Who We Are
Josiah DeGraaf is a high school English teacher and literature nerd who fell in love with stories when he was young and hasn’t fallen out of love ever since.
He cofounded Story Embers in the Spring of 2018 and leads the site as editor-in-chief, where he sets visions and goals, reviews submissions, handles web design & marketing, and oversees site initiatives.
He writes because he’s fascinated by human motivations. What causes otherwise-good people to make terrible decisions in their lives? Why do some people have the strength to withstand temptation when others don’t? How do people respond to periods of intense suffering? What does it mean to be a hero?
These questions drive him as a reader and a writer as he takes normal people, puts them in crazy situations (did he mention he writes fantasy?), and then forces them to make difficult choices with their lives.
Someday Josiah hopes to write fantasy novels with worlds as imaginative as Brandon Sanderson’s, characters as complex as Orson Scott Card’s, character arcs as dynamic as Jane Austen’s, themes as deep as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s, and stories as entertaining as Wayne Thomas Batson’s. In the meantime, you can find him teaching writers at Ink Slinger Academy or writing short stories on his website as he works toward achieving these goals.
Brianna Storm Hilvety
Managing Editor & Graphics Director
Brianna Storm Hilvety has been a professional editor for four years, a writer for a decade, and a bibliophile from the moment she pronounced her first syllable. Although she began as a writer, her penchant for noticing typos and obsession with syntax compelled her to wield a red pen rather than a black one. She’s worked on a variety of projects for individual clients, publishers, and writers organizations, including Gilead Publishing, Castle Gate Press, and Kingdom Pen. She is also a silver member of The Christian PEN and holds editing certifications from The PEN Institute.
At Story Embers, she juggles multiple roles—founding board member, managing editor, and graphics director. She oversees the entire publishing department and its personnel, ensuring that content is processed, edited, scheduled, and posted on the site weekly, in addition to curating the creation of graphics and moderating story contests. She loves aiding writers in achieving their aspirations to captivate and change the world through fiction.
Her homeschool upbringing and introversion molded her into an independent thinker who is unafraid to express her opinions—provided it’s on paper. When she isn’t poring over words, she may be spotted shooting her Canon, riding The Breeze (an ATV), night-owling, escaping to Walt Disney World, or romping with her dog, Zookie. Purple is her signature color, and rarely is she not swathed in it. To explore her realm, visit TheLiteraryCrusader.com.
Art & Social Media Director
Christine Eaton is a student attending Providence Christian College who loves stories and art. Frequenting the beach, playing with her dog Eppi, and taking every opportunity she can to visit Disneyland, Christine relishes living in sunny Southern California.
She can usually be found happily sipping tea, memorizing lines from the latest play she is in, caving in to her chocolate addiction, writing encouraging snail mail, or listening to music, which is typically something folky (like Andrew Peterson, The Arcadian Wild, or the Gray Havens) or from Broadway (and rarely anything landing between those two categories).
Art is one of her largest passions, and her walls are covered in her sketches and paintings. She yearns to use her skills to glorify God by illustrating and writing her own children’s books that will teach children more about Jesus.
Some of her favorite authors include A.S. Peterson, Francine Rivers, Wendell Berry, Louisa May Alcott, and Andrew Peterson.
Christine is excited to be a part of Story Embers and heading the art department. She enjoys meeting new people, so feel free to shoot her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions about the art department or just want to make a friend.
Many moons ago, a series of suspiciously providential events led Daeus to cast his lot among the worldwide community of Christian storytellers. Since then, he is not reported to have come back out. Perhaps he is lost among those fine gallivanters forever. Rest in peace, Daeus Lamb.
Daeus has the twin ambitious visions of reaching thousands of readers with his fiction and helping other Christian artists do the same. In pursuit of the second vision, he is currently involved as a board member of Story Embers and runs his own online endeavor to help writers: Excelsior Writing School.
In pursuit of his first vision (Daeus often gets things out of order), he is building a following of amazing readers and working on his first fantasy trilogy, which he hopes will inspire his readers with its heartfelt themes, semi-allegorical aspects, and of course plain-old-fun action and adventure! To join his hoard of jaw-droppingly-wonderful readers, pick up your free copy of his book The Golden Ziggurat and Other Stories and get reading.
Daeus often contemplates whether he is a serious person or not. He has still not decided.
Rolena is a country-loving girl who wears cowgirl boots and has dreamed of being Cinderella since she was four. She has an explosive imagination that leads her on crazy adventures in other worlds, yet she somehow always ends up back at her desk with a pencil and cup of coffee in hand. Besides writing late at night and devouring books, she has a tremendous love of music and musical theater, which led her to become a stage director and vocal teacher.
Her favorite places to be are up in her Attic, the local bookstore, or any place with people. On her shelf of favorite books you’ll find The False Prince, The Prisoner of Zenda, The Choosing, Princess Academy, and The Lost Girl of Astor Street. Her favorite thing to do is laugh.
Though she has tried to stop writing, she’s never been able to and has no intention of doing so in the near future. Or ever for that matter. Being a part of the Story Embers staff has blessed her with many writerly friends who have all kept her dream to write alive—a passion she hopes to pass on to all her writing friends, including the ones she has yet to meet. You can connect with Rolena and learn more about her writing endeavors over at The Author’s Attic.
Hope Ann likes to think herself a dragon-riding, griffin-taming founder of worlds and explorer of legends. Using chocolate, she bribes a wide ring of spies, from the realm leapers of Aslaria to the double agents of Elkbend, for their stories. She thrives on frost, steel, and the tears of her readers, which she secretly mixes into iced coffee. Deep in her hobbit hole, her actual life involves staying up too late writing, reading, researching stab wounds, and struggling to remember the difference between effect and affect. Based in Indiana, she is the self-published author of the Legends of Light series. Hope Ann helps other writers as a personal writing coach and the communications coordinator at Story Embers. You can find out more about her at AuthorHopeAnn.com, or pick up her first novelette for free by clicking here.
Grace Livingston is a story lover and daydreamer who currently lives in the Michiana area with her parents and two siblings. She can often be found camping along one of the Great Lakes, where she spends time kayaking, painting the scenery, and doggedly trying to master the art of lighting campfires. When not hiding in the woods, Gracie whiles away her time singing incessantly with her brother and sister, locking herself in her parents’ closet to record the latest episode of the Story Embers Podcast (it’s a very professional setup), and being an overall geek when it comes to anything story related.
Gracie is also a huge fantasy lover and is currently working on two novels from that genre. Some of her favorite books of all time include The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Emma, The Man Who Was Thursday, The Little White Horse, and North and South.
A few of her other hobbies include hand lettering, snuggling the family dog Jasper (within an inch of his life), and acting out imaginary conversations between herself and her fictional besties Nora, Ariszi, and Evaleen.
And dark chocolate. Gracie without dark chocolate is (hopefully) an impossibility.
Graphics, Email & Instagram Manager
Mariposa Aristeo is a self-taught artist and aspiring children’s author who captures the glories of God’s creation on paper. She is a graphic designer and the Instagram manager here at Story Embers and desires to encourage other storytellers in crafting novels that ignite the imagination and warm the heart.
If you ask her what her favorite things are, she would probably say nothing, since she scores a staggering 88 percent on introversion. However, if you ask her to write about it, she’ll give a five-page treatise on palm trees, chocolate-covered pineapple, and plumerias. Her favorite pastimes include card-making, baking, hiding Easter eggs in her art, exploring Disney World, burning spiders at the stake, perusing the works of John MacArthur and Charles Spurgeon, and reading every dinosaur book she can get her hands on. Her assistant, Aberdeen the Authorosaurus (an ink-drinking, book-eating dinosaur), helps supply her with ideas, taste-test her pages, and get her back to writing by threatening to sit on her. If you want to read about his exploits in her office, writerly dinosaurian advice, or nonsensical sense, please visit: DinosDigest.com.
MacKenzie, affectionately known as “Mac,” is an unashamed coffee lover and chocolate consumer. She committed to her favorite relationship at age four when she asked Jesus into her heart. Having her best friend around all the time is awesome.
Along with laughing with her best friends (AKA her siblings), she spends her time reading, writing, singing with her sisters and brother in their band The Long Family Singers, discussing theology with her friends, pondering the deep questions in life, and learning about people’s personalities.
She is grateful that her parents homeschooled her and that she is now able to help by teaching her two youngest siblings math (her least favorite subject).
An optimistic ENFP, Mac loves getting to know the people around her and learning everything she can. She has finished four drafts but will probably never edit them into something fit to be seen by the public eye. Her favorite part of novel writing is creating the characters. It’s like a little taste of what God must feel when he creates each one of us.
At the end of the day, she simply wants to glorify God and point each person she meets to Him.
Social Media Strategist
Sierra Ret—homeschool grad, camping fanatic, and amateur adventurer—was thrilled to join the Story Embers staff. She enjoys both swinging in a hammock in the woods and hermiting behind a laptop screen with a mug of tea in one hand and a bar of dark chocolate in the other (something that tends to make typing difficult). Her writing accomplishments include serving at Kingdom Pen as writing team captain, having two of her short stories published in national collections, and being hired as an editor of legal transcripts for court reporting companies. While the most recent plot in her long string of fantasies involves making a living as a travel blogger in New Zealand, she currently makes her home in Peterborough, Canada, a pleasant land that bears an uncanny resemblance to the Shire. But regardless of whether she eventually settles at home, abroad, or at the seat of government power in Ottawa, her chief aim is to live a passionate and meaningful life for the glory of God.
Publication Manager & Staff Writer
Cindy Green is a forest-wandering, poetry-scribbling stargazer with messy notebooks and messy thoughts. Despite her love for all of God’s creation, sunflowers and stars in particular have a way of sneaking into both her writing and her heart (but you won’t hear her complaining about it). She is an amateur sword-wielder with a Highland-dancing warrior spirit who also writes letters to the moon and considers the sky her best friend. While Cindy enjoys a wide range of smile-inducing activities such as camping, downhill skiing, and reading, her favorites include listening to the whispering of the wind and singing along to every word at a Skillet concert (resulting in the temporary misplacement of her voice). A focused daydreamer, organized pack rat, and oblivious observer, she is a self-professing ambivert (or a living contradiction) who deeply feels both the beauty and fallen state of the world. Through her words, she hopes to describe the indescribable and form personal connections with people while reflecting a love for her Savior and a passion for everything she touches.
Staff Writer & Pinterest Manager
A long time ago on a hill not so far away, Gabrielle Pollack fell in love. Not with ice cream or cats (though those things are never far from her side) but with storytelling. Since then, she’s been glued to a keyboard and is always in the midst of a writing project, whether a story, blog post, or book. She was a reader before becoming a writer, however, and believes paradise should include thick novels, hot cocoa, a warm fire, and “Do Not Disturb” signs. Her favorite stories include Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn saga and Nadine Brandes’s Out of Time trilogy.
As those who know her will confess, Gabby is a whole lot of weirdness packed into one INFP. Sharp objects, storms, and trees are her friends, along with stubborn characters and, on occasion, actual people. When she’s not writing, she’s shooting arrows through thickets and subsequently missing her target, jamming on the piano, and pushing her cat off her keyboard. She hopes to infuse her fiction with honesty, victory, and hope, and create stories that grip readers from the first page to the last. Her other goals include saving the world and mastering a strange concept called adulthood. You can hang out with her on her quirky blog and Facebook.
“Well, I’m back.” The emotion those words spark in Lord of the Rings fans across the world perfectly describes how Brandon feels on a daily basis when he finishes writing and starts working on homework. (Yes, writing comes first.) His fictional worlds, where the suns never set and Rutel is Servant-Lord of the Sky, leave him wanting more…but unfortunately life is still a thing. When Brandon can’t hang out in Faërie, he fills his time with normal mortal things like homework, work, friends, (oxford commas) and family. He enjoys backyard football (or any sport), board games, English country dancing, and reading. He doesn’t particularly enjoy (but still spends time) driving, doing math, and waiting for YouTube ads to end.
Brandon enjoys writing-related-but-still-not-actually-writing activities including critiquing, outlining, and updating his blog, The Woodland Quill. Some of his favorite books (there are too many to list) are The 100 Cupboards by N.D. Wilson, Look and Live by Matt Papa (warning: nonfiction), and Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie. (Due to his Lord of the Rings reference at the beginning of this blurb, he’s not going to bring that pinnacle of literary genius up again, although he probably should and sort of just did.)
Brandon lives on the Nebraska plains, where the people don’t actually live in teepees but do plant as much corn as the stereotypes suggest. His wonderful family keeps him somewhat grounded in reality, his friends keep his extroverted personality from imploding while he’s writing, and his ice cream keeps him…happy.
Poor ice cream.
Graham Jackson, with all his enthusiasm for the joint power of the language and stories, is nevertheless a man of few words. An introverted Yankee through and through, Graham was born and raised on the North Shore of Massachusetts in a small town dating back to the 1600s. Homeschooled from an early age, Graham cultivated a love of history and reading from the start, and he has been hooked ever since. He discovered his love of literature and creative writing when he picked up Brian Jacques’s Redwall, as well as in high school, and he went on to get his bachelor’s degree in Literature from Patrick Henry College. His favorite color is “Red, the Blood of Angry Men” (although he likes many other colors), and his favorite season is autumn. He also likes dogs and long walks on the beach.
As for writing, Graham is an aspiring novelist and amateur poet. He has had a lot of experience writing poetry over the years, trying his hand at different forms, writing a short collection of sonnets, and playing with words. He finds a lot of meaning in poetry that has a real and lasting impact on daily life—scrutinizing the ordinary to find marvels in the mundane. Yet, poetry and prose are equally important and overlap in many ways.
Having recently graduated college, Graham is now at home with his family, getting ready to embark on some online teaching. Graham is thankful and excited for this opportunity to share his enthusiasm with Story Embers and to see what’s down the road.
As a kid, Maddie Morrow was constantly in trouble for writing when she was supposed to do school and reading when there were dishes to wash. At age twenty (plus change) she is happy to announce that school is behind her and she can write if she wants to. She’s going to ignore the dishes in the sink, okay?
Maddie grew up with her mom reading to her and her dad telling stories about cowboys hunting Bigfoot. This sparked her love of writing early. She’s been lost in her notebooks ever since and has a particular fondness for speculative fiction. Being homeschooled gave her the freedom to pursue her writing (as long as the dishes were done), and all of the writing cramps and marked-up notebooks paid off when her gaslight fantasy, “Red as Blood,” was one of five winners to be accepted for the Rooglewood Press Five Poisoned Apples collection, which will release in December 2018.
Like any Nebraska girl, she puts way too much emphasis on Husker football and thinks that daily trips to the cornfield are normal. When she’s not madly scribbling in a notebook, you can probably find her poking around in the garden and begging things to grow, chasing her little boy around, or looking for tasty new foods to feed her husband. Some of her hobbies include consuming unhealthy amounts of Mountain Dew, admiring her guitar collection (and sometimes playing them), and acquiring more pets her husband doesn’t want. You can connect with her at http://www.maddie-morrow.blogspot.com/.
Faith Blum is a small-town Wisconsin girl. She’s lived in, or outside of, small towns her whole life. The thought of living in a city with more than 60,000 people in it scares her, especially after some interesting adventures driving through big cities like Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota.
Faith currently resides in the middle of Wisconsin with her husband and their cat, Smokey. She is blessed to be able to have writing as her full-time career, with household work and cooking to do on the side.
When not writing, you can find her cooking food from scratch due to food allergies, doing dishes, knitting, crocheting, sewing, reading, or spending time with her husband. She is also a community assistant for the Young Writers Workshop and loves her work there. She enjoys hearing from her readers, so feel free to contact her on her website.