GIVEAWAY & GUEST POST: Author Brett Armstrong

Welcome all! I hope you are enjoying the arrival of Spring where you are in all it’s incarnations. As for me, it actually snowed here on the first day of Spring. Shouldn’t be surprised. We have a saying around here: “don’t like the weather? don’t worry, it’ll change in a minute”.

But I digress. I have another author for you to meet and some wonderful books to introduce you to. Author Brett Armstrong is with me today on the blog talking about writing Christian fiction. Such an interesting post. His books are also featured as well as…a GIVEAWAY!! So, I’ll step out of the way and let Brett take the stage for a bit.

Guest Post

by Brett Armstrong

The past couple weeks I’ve been hit with a heavy dose of introspection. It’s a conjunction of things that triggered it really and I mostly blame the internet. I have this uncanny ability to find the most awful battles on it and right in the crosshairs recently was a cherished element of my worldview, Christian fiction. As you may have seen from my bio, I’m a Christian and as a writer, invariably, that all-defining aspect of who I am filters into my work. Very early on in my writing career, I decided to not try to bury my faith or utterly ignore it as some writers seemingly do (you might be surprised which “secular” authors are Christians).

I tend to be a very logic driven person. I like for things to make sense, so if I get a whiff that something I’m convinced of doesn’t make sense, I kind of go into an internal huddle and start trying to sort things out. So, I set to work untangling things for myself. Most of all, I had to answer a question: Why do I write Christian fiction? I haven’t always done so intentionally. What makes me feel compelled to do so now? It certainly isn’t the favored genre of media, Western culture, or sales statistics. Those all make it very clear that Christian fiction and the faith that underpins it are marginal at best and illogical at worst.

I found myself fumbling a bit, because not only is my faith what guides my life, but it fuels my writing. I draw my purpose for writing out of my faith. You see, I believe that fiction writing, while entertaining and escapist as we may like it, ultimately owes the reader the opportunity to face aspects of reality within the world of the story, which seem too difficult to face in the real world. Stories should have a purpose, even if they seem to be fluff at first. It’s what keeps me writing after I get a wordless 2-star review and what keeps me from living for 5-star reviews. I thoroughly enjoy finding the latter, but it can’t be what defines a writer’s career nor a writer’s art nor a writer’s craft nor a writer’s purpose. As a writer, you’re going to have people picking at and disliking things that are very intrinsically tied to your being, as any artwork is, and when those storms hit, you have to be firmly grounded in the “why you write” to weather them.

I’ll try to spare the in-depth details of my inner monologue and hit the highpoints of my introspection. The first is, I decided I wasn’t going to give up on my faith. That’s huge. Never let anyone or anything diminish the significance of committing yourself to Christ. When you make that choice, everything else is defined in that context moving forward. Which means you have to be absolutely sure Christ is the real thing. It takes daily, purposeful seeking of the Truth. Like I said, I’m a logic-driven person so something arises as a challenge to my faith, I try to remember the Apostle Thomas, who initially doubted Christ’s resurrection. I seek help in Scripture and ask God to make sense of things for me. I’ve yet to find anything that can undo what God has done in me. Over time, I’ve also come to see things like Puddleglum from CS Lewis’s The Silver Chair, because logic and reason can be muddled and sometimes you must let the fog clear before committing or not committing to something: “I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia.”

The second major point of turning to keep me on the path to writing Christian fiction came from a post on the matter I read recently (see here). It references a study published in Psychology Today, which points out that the brain processes material read, much the same as it processes real experiences. Talk about validation. My writerly creed that fiction should prepare us to face the real world gained a biological backing! If what we read can shape who we are as readily as actual events, then it is of paramount importance that the stories I tend to write be told. My stories are about perseverance, standing strong in the faith even when it is difficult. So, if reading a story I’ve written encourages one person to “keep fighting the good fight of the faith”, then none of the tangential distractions should hinder me from doing the same.

If you stand where breakers roll into the coast for long enough, you’ll eventually get worn down. I think that is what happened to me recently. For a long time, I tried to stand on my own as I found attack after attack on not only Christian fiction, but the faith itself. I needed something to hold me up, something to refresh me. So now, you have the short of it. I found my place of rest on Christ Himself and the faith He sustains in me and in a not-so-subtle reminder that since the faith is true, telling the stories about it matters.

Interview

Thank you for those words. I found deep meaning in them as another writer of deep faith.

I like to start off asking fellow authors about their inspiration. It intrigues me. So, what was the inspiration for Day Moon?

My most recent book, Day Moon was initially inspired by a creative writing assignment that required us to go out and find people and events to fill a “writerly scavenger hunt”. It was raining that day so I was standing all alone under the portico of the English hall, looking out across the campus and I saw the library across the way. The English hall was built in classical Greco-Roman style on the outside, but the library was very modern with huge glass windows. Standing there in the dreariness and seeing its bright lights, I was struck by the contrasts I was experiencing. I started on the assignment’s completion, writing a story sketch about something we found in our hunt. Mine was a college student in the near-future, looking out on rainy day the library and waiting. The what, why, and all the questions that followed that moment became Day Moon.

It seems obvious now that many of the themes and motifs of the book are reflected in that single scene which eventually became the start to chapter one. Remnants of the past standing in conflict to progress, isolation…Most of my writing begins in the same way. A scene strikes me and if gripped tightly enough, I ask questions. Story-writing for me is exploring. Writers discover things I think and in writing act as guides so others can find the worlds they have uncovered. There’s a lot more that went into what became Day Moon, but it was that first glimpse of its world that got me to take the trek through it.

Interesting. I love this. Ted Dekker talks about writing as creating a “fictive bubble” in which the writer explores questions and thoughts about emotions and humanity in front of the reader. Your thoughts here remind me of that.

I always set the stage, if you will, for my writing sessions. Music is a big part of that as more often than not, I need some kind of instrumental music to help get my creative juices fired up. What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

I don’t always listen to music while writing, but when I do, I have a whole mixture of music that plays on shuffle, with certain songs tending to get me fired up to write different books. If I hear Clint Mansell’s “Lux Aeterna”, I think of book one in a fantasy series I’m writing. If I hear Toby Mac’s “Love Broke Through”, it’s book two of the same series. But if I hear Taylor Swift’s “Safe and Sound”, I jump right back into Day Moon’s world and series. The other music ranges in terms of effect on me, depending on whether the music is highlighting an underlying theme of each book. Music does a great job of taking big sentiments and putting them into very intensely focused experiences, which then fuels me to write about that same idea.

Overall, I tend to develop an affinity for a pretty wide range of songs and listen to them over and over again.

I agree. One art form fueling another…

Can you tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.

Day Moon is a dystopian book and it’s written very much in the vein of older works like 1984 and Fahrenheit 451. It’s not so much an action-adventure in a post-apocalyptic world as a look at what our world seems to be becoming. A warning of sorts. The tech and socio-cultural trends of the present are leading to a sort of dark place.

The book deals extensively with philosophical questions of reality and how we relate to and the uncounted costs of advancing technology. It was less obvious when I started writing the book, but thanks to the Russian Facebook election scandal is becoming something we are all becoming more aware of: what we find in the digital world might not be real. The problem is, even if we guessed that as a possibility before, we’re kind of like a person who has been put on life support. The apparatus breathing air into us has become something we depend on so much to make it, that we can scarcely be taken off. People shared knowledge, learned, and taught and preserved knowledge before the internet. But the internet has made it so easy to propagate ideas (and to thereby manipulate them) that we’ve lost the ability to protect truth and knowledge from perversion. It’s been generally established that mass misinformation spreads faster than truth over social media. We’re facing a crisis of where to turn for the truth and with the general distrust that’s been building in government, technology, etc. there’s a tremendous vacuum of authority building in the West. Something is going to fill it. Day Moon, which does have chases fights, and the like, tries to show what that world just down the road looks like.

Again, this is interesting, your perspective. I do think there is a lack of absolute truth for so much of our generation and the next. Because it has been watered down and redirected by so much misinformation. Not to mention moral relativism. People wonder what is truth? Does it exist? Or is there only the truth from a certain point of view?

