Secrets in the Underground Book Review

Secrets in the Underground: Book 2 of the Secrets of Gwenla series (Volume 2)

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Secrets in the Underground: Book 2 of the Secrets of Gwenla series

Author: Laurie Penner
Genre: Fantasy, YA, Coming of Age

Book blurb:
After the fortress walls of Victory Valley fall, Julyiah and Delwyn Sarroll travel on their disappearing horses, encountering new dangers and wonders on the Outside. Coming back to the valley with exciting opportunities, the Sarrolls find their home fraught with turmoil. Valley dwellers are again divided over how to hear the Music, while young women are disappearing, presumed taken by the evil Underground lord, Darse.

Leader Zuriel urges all to listen for the true Music, but a popular new leader, Lansel, teaches how to hear music at will and remain in good places. Zuriel’s good friend, Dawnli, keeps remembering her wretched childhood in the Underground, so she follows Lansel’s tempting ideas to find joy. But when Zuriel organizes a group to help the Underground poor, Dawnli feels drawn to the effort, which brings her under Darse’s watchful eye and her own personal danger.

A few valley men and Underground residents scramble to rescue the missing girls from the lower realm, but conflict grows as Darse targets those who betray him. Worse, the dark lord carries a weapon that gives him extraordinary power no one else has.

When key members of the community also disappear, additional valley forces must gather to wage a battle in the Underground, but who will lead the inexperienced men in real combat, and will they succeed?

Book Review:
With Christian themes and a strong allegorical thread running through the story-line, Secrets in the Underground picks up where Secrets of Gwenla left off and moves the story forward while exploring questions of faith as symbolized by the true Music.

  • Is it enough to sing only the songs that other Valley dwellers sing?
  • Should only one person’s experience of music be heeded, or must everyone seek to listen to the true Music for themselves?
  • Can the true Music be heard even in the Underground?
  • What happens when those who seek the true Music explore beyond the bounds of the valley? Will the true Music also find them there?

With a mighty clash between good and evil, these questions and more will be answered.

What I loved about the story:

I loved the themes of redemption and reconciliation. I also loved the horses that can turn invisible (they play an important part in the story).

I thought the beginning was a little slow at first, but the story picked up, and I became hooked.

From the way the story ended, I suspect there may be another book in the works. I hope so…

A Message of Hope

SOTU speech 2018

Trump delivered a message of hope, but Democrats couldn’t stand it.

Did you catch any part of Trump’s first State of the Union speech last night?

Wow…wasn’t that an incredible message of hope? I was impressed with the way he singled out the heroes in the audience; with the credit he gave to individuals and to the American people for doing extraordinary things to save lives and/or to make life better for other people around them.

While he did list the accomplishments of his administration to date, Trump’s speech was refreshingly low on “I” statements and high on “you did” and “they did” statements.

Trump delivered a message of hope.

I think Americans really need that hope!

As a Christian, I am always in favor of messages of hope, because hope is a foundational principle of faith in Jesus Christ. Without hope, a people despair…

I was amused by how the cameras kept panning from the people jumping to their feet to applaud Trump, to the people not applauding (and sitting there with really sour looks on their faces).

Oh, my…

I almost wanted to feel sorry for them, but I couldn’t. How could they not applaud all the wonderful things Trump was saying had been accomplished? How could they not applaud the goals he set out for improving our national security and making our country a better, safer, healthier, wealthier place to live?

Do they only want people to live in despair, anguish, and misery? Is that really the only time Democrats are happy? When the people they rule are so depressed that some of them even want to kill themselves? How…disturbing.

I think it’s no secret that I didn’t want Trump for president. I’m not a personal fan of his, but–I really do like where he is taking America. I am a big fan of that.

Make America Great Again? Oh yes, please do that–

Depicting God in Art

Pillar of Fire

The pillar of fire that protected the Israelites from the Egyptians

How do you depict God in art? I’ve wrestled with this for years now… ever since I created my first Progress of Redemption Pictorial Bible Chart for a college class at Columbia International University.

I needed to show God as active and involved in the events in the artwork for each story, but–how?

In the Old Testament, the Spirit of God hovers over the water in Genesis 1:1. But…how would you depict the Holy Spirit? As a rushing wind?

God appears in the Garden of Eden, walking in the cool of the day (Genesis 3:8). He appears to Abraham as a smoking firepot and a flaming torch. If I used those two together, no one would draw a connection from that to God.

He comes to Moses as fire burning–yet not consuming–the bush in the wilderness.

And God appears as a pillar of fire, protecting the trapped Israelites from the Egyptians; a pillar of fire that traveled with Israel and rested above the tabernacle when the Israelites wandered in the wilderness.

He speaks from the top of the mountain when He gives the Ten Commandments to Moses, he whispers to Elijah… but how do you show a whisper or a shout.

No one ever said it would be easy, but…depicting God in art is hard!

There are all those appearances of ‘the angel of the Lord’ to Abraham, to Hagar, to Joshua, to Samson’s parents, to– Is the ‘angel of the Lord’ another instance of God making Himself physically present? Or…not?

And then there’s the Old Testament command not to make any graven images…

God is hidden from view for most of the people in the Old Testament. The Israelites in the desert saw the cloud on the mountain, but couldn’t come up to see Him. Even Moses couldn’t look upon His face.

Depict God in art–how?

To quote Jan Verhoeff, “God in art shows up as a relevant depiction of the artist’s symbolic representation of concepts. Often this symbolic representation is a sort of signature of the artist, in much of their work.”

I wanted my depiction of God in my artwork to be relevant and respectful. I also wanted the depiction I settled on to be consistent for each Testament.

Going back over the list, I realized that aside from appearing as a person, as wind, and a whisper, God seems to like appearing as fire. I’m pretty good at drawing fire…

For the Old Testament story-line, I decided to depict God as holy fire.

But… What does holy fire look like?

I wanted my design to be recognizable as fire, and not look creepy or weird–like something out of a science fiction movie.

Holy fireI settled on this design, with golden yellow, blue, and red flames coming up from a fluffy white cloud for several reasons:

I figured that holy fire would burn really hot. The hottest flames are blue, even almost white. I added the red and yellow to make it recognizable as fire, so it wouldn’t look like a cloud pretending to be fire. These are also colors God ordered the Israelites to use in the construction of the Temple (gold covered altars, posts, walls, and utensils), the red dyed covering of skins, the curtain protecting the Holy of Holies).

I also wanted the fire to be a symbol of the Trinity, three Persons in One, and the three main colors work for that too.

The fluffy white cloud also shows that this flame is self-sustaining, like our Creator.

Not everyone likes my depiction. I think Mom was even a little offended by it because she didn’t understand it. But it isn’t intended to be one hundred percent historically accurate. It’s intended only to be a picture-symbol. But I think it works!

And that, my friends, is how this artist depicts God in art…


I’m redoing my Progress of Redemption pictorial Bible story chart. As I finish the new artwork, you’ll be able to find it here. When the artwork is all updated, I plan to turn it into a book.

Check out my other books here.

Light your writing on fire…

Have you ever wondered what it would take to write a hit story? If you get a spark going, will it ignite? Light your writing on fire with these cool as a cucumber writing tips, and then YOU can be the coolest writer lit up on the web too!

That’s what they said when they started the writing seminar.

light your writing on fire

And I bought it.

Somewhere in that first five minutes I caught on, and I realized anyone can write a hit, BESTSELLER if they have the right marketing ready to sell their book. It isn’t even about the editing – have you ever read the Twilight series?

If you captivate a market, and pull in buyers from your specific market your book CAN and will take off running like a forest fire out of control. You can light your writing on fire, just by being in the right place in the right time.

I think right now is the right time…

The key is to look around and see what’s going on in the world and then write for the audience that’s going to start reading your book. Reading offers a sort of escapism, for those who turn the pages. When the world goes to hell in a basket, people open the pages and find substantive value between them. They cling to the spark they find in the book.

Light your writing on fire with these:

  • Characters that fulfill the needs of your readers. Who couldn’t use a Superman right now? Or a Batman, determined to win out against the evil thugs of current political adversaries? Your reader may even need to feel like that hero, saving the world!
  • Winnable conflicts and battles that can be overcome. We all need reassurance that life as we knew it won’t disappear in the current political phase of destruction. We need to know this too shall pass and we’ll live happily ever after. Reassure your readers.
  • Solutions to the evils of the world. Spiritual or real, we all need to know there’s a solution and it belongs to us. We can hold onto the solution during trying times. We need to know there’s bad in the world, but good overcomes bad. And we need to know we’ll be better people in the end.
  • Settings that offer respite as well as conflict. Pull in the glimpses of perfection from a rose garden at sunset, along with the raging fires of the forest that might overtake the rose garden. Be sure you save some roses to grow again.
  • Happily ever after only happens in movies and fairy tales. Be real. Wear the edges off your corners, include some transparency and fear from your own world, and the soften the edges with some cushy emotional satisfaction. We just want to know we can survive it all.

