Pithea Released!

Pithea cover, Kindle

My first full-length novel, book 1 in a series of futuristic speculative fiction with a Christian worldview, is now available to purchase as both an e-book and a paperback! What a momentous occasion for me, which I’ve been building toward for 10 years! See synopsis below and go here to buy the e-book or here to purchase the paperback.

Pithea on Goodreads

PITHEA

In the near future, a devastating global war leads to a worldwide ban on the use of all technology. A few hundred years after the war, a sort of magic—called the Power—manifests in every living person. Thousands of years later, the Power has become a part of everyday life in the country of Pithea.

Missy Seeger is struggling to find her place in the world. She reluctantly decides to follow in the footsteps of her well-known and well-respected father. As other options begin to call out to her, she can’t let go of the need to please him.

Naolin Dark knows exactly what he wants to do with his life. He finds the adventure and excitement of life in his local militia, with a sword strapped to his side, to be the only worthy path. The primary goal of Pithean militias is to protect the country’s citizens from animals afflicted by the Madness, and Naolin is eager for his chance to prove himself.

In this account told by Naolin’s brother and spanning over two years, Missy’s and Naolin’s abilities, ideals, and even bodies are put to the test in many ways as they are forced to deal with villains and monsters that are made possible—and all the more dangerous—by the Power and the Madness.

Book Review: Stealth Power

Finished Reading: Stealth Power
Nanostealth #2
by Vikki Kestell

My rating: 4 / 5
Genre: Christian sci-fi thriller

Stealth Power.png

Spoiler notice: The following review will contain some spoilers for the first book in the series, Stealthy Steps.

Picking up immediately where the previous book left off, Gemma hides out in a safe house while planning to rescue Dr. Bickel, along with another monumental task that presents itself as the story goes on. The only trouble is…she’s still invisible. She must learn the best ways to navigate a visible world, while also learning to co-exist with the nanotechnology that she has so far fought against, if she’s going to accomplish her goals–and get her life back.

I definitely enjoyed this book more than the first. Most of the information is out there (being dumped into the first book), and we’re left with just the continuing story of Gemma and the mites (good band name, no?). The relationships that we were introduced to in the first book were continued enough to make me happy, with the addition of a new character who became one of my favorites. The writing style isn’t my favorite, but in the end, I was glad to have read this, and look forward to seeing where the story goes from here.

Gemma herself bugged me during a lot of this book. I mentioned in my review of the first book that she came across like a petulant child, and that only got worse in this one. The sections from her POV (which is most of the book) was immature, and I didn’t always enjoy it. I know there was a lot of really unpleasant stuff happening to her, but even while she was growing stronger in many ways, boy, did she whine a lot.

The associate pastor, Zander, was probably my favorite character from the first book. That took a small turn for me in this book, as his character came across as simply a vehicle for preaching Christ to the other characters, and to the reader. I’m not saying there aren’t people in real life who would have talked exactly as he did, but he became a bit confrontational when talking to Gemma’s evil twin sister, and I felt it was a bit much. My favorite character in this one, then, was the new guy in this book, an FBI agent.

My favorite thing about the first book was Gemma trying to communicate with the mites, and that really expanded in this book. Even while she groused at and about them, I really liked them. Maybe that’s the under-emotional side of me, to identify more with the computer than the human. My least-favorite thing about the first book was the exposition, and Gemma’s repeating of the exposition, and there was some of that in this one, but not nearly as much. The author did, however, have a tendency to recall back to a previous conversation later on, and she would pretty much always include twice as much of the original conversation as was needed.

In the end, I think it’s really the writing style that detracts the most from this series from me so far. The characters and plot I am enjoying more than enough to make up for that though. I need to try to put less time between this one and the next one than I did the first book and this one, though, because there was little in the way of reminders to what happened before. I started out really lost! Like with Stealthy Steps, I would recommend the book to fans of Christian mysteries & thrillers and lovers of this type of sci-fi.

Find out more about Stealth Power

See what’s coming up.

If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!

Writing Wednesday: Prompt

WW Prompt

Here’s today’s Writing Wednesday Prompt:

setting (1)

Examples of ways to use this picture seed:

1. Write a scene that takes place in this setting.

2. Write a setting description based on the above picture. Try to include all five senses. Whatever your instincts or preferences for setting and detail, try to over-exaggerate the scene.

If you write something from this prompt, by all means let me know! Feel free to share what you wrote, if you want!

**If you’re looking for more like this, you might want to check out the story seeds posts I wrote for NaNoPrep a few years ago. They are not specific to NaNoWriMo, and each contains a list of several different types of prompts or ways to generate story ideas. You can find them here: Story Seeds 1, Story Seeds 2, Story Seeds 3, Story Seeds 4**

Notebook Collection, part 5

I don’t know why I got it into my head that I needed to share every notebook I bought on my blog. It’s probably part of being obessed with buying them. I want to share them, and the story behind them, with others!

If anyone is interested in the previous posts as my collection grew: the first 12 notebooks, the next 10, 6 more, and another 5. And now here are the next 5 additions:

6

Box Lunch is my favorite of all the “geek stores” at our local mall, mostly because it is so focused on things from my childhood (A Goofy Movie, Aristocats, The Rescuers), on top of the more recent Disney movies, and many other popular fandoms. I found this notebook in the clearance section. The cover of this half-size notebook has lenticular printing, which sort of makes it look like Mario’s trying to dodge barrels if you tilt the book up and down.


7

This is from the same visit to Box Lunch. You may recognize the look if you’ve seen the movie Up. It’s about the same size as a full-size notebook, though the length and width are swapped (not even my first notebook with that shape). The front and back cover are actually tied on with that string you see there, which worried me at first, imagining the pages falling out. But the pages are bound together, so I think it’s safe.


8a

At a bargain store, I found an incredibly interesting notebook that was labeled a “novel journal” (not the one shown here). It was based on the book Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I’ve seen an adaptation, but not read the book, so I looked around the area where I found it for an edition I could connect with more, since the label mentioned some other novels that I would have preferred. I didn’t find any, but I still loved the notebook, so I bought it.

8bA few weeks later at Half Price books, I found a few more varieties of novel journals, so with a little deliberation, I bought the Sherlock Holmes edition. Shown in the right picture, the lines are actually comprised of text from the stories, which is what makes these journals so cool!

(Side note: I gave the Jane Eyre version to my sister, who actually has read the book.)


9aWhile considering the previous notebook at Half Price Books, I saw this book nearby. I mentioned in the previous notebook post that I seem to like notebooks with maps on them, and this was no exception.  9b Besides the Tolkien quote on the front, it’s filled with other quotes about adventure, presumably because it’s meant to be a travel journal.


Finally for this batch, this cute half-sized, skinny notebook was a gift from my in-laws for Christmas. I don’t know if it was intentional, but the words on the front were quite appropriate, because my husband and I love escape rooms (and I used to work at one, and while I worked there, we had this expression put on a t-shirt). My mother-in-law went a step further, too, and wrote on the first few pages–a dedication, then some quotes about writing, and to the third page she taped the print-out shown in the right picture above.

I’m now caught up on sharing my notebooks, and I’ve been trying really hard not to get any more. But the only real way to avoid it is to stop going to the notebook section in stores that I visit…and I like to look at them. If I used them more quickly, I might not mind it so much, but it’s so much easier to type than to write in a notebook, as much as I love writing by hand. Anyway…

Do you collect anything related to reading or writing? Feel free to share!

Weekly Writing Update: January Week 2

This is my first update in a little over a month, mostly due to holidays and family being in town for a few weeks past that. I did work on a few things here or there throughout that time, mostly minor changes to Pithea before publishing day.

With that done and out now, I need to focus on book #2 all the more. So 2 days ago I delved back into the 2nd draft. I’d left off in a spot that I was struggling with, which is never a good idea. Fortunately, I was able to tackle it and have some ideas for how to end the scene I’m on, add depth to a character that I’m only just starting to use more fully, and avoid having the MC seem like he’s the only one with any convictions.

I’m really looking forward to finishing this draft and getting some opinions on it. I know that this will be miles ahead of where Pithea was by this point, which is good, because I would like to be able to release it a lot faster than I did Pithea (which went through many drafts). I also need to work on book #3, because I’m considering releasing it very shortly after book #2 (I won’t explain why right now though, it’s just an idea so far).

Book Review: The Gray Chamber

Finished Reading: The Gray Chamber
by Grace Hitchcock

My rating: 3.5 / 5
Genre: Historical Christian romance, crime

In a time period where women are expected to marry well in order to secure their future, Edyth Foster is fortunate enough to be self-sufficient, due to an inheritance that her late parents left her. Unfortunately, it is left in her uncle’s care until she turns 25. Not long before that happens, he realizes that he can steal her money if he gets her declared insane and sends her off to a lunatic asylum–which is just what he does. Edyth must figure out a way to escape or prove her sanity before the asylum takes her mind for real.

I enjoyed this book for the most part. The characters were mostly interesting, though this is the type of situation where I liked some of the side characters more than the main characters. The way the plot unfolded was fairly predictable, but there were enough surprises to keep it interesting.

This is the second book I have read in the True Colors series, and like the other one, despite being written by a different author, this one was far more focused on the romance than on the true crime plot line. Edyth’s plight to escape the asylum and her uncle’s grasp wasn’t just a vehicle for the romance, fortunately, but I still felt that the crime part of this book could have been stronger. I think this is further reflected in the fact that Edyth was not at the asylum long enough for her to be quite how she was later in the book (trying to be vague to avoid spoilers). This particular issue really may have just been my own opinion, and I am not saying that what she did suffer in the asylum would have been easy to handle. It just didn’t seem to be as severe as it was portrayed later.

I enjoy a good romance, especially if it’s clean and sweet. I prefer subtle, but with a romance-genre book, I rarely get that. This, however, is barely billed as a romance, yet was so far the opposite of a subtle romance plot, I got to a point where I didn’t care that much about the relationship between Edyth and Bane. It was so over-the-top sappy sweet, and just about all either of them seemed to ever think about was each other…it was just too much for me.

The official synopsis mentions a woman that Edyth meets in the asylum and her true identity, which frankly, I think was a mistake to explain in the synopsis. Her true identity is revealed so late in the story that it makes little sense to me that I knew it the entire time, simply because of the synopsis. This kind of thing always bugs me, but maybe it’s just a pet peeve.

As I said at the beginning of the review, the book wasn’t bad. I ended up scanning through some of the repetitive declarations of feelings between the to lead characters and didn’t feel like I missed much. The ending did drag on a bit, but I enjoyed it enough to say that I can recommend it for fans of Christian romance (heavy on the romance), but I wouldn’t recommend it too strongly for fans of crime novels.

Thank you to Netgalley and Barbour Publishing, Inc. for providing me a copy of this book to review.

Find out more about The Gray Chamber

See what’s coming up.

If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!

Book Review: I Want to Punch You in the Face But I Love Jesus

Finished Reading: I Want to Punch You in the Face But I Love Jesus
by Sherri Lynn

My rating: 5 / 5
Genre: Humor, Christian

I want to punch you.png

Radio show producer Sherri Lynn breaks the cultural taboo to not only discuss PMS, but to help women understand that they are not alone. Rather than pretend it doesn’t happen, or act like it’s not that big of a deal, or even accept that we women just need to handle it on our own, Sherri assures us that what is happening is real, it is a physical strain on our bodies, and it’s okay to acknowledge that.

I have been looking forward to reading this ever since I first heard about it, and it did not disappoint. Sherri Lynn is so funny even when she’s not talking about something that I relate so well to. The book is also filled with plenty of interesting insight as Sherri covers the basic topics associated with PMS like anger, tears, and cravings.

She speculates about PMS-influenced actions in the Bible, which I would love to know the truth about some day, because she makes some very good point. And there’s even a chapter about the men in our lives and how they don’t get it (but it’s not their fault) and often just want to help.

I really loved this book and while I didn’t relate to everything (I don’t lose control quite as badly as she does, for example), it was still on point. I have a feeling I will re-read it many times, and I will definitely pass it on to my female family members and friends. I recommend this to every woman, and honestly would suggest is be read by any man who wishes he could understand just a bit more and wants to know how he can help the woman in his life.

Find out more about I Want to Punch You in the Face But I Love Jesus

See what’s coming up.

If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!

 

Writing Wednesday: IWSG Jan 2020

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I’ll be honest–I love talking about my writing history. So today’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group question just begs to be answered. Here is the question posed for today’s IWSG post:
What started you on your writing journey? Was it a particular book, movie, story, or series? Was it a teacher/coach/spouse/friend/parent? Did you just “know” suddenly you wanted to write?

The journey I took to get to this point amuses me greatly when I look back at it. The furthest back I can remember (on this topic) is when I was about 10 years old. I wrote a story about a couple that adopted two girls. When I think back to this story, I remember it as much longer and grander than what it actually was. I typed the story on my parents’ Tandy 1000, and even wrote a sequel. A few years ago, we fired up that old computer and I happened to find the story:

The Nickersons

Apparently I didn’t like the space bar…

I actually remember how that story was supposed to end, but there wasn’t going to be much more to it.

I also remember being sent to an enrichment class in school, though I don’t remember how old I was at this point (late elementary school, I think), due to my penchant for making up stories. They wanted to encourage my creativity, and I was taken out of normal class time for it. There were two other kids in the class–one was was an amazing artist, and I don’t recall the other one’s talent.

Around the age of 14, I got even more ambitious and started to write a story that I anticipated being a full-length novel (full-length for middle grade fiction, at least), and the beginning of a series. The main characters were a set of twins (girl & boy), and I based a lot of the other characters on a lot of people I knew at that time. I never finished the first story, but I still have what I did write, in the below notebooks.

1

Overall, I think both of these dreams were inspired by series like The Baby-Sitters Club, Sweet Valley Twins, Addie McCormick, and Mandie books, as well as many other series and stand-alones I read back then.

Fast forward to high school, and my fiction writing dropped away. I wrote some poetry in high school, a few notable pieces, but nothing spectacular. I took a creative writing class in my junior year, I think it was. A few years ago, I dug up a reflection paper that I wrote at the end of that class where I stated that though I’d enjoyed writing the short story required for the class, I didn’t think I’d have a reason to write fiction again in the future. And I didn’t until I was inspired by a computer game.

Pithea cover, KindleMy first full-length novel, Pithea (which releases this Friday!!!), had its foundation as fanfiction for the game Ragnaok Online. This started about 15 years ago, and about 7 years ago I began the journey to use the characters and some of the basic plot lines and create my own world. Now, with book #1 about to come out and at least 7 more planned, I really can’t imagine not being a writer.

Wherever this book and series takes me, however big or small they turn out to be, I know I will always be a writer at heart, and really, I always have been.

For my fellow writers, what does your writing history look like?

IWSG Blog Hop, Powered by Linky Tools
Click here to enter your link and view other blogs in the IWSG…

Top Ten Tuesday: Anticipated Releases

It’s time for another Top Ten list from That Artsy Reader Girl. The topic today is “Most Anticipated Book Releases for the First Half of 2020.” As I’ve just gotten back into reading very heavily and am just getting used to keeping a TBR and learning what modern authors are even out there, not to mention whose writing I enjoy, I’m not really tuned into what is coming out soon. But that doesn’t mean I’m not anticipating reading some new releases, mostly as ARCs. So this list (of 7, not 10) will include mostly ARCs that I’ve been approved for, or some that I have recently requested and am still waiting on approval for, that come out within the next few months. It will also include 1 book that I’m just looking forward to releasing, and 1 special entry at the bottom that comes out this week.

1. The Gray Chamber by Grace Hitchcock
This actually came out on January 1, but that’s still the first half of 2020. I’m about 25% into this and enjoying it so far.

2. On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson
I’m not very proud to admit that this has been on my TBR since fall, and I keep putting it near the top of the list, then pushing it back for others. It releases (technically re-releases) on March 10, so I guess it never felt that urgent before. I really need to get to it, especially since book #2 in the series is going to be re-released soon as well.

3. This Light Between Us: A Novel of World War II by Andrew Fukuda
This is my third “old” ARC, having been on my list since mid-October. It releases today! I haven’t started it yet, but based on the synopsis and reviews, I’m looking forward to it.

4. The Blue Cloak by Shannon McNear
This is the first book on the list that I have requested as an ARC recently, but haven’t been approved yet. If I am, it will be the 3rd book in this series I’ll have read (all by different authors). It’s been an interesting series, and I will probably be going back to some of the earlier books at some point in the future (they’re all stand-alones). It releases on March 1.

5. The Land Beneath Us by Sarah Sundin
I just requested this ARC yesterday. I will absolutely read it one way or the other, as it sounds right up my alley in so many way! It releases on February 4.

6. The Truth about Us by Brant Hansen
Brant Hansen is my favorite radio personality. If you’re in the mood for a fun, clean, often random podcast that makes you think, check out the Brant & Sherri Oddcast. He also writes some books that combine faith and humor and make some interesting points. This book isn’t on Netgalley, though his two previous ones were, so I’ll keep checking; I’ll read it either way though. It releases on April 21.

7. Pithea by Kristi Drillien
In case it wasn’t clear from the top and side bar of my blog page, this is my book! It releases this coming Friday, and you’d better believe I’m excited about it! The Kindle version can be pre-ordered here, and on January 10th, a paperback version will also be available.

What new releases are you looking forward to in the next few months? Link your own list in the comments so I can check yours out too!

Notebook Collection, part 4

This will be my 4th post about my notebook collection. I planned to put this out several weeks ago, but the holidays got in the way. Of course, I’ve added even more since I realized I had enough to post about. I’m splitting them into 2 posts, but I’ll have to post the 2nd one soon, or I’ll have even more to add to it.

Truthfully, I am trying very hard to cut down on how many I get. The shelf where I keep them is full now, and I’m not exactly using them up quickly. It’s just so difficult when there are so many amazing notebooks out there! It really is an obsession…

Speaking of which, follow these links to see the first, second, and third posts about my collection. And now here are the next 5 additions:

1

I’ve actually had this notebook for years and recently found it on a different shelf. My mother-in-law gave it to me when I was first starting to collect notebooks (before I thought of it as a collection). It’s a cute little journal with a window in the front, inside which are actual dried flowers (well, they might be fake…I haven’t exactly opened it, but the point is that it’s not a 2-dimensional representation, but actual flowers inside).


2

This mini notebook with accompanying pen was a gift from my local library, when I took part in a display at a festival in our town. They had a couple of tables set up for local authors to sell books, promote themselves, and talk to the public about writing or publishing. It was the first time I’d ever done something like this, and paved the way for a slightly larger event at the library in the next city over.


3

My husband got this at a thrift store a month or so before Christmas, and I love the ugly Christmas sweater look. I’m also always happy to add to my collection at a bargain price. It’s a half-sized notebook that is thicker than most of my notebooks of the same size.

 


4a

4bWe have a plethora of places to get cheaply priced notebooks in my area, which I’m afraid is really a problem for me. During the Christmas shopping season, we went to a store that’s only open during that time and sells goods for really cheap. They had several notebooks that caught my eye. I decided to stick to only buying 2 (even though they were super cheap). I chose this one because of the gold fringe and sparkly page edges.


5The is the other notebook I got at the store mentioned above. It’s closer to a normal notebook size and spiral-bound, which will make it easier to write in. I’ve also noticed that I really like notebooks with maps on them, and I do live in Indiana, so it was easy to decide on.

 

 

I’ll have another post next week, and hopefully it will only include 5 notebooks. If there are more than 5, you’ll know how weak I really am…