Turning Points – A Time to Rise Blog Tour

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I’ve been thinking a lot about turning points lately. It has been about two months since I posted on this blog, and most of that is due to stumbling across and purchasing a fixer upper house, moving, and making do without internet. A new house, a new turning point.

As I’ve posted about before, I’ve been into listening to history courses through the Great Courses lately. If you get them through Audible, they are pretty affordable. Recently, I listened to one on Turning Points in Medieval History, done by an English professor, not a history professor. Her perspective took on history as one big story, showing how each turning point isn’t a separate event standing all by itself, but interconnected with all the past turning points and influencing all the future ones. As a Christian, I could appreciate this even more because I believe the reason history is so interconnected and seems to be one story is BECAUSE it is one story. Christ’s story. God’s story.

Our own lives are also filled with turning points. Days and events that stick out to us as the moment something changed and set us on a new course. Often, these turning points are tragedy. But not always.

And sometimes, someone else’s turning point affects your own turning point.

Nadine Brandes has talked about several times how a turning point in her life started her on the path to writing her debut novel A Time to Die. In this novel, the main character Parvin experiences her own turning points when, with only a year left to live, she realizes she’s wasted her life, and she sets out to change that.

This was all a good three years before I even knew Nadine Brandes existed. I was partway through college, getting my degree in writing and dreaming about being a published author.

Fast forward a few years. I graduated college, was a year into a full time job, and was submitting a nonfiction manuscript I’d written and getting nowhere with it. I was frustrated that my dream of graduating college and having the time to write books hadn’t worked out. I felt like I had no time and would never have the time I wanted.

Honestly, I don’t remember what made me sit down and give myself a good shake from my pity party. One day, I realized that the reason I wasn’t a writer and wasn’t finishing books was that I was wasting time whining about my lack of time.

This was March 2014. That same month, I started writing Dare. Three months later, I had a completed book. I set it aside and started Deny.

During this time, I also turned my attention away from researching nonfiction publishing toward fiction publishing. I read blogs, books, articles. Traditional publishing. Self Publishing. All of it.

And this is where the turning point thing starts getting cool. I stumbled across Jill Williamson’s Replication as a free ebook. It was the first time I’d discovered the whole Christian speculative fiction world out there. I then went on to read her other books, and the Blood of Kings trilogy showed me that there was still such a thing as Christian fantasy besides Lewis and Tolkien.

Since I was researching publishing, I tracked down the publisher. It was Marcher Lord, right when it was transitioning to Enclave Publishing. I explored every inch of that website, and of course read the blog. Guess who had posted on the blog promoting the release of her debut book?

Yep, Nadine Brandes. nadine-early-release-2

The book sounded really cool, so I stalked her site. Learned she was an editor. Submitted Dare to her for editing. I was too late to officially join the blog tour for A Time to Die, but I unofficially joined it with a post of my own. It had to have been one of the first two or three posts I did on my blog, since I started my blog in August of that year, and that post is from September.

When I was finally able to read A Time to Die in October, Parvin’s realization of wasting time mirrored my own realization from a few months before. Wasting time. Waiting for something to plop out of the sky instead of actively pursuing God’s will.

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That idea of being active in pursing God’s will and glorifying Him stuck with me. It still resonated when, early in 2015, I sat down and had to decide how I should publish Dare. Traditional or indie? Through all my research, the indie route had tugged at me, but I wasn’t sure I dared do it. What did I really know? What if I messed all this up and Dare flopped and…and…

It was all my fear talking, and finally God made it clear indie was the route to go with these books. That moment I hit the publish button, I gave it all to Him. I’d sown the seed. The increase was His, no matter how large or small or whatever it might be.

But I wasn’t wasting time anymore. I was doing my best to actively pursue His will in a way I hadn’t before.

And He did bless the increase way beyond anything I had dreamed for that book.

Then the fall of 2015 came around. I was drained from the rewrites of Deny. Wondering if it would ever measure up to everyone’s expectations. Scared because everyone HAD expectations now, when they hadn’t with Dare.

Then A Time to Speak, Nadine’s next book, released. It was Parvin’s time to speak, to draw on the confidence of the lessons she’d learned in the first book. atimetospeak5

But it also pushed me to speak. To stop stuttering and stammering and hoping someone would change the topic when they asked about my books. To figure out how to keep giving it all to God now that this crazy ride was set in motion.

It’s strange to look back now and see how much a year and a half can change a person. In the year since publishing Dare and reading A Time to Die, I’ve become much more confident in how I interact with people. I’ve signed books at a craft sale. I spoke at a small Christian school. I’ve gone to two writer’s conferences and was able to relax instead of remain a bundle of introverted nerves in the corner. All of that confidence, those turning points, led to the turning point I started this whole post with: buying a house, moving. It wasn’t something I would’ve been ready to handle a year ago.

Looking back, I’m amazed at the way God used the turning points in my life to bring me to this point.

If I hadn’t gotten Replication as an ebook…

If A Time to Die hadn’t been releasing…

If I hadn’t stumbled across Nadine and found an editor and friend…

If A Time to Die and A Time to Speak hadn’t given me pushes when I needed them…

Would I have published Dare? Would I have gone to the writer’s conferences and made a whole bunch of writer friends?

And now, another turning point. A Time to Rise, the third and final book in the Out of Time series releases officially in 10 days, though Amazon is shipping it early if you want to order it now. You can read my review (also known as flailing fangirling) of the book here.

Yes, you all totally have the Out of Time series to thank, in part, for the fact that I ever published The Blades of Acktar.

Have you experienced turning points in your life? How have they affected you?

 

Want to connect with Nadine yourself? Because, after all, she’s an awesome human being.

Nadine is also the queen of Facebook parties, so you won’t want to miss the one she is hosting on October 18

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Want to check out the Out of Time series for yourself?

A Time to Die

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A Time to Speak

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A Time to Rise

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Adela’s Curse Cover Reveal

Today, I’m helping out Claire Banschbach reveal her cover to her upcoming release Adela’s Curse. Claire has been a great friend since I published Dare, and it’s great to see her releasing another book. If you head over to her blog today, you’ll find a list of all the other bloggers participating in the cover reveal and a link for a free prequel short story for Adela’s Curse.

Adelas Curse KINDLEAbout the Book

A witch and her master capture a young faery and command her to kill their enemy. Adela has no choice but to obey. If she does not, they will force the location of her people’s mountain home from her and kill her. To make matters even worse, the person she is to kill is only a man struggling to save his dying land and mend a broken heart.

Count Stefan is a man simply trying to forget the woman he loves and save a land crippled by drought. When a mysterious woman arrives at his castle claiming to be a seamstress, he knows she is more than she seems.

Adela enlists the help of Damian, another faery, to try and delay the inevitable. He insists she has a choice. But with the witch controlling her every move, does she?

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About Claire

Claire Banschbach was born and raised in Midland, TX, the fourth of eight children. She was homeschooled through high school and is now a proud member of the Texas A&M University class of 2014. She is currently working on her Doctorate of Physical Therapy at Texas Tech University Health Science Center. She continues to write in her spare time (and often when she doesn’t have spare time). She hopes her strong foundation in God will help to guide her writing.

She can be contacted through Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and her blog.

Reminder

This is your LAST DAY to enter the Name That Character Contest (details found here). You guys have come up with so many great names, I’m not sure how I’m going to choose!

Thank you to those who have already entered the Fanart/fiction/photo/video contest. You still have a little over two weeks to enter. I can’t wait to see what you all come up with!

 

A Look Back

I realized today that I haven’t blogged at all since Deny released. Not a good way to go about keeping up my social media presence.

At the beginning of December, my carpal tunnel syndrome started acting up again in my right wrist. I’m still not sure what set it off. You’d think spending 11 to 12 hours a day on the computer to get Deny out into the world would’ve caused problems, but it didn’t. But when I cut back my time on the computer to give myself a break, then it got bad again. So I cut out even more computer time (including blogging) until my wrist no longer hurt. Thankfully, the pain is gone now, so I’m back. 🙂

A New Year 2016

It’s the day after New Year’s, so it’s as good a time as any to look back and reflect. God did so many amazing things in my life this year, I’m still blown away. Especially once I started making a list.

