Confessions of a Book Gypsy

confessionsof-abook-gypsyThere’s something gloriously fascinating about touching down in a new place, tripping along the cobblestones of an unfamiliar street, and eyeing buttery croissants in the display case of a cute café. And always—no matter where you go—there’s a wrinkled old woman gossiping on the corner. How do I know?

Because I’m a book gypsy, of course.

I’ve visited over 30 countries (some multiple times) in the last 10 years. I lived in northern England for two and a half years, while traveling to nearly every continent in my communications role with a global non-profit. I’ve interviewed an ex-Buddhist monk in Myanmar, ridden a camel on the sands of Arabia and photographed a wrinkled babushka (grandmother) in Siberia. My first published novel was co-authored completely via Skype and Google Docs, and I’ve edited more manuscripts at several thousand feet, on the floors of random airports, or in foreign countries, than I have at home.

My friends call me their gypsy, and I’ve enough of a Boho streak to concede their point. I’m also a bit of a collector in my travels. Of souvenir bits and bobs and smatterings of dialect, sure, but also of sights and smells and memories of places and people most will never see or know exist.

Istanbul? Colorful carpets and warm, fragrant bread. Northern England? Misty mornings and stone fences, a thick brogue and steaming steak and ale pie. United Arab Emirates? The call to prayer ringing out over the sunrise, crushed mint lemonade, and white robes flapping in a hot breeze. Bangkok? The sharp fragrance of incense and the insistent clanging of tuktuks. Africa? Pink, hazy sunsets and a baby rhino snuffling at a water hole, rough curls under my fingers and the most epic senior citizen dance moves you’ve ever seen.

ts00286rvOne of my greatest joys as I travel is to soak up the lives of very different people in very different places, to walk a mile in their recycled-tire shoes and experience their normal. Sometimes I capture a snapshot in a photograph or well-turned phrase, or sometimes I simply exchange a smile and make a memory.

My gypsy ways have given me abundant opportunities to observe a variety of people, places, and cultures and to employ the most important rule of traveling—first, always, seek to understand. Observe. Listen. Taste. Experience. Then, bit by bit, understanding will come.

I’ve found this experiential way of learning to be very helpful as I develop my fictional cultures and characters, layer by layer. I ask myself, as I do when visiting any new place, “What do they believe?” “What is valued in their culture?” “Who has power and influence?” “Is the individual—or the community—most important?” “What roles do people play in society? Family? Religion?”

Often, other people’s “strange” behavior (or even bizarre road construction!) makes perfect sense when viewed from their belief and value system, which may be completely opposite to mine. Once these “building blocks” are in place, I can then create the outer layers of fictional cultures and characters through sensory details, mannerisms, dialect, and more.

img_2280rvThat’s where characters really come to life. That’s when readers can take a walk through your streets, sit down and gossip with your old women, feel the desert wind sandblast their cheeks, and smell the spices stacked in pyramids at the markets.

If you’ll forgive me my worn, battered soap box (it’s seen a few miles), one of my greatest frustrations and disappointments when both reading and editing books is stories that lack realistic cultural depth, and characters that exist outside of their cultures.

Technology that doesn’t correlate, people behaving in ways that are inconsistent with cultural roles without repercussions, character housing and dress that is completely at odds with their culture, religion, or environment. The list is lengthy and egregious, but I’m sure you can think of your own examples, so I won’t belabor the point.

People say to write what you know, and for very good reason. How would I know that a Qatari souk (indoor/outdoor market) smells like saffron and sounds like a mildly-chaotic petting zoo if I hadn’t walked those crowded corridors?

Authors know their worlds better than anyone. Their fantastical cultures, people and places are their second home. But I’ve found they often don’t know their fictional home cultures as well as they might think. And that’s truly a shame, because truly rich and wondrous worlds can exist in the minds of writers—and their readers—if only they first would seek to understand.

That’s what I love about being a book gypsy, after all. There are always brave new worlds to discover, strange people to meet, fascinating cultures to experience, and a comfy armchair and a warm cup of tea to come home to after a long journey.

But, I must be off. Book gypsies don’t stick around long, you know. After all, the road goes ever on and on, and I must follow, if I can.

 

katiem2About the Author

 

Website: www.storyforhisglory.com

Instagram: Create.Explore.Illuminate

Facebook: Create. Explore.Illuminate

Pinterest: @CPKarisWaters

Twitter: @CPKarisWaters

Book: www.crosshairpress.com/books/kenan/

Confessions of an Artist Hiding From her own Heart

love-castle-1042979_1920I am an artist, but I’ve only recently accepted it. Growing up in an uber-practical Midwestern family, as a rule, artistry was something to be respected and grateful for, but it wasn’t highly valuable as a skill. So instead I focused on achieving practical things. Being organized. Being reliable and responsible. Changing tires, balancing check books, making lists. Life skills and algebra (*shudder*).

But I was only ever truly happy running around outside in the fresh green grass of the back pasture at our family farm. Sticks became energy weapons. Towering sunflowers became leering villains who needed a beating. I climbed apricot trees and pretended I could glimpse my imaginary world through the blossoms. I blasted soundtracks in my bedroom and paced in circles, letting the vigorous strains of Anastasia and The Phantom Menace choreograph action sequences that could keep Weta busy for decades. But I didn’t really write it down, and I certainly didn’t take it seriously. I was just playing, and the real world mattered more.

new-name_final_smallFast forward 20+ years. I tell stories for a living now. The first novel I ever wrote hit the shelves in March of this year, and in December of this year, the third book in my Destiny Trilogy will be available too. You can pre-order it right now, actually (http://crosshairpress.com/books/destiny-trilogy-3/).

