Hey guys! It’s release day!! Hooray!! The Promised One is officially available for purchase wherever books are sold. Oh man, I am FREAKING OUT!!! I wanted to share with you an article from Ampersand Write, a writing community I am a part of. It was so much fun to answer these questions and I am thrilled to share with you just a little insight into the making of The Promised One.

Enjoy!

~Morgan

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Original article by Kristen Aitken, Ampersand Write

Every once in a while, a story comes along that grabs you by the shirt collar and sweeps you off your feet until the last page turns. One such book for me is The Promised One by Morgan G. Farris. Having known Morgan for many years, I could not wait to get my hands on a copy of what she had poured her heart and soul into creating… And, of course, to pick her brain about it for your benefit! Following is a behind-the-scenes look at what became this beautiful, charming, magical tale that is available now for purchase.

Tell us about your book!

Wow, okay doesn’t every author hate having to sum up their story into a few sentences? Ha! My book is called The Promised One and it is the first book in a series I’ve lovingly (and painstakingly) named The Chalam Færytales. (Chalam is the Hebrew transliteration for dream. In the book, you learn of the chalam tree, which has the legend that when two people share of its fruits, they share of the same destiny.) The book follows the stories of Elizabeth and Ferryl, my two main characters, and their journey of finding their way back to each other after being separated by magic, a wicked queen, and a destiny they don’t know that awaits them. They’ve known each other their whole lives, and fallen in love over those years, so that when the story kicks off, you’re not watching a couple fall in love, you’re watching a couple who is already in love figure out what went wrong. It’s a fantasy, so there are mythical creatures and spells and curses and all that jazz. But at the end of the day, I wanted to tell a little bit different kind of love story—the story of what happens after that first kiss.

What gave you the idea for your work?

I think there is one glaring way that art fails to adequately reflect life: love stories. In books and movies, most of the time the best part of the relationship revolves around that first kiss—or that first time the couple finally admits their feelings to one another (however that pans out). But in life, I think we forget that the kiss is only the beginning, and that love is something that is forged over time, not discovered in a moment of passion. I really wanted to read a book about that, but they’re few and far between. Like the adage says, write a book you want to read. So I did. And somewhere in the churning and mulling over of these ideas of love, these characters, this world, and this concept was born. And because I’m a nerd, of course that concept was a fantasy.

What is your favorite character in your work and why?

My favorite character in my book is probably Commander Titus. He’s not a huge part of the story in the beginning, but I introduced him in book one because in books two and three, he becomes paramount to the story (and he doesn’t even know it). But you’ll see even in book one that Titus is a conflicted man. He doesn’t know what he wants, he doesn’t really even know where he stands. He’s fiercely loyal, even to his own detriment, but his main flaw is that he cannot see the good within himself. I love him because I think Titus is a little bit of all of us. He is darkness and he is light and some days he gives in to one of those more than the other. But he wants to be good. He wants to do right. He just can’t quite figure out how in his circumstances.

What is one aspect of your current work that sets it apart from other books/stories?

It was really important to me from the beginning that this story feel real, even though it is set in a fantasy world. I wanted the characters to be relatable, to be people we could see ourselves through. On the other hand, my books are an allegory of the story of the Biblical Messiah. I wanted to convey the magic of that story without preaching and I wanted to paint real people without white-washing them the way Christian literature often does. So the characters are messy. They fail. They have foul mouths (God forbid!). They hurt each other—purposely and accidentally. They hurt themselves. If you’ve ever read the Old Testament, you know there is nothing G-rated about it. I wanted to make sure that my story held true to that. That is why I haven’t marketed it as Christian literature, but also haven’t shied away from saying what it is—a reimagining of the greatest story ever told. It’s a niche genre with an unconventional angle, and from the moment the story began to unfold, I knew I was writing something a bit risky. But I also knew I was supposed to write it, so here we are. I’m genuinely curious to see what people think, to be honest.

Do you recall how old you were and/ or what happened to spark your interest in reading?

