Book Review: Unsanctioned Eyes by Brianna Merritt (remember this book I keep fangirling about?)

About the Book

Her death was just the beginning.

Quinn Rogers doesn’t exist. There are no records of her name. Her DNA has no match. She is a ghost. A phantom killer no one can trace. The perfect assassin. Or so she thinks.

At the top of her game, Quinn’s no longer looking over her shoulder. Her master will protect her, save her, like he always has. But there are forces at work neither of them suspect.

Can Quinn find the truth in a world of lies? Or will her unsanctioned past catch up to her in the end?

My Review

Step aside, cliche thrillers because The Dragonfly series is coming to town!  Brianna's incredible writing skills kidnapped my mind and threw it into the world of assassins, terrorists, and secret agents.

The Characters

I fell in love with Brianna's characters, despite their murderous tendencies.  Why?  They are real, broke people.  They work for (I don't want to tell you too much) who will kill them if they don't do as he says.  This trains them to dim their consciences.  But as the story goes on, stuff happens that reawakens those thoughts that what they are doing is bad.  However, there is still survival stuff and characters interactions that get in their way and make them completely human.

Also, there is Nathan who is an adorable human.  (He's not an assassin, but he's just precious.)  Can we talk about the fact that he grows so much over the story, and the main plot isn't even about him?!

The Setting

Unsanctioned Eyes takes place all over the world: London, Afghanistan, and other places.  I've never been to any of those places before, but after reading this book, I feel like I have.

The Plot

Masterfully written.  I'm not going to say any more on this.


There was quite a bit of language, but none was "super awful".  (It's not every other sentence either.)  It fits with the characters.  Obviously, there was quite a bit of violence.  The assassins aren't super moral people, so they don't do the most moral things.  But this is NOT EVIL BEING GLORIFIED.  The characters start to change by the end of the story.  Quinn is presented with the idea of God and His saving grace.  The author is not condoning the actions of her characters.  I just wanted to make that very clear.


Basically, this is a fantastic book for people who enjoy thrillers like the Jason Bourne series, but are tired of evil being glorified.  I recommend this book to older teens and above because of some of the content.  5/5 stars!  This book releases TOMORROW so remember to get a copy!

*Disclaimer* I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Note: Due to technical difficulties, you won't be able to preorder this book.  However you will be able to buy it on Amazon TOMORROW.

About the Author

Brianna grew up in a small town in Oklahoma learning the language of the wind and trying to survive the heat of summer. She fell in love with all things literary at an early age and the journey from reader to writer followed. With the help of One Year Adventure Novel, she finished her first novel in 2012 and hasn’t been able to stop creating new worlds and adventures since. 

As well as writing, Brianna is addicted to tea, chocolate, and music. When she isn’t reading or writing, Brianna teaches Ballet and Jazz. 

She lives in Virginia with her family and spoiled Dalmatian, Valentine. 


A BIG ANNOUNCEMENT {yes, I know. another post from me.}

I know I already posted today (scroll down for that post), but this too exciting to wait any longer.  (By "too exciting" I mean that I just did a major happy dance throughout my house.)

As mentioned in the title...I have huge news.  When I say huge, I mean H U G E.  First of all, I'm going to say that none of this would have happened if it weren't for God.  ALL of the credit goes to him and his infinite wisdom.  Okay...so here's my story.

I wrote a book.  An actual, finished book.  It had been edited and edited.  And I thought it was ready.  In my small, slightly arrogant, younger mind, I thought every publisher would be swept away by its awesomeness.  How could they refuse me and my incredible work of art?  News flash: They did.  One publisher said it wasn't right for them.  One publisher said that it needed a lot of work, but it was a "diamond in the rough".  As I revised, submitted, and got rejected, I wasn't sure if this was God's plan for me.  So, I sent out one final round of queries.

I waited.

               And waited.

                                   And waited.

Some rejected me, others never responded (which meant they rejected me).  I decided that I wasn't going to publish The Clockshifter, at least not for a while.

Then one day when I didn't have a lot of homework, Tessa Emily Hall, who I had followed since I became serious about writing posted that she had become a junior agent and was seeking clients.  She was looking for books in The Clockshifter's genre and wanted to work with authors who fit my description.  After fangirling for a moment, I dived into a book proposal.  I used a book proposal I'd written for a previous draft and did a major overhaul on it.  I researched things using my handy Go Teen Writers book and the Internet.  This was my last attempt and I was going to make it count.  I didn't really believe anything would come of it, but hey, if God wanted this thing published, He would do something, right?

