Friday, May 24, 2013

Imagining the Books of the Infinite world (Revised from Scavenger Hunt)

When I realized I’d been dragged into writing inspirational fantasy fiction, my first, most complicated task was to imagine an entire fantasy world to frame the Books of the Infinite series. I didn't want to slow down the action with tons of detail, but I did need to create a complete and complex world for my beloved characters. Where did I begin? With a continent. After studying maps of ancient countries, including Israel, Egypt, Rome, and Greece, I sketched out my imaginary continent—shown here in parchment and ink by Katharin Fiscaletti, who created all the drawings in this post.

 With the boundaries in place, I pondered the next step. What sorts of creatures inhabited this new, imaginary world? Legendary beasts, of course. Leviathans. Lindorms. Griffins. And a few creatures unique to this new continent, such as the ferocious, carnivorous Scaln, portrayed here in all its crimson glory. *Shivers.* Let me just say that Katharin frightened me with this particular sketch!

With my landscapes and beasts all sketched, I imagined my characters. People who might have lived during my imaginary world’s Biblical era. What did they eat? What did they drink? What sort of clothes did they wear? Were there variations in language and clothes between each country? I drew upon my knowledge of ancient lands, and my personal library of history books and decided upon the “look” for my characters, as well as their manners and customs. This world, I decided must be primarily Biblical in flavor, with hints of Earth’s own ancient cultures—leading to more research for details I loved and added to my story. To clothe my characters, I sought colorful examples from our own world. Who knew that the exotic saris of modern India were inspired by garments from ancient Greece?

For interest, and because my collection of medieval research books rival any public library’s shelves, the Bethany House team and I agreed to add a bit of medieval flare, which is evident on the cover of King in Akabe’s long tunic sleeves, and his formidable two handed sword, known here on Earth as a claymore. The final result…a unique Biblical-fantasy world that Bethany House Publishers and I hope you enjoy as you read King!

Thursday, May 16, 2013


Welcome to the 2013 Summer Scavenger Hunt! This hunt has 32 stops and runs 5/17-5/19/13. You can make the loop, reading unique content from 31 different authors, and if you complete the loop, and fill out the Rafflecopter form at Stop #32, you'll be in the running for an iPad Mini (loaded with all our books), or one of two runner-up prizes---all 31 of our new releases in paperback. In addition, some authors are offering additional prizes, so be sure to read each post thoroughly to be in the running for all that are available. The contest is open internationally.

If you've JUST discovered the hunt, I recommend you begin at the beginning, Stop #1, found at But you can also begin here, and keep on rolling. Just be aware that you have to have the COMPLETED phrase in order, which you construct gathering the clue at each stop, within 24 hours of email notification from Lisa Bergren that you won. If Lisa doesn't hear back from you with the correct phrase within the time limit, she will move on to the next winner Rafflecopter draws. Ready? Here we go...

Tracy L. Higley!

I'm thrilled to host Tracy L. Higley for this scavenger hunt--huzzah!!!  Tracy's latest book, So Shines the Night, is in the same genre I'd be penning if I weren't writing Biblical fantasy fiction. Tracy is a phenomenal writer and an altogether terrific person, so count me in as one of Tracy's fans!

For those of you who haven't heard of Tracy yet, here's her official bio:
Tracy L. Higley started her first novel at the age of eight and has been hooked on writing ever since. She has authored nine novels, including Garden of Madness and Isle of Shadows. Tracy is currently pursuing a graduate degree in Ancient History and has traveled through Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Italy, researching her novels and falling into adventures. See her travel journals and more at

Tracy is known for digging into her research--sometimes literally! For So Shines the Night, Tracy traveled to Ephesus, and she's sharing a video clip of her latest adventure; I'm eager to see what Tracy found, and I'm delighted to share it with you today.

Tracy's Adventures in Ephesus 
In the Footsteps of Paul

When I jumped into the challenge of writing So Shines the Night, a first-century suspense novel that would feature Paul and Timothy, Priscilla and Aquila, and the demonic darkness facing the New Testament church, I already had the whole city of Ephesus imagined in my mind.

That's because I had already walked the city streets, breathed in the Ephesus air, and lingered at the site of the massive Temple of Artemis. And then while writing the novel, I was able to go back and visit a second time!

Ephesus was once a thriving port city, with a harbor that brought exotic silks, jewels and spices from the east and passed them along to the Roman Empire in the west, hungry for luxuries. As the years went by, deposits of silt clogged the harbor, and the entire city was abandoned and lost, left for archaeologists to discover and explore centuries later.

And what a time I had exploring! My husband and I were part of a tour group from our cruise ship, but it quickly became clear that I needed to do my own research and break away from the group. I kept moving backward, branching off, and lingering behind. Our tour guide was not pleased! At one point, she called out above the heads of our group - "We're going this way! You need to keep up!" Embarrassed, I moved to the edge of the group and explained that I was writing a book, and we were planning to abandon them completely and find our own way back to the ship. Clearly, she thought we were crazy!

But I needed time to absorb it all, to take notes and to take videos. The city was the site of one of the most memorable incidents in the book of Acts - the near-riot of the silversmiths who wanted to see Paul dead for hampering their business of pagan souvenir-selling.

For a first-hand look at the theater where it happened, watch this one-minute video:

You can read the story in Acts 19, but I invite you to explore Tracy's Travels on my website, to see the streets, temples, and grand amphitheater where it all took place.

And I hope you'll explore more of So Shines the Night as well - read an excerpt or the back cover. It's a novel that will transport you to this magnificent ancient city, where one woman fights the darkness that threatens to destroy everyone she loves.

Tracy L. Higley's new release, So Shines the Night, is a Biblical novel detailing the events in ACTS, chapter 19, and I'm adding it to my TBR list! It is available at bookstores or online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Christian Book Distributors, and elsewhere.


Write down this clue: Beliefs. 
Have it written down? Great! Now head on over to Tracy L. Higley's page, Stop #16 for the next clue! Thanks for stopping by!

Follow R. J. Larson's blog, or "Like" R. J.'s Facebook page for a chance to win the complete Books of the Infinite trilogy!

a Rafflecopter giveaway