I love the way that Christine writes on her Musings of An Elf blog; it’s so beautiful and heartfelt, and seeing how similarly impassioned we both get over good books was the reason why I asked her to review the Rising Shadows Trilogy, and I’m so glad I did. Christine loves the series! *happy dance* It warms an author’s heart to know that others connect with these characters as they do. I couldn’t be more pleased with her review of Chasing Shadows, so be sure to check it out and share around with your other book-loving/blogger friends. And don’t forget to follow Christine’s blog to keep an eye out for something about beta reading the final book in the series. . . Just sayin’! ^_^
Stories are ever-changing, either because of how we grow as writers, events that influence our perception, or simply things that we see that spark our interest. For me, this constant evolution is one of the most exciting, and sometimes frustrating, things about being an author—exciting because with each month or so that passes, I can look back on what I’ve written and realize how much I’ve matured as a writer, and frustrating because it’s difficult for me to ever be totally satisfied with a whole manuscript.
I was immensely happy and proud when “Rising Shadows” first came out because it was the type of writing that I was drawn to at the time. And then I proceeded to spend the next two years in embarrassment of my first published work. As I spent endless hours writing several different stories and started expanding my reading repertoire, I watched as my style of writing shifted and my ability grew—I’m not tooting my own horn, because there is always room for improvement. Since I couldn’t go back and completely revise the entire manuscript to match exactly what my preference was, I focused all of my attention on making “Chasing Shadows” into something better.
Surprisingly, I don’t believe I’ll ever feel more content with how a book turned out than I am with this installment in the series. And it isn’t just temporary satisfaction, either; I had two whole years to play around and re-read “Chasing Shadows” while I sought out a physical publisher, and I never got sick of it or upset with how it was coming together. My writing ability didn’t become stagnant but still progressed, thank the Lord, yet I never felt dissatisfied with this story even as my interests changed.
That’s not to say that there weren’t—ahem—a few alterations that I made to it along the way.
Originally, while writing the bare bones of the story, there was a rekindling of the romance between Will and Sarah, with no Jade to muddle things up between them, Karen was still a great friend, and the resolution in the end was very cut-and-dry (i.e. bad guy dies, kingdom restored: TA-DA!). But then I was, like, wow, I’m not even interested. So I prayed for wisdom on where God wanted the story to go, and three weeks later, my entire perception of it changed. I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of time travel and figured out a whole new way to make it muddle things up for the gang and expand on time’s presence in the story. I made Will and Sarah’s lives and their relationship less “easy” to show how they’re overcomers, revealing their struggles and highs and lows; they aren’t perfect, but then again, who is? And I altered the ending of “Chasing Shadows” drastically, and I’m so glad I did! So much more drama, craziness, plot reveals, questions, history muddled. Muwah-ah-ah-ah!!!!! ^_~
Then there was the length of the story. Its predecessor was sweet and simple and straightforward and, well, a skosh smaller—no filler or mishagosh, but just straight up action, adventure, and fun. But then I found that I actually enjoyed challenging myself by not just taking up space on the page for the sake of length, but by creating transitional scenes that help move the story along with either interesting dialogue, descriptions of the surroundings to transport the reader into the moment, and also small plot reveals that you can find if you pay attention. It was a blast to finally challenge myself!
Oh, yes, and Lord Bormeo Lisandro was not, in fact, a romantic interest for Sarah. Yes, ladies, you may release your gasps of surprise. The handsome Spaniard that you’ve come to know and love—let’s be honest, he’s stolen my heart and makes me swoon!—was first a lord named Bormeo (pronounces Bor-may-o. Bahahaha!), pale (like Mayo), thin, regal, and super evil. And then I realized I had two bad guys running about town, and my sister Katie was dying for me to write a handsome Spaniard in somewhere, so, voilà! Damien Romeo Lisandro was born! I first wanted to just throw him in for some eye-candy as a sort of humorous anecdote within the story, but then I pretty much fell in love as his past revealed itself and as his and Sarah’s relationship evolved. I just friggin’ adore him and how he and Sarah lean on each other as they experience highs and lows in Serimone. *tear* He is probably my favorite alteration to this story, and I hope you find deepest love and sympathy for him as I have!
Whelp, that’s all I have for today’s little glimpse Between the Pages of “Chasing Shadows.” Next weekend might be another character interview, plot reveal, excerpt from the book, or just fun goodies from the series. You’ll never know unless you stop by here again! ^_^
I’m super excited to announce that not only have I launched an official website for “Chasing Shadows,” which I mentioned in my previous post, but the book trailers for both “Chasing Shadows” and it’s adorable predecessor “Rising Shadows” just came out. *Squeal of delight* I’d love for you to view, like, share, subscribe, or leave a comment to support the series. ^_^
You can find the trailers on YouTube via Double Decker Books, on the official “Chasing Shadows” launch page, and all over Goodreads! As always, don’t forget to add the books on Goodreads and find them on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Thanks, all, for your support of this series and my endeavors to reach as many people as possible with characters that I believe God is going to use to encourage and touch the lives of many. These characters have already changed my life! And if you have any stories about how reading has impacted your own life in some way, please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Trailer for Chasing Shadows
Trailer for Rising Shadows
Between the Pages: Meet Damien Lisandro
Today I am more than happy to introduce you to your foreign fantasy crush, Damien Lisandro from “Chasing Shadows.” I’m at the castle right now, of course—who wouldn’t like to take a little side trip to the twelfth century if the opportunity presented itself? I plan to interview Damien in a moment, but I just spotted the would-be murderer Cadius and have decided to go all “reporter” on him. Maybe I can get him to reveal his plans and help Karen and Sarah out!
Excuse me, Cadius, but do you have a minute for some questions?
Eyes me up and down with cold, barely concealed disdain. “I suppose I have a moment.” With a faint flick of his wrist, the servant he was reprimanding scurries off. “What is it?”
I wanted to ask you how you felt about all the suspicion surrounding your brother the king’s death?
Feigns innocence. “Suspicion? I haven’t the faintest…”
Well, uh (gosh, he really has creepy eyes), then what about the death of the original queen, Alexis? Do you have anything to say about that?
Eyes soften almost imperceptibly. “That was a long time ago.”
(Hmm. Interesting reaction). Okay, I’m just going to come out and say it. You must be aware that people think you killed your brother, and others are suspicious that you might have done the same to the first queen. . . . Seriously? No reaction?
Blinks. “The peasants may believe what they wish, but wise lords and ladies know to keep their uneducated suppositions to themselves. And little doves who know not of what they speak should learn to mind their elders, lest harm should come to them.”
…. *swallows* Okaaaay. That sounds like a threat to me.
Chuckles lowly. “Oh, my dear, I never dirty my hands. Fear not. What other inquiries would you care to make?”
*Squeaks out lamely* Um, do you have a favorite color?
*Eyes widen* That’s nice! Well, then the last thing I’d like to ask is about the king. What—
Takes a step forward. “Do you know what happens to little doves who ask too many questions?”
*Already booking it down the hall at a clipped pace*
Okay, new plan! We’re now hanging out with Damien Lisandro at an undisclosed coffee house somewhere in present day North America. Damien! How kind of you to join us.
Grins saucily. “Well, you did grab me from my room and beg me to speak with you. How could I refuse such a request?” Eyes his surroundings. “And what interesting décor in this study.”
Uh, yeah. Very interesting. So . . . Wow, you really do have gold flecks in your eyes.
Leans forward, expression cheeky. “It’s your beauty reflected in them, my lady.”
*barely contains giggles* Whatever you say. Um, now back to the interview. Can you tell us a little about your background and interests?
“Oh, well, I was raised as the son of a wealthy tradesman, had a loving mother and a sister whom I adored. My life was quite grand.”
Uncomfortable, he takes a sip of his cappuccino. “Mm, that’s quite good. Well, you see, my father accidentally beat my mother to death one night in a drunken stupor, and my sister Isabella died shortly after we fled from my father.” His smile is wobbly. “Next question, please.”
*Winces* Sorry. Favorite color?
“I have seen so much royal purple since I took up residence at the castle that it has grown on me.” Smiles softly at the wooden table. “And Sarah looks lovely in purple.”
So are you and Will going to duke it out for her, or what? How does that work?
“I’m in no rush to win her heart, but in the end, I will earn her affection.”
You’re a rather confident fellow. Okay, well, I know you grew up in Spain, but how do you like being a lord in Serimone?
“I suppose it has its advantages.” Scratches the perfectly sculpted hair on his chin. “However, living inside the castle walls and being so closely watched has its disadvantages, as well.”
But surely having so much wealth and being well known has its perks.
“Yet everyone is always watching my moves or planning them for me. That is one of the reasons why I sought out the company of Lady Sarah; she made me feel normal—no expectations or preferential treatment because of my station. Being with her gives me something to hope and live for outside of myself—she makes me want to be good.” Grins self-consciously. “But that sounds ridiculous, I’m sure.”
…. People, I just died a little from swooning. But you keep distracting me, you beautiful creature! Back to my questions: You get toxic waste spilled all over you and now have your choice of superpowers. You would pick…?
