Children of the Forgotten – Review

In a world where wars and disease have decimated the population, Collin Mann’s small city holds on for survival. He buries the people who succumb to the Sickness, which claims everyone before they turn thirty. Being a grave-digger is the only way Collin feels he can contribute, because he’s not brave and strong like his brother Ethan, one of the protectors of the city.

children of the forgotten

Felicity is a teacher who watches over the children of the town, even though she is still young herself. When the leader of the city dies, she is thrust into the leadership void. However, she has a secret she is determined to protect as much as her people.

When the Saetos, the blood-thirsty hillsman, make a push to seize the city and kidnap people, Collin is forced to step up. Can he prove his bravery and become a savior for the people he cares about? Will Felicia be able to lead her people through the crisis, or will the city fall, along with all hope for the future?


The story Charles Franklin weaves is a potent mix of world-building, action, and drama. The society is a rich setting where a lot of conflict bubbles out of the surroundings. There is no shortage of excitement and action. Yesterday in my interview with him, Charles said he loves the thrills of Robert Ludlum, and it is evident.

The reader is sucked into the challenges faced by Collin, Felicia, and the other characters. There are surprises that will keep a reader guessing through Headshot (1)the whole story. And just when you think things can’t worse for everyone, Charles turns the screws and makes the reader feel the pain.


Overall, this book is a strong debut and sets the stage for a trilogy that should continue to up the stakes and thrill readers. It is a book recommended for fans for Christian YA and dystopian stories.

You can order Children of the Forgotten here.




Author Interview – Charles Franklin

My friend Charles Franklin is a YA author who is releasing his debut book, Children of the Forgotten. It’s an exciting story of a dystopian world where a city of survivors are looking for hope, and they’ll find it in unlikely places. I’m going to do a review tomorrow, but today here’s Charles telling me about his inspiration:


children of the forgotten
What inspired you to write this story?

Post-apocalyptic stories are some of my favorite, and I always enjoy how the characters fight against whatever foe has caused this end-of-the-world scenario. As a fan of these stories, though, I found myself wanting to tell my own tale and fill it with faith. Plenty of authors have done it, and done it well, but I hope I put a bit of a different twist on it!

What do you hope people are going to get out of your story?

I want them to know that, even when it seems like the world is ending, it’s not. Each of us is fighting a battle, and some days the enemy seems to be winning. But, this is not true. We serve an awesome, powerful God, Who only has good things in store for us. One of my favorite lines from the novel is, “All is lost. All is gone. But this one thing: hope.” I hope my readers remember that when things sometimes seem too much to bear.

What are some of your favorite authors?

I’ll start with the usual for a fantasy author, and say Tolkien and Lewis. In addition to them, though, I read a lot of Anne Rice and I’ve always given her credit for helping me fall in love with stories. There was just something about how she brought her characters to life in a way that made me fear, yet love them. Robert Ludlum introduced me to action thrillers, and is a big influence on a novel that I’ll talk a bit more about in a later question!

What’s a secret pleasure you use to motivate yourself as a writer to get through a tricky spot?

I’m really big on music as inspiration, and when I’m writing I’m normally on some type of movie score channel since music with lyrics distracts me. So…when I hit a tricky spot, I’ll usually turn up the movie score station, close my eyes, and picture a scene from my book. This is almost always an instant pick-me-up and helps me at least get a scene on the page. It can always be edited after that!
What’s a real world thing you’ve done that found its way into your book?

Having a military background, I tried to use my past experiences when I wrote a fight or battle scene. I’ve always wondered how some stories can have a really detailed fight scene when, in reality, things are moving so quickly that the details are often fuzzy at best! I also know that readers need to see everything that’s happening, so there’s a balance between making the scene fast-paced, exciting, and also descriptive enough. I hope I was able to do that.

What are you working on next?

There are still two more books left in the Anistemi Series, so I’m currently working on Book 2 (Title TBD!). When I take breaks from that, I’ll be working on the Ludlum-inspired action thriller that I hinted at earlier. There aren’t a ton of details to share yet, but I can tell you that it is focused on combating human trafficking. Think Charlie’s Angels meets X-men. 😉

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Charles Franklin grew up in Mineral Wells, Texas. Following a 22-year Army career including plenty of middle-east combat, he lives in Texas with his beautiful wife and three children and is starting a new career as a middle-school teacher. As an author, he enjoys telling tales of adventure filled with faith and purpose. When he’s not writing, he enjoys spending precious time with his family. Find him online and get a free short-story prequel to his Anistemi series at

Signing a Contract

It’s a few days from my birthday, but an amazing present came early.

