us!  (This is especially true for writers.  And for reading.)  Just because something is imaginary doesn’t mean it won’t impact us in a real way, perhaps for the rest of our lives.

2. What do you like to think about most when plotting (characters, plotline, plot twists, villainous acts, etc.)?

I think about characters, plot twists, and intense moments the most.  The parts I’m most looking forward to writing, and the characters’ motivations, and what drives them toward each point of the story.

3. What is your preference of “apocalyptic” groups: zombies, aliens, or mutants?

Mutants all the way!!…if we’re talking X-men type mutants, that is.

4.  What kind of food do you eat to feel decent enough to write?

I’m a little confused by this question, as I don’t really consider food a part of my writing prep at all, and I usually feel decent enough to write as long as I’m not having a bad day or something.  For writing snacks, that totally depends on the day. Sometimes I just want a glass of water. Sometimes I want a big plate of healthy snacks like string cheese, applesauce, wheat crackers, carrots and hummus.  Sometimes I want a mug brownie with a dollop of ice cream. 😀  And no, the brownie and ice cream probably don’t help me feel decent, but my mouth is fond of it…… 😉

5. Do you bring your own personal views (especially political and religious) into your tales?

I think it’s impossible not to do this!  What we write flows out of our hearts; no matter how hard we try, our beliefs will show up in our writing in some way.  Some of my stories portray my faith more overtly, with openly Christian characters and religious themes.  In others, it shows up more quietly and symbolically.  My current WIP probably has the least religious content of any I’ve written…I’ve been kind of surprised at that!

6. Would you say you “commune” better with nature when gardening [hands on], lounging outside [kinda near], or viewing it from inside your place [far away]?

Can I say moving outside? 😀 I’m weird about nature.  I am more of an indoors person.  And definitely not hands on so much!  But I don’t find outside a very relaxing place to be.  I consider it an active place to be, for the most part – I’d much rather be walking, hiking, dancing, biking, etc. than lounging!  I think I subconsciously feel like if I stay still too long, the bugs will get on me more easily… Hahahaha.

7. What is the strangest/rudest thing you have ever heard your written characters say?

Well, my villain in my current WIP used a swear word in the latest chapter…..this is totally a first for me and I’m not sure what I think of this. O.o  I’ve never had a character who swore before! But this is definitely what he would say….so it fits him as a character 100%.  I haven’t decided yet whether to censor him. 😉

8. Paper or plastic or re-usable?

I love my re-usable bags, made by the owner of this Etsy store, Jiggety Pig! If I don’t have those with me, I prefer plastic, because…….well, to be honest, they make good sacks to tie stinky diapers in when you’re on the go. 😉  And I’m never sure what to do with a paper bag after I’m done with it. Throw it away?? They’re so sturdy and “nice” compared to plastic bags that it feels like a waste to just toss it!

Some of Jiggety Pig’s bags, because I know the maker, and the bags are awesome:

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9. What movie/book/show would you say has made the most impression on you? When? Why/how?

There are so many…  I’m going to go with my gut on this one and say Lord of the Rings. *happy sigh*  I was obsessed with LotR throughout most of my teens.  I lived and breathed Middle-Earth everything.  And while I was a little bit unbalanced in my obsessions at the time, 😉 I still deeply love Tolkien’s world, because there is so much love, beauty, and truth in it.  The beauty of sacrifice, the love of friendship and loyalty, and the truth of light versus darkness and nobility and courage in the face of certain death.

10. What is your favorite color?

Now that’s an easy question.  Purple!!!

As a teen I painted my side of my bedroom in my favorite shade of lavender.  I miss having that beautiful purple writing corner… Someday, someday, I hope to have a purple writing nook again. 😀

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11. If you were able to publish one of your tales and go somewhere to showcase it (author tour, opening night for the movie, etc.), where would you go?  Why?

