End of the Year Wrap-Up + Survey

2015 was a pretty big year for me!  Here is the play-by-play...well...the month-by-month.  :)

- 1st anniversary of being a writer.

- The King's Scrolls by Jaye L. Knight was released!

- My birthday and an amazing peanut butter chocolate birthday cake!

- Read A Time to Die by Nadine Brandes for the first time!
- I finished the 1st draft of The Clockshifter!

- 1st Year Blogiversary
- I went on my first mission trip!
- I had the privilege of interviewing the awesome Nadine Brandes!

- I went on vacation to Washington D.C. and other places.
- I allowed comments on my blog!
- Half-Blood by Jaye L. Knight was released!

- Water Princess, Fire Prince by Kendra E. Ardnek was released!

- I started a blog with a group of Christian girls.

- A Time to Speak by Nadine Brandes was released!

- I began writing a new book!
- NaNoWriMo
- I send The Clockshifter out to beta readers.

- I traveled to visit my awesome writing buddy, Katie Grace.
- I got a lot of books for Christmas.  :D
- I rewatched all of the Star Wars movies and joined the fandom.  I also saw the new one!

Next Year...

(This is sort of the "New Years resolution" part of the post.)

1. I really want to try to read 100 books.  (It helps that I have had at least 15 book recomendations today.)
2. I want to completely finish The Clockshifter.
3. Attend Realm Makers.
4. Blog more. (If you have any requests, please either put them in the comments or fill out the survey.)
5. Spend more time writing.


What are some of your New Years resolutions?  Do you have any requests for blog posts?  Any book recommendations? What are some of your highlights from 2015?


Book Ratings

I have read quite a few books since doing my last review.  Instead of writing a detailed review of each one, I will summarize my thoughts and put it with a starred rating.

1. Goddess Tithe by Anne Elisabeth Stengl - 4/5 Stars - Awesome little adventure.  It took me a little while to get into it, though.

2. Orphan's Song by Gillian Bronte Adams - 3/5 Stars - The only parts I really got into were the parts with Ky.  I really liked the world building of this book.

3. Do You Take this Quest? by Kendra E. Ardnek - 4/5 Stars - A quick read that does a great job of continuing the first book.  It was a little confusing keeping all of the names straight.

4. My Kingdom for a Quest by Kendra E. Ardnek - 3/5 Stars - It took me a little longer to get into this one, but it was good towards the end!

5. The Ankulen by Kendra E. Ardnek - 5/5 Stars - This is one of my favorite books by Kendra.  It is so imaginative with her signature sense of humor.  :D How could I not love this book?

6. By Darkness Hid by Jill Williamson - 4/5 Stars - I really enjoyed this book.  Read it.  :)

7. Implant by J. Grace Pennington - 4/5 Stars - This book kept me interested the entire time.  I did not see some of it coming.  The end confused me.  I'm not sure exactly what happened. Spoiler: The end wasn't clear of whether what he had actually time traveled or not.  What happened to him after?  Did he die of cancer?  If you have some insight on this, please let me know in the comments!  End spoiler.

8. Across the Stars by Morgan Elizabeth Huneke - 3/5 Stars - I wasn't a huge fan of this book.  It was unrealistic, and some parts I skimmed over.  It is a great book for younger kids.  I love how she ties in American history into it!  If you have younger children, I highly recommend they read this!

9. Creighton Hill by Morgan Elizabeth Huneke - 4/5 Stars - This.  Is.  Awesome.  This book is like Narnia, but completely original at the same time.  The character development is fantastic.  :D I love it.

10. The Crossways by Morgan Elizabeth Huneke - 4/5 Stars - This book is a great sequel to Creighton Hill!  It carries the story beautifully!  My only problem is I expected it to be harder to get the Redona.


How to Avoid Cliches in Christmas Stories

Hello my dear readers!  It is finally the Christmas season!  It is perfectly okay to burst into a random Christmas carol and sing along to songs in Walmart...not saying I do this or anything...

The Christmas season also means Christmas movies!  Oh how I love watching Christmas movies.  I find I watch more TV during the Christmas season than any other time of year (mostly because a lot of them are pretty clean).


All that I have been watching have had the same plot, more or less.  They are cliche Christmas movies.  You know, the one where one big city character needs to get his or her life together, is sent to some small middle-of-nowhere town.  There, this character meets a person of the opposite gender, changes his or her life, and fall in love.  There is sometimes some sort of love triangle too.  Typically they end on Christmas eve with a proposal and/or kiss.  *sigh* How romantic...except for the fact that they are all the same.

Here are some tips on how to avoid the cliche Christmas Romance Story.

1. Make the point of the movie something other than romance.  I like a nice (appropriate) love story just as much as the next girl, however, it is getting a little old in Christmas movies.

2. Avoid the guy-on-wrong-path-changes-his-life cliche.  How about a book where everyone is following God?  Maybe the guy is a criminal who changes his life.  How about he go to jail in the end for a change?  I watched a Christmas movie recently that had this happen and it was a nice change.

3. How about an adventure?  Christmas movies are usually chick flicks.  How about a Christmas adventure movie?  That would be very fun!

4. Keep Christ in Christmas.  A lot of Christmas movies are about Christmas and Santa.  Sometimes God is in it too, but the center isn't around Christ being born to die on the cross.

What are some of your favorite Christmas movies?  What Christmas movies have you seen that are not cliche?  Let me know in the comments!


Beautiful Books #3 - Editing The Clockshifter

I did the first Beautiful Books link - up hosted by Cait and Sky - before NaNoWriMo began about To Be Awake.  I haven't yet finished To Be Awake so I will be doing this on The Clockshifter.  This is so very close to being done!  It has a couple of last minute touches and then it will go out to my awesome beta readers!  (If you would like to be a beta reader, you still have today to sign up!)

  1. Comparative title time: what published books, movies, or TV shows are like your book? (Ex: Inkheart meets X-Men.)
Hmm...comparing titles.  I do love comparing titles.  :D  I like to say that it is Sleeping Beauty meets Doctor Who.  There are also other comparitive titles, but these are the main ones.

  1. Do you enjoy working with deadlines and pressure (aka NaNoWriMo)? Or do you prefer to write-as-you’re-inspired?
Deadlines cause me to have inspiration, particularly NaNoWriMo.

  1. How do you go about editing? Give us an insight into your editing process.
First, I read through it, and fix some little things to make it bearable for me to do anything major too.  Second, I rewrite every single sentence until it is even more perfect.  Third, I edit some more, doing more line edits and things, and fixing any flaws I see.  Fourth, once I have perfected as much as I can, I will send it to beta readers.  

That's basically what I have figured out after a year of trial and error.  :)

  1. What aspect of your story needs the most work?
My characters definitely need the most work.  I feel like they have little to no personality.  It could just be me, though, because I'm a total perfectionist when I come to my writing.

  1. What aspect of your story did you love the most?
:D The wibbly wobbly timey wimey...stuff.  (Though in my book this term is rephrased as "time travel stuff.")

  1. Give us a brief run down on your main characters and how you think they turned out. Do you think they’ll need changes in edits?
Lyric - An introvert who notices everything and is also secretly very opinionated.  When she gets used to being around someone she becomes less shy.

Finn - More extroverted.  Protective of Lyric.

Yes.  They need help...especially Finn.

  1. What are your plans for this novel once you finish editing? More edits? Finding beta readers?
I'm going to change this question a bit since I already answered this above.  After beta readers, I am planning on making suggested changes, doing a major line edit, and then start querying publishers and literary agents!

  1. Querying? Self-publishing? Hiding it in a dark hole forever?
Querying.  At one point I considered self publishing this book, but I realized it wasn't near ready and it has always been my dream to have it traditionally published.  I highly respect Indie authors, however.

  1. Share a favorite snippet!
        This was it, the very last time my Learning Chip would be updated. I lowered myself down into a lounge chair in the center of the blindingly white room.  A florescent light bulb on the ceiling silhouetted the woman with perfect blonde hair I had always remembered.
"Are you comfortable?" she said. Butter. Her voice still reminded me of butter.
"Yes, ma'am." As much as one could be in that room. It had always made me nervous. I readjusted my position.  The paper covering crinkled.
"This may pinch for a second.” She held up a thin black wire. "Turn your head for me."
I turned away from her and pulled back my dull brown hair, revealing a small square bald spot filled with a black chip. She connected a wire to it, a small pinch ensued. I bit my lip.
"All done, Miss Valvo.” She took the sleek white headphones from the table next to my chair and handed them to me. “What music would you like to listen to?"
"Soft, calming music, I think." I definitely needed something to calm myself down.
"Okay, put these on." She handed me the headphones and flipped a switch on the table.
Sweet music filled my ears. I closed my eyes.
"A little review," the smooth voice of a man said. "Who is the ruler of the Confederation of Facta-est?"
"Vladimir Fang," I said. My tense muscles began to relax.  My body tingled. Then all feeling disappeared.  When this had first happened to me, I freaked out; but that was ten years ago. 
The blurry image of a man appeared in the darkness of my mind.  No matter how hard I strained my eyes, they would not focus on them.  Probably a flaw in the computer system.
“How many Units are there?” 
Did he have to ask such easy questions? That came in an Update about eight years ago!  I kept my thoughts to myself. Arguing would do no good.  “Seven.”
“Good. Now on to something a bit harder,” the computerized man said.

  1. What are your writing goals and plans for 2016?
-Finish first draft of To Be Awake.
-Start querying publishers and agents.  (A dream would be to sign with one.)
-Attend Realm Makers.
-Start editing To Be Awake.
-Start the first draft of another book.