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

I’m working on a number of things. The first draft of the sequel to Day Moon is nearing completion. It really extends a lot of the themes of the book and applies them to other burgeoning technologies while increasing the stakes both personally and externally for Elliott. That book, Veiled Sun, has been on a bit of a hold though, because I have the first book in an epic fantasy series, Quest of Fire, due out this June. Book one is The Gathering Dark and features a pair of very different teens living hundreds of years apart. The more contemporary teen, Jason, listens to the story of the other teen, Anargen. As the story goes, Anargen and his friends are caught up into a quest to mediate peace talks between two rival kingdoms. But something more is going on beneath the surface and the order of knights to which Anargen belongs is despised by both parties. There is also an arcane evil, believed to be a myth, fighting to ensure Anargen and his friends don’t find a lost treasure meant for them. As Jason listens to the fairy tale/legend, he finds himself wondering how true it is and inevitably being pulled into it as well. The series is definitely for those who like Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and Chronicles of Narnia.

So many things to look forward to. A fan of those series myself, I am intrigued.

Thank you so much for being on the blog, for your post and for giving us some great insight into your process. I look forward to hearing more about your books. And, readers, more information about the giveaway can be found below as well.

Day Moon

A.D. 2039, a prodigious seventeen-year-old, Elliott, is assigned to work on a global software initiative his deceased grandfather helped found. Project Alexandria is intended to provide the entire world secure and equal access to all accumulated human knowledge. All forms of print are destroyed in good faith, to ensure everyone has equal footing, and Elliott knows he must soon part with his final treasure: a book of Shakespeare’s complete works gifted him by his grandfather. Before it is destroyed, Elliott notices something is amiss with the book, or rather Project Alexandria. The two do not match, including an extra sonnet titled “Day Moon”. When Elliott investigates, he uncovers far more than he bargained for. There are sinister forces backing Project Alexandria who have no intention of using it for its public purpose. Elliott soon finds himself on the run from federal authorities and facing betrayals and deceit from those closest to him. Following clues left by his grandfather, with agents close at hand, Elliott desperately hopes to find a way to stop Project Alexandria. All of history past and yet to be depend on it.

 

Book Trailer

Enjoy an Excerpt

Minutes later, John was out of sight and Elliott and Lara were almost to the library. Lara finally spoke up. “So, looks like we’re trusting him after all, huh?”

“As much as we can,” Elliott responded, feeling his chest tighten. This wasn’t a pleasant conversation from the tone of Lara’s voice.

“We just gave him my car,” she stated, her voice as sleek and blunt as a baseball bat.

“To be honest it’s better if we don’t have your car anymore. They know we’re in the area. Terrance couldn’t have found us and the authorities remain in the dark.”

“You don’t know that. Maybe John tipped Terrance off.”

“I tipped Terrance off when I checked your phone,” Elliott answered, his voice low.

“Why did you by the way?”

“I just felt like I needed to.”

“You don’t trust me either.”

“No, I trust you, but… I don’t know what to think anymore. Everywhere I look there’s some kind of trap or clue to a puzzle I never meant to try to solve.”

“I guess I can understand that,” Lara said, a grimace on her face.

“Are you sure?”

“No, but I like you enough to give myself time to figure it out.”

Buy Links

Amazon *Day Moon is currently $0.99!!!

Also from Brett Armstrong

For decades, Roman Senator Marcus Servius labored to become a wealthy and admired patrician man. But now, his world is shattered. After he is exposed as a Christian during a time of intense persecution, his home, wealth, and prestige are stripped from him. The most painful loss of all is that of his beloved wife, Cassandra. Destitute and wary, Marcus prays he will be delivered from his enemies’ hands as he struggles to realize a new path.

In desperate need of help, Marcus disguises himself and embarks on a dangerous journey to find Benjamin Truvias, the leader of a hidden church and the man responsible for Marcus’s conversion. After Benjamin offers aid, Marcus’s life finally finds needed direction. Yet, the more he helps the church through persecutions, the closer he comes to finding who betrayed him. Caught in a maelstrom of intrigue and deception, should Marcus discover the awful truth of who caused his fall, he must choose between vengeance and forgiveness–a decision that will affect the fate of all the believers in Rome.

Destitutio Quod Remissio is the timeless epic tale of a man’s struggle to rebuild his life amid ancient Rome after he loses everything he loves and his faith is tested in ways he never imagined.

Amazon

More About the Author

Brett Armstrong, author of the award-winning novel, Destitutio Quod Remissio, started writing stories at age nine, penning a tale of revenge and ambition set in the last days of the Aztec Empire.  Twenty years later, he still tells stories enriched by his Christian faith and a master’s degree in creative writing.  His goal with every work is to be like a brush in the Master artist’s hand and his hope is the finished composition always reflects the design God had in mind.  He writes to engage, immerse, and entertain with deep, thoughtful stories. Continually busy at work with one or more new novels to come, he also enjoys drawing, gardening, and playing with his beautiful wife and son.

Connect with Brett and his books

Website: https://BrettArmstrong.net

Facebook: https://facebook.com/BrettArmstrongWV

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BArmstrongWV

GIVEAWAY

Author Brett Armstrong is offering, for one (1) winner, a copy of either of his works (Day Moon OR Destitutio Quod Remissio) AND a $5 Amazon Gift Card. Please follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter below to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

SPOTLIGHT & GIVEAWAY: Author Melody Delgado’s “Royally Entitled”

 

When her family’s cider business is ruined and other local businesses are vandalized, Anika Pembrie wonders if the recent bout of unrest is merely a result of rivalry between local merchants and noblemen or if something more sinister is at the root of the recent crimes. Along her journey Anika befriends Prince Valdemar, future king of Brevalia but their relationship hits many twists and turns along the way. Lady Winifred Paxel Flemming pursues the prince relentlessly. His grandmother, Queen Marguerite, expects him to wed whoever she thinks is suitable, even if it means marrying a foreign princess he’s never met. Anika’s mother, Lady Sarah, wants Anika to help ease the family’s financial burdens by marrying Erland Riccats, National Chairman of the Merchants’ Guild. Lady Sarah also harbors secrets regarding Prince Valdemar’s mother, Princess Karin, who met an untimely death years before. In the end, will both Anika and Prince Valdemar be forced into loveless mar-riages, or will they be able to outwit their enemies?

Enjoy an Excerpt

Chapter One

Miss Anika Penning glanced down from the top of the mulberry tree she’d climbed and stole a glimpse of Prince Valdemar riding past her on his white stallion. She held her breath, hoping he wouldn’t look up and catch her spying on him.

“Anika, we’re leaving,” Mr. Penning hollered from the back porch.

Botheration! She’d told her parents she wasn’t going to the fair with them.

As Prince Valdemar spurred his horse and dashed back and forth along the palace grounds bordering Anika’s property, she realized she couldn’t possibly emerge from the tree without being seen by him. But maybe, if she was fast enough, she could climb halfway down and then scurry off while he rode away in the opposite direction.

She began making her descent from branch to branch, while Finn, their ten-year-old stable boy, gazed up at her from the ground below.

“Oh, there you are, Miss Penning,” he called out to her. His clothing was stained with jam and his hair was a mass of unruly blond curls that had probably not seen a brush in days. “Your father’s been searching for you.”

“Tell him to leave without me,” she whispered, putting a finger to her lips. “I’m not going.”

“What’s that?” Finn shouted just as Prince Valdemar rode by again. “You’ll have to speak up. I can’t hear what you’re saying if you whisper.”

Was the boy really so thickheaded, or was he purposely trying to thwart her?

“Tell my father not to wait for me,” she said.

“He is waiting for you,” Finn hollered. “But don’t worry. Your mother said she needed another minute or two.” He strode toward the house.

Drat! He’d misunderstood her. “Finn! Wait!”

“We are waiting,” he said, turning back. “But since you’re going, I’ll stay behind to help with the chores.”

Anika opened her mouth to correct him, but he ran off before she could utter another word. Now she’d really have to hurry. Her father would just keep sending people to search for her if she tarried.

While the prince’s horse galloped off toward the palace, she climbed down to the lower branches. When she jumped from the bottom branch to the ground, she landed in a large pile of sticky, wet mulberries. She slipped, tried desperately to keep her footing but fell face forward right into another huge mound of moist purple fruit.

“Botheration,” she muttered, leaning up on her elbows. Her hands were stained with purple juice and her dress looked no better. She raked a hand across her face and ripped a gooey purple mulberry from her cheek as a pair of gleaming black leather boots strode toward her, and a horse whinnied from a few feet away.

No, no, no!

Anika maneuvered herself into a sitting position and dared to look up.

A tall young man with long, straight, copper-colored hair stood over her. Prince Valdemar, obviously trying to stifle a laugh, but failing, extended a hand to help her up. “I’ve always found it difficult to climb trees while wearing a gown and silk slippers. Why don’t you try and stand? Then we can determine whether or not to fetch a doctor.”

She sat in the sludge, staring up at him, unable to speak. Good thing she hadn’t fallen far enough to be badly hurt. It was her pride that was wounded, that was all.

While he took hold of her hand, she pushed off the ground and stood up. She staggered forward a few steps, feeling slightly off balance at his touch. Maybe she had injured herself somehow.

He furrowed his brows as he watched her stumbling about. “Perhaps we should get help.”

Once she stepped away from the mulberries and was on firm, un-littered ground, her walking returned to normal. “No need,” she said, finally. “It was just the berries. They’re slippery when squished.”

A small laugh escaped from him. “Ah. That might be a good thing to keep in mind for future endeavors.” He looked up into the tall branches towering above him. “Do you often climb trees?”

Anika looked him over from the top of his blue velvet cap to his creamy white linen tunic and down to his polished leather boots. He was impeccably groomed. Several servants had probably helped him dress. He even smelled like limes.

If she were to admit that she did partake of such unfeminine activities as climbing trees, he might then correctly assume that she liked fishing and hunting as well. These pursuits certainly didn’t leave her smelling anything like fresh fruit. But, better to be honest, she decided.

“Well, uh, yes, I’m afraid I’ve not yet outgrown my desire for such pursuits.”

“How old are you?”

“Seventeen.”

The prince raised his eyebrows. “Interesting …” He glanced around at the flowers and plants surrounding them. “Well, it’s certainly a lovely day to be out of doors.”

Anika wondered if he was merely being kind by staying and chatting with her or if he was always so friendly. Perhaps he wanted to alleviate her embarrassment by making it seem as if falling out of a tree and landing in a pile of mulberries was a normal everyday occurrence.

He was quiet for a moment, squinting as he looked at her face. “I don’t believe we’ve met. Allow me to introduce myself. Valdemar Dresden, at your service.” The prince bowed elegantly. “And to whom do I have the pleasure of speaking?”

“Oh, uh,” her hands began smoothing the old brown linen dress she’d worn to blend into the tree. When she realized there was nothing she could possibly do to improve her appearance, she stood tall and curtsied. “Miss Anika Penning. Thank you for your kind assistance. Perhaps one day I’ll be able to help you.”

Prince Valdemar snickered and looked down at the ground.

“Do you mock me because, in your ignorance, you think you won’t ever need anyone’s help,” Anika said, folding arms across her chest. “Or because you think that someone like me would never be able to assist you with something you might need assistance with?” Her voice grew faster and louder as she spoke.

He stared at her, eyes wide, as if she were a six-headed dragon.

“Anika!” Mr. Penning called again.

Prince Valdemar slowly backed away from her. “I do believe that’s my cue to depart.” He hopped back on his horse and rode off before she could utter another word. He hopped back on his white stallion and rode off before she could utter a word of thanks.

Anika realized it was time to make her prayers a bit more specific. “Dear Lord,” she said, looking up at the heavens. “If I ever get the chance to meet the prince again, may I please not be covered in mulberries?”

A light breeze blew a tuft of hair across her face. She tucked a wayward strand behind her ear and caught sight of the purple stains on her hand. What a fright she must look. And her father was waiting.

She rushed to the well in the back yard, buried her hands in a bucket of water, and cleaned up as best she could. Then she grabbed her hat from the ground and raced around the house to the front lawn.

Her father sat atop the box of their carriage, grasping the horses’ reins.

“I’m sorry, Father, but I won’t be able to join you,” Anika said in a rush.

“Are you sure? The agricultural fair comes but once a year.” The beige color of his farmer’s hat and tunic blended into his skin, making him look old and tired.

Anika knew he was in sore need of a day off. “Please go enjoy yourself,” she said, donning her felt hat and adjusting the brim to block out the early morning sun. “I’ll stay behind and tend to the animals.”

Her mother rushed out of the house wearing a crisp green linen dress. “Pray for our cider to win first place at the fair,” she said, hurrying past Anika and climbing into the waiting carriage. When she leaned out the window to wave goodbye, she caught sight of Anika’s stained dress and frowned. “What happened? Never mind. I don’t want to know. How on earth can we possibly trust you to stay home alone if this is how you’ve decided to start the day?”

Anika took a deep breath. “Please, Mother. Let me stay home. I fell, that was all. Westlowe is only a short distance away. You’ll be back well before supper. What could possibly go wrong before then?”

“Plenty, I’ll bet,” her mother uttered under her breath, though Anika still heard her. Aloud she said, “We’ll see you later this afternoon, then.”

Anika’s father whipped the horses into motion.

A horse-drawn wagon, carrying kegs of cider, rolled slowly behind. The farmhands, Bertram and Victor, sat on the perch, while Una, the housekeeper, and Inga, the cook, sat in the rear amidst the straw, keeping watch over the precious barrels of liquid.

“I didn’t have time to gather the eggs, Miss Penning.” Una whispered, picking hay off of her black linen dress, with her long thin hands.

“Do not fret,” Anika said. “Finn offered to stay behind and help with the chores. If he doesn’t get to it, I promise I will.”

“Where is that good-for-nothing, anyway?” Inga scolded. “I doubt you’ll get much help from him!” Her double chin shook and her gray hair tumbled out of her white cap. “He’s probably eating us out of house and home as we speak. Stable boy, my foot, lazy hanger-on more like.”

The wagon picked up speed. “We’ll have everything sorted out by the time you get back,” Anika said, waving.

Once the carriages rolled past the iron gates, Anika rushed to the barn. “Finn!” she shouted. “They’ve gone. Time to help with the chores.”

Finn strolled out slowly from one of the stalls, holding a biscuit in his grimy hands. “You’re here. What do you need my help for?” He bit into his biscuit and munched slowly.

Anika placed her hands on her hips. “Oh, no you don’t. I’m willing to help with the chores so Father and the servants can take the day off, but you’ve got to clean out the horses’ stalls like you always do. Then you’re to milk Blossom and gather the eggs.”

Finn swallowed the last bite of biscuit. “And what will you be doing?”

Insolent child! As if she was accountable to him. “I’ll tend to the animals, but I’ve got more than enough of my own work to do, thank you very much.”

“Oh, of course you do. Prince Valdemar’s going to the ball.” He made kissing sounds with his lips. “And look at you. Ha! You’re right. It’ll take loads of work to get yourself ready to be around any man, let alone a prince.” Finn laughed heartily, pointing at the purple stains all over Anika’s clothing. “Is that why you were spying on him? So you can see what he looks like all grown up and then run up to him and beg him for a dance?”

Anika glared at him. She had been spying on the prince so she would know what he looked like, but it was none of Finn’s business.

Finn folded his hands and held them beneath his chin. “Please, Prince Valdemar, dance with me, pick me,” he said in a high-pitched voice.

“Enough already, you’ve made your point,” Anika scolded.

Finn was right about one thing, though. She did need to use her free time to get ready for the upcoming ball. It was only a few short weeks away. She grabbed the shovel and handed it to him.

“At your service, Your Royal Highness,” he said, bowing elegantly and mocking her.

Anika took no heed. She hurried to feed the pigs and sheep, though dung littered the ground and maneuvering through it slowed her down. No matter how hard she tried, it seemed the stench of the barn — a mixture of hay and manure — was something she’d never get used to.

When she finished with the animals, she wiped her brow and saw that the shovel that Finn had been using was now resting against the wall. She trudged over to the horses and checked their stalls. Though Finn’s work was completed, there was no sign of him. Botheration! He couldn’t possibly have gathered the eggs and milked the cow already.

