Why Defy isn't The End

*Warning: This Post Contains MAJOR Spoilers for the end of Defy. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED*

DO NOT KEEP READING IF YOUR HAVEN’T READ DEFY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Okay, you’re still here? Either you’ve read Defy or you are ignoring all the warnings.

As many of you have heard already, I’m currently writing The Blades of Acktar book 4. Some of you might be a little confused. After all, the big bad guy got defeated at the end of Defy. What more is there left do to?

Well, here’s my four reasons for why I decided to write a book 4:

  1. Martyn didn’t die. In my original plan for Defy, he was supposed to die in the end battle saving Leith. But when it came time to write that scene, Leith realized what was going to happen and shoved Martyn out of the way. So I now had a live Martyn on my hands that I had to deal with.
    • After thinking about it for a while, I realized my characters were smarter than me. After all, the whole, ex-best friend makes a last minute decision to turn good and saves his friend before dying is a little cliche. (See Harry’s death in Spiderman 3)
    • Besides, an alive ex-best friend is a whole lot more complicated than a dead one. Having Martyn die would’ve been the easy way out. He and Leith wouldn’t have to deal with the consequences of their decisions throughout the first three books. Leith could simply move on. But with Martyn alive? Let’s just say the tension between everyone is SO much fun to write!
  2. Leith needs to figure out what happens AFTER. One of the main questions throughout the series has been “Can Leith move on from the Blades? Can he do anything else? What does he do after the war? Where does he fit in a peaceful Acktar?”
    • I could’ve ended it with Defy. You know he’s going to figure something out, but it would leave that question unanswered. I know some readers love unanswered questions like that in an ending. Personally, I’m one of the ones who wants to know the answers to things like that, especially if the author has made a big deal about it.
  3. Leith and Renna’s relationship still has a long way to go. If you add up the time they actually spend together during Dare, Deny, and Defy, you’ll realize that that week in the dungeon counts as their first real, quality time together. Due to the circumstances of thinking one or both of them would die, their relationship progresses quickly in that week. BUT, they are just BEGINNING their relationship. They have pretty much agreed to finally start dating at the end of Defy.
    • Once again, I could’ve left it as is. You know where they are headed. But, they are the main couple of the book. Defy ends with more obstacles in their path than they even realize (she’s still a lady and Leith doesn’t fit with that world. He’s still an ex-Blade. They both have no clue what they are doing when it comes to a relationship). I felt their time building a relationship also needed to be told.
  4. Acktar is a mess. Most of the time, books don’t show what happens after a major war tears the country apart. We don’t see the rebuilding of Hogwarts. We don’t see Panem trying to build a new government. There’s so much hurt and bitterness in Acktar and in its new king. I wanted to explore what it takes for Acktar to either begin healing or tear itself apart, whichever comes first.

Healing and restoration is really the theme of book 4. All of the characters (Martyn, Keevan, Leith, Renna, Brandi) have some healing to do. The whole country needs healing.

Over all, my planned ending for Book 4 will bring the characters and the country to a place where they are truly ready to begin the next chapter, even if the series comes to a close.

What do you think? Are you excited for Book 4? Or do you honestly think Defy should’ve been the end? Don’t worry, I won’t get mad if you do. 😉


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Fan Art Contest Winners!

Before I announce the winners, I want to once again congratulate everyone on their submissions! Thirteen people sent in a total of 28 different submissions! Wow! I was amazed to have so many of you send in such creative pieces! Even if you didn’t win, I loved each and every one of them.

I’ve already emailed all of the winners. If your name is listed below, you might want to check your email. 😉

Prizes: 2 $5 Gift Cards just for entering, choice of Dare, Deny, or Defy ebook for the winners of the different categories, and choice of signed Dare, Deny, or Defy paperback for the winners of the Fan Favorite and Author’s Favorite awards.

Winners of the $5 Amazon Gift Cards

For those who entered the fan art contest, I held a drawing for a total of 2 Amazon gift cards.

Winners: Jessica Witt and Moko Kai

Photo Category

The voting on this category was EXTREMELY close. It kept going back and forth between a couple of photos, but in the end, the below photo pulled away by a slim margin.

