Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Book Launch Party!

As Fairydust Settles, the sequel to Shrouded Jewels, is now available, and I would love to celebrate with you!

January 11th, 2014
Starts at 2pm, but come when you can
The author's house (email for the address and directions)

  • Hors d'oeuvres and cookies
  • A small gift for those who attend
  • A raffle prize (must be present to win)
  • Short book readings on the hour
  • Special treat: meet the cover models from all three novels!
Books will be sold at discounted rates:
  • Paperback:
    • $10 for one
    • $18 for two
    • $25 for three
  • Hardcover formats can be ordered for $25 each (regularly $28 for friends and family) 
Please invite your friends! You're welcome to contact me (Jansina@rivershorebooks.com) if you'd like more details.

Want an easy way to share the event? Join it on Facebook!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Free eBooks!

In honor of Christmas, author Kendra E. Ardnek is offering four of her ebooks FREE on the Kindle! 

If you don't own a Kindle you can always read the books on your cell phone or computer. I do have one, but I still use my phone quite often.

These will be available for a limited time, so mark your calendars!

December 23rd to 27th: The Derao, a short story 
December 24th to 28th: Sew, It's a Quest 
December 25th: Do You Take This Quest? and The Ankulen

There is no small print with this deal--just free books! Of course, authors always appreciate reviews. (I'll be reviewing each of these on my Rivershore Books blog sometime in 2014.)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

New Release: Priceless by L.A. Ramsey

This is a guest post by author L.A. Ramsey. I was recently given the opportunity to edit another of her books, Sunny Beam, and consider her a talented author. I haven't read Priceless yet, but I'm excited to.

Have you ever wondered if there was any sin that God's grace doesn't cover? Does a person live who has fallen so deeply in the mire of sin that even God's love and mercy can't reach? Even when all hope seems lost and you think life is no longer worth living, God's love shines through...somehow...

He works in mysterious ways, even when we make the conscious choice to deny Him. He wishes for no one to be lost. No one...

Priceless - Love's True Worth is such a story, a coming of age romance about a young girl faced with almost more than she can handle.  Her life leads her to ill choices that lead her down a dark and unworthy path...until she meets him...until he introduces her to the One who can reach down and save her.  The question remains, will she accept it?  Will she change her ways?

From the back cover...

Of what value is a life?  For some the cost of companionship is a few dollars while to others the cost is a lifetime of commitment to another.  Annequin’s life in Shady Grove begins simply enough, a caricature of the early lives of many young girls who find themselves the victims of circumstance.  Loss and a lack of deep caring in her home eventually drive this beautiful young woman away from her difficult home life to another life that she believes will be her way to happiness.  As far too many in Annequin’s position discover, the road chosen is sometimes paved with pain and disappointment.  With time and the testing of a young heart and soul, the woman from Shady Grove learns the true meaning of love and grace given by others.

Why I Wrote Priceless

I wrote this novel wanting to show that not everyone starts on a pristine path to his or her Christian walk.  Some people may have unfortunate circumstances that leads them down the dark paths of sin and then choose to turn their back on the One who can redeem them.  In Priceless, I show that no matter how dark the night may be, God's light can find a way.
Priceless is available as a digital download on Amazon KindleNookSmashWords, and soon on Kobo, iTunes, and Sony.  Priceless is available on Amazon as paperback too.


LA Ramsey enjoys writing about her faith in novels from her home with her husband and six children. Priceless was 19 years in the making. This is her second novel. Her first novel is Sunny Beam - The Holy Lion, a Christian romance, available on Amazon. 

Find Lori at: LA RamseyFacebook , Pinterest, and Twitter.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

As Fairydust Settles is Here!

My newest book, As Fairydust Settles, is now available!

From the back cover:

“Would you have married me if you had known?”

Mical’s question stays with Davey. He doesn’t have an answer.

Mical was wrong to deceive him, and her apologetic efforts may not be enough to keep them together. Will her spiteful father allow them the chance to find out?

This sequel to Shrouded Jewels continues to follow Mical and Davey as they struggle with deception, temptation, and a sometimes bitter reality.

Will Davey and Mical find their happily ever after?

