Christmas doings have been adding a dash of festivity to my days. Last week alone, I was able to attend a Christmas Tea, restock my winter candle collection (“Warm Winter Wishes” is lovely), stash a bottle of seasonal body wash in the kids’ bathroom (“Wintermint Snowfall”), and troop over to the post office with a bulging sack of holiday greetings. Add to that new story art, book cover sketches, and getting to begin three new stories in January … and I’m definitely making merry! Come see my cluttery goodness.
This week’s accumulation:
♦ The December issue of Christian Fiction Online Magazine is out, so those of you who’ve been patiently awaiting the final chapter of Angel on High can dive right in! Thank you to those of you who already purchased the complete story on Amazon. When you add it to your virtual libraries, you’ll be able to read the EXCLUSIVE epilogue to Koji’s story, “The Girl in the Orchard.” >> Amazon
♦ In January, I’ll kick off a brand new serial in my column at Christian Fiction Online Magazine. Angel Unaware is a story in twelve parts that will put us in prequel territory. If you’ve ever wondered how Ransom and Marcus met … or who Baird was mentoring before Kester came along … or what kind of home Marcus lives in … then you’ll enjoy this year’s story. I’m so excited for this upcoming tale, I even changed up my Facebook page‘s cover photo to this…
♦ Tried and True is making steady progress toward its inevitable conclusion, which has been an emotionally rich exploration. And Sage and Song is waiting in the wings. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ll be switching things up in 2015. Instead of weekdaily installments of 100 words, I’ll be posting new installments of Sage and Song twice a week (Wednesdays and Saturdays). These chapters will be a little longer, and the new schedule will give me time to write another weekly serial over on CJMilbrandt.com. [If you enjoy fantasy—and especially if you’ve ready my Galleries of Stone series—you’ll want to follow Deuce, which is scheduled to update on Fridays.] Anna Earley’s cover illustration for Sage and Song is nearly finished. Here’s a teensy peek at part of the sketch. Isn’t little Kester cute?
♦ The San Diego Public Library is gearing up for their annual Local Author Exhibit. My contribution to the display is The Garden Gate, which released on January 28, 2014. (I’m looking forward to celebrating that milestone!) I dropped off the book at my library this morning, essentially “outing” myself as an author in the process. Much to my chagrin, the librarian stood right up and asked to shake my hand because I was the first author she’d ever met in person. Kinda made me feel special (and flustered). ♥
♦ Tomorrow, I’m going to attend a local production of Handel’s Messiah, and I can’t wait! We attended this little church’s concert for the first time last year … and it was bliss. I’m pretty sure the choir noticed that my husband was singing along because they invited him to join the choir this year! (His own pastoral duties prevented him from accepting, but I wouldn’t mind joining the alto section!) : D
♦ From time to time, I commission art for my stories. It’s always been a way for me to celebrate the completion of a book … or the start of a new one. With the kick-off of the Byways series (which I published as C. J. Milbrandt) this year, I splurged in that direction. This past week, I had the pleasure of watching Katie Hofgard create a Byways bookmark. I’ll be giving them out at upcoming school visits and library talks!
For those of you who haven’t been introduced to Byways yet, the series follows three brothers along three different routes as they race each other across their homeland. As I like to say, Ewan, Zane, and Ganix take sibling rivalry to new lengths! This fantasy series honors families and friendship … and there’s an educational twist … but I’m mostly writing it for fun. The character featured on the bookmark is Jovan Johns, the best (and only) friend of Brother #2 (Zane). In this piece, Jovan has found some fairy kestrels, tiny birds who shine like moonlight, speckled by stars.
I’ll let you know when the bookmarks are finished in case you’d like to request one! In the meantime, if you haven’t introduced yourself to the Johns family, I have review copies available for Book #1, On Your Marks: The Adventure Begins. Email me for more details!
♦ As we get close to the end of the year, I find myself wanting to do a little site tidying. Between now and the milestone party for The Garden Gate (1/28), I hope to do a little rearranging. I’ll add a site index and an oft-requested cast list. And there’ll be some new kinds of posts starting in January, like answering your writing questions, posting Threshold Series outtakes, and more behind-the-scenes news.
♦ Speaking of outtakes… here’s one now! I originally wrote this scene for inclusion in my upcoming angel-themed devotional, but Zonderkidz opted to exclude Threshold-based fiction. So I’ll share it here! ♥
Thus spake the seraph, and forthwith
appeared a shining throng
Of angels praising God, who thus
Addressed their joyful song.
“While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night”
fifth stanza, Nahum Tate
Here We Come a’Caroling
“You’re back,” Prissie sighed. She wasn’t entirely surprised that Ransom had made good on his threat to return for more caroling, nor that he was able to convince his best friend to come with him. He and Marcus had snagged doughnuts and cups of cocoa before ambling over to where she and Koji stood.
“Hey, Miss Priss.” Holding up one of the song sheets the youth pastor was handing out, Ransom asked, “What’s up with this?”
“They’re Christmas songs. We’re going Christmas caroling.”
“Uh-huh.” He crammed the last of his doughnut into his mouth, then mumbled around it. “I can name all eight reindeer, but I’m having trouble with this didst and ye and forthwith stuff.”
Prissie checked her own sheet, which included all the stanzas of several old songs. “This one’s a hymn. It’s totally normal. A classic.”
“Where I come from, ‘Silver Bells’ and ‘Frosty the Snowman’ are classics.” His eyebrows crowded together. “Like this part. What’s a seraph?”
She tensed. “That’s a kind of angel.”
Ransom blinked. “There are kinds of angels?”
“News to me. Okay, then. What kind’s a seraph?”
“How should I know?” she grumbled. “I’ve never met a seraph.”
As soon as the words were out of her mouth, Prissie regretted them, but Ransom only snorted. “Uh-huh. I’m betting you never met Johnny Appleseed, either. But you know more than your fair share about apples. Help a guy out!”
Koji placed his hand on Ransom’s arm and solemnly explained, “Scripture describes the seraphim as six-winged angels who fill the throne room of God in heaven.”
“Six?” Ransom echoed in disbelief. “Don’t they get all tangled up, trying to coordinate the flapping?”
The young Observer shook his head and quoted, “With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying.”
“Well there ya go. Very sensible.”
“Indeed.” Koji helpfully explained, “The only others that are mentioned by name are the cherubim.”
“Cherubs? Now them I’ve heard of! Chubby kids with bare butts who hit poor, unsuspecting guys with heart-shaped arrows.”
Prissie covered her face. Marcus stared into the sky. Leaving Koji to explain, “There are some misconceptions about the cherubim. Perhaps you have heard of the Ark of the Covenant?”
Ransom brightened. “Like in Indiana Jones?”
Koji stared over. “There are many misconceptions about the cherubim.”
When Angels of the Bible: A 90-Day Devotional releases next September, it’ll bust a few angelic myths and point out a few misconceptions. My favorite chapters take us into the biblical narratives, where men and women met angels face to face. ♥ I’m wrapping up edits on the manuscript right now, so I’d welcome your prayers. This project is—as Baird would surely say—on the doozy level. : )
So what’s cluttering up your desktop? Do tell!
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