Review: The Guardian

God only gives so many wake-up calls… Will she answer?

BOOK: The Guardian (A Three Sisters Novel)

AUTHOR: Abbigail Raine B.

GENRE: Christian Historical Fiction

AGE LEVEL: Appropriate for Fifteen and up


Survival on the prairies of 1850s Texas is full of hardship and tragedy. Felicia “Felix” Taylor would know. Raising her sisters, running the farm, and connecting with her neighboring friends keeps her grounded. But when the providential and the coincidental occur, how will she respond? Will she acknowledge that it may be the God she turned her back on? Will she let Him in? Or will she steel her heart against the faith that betrayed her?


5 Stars


Still reeling from a cruel blow that changed everything, Felix is determined to do whatever it takes to keep her sisters safe so no more tragedy befalls her family. But life isn’t cooperating with her plans, and problem after problem accrues. Is this some mere, destructive turn of fate, and how can any good possibly come from such hardships?

With a steady pace that gently guides the reader through the everyday lives of three sisters, the plot gradually builds the tension until the reader can’t help but wonder how things will be resolved. There’s a bit of suspense near the end, and my heart was pounding something fierce during those last few chapters.

This is where Abbigail’s strength really shines. Effortlessly weaving words, she draws the reader into hot, humid days, tempestuous storms, solemn settings, and cozy cabins and barns. I could feel myself in the setting, and Abbigail does well never letting you forget the time and place.

Felix reminded me so much of myself: the determined older sister who will do anything to keep her siblings safe, even if it means being a controlling tyrant at times. The other sisters, Stacey and Millie, are each well-crafted too, and I never once mixed them up with each other.

There is another character–my favorite, in fact–whom readers will meet, but I will refrain from spilling any more details lest I spoil the plot. Let’s just say I fangirled so. Doggone. Hard. And I shipped two certain characters so. Doggone. Hard as well.

As always, the icing on the cake is the faith content, and that’s certainly true for The Guardian. With an unashamed and bold manner, Abbigail proclaims the Gospel without reservation. I so appreciated her resolve in portraying the truth. In a world where the truth is watered down to avoid “hurting feelings” or offending people, this was a wonderful reminder of how we are called to be lights amidst the darkness.

Holding no punches, Abbigail lays out the Gospel as it is presented in Scripture: Hell is real, and that’s where all who are unsaved are going unless you repent and believe.

To this, I give Abbigail a thousand accolades. Well done, Abbi. I’m so proud of your boldness in this.

An attack is reminisced about, a character is injured in various occurrences, and a horse is poisoned by hemlock (no one is at fault for this).

In a solid story that forthrightly declares the Gospel, Abbigail Raine B. delivers an impactful and poignant debut. If you enjoy faith-filled historicals, you’ll not want to miss The Guardian.

*I received an ARC of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.


Cover Reveal: Love in the Headlines

Today is the cover reveal for Love in the Headlines, Penny Zeller’s latest contemporary. Stay tuned for an upcoming review in a few months.


Penny Zeller is known for her heartfelt stories of faith and her passion to impact lives for Christ through fiction. While she has had a love for writing since childhood, she began her adult writing career penning articles for national and regional publications on a wide variety of topics.

Today Penny is a multi-published author and is also a homeschool mom and a group fitness instructor. Her desire is to assist and nurture women into a closer relationship with Christ.

When Penny is not dreaming up new characters, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two daughters and camping, hiking, canoeing, reading, running, gardening, and playing volleyball.

Penny is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency and loves to hear from her readers at her website,, her blog,, and on Facebook at


Can paper and paw prints draw these two nemeses together?

All Carleigh Adams wants is a relaxing evening. But Sullivan Theodore IV, her wayward Shih Tzu, has other plans. After escaping from home, Sullivan Theodore unlawfully enters what Carleigh assumes is a stranger’s house via a doggy door. Much to Carleigh’s horror, it is actually the home of her coworker and nemesis, Trey “The Irritating” Montgomery.

Trey Montgomery has had to work with “Quirky Carleigh,” his top competitor for the best articles at The Oakville Daily, for the past two years. It’s safe to say that she and her criminally-minded pet are his adversaries. Trey’s attempts to keep his distance from her are demolished when their boss thrusts them together as The Oakville Daily Duo, forcing them to work as a team on every. Single. Article.

Petty crimes and crazy shenanigans in Oakville soon draw Carleigh and Trey into doubling as detectives. When dogs, including their own pets, begin to mysteriously disappear, Carleigh and Trey join forces to uncover the culprit. As they work to report the daily news and solve the crimes in Oakville, can these two stubborn reporters find love in the headlines?

Faith, plentiful humor, and tender romance round out the latest Christian contemporary romance novel by Author Penny Zeller.

Releases: May 9, 2023


Doesn’t Sullivan Theodore IV (the white one) just look like a mischief-maker?

What’s the last Christian Contemporary you read? What about Love in the Headlines catches your eye/piques your interest? Have you added it to your TBR yet?

Writing Q&A

A few days ago, I posted I would answer any writing questions you had, and today is that day. Thank you to all who posed questions. I had fun answering them, and I hope they help.


Do you have a method for coming up with names for countries/places in fantasy?

– Kristina

If the name doesn’t come to me, I wait until I know the topography, geography, or what the land is known for. Then I search through specific words in different languages and usually combine a few. For example, Marteris in The Redwyn Chronicles is so named because mare means “water” in numerous different languages. I took the first three letters and slapped on a suffix.

How do you deal with magic in a Christian fantasy?


When it comes to magic, you’re going to find readers fall into two categories: those who hate it and those who are fine with it. There is a common misconception that every fantasy book must have magic, and that’s simply not true. There is a specific genre called Kingdom Fantasy, which is nonmagical fantasy.

In my opinion, there are two acceptable ways to portray magic. One, to have it be a literal gift from God, and two, to address it the way Donita K. Paul does, where it points back to Him. I can’t really explain her method, as it’s pure ingeniousness, so I’m just going to tell you to go read her Dragonkeeper books.

What are your tips on creating fascinating storyworlds?


Have fun! Be zany. What seems odd to us could be normal for your characters. Think about the small things. Do they know what cows are? Do they have pet lions? Do they live in the desert and have never seen the ocean? Do they primarily reside underground? Do different lands have different physical features and characteristics? Even a few minor things can create a host of unique differences. In The Redwyn Chronicles, they’re all human, but Veerhamers only have blond/e and red hair and aren’t known for their fighting skills. Marterises are both black and white and enjoy fish. Frilorans live in the mountains, and Halthdurnites are called wolfmen because they raise and hunt with wolves. Small things, really, but they make each group unique.

What’s your advice on how to create a fantasy story that’s low on magic but still inspires wonder?


One of the most common fantasy-related fallacies is you need magic.

You don’t.

And this is coming from a nonmagical fantasy author.