Anika had promised to collect the eggs, so she trudged to the small wooden chicken coop that sat next to the barn, quickly gathered a dozen and placed them in her basket.

She trudged back to the barn hoping to find Finn milking Blossom, their sturdy white cow, but once again, he was nowhere to be found. She sighed wearily upon discovering Blossom’s heavy udders and wandered off to gather a pail and a trusty wooden three-legged stool. No use hoping for Finn’s return. Her least favorite job would have to be done.

She placed some hay in front of Blossom, to distract her, and then gave her udders a quick wipe down with a wet cloth to wipe away any dirt. As she sat pulling and squeezing Blossom’s underbelly, she remembered her mother asking her to pray for their cider to win first place at the fair. So, she sent up a silent prayer for God to work on their behalf.

With a closet full of worn and faded dresses, Anika was well aware that her family only stayed afloat financially because of the tasty cider they made from the apples growing in their orchard. Her father entered it in various contests throughout the year, which provided the family with a bit of prize money now and again. Since they could then make the claim that their cider was “prize-winning”, they sold every last drop of it each season.

Anika was finally finished milking Blossom and rushed upstairs to her bedroom to wash and change. Then she pulled her mother’s sparkling pink satin dress from the wardrobe and gingerly placed it atop a basket of soiled clothes. She wasn’t one for wearing frilly gowns, but this frock was different. She loved the elegant creamy panels of lace in the sleeves and finely embroidered floral designs at the neckline and hem. It only needed minor adjustments to fit her, but since it had been hanging unused in her mother’s closet for some time, it needed a quick wash to freshen it up. So, she lugged the dress, and all her laundry down the long staircase.

Una, their housekeeper, had always done the wash, but Anika had recently taken to scrubbing her personal items herself, along with her sheets and coverlet. Una had enough to do already and Anika had the time. Besides, there was something disconcerting about Una touching her lace-trimmed knickers and scratchy petticoats one moment, and then calling her “Miss Penning” a few minutes later. Especially, since at thirty-four years of age, Una was twice as old as Anika. But formality was the order of the day, it seemed.

When Anika reached the kitchen, she grabbed a bar of goose grease soap, washed her dirty laundry in a large tub of water, then hung everything out to dry on the branches of some shrubs growing behind the barn.

Her back ached from her efforts, so she went for a lazy stroll, stretching her arms wide and weaving her way through the rows of sweet-smelling apple trees, which grew in the orchard. Bees buzzed near the fruit that had fallen onto the leaf-covered ground below. Birds whistled overhead. A warm breeze swept through the deep green leaves, while white puffy clouds floated above, along the powder blue sky. It was a perfect early autumn day.

Most of the apples had already been picked to make cider, but she found a green one hanging on a low branch, picked it, rubbed it against the folds of her blue linen dress and bit into it. The sour juice, which she’d grown used to over time, was a source of welcome refreshment after her labors, and she savored every bite.

There were still many hours left in the day, so she wondered what else she could do with her free time. Her fingers ached for a few rounds of target practice with her crossbow. Though her father allowed it, the use of weapons wasn’t considered a suitable pastime for females living in Brevalia. It wasn’t illegal, merely frowned upon. Still. What a nuisance it was to only be able to practice when no one else was about.

She ran upstairs to snatch her weapon from beneath her bed, then wandered back outside, grabbed some rotten apples from the ground and lined them up along the top of the wooden fence that ran along the side garden.

She loaded a bolt, raised her bow, aimed and pulled the trigger. The bolt pierced the center of the apple, sending it sailing several feet before it fell to the ground. All but three of the remaining apples met the same fate. She hadn’t had many chances to practice, but she hadn’t lost her touch.

The bolts that missed their marks landed near some rose bushes growing along the edge of the house. Anika inhaled the flowers’ fragrant scent while she bent down to collect the errant bolts. Once she’d gathered them, she loaded her crossbow again, aimed at an apple, but stopped before pulling the trigger. A small breeze had started to blow, carrying a foul odor with it. The air suddenly smelled like a blackened cake that had been left in the oven too long. Something was burning.

She threw down her weapon and ran around the perimeter of the house, searching frantically for the source of the smell. When she reached the orchard she stopped in her tracks. The trees growing along the outer edge were engulfed in red flames!

Buy Link

Amazon

**ROYALLY ENTITLED IS FREE WITH AN AUDIBLE TRIAL**

More about the Author

Melody Delgado is the author of Royally Entitled, a historical romance, available as an Ebook. It recently won a Readers’ Favorite award in the category of Historical Christian Romance. Oops-A-Daisy, a humorous novel for children, was published in the fall of 2017. It is available in print and as an Ebook. It is currently up for a Christian Indie Award. Take a peek and vote here: https://www.christianaward.com/

She is currently working on the sequel to Royally Entitled, which will be called Royally Scheming. It will include some of the characters from book one and continue the story line started there, but will feature Elkie Olafson as the new main character and will tell her story.

Connect with Melody and her books

http://www.melodydelgado.com

https://twitter.com/Melody_Delgado_

GIVEAWAY!

Author Melody Delgado is offering a giveaway, an ecopy of Royally Entitled! Please follow the directions on the Rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

DEADLINES FOR WRITERS: Why have them, How to set them, & How to keep them

Most all writers know about deadlines. Or at least we could benefit from learning about them. For those more seasoned writers out there already know the reason for deadlines. But those newbie writers out there, may need some thoughts from someone who is a few more steps down the road.

Why have them?

Bottom line, deadlines help writers produce work. As much as the creative process is unique, it can take a…unique amount of time. And for some…okay, for most writers, that can mean an unending amount of time. That is not because we are lazy. Well, some of may need some bum glue from time to time. But mostly it is because we are so intent on our art being perfect, and that goal is so difficult to attain, we would never be truly satisfied with a manuscript. We would always find things to tweak. A deadline pushes us to come to peace with a final draft and turn it in. Even if you are indie publishing, self-imposed deadlines are a good thing. Have them, use them, mark them down, and keep them.

“I have spent most of the day putting in a comma and the rest of the day taking it out.” ~ Oscar Wilde

How to set them?

As with any goal, you have to be realistic. And you have to know yourself. Know how fast you write and how many hours you will have to write (realistically). Then you will need to figure how long it takes to self-edit and how many hours you will have to devote to that. I would give yourself a conservative estimate. Then mark that deadline down and make a covenant with yourself. Make small, measurable goals along the way. Daily, weekly, monthly…depends on you. Set up a reward system for reaching your goals and staying on target.

Susan May Warren has a wonderful book that will help you in this planning process and gives you an idea of how to calculate your hours to deadline: My Book Therapy Dream Keeper & Planner 2018. It is available on Amazon and that link is HERE.

How to keep them?

So, you have set your deadline realistically. And you have made small, measurable steps along the way to meet your goal, even rewarding yourself along the way. These are key things to keeping your goal – the consistent work day to day. Keeping on task, using that bum glue, staying committed. If you said to yourself, I can do 4 hours a week, then do 4 hours a week, even if you have to say “no” to something else. And there will be times you might have to. Because the truth is, we all have the same 24 hours a day (minus the 6-8 we spend sleeping, leaving us with actually only 16-18 hours a day). You choose how you spend them and what you accomplish in that time you have.

“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.” ~ Jim Rohn

Will you be true to yourself and keep your goals?

INTERVIEW & SPOTLIGHT: Author Tammy Kirby

Hello, readers! I am pleased to introduce you to another clean Historical Romance author – Tammy Kirby. Her latest release is set during the Victorian Era. Again, these are time periods I am eager to read more about. So, I am all too happy to have Tammy on the blog to introduce me and you all to her works!

Thanks for being on the blog today, Tammy. First, can you tell us a little about your novel.

In 19th century England, sexual slavery is rampant in London. An impoverished gentlewoman is mistaken for a doxy by an inebriated duke who believes he has purchased her for the night.

