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!

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.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Thirst Cover Reveal

I have a cover reveal for Jill Williamson's upcoming book today! As you know, I'm a huge fan of Replication and the Blood of Kings trilogy, and of Jill herself. Jill's so awesome! So I'm super excited to share her new cover with you. The book is called Thirst and it's a prequel to The Safe Lands trilogy, which I haven't read yet, but really want to read. (Naturally, I must read all her books.)

Before I give you the amazing cover, here's a little bit about the book:
The end of the world is only the beginning. A waterborne disease has contaminated the world’s fresh water, decimating the human race. Seventeen-year-old Eli McShane and his friends flee the chaos and violence in Phoenix and journey north toward the rumored location of a safe water source. They add several to their number, including the mysterious Hannah, who is being hunted by a dangerous man. Desperation brings out the worst in many of the travelers, infecting even those closest to Eli. When division comes, will he be able to hold his group together or will each fall victim to their own thirst for survival?

Join some old friends from Glenrock and Jack's Peak in this thrilling first book of the Thirst Duology. Best-selling author Jill Williamson has brought back the breathtaking suspense of the The Safe Lands series in this chilling prequel that will leave readers panting for the next installment.

 Doesn't it sound awesome? I can't wait to read it! It'll be here in November!

So here's the beauty in several angles.

Isn't it amazing? I just really need to hold it in my hands right now. November won't get here fast enough!

Monday, September 23, 2019

Do Not Fear

     "To save yourself some hurt, you hurt yourself? What kind of way is that to live?"
     She shrugged one shoulder. "A safe way?"
     He released a gusty laugh. "Is this what you call safe? It's not a safe way, Sparrow, it's a pathetic and lonely way. Sparrow, sometimes life is scary. Get over it, and live."
From Darkness Won by Jill Williamson

I've been thinking a lot about fear lately, because of this and a few other things. Because fear tends to be such a constant part of life. And something that can so easily hold us back from what God wants us to do.

I can't say much about the context of this quote because of major spoilers, but let this suffice: Sparrow has been running from what she's supposed to do because of fear. Fear of all the possible ways it could be or could go wrong. Some of those fears are legitimate, but in giving in to her fear, she's not trusting that God is stronger than those things.


It's so easy to give in to fear. So easy to do nothing because the path ahead of us is scary and unknown and we might fail. News flash: you're going to fail sometimes. But it's better to try and fail than to sit at home doing nothing out of fear. 

I received my first rejection letter a few weeks ago. It's disappointing. It's painful. It's hard not to give in to despair and "I'm a terrible writer" and just give up. But isn't it better that I tried? I'm not going to give up. Yes, it was terrifying going to Realm Makers and pitching my book to professionals. So many times I wanted to back out and just sit at home doing nothing. But I'm so glad I went. So glad I pitched my book, even though so far all that's come out of it is a rejection letter. Because I didn't give in to fear. I learned so much prepping for the conference, in the sessions at the conference, I met so many people, I got to spend time with friends I might never have gotten to meet otherwise. I don't know what God's going to use this experience for down the road, but even with a rejection letter, I'm so glad I didn't let the fear win.

I have to be perfectly honest and say that when I got that rejection letter, I wanted to give up. I was very much tempted to let that failure define me, stop me, end my journey. But I'm not going to do that.

You can learn from failure. I learned things from my pitch appointments. I'm even learning things from the rejection letter as I reflect on the book. It's all in your perspective. In believing like Thomas Edison that we have only found 10,000 ways not to make a light bulb. As Christy Wright says in Business Boutique, "Failure isn't fun but, believe it or not, it's actually a good thing. That's because failure is a sign you're out there, you're trying, and unlike so many people, you're actually doing something."

God knows that we're far from perfect. He knows that as hard as we try, we're still going to make mistakes. And He is sovereign over it all.

And know what? Sometimes we don't fail. I'd submitted Creighton Hill to Readers' Favorite for a review, and about a week after I got my rejection letter, I got an email that my review was ready. I couldn't remember my login, so I couldn't check it on my phone at work, and, still struggling with the emotions from the rejection, I was terrified to read the review. I was literally writing a bad review of Creighton Hill in my head as I waited for my computer to boot up after work, preparing myself for what I was about to read. And I got a five star review! Which puts my book in visible places on their website, gives me a medallion to put on the cover, and gives me a positive editorial review to use any way I want. And if I'd given in to my fear and not read the review (I really didn't want to read it), I wouldn't even know.


So let's think about it. How much do you really learn from giving in to fear?

Maybe that you don't think God is powerful enough to use both your strengths and weaknesses, your successes and failures for His glory?

Because that's really what you're doing when you give in to fear. You're saying, "Yes, God, I know that You created the entire universe by speaking it into existence, but I don't really trust that You are powerful enough to take care of all the things about this situation that are scaring me. I don't really trust that You are in control and will use it for Your glory no matter the outcome." And frankly, that kind of attitude is wrong.

I'm not saying I've never had that kind of attitude. God has taught me a lot about trust these last few years as I mentioned in this post. But that fear, that lack of trust is wrong. It's cowardly. And it means that you're letting the devil hold you back. 

