Monthly Archives: July 2014

Interview with Author Tialla Rising

Tialla Rising is the charming authoress of Holding the Future Hostage, a Christian action/adventure with a sci-fi twist … does that sound exciting or what?!  She is currently working on its sequel, Where Shadows Lie.

Hope you enjoy getting to know her better! I know I have!

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Tialla, welcome to Finding the True Fairy Tale! It’s an honor to have you by for a chat! First of all, could you tell us a bit about yourself? Hobbies, history, family, eye color … shoe size 😉

Hi, Ashlee!  Thanks for having me.  Well, first and foremost, I’m a born-again Christian, and I strive to honor the Lord with the stories I write.  I published my debut novel in 2012, graduated high school in 2013, and I’m *hoping* to publish my second novel autumn of 2014.  I live in the mountains of Arizona with my family (yes, mountains – where we have seventy degree weather in the summer and OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAsnow in the winter).

Aside from writing, I’m also a Marketing Representative for the website LetsHomeschoolHighSchool.com.  In my spare time, I work on my books, read and review novels, and – when I’m completely exhausted and just cannot work any longer – I provide job-security for Netflix.

I have green eyes, I’m 5’3” and I wear a women’s 7 ½ shoe size. 😉  I have a huge weakness for shoes, earrings, and summer dresses.  One strange fact about me: I always have to feel busy – and if I’m not crazy busy, I feel lazy.  I’ve burned myself out from this multiple times in the past year, but I just can’t break the habit.

If your present phase of life was a book, what genre would it be told in, and what would its title be?

Oh, this is tricky.  I suppose it would be in the Christian Fiction genre (nothing so exciting as action or drama), and I think the title would simply be, “Choices.”  I know that’s fairly vague, but…it fits.  At this point in time, I am confronted with essential choices regarding every aspect of my life.

I’ve wanted to be a writer for a long time – as long as I can remember, in fact, except for a short period where it was a toss-up between a carpenter and a ballerina… 🙂 What is the first thing you remember aspiring to as a young child? Was it being a writer – or something different altogether?

I didn’t even consider writing my own stories until I was eleven, so being a writer certainly wasn’t always on my list.  For the longest time, I wanted to be a veterinarian.  My parents even purchased multiple veterinarian computer games for me – which I adored.  I eventually grew out of that phase, though.  I think seeing the suffering animals is what did it for me – I love them too much to witness so many hurting and injured creatures.

Holding the Future Hostage (Tialla Rising)Your books, titled Holding the Future Hostage and Where Shadows Lie, sound fascinating! Are they part of a series, or standalones? Can you tell us a little about how your ideas for them came about and/or evolved?

Thank you!  I will more than likely end up making a trilogy out of these books – maybe even four books.  HTFH can definitely be standalone; however, WSL is a sequel.  I have been marketing it as a standalone as well, but after hearing back from one of my proofreaders, I’ve decided readers would understand it better if they read HTFH beforehand.  Fun fact: my third book *may* end up as a prequel.

The ideas for HTFH truly came as I wrote.  I didn’t outline anything, and I honestly had no idea what I was doing when I wrote the first draft (thank the LORD for revisions!).  I was only running on inspiration from a single photograph of a large rock formation, which I titled, “The Stone Megalith.”  I imagined a girl swimming in the water nearby, and everything grew from there.

My inspiration for WSL was much different.  Shawn was the second character to make an appearance in HTFH, and from that first moment, something about him attracted me.  In fact, I took a whole week away from editing HTFH to fill notebooks with “who Shawn is,” “where he comes from,” “why he is the way he is,” and so on.  He absolutely intrigued and fascinated me – I just had to tell his story.  However, HTFH wasn’t the place.  Once it was published, though, I knew without a doubt that my next book would tell Shawn’s story.  And that’s how Where Shadows Lie was born. 🙂

If you had to describe Shawn, your most recent main character, in just three words, what would they be?

Conflicted. Loyal. Determined.

When a reader closes the last page of your latest book, Where Shadows Lie, what message or feeling do you hope they will walk away with?

The message truly has several dimensions.

I would like for readers to know that no matter where they come from, and no matter how dark their past may be, God’s strength is powerful enough to lift the shadows – and also that even though God’s power is sufficient, it still takes work.  We have to *want* it – enough to not let anything stop us, even ourselves.  After all, if God is on our side, who can stand against us?

I also pray that readers come away with the feeling that even if they are drowning in the darkness, as long as they are pursuing God’s will, there is always a thread of hope.

I’ve made phone calls to strangers, I’ve done Google searches on grisly, embarrassing or disturbing things … all in the name of writing! Do you have a story about a crazy or quirky thing you’ve done to further your writing or creativity?

Ahh, what we do to add to the realism. 🙂

I suppose one of the more disturbing things I’ve done is when I asked my Dad about the very intricate process of how someone might go about extracting money from a stranger’s bank account without arousing suspicion (my father is a former police officer).

I’ve also contacted complete strangers in India to tell me about daily life there, as well as ask all my friends what qualifies a person as a “cool bad guy,” and if they could give any examples.  And LOTS of rather grisly Google searches (like, “can someone survive a stomach knife wound” and “how to assemble a shaped-charge car bomb”).

We writers have undoubtedly captured the government’s attention.

I won’t ask that dreaded question: “what’s your favorite book?”!!  But I would like to know if you could name three books (any genre or type) that you think everyone in the world would benefit from reading…

(The Bible is a given.)

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.  This is one of my absolute favorite books, and I do think everyone needs to read it.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.  This book is just so intense on so many levels…I really believe it’s a necessary read.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe.  This classic was incredibly hard to get through, but it has impacted me more than any other book, and I feel like it’s a story everyone needs to know.

Lastly, would you mind sharing a short excerpt from one of your books with us?

Sure!  Here is a bit of dialogue from my work-in-progress, Where Shadows Lie.

***

It wasn’t until we were nearly three blocks away that I realized what had happened.  I froze mid-step.  “Did he say trained killer?”

A smug expression crossed Jackson’s face.  “I was wondering when that would dawn on you.  You’re not actually going to take him up on that, are you?  Hiring an assassin seems a little…dramatic.”

I started walking again, and looked down, watching my feet.  I wasn’t sure what to think.  It did sound dramatic but…compared to everything Max had done to us, was it really such a bad idea?  No…well, if I didn’t get caught, that is.  I would not go back to jail.  Then again…I had decided to do everything to avoid prison because I didn’t want to lose Ginny.  I lost her anyway, so what was holding me back?  Get the guy off my back, serve time if I got caught, then get on with the rest of my life.

A hand on my shoulder stopped me.  I glanced up at Jackson; his eyes burned with determination.  “No matter how many enemies you eliminate, Shawn, there will always be someone ready to take his place.  Be careful what you choose.”

***

Thanks for having me, Ashlee!  This was so much fun.

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Tialla Rising Author Pic

Tialla Rising is a Christian young woman living with her family in the mountains of Arizona. She loves to write and will work long into the night developing her stories. Like most writers, Tialla spends her spare time reading. A good book, a stormy day, and an iced coffee comprise her favorite moments.

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Summer of Ups and Downs

Death …

The past weeks have included a lot of ups and downs around our house. For those of you who remember when we got our puppy, Pilot, a few months back, it pains me to say that we lost him just a couple of weeks ago. He died, we believe, of a disease young dogs sometimes get. Fine one day … horribly sick the next. My 7-year-old, my husband, and myself were (and are) heartbroken, to say the least. It’s a sad thing to lose your dog … and it’s a sadder thing to watch your child’s little heart break because of that loss. God certainly put a special place in people’s hearts for their pets, and Pilot will always be in ours.

Pilot and my little Bug were rarely apart.

Birth …

Several days after Pilot’s death, our cat, Princess Peach, had a kitten. Yes … just a single kitten! And this was, in fact, perfect. If there had been any more, we would have had to find homes for them. This way we get to keep our precious little kitty (named Toad). While the pain of Pilot’s death won’t end anytime soon, this new fluffy addition to our household has helped a small bit.

Our tiny Toad

 

First Drafts…

Having completed the first book of my new two-book project, I have been attempting to concentrate a bit more on finishing up the first draft of  Book 2. I’ve sent very, very rough synopses of both Book 1 and Book 2 to my agent, although I fear she may be a bit bewildered with the fractured and confusing way they were put together! These books are still in early stages, and they are the first books that aren’t stand-alones I have ever written – quite daunting! But the confusing synopses are only temporary … things will be ironed out during edits, as usual. It’s nothing some hard-core revisions and trusty beta readers won’t be able to handle!  My hope (fingers crossed!) is to have revisions completed, and finished drafts of both books in my agent’s hands, by the end of the year. Then I’ll be able to start talking a bit about them here on my blog! Can’t wait.

Introvert Overkill …

The past few weeks have been full of other things as well.

I got to visit for the day with a friend I hadn’t seen in more than four years.

One of my very close childhood friends got engaged!!

I spent a “girls” weekend with my cousins and sister (sans kiddos!), just shopping, watching movies, chatting, swimming and laughing ’til we cried.

And I am gearing up for my son to attend school. We home-schooled this past year, but decided a small local Christian school was the best choice this year. I’m sure my Bug will have no problems adapting … it’s Mom who will be the emotional mess during the first week of school!

So, yeah. A lot going on for this introverted girl 🙂  I’m just plain worn out.

How has your summer been going? What have you been up to? Relaxing in the sun … or something new and exciting?

Two Giveaways For THE WORD CHANGERS

giveaway

 

A short and sweet post letting you know that you’ve got TWO MORE opportunities to win a paperback copy of  The Word Changers!

Christian Bookshelf Reviews is hosting a giveaway right now, which will end on Thursday (7/17). That’s just three more days!

Author Heather Day Gilbert also has a giveaway for my book on her blog, so be sure to hop over there and enter your name while you’re at it! Hers goes through Sunday, I believe.

 

“Many people, myself among them, feel better at the mere sight of a book.”
― Jane Smiley

 

My Writing Process

I was tagged in this fun writing process blog tour by two of my favorite bloggers, Deborah and Sarah. So here we go!

What I am working on.

I recently finished the first draft of another YA fantasy, and am already about halfway through the sequel to it. When I’m finished with the sequel, my plan is to edit and revise both of the books at the same time. I also have a couple of short stories I hope to writehand writing soon (we’ll see if I have time!). In the midst of all of that, several weeks ago a brand new book idea (middle-grade fantasy this time!) dropped on me from nowhere, and I couldn’t help writing down a rough outline for it … I’m super excited about it, of course, although it will be a while before I can begin working on it.

How my work differs from others of its genre.

I love reading entertaining books, funny books, serious books, meaningful books. And though I’ve wanted to write books like that for as long as I can remember, I’ve always felt I couldn’t simply just write an entertaining story. My stories, as I hope my life does as well, point toward God. And I hope that they not only do that, but that they also tell my readers something new, or unsuspected, about their faith, God, or their relationship to Him.

Why I write what I write.

While I enjoy fantasy more than any other genre, I feel also that fantasy serves my purposes better – the purpose of reaching people in a way that’s not preachy or moralizing, but instead natural and even surprising. What could be more unexpected about a fantastical fairy tale world than finding a path leading you right back to your true home? I talk about why I write fantasy in more detail in this blog post, if you’re interested!

keyboardMy writing process.

My usual process for a book goes something like this:

  1. First draft (usually takes between 6-9 months)
  2. When finished with my first draft, I like to work on something completely different, or simply concentrate on reading, while my manuscript sits for 1-2 weeks.
  3. Now come the “big picture” revisions – that is, fixing structural things that don’t flow right, plot lines that are out of skew, character arcs that don’t work, scenes that are out of place or need to be cut altogether … etc.
  4. For my second round of revisions I normally concentrate on things like dialogue, descriptions, wording, flow, and grammatical errors.
  5. In the past I haven’t used beta readers – but that has changed! I look forward to being able to send my newer manuscripts to some trusted writers/friends who will be able to give me a sound critique of my work.
  6. After the beta readers have given their advice, and I have changed anything that needs to be changed, off goes the manuscript to my agent, and from there … who knows! Maybe more edits and revisions … maybe straight into the hands of editors or publishers.

Currently, as a stay-at-home mom, I don’t have an actual writing schedule I stick to. I wish I could! But it’s just impossible right now. This coming school year, though, I hope to implement a fairly strict writing routine, and to become more consistently productive. Daily word counts … here I come!

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I am supposed to tag others to post answers to these topics as well, but instead I’ll just leave it up to you. Any of my followers who would like to fill everyone in on their own writing process (if you write!), fire away! Leave your answers in the comments, or post it on your own blog and leave the link below. I look forward to hearing from you!

Interview with Author Sarah Scheele

Today I’m interviewing the lovely authoress, Sarah Scheele. She is the author of Alyce, a charming fairy tale retelling. Join us as she talks about her faith, unexpected lessons, and the character she would choose to move in next door to her …

I notice that you write a combination of a few genres: historical, fantasy, science fiction … what draws you the most to these genres? Is there a genre you haven’t written in yet that you’d like to try?

AlyceWith these genres I can emphasize characters. If I used a real setting, I would need to research—sometimes quite a bit—and it would distract from character creation. Fantasy was an obvious place to start, but I never felt quite natural handling magical props. So I switched into a historical-type setting that resembles southern Europe in the 18th century, but with some invented political situations. The science fiction stories are fewer, though they are actually my personal favorites.

I’m curious about the new field of early 20th century that has just opened up. (The “vintage” or “nostalgia” genre.) I’d love to explore that. Perhaps a twist of some kind, such as time-travel or an imaginary world, could give me an outlet into that era.  We’ll see . . .

How does your faith factor into your writing process or your books themselves?

With a few exceptions, my characters are already firmly established in their faith. I explore their daily lives in a religious family or community—clearly Christian no matter how it is labeled in the fantasy story—rather than focusing on spiritual struggles or conversion experiences. I’m also interested in how lack of sincerity and charity can correlate to stunning rudeness and littleness, which is surprisingly an issue even in the most devout circles.

If you have to choose one of the characters from any of your books to move in next door to you, who would it be? Why?   

Wow, that’s an interesting question! Probably Katia (and her brother Frank) from City of the Invaders. Katia is more like me, in Amulet (Sarah Scheele)some ways, than any character I’ve drawn so far, so I could really enjoy spending time with her.

Is there any book you’ve read that you wish you could have written yourself? Which one? Why?

Hmmm . . . The Canterbury Tales. Chaucer has an amazing gift for showing a huge diversity of people, very honestly, but also without being critical. Most authors (myself included) have a small cast of characters they use repeatedly. I don’t know if I could ever reach that level—outside of the real world God has created, almost no one has more diversity than Chaucer—but it’s something I admire.

What is an unexpected thing you’ve learned about yourself from writing?

I had thought that historical romance settings, even in juvenile fantasy, were too glamorous for me to attempt. But I’ve found the opposite is true. When I use historical costumes and situations, suddenly everything clicks into place. I’ve learned that I have been too afraid at times, assuming that things were out of my reach and belonged to other people. When I became more confident, I was surprised by the results.

If you could choose any writer, alive or dead, to have as a mentor, who would it be?

Probably two authors: Mary Stewart and Charles Dickens. Both have qualities I want to include in my work. Stewart is great at creating action plots that are glamorous, but still feel realistic, and Dickens had a rare ability to incorporate humor and social commentary without offending people. Learning to combine those two things would take my stories in a really good direction.

I was reading the blurb for your newest work, the novella Alyce, and it looks so amazing! Can you tell me a bit about how you were inspired to write the Cinderella story in this original way?

I was drawn years ago to retelling Cinderella because I wanted to explore what the fairy tale was really about. Cinderella is a young woman who is socially marginalized and vulnerable to selfish or unfair treatment on that account. As I developed Alyce as belonging to a tiny subculture, always at risk of negative treatment from outsiders, I was able to give my story the same theme while changing nearly every detail.

I found Alyce really resonated with readers, so I plan to continue with more fairy tales. Snow White, The Little Mermaid, Rapunzel, etc—always trying to see how many things I can change while maintaining what the story is about. These old legends provide a great framework for creating compelling situations.

Facets of Fantasy (Sarah Scheele)I don’t know about you, but I’m horrible at coming up with titles. But there are some authors who come up with the title before they even write the story. How do you choose your titles?

I don’t officially title my story until I’m about a third of the way through. Once I know the story’s personality, I let a few titles materialize and try them out as little trailers. As in “The Castle of Randena, Coming May 2015.” I pick the one that sounds catchiest.

Do you have any interesting writer quirks? What are they?

I need to walk around while writing. This is obviously almost impossible, so I compromise—I write a bit, then get up and walk around to sort out the next scene, write it down, then bounce up again and start walking. It is essential for me to work alone because I probably look crazy. 😛

If you could get lost within a book, which book would you choose? Why?

I’m not sure I can get lost in a book these days! I view reading and writing in a job-oriented way—which isn’t very conducive to getting lost in the magic of words. But when I was younger, The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis was one of my favorites. I’m drawn to hot places as settings, and at that time almost everything I read was located in the British Isles, New England, or imaginary places that resembled them. The society of Calormen and the daring escape across the desert felt really fresh and they captured me.

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SarahScheeleAuthorPicSarah Scheele writes historical fantasy stories and science fiction from her home in Texas. She is the author of The Valley Stories, set in a nonmagical fantasy world based on southern Europe, and the futuristic action/adventure novella City of the Invaders. Her blog Stardust and Gravel regularly showcases reviews and interviews for other authors, as well as the occasional comic skit.

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Alyce

 

Alyce Lomlossa has never dreamed of visiting King Timson. To a member of a minority group that opposes his rule, his brooding, glum palace is associated only with imprisonment and death. Though it’s been a long time since any Sherban was arrested, Alyce feels little in common with her ruler and is quite content to stay unnoticed.

Until a mandatory summons to the King’s court dance leaves her no choice.

