Armor of Aletheia: Interview with Ralene Burke

I’m excited to host author Ralene Burke today as part of the blog tour for her new fantasy novel, Armor of Aletheia.

Ralene and I caught up, and I got to pelt her with questions about life, writing, and everything in between.

Jebraun: Yay! I’m so happy you’re here. First of all, the cover is stunning. The gate! The mountains! The purple!!

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Now. I want to hear about your journey with this new story. There are so many steps to writing (and publishing!) a novel from the thrill of the first draft to the joy of seeing your book on a bookshop shelf. What are some highlights from a few of the steps of Armor of Aletheia?

Ralene: Armor of Aletheia was a long project for me. We had a lot of personal things going on throughout the writing/editing process, so it took a long time. So finishing each step was a huge accomplishment, a reason for celebration. It was also the story that snagged both my agent and my first publisher. Woot! Which then turned this into my first traditionally published novel. The best part so far has been the reader’s reactions. It has been such a blessing to me to see how the readers are relating to the characters, to their situations, and that the story is staying with them. That’s all I want with these stories that live in my heart.

J: That has to be so satisfying for you. Let’s dig into the story. Any settings or characters based on real places or people?

R: No, not really. Well, except Karina, the main character, is a lot like me and her journey echoes mine. I wanted people to know my journey, to see my discoveries, and maybe that would help them in their own lives, with their own journey.

J: I love this! This is why we write, isn’t it? So good to hear that your story is touching those who read it. What about some of the deeper points about Armor of Aletheia. What themes really resonate in this story?

R: Embracing who you are. We were all created for a purpose, something that only we can fulfill. But oftentimes, we resist that calling for one reason or another. Maybe we’re scared, maybe we don’t feel worthy, maybe there’s something standing in our way like finances, education, obligations, etc. But it’s important that we find and embrace who we were meant to be. That’s when and where we will shine the brightest!

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J: Yes! So good. Learning lessons like these are challenging though it’s satisfying to pass them on. Obviously, this knowledge has been hard-earned. But you managed to capture it and put it down on paper. I’d like to hear about what inspires you. What feeds your soul? How do you refresh yourself creatively?

R: Reading good books, watching great TV shows/movies, listening to amazing music. I’m really influenced by other people’s art. It inspires me.

J: I’m right there with you. What about sustenance for your body, haha. What’s your favourite snacks or drinks whilst writing?

R: Dark chocolate M&Ms and a big glass of iced tea. That’s how I accomplish those crazy 10k days!

J: Mmmm. Sounds perfect. To end here, do you have any wise words of advice for a newbie writer?

R: It’s important that you learn your craft. Be sure to study the art of writing from many sources. But don’t forget to write, write, write. And then write some more.

J: Thanks for joining me today, Ralene. Godspeed and best of luck as your story  gets out there in the world!

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You’re invited to celebrate with Ralene at her book launch for Armor of Aletheia on Facebook. Chat with her and other authors, and there will be prizes! RSVP here.


Whether she’s wielding a fantasy writer’s pen, a social media wand, or a freelance editor’s sword, Ralene Burke always has her head in some dreamer’s world. And her goal is to help everyone SHINE BEYOND their circumstances! Her novels, Bellanok and Armor of Aletheia are available on Amazon.

When her head’s not in the publishing world, she is wife to a veteran and homeschooling mama to their three kids. Her Pinterest board would have you believe she is a master chef, excellent seamstress, and all around crafty diva. If she only had the time . . .

Connect with Ralene on FacebookInstagramTwitter, or at her website.


Jebraun Clifford always wanted to step through a door into an imaginary kingdom, so it’s no surprise she now calls Middle Earth home. Too short to be an elf and too tall to be a Hobbit, she lives smack-dab in the centre of New Zealand’s North Island in a town filled with thermal activity, stunning lakes, and enough Redwoods to make her Californian heart swoon. She writes about discovering identity, living without fear, and enjoys creating fantastic worlds. Her unpublished YA fantasy, The Two Queens of Kyrie, won both the American Christian Fiction Writer’s 2015 First Impressions contest and the 2016 Genesis contest. She loves coffee, tree ferns, dark chocolate, and Jesus, and harbours a secret penchant for British spelling.

