Hearts on the Page #2 ~ My Heart is Broken

DSCN8237

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

 file7721244751795

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

file000708681001

            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

file00097176607

 

 

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!

 

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00038]

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

11056600_407771432746282_243685215397184344_n

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. 😛

10896926_322992327890860_2503422230740526469_n

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.

1380192_295326620657431_464831862673186605_n

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.

12122531_885051484904237_556081053548509952_n

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. 🙂

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! 🙂 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.

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?

41c3077d9ea11ff054a5b44bdf4764be

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.

591795959e89bea2169ec521105f1ab8

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.

11cb13810c7a4e3441ce37e4107fbe01

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.

Book Review: The Hive by John Otte

12063352_10207398586624976_7657618659091260413_n

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?

12079274_10207398586904983_2139244286825775611_n

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!

12004954_10207344694237700_749314192610076455_n

Interview with author John Otte

12004954_10207344694237700_749314192610076455_n

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!

428748_359019970787823_1106263098_n

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