Brandan’s Tests

palaceoftwelvepillars200x300 (2)All day Croifan and Brandan rode through sunshine, cooled by a gentle breeze.


Early spring in the Anna Mountains was unpredictable especially the closer to Mt. Evercidara they drew. At a height of almost fifteen thousand feet, the mountain
created its own weather patterns, increasing the chance of a blizzard. 

When the group awoke at dawn, the weather was decidedly colder than the
previous night. Fat snowflakes swirled in the gray sky.

“Ready the horses. We must move out,” Croifan called to the others.
They collected the few supplies they carried and headed farther into the
mountains. Soon the flurries increased in strength until they became a blizzard.
The two groups were forced to travel together so no one would become lost in the
severe storm. Snow piled up to the horses’ knees, and they struggled through the
drifts. The four riders dismounted and led their steeds through the tenacious wind
and snow. It wasn’t long before walking through the howling wind and vicious
weather became treacherous. Croifan stopped and told the guards to quickly search
for shelter.


While working on Palace of the Twelve Pillars I reached a point where Prince Brandan was set to go on a journey of communion with Asha. The original journey I wrote had been too easy and critiquers didn’t understand why it was necessary for him to take this journey if the outcome was so easy. So I had to ratchet it up a few notches. My family and I were living in the state of Washington at the time with Mt. Rainier forever looming in our horizon. We had visited this beautiful mountain our first summer living in Puyallup. One of the things that struck me was the temperature drop as you drove up the winding mountain road and what would be hot and sunny at the bottom would quickly become jacket chilly by the time you reached the visitors center. And you could see by looking at the intimidating bulk of the mountain with it’s snow capped peak that the further you proceeded up the mountain the colder it would get.

Through these adjustments we see Brandan having to change or at least suppress some of his attitudes to survive and we wonder if he will change or continue with his superior ways.

These scenes serve to show the reader a little more about Brandan, who he is and who he might become. Once they arrive at the Cave of Njori we see him facing a few more challenges that will test his soul.

He stood at the base of Mt. Evercidara. The air rumbled and vibrated with the
explosion coming from the mountain. From the summit, ash, smoke, and flames
spewed from the gaping cavern created by the explosion. Lava rampaged down the
sides, cutting down large glingkol trees as if they were a child’s playthings.
Animals running for cover were soon buried in the onslaught.

The villagers were running, trying to escape the deluge threatening to incinerate the valley. A toddler escaped her mother and tottered toward the encroaching lava and Brandan.
His heart beat wildly, and his pulse thundered in his ears. Sweat soaked his
clothing as he shivered with fear.
Catching the reins of a wandering horse, he leaped into the saddle and galloped
past the toddler and her mother. The mother realizing the looming fate of her child
rushed to save the little one from the impending flood. She looked at Brandan, her
eyes begging him to help, as she screamed the child’s name.


One of the other things that struck me about Mt. Rainier was that it is an active volcano. Having grown up in Pennsylvania I never experienced the awareness of living in the path of a volcanic eruption. What better way to start of Brandan’s tests than to put him in that path. With this as well as the tests to follow we learn more about Brandan and how he will respond in different situations.We see Brandan in ways that we don’t see him when he is in the family and palace situations. We see Brandan as he really is, unencumbered with the structures of his society.

Mt. Rainier inspired me and supplied me with an avenue with which to test a prince and show him as he truly was. Brandan will face many tests in the telling of the story, but I think this first tests can be used to establish a baseline from where all his future decisions will be made.

To see more of Brandan check out Palace of the Twelve Pillars: Book One


News and Updates

11203056_1444953639148763_2136705268170045855_n (1)Women of the Bible: A Study

I released the print as well as the e-version through Create Space a little over a year ago and have consistently been selling one or two copies a month.

What can women who lived over 2000 years ago teach us about living in today’s hectic world? The answer to that question is; Lots, especially if you are looking to God for the answers. Through Eve, the Mother of all and of original sin. Sarah and Hagar tried to take matters into their own hands. Rachel and Leah are two sisters fighting for the love of one man. Delilah is an example of how we shouldn’t behave. Naomi and Ruth, a mother and her daughter-in-law, we see self sacrifice. Michal and Bathsheba show us the positive and negative side of forgiveness and tolerance. With Elizabeth, we see the willingness to look past her own triumphs while she seeks to help someone whose triumphs will eclipse her own. Mary, the mother of Jesus besides being an example for all mothers, gives us an example of totally giving oneself to God. Mary Magdalene will show us about finding love and satisfaction with God.
Through these women we can learn how to keep our faith and follow God’s path in even the most trying of times. They prove that God is always with us no matter how far we fall as long as we look to Him for forgiveness and love.
The lessons span the eons and these women still have lessons to teach us.



Palace of the Twelve Pillars Trilogy



Not much new to report here. Palace of the Twelve Pillars: Book One celebrated it’s three year anniversary in April 2016. Here is a new review of it:

Palace of the Twelve Pillars
4 Stars

Palace of the Twelve Pillars by Christina Weigand is a good fantasy fiction story for young adults that kept me enthralled.  Though it is listed as a Christian story, I didn’t really see why.  In fact, the claim of it being a Christian story is confusing as monotheism does not appear within the plot.  There are dragons, magic, gods, healers, and even dream manipulation, which all lead to interesting plot concepts, but modern views of Christianity are lacking in my opinion.  Twin brothers, Brandan and Joachim, are princes in their kingdom.  Ultimately, the Palace of Twelve Pillars is a story of the battle between good and evil.  Weigand explores the balance of the dark and the light between the brothers as well as within themselves.  There is a lot of family drama at the core of this story.  It’s certainly held my interest, but I wanted more – more depth overall.

Christina Weigand focuses almost solely on the constant struggle between the two brothers.  In fact, it almost seemed like they never left the castle.  I wanted to know about the kindom and the delicate balance of light and dark that was happening outside the walls of the family castle.  The author does a good job of describing the story and the main characters, but I was confused at times by the supporting characters.  It was often too hard to tell if they were good or evil – what was their actual intent.  Palace of the Twelve Pillars also felt like a coming of age story alongside the delicate balance and sometimes the fullblown war between the dark side and the light side everyone has within.  An interesting story, it leaves you ready for Book Two, Palace of the Three Crosses.

Originally reviewed by Rob Alex of

Palace of the Three Crosses: Book Two will celebrate its third anniversary in September 2016. Here is a recent review of it:

Palace of the Three Crosses

4 Stars

Palace of the Three Crosses, written by Christina Weigand, is Book Two following up on Palace of the Twelve Pillars.  Again, I’m confused by the perception that this is a strongly Christian focused book.  In fact, the three crosses on the cover led me to believe it would have something to do with the crucifixtion, but the gods or spiritual beings mentioned included Ishtar and Asha not Jesus or God. Here’s the thing, I don’t want the that to stop you from reading Palace of the Three Crosses or on the other hand, perhaps, you’ll be more open to reading it knowing it isn’t heavily Christian focused.  So, is it medival fantasy for young adults?  Yes!

The battle between good and evil continue in the Palace of the Three Crosses.  Joachim and Brandan both marry and rule kingdoms, but Brandan’s castle is so filled with negative energy that when Joachim’s wife suffers complications during her first pregnancy the healers aren’t able to help her.  As time moves on, both Joachim and Brandan sire children, and the gods inform the dragons that all three children must be kept safe as one of them is the chosen one.  Weigand doesn’t go into what the chosen one is meant to do though.  Eventually, Brandan is banished from Joachim’s kingdom and is sent away in exile.  In fact, most of his powers have been stripped from him.  Christina Weigand does a nice job of leaving the reader anxiously anticipating the third book, Sanctuary of Nine Dragons.  Though I can’t say it was a page turner for me, Palace of the Three Crosses is quite an interesting story and held my interest.

Originally reviewed by Rob Alex of


Sanctuary of Nine Dragons: Book Three will celebrate its third anniversary in February 2017. Here is a recent review for it.

4 Stars

Christina Weigand’s Sanctuary of Nine Dragons, the third book in the Palace of The Twelve Pillars series, was the best book of the three.  The story continued around the two brothers, King Joachim and Brandan, and their families including King Joachim’s wife, Queen Maeve.  However, it had a strong focus on their children, two boys and a girl.  Joachim’s son was kidnapped right out of the cradle, and had not been found as of yet even though he was actually being raised by a close family friend.  At the same time, his twin sister, encountered struggles due to their father persistently searching for his heir to the throne.  Eventually, the king’s son was found though. There was a coming of age aspect to the story around Joachim and Brandan’s children as well as the continued battle of good and evil.  Even the dragons engaged in a battle of good and evil within themselves.

A good story, Sanctuary of Nine Dragons, had much more depth to the story than Palace of the Twelve Pillars or Palace of the Three Crosses.  It was well written, and author Christina Weigand did a nice job progressing the characters through the book.  She did a nice job of interweaving the story of the family as well as guardian dragons and the gods.  We all know there is a delicate balance of good and evil in the world, and Weigand’s mystical land was no different.  With all of the typical pieces in place, kings, queens, dragons, and a kidnapped heir to the throne, Sanctuary of Nine Dragons will take readers to another place and time while keeping their curiosity alit.  Weigand does not disappoint in this third book.  Well done.

Originally reviewed by Rob Alex of

ATAI Book Award 4 Stars

Last week I recorded a podcast with Rob and Janelle Alex where we talked about the books and other fun stuff. Stay tuned and I will post the air date for the podcast.

Myrria and the twins will be visiting Don Massenzio’s Blog on July 6 so you’ll want to be sure and check that out.

They will also be visiting the Catholic Underground over the next few months. Dates are TBA and I will let you know when they are going to happen.


Finally,  Sir E. Robert Smythe and the Galactic Safety Council series. I am in the process of finishing up the fourth book in the six book series. Sir E. Robert Smythe and the School Bully is under contract and set to release at the end of the year.SIRESCHOOLBULLY (1)


Sir E. Robert Smythe and the Lost Detective is under contract with a projected release date of end of 2016.

Sir E. Robert Smythe Goes Shopping is under contract  with a projected release date of Fall 2017.

Sir E. Robert Smythe Goes Back to School will be submitted to the publisher by the June 4.

The other two titles; Sir E. Robert Smythe and the Substitute Teacher and Sir E. Robert Smythe: Be a Good Sport are in progress and will be submitted to MuseItUp Publishing by the end of September, 2016.

Stay tuned for updates on all these projects.















Annie Douglass Lima Visits the Lair

Annie Douglass Lima stopped by the lair for a visit to talk about her new book.

I’m excited to announce that my young adult action and adventure novel, The Gladiator and the Guard, is now available for purchase! This is the second book in the Krillonian Chronicles, sequel to The Collar and the Cavvarach.
First Things First: a Little Information about Book 1: 


Bensin, a teenage slave and martial artist, is desperate to see his little sister freed. But only victory in the Krillonian Empire’s most prestigious tournament will allow him to secretly arrange for Ellie’s escape. Dangerous people are closing in on her, however, and Bensin is running out of time.  With his one hope fading quickly away, how can Bensin save Ellie from a life of slavery and abuse?


What is the Collar for, and What is a Cavvarach?
The story is set in a world very much like our own, with just a few major differences.  One is that slavery is legal there.  Slaves must wear metal collars that lock around their neck, making their enslaved status obvious to everyone.  Any slave attempting to escape faces the dilemma of how and where to illegally get their collar removed (a crime punishable by enslavement for the remover).
Another difference is the popularity of a martial art called cavvara shil.  It is fought with a cavvarach (rhymes with “have a rack”), a weapon similar to a sword but with a steel hook protruding from partway down its top edge.  Competitors can strike at each other with their feet as well as with the blades.  You win in one of two ways: disarming your opponent (hooking or knocking their cavvarach out of their hands) or pinning their shoulders to the mat for five seconds.



“Here comes your brother.”

Ellie opened her eyes as Bensin jogged out of the dimness of the Competitors’ Cave. From across the arena floor, a burly Yellow gladiator was running to meet him.

Ellie reached for Steene’s hand again as the two warriors met with a clash of cavvarachs. “He looks different,” Steene observed as the camera zoomed in close. Bensin’s face didn’t hold the fear it had last time. Steene knew him well enough that he could still detect some in his eyes, but it was much better hidden. In its place was simply a grim determination.

“He looks braver,” Ellie agreed. “I guess he’s learning to be a better gladiator.”

I’m not sure whether that’s a good thing or not. But Steene chided himself for the thought. Of course it was a good thing. Bensin needed to get better, to learn and grow and change and do whatever it took to stay alive in that horrible place.

But what’s it doing to the Bensin we knew? If they ever met him again, Steene was sure Bensin would be a different person. Tougher, definitely. Calloused and unfeeling, though, perhaps. Steene supposed you had to be that way to survive as a warrior.

So yes, the change was a good thing, or at least a necessary one. But as he watched Bensin lash out at his opponent again and again, aim kick after kick, dodge and parry his blows, Steene wondered what the change was doing to him inside. Did he still have a sense of humor? Could he relax and be himself when he wasn’t fighting? Did he joke and laugh with his friends? Did he even have friends at Red Arena? Or was he learning to be cold and hard inside and out, doing only what he had to do to survive?

Watching the young man who should have been his son fighting for his life out there, Steene scowled at the helmeted guards hovering nearby and the audience yelling from the stands and the whole arena system. It’s not right, what they’re doing to him. It’s not fair.

I want Bensin back. The thought stabbed through Steene more strongly than it ever had before. His throat tightened, and he swallowed and cleared it angrily. I want him back, and I’m going to find a way to get him back, whatever it takes.


Interview with Gile Murton


I meet with Gile in the employee lounge of Red Arena, the biggest martial arts stadium in the city of Jarreon. He is wearing a scarlet polo shirt with the words Red Arena emblazoned across the front. Around his neck, a small black tube hangs from a cord, and he is wearing a long, straight whip strapped around one wrist. He looks impatient and slightly irritated.

“Thanks for being willing to meet with me,” I say as we sit down.

“Sure, but let’s make this quick. I’ve got work to do, and the arena won’t run itself.”

I take out my list of questions. “Could you start by telling my readers about your job?”

“All right. I’m the manager here at Red Arena, which, as you may know, has a reputation for being the best in the city. I’m in charge of acquiring new gladiators, and I oversee our personnel: the trainers, assistant trainers, guards, and our enslaved workers, as well as the glads themselves. I work with Riddior, the training manager, to create the plans and schedules for our weekend games.”

“You mentioned acquiring new gladiators. What do you look for in a potential gladiator?”

“He’s got to be not only strong, but tough. Adaptable, able to be pushed hard, able to handle the pressures of arena life. And he needs to already be a fighter. We can train him, of course, and we do, but if he doesn’t start out proficient in at least one martial art, it isn’t usually worth our time. Oh, and it helps if he’s the angry and violent sort. That’s the trouble with buying slaves: a lot of them are so pathetically meek and subservient, they’d never survive a day in the arena even if they’ve got the physical skills. If they’re belligerent or bitter or I see them talking back to their owners, that’s a good sign.”

“So do most of your gladiators start out as slaves?”

“Most of them, yes, in one way or another. We’re not opposed to hiring free men, but it’s pretty rare that anyone would actually choose a life as a gladiator. Of course, we pay very generously in advance, so every now and then someone desperate to pay off their family’s debts or some such thing will sign on with us. But it’s a lifelong commitment, and they can’t ever leave the arena once they’ve joined, so you can imagine it’s not a very popular option. No, our glads tend to start out as enslaved athletes who’ve been competing professionally to earn money for their owners. Or, they were free people who broke the law. As I’m sure you know, the penalty for certain crimes is enslavement. Few owners are comfortable purchasing a new slave who’s just been convicted of armed robbery or assault, so in those cases, the arena is the perfect solution for everyone. Violent offenders do tend to make good gladiators.”

“Next question,” I say. “Would you call yourself a good man, or at least a law-abiding citizen?”

He stares at me. “What in the world does that have to do with anything?”

“I think my readers might be interested to know, that’s all. I’m trying to help them get a picture of who you are.”

Gile scowls in annoyance. “On a personal level, yes, I keep the law. Here at the arena, of course there are certain laws that just don’t work, but since the authorities know and choose to turn their backs, I wouldn’t consider anything we do to be unethical.”

“Could you explain what you mean by that?”

“Well, there’s the law that says slaves have to wear a steel collar round their necks at all times for identification. Neither our gladiators nor our regular enslaved workers wear collars. It would be too dangerous for the glads in combat, and they could get snagged on the workout equipment. And we don’t want our glads grabbing the kitchen crew by the collar, for example, and strangling them when they’re in a bad mood. But considering that none of our slaves ever leave the arena, it doesn’t really matter. Then there’s the law that says owners have to give their slaves a day off every week, but that just doesn’t fit with our exercise and training schedules. The other major area the authorities choose not to look closely at is our use of illegal weapons and substances.” He indicates the whip strapped to his wrist. “Shockwhips are technically against the law, but we’ve found them an extremely effective way to control glads. Regular whips just aren’t enough to stop an angry gladiator. Imagine dealing with powerful and vicious wild beasts, and you’ll have some idea of the dangers our staff face every day.” He taps the tube hanging from his neck. “Dartblowers are illegal, too. Once a dart pierces a person’s skin, it releases a chemical that causes them to lose control of most voluntary muscles for about five minutes. I can’t tell you how many times dartblowers have saved guards’ lives. We couldn’t manage without them.”

“So why don’t the authorities crack down on the arena for breaking all those laws?” I wonder.

Gile smiles humorlessly. “They’d be stupid to do that. The arena games bring more tourists to Jarreon than any other event in the city. They’re smart enough not to want to jeopardize all that tourism income. Besides, we pay taxes on all the money we make, and that’s a hefty sum too. Shutting down the arenas would strike a major blow to the city’s economy.” He pulls a phone out of his pocket and checks the time. “Do you have any more questions, or is that all?”

“One last question. Could you tell my readers about your family? Do you have a wife, kids? And if so, what do they think of what you do for a living?”

Gile looks annoyed again. “I don’t see how that’s any of your readers’ business, but yes, I have a wife. I don’t care for children, so we’ve chosen not to have any. My wife knows what I do, but she never asks for details about my day, and I prefer not to discuss my job when I’m at home anyway. She doesn’t like that I work such long hours or that I have to work every weekend, but there’s no way around that in this business. The weekends are when we have our games, after all. And I make enough money that she has nothing to complain about.”

Gile rises to his feet. “I’m sorry, but you’ll need to excuse me now. I’ve taken enough time for this already. I have things to do.” Before I can even thank him, he strides out of the room.


Click here to order The Collar and the Cavvarach from Amazon 

for $2.99 a discounted price of just 99 cents through May 30th!





Bensin, a teenage slave and martial artist, is just one victory away from freedom. But after he is accused of a crime he didn’t commit, he is condemned to the violent life and early death of a gladiator. While his loved ones seek desperately for a way to rescue him, Bensin struggles to stay alive and forge an identity in an environment designed to strip it from him. When he infuriates the authorities with his choices, he knows he is running out of time. Can he stand against the cruelty of the arena system and seize his freedom before that system crushes him?


Click here to order The Gladiator and the Guard in Kindle format from Amazon

for $2.99 a discounted price of just 99 cents through April 28th!


Click here to order The Gladiator and the Guard from Smashwords (for Nook or in other digital formats)

for $2.99 a discounted price of just 99 cents through April 28th!


Annie Douglass LimaAnnie Douglass Lima spent most of her childhood in Kenya and later graduated from Biola University in Southern California. She and her husband Floyd currently live in Taiwan, where she teaches fifth grade at Morrison Academy. She has been writing poetry, short stories, and novels since her childhood, and to date has published twelve books (two YA action and adventure novels, four fantasies, a puppet script, and five anthologies of her students’ poetry). Besides writing, her hobbies include reading (especially fantasy and science fiction), scrapbooking, and international travel.

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