Author Interview: Schuyler McConkey “War of Loyalties”

War of Loyalties Interview with author Schuyler McConkey

Today I have the great honor of hosting Schuyler McConkey, the author of War of Loyalties for an interview!

If you’ve read much on my blog you know how much I love War of Loyalties and how many memories I have made with her during its formative years. But if you are new here, here’s the cover and description to whet your appetite:

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Book Description: 
April, 1917. A ring of German spies threatens the coastal town of Folkestone, England. Newly-recruited agent Ben Dorroll must uncover which British citizens are traitors to their country. When his first attempt at espionage falls prey to a trap laid by German sympathizers, the security of the British Secret Service is threatened. Feeling lost in a strange country and aching for a steady place to call home, he wants to resign and go back to his American medical work. But when he learns that his family identity holds the key to capturing the spy ring, Ben has no choice but to unite with the mysterious Jaeryn Graham so that the truth can be discovered.
In the aftermath of the Irish Rebellion, Jaeryn Graham’s British colleagues look warily on his Irish background. Always up for a challenge, he thinks his new mission in the Secret Service should be an opportunity to prove his prowess. But after encountering death and alienating two agents, he finds the road to victory isn’t as easy as he thought. Unless he can win the loyalties of his newest assistant, Ben Dorroll, his secret ambitions and his perfect success record will be destroyed.
 

 

And now, for the interview! Don’t forget to check out the giveaway below; it ends tonight! 

Greetings, Schuyler! I am so excited to finally host you here on The Herosinger!

Aww, this is the best moment ever!! Thank you so much for hosting me, Emily!

First question. You ready?

I’m ready!

You and I have had many talks about the impact of books on culture and readers. Can you share a little of your personal vision and why you decided to become an author?

Wow, that’s such a good question. To be honest, I feel like a lot of my vision as a writer is still forming. At first my vision was simply to write a good story and fill what I felt like was a gap in the market—I thought it seemed unfair that big, twisty books should be regulated to the 19th century, and I wanted to imitate my favorite authors from that time period.

I think I decided to become an author because I gut-level loved this story so much, and the characters inside it. I wanted to see them come to print, and it was worth the blood, sweat, and tears to make it happen. It really was a heart-project.

And now it’s starting to morph into other books that have captured my heart as well.

That’s fascinating. I think part of being an author is changing and constantly being shaped by the books we read. Here’s a question now about your own book: Why is Ben your protagonist? What does he bring to the book that makes him the right one to tell the story through?

I love this question, because I love him!

He grew out of a childhood love that I had for one of my favorite characters–someone who was hardworking, invested in family, and didn’t have a lot but made the most of it. I think actually he’s the perfect protagonist because of how normal he is. His whole aim in life has been to make ends meet, and the only dreams he’s ever had have already come true. But then he’s thrust into this world he doesn’t like, full of quirky, unique people. His normalcy nicely highlights their uniqueness. He’s plunged into this whole new world of espionage, one that they’re used to, and he brings fresh questions to why they do the things they do, and what makes it right.

But I think he shines in his own right, too. He’s forced outside his comfort zone, to care about things he’s never cared about before, and to realize that his perspective has been a limited one up to this point. He embodies integrity and home, which counteracts the shifting identities and morals of men more experienced than him.

Along similar lines, what is Ben’s greatest flaw and greatest strength? And would he answer differently?

His greatest flaw is that his perspective is limited and somewhat legalistic—he easily loves people he understands and agrees with, but he doesn’t like to let people into his life who are different than him.
But I think his greatest strength is when he loves someone, his sole desire is to take care of the people he loves in the very best way possible. His love is steadfast and self-effacing and ready to sacrifice.

Haha! I don’t think he’d like to answer for himself at all, but if I he did, I think he’d say is greatest flaw is to cherish resentment and his greatest strength is the ability to put in a hard day’s work.

What is your favorite thing about each of your main characters?

I love this question.

Jaeryn: He’s like a shooting star, full of passion and charisma and Ireland.

