Sheep Gate Publishing Magazine Feature!

Happy Friday, everyone!

I’m really grateful to be featured in Sheep Gate Publishing’s Digital Magazine! Each week, they feature clean, Christian fiction authors and their stories.

This week, they were kind enough to feature Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel, along with several other wonderful stories!

Please check out this week’s edition and grab a copy of Penelope Grace! The link to do so is right in the magazine 😊 And once you click it, explore the Etsy shop for some cute stocking stuffers 🎄

Hoping your weekend is full of good books,

Alexandria

Book Review: Harvesting Hope by Lisa Howeler

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.

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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:

Facebook

Instagram

Lisa’s Blog

Goodreads

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!

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Up Next…

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!

Currently Reading…

Water Falling by H.A. Pruitt (cue my to-do list gathering endless amounts of dust until I’m finished)

and

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!

The Best Fantasy Books to Reignite Your Sense of Wonder

I am so excited to be part of Shepherd, a fantastic website for readers that features authors, their books, and books they love!

I created a list of the best fantasy books to reignite your sense of wonder (after all, that’s what Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel is all about 😊)

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!

And while you’re there, check out Shepherd’s bookshelf of magical realism!

Thank you to everyone who has bought and reviewed Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel! I’m so grateful for each of you, and I’m praying that the story encourages you and anyone you share it with!

While you’re exploring the Etsy shop, check out the bookish treasures that would make for some lovely stocking stuffers 🎄

Keep an eye out this week for my review of Harvesting Hope by Lisa Howeler!

Alexandria

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A Winter Tale Told in Three Parts

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.

Join me?

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!

Until then, happy reading!

Alexandria

Do You Hear It?

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.

You can sign up here for the study of Don’t Give the Enemy a Seat at Your Table.

Have you read any books recently that have shifted your perspective and helped renew your mind?

Later this week, I’ll be sharing a little more about my launch team for Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel! Follow this link to join the fight for wonder.

Alexandria

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Putting Holes in the Darkness

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.

Whether you’re reading The Cottonwood Chronicles, Peregrine, or Astrid and the Marble Tower, Erica Richardson’s books are full of stunning and much-needed reminders that you never go unnoticed or unseen by God, no matter how small, insignificant, or different you might feel.

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.

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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 🙂

Alexandria

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Adventures in Junk Journaling!

For the past few months, I’ve been exploring the world of junk journaling, and it’s become one of my favorite creative projects! I thought it would be fun to share my progress 🙂

One of the things I love about junk journaling is the way it takes items that people might otherwise consider to be trash.

Things like torn paper, old cardboard, bits of twine or lace.

Things that people take one look at and think, “Unusable. Past the point of usefulness or worth.”

These broken things become part of a bigger piece of art, and suddenly, they’re striking and beautiful and inspiring.

The more time I’ve spent making this junk journal, the more I’ve realized how the process mirrors God’s careful fashioning of us.

He takes these broken pieces that make up our lives, unafraid of their sharper edges, and He remakes them into something radiant and new.

Suddenly, we’re beautiful. Suddenly, we’re part of a bigger, God-fashioned work of art, and we get to see how those pieces we thought were useless come together to make the artwork precisely what it was meant to be all along.

When I discovered this craft, I never anticipated the way God would use it to help me know Him better, but I am so grateful He did.

What’s something unexpected that God’s shown you lately?

I’m heading back to junk journaling and writing for now, but I’ll be back here on Friday to share a writing update and my review of Starganauts by C.E. Stone!

Alexandria

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The Narrow Road of the Writing Journey

This morning, I sat still and listened.

That probably doesn’t sound too stupendous, does it? For me, it was a major victory. Over the last few months, I have fallen into the habit of reaching for my phone first thing in the morning. I check my email, look at the news, scroll for a long time on social media, check my email again, and by the end of this cycle, I’m left feeling exhausted and depleted before I ever get out of bed.

But this unhealthy habit also had another, unexpected (except in hindsight) consequence. I’ve written before about my struggle with discontentment and comparison. Naturally, spending my time on social media first thing gave me a full dose of both of those things, but I didn’t really realize it. While I was scrolling, I wasn’t actively thinking discontent thoughts, but that exhaustion that I was feeling afterwards should have been my first clue that that’s exactly what was going on.

I would go on with my day, get my writing done, and then feel so stymied, so lacking in passion or enthusiasm. There were things to do, but the energy just wasn’t there to do them. Have you ever been in a space like this?

Slowly but surely, I was caught up in thoughts that were so defeating. Things weren’t happening in the way that I hoped and the things that were happening, weren’t playing out in the specific way I thought they would.

All of this discontent was stewing, until, eventually, it turned into doubt. I began questioning if I were really meant to write, to start a publishing company. I wondered if all of this was really going to work out, or if I hadn’t heard God right all this time.

This isn’t exactly unusual in the writing journey, though, is it?

It’s a narrow road we tread. Sometimes, that road feels like a winding, twisting one. It disappears into a dark valley where we can’t see the next step forward. We’re stumbling and nothing seems straightforward or clear.

Other times, the road feels like a small path up a mountain. It leads you along a cliff edge, but it’s exhilarating and exciting, and the view at the end makes the peril and uncertainty so worth it.

I feel like I just came out of the valley this morning.

I sat down with my coffee, my phone remained far from my hands, and I spent time listening to the voice of my Savior. He led me to Psalm 23, and He reassured my long-exhausted heart that He sees what I don’t. He sees how all of this works out, how all of this is possible. He reminded me that He created me to be a writer, and He did it for a reason.

And we need reminders like this all the time, don’t we? We need reminders that we’re not crazy. That we were hand-crafted for this narrow road, to travel it with Him, and trust Him with the outcome.

So, here’s your reminder, my fellow word-slinging friend. You were made for this writing journey. You were given words that matter, and no moment of doubt, negative review, or roadblock can take that away from you.

We’ll take the narrow road of the writing journey together and follow our Creator’s lead. The view at the end is going to be breathtaking, isn’t it? 🙂

Alexandria

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Mid-week Writing Update!

Hi all!

I thought I’d drop in to share a writing update this week. I’ve never really done these before, but I think it will be fun to share how my next book is coming along! While scrolling on Facebook (instead of writing), I came across an ad for a summer writing challenge called Pizza for Pages.

This immediately caught my eye because I absolutely loved the reading challenges that they hosted in elementary school, where you earned a pan pizza for reading a certain number of books. Those were good times!

This writing challenge is inspired by those summer reading programs, and while you don’t earn free pizza, you do earn pizza-themed goodies if you reach your weekly goal for 8 out of the 10 weeks of the challenge.

At first, I was a little skeptical because National Novel Writing Month left me burnt out on writing challenges. I found the goal of almost 2,000 words/day for 30 days straight to be really overwhelming, and it just sapped my creativity. I didn’t like feeling that I was writing only for the sake of the word count, rather than really being still with God and following His lead for the story. Long story short, NaNo just does not work for me personally.

But with Pizza for Pages, you set your own word count goal! Mine is 2,500 words per week, for a total of 25,000 words by the end of the 10 weeks.

The first week, life happened, and I wrote a little over 1,000 words. Even though I didn’t reach my goal, I did write something!

This week, the writing is going very well! I’m on track to reach my goal by the end of this week, and I’m just falling in love with this story. I started writing it when I was 11 years old, but the older I got, the more I believed that I wasn’t capable of writing it, so I set it aside for so many years.

I think that’s why God allowed me to write Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel and Chip and the Book of Rose Leaves first. Writing them gave me confidence that this is God’s calling on my life and reassurance that He gives me everything I need to carry out that calling.

Now, I can write Fidelia (not the full title) and just enjoy the process, rather than being filled with dread and doubt every time I pick up the pen.

Right now, I’m on chapter two, and I’m spending time with an elf named Elezar under the leaves of Lydaea Forest. The story really feels like it’s beginning to take shape, and I’m so excited to see that continue. I have lots of ideas for chapter two swirling around in my caffeine-deprived brain, and I feel like I can’t write fast enough 🙂

What about you? How are your writing projects going? I’d love to celebrate with you if it’s going great or offer encouragement if it’s not (we all have those days!).

Have a happy rest of the week!

Alexandria

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Character Names! Behind the Scenes of Chip and the Book of Rose Leaves

Have you ever wondered how authors come up with character names?

For me, it’s different for every story I write!

When I wrote Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel, many of the characters were based on family members (makes life easy, right?! 😅)

But when it came time for Chip’s tale, God had something different in mind.

I wrote this book in an illustrated journal, and as soon as I saw the owl pictured above, I heard the name, Abaline.

Although, it took me a few tries to decide on the spelling 😄

Alfeus’ name came to me spur of the moment, and, of course, Chip got his name from the charming young rabbit who used to sit outside my window.

Sometimes, there isn’t a certain way that character names come about. They just feel right.

And when God gives you that certainty, you learn not to question it 😊

How do you come up with character names? Do people you know inspire them or do the names just come as you’re writing?

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Next week, we’ll continue on our behind-the-scenes’ adventures for Chip’s story!

What would you love to know about the making of Chip?

I’ll also be sharing a review for H.A. Pruitt’s novel, Earth Quaking, a book that is very close to my heart.

Happy reading!

Alexandria