Conquering the fear of sharing my words with the world began with understanding that God gave me a gift. Not everyone can write, and I had a choice to use my writing for myself or for God. My choice? God gave me this gift of words, so why wouldn’t I want to give it back to Him? And that’s where my real confession begins.

I am an artist, but I’m a practical one. I’m convinced that my practical upbringing helped me get to where I am now. I’m an artist who can run a business, who can understand accounting, finance, taxes, and insurance. I’m an artist who can pinch pennies, make deadlines, plan ahead, and manage people. I’m an artist who has finished 40 novels, averaging 55,000 words each. I’m an artist who lives and dies by the clock and the calendar.

That’s great, right? Because everybody can count on me. Everybody can look to me for answers. Everybody can come to me, and I’ll solve their problems. So it is great for an artist to be practical, especially if you have a caretaker streak in your personality. But if you’re an artist, you can’t always be practical.

I thought I could be practical all the time and still harness the heart of an artist whenever I felt like it, but I’ve learned it really doesn’t work that way. If you don’t have an artist’s heart, you may not understand. A practical heart can be refreshed and renewed with productivity and accomplishment and a good night’s sleep. An artist’s heart needs more than that. An artist needs to create. Without boundaries. Without rules. Without judgment or criticism. Artists need freedom to dream as big as they can imagine, whether it’s possible or not.

What the practical would call a waste of time is the artist’s lifeblood.

I’ve straddled the line too long, too afraid to accept my own artistic heart. I think I feared some Kafka-esque metamorphosis that would change me from a reliable person to a flake who couldn’t be trusted. And I can’t think of any greater horror than disappointing people who love me. At the same time, an artist confined to practicality is like growing a flower in water. It’ll grow, but it needs more if it’s going to thrive.

I am an artist, and avoiding that fact isn’t helping me. God wove my soul together. God made my brain this way. He knew exactly how weird I was going to turn out, and He still said it was good. So maybe I should too.

If God gave me this heart, if He gave me this gift, why am I afraid to embrace it? God doesn’t work through fear. He never has. Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t fear Him. I mean, heck, think about who He is. I fear Him, believe me. But I know He loves me. I know He’s good. And I know His plans for me are better than I can imagine.

I can be a practical artist. So can you. They aren’t mutually exclusive. Actually, both practical folks and artistic folks could benefit in learning from each other. One isn’t better than the other. One isn’t wrong and the other’s right. Usually, they’re both wrong, and the truth is somewhere in the middle.

I’ve been hiding from my own heart for years, and I’m done with it. This crazy, quirky, random heart God gave me belongs to Him anyway, so I shouldn’t be afraid of it. As long as it’s focused on Him, I’ve got nothing to worry about.

So blow up the box. Set fire to the rule book. Wipe the slate clean. God made me an artist, and I’ve got a job to do.

 

Are you hiding from who God made you to truly be? Or just scared to be that person?

 

me2015Author Bio:

Amy Williams is a novelist, freelance writer, founding member of Crosshair Press LLC, and professional nerd. You can find most of her work under the name A.C. Williams, but she also writes young adult fantasy (The Legend of the Lightkeepers) under the pen name Kimberly McNeil. Amy is single and lives in her family’s 100-year-old farmhouse on five acres in the middle of the Kansas prairie. She loves cats and drinks far too much coffee. Follow her random adventures on Facebook (AmytheStoryteller), Twitter (@acwilliams05), Instagram (@acwilliams05), and online at amycwilliams.com.

Confessions of a Male Introvert Thinker Author

Ceramic coffee mug and newspaper on wood table.

Ceramic coffee mug and newspaper on wood table.

When I decided to plunge into the work of novel writing, one of the first things I did was take stock of how those already in the business did things. I scoured websites, stalked social media sites, lurked inside launch parties, and otherwise gathered as much information as I could. I knew that writing a book was one thing, but connecting with readers and generating a following was something entirely different.

As I was writing specifically in the realm of Christian speculative fiction, I focused on those authors … and as time went on, I became aware of a general trend. The majority of the writers were women, as were their readers, and there was often a strong human connection between the two groups. In fact, in some cases their reader base was so devoted that there were entire Facebook groups devoted just to reading the author’s book and then talking about it with the author.

All of these things are absolutely fantastic. These authors have done a sensational job of bonding with their readers, cultivating community, and building on that to create cheerleaders for their (very good) books. It’s an awesome snowball effect to behold, and I’m excited for what they’ve been able to do, in some cases in a relatively short period of time.

It also creates unique challenges for this male, introvert, thinking author.

(I’m an INTJ, for those of your Myers-Briggs people keeping score at home.)

It’s not just a stereotype to say that women are a major force in the world of fiction; in a recent story, Christianity Today confirmed statistically what most of us have observed anecdotally. Women read more than men, gather to talk about reading more than men (i.e. book clubs), and hone in on Christian fiction more than men. Of course, there are men who are successful in both the broader category of fiction and the more specific realm of Christian speculative fiction (including a few men with my own publisher, Enclave), so I know can be done.

Figuring out, for me, how to get there has been a process. Part of that process has determining where I fit in. How do I connect with readership? How do I, as a science fiction writer, build bridges with both male and female readers? How do I push the door open so that those readers will take a chance on my writing? Most importantly, how do I accomplish all of this while still staying authentic to who I am – as a thinking introvert in a business that seems to revolve around human connections?

The good news for me is that, slowly but surely, I’ve been working through the answers. I’ve been blessed with a core of great people who have helped me through the process, from beta readers to launch team. Many of them (including my wife and my editor) have helped stretch my writing in ways that helps balance my thinking, plot-oriented nature with the nuances of personal relationships and character development.

As a result, I’ve had wonderful people – men and women – from all walks of life who have taken a risk on my writing and given me humbling comments. Some of them are sci-fi fans from outside Christian fiction altogether; others are readers of some of the same dazzling authors I talked about earlier. And as I continue to write more short stories and novels in my debut series, I’m ever hopeful that I’ll continue to find new doors to sail through.

Relationships, torpedoes, and all.

 

Joshua Johnston - Headshot - LowAuthor Bio:

Joshua was raised on science fiction television and film before being introduced, in his teenage years, to the wider universe of science fiction literature. In addition to his daily work teaching American history and American government, he is an occasional writer on a variety of topics, including video games and parenting.

His debut novel, Edge of Oblivion, released with Enclave Publishing (now Gilead Publishing) in April 2016. Joshua lives in St. Louis, Missouri, with his wife, Rachael, their two daughters, and a highly xenophobic cat.

He can be found online at www.joshuaajohnston.com.

EdgeOblivionJAJ - Web

Confessions of the Sufferings of a Fear-Deficient Man

Confessions of the Sufferings of a Fear-Deficient ManI originally titled this post, “Confessions of the Sufferings of a Fearless Man” with the intent the title would do what all good titles do well—grab your attention. It’s not, however, exactly true that I’m “fearless.” No, I do have fears, but when I look back at my life I would have to say I didn’t have nearly enough of it for my own good at times. It happens to be the case that a lot of the fears I have come from bad things that have happened to me as a result of risk taking—fears I’ve acquired over time.

In fact, you may have never really considered it, but the function of fear is to keep a person from doing stupid things that get you hurt. I mean, in stories it’s normal to admire the person who shows courage, but there’s a reason we all see that as a rare trait. Because showing courage is an awfully good way to get hurt. Not always, but often enough. In other words, if courage were common or easy—well, they’d be a lot more people in the Emergency Room.

So childhood thoughts I had like, “I wonder if I can climb that pine tree all the way up to the tiny little branches?” (You can, but they will break and you’ll fall.) Or “I wonder if I can swim in a river engorged and flowing fast with snow melt?” (You can, but it will be a near-miracle if you make it back to shore alive.) Or “I wonder what it would be like to breathe hard, then squeeze my carotid arteries?” (You’ll pass out, which can be fun if you’re weird, but is not recommended for your brain health.)

All these things produce negative results for the person who feels no fear to try such things. Of course a normal, sensible person isn’t going to do crazy stuff like that; ordinary fears will shield you and steer you back to safer actions. (Well, that’s assuming you’d even think the off-the-wall, random thoughts I’ve had at times in the first place. Perhaps you are not “blessed” with that sort of an imagination. Ahem …)

Now, I did actually have some instinctive fears as a child. I was, for example, afraid of the dark. Which, other than tripping over a random object a time or two, has never actually hurt me at all. Unlike most of the things I felt no fear of until I got hurt. Like falling. Sigh.

So again, I never was really “fearless.” I just didn’t have enough fear. Fear-deficient.

Leading me as a young driver to take huge risk as I was hauling down a Montana highway at 55 miles an hour, under conditions rather resembling an ice skating rink. I saw three or four cars had slid off the side of the road, and I thought for a brief moment, “I wonder if I should slow down?” Nah! I kept on going, full steam ahead! Until I came to a turn in the highway in front of a hill that had been cut away. I tried to turn to follow the road, but guess what, the car just kept going straight ahead, Sir Isaac Newton’s inertia in command. Slamming the car into the rock face. (I did actually feel some fear just before impact—I prayed, “Dear God, I’m dead.” Well, it turns out that due to His mercy, I wasn’t dead—but I was a tiny bit wiser.)

I wish I could say that one major crash taught me to be super-careful on icy roads. Um, NOT. It took several more minor crashes for me to wholly get the message. And you can imagine how I learned to be cautious about hydroplaning—yep, it didn’t matter that I’d already slid off the road under icy conditions. I had to learn the lesson AGAIN by going off a wet road into a security fence. How did I learn not to drive too fast under good road conditions? Well, actually I still do drive too fast, but I’ve had some crashes and stiff fines that told me, “Hey, moron, SLOW DOWN.”

There are dozens of examples of this sort of thing with me: Learning you DON’T randomly walk behind a horse unless you’re comfortable with getting kicked. No, you CAN’T win a fight with a school bully who has an adult body build when you’re still a kid, based on pluck alone. No, you CAN’T randomly say any thought that passes through your head—people will judge you for it. No, it ISN’T a good idea to drink tap water in a third world country. Etc.

As a writer, one of the things I do is portray different types of people. I’m aware of people who are cautious and careful and insightful on a daily basis. As much as I’ve learned to act more and more like that the older I get, it’s not my basic personality type. Which is to take huge risks—and at times, to suffer hugely from them. But over time, I have come to resemble someone who is naturally cautious. About most things. At least some of the time.

To my fellow authors in the world, I ask you to remember how risk-taking can be a personality type when you write characters. Please also remember that things don’t always turn out for the best for risk-takers. Fear exists for a reason—while there are benefits to showing courage, it can also turn out badly. And the best brave characters feel fear but press forward anyway—but bear in mind there exist a certain group of people who don’t feel very much fear at all.

If you happen to be someone who lives with a person who keeps doing dumb things that you think any sensible person would know not to do—say it’s a male teenager or young adult in his 20s—please be encouraged that it’s at least possible sometimes for that person to learn to develop some healthy fear over time.

But he will unfortunately have to suffer some pain during that learning process. That’s what it took for me.

