Friday, October 17, 2014

Christian Horror Blog Radio Interview

This week I got to chat with Carla Hoch on Blog Talk Radio. We discussed the Horror genre in Christian Fiction. I had a blast. This is my third interview on here, with Carla, and I always have such fun talking with her.

Check it out, share the link!


Check Out Books Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Red River Radio on BlogTalkRadio

Thursday, October 9, 2014

A Month of Busy

An entire month since I've posted. Yep. But I've been ridiculously busy. Want proof? Just visit my Facebook page and check out my photo albums (links below).

In September, the family went to the new Diagon Alley section of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Well, we didn't go just to that section--we went to the whole theme park (both theme parks, technically)--but our main motivation for the trip was to see Diagon Alley.

A couple of teaser pics:




Anyway, CLICK HERE for the full photo album.

And then just a couple of weeks later, I attended the Necronomicon in Tampa.

I was there, as I have been for the past few years, as a guest author:



And of course there were costumes....

This one was my favorite (and apparently everyone else's, as he won the costume contest):



For more pics of the Necro, CLICK HERE

So, yes, busy. And that doesn't count all the homeschooling I've had to squeeze in-between!

Monday, September 8, 2014

I'll Be At the Necronomicon in a Few Weeks!

The Necronomicon is a sci-fi/fantasy/horror/gaming convention that has been going on for over 30 years in the Tampa Bay area. I’ve been there every year for about the past seven years. This year, I’ll be doing several writing panels, and you’ll find me wandering about the whole rest of the weekend. I’ll have books for sale (although I won’t have a table because they sold out in about two minutes this year). 
Here is the info on the con, and a list of the panels I’ll be on. This will be a new experience for me--I've never hosted panels before and it looks like this year I'm hosting two! 
If you're in the Tampa, FL, area, come visit me! Registration is $35 (includes all three days) through Sept. 24, then jumps to $50. They can only hit 900 this year due to space limitations, so register now online--link below:
Necronomicon 2014
October 3-5, 2014

Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay
2900 Bayport Drive
Tampa, Florida, USA, 33607

Guest of honor: Eric Flint

Check out the NEW Necronomicon site for information and registration! 

My Panel Schedule:

Friday 3:00 PM --  Using Real History as a Basis for Your Fiction
Friday 5:00 PM --  What You Need to Know about Writing YA Fiction
Saturday 10:00 AM  -- Making Words Work for You
Saturday 1:00 PM --  How to Handle Those Pesky Adjectives (Host)
Saturday 4:00 PM --  The Scoop on Small Presses: for Writers (Host)
Saturday 7:00 PM --  Getting Your Book from Print to Audio

Anyway, I can't believe this is LESS THAN A MONTH AWAY!!!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Writing Process Blog Hop

Last week I was tagged by Jill Domschot (author of the literary fantasy novel, Anna and the Dragon) to do this Writing Process Blog Hop. I actually kinda volunteered to be tagged, and yet I completely dropped the ball on getting the post ready on time. Starting back homeschooling full-force and preparing for a speaking engagement pretty much took all my free time last week and weekend. Well, except for the several hours I spent writing on Saturday thanks to my wonderful husband getting the Beasties out of the house. So yeah, quiet house and Work in Progress won over blog post. Deal.

Anyway, now to the post, which I've finally written :).

1. What am I working on?

This seems like it should be an easy question. It's not. I'm technically working on four different projects:

The first is, of course, Book 3 of the Toch Island Chronicles (that's my YA fantasy series that includes Finding Angel and Seeking Unseen if you are new to my blog).

The second is a prequel, sorta, for the series. It's the story of the mystery villain in Finding Angel and how he became a baddie. If you've read Finding Angel, you know why I'm not saying any more than that. If you haven't, well, sorry sweetie, but spoilers.

Project three, sticking with YA, is a ghost story. A young girl, Amelia, is staying in a small town with her father, a land developer with some big plans. The town locals are...scared. They don't like what Amelia's dad is doing. Mainly because they don't want to tick off the ghost that supposedly haunts the bridge on the edge of town.

Project four is my first full-length non-YA work. I've written some short stories that aren't YA, but never a full novel. However....I did discover, thanks to the awesome comments of one of my critique partners, that the book is not as far into the adult genre as I thought. I guess I can't help but write younger characters, so this one would likely fall into the New Adult category. In lieu of writing a summary, I'll give you a sneak peek at the query letter in progress that goes with this manuscript:

Simone found out at the age of 19 that she was half angel. And of course he had to be the one who told her—the demon, Wraith. The only one who was ever truthful enough with her to admit his words were mostly lies. 
She trusted him when he told her about her mother, the angel, who had selfishly given up Simone to return to Heaven.  She trusted him when he advised her to give up her own daughter out of selflessness—“They will grow old and die while you remain young.” And after years of searching for her daughter, she trusted him again when he claimed to have found her. 
Now the balance between angel and human in her has shifted. Can she trust Wraith one more time to lead her to the salvation he has been keeping from her for years?


