On September 4, 2007 — five years ago Tuesday — Auralia’s Colors, the first book in my four-volume fantasy series called The Auralia Thread, was born.

It was quite a reason for rejoicing at Overstreet headquarters, as I’d dreamed of sharing my stories with the world since I was a small child, and I’d been “in labor” on this particular story for over a decade.

It was a life-changing experience in many ways. As people have discovered the books, read them, and responded, I’ve been blessed with new friends — not just acquaintances, but kindred spirits and confidants.

I’m inviting friends and readers old and new to join my Auralia’s Colors Birthday Party. It’s simple: Write a toast. Not to me, but to the title character… Auralia. (She’s the one who deserves it.)

You haven’t met Auralia yet? She’s the wide-eyed artist whose work turned the world of House Abascar upside down in the first book, and then went on to turn the whole world of the Expanse upside down in the subsequent stories as her artwork changed, challenged, opened, and hardened the hearts of princes, monsters, grieving widows, foolish thieves, merciless judges, tormented phantoms, the rich, and the poor. You’re invited to follow her story today.

Ready? Okay, here are the two simple steps for joining the party… 

1. Compose your toast to Auralia. It can be an email, an mp3, or a movie. It’s up to you.

2. Email it to me at joverstreet@gmail.com, with the subject line: “Auralia’s Colors Birthday Party.” Be sure to include your name.

I’ll select and share some of the toasts I receive in a special upcoming post. Two will be highlighted as winners. What will they win?

Hang on: I’m confirming the details, and I’ll announce the prize packages next week. So check back for the announcement. In the meantime, consider this a Labor Day Weekend head start. You have until Noon (Pacific Time) on Monday, September 10th.

Got that? Good.

That even gives the rest of you time to order Auralia’s Colors, or the volumes in the series you haven’t read yet. They’re available in paperback and as ebooks for your digital devices.

Once again, I am deeply grateful to those who have read the books. I’m even more grateful to those who have shared them with others. And I’m especially thankful to those who have taken the time to respond, review them, and share their interpretations online.

For those who haven’t read the books yet, here a couple of cautions:

1. I’ve been surprised to hear from many very young readers, some of them 8, 9, or 10 years old. I wrote these stories for adults, and they contain some events, conversations, and concerns that children may not understand or appreciate yet. Having said that, I’ve been pleased to find that children do enjoy them, and some have been surprisingly enthusiastic. That’s been a blessing to me. Still, I could caution parents: There are violent and frightening events in these stories, so you’ll have to decide if your children are ready for this kind of reading. For moviegoers, think Pan’s Labyrinth, or Princess Mononoke.

2. As I’ve noted many times before, those who have tried to interpret the books in The Auralia Thread as simple allegories or “Christian fiction” have probably been frustrated — and of course they would be frustrated, because the stories do not belong in those categories. While they’ve been unfortunately mislabeled by a lot of bookstores and reviewers, the stories remain fairy tales, epic fantasies, part of an elaborate mythology.

They’re not meant to “deliver a message.” They’re meant to invite you on a journey. On the way, you’ll share the characters’ questions discoveries, sufferings, frights, revelations, and joys. You’ll find them wrestling with questions about faith, politics, history, relationships, mystery, ethics, and art. Me, I thought most about the latter as I revised and reflected on the stories.

3. Some started reading the series with the third or fourth volume without realizing that the four books tell one story. Sure enough, they were confused, because they entered the story more than halfway through. (Imagine trying to read The Lord of the Rings by starting with The Return of the King. Yeah, bad idea.) So don’t do what some did — read the books in the wrong order and then give them a negative review online because you found that confusing. Read these four “chapters” of The Auralia Thread in the proper order… the order in which they were published: Auralia’s Colors, Cyndere’s Midnight, Raven’s Ladder, and The Ale Boy’s Feast. If you need a helpful reminder, let me know and I’ll send you a free bookmark that lines up the book covers in the proper order.

If you haven’t taken the journey across the Expanse yet, I hope you enjoy the experience. If you have, I hope you enjoy a second time through the series.

For those who responded, thank you for all of the encouragement you’ve sent me over five amazing years. I intend to celebrate. I hope you’ll join me.

Check back soon. I’m posting information about the prize packages early next week.