Hearts on the Page #5 ~ It’s Not Over

This week, it’s Ryland’s turn again.

A quick recap:

Liz hates the fact that she can see the angels and demons in our realm no one else can. When the demons stopped simply observing and started attacking, Liz took off in the middle of the night. She didn’t say goodbye, and only left a note saying she was sorry.

Determined to protect Ryland and everyone else she loves, she’s run far and fast, trying to put as much distance between them as she can. Ryland won’t accept what she’s done until he hears it from her, so he’s set out to find her. Liz knows him well and has moved again, assuming he’s on her trail.

 

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Lizzy,

You’re good. I’ll give you that.

It’s been two months now since you left and I’m no closer to having you back in my arms. No closer to having answers. I’ve come so close to you so many times, but every time you blow town before I can get a hold on you, barely leaving a trace that you’ve been there. Either you know somehow or you’re guessing that I’m on your trail, or you’re just trying to stay ahead of anyone who might be looking for you. Knowing you, I’m gonna say it’s a little of both.

Well, I guess it’s a good thing I can work from anywhere, because I have a feeling this could go on for a while longer than it already has. Least I won’t be hurting for money. But that’s actually not at the top of the list of my worries about now.

These places I’m finding out you’re staying, working. Liz, what are you thinking? It’s like you’re deliberately putting yourself in danger, tempting fate. You say you wish you didn’t see the things you do, then you put yourself right in the middle of some of the worst situations you could possibly be in! I mean, do you have a death wish? Are you trying to throw me into some kind of breakdown? Or are you making a point that you can do whatever you want? I don’t get it. This isn’t like you. And it’s killing me. I know you’re hurting and I know you’re scared, but, baby, this isn’t the way. It’s about as far from the right way as you can get.

Just know that I’m not giving up. You can try as hard as you want to scare me away, try to make me think you’re a hopeless cause. It’s not going to work. I will never give up on you. I can’t. I love you too much to not at least try to talk some sense into you. I have to try to help you get back on the right path. Try to get you back home. Even though I’m starting to wonder if you ever intend on coming back. Still, that doesn’t matter. I will find you. I have to hear what you’re thinking, what you’re feeling, from your mouth. I won’t rest until I do.

We’re not over, baby. Not by a long shot. I’m going to prove how much I love you. Prove that you can trust me. That we can get through anything together, because I know in my heart that we can.

Always,

Ryland

 

 

 

 

Hearts on the Page #4 ~ Run Baby Run

Run Baby Run

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Ryland,

Sometimes, you can have a freaking awesome idea. Something that you think will solve all your problems, make life so much easier. This whole me leaving thing? Yeah, not my brightest decision. I admit it. Things have NOT gotten better. If anything, they’re worse. I’m staying in this nasty motel, because even though I make good tips at the restaurant I work at, it’s not enough to get a place of my own. Maybe I shoulda thought of that before I left with hardly any money.

 

Being low on cash is the least of my worries right now, though. In the past couple weeks, I’ve been jumped four times by demons. So I started practicing some more fighting moves like the ones you taught me, pulling videos up online since I can’t afford to go to a class. It’s weird, I’m even stronger than I was when I mentioned it in my last letter. I’ve been holding my own. No major injuries. But I don’t know why or how. None of this makes any sense. Why can’t they just leave me alone like they did before? What changed that caused them to come after me all the sudden? The only good thing is that they’re not coming after you. So if I have to live in this crap hole and fight every day to keep you safe, I will. It’s worth it. If I could just find a way to get rid of this, whatever it is, I would do it in a heartbeat. Then we would all be safer, right? I can’t believe God would do this to me. Why? What could possibly be the purpose in this? I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve this.

 

Anyway, I miss home. I miss my parents. Even more than that, I miss you. I know I need to let you go and get over it. I just can’t. I miss you so much, Ry. I would never tell anyone else, but I cry myself to sleep most nights. I know, that totally doesn’t sound like me. But I can’t help it. I’m so alone here. I’d give anything right now to have you holding me. That’s something I can’t ever have again. Not if things keep up like they are. I’m so afraid they’ll never leave me alone. That I’ll never be able to come home.

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Would it matter, though? Do you even miss me? I had to laugh as I wrote that because, knowing you, you won’t believe I left on my own until you see for yourself. Now I’m not laughing. You’re looking for me, aren’t you? Or am I wrong? There’s a good chance you hate me about now, especially since I disconnected my cell. I just couldn’t take seeing your messages or hearing you on the voicemail. You have to be royally ticked that I never answered, then I cut you off completely.