2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Hm. For my Toch Island Chronicles series I'd say it's because my magic is very science-based, and my novels are in that spot right on the edge of YA (young adult) and middle grade. Most YA out there these days is paranormal fiction. Mine is more about the fantasy and magic. The books, at least the two so far, are also mysteries.

My ghost story isn't close enough to being finished for me to really know how it differs from others. Again, though, it's right on that edge between middle grade and YA. Again, more mystery. And all I can really say other than that is, I've read a lot--a lot-- of YA and middle grade books and haven't come across one like this one.

The fourth project is different because most books in this genre--New Adult, paranormal--are completely romance-based. And while this one is, as much as I hate to admit it, a romance, that's not the heart of the story. At all. I really don't know how to explain the difference. Let's just say, I'm writing it the way I, a non-romance reader, would want the story told.


3. Why do I write what I do?

Because it is what I read. What I have always read. Books about ordinary (but usually a little nerdy) kids who discover they are magic. Books about other worlds. Magical creatures. Mysteries. Scary stories. Books that struggle with dark themes. Those are what draw me to reading, so they are naturally what I write.


4. How does my writing process work?

That question assumes that it does work! :P Seriously, I have no real process. Every book I've written so far has been different. With Finding Angel, I spent nearly every waking hour writing, or plotting, typing, typing, typing, over the course of only three months. I wrote the scenes way out of order. I went through so many layers of editing for many, many months years after that. . But Seeking Unseen came out mostly in order, with the writing coming in slow bits and pieces, then the editing all slammed in at the end. I'd learned so much from writing Finding Angel and all the short stories I'd written, so the initial draft, while it took longer, came out much cleaner.

The rest of the projects are coming out differently still. Working on them essentially simultaneously means going back and forth. This one for a while (so many pages or words until I run out of motivation), then that one for a while...all squeezing it into an already busy schedule of homeschooling and, well, just being a wife and mom. Marketing has to be added to the mix, too, and teaching at conferences and such. I don't feel like I have a "process" these days. More like, take what I can get when I can get it--whether that be time to write or brainstorming for ideas--and take it in whatever order I get it.

OK, soooo......there it is. I've finally kept my promise. Only two days late--not so bad, really. However, because I was such a slacker I didn't find anyone to tag to keep the blog hop going. So, if you're a writer, and want to participate, feel free. Just make sure you list me and my website in the intro!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Tampa Bay Comic Con 2014

Just a quick post to share a few pics from our adventure at the 2014 Tampa Bay Comic Con! This was our first year attending, and we had a BLAST.

It started off with a ridiculously long line:


That was only a tiny taste of the number of people on the sidewalk...way, way down from where the actual event was....

But even standing in line can be fun with friends:


That's Beastie 2 and her buddy. Notice the waters--those were SO necessary. It was freaking hot outside! I was blown away by how many people stood in this line in this heat in full costume. At least Beastie's was cool. BTW, notice that it is classic Wonder Woman. A vendor actually gave her a free WW flashlight because he thought that was so cool of her :).

Beastie 1 wore just the basics in line, then when we got inside we finished suiting him up:


He was so worried about that costume. Would it be good enough? Would anyone know who he was? Well, judging by the number of people who asked for his picture, I'd say those questions got answered.

Speaking of pictures, this is one of Beastie 1's friends who couldn't take five steps without being asked for photos:


His dad worked about 5-6 hours every day, for over a month on this costume. It was awesome. The front opened up with the push of a button, and there was a voice box inside, and fans to keep him cool.

Here's the whole group of boys we went with:



From left to right, that would be Pit from Kid Icarus, Soundwave, Megaman, and Link from Legend of Zelda.

Yes, there were actually other people there and I did take pics--if you want to see them all, check out my Facebook album. (It's public, so if you're not on FB or we're not friends there, you can still see it.)

So, now....time to figure out what we're going to be next time!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Six Weeks Since My Last Post! What on Earth Have I Been Doing?

I probably  ought to be totally ashamed that it's been like six weeks since I blogged. I've never gone that long before, but I honestly and truly had nothing to write about. I've of course been spending some of that time working on writing projects.

Much more of it in the last few weeks, though, working on costumes for the Beasties for the upcoming Tampa Comic Con. Beastie 1 is going as Link from The Legend of Zelda and Beastie 2 is going as classic Wonder Woman. I feel like I've been through every store in my entire town looking for the right clothing articles and materials for making swords and adding details to outfits....Way more work than I expected!

This is Beastie 1 and the sword we both worked on. I mainly did the sheath, he mainly did the pommel. It's a premade wooden sword underneath. Lost of craft foam and duct tape used to transform it! Still working on adding the details to his costume. I'm enjoying the leather work the most....

BTW, it's not just the perspective...he really is taller than that 6-foot high armoire...

