I cannot even explain how excited I am about this latest installment of TRWC!
Like all of TRWC, this one has been a labor of love. I think out of all of the books in this series, this was the toughest to write, but also my favorite. I put a lot of myself and my past into this series, laying my guts on the page with every word I write. Never has that been more true than in Resilience.
I completely lay myself bare in this story, giving you an inside look into some of the deepest hurts and darkest times of my life through Liz. It’s not pretty. It’s not soothing. It may even be difficult to read for some.
But it’s honest, real, and as raw as you can get. It is quite literally my guts on these pages.
Here’s a peak into that world.
~The fiercest warriors emerge from the most brutal storms.~
Liz and Ryland Vaughn have fought hard to survive every threat that’s risen against them. But nothing they’ve faced compares to the battle to come.
As they settle in to married life, all seems perfect and quiet. Too quiet. Being a warrior doesn’t allow for peace.
Then one vicious moment throws their world into upheaval and rips their hearts to shreds.
Wanting to get away from it all, they accept a mission to New Orleans to assist fellow warriors. Ryland hopes the time away will repair the rift between them, but the chasm only widens as they face an enemy so subtly horrific, they don’t even know they’re falling.
As they descend into darkness, Liz’s past once again rears its ugly head.
This time, it takes Ryland along for the ride.
Can Liz and Ryland undo the damage to their marriage and hang on to their faith while completing their mission? Or will they fall to temptation and lose everything they’ve fought so hard for?
As I promised, this series keeps getting darker. Resilience doesn’t disappoint in that aspect. And there’s one big reason.
Lucifer has arrived in the TRWC world.
In the story, we know him as “Dom”, but don’t let the pretty facade fool you. The epitome of evil lurks inside that suave, handsome package. Of course, evil wouldn’t be able to do its job if it wasn’t tempting, right? And “Dom” brings the temptation in spades.
Not to be upstaged, Tiriana brings the pain with her own special brand of torture.
She’s up to her same old tricks, but this time, she’s pulling out all the stops. She’s going for the win and holding nothing back to get it.
Don’t worry, it’s not all gloom and doom for our favorite warriors! With several new characters, and a brand new setting in New Orleans, there are plenty lighter moments.
And of course…
I hope you enjoy this latest addition to the TRWC world. Thanks so much for your support! Don’t forget to go grab your copy!
And what would a post from me be without some music? Today I’m sharing Liz and Ryland’s song. It’s like it was written just for them. Give it a listen. I dare ya not to cry if you’re already #TeamLizAndRy! ❤
I’ve told you all about Michelle Dare’s latest release, Where I End, now it’s time to get personal with the author herself. She joins us today to show us a piece of her process and lay her guts on the page.
Michelle, thanks so much for letting me pick your brain! I won’t ask too many hard questions. Well, I’ll try. Okay, so I’m going for the throat! Hehe. This is Guts On The Page, after all! So let’s jump right in.
1.) Why do you write?
Because I love it and if I don’t, my characters will drive me crazy.
~Yeah, I know that feeling!
2.) What do you want people to take away from your books, first the fantasy, then the new adult?
I want them to be able to escape reality for a little bit and live in another world in my fantasy books. To feel what it’s like flying on the back of a dragon or being able to use magic. With my new adult books, I want to pull on the reader’s heartstrings and show them that even in the darkest hour love can survive.
~I hear you. And it’s great when you can combine all that in one genre.
3.) Where is your favorite place in the world? Favorite place to write?I love the Outer Banks in North Carolina. I would live there if I could. I don’t have a favorite place to write. It’s more of where I can keep an eye on the kids and dog while working.
~Ah, a chick after my own heart. Love that Salt Life on the beach!
4.) Do you listen to music when you write? If so, do you have playlists for your books? If not, what kind of music do you like to listen to?
No. If I do, I end up singing and dancing in my seat instead of writing. I listen to a little bit of everything.
~Yeah, when a song hits you just right, sometimes you just have to move!
5.) What or who was your inspiration for writing Where I End and Where I Am?
Cy from Where I End came to me in a dream and once he started talking, he didn’t stop until his story was told. After readers read Where I End they started asking for Parker’s story. Once he popped into my head, he never left. He’s such a different character from Cy but they each have powerful stories to tell.
~And we love them both! You tell their stories so well.
6.) And now a really tough question, which one do you love the most, Parker or Cy? Why?Bwahaha!
*Gasp* I don’t think I could pick a favorite. I love them equally. But I will say, even after Parker’s story was told, he never left my head. He talks to my other characters and jokes with them. He’s a lot of fun.
~He does seem like the type to have plenty to say.
7.) What drink do you have to have with you when you’re writing?
I don’t drink and normally don’t even have water near me. But I usually have a snack like chips or something.
8.) Do you prefer writing love scenes or fight scenes and why?
I enjoy writing fight scenes. The ones where the characters are arguing because they are packed full of emotion and I love writing down what’s going through their heads. The passion, the love, the hatred, whatever it is, the emotions are strong.
~Same here. A good fight runs the emotional gamut!
9.) Other than the people and fur babies in your life, what is one thing you cannot live without?
Lots! My SUV, phone, Kindle. Oh and chocolate! I have an obsession with Hershey Kisses and M&Ms.
10.) Do you have any further plans for books with Cy and Parker?
I don’t have plans to give them more of their own books but one day may write Blair’s book. I have her story in my head but also have a long list of other books to write as well.
And now we end with the rapid fire questions. Clear your mind and say the first thing that pops into your head.
~Music: loud or soft? Loud
~Hot drink: tea or coffee?Coffee
~Favorite genre to read? YA
~Favorite musical artist or band?Maroon 5
~Peanut butter or jelly?Neither
~Gordon Ramsey or Bobby Flay?Ramsey
~Celebrity crush?Jeremy Renner
Thanks for joining us, Michelle! Can’t wait to see what you come up with next!
I’ve heard a lot about Bernie the mischievous cowboy guardian, and I can’t wait to meet him! Author Brianna West brings the fun, the adventure, and the heat with this third installment. But enough with me rambling about it. Here’s the blurb and an excerpt that’s sure to get you hooked. Then check out the links below for the FB party, and ways to stay in touch with Brianna, and find out more about her fabulously fun paranormal stories.
Nyla, born and raised in the In-Between realm as the princess of the Spiritum Bellatorum, has been betrothed from birth and forced to conceal the true personality within in order to project herself as nothing but the perfect princess she was taught to be.
When her brother betrays their kind, Nyla acquires an unprecedented mission to find and convince him to come home. Teaming up with the Promiscus Guardians to locate her runaway brother in the mortal realm, Nyla is introduced to the resident comedian and self-proclaimed cowboy Guardian, Bernie.
He is everything she wishes she could be outwardly and she’s instantly intrigued by his happy, easy-going nature. But, like Nyla, Bernie is keeping a part of himself tightly locked away.
What will happen when their barriers start to come down? Will they be able to overcome so many obstacles laid out before them, or will their relationship be torn apart before they have a chance to find something deeper?
And as promised, an excerpt!
Holding me underneath my arms, Bernard lifted me into the air with another shout of joy. “Aren’t you just the prettiest gal at the ball!”
He said I was pretty! He actually said it!
Rigid and unable to get my body to react more than it currently was with my hands painfully clutching his shoulders, I gasped and then forgot how to breathe altogether. I was put down before I could get my brain to work properly, swooped up underneath my knees and carried out into the hallway without a breath in between.
Red suffused my body like I’d been immersed in sweltering heat, blushing a violent blood color. Finally, I was able to deliver a swift, unforgiving hit to the overstepping Guardian. The damaging blow my fist dealt to his stomach took Bernard straight to his knees. And a swift second later, my dagger was at his throat the instant his knees hit the floor.
I kept a weapon on my person always. Even in my cute, frilly dress.
“What right do you have—” I started in a low growl.
Bernard leaned forward, coming within inches of my face and baffling me when he pushed his throat into the blade. I instantly retracted my arm so that the dagger didn’t cut into his skin. And when my eyes flicked back up to his face, Bernard was grinning mischievously.
It was downright illicit the look he gave me. It made my heart start up in my chest and pulse thud loudly in my ears as I hesitated with the dagger still gripped firmly in my hand. Bernard took hold of the wrist that held my weapon, caressing the skin he touched with his thumb. Instantly, I dropped the dagger to the floor, the loud clatter echoing off the walls.
“You are mighty pretty in that dress, miss,” he said in a soft, whispery voice. One I hadn’t been prepared to hear from him.
Electricity shot down my spine and my heart skipped a beat. “What…?”
“You’re not being very nice to this lovesick cowboy,” Bernard continued, grasping my wrist tenderly and taking us to our feet.
But after a few breaths, he still hadn’t pull away and I couldn’t move; only listen as his deep, enchanting baritone continued to murmur to me as only a lover would, making my cheeks incredibly hot with each uttered word.
I’m thinking I need to snag the first two books, then grab Bernie and go hide away with them for a while! Won’t you join me? Get your copy here:
I’m stoked to bring to you the cover reveal for Sloane Nichole’s debut Paranormal Romance!
Already firmly established in contemporary romance, author Skye Turner is joining us over here on the dark side! She’s tapping into her massive talent to bring us tales full of fantastical creatures, magic, and of course, her trademark steamy romance. I cannot express how excited I am to get a hold of this book! But until then, I have a few things to tide us all over.
Read on to find out why I’m so excited about this release!
Deep in the bayous in the south of Louisiana, lies a place of revelry, mystery, and magic…
Antoinette Dubois, an Intuitive, has always been a beautiful woman, with no interest in falling in love…
One fateful night on the banks of the bayou, under the light of a full moon, events start unfolding that have Antoinette losing control of her powers…
René Batiste has always been by Antoinette’s side. Together, they seek to reverse the upcoming calamity and to protect Antoinette.
René has loved Antoinette his entire life, but the curse on her family is dangerous for those who love the Dubois women, and means Antoinette is determined never to succumb to love.
