What’s up with the Title of Book 4?

All the previous titles in The Blades of Acktar are four-letter D words. Dare. Deny. Defy. All of them have a punchy, raw feel to them.

And then there’s Book 4. Deliver. It’s a longer word. A little weird and outdated. Why would I pick it for the title of Book 4?

To be honest, when I came up with the titles for the first three, I wasn’t planning a book 4. I only needed titles for three books.

But I chose those titles very carefully. They are all commands. In some way, shape, or form, the characters are commanded to dare, deny, or defy throughout each of those books. They are also the theme of the books, both each individual book and all the books in the series. Finally, all three of those words can have dual meaning. Leith daring to stand up to King Respen is a good thing, but Respen daring to stand against God isn’t. Denying self is good. Denying Christ isn’t. See what I mean?

Trying to find a word that started with D, was a command, captured the theme, was present in the earlier books, and had dual meaning was a bit of a challenge.

Finally, I settled on Deliver.

Criteria #1: Starts with D. Check.

Criteria #2: A command. Check.

Deliver isn’t a word we use often, even though it is used a lot in the Bible (or at least, in the KJV that I use), especially in the Psalms where the writers routinely beg for God’s deliverance from enemies. In this context, it means save.

Even though the word deliver wasn’t used often in the books, it is essentially the prayer Renna prays A LOT. She wants God to save her (read: deliver) her from her enemies. Leith needs deliverance from his sins and his enemies. Pretty much any time the word save is used, you could substitute deliver.

I also noticed that the word deliver was used in a few of the verses from Daniel that I choose to begin the books with. Another tie in.

Criteria #4: Present in all three books. Check.

Remember I mentioned the word deliver is used in the Psalms? Especially in the Psalms written by David. The Bible stories about David continue to play a role in the theme and shaping the characters in book 4.

Criteria #3: Captures the theme. Check.

Now to the tough one. Dual meaning. The cool thing is, the word deliver has the most complicated dual meaning of all of them. Dare, deny, and defy have the same meaning that can be directed in two different ways. Deliver as a word has two different, and in many ways, opposite meanings.

On the one hand, it means to save or to be taken out of. Saved from enemies or sin or bitterness, etc.

On the other hand, it means to surrender or to be handed over. (like delivering a package or delivering oneself to the enemy).

See what I mean by opposite? This one word means both to take away from and also to hand over.

But in a way, these two definitions work together. To be delivered from bitterness, we need to surrender our own pride and hurt. To be delivered from our enemies, we surrender our need to rescue ourselves. Because of God’s deliverance from our sins, we surrender our lives to Him. There’s also the negative. There are those who surrender their lives to their bitterness and hatred. They are delivered into the hands of their enemies.

I’m already having fun using this duality in the book so far, and I’m brainstorming ways it will come out into the ending. The word deliver might not be as noticeably used in the book the way dare, deny, and defy were, but any time you see the words save or surrender, that’s what I’m thinking about when I write it.

What do you think about the title? Love it? Not so sold on it yet?

 

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. 😉

Defy Blog Tour Sign up

*Edited: Thanks to everyone’s enthusiastic response, all spots are now full. Thanks!*

It’s that time again! Defy releases in a little bit over a month and a half. Eeek! My cover designer is furiously working on the cover, so I should have that by the time I send out the blog tour information in the first week of May.

Defy Blog Tour Header

I have two sign ups this time around. One is the standard blog tour sign up. The other is for those who don’t have a blog and would like to review Defy on Amazon and other places.

Thanks in advance for your willingness to help out once again! I know this is a crazy couple of months with lots of releases, so I definitely appreciate it!

Fan Art Contest – Videos

Last part of the fan art submissions today! All the awesome videos! If you can’t access the embedded versions, you can find all of these videos except Jessica’s on my YouTube channel. You can find Jessica’s here.

Tomorrow, the official voting will open. Yay!

First up, a scene from Dare as done by Hannah Rodes and her brother.


Dare book trailer as done by Rose Knight

Dare book trailer by Jessica Witt

Dare book trailer by Adri Ray

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. 🙂

Cover Reveal for Deny

Yes, as you can see from the title, I have a cover for Deny! Whooohoo! My cover designer worked her magic once again, and I think this cover is even better than the one for Dare.

A few reminders before I get to the big reveal.

I’ll be at the Covenant Christian Craft sale this Saturday in Walker, MI selling signed copies of Dare. Since Deny releases 1 month from today (Eeep!) I’ve decided to also offer pre-orders for signed copies of Deny, which will be available for pick up the Saturday after Deny‘s release. More information will be available at the craft sale if you wish to place a pre-order.

I also still have a few spots left in my launch team for Deny. If you wish to sign up, please follow this link and fill out the Google form.

Okay, okay. You’re impatient to see the cover. I’m getting to that. 😉

Like with Dare, I emailed Deny to my cover designer Ashley and pointed her to a few scenes that I thought would work best for the cover. We both picked out the same scene that we thought would work best, and she drew up a concept for it and put it all together.

Into this: the cover for Deny (The Blades of Acktar #2)

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Isn’t it spectacular? I can’t wait until I get my first proof book so I can hug it. 🙂

What do you guys think?

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.

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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Exciting New Page – Fiction Finder

BOK Trilogy

Hello, Readers!

If you’re like me, you are always searching for new books to read. When I was a teen, I couldn’t find much for Christian YA fiction. Now that I’ve been trolling blogs and following threads online, I’ve found a number of authors and books that I wish I’d known about years ago.

To help all of you along, I’ve added a YA Fiction Finder set of pages. All the books on these pages are ones that I’ve personally read since I don’t want to recommend a book to all my readers that I haven’t read myself. I’ve also added a few links to a few other places to find more Christian YA books. I’ve organized my pages by both genre and author so that you can look it up either way.

I plan to add to these pages as I discover and read more books so check back frequently!

So without more introduction, my YA Christian Fiction Finder!

Any books that you’d recommend that you don’t see on my pages?

Christmas Book Giveaway – The Princess Spy

Congrats to DeVorah, winner of last week’s giveaway!

Now on to this week’s giveaway!

This week I’m giving away a copy of The Princess Spy, the newest release by Melanie Dickerson. My sister-in-law recommended her books to me, and I loved them. They are fairy tale remakes set in a historical, medieval setting. While they stick to the plot line of the fairy tales for the most part, they are not constricted by them like some remakes are. Her latest release, The Princess Spy, is based on the frog prince fairy tale. I won’t give away how she manages to pull that one off!

Back Cover (from Amazon):

Margaretha has always been a romantic, and hopes her newest suitor, Lord Claybrook, is destined to be her one true love. But then an injured man is brought to Hagenheim Castle, claiming to be an English lord who was attacked by Claybrook and left for dead. And only Margaretha—one of the few who speaks his language—understands the wild story.

Margaretha finds herself unable to pass Colin’s message along to her father, the duke, and convinces herself “Lord Colin” is just an addled stranger. Then Colin retrieves an heirloom she lost in a well, and asks her to spy on Claybrook as repayment. Margaretha knows she could never be a spy—not only is she unable to keep anything secret, she’s sure Colin is completely wrong about her potential betrothed. Though when Margaretha overhears Claybrook one day, she discovers her romantic notions may have been clouding her judgment about not only Colin but Claybrook as well. It is up to her to save her father and Hagenheim itself from Claybrook’s wicked plot.

 My Recommendation:
 As with all her books, Dickerson weaves a deft tale combining the fairy tale and her historical setting. The Christian themes in the book are given a light touch, but they are still present throughout the book. My favorite part about this book is the character of Margaretha. Unlike some of the female main characters in Dickerson’s other books, Margaretha is not a lady to wait around for someone to rescue her. She is strong without being too bold. Her character has a good balance that shows it is possible to be a strong woman while still relying on others for help.
If you’d like to win a copy of The Princess Spy, please follow the Rafflecopter link below:

Christmas Book Giveaway – Of the Persecuted

This year, I’ve stumbled across a number of Christian YA speculative fiction authors whose books are now among my favorites. To share these awesome books and celebrate Christmas, I’ll be giving away a new book each week until Christmas.

This week, I’m giving away a copy of Angie Brashear’s debut novel Of the Persecuted. This book’s title and cover art captured my attention the first time I saw it. Isn’t it stunning?

Of the Persecuted

 Back Cover Copy (from Amazon):
Laila Pennedy awaits death by hanging. For the Rendow Clan rules the Woodlands Region, aiming to slaughter the Faithful. And she deserves to die. But Lars Landre, the man destined to lead the Faithful out of persecution, has other plans hidden behind his rare and mysterious blue eyes. Rescue.

Following the daring escape, Laila seeks the path of a warrior and vows revenge against the Rendow Clan. She embarks on a dangerous journey with Lars, one in which they endeavor to reach the promised safety of a magical village, to train for battle, and to ultimately assure freedom for those with faith in the Maker.

Clashes of weapons and souls. Brutal loss of lives. Unrequited love. How in all the Woodlands will Laila survive?

My Recommendation

The characters and the story world in this book are unique. The first sentence grabbed me, and I couldn’t put the book down after that. While this is an indie published book, I didn’t find any editing issues. If I hadn’t known that this was an indie book, I wouldn’t have guessed it from the quality of the writing. Definitely a book to add to the shelf of favorites!

Personally, I go out of my way to support indie authors because I know they don’t have a publishing house behind them. What about you? When buying books, does it matter to you if they are indie or traditionally published?

Follow the Rafflecopter link below to enter to win an ebook or paperback copy of Of the Persecuted:

A Rafflecopter giveaway