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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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Book Review: Etania’s Calling

For Etania and the peoples of Tamnarae, a new danger is lurking. Jazel is bent on seeking revenge, and no one will be safe until she is defeated once and for all. Desperate to hunt her down, Etania’s father pleads for her assistance and Etania reluctantly agrees. Accompanied by her suitor, Keyel, and a charming young prince, the company sets out on a quest that will decide the fate of the land. But Etania is keeping a secret, and should she share it with the wrong person, it could derail their hunt for Jazel, fracture her relationships with those she loves most, and leave the fate of Tamnarae more uncertain than ever. Etania’s calling is certain, but her ability to trust the One who gave it to her is yet to be decided…

It’s not often that a main character’s journey so closely mirrors your own. Etania is fully aware of her calling, yet she struggles both to fully trust that it’s possible for her to live it out and to not try to do so in her own strength. At so many points, her strengths and weaknesses resonated with me, as a reader, in such a powerful way. The reason I don’t find this surprising is that one of M.H. Elrich’s greatest strengths as a writer is to weave realistic characters with flaws, eccentricities, and God-given gifts.

It is nearly impossible not to find pieces of yourself in Etania, Keyel, or even Zaden. The result is a powerful story of learning to surrender and trust, to fully embrace your God-given calling with your whole heart so that others can be inspired to do the very same. After reading Etania’s Calling, there is no doubt that M.H. Elrich has courageously embraced her own gift, and every reader who picks up this story is going to be better for having read it.

I’m very much looking forward to the Daughters of Tamnarae series continuing and am so grateful for the opportunity to read this book. I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book, which I received from the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.

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You can keep up with writing updates from M.H. Elrich on Instagram and Goodreads!

Etania’s Calling, as well as the first book in the series, Etania’s Worth, are available on Amazon.

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What books have you read and enjoyed lately? Share any recommendations in the comments! I’m always looking for new books to read. If you’re an author, please don’t be shy about suggesting your own stories!

Hoping your weekend is filled with good books,

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

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Book Review: Earth Quaking

Today, I’m overjoyed to share my book review of Earth Quaking, by fellow author and friend, H.A. Pruitt! I’ll let the review speak for itself, but this is not an adventure that you’re going to want to miss.

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The adventure through Anelthalien continues…

Four young heroes – Kindle, Tad, Ella, and Andrew – are making their way through unfamiliar country. Dangers surround them, and their quest to save Anelthalien and put an end to the evil throne feels more impossible and uncertain as the days pass.

But it’s not only their quest that the heroes are uncertain of…

One of them is hiding something, and, before long, shadows of suspicion begin to cloud their vision, their purpose, and their ability to trust one another. Like me, I suppose you’re wondering: if the four heroes can’t overcome their own doubts and learn to trust again, what hope does the land of Anelthalien and its people have?

Earth Quaking is a stunning exploration of that struggle we all face between doubt and faith. Kindle, Tad, Ella, and Andrew are four of the most real, endearing, and well-written characters you’ll find between the covers of a book. After reading Earth Quaking, I cannot choose my favorite; I love them all and see a little of myself in each of them.

And, perhaps, that’s part of the wonder of Anelthalien. You go there for a good story and a thrilling adventure, only to discover pieces of yourself that you’ve been missing, that you thought were gone for good.

So, if you’re looking for the courage to endure impossible circumstances…

If you’re longing to reclaim the hope you need to place your trust in someone again…

If you need help to remember that things really do happen for a reason and at the perfect time, even when we don’t understand why…

Open the pages of Earth Quaking.

Anelthalien is waiting, and it’s that rare fantasy world where hope comes alive and faith begins to flourish again.

I wouldn’t wait a moment more to explore it.

Would you?

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You can start your adventure through Anelthalien in book one, Anelthalien, and then continue the journey in Earth Quaking.

Here’s a little more about the author, H.A. Pruitt:

“H. A. Pruitt is the author of the Christian fantasy book Anelthalien. Anelthalien is a portal fantasy that readers say reminds them of The Chronicles of Narnia.


“H.A. Pruitt is a pastor’s wife who teaches two Bible studies and wrote the recovery program for the church they serve. Her mission in all she does is to listen to, obey, and glorify God. She has always enjoyed art, using her imagination, and writing and is enjoying God using those abilities to shape her into an author.
Also, she really loves her guinea pigs . . . all 14 of them.”

You can connect with Heather on YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook!

And be sure to add Anelthalien and Earth Quaking on Goodreads!

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This week is a week of bookish holidays! Yesterday was Read-A-Book Day and tomorrow, I’ll be celebrating International Literacy Day on Instagram by sharing one of the books that I read again and again (and again) as a kid. I hope you’ll join me!

What will you be reading this week?

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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Meet Romulus Took: Chip and the Book of Rose Leaves

What do you collect?

I know of a certain badger named Romulus Took, whose home is full of all sorts of oddments, trinkets you’d be unlikely to find anywhere else.