But honestly I know better than that. You won’t give up until you hear the words from me, will you? Until you hear me say we’re done. I really hope that’s not the case. Now I’m wondering if I should move again. If anyone could find me, it’s you. What with all that computer crap you do. Oh man. If I see you I’ll break and I can’t let that happen. I want to stop you, tell you not to come, but then I’d have to talk to you. I can’t do that. Not yet.

I know you’ll never see this letter but I’m glad I wrote it. It helped me work all this out in my head. I have to move. Something in my gut tells me you’re looking for me. I won’t let you find me. Hopefully, you’ll give up and realize that I’m no good for you.

I hope someday you’ll see I did all this because I love you so much.

Liz

Hearts on the Page #3 ~ Oath

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Oath

Lizzy,

Okay, I’ve had a lot of time to think over the past couple weeks and I’ve come to a few conclusions. First off, I think I’ll keep up with this writing thing. It actually did help to get this crap out of my system a little bit. Who knows? Maybe someday you’ll actually read it. I can only hope.

 

Anyway, I’ve realized something pretty important that I should’ve known right away, I was just too ticked off to see it. The last time I wrote you, I said I doubted your love. I knew as soon as I wrote it that it wasn’t true. I know you love me. I’ve felt it, I’ve seen it. Realizing that and knowing you like I do, I’m pretty sure I know at least part of the reason you left. You think you’re protecting me from something. Saving me. Well here’s the thing, baby girl: I don’t need protecting. If you think you’ve got problems I can’t handle, or you think dealing with whatever’s got you running may end up with me getting hurt in some way, you’re wrong. I’m a big boy and I can take a lot more than you apparently think I can. Not to mention, you should know that I would stand by you through anything. I want to be the one that protects you, the one you rely on. The one you trust. You don’t have to do this alone, whatever this is. And I’m not going to let you fight it all by yourself.

 

I know you’d probably blow a gasket over me telling you I won’t let you do something. But you know I don’t order you around or try to control you. Like that’d even be possible anyway. You’re probably the most stubborn person I’ve ever met. In this case, you’ll just have to get over it. Let me tell you why.

 

This relationship is a partnership. Or it was. Obviously, we’re having a bit of an issue with that about now. Since you’re not here to be in on the discussion, I’m making a command decision. I’m done wallowing and worrying and wondering. I refuse to just sit here and do nothing. That’s not me. Never has been and never will be. I see what I want, or something I need to accomplish, then I make a plan and go after it. That’s who I am. So why should this situation be any different? You are the most important person in the world to me. I want you. I need you.

 

I’m coming after you.

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You know me, Lizzy. You should’ve known I wouldn’t just let you leave and not do anything about it. Not gonna happen. I deserve answers. You owe me at least that much courtesy. Just like I owe you the proof of my loyalty and love; the proof that I won’t give up on us without a fight. You’re too important. We’re too important, and we’ve been through too much to throw it away so easily. You’re mine and I’m yours. I love you more than my own life. I can’t stand the thought of you being out there alone, knowing what’s following you and what you could be facing. What kind of man would I be if I didn’t at least try to protect you, try to bring you home where you’re safe? Not much of one.

 

So get ready, baby girl. Whatever it takes, I will find you.

Ryland

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hearts on the Page #2 ~ My Heart is Broken

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Hearts on the Page

A few days ago I released the first post in the Hearts on the Page series; letters between the hero and heroine of The Reluctant Warrior Chronicles. Letters they never sent. On these pages, Liz and Ryland pour their hearts out to each other without restraint. Their secret missives are raw, honest, and painful, but also sprinkled with joy and, at least on Ryland’s part, a whole lot of hope.

 

This week, it’s time to take a look at Liz’s first letter. Can she justify leaving Ryland without a word? Will her plan to outrun her pain work, or just pull her farther into the misery pit? Read on to find out.

My Heart is Broken

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Ryland,

I’m sitting here at some hole-in-the-wall joint in a town I don’t even know the name of, writing a letter I know I’m never gonna send. How’s that for pointless? Maybe it’ll make me feel better though. Doubtful. Life royally sucks about now. Yeah, maybe it’s partly my fault, but not all. I for sure didn’t give myself this freaking curse! But I am going to get rid of it. No matter what I have to do.

It’s like seven in the evening, and by now you know I’m gone. You probably flipped out and gathered a posse or something to look for me. I know you, and you wouldn’t believe it until you had to. Until there was solid proof. Which I’m sure you have by now. I know you like plans and order and this threw a big wrench into that. I really am sorry for that. I hate knowing something I’ve done has hurt you. That’s the last thing I ever wanted. But if I’d stayed, you’d end up being hurt worse, torn apart, and I won’t be the one to do that. I love you too much to stay when I know all I’m gonna bring you is chaos and pain.

