A Very Kiera Playlist

I didn’t have Spotify when I first wrote and published, but it’s been fun making a playlist after the fact.

It’s no secret “Sparrows” by Jason Gray is THE Kiera song. It inspired me as I wrote, and the characters listen to it at least twice in the book. πŸ’™

I thought it might be super fun to take this song and a few others and make a Kiera-themed playlist. 😎😎

(There aren’t any spoilers, so if you haven’t read it yet, you can still listen.)

I went for some thematically accurate “espresso depresso” songs, some encouraging Christian ones, and a couple delightfully hopeful ones. 😁

Listen Here

Just a few highlights are…

Say Something by Christina Aguilera and A Great Big World

This one that gives me strong vibes of a Certain Scene That Shall Not Be Spoiled. Like, if this book were a musical, Kiera would literally be singing it to Brennan. #allthedesperatefeels

O Anxious One by Alanna Boudreau

This one is the perspective of God singing to His child, and I think no matter where you are in life, it would be comforting, so Kiera especially needs it after what I put her through.

The Best Is Yet to Come by Jonathan Gulley and Saint Cardinal

This is a happy, dance-in-your-kitchen-we’re-all-gonna-be-okay song. πŸ’™ Destiny definitely shared this one with Kiera. πŸ˜‰

I hope you enjoy listening!


Bloggers we’re celebrating with today…

Eva-Joy

And don’t forget, the giveaway ends tonight, so get your entries in!

All the Things I’ve Ever Changed

I’ve hinted that there were some bigger edits I wanted to make to Kiera that drove this second edition, but I thought I would dive a little deeper into my thoughts behind this.

1. Diversity

The problem: I was just learning the importance and beauty of diversity and wanted to reflect this in my novel, but if you blinked and missed it, I don’t blame you. I had very little exposure to people of color growing up in small town PNW and even less knowledge of Black culture. I also had the mistaken idea that any mention of skin color automatically meant racism, so I did a pretty poor job giving my characters full-bodied experiences and identities.

What I changed: While I felt it was too late at this point to give Destiny and Niyanna what I now know they deserve and was worried doing so could feed into some stereotypes (i.e. Destiny’s family), I made sure that any mentions of their race were inoffensive and used some more accurate/specific terms for their hairstyles than just “braids”.

In the future: Before I attempt to write characters of a different culture from mine again, I’m spending some time listening and soaking in. If you have any recommendations for resources (fiction or otherwise), please share them down in the comments.


2. Child Raising

The problem: In the original edition, I included a scene where Kiera physically disciplines Jade. I had her do it with patience and calmness, which to me was somewhat countercultural to what I was surrounded with. A little while after publication, I heard from a reader or two that they would not be reading the book due to the triggering nature of this scene as it reminded them of child abuse they had witnessed. This really grieved me and got me thinking that maybe this wasn’t the best or only way to raise children.

What I changed: I ended up removing this scene completely as it served no other purpose in the story and detracted from my main message of love.

In the future: I would like to focus on the positive, nurturing but still honest and hard aspects of raising children with gentleness and grace.


3. LGBT+ Portrayal

The problem: This last one makes me a little bit sad, and I hope my readers will be forgiving. I needed a divisive political issue, something that would wreck the church in this book, so I chose LGBT+ issues, a.k.a. the current β€œboogeyman” of my church experience. I won’t go into the storyline, but I soon realized this decision and the way I wrote it could be unintentionally villainizing and very hurtful, especially to young readers who may be seeking God on what He says about their sexual orientation.

What I changed: I decided that this book, with very little plot space for nuanced, empathetic discussion and a storyline focused on love not controversy was not the place for me to talk about this. I removed the storyline completely.

In the future: I will not be writing any more stories with LGBT+ identities painted as a divisive issue, as I believe it is much more human than political, personal than dogmatic.


Whether or not you agree with these changes, please know that I felt God’s calling to implement them and did so in good faith with very little meaningful change to the story. I hope to continue to grow in my empathy and knowledge and write more stories showing the love of God. πŸ’™


Bloggers we’re celebrating with today…

Lillian Keith

(Don’t forget to enter the giveaway πŸ˜‰)

Kiera Release Day!!!

IT’S HERE!

KIERA IS HERE, Y’ALL!

πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸ’™πŸ˜­πŸ˜­πŸ€©πŸ˜βœ¨

I think my unofficially official author picture sums up how I’m feeling perfectly.

One eye smiling and the other just a little bit crazy. πŸ˜‰πŸ˜‰

This book has taken a lot. A lot of time, stamina, criticism, and creativity. But it’s also given me so much, and one of my favorites is you all. πŸ’™

Thank you for all your enthusiasm and support!

Just Kiera chilling with some other real books. πŸ’™


Buy on Amazon // Order hardcover

Bloggers we’re celebrating with today…

Kristina Hall

Autumn

Saraina Whitney

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway!

God Said Hello

I’ve known for a couple years now that I’ve wanted to make some changes to Kiera.

I wrote my heart on the pages of this book. I wrote about God and His love for us–something I’ve fought to find and hold on to. I wrote about sacrificial love that blossoms into more. I wrote about friendship and fear and loss and laughter.

And sometimes hearts change.

We get to grow up a little, find out what’s important, change our mind on things, realize some things are a big deal but not as big as we thought they were.

Mine has changed a bit through continued distance and healing from a heart-draining culture and more empathy, truth, and emotional honesty in my life.

I started to have qualms about a couple non-essential elements of the story, and early this year I felt God calling me to make these changes.

All through the project, I have felt Him near in a very big way. He provided an odd job with exactly the right amount of pay to cover new designs. He gave me strength and words to write a brand new short story.

When I was hit with the worst dose of imposter syndrome, He brought me a favorable review and an early, perfectly printed proof copy. And this week I feel Him giving me energy and enthusiasm for this release.

I can feel His delight to bless me in these ways, and I can’t wait to write my next book with Him. πŸ’™


Bloggers we’re celebrating with today…

Jana

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway!

It’s Time to Celebrate (+Kiera Giveaway!)

It. Is. TIME.

It’s Kiera week!

If you’ve been around my blog for a while, you’ve heard me talk about this book a lot already. You may have experienced the ups and downs of my drafting/editing the novel and even participated in the blog tour.

It means the world that you’re here for the second time, and I hope it’s just as fun. And if you’re brand new, hello! I appreciate you. πŸ’™

To kick things off, I’m hosting a giveaway!

Prize: Kiera pre-order bundle 🀩🀩 + decorative pitcher, flowers, ceramic birds, and twig nest

International alternate prize: Kiera inspired stickers, author-signed bookplate, $15 Amazon giftcard

Entry options:

  1. Comment your favorite YA novel
  2. Comment about a book bestie
  3. Blog a #KieraBookChallenge prompt (link back to this post)
  4. Follow this blog (comment “done!”)
  5. Share this giveaway (link back or comment)
  6. For more entry options, go to my IG post

Prize ships to US only. International winner will be awarded alternate prize and another winner drawn. Giveaway also runs on Instagram. Giveaway runs 5/9 through 5/13.

Enter and have the most fun! 🀩

Bloggers we’re celebrating with today…

Vanessa Hall

Esther Jackson (spoiler warning)

The Fandom Favorites Tag

Eva-Joy had the coolest blog tag idea, and yes, I am taking her up on the challenge. *mockingjay salute*

The Rules

  1. Compile a list of up to ten of your favorite fandoms. Books, movies, TV showsβ€”you name it!
  2. Tell us about your favorite character in each of those fandoms, along with an explanation of why that character is your favorite. (Your reasoning can be however long or short you’d like it to be.)
  3. Tag however many (or few) friends you’d like to participate.

For the purposes of world domination, I am tagging everyone who would like to participate. Mwaha.

My Answers

Marvel: Black Panther

His was the first Marvel movie I saw in theaters and the one that cemented me as a fan. I loved the rich, imaginative culture, beautiful storyline, and T’challa himself in his quiet strength. This character truly changed my life in some big ways. πŸ–€

Honorable mentions: Steve Rogers, Nakia, Laura Barton


Marvel TV Shows: Fitzsimmons

Fitzsimmons (and they basically count as one person, right?) are the Most Darling Beans to ever exist. The nerd babies who grow into brilliant, brilliant team members, save the world and have 600 doses of trauma, and cause shipper hearts to swell and break… That’s them. πŸ₯ΊπŸ₯ΊπŸ₯° They’re also a classic grumpy/sunshine duo, so what’s not to love?

Honorable mentions: Monica Rambeau, Daniel Sousa (in AoS), Elena Rodriguez

Note: the violence level in Agents of Shield is higher than average Marvel movies. I have not watched all episodes or seasons to be able to recommend it.


Doctor Who: Rose Tyler

Call me basic, but this character literally changed my life. Working class, similar in age to me (at least when I started watching it), not a typical body type, and loyal as all get out with some growing up to do. πŸ’œ I will defend her on my secret Twitter account until the end of the world.

Honorable mentions: the Tenth Doctor, the Twelfth Doctor, Rory Pond

Note: the values of this show and content levels vary.


The X-files: Mulder

I came for the quirky alien conspiracies and stayed for the character development and ship. THE SHIP, Y’ALL. If I had to choose between the two main characters, I have to go with Mulder. Just because his curiosity and hopefulness are so different from me (I’m more Scully) and I admire them. Also, he has a great sense of humor. πŸ˜‚πŸ‘

Note: the content levels on this can get pretty ick, so I read about episodes and skip some. I’m also only halfway through the show.


Pixar: Luisa

A very unexpected new favorite for me, and it’s all down to her song “Surface Pressure”. I’ve never felt so seen in my life, and I really felt and rooted for her character. πŸ€—

Honorable mentions: Raya, Woody


BBC Sherlock: Molly Hooper

Usually I would be a book purist, but Molly was an entirely perfect addition to the show, and I couldn’t imagine the whole thing without her. She’s also another character who has encouraged and challenged me, similarly to how Rose has. I even wrote a fanfic epilogue for her (because she deserves it).

Note: the show is equivalent to an R-rated movie.


Person of Interest: Joss Carter

Another “inspired Kate and is short and absolutely BOSS” character. That’s starting to sound like a good alternate title for this post. Seriously, I LOVE this show and Detective Carter is one of the main reasons why. I can’t say much more without spoilers, but yep. πŸ‘πŸ€©

Honorable mentions: Reese, Mr. Finch πŸ’™

Note: this show is PG-13 equivalent, and I personally skip a handful of sexy episodes.


Narnia: Lucy Pevensie

Both book and movie Lucy are the sweetest, bravest souls, and I love her deep faith and friendship with Aslan. πŸ’™ We unfortunately didn’t get to see all the books in movie format, but she just gets cooler and cooler…

Honorable mentions: Edmund Pevensie, Jill Pole, King Tirian


Little Women (2017): Beth

I’ve always felt a connection with Beth since I’m the third sister and we share some similar personality traits, so I was delighted with how they handled her story and added some character development in the BBC adaption. πŸ’™


The Great British Bake-Off (it counts): Dame Mary Berry

This show was my early-pandemic comfort show, and I’ve watched the two latest seasons as they’ve come out. Dame Mary Berry is literally the coolest ever, and I aspire to be her when I grow up. 😁

Honorable mentions: Luis Troyano, Nadiya Hussain, Peter from 2020


I just went wayyy nerdier there than I usually do, lol, but it was a ton of fun. πŸ˜πŸ˜‚

Are you in any of these fandoms? Share your picks in the comments! (And if you have any content questions about a show/movie, feel free to ask!)

Book Review // The List by Patricia Forde

In the city of Ark, speech is constrained to five hundred sanctioned words. Speak outside the approved lexicon and face banishment. The exceptions are the Wordsmith and his apprentice Letta, the keepers and archivists of all language in their post-apocalyptic, neo-medieval world.

On the death of her master, Letta is suddenly promoted to Wordsmith, charged with collecting and saving words. But when she uncovers a sinister plan to suppress language and rob Ark’s citizens of their power of speech, she realizes that it’s up to her to save not only words, but culture itself. (from Goodreads)

My review:

(This book was originally published in Ireland under the title The Wordsmith.)

