One of the first songs I learned, and many other children will learn, was Jesus Loves Me. My mom used to tell people that whenever I'd get in trouble, I'd start singing about how Jesus loved me and she'd be hard put to punish me. She said I sang it all the time, and my grandparents testified to that fact.
I was only a toddler at the time, but there's something profound about a child clinging to that very basic fact and belting it out when the situation became dire.
When I was in trouble: Jesus loved me.
When I was alone: Jesus loved me.
What I was playing: Jesus loved me.
Even when I was up to mischief, he still loved me.
I think I understand why Jesus told his disciples that unless they became like a child, they would never be able to enter the Kingdom of heaven. The older I get, the more I understand what he meant.
As we age, the world plagues us with lies about us, doubts about our abilities, fears of the unknown, and conflicting facts about right and wrong. As I've grown, I've found I tend to loose fact of that one simple truth: Yes, Jesus love me. YES, Jesus loves me. Yes!!! Jesus loves me because that's what the Bible tells me is so.
In my stories, I've gotten a bit of flack over how my characters dumbly leave the path time and again. I might not be able to defend myself on the reviewers sites, but I can here. Let me ask, just a general question to those of you who are reading this... Have you always stayed right on course? Have you never made bad decisions? Have you never doubted where you were going or sought for an easier way?
I know for a fact I can not answer yes to any of those questions. I've gone off course too many times to count. I've let fear rule my steps instead of God's word. And I've often sought the easier way rather than the true way. I forgot that basic, simple truth I knew when I was just a toddler: That Jesus loves me and he has me. The Bible is full of promises that God has my life in his hands when I hand it over to him.
So yeah, I'm going to write stupid characters who do humanly stupid things. I firmly believe that since God created us to be human, when he could have created us to be anything else, He honestly doesn't mind when when we act the part. Our humanness, our dumb decisions, our miserable mistakes and our troubled thoughts are what creates a basic need for Him. In all our humanness, he's able to pull us in and cover us in his arms of grace.
So when I write stories, I'm going to write characters who are flawed, broken... yet loved despite their flaws and brokenness. Because we live in a sinful world that hurls mud and casts stones that hurt and break. There is an enemy force that fears our potential. That potential that's brought about by God's love for us. If only we can grasps that basic truth with a child-like faith, then we can become a formidable force in this world.
If people get nothing else out of my stories, I pray and hope they'll get this one thing: God loves us! He loves us how we are, right now, with all our flaws and brokenness. He loves you. He loves me. Jesus died for us while we were yet sinners. (Romans 5:8) He didn't come here to condemn, but to save. (John 3:17) To walk with us once again, as he did in Eden, as we travel our paths in life. As we climb the seemingly insurmountable mountains. And even as we wander off the trail after something that seems good, but isn't.
Through all that, He loves us... if we'll let Him. If we'll only believe that. As I child I truly did believe that. Wholeheartedly. As an adult, I have to fight to keep that child-like faith that despite life's difficulties, despite my mistakes, that promise still remains true.
Whether you read my fantasy or romance stories, I hope that message comes through loud and clear. No matter what, you are loved. No matter what.
I'm leaving a couple of videos for you. Words that spoke to my heart and continue to speak and uplift my spirit. If you have time, take a listen.
Blessings and Peace and remember to be kind of one another.
Get Illuminated and Luminosity for .99¢ until this Sunday, October 16th.
Check out the White Road Chronicle page or blogsite for links to your favorite distributors.
Welcome to the kingdom of Alburnium
If the Wizard of Oz swept you away and Narnia enchanted you, then follow the White Road Chronicles for a new kind of adventure.
Illuminated: Book One- begins with a girl in search of the truth.
Alyra, mockingly known as Princess, was captured at an early age by the evil ruler, Darnel, and brought up in the dark land of Racah. Now, at the age of seventeen, she considers herself nothing special. She has no recollection of who she is or where she came from. Her hope of ever finding freedom dims.
Until the messenger arrives. Until he brings to light the meaning behind the medallion she's kept hidden. Until she accepts the blinding truth.
Now she flees for her life.
Alyra’s journey leads her down a narrow road with strange traveling companions. Together, they encounter a kingdom where nothing is what it first seems.
This is an updated revised version with a new cover
Illuminated is the first book of The White Road Chronicles followed by:
Luminosity Book Two
Emanate Book Three
Radiance Book Four
Ignited Book Five
Book six coming soon!
When I was a child, one of my favorite toys were the bags of plastic farm or zoo animals. Anyone remember playing with those? My cousin and I, when given the opportunity to pick a cheap toy on grocery shopping day would inevitable pick one of these bags. He usually liked the dinosaurs or army dudes.
