Tag Archives: writing


Announcement: After Three Years, It’s Time to Write Book on Grief

This past Saturday evening, I was nestled in bed around 10:30pm. The week had been long and busy. Up and on my feet all day, I was finally crashing into what I hoped would be a long and fitful night’s sleep. But a sneaking sadness had been growing in my heart throughout the week, and suddenly, in the stillness of almost-sleep, it hit me: An explosion of grief half forgotten and deeply buried and pushed aside.

Tears came. The wound opened up as if it were brand new again, not almost three years old. The pain filled everything, as if no progress had been made, no healing had happened. Why do I feel it so deeply? I thought. Why is it coming up so suddenly? 

It wasn’t until about an hour later that I realized something: My Kindred Spirit’s wedding anniversary was August 18th. The wedding where she gave over her life completely to an abusive man who destroyed her and everyone else in a cult environment. It’s been three years. Three years ago, she was married. And three years ago, the downward, abusive cycle that had gradually encompassed her entire life began to drown her. She was surrounded by people who didn’t truly care about her wellbeing, and she died because of it. On October, it will be three years since her death.


It’s strange how long three years seems, and how short. Time is a funny thing. It seems worlds away since her death. It seems like a moment ago. So much has changed. My life has changed, the world has changed. But what lingers is an unchanging moment of finality when a life ended. That will never change, no matter how the years speed by. I am changed because of the unchangeable occurrence, and it has been both freeing and heartbreaking to walk the path towards healing and wholeness that began after Bethany’s death.

I’m no longer who I was. My faith is different. My heart is different. This was something I mourned for a quite a while: that everything changed when Bethany died. Yet the changes–which were agonizing–have ultimately been for the better. I am wiser, slower to pass judgment, more courageous when facing reality, quick to defend the voiceless, and passionate more than ever about Love.

What was meant for evil has turned into good in my own life–which doesn’t mean it isn’t painful. I still miss Bethany every day. But the ache will drive me to a lifelong pursuit for beauty, truth, and love.


I’ve stopped writing about grief because last year it became too deep, too personal, and too hard to even put words to the aching abyss I felt. Gradually, I gained hope and healing. However, there are things left unsaid, and I feel an urgency to say them. Pain denied and swept under the surface will eventually reemerge in darker forms, and woe to those who stifle pain’s calling, who drown out its voice and pretend it isn’t there. Pain is a teacher, and I want to talk about this strange friend who has taught me so much.

I’m going to be compiling all my writing on grief over the past few years into a book. I will also add and expand to everything with the unblogged thoughts and wrestlings and conclusions I’ve come to over the past year of relative silence on my blog about grief.  I think it’s fitting to do this in honor of Bethany’s death and in honor of her life. She was a writer, and she wanted to write. It was a dream we shared in common, a dream that wilted in her heart as it grew and expanded in mine. If my writing about the pain of her absence and the healing I’ve known can bring hope and healing to someone else, I know Beth is joyful. Her legacy continues on in the seeds she planted, and they will spring evergreen.

Let me be clear: my book will not about Beth’s time in the cult or what happened inside the cult. My writings will only be about the grief I felt after the earth-shattering realization that the Bethany I knew and loved was gone (long before she died), and that lies upon lies had mounted into an unspeakable tragedy. It will be a testament to who she was and our friendship. But I will only vaguely (if at all) deal in the brutal details, questions, and narratives surrounding her death.

But it isn’t just about Beth. Yes, her death was the nail in the coffin, but it also was in many ways the catalyst for the realizing and summarizing of multiple pains in my life–relational, health, faith, etc–that all became one interconnected ball of grief upon grief upon grief. And I think, in many ways, that’s what I want to write about. Not just Beth, but the ways my life imploded and fell apart (before and after Beth) and the slow recovery, the slow rebuilding, the slow rebirth of all I had ever known into something beautiful.

Many people over the past few years have suggested or asked me to do something like this. To write a book. I’ve hesitated because I didn’t feel as if I’m an expert on grief in any way. I’ve only tried to be honest and authentic and raw. I’ve only ever tried to fight for healing with every inch of my heart instead of caving into the hopelessness I often felt after Beth’s death. That’s all I ever could do, and somehow, I came out alive and whole and free despite the destructive forces that tried to crush me.

