DUAL REVIEW: Wingfeather Saga Books 3 & 4 by Andrew Peterson!

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Hey everyone!  Today I have a double-review post featuring the third and fourth books in the Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson: The Monster in the Hollows and The Warden and the Wolf King.  I was super excited for the opportunity to read the whole series for review, and just yesterday, I got the news that my preorders of these books shipped -- after a monthlong delay for release, I'm so sO SO  excited to finally hold the entire series in my hands!  They're so gorgeous, and heartfelt, and impactful...and boy, the finale didn't disappoint.  Of course, this is a rerelease for the hardcover illustrated books, so you may have already read them.  But if you're a fan, they're worth getting again. If you haven't read the Saga, check out my post featuring the first two books (On The Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness and North! Or Be Eaten) HERE, and then continue on for more info on the last two books!

The official release day is October 6th...and I'll give you a hint if you want to snag these books: Christian Book Distributors has them both on sale right now....  

Anyway -- onward!

The Monster in the Hollows: The Wingfeather Saga Book 3 by [Andrew Peterson]


Book Three of The Wingfeather Saga

Janner Wingfeather's father was the High King of Anniera. But his father is gone. The kingdom has fallen. The royal family is on the run, and the Fang armies of Gnag the Nameless are close behind.

Janner and his family hope to find refuge in the last safe place in the world: the Green Hollows--a land of warriors feared even by Fangs of Dang. But there's a big problem. Janner's little brother-heir to the throne of Anniera-has grown a tail. And gray fur. Not to mention two pointed ears and long, dangerous fangs. To the suspicious folk of the Green Hollows he looks like a monster.

But Janner knows better. His brother isn't as scary as he looks. He's perfectly harmless.

Or is he?

Join the Wingfeathers on an adventure filled with mystery, betrayal, and sneakery in a land of tasty fruits. There's a monster on the loose and the truth lurks in the shadows.


The Warden and the Wolf King: The Wingfeather Saga Book 4 by [Andrew Peterson]


All winter long, people in the Green Hollows have prepared for a final battle with Gnag the Nameless and the Fangs of Dang. Janner, Kalmar, and Leeli Throne Warden, Wolf King, and Song Maiden of Anniera, are ready and willing to fight alongside the Hollowsfolk, but when the Fangs make the first move and invade Ban Rona, the children are separated. Janner is alone and lost in the hills; Leeli is fighting the Fangs from the rooftops of the city; and Kalmar, who carries a terrible secret, is on a course for the Deeps of Throg. Meanwhile in Skree, Sara Cobbler and Maraly Weaver care for the broken Artham Wingfeather as Fangs muster for battle across the Mighty River Blapp. Sea dragons lurk in the waters. Wicked Stranders crawl through the burrows. Ridgerunners and trolls prowl the land. Cloven haunt the forest. Monsters and Fangs and villains lie between the children and their only hope of victory in the epic conclusion of The Wingfeather Saga.



Andrew Peterson is critically acclaimed in the music industry, and his lyrics and songwriting are compared by reviewers to James Taylor, Marc Cohn, and the late Rich Mullins. He's married to Jamie; they have two sons, Aedan and Jesse, and one daughter, Skye.

Joe Sutphin was known in school as "that kid who can draw." He is the illustrator of Dr. Critchlore's School for Minions by Sheila Grau and the New York Times bestselling novel Word of Mouse by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein. 



I couldn't separate the reviews for both of these books, really, because they flow together so well -- but I'll try my best.  And I'll try to keep from screaming about certain spoiler things that really took me by surprise.  

The Monster in the Hollows starts off pretty much where book #2 ended, and I found the first half to be a little bit difficult to get through -- it's not so much focused on the overarching peril faced by the Wingfeathers and Igibys, but it centers on Kalmar's great change and all of the implications that the family faces.  While it's interesting in its own way, it's a bit of an abrupt halt to the general sense of urgency that the first two books are drenched in.  But that peril is actually centralized to the Hollows, where the Wingfeathers go to escape the threat of Gnag and the Fangs.  A Grey Fang isn't much welcome in the Hollows, after all, and there are all manner of them and cloven beasts that threaten the Hollowsfolks' borders.  You just start to think that the Hollowsfolk are accepting Kalmar when something happens - and all fingers point to the Wingfeathers.  And when farm animals are mysteriously snatched up, with no one else to blame, a plot to betray the Wingfeathers and jail them arises.  They have to know who their friends are and who their enemies are -- and sometimes, it's just the opposite of who you might think.  There are a few very clever plot twists that really will leave you with your mouth hanging.  The finale is touching and very sad at the same time, and you'll need to read book #4 ASAP.  

Book #4, The Warden and the Wolf King, picks up immediately from book #3, and deals with some of the jaw-dropping plot twists from the previous finale.  I seriously wish I could blab about all of those spoilers, but I can't...so if I'm being vague, I apologize.  You'll thank me if you read these books.  There isn't really a dry spot to be found in this book, and I ended up reading the entire second half in one sitting.  The stakes are continually high throughout the entire book, and we also get a little bit of backstory on Gnag the Nameless and exactly why he's so terrible.  The Jewels of Anniera must face their worst fears and risk losing everything in order to defeat Gnag and what threatens the whole world as they know it.  I had chills so many times over certain lines, certain actions that were taken, and the depth of thought that is obviously present  in these books.  And as for the finale...well, I'm still reeling a little about it and I'd rather not think about it too much, but I'm satisfied with the ending.  And you'll want to stick around for the epilogue for sure.  Trust me on this.

(I don't cry very often over books, like honest-to-goodness cry, but these ones...wow.)  

These books deal with trust, having faith, learning to let go and humble oneself, and how appearances don't matter -- it's what's beneath the surface that counts.  These are excellent, excellent books for the middle grade audience this series is intended for, and I daresay that adults could learn a lot from them too.  While it is high fantasy, the Christian themes present are very strong and solid but well-used (not preachy); perhaps at the level of Tolkien and C.S. Lewis for worldbuilding and the use of a Maker to represent God.

If you're looking for something new to read, if you're a fan of fantasy, and if you're looking for books that hold wonderful discussions about very tough topics, this is the series for you.  Wow.  

Have you read The Wingfeather Saga yet?  Do you plan to? 

THE LADY OF LANARIA: You Have to Have a Villain

Thursday, September 24, 2020

(Photo credit: Pinterest, Canva)

I usually write books where situations are antagonistic, so this was new for me.  And I hated the villain.  But then again, if I loved this crazy person, I might have to have my head checked.  (No offense to the folks who do end up liking her.  I have my own little collection of favorite villains.)  

Amaranth Argent was originally going to be an extremely powerful witch - the most feared of all the lands, as suggested in the "Rapunzel" fairytale.  "The Lady of Shallot" by Tennyson also has a powerful witch who casts a spell on the Lady.  I considered making this a high-fantasy novel with a lot of world-building that included my own magic system, but I really balked at the idea.  I mean, when I look at J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis on my bookshelves, I just automatically give up on high-fantasy ideas because nothing I could possibly come up with would be as immersive and splendid as their works.  Then I thought about the Salem Witch Trials and did a bit of research about witch hunts in ye olden Medieval days, and thought about a situation like that.  As I was doing that, I came across a post in one of the writing groups I'm involved in on Facebook, in which someone was asking about the lines that should be drawn in writing about witchcraft in a Christian novel.  It was an enlightening discussion...that terrified the ever-living tar out of me.  There's some weird stuff out there.  I put the whole story on the backburner at that point because I wasn't sure how to write such a villain without either "faking til I made it" or falling into the deep dark recesses of the Internet.  So I shelved the idea as a whole for a little while. And tried not to think about anything else, because it freaked me out. 

