My 2019 Christmas Letter to You

Ah, my friends, how this year has flown! It has been perhaps the best year of my life, with so many happy moments. Below are some of the highlights and a personal reflection on celebrating what God has done.

January

James and I went on our class ski trip to Beech Mountain for the second year in a row. Last year, we had been dating, and this year, we were engaged. We were also thrilled to celebrate as two of our friends became engaged on the trip!

February

The final book in my Rogues trilogy, The Reactionary, released. This book holds a special place in my heart, because in 2018, my friend Maria and I traveled to Italy to visit some of the settings.

Also special to February was the second annual Galentine’s Day party held at my place. I love that each year, the group keeps growing. Although we should celebrate our friends all year, having a special day set apart to do just that is tradition I plan to continue.

March

After all those years of waiting and prayer, James and I said “I do” at beautiful Harborside Chapel in Safety Harbor. We could not be more grateful for this practically perfect day and the wonderful family and friends who celebrated with us. You can read about our special day in the post “Wedding Day Joy.”

April

Our honeymoon in St. Lucia was both breathtaking and quite the adventure! You can read about one of our misadventures and a real-life application in the post, “Flat Tire in a Foreign Country …”

May

James and I traveled to Connersville where I spoke at the Women’s Ministry Event for Baptist Temple. It was such a privilege to share with these ladies! We also made a side trip to Chicago so James could introduce me to the Windy City and its deep dish pizza. Yum!

July

Getting to introduce James to one of my favorite childhood places, a family cabin in New Hampshire, was a dream come true! Even better was that my brother and his wife were able to join us on this couples’ trip.

August

James taught me how to lobster, and what an adventure that was! Before this trip, I hadn’t heard of a tickle stick, let alone imagined I’d be using one to help catch lobsters. You can read about my experiences and a life analogy in this post.

October

We traveled to Beech Mountain with friends for our second annual reunion trip! Last year, James proposed here, and no matter how many times we visit, there is always something new to explore and appreciate about this beautiful part of God’s country.

November

James and I consider ourselves abundantly blessed to call so many incredible people our friends. We found some deals on flights and were able to visit friends in New York, Texas, and Colorado. (My friend Maria introduced me to Niagara Falls, which was stunning!)

Christmastime

Maybe your year has had more challenges than cheerful moments. We all have years like that. Even so, Christmas is a time to celebrate what God has done, even with the challenges that come our way. (For example, not pictured were my many falls while skiing, the sinus infection I got on our honeymoon, or the ordeal we experienced in selling a home.)

May I encourage you that even though you may only see the highlights of other people’s lives, all of us are waiting on outstanding prayers to be answered and wondering how God might see fit to do that.

Here’s a personal example. James and I continue to wait on God for an open door regarding a new home. We truly believe this next home will be a way for us to minister and bless others, and so it’s easy to become impatient after months of waiting. However, in the waiting, we are grateful for the home we have and how God can use us right where we are.

Whether you’re heading into this Christmas season with a happy or heavy heart, remember that God loves you and has a perfect plan for your life. Sometimes, that plan is messy or unexpected. That has certainly been the case many times in my life. But as His children, we can have the confidence that His plan for our lives involves hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).

Wishing you a blessed Christmas and New Year!

~ Kristen

I’ll be taking a break on the blog until next year. See you then, Lord willing!

Penguin & Moose, a Story the Whole Family Will Enjoy!

This adorable new release by Hannah Hall is the first children’s book I’ve shared about on the blog, but it fits right in with my theme of thinking truthfully and living daringly. This sweet story will not only entertain young readers but also drive home a message readers of all ages need to remember.

We all have dreams, right? We all want to soar in one way or another, and Penguin is no different.

After all, other birds can fly. Why can’t he?

Penguin is determined to remedy this situation and enlists the help of his friend Moose. Together, they try a series of comedic attempts to help Penguin fly.

[Spoiler: They don’t work.]

Discouraged, Penguin trudges home and talks to his dad about his day. His dad offers a fresh perspective on the situation. Without giving away the ending, I’ll just say that Penguin realizes he has something better than the ability to fly.

I love how Hannah Hall incorporates Scripture and a spiritual truth into this engaging children’s story.

Plus, the illustrations are imaginative and bright. Their whimsical nature gives the pages a lighthearted feel that fits Penguin and Moose’s creative attempts to solve Penguin’s problem.

Bottom line: I can’t wait to read this story to my nieces and nephews. Even though this story releases at Christmastime, making it a perfect gift, its message is timeless for any season of the year.