For the next few months, I’ll be working on writing this memoir of grief and suffering, hope and healing. I will then self-publish it. I’m not exactly sure on the timeline or anything. Stay tuned for updates. I truly do believe that in order to move on with my own writing, this book needs to happen.

And now is the time.

Bethany, my dear Kindred Spirit. I will always love you.



>>I’ve also started writing a monthly Grief & Healing newsletter. Subscribe to receive updates on the book, grieving, and the healing process here.<< 


Poem #21: A Hundred Different Lives

One lives a hundred different lives while writing.
One steps into a hundred different shoes,
following paths both bad, good,
everything in between.
One experiences a hundred different cultures
and a hundred different songs
beating from a hundred different hearts.

No wonder many writers–
and those who appreciate stories–
are often more willing
to step alongside the misunderstood,
to fight for the underdog,
to listen to another’s tale.

Because a writer practices empathy
each and every day
when they explore their characters’ worlds.


Poem #18: a great adventure

creativity is a great adventure
you don’t know what could happen
you don’t know what dangers you’ll run into
but the beautiful thing is watching it come together
step by step
piece by piece
all the details fall into place
and a whole world is born to explore
complexity after complexity
more and more and more
you could never figure it all out
but it’s worth trying
year after year after year
exploring the great unknown land
stretching ever onward


Photography: Author Sarahbeth Caplin Portraits

A few months ago, I shot a mini portrait session with a good friend/author. Her name is Sarahbeth Caplin. Sarabeth wanted me to take some professional pictures of her that she could use on her website and other social media. So we went out to a park and took some simple, fun shots. I kept asking her about her (then) soon-to-be-husband. That got some great emotions out of her, so see if you spot her I’m-in-love expressions. They’re now happily married. ;)

Scroll down to read more about Sarahbeth and her writing.


Sarahbeth has been a writer for as long as she can remember. Her first “book” was a construction-paper-and-crayon masterpiece called “Why Kids Love Their Moms” which she wrote one Mother’s Day. She’s always made up stories, and she still occasionally catches herself narrating her life as it happens.



Sarabeth_3Sarahbeth majored in English Literature at Kent State University, where she wrote weekly editorials for her campus newspaper. Since graduating in 2011, she’s self-published three young adult novels, one small collection of poetry, and one memoir. Her next novel, Shades of Doubt, will be released from Booktrope later this year. Plot Summary: A young adult magazine columnist’s boyfriend is accused of rape, and he gives her a list of previous ex-girlfriends to ‘interview’ in an attempt to clear his name. But the quest for truth and easy answers proves to be more difficult than the protagonist expects.

Sounds intriguing to me!



In Sarahbeth’s own words: “I write the kind of stories I like to read, which lean more toward the darker side of human nature, the complications that arise from relationships and moral dilemmas of ‘good’ people, and the occasional taboo topics that make people uncomfortable. Namely, rape culture and spiritual abuse. I’m fascinated by the evolution of identity through tragedy, and I hope to create complex, three-dimensional characters who represent real people facing real issues that don’t always have neatly-wrapped endings.”

Sarabeth_7 Sarabeth_8

Sarahbeth’s hope is for readers to be challenged in their thinking–even if they don’t always agree with her. At the same time, she also hopes they find themselves lost in a good story. One of her goals is to have her books featured in a book club someday.

I, for one, am super excited about Sarahbeth and all she has to offer through her writing. Go check out her website!


Would you like to book a photography session and/or be featured on my site? Contact me, and I’ll help share YOUR story!

All Photos Copyright Teryn O’Brien


Owning Our Scars – A Poem

It’s been a while since I’ve shared a poem on here. So here you go.