You can use worldbuilding to inspire wonder. Breathtaking scenery, a solid plot, and a good faith element are all you need to strike the hearts of your readers. There is wonder in our world, and it’s not hard to miss. Capitalize on that. When I look outside, I’m amazed by the thick wall of snowflakes, which bring them them a sense of peace and wonder when the wind’s not howling. Trekking through the mountains, dwarfed by lodgepole pines swaying in the breeze evokes an emotion I cannot name. Rising early in the morning and walking down to look at the mountain lake on a cold day enables you to see the fog either rolling in or drifting away over far hills and trees.

Just as there’s wonder and beauty in everyday life, so can there be in your nonmagical fantasy story. Take the everyday. Take a meadowlark’s melody, the rustle of leaves in the wind, or the gentle plunking of rain, and incorporate that. Your readers will comprehend it even better because they’ve likely experienced that themselves.

Where do you draw inspiration for your worlds?


I draw inspiration from everywhere. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve interrupted my sister, whether she’s snarking at me or being a goof, with an idea. Half of the ideas in my idea document are from her, and she inspired a certain character in Shattered Reflection. You can gather inspiration from the outdoors, from scrolling Pinterest, from exercising and listening to music, to studying historical events.

How truly important is it to make the world unique and never-been-done-before?


You need at least one unique element, but that can come from your plot. Unless you have the inspiration, or the plot calls for it, don’t spend hours worrying over creating a “never-been-done” world.

How can I take inspiration from other cultures to make a congruent world that doesn’t feel like it was mismatched and totally random?


This is one of the funnest aspects of worldbuilding. You can take Romanesque culture and plop it in the desert. Take African culture and put them in the mountains or on the beach. Of course, if fish is big in an African culture and they live in the desert, then you’d have to eliminate that to make it congruent, but there is a ton of maneuverability with this.

What sources do you prefer to use and would recommend (i.e sites/books/etc?)


The Inside Scoop by Janet Kolobel Grant and Wendy Lawton is fantastic, and the Emotion Thesauri are great too. I have a list of free resources here and joining a group like Writer’s Vision helps too. Plus, you can always ask other authors for advice. Other than that, I haven’t really “delved into the sources”. What I know is garnered from years of reading and studying how other authors write, worldbuild, craft characters, etc. But there are a lot of writing resources out there.

What are your best tips for worldbuilding? How do you normally approach creating a fantasy world?



How do you narrow the focus down/simplify things to make worldbuilding manageable?


Some of my above answers work into this. I’d say know the faith and if they have Bibles or not, use small elements to create unique places and people, and think about our world and what makes different areas unique. Focus on geography, leadership/government (royalty, republic, clans, tribes, whatever), and what weather and terrain come with that geography. Probably the tip I place most emphasis on is to not feel like you have to know every aspect. You’ll know more for some worlds than others, and that’s fine.

As for creating a fantasy world, there are two different steps you can take. One is to print out and fill in a form you can find online; there are many different ones. Some go so far as to ask what jokes are unique to that land/world. The other is the method I take. I make a list of imports, exports, faith, leadership, government, what the people look like, and clothing styles.

Different things work for different writers, so don’t place yourself in a box. Explore and see what jives best with your writing personality.


How do you make a fantasy story that isn’t preachy but still has Christian themes?


Actually, the “preachier” a book is, the more I laud it, but I understand the question. Interspersing prayers, like when they’re grateful for or scared of something, makes it natural, as does if they have daily devotions or go to church or have questions about their faith. Have your character(s) approach it like you would. That’s be best method I’ve found. What happens in real life are often the best methods for addressing faith in fiction. Don’t shy from having those faith talks, where your character(s) speak with a trusted mentor or pastor, but you don’t need to have it be half of every chapter. Do remember that “preachy” has a different level and meaning to everyone. The most important thing is to not shy from including your faith and to strive to honor God with every chapter you write.

How does one incorporate Christianity into a fictional world without it becoming stuffy/formulaic?

– Grayce

“Stuffy/Formulaic” can mean two different things:

One, those rote prayers you hear in certain churches and the “feelings” only garbage infecting the modern church and worship.

Two, the despicable, abominable lie that “too much Christianity” is off-putting.

Stay away from the first one. That’s unbiblical in so many ways.

But the second? Okay, I understand. You don’t want a sermon taking up half the book. But to call a redemption theme, a lot of prayers, or heavy reliance upon a character’s faith stuffy or too much? That is a bald-faced lie the enemy uses to dissuade Christian writers from pouring all of their heart and faith into a book.

Yes, have it be natural. Base if off your own faith walk. But, as a Christian writer, our mission should be to present the Gospel and proclaim our faith in our books. Nothing more. Nothing less. To quote from an Aaron Shust song, “Everything I say and do, let it be all for You.” Some books will have more faith content than others, and that’s okay. Your book isn’t less Christian if it doesn’t have a salvific theme.

But never, ever buy into that atrocious, deplorable, wretched lie that you need to water down your faith or not include too much because it will “offend” others. Christians who complain about “too much faith” in books will answer for their disdain for the Word. Let your faith pour out. Let it be natural. And never let the world or other readers dictate what is too much.

After all, you’re not writing for them. You’re writing for Him and Him alone.

How can you write a book with Christian themes that doesn’t only appeal to Christians?


I’m unsure if this question addresses “clean” fiction only or Christian fiction that unbelievers will want to read.

If you’re writing Christian fiction you want unbelievers to want to read as well, all I can tell you is God alone determines who reads your books, whether that’s believers or unbelievers. A lot of “clean” readers are willing to read Christian books, even if they themselves are not part of the flock. It’s kind of a crossover.


What are your favorite ways to add depth to a character?


You can add depth to characters by studying those around you. On the surface and during first interactions/impressions, people can appear single-facted. But everyone has a motivator, everyone has a dream, everyone has been shaped by past pain and disappointments. Knowing at least two of those, in regards to your character, will help add depth. I also, personally, find a character song for them. Doing this can really help you figure out your character’s struggles, yearnings, and fears. Bottom of a Heartbreak by Needtobreathe is Denton Yindell’s, and I must say it is totally him. Whenever you are having a hard time writing that character, you can return to that character song, and it will provide inspiration.

Do you usually use Pinterest to find a character (picture wise)? Or do you think of a name first, THEN picture someone in your head or find a picture that fits what you’re thinking of?


Both, honestly. It all depends on the character and if they’ve already come with a name. Don’t allow an either/or method to trip you up. Both can work equally well.

Sometimes I know a character’s place in my book, but not their name or appearance, and I’ll go looking to see on Pinterest if I can find what they look like, then seek a name to fit the look. Other times they come with a name, or I find a name, and then go looking for their appearance. And yet other times I have a name and find what the character looks like, but it doesn’t fit the name. So I change the name. That’s what happened to Marcus in The Shattered Lands. I had a picture of how I envisioned him looking like, but it didn’t match the current name, which was Grayson. So I changed his name.

Naming a character can be quite the complicated process.

What are your tips for writing a character whose arc spans a whole series?


Make them grow slowly and have something they need to overcome in each book until their character arc is complete in the final book.

