interview with author Angela R. Watts + THE DIVIDED NATION book tour & giveaway!

The Divided Nation

Angela R. Watts’ newest book, The Divided Nation, releases TODAY.  I haven’t yet read it but I’ll always support good Christian dystopia…and I’m pretty excited for this one. (If you remember, I helped with the cover reveal for TDN a while back.)  You can check out the full schedule of book tour posts on Angela’s website.

The Divided Nation (The Infidel Books #1)

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WHEN THE NATION DIVIDES, THE INFIDELS MUST RISE.

The United States has fallen. Three years after the 2024 presidential election and the declaration of martial law, the nation is at war against itself. Gangs battle, civilians struggle for survival, and officials of the United Nations  thrive. West Johnston, heir to the most powerful ganglord in the country, refuses to continue the family legacy. But, in order to defeat his father, he must become him: bloodthirsty and willing to do whatever it takes for control.

West gains control by helping fellow gangsters, Nate and Simon, when they form an alliance with one of the last remaining townships in America. After years of surviving and winter fast approaching, Springtown is in desperate need of supplies from the two teenagers. When the town leader’s daughter, Rene, is kidnapped by an unknown rival, Nate and Simon risk their reputations to save her and the town they now love. But without help from West, their rescue mission will fail.

Told in multiple bold, abrasive narratives, THE DIVIDED NATION steps into a future where brotherhood bonds must be stronger than iron to survive a broken world, and faith without courage is dust in the wind.

The Divided Nation is available on Amazon, starting today!  You can also add it to your Goodreads shelf here.

Author Interview

Angela allowed me to interview her for the book tour and I loved all her answers.  I hope you do too!

Welcome to the blog, Angela!  To start things off, I’m super interested to know what inspired you to write faith-based dystopia.

This world is wicked. God is Holy. Most dystopian novels are without Jesus and thus, very morbid, dark, and non satisfactory. Lots of Christians dislike the genre because of this. Lots of readers are tired of the genre because if this.

I like the genre, but I’m not all for the “end days means there is no hope, no fix, no love!”… I’m all for the end days fiction that look at the book of Revelation and say, “Hey, things are evil, but God wins.” Since there isn’t much of it, I decided to write it.

It’s so important to show people that there is still hope for the future.  Yet even with so much hope, Christian dystopias can still be heartwrenching.  Did you ever cry while writing The Divided Nation?

I… think so… yes. Some scenes hurt but I didn’t allow myself tears. Some scenes… I agonized over… I can confirm I’ve cried more than once over this series as a whole.

I’ve cried over my own writing, so I definitely feel your pain.  On the brighter side…is there a song or album that reminds you of The Divided Nation?

IS THERE EVER. I have a Spotify and Youtube playlists, both still lacking songs that remind me of the book, but here are the links…

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLGzmN7fP4KCFL_ZPyHPuQoodU1wxTIc26

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3uh18Bqv3Me2p9o3kze0c7

I’ll have to check those out!  How many rewrites did you go through?

One first draft, a second draft rewrite, then no rewrites from there. Just betas and edits.

That amount of rewrites is what I aspire to in my own writing. 😀  Any advice for Christian writers hoping to break into dystopian fiction?

Be bold and hold fast to God. The fact is, not every Christian reader wants a novel that glorifies Christ when it scares them. And dystopian is terrifying. So don’t write with the mindset of “I’m going to please people because this genre is lacking!”. Write with the mindset of, “God gave me this story and I will glorify Him with it, even if this is unknown water.”

People are going to scrutinize our work because we’re Christians so, yes, we should definitely put out our best work and pray that it inspires and helps others.  What is the number one thing you hope people take away from The Divided Nation?

I hope they’re encouraged that we’re all sinners and broken and scared… But God is more powerful than our demons. We each must make a choice… Good or evil. I hope this novel helps each of us answer this question.

And lastly, just for fun: what is your favorite dystopian book or movie (besides your own!)?