Owning Our Scars

we walk into the world unblemished,
but we soon find that the world lashes out.
not a life passes
in which a cut is not felt–
be it as light as a paper
or as deep as a sword–
leaving us with unshakeable scars.

so we skulk in the shadows,
slather on cosmetics,
and try to hide the brutal but beautiful
reality that we are all broken.
we are all scarred.

the choice we have is to wear our scars proudly.
not to hide,
but to show that no matter what it does to us,
greater is he who is in us than he who is in the world.

and all scars are precious in his eyes,
because scars speak of pain, yes,
and scars speak of brokenness,
but also of survival and triumph,
victory in the face of adversity.

there is a strength that comes from scars
that we do not find any other way.

so let us embrace our scars,
let us run and jump and dance,
and bear our scars to the world.
let us rejoice that we are free
from hiding, free from shame.

we will turn our jagged faces and battered bodies
to the sunlit sky,
smiling and singing.
owning our scars,
for the scars of the world do not own us.


“I Just Have To Write What’s on My Heart” – An interview about blogging, social media, viral posts, and Christianity

Just thought I’d let everyone know that a good friend and blogger Boze Herrington interviewed me for his site today on blogging, Christianity, social media, viral posts, etc. It was really fun talking to him and answering his questions.

Boze is an amazing and versatile blogger, covering issues like spiritual abuse, literature, writing, Catholicism, etc. Last September, he guest blogged on my site about escaping a cult he’d been involved in. He’s currently writing articles and a book to help others understand how a cult can form amidst even seemingly sincere Christians. Boze is also a huge fan of fantasy and has a series of fantasy novels in the works. Check him out!

You can read the beginning here of our conversation here…

“I Just Have To Write What’s on My Heart”: A Conversation with Teryn O’Brien

On Friday I sat down with Teryn to discuss her views on blogging, social media, and finding the courage to do the things you feel most passionately about. The following is a partial transcript of our insightful and inspiring conversation.

Tell me a little about the history of your blog. How did you get started?

I personally started blogging at Identity Renewed almost three years ago this month. I started it right after college to work through some of my pain and brokenness. I was only posting twice a month, basically once every other week. I had a list of topics to write about, and then I was going to end it after a year. Honestly, I think it was just a time of experimentation and trying to find my voice. It really wasn’t until getting into the second year that I started blogging really regularly, posting three times a week. The main thing about blogging is consistency, because if you’re not blogging consistently, no one is going to come back to your blog. I kind of just played with a whole bunch of different schedules and ideas.

Then one of my best friends died in October 2012. She was in an abusive relationship inside a cult, and I realized that I had been fighting abusive tendencies in my own life, too. Suddenly, all the brokenness, pain, and struggles toward healing I’d been through began to make sense. So it was probably only after she died that I truly found my voice. And people started listening more. So I started getting a little more traffic and meeting more bloggers. The very first year I blogged, I think I got about 1,000 views. The second year, about 3,000-4,000 views. My goal in 2013 was to get 25,000 views.

The thing you have to realize is this: Blogging is a community, so no one is going to come to your site unless you go to their sites. Especially when you’re just starting out. If you’re not a famous blogger or pastor or speaker or whatever, no one is going to listen to your voice. So just starting out blogging, that’s one of the most important things you can do: Put yourself out there, meet other bloggers, comment on other sites, show a genuine interest in what others have to say. I’ve made some great friends through the blogging world, and we’ve never met in real life (yet!).

Read the rest here.

NOTE: I don’t normally broadcast this, but I do social media, online marketing, and writing/editorial consulting for a fee. If you’re interested, please contact me.

Photo credit: Dusit on Shutterstock.com


My Spirit of Fear and Anxiety – Guest Post by Renee Fisher

I’m so excited to have Renee Fisher, published author and blogger from Devotional Diva, on my site today! We became friends over the blogging world last year, and it always amazes me just how many things we share in common about our past struggles. Her writing has really encouraged me through some tough times. She even called me on the phone once and gave me a pep talk that I really needed about writing and career and life. :) Today, Renee is writing an Identity Renewed post about her struggles with fear and anxiety. I appreciate her vulnerability and honesty on a tough topic to deal with.

My Spirit of Fear
by Renee Fisher

Since I was young, I have struggled with a spirit of fear. My favorite Bible verse has always been one from 2 Timothy, and for good reason: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV).

Easier said than done.

Although I wasn’t properly diagnosed with anxiety until I was in my mid 20s, I battled extreme fear. I’ll never forget the day it all began. (Thanks to therapy for helping me pinpoint that day).

