GUEST POST & GIVEAWAY: Author Kadee Carder

I am participating in a compilation devotional project. Each author has chosen a fantasy author or popular book series and will write devotionals based on those. I chose “The Maze Runner” series. Below is one of the devotionals included in my selection:

Everybody Needs a Chuck

What’s the difference between humility and self-deprecation? Can an audacious someone also be humble? And in the Maze Runner, why did Thomas care so much about Chuck?

Think of the famous warriors we study from the stories of old – the legends, the rulers, the patriots, the freedom fighters – and what picture do you draw? What adjectives would you provide to describe them? Bold. Fierce. Strong. Valiant. Brave. Would you ever say, “humble”? Would that be a first-word choice?

Humility has four definitions:

  1. Not proud or arrogant; modest
  2. Having a feeling of insignificance or inferiority
  3. Low in rank, importance, status, quality; lowly
  4. Courteously respectful

Humility shows up all over the place in the Bible. Deuteronomy 8:2-3 reminds, “Remember that the Lord your God led you on the entire journey these forty years in the wilderness, so that He might humble you and test you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep His commands. He humbled you by letting you go hungry; then He gave you manna to eat, which you and your fathers had not known, so that you might learn that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”

We find our true selves in times of trouble. God provides these opportunities to let us see who we are and who we can be. He also allows us to see his provision as our Shepherd. He allows us to see what we can be and whose we are. He loves us enough to allow us to become stronger; and remember he’s there with us the entire time. This builds our reliance on him, teaching us those hard-learned, hard-earned lessons of trust, faith, and humility.

The Jews for Jesus website offered a unique take on the idea of humility. “In the Bible, the most common word group displaying the meaning of humble uses the related words ‘ani’ and ‘anav’. ‘Ani’ usually denotes a condition of circumstance. Those who are ‘ani’ are suffering or afflicted and as a result find themselves in a lowly condition, whether physically, materially or socially. This affliction is often imposed by someone else: usually, the wicked…There is a related verb, ‘anah’ (to “humble”) that not only refers to what one might do to one’s enemies but also to what one does to oneself as a spiritual practice or what God uses to bring about repentance (Deuteronomy 8:2-3)… Often, being an ‘ani’ in circumstance leads to being an ‘anav’ in character…The difference between the two is that the ‘ani’ is needy and must depend on God to meet his or her needs; the ‘anav’ is humble because he or she has chosen to depend on God. The first is circumstantial; the second is a mark of character.” (Rich Robinson)

***

Part of the plot of Maze Runner was that the boys in the Glade were gifted, and placed intentionally within the program to see which of their attributes would be the perfect, precise mix of abilities to survive despite the worst odds. The boys’ memories were wiped, and they were planted with specific drops of memories to attend the Glade with them, along with new names. The names were given based on historical people of influence.

“So…Thomas,” [Chuck] said through a huge bite of mashed potatoes. “Who am I nicknamed after?”

Thomas couldn’t help shaking his head–here they were, about to embark on probably the most dangerous task of their lives, and Chuck was curious where he’d gotten his nickname. “I don’t know, Darwin, maybe? The dude who figured out evolution.”

“I bet no one’s ever called him a dude before.” Chuck took another big bite, and seemed to think that was the best time to talk, full mouth and all. “You know, I’m really not all that scared…I mean, last few nights, sitting in the Homestead, just waiting for a Griever to come in and steal one of us was the worst thing I’ve ever done. At least now we’re taking it to them, trying something” (324). 

Chuck was not well-liked among the Gladers. He was not on the council, he was not a leader, he did not draw the crowds in with his star personality and ruggedly handsome good looks. Chuck did not seem to belong in The Glade. Newt adapted well, ready to try ideas, a friend to the willing, and courageous in his tasks. Minho followed orders, used his strength and perseverance to run his course, and obviously had a memory of stone, capable of learning and memorizing in a snap. Thomas had his audacity, his willingness to run farther and faster, and his loyalty. And Chuck? Chuck was a bit clumsy, a bit annoying, and scared. He wasn’t quick. He wasn’t quick-witted. He waited for instructions. He lacked leadership capability. He lacked skill; he picked up the trash.

But Chuck was Thomas’ friend when everyone else looked away.

Chuck believed in Thomas from the start.

Chuck believed life could and would be better.

Chuck gave Thomas a reason to want to survive. Chuck inspired Thomas to take the hard steps, because Chuck was worth helping.

Perhaps Chuck’s greatest gift was his humility. His meekness. His simplicity. He didn’t require perfect people and circumstances; he didn’t demand more from others; he didn’t seize attention and commodities. He did his job. He stayed the course. He took courage when necessary.

“Chuck’s pudgy face was there, staring with frightened eyes. But then they lit up and a smile spread across his face. Despite it all, despite the terrible crappiness of it all, Chuck smiled” (298).

So you see, we all need a Chuck. We need a friend who can smile even during the grievances. When the grief comes, where’s your Chuck? Are you Chuck?

Let’s go back to those four definitions of humility:

  1. Modest
  2. Awareness of smallness
  3. Awareness of rank
  4. Courteously respectful

Humility is not simply lacking in pride; humility is not simply thinking less of self. Humility has many layers. Humility has a lot of intention. Modesty protects; smallness realizes bigness of others; rank recognizes there are those above and those below; and courteous respect treats all with dignity. Humility serves the leader in his power so that he sees the significance of each member of his tribe. Humility serves the follower in that he knows his worth.

Charles Darwin was known as a leader in the scientific community of his day; he was the man who made popular the idea of, “survival of the fittest.” The Creators of the Maze must have seen in Chuck the necessary characteristics to inspire warfare and survival. They understood what made humans motivated the most: life and love. They saw in Chuck this ability to befriend and build up, a scarce commodity in times of trouble.

In these days where almost everyone has a platform and the opportunity to make a staunch position, sometimes the best is the calm, quiet one. Being willing to accept that every leader follows another reminds even the smallest of us that the quiet smile serves as inspiration for even the most courageous of hearts. We all need a Chuck at our side in the halls of the maze. We all need a Chuck to follow along. We all need a Chuck to inspire us to lead.

Even if you’re the Thomas, or the Newt, the Minho, Teresa, or even the Gally…everybody can be a Chuck. He’s a gift. A rather scarce commodity. And one of the most valuable of them all.

*** Follow @kadeecarderink on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, to see updates on when this devotional book releases. Each devotional of my selection has application questions for you to dive in to your own maze running abilities

Interview

Hey, Kadee! Thank you so much for those thoughts. And thank you for being back on my blog today. First, I want to ask about the inspiration behind your book series.

The particular book I am offering for a giveaway today is called, “Kingdom Come,” which is a non-fiction inspirational book I wrote almost simultaneously with my fifth science fiction adventure, “Earthshine.”

Through the multi-year process of writing my five-book series, I experienced every emotion a human can endure, and most of them were the dramatic ones – rejection, frustration, depression, the cliché blood, sweat and tears, betrayal, loneliness, and fatigue.

The book industry is a challenging one. As Moriah Peters wrote it, “No one ever told me / This would be easy / But I never knew / That it could be this hard.” So as I found myself stumbling, questioning what I had spent about ten years working toward, I did some seeking. I took several mindset course, spent many hours praying, walking in the sunshine, and “Kingdom Come” is the result of the questions I asked in the darkness.

“Earthshine” tells the story of Saylor getting back up again, while “Kingdom Come” is the guidebook to the mindset we need when we are required to rise from the ashes.

I don’t have all the answers—we each have a unique journey—but I think “Kingdom Come” will serve as a field guide for anyone going through trials of their own. It digs into the lies we tell ourselves, embracing the truth, and deciding to be an overcomer despite all odds.

I love this idea…of a parallel journey almost, between you and your Saylor character. You’re right, this whole writing/publishing/marketing journey is not for the faint of heart.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I worked as an office manager at a church after college. I enjoyed the job but also felt like something was missing as I folded bulletins, placed offering envelopes in chairs, and checking off role sheets.

I started a blog and complained on it A LOT and one of my friends noticed my struggle. She simply told me to read the book, “Walking On Water,” by Madeleine L’Engle. I did, and the book changed how I viewed my life.

I decided to get my Master’s Degree, and when I saw that Creative Writing was an option, it’s like I came awake for the first time. Poetry began to flow out of me, stories began to take shape, and I realized I could do the things my heart ached to do, starting one step at a time.

Now I teach English at Liberty University online, I am a fitness instructor at my local gym, I have written five amazing adventure books, and I write articles for the local school district.

I get to tell stories of underdogs, I get to help others become stronger, and I get to help others communicate better. Words and writing make life sparkle for me; I just had to find the outlets for it that suited me and that required some heartbreak in the process.

I love this story about your journey to where you are now! Can you tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.

I took the photo on the cover of Kingdom Come. My husband and I like to take the week of the Fourth of July to go hiking in the mountains. One year we went and explored Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.

This staircase showed up along a trail, so visitors could view the waterfall from a clear spot, and as the sun meandered through the sky, dwindling over the mountaintops, the peacefulness of it all registered in me. I wanted to remember that moment of adventure, peace, and hope forever. This earth, this life, truly is our kingdom come.

As I worked with editors on the cover choices, looking at stock photos and trying different elements, this photo continually won the choice. It’s a little gritty, it’s authentic, it’s taken from a place of exploration, which captures the heart of “Kingdom Come.”

Thank you again, Kadee, for being on the blog…for your sharing your devotional post and for answering a few of my questions. Now, I’ll let my readers get a look at Kingdom Come and Earthshine!

Kingdom Come

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Opt in for an adventure to discover purpose, tenacity, and to build your empire. Are you stuck? Questioning your purpose? Are you tired, broken, and hurting in the stale crumbs of the daily grind? Even the most ordinary of humans can do impossible things. The elements of storytelling are tools to help us understand our purpose and to build a life greater. Here we discover the three protocols every hero satisfies in order to fulfill the mission. You’re the hero in your own story. Transforming into the hero may be the most difficult thing you’ve ever done, but it will be the best thing you’ve ever done. Within these pages, discover the ultimate objective in understanding and experiencing the combined unity of these three tools in your hero story. Get ready to travel the vast horizon of the hero plot line and forge new paths toward your legacy.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Crucible: a situation of severe trial, or in which different elements interact, leading to the creation of something new (Merriam-Webster.com). What’s your crucible? Are you there?

My kids and I dove into a Bible story the other day, where God rescued his people from Pharaoh’s impending doom. He’d rescued them from slavery in Egypt, and Pharaoh allowed them to leave captivity. The people left, headed home, facing days and nights in the hot desert, following a pillar of fire toward the unknown. They ended up on the sands of the Red Sea, a body of water flowing for miles in both directions. And then Pharaoh and his 600 men and their raging chariots raced to recapture them. The Israelites freaked out then, as I think most of us would. They projected their fear, they cried, they whined. And God replied, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground” (Exodus 14:15-16).

Essentially, God told Moses to tell the Israelites they couldn’t go over it. They couldn’t go under it. They couldn’t go around it. They had to go through it. And to stop whining.

Just like the classic picture book of “We’re Going On A Bear Hunt,” the adventurers had to face a challenge bigger than they understood.

You, oh incredible wayfarer, will face challenges bigger than yourself and bigger than you understand. It’s the plight of mankind. It’s your job. Don’t ask, “Why isn’t this easier?” Ask instead, “How can this make me better?”

The good thing about these challenges is that they make us into our best selves. Challenges aren’t just part of the story; they’re the story.

Buy Link

Amazon

Earthshine

Fear may be a liar, but hope can be a monster.
Saylor single-handedly saved the world from a devastating solar flare…and it nearly killed her. Now her father’s Alliance Military Guard must track down pirated tech, missing ships, and a rogue billionaire, and they’ve requested a reluctant Saylor’s help.

Tucker spent a year training the rookie Guardsmen. They call themselves Dragons. He calls them defiant. Dispatched across the ocean on a mission to retrieve AMG’s bootlegged tech, he rallies Saylor to overcome her fears and return to the field by his side. 

Working together wielding unprecedented tech and determined to defy their destinies, the two wrangle missing ghosts, brunt force betrayal, and the swagger of power. What lies beneath the earth just might save it.

Standing on top of the world changes a person. So does dying.

Buy Link

Earthshine will be $0.99 from May 31st – June 7th!!!!

Amazon

More About the Author

Fierce yet sparkly, Kadee rallies seekers to thrive in their stories. The goal is magic, the medium is ink, and the fuel is coffee. And sometimes pizza. Kadee teaches English on the university level when she’s not dancing around the living room with her family, lifting heavy at the gym, traveling the planet, or binging superhero shows.

INSURRECTION, INCOMPLETE, INDELIBLE, HERE BE DRAGONS, EARTHSHINE and non-fiction inspirational KINGDOM COME roll out perilous motives, twisty plots, and daring protagonists. Grab some real estate and your copy of my latest adventure and follow along on KadeeCarder.com.

Connect with Kadee and her works

Visit http://www.kadeecarder.com for inspiration, encouragement, freebie codes, and more!

Let’s connect on social media!

Website: kadeecarder.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kadeecarderink/

Instagram: kadeecarderink

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAkYQcShpWHBua-7VVi9Swg

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Twitter: @kadeecarderink

And please feel free to subscribe for encouraging blogs! Kadeecarder.com

I’m giving away a free, empowering e-book to those who subscribe to my email list at kadeecarder.com/subscribe. Titled IGNITE, the 60-page book offers a serving of inspiration, a dash of hope, and a cup of grace to help you get kickin’ on those challenging tasks you’ve got to do!

Giveaway

Kadee is offering a print copy of Kingdom Come to one winner (in the continental United States). Please follow the directions on the Rafflecopter below.

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INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Author Dana Mentink

I have a fabulous, award-winning author for you to meet today. And is she ever prolific! Author Dana Mentink has joined me today on my blog to share about her release and is offering a giveaway as well as talking about her process! Let’s jump right in…

Welcome to the blog, Dana! First, can you tell us a little about your novel?

Danger on the Ranch is a romantic suspense novel set on the California coast. Hero Mitch Whitehorse is a loner since he put his serial killer brother in prison, but things are about to change when Wade escapes and returns to settle the score.