Write your story as if you’re going to read it.

Writers, you define the world in your book. Be sure it’s a world we all want to live in, but sell it to the reader who needs it most. Invite them to write reviews and sell your book for you.


Visit this writer on Amazon.

Or escape into the shadows to find happiness again, and buy one of Krystine’s Books:

Is your character an introvert or extrovert?

Medieval Warrior

Who is your character?

When developing a character for a new book, it helps to think about the people we know and real facets of their characters that make them interesting or challenging to deal with. Their strengths and weaknesses, how they relate to other people, who they really are down deep inside as opposed to their public faces. Is your character an introvert or extrovert?

There’s a lot more to being an introvert or an extrovert than the usually perceived differences between being shy or being outgoing.

You can have a character that is initially reserved and wary, but as he gets to know people and warms up to them, can become the life of the party.

Or you can have a character who is attracted to outgoing personalities, but whose own personality is very retiring. This juxtaposition in character can make for great conflict to drive your story forward.

A major determiner of a character’s personality is whether they’re more introverted or extroverted.

To help round out your character’s personality traits, I’ve created graphs dealing with introverted versus extroverted behavior.

1. How does your character respond physically to being with people?

Introverts versus Extroverts

Does your character:

  • become energized by being around people?
  • become fatigued by being around people?
  • have a response somewhere in between, like becoming overstimulated and energized while people are around but having an exhausted, let-down response after they’re gone?

2. How does your character respond emotionally to other people?

Is your character an introvert or an extrovert?

Emotional response can range from:

  • Not caring what other people think. For example: the classic “tough guy” or “independent woman”
  • Caring too much what others think to the point of being desperately needy for approval. For example: a girl whose feelings are easily hurt, or a “yes man”
  • Most people’s emotional response to social friction falls somewhere in between, and can even fluctuate from one day to the next. Describing that fluctuation, and how and why it happens, can build nuance and subtlety into your story, and bring your character to life.

3. What is your character’s personal preference as a result of their emotional and physical responses to other people?

Personality traits

Is your character a loner or do they always need people around them? Does your character thrive on having company stop by, and live for the next big get-together, group event, or party?

Or does your character take to their heels rather than have to deal with people? Maybe your character has such a strong negative emotional response to dealing with other people that they’ve chosen the life of a hermit.

Or maybe they would be a hermit if they could, but that choice has been denied them, and they struggle to come to grips with a loved one’s need for a constant flow of people through their lives.

4. One-on-one introvert versus crowd extrovert

Introvert vs Extrovert 4

Or maybe they like people, but they need to take the time to get to know them one on one, because crowds overwhelm them.

Maybe your character prefers having fewer, but deeper friendships to spending time with lots of superficial friendships.

Or maybe they fall somewhere in between: they like having crowd time, but they also need their few close, intimate friends as well.

More questions to ask as you develop your character’s personality:

  • What challenges would the demands of leadership place on an introvert? on an extrovert?
  • Can you have an extrovert who lives successfully (if only for a short time) as a “lone wolf”?
  • How would you write a character that is very introverted, but must deal daily with many people? What sort of “personality mask” would they wear?

Application Example: Bjorn Horsa

A Shadow on the Land

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Bjorn Horsa is an extrovert.

He has seldom if ever found himself completely alone since early childhood.

He loves to be in the middle of a crowd of people. He enjoys being the life of the party.

Being with people energizes him, but he also has a need to spend time one on one with his closest friends and associates. He has a best friend: his cousin Trehan; a trusted mentor in Sir Kyle; a small but very trusted circle of friends and companions, and a wider circle of people whom he likes and enjoys spending time with, but aren’t part of his inner circle.

While he wants to be liked, he doesn’t have a burning need to be liked. He doesn’t need the approval of other people, except as it helps him accomplish his goals.