Praise for the book:

“I think it may be her best yet.” – Gina Marinello-Sweeney, author of I Thirst

“Jansina, once again, brilliantly shows how the fairytale can have a happy ending after all.” – C.M. Stewart.

“It has mystery, humor, sadness, happiness, it’s very descriptive, and more. Jansina is a gifted author!” – Liz Ellertson, author of Liz’s Lefse

As Fairydust Settles is now available in paperback, hardcover, and ebook formats!

Ebook: ($2.99)

Paperback: ($12.99)

Hardcover, casewrap: ($19.99)

Hardcover, dust-jacket ($21.59)

You are welcome to purchase paperback or hardcover editions by emailing me at Jansina@rivershorebooks.com. I'm honored to sign any copies purchased directly from me!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Marilynn Dawson Blog Tour: Schedule

Guess what everyone?  Thilly Little Nothings is part of a blog tour! Author Marilynn Dawson is inviting you to take part in the Google Play Winter Giveaway taking place between December 1st and January 26th. As part of the blog tour, we get to feature one of her books every week. The complete schedule is below. My date is in the list, and don't forget to stop by the others as well. If you have a Google account email address, you can enter your name to win one of her books every week. The first drawing is on December 8th.

December 2nd: Tiffany - Voices4Society

December 9th: Jansina - Rivershore Books

December 18th: Lori Ramsey - Author and Novelist

December 23: Tiffany - Voices4Society

December 30th: Marilynn Dawson - Songdove's Musings

January 6th: LitanyPrayerhope - Prayer of Hope's Christian Fiction Reviews

January 13th: Tiffany  - Voices4Society

January 20th: Jansina - Thilly Little Nothings

Thursday, November 28, 2013

30 Little Celebrations

Happy Thanksgiving!

On Facebook this month, I've been enjoying reading the 30 days of thankfulness posts. I love this tradition, and only wish it was lengthened to 365 days of thankfulness.

Of course I'm grateful for big things: my family and friends, a steady income, and how amazing Papa is, to name a few. For me, though, it's the little celebrations that remind me of the larger ones. So, in honor of Thanksgiving, I've compiled, in no particular order, the below incomprehensive list.

30 Little Celebrations

  1. Books
  2. Chocolate-flavored-coffee
  3. Paper
  4. Candles
  5. Friends who don't mind modeling for your covers...
    Thanks, Jojo!
  6. Computers
  7. Blankets
  8. Sunlight
  9. Dry-erase boards 
    So great for organizing!
  10. Drawers you can stuff things into to keep your desk 'clean'. (That's right. I'm one of those people.)
  11. Fuzzy pajamas
  12. Fuzzy socks
  13. Fuzzy anything
    Fluffy, fuzzy...same thing, right?
  14. Music you can't help but dance to (maybe that's just me)
  15. Movies
  16. Handwritten letters (both sending and receiving)
  17. Snow on a day you don't have to drive 
    Especially when it sticks to the branches like this...beautiful
  18. The just-one-more-chapter phenomenon
  19. Sunrises and sunsets
  20. Verbal hugs (also known as words of affirmation)
  21. Mutual excitement 
    I don't actually know what this gif is from. I still like it.
  22. Doodling, because it doesn't have to be 'good'
  23. Flowers
  24. Being outside
  25. Dresses
  26. Finishing a project, even a small one
    I like this size for a to do list
  27. Good hair days
  28. Salvageable hair days
  29. Your favorite song on the radio
  30. Sleep, and stuffed animals
    I might still have one or two...and still sleep with them. Hush.

I could go on. I love these reminders of Papa's goodness! I'll end this here...but perhaps these lists will become a new monthly tradition. Maybe there really can be 365 days of thankfulness.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

I Thirst: Sale!

Looking for a Christmas gift for a family member or friend? Gina Marinello-Sweeney's debut novel, I Thirst, is currently on sale! This well-written story of friendship will be available on Amazon for 30% off ($8.99) until Black Friday, November 29th.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Celebration Time!

Yesterday evening, at 6:41 (approximately), I put the final touches on the current draft of As Fairydust Settles!

I celebrated with an extra coffee for the day...which I put in the fridge for morning. Today, I'm beginning a new round of edits. Expected release date: end of November.