The next day, I received an email from Tessa.  In a nutshell, it said, "I'm interested."  I gasped, then my eyes filled with tears.  God had a plan all along.  This was way better than those other obscure agents I submitted to before.  I started to pray and pray and pray.  I felt led to do this.  I worked tirelessly on another round of edits, adding more words, just like she asked.

For a while, I didn't hear back.  I started to lose hope.

One day in art class (don't freak out, I was using my phone to look at a reference photo), an email came in.  "I want to set up a call," it said.  I lost it.  Right there in class.  I couldn't stop smiling, tears filled my eyes, and I had to explain to everyone what had just happened.

God was at work.

The day of the call came, and I was ready.  I researched "The Call" online and knew what to expect and what to prepare for.  I outlined my career goals and obstacles I might face.  But when the call came, the agent basically said, "Pray about it, but I'm offering you a contract."

And that's the story of how I got a literary agent.

There.  That's my big news.  Someone is taking a chance on me and my book I started writing on at 14-years-old.

God does amazing things.  I thought that so many different agents would be The Right Ones, but they weren't.  God had something great in mind, so much greater than I could ever imagine.

Ladies and Gentlemen, God is amazing.  He ALWAYS has a plan that's far greater than anything you can imagine!

I'm pleased to announce that I'm now represented by Tessa Emily Hall and Cyle Young with Hartline Literary Agency.

Excuse me while I do another happy dance.

In which I fangirl and release a small summer project ||| a book trailer

A few weeks ago the fabulous Brianna Merritt asked me to be an advanced reader copy for her thriller novel, Unsanctioned Eyes.  I immediately said yes and the moment I began reading it...I fell in love with it.  So in love that I made an unofficial book trailer for it.


Somehow, Brianna masterfully crafts a story that makes you come to love assassins (and the precious, Nathan).  I have no idea how she does it BUT SHE DOES IT WELL.  She makes you care about them and desperately want them to change.  I don't bore you to death...I'll let you watch the trailer instead of listen to me fangirl about it for the rest of my life.  (My full review will come closer to when the book releases on JUNE 27!)  Also, some preorder links are in the works.  Brianna will announce when Unsanctioned Eyes is available for preorder!

About the Book

Her death was just the beginning.

Quinn Rogers doesn’t exist. There are no records of her name. Her DNA has no match. She is a ghost. A phantom killer no one can trace. The perfect assassin. Or so she thinks.

At the top of her game, Quinn’s no longer looking over her shoulder. Her master will protect her, save her, like he always has. But there are forces at work neither of them suspect.

Can Quinn find the truth in a world of lies? Or will her unsanctioned past catch up to her in the end?

About the Author

Brianna grew up in a small town in Oklahoma learning the language of the wind and trying to survive the heat of summer. She fell in love with all things literary at an early age and the journey from reader to writer followed. With the help of One Year Adventure Novel, she finished her first novel in 2012 and hasn’t been able to stop creating new worlds and adventures since. 

As well as writing, Brianna is addicted to tea, chocolate, and music. When she isn’t reading or writing, Brianna teaches Ballet and Jazz. 

She lives in Virginia with her family and spoiled Dalmatian, Valentine. 


See you all next week!

Hello my lovely friends!

I'm taking a complete internet break this week.  I'm going to just LIVE and try to get a good bit of writing done.  See you all when I get back!



Happy (belated) Blogiversary to Me + Q and A Vlog

Hello everyone!

As of yesterday, Elvish Pens, Fantastical Writings is 3 years old!  I started out knowing nothing and writing shameful posts, but I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for the beginning.

Remember those questions you asked me in the survey?  Here I answer most of them! Enjoy!


Title and Cover Reveal for author Brianna Merritt ||| a book about a woman whose death was just the beginning

Yes, I know I said that I was taking a blogging break this week...but I guess I just took a break on Monday.

My lovely friend, Brianna Merritt, is publishing her book and today is the title and cover reveal.  I must say that I am stoked for this book because it looks A-MAZING.

(I met Brianna at Realm Makers last year, in case you were wondering.)

She's the girl in front of me wearing the navy
blue medieval dress. (Photo Credit: Hannah)

About the Book

Her death was just the beginning.

Quinn Rogers doesn’t exist. There are no records of her name. Her DNA has no match. She is a ghost. A phantom killer no one can trace. The perfect assassin. Or so she thinks.

At the top of her game, Quinn’s no longer looking over her shoulder. Her master will protect her, save her, like he always has. But there are forces at work neither of them suspect.

Can Quinn find the truth in a world of lies? Or will her unsanctioned past catch up to her in the end?

The Cover and Title

Okay, here's the cover...

Isn't it beautiful?  I love all of the colors.  So pretty.  I can't wait to see this on my shelf.

About the Author

Brianna grew up in a small town in Oklahoma learning the language of the wind and trying to survive the heat of summer. She fell in love with all things literary at an early age and the journey from reader to writer followed. With the help of One Year Adventure Novel, she finished her first novel in 2012 and hasn’t been able to stop creating new worlds and adventures since. 

As well as writing, Brianna is addicted to tea, chocolate, and music. When she isn’t reading or writing, Brianna teaches Ballet and Jazz. 

She lives in Virginia with her family and spoiled Dalmatian, Valentine. 


Happy Memorial Day

Hey everyone, this week I'm taking a little blogging break...but I'll leave you with this.

We have freedom because of all the people who died fighting for it.  Freedom has a cost.


How to Prepare for a Writers Conference

It's writer's conference season!!!  It's also summer, which means no school.  What does that mean?  Writer's conference prep!  Sadly, I won't be attending any conferences this year, but here is how you can prepare (because your first time can be very scary).

1. Plan ahead.  Pace yourself.

Don't procrastinate all of this stuff until the week before the conference.  Start planning now!

2. If you are planning on pitching, research the publishers at the conference and prepare your pitch!

Here are some great resources:

Also, the conference I went to did a series of blog posts where an agent/publisher said what an author should bring to a pitch session.  This was very helpful!  (And even if the publisher only requires the first few pages, bring at least the entire first chapter.  They may ask for more!)

3. If you aren't pitching, still prepare an elevator pitch.

"What's your book about?" is a common question at writers conferences, from authors, publishers, agents, and vendors.  People want to know!  It's much better to have a plan than scream, run for the bathroom, or hastily change the subject.

For tips on how to write an elevator pitch, I highly recommend this link:


4. Bring a notebook, pen, or something to take notes with.

You're in a bunch of amazing classes, TAKE NOTES!  Even if you hate taking notes, DO IT.

5. Bring spending money.

There's most likely going to be a bookstore featuring authors attending the conference.  That means...signed books!  And books in general.  Yes, spending money is a must.

6. Learn to like coffee, tea, or anything caffeinated.

Writer's conference = no sleep

7. Bring a camera.

You're going to meet a ton of new writer friends!  Pictures are a must!

8. Prepare to socialize.

Last year, I went to Realm Makers with the goal of meeting as many people as possible.  Suddenly, I became an extrovert and actually started conversations.  One time, I started talking to Patrick Carr's wife without knowing who she was.  Then I looked at her name tag...

9. Make business cards with your contact info on it.

Your new friends are going to want to keep in contact with you/follow your social media!  Make it easy for them!

Have you ever been to a writer's conference before?  Are you going to one this year?  What are some of your tips for a newbie conference goer?


Why Great Book Covers are as Important as Quality Writing

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a survey.  Many people said they enjoyed my posts on cover design, so here's another one.  (The last one for a while, I promise.)

We've all seen those covers--the covers that look like they were designed using Microsoft word.  They can come from the authors (who even write incredible books!) and "professional" designers.  Maybe you are one of those authors.  (I'm totally not trying to make you feel bad, I'm trying to help.)  Here are 5 reasons why a quality book cover is as important as quality writing.

One person who took the survey said:

"I've never been able to pick what it is that gives it away, but 82.857% of the time self-published books can be spotted by their covers?"

If a book cover looks self-published:

1. People probably aren't going to take the book seriously.

No matter how much popularity self-publishing has gained in the past few years, many readers still think it's the "easy way out".

2. People probably aren't going to want to market your book because it doesn't look like a "real book".

Have you ever read a series that was so good you couldn't shut up about it?  I know I have (*cough*Out of Time Series*cough*).  Whenever I love a book, I blast my praise for it everywhere.  Twitter.  Goodreads.  Right here.  Still using the Out of Time Series as my example, the books look legit.  They look like books you could pick up at Barnes and Noble.  I don't feel weird about promoting the books because I don't have to put a side note in the promotion that says "trust me, this is actually a fantastic book."

3. People probably aren't going to flail and fangirl over the cover.

Yes, I'm one of those shallow bookworms who will be interested in a book simply because its cover belongs in an art museum.

4. People will probably be hesitant to take a chance on the book.

(Yes, I realize that this point is like point #1, but it's SUPER IMPORTANT and needs reiterating.)
Money is a factor of life, so I probably won't buy a book if it doesn't look good (both visually and conceptually).  But, if a book is pretty and doesn't look like the author self-published it, I'm more likely to take a chance on it.

5. Sometimes a great elevator pitch just doesn't cut it.

Sometimes having a fabulous elevator pitch can sell people on a book, but when they look it up on Amazon and see the not-so-great cover, they might not buy the book.

This all comes down to one solution: 

If you plan on self-publishing your book, save up some money and invest in a quality cover designer.

If you've already self-published your book, it's not too late to change the cover!

Here are some ways you can find a quality designer:

- Ask other self-published authors (whose covers are professional-looking) who they used.
- Ask small presses what designer they use.
- Find an artist you like.

And remember that when you publish a book, you aren't writing for yourself anymore, you're writing for the lovely people who are going to buy it.  Think about that same thing as you go through the design process.

Have you ever passed up buying a book because of the cover?  Who are some of your favorite cover designers (any recommendations)?


Dear Younger Me: Never Give Up

Dear Younger Me,

I know that right now, you probably want to give up.  You want to trash that manuscript, burn it with fire.  It's not good enough and it never will be.  And you're right...if you give up.  Keep pressing on because one day, someone is going to look at your writing and say, "You should publish that."  So, Younger Me, stay strong.

Keep pressing on.  Keep writing.  Keep revising.  Keep polishing.  Keep querying.

One day, it will all be worth it.  Your writing will touch someone.  Your writing will bring light to the darkness.  Your writing will be good enough.


Alea Harper


2017 Survey + Ask Me Questions! (Don't let me do a Q+A video with no questions.)

I'm very sorry for not posting last week.  In my defense, I was in a play last Saturday and Sunday which took the afternoon/evenings.

Yes, you saw right.  I'm going to do a Q + A video.  You can ask questions at the end of this nifty survey.

powered by Typeform


Research: What's it like to go to a formal dance?

First off, I'm sorry for my spontaneous hiatus.

Okay, now for the actual post.

Last weekend, I went to a formal dance.  No, I did not go just for research, but I thought you all might be interested if you ever want to write about a modern day dance.  (I can't speak for medieval balls, sorry.)

1. Girls wear long dresses and guys wear suits.

Most girls curl their hair and either leave it down,  some up some down, or put it up in a pretty updo.  We also have the burden of wearing heels for a minimum of 15 minutes.  At most dances, girls wear anything from modest to scandalous.  Thankfully, I went to a Christian dance which had a dress code. Guys have it easy and have to brush their hair and put on a suit.  At the dance I went to, most guys shed their jackets and ties/bowties by the end.

P.S. The dress I'm wearing in my new profile pic is the dress I wore.

2. There are pictures before the dance starts.

Why spend hours getting beautified and not have pictures for posterity?

3. The music is LOUD.  (And depending on the DJ, not very clean.)

I had a headache most of the night because of the loud music.  It was so loud that the floor shook...even in the bathroom.  Most of the music consisted of autotuned, electronic rap that talked about (insert something bad here).

4. Most people dance.

I didn't dance that much, mostly because the music wasn't catchy, but most people did.  Now, if you're thinking that it's ballroom dancing, you're wrong.  It's put your hands up in the air and move your hips kind of dancing.

5. Slow dances relieve your ears...but people can ask you to dance.

Slow dances have actual music, which is great.  Guys ask girls to dance and they put their arms around each other and start swaying back and forth (with enough room for Jesus in between!).

