How precious are Your thoughts to me, O LORD ... how vast is the sum of them!

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

The Road to Bremen: Interview and Giveaway

Hey everyone! If you haven't heard about this elsewhere, this is a quick note to let you know I have an interview on the Homeschooled Authors blog this week. I'm also offering a signed paperback of The Road to Bremen for a giveaway prize. Hop over to the blog to check it out and enter the giveaway, and while you're there, make sure you browse the other authors featured on this website. I greatly appreciate Homeschooled Authors because it's a hub for discovering young authors who write clean books with biblical values . . . not to mention how fun it is to discover so many people with a similar background and passion!

Friday, September 20, 2019

Five Fall Favorites Party

Calling any and all book lovers!
This invitation is for you if you love books!

Just click on this image on September 30th to be whisked away to the Literary Lodge (otherwise known as Read Another Page).…-hop-real-heroes/

I hope you'll be able to join in! I've participated in this blog party before, and it was so much fun to discover new books and discuss old favorites. I'm sure looking forward to it!

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Protecting the Poor Is Here - New Release from Amanda Tero

I'm excited to share in the announcement that the third and final book in Amanda Tero's Tales of Faith trilogy is released into the world!

Sheriff Feroci is now lord over the province, and Abtshire has become a pit of injustice. Being forced into the lord’s service does not give Dumphey as many opportunities to help the poor as he desires. When attempts on his life drive him into the forest, this freedom opens a world of possibilities for helping others. But how can he do so when he is running for his life? And does God want him to do more than simply feed the poor?

Noel has always hidden behind the shadow of his older brother, Dumphey. When life forces him to stand on his own, will he still follow God in the corrupt world in which he lives? Would God really call him to do something that is beyond his power to do?

As Lord Feroci's sinister plot comes to light, each lad has a choice to make. A choice that could cost them their lives.

Find on Amazon HERE or order a signed paperback copy HERE.

Interested in learning more about it? Amanda Tero is having a blog tour this week! Go to her blog at With a Joyful Noise to follow along!

The Series:

About the Author:

Amanda Tero began her love for words at a young age—reading anything she could get her hands on and penning short stories as young as age eight. Since graduation, she has honed her writing skills by dedicated practice and study of the writing craft. She began her journey of publication with a few short stories that she had written for her sisters and continues to add to her collection with other short stories, novellas, and novels. It is her utmost desire to write that which not only pleases her Lord and Savior, but also draws the reader into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Protecting the Poor - New Release from Amanda Tero!

We're counting down the months until Book Three of the “Tales of Faith” series is released! But for now… we get to see the cover of Amanda Tero’s newest book.


Protecting the Poor" will release August 26, 2019, completing the Tales of Faith" trilogy. While Befriending the Beast" and The Secret Slipper" are loose retellings of fairytales, Protecting the Poor" is a retelling of a classic legend: Robin Hood.

About the Book

Sheriff Feroci is now lord over the province, and Abtshire has become a pit of injustice. Being forced into the lord’s service does not give Dumphey as many opportunities to help the poor as he desires. When attempts on his life drive him into the forest, this freedom opens a world of possibilities for helping others. But how can he do so when he is running for his life? And does God want him to do more than simply feed the poor?

Noel has always hidden behind the shadow of his older brother, Dumphey. When life forces him to stand on his own, will he still follow God in the corrupt world in which he lives? Would God really call him to do something that is beyond his power to do?

As Lord Feroci's sinister plot comes to light, each lad has a choice to make. A choice that could cost them their lives.

Prologue of Protecting the Poor"

Lord Feroci slammed the desk with his fists. “I didn’t send you on a fool’s errand, Barat.” He clenched his teeth as he glared at the missive opened before him.
“Aye, sir. I cannot help that others are the fools.”
Feroci released his anger in a growl. Barat stood patiently, his arms crossed.
“We’re losing time, Barat.”
Barat didn’t respond.
“You’re not doing enough.” He raised his head to glare at his man. Barat stared him down. Nothing could phase this man. Which was exactly why Feroci had him in his employ. But ’twas irksome at times. Feroci blew out his pent-up air and fell back into his chair. “What do you suggest?” Barat was the only man in Abtshire from whom he would even consider suggestions. The man had proven his loyalty on the battlefield, taking more than one scar for Feroci. Feroci had returned the favor as many times. They were in this together.
Barat finally stepped forward, but he didn’t sit in the seat across Feroci. Instead, he took the missive from Feroci’s desk and held it at two corners. “I say, we do this…” He pulled at the paper and it ripped—something weak giving way to a greater force that commanded it. That sight alone gave Feroci strength and he nodded in satisfaction.
“Aye. Something made from pulp cannot stand against an iron fist. They will give way.”
“Call another meeting.” Barat layered the two pieces of paper and held them over one of the candles that shed light in the dim room. A small strand of smoke wove upward before the paper burst into flame. Extra light illuminated the room then dimmed as the paper turned into gray ash. “We know their weaknesses as well as their strengths. Use their weaknesses against them. Convince them that there is no other choice.”
Feroci leaned forward and grabbed the quill he had dropped when Barat had entered. He ran his fingers across its smoothness before taking a clean paper. “Well put.” He dipped the quill in ink. “Matheny … ’tis a vast city, but given the right promise, the townspeople will rebel and overthrow Lord Nedry.” He wrote a few lines, shaping the concept that Barat had supplied. “Haar is closer to the king, so that could pose problems.”
“Then wait on Haar. We’ve three cities between our province and them.”
Feroci didn’t look up from his writing. “Lord Alexandre is on my side. If he works with me, mayhap we can claim the help of Belmis, Metz, and Kiralyn.” He paused at the last name. The anger that had dissipated boiled under the surface once more.
“You can’t obtain Kiralyn—”
“Curse you, man!” Feroci threw his quill at Barat. The man didn’t flinch. “We’ll have to overthrow Lord Kiralyn and sever any ‘blood ties’ to the king. I will obtain the throne.”  He stood and his chair crashed backward. Obtaining Lord Trent’s domain from the king had been an easy task. The unfortunate lord had conveniently died in battle with no other witness besides Barat. The king had promoted Feroci from sheriff to lordship, giving him reign over Abtshire, Fordyce, and Keller. Controlling the latter two was nothing—they were mere hamlets compared to the likes of Matheny. Feroci had the talent and ability for so much more.
He had to gain control before Yzebel gave birth to their child—his heir. It must be his heir. He had no use for a lass. But a son—a son he could shape and mold, without the meddling of others, to follow in his footsteps … aye, that son would establish their family as royalty forever. The land was now under the leadership of a man who had gone mad since his daughter’s return. Why had he named Princess Belle as heiress of the kingdom? She had left her father and had been raised by Lord and Lady Kiralyn. This, Feroci would know—he was one of the only lords the king didn’t refuse to see after the death of his wife. In the king’s dark hours of grief, he had made substantial promises to Feroci for his help. Promises that had blown away much like the ash of the letter Barat had burned.
Feroci had written. Barat had spoken. Nothing would sway the king’s mind. He was going against all tradition of the land and naming a woman as leadership, should he pass before she married.
“I can’t marry the lass myself, and I haven’t a son to do so. I will make the king pay,” Feroci hissed. He walked to the window and pulled back the drapes that blocked the fading daylight. A lad stood below, staring up at him. Recognition slammed Feroci when his eyes locked onto the lad. He was more of a threat to Feroci than he would ever know.
The man joined him.
“How much did he hear?”
The lad’s gaze shifted to something in the distance. He turned and walked toward the barracks—the place he should have already been at this time of day.
Barat’s dark eyes followed the lad’s movement. “You can finally make your move against him.”
Finally. Feroci liked the sound of that word. He had waited too long, but he would wait no longer. “Take care of him.”
The silence between them sealed the promise.
“But don’t make it a matter of convenience.” Feroci let the drapes fall. “I don’t want to raise suspicion.”

Add to your Goodreads' Shelf.
Pre-order your eBook from Amazon.

Want to read more?
Visit Amanda's blog for a preview of the first chapter.

Would you like to be a part of “Protecting the Poor's" release team (and get a free eBook)? Sign up here to spread the word on social media!

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Globe Trotting through Time

Good books and movies are common modes of transportation to other times and places. What isn’t so common, at least for me, is dressing up and imagining myself physically inhabiting those other worlds. Not like actors, cosplayers, historical reenactors, and others who do it just for fun.

But last week friends gave me the opportunity to wear costumes in a beautiful park with a waterfall, streams, pathways, woods, cliffs, hills, and a ruined castle while they snapped photos and wove stories to help create the portraits we were aiming for. With each different outfit, I felt like I became a different person.

This first costume was inspired by Astrid from How to Train Your Dragon. My talented friends crafted the fur, leather, and metal parts of the outfit. I imagined that I was one of my Swedish ancestors, a Viking woman defending her homeland while the men were away.

This second one is actually my martial arts uniform. This didn’t require much imagination since I’m so used to wearing it, but it was great fun to try out different weapons by a waterfall that could be in China or Japan.

Costume number three is my gown patterned after the Titanic period (around 1912). Here I was in early twentieth-century England, dreaming about my favorite books while enjoying an excursion into nature.

This Scottish highlander dress brought me to another of my favorite countries as I romped around on trails, up hillsides, by the water, and even along a castle wall.

Lastly, this gown, which we nicknamed the Arwen dress (from Lord of the Rings), brought me into the realm of fairy tales, Middle Earth, and Arthurian legends.

My friend Hannah also participated in the role-playing portraits. Here she’s a feisty Spanish Western ranch owner challenging a trespasser on her property.

And here she’s an exotic African queen who may or may not be an actual leopardess.

By the time our picture taking was done, we joked that we’d traveled the globe—Scandinavia, China or Japan, England, Scotland, Middle Earth, the American West, and Africa—and all within a mile of each other in the same park in Oklahoma!

Have you ever dressed up in clothes of different eras?

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Interview with the Artist

I was thrilled to have the talented E. Kaiser Writes illustrate my book The Road to Bremen. As I was writing this story and beginning to imagine it illustrated, I could think of only one artist to ask because of her illustrating experience and her special expertise in depicting animals. I was so glad that she agreed to work with me, and I couldn’t be happier with her contribution to my book. It wouldn’t be the same without her!

Check out her website!

Welcome, Elizabeth! Let’s begin at the beginning. When did you start drawing, and who was the first illustrator to capture your attention and imagination? 

Being homeschooled, I learned how to draw by first learning how to doodle, and I learned that at about four years old, sitting around the kitchen table with my older siblings when we were supposed to be doing our schoolwork. I got myself into it: I begged Mom to give me schoolwork so I could join the “big kids”…but soon was as bored as they, and discovered they held doodling competitions when Mom was out of the room. I joined in, and it just went from there!

As kids, Mom and Dad used to read aloud to us in the evenings, and one winter they read the Little House books. I remember marveling at the illustrations by Garth Williams, and that’s definitely one of my early “boy, I could never be as good as that!” moments! 

My family was largely artistic, and encouraged that all the time, so growing up I always had an eye toward refining what skills I possessed. But I really didn’t “get serious” about my art until I was in my twenties, and I never anticipated ending up as an actual illustrator. That was an unexpected twist in my story, and one that I really do love! 

That’s so neat! I know at least one person who has seen your illustrations for my book compared you to Garth Williams. What are a few other books you have illustrated? 

I’ve been blessed to work with quite a few wonderful folks who really have supplied great fodder for my artistic imagination…especially fantasy/fairytale type tales. Love the opportunity those give to meld actual historic details into art that is unrestrained by any limitation, so that’s a wonderful playground to explore. I like to make my illustrations as chock-full of meaningful details as possible, and borrowing from history is such a fun way to do that. 

Another fun project I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of is illustrating for Bible stories, and those are particularly up my alley because there is such a wealth of actual data that can be accessed, from which to draw on any point in Biblical times…and yet there’s a great lack of really nailed-down details, so there’s really a wide array of possible angles to take any of the elements, so it’s fun to do the research and then interpret all of that as artistically as possible. And hopefully hit upon an apt representation of the rich flavor of ancient life. 

I love that you put so much enthusiastic research into each project. Can you tell us a few of the details that you dug up while researching the German animals, flowers, and landscapes and used in The Road to Bremen? 

Yes! That is the fun part! I believe illustrations can add so much to the reader’s experience of the story, and it’s a place where so much can be learned. So my goal is to put as much authentic detail in as possible.  

So Kelsey and I talked about the location (which is a real place in Germany!) and the era for the clothes and buildings the story takes place amongst. Having a real location with pictorial access was a big help; we found local breeds of farm animals, and were able to feature area-accurate flowers in nearly all of the pieces. 

The kind of donkeys Germany seems to have were just the usual ones, but they were still easy to make adorably quirky. We got really lucky with the dog, because there’s an old fashioned breed called the Deutsche Bracke, so I was able to model directly off of that! Then for Rüdiger the rooster, we used a Bergische Kräher…which translated means “Farm Crower,” noted for its lengthy crowing ability! Which was perfect for Rüdiger, since he prides himself on his voice. 

So it was a lot of fun to delve into details like that…we incorporated a famous statue in the town of Bremen, and used real German landscapes whenever possible. I always like to learn something from any illustration project, and I hope that viewers will also pick up new things from them, too! 

In all, it’s usually great fun to work with an author on their vision for the story, and you were so prepared, Kelsey, with lots of inspiration already pinned, that it was a delightful process!!

Aw, I’m glad to hear that! It was a delightful process for me, too, and you were so easy to work with. I love your work. What is your favorite type of thing to draw? 

I love animals because they’re so expressive and so often they get neglected by other artists, so it makes me happy to contribute to the “gap” that surrounds them in art. And there are a wealth of expressions that can be brought across with them, so they’re always fun.

The other thing I get excited about is architecture, and trying to estimate accurately for whatever sort of period the setting is. I’m more fluid and free-flowing in my art than strictly structured, so architecture is a challenge for me, but it’s a fun challenge that I love to research out and then compose building details for illustrations, which I think can add so much to the feel of a piece. 

That’s really cool! And what media do you work in? 

I do a lot of pencil: black and white and shading…that’s mostly interior art, and so that makes up the bulk of any project, for the most part. I’ve done line art, with pen, for coloring books, etc. and that is also fun and brings its own challenges.

For color, I’m a real mixed-media fan, and may start with watercolor style washes and then move on to acrylics for some intense pops of color, and then add the precision of colored pencil into the smorgasbord… I really just feel my way forward and try to “herd the process in the right direction.” I’m very unscientific, during the actual art stages… I get very detailed and demanding of my research, and become frustrated if I can’t find the exact thing I’m looking for, but once we leave the planning stage and move to the creative ones, I’m completely nonlinear. 

You’ve illustrated your own books as well. Which is harder, doing it for yourself or for others? 

Oh, for myself, by far!!! I’m my own worst critic and am constantly belittling my work, so it’s quite a struggle to know when to listen to the “inner editor,” so to speak, and when to toss it outside, shut the door and lock it fast!  

I’ve been tremendously blessed to work with folks who are vastly more encouraging about my results than I myself am: so that’s a huge, huge gift that I’m always very grateful to receive. And in trade I’m able to give shape to their dreams, which they aren’t capable of at this stage, and that’s a wonderful synergy there!

And the completed projects are always so fun to see…  

Yes, indeed! Tell us about the coloring book you recently released. I’m really excited to get my hands on a copy of it.
Folks had been telling me for years that I should make my art into a coloring book, so I started with a horse-based theme that got interrupted by a real-life move of the ranch operation from one state to another. That swallowed about two years, during which I could only peck at various creative projects, but late 2018 felt like there was a little bit of release of pressure from the aftermath of that upheaval, and we buckled down in earnest to pushing that past the tipping point and into reality.

So “Horses of the Elements” Adult (or Advanced, as I like to frame it) Coloring Book was finally born, and we’re hoping to bring out a few more in not too long. Hopefully much less time between start to finish on upcoming ones!

But horses are really such “darlings of the art world”; when you think about it, they’ve been portrayed in nearly every culture whose art has impacted our current impression of art history…back to the caves at Lascaux, there are horses on the walls. They embody so many aspects of our emotion, so I wanted to take that train of thought and really give it wings, so to speak, and allow them to sort of translate the feeling of various elements that aren’t simple to sum up, but complex and vivid entities in our awareness.

So like Thunder and Lightning, Forest Fire, Sea, Volcano… We made winged horses for Air, and Typhoon, and Snow; we did unicorns for each season, just really setting the stage for colorists to let their imaginations take flight, and it’s all based on the universally appealing, and endlessly changeable facets of horsedom in all its forms. From foals to drafts, ponies to hotbloods, we explored the spectrum of equines and their dynamic temperaments! 

Our images run from wildly dynamic forces of nature to the placid, calm side; from showcasing the variety of equine breed types to quiet moments of peaceful friendship.

The one constant is they are all beautiful, and should be fun for anyone to bring to life with color. 

I had a sneak peek at most of the pictures for this coloring book, and I got to color one with watercolor pencils and coaching from a horse expert. Here’s a photo:

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The Origin of The Road to Bremen

Etzel the donkey just couldn’t face walking to the mill this morning. His knees and back ached as if the heavy sacks of grain or flour he often carried were already on his back. His master, Herr Hofmann, stood at the doorway to Etzel’s stall, clucking his tongue like an angry woodpecker.
Ach! Are you coming or not, you insolent, lazy beast?”
Etzel gazed at him. He wouldn’t set foot from his stall, not for all the hay in the field. Well, maybe for that he would. But he certainly wouldn’t go out if Herr Hofmann expected him to make a trip to the mill.
These are the opening lines to my newest book, The Road to Bremen, which released this month. It’s quite different than anything else I’ve published before. It’s a fairy tale retelling, thus fitting under the label of fantasy. It’s 100,000 words shorter than my shortest novel, measuring in at just under 20,000. And it’s written with children in mind, though I attempted to write like my favorite children’s books authors, whose stories don’t talk down to their readers and are therefore appreciated by older audiences, too.

When I started writing The Road to Bremen, I wasn’t sure I would publish it. As my author bio relates, “Bogged down during the crafting of a much longer book, Kelsey started writing a retelling of one of her favorite fairy tales, ‘The Bremen Town Musicians,’ to resuscitate her creativity. She rather liked the result.” I wrote it for fun, and as I wrote, the idea that it would be a nice book to have illustrated began to take shape. I even knew who I’d ask. (Check back for her interview!) Well, that meant publishing, right?

The rest is history, and here we are at the present day. The Road to Bremen is available as a paperback and an e-book.

The Grimms’ fairy tale “The Bremen Town Musicians” is about four elderly animals who have outlived their usefulness, according to their owners. I set my retelling in mid-1600s Germany. Etzel the donkey can’t haul grain like he used to and just wants to rest. Jäger the dog is almost deaf and can no longer hunt or guard his master’s house. Katarina isn’t a good mouser anymore. Rüdiger, being replaced by younger cocks, is destined for dinner. But instead of accepting their fate and concluding that they are indeed useless, these old farm animals set off on a new adventure to pursue a dream: becoming musicians in the grand city of Bremen. But of course the journey is far from easy and far from what they expect.

We have been very honorable in pursuing this music-making and doing such a noble thing with our lives. It is only to be expected that our lives are in danger.”
Rüdiger the rooster

My favorite aspect of writing the story was the characters. Etzel is a humble and visionary leader, yet proud of being a donkey. Jäger is a droopy, lovable hound dog who follows along and tries not to cause trouble. Katarina is a spunky spitfire of a cat who can’t help but be annoyed by Rüdiger the rooster. Rüdiger is an intelligent creature who values dignity and honor and quotes Aesop. Together, they make a band of musicians . . . and more important, a band of friends and heroes.

My illustrator, E. Kaiser Writes, did a phenomenal job of bringing the animals’ images to life on the page. I’m excited to be interviewing her in a couple of days! And I hope you’ll join these animals on their quest if you’re in the mood for a heart-warming read.

See on Amazon