Category Archives: Writing

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/

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.

Ten Favorite Characters from Flight of the Raven

Ten Favorite Characters fromI was asked a couple weeks ago to name ten favorite characters from my upcoming novel, Flight of the Raven (which comes out at the end of this month, yeah!), and I thought I would share that list with all of you here (because I know you’re as excited as I am to meet all of these people!). So here you go 🙂

Lady Selene Ravenwood (main character): I love her desire to not accept what fate/destiny/or her mother has planned for her, but to search for who she really is and what the dreamwalking gift can be used for. I also love her dual swords and long, raven-colored hair!

Lord Damien Maris: Ah, Damien! What can I say? He’s strong and gentle, powerful but understands the consequences of his power, and fiercely protects his people. He has the ability to control water and uses it to create walls out of rivers to keep out enemies. However, his power will wash away anyone who is not part of his people, on either side of the river.

Taegis (Damien’s guardian): He’s been watching over House Maris ever since Damien was young, and was there to help Damien when his family passed away. He’s a councilor, guardian, and friend.

Cohen: He’s young, he’s tall, and he has wild hair. And he looks nothing like a monk. But it is his curiosity about the world, and his heart for people has led him to be selected to be the next abbott. He hasn’t quite adjusted to his height and is always banging his long legs on tables and chairs.

Karl (personal guard to House Maris): Dark and brooding, with a painful past and is not sure about Lord Damien marrying someone from House Ravenwood. Eventually, he becomes Lady Selene’s personal guard.

Sten (personal guard to House Maris): jolly and stout, with many brothers and a love for life. He likes to whittle figures out of wood.

Lady Bryren Merek: leader of House Merek and the wyvern riders. Her house is known for their courage, and Lady Bryren is known for speaking her mind. Her wyvern is a large copper female named Shannu.

Lady Ragna Ravenwood: Selene’s mother. Cold, rigid, and focused on one thing: to tear every other great house down and build her own up. She is known for her beauty and strength.

Lady Amara Ravenwood (Selene’s sister): she’s always been jealous of her sister until she discovers the burden Selene has been carrying for years. Now she’s questioning everything she’s ever known. She fights with a single sword.

Breven (a pilgrim): sweet young man with a brilliant smile and a huge heart. No wonder Amara starts to fall for him. He’s from the city of knowledge, Shanalona, and hopes to work in the massive libraries there someday.

 

And there you go, a little peek into some new and returning characters in Flight of the Raven!

Haven’t read the first book, Mark of the Raven? Then check it out here.

Haven’t pre-ordered your copy of Flight of the Raven? Then head over here.

 

Finding the Fantastical in Everyday Life

Finding the Fantastical in Everyday Life.pngAs a fantasy writer, I’m constantly asked where do I get my ideas. I think it first began when I was a kid growing up in the mountains of Montana. I didn’t see the world around me with ordinary eyes. Instead, I saw the world with my imagination. Everything around me was magical, from the creek that ran behind our house, to the forests I would hike with my family, to those snowy days when the snowdrifts would be as tall as I was. I was an explorer wherever I went, constantly making up stories about the world around me.

I’ve grown older, but I haven’t changed much. Instead of keeping the stories in my head, I now convey what I see into the stories I write. When most people see a sunset, I see a painting of God every evening. The stars are diamonds in the sky. A thunderstorm is God’s power on display.

Even little things like the weaving of a spiderweb and a bird building her nest amaze me. Or the scent of fall as the leaves crunch beneath my boots. Or the stillness of a winter’s night. The sweet scent of a baby, or the tender purrs from my cat.

When I write, I want to convey the wonder I have of the world around me, and of the God who made it. And that doesn’t just stop at the physical world. Sometimes I ask questions in my stories: Are we monsters? Can anyone be redeemed? What does God’s grace really look like? What if I could walk in dreams? Who are we? And what does it mean to follow God?

I place my characters in situations that could not exist in this world in order to explain the real questions we ask as human beings. And I use the beauty of the real world to convey a fantasy world full of wonder.

Where do I find the inspiration for my stories? It is the fantastical I see every day around me.

How about you? What ‘ordinary’ things do you see as amazing? How does it bring you closer to God, and if you are a writer, how does it influence your writing?

Decency, Integrity, and Respect in Romance Scenes

dead-reds-1317346-1279x885The #metoo movement and recent exposure of sexual harassment and more in the Christian publishing world has made me take a closer look at how romance is portrayed in stories. What I’ve discovered has given me pause. The very things and situations we are condemning in the real world have quietly slip into books and perhaps it’s time to take a look at these situations and ask are we feeding into the very thing we want to abolish?

I’ll give two examples. In a recent webcomic I’ve been reading, the female main character has clearly shown her heart to be attached to one character. But another male character continues to intrude into her space (pinning her to the wall, making suggestive comments, and trying to kiss her). It’s the usual love triangle, but I can’t help but think if this was going on in the real world, this character is crossing lines when it comes to this woman. She’s told him no, and he’s not respecting her words, or her space, or her being. It might seem romantic since he’s a hot, muscly, sexy guy, which hormones can make it seem like the woman is being pulled toward him (and she is, because hormones), but she doesn’t like the guy.

Another example is from the manga/anime Seven Deadly Sins. The main character repeatedly looks up the female character’s skirt. At first she doesn’t know what to think, then she shyly tells him no. And she keeps telling him now, but he keeps on doing it. It’s a running joke and one that is disrespectful, rude, and definitely crossing lines. And he’s the hero of the story!

These are just two examples I see in stories (I won’t even talk about Fifty Shades of you know what). Situations and scenes where a man is using his power, influence, and ability to seduce a woman. This is not romantic, my friends. This is predatory and not how I would want my daughters pursued by a man!

The strongest, most romantic man is the one who looks beyond his desires and wants to do what’s best for the woman he loves. He shows her respect. He listens to her words. He acts with integrity. Does this mean he’s a prude? Not at all! It means he keeps his heart and his actions in check even when he is longing for her.

As writers, one way we can help the readers in our sphere of influence is to show what real romance looks like, and to shun scenes where a man is taking advantage of a woman (and vice versa). If we want to help stop this predatory view of love, it starts with the love scenes in our books. Let us create male characters who are passionate, but keep their hearts in check and show respect and decency toward female characters. And female characters who stand up for themselves and tell a man firmly no (and that is perfectly okay for a woman to say no to a man, and for a man to listen). Perhaps by doing this, we can help usher in a real world of decency, integrity, and respect for both men and women.

Carol Award Finalist and Other Things

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks for me! I’ve traveled across numerous states, visited some beautiful places, spent lots of wonderful time with my family, finished my edits on Flight of the Raven, book 2 of the Ravenwood Saga, and…

I FOUND OUT AWAKENED IS A CAROL AWARD FINALIST! YEAH!

Awakened 3

So that’s why you haven’t heard from me in a while. If you want to see the pictures from my travels, check out my Instagram account (I also post pics of my books and pets because they are so cute!).

Next week I’ll be at Realm Makers and if you live in the St. Louis area, come see me at the Realm Makers Book Festival 🙂

Also, I’ll be having my very first giveaway for a signed copy for Mark of the Raven, so be watching (or better yet, sign up for my newsletter so you don’t miss out).

New Book Contract

contract signingFriends! I’m so excited to announce that my new fantasy series has a home. I just signed a three book contract with Bethany House. It is bittersweet to be moving to another publisher and yet I’m excited to work with the people and authors at Bethany.

So what does this mean for you, my readers? It means you will have a new book to read next November (2018). And it also means you won’t be waiting a whole year between books. Yep, you read that right! I will be working diligently with Bethany to have a new installment every nine months. Yeah!

So be watching for the cover for Mark of the Raven, coming soon! And in the meantime, here is what my new series is about:

Mark of the

Lady Selene is the heir to the Great House of Ravenwood and the secret family gift of dreamwalking. As a dreamwalker, she can enter a person’s dreams and manipulate their greatest fears or desires. For the last hundred years, the Ravenwood women have used their gift of dreaming for hire to gather information or to assassinate.

As she discovers her family’s dark secret, Selene is torn between upholding her family’s legacy, a legacy that supports her people, or seeking the true reason behind her family’s gift.

Her decision comes to a head when she is tasked with assassinating the one man who can bring peace to the nations, but who will also bring about the downfall of her own house.

One path holds glory and power, and will solidify her position as Lady of Ravenwood. The other path holds shame and execution. Which will she choose? And is she willing to pay the price for the path chosen?

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!

Book Endings and Time Spent Writing

coffee dateHello everyone! It’s the end of the month and that means it’s time for another coffee date with yours truly :). I’ve really enjoyed the questions you, the readers, have been sending me and I’m excited to dive into the next two questions for this month. So here we go!

Daniel asks: “Do you ever get caught up in your book, then dream a new ending?”

I think my characters wish this would happen, and I would simply dream up a new ending, preferably one that says, “Everything they ever wanted to have happen happened, and they lived happily ever after.”

But to answer your question, no. Once I have an ending in mind, that is the one that happens. There might be some minor changes, but that is how the story ends.

The reason for this is the ending is my target as I’m writing the story. I’m constantly asking myself if this scene or chapter is bringing my story one step closer to that ending I have in mind. If I’m writing a story where the hero needs to face a dragon at the end, then go and write a chapter about cute, fluffy rabbits, I’m deviating from my ending (unless the rabbits are eaten by the dragon at the end of the chapter, reminding the reader of the dragon).

When I sit down to write a book, I have to know the beginning, the main events, and the ending. Then I can write. So if I dreamed up a new ending halfway through the book, I have a feeling I’d have to rewrite the whole story :).

Thanks, Daniel!

Judy asks: “How many hours a day do you spend writing?”

I spend anywhere from 2-5 hours a day writing. I write one thousand words a day at least, and depending how fast that scene comes to me is how long I spend writing (and then there are days when I get caught up in the story and write even more words). But in order to keep up with my deadlines, I must write at least 1k words a day. However, that said, I take Friday-Sundays off to spend time with my family and catch up on stuff.

Now, if the question was how long do you spend editing, that is a whole different story (when I get my edits back from my publisher, usually I’m crunched for time and spend 6,8, even 10 hours a day on edits. That’s when I disappear from life for a couple of weeks).

Thanks, Judy!

I love to hear from my readers and if you have a burning question you’d like answered during my end-of-the-month coffee dates, please leave it in the comments below 🙂

What I’m Writing Now and My Writing Routine

coffee dateWahoo! After almost a year (a year filled with deadlines, moving twice, and the release of almost two books) I am resurrecting my monthly coffee date posts. I love this post since it gives you, my readers, a chance to ask me questions and gives me a chance to interact with you! So without further ado, here we go!

Timothy asks: “What’s the release date and synopsis of your new series you are finishing up the first volume of?”

A timely question since I just finished the edits on the manuscript in question and just sent it off to my critique partners! As I’ve waited for the release of Awakened, the second book in my steampunk series, I’ve been writing a whole new fantasy series. This new series will follow a young woman who has inherited her family’s secret ability to dreamwalk (the ability to enter a person’s dreams and see their hopes, thoughts, and memories). Here is the back blurb:

Lady Selene is the heir to the Great House of Ravenwood and the secret family gift of dreamwalking. As a dreamwalker, she can enter a person’s dreams and manipulate their greatest fears or desires. For the last hundred years, the Ravenwood women have used their gift of dreaming for hire to gather information or to assassinate.

As she discovers her family’s dark secret, Selene is torn between upholding her family’s legacy, a legacy that supports her people, or seeking the true reason behind her family’s gift.

Her decision comes to a head when she is tasked with assassinating the one man who can bring peace to the nations, but who will also bring about the downfall of her own house.

One path holds glory and power, and will solidify her position as Lady of Ravenwood. The other path holds shame and execution. Which will she choose? And is she willing to pay the price for the path chosen?

 

The first book, Mark of the Raven, is currently under consideration at a publishing house. Once I know more, I will definitely let you all know. Until then, Awakened comes out November 14th!

 

Ralene asks: “How has your writing routine changed over the years as the kids have gotten older?”

It is much easier to have a routine with older children! I can even write in the summer, even though I cut my wordcount in half in order to spend time with my kids. A typical day for me goes with sending my kids off to school, writing my first 500 words, cleaning, cooking, doing whatever I need to do, then writing my second 500 words. Some days I write more, but I always write at least 1k words a day to stay on track and finish a book in a year. However, my family is still my priority, so writing happens when they are at school, and when they are home, the writer in me is put away and the mom comes out. Thanks for asking!

Do you have a question for me that you would like answered during my monthly coffee date? Feel free to post it below and I’ll place it in my que. Until next month, bye!