Monday, June 30, 2014

Author Interview—Ashlee Willis

Another special post today! Aside from the one question interviews I did as part of the Five Glass Slippers Blog Tour, this is my very first time to interview a fellow author on my blog. I don’t know why it’s taken me so long. But anyway, let me introduce you to fellow fantasy author Ashlee Willis who just released her first YA novel, The Word Changers!


Ashlee has a passion for three things: God, family, and books, and is happiest when all three can be enjoyed together.  Ashlee graduated from Central Christian College of the Bible with a Bachelor of Science in Christian Education. She divides her time chiefly between homeschooling her young son, reading about fantasy worlds she wishes she could visit, and dreaming up fantasy worlds of her own to write about. She loves taking walks in the woods, drinking tea with friends, and spending time with the ones she loves most.  Ashlee lives in the heart of Missouri with her husband, son, and cat, where she is busily at work on her next book, also a fantasy for young adults.

Find Ashlee on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads, or email her at

The fact that she homeschools, drinks tea, and writes fantasy is something I find especially awesome considering I was homeschooled and am a tea-drinking fantasy author myself. Now on to the interview to learn more!

1. How did you start writing?

I began writing when I was very young. Both of my parents are writers and I think it just seemed natural for me to write as well. It wasn’t long, though, before it became something more than just fun to me. I began to almost need it … it was a way to organize my thoughts and emotions, a way to understand both myself and others better, and eventually even know God better. From that point it has only grown over the years. I had a discussion not long ago with another writer friend of mine, and we both agreed that even if we knew that everything we were writing was complete foolishness and that no one would ever read it … we would still write. From those early days as a child scribbling quirky stories, until now when I am publishing my debut novel for the world to see … writing gradually became a true part of me.

2. What inspired you to write The Word Changers?

To put it as simply as possible, just being a book lover! Every person who loves reading imagines at one point what it would be like to become a part of his or her favorite book. I did a lot of that imagining when I was a child, and it never really left me as I grew older. So finally I just knew I had to take that idea and see where it would lead. And it led me places I never imagined!

3. Which of your characters would you most love to spend the day with?

Hmm … great question! I’d have to choose Kyran, I think, mainly because I feel just a little bit in love with him while I was writing him. Also, he’s got so much dark emotion, and ends up dealing with it in such a unique way. I think I’d find it pretty intriguing to see what he would do or say. He certainly surprised me once or twice when I was writing him – who knows what would happen if I actually got the chance to hang out with him for the day!

4. Creating and working with characters is my favorite part of writing. What is yours?

I have to agree with you! The characters are why I write. Plot and adventure and fantasy are all very well … but a story isn’t a story without people. I will never cease to be amazed that these characters come from my head, but then promptly proceed to live lives of their own, making decisions I never saw coming. It’s bizarre and wonderful and beautiful. I love it.

5. For me, actually getting my stories written is the hardest part of writing. Planning, rewriting, and editing are much easier. What is your least favorite or hardest part of the writing process?

My first draft is usually where I feel most creative. The ideas themselves, and the “underneath” message that I want to get across is strong and clear in my mind at that point. When I get to revisions, though, that’s where things get complicated. The details of the story itself start to bog me down and even overwhelm me. Trying to make sure scenes fit together and everything flows perfectly at the joints just gets tedious and exhausting, many times. Revisions and editing are definitely no fun for me. Ugh! Makes me tired just thinking about it …!

6. What hobbies do you have outside of writing?

I love taking rambles through the woods. There’s nothing like the wind whispering through a thousand trees to bring peace and inspiration. I also enjoy crocheting, playing the piano, and searching for toads and minnows with my son in the creek behind our house. Oh, and I love Pinterest – I’m fairly certain that’s an addiction, not a hobby … but there you go!

7. What are some of your favorite books?

I adore just about everything by Charles Dickens, although I have a real soft spot for Little Dorrit. My “classic” favorites are How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis, the Chronicles of Narnia, and Lord of the Rings. Some more modern favorites are Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier, Queenmaker by India Edghill, and Treasure at the Heart of the Tanglewood by Meredith Ann Pierce.

8. What advice would you give other authors seeking to publish?

Don’t look at rejection as failure. Look at it as a way of learning, as another step in your journey toward success. Keep trying, and when you feel like giving up, grit your teeth and try again. Read quality books, and read a lot! And above all, write, write, write. Every word you write brings you nearer to finding your voice, finishing your book, getting published!

Great interview, right? I completely related to a lot of it. But the interview is not all I have for you. I also have an excerpt to share from The Word Changers.

“It is not a journey I would wish to make,” Kyran said suddenly, looking straight into Falak’s hooded orange eyes, “But I do it for my sister. I hope you are not scheming for yourself, Chief Adviser. I hope this chase will not prove to be pointless or contrived.”

Falak widened his eyes and ruffled out his chest. “Prince Kyran,” he said, “you insult and wrong me. I work for the good of the Kingdom, as I always have and always will. That is my solemn promise to you.”

“I suppose the good of the Kingdom means going behind the king’s back and sending his son and heir into danger, eh?” Kyran said, his horse dancing circles in anticipation of flight as Posy clung to his waist in terror. “Ah, well, we will see.” He flicked the reins and said, “Go on, Belenus.” The horse turned and trotted through the stable yard, its hooves thudding dully on the beaten-down earth.

Posy turned to look once more at the castle, its great white walls glowing eerily in the moonlight. She sent out a silent wish that she would never have to return there, that her escape would not lead her into further danger. Somehow, she felt both of these wishes were futile.

Falak perched silently on the fence, his large changeful eyes the only thing indicating he was not a statue. He watched them as they neared the shadows beyond the castle. Posy turned and lifted a hand to him in farewell. His eyes flashed, once, and his owlish expression turned to something full of menace. Something—Posy sucked in her breath—full of hate. A shiver racked her body and was gone, and with it the feeling of dread.

The moonlight, Posy told herself with a yawn, could play many tricks.

Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it? I look forward to reading it as soon as I get a chance. Here is the cover and a bit more about the book.

The Word Changers Cover Art

Her parents’ marriage is falling apart. Fifteen-year-old Posy feels her life is falling apart with it. Retreating to an old library down the street, she selects a mysterious book in a secluded corner and is magically drawn into its story…

Posy finds herself in a kingdom ruled by a cruel and manipulative king and queen who have attempted to usurp the role that belongs only to the Author of their story. The princess has fled and the kingdom is teetering toward rebellion. Posy is joined by the Prince Kyran as they fight with the characters of the story against their slavery to the Plot.

Posy and the prince search beyond the borders of the story for the runaway princess. They visit mysterious places, face horrifying monsters, and fight fierce battles. They make both friends and enemies as their journey leads them into many dangers. But some of the worst dangers, Posy soon finds, lie deep within her own heart.

Now Posy must find the courage and forgiveness needed to save the story and, most important, heal the heartache she knew in her own world.

You can purchase The Word Changers on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble. And don’t forget to add it to your reading list on Goodreads!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Exclusive Sneak Peek for Amazon Reviewers

It’s kind of a big day. Exactly three years ago today, I wrote the very first words of Resistance. Kind of crazy to think back to that day and now see the published version of the book sitting on my desk. I had this grand idea of throwing a big blog party to celebrate, but I was so busy writing and trying to accomplish all my other goals this week that it just didn’t happen. Oh well, maybe next year. But I do have something to share today. If you’re a writer, you know how appreciated reviews are, especially on Amazon. And if you are a reader who knows writers, chances are, you’ve heard us say how much they appreciate reviews. As a special thank you to everyone who has and will leave me those awesome reviews on Amazon, I’m offering an exclusive sneak peek at The King’s Scrolls. And I’m not talking about a couple paragraphs, I’m talking a whole chapter. ;) That’s right, if you email me the link to your Resistance Amazon review (or the name it’s posted under), I’ll send you a PDF copy of one of the first chapters in TKS, which sets the whole plot of the book in motion, and happens to be one of my favorite chapters. This applies to anyone who has already reviewed the book. Just contact me for your sneak peek! It’s the least I can do to show my appreciation. :)

Friday, June 27, 2014

Book Review–Full Steam Ahead

fullsteamaheadWhen love simmers between a reclusive scientist and a wealthy debutante, will they abandon ship or is it full steam ahead?

