Happy Saturday, everyone! Is anyone else very grateful to have reached the weekend? This week was a good one, but pretty full, and I’m ready for a slower pace. This morning, that’s looked like sipping lemon green tea and reading my Charles Spurgeon devotional. I thought I’d share a few updates and random things with you (maybe this will become a weekly thing!)
This week, I finished the basic interior formatting for my children’s story, Chip and the Book of Rose Leaves, which is releasing on May 4th, and I sent all of the illustrations to my friend and fellow author, Erica Richardson, who designed the absolutely gorgeous cover and will be adding the illustrations to the interior for me!
One of the things I’m most excited about with Chip is that the illustrations can be colored as you read the story! It will be so fun to see everyone’s coloring creations 🙂 The cover reveal is coming soon, but I haven’t settled on an exact date. I can’t wait to share it with you, though; it couldn’t be more perfect!
I’ve also started writing the sequel to Chip. I wasn’t at all expecting to write it right now. Currently, I’m working on the first book in an epic Christian fantasy series, so as far as I was concerned, the sequels to Chip and Penelope Grace were on hold for the time being. God had different plans haha.
Even though it’s unexpected, I’m really grateful for God leading me to write Chip’s next adventure right now. As some of you know, Chip’s first adventure all begins because he wants to know if God hears his prayers or even cares about them at all. This next story is also about prayer, but in a different way. This time, Chip’s adventure begins when the answer to a prayer very close to his heart is, “No.”
My family and I have experienced several “Nos” and “Not yets” lately, in answer to our prayers, and I wasn’t prepared for how painful and hard it would be. I knew that this was the theme of Chip’s sequel months ago, but I didn’t know when God gave me the idea how much I would need this story for my own healing and faith. I’m only at the beginning, but I think this book will help me know God’s character better, and I hope the same will be true for you, too.
In the meantime, Chip’s first adventure will be available very soon, and it will be a joy to share that story with you 😊
Here’s a peek at one of the illustrations, featuring a persevering old owl named Nesbit. I’m thinking of adding the illustrations as printable coloring pages in my Etsy store! What do you think?!
Family History & Other Story Ideas
For a long time, I’ve been really interested in family history. Those of you who have been part of my writing journey so far will know the different family stories that became part of Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel. I have a few different stories in mind (some connected to Penelope Grace and some not) that I’m really passionate about writing, but I’ll need to do some digging into family history first.
One of the stories will involve my great-grandma, Mary McLean. She was born in England (in Manchester, we believe) and then married my great-grandpa, George Saris, who met her through a mutual friend after he left Greece and joined the Merchant Marine. Here are photos of the two of them (excuse the poor quality). This is the only photo we have of my great-grandma when she was young and it’s the only photo we have of my great-grandpa at all. I’m hoping to find more as I research.
Right now, I’m focusing on learning more about my great-grandma and her family. I believe her father’s name was Peter and that he was from Ireland. From stories, I know that he served in the army. My grandma told me that one of the family’s servants would cut up his old uniforms to make rag rugs. As far as my great-grandma’s mom, the only thing I know is that she worked as a hand model in England and that she died in a hotel fire. I don’t have much to go on, but I’m hoping to learn more, and I’ll share it with you here as I do! I’m excited to see how my story ideas take shape and change as I find out more about my family.
I’m on Ancestry, but if you know of any other good places to start researching, please let me know! And if you’ve done family research of your own, I’d love to hear about what you’ve learned about your family, if you’d like to share 🙂
Books & Tunes
What I’m reading:
Between Two Worlds by Cheyenne van Langevelde
& Morning by Morning by Charles Spurgeon
Favorite Song at the Moment: Sails – Live by Pat Barrett, Steffany Gretzinger, & Amanda Cook
That’s all I have to share for now! I’ll be back soon with more updates and writing adventures. In the meantime, feel welcome to share your own updates!
I wrote it after we lost him to Parkinson’s and Dementia, and my hope is that it encourages anyone who struggles to see any light or hope in winter and times of grief.
Last year, I also got my Etsy store for 21:25 Books up and running! This is where I sell my books and other bookish goodies. Before I get to my news, here is a quick peek at some of the items you can find there:
I’m so grateful for the blessings and opportunities that God gave me, and it’s been so cool to hear how Penelope Grace has encouraged people who have read it 💙
But now, God’s leading me (and you, my fellow readers) to some place new.
Much as I love Penelope’s world and the land of Ellura, it’s time to say good-bye (though just for now).
Flowers are already beginning to bloom in a forest called Everleaf, and a young and curious rabbit is eagerly waiting for us there…
My children’s story, Chip and the Book of Rose Leaves is releasing on May 4th!!
This was a story that I never expected to write, and I am so thrilled to be releasing it in paperback this spring, on the National Day of Prayer!
