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Character Names! Behind the Scenes of Chip and the Book of Rose Leaves

Have you ever wondered how authors come up with character names?

For me, it’s different for every story I write!

When I wrote Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel, many of the characters were based on family members (makes life easy, right?! 😅)

But when it came time for Chip’s tale, God had something different in mind.

I wrote this book in an illustrated journal, and as soon as I saw the owl pictured above, I heard the name, Abaline.

Although, it took me a few tries to decide on the spelling 😄

Alfeus’ name came to me spur of the moment, and, of course, Chip got his name from the charming young rabbit who used to sit outside my window.

Sometimes, there isn’t a certain way that character names come about. They just feel right.

And when God gives you that certainty, you learn not to question it 😊

How do you come up with character names? Do people you know inspire them or do the names just come as you’re writing?

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Next week, we’ll continue on our behind-the-scenes’ adventures for Chip’s story!

What would you love to know about the making of Chip?

I’ll also be sharing a review for H.A. Pruitt’s novel, Earth Quaking, a book that is very close to my heart.

Happy reading!

Alexandria

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Book Review: Hoover’s Horn

Luna’s first adventure with her newfound friends has hardly ended, and the next one is already beginning…

Wizard Edwin is up to his magical tricks once again, and Hoover – Luna’s beloved (and sometimes grumpy) owl friend – has paid the price.

Transformed into a fierce rhinoceros and none too happy about it, Hoover demands to be turned back into his dignified, feathered self this instant.

But it will take all of Edwin’s magical resources and friends to undo this latest mishap, and they’ll soon learn that their hope rests on one noble gnome, Mr. Terracotta Glaze.

It seems impossible, but you never know, young reader. With a few willing friends and a wish fulfilled, Hoover might regain his feathers yet.

Hoover’s Horn is a wonderful continuation of The Cottonwood Chronicles. I continue to be delighted by Erica Richardson’s God-given gift for taking a whimsical tale full of child-like wonder and adventure and then filling it to the brim with heart-warming reminders of true friendship and what’s really worth treasuring in life.

If you’re longing for a story that’s sure to bring your family together for an adventure full of magic and delight, look no further than Hoover’s Horn, book two of The Cottonwood Chronicles, and all of the magical adventures yet to come.

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If you’re just discovering the wonder of Erica’s magical tales, you can find a copy of Luna’s Rescue on Amazon!

While you’re there, you might as well grab a copy of Hoover’s Horn, so you don’t have to wait a moment to find out what happens next 😉

When you’ve finished, please consider leaving a review on Goodreads! It’s the best and quickest way to help out your favorite authors!

You can join Erica’s writing adventures on Instagram 🙂

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This Thursday, I’m sharing a special excerpt from Hoover’s Horn and a peek at the coloring pages that Erica designed for her stories!

Alexandria

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An Interview With Kimberly Duffy

I’m overjoyed to welcome Kimberly Duffy to the blog today! She shares what drew her to writing historical fiction, how struggles with grief and doubt wove their way into her stories, and what’s in store for her next book, Every Word Unsaid!

This interview was such a delight, and I hope you enjoy!

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Grief and doubt are topics we often dance around, but you confront them with a remarkable honesty and courage. What led you to address both in A Tapestry of Light?

I have always struggled with fear. Some of my earliest memories are of OCD flares (which I was diagnosed with post-partum after my second child was born) and I can’t think of anything that scares me more than losing a loved one. As a reader and writer, I process through story. Through imagination and words. As someone who suffers with OCD, it is nearly impossible for me to turn those thoughts off. They are relentless, coming at me with a ferocity that sometimes has me paralyzed. They are graphic and disturbing. And for brief moments, when my breath is coming short and shallow and my heart is twisting, I think, “How would I survive this if it was more than intrusive thoughts?” 

So I pour it all out in my stories. I live vicariously through my characters. I watch them suffer and struggle and, ultimately, discover they can survive. And that offers me a bit of hope. We’re resilient. We’re created for more than this place, these bodies, even the love we’ve discovered here. 

And doubt…it’s something I’ve struggled with for about a decade. I have no idea where it came from. No idea what triggered it. My faith walk is split into the before and after—before, when I was certain of everything I’d been taught, and after, when nothing was as it should be. I deconstructed—that’s a buzzy word. Deconstruction. Thankfully, I didn’t wallow in the shards of my shattered faith. I cut myself loose of all the extraneous stuff that had nothing to do with Christ. Like Ottilie, I protected that fragile, single seed. And every time I found myself doubting, questioning, I said, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.” It was enough. For YEARS. And then I began reading through the Bible. I filled myself with the word. I read apologists and great minds like CS Lewis and Chesterton. And eventually, the doubt began to flicker. It didn’t completely extinguish—every once in a while it is fed a little bit of oxygen—but mostly it leaves me alone. 

Unfortunately, I felt very alone the entire time of my struggle. No one was talking about it. No one was addressing it. It was dismissed. And I don’t want any other Christian who struggles with it to feel as though they have no one walking beside them.

What first drew you to writing historical fiction?

I love history. I spent six months in tenth grade digging deep into the ancient Etruscans. Another six months in Ancient Rome. A good part of my 11th grade year researching everything I could on the Civil War. Most days, I shoved aside my history textbooks in favor of historical narratives, autobiographies, classic literature (I never studied a moment for any of my history exams yet I got a nearly perfect score on the AP test. I’m a big believer in learning history through what Charlotte Mason called “living books”.) I spent a bit of time scared of writing historical fiction—choosing instead to write contemporary romance—but my love for it eventually won out and from the moment I typed the first line of A Mosaic of Wings, I didn’t look back (or forward?)
I love that people don’t really change. The same things we want and struggle with today are the same things they wanted and struggled with a hundred years ago. Human nature is fairly constant and, as a woman and mother of three girls, I’m fascinated by the amazing things women achieved in times when it was nearly impossible to step outside expected social norms and carve a path for themselves.

Historical fiction is an extremely popular genre. What do you think gives historical figures and events such a unique ability to speak into our present-day experiences?

I think there’s a comforting kind of familiarity that’s tempered with enough differences—enough years—to give us a bit of distance. It’s like seeing someone you know in the same stage of life dealing with something adjacent to your own personal struggles. It’s not exactly the same so you can comfort yourself by saying, “Well, that’s not happening, at least” but it’s close enough that you can watch and see how they handle it. Learn from their experience.

The descriptions in your novels are so stunning. What helps or inspires you when trying to bring a certain location or period to life for readers?

Thank you! I work hard to immerse my readers in every scene. I want them to feel and taste and see and hear everything my characters do. I’m lucky that I write during a time when photography was becoming more widely available and there are a ton of photographs available online. Especially when I was researching for Tapestry, there were so many of Kolkata during the 1880s-90s. I could see the streets, houses, fashions. I spend a lot of time collecting images in Pinterest boards and searching them for any detail I can add that will lend an engaging sensory detail to my stories. I also read a lot written during the time I’m writing. There’s no contemporary essay or article or book that can replace the authenticity of actual personal accounts.

What are you currently reading? Do you have certain books that you’re always recommending?

Currently I’m reading two nonfiction health books (I’m usually reading a health book of some sort) and trying to work through my TBR. I got super behind while I was on deadline. I just finished The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel which was fantastic. I started The Gentleman Spy by Erica Vetsch (her books are always very engaging) yesterday and am planning on finishing up doing a read aloud of The Hiding Place with my older two girls soon. I can’t say there’s any particular book I recommend all the time because it just depends on who is reading and what they enjoy.

Can you share any details with us about your next book?

I’d love to! Every Word Unsaid releases November 2, 2021 and it’s about Gussie Travers—globetrotting, adventure seeking, unintentional trouble making photographer who, through no fault of her own, creates a scandal and escapes to Poona, India—landing right in the middle of a bubonic plague epidemic. There’s an adorably geeky doctor hero, fun scenes set in some of India’s most beautiful cities, and a heroine who, no matter how hard she tries, can’t seem to escape the reach of the words that chase her.

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Thank you so much, Kimberly, for doing this interview and offering such thoughtful, heartfelt answers!

A Tapestry of Light is available on Amazon, Bookshop, and other booksellers!

Be sure to also check out Kimberly’s stunning debut novel, A Mosaic of Wings. It will always be one of my favorite stories!

You can connect with Kimberly on her website, Instagram, or Facebook!

Once you’ve read (and fallen in love with) the stories, be sure to leave a review on Goodreads. Reviews are one of the best and easiest ways to help the authors we love!

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Next week, it’s time for a marvelous adventure! I’ll be sharing my review and an excerpt from Hoover’s Horn, a children’s book by another favorite author of mine, Erica Richardson!

Happy reading!

Alexandria

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Book Review: A Tapestry of Light

“Sometimes little things held more strength than the grand.”

For Ottilie Russell, life has been an unending pattern of loss.

First, her father and siblings, wrenched away by illness.

Then, her mother, stolen away in a senseless accident that leaves her with the daunting responsibility of caring for her grandmother and younger brother, Thaddeus.

Ottilie is determined, though. Amidst the swirl of doubt and grief, she steels herself to use her unique gift for embroidery to honor her parents’ legacy and provide for her family.

But Ottilie soon learns that her mother’s plans for them were quite different than what she expects, and plans have been set in motion that promise to rip away everything that is familiar.

Everything comforting and reassuring.

As much as Ottilie has wrestled with her British and Indian heritage, she is about to find herself more torn between the two than ever before. The only way forward is to carefully gather the smallest scraps of faith and courage she has left and discover if they will be enough to make something with real strength.

Kimberly Duffy’s books are absolute wonders and a gift to anyone who reads them. In A Tapestry of Light, the pages are filled with characters who hold their darkest struggles up to the light with a courage and vulnerability that is exceedingly rare. 

Readers will be comforted to know that they are not alone in their doubts or pain, challenged to ask the hardest questions, and emboldened to face their long-held fears.

There are countless lessons and comforts to be found in the pages of this book, but, by far, the most important one for me is this:

Sometimes, it is the smallest stitches that transform a tapestry into a work of stunning beauty, and, often, it’s the seemingly insignificant seeds of faith that make a person radiant with the hope that even a life fragmented by loss can be daily made whole.

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A Tapestry of Light is available on Amazon and Bookshop, a really fantastic site that supports indie bookstores with every purchase!

You can connect with Kimberly on her website and Instagram.

Join us Thursday for an interview with the author!

Until then, happy reading!

Alexandria

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Book Review: Etania’s Worth

What a delight to share this wonderful story with you this week! Read my full review of Etania’s Worth by M.H. Elrich below! And come back on Thursday for a special interview with the author!

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Etania. She felt Melchizedek’s voice, warming her whole body… Lean on me.”

The land of Tamnarae and its people are at terrible risk. Melchizedek is no longer amongst them, and the forces of Malstorm, known as the Skazic, are rising once more.

Yet, there are those blessed with Neuma – unique gifts bestowed by Melchizedek Himself – who remain loyal and are willing to risk all to fight for what is good and true.

But when Etania, along with her family and friends, is called to join the fight, she discovers that leaning on Melchizedek in faith is the greatest battle of all…

Etania’s Worth is such a remarkable story. Full of adventure, love, betrayal, and courage, it’s a novel that is sure to entertain readers of all ages and challenge them to face their fears with bold faith.

The characters struggle with real brokenness and doubt, but what truly sets this story apart is the redemptive arc that most of the characters experience. Reading a novel where many characters learn to receive grace and healing was so refreshing. I’m sure that readers will agree, as they turn the last page, that we need more stories as brave and full of faith as Etania’s Worth.

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I’m so grateful that I had the chance to read this remarkable story!

Pick up a copy for yourself and a friend at Amazon or Bookshop (a wonderful site that supports independent bookstores with every purchase)!

Join me on Thursday as I share a wonderful interview with M.H. Elrich!

Until then, happy reading!

Alexandria

What Makes It Hard To Believe?

What makes it hard for you to believe that God hears and cares about your prayers?

For me, it’s the waiting. It’s so hard, isn’t it?

Like the impatient anticipation of waiting for a flower to bloom, waiting for a prayer to be answered or a longing to be satisfied is so difficult.

It can feel long and painful and desperate.

Hopeless.

As if God is silent or indifferent to our prayers.

But I don’t believe He is.

Still, we wrestle and we wonder.

Much like a young rabbit named Chip, who’s desperate to know if his cries are heard.

Who isn’t satisfied to sit still and just wonder.