My parents left for a two-week missions trip and I crumbled. I honestly don’t know why I broke, but I did. Hard.


That’s when my battle with food began. That’s when I was afraid to eat, leave the house, or go to school. I was afraid to eat because overeating would make me fat, and if I was fat–no man would ever love me. I was afraid to leave the house because I didn’t know when I would freak out (later I learned these episodes were called panic attacks). I was afraid to go to school because it was humiliating to suffer with anxiety in front of other people. The fear gripped me so much that I asked to be home schooled again.

Junior High was a nightmare.
High school was even worse.

In 9th grade, I discovered I was allergic to band-aids and suddenly developed eczema (skin rash). My eczema spread so quickly that I lost the skin off my feet and face. I ended up in the hospital, and it took my body six years to heal from that ordeal.

If I thought I struggled with a spirit of fear, battling eczema on top of it took me to a whole new level of fear.

When I thought I was done “suffering for Jesus,” I moved to Texas to pursue full time missions. I enrolled in a DTS school (not YWAM), and discovered my passion for writing. I only made it five months in the Texas heat before I lost the skin off my hands due to eczema.

Another three years would go by before I was fully healed.

From the ages of 15 to 25, I prayed to God constantly, asking him to take away my spirit of fear. I begged, pleaded, prayed, and cried. The tears became my food, like David said. I read the Bible over and over and over and over until I wrote over hundreds of devotionals.

When a mentor helped to brand me as the Devotional Diva, it only took three months before I had my first literary agent and signed book contract. That’s (unfortunately) when the spirit of fear completely took over my life.

I was faced with the choice of quitting my job to keep my book contract. I couldn’t handle working full time and writing full time. The fear became so overwhelming that I ended up in the hospital with panic attacks.

Once again, I asked God to take it away.
But then something even more amazing happened.
I found hope.

God used my spirit of fear to spur me forward so that I could spur others forward to love and good deeds (now my ministry verse, Hebrews 10:24).

It is amazing how the enemy stirs up trouble most when God is on the cusp of something brand new and beautiful.

When people discover I’ve written four books, they congratulate me. They ask me how amazing it is to be an author, and I cringe inside. Yes, it’s amazing. But I paid a high price.

They didn’t see the years I struggled in obscurity.

I find myself, once again, in another difficult season. I am back on my anxiety medication. I am praying and asking God to heal me. Although He may never remove my thorn in the flesh, I continue to write. Writing is what God called me to do. No matter how difficult, I must carry my cross.

I thought once God healed me that I would write about my past for His glory. What I didn’t expect was that He wasn’t done with me yet.

It’s amazing how God has used my greatest fear for His greatest glory.

Friends, if you struggle with a spirit of fear–you are not alone. Whether it’s a diagnosable fear, a fear of the unknown, or both–it’s okay to seek help.

When I didn’t quit my job right away to start my writing career, I had to go on disability. I felt like the BIGGEST LOSER on the planet. Combine that with the fact God was calling me into full time ministry at a time in my life when I felt most unworthy.

How would I pay for my bills including health insurance? Did I really want to move back in with my parents again at the age of 27?

Friends, like me, your life might not make sense. God might be calling you to do something you don’t feel you’re ready!


It’s not okay to let your fear stop you from following God. Maybe some day the struggle will end, but until then I hope my story encourages you.

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32, NIV).

Renee Fisher New Headshot

Renee Fisher is an adoring wife to Marc and mom to their pit bull named Star. She is the author of four books, including Forgiving Others, Forgiving Me (Harvest House, 2013). Renee is the editor and founder of DevotionalDiva.com, and loves nothing more than to spur others forward. She is the creator of Quarter Life Conference, a graduate of Biola University, and a spirited speaker and author to the 30-somethings. Connect with her at ReneeFisher.com.


General Thoughts on Not Being Normal


I haven’t written about a quote on writing in a while. Since my guest blogger this month was a writer, I thought I’d do something along those lines tonight.

Besides, this quote was just too priceless to pass up an opportunity…

So here goes.

You know, I used to wish I was normal. All growing up, in high school, in college, I just wanted to be normal. I wanted to be who everyone else thought I should be. I tried so hard to fit into the “normal” thing. To be a “normal” woman. To live a “normal” life.