Here's a snippet!
Jonathan reached for the handle and held the door closed. “I don’t want to see you hurt.” 
Davey’s smile left his eyes. “There is nothing more he could do to me.” 
“Things can always be worse, Davey.” 
The corners of Davey’s mouth fought to stay down, but his eyes continued to betray him. “I liked you better when you were unstoppably optimistic.”

What are you celebrating today?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Quotable Moment #4

“If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

Monday, October 21, 2013

NaNoWriMo Facebook Event!

While it's not for everyone, NaNoWriMo is a great motivational tool for many authors. Forgotten Memories and As Fairydust Settles (soon-to-be-released) were products of NaNo. Possibly my favorite part of this writing challenge is the way authors unite and support one another. Who says writing is a solitary occupation?

(Okay, a lot of people say that.)

This year, Rivershore Books is hosting a NaNoWriMo event on Facebook. Not participating in NaNo? You're still welcome to join! It's meant to be a place of support for all authors.

Now, for a request. If you have a blog, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, or any other social media account...would you consider sharing the URL and one of the below images with your followers? I'd love to see this event spread.

URL: https://www.facebook.com/events/1423309784554388/

Thank you!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Scrapbooking Story

Chapter 16 in As Fairydust Settles is one I'd been looking forward to since I made the final chapter-by-chapter outline months ago. Here's a digital scrapbook peek at the contents:

Scrapping pieces courtesy of DigiTee Designs and Sahlin Studio.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Memory Ghosts by Chelise Fry

I am so excited to share Rivershore's newest book, Memory Ghosts by Chelise Fry!

"The battle between hero and villain is one most often fought within ourselves"

This is the first in her History of Eyrthum fantasy series, and follows brothers Reinhold and Lamertyn as they learn the secrets and dangers of Eyrthum. The intensity of the details, depth of the content, beautiful wording, and realistic characters combine to make this a book that drew me in and kept my interest to the end. I can't wait to read book 2!

Note: This book is meant for ages 16+, due to thematic elements.

For a limited time, the paperback of this book will be available at the reduced price of $10.99 on Amazon and the Rivershore Books store

Be watching in the coming weeks for the ebook! The price of the paperback will revert to $12.99 when the ebook is released.

Writing Update

As many of you will remember, my current project is the sequel to Shrouded Jewels, titled As Fairydust Settles. This story follows Mical and Davey as they deal with the results of deception and how it affects their marriage. Meanwhile, Mr. Benson is determined to keep them from happiness.

I have had a hard time with this story, for a variety of reasons. The first draft was written during NaNoWriMo 2011. As any NaNo author knows, the focus is on the wordcount; the content is secondary.

NaNo 2010 (Forgotten Memories) worked beautifully for me. I had an entire novel, in the right order, and though it needed editing (my first drafts--and even second, third, and sometimes fourth drafts--are never perfect), I was thrilled with the result. NaNo 2012 (Tomatoes Don't Judge), I believe will be similar. I haven't looked at the draft lately because I work on one project at a time, but I'm not expecting unpleasant surprises.

As Fairydust Settles was more like a compilation of scenes than a novel. They were out of order, and when I could read it critically, I learned that much of the writing didn't fit within the story.

After three or four outlines, I finally had one I was happy with. The only problem? It meant deleting more than half of the current story. For a while, I lost motivation. Can you blame me? I continued on, but the writing was slow and difficult. Although I was excited about where the story could go, I was frustrated that it had taken so long to get there.

Finally, I've reached what I consider the fun part. I'm on chapter 16, with an end goal of 20 chapters. In the next few weeks, I hope to have this draft completely done, and I'll move from writing to editing. It's taken some time, but I'm happy with how it's turning out now...and I'm so excited to finally share this story with you all--by December this year, if all goes smoothly!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Book Excerpt: As Fairydust Settles

She wanted sleep, but needed to study, and neither involved picking up her phone.
Still, she answered after the third ring, right before the voicemail caught it.
“Is this the Blake residence?”
She nodded. “Yes…who is this?” Mical released a silent yawn as she waited for the response.
She heard only breathing on the other end for a moment.
Prank caller. She yawned again and moved the phone away from her ear to hit ‘End’.
“Miss…” the voice was slow, almost forced.
She held the phone up again. “Yes?”
“I’m with the Ellsworth Police Department. I understand your husband was David Blake?”
She hesitated. “Yes…?”
“I have some bad news.”
Mical listened in silence as the officer explained.
“There was nothing we could do,” he said, his third or fourth cliché since the conversation began. “I’m sorry.”
She swallowed, not wanting to comprehend his words—not wanting to accept them as truth.