What are your 2016 writing plans?  How is your current writing/editing going?  Let me know in the comments!


Beta Readers Wanted!

Hello, my dear readers!

I am very excited and slightly terrified to share with you that I am ready to find beta readers for my book, The Clockshifter!  *Throws confetti in the air*  It has been a long process, but it's finally time!

About the Book

A little graphic I made for it.  :) Photos came from Unsplash and the font
came from DaFont.
Lyric Valvo has lived in the Building her entire life.  That changes when she is tossed back in time and recruited into the military.  Stuck in the past, she learns of a prophecy given by someone called the Clockshifter.  This person has more of a connection to the future than she thought, and his agenda is less than friendly.

More Info:
Genre: Science Fiction/Dystopian
Date Begun: July 21, 2014
Current Word Count: About 50,000 (this may vary by the time I send it out.)

If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below!  Sign-ups should be open for a week or so.

(Sign ups now closed.)


5 Books I'm Grateful For | BLACK FRIDAY BOOK SALE

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  Just looking back at the past year I see that I have been so blessed, even though going through a pretty tough time in my life.  So...Happy Thanksgiving!

Like most other bookworms, great books make their way onto my "things I'm thankful for" list every year. It's hard to choose favorites, but  I went ahead and picked five books I read in 2015 and am thankful for.
    1. The King's Scrolls by Jaye L. Knight - This book tells of hope and faith in the darkest of times!  One of my all time favorites.  :D

    2. A Time To Die by Nadine Brandes - I promise you, this book is not as morbid as it sounds.  It is really a story of living your life to the fullest!

    3. A Time to Speak by Nadine Brandes - Equally as good or better than it's previous book, A Time to Die.  It encourages everyone to speak up for what they believe in and to not give in to fear.

    4. Water Princess, Fire Prince by Kendra E. Ardnek - I love this book so much!  It is wonderfully written with a wonderful story.  The story is right up my alley with Christian values with an epic portal fantasy tale.

    5. Shadowhand by Anne Elisabeth Stengl - This.  Book.  Is.  Mindblowing.  Each Tales of Goldstone Wood book gets better!
    I don't know about you, but I'm looking forward to another great year of reading! Speaking of more reading, here's one more thing to be grateful for. Books on sale! In honor of Thanksgiving and Black Friday, a group of independent Christian authors banded together to offer over seventy discounted books on Nov 27-30. There's literally something for everyone.
    Every single book listed on Indie Christian Books is on sale in one or more ways. Find discounted paperbacks, dozens of books offered with free shipping, $0.99 ebooks, package deals and more. Even if you have a budget of $0, new reading material awaits you.
    Don't know what to pick? The fearless Indie Christian Books team created a quiz that will generate a book list perfect for you! Check it out!
    Book Quiz
    What awesome reads of 2015 are you grateful for? What books are you looking forward to reading in 2016?
    A note on the Ebooks Only page. All books are listed as "Sold Out." This only refers to paperback copies of these titles. Please click onto the product pages to find descriptions and links to discounted or free ebooks.
    Acknowledgements: Thanks to Leah E. Good for her work organizing this sale, Gloria Repp for completing the time consuming job of uploading book info to the sale website, and Hannah Mills  for her fantastic design work on the website graphics. Hannah can be contacted at hmills(at)omorecollege(dot)edu for more information about her design services.


    Why I Write My Books Like A Movie

    My fourth grade teacher was the one who taught me to love writing.  Thank you, Mrs. Hunt, wherever you are!  She also had this one saying for when we were writing stories (or narritave as they are called in school.)  She would always say.

    Write it like a mind movie.

    It made complete and total sense.  It still does, actually.

    So now, whenever I write a book, I watch the scene as I write like I am watching the movie.  I add camera angles, special effects, and color grading in my mind.  I watch it like a finished movie would look.  (And what do you know, it's EXACTLY like the book?  LOL)

    1. It helps with character voice.  Picturing the characters and watching events happen in my mind just helps me develop unique voices for my characters.  It helps me hear their voices in my head and each one sounds different.

    2. It helps me with description.  Watching stuff play out in my mind like a movie helps me picture setting in my mind just the way I want it.  (Can you tell I'm a very visual person?)

    3. It captivates my attention to the point where I don't realize I am typing anymore.  Do you ever read a book and forget you are actually reading words on a page and then you go back to real life and think, "Who and where am I?"  I certainly have.  Watching a movie of my book while I write it is sort of like that.  (While editing The Clockshifter I sometimes accidentally refer to the character as myself.  LOL)

    5. I love making movies.  If I don't have the resources to make the movie now, I can at least make it in my mind.  :)

    Do you ever make a mind movie of your book?  Am I weird for doing this?  Comment away!


    NaNoWriMo Is Over Halfway Over?

    How is NaNoWriMo over halfway over?  Time flies when life gets crazy!