Have you ever been to a dance?  What was your experience?  I would love to listen to what you have to say!


how to make a professional book cover {a comprehensive look}

I see a very sad trend in the publishing industry (mostly in indie publishing, some in traditional publishing as well) -- bad book covers.  I'm talking about the book covers that look like this: (do not fear, for these are not real book covers.  I designed them as examples, though the one for Death Like Sleep is one I made a long time ago for what is now The Clockshifter. I now hide in shame because of it.

1. Study covers around you.

Don't pick covers that you think look good, pick covers that artsy people love.  Famous bookstagrammers and designers. {Cait, Nadine, Kirk DouPonce, Seedlings Design Studio}  Books in X genre that are published by big publishing houses.  What trends in X genre do you notice?  How do the titles fit with the background?  Do the covers feature faces or people? {here's a video I did where I talked about trends in book covers}

2. "Take" ideas you like, and ditch ideas you don't.  

Do you like curly, artsy fonts?  Do you like gold text?  Do you like X color scheme?  Just remember not to copy another cover exactly.  Make it unique.

3. Pick an aesthetic for your book.

You know those artsy photo collages some really cool authors {Katie, and Aimee} make?  They all have a certain feel to them.  This is due to its color scheme and overall...well...feel.  Once you've picked an aesthetic for your book, you know what colors and style you want on the cover.  If you're still unsure of what your book's feel is, take a step back from the book and ask yourself a few questions.  (These are the questions I ask authors I design covers for.)  Read your answers as if you know nothing about the book:

  • -Back cover copy for your book.  (Brief synopsis.)
  • -Anything important to background/setting (including season story takes place)
  • - Main character Descriptions (Name, age, clothing style, eye color, hair color/length)
  • - Story conflicts
  • - Any symbols that are important to the story.
  • - A Pinterest or aesthetic board for the story, if you have it.
  • - Author name (as it will appear on the cover)
  • - Book title (as it will appear on the cover)
  • - Series name (if applicable)
  • - Any dislikes you have (color, style, font, etc.)
  • - Any other ideas/sample covers you like.

4. Find images.

This is probably one of the hardest parts of cover design.  You have to find an image that doesn't look like it came from Microsoft Word or an iPhone 2. Find images that will look good when cropped to the cover's aspect ratio,  Covers (and good art, really) follow the majestic Rule of Thirds.  This means that if you were to divide the cover into three congruent rectangles, the focus point of the image isn't in the direct center.  {a more comprehensive look at the rule of thirds}  Use images that don't violate copyright.

5. Crop the image and apply filters.

Do any photo manipulation that you need to.  Maybe add a texture as an overlay.  Now's your time to make this image fit with your book's aesthetic (if it didn't before).  Follow YouTube tutorials to learn GIMP or Photoshop.  Make your textures by using paint or your own images.

6. Add text.

This can be one of the trickiest parts of designing book covers.  A lot of designers, sadly, mess this part up.  When you do this step, remember to keep your aesthetic in mind.  Make the text readable.  Don't apply too many effects...simplicity is best.  Don't use generic Microsoft Word fonts...download cool ones (though still keep copyright in mind)!  {Behance, Dafont}  Make them the focus of the cover.  Match fonts (i.e. don't use 2 different curly fonts on the same cover) or contrast them (i.e. curly and sans serif). {a fabulous tutorial on contrasting fonts}

7. Ask people you trust for their opinions.

Family?  Friends?  Better yet, ask an artist and/or graphic designer.  See if a good bookstagrammer will give you feedback.  Be open to the criticism they may give you.  Fix what needs to be fixed.  The key thing to look for someone who is genuine.

Here's what my sister (she's an amazing artist) said about the cover I made above: I love the overall design, especially the double exposure(ish) bird. The simplicity is very appealing to the eye, and the cursive text flows with the curved outline of the bird. The only negative thing I have to say about this cover is the color of the title. It just seems a little off and doesn't pull out the colors in the flowers. Other than that... great job Alea!!!

Here's what Katie from A Writer's Faith said: Oooh, I love it! I think the main issue is the text -- I wonder if there's a way to make it pop more? My attention is drawn to the bird instead of the title, and it seems like they're fighting for the spotlight.