The story will have a little something special, though 😊 This is a springtime tale to color and will include many illustrations that I hope inspire you to break out your colored pencils and add color to!
I’ll be sharing much more in the days to come, but now, I also want to announce something that I’m only sharing on the blog right now.
For many years, I have had a Christian epic fantasy series planned. This will be a nine-book series, divided into three trilogies.
Today, I want to share a little sneek peak of what’s to come. The photos below give a teaser of the aesthetic of each trilogy!
For the first trilogy, I’ve shared the name of the trilogy & given a separate aesthetic for each book, which may or may not offer a clue or two about what’s in store 😉
For now, that’s all my news! I can’t wait to share the cover of Chip and the Book of Rose Leaves with you! Erica Richardson has already designed it, and I can’t get over how absolutely stunning it is 😍
Kindle, Tad, Ella, and Andrew are continuing their adventure through Anelthalien, but things have never felt more dangerous. Everything they believed to be true about the Makers and stopping the evil throne now seems uncertain, and doubt claws at them until they even begin to question the faithfulness of their friends. Nevertheless, they carry on, fleeing from danger beneath the earth and in a strange city, only to find that it’s closer than ever. The four heroes have much to overcome, but in the darkest times — if they’ll only listen — they will remember that they are not alone.
Water Falling is such a beautiful continuation of the Anelthalien series. One of the things that H.A. Pruitt excels at is weaving meaningful heroic journeys for each of the main characters. Kindle and Tad, especially, experience character development in this book that was amazing (and sometimes, entertaining) to witness, and I’m excited to see Ella and Andrew grow even more in future books.
This book deals heavily with the inner turmoil of each hero as they navigate the next stage of their quest. Discerning between truth and lies is a major theme, and Pruitt explores it in an imaginative way that I’ve never encountered in another story. The descriptions, especially in the beginning of the book, are stunning, and when the characters find themselves in a strange, underwater world, I found myself getting lost right along with them. Stories that immerse readers in the fictional world like that are the very best kind.
There is plenty of action and adventure to balance the characters’ emotional journey, though. The end of the story flies by, and it’s obvious how much higher the stakes are getting. I absolutely loved this story. I’ll never be able to say enough to recommend the Anelthalien series or express how much the themes of faith, doubt, heroism, and truth mean to me.
All that’s left to say is that if you ever wanted something different, or if you ever wanted to know the truth, Anelthalien is waiting.
Please note: There is a very brief scene where unwanted physical attention is directed towards one of the characters. It passes quickly and is not, in any way, graphic, but I wanted to mention it in case it would be triggering for anyone.
You can find a copy of Water Falling and the first two books in the Anelthalien series on Amazon.
Water Falling is also available in a hardcover, special edition (pictured above) that is absolutely gorgeous! It’s full of extra content like a behind-the-scenes look at H.A. Pruitt’s creative process and a chapter from book four! I’m so glad that I chose to get the hardcover. Getting to see the process behind the creation of the story makes it that much more special 💙
Next week, it’s time for a writing update! I’ll be sharing a sneak peek into my next book. This story has been a long time in coming, so I’m really overjoyed that it’s time to start sharing this new world with you!
“It is a plain and simple truth that one must endure the harshness of thorns in order to fully appreciate the beauty of a rose.”
With these words, readers are invited to journey through the wilderness of Artemaeus Barsoul’s heart and uncover what is hiding there. They will find Artemaeus standing in his inn, coldly surveying the building and the few people inside, and soon understand why he is known as “The Chill Wind.” Warmth left Artemaeus long ago, and bitterness took its place, leaving little room for kindness or generosity, let alone love.
But a strange voice that only Artemaeus can hear is calling out, telling him of second chances and three spirits who are soon to visit. Everything is about to change for Artemaeus Barsoul, if only he’ll let it. All that remains is for readers to turn to the first page and discover his choice for themselves.
The Innkeeper is a powerful story of redemption and making room for what – and Who – truly matters in our lives. Loosely inspired by Charles Dickens’, A Christmas Carol, Winter’s tale takes the basic elements of the classic story and infuses them with fresh heart and meaning.
As they travel alongside Artemaeus, readers will find some of the thorns encasing his heart familiar, and as a result, will celebrate all the more as each thorn is pruned and Artemaeus’ wilderness transforms into a spacious place with plenty of room for God and anyone else who is longing to know the joy of being welcomed in.
You can buy The Innkeeper on Amazon and connect with Keaton D. Winter on Instagram!
How can I put into words all that I loved about this story (and, to be perfectly honest, every book I’ve read by Lisa Howeler)? These stories always seem to find their way into my hands at the perfect time.
Sometimes, it’s that I’m going through the same thing as a character, like wrestling with guilt or shame. Other times, her books touch on something I’ve gone through in the past and the story and characters manage to shine new light and perspective on my experiences.
