Novel News: October 2016

Man, where did the month of October go? It’s like one minute I was waiting impatiently for the weather to cool and the leaves to change, and suddenly BOOM–October is almost over. Granted, the weather around here did cool off last week (finally) and the leaves were really pretty till the wind and rain knocked them all out of the trees. Yay for fall!

But, my recap of October isn’t really what you came here for, is it? Bring on the novel news!

*Post does contain my affiliate links

 

New Releases

Ralene Bellnock 1 The Reluctant SaviorBellanok by MEEEE!

Bellanok is a haven for myths and legends . . . until evil discovers a way in. Now the fairy queen, Fauna, must journey from the island realm to the modern world to find the man the Creator appointed to save their kingdom. A man she has been dreaming of her whole life.

Brian is a down-on-his-luck pastor on the verge of giving up on God. He’s tired and frustrated–a failure. No sooner does he make a decision that jeopardizes his career than an unusual blonde woman shows up and tries to convince him he is some kind of savior.

Fauna must open Brian’s eyes to a different reality, and Brian needs to embrace the haven’s secrets. If neither of them succeeds, Bellanok will succumb to evil and the world will lose all trace of innocence.

 

timeA Time to Rise (Out of Time, Book 3)

I haven’t had time to read this final novel in the trilogy yet, but I can’t wait!

At least that’s what the Council—and the world—thinks. But her sacrifice tore down part of the Wall long enough to stir up hope and rebellion in the people. Now she will rise again. Strong, free, and fearless.

Parvin and Solomon must uncover the mysterious clues that Jude left behind in order to destroy the projected Wall once and for all. Meanwhile, the Council schemes to new levels of technology in its attempts to keep the people contained. Can a one-handed Radical and a scarred ex-Enforcer really bring shalom to the world?

 

accAccelerant (Abiassa’s Fire, Book 2)

I’m working my way through this one, the 2nd in a fantasy trilogy, and LOVING it. I so enjoy Ronie’s writing style and her story world. 

He’ll destroy the world. But first he has to save it.

The Nine Kingdoms bleed. Leaderless, ravaged, the land awaits deliverance from Poired Dyrth’s devastating campaign. But what if one blight can only be cleansed by another?

The promised Fierian is known by many names. Judge. Destroyer. Scourge. And now one other: Haegan, Prince of Seultrie. Once a cripple, now a gifted Accelerant, Haegan can no longer run from the truth. But neither can he be reconciled to it. He knows only one thing for certain: as the only able-bodied heir to the Fire Throne, he must return to the Nine and fight for his people.

But there are insidious forces at work. When reality itself falls into question, Haegan struggles to know where to fight, whom to trust. Caught between duty to his country and duty to the world, Haegan must see clearly enough to choose the right path to save the world.

 

scarletmoonScarlet Moon (Children of the Blood Moon, Book 1)

Another one I’m looking forward to reading soon!

Destiny can pick someone else.

Evil is slipping through the cracks of its prison, and all Soleden trembles in its wake. Yet some would harness that evil to their own ends, and first among them is Idla, the sorceress queen bent on distorting the world.

Only one can stand in her way: Jayden. Upon realizing her mark as the prophesied Deliverer, Jayden conceals herself from her enemies and her Feravolk countrymen. But after the harm the Feravolk caused to her family, she’s loath to rescue the not-so-innocent.

Hiding her mark was never easy, but now that Jayden knows both Queen Idla and the Feravolk are after her, hiding her gift of the Blood Moon will be impossible.

 

blackblack tiger (Black Tiger Series) (Volume 1)

When the fire goes out, supposedly dead, the embers still remain; tiny specks of deadwood and ash that have the capacity to burn down an entire city.

Ember Carter is a sixteen-year-old farmer’s daughter who wants nothing more than to stay close to her family in the Community Garden when Career Day approaches. Unfortunately, all farming careers are given to boys, and besides, as of the past two years, all students have been drafted to the Line of Defenders to fight in a war no one seems to know about. When Ember meets Forest, the mysterious stranger who seems to know a bit too much about city life and the way the government is run, she’s even less eager to leave the safe haven of the Garden.

On Career Day, the future couldn’t look brighter when Ember is the only student assigned the career of a Farmer. But all hopes come to end when she attacks a Defender to save her best friend. Suspected a rebel and sentenced to death, she’s transferred to Frankfort Prison where she will carry out her sentence.

