Author Chat with Morgan L. Busse on her Ravenwood Saga

Last year, I discovered Morgan as an author when both our novels were finalists in the 2019 Selah Awards for Speculative Fiction. Her Mark of the Raven later took first place (so well-deserved). The Ravenwood Saga has made her my new favorite fantasy author, and today, it is my absolute pleasure to welcome her as a guest to the blog! In this interview, you can catch her heart for writing, for her readers, and for “the Light.”

Q: What prompted you to write this fantasy series?

All of my books start with a scene that I see in my head. For The Ravenwood series, I saw a young woman assassin standing over the bed of young man. I knew he was important, and I could tell she was hesitating to fulfill her mission. So I started asking who was she? How did she get to this point? Who was the young man? Why was he important? Why was there a target on his life? From that scene Selene’s story grew into what it is today: The Ravenwood Saga.

Q: Selene’s dreamwalking ability is such a creative twist on special powers. Did something inspire you to invent her skill, and if so, what was it?

There are a lot of assassin stories out there, so I wanted to make this one different. Then I thought, what if she had some other power? One of my favorite cartoons to watch with my kids is My Little Pony. The job of one of the royal sisters is to watch over the dreams of the other ponies at night. The moment I saw that episode, I knew what Selene’s power was: to walk in dreams. But it had been corrupted, and her story would be her journey to bring her family’s power back to what it was supposed to be: protecting the dreams of people.

Q: Who is your favorite character from the Ravenwood Saga and why?

Ooo, that is a hard one. Of course I love Selene: her struggle with figuring out who she is and if there is anything redeemable about her abilities. I also love Damien’s quiet but fierce love for both his people and eventually Selene. And of course I love Lady Bryren, the leader of the wyvern riders. She’s a firecracker and a fun character to write about!

Q: Selene and Damien have to grow up quickly due to their circumstances and their life or death decision at the end of book one (no spoiler). Why do you think it is important for young adult fiction to present strong, vulnerable characters who must make hard choices?

Becoming an adult means facing hard choices, and the path we choose many times determines the adults we become. I wanted to show through Selene that we always have a choice in who we become, that we are not bound to the choices our family has made. And by choosing to walk away from the wrong choices our family has made can change not only ourselves, but eventually our family, and our world. Damien is an example that there are strong young adults who are selfless leaders.

Q: What do you hope readers will take away from this saga?

Hope and strength. That each step toward the light is worth it. That when we give up ourselves, we save not only ourselves but those around us.

Q: How did you first discover your writing ability, and how have you seen God use it in unexpected ways?

I never wanted to be a writer. I loved reading and that’s it. But my husband continued to encourage me to write. So I finally gave in (he’s quite the persistent cheerleader!). When I write a book, I pray for the person who needs to read it and that God would help me write the message that person needs to hear. And with every book, I get at least one email from someone who needed that story at that time. Last week, there was a young woman who received an advance copy of Cry of the Raven (the last book), and the day she finished the book, her grandmother passed away. One of the themes of Cry of the Raven is dealing with the death of loved ones, and she wrote about how much this book is already helping her with the death of her grandmother.

Q: What advice would you give aspiring young writers?

One: study the craft of writing. Read books, go to the conferences, follow the newsletters of those who teach. Two: write, write, write! You only become good by practicing. A friend of mine once said that most people need to write a million words before they start writing something worth reading. Third: live life. Don’t forget to spend time with your family, go for a walk, enjoy life. The writing is always there, but if you aren’t living, you will have nothing to write about.

Q: Can you hint about what next project you have in the works?

Yes! I’m currently working on a new steampunk series and am already halfway through the first book. The series is currently dubbed The Plague Wars. Here is a quick blurb:

In a world covered in a deadly mist that forces humanity to live in the sky, Cass escapes the purges and survives by her wits until she stumbles onto the airship Daedalus and finds a job as a diver. As a diver, she explores the ruined cities within the mist, searching for treasure and family heirlooms for the rich. But everything changes when a young man hires her to find the very thing that will turn their world upside down: a way to eradicate the mist.

Theodore Winchester is a member of one of the five powerful families that rule the sky over the mist. Following in his father’s footsteps, he searches for the source of the deadly mist that turns people in the undead and hopes to stop the purges used to control over-population. But what he finds are secrets and ambition, and with each question comes horrifying answers. If he continues his search, not only will he encounter opposition, but perhaps even his own death.

But the mist is rising, and if a remedy isn’t found soon, the entire world will be enveloped in its deadly embrace, turning all of humankind into monsters.

Ready to find your next favorite fantasy series? Meet author Morgan L. Busse who shares about her award-winning Ravenwood Saga.