What was normal to me? Well, basically getting married and having kids and having a husband and following his dreams. Being a missionary or pastor’s wife or something, because that’s the only way you could really, radically follow God in the circles I grew up in.

Really. I’m not joking. That’s what I truly thought I needed to do in order to be normal. To be accepted into womanhood. To be accepted in the “normal” Christian circles I ran around in.

Here’s the thing about normal, though.

It’s fine for normal people.

But I’ve never been normal.

So why try and pretend I am?

As this quote assures me, the “normal” ship sailed a long time ago.

So I’ve quit asking, “What’s normal for other people?” And I’ve started asking, “What’s normal for ME? What does God want from ME?” Not, “What does God want from others, and so I guess I should be doing that, too…”

God has us each on a unique path. Each one of us.

So for me…

Normal isn’t normal.

In fact, it’s pretty weird.

When I look at the sky, I’m always thinking of ways to describe it. The reddish hues of the sunset wafted along on pearly strands of cloud. Hmm, that’s a pretty marvelous description.

When I’m sitting at a coffee shop or subway or restaurant, I’m watching people and creating stories in my head as to why they’re acting the way they do. That woman who just came in looking worn is coming from an abusive home and plotting a way to get out. She has three kids, and she’s wondering how they’re all going to survive this horrible ordeal. But secretly, the barista is in love her. They smile at each other–she’s a regular and he knows her order. He’s going to help her escape…

When I see the world, I’m automatically thinking of ways it could be different. What if trees had leaves that could burst into fire?What if we had creatures we could fly on? What if WE could fly? What if the moon had a ring of stars around it?

What if? What if? What if? The imagination is full of possibilities. (This comes in handy when writing fantasy, I might add…)

I’m thinking of my characters constantly. I LOVE them. They’re ARE real people to me. In fact, if I don’t get to “hang out” with my characters for too long of a time (by writing), I start wilting and missing them very much like I’d miss a dearly loved real friend. (And yes, I promise I have real friends. And I promise I think about real real people, too).

I have conversations with myself all the time about plotline and world and characters and writing. I basically have a running commentary going all the time in my mind about various writing-related issues. Sorry. I just can’t help the creativity flowing in me like running water that really can’t be stopped no matter how hard I try.

I’d rather stay home and lose myself in scenes full of fighting, emotions, adventure, deep questions about life, etc., than go see some cookie-cutter action movie. Boring. I can entertain myself quite well enough, thank you very much.

I’ve always been a deep thinker that sees the world in different shades and angles than the average person. Being a creative writer (and an artist) just does that to you. When I go on a hike, I see a million subtle nuances of color and light and shadow playing in my mind’s eyes. When I see a person, I see their past, present, and future blurred together, their pains and questions and flaws and strengths reflected in their eyes.

This comes with being someone who sees. Who sees all the intricacies and beauties of this world that so many people walk past and never even notice. And I think to myself, “How could you not notice? Where are you living? What do you see?”

And guess what? I’m not normal!

And guess what?? It’s the best thing in the entire world.

Because I’m me. I’m who God made me to be. I’m full of life and bursting with stories and creativity and joy because I feel God’s joy when I write. I absolutely do. I’d rather write and never make a dime than stop writing and pretend to be someone I’m not.

This has been a painful process, I’m not going to lie. There have been times I’ve felt the pain intensely. The pain of not fitting in, the pain of not being normal, the pain of rejection and misunderstanding and feeling alone because I’m just not…normal.

I don’t understand most people. And most people don’t understand me. (But there are/were a handful, those Kindred Spirits of life that are/were hard and few to come by).

Yet when God created me, I think He said, “We’re going to make her a little different. We’re going to make her stand out a little. Because her voice will be used in different ways. And her struggles and her pains will give her a voice. A voice who will help others know they’re not alone. A voice that will color the world in unique tones. A voice that will not be normal, but a voice I still love very much.”

So I’m just gonna stand out. And be different. And hopefully, help others embrace their differences, too. And help others discover joy in the world, and heal from pain, be honest with themselves about their emotions, create stories of adventure and meaning, and do all sorts of other wonderful things.

No, I’m definitely not normal.

That ship sailed long ago.

(And you, whoever you are reading this post, you don’t have to be normal, either. It’s overrated at best. Normal is just a setting on a dryer anyway. Embrace who God made you to be, embrace His love, and see where He takes you. It’s often a painful journey, frought with challenges and trials, but full of so much joy, too. It’s worth it in the end.) 


GUEST BLOGGER – Words of Courage & Healing: How Writing Fiction Helped Me Learn to be Honest With God – Part II

In the month of October, I’m having another guest blogger take over my site. I got to know A.J. Adwen through the blogging world. We soon began to develop a friendship as we discovered we have a love for writing fiction. We both love emotional honesty in writing. We both believe that the only reason to write fiction is to heal—ourselves and others. I love her heart, and I love her personal story, which is one of tragedy and redemption. Please read Part I here before reading the conclusion in Part II.

Words of Courage & Healing:

How Writing Fiction Helped Me Learn to be Honest With God

 Part II

by A.J. Adwen

Let’s jump to the summer of 2009.

I had just gotten out of an extremely destructive relationship in the spring and was still very damaged from it. He was the first person I’d really allowed myself to trust since my divorce from my porn-addicted ex-husband. He’d crushed that trust.

Ever heard the song Stupid Boy by Keith Urban? If not, have a listen. It could have been written to the men in my life.

She laid her heart and soul right in your hands,

And you stole her every dream and crushed her plans.

She never even knew she had a choice,

And that’s what happens when the only voice she hears,

Is telling her she can’t.

Stupid boy.

I was told “You can’t” over and over again. You can’t write, you can’t sing. You can’t, you can’t, you can’t. But what you can do is come to bed with me.

I came to a place where I believed that that was all I amounted to. I remember lying in bed with him, sobbing uncontrollably as I spoke of how much I missed trusting in God. I wanted this man to see that God was real, even though I hated Him myself. I think I wanted this because if he believed, I thought that maybe I could as well.

But he didn’t believe. This man didn’t care about my pain. He only cared about his. We were both very wounded people, and our relationship was bound to crumble. It did, eventually.


That’s when I flew to Los Angeles with one suitcase and my guitar, running into the arms of my best friend from childhood.

I had so many hopes for that new start in LA, but I didn’t fully reach for them because of fear. Fear of flying with wings that were still very much damaged from the storms I had weathered. I learned a lot there. I laughed a lot there. And even though I didn’t chase my dreams while I was there, I can honestly say that my healing had finally begun, even though I didn’t see it yet.

I flew back home when I became too overwhelmed. I felt like such a coward for giving up. I hated myself more than ever, even though a piece of my heart was ironically much more alive than before. It was as if the ice had begun to melt, and I was feeling the sun. That warmth burned. It was almost painful. It made every emotion feel that much more raw.

Eventually, I saw Los Angeles as a stepping stone. A moment of courage where I stepped away from abusive relationships and onto a new path.  A stumbling, winding path towards God.


My best friend had talked in the past about moving to Oklahoma, and I wanted another chance to thrive. That was when a couple of my close friends in Oklahoma opened their arms to me like she had in LA, telling me they would let me stay with them for a while to get on my feet once I moved. It just felt right.

In less than a month, I got myself packed up, and once again embarked on a new journey.

This was in September of 2009.

I was a mess. I ruined friendships. I ran from everything.

It was a struggle to even get out of bed while in their home, and I stayed up until all hours of the night. I hugged my pillow and cried for hours at a time, sometimes even imagining that I was being held, because the pain of being single was overwhelming. I’d grown so dependent on having a man in my life that I didn’t know how to live without one.

But one night, I gave up my hopes and dreams in one single prayer, opening a crevice of my heart to receiving something from the God I’d run from. I told Him that I was finally going to allow Him to work in me. My way wasn’t working at all.


One week later, God brought me the man I now call my husband.

I was so scared. On our first date, I opened my heart and poured everything out, essentially saying, “This is me… take it or leave it.” He took it. He loved every part of me. He encouraged me to keep writing the book that I’d given up on years before.

My first draft was complete garbage. It was stolen anyway when my apartment was broken into. They took my computer and most of my files with it. It was for the best, because that first draft was all a lie.

I didn’t write again until the winter of 2012, but when I did, I wrote Othrinia’s Rain entirely in three months. Ask anyone. In December, I was still keeping my wings clamped to my sides. By March 2013, they were unfolding.


Othrinia’s Rain, the first installment of The Rain Trilogy, isn’t a Christian novel. In fact, I think a lot of Christians might be offended by some of the content. But the heart behind each word is one of a wounded soul seeking healing. The heart, like I said, is one of redemption. And I hope that in some way, readers can draw strength from the trilogy as I write it.

Othrinia’s Rain is a fantasy novel about a girl named Raenah who goes from the embodiment of light to the darkest pit she could possibly imagine. She finds out that her path isn’t at all what she’d been raised to believe it was. As new trials arise, she finds that her truth lies in what she’s always been taught is the worst of evil. She finds that living the way she’s been raised will shackle her to an identity that isn’t her own, and in that, will discover that who she truly is can be redeemed for good. (This may be a little cryptic as far as plot line goes, but I don’t want to give any of the twists of my story away!)

I found it impossible not to pour my heart and soul into Raenah. All of my pain, all of my small victories… they were hers, too. I can’t tell you how many times I cried while writing it. I can’t tell you how many times my husband urged me on, telling me, “You can do it! You can!”

I was so afraid of my secrets being revealed through Raenah. Of people shunning me for the things I wrote in all of their twisted, brutal ways.

I was finally beginning to put my trust in God again. What if people threw stones at me for my thoughts? For the way I expressed myself? What if they told me I wasn’t walking with the Lord, when I knew I finally was?

What if God was ashamed of me for what I wrote?

I know now more than ever that shame is the furthest thing from God’s heart, because each word I wrote was another word that I’d needed to say all along.

God wants our honesty. He wants our pain uninhibited so that He can heal us. I wasn’t willing to say these things to Him directly, but He gave me the faith to write them instead. Through writing a brutally honest story, I learned to be brutally honest with God.


The discovery I made through writing this book is that who I am, who I really am, is a flawed, wretched human being that doesn’t deserve the goodness that God offers. I am not the innocent little girl I used to be. I have experienced true darkness and pain. I have sinned and fallen in ways I never thought I could. Though forgiveness has washed me clean, I am still on this journey of redemption. A path of new growth.

Who I am now is who I am meant to be, pains and mistakes and all, because I can offer truth to those who have been wounded. This position is one I never wanted. It comes a great deal of responsibility. But I know this is God’s plan for me.

I’m not the person I used to be. I am not a perfect little church-going, evangelistic, bible-thumping believer. Before I ever knew the darkness, I accepted the polished, fairytale-like vision of Christ. I never understood why people with so many burdens wouldn’t accept it, too. I get it now. I get why.

Now I love God fiercely with new vigor and understanding. And so I have to infuse my own stories with truth, with honesty, with rawness. I have to tell a story of true pain and darkness that readers can relate to, which is Othrinia’s Rain. Then and only then I can write about redemption, which will be the next books in the series.

I’d like to tell you that I wrote this book and now I’m as good as new, but that would be a lie. I have a long, long road ahead of me. But that’s why I keep writing.

I write to find my wings again.

I write to heal.

And I write because I can.


A.J. Adwen is an Oregon native, born and raised in the mountains. She now resides in Oklahoma with her husband and three cats, where she devotes the majority of her time to writing and photography. You can purchase Othrinia’s Rain at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.


GUEST BLOGGER – Words of Courage & Healing: How Writing Fiction Helped Me Learn to be Honest With God – Part I

In the month of October, I’m having another guest blogger take over my site. I got to know A.J. Adwen through the blogging world. We soon began to develop a friendship as we discovered we have a love for writing fiction. We both love emotional honesty in writing. We both believe that the only reason to write fiction is to heal—ourselves and others. I love her heart, and I love her personal story, which is one of tragedy and redemption. Please read Part I here (it will be in two parts). WARNING: Although not graphic in nature, this article contains possible rape triggers.

