One year ago today, my first book Kingdom of the Sun, was published. I am so blessed to have been through an experience that was both a struggle and a joy. The goal and dream that I had in this endeavor was to give a voice to words and ideas that have been unsaid and to illuminate the struggles that are hidden and unseen.
I published Kingdom of the Sun on Columbus Day of last year simply because of what the “holiday” represents. In response to the falsification and propagandic use of history, I published my novella on Columbus Day as a way to represent its purpose of being a light for truth, inspiration, and hope for change. I wanted the book to illuminate the impact of a history that was edited, to represent the effect of colonialism, and to signify a nation and race of people that were silenced. I wanted my work to display how no matter where we are in time or history, there will always be an obstacle in the world and in our own lives that must be overcome. And yet, no matter how hard or unfair the battle may be, there is always hope for victory.
A year later, I still harbor the hope, faith, and drive that the words written in Kingdom of the Sun and on this blog will touch you and push you to make a change that you may have always wanted or say the words that have been bottled up inside you. I am no stranger to invisibility and forced silence. Even now, it still hurts me to think back to it. But even now, I am still reminded of the strength it gave me to become who I am and want to be. And the only thing I want for someone in the same situation is to break free. Become unhidden and become unsilenced.
We must not become like those in the past whose voices have been silenced and whose history have been distorted and edited. We must let our voices rise above the ones that try to mute it and our actions be braver and more holy than those who are not. We must be and make the change that is so needed in this world— changes so powerful that they will light the future for other generations and bring illumination and freedom to the voices and history of the past.
Peace and Love,
Please enjoy this in-depth discussion and review of my novella by Kevin Peter.
“Don’t limit a child to your own learning, for he was born in another time” – Rabindranath Tagore
‘Knowledge is power’ this centuries old thought has always held weight to support its claim, continues to do so and will be the cornerstone on which our future will be established. The statement has lost nothing in terms of relevance or significance; and what can impart good knowledge in society? It’s education, for education is the constant prerequisite for political development, democracy and social justice. Education empowers all, and education promotes greater participation from amongst the many manmade and naturally occurring differences in humankind.
Now only if the education we were imparting to our younger generation through schools and colleges could fully deliver the message discussed in the lines above. In today’s world, the one thing that unites developed and developing nations is ironically, the voices of dissent with the education sector and the quality of knowledge imparted. And it’s the same thing everywhere, everyone knows that a problem exists and gets together to address the matter in an almost uncanny manner everywhere. There will be meeting and conferences attended by a few educators and a lot of panellists and spokespersons representing the government, there will be keynote speeches, power point presentations, food and recreational breaks, a media op towards the end with a promise to return soon for a revisit of this circus act.
But the woes that afflict education, the falling standards, incompetent & absentee teachers, the out of touch with reality syllabuses, which all contribute towards the mediocrity of the next generation who can’t be employed or can be counted upon to contribute towards the cause of nation building, are all but ignored and remains incurable in spite of the many ‘ideas’ that sprout out of such aforementioned educational meetings.
But this wasn’t the case with our education sector in the past; we’ve had some pretty bright and impressive centres of learning imparting knowledge in such a detailed and disciplined manner that it would leave today’s teaching administrators tongue tied and embarrassed with their supposed ‘modern’ ways. One among the jewels in the advanced centres of learning of the past was the Takshashila University in ancient India. In its hey days it was more famous and known for its teaching prowess than all of today’s top universities put together. It used to host students from all parts of the world who could specialize in over sixty four areas of study ranging from learning about philosophy and literature to warfare, astronomy and decryption of ancient languages. Students who got admitted on merit, once they graduated would pass out as world renowned scholars with in depth knowledge in their elected subject of choice.
In author Ariffa Bevin’s novella, ‘Kingdom of The Sun’, we are introduced to such a Kingdom called Sooryan that was famed for its education and knowledge imparting institutions, a Kingdom founded and built upon the belief that education and its teachers are the key to a successful and triumphant kingdom. Although Sooryan achieves its goal of becoming a powerful kingdom, the principles on which it was built soon starts rusting as they are ignored with the passage of time and the coming and going of new leaders. This inertia soon finds Sooryan facing all sorts of political, cultural and financial turmoil. And with a new queen Delilah who appears to be too blind with power or ignorant of the ground situation and refuses to take the help of the Scholars and the Scholar Apprentices to rectify the rotting education system, the occasion appears ripe for a change. This is when Helena, one of the Scholar Apprentices decided to fight back, takes on the entire establishment and faces the many hardships and pains it bring forth, Helena manages to bring actual change that everyone wanted but lacked the courage or conviction to go and do on their own.