About the Author

Morgan L. Busse is a writer by day and a mother by night. She writes fantasy and steampunk novels and sometimes dabbles in science fiction. She is the author of the critically acclaimed Follower of the Word series, The Soul Chronicles, and award-winning Ravenwood Saga. When she’s not writing, she loves to play games, take long walks, and dream about her next novel.

About Cry of the Raven, Book 3 in the Ravenwood Saga

Lady Selene Ravenwood has come into her full power as a dreamwalker just as the war with the Dominia Empire begins. Working with the other Great Houses, Selene and Damien use their gifts to secure the borders and save those devastated by the war. But conflict, betrayal, and hatred begin to spread between the Great Houses, destroying their unity as the empire burns a path across their lands. At the same time, Damien Maris starts to lose his ability to raise the waters, leaving the lands vulnerable to the empire’s attacks.

The only one who can unite the houses and restore her husband’s power is Selene Ravenwood. But it will require that she open her heart to those who have hurt her and let go of her past, despite the one who hunts her and will do anything to stop her power.

Will Selene survive? Or is she destined to fall like the dreamwalkers before her?

Tales of the Lonely Sun Blog Tour

I am so excited to introduce you to today’s guest blogger, Jorja Ayres! Please join me in welcoming Jorja to the blog. This teen writer and her friends are striving to raise the bar for young adult fiction, and today, she shares her reason “why” and a writing tip for other aspiring young writers.

Guest Post by Jorja Ayres

Hi, everyone! My name is Jorja Ayres, and I’m one of the writers on Tales of the Lonely Sun. TotLS is a writing and reading blog that focuses on sharing and creating stories that shine bright in our dark world. This post is part of our blog tour. If you want to find out who else is a part of the tour, enter a bookish giveaway, or read some of our posts, click here.

Why Do I Write?

I’m a writer. I’ve written blog posts, short stories, and am working on a novel. The question is: why? Why do I spend hours upon hours every week punching buttons on my laptop’s keyboard? Well, it’s the same reason that pianists press black and white keys and artists drag graphite and wax across paper. To try and create something beautiful. For me, though, there is more to it. I am part of the group of people in this world that use their creativity to create things that bring glory to God. My way of doing that is writing clean fiction with good themes and messages of hope. Whether you are a writer or not, I encourage you to think about your “why.” Psalm 119:59 says, “When I think on my ways, I turn my feet to your testimonies” Self reflection when it comes to hobbies or jobs can help us realign our lives with God’s will. 

How Do I Write?

Part of the mission of Tales of The Lonely Sun is to help people write stories that stand apart from the dark and hopeless stories that are becoming more and more common in today’s world. A common struggle is not knowing where to begin. Coming up with an idea for a writing project can be difficult, especially because inspiration tends to disappear as soon as it is sought out. 

One quick way to get creative gears turning, and come up with original ideas, is to use a random word generator. Generate random words and craft a story out of them. I recommend this word generator, because it lets you choose the parts of speech you want your words to be.

As an example, I got these five words from a generator: infamous, pocket, pass, typical, and airport. Different people would come up with different stories for these words, but my mind immediately jumped to a spy story. Combining all of the words into one sentence describes a scene: A typical looking woman in an airport passes a man who slips a piece of paper into her pocket containing information on an infamous criminal. To fill this sentence out into a story, we start asking questions. Who is the woman? Why is she a spy? Does she know the man who gave her the note? If she does, what is their history? Why is she the one getting the information on this criminal? What is her history with this criminal? Already a plot starts to emerge. Asking more questions leads to a more developed story. 

Once you have a general story idea, you must make decisions on how you want the story to go. One major step in this process to identify the theme you want to include in your story. What do you want the character(s) and readers to learn from the story? Your theme should be something you are passionate about, something you want to shout from the rooftops. This will give your story meaning; it will give you your “why.”  

Whether it’s the theme of your story or the anthem for your season in life, having a Christ-centered reason for whatever project you are undertaking makes all the difference. 

About Jorja Ayres

Jorja Ayres (pronounced Georgia Airs) is a 15 year old Christian writer, reader, and fangirl. Her hope is to help the readers of Tales of the Lonely Sun navigate around some of the beginner mistakes that she has made, as well as share some writing hacks that made things simpler for her. Her dream is to one day be able to give her readers the same feelings that she has experienced when reading some of her favorite books, as well as share positive themes that shine bright in this dark world.

She lives in Southern Arizona with her family, dogs, and hedgehog.

Merry Christmas Early! The Revisionary, Free on Kindle for a Limited Time

This Cyber Monday, here’s something you don’t need to buy. I’m excited that for the first time, I can give away copies of The Revisionary for free on Kindle. It’s my Christmas present to you! I hope you enjoy and share with other fans of young adult dystopian fiction.

