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An Interview With D.M. Sonntag

I’m excited to welcome D.M. Sonntag, author of The Lightning Bride, to my blog today! She shares news of her upcoming book release, what encourages her amidst the challenges of being an indie author, and what she believes sets her book apart from other YA fantasy!

Read on below and check out my full review of The Lightning Bride here!

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The Lightning Bride includes both mythical creatures and characters with magical powers. What inspired you to include those elements in the story?

I’ve always been fascinated with magical powers and constantly think on all the various ways someone could manipulate an element, like fire. I wanted to give the main character of The Lightning Bride, Maylie, something more than just one elemental component, so I made her an energy mage and explored the boundaries and usages of that magical power.

While I enjoyed the Little Mermaid as a child, I didn’t really get into those mythical creatures until Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stanger Tides. The movie introduced the concept that mermaids could walk on land once they dry, and be somewhat malevolent. I was fascinated and wanted to do something more on that. I wondered how they reproduce and got the inspiration from vampires that these somewhat malevolent fanged mermaids bit women to make more mermaids.

What’s your favorite thing about the YA fantasy genre?

I love the escape into another world with fantasy in general, and when it’s YA the main characters are typically teenagers thrust into life changing situations. It’s empowering to read about young characters who overcome trials and accomplish their goals when the world said they couldn’t due to being “just kids.” It was challenging enough when I was a young adult in the real world, so I loved reading stories about characters just like me in fantasy worlds where I could escape my reality and gain inspiration from their triumphs. If they could ride dragons or slay monsters, I could pass that physics test.

YA fantasy is an incredibly popular genre and there are a lot of books to choose from. What do you think sets The Lightning Bride apart from other YA fantasy novels?

I have yet to read a popular YA fantasy book centering on pirates! I could be very wrong and they are out there, but normally if I pick up a YA fantasy book, it’s either about faeries or vampires the majority of the time. Neither of those creatures are in my Kingdom Isles novels, because I wanted to write something that isn’t overdone and sets it apart from other YA novels.

Pursuing indie publishing presents unique challenges. What has encouraged you through those challenges? What are some ways that you encourage/support other authors?

Finding a community has definitely encouraged me. I could not have accomplished everything that I have alone, and it’s strengthening to know that there are others struggling with the same things that I struggle with, because we can help each other and hold each other accountable. Some ways that I encourage and support other authors is reading their books and promoting their works. As an indie author myself, I know how important reviews are, not only to help the authors become seen but provide feedback on how to improve their writing. I also try to market books that I’ve read and loved as equal if not more than my own book, especially in my day job or to my family and friends.

Are there any fellow indie authors you’d like to give a shout-out to?

Absolutely! I would not be where I am today without Genevieve Crownson, author of The Argos Dynasty trilogy and Cage of Glass. She convinced me to self-publish and gave me the tools and resources to get my foot in the door.

Matthew Romeo has become one of my good friends in the writer community on Instagram, and we’ve learned we’re very similar in our writing styles and elements that we enjoy to read. He just completed his sci-fi fantasy trilogy, The Maven Knight!

Luke Courtney is also another fellow, whose fantasy worldbuilding is absolutely incredible and I call the new indie Tolkien. He is always super supportive of my writing and we’ve bonded over our shared love for the Witcher series.

A. M. McPherson is about to release her debut novel, The Guardian’s Daughter, in September! We met through beta reading of my prequel novella, The Mermaid’s Shadow, and became immediate friends (similar to that scene in Stepbrothers) by finding out the fandoms we’re both into.

What can you tell us about upcoming projects or releases?

The Lightning Bride is just the first of many! The Mermaid’s Shadow is already out, and it is a prequel novella following the mother of my main character in TLB. The Golden Wolf will be Book Two in the Kingdom Isles series which I hope to release in August, and there will be a third and final book in this series. I also have two more prequel novellas planned, though am unsure if one is getting released before or after Book Three.

After the Kingdom Isles, I have so many projects! My most immediate is a YA trilogy about werewolves and vampires in a small-town theater, then after that a generational seven book steampunk series.

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Thank you so much for joining me for this interview!