As Fairydust Settles has an expected release date of Christmas, 2013.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Quotable Moment #3

“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”

Friday, September 13, 2013

Clean Reading for under $1? I'm in.

Actually, my books are in...but I'm sure I'll be buying some of these wonderful books for myself, too!

Today only, these books and more will be available on the Kindle for $0.99 or FREE! Visit www.cleanauthors.com to see which authors are participating.

Forgotten Memories and Shrouded Jewels are both available for $0.99 until Monday. If you purchased either book in paperback via Amazon, you can get the Kindle version free! (If you bought the paperback directly from me, please email me by Monday for your free ebook.)

On Monday, my prices will revert to $2.99 (or $0.99 if you also buy the paperback).

Happy reading, everyone!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Excerpt: As Fairydust Settles

Sammy woke each morning promptly at five, and waited patiently with his tea until Davey trudged out of bed between seven and eight.

He greeted Davey with a grin, and only a touch of a “‘bout time you woke up” attitude. Sammy offered tea, and Davey made coffee; he fed them both sausage-dotted eggs as they silently watched squirrels and birds.

It was a comforting routine, and if it had only included Mical, Davey would have been completely content.

In her absence, it didn’t even matter that she didn’t believe what he did.

Of course, he knew he was fooling himself. It would always matter. But with his parents’ and Sammy’s help, he was learning how to handle it when things returned to ‘normal.’

Sammy turned his attention from a squirrel trying to steal a metal acorn from a lawn ornament, and watched Davey for a moment. “Thinking about your darling again, eh?”

Davey smiled. “All the time.”

He nodded in understanding. “Papa will tell you when the time is right.”

“I’m counting on it,” Davey agreed with a smile.

“David,” Sammy said.

Davey’s smile faded in response to Sammy’s tone.

“I don’t often ask for favors I can’t repay,” he began, his voice steady and deliberate.

Davey nodded. “Anything, Sammy,” he promised.

-As Fairydust Settles, Chapter 7

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Actually Finishing Something [in] July: Week Four (sort of)

Thanks to Katie from Whisperings of the Pen!

Although I didn't finish in July...or in August...I liked some of the questions Katie posed, and wanted to answer them anyway!

Do you have a Pinterest inspiration board, or other collection of images, that inspire your story? If so, share one or two of them with us.

I really don't...I do love this gif as a representation of my character Abigail, though:

How would the main character of your story react if he or she were introduced to you?

I have two main characters...

Davey: "It's so great to meet a new friend!"

Mical: "Um...you think you know what about me?"

Introduce us to one or two of the secondary characters in your story.

If you've read my first novel (Forgotten Memories), you've met them already. Ella and Joe are part of As Fairydust Settles, and my hope is that their loving arguments will add a bit of humor to an otherwise darker book.

If one of your characters (you choose who) were allowed to choose a super-power, which power would he or she most desire?

Davey would want the power of teleportation, because it would mean he could be with everyone he cares about in moments.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Quotable Moment #2

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Quotable Moment #1

I have always appreciated quotes. I'll write them in my notebooks to keep me going, or print them out and put them in places I see often (like the top of my laptop). Because of that, I'm starting a new blog series...there won't be much (if any) of my own writing--but I'll share one of my favorite quotes.

Just like this:

“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn't happen much, though.”

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Scrapbooking Life

Since I first learned about it, I've always had a semi-interest in scrapbooking--and a lot of "good intentions."

On my trip across Europe about ten years ago, I gathered ticket stubs, pamphlets, buttons...anything connected to the trip that would fit in a scrapbook. I did the same a few years later on a trip around England.

Neither book has been made. (Or likely ever will be.) I settled on regular photo albums and photobooks from Snapfish. Not as fun, not as cute, but less time-consuming.

All this to say...my newest semi-interest is digital scrapbooking. So, I figured, what better way to show you what I've been up to?

Thanks to DigiTee Designs for the background and some elements, and to Sahlin Studio for other elements used.