Terry: At least at the beginning of the book, he’s an absolute teddy bear of kindness and fun.

Charlotte: She’s what I like to think of as a warrior wife—someone who, while never called to fight physical battles, will emotionally throw on her armor and watch over the people she loves.

And just to throw in Ben again: I love that he’s quiet, with a great capacity to love and be loved.

Lovely descriptions of all of them! Back to the theme of favorites, what is your favorite memory from writing or revising War of Loyalties?

Oh, definitely that second draft year we spent together. It was so fun to hear speculations and cheer and cry and get all of the Council’s lovely feedback on the story. That really made the book what it is today, because it departed significantly from the first draft. Having that one chapter per week immersive experience was something I’ll never forget.

It was definitely an experience I and the Council will never forget. We had so much time to speculate, and I think our feedback was that much better because of all the time we spent thinking about it.

Next one. Describe War of Loyalties to us in five separate words.

Spy. Home. Friendship. Bittersweet. Epic.

Ooh, those are good ones! I can definitely vouch for their accuracy, too! *wipes away tears*
Here’s a fun one:
What’s the craziest thing you’ve done in the name of writing or researching for this book?

Oh, wow, that’s a great question! Perhaps researching things like sucking chest wounds and drug overdoses (that last came up with nasty results; I don’t recommend researching it).

Eww. The uglier side of the research business for sure! On the subject of difficult things, you seem to have a lot of hard ethics in your themes (espionage, deliberate killing in war time, and so on). What made you decide to tackle these themes, and how does this play a role in your goals as an author?

Wow, that’s such a good question. I actually started out War of Loyalties as an ambitious sixteen-year-old, thinking I was going to write a novel that talked about what’s right and wrong for espionage. Some time later, I realized I was in over my head. It’s such a big topic, and I knew nothing about it.

I think one of the best things I did, at the suggestion of a friend, was to read a spy manual from WW2. While War of Loyalties was already in a later draft at that point, the spy manual showed me that real men are trained to do these things, and this is what they have to do.

I think what brought in one of the more dramatic scenes towards the first half of the book was the knowledge you can’t write a big book that has only quiet events. You have to put in the flashier side of spying to maintain the pace of the story. But I tried to handle it with compassion, while not glossing over the fact that it existed and is a normal part of espionage.

I will say, espionage is a tough subject to tackle or incorporate, and I think you’ve done quite a good job at striking the balance.

Thank you so much! That’s so reassuring to hear!

What was the most helpful piece of writing advice you received during the process?

My most recent piece of helpful advice was from my editor, who marked places I was telling instead of showing. Sometimes I had no idea it was telling, and when I took a good, hard look at it and rewrote the scenes, they came alive in a vivid, active way that I love way more than before he marked them. I had to kill a few darling lines, but they were worth it.

That’s the beauty of editing, isn’t it? And it’s totally worth the price of a few lines.

What do you hope your readers come away with after reading War of Loyalties?

I hope they have more book friends to love in the characters. I hope it inspires them to see how beautiful stories and characters can be. And I hope it touches their hearts with laughter and tears and they walk away enriched because of it. As a Christian artist, I want to create beautiful things that show a kaleidoscope of emotion, so if the reader can experience that emotion with me, I am blessed!

Beautiful. If your first readers are any indication, I think you have accomplished that.

Can you give us a little teaser for the future? What can we look forward to from you in the coming months/years?

I’d love to! My next project is War of Honor. I want to delve into good men in espionage that are both German and British and pit them against each other for an epic conflict.

I’m also taking a look at modern fiction, outlining a novel set in London which explores the Syrian refugee crisis.

Eeep! So much to look forward to!! So we come to our last question of the day, and it’s a little bit of an odd one: Which three characters would you want at your side if you were stranded on an island, and why?

Starlin King, Ann Meikle, and Fenton?

No. Not them.

How about Ben and Jaeryn and Pearlie (because Pearlie’s a good cook).

Excellent choices! Just enough sense and ingenuity to keep you alive (and hopefully get you off the island!).

That’s right!

It has been simply wonderful talking to you today.

Thanks, girl!

Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us all, and I look forward to seeing the reception this book will get—and, of course, your future books!

Thank you so much for hosting me on your blog, Emily! It’s amazing to be at this moment! Thanks so much for supporting the book all these years.

 

Giveaway

First Prize Winner:

-Paperback copy of War of Loyalties

-“Jaeryn’s Vow” 8×10 poster

-Custom War of Loyalties mug

Second Prize Winner:

-Ebook of War of Loyalties

-Real vintage Folkestone postcard (this is a postcard that has actually been posted in 1917.)

Third Prize Winner: (open to international winners)

-Ebook of War of Loyalties

 

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/9759b4114/

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November Roundup/I Almost Lost NaNoWriMo/In Other Words, I’m Back

 

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Greetings from the cold North! December has come, and with NaNoWriMo in my rearview mirror, I am happily taking a break and focusing on Christmas preparations and getting back into the swing of this blog.

But back to November.

In My Life:

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I visited San Antonio, ate authentic Texas barbecue, had a birthday (I’m loving 24), visited with friends and family near and far, ate authentic Mexican shrimp quesadillas, went on a road trip, drank flat whites, wrote in coffee shops with friends, played my bodhran, took long walks, wrote a book set in Wales with faery people, read a lot of Psalms and Hebrews, savored the rain (as opposed to the snow), played with horses, spent relaxing evenings with siblings, loved on little ones, watched new movies, schemed up new stories, sang my heart out, saw the longed-for publication of a book I love.

Books:

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Read: Cinder by Marissa Meyer. It wasn’t too bad, but epidemics/pandemics are really not my thing. So reread? Probably not. I did love the Chinese stuff though, especially the buns across the street. Best food in the world.

Book haul:

Kit Kennedy: Country Boy: by S.R. Crockett

The Color Project: by Sierra Abrams

War of Loyalties: by Schuyler McConkey

 

Writing:

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I had an absolute blast with all of you picking my NaNoWriMo project. Huge thanks to all of you who commented and voted. The Train to Belkuah won the poll, and I am proud to say I finished it, and I’m not unhappy with it, though it is still a rough first draft.

One of my sisters, whose literary taste I have the utmost respect for, read the rough draft all in one night and told me this:

It’s so misty and mysterious and glamourous and folkish. The eerie whistles and the dusty flour and the snatches of Shakespeare dropped everywhere….” 

Strong impressions are the aim of my first drafts, so #win.

This was my aesthetic and synopsis:

Train to Belkuah

The Train to Belkuah//spec-fic//

First, fresh baked bread. Then let’s turn the world upside down.

When Zebedee Delray is abducted from his train car on the way to Cambridge, he thinks it is a terrible mistake, no more. Laid up with a broken arm, he is forced to stay in Wales at the home of his rescuer, an Indian baker who holds an odd sway over four young men who hang around the bakery too much to be a coincidence.

When he realizes that his cloudy memories of his abduction don’t match anything in this world, things get strange. But they swiftly turn dangerous when he realizes he is being followed, and that the bakery is a disguise for something much bigger….

What I’ve Been Listening To:

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The Mission: May I recommend the tracks: The River, On Earth As it is in Heaven, Gabriel’s Oboe, Vita Nostra, and Miserere.

Jurassic Park: I have zero clue why. I’m not a huge John Williams fan. I started craving it in the last days of NaNoWriMo when my brain was dead from #words.

For the Cause by Keith and Kristyn Getty. The child’s choir version. ❤

How I Almost Lost NaNo:

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This NaNoWriMo should have been the easiest one I have done. I had the entire story planned out. Chapter titles, descriptions of plot, everything. And if you know my style, that’s not usually how I work.

So I really I don’t know why I couldn’t get it written. Real life needed me. I had days where it was just work after rehearsal after life situation. And someone had an emergency over the holidays (not me) so that turned us all upside down.

In the end, I worked very hard for the last week of November, and made it. I have never lost, and the idea of losing on my easiest project yet made me more determined. I think I pulled about 34,000 in the last five days.

Also, I am super thankful for the people who helped me out. I have a good friend who covered for me one evening at a place where we both volunteer and then brought me coffee so I could have something while I wrote. Thanks, Lu. #friendgoals

Anticipating (Eee!)

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December short story: Where writing is concerned I am making no goals for December. However, I have a Christmas short story I’ve been thinking about, and for recreation I may pull it out and play with it a little. It’s half portal fantasy, half romance, set in modern New York with Christmas lights, Handel’s Messiah, lattes, and Asian food.

War of Loyalties interview: I am going to be interviewing the author of War of Loyalties, Schuyler McConkey, right here on Friday morning. This is an interview you won’t want to miss. Plus, there will be a sweet giveaway!

Changes and such coming your way: I said a long time ago that was going to start rebranding The Herosinger, and is still going to happen. I am also working on some exciting things for all of you, including (hopefully) some publishing news on Crowning Heaven!

 

How was your November? Did anyone participate in NaNoWriMo? I’d love to hear how it went! 

In Which You, Reader, Will Pick What I Write

In Which You, Reader, Will Pick What I Write

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is nearly upon us, and here’s the deal. I have (almost) finished the two books that are important to keep on deadlines, and I am a free girl. Usually I have a strong idea about which story I am going to write for NaNoWriMo, but with my mind having been on Kill the Dawn and Crowning Heaven for so long, it simply hasn’t had the time to get expectations.

So I need your help: I need you to choose me my NaNoWriMo novel. I’ve made it nice and easy. Six stories to pick from. *wink*

Please go vote and then comment below with what you chose!

Have you ever done NaNoWriMo? If you are participating, what is your project?

 

Claim the Sky

Claim the Sky//spec-fic//

Then claim the sky if you can, for you cannot quench the spark of freedom from among us.

Fourteen-year-old Emilia Baron has been looking forward to one thing her entire life: a position in the elite circle of Patrons and Patronesses, who sponsor racing teams. The riders and their horses are objects of obsession, discussed incessantly in the rich circles, and she loves the sport with a passion.

But when whispers of assassinations and rebellion against the upper class arise, the riders—low-born with high-class access—fall under suspicion as spies. Her happy, comfortable world is upended as riders and patrons alike choose sides, friends turn against friends, and one of her favorite riders is discovered in the act of espionage. With her upbringing telling her one thing and her love for the sport and its people another, Emilia must choose where she truly stands.

 

Train to Belkuah

The Train to Belkuah//spec-fic//

First, fresh baked bread. Then let’s turn the world upside down.

When Zebedee Delray is abducted from his train car on the way to Cambridge, he thinks it is a terrible mistake, no more. Laid up with a broken arm, he is forced to stay in Wales at the home of his rescuer, an Indian baker who holds an odd sway over four young men who hang around the bakery too much to be a coincidence.

When he realizes that his cloudy memories of his abduction don’t match anything in this world, things get strange. But they swiftly turn dangerous when he realizes he is being followed, and that the bakery is a disguise for something much bigger….

 

Mars is a Fickle Child

Mars is A Fickle Child//sci-fi//

When I was a little girl, I would go out on summer nights and sit on the swing and watch the planets war in the sky. I never thought I would become a part of that war.

At seven years old, Roxie has lost her parents to the TI epidemic that swept through her town. When she goes to the nearest trading post looking for a job or a chance at a fortune, she is saved from thugs by an out-of-towner named Telerin Rafi. Lonely for reasons he will not discuss, he offers Roxie a cleaning job aboard his sky-ship, and she agrees, only to discover that she is remarkably good at navigation.

Three years later, Telerin is arrested, accused of smuggling war criminals. Now Roxie must find out how well she really knows him, and—if he is innocent—how she will ever get them out of the bordered territories alive.

