Category Archives: Personal

Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt Stop #21

Welcome to the Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt! If you’ve just discovered the hunt, be sure to start at Stop #1, and collect the clues through all the stops, in order, so you can enter to win one of our top 5 grand prizes!

• The hunt BEGINS on 3/12 at noon MST with Stop #1 at LisaTawnBergren.com

• Hunt through our loop using Chrome or Firefox as your browser (not Explorer).

• There is NO RUSH to complete the hunt—you have all weekend (until Sunday, 3/15 at midnight MST)! So take your time, reading the unique posts along the way; our hope is that you discover new authors/new books and learn new things about them.

• Submit your entry for the grand prizes by collecting the CLUE on each author’s scavenger hunt post and submitting your answer in the Rafflecopter form at the final stop, back on Lisa’s site. Many authors are offering additional prizes along the way!

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My husband and me goofing off 🙂

Thanks for stopping by! My name is Morgan L. Busse and I write Christian fantasy and Victorian fantasy (also known as steampunk). I love to tell stories asking the question, “what if?” What if we could see the heart of people like God sees them? What if we had the ability to enter the dreams of other people? What if we could feel our souls dying within us? These are deep questions I ask set in fantasy or victorian worlds with Christian underpinnings. My latest release is Cry of the Raven, the third book in the Ravenwood Saga:

Wife. Warrior. Lady of Two Worlds.

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?

I love the tagline above: Wife. Warrior. This series is a story about a married couple and how together they are stronger than they are alone.

Damien Quote

This is one of my favorite quotes from Cry of the Raven. A quick recap of the series, after choosing to spare Damien’s life, Selene is on the run for her own life. In order to save her and bring her into his kingdom, Damien offers her marriage. It is one of convenience (or more, salvation), but as the story progresses, both Damien and Selene learn what love is and how to love each other.

I always wanted to write a story with a marriage between the main characters. But I never thought that my own marriage would come into play in the books, or that some of the key scenes would reflect my own life. For an example, let me share with you the story behind the quote above.

I’m a pastor’s wife. Our journey and the various ministries God has taken us through have not been easy. Part of that journey has been multiple moves. At this point I’ve lived in eight different states and for the last ten years we’ve moved into a different house every year (sometimes due to moving to a new city, sometimes because our landlord decided to sell the house we were renting). We also have four kids, two dogs, and a cat, so continually uprooting has always been hard (not to mention packing, cleaning, moving, unpacking, finding a new grocery store, finding new doctors, and making new friends). But I’ve known this is the path God has laid out for my husband and our family, so I’ve always rolled up my sleeves and followed.

Until two years ago.

We had just bought a house (first one after losing our other house ten years ago), and I was so excited to settle down. I hung up pictures (I don’t know when’s the last time I did that), I planted flowers, and I started making long-term plans. After all, we just bought a house, we weren’t really going to move again, right?

Then while walking our dogs one day, my husband shared that it looked like we might be moving again.

I was in shock. For three days I couldn’t even think. Mind you, I had just finished unpacking and was in the current joy of feeling like we were finally going to stay in one place and raise our family.

Shock turned to anger, then grief, then denial. Every hurt I had ever experienced in ministry came bubbling to the surface, every fear, every tear I had ever cried. And I was tired. So tired. During those following days, the very thought of packing again, and now having to sell a house to boot, made me feel physically ill. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t do it again. During those darker moments, I thought about just staying put and letting my husband move on without me. I was done. I couldn’t do it anymore. But I also knew that such thoughts would limit me. The more I prayed and thought about it, the more I knew God was moving us again.

Finally, after a day of sobbing, with everything inside of me spilling out, I apologized to my husband. I told him I couldn’t seem to stop all the hurt and fear from coming out. Instead of reprimanding me or just telling me it was okay, this is what he told me:

I’m a rock, and you can crash against me as much as you need to. I won’t move, I won’t leave you. I’ll be here for you because I love you.

