Quest for the King

the-story-starts-with-youDo you ever feel like the world is against you? A lone warrior facing unending obstacles in your quest for righteousness and honor? Sometimes it’s true that life is stranger than fiction. And sometimes fiction just seems to reflect the subtle truths of life.

For those of us who love to read fantasy, we can often find ourselves longing to live within the pages of our favorite tale. The wardrobe to Narnia beckons us, the path to Rivendell whispers, and the search for Hogwarts lives on in our child-like hearts. We long to run away with the characters on an adventure of our own to a place where life is more than the mundane, and our purpose is clear.

But we do have an adventure calling to us and the quest we’ve been given comes from the King himself, The Great Lord of all the Land. He leans down to whisper His urgent message in our mortal ears. Who will listen and take up the charge? Who will accept the quest of the King? Will it be you?

Quest for the King is a 60-day devotional written as a fantasy tale. As a devotional, it is the story of each of us, sent on a quest by the King of kings. As a medieval fantasy tale, the story takes us on a journey to find the King’s child. For both, the path is filled with obstacles and enemies. Each day is another step in the journey to find the child, complete with bible verses, reflective questions, and lines for journaling your thoughts.

The story starts with you.

You are summoned to the throne room. The Lord of the Land has a quest just for you. It is a path fraught with danger, but you must choose it of your own free will. You won’t be alone, though. There will be many on your path:

  • The Saint
  • The Prisoner
  • The Guide
  • The Promiser
  • The Liar, and others

Some will be helpers sent by the King. Some will be enemies sent by the beast who will use every weapon in his arsenal to stop you from finding the child. He will even try to steal your soul. Will you find the child before the beast finds you?

Why don’t you open the scroll and take a peek at the summons to start you on your quest?

 

Day One: The Summons

You’re a peasant and your life is a mess. The house is a pigsty–and while the pigs make messes on the floor, you are to blame for the filth on the counters. You don’t have time to wipe them or even to scrub the cauldron. The master of the guild has you working late, and your efforts to learn are unappreciated. He leaves you to menial tasks like delivering messages and sweeping as if you are naught but a slave. It’s discouraging.

You daydream about being a knight in the King’s service. That will never happen, though, because the King only chooses the able and the daring, and you are neither. You can’t battle dragons. You have no sword, no shield, and no training. You have no garments appropriate to even stand before the King, let alone to fight for Him. What would the King want with a peasant like you? You wonder what it would be like to have a mission, to be a warrior who had the King’s eye. You have dreamt about a meaningful life and have cried out in frustration for the lack of it.

As you attempt to tidy, there is a knock at your door. Who would be calling before the rooster crows? You run your fingers through your unkempt hair and pull your wool cloak from the wall, in hopes of looking like you are heading out. If the interloper believes you are leaving, you may escape his judgmental glare into the pit you call a home. You push open the door.

It is a well-dressed man, in fine white linen trimmed in gold cord, and he takes up the entire door frame. There is no chance to sneak past him. He smiles, makes eye contact, and asks for you by name and title. When you mumble in agreement that you are whom he is seeking, he bows until his head passes the plane of his waist. Then he presents you with a scroll made of beautiful parchment, wrapped in a rich burgundy ribbon, and stamped with the seal of the King.

“So glad you are ready to go,” he says. “The King is waiting.” You stare at the scroll for a moment and then look back to the courier, but he is gone as a wisp into the fog. You start to question whether he was real at all or just a figment, but realize you are still holding the King’s sealed words in your hands. Trembling, your fingers break the wax and untie the ribbon. The scroll is a summons to appear before the King. You are to leave everything behind and come at once.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

“…he turned to me and heard my cry.  He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”

Psalm 40: 1b-2

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As you go about your week, put your cries down own paper. Leave them here on the pages of day one. Know that your Heavenly King hears your cries and will lift you out of the slimy pit.

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Although this project has two contributors, we came into it with one purpose. It has one author page, because we have one love for Christ that we want to share with you!

AJ is a debut author with the publication of Quest for the King. She has a Master’s Degree in International Affairs from The George Washington University and has been writing and editing as an analyst for almost 20 years. She is currently a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and is active in both her church and her sons’ Boy Scout troop.