Kingdom of the Sun honours the many educators and administrators toiling away behind the scenes, working tirelessly, facing many hurdles and mounting insurmountable hardships and more often than not for very small victories and successes. And yet they continue to do so, carry on with the many numerous battles, because only someone who cares or tries to bring in change will ever know the supreme satisfaction and happiness that you get when you see your work bring in the change that you set out to achieve.
You need to get past only a couple of pages to realize that it a good place from where the author Ariffa Bevin writes and that her intentions are very much sincere.Bevin’s fantasy world is an allegorical, exposition filled narrative that resembles our world in on so many different levels. The messages, ideas and thoughts that she conveys through her main character Helena are thought provoking and makes you want to question the systems in place today that prevents our younger generation from getting the education that they deserve. Some of the lines clearly denote that this isn’t just another story that the author narrates but is a subject that is very close to her heart and something that she cares for deeply. Helena makes some very specific noise on the impact of unbridled use of technology, especially among the youth and the negative effect that rapid industrialization and globalization has on our society, from making everyday living easy and comfortable to how it has started to make us lazy and lethargic.
I recommend Kingdom of the Sun to anyone who still believes that a single person’s determination and courage can bring about gargantuan change in our society that will benefit all. The story will appeal to all who believe in the power of change; Ariffa Bevin’s sincere voice carries through her choice of words and the world she has created in Kingdom of the Sun and long after you’ve finished reading the book.
A little over a month ago, I had the honor of visiting my local high school and speaking with journalism students from three classes. The goal of my visit was to discuss my experience as an author and answer any questions that they may have for me. First off, it was very surreal to be back in that environment. I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed looking at these students and their teacher not only as an outsider but as someone who loves education. It was so fascinating to see what a teacher sees when a student expresses interest or when one or two of them in particular seem to have a certain something that makes them stand out from the rest.
Some of the most common questions I was asked is below:
1) Is your book a reflection of your life and/or current events in time?
Yes and No. Kingdom of the Sun tells the story about a modern-day kingdom that is struggling with many of the political, economic, social, and educational issues that other countries are currently facing. So, in a way, the book is symbolic of those issues and how I think they should be solved. Particular situations in the novella are mostly made up, while others may or may not be based off of real life events in my life or someone else’s.
2) Are any of your characters based off of real people?
Many of the Scholars in my book are based off of the teachers that I have had in my life. It is my way of honoring them and all they have done.
3) Would you like your book to be a movie?
This is another “yes and no” answer. I have seen too many amazing books that have become awful movie adaptions, and it would just destroy me if my book was one of them. I’m sure that almost every author wants to see their work come to life, but for me, I would only want it done if I could have complete control over everything.
4) What was your writing process?
I told the students that when I wrote poetry, I always started with the last stanza or line before continuing the rest of the piece. With Kingdom of the Sun, I didn’t really have a plan in mind. The words just came as I wrote. The only thing I knew was the messages that I wanted to convey…and that I wanted the first word of the book to be “Uh.” 🙂
5) Did you ever think that you’d be an author?
I never saw myself writing a book, so this was definitely not planned. It was due to certain life-changing experiences that made me who I am today and gave me the fire and passion that I needed to write Kingdom of the Sun.
6) What’s one thing that you would change?
I would have definitely gotten an editor before handing out pre-released copies!
Thank you, Kyle, for reaching out to me and thank you, Mrs. Carey, for the wonderful opportunity of speaking to your awesome students. And thank you to your awesome students for listening to me! Part 2 of this experience will discuss the teaching style of student-centered learning.
Today, I decided to step outside my comfort zone and do something very different which is interview a character from my novella Kingdom of the Sun. His name is Scholar Abel Godfrey, a favorite character of mine because of what he represents and stands for. Enjoy!
Me: Thank you, Scholar Godfrey for joining me today! I am both honored and slightly embarrassed.
Scholar Godfrey (laughs): Why is that?
Me: Well, I did create you, so I feel like I’m talking to myself in a way.
Scholar Godfrey: If you created me, then how are you talking to yourself? Is there part of you in me?
Me: Well, no. Actually, you were my hardest character to create because of that. I guess that’s why you’re my second favorite. The others were either variations of myself or combinations of people that I have known or heard stories of.
Scholar Godfrey (smirks): Ja, is there or is there not part of you in me?
Me (pauses and thinks): I believe that we are part of each other. Although you do not possess some of my traits, you are what I want to be and represent. You were created from my passion and desire for true education… You are what I created. And I create what you are whenever I teach others through my words.
Scholar Godfrey (smiles wide and nods): De wa, Mrs. Bevin, it is also an honor to be here with you and part of you.
