My Book Is LIVE! | And Story of the Axe

It’s here, it’s here, it’s HEEEEEEEERE!!!!!! *confetti shower*

Okay, usually I try to behave with decorum, especially on the blog, but today is not the time for it.

The Crown and the Axe is live! And I just realized I’ve never shared the blurb with you here, so….

TCATA Cover Final 2 Web

A careless mistake. A tale from the past. A journey he’ll never forget.

Seventeen-year-old Dierk Lichtensitz, Crown Prince of Sunland, excels in both his physical and educational training. Not that his father is impressed, but Dierk quit trying to please him years ago.

King Phillip Lichtensitz holds high standards for his children—with good reason. So when selfish neglect on Dierk’s part leaves another squire injured, Phillip delivers strict punishment. Dierk must travel the country as a woodcutter’s son.

Resentful of his father’s decision, Dierk resolves to endure his punishment unmoved—until the tales of a long-dead witch’s power force him to reckon with himself and his God.

As the journey leads him into more danger than his father could have ever foreseen, how much will Dierk have to surrender to become the man he needs—and desperately wants—to be?

For Kindle and paperback, hop over to Amazon. For other eBook retailers, try this Universal Book Link. 🙂

Do you mind if I gush about the cover a little more? See, as soon as I started seriously considering doing my own photoshoot, I knew I’d need an ax for a prop. The ax is such a big part of the story, plus it’s part of the title, but clearly it couldn’t be some fiberglass-handled deal that’s common these days.

I did look at the hardware store to see what modern wooden-handled axes looked like, and the blades are rather pretty, but the handles have brand names and fancy grips etched into them. I tried Craigslist and eBay for older ones, but no luck.

So I prayed. I asked the Lord to provide a suitable ax if He willed me to stage my own cover shoot.

And He provided. See, I had volunteered to help at an Outdoor Symposium, a community event designed to help people reconnect with the outdoors. My sisters and I were supposed to lead nature walks for children. There were lots of cool exhibits: the Boy Scouts brought tents, an expert demonstrated firebuilding, a young man showed how to tie different knots, one lady displayed the ten items you need for survival if a hike turns into an emergency. All super-cool.

But the exhibit that attracted my history-loving heart was a table showing vintage camping. The kind of recreational camping popular with Theodore Roosevelt and others. Mark Lewis, of Mark and Debbie Lewis Historical Music, had a wealth of information about camping and surviving in the woods. I could listen to him talk all day. He had old-fashioned gear, an old rifle, and, among other things… an ax. A small one, but a beauty.

So I plucked up my courage and mentioned I was looking for a vintage ax to use in a cover photo for my book. And he offered to let me use his. Said he even had a bigger one at home that he’d be happy to lend me when the time came.

The bigger one was perfect. A lovely old Collins with a label on one side of the handle, so we photographed the other side. 🙂

AXE-1

God is so wonderful, y’all.

And to further demonstrate that, my friend Greg the Hiking Guy (who organized the Outdoor Symposium and is a wealth of knowledge on outdoor survival) had a beautiful piece of property which he let me use for the setting of my photoshoot.

I’m so thankful for people who let God use them to bless others! I could never have published this book without the help of so many friends.

-Miss Darcy

The Crown and the Axe Cover Reveal | Interview with Cover Model

Can you believe it? I’m finally unveiling the cover of my OWN novel! My family can attest to my excitement, but it’s hard to convey through writing. If you picture me alternately wanting to cry and skipping around the house, that should give you an idea.

Are you ready? *cue squeals*

TCATA Cover Final 2 Web

Isn’t it beautiful?!? (Okay, pardon me. I’m like a parent bragging about her baby. OF COURSE I think it’s beautiful.) 🙂

And I’m doubly excited because the picture is no stock photo. I actually got to hire a model, make a costume, and get exactly the picture I wanted for the cover! It’s funny because I had a couple different poses in mind, but once we got out there, my photographer tried this one, and, wow, did it turn out well!

A young man from my church, Tyler Adams, agreed to model for me, and he totally got into the spirit of things and made it so much fun. Tyler is a professional videographer with his own company, Sora Entertainment. He’s also the director and co-producer of the award-winning documentary, Reap What You Sew.

So please welcome Tyler Adams to the blog!


What are your hobbies?

Tyler: I absolutely love watching movies and TV shows. After all, it’s the industry I decided to pursue as a career, but I also enjoy reading books of all genres, as well as playing video games. If you couldn’t tell, I enjoy all forms of entertainment media. I suppose it’s due to my appreciation of human creativity and artistic expression. I love experiencing stories and exploring the imaginative worlds people come up with, and because of that, fantasy and science-fiction are my favorite genres. When I was offered the opportunity to model the leading character of a fantasy novel, I was thrilled!  Additionally, my other hobbies include working out at the gym, writing fictional stories of my own, and occasionally drawing.

