End of the Year Wrap-up + New Years Resolutions

2017 was a year of growth for me.  It was the year which I think I sort of "found myself."  Yes, I know that has a lot of weird connotation, but it's true.  I found my identity in Him.  I definitely struggled a lot, but God helped me overcome those struggles.


  • I got a literary agent!
  • I overcame a lot of fear.
  • I conquered depression.
  • I met Hosanna Emily in person!  (On Tuesday, actually!)
  • I went on a mission trip to Peru.
  • I developed my writing and graphic design skills more.
  • I found the college I want to go to.
  • I wrote the first draft of another book.
  • My trip to Peru pushed me toward Christ.


  • Finish The Clockshifter revisions.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Get an internship at a graphic design company.
  • Go to college.
  • Write/edit more books.
  • Grow deeper in my relationship with the Lord.
  • Go to Realm Makers.
  • Read more.
  • Post here regularly.  (Sorry this blog has been falling to the wayside lately!)
Someone please force me to accomplish these goals.  :)

What are your 2017 highlights?  What are your resolutions for the new year?


No, I haven't died.

Hello everyone!

I'm sorry for my unexplained hiatus.  The last few weeks have been crazy with school and attempting to win NaNoWriMo.  How have you been?

Hopefully, I will write up a real post soon.



Introducing another Nadine Brandes Novel... | COVER REVEAL + ARC GIVEAWAY

Remember my love for her Out of Time Series?  It hasn't died.  Also, my love for Nadine hasn't died and never will.  (Seriously, she's one of the kindest people I've ever met.)

This pic = Nadine's sweet personality.  (Photo Cred: Instagram)


Introducing Fawkes, a historical fantasy novel!

(Also feast your eyes on this cover)

Thomas Fawkes is turning to stone, and the only cure to the Stone Plague is to join his father’s plot to assassinate the king of England.

Silent wars leave the most carnage. The wars that are never declared, but are carried out in dark alleys with masks and hidden knives. Wars where color power alters the natural rhythm of 17th century London. And when the king calls for peace, no one listens until he finally calls for death.

But what if death finds him first?

Keepers think the Igniters caused the plague. Igniters think the Keepers did it. But all Thomas knows is that the Stone Plague infecting his eye is spreading. And if he doesn’t do something soon, he’ll be a lifeless statue. So when his Keeper father, Guy Fawkes, invites him to join the Gunpowder Plot—claiming it will put an end to the plague—Thomas is in.

The plan: use 36 barrels of gunpowder to blow up the Igniter King James.

The problem: Doing so will destroy the family of the girl Thomas loves. But backing out of the plot will send his father and the other plotters to the gallows. To save one, Thomas will lose the other.

No matter Thomas’s choice, one thing is clear: once the decision is made and the color masks have been put on, there’s no turning back.

Doesn't this sound like a fantastic book?  When I got the email containing the cover, I wasn't sure about the cover, but now I love it.  I really hope you do too.  I cannot wait to see it sitting on my shelf when it releases on JULY 10, 2018.  (So far away, I know...)

Nadine has some awesome things planned for this book and future books, so make sure to check out her cover reveal post!

(Photo credit: Instagram)


Wouldn't it be amazing to get to read this Fawkes early?  Nadine's giving away one of these prized advanced reader copies as a part of her cover reveal tour!  Be sure to enter below or by clicking here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

for your following convenience...

About the Author

NADINE BRANDES once spent four days as a sea cook in the name of book research. She is the author of the award-winning Out of Time Seriesand her inner fangirl perks up at the mention of soul-talk, Quidditch, bookstagram, and Oreos. When she's not busy writing novels about bold living, she's adventuring through Middle Earth or taste-testing a new chai. She and her Auror husband are building a Tiny House on wheels. Current mission: paint the world in shalom.


How to Make a Professional eBook Cover for Free | GUEST POST by Adriana Raygoza

Hello everyone!  It's been a little while since I've posted.  Today I have Adriana Rayzoga with me.  Today she's coming at you with some graphic design tips!  I learned some nifty GIMP tricks from her video. :)

Over to you, Adriana!