 Words of Courage & Healing:

How Writing Fiction Helped Me Learn to be Honest With God

 Part I

by A.J. Adwen

You all know the saying—the one that says life can change in the blink of an eye.

One moment, you have it all together. Sure, things come up that you have to work your way through. Puzzles that need solving, speed bumps that need finesse to handle smoothly. Nobody sails through life without affliction, not a single one of us.

Yet I never thought it could happen to me. That one moment could shake everything I ever thought to be true and right.

I would like to tell you how I survived and how writing has been a means of healing.


The moment that changed my life happened in 2003.

I was living blissfully. I knew Journalism was what I wanted to do as a career and was actively working towards it. I was also closer in my walk with God than I’d ever been before. It was an intimate walk, one I felt sure that I would never stray from. In addition, I had finally begun writing the outline for a book that had been on my heart since I was 14. I wasn’t entirely sure where I was going with it, but I knew I had to write it.

One morning, I woke up to an insistent voice in my heart, telling me to pray for my protection as I went about my day. You have to understand—I was closer to God than I’d ever been, so even though that urge was a little unsettling, I trusted with all of my being that if I prayed for protection, He would grant it. I just knew it.

My life changed that day.

I won’t go into details, because the full scope of what happened isn’t important. What is important is that I lost my innocence that day. It was forced from me by a man who attacked me and left me reeling in pain.

I was introduced to evil. And I was introduced to betrayal by a God I believed would hold me in the palm of His hand.

I knew I couldn’t trust Him anymore.


You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve heard it said, “You know that God didn’t go back on His word. You’re alive today, aren’t you?”

Let me put it this way: If you were being attacked and your own father was standing not ten feet away, hearing your cries for help, wouldn’t you think that your father was either incapable or unwilling to help you the next time something came up?

I vowed that I would never trust God again. I would never trust myself again.

I was standing at a fork in the road, carrying my burdens on bruised and battered arms, choosing the path that I would forge on my own accord.


It’s hard to place hope in anyone when you can’t even trust yourself or God. But that is the lesson I had to learn—that the very one I was running from was the only one who could help me. For years, I lived in the arms of alcohol, meaningless relationships, unhealthy love, and self-destruction. I was the life of the party. The girl everyone wanted at their beer chugging, bong smoking gatherings.

What was once a joyous bond between my Father and I became the complete opposite. I ran. I ran so hard and so fast that my lungs might have burst if I hadn’t have stopped every other day to drown my sorrows in alcohol. I might have held a gun to my head had I not submitted to any man that was willing to take away the pain of what I went through. I felt happy again, trusting only in myself, only later finding out that my pseudo happiness was actually a dark and lonely void.

I used various things to fill the void. I even went so far as to marry a man I didn’t love, in hopes of somehow finding a new start.


It was 2007. Six months into marriage with the man I didn’t really love, I walked in on my new husband looking at pornography.

I laughed.

Not because it was funny, or because I didn’t care. I laughed at the irony of it, at how he had just proven how cheap I really was.

After he left for work, I sat down at the very same computer and scrolled through the history, just to get a full scope of what this man was into. I won’t repeat it. And after installing a password on the internet, more specifically the words, “doyourwifenotporn,” I began to pour out my soul in a Word document.

It was a release of fragmented sentences that I didn’t consider before writing. Maybe this is even why I tend to write in fragments to this day. It’s how I process. It’s how I sort. But I did a “search and find” at the end of those two hours, and one word popped up over 30 times.


I’d never felt so lost.

And after erasing that document, I began a new one. At the top of the page, it was titled The River.

Six years later (September 2013), that book is a published novel. The title eventually changed to Othrinia’s Rain. It’s a play on words—one you might not understand until you read it. This novel helped me heal. This novel, dark as it is, helped me discover God’s truth. God’s longing for me. And its sequel will begin to show that redemption. Its sequel, I hope, will continue the healing process in my heart.

To Be Continued in Part II

AJAdwenA.J. Adwen is an Oregon native, born and raised in the mountains. She now resides in Oklahoma with her husband and three cats, where she devotes the majority of her time to writing and photography. You can purchase Othrinia’s Rain at Amazon.