And then I picked up a book by Chip Ingram called The Invisible War, which talks about spiritual warfare (it's a spectacular read given...2020 as a whole...just don't read it at night.  I'm being serious about that last part; I had the weirdest dreams...)  Anyway, it talked a lot about the very real evil that works in this world -- something that consumes and devours.  If I remember correctly, it describes evil as seemingly enormous, but God has already overcome it.  It tries to overwhelm its victims, but it's really just a small, prickly shadow of temptation and suggestion that can be dispelled.  And things almost always get worse before they get better in such cases -- evil doesn't like to give up, you see.  So I came up with a pretty interesting twist for Amaranth as a person controlled and overtaken by the devil, someone who has pledged their allegiance fully to the devil.  It really helped me realign my perspective on her character and how she needed to be represented in the book. Sometimes you just have to have a good villain -- and you have to understand their motivation as well. This is what really, truly got the ball rolling, even though this decision created the need for an entire rewrite.  Plus, with help from my developmental editor, I was able to put a couple little twists in there as well...which I can't talk about, because spoilers.

One aspect of Amaranth Argent's story, which I can talk about, is exactly how uncaring she is.  I'm fascinated with psychology and kept my forensic psychology book from college, which talks in depth about various criminal justice procedures and the untreated mental problems that criminals typically have.  It's a rather handy book for a fiction writer.  Amaranth is completely a narcissistic sociopath; someone who craves the spotlight and has absolutely no conscience.  Someone who willingly exploits another person; someone who belittles and bullies others and feels completely entitled to do so.  At first, I barely had any scenes depicting Amaranth's treatment of Evangeline, because I wasn't sure how to broach the issue...until I realized that I was, a little bit, protecting Amaranth.  Trying to let the readers decide for themselves whether she was evil or not, without sticking my own opinion in.  

But deciding whether Amaranth is evil or not isn't the point of the book, and that doesn't necessarily work for this book -- evil is evil, and I for one am tired of letting people label blatantly evil things as something softer and nicer so they feel better.  In fact, that's one thing that Amaranth does too -- she claims she's the only one who cares for Evangeline; she twists the truth and tells Evangeline that she's the good guy, that she's the one being hurt the most in this story.  She's a manipulator and an abuser.  Destruction follows in her wake.  And more will, if she isn't stopped.  Contrasted against the person that Evangeline is, Amaranth comes across as a complete and utter monster...but she has to be.  Light meets the dark.  

And in the end, instead of an ambiguous plot that paints Amaranth as neither good nor bad, we have to ask this question: does evil consume itself?

I guess that's something we'll have to discover in November. 

In October's newsletter, I'll be offering a free snippet, exclusive to newsletter recipients, with a cut prologue that I wrote from Amaranth Argent's point of view.  It gives you a taste of what's to come, and if you like crazy...well, sign up.  I might also include a snippet from the novel in case you'd rather read something sweet.  Whether you like tricks or treats, click HERE to sign up -- it will land in your inbox October 13th.

Also, changing gears a little bit here, I wanted to let you know about an Instagram challenge that I'm hosting from October 1st through release week.  If you don't follow me on Instagram already, you'll want to check out THIS post for more information -- and I hope to see some of your gorgeous pics! 



Monday, September 21, 2020

 Hey everyone!  Autumn may be starting soon, but the Christmas reading season is almost upon us!  Today I have a review for Melody Carlson's latest release, The Christmas Swap.  


All Emma Daley wants this holiday season is a white Christmas. But the young teacher and struggling musician sure can't find that in sunny Arizona. Luckily, there's someone living in a perfect mountain home in the Colorado Rockies looking to make a vacation trade this year.

Tyler Prescott is an in-demand songwriter and talented musician who put his own singing career on hold to write songs for celebrity acts to perform. When his mother convinces him to do a vacation trade for Christmas, he never imagined one of the houseguests would be so sweet--or so strikingly pretty. Naturally, he decides to stick around, and, to get better acquainted, he poses as the house's caretaker. But when Emma's friend Gillian discovers his true identity and sets her sights on him, things
get . . . messy.

Fan favorite Melody Carlson is back with another delightful Christmas tale to warm your heart on those cold winter evenings.

Purchase from AMAZON


Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of over two hundred books with sales of more than seven million, including many bestselling Christmas novellas, young adult titles, and contemporary romances. She received a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her many books, including Finding Alice. She and her husband live in central Oregon. Learn more at www.melodycarlson.com.


Well, I was super excited to read this book - I'll never turn down a good Christmas story, and everyone can use a lil Christmas cheer and hope right now, I think. But this one...pretty much fell flat for me, honestly.  I hate to leave bad reviews, but most of the characters were kind of flat and for a Christmas romance, there wasn't much Christmas or romance in this one.  Most of the characters were Emma's frien Gillian's rich family, who were all snobbish and extremely selfish except for the sister's brother, Grant.  For a character as kind as Emma, it's hard to believe that she is still close friends with  Gillian, especially for fourteen years.  I can imagine that Gil's family's snootiness and Emma and the main male character/love interest, West/TW Prescott, were so comparably flawless in order to make them more loveable, but in this case, it just didn't work well.  Just made me eager to be done with the book. Most of the book was eaten up by Gillian's catty attempts to steal West from Emma, and the ending was completely rushed.  While the story had good bones and the opportunity for potential, I have to give this one 2.8 stars, rounded up to 3. Maybe it's someone's cup of tea, but it wasn't for me.  


Friday, September 18, 2020

 Hey everyone!  Today I have a review for Amanda Cox's The Edge of Belonging.  This is a debut novel that fans of contemporary Christian fiction will not want to miss.  It rapidly took a spot in my "top favorites for 2020" list, and I absolutely love it. 



When Ivy Rose returns to her hometown to oversee an estate sale, she soon discovers that her grandmother left behind more than trinkets and photo frames--she provided a path to the truth behind Ivy's adoption. Shocked, Ivy seeks clues to her past, but a key piece to the mystery is missing.

Twenty-four years earlier, Harvey James finds an abandoned newborn who gives him a sense of human connection for the first time in his life. His desire to care for the baby runs up against the stark fact that he is homeless. When he becomes entwined with two people seeking to help him find his way, Harvey knows he must keep the baby a secret or risk losing the only person he's ever loved.

In this dual-time story from debut novelist Amanda Cox, the truth--both the search for it and the desire to keep it from others--takes center stage as Ivy and Harvey grapple with love, loss, and letting go.


Before becoming a stay-at-home parent, she spent her time counseling children, families, and individuals through life's challenging moments. Now she uses those same skills to develop layered characters and stories, bringing them on a journey of hope and healing. A journey she hopes her readers experience in their own lives as they read.

A few of her favorite things are the sanctuary of the great outdoors, the feeling of pen on paper, the sound of her children's laughter, and exploring new places with her husband of 15 years. (Oh, let's not forget good fiction and good coffee. She's addicted to both.) You can stay connected with her latest writing updates at www.amandacoxwrites.com


I just want to say that, right from the start, I just wanted to hug these characters and wish them the best in their fictional lives.  When I wasn't reading this book, I was thinking about this book.  And when I wasn't thinking about this book, I was dreaming about this book.  (No, seriously.  Harvey and the crew crashed my dreams the other night.)  The characters are just so easy to love, and it's a fascinating story of belonging and finding one's place in the world.  While at times I was a bit frustrated by some of Harvey's choices, they were still within the realm of logicality, all things considered.  You get to know each character from dual perspectives - who they were in the mid-1990s, and who they had become present-day.  They're so easy to identify with, and Cox's prose is absolutely wonderful.  Very enjoyable to read.  This is one of the easiest 5-star ratings I've given out in awhile, and after the first chapter, I'd already decided on the rating, which absolutely never happens for me.  While some plot points were a little obvious to me, I still wanted to keep reading because I genuinely became attached to every single one of the characters  - Ivy Rose, Pearl, Harvey, Reese (oh goodness, he's adorable), pretty much the whole cast of characters (except that jerk Seth).  So for a debut novelist, I'd say this book is absolutely extraordinary.  I'm definitely adding her to my list of "insta-buy" authors.  

If you're looking for a good contemporary novel with solid themes surrounding what truly constitutes as a family, this one's for you.  

THE LADY OF LANARIA: Forming the Characters

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Coming up with the characters for The Lady of Lanaria was both one of the hardest and most interesting parts of writing the retelling -- especially for the male lead.  Once you've seen Eugene Fitzherbert in Tangled, there's no going back.