 

everyman

Everyman//spec-fic//

I never asked to be a leader, to be a facade, to risk poison in my cup every evening. Did you choose me because you want to kill me?”

The old man shook his head. “No. We chose you because you cannot be killed.”

The common people agree to accept a new leader so long as they are allowed to put one man into the running along with the government’s choices. Their plan is to subvert the current faction’s ploy for power. And they are just as determined that their man will win as the government is determined to kill him.

Jamie Thackerry does not want anything to do with power or politics, but with twenty years of experience dodging death, he may be the people’s only hope.

 

The Cleft in Fate

The Cleft in Fate//historical fiction//

Sometimes life isn’t taking what comes to you, my sister, but shoving yourself at it, and breaking through.”

Breaking through to what?” asked Louisa-Margaretta.

Anything you want, I suppose,” replied Christianna.

After their wastrel but well-meaning brother is disinherited, three sisters must seek their own fortunes by marrying well before their father dies and they lose their last chance at good society. The only problem? One is painfully shy, one over-ambitious, and the last, already eyed by an heir to thousands, is in love with a man of half her consequence.

 

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The Summer of Green Coats and Black Lies//historical fiction//

We are not boys anymore, brother. All the former wrongs should have nothing to do with how we treat each other. We cannot afford bitterness now, can we?”

Thomas Warwick has lived his entire life under the shadow of his brilliant brother, William, heir to their war-hero father’s grand English estate, but remains content with his otherwise happy world.

Enter a grand tiff between William and their father and a great dark secret that directly involves Thomas. With his brother sent away indefinitely under the threat of disinheritance, his world dangerously close to falling apart, and his mother offering him the bulk of the massive family estate immediately, Thomas is approached by his brother, who begs him to help heal the rift with their father before it is too late.

The world at his feet, Thomas must decide if he will help his brother or take what may be his only chance at redeeming his tarnished reputation.

Note: If this story line sounds familiar to any of you, it is. Kudos.

 

 

War of Loyalties Cover Reveal

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Surprise! Random post!
Alright, it’s not random. It is something wonderful and very near and dear to my heart.
Back in 2013,  my dear friend Schuyler asked if I and maybe a couple of my siblings would be willing to beta read her book War of Loyalties for her. We had both been writing for some time, we had talked some about our projects (I had sent her a thing or two of mine), and of course I said yes. What followed in that year was nothing short of epic.
This was not just reading a book. It was falling in love with real, real characters. It was mornings speculating with my siblings about who the enemy spies were, what was going on with Jaeryn Graham and his secrets, and whatever was going to happen on this mysterious chapter 24. (No promises the current chapter 24 will have anything though, sorry.) We lived and breathed Folkestone. We had secret Pinterest boards to discuss little details, we drank tea, and ate food they would have eaten. And a couple of my Solid and Professional Short Stories which are Very Serious may have had origins in protest against plot twists.
I wrote a poem too. It’ll either never see the light of day or it will be my banner against all comers when this book is published. Not sure yet.
Sorry for the ramble.
Here is the cover:
McConkey-WarOfLoyalties-EB-XL
Release Date: November 30th, 2017
Book Description
April, 1917. A ring of German spies threatens the coastal town of Folkestone, England. Newly-recruited agent Ben Dorroll must uncover which British citizens are traitors to their country. When his first attempt at espionage falls prey to a trap laid by German sympathizers, the security of the British Secret Service is threatened. Feeling lost in a strange country and aching for a steady place to call home, he wants to resign and go back to his American medical work. But when he learns that his family identity holds the key to capturing the spy ring, Ben has no choice but to unite with the mysterious Jaeryn Graham so that the truth can be discovered.
In the aftermath of the Irish Rebellion, Jaeryn Graham’s British colleagues look warily on his Irish background. Always up for a challenge, he thinks his a new mission in the Secret Service should be an opportunity to prove his prowess. But after an encounter with death and alienating two agents, he finds the road to victory isn’t as easy as he thought. Unless he can win the loyalties of his newest assistant, Ben Dorroll, his secret ambitions and his perfect success record will be destroyed.
Join the Fun! 
Check out more about War of Loyalties at My Lady Bibliophile

 

Crowning Heaven Snippets

Crowning Heaven Snippets

Perhaps you have heard from my social media (or this post) that my book Crowning Heaven went to my editor last month?

