Designing the Cover for Heartsong

Cover Design is a favorite hobby of mine. I say “hobby” because I only do it part time: I want to leave myself time for my own writing and family. Design allows me to explore a side of my creativity other than writing, which makes a refreshing change of pace after slogging through edits or messy first drafts.

Recently, I had the pleasure of designing a cover for Annie Douglass Lima. Since she is celebrating the release of her newest book, Heartsong, with a blog tour this week, I thought it would be fun to talk about the process of designing this cover for Annie.

Depositphotos_18903651_originalAnnie already had a beautiful image picked out that almost perfectly fit her story world. As soon as I saw it, I knew I was going to love this cover. She sent me a blurb about the story and a description of her main character, Liz, as well as a few idea about what she would like to see. Then the fun began.

I began searching for a pre-teen model who would fit her character description. This was, suprisingly, the most difficult part of this entire project. Either the girls looked to angsty, too pouty, or too SCARY (yes, I had to wade through scads of zombie photos). The first concept I sent Annie was with a little girl with a beautiful smile. The first fonts I chose ended up being the ones Annie liked best…which doesn’t often happen, so we were thrilled that it came together so quickly!

Heartsong 1And, yes, we loved the initial concept. But, although the coloring was compelling and the model adorable…the details just weren’t right. The moon was the wrong color and the model too young and too happy. She was also wearing a cute sweater, while the character Liz usually wore a sweatshirt. So we moved on to some other ideas.

After doing some research, we found a model with multiple poses that we kind of liked. The problem was, most of her poses were kind of angsty and creepy. We just didn’t get the vibe we wanted from her expressions. But I found a couple that Annie really liked and decided to give it a try.


Next comes the time-consuming task of photoshopping. It requires a lot of cropping, blending, merging, balancing colors and lighting…trying to make everything work perfectly.


We went through several versions of the moon until we finally came up with something desolate with just a hint of green and still visually appealing and balanced with the overall coverage. We also went through many versions of Liz, changing her size, her pose, the lighting…I even photoshopped a head on her because the pose we liked best had cropped off the top of her hoodie.

The last major adjustment we made to the cover…the color of Liz’s hoodie. In the book, it’s supposed to be a gray/green color that changes hues in the strange alien lighting. And our model is wearing a decidedly royal blue hoodie. So we tweaked the color of the sweatshirt to fit this final detail with the book.

Heartsong Facebook Banner 2

And here we have it! The beautiful, final version of this amazing cover which is both beautiful AND accurate to the story. It was one of the most enjoyable covers I’ve done to date. I hope you enjoyed this little adventure into the realm of cover design.

Buy your copy of Heartsong today!


Interview with Annie Douglass Lima


I am excited to be continuing my participation in the Heartsong Blog Tour. Today, I will be hosting Annie Douglass Lima here on my blog for an interview. I am excited to learn more about her, about Heartsong, and about her writing process. First, let’s learn a bit about Ms. Lima.

Author Bio:

Annie Douglass Lima spent most of her childhood in Kenya and later graduated from Biola University in Southern California. She and her husband Floyd currently live in Taiwan, where she teaches fifth grade at Morrison Academy. She has been writing poetry, short stories, and novels since her childhood, and to date has published eighteen books (fantasy, YA action and adventure novels, a puppet script, anthologies of her students’ poetry, and a Bible verse coloring and activity book). Besides writing, her hobbies include reading (especially fantasy and science fiction), scrap booking, and international travel.

Now it’s time for some questions. Hello, Annie, and thank you for joining us today. Please tell us, how did you come up with the idea for Heartsong?

I had a dream a few years ago in which I was the only human living on an alien world, with one particular alien in charge of my education and integration into their culture. I played with the idea in my mind for quite a while, adjusting and developing it, until eventually it was substantial enough to be the basis for a plot. And thus Heartsong was born!

What is the single biggest challenge you faced when writing your book?

Heartsong is about a human girl who encounters an alien race that’s never had any contact with humans before. Creating the Somavian culture was a challenge to me, because it was so hard not to take elements of cultures from Earth and just assume they would be universal. Even something as simple as pressing a button on a technological device, for example. Would aliens necessarily come up with the idea of pressing buttons? And how about furniture? Just because Somavians’ bodies are shaped similarly to humans’ doesn’t necessarily mean they would design and use furniture in the same ways. And then there’s communication, transportation, employment, clothing, currency, art, music, government. Everything either had to be totally different than on Earth, or there had to be good reasons why it would have developed similarly on Somavia. And of course it all had to be consistent, with every detail joining together to create a cohesive picture of Somavian culture. It was tricky, but I enjoyed the challenge!

Can you recommend any books/authors that inspire you?

