So…. music inspires me, in case you can’t tell. And when I was writing The Promised One, that truth found no exception. Somewhere deep in the bowels of the singer/songwriter section of Apple Music, I found RHODES.

And my life was never the same.

His voice… like butter, baby. Like butter. (And he kind of reminds me of Ferryl a little bit. What do you think? Honestly, I love that in this video RHODES looks like Ferryl and Birdy looks like Elizabeth. It’s serendipity, I’m telling you.)

So needless to say about 93.37% of his songs became anthems for scenes in the book(s). This one, Let It All Go, being quite possibly my favorite. It’s no surprise, then, that some of the imagery in this GORGEOUS video inspired one of my favorite scenes in book two (and also the Færytale Castle art piece).

“I’ve always known I need you, Elizabeth. From the time we were young, I’ve known that I not only wanted you by my side, but I needed you, too. I need that clever mind of yours. That wit. That determination. Maybe I’m a piece of dandelion fluff dancing on the wind, but you, Elizabeth—you’re an oak. A tree planted by raging waters. Immovable. Immutable. And Providence help me, I’ve always known I need that. I need you.

“But when I walked away, when I turned my back on you for what I thought was the last time, it hit me. I finally understood it, Elizabeth. Maybe I need you, yes. But maybe… Maybe you need me, too.”

~The Purloined Prophecy, Chapter LII

Oh, Ferryl. Keep fighting for Elizabeth. You’ll never lose a woman you pursue with your whole heart. ❤

So check it out, and sound off in the comments. What do you think? Does RHODES look like Ferryl? (The answer is yes, yes he does. 😂)

Last week, Twitter blew up with the hashtag #MisandryInPublishing. Apparently some poor, hapless (male) soul posted that he believed it to be a real problem and women. went. nuts.

Oh man, the hate on Twitter. It’s mind-blowing how nasty people can be sometimes. But I digress…

The poor soul was obliterated by one cat-scratch after another—women on the man hate rant about how the entire concept of misandry in publishing is laughable at best.

I read through the banter. I wondered as to the fate of humanity for a moment. And then I stated my peace and moved on.

Yes, I am a female author. And yes, I believe misandry in literature is a real thing today.

It’s everywhere. Almost every modern novel I’ve read of late is chock full of man hate in one form or another. Oh no, it’s usually not blatant hatred. It’s subtle and clever. It’s portraying men like they are slaves to their instincts. Like wolves on the prowl. It’s portraying men like chest-beating Neanderthals who roam about looking for a broodmare. It’s portraying men like video game obsessed, Cheeto-slamming drunks with smoking hot wives who run the household. It’s portraying men like hapless, hopeless fools when a woman leaves them.

It’s misandry, and that’s all there is to it.

I’ve blogged about this sort of thing before (there’s one article on this site that I wrote years ago and it still gets several hits a day. It blows my mind.). Back then, I wrote about how men needed to step up to their roles as husbands and fathers. I saw an epidemic of man-boys who couldn’t bring themselves to put down their video game controllers long enough to run the household. I confess, I see things a little differently now. Yes, those men exist. And yes, ladies, Neanderthals exist, too. I’m not disagreeing. But I’m beginning to see that it’s not so much that the world is riddled with sex-crazed man-boys as it is that we women have decided it is. In our perhaps good intentions of vying for equality, we’ve lost sight of what the word means to begin with. And we’ve decided men are to blame for our problems.

We women yelled for equality in the ‘70s when we burned our bras. We shouted for equality in the ‘80s when we demanded better pay in our jobs. We screamed equality in the ‘90s when we insisted that “it’s a man’s world.” And here we are still crossing our arms and stomping our feet claiming that men have all the fun.

Ladies, when are we going to put on our big girl panties?

I read an article the other day about women (once again on the hate fest we call Twitter) tweeting under the directive “describe yourself as a male author would.” It was sickening, what women think men think of them. It’s embarrassing that we’ve boiled down men into nothing but sexual machines who cannot think past the next breast they’re going to ogle.

Ladies, I don’t know what men you’re surrounded by, but my husband, my father, even my son, are NOTHING like that. They’re men. They’re strong. They’re kind. They’re grounded. They’re gentlemen who open my door. They’re fathers who kiss their babies. They’re men who aren’t afraid to cry. They’re soldiers guarding their own homes.

