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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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“My Heart Is Steadfast.”

Do you ever struggle to trust that God is working things out for good?

This morning, I was reading Psalms 57 and 61, and I realized that, lately, my answer to that question has been a resounding, “Yes.” Sounds bad, right? But it’s true. Logically, I know that God is trustworthy, but that knowledge hasn’t necessarily been reflected in my thoughts or actions.

I see photos of people getting married or having children, and discontentment stabs me. I wonder why it hasn’t happened for me.

I get caught up in numbers and likes, and I forget that feeling seen or unseen by people doesn’t define or determine my worth. I forget that God is more than enough.

And God knows all this about me. He knows where my thoughts tend to go. He knows how the enemy attacks me. He knows all the ins and outs of you, too.

He knows us so intimately and cares for us so carefully. I had forgotten that. He used Psalm 61 to remind me.

I call to You as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For You have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe.”

Psalm 61:2-3

I’ve read those verses before, but they held my attention this morning, more than they ever have before.

They reminded me of how close God is.

Of how trustworthy He is.

Of how, even when I don’t understand His timing or why certain things are happening (or not happening), I can take a deep breath and know He is right there next to me. And that’s enough. That’s all I actually need.

Instead of drowning in doubt, discontentment, or plain, old impatience, I can echo David’s words in Psalm 57.

My heart, O God, is steadfast, my heart is steadfast.”

Psalm 57:7

This is a heart space worthy of staying in, a space where we stop allowing circumstances to diminish or derail us, a space where God comes so, so close, and stays.

God used these verses to light up some dark places in my heart, and I’m confident He will do the same for you. What has He been teaching you lately?

Now, I’m off to brew coffee and befriend some (fictional) dragons.

Alexandria

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What’s Next For 21:25 Books?

Hi everyone,

It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? I am so excited for all that God’s taught me over the last several months and for the way that He redirected all my plans. I definitely had a very specific vision of what life would look like by spring of this year and where 21:25 Books would be.

Then, life happened, and God showed me that, no matter how good I thought my plans were, His are so much better.

Initially, my plan was to design a full website with an online store and new blog. Roadblock after roadblock kept popping up, until I finally realized that those roadblocks were God’s loving way of telling me, “Not yet.”

I didn’t necessarily like hearing that answer at first (OK, I didn’t like it at all), so I kept trying to push my own agenda for a bit. After spending a lot of time talking to God about things, He led me to stick with this version of the blog. Not always, but for now. I felt such a weight lifted when I finally followed where He was leading.

So, what does this mean for the online store?

Well, it does exist, just not in the way I thought it would!

If you click on this fancy link, it will take you right to a form where you can browse my store and purchase any bookish items that you like! I’ll be adding more products as time goes on, but for right now, there are some beautiful bookmarks available and handmade wax seals for your stationary or craft projects! (Please note that shipping is U.S. only for now)

I discovered how passionate I am about making handmade bookish products to share with my fellow readers and writers, something that I would have missed out on if I had stuck with my original plan. It turns out that God knows best, after all 🙂

In other news, I just launched The Writers’ Nook, a pen-pal group for Christian women writers! I’m so full of anticipation for how God will allow us to encourage each other through this group. If you’d like to sign up, you can read all the information and do so here!

Receiving cards or letters in the mail is one of my favorite things (and a welcome break from all of the junk mail), and I thought, “How wonderful would it be for us writers to receive random notes of encouragement or congratulations when we hit a roadblock in the writing process or when we celebrate a book release?”

There are few things as special as finding a tangible reminder that you’re not alone in the writing process, and The Writers’ Nook is an opportunity for writers to offer that reminder to each other on a regular basis!

There is more news to come, but I’ll leave you with that for now! What’s new in your own writing/publishing journey? What has God been teaching you? I’d love for you to share in the comments.

Come visit on Friday, when I’ll be sharing a book review of Etania’s Calling by M.H. Elrich!

Happy reading & wordslinging [ my dad’s term for writing 🙂 ]

Alexandria