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.

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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.

The World of Writing Music Artist Feature: Ennio Morricone

HOLD ON

Last month I spent a few weeks out with my sister, who is attending college, to get some much needed recharge time. In the afternoons after classes, she would work on her homework, and I would work on my current writing project. Though I have been listening to his music for years—I grew up listening to Yo-Yo Ma playing an arrangement of his music from The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, and I loved his Gabriel’s Oboe and On Earth As It Is In Heaven—I feel like those hours were when I truly discovered Ennio Morricone.

About the artist:  Though less popular than composers like John Williams and Hans Zimmer, Ennio Morricone has had a career spanning over seventy years, writing some of the most covered and parodied melodies of the twentieth century. He was born in Italy to a musician father who taught him and encouraged his musical pursuits (Ennio composed his first piece at six). He enrolled in conservatory at age 12, and promptly completed a four year program in six months. He continued to do very well in music school, excelling in trumpet, conducting, and composing. Even before he finished school he was taking composing jobs, and following the popularity of his music for radio programs, he was asked to do film. He was soon well-loved by audiences and filmmakers alike, and he has had long-time collaborations with a lengthy list of directors. Though his film scores have won countless awards, he has never been drawn to Hollywood, preferring to live in his native Italy with his family.

Why I recommend him:  Ennio Morricone is a diverse composer, writing everything from serious classical to jazz to sweeping epic scores. His themes are heartfelt and easy to discern, yet written intelligently so that you do not tire of them on repeated listenings.

What I use his music for:

-Mood setting

-Listening through entire album

Favorite Albums:

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Mission

Yo-Yo Ma Plays Ennio Morricone

Once Upon A Time In the West

Favorite Tracks:

On Earth As It Is In Heaven (The Mission)

Gabriel’s Oboe (The Mission)

Ecstasy of Gold (The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly)

Once Upon A Time In the West (Once Upon A Time In the West)

Moses and Marco Polo Suite: 21″ (Yo-Yo Ma Plays Ennio Morricone)

Ecstasy of Gold (The Essential Yo-Yo Ma) 

And some other too good not to mention:

The Mission (The Mission)

Ava Maria Guarani (The Mission)

River (The Mission)

Cinema Paradiso (Cinema Paradiso) 

Moses and Marco Polo Suite: Theme (Yo-Yo Ma Plays Ennio Morricone)

Moses and Marco Polo Suite: Journey (Yo-Yo Ma Plays Ennio Morricone)

Giuseppe Tornatore Suite: Looking For You (Yo-Yo Ma Plays Ennio Morricone)

Have you heard any of Ennio Morricone’s scores? If so, which are your favorites?

P.S. A good friend of mine just announced some very exciting book news on her blog. I highly recommend you take a look.

Spring TBR

Spring TBR (1)

I love Spring. I love how the drabness of winter melts away and the brown is replaced by green. I love how the air is fresh and sweet, and I love the way houses smell when you finally open windows. Spring cleaning gets into your bones, and you just want to make new starts of everything.

That’s why choosing my Spring TBR is so much fun.

I take that back. Choosing my TBR is always fun.

Also, my wonderful Mom took it upon herself to find some recently written (and not so junky looking) YA for me, so some of that is below. I just LOVE new books I have never heard of!

TBR:

The Shining Company by Rosemary Sutcliff: This is an old favorite, and I actually have not read the whole thing front to back in years. Time to get my heart torn out again (in the best sense).

Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus: This is the true story of a Japanese boy who was shipwrecked and saved by Yankee whalers in the 19th century. However, he was barred from Japan and had to go with them to America. Really looking forward to diving into this one.

Just Write by James Scott Bell: One of my favorite writing books ever, I am always inspired and encouraged when I finish it. (This will be my third read-through in nine months.)

Eragon by Christopher Paolini: A friend lent this to me and I have been shamefully long about finishing it. I am constantly impressed that this was written by a fifteen-year-old.

The Wicked and the Just by J. Anderson Coats: Historical fiction set in 13th century Wales. Oh yeah.

What Is Biblical Theology? by James Hamilton Jr. : I received this book when the author came to my church to speak. I got it free because I was one of two people who had read a 5/600 page book this year already (this was in January) and my pastor wanted it to go to someone who was actually going to read it. So I better get on it.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein: The story of a girl agent caught by the Nazis in WWII; she agrees to give them information instead of rather bad alternatives. I hear it is incredibly clever and sad. Hopefully my kind of book.

Now tell me: what’s on your TBR list this spring/summer? Any great books I need to read? I always have room for one more!

