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Author Christian Fiction Dystopian Speculative Fiction Young Adult

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! ūüôā 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!) ūüėČ 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. ūüėõ

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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. ūüôā

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. ūüėÄ Other than that, I don’t really drink pop.

Yay! Another Coke fan. We can remain friends. ūüėČ

Oh phew! ūüėČ

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. ūüėČ
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. ūüôā 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. ūüėČ

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. ūüôā

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. ūüôā

11887901_406808442842581_1940359331087826886_n(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! ūüôā 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.

Categories
Author Bible study Christian Fiction Speculative Fiction

Bring Me To Life

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?

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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 clich√©s, 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 fa√ßade 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.

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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.

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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.

Categories
Christian Fiction Science Fiction Speculative Fiction Techno-thriller

Book Review: The Hive by John Otte

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Zain is on the run to save her baby

A pregnant cyborg and a teenage boy fight against intergalactic governments to protect the unborn in this novel from Christy award winner John Otte.

Why is Zain pregnant? She belongs to the Hive, a collective of cyborgs who choose to live apart from the rest of human society. At times, the Hive rent out some of their females to produce tailor-made children for paying couples. But Zain is an engineer, not a breeder. When she finds herself separated from the Hive, she decides to find the person who she thinks ordered the baby. Surely they’ll help her find her way home.

Matthew “Scorn” Nelson has spent the better part of his teenage years cracking computer systems, causing mischief and havoc wherever he can. But the night of his greatest triumph turned into a painful memory, one he wants to erase. But that night was also his first step on a road to faith. When Zain arrives on his doorstep, Scorn is horrified. What’s he supposed to do with a pregnant teenage cyborg?

Unfortunately, he’ll have to answer that question on the run. Zain’s people want to reclaim her and terminate her pregnancy. And both the Ministrix and the Praesidium, two intergalactic governments in a constant state of cold war, want Zain’s baby for their own reasons. Will their enemies run them down? Or will Zain find a new Hive for both her and her child?

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The Hive turned out to be one of the best books I’ve read this year. When I saw that the main characters were teenagers, I wondered if the book would be geared more for the YA crowd. Instead, I found a story that has a definite broad appeal. Especially with the mature topics discussed, it reads like an adult sci-fi/action/adventure novel. I was pleasantly surprised.

Even if¬†someone was¬†not usually a sci-fi fan, I think they would enjoy this book thoroughly. The technical jargon wasn’t too much, the world it is set in not too difficult to understand, and the governing bodies especially were easily relatable to the real world, the church specifically. There were some interesting parallels drawn.

Though it is technically a sequel, one doesn’t have to read Numb before reading The Hive. It is a stand alone novel.

The characters were well developed, and I found myself easily drawn into their world.¬†While Zain and Scorn¬†definitely learn some lessons on their journey, it doesn’t come off as preachy or unbelievable.

It made me want to read more, so I’m hoping for a sequel! I’ve added Numb to my reading list as well.

I would recommend The Hive without hesitation. I actually think it would be a great first sci-fi/space opera read for someone. It stays firmly within the genre without being too heavy handed.

Overall, a great read. I can’t wait for more from John! Preorder your copy today!

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Categories
Author Christian Fiction Science Fiction Speculative Fiction

Interview with author John Otte

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Today, we have a special guest on Guts on the Page. Author John Otte’s latest novel, ‘The Hive’, releases on the 16th and I am happy to be part of the blog tour.

In the midst of his crazy busy life, John took the time to answer a few questions for us and give a little insider information. So, without further ado, I give you John Otte!

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HI, John. Thanks for sharing with us today. Would you care to tell us a little about your world?

Well, it’s roughly spherical, although the forces of its spin and gravity and all that tend to make it bulge at the equator, which is 12,742 kilometers around, and…

Oh, wait, you mean my little corner of the world, don’t you? My bad.

It’s okay, I walked into that one!

I like to say that I’m a pastor, husband, father, author, and geek, although not necessarily in that order. It’s hard to sum a person’s life up in just a few titles. But those five do a pretty good job of talking about the things I do and what I am. Balancing all of those isn’t easy, so I’m getting more and more adept at metaphorical juggling.

I think most of us can identify with juggling, especially writers!