But the colors and background is amazing! Just a little re-formatting and I think I'll be even better.

8. If one draft doesn't work, do another and another until it's as perfect as it can get!

Have you ever made a book cover?  What was your process?  What are some of your favorite book covers?  I love to read and respond to your comments!


I met one of my childhood favorite authors...

It's Harry Potter that shapes most kids' childhoods.  For me...it was Kingdom Keepers by Ridley Pearson, The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, and The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart.

On Saturday, I had the privilege of meeting Ridley Pearson at a book signing for the release of his new book, The Return.

My dad made me drive (during which I actually cried and almost hyperventilated with anxiety), but once I got there, it was totally worth the experience.  My sister and I speed walked all the way to the other side of Disney Springs (which used to be Downtown Disney, a much more fitting name).  While we waited in line, we talked with the people around us and a cast member rattled off Kingdom Keepers trivia questions.  I was surprised that I actually didn't have to wait too long.

And then we were almost there...




Mr. Pearson signed our books and we took a picture...and then an employee pointed out my writer shirt.  He gave me writing advice and asked me about my work.  It was such a neat experience.  Nothing can compare to talking with other writers.

My dad, sister, and I stayed a couple of days at Disney.  We just got back home today, which is why I didn't post until later.  This morning, at Animal Kingdom, I wore my writer shirt again (mostly because the Disney trip was spontaneous and I didn't plan ahead).  Savannah and I were in line for Dinosaur.  A cast member asked me how many were in my party and I said two.  Then she stopped and looked at my shirt.  Her face suddenly lit up and I thought she was going to hug me.  Then she said, "I need to frame that shirt in my room to explain to my mom why I have papers all over my room."  I kept grinning as I got on the ride.  So my tip of the day is to always wear some sort of writing/fandom shirt when you go to a theme park because you might meet someone like you!


Trends In Book Covers and why we should pay attention to them

I made a video about cover design!  Let's explore some book covers and see how we can apply these when we design covers, either for real or for fun.

(As a side note, I'm super awkward in this video so...yeah...sorry...)

Indie e-Con

I also have another video up on Kendra's blog about how to use less stock photography.

Am I horribly awkward in these videos?  What are some of your favorite book cover trends?  What are some of your favorite book covers?  I would love to hear your thoughts!


This Week's Blog Post will be on Wednesday

Im participating in Indie e-Con, so this week's post will go up on Wednesday.  Hint: it's a video!


Promise's Prayer BLOG PARTY | Interview with Author Erika Mathews + Giveaway

Kaelan is restless for adventure and relentless in his efforts to bring the land of Taerna back to the blessings of Adon Olam and the prosperity of the days of his ancestors. Fueled by a solemn promise and his mother’s secret, he finds himself in the forefront of a desperate scheme that is crucial to Taerna’s future. Can he keep his promise? Can he save the people of Taerna from the corruption and rampant lawlessness that threaten them with extinction?
Shy and quiet Carita knows she possesses what Taerna’s people so desperately need. But how can she help them when her own soul is simultaneously tormented by witnessing unmet needs and handicapped by her own paralyzing fears?

When Kaelan and Carita come face to face with the true nature of Adon Olam’s call, will they each choose to embrace Adon Olam’s plan for Taerna—and for their own lives?

Alea: Hi Erika!  Thank you for joining me today!

Erika: Hi Alea! Thank you for having me - I'm happy to be here and so excited to be releasing Promise's Prayer!

Alea: How did your writing journey begin?

Erika: My writing journey began the day I learned to read at age 4. Much of my childhood was spent with books. So when my parents gave me three thick spiral notebooks at age 5, the next several years were spent filling the various sections with every kind of writing - Bible studies, nature studies, short stories, poems, drawings, drafts of ideas, scripture I was memorizing, made-up recipes, a violin lesson diary, sermon notes (and sermons I made up), and lists of all types. When I was 10, Jessica Greyson and I had the idea of each writing a book with the same last name for the main character, and over the next four years I wrote the first draft of my children's book Happy Days With the Lanes (which I'm currently rewriting for publication). At age 13, God called me to write books that honor and glorify Him, and through high school essays and writing courses, I discovered how much I enjoyed writing and grammar. At this point I shifted my focus towards devotional writings and poetry, though I began several fiction works as well (most of them unfinished). In 2014, I finally had a free November in which to participate in National Novel Writing Month, and Promise's Prayer was written.