Who’s willing to brave the most dangerous and thrilling of adventures to find out what he’s most desperate to know:

Does God hear our prayers? Do they even really matter to Him at all?

Wouldn’t you like to know the answer, too?

Follow the link in my bio to join Chip on a marvelous adventure through the land of Almea and find the answer for yourself…

The Kickstarter project for Chip and the Book of Rose Leaves is 47% funded!! Hurray! 

There are just 14 days left to reach my goal, and I would so appreciate your support!

If 25 people gave $50, we could reach the goal and bring Chip’s adventure to readers together!

Will you help me?

Thank you so much to everyone who has supported and encouraged me! I’m thankful for each one of you!

Waiting for the adventure to begin,

Alexandria

What Do You Treasure?

What do you treasure?

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

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

We treasure it because we love her.

Have you ever wondered what God treasures?

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

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

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

Will you follow him?

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

I’m longing to share this story with you.

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

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

Alexandria

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Synopsis: Chip and the Book of Rose Leaves

Are you ready for an adventure? 😉

In a quiet meadow tucked away in Everleaf Forest, a young rabbit is waiting.

Chip whispered a prayer weeks ago, a question that he is longing to know the answer to. But as more time passes and still, no answer comes, Chip begins to wonder something quite different:

Do his prayers really matter to God at all?

Instead of being met with silence, though, strange tales of a treasure and a Guardian named Abaline reach Chip’s curious ears.

The stories promise that anyone who discovers this treasure will find the answers they long for, and Chip is determined to do just that.

But an unexpected adventure awaits, full of fire and drakes, racing rivers, and untold wonders.

It promises to be thrilling, but not safe.

The only question that remains is this:

Are you courageous enough to join Chip on his adventure and uncover the answers with him?

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The Kickstarter has 25 days left! Will you help me raise the money needed to share Chip’s adventure?

We’ve raised $315 so far, and I’m so grateful and wildly expectant for God to move!

I would so appreciate your help as I pursue my calling for filling the world with books about God and the good things He does!

Please find me on social media (@2125Books) and share my posts with #bookofroseleaves to help me spread the word!

Thank you so much!

Alexandria

Kickstarter: Chip and the Book of Rose Leaves

What helps you persevere in a hard situation?

I know of a certain grand, old owl named Nesbit who has a pretty clear idea of how to help our adventurous young rabbit 😉

“Hmm. Perseverance is what’s needed here, young Chip. Perseverance!” Nesbit proclaimed, startling several disgruntled birds from their dreams.”

The Kickstarter is 13% funded! 🥳 Will you help me get to 20% by Monday so Chip can hear the call to persevere?!

After all, Nesbit loves to share his opinion, and we wouldn’t want to rob him of the opportunity 😅

And for a little teaser…

If you’d like to see the first illustration sneak peek, head to the Kickstarter for Chip and the Book of Rose Leaves!

Thank you to everyone who has backed the Kickstarter and helped spread the word on social media! I’m so grateful 😊

Alexandria

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Book Review: The Open Letter

This week, I’m sharing my review of The Open Letter by Marysol Ramos Moreira! Read on and find out where you can get a copy for yourself 🙂

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Madison and her young daughter, Mady, have only just moved into a new neighborhood, but an unexpected event has already led them to friendships that will change their lives for the better. After meeting these new friends – Tommy, Milo, Hope, Xavier, and Audrey-Ana – Madison learns that they are homeless, and, try as she might, she can’t convince them to share their stories with her.

But one day, Madison finds a gift box, full of broken eyeglasses, in her apartment, and this gift is bound to change everything…

The Open Letter is a story quite unlike any other. With prayers shaped into beautiful poetry, this story offers readers the chance to meet characters who are willing to bring their fears and thanks, victories and doubts, to God, and it challenges the readers themselves to embrace that same vulnerability.

While there were editing issues that distracted from the story itself, The Open Letter is an important reminder to look beyond a person’s appearance and circumstances, to love fearlessly and unwaveringly, and to bring everything to the heart of the Father, who truly cares for each one of our prayers.

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The Open Letter is available on Amazon and you can connect with Marysol on Instagram!

Tomorrow, I’ll be sharing my interview with Marysol 🙂

Until then, happy reading!

Alexandria