However, fate has a tendency to make its own rules…
Welcome to L’Amour Bayou… where beauty and magic reside and nothing is as it seems.
***This book is intended for those 18 and older. It contains graphic language and adult content. Those against those things should NOT read!***
And now for the amazing cover!
How gorgeous is that cover? If I’ve whet your appetite and have you chomping at the bit to read the first installment of this new series, stay tuned. I’ll have more information and buy links as soon as they are available. While you’re waiting, find Sloane here to keep up to date on all the latest happenings and maybe even find exclusive content and behind the scenes info!
In the Reluctant Warrior Chronicles, I write about heroes and heroines who fight demons. But what makes them heroes? Is it the way they face down the enemy on the battlefield? Is it because they reach out to help those around them, or rescue those in untenable situations? Is it because they rally together to encourage one another and carry each other through the toughest battles?
I think it’s all of the above and more.
A hero can be something different to each person. They may be a warrior, a parent, a friend who is there for you, someone who takes care of you, a volunteer, or a survivor who has decided to no longer be a victim. They can be strangers or family, friends or lovers, male or female, young or old.
How do you define a hero?
That’s exactly what I want to find out. I’m starting a blog series titled “Heart of a Hero”. The purpose? To shine a light on those who make a difference in the lives of the people around them. To give credit to those who do so much, yet often fade into the background, working their goodwill and making sacrifices no one may ever know about. Using real people, I want to show, not just tell, what the true definition of hero is. I want to know what a hero is to you.
Girl comforting her sad depressed friend and holding her hand, support and friendship concept
Togetherness is helping people to defeat their problems
Silhouette of helping hand between two climber
volunteer group hands together showing unity
Starting April 1st and running all month, I want to share stories of not just my own heroes, but yours as well.
Twice a week, I’ll post about a hero of mine and tell you what makes them a hero to me. Maybe they were there for me when I needed someone most, maybe they’ve battled addiction or disease and won, or maybe they have sacrificed for myself and others. Whatever the reason, they are my heroes and I want the world to know.
Also in the posts, I will highlight one or two of your heroes. I want to know the people you look up to and admire and why. I want to know about those who make a difference in your life and the lives of others every day. I want real-life, everyday, unsung heroes.
All you have to do is email me at: AmyBrockMcNew@gmail.com, and tell me about your heroes. I want to know what makes them special, unique, and worthy of the title of hero. You can even include pictures if you like, just be sure to give me written permission for their use.
I look forward to hearing about the heroes in your life, and sharing about those in mine!
As I sit here on release day for my second novel, I’m in awe. I have two books published. It’s surreal.
Three years ago, almost to the day, I began this journey. I finally gave in to my sisters’ urging (The none too subtle or gentle urging. More like shoving me off the cliff!), and sat down to start writing a book. I hit the keyboard with no idea what I was doing, no concept of how to get where I wanted to be.
I just wrote.
I stopped overthinking, let my fingers fly, and out poured the story that had been churning in my gut.
I was scared. Terrified, really. Putting so much of my own life into the tale was…exhausting, nerve-wracking, embarrassing, crazy-making, eye-opening, gut-wrenching, and so much more. I poured my blood, sweat, and tears onto those pages. Quite literally at times. I worked through my issues as Liz worked hers out on the page.
I faced my fears.
I unearthed those hidden hurts I’d buried so deep.
I confronted the rage inside me, rage I thought I’d conquered.
I walked through the agony, despair, and abandonment.
I met myself in those pages.
The self I’d tried to forget and pretend didn’t exist. The self with her heart still isolated, cut off and determined not to really let anybody in. The self that never fully let herself trust. The self who raged at the world, at those who had hurt her, and yes, a little at God, for “letting” some of those things happen to her.
The self who had yet to forgive, and had no idea she was poisoning her life, holding herself back, limiting her own potential and hurting the ones she loved.
And as I climbed up in the middle of all that mess, as I waded through to find the true me, the true Liz, the whole story underneath all the debris, a miraculous thing happened.
I began to heal.
I cried. I laughed. I threw things. I laid into the heavy bag and split my knuckles open several times. (Don’t forget gloves.) I shivered and screamed and begged God. I opened myself up, every dark recess, every secret corner, and I looked that broken girl who had no idea she was still broken right in the eye. I begged her to forgive. To laugh. To love. To fight. To trust, like she’d never been capable of before.
Though the battle rages on, she continues to stand tall. To face her fears. To step into the hot zone and eliminate the threat.
And every time I write another installment of this story, my story, I pick up my sword and I face down those demons.
But I don’t go it alone.
They say it takes an army. I’m convinced that is true.
The army behind me and my story? Second to none.
The only way I’ve gotten to this point is because they’ve been with me. No way could I have undertaken this mission on my own and succeeded.
It’s overwhelming when I really think about it. The sheer number of people I have supporting me is unreal.
My husband. My kids. My sisters. My brothers. Aunts and uncles and cousins. My friends. My publishing team. My Realmies. My loyal readers. There are too many to label individually, unless I wanted this post to be three days long.