Whoa…a serial killer brother!? You’ve got this Law & Order enthusiast’s attention. What was the inspiration for Danger on the Ranch?

I read a non fiction book about a woman who was married to a serial killer and had no idea what he was up to. I wondered what kind of impact that would have on a person’s psyche, and how they could triumph over that terrible situation.

I have to say, that thought has crossed my mind, too. But not for long enough to birth a story…I am intrigued!

Tell me, did you always want to be a writer? If not, what did you want to be when you were a child?

I wanted to be an Olympic ice skater, and a circus clown. Now I am a third grade teacher and a writer, so that wasn’t even close!

Circus clown? That’s different. I loved watching ice skaters when I was young! When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve always been a story teller. My fifth grade teacher really encouraged me to write fiction and I’ve been doing it ever since!

I know you know this…The beginning to end of putting a book out into the world is not all fun and games…as with pretty much any occupation, there are things we writers would rather pass off to someone else if we could. What part of the writing process do you dread?

Writing a synopsis is like crawling over glass. It’s just a nasty, ugly process to strip down a story to the bare bones. I usually wind up cleaning out closets and reorganizing the spice cupboard to avoid this job.

It can be a bear! Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer?

Read, read, read. The best writers are passionate readers.

Sound advice…

I usually “set the mood” for my extended writing sessions…music included. What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

Not a thing. I need quiet or I can’t get anything on the page.

That seems to be the majority of writers I encounter…

Do you have a favorite time of day to write? What about a favorite place?

If I can sit in my garden, early in the morning and bang away on the keyboard, I’m a happy camper!

Tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.

The series follows the men and women who work on or around the Roughwater Ranch. They are unofficial siblings. This was very special to write, as I am also a third grade teacher and I’ve seen so many “unofficial” families that are just as loving and caring as biological families. Our God given capacity to love one another is breathtaking.

What a wonderful thread to hold a series together!

Do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?

I write three books a year for Love Inspired Suspense. I also write ebooks for Forget Me Not Romances, and I’m looking forward to clacking away on a mystery series idea.

Fabulous! That is just amazing how prolific you are! Thank you so much, again, for being on the blog and sharing about yourself and your books. Well…I won’t linger too long, I want to give my readers the chance to dive into the featured work, Danger on the Ranch, the excerpt, and the other wonderful things below! So, here goes…

Danger on the Ranch


A Roughwater Ranch Cowboys story

Her child’s life is on the line

After putting his serial killer brother in prison, former US marshal Mitch Whitehorse chooses a solitary country life—until his brother escapes. Now Mitch’s former sister-in-law, Jane Reyes, needs protection…for herself and the toddler she’s kept a secret. Mitch still isn’t sure of Jane’s innocence in his brother’s crimes, but to keep his nephew out of a killer’s grasp, trusting her is his only option.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Storm’s coming.

The illogical notion trickled again through Mitch Whitehorse’s gut as he surveyed the late afternoon fog choking the windswept cove. Strange, since there was no sign of a weather front moving in through the mist. He fingered the scar that grooved his cheek, the rough patch oddly numb, a dead spot courtesy of his brother. The occasional blurred vision and migraines were an additional reminder of how close he’d come to dying at Wade’s hand.

But it wasn’t so much the pain of having his occipital bone crushed or the resulting symptoms that stuck in his mind, it was his brother’s smile. Even when Wade was led from the courtroom after the guilty verdict which would send him to prison for two lifetime sentences, he’d been smiling right at Mitch, a smile of pure evil, cold as the grave, unrepentant, undefeated.

Rosie, the big roan mare, shifted underneath Mitch, probably wondering why they were standing on a bluff in the numbing fog, staring out at the crawling Pacific instead of sheltering from the February wind. They’d spent a full day moving a herd of cattle from one pasture to another and chasing down an ailing cow to administer medicine. Straightening, Mitch ignored the twinge in his back, courtesy of his days as a US Marshal and the fact that he was now a hardworking cowboy staring forty in the face.

Storm’s coming.

There it was again, the warning his instincts kept whispering in spite of what his eyes could see. 

Buy Link

Amazon

More About the Author

Dana Mentink lives in California where the weather is golden and the cheese is divine. Her family includes two teen girls (affectionately nicknamed Yogi and Boo Boo.) Papa Bear is retired from the fire department and he met Dana doing a dinner theater production of The Velveteen Rabbit. Ironically, their parts were husband and wife.

Dana is an American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year finalist for romantic suspense and a two time ACFW Carol Award winner. Her suspense novel, Betrayal in the Badlands, earned a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award. She is honored to write for Harlequin’s Love Inspired, Harlequin Heartwarming, and Harvest House Publishers. Besides writing, she busies herself teaching third grade. Mostly, she loves to be home with Papa Bear, Yogi, Boo Boo, a dog with social anxiety problems, a chubby box turtle and a feisty parakeet.

Connect with Dana and her books

Website –danamentink.com

Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/danamentink/

Twitter – @DanaMentink

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/authordanamentink/

YouTube – Author Dana Mentink

Instagram – dana_mentink

Giveaway!

Dana is offering a giveaway! She is offering a print copy or ebook of Danger on the Ranch (print in continental U.S. only). Please follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter below to enter:

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INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Author Sara Jane Jacobs

Welcome back, readers! And I am welcoming back another author for you today as well! Author Sara Jane Jacobs is sharing with us about her upcoming release, Season of Faith. And she has some wonderful extras for us as well! Including a peek at the cover! So, let’s dive in…

Thanks for being on the blog today, Sara! First, can you tell us a little about your upcoming release?

My new release (scheduled for June) brings everyone from the first story, Season of Hope, back to Nathan’s Mountain. What starts as a reunion full of joy and new beginnings will soon turn into tragedy.

We can’t have everything going smoothly, now can we? What was the inspiration for Season of Faith?

Although I was satisfied with the amount of closure at the end of book two, I had readers asking me if there would be a third book in the series. I told everyone that I was starting a new series that focused on Hannah who is mentioned in Season of Deception, as Eric’s former girlfriend. In the back of my mind I was entertaining the idea of something like a special Christmas novella to wrap up the story of Tyler and Amanda. (The story of Hannah had been rolling around in my head since 2006 and I needed to get it out!) In May of last year, I was well into writing that story when a song came on the radio that sort of threw me off track and started me thinking about Tyler and Amanda again. Although I was nearing the completion of Hannah’s Story, by August I completely switched gears because I had become convinced that there was definitely going to be one more Season and it needed to come first. So, that’s when I started on Season of Faith. Now readers will get better closure and I’ll feel like the story has closure as well. That’s the long answer, lol. The short answer is this song:

I like the long answer (and the short answer). I love how the creative mind works!

Did you always want to be a writer? If not, what did you want to be when you were a child?

No. When I was little, I was always fascinated by child actors and was about eleven when I decided that was what I wanted to be. Although I was painfully shy, when I started high school, I ventured out of my comfort zone to audition for plays at our community theater. That eventually led me to writing. To me, writing is like every part of making a movie and I love it!

So fun! I hadn’t thought of it like that, but that’s true.

But as much as we love writing, there are parts that we don’t love as much. What part of the writing process do you dread?

After I type that last sentence and my seemingly endless rounds of editing begin! It can be daunting when you’ve put all that time into getting the story out but you know it’s nowhere near finished.  Once I start working with my editor, I actually enjoy it because of the team work involved. I love reading her reactions and getting her suggestions along with the challenge of rewriting things to make them better. 

Neat. I, too, like getting my editor’s reactions. I love the feedback.

What are you currently reading?

Surrender Bay by Denise Hunter. I’m only on chapter three but this book drew me in quickly. I actually just picked up a copy from the library so my daughter could read it with me! I’m really excited about this book!

It always intrigues me when someone uses that phrase “it drew me in quickly.” I might have to give that a look.

I always set a “mood” when I write…just my process…music is a big part of that. What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

I mostly have the windows open so I can hear the birds but occasionally I will put on some classical (I can’t write if there are words!) Sometimes I will write a scene that has a song on the radio or in the background. I will pause the writing and start listening to a variety of genres for inspiration. So far, all of my books reference a song or hint at lyrics. Even Hannah’s Story.

I like it. Before I let you go, I have to ask–can you tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.

Hmm. Someone very unexpected is going to show up. It even caught me by surprise. This was not planned.

That is by far my favorite thing about writing—the surprise, the unexpected things that happen as the story unfolds for me, much like it will for my readers! Love it!

Thanks for being here with us, Sara. I’ve enjoyed our interview. But I don’t want to delay getting the readers to the details of your book and the fabulous excerpt below. So, here you go….

Season of Faith

Enjoy an Excerpt

Excerpt from Season of Faith.  Tyler and Amanda have just been talking about where they’ll go after they get married . . .

“Sounds perfect.” She welcomed his lips as they brushed across hers. His strong hands caressed her shoulders before wrapping around her. Nuzzling his neck as her cheek rested against his shoulder, she caught the faint scent of his cologne. This time she picked up on the notes of oakmoss, Brazilian rosewood, and juniper. Feeling like they had just made a small step toward reconnecting, now seemed like the right time to bring up her plans to return to modeling. “And since we’re not really sure when that is going to be, I’m thinking seriously about going back to New York.”

“Oh. Like, to visit?”

She lifted her head to monitor his reaction. “Um, I was thinking more like to live . . .  and model.”

His embrace loosened slowly and then it was gone as he released her.  Moving hands to hips, a puzzled look clouded his face, followed by a shake of his head. Dropping his gaze to the dusty floor, it seemed as if he was searching for a way to handle her announcement.

“Why?” was the only word that came out as he lifted his eyes back to hers.

She caught a glimpse of the slight twitch in his square jaw. Why did this have to be so hard? He had to know how much she loved him. And she knew he loved her. Yet emotionally, it felt like there was a canyon between them most of the time. How were they supposed to get across it and stay close without his deployments pulling them apart again and again? She’d eventually figure it out but while she was experimenting with different coping methods, she knew staying busy was what would work for her right now. 

“Because, I go a little crazy when you leave on deployments and I barely get to communicate with you. And I feel like I need a life besides the one where I’m constantly thinking about when I’ll be able to talk to you again.”

“Do you not want to do this?”

“Do what?”

“Get married?”

She threw her arms out to the side and let them drop as her words came out with a mix of anger and frustration. “Here we go again with that question! You haven’t exactly asked me to marry you yet!”

Tyler barely let a second pass before he reacted. “You know, what? You should go to New York. Go get your life back.”

Amanda froze. She lowered her jaw, and a tiny puff of air escaped her lungs with a muted, “Ha.” She was way too stubborn to let him see her cry right now. “That’s it, huh?” She nodded and her eyes locked with his. Their bright blue color had the power to melt her heart again and again. But not this time. “Okay, then.” The words came out with a quiet but fierce determination. With a single shake of her head, she stormed past him, secretly hating the fact that he didn’t stop her this time. Her determined strides had her out of the barn, across the stretch of pasture and almost to the house in just under a minute.

“Did you find him?” Her father stopped rocking as Amanda raced up the steps.

 Amanda pulled the screen door ajar, her voice trembling as she continued to hold back her tears. “No. The only person out in the barn is a stranger. I have no idea where Tyler is.” Rushing inside, she let the door close with its familiar squeak of the spring, followed by the slapping sound of wood on wood. As Amanda hurried through the den, her mother’s laughter echoed from the kitchen, fading behind her as she ran up the stairs to hide inside her old room.

A sob caught in her throat at the sudden memory of her last time in here; changing out of wet clothes after a playful fight out in the yard with Tyler over the water hose. Lowering herself onto the bed, she let the tears come as her head fell across the blue and yellow floral pillow sham. Rolling over on her side, her body shook with the cries she fought to keep silent.

Buy Links

Season of Hope FREE DOWNLOAD – HERE **MAY 3rd is the LAST DAY**

Season of Deception BUY HERE

Season of Faith – COMING SOON

More About the Author

Sara Jane Jacobs is an author of contemporary romance who makes her home in Pensacola, Florida. Her summer vacations in her father’s hometown of Franklin, North Carolina were the inspiration behind her first novel, Season of Hope. A few of the adventures of her characters on the fictitious Nathan’s Mountain outside of Bryson City give us a glimpse into some of her cherished childhood memories. While Jane loves the Florida sunshine and Pensacola’s sugar-white sand beaches, the Great Smoky Mountains hold a special place in her heart. She’s a mom to two, Nonni to four and shares her home with a family of felines.

Connect with Sara and her books

Website – https://sarajanejacobs.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/sarajanejacobsauthor

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GIVEAWAY!

Since Season of Hope is still be free for download today, Sara is offering to one (1) winner, the second book in the series – Season of Deception – as an ebook. Please follow the directions on the Rafflecopter below to enter:

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INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Author Brett Armstrong

Hello, readers…coming to you a bit later in the day. I have a returning author for you to “meet” again. Author Brett Armstrong is here, sharing about his newest release. And a special treat, he has some hand-drawn images of this world he has built narratively AND a giveaway! So, I won’t keep you from the post, but let you have at it:

Thanks, Brett, for being on the blog today! Can you first tell us a little about your new release?

It’s the first entry in a saga that revolves around two characters, Jason and Anargen, who live centuries from one another. Jason has a dark past he’s trying to escape and accidentally stumbles on an inn where the owner is telling a story about Anargen. Jason’s world is an early 20th Century society so they regard the stories from Anargen’s early 17th Century world as fables. But as he listens to the storyteller, he notices the teller himself doesn’t seem crazy. Or like he questions the reality of what he’s saying. Jason gets pulled into the very quest Anargen was on centuries before and their efforts to fulfill this quest span the length of the Quest of Fire series, gradually weaving together and building off one another.

ORIGINAL ARTWORK FROM AUTHOR BRETT ARMSTRONG: Ecthel Honorguardsman, tasked with protecting the Viceroy of Ecthelowall on the eve of a historic peace accord. Intensely loyal, they stick by their ruler no matter the cost to themselves or those in their way.

Wow! Just fascinating. What was the inspiration for THE GATHERING DARK?