Do your characters determine the plot, or do you build them based off of the plot?


Every author is different, but the outcome is usually the same. So whatever’s coming to you in that regard, go with it.

I begin with building them based off the plot, but they usually go their own way by a quarter of the book. It’s inevitable unless you’re one of the few authors who can wrangle your characters into compliance to what you already have in mind.

What’s your process for figuring out a character’s backstory?


I base it off the plot. An idea comes, then I determine which characters need to be incorporated, then what placed them there in the first place.

Do you have any tips for writing complex villains (especially on how to balance their humanity with their badness?)


I would advise you to understand your villain’s motivation. Is it greed? Anger? Revenge? And do they have a family? A prized pet? A hobby they enjoy? Even those who desire world-domination have one of those three things. Don’t water down their evil, but give them a driving force.


When other people are editing your work, how do you know when is too much? Like how to know that you aren’t using your original tone and voice as an author?


This is a good question, and definitely one you should keep in mind whenever you hire an editor.

A good editor’s job is not to eliminate or alter your voice; it is to help you improve by pointing out flaws (e.g. if you need to use more conjunctions in lieu of a bunch of short sentences). I would say too much/trying to alter your voice is when they’re attempting to have you completely “recreate” your story. Not missing scenes or whatnot, but a complete re-mastering of how you string together words and impart emotion.

Now, on the flip side, editors are paid to tell you if something’s not working. For instance, there is a common “acceptance” of this style of writing: “I sat up. Groaned.” That is an extremely amateurish and poor style for a variety of reasons, so if the editor is telling you to stop that, then heed their wisdom. They’re only trying to help you avoid a catastrophic writing pitfall in this instance.

In short, everyone has their own voice. If you think an editor is telling you how to completely change your voice, pray, read their suggestions with fresh eyes, and get input from someone who knows your writing well—like a family member or close beta.


What are your best tips for editing? What do you do to not get overwhelmed by the editing process? Any and all tips are greatly appreciated!


Take it slow and steady on editing. You’ll need to do multiple phases and rounds, but don’t let that irritate you too much (because editing is aggravating). Leave yourself plenty of time if you can, at least two, three months, so you don’t rush. Here’s a list of different types of edits, so you can see what you need to do in each.

How long do you recommend a draft sitting before diving into edits?


The optimal time is three to four months so you “forget” the story and are able to see it with fresh eyes. Sometimes even longer is better.

What are the main questions you focus on when doing developmental edits on books?


As defined by Mountain Peak Edits & Design, Developmental Editing,

Focuses at the broad range, or “big picture” of your writing project.

Look for:

  • General plot and character inconsistencies
  • Lagging areas – also known as a stalemate and if your writing is going 15 mph in a 45 mph zone. Basically, if your writing is too slow for the plot.
  • Chapters and paragraphs to see if they’re the right length and location based on the general flow of your story.
  • Flow – I look for potholes and speed bumps in your writing.
  • General syntax and grammar – if you have a pet word or consistently misuse or misunderstand homophones.

So you need to ask yourself 1) are there any inconsistencies, 2) does anything feel slow and if so, does it require alteration or elimination 3) does this chapter need to be combined with another or separated into two, 4) are any sentences choppy, and 5) is there a word or phrase you have adopted as your favorite word or phrase?

How do you know when to cut out a scene?


Cutting a scene is like removing your own limb. It hurts.

You’ll know when to cut if the scene just doesn’t fit, is nice to read but doesn’t go anywhere, or if your alpha and beta readers tell you it needs to go.


What are some good free fantasy fonts?


I will always recommend Cinzel. It is a font for all genres. Classy, but adaptable no matter the cover. There are two primary versions of Cinzel: Cinzel and Cinzel Decorative. The issue with Cinzel Decorative is it can easily become too much, as it contains extra tags and flourishes. The first letters in the author name on this book cover are in Cinzel Decorative, and the author name on this book cover is in regular Cinzel. You can mix and match for an elegant, yet classy combination, or strictly stick to Cinzel.

Where do you look for images (of people, landscapes, etc.) to use for covers? Any copyright stuff we should know about?


The two stock sites I use are Adobe and Shutterstock. These are not free and you will have to pay, but if you’re seriously into cover design, one or the other is worth it. My primary go-to is Adobe, where I have a subscription. Better to pay $320 a year (this is why covers cost at least $50) than $70 an image. That can turn terribly pricey when I sometimes use pieces from three different models for a “final” outcome.

Yes. Violating copywrite policies is called copyright infringement, and can land you in serious trouble. Be extremely careful if you take images from Pexels or Pixabay. In fact, aside from vectors, I wouldn’t recommend it if you can help it. Always research copyright laws when you are looking at a site that’s not Adobe, Shutterstock, or one of the other image-purchase sites.

Do you have some sort of app you use to design covers? I would love to get into that as a hobby, but I’m not sure what sort of app or service to use…


I personally use Picmonkey. It’s not “high-end” like Adobe Photoshop, but it’s a solid near high-end that doesn’t cost as much and is so much easier to use.

Now, the type of covers you’re interested in designing determines whether you should go with Canva or a design program like Picmonkey.

In Canva, you can create what I call “cutsey” covers, like the Imagine Anthology. They’re nice covers, but definitely a certain niche that fits only a certain type of book. When it fits, they’re adorable. So if your book falls into that niche, go with Canva.

If you’re looking for a design program where you can blend, shadow, recolor/dye, brighten, darken, tint, and more, then you’ll want to go with Picmonkey. Kimberly Burkhardt’s cover for Apple of His Eye (also designed by yours truly), is an example of dying, positioning, shadowing, and brightening. I dyed the model’s hair, put a slight yellow tint to her so she looked like she was in the sun, shadowed the grass behind her to create realism, and positioned her to the side before making it look like she was actually in the grass and not pasted on over it.

So it all depends on what look you’re going for. Both Picmonkey and Canva have their place.

Did you have to take classes to learn how to design a cover?


No, you don’t. While many advise it, you don’t need to. In fact, these days, the more you can stay away from colleges, the better off you are.

What are the “rules” for choosing fonts that work together?


The rule of thumb is no more than two fonts on the cover. Now, on the back cover you should use a legible font for the blurb. I prefer Lora, but chances are I won’t use Lora on the front. If you do use two fonts, do not make both of them gorgeous and calligraphic. That reduces legibility and makes it difficult for people to read. One Serif font and one calligraphic if you do decide to combine. Sans serif typically doesn’t go well with fiction, although certain fonts in that font family can work. So stick with Serif.

What do you wish you had known when first starting to design a cover?


I wish I had known that a good cover takes time. Slapping font on a background usually doesn’t create a quality cover others will want to buy.

What’s your process for designing a cover from scratch?


It begins with inspiration. If I’m making a premade, I usually concoct an idea when I’m scrolling through images and see a model and background I think would look good together. If you’re creating a cover for yourself, the first few things to ask are what/who do you want on the front, what colors convey the mood of your story, and what font and font placement would look best. I usually work on the model first (swap ‘n chops, clothing coloring, hair dye, etc.) before bringing in the background, but that’s a personal preference and every designer will be different.