It was also an interesting endeavor because there are a lot of factors to consider: on one hand, you have a female lead, Evangeline (our Rapunzel / Lady of Shalott), who has never set foot outside and yearns for it...but as much as she'd love to go outside, she's been manipulated to be very wary of people.  On the other, you have a male lead, Gabriel (our prince/Eugene), who has grown up in a world full of despair and uncertainty.  He's not used to people who are as pure and innocent as Evangeline is, and likewise, Evangeline isn't used to someone who isn't manipulative and cruel.  You have two people who have suffered thanks to the world, but they've had totally different experiences.  Gabriel's tragic backstory includes becoming an orphan and a deep level of bitterness affiliated with the death of his family; Evangeline's tragic backstory is still unfolding.  She doesn't know who she is, except for a plain, unwanted, simpleton of a girl -- a burden, as her mother puts it.  And there's where the character arc lies: Gabriel must move forward from his past, and Evangeline must realize who she is in God's eyes, not in her mother's.  

Gabriel's this guy that tries to act all tough, but he's...not, really.  In his youth, he read fairytales to his sisters at night and he helped his childhood friend, Horace (who is an absolute joy, I love him so much), and he's never been much of one for following the rules.  As a guardsman, he is frustrated by the perpetual inability to find the witch who cursed the kingdom of Lanaria, and as such, he sometimes rails on about whether the kingdom is really cursed at all -- since the witch is so elusive, it's only a natural question to have, of course.  If you're going by the 'precious cinnamon roll' scale, he looks like he could kill you, but is actually a cinnamon roll.  Deep down inside. 
Just don't let him know I said that. 

Meanwhile, Evangeline is the type of girl who longs to explore, but allows her anxieties and the threats made by her mother hold her back.  She never questions her place in life until Gabriel enters onto the scene, and even then, she's heavily influenced by the negative thoughts her mother has instilled upon her from an early age.  She's torn between remaining loyal to her mother and fleeing for a better life.  She talks to animals (who don't talk back to her - I'm not that Disney), tends to her plants, and plays violin.  The violin is a callback to "The Lady of Shalott," in which villagers hear the Lady's singing and wonder if she's a ghost.  The violin becomes not only a hobby, but something that Evangeline tries to use to leave the tower behind at one point. 

Even throughout the characters and their journeys, I tried to instill the theme of "light versus dark" -- Evangeline has to continually choose which she will defend, which side she will pick in the end; and her knowledge is fueled by Gabriel, who has to prove that the "world" (er...tower) she was raised in is permeated by darkness.  And proving that to Evangeline is ultimately what shows him a few things about his own attitudes in life, a different "light vs. dark" struggle.  

There are other characters throughout the novel, of course; secondary characters that maybe even deserve their own retelling (I'm still looking at you, Horace), but that's all I have to reveal about Gabriel and Evangeline for now.  And as for the villain...well, I'll see you next week.  

REVELL Review: NINE by Rachelle Dekker!

 Hey everyone!  Today I have a review for Rachelle Dekker's new release, Nine.  This book is a Christian mystery/suspense novel that just released at the beginning of the month.  Thought-provoking is definitely one word I could use to describe it, but I'll let you get to the blurb and author information before giving my full review.  Read on!


Zoe Johnson spent most of her life living in the shadows, never drawing attention to herself, never investing in people or places. But when a wide-eyed, bedraggled teenager with no memory walks into the diner where Zoe works, everything changes. Now, against her better judgment, Zoe, who has been trying to outrun her own painful memories of the past, finds herself attempting to help a girl who doesn't seem to have any past at all. The girl knows only one thing: she must reach a woman in Corpus Christi, Texas, hundreds of miles away, before the government agents who are searching for her catch up to them.

Award-winning author Rachelle Dekker throws you into the middle of the action and keeps the pressure on in this page-turning story that, asks Are we who the world says we are--or can we change our story and be something more?

Purchase on AMAZON.


The oldest daughter of New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker, Rachelle Dekker was inspired early on to discover truth through the avenue of storytelling. She writes full time from her home in Nashville, where she lives with her husband, Daniel, and their diva cat Blair.

Connect with Rachelle online at her website (www.rachelledekker.com) or on any of these social media platforms:



By reading the blurb, I was expecting something completely different from the story that was delivered in Dekker's Nine.  Told in multiple narratives (third person and first person alternating, which is one of the first books I've ever read like that), it alternates between the perspective of Zoe, a waitress just trying to live a normal life, and Lucy, the person who throws a wrench in Zoe's plans.  The storyline is fresh and unique, and the themes of growing despite your past, and despite what other people had planned for you, were great and well-rounded.  While readers are scrambling to learn about the mystery girl that shows up at Zoe's diner one night, they're also busy trying to decode Zoe's past too, which is slowly revealed throughout the story.  Zoe and Lucy share many, many similarities given their past and involvement in scientific trials, but at the same time, they're radically different -- and that's what makes this story so compelling.  I must admit that the main male character in this novel was not my most favorite character in the universe, but he made some pretty interesting decisions by the end of the novel as well.  McCoy, on the other hand, deserved so much more and I still want to cry about him...if you read Nine, you'll see why.  Overall, while this book had its flaws, I still enjoyed it.  It's the kind of book that you have to sit and think about for awhile after the fact, and I'm starting to like it more the longer I think about it.  So if you're in the mood for a heavy fall read, this is it.

I must admit that I struggled back and forth between what star rating I wanted to give this one -- from an action-scene standpoint, I'd give it maybe 3 stars, but the story itself was so gripping that I thought about 5 stars...so we'll average it out as a 4.  

THE LADY OF LANARIA: Apothecaries and Healers and Ancient Medicine

Thursday, September 10, 2020

(Credit: Canva)

I will cry if I have to read one more incorrect blog post about medieval medical intervention.  I mean, their ideas about the human body were so off-the-wall to begin with, it's easy to be distracted by articles that appear completely logical, but end up being inaccurate to the time period.  
I've seen things, folks.  
(Well, I've read them, anyway.) 

For The Lady of Lanaria, I needed a time period in which Evangeline could thrive as a herbalist.  Rather than giving her supernatural capabilities -- i.e. magical healing power in her hair a la Tangled or magical teardrops a la Brothers Grimm -- I decided to let her power lie in her knowledge, which stems from the various books she consumes daily.  It was a talent much-needed at one point in time.  Way back when, nature was the only thing that could be used to heal the human body, but there was a very peculiar little speck in time between when this was actually realized, when it was used, and when modern medicine began to take the platform.  It was quite the bugger to pinpoint, too.

I was originally going to set The Lady of Lanaria in the early 1600s, but it seemed like a lot of the medical intervention in that period involved bloodletting, cold water, or more bloodletting.  I hopped forward to the 1800s, but their methods were too advanced for my idea.  Even the 1700s were a bit iffy, so I decided that if I had a fictitious low-fantasy land, I could have a fictitious time era, a blend of the 1600s and 1700s, where some healers are aware of the natural healing properties of plants and some don't...which is where Evangeline comes in.  

She has a lot of time on her hands, and spends it reading.  But she has also filled her entire tower with little pots of herbs and other healing plants like plantain, ginger, mint, and so on.  She's a bit of a green thumb, and uses her talent to help Amaranth, her mother, with a merchant's booth that Amaranth co-owns with another woman in the town square of Lanaria.  

Lanaria, by default, is a very small kingdom.  It's actually an island with an even smaller small offshoot called "Old Lanaria," and the two are connected by a natural bridge, a strip of land that disappears at night when the tide comes in.  It's a combination of the very real Mont St. Michel and the kingdom of Corona (the happy kind of Corona...*squints eyes at 2020*) from the movie Tangled, but with its own original setup -- the bridge that connects the two. 

