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The Fangirl’s Guide to Navigating Life, Vol. 1

Published March 19, 2017 by Ashley Townsend

 

How to Navigate Book Boyfriends, An Autobiography

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Oh, so you’re new to being a fangirl and have only just discovered the beauty of joining a fandom? Welcome! Endless joy and pain await you! It can be tough being thrown into this dedicated life—attending countless book release parties, having 10 pre-orders arrive on the same day and deciding which “child” to read first, and just generally dealing with the ups and downs that accompany such a devoted existence.

This new topic series is here to help, whether to guide you through the evolution from one fandom to the next, reveal the best ways to recover from excruciating series-enders (it’s pronounced chuh-ko-let), or just to assure you that there are other fantastic and obsessive people out there. What a time to be alive! *winks*

One thing you must understand about being a fangirl: prepare to have multiple book boyfriends. I know, I know. I used to feel guilty when I would fall in love with the hero in a story, and then I’d pick up another book and instantly trip head-over-heels for yet another gentleman. The trick to managing these fictional fellows is to sort them into categories (i.e. the jokester, the heartthrob, the psychopath you wish wasn’t a psychopath because he’s so fabulous and entertaining).

Here are a few of my own past and present book boyfriends.

The Jokester

Carswell Thorne, Cress by Marissa Meyer (click here)

Carswell Thorne

“I’m pretty, but tough, like a diamond. Or beef jerky in a ball gown.”

As much as I love the cast of The Lunar Chronicles, Thorne makes me want to read it again and again. He is overly-cocky and hilarious, terribly charming, and I can’t tell you the number of times I busted up laughing over one of his ridiculously well-timed jokes, or gave a little “Aww” during his sweet and sacrificial moments. Thorne became the heart of this series, and he definitely stole my heart and kept me reading.

The Clever Smooth-Talker

René Hasard, Rook by Sharon Cameron (click here)

rene hasard

“Being . . . how do you say, underestimated? That is never a bad thing.”

This. Boy. Has. Sass.
Oh, René. *sighs* Like Thorne, he offers SO MUCH humor to this book and is over-confident with his swagger, but you just can’t help adoring this Frenchman. At first, you think he’s a cocky playboy who’s only in the story to make you laugh with gut-busting anecdotes and saucy attitude. But then you realize it’s all a front and there is so much more to René—his kindness, cleverness in pretending to be a fool to get what he wants, and his caring attitude that he hides at first. There are just too many fabulous layers to him that make it impossible NOT to fall in love.

The Protective Heartthrob

Isaiah Walker, Crash into You by Katie McGarry (click here)

Isaiah Walker

“I don’t want to be without you. I like when I’m with you, and I don’t want to go back to who I was before.”

Hoo-hah! *fans self* I don’t usually go for the bad boy, but when he’s a bad boy with a heart of gold who’s pretending to be tough and all devil-may-care to survive the rough lifestyle he’s forced to live—umm, yeah, sign me up! Isaiah definitely has some rough edges to him and a past that just tears your heart out, which is like a recipe for book perfection! ^_^ But I loved reading his perspective and seeing his protective side and the vulnerability he reveals when he’s with Rachel. And on top of the tattooed, car-racing swoon-factor, Isaiah lends a fantastic sense of humor and emotional depth to the story. This was a gobble-it-up read, and I loved every minute of it.

The Unloved Mystery
Will Taylor, Defying Shadows by *coughs* Ashley Townsend (click here)

Will Taylor

“I will never stop trying to fight my way back to you. You’re a part of me now, and I will forever carry a piece of you with me.”

Is it cheating to have my own character on this list? Since Will was one of my first book boyfriends at 14, I’m going to let it slide. *winks* Will can be reserved and mysterious because of his tragic history, the loss of love in his life, and the way he has to preserve the secret of his nightly vigilante escapades. But I love watching his walls crumble piece by piece and how each bit of his character and story slowly reveal themselves. It warms my heart to see his sense of humor emerge and open himself to a love with no guarantees; it’s like watching him come to life! Plus, he’s totally knee-weakening charming, and tell me your heart doesn’t ache/jump to love him in his moments of feeling unlovable. Go on, pretend you didn’t just have a feels attack thinking about it.

The Lonely Alien Seeking Love on Earth

Evan Walker, The 5th Wave by Rick Yancy (click here)

Evan Walker

“To hold on, you have to find something you are willing to die for.”

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a sucker for the quiet, mysterious types in books who are just struggling to feel normal and loved. Well, Evan tries to find that in The 5th Wave . . . along with actually discovering his humanity. Because, you know, he’s an alien. But Evan has so many layers to him that make you fall in love at the same time you’re questioning who’s side he’s on. He can be protective and supportive, caring and mysterious, and just all around adorable and sweet. And if his character isn’t enough to convince you to watch The 5th Wave movie, the picture of Alex Roe in flannel should be sufficient.

The Classiest Book Boyfriend in Literary History
John Thornton, North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell (click here)

John Thornton
“I know you despise me; allow me to say it is because you don’t understand me.”

Okay, I clearly have a thing for layered characters (see every single character above). Thornton is basically the Platinum Book Boyfriend Package; he is kind, though his pride sometimes presents him from revealing it, has immense character, and loves unconditionally. Oh, yeah, and I forgot the cravat and top hat. Win! Watching his pride melt away and his true characters unfold is like watching the flowers begin to bloom in spring, or seeing a newborn puppy open its eyes for the first time—purely magical. And when Margaret rejects him, let’s just say we all felt his sorrow. Thornton is the one literary figure that I will never get over, and he makes North and South for me with his depth and the true way he softens to the worlds. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s played by Richard Armitage.

 

2017 Reading Goals

Published January 31, 2017 by Ashley Townsend

Has it really been SO long since I last visited your homes? *cringe of shame* Apparently, I’ve been a bit consumed lately by working on The Jungle Princess, ironing out some blemishes/going where the story takes me, catching up on the mass amounts of paperwork at the office, planning a trip to Nashville (the heart of country music) to see my bestie, and also—oh, yeah, preparing for this year’s voyage to Realm Makers, the best writer’s conference. In. History. So forgive me, because, honestly, you can’t stay mad at this face.

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I’d like to say I’m coming back online to impart some great writerly wisdom on you, or blow your mind with a snippet from my work in progress (but keep your eyes posted for this, because soon . . .). But alas, I have simply journeyed to the Internet to humbly present an update on my 2017 reading progress. *raises hands to defend self against expected volley of rotten vegetables and fruit*

I set my 2017 Reading Challenge goal on Goodreads at 45, the same as last year, so I’m hoping to do as good as I did in 2016 and exceed my goal. I haven’t read much yet this year, so I figured now would be a good time to share my opinions so far.

These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnely ***

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Umm, I think I liked this book?? I’m typically not this confused over my opinion on a story, but there were moments while reading that I thoroughly enjoyed the characters and the setting. But then there was the forced romance that was so cliche it was often painful, and the killer was fairly obvious from the first chapter of the book. There is this fabulously intense scene at the end where the main character (whose name I can’t recall, she was so memorable) gets into a scuffle with her father’s murderer and runs for her life in a mental institution. I wish there had been more exciting moments in the book because the author did it so well. It had a lot of potential and there were a few characters that I liked and wished had been in it more, and the setting of old-time New York was very fun. Overall, though, I feel like this book is a bit forgettable. 

Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman ****

illuminae

(really 4.5 stars for cleverness of plot and design of the book itself)

Things I learned from Illuminae:
1. I can now survive the zombie apocalypse, though my hacking skills are seriously lacking.
2. You can fall in love with a person because of their emojis. EZRA!! ❤ ^_^
3. Artificial intelligence is a bad idea.
4. Nukes don’t really makes a sound in the vacuum that is space.
5. You should definitely have Gemina on hand to prevent symptoms of the Phobos virus (i.e. violence, incessant shaking, catatonia).

Wow. Just wow. The plot, the characters, the tears and edge-of-your-seat intensity made me stay up all night to see what would happen. This is the most uniquely designed book I have ever read, and the storyline is fantastic and very involved. The first 100 pages were a little bit dry as I got into the style of the book, but then I couldn’t put it down as I became involved in the story and these characters (and the death toll!!! o.O) The ending was such perfection—so intense and tragic and then your heart leaps in hope—making it one of those books that resonates with you for a long time.