What’s one big mistake you newbie cover designers make, and how can they fix it?


Just one mistake? I would say poor font selection. If you want to negatively mark yourself as an indie author, use scrawling font for your name. On the book title, that works sometimes. But not your name. Use clear, professional fonts like Cinzel and don’t have it be microscopic and tucked in a corner. Please don’t do that.

What are some of the biggest mistakes you notice in cover designs?


Aside from the above answer, size comparison and scale are the major issues I notice. Babies are not as big as the adults in real life, nor are they just happily floating above the grass. This drives me up the wall and then some, and my family is subjected to my rants whenever I see that error. It doesn’t look good. Ensure you take time and pour care and refinement into your cover.

Make sure the heads, if you do chop ‘n swaps, are the correct size, and not too big or small. If something is “closer” to the reader, then it will be bigger. (So a wagon in the background is smaller than the woman in the foreground.) Make sure heads don’t look like they’re on backward. Make sure hands aren’t too big/small. Also make sure you make the garments as modest and era-appropriate as possible.


What publishing companies have you used for your books? Do you recommend any for those seeking publication for the first time (aka, me)?


I actually self-publish. Now, my story in Seize the Love is published by Abbigail Harris’ company, but as far as I know, it’s not accepting submissions except through her Seize the World anthologies.

If you’re looking for traditional publishers, you can try Enclave and Ambassador International. To my knowledge, they’re the only two real ones who accept Christian unagented submissions, unless you write historical romance and want to look at Wild Hearts (but you’d need a huge platform for that).

I’m not going into much detail on this quite yet, but there is a Christian fantasy anthology publisher in the works. If all goes according to plan this year, there will be another group to which you can submit your novellas for theme-specific collections.

Collections and anthologies are a good way to start out. My first published work is A Past to Bear, which is featured in Whitstead Harvestide. I didn’t have to pay for the cover, but I had to go through the edits they wanted and learn how to promote. It was fun.


Sooooo I have a subplot in between a fantasy setting- from friends to lovers, and none of the actual plot can progress until they get into a relationship. How do I write a natural, realistic progression, that’s clean, not cliche, and concise enough so that it still remains the subplot?


Ah, one of my favorite tropes! I would recommend to have any subplots supporting the plot, and likewise, to have the plot affect the subplot. Do occurrences draw them together? How do those occurrences affect both subplot and overarching plot? Cliche can be good in some ways, so I wouldn’t direct too much worry that way. You can always go back in and clean it up/switch it, if you feel the need.

In Shattered Reflection, Breac and Layree (spoiler to those who’ve not yet read it), end up together. Their romance is a subplot, and they go from wary allies to friends to more. The feelings need to grow as the story progresses and they need to exhibit those changing feelings through their actions and words. Breac makes Layree a sword, something he wouldn’t do for anyone but his family (and he is an awkward bean at best, so that kind of said what he couldn’t figure out how to speak). Let their actions be in tune with the plot, and let the overall plot help guide the subplot.

I hope that helped. I know what to say in my head, but my fingers get in the way.

What advice would you give an author who is just starting a blog?

– Grayce

Publish book reviews, participate in cover reveals, and comment on others’ blogs. Not because it gains you something, but because it’s the nice and right thing to do. It will take time to build your platform, but don’t get discouraged. It took me seven years to reach one hundred subscribers on this blog. Actively seek connections (which I didn’t do) and be willing to help celebrate others’ victories and accomplishments.

How do you keep motivation while writing on a deadline?


I have a contract with Amazon, and breaking that contract would destroy my writing for the next year, so that is the driving motivator.

For normal people who don’t work themselves into corners, preorders, awaiting readers, and the eagerness to get your baby out to the world are usually the primary motivators.

What is your favorite thing about writing fairytale retellings?


My favorite things are infusing in faith and exceeding the typical plots and boundaries of retellings. I have absolutely nothing against traditional retellings, in fact, I enjoy reading them. But there’s something thrilling about putting logic where there’s originally magic, expanding the plot, and making it more. No one thought a Snow Queen retelling could be written without magic, but it’s quite possible, and I immensely enjoyed delving into the medical aspect. Putting more to the Cinderella retelling, IRON, was fantastically fun as well.

What are your best tips for writing retellings?


My first tip is to add something unique. Yes, yes, we all know Cinderella gets locked up. A unique element could be changing where she gets locked up (or he, in Carter’s case). Don’t be afraid to go beyond the usual. Make your world incorporate the retelling, not your retelling incorporate the world. Things are still happening when the fairytale is going on.

What are your tips for narrowing down on a certain aesthetic for a website?


When considering an aesthetic, you need to examine your platform and genres you write. If you pen suspense, you’ll not be wanting flowery and romantic. You’ll want bold, solid colors, like navy or forest green paired with white or gray. If you’re into romance, you’ll want muted pastels, perhaps with a floral or delicate design. Neither of those aesthetics work for my platform, so I have fantasy mountains, since I write fantasy. It’s all in your platform and what you write. Your aesthetic needs to match your primary genre.

Was any of that information helpful? If you have more questions, please feel free to drop them in the comment section!

What aesthetic fits you? What’s your favorite genre to read and/or write?

Write Your Worst Tag

I have been tagged by Saraina. Thanks!

Before we begin, I would like to clarify things:

  1. I have no idea if Chattanooga has a zoo. Frankly, I don’t care. I just used it because I think it’s a fun word to say.
  2. I have no clue if penguins could survive that long in such heat and humidity. For the sake of the story, I don’t care.
  3. I despise New York. I am not promoting travel there, and I will never again have an idea take place there.
  4. I don’t usually write contemporary. In fact, I’m not fond at all of most contemporaries. So I have no idea why this ended up as contemporary.
  5. K.R. Mattson can be blamed for this piece of flash fiction. She was the one who gave the penguin prompt.
  6. I didn’t edit it a lick. So sorry for any errors there may be (although I do suppose that is part of the challenge).
  7. Admittedly, the worst thing I ever wrote was the first story I attempted. But I’m not subjecting you to that. So you get the second-worst thing I’ve ever written.

The Rules

  1. Link back to the creator of the tag, Saraina Whitney
  2. Include the tag graphic in your post
  3. Thank the blogger who tagged you and link back to their blog
  4. Display the rules in your post
  5. In a thousand words or less, do your best to create the most poorly-written story you can. Indulge in cheesiness, stiff or overly flowery prose, poor grammar, and cliche premises to your heart’s content.
  6. Break all the writing rules you want
  7. Keep it clean, of course; do not take “worst” to mean morally so
  8. Though you can make fun of cliches you hate, do stay respectful of other’s opinions
  9. Tag any bloggers you’re dying to see try this, or leave an open nomination!
  10. You can repeat the challenge however many times you want

Of Penguins, Bullets, and Agents

“911. What’s your emergency?”

Jack stared at the multiple black-and-white fowl toddling about the lush green grass. He groaned and rubbed his forehead. He hated this job. Hated Matt for getting him involved. Hated NYC. Hated all of this.


“I don’t know that it’s an emergency exactly, but there’s, like,  800 penguins running around in Central Park. Just thought someone should know.”

The operator spluttered her disbelief. “Sir, it is highly immature and inappropriate to prank call this line.”

“Ma’am, I’m not pranking. This is real. I’m, uh, a driver for the Chattanooga Zoo. Was haulin’ a bunch of penguins when something happened and they all escaped.”

The lie tasted bitter. It shouldn’t, not after all his missions, but it did. He’d been raised to know lying was a sin, and here he was, speaking one as smoothly as his brother charmed and flattered girls.

Jack never had been a ladies’ man. Wasn’t even a people’s man, really.

I digress.

The operator fumbled for a sentence. “I’ll contact the local dog catcher.”

“Please do.” Although one man with a puny net wouldn’t do much good.

Eight hundred penguins. Jack would drink ten gallons of coffee in one sitting if it meant he never had to see another stupid penguin again.

Darn you, Matt.

He grumbled and called the zoo, reporting the incident. Then he called Matt, listing his extensive complaints against his captain and his less-than-stellar idea.

Matt laughed. “Hang tight, Jack. Backup will be there in a few.”

“A dog catcher is not backup.”

“Not the backup I spoke of. Looks like Antony Covolo is making his way toward your location, so you may get a chance to bring him in sooner than we thought.”

That or a chance to die sooner than Jack planned. “Sounds great. You know what I want my epitaph to say.”

“Shut up, you big baby, and get to work.”

Jack scowled at the phone after Matt hung up. Cowardly boss.


The feminine voice drew him from his musings. A woman of average features, with dark hair and gray eyes, stared at him.

A groan welled in his throat. Not again. “Kiersta”.

She nodded then moseyed to his side. In a low voice, she murmured, “Another mission?”

“I forgot how nosy you are.”

“Smile, Jack. The media is catching this. Can’t have the Chatanooga Penguin Chauffeur looking like he wants to murder his passengers.”

Jack knew exactly who he wanted to murder. And when he was through with Matt, the dimwit wouldn’t be laughing.

“Let me guess. A.C. is your target?”

“Why don’t you broadcast it to the world?”

“You’ll need help.”

“Not the type you can provide.”

“That’s true. I don’t work in a mental institution.”

Jack scowled at her syrupy smile. “Not what I meant.”

Kiersta shrugged.  “You need ice cream to improve your mood.”

“Remind me how you became an agent?”

“My charm, my good looks, and my stellar aim.”

“You have one out of those three.”


“You have the charm of a rat who just sat on a cactus and your aim is worse than a blindfolded toddler’s.”

Kiersta batted her lashes. “Why, Jack, I never knew you had a crush on me.”

“You’re delusional.” And there he went again, lyin’ through his teeth.

With a pft, Kiersta waved her hand before facing the melee. A throng of people gathered, most laughing while others held up their stupid cellular devices. “You’ll need help.”

“So you said.”

Growling, Jack clambered from the truck and glowered at the obnoxious beasties. “Might as well be helpful. Let’s get these monsters rounded up.”

Kiersta chuckled as she jogged toward the nearest penguin. “This isn’t the Wild West, and these adorable little cuties are certainly not monsters.”

So said the woman who didn’t have to work undercover in a zoo.

For as awkward as the penguins were, they waddled exceptionally fast. Jack pressed a hand to his side as he dodged after the thirtieth nuisance. Was he just out of shape, or did penguin-chasing need to become a training activity for his crew?

Kiersta’s laugh drew his attention to where she chased a baby penguin. Her hair, haywire in the humidity, bounced about and made her look like a clown had styled it, but she’d never been cuter.

Mind in the game, Jack. No distractions.

She laughed again. The woman was definitely a distraction.

Burning pain accompanied his next step just before the resounding report of a rifle filled the air.


Grunting against the agony, Jack dove toward Kiersta, looped his arm around her waist, and hauled her to the truck. A bullet pinged off the back door, adding to the ringing in his ears.

Warm hands framed his face before a frown covered Kiersta’s. “You’re shot.”

“Yep. I’m gonna kill Matt.”

Drawing his Barretta, Jack scooted to the edge. A sniper had to have taken that shot—he’d stake his job on it.

You won’t even have a life if you don’t do somethin’ soon.

Three mags of ammo, one Barretta, and however many penguins. Not exactly a recipe for success.

Yep. Matt was gonna die.

“Get back here, you big fool.”

You stay back. I don’t want you hurt.” Before Jack could say another word, he was hauled back.

Kiersta shook his shoulders. “Be quiet and listen. Matt just contacted me. They’re on their way.”

“Great. And what does he want me to do while we wait? Be bullet bait?”

“No, he wants you to be ready, whatever that means.”

Oh, Jack knew what that meant. Your life is on the line, Matt. Just you wait.

More bullets peppered the truck’s sides. At Kiersta’s wince, Jack gently took her hand. Gritting his teeth against the pain and the sensation of blood exuberantly exiting the wound, he traced his thumb over hers. “We’ll be okay.”

“I know. You’re here.”

Whether or not she was joking, he couldn’t tell. But the words did boost his confidence.

A smidgen.

Shouts, followed by more gunfire, rang through the air.

Blocking Kiersta with his body, Jack held the Barretta to his chest and waited.

Silence fell.

Then a shadowed figure appeared. “Oh, good. You’re still alive. It’s so much trouble to train new operatives.”

Clicking on the safety, Jack shoved the Barretta into his holster. “You’re a dead man, Matthew.”

“I’m more alive than you, if that wound is any indication. How is he, K?”

“As ornery as ever.”

Matt snorted and waved his hand. “Area’s secure. Get out. Luke will take you to the hospital.”

Grumbling, Jack obeyed. The ground did spin a little, and his thoughts took longer to reorient themselves, but he wouldn’t tell Matt that. Not with Kiersta in hearing range.

He paused when she called his name.

She flashed him a saucy grin. “You owe me a date.”

“Yeah, right.”

“That little bakery on the corner of Fifth and Lewis at five tomorrow.”

Jack grumbled but acquiesced with a wave before stumbling to where Luke’s massive Chevy awaited its weary passenger.

And where said driver was laughing uncontrollably. “Does someone have a date?”

“Someone’s gonna kill you if you don’t shut yer yap and drive.”

A child in a man’s body, Luke continued teasing Jack all the way to the hospital.

And Jack withheld a grin. Not the way he foresaw his first date with Kiersta coming about, but who was he to argue?

Nominations: Open. Have fun. Write your heart out. Be as wacky and wild as you can. Doing flash fiction, with no thought behind it, can help break writer’s block and get that inspiration flowing.

What did you think? Many thanks to Saraina for tagging me. Have you ever chased a penguin? Made your character(s) chase one? What other adventures would you like to see Jack, Matt, and Luke get in? (Can’t guarantee it’d ever happen, but there’s a possibility.)