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I give away an e-book and fabulous New Zealand chocolate in every one.

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Interview with Author Laurie Lucking

I love a good anthology. A single book with a bunch of short stories all with a similar theme, especially a fantasy one?!? Sign me up!

When the opportunity to interview an author of such a short story belonging to such an anthology presented itself, I pounced on it.

Laurie Lucking happens to be on online friend of mine. We both belong to ACFW and Realm Makers, we’re in the same critique group, and we might be working on a top-secret project of our own 😉 She’s also the author of the amazing YA fantasy romance, Common, to boot.

We sat down (virtually, of course) and discussed her short story for the Mythical Doorways blog tour.

Mythical Doorways Blog Tour Banner.jpgJeb: How is writing and publishing this short story different from your experience publishing your novel? 

Laurie: I find writing short stories to be a refreshing break from full-length novels. There are fewer characters and subplots to worry about, and it’s so encouraging to be able to complete a project over the course of a month instead of a year! (Yes, I’m a slow writer.) I also feel like I can be more experimental with my world-building in short stories, because it only has to work over the course of ~10,000 words instead of an entire book or series. The satisfaction of a novel is getting to know the characters and setting so much better, the opportunity to show more character growth, and tying together all the different story threads. So it’s nice to write some of each!

As far as the publishing experience, the anthology has come together so quickly! The editing process wasn’t quite as extensive, and since things like theme and cover design were determined before any stories were even submitted, it made for a much more streamlined process. It’s been fun and interesting to work as a group to tweak the back-cover blurb and make other marketing decisions, and I’m so grateful for H.L. Burke’s leadership and guidance throughout! Working with my publisher on Common gave me more influence in some ways because it incorporated my individual input instead of a whole group, but there my publisher had the final say, where for the anthology we’ve been encouraged to take responsibility for our individual stories. I’ve learned a lot through each process and would be happy to repeat both types of publication in the future!

J: Did it take long to decide on an idea that fit the theme or was it an easy brainstorm? 

I actually hadn’t planned to take part in this anthology because I had too many other projects going, but a story idea came to me anyway so of course I had to write it! It started with an attic door in someone’s closet that was actually a portal to a Neverland kind of fantasy world. The idea for the central conflict of the story came several days later when my husband and I watched the episode of Doctor Who called “Amy’s Choice” (Series 5). In the show, Amy is faced with a decision about which reality she wants—an ordinary existence with her fiancé or continued adventures with the Doctor in his TARDIS. Suddenly I was brainstorming more about my character with the portal in her closet. What if that portal were going to close, and she had to choose where to spend the rest of her life? From there, the themes of growing up and finding a place in the world fell into place pretty easily.

J: Favourite story in this anthology and why, besides yours 😉 

L: Ooh, that’s so hard! I read the entire anthology a few weeks ago and the stories are fabulous! “Everwild” by J.M. Hackman was beautifully written, H.L. Burke’s “Jericho and the Magician’s Daughter” was so fun and creative, and “The Hallway of Three Doors” by D.G. Driver was like a brand-new fairy tale, with a bit of surprise romance thrown in! But I think my favorite was “Idiot’s Graveyard” by Arthur Daigle, though I wasn’t necessarily expecting it based on the title! I loved “Idiot’s Graveyard” because the main characters, Dana and Jayden (a Sorcerer Lord), had such a fun friendship. They clearly cared about each other, but had lots of witty interactions—it reminded me a bit of Doctor Who and his companions (yes, I do realize that’s already my second Doctor Who reference…). And the world-building was very cool, especially the situation at the tower and the way they worked together to stop it.

This anthology has such a great variety of stories that I really think there will be something for everyone!

J: Finish this sentence: If I were an imaginary creature, I would be a…


Mermaid! I’ve always loved the water, and swimming would be so much more fun if I didn’t have to worry about coming up for air all the time. What an amazing way to explore the ocean! Plus, my hair is always a disaster after I’ve been swimming, but apparently for mermaids it just floats around and looks pretty, at least according to Disney 🙂 And I love to sing, so I think I’d feel right at home among Ariel and her sisters!

J: Thanks for joining me, Laurie. Can’t wait to read your story!

L: Thank you so much for inviting me to visit, Jebraun! I hope you enjoy the anthology as much as I did!

J: Don’t forget to check out the Facebook party and find a link for the FREE e-book below!

Mythical Doorways
Step through portals and into adventure as the authors of the Fellowship of Fantasy take you on another journey into fantastic worlds. Travel through time, space, and realities to encounter monsters, mechanical foxes, and the Fates themselves. You’ll fly with dragons, save implausible beasts, and perhaps find your true home. Choose your path wisely, for dangers lurk in the lands beyond. 

In the third anthology from the Fellowship of Fantasy, eleven authors promise you journeys into fairy lands hidden within the modern world, futuristic universities, and lands of ancient myth. So what are you waiting for? Cross through our Doorways for the adventure of a lifetime!

Purchase Link

Download the e-book (free to download starting March 27th) at your favorite digital store!

Mythical Doorways Authors

Katy Huth Jones
D. G. Driver
Lauren Lynch
H.L. Burke
Savannah Jezowski
A. J. Bakke
Laurie Lucking
Jenelle Schmidt
Arthur Daigle
Bokerah Bromley
J.M. Hackman

(Click the author to learn more about them and their books!)

The Fellowship of Fantasy and Deep Magic E-Zine have joined together to offer you an awesome paperback giveaway! Dive into eleven new worlds by entering to win a paperback of Mythical Doorways! (US only.)

About Deep Magic E-Zine: The name Deep Magic pays homage to C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia. Deep Magic is a quarterly e-zine dedicated to creating a safe place for minds to wander in the worlds and universe of SFF. We want all who visit to feel welcome and confident that they will encounter professionally written fiction of the highest quality that is safe for all to read.

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Facebook Party Information

Fellowship of Fantasy is celebrating their third short story anthology release, Mythical Doorways with a Facebook Party!

Whether they open onto new worlds or just new opportunities, doorways allow us to step through and uncover great adventures, discoveries, and risks.

Where will these Mythical Doorways take you?

Grab your favorite drink and snack on March 29th at 8 PM EST (7 PM CST and 5 PM PST) and be prepared for a fun time of chatting with multiple authors, games, and giveaways!


Jebraun Clifford always wanted to step through a door into an imaginary kingdom, so it’s no surprise she now calls Middle Earth home. Too short to be an elf and too tall to be a Hobbit, she lives smack-dab in the centre of New Zealand’s North Island in a town filled with thermal activity, stunning lakes, and enough Redwoods to make her Californian heart swoon. She writes about discovering identity, living without fear, and enjoys creating fantastic worlds. Her unpublished YA fantasy, The Two Queens of Kyrie, won both the American Christian Fiction Writer’s 2015 First Impressions contest and the 2016 Genesis contest. She loves coffee, tree ferns, dark chocolate, and Jesus, and harbours a secret penchant for British spelling.

Sign up for my newsletter. I give away an e-book in every one!

Getting to Know Author Kimberly McNeil

Interviewing authors is always fun. You get a behind-the-scenes peek at a creative brain at work.

I sat down (virtually, of course. Oh, the Internet. Bless) with Amy Williams, who writes under the pen name Kimberly McNeil, about her Young Adult Fantasy, Meg Mitchell & the Secret of the Journal, for a leg of her blog tour celebrating this new release.

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Jebraun: Hi Amy…erm…Kimberly…erm…

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Kimberly: People usually give me really funny looks when I promote Meg Mitchell & The Secret of the Journal. They look at the cover and then at me and say, “But your name isn’t Kimberly McNeil!” No, it’s not. But Kimberly McNeil is the name I use for writing the Lightkeepers series.