I’ve heard that your latest novel, The Hive, is a sequel of sorts to Numb. Can you tell us how you came up with this story world and its characters?

Well, the story world itself came first. Many years ago, I published my first short story in an online magazine called “Dragons, Knights, and Angels”. Shortly after they accepted my story, they ran a contest where they challenged people to write a short story that used all three elements from their title, and they specifically said they wanted sci-fi authors to come up with stories as well.

So, I came up with a story called “The Dragon’s Heart”, but as I wrote it, I realized that the story was big enough to be a novel. I tried to write it as part of my first NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) project. The story fizzled after I reached 50,000 words, but one of the things that emerged were these two intergalactic governments, the Ministrix and Praesidium.

Shortly thereafter, the characters for “Numb” popped into my head and I went from there. And when that was published, I kind of asked myself “What would happen next?” I think. To be completely honest, I don’t remember where I got the idea for “The Hive”. Kind of weird in hindsight, but there you go.

I don’t think it’s strange at all. Often,¬†stories take on lives of their own and we as writers simply follow along.

The Hive is, I feel, a fabulous example of what science fiction should be, complete with tech speak and intriguing inventions. What kind of research went into writing something like that?

I hat to admit this, but very little. I mean, I would look stuff up to make sure that I had a veneer of plausibility to it, but I like to think that what I write is more “space opera” than hard science fiction. So, as long as the technobabble is consistent, I think it works.

Well, whichever way you went about it, this story definitely works!

Are you planning on writing more books from this story and making it a trilogy or series?

I actually am working on a new book that would continue a story thread that’s woven through the first two books. And hopefully, this new book would be the first in a trilogy that would cause a lot of chaos for both the Ministrix and the Praesidium.

Ooh, can’t wait to read that!

What do you hope the reader will take away from The Hive? Was it written strictly for entertainment, or did you have a clear message in mind?

A little from column A, a little from column B. I can’t say much about my original message. It’s definitely in there, but if I talk abut what it is, it’ll give away the ending. Let’s say that by the end of the last page, I think people will understand what part of the story is about. But as I was working on this story, I realized that there was second message that was emerging about what the role of the Church is in the world. I tried to draw a parallel between The Hive and certain segments of Christian society.

I like that. It speaks to the strength of the message, I think, if it is so tightly interwoven that it would be a spoiler to mention it. To have that solid connection to the real world is also vital, even in speculative fiction.

One random question before we get back to the serious stuff. Coke or Pepsi and why? Any flavors?

Coke. Cokecokecokecokecoke! Did I mention Coke? I’m the guy that, when I’m at a restaurant and ask for Coke and the server asks, “Is Pepsi okay?” my immediate reaction is “No.”

I knew there was a reason I liked you. Kindred spirits!

Christian Speculative fiction has been getting more attention lately, not only fro the Christian fiction market, but the general market as well. Yet, Christian spec fic still lags well behind mainstream Christian fiction titles in sales. Why do you think that is, and do you have any ideas of your own about how we can go about reaching a larger market?

Oi, that’s a good question. I think part of it is market inertia. For a long time, speculative fiction just didn’t sell well in the Christian market. That created a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts: there isn’t that much spec fic out there because it doesn’t sell well, so it doesn’t sell well since there’s so little out there. That trend is changing (I hope), but we still have a long way to go.

The best way to continue the change, I think, is to do our best to support the speculative stories that are out there. Buy the books, talk them up on social media, recommend them to friends, that sort of thing. There’s no magic bullet; it’s just matter of getting the word out.

Oi, good answer. I couldn’t agree more.

What do you think stories like The Hive, and other spec fic titles, have to offer that other genres don’t?

Oh, boy, another really good question. Every genre of Christian fiction can bring something to the table in illustrating what our faith is all about. And speculative fiction can certainly do that as well. For one thing, it can help illustrate the realities of spiritual warfare in a vivid and engaging way. It also reflects our Creator’s own heart, since He allows His creation to be creators in their own right as well. Speculative fiction creates unique and amazing worlds for people to explore and enjoy.

I couldn’t have said that better. And as an author of supernatural stories with a high focus on spiritual warfare, I would agree that the visualization of such things in spec fic can be more in depth and descriptive.

What made you decide to write Speculative fiction, instead of, say, westerns or thrillers?

It’s just a matter of writing what I enjoy. I love reading speculative fiction, so it’s only natural that I gravitate toward that genre when it comes to writing. I can’t imagine writing anything else. Well, I take that back. I have tried writing mysteries and even an ill-advised Biblical fiction book. But I think I’ll stick with speculative fiction.

I agree, it’s definitely a love for the genre with me as well.

Finally, I have a question I ask everyone I interview. What is your favorite verse or favorite quote? Or both if you wish.

Oooo, never ask a pastor if he has a favorite verse! I actually have a top ten list. If I had to pick just one, though, it’d probably be Romans 8:28-29. But my favorite non-Biblical quote is actually something I saw on a bumper sticker once: “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans”. I normally don’t try to base my theology off a bumper sticker, but in my experience, that is most certainly true.

John, I’d like to thank you again for taking the time to hang out with me here today. I’ve enjoyed the conversation!

If you’d like to see more from John, find him on his website at:¬† http://johnwotte.com

 Facebook at : http://Facebook.com/authorjohnwotte

And Twitter: @JohnWOtte

Categories
Uncategorized

Keep Your Head In The Game

Welcome to Fight Friday!

As promised in Monday’s post, today is all about the helmet.

Monday, we talked about why every suit of armor should start with a sturdy helmet. (You know, so you keep your brain intact inside your cranium. Otherwise, well, not good things will follow.)

Our primary focus was not a physical helmet, but the helmet of salvation.

Today, we get to take a peek at some helmets through the centuries. And, okay, some from fiction as well. I don’t go into a lot of detail, since this is really just a fun post.

~Ancient Warriors

When we think ancient warriors, most of us probably think of Spartans, Romans, Persians, etc. Have you ever really taken a good, up close look at their gear? It’s pretty amazing when you think about it. No technology as we know it, yet they came up with some astonishing ways to keep their skulls protected.

3ce0c2c6bdc5da8b0066d0f94e29d39cThis is a rather ornate early helmet. Surprise, it’s Spartan!

fc152c55b4cd6730db49ec9e7e975f60This one is said to be early Viking.

e55da8c9507733bec195d1999f177c35Here’s an ornate piece. It was found in the ruins of the ship of a seventh century Anglo-Saxon King. I’m going to guess this probably didn’t see much battle.

~Knights and Dragon Slayers

The following are what probably pop into your head first when you think armor.¬† I’ve got to say, I’m not sure how they held their heads up to fight! These look heavy.

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I’m putting the Samurai Warriors in this section. Their battles were fought over centuries, with not much changing in the way of their armor. Beautiful pieces, and strong, despite being made mostly of leather, bamboo, and bone, sometimes different metals.

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~19th and 20th Centuries

f96b56dd73d6f181c6abb60b4c12517eAn American soldier, circa World War II. This guy was especially happy to have his helmet.

ef09d5c1facdc4cf1bbc952c3e58ef0eLate 18th Century, British.

3e7219e53d1784e87cd4142fdecf2a9cThis one is Russian, these particular helmets worn by commanders. How did they get this to stay on?

~Modern Warfare

Now, we get into the really cool stuff.

c89c8788043fd526d757b907ea79b81dModern tactical gear is a thing of beauty. Not only designed to maximize protection, but also communication, and visualization. Many have cameras mounted to them, so those back at base can have immediate sitrep. 46797b15d33f94b405af46a31fb32814

This one is my personal favorite. The head gear of a fighter pilot.33be83876cc3471b3bfc939d55e380ad

~Art Imitates Life

And now, for some rather well-known helmets.

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And, of course, a little homage to the man who is the inspiration for my character “Ryland” in REBIRTH. 7c137a66c824b606fed2249422698018

So, to close today’s post, I leave you with a word of advice. This bit of wisdom can be used in both spiritual and physical battles.

DON’T9930f441a96980f95b9b6db565d50236 BE THIS GUY!

Categories
Uncategorized

Mind over Matter

Welcome to Monday!

Fellow warriors, I hope that your week is starting off well! It’s already getting busy around here. Today, I’m finishing up edits on REBIRTH. Tomorrow, the proposals go out! I’m also in the process of building my website and setting up a newsletter, so keep an eye out for that.