6 APR 2016 selfieDAuthor Bio:

Travis Perry was born in Montana in 1968 and raised in that state. The Crystal Portal, published in 2011, was his first novel. He also contributed to the short story collections Stories From a Soldiers Heart, Aquasynthesis, Aquasynthesis Again, Avenir Eclectia Volume 1, Colony Zero, No Revolution Too Big, Medieval Mars, and Avatars of Web Surfer. An Army Reserve officer who deployed for the Gulf War and later to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Africa, his writing reflects his lifelong interest in science fiction and fantasy, his strong Christian beliefs, and his knowledge of modern warfare.

 

LINKS:   Amazon author page — https://www.amazon.com/Travis-Perry/e/B005EREN66

Blog — http://travissbigidea.blogspot.com/

 

 

Confessions of a Writer, Mother, and Pastor’s Wife

Confessions of a ...Every time I share that I’m a writer, I have people look at me and ask how do I do it all? How do I balance raising four kids, being a pastor’s wife, and writing?

Confession time: I haven’t always done a good job juggling all three. Honestly, I think the only person who could is Supergirl, and even then I think she would struggle. But what I have learned is to have priorities, and those priorities have changed as I went from writing as an unpublished writer to an author with a deadline, and from having four kids under four to kids in the double digits.

When I first started writing, I was home with babies and toddlers, snatching bits of writing time during naps and nights when my husband was at church meetings. The more I wrote, the more I wanted to be published. I think this is the desire and goal of most writers (after all, we write so that we can share with the world). There were moments where I grew discontent with just being home with kids. I wanted more. I wanted to be an author so bad I could taste it. But that wasn’t where I was in life. So instead, I took the time I had to learn all I could about writing, then continued writing during those spare moments I had.

That period of my life taught me the value of waiting, of putting aside my desires, and to put my family first. As a pastor, one of my husband’s goals was to never have our children grow up and feel like the church took their daddy away. I had a similar goal: I never wanted my children growing up believing writing was more important than them.

New FotW coversNow, as a published writer, I am thankful for the boundaries I set earlier on around my writing and around my family. I write when my kids are in school, but when they are home, I put my writing away. There are those few weeks every year when I’m on an edit deadline, but because I have invested into my children and husband, they help me out during that time instead of resenting mommy disappearing into her office for hours on end.

As far as being a pastor’s wife, honestly, I’m not any different that other women in the church. I just happen to be married to the pastor, other than one thing: the more he is gone, the more I need to be home so I can hold down the fort. I serve where time and gifts allow, and in some ways, my writing is also part of my ministry. As a shy introvert, it is hard for me to be around people. That’s why I love writing! I can communicate my heart and faith with people in a way that bypasses my weaknesses.

So what advice do I have for mothers? Enjoy the time you have with your little ones now. The writing will always be there, but your children will not. They grow up and before you know it, they’re gone. Also spend time with your husband. Your marriage needs you to be a part of it. It might mean you only write a book a year, but your relationship is worth it. If you want to be writer, you need to write. But find a time and a pace that allows you to be a mother and wife as well.

Tainted_Hi_ResAlso, saying “no” is okay. You can’t do everything. That is something I learned early on in ministry. I can do a couple things very well, but if I spread myself out, my effectiveness diminishes. In order to juggle the role of mother, writer, and wife, I’ve had to use “no” many times in order to say “yes” to a few things so I can do those few things well. That might come in the form of saying no to writing three books in one year (no!), or heading up three different ministries at church (no!), or having each of my kids participate in three sports, piano lessons, and drama club (no!).

So how do I do it all? By giving each area the time in needs, and saying no to everything else. My kids and husband get time with me, my writing gets its share of time, and I serve the church when I can (and sometimes that means being home for our family and allowing my husband to go off and do everything he needs to for the church).

How about you? Do you struggle juggling everything? How do you prioritize your time, obligations, and relationships along with your writing? Share below!

 

morgan-busse-NLR-5Author Bio:

Morgan L. Busse writes fantasy and steampunk for the adult market. She is the author of the Follower of the Word series, including Daughter of Light, Christy and Carol Award finalist. Morgan lives on the West Coast with her husband and four children. You can find out more about Morgan at www.morganlbusse.com

 

Website: www.morganlbusse.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/morganlbusseauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MorganLBusse (@MorganLBusse)

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/morganlbusse

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5827587.Morgan_L_Busse

My books: http://www.enclavepublishing.com/authors/morgan-busse/

Confessions of a Collaborative, Role-Playing Writer

Mug-Design-279-_2_1024x1024Hello. My name is Janeen Ippolito, and I am a collaborative writing addict.

I blame it on the extroversion. For me, writing has always been about connecting with others. My teenage years were spent happily engrossed in online play-by-post roleplaying games where I built crazy story worlds with my fellow gamers – X-Men and Lord of the Rings being my favorite fandoms. I’d post my section of the story and eagerly await to see what other writers’ characters would do in response. I’d spend hours crafting intricate plotlines in OOC threads or plan spinoff threads to write side stories in collaboration with other players.

By the way, in terms of characters? I had thirty-seven at my maximum, each with their own backstories and purposes. I always wanted to be able to play the games and go on the adventures.

There’s just something about the electricity of connecting with others through stories that is compelling and fascinating. Even now, my first fiction novella (due out October 29 through Uncommon Universes Press) was created in collaboration with an illustrator, with whom I also built the story world, planned all plotlines, and shared characters.

In short, my brain is super-happy working with other brains to make incredible speculative works together.

What does this look like in practice? A ton of communication with co-writers. A lot of mutual respect and trust regarding plotting and different writing styles. A great deal of sharing over Google docs. A hefty dose of humility as two visions need to be braided into one cohesive whole.

normalfriendsOh, and specialized agreements about the nature of collaboration to eliminate confusion and define the terms of the work. This is absolutely essential for the health of all writers involved, especially when actual publishing comes around.

