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.


Monday, January 11, 2016

A Neighbor, an Author, and a Youth Pastor Walk Into the TARDIS....

This is not what the bottle in my dream
looked like. But still, pretty cool. 
I  have about 20 minutes before I have to wake up the Beasties so they can get ready for homeschooling. Normally at this time I'm in a fog of not-enough-coffee-yet, but I was awoken a little early and quite abruptly from a very strange dream that involved several people I know (including a neighbor, a fellow author, and a youth pastor), and a bar (I know, sounds like a joke) at which I was too young to drink (hah!) and couldn't get the snooty bartender to even get me a cup of water. Someone else was being served, though--from a wine bottle decorated like the TARDIS.

I wanted that bottle--empty was fine--because it was so freaking cool. I grabbed it just to show the author friend, and was nearly carted off in handcuffs. Later, I went searching for the bottle, in the place where the bar had been, which was now the house I grew up in. (Why do dreams do that?) I found--in a cabinet in the garage--not the bottle, but a jar of Doctor Who gummy candy, which I put in a bag, with intention of leaving money for it on the shelf.

Then I heard a noise, and walked outside the garage (the door was suddenly up) and some young man was coming toward me. I played innocent, but he said he knew what I was looking for. He told me there was another bottle of the wine, and he'd let me have it...for $7000 a month.

I laughed.

Then I woke up.

And now, after over a month of silence on this blog, I am writing out that dream just so you have something to read on this lovely Monday morning.

Now, you can skip across the galaxy to the FAITH AND FANTASY ALLIANCE blog to read about some of the behind-the-scenes workers -- including me! -- of the 2016 REALM MAKERS CONFERENCE where my job will be timey-wimey. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Here There Be Dragons

As I was hanging my latest art purchase--a dragon print by Stanley Morrison, purchased while at the Necronomicon last month--I realized my house is slowly being taken over. I've always, always, always loved dragons, and I've had my share of them in many forms over the years, such as t-shirts and candles. I have neither of those anymore (unless you count my Ender's Game Dragon Army tee), but I do have dragons lurking in every room of my house. Today I thought I'd share them with you.

This one hangs by my desk on the side of an armoire. The artist is Rob Carlos. It was given to me by Grace Bridges, my dear friend and Space Kiwi. See that coin on the corner? That's a New Zealand dollar.


These next two are in my hallway. They are the creation of the aforementioned Stanley Morrison, both bought two years ago at Necronomicon. I adore his artwork. I promise you will believe how wholeheartedly I mean that by the end of this post.



A puzzle I put together a few years ago. The only place I could find to hang it where it would fit properly--it is BIG--was my hallway with the thermostat. Well, dragons do heat things up...


Yes, another Stanley Morrison, bought three years ago at Necronomicon. (Are you seeing the pattern?)


A Mother's Day present from my husband and the Beasties. He guards my bookshelf.


Also on my bookshelf, a coffee mug that holds my reading glasses (which I actually use pretty much only for sewing). The mug sports the art of Heather Young


The dragon dagger I bought at the Medieval Times dinner show in Orlando. I refuse to believe I could have gotten it cheaper elsewhere. Also, I paid for the memories. Yeah, that works. 


A ceramic dragon I made at one of those paint-your-own-pottery studios years ago. Yes, he was the inspiration for Spike, the dragon pet of Sir Benjamin, who owns the bookshop on Toch Island.


The best deal I ever got at Disney World. Or maybe Universal Studios? Either way, this necklace was a whopping $12, and I wear it all the time. 


Another two prints I bought at Necronomicon. I don't know the artist for sure on the first one--the signature looks like R. Mayo--but this matches the colors in my bedroom perfectly. The second one is Theresa Mather. They complement and contrast each other nicely. I love the loose sketchy feel of the first one, and the tight, detailed work of the second.



Ah, and here we go....the culprit who started this whole post. The last print I bought from Stanley Morrison at Necronomicon last month. Believe me now? I. Am. Such. A. Fan.


And for more dragons, you can visit the "Dragons!" board on my Pinterest page.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Free Short Horror Reads: Or, a Taste of My Dark Side

I tend to focus most of my writing posts on my YA fantasy series. But from nearly the beginning, back when I first wrote Finding Angel, I was writing short horror stories as well.

