Glow Stick Gospel Project

Hello everyone! I’m still planning more Blades of Acktar posts, but I’ve been busy with a few other projects this week. My brother and I have a tradition of handing out Bible tracts before 4th of July fireworks each year. This year we discussed getting a little more creative with our firework evangelism and this is what we came up with!

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Here’s the website to go along with the postcard track shown above.

If you like the idea, feel free to print copies of the tract for your own use. (And let me know if you find any typos!)

Brandi: A Light in the Darkness

Thirteen year old Brandiline Faythe bubbles a zest for life, and–according to her older sister–is the only person capable of making drooling and snoring adorable. She’s a rare type of person in both fiction and real real life–irrepressible, compassionate, and seemingly fearless even when she’s afraid.

Light in the Dark

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Series Review: The Blades of Acktar

Last weekend I plunged into the world of Acktar and finally came up for air three books later. I’m not sure why I took so long to heed my friends’ raving reviews of this series! Since I read all three book in one week, I thought I’d do a series review instead of doing each book separately.

Acktar Series

Leith Torren knows much of the world’s darkness and little of the light. Since childhood, he’s been trained as an assassin. He’s good at his job. When a mission goes wrong because of a young teammate’s indiscretion, Leith’s life almost ends. Wounded and trapped in a blizzard, he stumbles upon Stetterly Manor and finds inexplicable compassion at the hands of girls he helped orphan. It’s his first taste of Christ’s love.

I loved so many things about the first three books in this series. In my reader’s heart, characters are king, so my first loves in these books are Leith, Brandi, Renna, Shad, and Jamie. Tricia does a great job of bringing them to life. Each character has a distinctive personality, struggles different from any of the others, and strengths that propel them to heroism. In fact, certain things about each character intrigued me enough that I’m planning a series of blog posts highlighting different members of the Blades of Acktar cast.

One word of caution. When you sit down to start this series (when, not if), choose a night you can start reading early. Otherwise you’ll stay up too late and be sleep deprived the following day!

Author Interview: Samara’s Peril

Samara's Peril Tour BannerWhen I received the invitation to be part of the Samara’s Peril blog tour, I submitted my author interview questions and waited eagerly to receive Jaye’s replies. I really wanted to know which characters she’d pick to play which roles in her wedding!

Jaye L Knight

What did writing Samara’s Peril teach you about life?

Actually, I think it was more the opposite—that life taught me how to write Samara’s Peril. The last several years of my life have had quite a few ups and downs. There’s been a lot of emotions to deal with. But the one thing I’ve learned through all of that is to really cling to faith, no matter how painful it is. So much of Ilyon Chronicles was born out of these emotions and struggles, especially with my main character, Jace. He really sinks into despair in this book, yet it’s when he reaches his lowest that he finally finds the hope he’s always looked for. That is often true in life.

Clinging to faith and trusting God no matter what is something I’ve been learning lately too. It’s encouraging to see that struggle (and the benefits of it) play out in characters’ lives!

What’s one piece of advice you’d give people about pushing through hard times–especially as a writer, but for other things too.

Never give up or lose faith. I know, it is so easy to do, and there are times where you don’t really want to care anymore, but even if you slip, keep hanging on. This can be applied to both life and being a writer. Being a writer is scary. You bare your soul for anyone to see and might get crushed a little sometimes, but keep pushing forward. With every book I’ve ever published, including Samara’s Peril, there are inevitably times I start to worry it’s not good enough—that I’m not a good writer. That can be really hard, but just keep going.

Hmm. I admit this question was largely for myself because I’ve been struggling to make progress on the sequel to Counted Worthy. I’m going to have to take this to heart!

If the characters of Samara’s Peril were going to be in your wedding, what roles would they play?

Good question. Well, supposing my fiancé (are you out there anywhere? ;), was cool with anything I chose, Jace and Kyrin would definitely be part of my wedding party. Kaden too. Meredith would be the flower girl, and I would definitely have Talas and some of his crete friends do the music. 🙂 Lenae would probably be in charge of the food. Oh, and I would have Timothy do the ceremony.

Meredith is so perfect to be the flower girl! ❤

In upcoming books, which character’s personality arc are you most looking forward to?

Daniel! 😀 He gets a whole storyline dedicated to him in book four, so I’m really looking forward to sharing that. Also, Jace, of course. He changes a lot in Samara’s Peril, but it doesn’t stop there. I love watching him continue to grow throughout the series.

Oooh! My brother and I have been hoping for Daniel to get more screen time.

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Author Interview: Morgan Huneke

Today isEspionage the release day for Morgan Elizabeth Huneke’s novel, Espionage! I’m excited to share her answers to a few interview questions.

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Without further ado…

If you were to create a devotional based off Espionage, what would the theme be?

Forgiveness and mercy. I don’t want to elaborate too much—if I do, I’ll give away the ending—but it’s a very important topic for the book, one I certainly did not put in there intentionally. No one deserves mercy. Absolutely no one. But that’s what makes it so much greater.