Actually Finishing Something [in] July: Week 3

Yes, July is over. No, I didn't make my initial goal. So I'm expanding the writing challenge into August. That's how these challenges work, right?

Thanks to Katie for hosting!

Were you able to meet (or exceed!) your goal this week?

For this week? So far, yes. I've been averaging a chapter a day so far...writing is going very well!

Where did you get the bulk of your writing accomplished? In the quiet of your room, outside on the patio, on the bus?

In my room, or in the lunchroom at work, but I'm the most "inspired" in coffee shops.

Share a couple of your favorite snippets!
“Well,” Davey said slowly, “I still don’t feel guided.”
Joe smiled. “I guess God isn’t giving out the instant stuff today.”
“God is so much bigger than unspoken prayers,” she said.

“Yes,” Joe said. “And He is so much bigger than one person’s unbelief.”
Have you introduced a new character into your story? Tell us about his/her personality.

Not quite--but I'm about to! Abigail is a spirited, sweet lady who has been forced to hide her beautiful self.

List the favorite foods of your main characters.

Mical loves eggs in all varieties, Davey's caramel rolls, and cheeseburgers.

Introduce us to the antagonist in your story. Does he/she prefer crunchy or creamy peanut butter?

Simon Benson is Mical's father, Davey's boss, and friend to neither. Perhaps he's just misunderstood...I'll leave that to the reader to decide. He prefers crunchy. Definitely crunchy.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Actually Finishing Something in July: Week 2

Okay, so it is definitely not the second week of July...I'm a bit behind with these posts. (So, you'll get a couple a week till July ends.)

Thanks to Katie from Whisperings of the Pen for hosting this!

1) How time flies! Did you reach your weekly goal?

I didn't have a weekly goal, but considering I wrote next to nothing, I'll go with no.

2) Is this challenge pushing and encouraging you to write more often?

At this point (second to last week of the month), absolutely.

3) Did you accomplish most of your writing in the morning, afternoon, evening, or at random intervals during your busy day (i.e. waiting for your neighbors to go inside so you can jump on the trampoline without disturbing them)?

Afternoon or evening. I'm really, really not a morning person.

4) Any particular musical tracks inspiring your prose?

The Kind David soundtrack is what started this series...and it's also what's getting me through.

5) Share a snippet (or two) of your writing!
“Well, maybe you should give the story a chance to be told,” Ella countered.
“What do you think I’ve been doing?” Joe asked.
“Using me as a drawing board to perfect your witty banter,” Ella said, without hesitation.
“My banter does not need perfecting in order to be witty,” Joe said, grinning.
6) Share your three favorite bits of dialogue.
“Sleepy,” Joe interjected. “I was sleepy—not ungrateful.” 
“Money can do a lot of things that shouldn’t be possible, Davey.”
“Are you ready for some liquid warmth?”
7) How are you going to move forward in this challenge? Are you changing your word-count goal, or other such battle plans this week?

My goal is the same, my pace will just need to be much faster now. I should set weekly or daily goals to be sure it happens...but it will.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Actually Finishing Something in July

I'm slightly late with this, but I really loved the idea and knew right away I wanted to participate.

A huge thanks to Katie, of Whisperings of the Pen, for hosting this motivational tool!

1) What is your writing goal?

To finish the current draft of As Fairydust Settles.

2) Give us a short synopsis of your project. What makes it unique?

AFS is a sequel to Shrouded Jewels, and continues to follow Mical and Davey as they go through the realities of deception, love, and brokenness. It's unique in that it follows the Bible story found in 1 Samuel 18, but with a modern twist.

3) How long have you been working on this project?

Oh...since November, 2011.

4) How often do you intend to write in order to reach your goal by August 1st?

Daily, even if only a couple sentences come out.

5) Introduce us to three of your favorite characters in this project.

Davey, Sammy, and Anna. The hero (Davey), naturally, is a favorite. He's far from perfect, but I love his strength. Sammy is a wonderful mentor with a thilly side, and Anna is sweet and honest.

6) Go to page 16 (or 6, 26, or 66!) of your writing project. Share your favorite line or snippet on the page.

