Threadbare and the Genesis Tree

 

 

Threadbare by Bethany A. Jennings

Threadbare is a short story about a young woman who has lost control of her powers. In this magical world, powers work like threads. After a fight, Bess’s threads are tangled. She faces the choice of being strangled by them or having them severed. Unable to fend for herself, she faces a life without magic, and puts her team in danger.

I loved the world building of this story. It was immersive, unique, and fun. I’m ready for a full length novel. Bethany wonderfully handled dropping us into this world for a short time without losing us with threads, waves, Sinkholes, and Drifters. I never felt confused or turned around. In fact, I just wanted more.

Bethany kept the pace moving forward at a run with a magical battle used to show us the depth of pain Bess felt at the choice she is forced to make. The ending brought hope and light to the story. This is where I longed for a full length novel the most. I wanted to taste everything a little longer before resolution. This is the hard part of a short story for the reader. I didn’t want it to be short.

If you want a quick adventure to read during a lunch break or while standing in line, this is well worth your money.

The Genesis Tree by Heather L. L. FitzGerald

After being on this journey with the Larcen family for several years now, it’s hard to believe it’s over. I read…devoured really…this story in a few short hours spread over two days. It didn’t let up. Gone were the childish elements. They’d been buffed away by the storms of life. Only strength remained behind.

With their return home from a second adventure into the Tethered World involving Trolls and Gargoyles and the threat of exposure, you might expect the Larcen’s to get some well-deserved down time. Wrong. Evil thwarted isn’t evil stamped out. The threat of exposure still looms over them, but now with a modern twist. It takes all of Sadie and Brady to withstand the death throes of their enemies.

There are two things I loved about this book. One I can talk about in more detail than the other. Spoilers, you know.

The first is Sadie. When this Chronicle started, I didn’t really connect with Sadie. She didn’t want to visit a magical world and have adventures. She just wanted to go home and be a normal teenager. She was everything I wasn’t. I connected with Sophie. Now there was a girl who appreciated riding dragons and meeting dwarves and gnomes. But Sadie is the main character, so this is Sadie’s story. I suffered her complaints and still enjoyed the story.

By book 3, Sadie has been tried and tested in the deepest of ways. She has faced lies, monsters, torture and betrayal. She has seen those she loved hurt and even killed. Adventure has taken on a decidedly harsh tone. Sadie has been tempered. In Book 3, we walk with a Sadie who is strong. I loved it. She’s not an Amazon woman by any means, but she has had the dross boiled away and found her faith solid. Sadie is ready to fight for the world she didn’t even want to visit a few months ago.

I really enjoyed the growth Sadie endured. She has gone from my least favorite character, to my favorite.

The second thing I loved about this book was a few difficult decisions the author made. This is a family friendly fantasy that tends to favor those who don’t enjoy fantasy. It’s a gateway fantasy. If you’re someone who hasn’t ever gotten into Lord of the Rings, or Harry Potter, or any fantasy, this is the one for you. Heather never loses this element of her stories. But, in the Genesis Tree, she weaves in the cost of war in a way that kicks the reader in the gut. She takes this story out of the gateway realm for a time and gives it the heart of deep fantasy. I loved that.

I also found that the lack of epic battles worked well in this book. She worked out the details of betrayal and exposure without taking it into a mythical clash between Trolls and Gnomes, Gargoyles and Nephilim. At the end of Book 2, The Flaming Sword, I found that to be a letdown. At the end of the Genesis Tree, it felt right. Small events diffused mass battle.

The Tethered World Chronicles is now complete. Sadie is ready to join her family in their unique responsibilities. As a reader, I was satisfied. This is a wonderful series to share with your family. Children of all ages will enjoy it. It is clean but not safe. A hard balance to strike, but Heather does masterfully.

Available for Pre-order!

Review of Book 1.

Review of Book 2.

The Book of the Dun Cow and The Flaming Sword

The Book of  Dun Cow by Walter Wangerin Jr.
I was recently gifted with The Book of Dun Cow by Emily Shiflet with the promise that it would probably end up in my Favorite Books list. That’s quite a promise, but not a vain one.

The Book of the Dun Cow is a beast fable written in a style that is a bit more telling than showing at times and strongly steeped in myth and Christianity. It has some of the most beautiful prose that I have ever read, some wonderful characters, a heart wrenching plot, and so many truths woven skillfully into a gripping story.

This is a book you savor. You could devour it in a few hours, but it’s so beautiful, you want to take a bite or two and then wait, letting those digest fully, before you take another bite.

The weird part about this book is its intensity. I have struggled with where to put it. It’s considered a YA book, but there is some language, a gruesome scene with the villain, and a depth that only gets deeper with age and re-reading. It reminds me a lot of Watership Down in that way. Yes, it’s a story about animals, but no, it’s not for little kids. It’s for older kids. It’s like Lord of the Rings. We often read it to high schoolers, but it’s really for adults…or it grows as we grow requiring a re-reading.

I would have loved this at 14 or so, but I don’t know that I would have grasped all the different layers of humanity and truth at that time. It is truly a book for all ages and one that should be revisited regularly.

Rated: PG-13: intensity, war, language (mild), adult situations (very well written, just sad and to an adult, a bit disturbing)

The Flaming Sword, Book Two of the Tethered World Chronicles by Heather L. L. FitzGerald

The long anticipated sequel to the Tethered World is about to make its appearance. If you loved going on an adventure with Sadie, Sophie, Brady and Brock to the Tethered World to rescue their parents, you won’t be disappointed when they return.

Filled with political intrigue, factions, unexpected enemies, a coming war, and the Larcen family again in danger, Book 2 ratchets up the action and builds towards book 3.

I loved watching Sadie’s character grow as she was tried and tested in some terrifying ways. For fear of spoilers, I won’t talk about my favorite moments with her, but they were many. Her dealings with her dad, the trolls, a nasty villain or two, and her Aunt Jules gave her plenty of opportunities to practice being brave. I was glad to see her rise to the occasion while relying on truth and the love of her family. I enjoyed having parts of the story told from Brady’s perspective. They helped balance out Sadie’s reluctance to adventure and showed Brady growing from boy to man. Heather skillfully jumped from one to the other giving us a very fleshed out story.

There were a few moments I expected the punch to be pulled and it wasn’t. I’m thankful for that…I can’t say more. Spoilers. ☺ Go get the book!

This series is excellent for introducing your family to fantasy. It allows the reader to meet creatures of myth without feeling like they’re trying to learn a whole new language, and with Sadie as the main character, those more reluctant to jump into an adventure are represented. Heather FitzGerald wanted to write a family-safe story that honored home-schoolers, the autistic, and Christianity. She’s done all that with loads of fun heaped on top.

While I missed Sophie’s unflappable courage, I think her being sidelined gave Sadie a chance to find her own courage when faced with ultimate and horrible choises.The slightly anticlimactic ending drove me to look excitedly towards Book 3. I can’t wait to get my hands on the last book of the Tethered World Chronicles.

I voluntarily read an advanced reader copy of this book and am giving it an honest review.

Rated PG: intensity and war

Pre-order for $2.99: coming Nov 1!!!

https://www.amazon.com/Flaming-Sword-Tethered-World-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B01JTEG12S/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1470454158&sr=1-3&keywords=heather+ll+fitzgerald#nav-subnav

The Tethered World by Heather FitzGerald

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(I received an ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.)
This book was an absolute delight to read. It has a little bit of everything: adventure, battles, political intrigue, betrayal, friendships, danger, legendary creatures, dragons, fairies, gnomes and so much more!
I loved that it centers around an eccentric home school family, and, no, not a denim skirt wearing family, just a normal home school family. (NO offense if you wear jean skirts.) The Larcens are fun, relatable, and just a little crazy.
Describing this book is hard because it has so many elements that would normally turn me off from a book: it’s safe, it’s Christian fantasy, it’s safe. LOL. I don’t need to put any sort of warning on it. There is no language. The kids are smart and not rebellious. The romance is sweet, mild, and not acted upon by either party. It has a family that trust the Lord and loves each other. There is nothing here that isn’t good and wholesome. Most books that I can say this about are also boring, badly written, preachy, and trite.
Not The Tethered World.
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Map of the Tethered World.(Supplied by H. FitzGerald.)

 

When their parents disappear, the Larcen children have their lives turned upside down and the adventure begins.
The mythological creatures are handled perfectly: just different enough to be interesting and just familiar enough to tie them to other stories. The struggles faced by Sadie as she tackles a world she only wants to leave are real and relatable without being annoying. Sophie is my heart and I love her to death. She spends most of the adventure trying not to have too much fun. Brady grows into a man by fighting and sacrificing himself, and Brock finds his place. (Brock’s story is one of the great joys of this book.)
If you have a kid, boy or girl, who loved Narnia this is the next book for them. It’s written very much with Lewis’ world in mind and has much of the same feel. Danger and struggles are there, but not so detailed or dark that they overwhelm the story.
This is a great book to read to introduce the wide world of fantasy to adults and children alike.
So, I say this story is safe in the same way I would say The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is safe. It has moments of great darkness, but also great joy. It has moments that made me chuckle and laugh while I read, and moments that brought me to tears.
If you are tired of YA books that seem to have far more Adult and not enough Young, if you want a story about kids who aren’t so worried about boyfriends and girlfriends, but about taking care of their family, if you want faith that isn’t preachy, and if you want good fun adventure, check out The Tethered World.
On a personal note, I’ve worked with Heather for a couple years now on her writing and her on mine. She was one of the earliest members of the Manet Writing Group that I founded and a dear friend. The praise I’ve given her book isn’t something I take lightly and isn’t given because I actually know her. Her writing is wonderful and her world is magical. I plan on giving her book as a gift to my nieces this month and can’t wait to talk to them about it.
Join us for a FB Launch Party for the release of The Tethered World this evening! There will be some awesome door prizes given away including a Kindle and gift cards to Starbucks and Amazon. If you join us, make sure you say I sent you! 🙂
(If you follow the link above it will take you to Amazon where you can purchase The Tethered World which will give me a small kick-back. Thank you in advance!)

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Heather L.L. FitzGerald lives in Texas with four someones that call her mom and one special someone that calls her his wife. She homeschooled her children–one of whom is autistic–and teaches ballet at a fine arts school in Forth Worth. Heather is a member of the North Texas Christian Writers, and helps to facilitate the Manet writer’s group in Fort Worth, Texas. She loves drinking ice lattes, cloud watching, and getting lost in a good book.

 

You can connect with Heather on her website/blogFacebook, Pinterest: (Belongs to her main character, Sadie), Character blog: (Sadie’s mom has a blog about legendary creatures.), Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads.

Guest Post: Heather FitzGerald on Blogging

A while back I was asked by a couple of my fellow writers in my writing group to share some thoughts on blogging. So, I invited a few close friends to share their blogging stories. We all blog for different, yet similar, reasons which I hope will showcase the diversity of blogging. Their thoughts will be featured here over the next few weeks , and then I’ll share my own blogging story.

First up, Heather FitzGerald from the Tethered Together Blog:


 

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Thank you, Abby, for sharing some of your personal cyber-space with me today! I’m grateful that you would like to hear a little about why I blog, because it also makes me stop and take inventory of my commitment.

There are a lot of experts out there in Writing Land that weigh in on how to effectively reach a potential audience. These are people with more notches in their belts—or rather—more ISBN numbers registered to their name, than me. Although I had a blog for five years prior to my new one, I never considered that blog a serious endeavor as a writer. That was a mistake which I’m learning to correct after listening to many podcasts and webinars from said experts. Blogs should be the heartbeat of a writer’s life.

You’d think I could have put two and two together. My old blog was an eclectic mix of curriculum and book reviews, personal experiences with autism, and even politics. By God’s grace—haphazard experiment that it was—a certain author who’s book I reviewed contacted me and asked if I was a writer. Author Susan Marlow saw something in me and took time to connect and encourage me.

That was the beginning of a beautiful relationship that allowed me to be mentored by an amazing writer and professional editor who would cheer me on, point out my writing pitfalls (I had no idea how much I liked the word “just”), and even edit a draft of my novel, The Tethered World, that will be published soon.

All of these wonderful repercussions happened because I fumbled around on the internet with a blog. Somehow I still failed to see the importance of maintaining it and cultivating a relationship with my readers and/or other bloggers.

BLOGPart of the reason that regular blogging activity fell by the wayside was that, with four busy, homeschooled kids, I only had so much time to squeeze my creative juices. I chose to use that time working on my book. But in hindsight, it would have been wise to recognize that opportunities only come along when you put yourself out there where the opportunities exist.

Fast forward four years and about seven drafts of my novel and it’s time to look for a publisher and how to go about marketing this YA fantasy of mine. Another writer pointed me to The Best Seller Society and I paid for a months worth of book marketing seminars and listened to everything that I could. It became painfully obvious (and rather comforting) to learn that major or minor publishing houses all expect you to be the major marketer of your book. (Comforting because—since I was not going the agent route, and therefore would not be considered by a big publishing house—I’d have the same amount of legwork to do for my book. A bigger publisher would not be the key to finding my audience).

Through webinars on The Best Seller Society I was introduced to other successful authors and what worked for them. I started to hear about creating a “tribe” and learning that, for a new author, an internet presence is NOT an option. And I didn’t just need a blog . . . I needed a platform.

These revelations made me rethink my old blog that only occasionally gasped for air and floundered about the internet. It was the antithesis of “platform.” It became clear that if I was to be serious about writing novels, I needed to be as serious about maintaining a blog.

Another important component for marketing, that these experts stressed, was a website for my upcoming book. (And let me add, for any of you that may be a few steps behind me in this process: ‘they’ say it is important to get a website and a blog in place BEFORE your book is published—nay, before you even land a publisher! A publisher will actually look to see what kind of following you have in place). I found myself in the throes of a huge learning curve . . . centered around technology.

Not exactly one of my strengths.

So....how do I turn this thing on?

So….how do I turn this thing on?

But I dove in and embraced the nuts and bolts of building a marketing presence because I don’t want to merely publish my book, I’d like for more than a few people to read it! So, I set about building my website through Wix. I found it to be the most user-intuitive for a visual person like myself.

The next step was to get my blog running. Per instructions from those in the know, the blog would be a part, or page, of my book’s website (because the book would naturally be the crux of my platform). This is where I hit a wall. How long can I blog about an imaginary land full of dragons and Nephilim? In theory I could blog about fantasy, but the Talking Heads all agreed that it was best to connect the blog to one’s book and its unique audience. They are the ones that will love what you write . . . right?

Hmmm. I was in a quandary. My audience: teens. Their interests: social media . . . not following blogs. Besides the obvious lack of subject matter if I based my blog on my book (remember, this is an indefinite blog . . . how many years can I write about a land that will be summed up in a trilogy?), I asked around and felt like I wouldn’t have an audience that would pay much attention to my book’s blog due to the age group.

It all sounded too limiting. (Though I did begin a fun, fake blog that one of the minor characters in my book writes. I think readers will get a kick out of connecting to this character in such a way. The main character, Sadie Larcen, also has a Pinterest that readers may follow). <—–These ideas are a way to get the social-media-driven teens to interact with my story. At least, that is my hope, once the book arrives.

It hit me that all of the experts from these podcasts and webinars were non-fiction authors that had some sort of first-hand experience to share. Connecting their book on, let’s say, ‘domestic violence’, to a blog that continually offered support and stories about this subject, could go on as long as fallen man continued to act like the unredeemed sinners that they are. Having a blog as an extension of a non-fiction subject was a natural flow. Their platform is built-in by virtue of their expertise.

What’s a fantasy writer to do? After praying and considering all the angles, I felt like I should begin a new blog with a platform that was unique but less specific than “homeschoolers, trolls, leprechauns, and gnomes,” or something along those lines.

light-bulb-momentAt this time, by divine grace, someone loaned me Madeleine L’Engle’s book Walking on Water. It was poignant, thought-provoking, and made me want to hone my gift to display God’s glory and be a glistening thread in the creative tapestry woven by the Creator. I bought my own copy so I could properly mark it up. It held such beautiful truths (though I didn’t always agree with her theology) that I felt compelled to share what I was reading with others that loved to create as well.

That’s when the main thrust of my new tetheredtogetherblog began to take on flesh. The “platform” I landed on would be a way to connect with other lovers of words. Beginning with Walking on Water, and moving on to other inspiring works from those that have gone before me in the writing world, my blog would be a sort of writer’s devotional that would keep me learning at the feet of great authors and allow me to share things that inspire or challenge me with others.

This premise denotes longevity. I hope to be an author with longevity. To garner the trust of an audience takes time. There are so many blogs out there, it must be a patient person’s undertaking. A serious writer needs to be a tortoise, not a hare. I love the verse in Five for Fighting’s song, “Slice.” It says:

 “Have you read my blog today?

Three hundred million little USAs.

Your doorstep is just a click away.

We’ll get together one of these days.”

That is a perfect word snapshot of the blogosphere, isn’t it? There are a multitude of voices vying for attention and it’s our job as writers to give readers something worth reading. Repeatedly.

It’s not always polished, not always witty, not always timely, but if my posts are consistent and born out of a desire to serve, to inspire, and to glorify the Giver of all good gifts then I feel my blog will, God willing, make it in the long run. After a few months of being up and running, I’m seeing new followers pop up. I’ve enjoyed the interaction of readers and getting acquainted with other bloggers. I look forward to seeing how maintaining this blog will keep me challenged and pressing onward and upward in my creative endeavors.

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Thank you, Abby, for allowing me to share my blog experience with your followers today! I must say that having a friend like you, oh Prolific One, is an inspiration and a challenge. You are always posting such edifying, fun, or thoughtful blogs that I love to read. Thankfully, I’m not very competitive and do not feel compelled to try to keep up with your rate of frequency!


 

I hope you found some good insight and information on why writers blog. I also hope you go visit, follow, and comment on Heather’s blog. It seems like I might have gained a new nickname–Oh Prolific One–which I shall endeavor to live up to! Heather’s thoughts have made me think about a website for my own books once I get a little further down the publishing path. Thank you, Heather, for the heads up!

You can also check out my Guest Post for Heather about writing darker themed stories.

 

Guest Posts

I have had the great honor of being featured on several different blogs of late. Please check out my article and the blogger who hosted my guest post!1098420_501757326565034_1650809252_n

Long standing FB, Twitter, and Blogger Friend, Darke Conteur set up an author interview with me. She asked great questions and I learned a lot about the interviewing process which I hope to apply down the road. This interview served as a good transition interview from where I used to be and where I am now. Thanks again for including me in this Darke.

Interview

 

20392_285577954896351_1129104847_nA new writer friend, soon to be published, asked me to tackle a darker subject on her blog. I was more than happy to help her. I found that while I don’t write about such dark subject matters any more, I can still hold to the lessons I learned at the time. Heather has become a value member of my writing group and one of my alpha readers. It’s nice having someone just a few steps ahead in the publishing process. Or, I should say several, cause she’s finished and submitted her book, something I have yet to tackle. Check out the Tethered Together blog by Heather FitzGerald.

Blog Post: Read No Evil, Write no Evil

10339770_10202856272620250_1135803542079547182_nOnce a month, I write an editorial for the Josh Magill and The Magill Review. Most of my articles center around writing and reading. They are posted the last Tuesday of every month. I met Josh through a unique short story writing opportunity. He gathered about 10 to 12 writers and limited us to 100 words each that had to be added to the previous 100 words. It was a fun challenge. After that Josh offered to share a blog post I wrote about pantsers and outliners. With a good bit of positive feedback on that article, Josh invited me to write once a month for him. I’m blessed and honored to be a part of his crew.

Latest Article: To Finish or not to Finish Reading

10246307_10152336478428190_944043745655855663_nAnd, lest we forget, earlier this year, I wrote a blog post for my dear friend Deanna Brown. This article was featured on Tim Challies’ blog and Deanna and I both enjoyed our time in the virtual limelight. 🙂 Deanna’s blog is filled with heart-felt thoughts that both encourage and challenge me. On her blog she walks you and herself through her husband’s stroke and life afterwards. Deanna has made her way through just about everything I’ve ever wrote, even the darkest parts, and has still loved me on the other side. I am so thankful to count her as a dear friend, sister in Christ, and go to person for all my writing angst.

Humility

Many thanks to all of you for helping me grow as a writer and blogger!