Yes! Anything by Anne Elisabeth Stengl or KM Weiland is awesome. I also really like Michelle Isenhoff’s books.

What was your writing process for Heartsong like?

I always begin by outlining my plot two or three different ways, including jotting down brief summaries of what will happen in each chapter. The details change as I go along, and I always end up with more chapters than I originally planned, but I really need that structure to get me started and keep me focused as I write. In this case, I did most of the planning and prewriting in October of 2015, in preparation for drafting the novel during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month; November).

Drafting a 120,000-word novel was not an easy task to complete in a month while working as a fulltime teacher! I love my day job and would never want to quit, but I often wish it left me with more time for writing. One of the secrets to my NaNoWriMo success was getting up early most days and putting in an hour or two of writing before school started. Sometimes I set my alarm for as early as 4:30 a.m. Fortunately, I am a morning person, but it was still hard to get up that early! I pulled some late nights, too, and that was even harder for me. On Saturdays and Sundays I often spent all afternoon writing (mornings were for church and errands).

When November and my rough draft were finally behind me, I let the dust settle for a couple of months before I opened the manuscript again. Then I began the gradual process of dealing with the different marginal notes I’d written as I went along, mostly related to information I needed to add or look up. After that came multiple rounds of revising and editing, with breaks here and there to focus on other books that temporarily pushed their way to the forefront. After that, I read the book aloud to my students, whose responses helped me see where I needed to make changes. Then of course there were beta readers to enlist and their feedback to apply, and my professional editor to read through the whole thing and suggest more changes. After that, Heartsong was finally ready to meet the world!

Are there any characters in Heartsong that you DID NOT get along with while writing this story?

Yes, one. That would be Amelia Chang, the Taiwanese governor of a multicultural human colony in a distant part of our galaxy. She was a hard character for me to write, because she represents a certain (not necessarily pleasant!) side of my own personality. She is strict, you might even say harsh, and yet she makes the choices she believes are in the best interests of those for whom she is responsible. The teenage main character doesn’t get along with her at all and is horrified by some of the things Governor Chang does (and I believe readers will be too). And yet I don’t intend for the governor to come across as a monster or even a villain (though some may see her as both). She’s simply a well-meaning leader with a difficult job in a difficult time, doing her best to protect those under her care … whatever it takes.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from this book?

Sing your true heartsong. And don’t be afraid to sing the heartsongs of those you can represent to others who need to hear them. (That will make sense after you read the book!)

What’s your next project?

I’m putting the finishing touches on a fantasy novel called King of Malorn, which I hope to release on August 1st. It will be book 5 in my Annals of Alasia, and revisits the original characters in a new adventure that takes place five years after the other books.

Bonus: You come face to face with a dragon–what do you do?

  1. Panic!
  2. Pray that it’s from Pern and not Middle Earth.
  3. If it hasn’t noticed me yet, back away slowly until I can get to somewhere safe/hidden.
  4. If it has noticed me, try to casually make conversation so it won’t think I’m afraid (which admittedly is not likely to work since I’ve already panicked by this time).
  5. If it doesn’t eat me right away, ask it for a ride.

Heartsong Internet VersionAbout Heartsong: 

A fun fact about this book…I had the extreme honor of being able to design the cover for this amazing novel. Annie made my job easy, because she already had a background image that she had fallen in love with, that almost perfectly fit her story world. We then began the arduous task of finding a young model that would describe Liz, her bookworm heroine. After several attempts, we finally decided on this amazing version of the cover.

Now, about the story!

Two alien worlds.

One teen emissary.

No reality she can trust.

Thirteen-year-old Liz Smith has been ripped away from one foster family after another for years, so the idea of a permanent home is tantalizing. Who cares if that home is a colony sixty-five thousand light-years from Earth? The friends in her trusty e-reader will keep her company just fine on her interstellar relocation.

But when the adventure of a lifetime turns into the disaster of the cosmos, Liz can only retreat so far into the books that have always sheltered her from loneliness and loss. Trapped in half-truths and secrets that leave her questioning reality, can one orphaned bookworm find a way to stop two races from destroying each other … and somehow write a happy ending to her own story?

If you like books about space travel, aliens, or cross-cultural transitions, you’ll love this poignant science fiction adventure. Get your copy of Heartsong now to start the journey today!

Purchase your copy of Heartsong today!