Miss Beth Darnley has always served God, but when her world is shattered, she wonders why. The battle to forgive is a long journey and she struggles with it every time she is in His Grace’s presence. Amidst her own private war of forgiveness and obedience to God, lives are changed and hope becomes a house of haven

Greyson Brennen, Duke of Briarcastle, is cynical were women are concerned. After ruining her, he offers Miss Elizabeth Darnley a position as his new mistress. He tells himself he is doing her a favor. Pity she won’t yield. It becomes a matter of pride to get her to submit. Funny how things have a way of coming back around.

Wow. Just wow. Care to share the more historically significant events behind your story?

Sex trafficking was a real problem in the Victorian era. Sadly, it is still a problem today. Not just in London but in many countries. Even in the USA I have promised to donate part of the proceeds from His Grace Forgiven to help rescue as many of these women and children as possible.

That’s amazing. What a great cause!

What was the inspiration for HIS GRACE FORGIVEN?

God dropped the seed for His Grace Forgiven in my heart with these words, ‘Can you forgive the unforgivable?’ I pondered the question for a while, then realized, yes, I already had. Maybe that’s why He gave the job to me.

I love that He has a purpose for each of us. He doesn’t waste a hurt. And He will bring good from tragedy.

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

As a child, I always wanted to be a wife and mother. But I think because I learned to love reading at a young age it just grew into a desire to write my own stories

I, too, started off with a love of the written word. It grew into what it is today 🙂

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

In my early twenties, I wrote my first novel and hid it in a chest. I was so embarrassed when my husband found it. That was during my bodice ripper days. LOL. I am so glad I didn’t publish that one. When I was 29, I took a creative writing class while in college pursuing a degree in Registered Nursing. That’s where I realized I really did have a talent for writing. I also realized I had a lot to learn, hence the years it’s taken to get my first novel out there.

We are so alike, you and I . I refer to my earlier self as a “closet writer” because I kept all my work to myself. Until my husband discovered it. Though those early works, later polished, became “The Lady Bornekova” and “The General’s Wife”.

As much as we enjoy writing, we both know it’s not all rainbows and sunshine. There are things we don’t love so much. What part of the writing process do you dread?

Historical research and writing a synopsis. I want to be in the middle of the story! The other stuff, that’s just work.

I agree–it is work!

Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer?

Search out God’s will and follow His leading. Don’t get caught up in believing you have to go by a certain outline. I took several nuggets I found from different writers and built my own. Use what works for you.

Love it! It is true that we glean from other writers. On that note, what are you currently reading?

A time-travel by Bess McBride Moonlight Wishes in Time

And your process…do you have a favorite time of day to write? What about a favorite place?

Early mornings, though that sometimes morphs into 8 or 10 hours at my computer. I like writing in my office, but love to sit on my porch overlooking the river near our camp and immerse myself in my character’s lives.

Can you tell us something about your His Grace Forgiven that is NOT in the blurb.

His Grace Forgiven is book one of the Haven House series inspired by God to show that no matter how deep in the cesspool of life one has fallen that there is hope in His all-consuming, undeserving, precious love and forgiveness.

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

I have a short story coming out the summer of 2018 called ‘Saving the McKinnon’. I also have book 2 and 3 of Haven House : Joy To The Earl and Vengeance Is Mine, Saith Milord, plotted out and hope to have them published this year.

Thank you again, Tammy, for being on the blog and sharing about your process! And I appreciate you giving my readers a look into your book. So, without further ado, I will get out of the way and let you have at it, readers!

His Grace Forgiven

 

An impoverished gentlewoman mistaken for a doxy. A jaded duke with an aversion to marriage.
Can two broken souls find forgiveness and love among the shattered remnants of their pasts?

19th century England: Sexual slavery is abundant in the seedier areas of London. One woman vies to change this. Amidst her own private war of forgiveness and obedience to God, lives are changed and hope becomes a house of haven.

Mistaken for a doxy—ruined by an inebriated duke—sold by her only family. Miss Beth Darnley desires to forget the horror one fateful night made of her life. She’s always served God, but when her world is shattered, she wonders why her loving Father would allow such dreadfulness to befall her. The battle to forgive is a long journey and she struggles with it every time she is in His Grace’s presence.

Greyson Brennen, Duke of Briarcastle, is used to having things his way. Painful experience has made him cynical were women are concerned. They have their place and he’s always been a generous benefactor. Miss Elizabeth Darnley will fit perfectly in the position of his new mistress. He is doing her a favor. Her own house with a bevy of servants—clothing and jewels a queen would envy. It will be a far cry from the destitution she is used to. Pity she won’t yield.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Mrs. Kerry took one look at her and Greyson and sent servants scurrying for hot water and bandages.

“Merciful Lord! Have you finally shot him? I told him he was being much too hard.” Mrs. Kerry tsked as she wrung her hands. “Your Grace, are you hurt?”

Before she answered the frantic housekeeper, Beth directed Timms to take the duke to his quarters and instructed Izzy to send Will for Dr. Peyton.

“I am fine, Mrs. Kerry. And to answer your question, no, I did not shoot him, though I can’t say the idea doesn’t hold some merit.

Buy Link

Amazon

More About the Author

Tammy Kirby holds an associate degree in Registered Nursing, a cosmetology license, and the title of author. When she’s not helping heal the sick, or dabbling in color, you can find her at her computer, giving life to the characters clamoring inside her head to be set free.

She developed a love for reading at a young age. Beauty and the Beast is her favorite fairytale, and I Love Lucy her favorite tv show from childhood. That being said, you’ll always find one of her characters having some of the same characteristics in Tammy’s works.

She uses her writing to show God’s love and forgiveness through characters from hundreds of years in the past, who face the same problems people face today. Taking broken heroes and heroines and showing them this truth is her mission.

Tammy lives with her husband, Roger in Northeast Louisiana, where she spends her free time doting on grandchildren, reading, crocheting, sewing and, of course, writing about how the Lord can take any sin, no matter how bad and turn it into a blessing to glorify Him. Her desire is for her writing to speak to her readers in a way that draws them closer to the One who loves them above all.

Connect with Tammy and her works

Website: tammykirbyauthor.com

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/tammykirby

INTERVIEW & SPOTLIGHT: Author Wendy May Andrews

Welcome, readers! I have another wonderful author for you to meet today. Clean Reads author Wendy May Andrews writes Historical Romance focused in the Regency era. And her newest release is no exception. As a great fan of clean Historical Romance myself, I am always excited to find a new author in that genre to check out. I love Jane Austen as much as the next girl, but can’t say as I’ve read a lot of Regency outside of Austen’s legendary books until the last few months. And I am finding that there are some real gems. So, I am pleased to have an author that writes in this period on the blog today.

Welcome to the blog, Wendy. First, can you tell us a little about your novel.

A Dangerous Debut is, in some ways, a Cinderella retelling. Daisy is in a tight spot, financially, but is a well-bred young woman. She has just lost her position as governess and needs a new job. The viscount offers to hire her to pretend to be his fiancé so that he can convince his parents that he has turned his life around and they’ll loosen their purse-strings. He really has turned his life around but his parents don’t have much confidence in him. He doesn’t want to raise expectations with any of the ladies of his acquaintance so this seems to be a reasonable solution (to him, at least). Daisy resists the idea but is tempted by the opportunity to see how the ton lives. Mayhem ensues 🙂

I love a good Cinderella story. And I am enjoying this Regency period more and more.

Care to share the more historically significant events behind your story?

Unlike some of my other stories, this one isn’t centered around any particular historical event. It is set during “the Season” in 1807.

I love learning about other writers’ inspirations. It is true that it can strike anywhere! What was the inspiration for A Dangerous Debut?

I am never at a loss for ideas. Because I write historical, I’m always wondering “how would this be for my characters.” In this particular case, I was watching the movie Barefoot (which was hilarious and quite well done) and thought, this could totally be a Regency. Of course, once I sat down and started writing it changed considerably, but that was where the kernel of the idea came from.

Movies always take me off on a tangent 🙂

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

I always loved to read, and had a favorite aunt who used to say I would be a writer one day. She even went so far as to make up pen names for me. But, to be honest, I never really thought I would be able to do it!

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

When my husband challenged me to write that first book. I got bit by the bug and haven’t looked back 🙂

I know we all love writing or else we wouldn’t do it. But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. There are things we don’t love so much. What part of the writing process do you dread?