Setting the tone for the week.

Every week, we will have a different theme here on Guts on the Page. The theme will connect to the book I’m reading and reviewing for the week. Also, we’ll have discussion posts and lots of fun stuff as well.

This week, I’m starting a new series of posts, focused on the Armor of God.

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 ~Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Ephesians 6:13~

First piece, the Helmet of Salvation

Before any warrior goes into battle, one of the first things they put on is their helmet. Through the ages, helmets have been made from a variety of mediums (more on that in our Fight Friday post). Whether some sort of metal, or reinforced leather, the purpose of a helmet, as we know, is to protect the brain. Above all else, the head needs to be shielded. When a warrior loses their helmet, the head is left vulnerable, making it a prime target for the enemy. And that is the first place a smart enemy will attack.

Survey of the Battleground

6ef78a80c66bd42e3f531d39bb789c77The same holds true for battles outside of the physical realm. In Ephesians 6, verse 17, we are told:

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

In my opinion, it is no coincidence that the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit are listed in the same verse. As with each piece of armor, they work in tandem to protect, but these two more than any others. More on that in a moment. First, let’s get a better look at the battlefield, so we know what we’re up against and why this armor is necessary.

¬†Our thoughts guide our actions, our choices, our words, even our moods. If not brought under control, they can destroy us, maybe even physically. There has been much research done to support the idea that we have at least a modicum of control over our physical health, simply¬†by using¬†the power of our minds. The strength of the mind to affect our bodies and our lives is no secret. I’m sure we’ve all heard at least one of¬†the phrases “Speak it into existence”, “Name it and claim it”,¬†or “Think yourself well”.

A well-known quote that illustrates the power of the mind comes from Descartes. Cogito ergo sum, or, I think, therefore I am.

With the mind being one of the most powerful things in our human arsenal, it makes sense that this is where the majority of attacks would be focused. Our minds are Satan’s favorite target. If he can get our thoughts under his control, the body and spirit¬†will follow.¬†We are cautioned again and again in Scripture to shield our minds and guard our thoughts.

~ I Corinthians 10:5- Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.

~Philippians 4:8- Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy, mediate on these things.

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Prepared for War

Now the question becomes, how do we guard our minds? The first step: putting on our helmet of salvation. Salvation is the one thing God wants most for us. He has provided us a way back to Him, a rescue from the fall. When we are once again grafted into His family, He is able to arm us fully for whatever lies ahead.

~I Thessalonians 5:9- For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

If you are reading this and you have yet to accept that salvation, I implore you, do it! Simply confess that Jesus is Lord, ask forgiveness for your sins, and ask Him to live in your heart, to guide your thoughts and your steps.

 You will take heavy fire. Satan will focus even more viciously on your weak points. But with the helmet of salvation strapped on, you have protection against whatever the enemy throws at you. The primary target is secured, your backup is guaranteed. You no longer have to struggle alone, under your own mental strength. Someone is now providing cover fire.

Maintaining the Armory

Once you’ve donned the helmet, you have to maintain it. This does not mean it won’t receive hits, get a few dings, or feel like it’s slipping off your head. No one is perfect. Romans tells us that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. You will still have weak moments, and flashy¬†decoys¬†will attempt¬†to sway your focus toward them.¬†So, how do we keep this helmet on, keep it in top condition, and prepare for these attacks?

That’s where the word of God, the sword of the Spirit, comes in. You must have this to maintain every other piece of equipment, especially your helmet. When you take the words in to yourself, meditate on them, and live them, you are fortifying your armor and keeping it in shape for battle. When your mind is full of the word, it becomes more difficult for the enemy to breach the gates. 6278a2dff2d18c6f023f0d960261129a

Pre-mission Briefing

We all have those less than stellar moments. The times when our thoughts wonder into dark territory, places they should never go. With all the chaos and temptation around us, it would be so easy to let our minds go and get caught up in the excitement. Or, when our battle plans are blown to bits, it’s hard not to wallow and let the darkness consume our minds. I’ve been there, much too frequently, as I’m sure many of you have.

But when the blackness creeps in, in whatever form, we now have the power through Christ to push back. To send it packing in retreat. All we have to do is pull on our helmets, and fill our minds with His words of strength. We are no longer hostage to the enemy, or our own thoughts. He has released us. He has saved us.