(The gym hobby definitely helped him get the job because with a character who wields a sword or an axe all day, he must have decent muscles.)

When you think back to the day of the cover shoot, what memories stick out to you? Did anything particularly funny or uncomfortable happen?

Tyler: I remember it took a long time to get the make-up on my arms. I don’t even know what all was put on me, except for one thing which was dirt. I also remember trying to look as cool as I possibly could. You can’t see it on the cover, but I had an intense look on my face. I tried to embody the character as best as I could as I posed. One thing that kind of bugged me was the dagger on my hip. It kept wanting to move around in different positions, almost as if it had a mind of its own. There I was, trying to look cool for the pictures, but then I would be talking to the dagger, telling it to stay as if it was an obedient dog as I adjusted it between shots.

(Interrupting to say that, yes, his face was very intense. I had told him his face probably wouldn’t end up on the cover, but he didn’t let that stop him from getting fully into character. Sometimes he barely lightened up between shots. It paid off in the final pictures. And that dagger! It was a last minute addition to the costume, and I loved it, but I think it was upside down almost half the time. LOL Anyway…)

How did it feel to spend an afternoon as a model?

Tyler: It felt fantastic to be a model. I loved the costume, and holding the axe made me feel powerful. I didn’t mind the heat of the day nor the numerous poses I had to do. I thought it was such a unique opportunity, and the crew was a lot of fun to be around. I just remember the group constantly having smiles on their faces and talking excitedly. That positive atmosphere really made the whole experience all the more fun.

And, just for fun, let’s see how much you have in common with Dierk, the character you modeled for…

Dierk is the oldest child in his family. How about you?

Tyler: I am an only child. In a way, I suppose I am the oldest and the youngest child in the family.

Dierk takes a journey around his country. Have you traveled much around the U.S.?

Tyler: Traveling is extremely enjoyable for me. Whenever I get the chance to go somewhere new, I take it. I’ve traveled to so many places between the west and east coasts. I’ve toured movie studios in Los Angeles, filmed in the mountains of Colorado and on a beautiful farm in Texas, rode roller coasters down in Orlando and up in Ohio, visited a World War II museum in New Orleans, climbed up the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania, and stood atop the Empire State Building, overlooking the city that never sleeps.

Have your friends ever accused you of being stuck-up?

Tyler: Thankfully, no. I try to be as friendly as I can with everyone. I suppose since no one has told me I’m stuck-up it’s a good sign I’m doing something right.

Do you have a lot of self-confidence?

Tyler: I do, and I think taking karate lessons and acting in school plays really helped me build my confidence. Both have definitely helped me gain the confidence to model for a book cover.

How are you at swinging an axe?

Tyler: I’ve only swung an axe once in my life, and I didn’t chop off any of my limbs. So I’d say I’m fairly good at it.

Dierk grinned when I showed him this answer and said he’ll teach you to chop wood if you ever come to Sunland during his days.

Dierk’s favorite method of self-defense is swordplay. What’s yours?

Tyler: Funnily enough, I trained in Iai-do and Japanese swordsmanship for a brief time. I loved it, and I trained myself for a while after that, even competing in open martial arts tournaments and performing in shows for a few years. I’ve even collected a few swords to hang up in my room. I would definitely say that Dierk and I would get along very well over our love of swordplay.

I agree. Dierk might even invite you to test his skill just for fun. I, for one, would love to watch.

Tyler, thank you so much for bringing Dierk to life on the book cover! I’m so thrilled to have a completely unique cover!


Be sure to check out the Reap What You Sew documentary on YouTube. (And if anyone reading this happens to be an author looking for someone to do a book trailer, take a peek at Sora Entertainment’s work.)

Thank you all so much for rejoicing with me! Lord willing, The Crown and the Axe will be published this week. I’ll be sure to let you know the minute it’s properly “live.” (Or you might hear me squealing all the way in Nashville, Tennessee.)

Making this book has been such a long, wonderful, and sometimes frustrating journey. This moment is so big for me. The Lord is so good. I keep playing this song over and over in my head.

Hope you all have a great Monday!

-Miss Darcy

Edited to add purchase links, now that the book’s out: Amazon and other digital platforms. 🙂

I’m a Real Author!

I’ve been pretty quiet about this because I wasn’t sure when the exact release date would be, but…

I finally have a book published!!!

I’ve been a writer for years now, but yesterday I finally became a published author. Wow. I think God gives different gifts to everyone to express His love. Not because He has to, but because He delights to. This little story (and all the stories I write) is His gift to me. And, oh, you better believe I love it and love Him for it!

Season of Forgiveness is a contemporary Christian romance novella set at Christmastime. The small town where it’s set is based on a real place in Northeast Georgia. Many of the secondary characters are inspired by real people.

Although the story is very much fiction, I don’t think I’ve ever written a story that drew so heavily from my experience of life. You get to guess what’s true and what’s imagination, if you decide to read it. (I realize Christmas romance is not everyone’s favorite, and it’s not my usual genre. God opened the door for this one through my writing partners.)

So, may I show off the lovely cover designed by my sister?

season-of-forgiveness-cover

Ruby Larson adopted Ivy Carlyle as her granddaughter when Ivy helped her arrange her funeral. When Ruby’s estranged grandson, Denver Reese, appears, Ivy is reluctant to share Ruby’s attention. As the two plan Ruby’s Christmas, unexpected attraction draws them closer. But Ivy’s painful past challenges their friendship.

Season of Forgiveness is only available as a Kindle e-book. And you cannot purchase it on its own. It’s part of a collection of five novellas and five poems entitled, The Heart of Christmas.

The Heart of Christmas 3d cover

Announcing five new stories filled with faith, hope, forgiveness, and of course happily-ever-afters. Each story focuses on an element of the Nativity, from the angels to the wise men. Be swept up in the love of the season and the promise of forever that the Christ child, the true Heart of Christmas, brings.

Available at Amazon.

Only 99 cents for five stories, plus poetry, so really not bad. I hope you’ll check it out, and if you don’t read romance (or, like me, don’t read many e-books), maybe forward the link to someone who does. 🙂

I wrote Ivy and Denver’s story in a little over a month (because I procrastinate dreadfully). It was one of those exhausting writing projects. Ivy wore me out because she turned out to be an emotional character. I figured, “She works at a funeral home. She’ll have to be at least a little detached.” Well, she may be in her work life, but personal life is a whole ‘nother matter.

I prayed a lot. And God was so faithful to give me this story. My first published work.

So smile with me. The LORD is so good. And The Dream is coming true!

-Miss Darcy

P.S. My sister also has a book in this collection, as you might have guessed from the surnames in the picture. More about her story in a future post. 🙂

Book-Making

It has recently come to my attention that this is supposed to be a writer’s blog, yet I rarely talk about either writing or books. I’m thinking I want to change that. Not that I’ll quit writing my other posts about the Bible and Christian life. I’m far too opinionated to give that up. *smile*

But today I’m going to talk about my work-in-progress (or WIP in writer’s jargon).

It started almost seven years ago in 2010 when I got to thinking about the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale and how it might look without magic. One day in August, I took pencil to notebook paper in every spare minute between doing my schoolwork. In two days, I had ten college-ruled pages full of cursive handwriting. I called it “The Kingdom of Light.”

That was the framework. I typed it up and worked on it, polishing it and expanding it for several years. When I started writing seriously in 2013, I set “The Kingdom of Light” aside in favor of another story. But last spring, I got the urge to work on it again. I had learned so much about writing, and I wanted to apply all my new knowledge to this little story that I loved so much. (Even if it was in terrible shape. ‘Tis a good thing that original story will never see a printing press.)

I loved the characters, and I started thinking about what happened to them after the story. How many children would Prince Phillip and Princess Aurora have? What would they be like? How would their parents’ strange past affect them?

That’s how I met Dierk, eldest son of Phillip and Aurora. It has been almost a year since I started working on his story. I wove the original “Kingdom of Light” story into Dierk’s journey, and I changed the title to Prince of Sunland. The book grew.

Yesterday, I completed my revisions. The word count is over 85,000 words. Today I got the manuscript printed and spiral-bound so I can see it on paper.

I’m more than a little excited.

I’ve never finished a project of that length before. I actually have a two-hundred-page novel that goes from beginning to end, following a reasonable coherent path. In some ways, I feel this book is nothing new. “There is nothing new under the sun,” you know. But I still love it.

Of course, this is just one milestone on the path to publication. But I believe in celebrating milestones (I’m making homemade ice cream tonight for the occasion).

And if you’re wondering what’s next for Prince of Sunland: well, I’m sending it through my critique group. Then I’ll do another round of revisions based on my critique partners’ feedback.

Then I’ll hire a professional editor because I dare not trust my own brain alone to make this book the best it can be. I’m a tiny bit scared to see how long it will take me to put the book back together after the editor’s done.

Then I’ll have the book formatted, and I’ll hire someone to design the cover.

And then, Lord-willing, I’ll publish it myself. Because it looks like I’ll be an independent author. My books probably won’t be available in bookstores, just online. I’ll publish an ebook and a print version. My head spins just thinking about all that.

But I’m excited because I love this story, and right now, the dream seems possible. Not easy, mind you. But possible, if it’s what the Lord wants.

Already I have two sequels percolating in my head. Hopefully they won’t take eight years to come to life!

I still have much to learn. But it’s a good journey. Thanks for following with me.

-Miss Darcy