These people have fought countless battles with me. They’ve guided me, cried with me, laughed with me, held me, taught me, encouraged me, and kicked me in the butt when I needed it. This series would not exist if not for them, and I am forever grateful.
So as I celebrate another release, another piece of my story out in the universe, I think of these people. I think about the army that surrounds me. The Realm Warriors. They’ve got my six and I’ve got theirs.
As this battle continues, I know I will never fight alone.
Today I have another special guest on Guts on the Page, author S.D. Grimm. Plus, a giveaway!
S.D. just released her latest fantasy, Scarlet Moon, Book One in the Children of the Blood Moon series. I’ve just started reading and, trust me, you’re going to want to get your hands on this book!
I took this opportunity to ask a few questions and find out exactly what makes this promising author tick. Here are the results.
First, I got the scoop on the real S.D.! You know, all those important, burning questions.
~What’s something we wouldn’t know about you just by looking?
Well, I do like Brazilain jiu jitsu, kickboxing, fencing, and shooting. Archery is next.
A woman after my own heart. This chick is dynamite in a small package. Don’t set her off!
~If you were a superhero, what would be your super power?
Invisibility. But that’s not the superpower I’d want. I’d want to be telepathic.
Hm. Not sure I’d want to know what most people are thinking! If I had to choose, I think I’d go for telekinesis. Who wouldn’t want to be able to move things with your mind?
Now let’s get to what we all know is one of my favorite topics, in addition to fighting. Which we covered. 😉
~Do you listen to music while you write?
YES! But not while I edit. I need to hear the cadence of the sentences when I edit.
I can see that. Myself, even if I’m doing an out loud read, I gotta have the tunes. It’s like oxygen for me.
~Name one song/artist you’re embarrassed you like.
Haha! “Call Me Maybe”
Wow. Okay. So maybe I’m wishing I hadn’t asked that question! But, sometimes there are no explanations for why a song resonates with you. Or just gets stuck in your brain.
~Here’s the question that really tells us a lot about someone. What’s your favorite fandom?
I have way too many. I love Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, a bunch of anime, the first seasons of the Vampire Diaries and Supernatural, DC and Marvel, Harry Potter, some 80s cult classics, Buffy. I mean, I’m pretty well-rounded when it comes to this kind of thing.
I am right there with you on LOTR, Supernatural, and Buffy. Now I understand a little more of why we get along so well!
Now on to a little more serious type questions.
We all know I live and breathe speculative fiction. I read it, watch it, write it, and sometimes, live it. I’ve always been drawn to the strange, paranormal, and wonderfully weird. So I gotta know,
~Why do you write speculative fiction? What draws you to it?
Magic. I love the endless creative possibilities of fantasy and sci-fi. Something about this genre sparks to life the kid inside me that makes me want to share the wonder I experience in believing and hoping and knowing the impossible is somehow possible. I like to encourage others to embrace that inner child and believe it too.
It does have unlimited potential, doesn’t it? Nothing is too far outside of the box. The only limit is your imagination.
~When did you start writing?
In elementary school. I wasn’t serious about trying to get published until seven years ago, and that’s when I started writing Scarlet Moon.
~What’s a normal writing day like for you?
I’m not sure normal is the right word, but when I write I sit with my laptop somewhere or in my little cubby in the basement, and I turn on some music and I write. Prepping for that includes thinking about upcoming scenes, which I do while I do chores, or take a shower, or right before I fall asleep. I have been caught brandishing a wooden spoon in the kitchen while simultaneously cooking dinner and “head-writing” a fight scene. *blushes*
Yay! I’m not alone! Why is it that the best scenes, especially fight scenes for me, come to you at the weirdest times? And, then there’s the fact that I can’t seem to just think them, I have to act them out.
~What was your inspiration for writing Scarlet Moon?
I love animals. The novel I wrote prior to this one (which sits in a proverbial dark, secret drawer) was about animals. All the characters were animals. And one day I decided to get serious about publishing. Then I decided I was going to write about people. I still wanted animals to be a big part of the story so I chose to write about a race of people who can commune with nature. These people basically get certain talents or abilities from animals—and they reciprocate, giving animals certain abilities too. Then I researched some really cool animals, including mythological ones, and the story world really grew from there.
~What is Scarlet Moon about? Told from multiple point of view characters, Scarlet Moon is a young adult fantasy about Jayden, a seventeen-year-old, dagger-wielding, storm-detecting orphan who can save the race of people known as the Feravolk from a sorceress queen bent on annihilating them. Maybe they should have thought of that before they killed Jayden’s family.
It’s sounds amazing. I can’t wait to dive in deeper.
Thank you so much for letting me pick your brain today!
If you would like to win a signed copy of Scarlet Moon, all you have to do to be entered is like mine and S.D.’s Facebook pages! Her link is above, mine is below. Once you’ve liked, comment here to let us know so you can be entered.
If you would like to know more about S.D. and her stories, check out the links above and below. And definitely get your hands on a copy of Scarlet Moon!