For a badger, he’s an unusual sort, but I’ve grown to love him, and I believe you will, too.

Here’s a look inside Romulus’ burrow, and the items he’s acquired from a place called Elsewhere…

Any guess which is his favorite? 😉

I can’t wait for these postcards to make their way into the world! 📬

Until then, here’s an excerpt from Chip and the Book of Rose Leaves, featuring Romulus!

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“It was widely accepted that Romulus Took was an odd sort of badger, though a well-loved one. He was notorious for collecting all sorts of trinkets from the human world; the badger was fascinated by them all, but it was candles that he loved best.

Chip’s father often related the day, quite some time ago, when Romulus Took had brought the first candles to Everleaf.

The skeptical and the enchanted alike had accepted Romulus’ gift with curiosity, which quickly turned to delight as, candle by candle, a small corner of Everleaf Forest was illuminated by dozens of flickering lights.

He never would say where he found the candles or the countless other oddments that filled his cozy home. No matter how many times Chip asked – and the badger had long ago lost track – all Romulus Took ever offered was a smile and wink, and perhaps, a self-satisfied, “Oh, Elsewhere.”

What do you think the secret of Elsewhere is? There’s certainly more to this badger than meets the eye!

Until you can uncover these secrets for yourself, please add Chip and the Book of Rose Leaves on Goodreads and be sure to follow me on Instagram so you don’t miss out on any writing updates!

Wondering about Elsewhere with you,

Alexandria

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A Special Excerpt: Earth Quaking

The day is finally here!!! Happy release day to H.A. Pruitt and her new book, Earth Quaking!

All of the other books I’m currently reading will be promptly abandoned as soon as this story arrives on my doorstep, and I’m certain you’ll feel the same once you read this special excerpt!

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“No, honestly, it wasn’t,” Ella instantly brightly assured her and, after chuckling at Kindle’s dumbfounded blinking, explained, “It was quite awful—all I thought I’d lost—for a long while, but one day I was so overtaken by the unfairness and all I felt because of it that I told my papa about it. And, Kin, I remember it just as he told me. He sat me down in a chair and knelt down beside me and pointed his finger right at my nose. He said, ‘Young lady, you are precisely where you ought to be and everything going on in your life is happening precisely as it ought to be. I found out a long time ago that we can’t go thinking this and that is the way it ought to be because this and that never was. All that you’re conjuring ain’t the life you was to live—this is, right as it is happening right now.’ He told me that, Kin, and I knew he was right. That all I had imagined … was not the life I was meant to live. My life happened as it did and our lives are happening like this right now because they are supposed to be happening this way. Everything that’s gone on has happened for some reason, and now you’re not at your home and I’m away from my papa for some purpose. 

“Ever since he told me that, I’ve known that every bit of life happens as it should—never wrongly or mistakenly or out of order—but I’ve never really understood how so many strange, mundane, and mad things can all be for some real purpose until now. You see, it’s the makers, Kin. They’ve made everything, and not just the wood of these trees and things, but a plan and purpose for all of it and Anelthalien. There’s no other way they could know what we must do before we’ve done it. Do you see? It must be quite like when my papa stews a soup—he takes all sorts of mad bits of this and that, and you can never see how it will all turn out, but once it’s done and you taste it, you see how it all worked out. The makers aren’t just guessing at where we need to go or what to do when they tell us to go somewhere or do something—they know precisely why we four are the ones here and how all the strange, mundane, and mad bits of this journey are exactly what we need when we meet them and have some reason we may not see until it’s all done and worked out. Kin, all this is happening precisely as it ought, and we and Tad and Andrew are all precisely where we ought to be.”

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You can grab a copy of Earth Quaking (and book one, Anelthalien) on Amazon and other retailers!

Be sure to add the book on Goodreads and leave a review once you’ve finished it.

Reviews don’t have to be anything fancy! Even rating it 5 stars and simply saying, “I loved it!” is so immensely helpful to writers and helps us keep doing what we love!

You can connect with H.A. Pruitt on Facebook and Instagram.

Alexandria

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Countdown to Earth Quaking’s Release!!

There’s only one more day to wait for Earth Quaking, book two in the Anelthalien series, to release!

Anelthalien is one of my favorite books, and H.A. Pruitt is such a gifted writer, who boldly pens every word God gives her as this beautiful story continues to unfold.

If you’d like to learn more about this fantastic series, read the synopsis below and check out my review of Anelthalien here.

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If you ever knew something wasn’t quite right, Anelthalien is waiting.


Shaken from their encounter with the cloaked figure, Kindle, Tad, Ella, and Andrew continue their quest across Anelthalien to find and end the evil throne. Fractured by a secret among them, the heroes escape into a forest trembling with Anelthalien’s memories. Their goal to reach the evil throne dims, though, as the elements, obscure foes, and the past push them to doubt their mission and even if they can trust one another.


Kindle, Tad, Ella, and Andrew must remember who they can trust or their disunity will rip all hope away from them and Anelthalien.