You should’ve never made plans with me, for us, in the first place. I’m so screwed up, Ry. This curse is messing with my head, and it’s messing everything up. I know you were all cool when I told you my secret, but you don’t know what it all really means. What it would mean for us. I can never have a normal life. We won’t be able to just live and get married and have babies and live like everyone else. I’ll always have to watch my back and yours too because you won’t even be able to see what’s coming. And I have a feeling something real bad is coming. Need proof? Three weeks ago, one of those nasty freak demons that follows me all the time actually attacked. First time any of them ever did more than stare and snarl. I got some good shots in after I got my crap together and figured out what was happening. And it was weird, it was like I was stronger and faster than I should be. I kept thinking there was no way I should be able to take on a big demon like that and live. Still, it was rough. I know I told you I fell when I was out hiking and I hated lying to you, I never had before, but I had no choice. I know how you are. If you found out, you’d never leave my side, and you’d just end up getting hurt because there’s nothing you can do about any of this. I can’t let that happen. I can’t let you tie yourself to a freak that’ll end up being the reason you end up in a world of pain or even dead.

I love you so freaking much, but I had to do this. It’s my turn to protect you, to watch out for you. I had to put you, my parents, my friends, all ya’lls safety before what I want or what I thought I could have. What I want doesn’t even matter. You have to get over it and move on. It kills me to say this, but find somebody else, Ry. Somebody who can give you what you want, what you need, and not put you in the middle of some stinking war with Hell. I know you’ll find her. You’re the finest man to ever set foot on the dang planet. I should know. But I can’t be around that. I don’t want to see it. I can’t be around you. Period. The only way to keep you safe is for me to stay away. I can’t keep pretending everything will somehow be okay when I know it won’t be.

Don’t think it’s not gonna be hard on me. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life. If feels like somebody ripped my heart out through my throat and stomped on it. I never knew anything could hurt this freakin’ bad. What we had was─it was crazy. We were like wildfire, but it worked. Everything was always so intense, but it was perfect. It was just us. Not having that insane, burn you up but at the same time able to cool you down, like we’re one person connection is gonna kill me. It was like we knew what each other were thinking and feeling. Now it just feels empty in my head, my chest, and the farther away from you I get, the worse it gets. I need to stop writing, I’m not even making sense anymore and it’s stupid to even do this because you’ll never see it. But it kinda does make me feel better.

You’ll probably never forgive me. I can live with that as long as you’re okay. As long as you’re safe and have a chance at happiness. I gotta go. I need to put more miles between us so I don’t say to Hell with it and turn around. It was so tempting to ask you to go with me. But, I knew you wouldn’t, and it woulda defeated the point of me leaving in the first place. Ok, I’m leaving now. Maybe I’ll write more, who knows. I love you, Ryland.

In my heart I’ll always be yours,

Liz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hearts on the Page #1 ~ Broken

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            In my soon to be published series The Reluctant Warrior Chronicles, the heroine Liz and hero Ryland have a powerful yet tortured relationship with a long history. The first book, Rebirth, begins as Liz is coming back home after having been gone for several years. While she was away, both Liz and Ryland had some extreme experiences that changed them and their relationship forever. But, despite everything that happened and the physical distance between them, their connection remained.

The proof? It’s on the page in black and white.

During their separation, each of them wrote letters to the other. Letters they never sent. On these private pages, Liz and Ry poured out their hearts and bared their souls to each other, saying everything they couldn’t, or wouldn’t, say out loud.

Now, you can read them for yourself. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be divulging the contents, giving you a little more insight into their hearts and minds. Maybe, someday, they’ll each have the courage to exchange these letters. Meanwhile, I invite you to step into their secret world and discover that sometimes love can be the most terrifying battle of all.

First up, Ryland.

 Broken

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Lizzy,

You’ll probably never see this. I don’t normally like to write. It’s not like I keep a journal or anything, that’s your deal. At least, I think it is. I thought I knew everything about you. But I’m learning real fast that I don’t. Anyway, I just needed a way to get some of this crap out of my system. Some way to feel like I’m saying what I need to say, even though I have no idea if I’ll ever even see you again.

When I got the call from your parents this morning and they said you were gone, I panicked. I didn’t want to believe them when they said you’d taken your stuff. That’d mean you left me. Without telling me why. Without me getting to hold you and kiss you one more time. Without even saying goodbye. I tore up this county looking for you. That’s what I’ve been doing all day. Contacted all your friends, went to all our spots, your hideout, everywhere. I even hacked into your email, trying to find something to tell me where you were. But you left me nothing. Nothing except a note that wasn’t even meant for me. The note that didn’t tell us why. That told your parents to tell me you loved me and you were sorry.

