X is for Xerxes #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to the A to Z Challenge. This year I’m blogging about the Behind the Scenes for the Echoes Trilogy – a story a started writing about six years ago.

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Queen Esther’s account in the Bible has long been one of my favorites, and as I mentioned before, it was one of the inspirations for Echoes. In fact, in the second half of the book (which was originally going to be Book #2), there’s a set of Echoes who are named Esther and Hadassa. Esther and Hadassa are the Esther’s from the Bible Greek (I think?) and Hebrew names, and I always thought it would be rather neat to name twins after them.

King Xerxes was a historical figure that sometimes I think I’d like to know more about, and other times I’m quite happy with my lack of knowledge about him. To make a long story short, this guy (who happened to be a very powerful king) got mad at his wife and disposed of her, then had his men gather up hundreds of girls who then spent a year or so readying themselves for meeting the king. Then, the king choose one of them to be his queen.

In my Echoes book, King Dalan wasn’t supposed to be like King Xerxes, but he ended up being a bit of a villain anyway. Thankfully King Dalan at least tries to have a good relationship with his daughter. King Xerxes was the kind of king that if his wife approached him without him asking for her to come, then she’d be put to death unless he extended his scepter to her. #ouch

I’m pretty sure Echoes has my first ever human villain – the rest of my books contain villains like Lyme disease and such, so this book has been a fun challenge.

Do you generally read books with human villains?

W is for Water (And No Tea) #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to the A to Z Challenge. This year I’m blogging about the Behind the Scenes for the Echoes Trilogy – a story a started writing about six years ago.

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Thanks to posting a review today (see it here), for the A to Z Challenge post I’m simply posting a small snippet. I hope y’all enjoy!

The food the woodcutters provided was by far the worst I had ever dined on. The bread was thick, tough, and made with a black flour that contained small hard chunks. After the first day I learned to eat slowly and carefully to avoid chipping my teeth. Potatoes were also one of our staples, but the fact that we had to pick worms out of them before partaking of them was enough to make me lose my appetite. The meat wasn’t much better, since it was all dried and had been preserved with far too much salt. I could barely choke down my pieces, even when I took little nibbles of the meat, paired with huge mouthfuls of the bread and potatoes. I was ever so hungry for tea, but plain water was all they provided me with. Determined to fit in and be strong I didn’t complain or let my face show my distaste, but it was a challenge to be sure.

“Now, ye said King Dalan will know who you are?” Titus asked the question as he chomped open-mouth on a piece of meat. He scratched his nose with the same hand that held the meat, a feat that looked nearly impossible and sent waves of nausea through me.

“Aye.” My sour mood had dissipated a bit as the days dragged on, but I still refused to spend too much energy socializing.

“Might you tell us what your plan is now?” Thurston asked, then took a few loud slurps from the common water pouch. When he was done he wiped his hand across his face, then down the front of his clothes.

NKJV Woman’s Study Bible – Book Review with Guest Reviewer and Giveaway!

Y’all! I am so excited about this review. When I first saw the option for reviewing this Woman’s Study Bible, I was amazed at the chance and right away requested it. There are three different covers to this Bible, cloth, hardcover, and imitation leather. I was thrilled when I was chosen to review the imitation letter version (which had been my top choice). When I received the Bible in the mail I was so happy with it that I carried it around showing it to my family.
Y’all. Of course it’s the Bible, so that makes it special. But, in addition to being God’s Word, the other features are put together in such a wonderful way that makes it beautiful, easy to go-through, and a delight to read.
My mom ended up asking if she could borrow the Bible for a few days, and of course I was happy to comply. Over the next few days Mom gushed about the Bible multiple times, pointing out various features that she enjoyed. In the end, she happily agreed to review the Study Bible. (YAY!) See her review below.
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What a beautiful, easy to read, inviting, Woman’s Study Bible!
I was intrigued when I opened the box and noticed the beautiful cover. It is the same study Bible I have had for several years, but the newest version. The updates have made using it very pleasant. The use of various colors, some flowered headings, and the slightly larger print made me want to dive into it.
I chose the book of Philippians for my first study.
Because this is a “woman’s” study Bible, there is an emphasis on finding and explaining about the women of Philippi. For instance, I had not realized that women play a prominent role in Philippians. It has more references to women than possibly any other single book of the Bible. Think of Lydia, the first European convert. The story of Philippi began in Acts with women “meeting on the riverside where prayer is customarily made,” it was led by Lydia.
Did you know that Paul’s visit to this city was his first visit to a “western” culture? So the Philippians are our cultural forebears.
I loved the section entitled Background Information – In finding out about the city’s origin I learned much to help me understand who the people of Philippi were – Philippi was a Roman colony, and as such had great privileges which made a tremendous social and psychological difference. They were exempt from taxes, could buy and sell freely, and were not under the same local government. These differences may have made Paul place a heavy emphasis on the virtue of humility in this book.
While the editorial content seems very similar to the older version of this Bible, the well-done use of color, the quality paper which makes for less shadowing and bleed-through, and the overall pleasing appearance made me desire to jump in and study like never before. I highly recommend this Woman’s Study Bible.
I give it a rating of 5 of 5.
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Enter the Giveaway HERE.

(And hurry! It ends today!)
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Find it on:
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About The NKJV Woman’s Study Bible

The Woman’s Study Bible poignantly reveals the Word of God to women, inviting them to receive God’s truth for balance, hope, and transformation. Special features designed to speak to a woman’s heart appear throughout the Bible text, revealing Scripture-based insights about how godly womanhood grows from a woman’s identity as a Christ-follower and a child of the Kingdom.

Now with a beautiful full-color redesign, The Woman’s Study Bible reflects the contributions of over 80 women from a wide variety of ethnic, denominational, educational, and occupational backgrounds. Since the publication of the first edition of The Woman’s Study Bible under the editorial guidance of Dorothy Kelley Patterson and Rhonda Harrington Kelley, this landmark study Bible has sold over 1.5 million copies.

Features Include:

  • Beautiful full-color design throughout
  • Detailed biographical portraits of over 100 biblical women
  • Thousands of extensive verse-by-verse study notes
  • Over 300 in-text topical articles on relevant issues
  • Insightful essays by women who are recognized experts in the fields of theology, biblical studies, archaeology, and philosophy
  • Book introductions and outlines
  • Hundreds of full-color in-text maps, charts, timelines, and family trees
  • Quotes from godly women throughout history
  • Set of full-page maps of the biblical world
  • Topical index
  • Concordance

V is for Vacillating #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to the A to Z Challenge. This year I’m blogging about the Behind the Scenes for the Echoes Trilogy – a story a started writing about six years ago.

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When it comes to certain elements, plot twists, characters, and scenes in Echoes I’ve vacillated like a pro. (Vacillated = wavered back and forth.) In fact, six years into the project the change I’ve made or plan to make are somewhat amusing to me. Here’s a compilation of some of them:

  • I’m planning on merging Farrow and Gage, two of the lesser-talked-about guards, into Chadwin, a guard with a lot more air time in the novel
  • I changed the City of Outcasts into Island of Outcasts
  • One of the guards from the City of Outcasts is instead going to be a smuggler in the Island of Outcasts
  • Instead of being loosely based on a Scottish/Irish/English countryside, Kios is set in a country that bears a remarking resemblance to New Zealand
  • Originally there were three maids: Wren, Mekayla, and Marina. Eventually I narrowed it down to two maids, excluding Wren. Then some beta readers said it was confusing to have the two maids have names that were about the same length and started with the same letter. So, the maids are now Wren and Marina #nowlookwhosconfused #spoilerthatwouldbeme
  • The story was originally named “The Guardian’s Secret” and then I realized that the title implied that Teah was the main character, and that happens to be false, so I changed the title to Echoes 
  • I’m contemplating there not being any music in Kios, but that’s still one of those things I’m vacillating about

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There are more things – especially dealing with plot twists, but of course I can’t exactly tell y’all about them without ruining the storyline.

One of the things I enjoy about writing is all the surprises that take place. You might have heard the quote that says something about “No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.” I don’t 100% agree with that quote, but I will say that if it’s true, then my readers will be exceedingly surprised. I’ve been so surprised while writing this book that it’s rather amusing.

What is something you’ve vacillated about recently?

Question and Answers Vlog (Part 1)

This week I’ve had to be careful how much internet I use at my office, which means that I’ve needed to refrain from posting vlogs. I filmed a vlog yesterday, and since I wanted to share it with y’all, I decided to move my office to McDonalds for the last hour or so.

I bought a coffee, settled in, and then worked on catching up on internet-writerly-things while the video uploaded. My decaf coffee ran at at right about the same time I received a notification that the video was uploaded, so perfect timing.

