A Time to Rise Cover Reveal

Today I have the privilege of helping reveal the cover for the stunning conclusion to the Out of Time Series by Nadine Brandes: A Time to Rise.

cover reveal feature image

If you’ve followed Penprints for a little while, you know by now that I am obsessed with think that this series is pretty amazing.

If you need a refresher, you can check out this review or this one (definitely this one) or this post or this one also because this series is incredible.

There are few (very few) books–fiction and non-fiction–that have had such a massive impact on me spiritually.

I gush over this series so much that it disturbs my family (they are disturbed only because they do not understand).

The first two books.

first two covers

A Time to Die

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A Time to Speak

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The Cover.

A Time to Rise Cover

Isn’t it beautiful!?!?!?

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A Time to Rise releases October 14, 2016.

The Blurb.

What more can you sacrifice than your life?

Parvin Blackwater is dead.

At least…that’s what the Council—and the world—thinks. But her sacrifice tore down part of the Wall long enough to stir up hope and rebellion in the people. Now she will rise again. Strong, free, and fearless.

Parvin and Solomon must uncover the mysterious clues that Jude left behind in order to destroy the projected Wall once and for all. Meanwhile, the Council schemes to new levels of technology in its attempts to keep the people contained. Can a one-handed Radical and a scarred ex-Enforcer really bring shalom to the world?

 The Author.

Nadine-1024x713Carol Award-Winning Author & 2-time Christy-Award Finalist, Nadine Brandes, is committed to fusing authentic faith and bold imagination. She id a dorky writer who gets way too goofy-excited about books. Her debut novel — A Time to Die — released through Enclave Publishing in 2014.


You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and her website.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Enter to win a set of magnetic bookmarks fashioned after characters from the Out of Time series! Guys, these bookmarks are so fun!! I have Parvin herself, and she sits in my books all the time!

Happy Hello bookmarks

And now all three covers together because they’re so pretty.

all three covers


Are you excited about A Time to Rise? Have you read the other books? What do you think of this cover???


#Called2Speak for the Lost

What makes you want to speak out?

Today I have the honor of participating in #Called2Speak Blog Hop which is promoting the dystopian novel, A Time to Speak by the fabulous Nadine Brandes (the awesome book two in the Out of Time series which released October 16 so you can go buy it now). On the #Called2Speak hop, we’re supposed to speak out about something we’re passionate about.

P.S. – there’s a giveaway at the end! :) :)

Hashtag-Called2Speak-5I thought about a bunch of different topics I could write about, but nothing knocked me off my feet. I’m passionate about a variety of things, but none of them… fit. I wasn’t called to speak about any of them.

Instead, after praying and more thinking, it turns out that I’m called to speak about something I’m not passionate about. I’m called to speak for the Lost.

Who are the Lost?

The Lost are those without Christ.

I’m called to speak for the Lost because I’m not the only one lacking a passion for them. In fact, I’d have to say that this dispassion is widespread and worsening day by day.

Honestly, I don’t really care about the Lost. Not truly. If I loved the Lost, I would share my Hope with them; I would share Christ with them. But I don’t. I act kind and convince myself that showing them Christ is more important, more effective, than telling them Who the Truth is. If I’m nice and smile, they’ll figure it out. No need for me to bring Him up and make things awkward. *shudder* We wouldn’t want that. No, no. I’ll stick to my sweetness and “glow,” and if they ask about Him – and I’m secretly hoping they won’t – I’ll figure something out. Yeah, this is a great plan. Osmosis all the way.

After twelve – almost thirteen – years of these genius tactics, I’ve lead a grand total of zero people to Christ. What, no applause?

The question is, am I going to throw away the next thirteen years “reaching” the Lost this way?

Now, some may think, “Come on. It’s not that big of a deal. If God wants them to get saved, they will eventually.”

Um, no. No matter how I slice it, according to Scripture, sharing the Gospel is a nonnegotiable.

