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The Next Story Begins

Chip and the Book of Rose Leaves is releasing May 4th, as I’ve shared before, but now I have a couple other things to announce!

The cover reveal is next Thursday, the 23rd of March!!! I can’t wait for you to see the beautiful cover that Erica Richardson designed. For now, here’s a sneak peek of the cover!

For Chip, I decided not to do a launch team with ARC copies of the story. But I’m excited to share that that doesn’t mean you can’t help with the story’s release! If you love sharing cover reveals, release days, and all things bookish, I would love for you to join the 21:25 Books Street Team!

What all will be involved in the street team?

This team will be for my publishing company as a whole, instead of for just one book. There will be a group chat on Instagram where I’ll share announcements and posts with everyone. You’ll get a first look at covers for my new books, new bookish treasures for the Etsy shop, release dates, book titles, and all sorts of things!

All I ask is that you help me spread the word about my books and Etsy shop! The time commitment will be very small; all you’ll be asked to do is share some of my posts to your Stories on Instagram, or for a cover reveal/book release, make a post on the day!

It will be a fun chance to join other book lovers in doing what we enjoy most: spreading the word about good books! Along the way, you’ll be helping me pursue the calling God’s put on my heart with 21:25 Books ๐Ÿ™‚

One day, my dream is to begin publishing other authors and open a physical bookstore, but until then, I’m really excited to grow this online, bookish community! I hope you’ll join me!

If you’d like to help with the cover reveal of Chip and the Book of Rose Leaves, be sure to join the Street Team before next Thursday!

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What I’m Reading: The Dressmaker’s Secret by Kellyn Roth & The Pale Phoenix by Noah Lynch

What I’m Listening To: Birds by Anna Golden

How about you? What books and tunes are you enjoying now?

Alexandria

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Chip Coloring Pages!

God gave me the most fun idea today and I’m so excited and grateful!

Like I mentioned in one of my last posts, my children’s book, Chip and the Book of Rose Leaves, is a storybook to color.

The book itself will have 18 illustrations for you to bring to life with colored pencils, markers, or whatever strikes your fancy. But how fun would it be if you could color these pictures outside of the book, too?!

So, each week, I’ll be releasing two illustrations in my Etsy shop as digital coloring pages that you can download and print ๐Ÿ˜Š

I hope it will be the perfect way to pass the time on rainy spring days and that the illustrations will bring a spot of joy to you!

First up, are Nesbit the owl and Wilfred the fox!

Here’s a sneak peek of Wilfred and Nesbit! You can see the full illustrations and get the digital downloads right here!

I’ll be back later in the week with more updates! It feels like the countdown to Chip releasing has officially begun; I can’t wait to share this story with you and your families!

Alexandria

Saturday Musings

Happy Saturday, everyone! Is anyone else very grateful to have reached the weekend? This week was a good one, but pretty full, and I’m ready for a slower pace. This morning, that’s looked like sipping lemon green tea and reading my Charles Spurgeon devotional. I thought I’d share a few updates and random things with you (maybe this will become a weekly thing!)

This week, I finished the basic interior formatting for my children’s story, Chip and the Book of Rose Leaves, which is releasing on May 4th, and I sent all of the illustrations to my friend and fellow author, Erica Richardson, who designed the absolutely gorgeous cover and will be adding the illustrations to the interior for me!

One of the things I’m most excited about with Chip is that the illustrations can be colored as you read the story! It will be so fun to see everyone’s coloring creations ๐Ÿ™‚ The cover reveal is coming soon, but I haven’t settled on an exact date. I can’t wait to share it with you, though; it couldn’t be more perfect!

I’ve also started writing the sequel to Chip. I wasn’t at all expecting to write it right now. Currently, I’m working on the first book in an epic Christian fantasy series, so as far as I was concerned, the sequels to Chip and Penelope Grace were on hold for the time being. God had different plans haha.

Even though it’s unexpected, I’m really grateful for God leading me to write Chip’s next adventure right now. As some of you know, Chip’s first adventure all begins because he wants to know if God hears his prayers or even cares about them at all. This next story is also about prayer, but in a different way. This time, Chip’s adventure begins when the answer to a prayer very close to his heart is, “No.”

My family and I have experienced several “Nos” and “Not yets” lately, in answer to our prayers, and I wasn’t prepared for how painful and hard it would be. I knew that this was the theme of Chip’s sequel months ago, but I didn’t know when God gave me the idea how much I would need this story for my own healing and faith. I’m only at the beginning, but I think this book will help me know God’s character better, and I hope the same will be true for you, too.

In the meantime, Chip’s first adventure will be available very soon, and it will be a joy to share that story with you ๐Ÿ˜Š

Here’s a peek at one of the illustrations, featuring a persevering old owl named Nesbit. I’m thinking of adding the illustrations as printable coloring pages in my Etsy store! What do you think?!

Family History & Other Story Ideas

For a long time, I’ve been really interested in family history. Those of you who have been part of my writing journey so far will know the different family stories that became part of Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel. I have a few different stories in mind (some connected to Penelope Grace and some not) that I’m really passionate about writing, but I’ll need to do some digging into family history first.

One of the stories will involve my great-grandma, Mary McLean. She was born in England (in Manchester, we believe) and then married my great-grandpa, George Saris, who met her through a mutual friend after he left Greece and joined the Merchant Marine. Here are photos of the two of them (excuse the poor quality). This is the only photo we have of my great-grandma when she was young and it’s the only photo we have of my great-grandpa at all. I’m hoping to find more as I research.

Right now, I’m focusing on learning more about my great-grandma and her family. I believe her father’s name was Peter and that he was from Ireland. From stories, I know that he served in the army. My grandma told me that one of the family’s servants would cut up his old uniforms to make rag rugs. As far as my great-grandma’s mom, the only thing I know is that she worked as a hand model in England and that she died in a hotel fire. I don’t have much to go on, but I’m hoping to learn more, and I’ll share it with you here as I do! I’m excited to see how my story ideas take shape and change as I find out more about my family.

I’m on Ancestry, but if you know of any other good places to start researching, please let me know! And if you’ve done family research of your own, I’d love to hear about what you’ve learned about your family, if you’d like to share ๐Ÿ™‚

Books & Tunes

What I’m reading:

Between Two Worlds by Cheyenne van Langevelde

& Morning by Morning by Charles Spurgeon

Favorite Song at the Moment: Sails – Live by Pat Barrett, Steffany Gretzinger, & Amanda Cook

That’s all I have to share for now! I’ll be back soon with more updates and writing adventures. In the meantime, feel welcome to share your own updates!

Alexandria

Life By the Well, Part One

A few weeks ago, I started an extended break from social media. This was a change I had been thinking about for awhile, but it was this quote that inspired me to actually do it.

As created beings our reservoir dries up and eventually cracks, but the well of the Creator never fails. Happy is the person who lives by the well, having an abundant and constant supply close at hand.

Morning by Morning, Charles Spurgeon

I recognized that social media was consuming my focus, discouraging my heart, and distracting me from God.

So, here I am, a few weeks into living by the well, and can I be honest? It’s been uncomfortable.

I didn’t expect it to be. I was sure that there would be a sudden and constant influx of peace. And don’t get me wrong. I have felt much better since I’ve been off social media, but that lack of distraction did something I didn’t expect.

It gave me time to talk to God and to listen. It exposed other areas of my heart that I didn’t even realize were hurting. Places of discouragement and fear that I didn’t know were lingering in the back of my mind.

So, my time by the well has been refreshing in many ways, but it’s also been stretching, and stretching (while good) can also be painful and uncomfortable.

Today, I’ve found myself wondering if this calling God has placed on my life will ever come to anything. It feels like I’ve exhausted all my options, tried everything I could try, and still come up short.

In the midst of feeling that way, God nudged me to pull out my phone and start penning this blog post. Right now, in the midst of my fear and uncertainty.

And as I’ve been typing this, the Spirit’s been speaking. Perhaps, reaching the end of my efforts and options is exactly where God wants me. Maybe it’s why He led me to the well, this quiet place where other voices quiet and only His remains. Maybe it’s here, in this place where any way forward seems missing, that I’ll see Him do what only He can. And maybe that’s a sight you can only see from the well.

I’m not sure how long this journey will take, but I would be honored if you’d walk with me throught it.

I’ll be continuing my social media break, but I will be sharing updates on my life by the well, current projects, and other things here. You can subscribe to receive an email when I post.

You can also find me and all sorts of bookish treasures on Etsy. I also write book reviews for Clean Fiction Magazine, so you can check that out on Amazon! The Spring edition just came out and it’s beautiful ๐ŸŒท

I would love to hear what’s new with you! What are you writing or reading right now? I just finished Moondrop Miracle by Jennifer Lamont Leo, and it was absolutely fantastic! Perfect for historical fiction fans ๐Ÿ™‚

Until the next update,

Alexandria

Book Review: The Innkeeper by Keaton D. Winter

“It is a plain and simple truth that one must endure the harshness of thorns in order to fully appreciate the beauty of a rose.”

With these words, readers are invited to journey through the wilderness of Artemaeus Barsoul’s heart and uncover what is hiding there. They will find Artemaeus standing in his inn, coldly surveying the building and the few people inside, and soon understand why he is known as “The Chill Wind.” Warmth left Artemaeus long ago, and bitterness took its place, leaving little room for kindness or generosity, let alone love.

But a strange voice that only Artemaeus can hear is calling out, telling him of second chances and three spirits who are soon to visit. Everything is about to change for Artemaeus Barsoul, if only he’ll let it. All that remains is for readers to turn to the first page and discover his choice for themselves.