**Click on photos to enlarge**

Alea: Why did you decide to write Christian books?

Erika: Life on earth is short and if our purpose is confined to this earth, everything our lives stand for will quickly pass away. My desire is to invest my life in something that will have eternal impact. As a Christian, Christ is my life - for me to live is Christ. Everything is all about Him - His desire is that He be known intimately. He's given me a passion for communicating His truth through writing and speaking. My hope and prayer is that God's kingdom on this earth will be advanced through my books and that those who read will be encouraged, challenged, or inspired to a deeper knowing of Him.

Regarding this book specifically, Promise's Prayer is Book One in my series Truth From Taerna.
Each book focuses on an aspect of spiritual truth that today's church often downplays. My desire was to demonstrate how the real, powerful, lifechanging truths of God's kingdom (the spiritual realm hidden from our physical senses) could play out in a fictional setting. My goal is that God will use this series to reveal His kingdom to my readers. My reason for writing Christian fiction can be summed up in C.S. Lewis' words: "By knowing Me here for a little, you may know Me better there."

Alea: How long does it typically take you to write a book's first draft?

Erika: Typically for a full-length novel, I write as much as I can of the first draft in 30 days and then finish/rewrite/edit/polish in several weeks at some point after that. Because Promise's Prayer benefited from detailed outlining beforehand, I was able to complete the first draft in a month. Victory's Voice (Truth From Taerna Book 2) was only about half-written in this time and Surrender's Strength (Book 3) was about 75% complete in a month - though both books will end up being significantly longer than Promise's Prayer. My non-fiction book took about three months after a year of research, study, and meditation.

Alea: Which character in Promise's Prayer gave you the hardest time?

Erika: Kaelan gave me the hardest time. He wasn't too good at coming up with ways to fulfill his promise, and he wasn't the greatest about letting me know the details of his plans ahead of time. Sometimes I managed to put him into a situation I had no idea how he would get out of. He kept insisting on figuring things out on his own. Also, I haven't been able to find a character inspiration picture that looks like him. Still, he was a fun character to write.

Alea: Thank you again for joining me today!


First place will receive a paperback copy and second place will receive an ebook copy.

Blog Party Stops

Ellrick Character Spotlight at Reality Reflected
Carita Character Spotlight at God's Peculiar Treasure Rae
Author Interview at Seek Him First
Kaelan Character Interview and Spotlight at Random Reflections

Release Party Central at Resting Life

Erika Mathews is an author and editor who lives in the farm country of Minnesota with her husband and daughter. She’s a homeschool graduate with a Bachelor’s in Communications, a Master’s in Biblical Ministries, and a passion for sharing Jesus Christ and His truth. When she’s not working with books, she enjoys reading, outdoor activities, piano and violin, organizing, and using the Oxford comma. You can connect with Erika at restinglife.com, on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram.


Camp NaNoWriMo April, 2017 | A Hamlet retelling set in space. (How is it almost April?)

Sorry I took a short, unannounced hiatus.  Suddenly it was Monday and I had no post ideas.  And now, apparently, we're almost 4 months into 2017.  *screams*  What is eating this year?  I must kill it and then burn its corpse.

BUT, the 4th month also means Camp NaNoWriMo (a.k.a. insanity and lots of fun).  So...here's all about my April novel.
i attempted to hand letter the title after
watching a youtube video about it.

What is this story about, you ask?

~A Hamlet retelling set in space.~

This story was born in English class while my teacher was reading Hamlet aloud to us.  I fell in love with the story from the moment I began reading it.  And so long story short, I'm writing a retelling of it.  The blog has gone through some changes.  Originally, it was going to be about a spaceship where everyone is a ghost but the dead King Hamlet figure, but that idea got trashed.  We're just going to ignore the fact that I did terrible on the Hamlet short response test.

~What No One Remembers is the backstory of 2 of the characters.~

And still, no one is going to read it...

So here's the "official" description of The Space Beyond Sanity.  (Warning: I'm the worst at descriptions.)

The crew of the SS Elias has problems. They nearly died, their captain abandoned them, and now there's a ghost haunting the ship and a possible murder.

I'm also in a lovely cabin with Savannah, Micaiah, and Bellethiel.

Are you doing Camp NaNoWriMo?  What is your April WIP?  I would love to hear about them!



*shrieks* It's release day for The Princess and I!  In honor of this occasion, I am hosting an interview with author Rebekah Eddy.

Megan is content with her life, despite her parents' death and her brother Malcolm's job that keeps him busy at the King's castle. But when she is offered the position as Princess Christine's lady-in-waiting, Megan is glad of the change in scenery and accepts it with the hope that she can spend more time with her brother. The promise from Malcolm of lessons in swordsmanship only adds to her enthusiasm.

However, helping keep an eye on the emotional and excitable young lady proves to be much harder than becoming her friend. As rumors of war circulate the castle, Megan strives to encourage her new friend even as she tries to settle the doubts and fears in her own heart when her responsibility in protecting the Princess is put to the test. Follow the unwanted adventure which serves to teach her that loyal friendship, true love, and God's amazing grace will always triumph over revenge, greed, and hate.

Alea:  Describe the moment you knew you wanted to be an author.

Rebekah: I wasn't serious about writing when I first started. I think at the beginning it was more like "writing books is cool" then "I want to be an author". It wasn't until I was twelve or thirteen when I thought that my love of writing might actually turn into something. When I self published the first edition of "The Silver Flower" and it came in the mail, I was able to hold it my hands and say "This is my book!" I think THAT was the moment I decided to really get serious about writing and become a true author. I started ordering books from the library on writing and editing, paying more attention to other writer's blogs, and joined the awesome community on here where I could connect with other Christian teens who had the same goal as me: to use our gift of writing to encourage and bless others while bringing glory to God.

Alea: What an awesome story!  Why did you choose to be an independently published author?

Rebekah: Well, it's a WHOLE lot less expensive and less time consuming then finding a publisher. :) Also, it's a bit more relaxing when you're the one deciding when you want to publish your book and then publishing it. And, as I mentioned before, I first self-published when I was twelve...so I wasn't ready to bring my story to a serious publisher yet. Maybe someday I will...but for now, I'm happy with this system. Lulu has been amazing, and I highly recommend their website if you are a writer looking for an easy (and fairly cheap) way to get your story looking professional. ;)

Alea: I've used Lulu to print my book, but never to publish.  Thanks for sharing!  Favorite writing snack?

Rebekah: I...don't usually eat while writing. Sometimes, I bring a snack over to where I'm writing and think I'm going to eat it. But then I always forget it's there. XD If I do feel peckish during a writing splurge I might try to convince a sibling to bring me something like apple slices or crackers and cheese.
I do drink a variety of hot beverages while writing though. Tea, coffee, apple cider, and hot chocolate to name a few. Do those count as a snack?

Alea: Those absolutely count.  Coffee and tea are my writing fuel.  Now I have a very evil question for you.  Who are your top 3 favorite authors?

Rebekah: Ooooohhh, you're treading dangerous ground here, Alea...but since you were kind enough to create such a fabulous cover for me...I'll let you get away with it this once. ;)
Out of ALL my favorite authors out there, it was hard to bring it down to three. I narrowed down the list to the authors that were most influential to my own writing and finally down to three ABSOLUTE favorites from them. Here they are in no particular order:
C. S. Lewis
J. R. R. Tolkien
Jane Austen
There you are. The secret is out.

Alea: Thank you so much for stopping by my blog, Rebekah!  I am stoked that your book is now released to the world!  To all of you readers out there, I encourage you to pick up your copy of The Princess and I and check out the other blog tour stops.

Rebekah grew up surrounded by family members who appreciated and read good literature. First, she fell in love with the stories her parents read aloud to her from the Bible and books like The Chronicles of Narnia, Great Expectations, The Hobbit, and Anne of Green Gables. After learning to read on her own, she discovered other fantastic books which helped to build her ever-growing imagination.

She completed her first written work at the tender age of eight and now uses it to humble herself whenever the need arises. The story did serve to show her that God had given her a desire to write, however, and from that moment on Rebekah has never looked back or regretted picking up her pencil and becoming an author.

This eighteen-year-old homeschool graduate lives in rainy Western Washington and is currently working on receiving her BA in English in order to further her passion for creating worlds on paper.