Six Ways to Encourage the Creative Process

six-ways-to-encourage-the-creative-process

Well, I’m back. It’s been a  while and I appreciate all of you, my wonderful readers for being patient. NaNoWriMo, work, and the holidays left me in sore need of some recovery.

I am happy to announce that I have had that recovery (at least I hope!) and I will start posting once or twice a week again.

Today’s post is a repost of an article I originally wrote for my friend Schuyler over at My Lady Bibliophile (which, if you have never read her blog, I insist you drop what you are doing and check it out!), on the creative process. Enjoy.

 


 

Keeping your creativity can be a tricky thing. After all, writing is a constant act of producing: pouring everything you’ve got onto that page. On top of that, it is easy to fall into writing ruts, to form clichés, and to burn yourself out. And yet we are expected to be fresh, original, and entertaining all the time. All of us experience those moments where we can’t seem to put anything worthwhile on the page. It feels like our well of inspiration has simply dried up. While sometimes that just happens (we all have our bad days), here are a few tips to make those times fewer and farther between.

 

Surround yourself with quality. When I read a good book, or even watch a well-made film, nine times out of ten my first urge is to write, whereas if I’ve read a cheap book I feel at best nothing, and at the worst. I am sapped of both inspiration and energy. What you read shows in your writing. And the quality of what you read will (eventually, if not immediately) affect the quality of what you write.

 

Challenge yourself. In his book The Art of War for Writers, James Scott Bell talks about challenging yourself in areas where you are weak, and he says this: “…be sure to push yourself beyond what is comfortable. Well beyond. Because you can always scale back later. But if you don’t allow yourself the fullness of exploration up front, you may miss the rich vein waiting for you just a few more steps ahead.” Great plots, characters, and books don’t come from writers staying inside their comfort zone.

 

Choose the unexpected. When you think of a plot, a character, or a circumstance, choose of the option that the readers would least expect.  What if the little old lady next door wasn’t really going to the bridge club every week…what if she was planning a robbery?

 

Enjoy other things deeply. Strangely, for a profession that is portrayed as (and often looks like) a person sitting alone at a desk, writing is far more about living life than most jobs. If you are out loving other things, you will rarely lack the passion it takes to write well and to write creatively.

 

Try new things. Some of my greatest creative breakthroughs have come when I’ve been brave and tried something new. At times it is attempting that story concept even when I’m not quite sure I can pull it off, or engaging in games I have never played, or trying food I have never eaten. More than once I’ve had a film I wasn’t very interested in watching totally open up a new story or plotline.

 

Learn (or utilize) a different art form. I play a few different instruments, and I enjoy drawing, horseback riding, and dancing, among other things. Something I’ve learned from years of participating in other arts (and trust me, riding dressage is an art!) is that it works like cross-training. When you learn and create art in other forms it stretches creative muscles that aren’t used as often in writing and stimulates your creative juices in general. And the good news is, you don’t even have to be all that good at any of these other art forms for it to work. The simple act of participating is enough to get your brain stimulated creatively.

 

What inspires your creative process?

Run From Doncrow: A Beautiful Books Linkup

medieval

Hello, I’m back.

This October definitely did not go the way I thought it was going to go.

I sprained my ankle playing football (can you guys even see me playing football?) which sidelined me for almost two weeks. And of course my two jobs are on-your-feet-walk-around-and-haul-stuff jobs, so I couldn’t work, couldn’t drive, nothing.

“Great!” you say. “You can write and read and do blog posts!” Eheheh. My laptop is currently an invalid too, which means it stayed downstairs and I stayed upstairs. I wrote in a notebook. Watched some movies. And read books. And took lots of naps. (Oh, and for all you period drama fans, I watched Jane Eyre and Sense and Sensibility and had a blast watching people sprain their ankles.)

But I didn’t come to talk about injuries, or ankles, or naps. Because there is A Certain Event that started on November 1st, and of course, since I love November, and I love novels, I love this Event.

You all know what I’m talking about: National Novel Writing Month. In the month of November thousands of writers attempt to “win” NaNoWriMo by writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.

And this will be my third year.

In celebration of this (and also because I have been frightfully scanty with my writing recently) I have joined in the Beautiful Books linkup  run by the extraordinary Sky and Cait.

 

  • What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?

A friend of mine was teaching a session at a conference a couple years ago. I had one of those speaker feedback forms and (I promise I wasn’t bored!) I filled it out as if I was listening to someone giving a talk on escaping a city. The fictional speaker did not know much, I recall, but the point was very clear—at all costs, if you get out, do not stop, do not look back, run. It was dystopian, and it dropped in my lap.

