Monday, December 9, 2019

Top Ten (Twelve) Books of 2019

I'm just going to admit upfront that I can't pick just ten this year. Even with honorable mentions (which I still have). So I'm not going to try. Quick apology to Full Ride, Children of Jubilee, and most of all Redeeming Love for being read last December after I published my top ten list, because they deserve top ten recognition. Also quick apology to whatever I read between the writing of this post and December 31 for not having a chance at top ten status.


I probably should have reread the whole series before diving into this one, but I didn't have time for those big books during NaNo. So I didn't probably get full enjoyment out of it, but I still really very much enjoyed this book. It was both great and heartrending to see the Society struggling with what their lives will look like now that they've grown up and been given great opportunities for their futures, but I'm not going to say what they decide. Tai (new character) is super cute, Constance is as grumpy as ever, and I love Reynie, Sticky, and Kate so much. The plot was a little confusing, but enjoyable, and I probably would have understood it better if I'd reread the series. But I enjoyed it enough to expand my list to 12.

11. Return of the Temujai by John Flanagan

There was a new Brotherband book this year! Now, Brotherband isn't quite as good as Ranger's Apprentice, obviously, but I still enjoy the series because John Flanagan is awesome. This is definitely one of the better Brotherband books, and I kind of stayed up late the night before NaNo started finishing it. Because it got to a point where I just couldn't put it down. It got pretty intense. The Temujai are trying to attack Skandia and take over! It's up to the Herons to stop them. And the poor, poor Heron. It wasn't quite as sad as Tug, but it still made me so sad. Gotta love Thorn and Hal and Ingvar and Lydia. And of course Kloof.

10. The Books of Bayern by Shannon Hale

We're back in normal "top ten" territory with The Books of Bayern. The Goose Girl was a random read I picked up while visiting a new library because it's by Shannon Hale, and I love Princess Academy. I really enjoyed The Goose Girl, and I was pretty emotionally invested. Poor Falada. I mean, I knew it was going to happen because I read through the Grimm version before I read the book, but it was still horrific and heartrending. That said, it was more of just a "like" than a "love" until I read Enna Burning. I wasn't expecting to like it as much because Enna was the main character and not Ani/Isi, but I actually ended up liking it better. Since it was an original story and not a retelling, I felt like she had more freedom and thus it was a better book. I started River Secrets, but had to return it unfinished because Camp NaNo.  So then when I was working on my costume for Realm Makers, I discovered the library had River Secrets and Forest Born on eaudio with a full cast. So I listened to those and loved them so much. Even though each book has a different main character, something which will normally (and almost did) turn me off, they are all amazing, always involve characters that were a part of things from the beginning, and really build off of and tie in with each other. And the Full Cast Audio productions were amazing.

9. Duel at Araluen by John Flanagan

I admit, this one would rank a bit higher if Halt had been in it and if Will had been in more than just the ending, but it was still a really good book and I love seeing Maddie and her parents and their whole family dynamic. Plus plenty of Gilan and lots of danger and sneaking around and Horace being proud of his little girl but also afraid for her safety. And Cassandra having to defend her right to the throne, and Horace and Maddie letting her, but being absolutely ready to step in if need be. And I really do love these characters. I just need another Royal Ranger book, one where Maddie and Will and Halt and Horace go on a mission together because that dynamic would be amazing. Especially if Gilan popped in once in a while. :)

8. Remarkables by Margaret Peterson Haddix

This is the book that finally pulled me out of a major book hangover. I can always count on Margaret Peterson Haddix to give me a great un-put-down-able story no matter how I'm feeling. This book was such a perfect blend of ordinary troubles of a middleschooler who had to move away from her best friend after they had a fight and adjusting to having a new baby brother, and the bizarreness of people who appear and disappear at the house next door. Marin, the MC, isn't the only person who can see them. Charley can too, but he isn't exactly the most friendly, normal kid. I don't really feel like I can say a whole lot more without major spoilers, but it's so raw and emotional and beautiful, and the ending was perfection. Plus, I also loved how normal and natural it was that one of the first things they did moving to a new state was look for a church.

7. The Strangers by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Yup, another Haddix book. Have I mentioned she's one of my favorite authors? This one is the first book in a new series (not sure how many books it's supposed to be), and the new one doesn't come out until next April and just AAAHHHHH!!!! It was such a cliffhanger. Finn and Emma and Chess live with their mother and have a good, secure life, but then they see on the news that three children with their exact names and birthdays have disappeared. Then their mom starts acting strange, having to leave them with someone the children don't really know, and they can't get ahold of her and mystery and science fiction and danger and that cliffhanger! The next installment of Greystone Secrets can't get here fast enough.