Winner: Adri Ray – Photo 1

Adri Ray - Photo 3

Fiction Category

I’m not sure how everyone managed to pick a favorite in this category! I was glad this winner was chosen by voting, because I never would’ve been able to choose!

Winner: Blades of Acktar Fanfiction by Rebekah Jewett

If you’d like to read it again to refresh your memory, click here.

Video Category

So many great videos! In the end, one video managed to pull ahead of the others.

Winner: Dare Book Trailer – Rose Knight

Drawing Category

I loved so many of the drawings in this category! You guys are all so talented!

Winner: Leith and Vane – Hannah Rogers

Leith and Vane


 

Now, on to the two grand prizes: Fan Favorite and Author’s Favorite!

Fan Favorite Award

To determine the Fan Favorite, I had all of your enter your top three. I then dumped the result in Excel and averaged the rank of each entry. You guys made a great choice, because Hannah’s artwork is amazing!

Winner: Leith and Vane – Hannah Rogers

Author’s Favorite

Like I’ve said, I loved all of the submissions. It was so hard to choose just one for this prize! In the end, I decided to choose a submission that I adored, but it hadn’t already gotten a prize.

Winner: Scene from Dare – Hannah Rodes

Once again, congratulations to everyone! Thanks for your enthusiasm for The Blades of Acktar and for making this contest so amazing to look through!


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Contest Results & Book Signing Memories

I could be mean and wait until the end of this post to announce the winners of the Name That Character contest. But, I’m not.

You all came up with such great names! It was sooooo hard to choose! 33 different people submitted names! Wow!

General GENERALS NAME shall henceforth be known as General Uriah Stewart. 

Congratulations to Emily Drown for the name Uriah and Addyson Huneke for the name Stewart.

Honorable mentions are Chloe L. for the names Tavish and McLain, and C.B. Cook for the name McGowan.

HE WHO MUST BE NAMED shall henceforth be known as Ian McCrae. 

Congratulations to Amy K. for the name Ian (she also came up with the name Tavish) and to Valerie S. for the name McCrae.

Honorable mentions are Jesseca Wheaton for the name Dunn and Josie Ophoff and Sierra Faith, who both came up with the name Jotham.

Congrats to all the honorable mentions and winners! And thank you everyone who entered! I’m definitely keeping this list of names, so you never know when I might use it again.


 

This past Saturday, I went to Indiana for a book signing, meet & greet, and book talk. About 20 people, both kids and adults, showed up. I had a great time chatting with everyone. I even managed to sound somewhat intelligent while answering questions. I doubt any of the kids getting their books signed realized that I was just as terrified to talk to them as they were to talk to me.

One of the questions I was asked was what books to I recommend. I should’ve been prepared, but I wasn’t completely. So here’s a better list:

My top 7 recommended Christian YA books

  • The Ilyon Chronicles by Jaye L. Knight. So far, 2 books and a novella are out, and book 3 releases in May. I already had the chance to beta-read it, and it’s amazing. 🙂
    • Genre: fantasy
    • Magic: None
    • Spiritual Content: Very well done and doctrinal sound. The Christian aspects are not so much allegory as a mirror of our own world.
    • Sexual Content: None besides a few hints at what men can do to vulnerable young girls. It is tastefully dealt with.
    • Violence: Some fight scenes. A few executions. Mild torture. Nothing above PG13 level violence.
  • The Makilien Trilogy by Molly Evangeline. This is actually the earlier pen name of Jaye L. Knight. This trilogy has more of an allegorical, basic good vs. evil feel to it.
    • Genre: fantasy
    • Magic: None
    • Spiritual Content: Well done. Mostly focuses on belief in God and trusting God through hard times.
    • Sexual Content: None
    • Violence: Some fight scenes and large scale battles. Mild torture. Nothing about PG13 level, though most of it isn’t above PG.
  • Out of Time series by Nadine Brandes. The first two books are out and the third book releases in October. I can’t wait. 🙂
    • Genre: dystopian
    • Magic: none
    • Spiritual Content: Well done. Focuses on pursuing God with the time you’ve been given and finding peace in God.
    • Sexual Content: Nothing besides a kiss, some mentions of attraction between a girl and boy, and one childbirth scene (tastefully dealt with).
    • Violence: This is a very intense book. The author recommends 14 and up, depending on the maturity of the reader. There are some maiming, deaths, intense action scenes, explosions, etc. Still, nothing is too graphic and sticks in the PG14 level.
  • Follower of the Word series by Morgan Busse.
    • Genre: fantasy
    • Magic: Yes
    • Spiritual Content: Pretty well done. The spiritual aspect is very much an allegory. I might not agree with everything, but the allegory really helped me think about the nature of Christ’s sacrifice.
    • Sexual Content: a clean PG13 level. One character is sold as a female slave and given to a guest for “entertainment” (but nothing happens). Past, impure actions are mentioned. It is all tastefully done.
    • Violence: PG13 level violence. Some battle scenes and violence like that.
  • The Bailey Baxter series by Kim Moss. A sweet, contemporary series that deals with the problems of a young girl growing up in a small town.
    • Genre: contemporary
    • Spiritual Content: pretty well done. There isn’t much spiritual aspect in the first book, but as the main character grows in her faith, the spiritual content of the books grow as well.
    • Sexual Content: some kissing. The fourth book has a few more mature themes since the main character is now graduating high school, but it is still clean and very tastefully done.
    • Violence: Very little.
  • Legends of the Woodlands by Angie Brashear. An allegorical fantasy series.
    • Genre: fantasy
    • Magic: Yes
    • Spiritual Content: fairly well done. It is very allegorical, so sometimes the spiritual part can be difficult to detect in the story part, and I don’t always agree with all the spiritual aspect part, but it is still a very encouraging and uplifting series.
    • Sexual Content: Clean. Some kissing. A lot of attraction between characters. This series is heavy on the romance part, though the romance is clean.
    • Violence: PG13. Some battles scenes and executions.
  • Tales of Goldstone Wood by Anne Elisabeth Stengl. A very dense, old-style fantasy-allegory.
    • Genre: fantasy
    • Magic: Yes
    • Spiritual Content: Well done. It is the type of series where each time I read it, I get more out of it. It is allegorical, so sometimes the the spiritual part can be hard to detect from the fantasy part.
    • Sexual Content: None
    • Violence: Some violence, but not much.

There are many more, but perhaps I’ll have to save those for another blog post. 🙂


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Called to Speak Blog Hop

I’m proud to be part of the Blog Hop promoting A Time to Speak. Not only is this book amazing, but Nadine Brandes is a great friend who I was blessed to meet in person a few weeks ago. This hop is to spread the word about her new dystopian novel, A Time to Speak, releasing October 16th. It is also to encourage myself and others to speak out for things we are passionate about.

Hashtag-Called2Speak-5

I will speak out about Christian Young Adult speculative fiction.

I was that girl who read The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings and then…couldn’t find any other Christian fantasy to read. Because there wasn’t much available when I was growing up.

I read a lot of secular fantasy and science fiction. Some of it was really good. Some of it was junk. I stumbled into stuff that, looking back, I wish I hadn’t read. Because it wasn’t edifying. And it’s only gotten worse. Two of what were my favorite Young Adult fantasy authors went downhill with some of their recent books. I was so disappointed with one I didn’t even finish it and promptly returned it.

It took me years to pick up mainstream Christian fiction. The little I had picked up was boring to me. I’m the person who looks for action and adventure in a book. I’m the girl who didn’t read Pride and Prejudice until I forced myself to listen to a book on tape version a few years ago. I cheered when Lydia ran away with Mr. Wickham because FINALLY something happened.

The books by Dee Henderson and Marylu Tyndall finally showed me that not all Christian fiction was boring.

Then I got a free book by Jill Williamson and learned that Christian fantasy did exist. And it was a growing.

I’d found a new passion. I began writing my own Christian fantasy series. I began tracking down Christian fantasy authors to read. And when I started this blog, I added a fiction finder to tell other readers about all the Christian YA books I was discovering.

I’m not going to argue why fantasy. Many other people have argued that point much better than I can. And I understand that fantasy, science fiction, and other speculative genres are everybody’s thing. Then again, neither is romance. There’s a place for both.

I’m speaking about Christian fantasy, science fiction, dystopian, etc. While secular books in those genres can be very well written and a Christian can sometimes see things like good vs evil, no book can touch a Christian’s heart like a Christian book.