“To know all. I would never have to question anyone again.”
Does mistrust happen a lot in your field of, uh, lording?
“I’ve dealt with my fair share of betrayals. Everyone wears a mask, as I told Sarah once, and you never can tell whom to trust.”
“Yes, it can be, but there are many activities and events with which to keep my mind occupied.”
Speaking of which, I’ve been drilling everyone who stops by about a certain future event in Serimone. Are there any upcoming weddings that you know of? Anyone in particular?
Grins charmingly, eyes bright. “Are you proposing? Because then I most heartily accept!”
*Laughs* No! I . . . Well, actually, let me consider it. I’ll get back to you in, ohhh, say a thousand years?
Looks confused. “What?”
Don’t worry; it won’t feel long at all. And that, folks, is the beauty of time travel.
“Time travel? You mean you can—“
No! What? No! *laughs* Of course not, you handsome devil. I was just making a joke. *whispers* But, uh, if you could put that blindfold back on while I drive you home, that would makes things go a lot smoother for the both of us.
Just answer as many as you find applicable, or feel you want to answer
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself that we won’t find in your bio?
Hm..well, I’m an adventurer determined to experience as many sides of life as possible. Some odd facts about myself are: I was once a professional drummer, I’ve scuba dived in a sunken ship, and I tried to make it to the Olympics by snowboard racing. The Olympic thing was a dream much bigger than I understood when I started. In the process, I learned I’m not a competitive person. I was actually relieved when the journey ended at Nationals.
I live in Idaho, my heart is in Missouri, but hubby and I hope to move to Russia someday. How’s that for “a little bit” about myself? [grin]
What inspired you to become an author?
Birth, really. I was born needing to write, needing to process via words. I turned everything into a story – both verbally and on paper. I created comic books as soon as I could draw with “paper pals” I’d sketch and send on adventures through little time machines.
It wasn’t until I was seventeen that I realized I wanted to do it for life and pursue writing as a career.
How did you come up with the idea for “A Time to Die”?
It came upon me, really. Quite forcefully. I was in the middle of grad school and an acquaintance of mine passed away. He was my age and it got me thinking about how short life could be. I wondered if I’d live differently if I knew I had a year left. That’s when the idea of A Time to Die hit me – what if a culture existed where everyone knew the day they would die? Would we live differently?
Tell us about your main characters. Do you have a favorite?
Parvin is my main character and easily my favorite. She asks a lot of questions I once asked in my lifetime so her journey feels very close to home. I like trying to delve into a teenager’s mind without supporting the common stereotypes we hold regarding teenages — angsty, irrational, selfish, etc. Just because that’s common with some teenagers doesn’t mean that’s how they all are. I wanted to capture the inner struggle. In doing so, I grew to love Parvin even more.
Reid is Parvin’s twin brother. He’s a traveler in love with adventures and always looking out for his family. Then there’s Jude – the mysterious inventor. He was a challenge to write. I went from not liking it at all to liking him too much (which made certain story elements harder.) Eventually I found a balance.
As for the other characters? I’ll just have to let you meet them on your own! 😉
What was your favorite scene(s) to write and why?
Strangely, the sad or intense scenes were the most fun to write. I thrive off of writing emotions, that’s when I’m at my best, I think. So whenever there needed to be a tragedy or a hard character decision, that’s when I got glued to my computer.
What do you do in your spare time when you aren’t writing?
Spare time? What’s that? [wink] Actually, I’m a freelance editor and all my spare time goes to editing. If I have true spare time – where I don’t have to edit or write – I’ll either read or spend time with family. Or do something artsy.
If you could live inside the pages of any book (or series), what would it be and why?
My gut instinct is Harry Potter because that series inspired me and impacted my life in very positive ways. Not to mention that, I’m so nerdy about the whole series, I’d do quite well in a wand battle. But I’d have to be able to bring my hubby with me. 😀
You’re trapped on a desert island and can only save one book—using the rest for firewood (I just gagged at the thought)—to read until you’re saved months later, what would it be? Your answer must be a title other than the Bible—that’s a given.
Cruel! You are so cruel! Well, providing that I had food and provisions to keep me alive (without needing a survival book), I’d probably pick the dictionary…or a giant book of Systematic Theology. Or a huge encyclopedia.
I know, that is so boring. A million fiction books ran through my mind, but I can’t in good conscience devote several months to only entertainment. Must. Expand. Vocabulary!
(Side note: After I read Nadine’s response–bahahahahaha! And this is why I love this author, people! She’s got her priorities straight)
Where do you get your ideas? Is anything in your book based on your own experiences, or is it purely from your imagination?
Mostly from imagination, dreams, or Scripture. A lot of times, my stories draw from a “what if” question. “What if” everyone knew the day they’d die? “What if” every wish came true? “What if”…
Do you ever experience writer’s block?
Nope. There are scenes that are harder to write than others, but I rarely go into a story without knowing where it’s supposed to go. I don’t have time for writer’s block. 😉 In this, I count myself very lucky because I know a lot of writers who struggle with it.
Can you tell us about your challenges (if any) in getting your first book published?
Frankly, I had my “publishing story” handed to me on a silver platter. The only rejection letter I received came the same day I received the offer of a contract from my top publisher.
The hardest challenge was continuing to write and better my craft, really. It’s crucial that we apply what we learn as we receive edits or read craft books. Writing is hard! But worth it. [grin]
What stories are you currently working on?
I’m writing book two in the Out of Time Series and the first rough draft is done! After this series, I have some pretty cool ideas (I think.) A portal fantasy, another dystopian, an apocalyptic-type of idea. I need to learn to write faster.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Go to a writer’s conference! This is the biggest piece of advice I could give anyone who wants to grow in his or her writing craft. I know a lot of writers are introverts and that writing conferences can seem expensive or intimidating, but it’s the next step. Take it. Be brave!
How can we discover more about your book?
Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
Thank you for reading. I hope that, instead of escapism, my books inspire you to live more fully. Remember, life demands pursuit, and God’s given us the perfect amount of time with which to catch it.
Thanks, Nadine, for sharing your amazing journey with us and for giving the literary world such a gem as “A Time to Die.” And if Nadine were still here, I imagine she’d give a resounding “Welks!” ^_^ You’ll understand when you read the book.
Catch up with Nadine and buy “A Time to Die” in paperback and ebook today. You will NOT be sorry!
My 125th post on this blog is kind of a big deal for me, and I didn’t want to just give you a quick update or an amusing tidbit for the week (stay tuned for the 126th, though). Today I wanted to write about something that, I feel, is meaningful right now and that I believe quite a few of us are going through. Don’t let my lack of humor deter you, though; I have a point, I promise, and I really feel that everyone should read today’s musings. It’s also going to be a longer one, so stay with me!
I saw something a couple of weeks ago that I found a tad disturbing. Someone put a post on Facebook about how it’s not perverted boys that the world and the church should be worrying themselves over, but rather we should direct our concern to the twenty-something girls still living at home without any current marriage prospects. I have to be honest and say that this really upset my sisters and I for many reasons, one of which was because most of us are in our twenties and we’re all still living at home. It was a little offensive to find that someone we were very close to thought so poorly of us and our “situation.” And it wasn’t so much an issue that we aren’t, at the moment, involved with anyone, but the problem lay in the fact that our standards kept us from picking just anyone . . . and it seemed anyone would do for the sake of having someone, because it appeared that our worth was only in snaring a man.
Wow. Never thought I’d be crucified for having standards. Crazy beans!
Anyway, the more I thought about it, the more irritated I became—I got over my own personal offense pretty quickly, but so many other girls had seen this and were heartbroken over their “loser” status. Right now the idea is so prevalent, in the church especially, that men and women have to be married by 21 because, according to that Facebook post, a woman’s only worth is in marriage and having kids. Now, please don’t misunderstand me—being a mom is the hardest job in the world and incredibly important. My problem lies in the fact that people are telling every single girl that if she does not have a husband and 2.2 kids before she turns 25, she is worth nothing, she is nothing.
Is this really what you want to teach your daughters? That they have no worth?
To be quite frank with you, this is a horrible notion that draws girls away from God when they believe that a relationship with some guy is all He wants of them and that He doesn’t think they’re worth anything if their status says “single.”
I responded to this post (with unusual calm for me) that I have standards and am finding my worth in God, getting confident in my relationship in Him first, and it appeared this was also a concern—that He would meddle in our lives or think we are worth more than our duty to pro-create.
Ladies, and guys, too! You are worth more to God than you could ever fathom, and He wants HIS best plan for your life, not what other people tell you should come of your days. This generation is full of such low self-esteem that we should be reassuring one another that we are worth more than what others tell them and encourage them to have standards. I don’t mean blond hair, baby blues, 6’4, built like Thor criteria. I mean standards and values that keep you from entering into a relationship with someone—out of low self-worth—who will draw you from God and that would result in an unhappy marriage. Why do you think the divorce rate is so high in America? Because we’re telling everyone that you’re only worthwhile to the world if you have someone by your side this instance.