6. Romanov by Nadine Brandes

See, this book (and Risked by Margaret Peterson Haddix) are the reasons why I just can't really get that into Anastasia. And yes, I'm aware that Nadine herself likes the movie, but when you've read two really good books about the Romanovs that don't completely destroy history, how can you properly enjoy something that didn't even try to preserve the real story? Romanov is historical fantasy, and it's a very interesting retelling of the story of the Romanovs. The fantasy elements are relatively light until about...three quarters of the way through? And at that point, things really get interesting. So many feels and I love Zash, and it's just so good.

5. Fawkes by Nadine Brandes

Okay, so this book gives me mixed feelings. On one hand, it's an amazing historical fantasy about the Gunpowder Plot and I love the stories and the characters so much, but on the other hand, I stayed up for hours reading it for comfort knowing that the next morning we were putting my dog down and I don't think I can ever separate it from that experience. That was February and I know Sophie was old and suffering, but I still miss my dog terribly. Fawkes, though, was a fabulous book. I love Thomas and Emma and I love the way she wove in so much true history with a fantasy twist, and that cover is absolutely gorgeous. Read my full review here.

4.  The Atonement Child by Francine Rivers

This is the book I read instead of working on Acktorek. Oops. When I start a Francine Rivers book, it's just too hard to stop. Dynah has a perfect life: she's attending a Christian college, is engaged to a man studying to be a pastor, is a proper good Christian girl...and then she gets raped and everything falls apart. Pressured to abort her child from all sides (even and especially Christian ones), Dynah struggles to know just what she is supposed to do. It's a heartrending, multi-generational story that is just so important and meaningful, and I've just got to say, Francine Rivers is a good writer. She does a very good job dealing with tough topics in an inspiring way. Highly recommended, though not for anyone younger than sixteen.

 3. Beyond the Tales by Tricia Mingerink

Dagger's Sleep played a part in my major book hangover a few months ago. It's a Sleeping Beauty retelling, but not really in the way you'd expect. The worldbuilding is rather Native American, but they have castles, so there's a bit of medieval mixed in too. And the prince is cursed to sleep for one hundred years after pricking his finger on his own dagger. I just love Daemyn and Rosanna (the cursebreaker) so much, and Tricia's a beary good writer. Then you've got Midnight's Curse, which is a Cinderella, but again, not in the way you'd think. The glass slippers could be a dream come true, or her worst nightmare. It picks right up shortly after Dagger's Sleep, continuing that story while seamlessly telling another. And there'd better be another book coming before long...and the next Acktar book, of course. ;)

2. No Man by J. Grace Pennington

My heart. First off, I was so extremely excited to finally get a new Firmament book this year! I wasn't expecting it and we got it, and I reread the series within a week, and binging Firmament like that is just...all the feels. It was a really good decision to binge it, since she draws in elements from previous books because, you know, they lived it and it's still affecting them. Plus, Gestern did very much leave us hanging. I love Andi so much. And the rest of my Firmament family. I wrote a full review of it wherein I fangirled like crazy, so I won't rehash all of that, but I can never love Firmament enough. And so far as I know, the next book should be the one where we see Elasson again, so squeeeeeeee!!!!!!!

1. Blood of Kings Trilogy by Jill Williamson

Meet the series that gave me the biggest book hangover I've ever had. Achan and Vrell and I love them so much and I never wanted to say goodbye and I need more of them and I totally want to name a daughter Averella now and these books are so beyond amazing and Jill is a fabulous person too and I love her and you need to go read these books right now. Seriously. Do it. Yes, up until the end of By Darkness Hid I still liked Replication better, but then everything changed and I just can't be coherent about it. Go read what I said earlier this year. Magical telepathy that follows the royal bloodline, princes and knights and squires and strays and adventure and danger and a darkness that's spreading over the land and deceit and hidden identities and just go read it already. And then come back and tell me that I was absolutely right and it was amazing and you're going to be recommending it to all your friends now.


Honorable mentions, because I have to: the original Box-Car Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner which can be found on archive.org, Planet Earth is Blue by Nicole Panteleakos, Light a Single Candle by Beverly Butler, and, yes I'm going to include The Flash series by Barry Lyga as it's a fabulous tie-in to the CW show and I really enjoyed it.


What are your top reads of 2019?

Monday, December 2, 2019

The Horrors of Shopping for Clothes and Shoes

Walmart, oh, Walmart, where are the extra small sweatpants?

If ever you thought clothes shopping was a joyous occasion, you must either have deluded yourself, or not be of the size that all the clothing manufacturers have conspired to discriminate against. If you love skin-tight denim with pre-ripped holes, and your pants size is 8 or higher, rejoice, for the clothing manufacturers are your best friend. You have endless styles of jeans, skinny, straight, boot cut, ripped and not. You have numerous choices of sweatpants and active wear pants. All the color selections are available to you. No alterations necessary.

But alas, if you wear a size 4, prepare yourself for clothing discrimination.

At Ross and Beals, there is nothing that will fit you, since you're larger than a 14-year-old, but apparently not as large as a woman is supposed to be. And when you go to Walmart, you finally find styles of pants that are satisfactory, but you may have to clean out their stock of size 4 jeans in your style, and still have to alter the sweatpants because the "S, 4/6" is actually just a 6 and they don't carry XS. When you find the one section of active wear pants that carries an XS, your choice of color is narrowly limited because even here, where they have XS, the bulk of the stock still leans heavily towards average to large waist people, very obviously discriminating against small waist people.

In the end, you buy the only two size 4 straight cut jeans on the shelf and resolve that you have no choice but to alter the sweat pants so the 2" too big waist doesn't slip off. And wonder why on earth the clothing manufacturers hate small waist people so much. And you feel sorry for the next small waist person walking into Walmart to replace their worn out pants because you've narrowed the selection even further.

And then there's the discrimination against people with big feet. Why, oh, why is the 9 1/2 section so small? And if your foot happens to be larger than mine, your luck is just the same or worse.

Why is it that the five size 9 1/2s on the shelf at Ross are either hideous or acquired from extortioners exploiting the necessity of big-footed people? Why is it that I must constantly settle for a less than ideal shoe or continue to walk around in shoes with holes in the sole? More than once, we've searched store after store for a pair of shoes to replace my worn out pair, only to come home with a cute pair for my small-footed sister instead.

Do the shoe manufacturers think that big-footed people only care for hideous styles? Do they think we can't pull off a cute shoe the way a size 6 person can? Do they think we have endless funds to pay $60 for a pair of sneakers? Must we bring back foot binding so we can have all the choices of the small-footed people?

This is discrimination. Put on weight and bind your feet, or you will never find clothes and shoes.


P.S. While the experiences recounted in this post are 100% true to life, the claims of discrimination are satirical and intended to illustrate that anyone can find anything about which to claim discrimination. Lets just get over ourselves, stop focusing on the differences that divide us and focus instead on the things that unite us.

P.P.S If you've ever wondered why I wear so many skirts and only own a handful of shoes, read the above post.

Friday, November 29, 2019

The 2019 Black Friday Sale Is Here!

https://sale.perrykirkpatrick.com/

It's sale time!

This is your opportunity to get nearly 300 ebooks free or $0.99! You can get the entire Time Captives trilogy for a total of just $1.98, which is a rare and awesome deal you won't want to miss. Plus so many others!

Visit sale.perrykirkpatrick.com for all the purchase links and stock up on books for Christmastime!

https://sale.perrykirkpatrick.com/search-listings/?q=&c=-1&cf%5B67%5D=morgan+elizabeth+huneke

Monday, November 25, 2019

Thanksgiving in America and Black Friday Sales

by WallBuilders

The tradition introduced by European Americans of Thanksgiving as a time to focus on God and His blessings dates back well over four centuries in America. For example, such thanksgivings occurred in 1541 at Palo Duro Canyon, Texas with Coronado and 1,500 of his men; in 1564 at St. Augustine, Florida with French Huguenot (Protestant) colonists; in 1598 at El Paso, Texas with Juan de Oñate and his expedition; in 1607 at Cape Henry, Virginia with the landing of the Jamestown settlers; in 1619 at Berkeley Plantation, Virginia; (and many other such celebrations). But it is primarily from the Pilgrim’s Thanksgiving celebration of 1621 that we derive the current tradition of Thanksgiving Day.

The Pilgrims set sail for America on September 6, 1620, and for two months braved the harsh elements of a storm-tossed sea. Upon disembarking at Plymouth Rock, they held a prayer service and then hastily began building shelters; however, unprepared for such a harsh New England winter, nearly half of them died before spring. Emerging from that grueling winter, the Pilgrims were surprised when an Indian named Samoset approached them and greeted them in their own language, explaining to them that he had learned English from fishermen and traders. A week later, Samoset returned with a friend named Squanto, who lived with the Pilgrims and accepted their Christian faith. Squanto taught the Pilgrims much about how to live in the New World, and he and Samoset helped forge a long-lasting peace treaty between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians. Pilgrim Governor William Bradford described Squanto as “a special instrument sent of God for [our] good . . . and never left [us] till he died.”

That summer, the Pilgrims, still persevering in prayer and assisted by helpful Indians, reaped a bountiful harvest. As Pilgrim Edward Winslow (later to become the Governor) affirmed, “God be praised, we had a good increase of Indian corn”; “by the goodness of God, we are…far from want.” The grateful Pilgrims therefore declared a three-day feast in December 1621 to thank God and to celebrate with their Indian friends – America’s first Thanksgiving Festival. Ninety Wampanoag Indians joined the fifty Pilgrims for three days of feasting (which included shellfish, lobsters, turkey, corn bread, berries, deer, and other foods), of play (the young Pilgrim and Wampanoag men engaged in races, wrestling matches, and athletic events), and of prayer. This celebration and its accompanying activities were the origin of the holiday that Americans now celebrate each November.

However, while the Pilgrims enjoyed times of prosperity for which they thanked God, they also suffered extreme hardships. In fact, in 1623 they experienced an extended and prolonged drought. Knowing that without a change in the weather there would be no harvest and the winter would be filled with death and starvation, Governor Bradford called the Pilgrims to a time of prayer and fasting to seek God’s direct intervention. Significantly, shortly after that time of prayer – and to the great amazement of the Indian who witnessed the scene – clouds appeared in the sky and a gentle and steady rain began to fall. As Governor Bradford explained:

It came without either wind or thunder or any violence, and by degrees in abundance, as that ye earth was thoroughly wet and soaked therewith, which did so apparently revive and quicken ye decayed corn and other fruits as was wonderful to see, and made ye Indians astonished to behold; and afterwards the Lord sent them such seasonable showers, with interchange of fair warm weather as, through His blessing, caused a fruitful and liberal harvest, to their no small comfort and rejoicing. (1,300 more words)

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I'm participating in a Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale again this year! Creighton Hill will be free during the sale, while the rest of Time Captives and Twisted Dreams will be $0.99! And don't forget, you can always get Espionage: A Companion to Time Captives free for signing up for my newsletter. ;)

This sale isn't just about my books, though. There are so many others that I love you can get for less than a dollar, including, but not limited to Ilyon Chronicles, The Blades of Acktar, Firmament, and The Rizkaland Legends.

Go ahead and check out the website! You can preview the sales now, but note that the prices advertised won't be valid until Friday. You can also click "going" on the Facebook event to get a reminder when the sale is live. You don't want to miss these awesome deals!

Monday, November 18, 2019

The Resistance Audiobook is Here!


As you all know, I'm a huge fan of everything Jaye L. Knight writes, and as you may or may not already know, I love listening to audiobooks. So what better thing is there than to combine the two? Resistance is now available on Audible through the voice of narrator Lance Rasmussen! Find out more and listen to the sample below. And don't forget to enter the giveaway! You can see the other tour posts here.

About the Book


"Don’t you know? Animals like you have no soul."

Could God ever love a half-blood all of society looks upon with such fear and disdain? Jace once believed so, but when a tragic loss shatters the only peace he’s ever known, his faith crumbles as the nagging doubts he’s tried to put behind him descend on his grieving heart. With them come the haunting memories of the bloodstained past he longs to forget, but can never escape.

Taken from home at a young age and raised to serve the emperor, Kyrin Altair lives every day under a dangerous pretense of loyalty. After her unique observation skills and perfect memory place her into direct service to the emperor, Kyrin finds herself in further jeopardy as it becomes increasingly difficult to hide her belief in Elôm, the one true God.

Following the emperor’s declaration to enforce the worship of false gods under the penalty of death, many lives are endangered. But there are those willing to risk everything to take a stand and offer aid to the persecuted. With their lives traveling paths they never could have imagined, Jace and Kyrin must fight to overcome their own fears and conflicts with society as they become part of the resistance.

Available now on Audible and iTunes!



Haven’t discovered the world of Ilyon yet? Find out more at the official Ilyon Chronicles website!

Book Sale!


Now is the perfect time to get into the series! Starting Friday, November 29th, all books from Ilyon Chronicles will be discounted. You can even get the prequel novella for free! So be sure to check them out on Amazon.

About the Author
Jaye L. Knight is an award-winning author, homeschool graduate, and shameless tea addict with a passion for Christian fantasy. Armed with an active imagination and love for adventure, Jaye weaves stories of truth, faith, and courage with the message that even in the deepest darkness, God’s love shines as a light to offer hope. She has been penning stories since the age of eight and resides in the Northwoods of Wisconsin.

You can connect with Jaye on her website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Etsy.

About the Narrator
Lance Rasmussen is an audiobook narrator and actor based in Denver, CO. A graduate with a BFA in Acting from Utah State University, and an MFA in Acting from Louisiana State University, he now narrates and produces audiobooks from his home studio while working at various regional theaters across the country. More information can be found at www.lanceras.com. Follow him on Instagram at @LCRasmus

Giveaway
Share in the excitement of the release and enter to win one of 3 copies of the Resistance audiobook! Winners will receive a free download code to use on Audible. Open internationally!

It's NaNo Time

Which basically means I have no brain. I was doing really well, keeping ahead, and then I hit some really terrible days where I just can't focus...and I'm not really sure what I'm doing next in my book. One character who I intended to put in a position where she could finally start getting the information she needs ended up stuck in a cell in the dark without any of her equipment, and I'm not sure what the other MC can do about the situation. It'll be interesting once I figure it out.

Reading...isn't exactly something I have time for during NaNo, but with my inability to focus on writing, I read The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Riddle of the Ages instead. And watched Disney+, because I'm so excited it's finally here and The Mandalorian is pretty cool. Baby Yoda is so cute! (Obviously it's not Yoda Yoda, but it's not like we know what his species is called.)

I'm going to try to get back where I need to be with NaNo, but I guess we'll just have to see.


Monday, November 11, 2019

What Is Success?

The other day, a friend of mine was talking about things you should do to be successful. Fairly standard things...make your bed every day, keep your car clean, read your Bible every day, live debt free, serve your way to the top. And I was all "why am I not successful?" Because I do these sorts of things. (Can't say I've served my way to the top, per se, and I know I don't always have the right attitude when I serve, which kind of misses the point, but part of why I don't make very much is because I tend to undercharge/give things away, and I'm always really uncomfortable being at an event and not working.)

And then it hit me: I was defining success by the world's terms. I was defining it by how many dollars enter my bank account every month, by the fact that I've never been anywhere close to the New York Times bestsellers list, by the fact that my music studio remains small, by the fact that I haven't written well enough to publish another novel in years...

But being rich and famous isn't success.

And it isn't even really what I want, when I think about it. Success isn't measured in how many dollars are in your savings account, or how high your book is on the Amazon bestsellers list, or whether anyone of importance ever knows your name.

Success is living fully for God every day of your life.

I know I've written similar posts before, but this is just something that hit me again the other day. Because I know it in my head, but I don't always (often) live it in my heart.

The more things don't go the way I wanted them to, the more I doubt. The more I struggle to trust that God has a plan that is better than mine. I thought I learned that earlier this year. Apparently not. It's probably something I'll keep learning throughout my entire life. I've been frustrated and angry and bitter. I had to get my heart right with God. And ask Him to give me trust in Him, because I can't do it myself.

Because my life doesn't look like what I thought a "successful" life should look like. But just because I don't make anywhere close to enough to live on from book sales doesn't mean I'm a failure as an author. Just because my music studio is small doesn't mean I'm a failure as a music teacher.

If I'm touching other people's lives, showing them God's love and shining His light into their lives, then I'm successful. And not because of what I've done, but because of what God does through me. 

Success is surrendering to God.

Not being rich and famous. But living fully for God every day of your life.

Making my bed every day and living debt free are good habits that teach me to be a good steward of what I've been given. But if I think doing those things is going to put me on the New York Times bestseller list, I've missed the point.

Putting God first in my life won't necessarily make me successful in the world's eyes, but it will make me successful in God's eyes. 

And that's what truly matters.

Monday, November 4, 2019

I Hadn't Intended To Do NaNo (Again)

About a year ago, I had decided never to do regular NaNo at all, and never to do Camp NaNo again. I had some good reasons. 

First, generally speaking, I'm not a particularly fast writer. I didn't think it was humanly possible for me to write 50,000 words in 30 days. But then last April happened. I used Camp NaNo as motivation to get the second draft of Acktorek finished (and rewrites for the third draft started), and I managed to write roughly 70,000 words* in 2/3 of a month. A second draft, yes, but mostly new material. Including several 7,000+ word days. It was insane.

*I can't remember my exact stats, and all the stats from last April were lost in the NaNo website transfer, which I'm not happy about, so I can't verify the exacts.

So clearly, my reason for not doing regular NaNo was invalid. If I work hard enough and focus hard enough, I can write 50,000 words in 30 days.

Second reason, and my reason for deciding not to do any NaNo again, is that I get obsessed with stats. Anything with numbers, actually, whether it's word count, my personal budget, population statistics for my worldbuilding, birthdays and age gaps, or literally anything you can convert into numbers. Which is weird, because the only school subject I liked less than math was Latin. (Algebra reviews were kind of fun, though, if only because it gave me a break from geometry proofs. And multiplying and dividing fractions can be cool.) My stats obsession contributed to fluff sections in my writing trying to make word count, and, combined with multiple other factors, did damage to my writing quality.

And, unfortunately, my tendency to obsess over stats and other numbers still 100% exists. So that's always a worry that I'll have. However, it's all in having the right focus. If I'm just trying to make word count, that's a problem. But if I'm using NaNo simply as an incentive to finish writing a book, it's a different matter. My April Camp NaNo work doesn't have a lot of fluff to make word count. In fact, I started working on an alternate version of a section for draft 3 at the end of NaNo because I'd finished the book before I hit word count.

So I've decided to do NaNo this November. My first regular NaNo. And I'm not even a rebel for continuing work on an already begun draft. :( 

What am I working on? Acktorek 2. Which needs a better working title, but anywho. I wanted to get the book at least half written by the end of the year, and I estimate that NaNo should get me into the climax, at which point I should be home free. I'm learning more about who Emma and Mitchell are in this book (worldbuilding Mitchell's home also helped), and I'm going to use what I've learned to go back and revise/rewrite book 1. Then rewrite book 2. And then I want to draft a book 3. Because I want to make this a series. And somehow fit in other series/standalones in between. Especially now that I know I can write pretty fast when I really set my mind to it. Maybe I won't win, and that's okay, but if I've at least got myself past the midpoint of the book, I'll be happy. And if I finish the book, I'll be even happier.

I'm doing NaNo. And I'm absolutely going to be watching Month of the Novel for, er, inspiration?


P.S. This post was written and scheduled on NaNo Eve (if that's not a thing, it is now), so by this time, I'm hopefully not flailing in a sea of words.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Firmament: No Man Review

https://www.amazon.com/Firmament-Man-J-Grace-Pennington-ebook/dp/B07YSH7YVY/
She doesn’t have much longer to live.

Losing the last of the radialloy puts Andi’s life in immediate danger and sends her, August, and the Doctor rushing towards the demolished Qandon system in search of more. Their speeder is crippled, a powerful man is desperate to stop them -- and they are running out of time.

Meanwhile, Crash has escaped from prison and is hiding somewhere in Hungary, hunted by assassins who have instructions to kill him if Andi and the others don’t return to Earth in one week. The only person on Earth who can help him is Guilders, who very nearly despises him.

Is there more radialloy out there? Can Crash and Guilders make it to safety? And will Andi ever be able to return to the way of life that she loves so much?


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*cue incoherent screaming*

It's been several days, and I'm still not sure I can coherently review this book. It was just so good—Grace's books always are—and some of the things that happened, I just can't even.

I reread the whole series in about a week, which was definitely a good decision, since I'd forgotten a lot of the details, and now I don't know what to do, even though I've got the new Brotherband book out from the library. Because Firmament and Andi and August and Crash and the Doctor and the Captain and Guilders and Elasson and Ursula and Almira...

POSSIBLE SPOILERS FOR FIRMAMENT: GESTERN

Andi is dying. Really dying. Like, no more radialloy to keep the angiophages from completely destroying her lymphatic system dying. She and August and the Doctor are in the Alacrity I, heading for the Qandon system as quickly as they possibly can to find more radialloy, only they can't use tracking because somebody very much doesn't want them to reach Qandon and be able to expose his misdeeds. They need someone who can help them track without being tracked, and though it's someone the Captain recommended, with people chasing after them to stop them, it's hard to know who to trust. And they're running out of time because ANDI IS DYING. So many emotions.

Then you've got Crash, escaped from prison, sick, with only Guilders available to find and help him. And there are bounty hunters after him, more than willing to shoot to kill. They just need to get to the embassy in Budapest and they'll be safe. If they can get there. And he and Guilders never did get along, and Crash has to admit that his own attitude vs. Guilders's impeccable character is the reason.

We get to see more of the galaxy, and it's always nice to add to the worldbuilding. See more of the technology, other planets and space stations and all that. It was also great how things from Gestern were being tied up, and how events from Reversal Zone were still very relevant.

AND [name redacted] DIES AND IS NEVER COMING BACK AND THINGS ON THE SURVEYOR WILL NEVER BE THE SAME AND I JUST CAN'T. I was in shock. I'm still kind of in shock.

Book Talbot is the only real new character I can think of in this book (well, and a few random minor characters), and I did end up liking him, though I wasn't sure at first. And feeling a bit sorry for him, even though I'm not on his side on that issue. I already have a ship. Fingers crossed I'll find out if I'm right in the next book.

I loved spending so much time with all my old friends from the Surveyor. Even if one of them (and possibly another?) is never coming back. :( They're like family. My Firmament family. And I love them so much.

And need the next book, like, right now.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Pick One Genre? Nope.

Why do I genre hop/genre mix? Short answer: Because I like both sci-fi and fantasy (and historical fiction) and don't feel like picking just one.

I've been thinking about genres and subgenres some here lately, probably partially due to some webinars I've done for work. Some of them I didn't enjoy too much, but the sci-fi and fantasy ones were pretty good. They're available on YouTube, so you can totally watch them if you want. The NoveList training session at the end of each video probably isn't as useful, but if you have a GA library card, you can access NoveList using the GALILEO password. Just ask your local library. It does change every few months. And NoveList is a pretty useful tool.

Anyway, library resource plug over.

I've always found it difficult to choose genres when listing my books on Amazon. For instance, in Across the Stars, they travel on a spaceship to a planet where there is a castle and dungeons and flintlock rifles and swords. They live in a galaxy where other planets use technology, but they choose not to. Technically, it's science fiction, but the feel on-planet, the storyline, the tropes are more fantasy.