Merry Christmas early! Download the award-winning dystopian novel, The Revisionary, by @kjhogrefe for free December 2 and 3. Available on Amazon.

If you’re new to the blog, you might wonder: What’s it about? I’m glad you asked! This futuristic thriller takes characters on a journey where they must rediscover America’s heritage to find hope for her future.

Nineteen-year-old Portia Abernathy plans to earn a Dome seat and rewrite the Codex rules to rescue her exiled brother. Her journey demands answers from the past civilization, but uncovering the truth means breaking the rules she set out to rewrite.

You can learn more on my book page. When you finish the story, if you can spare a minute or two, I would be thrilled if you would leave a simple, honest review on Amazon or Goodreads. Again, there’s no pressure to leave a review, but I would truly be grateful if you would consider doing so. Reviews can go a long way in sharing books with others.

Now, it’s your turn to share: What’s been your favorite find this gift-giving season? I’d love to hear about your good deals (or good reads) in the comments below.

~ Kristen


Giveaway Winner!

Congrats to Pamela on winning a copy of the Fresh Start Bible! Thanks to all who commented and shared on social media. This resource released December 1 and is available on Amazon.

Fresh Start Bible: Giveaway and Review

Many people wait until New Year’s for new beginnings, but any time of year is perfect for a fresh start. What better way to grow our relationship with God than learning more about His Word? The Fresh Start Bible is designed to help us do just that.

What’s Unique about the Fresh Start Bible?

The Fresh Start Bible uses the New Living Translation (NLT) for its biblical scholarship as well as easy-to-read, dynamic writing style. A forward by Jimmy Evans includes his personal testimony and 52 lessons he wrote that address fundamental questions, such as:

  • Who made me?
  • Why do people die?
  • How can I be saved?
  • Why should I be baptized?
  • Can I be saved without baptism?
  • How do I deal with anxiety and worry?
  • How do I build godly relationships?

After this foreword are the Old and New Testaments, and sprinkled among the books of the Bible are supplemental articles by church leaders. They are designed to break down practical teachings and inspire spiritual growth.

Following the Scriptures themselves is a section titled “Intersections” that examines major characters in the Bible’s narrative. Their purpose is to show God’s faithfulness and relationship with men and women through history. Finally, there are also full-color maps that show where Scriptural events take place, including:

  • Topography of Palestine
  • World of the Patriarchs
  • Ministry of Jesus
  • Paul’s Missionary Journeys

What Features Make this Bible a Great Gift?

My church has put a real emphasis on finding our “one,” at least one person God has placed in our lives to be a friend who needs Christian encouragement or an unbeliever who needs someone to point him to Christ. This Bible would be a great gift for my “one” or your “one” for a couple reasons:

  • The first page provides a special place to write someone’s name, your name, the occasion, and date.
  • An easy-to-use table of contents outlines the front matter, books of the Bible, and resources at the end of the edition.
  • Welcome letter by Pastor Robert Morris: This conversational letter invites new and seasoned believers alike to be intentional in reading God’s Word and also explains some of the resources.

My Review Summary

The supplemental material provided throughout this Bible makes it highly approachable and helpful, especially for seekers and new believers. However, readers should understand that none of this information adds to God’s inspired Word, nor do I think that to be the intent of the contributors and publisher. While these commentaries and practical insights offer guidance, readers should still exercise discernment and be aware that believers may disagree on certain areas of practice.

For example, one of the lessons by Jimmy Evans asks the question, “Why should I pray in tongues?” This question assumes that readers should pray in tongues, which is a debatable topic among denominations. Personally, I believe tongues was a unique gift fitted for a unique time period (the church in the book of Acts). However, I can respect Jimmy Evans and others who believe it still has a place today. As with any interpretation of Scripture, readers should exercise discernment and prayerfully examine Scripture and its context.

A Giveaway for You

All that said, I’m glad to find this new resource and look forward to sharing it with others, starting with you! This week, you can enter to win a free copy of the Fresh Start Bible here on the blog. Here’s how to enter:

  1. Like this post and add a comment, explaining why you would enjoy this Bible or why you’d like to give it as a gift.
  2. Share any of my related posts on Facebook or Twitter and tag me in them. (You must tag me so I’m aware that you shared the post and can add you to the drawing.)
  3. Do more than one to be entered multiple times!

“No matter who you are or what you have done, Jesus wants to give you a fresh start.” Learn how you could win a copy of the Fresh Start Bible at KristenHogrefe.com.