Lisa writes real, flawed, and beautiful characters. They are reflections of ourselves and of the people we know, and it’s a source of comfort and encouragement every time I get to spend a little time with them in Spencer Valley. This was a wonderful continuation of the story, and I’m really looking forward to reading book three and any other books to come.
You can find Harvesting Hope, as well as the other books in the Spencer Valley Chronicles, on Amazon.
If you’d like to connect with Lisa, head over to any of these places:
Speaking as a fellow author, it’s so fun and encouraging when we get to connect with the people who have enjoyed our books, so be sure to follow along on Lisa’s writing adventures!
And once you’ve read her books, please leave a review on Goodreads. It will make her day!
Next week, I’ll be sharing my review of The Innkeeper, a fantastic Christmas story (loosely inspired by A Christmas Carol) by Keaton D. Winter. This is a story that I’ll be re-reading year after year, and I’m really looking forward to sharing my review with you!
Speaking of Christmas, I think I might do a post about my favorite books to read at Christmas time!
Water Falling by H.A. Pruitt (cue my to-do list gathering endless amounts of dust until I’m finished)
Hunter by Joanna White (this one has been on my TBR for a long time, and I’m so excited to finally dive into it!)
What about you? What books have you read and loved lately? I’m always looking for recommendations, so please share in the comments!
It would mean so much to me if you would check out the list! Some of my very favorite books are featured and it was so fun to share more about why these stories are so important to me.
One thing I want to mention! There is a purchase link for Penelope Grace in the list. If you’d like to buy a copy, click the button that says Direct! The story is only available on Etsy, not on Amazon or Bookshop!
Hi everyone! It’s been a little while, but I’m excited to get back to the blog with a little tour of my Christian fantasy novel, Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel.
Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel is a winter tale told in three parts 🎄❄🕯
Part One: Christmas begins just as the holiday season is starting. I chose to start there for two reasons.
First, my mom loves Christmastime, and the story is inspired by her, after all, so I wanted to fill it with things she loves!
I also chose it because the holidays, which are meant to be so full of light and hope, often feel dark for those who are suffering loss and loneliness.
My family knows the joy and sadness that can come with this time of year, and I wanted to write a story that acknowledges both.
Whatever your holiday season looks like this year, I hope this story inspires and encourages you in the midst of it ❤
“Fighting for Me” by Riley Clemmons is one of the songs that inspired me while I was writing Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel, especially once I got to Part Two: Winter ❄
Winter is a dark time of year for most and it’s a season that many dread.
But I have seen God show up for me and my family on the darkest of winter nights, radiant in all His power and glory, and I wanted to write a story that celebrated His faithfulness in dark times.
Whether winter is a season you love or one you strive to get through, I hope that Penelope Grace’s adventures through the world of Ellura shed a little warmth and light for you 💙
Part Three: Apricity is so special to me. 🕯 When I was thinking of the three parts of the story, Christmas and Winter came instantly.
But I knew that God was leading me to something a little extra special for the final part of the story.
I Googled words related to winter and God brought me to an article featuring a word that is now obsolete (or was, until I wrote Penelope Grace!)
Apricity means, “the warmth of the sun in winter,” and I knew instantly that this was the title of Part Three. I remember being unable to believe that this word was obsolete. It’s so beautiful!
And when I think about the meaning of it – the warmth of the sun in winter – I think, “What a necessary thing!”
Isn’t the time of year that can feel so dark and hopeless the time when we need the warmth of the sun most? Isn’t that the time of year when we need powerful reminders of God’s radiance and faithfulness?
Isn’t that when we need to remember that the dark and cold, the grief and depression that can grip our hearts at this time of year, aren’t frightening to God at all?
This is why I wanted to bring this word, Apricity, into the story. I wanted this final part to be a fresh reminder for everyone who needs it that God is not overcome by darkness. He obliterates every shred of it and, as if that weren’t remarkable enough, He then gives us the eyes to see the radiance He brings to take darkness’s place.
More than anything, I pray that you get to see that radiance for yourself this winter.
If you’d like a copy of Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel, it’s available exclusively in my Etsy store!
You can get a regular copy, one that is signed, or bundle a signed copy with a handmade ornament!
You can also check out reviews of the story on Goodreads! Thank you to everyone who has reviewed the book so far! I’m really grateful.
Next week, I’ll be sharing my review of Harvesting Hope by Lisa Howeler!
I recently started the book, Don’t Give the Enemy a Seat at Your Table by Louie Giglio (by recently, I mean this morning!). I’ve been meaning to read this book for a while now, but have always managed to get distracted by other books on my list.
But FaithGateway is hosting a study of this book, starting in September, so now seemed like the perfect time to set distractions – literary or otherwise – aside and finally pick up this book. I’m so glad I did.
My thoughts have been the enemy’s playground for far too long. It’s so simple to let thoughts of shame, defeat, or temptation lead the way. My emotions become my biggest focus, and he’s having a field day before I know what’s happening.
Have you ever been there?
It seems like, just when things are looking up, he chooses to attack. I don’t think that’s on accident. A new edition of my first book is releasing at the end of this year, I’m working on my next story, and things are falling into place. Naturally, the enemy wants nothing more than to derail those good things. And, for the most part, I’ve been letting him.
Discouragement and comparison have gotten the best of me often and, when I’m beginning to feel at my most content, I will scroll past something that threatens to make that contentment topple.
This book, though – Don’t Give the Enemy a Seat at Your Table – has fallen into my hands at just the right time, and I’m guessing it might be just the right time for you, too. All those struggles and attacks I just mentioned? I know I’m not the only one experiencing them because I know that mine is not the only God-given purpose that the devil would love to destroy.
It feels overwhelming. Like this battle is an impossible one to fight, let alone win. But this quote from Louie Giglio’s book helped me to remember that it’s not actually up to us.
“My place at the table didn’t mean that my enemies would be removed from the equation. In fact, the table was set right in the midst of my enemies. That captivated my imagination and held my attention.
“I didn’t need to vindicate myself. I didn’t need to clear my name. I didn’t need to control this equation or work overtime to improve it. My task was to concentrate on the Good Shepherd, the One who owned the table.
“My invitation was to put my trust in the One who prompted me to lie down in green pastures, the One who led me beside quiet waters and restored my soul.”
Don’t Give the Enemy a Seat at Your Table, Louie Giglio
Our job is not to win the battle. Our job is to fix our eyes on the One who already has, the One who invites us to sit at a table laid with grace and compassion. We’ve already been given everything we need to live in all the fullness of peace and clarity that God has offered us. We’ve already been assured of victory.
Our hearts can become hardened into rock by all of the attacks, by all the discouragement, defeat, and despair that we get bombarded with.
But do you hear it? It’s the sound of stone breaking, of hearts beating fully and freely for the first time, of thoughts being reclaimed by the truth of what Jesus accomplished for us. And I believe God is using the message of this book and the promise of Psalm 23 to do it.
I recently read the most beautiful story about Robert Louis Stevenson.
One night, when Robert Louis Stevenson was a small boy, his nanny called him to come to bed. Oblivious to her summons, he was staring at something outside his nursery window. The nanny walked over, stood at his shoulder, and inquired patiently, “Robert, what are you looking at?”
The little boy, without taking his eyes away from the window, exclaimed in wonder as he pointed to the lamplighter who was lighting the streetlamps, “Look, Nanny! That man is putting holes in the darkness!”
You and I may not be able to change the world, but surely each of us can put a hole in the darkness!
The Joy of My Heart, Anne Graham Lotz
As soon as I read this story, I started thinking back on all of the remarkable books I’ve read over the last few years by my fellow authors and how much their stories matter.
In Anelthalien and Earth Quaking, H.A. Pruitt invites us into a world that is altogether different, where the characters reflect our own struggles and strengths and unexpectedly remind us that no part of our story can erase the purpose that God has uniquely prepared for us.
Lisa Howeler’s books, like A New Beginning or The Farmer’s Daughter, remind us that grace is real and that the insecurities we feel and the mistakes we make don’t disqualify us from receiving it.
M.H. Elrich’s Daughters of Tamnarae series reassures us that our worth is set in stone and showcases the delight God takes in weaving us into His grand story of love and redemption.
The first book in the Hope on the High Seas series, Free by Careena Campbell, reminds each reader who picks it up that pure faith, though it might be scoffed at, is true strength, and that the more we walk in step with God, the more fully we’ll get to know Him and the hope He offers.
Effie Joe Stock’s books, like Child of the Dragon Prophecy or Aphotic Love, confront the most intense emotions with a courage and boldness that can’t help but inspire her readers. Each page is a reminder that, just like her characters, you are brave enough to experience anger, grief, and pain without being defeated by them.
In Starganauts, C.E. Stone takes readers on a journey through the most crushing grief and uncertainty and displays God’s faithfulness in the midst of it. The whole story is a beautiful reminder that hope is possible even in the most intense battle and that victory and joy are waiting on the other side of it.
There are so many more authors and stories that have inspired me than I have room to share in one post, but I am so grateful for the chance to experience each and every one of these stories.
With every word you type, you are all putting holes in the darkness, reminding us how fragile the night really is when it comes up against God’s radiance.
You can check out all of these wonderful stories at the links above! If you have any book recommendations, share them below. I’m always looking for an excuse to add another bookshelf to my library 🙂