My husband took me to Barnes and Noble for my birthday, and this is one of the books I got. (Thanks, Joshua!) I was 60% drawn in by the cover, and 40% fascinated by the word/art-related concept which is always my jam in dystopians. (Hi Fahrenheit 451, Matched, and Gathering Blue.πŸ‘‹)

I also saw a couple reviews compare it to The Giver and The City of Ember, so I was pretty confident it would be something I liked.

It hit every mark for me. πŸ‘πŸ‘

Stripped back writing style, fascinating but edging toward horrifying world, MC who is thrown into the deep end, relationships driving her choices and her bravery, save the world but also one soul type story, words central to the plot and surprisingly deep thoughts about free speech and humanity… Even an adorable crush that didn’t take over the story. πŸ₯°

My favorite scenes were when Letta was writing out words at the shop, the music scene, and when she first meets Marlo. I also enjoyed whenever characters spoke List. It was fascinating, and I was always waiting for them to slip out of it. The old scientist’s son deserves the world, Benjamin is the coolest, and I lived for every surprise strength of the women characters in this story.

CW: torture, description of gruesome wounds twice in the story (yet surprisingly clean otherwise), bodily fluids, implied death by exposure/wild animals. Environmental themes discussed neutrally.

SPOILER The main villain has a pregnant woman killed. The main villain MAJOR SPOILER has previously manually forced native children to become mute. Mentions of a young man commiting suicide due to the trauma. END OF SPOILERS

Altogether, while this book can be compared to some of the best middle-grade dystopian offerings, it deserves a place beside them for its unique premise and thought-provoking themes.

This nerd approves. πŸ‘

My Proof Copy Came!

Something absolutely wonderful happened in my author world this week.

My proof copy arrived!!!! 😍😍😍😭😭

Package 😍

Y’ALL, I had been tracking it all day and just as I thought it was probably too late to come, the delivery driver knocked on the door, scared the hair off my dog, and my package was officially here.

I got to open it with Mikayla on video call and Joshua filming. πŸ’™

Song credit: A Millions Dreams by Anthem Lights

It is absolutely and entirely perfect. I’ll share some more pictures when I have daylight (and there’s a giveaway 🀫), but I am so grateful for how perfectly and beautifully it printed. (Thank you everyone who has prayed. πŸ’™)

I still look at it like “that’s not real” “what is this thing” “how do I have a book and a HARDCOVER one??”

Can you believe it?! 😭🀩

It’s been such a gift, and let me tell you–there has been so much grace. πŸ’™

(Kiera releases 5.11.2022. Pre-order your copy now!)

5 Ways You Can Help Celebrate Kiera!

Release day for the second edition of Kiera is less than one month away! (#runsaroundscreaming #inexcitementandterror #whosideawasthisanyway #ahhh) I cannot wait to share the gorgeous new hardcovers with you, and I think you’re going to love the bonus content. πŸ˜πŸ™Œ

If you’re bursting with excitement and would like to help celebrate, here are five ways you can…

1. Pre-order your copy in ebook or hardcover. Hardcover bundles include some pretty sweet bonus goodies, fyi. πŸ˜‰

2. Join the release week celebration team! Whether you’re an Instagrammer, blogger, or reviewer, I’ve got something you can help out with. 🀩🀩 (Join here.)

3. Mark the book as TBR on Goodreads. This helps spread the word, and Goodreads will also send you a release reminder email, which is kind of fun. πŸ˜‰

4. Tell a friend! If you know someone who might enjoy Kiera, tell them a little bit about why you liked it or are looking forward to it.

5. Pray that everything with the release would go well and on schedule. πŸ’™πŸ’™

Thank you all for your support and excitement! I can’t wait to share this with you. πŸ’™

Spell the Month in Books: April

It’s time for another Spell the Month in Books challenge, and here’s my addition…

A – Annie’s Life in Lists by Kristin Mahoney

Unique, wholesome, middle-grade

P – Phantoms by Denver Evans (Perry Kirkpatrick)

Book two of a trilogy, fantasy, mind-blowing

R – Remarkables by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Coming of age, relatable MC, thoughtful

I – Ignite by Jenna Terese

Original, deep, fascinating

L – Love Comes Softly by Janette Oke

Classic, sweet, inspiring

Have you read any of these? I hope you have a happy Passover and Holy Week! πŸ’—