But Frankfort is full of surprises and snotty Patricians. While in prison, Ember learns a dark secret about Forest that makes her question what little she knew about him. And then there’s Rain,the carelessly handsome boy who enjoys instigating her just a bit too much. If THAT’S not enough, the world learns something about Ember even she doesn’t know. A secret that brings her character into question, enlightens her on her mother’s true identity, and ultimately, gives her the power to affect the rise or fall of Ky.

With the handsome Forest tugging at her heart, and the rogue Rain whispering treasons into her ear, can Ember make the right decision that will redeem the corrupt government of Ky?

 

ordOrdinary Souls by J.S. Bailey

Sixteen ordinary souls. Sixteen not-so-ordinary tales.

Ordinary Souls is an anthology about ordinary people. This new collection from J. S. Bailey features an archaeologist in the future who meets a resurrected woman from long ago, a spaceship crew stranded on a distant world, a wealthy divorcee whose love of antiques turns her life into a living nightmare, and much more.

Featuring nine new stories and seven previously-published stories including “Vapors” and “Weary Traveler,” which appear in print for the first time.

 

 

Writing Update

If you weren’t around last week, then you missed my big announcement. I signed a 3-book contract with Elk Lake Publishing. You can find out more in this blog post. Yes, I’m so very excited and still terrified. The first book could be out as early as February or May.

In other news, obviously, Bellanok–the Kindle compilation–is out this week! Hopefully in a couple of weeks, I’ll have the physical version available as well. I can’t wait to hold the actual book in my hands. And smell the paper. Don’t judge.

Right now, I’m finishing up edits on Soul Seer before I move onto a new story. *gasp* It’s been so long! I’m not sure at this point if I’ll be working on the first book in the new trilogy as I had planned. I may be working on the 2nd book in the Armor of Elohim trilogy.

Other News 

My Ladies of Spec group had our first Facebook party last night. It was fabulous and so much fun! There was a great turnout and lots of great interaction. A big thank you to all of those who attended and helped make the night truly memorable.

We also got to announce our new Facebook group for spec fic readers. Ladies of Spec Readers Group is somewhat of a cross between a street team and a readers group/book club. We’ll have game, contests, and other book launch fun for ourselves, but we’ll also highlight/read new releases and old favorites by other speculative fiction authors.

If this sounds like something you’d enjoy, click on the link and join in the fun!

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So what have you been reading this month?

AUTHORS: Did you have a book release this month? Feel free to leave the title, a 25-word blurb, and buy link in the comments! 

Confession of Two Arrogant Thoughts

by James L. Rubart

 

eugeneArrogant Thought # 1

It was the mid 90s when I finished a novel in the wee hours of the morning and said to myself, “Really? C’mon. That’s supposed to be a good story? I could write a story way better than this.”

It wasn’t the first time that thought had skittered through my mind.

Arrogant? Yeah. But I didn’t do anything other than think that thought. Why? I’ll explain. (You might even relate.)

I’d dreamed of being a novelist since I was eleven. But I’d been taken out at the end of 8th grade by a lie that I believed till I was in my early 40s. The lie? That I had no writing ability.

In 8th grade—given my dream of writing—I took a journalism class. I loved it. I imagined being on the school paper the next year. Then, at the end of 8th grade, the journalism teacher chose the staff for the newspaper the coming year.

You already know where this is going. You’re right. My name wasn’t on the list. And I believed deep down in my core: “You can’t write, Jim.”

How ‘bout you? Might not have been writing for you. Might have been sports, or speaking, or painting, or singing, or cooking, or running for student body president, or a million other things, but I’m guessing you had a dream, a desire, something that stirred that deep place of joy inside you, but it crashed. It burned. Or it never got off the ground.

Arrogant Thought # 2

Fast forward a few years. Thanks to my life-changing wife, I finally jumped off the novel writing cliff and built my wings on the way down. (Thanks to Ray Bradbury for that awesome metaphor.) I got published. I hit a bestseller list. I won an award for that first novel.

You know what my reaction was?

I thought, “It’s not that I’m any good, it’s just that everyone else is so bad.”

That’s what I thought. Truly. Arrogant and self-deprecating and judgmental—all at the same time.

The Truth

In the years since I’ve discovered a few things. Or better said, my perspective has changed in a few ways.

  • First, both of the arrogant thoughts above come from deep insecurity. Am I worth anything? Do I matter? Can I do anything in my life that’s worthy of being remembered?
  • Second, the only way to be set free from that insecurity is to know, to KNOW I am loved by a Father with an unquenchable love. A Daddy that loves all my attempts—and sees all of them as triumphant, that celebrates not what I do, or accomplish, or create, but celebrates me simply because I am His son.
  • Third, the answer to the first question (can I do anything worth remembering?) is it’s really, truly okay … wherever the path of your life leads you, it’s okay. You are worthy. You do matter. You are utterly loved by a good, good, Father. And that’s enough. God’s definition of success is different than ours. Our is money, or fame, or recognition or … fill in the blank. But God’s is simple. Did you try? With whatever ability, be it great, or small, did you try? And the very fact that you care that you’re trying means you’re trying.

 

So as my friend Mark says, “Go crazy!”

Try it.

Dream it.

Believe it.

Do it.

 

tljtjp-cover

 


The Long Journey to Jake Palmer

Publishers Weekly starred review

Library Journal starred review

RT Book Reviews- 4 1/2 stars and  TOP PICK!

Available wherever books are sold.

 

 


james-l-rubart-hs-v4-7-26-16Author Bio:

James L. Rubart is 28 years old, but lives trapped inside an older man’s body. He thinks he’s still young enough to water ski like a madman and dirt bike with his two grown sons, and loves to send readers on journeys they’ll remember months after they finish one of his stories. He’s the best-selling, Christy, INSPY, and RT Book Reviews award winning author of eight novels as well as a professional speaker. He lives with his amazing wife on a small lake in eastern Washington.

More at www.jameslrubart.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Feel free to include headshot, bio, and links

 

 

BIG News + a Party!

Friday was a good day. Now, Fridays is general are typically good days. End of the work week for most. Pay day for some. And, hey, you hear Friday and you can’t help but smile. It’s like saying BACON or COFFEE!

But why was Friday good for me?

Well . . .

I got a brand new sweatshirt that I absolutely love!

ralenewrite

And it arrived 30 minutes before this happened . . .

14707842_1229950053693460_1155378488880592801_o

That’s right. I signed a 3-book contract with Elk Lake Publishing. I pitched to Deb Haggerty at the Realm Makers conference this summer, sent her Aletheia in August, and now here we are! She’s taking on the whole Aletheia trilogy. Yay!

On top of that, I found a new social media client and a potential editing client.

People, God is GOOD. All the time.

He SEES our needs, and He PROVIDES. Maybe not in our timing or in the way we had thought He would, but He is still provides.

I’ve been on cloud 9 ever since signing the contract. And completely terrified. Just so you know.

 

What did I do after signing and posting on social media?

I sat at my computer, listening to YouTube videos with my gal pal, J.L. Mbewe, trading videos and jokes. We were jamming while I celebrated with a little bit of mint chip ice cream (coconut milk). Meanwhile, doing some Realm Makers planning, some surprise planning, and then rockin’ this blog post. Right now, Mandisa is beltin’ it out in Toby Mac’s “Lose My Soul.”

But I kicked it off with my title video of the year.

 

 

Now for a PARTY!

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Awhile back, my friends (Amy, Desiree, and Jennette)and I started a little group we called “Ladies of Spec,” to share our publishing journeys together. And now we’re celebrating 2 of our favorite things: FALL and BOOKS!

Join us next Thursday at 8:30 EST for a couple of hours of fun, conversation, and prizes!

Ladies of Spec Fall into a Speculative Adventure Facebook Party

 

So, what are YOU up to this weekend?

Confessions of a Fear Fighter

confessionsof-a-fear-fighterToday, I’m so excited to welcome a new friend of mine, Chaka Heinze, to the Confessions blog series. She has quite the interesting take on fear. Read on, my friends!

 

I have a confession to make. It is not something I like to acknowledge in myself, let alone admit to the vast landscape of the internet where roving, multi-eyed creatures with barbed fangs lurk in shadow, looking to devour misstepping mortals. Did I mention the creatures leer at me with the stark white faces and bright red lips of painted clowns? (Thank you Stephen King.)

I digress.

I have a confession to make. Fear has been my unwelcome companion for as long as I can remember. It taunts me with sibilant whispers when I’m faced with the unfamiliar, the uncomfortable … or asked to drive and meet anyone anywhere in the wild places of the unknown. (The streets of Omaha, Nebraska can be terrifying for those who are used to orienting themselves using the rugged peaks of the Rockies. West. Always West.)

Fear slithers up to coil heavily on my chest in the night as I consider the conversations of the day, the well-being of my children, the lunacy of the upcoming election, or the depravity and violence that is becoming a daily occurrence both in America and around the world.

Fear strikes at me with unbridled venom whenever my son has a heart event and we end up in the hospital again.

If you think about it, there are countless manifestations of fear to contemplate from the moment you get up in the morning until you fall “safely” into bed again at night. I won’t name them all here, because focusing on fear has a way of empowering the beasties and turning garden snakes into leviathans.

As a child, I had one major weapon against the fear—I could control the narrative. If I had free time, I read. If it was time to go to bed, I told myself stories. Books and my stories were a safe place to test boundaries, have adventures, and explore the environment around me. During those days, I sometimes existed in the realms of dragons and elves or in the mind of another child tiptoeing through the minefield of puberty. And during the night, I imagined myself the main character in some fantastical drama in which I saved the world and got the boy. Well, sometimes … I just got the boy.

Fear drove me into the inner workings of my own imagination. And in there I learned to make magic.

As a grownup (a title that can only be loosely applied), I still wrestle with that great snake. Fear. But let me be clear—the beastie is no longer my master. This heart is under new management. Though fear still lurks about the edges striking at my heels whenever it senses a vulnerability, it no longer controls, stifles, or prevails (for long).

But I’m grateful. Instead of tearing me apart or killing my dreams, dealing with the fear helped me to find my voice. Both my spiritual and mental muscles have been strengthened in my battle against the simpering nuisance.

So I have a confession to make. I struggle with fear, and that’s okay. Because I know how this story ends.

 

How do you deal with fear?

 

13072671_10209815349089231_8479661413584245022_oAuthor Bio:

Chaka Heinze lives in Nebraska with her husband, four children, and two havanese pups. She is a keynote speaker with the ministry Wholly Loved and enjoys talking to groups of women about the faithfulness of God through difficult times. Chaka has always admired C.S. Lewis and desires to emulate his ability to glorify God without slapping people in the face with religion. Her debut novel, Under A Withering Sun, is in the process of being re-released (stay tuned for more details). She is a member of ACFW and NWG.

Find out more on her website: chakaheinze.com.

Confessions of a Subpar Creative Writer

confessions-of-a-subpar-creativewriterI’m an aspiring fiction author, and I am lousy at what people traditionally think of as “creative writing.”

There, I said it.

I’ve always enjoyed coming up with stories. As a child, I cast my Barbies, ponies, trolls, and other toys as players in many a dramatic quest or romance. I even wrote a few little books, complete with dreadful illustrations (if you think I’m bad at creative writing, you should see me attempt to draw!).

But when grade school hit and we were given creative writing assignments, suddenly my stream of fictional narratives hit an impasse. Sometimes I came up with a storyline that was way too complex to complete within the given time frame, leaving me disappointed when I had to close with an abrupt, unsatisfying ending. Worse, I often heard the writing prompt or looked at the picture meant to give inspiration and came up with nothing. I completed the assignments, of course, but they never felt like my best work. Based on the scores I received, my teachers agreed.

So I wrote myself off as bad at creative writing and moved on to pursue other interests. The stories still came to me, but I kept them confined to my head, never even considering writing any of them down. Since my love of reading had never wavered, I majored in English in college. And when it came time to figure out what I was going to do with my life, I solved the “What do you do with an English major?” dilemma by going to law school.

At this point, you’re probably asking, “How did a lawyer who’s lousy at creative writing end up as an aspiring author?” Life can be funny that way.

After practicing as an attorney for several years, my first son was born and I decided to become a stay-at-home mom. As much as I loved the time with my son, I soon found I would go crazy without a project. A soul-searching autumn walk produced the thought, “What if I were to write a book?” I quickly shut it down. “You tried the creative writing thing and stunk at it. You could never write an entire book.” But another, quieter voice popped up, too. “Yeah, but this time I’d get to write one of my stories.” (Yes, I conduct many conversations in my head. Don’t judge.)

Eventually I convinced myself to give it a try, assuming I would lose interest in a week or two. Instead, I fell in love. This was nothing like the painful stretching of my imagination in which I struggled to come up with something, anything, to fulfill a certain assignment. The words flowed freely; at times I could hardly type fast enough to keep up with my ideas. This felt like what I was supposed to be doing, like my very best work. Work that needed plenty of editing and revision, of course, but something that came from my very heart and soul, not from a desire to impress a teacher or a desperate attempt to fit a certain mold.