I am what you call a victim of the school reading system. In other words: school ruined me for reading. All those AR points turned reading into a burden for me from a young age (a mistake our schools are making that I am quite passionate about, to be honest.) But I did have a few exceptions to that rule that I fell in love with from an early age. Little Women, The Iliad and The Odyssey, and The Chronicles of Narnia, to name a few. But it wasn’t until I was in my early twenties and met my husband that I learned to crave reading and, funny enough, it was his love for Harry Potter that turned me into a bookworm. So yes, I am one of those millions of people who say that Harry Potter ignited their passion for reading. And yes, I was an adult when that happened.

What is your favorite book and why?

I could no sooner pick a favorite book than I could pick a favorite star in the sky. But I do have some go-tos that I can’t seem to quit reading. Foremost, I am a hardcore forever fan of Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. I have read that book too many times to count and I still ugly cry every time. I am also a super nerd for the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas. She is just… a stupid brilliant writer and if I could channel even an iota of her voodoo magic, I would.

When did you start writing? And what about that gave you the desire to write?

I started writing when I was nine years old. It manifested in the form of songs for about twenty years and over that time, I’ve written hundreds and hundreds of them. I always loved writing papers in school and in college, but I never considered myself a writer, per se. It wasn’t until the summer of 2014 that I began penning novels. To date, I have written seven novels, but The Promised One is the first one to be published.

What are your main influences (writing-related or otherwise)?

I am heavily influenced by music. I’m a musician, so it’s in my blood. For most of the scenes in my books, I have a song to which I attribute the moment. (For those curious, you can find my Apple Music playlist of those songs here.)

If you could meet one author, living or dead, who would you meet and why? What would you ask them?

C.S. Lewis. Hands down. He and I are kindred spirits in so many ways. He was a skeptic at heart. He never took things at face value, not even his faith. He challenged it, questioned it, and explored it. What he left behind was a legacy of thought-provoking prose that has shaped so much of how I think of God and the world. I’d sit down with a cup of hot tea and ask him to tell me stories the same way Elizabeth (in my book) would ask her father to.

What inspires you to create?

Most definitely my faith. Everything I do is colored by it. I’m not going to preach to you, I’m not going to tell you that you’re wrong and I’m right. But I am going to tell you, in some form of art, no doubt, that an undeniable something has gotten ahold of me, and I’m a better person for it. The Promised One is most definitely a love letter to that faith and a testament to the work of Providence in my own life.

Want to find out more?

The Promised One, the first book in The Chalam Færytales series, is available for purchase now. You can check out this and other works by Morgan (because she does a lot more than write) here. And check out her book trailer below! (She even wrote, arranged, and performed the music for it!)

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Until next time,

~Kristen Aitken, Ampersand Write

I am a perfectionist. There. I said it. I like to wrap things up in a pretty box, tie a bow on them, and call them accomplished. I like to explain things. I like to categorize my life into snippets of theology. “Oh this? I learned ____________ from this. And that over there? That was the time I learned _____________.” I think being able to define the incidents in my life has given me a sense of purpose. It has certainly given me a sense of sanity.

So when I was faced with something I couldn’t define, I was lost. Broken. Utterly shattered. When my journey of being a surrogate ended abruptly, unexpectedly, I didn’t know what to think, let alone what to pray.

Somewhere back in 2012, I met a woman who was a surrogate. She was carrying twins for strangers. Strangers. It blew my mind and right then and there I decided that someday I wanted to do the same. I wanted to gift a family with something they could otherwise not have. It took a few years of convincing my husband, but somewhere in the summer of 2016, he acquiesced and said, “Hey, let’s look into it.”

So we did.

I filled out an online application (which was shockingly long and in depth). I wondered if I’d even pass the rigorous criteria required to be a surrogate. When I passed that initial screening I was stoked. When I passed the second level, the physical exam, and the in-home assessment, I was over the moon.

I was going to be a surrogate!

Now before I go on, I need to point something out: pregnancy for me was easy. So was conception. It was literally a case of, “Oh, hey what do you think about getting pregnant? Oh you’re on board?” BAM. Two weeks later I had a positive pregnancy test.

Honestly. It was like that.

So, naturally I assumed surrogacy would be the same.

I had pretty strict criteria for the surrogacy matching: namely that I was unwilling to abort the child for any reason (even if my own life was in danger). It limited the selection pool, but eventually, after about a year of the whole process, we were matched. And the couple… they were like a dream. It was absolutely mind-blowing that we could have so much in common with a couple from a completely different part of the country, with completely different upbringings, completely different cultures, even different races. But we did. And it all felt like kismet. Surrogacy was in the bag. It was going to be as easy as my pregnancies had been, I was certain.

But it wasn’t.

Not even a little bit.

Don’t be fooled. Surrogacy is not for the faint of heart. It’s taxing—mentally taxing, emotionally taxing, physically taxing. Not only that, it’s overwhelming. It’s a whole lot of, “Oh, you want me to do that now?” But I persisted. All I could think of was handing that couple their precious baby in nine months. Of seeing their faces as they held him in their arms (they already knew the embryo was a boy).

But it didn’t happen.

Somewhere near 8 weeks of pregnancy, feeling nauseous, unable to sleep or button my pants, I got the diagnosis: blighted ovum.

If you don’t know what that means, it’s basically when the embryo attaches to the uterine wall like he should, but never grows.

It was devastating. I’ve never ever been so at a loss for words as I was sitting in that doctor’s office, FaceTiming the intended mother as he said (rather abruptly, I might add) that the pregnancy wasn’t viable and it was a blighted ovum.

No.

That wasn’t possible

It couldn’t be.

We talked it over with the parents and decided to stay on all the medications and wait two more weeks. Just in case. Maybe the doctor was wrong. Enough Google searches told us it was a possibility.

But he wasn’t wrong.

And at 9 1/2 weeks pregnant, it was official. It was over.

Now I had miscarried once before—between my son and my daughter. But it was somewhere around 5 weeks along and little more than a late period.

At almost 10 weeks? That’s a different story entirely. I won’t go into details, but sufficient to say that no one ever tells you what miscarriage is really like. No one tells you how devastating it is. How humiliating. How painful. It’s labor. It’s contractions and shocking pain. All of that, without the reward at the end. I started miscarrying at church and looking back, I’m fairly certain I went into shock. I didn’t even realize what was happening. But it was sudden. And it was terrible. And I still tear up thinking about it. I drove home in excruciating pain, my clothes soaked through with blood, and all I could think was how I wished I were in a hospital bed, instead of having to deal with this in my own home.

And then came the real pain.

Then came the part where I had to face it. My sweet couple, they only had one embryo. One chance. And I failed them. I failed them so thoroughly I couldn’t put it into words. Everything I saw reminded me of my failure—every innocent post from Facebook friends enjoying their babies. Every commercial of families. Every song about the grace of God. It all reminded me that I had failed. That this sweet couple that I had come to love like my own family would never know the joy of holding their own child.

And yeah, I was mad. I was mourning a child that wasn’t even mine. Tell me that it’s not life and I’ll tell you this—I wasn’t mourning an embryo. I wasn’t mourning a clump of cells. I was mourning a child. Their child. I was mourning the fact that he didn’t get a chance.

I couldn’t explain it. I couldn’t fit it into that little box I liked. I couldn’t wrap a bow around it and call it a lesson learned. I still can’t.

I cannot explain why we lost that sweet baby boy. I cannot understand what God was thinking. I cannot say why God would call me to be a surrogate (because I know he did) for it to fail so completely. And worse, I cannot even fathom why he would put that family through it, either.

Here’s the strangest part of it all: somehow, that has given me comfort. Somehow, through all of this, God has reminded me that he is still sovereign. That I have not taken the sanctity of Life out of his hands and put in in a petri dish. He is still the One who gives and the One who takes away. He is still the One who decides the fate of each of us. We cannot take it out of his hands.

Somehow, that has given me peace.

No, I’m not okay with it. No, I don’t think on it with smiles and fondness. I am still mourning, still grieving.

But I’m okay.

It’s okay.

And God is still God.

Maybe that’s the lesson. Maybe the point of all of this is that sometimes—sometimes God is so much bigger than our expectations. Sometimes the plans God has for us are nothing at all like what we expected.

And maybe that’s okay, too.

The irony of it all is that before we even had the embryo transfer, I painted something for the intended parents. A gift as we embarked on this journey together. It was a scripture the mother had quoted to me the first time we met.

Proverbs 16:9—The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.