S. D. Grimm’s first love in writing is young adult speculative fiction. She is represented by Julie Gwinn of the Seymour Agency and her debut novel, Scarlet Moon, is slated to be published in October 2016. When she’s not writing or editing, Sarah enjoys reading (of course!), making clay dragons for her Grimmlies store on Etsy, practicing kickboxing and Brazilian jiu jitsu, training dogs, and doing anything outdoorsy with the family. Her office is anywhere she can curl up with her laptop and at least one large-sized dog.
Two friends and a Jeep. Loaded to the gills. Headed to Nashville, Tennessee for the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference. They had plans to take their first year at the conference by storm, learning all they could, meeting new friends, and hugging those they’d only met online. They were determined to make their presence known in the best of ways.
Their brilliant plan was nearly sidetracked, and their song of joy partially transposed into a melody of sorrow in a minor key only a couple of hours after they arrived in Music City.
As they sat down to lunch, a short text that seemed innocent and sweet and the two minute phone call that followed changed everything.
“Hey, Mom, I just wanted to say I love you.”
This picture was taken seconds before my son sent the above text. I showed that text to everyone at the table. It was just like my sweet son to send a loving note like that. The call that followed cast his message in a whole new light.
One of my friends was on the other end, wind screaming in the background, panic squeezing her voice. She told me there was another tornado plowing through our neighborhood. She was on the way to get my son, who was home alone. My brain shut down. My body went numb. I looked at the friend sitting to my right and said,
“I can’t do this again.”
When the last tornado hit in November 2013, it was bad. This time was worse. My seventeen year old baby was all alone. In the middle of the monster. Was he okay? Did he make it to the bathroom for shelter? Was that text his way of telling me goodbye? All these thoughts boiled my brain as it went into lock down mode.
I don’t remember much of Wednesday evening. Numerous calls and texts. The girls praying with me and holding me. Being kept off of Facebook and away from the news. We went to eat at a local restaurant. I remember the music. I remember standing on the balcony and watching the water below. I remember I did eat something, at my friends’ orders.
Then finally those words came I’d been dying to hear all afternoon.
Everyone is okay. All the kids are accounted for and safe.
I wanted to go home, but was instructed by my husband and friends to stay put. There was nothing I could do, and my husband didn’t want me to have to deal with the mess at home a second longer than I had to. I fought them. I was two seconds from jumping in the Jeep and breaking the laws of the land and physics to get home to my husband and babies.
Then I met Dineen and Heather.
They found me roaming the lobby, I’m sure looking lost and pitiful. They prayed with me. They spoke peace and common sense into me. Both of them felt what I already knew but wanted to deny anyway: I was there for a reason. They refused to believe the timing was a coincidence. Looking back, I agree. I have no idea how I would’ve handled being in the middle of another storm, as I was still dealing with emotional issues from the first one. They convinced me, albeit begrudgingly on my part, I should stay and get what I could from the conference. Gain strength to take back home and share.
For once, I obeyed, and stayed put. I’m so glad I did.
I crawled into bed Wednesday night weary and hurting. It took me hours to fall into a fitful sleep. Finally Thursday morning dawned. It was then I noticed something I hadn’t the night before in my hurry to hide under the covers and wish it all away.
A concierge named Vincent had sent a basket of goodies and a note expressing his sympathy for what had happened at home and his hope my weekend would improve. In that basket, among other things, were two treats I adore and rarely get. One you can’t buy up North where I live now, and the other is hard to find.
GooGoo clusters and Moon Pies.
His simple act of kindness, added to the love and prayers of my friends, were what propelled me out of my stupor. As I enjoyed a GooGoo Cluster for breakfast, I prepared myself anew for the conference. I became determined to milk every last drop out of the weekend. To fortify my armor. To be stronger than ever.
I began to push aside all the depressing, crazy-making thoughts and focus on where I was. It wasn’t hard. Being surrounded by friends, sisters and brothers, made it easier to shove my troubles back and find my joy. Throughout the weekend, especially Thursday, I had my moments. Ups and downs. But there was always someone by my side to pull me up and out of the down times. I am forever grateful.
Then came Friday morning. I’d signed up for a class I knew would be highly beneficial to me. As I sat down, the instructor immediately gave valuable information I could use to better my manuscripts. But something felt off. Not with her, with me. I had a nagging feeling despite what I could glean from this class, it wasn’t where I was supposed to be.
After about 10 minutes, I left. I roamed the halls, trying to decide where to go. Looking for answers. I passed a room with the doors wide open and heard the speaker, Allen Arnold, say something that demanded my attention.
Okay. I sure needed a miracle. One I didn’t want to need. Hmm. I had to hear what he said next. I rushed inside and chose a seat. That’s when he said he had something for us. Notebooks he’d prayed over and written messages in. There were no names on them, and he handed them out randomly. He was confident they would go to the right people and be the exact message they needed. When I reached up to take mine, our eyes met and he grinned and nodded. In that moment I knew. I was in the right place. That was only confirmed as I opened my notebook to read the message it contained. Tears flooded my eyes and I instantly froze. The first line said:
My toes began to hurt from being stepped on. Yep. He’d nailed it.
