Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Legacy Rewound is Live!

Priorities. Those things you have to put before other things because you have made commitments.

Yesterday I wanted to announce that Legacy Rewound is live, but Beastie 1 (my son, for anyone new to the site) and I were volunteering at local food bank most of the day. Yep, that comes first. There are families that rely on that ministry for food every week, and the ministry relies on us.

This morning I wanted to announce that Legacy Rewound is live, but Beastie 1 is helping his grandpa fix a car--a project that has done a lot to bring them closer and they've been having so much fun--and I needed to drive him over there. So yep again, that comes first.

This afternoon I wanted to announce that Legacy Rewound is live, but Realm Makers is coming up FAST, and the work I'd intended to do over the weekend was side-tracked by a stomach bug. So today I needed to get schedules finalized and submitted. Realm Makers is a conference I believe wholeheartedly in, and I want more than anything for all of it to go smoothly--including my part.

Which brings me to now.

Ahem.

LEGACY REWOUND IS LIVE ON AMAZON!!!! CLICK HERE!!!! CLICK HERE!!!!




Sunday, July 17, 2016

Toch Island Chronicles: Book 3 Cover Reveal


  

If you follow me on Facebook, you got a sneaky-peek of the cover for Legacy Rewound yesterday. I was home sick in bed when my proof copy arrived, and I just couldn't wait to share, but I wasn't up to doing it properly. Here's the image I posted: 



My photo doesn't quite do it justice, though. Yes, the real-life cover is a bit darker than the original jpeg, but it's so, so lovely. Here is what the original file looks like, front and back: 



Just a few more days and it'll be live and ready for purchase! Just waiting for Amazon to sync the pages, then I can share the link!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Outlier

Best mash-up image ever. :)
I spent part of last week with a group of friends--most of them new friends, as I was meeting them for the first time. 

I had hopes that at least one of them would come even a little close to my level of geekiness, but alas, that proved a false hope. None of them had ever seen so much as a single episode of Doctor Who. It did make me very grateful for Jeff and Beastie 2 who got my obscure hints during our games of Taboo and Catchphrase. 

Me: "On Doctor Who, you definitely never want to..."
Jeff: "Blink!"

Me, with hand cupped over mouth: "Are you my mummy?"
Beastie 2: "Gas mask!"

Everyone else: *blank stares*

This is not a new feeling for me. I'm the oddball in my homeschool group (the only mom who needs more than two hands to count her piercings) and my Christian writers group (the speculative fiction and horror writer). I was a punk-rocker in my teens and early twenties. (Technically, I still am, but the look is tamer these days.) Growing up, I was nerd, geek, girl-who-loved-sci-fi, tall and lanky, etc.

You'd think I'd relate strongly to feeling the outcast. And yes, at times, I truly have. But over the years, I've realized that I am not an Outcast...
out·cast
noun
1.a person who has been rejected by society or a social group.
synonyms: pariah, persona non grata, reject, outsider, leper
I am an Outlier.
out·li·er
noun
1.a person or thing situated away or detached from the main body or system.
"less accessible islands and outliers"
2.a person or thing differing from all other members of a particular group or set.
"an outlier in Faulkner's body of work"

The difference is, an Outcast really wants to be in that main body, right there with everyone else. An Outlier, though, simply sits apart because that is who or what they are.

I enjoyed my time with friends last week. We talked and joked and, of course, played board games. But not once did I wish to not be the oddball. Not once did I wish my to hide my geekiness so they would accept me. Not once did I feel Outcast...but I definitely felt the Outlier.

It's accepting that difference in me that allows me to have fun in these situations though, not just during those times where I'm with my fellow geeks or punks or whatever. Letting go of any need for approval of my quirks lets me see them as simply part of who I am, and think only of being the best me I can be no matter who I'm around.

So, I stayed in the shade the whole time we boated, and I used Doctor Who references while we played board games, and I shopped art galleries and Celtic gift shops...


And bought stuff like this at a candy store:


And geeked out over space-themed ceiling fans at the Greek restaurant where we had lunch:


And most of all, I appreciated being loved for being me:



Friday, June 24, 2016

My Artistic Busy-ness

I promised my next post would be about what's been keeping me busy outside of writing.
I promised pictures.
I also promised this would be sooner.

Well, I can't keep that last one without time-travel, but I can keep my promise on the other two.

For the past month or so I've been finishing up the third Toch Island book....
...which finally has a title



While it's off for its final edit and I'm waiting on the final cover design (something I promise I will reveal in full as soon as I can!), I've been focusing on my visual arts.

Wand-making:

Multiple methods displayed here, some made from sticks, some dowels, and lots of fun finishes.
My most recent and the first one I hand-carved (except for the ball on the end).


Pendant-making:





And my newest endeavor...

Mixed media:

This was a gift for the worship leader at my church.

This is my drawing worked into a mixed media piece.
I'm planning on making more, with different drawings, and selling them at art/craft shows.
Actually, I may add a bit to that last one. I'm really enjoying trying different kinds of art, doing something that's not drawing-focused (although I'm still sketching now and then), and making things out of the drawings I've already done.

Eventually I'm hoping to start an etsy store. Of course, that takes time, and I've got events coming up soon where I'm hoping to sell these in person, so we'll see when that actually happens.

There you have it. My artistic busy-ness.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Interviews Abound



This week I'm featured on two different websites!

First, a print interview on Faith & Fantasy Alliance, in which I talk about my preparations for Realm Makers, my book collection, favorite characters, and general obsess--er, love of speculative fiction.

CLICK HERE to read the interview.

Second, a podcast interview on Lasers Dragons & Keyboards, in which we discuss my influences, favorite books, note cards, and sheep.

CLICK HERE to listen to Episodes 20&21.

And if that's not enough for you...

You can still check out my guest post at Building Stories from the Inside Out, a post I apparently forgot to mention here at the time it came out. Hm. Must be all that editing* I've been doing that's kept me from remembering things like this! Anyway, if you want a trip inside my head regarding some of the inspiration for the world-building of Toch Island...

CLICK HERE to read the post.

*BTW, that editing I mentioned...yeah, that's been crazy. Getting Toch Island 3 self-edited before sending it off to my actual editor, and editing Acolyte, book 3 in the Winter series by Keven Newsome, and critiquing manuscripts for two fellow writers, and beta-reading Mike Duran's upcoming Saint Death (the sequel to The Ghost Box), and reading Amy Brock McNew's Rebirth (which is now available for pre-order) for endorsement, and reading Lelia Rose Foreman's Circumnavigation (sequel to Shatterworld) for endorsement...I think you can see why this blog has been ignored for a few weeks. Well, I hope you can. If not...

Then maybe you will understand next time when I update you on all the other things keeping me busy--non-writing things, artsy things, craftsy things. With pictures. :)

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Announcing the Cover Reveal of REBIRTH by Amy Brock McNew

Last year at Realm Makers I met this chick -- yes, I can call her chick, she's cool with that, one reason we got along so well -- and we hit it off right away. Both artsy. Of course, both writers. Both tall redheads, with similar styles and taste in music. She dressed up as Lara Croft at the awards dinner -- that alone would have made me like her.

Her name is Amy Brock McNew.

Amy's first book, Rebirth, is releasing May 24, 2016, and today I get to reveal the cover!

First, a little about the book. Here's the back cover copy:

Liz Brantley has a gift she wants to return.
Able to see and fight demonic forces, she has spent her life alone, battling the minions of hell bent on her destruction, running from the God who gave her this curse. The demon Markus, drawn to her abilities, unleashes havoc on her hometown and pulls Liz further into the throes of battle.
She’s desperate for a normal life.
When she meets a mysterious man who seems unaware of the mystical realm that haunts her, the life she’s always wanted flits within reach. But her slice of normal slips from her grasp when an old flame, Ryland Vaughn, reappears with secrets of his own. Secrets that will alter her destiny.
Torn between two worlds, Liz is caught in an ancient war between good and evil.
And she isn’t sure which side to choose.

And now....without further ado....

The cover of Rebirth:



I know Amy is busting at the seams with excitement, and I'm so very happy for her!

Here's a little more about this awesome chick and info on where you can keep up with what's happening with her and her new book series:

Amy Brock McNew doesn’t just write speculative fiction, she lives and breathes it. Exploring the strange, the supernatural, and the wonderfully weird, Amy pours her guts onto the pages she writes, honestly and brutally revealing herself in the process. Nothing is off-limits. Her favorite question is “what if?” and she believes fiction can be truer than our sheltered and controlled realities.
Visit AmyBrockMcNew.com to learn more about this intriguing author.

Congratulations, Amy!!!



Thursday, March 10, 2016

Teen Takeover: Speculating on the Future of Christian Speculative Fiction


.

I have said for years that I'm just waiting for the teenagers of today to grow up and take over publishing, and I'll have my day as a successful author. That someday, the hard-nosed Christian publishers who refuse to give science fiction and fantasy a chance, the ones who say there is no market for it, will be displaced as a new breed moves in--the now-grown teens who have all along been the audience, albeit out of sight of the CBA.

Walk into any brick and mortar bookstore or head to Amazon.com. Go to the teen book section. What do you find? Speculative fiction galore. Gobs and gobs of stories about dystopian societies, paranormal creatures, wizards, faeries, robots, and cyborgs. I know this because I spend a lot of time in that section. I read almost exclusively teen books, almost exclusively speculative, and I promise I am in no danger of running out of reading material. Know what else you find in that teen section? Christian teenagers.

Now, head to a Christian bookstore. Find the teen section...

Oh, wait. Never mind. There isn't one. Nope, you will find hardly any teen books (or teenagers) in your typical Christian bookstore, and of the few that are there, you'll find only a tiny fraction that are speculative. (And if you say, "What about Lewis! What about Tolkien!" you have no place in this discussion. If you cannot name a single speculative fiction book by a Christian author that was written in the last fifty years, you are part of the problem.)

This is not a new issue. And it is the same issue the secular fiction world faced only a few decades ago. In his essay "Dusk in the Robot Museum: The Rebirth of Imagination," written in 1980, Ray Bradbury says:

"How come the United States, the country of Ideas on the March, for so long neglected fantasy and science fiction?"

Later he states:

"..back in the twenties and thirties, there were no science fiction books in the curricula of schools anywhere. There were few in the libraries. Only once or twice a year did a responsible publisher dare to publish one or two books which could be designated as speculative fiction."

Wow. Replace "curricula of schools" with "Christian market" and you've got exactly what we see today.

Why was this true back then? Bradbury gives a very clear reason:

"Among librarians and teachers there was then, and there still somewhat dimly persists, an idea, a notion, a concept that only Fact should be eaten with your Wheaties. Fantasy? That's for the Fire Birds. Fantasy, even when it takes science-fictional forms, which it often does, is dangerous. It is escapist. It is daydreaming. It has nothing to do with the world and the world's problems."

Again, replace "librarians and teachers" with "Christian publishers and agents" and this is the description of today's situation.

And I love the next line best of all:

"So said the snobs who did not know themselves as snobs."

Am I calling Christian publishers and agents snobs? Well, sometimes. If you'd seen the reactions I've gotten from some of them, you'd understand my feelings there.

The few agents and editors who actually do like spec-fic admit that the publishing houses simply don't know what to do with such books.

That's okay, though. See, the next generation WILL know. Just as things have changed for spec-fic authors in the secular market, so they will eventually in the Christian market. As Bradbury said in his essay:

"Who is responsible for the change? ...The answer is: the students. The young people. The children."

Yes, sir. The children. The teenagers who today are devouring spec-fic novels, one after another, series after series. They will grow up. They will someday take the places of the current gatekeepers--if there are even gatekeepers by then with the way indie publishing is going--and they will be the one buying books. They will be the ones making the demands and the decisions.

It's the youth that really see what's going on. Speculative fiction isn't "escapism" or "daydreaming." Bradbury calls science fiction "an attempt to solve problems by pretending to look the other way." He knows this because spec-fic digs deeps. It tackles hard issues, and it -- sorry, I have to say it -- dares to go where no man has gone before. It does the opposite of escape...it takes on new challenges, faces the future head-on, and looks at the world from different angles.

Teens and kids know that, and these days, more than ever, what they want is to be able to explore the questions they have. And this is the real crux of things--they want to be understood. This is really why the Christian market has failed with our youth. They get Sunday school lessons at, well, Sunday school, What they want from books is life lessons, life experience, life exploration.

Speculative fiction is the perfect forum for that. Without sermons or sappiness, spec-fic puts the world in focus, showing how light shines in the darkness of space or the deep shadows of forbidden forests. Good triumphs, evil falls, battles are won, and dragons slain....and publishing markets are changed.