    Last week was the craziest week of my life.  Life pretty much exploded.  Because of that, I'm about 13,000 words behind.

    My Life:
    Theater, terrifying experience, watching soccer game, sleep, journalism, soccer game, sister's birthday, journalism, sleep, mom's birthday, sleep, sister's birthday party, movie at friend's house, sleep, Church, house cleaning and other neglected stuff, dinner at grandparents' house, sleep.

    Crazy, right?  Hardly any time for writing.  I'm thinking that I won't make it to 50k, so I am shooting for about 25k words, which I have done a few times before.

    How is your writing going?


    From the Fandom Friday Link Up

    Greetings, my dear readers!

    I have decided that the final post for From the Fandom Friday will be a link-up!

    What you do:
    -Write a letter to your favorite author.
    -Post it on your blog on Friday, October 30.  (Don't forget to steal the graphic I made!)
    -Put the link to your post in the comments.
    -Share your post!

    I apologize, I couldn't get an "official" link up to work in this post.  The coding the website gave me didn't work or something techy like that.  :(  So, what I would like for you to do is post the link to your post in the comments and then on Saturday, I will post all of the participants in a new post.  Thank you so much for understanding!

    Show love to your favorite authors!

    -Alea Harper


    The Crossways - BLOG TOUR + GIVEAWAY

    I am very pleased to be able to participate in Morgan Elizabeth Huneke's blog tour for her new book, The Crossways!

    About the Book

    “M’lady, it has been fairly well confirmed that the Redona was hidden away by the merfolk at the conclusion of the Great War instead of destroyed as was commanded. My brother has confirmed to me Joseph’s belief that it was concealed at the Crossways.”
    Toarna pressed her fingertips together in thought. “It must be recovered and destroyed as was at first intended.”

    Emily, Allan, Jill, and Joey have been reunited with their long lost ancestors. But with that reunion comes the true beginning of their quest: free the rightful king of Calhortz so that he may be restored to his throne. The Redona, the only object that can free him from his long imprisonment, is rumored to be concealed in The Crossways, a mountain across the sea which cannot be entered.
    A slave since birth, Adriel’s resentment and hatred towards the strytes only grows as his family is continually ripped from him. He longs for the freedom the Time Captives are prophesied to bring, but he doubts their existence, just as he doubts God’s love. Circumstances in Calhortz are so dire. How could they ever improve?
    Who can enter The Crossways? Will the king ever be freed? Or will the slaves of Calhortz lose all hope of freedom before it is even offered to them?

    The Crossways is the second book of the Time Captives trilogy, a tale of faith, family, fantasy, and a fight for truth and freedom.

    Author Interview

    Welcome to my little corner of the Internet, Morgan!  Question 1 is, when did you decide you wanted to be an author?
    It was so long ago, I don’t even remember. I’ve been making up characters since I was about two or so, and making up stories since before I could write them down myself, so the natural next step was to be an actual author. When I was pretty young, I used to imagine going into the library and seeing a shelf full of books that I wrote. We actually considered trying to publish a picture book I wrote when I was about seven, but my cousin never actually drew the pictures, so the idea got dropped. I’m kind of glad, because, while I think I could make it publishable, it definitely needs a rewrite for that. I guess the short answer is that I’ve pretty much always wanted to be an author.

    I look back on some stories I considered publishing when I was younger and cringe when I look back at them...  So, what made you choose self-publishing?
    Well, when I first heard about self-publishing a loooong time ago, it wasn’t really a thing, and so I just brushed it off and kept a list of traditional publishers. But when a family friend self-published his book, And Then They Prayed, I started looking into it. It seemed a lot more doable than traditional publishing, and I kept feeling like I really needed to publish my first book, Across the Stars, and my second, The Experiment. Unfortunately, the company our friends had used was really expensive and I just really didn’t have that kind of money. I was at a loss as to what to do. That’s when my mom and a friend’s mom suggested I ask Molly Evangeline (now known as Jaye L. Knight) for advice. She told me about CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing, which are basically free, and advised me through the whole process. It’s a lot of work, but I love being in control of it myself, and I wouldn’t go back now.

    That's awesome!  I really admire those who work very hard to put their book out there for the world to read.  :) Coffee or tea?
    Tea. I don’t drink coffee, but I do like my tea. I like it both hot and cold, but it has to be sweet, and I like it best in the afternoon. I especially like hot tea with peppermint in it. Since my stomach is rather particular, I always have a little snack with my afternoon tea. It makes me feel quite British, having afternoon tea like that. I do have some British blood, though I’m mostly German. Tea oddly makes me sleepy, though.

    Tea is pretty awesome.  :)  I am pretty sure Germans drink a lot of tea as well, you you can now feel both British and German.  At what age did you give your life to Christ?
    I tried so many times throughout my childhood. I grew up in a Christian household, so I always believed Christianity was true, but there wasn’t really any evidence of my being a Christian until I was about nine. I changed then, for the better, and the only explanation is that that was finally the time that my trying to give my life to Christ actually worked. I’m a much different person now than I was when I was little, and Christ is the only reason for that.