Anna sat on the ground, facing Mical. She crossed her legs and leaned forward. “How’s it going?” 
Mical glanced up at the clock on the far wall. Squinting her eyes slightly, she saw that she still had almost half an hour before class. “Okay.”
“What’s wrong?”
She bit her lip. Somehow, Anna always knew.

7) Tea or coffee?

I do try to drink more tea, but it has to be coffee (especially with French Vanilla Creamer, but I love it with milk and sugar, too). The flavor and smell are just fantastic.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Author Interview: Elizabeth Kaiser

In honor of the release of her newest book, Traitor's Knife, today I got to have a fun interview with author Elizabeth Kaiser.

Okay—let’s get the factual parts out of the way. What are the names of your books, what are they about, and where can people find them? Can you give short summaries of your books?

I've finished two so far, both in the same series. In the first, Jeweler's Apprentice, a bookish country lass, Fia, stumbles onto a court secret while trying to save the princess (and the princess turns out to be in no danger at all). To get her out of the way the Chancellor sends her on an apprenticeship to a high mountain jeweler, but he is unaware that the civil war in the neighboring kingdom is spilling over into the jeweler's house.
JA is available on Amazon.

The sequel, Traitor's Knife, picks up where Jeweler's Apprentice left off. When the loyalist cause enlists the mountain house into a weaponry, we find our apprentice Fia confronted with refugee children, a disturbingly upstart former messenger, and accidents happening everywhere. Are saboteurs out to nix the weapons works, or is it the incognito crown prince they're after?

What genre are your books?
I'd classify them as Fantasy, though they're very Low-Fantasy and a lot of feedback I receive says that they feel like historical fiction. I love that, since I want to bring a lot of realism and down-to-earthiness to the fantasy genre.
In fact, readers say they wish my settings were real, 'cause they want to visit! Super love that!

As you can see by my header, thilly is its own word, and it means “sillier than silly”. With that in mind, what thilly thing do you do regularly? Have you done it today? (If not, why not?)
I guess I'm not into doing silly things in and of themselves, but if someone else thinks I'm silly, I've learned not to let that bother me. I used to be shy and stiff, but life's to short to let silly fears keep you in a box. I've developed somewhat of a personal manifesto; if I feel like doing something and it has no chance of harming anything, than go for it!
So, if I feel like it I will: dance in the kitchen while my sisters look on with horrified amusement, I will randomly groove to the beat of a song in my head or even sing it, I will wink at the mirror and say "Go get'em, tiger!" or blow myself a kiss... in general, I will refuse to let momentary uncertainties preclude the fact that I am here to learn to dance in the rain of life.

What word or words do you use too much?
Um... well, I'm a vocabulary collector, so I run through them regularly. There's so many option for any given job!
One thing I did do wrong was confuse "continuity" and "spontaneity" for several years. So I said "continaety" instead of "continuity" and frankly, it sounded better. But I looked it up in private after being publicly called on it, (of course I defended my pronunciation at the time. It DID sound British! ) So... that was a little embarrassing for a long while, but I've tried to put it behind me. Nobody's perfect, and why should I be the exception?
But even now, I have to think before I say "The overarching theme lends greater conti... nuity to the series as a whole."
Wish I didn't have to do that. But there you have it.

What is your writing fuel?
I would say chocolate is sort of my personal first-aid kit for any crash and burn experiences I have, or simply for those kind of days. Dark, dark chocolate, or anythign with mint or peanut butter. As for my writing fuel; I have to honestly say it's my sister. She's the one who brainstorms with me, cheers my raw snippets, edits and polishes later drafts, and her unflagging appreciation for my tales is what keeps me chained in the chair even when burnout has struck and I'd rather be anywhere else, including Arizona in August. (And I hate heat!)

If you could have a porcupine or a penguin for a pet, which would you choose?
I hate porcupines! They are sooo ugly. Have you seen one up close? Seriousy... ick. Besides, they kill pine trees, and in the west, being a tree-murderer is almost as bad as a horse thief. We don't have the trees to spare.
So penguin it is. Though I hope it's one that likes temperate climes, 'cause I'm NOT living in the Arctic. No way.

