Students are back in school, and fall is just around the corner. What better time to restock the reading list with books that both students and grown-ups will enjoy?
I’m excited to participate in another of Celebrate Lit’s multi-author giveaways. This huge giveaway includes a chance to win a $100 Amazon gift card and over 40+ books, including a Kindle copy ofThe Reactionary, my latest release.
To enter, click the image below.
The giveaway event is going on now through September 22 .
Who’s my favorite author, and if I could write about anyone, who would it be? Thanks to Betty Thomason Owens and the Inspired Prompt crew for inviting me to share in this interview!
Welcome back to 3 Questions Wednesday, Kristen Hogrefe! This is an exciting and very busy week for Kristen, as her third book in The Rogues Trilogy released yesterday! Congratulations, Kristen. Let’s see how she answers our three questions […]
Coming to the end of a trilogy is a little like crossing the finish line of a half marathon. The only reason I felt amazing at that time is that I’d prepared and trained with friends. Others cheered me on, even though they may have secretly thought I was crazy.
This Tuesday, The Reactionary publishes, and I want to start the week with gratitude by saying thank-you to everyone who made crossing this finish line not only possible, but truly unforgettable. My family has been my constant support, and some new faces have joined those ranks throughout this journey, including my sister-in-law Brooke.
I also want to say a special thanks to my fiancé, James Parnell, for wanting to join this bandwagon and encouraging my writing.
Members of my writing family include fellow author Ashley Jones, my Word Weavers group, members of my book tribe (You know who you are!), and more recently, my colleague Maria Constantine whose family roots go back to Italy. At one point, I mentioned to her that my heroine travels to Italy in this final book and that in my dreams, I’d get to visit one day.
That’s when she said, “You have to go! Want to come with me?” As a result, she and I planned a spontaneous trip to some of the settings in this novel, and in a month’s time, I found myself walking the streets of Orvieto and then mapping out Portia’s entrance to the Port of Civitavecchia from just outside Fort Michelangelo. I can’t thank Maria enough for helping make this dream a reality!
In another sense, Kelli Sorg (Make It Snappy) traveled with me this whole journey as well. She made brainstorming and creating the final cover perhaps the most enjoyable design session of all time.
The leadership and talent at Write Integrity Press also deserve my heartfelt gratitude. My editor Marji Laine championed this book and made the production process as seamless as possible. I’m also grateful to my primary editor Brittany Clubine who grasped the vision of Portia’s story from the start and believed in it.
At the end of my half marathon, people asked me, “So, what’s next?” I told them, “I’ll keep running!” Those runs might be in my neighborhood, for my church’s Hope 5K, another half marathon some day … who knows! The same is true of my writing. Lord willing, I’ll keep composing the stories He gives me and then watch where He takes them.
The Reactionary, the final book in The Rogues trilogy, releases in 4 days! As I anticipate launch day and entrusting the last part of Portia’s story to you, I want to share some more snippets from my own journey to the Italian settings she encounters.
Portia’s mission to secure communications with a possible international ally takes her to Orvieto, a cliff-top Italian city with more charm and beauty than one visit can capture. My friend Maria and I decided we could live in our Air B&B indefinitely and never soak in everything this city has to offer. However, because I didn’t want my novel to be the length of War and Peace, I chose to highlight some of the city’s main attractions and tie them into the plot.
The Orvieto 4Ever celebration is the reason I chose this setting for my story in the first place. It lauds the American ideals of independence and liberty on an international level, not just a national one. Moreover, it recognizes the Italian influence on the United States, including the contribution of Italian Phillip Mazzei, a friend and correspondent of Thomas Jefferson. Mazzei actually influenced some of the wording of our Declaration of Independence.
I so much enjoyed weaving this historic information into my fictional dystopian tale of a futuristic world trying to recapture the ideal of liberty for all. Though my Rogues (rebel forces) are fiercely independent and even proud to a fault, they must realize that the fight isn’t just theirs. The world, not just the ASU, needs to overthrow the Rosh League and its minions who are determined to uproot the last strongholds of freedom.
Duomo di Orvieto
The city’s centerpiece is a breathtaking cathedral that serves as the backdrop for the Orvieto 4Ever celebration. Getting to visit this beautiful cathedral in person was one of my most-anticipated moments of the trip! The outside itself is stunning and even more imposing in person than in pictures.
Purchasing our ticket to go inside was a must. The massive, pillared space has a sacred, quiet mood that invites reflection and reverence. I found a seat, closed my eyes, and envisioned how Portia would have felt inside this space while waiting for … Well, I’m not going to spoil the story.
The cathedral was everything I imagined and more. I hope as you read The Reactionary and Portia’s encounter with it that you can glimpse the beauty and my appreciation for the Duomo di Orvieto.
What’s not to love about a city that has an underground cave system? During our last full day in Orvieto, I squeezed in a tour of the underground cave network. I didn’t realize almost every house has a cave! (It made me want to take the floor-length mirror off the wall in our Air B&B to see if there was a secret passageway behind it, but Maria wisely advised against this.)
Although the caves have served different purposes, the most common was storing livestock, drinking water, and food. They also served as bomb shelters or hiding places during war times.
One interesting feature of these caves are hundreds of little holes in the wall. What do you think these were used to store? Join my friends and me for The Reactionary Launch Party on February 19 on Facebook to find out!
I hope you’ve enjoyed getting to explore a little of Orvieto with me, and I look forward to sharing more of my Italian adventure with you during the virtual launch party next week.
A few weeks back, I had a little heart-to-heart with you about closed doors and open doors in my life. As we count down to book release day for The Reactionary, it seems only fitting to have a little fun with doors today!
When I traveled to Italy to do book research, one of my favorite places to visit was Civita di Bagnoregio. Aside from the pizza there, which was amazing, I also fell in love with all the architecture, namely, doors. In fact, my friend Maria snapped my back cover author picture in front of a vine-framed door I wouldn’t stop raving about.
Here are a few more of the imagination-inspiring doors we encountered, and all the photo credits go to Maria. (For more of her Italian stories and photos, visit her awesome website.)
In The Reactionary, Portia doesn’t have a chance to explore this town like I did, but she does get to witness the city’s morning beauty from a distance. Here’s an excerpt from her point-of-view, inspired by my own:
The general and guard talk in hushed tones but at a rapid-fire pace. I turn away from them to watch the golden sun pierce through low-lying clouds. The hazy sky turns shades of purple and peach, forming the backdrop canvas to the sprawling landscape before us. It looks like a child scrawled a marker across the page, and nothing was left even, least of all that ragged remnant of a city.
How had I not seen it sooner? But I had been too intent on just taking my next step and learning to trust my stiff legs again.
I want to tell those two to stop talking. Silence seems more fitting for the tragic beauty of this dying place. Buildings jut out along the edges and top of an eroded mountain, now bathed in the dawn’s warm glow.
Join in the Fun!
I’m so glad you can share in my real life and fictional adventures! You’re invited to join my book launch party on release day, February 19, from 7-8:30 pm EST. It’s a virtual party on Facebook, so you can join right from your home! Even if you can’t stay the whole time, please pop in and say hello. We’ll have Italy trivia, book trivia, and maybe even talk about a little fictional and real-life romance … You won’t want to miss it. Click here to join.
One day, I would love to return to Italy to explore even more places (and doors), but for now, I’m content to enjoy my current setting. I hope you are too. Wherever we are, may we appreciate what we have while welcoming the possibilities God opens.