    Thank you so much for joining me today, Morgan!  Congrats on publishing another book!

    And for the giveaway...
    Join in the excitement of Time Captives and enter to win a special prize! The first prize winner will receive a signed copy of The Crossways. The second prize winner will receive an eCopy of The Crossways in the eBook format of his/her choice. Giveaway open to U.S. residents only.

    About the Author 

    Morgan Elizabeth Huneke is a homeschool graduate who lives in Georgia. She has enjoyed creating characters and writing stories since early childhood. Her other interests include reading, playing the piano and violin, and politics. She is the author of Across the Stars and The Experiment.I tried so many times throughout my childhood. I grew up in a Christian household, so I always believed Christianity was true, but there wasn’t really any evidence of my being a Christian until I was about nine. I changed then, for the better, and the only explanation is that that was finally the time that my trying to give my life to Christ actually worked. I’m a much different person now than I was when I was little, and Christ is the only reason for that.

    You can connect with Morgan on her websiteblogFacebookTwitterGoogle Plus, and Pinterest.


    From The Fandom Friday - Announcement

    Greetings, all!

    I am nearing the end of From the Fandom Friday, but I have a special surprise for next Friday.  I will post more about it soon!



    What I Love About Dressing Up As A Character

    I don't know about you, but I absolutely LOVE dressing up as my favorite characters.  There is just something magical about it.  For one day (or even part of a day) you can BE another character.

    Just a disclaimer, this is not about a certain "holiday" that happens to be at the end of this month.  I do not celebrate this, I am just posting about dressing up.

    Now that that's out of the way, I can continue.

    So why do I love dressing up so much?

    1. You can find others who like the same things.  (aka How to Make Friends 101)

    2. It gives you an opportunity to show off an accent you have been practicing, if the character has an accent.  Because...why not?

    3. You get to play with makeup and actually spend time on your appearance.  This is fun every once in a while.

    4. You get to look crazy with no shame.  Isn't it fun to look crazy every once in a while?

    5. You can dress up in a group.  Why not be all of the Avengers?  Why not be Parvin, Jude, and Willow?  Why not be Kyrin, Jace, Kaden, Trask, and Anne?  Why not be Eanrin and Imraldera?

    Bonus Thingy: Guess who I am dressed up as today?

    Okay, I'm done rambling now.  :) Carry on down your list of blog posts to read.  :)


    Have you ever dressed up as a character?  Who was it?  What was it for?


    Book Review: Paralyzed Dreams by C.B. Cook

    I recieved a very happy little email the other day that I had won a copy of this in a Goodreads giveaway.  Honestly, I don't even remember ever entering a giveaway, but evidently I did.  :D Free books are awesome.

    About the Book

    She lost everything she’d ever dreamed of.

    Fourteen-year-old Pam Wilson’s life is going perfectly. She and her best friend, Lauren, are becoming an amazing volleyball duo, and her dreams of playing in the Olympics are coming along wonderfully. Then a car accident paralyzes Pam from the waist down, and her dreams for her life are shattered. No more volleyball, no more walking, no more future. The only thing she has left is her faith in God… if she would only turn there.

    My Review
    Paralyzed Dreams is a story about a girl who becomes paralyzed in a car accident and the struggles she deals with after the fact.  I think this is a fantastic concept, especially to be a Christian book.  Overall it was a great read!

    The Characters
    Pam is such a real character.  The way she handles her paralysis is so...real.  She isn't okay with it like, "I am so happy I am paralyzed because that's what God wants for me!"  She was mad at God.  She was scared at what others would think.  She was upset that her dreams were paralyzed with her legs.  I really like her as a character.  :D

    The Setting
    The setting isn't really a big part of this story, but it works out well that way.  The one thing I am a bit confused about is how Pam gets up to her room with apparently is upstairs...

    The Plot
    The plot of this story is a fairly simple one, but beautifully written with fleshed out characters that is seems complex.  I do with the book was longer, but maybe that's because I really enjoyed it.  :)

    In Closing...
    This is a must read for teens, and people of all ages.  It is a clean, quick read that will teach you lessons about life.

    Thank you again, C.B., for sending me a copy of your book!

    About the Author
    C.B. Cook is just a 17-year-old girl trying to find out where her King is guiding her, while writing the stories of the people she creates, the worlds she wants to live in, and the adventures she dreams about. Also known as a mythical creature called an “author”.  You can find her on her blog, https://theworldofthewriter.wordpress.com.


    Have you ever read this book?  What did you think?


    Book Review: A Time to Speak by Nadine Brandes

    I'm going to take a little break from From the Fandom Friday to post a review for "A Time to Speak" which came out today!  (Yay!)