At first, I was a little sheepish about my love of collaboration. After all, you always hear about the purity of authorial vision. The need for authors to sequester themselves in absolute solitude to hear their own thoughts and purposes. Whereas if I try to stuff myself away in an office, I get distracted by all the quiet and lack of outside stimulation. Hopping online to chat with friends actually jumpstarts my writing gears, because they yell at me to keep writing and, even on solo projects, my lovable-yet-snarky critique partners will ‘sit’ on Google Docs and check in to make sure I’m actually making progress. Me, distracted by shiny new marketing tools and business ideas and meme creation? Never!

I can only conclude that before the invention of internet I’d need some kind of telephone system where friends periodically called me to jar me into work. Or some kind of specially-trained parrot to pull my hair whenever I came up with a new and must, must turn it into a shiny image with Pixlr or Canva (or in pre-internet days, good ol’ fashioned doodling).

After all this time, I’ve gotten used to my need to collaborate, and I see a lot of benefits in it, especially in my work at UUP. Because I’m passionate about entering the author’s world and understand their vision, I enjoy making long-term marketing plans and goals for their work. In UUP we’re a team and my enthusiasm for connecting with authors and their stories helps foster that sense of community for mutual benefit and growth.

Houses of the Dead coverDoes this mean I always collaborate? Actually, it did until recently, when a story idea came out of a dream (where a lot of my ideas come from—my brain is busy at night). This story quickly turned into a Thing that I must now faithfully write out or else suffer the consequences of distraction and mind-clog. It’s been a fun challenge to work through it solo and spring new, completely finished scenes on my crit partners, instead of having everything out in the open. I’m not even outlining this one, so there’s no preparation paper trail!

In the end, I’ll always come back to collaboration in some form, because my heart is for building bridges between all of us crazy creatives. We all build fantastic visions and those visions are just too shiny to keep within our own heads.

 

DSC_0649Author Bio:

Janeen Ippolito is an idea-charged teacher, reader, writer, book reviewer, and the Fearless Leader of Uncommon Universes Press. She writes speculative fiction laced with everyday humor and cultural tension. Her co-written illustrated novella, Thicker Than Water, releases on October 29th and the first eight chapters are available online at bloodmercy.wordpress.com. Go to JaneenIppolito.com for world-building resources and off-the-wall insights from this sleep-deprived author.

 

Confessions of an Overly Extroverted Writer in an Introverted World

Author Head Shot Amy copyHi. I’m Amy, and I’m an over-the-top extrovert.

(This is where the support group says, “Hi, Amy!”)

I love people. I love talking. I love being right up in the middle of all the action. I make friends everywhere I go. I have no fear or reservations about talking to anyone, anywhere.
I’ll have complete strangers in the grocery store laughing and giving me a hug before I leave them. I feed off of the energy from crowds. I love parties and concerts and festivals. They are some of my happy places. Occasionally I like to be alone, but for the most part, I’d rather be around other people.

So why in the world would I choose a profession like writing? It’s mostly solitary. You spend hours upon hours alone with your thoughts and characters, and the majority of your colleagues are introverted, to one degree or another. And, when you’re with them, you’re typically the one starting the conversation and trying to bring people out of their shells or place them at ease.

My answer as to why? There are a few.

  • I can’t NOT write. The stories boil in my blood, seep into my brain, and refuse to let me be until I’ve gotten them out. A writer is who I am, not just what I do. If I have to spend lonely hours alone, so be it. It’s worth it. I’ll get all the people/talky time in later.
  • Sometimes, I do get a craving to be alone. Shut in a room with my music and my laptop, creating characters and worlds. If you know me, I know this may seem
    hard to believe, but it’s true. Some days I’m even quiet, hardly saying a thing all day long! (Gasp!)
  • This career chose me. I went to school for something else and practiced in that career for years. A career perfectly suited to me. It required me to utilize all of my communication skills on a daily basis, to deal with strangers and coworkers constantly through the day, and to continually be thrust into situations that required me to take the lead and make first contact. Basically, an extrovert’s dream job. But things changed. God was leading elsewhere. After pointlessly fighting Him for a bit, I gave in and did a complete turnaround job wise. Turns out, He was right. I’m happier than ever.

 

Amy's book Rebirth is the reason I found and fell in love with this quote.

Amy’s book Rebirth is the reason I found and fell in love with this quote.

But my writing life is a little different than that of many other writers I’ve met.

Those preconference jitters because you’re meeting new people? The fear of being in the middle of a massive crowd all day long? Being afraid to talk to someone because of who they are or what position they hold? Yeah, I honestly have no idea what that’s like. Even when I’m writing, I’m either out in the living room where everyone else is, or in a busy
coffee shop or pub.

The fact that most of my colleagues are introverted? Doesn’t even phase me. I love being the one to help make them comfortable and bring them alive. I love learning about them; what they like and dislike, how long they can handle the crowd, learning their cues that signal they need to go decompress for a bit. I love eliciting thrilling conversation from those who tend to not talk a lot. Just because they may not say much, doesn’t mean they have nothing to say or that they don’t like you. They are actually very kind and gracious, and extremely opinionated and well-spoken.

I’ve learned so much from my introverted writing companions. Namely, how to dial it back a bit and really listen instead of constantly running my mouth. I’ve learned that quiet is good, it is healthy, and I actually like it. Sometimes. And I’ve learned that the old clichéd saying is true: still waters do indeed run deep. My quiet, solitude-needing, prefer not to be the center of attention friends soothe me. They teach me. They anchor me.