Gemina by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman ***

gemina

(3.5 stars)
There were some aspects of this book that I enjoyed more than Illuminae. I felt like the characters were more alive in this story through the way they wrote the scenes to involve more action and surveillance footage, rather than just IM’s back and forth between characters.
That being said, I actually liked Kady and Ezra more as the driving force behind the plot in Illuminae. Also, I didn’t appreciate the casual drug abuse in the book or how the authors made it seem all right for the characters to use “dust” because they know when to stop or because it dulls their senses so they can get through a tough situation. I felt like it was unnecessary and actually sends a terrible message.

Despite my misgivings, I really enjoyed the book and will continue on with the series. Kristoff and Kaufman have crafted an incredible world, and the design of these books is unlike anything you will ever read. 

I’m also currently reading Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken *squeal of pure joy* and have Unblemished by Sara Ella patiently waiting for me on my bookshelf. I got them both on the same day, and there is nothing like that “new book” feeling where fresh hardbacks follow you home. 

coming-home

Also, my sister just ordered By Your Side for me by my auto-buy author Kasie West. A thousand yesses. I’ll do an Instagram post when I receive the book, so keep your eyes peeled. 

Lastly on the reading update, I feel like I’ve never had to wait for a sequel to release like I have with the much-anticipated Blacksouls by Nicole Castroman. Those who are also waiting for Book II to come out probably feel like each day just drags on and on. But we’re in this together, guys, and so we have to hold out and lean on each other through these hard times. Hang in there, friends, it will be here soon! 

are-you-okay

 

 

 

 

A Day in the Life: Interview with the Authors of Blood Mercy!

Published October 28, 2016 by Ashley Townsend

When you discover that the upcoming book you’re dying to get your hands on is having a blog tour, you hop on board, no questions asked. (Yes, I did receive a copy of the book pre-release, and ohmysweetgoodness!!!) I am crazy excited to announce that I have here with me both of the authors of Blood Mercy; Thicker Than Water

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*deep breathing to contain mass excitement* Julia Busko and Janeen Ippolito will be answering some questions that I specially designed for them to satiate my curiosity. ^_~ So grab some popcorn, snuggle down, and prepare to chuckle and be moved.   

Hardcover or paperback?

Julia Busko

 

Paperback. I feel less guilty if I mess up the pages. But on the downside, the binding is more fragile. See I don’t care if the pages are messed up… but the binding? I once freaked over breaking the binding of a book that costed me like… 5 dollars.

Janeen Ippolito: Hardback, because in a pinch they can be used as a weapon. Plus, I tend to wear out paperback spines.

Book or e-copy?

JB: Book. My learning style tends more towards kinesthetic and audio, and although I CAN retain from just reading, it’s easier if I can “feel” the words by highlighting them. All my books are bent and written in. Except the binding! Aside from a few casualties, all the bindings are perfect.

JI: depends on the book. I prefer reference in hardback because I am a rabid marker-upper and underliner and highlighter. ALL the colors! But for fiction it matters less. I always have books on my phone to read.

Library or book store?

JB: Ack don’t make me choose! I love both… Although if I was to choose, I’d go with bookstore. See I have this dream of having a library in my house, full of fiction and nonfiction alike, that friends and family can come and borrow books without having to worry about late fees. See, that’s what gets me about libraries. The late fees.

JI: I believe that I have personally contributed hundreds of dollars to the betterment of libraries through my inability to locate books in time for the late fee. I’m now on a bit of a probation. Of course, the solution is just to buy books!

(Julia, I. Am. Visiting. Your. House!!!! Janeen, I can totally relate. Also, I’m dying laughing)

New books or used books?

JB: Depends. Fiction? I prefer new (See: my quirk on book binding) but reference books I love used books, since there’s a higher chance a previous owner wrote in notes. During a trip to Philly, I found an archery reference book that a skilled archer had written his experiences, views, and techniques in, and I really treasure that knowledge.

JI: I prefer new in general, unless it’s textbooks. Old books are awesome, but they make me sneeze.

If you were in a book, which type of character would you be?

JB: Oh, gosh. One of two roles. Supporting the protag, like an oracle or something that involves psycho-analyzing EVERYTHING, or the antagonist. Freaking. Crazy. Antagonist.