I am so excited to announce that I’ve signed a 3 book contract with Little Lamb Books for my YA superhero series!

This came about in an unexpected way. I participated in #FaithPitch on Twitter, an online pitching opportunity in July. I’ve done this before and had a few nibbles, but no real bites with either my adult suspense or my YA.

I got tagged by Little Lamb Books, and I had noticed them from the same thing the year before. I could see they had developed and grown their author list. The timing was crazy busy with a lot of family stuff going on, but in a couple weeks I was able to get their requested submission together.

After I sent that off, I was asked to call Rachel, the founder and publisher. Of course, it would just be a little get to know you session.

How could I expect to get an offer that day?

That was crazy enough, but it was also cool how God orchestrated things. Listening to Rachel, I really felt a match with her vision. She brought up things that my wife and I talked about regarding ways to promote the book.

So with a little discussion and negotiation, we ended up at this point today.

Right now the first book has the tentative title of Launch. Finalizing titles and working on edits will be the first steps. We’re looking at a 2018 release date.

I’ll be posting more updates along the road. The first details will come to my author newsletter, and you can sign up here. You can read about Rachel’s side of the journey at the Little Lamb Books announcement.

Overall, it’s the beginning of an exciting journey. I can’t wait to show you the world of Launch. It promises to be a wild ride. DSC_0689 (2)

A Modern Love Story

Twenty years ago, a modern love story began.

Two people had grown up together, through church and school. Her mother taught both of them in Sunday School and youth group. They didn’t run in the same crowd at school, but being in an area where few shared their beliefs, they had a connection there because of their faith.

She was popular, in student government and choir. He was a little awkward, in band and drama. He was shy, but asked her to prom – only because he knew she was so nice she wouldn’t say no. Otherwise he probably wouldn’t have had a date. They had fun, but it was just as friends.

She was a year older than him in school. When she graduated, she went to Youth With a Mission for their Discipleship Training School in Lakeside, Montana. He was a little lost without his good friend that year, but ended up following in her footsteps, also going to YWAM after his graduation.

When he returned, they both attended the local university, carpooling together the first year. She didn’t like it when he was snooty about having to listen to country music. He wasn’t amused when she and her friends all got in the back of his car and treated him as their chauffeur. Sometimes they seemed to bicker like brother and sister, but they remained friends through it all.

She found that she could even call on him-when he was about to sit down to a hot plate of homemade macaroni and cheese-while she was being chased by a vicious spider. He arrived at her house, only a few blocks away, to find her standing on the kitchen counter using a broom to fend off the ferocious arachnid. A well-placed sandal ended the threat.

After a couple of years he decided he needed something radical in his spiritual life, and signed up for a Bible school program through YWAM – in Australia. She is one of the last people he spends time with before leaving. He even calls her from Oz, since he has some extra time on his phone card. But she wasn’t expecting a call from overseas, so she asks, “Who is this?”

After 9 months he came back from Down Under, and their friendship resumed. She noticed that he had matured in his time away. He had always honored their relationship so much that he never dared to make it more, because he didn’t want to scare her off.

Over the next year, they continue their friendship. Best friends now, they start working together at a local restaurant. But when asked if he’s ever thought of dating her, he replies that “they’re just like brother and sister.” When you’re both in your early twenties, and some of the only singles around in your church in a small town, that automatic pairing is inevitable. However, they both share a strong passion for the Lord, and they try as best to let Him guide their lives.

Their college studies are coming into focus: she is majoring in education, and he is trying to get into the physician assistant program. December arrives and he’s dealing with finals in fun classes like anatomy, physiology, and organic chemistry. English papers aren’t the highest priority, so on a Sunday he is holed up in his basement most the day to research and write his next assignment. He might have been farther along, but his mind was distracted by what she said after church.

“I need to talk to you about something. But I can’t do it right now.”

Isn’t that maddening?

“Well, when are you going to tell me? What if I call you when I get my research done?”


He finds that he can’t concentrate, and his overactive imagination is spinning with different possibilities. Finally he gets enough done where he figures he can take a break and give her the long awaited phone call. Despite all his imaginings, he can’t expect what would happen next.

“Remember how you said we were like brother and sister?”


“Well, my feelings for you have changed.”

Pause. “What do you mean?”

“I like you more than a friend.”

That may not be the most amazing line ever spoken in a romantic film, but it was the most wonderful thing I have ever heard. This woman, who was my ideal, had just opened a door that I could not have ever hoped would open. She is beautiful. She loves the Lord with all her heart. She is sweet and kind, tender and caring. Her smile lights up a room, but she could also speak with God’s fire when moved.

So our courtship began. Being good friends, we knew that this wasn’t a trifle. The next day I fasted and prayed and the Lord spoke Proverbs 18:22 to me. Wow.

It wasn’t easy to be single and waiting. Both of us railed against that at times, but mercifully Jesus kept us hidden in His hand, keeping us from any serious entanglements, keeping us pure.

March 28, 1998, was the day that we were joined into one, and that day will always be special. But our journey started 20 years ago. The day we fell in love.

I love you Beccy. Always and forever.

Cover Reveal – Rebirth by Amy Brock McNew

Hey y’all. I’m pleased to help my author friend Amy Brock McNew with her cover reveal for her debut book, Rebirth. Check out the awesome cover and a synopsis below. The book is available on May 24!

Liz Brantley has a gift she wants to return.
Able to see and fight demonic forces, she has spent her life alone, battling the minions of hell bent on her destruction, running from the God who gave her this curse. The demonrebirth Markus, drawn to her abilities, unleashes havoc on her hometown and pulls Liz further into the throes of battle.
She’s desperate for a normal life.
When she meets a mysterious man who seems unaware of the mystical realm that haunts her, the life she’s always wanted flits within reach. But her slice of normal slips from her grasp when an old flame, Ryland Vaughn, reappears with secrets of his own. Secrets that will alter her destiny.
Torn between two worlds, Liz is caught in an ancient war between good and evil.
And she isn’t sure which side to choose.

Author bio:
Amy Brock McNew doesn’t just write speculative fiction, she lives and breathes it. Exploring the strange, the supernatural, and the wonderfully weird, Amy pours her guts onto the pages she writes, honestly and brutally revealing herself in the process. Nothing is off-limits. Her favorite question is “what if?” and she believes fiction can be truer than our sheltered and controlled realities.
Visit to learn more about this intriguing author.Amy Brock McNew

About Jason C. Joyner

Hey! It was time to do an introductory post to let you know about my work.

I’m an author living in southeast Idaho, in the high desert vaheadshotlley leading up to Yellowstone National Park.

I’ve been writing since 2005. So far I’ve been published in Splickety Magazine for flash fiction, and I’m a local columnist for the Post Register, a regional newspaper with a reach of 70,000.

I love a variety of genres. Currently I have a completed suspense novel, Darkness Under The Moonlight, about a medical student who travels to Thailand to discover the cause of her missionary brother’s death.

My current project is a YA superhero trilogy, with the first book almost to completion and a first draft of the second book. In the Bible, Samson had strength. Elijah outran chariots. Today we’d call these superpowers. In modern day San Francisco, an evil is rising that triggers an ancient prophecy, and teens suddenly find themselves with amazing abilities. But will they choose to use their gifts for good or evil?

I’ve done a lot of blogging, and you can find all my posts on this site. I’m also very active on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Thanks for stopping by. Let me know if you have any questions or comments.

Book Review – A Time To Speak

So the last couple weeks I’ve been helping with the launch team for Nadine Brandes and her latest book. She’s a fellow Idaho author who has crazy adventures and uses them as fuel for her fiction.

After the success of her first book, A Time To Die, which won a Carol Award, it’s a pleasure to review the next book from this talented author.

A Time To Speak is the second book of the Out of Time series. (Spoilers for book 1  ATimetoSpeak5-663x1024ahead)

Parvin Blackwater is dealing with the shocking aftermath of A Time To Die. She had been so sure that her Clock was running out and she was about to die, but now she needs to find a reason to live. Her family struggles with the shock of the events, but Parvin finds a new ally in Solomon Hawke, an Enforcer with a conscience.

She learns how the Council has manipulated her and events to increase their hold over the populace. This leads to her new mission, to speak out against the Council and bring truth.

But no one wants to listen.

As Parvin wrestles with God over her seemingly ineffective actions, the Council pulls an unexpected stunt that has Parvin and hundreds of Radicals shipped far away for experimentation.

Now stranded in a barren wasteland, Parvin and Solomon have to rise up and lead the survivors if there’s ever to be a hope of speaking out again.

Nadine has a unique voice and space in YA fiction. She loves dystopian, but there’s an element of hope that doesn’t usually cross over in this genre. The world-building that was set up in book one expands in this book, creating an interesting world with real consequences for characters. Nadine-Brandes-Head-Shot-295x300

Parvin continues to suffer. This is not a character who skates above the trouble, and details aren’t spared. Sometimes Parvin gets down and doubts herself, but her faith in God is growing, and she clings to her perceived mission with dogged determination. She can be headstrong and a bit stubborn, but she’s also a literary character that can be a strong role model for readers.

The action builds throughout the story. At one point it seems things are coming together too well, but Nadine ably blows our expectation at appropriate times.

I definitely enjoyed the book a lot. My main complaint would be that some segments drag on a little too long, and sometimes we spend too much time having Parvin’s thoughts ruminate on a plot point or issue. Overall, the rich world-building, rising consequences, and damaged but determined heroine make it a strong read for lovers of YA or dystopian fiction.

Oh yeah, the legal mumbo-jumbo: I did receive a review copy in exchange for a fair review.

And if you want to win a free book from Nadine, check out the contest below.

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Crazy Author Research – Interview with Nadine Brandes

If you know an author, then you’ll realize that they’re not entirely…stable folks. They talk to the voices in their heads. If they see something unique, BAM, it goes in a book. No one is entirely safe around them.

Nadine Brandes is an especially adventuresome sort. In honor of her book release this week of A Time To Speak, the second book in the Out of Time series, I picked her brain as we compared experiences we’ve done for writing research.

Nadine, I’ve seen some conversations online of crazy things you’ve done for researching your book. But you write speculative fiction. Isn’t that all made-up stuff anyway?

Stepping out of our understanding of normal is what connects spec-fic books with real life. Think about it. Fantasy/sci-fi novels create new worlds. . .and traveling to a different country is like being immersed in a new world. You’re forced to see things differently, to interact differently, to stretch into a new and adaptable person in order to function.

I agree totally. You remember the sensory details, your imagination is heightened, and you are inspired. I’ve been blessed to travel overseas myself. In fact, I used a lot of situations from my Thailand travels for my first book. What was a recent international adventure for you that helped you in writing?

I had the privilege of transiting the Panama Canal on a pretty little 44-foot sailboat. The same sailboat that instigated my adventure of being a sea-cook, in fact.

Here’s how it all came about:

At a certain point, in one of my books (no, I won’t tell you which one!) a character travels through the Panama Canal. My dad’s boat just happened to be traveling through the Panama Canal this January as it is being moved to the west coast. In Dad’s words, “You can’t not go, Nadine.”

Shoot, who could pass that up? Now that I’m writing a YA novel set in Silicon Valley, when visiting family in the Bay Area we toured the headquarters of Google and Facebook for research. Anything more local that you’ve done lately?

I live in the type of place where I can post on Facebook, “Anyone have dogsledding connections? I need it for book research,” and the next day I get a message from a friend saying, “I can get you a ride!”

I know, I’m spoiled.

So last March, I went on my first all-day dogsled ride to Granite Hot Springs out in the wilderness.

After some mushing commands, some dog intros, some warnings about flying off the back of the sled at the take-off (“Excuse me?!”), I hopped on, pressing down the brake with all my weight. And then, with a very un-Hollywoodish, “Alright, hike!” we took off.

I was an official musher.

Wow. And I thought it was interesting when I took a scooter for a test ride to see how to control the thing. Let’s see, what else have I done? Running on the beach to understand a getaway scene, trying out rock climbing walls, watching videos on YouTube of medical procedures. Any other research items stand out?

1. Walked a tightrope four stories off the ground (yes, I had a harness.) Also walked on slacklines without a harness.

2. Crawled across a river on a log

IMG_32233. Chased down a boxcar train to record sounds, movement, and the size of boxcars.