I needed to hear that. Badly. I needed to know that no matter what, with all the crying and words coming out of me, they were not going to drive my husband away. I was hurricane, and instead of sending him running for cover, he stood and held me, and understood the storm would pass. He knew that at this moment I needed a rock that wouldn’t move, no matter what I said.

Slowly, as the weeks went by, and as I prayed on my knees every day, God prepared me for our next journey. I got up and I prepared to move our family again. I stayed back and sold our house. And I’m so glad that I didn’t give in to myself and stay behind because I love where we are at now. But I couldn’t have done it if my husband hadn’t told me those words. He was an example of God to me. He understood my pain and fear, and held steadfast to our love, giving me the space to work through what I was feeling.

In Cry of the Raven, Selene has her own crisis where she isn’t sure if she can keep on going. And it causes her to fight with Damien. But then he shares those same words with her, that he won’t leave her. Words that she needs to hear. And later on in the book, when he can’t keep on going, she is able to be his strength. Because that’s what marriage is about. Being there for each other. Helping each other. Being strong when the other is weak, and vice versa. That together you can face so much more than you could alone.

This is what I wanted to share through my story: a picture of marriage. I just never thought I’d quote my husband in my book 🙂

To find out more about The Ravenwood Saga or purchase the books, click here. If you want to be entered for the drawing of one of these books (winner’s choice), leave a comment below (US residents only)!

Here’s the Stop #21 Basics:

Clue to Write Down: other

Next up is Beth Vogt with Stop #22: https://bethvogt.com/fun-2/christian-fiction-scavenger-hunt-stop-22/

How Mara Jade Could Have Saved Star Wars

So I’ve been a fan of Star Wars since I first saw New Hope (I wasn’t even born when it came out, but I was still a fan 😉). In seminary, as a poor student family with nothing but the nearby library for fun, my husband and I discovered these things called Star Wars books 🤩. We started with Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn and devoured every Star Wars book in that library. Then we started hunting for more (including comics).

We were the couple that when a new book was announced, we were the first to pre-order, then read each book together and discuss it in length. We journeyed with Luke, Leia, and Han through creating a New Republic, setting up a new Jedi Academy, navigating new and old villains, marriage, and children.

We found new characters to love (and hate): Mara Jade, Thrawn, Talon Karrde, and more.

I even wrote a blog post a couple years ago about how Luke and Mara were my favorite fictional married couple because they were awesome apart, but together they were unstoppable (and I wanted to write a couple like that which eventually lead to my Ravenwood series).

So yes, I was a Star Wars fan. Not a toxic one (please don’t lump me with that group), but one who dearly loved that world (I even read fanfiction and played all the video games).

So when the movies started coming out, I was soooo excited. I was going to get to see my favorite characters on the screen 🥰.

Except all my favorite books were labeled legend. Disney was going to go in a new direction.

Oh. Okay. But this is Star Wars! Still Awesome! 😎

And I (for the most part) enjoyed TFA, but was kinda sad that I didn’t get to see a reunion between the big 3, and wasn’t sure what to think of Han’s death.

As you can guess, I didn’t really like TLJ. It didn’t feel like Star Wars to me. Actually, I’ve been so disappointed that I’ve been on the fence about seeing the last one (only one other show made me feel like this that for years I couldn’t talk about it, Dan knows which one that is).

Then Dan and I started talking about what could have made the movies better and he said Mara Jade. And it all clicked together.

Mara Jade could have saved Star Wars. You could still have the story we have right now and Mara Jade would have redeemed it.

She’s a strong female character. She has a past with the Emperor (when Snokes is taken out, Mara could have said I sense something stronger here. Like my old master). She could have been with Luke, trying to pull her husband out of his depression and exile and worked with Rey to help him. She could have been Rey’s mentor and lamented over her nephew’s turn to the dark side because she was once that person. She could have been the mentor who ultimately dies to launch her student into her destiny.