Happy reading!

~ Kristen

Welcome to Tales of the Lonely Sun!

Calling teen readers and writers! Here’s a new website worth visiting. These four talented teen writers have joined forces to start a community just for you.

Tales of the Lonely Sun

Hello and welcome!

Tales of the Lonely Sun is a blog for writers and readers who want to celebrate the light that literature can spread rather than the darkness that is so prevalent in today’s world. It is run by Carlye Krul, Merie Shen, Jorja Ayres, and Mya Gray. We are all teenagers, followers of Jesus, avid readers, and fiction writers. You can expect posts about writing and reading as well as author interviews/guest posts twice a week.

To help you get to know us better, we put together this ten-question Q&A:

Q&A About Us

What is your name and 5 words that describe you?

Jorja: My name is Jorja Ayres (pronounced Georgia Airs) and 5 words that describe me are: talkative, perfectionist, unique, tall and a total fangirl.

Carlye: My name is Carlye Krul. I would probably describe myself as thoughtful, a daydreamer, patient, passionate, and organized.

Mya: My…

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Young Adult Fiction’s Universal Appeal

I’m honored to talk about young adult fiction on the Inspired Prompt blog today. Hope you enjoy this re-post! Leave a comment and let me know what you think: Why does young adult fiction holds such a universal appeal?

Inspired Prompt

by Kristen Hogrefe

There’s something irresistible about a young adult on a mission, whether it be saving the world, conquering a coming-of-age crisis, or embarking on a journey of discovery. As I’ve transitioned from the young adult to adult age bracket, my interest in this genre has only increased, and I don’t think I’m alone. Why? There are a few trademarks qualities of the young adult fiction genre that contribute to its universal appeal.

#1: We all love an underdog.

Have you ever read a young adult novel where the teenage hero or heroine is on top of the world? Even if page one opens with that scenario, you can expect that moment to get snatched away, and the character to spend the rest of the story fighting to restore or reclaim what’s rightfully his.

In Nadine Brandes’s Fawkes, the story opens on the eve of Thomas’s color ceremony…

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The Revolutionary Liberate The Captives Rogues, Book II, by Kristen Hogrefe After being sentenced to a labor camp in Rogues Book I, The Revisionary, Portia Abernathy’s story continues three months later, in a coal mine. [You can read my review of The Revisionary here] The Revolutionary—I was hooked by the opening paragraph. The rest of […]

via The Revolutionary – A Book Review — Betty Thomason Owens

The Revisionary Wins Selah Award

My heart nearly beat out of my chest as Eva Marie Everson, the Blue Ridge Conference Awards Director, called my name. Not just for finaling in two awards (an honor in itself) but for winning them both.

Last week, The Revisionary won one of Christian Fiction’s most notable awards, the Selah,  in its category of Speculative Fiction. It also received the Directors’ Choice Award for Young Adult Fiction.

At the Awards Ceremony with Conference Directors Edie Melson (left) and DiAnn Mills (right)

One of the best parts was celebrating with friends who also received awards. I remember meeting Lindsey Brackett at the Florida Christian Writer’s Conference a few years ago when we were just talking about our book projects, and now, she won three awards for her debut novel Still Waters. Go, Lindsey, and congrats to all the finalists and winners!

Pictured with Multi-Selah Winner Lindsey Brackett (left) and Awards Director Eva Marie Everson (center)

I want to say a big thank-you to everyone who helped make this moment possible, including my family and supportive friends, my editor Marji Laine, and mostly my Savior Jesus Christ who entrusted me with a writer’s calling. Writing can be lonely, thankless work at times, but most callings can be. Praise God for the endurance to keep going, regardless if the podium is in sight or not.

The Revisionary and its sequel The Revolutionary are available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats.

~ Kristen

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Honor to Whom Honor is Due

This Memorial Day, I think back to my visit to Arlington National Cemetery. Lined with row after row of headstones, those grounds demand respect. People don’t talk loudly but whisper in hushed tones. During the changing of the guard ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns, visitors stand and silently watch the meticulous inspection of the new guard and the precision of those on duty.

Today, many of us will enjoy a day off from work, time spent with family, and good food. I’m truly thankful for all these things, but I might not be able to enjoy them but for the sacrifice of so many men and women.

And so, we say thank you to our soldiers, past and present. Your service and sacrifice help make our freedoms possible.

~ Kristen

Arlington National Cemetery

Changing of the Guard, Tomb of the Unknowns

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Honor to Whom Honor: A Memorial Day Thank You – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)