Heartsong Blog Tour


Two alien worlds.
One teen emissary.
No reality she can trust.
Thirteen-year-old Liz Smith has been ripped away from one foster family after another for years, so the idea of a permanent home is tantalizing. Who cares if that home is a colony sixty-five thousand light-years from Earth? The friends in her trusty e-reader will keep her company just fine on her interstellar relocation.
But when the adventure of a lifetime turns into the disaster of the cosmos, Liz can only retreat so far into the books that have always sheltered her from loneliness and loss. Trapped in half-truths and secrets that leave her questioning reality, can one orphaned bookworm find a way to stop two races from destroying each other … and somehow write a happy ending to her own story?
If you like books about space travel, aliens, or cross-cultural transitions, you’ll love this poignant science fiction adventure. Click here to get your copy of Heartsong now and start the journey today! (Shh! For July 1st and 2nd only, the ebook is available for free!)
Read on for a sample of the story …
Chapter One
My love of reading started the whole thing.
The best place to read on the Laika was in the lifeboats. I’d discovered that on the first leg of the trip, during the flight from Earth to the jump point off of Phoebe. I mean, what else was there to do when we couldn’t see much through the viewports? The view was exciting when there was one, but when you’re far away from anything, space all looks the same.
The hyperspace jump that shot us across the galaxy had been quick, of course, so no time to get bored there. And after we came out of it at the jump point off of Somav, the blue giant that would light my skies for the rest of my life, the flight toward the little moon Soma was pretty exciting, too. I couldn’t stop staring as we passed Somavia, the blue and white planet I knew none of us would ever see close up again. I wondered about the aliens whose home it was. What were they like? The pictures and video Forerunner had sent back, from the few passes it had taken in high orbit, left everyone with more questions than they answered.
Of course, we knew the planet had a breathable atmosphere. If it hadn’t been for the alien race who already lived there — and the tirtellium that we were going to mine on Soma, of course — New Horizons Industries might have decided to set up its colony on the planet Somavia instead of on its moon.
We passed Somavia three days ago, and we’d been orbiting Soma ever since. Which was also exciting, at first. I couldn’t wait to actually get down there and start life on my new home. A home I would get to help create, along with the adult scientists and miners and the rest of the Young Explorers. A home I would never be taken away from just when I was starting to settle in. My forever home. Normally I hated new beginnings, but this one was different. This would be the last new beginning of my life.
Even the colony’s name, chosen by the Samoan astronomer who discovered this solar system, was perfect. Avanoa, which apparently meant opportunity in the Samoan language, sounded to me like a kingdom from some fantasy novel.
Not that life in Avanoa was going to be a fantasy. I knew that starting a colony would be hard work, but that didn’t matter. A real home, with friends I would never have to say goodbye to, would be worth any amount of work.
Soma was interesting to look at, though not as pretty as the planet it orbited. The moon was mostly brown, with splotches of gray-green surrounding the dark blue dots that marked the location of its scattered lakes. With no actual oceans, the moon had just enough water to support a little plant and animal life. Nothing too dangerous, at least as far as we could tell from Forerunner’s pictures. Insects. Some fish and crustaceans that might or might not be edible. Small reptilian or maybe amphibian creatures that lived in and around the lakes. A handful of different mammals, all tiny, that made their homes in the hills. Nothing that seemed likely to bother two hundred human colonists setting up a new home on their world.
Of course, the aliens could be another story. We knew the Somavians had developed a limited form of space travel; we knew they had mines on Soma, too. But whatever they were mining for, it wasn’t tirtellium, and they only had a few tunnel mines in a few locations. We planned to set up our colony hundreds of kilometers away, where if all went according to plan, they wouldn’t even know we were around. Forerunner’s sensors had not detected any other artificial satellites in orbit around either Somavia or Soma, and as far as we could tell, the locals had no instruments capable of detecting Forerunner, no way to suspect we were coming. Its orbit was carefully programmed to keep it out of sight of any of their mines after dark, when it might be visible from the ground as a moving point of light.
The adults all said that hopefully we would never have to encounter any Somavians, but all of us kids hoped we would. I mean, why would anyone in their right mind not want to meet the first real live aliens actually confirmed to exist?
Jessie, who loved science fiction movies almost as much as I loved reading, had often kept Maria and Shaliqua and me awake late into the night back in our dorm room discussing all the possible alien-related adventures that awaited us if we ever made contact. Most of those possibilities were a lot more fun — though some were scarier — than the idea of living in isolation and never letting the locals know we were on their moon.
Anyway, judging by Forerunner’s footage, Somavian culture seemed peaceful, with no evidence of any wars going on down on their home world. If they did find out about the humans in their solar system, hopefully they wouldn’t mind us being there. We wouldn’t bother them, and with any luck, they wouldn’t bother us. And if they did get mad, well, the Laika had some weapons. Not enough to wage war with, but hopefully enough to convince them to leave us alone.