A 20,000 word novella that enlarges the story of Cinderella.

Purchase Alyce here!

Words of Freedom

What a perfect day for hearing all of the great things that can be said about our freedom!

 

“Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth.” (George Washington)

“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.” (Charlotte Bronte)

Flag pallets

I had to snap a picture of this patriotic display we saw on the way to visit family!

“Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in our bosoms. Our defense is in the preservation of the spirit which prizes liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands, everywhere.” (Abraham Lincoln)

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3:17)

“There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me.” (Jane Austen)

“And the turtles, of course … all the turtles are free, as turtles and, maybe, all creatures should be.” (Dr. Seuss)

“Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, cannot long retain it.” (Abraham Lincoln)

“Freedom (n.): To ask nothing. To expect nothing. To depend on nothing.” (Ayn Rand)

“People have only as much liberty as they have the intelligence to want and the courage to take.” (Emma Goldman)

“Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.” (1 Peter 2:16)

“I am an American; free born and free bred, where I acknowledge no man as my superior, except for his own worth, or as my freedom flowerinferior, except for his own demerit.”  (Theodore Roosevelt)

“Freedom lies in being bold.” (Robert Frost)

“True freedom is impossible without a mind made free by discipline.” (Mortimer J. Adler)

“The first duty of a man is to think for himself.” (Jose Marti)
“He who has overcome his fears will truly be free.” (Aristotle)

“Freedom is what we do with what is done to us.” (Jean-Paul Sartre)

“Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility.” (Sigmund Freud)

“Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.” (Benjamin Franklin)

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” (Nelson Mandela)

“In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” (Ephesians 3:12)

“Injustice in the end produces independence.” (Voltaire)

“The time is near at hand which must determine whether Americans are to be free men or slaves.” (George Washington)

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36)

 

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY, EVERYONE!

Plastic Armor and Wooden Swords: Prepare for Battle

Homemade Warrior

I have a 7-year-old son who is … well, a boy. That’s the best way to put it, really. He likes mud and bugs and Transformers and wrestling with his Dad on the floor and making his own sound effects when he pulls a cool move … and believe me, he’s got a lot of moves.

He also loves knights and castles and dragons and swords, running through the house rigged out in his plastic armor and helmet, flourishing a wooden sword above his head, chasing invisible enemies.

Nearly everything he gets his hands on becomes a weapon. Almost every move he makes is a new “battle” maneuver.

Last week my husband and son and I were riding in the car on our way to church. I looked into the backseat and saw that my son had brought his sword with him. He was sitting calmly with it laid across his lap, his hand on the hilt.

“Wow,” I said, smiling. “You’re ready for battle, huh?”boy in armor2

Without skipping a beat, he answered somberly, looking right at me, “I’m always ready.”

And that was that.

Except that it wasn’t.

Because I … being who I am … started thinking about that.

Prepare For Battle

To be ready for battle at all times … that struck a familiar chord somewhere in me. To be primed to fight at a moment’s notice. Not to fight without reason, of course. But, like my son, to fight that invisible enemy, the one who lurks in the shadows, just out of sight. The one who would poison and destroy every good and godly thing in us and in our lives.

Every day is a battle, really, isn’t it? Every day we have to pick up our swords and prepare to defend our hearts. Battle for our very souls. Every waking hour of our existence, from birth to death, we have to live with a sword in our hand, ready to raise it against anything that would threaten to separate us from our Leader.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:10-11)

What a powerful message that was to me, seeing my son’s bright innocent eyes looking at me. “I’m always ready.”

His little heart will know soon enough the dark enemy he faces. The adversary who wants his heart. And no wooden sword will stand against that enemy. What a heart-rending thing to think about. For a mother, a nearly heartbreaking thought …

… but for one thing.

“Do not fear or be dismayed … for the battle is not yours, but God’s.” (2 Chronicles 20:15)

Yes. The battle is not ours. Thank heaven. Thank God.

If we’re in His ranks, it’s won already. All we need do is don our flimsy armor and brandish our homemade swords and stay on that battlefield till the bitter end. Show God our hearts are where they need to be, even though our strength is not our own, but borrowed from Him.

If God is with us, who can be against us? And God will be with us. Because the battle belong to Him.

One day my son will put away his wooden sword. He’ll tuck it into his toy box for the last time, too old for childish games. I hope that when he leaves the battle of his imagination, he will understand the true battle he prepares to engage in. I pray that when he steps onto the field and joins the fray, he will be wearing God’s armor. That no matter what dangers surround him, his eyes will always be upon his Leader… the One who has vanquished the enemy already.