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Author Lisa Rector writes novels in several genres. 
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Lisa and Emrys

Make the Protagonist Choose the Ultimate Sacrifice

I don’t know about you, but when the protagonist makes the ultimate sacrifice, that grabs me as a reader. That cements me to the character and into the story. As the character wrestles with making the choice, depth is added to the story and the character. And in the end, the sacrifice is what makes the protagonist a hero.

How can we make our protagonist choose the ultimate sacrifice in our writing?

One example of sacrifice a character has to make is in the TV series Moonlight. Vampire private eye Mick St. John has finally become human, and he no longer has his supernatural strength. He’s mortal. He could die. His beloved Beth, a human, is kidnapped. Her life is in danger, and Mick cares about her more than anything in the world. The only way he can save her is by becoming a vampire again, the one thing he despises most. Mick would give anything to stay human, but Beth is more important to him than his humanity. He makes the choice to become a vampire again, and we see that emotion when, in anguish, he slams his friend against the wall and shouts, “They’ve got my Beth!”

Mick convinces his vampire bud Joseph to bite him. As the camera zooms in on Mick as Joseph comes in for the bite, the look on Mick’s face says it all—he just made the ultimate sacrifice—to save someone else. Fans love this! It’s heartbreaking. And it makes a gripping scene.

As a writer, ask yourself—What ultimate sacrifice might the protagonist make to save someone else? What is the biggest deal, the worst thing he could do to himself for the sake of another? Who or what is so important that the protagonist would make this sacrifice? Now set up your story so the protagonist will have a choice to make. And the options aren’t good. The character is in a tough spot—stuck between a bad option and a worse option. Now ask—What series of events will bring your protagonist to the decision that will have to be made? Figuring this out will take some plotting, but the results will be worth the time.

Going back to the sacrifice. What are some things the protagonist might sacrifice? It might be his humanity. The trust of someone he loves so he can be honest with them. Maybe his sacrifice pulls him into a dark place, making him a person he loathes, or his dark side emerges because of his actions, but for the character, the sacrifice would be worth it as long as the loved one is safe. (Think Anikan in Star Wars.) The protagonist might give his life for another, (but death isn’t always the worst fate.)

Whatever the sacrifice, make the choice agonizing. Make the stakes high. Make repercussions follow. The choice has to be so tortured and life changing that the reader will feel it too, especially if the setup in the beginning of the novel is done right and the character is someone the reader is invested in.


Exceptional Series Reviews: The Orphan Ship Trilogy


This is the third post in my exceptional series reviews. And the awesome part about this review? My cousin wrote this series! I even beta read the last novel. Let me tell you, I loved all of it. Mostly the characters. Since it's been a while since I've read the series, here's the reviews I posted once upon a time on Goodreads. 


The Orphan Ship Trilogy 

The Orphan Ship

This is a heartfelt book. The author does a great job at interweaving all the characters together and making you interested in their lives. It’s easy to read with not a lot of unnecessary description. You get how the characters are feeling by their interactions together. The future world is not too spacey or silly rather it feels realistic with references to our time now. It is well written and engaging. Great original concept. I love how the author also weaved elements of different cultures and religions into the novel. Some suspenseful moments and there is enough left for you to wanting more in the next novel. 

The Lost Sheep 

I just love the characters in these novels. This is a fun, grit-filled sci-fi story that continues with Danae’s adventures from the first novel. Not a dull moment. So many scenes that tugged at me. Told from multiple points of views, but the reader is sure to grow to love all the characters. 

The Last Orphan 

This is the perfect ending for the trilogy. 

We are left in the second book with Shima doing something absolutely rash and dangerous. We pick up this book from Blaze’s POV and see Shima’s mistake through his eyes. Intense. Captain Danae Shepherd now has her hands full, and with two gentlemen vying for her affections, the woman is a mess. Danae has much to undertake and her emotions don’t need to get in her way. What I love about Danae is her fire. She is a strong woman, prone to eruptions, but I love that the author has finally given her some romance. 

The novel is filled with tension—some close calls for a few characters. There are many characters that I love. Poor Ting. He is going through a lot. Erik is the ever-capable doctor. Blaze brings the southern, Christian charm. The novel is full of diverse characters, which helps us appreciate other cultures. And the author drives her point across about the slave trade in a way that doesn’t make it seem preachy but rather carefully crafted into her novel. 

The author works some creative aspects in with her POV’s, seeing events unfold through another who you would not expect to be the POV character. It only heightened the tension. I was gasping and sweating. 

The novel finished, nicely concluding the trilogy in a way you won’t be disappointed, because can I tell you? There are a few surprises at the end. 

A clean, easy read. Suitable for all audiences.

Exceptional Series Reviews: Descended


I debated sharing this series review, but since it took me most of March to read, I wanted readers to know what I thought, despite my mixed feelings.

Let me know what you think if you've read the novels.

Book one, Jett.
What would you do if you were a young artist and a famous billionaire personally called you and invited you to his house for a proposition? Haven is more than flabbergasted, especially over the elusive man’s presumptuous nature. As a bold young woman, Haven is more than confident with her skills as an artist. But when Jett doesn’t give the curtesy of making an appearance, speaking to Haven through speakers and spying on her from cameras, Haven bristles and her personality clashes with the overly cocky man.

Sparks of contention fly. Every word they exchange is riddled with meaning and goading, emotion and intimacy. You could say Haven and Jett have effectively dug themselves under each other’s skin.

As the reader, I was so drawn in by how one character was so acutely aware of the other and how Haven had such an effect on Jett. Every time we dipped into Jett’s thoughts from his POV we saw deeper into his mind and soul. Right from the beginning, he couldn’t get Haven out of his mind. What it comes down to, he wants her, so much so, that he begins revealing glimpses of himself to her, against his better judgement. Haven learns more and more just how twisted Jett’s past really is.

But she can’t help herself either. She is drawn to him. And his supernatural abilities. But Jett believes they make him a monster. Here in lies the Beauty and the Beast vibe.

As seductive as the author paints the words to this novel, it’s a clean read. I’d rate it PG-13. Mild swear words. Jett makes several references to how much he desires and wants Haven. So much so that the average Christian reader will be hanging on to—I mean swooning—with every word. Jett is dark. Like Heathcliff or Mr. Rochester. Haven is pure and innocent. She believes in God. Jett does not. Rest assured, they delve into delicious kissing, but it doesn’t go beyond that.

The novel is intense, gripping. Devourable. I must say that I read this with ferocious hunger.

Readers who loved the Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi will enjoy this read.

Book two, Sebastian. This novel almost made me put the series down, but because I purchased the box set, I endeavored to finish it. But book two took me weeks.

A vast amount of the novel talked about the characters coming to know God. It even included sermons and prayer. Those parts grew very lengthy and were hashed back and forth several times as the two main character’s lamented their faith. And while there was talk of faith in the first novel, it happened at the end and was part of the character’s growth, which made it believable. But in this second novel, the character’s debates about faith felt forced and not at all enjoyable to read. 

The most confusing parts—these novels are sensuous. The characters aren’t afraid of passionate kisses and touches and expressing how they feel during such encounters. The reason this was confusing was because one second the novels are teetering on the edge of erotica and the next second the characters are vowing to be chaste and spouting scripture. I had whiplash.

It was a relief when I finished the second book. I didn’t like the characters either.


Book three, Aaro.
I tore through this book. I loved the characters. There wasn’t loads of faith talk. And the book was hot, and it brought in the other characters. The plot was solid as the characters hunted for a serial killer. I really enjoyed seeing the powers of the three Descended and how the characters all worked together.


Book four, Ulrich.
This feels too much like the other novels. All about finding his mate. While I enjoyed the characters in the other novels looking for their mates, much like the other novels, this one had too much talking and not enough action. And by this time the same storyline became old.

The concept of finding his girl in his dreams was fun, but the novel was spent trying to convince a girl to fall in love with him and not be scared of him.

And again, the main guy, Ulrich seemed so focused on sex. Sex seems to be the driving force in these novels. The novel is way too sensual, but the characters never have sex, actually, unless it’s in a dream, but even then, it’s not described. But there are plenty of sensual descriptions of how she makes him feel.

Mostly, I really wanted the characters to stop talking and do something. Anything, even if it was sex. But a bit of action could have been good too. The plot lines in these novels fall by the wayside. They are minor, but thankfully for them or else the novels wouldn’t have much grit.

Bottom line. This novel sends mixed signals, pushing the agenda of being saved, but it leads the reader to believe that fooling around and thinking sensuous thoughts is okay as long as you are saved. Not something I’d want a teenager reading and adopting as a mindset.

My absolute favorite character was Aaro, followed by Jett. But all the men had such different personalities. That made the novels fun. All the women felt too similar for my taste.

Note: This novel had minor grammatical errors that most readers won't notice or care about.

Reader Rated for ages 17+ for detailed fade out sensuality; also contains mild violence and language.

New Release! My Vampire

 My Vampire

Can I just tell you how excited I am about my new release? Vampires and demons, oh my!
Take a look at the blurb below.

Vampires, creatures of darkness.
Their favorite treats… storm sprites.

The blood of a storm sprite makes an intoxicating elixir for most supernatural beings, including vampires. After Killian, a reclusive vampire, comes across Sasha, a rare storm sprite, and saves her life, they develop an unlikely friendship. Because of his constant cravings for her blood, Killian keeps his distance while protecting Sasha from the supernaturals hungering for her. But as his behaviors change and he draws closer, Sasha’s no longer sure of his motivations. One day his cravings will become too much.

When a woman’s brutal murder spirals a hunt for an amulet that has demonic powers, Sasha and Killian are stuck between the feuding demons and vampires who are determined to possess the amulet’s secrets. Sasha must find the amulet for her protection—before she ends up on the wrong end of a demon’s blade, or worse, has her throat ripped out by the vampire she calls hers.

Pick your copy up today on Amazon.

Eliminating Distance by Cutting Out the Filters


I recently read about eliminating distance in writing by cutting out filter words and was able to create an analogy to answer a spiritual question.
Try to follow me.

Filter words create distance between the reader and the story and pull the reader out of a deep emotional experience. By cutting filter words, the reader is drawn into the story and holds on to a meaningful connection with the character.

So, jumping back to the spiritual. Here’s the question. How can we repair the breach between God and us?

How did I use eliminating distance by cutting out filter words as an example to answer this question?

I’ll start by saying, “Don’t put distance between yourself and God. Cut out all the filters.”
How do we do that?

In literature, I often see writers use modals. For instance.

I could hear God.

Usually, the sentence is written this way when a character is in a hazy state or is about to pass out. They can hear but can’t see, and writers like to make sure the readers know it.
But the modal can or could is not necessary.
Let’s go a step farther.

I heard God.

You still might not be able to see God, but you definitely hear Him. But why use the filter word? Heard is passive, creating distance once again between the reader and the story.
So what’s next?
Try writing it this way.

God speaks to me.

The writer has cut out the filter word. The sentence is active. God speaking to the character is a sure thing. It’s written in a powerful way.

So we go from hazily hearing God to hearing Him to acknowledging that He speaks to us.

Let’s pretend the filter words are a metaphor for something in our lives that creates distance between God and us. What can we cut out to restore or strengthen the relationship? What in our lives bogs us down, only letting us vaguely hear promptings? What blocks the connection between Deity and us? What keeps us from drawing closer to God and having a deep abiding trust in Him? How can we have an active relationship with God?

The first step is acknowledging the things we need to do to repair the breach, whatever it may be. And then act. If we do these things and ponder the above questions, we can have a greater relationship with our Father in Heaven.


Exceptional Series Reviews: The Watchmen Saga


So this year, I’m doing something different with my reading. Usually, ever since I’ve had my handy kindle app, I’ve downloaded free novels from indie authors. I’d read the novel and leave a review, to help out an indie author. But this year, I’m going to tackle whole series. If the first novel merits five stars, in my opinion, then I’ll buy the next. I decided to start with the oldest novels on my kindle, books I’ve downloaded as long as three years ago. My goal is also to clean the books off my kindle app as I go. I give every novel 10 pages or so to hook me. If it doesn’t, goodbye. Right now I have 282 books on my kindle app. Let’s see how well I do this year.

I’m also going to review the series I read that I think other readers would enjoy.

So without further ado, here’s the first series that took me most of February to finish.

The Watchmen Saga by Kathleen C. Perrin. The Keys of the Watchmen, The Sword of the Maiden, and The Secret of the Abbey. I’d have to say this series could be described as a history of the Mont Saint Michel and it’s abbey, along with some pivotal moments in French history, plus, deep historic Christian religious controversy disguised as an epic time travel adventure with two heroes who are willing to put their love on hold to save the world. Each novel covers an epic moment in the mount’s/French history. The first novel thwarts a siege on the mount, the second novel involves Joan of Arc (which was pretty cool), and the third novel dives into the history surrounding Catherine de' Medici and the protestant and catholic conflicts. It is all really cool.

Now here’s the clincher. The author dives into long passages of history. But this didn’t make me put the novel down. Why? Because I was so into the fictional story of the two characters, Katelyn Michaels and Nicolas le Breton. I have not read a more awesome time travel adventure.
So what to do about the deep history? It depends on the type of reader you are. I knew what parts to skim and what parts were pertinent to the story. Unfortunately, each novel does become longer on the history. Just skim it. That’s my best advice. Truly, what I would like to see is an abridged version of all the novels. But like I said—this is an excellent story. Check out my reviews below.

And just a note. Check out the Look Inside on Amazon to see if these novels are truly for you. Reading the sample will give you an idea of the author’s writing style. And don’t be thrown by the prologue of book one. That’s just a cool POV from Eve’s perspective. Keep reading all of the sample to be sure you’re hooked.


This novel is exceptional!

I have never read such an amazing novel. The way the author wove in history with fiction was simply outstanding. The story was gripping. The characters, amazing. As the action unfolded, the story just kept getting better and better.

While this is a Christian read, with quoted scripture and reference to things that happen in the Bible, the details only added to the story. I was fully immersed. Katelyn did some unbelievable things, but the author wove it so that she was guided by the archangel Michael himself. So if you can believe the power of spiritual promptings, then you can believe the unbelievable in this story.

A few parts of the story were repetitive in that something would happen in one point of view and then it would be recounted in another point of view. A lot of history is laid down in the beginning. If you can get through it, the story is well worth the read. I would rate this novel 4.5 stars because of the slow parts, but I rounded up to5 because it means I plan to read more in the series.

Note. A few grammar and proofreading issues, even some formatting that’s wonky.

Reader Rated for ages 14+ for mild violence and language.


This is an exceptional novel!

Like with the first novel, this one does not disappoint. I can’t express how much I enjoyed this story. Just know, it left me with a deep ache because I had been so immersed in the story. Once it was over, I was left empty. I will most definitely need to read the next one for more Katelyn and Nicolas.

As with the first story, and even more so in this one, the reader is immersed in deep history. Many passages are so long and heavy, I did skim over them. But whenever action happened, I was sure not to miss it. The last quarter of the novel was intense. I was moved extremely by Katelyn’s plight. And poor Nicolas! It’s amazing how the author invented the fictional story to go along with the real adventures of Joan of Arc. And I was intrigued by the author’s descriptions of Katelyn’s technology use in the past and how she made everything work while keeping her secret of being from the future.

Reader Rated for ages 14+ for mild torture and mild violence.


You’ll still want to read this one...

I cannot tell you how much I love and hate this series at the same time! The fictional story is artful and emotional. Truly brilliant. But the historical information is just too much. I did enjoy this period of history in that I recognized many of the names, such as Catherine de' Medici, from the hit TV show Reign. That certainly helped a lot and pulled me into the story. But alas, I did skim most of the historical info. I would LOVE to see an abridged version of this novel and the two prior ones, with just the fictional story and an abbreviated history. Pull together every scene with Katelyn and Nicolas and all the ACTION—then this would be an unstoppable series. But, I must say, history buffs will love this and those wanting to learn about the history of the mount will love this regardless.

And just when you think the story is too bogged down by historical information, the action starts again and it is brilliant. Hang in there, especially past the lengthy beginning scenes of Katelyn’s actually getting to France. The story is a ride and is so worth it.

BUT, I love Katelyn’s love story and her adventures. All of it. From the very beginning novel to this one. I love her character. I love Nicolas. I always want more, more, more of them. Their interactions will always surprise you. That is what I felt—surprise around every turn.

Katelyn is masterful at deception. And the way she holds herself calm and is able to think through a crisis is commendable. Her poise with a minor character Paul! Oh, wow!

Unfortunately the ending drags when you just want to get to the happily ever after. The author chooses to dump all the untied ends into an hour of reading. But rest assured. No stone is left unturned and the novel comes full circle.

Reader Rated for ages 14+ for mild violence.