A secular dystopian like The Hunger Games ends without hope. A Christian dystopian like A Time to Die breathes hope. That’s the difference.

Yes, I can read secular works. I’m not saying Christians must only read Christian books. I believe in being widely read.

But, the older I get and the less time I have, the pickier I become with the books I read. Since I have limited time, I look for books that edify as well as entertain. I look for books that help me grow in my faith, not detract from it.

For me, the speculative genres, especially fantasy, are the ones that touch my heart the most.

I’m calling for my fellow readers to wake up and support the growing Christian speculative market. Not just because I’m one of those authors. But because I know a lot of teenagers, young adults, and adults who are reading secular speculative works, but not Christian speculative fiction. Perhaps they don’t know there are Christian speculative fiction books out there.

I’m going to do all I can to change that. If you want a book recommendation, I have it. I have a whole list.

And here’s one recommendation to start: the Out of Time series.

ATimetoDieCov

How would you live if you knew the day you’d die?

Parvin Blackwater believes she has wasted her life. At only seventeen, she has one year left according to the Clock by her bedside. In a last-ditch effort to make a difference, she tries to rescue Radicals from the government’s crooked justice system. 

But when the authorities find out about her illegal activity, they cast her through the Wall — her people’s death sentence. What she finds on the other side about the world, about eternity, and about herself changes Parvin forever and might just save her people. But her clock is running out.

A-Time-to-Speak-Nadine-Brandes

What happens when you live longer than you wanted to? 

Parvin Blackwater wanted to die, but now she’s being called to be a leader. The only problem is, no one wants to follow.

The Council uses Jude’s Clock-matching invention to force “new-and-improved” Clocks on the public. Those who can’t afford one are packed into boxcars like cattle and used for the Council’s purposes.

Parvin and Hawke find themselves on a cargo ship of Radicals headed out to sea. What will the Council do to them? And why are people suddenly dying before their Clocks have zeroed-out?

A-Time-to-Speak-FB-Party-Blog-Hop-Pic

To celebrate the release of A Time to Speak, Nadine is hosting a Facebook party!

And a Rafflecopter giveaway!

If you want to see what other bloggers are speaking out about, here is the list of the rest of the bloggers:

9.28.15 – Gretchen Engel
9.30.15 – Nadine Brandes
10.01.15 – Jason Joyner
10.05.15 – Gretchen Engel (part 2)
10.06.15 – Tricia Mingerink
10.08.15 – Gretchen Engel (Scriblerians)
10.09.15 – Emilie Hendryx
10.11.15 – Janeen Ippolito
10.12.15 – Zachary D Totah
10.14.15 – Brittany Valentine
10.15.15 – Andrew Swearingen
10.17.15 – Megan Besing
10.19.15 – Angel Roman
10.20.15 – Charles Franklin
10.21.15 – Lisa Godfrees
10.23.15 – Shantelle Hannu
10.27.15 – Natalie Walters
10.29.15 – The Artist Librarian
11.02.15 – Rosalie Valentine
11.17.15 – Amanda Fender

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Posted in Book Recommendations, Writing Blogs, YA Authors and tagged , , , , , , , by with 17 comments.

My First ACFW Conference

ACFW Conference

Over the weekend, I joined almost 500 writers, editors, and agents at the annual American Christian Fiction Writers conference in Dallas, TX.

Besides being my first time flying and/or traveling alone, I was a little panicked about what a writers’ conference would be like. Would the people I met online be as nice in person? Should I hug them or not? Will I even have the courage to speak to anyone? And many writers’ blogs talk about going away from their first conference feeling like they knew nothing about writing. Would I feel that way?

Nadine and I get a couple of pictures in while waiting for dinner.

Nadine and I get a couple of pictures in while waiting for dinner.

I shouldn’t have worried. That first night after dinner, I turned around to Nadine Brandes calling my name and giving me a hug before I even had to think about whether or not to hug her. It was the first of many hugs. 🙂

I also got lots of hugs from my fellow author and prayer warrior Angie Brashear, but we missed getting any pictures together.

I met Gillian Bronte Adams, author of Orphan's Song. I absolutely love her book, and I was hiding my fangirl squealing when I met her.

I met Gillian Bronte Adams, author of Orphan’s Song. I absolutely love her book, and I was hiding my fangirl squealing when I met her.