AJ reads non-fiction books on a range of topics to include devotionals and health-related books. She also enjoys the whimsy of young adult fantasy, the depth of myth and lore, and the excitement of magic. She loves the epic struggle between good and evil.

AJ lives in Maryland with her two sons, three dogs and two cats.

AJ’s website is AJBensonAuthor.com.

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Heather has published eight novels including the LIGHT OF LOIAN series, which spent five months at the top of Amazon’s free Christian Fantasy charts, and SOUL TIES, a supernatural young adult series.  Her first novel, A Light in the Darkness, was featured at the Arkansas Literary Festival.

She is the former president of Fiction Writers of Central Arkansas and a current member of the American Christian Fiction Writers. She is an active speaker at conferences and enjoys teaching others about writing tradecraft. Her fantasy novels, for middle grades, teens, and young adults, are exciting adventures filled with quests and new discoveries.

Heather enjoys writing in many genres. She is currently working on a paranormal suspense series and also released a contemporary romance, Loose Ends. From children’s lit to non-fiction, there are few genres she wouldn’t love to explore.

Heather lives in Arkansas with her three teenage children and loving, supportive husband.

Quest for the King is available at your favorite online retailers. Check it out!

Distant Shadows

distant-shadows-ebookArcher and Hannah have followed her dreams to the Big Apple and here they will find more than they ever imagined. Distant Shadows is a fast-paced urban fantasy filled with carnival troupes, demon hunters, angels, and battles with dragons in the streets of New York. Readers are calling it a thrilling page-turner that will keep you thinking about it for days.

Ready to start the adventure? Grab the first book, A Familiar Darkness, for FREE. The third book, Distant Shadows, will be available everywhere ebooks are sold on Sept. 12th. Pre-order it now and save.

New Release: A Familiar Darkness

Happy Release Day! I’ve been waiting ages to share this one with you! Grab it this week for the special release day price of 99cents on Kindle, Kobo, Nook, or iBooks.

A Familiar Darkness EBOOK

A Familiar Darkness
Soul Ties book 1

Archer is a magician with a few more tricks up his sleeve than even the savviest street performer could imagine. Devilishly handsome and full of dark secrets, his devil-may-care attitude came at a price and unfortunately for him, the devil may care after all.
When he meets Hannah, a runaway whose art is more than it seems, he’s determined to keep her and her drama at arm’s length. But their souls are tied together with bonds that won’t be ignored and it’s going to take all his skill to keep her safe from the horde that follows her every move.

Audible Winner

To celebrate the rerelease of The Light of Loian Series, I decided to give away a free copy of the audiobook version of A Light in the Darkness. Well, the winner is….

Stephanie Arsoska

Congratulations, Stephanie! Thanks for signing up for my newsletter and entering to win!

If you’re not Stephanie, don’t be too sad. You can still grab a copy of A Light in the Darkness for free on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, or iTunes. If you really wanted an audiobook, check out my books on Audible and watch for more of the Light of Loian Series to hit Audible later this year.

Audible - LITD

Characters and Friends

Light Series adLast week I told you about the time I wrote my first book, A Light in the Darkness. It’s amazing to me now to look back and see how far I’ve come from that first night at my computer. What an adventure it’s all been! Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that those words would turn into a real book with fans reading it around the world. I’m just in awe of the whole journey from page one to where I sit now days away from releasing my sixth book into the world. Wow. This weekend I watched that first book climb the charts on Amazon. It hit #3 in Christian Fantasy and stayed there for three days. What an amazing rush that was to see it, too. I am so proud that The Light Series is still resonating with readers.

BUT the reason I really love The Light Series and keep writing is because of the characters. The characters in The Light Series are really the best part of the story. As I wrote this series, they quickly took on a life of their own, shaping the story in their own way and making me want to spend more and more time with them. It’s hard when you love a character not to wish they were real so that you could be friends. Well, with this crew, I sort of wish they were ALL real. I just can’t get enough of them. Here are a few of my favorite characters from the series starting with the one’s who started it all…

Merrilyn is loyal and kind. She’s a bit naive, having lived her entire life in the tiny village of Nomar. An orphan, she was raised by the village healer, Aileena, and taught the trade as her apprentice. She longs to be more than just a healer, though. She wants to be one of the great Alaiths, a rare and powerful group of  healers who can heal with the mysterious power of light. On her journey, she’ll discover not only a vast world filled with incredible people and creatures she could never have imagined, but she’ll also find her true self along the way.

Justan is Merrilyn’s best friend. The prince of Nomar and second son to King Andraus, he doesn’t have a lot of responsibility at court. He spends his days following Merrilyn around and trying to amuse her. That is, until his brother goes missing and he’s forced to step up into a role he never thought he’d have to fill. Justan’s greatest fear is losing Merrilyn and he’ll do anything to protect her – even if that means pushing her away. Here’s a quote from one of my favorite scenes in the second book, To Light the Path.

Justan

Who’s your favorite character in The Light Series?

NaNoWriMo 2015

nano_logoDid I ever tell you about the time I wrote my first book? I don’t mean the years I spent scribbling story notes in spiral bound notebooks or dreaming up stories in my head, but the year I actually sat down and wrote an entire book from beginning to end.

No?

Well, sit back, because it’s story time, kids. Once upon a time, a long time ago in 2007, my brother (the talented best-selling author, Aaron Pogue) dared my father and I at the dinner table one night to write a book.

“You’ve been talking about writing a book for years,” he said to the both of us. “It’s time you actually sat down and did it. What’s stopping you?”

I”m sure we made up a lot of very clever excuses, but in the end, he held up his hands to silence us both. “This year, I want you to do this. Write a book during National Novel Writing Month. We’ll all do it, we’ll share word counts and cheer each other on. I’ll even send you some prewriting exercises to help you get prepared. You can do this. You just need to make yourselves sit down and get it done.”

I looked across the table at my dad and said something like, “Well, I’ll do it if you do it, Dad.”

And that was the end of that. Or, the beginning rather. Because the next week we had writing exercises in our inboxes and we started talking like we were actually going to do this thing. A novel in a month. 50,000 words in just 30 days. It was insane. And yet…it was also thrilling. I’d had this crazy dream just a month before that would not leave me alone and I really, REALLY wanted to know the story behind it. The dream was something like this:

A beautiful girl sits by a pool of water at the base of a waterfall. She is flirting a little with the boy sitting next to her, but most of her attention is drawn to the man standing up on the hill watching her with an ever deepening frown. She can tell he’s angry, but she’s stubborn and won’t go talk to him. Then, she sees someone behind him, an enemy. She runs up the hill to defend him, but she can’t get there fast enough. As she reaches him, the enemy casts some dark spell toward him, but she jumps in the way, light and darkness colliding and she falls in a heap on the ground, unconscious.

That dream haunted me and I just had to know what happened next. Who were these people? I could feel her intense emotions about the man she’d saved, it felt like love and panic. It was clear she’d rather die than let this man be hurt. Why? Who was he? How had they gotten there? Where were they going? Who was the enemy and why did he attack?

These questions went with me into that first Nanowrimo. On November 1st, 2007, I wrote the first sentence of what would be my very first book. Now, eight years later, I have just published my sixth book. It’s all because my brother wouldn’t let me keep dreaming about being an author, and pushed me to actually be one. Now, I have a bookshelf full of dreams come true.

And by the way, that book I wrote? It turned out to be A Light in the Darkness. You can find that dream I had in the middle of chapter eight.

Are you an author? Are you daydreaming about a story you just have to know the ending to? Tell us your story and let us cheer you on. Then, go write that next story. You never know when it will be the dream come true.

Are you joining us this year for Nanowrimo? Stop by and visit me. You can see all the books I’ve worked on through the years during Nanowrimo and get a sneak peek at what is coming next: http://nanowrimo.org/participants/sutherlin2/novels

Seen Gets a Facelift

Yesterday Seen, the first book in the Wanderer Series, got a beautiful new cover from Author/Designer Donna Dull. What do you think?

Seen Cover 2There’s more coming up for Wanderer Fans! Next month Seen will become an audiobook through ACX. The sequel, Wandering, will get an updated cover, and the series will have it’s own page on my website. Finally, we’ll be adding all new graphic designs to our Swag Shop so that you can share The Wanderer with your friends.