Editing! And marketing, of course. If I could only write first drafts I would be beside myself with glee. But you have to put the work in for other people to benefit from it.

So true. Marketing is such a necessary thing, but it doesn’t come easily to most writers I think.

This next question is purely to satisfy my curiosity. It varies so much from writer to writer–how long does it take you to write a book?

This really varies depending on what else is going on in life. I’ve done National Novel Writing Month (NaNo) and have “won” in that I managed to write at least 50,000 words in 30 days. But two or three months is much more comfortable for me for getting the first draft written. Then there’s the editing but that can overlap with writing the next one…

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

Yes! I’m very excited about my next projects too. I’ve started writing two series. One is set in my usual Regency era. The other is a trilogy set in 1850s mid-West America. It’s a different time and location for me so a lot of research required. But I love it! Hopefully book one will be out in the next few months.

Late 1800’s is becoming my sweet spot. I look forward to that series!

Again, thank you so much for joining me and for sharing with us about your process and your newest release. So, readers, without further ado, I’ll let you read on and check out A Dangerous Debut.

A Dangerous Debut

Daisy meets Lord Seaton quite by accident while standing outside a closed employment office. The handsome viscount proposes they might be able to help each other out. He offers to hire her to accompany him to visit his parents while posing as a potential love interest.

Being a proper lady, if only a “Miss”, Daisy objects to such an inappropriate proposition. Once the viscount is able to convince her that he will observe all proprieties, she reluctantly agrees while secretly looking forward to experiencing the aristocratic life, if even just for a week.

When a shady character from her past shows up looking for her, Jasper’s protective instincts kick in. But will it interfere with his own reasons for the ruse? Jasper’s feelings for Daisy get even more muddled when she is abducted.

Their masquerade could lead to true love if her past doesn’t destroy them first.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Excerpt: First meet (Opening scene):

“What am I going to do now?” Daisy kept her wail silent as she struggled not to panic.

The door was locked, and there was no sign of movement inside. The early morning sounds of carriages, carts, and people going about their business behind her on the busy street could not penetrate the dark sense of dread she was struggling to control. Daisy was staring morosely at the locked shop door when a voice behind her shoulder nearly made her jump out of her skin. She was surprised she hadn’t noticed his approach reflected in the gleaming glass of Miss Holstein’s shop window, since she had been staring at it so intensely.

“Is aught amiss, ma’am?” the cultured voice slurred, stirring Daisy’s amusement, despite the terrifying dilemma she faced.

When she turned to answer, her usually glib tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth. The wellborn man’s handsome face stole her breath. His golden brown hair was dishevelled, as though he had been running his hands through the waves repeatedly throughout the long night. His light gray eyes were fringed with long dark lashes. If he were not so ruggedly handsome, they would have looked feminine. But his strong physique declared him an outdoorsman of some note, and no one would ever confuse him with a woman. She realized her confused blinking probably made her look like a simpleton, but she could barely marshal her thoughts into order, they were so scattered.

Seeing the concern forming in his eyes despite the air of ennui about him that declared he rarely cared about anything, Daisy pulled herself together enough to remember his question.

“Thank you, my lord, I shall be perfectly fine.” Daisy realized her tone sounded repressive and prim, but she couldn’t help herself.

“You do not seem perfectly fine.” The handsome gentleman’s observation sounded vague. The emphasis on “seem” implying that even though he was bosky, it was apparent even to him that all was not right with Daisy.

Daisy was now beginning to find his presence irritating and could easily see past his remarkable good looks. With her tongue no longer stuck to the roof of her mouth, she was able to make use of it. “I truly am not in need of any help from you, my lord,” she began, not bothering to mask her disdain. “You may carry on with your own business without concerning yourself about mine.”

Daisy’s sunny disposition usually prevented her from being snide, but she felt her nose wrinkling as she observed the young man before her. His clothes declared he was a member of the Corinthian set, verging toward being a dandy. It was obvious he was a wealthy nobleman, perhaps even an aristocrat. That thought made her lip curl just a little with feelings of scorn. The air of authority with which he held himself, despite the fact he had drunk too much the night before, declared his position loudly without his uttering a word.

Her resentment began to rise despite her knowledge that it was irrational. She really ought not to be so judgemental. Under normal circumstances, she tried to be an open minded individual, but truly, aristocratic “gentlemen” are all the same, she thought with an audible sniff, just as her father had always told her.

Buy Link

Amazon

More About the Author

Wendy May Andrews has been in love with the written word since she learned to read at the age of five. She has been writing for almost as long but it took her some time before she was willing to share her stories with anyone other than her mother.

Wendy can be found with her nose in a book in a cozy corner of downtown Toronto. She is happily married to her own real-life hero, who is also her best friend and favourite travel companion. Being a firm believer that every life experience contributes to the writing process, Wendy is off planning her next trip.

She loves to hear from her readers and can be found at her website, on twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

Connect with Wendy and her books

Website: www.wendymayandrews.com

Social media:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/WendyMayAndrews

Twitter: @WendyMayAndrews

Instagram: WendyMayAndrews

INTERVIEW & SPOTLIGHT: Author M.R. Anglin

Happy Friday, everyone! I hope you are all well and enjoying the warmer weather. And I hope you aren’t perpetually sick as my family seems to be. But I digress…

I have an author to introduce to you today. She is a Clean Reads YA author with a very intriguing inspiration for her novel and a GIVEAWAY!!! So, let me go ahead and introduce M.R. Anglin. And I won’t dawdle about getting into the interview so you can get introduced to her book 🙂

Welcome to my blog, M.R. Anglin! Thanks for being here. First, can you tell us about the inspiration for Prince of the Sun, Princess of the Moon?

Prince of the Sun, Princess of the Moon was inspired by my niece and nephew, my sisters, and a Bible verse, believe it or not. “O sun, stand still over Gibeon, O moon, over the Valley of Aijalon. So the sun stood still and the moon stopped till the nation avenged itself on its enemies, as it is written in the Book of Jashar” (Joshua 10:12-13 NIV). I always loved that verse since I read it as a child, and it stuck with me all these years until it came out in this novel.

Did I tell you it was an intriguing inspiration. I love that! So, this inspiration goes way back. 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 a pediatrician until my first year of college. But I couldn’t stand the thought of possibly dealing with a cadaver.

I can get on board with that. I was Pre-Med too. It was all the red-tape/bureaucracy that was the nail in the coffin of my medical career. Back to writing though…there are certainly things about that process we don’t enjoy as much as others. What part of the writing process do you dread?

The part when I let others read my work. Will they love it? Will they hate it? Am I really a good writer? All those doubts plague me at that point.

So true. This next question is a purely “Sara is curious” question…I know that it just varies from writer to writer. How long does it take you to write a book?

From start to finish—about 3 months. But it always helps if I let it sit for a while after I’m finished and read it again later.

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

I’m currently working on the re-release of the first book in my self-published anthro series, Silver Foxes. I’m also working on the sequel to this book tentatively called Light of Alandri. After that, I want to go back to writing another YA series I have in the works. That one, I’ll have to keep under wraps for a while—at least until I finish the thing.

You’re like me…a lot of “irons in the fire”. Never working on just one thing at a time 😉

Thanks again for being on my blog today. I look forward to you, readers, catching the excerpt and getting a taste for the book. Read on! And don’t forget to catch details about the giveaway below!

Prince of the Sun, Princess of the Moon

For years the Moon Palace in the Valley of Aijalon and the Sun Tower in the Plains of Jashar has stood as testaments to the power of the sun and the graciousness of the moon. Helio and Lumina, Guardians of the sun and moon, kept watch over them and the Prince and the Princess who ruled them. But the Prince and Princess are missing, and the sun is exhibiting strange behavior.

Now Joshua and his younger sister, Deborah, must untangle a web of lies and deceit to uncover the secret of who they really are and save their world from an imminent disaster brewing in the heavens. And they must hurry. Between the earthquakes, the sun and moon standing still in the sky, and the planet Jants hovering closer than it’s ever been, the planet could be torn apart before they have a chance to do something about it.