This book had a kind of fun start. It began as an assignment in my high school creative writing class. We were told to write a three to five-page fairy tale retelling. My teacher was really accommodating for me, so what I wrote was a twenty-seven-page fusion of my favorite parts of Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and Chronicles of Narnia. I’ve re-written over and over and over since then. It looks very different, thankfully, from back then. The inspirations, still carry through, along with Biblical influences. I got the idea for swords that burn without being consumed from the account of Moses and the burning bush, for instance.

And this is why I so like your work…creative, imaginative, and has those recognizable Biblical influences.

Now, we know that the writing process is not all rainbows and sunshine. There are things we don’t all love so much. What part of the writing process do you dread?

Everything after release. Tolkien said it rightly when he released Lord of the Rings: “I am dreading the publication, for it will be impossible not to mind what is said. I have exposed my heart to be shot at.” It’s kind of nerve-wracking waiting to see whether people will love what you’ve written the way you did. Writing is like trekking through the mountains for me. During the writing I discover things much like a reader would. I’m also not much of a salesman, so getting the word out about my books isn’t my strong suit either.

So much agree with this. I discover with my characters and readers as I write. And I am not the promoter I could be either.

Here’ s a question for curiosity’s sake…what are you currently reading?

I’m in between reads, but I’m planning to start Jason Joyner’s Launch soon, which is a Christian superhero novel. I’ve been following him as an author and after all the excitement over Avengers: Endgame, I kind of wanted a little more superhero storytelling in my life.

Interesting….I am on a kick to watch all the Marvel superhero movies right now myself leading up to this weekend, when my husband and I will finally watch Endgame. It’s been interesting, this intense movie-watching of one genre…

Now, as my readers, know, I usually “set a mood” when I write with music and whatnot. What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

All different kinds. Classical, movie scores and soundtracks, Christian hymns and contemporary music, select classic and alternative rock, etc. While writing this I really like the sound of the Hunger Games: Sounds From District 12 and Beyond. There’s a lot of folk music in it with that Appalachian sound to it. Which having grown up in Appalachia seems like an obvious choice though it was more for the tonal quality. I feel like even when it’s a happy song, Appalachian music has a kind of somber almost melancholy edge to it. That tenuous balance between tragedy and triumph fits well with a lot of The Gathering Dark. I also really like TobyMac’s Move and Beyond Me for thematic reasons as well.

Neat. I typically do a lot of instrumental soundtracks and had my go-to mix. But recently have made a new mix for each book based on historical time/place.

What about your writing “atmosphere”? Do you have a favorite time of day to write? What about a favorite place?

My favorite time isn’t really a specific time of day, its’ that first instant when an idea hits me. Like really hits me and I can’t stop imagining how this bit of a scene or dialogue or sometimes whole chapters play out. I’ve never quite had writer’s block, but normal writing compared moments like those are almost like writer’s block by comparison. They can hit me anytime, anywhere. So long as I have the means to write everything down, that place and that time are my favorites.

How long does it take you to write a book?

It varies pretty wildly. I’ve written books in a few months, others I’ve refined for years. The Gathering Dark took about fourteen years from the first time I wrote about Anargen to holding all 424 pages in my hands. I believe God works everything out in His timing, and with books sometimes there is some essential element of what a book could be that is lacking when you first type “The End.” It’s kind of like making pottery. Every time you hit “The End” again after the first is like the clay spinning around and around, being shaped, reshaped, and ever so subtly adjusted till at last you have something more than the sum all it was composed from. I feel like that might be an “artsy” type answer, but writing is art. And craft. And a journey for reader and writer. Above all, it’s a phenomenal privilege, whether it takes a couple months or a decade and more.

It really is a journey…each time. Do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?

I keep a page with some select projects in the works on my website: https://brettarmstrong.net/works-in-progress/. I will say that in addition to those listed there, I’m closing in on finishing edits to my dystopian/sci-fi novel, Day Moon. I’m pretty excited for that because it’s the first time I’ve had expectations from readers. People ask when I’m going to be done with it and that’s a pretty great feeling. Even if it’s also terrifying, because I don’t want to let anyone down. For the record though, I think Veiled Sun is pretty special and works a lot like Empire Strikes Back for my Tomorrow’s Edge Trilogy.

Nice! Well, I appreciate you coming back on the blog and sharing more about your work and especially opening up about your newest release. I won’t ramble on here though, I bet my readers are eager to jump into the details and the excerpt!

Quest of Fire: The Gathering Dark

Jason is an expert at running from his past. When it catches up, he finds himself hiding in a peculiar inn listening to a tale from centuries past.

