Nadine & Books: an interview w/ Nadine Brandes

Hey everyone,

I’ve very excited to have with me today Nadine Brandes; Carol award winning author of A Time to Die and soon to be released A Time to Speak. Today we are discussing all things books: So put on your Geek Cap and join the conversation in the comments below.

So Nadine, let’s start off with a few of your favorites. I’m always interested to hear what other writers both like to read and hate…

What were some of your favorite books you read while growing up…?

I loved Narnia and Nancy Drew. Those were my main reads for a long time until Harry Potter came out. Then I became the kid who stalked J K Rowling’s writing updates, waiting for her to publish the next book. Even though they can be controversial in Christian circles, God used them to inspire me to see the power of good versus evil. He used it to awaken a love for fantasy in me.

Do you ever find yourself re-reading, or planning to re-read any particular book or series…?

I try to re-read Lord of the Rings every January as well as Francine Rivers’ The Mark of the Lion Series. Obviously, I re-read Harry Potter, but I don’t plan it out. I read it when I’m in the mood and also read them aloud to hubby. J

What genres do you like best or see yourself gravitating towards more…?

I used to think I was a fantasy girl, but then when I made a list of all my favorite movies and books…I realized I liked sci-fi much more than I thought. Besides, my books are technically sci fi. But when I’m picking up a book from the library or bookstore, it’s usually YA fantasy or YA sci-fi.

Any particular genres you dislike…?

Romance. *hides* Okay, it’s not awful. Actually the Christian romance has gotten much better these days. But when I was growing up it was all far too cheesy, unrealistic, and cliché. I grew very disenchanted and frustrated with the genre and I guess that carried over into my adult years. I still get irritated with unrealistic romance in YA novels.

So, hopefully I didn’t just make a bunch of enemies since Romance is the top genre in the CBA.

What about Covers, you have incredible covers; any particular covers stand out for you…?

I can take no credit for Kirk Douponce’s brilliance, but I’m sure glad he was assigned to my books! I’m a picky reader when it comes to covers (and I totally judge books by them) so I’m glad I ended up with covers to my own books that I ADORE.

Some of my favorite covers are:

Curio, by Evangeline Denmark (also by Kirk DouPonce)

Plenilune, by Jennifer Freitag

Throne of Glass, by Sara J Maas

Walk on Earth a Stranger, by Rae Carson

Those are the books that I pick up just for the covers. I haven’t actually read any of them yet, but I hope they match the awesomeness of their covers! 😀

Let’s talk Characters a moment- Who are some of your favorite fictional characters…?

I love Merlin, from BBC’s TV show Merlin, Hadassah from Mark of the Lion, Harry Potter (duh), Achan from Jill Williamson’s Blood of Kings Series, and Francis from the movie The Greatest Game Ever Played.

These are all characters who had to overcome overwhelming odds. Some of them were born with talents, some weren’t. But they’re all courageous and brave, pushing forward through the toughest adversity. I love them all dearly.

I love anti heroes or the ones you’re just not sure you can trust but end up being good. (Snape is one of my favorites.) What about you, any particular anti-heroes you just love…?

You took my favorite. 😛 SNAPE! By the way, before the last book came out, I always believed he’d be good. Just saying.

Edmund from Narnia. While I hated him in The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, I love how passionate he becomes for following Aslan.

Atretes from The Mark of the Lion Series.

What about villains. What stands out as a great villain..? Is there one that has ever just kind of frightened you…?

Maleficent! Maleficent has always been, in my opinion, right up there next to Voldemort. She’s scary and horrible (until Disney released a new version of her and now this example will simply never work.)

I get angry with Characters sometimes. There have been a few I find myself wanting to slap upside the head and knock some sense into. You ever come across a character you just want to say: “Why are you doing that…?” If so, who would that be…?

Any character who’s making a stupid decision. You know the ones: “So-and-so just told you not to trust that evil villain…and now you’re trusting him?!” Or if they have a secret that will save the world, but decide not to tell anyone.

To name a few: Tris Prior from Divergent, Thomas from The Maze Runner, Bella during all the Twilight books, Vrell from From Darkness Won (though I still loved her. :D)

I hate a bad ending to a book. And I have read several. What makes you unhappy about endings…? What do not want to see at the end of a book…?

Hopelessness! (*Curse you, Mockingjay*) There always needs to be a nugget of hope. Because in life, there’s always a nugget of hope. And the moment we lose that in our fiction is when we start feeding our readers lies about life and present them only with darkness.