This time last year, I had just finished writing three manuscripts for what I had called The Blades of Acktar. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with them or what publishing route God wanted me to pursue. I was waiting for my first professional edit to come back on Dare from Nadine Brandes, an editor I was just beginning to get to know. I’d just connected with Angie Brashear online and began pestering her with questions on indie publishing. And I’d just heard of Jaye L. Knight. I’d only had a blog for a few months, and I wasn’t even on Goodreads yet, much less most of the other social media sites.

Crazy, when I think about it. Now I have so many writing friends online I’m blown away. I connected with the wonderful Kim Moss through a book launch team we were on together. Angie Brashear became a prayer warrior who helped pray Deny into existence. I don’t know what I’d do without Nadine as a friend and mentor. And Jaye’s encouragement has been amazing. All the other bloggers and fellow authors who volunteered for my launch team: Claire, Shantelle, Hope, Alyssa, Abigail, Jessica, Gabriela. Sierra, my amazing critique partner who helped so much. All the fans who have contacted me or written reviews or simply interacted in some way on line. I can’t believe that a year ago, I didn’t really know any of you.

I now have two published book and a third in the process of publication. My three book series turned into four. Dare hit #1 on Amazon’s bestseller list for Christian Fantasy (sharing the list with such estimable writers as Jill Williamson, Jaye L. Knight, and Patrick Carr. Seriously never thought I’d see my books anywhere near theirs on a bestseller list!). Deny hit the #1 Hot Newest Release in Christian Fantasy for the first month after its release, and both Dare and Deny are still bouncing around in the top 20 on the Christian Fantasy bestseller list. I am so blown away by the response to these books.

I’m excited to see what God does with 2016.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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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Freestyle Writing Challenge

Michigan Woods Freestyle Writing Challenge

A little while ago, Lauren tagged me in the Freestyle Writing Challenge.

Here are the rules:

  1. Open a blank document.
  2. Set a stop watch or mobile phone timer to 5 or 10 minutes.
  3. Your topic is at the foot of this post. DO NOT SCROLL DOWN TO SEE IT UNTIL YOU ARE READY WITH YOUR TIMER!
  4. Once you start writing, do not stop until the alarm sounds!
  5. Do not cheat by going back and correcting spelling and grammar using spell check. (The challenge is only meant for you to reflect on your own control of sensible thought-flow and for you to reflect on your ability to write with correct spelling and grammar.)
  6. You may or may not pay attention to punctuation or capitals.
  7. At the end of your post, write down “No. of words = ____” to give an idea of how much you can write within the timeframe.
  8. Copy and paste the entire passage on your blog post with a new topic for your nominees, and copy / paste these rules along with your nomination (at least 5 bloggers).

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll admit that I broke #5. It’s such a part of my natural writing process to backspace when I want to change a word, phrase, or I type something wrong that I didn’t realize I was doing it until partway through the challenge. I still made a few typos that I didn’t go back and correct, so I mostly following the rules.

My topic was: Your two main characters from two different WIPs happen to meet. What are the circumstances? What happens? Which setting do they land in?

This presented a little bit of a problem. Currently, all of my WIP are in the same series. All the main characters already know each other.

Finally, I decided to use a main character from a manuscript I wrote with a friend of mine, who also happens to be one of my alpha readers. We started this manuscript back in 8th grade and completely deleted it and started over 3 times over the years.  Someday we hope to publish it but right now it continues to be an ongoing WIP.

One of the main characters, the Shadow, happens to be an outlaw who is tall, dark-haired and dark-eyed, amazing with knives, good with a sword, and decent with a bow and arrow (hey, I started writing this in 8th grade when clichés were cool).

When I started writing Dare, my friend and I joked around comparing Leith and the Shadow from the manuscript we’d written together. At first, I worried they were too similar, but all the re-writing I did on Dare made Leith into his own character. One of the things we talked about was who would win in a fight. The following couple of paragraphs is what we eventually decided:

Leith Torren Meets the Shadow

Leith blinked at the deep forest around him. What was he doing here? The trees, taller and broader than any in Acktar even in the depths of the Sheered Rock Hills, loomed far over his head. The leaves layered the forest floor beneath the sprouting saplings and ferns.