Life is full of little celebrations (things to be grateful for). What are you celebrating today?
I know this isn't a little thing at all, but right now I'm just celebrating the fact that I've got an absolutely awesome King; and He lets me tag along in His shadow as part of His retinue. What a mind blowing reality that is. I've just been in a frenzied state of worry and concern over life-things this past week, and then I finally take it to Him and He knocks it out of the park with His word.
So I'm just basking in the stunned state that always follows.
Why does this take me by surprise every time?

How much time do you spend writing each day?
I do not have a set schedule; in fact I wrote a blog post about that and titled it "Pipes or Cistern?" I'm a cistern writer. I can write 'till I'm dry, and then I have to wait for a refill. This can result in huge output, and then long dry spells. But it's okay, since there's always lots to be done around here.

Who is your favorite character (in your own writing)? Why?
Ooooo! Ouch. How can I answer this? There are too many! I guess I'll limit it to Traitor's Knife, to make it possible to answer.
My personal favorite character in this book is Gilahdro, the Spymaster, former Gemkeeper. He is just so cool. I'd love to be his relation in some form, because even the reflected amazingness would make me so proud of my family connections!
And I'd LOVE to have him stop in for supper, have long talks about his view of the world... he's just such a interesting man, I really, really, really like him.

Who is your favorite character (in other books)?
I guess that would be a toss up between Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf and the dwarves. They are all so perfectly pitched to their own situations, and I love the way that they harmonize as a group. To me, Tolkien's finest work was the Hobbit, and it's one of the few books I never tire of re-reading. Even a paragraph or a page, it's just music.

What is your biggest distraction, and how do you move past it?
My biggest distraction would probably be the fact that I get bored with my stories right before they're two-thirds to three-quarters done, and finishing them is like pulling teeth. My creative muscle doesn't want to return to them, and my perspective is shot.
Here's where my sis is a lifesaver. She tells me exactly what scenes I need to make happen; and then she'll let me know if they're hitting the right notes, because at this point I've gone tone-deaf.
So Abigail is how I move past that. She's the best!

And finally, what is the most rewarding part about writing for you?
I love the emotional rush that comes when I'm allowing these characters, settings and actions pour out of my head onto the page. It's like an adrenaline high, and after a particularly good session I'll be so hyped I have trouble going to bed. That is a huge part of why I write; and what made me write even before I had anyone who "liked" what I did. I kept doing it purely for this rush.
Second, the warm fuzzy feeling I get now when Abi reads a finished scene and gets all excited about it. That is completely sweet, and there's nothing in the world like it. To know that something I created has made an impression like that is just staggering and humbling at the same time. I love that moment.
I even love it when she keeps us awake late into the night for months afterward, going on and on about the worlds I've written. Since my first novel came out, (Jeweler's Apprentice) I've heard back from readers who are also older sisters, and they are being kept awake at night while their siblings talk excitedly about my characters, and I love that, too!
Thirdly, the feeling of accomplishment and finality when I've ground out the work it takes to finish a full manuscript... that is a mixed bag of emotions, but the sense of fulfillment is very, very satisfying. 

I've got a lot of "lost tales", as do most writers, I think. Now I'm bothered by them and want to go back and finish them up... even though I am still getting new ideas! Still, I think I'm going to try to balance the two, and bring to fruition the gems of the pile, so to speak.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Book Review: Monster

I don't normally post reviews on this blog, since they're more for my Rivershore Books one, but I enjoyed this book so much I wanted to share it here, too.

I approached this book with a little trepidation. Monster sounds like the title of a thriller—a genre I tend to avoid. The actual genre of this book is something like dystopian, realistic fiction, with perhaps a little science fiction. It’s difficult to place it, since I hadn’t read anything quite like it before.

Set in 2053, Neal paints a realistic (if undesirable) future. The story begins in a medical facility in Alaska, and follows a brilliant young scientist, Eva, as she receives a promotion in WorldCure and is given a chance to run tests and experiments on one of the facility’s subjects. Her goal, and the supposed goal of her employer, is to find cures for diseases. There are darker motivations at play, however.

For a book that takes place in the future, Neal did a great job of keeping the advancements (or regressions) believable. Nothing seemed too far-fetched, from the technology to the declining morals.

Although it’s not my favorite genre, I’ve read and seen enough futuristic fiction to know authors are easily tempted to exaggerate some of the advancements we’ll have. For example, the hover cars in Back to the Future are supposed to be here in 2015. I suspect that after these next two years pass, I’ll still be waiting for mine.