J: Then I’ll stick with Kimberly, okay? Let’s jump right in, shall we? What’s your favourite though often under-appreciated novel?

K: I love Ishmael by Barbara Hambly. It’s an old original-series Star Trek novel where Spock travels back in time and forgets who he is, and he has to fit in with humans in 1800s era Seattle. It’s absolutely brilliant storytelling, but it’s often sidelined because it’s just “a Star Trek” book. But those kinds of genre stories are what first introduced me to writing and made me love the art of storytelling.

J: I love it! I remember as a teenager devouring a novel based on the screenplay of The Empire Strikes Back, and I was thoroughly entertained.

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A good story is a good story, amiright? You’re a storyteller. What’s the best thing you’ve found to overcome writer’s block?

K: Taking a walk and talking to myself. Well, technically, I’m taking a walk and talking to my characters. Whenever I hit a wall in my writing, generally it’s because I’m trying to force my characters to do something they don’t want to do. So I step away from my work and ask them why they’re behaving like stubborn children, and most of the them I get an answer back. Then, I redesign the scene or—this just happened recently—completely start over and let them tell me what they want to do. I know that sounds insane, but that’s my process.

J: No, actually it makes a lot of sense. Our characters sure can have a mind of their own. So, if you could visit any imaginary literary world, which one would it be?

K: Maybe I should pick someone else’s literary world (like Hogwarts or Camp Half-Blood), but if I had to choose an imaginary world to visit, I’d absolutely want to visit my own. The Andarian Dimension from the Lightkeepers series is the one place I’m not sure I’d ever want to leave. The pure natural beauty, the quirky cultures who live there, the ancient history and ruins? Golly, it would be the most awesome adventure ever, as long as you stay away from the Centaurs.

J: Ooooh…ruins are always adventurous to explore. I like your loyalty to your world. And I’ll keep your warning about Centaurs in mind as I read. You’ve got quite the cast of characters which can be tricky to give them all unique personalities. Any real-life quirky habits or traits (yours or someone you know) that you’ve given a character?

K: I started writing the Legend of the Lightkeepers series when I was 11 years old, and without really meaning to, I actually wrote in characters based on people I knew. It wasn’t intentional. I think as a child I just saw qualities and characteristics in the people around me that I liked, and I used those things when I created some of my favorite characters.

The best example is probably Jim Taylor, the brilliant nerdy teenage detective who can’t walk three steps without tripping over his own feet. He’s scary smart, super clumsy, and really protective of his big sister Barb, even though he really can’t do anything to protect her. Without really meaning to, I based Jim on my little brother Andy. A friend actually had to point it out to me because I didn’t even realize it, but Andy and Jim are basically the same person. So whenever I am at a loss for what Jim would do in a scene, I just think about how my brother would act or what my brother would do. It’s really handy.

J: Eleven year old? Wow! So this has been a dream for a long time. And now it’s out in print. Very exciting. Every author would love to see their story on the big screen. Who’s your ‘dream cast’ for a few of your characters from Meg Mitchell & the Secret of the Journal if it were made into a movie?

K: Oh my goodness, there are so many. The trouble, though, with choosing a dream cast for a series that’s this old? Well, most of the original people I picked to represent my characters are now way too old for the roles, so I’ve had to go back and pick some new ones.

The best actress I have ever found to represent Meg Mitchell is Ayla Kell. She has the look and face shape and the general bearing I’ve always seen for Meg.


The best choice in my mind for Barb Taylor is Katherine McNamara. Again, she’s got the face shape and attitude I’ve always attributed to Barb.


That being said, the original actress I used to represent Barb was Annie Wersching, and to this day, I still think she’s the best choice. So maybe in future books, I could use her as an adult Barb?

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And, just because he’s so important, the actor I have always seen playing Ronnie Akkard is a guy named Thomas Dekker. Obviously, he doesn’t have blue hair and silver eyes like Ronnie does, but he’s got the punk feel down.