The forest was still. Quiet. Leith froze. If only Blizzard was here with him to alert him to trouble. But Blizzard seemed to have disappeared along with everything else familiar.

A movement caught his eye. Just a flicker. A shadow.

Something was there. Or someone. The hair on the back of his neck prickled. He drew his knives and crouched.

A man stepped from behind a tree, a knife in one hand, a sword in the other. Leith glimpsed a hint of movement and dove to the ground an instant before a knife thunked into the tree behind where he’d been standing.

Why did it have to be knife throwing? He rolled and lunged at his attacker. The other man stepped back and swung his sword at Leith.

Leith twisted to avoid the thrust, but the other man seemed to sense how he’d move. The sword grazed his side. Leith ignore it as he thrust one knife towards the man’s chest, his other knife coming up low and fast at the man’s stomach in a move that always caught a swordsman off-guard.

All swordsmen except this one. Leith’s attacker dropped his sword and grabbed Leith’s arm, deflecting the knife away from his chest. His other hand swept Leith’s strike at his stomach aside.

Moments later, a knife appeared in the man’s hand. He loomed a good foot taller than Leith. Leith barely had time to parry. The blow knocked his knife from his hand.

He reached for the second knife strapped across his chest. His hand met nothing by air and empty leather. Gone. How could his knife be gone? He’d only drawn two.

He reached for one of the knives in his boots but froze at the prick of steel under his chin.

“Don’t move.” The stranger’s black eyes glinted.

Leith’s gaze traveled down the length of the knife pressed against his chin. Down the gleaming blade and to the hilt gripped in the stranger’s fist. A hilt emblazoned with the initials LT.

His own knife. “How?”

The stranger raised one eyebrow. “I grew up on the streets. I learned a thing or two about picking pockets.”

* *

Yep, we eventually decided the outlaw the Shadow from our manuscript would defeat Leith. Mostly because the Shadow is more competitive, and I gave Leith a few more limitations.

Number of words: 406 words in ten minutes.

I’m going to leave this as an open tag. If you’d like to do the Freestyle Writing Challenge, here’s your topic: You and one of your main characters are locked in a dungeon. How do you try to escape?

Getting Caught Up and Infinity Dreams Blog Tag

Whew! It was quite a week last week. I finally finished my first big edit of Deny: The Blades of Acktar Book 2. The good news is that the book is now in the hands of my editor, critique partner, and early readers so they can all help me whip the book into shape. Another step closer to getting the book into your hands! I don’t have a firm release date yet, but hopefully I will soon.

While I was on vacation two weeks ago, Gabrielle Massman tagged me on the Infinity Dreams Award blog tag. I’m finally getting caught up on doing this tag.

The rules:

-Thank the person who nominated you.

-Answer their 11 questions

-Nominate 11 other bloggers and ask them 11 questions.

On to the questions:

Who is your favorite villain (either the one whom most love to hate or the one whom you actually cheer for)?

I love Rumpelstiltskin in the TV show Once Upon a Time.  The show does such a good job about showing why he became a villain and why he is so reluctant to let go of his villainy. It’s a constant tension while watching since you’re left wondering if he is really turning good or if he’ll go right back to the darkness. Actually, I love Once Upon a Time for character development on all their characters.

Do you have a favorite food, and what is it?

I have a confession to make. I love food. A lot. I love pizza and cookies and spaghetti and chocolate shakes and…well, you get the idea. I have a hard time picking a favorite food. It usually changes depending on what I feel like eating.

So if you had to choose one element (fire, water, air, or earth), which one would you choose and why?

One of my best friends and I actually wrote a book together where each of our main characters had element magic. Hers was fire and mine was metal (which isn’t one of the four main elements, but hey, I’m a writer. I take the creative approach). We laugh, because in real life, those are exactly the elements both of us would pick.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?

I live in Michigan, and I absolutely love it. I love winter and I love the deep woods. If I didn’t leave in Michigan, I’d probably want to live somewhere out west, probably in the mountains.

Who is your favorite supporting character (movies, TV, or books)?

Wow, this is a broad question. Since I’m re-listening to The Chronicles of Narnia on book-on-tape right now, I’m going to have to go with Reepicheep. He is a blast to read about/listen to, and I love his unwavering devotion to Aslan. His dedication to honor can sometimes be problematic, but King Caspian wouldn’t have gotten anywhere without Reepicheep, especially on The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

What is one interesting or weird quirk about you?

I talk to myself. All the time. Especially when I grocery shopping by myself. I remind myself about the list. I debate out loud over which deal is best, and I either talk myself into impulse buys or I try to talk myself out of it. I probably look (and sound) a little crazy. The other shoppers tend to give me a wide berth for some reason.

What is your favorite topic to learn about?

History. My whole family is history geeks. On our recent vacation, I dragged my friends through a small Civil War site just because I couldn’t bear to pass by it without stopping.

I think all of you write, so who is your favorite character that you have created?

Really? I have to choose? Fine.

One of my favorite characters I’ve ever written is in an unpublished manuscript. But Leith also holds a very special place in my heart, so it is hard to choose between them.

If you could bring one person from the past to the present, whom would you bring?

C.S. Lewis. ‘nough said.

You can jump into any one fictional world. Which one would you choose?

Narnia. Any surprise there? Years ago, I even dreamed once that I was about to embark on the Dawn Treader. But I woke up before I actually got to set foot on the ship, and I never dreamed that dream again, which was disappointing.

What is your favorite drink?

Mountain Dew. Hands down.

I’m going to leave this as an open tag for anyone else who wants to do it with the same questions.

7/7/7 Writing Challenge

Power of Words

I was nominated by Lauren Gunter to participate in the 7/7/7 Writing Challenge. It looks like fun, and I think you all will enjoy it!

The rules of the 7/7/7 Challenge are:

  • Go to page 7 of your WIP
  • Scroll down to line 7
  • Share the next 7 sentences in a blog post.
  • After the excerpt, tag 7 other writers to continue the challenge.

I’m actually working on three works-in-progress right now. Um, yeah. Not doing too great on my whole stick to one project until I finish it resolution. In my defense, all the projects are at least in one series. That’s an improvement from where I was at a few years ago.

Currently, I’m editing Deny (Book 2), writing the first draft of Book 4 (title yet to be released), and *drum roll* I started on a prequel short story that I hope to release as an ebook sometime in August (to tide you guys over until Deny releases).

I’ve decided to give you guys TWO sneak peeks: a seven-line snippet of Deny and a peek at Deal, the prequel short story.

First up, seven lines from Deny: 

Jamie stretched out, keeping his feet planted as far from Leith as possible, while he helped Leith remove the bandage. Jamie bit his lip only once, as if puzzled. Had he realized the bandage was neater than Leith would have been able to manage by himself with only one arm? Was he questioning how Leith had gotten the bandage on if he couldn’t get it off without help? Thankfully, the boy was only a trainee. He wouldn’t dare say those questions aloud, especially not to the First Blade.

As they reached the final layer, Leith gritted his teeth.

Anyone excited yet?

Next up, a sneak peak at Deal: 

Orn turned to the dealer, but the man just shook his head. “Sorry, Torren. You’ve already used the limit on your tab tonight.”

The stranger’s fingers drummed a rhythm on the table and the inside of Orn’s skull. “Do you call or do you fold?”

“No, I…” He scanned the crowd for someone—anyone—who would loan him some money.

The fingers stopped tapping. “You have a son, don’t you?”

“Yes.” Worthless brat that he was. 

Can you guess what is happening in this sneak peak? 😉

My nominations for the challenge:

Shantelle Hannu

Claire Banschbach

Angie Brashear

Jaye L. Knight

Kim Moss

Jason Hein

E. Rawls

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Tag

I’ve been tagged again! This time, Shantelle tagged me in the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award tag.

Here’s how this works:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you, linking back to their site.
  • Put the award logo on your blog.
  • Answer the ten questions sent to you.
  • Make up ten new questions for your nominees to answer.
  • Nominate ten blogs.

On to the questions! Shantelle came up with some really fun questions!

What genre have you read most of this year?

I’ve read mostly Christian YA fiction this year, especially speculative and indie titles. I just discovered a whole community of Christian YA authors, and I’m slowly working my way through all their books.

A few books you hope to read soon?

I’m currently reading Of the Coldblooded by Angie Brashear. How can you not want to read this book after looking at the cover?  Once I’m done with this book, I have a stack of books to read, and I haven’t decided which one to pick up next!

OtC - eBook Cover

Favorite book of the year?

Seriously? I have to pick one? And I have to remember all the books I’ve read this year? So far, I’ve read nearly one book a week, so it starts to add up after a while!

Since I have to pick, it would probably be Resistance by Jaye L. Knight. I read it in one day in January when I was home sick from work with a bad cold. I absolutely loved it and immediately began shoving the book at all my friends and family and ordering them to read it because it was amazing. Luckily for me, The King Scrolls (book 2) came out a month later, but now I’m stuck waiting with all the rest of you Ilyon fans!

What was your favorite blog post this year?

Probably the character chats I did for Dare‘s blog tour, especially the second one I did. I had a few of the early readers ask some great questions that really got the characters squirming!

Favorite Dessert?

Um, I have a confession. I have a sweet tooth. I love a lot of things, especially donuts, ice cream, and my dad’s homemade chocolate shakes.

Summer or Winter?

Winter. While I like warmth, I don’t like it when it gets too hot or humid, and I’m not a beach person. Give me three feet of snow and a pair of cross country skis any day!

One Goal You have?

Publish book 2 in my series The Blades of Acktar before the end of the year, hopefully sooner rather than later!

Do you enjoy fairy tales? Which ones do you like the most?

I love fairy tales! Beauty and the Beast was always my favorite. When I was little, my grandparents gave me a large, beautifully illustrated book of fairy tales (I still have it on a specially place on my shelf). I especially loved the book because the illustrations for Beauty and the Beast were on the cover, and Beauty and the Beast was the first story in the book.

Which Disney princess are you most like, and why?

After all my ramblings about Beauty and the Beast, it’s probably no surprise that it was also my favorite Disney movie growing up (Tangled wasn’t out yet!). I think I loved it so much because Belle is a lot like me. She loves to read, she adores her father, she isn’t impressed by the hunky guy with no brain, and she dreams of doing something important. She also had a horse, and I desperately wanted one at that time.

Though, I look nothing like her. She has brown hair and darker eyes, while I have curly blond hair.

Which Disney prince do you consider the most dashing?

Ha! I should have guessed this question was coming from the line of questioning. I’m going to have to go with two:

Flynn Rider, because, well, he’s Flynn Rider. He’s the perfect mix of adorably sweet and good looks beneath his bad boy exterior:

Li Shang from Mulan, because he is kind of the opposite of Flynn Rider. Shang is the straight-laced, by the books guy who finds out he needs to bend a little bit. And he is absolutely sweet when he stutters.

So what about you? How would you answer these questions?

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

Favorite Screen Characters Tag

I was tagged by Jaye L. Knight for the Favorite Screen Characters Tag. Narrowing down to 10 Favorite Screen characters is hard! Not to mention, I pretty much wanted to say ditto to every character on Jaye’s list. So here is my list (In no particular order).

Eowyn (Lord of the Rings)

While Aragorn has a very special place in my heart, I decided to feature Eowyn here since Aragorn was already featured in Jaye’s post. Eowyn is a horse-riding, sword-fighting maid of Rohan, and what’s not to like about that? Plus, her hair! Seriously, I want her no-frizz product. Somehow she goes through a full-tilt gallop, falling off her horse, and fighting the Witch King and somehow her curls remain in beautiful waves. I step out in the rain for two seconds and my hair starts to look like I touched an electric fence.