In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus told the disciples (and us), “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Step one in disciple-making: share the Gospel. But I’m not. I’m not obeying this command, which begs the question, how much do I love Christ? He said that if I love Him, I’ll obey His commands (John 14:15).

And then there’s Acts 1:8 which says: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.”

To witness is “to bear witness to; testify to; give or afford evidence of” according to the dictionary. If I’m God’s witness, I should be declaring His Gospel. But I’m not.

I find the worst part isn’t that I don’t love the Lost. I don’t think it’s even that I’m being disobedient. The worst part is that I don’t care that I don’t love Christ enough to obey this command or that I don’t truly want to see souls saved to Christ.

There’s something desperately wrong with my heart. I can rattle off a list of excuses. Just watch and see.

I’m not elegant when I talk.

I’m haven’t studied enough to accurately share the Gospel.

I’m not brave.

But ultimately, I don’t want to.

And that right there is so many different shades of weak and wrong.

God says, “For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” – Matthew 10:20. That axes my whiny “I’m not elegant” excuse.

God says, “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” – 1 Peter 3:15. This command throws my lazy “I haven’t studied” right out the window.

God says, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” – 2 Timothy 1:7. That demolished my whimpering “I’m not brave.” Because of Christ, I don’t have to be, shouldn’t be, afraid.

So, where is my love for the Lost? How do I get a passion for them?

It’s simple.

If I truly love my Lord, He will give me wild love for the Lost. There’s hope for me yet. He can overcome my weakness, and He can strip away the selfishness in my soul if I want Him to, if I ask Him to, if I let Him.

I don’t think I’m the only one who struggles with loving the Lost. I don’t think I’m the only one who has come up with a list longer than the Nile as to why I don’t, can’t, won’t share the Gospel.

But, friends, we’ve got to change.

This is not how it’s supposed to be.

I want to close with a quote from David Platt’s book Radical (which you can enter for a chance to win here): “Every saved person this side of heaven owes the Gospel to every lost person this side of hell.”

Tell me honestly. Do you love the Lost?

A Time to SpeakWhat happens when you live longer than you wanted to?

Parvin Blackwater wanted to die, but now she’s being called to be a leader. The only problem is, no one wants to follow.

The Council uses Jude’s Clock-matching invention to force “new-and-improved” Clocks on the public. Those who can’t afford one are packed into boxcars like cattle and used for the Council’s purposes.

Parvin and Hawke find themselves on a cargo ship of Radicals headed out to sea. What will the Council do to them? And why are people suddenly dying before their Clocks have zeroed-out?

Book Two in the “Out of Time” series.

Read about the first book, A Time to Die, here.

To learn more about the author, Nadine, you can check out the interview I had with her last week and enter for a chance to win paperback copies of A Time to Die and Radical by David Platt, or you can visit her website.

ALSO, what makes you want to speak out?  If you want to participate in the #Called2Speak Blog Hop, just write up a post about whatever you are passionate about, and tag it with #Called2Speak!

The Giveaway!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Okay, I’m not going to lie.  The awesomeness of this giveaway is severely stunted because my blog won’t show the Rafflecopter widget (blast you, blog vs rafflecopter feud!).  If you click on the link, you will discover an opportunity to win signed (SIGNED!!!!) copies of BOTH A Time to Die and A Time to Speak.  Guys, do it.  These books are twelve different kinds of incredible.