My husband is the kind of man who is as tender as he is fierce. He is as passionate as he is strong. He is as kind as he is fearsome. He defends his family with valiant passion, loves his God with unwavering devotion, sacrifices for his wife without second thought. That’s a man. That’s masculinity. And any woman who would be threatened by such a thing needs to take a long look in the mirror.

It does not make a man Neolithic that he should be a visual, sexual creature. It does not make a man domineering that he should wish to open a door for a woman. Women scream for gender equality, but if you ask me, what they’re really screaming for is female superiority.

No, thanks.

It’s a big enough deal to me that we figure out this whole gender equality thing, that I wrote an entire book about it. I wanted, for once, to read a love story about people who stick together. I wanted to read a love story about a man and a woman who embrace their inherent gender roles, work together, and face the world arm in arm, not one in front of the other. Gender equality—true gender equality—is about embracing what makes women inherently feminine (and NO, that’s not pink lace and glitter), and what makes men inherently masculine (again, that’s not chest beating and gun toting). Femininity is at its heart, about the inherent empathy of our sex. It’s about embracing our natural instinct to nurture and love. And masculinity, at its heart, is about men embracing their God-given instinct to protect. Both are rooted in love. And neither have anything to do with pink or blue or glitter or camouflage or the length of your hair or the length of your shorts or any of the nonsense we associate with gender.

So ladies, let’s stop pretending like we’re screaming for equality when we call men Neanderthals for being exactly how they were designed to be. Maybe one of these days we’ll finally figure out that gender equality—TRUE equality—is exactly how God intended it. He is, after all, both male and female.

Stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

 

Okay, okay, I know…. it’s not a new book. I get it. You’re probably even rolling your eyes at me right now, wondering why in the world I’m making a recommendation for a book that is from the 1970s…

Here’s the deal. It’s perfect. I mean it. Fantasy. Romance. Humor. TONS of tongue-in-cheek sarcasm. So much satire… SO MUCH. It’s delicious, y’all.

If you’re like me, you grew up on the film. In fact, in my elementary school, superiority in the four-square game depended on who could quote the most lines from The Princess Bride. Guess who always won? *ahem* (In case you’re worried about my arrogance, don’t you fret. My superiority in movie-quoting would soon be thwarted by my marked disadvantage with anything remotely athletic.)

And if you’re also like me, it never occurred to you to actually read the book.

Lo and behold, at 35 years of age, I finally bought the novel.

And now I am sad that I never did before. Good lord, it’s perfect. I’m telling you. It’s the funniest, cleverest, sweetest, most brilliant piece in modern literature. Hands down.

And the author even fooled me. From the movie, and from the book, I had assumed that The Princess Bride was an adaptation of some ancient book by S. Morgenstern. William Goldman claims, throughout the book, that he is abridging one really long, boring book, to make it reflect the parts his dad read to him as a kid.

Nope.

Sir William wrote the whole darn thing. And his asides are probably my favorite thing ever. I’m telling you, (finish this blog) and GO BUY THIS BOOK. RIGHT NOW. YOU NEED IT IN YOUR LIFE.

As a side note, I recently re-watched the movie, hoping to introduce my children to it, and make them fall in love with its brilliance. I had visions of my seven and five year old sitting with me by a crackling fire, giggling in all the right places, cowering at the sight of the shrieking eels…

But like so much of motherhood, I was sorely disappointed. They didn’t really care.

Not yet, anyway.

But I won’t give up. Just like Westley, I will chase them down until I make a believer out of them.

But in my re-watching of the film, I realized that somewhere, subconsciously, I must have written Prince Ferryl to be just like Westley. Those blue eyes. That messy thatch of blonde hair. That devil-may-care grin. His unfailing love for one woman, no matter the cost.

Yes, Prince Ferryl is my unconscious-now-conscious nod to perhaps my favorite man in literature.

Read The Princess Bride.

And then read The Promised One. <—- shameless self promotion.

You’ll thank me you did.

Have you seen the trailer for The Promised One? If you have, then you’ve gotten a taste of an original composition of mine that I lovingly call Ferryl’s Song. It’s a piece I wrote for the trailer to tell the story arc of The Promised One from Ferryl’s perspective—the peace of a lifelong love that is cast into shadow by dark magic, a journey to awaken the truth, and an ending that doesn’t answer everything.