Would you like to learn how to make a professional eBook cover? How about a professional eBook cover that looks like this?

What if I told you can do it with very little experience? Would you be interested in learning?

What if I told you this kind of cover is possible without Photoshop?

What if I told you this cover was made with completely free royalty free stock photos?

What if I told you everything from the art program used to the photos, from the font to border was free?

If you would like to learn how I made this cover, check this video out.

You will find direct links to all the resources I used to create the cover in the description on YouTube. If you like the video, let me know in the comments here or on YouTube. I’d love to hear from you! And if you have any requests, feel free to offer them! (Note from Alea: Here's the link to the video, or you can click the title in the embedded video above.)

If you already have some graphic design skills, check out these awesome resources where you can find free (legal) digital supplies for your works of art. You are sure to find something you love!


  • GIMP: Free digital art program.
  • Pixabay: Free photos, you need an account to download, but it's also free and they have great pictures.
  • Pexels: Free Photos (no account needed) 
  • Deeezy: Free photos, fonts, patterns, borders, and more.
  • Dealjumbo: Free photos, fonts, patterns, borders, and more.

Adriana Raygoza is a student of The Master University and an up-and-coming graphic designer. She loves books, writing, superheroes, art (various mediums), creating jewelry, and outdoor activities. If you would like to stay up-to-date with what she is doing, you can find her at:

Facebook  |   YouTube   |   Instagram

What did you learn from Adriana's post?  We'd love to hear from you!


End of the Year Goals

This was supposed to post last Monday, but I forgot to schedule it.  #oops.

This year has been crazy for me (clearly, since I forgot to publish this post).

I mean CRAZY.

But I do have goals I want to accomplish before the end of the year (well, maybe more like the end of Christmas break).

I'm pretty sure I stole this post idea from someone, but I'm not sure who.  Probably a conglomeration of bloggers.

1. Finish rewriting The Clockshifter.  (yes, again.)

2. Memorize all of my lines for Little Women.

In January I'm in a play!  And I'm one of the main roles, so please pray for me.

3. Exercise regularly.

4. Read two more books. (Harder than you'd think.)

5. Survive school (and get good grades).

6. Finish my online class.

7. Write my research paper (and get a good grade on it).

8. (This is last because I want it to be a goal for all time) Get closer to God.

Sorry for the "thrown together post".  I'm kind of dry on good post ideas.  I'm also trying to define what this blog really is.  If you have any ideas for me, please comment!


The Types of High School Writers

It's hard to find time to write in high school.  Goodness, I've written maybe 3,000 words since school started about two months ago.  But, some high school writers still find ways to write.

(Warning: this post includes a lot of sarcasm.)

1. The "English Class is Actually My Novel" Writer

This fortunate writer's parents decided that since writing is obviously their child's future occupation and the family homeschools, the child should learn English via novel writing.

2. The "Secret Study Hall" Writer

This writer uses study hall to work on his novel, but shhhhh, don't tell the teacher. Who needs to do science homework anyway?

3. The Lunchtime Writer

Lunch isn't for talking to real friends, it's for playing with fictional characters.  This writer uses her 20 minute lunch break to write.

4. The "Forget Notes, I Have a Plot Bunny" Writer

Math class is too boring and this shiny new story is blossoming in my mind.  This writer pretends he is taking notes, but he is actually writing another chapter. (Also he's probably praying that his teacher doesn't call on him.)

5. The Studious, Overcommitted Writer

This writer really wants time to write but has overcommitted herself to grades and extracurricular activities.  Also, she's too studious to prioritize writing over school.  (Also slightly terrified of failing.). This writer hardly ever writes.

What type of writer describes you?


Blogging Break

My life is kind of crazy right now, so I'm taking a bit of a blogging break.  In the meantime, here are some other blogs you can read.


pretty, new book covers you should totally be aware of + "The Ankulen" cover design process | Kendra's bookshelf overhaul

Like I've mentioned before (at least a dozen times), I like pretty books.  I love being able to show them off on my bookshelf and politely force my friends to read them.

I forget when I first discovered Kendra, but I'm pretty sure it was through Jaye L. Knight.  Anyway, I picked up her books when they were free.  I loved Kendra's witty writing style and twists on cliches.  The only thing I didn't like was her book covers.