It was honestly a blast working on worldbuilding for The Lady of Lanaria, outside of the medicinal research (and I have to give a huge thanks to a couple of my betas, who knew a thing or two about...spoilery medieval medicine stuff).  I have pages upon pages of written research of various herbs and plants native to France; even some from Norway, and one or two things borrowed from Germany, since Lanaria isn't real.  I have sheets dedicated to the five senses, even various wildlife, and so on, including what kind of materials were used for home-building, roofing, and even household items like plates and forks and cups and buckets.  It's just interesting, I don't know.  It's a lot of fun, and I hope you find The Lady of Lanaria to be an immersive experience, not only pertaining to the plot but the details as well. Someone please hold me back from pulling a Tolkien and writing entire pages about their surroundings.

Next week, I hope you'll join me for a discussion on the main characters and their motivations!  Then we'll be moving on to the main villain...I'll see you there. 

Have you been enjoying these posts about The Lady of Lanaria?  Anyone else enjoy worldbuilding?  What are some tips you'd recommend to other writers -- or what are some details you enjoy as a reader?


Have you been following along to stay updated with my progress on The Lady of Lanaria?  Are you looking for a clean fall read full of mysterious woods, daring plots, and just enough romance?  And do you love the idea of a "Rapunzel" x "The Lady of Shallot" mashup?

If you do, and if you have a few minutes to post a spoiler-free review on or around November 6th, here's your chance!  I'm opening up applications for ARC readers for The Lady of Lanaria!  Signups close October 1st so everyone has plenty of time to read before the release, so make sure to get your application in!  Please click HERE to sign up!  I will be sending out a batch of copies this weekend, God willing, so make sure to sign up soon.  

THE LADY OF LANARIA: Light Meets the Dark

Friday, September 4, 2020

The Lady of Lanaria, hands-down, has got to be the strangest novel I've worked on.  I don't mean that it's weird, but...the way it came together definitely was. 

I got the idea for a Rapunzel/"The Lady of Shallot" mashup back in the first semester of senior year of college (okay, so it wasn't that long ago) and even mentioned in a discussion board that "The Lady of Shallot" would be fun to mix with elements from the Grimm fairytale "Rapunzel" -- and...crickets.  Nobody really got it.  Months later, as I mentioned back  when I announced this project back in April (or May?), I was sparked to action by a friend who didn't know I was dealing with a major bout of "no inspiration."  Or writer's block; whatever you want to call it.  I loved this idea, but I didn't want to work on a Rapunzel retelling because I love the story of Rapunzel so much, I was afraid I would completely screw it up.  But I figured that if I was still thinking about this story, it deserved to see the light of day regardless.  At least to get it out of the way. 

But whenever I started working on the idea, I had no clue what kind of themes I wanted to incorporate.  I didn't just want to write a fun little story, I wanted to write something that was impactful; something meaningful.  It got tossed on the backburner again while I worked on the final books in the Mount Sterling and Faith, Hope, and Love books. 
Then, earlier this year, I woke up bolt upright in bed at ~1 A.M. with Tenth Avenue North's "Healing Begins" song, or namely, a couple of lines from it, running through my head. 

When you come to where you're broken within
the light meets the dark 
the light meets the dark

It wouldn't go away.  And then this quote was glommed into my head, which I mistook for a Bible verse: 
"Darkness rises, and light to meet it." (Snoke, Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi, 2017).  
Oops.  So, Star Wars is decidedly not the Bible, but it led me to dig until I found the verse that it reminded me of.  

"Unto the upright there arises light in the darkness; He is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous." (Psalm 112:4, NKJV).  
And then as I was reading my Bible that morning, I stumbled across John 1:5, "And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it." 

Boom.  There was the theme; the thing I needed to write about. 

(Apparently, God can use pop culture to grab your attention.)  

After that, it was easy to let everything fall into place.  Well, as easy as book-writing typically is.  An evil villain; a protagonist that overcomes evil with good.  And let me tell you -- when I say things fell into place, they did so eerily and I will not take credit for any of it.  

I wrote the whole first draft during Camp NaNo in April (which was a feat in and of itself for various reasons), but I didn't like the introduction.  When I was very close to scrapping the whole idea, I came across a friend of mine who was advertising developmental critiques for the first thirty pages of any manuscript. 
The first thirty pages were the ones giving me trouble. 

She gave me such great ideas that I got to work on it immediately.  I reworked the storyline and dropped it until July, when I essentially just revised and edited and then revised again.  And people enjoyed the icky second draft.  And every time I privately thought about putting it aside or scrapping it over whatever menial detail I'm obsessing over, someone would inexplicably message me out of the blue or ask for an update or mention how excited they were about the story.  My mother read the second-draft proof copy I got and said she enjoyed it...Second drafts are gross, guys.  Inevitably. 
So when I say that I got encouragement before I even mentioned needing it, I did.  

Even recently (this week), as I run into formatting issues and font woes, the solutions are just...right there, if I just take the time to look for them instead of going into 'panic, woe-is-me' mode.  I know this book and the messages within are meant for someone.  Needed by someone, even.  And I don't know how God's planning to use this book, and I know it might sound weird to say that He's going to, but I just...know it, and it's my testimony that I won't hide.  I know not everyone will like this book -- lots of Christians don't like light fantasy, and lots of secular fans won't like the Christian elements -- but The Lady of Lanaria has its own place in the world.  It hasn't been a ride in the park, but compared to the releases I've had before, I can see God's hand involved every step of the way, and I'm gonna keep it that way.  It's only fitting that the themes for this book revolve around light conquering darkness.    

CELEBRATE! Release day for THE CROWNLESS KING by Kara Linaburg!

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Hey everyone!  Today's release day for Kara Linaburg's new novel, The Crownless King!  I had the privilege of editing this book with Ms. Linaburg, way back in the spring, and I still think about it.  It's a novel that I immediately put on my "want to read" list, and I can't wait to read the final product - this time as a fan!  It's such a gripping novel, full of honest truth and thought-provoking moments, and any reader of fantasy is liable to enjoy this book.  I can remember getting chills reading a few scenes as I edited, because they were just so well-written.  The prose is fantastic, the details are crisp, and again, it's just a great novel.  It talks about worth and having hope and all the stuff that we need to remember in our own world right now.  Talk about a timely release. Anyway, keep reading for info and purchase links! 

The Crownless King by [Kara Linaburg]


She won't meet her worst enemy on the battlefield...

War is brewing and the kingdom of Sindaleer is torn as the Knights of Norcir draw the folk to their side. When Sabriel, a specially Gifted, pledges her blood to their cause, she is ready to give all to bring the peace her leader promises. She understands Tirich's deep hatred toward the king, and has prepared for this moment all her life.But when her identity as a knight is discovered by the childhood friend who betrayed her years ago, Sabriel's plans for justice come toppling down. Now distracted by what once was, Sabriel fights to hold onto what she's believed to be true for so long.
Nick never forgot the red-headed lass of years past, but she's not the friend he remembers. As enemies connected by their past take opposing sides on their country's freedom, Nick refuses to believe what she's become.
Voices warning Sabriel she'll never succeed, and loyalties torn, she begins to realize that all is not as it seems. Tirich's power is growing stronger, and she fears she was wrong about the good she once saw in him.

The concluding book following The Broken Prince, reminds us of the inner war we all face, and what it means to rise from the ashes when all hope feels lost.

"Kara is passionate, honest, and vulnerable, which in my opinion always makes a book worth reading. Her heart for broken people is evident, birthed from a heart that has felt pain itself." - Amanda Brown, editor of Oh Beloved One Magazine on Kara's writing.

If you order your copy during release week, you can get preorder goodies HERE!

Find The Broken Prince on AMAZON.


If you combined Lucy Ricardo, Jo March, and Tonks...you would have Kara. Queen of awkward, writer before she could properly spell, and maker of imaginary humans, she is passionate about creating characters that display beauty in brokenness.

Kara took to blogging as a teenager, words soon becoming one of her greatest passions. When she's not being a mad scientist in the kitchen or daydreaming about her next adventure, she loves to connect with readers. She lives in West Virginia where country roads always take her home.
You can feel free to stalk her blog www.thebeautifullybrokenblog.com where she rambles weekly.


Do you plan on picking up a copy of The Crownless King?  Have you read The Broken Prince yet?