Nicole Renard returns home to Galveston, Texas, to find her father deathly ill. Though she loves him, Nicole's father has always focused on what she's not. Not male. Not married. Not able to run Renard Shipping. Vowing to find a suitable husband to give her father the heir he desires before it's too late, Nicole sets out with the Renard family's greatest treasure as her dowry: the highly coveted Lafitte Dagger. But her father's rivals come after the dagger, forcing a change in Nicole's plans.

After a boiler explosion aboard the Louisiana nearly took his life, Darius Thornton has been a man obsessed. He will do anything to stop even one more steamship disaster. Even if it means letting a female secretary into his secluded world.

Nicole is determined not to let her odd employer scare her off with his explosive experiments, yet when respect and mutual attraction grow between them, a new fear arises. How can she acquire an heir for her father when her heart belongs to another? And when her father's rivals discover her hiding place, will she have to choose between that love and her family's legacy?

My Rating: 4 Stars

Okay, my friends will probably look at my 4 star rating and go, “Whaaaa?” Yes, just like the minion in Despicable Me. ;) But let me explain, and don’t let the fact that I didn’t give it 5 stars fool you. Full Steam Ahead is a wonderful book that I thoroughly enjoyed. I mean, it’s Karen Witemeyer. How could it not be great? You’ve heard me say how much I sometimes envy her writing talent, and this book is no exception. It was a little different in that it didn’t have the typical Western feel of her others, which most of the time centered around ranches. Maybe I missed that a little, but this storyline was still fascinating.

I very much enjoyed the characters, although I’m not sure I loved Nicole and Darius, which is why I gave it 4 stars. One thing I’ve learned about myself is that if I don’t love the guy, there’s a good chance I won’t love the book. I don’t know why it’s the guy who matters most to me, but that’s just how it is. Darius took me a bit to warm up to, and even though I really liked him by the end, I didn’t absolutely adore him like I did Crockett, Levi, and Neill in the other books. But that’s just my personal taste, so don’t judge the book on that. Nicole and Darius were a great, as well as amusing, pair to read about and watch fall in love.

The thing is, Karen Witemeyer is so great at writing that even if I don’t personally connect with some of the characters, I still love reading the story. She’s truly a master at writing historical romance. All of her settings and characters are so vivid, and the romance is always a delight. I highly recommend this book as well as any of her previous ones.

I received this book free from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Five Glass Slippers Blog Tour–Rachel Heffington Interview + Giveaway

Two fun blog tour posts in a row! Today I get to introduce you to Rachel Heffington, another of the five authors of the Five Glass Slippers stories. As with Emma, I got to ask Rachel one interview question as part of the tour.If you were in charge of planning the banquet for a ball, what would be on your menu?

Question: If you were in charge of planning the banquet for a ball, what would be on your menu?

Rachel: WHAT a fun question. Cheesecake, doubtless. And lemonade and sparkling cider. A lovely French-inspired table of olives, crusty bread and unusual cheese and sweet strawberries would stand to one side beside a dark chocolate and espresso bar. As for the actual meal, it would probably be something I made up in the kitchen but it would include fresh herbs, grilled fish, new potatoes, sourdough bread and something fruit. Also, lemon-asparagus and perhaps some wilted spinach salad with little pieces of crispy bacon and tiny slices of radish.

Ooh, sounds delicious, especially the cheesecake and cheese! (What can I say? I’m a Wisconsin girl.) Make sure you check out Rachel’s other stops on the tour! Here is a bit more about her.

About Rachel Heffington

RHeffingtonauthorpicRachel Heffington is a Christian, a novelist, and a people-lover. Outside of the realm of words, Rachel enjoys the Arts, traveling, mucking about in the kitchen, listening for accents, and making people laugh. She dwells in rural Virginia with her boisterous family and her black cat, Cricket.

