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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

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How Does A Story Grow? Behind the Scenes of Chip and the Book of Rose Leaves

Welcome to the next behind-the-scenes peek at the making of Chip and the Book of Rose Leaves!

Let’s pick up the adventure where we left off, shall we?

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Once I started jotting down story notes and ideas, I knew a very different story from the one I’d first imagined was taking shape.

Chip’s friends – Riley and Sara – disappeared as God helped me see that this was an adventure that Chip had to set out on alone (at least, at the start 😉)

But what was the point of the adventure?

I still didn’t know, until I read a beautiful devotion early one morning.

Prayers are instantly noticed in Heaven…. Oftentimes a poor broken-hearted one bends his knee, but can only utter his wailing in the language of sighs and tears…. He may only look up with misty eye; but ‘prayer is the falling of a tear.’ Tears are the diamonds of heaven…”

Charles Spurgeon

Oh, when I read that, I knew God was telling me something. But He wasn’t finished speaking just yet…

Our God not only hears prayer but also loves to hear it… wherever there is a heart big with sorrow, or a lip quivering with agony… He marks it down in the registry of His memory; He puts our prayers, like rose leaves, between the pages of His book of remembrance, and when the volume is opened at last, there shall be a precious fragrance springing up therefrom.”

Charles Spurgeon

I was captivated. I now knew what the title of this unexpected story was meant to be, and, while I didn’t know what would happen to Chip along the way, I began to understand where the adventure was leading him.

God is spectacular, isn’t He?

He knew the shape and breadth of this story, and He patiently led me, revealing bits and pieces of it at the perfect times.

This is part of what I love most about being a writer. At the end of the day, I’m not the one creating these stories. God is the Author. He knows every word of these tales, and He’s given me the privilege of being the first reader, the one who gets to put pen to paper as the Creator of the universe takes the time to tell me a story.

I’m so thankful for this indescribable gift.

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Next week, we’ll explore the unexpected way God gave me character names and how the heart of this story kept taking shape!

If there’s anything you’d like to know about the making of Chip and the Book of Rose Leaves, please share in the comments!

And don’t forget to add Chip on Goodreads and please leave a review once you’ve finished reading!

Until next week, happy reading!

Alexandria

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Behind the Scenes: Chip and the Book of Rose Leaves

Hello, fellow book lovers and writers! Welcome to the first behind-the-scenes look at Chip and the Book of Rose Leaves!

Every Saturday, I’ll be sharing more about my journey of writing Chip, creating the artwork, and binding the manuscript edition!

Let’s turn the first page of this woodland journal and let the adventure begin!

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It all started on a chilly March morning, a little over a year ago. I had just sat down at my desk when a little rabbit nestled down in the grass outside my window.

That’s certainly not an unusual sight at my house, but this rabbit was different.

Set apart from the rest.

He had a big chip in his left ear, and I immediately suspected that this rabbit, in particular, had seen his fair share of adventure.

I would see him from time to time, chasing after other bunnies, snoozing in the afternoon sun, and taking his pick of our flowers (we planted them for his benefit, right?!) 🌸🌷

I felt a story beginning, but I had no clue where God was leading yet.

I picked out what felt like the perfect journal to use for a story about a rabbit and his forest friends and began to scribble notes.

My first thought was that this would be a simple story about 3 bunnies: Chip, Riley, and Sara. It would chronicle their adventures, their mishaps and mischief.

And I suppose that would have been an entertaining and sweet tale, but it was not the one that God was calling me to write, and it would have been a shame to miss out on the adventure Chip did, in fact, have.

Little did I know that over the next few weeks I would come across a beautiful devotion written by Charles Spurgeon, and God would use it to change everything…

But that’s a story for next week 😉

Join me here next Saturday for more about this altogether unexpected story that God gave to me and all the wonderful things that resulted from it.

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If you’ve received your copy of Chip and the Book of Rose Leaves, please share with me! Tag me (@2125Books) with #bookofroseleaves 📖🌹

I’m so excited to see the book in readers’ hands and everyone’s coloring creations!

And once you’ve finished the story, will you please consider leaving a review on Goodreads? Reviews help authors so much and don’t have to be anything fancy. A simple 5 star rating and an, “I loved this book” is perfect!

Thank you so much!

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

Giveaway: Chip and the Book of Rose Leaves

🌹 GIVEAWAY! 🌹

I’m so excited to announce the second giveaway for my new book, Chip and the Book of Rose Leaves!

One person will receive an art print of this exclusive illustration that will not be found anywhere else!

This is from one of my favorite scenes in the story, and I hope it comes to mean as much to you as it does to me ❤

How To Enter:

🌹 Pledge to the Kickstarter!

That’s all there is to it! Everyone who has already pledged is entered and good to go!

The Details:

This giveaway is not affiliated with WordPress or Kickstarter. Void where prohibited. U.S. only

Thank you so much to everyone who has helped me so far! I’m so grateful, and I’m expectant for all that’s to come for Chip’s story and those who go on the journey with him!

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

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A Colorist’s Delight!

Calling Colorists of All Ages!

Did you know that Chip’s adventure isn’t really complete until you bring it to life with colors?

I’ve drawn the illustrations, but now it’s your turn, friends!

Whether you’re coloring crazy or picking up a glitter gel pen for the very first time, an adventure is beginning, and it all starts with you!

Head to the Kickstarter to join Chip as he travels through the land of Almea, searching for a great treasure and the answer to his prayers!

And an enormous thank you to my sweet mom, Penelope Grace, fellow author Erica Richardson and her sweet kiddos, and fellow author Niki Florica for bringing my illustrations into such brilliant color!

I’m so thankful for all of you! ❤

What Do You Treasure?

What do you treasure?

This old perfume bottle that belonged to my grandma, Mary, is something that my family carefully protects.

Not because the bottle is expensive, but because the woman who wore the perfume and the memories we have of her will always be dear to us.

We treasure it because we love her.

Have you ever wondered what God treasures?

Have you ever dared to believe that, perhaps, He treasures each of our tears like priceless perfume?

That He carefully preserves each one of our prayers, lovingly keeping track of every single one?

I know a young rabbit, daring and adventurous enough to wonder and to follow an unfamiliar path to find the answer.

Will you follow him?

The Kickstarter for my illustrated children’s book (with pictures to color!), Chip and the Book of Rose Leaves, has just 24 days left.

I’m longing to share this story with you.

I’m longing for your confidence in God’s heart for your prayers to be restored.

And if you’ve ever felt that longing, or known someone who has, will you join me on this new adventure? I would so appreciate your help.

Alexandria