I also hate endings that don’t fit the story or seem to random to bring in the “shock factor” (*Curse you, Merlin.*)

Okay, your series “The Out of Time Series” is Dystopian. I love dystopian fiction and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 is one of my Favorites. What about you, do you have any particular favorite…?

Despite the hopeless ending and the horridness of Mockingjay, I still cling to The Hunger Games. That was one of the first books that really helped me get the dystopian genre. And I chose to set the Out of Time Series in a dystopian world because of those books.

I also love Ready Player One, which is a virtual reality dystopian. Despite the profanity (you’ve been warned) the story is brilliant.

Let’s take fictional worlds for a moment… If you could step into a book and be a part of a fictional world which one would it be, and why…?

Hogwarts. Obviously, I’d hope to have magical abilities, but even if I was a Squib, I’d want to wander Diagon Alley for a while. It’s always been the most magical world in my mind, probably because I grew up with the books and with Harry Potter. After that, I’d want to go to Hobbiton.

Is there any particular book, or series that influenced your writing…?

I’m pretty sure I answered this amidst some of my other answers, but to give a good list:

Harry Potter, by J K Rowling

Mark of the Lion Series, by Francine Rivers

Love Does, by Bob Goff

The Blood of Kings Trilogy, by Jill Williamson

A Time to Die was you first published Novel. It was nominated for a Christy and won the Carol award at ACFW this year. Did you expect this book to ever be a success like that in terms of recognition and reception…?

At the risk of sounding prideful…sort of.

Don’t get me wrong. I was still scraping my jaw off the floor and crying a lot, but here’s why I say “sort of”:

From the moment I was given the idea for the book, I knew it wasn’t mine. When I started writing, my writing came out in a “voice” (that writing professionals are calling a “natural talent”) that I’d never seen myself use before. I can’t think of it as natural talent. It came out of nowhere! When I wrote the first chapter of A Time to Die at midnight on a school night in grad school, I re-read it the next day and the whole time, I thought, “I didn’t write this. I don’t write like this.” It was like reading someone else’s work.

I feel like I’ve been along for the ride this entire time and that none of it is actually me. God’s just using my fingers. Seriously. So because it was such a bizarre U-turn from how I used to write/think/dream, I knew that God had a purpose for the book and my constant prayer was that He’d grow it so it would touch more lives.

To me…these awards and nominations are simply giving God the glory that I knew He deserved from the very start with this book. So I hope that people see it that way – it has nothing to do with me. God could snap His fingers and I’d return to my old drab way of writing and that’s okay. Because it’s always been Him.

Is there anything that you hope readers will take away from this series…?

That we are created for something mighty and powerful! We are meant to be bringers of shalom and no matter if we have a 9-5 desk job or we’re world travelers, God will use us in world-changing ways. It’s just our job to say, “Here I am.” 🙂

Thanks for stopping by Nadine. Let Nadine and I know what some of your favorites are in the comments below. And check out Nadine’s new release “A Time to Speak” this Friday.

Be Sure to Attend the Book Launch Party on October 20th

(Click on the Pic Below for more Details)


Personal Reflections on “A Time to Speak”

I must admit. Writing a post about a book is one of the most difficult things for me to do. Especially when you want to show how incredible a book has moved you. How on earth does one express the joys of a story in only a few hundred words? It’s near impossible.

I considered quoting a passage that I particularly loved. But honestly, what’s the point. Once I stepped across the threshold and started I’m not sure where I would stop quoting. The list is endless.

Let me simply say this with all honesty: I love this Series. I can’t wait to dive back into this world again. And I cannot wait for the release of book 3.


There is a certain beauty within these pages. One founded on Truth that echoes across a canyon like distant thunder. Cheesy I know– But I ‘m a geek who finds himself moved by words and the pictures they paint.

I realize that what I write here may not be seen as a review- And I’m okay with that. Because a review can’t really display exactly the way a story makes you feel. It can’t show beauty, pain, or make one feel the pulse of your heart as you race with a character while the stakes grow larger. Only the pure enjoyment of a story can do that. All I can do is provide what I hope is more meaningful- A nod of approval. And a challenge to dive in.


I was honored to receive an advanced copy of book two in Nadine Brandes “Out of Time Series.”

A Time to Speak starts off directly where the first book left us. And the first lines are just as powerful as book one, setting the tone for the rest of the story:

“I’ve been robbed of my death.

A date was set, a coffin prepared,

and a grave dug in the earth, yet I breathe against my own will…

Parvin Blackwater is struggling with acceptance. With accepting the death of her twin brother, accepting the fact that the clock that counted down to zero (or her death) was in fact not hers, and accepting that she is alive. But Parvin Blackwater of Book 2 is different. And despite a weight of blame she feels for what may have happened- She is determined. The line on page 3 sets her arc for the book up:

“I don’t have the energy to be offended… I need to get moving, start fixing all the brokenness clouding my village. I have a calling to fulfill…”

Her trust in both God and others doesn’t come near as easy as it once did and as a result there is a struggle within.

But that’s the entire point of A Time to Speak. Stepping out, and taking a step of faith. So many times we look throughout life and see injustice being done. From those that may be weak and have no voice or power to influence, to those that distort and twist God’s word for their own ambitions, to the preying on of young innocents, time and time again we feel a sense, a calling, an urge to speak out and proclaim truth- But instead we find ourselves cowering back and living in the midst of shadows.

Parvin Blackwater gives us hope that we can be more than simply silent figurines on a mantle.

Let me leave by saying this: Fiction by no mean is truth. It is not scripture in the least bit. But it is built off a worldview the author has. And when that worldview has God’s word as a foundation, then light can’t help but seep through. The truths that come out through this story are theologically and doctrinally sound. And as a result… It speaks and challenges me in ways very few stories can. It leaves me hungry and craving more.

The last lines in this second book are powerful. More powerful then the first. The questions that burn in my mind are endless. So be warned- And be prepared to leave this story with Goosebumps.


Be sure to check back in this Monday October 12th: I’ll be interviewing Nadine where we discuss all things Books…

Also Nadine will be having a Facebook Launch Party on October 20th. You can sign up to attend through the pic below.


If you are interested in connecting with Nadine or learning more about her and her work you can do so through the following links below.

Realm Makers

Where on Earth Did I Go?

To Battle A Monster!!!!

This past week I had the opportunity to attend the Realm Makers Writers Conference. The premiere writers Conf for Christian Speculative Fiction. Now before I go on I must confess- I had a lot of reservation about attending. I mean when I’m around new people I’m somewhat of an introvert. It’s just the way I’m wired. I knew absolutely nobody. And those I did know (Like my roommates) I knew only through the magic that is Social Media. So attending was somewhat of a big step for me. But when it was all said and done- I left with a hundred new friends.




I wore my pen out trying desperately to scribble down every word David Farland spoke. I listened intently trying to soak up his years of wisdom. I found myself fascinated listening to Suzanne and Shawn as they made Marketing less intimidating, enjoyable, and simple. I fumbled over my words and forgot everything about a book I spent months writing as I pitched a an endless nonsense of words. And I listened as Robert Liparulo spoke two simple words to us:

 STOP and GO!!!

There are so many times I have faced the monster that is doubt in my writing. So many pages of been ripped and tossed away as I have sat utterly defeated. So many times my wife has listened to me vent out of a lack of progress. So many times I’ve wanted to just Quit.

I think at times we are all that way. We seem to see ourselves as the worst there is. We lose sleep over a bad review, critique, or horrible pitch. But this weekend taught me two things.

1) Stop being self defeating

2) Go write and be creative

If I do those two things- Results will come.

As an Indie Author sometimes I get down on myself- Asking the question “Am I real Writer?” Not thinking I have any reason for validation. That’s my struggle. That’s my fault. That’s the monster I fight daily.

I think if Realm Makers taught me anything it’s this- I’m the one that feeds my Monster of Self Doubt!!!!

So what about you fellow Alumni? What did you conquer this weekend?

Black Holes and the Glory of God!!!

l will admit- I’m attracted to all things Geeky.

I also will say that I know far more about the “FI” than the “Sci” in Sci Fi. Still, I’m attracted to stories that are both unique and strange. (Which is part of the reason I’m PUMPED about Fox bringing the X-Files back) Regardless, I came across this old article on the internet today. Don’t look now, but it seems NASA has caught a black hole with its hand in the cosmic cookie jar.

black-hole-swallows-star_36618_600x4501Scientist traced tell-tale flare-ups of cosmic radiation back to a black hole a million times the mass of Earth’s Sun.

One such article referred to it as a “Cosmic Belch!”

Why bring this up on Good Friday? I like to keep items such as these in a mental file folder label “The Psalm 19 Files.”

Whether it be Diamond Planets or the death of a star-

“The Heavens do indeed tell the Glory of God!”

And to think- That today: With all the vastness of this universe, he would choose to die for someone like me.