I confess I haven’t thought about this much!  I have considered a bunch of plans for future release parties for my main story-love, The Kraesinia Trilogy…foods I would serve, excerpts to read, costumes to potentially make, gifts I’d give away.  It really depends on the book, I suppose!  Going off my current WIP, Disillusioning, it would be awesome to do a semi-local author tour in some nearby states…sign books in Barnes & Noble and meet readers face-to-face. That would be fun. :)

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Thanks for the fun questions, Gracie! :)

Here are my 11 questions to anyone who’d like to pass this challenge onward…

1. If you could have any magical/supernatural ability, what would you choose?

2. What’s one of your happiest childhood memories?

3. What is your favorite writing spot / workspace like? Why do you like to work there best?

4. What ministry or calling is closest to your heart?  What’s something you dream of doing for that cause someday?

5. Chocolatey desserts or fruity desserts??

6. What was your favorite book as a small child?

7. What’s something you used to be afraid of but aren’t scared of (or not as scared!) anymore?

8. What’s your favorite kind of outfit to wear?

9. What Bible verse has God used most powerfully in your life recently?  How?

10. How do you feel about rollercoasters? Love ’em, hate ’em?

11. Do you like sad endings or movies/books that make you cry?  Why or why not?

Let me know if you decide to take on the challenge and send me a link to your post! I’d love to learn more about you. :)

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EDIT: Author Yaasha Moriah answered my questions, and she had some beautiful answers! Check out her post here: http://www.yaashamoriah.com/home/sunshine-blogger-challenge-11-questions-answered

Simmer Starters – July 15, 2016

Brace yourselves!  After missing it last week, I have a ton of Simmers to catch up on. 😀

Hospitality and the Holy Imagination (Zach Franzen) – Some fascinating, worthy thoughts here (it takes a bit for the article to really get going, so stay with it). “Artists should be good hosts. At the very least they should serve a meal they are willing to eat themselves.”

How Worry Steals Your Magic (K.M. Carroll) – “I’ve spent the last decade learning to be afraid. Learning to worry. Learning all those dark, negative things that help you survive adulthood–but they cut off your shining Neverland. In its place, I built a narrow, dystopian world of darkness and fear.”

Thinking Biblically About Worry (Paul David Tripp) – Speaking of worry… “Worry and rest always reveal the true treasures of your heart. You will rest the most when what you treasure the most is secure, and you will worry the most when what you treasure the most is at risk. What does your world of worry reveal about the true treasures of your heart?”

Teaching Jaded Characters How to Trust (Angela Ackerman) – “[Our characters] have suffered pain, emotional wounds that leave them paralyzed when it comes to trust. Somehow, we must help them move past their pain. We must convince them that a willingness to being vulnerable by trusting another will lead to something deeper and more meaningful than they ever imagined.”

Homosexuality in Christian Fiction (Elijah David) – Whether you agree with this post or not, I believe this is a very important conversation for Christian writers to have. “Thus we approach this issue as we approach any other delicate issue regarding a character’s traits and motivations. We write them with excellence and complexity. We show these people are not forced to represent all women, all people of color, all blind people, all the LGBT movement. Stereotypes and generalizations get us nowhere as writers, as storytellers, as students of human nature.”

When Motherhood Squashes Your Talent (Courtney Allison) – This is applicable beyond the topic of motherhood! Comforting words for those who yearn to write but are “stuck” in a difficult phase of life for it. “In the middle of my nausea. When my life was reeling with surprise and sickness. When my chief avenue of processing, thinking, and meditating (i.e. writing), was cut off to me. God knew that would happen. So, I quietly closed my journal, logged out of my blog, and walked into my every day.”

Women, Trade Self-Worth for Wonder and Awe (Jen Wilkin) – YES! “You can tell me that I stir the heart of God, that I am sung over and delighted in, that I am beautiful in his eyes, that I am set apart for a sacred purpose. You can tell me these things, and you should. But I beg you: Don’t tell me who I am until you have caused me to gaze in awe at ‘I Am.’

Why Single is Not the Same as Lonely (Sam Allberry) – Because friendships are a blessing! “A friend is someone who knows your soul. Someone who doesn’t just know lots about you, but knows you. And, Proverbs shows us, we cannot hope to live wisely in God’s world without such soul-to-soul friendships. All of us need them, not just those who are single.”