This was one of the hardest parts! Beastie 2's top. Finding the right top in the first place was a near nightmare, and then figuring out how to get that gold design. I finally found some iron-on gold transfer sheets at JoAnn Fabric that you can cut into any shape you need. This is actually two sheets, which I pinned face to face and cut out using a pattern I drew myself of half the design, then opened it up, making it perfectly symmetrical. Thank God the iron-on stuff worked well with stretchy fabric!


We used the same kind of iron transfer to make white stars for the blue shorts she'll be wearing. And gold craft foam worked perfectly for making the headband, wrist cuffs, and belt.

I promise I'll post pictures of them both in full costume after the event!

Speaking of events, I spent Saturday selling books at a local craft fair.


Yep, that's me, at a church event wearing a shirt that says, "I solemnly swear that I am up to no good." :D (And in keeping with the Harry Potter theme, I bought a pair of Golden Snitch earrings from another vendor.)

The weekend before, the family went to the beach (Anna Maria Island) for a few days. Lots of sun, but not too much thanks to my father-in-law thinking to bring a canopy. We had an awesome huge, open patio outside our room where we set it up, and where I spent most of my time. This was our view:

Looking straight out from the patio.
Looking to the right.
We saw some cool wildlife while we were there, too:

Beastie 1 found a live starfish. 

This guy (osprey) flew out ever evening at dusk and dawn.
Before that in reverse order...birthday weekend, Fourth of July, sports camp VBS with me helping out in the cheer leading class and coming home completely whipped every night.

Okay, so maybe I could have squeezed in a blog post somewhere in there, but every moment of downtime I've had I've spent either reading or watching movies....Harry Potter marathon this week. Finished up last night. Beastie 1 commented whilst watching the Deathly Hallows part 2, "Mom, I can't believe after all this time you still cry during this movie." My reply: "Always."

Anyway, that brings us to now. Hope ya can forgive me. And hopefully I'll have more to say much sooner this time!




Tuesday, June 17, 2014

God is Not My Audience

Phenomenal cosmic power...
itty bitty audience?
Being involved in Christian writers circles, I've heard over and over, "Write for an audience of One." It can come in variations, but that's the gist. Write what you believe God wants you to write and don't worry if no one else ever sees it. You're doing it for Him, not them.

I could never understand what bothered me so much about the saying. Maybe it was because it seems as though you are writing for God's entertainment. Like, some cosmic bedtime story just for Him--as if He's bored with taking care of the universe and trying to bring His children home, and needs you making up imaginary people that go around having conversions for His escapism. (Does God need to be presented with the Gospel?) Or it's simply obedience--Write what He says to write, and don't worry about it ever getting published or seeing the eyes of other readers. It's just an exercise in you Doing What You're Told. Cosmic busywork.

Yeah, I know, those comments probably ruffle some feathers. It can be argued that writing a story "for" God is like singing to him in worship (of course you may want to read my post here about that before continuing). And obedience is something the Bible commands. We don't always know why we're told to do something. Dip in the river seven times? Walk around the walls blowing horns? Ludicrous. But God sees the big picture. And working on your manuscript may be something in and of itself--a way for God to refine you, to make you think, to give you patience, etc. The end result is not necessarily what you think it will be.

But none of those things makes God my audience. I'm not a performer putting on a show for Him--I'm a person forging a relationship with Him. I'm not trying to wow him with my cleverness, or get Him to gasp over the twist ending I came up with. What I am trying to do is open my heart and soul to Him, to express my awe, to ponder his Creation, to connect with Him.

But the question is--does that mean the end result is just between me and Him? Is the ultimate goal a private conversation, or one others are supposed to overhear, and maybe learn from, maybe discover a new connection with God of their own? And how much am I supposed to consider those readers when I'm writing?

How's this for timing--I started this blog post yesterday. Today, right before I dived back in, I read today's post on Speculative Faith: "Biblical Discernment: The Glory Rule." Basically, if you are supposed to glorify God in everything you do, how does that translate to what you write (and read)?

I think in many ways, this is the same issue I've addressed. What does it mean to glorify God in your writing, and how much of that is directed at an "audience"? My belief on this is that it's different for every person. That we each meet God in a different way, unique to our personalities and experiences--but the key is, again, we are meeting Him, not performing for Him. He is not my audience. He is the one with whom I'm connecting in order to write a story that is going to reach an audience.

When I write, though, am I thinking of them? Yes. But I'm not writing just to please them. I'm writing what comes out of my connection with God. I'm writing the result of opening up my heart and soul to Him, not what comes out of seeing God as an audience of One, and the rest of the world as incidental.

I do, in fact, believe God uses my writing for me--which is what inspired this post. My Sunday school teacher was talking about how preparing lessons for the class benefits him by making him get into the Bible more deeply. My writing does the same for me--it makes me step closer to God, makes me read the Bible more so I can find that connection I so need in order to write.

But I'm not writing specifically directed at me, or at God. I'm writing knowing that someday an outside audience is going to read my words, and see my story, and hopefully find that connection I've forged with God through the process. And I believe that God wants that. My readers are my audience, and the show I put on for them is a story based in a very real connection between me and God. God is a very real part of the story--He is not my audience.