In February 2014, Rachel released her debut novel, Fly Away Home, and is excited to collaborate on Five Glass Slippers with her fellow authoresses. She hopes to release her second full-length novel and first mystery (Anon, Sir, Anon) in autumn 2014. For more on Rachel, her current projects, and writing in general, visit her on her blog:

About “The Windy Side of Care” by Rachel Heffington

WindySideTitlePageAlisandra is determined to have her rights. She knows that she is the king’s secretly dispossessed daughter, the true heir to the throne. Prince Auguste is an imposter, and if she plays her cards right, Alis will prove it to the world! That is, if charming Auguste doesn’t succeed in winning her heart before she gets her chance . . .






The Five Glass Slippers collection will be on sale for only $.99 in Kindle format for the duration of the blog tour (June 23-28)! You can learn more about the entire collection on yesterday’s post featuring Emma Clifton. At such a great price, I highly recommend you grab it. ;)



Five Glass Slippers Prize PackAnd don’t forget the awesome giveaway! Here’s your chance to be Cinderella of the ball! One lucky winner will receive a paperback copy of Five Glass Slippers, several Cinderella-themed items (including a bookmark crafted by Belle on a Budget, a journal, and a DVD copy of the Disney movie), as well as special gifts handpicked by a few of the collection’s authors (a glass slipper cookie cutter with recipe, freeze-dried astronaut ice cream, and an Apple Tree Inn cup and saucer). This giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Five Glass Slippers Blog Tour–Emma Clifton Interview + Giveaway

Today I have a fun and special blog post to share with you. I am thrilled to be participating in the Five Glass Slippers Blog Tour, which happens to be my first blog tour not involving my own book. In case you haven’t seen the beautiful cover making its way around, Five Glass Slippers is a collection of Cinderella retellings I look forward to reading as soon as I have a bit of free time. As part of the tour, I get to ask Emma Clifton, one of the five authors, an interview question.

Question: What would be your ideal way to arrive at a ball?

Emma: Hmm, on the back of a pegasus or dragon. A carriage would also be nice. And I wouldn't want to arrive at the ball alone; I'd take a couple of friends and my sister with me. I'd have to arrive properly dressed too: in a fancy ball gown, but no glass slippers, please.

I’m liking the thought of arriving on a dragon. I’d definitely go for that, or a big black Friesian horse. ;) Emma will be answering a bunch more questions on several blogs, so make sure you check out the schedule to view them all. Here is a bit more about Emma.

About Emma Clifton

Emma ColorEmma Clifton has been thinking up stories since before she knew how to type them out. Reading books such as the Chronicles of Narnia, The Door Within Trilogy, and Redwall inspired her to take her writing more seriously. Though her rigorous homeschool education keeps her busy, she also enjoys sewing, reading, and spending time with her family in beautiful Northern Virginia.

About “Broken Glass” by Emma Clifton

BrokenGlassTitlePageThe slipper fits . . . but on the wrong girl! Rosalind never once danced with Prince Marius at the ball, for she is in love with his brother Henry. If only Rosalind and Marius would stop bickering long enough to invent a scheme, perhaps the three of them can find the real mystery lady. But they must work quickly, for dark deeds are afoot, and the kingdom is poised on the brink of disaster.

About the Collection

Final Cover

What happens when Cinderella is so painfully shy that she cannot bear the idea of attending the royal ball? Or when the slipper fits . . . but on the wrong girl? What happens when Cinderella is determined to oust an imposter prince from her rightful throne? Or when she is a cendrillon miner working from a space station orbiting a cthonian planet? What happens when Cinderella, a humble housemaid, is sent with a message for a prisoner trapped in a frightening fairy circus?
Here is Cinderella as you have never met her before, wearing glass slippers and off on unforgettable adventures!

Available now in paperback and Kindle formats!

The Five Glass Slippers collection will be on sale for only $.99 in Kindle format for the duration of the blog tour (June 23-28)! Make sure you snatch it up like I did!


Five Glass Slippers Prize Pack (1)And don’t forget about the giveaway! Here’s your chance to be Cinderella of the ball! One lucky winner will receive a paperback copy of Five Glass Slippers, several Cinderella-themed items (including a bookmark crafted by Belle on a Budget, a journal, and a DVD copy of the Disney movie), as well as special gifts handpicked by a few of the collection’s authors (a glass slipper cookie cutter with recipe, freeze-dried astronaut ice cream, and an Apple Tree Inn cup and saucer). This giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only.