They were published in a variety of magazines and anthologies, but over the years the rights reverted back to me, and I've posted them on Wattpad.

In honor of Halloween, I've posted a list of them here so you can have some bites of my dark writing.

In other words, you can read them for FREE by clicking the titles below.

A Day Better Spent

Death has just taken hold, but John is given a chance to relive his last day.









Cat Call

They say you hear the voice of the dead just before you are about to die...









Fire Wall

Day after day they gathered, clustering to watch the fire as it encroached. It moved impossibly slow, like a wall of advancing soldiers surrounding the city.








Frog Face

Just a mean little story about a mean little boy...and the little girl he shouldn't have crossed.








Clay's Fire

A bedtime story...










Hope you found something you enjoyed!

Maybe now, you'd like to try my ebook novella, Ordinary Folk? It's only 99 cents:

Ordinary Folk (on Amazon.com)*

Janey's symptoms are getting stronger, and stranger. Nothing her doctor and Dawson say can get the idea out of her head: It's all tied to the full moon. She knows they think she's being irrational, but she feels the connection in a way she can't even begin to explain.

She needs answers, and the only way she can think to get them is to visit the town where her parents grew up. But the visit is nothing like she expects...the odd looks, the whispers behind her back. And the old man who seems to know her secrets. Is there something in this tiny town's history--and Janey's--that's not so ordinary?

(novelette, 26 pages)

*Also available in Nook format on BarnesandNoble.com


Monday, October 19, 2015

A Time Vortex Ate September: Or, why I haven't posted in a month, plus Necronomicon 2015 photos

Well, snap. I really didn't realize it'd been THIS long since writing my last blog post. September was apparently sucked into some sort of time vortex. In truth, it was eaten away by birthdays, homeschooling, and writing.
Giving out awards!

Yeah, that last one--working on Toch Island 3.

October's a little different. It's been eaten away by conferences. I spent the first week of October prepping for the Florida Inspirational Writers Retreat. Being on the planning committee, I had to help set up the space and pick up all sorts of things...discovering I had a nail in my tire while doing that running around was kinda panicky.

 Also, I and my buddy Rick Christensen were in charge of running and judging the creative writing contest -- a contest in which entrants have to tell a story in 55 words or less. Not that we like putting pressure on writers or anything. (One of the winners was author friend Kerry Johnson, pictured here.)



The very next week was the Necronomicon!

It started off with an awesome writing panel called "Yes, Mom, Science Fiction and Fantasy are Real Literature."



The guy there in the middle was one of our guests of honor, Eric Flint. Super nice. And his wife bought a copy of Finding Angel. Yes, I totally did a happy dance, right in the middle of the conference area!

This was the first of SEVEN panels I was assigned. 
The others were:

What a Girl Wants in Sci-fi/fantasy
The Perils of Premature Publishing
Marvel Universe
Harry Potter
Zombiemania
What Star Trek Means to Me

They were all loads of fun, although only one person showed up for Zombiemania. As I said to my fellow panelists...."Well, we knew this would be dead."

Yeah, sorry.

Anyway...as usual, the Necro was AWESOME. I had a blast hanging out with friends, participating in panels, selling books (my best year yet!), and shopping the vendor hall.

Here's my haul from this year's shopping:


The dragon print is by Stanley Morrison. If you are not already a massive fan, go check out his work here. NOW,

And the leather wrist cuff was created by the same guy (Modern Armour) who made this awesome dog armor:

FYI--the guy with this sweetie-pie dog is Timothy Zahn.  Yes, *that* Timothy Zahn.
The dog, of course, was not the only one dressed up. There were loads of costumes everywhere, especially on Saturday. This group was my favorite:


Plenty more to check out though in the Necronomicon 2015 album on my Facebook page and TONS of photos on the official Necronomicon Facebook page.

So, again I've shared about Necronomicon. If you haven't come to see me there, maybe this has convinced you? If not, well....you're just missing out. So, come next year! I'll be there!



Monday, September 14, 2015

Goodreads Giveaway: Two copies of Finding Angel up for grabs!

OK, folks, I'm running another giveaway on Goodreads! Please enter, and share the link to this post!


Goodreads Book Giveaway

Finding Angel by Kat Heckenbach

Finding Angel

by Kat Heckenbach

Giveaway ends September 30, 2015.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway