Sisters in Spirit

If there is one thing I will gladly take a beating for, it is the healer who was a mother to me. And the daughter who has followed in her footsteps-my sister in spirit who greets me with a question.

To Slay a Curse

Last week, I talked a bit about found family and how that has played a role in my life. For this post, I want to focus on the theme as it applies to sisterhood.

I come from a small family. Just one brother about two years younger than me. As a kid, I would see my friends with their sisters and kept hoping my parents would give me one too. Cause’ obviously, Mom just had to visit the hospital and bring home a present 😂 Alas, it never happened. Pretty sure they made a pact after my brother 😉 No one needs two of him 😝

So, I’ve basically gone through life adopting sisters for myself! Which works out quite well, actually. You can stick round for the fun and go home when they get annoying 😂

Ok, but in all seriousness, these girls have been my life force through the years. Sometimes very different from me in personality and interests, but always there when I need them with a hug and encouraging word. And no matter how much time passes from parting to meeting, we can pick up right where we left off.

They are the Ami to my Giselle. And I wouldn’t make it through life without them. So, to all my sisters in spirit, know that I love you so much I wrote you a book 💛 And I can’t wait till our next meeting!

Tell me, who is your Sister In Spirit?

Tribe

I fully believe finding your tribe , sisterhood , found family is one of the biggest blessings God gives. Now, this doesn’t mean he’ll only bring you people exactly like you. We all need a bit of diversity and challenge in our lives. But he’ll always give you YOUR PEOPLE. The ones who understand you on a level no one else does.

I’ve had this kind of community several times throughout my life. Each time I thought I lost it, God was SOOO faithful to bring me a new one.

Growing up it was the other foreigners. The ex-pats. The TCKs. The ones who knew what it was to live outside your comfort zone. To always be learning a new language, a new culture, a new life. To never quite
belong. The Brit who comes to your 4th of July party. The Costa Rican who celebrates Thanksgiving with you. Because they know it doesn’t matter why you’re together, just that you are.

I largely lost that sense of community after moving back to the states at 16. I did have a great friend group in college, many of whom I still consider family, but didn’t quite find my people again ’til almost a decade later.

Four years ago, one of said college friends brought me into Realm Makers and Realmies quickly filled that gap in my heart. They come from all walks of life and all over the world, but they know what it is to write. To write for the Lord. And to do so in a genre that is often gravely misunderstood. Once again, to never quite fit in. The ones who admire your cat ears and handcrafted cloak. The ones who will skip class to talk life for hours on end. The ones who cheer their hearts out for the person who just beat them in an award.

Because this is not competition. This is the family of Christ. Laughing with those who laugh and mourning with those who mourn. Showing love and grace, not only to the outside world, but to one another. And I honestly don’t know what I’d do without it.

Now tell me, where is your tribe?

Bookish Food

What are some of your favorite books that celebrate food?

I am a true hobbit and love books that feature a good feast. Aside from The Hobbit; Redwall, Narnia, and Harry Potter come to mind. In fact, I believe most of them have their own cookbooks now. Which I am dying to get my hands on!

When I was writing To Slay A Curse , I knew I wanted to make food A THING. (Ok, it’s probably more a thing in my head than on paper. But I tried, right? 😉) So, I channeled my love for baking into Ami’s character. She’s much better at it 😂 But the one thing she can never quite get right are her mother’s tarts.

Ever since, I’ve wanted to try them myself. I spent hours on Pinterest hunting down the simplest recipes, but never got around to making them. Imagine, then, how happy I was when The Writers Sanctuary provided me with not only a recipe but an excuse to bake one in the Ren Faire Conference I attended recently!

I can now sympathize with Ami. These things are hard to get right! I always envisioned hers as raspberry, but unfortunately that attempt didn’t turn out and I thought it best to stick to the instructions 😅 But when I did, they were delicious!

Have you ever tried tarts? What did you think?

