In the middle of summer, not all of my characters are willing to brave the Texas heat and drop by for an interview. But Konar the Conqueror (more commonly known as Konar the Mad) so gallantly decided to risk heatstroke and drop by. He's currently getting one of my kitchen chairs all sweaty. The glass of ice water isn't helping him. Maybe I should hurry up with this interview before he decides to take his clothes off--or kill everyone with his axe. I knew I should have brought my pocket knife.
M.J.: First off, Konar, I must say that it’s an honor to interview you.
Konar the Mad: (Smiles) The honor is mine. It’s not every day I get to meet such a lovely girl for the first time.
M.J.: Thank you, sir. But aren’t you married?
K.M.: I am—to my third wife, actually. Thordis died of cholera, and Hildegard—not sure what happened to her.
M.J.: She left you?
K.M.: She’s not here anymore, is she? No matter, now I have Caitriona. We’re so happy together.
M.J.: (Suspiciously) I’m...very glad of that. Now, I’m curious of the island’s history. Would you mind enlightening me?
K.M.: Certainly. We lived northeast of here, closer to Norway than Iceland, until I was a lad of five or six. My father Idir was chief then, and he decided we needed a larger island to call home. So—conquest. We slaughtered the Gythians, the largest of tribes, and took hold of their island. We renamed it Eagle’s Deep.
M.J.: Do you remember any of this?
K.M.: I remember landing on the fair shores of Eagle’s Deep and wishing I could join the men in battle. My father refused. I set fire to his bedroll in retribution.
M.J.: Was he in it?
K.M.: Apparently not. He didn’t die for another fourteen years, had to buy himself a new bedroll. It’s amazing how much money it cost him.
M.J.: Speaking of money, I’ve heard that you are quite wealthy.
K.M.: The richest on the island, milady. I shall have to relieve myself of some of it, and purchase you a ring. Have your hands ever seen a day’s work? The finest silks cannot compare in their softness.
M.J.: (Curtly) Thank you. How did you acquire your vast wealth?
K.M.: Export and trade. I specialize in the transport of living things—cattle, horses, a few falcons. Slaves make up a large portion of my commerce. There’s a huge market for them.
M.J.: Where do you find your slaves?
K.M.: Everywhere, really. Sweden, Denmark, Scotland and Ireland. I sailed to the southern edge of the world once, or very close to it, and I brought back some dark-skinned Catholics who did nothing but swear at me in their native language. By the gods, they were hard to deal with.
M.J.: So it really doesn’t matter where your slaves are from.
K.M.: So long as they sell for a good price, I couldn’t care less.
M.J.: And race plays no part in this?
K.M.: (Raising his voice) I just told you what part race plays in this. No ones gives a **** about where their slaves are from. They’re slaves. No one cares about them!
M.J.: I’m terribly sorry, sir. I seem to have set off your temper.
K.M.: Shut up, you ill-born dog!
M.J.: (Wisely shuts up)
K.M.: Now, if that’s all you want, I’ve a village to run. Get back to work, do something useful for once, and leave me be! (Thunders out of room, overturning his chair. Yells from the doorway) And another thing, you could use some mead to share with your visitors! (Slams door)
M.J.: (Sighs gratefully) Thank You God, I survived!
Every kid has their dreams. Some people want to be astronauts or princesses or spies when they grow up, but not me. I wanted to be a pioneer! I wanted to raise a garden in a log cabin in Wisconsin, then sit on a balcony overlooking the woods and enjoy blueberry muffins and hot chocolate. I wanted to write books and raise kids. And one particular day, I remember thinking, "When I grow up, I'm going to have long hair, and braid it every day!"
And then a voice spoke to my heart and said, "You don't have to wait until you grow up."
I've taken that voice and ran with it since then. My hair is braided more often than not, and even though I live in Texas rather than Wisconsin, I still enjoy taking hikes in the nearby woods. I have a container garden. I don't really eat blueberry muffins or drink hot chocolate, but every once in a while I make chocolate no-bake cookies. I crochet, I write, and I read my Bible.
I wish everyone knew that they didn't have to wait until X happened. You don't have to wait until you graduate to start pursuing your goals. You don't have to be perfect before you start ministering to people. If you want to homeschool your kids, do it now! You don't need a teaching degree!
At the very least, don't stop people like me from achieving our dreams. I've heard too many people tell children and teenagers (especially over the internet), "You don't know what you're doing. Get some life experience." You know what, we have a dream. And we might be trying in the worst possible way to reach that dream. We probably don't know what we're doing! We need someone to teach us, not tell us we're a failure before we even start. And if we decide halfway through that we picked the wrong dream to follow, don't look down on us. We haven't even graduated high school yet; at least we got one wrong career choice out of the way before we pick our college major.
Do you need a spark of encouragement so you can reach your dreams? Or are you the person you've wanted to be since you were a kid? I'd love to hear your stories in the comments below! God bless you, dear reader, and don't forget to like our Facebook page--or check back with us next week. I'll be posting a very special interview!
I've reviewed a couple of books on my blog, and I really enjoy it. Today, we're going to take a look at a book from one of my three favorite series: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, from C.S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia.
First off, Dawn Treader is a remarkable name for a boat. And it just so happens to be the boat that Lucy and Edmund Pevensie are magically brought to for their third trip to Narnia--except that this time, they're accompanied by their insufferable cousin, Eustace Clarence Scrubb. The boat is led by the Pevensie's old friend King Caspian, who is trying to find the seven Narnian lords whom his uncle banished in his ascent to the throne. And, while they're at it, they might as well sail to the eastern edge of the world.
Their journey is full of twists and turns--they get captured by slave traders and fight off a sea serpent. There are magicians, dragons, and prophesies fulfilled. And there's an appearance by one of my all-time favorite Narnians: Reepicheep, the valiant, talking mouse.
This book may lack some of the Christian allegories that The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is famous for, but it's still a good book. I'd recommend it over The Silver Chair or The Last Battle any day. The characters are well thought out, and Eustace's character arc especially was wonderful to follow. It's also the last book in which Edmund and Lucy appear--Susan and Peter being declared "too old for Narnia" in Prince Caspian. And while my favorite book in the series will forever be The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader had some magic in it. And I'm not just talking about the magician's magic--I mean the magic of Christmas, the magic that C.S. Lewis has put into all of the Narnia books. I mean the magic that enchants a book, and makes you wish that you too could visit Narnia.
The Fourth of July has come and gone, and I think the sonic booms from the fireworks knocked my dental filling loose. But besides that, I had a wonderful time, and I started thinking about all the people who provided that wonderful time for us.
See, the Fourth of July is a time when Americans celebrate independence and freedom. But I think it was Ronald Reagan who said that "freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction." That's a frightening fact. If it weren't for our armed forces, our founding fathers, and our upstanding citizens who work hard to make our country what it is, we might not be here.
I'm not very familiar with the military, but my family is. One of my grandfathers served in the Coast Guard; the other was in the army reserve. My great-grandfather was deployed to Japan just as World War II came to an end. He brought home Japanese flags and photographs that we still have, and said that the Japanese were just as happy to see the end of the fighting as we were.
And yet we, the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of these great heroes, take very little pride in our country. We take our liberty for granted, and I'm guilty of it too. But it's time to stop. Taking pride in America can be as simple as thanking a Veteran, or flying the flag, or wearing red, white, and blue to the grocery store.
Because it's true, and freedom is always one generation away from extinction. Prayer is already kicked out of most public schools. And here in Texas, most people agree that we don't need gun control--we need idiot control. We can be the generation who stops this.
Alynn and Lukas love St. Anne's Monastery; therefore, they are willing to fight for it, even if it means risking their lives. What are we willing to do for America? Buy red, white, and blue cupcakes for Independence Day? It can be as simple as a prayer or an afternoon of community service. But do something. Don't stand by and let America crumble.
M. J. Piazza is a Jesus-loving, dog-walking country girl who just so happens to write books.