So much to wonder about. So much to look forward to. I could hardly wait to get down to the surface and start my new life. But here we all were, stuck in orbit for three whole days so far. Three painfully long and boring days. Earth days, that is. It had been nearly five Soman days, though we wouldn’t officially switch to using Soman time until we landed.
Atmospheric storms. Who would have thought that storms would be this big of an issue on a world with virtually no precipitation? Our science team had come up with a theory about minerals in the soil reflecting particles and wavelengths from the solar flares that Somav had been throwing out since our arrival. Whatever the case, the result was some pretty impressive windstorms in parts of the atmosphere. Since the spot picked out for Avanoa was directly underneath one of the worst storms, Captain Tyler insisted it wouldn’t be safe to try to land yet.
But no one had anticipated that the flares and storms would go on this long. At first, I was glad of the opportunity to orbit my new home and see what it looked like from space. But after a while the excitement faded, and everyone turned grouchy as we all grew more and more bored and impatient. The movies and games preloaded on our Horizon-brand tablets weren’t good enough to keep everyone happy, not while we had to put the adventure we’d all waited over a year to start on hold indefinitely. And I’d never been a big fan of video games or movies anyway.
So I did what I always do when real people get too annoying. I pulled out my old-school Novareader and turned to my true friends, the ones who never got annoying, who would always be there for me no matter what, who I never had to say goodbye to. And I escaped to the one place I had found on board where nobody would bother me or interrupt my adventures to ask what I was reading or exclaim over their new high score in who-cares-what-virtual-adventure on their RizeTab.
The Laika was designed to be taken apart when we arrived. Its decking and bulkheads would be used to help create Avanoa’s buildings until we could construct permanent residences from local rock, and that was one of the reasons the ship was so large. But big though it was, it had no extra empty space. Every compartment was full of freeze-dried food items, mining equipment, packages of seeds for genetically modified crops designed to grow well in the moon’s dry soil, and educational resources for us youth, because even on an interstellar adventure, there was no escaping school in some form.
So I had discovered in between Earth and Phoebe that the lifeboats were the best place to read. I wasn’t sure if I was really supposed to hang out in them, but they were unlocked, because after all, what would be the point in locking something that people would need to get into in a hurry in an emergency?
I sat curled up on a seat in Lifeboat 1, alternating between reading and looking out to see if anything interesting had come into sight down below. But from this angle, the one window — a wide viewport at the very front — was mostly full of stars, only a tiny sliver of Soma visible from one edge. I could have turned on the screen at the lifeboat’s navigational console and adjusted it to show me any view I liked, but that might trigger some sort of alert, and I didn’t want anyone showing up to tell me I wasn’t supposed to be in here.
So I joined Caz and her friends on their travels across the Granbo system, caught up in their space adventure on my Novareader screen, since my own space adventure had turned pretty dull. Lunch was another two hours away, so I might as well enjoy myself in the meantime.
And I did — until the ship vibrated more vigorously than usual and the fasten seatbelts sign flicked on.
I often felt as though several of me were debating inside my head. For a moment, Cautious Liz wondered if I should return to my seat. But what was the point? Practical Liz reminded me that I would be just as safe here in the lifeboat, and if the turbulence got bad, walking around with the Laika lurching under me would not be the smartest idea.
I already had my seatbelt on, since that was the best way to keep from floating around. Not that floating around wasn’t fun, but there was too little room in the lifeboat to do mid-air flips and spins without banging into things, and drifting around while I read made it hard to focus on the book. Of course my magnetic-soled shoes could have kept me anchored to the deck, but not when I wanted to sit cross-legged.
So I just tightened my seatbelt a little and turned back to The Gypsy Pearl. We had encountered turbulence lots of times in the last few days, thanks to the solar flares. It was no big deal.
But the vibrations grew stronger, and then the ship started lurching under me. I lowered my Novareader and looked around, but there was nothing to see here in the little lifeboat. The stars jumped and jerked outside the window, and if it hadn’t been for my seatbelt, I knew I would have been thrown about and probably injured already.
I waited for the crackle of the intercom and Captain Tyler’s voice to explain what was happening or issue instructions. But I heard nothing, and I wondered if the flares had damaged the lifeboat’s intercom system. They had interfered with the Laika’s electrical systems before, after all. Now I wished I’d returned to my seat while I could. If something dangerous was happening, I would rather face it with the others in the main cabin, where at least I would know what was going on.
Without warning, the lights flickered and then went out. Now that was a first. An instant later, an alarm screeched, making me jump. I gasped, really worried for the first time since we left Earth. The screeching continued as the stars swirled and zigzagged, sending faint but frightening shadows thrashing around me like alien spirits trying to take over the ship. For a second I wondered if that could actually be happening. Maybe the Somavians had powers we didn’t know about. Maybe they were trying to drive us out of their system … or worse.