I met several other new friends who I plan to keep in touch with. Besides a few moments of panic or trembling hands, I didn’t experience most of my normal social anxiety. Perhaps it was the confidence of being in a room full of writers where I didn’t have to pretend to be normal. Maybe it was the freedom of telling people I’m a writer as the first thing they know about me instead of one of the last. Above all, it was an answer to a prayer.

While I learned a few things from the writing workshops, I didn’t learn as much as I thought (or feared) I would. No panicked realization that I knew nothing of writing. In fact, what I did learn was that I knew more than I thought I did. I learned a lot from writing and editing Dare. Yes, I have stuff to learn yet. There’s always more to learn. But a lot of what I need to work on is applying the things I do know consistently.

While I was nervous for my critique with Jeff Gerke, I shouldn't have worried. After bonding over a shared love of Mountain Dew, the rest of the critique went by quickly.

While I was nervous for my critique with Jeff Gerke, I shouldn’t have worried. After bonding over a shared love of Mountain Dew, the rest of the critique went by quickly.

I was really disappointed that it was over so quickly. Next thing I knew, I was packing my bags and slipping out of the hotel for my airport terminal.

Once on my plane, still high from whatever streak of courage that got hold of me all weekend, I turned to the lady sitting next to me (something I never do) to strike up a conversation. She was a young mother, her chubby cheeked kid sitting on her lap, her husband in the seat on the other side of her.

Every mother likes to talk about her kid, right? So I asked, “How old is he?”

She gave me this cold look. “She is a girl.”

Oops. Guess my socially inept self was going to make a reappearance sooner rather than later. I’ll go read my book now.


Posted in Writing Life, YA Authors and tagged , , , , , , , , , , by with 6 comments.

Fun Fiction Friday – Waking Beauty

Today’s book Waking Beauty is one that I was excited to read from the moment I saw it in Enclave’s release line up. I was even more excited after I attended the Facebook release party that Sarah Morin and Morgan Busse co-hosted to celebrate their releases Waking Beauty and Heir of Hope.

About the Book

What would happen if the Sleeping Beauty refused to wake up?

This rescue isn’t going at all how he planned. Secondhand hero Prince Arpien intends to gain a throne and the Sleeping Beauty’s heart with a single kiss when he wakes her from the evil fairy’s curse. But kissing the princess is only the beginning of a series of unforeseen obstacles: man-eating bugs, deadly spindles, talking lapdogs, and fiery pickles. The Sleeping Beauty is the biggest complication of all.

Princess Brierly is Beautiful and fairy-Gifted, but also . . . daft. After one hundred years of sleep imprisonment, Brierly refuses to believe this rescue is anything more than a tantalizing but doomed dream.

Arpien is drawn to the vibrancy beneath Brierly’s indifferent exterior. Can they reclaim her kingdom? Do they dare trust in the Prince of the old tales to help them battle the evil fairy who cursed Brierly? What is the price of waking beauty?

This is not the story of an innocent damsel-in-distress or her cardboard rescuer. It is a full coming-of-age struggle in a world where truth shifts as often as dreams.

About the Author

SarahMorin0025

Sarah E. Morin has three great passions in life: God, books, and working with young people. She has written articles and poetry for local publications and international periodicals in the museum field. Her dramatic works range from a musical about Susan B. Anthony to fairy tale poetry. She enjoys performing her work, especially pieces that allow her to dress up in her queen costume.

Sarah E. serves as Youth Experience Manager (kid wrangler) at an interactive history park. Her 100 youth volunteers are her best consultants in the fields of humor, teenage angst, and spinning wheels (which, they assure her, are not hazardous to anyone but Sleeping Beauty).

My Recommendation

This book was not what I expected. At all. When it arrived, I opened the box to find a tome rather than a slim novel as I’d been expecting (if I’d checked the page count before hand, I would’ve realized it is 480 pages long).

This is an epic, not a quick, easy-read fairy tale.

The beginning was a little slow for me. The writing style reminded me a lot of Lewis Carroll (think Alice in Wonderland or the poem The Jabberwocky). There are a lot of made-up words and things that the reader has to figure out as they go along as well as a number of long strings of titles such as Peerless Prince, etc. It’s a style that evokes an older, whimsical style of writing. It is fun writing, but a little difficult to get into until you get used to it.

Besides the writing, the story also unfolded slowly. Each piece of the puzzle was revealed after the characters do a lot of character-stuff and character reflection. Overall, I’d rate this as a very, very character-driven novel rather than plot-driven. As a plot-driven reader, I felt like it could’ve been trimmed a little bit, especially in the beginning when (to me) it felt like the characters weren’t accomplishing anything for several chapters.

But once I reached the end? It was worth it. Totally. Once the action started happening, it drew all the pieces together. The three different POV characters all had their own role to play in the ending, and it had a few twists that I wasn’t expected (and a few I was).

While I liked all three characters, Nessa was my favorite. Probably because she is the most straightforward of the three POV characters. While the POV switched between Arpien, Brierly, and Nessa, I was never confused by whose head I was in. They all have very distinct voices.

My favorite part of the book was the theme of dreams vs. reality. While Brierly is the one that refuses to believe she is actually awake and not still stuck in dreams, she isn’t the only one who is stuck in delusions. In a way, all the characters have their own delusions, their own Dreams, that they need to wake from in order to find Reality. It made me think about what I might be deceiving myself with and what thorns I might be clinging to because I believe I’m strong enough to handle them on my own.

Have you read Waking Beauty yet? Or is it on your TBR list?


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Amazing Grace Blog Tour – Book Spotlight

AG Blog Tour Graphic

This spotlight is going up a little later than I meant to. A crazy weekend (fun, but crazy) meant I barely turned my laptop on the entire weekend.

While I have yet to read any of Faith Blum’s Hymns of the West, she graciously was a part of my blog tour for Dare. I also recently learned she’s a big Louis L’amour fan, so now I have to check out her books. 😉

So without further ado, here is a spotlight on Faith Blum’s recent release Amazing Grace.

AG About the Book

Caleb hurried to the post office. He had to get in and out before his sister finished at the general store. “Any mail for the Stuarts?” he asked the postmaster.

The postmaster took a lazy look at him over the top of his eyeglasses and gave a heaving sigh as he turned around to check. “Yep. Somethin’ from Ohio and somethin’ from Montana.”

Tapping his foot, Caleb waited until the large man put the letters lazily in his hand. As he left he wondered why Anna had written someone in Montana and who she knew in Montana. It was really none of his business, but he was still curious. He folded the Ohio letter in half and stashed it in his back pocket. It would get wrinkled, but at least Anna wouldn’t know about it.

 As Caleb struggles through some inner battles, he secretly starts a correspondence with a widow and her daughter. Their unabashed faith in God convicts him and increases his inner struggles.

Unable to find a steady job, Maggie places an advertisement to become a mail-order bride. Her daughter, Rachel, is her motivation and encouragement, but if Maggie doesn’t find a job or husband soon, Rachel might not survive through the next year.

Can Caleb learn to trust God despite his past? Can Maggie and Rachel hold onto their faith despite all their trials? What will happen when they meet in person?

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00TUJTWQK

Excerpt from the Book:

Rachel waited outside the schoolhouse with James while their teacher talked to John and Tobias. Neither of them spoke, even in sign language.

They waited almost a half hour before John stepped out the door.

“What happened?” Rachel asked. “Are you in trouble?”

“Nah,” John said. “He just told me to watch my attitude and I shouldn’t be so willing to pick a fight, even if I was defending a girl.”

Rachel let her breath go rushing out of her nose. “I’m glad. I wouldn’t have wanted you to get in trouble because of me.”

John looked at her with confusion in his eyes. “Even if I would’ve gotten into trouble, it would’ve been my own fault because I knew exactly what would happen when I stepped in. I would have gladly taken a punishment if it meant he wasn’t hurting you. Speaking of which, how’s your arm?”

Rachel shrugged. “I’ll live.”

“You should have your ma check it when you get home.” He looked up at the sky. “And you’d better hurry home before she starts to worry sick about you being so late.”

Rachel put her right hand to her hip and glared at John. “What are you trying to be? My conscience? Mum will be fine.” She spun on her heel and looked over her shoulder. “See you two tomorrow.”

John watched her stride away with her nose slightly in the air and grinned. It was so easy and fun to get her mad. He looked over at James who was staring at him. “What?” he asked.

“Why do you treat her like that?” James signed.

John’s grin grew. “I dunno. It’s fun. Race ya home!”

John waited two seconds to give James a head start before he tore off after his brother.

Faith with Rikki-croppedAbout the Author

An avid reader, Faith Blum started writing at an early age. Whether it was a story about the camping trip that summer or a more creative story about fictional characters, she has always enjoyed writing. When not writing, Miss Blum enjoys reading, crafting, playing piano, Captaining on the Holy Worlds Historical Fiction Forum and playing games with her family (canasta, anyone?).

As a history enthusiast who has been fascinated for years with the Old West, Faith has endeavored to create a clean, fun, and challenging Western story. Faith lives with her family on a hobby farm in the Northern Midwest, where she enjoys the many cats they have.

You can find Faith on her Website, Blog, Facebook, and Twitter

If you’d like to check out the rest of the tour (please do, all the interviews have been awesome!), here’s the tour schedule:

April 27………Faith Blum……………….Introducing the Tour

April 30………Jess Strong……………….Book Spotlight

May 4…………Annie Douglass…………..Character Interview

May 7…………LeAnne           Douglas…………Book Review

May 11……….Shanna Hatfield………….Character Interview

May 14……….Dee Strawbridge…………Book Spotlight

May 18……….Dawnita Fogleman………Book Review/Author Interview

May 21……….Elizabeth Kaiser…………Author Interview

May 25……….Emily Kopf………………Book Review

May 28……….Kathryn Fogleman……….Author Interview

June 1…………Raechel…………………..Author Interview

June 4…………Faith Blum……………….Novella Cover Reveal

June 8…………Carlene Havel……………Book Spotlight

June 11……….Amanda Tero……………Book Review/Author Interview

June 15……….Jaye L. Knight……………Character Spotlight

June 18……….Claire Banschbach………Author Interview

June 22……….Tricia Mingerink…………Book Spotlight

June 25……….Karilyn Putt………………Book Spotlight

June 29……….Morgan Huenke…………..Book Review/Author Interview

July 2…………Faith Blum………………..The Wrap Up


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Fiction Friday – Adventures and Adversities

Today’s Fiction Friday spotlight is Adventure and Adversities by Sarah Holman.

About the Book

One day Alditha is content living with her family, the next she is taking her friend’s place to serve at the king’s castle. Her father’s final instructions, to keep smiling and to do what is right, will be harder to live out than she ever imagined. She will face a royal nephew who delights in making people miserable, an angry servant girl who will stop at nothing to get what she wants, and noblemen who plot murder. Will she be able to keep the promise she made to her father? Will she find the faith she longs for during all her Adventures and Adversities?

My Recommendation

I got this book a while back on my kindle and didn’t get around to reading it for a while. When I did, I was browsing my kindle books and reading the first couple pages of a few books to see what one grabbed my interest. I’d already tested a few books and was prepared to do the same with this book. Then I realized it had been half an hour and I was already well into chapter five.

Although this book doesn’t have a ton of high action like most books I enjoy, it is very compelling. It has scenes of action sprinkled with day to day life of the main characters that is so well-written that I found myself unable to put the book down. Alditha, the main character, reminded me a lot of Anne of Green Gables or Elsie Dinsmore in that the other characters change because of her example. But, this doesn’t mean Alditha isn’t a dynamic character. She does change as she learns that trusting God doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be stoic. I really enjoyed that she was such an inspirational, motivating character. She’s such a good role model for readers, and it is rare to find a character than can both be a role model and interesting.

The setting is also interesting since it is set in a make-believe medieval kingdom, but still tied to real history and a real time period. The research was well-done, and I felt like I was actually living in Taelis with Alditha.

About the Author

Sarah Holman is a not so typical mid-twenties girl: A homeschool graduate, sister to six awesome siblings, and author of five published books and counting. If there is anything adventuresome about her life, it is because she serves a God with a destiny bigger than anything she could have imagined.

Have you read anything by Sarah Holman? Do you like characters that are role models?


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Fiction Friday – Mardan's Mark

I’m hoping to start a new feature on Friday’s where I showcase a book or series I’ve really enjoyed. It’s not a book review. More like my random, fangirl gushing about books I absolutely adore.

I’d like to start with Mardan’s Mark and Healer’s Curse by Kathrese McKee.

Mardan’s Mark

About the book

Srilani is second in line to the throne, and she’s always known what is expected of a princess — bring honor to her family and marry well. Aldan has been a pirate’s slave for as long as he can remember, and all he wants is to be free. The Twin Kingdoms have been sister nations for centuries, but now their unity and existence are threatened by enemies both inside and outside their borders.

After pirates abduct Srilani and her three siblings, they are stranded behind enemy lines and across the Great Gulf. As the eldest, Srilani is faced with the dangerous task of bringing her father’s heir home. She convinces Aldan and his two fellow slaves to share their journey to freedom. These unlikely allies — seven young captives — must defeat the web of lies, murder, and betrayal tearing the kingdoms apart.

My Recommendation

Read this book! Seriously! I heard lots of good things about it and was expecting a good book, and it still blew me away.

The characters are excellent. Srilani is a tough girl who can fight her way out of trouble but also has a vulnerable heart. Too many books and movies don’t get that balance. Either the girl is an almost heartless, kick everybody’s butt kind of girl or she needs saving all the time. Sometimes in Christian fiction, the tough girl is the one who needs to be softened until by the end of the book she’s totally given up her tough girl attitude. Srilani is none of those things. She both saves the guy and needs to be saved. She finds a way to be vulnerable but without losing her fighting edge.

Not only was Srilani awesome, but her male lead was also amazing! Aldan can hold his own with her and doesn’t fall into the helpless male sidekick stereotype.

Best of all, several of the other characters also got their own points of view in the book. The character voices were all distinct, so I was never confused.

I also adored the setting. Too many fantasy books fall into the trap of basing their setting only on Europe. It’s fantasy. It can be set anywhere. The setting in Mardan’s Mark is based off the Gulf Coast area of the United States, which gives it a flavor not found in many other fantasy novels.

Finally, the cultures of the different kingdoms are well-done. I could see parts of all kinds of cultures, but I never felt they were directly based off any one culture in the real world. The Christian aspect of the culture is well-done, and feels like an Old Testament kind of faith, which is neat.

Healer’s Curse

Healer's Curse About the book

Was this my curse? To lose everyone I loved?

What good is Elilan’s gift of healing if she can’t save those she loves? Elilan must risk failing once again or turn her back on her calling—and the stranger she’s learned to love—in Healer’s Curse.

My recommendation

After reading Mardan’s Mark, I wasn’t sure how Healer’s Curse could compete. The novella follows the events that are happening at home during the events of Book 1. I wasn’t disappointed. I could see how this novella was setting things up for book 2, but it also managed to be it’s own story. Elilan was strong like Srilani, but also vulnerable and I couldn’t help but root for her. And the main guy? Well, he gave Aldan a run for his money. I’m really looking forward to seeing all these characters together in the next book!

In the interest of full disclosure, I was given a copy of Healer’s Curse in exchange for my honest review/recommendation. I bought Mardan’s Mark myself.


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#Tell One Person

shout

Authors do a lot of things to get their book out there. They write blogs, hang out on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and any other social media site they can think of. They host giveaways. They beg for reviews of their book. While a lot of those things help, the single best way to get the word out there still is…

Word of Mouth.

Yep. Something the author has no control over except for writing an awesome book that readers will want to talk about.

That puts the real power behind marketing a book on you, the readers. You are the ones who make or break an author’s career. If you love an author’s book, then you are the one who can support them so they can write more books. This doesn’t have to be hard. Reviews are super helpful. Emails to the author are nice to let them know how much you liked the book.

But, if you can’t do anything else, the best thing you can do is simply tell one person. Just one. But tell them and tell them until they read it. Tell them to pass the word along. Beg them to tell just one person.

I found Jill Williamson’s Safelands trilogy a while ago and loved it. I told my sister-in-law about them and kept telling her until she read them. She loved the books so much that she passed them along to her sister and mom. She was so excited about the books she posted about them on a mom group on Facebook.

All because I told one person.

What about you? Who is going to be your one person? Can we start a trend going? #telloneperson Let’s see how many people we can reach if we simply tell one person and they tell one person and they tell one person.

Got a favorite author? What book are you going to tell a friend about today?


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