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Watch the Question and Answers Vlog Here. 

I still have a lot of questions to answer in Part 2, and if you have even more questions, just leave them in the comments and I’d be delighted to answer them. 🙂

(And, of course if you want to subscribe or give a thumbs up, that would be fantastic!)

U is for Uncle Izaac #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to the A to Z Challenge. This year I’m blogging about the Behind the Scenes for the Echoes Trilogy – a story a started writing about six years ago.

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Today I’m sharing another snippet with y’all. It takes place after Raquel is on the Island of Outcasts, but before Nicolette has joined them. This snippet features a missive from Uncle Izaac, who I’m featuring for the “U” word for today.

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A knock sounded at the door and Mekayla opened it to find a messenger on the other side.

“We have a missive for the High Guard Keagan.” The messenger held out the paper that was sealed with wax and had Uncle Izaac’s stamp on the back.

“Thank you.” Keagan strode over to the door.

“What does it say?” I asked as soon as Mekayla had closed the door.

“Patience, Raquel.” Keagan’s words were abrupt. “Most likely he’s just making sure we’ve received word of their arrival.” He slid the seal open and his forehead crinkled as he read the words.
“Bad news?” My voice rose in pitch. “Is Nicolette alright?” I felt a spasm of panic.

“She’s fine.” Keagan did not sound convincing.

“Give me it!” I made a grab for the paper and he held it up out of my reach.

“What is it?” Even Mekayla looked worried.

“It’s a minor change in plans.” Keagan opened his mouth and then closed it. Finally after what felt like forever he nodded his head in a decisive manner. “Uncle Izaac writes to say Nicolette has taken the fever but is quite alright. In an effort not to alarm the citizens of the City of Outcasts, and to give Nicolette time to recover, he has proposed that we take Raquel out in disguise and bring her in as Princess Rylie.”

“What do you mean she has the fever but she’s fine?” I stamped my foot. “I want to read the missive for myself.”

Keagan glared at me and then softened his face into an understanding look. “I know tis hard for you, Raquel, but in truth, Uncle Izaac says it’s a light case of the fever and she’s only had it for a few days. She’s been resting in the carriage and will doubtlessly return to health soon enough. You know how the people tremble at the word fever though, hence the reason he doesn’t want them to know.”

“There’s reason the people tremble.” I narrowed my eyes. “My concern is not for the people at this moment but for my sister. She’s all I have and I can’t risk loosing her.”

T is for Tenacity #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to the A to Z Challenge. This year I’m blogging about the Behind the Scenes for the Echoes Trilogy – a story a started writing about six years ago.

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When it comes to the craft of writing, I have a lot of skills that still need to be honed. Like, a lot of them. Looking back to the first fumbling attempts at writing Echoes makes me want to facepalm. It also makes me smile at my adorable little self, and be thankful that I realized even back then that the book was in need of more skills than I possessed at the time. (Cause, let’s just be real: if I would have kept going it not only would have been a waste of time, but it would have also been pretty embarrassing.)

Years ago when I first tried to find an editor to help me with one of my books, I was encouraged by professionals to wait and learn and grow before pursuing publication. It was good advice.

The last six years have seen lots of changes in my writing style, in my writing knowledge, and in my writing level. Yet, at the same time I’m so thankful that I did try and start the Echoes series when I was eighteen. The idea was a winner (literally – I won second place with a pitch contest), and trying my hand at it back then helped give me a passion for the series that hasn’t abated over the years.

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It’s not always easy to be tenacious – especially when spending four or so years just formulating a plan in your head. (Although please, that’s not all I did. I also lived life, wrote other books, and accomplished a lot of stuff. That’s all I did on the Echoes book, though.) But, when a dream is really worth it, then having tenacity is key to accomplishing it. And enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is a pretty important element when it comes to being a writer.

This last week I waded into the third draft of Echoes, which is in reality would be more than the third draft if we counted my attempt from back when I was eighteen. I wrote the first draft of this version of Echoes in November of 2015, and then the summer of 2016 – because yes, I’m doing it again: combining the first and second books in a series. (Apparently I haven’t quite figured out where to start and stop books yet?)

So yes. I’ve learned that having tenacity as a writer is pretty important. Plus, it’s a pretty cool word – maybe one day I’ll name a child or character or pet “Tenacity.” Who wouldn’t like such a strong name?

(Just kidding. I wouldn’t name my kid that.)

(Probably not, at least.)