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Writing Update

I’ve been neglecting my blogs lately. Seems like I have a mile long to-do list, but can never get anything finished. I do have a couple upcoming interview/blog tour posts, which will be fun. I also have a character spotlight scheduled for my Ilyon Chronicles behind the scenes blog tomorrow.

Something very exciting happened on Saturday. Resistance finally made it to the number 1 spot on Amazon’s Hot New Releases in Christian Fantasy! Needless to say I was pretty stoked.


Then, last week, I was lamenting over how long it’s taking me to write book 4 of Ilyon Chronicles and how I wished I could write faster in general. This isn’t the first time I’ve felt this way. This time, however, I decided that instead of just complaining, I would actually try to do something about it. I’ve always balked at the thought of setting word count goals. I’d rather just sit and write when I want to and not worry about such things. Well, in a perfect world, sure, but with the amount of book related work I have to do besides actually writing, it’s time to become more disciplined. So, starting this week, I decided I would set a goal of writing 1,500 words a day, 6 days a week. (It might end up to be 5 days a week some weeks. I’m not super strict about the weekends.). That adds up to 9,000+ words a week. At that rate, I could finish a book in 2-4 months. I like the thought of that. So far I’ve hit my goal every day this week, even doubling it on Monday. I’m sure some days will be torture, but I’m pretty determined.

I couldn’t hope to do this if I were writing longhand like I have for the past couple of years. The good thing is, I’m finally learning to write on the computer again thanks to my Microsoft Surface. I couldn’t do it without that thing. Since I only have the essentials on it, there’s not nearly as much I can get distracted with as on my desktop computer, so I’m able to focus a lot better on writing. It’s been kind of sad to say goodbye to my blue pencils, notebook paper, and binders, but in exchange I get a pretty blue keyboard with my Surface. ;) Anything to be able to write faster.

With this new writing schedule, I’m hoping to finish book 4 within the next 6-8 weeks. I’m iffy about it, but I might surprise myself. I will feel SO good having only two more books left to write in the series. It will also let off a little pressure and allow me time to edit The King’s Scrolls. It’s so hard to choose between writing and editing. I know I have to write to stay ahead of the earlier books being published, but I also have to edit if I’m to stay on schedule for publishing TKS. It can get frustrating, but I’m sure it will come together. It always does.

And, of course, there’s marketing. I’m SO behind on my marketing efforts for Resistance. Seriously, where is one supposed to find the time for all this? So if I’m scarce on my blogs, it’s because I’m buried beneath writing goals, editing deadlines, and miserable attempts at marketing. Oh, and did I mention my reading list, reviews needing to be written, and beta reading? That’s the life of an author for ya. I seriously envy other writers who seem to have it all together and get things done in a timely fashion. Half the time I feel like I’m spinning in circles. But would I trade what I’m doing for something else? Not a chance.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Homeschool Authors Read-to-Win

Would you like to get those awesome books above at a great discount price? Even better, would you also like a chance to win a Kindle loaded with more awesome books? Yes? Excellent! :D Come join in on the Homeschool Authors Read-to-Win challenge. Every week this summer, an author (including myself) will be featured on the Homeschool Authors blog and have their book at a discount price. So how do you win the Kindle, you ask? Head over to Homeschool Authors for the official rules of the challenge. This week features Katie Daniels, author of Supervillain of the Day. Make sure to check out her posts and the rest of the great authors on the schedule!
June 2 – Katie Daniels (Superhero of the Day)
June 9 – Jordan Smith (A Purple and Gold Afghan)
June 16 – Amber Schamel (Healers Touch)
June 23 – Jessica Greyson (Captive of Raven Castle)
June 30 – Nicole Sager (Hebbros)
July 7 – Jaye L. Knight (Resistance)
July 14 – Rachel Star Thomson 
July 21 –Elisabeth Grace Foley
July 28 – J. Grace Pennington (In His Image)
August 4 –Aubrey Hansen
August 11 – Rachel Rossano (Duty)
August 18 – Sarah Holman (A Different Kind of Courage)
August 25 – Alicia Willis (From the Dark to the Dawn)