Soon as we returned home, the two of us would race out the back door and into the yard where we'd find a shady spot and begin our fall into the imaginary worlds these figurines opened the doors to.
Looking back, I'm amazed at how the hours zoomed by. I'd lose all sense of where I was at, except for the urban sounds of cars passing by our house, or birds chattering in the tree above where we hankered over our little characters. Occasionally a roar or sounds of blasting bombs came from my cousin as he wrecked havoc on his little people.
From me, nothing. I usually worked quietly and methodically as I collected twigs and rocks to build my little animals shelters. Grass was yanked out of the dirt to form little roads or cover a hiding place for a fox family. As I worked, I decided where they fit into the scheme of things. Stories formed for each of them. Nothing I ever wrote down. This was before I started trying to capture the tales that were always swirling around in my head. But by time I finished building my little world, I would have come up with where the black bear had come from and why he was in that particular spot.
And about the time I was done creating that little world, it would be time to go in for supper. My cousin would have usually already grown bored with his army men who'd been blown all over the yard and hung from the lower branches of the tree. I, on the other hand, would collect my little figures, return them to the bag and be okay with it.
Why? Because creating the world was what I really found the most fun.
I'm not so different even today.
I sometimes think that the reason I love not only writing series, as well as reading them, is I love falling into a new world. I still enjoy building worlds, such as the world of Alburnium. (Pictured above) Everyone has a place, and each place has it's own history. It's own story. I might not write it down, but that information is floating around in my subconscious.
Many Rivers was established by a small band of Kingdom people who wanted to provide a place of refuge for those traveling along the White Path. There's a town that over looks a valley of farms and rivers and small ponds. It's a safe place, a place of refreshing, a place of healing if you need Marya's Healer services. I can picture in my mind the grand Meeting Hall with it's white stone walls and sprawling wings where people come to trade goods, hear stories about King Shaydon, or read about the world in the library.
Over the past nine years, since the idea for Illuminated first hit me, I've enjoyed quietly and methodically creating the world of Alburnium. At first, I mapped it out as I followed Alyra along on her first journey. My early maps were penciled in sketches, kind of like the one pictured below of a new world in the making. (More on that in a minute).
I'm sure every writer goes about building their worlds differently. I read that J.R. Tolkien took years to develop his, all the way down to creating a new language. I have nothing on him. But I find it kind of funny, as I look back on my childhood, that this little thing has always been with me. I wonder, when we watch our own kids play, if somehow we might get a glimpse of how they might one day fit into this big wide world. Or maybe, if we are wondering where we fit in, that if we look back, perhaps there might be little clues in the games we played while growing up.
As I said earlier, I'm in the process of creating a new world. Not a fantasy one as in the White Road books. This little world is contemporary and surrounded by real places. I visited them earlier this summer when we took a trip up to Michigan. With each lakeside town we stopped at, another piece of my own little pretend world fell into place.
Below, you can see my early sketching of Madison Creek's layout. Each number represents a business or shop owned by a particular person with a story behind them. Mallory's diner, owned by Mallory Carson, a single girl, a little wild but a hard worker. Flirty, compassionate and tough. Across the street is Beaty's Automotive, owned by the brothers Bob and Bill. Bill is quirky and kind of funny. He's also single as is his more serious, business minded older brother Bob who just had a major break-up with his long time girlfriend.
Stories: People, Places. Communities. Worlds. I think I know why I find it all so intriguing....
,In a novella story I was just working on for a Christmas collection, one of my characters got up and said something that really struck home with me. She said that it takes all of us to build a community and to make it strong.
And I think, deep down, that's why I love the world building so much. Deep down, there's a yearning to belong, to be part of something bigger and greater than myself. And I think this is something, a thread if you will, that tends to run through all my stories. That joining together for the common good, casting aside your differences and personal needs and working together to build something substantial in this world. And in turn, finding where you belong and where you are most effective in this life.
There's so many forces trying to divide us. Don't you think?
I love my church. It's probably one of the greatest basis for my belief that there's safety in numbers. You know? It's not the teaching. Most I've heard before or can get by reading my Bible. No, it's more than that. It's the community of a variety of personalities, and preferences, all banding together to build a sanctuary for people to find shelter, to find provision, to find healing from the big bad world. The more we band together for the common good, for building up the Kingdom of God, here on earth, the stronger we become.
That's why lies behind all those books in the White Road Chronicles, the friends going out and telling others about King Shaydon's plan to defeat the cruel fake King Darnel.
That's why I see building up in my Madison Creek stories... a town on the brink of demise begins to band together and rebuild. And they do it by pulling together and helping each other out.
My heart sings when I think of seeing this play out in reality. I see it in my church. I see it other places, too. But I want to see more. And it starts with kindness. If you want to build a better world, start with simple kindness.
One small act at a time. None of us can save the world. We're not meant to. But we can each do little things to make it a better place.
In my sketch above, there's still a lot of blank area. I intend to fill it in with each story I write in Madison Creek. I love world building. I love the idea that we can take something broken, on the verge of death, and revive it. And we can. We can do that... if we take a notion.
Don't you think?
Before I go, I want to mention one more thing, and that's a sale that's going on this week. If you've not ventured into the world of Alburnium, here's your chance to try out the first two books for only $2. Oh, and if you are a fantasy lover, be sure to check out the Virtual FantasyCon week going on. Lot's of fun stuff going on there.
Blessings and Peace
Be kind to each other.
Do you love, love, love fantasy book? Boy, have I got an event you don't want to miss. And you don't even have to get out of pj's if you don't want to. Yippie all around!!
Click the picture above to stop in at the Reader's Corner and see what's going on. Here's a few more details.
Welcome to the Reader's Corner event page for Virtual FantasyCon 2016. This page is for Fantasy Readers to gather and chat with each other and the participants of Virtual FantasyCon 2016. It is not for promotion, perse, but there will be a thread with links to interviews done by some of the authors and showcased on the Virtual FantasyCon 2016 website.
Keep an eye peeled to this event page, as we will be having games, and such, along with information leading up to the kickoff of the Virtual FantasyCon 2016 event, and info on this year's newest thing, Virtual FantasyCon awards.
So sit back, kick up your feet, and rest a spell, while enjoying all things Fantasy!
Join me and a load of other authors on Sunday (any time, I'll be popping in and out to answer questions and stuff) Just follow this link to see the line up and click the you're GOING button.
Do try to stop in if you have some free time. I'll be participating this Sunday and next (in the YA Fantasy group). I appreciate your support and this will be a chance to maybe win a free copy of the revised Illuminated and/or Luminosity, or maybe a free print version of The Sentinel Archives for your collection.
Looking forward to it.
Blessings and Peace: And don't forget to be KIND to each other.
Every once in a while I have the privilege to guest posts at someone's blog. I was contacted by the wonderful readers of Literary Cafe who told me they've been enjoying my White Road Chronicles series and wondered if I'd be interested in an interview. Of course I was thrilled with the offer.
Please stop in and take a look around. Leave a comment and ask questions you might have that I've not been able to answer yet.
Blessings and Peace to you!
I love spring! Well, not the allergies so much, but the green, the flowers, the rain and new growth. Love it, love it!!
Here's what I have going on this month!
First off, starting tomorrow, Ignited - Book Five of the White Road Chronicles is going on sale for only $1.99! Between April 13-16th. Then, on the 17th and 18th, the price moves up to $2.99 before finally going back to the original price of $3.99 Sunday night.
I'm so pleased to announce that Ignited is live on Amazon and will soon be available in print.
Not only do you get the fifth installment of The White Road Chronicles, but I've included a bonus story, as well. That's right, you can finally learn what really happened between Stitch and Tarek in Denovo when you read Deceived: A White Road Tale novella #4.
I'm excited about this newest release and eagerly wait to hear what you think. There is one more book that will end the series. My hope is to have that one out before the end of this year. Look for an October release.
In other White Road news, I still plan to update Illuminated and replace the covers on the past books to match this one. I'm also looking into having Illuminated (and the others) made into audio books.
Keep an eye out for The White Road Tales to eventually be combined into a print version for those of you who love to hold a real book, instead of reading digitally.
Don't forget to check The White Road Chronicles website for updates, articles and news about future releases.
I'm so excited to share with you the cover of my next book in the White Road Chronicle series.
The first chapter, too.
The manuscripts are back from my editors and I'm in the process of cleaning up whatever last boo-boos they've found. So, I can confidently say you all should be looking for Ignited's release before the end of February.
Until then, here's a sneak peek.
Look for the announcement newsletter when Ignited goes live. It'll be soon. I'm as eager to get this story to you as you are to get it. Trust me. =)
Want to read Chapter One? Click Here...
Jackie Castle is an author, artist and dreamer. She lives in Texas with her husband, two grown children and her dog, Banjo. She looks for the extraordinary in the ordinary in everything she experiences.
J.R. Castle Fantasy Newsletter
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