4. Ate grilled cattails

5. Sailed on the open sea for four days, getting ridiculously seasick.

6. Ate a raw potato

7. Rock climbed real cliffs and man-made rock walls, as well as frayed ropes to get the right feel.

8. Walked through a cattail pond barefoot to get an idea of what it’d be like to be stuck in one for weeks.

Okay. I’d say you win. But I’m not going down easily. Anyway, what would you say to aspiring authors about research and being so adventurous? 

Life experiences and adventuring have everything to do with writing! Stories I can use in my future novels, stories I can write about for you to use in your future novels, stories to inspire others in their future novels. Or stories that don’t have to be in novels at all–they can just be memories! My life is my greatest story. I’m a storyteller and writing is what I’m called to do. I can’t just limit it to fiction.

That’s great advice for anyone, not just a writer. Memories and stories to tell are priceless. 

Since everyone’s probably intrigued with Nadine now, here’s where you can find her online. 

Nadine’s website

And check out her books, A Time To Die and A Time To Speak. She’s got a great adventure going on in those pages. I’ll have a review of Speak next week. Check out the Amazon link or enter the contest below to win a free copy!

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Called To Speak – A Blog Hop


Hey gang, I’ve joined in with the Called To Speak Blog Hop to discuss the question: What Hashtag-Called2Speak-3-300x227makes you want to speak out?

It’s inspired by the new book A Time To Speak by Nadine Brandes, the second book in the YA dystopian series Out of Time. It releases on October 16th, and it is also to encourage myself and others to speak out for our passions and against injustice.

A passion of mine is speaking out against human trafficking and modern day slavery. A quick search of this blog will show multiple posts about the topic. The scourge of human trafficking is shocking that it happens in this day and age.

But it is deceptive, because there’s more slaves in the world today than during the entirety of the African slave trade.

It takes many forms: workers forced onto Thai fishing boats, prostitution in NYC or brothels in Cambodia, whole families trapped in indentured servitude on brick kilns in India, or domestic helpers with their passports confiscated.

In the paper this week was a story about a former cheerleader who was sentenced to prison in Oregon for leading a teen into prostitution. It happens in our backyards, not just around the world.

I hate the injustice of someone being forced to do things against their will. I’ve worked to raise awareness of the issue for several years now. This dark secret is being brought into the light more and more, and there are many organizations that are fighting in various ways and areas to combat this horror.

One of my favorites is International Justice Mission, a leader in the modern day slavery battle. However, there are many worthy groups that will show with a Google search that may hit areas closer to your heart.

I love the idea behind this blog tour because if we aren’t afraid to speak out, then we can see change come in the world. If we all keep silent, then what will change?

So thanks to Nadine for starting this campaign. Below you can find more information about her books and other bloggers in the hop. Be sure to scroll to the bottom to enter a contest to win copies of her books!

I’m Jason Joyner, and I’m #called2speak against the injustice of modern day slavery and human trafficking.

What happens when you liveParvin-Quote-ATtS-2 longer than you wanted to?

Parvin Blackwater wanted to die, but now she’s being called to be a leader. The only problem is, no one wants to follow.

The Council uses Jude’s Clock-matching invention to force “new-and-improved” Clocks on the public.

Those who can’t afford one are packed into boxcars like cattle and used for the Council’s purposes.

Parvin and Hawke find themselves on a cargo ship of Radicals headed out to sea. What will the Council do to them? And why are people suddenly dying before their Clocks have zeroed-out?

Book Two in the “Out of Time” series. Read about the first book, A Time to Die, here. You can connect with Nadine Brandes at all of these links:

9.28.15 – Gretchen Engel
9.30.15 – Nadine Brandes
10.01.15 – Jason Joyner
10.05.15 – Gretchen Engel (part 2)
10.06.15 – Tricia Mingerink
10.08.15 – Gretchen Engel (Scriblerians)
10.09.15 – Emilie Hendryx
10.11.15 – Janeen Ippolito
10.12.15 – Zachary D Totah
10.14.15 – Brittany Valentine
10.15.15 – Andrew Swearingen
10.17.15 – Megan Besing
10.19.15 – Angel Roman
10.20.15 – Charles Franklin
10.21.15 – Lisa Godfrees
10.27.15 – Natalie Walters
10.29.15 – The Artist Librarian
11.02.15 – Rosalie Valentine
11.17.15 – Amanda Fender

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