Yeah, you might be scared. That's life. Do it anyway. If you wait until you feel completely ready and totally fearless, you'll never do anything. Bravery isn't not being scared. It's doing it anyway.

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."

Who wants us to be too scared to step out of the boat and do the things God set before us? I'd say it's pretty obvious that it's the devil who wants us to do that. So long as we sit scared, thinking about things instead of doing them, we're not furthering God's kingdom. We're letting the devil win. And we can't do that.


Furthermore, the Bible says over and over again not to fear. Yes, fear is a normal part of being human. But it's also part of our sin nature. According to the Westminster Shorter Catechism, "Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God." And explanation of terms from the Catechism for Young Children: "What is meant by want of conformity? Not doing what God requires. What is meant by transgression? Doing what God forbids." God tells us not to fear. If we give in to that fear, let it overcome and control us instead of trusting in Him as He tells us repeatedly to do, then in my book, we're not doing what God requires and instead doing what God forbids. Now, like any sin and temptation, we can't overcome it without the power of God, but that's a discussion for another day.

God can overcome our fear. We can trust that He has it all taken care of. We can step out of the boat, do the scary thing, and leave the results to God. Because He has a plan for it. Everything that happens will be part of God's plan. We're as safe in battle as we are in bed. So do not fear.

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." —Joshua 1:9

"Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." —Isaiah 41:10

"When I am afraid, I put my trust in you." —Psalm 56:3
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." —Proverbs 3:5-6

"But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior." —Isaiah 43:1-3a


So yes, life is scary sometimes. Giving in to that fear and hiding from what God wants you to do might feel safe, but it's pathetic and lonely. Life is scary. Get over it and live.

And if you haven't read Blood of Kings yet, I don't know what you're doing with your life.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Charles Wallace Murry--A Wrinkle in Time

Please allow me to introduce you to my little brother.

What? You mean I can't claim Charles Wallace as my little brother? I'm Meg Murry, right?

Okay, so maybe he's not my little brother, but I always wanted him to be. Once as a kid, I made up a little brother named Charles Wallace—though, if I remember right, that was a part of a fantasy that somehow combined an Indian in the Cupboard style cupboard with...a dance studio. Don't ask. I don't remember how it all worked. Just know that whenever I name a character Charles it's after Charles Wallace Murry. And if all you know about Charles Wallace is from the 2018 movie, forget everything you know right now. Even the personality was radically wrong for my baby brother.

Charles Wallace is a blond haired, blue eyed five-year-old, though I actually picture him like this because of the TV movie:

He's different. Somehow new. A very special little boy.

He's the youngest of the Murry children, about five years younger than the twins, and brilliant far beyond his years. But so not like anyone else. He didn't begin talking until he was nearly four—after his father had disappeared—and with none of the usual baby preliminaries, using full sentences. But he doesn't usually talk to people outside the family, except to Calvin, who basically is family, and, well, people who aren't from Earth. He always seems to know things, to be able to read people, to communicate in ways that are beyond speech, which we learn in A Wind in the Door is kything. A language beyond speech, beyond telepathy, even. He's kind and sensitive, often seeming older than Meg (who's probably about 12, since she's older than the twins [10] and younger than Calvin [14], but it's unspecified).

And just so smart. Here's an example from the book:

"I'm a sport."
At that, Charles Wallace grinned widely. "So'm I."
"I don't mean like in baseball," Calvin said.
"Neither do I."
"I mean like in biology," Calvin said suspiciously.
"A change in gene," Charles Wallace quoted, "resulting in the appearance in the offspring of a character which is not present in the parents but which is potentially transmissible to its offspring."
"What gives around here?" Calvin asked. "I was told you couldn't talk."
"Thinking I'm a moron gives people something to feel smug about," Charles Wallace said. "Why should I disillusion them?"

But because he's so far beyond everyone in his normal world, he has much more confidence in his abilities and his strength than he should. His pride and arrogance may—and do—cause his downfall, but that brings me to the next bit of his story that's just so sad (and also why he's a difficult character for such a young actor to play, though David Dorfman did a really good job).

He thought he could go into the Man with the Red Eyes, go into IT, and keep part of himself out. He thought he was strong enough. But he wasn't. And Charles Wallace controlled by IT was so cruel and evil. So not himself. It took the power of love to bring him back. Meg's unconditional love for her baby brother. This sweet little boy who's so very, very special.

And then in the next book, the Echthroi—those who destroy—are trying to kill him. He's so important to this fight of good vs. evil, has so much more to do, that they go into his very mitochondria, become part of his farandolae, to destroy him. And it's up to Meg and Calvin and Proginoskes the singular cherubim to save him. My poor baby brother.

Then in A Swiftly Tilting Planet, the fate of the world is truly on his shoulders as he uses kything to "go within" people throughout history, changing "might have beens" to prevent nuclear war.

He's such a hero. So smart. So special. So empathetic and kind. And I still wish he was my brother.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Puddleglum--The Chronicles of Narnia

Favorite character post!

Puddleglum, the only character Pauline Baynes asked for extra advice on how to draw.

