Cover Reveal & Giveaway: The One

Heather is one of my people and I am so excited to be a part of her cover reveal. If you love YA fiction, I hope you’ll check it out.

the one

Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Eveline Fallon has lived her entire life on the move—and she hates it. Believing her to be the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy, her parents have done whatever it takes to stay one step ahead of those who wish to see her dead in order to keep the prophecy unfulfilled and the doorway between the worlds closed. But Eveline isn’t fully convinced that her parents’ beliefs match her own. What she does believe is that Leadville, Colorado, and the sanctuary offered may be the chance she’s been waiting for. The chance to be somewhere safe. The chance for her to make friends and have fun. The chance to finally date a guy. The chance to be a normal girl, at least as normal as possible for someone not human.

heatherAbout the author:

Heather Self abides in Texas with her four loves—three human, and one furry—and tries to Keep Austin Weird. Survives writing, and editing by consuming copious amounts of Godiva and coffee, and using Spotify playlists. Self-confessed nerd and lover of BBC programs, particularly Doctor Who and Sherlock. Twitter connoisseur, Facebook avoider, and blogger un-extraordinaire.

To learn more about Heather’s upcoming plans you can follow her on twitter, find her on facebook or visit her website.

Where to buy her books:  AmazonBarnes&Noble, or Kobo

And here’s how to enter to win a signed poster of the cover: a Rafflecopter giveaway

The link if you need it:  http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/MzNjYzRmODY4NDNiNzcwZDdhYTBmYjk3NjMyZjEzOjEx/

THE ONE is Heather’s debut Young Adult fantasy novel and is being re-released with an updated edition on April 29th! Cover & Book Design by Brad Self; Cover & Author photographs (c) 2014 Self Image Photography.

(re)defining: church

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This is part of a link-up with boots on the ground.

The past few years I have been experiencing church more in the in-between places. That realization came out of a time when we had friends over for dinner and somehow I felt moved in a direction towards God that I hadn’t experienced in awhile. It was messy and full of life happening around us. But it was a time I could point to and say, this is Church. (You can read about that experience here). I continue to find this to be true. I enjoy my times on Sunday when I am in a designated space participating in liturgy, but I experience church outside of these confines, too.

Art journaling, writing, or coffee dates with friends.

Dating my husband every other Tuesday.

Dinner with another married couple every few weeks.

Random conversations in the drop-off/pick-up line at school.

Going to a ballet when the world falls out from under your soul-mate/friend.

Small group Wednesday night where we gather to eat food and care for one another.

All of these spaces are church because I leave them changed. Because God uses these circumstances and people to move me closer to himself. It’s a more freeing way for me to experience church because it isn’t tied to a particular place and time–but it flows around me. Because I love Jesus, church has the potential to happen anywhere. I make my own sacred spaces, and even if they are only sacred for a moment, that is good and it’s enough.

I continue to find that there isn’t a right way or a wrong way to experience church. And I’ve even found that the more simple an experience, the more open I am to the Spirit’s gentle whisper. I’m not distracted by fanfare or too many people that can overwhelm his sweet voice. I think I got locked down into such a traditional sense of church for so many years that I missed the way the spirit of God moves.

I think church for me has become a “place” defined more by my experience than the external factors. I think we enjoy the external factors: the coffee, the food, the music, the conversation. But I think church happens when we are able to care for one another–whatever that looks like. I think we know when church happens because on a spiritual level our hearts will be moved with affection towards our Savior. In these spaces, we will speak words of kindness and light into each other as we work to heal the rough, worn, weary places in our hearts. Usually when I leave these sacred times, I feel euphoric. I used to crave the high I experienced from “going to church” with a really good sermon and where the music and words are well-crafted to call forth tears. But now find these things make me feel manipulated. It’s the quiet, gentle whisper I want to hear. I want to experience the mess, to wrestle with the what-ifs and the questions and the doubts.

And I think as I have redefined church, I also realize that I am carrying church with me. It’s on my back, in my hands and feet so when the world interacts with me, it gets to experience church. Same for you. We are giving church to the world. The place I go on Sunday ends every week with this blessing: now go and live the church. I feel like this definition allows us to experience the richness and depth and freedom that God wants for us as we interact with him, each other, and the world.

Review: Every Shattered Thing

18158307This story has wrecked me time and time again. If you read my last post, you know I don’t lollygag when it comes to stories. But there is something about Stephanie that messes me up and it took me over three months to finish this book. Not because it’s not engaging but because it’s heart-breaking. This story brings you into the very real world of sex-trafficking from the perspective of someone caught in it’s tangled web. I found myself holding my breath at different points because I know there are real faces and real women and children who face this daily. Stephanie is fictional–but her story is not. And I love how Elora uses her gift of story-telling and her passion to bring awareness to this evil.