As a storyteller, I began to see what an incredible story that could have been. There is so much Mara could have done with the current story line that would have tied all the loose plot strings together.

Mara Jade could have saved Star Wars.

There is a part of me that wishes that’s the movie out right now. The conclusion to an epic story. Thinking about that makes my heart beat faster. Instead, I’m not sure what I’m going to see or if I’m going to see it.

Please don’t mistake me, I’m not toxic. Just a fan who misses what might have been.

 

Books for Vida!

Books for Vida.png

Hello friends! Usually I do my annual book sale in December to raise a little bit of money for my anniversary, but this year is different. Vida came into my life three days ago, starved, deaf, and fighting for life. As an animal lover, I took her in and have been impressed with her recovery to health! However, she does have hyperthyroidism, a condition that will increase without medicine.

As I brainstormed on what to do, I realized I could ask all of you to help me out, and get some signed books to boot (to keep or to giveaway as Christmas presents!).

I’m selling a set of Mark of the Raven (winner of the 2019 Carol and INSPY award for speculative fiction) and Flight of the Raven, signed, for $25 (this price also includes shipping, US only).

If you are interested, please email me at morganlbusse @ live .com and let me know how many sets you want, if you want them signed to someone specific, and where to mail them.

Thank you!!!

A Crisis in Writing

Why do IEvery time I receive a one-star review, it presents me with a momentary conflict of why do I write? The latest one star commented on how the reader picked up the book because it was steampunk, enjoyed Tainted, even with the bits about God and religion, then it all went down hill with Awakened. There was too much God and preaching going on to the point where this reader couldn’t finish the book and decided to give it a 1 star.

After reading the review, I started asking myself who am I writing for? Should I have toned down Awakened, even though the very premise was about Kat realizing in the end she couldn’t heal herself, and even science couldn’t heal the condition of her soul? Should I have just kept God out and had science heal her?

Should I become a secular writer and just write really good books? I would gain more readership (and probably higher royalties).

But every time I face this conflict, I can’t shake the fact that not only do I feel called to write Christian fiction (not just be a Christian and write stories, but write God and everything about Him into my books), I want to write these kinds of stories. I love writing books about grace, about finding hope, about miracles when all seems lost. This is what burns inside my heart, what gets me excited to sit down and write every day.

I am thankful for these reviews because they make me pause and reevaluate why I’m doing what I’m doing. And every time I come back to who I am personally as a writer and remind me I’m not going to please everyone. For me, I need to write about the passions of my heart and soul. This brings me more satisfaction that a large readership, 1k 5-star reviews, and large royalty checks.

This is who I am. So these are the books I will continue to write. The stories of my heart.

What Does it Mean to Really Forgive Someone?

What does it mean to really forgive someone_My husband Dan shared a great message about forgiveness this past Sunday. We know we are to forgive those who have wounded us (see my post on Bullet Wounds), but sometimes the “how” eludes us. I thought I would share what I’ve been going through over the last week to show my own journey into forgiveness.

I won’t go into the details, but a person in our lives has hurt us deeply, so much that when we received the letter from her lawyer, I was in shock and very angry. It is one thing to know there is evil in the world, but sometimes I want to believe there is still integrity and fairness in people since that is how I operate. When you come face to face with reality, it’s a hard blow.

Over the next couple of days, I could hardly breathe. It was like there was such a heaviness sitting on my chest, such a gaping hole, that I could hardly function. Every time I thought of the situation, I wanted to fight back. And we could, our case is much stronger than hers.

But then God reminded me of the parable of the servant who was forgiven a debt of millions of dollars, but then that servant turned around and went after another servant who owed him a measly amount. God showed me with everything He’s forgiven me, $1,400 isn’t much to forgive. I couldn’t shake that image from my mind.