If you would like someone to pray with you, whether for salvation or for strength for a particular fight you are facing, share your needs below, or contact me at: AmyMMcNew@att.net. You can also find me on Facebook or Twitter. I would be more than happy to pray with you.

If any of you would like to share your battles and victories, feel free to do so below. There is no judgment here. We only seek to build each other up, and celebrate one another’s triumphs.

And, as is a pre-battle tradition here at Guts on the Page, I send you off with a song to ponder.

Categories
Uncategorized

Timing is Everything

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It’s Fight Friday!

Here at Guts on the Page, you’ll be seeing a lot of things battle related, whether the warfare discussed¬†is spiritual, physical, or emotional. Friday is the day specially set aside to open a dialogue on these subjects, and to arm you with tools to fight whatever enemy comes your way.

Today, I’m starting with an announcement!

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REBIRTH, my current manuscript and the beginning of the Reluctant Warrior Chronicles (tentative title), has won the OCW Cascade award for unpublished speculative fiction! I must admit, I was taken by surprise. While I believe in my work, I was up against some stiff competition. People who have been in this industry longer than I, with amazing stories to tell. But God saw fit to bless me with this accolade, and I am grateful. In thinking about this award and everything that comes along with it, the topic of timing came to mind.

~Battle Strategy

When faced with the possibility of a fight, on any field, planning and timing are key to a successful campaign. Even in a surprise hand to hand battle, if your timing is off, you provide your opponent with the opportunity they need to land that kick or punch, or take you down. This is true for large battles and the overall war as well. If you strike at the perfect time, with the most solid plan, you have the best chance of clenching the victory.

In my life, my best laid plans have blown up in my face. I thought I was prepared, knew what I had to do, and was confident it was the correct course of action. Unfortunately,¬†I¬† left myself wide open for the enemy to swoop in and take advantage of my weaknesses. I’d forgotten a key factor.

Timing. Not just my timing, but God’s.

I thought it was time. I thought I had drawn the perfect map, planned the perfect strategy. I thought I knew exactly where I was to engage and thought I had all the equipment to do just that. I thought I knew what my mark was, and how to hit it.

I was dead wrong.

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God had another plan. I had jumped the gun.

~Refocusing the Attack

A hidden goal, one I had mostly given up on, was revealed. And it couldn’t have come at a better time. The dream I thought I wanted most, the battle strategy I’d created, had just been obliterated. I crawled away and wallowed in defeat, too broken by the crushing blow to see that there was something greater for me just over that hill I didn’t want to claim.

But God knew what I was capable of. He knew the strength in me, the strength He would fortify. An old, buried passion burst into my camp. An inferno ignited, searing me from the inside out.

That old passion made its presence know.

So, I embraced it again. I wrote, I fought, I cried, I fought. I nearly let fear consume me.

Then came my first skirmish. My first pitch and proposal. I was rejected. Defeated. Though it was done in a loving manner that left the door open for a fantastic acquaintance, my weapons fell to the ground and I hit my knees.

All I could hear from Heaven was “It’s not time.”

I dove back in to my work; polishing, honing, learning. The flames of passion licked higher. I would not be defeated. I would wait and work, listening for His word to go.

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Suddenly it was time.

I started meeting people, building relationships, perfecting my manuscript, and arming myself with everything available. I gained mentors in the craft that are second to none. Doors began to open that I never imagined. Still, I waited.

Then, the above announcement came.

Immediately, I received messages from others telling me that it was beginning. It was time. Even as I sit here, it hasn’t sunk in. People liked my work. That thing I had toiled over and questioned was accepted.

This doesn’t mean I will get a contract. This doesn’t mean that I will win anything else. What it does mean, is He has started something. He is putting things in motion and getting me into the exact location I need to be for the next strike, the next campaign. I will wait on Him. It won’t be easy. There will be disappointment. Yet, if I listen to His voice, and give each and every battle to Him, victory will be had, in one way or another.

I just have to stop, listen for His command, and then go.

Are you in a holding pattern? Are you surveying the land, staking out the enemy, and waiting for the command to move? Waiting for Him to say “it’s time”?

¬†Share with us. Let’s support one another, and prepare our army for the good fight.