JI: Probably the sarcastic trickster sidekick who has lots of useful information and likes to pick at the too-serious protagonist. Or else a tree. I’d like to be a tree.

*laughs hysterically because these answers are everything*

If you could live in any possible genre, which would you choose and why?

JB: Gothic Horror. I love me some melodrama.

JI: Urban fantasy. As long as I had a motorcycle and a sword.

If there was a book about your life, what would it be called?

JB: Chartreuse Skulls: When Happiness Meets Skeletons

JI: Psychedelic Kaleidescope: How An Overactive Imagination Can Be a Good Thing

Besides reading, what are some of your other favorite hobbies?

JB: I’m a dancer. Currently, I have the honor of dancing in a ameture company (where I’m the oldest by like, 13 years, but hey, I look like I’m in high school, so it’s all good). I also love to sew and create props, although my apartment isn’t well set up for that. I used to do it a lot more before, but given the lack of ventilation in the basement and the fact that I don’t think my husband would appreciate me stinking up the front room with fumes from fabricating props… I mostly stick to dancing with a bit of sewing when I find the time.

JI: hobbies? You’re assuming I have a life outside writing, publishing, and teaching! 😉 Although I am a huge foodie and the more stressed and time-crunched I am, the more I’m inclined to make ridiculously complicated foods. Also, I love to sword fight.

Julia, own that youthful glow! And, Janeen, as a fellow writer I should have known better *facepalm* Free time? What is that you speak of? 

How do you organize your books on your bookshelf?

JB: By size and series. Generally I don’t care if a horror book is next to a YA book, or if the genres are splattered throughout the shelves. My general goal is “Does it look nice and can I find X series in the same place?”

JI: generally by category or genre for the first layer. The second layer is organized a la “stack the books semi-neatly and hope none of them fall off.

What’s your favorite genre of music? Your favorite bands?

JB: I love Symphonic Metal. Nightwish, Epica, and Within Temptation are my jam. Honestly, I love anything with a strong composition, symphonic flare, and dynamic (albeit mostly melodramatic) lyrics. I also appreciate some pop, punk, and classical (Tchaikovsky mostly. I have intense emotions about his Swan Lake composition.) Everyone has something that moves their soul, and for me, if the music can do that, no matter what genre, then I’m not going to complain.

JI: All the things! However, my core sounds are rock, folk, the country songs that tell a story, and a handful of irresistible pop songs. I don’t tend to follow certain artists as much as I follow certain songs they do.

Julia, may I just say that your music choices are stupendous (Within Temptation and Two Steps from Hell basically wrote my first novel). Janeen, I am definitely the same way. I fall in love with songs, not always the artists themselves. 

What are some of your favorite bloggers or booktubers?

JB: This is where we get into interesting territory, hahaha. I’m an illustrator who happens to write, so I primarily follow other illustrators. Some of my notably favorite illustrators are Chris Oatley, Bradley Noah, Will Terry, Jake Parker, and Ahmed Aldoori. Although I don’t really share technical styles with them. Except perhaps Jake Parker superficially, given we both work in pen and ink, but even then, he’s YEARS more experienced than me. But those five artists never cease to inspire me to keep going, and their painting videos have helped me grow SO much.

JI: Again, I’ll follow posts I like more than people. If a person tends to have a record of certain posts, I might just follow them more, but otherwise? I’m all about the content.

What’s your least favorite genre and why?

JB: Historical fiction. I love history when told through art. Surprise, surprise, I loved Art History in college. Which was good, bc I had like 5 semesters worth. But straight-up historical fiction is something I struggle through.

JI: *sighs* Anything without humor or romance. Sorry guys. Straight-up serious fiction isn’t for me. Even in classic literature, I love me some Russian literature for the snark.

So prairie romances are out, Julia? Agreed! And, Janeen, if a book can make me laugh out loud at any point, it’s probably a winner for me.

Do you like to listen to music or snack on food while you read, or do you like it really quiet?

JB: When I was in high school I would read while having the TV on, AND listening to music, and actually do pretty good with it. Nowadays… that is not the case. I’m a VERY slow reader, and I’m also very distractible, so I read in silence while by myself (if I can). When I’m able to concentrate, I’ll forget things, so I rarely have a drink or snack while reading. And if I do, my tea is usually cold long before I remember to drink it.

JI: I can read anywhere, anytime, any place. But if I’m eating, I won’t taste the food and if I’m drinking, I might accidentally knock over the drink. I totally zone out when reading. In college band the team apparently made some awesome play–yeah, so I was reading a really interesting book for a class and totally missed it. There’s even a picture of everyone standing and cheering wildly–and then there I am, hunched over a book.

So we can all agree that it should be socially acceptable for writer’s to wear bibs? Because I could use one from time to time…. *hangs head* Okay, moving on.

How many books do you usually read at a time?

JB: hahaha, you don’t want me to answer this question. Since I read slow, it takes me a LONG time to finish a book, but instead of being “smart” and focusing on one book at a time, I’ll pick up a new one. Last time I checked I had about 5 books I’m reading. That I’ve been reading. For a while. Bc I’m slow.

JI: I’m also a promiscuous book reader, but since I’ve become a reviewer I’ve gotten a lot more committed to one book at a time. Which means I’m only reading  three books right now instead of ten.

If you were allowed to have a party and you could invite any three book characters, which three book characters would you invite and why?

JB: Bertie from Eyes Like Stars bc she’s super fun and interesting, Dorian Grey bc I’d LOVE to get into a conversation about life, love, and morality with him, and then Father Gaetano bc poor dear was just trying his best and he needs a break.

JI: Ella of Frell from Ella Enchanted because she’s a linguist and cook’s helper (I mean, PERFECT JOB THERE), Eowyn from The Lord of the Rings for awesome sword-fighting moves, and D’Artagnan from The Three Musketeers so I could properly smack him upside the head for being such an absolute idiot in the book.

Thanks so much for stopping by, ladies! I laughed, I cried, it moved me (VeggieTales reference, guys. It’s a classic). And if you haven’t pre-ordered your copy of Blood Mercy; Thicker Than Water, it releases TOMORROW *squeals* so don’t be a slow poke and be the only person you know who doesn’t own a copy. Use the links below to find that joy between the pages, and please give it up for the hilarious and brilliant authors who graced this page today.   

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What would you do if the one you loved was turned into a monster?

Melrose Durante brings order. As founder of the Houses of the Dead, he tirelessly opposes the vampires, and provides refuge for the Blood Kind, those like himself who fight against the blood curse that leads to vampirism. His medical breakthroughs have brought many back from the vampire path. After thousands of years, the Blood Kind finally has the upper hand.

Until a vampire attacks Melrose’s family, then begs for asylum. To his friends she’s Lucy, a disturbed young woman prone to incoherent rants, warning of an imminent attack by vampire leader, Conan. But to Melrose she’s something more.

His lost wife, Jane.

One thing is clear – time is running out. In five days Conan will attack Quebec City, killing or enslaving all in his way. If Melrose cannot unlock his wife’s tormented mind, even his immortal wisdom may not be enough to save Quebec City, the Blood Kind, and the Houses of the Dead.

Blood Mercy Official Website: http://www.bloodmercy.wordpress.com

Amazon Preorder Link: https://www.amazon.com/Blood-Mercy-Thicker-Than-Water-ebook/dp/B01L47ILUS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1476321001&sr=8-1&keywords=blood+mercy%3A+thicker+than+water

Uncommon Universes Press Website: http://www.uncommonuniverses.com

 

Defying Shadows is Timey-Wimey

Published September 28, 2016 by Ashley Townsend

*happy author squeal*

The results are in, and according to Deb and Christine, apparently Defying Shadows is timey-wimey, which makes this little lady pretty happy. ^_^ Check out Christine’s review below and be sure to follow her great blog!

http://musingsofanelf.blogspot.com/2016/09/book-review-defying-shadows-rising.html

Fangirl Friday #19…I’m in Love, and I Don’t Care Who Knows It

Published September 3, 2016 by Ashley Townsend

Books and Wonderful Things

So, I know that this is technically old news, but I am extremely excited about Renée Ahdieh’s upcoming book, which is slated for May of 2017. I love Renée’s style of writing and storytelling, and I cannot wait to see what she has in store for her next series, especially since it is supposed to be a retelling of one of my favorite stories and Disney movies of all time. Oh, did I not mention yet that Renée is writing a YA retelling of “Mulan”?

amazing

I heard the news from my sister and I was overjoyed that not only was Mulan going to get the time of day that she has always deserved, but also because Renée Ahdieh is the best author to retell her amazing story. This whole situation is LEGIT, and I already pre-ordered Renée Ahdieh’s amazing sounding book. Alright, time for the title and summary!

41NQZ0fQoDL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Amazon summary:

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Timey-wimey, Robin Hood, & All the Feels (Defying Shadows Review)

Published August 30, 2016 by Ashley Townsend

Guys, this review, just–
(Deb: THE YEW TREE!!!! Does it make me a terrible person to say I’m glad it destroyed you? The feels!!!)
I found Deb a while ago through mutual bloggers, and at first I thought she was kind of shy, so I was a little hesitant to ask her to read the Rising Shadows Trilogy because I didn’t want to overwhelm her. But when her enthusiasm and fellow fangirl-ness came out, I knew I’d found a forever friend in this kindred spirit. She has expressed such love for these characters and encouraged me every step of the way (you’ll notice her in the Defying Shadows acknowledgements), and her calm presence and advice helped me to keep going.
This review made me incredibly happy that I asked Deb to be a Shadow for Team Hood and beta read the last book. Seeing other readers connect with these characters and be moved by their circumstances and emotions makes you feel like you’re doing something right. Just *smiles*
If you haven’t yet, check out Defying Shadows through the links on her post or my Goodreads (image link at the upper right corner of my site), and be sure to follow Deb and share her posts around. She’s an amazing writer and hilarious fangirl, and let’s show her some love! Besides, anyone who uses “AWK” or “ASDFGHJKL” to express irrepressible feels is an A in my book.
Also, her reference to one of my all-time favorite quotes from Larry (Veggie Tales) totally moved me. ^_~

The Road of a Writer

My review is below, but first I just wanted to mention something!

Defying Shadows HAS BEEN NOMINATED for the August edition of a thing called Clash of the Titles, which YOU can help with by popping over HERE to vote (through August 31) on one of four featured books — which one sounds most interesting to you.

So shoo! Go vote!! 😀 Hurry! Time’s a-wasting!

(Get it…? Time…? Ahem.)

Then come back here and read this review because you don’t want to miss out on hearing all about a timey-wimey Robin Hood-ish adventure, right? 😉

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My Review

defyingshadowsDefying Shadows

(book #3 in the Rising Shadows Trilogy)

by Ashley Townsend

Age range: YA

Genre: Christian / Romance / Time Travel / Historical Fiction / Contemporary

Bonus: Retelling / Robin Hood

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“I laughed, I cried . . . it moved me, Bob.”*

*(Sorry to go all VeggieTales on you but the quote…

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Realm Makers Wrap Up

Published August 8, 2016 by Ashley Townsend

Faith & Fantasy Alliance

2016-07-29_09.19.24Well, ladies, gents, and hobbits, we’re wrapping up another successful Realm Makers conference. Each year, I see the conference getting better and better: great workshops, deeper discussions, more networking . . . just bigger, better, and more. God is doing amazing things with our little niche in the world. (Which, by the way, is not as small as some may think!)

In fact, here are a few highlights from some of the wonderful people who work behind the scenes . . .

Becky Minor, Realm Makers Director and Advisory Board

Seeing so many in attendance so completely blown away by being with friends and learning together.

Scott Minor, Realm Makers Co-Director and Advisory Board

My highlight was getting to announce the details of next year’s conference. A lot of hard work and careful consideration went into the planning behind it.

2016-07-31_08.55.13Ralene Burke, Marketing Maven and Advisory Board

I didn’t get…

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Tricia Mingerink

Action, Faith, & Adventure

Amy Brock McNew ~Author~

Fantastical tales of love & war, spanning the realms

Amy Brandes Speaker & Writer

DEW LIFE... And DO It Well.

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Sharing my love of books...

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A place devoted to books, movies and TV. Books are food for the soul.

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In Darkness there is Light

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read. write. drink tea

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I just want to write all day in Neverland

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You cant buy Happiness, but you can buy Books and that's kind of the same thing.

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God. Life. Writing. Reading.

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Fusing authentic faith and bold imagination

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Preserving the family recipes of the past

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FINANCES FOR YOUR MINISTRY

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