The confirmation that this class, this conference, was precisely where I was meant to be just kept coming. That note? Only the beginning.
With each keynote, each class, I was challenged. Challenged to write with God. To see things from a different perspective, whether it be a storm I’m going through or the people and things around me. To become one with God, with the universe, and let myself be used as a conduit. To discover myself as I write. To write for the sake of my own transformation. That the only way to change was through a shake up.
I had to step out of the boat and into the turbulent sea, having faith He would hold me.
Another class that really resonated with me was called “Soul Care for Authors”. Boy, did I need that one! They talked about four aspects: Spirit, Soul, Body, and Community. I learned that God is not a teacher who fathers, He’s a Father who teaches. That He wants that deep communion and intimacy with each of us. That sometimes things would be beautiful and messy, but we had to be willing to say yes to the invitation. We had to be ready to jump on that ride God was inviting us on.
So many crossed my path, some unknown to me before the conference, who became close friends. Allies. They saw the light when all I saw was darkness. My roommates Michele, Jebraun, and Terri. My friends Lauren, Ralene, Sara, Sarah, Morgan, Dawn, Naomi, JC, Ronie, Amy, Elizabeth, and Cynthia. So many others. Their paths collided with mine in what could only be these special God moments. People sent to me, to love, encourage, and hold me up. They were my Aarons and I am so thankful for them.
Aside from having my soul, mind, and spirit fed by a sumptuous buffet of instruction, and gaining strength from all I was given, there were multiple lighthearted moments that infused my heart as well. From the genre dinner to the awards gala, to dinners out on the town, to hanging out in the lobby talking about everything and nothing. These precious hours of fun recharged me. They steeped me in joy I would need when I went back home. Not all God appointments are serious and somber. He knows we need the levity to balance the heaviness. And He provided for me in spades.
Yeah, my trip didn’t go according to plan.
Really, when does everything go exactly how we planned it? I would’ve certainly preferred not to have to go through this particular storm and deal with the things I faced once I returned home. But I wouldn’t trade the rest of that weekend for anything. If I had to do it all over again, I would still make the choice to stay. God knew where I needed to be and when, and He put me there. He knew I needed these people, the teaching I received, the fellowship, the strength He gave me through them, and the conversations that forced me to think differently and stretch beyond my limits.
Yes, God can truly use anyone, anything, any situation, to do some amazing stuff and bring incredible good to us. It’s mind boggling how He knows each of us so well, and knows exactly how to nudge us along.
Fire purifies. It transforms. I will allow it to transform me, to change my perception. I will be the Phoenix, rising from the ashes, stronger than ever. My greatest hope is that you will do the same.~
We are privileged to have Nadine Brandes, author of the extraordinary ‘Out of Time’ series, with us. Book One, ‘A Time to Die’ is available, and two weeks ago, Book Two, ‘A Time to Speak’, released to the public.
I caught up with Nadine one afternoon soon after book two’s release.
Thanks for taking the time to share with us today, Nadine.
Okay, first, tell us a little about yourself. Also, give us a little known fact about you or something that might surprise people.
Thanks so much for having me, Amy! 🙂 I’m an adventurer who loves to write stories soaked in imagination. My day job is freelance editing (which basically means I get to read ALL DAY!) 😉 I’m passionate about pursuing life, seeking shalom, and eating Oreos. I currently live in Idaho, my heart is in Missouri, and hubby (aka: dragon knight) and I want to live in Russia someday.
And, in total transparency, I’m a huge dork and Harry Potter super-nerd who loves her soapboxes. 😛
I’m with you on having a passion for finding shalom, and the Oreos, too! Life is better with both. Russia is a little chilly for me, but I can see where it would have it’s appeal.
I’m curious, where did the idea for the Out of Time series originally come from?
Though I don’t like being cold, hubby and I have a heart for the people in Russia — hence the hopes to move there at least for some part of our lives. 🙂
The origin of the Out of Time Series came when I was in graduate school. An acquaintance of mine passed away very suddenly while doing ministry in Africa. He was my same age and that was the first time, I think, that I realized my life might be short and I didn’t know it.
His death caused me to ask the question: “What am I doing with my life?” And if I knew how long I had to live, would I live differently?
I’ve always processed through stories, so with a heavy life-changing question swirling in my mind, I poured it out into a store and, thus, A Time to Die got its first draft…ultimately transforming my life and mindset in the process.
I get that. I think the most profound and moving stories come from our real life experiences. From using our own trials, pains, and questions, or working through them on the page. A Time to Die also had an intense effect on me as well. I could see myself in the story, and it made me look deeper. Often, seeing things I didn’t want to. But that’s what the great stories do. They resonate deeply with the reader, leaving them changed.
Now, a quick off the wall question, because I’m so random sometimes! Coke or Pepsi, and any particular flavor?
Coke. Normal. Because it keeps me from getting airsick. This is what I drink every time I’m on the airplane. Pepsi is too sweet for me. 😀 Other than that, I don’t really drink pop.
Yay! Another Coke fan. We can remain friends. 😉
Oh phew! 😉
Everyone knows that we as writers tend to furiously devour others’ works when we aren’t knee deep in our own, or when we need a break. What book is your go to, the one you could read over and over? And, who is your favorite character from any of the books you’ve read?
Harry Potter is a definite go-to. It shaped me into a fantasy-lover and devourer of all things speculative. Also, The Hunger Games trilogy for dystopian, because it inspired me to write a dystopian with hope in it. I also go to the Mark of the Lion Series, which leads me to my favorite character — Hadassah. She’s a character who makes me want to live, to love, and to seek God more passionately.
Harry Potter and Hunger Games are a couple of my favorites as well. And I love that there is that thread of hope and faith in A Time to Die. That’s what sets Christian Speculative fiction apart from the general market, I think. Speculative stories tend to be dark and although some still are, like my own, we as Christian writers offer that bit of light. All is not lost, there is always hope, because we have a God who is bigger than it all.
Mark of the Lion series is on my TBR pile. I keep hearing excellent things about it.
Speaking of characters, here’s a question that could be tough for an author to answer. Who is your favorite character from your own books?
That /is/ a tough question! Obviously, I lean toward Parvin because she’s the main character and I totally relate to her the most. But, if I were to enter the story myself and be besties with a character, I’d want it to be Solomon Hawke. He’s easily my favorite and, if you’ve read A Time to Speak (book 2) then you’ll get a glimpse why. 😉
I base “favorites” off of whether I’d be friends with them in real life. Solomon is that character.
Ooh, yes, Solomon is one of my favorites, too! I’ve only read the first book yet (the other is waiting for me to get my to do list caught up), but I’ve seen enough of him to know he’s someone I want to get to know better.
I kind of felt for Jude, though. Seemed to me like he got the rough end of life. He was prickly, but still relatable.
Yes, Jude would definitely be my next favorite, although I didn’t like him when I first wrote him. Isn’t that odd? He was the hardest to get right, but once I got it he becomes more and more attached to my heart every time I re-read book one.
I’ve had characters of my own that, starting out, I thought would be my least favorite, or least likeable. Then they turned out to be the ones I adored. It is odd! It’s like they grow on us when we’re not paying attention.I know book two just released, and I’m curious, how many books do you see in the Out of Time series?
There will be three. 🙂 I never intended it to be a trilogy, it was originally intended as a standalone but then the story changed a bit and I had to make a second book…which grew into a third book. But it’s officially finished at book three. I can guarantee this because I’ve just finished the 5th draft. 😉
Awesome! I was hoping there would be at least one more.
Okay, one final question that I ask everyone I interview. What is your favorite verse? The power verse that gets you through. And what is your favorite quote?
I guess that’s two questions! lol
My current favorite verse is Isaiah 60:1-3:
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and His glory will be seen upon you. And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.”
I love this verse because I feel like it encompasses our calling as His people and the best way we can live a full life. It’s just…powerful. 🙂
I don’t know a lot of quotes, but my favorite writing-related quote is from the movie Finding Forrester:
“You write the first draft with your heart. You rewrite with your head.” That’s so true. If we don’t start with our heart, how can it minister to the hearts of others?
Just a good reminder to keep my heart in the right place. 🙂
(Nadine cosplaying as Parvin)
Exactly. Great verse and I love the quote. What’s the saying? No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. So true.
Thank you so much, Nadine, for sharing your heart with me. I appreciate you taking the time!
I’ve never heard that saying — how neat! I must remember that.
Thank you so much for having me. This was a lot of fun! 🙂 And a question for the reader:
UPDATE: Since I wrote this post Monday, I’ve had some incredible responses. One in particular was from a dear friend who suggested an idea that was spot on and exactly what this blog is about. He proposed a challenge to fellow bloggers: Write a post that puts your guts on the page, more than ever before. Show part of your hidden self. Rip the mask off. Let those who are struggling know that someone is or has been where they are, and there is a way out. We’re all in this together. Fellow soldiers. In order to lean on each other, to help each other, and carry one another through the battles of life, we have to be honest. We have to put ourselves out there. No holding back. No hiding. Just our true, authentic selves, sharing our failures as well as our victories.
So my friend Josh Hardt and myself challenge our fellow writers and anyone else who would like to be a part of this: Pour your guts onto the page. Show your true self, failures and all, and let those still wallowing in the darkness know there is hope. Tag your posts with #GutsOnThePage. As you read the posts, encourage those who have had the fortitude to lay themselves bare. Together, let’s show the world that the Light is more powerful than the darkness, and let those still chained in the shadows know they are not alone.
Do you have what it takes to lay your #GutsOnThePage?
Today, I truly lay my guts on the page. Why? Because it is who I am. It is my story. Because I know there is someone out there that needs to hear it.
Because it’s time.
I’m writing a series called ‘The Reluctant Warrior Chronicles’. Rebirth is the first book, completed and awaiting publishing. Reconciliation is the second, currently in progress.
The part that many do not know, is that TRWC is based on my life experiences. The things Liz stumbles over? So have I. Those gut-wrenching events that happen to her? Many I’ve experienced as well. The shadows in her past that creep up on her? I’ve hidden from them, too.
