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

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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

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A Winter Tale of Wonder is Coming

A winter tale of wonder is coming, reader. The fire is crackling in the hearth and the melody of a winter carousel is softly playing as its frost-covered animals begin to turn. The tale invites you to set foot in the land of Ellura, but it begins on a snowy November night in London, where a young woman is holding tightly to wonder.

Here is the prologue for you to read and enjoy, and I hope you will join me for the whole adventure

Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel

Prologue

Penelope Grace was a remarkable girl.

Of course, that word – remarkable – can mean many different things, depending on whom you ask.

Upon entering the Saris household, you would first be taken to the kitchen for a warm cup of tea to fight off the early winter’s chill. There, Nurse Sasha – who oversaw everything – would happily offer you her opinion. She could hardly find it less than remarkable that a girl of sixteen could behave so like her nine-year-old brother as to be nearly indistinguishable.

Once welcomed and enlightened, you might continue to the living room and find a comfortable chair near Penelope’s mother, Mary, who is patiently mending the latest torn and dirt-stained dress. She would share with you how her daughter is remarkably and admirably unconcerned with what others think of her.

Over the years, her friends marveled to find that Penelope was just as likely to pick up an imaginary sword as an intricate piece of embroidery. Growing serious now, Mary would tell you of the many encouragements she has received to rein her daughter in.

But it is too rare a gift to see a child’s spirit endure into adulthood. As Penelope’s mother, she would ask, how could she do less than safeguard it?

But just then, young George would come bursting in, his great-uncle Alex not far behind, and insist on knowing what your conversation was about.

“Well, George,” Mary would ask with the warmest of smiles, “what do you think makes your sister remarkable?”

He would think hard about it for a minute or two but, his nose crinkling up as he grinned, would soon reply with a firm, “Two things.”

And then, leaning forward as if to share with you a very great secret, George would tell you a story. Just last week, Penelope had, remarkably, succeeded both in assembling an entire regiment of nutcracker soldiers in the foyer and in vanishing from sight before Nurse Sasha could certainly accuse her of having done it.

“And the second,” you would ask, sincerely eager to know.

“She is the only grown-up who isn’t only teasing me when she says she still believes in Father Christmas.”

Equally impressed by both these reasons, you might then turn to great-uncle Alex, whom you would find no less willing to join in the conversation.

He would have to say that Penelope was remarkable for her persistent delight in all things simple, yet extraordinary. Even now she remains as enchanted with his magic tricks as she was on the day he first arrived from Greece to share them with her.

But of all her family, acquaintances and friends, only her father, John – who has been listening by the crackling fire all the while – could tell you with absolute certainty what it was that made Penelope Grace genuinely remarkable:

“Wonder.”

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Join me for the carousel ride and the fight for wonder. Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel releases this November!

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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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