Last night, I woke up feeling wounded, hurt, and angry again. Does that mean I hadn’t forgiven her? I don’t believe so. Real wounds take time. You can forgive, but there is still hurt as the wound heals. You know what you do with the hurt? You take it to God. Every minute. Every hour.

I prayed over and over again last night, even telling God I’m not strong enough to forgive such hurtfulness, that I needed His strength to do it. It took almost two hours of wrestling and crying. There were moments when I wondered if I was being weak since we were choosing not to fight. But then God reminded me the weapons she was using: intimidation and lawyers, were not the weapons for me to use. He also showed me another battle going on: the one for her soul. She is trapped by greed and the things of this world. So instead of hating her, I needed to pray for her.

I’m still hurting this morning. And I probably will hurt for a while. As someone who is a fair and just person, to experience such injustice committed toward my family is painful. But as Easter approaches, I remember the one I follow. At the end, Jesus said, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” If Jesus could forgive those who committed such atrocities toward Him, then I can forgive the hurt committed toward me.

Not alone, but with His help.

 

 

Looking Forward to 2018

2018newyearA year ago I was moving halfway across the country, gave away half of my possessions so I could make the move, wasn’t sure if Awakened would be released for my readers, fighting one of the worst colds ever, and felt over all pretty bleak about the upcoming year. But one thing I did not lose sight of: God was still with me, and because of that, I could face 2017.

Fast forward: we are now looking for a house (which if you’ve known me for a while you know is a huge deal since we’ve moved every year since 2011). God replaced everything I gave away to move here to the Midwest. My health is in a great place. Tainted won the Realm Award for Horror/Paranormal/Steampunk. And Awakened released in November to the great joy of all of you readers 🙂
Tainted with Award
So what does 2018 hold for me?

A new book series. The Ravenwood Saga, my next fantasy series, was picked up by Bethany House. Mark of the Raven, the first book, is slated to be released Fall of 2018. I’ve already seen one of the possible covers for this new book and can I say WOW! I can’t wait to share the official cover with all of you 🙂 (not to mention the story).

I will be teaching at The Well Conference up in Michigan in May. I will be sharing writing tools for the speculative writer and how to bring the Christian worldview in fiction without preaching. If you’re nearby and looking for a writing conference, then check this one out!

And speaking of conferences, I will be attending Realm Makers in July with my daughter (eek! I can’t wait!). I’ve been to almost every Realm Makers since it first started 6 years ago and is the best conference for speculative writers and artists in my opinion. To find out more, check out www.realmmakers.com

Plus I will be taking a fun trip with my family over the summer.

With all of the exciting stuff coming in 2018, I don’t want to lose sight of one thing: God is with me. And God is with you too, my friend. So go forth and face the new year!

Handling Real-Life Experiences in Fictional Writing

coffee dateHi everyone! Hope you had a great Thanksgiving full of food, fun, and family 🙂 It’s the last Friday of the month and that means another coffee date with yours truly. Enjoy.

Maegen asks: “When you write something that is similar to a real life experience you’ve had, does it feel awkward? How do you handle awkwardness in writing?”

When I write, I pour my heart and soul into my writing. I also ask a lot of questions in my writing: questions about myself, about God, and about life. Sometimes that means I bring in my own experiences and flesh them out through my characters. I think this makes my characters more relatable, but it also makes me vulnerable.

When I received back my first set of edits for Daughter of Light, my editor told me not to hold back. He wanted me to dive deeper into what Rowen was feeling and experiencing. That was hard because I didn’t want people to see my fears, my past anger toward God, and my struggles to follow God when life is hard. You see, when I choose to open myself up that much in my stories, it means that negative reviews are much harder to receive. People say readers are not judging me, they are simply judging my book. But when your book is you, then it’s harder not to take it personally.