Puddleglum is a Marsh-wiggle. He lives in a wigwam in a marsh at the northern end of Narnia, just south of the Shribble and Ettinsmoor. He's quite a wet blanket, always expecting the worst, and, well, Eustace says he's always wrong, but that isn't strictly true.

Saying that the wood would be wet, or it would rain and put out the fire, or that eel stew would poison Jill and Eustace, or that inside the suit of armor could be a skeleton or someone invisible, or a hundred other things aren't quite true. But when it comes right down to it, Puddleglum is wise and sensible and he was the one who saved them all.

I do have to wonder, though, what the other wiggles are like. Considering "They all say—I mean, the other wiggles all say—that I'm too flighty; don't take life seriously enough. If they've said it once, they've said it a thousand times. 'Puddleglum,' they've said, 'you're altogether too full of bobance and bounce and high spirits. You've got to learn that life isn't all fricaseed frogs and eel pie. You want something to sober you down a bit. We're only saying it for your own good, Puddleglum.' That's what they say. Now a job like this—a journey up north just as winter's beginning, looking for a Prince that probably isn't there, by way of a ruined city that no one has ever seen—will be just the thing. If that doesn't steady a chap, I don't know what will."

Puddleglum may overreact to imagined dangers, but when it comes to real ones, he's spot on. He didn't trust the Lady of the Green Kirtle, and he didn't think going to Harfang was a good idea. He did see that they were in a ruined city, he just wasn't forceful enough to make Jill and Eustace stop and see. He's loyal and determined, and helps the children do all they need to do in their quest. Even though Jill takes offense when he suggests she isn't remembering the Signs correctly. He's far from perfect, what with his wet blanket, pessimistic complaints, but he's still wonderful and has some good quips. Like this bit:

"Many have taken ship at the pale beaches," replied the Warden, "and—"
"Yes, I know," interrupted Puddleglum. "And few return to the sunlit lands. You needn't say it again. You are a chap of one idea, aren't you?"

And I love this:

"And you must always remember there's one good thing about being trapped down here: it'll save funeral expenses."

But the best part about Puddleglum, and I think everyone will agree, is his speech in Underland. I'll let it speak for itself.

"One word, Ma'am. One word. All you've been saying is quite right, I shouldn't wonder. I'm a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won't deny any of what you said. But there's one thing more to be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things—trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that's a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We're just babies making up a game, if you're right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world that licks your real world hollow. That's why I'm going to stand by the play-world. I'm on Aslan's side even if there isn't any Aslan to lead it. I'm going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn't any Narnia. So, thanking you kindly for our supper, if these two gentlemen and the young lady are ready, we're leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for Overland. Not that our lives will be very long, I should think; but that's small loss if the world's as dull a place as you say."

He's faithful and amazing, and as Jill put it, "You're a regular old humbug. You sound as doleful as a funeral and I believe you're perfectly happy. And you talk as if you were afraid of everything, when you're really as brave as—as a lion."

He really is quite the reshpeckobiggle. XD

*all pictures are photographs of my copy of the full-color collector's edition of The Silver Chair, illustrated by Pauline Baynes

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Tiny Little Rocks

I'm updating Espionage to match Time Captives! Espionage is integral to understanding Briznom's role in Crannig Castle; however, it's been sort of left out in the cold. On its own. But no more!

I've got the cover redone, and those who have seen it love it! It's still the same general concept (I couldn't get rid of that) with the same model. Incidentally, the same girl I mentioned last week as being my student/honorary lil sis in our Hunger Games medley. See why I couldn't change it? But I did put her in a better forest, played with the photo effects, and redesigned it to match Time Captives. I have a proof copy on the way for the paperback, and I have something special planned for the ebook. More details on that coming soon. :)

Now, when I did the original edition, well, I decided last minute to draw pictures for chapter headers. In 2 1/2 days. Because I is crazy. Well, I was happy with most of them. Particularly the one of Vannie for the last chapter. But the one for the penultimate chapter...well, let's just say buildings are NOT my favorite thing to draw, I was tired of drawing, and I cheated. This is how it turned out.

I didn't like it, even from the start, but I was too tired and lazy and ready to get a proof to redo it. So I promised myself that when I did a second edition sometime in the future, I would redraw the picture. I hate me.

I hadn't intended to do this second edition so soon any more than I had Time Captives, but after Realm Makers, I decided I needed to go ahead and [details redacted] and to do that, I needed to do this second edition. So out came the sketch pad and the pencil and the reference pictures (well, the sketch pad was already out because of another secret Time Captives project I'm working on), and did just about everything else before I actually drew the picture. Because all the tiny little rocks. 😠 

I like drawing. Well, I like drawing people. I do not like drawing hundreds of tiny little rocks. But I'd made myself promise and I couldn't go back on it. And a couple days and lots of Disney music later, I finally finished. And I'm SOOOOOOO glad I did it. Even with all the tiny little rocks.

And now I can't wait to get my proof and share it with you and announce what I'm doing with the ebook, and with my other Time Captives project (though that one's much more labor intensive and will take a while), because it's going to be awesome!

But I've just got to say, this sign for a library display was MUCH more fun to draw.