Wow. Just… wow. There could be nothing more true. And for this girl, who naively went into a situation with rose-colored glasses and the best of intentions, I walk away knowing that my steps are the Lord’s, not mine.

And that’s okay with me.

Guys… GUYS! The Promised One has a trailer! I am dying I love it so much. It was brilliantly crafted by Jagg Pette and the amazing team over at GreenFox Marketing.

And yes, I wrote and performed the music for it. *sigh*

Enjoy!

And don’t forget to preorder!

In honor of my book’s upcoming release, I thought I might share with you a little bit about it. The story of where it came from, how it came about, and some of the why behind The Promised One: The Chalam Færytales.

If you’re in the street team, or if you’ve poked around my site or social media enough, you probably know that the first book (actually, the first three books) is an allegory of the Old Testament. In saying that, I want to make something clear: this is not a character for character, scene for scene allegory. Instead, it is an interpretive allegory, meaning that it is heavily inspired by many of the people depicted in the Old Testament, and while themes are the same, it is not just the same story with different names. The main character, Prince Ferryl is heavily based off of two men in the Bible: namely King David and Moses. As you get to know him and read his story, hopefully you will pick up on some of the parallels from his life with that of the lives of these two heroes of the faith. But again, Prince Ferryl’s life does not follow the same paths of these men. He doesn’t go to the enemy king demanding for the release of slaves, he doesn’t see a woman bathing on a roof and take her to be his wife, etc. But he does face a lot of the same themes that Moses and David faced—learning to trust in a God he doesn’t understand, finding himself through faith, and learning to let go of what he wanted for the story Providence had intended for him all along. (Oh, and there may or may not be a burning bush in one of the subsequent novels…)

You might be reading this and wondering what in the world is the point of this kind of story. The truth is, I think the idea of The Promised One was birthed in me when I was a little girl. I remember from a young age, I would lay in a clover patch in my backyard, look up at the sky, and wonder who God is. I would wonder how he created all the things around me—the trees and the bees and the clouds and the wind. Later, those thoughts got a little deeper, to the point that I would ask myself philosophical questions like, “If the universe is so big, surely there is more life out there. And if there is more life, then would God redeem them the same way he redeemed us?” From those thoughts, my mind would wander down wild paths, imagining the story of the Messiah played out in a different world, with different people, a different savior of all souls.

Thus, The Promised One was born.

It’s a conceptual story—a fæerytale based around that idea. What if God redeemed another people? What would their story look like? How would they come to understand that this God of the universe is as undeniable as he is unbelievable? And what would their Messiah be like?

More than that, it is a story about love in its many forms. It’s a love letter to remind us that the heart is the canvas upon which Providence creates his masterpiece. It’s a fæerytale to teach us that love is the catalyst by which hope is born and faith is fostered.

As you read these stories, I hope they inspire you. I hope they encourage you. But most of all, I hope they point you to a providential God that is remarkable, uncontainable, and beautiful. I hope you read these stories and find a little of yourself in Prince Ferryl, or in Elizabeth, or in Michael, or in Delaney. I hope you get lost in another world, another time, another place; and I hope you are encouraged to dig a little deeper into the magic of Providence.

The Promised One: The Chalam Færytales (Book I)

Available January 9, 2018

Some færytales end with a kiss, but for Elizabeth and Ferryl, the kiss is only the beginning.

When the memories of their happily-ever-before are inexplicably stolen, Elizabeth sets off to uncover the truth and save her fabled love with the crown prince, no matter the cost. Meanwhile, Prince Ferryl must unravel the mystery behind his father’s crippling headaches, grapple with the band of rebels infiltrating the borders of his kingdom with suspicious acumen, and undermine the manipulation of a queen with an unslakable thirst for power and control. All while trying to keep his mind off the beautiful stranger who seems to know and understand him too well.

The Promised One is the first book of The Chalam Færytales series—a coming-of-age epic fantasy, a story that begins after the first kiss. It’s a færytale to remind us that magic is everywhere, if only we look—and love may be the most powerful magic there is.

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I love to share the stories behind my songs. In fact, with most songs I love, I go hunting down the internet for the meaning behind them, and when I find some cool story or inspiration, I usually end up loving the song more. Which is why I started the Song Stories feature on my site.

You Gave It All is one of those songs that just came out of me in a matter of a few hours. I sat down, knowing what I wanted to say and I said it. (They don’t always happen that way, believe me.) But if you’ve listened to it at all, you know that it has some pretty vivid imagery and there’s a reason for that.

A former pastor of mine once said that when he really wants to focus, when he really wants to set himself aside and hone in on who God is, he envisions each one of the wounds of the cross. One by one, he focuses in on those wounds, what they mean, how they might have affected Jesus and how they affect him. Graphic, I know. But I think he has a great point: we so often sing of God’s great love (and don’t get me wrong, it’s great), we so often sing of the benefits of God, but we so rarely sing of the brutality of what he did for us on the cross. It’s not exactly comfortable to sing of hematoma or suffocation in church. It’s not exactly comfortable to sing of violence and murder, I get it. But on the other hand, I think we do ourselves a disservice when we don’t even bother to remember what a sacrifice the death of the Mashiach was. Crucifixion, it was gruesome. Bloody. Horrific. And God chose to go through that for you. For me. For everyone. He chose it. Knowing how horrific it would be. He still chose it.

I think that deserves a little more attention, don’t you?

Lyrics: You Gave It All

Morgan G Farris. Copyright 2017 All rights reserved.

I see your hands, pierced for me
Where you hung upon the tree
I see the feet that walked the miles
That led to Calvary

I see the scars upon your back
Where you took my shame and darkness
I see the crown upon your head
For your are crowned our king eternal

Jesus, precious Jesus
You gave it all for us
Hallelujah

Now we are healed by your wounds
Every pierce bled for our freedom
So as we look upon the cross
Let us sing eternal praises

Jesus, precious Jesus
You gave it all for us
Hallelujah

Your blood, your life
A perfect sacrifice
We’ve been set free so now we sing
Hallelujah, risen king

Jesus, precious Jesus
You gave it all for us
Hallelujah

So a few months ago, I had this idea: what if I made a group on Facebook for writers? A place where we could learn from each other, grow in our craft, figure out things as a community, problem-solve.

So I just made one. I’ll never forget that first day when I invited someone to join. About three members in, a person commented on my invitation to join and said, “Why would I join this? There are only three members.” I was a little dejected, but I pressed on.

Fast forward five months later and we’re about 500 members strong and growing every day. I have been overjoyed at what’s going on and the response from the members. We’re an active, uplifting, realistic, useful community unlike any other writing group on Facebook (and believe me, I’m a member of most of them). We’ve started something organic—a true community built on the principle that the best way to grow in your craft is to surround yourself with like-minded people with similar goals.

Thus, Ampersand Write was born. A Facebook group made for writers, by writers.

As the group grew, I got another crazy idea: What if we had a website where we could provide our members with articles about the biggest questions we get? What if we had a place where we could list real businesses and services that we’ve not only personally used, but recommend so that writers don’t have to sift through so many weeds just to find a reliable editor? Or a decent cover designer? What if?

So today, we officially launched ampersandwrite.com. It’s a community, it’s a resource, it’s a hub of information made to help the budding, aspiring writer find exactly what they’re looking for. It’s active, it’s growing, and it’s awesome—we hope you agree!

Who are the &W Admins?

So who are we that we think we know so much? Glad you asked. hahaha

We are a team of four women: three Texans and a Brit. Some of us have been friends for more than a decade. Some of us are neighbors. Some of us met on Facebook! We are mothers and writers and poets and songwriters. We are marketing directors and professional editors and USA Today Best-Selling authors. We all bring something unique to the table, with different goals and ambitions in the writing world. We’ve each made mistakes and learned the hard way in various aspects of this business. But there is one thing we’ve each learned for certain: the writing community is awesome, but it can be overwhelming. When we put our heads together, we realized that we just might be able to make a place that is useful to writers: a resource for all things writing.

Whether you are looking to self publish or traditionally publish, whether you need an editor or a cover designer, whether you need grammatical advice or have a question about how to query an agent, our goal is to be a hub of resources to help you better your craft and learn this business of writing.

So if you haven’t yet, come join us over on Ampersand Write. We’d love to have you!

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