As I’ve grown as a writer, it has become much easier to bring my life-experiences into my books and not have it feel so awkward. I’ve come to realize that there are others out there who need to read what I have to share, and have been through, or are currently going through, the same fears, doubts, and feelings of worthlessness. Those are the people I’m writing for. My books are a bridge between my heart and theirs. And when I look at it that way, it’s not as awkward to open up about myself.

Thanks, Maegen!

The Girl Who Could See

Hey everyone! I love meeting new authors and so today I’m excited to introduce you to a new author and her book. First, here is the cover:

The Girl who could see

Isn’t it gorgeous? I fell in love the first time I saw it. But a book is more than its cover. Here is Kara to tell you more about her debut novella, The Girl Who Could See.

All her life Fern has been told she is blind to reality—but, what if she is the only one who can truly see?

Fern Johnson is crazy. At least, that’s what the doctors have claimed since her childhood. Now nineteen, and one step away from a psych ward, Fern struggles to survive in bustling Los Angeles. Desperate to appear normal, she represses the young man flickering at the edge of her awareness—a blond warrior only she can see.

Tristan was Fern’s childhood imaginary hero, saving her from monsters under her bed and outside her walls. As she grew up and his secret world continued to bleed into hers, however, it only caused catastrophe. But, when the city is rocked by the unexplainable, Fern is forced to consider the possibility that this young man is not a hallucination after all—and that the creature who decimated his world may be coming for hers.

***

Intriguing, yes? I agree! I haven’t read The Girl Who Could See yet, but it is near the top of my TBR list :). If you’re interested in acquiring your own copy, here is where you can find it:

BUY LINK:

https://www.amazon.com/Girl-Who-Could-See

GOODREADS LINK:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34094813-the-girl-who-could-see

 

And here is more about the author, Kara Swanson:

Kara SwansonAs the daughter of missionaries, Kara Swanson spent sixteen years of her young life in the jungles of Papua New Guinea. Able to relate with characters dropped suddenly into a unique new world, she quickly fell in love with the speculative genre. At seven- teen, she released a fantasy novel, Pearl of Merlydia. Her short story is included in Kathy Ide’s 21 Days of Joy: Stories that Celebrate Mom. She has published many articles, including one in the Encounter magazine, and she received the Mount Hermon Most Promising Teen Writer award in 2015.

Here is where you can find Kara online:

Find Kara online at www.karaswanson.com

Facebook: Kara Swanson, Author

Twitter: @kara_author

Instagram: @karaswanson_author

Should You Say That?

More and more people are sharing their thoughts and feelings on the internet. In some ways, this is good. There are more discussions happening. However, in some ways, people have forgotten that there is a real live human on the other side of that computer screen and perhaps not all things should be shared. I have a feeling many things would not be said if you were face to face with that person.

So how do you know if you should share something? Or how should you share something? For example, a topic has been brought up that you’re passionate about and want to leap in with your side of the argument. Or you’re tired of all the rants, and so you want to go on your own. What kind of filter should we use, not only on the internet, but with the people around us?

A friend of mine shared his thoughts with my husband and me a few weeks ago and I was blown away by his wisdom (and so that I’m not completely ripping his idea off, Jason Fortriede came up with this first and really needs to write all those books he has ideas for!).

I loved what he had to say and started applying it immediately with my kids. You know how family can be, especially between brothers and sisters. You’re not always kind to one another and say stuff that perhaps should have been filtered. Here are the three things you should ask yourself before you speak or write, and if all 3 apply, go ahead and say it (or write it). If they don’t, stop. Just stop and think about it. You might save yourself and others a lot of grief. Here you go:

Is it truthful?

Is it helpful?

Is it kind?

I’ve heard people say, “It’s the truth.” Sure, it’s the truth, and you just used the truth like a 2×4 to hit someone across the head. Ouch. I don’t think they heard the truth. They just feel the pain from the bludgeon. If it’s truthful, is it helpful right now? If not, stop. Sharing that the widow’s husband was a jerk at his funeral is just a stupid place to share the truth (I’m exaggerating on my example).