Yes, every stanza of this piece tells that story. Can you hear it?

Check it out!

And yes, in case you’re wondering… there is more to come where this is concerned. *grins maniacally*

Hey guys! It’s release day!! Hooray!! The Promised One is officially available for purchase wherever books are sold. Oh man, I am FREAKING OUT!!! I wanted to share with you an article from Ampersand Write, a writing community I am a part of. It was so much fun to answer these questions and I am thrilled to share with you just a little insight into the making of The Promised One.

Enjoy!

~Morgan

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Original article by Kristen Aitken, Ampersand Write

Every once in a while, a story comes along that grabs you by the shirt collar and sweeps you off your feet until the last page turns. One such book for me is The Promised One by Morgan G. Farris. Having known Morgan for many years, I could not wait to get my hands on a copy of what she had poured her heart and soul into creating… And, of course, to pick her brain about it for your benefit! Following is a behind-the-scenes look at what became this beautiful, charming, magical tale that is available now for purchase.

Tell us about your book!

Wow, okay doesn’t every author hate having to sum up their story into a few sentences? Ha! My book is called The Promised One and it is the first book in a series I’ve lovingly (and painstakingly) named The Chalam Færytales. (Chalam is the Hebrew transliteration for dream. In the book, you learn of the chalam tree, which has the legend that when two people share of its fruits, they share of the same destiny.) The book follows the stories of Elizabeth and Ferryl, my two main characters, and their journey of finding their way back to each other after being separated by magic, a wicked queen, and a destiny they don’t know that awaits them. They’ve known each other their whole lives, and fallen in love over those years, so that when the story kicks off, you’re not watching a couple fall in love, you’re watching a couple who is already in love figure out what went wrong. It’s a fantasy, so there are mythical creatures and spells and curses and all that jazz. But at the end of the day, I wanted to tell a little bit different kind of love story—the story of what happens after that first kiss.

What gave you the idea for your work?

I think there is one glaring way that art fails to adequately reflect life: love stories. In books and movies, most of the time the best part of the relationship revolves around that first kiss—or that first time the couple finally admits their feelings to one another (however that pans out). But in life, I think we forget that the kiss is only the beginning, and that love is something that is forged over time, not discovered in a moment of passion. I really wanted to read a book about that, but they’re few and far between. Like the adage says, write a book you want to read. So I did. And somewhere in the churning and mulling over of these ideas of love, these characters, this world, and this concept was born. And because I’m a nerd, of course that concept was a fantasy.

What is your favorite character in your work and why?

My favorite character in my book is probably Commander Titus. He’s not a huge part of the story in the beginning, but I introduced him in book one because in books two and three, he becomes paramount to the story (and he doesn’t even know it). But you’ll see even in book one that Titus is a conflicted man. He doesn’t know what he wants, he doesn’t really even know where he stands. He’s fiercely loyal, even to his own detriment, but his main flaw is that he cannot see the good within himself. I love him because I think Titus is a little bit of all of us. He is darkness and he is light and some days he gives in to one of those more than the other. But he wants to be good. He wants to do right. He just can’t quite figure out how in his circumstances.

What is one aspect of your current work that sets it apart from other books/stories?

It was really important to me from the beginning that this story feel real, even though it is set in a fantasy world. I wanted the characters to be relatable, to be people we could see ourselves through. On the other hand, my books are an allegory of the story of the Biblical Messiah. I wanted to convey the magic of that story without preaching and I wanted to paint real people without white-washing them the way Christian literature often does. So the characters are messy. They fail. They have foul mouths (God forbid!). They hurt each other—purposely and accidentally. They hurt themselves. If you’ve ever read the Old Testament, you know there is nothing G-rated about it. I wanted to make sure that my story held true to that. That is why I haven’t marketed it as Christian literature, but also haven’t shied away from saying what it is—a reimagining of the greatest story ever told. It’s a niche genre with an unconventional angle, and from the moment the story began to unfold, I knew I was writing something a bit risky. But I also knew I was supposed to write it, so here we are. I’m genuinely curious to see what people think, to be honest.

Do you recall how old you were and/ or what happened to spark your interest in reading?

I am what you call a victim of the school reading system. In other words: school ruined me for reading. All those AR points turned reading into a burden for me from a young age (a mistake our schools are making that I am quite passionate about, to be honest.) But I did have a few exceptions to that rule that I fell in love with from an early age. Little Women, The Iliad and The Odyssey, and The Chronicles of Narnia, to name a few. But it wasn’t until I was in my early twenties and met my husband that I learned to crave reading and, funny enough, it was his love for Harry Potter that turned me into a bookworm. So yes, I am one of those millions of people who say that Harry Potter ignited their passion for reading. And yes, I was an adult when that happened.

What is your favorite book and why?

I could no sooner pick a favorite book than I could pick a favorite star in the sky. But I do have some go-tos that I can’t seem to quit reading. Foremost, I am a hardcore forever fan of Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. I have read that book too many times to count and I still ugly cry every time. I am also a super nerd for the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas. She is just… a stupid brilliant writer and if I could channel even an iota of her voodoo magic, I would.

When did you start writing? And what about that gave you the desire to write?

I started writing when I was nine years old. It manifested in the form of songs for about twenty years and over that time, I’ve written hundreds and hundreds of them. I always loved writing papers in school and in college, but I never considered myself a writer, per se. It wasn’t until the summer of 2014 that I began penning novels. To date, I have written seven novels, but The Promised One is the first one to be published.

What are your main influences (writing-related or otherwise)?

I am heavily influenced by music. I’m a musician, so it’s in my blood. For most of the scenes in my books, I have a song to which I attribute the moment. (For those curious, you can find my Apple Music playlist of those songs here.)

If you could meet one author, living or dead, who would you meet and why? What would you ask them?

C.S. Lewis. Hands down. He and I are kindred spirits in so many ways. He was a skeptic at heart. He never took things at face value, not even his faith. He challenged it, questioned it, and explored it. What he left behind was a legacy of thought-provoking prose that has shaped so much of how I think of God and the world. I’d sit down with a cup of hot tea and ask him to tell me stories the same way Elizabeth (in my book) would ask her father to.

What inspires you to create?

Most definitely my faith. Everything I do is colored by it. I’m not going to preach to you, I’m not going to tell you that you’re wrong and I’m right. But I am going to tell you, in some form of art, no doubt, that an undeniable something has gotten ahold of me, and I’m a better person for it. The Promised One is most definitely a love letter to that faith and a testament to the work of Providence in my own life.

Want to find out more?

The Promised One, the first book in The Chalam Færytales series, is available for purchase now. You can check out this and other works by Morgan (because she does a lot more than write) here. And check out her book trailer below! (She even wrote, arranged, and performed the music for it!)

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Until next time,

~Kristen Aitken, Ampersand Write

I am a perfectionist. There. I said it. I like to wrap things up in a pretty box, tie a bow on them, and call them accomplished. I like to explain things. I like to categorize my life into snippets of theology. “Oh this? I learned ____________ from this. And that over there? That was the time I learned _____________.” I think being able to define the incidents in my life has given me a sense of purpose. It has certainly given me a sense of sanity.

So when I was faced with something I couldn’t define, I was lost. Broken. Utterly shattered. When my journey of being a surrogate ended abruptly, unexpectedly, I didn’t know what to think, let alone what to pray.

Somewhere back in 2012, I met a woman who was a surrogate. She was carrying twins for strangers. Strangers. It blew my mind and right then and there I decided that someday I wanted to do the same. I wanted to gift a family with something they could otherwise not have. It took a few years of convincing my husband, but somewhere in the summer of 2016, he acquiesced and said, “Hey, let’s look into it.”

So we did.

I filled out an online application (which was shockingly long and in depth). I wondered if I’d even pass the rigorous criteria required to be a surrogate. When I passed that initial screening I was stoked. When I passed the second level, the physical exam, and the in-home assessment, I was over the moon.

I was going to be a surrogate!

Now before I go on, I need to point something out: pregnancy for me was easy. So was conception. It was literally a case of, “Oh, hey what do you think about getting pregnant? Oh you’re on board?” BAM. Two weeks later I had a positive pregnancy test.

Honestly. It was like that.

So, naturally I assumed surrogacy would be the same.

I had pretty strict criteria for the surrogacy matching: namely that I was unwilling to abort the child for any reason (even if my own life was in danger). It limited the selection pool, but eventually, after about a year of the whole process, we were matched. And the couple… they were like a dream. It was absolutely mind-blowing that we could have so much in common with a couple from a completely different part of the country, with completely different upbringings, completely different cultures, even different races. But we did. And it all felt like kismet. Surrogacy was in the bag. It was going to be as easy as my pregnancies had been, I was certain.