I have tons of others. Folders and folders and folders full of reference images. Someday soon I’ll be doing character profiles on my website, and I’ll put them all up for people to see.

J: I love your choices. It’s fun to see who you think your characters look like! Okay, time to move away from the novel and ask a really personal question. Fill in the blank: I could eat *favourite food* every day.

K: Here’s the deal. I love food. The only food item I don’t love is turnips. I could eat pizza every day. I could eat tacos every day. I could eat Indian food every day. Sushi too. And ice cream. And chocolate. I love ethnic cuisine and love trying new things. So as long as it doesn’t have turnips in it, I’m game. (Just kidding. I’ll even try turnips again. Maybe. If you pay me.)

J: Okay. Now I’m hungry! Think I’ll grab a snack before we finish this up…

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And I don’t think I’ve ever eaten turnips. They are a funny looking vegetable, aren’t they? Thanks so much, Kimberly, for chatting with me. Best of luck with your new book!

If your interest is piqued, here’s a little blurb about Meg Mitchell & the Secret of the Journal. Plus an intriguing cover that reminds me how much I love the Golden Gate Bridge.

Stories never end. They just get bigger.

You only have to turn the page.


Meg Mitchell lives in a castle, but she’s no wilting princess. Raised in an alien world by adoptive parents, she spends her time fighting Centaurs, training as an Andai warrior, and chilling in her favorite willow tree.

But when Meg uncovers her birth father’s journal, she discovers a cousin she didn’t know existed. Meg and her little brother and sister travel through an inter-dimensional rip to San Francisco to search for their cousin, setting off a chain of events no one could have foreseen.

When her sister is kidnapped, Meg enlists the help of teenage detective Barb Taylor and her genius little brother Jim. Following clues dropped by a mysterious benefactor, they embark on a cross-country adventure to rescue her sister and find Meg’s cousin.

Family is everything to Meg, but not all is as it seems. In her quest to reunite her family, she may lose more than she ever imagined.

You can find Meg Mitchell & the Secret of the Journal at:

AmazonBarnes & Noble, or at Crosshair Press

Check out the reviews on Goodreads.

A.C. WilliamsAmy Williams is a novelist, freelance writer, founding member of Crosshair Press LLC, and professional nerd. You can find most of her work under the name A.C. Williams, but she also writes young adult fantasy (The Legend of the Lightkeepers) under the pen name Kimberly McNeil. Amy is single and lives in her family’s 100-year-old farmhouse on five acres in the middle of the Kansas prairie. She loves cats and drinks far too much coffee.

Connect with Amy!

Website |Facebook |Twitter|Instagram|Google Plus

Want to dive into a new world? Enter to win an e-copy of Kimberly McNeil’s Meg Mitchell & The Secret of the Journal as well as get a preview of her upcoming short story Stan Hawthorne & The Broken Sword. (Open internationally.

Don’t miss the rest of the blog tour!

Wednesday, November 1st   

Thursday, November 2nd  

Friday, November 3rd  

Saturday, November 4th  

Monday, November 6th  

Tuesday, November 7th    

Wednesday, November 8th

Thursday, November 9th

Friday, November 10th

Jebraun-Clifford-LR-3Jebraun Clifford always wanted to step through a door into an imaginary kingdom, so it’s no surprise she now calls Middle Earth home. Too short to be an elf and too tall to be a Hobbit, she lives in a gorgeous town smack-dab in the centre of New Zealand’s North Island filled with thermal activity,
stunning lakes, and enough Redwoods to make her Californian heart swoon. Her unpublished YA fantasy, The Two Queens of Kyrie, won both the American Christian Fiction Writer’s 2015 First Impressions contest and the 2016 Genesis contest. She loves coffee, tree ferns, dark chocolate, and Jesus, and harbours a secret penchant for British spelling.

Have you signed up for my newsletter? I give away an e-book in every one!