Enjoy an Excerpt

“Mr. Delango.” Mrs. Blaine’s voice sliced through the air, jarring Joshua out of his thoughts.

He jumped to his feet. “Yes, ma’am.” All around him snickers erupted as each of his classmates stared at him. Joshua stifled a groan. Judging by their reaction, he had missed something important.

“Perhaps you would like to elaborate on our topic?” Mrs. Blaine motioned to the blackboard.

Joshua winced. He had been staring out of the window and had no idea what she had been talking about.

His best friend, Neil, shrugged. With his skin the complexion of milk and Joshua’s the complexion of chocolate, Neil always said together they were two halves of the best drink ever to have been invented.

But now he shook his head at Joshua. “I tried to warn you,” he mouthed.

Joshua cleared his throat. “You are doing such a fantastic job at explaining this, Mrs. Blaine, I can’t elaborate.” He punctuated the remark with a smile meant to charm her.

“I think you can.” Mrs. Blaine pointed to the board. “Why don’t you come up and fill out this diagram?”

Joshua bit back a comment and made his way to the front of the classroom. The walls were white, and though Mrs. Blaine had set a plastic, potted tree in the corner, there were no posters or papers on the walls . . . just a blackboard where Mrs. Blaine wrote her lessons . . . not at all like the other teachers’ classes with their motivational posters and charts plastered all over the walls.

“No distractions for wayward thinking children,” Mrs. Blaine had said the first time someone remarked on the lack of decoration.

Joshua took the chalk from her and approached the blackboard. Empty spaces in the diagram she had written mocked him, but the words, “Planet/Celestial Body” and “Guardian” were written in separate columns at the top. At least Joshua knew what she was talking about now—the solar system and its Guardians.

“Fill it out.” Mrs. Blaine smirked. “Unless you aren’t smart enough to goof off in class and still retain the information.”

Again his classmates snickered.

Joshua took a deep breath and studied the diagram. Then he raised his chalk and wrote:

Planet/Celestial Body

Guardian

Sun

Helio

Chern

Maro

Marte

Cero

Melíne

Alandri

Geon

N/A

Geon’s moon

Lumina

Arion

Lucin

Jants

Junen

Rindt

Rin

Nuardt

Urin

Plútz

Plandte

Once finished, he faced Mrs. Blaine. “Is that correct?” He held out the chalk to her.

No one snickered now . . . well, except Neil. His face had surged red with the effort of stifling his laughter. To date, no one had bested Mrs. Blaine at her game to humiliate students who weren’t paying attention. In fact, Mrs. Blaine herself stared at the diagram Joshua had written with her mouth set.

Her eyes narrowed. “Go sit down.”

Joshua shot a smile at her as he went.

“See me after class,” Mrs. Blaine said.

Joshua winced. One smart gesture too far.

“The rest of you, commit this chart to memory.” Mrs. Blaine tapped the blackboard. “It will be on the test next week.”

“Dude, are you crazy?” Neil leaned over to him as Joshua sat. Joshua had to bite back a smile. His friend acted like he had been the one called in after class. “She’s going to hate you now.”

Joshua shrugged. “I’ve got more important things to worry about.”

“Like what?” Neil whispered, copying the diagram.

“Like . . .” Joshua stared full into the sun. “I think the sun is off by two minutes.”

Neil paused in his writing. “What?”

“The sun.” Joshua glanced at Mrs. Blaine to make sure she wasn’t watching. “It should be a little to the right. It’s in the wrong place.”

“Have you been moon-bathing or something? You’re as batty as a night-person.”

Joshua scowled at his friend. “Don’t say that.”

But Neil went on, ignoring Joshua’s annoyance, or . . . more likely . . . not noticing it at all. “The sun can’t be in the wrong place. It’s impossible.”

“Maybe.” Joshua could overlook his friend’s oversight. After all, he didn’t know how offensive the saying was. “But I’ve done the calculations over and over—”

“Done the calculations?” Neil snickered. “What do you know about calculations like those? There are smart people in the capital whose job it is to watch the sun. Don’t you think they would have said something if the sun was in the wrong place?”

“I guess . . .” Joshua faced the front of the class where Mrs. Blaine continued her lesson. He wrote the diagram down, more to get his mind off of the nagging feeling in the back of his mind than because he needed to remember it. Neil was right; Joshua had to be wrong. After all, Helio, the Guardian of the sun, was the epitome of precision. The sun would never drift out of position on his watch.

Still . . . a feeling, like a stone sitting in his stomach, told Joshua something was amiss. He had seen the sun doing strange things before. The other day he thought he saw it flickering, and the day before he was certain its rays were less intense than they should have been.

Joshua swallowed the knot rising in his throat and resisted the urge to fiddle with the gold necklace he wore hidden under his shirt. If something was wrong with the sun, he had more than filling out diagrams and studying for tests to worry about.

They all did.

Buy Link

Amazon

More About the Author

M.R. Anglin has always had a fascination with space—particularly the moon and stars. She also has three amazing nephews, two adorable “near-nephews,” and one brilliant niece, so it’s no wonder she eventually wrote a story that combines these loves into one. You can often find her gazing up at the Florida sky at night or hunching over her notebook/computer by day.

She is the author of the Middle Grade novel, Lucas, Guardian of Truth (LampPost 2012), the self-published Silver Foxes series, and her newest YA novel Prince of the Sun, Princess of the Moon (CleanReads 2018). She has also been included in the Coyotl Award winning anthology, Gods with Fur (FurPlanet 2016), Dogs of War Vol. 2 (FurPlanet 2017), and Extinct? (Wolfsinger 2017).

Connect with M.R. Anglin and Her Books

Facebook: http://facebook.com/authoranglin

Twitter: @authoranglin

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/mranglin

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GIVEAWAY!!

M.R. Anglin is offering a pdf copy of her book Prince of the Sun, Princess of the Moon, to one (1) winner. Winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter. Entries will be collected by criteria listed on the Rafflecopter. Contest runs until Thursday, March 8th, 2018 at 11:59 pm. Best of luck!

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INTERVIEW & SPOTLIGHT: Author Ica Iova

Hello, readers! I am so sorry that I have been out again. I have been under the weather once more. I hope I am well on the way to NOT BEING SICK for a while. It has been a bit much…

But I have a treat for you today–another Clean Reads author, award-winning author Ica Iova, and her release Divine Intervention. I have enjoyed getting insight into her process and her work through this interview and I hope you will too. And do NOT forget about the excerpt waiting below 🙂 But, for now, let’s sit down with Ica so you can glean from what I learned…

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

Divine Intervention is a Christian romance with a touch of paranormal suspense. LUKE MARSHAL is a brilliant doctor and whole-hearted atheist who clings to the last dredges of a life shattered by grief when he meets EMMA COOPER, a gorgeous novelist, proud mother of 13-year-old SKYLER, and a real believer that no man – besides God – deserves her trust.

They meet by chance, and though the attraction is unmistakable, given their pasts and different beliefs, they’ll need some serious divine intervention to make it work.

Paranormal Christian Romance…you have me intrigued! What was the inspiration for Divine Intervention?

A local news story about a man who showed up at an accident scene and helped the victims. In spite eyewitnesses, no one knew who he was. Even more puzzling, he appeared in none of the hundreds of photos taken at the scene. This is the story behind the story. Of course, once Luke and Emma came to life, they had other plans and guided the tale on a romantic path.

As writing goes, there are parts we all enjoy (of course, that’s why we do it!) and things we writers don’t care for so much… What part of the writing process do you dread?

I’d have to say editing. Although my first draft is as clean as can be, the countless rounds of self-editing, before the manuscript lands on my editor’s desk, drive me insane.

That is by far the most popular answer to that question. And one I can definitely concur with. I am more a writer than an editor 🙂

As much as we learn from craft books, I believe we learn from other authors through their work. What are you currently reading?

A Stranger In The House by Shari Lapena.

This is purely a “just curious” question as I know this varies from writer to writer… How long does it take you to write a book?

It depends on how long the story is, and how much research I have to do. Most of my readers say that my stories sound so genuine. I’d like to think that is the result of researching every aspect of it.

