Friday, December 29, 2017

Best of 2017

via Pixabay
This year has been a feast of reason. This post, however haltingly, is an attempt to look back on it all.

I read more books than I expected to (full list coming next week). And it's interesting to look back and remember the circumstances surrounding some of them. No More Faking Fine was begun on a night of distressed soul earlier in the year. August found me flipping through the gripping pages of Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry while being driven past miles of Canadian fields. The famous trial in To Kill a Mockingbird was read in the family van during a day with morning and afternoon church services. The Blue Castle was read on my bed on a leisurely Saturday.

One of the themes winding through this year was just how much enjoyment I found in modern authors. I love classics so much, but historical fiction like Johnnie Alexander's WW2 drama Where Treasure Hides, Stephanie Morrill's 1920s mystery Lost Girl of Astor Street, and Joanne Bischof's 1800s circus tale The Lady and the Lionheart, provided a wealth of intrigue, character personalities I adored, and quality storytelling that provided much joy as I read them.

And another really cool theme for this year? The Reformation 500! While I haven't featured those books on my list below, Erwin Lutzer's Rescuing the Gospel and J.H. Alexander's Ladies of the Reformation helped me mark the occasion. I'm also almost through Michelle DeRusha's Katharina and Martin Luther--learning about Martin and Katie's marriage was truly a delight this year.

Those things have been mind-enriching and soul feeding. But there was one more cool thing--and that was to add a book of my very own to the literary world. War of Loyalties was a dream come true, and I'm so grateful to have this story and all of my fictional friends inside it available in paperback and Kindle. It's amazing to skim through it all, and hear the reactions of people reading it.

Below, as per tradition, I've done a round-up of favorite book reviews and articles from this year. There are thoughts on adulthood (The Blue Castle), thoughts on truth and homosexuality (A Room with a View), thoughts about Tolkien, about dealing with differing convictions among friends, and a couple of articles about love and The Young Victoria. There are also light-hearted posts about book deals and Schuylock and Hobbits. And there is a journey of thankfulness for the path the Lord blessed with War of Loyalties.

I hope you enjoy browsing through them. And don't forget to keep scrolling for the top books of the year!

Top Book Reviews
No More Faking Fine, by Esther Fleece
The Blue Castle, by L.M. Montgomery
Adorned, by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth
Death Be Not Proud, by Suzannah Rowntree
A Room With a View, by E.M. Forster
The Maggie Bright, by Tracy Groot
Where Treasure Hides, by Johnnie Alexander
The Lost Girl of Astor Street, by Stephanie Morrill
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred D. Taylor
Carry On, Mr. Bowditch, by Jean Lee Latham
To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

Top Articles
Of Frodo Baggins, Temptation, and Community 
How Writing Offers Healing 
How to Buy a Whole Book Series in One Afternoon 
Dr. Who, Beauty and the Beast, and How to Talk to Friends About it All 
Meet Schuylock
A Very Important Update About War of Loyalties 
The End of the Kickstarter Chapter in War of Loyalties 
How to Deal With Shame in Receiving Feedback
Happy Birthday to the Hobbits! 
The Young Victoria: What Young Love Should Look Like
On Queen Victoria and Eligible Young Men
Why Protestants Need to Understand Catholics 
The War of Loyalties Tour {my heart is filled with Thankfulness} 

Nonfiction of the Year

book cover via goodreads

Present Over Perfect

While I haven't reviewed this yet on the blog (thoughts coming January 2018), I picked this book for my favorite because of the amount of impact it ministered to my mind. Present Over Perfect hits me smack in the middle of a workaholic perfectionistic place and draws me back to a mindset of grace, love for the small gifts of life, and what my key priorities are. I've read it almost twice this year (hoping to finish it before January 1st) and while I'll add the caveat that I have some major theological and lifestyle differences with portions of it, the core of its heart is something I very much agree with.

Fiction of the Year

book cover via goodreads
The Lost Girl of Astor street was absolutely everything I had hoped it would be. I read it twice on ebook and found it in print copy earlier this month. The mystery is suspenseful, the characters are so endearing, and I absolutely loved Mariano and Piper's dynamic together. Containing the yummiest sounding pizza in print, it provided so much enjoyment that it's easy to remember this book as a favorite of 2017. I'll definitely be returning again and again.