Let’s say it’s truthful and helpful, but is it kind? Telling someone, “You’re breath smells like a dog,” before his first date might be truthful and helpful, but certainly not kind. Two out of three is still not enough. Maybe try this: “Hold on, your breath needs a little work. Here’s some gum. I want you to make the best first impression you can on this date.” Bingo! Truthful, helpful, and delivered in a kind way.

But what about being kind, but it’s not true? You know, a little lie to make the person feel better? And it’s helpful, too 🙂

No, no, no. If I found out someone said something nice to make me feel better, but it wasn’t true, I would not believe any other nice things they said. You want people to know you are genuine and truthful in your statements. If it’s not true, don’t say it.

But mom, what if they ask me a question like do I like their picture and I hate it? What do I do?

You can always find something truthful and positive to say to someone, even if you don’t  like their house in Minecraft (yeah, that example is for my kids). Here’s an marriage example: “Honey, does this dress look good on me?” No, not at all. But the color does bring out her eyes. Don’t say yes and lie about it. Instead, say “I love the color, but the style doesn’t quite suit you. Let’s see if we can find something in the same color.” Bingo. All three: truthful, kind, and helpful.

See how much of a difference these three questions can make in our daily interactions, both in the physical world and in the cyber world? So the next time you’re wondering if you should answer someone who just posted on Facebook “The 49er’s stink,” ask yourself if your answer is truthful, kind, and helpful. Instead of “Yes!”, say, “They had a hard season, but there is always next year.” Or just don’t answer it at all. See what I mean? 😉

I can tell you this is already changing the way my family interacts with each other. My kids are asking each other if their comments are truthful, helpful, AND kind. Our words have power. Let’s think about them before we use them.

 

 

What if Only One Person Reads My Books?

writingThis thought has been on my mind for the last couple of weeks. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out if you’re doing what you’re supposed to as a writer. Doubt is always there, lurking in the back of your mind. My rankings are down, should I still be writing? My royalty check makes me blush, should I still be writing? I feel like I’m letting my publisher, agent, etc… down, should I still be writing?

Is anyone even reading my books?

So as I was once again re-evaluating if I should be writing (aka, I’m not feeling like I’m successful and wondering if my life would be better served doing something else), I had this thought: what if only one person ever reads my books? Then I took it a step further. What if what I was writing was meant for just one person? That God wanted me to spend my lifetime writing multiple series for a person who I will never meet, but someday would need to read my books because through those books God would change them? And not just one book, but God would use all of my books to help that one person?

Would it be worth it?

Would it be worth all the hours I pour into writing, the sacrifices I make so I can make time to write every day, the other “good things” I could be doing, but instead I am writing? Honestly? In my flesh that thought makes me cry. Just one person? But as I pondered this thought, I realized that God would do that, because of that one soul.

When we think of God doing above and beyond what we can imagine, we think of grandiose plans and ideas. But what if God’s plans involve a lonely writer, writing her heart out for the rest of her life, then connecting her books to one person who needs to read those books—every single one of them—and by reading them, comes to know God his or herself?

That’s exactly how God would do things…because to Him the value of a soul is priceless. He would do anything to reach people, including using the lifetime of a writer and all of her books to reach that other soul.

This thought has plagued me over and over again for the last few weeks. What if only one person ever reads my books? And not just one book, but will read everything I will ever write, and by doing so will connect with God? Is that worth it?

Yes.

That’s not to say sometimes I wish I had more to show for my writing, but when my focus is on God, it’s then I believe that what I am doing is not in vain, even if it might be for just one person. After all, every soul is precious to God. And that makes writing worth it.

How about you? Are you struggling with what you’re doing? Do you wonder if it’s worth it or is it time to throw in the towel? I can’t tell you yes or no, but I can tell you anything you do with open hands held up to God is never in vain, even if you don’t see the results.