Jericho is one of the BEST TV shows ever about apoc times. Alas, Babylon was a cute dystopian novel. In general, I didn’t get into Divergent, The Hunger Games, etc… I’m trying The Maze Runner series but it is more virus oriented and I’m often more interested in political dystopias.

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions, Angela!  It was great talking with you.

rsz_17597325Angela R. Watts is a Christian fiction author who strives to glorify the Lord in all she does. She’s a homeschooled highschooler living at Step By Step Sanctuary, Tennessee, though with Gypsy and Norwegian in her blood, she tends to travel. She’s been writing stories since she was little, but also enjoys chores, painting, and watching sunsets.

Facebook ::: Website  ::: Amazon ::: Instagram  ::: Goodreads

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IMPORTANT DETAILS: US shipping only. If an international winner is drawn, they will receive an ebook only.  1st place: hardback copy of The Divided Nation. A custom mug with a quote from the book, bookmark, and an exclusive snippet from The Infidel Books.  2nd place: paperback copy of The Divided Nation, bookmark.  3rd place: ebook copy of The Divided Nation.  You can enter the giveaway HERE.

Do you enjoy Christian dystopian novels – or dystopian novels in general?  Let me know in the comments!

Eva

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my favorite westerns that aren’t actually westerns

This blog post is part of the Legends of Western Cinema Blog Party that’s being hosted by Hamlette’s Soliloquy, Along the Brandywine, and Meanwhile, in Rivendell…

What makes a Western film?

According to Mirriam-Webster, a Western is “a novel, story, motion picture, or broadcast dealing with life in the western U.S. especially during the latter half of the 19th century”.  If we’re going by that definition, the movies on my list might actually be Westerns.  But usually when we think of the genre, we think of ‘High Noon’, ‘Rio Bravo’, ‘The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance’, ‘Shane’, or ‘True Grit’ – movies set in the mid to late 1800’s that feature cowboys and saloons and cattle drives and marshals and outlaws who wear black hats.

And if we’re going by that definition, these movies I’m going to talk about aren’t really Westerns.

Friendly Persuasion (1956)

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I’ve never quite figured out whether or not movies set a little before and during the American Civil War are Westerns…but I tend to doubt it.  Also, Friendly Persuasion takes place in Indiana which I don’t think is considered ‘the West’? (Though I could be wrong on that since I’m Canadian.)

ANYWAY.  This is one of my favorite movies of all time.  For the first half of the film, there’s a lot of fun – a fair, The Piano Incident, the buggy race. Friendly Persuasion is sweet and funny and heartwarming – at the beginning.  But then the Civil War breaks into the characters’ peaceful Quaker world and things get messy.  I consider Friendly Persuasion a Not Western because it’s set in 1860’s America and the characters run a farm and there’s shooting and all that…but it’s more of a family-during-wartime drama than a proper Western.

Hidalgo (2004)

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More people need to watch this movie!  It’s a unique mash-up of three different cultures: middle Eastern, faux Western, and Native American.  The days of the Wild West are pretty much over and now Buffalo Bill is exploiting that bygone era for all it’s worth.  The main character – Frank Hopkins – is half Native American and spends the whole movie struggling to reconcile the two parts of himself.  And then, of course, most of Hidalgo takes place in the Middle East.

There’s horses and lots of dust and the kind costuming associated with Westerns.  But Hidalgo is very much its own genre – and the fact that it’s mostly set in the Najid Desert (and other parts of the Middle East) disqualifies it from being considered a Western.

No Country for Old Men (2007)

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My mom loathes this movie so I was a bit unsure going into it.  But…I ended up loving it.  There’s an art to the Coen brothers’ directing style that makes the analytical part of my brain happy.  It’s pretty obviously not a traditional Western – both in its time setting (1980 instead of 1880) and the movie’s theme(s).  Basically, the old, noble world (like that of actual Westerns) is crumbling and people had better be prepared or they’ll crumble too.

There’s so much going on in this movie that it would take a full-on review to explain just why I enjoy it so much.  But even though it isn’t a Western, there’s still a good vs. evil struggle and the place setting is the same.  Plus, cowboy hats and an upstanding sheriff. 😉

So tell me – are there any Not Westerns that you enjoy?  Have you seen any of the movies on my list?  Let me know in the comments!

Eva

the legends of western cinema week tag

This blog post is part of the Legends of Western Cinema Blog Party that’s being hosted by Hamlette’s Soliloquy, Along the Brandywine, and Meanwhile, in Rivendell…

1) Do you tolerate, like, or love westerns?

LOVE LOVE LOVE.  Even if a western movie isn’t the absolute best, I’ll still usually enjoy it for the atmosphere, costumes, setting, etc.  And when a western movie is great? *intense fangirling ensues*  Like 3:10 to Yuma?  Or Rio Bravo?  Unbeatable.  Just…so, so good.

2) What do you enjoy about them and, more broadly, the west itself (e.g. the history, accompanying paraphernalia, etc)?

Okay, so, this is probably going to sound reeeeeally weird but I think the thing I love most about westerns is the simplicity of them.  So many take place in a relatively small setting: almost always a town of some kind.  Or a ranch.  It’s pretty easy to tell who the good and bad guys are.  And westerns embrace genre tropes in a way that doesn’t annoy me.  Sure, it might make them a bit predictable at times but they’re like comfort food for me so it’s all good. 🙂

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3) What’s the first western you can remember watching?

*strains my brain*  The only thing that’s coming to mind is Seven Brides for Seven Brothers which is more a frontier flick (#alliteration) than a western.  And I LOATHED it, which really weirds me out now because I enjoy it these days.

4) Who are your favorite western stars, the ones whose presence in a western will make you pick it up off the shelf?

GLENN FORRRRRD.  “Always and forever.” (Napoleon Dynamite reference.)  If I see he’s in a movie – any movie, not just a western – I will watch it SO FAST.  He’s arguably my favorite actor and I cannot get enough of his acting, his voice, and his face. (Lol.)  There are other actors, like Dana Andrews or James Coburn or Lee Marvin who I love seeing in westerns but I think of Glenn Ford as more of a quintessential westerns actor.

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5) What’s your favorite performance by an actress in a western?

Either Vera Miles as Hallie Stoddard in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance or Gene Tierney as Marcia Stoddard (whyyyyy do they have the same last name – literally just realized this as I was writing the blog post and it’s sending me into the Matrix or something) in The Secret of Convict Lake.  Both are tough (yet feminine) female characters who don’t take guff from anyone and are incredibly independent and self-reliant.  Come to think of it, all of my favorite female characters in westerns could be described that way. (Like Maddie Ross in True Grit.)

6) What is your “go-to” western, the one you’ll typically reach for?

It changes from time to time, but the current trio are The Magnificent Seven (OG, not remake), Rio Bravo, and 3:10 to Yuma.  All three are well-watched, well-loved, and well-made.

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7) Do your family/friends share your interest in westerns, or are you a lone ranger (pun completely intended)?

I don’t even have a Tonto to keep me company.  None of my family except my two sisters watch movies with me – Bekah thinks westerns are totally boring and Elisabeth hates all but a couple.  SO I’M COMPLETELY ALONE.  It’s very sad. (But at least I have internet friends to make up for it!)

8) Pick one western to live inside for a week, and explain why you chose it.

The Magnificent Seven.  When they’re not being attacked by Calvera, the Mexican village seems like a REALLY fun place to live.  So busy and interesting and I would love to stay there for a week.  Particularly during the time when they’re all prepping for Calvera’s inevitable return. (Though I actually doubt I’d enjoy it much since I’d be all [in my head] “You’re going to die so soon and you’re going to die and you’re going to die…”)

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9) What are some of your favorite lines from western movies? Are there any you quote regularly?

I’m not really someone who collects favorite movie lines in their head (or a notebook).  Whenever someone offers to do a coin toss, I’ll say “Well, I-I have to know what we’re flipping for” which is from No Country For Old Men (not an typical western…but more on that later this week).  Oh, and this is super random, but whenever I’m eating meat, I’ll say “Can you cut the fat off?  I don’t like the fat.”  It’s a quote from 3:10 to Yuma and it’s become an inside joke between me and one of my brothers (he watched 3:10 with me once).  But that’s all I can think of right now.

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If you want to answer this tag, you can find a clean list of the questions here.

Eva

the sunshine blogger award (again?)

Emily, of Altogether Unexpected, awarded me the Sunshine Blogger Award.  I believe I may have been given this award before but I’m not sure and her questions are fun, so we’re going with it.  The rules are: display the graphic, thank the person you gave you the award (thanks, Emily!), answer the nominator’s eleven questions, ask eleven of your own, and nominate eleven other bloggers.

I’m adhering to all of those rules except the last one because I’ll be on vacation when you read this and I won’t be able to tell people that they’ve been nominated. 🙂

Emily’s Questions

In what city were you born?

Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  I’ve never actually lived there – I was just born there. (Much of my life was spent three or fewer hours away from Toronto though.  Until my family moved to Edmonton.)

Which book made you a bibliophile?

Um…I can’t remember that far back.  According to the internet, a bibliophile is someone who collects and loves books and I’ve been obsessed with reading/owning allll the pretty books for longer than I can remember.  I do think that Northanger Abbey was my introduction to the bookish fangirl life, so there’s that.

What is your favorite film?

Right now?  ‘A Quiet Place’.  Just watched it again last night and I maintain that it’s one of the very few absolutely perfect movies out there.  I cannot get over the soundtrack, Emily Blunt’s performance, or John Krasinski’s AMAZING directing skills.  They’d better not mess up the sequel. (I’M BEGGING IT TO BE GOOD.)

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What is your favorite Bible verse?

I’ve always found John 21:25 to be extremely awesome.

And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.

Like?  It’s just amazing.  Thinking of all those other things that Jesus did (and does and will do) and how John is so matter of fact that all the books in the world can’t contain this Person.

Favorite episode of Sherlock?

ACK.  How?  Can I choose?  There are things that I love about each one.  So many things.  I’m probably going to go with ‘The Riechenbach Fall’ though because there’s sooooo much going on and I love how loyal John is and all the Moriarty and Sherlock is BRILLIANT (as usual).  It’s a very deep, cool episode and it makes me emotional which I like because I’m That Sort Of Person.

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Though I also adore ‘The Final Problem’.  I know a lot of the fans dislike it because it veers away from the show’s tone and mood and all that but I love the creepiness and desperation and familial connections. ❤ (And you-know-who’s Not Return.)

First foreign country?

Venezuela.  My mom was pregnant with me when she went there on a missions trip. (But other than that, I’ve only been to the States.  Boring, right?)

Favorite food?

Pizza.  And poutine.  And Chinese cuisine.  EAT ALL THE FOODS.

British accents or Scottish accents?

Irish, thank you very much. 😉

First Marvel film?

‘Captain America: The First Avenger’.  Fell in love with Cap, Marvel, and superheroes in general because of that movie.  It’s almost a betrayal to say that I’m more of a DC fan now. *cringes*

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Who is your favorite British actor/actress?

My favorite British actor is Tom Felton and my favorite British actress is Emily Blunt.

When did you start blogging, and why?

Okay, so the earliest blog of mine that’s still knocking around is TotallyHorseCrazyAndHorseStories (what a mouthful!) which was started in February 2011.  But I think I had a card-making how-to blog before that.  I was sooooo cringy.  Someday I’m going to revisit old posts from previous blogs and laugh at them on this blog, lol.  I started blogging because it was what everyone else was doing and I wanted to share my love for cards, horses, books, Jane Austen…and eventually everything.  Blogging has been a part of my life for over eight years and I doubt I’ll stop anytime soon.

My Questions

  1. Least favorite animal?
  2. Are you afraid of spiders?
  3. Have you ever watched a movie that scared you?
  4. What color is your phone case?
  5. Do you collect anything?
  6. What is your favorite time of day?
  7. Old Testament or New Testament?
  8. What’s your preferred writing implement? (Pen, pencil, etc…)
  9. Have you ever read a comic book?
  10. Hamilton or Dear Evan Hansen?
  11. What do you think of Disney’s live action remakes?

Let me know your answers in the comments or on your blog! (If you want to participate.)

Eva

announcing the winner of the ‘Name the Cat!’ contest

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I got a ton of responses from you guys, regarding the naming of a cat in my novel, The Darkness is Past.  The book itself is nowhere near publication but I’m hoping that it’ll be in print someday. (Someday soon-ish?)  Anyway, there were a ton of great names submitted…but unfortunately, there can only be one winner.

And the name that won the contest isssss…

‘Misha’

Submitted by ‘awesomestarreadergal’, whoever that is. 😉  If you’re her, please email me at evaschon1793@gmail.com and we can work out all the details of your Amazon gift card, mailing address for autographed copy of (future) book, etc.

Thanks so much, everyone who participated!  I hope to do another one of these contests in the future.

Eva

analyzing russell crowe in ‘Gladiator’

The general who became a slave. The slave who became a gladiator. The gladiator who defied an emperor. (I know Commodus says this line, which sucks, but it’s still a really good quote.)

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I’ve made no secret of my love for ‘Gladiator’ (2000).  It’s a near-perfect film and Russell Crowe always blows me away with his portrayal of Maximus.  So when someone on Quora slammed his performance, saying that he never changes expression, only has three or so lines, and should never have won an Oscar for the role…I knew I had to write a rebuttal.

(Also, I said I’d write about Maximus for the Blizzard of Oz Blogathon.  So yusss)

GENERAL

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One of my favorite parts of ‘Gladiator’ is the first half hour (before everything goes to pieces).  Maximus is a brilliant general, though a war-weary one who can’t wait to return home to his wife, son, and farm.  Yet he will stay for his emperor…and for Rome.  By watching how his men respect and trust him, you can tell that Maximus is a great leader.  Their loyalty to him (and his to them) is really awesome and part of me wishes that they could have come to his aid later in the movie (the way he’d planned).

Maximus is first and foremost a loyal soldier of and to the Roman Empire and in the  opening scenes of the film, Russell Crowe projects authority and respect for Marcus Aurelius (and the emperor’s family).

SLAVE

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With the murder of Marcus Aurelius, Maximus’s life becomes forfeit.  Sure, he could have taken Commodus’s hand and sworn allegiance to the new emperor, but with Commudus’s changeable moods and paranoia it would have only been a matter of time before he had Maximus killed.  So Maximus’s family is killed and he himself is captured by slave traders.

Maximus’s brand, the one proving him to be a former soldier of Rome, is what convinces Proximo (a guy who owns gladiators…idk what his official title is?) to buy him.  When put up against a seasoned gladiator (to see if he’ll be slated for a quick death or become a gladiator himself), Maximus refuses to fight.  I think a big part of that is because Marcus Aurelius was against gladiatorial fights and Maximus still considers himself loyal to the former emperor.

Russell Crowe portrays Maximus with a variety of emotions in this section of the film: furious over the death of the emperor (though he hides it pretty well), absolutely heartbroken over the gruesome deaths of his wife and son, indifferent as to whether he lives or dies while in the slave market, and quietly defiant once purchased by Proximo.

GLADIATOR

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This section of the film is the longest.  Obviously.  Even though Maximus refuses to fight for a place in the rankings, Proximo labels him a good fighter and throws him into the arena.  Once inside, Maximus’s survival instincts take over and he kills.  And kills.  And kills.  He hates the mobs who scream his name with bloodlust.  But he kills and, because of his military training, he’s very good at it.

When Commodus is made emperor, he hosts a spectacle of killing games so Proximo packs up his gladiator troupe (including Maximus, of course) and heads to Rome…and to the Colosseum.  Over the course of a few battles in the arena he gains the gaze of Rome.  The battles are AMAZING, in that they highlight Maximus’s ability to lead and gain the loyalty of just about anyone; all the gore isn’t amazing, though, so please don’t think I’m a weirdo who likes seeing lots of blood and hacked off limbs.

Anyway, he gets everyone’s attention.  Including Commodus’s, who quickly finds out his true identity and fumes because he can’t figure out a way to kill Maximus while making himself look good.  Maximus also catches the eye of a senator and with the help of Commodus’s sister, Lucilla, they concoct a plan to remove Commodus from power.

Only it goes horribly, horribly wrong and Maximus is dragged into the arena one last time.  This time, he goes up against Commodus (who wounded him, almost fatally, before the match).

I-I can’t say enough good things about Russell Crowe’s acting.  He’s furious and saddened about the position he’s been put in – killing other human beings.  He desperately misses his family.  He forges new loyalties and friendships with fellow gladiators. (That scene where the one guy tastes his food???  MY HEART.)  And there’s an undercurrent of melencholy in each of his scenes; it hits me so hard. (“My wife…and my son…are already waiting for me.”  WAAAAAAAA.)

LEGEND

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Okay, okay, I get that Maximus wasn’t a real person.  I get it.  But in the world of the movie, he becomes a legend.  He kills Commodus.  He frees the prisoners.  He single-handedly saves Rome, okay??? (Melodramatic?  Yes.  But I wouldn’t have it any other way.)  And then, finally, he goes to be with his family in one of the most uplifting/sob-worthy movie endings ever.

And Russell Crowe nails every moment of it.  In this part of the film and all the ones proceeding it.  Just…incredible.

He totally and completely deserved his Oscar.

*’Now We Are Free’ starts playing*

Now we are free. I will see you again.  But not yet…not yet!

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I’m going to need a moment, ‘kay?

Eva

cover reveal: ‘the divided nation’ by angela r. watts

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ze author.

Christian dystopia has become one of my favorite genres ever since I, um, wrote one.  So I’m hugely pleased to participate in this cover reveal.  I’ve gotten to know Angela a bit in the past couple of days as we hashed out details of the cover reveal/other author stuff, and she’s a really great person to work with. 🙂  I’ve also read/enjoyed her short story, Emmanuel (which is currently free on Kindle), so I can safely say she’s a good author as well.

Here’s the synopsis of Angela’s newest work The Divided Nation (book one of the Infidel Books), which will release in August 2019:

The United States has fallen. Three years after the 2024 presidential election and the declaration of martial law, the nation is at war against itself. Gangs battle, civilians struggle for survival, and United Nations officials thrive. George Johnston is a powerful ganglord of his own rising empire, but his son, West, refuses to continue the family legacy. Unable to run, West must become his father to defeat him.

One of the last remaining townships in America, Springtown fights to survive the nation’s destruction. The Fisher family begins an alliances with gangsters Nate Savage and Simon Bucks in exchange for town supplies. When Mr. Fisher’s daughter, Rene’, is kidnapped and her Union officer brother leaves her for dead, Nate and Simon must risk all to save her.

Told in a bold, abrasive narrative, THE DIVIDED NATION steps into a future where brotherhood bonds must be stronger than iron to survive a broken world and faith without courage is revealed to be dust in the wind.

Yep.  I think this’ll be good. ❤  You can add it to your Goodreads to-read shelf if you’re so inclined.

And without further ramblings…THE COVER:

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Appropriately dystopian AND great design for future books in the series to follow!  I especially love how ‘DIVIDED’ is divided. 😉

What do YOU think of this cover?  Are you excited to read The Divided Nation?  What’s your favorite Christian dystopian novel?  Let me know in the comments!

Eva