    My Review

    *Disclaimer* This book has spoilers from the first book, A Time to Die.  If you haven't read that yet please do not read on until you have.

    Oh.  My.  Goodness.  I had such high expectations from this book and Nadine totally met them all!  It brought back all the Jude feels.  Oh yes, all the Jude feels.  Nadine did a really great job of "helping me through that" throughout the book.

    Parvin is great as she has always been.  There are some new characters as well.  Tawny, as we learned from book one, is now Reid's widow and she and Parvin have a strained relationship, which is completely realistic.  It is amazing how deep each one of the characters are even though they are told through Parvin's eyes.  Hawke has a big role in this book as well.  He's pretty awesome.  :D  I also really like Parvin's mother in this book.  In book one, they were distant from each other.  In this book, they come closer together.  It really is a beautiful relationship.

    Ahh the setting.  :D How does Nadine create the most realistic setting ever?  She immersed me in the future earth with Clocks.  I felt like I was there.  (Did I mention I couldn't put the book down?)  I could see Prime clearly in my mind.  I shivered as Parvin was cold.  Reading this book through her eyes, I felt like I became Parvin, saw what she saw, felt what she felt.  How does Nadine do this?  She is such an amazing writer.

    My lips are sealed.  Go read it and find out for yourself.  A word of advice: make sure you have time to read it in one day.

    Final Thoughts
    If you rebelled against my spoiler warning and read this review anyway, still go read A Time to Die.  You can buy it right here on Amazon.  Go check out this amazing book filled with hope and strong faith, even in the darkest of times.  Please buy A Time to Speak right here.

    About the Author

    Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She never received her Hogwarts letter, but rest assured she’s no Muggle (and would have been in Ravenclaw House, thank you very much.) This Harry Potter super-nerd has been known to eat an entire package of Oreos (family size) by herself, and watches Fiddler on the Roof at least once a year. She writes about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her dystopian trilogy (The Out of Time Series) challenged her to pursue shalom, which is now her favorite word (followed closely by bumbershoot.) When Nadine’s not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she and her knight-in-shining armor (nickname: “hubby”) are out pursuing adventures.


    How to Make A Book Cover Using Photoshop

    Books covers...those magical things that are the first thing people see of your book.  People say not to judge a book by its cover, but honestly, people do.

    I posted earlier this year about how I made my book cover for Part 1 of The Clockshifter, back when it was going to be two books instead of one.  That was a long and complicated process that you all probably couldn't follow very well.  Yesterday, Rachael from The Art of Writing for Him asked me some questions on how I make my book covers.  So, this post happened.  :)

    "What program do I now use?" you ask.


    I know, I know, Photoshop is expensive...but good news!  Adobe is offering Photoshop CS2 (the old version) free right here!  If you freak out over not having a serial code or whatever they are called, it is a couple of columns over on the same row as Photoshop.

    Once you have Photoshop downloaded, you are ready to get started.

    When you open it DO NOT BE OVERWHELMED.  It looks extremely confusing.

    Now to make the cover...

    1. Get an idea in your head of what you want it to look like.  Assume you can do anything when you make this cover.  Don't think about if you will be able to the right copyright free image to do this particular thing; just assume you can.  Photoshop is amazing when it comes to what you can do.

    2. Find pictures to use.  Chances are, you will combine multiple images into one final product.  If you are using this book cover for the official cover for your book, you will need to make sure the pictures you use can be used for commercial use AND you can manipulate them.

    Sites I Like to Use: (Please use caution.  I haven't had a problem with these sites with inappropriate content yet, but just in case I will warn you that you never know what will come up.  Just beware.)

    - PhotoPin - This site has a TON of free images to use.  Some are really bad quality, and some just look bad, but sometimes that bad picture can be manipulated to look good.

    - Unsplash - This is my go-to site for all scenery and sometimes people.  All of their images are available for commercial use for free!

    For other site recommendations, I encourage you to check out this post on Go Teen Writers.

    3. Start editing your photos.  You are probably reading this and thinking, "Is Alea just going to let me figure out this thing called Photoshop on my own?"  Good news!  No, I am not.  In no way am I an expert, (Goodness, I've only been at this two weeks) but I have found some really great tutorials.

    Photoshop 101

    Tip 1 - The version CS2 does the majority of what newer versions can do, just sometimes the buttons are in a little different place.  Figure out what all the buttons are called and memorize where they are.

    Tip 2 - Download fonts from Dafont.com.  They have some seriously amazing fonts!  (Make sure and use the ones that are 100% free and read the artist's terms of use!)

    Tip 3 - Make your text readable, yet AWESOME.

    You can...

    ...Just describe what you want to Google...

    You can do so much with your text...don't let that opportunity go to waste!

    Tip 4 - Filters are your best friend.  You can put filters on your images to make them look artistic.  You can make images look like paintings, sketches, cool metal things and a whole bunch of other cool things!  This can do wonders to help a badly taken picture.