But it wasn’t.

Not even a little bit.

Don’t be fooled. Surrogacy is not for the faint of heart. It’s taxing—mentally taxing, emotionally taxing, physically taxing. Not only that, it’s overwhelming. It’s a whole lot of, “Oh, you want me to do that now?” But I persisted. All I could think of was handing that couple their precious baby in nine months. Of seeing their faces as they held him in their arms (they already knew the embryo was a boy).

But it didn’t happen.

Somewhere near 8 weeks of pregnancy, feeling nauseous, unable to sleep or button my pants, I got the diagnosis: blighted ovum.

If you don’t know what that means, it’s basically when the embryo attaches to the uterine wall like he should, but never grows.

It was devastating. I’ve never ever been so at a loss for words as I was sitting in that doctor’s office, FaceTiming the intended mother as he said (rather abruptly, I might add) that the pregnancy wasn’t viable and it was a blighted ovum.

No.

That wasn’t possible

It couldn’t be.

We talked it over with the parents and decided to stay on all the medications and wait two more weeks. Just in case. Maybe the doctor was wrong. Enough Google searches told us it was a possibility.

But he wasn’t wrong.

And at 9 1/2 weeks pregnant, it was official. It was over.

Now I had miscarried once before—between my son and my daughter. But it was somewhere around 5 weeks along and little more than a late period.

At almost 10 weeks? That’s a different story entirely. I won’t go into details, but sufficient to say that no one ever tells you what miscarriage is really like. No one tells you how devastating it is. How humiliating. How painful. It’s labor. It’s contractions and shocking pain. All of that, without the reward at the end. I started miscarrying at church and looking back, I’m fairly certain I went into shock. I didn’t even realize what was happening. But it was sudden. And it was terrible. And I still tear up thinking about it. I drove home in excruciating pain, my clothes soaked through with blood, and all I could think was how I wished I were in a hospital bed, instead of having to deal with this in my own home.

And then came the real pain.

Then came the part where I had to face it. My sweet couple, they only had one embryo. One chance. And I failed them. I failed them so thoroughly I couldn’t put it into words. Everything I saw reminded me of my failure—every innocent post from Facebook friends enjoying their babies. Every commercial of families. Every song about the grace of God. It all reminded me that I had failed. That this sweet couple that I had come to love like my own family would never know the joy of holding their own child.

And yeah, I was mad. I was mourning a child that wasn’t even mine. Tell me that it’s not life and I’ll tell you this—I wasn’t mourning an embryo. I wasn’t mourning a clump of cells. I was mourning a child. Their child. I was mourning the fact that he didn’t get a chance.

I couldn’t explain it. I couldn’t fit it into that little box I liked. I couldn’t wrap a bow around it and call it a lesson learned. I still can’t.

I cannot explain why we lost that sweet baby boy. I cannot understand what God was thinking. I cannot say why God would call me to be a surrogate (because I know he did) for it to fail so completely. And worse, I cannot even fathom why he would put that family through it, either.

Here’s the strangest part of it all: somehow, that has given me comfort. Somehow, through all of this, God has reminded me that he is still sovereign. That I have not taken the sanctity of Life out of his hands and put in in a petri dish. He is still the One who gives and the One who takes away. He is still the One who decides the fate of each of us. We cannot take it out of his hands.

Somehow, that has given me peace.

No, I’m not okay with it. No, I don’t think on it with smiles and fondness. I am still mourning, still grieving.

But I’m okay.

It’s okay.

And God is still God.

Maybe that’s the lesson. Maybe the point of all of this is that sometimes—sometimes God is so much bigger than our expectations. Sometimes the plans God has for us are nothing at all like what we expected.

And maybe that’s okay, too.

The irony of it all is that before we even had the embryo transfer, I painted something for the intended parents. A gift as we embarked on this journey together. It was a scripture the mother had quoted to me the first time we met.

Proverbs 16:9—The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.

Wow. Just… wow. There could be nothing more true. And for this girl, who naively went into a situation with rose-colored glasses and the best of intentions, I walk away knowing that my steps are the Lord’s, not mine.

And that’s okay with me.