Author of the Year

Tracy Groot

I actually started The Maggie Bright in 2016, but in 2017 I got my own review copy and read it.Tracy Groot's book charmed me instantly. It's variety of character personalities, testimony to the power of prayer (even through the perspective of unbelieving characters), the hilarious Shrew, and the beaches of Dunkirk all combined to give me a reading experience that captured the core of my fiction-loving heart. Her book is historical fiction just the way I like it, and I enjoyed not only reading it on my own but also reading it a second time this year out loud with my mom and sister. I'm officially sold on anything else she writes.

What were your favorite books from 2017? Do you have any special memories of reading books in certain places this year?

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The 2017 Music Playlist

photo credit
For the last couple of years, I've posted a list of favorite songs I've discovered throughout the year on social media. This year, I looked at my list and realized all the thoughts I wanted to share were too long to put on a regular Facebook post--so I thought I'd bring it over here to chat about it in a little more detail.

Sharing favorite music sometimes feels like a vulnerable thing. But I like being honest about who I really am, even when it feels vulnerable. So this playlist is a journey of grief and hope, of tears and creativity, of deeply Schuyler. Most of these songs I get off Spotify, which is a great source for free music, but sometimes where they're on Youtube official channels I'll link to them.

Victoria Soundtrack // "Lord M"--Writing romance is hard for me. I mean, sometimes I can write it, but so far I've really struggled to write it in historical stories. I'm trying my dead level best, though--earlier this year I worked on writing a London murder mystery which required a romance plot. Whenever I flipped on "Lord M", the emotion of this short piece of music took the scene to the next level. So much so, sometimes I put it on repeat while I was writing. Whatever it takes to keep the mood. :)

Also, 2017 was so much better with Lord Melbourne in it. I don't crush on movie characters, but I do love his character.

The Afters // Live On Forever // Life is Beautiful (albums)--While I don't listen to heavy rock music, I do understand the extra energy music can provide when your mind is tired. When I discovered The Afters, I harnessed some of the adrenaline in their music as I was coming down to the final stretch of War of Loyalties. I'd heard one of their songs on October Baby. Their songs encompass what it means to celebrate and joyfully tackle the challenges of life--wonder, adrenaline, and a reminder of our joyful relationship with a powerful God make their music something I love cycling through my brain--like a fresh fountain of water.

Old Church Choir // Zach Williams--After watching the video that went viral with the little girl singing this song, we looked up the original and have been hooked ever since. It's an energetic, joyful song of celebration.

A Whole New World // Evynne Hollens--I never found a song for Terry and Pearlie from War of Loyalties, believe it or not, until I flipped on A Whole New World and realized that this described their relationship to a T. While the ideology isn't perfect, the warm fuzzies it gives me are addicting.

At the Beginning // Evynne and Peter Hollens--This is a song of love and beauty, sung by a husband and wife--it's joyful and romantic, and a piece of inspiration I've culled for a story with female butlers and Syrian refugees.

Nichole Nordeman //Every Mile Mattered (album)--Listening to Nichole Nordeman's CD was an experiment. I heard a couple of her songs and thought I'd like to try the whole CD to find out what it was like. After a sweet gift from a friend for my birthday, I slid the CD into the van player and mulled over the songs. My first instinct was that it was too contemporary. But as I gave the songs a second try, I found the lyrics deeply resonated. They explain what it's like to constantly fight a war with your mind and quest for perfection. They're almost a journal style, talking about the journey life is, and how God's grace surrounds it. "Listen To Your Life" encapsulates what it feels like to live in a busy, over-thinking brain. "Lean" captures how God doesn't need my performance--a theme that also crops up in my local Bible study's journey through Romans 8. Dear Me, the song that first got me hooked on Nordeman's music, is another piece I culled for inspiration for the female butler story, and got the Syrian refugee plot incorporated. I find myself reaching for her CD again and again as I'm driving places.

Danny Gokey // Tell Your Heart to Beat Again--2016 was a year of some familiar things dying and changing. The trauma from it was deep. Danny Gokey's song of fresh hope and a fresh start helped me find some peace with the new normal.

Tenth Avenue North //I Have This Hope // No One Can Steal Our Joy--Along the lines of Danny Gokey, these two songs from Tenth Avenue North provided an outlet for uncertainty and struggle. I love Tenth Avenue North's ability to provide songs of lament through the tough seasons of life.

Celtic Thunder Inspirational // May the Road Rise to Meet You // From the Ground Up--Celtic Thunder released their newest album just after my birthday (perfect timing) and since I'm a Thunderhead, and the songs looked fantastic, of course I got it. The themes of love and family in "From the Ground Up" never cease to give a warm feeling that family is good, and the gentle words of God's blessing in "May the Road Rise to Meet You" are a benediction I love to listen to again and again.

King and Country // Shoulders--I think it was YouTube who brought me across this gem. It showed up in the list of suggested videos, and I finally clicked on it. Again, I loved the theme of hope--of gentle shepherding and strength, which are things I'm always thirsty for.

What a Beautiful Name // Hillsong--Every summer there's a little tabernacle near a lake with padded wooden benches where we go to hear preachers. It's a Sunday of morning and evening services, a picnic lunch, and reading on a pretty incredible beach. Every year we walk in and sit on the same bench (unless someone beat us to it), and this year they sang this song there. I love the third verse--it's triumphant and victorious in a way that makes my heart sing.

The Streets of New York // Celtic Thunder, Ryan Kelly--There's one swear word in the first verse which is quick to mute (you can find the lyrics online to find out where). The rest of it is the perfect Irish song that always makes me think of Jaeryn Graham from War of Loyalties (even though the song itself has nothing to do with his life.)

Try // Mandy Harvey--I don't know much about Mandy Harvey's music, and I hadn't heard of her at all until an America's Got Talent video popped up on Facebook. I was hooked by the young woman who had gone deaf but still pursued her love of music. The golden buzzer moments make me tear up--(the costumes are pretty immodest, thus not good to make a steady diet of) The song itself, though, which you can find on Spotify, is a heartfelt song of struggle and determination.

The Sound of the Saints // Audio Adrenaline
It's another song of joy--it's easy for me to gravitate to the heavier songs, but listening to the joyful ones lift the spirits and keeps things in tune. It's overwhelmingly joyful, and easy to sing along to.

These are some of my favorites from 2017--I'd love to hear some of yours! Any favorite artists, albums, or songs that have kept you company this year?

Friday, December 15, 2017

Winter TBR

via Pixabay
Hey friends!!

If you hadn't noticed, the blog's been taken over a wee bit by some book release festivities.

hard not to notice, actually 

But fear not. My Lady Bibliophile hasn't turned into My Precious War of Loyalties. ;) I'm back today with a TBR stack for the winter, and I'd love to hear what books you're looking forward to diving into over Christmas break and heading into the New Year!

A Hobbit, A Wardrobe, and a Great War, by Joseph Laconte
This will probably be a 2018 read, sometime between January and March. It contains a theme I very much want to develop in War of Honor (the sequel to War of Loyalties) and I'm hoping it will be an easy jumpstart into research. Which is not my cup of tea, but I am determined to do a more organized and better job of it.

Hannah Coulter, by Wendell Barry
A friend lent me this book, which according to Goodreads and their description, is a story about a woman recalling her life since her husband came home from the Civil War. Barry is a new author to me, and it will be a new corner of literature to explore that I'm very much looking forward to.

Katharina and Martin Luther, by Michelle DeRusha
This is on my list of books I'd like to finish by the end of the year. I got it as a birthday gift from a dear friend, and I'm hoping to fit it in as one last celebration of the Reformation 500.

High as the Heavens, by Kate Breslin
This is a WW1 novel I'm very much looking forward to reading. It has threads of spying, nursing, and a very nice bit of drama. I love seeing WW1 stories I can get my hands on because of WoL.

Courting Morrow Little, by Laura Frantz
I've already looked at this book and am super impressed with what I've seen so far. Another friend recommended Laura Frantz to me last week, and when I found her book for $1, I couldn't pass up the chance to try her out. This book has Indians, Kentucky, and a really sweet love story.

My Heart Belongs in Niagara Falls, New York by Amanda Barratt
I can't wait for this one! This is my friend's first novel, (she's written other novellas with Barbour), and I'm so, so excited for her. I love what she's told me about it so far, and I can't wait to dive in!

A Song Unheard, by Roseanna White
A Name Unknown had creative, lovable characters and a really unique WW1 scenario that I absolutely loved reading. A Song Unheard continues the series, and I hope to request a review copy very soon!

Finding the Love of Jesus from Genesis to Revelation, by Elyse Fitzpatrick
I just saw this yesterday. I love the pretty pink detailing on the cover, and the premise of tracing God's love through the Scriptures (Amazon.) I thought it also connected specifically to women, which is what originally drew me to it, but I didn't see that in the Amazon description.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

War of Loyalties Giveaway Winners!!!

Friends, we have winners for the War of Loyalties giveaway, and I am thrilled to announce them below!!

Winner of the Grand Prize:

-Print Book
-Jaeryn Graham poster
-War of Loyalties mug

Jordan J 

Winner of the 2nd Prize:

-War of Loyalties ebook
-authentic 1917 postcard

Winner of the 3rd Prize

-War of Loyalties ebook

Lena T 

Congratulations, everyone!! I've contacted the winners by email and will be shipping out your prizes next week. And a huge thank-you to those of you who entered and spread the word! To run a contest with my first published book has been absolutely thrilling!

Friday, December 8, 2017

War of Loyalties Blog Tour Round-up

Today War of Loyalties had its first book signing, and we had a wonderful time. The people hosting it were so sweet, and I got to talk about writing, meet so many neat people, and sell copies of War of Loyalties! It's a wonderful way to close out the official blog party--with an in-person event. :)

But wait! We have 8 hours left to enter to win the prize pack!

Here's the grand prize pack:

First Prize Winner:
-Paperback copy of War of Loyalties
-“Jaeryn’s Vow” 8x10 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

US residents only for 1st and 2nd prizes. Accounts created solely for giveaways not eligible.

Just click this link to enter the giveaway: 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And if you haven't had a chance yet, don't forget to visit these incredible blogs who hosted me for the War of Loyalties blog tour!

Blog Tour Posts: 

November 30:

My Lady Bibliophile: Announcement Post 
Lydia Carns: Book Spotlight

December 1

Defending the Legacy: Book Spotlight
The Ink Lizard: Book Spotlight

December 2

Lydia Carns: Author Interview
My Lady Bibliophile: My Heart is Filled With Thankfulness 

December 4
Fullness of Joy--Author Interview 
Kaleigh's Book Reviews--Guest Post: The Heart of Story-crafting in War of Loyalties 

December 5
Sophia White--Guest Post: "Why I Love Historical Fiction" 
My Lady Bibliophile--Interview with Joy, Part 2 

December 6

Hanna-Col Writes: Interview with Terry O'Sean 

December 7

Curious Wren: Interview with Jaeryn Graham

December 8

The Herosinger: Author Interview 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

A Chat with Joy, Part 2 {+ giveaway}

My lovely friend from Fullness of Joy hosted me over on her blog yesterday for an interview. I love this interview so much because it's not only a get-to-know the book interview, but a get-to-know the author interview as well. Joy thought up some incredible questions, and I'm so privileged to be able to hold part two of the interview on my own blog today!

19. Who is your favourite sidekick (secondary character) in a book/movie/show of your favourite genres? (You are welcome to choose more than one ;).

I adore sidekicks. They’re some of my favorite parts of a book or movie. Current favorite sidekicks include Higgins from North and South movie (his friendship with John Thornton is the best), Lord M from Victoria (yes, partly because I imagine him as Jaeryn) and Samwise Gamgee from Lord of the Rings. I also love the Captain in Cinderella. J

20. As you wrote War of Loyalties, were there aspects of the story that took you by surprise?

Well, Jaeryn kind of took me by surprise. He started out as someone entirely different. There was no mystery or thirst for power in the first draft—I mean, he was always a bit controlling, but not nearly the same as he was in the latest draft. He was a wonderful surprise, though.

21. How have you grown as a writer through attending writer’s conferences and taking writing courses/using how-to creative writing resources? What have been some of your observations of this creative field over the past few years?

I’ve grown incredibly. Writer’s conferences gave me the opportunity to be around people who spoke the same “writing language”, so to speak. It’s always encouraging to be around people who practice the same craft, and having the opportunity to meet authors and agents face to face was invaluable for getting to know the publishing world. It taught me a lot about how to create a proposal, which is a really detailed document, and I think that was a good test for me. Detailed documents aren’t my first love, and I needed that experience for the small business skills I’m using now.  

22. On a festive note, hands down, what’s your all time favourite holiday food and sweet treat?

This is SO hard. Especially because I can’t think of anything traditional…one of my favorite savory things to see every holiday is my great aunt’s cheese ball, which is a mix of cheeses and spices that you can use as a cracker spread. And for sweet, I love the eggnog shakes at McDonald’s! J

23. How do you think the main characters of War of Loyalties would react if he or she were introduced to you?

I think they’d look at me with kind of squinty, confused, slightly-troubled eyes and say “I had no idea you were the reason all of this is happening in my life.” XD

24. In one of your blog-posts, I believe you once pitched your novel for lovers of Dickens, the ITV Victoria series and those who love the olden style of storytelling! Can you share why the combination of those things are so special and stand out as reasons for why readers may want pick up War of Loyalties?

Yes! Well, first of all, War of Loyalties is so big, I try to pair it with Dickens because it’s one of those winding stories that’s designed to be enjoyed over a long amount of time. Also, while love is part of the story, there are lots of other little plots and dramas going on like Dickens. And thirdly, content-wise I know if people like Dickens they’ll approve of War of Loyalties because, sans language (which Dickens includes) War of Loyalties is directed to about the same age level. I also thought if people liked Dickens and Victoria, they would love historical fiction, too!  

25. I know editing & pitching your work has been a long process for you over the past few years. Can you share what this journey has been like & what role your beta-readers, street team, family and close friends played in bringing this work to life?

Yes! I had attended a couple of writer’s conferences by the time I finished the second draft of War of Loyalties (our local writers’ conferences are phenomenal, so I’m lucky!). However, I realized it needed some work, so I put it through one more draft before starting to pitch it to traditional editors. Even though the traditional publishing route didn’t work out for this book (it probably still could have, had I not wanted it published in time for the centennial of the story), I was honoured to talk to so many agents and editors, and I have a high respect for them in the industry.

26. Please tell us a little bit about the journey that brought you to publishing War of Loyalties, particularly your launching the Kickstarter campaign and how that was like!

Yes! I really, really wanted War of Loyalties to be published in 2017, 100 years after the story took place, and I knew to do that, it would have to be self-publishing due to the timeframe we were working with. I always knew pretty much which editor and which cover designer I wanted to use for my book. But for the budget I was working with, I could only think of two options: earn the money on my own, or look at crowdfunding. We'd supported a couple of Kickstarter projects before, so we were familiar with it and decided to give it a try. And God gave so graciously, and people gave so graciously. It really was incredible.

27. Is there a particular song or film that makes you cry every time you watch/listen to it? What is your type of comfort story?

I have many comfort stories, and that’s why I love collecting DVDs. Once I love a story, I want it near me. Two that come to mind are Amazing Grace and The Young Victoria. I used to tear up when I watched them, and the stories of perseverance and love inspire me so deeply on a heart level with my own drive to pursue passions and yearning for close friendship.

28. What have been some of the benefits you’ve experienced with self-publishing so far, and what have been its special pains?

I love this story so much that self-publishing has truly been a joy in being able to be involved in every part of the process. From the cover design to the editing, even to formatting it into a paperback, it really has been a joy. I get to help it all the way through until it launches (with tons of other people whose help has been phenomenal). The pains have been navigating formatting and font licensing. J

29. Can you share with us about the amazing cover-design of your novel, and how it came into being (designer, process, choices, etc.)? It’s stunning, and perfectly captures your novel’s essence to a T, honestly!

I would love to! The folks at Damonza did an incredible job. I picked Damonza because they do K.M. Weiland’s novels, and I thought they were so beautiful and professional. Initially Damonza sent me several covers to choose from, and while all of them were stunning, it was easy to narrow down this one. It captured the spirit of the novel so well, and I loved it best. That night was so special, opening the email, and showing it to my family. After I told them which cover and sent them a couple of small tweaks I wanted, they emailed back the changes, and the process repeated a couple of times until I was happy with the tiniest details. There weren’t any major changes, though. The folks at Damonza were so gracious, professional, and had a fast turnaround! I definitely want to work with them again.

30.  Which character in literature do you think is most like you, or maybe you identify with the most? If someone made a movie of your life, what actress would you cast to play you, and what would be the soundtrack of your life-story?

Oh, wow, this is a great question. For actress, someone once said Emily Blunt (I’ve only seen her in The Young Victoria) and I’ve always liked that choice. I think she could pull off the side of my personality that is always thinking, sometimes insecure, and loves close friends. I don’t know who I would pick to do the soundtrack, but Patrick Doyle would be cool, and I love Alexandre Desplat’s The Light Between Oceans soundtrack.

31. Have you done anything while writing for the sake of this novel that has pushed you out of your comfort zone or taken you personally to unexpected (though not necessarily unpleasant!) places you’d never have gone through/done otherwise?

Yes. Truly, the biggest thing I’ve done outside my comfort zone was returning to my mistakes to fix them after people looked at various drafts of War of Loyalties. It can feel incredibly crippling sometimes to return to a document with feedback about mistakes, even though they were so kindly given and so necessary. It’s a personal piece of you, and you have to figure out how to keep on going when that personal work isn’t just yours anymore. But I had to face the discomfort, which sometimes felt like it was freezing up my ability to move forward and edit the next thing. Each time I have faced the discomfort, my emotional strength has grown, God’s grace has been sufficient, and the book has turned out so much better. I’m grateful for that.

32. What’s your favourite thing about the online writing community (on twitter, instagram and through blogs) that you’ve been part of & what impact have they had on War of Loyalties and on you personally?

I love how people are so encouraging to one another. My circles are small, but people are always giving encouraging words and virtual snacks and cheering each other on. Writing community is so, so important for me because I hate writing alone without being able to talk about my project, so the fellowship is really appreciated! While I already had major drafting done on War of Loyalties before I talked about it online, the Twitter/blogger community received the characters with open arms as I posted blog posts, and their encouraging comments always gave me joy!

33. Now that War of Loyalties is published, what have you been working on lately? Can you tell us a bit more about your current writing projects? (Also a few snippets from your work would be a treat!)

Yes! I’d love to! I’m currently returning to my initial old love and trying to write a Sherlock Holmes novella of my own. That’s going to take some drafting before it’s satisfactory, though (I’m having a traditional Watson POV, and a POV from the main female character). I’m also looking next year at working on the second draft of War of Honor, and I’m outlining a modern-day book with Dickensian vibes, OCD, and female butlers.

Here’s a snippet from the Sherlock Holmes novella, which I’ve currently entitled Schuylock (see what I did there….)

“You were always an odd little woman, Victoria.” Wine splashed against the edge of a crystal glass, and she pressed her lips to it, letting the liquid barely touch. It was strange to think of the last of the London Hathaways holding a glass of wine as if it was a normal thing. The black and white chess pieces stood in battle array. Glancing at the board, she let a small, wolfish smile cross her face. Then she picked up the pawn piece on polished wooden board. “I believe it is checkmate, darling.” Then a flash, a crash, a fall, and checkmate turned into the last one she would ever have to give.

34. And finally, if there was one thing you wished to say to other young writers going through this journey, what would it be?

It’s a beautiful journey. It’s going to take a lot of time, but time as an apprentice to writing is time well spent. Settle into the journey, befriend people who are a step ahead of you, and take the time to find the heartbeat of your story. You will doubt yourself, there will be times when you think you can’t take this story any further, but if the heartbeat is there, then keep on going. Keep on going. Don’t give up. Let us cheer for you.

First Prize Winner:
-Paperback copy of War of Loyalties
-“Jaeryn’s Vow” 8x10 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

US residents only for 1st and 2nd prizes. Accounts created solely for giveaways not eligible.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, December 2, 2017

The War of Loyalties Tour {my heart is filled with thankfulness, part 1} + giveaway

I wanted to take a moment on the War of Loyalties release tour and record the graces that God has provided throughout this project. There are many. So many, I will probably forget some of them.