Upcoming Writing Q&A

To kind of celebrate KEY’s upcoming release, I thought it’d be fun to do a writing Q&A. So, if you have any questions about writing fantasy, writing another genre, worldbuilding, editing, cover design, or another writing-related question, I’d love to try answering it for you. With around seven books published and five more stories tentatively scheduled for this year (so this is what courting insanity feels like), I feel I have a good enough grasp on, at the very least, fantasy and editing/cover design to help.

Hopefully, I’ll have the answers posted next Thursday.

You can fill out the form here.

Almost an Author: Interview with Anna Lane

Today I am interviewing Anna Lane.


Anna Lane is a future author in fantasy and Christian contemporary from the middle of nowhere. She enjoys riding horses (when she can), drinking bubble tea, and cooking up tasty treats for her family. When she’s not writing, you can find her re-reading Narnia books, playing a “friendly” game of soccer with her younger brother, or chatting with good friends. You can find her on her blog, .


What’s your go-to space for writing?

Hmmm…. I’d have to say the kitchen table. Plenty of room for my computer and any other brainstorming tools I may need. Plus, it’s usually quiet in there, so double-points!

What’s your favorite genre to read?

My go-to genre is usually Christian contemporary, because usually (usually, not always) I don’t have to worry about questionable content. But at the same time, there are some ungodly “Christian” writers out there who write unbiblical stories (I have ran into one or two), so I have to be careful what books I read. My parents always remind me to be careful (both with reading, writing, looking at blog posts, and visiting websites) and compare what I read with the Bible. Questions I’ve been asking myself recently: Is it God-honoring? What thoughts and ideas am I putting in my head? How is this impacting me? I also love fantasy, but, like I said, I have to be careful with what I am putting in my mind.

I ask myself, “Is this something that will fill my mind with witchcraft?” For example, Harry Potter. I do not read Harry Potter, nor do I watch it. That is my preference because I do not approve of witchcraft. Fantasy can be a fun genre to write and read, but it can also be very dangerous. It all depends on what you’re trying to convey through your writing.

Words of wisdom for those who are just starting out on the writing path?

You got this!!! LOL. Okay, getting serious now…

You will experience writer’s block, like ALL authors. If you think you’re the only one, you’re not! Even famous, experienced authors have experienced writers block (as far as I know- if they haven’t, I would be surprised!). But don’t fret! Getting out of writer’s block can be difficult, but it’s possible!

What is your least favorite part of the writing process?

Having it read by my editor… which is my dad 🙂

The reason I say this is because it’s often nerve-wracking. I always fret over things like, “Will he like it?” or “What if there’s something he doesn’t approve of?” But whenever things like that enter my mind, I pray and ask God to calm me down. It’s always nerve-wracking whenever you have someone read your books over 🙂

What is your favorite part of the writing process?

Probably over-thinking characters. Especially their middle names. I have a thing for names, especially unique ones. I have to hold myself back from making families with forty children (I may or may not have done that before… just for the pure fun of it!)…

Do you focus on one project at a time or do you have multiple projects going simultaneously?

I could never focus on one project at a time. I have… two? Three? Four projects, maybe?

What project(s) are you currently working on?

Currently, I am editing my (hopefully) debut novel, Firestone. Series title unknown. I’m still trying to decide what I’m going to call it… XD

How do you select the names of your characters?

When I think of characters, I go through names on the internet usually. But I don’t pick random names. I debate through names, and don’t choose a name until it FITS.

Some people don’t choose names like this, but if it doesn’t fit the character, I’m not happy with my story. Names are EVERYTHING.

For example, I once had a character named Kari. But I changed her name because her name was Kari Underwood. Kari Underwood, Carrie Underwood?

So, I changed it to Lucinda.

And it just doesn’t…. fit.

So, I’m going to look for names until I find a name that’s JUST right 🙂

Has there been one particular person who has been a major source of influence for one of your characters?

Well, I based the siblings in my book off of me and MY siblings. One of the brothers, Asher, is very fiery, and my younger brother Aiden (whose name literally means fire) is very fiery. He was a big inspiration for Asher.

Ryan reminds me of my older brother a bit too 🙂

How do you get inspiration to write?

Music mostly, but also movies and books. My series was inspired by Lord of The Rings, Narnia, Pirates of The Caribbean, and a bunch of other things LOL.

Whenever I see a good, inspiring line from a book, movie, or article, I write it down and save it for later!

On average, how long does it take you to write the first draft of a book?

Hmm… well, usually a few months, depending on how long it is, and how much I’ve already brainstormed of the book.

How do you incorporate your faith into your writing?

Great question!

I asked myself a similar question recently, and I thought of a quote by C.S Lewis that I love! To summarize: You don’t necessarily have to write a CHRISTIAN book. What I mean by THAT is you don’t have to make your book blatantly (obvious) Christian. We are called to do everything, eating, drinking, WRITING, reading, everything, for the glory of God.

We can make a birthday card for the glory of God.

We can bake cookies for the glory of God.

We can wash dishes for the glory of God.

We can write a story about rabbits to the glory of God.

I incorporate biblical truths into my writing, such as courage. Gentleness. Faithfulness. Fighting for what’s right. Protecting those you love.

Now, I’m not saying you CAN’T write a blatantly Christian book. That may be what God is calling you to do! But you can write a book about… let’s see… superheroes, all for the glory of God. Or… rabbits! Or… washing dishes! XD

What first inspired or gave you the “spark” to write? What books and/or authors have influenced your writing?

C.S Lewis really inspired my writing, in the fantasy aspect. Narnia was my childhood, unlike Lord of The Rings (which I didn’t watch until I was a teenager), and it inspired me to write my OWN fantasy story. I never really read his books, but I watched Narnia frequently. I loved the Aslan’s Christ-like figure, and wanted to make something like that with MY writing.

Every writer has a message they want to impart to their readers. What is yours?

Well, each book I write has its own message, but the main message is this: The Kingdom is worth fighting for. The Kingdom, in our world, would obviously be Heaven, but in their world, it’s the Eternal Kingdom where the Eternal King resides. I want my readers to understand that you can’t rely on the world for advice or comfort. In my book, you’ll see some characters (especially villains) being convinced by the”bad guys” that what THEY want is worth betraying the Kingdom for. Like our sin, it tempts them to turn from the King and follow THEIR own desires.

What is your favorite, underappreciated novel/series?

Hmm… well, I don’t know if this is underappreciated or not.. probably isn’t, but since Netflix is going to make a redo of this series (and I’m 99.99% sure it’s not going to go well), The Chronicles of Narnia. It’s underappreciated in the fact that I feel that not very many people appreciate the Christian values in Narnia. If you appreciate them, bravo!

What book of the Bible is your favorite? What makes this particular book your favorite?

Either Proverbs or Revelation. Proverbs is chock full of GREAT wisdom, but Revelation is talking all about the future. It also inspires MY books frequently.

