Author Chat with Bryan Davis on his New Christian Science Fiction Series

I met Bryan Davis at a writer’s conference several years ago and enjoyed getting to know him and his daughter Amanda (also an author). His books are favorites among the students I teach, and I’m honored to have him be my guest on the blog. In our author chat feature today, he shares about a brand new Christian science fiction series, with the first book releasing today.

Q: What prompted you to write this new series, or what was your inspiration?

This story began as a dream about a dystopian society with a tyrannical regime and a rebel faction trying to bring it down. In the dream, two rebels posed as fake doctors to deliver a toxic vaccine to regime troops, and the novel sprouted from that seed.

Q: What are some science fiction elements in the story that help drive or enhance the storyline (if you can share without giving away spoilers)?

The story has hovercraft drones, a scanner that can see a soul in the brain, a portal in the sky that has been breached by an alien race, weapons that shoot plasma spheres, and a missile designed to destroy a cross-dimensional conduit.

Q: Fiction often mirrors reality, even if the setting, time period, and characters are other-worldly. What aspects of the story might readers find paralleling their own experience?

In this case, the parallels are all too real. The story includes the threat of a contagion that will kill millions and a requirement to take a vaccine that is touted to be helpful but might be hazardous. I wrote the story long before the COVID-19 situation, and the current-events elements came to pass after I completed it.

Q: What message do you hope readers will take away from this story?

I try not to reveal specific story themes that I intended, because I want readers to glean for themselves, but in all of my stories, including this one, I hope to promote faith, courage, and self-sacrifice in my readers.

Q: You’re a household name for fans of young adult Christian fantasy. How is this new series different from some of your other books, and/or how is it similar?

It’s different in the target age—for older teens and adults instead of for middle-graders and younger teens. It is more science fiction than fantasy, though there are some fantastical elements. It is similar in that I continue to feature characters who display sacrificial heroism and other virtues, and the Christian world view never wavers.

Q: How have you seen God use your writing journey in unexpected ways?

In too many ways to describe here. For myself, I have seen God provide in miraculous ways during the lean years, which has helped me more fully understand His sufficiency as I practice contentment. For readers, I hear from them nearly every day that my books have helped them in their faith as well as their physical lives. For example, more than 20 readers have told me that my books kept them from committing suicide. Some have given my stories credit for helping them with drug abuse, sexual exploitation, and self harm. The feedback has been a huge blessing and an overwhelming one.

Q: I know you’ve taught teen track courses at writer’s conferences. What do you enjoy most about talking to teen writers, and what is the best advice you would give them as they work on their own stories?

Teen writers often have great story ideas, and their energy and passion are invigorating and inspiring. Most are ready to listen and learn, and they are looking to make a positive influence.

I encourage teen writers to learn the craft and to exercise patience. It can take years for a new writer to a create professional-level novel. Some, when they are unable to acquire a traditional publisher, jump to self-publishing even though their stories might not be ready to publish. I am not opposed to self-publishing, but I urge young writers to be ready for that step before leaping in.

Q: When can we expect to see the next book in the series?

I don’t have an exact date, and I don’t have a title yet, but it will probably come out early in the spring of 2021.

Enjoy this interview with best-selling author Bryan Davis who talks about his new Christian science fiction series. @khogrefeparnell

About the Author

Bryan Davis is the author of several fantasy/science fiction series for youth and adults, including the best-selling Dragons in our Midst series. He and his wife, Susie, have seven adult children, and they work together as an author/editor team.

About Heaven Came Down

In the chaotic aftermath of apocalyptic war, the strange lights in the sky heralding the coming of unearthly beings seemed like an answer to prayer. When the heavenly visitors entered selected people and transformed them into angels who demanded obedience in exchange for the restoration of order, the majority accepted their new rulers.

But Ben Garrison and his siblings, Jack and Trudy, have seen a dark side to these so-called angels. They join a rebel faction with one goal: destroy the invaders and free the world from their tyranny.

When the rebels catch wind of an angel plot to invade the resistance region and spread a deadly contagion, the Garrisons embark on a crucial mission to swap the angel troops’ vaccine with a fake injection, stealing the real vaccine to save the rebels. The catch: Ben and Trudy, in disguise as doctors, must volunteer to become implanted by angels and fake their implantation.

The rebels’ plan, however, is soon exposed, jeopardizing the mission and their lives. Their only hope for rescue lies in an odd bounty hunter, a young angel priestess, and a mysterious spy embedded among the angels—a woman whose identity the rebels have yet to discover.

Book News! I Signed with The Blythe Daniel Agency

Sometimes, I wondered if this day would come. The search for the right literary agent has been quite the journey.

But the wait was worthwhile. I’m so honored to share that I signed with the Blythe Daniel Agency and Literary Agent Stephanie Alton, who will be representing me on a new Christian Romantic Suspense project I cannot wait for you to read one day!

About My New Project

The setting of this story is near to my life (and heart) as it takes my heroine from her ordinary world in Tampa to the snow-covered slopes of Beech Mountain. Both places are special to me, because I’m a Florida girl by birth, and my husband James proposed to me near Beech Mountain. You’ll get to experience so much of what I love about these settings in this novel.