Now, to here is a list of all the other bloggers who have participated in the #Called2Speak Blog Hop so far.  Go ahead and check out what they’re passionate about by following the links below. :)

9.28.15 – Gretchen Engel
9.30.15 – Nadine Brandes
10.01.15 – Jason Joyner
10.05.15 – Gretchen Engel (part 2)
10.06.15 – Tricia Mingerink
10.08.15 – Gretchen Engel (Scriblerians)
10.09.15 – Emilie Hendryx
10.11.15 – Janeen Ippolito
10.12.15 – Zachary D Totah
10.14.15 – Brittany Valentine
10.15.15 – Andrew Swearingen
10.17.15 – Megan Besing
10.19.15 – Angel Roman
10.20.15 – Charles Franklin
10.21.15 – Lisa Godfrees
10.23.15 – Shantelle Hannu
10.27.15 – Natalie Walters
10.29.15 – The Artist Librarian
11.02.15 – Rosalie Valentine
11.17.15 – Amanda Fender


A Time to Speak Review (5/5)

* I received a free copy of A Time to Speak from the wonderful Nadine Brandes in exchange for my honest review. *

*****************WARNING!!!!! If you have NOT read A Time to Die, read no further! If you HAVE read A Time to Die, read without fear of spoilers!!**********************

“I’ve been robbed of my death. A date was set, a coffin prepared, and a grave dug in the earth, yet I breathe against my own will as my brother is lowered six feet down. The smooth wood coffin displays the best of Father’s carpentry skills. Did he originally carve it for me?”


Parvin Blackwater was supposed to die. She was ready to die. She wanted to die. But she didn’t. The clock she shared with her twin zeroed out, and he died while she survived – much to the chagrin of just about everyone. While battling grief, Parvin tries to protect Willow, schemes of how to rescue Elm, and tries to adjust to the strange place her home has become. And the faith and God Who carried her through the West seem hard to reach with Reid and Jude dead, Jude’s clock-matching invention in the hands of the Council, and Elm starving inside the Wall. When her situation goes from bad to worse, Parvin is called to lead, but how can she lead if no one wants to follow?


A Time to Speak feature imageI literally had no words when I finished A Time to Speak at 1:30 in the morning. I just stared at my Kindle questioning my existence. I’m not even kidding.

When I began reading, I drank up the first lines slowly, appreciating the rich detail and sinking slowly back into the world of A Time to Die. But I couldn’t go slowly for long, for peril was quick to rear its heart-pounding head, and I was soon swimming through pages as quickly as possible. It was as if I was getting reacquainted with the old friends who I had come to love in A Time to Die.

I had liked A Time to Die Parvin, but I loved A Time to Speak Parvin. She was amazing, and it wasn’t because she was so brave or always made the right choice. I loved that she moving forward and making progress in every aspect. Her character arc continues in a beautiful way, and I can’t wait to see where it ends! Also, the reader gets to meet several new characters who add adversity or encouragement to the story while Ms. Brandes continues to flesh out the veterans from the first book.

Next to strike me was Solomon Hawke, Jude’s brother. I just… I mean…wow. He’s simply amazing. I was so glad to get to know him better than I had in A Time to Die, but I can’t quite put my finger on why I like him so much! He’s kind, gentle, and wise! Just… read the book and find out for yourself. I can’t tell anymore coherently and without spoilers.

One part of this book that gripped me was actually fairly small. It was the relationship between Parvin and her brother’s widow, Tawny. It was fragmented and difficult; it was real. Family isn’t all flowers, and Parvin’s family is no exception.

Ms. Brandes continued to build on her expansive world in new and exciting ways! While the technology was intuitive and interesting, the landscapes that she paints are stunning! I wish I could say more, but I’d give spoilers! :(

Now, A Time to Die wasn’t a walk in the park and neither is A Time to Speak. It’s intense. The characters suffer a lot, and the body count is pretty high. However, Ms. Brandes doesn’t go into much gross detail; she shows enough for the reader to think, “Oh, wow. Oh, no. No, no, that can’t be good.” or “No, no, don’t do that! That’ll make it worse!”

Also, the stakes are much higher than they were in A Time to Die, but Ms. Brandes weaves in enough humor that the tension doesn’t kill the reader. I’m alive as a testament.

