Interview with YA Author Amanda Tero

I’ve featured a couple of Amanda’s books on my blog before, but this time I’m asking questions of her instead of one of her characters! (I love getting a peek into other writers’ lives.) Amanda Tero writes Christian Historical Fiction for young adult readers — and for adults who remember what it’s like to be young. Her latest release is A Strand of Hope, one of four interconnected novellas featuring packhorse librarians.

So please help me welcome Amanda Tero!

Amanda Tero is a music teacher by day and a literary guide by night, creating stories that whisk readers off to new eras and introduce them to heroic but flawed characters that live out their faith in astonishing ways.

First, three vitally important questions. 😉

Favorite season? Fall!

Favorite color? Green.

Favorite ice cream? Only one? Uh… chocolate chip cookie dough. 

“Only one?” — That’s my kind of answer. 🙂

Who was your childhood hero? I actually wasn’t much into hero-worship as a kid. I think I just had a solid respect for people who did the hard things and stayed steadfast. Maybe Joseph in the Bible? He went through extreme hardship yet was always one of my favorite Biblical accounts to read, because he just lived so uprightly!

What was your favorite childhood book(s)? The first set I remember reading was the Little House books. Mom had assigned them for me to read a chapter a day as my first “chapter book,” but before long I was begging to just finish the book instead of waiting until the next scheduled read. 😉 I embraced historical fiction because of those books. I loved not just Laura’s story, but learning about life in a different era. A close tie would probably be The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare, for very similar reasons. Plus, it was an action story. 

Ooo, love both of those!

What would you wish to have written on your tombstone? (Feel free to be either funny or serious!) Oh, hmm… I’d like my birth and death date written on there. 😉 But seriously, I hadn’t thought of that. Something about glorifying God… trusting God… yeah, not sure.

Now give us a peek into your writer’s brain!What’s your favorite historical period to read and/or write? The 1800s! I prefer the country/western side than the city side. 

Ah, one of my faves!

What does your story-spinning process involve? (We want to hear about it all, either in general or for a specific story.) Well, it’s semi-different for each one, but I’ll talk through A Strand of Hope. The idea initiated by my sister sharing a Facebook video of packhorse librarians. As soon as the three other authors and I decided to band together to write a series, I had to find my story. I knew I wanted a girl who adored books to the point that she used them as an escape from reality. So then, I had to give her a harsh reality she’d want to escape from. Enter her mom, a single, unwed mother of the early 1900s who blamed Lena for being distanced from her family. The story was stuck there for a while. I just wasn’t sure where to go with it. So I had some brainstorming sessions while driving. I put my phone on to record and just talked through the characters, the plot, the theme. I asked questions, answered them, told myself why that would or wouldn’t work. That really helped me. I also brainstormed a lot with my friend and author of another book in the series Anita (A.M.) Heath.From there, I drafted the rough cut. I’ve just grown to accept that I’m a panster and I’m being one, I have to write the story to discover the story—but then, I’ll have a major rewrite to do. This time, I really didn’t have that major rewrite. By God’s grace, it was a solid story from the start. I think that was just God smiling down on me because I was trying to do this while attending college full-time and teaching music part time.And yeah, the rest is just hours of hard work (whether or not I felt like it 😉 ), putting it all together.

Do you consciously create your characters, or do they seem to come to life on their own? It’s really a mix of both. I do have to work to make my characters less perfect. Anita told me once that I make a great person but a boring character because I’m the type that when I do something wrong, I instantly regret it, pray, seek restitution, etc. But if my characters lived that way, there wouldn’t be as much conflict. So I have to purposefully make them choose the wrong thing and keep driving down that road. It makes their lesson more impactful. 

What was the most difficult part of writing your latest book, A Strand of Hope? Haha… remembering the small details. Faith Blum, A.M. Heath, Alicia G. Ruggieri and I all helped create the town of Willow Hollow, it’s surrounding areas, library routes, and town characters. I was forever messaging one of them with questions on details. In a way, having the team was super helpful because I could just ask and get an answer when I forgot something rather than try to dig and find the answer myself.

What are 1-4 of your all-time favorite fiction books—ones you love to reread? I need to reread more than I do… but ones I have read several times and want to read again are: The Bronze Bow (Elizabeth George Speare), The Last Sin Eater (Francine Rivers). And I have a whole list of books I’ve read once that I want to reread… but my TBR is totally unending.

Love your answers, Amanda! 🙂 Thanks so much for joining us on the blog today!


I confess I haven’t read Amanda’s latest book yet. But I’m bringing it on vacation next week, and I can’t wait to explore this little-known piece of history. 🙂 Take a peek at it below!

Journey with a horseback librarian into the hidden crevices of Kentucky mountains. Feel her pain as she struggles not only to barely make ends meet, but as she also attempts to connect the pieces of her own life while her mom continues to make selfish decisions.

Lena Davis is the daughter her mom never wanted.

But she survived. Through stories. Because books didn’t judge. Books weren’t angry she was alive. Books never expected her to be anything but who she was.

As she grows up, her beloved library becomes her true home. So when the library is designated part of President Roosevelt’s Packhorse Library Project, Lena is determined to get the job of bringing books to highlanders, believing she’ll finally be free of her mom forever.

But earning the trust of highlanders is harder than she imagined, and her passion for books might not be enough to free her from her chains.

The Packhorse Library Project was part of President Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration to encourage education in the remote parts of the mountains. “A Strand of Hope” is a historical fiction novella based on real events but set in the fictional town of Willow Hollow in the Appalachian mountains.

See why I’m looking forward to it? Check it out on Amazon. And be sure to check out the whole series, too. I have it on good authority that some of them are only 99c this week. 😉

And don’t forget to follow Amanda on your favorite social media sites (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads, Amazon, Pinterest, and Bookbub), and visit her website, where you can also find her blog and newsletter.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this peek into a writer’s life, and I do hope you’ll check out Amanda’s books!

–Miss Darcy

Allowed to Take Comfort

I don’t know if it’s my personality.

I don’t know if it’s the writer in me, determined to experience any pain that comes my way because “all of life is research.”

I don’t know if it’s my desire to fully acknowledge painful things because ignoring them can create an unhealthy mental state.

But for some reason, I sometimes don’t allow myself to accept comfort.

And I’m not really talking about comfort from other people, although sometimes I just nod and smile and refuse to let their words sink into my soul, or even to ruminate in my mind.

Actually, I often find myself unwilling to take comfort from the deepest source I have—God’s Word.

If I take comfort, am I being fair to the honest questions of others—and myself?

If I take comfort, can I still deal with my painful emotions in a healthy way?

Most of all, if I take comfort, will I somehow sell short the Truth I need to learn through this?

But I’m learning that I’m allowed to take comfort.

When my brain is spinning with all these incredible, deep questions about theory meeting reality and I can’t quite seem to grasp the answers, I can take comfort in the One who knows every answer. Some of the answers I will find in time, and some I won’t discover until He tells me—either on this earth or when I see His face.

It’s okay. After all, I serve the God who commands the morning, and causes the dawn to know its place (Job 38:12).

When my heart is broken and floundering in pain, I can take comfort in knowing that my God has walked through every kind of pain there is—even death—and will walk with me through mine (Isaiah 43:2).

In my hardest suffering, I may even envy a stillborn child (Job 3:16), as long as I also remember that my Redeemer lives (Job 19:25).

And surely, when I turn to the Truth of the Word to find comfort, then the only Source of Truth—Jesus Christ—with not allow me to be misled.

He is the one whose wisdom set the courses of the stars (Job 38:31-33).

After all, what is comfort but hope and rest? And I am supposed to find hope and rest in Jesus.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

-1 Peter 1:3 NKJV (emphasis mine)

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

-Matthew 11:28 NKJV (emphasis mine)

Jesus Christ is my greatest comfort.

And, yes, I am allowed to accept His comfort without doing a disservice to either my emotions or my intellect. He offers a transcending comfort. It doesn’t remove the pain or the questions.

It’s simply stronger than they are.

-Miss Darcy

P.S. Anyone else noticed a similar phenomenon in your life, this inability to accept comfort and rest?

What We Really Want

If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you’ve probably seen me write about the power of God to transform a life—any life. No matter how far we’ve fallen. Or how far we haven’t fallen (or don’t think we’ve fallen).

The grace and mercy of God, His power to redeem, are limitless. (If you’re looking for proof, check out the lives of Peter and Paul.)

The thing is God doesn’t force His redemption on anyone. We have to choose it. Because if there’s no option to choose, there cannot be love, and God is the essence of true, powerful, life-altering love.

But when we choose God’s redemption, it’s not a one-time thing.

We choose first to be redeemed from sin and its eternal consequences.

Then we have to choose over and over (and over) to be delivered from the power of sin in our lives on this earth.

So no, I don’t doubt God’s power to transform a life. But I also have great faith in a human’s ability to wreck His work.

Because sometimes we don’t really want to be delivered.

Oh, sure, we say we want freedom from this sin that’s causing havoc in our lives. We say we want all the blessings God has to offer.

But maybe we don’t really, truly mean that.

Because sin has its attractive side. That’s why we fall into it in the first place.

  • We say we want deliverance from an explosive temper that hurts our family and friends. But the rush of power that anger affords—well, we like that feeling.
  • We say we want contentment in our season of life. But we don’t want to forgo our fantasies about “someday, when something we want will make our lives perfect.”
  • We say we want freedom from lust in our daily lives. But a little bit of pornography is so thrilling. And the sexy stuff in R-rated movies doesn’t even count as real pornography, right?
  • We say we want peace that passes understanding. But worrying and fretting about something offers a feeling of control, and how could we cope without that security?
  • We say we want good physical health (and why doesn’t God give it?). But we don’t want to deny ourselves the pleasure of eating whatever we want whenever we want it.

We say we want complete freedom in Christ. But we don’t really want to sacrifice any pleasures at all.

We’d rather lament our unwinnable battles and shame ourselves for our failures.

Believe me, I’ve been there. Still am there, to an extent. (You know I’m always preaching to myself on my weblog.)

We sin, we regret it, we castigate ourselves for being such wretched followers of Christ, and then when we’ve properly chastised ourselves, we allow ourselves to believe He forgives us.

And then we do the same thing again.

Because self-loathing is cheap.

Oh, sure it’s painful.

But not as painful as changing our behavior.

Changing will cost us.

Changing requires us to see our sin, even the pleasant parts, for what they are.

Changing requires us to deny what our flesh wants in favor of what Christ wants.

Changing requires us to stop justifying ourselves and start believing what God says.

Changing requires us to “put off the old man and put on the new” (Colossians 3:9-10). And that’s hard. Really hard

Of course we’ll never accomplish that without God’s Holy Spirit working in us. But the Holy Spirit won’t accomplish it without our participation, either.

So what do we really want? The abundant life Christ offers? Or the temporary enjoyments of our folly and sin?

Maybe we need to do some soul-searching. (Frankly, I hate self-analysis, but it’s a very necessary thing.) Maybe we need to find out what we really want. And whether what we really want needs to change.

-Miss Darcy

Unprofitable Servants

I read the book of Luke back in December. And I’m still clinging to one verse. I say it to myself almost every day. I think it’s going to be my verse for the year.

Jesus’ disciples have just said to him, “Increase our faith.” And He starts by telling them that faith the size of a mustard seed can uproot a mulberry tree and plant it in the sea.

Then He goes on with a little story about a servant who works all day in the fields, comes in, and still has to prepare and serve supper to his master before he can eat himself. And does the servant receive any thanks? No. He’s just doing his job, and why should he get thanked for doing what was his to do? 

Then Jesus says:

“So likewise you, when you  have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.'”

-Luke 17:10 NKJV

I find enormous comfort in those words.

I don’t have to do anything grand and wonderful. I don’t need a spotlight. I don’t have to be the smartest, or best, or most magnificent anything.

Every day, I just get up and do the things that I am commanded.

  • Servanthood takes the pressure off. I don’t have to call the shots or plot great strategies. I just have to listen to what part I play in the plans.
  • I’m not responsible for how things turn out. If I do what I’m told, the outcome’s not my fault. The result of my dutiful performance is His business.
  • If I do the things I’m commanded, I don’t have to worry if I’m doing enough or not doing enough–just follow the instructions. There’s a sweet accomplishment and rest when I can simply do my duty.
  • If my Master commands me to do something, He will also equip me to do it. I don’t have to worry about whether I’m “able” to do something. I have His resources at my disposal.
  • And of course I’m unprofitable. Jesus spent His own blood to redeem me. No amount of service could ever in a million billion years repay what He spent, let alone more. So I don’t have to try.

Yes, I believe God sometimes gives us “large” things as part of our duty. But what’s big for me might not even look big to you. And that’s fine. It’s not about us.

It’s about getting the King’s work done.

When I love my family and friends (or strangers), when I wash the dishes, when I write another scene for a story, when I volunteer as a “gopher” at church, when I take vitamins to keep my body in good order, when I give my best effort at choir practice, when I read my Bible, when I pray for a friend’s prayer request on Facebook, do I get thanked? Of course not. Why should I?

But even so, these little things matter.

The English Standard Version, which I’m reading this year for the first time, calls us “unworthy servants” in Luke 17:10.

Which is another beautifully accurate descriptor. How in the world could we be worthy to serve the King of Kings?

We’re not.

But He is worthy. Of our service, our praise, our adoration. Of our love.

And this Master of ours, who is worthy of all glory, became a servant Himself.

The night before Jesus was crucified, He washed His disciples’ feet. Then He said,

“You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am.

“If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.

“For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.

“Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him.

-John 13:13-16 NKJV

Our Lord both lived and died on behalf of His servants. Why should not we be willing to go as far?

Is there not joy in following the footsteps of our glorious, humble Master?

And what does all this talk about unprofitable servitude have to do with faith anyway?

Well, if you’re a servant with a good master, you can trust him to take care of you, to give good orders, to provide what’s necessary for carrying out your tasks successfully.

In other words, if we’ll quit looking at ourselves and look at our Master, our faith cannot help but grow.

Because He is worthy.

-Miss Darcy

I Am Thankful, 2019

It’s been a long year. (People have always said that time flies as you get older, and I had started to see time speeding up a bit in my late teens and early twenties. Then 2018 and 2019 came along and set me back, so I guess I’ll have to start over. But I digress…) It’s been a kinda hard year in some ways, and I’ve hardly had a grateful heart every day.

But I am grateful to be alive, abiding under the shadow of the One who holds my breath in His hands.

And to list some specifics, I am thankful this year for

  • My book published! A dream come true.
  • A church I love.
  • Cool opportunities to sing with my church choir outside the church walls.
  • The fact that Middle Tennessee is finally feeling like home.
  • A vacation in the Smoky Mountains, our first since the fire in 2016.
  • A visit to St. Augustine Florida.
  • Fun movies. I’ve acquired a couple new favorites this year.
  • Sleep. (Don’t worry: I’m not becoming a grown-up. Just an adult.)
  • Two of the best sisters a girl could ask for.
  • Friends who actually seem to love this slightly crazy writer.
  • The Word of God, without which I wither in a very painful way.
  • The fact that God does meet me where I am, and loves me unconditionally.

Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

-Miss Darcy

Did Jesus Die Because of Love or Obedience?

I’m not sure why I read the comments under Christian YouTube videos because more often than not they’re malicious. But I ran across one a few months ago that interested me.

The comment said something to the effect of: “Why are Christians so happy that Jesus died? I mean, an innocent person dying because of something someone else did wrong? That’s not justice. That’s disgusting. Am I missing something?”

It’s a valid question. An innocent person dying for a guilty person isn’t justice. So why can we rejoice about it?

I pondered that, and it didn’t take me long to come to a conclusion.

Jesus loved us. That’s why He died to redeem us. He wanted to do it. So we rejoice in the depth of His love.

As I continued to think about it, planning a blog post on the subject, you can imagine my consternation when I ran across this post on Facebook a few weeks later:

“It wasn’t because Christ loved us that He died, He was being obedient to the Father.”

A comment on the post added, “We never said Jesus didn’t love us only that His love didn’t take Him to the cross.”

So, if that’s true and Christ died out of mere obedience to His Father, then my whole argument for the righteousness of Jesus’ death kinda falls apart. At supper that night, I alternated holding a spoon and a pencil as I worked through some of my thoughts on the subject. I read some stuff online, talked to my family about it (because I have some great theological arguers in my family), and this blog post is the result.

I’m still going to argue that Jesus died for us because He loved us. Here’s why.

We know that obedience is born of love, respect, or fear. We can rule out fear because we know Jesus and the Father love one another perfectly.

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment.

-1 John 4:18a

So if Jesus died primarily out of obedience to the Father, He must have died because He loved and respected the Father.

And there are many verses that speak of God sending Jesus to die for us. The famous John 3:16–“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…” That could give a person the idea that it was God’s love that motivated Him to redeem us, and Jesus’ love didn’t enter the equation.

And this one:

In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

-1 John 4:9-10 NKJV (emphasis mine)

But to claim that these verses say only the Father’s love motivated Jesus’ death is to, at least partially, divorce Jesus from the Trinity.

When Jesus came to the earth, He was the one and only God-Man. He was fully Man, yes, but also fully God. The Father’s motivations were His motivations.

Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.

-John 5:19 NKJV

The Son of God on earth did exactly what He saw the Father do. The love the Father has for us is the same love Jesus has for us because the Two of them, with the Holy Spirit, are One.

(Do we comprehend that fully? No. If God didn’t blow our minds sometimes, He wouldn’t be worth worshiping.)

But to make a distinction between the Father’s love and Jesus’ love is hardly worthwhile. The Father was willing to let His Son suffer because He loved us. The Son was willing to suffer because He loved us.

[Jesus said:] “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.

“As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. …

“Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again.

“No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”

-John 10:14-15, 17-18 NKJV

Jesus didn’t have to die. The Father commanded Him, but He “laid it down of Himself” because He wanted the same thing as His Father.

Jesus IS the Good Shepherd, so He lays down His life for His sheep.

Now what about that verse that says Jesus “learned obedience”? Well, let’s have a look at it.

[Jesus], in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear,

though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.

-Hebrews 5: 7-8 NKJV (emphasis mine)

This was “in the days of Jesus’ flesh.” Jesus hadn’t been a Man before; that was new. Before this, He had always experienced perfect communion, perfect unity with His Father.

Now Jesus had become the God-Man. And the Man-part of Him had to learn obedience. While the God-part of Him was still fully aligned with His Father’s will, the Man-part of Him cried out in anguish, pleading that the pain be taken away.

And Jesus’ Man-part, like all other men and women, had to learn obedience. When our wills pull us away from God’s will—when we want something contrary to what God wants—we have to choose to obey.

So did Jesus.

Now as a writer I fully embrace the notion of multiple motivations. We humans are complex creatures. How much more complex is the God-Man!

So I believe Jesus died for us because He loved us. But when it came down to facing the cross, His flesh did what any flesh would do—it cowered away from the prospect of such unfathomable pain. And thus, when His flesh tried for the upper hand, He had to learn obedience.

But His heart was fully motivated by love.

As my dad so succinctly put it:

Why would Jesus’ primary motivation be something He had to learn (obedience) rather than something that was part of His essence (love)?

As I read a few online articles on this subject, I ran across one on Desiring God. It brought out another interesting point, saying that Jesus’ death was about vindicating God’s righteousness. See, for millennia “in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed” (Romans 3:25).

God’s righteousness was at stake because He’d been letting sin slide by unpunished.

Now the easiest way to vindicate His righteousness would be to say, “That’s it. From now on all humans pay for their own sin. Those who were previously kind of righteous that I let slide by, well, they all go to hell now. They can count themselves blessed that they had several hundred years’ delay before their punishment.”

But God didn’t do that.

God vindicated His righteousness by paying for all those sins Himself.

Because He loved us.

Truly, Christ’s cross is the most powerful picture of pure love anywhere in earth below or heaven above.

-Miss Darcy

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. 🙂

Protecting the Poor | Character Interview

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Today I am delighted to present the final book in the Tales of Faith series by Amanda Tero! (Remember when I featured The Secret Slipper?)

Three retellings

Don’t the covers look nice all together? (Okay, maybe everyone doesn’t admire book covers for their own sake like I do.)

PP Blurb

ABOUT THE BOOK
Sheriff Feroci is now lord over the province, and Abtshire has become a pit of injustice. Being forced into the lord’s service does not give Dumphey as many opportunities to help the poor as he desires. When attempts on his life drive him into the forest, this freedom opens a world of possibilities for helping others. But how can he do so when he is running for his life? And does God want him to do more than simply feed the poor?

Noel has always hidden behind the shadow of his older brother, Dumphey. When life forces him to stand on his own, will he still follow God in the corrupt world in which he lives? Would God really call him to do something that is beyond his power to do?

As Lord Feroci’s sinister plot comes to light, each lad has a choice to make. A choice that could cost them their lives.

Find on Amazon. Add to Goodreads.

Or, better yet, you can order a signed paperback copy of Protecting the Poor here!

If you’ve read the first two, then you’ll love seeing old friends in Protecting the Poor, but you don’t have to read them in order. You can dive right into the last book. It’s an excellent story for young readers (ten and up, I’d say), but as with all Amanda’s historical books, I wouldn’t classify it as strictly a “children’s book.”

Now, the things I loved about this story… The medieval setting: it’s a fictional country, but the well-researched details ground you beautifully in the time period (and okay, I’m a little stuck on the Middle Ages). The cool details about archery (I mean, what’s not to love about an old-fashioned longbow?). The characters: as mentioned, it was fun to see characters from the previous books, but the new ones were great too, all with their own personalities. The deep themes: forgiveness, vengeance, active obedience to God, and the excellent, oft-asked question, “Do the ends ever justify the means?”

In short, this book made me think, and that’s one of the highest compliments I can give a story.

And now, one of Dumphey’s friends has agreed to join us on the blog today!


Betin, thank you so much for visiting with us. You earned my respect as I read Protecting the Poor, and I’m delighted you’ve agreed to answer a few questions about the story.

1) When Dumphey first meets you, you have been living in the forest for some time. What caused you to take refuge there?

I used to help at the candlemaker’s shop with my sister, Lydda. After our father passed on (Mother passed when we were babes), Sheriff Feroci was holding me to unjust taxes higher than I could afford. He threatened to drive me to the barracks to make me pay, but I couldn’t do that to Lydda. Being hidden away in the forest was safer than the threats of a soldier’s life.

2) In your estimation, what is Dumphey’s greatest weakness? What is his greatest strength?

Dumphey is a great friend. To some, the way he naturally assumes leadership or voices his opinion could be seen as a weakness. To me, it was a great blessing. His strength is definitely in being bold to do what he believes he ought to.

3) Why did you think Dumphey would make a good leader for your band?

Dumphey made me realize how inactive I had truly been. We were hiding from Lord Feroci, yes, but he made me yearn to push forward and actually do more than just hide and prepare. He knew what steps to take next and was also bold enough to stand up for what was right even when very few of the group agreed. He was a natural choice for the leader of our band.

4) If you could have one wish come true, anything, what would you choose?

My greatest wish is peace on earth. That there would be no Feroci’s to fight against. No Abtshire to flee from. No tyranny.

5) Is there anything else you would like to share with readers of this story?

Glean from the lesson of hope and courage in “Protecting the Poor” and apply it to your own lives. I think, in some small way, everyone has an Abtshire situation they face in their lives.


About the Author
Amanda Tero began her love for words at a young age—reading anything she could get her hands on and penning short stories as young as age eight. Since graduation, she has honed her writing skills by dedicated practice and study of the writing craft. She began her journey of publication with a few short stories that she had written for her sisters and continues to add to her collection with other short stories, novellas, and novels. It is her utmost desire to write that which not only pleases her Lord and Savior, but also draws the reader into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.

You can connect with Amanda through her website, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, her blog, Goodreads, and Amazon.

GIVEAWAY
It wouldn’t be a release party without a giveaway! One U.S. Winner will receive the complete paperback Tales of Faith series, and one International Winner will receive the complete eBook series.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

And if you haven’t checked out the first two books in the series, you really should.

 

Befriending the Beast Blurb.jpg

Find on Amazon.

Secret Slipper Blurb

Find on Amazon.

Hope you enjoyed this peek at Amanda’s newest book!

-Miss Darcy

Shout-out to all the wonderful bloggers who are participating in the release of Protecting the Poor!

Monday – August 26, 2019

With a Joyful Noise – Protecting the Poor Release Post

Life of Heritage Corner – Interview, Review, Giveaway

Great Books for God’s Girls – Interview, Review

Peculiar Miss Darcy – Character Interview

Honey Rock Hills – Review

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations – Spotlight, Review, Guest Post

Tuesday – August 27, 2019

We’ve Got Pockets – Review

Maidens for Modesty – Giveaway, Guest Post

A Brighter Destiny – Spotlight

Wednesday – August 28, 2019

Soldier Girl Stories – Interview

Purposeful Learning – Spotlight, Guest Post

Thursday – August 29, 2019

Rachel Rossano’s Words – Spotlight, Guest Post

In the Bookcase – Review, Giveaway

Friday – August 30, 2019

Losing the Busyness – Spotlight, Review, Giveaway

Resting Life – Guest Post

Saturday – August 31, 2019

Blossoms and Blessings – Spotlight, Review, Guest Post

God’s Peculiar Treasure Rae – Review

Reading on the Edge – Spotlight

Verbosity Reviews – Spotlight, Review, Guest Post, Giveaway

Monday – September 2, 2019

With a Joyful Noise – Giveaway Winner Announced

A sneak peek at Amanda’s new release…

Cover Reveal

Redeeming Joseph’s Brothers

The New Testament has many glorious verses about how the grace of God through Jesus Christ can redeem anyone, no matter how far they’ve fallen. Verses like,

Therefore He [Jesus] is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

-Hebrews 7:25 NKJV (emphasis mine)

And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

-Colossians 2:13-14 NKJV (emphasis mine)

Truly, the power of Christ to redeem a soul is wondrous.

No matter what sin we’ve fallen into, God can pull us out. He can change our innermost souls from utterly selfish beings to what humans were designed to be. He can give us new hearts that actually desire goodness more than self-gratification.

But His redemptive power does not only extend to our souls. It also extends to our past actions.

This is where He blows me away.

To explain what I mean, let’s look at the story of Joseph in Genesis. Or, more accurately, let’s look at the story of Joseph’s brothers.

Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, and Zebulun were ten brothers of a father who showed favoritism to their know-it-all little brother Joseph. That got old really fast. One day when the ten were out leading their father’s flocks to good pasture, the father sent Joseph to see how they were doing.

And the ten older brothers decided to get even. They captured Joseph, and several of them advocated killing him outright. (You wanna talk about dysfunctional…) But the oldest brother Reuben said that was a bad idea, and he convinced them to toss Joseph into a pit, planning to secretly rescue his younger brother and send him home to their father. (I still wonder whether Reuben was motivated by compassion, or whether he was trying to gain his father’s favor since he was seriously out of favor for an earlier sin he committed. Anyway…)

So they gathered near the pit to eat lunch, but someone had to go check on the flocks, and apparently the oldest got elected. While Reuben was gone, along came a band of Ishmaelite traders. And Judah said, “Wait a minute. There’s no profit in killing this kid. Let’s sell him.” So they sold their brother as a slave for twenty silver shekels. Divvies up nicely between ten brothers.

Reuben was horrified when he found out, but there was no going back. So the ten brothers tore Joseph’s beautiful, colorful coat and dipped it in goat’s blood. This evidence they gave to their father as proof that Joseph had been killed by a wild beast.

For the sake of time, I can’t get into all Joseph’s adventures and misadventures in Egypt. (Genesis 39-41) Suffice it to say that God was with Joseph. At the end of it all, Joseph became second-highest ruler in the land, in charge of collecting grain to store up for a coming famine, of which God had warned Pharaoh in two dreams.

When the famine came, it didn’t only strike Egypt. Hunger raged through all the surrounding lands — including Joseph’s homeland. Joseph’s father heard how Egypt had somehow managed to store up tons of extra grain, so he sent his sons to buy them food.

In Egypt, Joseph recognized his brothers. But it had been at least twelve years, quite possibly more, and the ten brothers didn’t recognize their brother in this grand Egyptian lord who had the right to grant or deny them food.

Joseph now had the power to punish his brothers, kill them if he liked. Instead, he put them through an elaborate scheme of pretty rough tests, to see if they had repented of the way they treated him. (Genesis 42-44)

Turns out they had. All those years of watching their father’s grief had finally softened their hearts.

So Joseph revealed his identity and brought his whole family to Egypt, where he settled them in good land and provided for them during the rest of the famine.

Now you probably know that story forward and backward if you were raised in church.

There is so much depth and symbolism and instruction in Joseph’s life, not to mention it’s just plain a good story.

But here’s one thing I didn’t notice until I was a lot older:

  • Joseph was able to help his brothers because he ruled Egypt
  • Joseph was able to become ruler because he was in Egypt when Pharaoh needed him
  • Joseph was in Egypt because he had come as a slave
  • Joseph was a slave because his brothers had sold him

So Joseph was able to help his brothers because his brothers had sold him as a slave.

Think about that. Was it good that Judah and the others sold their seventeen-year-old brother? No, of course not. It was a horrible thing to do. They sinned.

But God was involved. He had a plan for Joseph’s life, and He worked so that even the degrading status of “slave” led to being second-highest ruler in Egypt.

Could God have gotten Joseph to Egypt by another, better way? Of course. Was He pleased with Joseph’s brothers’ sin? Certainly not.

But get this: God is so big that even our sinful actions themselves can be redeemed for good.

Joseph himself put it this way to his brothers:

“But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.

-Genesis 50:20 NKJV

To save many people. Including the ones that sold their savior.

Just because He’s God and He can, the Lord used the brothers’ sin as one step in the journey to their own salvation.

That blows my mind, friends. Truly, nothing is beyond redemption for our God.

No matter what we’ve done, we can repent and God can use us. He might even take our sin and somehow make something good out of it. He doesn’t always. But sometimes, in His mercy, He does.

I can hardly believe that. But Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, and Zebulun testify that it is so.

-Miss Darcy