It may seem crazy at times that something like this could really happen, but Elora has done her research and she weaves it effortlessly into the story. I never felt disconnected from what was happening. And even though she is dealing with such an intense subject matter, Elora still weaves light and hope through the story. I love how Elora brings us into this world and how she keeps us there.

Stephanie is a heroine I admire. Despite everything that she faces she continues to dream and hope. Yes, she has support but she is the one at the beginning of each day who has to choose to breathe. And while I LOVE Kevin, I appreciate how this is Stephanie’s story and their relationship doesn’t overshadow the rest of the plot. And while I can appreciate a man who walks in guns blazing to save his woman, I never felt like we entered fantasy land. The men in this story are as real as the men I see on the street. There is some real depth of characters here, well-developed and intriguing. Ones who frustrate me because of their indifference and some who I downright despise because of their callousness; and then of course the ones you love because they are fighting the evil they see.

I am looking forward to the next book in the series and the next phase of Stephanie’s journey.

Synopsis:

Stephanie fights reality every day. The voices inside, the ones declaring her worth, deem her broken, used and dirty. She is an object. A toy. Something to be tossed aside when bored. Who will believe her if she whispers the truth about her wrecking ball of a family? Eventually, her secret explodes and the person who means the most to her knows just how shattered she is and why she’s so afraid. But rescue is closer than she realizes. Hidden in plain sight, her horror hasn’t been ignored by everyone. Racing against the truth of what she faces, forces are joining together and developing a plan to free her from the hell in her own backyard. And while she’s at her lowest point, she’s hit with the beauty of love at any cost – redemption in the face of ruin. Will it be enough? 

*Warning: Contains mature content that may not be suitable for younger audiences.

Here’s the amazon link. Once you’ve read it, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

double-edged

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photo by Jennifer Upton

Yesterday.

I have no words for the hole I got sucked into. There were some hard truths I needed to face with my therapist. Things that had been warping my view of the world. And as I began to verbalize them, I felt a release. I tipped my hat, acknowledging them for the lies they were. And as we wrapped up my counselor looked at me and asked how do you feel? Are you OK leaving that here?

Yeah, it’s great. I mean, I know they’re lies so it’s fine.

But later in the day I pulled out my kindle and read. Voraciously. I paused to play Harry Potter with Matthew when he asked me too. He and I have bonded over this video game and while I hated to poke my head out from the hole I also didn’t want to disappoint him. And video games can be just as mind-numbing as books, turns out. And after that I ran to my room as fast as I could to hide under the metaphorical blankets and continued to read. I read all night, long after Doug orchestrated supper and put the kids to bed. Then he came to bed and I said I would be right there…and at 3am I finished the book and knew I needed to stop. I tossed and turned, characters running through my head…and Doug’s words from earlier that night.

I’m sorry I accused you of not doing anything today. For all I know counseling was really hard and you just couldn’t do anything after that.

And then it clicked. He saw me even when I couldn’t see myself. Because my love for books is a two-edged sword. It brings me life and I enjoy it. But it also becomes a coping mechanism, a way to escape from the real world around me when I don’t like what I see in the mirror. I read without regard to time or priorities, lost in fantasy where there are easy conclusions (sometimes) and where I can feel things that aren’t real. Where I get swept away in a torrent but am safe, enshrouded in blankets. And it’s a wrestling of sorts. Because reading is restful and restorative. But it can also numb me out to the world around me–to my family, my kids, and my friends.

I hate that most of the things I love need to be practiced with balance and moderation. If it’s good, why can’t it just be all good? Why do I take the good and suck the marrow out of it until it becomes an obsession, a habit…abuse? So many good things and I’m not to be trusted with them.

Shame crawls along my skin threatening to sink me, for caving once again to the desires of my flesh. And again I face the temptation to check out. To just let go and float under in the void. Why does shame taunt me so restlessly? Why can’t I escape? Why can’t I grow wings and experience freedom? Today I feel weighted down and abandoned to the system. Today, the shackles have won.

Or have they? Because I’m writing these words. The hard ones. Facing the truth head on. Yes, yesterday I succumbed to darkness. But today, through gentle words from friends, I am seeing echelons of truth across the canvas–pushing through the gray muddle. And in a vulnerable, humble place, I wait. Taking one breath one step to claim the freedom. Still feeling the stings of wrists and ankles rubbed raw from binding chains, but I know they yield to the light. So I reach for and grasp it, clinging to the bit of truth that I know–I am loved and beloved.

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