Travel Reads

It’s the time of summer vacations and travel is slowly, slowly opening back up!

But the act of traveling is kind of weird when you think about it. You have this sense of being on a great adventure while stuck in cramped spaces for hours with very little sleep and a good deal of stress. It’s not all ‘pony rides in May sunshine,’ as Bilbo would say. So, you need just the right book to keep that adventuresome spirit up till you reach your destination.

Here’s a mini review on a few fast-paced, action-packed, adventure reads to keep you entertained while you await your own.

Kenan

Kenan is first in the Katiller series by Karis Waters (aka Katie Phillips of Katie Phillip’s Creative Services). An Action Rom-Com featuring Turkish hitmen, a trio of plucky American girls, and the road trip from hell that became your favorite family vacation.

Macario’s Scepter

Macario’s Scepter is first in the Magian series by M.J. McGriff. A Fantasy Adventure featuring pirates, a treasure-hunting nun, sisterhood, and sea serpents! I particularly enjoyed the twist on the twins trope.

Renegade Skyfarer

Renegade Skyfarer is first in the Stones of Terrene series by R.J Metcalf. A Steampunk featuring an amnesiac, an airship crew, dragons, and soulless creatures known as the Void Born. Lots of mystery and twists in this one! And the finale, Blood Bond, just released two weeks ago! If you’re a binger like me, you won’t be kept waiting 😉

Beautiful Scars

We tend to think of scars as ugly, don’t we? They’re reminders of our stupidity, weakness, tragedy, abuse, pain. We may occasionally take pride in one with a great story behind it, but for the most part we hide them in shame.

I know that’s how I’ve often felt about mine. There’s one from disembowelment I’ve always particularly hated. (ok, it was really an ileostomy & reversal 😉). Sometimes I look on it with a sense of pride. Here is proof I can be a warrior! I fought for my life after a premature birth and overcame! But most often, I only see the imperfections. The reminder that I’ve always been small and weak. The fact that I can’t take credit for my scars. After all, I was just a newborn. What did I really do? That’s all down to God, my parents, and the doctors.

But I’m learning that’s where the beauty lies. No battle is won, no scar overcome, by a lone warrior. We need God and each other for true healing. When you can move from ‘this happened to me’ to ‘I survived this’ to ‘God and family saw me through this’ and find pride in that, your scars are no longer ugly imperfections but beautiful reminders.

So today, I’m proudly showing you my beautiful scar.
Now, tell me, brave warriors, what beauty lies behind yours?

Challenge Yourself (And an Ode to a Falcon)

For me, the most challenging form of writing is absolutely poetry. Sure, I can find words that rhyme. But making a cohesive ‘story’ out of them? Then adding in all the meter and rhythm and such? That’s a bit out of my novel-loving wheelhouse. Make it a hiaku? Still too much syllable counting. And freeform is just…weird 😅

I attended The Writer’s Sanctuary’s Ren Faire Conference a couple weeks ago. (Which was a wonderful experience by the way! If you’re a writer looking for good community and solid teachings I highly recommend them) Anyway, when they asked us to write a poem in honor of our guilds, I could have said “Sorry, that’s not my thing,” and let another Falcon take up the torch. After all, this conference was about having fun! But I didn’t.

Why? Because this conference was also about learning and growing, stepping out of your comfort zone a bit. Honing skills you don’t ‘need’ isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I still have no intention to ever become a poet. But I may want to write a story with a prophesy. What if I have kids one day and Doctor Seuss has disappeared from the shelves? Or if magic suddenly breaks through the veil and it’s all music based? I’ll need the skills then!

So I wrote this little ditty. And you know what? I enjoyed it!

Bottom line? Push yourself to look for learning opportunities in areas you’re not comfortable with. You never know when you might need the skills, or what you might end up loving.

Tell me, what challenges you?