You can connect with D.M. Sonntag on Instagram and her website!

The Lightning Bride is available on Amazon!

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Next week, I’m looking forward to featuring my review of Etania’s Worth by M.H. Elrich and an interview with the author!

Until then,

Alexandria

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An Interview With C.D. Hulen

I’m so excited to share my interview with C.D. Hulen as we continue to celebrate the recent release of his sci-fi novel, Abort!

Read on to learn more about the inspiration for Abort, C.D. Hulen’s advice for fellow indie authors, and his thoughts on how to include a powerful, faith-based message in novels!

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I really enjoyed reading your novel! What inspired the story of Abort?

Thanks so much! Honestly, I’m not entirely sure what inspired me, outside of God of course (as all things work according to His will). This particular story concept came to me almost fully formed, which wasn’t super common for me. I thought it would make a good book, so I wrote down the idea and then promptly forgot about it for about 6 months. But obviously, I found it again, and here we are. 

One common pro-life argument that is used to confront abortion is that of comparing unborn children to people in a coma who are going to wake up (both are dependent on others, neither are highly responsive, and both are in their respective states for a limited amount of time, i.e., the person in a coma will wake up and the child will be born). This particular argument was definitely an inspiration. After the initial stages of writing, I drew inspiration from other sources, such as my Christian faith, my Dad’s suggestions, Ray Comfort’s videos on abortion, and Paul Washer’s articulation of the gospel, in order to add more depth to the story.

Throughout the story, Mason wrestles with divided loyalties and the distinction between right and wrong. Was he a difficult character to write? What do you think makes characters like him so compelling?

Definitely one of the most difficult things about writing Mason was keeping the reader from being completely disgusted by him. What he’s trying to do is terrible, and readers generally don’t want to root for that, so it was a struggle to balance the sympathetic aspects of his character without excusing his actions. I think his relatability and understandability help make him compelling. Although the reader hopefully won’t agree with his mission, they can understand why he’s doing it, and can relate to the many trials he faces on the HS10.

Christian sci-fi isn’t a genre that I, personally, hear much about, and it was exciting to read your novel! What about sci-fi do you believe uniquely positions the genre to share a faith-based message?

There’s definitely not much Christian sci-fi in mainstream media—none in film that I’ve seen, and not a ton in literature. But anyway, I think science fiction can be uniquely poised to tackle current issues as well as delve into compelling allegories. The concept of Abort was perfectly setup for a science fiction setting—I didn’t even consider another genre! I also believe that with science fiction you have something that Fantasy can struggle with—a real presentation of the gospel. This can be done in contemporary and historical fiction for sure, but fantasy generally relies heavily on gospel allegories if it wants to approach the Christian theme (Jesus). Science fiction has the privilege of dealing with the real thing.

What are some of the obstacles you’ve faced as a self-published author and what enabled you to overcome them? Do you have any encouragement to offer fellow writers who want  to follow that same route?

I think the battle against anonymity has been the hardest. I can learn how to write good prose, design a book cover, and develop compelling characters, but as an author who started with zero platform, it’s been challenging. I think what’s to be learned is that it’s all up to God. If He wants the book to go far, it will. If not, it won’t. I have to hold my dreams loosely, trust His plan, and be faithful. If the marketing of this book has taught me anything it’s that God is in control.

A note of practical advice for writers: keep writing, keep getting feedback, and write again. It’s a long slog sometimes, but the more you do it, the better you get. And if you’re a Christian who is writing fiction, don’t tack your faith onto it. What I mean is that the gospel isn’t an afterthought, so if you’re a Christian and writing a story, don’t force the gospel into it, allow it to permeate the entire thing. Don’t sprinkle the gospel onto your story, soak your story in the gospel. All or nothing. Don’t be afraid to be preachy but tell a good story, make it real, and give it over to God.

Can you share any details with readers about your current or upcoming projects?

Well, I don’t want to share too much, but I’ve always got story ideas in my head. People who’ve followed me for a while know that I’ve wanted to write a musical, as well as refurbish and finish my historical fantasy trilogy. I also have some more Christian sci-fi stories brewing which address the current issues of the woke church and Christless conservatism. All that to say, I’m not sure what I’ll do yet, but whatever it is, I want God to be glorified.

