Monday, August 31, 2009

Today is one of those days when I'm not quite sure what I want to say, but feel compelled to post anyway. It's been a crazy week. Our camper suffered damage due to high winds--now fixed. Our older dog had a stroke--she's doing way, way better now though. My rejection list topped 55--a number that makes me cringe.

I know it shouldn't. I know if God plans for my book to be published it will be. Regardless of publishing trends. Regardless of gate-keepers that only look for particular types of books and base their acceptances and rejections on a one-page letter, having never laid eyes on any of my actual writing.

I am doing the only thing I can--I'm writing. Working on my second book. Writing short stories as they come to me. Sending queries and researching markets. Trying my best to act on faith.

Oh, I didn't mean for this post to be a bummer. I'm still bustin' over the news that I made Editor's Choice in The Absent Willow Review (they make the official announcement tomorrow!). And one of my bestest writer friends is getting a contract with an epublisher for her first novel--I'm SO excited for her! Once I get the official OK from her, I'll post all about it. And follow that by nagging everyone to order the book! :)

OK, so I'll finish up with a video...a seriously old one. This is a song I grew up listening to on my Dad's records--yep, actual vinyl. Magic and can ya not love this song!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Editor's Choice!!!

I was going to wait until the official announcement on Sept 1st--it is only a few days away, after all. But then, I never proclaimed to be patient!

My short story--"Willing Blood"--that is in The Absent Willow Review right now has just been selected as "Editor's Choice."

I am SO excited about this. You know how happy I was to get accepted by this mag. To be chosen from two issues' worth of stories...well, needless to say, I'm totally honored!!


Monday, August 24, 2009

Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception, by Maggie Stiefvater

First of all, what a cool last name--Steifvater--I love finding people with last names that are harder to spell than mine :).

This book grabbed me from the beginning, and I could NOT put it down. I read the whole thing in one day, while camping this weekend. Sorry, hubby, you and the kids go have fun--I'm reading!

Lament has all the same elements that Twilight has (or at least, the first chapters of Twilight that I dragged myself through): A quirky girl with self-esteem issues, a dangerous and totally hot guy, a "should I or shouldn't I" kind of relationship, bizarre happenings...Oh, but THIS book is incredibly well-written!

Deirdre is an immensely talented harpist with a real future at becoming a professional musician, despite her...unusual...pre-show ritual. On the day of a huge competition, Luke walks into Deirdre's life. Dreamy Luke. Mysterious Luke...

Now, you all know I'm not into romance novels. But when they involve such engaging characters (take a note here, Stephenie, "engaging"--not whiney or mean) I can't help but get sucked into the story. And there is a real story here--not just the romance! Deirdre's relationship with Luke is just the door that opens her to a whole new world right in her own of faerie and deception.

I can't wait to read more by this author. Her voice is unique--contemporary, but not rude. Really strong characterization skills. And perfect pacing. From what I understand, there is a sequal to this, but it's not out yet. I'll be looking for it, for sure!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Here it is!

My short story "Willing Blood" is officially published in The Absent Willow Review!

A bit nervous, I admit...this was the first short story I ever wrote. It's listed as a horror, and I've stated in previous posts that this is a dark story. So, if ya don't like that sorta thing, ya been warned.

They picked a cool piece of art to go with it, I must say. I've been so curious to see what would be selected. I've mentioned before how impressed I am with the writing in this magazine, but I've neglected (shame on me!) the incredible artwork on there as well!

OK, now get ta readin'!


I posted a pdf of my description of the allegory/symbolism in "Willing Blood." This is for those who didn't quite see the allegory or who don't want to read the story but are interested in how someone can call "horror" Christian. (I suppose if you saw all the allegory, you can simply read it and nod in agreement :).

Be warned--there are plot spoilers in the description!

Here's the link: Allegory of Willing Blood

Friday, August 14, 2009

My hippie side...

So, no real post today, just a video. Taking cues from my friend KM Wilsher and featuring a video of a special song. I saw these guys about a million years ago on "Late Night With David Letterman." Holy garage band, Batman, I found the video from that night. I fell in love with this sound.

Drivin' and Cryin'.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Absent Willow Review, and my tangential ramblings

It's your last chance to read the current stories in The Absent Willow Review (an online magazine of fantasy, sci-fi, and horror) before they're moved to the archives. The next issue is published on August 16th, when my story "Willing Blood" will appear!

I've found that this zine publishes some stories with a spiritual edge. Last month "In The Valley of Dry Bones" grabbed my attention. This month, it was "Between the Toes."

This has made me think about the strict labelling of Christian and secular work. I've found that a lot of secular writing, even books and stories by horror writers, have underlying and brilliantly woven Christian messages. But Christian writing has these set parameters, requiring messages to be obvious. Despite the claims of Christian publishers that they do not want "preachy" writing, I've found that much Christian writing lacks subtlety. Big time.