There wasn’t anything like hovering cars in Monster. The new technologies Neal introduced were very small, subtle differences from what we currently have: things I can picture actually occurring in the next forty years.

It wasn’t the technology that drew me into the novel, though. There is a depth to her characters that was immediately noticeable. She has a talent for observing little but important details: those pieces of a person that give you a glimpse into who they are. The way she captured the quirks, flaws, and beauty of the characters was wonderful. I fell in love with her characters—Mir in particular—and they kept my attention through all 400+ pages.

A little warning: there are some violent parts throughout the book, and descriptions of unpleasant medical procedures, mainly within the first half. The scenes themselves are short, but for me they left a lasting impression.

Neal is skilled at descriptions. No matter where her characters went or what they were doing, I could clearly picture the scene. I have never been in a medical research facility (hospitals don’t count), but if I had any artistic talent, I could draw WorldCure. The way the scenes are painted gives the reader something to imagine without bogging us down with too many unimportant facts.

But arguably the best part of the book—at least, the part that has me replaying it over again in my mind days after I’ve reached “the end”—is the fact that the topics within it are far from “fluff”. Monster brings up deep, thoughtful subjects such as faith, humanity, and how to balance scientific facts with improvable beliefs. Neal handles each one of these excellently and naturally, with realistic discussions, mainly in the form of debates between Eva and her professor friend and mentor, Pocky. None of it seems forced, and none of it seems “preachy”.

Every once in a while, there comes a book that captures the reader so much, it stays with them long after they’ve put it down. These are rare, but wonderful. Monster is one of those books.

The paperback and Kindle versions are both available on Amazon.

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for this unbiased review.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Author Interview: Regina Doman

At the end of May, I had the pleasure of hosting author Regina Doman and her husband Andrew. Together they run a Catholic publishing company, Chesterton Press. It was a delight to learn from them and hear their insights on writing, publishing, and characters. Below is an interview with Regina.

Can you give short summaries of your books?

The Shadow of the Bear: The fairy tale: Snow White and Rose Red
In New York City, two very different sisters befriend a mysterious stranger on a mission, and in doing so endanger their lives.
Black as NightThe fairy tale: Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
Seven friars who work with the homeless in New York City take in a runaway girl, and become emeshed in a plot to destroy her.
Waking Rose: The fairy tale: Sleeping Beauty
When a vibrant young girl goes into a coma, the only person who can save her is a young man who thinks his problems exclude him from ever being a knight in shining armor.
Midnight DancersThe fairy tale: The Twelve Dancing Princesses
Twelve sisters from a very strict family discover a way out of their house at night, and begin a dance with darkness, until a young soldier intervenes.
Alex O'Donnell and the Forty Cyberthieves: The fairy tale: Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves
When Alex's dad finds a mysterious website that leads to sudden wealth and murder, his reluctant girlfriend Kateri must solve the case.
Rapunzel Let DownThe fairy tale: Rapunzel
When the son of a conservative, pro-life senator meets the daughter of a hardcore feminist scientist, their summer romance leads to disaster.
What genre are your books?

Young Adult, contemporary fiction.

Who is your books' audience?

YA. The largest portion of fans are Christians who share my beliefs, but that's not true of all my fans.

What first inspired your books?

GK Chesterton when he wrote in Orthodoxy (paraphrase), "The modern novel is about an extraordinary man in a dull, mundane world, and his adventures are always dull...but the fairy tale makes the hero an ordinary boy in an extraordinary world." I wanted my fiction to have that magic.

How long have you been writing, and why did you start?

It's a lifelong obsession. Still not sure why I started. I'm not stopping, though.

Where do you write most often?

On the computer. I write most of my books in the kitchen surrounded by yelling kids.

What are your 'author quirks'?

Em. Maybe those around me know better. I do know my eyes glaze over when I'm really thick into a book.

What advice do you have for other authors?

Keep on doing it. Write sacrificially (when you'd rather be doing something else). It's the only way the thing gets done.

What do you do when you lack motivation?


No, seriously, keep a schedule and make myself write something.

What do you most want your readers to know?


That their actions have significance, and their lives have meaning.

Regina, Andrew, and Jansina