Long story short...I designed three of her new covers!  I also helped her revise her others.  (Note: this post is a part of Kendra's Bookshelf Overhaul.)


And here are the covers for The Bookania Quests...


For some reason Blogger isn't letting me format the pictures to that the book covers are in order...sorry.  Apparently I can format a book cover, but not a blog post.  lol.

Also, Sew, it's a Quest is a permanent free ebook on Smashwords!


In celebration of her bookshelf overhaul, Kendra is giving away a FULL set of books!  Hop on over to her blog for details.  Yes, comments on this post count for points.

The Ankulen Cover Design Process

Click to enlarge
This was initial concept for The Ankulen.  I couldn't find a bracelet that did the think I want, so I had to tweak it in GIMP.  Don't worry, it was never intended to go on the finished cover.

Kendra said that she liked the concept, but thought it looked a little too "Princess Diaries".  She also sent me a picture of her legs (which I used in the final cover) and the actual Ankulen she made.

So I went to work again...

Click to enlarge

I adjusted the coloring and added Kendra's images in.  But it was too plain.  There was a bunch of dead space.  It didn't look right.

Click to enlarge

I added the word castle, word dragon, and ink splatters behind it.  Originally, I used the back cover synopsis as the text.  But Kendra suggested I use the first words of the book...

Click to enlarge
The Final Result!

...so I did.  But, some readers expressed some concerns with the cover, so Kendra and I made a few more changes.

Other Participating Blogs

Kendra E. Ardnek loves fairytales and twisting them in new and exciting ways. She's been or acting them on her dozen plus cousins and siblings for years. "Finish your story, Kendra," is frequently heard at family gatherings. Her sole life goal has always been to grow up and be an author of fantasy and children's tales that glorify God and His Word.

What do you think of Kendra's new book covers?  Have you read any of her books?


living with anxiety.

Yes, I realize that this isn't Monday.  This post explains a little bit about why I didn't post on earlier this week.

I have pretty bad anxiety.  I haven't had a doctor diagnosis this, but I know I have it.  I feel it every time I try something new.  I feel it every time my body feels a little different than it did yesterday.  I feel it every time I'm overwhelmed.  I feel it every time I think about college and the future.

I'm a very anxious person and it affects me physically.

1. I push through a lot of stomach problems.

I deal with a lot of nausea.  Don't worry, I don't suffer from some sort of gastrointestinal disease.  My nausea is caused by nerves.  Many days, I have to choke down breakfast before leaving for school.  I have to clench my hands together and make myself look like I'm not super sick the block before a test.  At the end of my freshman year of high school, I stayed home from school for 3 days because of severe anxiety-induced nausea (the plus side of this scenario is that it got me out of dissection in biology).  This nausea isn't something I can pray myself out of.  Sometimes it's there without the "butterflies in my stomach" telling me that I'm nervous.

2. I don't have a lot of energy.

Anxiety takes so much energy out of me.  Almost every day I come home from school emotionally exhausted, so I can't do much other than homework (barely), doodle (which relieves stress for me), and watch tv.  My family always gets on me for being tired all of the time, but coping with anxiety is exhausting.

3. Sometimes I can't reign in my thoughts.

You know those out of control panicky thoughts that go along the lines with, "I'm going to die"?  Sometimes I find those rushing through my head at lightning speed and I can't stop them.  No matter what I do to try to take my mind off whatever I'm freaking out about, I still freak out.  My mind wanders from the book I'm so desperately trying to get sucked into.  My mind wanders away from the comforting Psalms I try to read to calm myself.  (I'm actually having that right now.)

4. I freak out very easily.

One of my biggest freak-out triggers is people acting suspicious and my health.  For some reason, both of those things set me off.

5. The only person who can help me through this is God.

In Peru, I had a major God moment (well, moments) where I realized that I wasn't following God at all.  The trip drew me closer to Him, but not as much as the past two weeks have.  Okay, I'm going to go back in time for a minute.  On the Peru trip, there was something called Cry Night (basically confession night).  I gave up my fearfulness.  But the past two weeks, the Enemy has been attacking me with a lot of fear and anxiety.  The only thing I can do whenever that happens is to pray and try to read God's Word.  Basically, I could use a LOT of prayer right now.