Now, I do realize that many writers enjoy and benefit from creative writing classes, writing exercises and prompts, etc. I’m just not one of them. Even though my grade school experiences were a long time ago, I doubt I will ever sign myself up for a writing workshop. At writing conferences, I will probably always shy away from courses that are advertised as “hands on.” When I get caught in a writing exercise I haven’t managed to escape, I will not be the one who eagerly raises my hand to share what I’ve written with the class.

And I will be okay with that. I will embrace my identity as a fiction writer who doesn’t do creative writing. Because for me, that’s exactly what keeps my creative juices flowing, and I’m determined to never let them get stifled again.

How do you feel about creative writing exercises? Do you fit the mold for your career path, or have you needed to find ways to make it work for you?

 

author-pictureAuthor Bio:

An avid reader since birth (her parents claim she often kept them up until nearly midnight begging to hear just one more story), Laurie Lucking discovered her passion for writing after leaving her career as a lawyer to become a stay-at-home mom. She is an aspiring author of young adult romantic fantasy and co-founder of www.landsuncharted.com, a blog for fans of clean YA speculative fiction. A Midwestern girl through and through, she currently lives in Minnesota with her husband and two young sons. Find out more about Laurie and her writing by visiting www.laurielucking.com.

Confessions of a Literary Mutation

04-21-19All my adult life I’ve struggled to merge my serious, Bible study, church-lady, self with my inner geek. You see, since childhood, I’ve loved to read, study, and know God through His Word. I’m passionate about everything from Noah to Nehemiah, John the Baptist to the Revelation of Jesus. I can talk and write about the Bible until, well, forever, actually. I’m certain that around the campfires of eternity, I’ll still be happy hearing the stories it contains.

However, God wired me with some nerd circuits, too. I’ve seen every episode of Star Trek (all the series from classic to whatever’s coming up next), and I’m a huge fan of Star Wars, Marvel Comics, The Lord of the Rings series, Once Upon a Time, King Arthur, Matrix, DC Comics, as well as select disaster movies, epic fantasy novels, science fiction books, and … well, you get the picture.

My mind swims with these characters and stories so, when I’m processing biblical truth, I often find the perfect illustration in a zombie war or a Klingon ritual. That’s just how I roll. I suppose it’s not hard to figure that I would mutate this way if you consider that I received most of my early discipleship through two magazines. In college, I faithfully read Discipleship Journal and the Wittenberg Door, one, serious biblical scholarship, and the other, evangelical satire. Yes, I’m the love child of these two, now defunct, periodicals.

cat-518306_640I’ve struggled with this–at one time attempting to hide one side from the other for obvious reasons. Only revealing one side to certain people, the other side to others. You understand. But frankly, that’s an exhausting way to live, and I respect God too much to deny His design. I mean, you wouldn’t encourage a hedgehog to keep acting like a house cat, would you? There’s a reason He created both.

It wasn’t until I started my blog and worked up the nerve to write the way I think that I discovered I’m not alone. Of course, God designed enough of us to crew a Starship, deliver a ring to Mordor, or alert the planet of impending disaster. As I found others like me, I grew to accept myself as a literary mutation–a person who merges the biblical with the fantastical in the service of furthering the kingdom of God. (It was only recently, at a Realm Makers conference, listening to a pitch from Splickety Publishing Group, that I discovered the concept of literary mutation and embraced it as my author identity.)

In my first book, Running from a Crazy Man (and other adventures traveling with Jesus), a quirky, unconventional devotional, my inner geek makes peek-a-boo appearances in chapters titled “Klingon Christians,” “Where’s My Cool Iron Suit,” and “The Faith of the Redshirts.”

My newest release, Jesus and the Beanstalk (Overcoming Your Giants and Living a Fruitful Life) is a full-scale merger combining serious bible teaching about characteristics necessary for spiritual growth described in 2 Peter 1:1-10 and illustrations rife with fairy tale characters, Star Trek figures, and, yes, even zombies. (If you’re a fan of a certain TV show, you won’t want to miss the chapter titled “Thou Shalt Pray like Sheldon Cooper.”)