Here’s a sneak preview of the premise:

Kaley just wants a carefree ski trip with her church singles’ group, but trouble follows her to Beech Mountain. When her last client of the day is murdered hours after she leaves for vacation, she becomes the target of an underworld celebrity who will stop at nothing to keep her secrets buried. The ally Kaley needs to survive is none other than her ex-boyfriend who won’t give up on her, even if she gave up on him.

You can be praying with me as my agent works to place this project with the right publisher.

Introducing My New Agent

Speaking of my agent, I’m excited for you to meet her! But first, some backstory:

It’s so neat how God works in unexpected ways. I met Blythe Daniel, the owner of the Blythe Daniel Agency, several years ago at the Florida Christian Writer’s Conference. I appreciated so much her professional expertise and also her gracious ability to connect with people on a personal level. Never in my dreams did I imagine that one day, I’d get to be part of her author community.

She connected me with her Blog About Blogger Network, organized by her colleague Stephanie Alton. For a few years, you’ve enjoyed the giveaways made possible through this network right here on the blog.

In March of this year, Faith Pitch on Twitter did a special #FaithOverFear contest where writers could pitch an in-progress project, and the participating editors and agents would each award one person a consultation. Although I figured it was a long shot, I pitched my current WIP (work in progress), and to my delight, won a consultation with Stephanie Alton, also an agent with the Blythe Daniel Agency.

Stephanie has been so helpful in answering my questions and a delight to communicate with. Long story short, I just signed an agreement for her to represent me on my new project.

What’s Next

Because we only see news (like this) and new book release announcements on social media, it often appears that just like that, the book is published.

But that’s not how the publishing industry works. In reality, it’s a slow process that often takes years.

All that to say, it could be over a year or even two before you have this novel in your hands. But in the meantime, I’ll be sharing the journey right here with you, along with other book news, the author chat features I hope you’ve been enjoying, giveaway opportunities, and as always, faith in the everyday adventures of life.

Thanks so much for being my friends and celebrating with me today!

~ Kristen

Book News! I’m proud to partner with the Blythe Daniel Agency. @kjhogrefe

Author Chat with Jerusha Agen on Romantic Suspense, Fighting Fear, and Her Next Release

I’m excited to introduce you to today’s featured author, Jerusha Agen! This gal has been such a blessing to me as we’ve gotten to know each other through our writing journeys, and today, it’s your turn to be blessed by her. I hope you enjoy this author chat as much as I have!

Q: What prompted you to first write Christian romantic suspense?

The first novels I wrote, which became the Sisters Redeemed Series, were romantic women’s fiction. But a curious thing happened as I was crafting those stories—each book in the three-book series leaned increasingly toward suspense! I realized when I finished that series that I might as well stop fighting the urge to add suspense to everything and embrace it instead!

Since then, I’ve written suspense novels that allow me to revel in the excitement, danger, and fear-fighting courage of the genre. I especially love how suspense stories delve into intense, sometimes dark issues—the places where the love and hope of Christ shine the brightest.

Q: What do you hope readers will take away from your books?

I hope and pray readers will always find in my stories a greater understanding of Who God is and where He is in the midst of suffering. I want my readers to come away with an unshakable hope from the realization that even in the darkest, most difficult circumstances, the Redeemer is there, is in control, and is always good.

Q: How does your Fear Warrior Blog tackle the topic that plagues characters in suspense novels—and many people in real life too? How does your faith shape the way you approach fighting fear?

The Fear Warrior Blog is dedicated to helping people fight against fear in their everyday lives. And you’re right, Kristen, this is an issue that does plague the characters in suspense novels, as well as all of us in real life! Everyone experiences fear at some point in their lives, to varying degrees, and I love to write realistic fiction that depicts that authentic struggle in the lives of characters too.

The characters may face a more palpable or overt danger than many of us do in our lives, but their deepest fears are the same as ours. And the only way to gain victory over fear is the same for us too.

You pinpointed that answer when you asked how faith shapes the way I approach fighting fear. Faith in God is the only way anyone can truly obtain victory over fear and break free from the prison of anxiety, worry, and all forms of fear. The good news is that this faith isn’t a pie-in-the-sky make believe or ignorance of reality. And the other good news is I don’t have to muster some heroic degree of faith myself.

“Faith in God is the only way anyone can truly obtain victory over fear and break free from the prison of anxiety, worry, and all forms of fear.” ~ @SDGwords on @kjhogrefe

This faith that gives us victory over fear is simply acknowledgement of and belief in the truth. And this faith, thank the Lord, isn’t something I have to conjure or force, but rather is a gift from God Himself.

So my faith, the faith God enables me to have, is also the means by which He gives me victory over fear. This fear-fighting weapon is available to everyone who belongs to Christ!

Q: How have you overcome fear in your own life, and how has this experience helped you encourage others?

Since God started me on this journey of fighting fear years ago, He has granted me so many victories, but many of them are in the small steps forward on my path to eventual conquering of that fear.

The most remarkable fear God has enabled me to overcome is my stage fright. I shared the complete story of this victory and how others can beat their own stage fright at the FW Blog, but the short version is that God gave me the faith, wisdom, and radical shift in perspective that enabled me to break free of stage fright. Ironically, this breakthrough happened when I gave a live presentation on fighting fear!

I knew we as Christians could have victory over our fears because the Bible tells me so. However, this experience has equipped and encouraged me to speak this truth to others with even more conviction because I’ve seen the evidence of victory over fear in my own life.

Q: As writers, we often don’t get to see how our writing influences others. However, sometimes readers do reach out and share with us. What has been the most encouraging feedback you’ve received?

I wouldn’t have thought to receive feedback on my writing during a pandemic, but I got a hand-written note from an elderly reader the other day who shared that one of my books gave her comfort and helped her pass the time in an enjoyable way while she was quarantined alone.

I never expected a story I wrote would bring encouragement to a sweet woman alone during such a time. But God knew how it would be used, just as He knows how He will use each of the posts I write for the Fear Warrior Blog, where I have often been astounded and encouraged by feedback from readers who were strengthened for their battles against fear.

I am awed by the privilege to have my words used by God to help others!

Q: Can you hint about what next project you have in the works?

I’m delighted you asked this, Kristen, because I’m currently working on getting my debut romantic suspense novel ready to launch with Love Inspired! I’d like to share with your readers the official title, for the first time in public: Rising Danger.

Rising Danger, which will be among the first books published with Love Inspired’s new trade line, is slated to release in July 2021. The novel tells the exciting story of a woman and her explosives detection K9 who stand between a city and a bomber.

That’s all I can say for now, but I’ll be sharing more exclusive updates and insider peeks with members of the Fear Warrior Suspense community (my awesome newsletter subscribers) in the coming months. I hope you’ll all join me by visiting FearWarriorSuspense.com.

Meet Romantic Suspense Author Jerusha Agen whose Fear Warrior blog equips readers to fight fear in their everyday lives and whose suspense novels remind them of the One who provides the victory. @kjhogrefe

About the Author

Jerusha Agen imagines danger around every corner, but knows God is there too. So naturally, she writes romantic suspense infused with the hope of salvation in Jesus Christ. Her debut romantic suspense novel, Rising Danger, releases in July 2021.

With a B.A. in English and a background in screenwriting, Jerusha is a speaker, writing instructor, and author of the Fear Warrior Blog, where she writes about fighting against fear in our everyday lives.

You’ll often find Jerusha sharing irresistibly adorable photos of her Furry Fear Warriors (three big dogs and two little cats) on social media.

Visit Jerusha at www.JerushaAgen.com. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.

About Introverted

Jerusha is giving away Introverted, a free romantic suspense story, to anyone who signs up to join the Fear Warrior Suspense community! Follow this link to get your free story at FearWarriorSuspense.com!

She never invites visitors. But visitors sometimes invite themselves.

When a winter storm brings more than snow, May Denver is forced to flee from her home and fight for her life. Can she trust an unwanted neighbor and risk her greatest fear in order to survive?

Peace Pirates: Review & Giveaway!

You might be surprised to see this book on my blog. I’m kind of surprised myself. After all, this is not a mom blog. (Hello, I’m not a mom yet!) However, this blog is all about thinking truthfully and living daringly in everyday life, and when I reviewed the book concept for Peace Pirates, I realized it fit our theme here perfectly.

Ashley Willis’ premise with this book is to fight the “pirates,” or anything that steals the peace from motherhood, by using biblical truth. It’s such a simple concept but so powerful, because every day, all of us (mothers or not) face choices, confront thought patterns, and deal with situations that can potentially rob the peace of God from our hearts.

So if you’re one of my friends who is a young mother (or like me, have so many friends who are in this season of life), please keep reading. I’d love for you to enter the giveaway and use this resource for yourself or share it with someone who would be blessed by it.

What are Peace Pirates?

After her confessions of a pirate mom (which are both hilarious and more than likely common misadventures shared by many moms), Ashley identifies four peace pirates that often plague mothers: mommy martyrdom, comparison chaos, clenching control, and excessive expectations. She breaks down each one by showing how these pitfalls can steal joy and then provides practical teaching from the Bible to combat each one.

One of my favorite points that she makes is that there are no perfect parents. This is such a liberating thought, right? She uses the example of Mary and Joseph in the Bible. The mother of Jesus and His earthly father actually lost Jesus for three days (Luke 2:43-47). Although I’ve read this story many times, I’d never considered it in terms of parenting. If the parents of the Son of God made mistakes, then parents today need to give themselves some grace, too, when best-laid plans turn into pure chaos.

As someone who isn’t a mother yet, I really appreciated this perspective. Not only are there no perfect parents, but they also can’t control everything their child does. Instead of judging parents in public when we have little-to-no knowledge of the situation’s background, Willis offers this suggestion: “When we see a stressed-out mom at her wit’s end, why can’t our first inclination be to offer her some help or an encouraging word?”

I love that. Assume the best, not the worst. Offer an encouraging word or to get more napkins from the dispenser. Willis’ practical, biblical style will bless and encourage the young mommas who read this book.

My Takeaway

Again, I’m not a mother yet, but as I read this book, I realized that the “peace pirates” Willis identifies can steal our peace, not matter what our life stage.

My personal takeaway is to not make excuses for issues like pride, comparison, and unrealistic expectations but deal with them now. Don’t wait until you’re a mother and feeling “less than” other mothers because your child isn’t perfect. Don’t wait for your child to graduate to realize that you “missed out” on priceless moments because you were so concerned with looking the part.

Wherever we are in our journeys (single adults, young marrieds, young mothers, empty nesters, etc.), let’s ask God to show us what “pirates” are trying to steal our peace. Then, let’s make it a matter of prayer to defeat them and pursue joy right where we are.

Enter the Giveaway

I wish I had a dozen copies of this book to give each of the young mommas I know. Since I don’t, I’m still excited to give away the one autographed copy I have.

To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment. You can share why you think this book would be an encouragement to you or a young mother you know. Or, if you’re a young momma barely holding it together, you could just say something like, “I want to fight the peace pirates!” I’ll announce the winner on the blog next week.

~ Kristen

Special thanks to the Blog About Blogger Network for hosting this giveaway.

Peace Pirates by Ashley Willis: Book Review & Giveaway by @kjhogrefe

Giveaway Winner!

Congrats to Bethany on winning the hard copy of Peace Pirates by Ashley Willis! Thank you to everyone who participated.

Author Chat with Lindsay A. Franklin on Her Weaver Trilogy

Have you ever talked to someone ONCE and come away thinking, “Wow, she’s so cool but totally down to earth, and I think we could be friends in real life?” That’s how I feel about award-winning author Lindsay A. Franklin. Although I’ve never had the privilege of meeting her in person, the emails we’ve exchanged make me hope that our paths will cross one day.

For now, though, I’m thrilled for you to meet her right here on the blog as she shares about her Christian fantasy series, The Weaver Trilogy, and its epic conclusion, The Story Hunter, releasing today.

Q: What inspired the fantasy element of “story strands” and the concept of “weaving stories” as being a special power some characters possess?

The series was inspired by the phrase “story peddler,” which I heard an acquisitions editor say in a workshop about the publishing process. She was referring to selling manuscripts to her publishing board, but I wondered what it might be like to be a “story peddler” in a world where art was magic and “story” had to be something a traveling peddler (in the more traditional sense) might sell—something physical. Why strands that solidify into crystal? I have no idea! It just came out of my imagination that way.

Q: Who is one of your favorite characters from the Weaver Trilogy and why?

I have a lot of favorite characters in this story, even when I’m forcing them to make terrible decisions (Brac comes to mind there). Digwyn is the most personal to me, as her story is the most based on mine, but something personal is poured into each of them. My love for my father is in Yestin. My close relationship with my daughter is in Tannie (on whom I based Tanwen, back when my daughter was only five). Kharn’s easygoing nature and his dorky dad jokes are a wink at my beloved husband. There’s a little something I love (or love to hate in some cases!) in each of them.

Q: The characters in your stories experience the loss of friends and family throughout their journeys. When Tanwen asks how she can make the loss stop hurting, she’s told, “It’s supposed to hurt. Because people matter. And when we lose them, it hurts. It leaves a void.” Why do you think this truth is so important to include in fiction, and how do you think it can help readers who have experienced loss?

It’s human nature to try to avoid pain. It leads to a lot of unhealthy coping mechanisms. Avoidance. Denial. Numbing. I think it’s important to accept that some things are supposed to hurt. Life is hard. Our world is fallen. Pain is inevitable. Doctors tell us physical pain is important because it shows us where the injury is, where the disease lies, what’s broken. Emotional pain is the same. Allowing yourself to ride those waves of pain, rather than trying futilely to fight against or ignore them, is the beginning of processing your grief so you can heal and one day move into your new normal—one that will always honor and in some sense grieve the ones you lost but will allow you to live on without them.

Q: An important topic The Story Hunter explores is choosing forgiveness over revenge. Why do you think this message is so powerful, not only for a fiction story like this one, but also in real life?

Forgiveness can be profoundly difficult to practice. By nature, I’m a bit justice obsessed, to be honest. We have a long-running joke in my family of origin. When I was two or three years old, my older sister hit me and was made to apologize. She bounced over to me and threw out a flippant, “Sorry!” I glared at her and said, “The main thing is you did it.” It was utterly shocking and offensive to me that my parents expected me to forgive her just because she said she was sorry. It didn’t erase what she’d done in the first place! So, “The main thing is you did it” became something of catchphrase in our family—usually to poke fun at how ridiculously difficult it was for me to forgive someone who had wronged me.

But when I became a Christian at eighteen, everything changed. I was suddenly sharply aware of my own sin—the many ways I failed on a daily basis, and how woefully desperate I was for God’s grace. Because of Jesus’s atoning sacrifice, God never says, “The main thing is you did it” when we ask for forgiveness. He offers complete forgiveness freely, and it has been my life’s goal to model that in my life whatever way I can. Vengeance merely compounds wrongs. It doesn’t bring healing, it doesn’t bring peace. Vengeance says, “I want you to hurt because I hurt.” Forgiveness sets the offender and the offended free.

Q: Can you hint about what next project you have in the works?

Well…I can tell you it’s a YA portal fantasy, and my research will involve reading and rereading many classic works of literature. The project “code name” is Cosmic Library, which is fantastically terrible. I promise to think of a better title than that!! 😊

Meet author Lindsay A. Franklin who talks about her Weaver Trilogy, latest release, and the power of forgiveness. @kjhogrefe

About the Author

Lindsay A. Franklin is a Carol Award–winning author, freelance editor, and homeschooling mom of three. She would wear pajama pants all the time if it were socially acceptable. Lindsay lives in her native San Diego with her scruffy-looking nerf-herder husband, their precious geeklings, three demanding thunder pillows (a.k.a. cats), and a stuffed marsupial named Wombatman. She’s @LinzyAFranklin on Instagram and Twitter, and is also on Facebook.

About The Story Hunter, Book 3 in The Weaver Trilogy

Redeeming the past is a fatal quest.

In the wake of a deadly coup, the capital city of Urian has descended into chaos. Heartbreak and bloodshed await Tanwen and her friends as they discover the unlikeliest leader now rules Tir.

If they want to save the realm, Tannie and the Corsyth weavers must rescue Queen Braith and unmask the Master, ending the strife once and for all. But the success of their hunt depends upon an ally no one trusts.

The Master has a new target in sight: fragile, trauma-scarred Digwyn, whose unique weaving ability could turn the tide of any war. When the desire for vengeance proves too powerful for Digwyn to resist, Tanwen must face a terrifying truth: the fate of Tir rests in the hands of a volatile, shattered girl.


The Better Yes: Beating Your Fear of Missing Out

One of my greatest joys as an author has come through getting to know other writers, and Jerusha Agen is one of those writers. Although we’ve never met in person, I’ve read some of her inspirational suspense novels and had the privilege of writing for her Fear Warrior blog. Recently, she invited me to be a guest blogger again and share what’s on my heart that might encourage readers who are facing their fears.

Below is a re-post of my piece that published on The Fear Warrior blog today. You will definitely want to hop over to The Fear Warrior blog to take advantage of a giveaway I’m offering there as well as to check out Jerusha’s other outstanding content.

Post from The Fear Warrior Blog

Have you ever had to pass up a good opportunity? Maybe you weighed your options, and at the time, that prospect wasn’t a good fit for you. Then later, looking back, you wonder if you made the right call.

I’ve been there. Like most writers, I work a day job as well. The challenge for me—and anyone else who has a side hustle—is finding enough hours for work, family, obligations, and the passion that keeps me up at night.

I’ll never forget when two people in the writing industry invited me to be part of their new venture. It had so much potential for growth, but it was on commission. I had a mortgage to pay and had just started driving about forty minutes every week to be part of a singles Bible study. I couldn’t afford to leave my job, which meant I’d be working nights and weekends—and would have to give up the Bible study. In the end, I said thanks but no.

Fast forward to today. That venture has indeed grown and led to some amazing opportunities for those involved. I’m happy for them, yet part of me wonders if I made the wrong choice.

As I was sharing my doubts with my husband, he asked, “Okay, you said no to that opportunity, but what did you say yes to instead?” It was such a good question! I realized I’d said yes to the Bible study, which led me to join that church group, which led me to meeting him. In short, I said no to one opportunity so I could say yes to another—and ultimately yes to my husband.

Perspective #1: Provision, Not Perfection

I share this story to offer some perspective, which is sometimes hard to find. When doubts and discouragement plague us, we have to fight that fear of missing out with truth.

One of my favorite promises is Psalm 138:8, which says, “The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever; Do not forsake the works of Your hands” (NKJV).

I love the idea that God cares about what matters to me and is “perfecting” a good work in my life. However, let’s not confuse “perfecting” with “perfect.” The former carries the idea of an ongoing work in progress. As a writer, I know how messy that process can be. Rough drafts are riddled with problems that need attention. That “perfecting” or revising process takes time. Even when I finish a book, I’d never call it “perfect.”

Yet as human beings, we crave perfection and often unrealistically compare ourselves to unachievable standards. When we do, we run ragged and become ineffective.

Let’s be content with God’s perfecting work, which realistically requires us to prioritize. We can’t say yes to everything. We are the work of His hands, and when we are intentional in following His leading, He can make something beautiful out of the raw material.

Perspective #2: Providence, Not One-Hundred Percent

Another promise from Scripture reminds us that following God’s will doesn’t mean realizing one hundred percent of our dreams. “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds him with His hand” (Psalm 37:23-24 NKJV).

Did you catch that? The verse begins with the assumption that we’re talking about a “good man” or godly person here. God directs the decisions of and delights in the person who is seeking His will.

However, this believer will still fall. I think we sometimes forget this reality. Even God’s children face failures, disappointments, and defeats. The difference is that God won’t forsake us and will stand by us through it all. He “upholds” or supports us with His hand.

When we choose to follow Christ, the most important decision we could ever make, we are not guaranteed one-hundred percent success in this life. If you’ve been following a name-it-and-claim-it “gospel” that suggests otherwise, you’ve been misled. Following Jesus means we believe in His providential wisdom and care over our lives, not a guarantee of our dreams and goals being met.

The truth is that God works through the imperfections and setbacks—all those “missed out” moments—to make us more like Him. The closed doors encourage us to lean on him harder and deepen our relationship with Him, which is so much more valuable than any lost opportunities. 

Perspective #3: Protection, Not Freedom from Problems

The point of the Christian faith is not that we will enjoy a life free from problems but that we can experience God’s protection—and direction—through them. Yes, we will miss out on opportunities. Yes, we will fail where other people succeed.

Yet sometimes, God’s refusals are His mercies, and He allows us to hear “no,” so that He might give us a better “yes” later. In the moment, grasping that truth can be difficult, but in the long-term, we are so much better off.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (NKJV). God desires our good, and His plans for us far transcend any fear of missing out we may experience.

The next time your mind wanders to “what ifs” and fear that you’ve lost your chance, may I encourage you to stop and reflect on all the blessings you have before you. In my case, my husband reminded me that saying no to one opportunity meant saying yes to something far more important: the answer to my prayer for a spouse. We never know how God may use a “no” in our lives to pave the way for a better “yes.”

We never know how God may use a “no” in our lives to pave the way for a better “yes.” @kjhogrefe

~ Kristen

The Revisionary Gets Featured on Grace Filled Fiction Spotlight, Spring 2020

I’m excited to share that The Revisionary was selected for the Grace Filled Fiction Spotlight this spring! Enjoy this interview about how my dystopian fiction remains relevant for today and what else I have in the works.

Q:  What is your latest release/release you chose to spotlight, and what would you like us to know about it? What take away? If its theme is pertinent to the time of year or a holiday that’s coming up, mention that.  

Kristen:  THE REVISIONARY presents the theme of finding hope for tomorrow, a timely message given the uncertainty so many are facing today. My heroine Portia sets out to save her brother from a satellite prison camp, but ultimately realizes she needs rescuing herself. Her search for the true Source of hope leads her on an adventure of rediscovering America’s godly heritage that her government has suppressed.

Q:  Please tell both fiction readers and writers what your writing journey has been like. How long have you been seriously writing? What have you learned? Did you experience anything unexpected? What has been your greatest joy?

Kristen: My writing journey has been an adventure of its own! I’ve been writing seriously since college and have learned so much in the process: from self-publishing to working with a traditional publisher. A teacher at heart, I’ve adopted a “teach-as-you-go” style that has involved sharing my experiences at writer’s conferences and online courses. My greatest joy has come through meeting readers and building friendships with other writers.

Click here to read the complete interview. Special thanks to the board at Grace Filled Fiction Spotlight for this opportunity!

~ Kristen

The Revisionary by Kristen Hogrefe ~ Grace Filled Fiction Spotlight, Spring 2020

The Marriage Ark: Review & Giveaway!

Are you single seeking a relationship, dating, engaged, or married? If you fall into any of those categories, The Marriage Ark is relevant for you. Author Margaret Phillips, a licensed marriage and family therapist, uses Noah’s ark as a metaphor for building a marriage that will last.

The preparation, choosing a foundation to build, applies to any reader, single or someone with a significant other. She makes the case that before we can do anything else to ensure a strong, healthy relationship, we must first examine ourselves. She says, “When I think of preparing the ground for marriage-the building site-I find the site is YOU. Yes, you and the heart you bring. You, consisting of body, soul, and spirit. Marriage starts where YOU are.”

I couldn’t agree more. When I was single, I had a Sunday school class teacher once tell me, “In order to find the right person, you have to BE the right person.” In other words, are you personally ready for a relationship? For example, have you forgiven anyone who has wronged you, dealt with any “secrets” in your past, and addressed any sins or addictions in your life that could damage a relationship? Phillips includes a personal inventory checklist to help readers survey the “land” where they plan to build a relationship. These questions are poignant and so very important to ask BEFORE the ceremony.

As with a relationship, there are stages. Preparation is the first, and then Phillips extends the metaphor to the other phases of building the ark. She talks about the “Pitch” or the covenants, vows, and commitments that will hold a marriage together. From there, she discusses the building tools or your family background, the nuts and bolts of communication and conflict, an honest look at intimacy, differences between the sexes, and more.

The length of the book is also achievable for those who love reading and those who don’t. Something my Sunday school class laughs about is that, more often than not, one partner loves reading resources to help their marriage while the other views reading as torture. At just over 100 pages, broken down into nine chapters, this book won’t overwhelm the partner who doesn’t find reading enjoyable so both partners can appreciate it.

Enter to Win Your Copy

I’m grateful to the Blog About Blogger Network for hosting this giveaway and providing the opportunity for me to give away one hardback copy of The Marriage Ark.

To enter, you can do several things:

  1. Comment on this post and share why you think this book would be an encouragement to you or someone you know.
  2. Share the tweet below on Twitter.
  3. Share the related Facebook post on my author page. Be sure to tag me!
  4. Subscribe to my newsletter to learn about future giveaways and posts that will encourage you in your daily life.
  5. Do more than one to be entered multiple times. The winner will be announced here on the blog next week.

One of my favorite takeaways from this book (and there are so many good ones) is that we are responsible for our actions. No matter what our family background or “blueprint” looked like, whether it was a broken home or a beautiful one, we get to “create a new ark for ourselves as adults,” as Phillips says. I love that idea, because so often, people make excuses for themselves based on what happened to them. But that’s a wrong perspective. The past may have shaped us, but it doesn’t define us.

Husbands and wives, we get to choose how strong our marriage arks will be. With God’s help, they can withstand any storm that comes our way.

~ Kristen

The Marriage Ark: Giveaway & Review by @kjhogrefe! Learn how to secure your marriage no matter what storms come your way.

And the giveaway winner is …

Congratulations to Linda for winning The Marriage Ark giveaway and thank you to everyone who participated!

Author Chat with Morgan L. Busse on her Ravenwood Saga

Last year, I discovered Morgan as an author when both our novels were finalists in the 2019 Selah Awards for Speculative Fiction. Her Mark of the Raven later took first place (so well-deserved). The Ravenwood Saga has made her my new favorite fantasy author, and today, it is my absolute pleasure to welcome her as a guest to the blog! In this interview, you can catch her heart for writing, for her readers, and for “the Light.”

Q: What prompted you to write this fantasy series?

All of my books start with a scene that I see in my head. For The Ravenwood series, I saw a young woman assassin standing over the bed of young man. I knew he was important, and I could tell she was hesitating to fulfill her mission. So I started asking who was she? How did she get to this point? Who was the young man? Why was he important? Why was there a target on his life? From that scene Selene’s story grew into what it is today: The Ravenwood Saga.

Q: Selene’s dreamwalking ability is such a creative twist on special powers. Did something inspire you to invent her skill, and if so, what was it?

There are a lot of assassin stories out there, so I wanted to make this one different. Then I thought, what if she had some other power? One of my favorite cartoons to watch with my kids is My Little Pony. The job of one of the royal sisters is to watch over the dreams of the other ponies at night. The moment I saw that episode, I knew what Selene’s power was: to walk in dreams. But it had been corrupted, and her story would be her journey to bring her family’s power back to what it was supposed to be: protecting the dreams of people.

Q: Who is your favorite character from the Ravenwood Saga and why?

Ooo, that is a hard one. Of course I love Selene: her struggle with figuring out who she is and if there is anything redeemable about her abilities. I also love Damien’s quiet but fierce love for both his people and eventually Selene. And of course I love Lady Bryren, the leader of the wyvern riders. She’s a firecracker and a fun character to write about!

Q: Selene and Damien have to grow up quickly due to their circumstances and their life or death decision at the end of book one (no spoiler). Why do you think it is important for young adult fiction to present strong, vulnerable characters who must make hard choices?

Becoming an adult means facing hard choices, and the path we choose many times determines the adults we become. I wanted to show through Selene that we always have a choice in who we become, that we are not bound to the choices our family has made. And by choosing to walk away from the wrong choices our family has made can change not only ourselves, but eventually our family, and our world. Damien is an example that there are strong young adults who are selfless leaders.

Q: What do you hope readers will take away from this saga?

Hope and strength. That each step toward the light is worth it. That when we give up ourselves, we save not only ourselves but those around us.

Q: How did you first discover your writing ability, and how have you seen God use it in unexpected ways?

I never wanted to be a writer. I loved reading and that’s it. But my husband continued to encourage me to write. So I finally gave in (he’s quite the persistent cheerleader!). When I write a book, I pray for the person who needs to read it and that God would help me write the message that person needs to hear. And with every book, I get at least one email from someone who needed that story at that time. Last week, there was a young woman who received an advance copy of Cry of the Raven (the last book), and the day she finished the book, her grandmother passed away. One of the themes of Cry of the Raven is dealing with the death of loved ones, and she wrote about how much this book is already helping her with the death of her grandmother.

Q: What advice would you give aspiring young writers?

One: study the craft of writing. Read books, go to the conferences, follow the newsletters of those who teach. Two: write, write, write! You only become good by practicing. A friend of mine once said that most people need to write a million words before they start writing something worth reading. Third: live life. Don’t forget to spend time with your family, go for a walk, enjoy life. The writing is always there, but if you aren’t living, you will have nothing to write about.

Q: Can you hint about what next project you have in the works?

Yes! I’m currently working on a new steampunk series and am already halfway through the first book. The series is currently dubbed The Plague Wars. Here is a quick blurb:

In a world covered in a deadly mist that forces humanity to live in the sky, Cass escapes the purges and survives by her wits until she stumbles onto the airship Daedalus and finds a job as a diver. As a diver, she explores the ruined cities within the mist, searching for treasure and family heirlooms for the rich. But everything changes when a young man hires her to find the very thing that will turn their world upside down: a way to eradicate the mist.