All of this was incredible. I love the style. I love the characters. I love the story. I love the conflict. I love the world. I love the detail. But it’s the fierce message that I love the most. A Time to Speak is about taking a leap of faith, stepping out, speaking for those with no voice, and trusting God with a wild faith.

It’s the idea that drawing near to God won’t solve problems, but that when you draw near to God, He carries you through the trials of life, fueling you as you do His will. I’ve been a Christian for almost twelve years now, and I’ve been told that very thing again and again all my life. But it never came home until I was reading about a girl with one hand who is so physically weak but called on God with faith that He would provide in His perfect will. Blast you, spoilers! I want to say more! I’ll just say that though Parvin has never existed beyond the imaginations and hearts of Nadine Brandes and her readers, the message she bears and the example she gives is clearer and more tangible to me than most deep spiritual discussions and complicated explanations.

When I finished A Time to Speak, I was exhausted but not from lack of sleep. I was exhausted from the emotional rollercoaster. I was exhausted from the strain of the story. I was exhausted from the spiritual hammer that continues ringing in my head.

A Time to Speak is the evidence that books can affect change in the reader. It carries an important message, and part of why it’s so impactful is that it’s wrapped in a well-written, witty, exquisite package. Therefore, I give A Time to Speak five out five wonderstruck, sleepless stars and a PG-13 rating.

Find it on Amazon and Goodreads!

Realm Makers 2015

It’s hard to believe that a month has gone by since Realm Makers. I wanted to post sooner about it, but I had to finish Five Enchanted Roses and A Wish Made of Glass before I could, and then craziness descended at home, and I’ve had very little time to do writing of any kind. And then I’m also on Nadine Brandes’ launch team for A Time to Speak, the sequel to A Time to Die.  And of course I had to read that ASAP because I needed for answers after A Time to Die.

So, at long last, my thoughts and feelings on Realm Makers 2015.


Realm Makers is a relatively small conference (150ish attendees this year), but that’s part of why I love it. Introverted as I am, even with the smaller size of Realm Makers, I was daunted by all the people. Some conferences range in the thousands. Thousands, peeps, THOUSANDS. That’s just craziness. I would probably lose my mind and not recover from the experience until I had four months and twelve days of complete solitude. And even then, recovery is not guaranteed. So, Realm Maker’s smaller size was a huge draw. However, this was only Realm Makers’ third year, and it has been growing at a ridiculous rate.
Anyway, I met so many fantastic people! I was so jazzed to meet J. L. Mbewe in person after “knowing” each other a for a few years online. She’s AMAZING, and I was able to buy her book in the bookstore and get it signed! (!!!!!!!!) And I finally met Nadine Brandes, and I got her book signed too! Nadine introduced me to one of her roommates, Katie Grace, who is on Go Teen Writers. We’d seen each other a few times on the Go Teen Writers Facebook group, but it was fantastic to meet her in person! Another GTWer that I met was Victoria Grace Tucker, and she was pitching her book to the publishing houses! (She gave me one of the one-sheets for her book, by the way, and it sounds pretty groovy.)

And I had three fantastic roommates: Pam Halter, Amy McNew, and Brittany Valentine! Of course, I already knew Brittany, but we hadn’t met Pam and Amy before. I hope I was a fraction of the blessing and encouragement to Brittany, Pam, and Amy as they were to me. We did everything from helping each other with our costumes for the costume dinner to talking until 1:00 or 2:00 every morning to sharing snacks to sharing wisdom and insights about everything from writing to motherhood to tornadoes. We now call ourselves the fantastic four, and I can’t wait to see these ladies again soon!

Also, Realm Makers is focused on a very specific genre: speculative fiction, and that’s another reason why I love it. See, speculative fiction is science fiction, fantasy, and everything that falls between – time travel, alternate history, the list goes on. Basically, anything weird. Everyone from Realm Makers keeps talking about how we found our tribe, our people.

And we did.

Brothers and sisters in Christ. Check. Writers. Check. Weird writers. Check.