I’m really excited about this book and even more excited that the more I find my identity in Christ, the freer I am to not only be who He made me but also to write what He created me to write. I’ve found that many of us write with the hopes that we aren’t alone in this world. My favorite part of writing is hearing from readers who also felt alone until they discovered my words that expressed what they didn’t have words to say. The faster we find the courage to write from the deepest part of who we are, the faster we’ll find the readers we are intended to reach.

How amazing is God’s imagination that He could design the likes of all of us and put into place a plan of redemption that includes even literary mutations like me?

 

Have you ever faced the issues of being a mutation of any kind?

 

roeleveld-headshot-2015About the Author:

Lori Roeleveld is a disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians late for dinner. Passionate about the church, she speaks and writes with humor, transparency, and authority about the long journey from the ground to glory. She writes an unsettling blog and authored three books, her latest Jesus and the Beanstalk (Overcoming Your Giants and Living a Fruitful Life). A retired homeschool mom with a day job and a husband, she’s also a part-time giant-killer/dragon slayer. Not available for children’s parties. She’s prone to reveal too much about herself at www.loriroeleveld.com

 

high-res-beanstalk-cover-2Link for Jesus and the Beanstalk: https://www.amazon.com/Jesus-Beanstalk-Overcoming-Giants-Fruitful/dp/1501820044/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1471726558&sr=1-1&keywords=jesus+and+the+beanstalk

Link for Running from a Crazy Man: https://www.amazon.com/Running-Crazy-Other-Adventures-Traveling/dp/1941103782/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1471726591&sr=1-1&keywords=running+from+a+crazy+man

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/

A Day in the Life . . .

a-day-in-the-lifeI often have people ask me how I fit everything into my schedule. I homeschool, write, work, volunteer, and try to have some sort of life outside my home. One word describes my life: busy. Sometimes even overwhelming. But I love it and wouldn’t change a thing.

 

The basic truth is that no day during the week is quite like the other. With all of our activities, appointments, and obligations, it’s hard to set any kind of actual daily schedule. But I do follow some general guidelines.

6:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.  Morning Routines

We all have different wake up times, but everyone is supposed to be up by 7. From there, everyone has an hour to really wake up and eat breakfast. The last hour is a combo of getting ready for the day and morning chores. I try not to schedule anything other than the occasional doc appt. before 9:00 as we all have our own speeds in the morning.

For me, I get up at 6:00 and have quiet time/Bible study. Somewhere around 6:40, I’ll start breakfast if I’m making something like scrambled eggs, otherwise breakfast waits til about 7:00. The next two hours, I try to work on my own projects (novels, blogs, etc.) and jumpstart the social media fun.

9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. The CORE of the Day

This is the general time set aside for homeschool, cleaning, and other activities. Homeschool on a good day takes about 5 hours (for me, less for the kids). Wednesdays, my oldest has 3 hours of therapy, so we do homeschool on the go for the other 2. Thursdays is homeschool co-op. The girls also have gymnastics (Monday) and choir (Wednesdays) that fall into this time block. No TV/games are allowed during this time unless it’s for school or special reason.

I try to limit my online time during this block. My computer is off limits except for about 30 minutes during lunch. I might quick check social media on my phone between subjects or cleaning. If I could wean myself off completely during this time, I might even get more done.

5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.  Evening Fun

Depending on the time of year, there are various things that can go on in the evenings: Bible study, American Heritage Girls, church, martial arts . . . Dinnertime and evening routine are determined by those projects. Ideally, we eat between 5:30 and 6:00.

If we’re in an off-season or a day where we have nothing in the evening. The kids are usually welcome to some TV or games after dinner cleanup. After dinner, I will hide away in my office to work (usually until about 10:00). Before 8:00, I’ll work on various jobs like marketing for Realm Makers, volunteer stuff for ACFW, etc. Depending on what time I get those done depends on what time I get to editing for clients.

8:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.  Work, Read, Sleep

The kids start to settle down around 8:00. All are required to start getting ready for bed around 8:15 and in bed by 8:30 when we’re doing school. The older 2 can sometimes stay up and read for a bit, if they’re quiet.

I’m still plugging away at work until 10:00. My goal is to give myself an hour to unwind before I need to go to sleep, and, ideally, at least 30 minutes to read while cuddled in my bed. At 10:00, I generally talk with my husband for awhile, then migrate upstairs to read. Lights out is supposed to be at 11:00, but sometimes I need just one more chapter . . .

 

Block scheduling is a new concept for me in my daily life. Okay, not new, renewed? I’ve just started applying it in general over the summer. But the summer was so crazy that it wasn’t exactly effective. However, since we are now back to normal, I can see how well it is working for me.

Block scheduling like this allows us to be as flexible as our lives may require. Knowing that “this” part of the day is to be reserved for “these activities,” my Type-A side is able to relax when things don’t go exactly as the schedule says they should.

As you can see, I also work block scheduling in to my work. This way I am always making time for my projects, my jobs, and my editing. Nothing ever gets completely dropped. Now, that’s not to say if I’m under deadline, editing won’t take over for a few days. Or writing. These are just guidelines.

So, that’s a peek at a day in my life. No 2 days are alike, and life keeps us busy. But amid the chaos, there is some organization, and right now it works for us.

What about you? Do you have a schedule that you adhere to? Do you “block out” your day?

 

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

Reconnecting with Your Vision

pixabay.binoculars-1209011_640.vision.Ralene BurkeFor the past several months, I have been preparing for my current book release and there are days I don’t know if I’m a marketer or a writer. I spend more time redesigning my website, answering emails and writing blog posts than I do writing stories. Honestly, there are days I walk into my office space and feel overwhelmed and want to quit. Kind of sort of, but not really. I know that is not an option.

The Bible says without vision the people perish. Right now, my writing is in danger of perishing if I don’t reconnect with my writing vision and adjust my choices accordingly. I have found the following action steps to be helpful in this process.

Go back to the beginning. Remind myself why I’m writing in the first place. Visit that place of inspiration in my heart. Wake up the joy in writing story. What worked or didn’t work as I split by time between writing and marketing. Then make room in my life for what brings me joy about writing. Let some of the other stuff go and breathe.

Clearly define success for myself. Comparison is a dangerous trap. It is far too easy to be jealous of another author’s success and waste emotional energy bemoaning my lack of success.  What works for another author may not even work for my audience. Instead, I need to carefully examine where I want to be in 1, 5, or more years given my particular heart for writing.

Set clear and sustainable goals that are not pie in the sky goals, but realistic, reachable goals that won’t burn me out. Then once I have well defined goals in place, handle each day’s goal on that day. If I want to reach 1000, it starts with the one I reach today. When I worry about tomorrow, I miss out on enjoying the NOW.

Take the first step. Inaction will only frustrate me, stealing my joy of writing.

Focus on where I am going. Once I start moving, wherever I look is the direction I will go. If I use a compass to arrive at a destination, one degree off over long distance will take me far off course. The goals I set are my path and if I want to stay on that path, I need to keep my eyes on where I am heading.

Give myself grace for when I mess up. I will veer off course from time to time whether by life interrupting or my own reluctance to keep my eyes focused ahead. If I wallow in regret, I give away part of my joy.

Taking these steps will help ensure I don’t lose my joy in writing even if I occasionally lose my way.

What steps have you taken to reconnect with your vision for this writing life?

 

pub pic 2016 tempAuthor Bio:

Angela D. Meyer, author of The Applewood Hill Series, lives in NE with her husband of 25 years and their high school daughter. Their son serves our country in the Marines. Angela enjoys hanging out with her family, reading, connecting with friends and encouraging women to grow in their faith. One of her dream spots to vacation is next to the ocean and someday she wants to ride in a hot air balloon.

 

Connect with Angela:

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Coming Soon:

Cover reveal of Where Healing Starts Angela’s new release.

Pre-order special for Where Healing Starts: At the time of your purchase, receive a free download of Where Hope Starts, book 1 in the Applewood Hill series.

Sign up for Angela’s Newsletter so you don’t miss these announcements.

 

Coming Soon.temp book coverWhere Healing Starts

Release date: September 22, 2016

 

Joanna, full of bitterness over the past, can no longer ignore the growing storm inside her and is bent on self-destruction as she seeks to ease her pain. But the refuge she seeks is always out of her reach.

 

Her brother Blake must choose between what has always been safe and what he has always wanted. One mistake after another leads him down a dangerous path.

 

The one for all, all for one sibling bond can’t help them now. They are both determined to hang onto their anger, never forgetting. Never forgiving. They see no reason to trust God.

 

After so many years of turmoil, will the Hannigan siblings find refuge in the God who loves them? Or will they get lost along the way?