And of course, I have a fight song for us!

Categories
Christian Fiction Speculative Fiction

Citzens of the Realm

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A fantastical tale of the strange, wondrous, and imaginative people of Realm Makers

Arrival: Day One

When I first happened upon the current village of this nomadic, creative tribe, I wasn’t¬†entirely certain¬†what to expect. Though I had travelled many miles to find them, I grew anxious. My hands were clammy, and my heart beat a spastic rhythm from its new location in my stomach. I feared that territorial disagreements may erupt. Many tribes do not take kindly to interlopers. I steeled my resolve, prepared to hold my ground and fight for my place among them.

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My trepidation was somewhat quieted upon encountering two familiar faces. Much to my delight, they greeted me with open arms. While they may have frightened those who did not understand their culture, these kind and lovely females radiated a kindred spirit to me.

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Upon securing a place to reside for my stay, I met those who would be sharing my dwelling. They too were welcoming, and I recognized them immediately as those I would call friend and sister. As our stay continued our bond grew, creating a sense of family. Albeit a sarcastic, teasing, and loud one.

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As the evening continued, I was ushered into the main gathering area to meet with the rest of the clan. Again, the maniacal lightning bugs in my belly began their dance. This insane ballet only gained fervor when I realized I would be meeting some of the guardians of the group. People I had long admired and held in high regard. But as we chatted, I discovered that they were most gracious and humorous, and saw no rank among their people. Each person present was treated as though they were on equal footing, no matter battle experience or age. This was a delightful surprise.

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Acclimation: Day Two

The following morning, my training commenced. I was regaled with stories of adventure, and instructed on how to create my own. To embrace the calling, talent, and dreams given to me by the Great Author, and use them to spread His message in an engaging, thought-provoking manner. The instruction was unparalleled. It was as if every member of this community wanted to see me succeed in my quest, and were willing to give of themselves to see that I did so.

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In between training sessions, I was able to meet the rest of the clan. I discovered that I had much in common with these people. More so than with any other group I had come into contact with. Each tribal member was kind, warm, and welcoming. They absorbed me into their family as if I had always been one of them. The way they folded me into their ranks was heartwarming. I will feel forever connected to these special people, and always grateful for their kinship.

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To close out this first day of instruction and fellowship, a party was thrown. Everyone came dressed in their native apparel. It was fascinating! The odd nature of the clothing may have been off-putting to some, but I found myself enjoying the variety and joining in with gusto.

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Animation: Day Three

The final day of my visit with this amazing people was bittersweet. We received yet more invaluable instruction, enjoyed our last moments of camaraderie until the gathering reconvened next year, and were treated to a wonderfully motivating call to action. We were told to Go! To be bold, and remember that we could do whatever was required.

We were sent out into the world to use what we had learned to further this precious realm of ours. My heart filled to bursting and my mind reeled with possibilities. I had entered this camp a frightened, solitary warrior. I didn’t know¬†if those I yearned to glean knowledge from and battle alongside would accept me into their elite and wonderfully weird band of soldiers. I left as a member of a mighty army. Fully outfitted with the weapons I would require to conquer for the realm, and the support and kinship of brothers and sisters as dedicated to this cause as I.

Now, I leave you with a few words from masters of our craft.

¬†May we¬†STOP doubting, GO forth boldly, and be prepared when our Father says “your turn”!

May we always be on guard and never assume, as our enemy will be more likely to show up in a bonnet than with fangs!

May we remember that our genre of the odd and magical, like no other, reflects the creativity of the Great Author!

And may we always remember we can do whatever it takes, because Robert Liparulo said we could!

 Long live the Realm Makers, weavers of fantastical tales and messengers of the Word! 

Categories
Christian Fiction New Adult Speculative Fiction Urban Fantasy

Cover reveal for spanking new NA Urban Fantasy by H.A. Titus!

I have some exciting news today. My friend, H. A. Titus, will soon release her latest novel, Forged Steel. And you get a sneak peak of the cover!

This much anticipated first novel in¬†The Crucible¬†series is creating buzz and I can’t hardly wait to get my hands on it. It promises to be a fast-paced thrill ride! So, without further ado, I give you the cover and a small taste of

Forged Steel

Forged Steel cover

Downtown. Coffee shop. 2 AM.