It's a quiet Saturday afternoon. And I can take time to stop and think.

schuyler, you are always thinking, good gracious 

Last year, in the last week of 2016, I saw a deal on an editing package from an editor I wanted to work with. It was a package I could afford, and it looked really good. But I had to make a decision in a few hours, and I hadn't done any research or asked for a sample edit.

I let the deal pass. I felt sick about it, but at the same time, I felt like it was wrong to book something that big so suddenly. I needed time to think and pray about it.

I always knew pretty much which editor and which cover designer I wanted to use for my book. But I also knew that on the budget I was working with, it wouldn't be possible. I could only think of two options: earn the money on my own, or look at crowdfunding.

Last summer I worked too hard for too long and ended up with some severe depression afterward. I knew that earning the money for the book coupled with getting the book itself ready could be a pretty toxic combination for overwork this year. So I started looking at crowdfunding. We'd supported a couple of Kickstarter projects before, so we were familiar with it. But we'd never done one in our own family. In fact, we've never really done fundraising of any kind. And it was a little nervewracking to consider.

I booked the editor for the part one of War of Loyalties, which I was able to pay for myself. Then I called a new friend who had done a Kickstarter and she generously gave me some advice on mine. I explained the project, ran my plan by her, and she was so encouraging and supportive that I felt empowered to give it a try.

So I collected reward ideas. Budgeted. Wrote up descriptions and shot a video on a rickety tripod. That day I felt more infuriated with the tripod than upbeat for the camera. It still makes me chuckle.

By that point, the launch was already delayed beyond what I had hoped--the start date wasn't until later in May. It would run for 30 days, and that gave me a tight turnaround time, especially because I wanted to book the editor before his schedule filled up. Also, Kickstarter is all or nothing. If you reach funding, you get it all. If you don't reach funding, you walk away without a penny.

It's a step of faith.

After intense pressure and a few tears (learning the ins and outs of sales tax) I was ready to go. But the day I wanted to launch, I did a few more calculations and realized the money I hoped to raise wasn't going to be enough for the entire project.

I think I ended up adding an extra thousand dollars.

This was later than I had planned, and more than I had planned. On a super small scale, it makes me think of Elijah building the altar before the Lord and then pouring water on it because a dry altar wasn't challenging enough (1 Kings 18).

But it was the only thing I could think of. And even if it failed, I had learned so much stuff that I knew the time was well spent.

Then we pushed Launch.

Kickstarter isn't for everyone. It hasn't worked for everyone. There was no magic trick or special ability or best practice that made it work for me. There were slow days when nothing came in. There were days when hundreds of dollars came in. There were dark days of feeling like a fraud, and days when I felt confident. But God kept reminding me to pray.

The end result was the sheer grace and generosity of God working through the hearts and incredible gifts of people who were willing to give. They gave and gave and gave. I remember one night when I was feeling like a fraud, I told my dad that I just wanted the book to be worth what they were giving. He told me, "They're giving because they love you."

When it comes down to it, this book was built on love ever since it began. It was love that made my parents educate me and teach me to read and fill up my soul with good books so that I could pour out words of my own.It was love that wrote the first draft of the book. It was love that made people pray for me through each re-write. It was love that made friends spend a summer helping me through the second draft of the book. It was love that made friends take WoL-themed pictures all around England when I could not come with them. And it was love that brought that Kickstarter all the way to 100% on June 22, 2017. And over all of it was the love of God, who gave so richly of his fullness to make this dream come true.

I'm so thankful for that.

That sale I passed up on? I got to work with the very same editor just the way I had wanted, and God provided every penny.

Next week I'll have more reflections on the journey. In the meantime, be sure to hop over to Lydia Carns' blog for behind the scenes questions about what inspired the WW1 setting and the characters in the book! And stay tuned for even more blog tour fun coming next week!

First Prize Winner:
-Paperback copy of War of Loyalties
-“Jaeryn’s Vow” 8x10 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

US residents only for 1st and 2nd prizes. Accounts created solely for giveaways not eligible.

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