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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

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

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A Look Behind & A Look Ahead

Hi everyone!

Life has been hectic lately, and I haven’t taken much time to reflect on all that’s happened over the last few months. I’m really amazed by how God has led me and provided everything I needed ๐Ÿ˜Š

Last November, I had the joy of publishing my first novel, Penelope Grace and the Winter Carousel. This winter tale, full of wonder and light, is inspired by my mom and grandpa.

I wrote it after we lost him to Parkinson’s and Dementia, and my hope is that it encourages anyone who struggles to see any light or hope in winter and times of grief.

Last year, I also got my Etsy store for 21:25 Books up and running! This is where I sell my books and other bookish goodies. Before I get to my news, here is a quick peek at some of the items you can find there:

I’m so grateful for the blessings and opportunities that God gave me, and it’s been so cool to hear how Penelope Grace has encouraged people who have read it ๐Ÿ’™

But now, God’s leading me (and you, my fellow readers) to some place new.

Much as I love Penelope’s world and the land of Ellura, it’s time to say good-bye (though just for now).

Flowers are already beginning to bloom in a forest called Everleaf, and a young and curious rabbit is eagerly waiting for us there…

My children’s story, Chip and the Book of Rose Leaves is releasing on May 4th!!

This was a story that I never expected to write, and I am so thrilled to be releasing it in paperback this spring, on the National Day of Prayer!

The story will have a little something special, though ๐Ÿ˜Š This is a springtime tale to color and will include many illustrations that I hope inspire you to break out your colored pencils and add color to!

I’ll be sharing much more in the days to come, but now, I also want to announce something that I’m only sharing on the blog right now.

For many years, I have had a Christian epic fantasy series planned. This will be a nine-book series, divided into three trilogies.

Today, I want to share a little sneek peak of what’s to come. The photos below give a teaser of the aesthetic of each trilogy!

For the first trilogy, I’ve shared the name of the trilogy & given a separate aesthetic for each book, which may or may not offer a clue or two about what’s in store ๐Ÿ˜‰

For now, that’s all my news! I can’t wait to share the cover of Chip and the Book of Rose Leaves with you! Erica Richardson has already designed it, and I can’t get over how absolutely stunning it is ๐Ÿ˜

Now, to get back to writing and formatting!

Alexandria

Book Review: Water Falling by H.A. Pruitt

Kindle, Tad, Ella, and Andrew are continuing their adventure through Anelthalien, but things have never felt more dangerous. Everything they believed to be true about the Makers and stopping the evil throne now seems uncertain, and doubt claws at them until they even begin to question the faithfulness of their friends. Nevertheless, they carry on, fleeing from danger beneath the earth and in a strange city, only to find that it’s closer than ever. The four heroes have much to overcome, but in the darkest times — if they’ll only listen — they will remember that they are not alone.

Water Falling is such a beautiful continuation of the Anelthalien series. One of the things that H.A. Pruitt excels at is weaving meaningful heroic journeys for each of the main characters. Kindle and Tad, especially, experience character development in this book that was amazing (and sometimes, entertaining) to witness, and I’m excited to see Ella and Andrew grow even more in future books.

This book deals heavily with the inner turmoil of each hero as they navigate the next stage of their quest. Discerning between truth and lies is a major theme, and Pruitt explores it in an imaginative way that I’ve never encountered in another story. The descriptions, especially in the beginning of the book, are stunning, and when the characters find themselves in a strange, underwater world, I found myself getting lost right along with them. Stories that immerse readers in the fictional world like that are the very best kind.

There is plenty of action and adventure to balance the characters’ emotional journey, though. The end of the story flies by, and it’s obvious how much higher the stakes are getting. I absolutely loved this story. I’ll never be able to say enough to recommend the Anelthalien series or express how much the themes of faith, doubt, heroism, and truth mean to me.

All that’s left to say is that if you ever wanted something different, or if you ever wanted to know the truth, Anelthalien is waiting.

Please note: There is a very brief scene where unwanted physical attention is directed towards one of the characters. It passes quickly and is not, in any way, graphic, but I wanted to mention it in case it would be triggering for anyone.

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You can find a copy of Water Falling and the first two books in the Anelthalien series on Amazon.

Water Falling is also available in a hardcover, special edition (pictured above) that is absolutely gorgeous! It’s full of extra content like a behind-the-scenes look at H.A. Pruitt’s creative process and a chapter from book four! I’m so glad that I chose to get the hardcover. Getting to see the process behind the creation of the story makes it that much more special ๐Ÿ’™

Be sure to follow H.A. Pruitt on Instagram and YouTube!

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Next week, it’s time for a writing update! I’ll be sharing a sneak peek into my next book. This story has been a long time in coming, so I’m really overjoyed that it’s time to start sharing this new world with you!

Until then,

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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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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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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Adventures in Junk Journaling!

For the past few months, I’ve been exploring the world of junk journaling, and it’s become one of my favorite creative projects! I thought it would be fun to share my progress ๐Ÿ™‚

One of the things I love about junk journaling is the way it takes items that people might otherwise consider to be trash.

Things like torn paper, old cardboard, bits of twine or lace.

Things that people take one look at and think, “Unusable. Past the point of usefulness or worth.”

These broken things become part of a bigger piece of art, and suddenly, they’re striking and beautiful and inspiring.

The more time I’ve spent making this junk journal, the more I’ve realized how the process mirrors God’s careful fashioning of us.

He takes these broken pieces that make up our lives, unafraid of their sharper edges, and He remakes them into something radiant and new.

Suddenly, we’re beautiful. Suddenly, we’re part of a bigger, God-fashioned work of art, and we get to see how those pieces we thought were useless come together to make the artwork precisely what it was meant to be all along.

When I discovered this craft, I never anticipated the way God would use it to help me know Him better, but I am so grateful He did.

What’s something unexpected that God’s shown you lately?

I’m heading back to junk journaling and writing for now, but I’ll be back here on Friday to share a writing update and my review of Starganauts by C.E. Stone!

Alexandria

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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.