The story is Anargen’s, a teen who is pulled from all he loves to follow his oaths of loyalty to the fabled King of the Realms. Together with his mentor, Cinaed, he rides north on a special quest to mediate peace talks between ancient foes—the men of Ecthelowall and the dwarfs of Ordumair. Nothing goes as planned. Many on both sides of the dispute despise Anargen’s Order. Worse, an arcane evil has returned to the North. This “Grey Scourge” seeks to ruin the peace talks and ensure a lost treasure held by the dwarfs is never found by those for whom it is meant.

As Anargen’s story unfolds, Jason begins to wonder whether it is truly just a fable. He soon finds himself drawn into the conflict Anargen faced—a battle which has shaped and can destroy his world.

Enjoy an Excerpt

As much as Quest of Fire is epic fantasy and has adventure and action, I think this scene was among the most fun to write. There are layers of things going on here in both Anargen and his mentor Cinaed, with the backstory for Cinaed appearing in a novella that will release soon. It also inspired the song that became the theme music for the whole book (you can hear the melody in the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/embed/t3KEBnl7E80?rel=0).

Anargen ducked a low hanging tree limb. As he passed under it, he felt its gnarled branches rake over his back like fingers through hair. Spurring his horse on a little faster, he worked his way past the offending tree. Rain continued to fall on the stand of trees in a steady downpour. It was as though the Knights were walking through curtains of rain suspended before them rather than it simply falling from the sky.

After days journeying across a rolling plain of tall, verdant grasses, Anargen should have been glad for this forest. It was, after all, far more evocative of the home he’d left behind. Before entering it, however, the wind took on a boisterous bluster, buffeting them as if trying to push them back to the coast. Then came the rains, which persisted ever since. Today marked a full day of rain. A full day of rain in a wood lacking most of the beauty to which Anargen was accustomed. This stand of spindly ironwoods and other gangly trees was bereft of most of its leaves already. Coarse bushes and thorny vines filled out the spaces and complicated the passage. The scent of multi-flora rose was heavy here, almost sickly sweet.

Somewhere in the distance a limb broke loose and crashed with a muted cry to the ground below. Anargen wanted to spur his horse on faster, but the forest passage was too narrow.

At the head of a single file column, Sir Cinaed cut the path. Into the dark, he trilled the notes of a song.

“Will you be home, will our wait ever end?

What friend may we seek, for our hearts’ rends?”

Cinaed’s voice was clear and mellifluous, the best Anargen had ever heard. But the song was about a family waiting for a father who would never come home. It was the saddest song Walhonde’s mountains ever bore.

“When all our journeys’ ways mend,

Will you be home again?

Will you be home again?”

The songs words pierced between the plates of Anargen’s armor. Passing his mail coat unopposed to strike his heart. Memories of a fire, warm and low in his home’s hearth beset him. His father’s laughter as he told familiar stories with fresh mirth. Mother cooking a savory stew from the autumn garden gleanings.

Then there was something new to the scene. Seren’s smile. Her hand soft and sure in his own as they sat by the fire. It was no longer memory but a longing. Hiraeth. Cinaed’s song was more than words now, it was in his very bones.

Anargen shook his head and refocused his thoughts on where he was. In the unfamiliar wood, dark and cold, riding to the unknown. The storm masked the sky and only the luminance of their armor afforded any light.

Amidst the sea of dreariness, the rain drops sticking to their armor did not extinguish the faint flames. As the drops slid down, they glowed. Ahead, Sir Cinaed looked like a body of earthbound stars gliding through the ebon night.

Of a sudden, the song and stellar migration halted, hovering in wait. Sir Cinaed had reached a wider point in the path. The sound of rain striking the softened soil was like the roar of a small waterfall. Over it, Sir Cinaed boomed, “We’re only a mile or so from a village. We’ll stay there the night and head out tomorrow. Pair up so you don’t get lost, the path becomes rather winding soon.”

Buy Links

Amazon – ebook

Amazon – print

Barnes & Noble

More About the Author

Brett Armstrong has been exploring other worlds as a writer since age nine. Years later, he still writes, but now invites others along on his excursions. He’s shown readers hauntingly sorrowful historical fiction (Destitutio Quod Remissio), scary-real dystopian sci-fi (Day Moon), and dark, sweeping epic fantasy (Quest of Fire – April 2019). Where he heads next is as much a discovery for him as readers. Through dark, despair, light, joy, and everything in between, the end is always meant to leave his fellow literary explorers with wonder and hope.

Connect with Brett and his books

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/brettarmstrongwv

Twitter – https://www.twitter.com/BArmstrongWV

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/BrettArmstrongAuthor

Pinterest – http://www.pinterest.com/ChristianKid044

Website – https://BrettArmstrong.net

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8281587.Brett_Armstrong

YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/embed/t3KEBnl7E80?rel=0

GIVEAWAY

Brett is offering one copy of the Kindle version of Quest of Fire: The Gathering Dark one winner. Please follow the directions on the Rafflecopter below to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway