Category Archives: fantasy

Don’t Give Up On What You Know God Has Called You To Do

My writing ministry had me growing weary. I’ve been working on this YA fantasy novel for around four years now, and I just want it to be published already.

I was planning on self-publishing via eBook and raising the funds through Indie Gogo. However, after a sister in Christ challenged me—”Did God tell you to self-publish at this exact time”—I prayed. I sought more counsel and realized I should keep trying to get traditionally published.

At first I was discouraged. I cried, just wanting this book off my hands already, but then I prayed and began to worship. Within no more than ten minutes, God had encouraged me, and I was fine. Mind you, when I worshiped, I wasn’t, “feeling it.” I was still hurt, but I denied myself, denied my emotions, and chose to praise and thank God despite; out of obedience to His Word which commands us to give thanks in all circumstances.

When you repent—change your mind and agree with God—despite your circumstances and feelings, the Holy Spirit does a work in you and causes you to walk like His Son. I didn’t change my attitude, God through the Holy Spirit did, for the Word tells us, “It is God who works in you both to will and do for His good pleasure.”

When we choose to give God thanks, even when we don’t feel like it, our focus shifts from our problems to our problem solver, and He changes us by His grace.

This morning, I happened to read this:

For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. (‭Hebrews‬ ‭6‬:‭10-12‬ NKJV)

Yet again, our great Savior encouraged me. I won’t give up on this book. I’ve dedicated it to Him for His glory and purposes. I believe He will use it.

Don’t give up either. Whatever you commit to the Lord for His good usage is not a labor of vanity. As long as you work diligently and as excellently as you can, knowing you’re serving the Lord, He will bless and use your efforts far beyond what you can ask, think, or imagine.

Keep fighting on. Our battle isn’t against flesh and blood, and in Christ we are more than conquerors.

Grace to you,

Natasha


Adira: A Warrior’s Journey To Redemption (Short Story)

War horns blared near the horizon, echoed by haunting screams—women and children suffering at the hands of marauders.

Adira sprang from her worn floor mattress and snatched the bronze sword Pa had given her. Thrice this month those soulless beasts had attacked the neighboring villages. But what kept them from Pielon?

She pushed open her bedchamber door and strode into the stuffy fore-room. Pa faced the entryway, clenching his shield and sword. Only a few spots of his tarnished suit of armor shined in the table lantern’s light.

“Are they coming, Pa?” Adira approached.

“Only time will tell.”

Pa’s bedchamber door creaked open. Ma inched into the fore-room, her blue eyes wide with dread. She brushed away pale blonde tresses from her face, revealing the wrinkles that had aged her a decade though still failed to diminish her beauty.

An explosion erupted afar off. The ground quaked.

Adira pulled aside tattered curtains from the fore-room’s only window. Crimson smoke slithered into the evening skies. Adira squeezed her hilt. What the Golden Knights called Blood Smog; when Black Knights burn children alive.

As she turned from the window, dear Ma pressed a shaking hand over her chest. “Are they coming?”

“Not yet.” Adira walked to her side and gently clasped her arm. She led Ma to the couch, and she sank onto the dirty cushion.

Another explosion shook the cottage.

Tears swelled in Ma’s eyes. “Maybe if we flee now—”

“We will not flee.” Pa kept his stare on the entry door.

“But—”

“There is nowhere to go, Bilhah!”

The tears spilled down her cheeks.

Adira’s palm stroked Ma’s frail back. “We’ve survived this long. An elite camp is in our midst.”

She peered up. “I grow faint of merely surviving.”

Pa veered around, his weathered boot-heels scathing the wood. “Then you take up a sword and defeat the enemy.” He strode forward, jabbing his blade in the air at invisible foes. “Go. Fight, kill! See if they cease coming!”

Adira slowly stepped in front of Ma, her hilt warm in her grasp. “She is simply weary, Pa. That is all.”

He jeered. “Weary? She is weary?” Poisonous laughter dripped from his tongue. “How many Black Knights has she battled? How many times has she been wounded by the enemy?” He shoved Adira aside with his shield before dropping it and snatching Ma’s arm. “Where are her scars? Where are they?”

Adira gradually lifted her sword as Ma trembled and wept. “Pa, not tonight. Please. Just release her.”

In the dim lantern’s light, blackness swallowed Pa’s brown irises—like the soulless. He heaved, and his blood-stained breastplate glinted.

“I am warning you.” Adira took a half-pace toward him.

Pa’s eyes flickered. His grip on Ma tightened, and she wailed. He could break her arm with ease. He’d done it before.

“Are you going to strike your father?” He spoke gruffly, as if drunk. “Am I the enemy? You want to slay me like I am one of those accursed beasts?”

Adira’s hand shook. “I will not ask you again.”

The thick veins in Pa’s neck protruded, and he spoke through gritted teeth. “I do not need your permission, girl.”

A banging rattled the door.

He held Adira’s stare a moment longer and then thrust Ma onto the couch. Pa grabbed his shield and marched to the entryway as Adira bustled to Ma. One arm aided her to a seated position while the other extended the sword.

Pa raised his. “Who is there?”

“Sir Maveth.” The man’s voice trembled.

Pa threw open the door.

A Silver Knight stood on the portico. “Be ready for battle. The Black Knights are—” a large ebony-flamed arrow jutted through his breastplate. An exhale fell from his mouth, and he collapsed face-forward into the doorway.

Ma screamed.

“Stay here.” Pa lifted his shield and treaded outside as men cried, “Ambush! It’s an ambush!”

***

Adira gripped her sword as her heart thrashed within. Ma sobbed, and her delicate frame quaked.

Kneeling, Adira held one of Ma’s shaking hands. “Remember the hymn you sang whenever I was frightened?”

She nodded.

“Can you sing it again? Please?”

Ma’s lips pressed together and her brow furrowed as if the song sat on her tongue, but tasted bitter. Outside, clashing swords and dying groans orchestrated their own morbid song.

Adira caressed Ma’s hair and sang the slow-paced beginning. “The evening may be dark, but the day will bring forth light. Weeping may tarry for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”

Ma’s soft voice joined the rhythm, faint and somewhat hoarse. “I will not be afraid, I will not be afraid, for hope will rise with the day.”

A child’s harrowing shriek impaled the air. Ma shuddered.

Adira sang louder. “Hope will rise with the day, yes, hope will rise with the—”

Six ebony-flaming barbs slammed through the wood. One pierced the couch beside Ma. She and Adira jumped to their feet. Dark flames devoured the furniture like burning hay. Fire engulfed the walls and filled the cottage with suffocating fumes.

Adira grabbed Ma’s hand and jogged to the door. She kicked it open and raised her sword. Outside, wails cowered under bellowing roars. The ten-foot Black Knights sank their ebony fangs into flesh, and their massive claws tore arms and legs from Silver Knights.

Her heart pounding, Adira glanced around. Where were the Elite?

Pa battled two of the beasts across Sir Taman’s tent. He dodged and jabbed, seeming to have the upper-hand. An obsidian chariot coated with the blood of men sat unoccupied twenty yards to the right.

Arrows charged. Adira ducked and pulled Ma toward the chariot. When they reached it, they crouched underneath, behind one of the giant wheels.

“Stay here until it’s over.” Adira kissed Ma’s tear-tracked cheek. “I promise I will return for you.” She crept into the open with her bronze sword outstretched.

One of the Black Knights kicked Pa in the chest, propelling him several yards back. He crashed through the stone door of Widow Maribel’s tavern. Adira raced toward him. A Black Knight sprang over the obsidian chariot and pounced in her way. Blood dripped from its mouth and soaked its long, leathery neck.

She thrust her sword.

The beast parried the blade and grinned. “You think I fear you, human?” Its raspy baritone taunted. “Your kind is no threat to me.” It stepped forward and licked the blood off its lengthy claws with a wart-covered tongue.

Adira recoiled, her body seized with trembling. The Black Knight sneered as it elevated its muscular arm to deliver a lethal strike. It swung its claws down.

A white-flamed arrow struck one of the beast’s hollow eyes. The ivory flames burst, consuming its head as it fell backwards. Three Golden Knights galloped in on white steeds. Gold-plated hooves clattered against the ground as the riders swung their swords, decapitating five Black Knights. A quiver of flaming arrows and an ivory bow mounted the Elites’ backs. Another pair of Golden Knights launched arrows from atop a two-story stable.

As more beheadings and flames vanquished the accursed, many fled like shadows at dawn.

Adira faced Widow Maribel’s tavern—now ablaze with the perverse fire. “Pa!” She sprinted to the tavern’s entrance. The raging flames made entry impossible. “No. Pa.” Adira dropped to her knees and plunged her sword into the ground near the body of a fallen Silver Knight. Her stomach knotted, and her vision blurred. I didn’t say goodbye.

She scanned the remains of what once was Pielon. Apart from the white steeds, all cattle had dispersed. Tents and cottages burned crimson and black. Broken bodies of men, women, and children littered the ground like wilted crops.

Adira clenched her jaw. Blood boiled within. These hellish beasts had yet again ravaged the lives of the helpless and defiled a village with their execration.

A golden light flickered in her peripheral vision. An elite clenching his sword walked from behind the tavern. A limping Silver Knight leaned on his shoulder.

Pa! Adira yanked her sword from the ground and rose as the few remaining Black Knights fled. Her gaze lifted. The chariot Ma had hidden under was gone.

Adira dropped her sword and bounded to where she left Ma. Cold sweat dampened her tunic as she shouted Ma’s name, searching the outskirts of scorched cottages and stables. “Pa!” she yelled. “Help me find Ma!”

He pushed himself off the Golden Knight and staggered around the dead. “Bilhah? Bilhah!” With each call his cry amplified.

A painful throbbing pounded in Adira’s ears, drowning out hers and Pa’s voices. Ma had to be here. She must have hidden somewhere else. She couldn’t have …

Adira’s throat rasped until it broke her shout. The pounding in her head ceased. Quiet subdued, as if she’d been struck deaf. Ma?

“She has been taken.” A calm voice shattered the silence. The Golden Knight that had carried Pa removed his gleaming helmet. Sir Aharon. The commander of the Golden Knights camping in Pielon.

“Taken?” Adira’s knees weakened.

Sir Aharon sheathed his sword as four other Golden Knights tended to the few wounded left breathing.

Pa wagged his head with eyes wide, crazed. “They didn’t take her. She has been slain.”

“Pa, her body is missing.” Adira pointed to where she saw her last. “I hid her behind one of their chariots, and it’s gone now.”

“You know nothing.” He hobbled forward in two strides and clutched Adira’s tunic by the collar, twisting it.

Sir Aharon grabbed the hilt of his sword.

“She is dead, girl.” Spittle rained on her face. “That is what war does. Cope with the loss and trek forward.” He shoved Adira away and limped off.

Sir Aharon slowly lowered his hand. “Your father speaks from pain, but his experience is unquestioned. In these events, more oft’ than not, the captive would be dead by now.”

Adira’s cheeks burned. “I will find her!” She marched to where she’d abandoned her sword and clasped the hilt. Her jaw set, she strode in the direction the last of the Black Knights had fled.

“You will die before you reach a quarter of the way.”

Adira halted and turned.

Sir Aharon caught up swiftly and peered at her with light eyes somehow still aglow. “It will take some time, but I can equip you to rescue your mother.”

“But if we tarry, they’ll kill her. You said—”

“I said more oft’ than not. Yet, these barbarians will not act hastily to kill your mother.”

“How are you certain?”

“Because it is not just her life they desire.”

The daystar emerged from behind dark clouds, golden and bright, as if mimicking Sir Aharon’s armor.

“If you will heed my counsel, come with me.” He hastened back toward his men.

Adira kept her stare on Sir Aharon. He scooped up a wounded Silver Knight and carried him effortlessly to a tent.

She lifted her hand and curled her fingers into a tight fist. Surely, she was strong, but strong enough to defeat those savages? To go alone would be a fool’s errand. Suicide.

As Sir Aharon lifted another knight, Adira whispered, “I can equip you.” With a thrust, she sheathed her sword and ran to join the others.

***

Three weeks gone.

 

I hate him.

Adira’s boots sank deeper into the black mud. The loathsome darkness and filthy air surrounded, towering at least a thousand feet high. And this is what that tyrant considers equipping?

The blade of her bronze sword impaled the mire a few paces away where she’d thrown it. She peered at the heavens. Gray clouds shrouded the blazing daystar. The evil smog somehow managed to dull the vivid rays as if the star had grown tired of shining so brightly.

It’s impossible to get out of this merciless pit.

The mud smothered her knees. She’d sharpened her sword, but it still failed her in combat training.

Now here I sink.

A roar of thunder besieged the sky.

Soon, fist-sized raindrops plummeted from the clouds. The icy water merged with the sludge, and it rose to Adira’s waist. Only the hilt of her sword remained visible. Losing it would mean freedom—freedom from that craze-brain who allowed her to be knocked into this abyss by the other apprentices yet again.

Another clash of thunder exploded in the heavens. Adira shuddered. But if she died, what would become of Ma?

“What are you doing, Adira?” Lord Tyrant—Sir Aharon—stood at the border of the pit’s mouth, his golden armor sparkling clean from the rain. He grasped a rope. “You aren’t giving up, are you?”

A torrent of inner heat defeated the cold mire. She averted her gaze. No. My sword—it was just here! She thrashed at the mud. Her skinny, poor-excuse for a young woman’s figure pushed forward—to no avail.

Humiliation once again gallops in on his giant stallion.

Adira’s hand brushed against metal. My sword! She grabbed its hilt, the thickening mud now up to her chest. The end of a rope landed in front of her.

“Make haste, Adira!” Sir Aharon shouted over the storm.

Hoisting her sword out of the sludge, she forced her other hand to grasp the rope. As Sir Valor pulled, the rope raised Adira from the muck. She gripped the rugged thread and peered at the swelling blackness below. Maybe if it hadn’t rained, she would have finally gotten out on her own this time.

When Adira’s knees dragged against magenta grass, she released the rope. The thoughtless trainer extended a hand. As Adira clasped it, Luts’s sickening laugh struck from behind Sir Aharon.

The prideful, one-eyed apprentice sneered beside his wee puppet, Keegan. “Maybe now she’ll finally understand she should be threading needles, not wielding swords.”

Sir Aharon pulled Adira to her feet and then faced the mockers. They instantly quieted and stiffened to attention.

“I have two questions for you men,” Sir Aharon said. “First, which of you desires to be mocked by your fellow knights while you lay writhing on the ground in flames before your enemies?”

Lightning pierced the sky, throwing white light on Luts and Keegan’s taut faces.

“And second, do you desire to give up your swords and fight for Leviathan?”

“No sir,” they answered.

“Then retire to your tents.”

“Yes sir.” As they scampered off, Sir Aharon rolled the rope. “I have a question for you now, Adira.”

She stood at attention.

“Why did you give up?”

What a wise inquiry. The searing heat inside strengthened. “With due respect, sir, that was my thirty-second time getting shoved into that devilish pit.”

“And how many failures would it take for you to forsake rescuing your mother?” His words plunged a dagger in Adira’s heart.

“I would never forsake her, sir.”

He smiled. “You’re beginning to sound like a Golden Knight.”

Her blazing temperature cooled to a soothing warmth. “Thank you, sir.”

He tossed the rope aside as more thunder dominated the heavens. “We will continue training when the rain subsides.”

***

Three months past.

 

Sweat soaked the inside of Adira’s leather glove as she strangled her shield’s strap and her sword’s hilt.

Sir Aharon and his men watched from beneath an awning of turquoise leaves while the nine surrounding apprentices aimed their blades at Adira. Golden rays speared from above, their light reflecting off her opponents’ hungry eyes.

“Spare yourself from another embarrassment,” Luts crooned. “Sir Aharon understands you are merely a lady.”

The boys laughed, Keegan’s shrill chuckle louder than the rest.

Adira threw her shield over Luts. As the others followed its flight, she dove through the opening between his burly legs and rolled out of the circle. She raced to her shield, snatched it, and turned as the boys trailed. Raising her armor, she deflected blows and countered strikes. Adira delivered forceful thrusts that knocked three swords out of her adversaries’ hands. She lifted her boot and shoved two backwards onto their bottoms, then swiped with her shield. Another pair stumbled to the ground. Only two foes remained.

Luts glanced at Keegan as they circled her. Luts jerked his head, and the puppet lunged at Adira from behind. She ducked to the right while swinging her shield back and driving the blunt of her sword forward. Keegan’s helmet collided with the shield as Luts’ chest slammed against the hilt. They both collapsed.

While Luts coughed, Adira approached. He peered up at her with his single dark brown eye—like Pa’s. She winced as she sheathed her sword and extended him a hand. A frown twisting his mouth, Luts sat up and clasped it.

“Good fight,” she said.

He grunted an agreement as he rose and then stalked off. Sir Aharon drew near, shining with double splendor in the vibrant afternoon light, his hands hidden behind his back. Adira quickly straightened as he halted before her.

“That was impressive.”

A flutter tickled her stomach. “Thank you, sir.”

“In all my years, I’ve known of only one woman who sparred with as much skill and honor.” He revealed his hands.

Adira gasped.

In his palms, rested a long, shimmering gold sheath with a golden hilt protruding from its entrance. “I believe you are ready to rescue your mother.” Gently, as if carrying an infant, he laid the sheath in her hands.

She wrapped her fingers around the hilt. A surge of wind, warm and powerful, flooded through her entire being. Her pulse quickened as the wind blanketed her heart like a cloak. Gazing at her reflection in the sheath, she brought it close to her face. Her hazel eyes had lightened like the sky at dawn. She replaced her old sword and sheath with her new one as the wind inside settled to a serene breeze.

Sir Aharon’s warm palm cupped Adira’s shoulder. “We will depart at dusk.” He turned and walked toward his tent.

A prickling rose up her back as she faced her own tent, staked across from the turquoise forest of Kuwn. A shadow disappeared beyond one of the lofty trees, and the itchy sensation subsided.

“Pa?” she whispered.

***

Three days come.

Blood-red coated the horizon. Below the bleeding skyline, a land of blackness stretched. At the bottom of a slope, hundreds of obsidian chariots occupied the dirt ground to the right, and at least ten thousand Black Knights lingered around a cave with human carcasses piled near the opening.

Adira’s heart skipped and her stomach churned. How could she and five men defeat ten thousand of these savage beasts?

Crouched on the grassy hill behind his shield alongside the other men, Sir Aharon clenched his ivory bow. “Do not fear their number,” he said. “They are without the Host of Heaven’s armies.”

Adira, also behind a shield, closed her golden helmet’s visor, and squeezed her sword’s hilt. The warm wind seeped through her glove and into her palm. She could prevail—she would, for Ma.

“Prepare your arrows.” As Sir Aharon and the rest grabbed the smooth shafts from their quivers and set them to string, the arrows ignited into ivory flames. He aimed at a Black Knight standing directly before the cave’s mouth.

Adira and the men shifted their barbs in the same direction. The wind coursed through her, intensifying the warmth already gracing her from the holy fire.

“Steady …” Sir Aharon spoke quietly, concentrated. “And … strike!”

The string snapped free from Adira’s fingers, and the arrow flew to its target. It impaled the forehead of an accursed as the other arrows struck their marks. Six Black Knights collapsed in rapidly consuming flames, and the army dispersed, their roars bellowing in unison.

“Charge!” Sir Aharon leapt over the hill and ran down the steep incline.

Adira and the men snatched their shields and sprinted behind him. Two six-winged beasts soared overhead. Blood drizzled from human arms on the creatures’ torsos.

One landed in Adira’s path. Four faces rounded its head, the first like a man with pale-blue irises. Thick fur covered the others, each with either an elongated beak, bloody fangs, or a snarling snout. The creature stood on its hind legs, black wings outstretched. A metallic sword strapped to its hip reflected the crimson sky. It strode toward her while the men engaged its twin.

“Sir Aharon, I know,” the warped beast said in a voice that boomed over the chaos. “But who are you?”

She unsheathed her sword. “You will know me soon enough.”

“A woman?” It stepped back and removed its own sword. “What name shall I put on your mounted head?”

“My name is Adira, but it is your head that will lose its mount.” She raised her blade and lunged at the creature. It evaded the blow and swung its weapon. She dipped back, and blocked with her shield. Realigning, she swiped her sword and beheaded her foe. As the beast fell, Adira bounded toward the cave. The Black Knights surrounding it charged. She slashed at chests and limbs while the fiery arrows of her brethren brought down chariots and their riders, clearing a path to the cave’s entrance. She weaved around the adult corpses before it, keeping her gaze ahead.

A roar thundered from within, and the ground quaked. She staggered—but kept her course.

“Adira.” A voice like a squadron of thunder growled her name. “The mouse has taken the bait.”

She halted. An enormous winged-beast zoomed out of the cave, its crimson scales flaring, and irises ablaze.

Her throat dried. Leviathan.

He opened his snout, and a torrent of ebony fire surged her way. She blocked the inferno with her shield. Flames streamed past, singeing her exposed curls. This beast would scorch her to ash before she could take a pace closer to that cave. Her arms trembled against the scalding barrage. She dropped to a knee.

Sir Aharon leapt in front of her, his golden shield lifted. The armor deflected the raging flames. “Rescue your mother!” He lunged at the enemy with his sword and steered Leviathan away.

Adira ran under the billowing fire toward the cave. Leviathan’s tail whipped around and knocked Sir Aharon into a throng of Black Knights. The tail jerked high and slammed in front of Adira, tossing her onto her back. Her helmet smashed into the ground, and her shield slipped from her grasp. A brief whiteness fogged her vision.

Leviathan tramped toward her. With each weighty step, a tremor flung her upwards and then down again. Her head seared and pounded, but she clung desperately to her sword. Blazing scarlet eyes like blood mingled with fire peered into hers. A suffocating heat breathed against her face.

“Adira,” he whispered. “I know you, and I know why you’ve come.”

She squeezed her hilt, and the aching in her brain intensified.

“You cannot win this fight.” His words echoed in her mind. “But you can join me.”

Her grip loosened. Join him? A pang struck her head and thoughts fumbled in her mind, as if planted there by this beast. It would be easier this way. No one will have to die.

“I will spare your mother, and even your men. Simply give up, and you shall become a hero.”

Give up? She sucked in breaths to ease the agony attacking her brain. But I can’t. Sir Aharon flashed in her mind like gold lightning. He would keep fighting, wouldn’t he? Her fist tightened around the hilt, and the warm wind gushed from her chest and slammed into Leviathan.

The beast recoiled. She sat up and drove her blade into his unguarded belly. “Your kind is not heroic.” She withdrew her sword, and a shower of ebony blood rained over her lap.

Sir Aharon dashed in their direction as Black Knights fled from his shining presence.

Adira jumped to her feet and darted into the cave, Leviathan wailing behind her. Carcass-stench infected the sweltering air, and a woman’s whimpering traveled through the hollow.

“Ma?” Adira grabbed a flaming arrow and held it in front of her. Ivory radiance chased away the darkness. Ma sat huddled against the anterior wall, her body bruised and bloody.

Adira raced to her side. “Ma, I’m here. I came for you.”

Snot and dirt sullied her now bony face.

“Oh, Ma.” Compassion twined with hatred as Adira scooped Ma into her arms. “Leviathan will never harm you again.” The warm draft eased from her hands. “No one will.”

A tremor shook the ground. Golden brightness shined at the cave’s entry. Adira carried Ma to the light.

Between Leviathan’s disembodied head and scaly body stood Sir Aharon, the other Golden Knights behind him. Though ebony blood soiled his armor, the metal still glimmered under the daystar’s kiss. All the darkness that smothered the ground had washed away. Only a defeated Leviathan and thousands of his slain minions remained.

Adira looked to the hills from whence she and her brethren came. A Silver Knight rode a brown horse down the magenta highland. Pa.

He reached the bottom and sped toward them. The wind inside Adira stirred. Pa’s horse stopped in front of her and Ma. He swiftly dismounted and threw off his helmet. His dark eyes glistened as he gazed at Adira then at Ma.

He stepped forward. Tears trailed his now-bearded cheeks. “Bilhah. Adira.” He dropped to his knees and held Adira’s ankles like a slave bowing before his master. “Forgive me. Please forgive me.”

The wind swelled inside Adira’s chest, once again consuming her heart.

Ma peered up at Adira. “Please put me down, daughter.” Her voice dripped with weakness.

“Are you sure?”

She gave a nod.

Pa released Adira’s ankles as she gently set Ma on her feet. He bowed his head and wept. Bending, Ma grasped his arm. Adira clasped the other. Together, they raised him up. His weeping turned to sobbing as he collapsed into their embrace, broken and heavy like the burden he bore.

“I love you, Pa,” Adira whispered.

“And I love you. I love you both so much.”

The wind poured from her heart and enveloped all three of them in a warm and gentle swirl.

Adira clung tighter to her family. Like a torn garment, they had been severed from one another for so long. But now, it felt as though a divine weaver had mended the tear, and love would bind their souls together for all eternity.


Mind-blown At The Fact That God Is Truly My Co-Writer

I’m currently working on the second book in a fantasy trilogy. Last night, while at a brother’s home, we discussed the false teaching of the Rapture. After much dialogue, this morning I was compelled to research the origin of this belief. I wasn’t shocked by its late start-up (the 18th century, when Joseph Smith was likewise receiving contrary-to-Scripture “visions”). But as I got into prayer, just thanking God for His unfailing Truth, it hit me: there’s parallels in my trilogy to The Great Tribulation.

It’s fascinating to me that before endeavoring to write this trilogy, all I knew was what the seven main characters were going to represent. I also knew there would be a character who represented God the Father and Creator and then shortly after starting that there would be a book that represents the Bible. However, it wasn’t until after I’d finished writing book one that a slew of biblical parallels began to shine forth.

I pray every single time I’m about to write. I invite God into the process, asking Him to bless and anoint me and to lead the story. I’m mind-blown at just how much He’s honored those prayers.

I don’t want to give any spoilers, but from what I currently know, there’s parallels of the Holy Spirit, of the pre-tribulation “birth pangs” Jesus speaks of in Matthew 24, anti-christ and the false prophet, the Great Tribulation, and the New Jerusalem. Again, none of this was planned. I didn’t premeditate any of these parallels, only the few I mentioned earlier.

So my encouragement to every Christian fiction writer is to really pray and offer your work to God. Trust Him to give you the story and really commit it to Him. It’s amazing to have the God of the universe as your co-writer. Are not our gifts meant to build up the Church and glorify God? I pray all of you use your gifts for the above purposes, whatever those gifts may be. Let’s sew into eternity with what we’ve been given today.

Much love,

Natasha


The Epic Battle of Christian Knights, Midian and Valor

I will die without it. Another slew of a thousand flaming arrows soared overhead as Midian crawled across the desert terrain. Blood-coated dust seeped into his helmet. He breathed in the coppery smoke, his dry throat screaming for a single drop of water.

Leather boots guarded by golden armor appeared on his right. Valor.

“Midian,” he shouted as a mob of Black Knights bounded toward him, “keep going! You’re almost there!” Valor raised a three-foot-sword, its golden blade reflecting the brightness of the sun beaming from overhead. He swung it and decapitated three of his foes.

One of their heads landed in front of Midian. The ebony helmet clanked against the dusty ground and off the beast. Lifeless black eyes and a mouth agape with blood-soaked fangs managed to freeze Midian in his place.

“What are you doing?” Valor impaled a Black Knight and kicked it off his blade before slicing another cursed beast in half. “You mustn’t stop now!”

Midian forced his limbs to crawl onward, wincing as he pushed aside the terrifying head.

His worn tent stood twenty yards away.

He glanced back. Thousands of Black Knights rode in from the south on ebony stallions, racing toward Valor. He could only hold them off for so long.

A fiery barb pierced Midian’s exposed thigh. The flames quickly engulfed his leg and waist. He wailed as he rolled from side-to-side to douse the fire.

A quaking struck the ground.

Midian stopped rolling.

At the tent’s entrance, Leviathan towered a thousand feet high, his crimson scales flaring like his blazing irises. He roared and a stream of fire surged Midian’s way.

Valor leapt in front of him, his golden shield lifted. The armor deflected the raging flames. “Go!” Valor charged at the enemy with his sword.

Midian pushed on, his searing blisters scraping against the dust. Fire rained down like a hellish storm.

Valor dodged and countered the enemy’s blows, leading him away from the tent.

Midian dragged himself toward the small entry. With each move closer, pangs and quivering amplified. His elbows locked, and the little strength he had left seeped out of his limbs like his bleeding wounds.

Slowly, his vision darkened.

A bellowing roar echoed from behind.

The ground jumped, tossing Midian up and then tumbling back down. He tried to blink away the blackness, but it only worsened.

Armored arms swept beneath his torso and raised him out of the dust. In seconds, he descended onto cushions.

A strong hand forced his mouth open, and cool liquid poured inside. It washed over his parched tongue and replenished his weak muscles.

Midian’s eyes opened. His bloody burns had begun to close, and the hilt of his rusty sword rested in his hand.

Again, he had barely survived an ambush.

Valor stood at Midian’s bedside, clutching a crystal canister of sparkling water. His bright eyes peered down on him. “What would have happened if I too had left my sword in my tent?”

Midian squeezed his hilt, shame choking his words.

“I cannot keep fighting without you, Midian. Either you fight with me in this war, or you perish alone on the battle field.” Valor chugged from the canister and marched back outside, the hooves of the Black Knight’s horses fading to silence.
——————————————–

Midian represents the lukewarm Christian, the Christian who forgets or chooses to not read the Word of God daily. Because of which, his only offensive weapon, his sword of the spirit, grows rusty and he becomes weak, parched without the living water of the Scriptures—Jesus Himself.

When satan and his demons attack Midian, he falls and needs the aid of his stronger brothers in Christ to help pick him up again.

Valor, on the other hand, forgets not the Word of God. He meditates on it day and night. He drinks of it daily, consuming moderate amounts before the day’s end. Thus, he is always ready for battle. When the enemy strikes, he strikes back with his all-powerful weapon, the Word of God. His sword is ever at his side and he is able to not only stand for himself, but rescue others who are losing the fight.

The Church needs more Valors. Will you pick up your sword and become a Knight of such value and honor for the kingdom of heaven’s sake?

The choice is yours.


Hubby and I could use some authonomy love

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Hey everyone! I am on authonomy.com, an online community of writers ran by Harper Collins publishers. Me and hubby’s book is steadily climbing up in the rankings, but with your support, I know it can get boosted considerably. For those of you who have read some of my book, and believe in it, all you have to do is sign up to the site, and then click, “back this book,” on my book page, and it will be added to your “bookshelf.” The more, and the longer, our book remains on bookshelves, the higher the ranking (star ratings also help). Would you consider helping me and my husband out on this? Here’s the link to the site: http://authonomy.com/ and here’s the link to our book page: http://authonomy.com/books/55968/seven-sentinels-the-sword-and-the-acumen/

Thank you so much for your support!

Grace to you,

Natasha


Writer, is your hero worth my time?

I recently wrote a guest post entitled Is Your Hero Worthy of Readers? World- building and all that cool stuff is important, but if you don’t have a lovable hero, your readers will put the book down.

Check out the post here.

What are your thoughts on the subject? Have any pointers to share on making a hero worth reading? Feel free to share them in a comment.


Who’d a thunk I’d write what I’m currently writing

Growing up I had been a reader. I not only enjoyed reading, but storytelling. I was the little girl who won certificates for her FCAT reading and writing scores and drew pretty pictures to accompany my stories.

As I reached middle school, I continued to read, but writing became less of a hobby, and by the time I hit high school, forget about it. I took my honors writing assignments seriously and read a few books, but my obsession with guys had overshadowed many of my previous hobbies.

The only books I read my high school years were class-assigned ones, the Twilight series, and the first and second books of James Paterson’s Maximum Ride series. Yeah, I’d written several unassigned works; poems for and about my ex-boyfriend.

So why am I telling you all this? So God receives the glory for what He’s done and is currently doing.

After I surrendered my whole heart to Him on February 22nd, 2009, He not only healed me of the broken-heart my ex left me with, but He restored in me a new passion for writing.

See, although I enjoyed reading and writing, I really loved acting. After two years of relationship distractions, I finally auditioned and got accepted into the drama magnet program. I believed I’d someday become a famous actress, and that is all I desired to pursue. But after that midnight-surrendering in February, I suddenly got struck with an idea for a film, and no more than two months later, my sister and I had written a full-length screenplay, and it dawned on me: I’m not only an actress, but God is also calling me to be a writer.

Soon after, in March, I met my dream prince, the man who is now my husband. I thought our divinely-constructed meeting and relationship was so awesome I decided to write a book on it. Within a year of being married, I completed over 100,000 words.

I was in awe. Here I had believed I was solely an actress, but God had transformed me into a full-fledged writer (mind you, the book was terribly written, being that it wasn’t until after that I read five books on the craft and attended two conferences, but either way, I was now a legit writer).

Two-and-a-half years ago I was sitting in a prophetic church and while the pastor was teaching, God birthed a story in my heart: The Seven, a fantasy trilogy with seven main characters each representing one of the seven Spirits of God written of in the book of Isaiah.
I was flabbergasted. Me, write a fantasy trilogy? I kinda liked the James Paterson sci-fi, but not enough to finish the series, and the only fantasy books I’d read were from the Harry Potter series. I was not a Lord of the Rings fan (but now after re-watching them last year I totally am), I just didn’t desire reading fantasy novels, yet here was God, giving me a fantasy trilogy to write.

Knowing I was out of my league, it took me over a month to work up the courage to start writing it. But I did, and here I am two-and-a-half years later, working on book two and loving it.
I’m twenty-three-years-old, writing a young adult, high-fantasy trilogy with only the Harry Potter books tucked in my brain from when I was in middle school. Isn’t that cool? Doesn’t God get the credit for concocting such a preposterous notion?

How about you? What are you currently working on? Have any funny or ironic writing-tales you’d like to bless me with? Please feel free to share them in a comment.
Until next time, write on!


Writer, what will your legacy be?

As I was brushing my teeth, it dawned on me: through blogging, I am leading a legacy. One day my future children will be able to go back and read every single thing I’ve written online. So it got me thinking, what legacy are you leaving behind? What are your blogs about? Are they self-centered, other-centered, thing-centered, or God-centered? Or are you just all over the place? Why do you choose to write? What compels you, what inspires you, what keeps you going? Because writing isn’t for the faint of heart. It can be grueling. But if you have a divine purpose for doing it, it’s incredible.
It’s one thing to do something because you have a passion for it. It’s an entirely other thing to have a passion for God and know He’s called you and desires to use you to impact and change the lives of others for eternity. That’s passion to an almost incomprehensible degree.
My mind can barely wrap itself around the fact that God has gifted me for His divine will and purposes. Who am I, this mere dust-matter who is microscopic through the lens of this insanely vast universe, that God would mold me with a gift and then inspire me to use it to bring others to a clearer revelation of Himself, to send some divine message that will penetrate their hearts or piqué their interest in seeking Him out?
Who am I that the Master Storyteller has granted me the high honor of experiencing some of the awesome creativity that goes into the art of storytelling?
That’s the clincher: I am nothing but a sinner. It is only by His great love that I can experience anything good at all. It is only by His incredible love that I live, that I know He exists, that I write.
The Creator of the universe is my All-Consuming Fire, the light by which I am able to see and comprehend anything I think I comprehend. It is by His grace alone that I desire to write, that there is a flame in my heart called life, that motivates and compels me by His love.
So here I am, writing a legacy that I pray leaves an eternal mark in the hearts of my readers. I write for Him. I write for them.
What do you write for?


What Message Has God Given You To Write?

I have been in the presence of some Christian writers who scoffed at the idea of God writing through someone. When sharing how I pray before I write, trusting God’s Holy Spirit to work through me, some do not believe God will do this. But might I kindly remind you, beloved, that the Scriptures say in Colossians 1:29 that God is “working mightily” within us.
Jesus Himself also spoke of the Holy Spirit giving us words:

“But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.” (Matthew 10:19, 20)

Apostle Paul also taught that the Holy Spirit gives us words:

“For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed …” (Romans 15:18)

And the prophet Jeremiah …

“Then I said, “Ah, Lord God ! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, “I am only a youth”; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord.” Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said to me, “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.” (Jeremiah 1:6-9)

God used ordinary people all throughout history as messengers to deliver His words to others, and God continues to do this today.

Now, I’m not saying everything a Christian writes is inspired by God. If your motives are jacked up, God isn’t writing through you. But if your heart is humble, and you desire to simply get His truth across, to deliver a message, there are times He gives you a message to share.
Sometimes, I write simply out of emotion, and every time I do, I have to go back and trash the thing. Jeremiah 17 tells us the heart is deceitful above all things, and Apostle Paul said the love of Christ compelled him. I’ve come to learn that writing from sheer emotions is not God compelling you to write. I might have genuinely been stirred about something disturbing I’d seen, an injustice of sorts, but immediately speaking out on it afterwards always came across wrongly.
When it is the love of Christ compelling you, there is a huge difference, and you see the fruit of the work in that it is impacting others for the better, revealing something to them, speaking to their hearts.
But many times, when God gives you a message to deliver, it’s not really something you want to do. It’s usually, from an earthly mindset, way over your head. Just as Moses disputed with God when He told him to deliver a message to Pharoh and then exodus the people of Israel from Egypt. Or when God told Jonah to deliver a message to the Ninevites; he hopped on a boat and fled in the opposite direction! And when God called teenage Jeremiah, as I mentioned before, he protested that he was too young and didn’t know how to speak.
I myself am certain the fantasy trilogy I’m currently working on is a message God wants me to deliver. How do I know this? When the idea got dropped into my mind, I was sitting in a prophetic church. Suddenly, while the pastor is teaching, the title “The Seven” randomly enters my mind and immediately, I know it’s a fantasy trilogy with seven characters who each resemble one of the seven Spirits of God–a verse I never thought about.
I was totally insecure. I thought, me, write a fantasy novel? Here I am, twenty-two-years-old, totally not a fantasy book reader, only having written nonfiction pieces about relationships from my personal experience, and God is telling me to write a fantasy book. I wasn’t even a Lord of the Rings Fan yet! My dad read The Hobbit to my sister, not me. Sure I read the Harry Potter books back when I was like ten-years-old, but I never got hooked on any dragon-and-knight-type stuff.
It took me a month to finally sit in front of the computer and begin typing the story. I knew that I knew nothing about writing fantasy and never desired to write fantasy. But because of those very reasons and the way it came to me, I knew it was not my idea. Now here I am, already working on book two, and knowing where book three is heading and how it’s all going to end. I envision it as an epic movie while I’m writing. I know what actors would be perfect for the main characters. It’s quite exhilarating.
So yes, I believe God still gives us messages to deliver to certain audiences. He has a specific message for teens and He chose me to give it to them.
As Christians, God gives all of us a message to share. Universally, we all carry the gospel, but then more personally, He uses us to give more specific messages. He’s used me to speak about the topic of relationships and marriage. What message has He given you to share?

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Superhero movies affirm God’s Existence

Did you want to see The Dark Knight, The Avengers, or Superman? Lets admit, these superhero movies are quite popular. But why? My answer: they prod at the very fibers of our being because deep down, we all yearn for a Savior.

Superhero movies affirm that there’s a God. So many of us go spend our twelve to twenty dollars (or more if you’re with family), to see a distinct hero save the world.

Now please consider this: What religion besides Biblical Christianity is themed around the salvation of the world? One man who comes to earth as a Hero, a Savior to the world for all who accept Him as that and turn from their sins? We humans care so much about the idea of world-saving because just as we naturally agree with the Ten Commandments–lying, envy, theft, murder etc. is wrong–because they’re written on our hearts, so this grandiose concept of saving the world is etched on our hearts, placed there by the Creator of the world.
Even the whole good guy versus bad guy thing. We can’t wait to see the bad guy go down and rejoice with the victory of the hero because this is indeed what will happen at the end of God’s story: Jesus leads an army and with the mere breath of His mouth destroys Satan.
If we’re just the product of evolution–animals that can somehow think, judge, have opinions, and feel love and compassion toward others–why do we care if the good guy or bad guy wins? Who cares if the immoral one wins, survival of the fittest right? If he has the power to destroy all weaker animals (humans) under him, why would we get angry? He is just the ultimate display of a completely evolved animal, getting rid of the weaker links and conquering territory.
But we do care. We do want Darth Vadar [Star Wars], Bain [The Dark Knight Rises] and Red Skull [Captain America] to go down. And this is because we are truly made in the image of a Good and Just God who sent a Hero to save the world and makes sure this Good Guy and everyone who’s with Him wins in the end.