I, in turn, have been told by some that they like having me around because then they don’t have to try and start conversations, or feel as awkward meeting someone new, because I’m there to break the ice. They’ve said I make them feel comfortable and welcomed. To me
that is a very high compliment, because one of my goals throughout my life has been to make sure those around me feel a part of things, that they feel welcome and wanted and loved. I can’t stand having anyone around me feeling pushed to the side or overlooked.

So you see, being highly extroverted in a mainly introverted world isn’t really a bad thing at all. It’s just like most other things in life: there must be a balance. And I am more than happy to provide my own special brand of outgoing craziness to all who find themselves in need of an icebreaker.

Or comic relief.

 

Are you an introvert or an extrovert? How does that affect you in your chosen career path?

 


Author Bio:

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.

 

9781943788040-Perfect.indd

 

From Ralene:

Amy had her first novel debut back in May. You may remember me singing its praises here and here. If you haven’t checked it out yet, hurry over to Amazon! (And, Amy, how long until book 2 comes out?)

 

Confessions of a Rejected Author

BelieveWe are told that if we pray hard enough … long enough … that you will get what your heart desires. Added to that is the phrase “if it is a Godly desire”. I’m fairly sure this is a cultural teaching, but that is not the point. The point is, we pray, expecting to get what we pray for. The “God is a vending machine” mentality. This idea goes hand in hand with the idea of God making us prosper. That we will have a happy life with no issues, other than where to spend our money, because he has made us so prosperous.

Somewhere in all of this, the idea that we are tested and that the enemy attacks us is lost. Maybe because we don’t want to hear it, or maybe because, too often, the bible verses “Ask and it will be give to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:8) and “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:24), are taken out of context and used as a one shot to bolster the spirits of Christians and non-Christians alike.

If you actually read further in Matthew 7, you will see that Jesus is actually talking about being given what is GOOD for us by our heavenly Father. “Which of you, if his son asks for bread will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him.” (Matthew 7:9-11)

The verse in Mark is taken out of context as well. If you read several verses before this one, you find out that Jesus curses a fig tree and the next morning, Peter expressed amazement that the curse Jesus spoke came to be. It is there we find the meaning of this story. “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. (Mark 11:22) Simple, precise, and to the point. This verse is not telling you that YOU demand of God, but instead, trust that God’s promises and God’s will will be carried out.

Does that mean we shouldn’t pray for what we desire?

Of course it doesn’t. But if you ask people if they got every desire of their heart, the answer is going to be no.

But doesn’t that mean it wasn’t a Godly desire?

Not necessarily. I prayed long and hard that my son would be healed and get to come home with us a happy, healthy, and normal little boy. I even took comfort in the idea that Godly desires are granted. It took our family preacher at the time telling me that just because I prayed, doesn’t mean I would get it. As much as I didn’t like to hear it then, I am SO grateful he spoke that truth into my soul at that time. Because when I DIDN’T get the desired answer from God, I didn’t lose faith. I kept the knowledge that God’s will doesn’t necessarily translate directly into what I want. But I also don’t believe that my desire was not put there by God. I fully believe that He, as our loving Father, would never want that type of pain to be given to one of his children.

I had a Godly desire, but God still said no. I do not have all the answers to the “why” behind it. And the day I finally do, I don’t think it will matter, since I will be with God and all of my lost babies.

Prayer will not always give you what you want. Sometimes, there is a “no” answer. And that is okay.

At the end of 2015, I submitted my first story to be considered for publication. (It was my “first” in terms of it was more than the rough draft. I actually worked on refining it and having others read it to help me fix big mistakes.) It was part of a contest and I was nervous and excited. I hoped I would win, but told myself I didn’t hold out much hope. (That was a lie to myself…I’m working on that!) But I would pray. I prayed long and hard some nights for God to let me win the contest and my my story be one of the five chosen. I even went as far as laying out why I wanted to win. (I realized later that this was only half the truth … but more on that in a bit.)

So February of 2016 came around, and I saw a post that made it seem like the winners had already been notified and I hadn’t been contacted. I was devastated. I felt like the best I could give wasn’t good enough and there is no way God intended for me to write because I wanted to win so bad. I didn’t do much other writing in February, telling myself I needed the time to recoup from my disappointment. I had really given up on myself at that time.

Towards the end of February, hoping for something I missed, I re-read the blog post that I THOUGHT said the winners had already been notified. I read and re-read the wording of a certain part and realized that I had been initially mistaken. The winners didn’t know who they were yet. There was still hope! But I still had about a week and half of anxious waiting before I would know for sure. The wait was going to do me in!

I prayed again that I would win the contest. But this time, I focused on a part of the prayer I had missed when I was praying in January…I prayed that God’s will be done. I was a lot calmer and a lot more focused on the fact that with all the entries in the contest, the chances of me winning was slim (there were only 5 winners of who knows how many … but it was more than 100).

So March 1 came along, and I read the announcement page. Sure enough, my name wasn’t listed as the five winners. Nor was it listed in the 5 runner ups. I was disappointed, but this time, I started thinking of the why.

Why was my desperate desire not granted. I had a Godly reason behind it. I wanted my story to touch and impact a person positively. So if I had a good reason, why was there a no.

I did a lot of soul searching the days after I saw the announcement. I finally realized that me wanting to impact the people who read my story was only part of the reason I wanted to win.

If I won, my story would be published, and I could figuratively thumb my nose at all those people who told me I couldn’t do it (even myself).

If I won, I would get money and my name in print … on a real life published book, published through a publisher that, while small, was an actual publisher that gave out rejections. This publisher is not a vanity press! It is the real deal!

If I won, I would be able to go to my library and tell them, “Hey I have a story that is going to be published.” I would have my name out there!

None of these reasons are inherently “bad” reasons (except for maybe the first one that hits a little too close to pride…). But they are all reasons that I lied to myself about. I’m sure there are other reasons I’m still keeping from myself, too.

My point with this, though, is to say that even though I prayed and had a good desire…a desire that, I believe, was placed there by God, it wasn’t my only desire. I would venture to say that it probably wasn’t even my STRONGEST desire.

I’m sure, like my prayer of healing for my son, there are multiple reasons why God said “no” to me having my story win, I think I’ve figured out a few.

One reason is I needed to learn a bit of humility. We all do, but I was so caught up on what I would do or say when I finally got published, that I started to think of myself as better than others. I spent some time reading other stories that were similar to mine after I submitted my story. “Mine was better than that one,” was a strong thought I had in the three months between when I submitted the story and when the winners were announced.

Another reason is I needed to look deep into my own reasoning and my own thoughts as to the “why” behind my desires. I only spoke of my “other” desires to, really, my husband. I kept them well hidden from myself most of the time and tried to “hide” them from God (that never works because He always knows …). If anyone would have asked me my reasons behind wanting to win, I would have whipped out my “I want to impact someone who reads my story” excuse.

If I had won, I would have never thought on my other reasons. I would have been prideful and arrogant and would have pushed my agendas, without much thought to the reason I told everyone about.

God answers prayers. I have seen it happen. I have witnessed it happening. But sometimes, the answer is “no.” We can’t ever know the full extent of the reason behind the no, but there is a reason. And we need to maintain our faith and belief that not only does God want to give us what we ask for, but he wants us to actually have better than we ask for. And this means, sometimes, He has to say “no.”

20150808_074211Author Bio:

Jill Fortriede is a stay-at-home-mom and future homeschooler. She has three beautiful girls here on Earth and three babies in heaven. She loves fairy tales, Narnia, and most things speculative.

Confessions of a Type A Creative

Confessionsof aType AYep. That’s me. I’m a walking oxymoron. I’m a spinner of tales and dabbler in acrylics and watercolor and digital media. On paper or walls or computers, I love to create. I get a high just by walking into the craft store. So much potential! Yet, I have a dark side. I’m a Type A personality. (AND C! The classic stuffer of emotions!) Sometimes I wonder how I can create at all.

Art needs to flow. Be free to express our inner struggles and reflect the beauty around us. To explore. Be spontaneous!

Which. I am not. I’m a control freak and a perfectionist. I have a color-coded planner and a weakness for volunteering for everything. I don’t make left turns if I can help it, and I take life way too seriously. I need to be DOING something at all times. And we all know if we can’t relax and refuel, our creative wells dry up. My perfectionism paralyzes me and I can’t create. Plus I deny my feelings and shove them under the rug.

And why am I in the creative field again?

Because it’s in there. It’s screaming inside to be set free. And I am learning to do just that. And when I do? Glorious peace!

As a mom to two young kiddos, trying to pen epic novels and dabble in art, I have to choose my battles. There is only so much time in one day. So . . . My house isn’t always as clean as I would like it to be. Oh, you say, that’s normal. Artsy people aren’t known for being neat freaks. Bah! My eye starts twitching when the bookshelves aren’t in order or when the toys aren’t in their labeled bins and on their appropriate shelves. I usually stay somewhat on top of it. Otherwise I freak out. My brain freezes and my writing suffers as well as our household. Sorry, so sorry, kiddos, I should be saving up for your counseling sessions.

You should have seen my house the past two months when I was getting Darkened Hope ready for publication and planning all the epic awesomeness that comes with launching a book out into the wild. On second thought  . . .  maybe you shouldn’t.

Another perfect example, as Ralene so kindly pointed out . . . (See, she’s my sanity anchor and encourager in Type A activities. SHE’S the one who suggested that I label my confession as a Type A Creative. Ha!) Anyway, my favorite planner was ending this month. I had been checking Amazon for the next one since the end of April. NOTHING. I tried not to freak out. My brain was hung up. I couldn’t think beyond my need to start scheduling things for July and August and beyond!

But by June 8th, it STILL wasn’t available. So I decided I would create my own. I spent the entire day at the computer. And I would have succeeded too, if it hadn’t been for my desire to maintain the connection between the template automatic update and my desire for a two-page monthly spread.

I am pleased to say that the new planner was FINALLY available mid-June and my order placed. Despite the fact that it doesn’t have the cover design that I wanted. 😛 By the time you read this, I will be drooling over it and marking it up. Ha! That said, this company keeps changing things, so I might just end up creating my own.

I’m sure I’m not the only Type A Creative. Right? RIGHT??? Looking at you, Ralene. (Ralene insert: *cough* I have no idea what she’s talking about. *hides lists and calendars*)Maybe we need to create a support group or something. But here is the good news! Personalities can be changed! According to my googling while I was writing this up.

I am trying to loosen up a bit. Relax a little more. Indulge freely in my creative pursuits.  Eventually. I am learning to choose my battles, set boundaries, and ignore my twitching eye. Otherwise I would not get anything done. AND I can’t forget to hang out with my friends. Sorry, so sorry guys! I am working on it!

I may be a mess, but I’m a work-in-progress. I’m a Type A Creative. (And Type C!)

Have you found your personality to be in conflict with your calling/talent/dream?

 

jlmbewe-profile-editedAuthor Bio:

Writing as J. L. Mbewe, Jennette is an author, artist, mother, and wife, but not always in that order. Born and raised in Minnesota, she now braves the heat of Texas, but pines for the Northern Lights and the lakes of home every autumn. She loves trying to capture the abstract and make it concrete. She is currently living her second childhood with a wonderful husband and two precious children, who don’t seem to mind her eclectic collections of rocks, shells, and swords, among other things. Here, between reality and dreams, she is busily creating worlds inhabited by all sorts of fantasy creatures and characters, all questing about and discovering true love amid lots of peril. She has two short stories published in The Clockwork Dragon anthology, and four short stories set in the world of Nälu. Her debut novel, Secrets Kept, was nominated for the 2014 Clive Staples Award.

Confessions of a Publisher/Editor/Author

confessions of aThank you for having me on your blog today, Ralene! Let’s see … the good, the bad, and the ugly. Hmmm …

The Good:

As a publisher, I am constantly on the prowl for the next amazing story that will rock my world and be a good fit for my publishing company. And I love delegating tasks to my team. Especially marketing. While completely necessary, marketing is just the worst. (For me, anyway! I still learn everything I possibly can about it.) I love having a professional marketer who relishes promoting our books and is an expert in her field. It frees me up to be an expert in mine!

As an editor, I thrive on making other’s words succinct and captivating. I love hacking sentences to pieces, celebrating especially captivating phrases, and gently explaining the rules to my authors. (There are so many!) Being an editor is my favorite of the three.

As an author, I make myself giggle. As in, all the time. I especially find my new release, Zombie Takeover, hilarious. I’m quite certain it isn’t as hysterical as I think it is, but I mean, come on! If I don’t enjoy myself, what’s the point of writing? (Then again, I may be exhausted from all of the publishing and editing and writing and … zzzzzzz.)

Oh! Right! The Bad:

As a publisher, I get cornered at every opportunity and told about “this amazing book idea” an aspiring author has rolling about in his or her head. Write it down, people. I can’t read what hasn’t been put on paper, and neither can anyone else. You shove it at me; I will most likely read it. (I will. I love reading new material. So much.) But I can’t publish your ideas. I’m so sorry. Write. It. Down. End of rant.

As an editor, a comma in the wrong place gives me ticks, and I’ve been known to yell at my computer screen when an author gets “that” happy. (You know: “The thing that I wanted” instead of “The thing I wanted”—see. Nervous tick. Right there.) 😉 Also, I now constantly edit every. single. word I read. Books just aren’t the same anymore. Sniff. On the other hand, a well-turned phrase can send me into squeals and happy dances, and I have to read it to everyone in sight. I am so sorry, random stranger. Yep. That was me. You just had to hear it.

As an author, I’m always being bombarded by these amazing story ideas—that I’ll write down as soon as I’m done editing this other person’s book right over here …

The Ugly:

As a publisher, my pet peeve is a grainy or low-resolution image or a less-than-professional post for all the world to see. The ugly part (and this is all on me!) is I’ve been known to ask my authors to take down a post or re-upload an image that looked like it was taken off the internet at 1kb. (Only if it applies to marketing. I wouldn’t dream of asking them about a personal post—I hope! Just their professional image.) And watch. Right after this post, I’m going to accidentally upload something with the grainiest picture there is with three typos and not find out about it for a week. 😉

As an editor, I have actually cried over jobs that were so bad, I wondered why in the world I took them. (This was ages ago, way before publishing, not anyone who knows me! Completely random, anonymous jobs. No, I’m not talking about you. I loved your book, whoever thinks I’m talking about them. I’m not.)

As an author, I’ve been completely baffled when my own book comes back from my editor and has—red marks on it. Gasp! I’m an editor! How on earth can my stuff be swimming in red? Sob! I don’t handle it well. At all. (But it must be done! Even editors shouldn’t edit their own work. Sad, but true.)

Let’s end in “The Good” again, shall we? “The Ugly” there is giving me the shivers. It sounds so terrible!

As a publisher, my drive, my dream, and my passion is to bring quality books to life in this world hungry for the very best fiction. It’s important to me to have a professional cover, professional editors combing the manuscripts, professional formatting and interior design—notice the word professional? Quality matters, and I only hire the best. I want each of my authors to succeed.

As an editor, I want each manuscript perfected, not a mistake in sight. That’s my goal every time I edit. I reference the CMOS, CWMS, Proofreading Secrets of Bestselling Authors by Kathy Ide, and Merriem-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary often to stay on top of industry standard. And I take editing courses at every opportunity. (The EFA rocks!) Whether an author is published through my company or not, I want to give them my best. They deserve it.

As an author, I write the stories I adore and want to read. I strive for quality, and, even though it’s extremely hard to have my own work edited, I love learning new things and refining my manuscripts. I also love to hear if I’ve made a mistake (weird, but true)—how else will I learn?

Thank you so much, Ralene and everyone, for letting me share a slice of my world with you today! I loved spending time with you more than I can say!

What about you? What is your favorite gift with which our Creator has crafted you?

Author Head Shot MicheleAuthor Bio:

Michele Israel Harper spends her days as a stay-at-home mom and her nights typing
away furiously on her laptop. Sleep? Sometimes… A member of the Heartland Christian Writers, American Christian Fiction Writers, as well as the treasurer for the Indiana chapter of ACFW, Michele has her bachelor’s degree in History and can most often be found with her nose in a book when not chasing her two rambunctious boys or cuddling her new baby daughter. Visit her website at www.MicheleIsraelHarper.com to learn more about her.

Social Media Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/love2readlove2write/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/razersj
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14554353.Michele_Israel_Harper
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/razersj/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/michele_israel_harper/
Amazon Author: http://www.amazon.com/Michele-Israel-Harper/e/B016YW4Q6Q

Zombie Takeover_Kindle editionMichele has a new book coming out in a few weeks. You can find out a little more about the book at the below link. I’ll also be reading/reviewing the book in July!

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1Yo9yUf