Then the emergency lights embedded in the deck glowed to life, and I let out my breath in relief. The navigational computer two rows ahead of me powered on automatically, its screen lighting up green.
My relief was short-lived, though. The alarm kept blaring its intermittent warning. Screech! Silence. Screech! Silence. Screech! The turbulence was worse than ever, as though the Laika was a wild horse, bucking and leaping and trying to throw its rider off. And that rider gripped the edge of her seat all alone there in the lifeboat, wondering what in the universe was happening.
Suddenly the whirling stars vanished and Soma swung into view, filling the viewport ahead of me, a blur of brown-blue-gray-green-brown. I barely had time to notice before it was gone and the streaking stars reappeared. Then the moon appeared again.
My stomach was spinning as fast as the ship. Thank goodness I had inherited the Smith Stomach of Steel, or my breakfast would probably have ended up all around me. I could only imagine what a nasty experience that would be in zero gravity with the ship thrashing around like this.
A new noise caught my attention. A mechanical noise, a series of clicks and clinks and the sliding of metal against metal. I had only ever heard it before in simulations, but I recognized it right away, and my heart lurched in terror. “No!”
Words flashed across the computer screen, large enough to read from where I sat. LIFEBOAT LAUNCHING.
“No! I yelled again. I fumbled for the seatbelt clasp and flung myself across the tiny cabin, lunging for the manual override button beside the door. Not a smart move, I have to admit, considering how wildly everything was jerking around me. But I panicked. Can you blame me? None of our training, none of the simulations, had dealt with what to do if the lifeboat you were sitting in alone accidentally detached from the ship.
I knew what to do if a lifeboat didn’t detach when it was supposed to. I knew which lifeboat I was supposed to board in an emergency. Not this one, though they were all the same. I knew who my lifeboat buddies would be — a fairly even cross-section of the ship’s crew in terms of age and abilities, so we would have the best possible chance of survival in case not every lifeboat made it. I knew how to steer the lifeboat and bring it down for a controlled landing, even though I wasn’t the assigned helmsperson in my group. We had all learned all those skills, just in case.
But I didn’t know how to survive in deep space or on Soma’s surface on my own. The cupboards contained emergency rations and survival gear, of course, but not enough to live off of indefinitely. Of course the lifeboat would emit a signal that the ship’s sensors would pick up — I knew they were picking it up already, as of the moment my craft started to detach — but what if no one could come and get me right away? What if I landed on Soma, but the Laika couldn’t land for days or even weeks? They would have no way to rescue a stranded teenager who shouldn’t have been reading in a lifeboat in the first place.
And what if the aliens found me before my people did?
All that went swirling through my brain within a couple of seconds as I slammed my fist into the manual override button again and again. But nothing happened. That is, the hatch didn’t open to let me out into the ship’s corridor. But the incessant alarm finally went silent, and the frantic jerking and thrashing stopped, replaced by a slow, gentle twirl.
For a second, Optimistic Liz dared to hope that the trouble was over. But I knew that wasn’t it.
The lifeboat was no longer connected to the ship.
Too horrified even to yell again, I watched the Laika drift past the window, Somav’s light tinting her silver-white hull a metallic frostbite-blue against the blackness of space. She was still spinning and dancing like some huge bird as the solar flares played havoc with her electrical systems. And then I saw only stars, and then the mottled brown of the moon, then more stars. And then there went the Laika once more, further away this time.
Grabbing the back of a seat for leverage, I shoved off from the deck, thankful for the zero-gravity training. Floating was faster than clomping along in magnetic shoes, and I had to get to the controls now. I had to steer myself back to the ship.
But as I seized the arm of the helmsperson’s chair and maneuvered my body into it, I realized I had no idea how to reattach a lifeboat to its socket on the ship’s side. They had never taught us that. Were lifeboats even designed to reattach once they were separated?
Well, somebody must know the proper procedure for this kind of emergency. Captain Tyler or one of the other adults could talk me through the process. Right?
I fumbled for the seatbelt, twisting my ankles around the legs of the chair so I wouldn’t float off in the meantime. Jabbing the intercom button, I called, “Help! I’m in a lifeboat that just detached! What do I do?”
Realizing how panicked and little-girly I sounded, I took a deep breath and tried again. “I mean, this is Liz Smith on Lifeboat 1, calling anybody on the Laika who can hear me. Come in, please.”
There was no response, and I realized that the communication light wasn’t even on. The intercom was offline.
Great. Dang solar flares.
I took another deep breath. I had never felt so alone.
But the controls in front of me looked exactly like the ones in the simulator. I could do this. It would be just the same as I had practiced.
Except this was no game, where the only real struggle was to beat my classmates, to be the first to land my virtual lifeboat safely.
This was a real emergency.
This was my life at stake.

Buy Heartsong from Amazon in Kindle or paperback format here:

About the Author:

Annie Douglass Lima spent most of her childhood in Kenya and later graduated from Biola University in Southern California. She and her husband Floyd currently live in Taiwan, where she teaches fifth grade at Morrison Academy. She has been writing poetry, short stories, and novels since her childhood, and to date has published eighteen books in a wide variety of genres (science fiction, fantasy, YA action and adventure novels, a puppet script, anthologies of her students’ poetry, and a Bible verse coloring and activity book). Besides writing, her hobbies include reading (especially fantasy and science fiction), scrapbooking, and international travel.



Blog, Interviews

Renegade Skyfarer Blog Tour and Interview

I am thrilled to be participating in another blog tour this month. This book looks amazing, and I can’t wait to read it. I mean, how can you go wrong with an airship? Let’s jump right in and learn about Renegade Skyfarer and its amazing author, RJ Metcalf!

  1. Hello, RJ! What inspired you to write this fantastical story? Are any of the characters in your story inspired by real people? 

The true inspiration for this story came from my husband, Mike. He’s the one that dreamt of this amazing world, and he knew the general plot points, from start to finish.

We’re a team, and while he knew the plot points, he didn’t know how the characters would get from place to place, or the details in between.

It could be said that he created the bones, and I fleshed it out, adding the heart and soul. (sounds kind of like we’re making a chimera here. Maybe I should think of a different analogy…)

There’s some supporting characters that are inspired by real people, but no main characters. All the main characters are uniquely themselves. But there’s one secondary character who I literally took her real-life counterpart, tweaked her a bit to fit into the world, then plopped her in. Granted, that character has grown much since she was first introduced in the prequel (which will be out Winter 2019), and she’s become her own unique character now, but she originated from a friend here. And I had tossed myself in there as a point of amusement, and then panicked a bit when she became a bigger role in book two. That’s not what I had planned! But, as any writer will tell you, sometimes the characters revolt and inform you that the plans have changed, deal with it.

  1. Tell us about your writing space: what does it look like? 

**sheepish laugh** Organized chaos? I got a large desk from Goodwill last summer, and at the time I thought it’d be bigger than I needed. Now I’m contemplating how I can get a bigger desk to fit in our room, as it feels like I’m always running out of space! I have a laptop and a second monitor, my speakers, a crystal salt lamp, a mug of pens and pencils, a desk lamp, two candles, a stack of character notes, dinosaur references, and my calendar on my left, and a pile of editing notes to my right. (As well as my chai. That’s a very important item on my desk.)

And then there’s my sticky notes. I have sticky notes on my desk by my speakers and on my second monitor. Sticky notes on the wall to my left (and maps. I have many maps), and sticky notes lining the window in front of me. Airship pictures to the right of the window, and more sticky notes on the side of the bookshelf that’s also to my right.

…I like my sticky notes.

  1. Do your characters talk back to you?

Yes! And sometimes they’ll do something completely unplanned that just fits, and then I have to change all I’d had planned in my outline to accommodate for whatever foolish decision they’ve just made. **rubs forehead** These guys sometimes cause me great vexation. I love them.

  1. Tell us about the next book in this series: have you started writing it yet? Will it follow the same set of characters? 

Oh, yes. Book two, Void Born, will be coming out this fall, and it will pick up soon after where Renegade Skyfarer leaves off. There’ll be four books in this series (plus a prequel, anthology, and a stand-alone book), and they’ll all be taking place in the same world, with many of the same characters.

It’s going to be a wild ride. And I’m looking forward to sharing it with everyone so soon!

  1. And, finally, a dragon asks to borrow your car: what do you say? (I could also share a snippet from the book of the author wants to send one along, as well as her bio and social media links)

Well, I can only assume it’s not a dragon from my world, so I’d probably just back up and let it, as I don’t know what kind of dragon this is, and I’m rather fond of living. **laughs** If it’s a dragon from my world, then it’s not sentient, and if it wants my car, that’s fair, because I’ll want its hide for selling on the market, let alone the nutrients of dragon meat, so I’d probably battle it.

…Unless it’s a stalker. In which case, I’m out of there. Nopedy nope nope.

I was asked about a snippet, so here’s something fun from an early Jade chapter for y’all:

While peaceful, if spooked, a plodder could kill a man with a single swipe of its plated tail. And if they used their ability to manipulate heat and make the spikes on their tails burning hot? As a girl on the Sapphire, she’d seen a crewmember return from a mission, mangled and burned beyond comprehension from an angry plodder. While it wasn’t the first grisly sight she’d witnessed, she’d never been able to get it out of her mind. There was no desire in her body to disagree with Victor’s wisdom.

The forest darkened around them as she waited for Victor to signal for them to continue moving. At this point, the guys were probably already back at the buggy. Would they be worried yet? Had they found something and forgotten to use the flares?

What about her father’s team? Had their years roaming southern Terrene, searching for clues to fix her father’s number one regret finally come to an end?

A boom thundered overhead, and pine needles rained down onto Jade and Victor. She looked up just long enough to see the streaks of an orange flare, and then a bleating roar ripped her attention to the plodders before them.

“Bleeding whales,” Jade swore, horror rippling through her skin.

Victor drew his sword. “Stay on your feet. Try not to be seen. And don’t let them hit you.”

Jade watched as the group of dragons spread into a star shape in the undergrowth, their heads in the center, tails thrashing the surrounding sparse vegetation. She slid her sword out of its sheath silently. Should they jump back behind the log? They’d be blind to the dragons then, and the plodders were huge—they’d likely just break right through it.

One turned its head from the center and looked back, its beady black eyes staring right at her. It roared and the others swiveled their heads to look at her.

Victor swore. “Run!”

About the Book

The airship crew saved Ben’s life from a dragon, of all things.

When Ben wakes up, he has no memory of his family, his home, or how he got to this strange world. All he knows is what his new crew members tell him: the magical Barrier that protects their land is weakening. Unless they find the artifact that can repair it, all of Terrene will be destroyed and enslaved by the enemies beyond.

But when Ben suspects that danger may lurk closer than dragons or sky pirates, he has to decide: stay and fight with the airship crew, or focus on regaining his lost memory? If he leaves, he risks losing his newfound friends–but if he stays, he might never return home.

Welcome to Terrene–where dragons exist, the past haunts, and magic is no myth.

Welcome aboard the Sapphire.

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About the Author

During the day, Becky is a stay at home mom of two active little boys. When she has ‘free time’, she enjoys reading, writing, baking and sewing.

After many years of creative writing classes, writing fanfiction drabbles and daydreaming, it was high time to start writing her husband Mike’s story. She dove into the world of Terrene and hasn’t looked back—except for when she runs out of dark chocolate.

Any free time not spent in Terrene is typically expended on hosting dinner and game nights, running amok with the two little monkeys or watching nerdy movies with Mike.

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Let’s Party!

Calling all book readers! Join author RJ Metcalf as we chat about her fantasy novel RENEGADE SKYFARER on July 6th from 8 PM to 10 PM EST (7 PM CST and 5 PM PST).

Grab your favorite drink and snack and be prepared for a fun time of chatting with RJ, games, and giveaways.

Special guests S D Grimm and Jamie Foley, Authorwill also be sharing their books and joining in the fun.



Giveaway Time!

Want to dive into a new world or in need of a good book? Enter to win a signed print copy of Renegade Skyfarer, a Stones of Terrene notepad and pen, Notebook of Writing, and bracelet! (US only.)

>>> Entry-Form<<<

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, July 2nd

Tuesday, July 3rd

Wednesday, July 4th

Thursday, July 5th

Friday, July 6th

Saturday, July 7th

Monday, July 9th

Tuesday, July 10th

Wednesday, July 11th

Thursday, July 12th

Friday, July 13th

Saturday, July 14th

Monday, July 16th



Cover Reveal for Sarah Addison-Fox

Discerned Kindle CoverI am so excited to be sharing this cover with you today. Isn’t it beautiful? I had the special, special honor of designing this cover for Sarah. She always brings me the most beatiful stock photos to work with, which makes designing her covers a treat.

Let’s learn a bit about the story, releasing in August, 2018!

Discerned Cover Reveal Graphic

Discerned, Book Four of the Allegiance Series by Sarah Addison-Fox 

The war may be over, but the battle for peace has just begun.

When newlyweds Mick and Celeste Haynes accept the offer to search for rogue agents inside Kyraenea, what should have been one final adventure becomes Torrance Kyle’s worst nightmare.

Amaya Mason may no longer be an agent, but there is no way she’ll allow a mistake from Torrance’s past to wreck their happy ending. No matter the cost. No matter what she might lose.

For Mick Haynes, marriage isn’t the simple solution he thought it would be. Torn between wanting to shelter the woman he loves and accepting she is no longer a frightened slave, he’s struggling with his own expectations and with every secret she reveals.

Celeste’s confidence and her faith are growing, but when she confronts the father who abandoned her as a child, he threatens to destroy the happiness and acceptance she’s only just found.

Can Torrance let go of the past and embrace his future?

Is peace even possible for those who’ve spent their lives in constant battle?