Do you deal with anxiety?  What are some ways you cope with it?  Has it drawn you closer to God?


my tip to writing faster (especially when you aren't motivated).

I'm the kind of person who will look at the clock, realize I have an hour of misery left in this miserable class, and then tell myself that I have three 20 minute increments left.  Suddenly, an hour seems much less.  That sounds super weird, but I'm kinda weird like that. :)

Where am I going with this weird time thing?

A couple of years ago, Katie Grace told me about this amazing site called WriteDeck.  Its a site where you race other writers (or yourself) to a certain word count.

WriteDeck motivates me to write even when I don't want to because a.) I'm competitive and want to win and b.) it's a different format.  Also, it's tricking my brain into making me write faster.  Why, I don't know.

I usually race myself so I can get the full amount of words in.  If I do 2 races to 500 words, I have a thousand words written!  Breaking up the word sprint into smaller intervals helps keep my creative juices flowing faster.  It's also how I've written some of a new WIP. (hint: it's contemporary and apocalyptic. #queenofmixingopppositegenres)

Have you ever used WriteDeck?  Did it help motivate you to write?


Changing Dreams.

This is going to be a very real post, friends.

When I was 8 years old, I made my first movie.  It was based off a book I wrote.  As I grew older, I made many more short films with my sister.  They weren't scripted and usually lacked a plot, actual special effects, and guys.  It was my dream to be a movie director/editor/actress/literally every spot in the credits.  (I'm not kidding. In my movies, the end credits were littered with my name.)  Whenever someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer was, "I'm not quite sure, but I want to do something in the film industry."

As I matured, I wanted to make better films.  But, I didn't have the resources to make the movies I wanted to make.  I wanted to make an awesome medieval movie with dragons...but I only had 2 actors (though sometimes 4), nothing to make a CGI dragon, and no medieval costumes.  I kept coming up with stories, so I created movies with words.

Slowly, I became more devoted to writing than filmmaking.  I took up graphic design, where I can make fantastical images.  Though I didn't want to admit it...my dream of being a filmmaker faded.  It isn't my dream anymore.

My dream now?  To share God's love through quality books and graphic design.

I don't feel God calling me to go into the movie industry.  I feel him calling me to be a storyteller with words and still images.  Right now, I kinda feel like a little of me is dying, but it's good.  I'm changing.  God is directing me to where He wants me to go.  And it's beautiful.  I can't wait for the future.

Has your dream ever changed?  What is your dream now?


Author Interview with Katie Emmons ||| The Blood Race BLOG TOUR

 About the Book

He’s spent his life running from who he is. She’s been trying to escape her past for 100 years…

Born with unexplainable abilities he struggles to control, college student Ion tries desperately to integrate into his new school and finally put his dark past behind him. But after making a serious enemy, which leads to an accidental rendezvous with the mysterious old man next door— and his hauntingly beautiful but troubled young protégée Hawk, Ion realizes his life will never be normal again.

Late one evening, Hawk drags him by the hand into a closet-turned-rabbit-hole to an extra dimension, and Ion finds himself stumbling involuntarily into a secret society of training for “anomalies,” teenagers with a special set of abilities. Just like him.

As they train to become Protectors of future Earth, battling each other as well as their own demons, both Ion and Hawk begin to realize that they are far more alike than they realized. Unsettlingly so.

When the Dimension is shaken by an unthinkable betrayal, will an ancient prophecy bring Hawk and Ion together—or will a deadly threat hidden in plain sight cost them both their powers… and their lives?

Author Interview

Hello everyone!  Today I have Katie Emmons, author of The Blood Race here with me today!

What inspired you to start writing?

Thinking back, would probably have to say it was the fact that my mom read to my sister and I every single night when we were growing up. I grew to love literature and the art of storytelling largely because of that. 

I started writing short stories and alternate endings for video games when I was super young… some single digit age, and from there went on to write my first novel when I was in my tweens. 

Do you remember the exact moment you came up with the idea for The Blood Race?