The Innkeeper is a powerful story of redemption and making room for what – and Who – truly matters in our lives. Loosely inspired by Charles Dickens’, A Christmas Carol, Winter’s tale takes the basic elements of the classic story and infuses them with fresh heart and meaning.

As they travel alongside Artemaeus, readers will find some of the thorns encasing his heart familiar, and as a result, will celebrate all the more as each thorn is pruned and Artemaeus’ wilderness transforms into a spacious place with plenty of room for God and anyone else who is longing to know the joy of being welcomed in.

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You can buy The Innkeeper on Amazon and connect with Keaton D. Winter on Instagram!

You can also add the story on Goodreads!

I hope everyone has a really wonderful Christmas ๐ŸŽ„๐Ÿ˜Š

Alexandria

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 ๐Ÿ˜Š And once you click it, explore the Etsy shop for some cute stocking stuffers ๐ŸŽ„

Hoping your weekend is full of good books,

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 โ€“ remarkable โ€“ 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 winterโ€™s chill. There, Nurse Sasha โ€“ who oversaw everything โ€“ 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 Penelopeโ€™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 childโ€™s spirit endure into adulthood. As Penelopeโ€™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.

โ€œWell, George,โ€ Mary would ask with the warmest of smiles, โ€œwhat do you think makes your sister remarkable?โ€

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, โ€œTwo things.โ€

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.

โ€œAnd the second,โ€ you would ask, sincerely eager to know.

โ€œShe is the only grown-up who isnโ€™t only teasing me when she says she still believes in Father Christmas.โ€

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 โ€“ who has been listening by the crackling fire all the while โ€“ could tell you with absolute certainty what it was that made Penelope Grace genuinely remarkable:

โ€œWonder.โ€

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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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Book Review: Starganauts by C.E. Stone

Have you ever struggled to trust God’s plan?

Kaity Anderson knows this struggle all too well. All the world seemed radiant and full of hope as her wedding day dawned, until the unthinkable happened. During the reception — an event that should have been marked by joy — an alien gunship launched an attack against Earth, leaving the surface of the planet irrevocably destroyed.

They had been warned it was coming. A strange prophetess, Samantha, had spoken of the coming destruction, yet none had really believed her. Still, just before the attack arrived, she was there, ready and willing to take those willing to believe her in a space ship that would take them far from the imminent danger.

Choosing to do so, Kaity, her husband, and a few others watch in horror from the ship as their home, loved ones, and fellow humans are destroyed. Crippled by loss, they arrive on an unfamiliar planet, where greater challenges and victories await them than they could have ever imagined.

Up to this point, I have not been a big fan of sci-fi books, but after reading Starganauts, I consider myself officially converted. C.E. Stone has created such an expansive universe, full of characters whose strengths and weaknesses are so relatable and impactful.

The action scenes of the story are vivid and exciting, but also well-balanced with moments that make you think and challenge you in your walk with God right along with Kaity, Samantha, and the other characters. I am so excited to see where the rest of this series takes readers and am sure that more wonderful galactic adventures are in store!

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You can grab a copy of Starganauts here and follow C.E. Stone on Instagram!

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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? ๐Ÿ™‚

Alexandria

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Cover Reveal: The Weight of Air by Kimberly Duffy

Happy Cover Reveal Day to Kimberly Duffy and her upcoming novel, The Weight of Air. I have loved every book that Kimberly has written, and I’m sure this one will be no exception ๐Ÿ™‚

Below, I’m sharing the book blurb, as well as links to fun pre-order goodies!

The Weight of Air releases on February 7th, 2023!

Book Blurb:

In 1911, Mabel MacGinnis is Europe’s strongest woman and has performed beside her father in the Manzo Brothers Circus her entire life. But at his unexpected death, she loses everything she’s ever known and sets off in the company of acrobat Jake Cunningham for America in hope of finding the mother she’s just discovered is still alive.

Isabella Moreau, the nation’s most feted aerialist, has given everything to the circus. But age and injury now threaten her security, and Isabella, stalked by old fears, makes a choice that risks everything. When her daughter Mabel appears alongside the man who never wanted to see Isabella again, Isabella is forced to face the truth of where, and in what, she derives her worth.

In this evocative novel from Kimberly Duffy, the meaning of strength takes center stage as the lives of three circus performers become entangled beneath the glittering lights and flying trapeze of Madison Square Garden.

Pre-Order Details:

You can pre-order The Weight of Air from Amazon and Baker Book House! When you pre-order from Baker Book House, you’ll receive some fun pre-order goodies!

I can’t wait to read this story! Have you ever read any books by Kimberly Duffy? She is one of my very favorite authors. Click the titles to read my reviews of A Tapestry of Light and A Mosaic of Wings.