Blog Tour Kickoff

Welcome to the To Slay a Curse Blog Tour! We’ve got a lot planned for you this week, but before we get into that, I just want to say a great big THANK YOU to everyone who has supported me on this journey to publication. My first book baby has been officially out in the world only two days and I’ve already sold out of signed copies! Fear not, I have ordered more 😉

Ok, you ready to get this thing started? So am I! Kicking off with my signature tour post, a character interview 😊

Meet Giselle

Character art by Laura Hollingsworth. Rest from Pinterest.

Welcome, Giselle! Thank you so much for taking the time to meet with us today.

‘Tis so good of you to have me! I’m not sure why anyone should care to interview me. But I’ll do my best to satisfy.

Now don’t be like that! My readers have been dying to meet you. The girl who traveled her own mind! And while so young, too. Tell me, dear, how old are you?

I will reach my 19th autumn this year.

See? Your trip was quite the achievement.

*Blushes* I thank you. But, truly, credit must go to the others. I didn’t do all that much mysef.

If you say so. Now, down to business! What’s your favorite scent?

Roses to be sure. I always get this warm, cared for, feeling when I catch a whiff. As if wrapped in a mother’s arms. *smiles sadly.* I like to think my mother kept them about.

Roses are delightful! Even better when coming from a man, right? *sly wink*

*embarrassed laugh* I would not know. I have yet to receive any.

What a shame! And his own mother runs the florist shop. Don’t worry, love, I’ll see that he pulls his act together.

Ah, here’s another favorites question for you. If you had to choose one sweet to eat the rest of your life, what would it be?

Ami’s tarts. She is always so disappointed when they don’t come out just as her mother’s, yet I love them. I attempted baking some myself, once. It was quite the disaster!

Haha! I feel your pain. I enjoy baking, but am not much good.

Now, for one of my personal favorites. If you could go anywhere, where would you go and why?

I would give anything for a chance to see Ivlin. It’s Healer Aliza’s birthplace, you know. And Elden’s home. I want so badly to see their tales.

I don’t blame you. It sounds like a truly magical place. In the vein of tales from childhood, what’s your best childhood memory?

*Eyes gleam* The first time Ami came over! It was rather unexpected and I had just made a dreadful mess in the kitchen. *laughs* I’m sure I looked a fright, flour all over. I was mortified, yet she wasn’t put out. Not one bit. Just picked up a rag and started cleaning! She claimed me as a sister that day and we have been, ever since. I truly don’t know what I would do without her.

Sister friendships are priceless. And it sounds like you admire Ami a good deal. Who else would you say is a personal hero?

It’s no secret where Ami gets her courage. Healer Aliza gave up her home for love, came to a village on the edge of nowhere that feared her, and had kids of her own yet still found room for the lonely girl a cottage over. I aim to be her one day.

What a wonderful legacy to leave. Any other hopes for the future?

I do miss my friends in the mind world terribly. Especially Leal. That boy never failed to bring me a smile. I know there is no going back, so I’d like to find a way of honoring their memory here. Perhaps write their stories down. Tell the lives I know, imagine where they could be now. After all, I’ve got Stella to help.

I think that’s a lovely idea! Come to me if you need anything. I’m more than happy to help.

Many thanks, I certainly shall!

*Consults list* Looks like that’s a wrap! Thank you again for sharing so much with us. It’s been truly inspiring.

It was my pleasure entirely.

And thank you, dear readers, for joining us! I do hope you’ll return for our next stop on the tour!

*Exit together deep in writerly discussion.*

Lineup

Ready for more? You’ll have to wait till tomorrow I’m afraid 😉 Here’s what you’ve got to look forward to in the upcoming week:

January 19 Candice Yamnitz: Book Spotlight (https://candiceyamnitz.com/2021/01/19/book-spotlight-to-slay-a-curse/)

January 20 M.H. Elrich: Author Interview (https://mhelrich.com/author-interview-rae-graham/)

January 21 Cheyenne van Langevelde: Review & Author Interview (https://thedancingbardess.wordpress.com/2021/01/21/to-slay-a-curse-review-interview-with-author/)

January 22 Tamika Doyle: Book Spotlight (http://standingstronginthechristianwalk.blogspot.com/2021/01/book-spotlight-to-slay-curse-by-rae.html)

January 23 Emily Hayse: Review (https://emilyhayse.com/2021/01/23/to-slay-a-curse-tour-stop-review/)

Want to know more about To Slay a Curse? Check out my Books page!