Theodore Winchester is a member of one of the five powerful families that rule the sky over the mist. Following in his father’s footsteps, he searches for the source of the deadly mist that turns people in the undead and hopes to stop the purges used to control over-population. But what he finds are secrets and ambition, and with each question comes horrifying answers. If he continues his search, not only will he encounter opposition, but perhaps even his own death.

But the mist is rising, and if a remedy isn’t found soon, the entire world will be enveloped in its deadly embrace, turning all of humankind into monsters.

Ready to find your next favorite fantasy series? Meet author Morgan L. Busse who shares about her award-winning Ravenwood Saga.

About the Author

Morgan L. Busse is a writer by day and a mother by night. She writes fantasy and steampunk novels and sometimes dabbles in science fiction. She is the author of the critically acclaimed Follower of the Word series, The Soul Chronicles, and award-winning Ravenwood Saga. When she’s not writing, she loves to play games, take long walks, and dream about her next novel.

About Cry of the Raven, Book 3 in the Ravenwood Saga

Lady Selene Ravenwood has come into her full power as a dreamwalker just as the war with the Dominia Empire begins. Working with the other Great Houses, Selene and Damien use their gifts to secure the borders and save those devastated by the war. But conflict, betrayal, and hatred begin to spread between the Great Houses, destroying their unity as the empire burns a path across their lands. At the same time, Damien Maris starts to lose his ability to raise the waters, leaving the lands vulnerable to the empire’s attacks.

The only one who can unite the houses and restore her husband’s power is Selene Ravenwood. But it will require that she open her heart to those who have hurt her and let go of her past, despite the one who hunts her and will do anything to stop her power.

Will Selene survive? Or is she destined to fall like the dreamwalkers before her?

Tales of the Lonely Sun Blog Tour

I am so excited to introduce you to today’s guest blogger, Jorja Ayres! Please join me in welcoming Jorja to the blog. This teen writer and her friends are striving to raise the bar for young adult fiction, and today, she shares her reason “why” and a writing tip for other aspiring young writers.

Guest Post by Jorja Ayres

Hi, everyone! My name is Jorja Ayres, and I’m one of the writers on Tales of the Lonely Sun. TotLS is a writing and reading blog that focuses on sharing and creating stories that shine bright in our dark world. This post is part of our blog tour. If you want to find out who else is a part of the tour, enter a bookish giveaway, or read some of our posts, click here.

Why Do I Write?

I’m a writer. I’ve written blog posts, short stories, and am working on a novel. The question is: why? Why do I spend hours upon hours every week punching buttons on my laptop’s keyboard? Well, it’s the same reason that pianists press black and white keys and artists drag graphite and wax across paper. To try and create something beautiful. For me, though, there is more to it. I am part of the group of people in this world that use their creativity to create things that bring glory to God. My way of doing that is writing clean fiction with good themes and messages of hope. Whether you are a writer or not, I encourage you to think about your “why.” Psalm 119:59 says, “When I think on my ways, I turn my feet to your testimonies” Self reflection when it comes to hobbies or jobs can help us realign our lives with God’s will. 

How Do I Write?

Part of the mission of Tales of The Lonely Sun is to help people write stories that stand apart from the dark and hopeless stories that are becoming more and more common in today’s world. A common struggle is not knowing where to begin. Coming up with an idea for a writing project can be difficult, especially because inspiration tends to disappear as soon as it is sought out. 

One quick way to get creative gears turning, and come up with original ideas, is to use a random word generator. Generate random words and craft a story out of them. I recommend this word generator, because it lets you choose the parts of speech you want your words to be.

As an example, I got these five words from a generator: infamous, pocket, pass, typical, and airport. Different people would come up with different stories for these words, but my mind immediately jumped to a spy story. Combining all of the words into one sentence describes a scene: A typical looking woman in an airport passes a man who slips a piece of paper into her pocket containing information on an infamous criminal. To fill this sentence out into a story, we start asking questions. Who is the woman? Why is she a spy? Does she know the man who gave her the note? If she does, what is their history? Why is she the one getting the information on this criminal? What is her history with this criminal? Already a plot starts to emerge. Asking more questions leads to a more developed story. 

Once you have a general story idea, you must make decisions on how you want the story to go. One major step in this process to identify the theme you want to include in your story. What do you want the character(s) and readers to learn from the story? Your theme should be something you are passionate about, something you want to shout from the rooftops. This will give your story meaning; it will give you your “why.”  

Whether it’s the theme of your story or the anthem for your season in life, having a Christ-centered reason for whatever project you are undertaking makes all the difference. 

About Jorja Ayres

Jorja Ayres (pronounced Georgia Airs) is a 15 year old Christian writer, reader, and fangirl. Her hope is to help the readers of Tales of the Lonely Sun navigate around some of the beginner mistakes that she has made, as well as share some writing hacks that made things simpler for her. Her dream is to one day be able to give her readers the same feelings that she has experienced when reading some of her favorite books, as well as share positive themes that shine bright in this dark world.

She lives in Southern Arizona with her family, dogs, and hedgehog.