One of the things that got me writing in the first place was my fascination with the skill with which J.K. Rowling imbued Christian symbolism into the Harry Potter books. Not once was there a direct reference. Working her beliefs into the structure of the story impressed me more than any writing that spells out its message in bright, bold letters. I love to solve puzzles, and I revelled in the uncovering of Rowling's symbolism. I also love explaining it to people--so many feel her books are anti-Christian because of the magic.

Those same people are probably going to think me blasphemous for my story that is forthcoming in The Absent Willow Review . But "Willing Blood" is allegorical. It's dark (my best friend called it "disturbing, but in a good way"), probably borderline horror, but I know I wrote this story with my heart in the right place.

I can't write sunshine-and-daisies Christian fiction because I'm not a sunshine-and-daisies Christian. I'm a caught-in-the-battle Christian. I came from a Christian home, but strayed away during my teen years. I've seen the dark side. It's a very real place. And I feel closest to God when I think about those times. It was He who pulled me out, and it wasn't an easy process. But He fought for me. Died for me. A bloody, painful, and gruesome death. It's not all rainbows and pretty gold crosses on sparkly necklaces.

There is a place for that kind of writing. So please don't run off and think I'm bashing Christian books for having positive and uplifting messages! I just don't want to be made to feel ashamed for writing outside of that label.

Anyway, three more days until "Willing Blood" comes out in The Absent Willow Review. And I'm so proud to have been accepted by them!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

For the good of Goblinkind

The Scholastic Book Warehouse Sale comes to our neck of the woods once or twice a year. I normally leave with a few easy readers for my kids and a couple of YA fantasy titles for myself. More often than not, the YA fantasy books are mediocre, but I'm only paying a dollar or two for each of them. It's a gamble.

Once in a while, though, I grab a book that makes me feel like I got a true bargain--a great book that I enjoy from cover to cover. That's happened on my last trip, when I picked up The Goblin Wood, by Hilari Bell.

The main character, Makenna, is a hedgewitch, as was her mother, whom the townspeople put to death for practicing magic. Makenna exacts her revenge, and then flees for the forest, where she forms an alliance with the misunderstood goblins.

Soon she has become leader of a goblin army that must defend themselves against the ruling Hierarchy that is leading the humans into goblin territory. The only way the Hierarchy can fight back is to send in a spy--a knight who needs to reclaim his honor. But will Sir Tobin follow through with his orders after meeting Mackenna and the goblins?

The world Hilary Bell has created is vivid and fascinating. Nothing on the cover indicated that the book was the first in a series, but the ending left a wide door open (still a satisfying ending, but one that obviously shows there's more to come). I was SO happy to know I could continue the adventure because I didn't want to leave!

The next book in the series is called The Prophecy, and I can't wait to get my hands on it!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

home again

My family went camping again this weekend, and hooked up with some friends who have kids the same ages as our kids. Actually, this couple lives two houses away from us, and I went to high school with both of them! Yep, they're high school sweethearts.

We had a blast at Typhoon Lagoon on Monday. It was my daughter's first time at a water park. So fun! The wave pool there is vicious.

I didn't stop thinking about my writing, though. I've got a short story coming out in five days...but I'll blog about that later. Just make sure you check back on the 16th :).

A writer friend of mine sent me this awesome blog post about the agent search. Check it out here . I agree with a lot of what this woman says. The agent search can feel like a popularity contest sometimes. makes me want to go back to my high school cafeteria analogy...

But not today. Too tired from camping. I'll probably drag it out later. Maybe I'll watch "The Breakfast Club" to get in the mood :).

And completely off-subject--a spoonful of peanut butter cures hiccups every time.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Starfire: The Mending by Stuart Vaughn Stockton

It's been a while since I've read an honest-to-goodness sci-fi novel. I tend more toward fantasy (way more), but something about this book intrigued me. It's part of the second run from Marcher Lord Press (a publisher I'd be submitting to in a heartbeat if they took YA), and endorsed by Donita K. Paul (all the reason I personally needed to buy it). But those factors aside--the book rocks.

This story has all the classic elements--an Empire at war, a young soldier who rose above his lowly origins, a prophecy...but with a twist.

The protagonist is no ordinary soldier. He's a Yanguch, a species of saurn.

Honestly, I have no idea how to write about this without thinking things like "talking purple dinosaurs for grown-ups"--but the book deserves to be taken seriously! It's well-written, action-packed, and intelligent. The characterization is strong. It's got some way cool technology and solid dialogue. Even the world-building descriptions don't weigh the story down, as can so often happen in sci-fi.

I enjoyed this book from beginning to end. And I felt the ending was balanced--the front cover says it's number one in a series, so I knew there would be a lead-in to the next book. I will definitely be buying the sequal when it's released.

Moody Blues...

No, not the band. Well, not that one, anyway. It's me who's feeling moody, and blue. Maybe because this month marks two years since I began the writing endeavor. Mixed feelings about it all. Obviously, from my last post, the novel is not where I thought it would be in the publishing process by now. I'd at least hoped to have an agent at this point. Naivete!

I have had some success, though, and in areas I had not expected--a good dozen or so of my personal essays will be in print by this time next year, as well as a creative non-fiction in an anthology, and several short fiction pieces. One of those fiction pieces is coming out in a little over a week. (Nervous, but that is a whole nother post!) Anyway, I know this is just the beginning--that list is growing pretty quickly.

OK, back to the "band" reference. This is one of my favorite songs, and has been for about twenty years now. (Not quite as old as The Moody Blues :P, but still. Music from my day....)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Query Quandry...but at least it's raining

I received my 33rd official rejection yesterday. It put me in a bit of a funk, of course. I know that all it takes is ONE acceptance, and all the rejections are nullified--and that many, many very successful authors have stacks and stacks of rejection letters.

Still, it stings.

I would love to find out what it is about my query and book that are not appealing to agents. I've had nothing but great responses by beta-readers. I've had an aquisitions editor tell me my first chapter was really good, but her (large!) publishing house doesn't put out YA fantasy. But since rejections come as form letters, or "if you have not heard from us in x number of weeks, assume we are not interested," I have no idea what the problem is.

My research has shown that:
  • agents and editors look strictly at your writing, regardless of publishing history and platform
  • agents and editors look at your publishing history and platform, so even great writing gets passed over because the author hasn't invested in marketing themselves ahead of time
  • agents and editors are always on the lookout for new talent
  • agents and editors have fully-stocked schedules and no room for new clients (according to their form rejections, that is)
  • conferences are the only way to get the attention of an agent or editor
  • conferences only marginally increase your chances and are more for honing your skills

Confused as I am?

Add to this the fact that everything hinges on my query letter. A one-page letter that is supposed to sum up my book, me, my publishing history, my marketing plan, my target audience...and in such a way that an agent or editor says, "Wow! I must read this author's manuscript!"

I know I'm not the only one having these issues. I have writer friends who are completely losing it over writing their queries, too. There are gobs of online articles devoted to queries, chapters of writing books, classes at obviously it is an issue.

Where am I going with this? Nowhere, really. Just venting.

So, I'll focus on the positive--it's finally raining!

Monday, August 3, 2009

How do I begin....

I've been debating about whether or not I should post this in my blog. It's personal, but something I normally have no issues sharing, and those of my readers who know me personally already know about this. I had intended to keep my blog completely writing/reading-focused...but sometimes the Holy Spirit nudges. I'm thinking this may be one of those times.

So here goes.

Nearly five years ago, I was diagnosed with cancer. It was days after my daughter's second birthday (my son was only four), and it was, of course, the hardest thing I ever had to hear. The technical term for my cancer is adenocarcenoma of the cervix. This is not the usual cervical cancer you hear about, the one there is supposedly a vaccine for (an issue I won't get into here, but I have definite opinions about)--the kind I had was more rare, albeit just as curable.

And cured, I am. In January of 2010, it will be five years since the end of my treatment (which included radiation and chemotherapy--no, I did not lose my hair, but I got sick as a dog) and I am CANCER-FREE!

The reason I chose to write about this now is that I have a follow-up appointment with my oncologist today, so of course it's on the forefront of my thoughts. I'm nervous....I know it will all go fine, and the doc will tell me, as always, "Looks good! See you in six months." But, I still get butterflies and ask everyone to pray for me.

I've written a few personal stories that touch on my cancer experience, and sold them to Sunday school magazines. And there is a lot in my book that is symbolic of different aspects of my cancer experience--it is a part of me, of what has made me who I am today. Not happy I had cancer--that completely sucked!--but I can now look back and see God at work all over my life, using my cancer as a way to build me up and bless me in totally unexpected ways.

So, any prayers will be appreciated. And when I get home today, I'll post the thumbs-up I know will come from the appointment. Thanks in advance!


Appointment's over, and of course, everything is fine :D. The doc actually said--not in these exact words--that exams so close together at this point are a formality. With the time that's passed, I'm really in the clear now, even though the "official" date isn't until the end of January 2010.


Saturday, August 1, 2009

Another short story accepted!

I just received an email from the editor of Einstein's Pocket Watch, accepting a short story I submitted! It will be in the October/November issue. They print Christian fiction, including sci-fi, fantasy, and romance. Mine doesn't fall into any of those genres--it's not my usual fantasy writing, but hopefully you'll find it as good as the EPW editor did :).

They're new on the scene, but I was impressed with their site. The name of the zine is way cool, too. Einstein's Pocket Watch. Love that.

I will, of course, post when my story is online. In the meantime, check out their current issue.