As a Clean Historical Romance writer, I can definitely relate. There is tons of research needed.

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

Resilience is book two from the Resiliency series. It’s a Women’s Fiction, inspired by articles and interviews I did for Examiner.com surrounding divorce and all the craziness that follows. Resilience has hit top 100 paid in Kindle Store three times.

Congrats! That is so exciting! Do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?

Yes. This one deviates a little from the romantic paranormal stories that have made me an award-winning author, but I believe the story needs to be told. I started it 20 years ago, and I don’t have a definite title yet. It will be either Collision or Finding Freedom. (I know, poles apart, but both titles fit my story equally well.) This WIP is as close as I’ll probably ever get to an autobiography. Though fiction, it’s, in fact, an honest assessment of an immigrant’s journey—from communist dominance to a dreamland with unfamiliar grounds. What it takes to start again, and what she can never leave behind once every aspect of her life is turned upside down.

Wow! I am eager to hear more about that story! Thanks for being on the blog today and sharing about your releases.

Y’all know me, I can tend to ramble, but I won’t. As you can guess, there is a wonderful excerpt waiting below, so I’ll get out of the way and let you get to it 🙂

Divine Intervention

Enjoy an Excerpt

Luke and Emma meet for the first time, after Emma’s daughter, Skyler, lands in the ER for the second time in a week.

Something must have shown in his eyes because the woman’s expression changed. Alarm bells went off in Luke’s head, making it hard to breathe. What would he do if she touched him? What would she do if he touched her? He felt beads of sweat forming at the center of his back.

Man, pull yourself together, he scolded.

“Emma Cooper, Skyler’s mother,” she introduced herself, extending a freshly manicured hand.

Luke swallowed hard. Somehow, he had known who she was from the moment he saw her eyes in the lobby. Just as Isabella, Emma looked like Skyler’s older twin, but about two inches taller. A feeling took tours around his brain. He had met this woman before. Where? She had the same last name as her mother. Did that mean she wasn’t married? Divorced?

Not widowed. She would’ve kept her married name. The questions came as a shock. Why would he care?

Stop it, you idiot.

Luke snapped out of his daze and, stretching out his hand, he mechanically accepted the one she held out. “Hi, how are you, ma’am?” he said, then quickly went back to examining Skyler’s head.

Before I begin feeling…feeling…

What?

He had nothing to compare it with, but it didn’t matter. This woman was a complete stranger. What kind of a crazy man claimed to have feelings for a woman he just met?

Apparently my kind.

Her green eyes fired lightning bolts in the back of his neck. He could feel it but continued to focus on checking Skyler’s head, asking questions along the way. When he finished, he propped his hip on the small desk in the room and turned his attention toward Emma. She had observed quietly, but concern shadowed her eyes.

“I think it’s only a mild concussion but just to be safe, I will order a CT scan.”

The concern in Emma’s eyes mutated into pure terror in a millisecond. “You think there’s more to it?”

“No. No.” His hand landed involuntarily on hers. The feel of her velvety skin sparked a jolt of electricity which traveled from the tip of his fingers, through his heart, then his groin, finally fading away when it reached his toes. Good grief! What’s wrong with you? he snapped in silence. “This is just a precaution I take with all my patients.”

In spite of his silent, internal battles, his words seemed to calm Emma, but he could tell her fear persisted. He didn’t know why, but he had a ridiculous urge to pull her into his arms and through long, passionate kisses, take all that terror away. A part of his body he’d been neglecting—forgot he had—twitched.

Whoa!

He began to count his inappropriate actions mentally. One. He’d grabbed Emma’s hand to assure her everything would be okey-dokey, but he’d kept it way longer than necessary. Such action asked for a lawsuit. Two…two. He’d felt something he’d never thought he could feel again. That was a plus for him. She’d made him feel again. Crap, this was not exactly an award-winning moment. Her daughter was his patient. INAPPROPRIATE! And another reason for a lawsuit.

He knew he should get out of there before he got himself in too deep to handle, but his feet seemed glued to the ground. What was wrong with him? Who was this woman holding him under her spell?

Buy Link

Amazon

More About the Author

Ica Iova is a former Examiner at Examiner.com and an Award-Winning Author of several books. She writes what she enjoys reading. In her novels, she brings to life powerful relationships, flawed but gripping characters, and of course, happy endings, which remind readers that life is too precious to waste on insignificant things. She is currently a member of Federation of BC Writers, as well as three critique groups.

When she is not writing, editing, or marketing, she’s a proud wife, mother, and grandmother, with a substantial sense of humor. She loves spending time with her family and pets, shopping for shoes, or just lazing around with a good book.

Connect with Ica and her work

Website: www.icasworld.net

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Ica-Iova/e/B00EN8ZH2G/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/icaiova.author/

Tweeter: https://twitter.com/icaiova

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ica.iova/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ica-iova

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Ica-Iova-Autoare-126160124768832/

SPOTLIGHT: Author Tia Souders “Better Than This”

Hey, all! Sorry you haven’t heard from me in a while…I have been sick, my family has been sick…and there has been a pile of catching up to do. But thanks for hanging in there! I have a great spotlight for you today. Author Tia Souder’s new release “Better Than This”! I won’t spend time vamping today, I’ll let you get right to the details 🙂

Better Than This

What can keep a dream alive?

Before the car accident that changed everything, Samantha Becker was a happy and loved little girl. Ten years later, Sam, now 18, lives under a dark cloud—largely ignored by an alcoholic mother who never recovered from her loss and ruled by an overbearing father who blames Samantha for the family tragedy. And yet, the troubled teenager has a dream that keeps her going, and an extraordinary musical talent that could take her all the way to Julliard…and far beyond.

Following her heart, however, means defying her father, who has his own plans for his daughter’s future.  Then, in the wake of another devastating personal catastrophe, her dream is irreparably shattered, and in her pain and anger, Samantha acts out recklessly. But her salvation could come from a most unlikely trio: a handsome college student, a hopeful little boy…and an older neighbor woman whose caring and secrets will change Sam’s world forever.

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37930697-better-than-this

What others are saying…

A powerfully moving addition to the ranks of superior YA fiction, Better Than This by Tia Souders joins Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park, Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why, the novels of John Green, and other prime examples of contemporary teen literature.  Souders tells the heartbreaking, yet ultimately transcendent story of 18-year-old Samantha, whose remarkable musical abilities could be her escape from a family devastated by tragedy and steeped in guilt, sadness, and recrimination. But when a terrible accident seems to destroy her dreams for the future, Sam discovers a new path forward and new hope when she becomes involved with a remarkable young boy and his grandmother, a caring older neighbor who guards a secret that will change the troubled teenager’s life forever.

Enjoy an Excerpt

My mother crashed into the kitchen, knocking over the wine glasses nestled on the hutch. Mumbling something incomprehensible, along with accusations that someone rearranged the furniture, she stumbled and fell. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the raised knife poised again above the apple.

My father said I shifted my hand on the island, distracted by my mother. A totally plausible explanation—if it were true.

My eyes widened as I stared down at the halved fruit, now drenched in my blood. The pain came in startling, pulsing waves until my entire hand felt as though it was engulfed in flames.

My heart threatened to crash through my chest, as I struggled to comprehend what happened. I vaguely recalled screaming in the background. Where it came from, I’m still unsure. Possibly me, or my mother. I barely noticed my father’s panicked voice as it rang in my ears, nor did I feel it when he squeezed the dish towel over my hand.

I don’t recall moving. I don’t remember speaking or moaning in pain. All I remembered is the sight of the blood-stained cloth shifting, noting the missing finger, and thinking This is my fretting hand.

Buy Link

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B078WW6L5X

More About the Author

Tia Souders is the author of bestselling women’s fiction novel, Waiting On Hope and the upcoming award-winning young adult novel Better Than This (formerly titled Freedom Road). When she isn’t writing, she’s likely renovating their century home. She’s a wine-loving, coffeeholic, with a sweet tooth and resides on a farm in rural Ohio with her husband and children.

Connect with Tia and her books

Website: http://www.tiasouders.com/

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

Facebook Group/Street Team: https://www.facebook.com/groups/359632431141710/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tia.s.writes/