Launch Festivities!

Happy New Year, everyone, and welcome to 2021! Rather than ending the year with a bang, I’m launching it with one 😉 Just two weeks till To Slay a Curse is out in the world! While I don’t have a full-blown party for you, I do have a couple fun activities coming up to celebrate.

Photo Challenge + Giveaway

For the week leading up to release, I’ll be hosting an Instagram photo challenge with a giveaway for both US and International participants! Just make a post following the day’s prompt with #ToSlayACurseChallenge and you’re entered to win. Pop over to Insta for all the rules!

Release Day Q&A

Mark your calendars for January 16 at 7! I will be going live on Facebook and Instagram to answer all your To Slay a Curse questions. Want to know my inspiration for the story? Have a question for one of my characters? Just curious about my writing process or publishing journey? Drop your queries in the comments and show up to find out!

Blog Tour

No graphic for this one as it’s not official yet😅 But, I’m planning a small blog tour for the week following release! It will include an array of posts featuring interviews, reader’s thoughts, and more. Check back here Jan 17 for all the info!

And, of course, my pre-order campaign is still running! If you want your swag, be sure to upload your receipt to the form on my Books page 😉

Phew! That’s quite enough to be getting on with, don’t you think? I’ll be busy as a bee in Jan, so perhaps I’ll get the luxury of being the lump on a log come Feb 😛 How are you kicking off the new year?

Meet the Cast: LOTR Edition

Just over a month till release! Which means it’s time for more consistent About The Book posts 😉 Starting with character intros, of course! Today features Lord of the Rings typecasting. Because seriously, what else do you expect of me? 😛

Main Characters

Giselle: The Unlikely Hero. She’s shy and in way over her head, but she’s not gonna quit!
Ami: The Bold Woman. She has opinions and is not afraid to share them, but she’s also got a pronounced soft side. Very much the mom of the group.
Eamon: The Loyal Friend & Protector. He’s always there, hovering in the background. Doesn’t say much, but when he does it means something.

The Villains

Devoron: Fearsome Monster. A parasitic horror created by arts of the Dark Power. Sadistic creature that will inflict pain for the slightest offense.
Ackley (Giselle’s Uncle): Bitter Old Man. A tragic past and painful infirmity have made him hard. Drowning in bitterness, he vents his rage on Giselle in any way he can, but most often with his fists.
Rajani: Evil Wizard. Creator of the curse and the Dark Power’s most prominent servant. Will do anything to maintain his status.

Side Characters

Lord Elden: Noble Leader. Champion of the downtrodden. Will drop a high-profile mission to escort a pair of peasant women through a deadly wood, just cause he was there. (And I guess you’ve now figured out my fave LOTR men 😉 Also Faramir, but unfortunately I didn’t write one of him 😦 )
Gil & Leal: Overeager sidekicks. Hyperactive cinnamon rolls who try so desperately to be helpful, but usually end up in trouble. Nothing much phases them, even when it should. (These two were seriously so much fun to write!)
Creative One: Christ Figure. I recon this one’s pretty obvious 😛 Mysterious character no one really knows or takes note of till they need him. Rae’s attempt at Aslan LOL (Again, what else do you expect of me 😛 )

And that’s a wrap! Who are you most looking forward to meeting? Also, who’s your fave LOTR dude? Oh, and don’t forget to preorder for swag! Character art of the MCs done by none other than Laura Hollingsworth! There’s a link to the swag form on my Books page.