New profile photoAuthor Bio:

Sarah Addison-Fox is a New Zealand-born home-schooling mother of two who loves action-packed fantasy with strong heroines. She has an astonishing amount of nail polish, has all her creative writing credentials shoved in a drawer somewhere, and has a husband who, after 27 years, can still make her blush. When she’s not working on her Christian YA fantasy series’, she can be found fangirling on Goodreads or sending GIFs on Twitter.

Connect with her:


The Allegience Series Complete Graphic


The Last Motley


When I saw the cover for this new book by DJ Edwardson, I knew I had to read it. It spoke to me in a way most covers don’t. The story was no less compelling. I loved it. The unique story, the rich world and colorful characters, the Tolkienesque feel…brilliantly done.

A few things I liked:

  1. The premise

The whole idea of the story really intrigued and held my attention. A little boy is cursed with a terrible magic and our unlikely hero must set out to try to save him. Along the way he meets colorful characters, impossible challenges, and overwhelming odds. The motleys, the gypsies, the shadow-things-who’s-names-I-can’t-recall…ah, just loved it. And some of the plot twists totally threw me.

  1. The family dynamics

This is my favorite aspect of the story. It’s refreshing in our day and age to find a good, clean story about a healthy family. The dad loves the mom, who loves him back, they have a kid, a simple life, they’re happy…it’s so heart-warming. I also love how they immediately open up their hearts and home to little Jacob, even though he is different from them.

Contrasted to this, you have the gypsies, with their wild, selfish, unlawful ways. Which makes Roderick and his family shine all the more brightly.

  1. Nagan and Portia

These two surprised me. They’re hilarious. They’re flawed. I wasn’t sure what direction the author was going to take them when Nagan first showed up, but—gasp—the depth of his character arc is astounding. Brilliantly done! Loved every moment of these two. In a heavy book with lots of danger, these two brought a spot of color and laughter to the pages.

  1. The suspense

The author did an amazing job of pulling you from one chapter to the next. There are very few, carefully placed, slow places. DJ doesn’t let you stop for long but pulls you from one dangerous situation to the next.

Was there anything I didn’t like? Meh, not really. I wanted to knock a few heads together on occasion, but I was supposed to feel that way about them. If you are a fan of Tolkien and like quest stories, you will definitely enjoy The Last Motley.

I rate this book a high PG for thematic elements and tasteful, fantasy violence.

Purchase your copy today!




The Nameless Soldier

Nameless Soldier Internet VersionThe Nameless Solider

By Annie Douglass Lima

This was one of the best little stories I have read this year. It was filled with danger and adventure, packed with character development and introspection, and sported a bit of humor and the sweetest romance. I was worried I would have a difficult time settling into the story world since this is technically Book Four, but the author assures her readers that each book is stand alone. And she spoke the truth. I also really appreciated a little note she added at the end of the novella, listing some of the lingering questions I had and reassuring me I could find answers in the other books.

What I liked:

  1. Tarvic. He was such a likeable and subtly flawed character. Watching his internal struggle as he battled his way back from a dark, painful place trying to regain his self-respect and honor…it was truly well done. I loved him, even at his darkest moments.
  2. The sisters. They were all so sweet and spunky. I would have liked to see a bit more character development for them, as they remain pretty even through the story, but they have their own struggles and fears which keeps them three dimensional and interesting. And did I mention spunky? They say some of the funniest things.
  3. The romance. The relationship that blossoms in this story is so sweet and delicately handled. There is just enough tension to keep you enthralled, but not so much as to drown out the beauty in their simple, but flourishing relationship. It warmed my heart and left me wishing for more.

What I didn’t like:

The only thing I wish the author had done differently as to have made this a full length novel. I admit there is not enough story here to make a full novel, but I enjoyed the characters so much I was sad to see them go.

If you enjoy sweet, clean fantasy worlds, you will enjoy The Nameless Soldier. There is no magic, but there is adventure, intrigue, and sweet, sweet romance. I rate this novella PG for Thematic elements, a few tastefully handled battle sequences, and light romance.

Click here to buy the ebook or paperback from Amazon. (The ebook is just $0.99 through June 6th!)

Annie Douglass LimaAbout the Author:

Annie Douglass Lima spent most of her childhood in Kenya and later graduated from Biola University in Southern California. She and her husband Floyd currently live in Taiwan, where she teaches fifth grade at Morrison Academy. She has been writing poetry, short stories, and novels since her childhood, and to date has published seventeen books (four YA action and adventure novels, five fantasies, a puppet script, six anthologies of her students’ poetry, and a Bible verse coloring and activity book). Besides writing, her hobbies include reading (especially fantasy and science fiction), scrapbooking, and international travel.