New Release: Wandering

It’s time to celebrate, friends! I finally found Rory and now you can find her, too. Her story continues in Wandering, a brand new release in The Wanderer Series that’s out today. To celebrate my new book release, I’ve put the first book in the series on sale. If you haven’t yet read Seen, you can grab it for just 99cents, this week only, on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and iTunes. Grab it while they’re hot! This deal won’t last long.

Wandering front cover

When you’ve traveled between worlds, there’s nowhere left to go but home.

Rory has never been so cold in her life. But the biting wind only reminds her of another pain that grows more intense with each passing day. Each night Jaron’s beautiful voice sings in her dreams, and each day her footsteps draw her closer to his side. Danger and intrigue at every turn, no distance is too far when you’re returning for true love.

Rin has spent the last five years searching for Rory across two worlds. Now a series of visions have him convinced he’s growing closer to finding her. But when Rory slips through another portal, taking his visions with her, he finds himself back at square one. To find her now he’ll need the help of an old friend and a little otherworldly magic.  This time he intends to bring The Wanderer home for good.

Wandering

Available on Kindle, Nook, and iTunes

Help Us Find Rory!

Where's Rory?Rory is missing! This crazy character of mine fell through a portal at the end of her book, Seen. Now the sequel, Wandering, is coming out in just 8 days (Squee!) and I need your help finding her!

Maybe you’ve seen the posts other author friends of mine have been leaving around the internet these days. They’ve been doing their best to help us narrow down the search by telling us where Rory definitely is NOT going to be found. They’re such great friends, that they’ve even decided to offer a reward. Will you join the search? The clock is ticking and we could really use your help!

All you have to do is follow the clues left behind by the other authors. You’ll find them all on the Where’s Rory page. Then, come back and leave a guess in the comments on the Where’s Rory page. Anyone who leaves a guess that gets us closer to finding Rory will be entered to win one of the ebooks offered by our authors.

Hurry! The search ends on June 24th!

Cover Reveal: Wandering

When I asked my cover artist, Kate Gardner, to design a cover for Wandering, she disappeared with the book and her sketchpad for a few days. What she came back with was incredible. I took one look at her notes and said, “It’s perfect! Do it just like that, it’s perfect.” Then, I went on with life and she went back to school for the spring. A few months later I was putting the finishing touches on Wandering when I got the call. “It’s finished. When do you want me to bring it by?” I nearly dropped the phone!

Here is what she brought me:

Wandering painting

I promise you, the photos do NOT do it justice! Rory’s hair has an auburn sheen to it that shimmers in the light. The mountains hold both texture and depth. But my favorite part is how the air above her sparkles. It reminds me of when we lived in Maine and the air was so cold one winter morning that the moisture in the air froze into tiny crystals, making the air literally sparkle in the sunlight. You would hardly believe it until you saw the beauty of it for yourself. Looking at this painting, I almost can imagine Rory’s expression of wonder as the wind lifts her hair and the snow swirls around her feet.

After the painting was in my hands, I had it photographed and then the images were sent to my cover designer, my incredible sister, Shannon Iverson. She’s the talent behind all of my other book covers, but for this one I wanted the painting to really shine. So, the design was simple this time: focus on Rory.

Wandering front cover (548x800)

I hope her expression captures your attention as it does mine. I hope you can feel her longing and sense the enormity of the journey she’s on and, most of all, I hope it makes you want to know more. If you haven’t met Rory, you can find her story in Seen. Discover why we’re all searching for her now as Wandering hits the shelves later this month. Then, join us in our search for The Wanderer.

All week we’ll be searching for Rory and following the clues some very talented indie writers have left for us along the way. You can join the search HERE. A new clue will be posted each day and you can leave your guesses in the comments on the Where’s Rory? page. We’ll end the search with a big giveaway from some of our participating authors on the 20th. A whole stack of ebooks will go to our readers who guess the closest answer to Rory’s actual location.

Think you know where Rory is hiding? Join the search. Follow the clues, find the Wanderer, and win great books from fabulous indie authors. Want to follow the action? Don’t miss a single clue! Share the fun with friends on Twitter with the hashtag #WheresRory.