Well, I think that’s a load of bull. You’re not sorry. And I’m wondering if you ever really did love me like I love you. How could you? You just left, Liz. I know you had a lot going on, a lot to deal with that you didn’t understand. But you could’ve come to me. You know you can talk to me about anything. I proved that when you told me about the things you saw. All I’ve ever done is support you and try to help you. I thought you knew you could lean on me, could count on me. If you’d have just come to me, trusted me, things could’ve been so different. You could’ve given me the chance to help you. But you didn’t. You have this habit of bottling everything up, hiding what you’re feeling, even from me. And now you’re running from it. I know that’s what’s happening. I know you. You think if you ignore it, if you run far enough, you can get away from it. That’s not how this works. This isn’t something you can run from. And I could’ve helped you deal with it. We could’ve worked this out together. But you didn’t even try.

I honestly don’t know what to do right now. And that’s something I don’t know how to deal with. We had a plan, we had dreams. And now, you’re just gone and I have no idea where you are or if you’re even okay. Are you safe? Not like the question matters, ‘cause I couldn’t protect you now even if you weren’t. I’ve got this ring sitting here in front of me on the table. I bought it right after you graduated last summer. I’ve been trying to figure out how to give it to you, how to ask you. You’re not the average woman, you don’t really like all that mushy crap, so I wanted to do something that was unique to us. Unique to you. I had a few ideas and now I can barely remember them. Probably because you just smashed my heart into pieces. I’m stinkin’ furious with you, but at the same time I’m terrified. You’re out there alone, demons bearing down on you and I can’t do anything about it. You know what?  I can’t do this. I can’t even think about this right now. I’m heading to the gym. Maybe I’ll take Nate with me and see if he wants to go a few rounds. I need to pound on something. Maybe I can pound this pain away. I love you so much. How could you do this?

Ry

 

 

 

Cover Reveal for Darkened Hope by J.L. Mbewe

Fantasy author J.L. Mbewe has a new release coming in May, and we get to be part of her cover reveal today! Without further ado, here is the cover and an inside look at Darkened Hope!

 

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Ayianna is a cursed half-elf betrothed to Desmond, but her heart belongs to another. After discovering the cure for the Sorceress’s curse, she and her companions embark on a dangerous quest to retrieve the ingredients.

 

When dragons descend upon their party, Ayianna realizes the Sorceress is searching not just for the corrupted dagger, but a human sacrifice that will open a portal to the underworld. Battling deadly creatures and natural disasters, Ayianna is forced more and more to confront her insecurities and conflicted heart.

 

Now she must decide whether to be true to her family or true to herself. As the nations rally for war, betrayal threatens to destroy them all, and it’s a race against time to return before the curse devastates the plains people.

 

Coming in May 2016

 

Author bio:

 

Writing as J. L. Mbewe, Jennette is an author, artist, mother, wife, but not always in that order. Born and raised in Minnesota, she now braves the heat of Texas, but pines for the Northern Lights and the lakes of home every autumn. She loves trying to capture the abstract and make it concrete. She is currently living her second childhood with a wonderful husband and two precious children who don’t seem to mind her eclectic collections of rocks, shells, and swords, among other things. Here, between reality and dreams, you will find her busily creating worlds inhabited by all sorts of fantasy creatures and characters, all questing about and discovering true love amid lots of peril. She has two short stories published in The Clockwork Dragon anthology, and four short stories set in the world of Nälu. Her debut novel, Secrets Kept, was nominated for the 2014 Clive Staples Award, and its sequel, Darkened Hope is coming May 2016.

 

Stay up-to-date with all things Nälu and her journey as a writer mama at JLMbewe.com. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and/or Pinterest.

 

 

Extras

 

Secrets Kept, the first book in the Hidden Dagger Trilogy will be on sale for .99

http://www.amazon.com/Secrets-Kept-Hidden-Dagger-Book-ebook/dp/B00WBV3WU6

FB ad 403x300 SK sale

 

The short story, A Princess No More, will be free.

http://www.amazon.com/Princess-More-Tale-N%C3%A4lu-Book-ebook/dp/B00JWA3CWM

APNM free

A Time to Speak – An Interview With Author Nadine Brandes

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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. 😛

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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.

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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.

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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. 🙂

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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:

What’s one of your favorite quotes?

You can find Nadine online at: http://nadinebrandes.com

On Twitter at: @NadineBrandes

And on Facebook at: http://Facebook.com/NadineBrandesAuthor/

Her books, the ‘Out of Time’ series, are available at most fine book retailers.