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

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Bits of News

This post is going to read something like a newspaper … but having news to report is fun!
  • Publication of England Adventure is now complete with release of eBook on Sunday
  • Author interviewed on With a Joyful Noise, the blog of Amanda Tero, on Saturday
  • Pinterest board for England Adventure shows highlights from Marielle’s journey
  • Author decides to participate in Camp NaNoWriMo in April

News bulletin #2 – Check out the interview here, and be sure to look around the rest of Amanda Tero's great blog!

News bulletin #3 – The Pinterest board is a work in progress, but the lovely pictures I’ve found so far should give you a taste of what the characters see in England. If you have a favorite location or picture, feel free to comment on the photo, because I’d love to know!

News bulletin #4 – I am a notoriously slow writer, so making the commitment on an official website to write at least 10,000 words in the month of April was kind of a big step for me. I’m very excited about making this a priority, though, and seeing some headway on my current WIP. I’m looking forward to watching the statistics graph as I register my word count each day. :) Ten thousand words is a safe but low goal, so I’m hoping to do far more than that.

This doesn’t exactly make front page news in this newspaper, since it’s not about writing, but it is tied in with England Adventure. The chinaware pattern “blue willow” becomes a symbol in the novel (you’ll have to read it to find out how! :) ). Mrs. Endicott owns a set and Marielle is enamored with it. I'm pretty crazy about it myself! It’s been my desire for a while to have a dinner set, because it’s my absolute favorite china design, and last week, I was blessed to find one in like-new condition for a great bargain. Marielle would be just as excited about owning it as I am! If you’d like to read a blog post about blue willow and an excerpt from my book, click here

Have you ever done Camp NaNoWriMo or the daunting NaNoWriMo?

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Brothers and Betrayal Blog Tour

Today I am pleased to be participating in the blog tour for author Sarah Holman’s latest release, Brothers and Betrayal, book 2 of the Tales of Taelis series. It’s coming out March 28! I interviewed Sarah, and at the end of this post, you’ll see a giveaway for an e-book copy of Brothers and Betrayal. I've had the privilege of meeting Sarah Holman in person, and she is a wonderful person as well as a talented writer!

Sarah Holman is a not so typical mid-twenties girl: A homeschool graduate, sister to six awesome siblings, and author of three published books and counting. If there is anything adventuresome about her life, it is because she serves a God with a destiny bigger than anything she could have imagined.

Sarah Holman

1) When did you first start writing, and what were your favorite things to write about?
I first started writing because I couldn't find stories that I wanted to read. I wanted adventure stories with strong, yet feminine characters. Adventure and strong, yet feminine characters are still what I love to write about.

2) Who are your favorite authors and how do they inspire both your life and your writing? 
Grace Livingston Hill was my first inspiration as a writer. She was a strong Christian who wrote over one-hundred sweet stories of adversity and romance. Her books were contemporary for their time and they inspired me to start writing. I have also been inspired by the diversity and historical detail of Linda Lee Chaikin and Siri Mitchell, the style and overall perfectness of  Elizabeth Camden, and the timeless wit of Jane Austen. All of these women inspiring my writing and my life.

3) How did you learn about self-publishing, and what were your first books about?
I was praying a lot about direction for my book. My dad suggested I look into self-publishing and so I did. The moment I did, I felt it was what I was supposed to do. I published my first book The Destiny of One, a science-fiction story of a nineteen year old who gets caught up in a grand adventure while she tries to discover what God wants her to do with her life. I loved being able to control my story from start to finish.

4) Is there a similar theme or message in all your books, or do they each say something very different? Or both?
Each of them has a different message, though I am sure you could come up with some similar themes. The Destiny Series is about finding your purpose and following it, no matter the cost. A Different Kind of Courage was about standing up for what is right. Adventure and Adversities is about finding God in the midst of our pain. Brothers and Betrayal is about the forgiveness. 

5) Brothers and Betrayal is a sequel to Adventures and Adversities. What led you to write a medieval series, and what can we learn from this time period?
When I was eleven I became fascinated by Robin Hood and the whole time in which he lived. I think what really drew me into the time is because it was a darker time in history. When things are at their darkest, the light shines the brightest. Good and bad, black and white are easier to see in a dark world. 

6) Tales of Taelis is set in a fictional land, but you've had to research the Middle Ages to create a convincing world. You've also written a novel about the American Revolution. So obviously you enjoy history! But what makes you want to do the hard (and rewarding!) work of writing historical fiction?
History is a passion of mine, but so many make history boring and lifeless. I wanted to spark an interest in history for others by showing that it isn't boring, it is exciting. So many of the issues we struggle with today have been struggled with throughout time. Many answers lie in the past as well as many lessons.

7) Now for a fun question about your personality: What is your favorite color, and how does it tie in with your personality?
My favorite color is sky blue. I think it reflects my love for the great outdoors and the Texas sky. I am also a very old-fashioned girl and soft colors reflect that.

8) Is there anything more you'd like to tell us, person to person or writer to writer?
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the LORD not for men.

Thank you for joining us, Sarah! I really enjoyed the interview!

Check out the other stops on Sarah’s blog tour:

March 19~ Wildflower Acres
March 23~ In The Bookcase
March 25~ Wildflower Acres
March 27 ~ Author Jaye L. Knight 
March 28 ~ The Destiny of One

And ... here is the giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, March 20, 2015

England Adventure Release!

Today’s the day! England Adventure is available in print, and it will soon release as a digital copy as well! 


(The CreateSpace e-store is more beneficial for me, but however you want to get it, I am sooo blessed either way!)

As part of the festivities, Deborah O’Carroll interviewed me today on her wonderful blog The Road of a Writer. While you’re there, check out the rest of her delightful blog!

Here are endorsements that I was honored to receive from two writers:

“Miss Bryant has weaved a story of depth and feeling, putting realistic characters in true-to-life experiences. This is more than a book about girls going on a dream trip to England—it’s edifying fiction about Christ-like love and letting our light shine for Him.”
- C. R. Hedgcock, Author of The Baker Family Adventure Series

“England Adventure is a touching account of how much ordinary people can do to hurt or heal each other. A book with beautiful descriptions of Great Britain and considerable emotional power.”
- Hannah S., homeschool graduate

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

England Adventure Release Date Announcement

This week is the week! England Adventure, the sequel to Family Reunion that at least I have been long awaiting, releases Friday, March 20! Visit my blog or Facebook page that day for the links. My week has been busy getting ready for it …. Yesterday Cheyanne Marie graciously featured me on her blog, cheyannemariebooks, which kicked off the festivities, on Friday I will be interviewed on Deborah O’Carroll’s blog (I’ll get you the link then!), and next week I’ll be interviewed on another blog (details next Tuesday!!). I am so grateful to have been brought to this point by my faithful God. Many thanks to all of you, as well. You've been so encouraging and helpful as I've worked on this book!

Now I must scurry off to get to some editing jobs, but I’ll hopefully “see” you back here on Friday!

These three months I’ve been fixated on how wonderful it’s going to be, but almost never thinking it would happen, because it’s still more like a dream to me than a reality," [I said.] But now that it’s really here, I’m worried about what’s going to happen, and if—if it’s really going to be all that I dreamed it to be.”
“It’s going to be,” Caroline declared. “We’re going to places that have been our favorite places since we were kids, where we’ve always wanted to be: castles and cottages and green hills and forests. We’ll be where all our favorite book characters lived. We’ll be in the most beautiful country in the world!”

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Book Review: Paradise Lost

wikimedia commons, {{PD-1923}}

John Milton’s epic Christian poem Paradise Lost had been taking up space in the back of my mind for about five years, enticing me to read it, but I didn’t respond until last summer. Published in 1667, it’s the greatest work of its kind and, like Don Quixote, Pilgrim’s Progress, and Shakespeare, one of those mountains that define the landscape of Western literature. I knew it would be an elevating read and enlightening to see for myself what the three hundred forty years of hype was all about. I started it in one anthology, then found the complete thing in a book of John Milton’s poems at a maze-like bookshop in Hay-on-Wye, Wales/England. I bought the volume, my own darling book from England, and promptly took several more months to read the great work.

Telling the story of the inception of all things, starting before time began, Paradise Lost imagines Satan’s rebellion, God’s judgment, the world’s creation, and mankind’s fall into sin. Milton wanted to write a biblical epic in the style of the ancient Greek classics and fittingly chose the creation of the world as his subject. It was published seven years after Charles II restored the English monarchy. Before then, the Puritans, under the Cromwells, had governed England in the Commonwealth. Milton was a staunch Puritan and his worldview permeates his epic, including a censure of monarchy, but apparently the Royalists were tolerant and he didn’t land in jail for it.

To be honest, I am not much into poetry. I admire people who love and quote it, but reading and therefore loving and remembering it isn’t easy for me. (If I read more, no doubt I would reverse that, but if it were easier for me, I would read more … so you see, it’s a vicious cycle.) Poetry that doesn’t rhyme, like Paradise Lost, is even harder. But, by alternating great concentration and self-permission to skim, I made it through the difficult bits and enjoyed the entire twelve books.

According to the book Realms of Gold by Leland Ryken, Milton purposefully wrote the first part of the poem, which focuses mainly on Satan and his fellow rebellious angels, in a grandiose, harder-to-understand style with many allusions to Greek mythology. This gives readers a feeling of discomfort and a repellant awe for Satan. So no wonder the first half had me crawling through at a snail’s pace! (I’d thought there might be something wrong with my intelligence.) On the other hand, Milton wrote the sections about God the Father, God the Son, Paradise, Adam, and Eve in an airier, more flowing style with simpler words, beautiful images, and allusions to biblical ideas. No wonder I thoroughly enjoyed those parts. Book VII was my absolute favorite, where the angel Raphael describes the six days of Creation to Adam. So much gorgeous imagery! Several times (throughout the poem) I was reading along and found that Milton had woven in Bible verses from the King James translation almost word for word. For example, in Book VII:

“And saw that it was good, and said, ‘Let th’ Earth
Put forth the verdant grass, herb yielding seed,
And fruit-tree yielding fruit after her kind,
Whose seed is in herself upon the Earth!’
He scarce had said when the bare Earth, till then
Desert and bare, unsightly, unadorned,
Brought forth the tender grass, whose verdure clad
Her universal face with pleasant green;
Then herbs of every leaf, that sudden flowered,
Opening their various colours, and made gay
Her bosom, smelling sweet; …”

Seeing how effortlessly the words of the Bible flow into a poem reminded me how beautiful is the Bible’s expression, no matter the language.

I don’t have time or space for further analysis, but I heartily recommend reading Paradise Lost for yourself one day (or should I say one half-year) so that you can enjoy this God-honoring, mind-enriching poetry!

Have you ever read Paradise Lost? Do you have a favorite poet or a great appreciation for poetry?

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Well Seasoned

As I was pondering what to blog about today, my mom suggested humorously, “How about this dreary weather we’ve been having?” The moment before I had been thinking of how it would be spring break next week and how that always makes me think of my first book Family Reunion, because the entire plot took place during those seven days. And so everything came together for a blog post about the seasons and my Six Cousins series. 

Fortunately for the Austin family reunion, their March was beautiful and spring-like, unlike ours so far this year (it’s still early yet, so I hold out hope). I wrote a post called “A Six Cousins Spring” back in March 2013 detailing how tightly springtime wove into Family Reunion. When I wrote England Adventure, I was delighted to notice an emerging pattern—I love patterns in book series—because that story took place in summer. I see no harm in informing you I have tentative plans for two more books with the Six Cousins, and their stories will occur in fall and winter, respectively … of different years, this time; you’ll see Marielle growing up, Lord willing!

So, when you think of England Adventure, imagine early summer in England, the time of the mid-summer solstice in June, when the sun stays up late—until well after nine o’clock—and when British students are still in their summer school term. Flowers are out in full, and roses … oh, the roses! It’s a marvelous time to be traveling around England; Marielle, Emma, and Caroline consider themselves very fortunate to escape the Texas heat and enjoy the old country in its brightest weeks.

My favorite season is spring; what is yours? Do the seasons play a large role in your writing? What is your favorite season to write about?

St. Paul's through the roses

In other news, I have a short story published by Rivershore Books for sale on Etsy—it’s to help raise money for an organization called the Justice Society, which fights human trafficking. Ironically, it’s called “Field of Blue” and takes place in spring! So if you want a flavor of Texas spring … here’s the link.

Lastly, I added England Adventure onto Goodreads—it’s not published yet!—but I couldn’t wait any longer. So, if you’d like, you can now put it on your “to-read” shelf.