How did writing this book grow you as a person?

Well, it did help me to better understand the messages of forgiveness and mercy. None of the theological elements in the book were things I didn’t already know, but sometimes you know things with your head and not your heart. It’s tough to forgive someone who has wronged you. It’s tough to show mercy to someone who sought to ruin your life. But the consequences of not showing mercy are so much worse. Dying without Jesus is the worst thing that can happen to anyone. That last point really hit home for me when a relative died several years ago, and writing Espionage brought it back up and helped me to share just a bit of that. (Now, the two incidents are slightly different because I did care about the relative and I don’t like the character.)

Pick one of your favorite characters from Espionage. If s/he found an abandoned infant, how would s/he react? How does his/her backstory impact this reaction?

I’ll pick Kyle, though I think his reaction would be much the same as Vannie’s. He would take the baby home and take care of its needs right off. He would try to find out who the baby belonged to and why it was abandoned. If it was simply because the family was too poor to support it, he would provide them with what they needed. If the family truly didn’t want the baby, he would find a loving Christian family to adopt it. This is where he differs from Vannie, because Kyle’s home life is too terrible for him to bring someone else into it, and Vannie’s is secure and happy enough that she’d want her parents to be the ones to adopt the baby. How Kyle’s backstory impacts it. Mostly because he knows what it’s like to be neglected and unwanted. As nobility, he’ll never be physically abandoned, but he knows emotional abandonment well. And he’d never wish that on anyone else.

What do you want readers to know about yourself and Espionage?

Growing up involved in politics had a huge impact on this book. The whole conflict in the book is sparked by an alliance controversy. And that political side of things is very important to me. However, this is more of a personal book. It’s about family and friendship. About always doing what’s right. And about showing mercy. It’s a book that means a lot to me, and I hope it means a lot to you too.

About Espionage

“Sir Roland has invited us to visit for the Autumn Feast.”

“Do we have to go, Papa? I couldn’t feast with the most crooked politician in all of Briznom.”

As the daughter of a Briznomian vassal lord, Vannie Cumberland has spent her childhood immersed in the world of politics. Relations between Briznom and the neighboring country of Calhortz are strained due to the tyrannical rule of the strytes. A proposed alliance could calm relations between the two countries, but would come at the cost of Briznom’s freedom.

When her father’s political archenemy invites them to the Autumn Feast, Vannie uncovers an evil scheme endangering the life of someone close to her. Personal enmity comes to a dangerous head as Vannie struggles to expose the corruption and stop the alliance. Time is running out.

Events are becoming too big for her to handle. Will Sir Roland’s son help or will things finally spiral out of control?

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About Morgan

Morgan ElizabethMorgan Huneke_author Huneke is a homeschool graduate who lives in Georgia. She has enjoyed creating characters and writing stories since early childhood. Books have always been a big part of her life, never more so than when working at the local library. Her other interests include reading, playing the piano and violin, and politics.

You can connect with Morgan on her website, blog, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and Pinterest.

 

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

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Book Review & Giveaway: Samara’s Peril

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Are you ready for an influx of posts about Samara’s Peril? I’m so excited to talk about this book because the more of the series I read, the more of a favorite it becomes. Dear readers, if the Ilyon Chronicles books aren’t on your read-as-soon-as-possible list, they should be.

Back Cover Blurb

When news arrives that Emperor Daican has been in contact with his chief war strategist, it signals potential doom for the country of Samara. Determined to intervene, the resistance in Landale, headed by Lady Anne, embark on a covert mission in hopes of unearthing further information. However, a shocking discovery leads to complications no one could have foreseen.

Armed with their newfound knowledge, they set out for Samara to warn the king. War is inevitable, and they must face two desperate battles—one on the walls of Samara’s great stronghold, and the other on the battlefield of Jace’s heart, where victory might only be achievable through great sacrifice.

Available now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iBooks!

My Thoughts

Every once in a while, you meet a fictional character that completely captures your heart. When they’re part of the series, you find yourself grinning when you begin the next book because you’re happy to be “hanging out” with this character again. Jace is one of those characters. There is something about his dogged integrity despite a crippling past that makes him compelling.

While past books in this series have caused me to contemplate broad issues like faithfulness in the face of persecution, Samara’s Peril was a very personal story. The majority of the narrative clung to Jace’s perspective, struggles, and eventual … well, let’s not give that part away. 😉 The moments of joy are bountiful, relieving joy because they’ve been hoped for and anticipated for so long. (One scene had me stumbling around the house with a grin on my face for half-an-hour.) The stretches of pain and doubt are heart wringing.

The bottom line is: the storytelling is amazing, the story itself is meaningful, and the characters will make a home in your heart and never leave.

Stay Tuned! Next Wednesday we’ll be featuring an author interview with Jaye, and next Friday I’ll share some practical, real-life takeaways inspired by Samara’s Peril.

About the Author

JayeAuthor2015Jaye L. Knight is an award-winning author, homeschool graduate, and shameless tea addict with a passion for Christian fantasy. Armed with an active imagination and love for adventure, Jaye weaves stories of truth, faith, and courage with the message that even in the deepest darkness, God’s love shines as a light to offer hope. She has been penning stories since the age of eight and resides in the Northwoods of Wisconsin.

You can connect with Jaye on her website, blog, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Etsy.

Giveaway!

Share in the excitement of the release and enter to win a themed giveaway pack! Prizes include an autographed copy of Samara’s Peril, a John 3:16 necklace by FaithWearDesigns, and a green wire dragon bookmark by Wirelings! (Giveaway is open to US residents only. Cannot be shipped internationally.)

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Book Review: Lydia

LydiaThis is my third Lois T. Henderson book, and I think it’s safe to say that she’s become one of my favorite Biblical fiction authors. (You can read my previous reviews of her books Ruth and Pricilla & Aquila.)

Our church has been studying Acts, and we reached the portion containing Lydia’s story just as I was finishing this book. It’s always neat to listen to teaching on a Biblical portion and compare it to an author’s imagined tale.

What gripped me most in this book was the scene where Lydia is converted to Christianity. It’s been a while since a salvation scene made me cry, but this one definitely did. The author managed to paint a word picture of the sheer beauty and joy of a soul opening to Christ.

Lydia was aware of no one and nothing but her own need for this gift which Paul promised. Eagerly, she pushed through the crowd until she reached the edge of the water. She dropped her stola and stood waiting in her simple tunic.

Like Henderson’s other stories, Lydia is not an action packed book. It is compelling in a quiet, every-day way.

What are some of your favorite, fictional conversion scenes? What type of scenes make you cry (or get your heart beating fast … whatever your reaction is)?

 

5 Novels for Easter

The two most joyful proclamations in the Bible are “Unto us a child is born” and “He is risen!” This are words that cause the Christian heart to thrill. Yet, to our shame, sometimes even these pronouncements of joy loose their luster. Over the years, many stories have renewed my sense of wonder over various aspects of of the Good News. If you want to look at the Easter story with fresh eyes this year, here are some reading suggestions.

5 novels for easter

Titus Comrade of the CrossTitus: Comrade of the Cross
Good Friday
When I grabbed this book off a shelf in our basement, I didn’t give the title much thought. About halfway through the book, I began to feel a sinking sense of dread about the term comrade of the cross. Florence M. Kingsley wrote this book just before the 19th century turned to the 20th. According to Goodreads, it was written in response to a publisher’s challenge to “write a manuscript that would set a child’s heart on fire for Jesus Christ.” This book will bring you to Golgotha through the eyes of the believing thief.

RivenRiven
Good Friday
If you read the story synopsis for this book, you won’t understand why I put it on this list. It’s a contemporary novel about a boy from the wrong side of the tracks, and a chaplain who has seen better days. Riven is also one of the longest books I’ve ever read, so it would take quite a time commitment to finish in one week. However, I can promise you will see Good Friday with new eyes after reading this. It’s one of the most unique, powerful stories I’ve ever read. It’s also the only book I continued crying over long after turning the last page.
Note: Not recommended for readers under 16.

Vinegar Boy

Vinegar Boy
Good Friday & Easter
This is a good read if you prefer something a little less intense than Riven or Titus: Comrade of the Cross. Vinegar boy would make a great family read-a-loud. The story follows the life of an orphan boy who wants nothing more than to be healed from a birthmark (a port wine stain) that leads people to believe he’s cursed. If he was healed, he would be adopted and have the opportunity to lead a normal life. The Rabbi from Nazareth seems his only hope–a hope dashed when he finds himself beneath the cross of Jesus’, wetting Christ’s lips with sponge of vinegar.

Ben-HurBen-Hur
Good Friday & Easter
I freely admit that I have yet to read this book front to back–the one time I digested the whole story in literary form was when I listened to it from Focus on the Family Radio Theater. However, this classic tale is the first to come to mind when considering Easter stories. This novel is a great representation of a life healed by tragedy of the crucifixion and the triumph of the resurrection. If you don’t have time for the book or audio drama, there’s always the more frequently consumed movie.
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Easter Surprise, TheThe Easter Surprise
Easter
The resurrection story for the smaller members of the family. The Arch Books Bible stories are among the first books I ever read on my own. We had a good stock of them both at home and in our church’s nursery. There is a whole collection of Arch Books for this time of year, including: The Week That Led to Easter, The Day Jesus Died, The Story of the Empty Tomb, The Resurrection, He’s Risen! He’s Alive!, and The Easter Stranger.

Acts of FaithActs of Faith Trilogy
After Easter
Enter the world of the early church. Authors Janette Oke and Davis Bunn teamed up to write these stories of faith, persecution, and determination. Book two, The Hidden Flame, was my personal favorite as it gave me a deeper appreciation for the faithfulness and sacrifice of Stephen.
Note: Recommend that younger teens check with their parents before reading this trilogy.

What are your favorite Easter stories? Which novels have helped you gain a renewed appreciation of Bible events?