I do have a very distinct memory of hanging out in my living room one summer day probably staring at a potted plant when the idea came to me. Just kidding about the potted plant part though.

What is your favorite part of the writing process?

Plunking myself down at my desk, or across the dining room table from my sister with a big mug of coffee and letting the words flow. I love the actual writing process, especially on a good day, when I feel super pumped up on the story. 

Second to that, I love listening to music in the car and thinking about the characters and whatever scene I happen to be working on. 

Coffee or tea?

I think I gave myself away a bit in the question above! Coffee! Although, I am a big tea drinker as well when it’s cooler outside. Sure, coffee is hot too, but... how could we do without it? 

What was the hardest part about writing The Blood Race?

Hmm. The trickiest bit was probably writing some of the slower technical aspects on days when I was itching to write something faster paced. I like to speed write, and sometimes with technical aspects, I’ll make myself slow down and take a step back to get a fresh perspective so I can bring just as much energy to a discussion as I do to a fight, or some other climatic scene.

Would you rather The Blood Race be made into a movie or TV show?
Movie, all the way! 

I honestly run the story through my head all the time in movie form (I’m very visual), and I see the characters and the setting in my mind’s eye as I write it as if I am watching it play out in front of me and just jotting down what I see/feel as the character I’m writing for. That being said, actually seeing The Blood Race in movie form, up on the silver screen would be pretty epic. 

Who would direct the movie?  Who is your dream cast?

Ooohh, tough one! I’m one of those people who barely pays attention to actor/actress names, and producer names. I’m a fan of Spielberg - the films I’ve seen of his have been boss. (Thinking of Bridge of Spies and War Horse here). I’m sure there are a few others I would love to see direct it as well.

As for the dream cast… I guess you could say it’s still very much under construction and I am open for suggestions! I would be really curious to hear from my readers what actors and actresses they would cast as the characters.

Thank you so much for joining us today, Katie!

Thank you so much for this opportunity, Alea! I so appreciate it! <3 :d="" a="" answer.="" div="" fun="" lot="" of="" questions="" to="" were="" your="">

About the Author

When she’s not hermiting away in her colorfully-painted home office writing her next science fiction, passionate story-teller and adventurer Kate Emmons is probably on the road for a surf or hiking trip, listening to vinyls, or going for a power run. Emmons lives in the often-snowy hills of rugged Vermont with her husband and dog named Rocket.


Oops...I Left My Heart In Peru

Like I mentioned in my last post, I spent 10 days in Lima, Peru.  It was absolutely amazing and changed my life.  I feel like a different person.  Normal life doesn't feel normal anymore--it feels dull.  I miss the people of Peru.  I miss my friends on Team 1 (and our fan club member, Amber).

Okay, I'll start at the beginning.

We did this trip with Never the Same Missions/Big World Ventures.  If you haven't heard of them, they are a fantastic organization that does summer mission trips for teens.  (Adults can go on it too, but it's geared towards teens and young adults.  Adults are there mainly to minister to teens.)  During the day, we ministered to the people of Peru and at night, we had a youth conference sort of thing.

On June 24, we arrived at the Embassy Suites in Ft. Lauderdale, FL for leader training.  My sister and I hung out with some other the other "kids" while Mom was in training.  This involved many, many Dutch Blitz games and some very violent games of Spoons.  Also, there were some Coldstone Creamery runs where almost all of the people on the trip went.  We filled up the entire store.  I'm pretty sure that the people working there hated us.

Mom and my sister in front of the hotel.
June 26 is when things really started picking up.  The rest of the people arrived and we had our first FUAGNEM (fired up and going nuts every minute...aka the youth conference) and drama auditions.  This mission trip is based around a drama that presents the gospel, which is awesome and fun!  I was cast as the baseball player (shocking because I'm not athletic at all) and my sister was cast as a mime.

The next day started intense drama practice.  Intense as in from 9am to 6pm with an hour for lunch.

Here's a little excerpt from what I wrote on the second day of drama practice:

I'm exhausted.  My legs are sore, my eyes stay open from sheer need to remain awake, and I hear video-game style music playing over and over in my head.  Today was a very long day...and it's not over yet.  This morning, we had to eat breakfast at 7, meet with our team (GO TEAM 1!) at 8, and be ready for drama practice at 9.  Since then, I've had two 20 minute breaks and an hour lunch break.  But I'm not complaining because I'm having so much fun!  I've met so many amazing new people who are on fire for the Lord!  (Our team is so lively and amazing!)

Then on July 29, we flew to Lima.  The flight was very longgggg and boring because the airline we flew on didn't have TVs.  I also forgot earbuds...


Okay, so like I said in my post last week, traffic is insane in Lima.  So, it took us about an hour to drive to the hotel...even though it was about midnight.

The next morning, we had to be up at 7 to go down to breakfast.  Team time was at 8 (where we met with our team for devotions) and we left at 9.
This is breakfast on one of the later days.

There were two kinds of ministry days:

1. Drama days - we performed the drama three times in public places like parks and marketplaces.

Here we were at a school.
Here we're at a park.

People watch our drama in a market.

2. Community days - we spend the day in a community doing some small work projects, playing with the kids (painting faces and making balloon flowers + swords.) 

Me painting a little girl's face.

One of the communities was on a cliff.

We also had a couple of free days.  On the first free day, we went to a local restaurant called Cafe Cafe.  Oh my goodness was it amazing.  That night, the entire mission team went to Shalom Church.  It was one the most amazing services I've ever experienced.  We had an hour and a half of worship in both English and Spanish.  Then, Susie Shellenberger gave a message (with a translator).  We performed the drama for the church.  Also, there was a dance party at the end, which was super cool.  It was amazing to worship with the Peruvian people!

The second free day was an excursion to the Peruvian desert where we went sandboarding (basically snow boarding on sand dunes.)  I'm still dumping sand out of my tennis shoes.

When we were here, all I could think about was
how much this looks like Katie Grace's novel,
Song of the Desert!

The third free day, my mom and sister went to the market, but I stayed back because I was coming down with a cold and we were to fly back home that night (fun, right?).

Other Cool Stuff That Happened

1. I gave my testimony for the first time.

After every drama performance,  someone would explain the drama and then someone else would give his/her testimony.  The last day, God gave me the courage to share what He's done in my life.

2. We invited a school to come watch the drama.

3. A lot of people got saved!

There will be people in heaven because a bunch of teenagers and adults took part of their summer to go to Peru.  Oh, and one girl on our team got saved...but I'll talk about that in a minute. :)

4. This is cool as in cold.  At our hotel, the hot water didn't always work.  Not fun.

The guy who organizes the trips says usually the hotels are a step up from where we stayed.  However, the hotel we stayed at this time had a lot of character.


You could go out on the roof, which was AWESOME.

5. The guys put on a special candlelit rooftop cake party.

Each girl got a rose, note, and a slice or two of cake.  It was so special!  There are great, godly guys out there. :)


These things were incredible.  The worship.  The messages.  Oh, they were so life-changing.  One night, we talked about not waiting to let go of our sins.  Don't wait.  And that's the meaning behind the green shirt you saw me wearing while eating breakfast that says "Today.  Right Now.  Immediately."  That was such a moving night.  We separated into our teams and let go of all of our sins.  There was a lot of hugging and crying (hence the nickname "Cry Night")--especially when one of our team members gave her life to Christ!  Oh, it was so amazing.  We'd all been praying for her so hard!  I started sobbing I was so happy.

This was on 4th of July.

That's all that I can think of for now.  There might be a part 2 later. (Unless you guys are tired of me rambling about the trip and how amazing it was.)

To close this post out, here are some words from my Mom:

Next year, Big World Ventures is going to Guatemala, and we would love to go.  (Many people participate in these trips year after year.)  We are praying about God’s plan for us.  If any of you feel called to do a mission trip next summer, we would highly recommend this trip for all ages.  One woman on our trip is in her 60s and pulled around her oxygen with her everywhere that we went.  You would not believe the health problems that she has, but she does not let anything stop her, and God used her in mighty ways to impact many lives.  Please let us know if you are interested.

Have you ever been on a mission trip?  I'd love to hear about it in the comments!