Me (smiles shyly): Thank you so much, Scholar. So, let’s start with the first question. How would you describe your teaching style?
Scholar Godfrey (leans back and folds his hands onto his lap): I would say it’s personalized and interactive. I enjoy getting to know my students and learning how to pick their brains and bring out the best in them. I don’t like simply talking or lecturing; rather, I enjoy interacting and talking with them and not to them.
Me: So, would you say there’s one certain way or method of teaching? And what I mean is, do you believe there to be one standard of teaching that all should abide by?
Scholar Godfrey: The only standard that a Scholar, teacher, or professor should abide by is the need, desire, and will, to fulfill your purpose which is to influence, inspire, and invigorate a life so much that when a student leaves your classroom, they leave brighter and stronger and the imprint of what you have done is with them forever.
Me: Beautifully said, Scholar. I’m sure our readers would love to know what it’s like to be educated in the kingdom of Sooryan.
Scholar Godfrey: The biggest difference in comparison to the American system is that the kingdom of Sooryan does not remove God from its schools and government. Sooryan’s education system is also structured to suit the needs of its people in a way that is practical, honest, and effective. For example, there is no purpose of a student taking four years of study for a trade like cooking or construction that is better served with hands-on experience in the field.
Me: Indeed. One of the many flaws with the American system is that it tells our students to go to college to receive a good job, and when they graduate, employers expect them to miraculously have the experience that is required.
Scholar Godfrey: Yes, that is what I understand.
Me: I have once described America’s teachers as unsung super heroes who are expected to do so much more than what should be asked of them. The pressure for them to conform to a system that forces them to treat students generically is unbelievable. What can you tell us about Sooryan’s Scholars?
Scholar Godfrey (glances at his gold robe): Our Scholars are like rays of light from the sun. We give hope, guidance, and warmth, and our people give us the same in return. The people of Sooryan are nothing without the Scholars, and the Scholars of Sooryan are nothing without our people. This is understood and recognized by all.
Me: So would you say that the Scholars are treated like royalty?
Scholar Godfrey (smiles softly and nods): Benar.
Me: Scholar, my absolute favorite quotes from you are “History is a powerful weapon,” “History and truth are not always one and the same,” and “There is always more than one story.” What you said rings so much truth in today’s world and time, and I get so frustrated with people’s inability to see that.
Scholar Godfrey: Well, I am not surprised. History is powerful weapon because of people’s inability to see it as one. Imagine the lives that would be changed if people would simply question…if all sides of a story were told.
Me: Sticking with the same topic, Scholar, may I tell you one of my life’s dreams?
Scholar Godfrey (chuckles and leans forward): Of course.
Me: I want to change the name of Columbus Day and call it something like “Native Peoples Day” or “Indigenous Peoples Day.”
Scholar Godfrey: In this life and the next, I think that would make bring honor to many.
Me (laughs): And make many upset as well! But that is all part what it means to light up the darkness.
Scholar Godfrey (laughs): Agreed. There are many in the dark who wish to remain there and keep others there with them.
Me: Then, let us continue to light up the darkness, Scholar.
Scholar Godfrey: I shall be with you all the way.
Me: Thank you so much for joining me today, Scholar Godfrey. And to my readers: peace and love.
It has almost been a year since I first started blogging and since then I’ve met many amazing bloggers, published my first book, and learned many, many things. There is one thing in particular that I am reminded of over and over: humility. And it is these experiences, one very special one in particular, that I would like to share with you today.
1) Because I was an English major in college, I assumed that Kingdom of the Sun would not need much editing. I had first treated it as a term paper in that I had assumed a read-through two or three times was enough. Four months and 150+ reads later, I was still making edits.
2) In an attempt to save money, I wanted to create Kingdom of the Sun’s book cover on my own. I read how-to manuals and watched instructional videos to no avail. There actually came a point where I was concentrating so hard on my computer screen as I was trying to make a perfect cut around the sun that my eyes started to water. That’s when I knew I needed help.
3) Back to number 1: Even though I had spent all those months self-editing my book, I had tried on numerous occasions to find a professional editor. However, I kept finding ones that were much too far out of my price range. So in an attempt to submit copies before the close of school for the summer, I read through the book again, made more edits, and sent out several copies. Two weeks later, I found out that there were still typos in the book. I sat down for the sixth time that year and tried with all my might to find a decently priced editor. I finally did.
4) Now for the special experience I mentioned. In the past month, I have been doing a lot of outreach for book reviews. There was one reviewer in particular who came off as very snotty and condescending, so I somewhat knew what was coming. After I received his response to my book, I was not shocked that he did not like it, but it was more of a shock that he was the first person that didn’t as well as the fact that this man sent me his response on Christmas Day. There was so much that was going through my mind and so much that I wanted to say, but my exact response was: “Thank you for taking the time! If you celebrate Christmas, I hope it was absolutely wonderful.”
Overall, these are the lessons that I have learned in humility:
1) I cannot do everything on my own.
2) I am not perfect.
3) No matter how many people will like my book, there will always be many that hate it.
4) No matter how rude, condescending, or disrespectful someone may and will be, always treat them with the kindness, compassion, and respect you wish they had.
So, why am I telling you these things? You see, I was never a fan of critiquing poetry. When I wrote poetry, I wrote from my soul because that was where the words freely, easily, and purely came from. I’m sure other poets and authors experience the same. So when it came to critiquing an author’s work, I could not help but feel like it was their soul that was being judged.
Throughout the years, I have met many people who were afraid to write or show off their work due to what others will say or think. There are people out there harboring fear of following their dreams due to failure or rejection. I am here to tell you that there is no need to be afraid because:
1) If you believe in yourself and all that you do, everything will most likely turn out okay.
2) There will always, without a doubt, be someone who will not like your work. Move on.
3) There will always, without a doubt, be someone who was touched or influenced by your work. Remember them.
4) If you are humble, patient, and kind, success will follow in the eyes of God, yourself, and others.
Do not be afraid. Write what’s in your soul.
Peace and Love,
Today is the last day that you can download a free copy of Kingdom of the Sun on Smashwords.com for your iPad, Kindle, Sony reader, and much more. All you have to do is enter the coupon code QW97R (promotion over) during Smashword.com’s checkout process.
For Today Only: I am providing a PDF version of Kingdom of the Sun for download absolutely free. This works well for those of you with or without an eReader. Just follow this link: (promotion over).
Peace and Love- Ariffa
For one full week, you will be able to download a copy of Kingdom of the Sun for any platform absolutely free! From December 1st to December 8th, you can download a free copy of Kingdom of the Sun on Smashwords.com for your iPad, Kindle, Sony reader, in PDF, and so much more. All you have to do is enter the coupon code QW97R during Smashword.com’s checkout process. All I ask is that you provide an honest review of the book on Amazon and/or Goodreads.com.
Kingdom of the Sun captures, discusses, and questions many of the themes that are very present on this blog: compassion, knowledge, truth in leadership and history, the definition of hope, honor, and happiness, and so much more. If you’re new to my blog or would like a reminder of what Kingdom of the Sun is about, please read a press release about it below!
“The goal of author is to give the readers something to walk away with, something to remember. I want to give mine new perspectives, new thinking, and most of all, hope, honor, and happiness.” This is what author Ariffa Bevin has to say about her recently published book, Kingdom of the Sun. The novella is about the modern-day kingdom of Sooryan that upholds and glorifies education and its teachers. However, as the kingdom grows older, these ideals become less of a significance and Sooryan falls into economic, educational, and political strife. The story begins with the reign of a new ruler that the protagonist, Helena, is extremely wary and untrustworthy of. Even though her societal position is an initial cause for hesitation, Helena attempts to fight for what many are afraid to make: change.
Bevin describes Kingdom of the Sun as a product of her anger and frustrations at society, leadership, education, and history. “I wanted to take their conventions, standards, and rules and crush them…destroy them,” she says. “And from that dust, I wanted to create something that should have always been: truth in words, truth in leadership, respect, and light. Kingdom of the Sun reflects the desire that most of us have to make a change, whether it is in the world or in our own lives, and how we may lack the strength or the courage to do it. The novella highlights the significance of what it truly means to be educated as well as the power that one can possess when they are. It questions what we may value as important and necessary, and challenges several societal conventions.”
Bevin states one purpose in writing the book as the desire to present questions and different view points that readers have never thought about before. She adds that she wanted to create characters and situations that everyone can relate to, which would thus make the book more personal to its readers. “That is why I made Sooryan a modern-day kingdom with modern-day issues that everyone can understand. My goal was to create a work that would be able to sheds lights of hope and inspiration in all my readers.”
I hope this book touches and inspires you all.
Peace and Love,
As authors, most of us have been asked the questions of “Why did you decided to write a book?” and “Why do you like writing?” Some of us have even asked these questions to ourselves. When I was younger, I have indeed thought much about the answers to these questions, even before they were presented to me. However, there was one moment, one experience in my life that has helped me to realize my purpose for writing that became even clearer when I wrote and completed my first book, Kingdom of the Sun.
In the 2011 film “Anonymous,” Edward de Vere is a playwright and the Earl of Oxford who finds his calling in writing poetry and plays. Due to the dishonor and shame attached with writing, he prevents his name from being associated with his works. The Earl’s plays become so loved and so popular that the audience one day demands to know the name of the author, and that is when a man named William Shakespeare falsely claims them.
There is a scene in the movie when Edward is confronted by his angry wife who asks him “Why must you write? Why must you continue to humiliate my family?” With great passion, Edward tried to explain to his disgruntled wife how moved the audience was by his works and how the voices in his head will not leave him and give him peace until they are written down. She then responded, “Are you possessed?”
This part of the movie ranks as one of my favorites because the smile on my face and the chills that ran through me signified something I understood and knew as truth on many levels. The first was how I understood Edward and felt angry with his wife for scolding him for his passion. This was not only because of the love and passion that I myself have for writing but also because I had been asked similar questions before: “You want to write?” “How can you make money on writing?” How fascinating it is for us to compare the stigma of being a writer in the Elizabethan period to now. And although much has changed, it is still striking to see the similarities.
At the time that I watched this film on DVD, I had just begun writing Kingdom of the Sun. I was at a point where the voices of my characters were not as clear as they used to be, and I had a bit of writer’s block. Watching Anonymous allowed me to realize that I was not alone in my passion and “insanity.” You see, watching this movie let me know that a good writer allows themselves to be “possessed” by their characters and that it was okay to not force myself to hear the voices again. And sure enough, it was not long after watching Anonymous that the voices came back to me, and I was once again happily and passionately “possessed.” Edward’s response to the question of “Why must you write?” seemingly was about the submission to the voices in his head but, oh, it was so much deeper. I believe the true answer is about fulfillment. Although, Edward received no recognition for his work, he was extremely moved and fulfilled by the reaction of the audience to his plays. And so, the answer to the question is not so much about simply submitting to the voices of our characters, but about fulfillment and purpose. Edward wrote to inspire, and he wrote to ignite lights of political change that became flames which fueled his passion and purpose even more when he saw their effect.
Why must you write? What fulfills you in your writing? What is the purpose and goal of your works? If your book touched only one person, would you be fulfilled even if you received no recognition or financial gain? When I wrote Kingdom of the Sun my goal and purpose was and still is to give my readers hope, honor, and happiness through the book’s characters and themes. I want them to feel hopeful in situations that are hopeless. I want them to see the honor in themselves and others. I want them to discover, and perhaps rediscover, the joy and happiness in life and what true enlightenment and knowledge can give. And at the same time that my readers would gain this from my work, the same would happen for me. When I am able to see the hope, honor, and happiness that my book has given, I receive it myself. I feel hopeful that my words have indeed changed and inspired someone and honored that someone has actually taken the time to read them. Most of all, I gain the happiness of sharing my words and ideas with another person and influencing them in a positive way.
When discussing Kingdom of the Sun’s future, people often base its success on the royalties I receive. I was once asked about what I wanted to accomplish with my work. I said I wanted to sell a million copies and beyond. That is not because of the money but because of the millions of lives that I have a chance of reaching and inspiring with my words. I think many authors would agree that this is true success and fulfillment.
I cannot see any other purpose in my writing than for the readers to take what I am trying to give them and use it to make a change in themselves and the world. I want to be able to describe the effects of my work with passion and excitement as Edward did when he described the same emotions that his plays aroused. I want to feel the accomplishment and fulfillment he experienced when knowing that the purpose of his works had been achieved. I want the same for myself because I believe that I am only as great as the impact that my words and life have on others. And so, I ask you: “Why must you write?” I do not mean, “Why do you write?” but “Why must you write? What is it that propels you, possesses you, and calls you to the written word?”
Source: Anonmyous. Dir. Ronald Emmerich. Perf. Rhys Ifans, Vanessa Redgrave, Sebastian Armesto, Rafe Spall, David Thewlis, and Edward Hogg. Anonymous Pictures, 2011. Film.
Peace and Love,
Today, for a full 24 hours, you have the chance to listen to me on a radio talk show called The Authors Show where I discuss Kingdom of the Sun, my goals in writing, and my passion for it.
I believe writing to be a powerful tool of communication, and radio can have the same affect as well. So, it brings me great happiness and honor to say that I hope my voice can reach you all.
Peace and Love,
What is the goal and purpose of an author? To sell millions of books? To make an impact?
As an author myself, the answer to this question was in my mind and heart even before Kingdom of Sun was written. Find out how I answer it in Kingdom of the Sun’s book feature on indiebookpromo.com here.
Peace and Love,