I never wanted to write this. I fought with God over this for years. Funny, huh? Like I actually thought I’d win. Then again, I didn’t lose, either. How is that possible without ending in stalemate?
Let me show you.
I am a preacher’s daughter and I embraced the stereotype in every way, unfortunately. If there was a book of clichés, my picture would be front and center. I spent most of my young life on the platform, leading worship and working with the youth group. Outside, I was the picture of a Godly teen, called to ministry early and jumping in with both feet, ready to follow wherever I was lead & do whatever was asked of me.
Inside, that perfect façade was crumbling. I hid the parts of me I couldn’t afford for people to see. I walked in shadows at the edge of the light. I felt if I did the work and helped others, that was enough. By focusing everyone’s attention on what I did, I wouldn’t have to look at those pieces of myself, the shattered and distorted mirror that showed a broken girl in need of saving. A broken girl who had strayed from the Savior she so often sang about.
I even went to a Christian college, majoring in music ministry, still inwardly hoping no one would ever find out what and who I really was. It was there, hundreds of miles from home, that my mask was ripped off and the truth exposed. And I did it myself. I threw it all away, tired of hiding. Instead of letting those who loved me help, and turning to the Savior waiting with open arms, I ran.
I ran far and fast, putting as much distance as I possibly could between me and God, my family, and anyone who reached out. I smacked their hands away. I punched them in the face, landing blow after blow until they were forced to leave me be. I rejected everything I knew was true. I didn’t just step off the cliff. I spread my arms wide and leapt with wild abandon into the unknown, into the darkness.
I embraced that darkness. I wallowed in it until my soul was coated, black as tar and struggling for breath. Then I reached for anything that might possibly take the pain away and give me back my air. Any means of having some sort of control over the nightmare that ruled my life.
Except for the one thing that could save me.
As I flailed and thrashed, I ended up in situations where my control was stolen. I was at the mercy of the demons that clawed at my body and soul. And they tortured me with everything they had. They tortured me with the power I’d given them. Once I let that power be ripped away from me, there was no way I could get it back on my own. I was weak, vulnerable, screaming for help from the gutter and yet rejecting it when it came. Every time the Light would drive back the shadow, I crawled away from it, chasing the dark. Every time that Hand reached into the abyss, I shoved it away instead of grasping hold for all I was worth.
As strange as it sounds, the fight was all I had. I began to believe it was the only control I could exert over my world. So I fought back against the demons, not realizing that I was still under their control. Feeding them with my rage, egging them on with my defiance. When I thought I was showing strength, I was proving my weakness. When I thought I’d landed the perfect sucker punch, I’d get caught from behind by a vicious ambush.
Eventually, I dragged myself from the bottom of the pit. Or at least, I thought I had. I cleaned myself up, got back in touch with my family, and started picking up the pieces and fashioning a new life from the carnage. Looking back, I know there were so many times I should’ve been counted out. I should have been dead. And while He didn’t save me from everything because I couldn’t be saved from the consequences of my actions, there was so much more that He’d protected me from.
It seemed that now, I was on the right road. And I was, in part. But there was still a huge chasm between me and the One who had saved me at my lowest, even though I refused to acknowledge the signs and pleas. I was still on the battlefield. At least, my heart, mind, and soul were.
I was right back where the fall started. I had rebuilt the façade and secured my mask.
This time, He shattered it.
I couldn’t tell you what the catalyst was. All I know is four words kept ringing in my ears:
Let Me have it.
I knew what it meant. But my pain, my shame, my fight? They were MINE. I had to keep them close. They were my atonement, my punishment for everything I’d done. How could I let that go? I deserved it. I didn’t deserve to be saved after what I’d done, who I’d been. I deserved whatever horror was dished out. I deserved to still be chained to that musty wall in the dungeon of shame, regret, and heartache.
Let Me have it.
That’s when it hit me. So simple. Something I’d been taught my entire life.
He’d already taken it. Already bore the wounds. Already suffered the humiliation. All for me.
I let Him gently remove my mask, dismantle my walls one stone at a time, and reveal the me He intended. Reveal who I was meant to be. I let Him pull me into His arms. I was free. Chains rattled to the floor, Light filled the room and my heart, and sweet, fresh air filled my lungs. Now the battles I fought were for a higher purpose, a greater goal. A mission. A call to find those that were crawling through the mud like I had once been and lead them out. No matter how much they fought me. He never gave up on me, and I will never give up on them.
It was time to do what I was meant to do. What I was called to do. It was time to come back to life.
So when you read The Reluctant Warrior Chronicles, you’re seeing the demons I fought, the failures I claim, and the past I ran from. Most importantly, you are seeing how my Hero saved me. How He kept pursuing me even when I rejected Him. How He finally made me see that His love was all I needed. That He would protect me no matter the cost. That whatever I faced, we would face together.
You will see how He loves each of us this way. No holds barred. No secrets or lies.
No more hiding.
And that is the greatest love and adventure story ever.