Time Captives is primarily fantasy. They go through a portal to a world with elves and merfolk and dragons ruled by an evil queen they have to defeat. But you've also got the Bremsi, a restraint set in the middle of an island that will send a fatal electric shock into anyone with the DNA of the royal family who crosses the border. Which seems a little more sciencey than you typically find in fantasy.

And then there's the Acktorek series I'm working on, which I consider science fiction, but yet I wonder if it would be better considered science fantasy since my "other worlds" concept is really more like fantasy worlds, just some of them have tech.

Twisted Dreams is most blatantly both genres, as one world Liesel is in is a somewhat standard fairy tale fantasy world and the other is straight up interplanetary sci-fi, albeit in a world that is not our own.

Often I wonder if this is part of why I struggle with marketing. Someone in the Realm Makers FB group the other day created a poll asking if you write for a niche market. And the more I think about it, yes, I do. But, like, a bunch of niche markets.

I write for the Narnia fans, the ones who like portal fantasy with rightful heir/chosen one-type tropes. But I also throw in pirates and gladiators and kids from history because I can. And other times spaceships.

I write for those who enjoy dystopian and biological experimentation...actually, The Experiment is one of my two most straightforward books regarding genre. But it's so different from Time Captives.

I write for those who like space opera/science fantasy like Star Wars, but I set it in another world so I can write stuff like aliens without the theological implications of actually writing aliens. But still with people who live in castles and have dungeons as easy to escape as the Camelot dungeons that inspired them. And of course biological experimentation because while I can't explain why I love the concept so much, I do.

I write for people who like the superhero genre, which typically is considered a subgenre of sci-fi. But I like completely different other worlds instead of parallel worlds so I can do anything. And I throw in a sprinkling of space opera feel because I like Star Wars and Dickensian London because I like Dickens and strange scenarios to solve that aren't quite sci-fi, but have enough fake science to not be fantasy either because I can.


So I'm a genre mixer. But you know, that's okay. Because while there are a lot of people who read genre fiction, I'm sure there are people out there who like both Star Wars and Lord of the Rings and who also enjoy a good super hero movie. Because isn't that what speculative fiction is all about? Using your imagination to put new and unique twists on all the things you love?

And you know what? I googled what subgenre Doctor Who fits, and discovered what deep down I probably already knew. That while its main genre is sci-fi, it dabbles in basically all the spec fic genres.

So maybe it would be easier to find my market if I wrote straight up genre fiction. In fact, I know it would be. But that's not me. I like too many different things to tie myself down to just one. And it's more fun to soar on the wings of pure imagination, creating something that's a unique blend of Star Wars, Narnia, The Flash, Doctor Who, and something else that's all my own.

I'm a genre mixer and that's who I am.

And I highly doubt I'm the only one.

Monday, October 14, 2019

The Story of the (Fantasy) World

Or, Why I Haven't Been Writing Much.

Me listening to people who like worldbuilding talk about it: That sounds like so much fun! I can't wait to do it!

Me sitting down to worldbuild: There are so many different aspects to creating a culture. It's too overwhelming. I'm not going to do it.

Me writing a story with very little worldbuilding: I don't know anything about this place. I can't write this book. I guess I need to worldbuild. But it's just so much!

People who like worldbuilding: You don't have to know everything. Just worldbuild what you need.

Me: How do I know what I need? I've got to create a whole culture. Maybe I'll just make it up as I go along.

Me looking back at a messy draft: None of this worldbuilding makes sense. It's so inconsistent.

Me staring at my blank worldbuilding notebook: But I don't know what to put here.

My sisters throwing out all kinds of crazy ideas: All they eat is spaghetti! *note: this is a family joke because of earlier versions of Acktorek...they actually had a lot of genuinely useful ideas*

Me typing up their ideas and my own that they've sparked: You know, this actually is kind of fun.


This is basically my last few weeks. I did a little writing on the Espionage sequel, but mostly I've been working on worldbuilding for three—yes, you read that right—THREE different worlds. Because brilliant me who mostly hates worldbuilding and swore never to create another world after Calhortea came up with an absolutely fabulous idea to...write a series where I have to worldbuild anew for every. single. book.

Essentially, Acktorek is a company that sends people to other worlds to help with issues. It's like the Jedi Order meets Doctor Who meets Team Flash, but world travel rather than space travel, and worlds that are completely different from our own, not just parallel versions of earth. The possibilities are endless! And...so is the worldbuilding.

I was writing book two when I realized that I couldn't keep going on like this, making it up as I go along. Because the fact was, I was only making up the bare minimum and it showed.

This was something I sort of realized sitting in Jill Williamson's worldbuilding class and Ronie Kendig's dialogue and subtext class. My characters have so little background, so little culture, so sparse a setting that it's hurting the rest of the book. There is no richness to the backdrop, there is no flavor to their speech.

So I've been worldbuilding. Sometimes it's fun. Sometimes it's like pulling teeth. Especially since I'm doing three worlds at once (Mitchell's homeworld, the world with Acktorek, and the world their mission is in). But it's necessary.

My only issue is speech. I have the hardest time coming up with phrases and making up slang words to fit these cultures. But I'm determined not to have Mitchell sound American or Emma sound like a southerner, so I'll get there. Eventually.

And my stories will be better off for it.

P.S. Why is it so incredibly difficult to find pictures of Dickensian London? There are five hundred thousand British period dramas out there! Where are all the Pinterest pictures?

Monday, October 7, 2019

No Man Cover Reveal

We're getting a new Firmament book next week! *does happy dance* It's been two years—TWO YEARS!!!—since the last Firmament book, which is way, way, WAY too long. Especially when SPOILER FOR BOOKS 4 & 5 ANDI IS DYING! END SPOILER Problem is, I'll get to the end, and then I'll have to wait AGAIN for the next book. And for whichever book Elasson will be in. Grace has promised me he'll be back at some point.

Oh, goodness, the nostalgia that just swept over me as I looked at the cover for Radialloy and read my review. Has it really been six years since I discovered the awesomeness that is books written by Grace? And here we are, getting book 6, and I just know it's going to be amazing. I've got the cover and synopsis for you, but I'm going to make you scroll through the previous books first, because I'm just feeling like that today. ;) Click on the pictures for my reviews and purchase links.

https://morganhuneke.blogspot.com/2013/09/radialloy-review.html

https://morganhuneke.blogspot.com/2014/01/in-his-image-review.html

https://morganhuneke.blogspot.com/2014/11/firmament-machiavellian-review.html

https://morganhuneke.blogspot.com/2016/10/firmament-reversal-zone-review.html

https://morganhuneke.blogspot.com/2017/08/firmament-gestern-review.html

And coming October 15th!


She doesn’t have much longer to live.

Losing the last of the radialloy puts Andi’s life in immediate danger and sends her, August, and the Doctor rushing towards the demolished Qandon system in search of more. Their speeder is crippled, a powerful man is desperate to stop them -- and they are running out of time.

Meanwhile, Crash has escaped from prison and is hiding somewhere in Hungary, hunted by assassins who have instructions to kill him if Andi and the others don’t return to Earth in one week. The only person on Earth who can help him is Guilders, who very nearly despises him.

Is there more radialloy out there? Can Crash and Guilders make it to safety? And will Andi ever be able to return to the way of life that she loves so much?

It's going to be awesome!

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

'Twas an Evening in Bethlehem Review

'Twas an Evening in Bethlehem is here!


‘Twas an evening in Bethlehem and all through the day
Many guests were arriving from far, far away...


The inn is full, but when a young, expectant couple arrives, the innkeeper cannot turn them away. Follow this beloved tale through the eyes of the innkeeper’s young daughter as she witnesses the glorious surprises of that very first Christmas and rediscover anew the gift of the manger that ultimately points us to the cross.


My Review 

If you're looking for a new Christmas book (and even if you're not), this is a beautiful retelling of the true story of Christmas. It's written in verse, much like The Night Before Christmas, but it's all about what Christmas is really about. The illustrations are beautiful and wonderfully painted. I highly recommend it.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Free eBook!

I have an announcement to make! The new edition of Espionage: A Companion to Time Captives is here and the eBook is free to newsletter subscribers! All you have to do is sign up, and you'll get to download the book in the format of your choice.

Already a subscriber? You get something extra! What, you might ask? Keep an eye on your inbox tomorrow and you'll find out. ;)

Also, if you subscribe before midnight, October 15th, you are eligible to win a paperback of the brand new edition of Espionage!

I'm sure you would like to see the cover. I'm super excited about it. So here it is!

https://www.amazon.com/Espionage-Companion-Morgan-Elizabeth-Huneke/dp/1733046240/

About the Book

“Sir Roland has invited us to visit for the Autumn Feast.”

“Do we have to go, Papa? I couldn’t feast with the most crooked politician in all of Briznom.”


As the daughter of a Briznomian vassal lord, Vannie Cumberland has spent her childhood immersed in the world of politics. Relations between Briznom and the neighboring country of Calhortz are
strained due to the tyrannical rule of the strytes. A proposed alliance could calm relations between the two countries, but would come at the cost of Briznom’s freedom.

When her father’s political archenemy invites them to the Autumn Feast, Vannie uncovers an evil scheme endangering the life of someone close to her. Personal enmity comes to a dangerous head as Vannie struggles to expose the corruption and stop the alliance. Time is running out.

Events are becoming too big for her to handle. Will Sir Roland’s son help or will things finally spiral out of control?


A tale of treachery and political intrigue in a turbulent time, Espionage is a companion novel that sets the stage for Crannig Castle, the final installment of the Time Captives trilogy.