June Giveaways, inspiring reading, and freedom.

It’s Summer! 
And here are books for your reading enjoyment.

Nab your next clean Summer Sale Fantasy here.
And don’t miss your Heart Sister Giveaway – stories of friendship.

As for reads that inspire me, I’ve been enjoying Sarah M Eden’s The Lady and the Highwayman, and A Victorian Naturalist Beatrix Potter’s Drawings from the Armitt Collection by Eileen Jay. Next on my list to read is Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature by Linda Lear, K. M. Shea’s Apprentice of Magic, and C.J.R. Isely’s Ranger of Kings.

And for our Encouraging Word till next time:

Don’t forget the power of good stories in all their forms. From the anecdote you tell your neighbor and have a wonderful, delightful laugh over, to the long fantasies of Tolkien. Great stories that admire goodness, that define truth within the context of life, that hold up joy and homey comforts in contrast to danger and darkness or just the weary, dull evils that pound at us every day, bring wonderful things into my heart. And I hope into yours. When goodness and truth come in, truly in, badness is on it’s way out. The impact of story reaches a long way, no matter the genre.

Are you reading great stories, sharing good things with whoever you can around you? What about your life? What are you doing in your story? Is your inspiring action helping someone get through the day, are you furthering the good things you see and hear, are you pointing those who watch you, talk to you, or value your opinion toward truth and goodness and joy? Everyday happenings matter as much as big issues, for the big things are most often a compilation of the small; they are the tumbling pebbles that start the avalanche of stone.

Truth, goodness, and joy.

Just the fact that you believe in such things, absolutes as they are, can be challenging these days. But the truth is worth believing. And it is there even when we do not believe, for it is true, and therefore very real. Which is self-evident, and a comfort.

Even if we don’t think we make much of a difference, or do as much as we should, are we aiming at a great goal, are we taking a step up that mountain that looms before us? All great journeys, in life or books, begin with a step then build on it with one more, and one more – until the journey is accomplished. And in life we needn’t go alone. The Author of all absolutes yearns for us to walk with him.

I am happy to have you by my side on our journey with good books, and glad to be at yours.
Have a great week!

Azalea Dabill
Crossover ~ Find the Eternal, the Adventure

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In Defense of Cultures, Readers and Communication

It’s a dangerous world, attempting to tread water in the ocean of words, let alone swim in these times where “cultural appropriation” and “cultural insensitivity” may blow up in our faces, after a mere brush against the drifting mine.

This is true for writers and readers alike.

One of those avid readers, squarely in the camp of enjoying new and fascinating stories wherever I find them, I have a few words in defense of us readers and writers trying to navigate the “cultural appropriation and insensitivity” minefield.

Take any movie set in the early Middle Ages, or any book. As far as cultural accuracy goes, most of them could be accused of insensitivity because they have not been historically accurate or true to the culture throughout their work. Yet it does not necessarily follow that they are culturally insensitive, or seizing the culture for their own.

The producers, story writers and authors are trying to communicate a time and place filled with people that stir our imaginations to fire.

The great stories call us to adventure, to love, to fight for good and conquer bravely. They are trying to help us understand a different culture, a different person, at the level of heart and soul. To do this to the best of their ability, they must at times use words or customs that did not even exist in those times they are creating a story about, or they must adapt them to our contemporary understanding. If they were true in every detail, we would completely miss some important character motivations and scene meanings because we had no idea that what we saw or read had a specific meaning, and we would possibly understand less than three words in ten because of old style language.

This is true whether we are English, American, or any other culture going back in our own history. If we are going back in time and crossing cultures, say from the American to Korean Middle Ages, there is an even larger cultural gap. But that does not mean our minds and hearts cannot meet despite the obstacles. Story is made to bridge the ocean gulf between us: whoever we are, wherever we are, whenever we are. The purpose of story is to communicate.

But what does it communicate? That is key to discover, so we can disarm the mines planted by those who love discord and do not respect peoples’ created differences with grace, who do not see that the very differences between us may be the source of every individual culture’s beauty, riches, and usefulness to the wide world. Admiration, respect, and appreciation bring every word and gesture in all forms of communication to life. Without that motivation, every word and gesture is dead, or worse, an explosion waiting to happen.

I use my own work as an example here, since I know my own motives better than those of any other communicator. Like any writer of past times and historical fantasy, in Path of the Warrior, the first companion story in Falcon Dagger, I am swimming between cultures. But it is dangerous.

This was kindly brought to my attention by my friend Jenn Rogers and her daughter, who are fans of Kdramas and all things Korean. I have never seen a Kdrama, though I plan to remedy that. My love for Medieval Korean culture started with my introduction to Tae Kwon Do years ago, and the martial history of the Land of the Morning Calm.

The martial focus was what I especially respected and explored on behalf of my main character in Path of the Warrior, an honorable exile from Korea, named in his native land Ryu Tae-shin, though his name was changed in my other stories, which did not detract from his honor but added to it, since he bore an insult with graceful nobility, because of necessity. That necessity was bearing up under slavery, and not confusing those who he knew would read of him later. He kept his name Tae Chisun, because he made the name – the name did not make him.

Despite any inaccuracies, of which I am sure there are at least a few, since I am seeing across cultures and time to Ryu Tae-shin’s story, I am attempting to bring to life a noble man, one I admire, who cares about his people, his family, and others. I am trying to share, across cultures, my appreciation of one who defends the right. Any mistakes in the work are mine, of course.

But do inaccuracies of naming, (which I have attempted to fix to the best of my ability), or historical settings or mannerisms (sometimes subject to poetic license), or outright ignorance, mean that this story of a man who sacrificed everything for the lives of his people appropriates the Choson culture or is insensitive to it?

Does it communicate that Koreans are bad in some way, more than other cultures? Does it claim they think exactly like I do?

No.

It is a story born of admiration for a strong people in a time of conflict.

That is my opinion, supported I think, by Hwarang Ryu Tae-shin himself. But you will have to discover for yourself if you can stand in Ryu Tae-shin’s boots and wrestle with the fierce conflicting loyalties between his sworn oath to his Kuksun overlord and his oath to save the love of his life and his people.

Would we put our lives on the line for right?

Some things, like our desire for justice, our love or hatred of truth, our depth of love tested by fire, our willingness to sacrifice for others, is the same in every culture. Mind you, I do not say we think down the same wave, or row the identical path to those values. The customs, mannerisms, and circumstances may, rather they will, differ. Completely leaving aside what we believe about who we are, where we come from, and where we are going, or our religion.

But we are all human, and our hearts are fashioned from cuts of the same sail, each loosed on the sea of life from our individual islands and continents. We can sail together, all the brighter and more formidable in array for our different flags, painted sails, or pennons.

If we detonate the mines between us with well-aimed ordnance, disarm them with the truth of the story, or on the occasion when there is truth in the accusations of appropriation or insensitivity, if instead of cursing the dark we light a candle of communication, we can retain and grow mutual respect and admiration for the greatness of every people. We can swim without harm through the minefield, and our hearts and hands meet in understanding.

We can enjoy our intriguing idiosyncrasies, our various culture strengths, and help each other overcome our different weaknesses, for everyone has them.

Each person is made in the image of our Creator, the master of the waves, of every land, every heart. He made equality. Meeting another heart and mind in the sea of thought, across the waves of life, is an invaluable gift.

May we overcome every wave and mine between us. For the sake of us readers, who love brave adventure and goodness, and also to encourage those who communicate these human truths to lighten our darkness.

Or, as my Tae Kwon Do Grandmaster, Tae Hong Choi, and Grandmaster Vince Church, would say, Pil Sung! Certain victory through courage, strength, and indomitable spirit.

Azalea Dabill

Crossover – Find the Eternal, the Adventure

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April Showers of Clean Books – Giveaways

I had so many good giveaways I came across, I thought I’d list them for you here so they wouldn’t crowd our newsletter.

In case you didn’t check this single book out yet, I suggest you do. It’s on my to purchase list – The King’s Ranger.

And here are the giveaways:

  1. Richly Fantastic New Worlds Book sales
  2. Fierce Fantasy KU sales
  3. April Showers of Clean New Books Sign up to get free books
  4. Free Books and Resources for Writers Sign up for free books (coming 15th)
  5. Stories of Choice and Change Sign up for free books

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Path of the Warrior (Falcon Dagger) Sneak Peek

This month of March I’ve been working on Path of the Warrior, the first entry in Book III of the Falcon Chronicle series.

Here is a sneak peek:

Part I

The Warrior

We wrestle with memories to find meaning. Without knowledge we live in emptiness, for life and death have no purpose. Memories give sight through the mists of time. Where do I come from and where am I going? The watermarked parchment rustles. I read words written in quill and ink and a man’s soul.

The night was dark and warm as blood. Unseasonably warm, as the maples had not leafed in the courtyard. On nights such as these the tiger walked unheard. Tae Chisun rolled the silk-smooth paper in his hands and tucked it into the message case.

He took the lamp from his table and handed it to his messenger. He did not mind darkness and silence, not when he had his sword and his hands and feet. “Rangdo, run fast, and we may yet preserve our people.”

His student nodded, his thin face sober, and ducked out into the driving rain. Embroidered with black sigils of officialdom, the band tied about his head directed water away from his eyes and down his back.

Tae rested his hand on his long sword, the hilt familiar under his fingers.

To his people of the Land of the Morning Calm, the tiger symbolized strength and protection. His brothers in the hwarang, the full flower of the warriors of his people, worshipped that tiger spirit, and followed Seon, the Zen. They fought with sword and bow, hand and foot, with a prowess that even the Hsuing Nu heard of on their far Northern steppes and respected.

Now he must fight with his heart, mayhap every drop of his blood—against enemies within and without.

Did his messenger know he carried Tae’s life and that of his people in his hands? Tae resisted the compulsion to draw his blade. It would be an easy thing to follow, to ensure loyalty.

He let his fingers slip from the sword hilt. He had known before he began his message to Jun-ho Tsing, rebel kuksun of the five thousand massed outside the gate, that one rangdo with a false tongue walked among his two hundred. Tae’s heart beat heavy in his chest.

During training, his students emulated his every hand strike, feint, and sword-blow as he led them in the honored techniques of Subak and Taekyon as the sun rose over the rim of the world, glinting flame on the water of the river they practiced beside. Over time they grew strong. Their feet flashed high in jumping kicks and sent their mounted opponents’ hats of horsehair spinning to the ground. The punches of the most adept cracked ribs like dry pine—could crush an attacker’s throat—shock the heart so it ceased to beat. Their open hand strikes knocked a man senseless, disrupting the nervous system, or in precise combination brought the touch of death.

His rangdo—two hundred students who aspired to become hwarang, as he was. Tae had thought every one of them sought to serve his kuksun’s family, their village, their land. Sought to serve with the same honor as the favored Tae Chisun—who held the hand and heart of their kuksun’s daughter, Huen.

Tae’s breath stopped a moment. Favored. Yes, he was. And with the dawn he would be Kuksun Paekche Kim’s most esteemed hwarang—or he would be dead.

Surely his most trusted messenger was true. Would his rangdo carry his offer to Jun-ho Tsing of the five thousand? Or would he try to rise above his rank and take the message elsewhere, yearning for Kuksun Paekche Kim’s favor? Did his messenger believe with the kuksun that it was an honorable path to fight to the last child? The other villages would follow Paekche’s example.

Tae grunted. Taxes always went to an overlord, be it king or kuksun. Better that it was to rebel Jun-ho Tsing than the lord of death. The village had little food left and many rangdo, who ate much. Tae swallowed. He had not tasted the hot bite of Huen’s fermented cabbage and spice for days.

He stepped out into the wet dark and shut the door. Who knew the undercurrents between the villages better than its protecting kuksun, with his hwarang and rangdo warriors? The rebel Jun-ho Tsing would need them all to oversee his new land and people. So Kuksun Paekche Kim might live, and his brothers, down to the lowest rangdo. Satisfaction tugged at Tae’s mouth. Life—and his Huen’s smile.

He would see her live—if it meant his own death. His mouth tightened. He had a task yet to complete. Rain misted against his face, the budding maples smelled sweet.

He carefully wrapped his sword-hilt against the wet and slipped away.

Molten fire shone along his blade in the light of the lamps from his old master’s open door. The door yet quivered on its hinges.

Tae kept to the shadow.

Standing under the square door-arch in his leather and cane armor, Woon Chong said nothing. His mouth pulled up in a sneer and he drew his weapon, stepping down to meet Tae. No one stirred behind the carved porch pillars, no voice or clatter of dish came from within the house.

Tae retreated farther into the dark; the light must not blind him. He kept his weight even, not lifting his feet from the mud. He must feel his way along the earth; avoid the stray branch, the deceptive puddle, the rock that would turn.

Woon Chong shifted his heavy frame, circling him, a floating feather. Noiseless, he lifted his blade from his side, slicing up and across Tae’s body in an adder-swift strike. But Tae was not there to be gutted.

Woon Chong rained heavy blows on him, precise with hate. Steel grated on steel and sparked. Tae’s blade gave before his hwarang master’s, deflect, attack, and deflect—until the moment Woon extended his arm. Tae struck his wrist. Woon Chong’s sword spun away and thudded to earth.

Tae locked Woon’s arm behind him, his blade at his throat. His master did not dare try to throw him. His chest heaved under Tae’s hand; his breath whistled hoarsely. Not for Tae, the mountain-cat playing with the mouse.

He gripped him hard. “I am sorry.”

When Tae returned to his command post the rain had washed the blood from his hands and the tears from his face. Dawn was near. The traitor had struggled and pleaded. But he could not let Woon Chong live. Such a one would betray again.

Tae swallowed hard. The same might soon be said of him.

And they must not find him with Huen, or she would be accused. When he first saw her he had been rangdo to hwarang Woon Chong.

That morning, his master ordered him to display the way of the sword with one of his brothers, to show their skill before the kuksun’s daughter, who walked through the courtyard.

She had been such a bright spirit, her cheeks soft as a slender peach, her deep brown eyes reminding him of those of a water-deer. Her words to her maid when she saw them, before she brought her hand to her mouth, were swift as the red that crept up her neck, a rosy blush on her golden skin.

With a sudden rush, Tae had disarmed his brother in a moment. Huen laughed at the surprised rangdo’s stare of disbelief at his empty hand where his sword had been. And red-faced Woon Chong ordered Tae to strike his brother with the flat of his sword. Tae stopped after three blows.

Woon yelled at him to continue, and Tae bowed, held out his sword hilt and said, “I did not teach my brother the sword aright.” He bent across his brother’s back and took the rest of his master’s instruction.

As Tae returned from washing his bloody back after the sword lesson, he contrived to pass near Huen. He overheard her quiet aside to her maid. “That rangdo has a spirit about him. A tiger, yet with the gentleness of the deer …”

She said it thoughtfully, words that would be cause for blood coming from any other mouth. Tae thought her rather perceptive. He had bowed deeply, straightened, and met the sardonic gaze of his kuksun, who stood just beyond his daughter.

Tae touched the rough wood of his command post door. From the beginning, Woon Chong had sought to protect his place as hwarang, driving the rangdo under him mercilessly, without care for life, limb, or purpose. No warrior among them attracted their kuksun’s notice without paying a price to Woon Chong. From then on, Tae performed his master’s toughest tasks. They had made him strong.

Tae bowed his head. Even now he did not lift his sword without reason—and held it until his task was finished. His master had been the last.

He wiped his eyes. Woon Chong had thought to kill those hwarang of rank around him and sell the villages to Jun-ho Tsing. To gain a new kuksun who would place him at his side, as Kuksun Paekche Kim had not. One who had reached enlightenment would call him demonic—one who walked with greed and hate.

Tae stepped inside the command post, wiped his blade, and slid it slowly back into its wood sheath. His own journey had not begun in truth.

Before his test to become hwarang he went to the Chin mainland to study scribing, medicine, and the arts of war. His questions had been many. Why did he yearn for joy? Why did life and the earth feel broken?

In the Chin place of learning he found answers to his questions of the stars. A man, shunned by the rest, had showed him the Book of the I AM.

Tae settled himself against the command post wall and laid his sword before his feet. Seon, as his people put it, did give power. Inhuman strength, to both flesh and spirit—but never the power to dispel his darkness. That grew ever heavier.

Tae smiled wryly. Strange that one could seek enlightenment, the end of delusion, and be so deluded. Caught in so much darkness that there was no light to see it.

The pages of the Book had reflected as a pool the ugliness of his hate for Woon Chong and the other dark things crowding within him. Turning his face toward the Buddha, drinking the power of Zen, did not change their existence. He caught back a short laugh.

And after what he discovered, he could no longer petition the spirits of river and hill or follow the way of the Zen. He had beaten the man who asked him why a warrior feared the truth.

But it haunted him, would not leave him. The promise of meaning and purpose kept him close until he read the Book further and was answered.

The Master of the stars gave the path of meaning to all things he created.

Tae’s throat closed. He had known he could never attain rightness as the Master of the stars was right in all things. Compassionate, just, pure, strong, the Master of the stars was good. Loving men, he existed in himself. Tae was evil, and condemned. But then love and sacrifice expunged his darkness.

He knew swords. The Book’s edge was keen, dividing the pure from the impure. But unlike any other sword, the Word within the Book’s pages also healed.

The Master of the stars paid his blood-soaked debt and sent him on to live, to love, to grow in joy. He was not master of his own fate. He was not God. But the Master of all cared about him, walked with him, taught him to wield the sword in both worlds, in the realm of spirit and flesh. The pieces of the universe slid into place. He had asked pardon of the man who showed him the Book, and they parted as brothers.

Tae tipped his head back against the wall and shut his eyes. He took truth and left the power of Seon, the Zen. But it was not comfortable, dividing intentions, and hearts, and men. Though life held much suffering, his lord overcame it. His Master would bring him to his land of joy in the end, where suffering ceased forever. That time might be very near.

§

The thin cane door bent under the blows. “Open, in the Kuksun’s name!”

Tae lifted his head from his knees. The door burst open.

They took his sword and seized him, two men for each arm. Six guards marched him between them into Kuksun Paekche Kim’s presence.

Tae knelt one moment before the guards forced him down. He would die with few faces to witness his dishonor—Paekche gave him that. He raised his head.

Paekche’s mouth was flat, his black eyes hard. A frown wrinkled his wide brow beneath his black hair in its simple warrior’s knot, bound by a green silk band stitched with the sigil of the house of Kim.

Had Huen’s hands fashioned that band with pride and joy? Tonight her father would bring her sorrow, whatever he decided. Tae let out his breath. If his blood were of the house of Kim, however distant, it would be easier to convince his kuksun. But for that there was no remedy.

 “My Kuksun.” He leaned forward, baring his neck in trust, whether his kuksun raised his sword above him or no.

“Why?” Paekche growled. The stinging blow of his hand numbed Tae’s cheek and rocked him back on his heels. The carefully shaven lines of Paekche’s beard framed the sides of his square chin.

“How could you give us to Jun-ho! Do you seek higher rank so fiercely? Is the spirit of the tiger dead in you? Has the leader of my hwarang turned his back to his enemies?”

“I do not give our people to Jun-ho Tsing, I give them life.” Tae’s jaw hardened. “A man’s heart is not determined by his rank. And the tiger—in spirit we run together, and bow to the Master of the stars alone.”

“So, you raise your name beside the tiger’s, and seek my seat?”

“No, most honorable Kuksun. I fight for our land, and for you. That both may endure.”

Paekche paced back and forth on the dais. His silk slippers whispered over the polished wood. His robes loosed the scent of cloves, star-anise, and musk.

“Did your lord of all not die without lifting his hand for his kingdom?” Paekche’s voice was harsh.

Tae could not stop his back from stiffening. The guards pressed down on his shoulders, but let him rise to his knees, so long as he did not lift his gaze in this moment. He strove to keep the heat from his voice. “He died for us, honorable Kuksun. And he rose from death to build his kingdom—in our hearts—in any who wish purity and strength.” He let out a weary breath. “He holds my heart in his hand.”

“As I, your Kuksun, hold your body.”

 “Yes. As does Huen, who holds my heart also.” Tae lifted his gaze. “My Kuksun—I seek Jun-ho Tsing’s face that you and Huen may live, and the house of Kim. He will need you. There is no need for blood.”

Had Jun-ho Tsing even received his rangdo’s message? Two might not be enough. Tae prayed with all his might one got through. “As for the stolen burial land, though our ancestors remain in our memory, bones cannot speak, or touch, or laugh. Their dust sleeps; though that earth is sacred, would they not rather we walk in life, than for our blood to water the ground where none can touch them?”

Paekche lifted his hand. The men holding Tae’s arms stiffened, their fingers binding as steel. The sixth guard stepped forward, a moon-blade halberd in his hands.

It was his answer. Tae’s chest tightened and his breath came short. He bowed his head. He had one thing left to lose.

I hope you enjoyed this excerpt of Falcon Dagger Bk III, Path of the Warrior

Azalea Dabill

Crossover – Find the Eternal, the Adventure

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Kingdom’s Fall Sneak Peek

Below is a sneak peek at Kingdom’s Fall rough draft that I have been working on a little this week in the midst of attempting to record Fantastic Journey, a book giveaway or two, and a wise word for February.

With a dark scowl, Brother Rolf hunted bright fall leaves blown in from the road off the church stoop. He swept fiercely. The wooden broom handle nestled in his grip, heavy as his old spear shaft. The wide entry-stone under his feet stretched two chill lengths into the walled court under the warmth of a new sun that peered over the walls of Bolton Abbey and streamed past the open gate. His breath shot in a thin cloud above the lowest step of the north transept tower.

A shiver raised his freckled skin where his thick wool sleeves did not protect him. The chill of the stone beneath the edge of his black habit pierced his bare toes. He moved faster, chasing an errant leaf, red as his hair, vibrant as the dew spangled dawn.

If a leader did not soon rise from the Northumbrian mists, stones sister-kin to the icy, glistering dark granite beneath his feet would mark the last resting places of his people. The kingdom was weakening.

Brigands harried the strongholds north of the Humber River as he did the leaves. With few to stay them while the king lay ill, such raiders grew ever bolder. Even Lord Dain Cieri of Cierheld, leading the north lords from his stronghold walls of uncommon stone, did not have enough armsmen to guard every hold between the ancient Roman Eagles’ great North Wall and the Humber. The brigands melted like frost when chased, yet seemed always to know where to strike. And with talk growing in the north against the south lords, the unrest in Britannia might mean more than brigands. It might mean war.

Turning, Rolf swept the last crimson beech leaf from the side door with a vicious stroke. Though the brigands had not yet struck near Bolton Abbey, it was their nature to hunt the vulnerable. Even though, unlike some church holdings, his brothers of the abbey had little in the way of riches. Even their dedicated church utensils were not of gold, but bronze. Abbot Alton would not keep gold when their people were hungry. Rolf smiled a little, then his scowl crept back. He was slipping indeed, not to have suggested to Abbot Alton the looming possibility of attack.

A thudding of small hooves and a soft, heavy step against the dirt of the courtyard rang loud at his back. Rolf swung around, continuing the swift motion of his broom in a level stroke.

A man leading a donkey ducked the twiggy end coming for his head and swung in return, the blur of a long weapon coming at Rolf from the left. His heart in his throat, Rolf sprang to the edge of the step to soften the full blow, bringing his broom across his body in both hands. Blade struck wood with a dull thud. Rolf blinked. The weapon did not bite, for it was sheathed in leather. And the face beyond it . . .

His breath of relief became a growl. Knocking the blade to the side, he dove down the steps and thrust the broom handle at his attacker. The donkey reared and backed. Its giant owner quelled it with ease, wrapping a long arm about the donkey’s gray neck and twisting his body to let Rolf’s attack slide past.

“Cease, little brother!” Dark eyes twinkled above a bristling black beard and a large, misshapen nose. That pot of a dented helm and the big feet in leather boots caressing the earth—Rolf knew them both.

A merry laugh rolled from the man’s wide chest beneath a mat of curly dark hair between a thick neck and gaping tunic. “Ye’ve not lost all yer’ skill.”

Rolf glared at the black-haired giant, who again whisked the sheathed blade about to rest at Rolf’s throat. Rolf squinted. The plain hilt marked his own blade—or the blade that had once been his.

-Kingdom’s Fall rough draft excerpt (this book will be part of Falcon Dagger – cover in the sidebar)

And here is a: Spring Break E-book Stuffer ~ All Genre Clean Giveaway
And in case you didn’t get my newsletter and would like a peek at that giveaway: Fight the Good Fight All Genre Giveaway

And if you missed the newsletter, here is an encouraging word of wisdom for February:

Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will do it. And He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your judgement as the noonday.

Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.

Cease from anger and forsake wrath; Do not fret, it leads only to evildoing.

-Psalms 37:5-8

This is so encouraging to me. That God would have me do what is right and fight injustice where I can, first in myself and then in my world. And that I can then rely on Him for the final outcome, that He will bring justice to all.

God bless you!

Azalea Dabill

Crossover ~ Find the Eternal, the Adventure

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Launch Day for Fantastic Journey! and other Giveaways

LINKS are live though they appear different colors.

The ocean of fantasy and speculative fiction is vast.

Have you wondered how to find the best fantasy adventures for yourself, your children, and your friends, teens to adults? Or where to hunt for the gems?

Dive into the sea of fantasy with us in Fantastic Journey – The Soul of Speculative Fiction and Fantasy Adventure to find what you seek and more. On launch special $ 0.99 now. Please follow me on Amazon!

If you got the preorder, or got Fantastic Journey and are enjoying it, would you leave me your thoughts here, or email them to me at fantasticjourney.dynamospress@gmail.com? Thank you more than I can say!

If you’d like more About the book, and a secret bonus, see my book page here.

And Derek Murphy with CreativIndie posted my article about Fantastic Journey’s blog to book creation here.

Then come back and check out the giveaways I will be adding below over our launch.

5 Days of Giveaways

Day 1: Discover New YA Series for 2021! Free download

Day 2: Clean Young Adult Free Giveaway – All Genres – Celebrate 2021!

Day 3: Free E-books to get 2021 Started!

Day 3 Extra: Faith Based Book Sale

Day 3 Extra: Fellowship of Fantasy – January 2021 New Releases – Clean Indie Reads

Day 4: (Giveaway is live the 4th) General Non-fiction/Christian Self-help/Instructional Book sales

Day 5: January Wishes for Clean Romance Free in KU

I also want to extend a special thank you to my reviewers:

Phyllis W.
Deb D.
The Christian Bookworm
Hannah R.

Thank you for your beautiful, instructional reviews!

I have sent out one paperback to Deb D. in exchange so far.

If any of you who have reviewed it would like a paperback, please email me at fantasticjourney.dynamospress@gmail.com with your name and address, and I will mail you one.

And for any others interested in leaving me your honest thoughts in a review – for the first 10 reviews up on Amazon and Goodreads I will send each of you a paperback copy of Fantastic Journey.

We are at 4 on Amazon – only 6 more to go,
We are at 0 on Goodreads – with 10 to go.

Purchasing the ebook first (0.99 special) would make it a verified purchase review, which I really appreciate, but it’s not required.

Again, thank you!

I am so encouraged reading your reviews. Your thoughtful opinions have taught me some valuable things to keep in mind for my next books, though the very next will not be non-fiction but the completion of the Falcon Chronicle series.

So for those of you who have been waiting, Falcon Dagger is the work-in-progress this coming year!

Thank you so much, thank you for joining us, and have a great new Year!

Azalea Dabill

Crossover – Find the Eternal, the Adventure

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23 Authors – Giant Fall Fantasy Adventure Roundup

First, a brief introduction.

Many of these authors are part of my upcoming book Fantastic Journey – The Soul of Speculative Fiction and Fantasy Adventure. I highly admire their gifts of great books to the world.

Links are live though they appear dim or different colors. I can’t get the color to show brighter. Sorry! But they are alive and kicking. LOL

Want to join our adventure with Fantastic Journey and support these authors?

If you would like to be part of the fun and discover great fantasy adventure and speculative fiction books, here is how you can become a member of our Fantasy Adventure Team:

A. Here is a living link to the Fantastic Journey ARC (Advance Reader Copy) or the $0.99 preorder special, if you prefer that. The book is releasing January 1, 2021, and goes up to $2.99 January 6th. Get your copy now while it’s on sale!

B. Your review of Fantastic Journey – The Soul of Speculative Fiction and Fantasy Adventure, releasing January 2021 will support me and, by extension, many of these wonderful Fantasy and Speculative fiction authors below. Please leave your honest review here – it’s a treasure worth more than gold!

Or you can email me a few of your thoughts about the book to fantasticjourney.dynamospress@gmail.com. I’d so love to hear what you think!

Now for the Q and A with Imaginative, Speculative, and Fantasy Fiction Adventure Authors!!!

Authors are listed in alphabetical order by first name.

1) Alyssa Radda

Q: How has fantasy impacted your experience of the world?

A:

Fantasy has impacted my experience of the world mainly through the way I view possibilities.

When writing fantasy, anything is possible within the rules of the fantasy world. In my daily life, I often find myself searching for the more “magical” side of mundane situations or pondering, “What would happen at this moment if I were living in a fantasy world?”

This often changes my perception of my experiences and gives each day a unique twist.

Even a chore such as washing dishes can become exciting when I imagine what else could happen if I were to wash dishes in a land where alternate laws control the actions of water, soap, etc. Of course, I’m also always keeping an eye out for secluded places in our world that might actually be magical portals to a fantasy realm.

Q: How is clean fantasy or speculative adventure important to us as human readers?

A.

I think clean fantasy adventure is important to human readers because it allows our imaginations to develop without being influenced or negatively impacted by elements that make certain readers uncomfortable.

When reading clean fantasy adventures, the mind is given a safe space in which to delve into new ideas without having to be wary of unwanted scenarios.

I think this is a spectacular benefit for the imagination because the reader can then continue to daydream and enjoy the ideas presented in the story without feeling “contaminated” by thoughts connected to unwanted content.

Q: Why is great fantasy and speculative fiction vital to our future?

A.

In my opinion great fantasy and speculative fiction is vital to our future because it sparks and fuels the human imagination.

Even though this is said often, I believe it is said so much because it is an imperative truth: if we as humans lose our imaginations and sense of wonder, we risk losing the greatest moments and achievements that humanity can make.

Life without imagination becomes a life without dreams, and humans who have nothing to dream about have nothing to strive toward. They cease to live, and simply exist.

Link: Alyssa Radda: www.aaradda.com

BIO: A.A. Radda is a fantasy author currently living in Ashland, OR. Between intense bouts of writing, Radda enjoys playing the harp, taking long walks through autumn leaves, and trying to bake without setting off the smoke alarm. Radda was inspired by classics such as Sense and Sensibility and high fantasy like The Hobbit to write a humorous high fantasy Young Adult series with touches of classic literature.

2) Anna Thayer

Q: How has fantasy impacted your experience of the world?

A.

Fantasy has been the lens through which I have come to explore, cherish, and stand in awe of much of the world around me.

As a child and far into adulthood, it made up the majority of my reading, and presented me with keys to understanding the depth and breadth of what it is to be human.

I now adore revisiting it with my own children. I think it is important to note that fantasy should not be restrained in definition to tales of swords and sorcery; the Greek roots of the word are about imagination and appearance, or making something visible.

Fantasy gives us a means by which to make visible aspects of the world, and ourselves, which might otherwise remain hidden.

Q: How is fantasy or speculative adventure important to us as human readers?

A.

The world is saturated with an easy and glossy love affair with profanity.

Just as some might go out on a Friday night with the express purpose of getting drunk to have a ‘good time’, it seems that storytelling ‘must’ now be mired in profanity to be deemed valuable – in both cases, no alternative seems anything but risible.

I would argue, however, that far from making something gritty and realistic – and, by implication, applicable to our lives – writing filled with gratuitous violence, language and graphic events only feeds these tendencies in society at large.

Clean fantasy ultimately uplifts and encourages, rather than oppressing and titillating us with horror.

One of Tolkien’s characters remarks that ‘if more of us valued good food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world’.

I feel that the same applies to the choices writers make; if we valued the cheer and song of our artistry more than the lure (and sales) of its profane avenues, we would do much more good in the world.

Q: Why is great fantasy and speculative fiction vital to our future?

A.

Imaginative fiction gives us a vehicle by which to explore, renegotiate and encounter ourselves – as we are, and as we would like to be.

I passionately believe that telling stories – tales that bolster our spirits and refine our souls – is a crucial component of the human experience. To borrow, once again, from Tolkien: ‘we make still by the law in which we’re made’.

Link:  annathayer.wordpress.com

BIO: Anna Thayer is a writer, critic, teacher of English and lecturer on the works of Tolkien and Lewis. She is the author of ‘The Knight of Eldaran’ trilogy, author of ‘On Eagles’ Wings: An Exploration of Eucatastrophe in Tolkien’s Works’, co-author of ‘Out of the Darkest Place’ and editor of ‘Doors in the Air: C. S. Lewis and the Imaginative World’. A graduate of the University of Cambridge, she now lives in Canada with her husband and four children.

3) Ashley Maker

Q: How has fantasy impacted your experience of the world?

A.

Fantasy, whether in books, movies, or other modes of storytelling, has impacted my experience of the world by providing an escape when reality is less than satisfying.

It also teaches lessons about people and life that I may have never thought about otherwise. And it feeds my imagination, inspiring my own creativity.

I never would have become a writer if it weren’t for the amazing fantasy stories I read growing up.

Q: Why do you think fantasy adventure is important to us as human readers?

A.

We all need an outlet in life.

My own life might sometimes be stressful, but it’s not often adventurous, at least not like in the stories I read. Reading clean fantasy adventure allows me to live vicariously through the characters, which provides that creative outlet.

I always feel better after reading a good book—more balanced and less stressed. For me, reading is part of self-care, which is so important.

Q: In what ways are great fantasy and imaginative fiction vital to our future?

A.

It takes very little effort to find sad stories or bad news these days.

Even as I write this, the whole world is in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. Great fantasy and imaginative fiction is a welcome escape for so many people.

We’re living in perilous times, and it’s vital we all find hope, comfort, or even just a clean escape where we can. Fantasy and imaginative fiction allow us to escape into worlds very different from our own, worlds that have different troubles, different rules, but at the end of the day worlds that feature characters we can relate to, learn from, and find hope in.

We need that hope. Our future needs it, and reading fantasy and imaginative fiction helps remind us to always forge on and never let go of hope.

Link: www.ashleymaker.com

Newsletter Link: https://forms.gle/zFL1FztYFfGoxpz17

BIO: Ashley Maker is the author of SEER and UNDER THE TREES. As both a writer and former English teacher, Ashley spends much of her time thinking about fictional worlds, grammar rules, and how to effectively share those things with others. She loves hanging out with her husband, two young daughters, and their zoo of family pets in Oklahoma.

4) Azalea Dabill

Q: How has fantasy impacted your experience of the world?

A.

It would be easier to say how it hasn’t influenced me.

Great fantasy adventure has been a lifeline, an inspiration, a joy, a teacher, an expander of my world.

During illness it has been a comfort and enjoyment when I couldn’t get out. Imaginative stories give me the gift of adventure, even today.

Both good and bad speculative fiction inspire me, in the sense that the good shows me moral possibilities of the heart and mind and body, while the bad has shown me how far off track we can get, and identified evils that need fought in the spiritual arena, the wide world of ideas, and the sphere we breathe in.

Fantasy shows me heart-thrilling new realms, including the inner world of minds I have never known, places I have not gone, and kingdoms yet to be won.

Q: Why do you think fantasy adventure is important to us as human readers?

A.

Moral adventure shows us a vital picture of admirable action, with a sense of the mystery, beauty, and courage we all need to live well.

It gives us a picture of goodness – not alone, or always unstained – but goodness as it opposes evil. It helps us sort out ourselves, and where we fit in life and in the universe. We learn by inner experience what it means to be inhuman and human.

Q: In what ways are great fantasy and imaginative fiction vital to our future?

A.

The moment we cease to imagine, an exercise in possibility, a kind of creation, we begin to die, in spirit if nothing else.

And it is vital to create good, to think of virtue, to be a witness of its thriving existence.

If we imagine evil things and live in them, we misuse our gift of sub-creation. We are not here to make the world worse, but to encourage, help, and inspire every person in the great race of life.

My bio is on this website, of course, but you can follow me on Amazon here: https://smile.amazon.com/Azalea-Dabill/e/B00VPO8P9S?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1598721892&sr=1-1

And get a free Medieval YA Historical Fantasy here

5) Brandon M Wilborn

Q: How has fantasy impacted your experience of the world?

A.

I used to turn to fantasy purely for escapism and entertainment. It excels in that.

However, as I’ve grown older, I’ve learned that stories find a spot in our minds and hearts and linger through our days like the scent of a long-cold campfire.

That residue of old stories offers warm and comfortable memories when I need them. It’s the perfect dash of humor to share with a fellow fan. From the characters I’ve walked with in my imagination, I have examples both to follow and avoid, and their examples inspire my own choices as I walk through my life.

The stories give me more life experience than I can attain on my own and enrich my experience of the days I have yet to live.

Q: Why do you think clean fantasy adventure is important to us as human readers?

A.

As I mentioned above, stories linger.

What we allow into our hearts and minds impacts our outlook on the world. So, as with everything, we have a choice:

Dwell on dark stories that emphasize death, destruction, chaos, and evil. OR…

Fuel our imaginations with stories that grow our appreciation for truth, honor, justice, purity, and courage.

I believe you can write and enjoy reading stories that lean heavily on the latter without sugar coating the evil in the world. Having experienced the conscience searing consequences of very dark stories in my own life, I don’t think you have to know the graphic details of an evil act to know how evil it is. Shock factor rarely makes for great art.

What we regain from clean fantasy adventures is some of the innocence we’ve lost in the West. And that is not a little thing.

Q: In what ways are great fantasy and imaginative fiction vital to our future?

A.

The stories we feed our souls can direct us toward the adventure of being the heroes we desire to be.

Or they can push us toward a dark and desperate perspective from which we want to escape.

For instance, one of the negative effects of the popularity of dystopian future stories is that it grabs onto a cynicism in our culture about the future and pushes into the worst fears. Even if the cynicism or skepticism was warranted, the flood of dystopian stories has led more people to see the future as inevitably bleak.

Often, the stories have little to no hope in their resolution, either.

The small band of survivors still face unimaginable difficulties in the tiny sanctuary they eventually find. It’s still them stuck in a scary world with little hope. And because of the extreme circumstances of those stories, they blur the distinctions between good and evil as easily as smudging a chalk drawing.

I still enjoy some of those stories, but I have to consider them carefully.

On the other hand, stories that envision an optimistic future can balance out our fears with hope.

There will still be danger and adventure, and yes, evil. But if the heroes battle through the tough choices and face their own weaknesses, our little seed of hope grows.

Maybe I can do the same, we think.

And that changes our future.

BIO: Brandon M. Wilborn is a man with too many interests, several of which led him to author The Treasure of Capric, the first book in The King of the Caves series, and a follow-up novella, Siren Silence. His love of science fiction and fantasy, along with an education in English and Theological Studies, inspired him to create stories that are full of epic adventure while grappling with deeper questions of life, faith, and our role in the drama of good and evil. After a wandering youth in a Navy family, he now lives happily with his wife and two kids in Idaho. Get a free story from The King of The Caves world at BrandonWilborn.com

6) Chris Walley

Q: How has fantasy impacted your experience of the world?

A.

An interesting question!

To write fantasy is to free yourself of the boundaries and limitations of the present.

It is to continually ask ‘what if?’ questions: what if your neighbour was 400 years old? What if a giant alien lizard knocked on your door?  Most people think along mental train tracks; to be involved in fantasy is to learn to drive an off-road vehicle of the mind.

Of course you may not appreciate what you end up thinking about but it is fundamentally a liberating way of looking at the world.

Q: Why do you think clean fantasy adventure is important to us as human readers?

A.

In the best fantasy the writer puts the reader onto some unexpected and novel viewpoint.

From this place they may be able to look at their own world and see it in a very different perspective. 

The best fantasy challenges people to see things afresh. We could spend a lot of time arguing about what exactly we mean by ‘clean’ but it is important that fantasy has limits.

Some of the things we can imagine we don’t want people to discover.

Q: In what ways are great fantasy and imaginative fiction vital to our future?

A.

As someone who is very much involved with the environment I am increasingly aware that the future does not look positive.

Fantasy can comfort us by suggesting that there are ways in which good can come out of evil but more importantly it can also challenge us by suggesting things that can be done to make the world a less terrible place.

You could also argue that fantasy loosens up the mind and gives mental flexibility. With a complex and constantly changing world, mental flexibility is an important asset.

Links:

https://chrisandalisonblog.wordpress.com/

http://www.chriswalley.net/

BIO: I was born in North Wales in the 1950s but my formative years were in north-west England in what was then a rural part of Lancashire but has now become sadly rather built up. I was torn between sciences and arts but in the end decided to go to university to do geology probably because it ‘told the best stories.’  I ended up doing a doctorate with fieldwork in North Africa and on the basis of that took up a lecturing job in Beirut in 1980. I met my wife there, we had two children and with a new eruption of the Lebanese Civil War were evacuated in 1984.  I then spent 10 years as an oil company consultant and in between contracts wrote a couple of thrillers that were very well received. I then returned to Beirut in 1994, chaired the geology department, wrote a couple of key papers on the geology of Lebanon and founded an important environmental project. For various reasons we left in 1998 and I then had a number of years as Christian editor in which time I also did my own writing including the first two volumes of the Lamb among the Stars. From 2004 to 2014 I did 10 years college lecturing in geology and environmental science and somehow managed to finish the last volume of the trilogy. In 2014 my wife and I relocated to the south of France where I have been involved in environmental work and also editing. Throughout all this time I have maintained a continuous involvement in leading and preaching in various churches and am currently involved in two English-language Anglican churches in the south of France. There’s never a dull moment!

7) Chuck Black

Q: How has fantasy & imaginative fiction impacted your experience of the world?

A.

I grew up dreaming of worlds unseen and adventures not yet lived.

Imaginative fiction fueled that flame within me as I devoured stacks of
books that stretched my imagination and kindled my adventurous appetite.

As a youth, I quickly came to understand that some of the fiction I read did
not honor the Lord or even the quest for humanity to better itself.

In my teen years I chose to not just be entertained by the story I was reading, but to discern and analyze the message of the author, whether good or bad.

I think this helped form the hidden gift of writing within me that I would
only discover much later in my life.

Q: Why do you think clean imaginative fiction is important to us as human readers?

A.

Speculative fiction and fantasy tap into the incredible creativity and
imagination that God pre-wired within us.

The problem is that without the careful boundaries established by our Creator, our sinful human nature can take us to places that can be destructive to our minds and souls.

I’ve tried to write fantastical stories that expand and push the reader’s imagination without compromising on the healthy boundaries of truth and healthy precepts.

Q: In what ways are great fantasy and imaginative fiction vital to our future?

A.

I don’t believe in pure entertainment…everything we read or watch is crafting our future self.

Therefore to read clean speculative fiction and fantasy propels us forward toward an adventurous but healthy future self.

Additionally, today’s imaginative fiction, and especially science fiction, has an enormous impact on steering the future of humanity.

How very careful we should be as writers in taking part of that great influence. Let us steer well!


Link: www.ChuckBlack.com

Chuck Black, a former F-16 fighter pilot and tactical combat communications officer, is the author of seventeen novels, including the popular Kingdom Series, The Knights of Arrethtrae series, the Wars of the Realm series, The Starlore Legacy, and Call to Arms: the Guts and Glory of Courageous Fatherhood. Kingdom’s Dawn of The Kingdom Series received Homeschool.com’s “Voted #1” award and was on CBA’s top ten best sellers list twice in 2008 for all Christian Youth Literature. His heart is to equip and encourage families in their pursuit of Christ, and he seeks to do so through his allegorical and Scripture-based novels, his seminars, and his published articles.

In addition to speaking at homeschool and Christian conferences all across the United States and Canada, Chuck has written columns for the Teach Them Diligently Convention and the North Dakota State Homeschool Association. Chuck has also been published in LifeWay’s Home Life Magazine, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, Walk Thru the Bible’s Stand Strong Magazine, and on various websites and e-newsletters.

Chuck is a believer in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and in the Holy-Spirit-inspired, infallible Word of God. He is devoted to his wife, Andrea, and their six children and multiple grandchildren. Chuck and Andrea homeschooled their six children for twenty-four years; all six are have now graduated from college. Chuck’s passion is to inspire people of all ages to follow the Lord with zeal and to equip parents, pastors, and youth leaders to accomplish the same.

8) CJ Brightley

Q: How has fantasy impacted your experience of the world?

A.

Fantasy is a lens through which to see the world that embraces swashbuckling adventure, big stakes, and profound emotion.

When children face bullying at school, they can remember the courage of a beloved character who faced dragons. When we’re tempted to take the easy way out on a thorny moral issue, we can remember the characters who stood up for what was right, regardless of the cost.

As a Christian, I find the reason to do good in Jesus’s example and in God’s call upon my life. As a reader and a storyteller, I find that courage takes practice… it doesn’t always come naturally.

So when we immerse ourselves in the stories of characters who exemplify the morals we hold, we practice standing for them too.

Q: Why do you think fantasy adventure is important to us as human readers?

A.

Clean fantasy adventure is one way to practice courage, integrity, kindness, forgiveness, generosity, and other morals through the living the examples of the characters.

When we read their stories, we see how those virtues change the world, and what they might cost. We fill our minds with stories not only of the characters who succeeded on the first try, but the characters who failed, who struggled, who persevered, who suffered, and who triumphed.

We read stories of those who could have given up but didn’t, who made the wrong choice but then admitted their mistake, who betrayed their friends and then repented of it.

Fantasy isn’t just about the perfect characters, but all the human flaws that make the characters real. Noblebright fantasy is about how those characters strive to be better than they are, how they hold ideals worth believing in, and how those ideals help define them as people.

What we fill our minds with changes us. As a reader, I want to fill my mind with what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy, that will endure when the world falls apart around me.

Q: In what ways are great fantasy and imaginative fiction vital to our future?

A.

When we read books that strengthen our hearts with truth, nobility, and beauty, we strengthen ourselves for living in a broken world.

We better equip ourselves to stand for truth, to recognize and fight injustice, and to treat others with compassion and generosity.

Imagination gives us something to reason about, and so great fantasy gives our minds stories with which to understand our beliefs.

We give shape to abstract ideas about good, evil, truth, justice, love, and mercy, and engage our emotions in a way that makes those abstract ideas more compelling and real.

Link: http://www.cjbrightley.com/subscribe/

BIO: C. J. Brightley grew up in Georgia. After a career in national security, she turned her attention to writing. She lives with her husband and young children in Northern Virginia. She blogs at CJBrightley.com, where you can find sneak peeks of upcoming books, deleted scenes, background material, thoughts on writing, and books she enjoys.
She also runs the Noblebright.org website dedicated to highlighting the best of noblebright fantasy. Noblebright fantasy characters have the courage to risk kindness, honesty, integrity, and love; to fight against their own flaws and the darkness of the world around them; and to find hope in a grim world.

9) DM Cornish

Q: How has fantasy impacted your experience of the world?

A.

Foremost, it has always afforded me somewhere to dwell that is not banal or wracked with depravity, where even ordinary things in the pretend world are extraordinary to us.

As – I would argue – a commercial outworking of myths, fantasy has furnished my real world with greater significance, graced my waking life with unknown streets leading to impossible romance, or to park-side shrubberies containing buzzing elfin things eager for mischief and ready to unfurl adventures.

It could be argued that such a thing blunts me to the vitality of everyday stuff, but I find it imputes mundane little things with an extra, fizzing… something.

Q: Why do you think fantasy adventure is important to us as human readers?

A.

It has been my experience that the best fantasy – the most thoroughly fathomed and artfully written – grants a certain measure of transcendence, by which I mean, that there is something more than just this ordinary – at times awful – world, that there is beauty of a higher order and with this some measure of the renewal of hope; that one day we will be home.

Moreover, even the most thinly veiled pulp pastiche can provide at least a momentary escape and surely without these inward ‘holidays’ the world would be worse.

Whether conceiving Holden Caulfield in all his brooding, or conjuring hobbits, elves, dwarves and men poised at the threshold of a deep and vaunted mine – all fiction requires leaps of belief and the eagerness to inhabit the author’s world of words.

Indeed, even a bland, thoroughly researched biography (I get frustrated when people cite the reading of biographies as somehow superior because – you know – it’s about “real” things…) requires mental invention and willingness to go wherever the author leads.

So, be it tales of wizards or the ‘facts’ on some historied politician, the result can be much the same: our inner life reinforced with the conjured imagery of people, places and deeds we ourselves have not likely met, been, or beheld.

Q: In what ways are great fantasy and imaginative fiction vital to our future?

A.

It seems to me that most folks reflexively attach portentous significance to things – which I reckon to be as much a theistic itch as it is mystical – and the mythic plays strong to this.

Yet, I fear we are misusing our imaginations – and being very much coached to do the same from those grim grey boxes in our lounge rooms or pocket-sized in our hands – to fill the world with conspiracies and threatening, jeering Others.

So it is important – vital – that our mental furniture has a goodly share of beautiful things and imagined lands and imagined people can be very beautiful things indeed.

And of course – as with all goodly fiction – the building of empathy is a happy reward for a reader’s labours and what the world needs now – has surely always needed – is empathy… sweet empathy.

Links:

http://facebook.com/dm.cornish

BIO: Born 1972, David (D.M.) Cornish is old enough to have been astounded by the very first Star Wars. The discovery of Lord of the Rings when he was 12, then Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake while at university inspired almost habitual word conjuring and the inventing of secondary worlds. An illustrator by training, working with Omnibus Books brought him an opportunity to develop these ideas further. A thousand words at a time lead to the writing (and illustrating) of the awarded Monster-Blood Tattoo series. He is now working on a goodly number of illustration projects, teaches drawing at a tertiary level, and continues to explore the Half-Continent whilst spawning the beginnings of other settings in other genres.

10) EJ Fisch

Q: How has fantasy impacted your experience of the world?

A.

Above all else, I’d say fantasy and sci-fi have taught me to look at the world and ask, “What if?”

We may not have unique magic systems or super advanced technology in the world today (or at least not to the extent that we see in many genre stories), but I still tend to compare what I’m reading to what I see in real life.

I start to come up with hypotheticals and I wonder how x-y-z technology or cultural issue will change and/or affect society 10, 50, even 100 years from now. Asking questions and thinking critically are some of the most important skills humans can learn, and I think fantasy and sci-fi can help with that.

Q: Why do you think fantasy adventure is important to us as human readers?

A.

In addition to helping us think critically about the world we live in, good fantasy/sci-fi adventure is also a great escape from that world.

That’s not to say we should hide behind it and just ignore our problems, but sometimes it’s nice to be able to immerse yourself in a completely different world when things aren’t going so well in ours.

Q: In what ways are great fantasy and imaginative fiction vital to our future?

A.

I could go on and on about this, so I’ll try to keep it short, ha!

The bottom line is that, frankly, there are too many people these days who have no imagination whatsoever. And the problem starts with kids.

I think back on the pretend games my friends and I played when we were young—we had a blast, and some of those games have actually been the basis behind my writing.

Many young people today haven’t grown up playing like that, or reading imaginative stories, so they turn into adults who can’t think critically, and the cycle continues.

Genre stories can spark the imagination at a very young age, and I think it’s incredibly important that we ensure that happens.

Link to Website: https://www.ejfisch.com

Newsletter: https://eepurl.com/b5cxWT

BIO: EJ Fisch is a long-time fan of the science fiction genre. She’ll readily admit that she has a vivid imagination, which can be both a blessing and a curse. She has been writing as a hobby since junior high and began publishing in the spring of 2014. When she’s not busy writing, she enjoys listening to music, working on concept art, gaming, and spending time with her animals. She currently resides in southern Oregon with her family. Visit www.ejfisch.com or subscribe to the Updates From EJ newsletter to stay up to date on the progress of her work. Catch the occasional writing excerpt, view concept art, and more! Have questions? Comments? Thoughts about characters or plot points? Drop a note on her website, finder her on social media, or email at ej@ejfisch.com!

11) JF Rogers

 Q: How has fantasy impacted your experience of the world?

A.

Oh my word – fantasy saved my life.

Not to get into too much of the nitty gritty of my childhood, but I was abandoned by my mother as a baby, raised by a single dad, and put in the hands of an abusive so-called caregiver.

Needless to say, it was an unhappy childhood wrought with horrible memories. My imagination was an escape from a harsh reality.

Granted, it didn’t help me in school where my teachers consistently reported that I spent too much time daydreaming. But had I not had that incredible, God-given ability to transport myself to another time and place, I don’t think I would’ve survived growing up.

I devoured fantasy books and movies. Delving into the minds of another person’s imagination, enriched my imagination like nothing else.

Q: Why do you think clean fantasy adventure is important to us as human readers?

A.

I hope not everyone had the traumatic childhood I did. But no matter what readers are facing, they’re human, dealing with their own human condition and the human condition of others.

That said, their life has difficulty.

Fantasy is a great escape. And, although escaping the world through fantasy saved my life, I don’t want people to miss out on living.

Rather, I hope they take breaks from their difficulties by delving into another world. Better yet, I hope they meet Christ, or deepen their relationship with Him through fantasy adventures.

Sadly, there is a lot of valuable time spent on books that worsen our human condition…that is…they feed our sin nature, convincing us that things our flesh enjoys are good for us, whispering in our ears that we should pursue such things.

They deepen our depravity by desensitizing us to sinful acts, normalizing them, or worse…inciting us to engage in them.

I’m a firm believer that we can and should enjoy so much this world has to offer.

Books, movies, music…everything we use to entertain ourselves can be used for good or evil. Clean fantasy adventures are necessary so readers can choose to use their leisure time for good and avoid polluting their soul. 

Q: In what ways are great fantasy and imaginative fiction vital to our future?

A.

The more we visit the creations of other imaginations, the stronger our own becomes.

If we want to survive in this world, a great imagination is key. Not only as an escape, but, once we’re stronger, as a means for problem solving.

As a child, my imagination protected me from the world. As I matured, my imagination helped me solve difficulties that came my way. As I matured in Christ, my imagination assisted me in helping others by writing works that illustrate the need for a relationship with our Creator, and in problem solving in better, more Christ-centered ways.

Fantasy and imaginative fiction are vital to helping us develop our own imaginations and, with it, our own problem solving abilities. But Christ-centered fantasy and imaginative fiction are vital to doing the same…but in doing it right. 

Bonus Question: On a more personal note, I’ve been curious about how you see shape-shifting in general in fiction, and in your series about shape-shifters in particular. Could you tell us a little about the good aspects of shape-shifting in your stories vs some of the negative aspects and ramifications as they have been used in a lot of fiction, as a bonus for our readers?

  1.  

In regards to shape-shifting in fiction – honestly, it’s just fun.

At its core, all fiction is fantasy. It’s all make believe.

But what we typically think of as fantasy, whether it be an alternate world or unusual creatures, is really just a fun platform to demonstrate the problems in society and, for me, to illustrate Biblical truth.

We have the freedom to create a completely different world with its own people groups and problems. In my world, I have the gachen and the selkie.

The selkie transform into seals. The gachen transform into any number of different animals. Truthfully, they’re all gachen. But the selkie are elitists, they’ve separated themselves and ensured they remain pure by banishing those who fail to turn into seals when they reach their bian, typically around age 15.

Then there’s the Treasach. Again, they’re gachen. They’ve bred themselves to be larger, leaving babies who don’t meet their height and weight criteria to die to ensure only the largest and strongest survive.

Through these groups that don’t exist and can’t be offended, I can share personal feelings about such elitist behaviors and illustrate Biblical truths. Like in our real world with all the history, pain, fears, etc. of certain people groups – we’re really one race.

The human race. We all go back to Adam and Eve.

In Ariboslia, the shape-shifters are all gachen. God’s creation. But their own personal histories, pains, and fears have separated them…just like in our world.

But at the end of the day, each one of us as individuals, on earth and in Ariboslia, have to decide where we’re going to put our faith.

Links: This is the link for the free book and my newsletter: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/fn5yz7p96v

Or my website: https://jfrogers.com/  

12) Katie Clark

Q: How has fantasy impacted your experience of the world?

A.

I was an adult when I realized, for the first time ever, that I loved fantasy and science fiction.

I had been reading it my whole life without identifying it, and when I did finally realize it a whole new world was opened to me.

I finally understood how to seek out specific types of stories—the stories that freed my imagination to dream and slay the dragons in my own life.

Q: Why do you think fantasy adventure is important to us as human readers?

A.

This quote sums it up perfectly, in my mind…

“Fairy tales do not tell children [that] the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.”


― G.K. Chesterton

Q: In what ways are great fantasy and imaginative fiction vital to our future?

A.

We live in such uncertain times. Life can be frightening if we give in to the fear.

Fantasy allows us to see worlds in which even extreme villains can be defeated.

This isn’t necessarily true of other genres, and those of us living today can gain courage, strength, and faith through fantasy fiction as we navigate these troubled waters.

Link to September 24th release The Rebel Princess: https://www.amazon.com/Rebel-Princess-Rejected-ebook/dp/B08966QS4T/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=the+rebel+princess+katie+clark&qid=1595703658&sr=8-1

BIO: KATIE CLARK started reading fantastical stories in grade school and her love for books never died. Today she reads in all genres; her only requirement is an awesome story! She writes young adult speculative fiction, including her romantic fantasy novel, The Rejected Princess, her Beguiled Series, and her dystopian Enslaved Series. You can connect with her at her website, or on social media @KatieClarkBooks.

13) KM Weiland

Q: How has fantasy impacted your experience of the world?

A.

There’s no other genre I find as consistently thrilling as well-done fantasy.

It “speaks my language”—symbolically and intuitively—and has given me such a vibrant well of visuals upon which to draw, both in my writing and in my own personal life.

Q: Why do you think fantasy adventure is important to us as human readers?

A.

Fantasy provides clear access to life’s symbolism.

Perhaps more than any other genre, fantasy is the one closest to life’s archetypal foundation, and as such, it allows us, as readers and writers, to cut through the clutter and the chatter of “real life” to get to the heart of things.

The best fantasy inherently combines total escape with absolute meaning, and because fantasy itself is metaphor, it is able to share deep thematic experiences without being moralistic.

Q: In what ways are great fantasy and imaginative fiction vital to our future?

A.

Psychologically, fantasy is incredibly powerful.

The unconscious mind doesn’t speak in words so much as symbols, and fantasy is the ultimate in metaphoric storytelling. If told with a strong understanding of symbolic truth and psychological arcs, fantasy is and can be, I believe, one of the more enduringly powerful forms of fiction.

Website link: https://www.kmweiland.com/

BIO: K.M. Weiland lives in make-believe worlds, talks to imaginary friends, and survives primarily on chocolate truffles and espresso. She is the award-winning and internationally-published author of Outlining Your Novel, Structuring Your Novel, and Creating Character Arcs. She writes historical and speculative fiction and mentors authors on her award-winning website Helping Writers Become Authors.

14) Kathleen Baldwin

Q: How has fantasy impacted your experience of the world?

A.

As a child, I loved fantasy stories: the Arthurian legends, fairytales, and, of course, dragons, wands, magic swords… As my reading expanded, I began to see that, in some respects, all fiction is fantasy.

Think about it.

In most good stories, even ‘realistic’ ones, you’ll find an element of the fantastic, some marvelous point of change, or some incredibly courageous act, or that extraordinary moment in the story where everything shifts miraculously. Do you feel that way?

As time passed, I realized there is a kind of real ‘magic’ in the world around us.

You and I are living in a tangible fantasy adventure. This crazy mixed-up world is a Hogwarts of sorts, and each of us wields gifts that will either make things better or worse.

That’s why I call the magic in my books plausible magic, or realistic magic. The fantasy in my books is all possible. I write fiction that could really happen.

Q: Why do you think clean fantasy adventure is important to us as human readers?

A.

I consider the hearts and minds of my readers a sacred responsibility.

I would rather hang up my pen than allow one of my books or stories to jeopardize my readers’ morality.

If a fifteen-year-old picks up one of my books, I want it to be the kind of story she can share with her sixty-year-old grandmother, and they’ll both love it. That’s my goal. I haven’t always achieved it.

And here’s a sad note, while I have some male fans, my books tend to appeal more to girls and women.

Q: In what ways are great fantasy and imaginative fiction vital to our future?

A.

Great fantasy is a dream of things that someday might be true, a hope for what could be, an exploration of possibilities.

Fantasy is a wish.

It is a lesson that teaches us that we can walk through dark worlds and come out on the other side—victorious! As we did in Le Guin’s Wizards of Earthsea. Through imaginative fiction, we learn to face dragons and death with courage.

Or, like Harry in McKinley’s Blue Sword, we explode evil by tapping into the source of all good. Therein lies the more profound secret, fantasy is a spiritual journey.

Fantasy whispers hope into the darkness.

Links: https://kathleenbaldwin.com/newsletter/

BIO: Kathleen Baldwin writes award-winning bestselling novels for teens and adults, but she loves real-life adventure: hiking the High Sierras and river-rafting. She taught rock-climbing in the Rockies, skied incessantly, was stalked by a mountain lion, survival camped in both the desert and snow, and finally married her very own hero and best friend. Together, they raised a houseful of courageous free-spirited kids. Scholastic licensed Kathleen’s books for book fairs. They were Junior Library Guild selections, translated into several languages, made into Japanese manga, and optioned for film.

#1 New York Times bestselling author Meg Cabot calls Kathleen’s Stranje House series, “completely original and totally engrossing.”

16) Lindsay Franklin

Q: How has fantasy impacted your experience of the world?

A.

Fantasy was very important to me as a child.

My childhood was not always easy, and I was drawn to fantasy as a bit of an escape. Imaginary worlds allowed me to see beauty, truth, danger, hope, tragedy, and triumph through a lens that felt removed from everyday life and yet somehow every bit as real.

I wouldn’t say I escape in the same way today as an adult with (hopefully) healthier coping strategies, but I think little-me was onto something. The fantastical allows us to amplify aspects of the wildly creative, wonderfully fantastical world we actually live in.

Q: Why do you think fantasy adventure is important to us as human readers?

A.

I firmly believe that our human creativity is a reflection of God’s creativity – creativity so vast, the most wildly speculative fantasy novel will never surpass it. These tales that allow us to stretch our imaginations, whether as creators or consumers, are soul-nourishing.

They allow us to examine the biggest and most spiritually relevant of all themes: good versus evil, self-sacrifice, ultimate truth, and so many more.

Q: In what ways are great fantasy and imaginative fiction vital to our future?

A.

Our world, particularly at this moment, is hungry for some light – some goodness, hope, truth, and love.

Stories of all varieties can sate this hunger, but the fantasy genre is especially able to speak to the supernatural – that which transcends the material world – and so imaginative fiction is uniquely poised to meet the soul-deep need for hope.

Link: https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/v5i4z9

BIO: Lindsay A. Franklin is a Carol Award–winning author, freelance editor, and homeschooling mom of three. She would wear pajama pants all the time if it were socially acceptable. Lindsay lives in her native San Diego with her scruffy-looking nerf-herder husband, their precious geeklings, and three demanding thunder pillows (a.k.a. cats).

17) Patrick Carr

Q: How has fantasy impacted your experience of the world?

A.

It’s deepened my appreciation for the power of story.

Who can read the tales of Arthur and his knights or The Lord of the Rings or, especially, The Chronicles of Narnia and not be changed?

What we now call fantasy novels were once called fairy tales. They were repeated from generation to generation to give our children the truth that there are monsters in the world, yes, but that there are also heroes who fight them. More, we can be those heroes, and though we may not win every battle we, and the world, are ennobled by our efforts.

Fantasy is essential. It gives us a means to sharpen and channel our imagination.

Q: Why do you think fantasy adventure is important to us as human readers?

A.

I think fantasy is important because it gives us a framework to experience victory even if it is vicariously.

In our modern technological world filled with spin and obfuscation, it is difficult to slay the evil dragon because there’s seldom agreement on who it is.

This leads us to a frustrating existence where evil becomes this intangible miasma that we wade through every day, but can’t quite take hold of. As for “clean” I’m not sure what the definition of that is. There are things I choose to write and things that I don’t.

The Bible is filled with episodes in history that certainly wouldn’t be clean, but if we don’t face them or name them, how can we defeat them? I think we need a better definition.

My stories have plot points that I don’t consider clean. They’re ugly, evil, and should rightly be condemned and fought. What I have no use for is literature that glorifies such things.

That’s a type of gratuitous glorification that doesn’t belong, but the label ‘clean’ doesn’t rightly rest with either example.

Q: In what ways are great fantasy and imaginative fiction vital to our future?

A.

As the pace of our world continues to increase, an escape from its continual pressures will become ever more important.

There’s such a need to unplug from the technology and reclaim our imaginations.

Sadly, many people choose not to and so they miss out on the opportunity to recharge. And it’s getting worse. The statistics on the percentage of people who read a book, any book, after high school or college is depressing.

In a world where first-person shooter games desensitize the players, we desperately need new generations of readers to develop their empathy and compassion. It’s a frightening future where so few people read.

I’m hopeful that books and reading will experience a renaissance.

Heaven knows we need it.

BIO and Link: Patrick Carr starts his day at an absurdly early hour, swilling coffee in an oversized mug and eating dark chocolate as he crafts character-driven fantasy stories in the dark. He was born in what used to be West Germany at the height of the cold war to an Air Force fighter pilot and a very patient woman. He turned his predilection for daydreaming into a writing habit, which explains why he will often stop in midsentence to stare, observing scenes no one else can see. His first novel, A Cast of Stones, won the Clive Staples Award, the ACFW Carol Award and was a finalist for the Christy Award in two different categories. Since then his works have won the Realm Makers award for epic fantasy and the Inspy Award. 

He spends his days teaching high school math (yes, really) in Nashville, TN and his nights enjoying laughter and music with his beautiful wife, Mary, and their four sons. There’s also a dog in the picture that he seldom discusses in public because he’s twelve pounds of white fluff. He is the author of two acclaimed series, The Staff and the Sword, and The Darkwater Saga and a Biblical-historical novel, The End of the Magi. You can find out more about him and his books at www.patrickwcarr.com, the place where character-driven fantasy lives.

18) Rachel Neumeier

Q: How does fantasy impact the reader’s experience of the world?

A.

It’s normal, I think, for people to be drawn toward beauty, to want to see small miracles in the commonplace, to want to perceive the inexplicable in the unexplained.

We want to be amazed. We want to be stopped dead in our tracks by a sense of wonder. These are the features of fantasy literature that I think draw some readers toward the genre, or toward subgenres that emphasize those qualities.

But it seems to me that this works in both directions: readers of fantasy also begin to look for – and find – the beautiful and the miraculous and the numinous in our own world.

At least . . . I hope so!

Q: Why do you think fantasy adventure is important to us as human readers?

A.

Fantasy is one of the best genres for showing the reader people who are not like us or who live in worlds that are not like ours. 

This is important in allowing readers to experience different ways of thinking and develop empathy – crucial for today’s complicated world. As for adventure – adventure stories in particular showcase qualities too often ignored or even denigrated by modern society, such as courage, kindness, and most of all taking responsibility.

How many adventure stories are about ordinary people who save the world – or at least a corner of the world, at least for a while? Too many to count.

Fantasy adventure isn’t alone in modeling the qualities we most ought to admire, but it’s a subgenre that does so all the time, consistently, regardless of what the specific quest might involve. 

Q: In what ways are great fantasy and imaginative fiction vital to our future?

A.

Becoming aware of and experimenting with, and for that matter understanding and empathizing with, different ways of thinking is crucial as society changes and evolves.

A tolerance for and appreciation of diverse viewpoints and ways of seeing the world is vital today and is only going to become more so tomorrow.

Fantasy novels – and many other genres – encourage a mindset that appreciates and enjoys this kind of diversity in experience and viewpoint.

Link: https://www.rachelneumeier.com/  

BIO:
Rachel Neumeier started writing in graduate school as a break from research, but gradually allowed her hobbies to take over her life. Her writing emphasizes a lyrical style and themes of honor, loyalty, and trust. She currently has around twenty novels and collections on the shelf, many of which have earned starred reviews from Kirkus, Booklist, or the Junior Library Guild. Along with writing adult and young adult fantasy, she gardens, collects cookbooks, shows her Cavalier King Charles Spaniels in conformation and obedience, and occasionally finds time to read.

19) RJ Anderson

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Q: How has fantasy impacted your experience of the world?

A.

As a child, fantasy was hugely important to me as an escape from loneliness and the bullying I experienced at school.

But for me the best fantasy stories were not just the ones that transported me to another world, but the ones that reminded me in some way of the Great Story found in the Bible. It meant a lot to me that the best fantasy books depicted the heroes’ sufferings and struggles not as senseless cruelty but as part of a greater Purpose, and affirmed that no matter how terrifying and even unconquerable the darkness might seem, light and truth would triumph in the end. 

As an adult I no longer feel the need to retreat into fantasy worlds, but I still love to visit and explore them.

Fantasy is one of the few genres left that celebrates the triumph of goodness over evil and insists that there is a real division between them – even if, as Solzhenitzyn reminded us, that line cuts through the heart of every human being and it’s important to remember that as well.

A fantasy that pits sinless saints against irredeemable sinners can be just as false as a fantasy that pretends there’s no difference.

Q: Why do you think clean fantasy adventure is important to us as human readers?

A.

Good fantasy inspires us to dream of and seek after better things, and also to see our own everyday world with new eyes.

I often think of C.S. Lewis’s quote about how he wrote the Narnia books to steal past the “watchful dragons” of people’s false and jaded notions about Christianity, and I think fantasy has tremendous potential to show us truth from unexpected angles and help us to understand ideas that we may struggle with or even outright resist in real life.

So I try to find ways to bring that into my own storytelling.

Q: In what ways are great fantasy and imaginative fiction vital to our future?

A.

Our present world has a desperate hunger for love, happiness and purpose, and people are searching wildly in every direction to find it.

But the shabby idols propped up by the entertainment industry and the muddy cisterns of modern “realistic” storytelling inevitably leave them feeling cheated. Many people these days are embarrassed to want happy endings, let alone believe in them, and I’ve heard a lot of snide remarks about the “toxicity” of stories that claim villains can be redeemed and not just beaten.

But that just shows how far we’ve wandered from the truth of the gospel, which offers hope to every human heart. 

I really believe that telling great imaginative stories that acknowledge we are fallen creatures who can’t save ourselves, but which also point us to One who is worthy and who can offer us the redemption we long for, will resonate with people in ways that no other stories can.

But we have to learn how to tell those stories well enough that people who don’t already agree with us will listen, and that’s not a skill that can be learned overnight.

If we want to see great fantasy stories being written in the next few decades, we don’t just need to support young authors and praise their efforts, we need to encourage them to seek out thoughtful criticism and use it to make their stories truer and richer and better.

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, as Hebrews 12:11 reminds us, but the harvest it yields can’t be produced any other way.

Bonus Question: On a more personal note, I’ve been curious about the idea of fairies changing size in your books, which changed Knife’s horizons in a momentous way. Could you tell us a little about that?

  1.  

The size-changing aspect of the book was actually inspired by Steven Spielberg’s 1991 movie HOOK, in which Julia Roberts’ Tinker Bell makes a magical wish to become big so she can be with Robin Williams’s Peter.

That doesn’t work out in the movie because Peter’s married (and thank goodness the script respects that!) but it did give me the idea of how a 7” tall faery might get a taste of what it’s like to be human size.

In Knife’s case it doesn’t come by conscious wishing so much as desperate necessity, and she doesn’t have any control over when it happens. But I enjoyed the challenge of trying to describe how extraordinary the world we take for granted might appear to someone who’s only ever seen it from a much smaller and more vulnerable perspective.

The idea that the human realm and its people might appear every bit as wonderful and glorious to a supernatural creature as the idea of “fairyland” seems to us is a major theme of Knife’s story, and it came from the verse in 1 Peter that “Even angels long to look into these things” that God has revealed to us.

Links: my website at www.rj-anderson.com, and my Instagram at instagram.com/rjandersonwriter.

BIO: Born in Uganda to missionary parents, R.J. (Rebecca Joan) Anderson is a women’s Bible teacher, a wife and mother of three, and a bestselling fantasy author for older children and teens. Her debut novel Knife has sold more than 120,000 copies worldwide, while her other books have been shortlisted for the Nebula Award, the Christy Award, and the Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Science Fiction. Rebecca lives with her family in Stratford, Ontario, Canada.

20) Serena Chase

Note: This author’s section is longer because I didn’t make the requested word length clear, and after her answers were received, I thought it worth posting without editing for length.

Q: How has fantasy impacted your experience of the world?

A.

My first experience with fantasy was through classic fairy tales: namely, a beautifully-illustrated, antique copy of Cinderella—a book that resided in my grandmother’s home before it was mine—and the Fairytales and Rhymes collection from The Little Golden Book Library series—a now-battered pink tome from my earliest childhood.

Before I was old enough to read The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis for myself, I watched the early animated version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe on television (back in the days when we had four channels and an antenna on the roof). From my first watching of that life-changing adventure, I was convinced I would be able to find Narnia one day.

Although I did not, alas, discover a way into Narnia from my world, I discovered more of myself through those books than perhaps any others, save my own. With every re-read, I find the stories have grown bigger, somehow; much as Lucy found Aslan to be bigger on her subsequent visits to Narnia.

Fantasy fiction impacts my everyday life not only because I write it, but because my love for the intricacies of other worlds makes me more attuned to the whimsy and wonder of the world in which I live.

Through the act of reading, I have adventured, feasted, mourned, fought, laughed, and prevailed alongside a host of amazing characters. Having vicariously lived through harrowing adventures with those characters, I am better equipped to find meaning and hope in desperate and confusing times.

On a spiritual level, I believe fantasy stories have expanded my view of who God is.

They help me understand free will and its consequences; why the choices I make matter in both big-picture-eternal and this-moment ways. Truths gleaned through the power of story—fantasy stories in particular—have enabled me to more clearly own the truth that God is personally invested in my life and its adventures, whether tragic or victorious, big or small.

Q: Why do you think fantasy adventure is important to us as human readers?

A.

Since I’m not personally offended by a smattering of profanity (especially when that profanity is newly author-created as a world-building element), and violence is something I simply expect to encounter in a fantasy adventure, I’ll address what I consider to be the most potentially damaging elephant in the “this might offend some readers” room: gratuitous and/or graphic sex.

YA fantasy is probably my favorite genre to read, but I’ve seen a troubling shift toward the acceptability of graphic sexual content in YA fantasy, as well as in adult fantasy written by bestselling YA authors (which is, by default, marketed to—and then read by—their existing YA audience.)

I will die on the hill of Free Speech, and I proudly stand on the belief that BANNING BOOKS IS WRONG, but if we are to produce healthy, well-read children we want to grow into healthy, well-read, and well-adjusted adults, I think we must need more “clean” reading options, written appropriate to age and maturity levels . . . to offer alongside the books of questionable content that will surely come their way.

I’m not saying we cannot write about hard or delicate subjects, only that we need to consider our target audience’s wellbeing in how we present those subjects.

Providing well-crafted adventure stories that truly entertain tween and teen readers—but protectively so within their capacity for emotional, physical, and sexual safety—should be the goal of every responsible YA and middle grade author.

But adults deserve those options too.

A well-crafted story doesn’t need gratuitous or lewd content to fully engage a reader.

When I consider the fantasy books that have truly imprinted on my heart and mind—The Chronicles of Narnia, Robin McKinley’s The Blue Sword, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, etc.—not one of those favorites has crossed an offensive or gratuitous content line. Not one of them has needed to cross that line to “help” increase the tension or stakes of the story.

They’re not just clean fantasy adventures, they’re awesome fantasy adventures.

I am an incurable romantic, and I adore discovering—and creating—romance subplots within fantasy adventures, but I believe intimate moments between characters should be exactly that: intimate, between those two characters, alone.

Metaphorically shut the bedroom door, fade to black, aaand . . . scene.

Even apart from my beliefs that, A: a well-crafted adventure does not need on-the-page sex to be amazing, and B: I shouldn’t have to skip through pages of sexual content to get back to the actual forward motion of a story, I don’t think I’m alone as a romance-loving adult who does not want to read graphic sexual content.

I want to read romantic fantasy adventures that are so well-crafted that they don’t need to lean on content crutches to build counterfeit tension (or book sales.) I want to read books that enforce my belief that a hero might still live within me.

Q: In what ways are great fantasy and imaginative fiction vital to our future?

A.

Immersive fantasy adventures are often about the concept of “becoming.”

They contain moral elements that fuel the plot while growing characters into the heroes they were always meant to be—the heroes the world needs in that pivotal moment.

In our society, too many children, young adults, and even adults are without dependable real-life heroes and mentors. Through imagination, within the “theatre of the mind” experienced while reading a great fantasy tale, a kind of mentorship can take place between the protagonist and the reader, filling the hero gap in a reader’s life while imparting subtle—and sometimes subliminal—life lessons they may not otherwise receive.

Imaginative fiction is not only an escape from a present reality, but a window into “all that could be” if we apply the heart-meanings of those adventures to our own life stories.

In Coraline, Neil Gaiman paraphrased a wordier sentiment from G.K. Chesterton’s essay, “The Red Angel,” writing, “Fairy tales are more than true—not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten.” I think that is a beautiful way to express the ongoing, vital need for fantastic and imaginative fiction.

Our world is full of destructive forces, but when we read of and identify with characters facing similar or more dire straits—real-to-us people, who must choose to become the hero their moment needs—we are given hope that we too might become heroic when our moment presents itself.

BIO: SERENA CHASE is the author of the critically-acclaimed Eyes of E’veria series—epic fantasy adventures, realized within reimagined fairy tales—and the contemporary young adult musical theatre romance, Intermission. Originally intending to pursue a career as a singer/songwriter, Serena studied at and received her bachelor’s degree from Belmont University’s Mike Curb School of Entertainment & Music Business in Nashville, Tennessee. “I still write songs,” she is fond of saying, “they’re just really long songs now . . . and the music is all in your head.” Serena believes readers seek an immersive and connective entertainment experience each time they open a book, and she seeks to provide that through her stories. A graduate of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild Apprentice Course, Serena writes from her home in rural Iowa, where she also runs a business as a freelance editor, marketing copy creator, story coach, and workshop presenter. Connect with Serena on Patreon, Facebook, Instagram, and by signing up for her newsletter on her website, serenachase.com.

21) Sharon Hinck

This author took the offered option of changing the Questions.

Q: Why do you write in the fantasy genre?

A.

A theme to all my work in the arts over the years has been, “God is so awesome and multifaceted that we need a variety of means to communicate with Him and about Him.”

Fantastical stories are a particularly powerful way to examine questions of good and evil, courage and faith, sacrifice and redemption.

We can explore our own world and its challenges when we journey through an alternate world. It gives us a fresh perspective.

And it’s just plain fun: imaginative lands and creatures, noble heroines, new worlds to explore!

Q: What themes do you explore in your latest novel, Hidden Current?

A.

Have you ever felt that nothing you do is ever enough?

Not good enough? Meaningful enough?

Do you ever think that if you could be more perfect, all your problems would be solved?

In my new novel, I explore a character whose entire culture tells her that she must achieve perfection – and that answers to her world’s problems rest solely on human effort. I hope her journey will ring true for readers in our world.

Q: What inspired this new series?

A.

Years before I wrote my first novel, I worked as a dance teacher, choreographer, and artistic director of a Christian dance company. So, when my agent and I were discussing ideas for my next book, he said, “In all your other novels, you’ve never drawn from your experience in dance. I’d love to see you create a brand-new fantasy world and utilize dance in some way.”

I began mulling the idea, and within days, a character had come to life.

In Hidden Current, the dancers of the Order direct their floating world with their movements but are steering it toward destruction.

One lone dancer fights to overcome opposition from rim villages and treachery from the all-powerful Order and bring a forgotten truth to her people.

Link: Learn more at sharonhinck.com

22) Sigmund Brouwer

Q: How has fantasy impacted your experience of the world?

A.

In the bigger picture, I think it’s safe to say that story is wired into human DNA.

To tell stories is what makes us human, and to be human means we tell stories.

It’s how we make sense of the world, it’s how we learn, it’s how we connect.

Fantasy, I believe, lets us learn truths that we might not otherwise experience in our daily realities, because it broadens our world and our experiences. More importantly, it shows us that the truths of our daily worlds are truths that apply in a universal way, and underscores what really matters. 

Q: Why do you think clean fantasy adventure is important to us as human readers?

A.

With a clean fantasy adventure, we are not distracted by anything else except the core of the characters, what the characters desire, and how their decisions impact their lives. When a theme emerges, it has impact then.

It’s also delightful to get so lost in a story that you forget everything else, including how immersed you are in a story. Again, removing distractions makes that so much more possible and enjoyable. 

Q: Do you think a fantasy can be told in any other way?

A.

My novel Clan has just been released, and I’m delighted with the reviews that talk about universal human experience and truths. “This is a story of relationships, intrigue, loyalty, betrayal, overcoming obstacles, and surviving against all odds.”

Although in the strictest sense, it is historical fiction, it truly is a fantasy, set some 14,000 years ago during the Ice Age era in North America. It’s a survival story about a boy who yearns for the respect of his father.  More than that, it’s a Cain and Abel story, told from the perspective of the sons — who of course are cousins — and how the hatred between their fathers — the brothers – is so destructive to everyone in their lives.

Readers might also note ’The Great Flood’ and draw their own conclusions about the significance of it to the story.

Because we know so little about the structure of the lives of that era, it was just as much speculative fiction as historical fiction, and I did write it the way I would write a fantasy. As well, I hope it transports the readers into a new and unexpected world, the same as with my other fantasy novels.

BIO: As the bestselling author of dozens of titles, with over 4 million books in print in multiple languages, Sigmund Brouwer writes for both children and adults. He has won the American Christy Book of the Year and the Arthur Ellis Award for best young-adult mystery in Canada, as well as being a finalist twice in the prestigious TD Children’s Literature Awards. Over the last two decades, he has presented his Rock and Roll Literacy Show to more than a million students across North America.

Link: Website with free ebooks available for download: www.storyninjabookclub.com

23) Tricia Mingerink

Q: How has fantasy impacted your experience of the world?

A.

Fantasy has inspired me to appreciate the fantastical things all around us.

The world we live in is amazingly beautiful, and many places feel like they are right out of a story book. I’ve seen the Grand Tetons capped in snow, looking like mountains from a fantasy. I’ve hiked old forests that feel like they could contain the talking trees and animals of Narnia.

Fantasy also inspires me to “take the adventure” that is before me, as Reepicheep from the Chronicles of Narnia would counsel.

Life is filled with adventures. Sometimes the adventures aren’t that pleasant.

2020 has been one wild adventure that none of us would have chosen if given a chance. But life is still good. Challenges help us grow and change.

I don’t think the characters in books enjoy their adventures either, but they always come out better for them, as will we.

Q: Why do you think clean fantasy adventure is important to us as human readers?

A.

The fictional fantasy adventures inspire us to face our own adventures in life.

Clean fantasy adventure gives stories that the whole family can read together and be inspired by together. They can bond families around stories.

My family has always been the type to read the same stories and discuss them while doing activities together. In this year, our entire families need the escape that clean fantasy gives us.

Clean fantasy gives us a respite from the real world. A rest from the stress of life. When I’m wound tightly with stress, few things relax me as much as re-reading a favorite book.

My books might not be every reader’s favorite book, but if I can provide even one reader with a favorite book that provides comfort and inspiration in difficult times, then it is worth it.

Q: In what ways are great fantasy and imaginative fiction vital to our future?

A.

This year especially has taught us that we need to cling to hope.

Hope is the only way we are going to survive the constant barrage of bad news, challenges, and changes that life has thrown at us this year. Great fantasy and imaginative fiction provides us first with a much needed escape from the grind and difficulties of daily life.

Yet, in that escape, we vicariously live adventures where the good guys suffer challenges and eventually succeed, where good triumphs over evil, and where the bad times do not last forever and happy endings do happen.

We need those reminders more than ever nowadays so that, after our escape into fiction, we can tackle the adventure of our real lives with hope and perseverance.

BIO: Tricia Mingerink is a twenty-something, book-loving, horse-riding country girl. She lives in Michigan with her family and their pack of pets. When she isn’t writing, she can be found pursuing backwoods adventures across the country.

You can connect with Tricia on her blogFacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

I hope you’ve enjoyed your journey with our authors. Aren’t they great? One thing that amazed me about their answers to these important questions about imaginative fiction is how similar many of them were, yet each unique. Beautiful!

If you missed the links at the beginning of this massive post and still want to join our Fantastic Journey, please fill out the Fantastic Journey review application here.

Thanks again, and have a wonderful day!

Azalea Dabill ~ Crossover – Find the Eternal, the Adventure

P. S.

No venture of this scope is ever accomplished alone. Here are a few additional people who are very good at what they do. They made all the difference for Fantastic Journey.

Derek Murphy of CreativIndie: Book Covers Extraordinaire. He is also a fiction author and has a lot of writer craft how-to on CreativIndie. He has a generous wealth of information.

Derek Doepker is also great for Audiobook Creation and Podcast Know-how.

Adam Houge is Directing my Book Launch. He has been beyond helpful!

CJ and Shelley Hitz of Christian Book Academy have an encouraging step-by-step author publishing program. (This is an affiliate link.)

Nina Amir’s How to Blog a Book was a vast help in the creation and formation of Fantastic Journey – The Soul of Speculative Fiction and Fantasy Adventure. If you want to know more about blogging or blog to book projects, you can find her here, where she is known as the Inspiration to Creation Coach.

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Author Lead Magnet Collaboration

Derek Murphy CreativIndie

I’m scheduled to release my book Fantastic Journey – The Soul of Speculative Fiction and Fantasy Adventure the first week of January 2021, and I wanted to extend this author collaboration opportunity to you, if you’re an imaginative fiction author.

If you have a lead magnet this might help you get a lot of new subscribers. (For readers here, I won’t forget you either, but will be sure to share these upcoming special events soon.)

Authors, if you have a free lead magnet for subscribers that is a free fantasy or speculative fiction book, and you’d like to get it in front of 100s of potential new subscribers, please send your newsletter lead magnet link and a cover pic for one free novel of your choice to fantasticjourney.dynamospress@gmail.com.

Fiction adventure and battle scenes are great, but no romance above the “moderate” level. Which I don’t think will be a problem in our group here. 🙂 Books with spiritual themes are appreciated. I reserve the right to choose which books make our lead magnet list.

If chosen, I will put your lead magnet on a special page on my website. Your subscription link and lead magnet will also be advertised on my social media as part of a free book bundle for imaginative fiction readers.

The whole time to my book launch in January 2021, readers will have the opportunity to pick up your lead magnet, besides my book “Fantastic Journey – The Soul of Speculative Fiction and Fantasy Adventure” on $0.99 preorder.

Who could pass up a bundle of free books from great authors? (I’m looking for a 30-40 author free book bundle of lead magnets for readers to enjoy.) 5 places are already taken, so don’t wait!

In exchange for your lead magnet on my website, would you be willing to share these gifts with your email list?

1. On the future of fantasy and speculative fiction – a whopping 27 Q and A Author Roundup Interview

2. A massive SIGNED book giveaway from 25 speculative fiction and fantasy authors

3. A $0.99 preorder deal for “Fantastic Journey – The Soul of Speculative Fiction and Fantasy Adventure”

4. And the book release special of “Fantastic Journey” for imaginative fiction lovers – with a secret bonus.

If chosen, your lead magnet will remain on my website for the foreseeable future. I will also send it to my list of 780 subscribers.

If you like this collaboration idea, just send me the subscription link to your lead magnet so we can get your work in front of 100s of deserving new subscribers over the next few months – and into 2021.

I’ll provide swipe copy emails to make everything easy to share when the time comes.

Epic adventure, great speculative fiction, and fantastic journeys are irresistible to imaginative fiction aficionados. Readers will love it.

Let’s win more readers together!

Please send your link and cover pic to fantasticjourney.dynamospress@gmail.com

Thank you,

Azalea Dabill

Crossover ~ Find the Eternal, the Adventure

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Fantastic Journey Cover

Fantastic Journey Book Cover A
Fantastic Journey Book Cover B

Calling all imaginative fiction readers and speculative fiction and fantasy aficionados’!

I thought you might like to weigh in on the book cover for “Fantastic Journey – The Soul of Speculative Fiction and Fantasy Adventure.”

My cover designer did a splendid job on both samples, but which do you like best?

A. journey4 – the cover with the ship between the two title words
B. journey3 – the cover with the ship forming the “A” in Fantastic

Then I can let my designer know which is your favorite, and we will finalize the cover!
Just reply in an email to me at fantasticjourney.dynamospress@gmail.com.

Your chance to apply to join a select group of readers on the Fantasy Adventure Team for reviewing the ARC for a signed print copy and other reading delights will be coming soon.

Thank you so much, and have a great week!

Azalea Dabill
Crossover – Find the Eternal, the Adventure

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