One minute, Josh is firing off sarcastic remarks at his best friend Marc ‚Äď the next, they‚Äôre running from shape-shifters. Apparently, even best friends don‚Äôt share all their secrets.

Now Josh is in danger. He can see the monsters among the humans.

When Marc is kidnapped, Josh finds himself pulled into the schemes of the fae courts, and throws in his lot with Marc’s allies: the lovely Larae, a human named David, and the fighter, Eliaster. But what began as a rescue mission becomes something much more involved…

And all Josh wants to do is get out before it’s too late.

Forged Steel is a new adult urban fantasy by H. A. Titus, releasing on July 17th. It will be available in print (Amazon) and e-book (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks, and Scribd) If you’d like a chance to win free books, ask questions, and hear trivia about the writing/publishing of Forged Steel, there will be a Facebook event party on July 17th from 7-9 pm eastern time on the author’s page, H. A. Titus Author.

The first five chapters are available for preview on Wattpad.

Check out the first five chapters now on Wattpad, and then be sure to order your very own copy of Forged Steel!

Also, don’t forget to join in the fun at the Facebook party, and connect with H.A. online.

Categories
Author Christian Fiction

Rebirth: Change is in the air

It’s time for something new.

We all get stuck in ruts.

In the case of this newbie writer, my rut was focusing single-mindedly on my manuscript and leaving everything else as it lay. Well, news flash: people will never know who you are, or want to read your book, or anything else you write for that matter, if they have no clue how to find you, or if what they do find is, well, less than thrilling.

So, I am embracing change and total upheaval, and listening to those who have been poking me with sticks to get moving.

It hurts. The to-do list is eating up my time like nobody’s business, and giving me a headache. But the more I get done, the less it hurts. I feel accomplished. Energized.

Ready for battle.75ddc6f7f6befd0dabf5d0b1e21ae652

In the spirit of throwing off fear and heading into the throes of the fight, I am updating my blog. This includes refining my focus, setting a killer posting schedule, and changing the name.

‘Tales From the Writers Cave’ has now become:

Guts on the page.

This phrase pops out of my mouth every time I discuss my writing. It stays in my head as I sit at my desk and pound on the keyboard. What does it mean?

No holding back. No barriers. No hiding.

It means pouring everything I am into what I write. It means feeling those things that I don’t want to feel, that make me want to bang my head against the wall or curl up in the fetal position and cry my eyes out. It means sorting through my battle scarred past to find truth and healing. It means letting God show me where I’ve been, where I am, and where I’m headed. Acknowledging who I was and how it shaped me into what I am now. Giving it all to Him and letting Him teach me and prepare me for what’s ahead. Letting Him pull me out of this rut, out of all the deep, muddy, hollowed out tracks, and show me a new road.

It means you get the real me. Unfiltered, unfettered, and unashamed.

It means surrender.

Pushing past fear.

REBIRTH.

Becoming that new creature, donning new armor, and facing whatever comes with courage.

If you choose to¬†soldier on¬†with¬†me on this new adventure, you should at least know a little of what you might be getting into. On that note, I’ve drawn up some ideas for posts and events designed to initiate conversation, educate, entertain, and allow us a place to join forces and strengthen one another.

So what can you expect?

More regular posts, and a method to the madness!

Monday- I will set the tone for the week. I will introduce a topic that coincides with whatever review I’m doing. And, I’ll give you any updates from my writing world.

Tuesday- This will be the day I do book reviews. Mostly, I will review Speculative Fiction, but there may be an occasional surprise. I read whatever strikes me.

Wednesday- This is the day set aside for interviews with authors and others I find interesting.

Thursday- Variety and surprise day! You never know what may be coming your way.

Friday- One of my favorites! Friday is fight day! What that means, is I will post anything from self-defense moves, to a peek at a certain martial arts style, and even spiritual warfare techniques such as keys to defeating addiction, fighting depression, and standing against spiritual attack.

I’m excited about the new direction for my blog and I hope you are as well. I can’t wait to share my thoughts with you and give you a look into my world!

And, since the point is giving people what they want and need, I want your input.

Tell me if there is something specific you’d like to see, read, or discuss.

I want to get to know you as well!