  • Describe what your novel is about!

Run From Doncrow

There are two things that are as important as life to nineteen year-old Leslie: his acting fame on Doncrow’s West End, which keeps him from the work gangs, and his sister, whom he hides to keep out of a slavery like his own. But when a long-lost friend shows up at his doorstep claiming to have found a city of freedom, he (and the lower class of the city of Doncrow with him) begin to dare to dream of escape.

Middle ground is fast slipping away—the dying underground resistance is reviving, the police force retaliating with cruel measures, and there are whispers of an upper-class man organizing escapes from closed Doncrow. However, for Leslie there is a new challenge: he is approached by the chief of the secret police, who wants to use him to spy on the resistance.

As Leslie’s life threatens to turn upside down, he must decide which he values more: security or freedom.

So look for a dystopian book full of dark, dirty streets, spies, loyalty and betrayal, knives under coats, roaring crowds and roses, tears in the rain, hot street pies, and bloody knuckles.

  • What is your book’s aesthetic? Use words or photos or whatever you like!

runfrom

  • Introduce us to each of your characters!

Leslie my MC is a slave, but he works as an actor. He is currently the toast of Doncrow’s West End, and extremely popular. He uses the gifts and flowers he gets from his adoring fans (the one thing he is allowed to keep for himself) to keep his sister fed and out of the work camps.

His sister, Althea, is about fifteen and in delicate health. However, she has a heart of fire for the underground resistance, and despite her brother’s protests, risks herself to aid its efforts.

Alexander Hampton is a wealthy man in Doncrow’s high society with close connections to the current ruling regime. However, he is secretly funneling funds to the underground resistance and organizing escapes from the city.

Judson is the only man to have ever reached LSI (the code name for the free city) and returned to Doncrow, making him the most wanted man in the city. In his death or survival hangs the fate of Doncrow.

Rosie is Judson’s fiancée, whom he promised to come back for. But now that her love holds such vital information, she must fight to keep him out of the clutches of the secret police.

Elias is the newly-appointed head of the underground resistance. Not much over twenty, he has been gun-toting for the resistance since he was seven, when his family was killed before his eyes. He is just and kind, but hard. And of course there are more, but that’ll have to be all for now!

Ernest is the chief of the secret police, bent on the arrest of Judson, Elias, and anyone in connection with the resistance or the black market. He is known for his heartless cruelty, his doggedness, and his habit of carrying peppermints for children, for whom he has a soft spot.

  • How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?)

I try to feel out each character, and without delving too deeply (half the attraction is some mystery) figure out their priorities, quirks, and what makes them tick. I usually have a Pinterest board or a collection of pictures that gives me the right impression, and a playlist, because musical association factors a lot in my inspiration. Then I usually find a “patron snack” for my story—a food I’m craving or that will support my story’s impression—and stock up, making sure there’s coffee, cocoa, etc. in the house. Then I pray, get very excited, and write.

  • What are you most looking forward to about this novel?

My characters! These people are what get me to sit down at the computer every day; they are what make this project worth the headache; they are the ones who inspire me with their courage and daring.That and the novelty of this project. Dickens’ London in a dystopian setting just gets me excited, and I can’t wait to explore the plot and worldbuilding that comes with it.

  • List 3 things about your novel’s setting.

There is an old rickety house where my protagonist lives, full of broken tiles, sagging shutters and holes in the stairs.

There is a huge mill in the center of the city where the worst criminals and members of the resistance are sent. It is surrounded by a tall fence with guards, and constantly belching smoke. Few people ever return after going in there, and rumors abound as to what goes on inside.

The city of Doncrow is like a dystopian version of London in Charles Dickens’ day. There are better parts of town where people live lavish lives, and then there are children starving in the street.

  • What’s your character’s goal and who (or what) stands in the way?

His goal is for his sister and himself to survive, and ultimately to be free. A lot stands in his way—he is another man’s property, his sister is at risk of discovery every day, and with the hope of reaching a free city comes the danger of being caught. The main person who stands in his way is Ernest, the chief of the secret police.

  • How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?

He grows braver; he learns to live, not just survive; and he learns to value others’ freedom over his own.

  • What are your book’s themes? How do you want readers to feel when the story is over?

Standing for right even when it is hard or there are terrible consequences. Freedom. Rising above fear. Sacrifice.

I want my readers to feel braver when they are finished. I want them to have learned from my characters’ good and bad and gray choices, and I want them to be strengthened in their resolve to stand against wrong. And I want them to feel like they want to read the sequel. 🙂

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? What are your favorite things about it?