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Thank you so much to C.D. Hulen for joining me for this interview!

You can connect with him on his website, Instagram, and Goodreads to stay up-to-date on his writing journey!

Abort is available on Amazon.

Alexandria

What Makes It Hard To Believe?

What makes it hard for you to believe that God hears and cares about your prayers?

For me, it’s the waiting. It’s so hard, isn’t it?

Like the impatient anticipation of waiting for a flower to bloom, waiting for a prayer to be answered or a longing to be satisfied is so difficult.

It can feel long and painful and desperate.

Hopeless.

As if God is silent or indifferent to our prayers.

But I don’t believe He is.

Still, we wrestle and we wonder.

Much like a young rabbit named Chip, who’s desperate to know if his cries are heard.

Who isn’t satisfied to sit still and just wonder.

Who’s willing to brave the most dangerous and thrilling of adventures to find out what he’s most desperate to know:

Does God hear our prayers? Do they even really matter to Him at all?

Wouldn’t you like to know the answer, too?

Follow the link in my bio to join Chip on a marvelous adventure through the land of Almea and find the answer for yourself…

The Kickstarter project for Chip and the Book of Rose Leaves is 47% funded!! Hurray! 

There are just 14 days left to reach my goal, and I would so appreciate your support!

If 25 people gave $50, we could reach the goal and bring Chip’s adventure to readers together!

Will you help me?

Thank you so much to everyone who has supported and encouraged me! I’m thankful for each one of you!

Waiting for the adventure to begin,

Alexandria

Featured

Author Interview With Marysol Ramos

Today, I get to introduce you to Marysol Ramos Moreira, the author of The Open Letter! Read on to learn more about her writing journey, upcoming projects, and what inspired her to write such a unique story.

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Every writer’s story is different. Tell us a little bit about your writing journey and how you got started!

When I was around 13 years old, I had a desire to write this story. I grew up with a weak mentality and pushed the dream away as I believed I was not smart or creative enough to write a book. When I was 27 years old, I began a journey to start believing in myself and revisited my dream of becoming an Author for this specific fiction story. As a single mother, I worked full time during the day and stayed up till past midnight working on the story at least 3 nights out of the week. 4 years later and here I am enjoying this interview for The Open Letter.


What inspired the really unique premise of The Open Letter?

Ever since I was in my early teens, I observed people and question why they were the way they were. I noticed that each of us live in our own little worlds based off different parenting styles, siblings, cultures, heritage, and so forth; yet we judge each other based off the same standards as our owns. Such as, “we both” had the opportunity to go to high school, but only one of us got to go home to loving parents who were not verbally abusive. Yet teachers expected the same energy, mindset, and effort from both students. (This just being an example.) Explaining this to others was usually like talking to a wall. So, this fiction story, The Open Letter, was actually written in hopes of people reading it and receiving a clear definition as to why we should simply love others without giving ourselves reason as to why they don’t deserve our love and kindness.

I love the way you included the characters’ prayers into the story. Why do you think it was so important to share those moments between them and God?

Beautiful question! I think it was especially important to share the prayers and what I strongly believe would have been God’s response because it shows how much in-common we all actually have. Many people have responded saying they relate to a prayer or 2 out of the story though the circumstances turned out to be different. It’s also difficult to hear God responding back in the mist of darkness and therefore I tried to highlight the importance and difference of taking the time to breathe and hear God in return.

What are some of the stories (or authors) that have inspired you?

I have one specific book by William P. Young titled The Shack – that inspired me from my teens till this very day. It’s a beautiful story clearly written to help others understand forgiveness and God’s love. I highly suggest reading the book and then watching the movie. It’s actually a book and a movie that compliment each other.

What are you currently working on? Can readers expect a sequel to The Open Letter?

As of right now, I am not working on a sequel. I am still a full-time working single mother and have jumped from project to project. I am working on children’s books (as I work as a therapist for kids with autism) to help understand anxiety and other mental disabilities. I do have hopes of working on other fiction stories for adults that relate to The Open Letter. All in due time. I’m definitely looking forward to continuing my life as a writer.