Well, I ALWAYS have Someone by my side. Whatever may come of my life—career, husband, family, international espionage—I want to live my life right now for God and stop worrying about a future that I can’t predict and cease fretting over the opinions of people who shouldn’t matter. I’m living my present for God, and I want to spend the rest of my days discovering just how much He thinks I’m worth the wait. And remember: God is never late; we’re just impatient.
Below are a TON of verses that my friends and I compiled to encourage each other— and now you all, too!—that God sees us as more than pawns and that he care about our present AND our future. Lift someone up this week and share these words, verses, and even this post if you think it will encourage them. And never forget what a gem you are! ^_^
Hey all! My author friend and dance buddy Nadine Brandes is kicking off a blog hop in celebration of being one day closer to the upcoming release of her fantastic dystopian thriller “A Time to Die.” *cue the flurry of applause and dead-faints of excitement* The blog hop where I answer Nadine’s prompt “If you had one year left to live” will be live on my blog on September 26th, so put it on your calendars! But for now, Nadine has her own answers and an Amazon giveaway on her blog to whet your bookish appetites.
To enter the giveaway, you’re going to have to put in a little effort and follow the link below to Nadine’s original post at http://nadinebrandes.com/2014/09/03/if-i-had-one-year-left-to-live-a-time-to-die-blog-tour/
If I had one year left to live…
…I might stop writing.
My heart shreds into confetti at the very idea, but one year isn’t very long. I’ve thought quite hard over this concept. Let me explain, for a moment, why I’m even blogging on it.
Today I’m kicking off the blog hop to promote my book, A Time to Die. Over twenty bloggers will be joining this hop to answer the prompt, “If I Had One Year Left to Live, I Would…” Hopefully this also prompts you to think about what you’d do with one year left to live.
Once the question enters your mind, it gets pretty sticky. Trust me, I know. I think about it all the time.
In order to answer this question, I need to step back and examine what’s important, get to the nitty-gritty. Yes, writing is important because it’s my passion, but what is even more worthy of my complete devotion and sacrifice of time? Of course, it’s my Savior, Jesus Christ and I would fill my last year with things, actions, and choices that I believe He calls me to. But, since I’m playing crystal ball and trying to predict my future actions, here are some things I would do with one year left:
Either stop writing, or speed-write.
Don’t take this the wrong way. I do not want to stop writing. Writing is my passion. BUT, if I knew for sure that I would die one year from today, I would really ask myself how much time I could devote to writing without sacrificing time better spent elsewhere.
Another thought that crossed my mind is committing some hard-core writing months (about three or four) to completing the Out of Time series. For the sake of my readers (yes, for you!) If I couldn’t finish it in that time, I’d start looking for authors who could finish it/polish it for me.
I would go to Russia.
Going to Russia and interacting with the people there has been a long-term passion God has placed on both my and my husband’s heart. It’s a long story that I won’t get into now, but we would travel there to live for the majority of my last year. Hey, maybe I could keep writing while there!
I would write intentional letters.
Words are my passion. I would make sure I had a stack of letters to be given to each person I love after I passed on, hopefully encouraging them to pursue life and God full-speed and to REJOICE at my joining Christ in heaven.
I would visit my relatives.
I grew up away from most of my relatives so I didn’t build the relationships with some of them that I would have liked. I would take at least two weeks to a month and road trip (with the hubby, of course!) around America, visiting them, having intentional quality time with them, and — with some — trying one last time to share the importance of Christ.
I would pray and fast more.
This is one of those things I already try to do, but I’m a spiritual wimp. Praying is the more tough side of relationship with Christ for me. I would love to devote hours — and I mean carpetburns-on-the-knees hours — to praying, fasting, and communing with God. The one time I intentionally fasted and pushed myself past my human desires, it completely changed me. And that was just one time.
Some little things:
I would go skydiving, sleep on an overnight train (preferably the Trans-Siberian Rail, which — if I go to Russia — would be very doable.), ride a tandem bike, and send up a desperate plea to J K Rowling (who probably won’t even see it) asking her to let me treat her to a cup of tea.
But, these are little things. Inconsequential things. Not big enough to be labeled as dreams, they’re just desires that would provide me with temporary happiness and then a good story.
My real goal in my last year would be to live as passionately as my weak, shy, cowardly human body allows for God’s glory. The point of this blog post is not just to dig into my dreams and last-minute pursuits. It is to show me (and you) my deepest desires — the things that are most important to me — and hopefully inspire me to pursue them as best I can right now, whether I have one year or ten years left.
So how about you? What would you do/change/think/stop doing if you had one year left to live?