But what really clinched her as one of my all time favorite screen characters was the scene in the extended edition where Eowyn attempts to make soup (if you haven’t seen the extended editions, the extended edition of The Two Towers is worth watching just for that moment!) I’m an awful cook myself, so I can totally relate to this moment in the movie! The sequence below doesn’t capture the look on Aragorn’s face when he tries to swallow a mouthful.

Westley/Dread Pirate Roberts (The Princess Bride)

Dread Pirate Roberts, The Princess Bride

Before Pirates of the Caribbean and Once Upon a Time‘s Captain Hook, Westley/the Dread Pirate Roberts is to blame for my crush on pirates. After all, he’s like pirate meets Zorro. Totally awesome! Plus the whole not-staying-dead-thing? Yep, he’s my first love when it comes to on screen pirates.

Captain Hook/Killian Jones (Once Upon a Time)

killian_jones_by_alianna-d5m3jim.jpg

While we’re talking pirates, I couldn’t help but include Killian Jones/Captain Hook on this list. That grin! And those intense eyes! Argh! There are times I just want to slap Emma and tell her to get with it girl and not let a guy like Killian get away.

Captain America (Captain American: The First Avenger, etc) 

captain-america-chris-evans-01-636-370.jpg

Just to make sure you guys weren’t getting too worried with my obsession with pirates and bad boys, here’s a really good guy to make the list. I might be in the minority, but Captain America has been my favorite Avenger since the first film with him. He’s just such a nice, old-fashioned, principled guy. His principles are tested, and his struggle is in trying to live out his principles in a complicated world. His personality actually reminds me a lot of Shadrach Alistair in my recent release Dare. 

White Witch (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe BBC version)

Okaaaaaaay, so what does that have to do with Frozen?

I’d like to include a villain on this list. The White Witch in the old BBC version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is the ultimate villain. The White Witch in the new Disney version can’t come close to capturing the truly scary White Witch that the old BBC version had. No one does a witch the way Barbara Kellerman did in that movie!

Maximus (Tangled)

You had to know this one was coming, right? I absolutely adore Tangled! Flynn Rider is awesome and Rapunzel is so sweet! But, Maximus makes my list mostly because I own Maximus. Don’t believe me? Compare the pictures below:

Maximus is soooo cute too.

Shadow

Looks aren’t the only things that are similar. Let’s just say I’m keeping my horse well away from my sword…

Merida (Brave) 

... young merida appeared in brave brave stories merida 01 02 2512 views

Because, well, she has a horse, she can out-shoot just about everybody, and that hair! Rocking those curls! Plus I love the mother-daughter story line. Both the mother AND the daughter have to change, which shows the complicated relationship that a lot of mothers and daughters have. On top of that, she’s a princess and she ends the movie single, which (being single myself) I can appreciate.

Maria (The Sound of Music) 

I love The Sound of Music! It is based on a true story, though the movie does change a few of the details. I actually did read the book that the real Maria Von Trapp wrote because I loved the movie so much.

Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables)

Anne of Green Gables Anne & Gilbert

Another childhood favorite. Since I knew I wanted to be a writer, I always connected with Anne. And her mishaps! As I grew older, I began to appreciate the love story part with her and Gilbert. So adorable! I heard people are talking about doing a remake, but I fear Megan Follows will always be Anne to me!

Gilligan’s Island

Okay, I’m cheating. I’m picking the entire cast of the old TV show Gilligan’s Island. My family watches of a lot of the old TV shows, and Gilligan’s Island was always a favorite. Yes, it’s a little corny and you have to suspend disbelief. But the jokes are actually funny, not just body jokes masquerading as humor.

It’s a show where very different characters always came together in the end. They always stuck together as a family in spite of their differences (and whatever problem Gilligan caused to keep them still stuck on the island).

So there’s my list of ten of my favorite on screen characters. I could keep going, but I’ll have to cut it off at 10 otherwise this could get to be a really long blog post.

I think this is the point where I’m supposed to tag ten more bloggers. Looking through the list of people that have already been tagged for this post, it looks like the bloggers I know who’d want to be tagged have already been tagged…so I’m going have to pass on tagging more people.

What about you? Who would your Favorite Screen Characters be?