Well it did.

And to celebrate, I am sharing with you some of my favorite (non-spoiler) snippets!

Comment below with which one is your favorite and tell me what you are currently reading or writing!

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via pinterest

Heaven leaned her arms on the thick upper log of the fence and gazed out down the hill at the Plain Man’s orchard and the golden wheat fields beyond, all drenched in warm sunlight. Everything was so peaceful—even the grief she had gone through here could not mar it in her mind. She would miss this place, miss it with every ounce of her aching soul.

“You aren’t resting,” said the Plain Woman’s voice, soft and low behind her.

——

“Have you been many places?”

“Many. Far islands, distant countries, seen things most men hear of only in books. Should your majesty ever find herself in possession of the time, I should love to be her guide. I know the world as few do.”

“What is your favorite place?”

“Rodhacar,” he answered without hesitation. “There is no place I love more than these rugged mountains and crisp springs, and rivers running wild like ten thousand horses.”

—–

A gasp sounded behind her and she saw Tydeus Cerastes standing in the doorway, his face a white mask of shock.

She whirled around despite herself, her heart leaping to her throat. “What are you doing here?”

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via pinterest

“Look, Heaven, the sun is rising,” said Tiarni, pointing towards the east over the high hills. The sky had been growing lighter the whole ride through, but now the ruddy sun had broken over the tousled barrier of hills and was ascending.

—–

She seized Thrasi’s hand and broke into a run, feeling the rush of excitement like the driving rain. The hood flew back, and her hair was blessedly wet as the rain ran down her face. She was soaked in an instant, and she had never felt better in her life.

They ducked under cover on the other side and went straight around the corner into the second courtyard.

She was laughing—laughing for the first time in what seemed like forever, and she couldn’t stop.

—–

“There are still concerns about more attempts, and on you, my lady,” said Breac. “Tydeus left with threats pouring from him like the river Tharis.”

—–

He glanced at Heaven briefly, his nostrils flared in his handsome face and his bright eyes blazing. Then he stopped short and looked again.

He took a couple of slow steps toward her, a smile growing on his face. In the center of his attention, Heaven felt herself growing cold.

“So, this is the jewel of the Cassidaes…Neoma’s girl child.”

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via pinterest

Heaven sighed softly, breath-like. The moon and star light illuminated her face and the gentle curve of her upraised chin, the shadow of the latter plunging her throat into a high collar of blackness. “The stars are much closer here, I think,” she whispered. “You can almost reach out and catch at their aliveness.”

—–

The world does not believe in kindness. When people grow up, they begin to believe the lie that everything must be first for their own good and second for their fellow man. Do not believe it for a moment. Perhaps that is where the rich come from, or the powerful, but never the happiest or the most beautiful of people. Where the sacrifice of kindness is, there beauty lies.

—–

“For Castellan!” The shout rang out and hung for the space of five heartbeats.

And then the night air, fresh beneath the light of the silver moon and stars, was filled with the sound of fifty thousand voices raised in song.

—–

“Do you miss it much?” he asked gently. “Tennessee?”

A pang of homesickness struck her and she had a sudden yearning for cider and doughnuts, and the leaves turning, and baseball. Tennessee had been on the edge of fall when she left.

Fall Reading List

Fall Reading List

There is a certain feeling when Autumn comes: a freshening of the air, a feeling of vigor and new beginnings. It is, in my opinion, the best time to start a new adventure.

That’s what makes compiling my Fall TBR list so fun.

The list:

Swallows and Amazons: My siblings enjoyed this book growing up and I am ashamed that I never read it. It is probably best read in the summer, but I am not going to wait to remedy this.

Hamlet: For those of you who don’t know, I am writing a Hamlet retelling this fall. And one should not write a Hamlet retelling without a proper going over of the play again.

Escape Via Berlin: This is the autobiography of a Basque president who was forced to flee for his life in 1937. Wanted by both the Spanish government and the Nazis, he ended up hiding in Berlin for a while to throw trackers off his scent.

The Caged Lion: I have some of the best memories in the world from reading this book, and honestly, I am ready to experience it all again.

Just Do Something: I have heard many good things about this book; I can’t wait to check it out and be challenged and encouraged.

The Color Project: I have heard that this book is adorable, sweet and generally awesome. And when you know the author—reading it becomes a must!

Unsanctioned Eyes: I have been fascinated with this book since I heard about it, and the more Brianna posts aesthetics, the more I know I need to read it.

A Tale of Two Cities: I got halfway through this and lost the book. I just found it, so….

Cinder: I may be very behind the times, but I’ve heard many good things about Marissa Meyer and this series, so it’s time to give it a look.

War of Loyalties: If you guys have not heard, the fantastic Schuyler McConkey is publishing her debut novel this fall. I am 99% sure I’m getting an ARC, so there’s that. I absolutely cannot wait to get my hands on it.

Have you read any of these books? What books are on your current reading list?

Exciting News + Some Changes

Exciting News + Some Changes to The Herosinger

Hi all! I have some very exciting news to share.

*deep breath*

Wait for it…

Crowning Heaven has gone to my editor!

This has been a wonderful, scary, exciting step. There were a lot of unknowns just a couple weeks ago, and then God showed me that he had it sorted the whole time. But it also meant that I had to drop most things and spend two weeks finishing up the edit.

Hopefully this will be just the first of many exciting announcements about this book; I am planning on a 2018 release.

My second announcement is that the Herosinger blog will be going through a rebrand and a couple other changes, so the place may look a little strange over the next month. But I’m still planning on keeping it up and running during this time. I am hoping the changes will make everything better and easier to navigate.

So tell me: what are your current projects and victories?

How To Keep Writing When You Are Exhausted

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I love goals. I love the sense of accomplishment I get when I complete them. I love working hard. I love pushing through trials and coming out the other side victorious.

But here’s the thing: when I am exhausted, my creativity quits. I can’t write, I can’t talk on social media, seriously—I can’t talk face to face with someone when I’m that tired, let alone across a computer. Not what you really need when you want to be connecting with people, making friends, building a tribe, right?

There was a period last month where I was working a lot and I struggled with how to get quality work done and not totally wipe myself out. I still can’t say I’ve completely found the balance, but here are some of the things I found worked for me:

-Set itty bitty goals and then reward yourself with little things (short naps or beverage of choice).

-Take power naps.

-Know when it is wise to push through but also know when to optimize your rest.

-Count the minutes. Be very deliberate about your time and work when you have energy. Rest when you don’t.

-Learn the difference between exhaustion and just feeling lazy.

-And lastly, don’t overthink it. Go with your gut. A little time wasted in resting too much or working too hard won’t kill you.

So tell me, what have you found that helps you balance work and rest?

Beautiful People: The Writing Process

Beautiful People-The Writing Process

  • How do you decide which project to work on?

It varies. Often someone will tell me they think I should work on this and such project, and other times inspiration is so strong I can’t help but work on a certain book. But things such as seasons, schedules, and stages of life factor in. 

  • How long does it usually take you to finish a project?

It all depends on the project. My fastest full-length novel was two weeks. Some stories I come back to annually, adding a bit more each time. On average, I would say 2-3 months.

  • Do you have any routines to put you in the writing mood?

Unless I’m super exhausted, the writing mood is my default. However, for certain projects, I like to find a certain place to set up shop with a drink and my story playlist near to hand. With that, I can conquer most things.

  • What time of day do you write best?

Early morning! Alas, I almost never get to write then. But honestly, I can make any time of day work well, as long as I’m not in danger of falling asleep!

  • Are there any authors you think you have a similar style to?

Eloise Jarvis McGraw and Rosemary Sutcliff. I am sure I’m missing someone, I just can’t think of who right now.

  • Why did you start writing, and why do you keep writing?

I have been telling stories since before I could read, so when I hit about thirteen or fourteen, it was a natural progression. I keep writing because I love it, and I am not sure that I could stop. Also, #purpose. 

  • What’s the hardest thing you’ve written?

I wrote a couple character deaths that I really didn’t want to write. I refuse to take death lightly, even in fiction. That’s probably the hardest thing.

  • Is there a project you want to tackle someday but you don’t feel ready yet?

I have a tome stewing in my head set during the American Revolution with a plot and characters that resemble a Dickens novel. I don’t think I’m ready for that yet.

  • What writing goals did you make for 2017 and how are they going?

-Edit and send Crowning Heaven to an editor

-Write Rising Thunder (American Revolution hist. fic.)

-Finish Run From Doncrow (dystopian)

-Write Kill the Dawn (Nordic fantasy retelling of Hamlet)

I have finished Rising Thunder, Run From Doncrow is over halfway, and there’s lots of time for Kill the Dawn. Crowning Heaven is partway through edits, and I am hoping to send it to an editor in the fall!

  • Describe your writing process in 3 words or a gif!

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    Credit to Cait @ Paper Fury for this tag!

 

Rediscovering the Joy of Writing

Rediscovering the Joy of Writing

I’m going to start with a little story.

I was having a vacation at long last after a killer fall and winter, and I was SO EXCITED. I was staying with my sister who was attending college in another state, she shared a house with some nice girls, and I was going to have all the time in the world. Well, a couple weeks. In February, just the month before, I had written a 50,000 word novel for my sister in two weeks flat. I had worked it in around running the household while the adults of my family were out of town, and I had just aced it. There was no reason, I thought, that I could not do the same thing out at my sister’s house, with no one to take care of but myself, nowhere to go, and limitless coffee.

I got there, and I wrote, but writing was hard. It felt indifferent. I was a bit taken aback. I did not know where this sudden change had come from. I started a couple stories out there, and was even excited about them, but I could tell deep down that this change was not just writer’s block, or laziness. I did not love it. It reached the point where I wasn’t sure if I was supposed be an author. To me, the idea of having your love for your writing dry up was an unimaginable concept. And yet it happened.

I took time off (except for a crazy five days where I worked to finish Camp NaNoWriMo) and did some serious thinking and praying about what this meant and why it happened.

The answer is, it was a lot of things, and I still have not figured it all out. Part of it was physical and mental exhaustion, cramming my days so full that I could not think; part of it was God making me check how willing I was to leave writing in his hands not mine. Let me urge you: hold onto your precious writing with loose hands. It doesn’t mean not working for it, or quitting at the first resistance, but do not cling to it so hard that it is your idol. If you feel resistant at the idea of God taking it away, then maybe you love it too much.

But when the dust settled and I had given it a lot of thought and prayer, I saw no reason why I shouldn’t continue to pursue writing, and if the Lord decides to take it out of my hands, so be it.

So I set out to rediscover the joy of writing.

I went back to square one. I looked at my favorite writing quotes, haunted my writing boards on Pinterest, and made time to read interesting articles. My goal was to write something every day—anything, and any length. No pressure, just pure enjoyment. I thought about why I wrote in the first place, and played around with my mission statement. I took time to rest, to recharge creatively with movies, books, watercolors, music, you name it.

It felt so, so good. And it made a big difference. I have been able to interact on social media far more than I have in months, I have been wiser about my rest and work choices, and my writing is coming along steadily.

So take some time to remember why you do what you do. Take some time to rest and recharge your creativity. And remember that writing is not about the numbers or what will impress, but about serving God and blessing others.