    Tip 5 - Crop around a person using the lasso tool.  I have used this took so many times.

    Tip 6 - If you drag an image into your project and it isn't big enough, go back into the image and increase the number of pixels.

    Tip 7 - Familiarize yourself with the Photoshop interface.  Know where things are.  Play around.

    Tip 8 - Youtube helps.  As long as you can describe what you want to Google, you are good to go!


    If you have any questions for me, please comment and I will do my best to answer!  If you know the answer to someone's question, don't be afraid to answer!


    Beautiful Books Link Up - My 2015 NaNo Novel

    I know I don't normally post on Sundays, but I really wanted to do the Beautiful Books link-up.

    Today I will be rambling talking to you about my novel that I will be writing in November.  I told you a bit about it a few days ago, but Cait's link up inspired me to share more.  :)

    1.How did you come up with the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?
    I'm not sure the exact date the idea came to me, but I think it was sometime over the summer.  I do remember that I was trying to find cool movie trailer music (I'm weird like that) and suddenly I thought of a little intro monologue.  More started developing in my head before I could stop it and then, voila!  I had a story idea.

    2. Why are you excited to write this novel?
    It's a story that needs to come out and be told.

    3. What is your novel about, and what is the title?
    If you saw my little post a few days ago, you saw the little line I wrote for it.  It said:

    The point isn't that she went, but that she came back.

    Since then I have added to it so that it says...

    Murder and spies in a labyrinth of lies with a tinge of time travel.  Remember, the point isn't that she went, but that she came back.

    Font Attribution:  http://www.dafont.com/the-rave-is-in-your-pants.font

    That's the just-for-fun cover I made a couple of days ago.  I think I need to go back and change the color of my name in the bottom right corner...  (The past few days I have been really obsessed with making book covers. :D )

    As you can probably see, I have entitled this WIP To Be Awake.

    4. Sum up your characters in one word each. (Feel free to add pictures!)
    *hides* I haven't really developed my characters very much yet...but I can tell you their names...

    Main Character - Haven.

    Other POV character - Zenon

    That's pretty much all have worked out.  I probably should seeing as there are only 20 days until I have to start writing this thing... :)

    5. Which character(s) do you think will be your favourite to write? Tell us about them!
    Goodness...I don't know!  I think maybe Zenon.  He's more than he appears to be, I'll just tell you that. He is a spoilerish character.  :D *Evil author laugh*

    6. What is your protagonist’s goal, and what stands in the way?
    The protagonist's main goal is that she the government to stop doing bad things.  (Another spoiler there too).  The problem is, everyone believes their lies.  No one will help and Haven is being used by the government against her will.

    7. Where is your novel set? (Show us pictures if you have them!)
    I haven't worked all of this out either.  I am thinking earth in the future and then the Civil War era.  I mentioned there was time travel, didn't I?  The future earth is set up in a society of time travellers (sorry, not Time Lords) who when they turn a certain age get to pick what time period they want to go back into (or forward).

    8. What is the most important relationship your character has?
    Probably her relationship with Zenon.  It will take many twists and turns throughout the book.

    9. How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?
    Still working this part out... :)

    10. What themes are in your book? How do you want your readers to feel when the story is over?
    I guess the main theme of To Be Awake, at this point in the writing journey, is that it is important to find the truth while surrounded by lies.  When the book is over, I want readers to feel depressed and sad.  Just kidding! :) I want them to feel like it is one of the best books they have ever read.  I want them to be uplifted by the story, even if there are some depressing parts.  I want them to have learned something from it.

    11. BONUS! Tell us your 3 best pieces of advice for others trying to write a book in a month.
    - Do word wars with other people trying for the name goal.  Don't get distracted chatting with them, though.
    - Just get words onto the paper and silence your inner editor.  Do it.  It helps.
    - Word crawls are amazing and fun.  They are basically a series of word wars with yourself or another person that follow a story.  They are long, but awesome.  You can find some here: http://www.wikiwrimo.org/wiki/Word_crawl


    Enough about my novel, tell me about your novel!  Or if you are participating in this link up, send me a link so I can read the post!  Comment away, my readers!


    2015 End of the Year Goals

    WHERE HAS 2015 GONE?  Can you believe it's almost over?  How time flies...

    Anyways...I stole borrowed this post idea from my writing buddy over at A Writer's Faith, Katie.  Her blog is awesome, please take a little break from this post go check it out!

    Now that you have witnessed her awesomeness, you may proceed to read.  :)

    My 2015 End of the Year Goals

    1. Post more often.

    I know, I know, I post on here sporatically.  I have a little problem with coming up with interesting posts that you all might actually want to read.  If you ever have any ideas or suggestions, let me know in the comments on any post.  You have no idea how happy it makes me to get an email in my Inbox saying YOU commented! :D

    2. Finish editing The Clockshifter.

    I have been working on this novel for so long.  I love it, but I just want it done.  23k words left to rewrite before I can move on to line edits and then it goes to beta readers (look for a post in the future to sign up to beta read it!)

    3. Write 50,000 words of my new novel in November for NaNoWriMo.

    I am so excited for this!  I have the plot all planned out.  I think it is going to be nice to work on something other than The Clockshifter for once.  :)

    4. Reread some of my favorite books.

    I have wanted to reread some books for a while now, but new books just keep coming along.  *sigh* Then my reread list gets longer...and longer...and looonnngggeeerrr.

    5. Journal more often.

    Recently I have gotten into journaling.  I want to do this more often so I can look back on this time in my life and see how God has worked and I have grown.

    And those are my ambitious goals to complete by the end of the year!  This post is probably more for my benefit than yours since it forces me to actually complete them.

    What are some of your goals?  Any blog post ideas/something you want me to blog about?  Comment away, my dear readers! 


    25 Days Until NaNoWriMo 2015

    You have probably heard me ramble about NaNoWriMo before.  This will be my third time participating in NaNoWriMo and my sixth NaNo event!  It is so motivating!

    However, this will be my first time attempting to write 50,000 in one month!  :D

    And I am working on a new novel!  Yes, I still have to finish editing The Clockshifter, but I can't miss a NaNoWriMo event.  Besides, I have a fantastic idea for a new novel.  I am not going to reveal too much yet, but here is a little line I have come up with to describe it.

    The point is not that she went, but that she came back.

    Are you participating in NaNoWriMo in November?  What are you writing?  Is your goal 50k or something lower?


    Get to Know the Readers

    Greetings, my dear readers!

    Sometimes it's hard to know who is on the other side of the Internet reading what I have to say.  So this is your chance to introduce yourself!  Who are you?  What do you like to do?  What are your fandoms?  Tell me about yourself in the comments!  If you have questions for me, I will do my best to answer them (unless they are creepy stalkerish questions like 'how old are you' or 'where do you live).

    Comment away readers of mine!


    Book Review: The Choosing by Rachelle Dekker

    “Not to be Chosen would yield a cruel fate of my own making.”

    Like all citizens since the Ruining, Carrington Hale knows the importance of this day. But she never expected the moment she’d spent a lifetime preparing for—her Choosing ceremony—would end in disaster. Ripped from her family, she’ll spend her days serving as a Lint, the lowest level of society. She knows it’s her duty to follow the true way of the Authority. 

    But as Carrington begins this nightmare, rumors of rebellion rattle her beliefs. The whispers contradict everything she’s been told; yet they resonate deep within. 

    Then Carrington is offered an unprecedented chance at the life she’s always dreamed of, but she can’t shake the feeling that it may be an illusion. With a killer targeting Lints and corruption threatening the highest levels of the Authority, Carrington must uncover the truth before it destroys her.

    My Review
    If you saw my Facebook post the other day, you saw that I got a new book on Saturday from Lifeway Christian Book Store.  Needless to say, I devoured it.  Oh my, was it good. :D

    I have grown to love Christian dystopian books ever since I read A Time to Die by Nadine Brandes.  They always have such high stakes and messages of hope through utter darkness.  This book has a strong message of hope, worth, and beauty for girls.  In the futuristic society the main character, Carrington, lives in, they measure a woman's worth and beauty.  The women in the book judge themselves by their flaws and believes what society tells them about themselves.

    Fear not, readers, for there is hope!

    Even though society believes so many lies about well...just about everything, the real Truth prevails.  (I will not elaborate any more on this because there may be some spoilers.)

    The Characters
    Wow.  The characters.  They were real people with real flaws, real emotions, real problems.  Carrington is constantly told her worth is measurable, that she brought all this on herself.  She is so insecure.  Not only that, but she grows by the end of the book.

    Let me talk about the antagonist of the story for a minute.  He is one of the most amazingly written antagonists I have ever read about.  I can't say any more about him in this review.  Go read the book.

    The Setting
    Typical dystopian book...walled city, controlling government, awesomely simple names of jobs... But there are some extremely unique things about this society.  One can see this when they see how they view women.  This alone leads to some intriguing setting...stuff.  I really don't want to say too much for fear of ruining it for you.

    Other Stuff
    I would recommend this book for older teens, maybe 15 and above.  The main focus of this story is marriage, but it just has to do with the setting where the goals of women are to get married and have children.  There is a little romance, but it is sweet and clean.  There is also a little violence and a ton of suspense.

    Okay...enough with my rambling.  Go read the book.  :D

    About the Author

    The oldest daughter of "New York Times" bestselling author Ted Dekker, Rachelle Dekker was inspired early on to discover truth through storytelling. She graduated with a degree in communications and spent several years in marketing and corporate recruiting before making the transition to write full time. She lives in Nashville with her husband, Daniel, and their diva cat Blair. Visit her online at www.rachelledekker.com.