I’d never met so many people that think like I do. We all want to write stories that glorify God and proclaim Him to the world. Everything is a possible story, and we could just say it, and everyone was like, “Wow! What a cool idea!” Even at a “normal” writing conference, this is not typical. Usually, everyone has drastically different genres and mindsets that they come from. At Realm Makers, we were different but united. Different blood, different ages, different homes, different lives, but kin nonetheless, bound to each other by the blood of Christ, the ink that runs through our veins, and the vastness of our imaginations.

And get this, we had a Nerf war. Yes, a Nerf war. It was pretty intense, and I likely made it more intense for myself by being a jumpy little hooligan who took it too seriously. But I think we all took it too seriously. A table was thrown on its side and used as a giant shield, chairs were shoved across the floor with people riding on them, and an AIR POWERED MACHINE GUN came out and started mowing us down.

Yeah, Realm Makers are my peeps.

Lastly, I loved Realm Makers because of the amazing sessions. As I mentioned before I left, I chose the wordbuilding core sessions, and they were taught by Donita K. Paul and her son and daughter, J. Case Thompkins and Evangeline Denmark. These sessions were incredible. These three taught me and my fellow writers so much about making an authentic world from building great races to creating cultural depth to symbolism. Unfortunately, I missed about half of the four sessions because I had several appointments, but I was so thrilled to have these appointments.

I had the first ten pages (my first chapter) of Retelling #2 critiqued by Morgan Busse (the amazing author of the Follower of the Word series), and one of my appointments was with her as we discussed her notes on my pages. She was so helpful and honest yet also encouraging I learned a lot from her in such a short time, and I walked away with a giddy feeling as new ideas and ways to tighten my writing danced around in my brain.

Also, I was able to meet with Jill Williamson (she writes tons of spec fic and is one of the Go Teen Writer bloggers)! She was soooo nice and totally rolled with my doddering, stumbling questions (I was just kind of in awe, peeps). She gave me such good advice, and it was like my passion for writing was renewed as we talked about a few different ways I could do my editing. (She also signed my copy of Storyworld First, so that was pretty fantastic too.)

My last appointment was with Enclave Publishing (formerly Marcher Lord Press). The representative at Realm Makers was actually the owner himself, Steve Laube. This would have been a good opportunity for pitching, but I wasn’t there yet, and so I basically just asked him a bunch of questions because he’s been in the biz for, like, ever, and owns an entire publishing house. Those are some pretty solid credentials, and my half hour with him flew by. His answers were so helpful and informative, and I came away from that appointment with the Dune series, On Writing by Stephen King, and Self-editing for Fiction Writers by Brown and King added to my reading list along with some good ideas of what to do when I am ready to pitch.

I’m being exceptionally long-winded today, so I’ll try to wrap this up. Suffice it to say, that all of the sessions I made it to were inspiring, helpful, and chock full of writing wisdom. I’m definitely buying the CDs for all of the sessions!

Of course, there was a bookstore that dragged me in every time I wandered past. I mean, yeah, it would have helped if I hadn’t gotten so close as to see covers of some of the books, but what can one do? I went through that check-out line with a stack of books at least twice in as many days. I think the grand total was eight books: six fiction books and two craft books. It was amazing. I was in bookworm heaven, and I could have easily dropped another hundred bucks, but, alas, train tickets cost money too. PLUS, I didn’t have to feel too weird for smelling the fresh pages because I was at Realm Makers.

Unless something drastic happens (and it has to be pretty darn drastic), I’m so definitely going to Realm Makers next year because Realm Makers is the home of great learning, great books, and my great tribe.

A Time to Die Review – 5/5 Stars

“There was once a time when only God knew the day you’d die.
At least that’s what they tell me. I wasn’t alive then — back when life bore adventure and death held surprise. I guess God decided to share the coveted knowledge. Either that, or we stole it from Him. Personally, I think He just gave the world what it thought it wanted: control.
My thin rectangular Clock sits on the carved shelf across the room, clicking its red digital numbers — red like blood. Today marks the first day of my last year alive.
Three hundred sixty-four days, seven hours, five minutes, and sixteen — no, fifteen — seconds to live. I’ve always thought it cruel they include the seconds. But people want absolutes. They demand fine lines in a fuzzy world.”

Parvin Blackwater believes she has wasted her life. At only seventeen, she has one year left according to the Clock by her bedside. In a last-ditch effort to make a difference, she tries to rescue Radicals from the government’s crooked justice system. But when the authorities find out about her illegal activity, they cast her through the Wall to the perilous and mysterious West— her people’s death sentence. What she finds on the other side about the world, about eternity, and about herself changes Parvin forever and might just save her people. But her Clock is running out. And there is no certainty that she can survive long enough to use what she has discovered at such a harrowing cost. Will Parvin find a way to make her last bit of life meaningful before she zeroes-out? And how far is she willing to go? How much is she willing to lose? Can good really come out of a broken shalom?

ATtD review feature imageParvin is… human and a girl. She’s a little selfish and immature with a good dose of weakness mixed in and some fear and anger too, just for good measure. But she’s also sympathetic with a hidden streak of bravery. At the beginning and through the first bit of the book, that was all she had going for her. One of the things that I love (love, love, love) about this book is that she didn’t stay that way (for those of you who have read some of my other reviews, character development is kind of big deal for me). While she remains thoroughly human and a girl (that is to say, she’s not perfect), her bravery grows. She comes to know God and that is what really changed her from a feeble child to a courageous young woman. As I mentioned before, Parvin is weak and immature. After getting to know God, she begins to accept her weaknesses and rely on God instead of herself. ‘But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.’ – 2 Corinthians 12:9 became her mindset. While she still has her immature moments, she displays subtle wisdom and supernatural peace as she learns.

tightrope editedJude is dangerous, unpredictable, arrogant, and… mysterious. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Jude. He proves to be strong, loyal, smart, brave, and… still mysterious. I can’t stand heroes who act like boys and not men, but Jude was a breath of fresh air because he acts like a man – a real man. Honestly, I didn’t see as much change in Jude as I did in Parvin. Part of it was he didn’t need to grow as much as she did. His development was more of a softening or thawing that crept in quietly and inconspicuously, and that is exactly what makes him believable. Like Parvin, Jude is far from perfect, but he is thoroughly likeable and good at heart.

The dystopian world of A Time to Die is intriguing and seemingly limitless. Incredible technology paired with a tyrannical government gives it a flavor akin to The Hunger Games, but I find that that is the only resemblance. The Hunger Games showed the reader a chillingly godless and truly hopeless world (the version of hope in The Hunger Games is sad, unfulfilling, and lacking any sort of eternal dimension) while A Time to Die offers a brave hope merely in acknowledging the existence of God. With creative gadgets, diverse cultures, and an interesting landscape, the world of A Time to Die is well-built and intriguing.

What I appreciate most about this book is that God is not an afterthought thrown in to have “Christian” added to the label. God and the path to a meaningful life are the primary focus. Ms. Brandes flawlessly depicted Parvin’s interactions with God so that they were real and honest. They didn’t seem forced or clichéd at all.

I was hooked right at the beginning, but there were a few times I wish I had been shown more and told less in the first 70ish pages. Honestly, I would have cried, but this book simply shocked me to pieces. By the end my emotional state was that of a bubble. Now, I’m not saying these things to keep you from reading this book, rather, the opposite. But I’m trying to convey that this is not a fluff book. Ms. Brandes successfully carried out an exquisite ending, excellent characters, eloquent themes, an exciting world, and an engaging writing style.

Therefore, I give A Time to Die five out of five throwing, sleepless stars and a PG-13 rating.

Amazon and Goodreads