As we close out this year and anticipate the next, may we cherish God’s Word, prayerfully study it, and seek to know our Maker and Savior more.

~ Kristen

I’m grateful to the Blog About Network for hosting this giveaway.

Author Chat with Ruth Buchanan on Unseasonable, Her Comedic Christmas Novella

I’m excited to welcome author Ruth Buchanan to the blog! Her latest release, her Christmas novella Unseasonable, launched yesterday, and today, she shares with us about the story.

Florida hurricanes in winter are rare but do happen. Did any real-life hurricane experience influence this story?

Ruth: In a roundabout way, yes. In 2016, I was just putting the finishing touches on my novel Unbreakable when Hurricane Matthew blew over my home in South Florida. I hadn’t evacuated, and I hunkered down behind my aluminum shutters praying that the power wouldn’t go out (or the roof blow off). Under such circumstances, it was easy to imagine how my central characters would respond in similar circumstances. Particularly Ann Cooper, who has such a physically demanding outdoor job. 

The sisterly affection/antagonism between Rachel and Ann feels so natural. Did any of your real-life relationships help shape these character dynamics?

Ruth: Absolutely. I have two sisters, Lisa and Bethany. The sisterly dynamic Ann and Rachel maintain is based in part on my relationships with them. The three of us shared one bedroom when we were growing up, and we’ve shared apartments as adults, though not all at the same time. Even with grown siblings who get along well, it’s amazing how easily the pettiness of childhood creeps into our adult interactions.   

I also liked that Unseasonable shows Christmas isn’t confined to any seasonal expectations. Why is this message so relevant to our culture today? 

Ruth: “Christmas” as an American cultural celebration has really gotten away from its roots, with its explosion of materialistic tradition divorced from spiritual practice. At its core, the Christian observation of Advent calls for meditating specifically on the miracle of Christ’s physical incarnation, a truth with implications reaching far beyond seasons or even our earth itself, impacting the whole of cosmic creation. 

The authentic humor in Unseasonable is a trademark of your writing. What role do humor and authenticity play in crafting a story that will resonate with readers?

Ruth: Thank you for saying that! Humor and authenticity are absolutely central to how I seek to express myself as a writer. 

In fiction, we want to walk away with a sense that we’ve experienced something that really could have happened alongside characters who really could exist. It’s vital that my characters act like real people–sometimes good, sometimes bad, and sometimes flat-out ridiculous. I love when readers tell me they laughed out loud during a story or that they would totally hang out with my characters. Or date them (ahem Moss). In my estimation, those are some of the highest compliments they could pay. 

Is there anything else you’d like to share with your readers about Unseasonable?

Ruth: I truly hope you enjoy it! My hope is that Florida residents will find their experiences mirrored in Unseasonable and that non-Florida residents will want to see what all the fuss is about.

Just don’t visit during hurricane season.


To learn more about Unseasonable, you can read my full review on Goodreads. I’m confident this short read will leave a smile on your face.

If you’re in the mood for a hilarious holiday read, check out Unseasonable by @RuthMBuchanan, available now on Amazon.


About Ruth:

Ruth Buchanan is a Christian freelance writer who holds degrees in ministry and theology. She writes fiction, non-fiction, plays, and sacred scripts. She’s an eager reader, an enthusiastic traveler, and the world’s most reluctant runner. Ruth loves Jesus, family, church, friends, and coffee. She lives and works in South Florida.

My Gift to You This Thanksgiving Month

November is the month all about giving, and I’m starting it by giving away a Kindle copy of my award-winning novel, The Revisionary. This novel is the first in a futuristic dystopian trilogy where characters rediscover American heritage and find hope for tomorrow. You can learn more on my books page.

Today kicks off Celebrate Lit’s “Thankful for Our Readers” multi-author giveaway. When you enter, you have the chance to win, not just my book, but 40 other books by Christian writers, plus a grand prize of a $100 Amazon gift card.

Click here to enter the giveaway, which runs through November 10.

Wishing you the best November yet!

Kristen

My gift to you this Thanksgiving month is a Kindle copy of my award-winning dystopian novel The Revisionary. Details to enter this giveaway at KristenHogrefe.com.

October Book Sale

There are so many reasons I love October. It’s the month James asked me to marry him. It’s also the month that introduced my best friend to the world. Happy birthday month, Devon!

To share my gratitude for this beautiful month, I’m offering my Wings of the Dawn trilogy on sale for $.99 each (Kindle versions). These contemporary suspense novels are for young adults and the young at heart, or anyone ready for an adventure.

Happy October! Enjoy my Wings of the Dawn young adult fiction trilogy for $.99 each on Kindle for a limited time.

Wishing you the happiest of Octobers!

~ Kristen