Earth Quaking is the second book in the Christian fantasy series Anelthalien. Anelthalien begins the story of four teens who are transported to a strange land when they find mysterious necklaces. The four teens learn they are heroes who are tied to the salvation or demise of the land of Anelthalien.
The Anelthalien series can be enjoyed by middle grade, young adult, and adult readers. Anyone who loves reading portal fantasy books with a deeper message would enjoy Anelthalien.


Earth Quaking is a fantasy adventure but also teaches spiritual truths and answers difficult questions of faith such as: Why do bad things happen? Who can I trust? Can I trust God and how do I know? How can I discern God’s voice from other voices?


Although Earth Quaking provides an escape into a wondrous fantasy land, it also equips readers with encouragement and Biblical truth that will help them in daily life.

More about H.A. Pruitt:

H.A. Pruitt is the Christian fantasy author of Anelthalien. She lives with her rowdy herd of guinea pigs and her sarcastic husband. She never wanted to be an author and would have been content to remain unknown to the world, but God decided that she would be perfect to hear the story of Anelthalien and share it with the world. Now H.A. Pruitt’s goal in all she does and writes is to listen to, obey, and glorify God.

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Please add Earth Quaking on Goodreads and come back tomorrow to read a special excerpt from the book! I can’t wait to share it!

Haven’t read Anelthalien yet? I know of a few retailers who can solve that problem 😉

Amazon

Bookshop

Christian Book

Happy reading!

Alexandria

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An Interview With M.H. Elrich

I’m so excited to share my interview with M.H. Elrich! She shares the heart behind Etania’s Worth, the inspiration she hopes readers find in the story, and her plans for the rest of The Daughters of Tamnarae series!

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Etania’s Worth is such a powerful, redemptive story. What inspired you to include characters who are struggling to receive grace and accept God’s calling on their lives?

First off, thank you for the compliment. I definitely wanted that to come across in my book, so it makes me happy that you discovered it! I was actually inspired by real life circumstance. I have also struggled with receiving grace and accepting God’s calling on my life. For a long time, I vacillated between doing an office job and teaching. Eventually, God convinced me to teach, albeit kicking and screaming, and I discovered he was right, I love it! So I can relate to Etania very much about not being sure if this is what God really wants. I also have thought I didn’t deserve God’s love or grace, so writing that for Etania came through easily.

What made you choose to write in the Christian fantasy genre? How do you think this genre uniquely speaks into readers’ fears or struggles?

I chose to write in the Christian fantasy genre because I realized it was impossible for me to separate my faith elements from my fiction. Many people are able to write clean fiction without faith elements, and maybe one day I will be able to do that. But right now, I find it easier to have a God character in Melchizedek and focus on the Christian audience. I think this genre speaks uniquely to Christians in that it inspires them in their faith. I think that more Christians need books that help them grow in their faith, and not through nonfiction, but through the fiction format. Plus, this helps the nerds like me out there who love fantasy, but also love God.

Parents are typically absent from young adult stories. I love that your book is different! What led you to give the parents such pivotal roles in the story?

I actually want to reverse reader expectations, so that’s a good catch. 😁 As a reader myself, I saw the absentee parents trope and thought: that’s not realistic! Most people have one or two parents. So I wanted to create a relationship dynamic with parents that was realistic. As a young woman, I wasn’t as close to my father as I am now. Formulating Etania’s relationship with Jakin was easier because of these experiences. I haven’t gone through exactly what Etania went through with her mother, but I know how I would feel if I did. Thus, I created parents that reminded me of my own, but different.

I walked away from Etania’s story with a fresh understanding of Who God is and who I am in Him. What do you most hope that readers take away from reading Etania’s Worth?

Honestly, that is the message I wanted people to take away from my story! I’m so happy you got it! 😀 I recently added to the novel the key verse, “Who can find a virtuous woman? For her worth is far above rubies.”-Proverbs 31:10 KJV. I want every young woman who reads this book to realize that God loves them and values them far more than rubies.

Can we look forward to a sequel to Etania’s story?

Yes! Finally, after two years of finishing my credential and the draft of Etania’s Calling, I am able to work on finishing it. I hope to come out with the sequel in December, God willing, and publish the next book in Etania’s series the year after that. Therefore, Etania’s story will take place over three novels, Etania’s Worth, Etania’s Calling, and Etania’s Destiny. After I finish working on Etania’s stories, I intend to start publishing three books on Etania’s daughter, Lavanna, and at least one book on Etania’s mother, Tala. That should complete my Daughters of Tamnarae series, but who knows? God may inspire me to write more. The best way to stay tuned to my book progress is to join my email list or to follow me on Instagram.

I talk about it more on those two platforms than anywhere else.

Thank you so much for the interview!

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Thank you so much for doing this interview! Follow M.H. Elrich’s writing journey at the links above, and be sure to grab a copy of Etania’s Worth on Amazon or Bookshop!

Next week, I’ll be featuring my review of A Tapestry of Light and an interview with the author, Kimberly Duffy! I can’t wait!

Alexandria