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Thank you so much, Marysol, for joining me on the blog this week! It was a joy to learn more about your writing journey and your heart for seeing others through God’s eyes.

You can connect with Marysol on Instagram and buy The Open Letter on Amazon! Be sure to share your review once you’ve read it! It’s the best way to support indie authors 🙂

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Tomorrow, it’s time for the cover reveal of Effie Joe Stock’s debut novel, Child of the Dragon Prophecy, and I’ll be sharing my review of the novel!

What have you been reading lately? I’d love to know your recommendations!

Alexandria

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An Interview With Stephanie Daniels

Welcome to our newest author interview!

This week, I have the pleasure of featuring YA historical fiction author Stephanie Daniels! She shares more about her current work-in-progress, The Uncertainty of Fire (excerpt coming this Thursday!), her passion for the historical, and advice for aspiring authors!

Read on and follow along on Stephanie’s writing journey below!

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Tell us about your current work in progress!

 First of all, thank you so much for inviting me to your blog.  I’m so happy we’ve been able to connect over on Instagram and I’m really looking forward to reading your work. My current finished manuscript is entitled The Uncertainty of Fire.  It is the first book in my planned trilogy called The Uncertain Riches series. It’s a Christian YA historical (with romance) that takes place during the Great Chicago Fire.  My main character, Whimsy Greathart, has lived a privileged life. But her heart is tender toward those who have not had her advantages. Throughout the book she learns to deal with the choices she makes. Sometimes those choices are in good faith, even with good will, but because she makes them in her own strength and her own wisdom, God teaches her some things. And sometimes those lessons stem from heartbreaking circumstances.

What do you think makes YA fiction such an important and necessary genre?

Young people are bombarded with far more challenges than I ever had as a teen and college-aged adult.  And I feel like I saw and dealt with a lot.  But in all areas of the arts, it is becoming more difficult for young people to find characters that believe as they do.  And that can be a lonely place. I think the popularity and rise of faith-based films and television programs is evidence that young people want those mirrors–characters who face the same decisions and trials they do.  But I think we may be failing them in our books.  Parents and young people are reaching back to the classics because of the faith and morals those books embodied. Those same things are lacking in today’s books. We have plenty of faith-based books that are clean and may have some element of faith. But I’d like to see more. More characters committed to their faith. I believe readers want to reach forward and find those faith and moral elements in today’s books.  Even though my story takes place in a historical setting, the themes of forgiveness, not trusting our own heart, trying to understand God’s plan, are still timeless themes.

You’ve spoken on social media about your love for the antique and the historic. What sparked your interest and how did both become part of your writing?

I’m not sure when my love for history and antiques really began.  I didn’t even like history much in school–until I went to college and had some professors who made Bible history come alive for me.  I was fortunate to live in places where history was all around me.  Washington D.C., Italy, Hawaii (not far from Pearl Harbor), Fairfax County, Virginia. I remember as a child exploring the replica ships at Fort McHenry, visiting Pompeii and Rome, and touring Mount Vernon so many times I could probably have been a guide. My parents thought it was important for us to see these places even though most of the time I never made the historical connection of what occurred in those places. And then I loved books.  Since we moved around a lot, I think my fictional friends sometimes became a comfort to me. I’m not complaining about the fact that I was able to live in so many amazing places, but I was shy, and making friends every time we moved could be a challenge. Maybe I began to like old things because of the roots they represented.  My roots have always been family-based, not place-based. Even now, when people ask me where I’m from, I always struggle to form an answer. I’m from a lot of places.  And they’ve all made me who I am. 

Do you have any advice and/or encouragement for aspiring authors who are daunted by the publishing process, whether they go traditional or indie? What keeps you going when faced with discouragement?

As someone who is still deciding between the two, make sure you pray a lot.  And surround yourself with writing friends at all stages of the journey.  You need your unpublished friends who understand where you are because they are going through it too. If you have the chance to find a mentor, someone who has published and can weigh in on the wisdom they’ve gained, take advantage of that.  I feel like I really started viewing myself as a writer when I joined the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers). If there is a professional local group you can join (Word Weavers is another good organization), do it as soon as you can. Veteran writers have a lot to offer. And if you’re willing to learn from them, it will help grow your craft exponentially. But always remember that this gift God has given is uniquely yours.  Don’t fret about an idea that’s already been done. Solomon tells us in Ecclesiastes that there is nothing new under the sun.  So that brilliant idea you came up with has been done before. But it has not been said the way you can uniquely say it.  Because there is only one person in this whole world that has your exact unique viewpoint. Discouragement and feeling like giving up, bad reviews, unfavorable feedback are all the hard parts of this journey. But if you can remember why you felt God led you to your story, it can help buoy you through those disappointments and keep you committed to the task He has set before you.

Do you have any books by indie authors that you’d love to recommend?

I wish I could say I had a long list, but because I’d always planned to traditionally publish, I have usually read traditionally published books.  But I have been reading more indie authors lately and have made some wonderful friends in the indie author community.  I’ll concentrate on YA authors in the Christian market, since that’s the genre I write.  Amanda Tero is an indie author who has written in many genres but concentrates on Christian historicals for YA. If you would enjoy fairy-tale retellings without romance, you will want to check out her Tales of Faith series. And her latest novella, A Strand of Hope, a Depression-era historical, released last summer. I’m privileged to be on two launch teams for two indie YA authors. Careena Campbell has just written a 17th century Christian YA historical entitled Free. I’ll be reading it in the coming week. Another author I’ve come to know is H.A. Pruitt who has written a Christian YA fantasy entitled Anathalien. Her sequel to the series is called Earth Quaking and will be coming out in the next few months. I’m looking forward to forming friendships with more indie authors and reading their books. And it may just be that God is leading me to publish indie too. We shall see.

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Thank you so much, Stephanie, for doing this interview!

You can follow Stephanie on Instagram and on her blog!

And don’t miss the excerpt from her upcoming novel, The Uncertainty of Fire, coming this Thursday!

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May your week be full of good books!

Alexandria

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Anelthalien by H.A. Pruitt: A Book Review

Last year, I had the pleasure of exploring the world of Anelthalien for the very first time.

Now, I’m so excited to help my friend and fellow author, H.A. Pruitt, celebrate the release of book two, Earth Quaking!

We’re only a few short months away from the book’s release (it can’t get here soon enough!), so to tide us over until then, I’m sharing my review of this wonderful fantasy novel again!

Read on and grab a copy for yourself. This is a world you’ll want to return to again and again.

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“To be a hero, Tad, you must be a shield for others; you must be the very thing that stands between a people and death and stabs back that death. Sacrifice makes a hero.”

Kindle never asked to be a hero. But when an unlikely discovery sweeps her away to an unfamiliar land called Anelthalien, she finds that is exactly what is being asked of her.

She and three other young adults – Tad, Ella, and Andrew – form an unlikely group as they travel throughout the land, trying to understand why the fate of Anelthalien is resting on their shoulders.

In their travels, they are taken in by a mysterious farmer, Azildor, who remembers much that others have long forgotten. He passes on his wisdom to the four heroes-in-the-making, believing as he does that, when the time comes, they will be willing to sacrifice what they must to keep Anelthalien safe from the dark powers seeking to overthrow it.

But whether or not they will embrace their identities as heroes remains to be seen, and all the while, Anelthalien’s fate hangs in the balance…

H.A. Pruitt has succeeded in creating an altogether unique world that readers will want to return to and explore again and again. Full of rich characters, adventures galore, and stunning illustrations, this is one of those truly important books that remind you of this: no matter your past, no matter your circumstances, you have a God-given purpose.

Perhaps, you’ll uncover what it is in the pages of Anelthalien.

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Words are insufficient to express how dearly I love this story and how much it will always mean to me.

You can follow H.A. Pruitt’s writing (and guinea pig) adventures on Instagram and on her website.

Anelthalien is available on Bookshop, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other retail sites!

This Thursday, I’ll be sharing an excerpt of Anelthalien, and you won’t want to miss it 😊

Happy reading!

Alexandria