Who is your favorite Biblical character?

Jesus. This is probably a common answer, but he is my favorite Biblical character. Reason why? He died to save sinners! If he didn’t, I don’t know WHAT I would do!

If you could meet one historical figure, who would that be?

Oh, man, that’s HARD!

But if I could meet ONE… I almost said Phileas Fogg, but he was a fictional character. NOOOOOOO!

Well, I’d definitely want to meet George Washington, but I’d definitely want to meet someone from World War II. Why? Well, number one, it would help with my Caleb Runner novel that I want to write. Two, this was a VERY hard time in history that I want to learn more about.

Especially underappreciated people.

If you could tell your younger writing self one thing, what would it be?

Probably the message I told those starting on the writing path. Don’t give up.

How did you come to be a writer? Was this something that you always knew you were destined to be or did you arrive at this point via another pat?

This may surprise you, but being an author never entered my mind until a few years ago. I had written stories when I was younger, but this was not a dream of mine. I wanted to be an actress. I wanted to make movies. I had SO many ideas, including a movie called The Water Fairy and Greensleeves. I had even made SONGS for Greensleeves!

But God had different ideas.

When I was 12, I wanted to make a movie. Like, a serious movie. My older brother suggested a write a book FIRST, so it had a better chance of becoming a movie.

Me: Okay, sure.

Me a few years later: Maybe I’m not meant to be an actress.

I still have dreams, but I’m convinced that being an author is what God had in mind for me. Since I was 12, I have written four first drafts of my WIP series, and I have five HUGE fans. Four out of five are my siblings, but they are my biggest fans!

Number five is my friend, Sara, who was the first biggest fan (and will probably remain the biggest fan. Sorry, siblings! XD).

I never would’ve thought that I would be writing stories four years ago.

Yet, here I am, on the way to publication, a little more than four years ago since I first wanted to make a serious movie.

So, if you’re on your way to becoming a writer, don’t give up! I didn’t, and I’m on my way to publication! You can publish a book too, if you don’t give up. But don’t forget: whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

Thank you for those lovely answers, Anna! And I totally concur on The Chronicles of Narnia. Nothing that comes from Netflix is good; superficial at best and downright despicable at worst.

What about you, reader? What was your dream? Has it deviated or is it the same? Which book (yours or another author’s), would you like to see made into a movie?

Book Review: Dreams of the Heart

Sometimes the hardest battles take place in the heart.

Author: Penny Zeller

Series: Wyoming Sunrise, Book Two

Genre: Historical Romance

Suitable for: This is an adult book, but readers 15 and up can read it.


Sometimes the hardest battles take place in the heart.

Poverty and abuse at the hands of her drunkard father leaves Hannah Bane trapped and alone. Without hope, she prays for a miracle just on the off-chance God will hear her. Will the handsome new deputy, who seems to be watching her every move, be Hannah’s one chance to escape the only life she’s ever known?

For as long as he can remember, John Mark Eliason has wanted to be a deputy sheriff. When a job opens in the nearby town of Poplar Springs, he eagerly accepts, but finds his greatest mission won’t be tracking down criminals and bringing justice to the ruthless Wyoming town, but saving a beautiful young woman he barely knows.

Will an unexpected answer to a difficult situation show how love can endure—and even thrive—in an unconventional situation? Or will fear and uncertainty keep two hesitant hearts apart?

A handsome deputy sheriff.
A woman in search of freedom.
An unconventional situation.

In the sequel to Forgotten Memories, author Penny Zeller weaves a tender tale of faith, romance, and humor in a memorable story that reminds us God hears every prayer and has a plan for every life.


5 Stars


Sometimes the hardest battles take place in the heart.


In my review of <a href=" Memories, which is the first book in the series, I said it was my favorite book of Zeller’s to date.

Dreams of the Heart has now stolen that spot. Because this book is my absolute favorite of Zeller’s, and I honestly do not see any other story surpassing it. Dreams of the Heart is just so, so good and tender and beautiful and heartwarming.

The plot is sweet and gentle. The reader is quickly sucked into a Wild West town of lawlessness, where good struggles to shine through. The action is primarily heart-and-emotional-wise, although it does build up to one heck of an epic showdown. And the ending! Yes, I was teary. If it doesn’t draw tears to your eyes, then you either scanned it or just didn’t read it. Because it’s just the perfect ending to such a lovely story.

The wild, wayward town of Poplar Springs is well-written, as is Zeller’s amazing depictions of the nearby mountains, wooded foothills, and cattle-dotted prairie. And it was nice revisiting Willow Falls again.

John Mark is the best and that’s all I’m going to say. I love his protective nature and duty to enforcing justice.

Hannah is such a dear character and Zeller really presented her as a sympathetic character. I loved her character arc. She’s depicted perfectly on the cover–it captures the longing we witness within her, captures the dreams she hopes will someday, somehow be fulfilled, and just encapsulates the book’s overall feeling.

The myriad of secondary characters are great as well. Ambrose is such a little sweetie and he needs a hug. I want his story. It was nice seeing the other characters from Love’s New Beginnings and Forgotten Memories again. Reverend Solomon is as wise as ever, Lydie is still so kind and caring, Annie and Caleb are now three, soon to be four, times busier (you’ll understand when you read this book), and Charlotte is Charlotte. I think her story is next, and I really want it. Really, really want it.

Ina, Pritchard, Hank, Frank, Winslow, and the others were good as well. Pritchard had me laughing almost every time. And the antagonists were well-written too. Nasty sots. They deserved their comeuppance.

True to Zeller’s style, a deep amount of faith is woven in, and in such a beautiful manner as well. This is not a book for those who detest Scripture and characters who are unafraid to obey the Bible and share about their faith. It’s also not a book for those who only want watered-down faith. Zeller is bold and firm in the incorporation, and I can’t applaud that enough.

There is nothing objectionable. Emotional abuse is alluded to, as are a few instances of physical. Characters are shot, there are mentions of robberies, and arson is committed. Zeller stays true to her style and writes a book that is pleasing and God-honoring and which contains no cringe-worthy content.

True to Zeller’s style, the romance is wonderfully clean, which I so appreciate. I don’t have to have my eyes pop out at unexpected–and unnecessary–content, and it’s just lovely and pure and God-honoring. I’ve been seeing many historicals become too lustful, and I am grateful to report this is not one of those. This is an example of how a Godly marriage should be, even if it comes about in an unconventional way. No nasty sex scenes, no lewd comments, no lust. Just a wonderful romance I can read without cringing.

With a delightful blend of faith, God-honoring romance, a great plot, and humor, Zeller once again brings us a book that deserves to be on everyone’s TBR. You will laugh, cry, shout in anger at the villains, and urge the main characters toward triumph as you immerse yourself in this book.

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: this is my favorite of Zeller’s books.

Dreams of the Heart is a captivating, lovely story that will capture you within its pages and keep you reading–and wishing for more.

*I received an eARC of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

Isn’t that cover just gorgeous? It’s so soft and gentle and matches the story perfectly.

What about this book piques your interest? Is Christian historical romance one of your favorite genres, or are you more partial to others?

Review: The Tethered World

Title: The Tethered World (The Tethered World Chronicles, Book One)

Author: Heather L.L. FitzGerald

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Mountain Brook Ink (Please keep in mind Mountain Brook no longer publishes Christian spec fic.)

Available: Wherever books are sold



“Normal” means different things to different people.

For sixteen-year-old Sadie Larcen, family dynamics look a little different than most. Parents with oddball occupations? Normal. Five homeschooled siblings—one with autism? Normal.

Police knocking on the door and parents gone missing? Definitely not normal!

When Sadie uncovers the reasons behind her parents’ disappearance and the truth about her heritage, she despairs of ever feeling normal again. Especially when she learns that her mother’s interest in Bigfoot, Dwarves, and other lore extends beyond her popular blog. Sadie’s family has been entrusted with keeping the secrets of the Tethered World—home to creatures that once roamed the Garden of Eden.

Sadie and her siblings must venture into this land to rescue their parents. Stepping out of reality and into a world she never knew existed is a journey Sadie fears and resents. But she chooses to risk all to save her family.

She’s just not sure she will survive in the process.


5 Stars


Whowzers. Um, okay. What was this, my fifth time reading The Tethered World? And I’m still mourning the end of the book even though I know where the series goes.

This, my friends, is what Christian YA should be.

Urban Fantasy with a Biblical twist…kind of. It’s super unique and just fun and enjoyable. Clean, family-friendly, no amount of cringe material whatsoever, and just wholesome. Lots of adventure packed with good lessons, including the importance of family. Plus, I really liked the adoption thread, minor as it was. And the fact that we have a homeschool family as the main characters is a major YES for me.

Most homeschoolers can identify with Sadie’s exasperation at the “Oh, you’re a homeschooler?” part. I mean, come on, folks. Quit gawkin’ at us like we’re creatures from Mars. Or the Tethered World. We know how to “socialize” far better than your precious public school darlings, and I dare say we’re more intelligent over all. You know. Because our curriculum isn’t packed with nonsensical, anti-God, anti-intelligence, and anti-American garbage.

Anyway. Rant over. Needless to say, I empathized. Such stupid reactions we homeschoolers, and homeschool graduates, receive.

The Tethered World is beyond fascinating. The sheer amount of creativity FitzGerald packs into this story blew me away. Worldbuilding can become tricky when writing straight-up fantasy. But worldbuilding while tying it in with the Bible? And the real world? That’s a doozy. A doozy FitzGerald did marvelously at. You’re there in the passage ways, atop Odyssey’s back (and passing out with Sadie), and traveling to the different parts of the “World”.

Sadie’s a hoot. A sarcastic hoot. I was laughing for about half of this book due to the humor mixed in. I liked how organic her character arc was–the good, the bad, and the sassy.

Brady is great. Because I know what happens in future books, I have to say he’s my favorite. (Which ends up killing my heart in Book Three, but I’ll not go there.) An arrogant little twerp, but he learns so much during the adventure.

Sophie’s the stereotypical younger sister. I definitely empathized with Sadie about her.

Brock is Brock. Lovable because of who he is, not because he “interacts” a lot with the reader.

The myriad of supporting characters are fantastic as well. Except for the baddies. They’re not fantastic. Well, they’re fantastically nasty and evil and vile and putrid and just all-around miserable sots. It was easy to dislike them. Stinky creatures.

Faith/Spiritual Elements
Again, very organic. We learn with Sadie and we are reminded of the importance of relying on God and that He is in control no matter how dire the situation.

Many, many kudos to FitzGerlad for achieving something you rarely find in YA: a solid, nuclear family that actually loves each other. Liam and Amy’s devotion toward each other was so tender, even in the roughest moment, and I was delighted regarding Sadie and her siblings’ relationships and interactions. You don’t get that wholesomeness in most YA books, even if they’re touted as “Christian”.

Content Warnings
Characters are injured, kidnapped, smacked around, and bloodied. War and battle and their casualties are mentioned. Nasties are slain in self-defense. There’s no profanity to speak of (no pun intended) and the romance is pure and simple.

I reread this book after being exhausted by an absolutely colossal YA failure, and this is so refreshing. We need more YA authors like FitzGerald.

Like I said before, this is what YA should be. This is what Christian YA should be. Wholesome, clean, faith-filled, and just great for the entire family. The Tethered World falls into the same category as Chuck Black and Donita K. Paul: perfect for the entire crew.

If you want an excellent book that defies the typical YA boundaries, incorporates faith and family, and mixes in a generous heaping of adventure and hints of romance, The Tethered World is the book for you.

KEY Cover Reveal

Today is the cover reveal for the next installment in The Redwyn Chronicles. For those who’ve read IRON, you may remember a certain stepbrother named Denton. KEY is his story, and it’s been quite an adventure both to write and put him through.

I have bad news, though. This book ain’t gonna be a novella. Right now, it’s 45,000 in and is looking like it’ll be a 70-80,000 word novel.

I just love it when my characters rebel.

And because I’m such a wonderful person, I’m making you wait ’til the very end to see the actual cover. For now, enjoy the quote at the beginning of this post.


When Nerissa Wessen finds an unconscious man near her village, she knows one thing: trouble is on its way. What she doesn’t anticipate is the stranger’s charming smile—or the reason why he’s in her land in the first place.

Detective Denton Yindell wants only to put his past behind him and make good on a failed promise. When unforeseen circumstances place him on the doorstep of the very people who can help, Denton must convince the distrustful villagers to assist him.

But good intentions can bring about disastrous consequences, and when Denton’s past hunts him down, Nerissa’s family and village are threatened. Can two hearts—one wary and one wounded—learn to trust before evil eradicates those who oppose it?

KEY is a Christian Fantasy Fairytale Retelling


Releases: March 28, 2023

Series: The Redwyn Chronicles

Genre: Christian Fantasy

Age: New Adult 

Retelling: Rapunzel


-Addresses Human Trafficking

– There will be violence, but as usual, nothing gratuitous

– Two POVs.

– There is no profanity whatsoever; the author’s great-grandma could read this book without squirming.

KEY is a Christian story. It includes faith, prayers, Bible verses, references to faith, and discussions about faith. I hold true to the Biblical facts that the world was created in SIX days and that Jesus Christ is the ONLY way, truth, and life. If this offends you, KEY is not the book for you.

Participating Blogs

Thank you so much to these lovely bloggers for participating in KEY’s cover reveal. Be sure to stop by and give their posts a like.

Saraina Whitney

Lillian Keith

Kristina Hall

Vanessa Hall

Anna’s Idea Blog

Fable Rose

K.R. Mattson

And more on on their way!


It’s very blue, isn’t it?

KEY isn’t your typical Rapunzel retelling, but I can promise there are towers carved from cliffs, nefarious intentions, and plenty of action.

What is your favorite Rapunzel retelling?