Friday, November 25, 2016

Black Friday Book Deals!


It’s that time of year. The time for buying presents, making wish lists, and planning New Year’s Resolutions. If any of those activities involve books for you, Indie Christian Authors has a perfect event for you.
From Nov 25 (that’s today!) through Nov 28th, more than 70 independent Christian books are on sale. You can find free shipping$0.99 ebookspackage deals, and more! And if your budget is depleted from Christmas shopping, they’ve got you covered with some freebies!
Think 70 books is overwhelming? Narrow it down and find the perfect books for you or someone on your Christmas list by using this quiz to generate a customized book list.
What awesome reads of 2016 are you grateful for? What books are you looking forward to reading in 2017?
A note on the Ebooks Only page. All books are listed as "Sold Out." This only refers to paperback copies of these titles. Please click onto the product pages to find descriptions and links to discounted or free ebooks. Also, some of the authors this year chose to not sell their paperbacks directly through the site. Those books are also marked "Sold Out" but if you click them open, you'll find a link to the site where they are on sale and a discount code for you to use at check out.
Acknowledgements: Thanks to Leah E. Good and Kendra E. Ardnek for their work organizing this sale, and Hannah Mills for her fantastic design work on the website graphics. Hannah can be contacted at hmills(at)omorecollege(dot)edu for more information about her design services.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Beautiful Books: Queen Beauty and the Beasts

1. What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?
In late August/early September 2014, K-pop band Super Junior released a trailer for two new music videos: 'This is Love' and 'Evanesce', and then a few weeks later the music videos themselves dropped.  I watched the trailer three times the day it came out and it implanted the idea fully grown and armored in my brain... no wait, that's myth not fairy tales.  Well anyway.  In sprang the idea more or less fully formed, along with the theme message of Owl City's song 'Wolf Bite'.  And I've sat on the idea for two years now until this was finally the year to write it.

2. Describe what your novel is about!
Though too poor to afford a teacher, Belleza still dreams of becoming a shining star under gleaming lights. When the masked lead singer of a popular band offers to tutor her, she eagerly accepts, too caught in the spell of his voice and her dream to heed the warnings of those who tell her he's dangerous; not even her childhood playmate, now an intense, popular singer himself.

A rash choice of her father's shatters her budding happiness, and she sacrifices herself for him, becoming an inmate of the Mansion of the Beasts. Amid the turmoil of preparing for her first concert, a web of brooding secrets from every corner of her new home threatens to choke her as a bizarre curse takes shape before her eyes, terrifying her with its reality in a world where it shouldn't be possible. 

Torn between brilliant, passionate light and fiery, alluring darkness, impelled to find the truth in a sea of masks, held captive by her own code of duty... if Belleza does not make a choice, she'll doom not only her life, but her soul.

Beauty and the Beast meets Phantom of the Opera under glittering music stage lights in this tale of love and sacrifice vs. lust and selfishness.

3. What is your book's aesthetic?  Use words or photos or whatever you like!
Rooms silent because no one has laughed in them for years, teal, snarling cats, black, brightly lit stages, screaming fans, dark red, morose, tiny gleam of hope, dark purple, blood red roses, lightning, midnight, rain, gray.

4. Introduce us to each of your characters!
There are too many to introduce them all but the main characters, in a single word, are:





5. How do you prepare to write?  (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?)
For this book I didn't have to do a lot of research.  I already know the k-pop world from 3+ years of listening to kpop and reading news articles extensively and I've loved Beauty and the Beast for most of my life and know the story well.
I did read Phantom of the Opera and re-read several different incarnations of Beauty and the Beast, including Cupid and Psyche.

6. What are you most looking forward to about this novel?
Retelling a fairy tale I've loved since I was 3 years old with some new twists and setting it in a place and an industry close to my heart.

7. List 3 things about your novel's setting.
Old mansion
Rose garden
World stage

8. What's your character's goal and who (or what) stands in the way?
Saving her father from further disgrace.  There's a lot standing in her way.

9. How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?
I... can't say anything about that.  Spoilers, sweetie.

10. What are your book's themes?  How do you want readers to feel when the story is over?
Love.  Hope.  The dangers of selfishness and not learning or practicing self-denial.  I can't really say how I'll want them to feel until I'm done writing it.

ALSO, I'm opening up this book for beta this year, so if you'd like to read it while I write it, leave me a separate comment with your email address and I won't publish it.


Thursday, August 4, 2016

Lady Dragon, Tela Du Cover Reveal

Hey everyone!  I'm popping out of oblivion to take part in a cover reveal for my friend Kendra's upcoming book Lady Dragon, Tela Du; the second book in the Rizkaland Legends series.  Book One, Water Princess, Fire Prince, is an excellent fantasy novel and I recommend both it and Lady Dragon, Tela Du.  (Yes, I am a beta reader.  Be jealous. :D)

Amber, the Lady Dragon, has been promised a fifty-year reign over Rizkaland and nothing can stop her from claiming it. But when you've lived six thousand years, fifty is such a pitiful number. Only one person can keep her from making this reign permanent - the Tela Du, a girl who shall share Amber's face.

The last thing Petra wants is a magical world interrupting her plans for a normal life, let alone an ultimate battle against the Lady Dragon with only one prophesied survivor. She has her childhood best friend, Reuben, at her side, but she's not sure if he's more of a help or a hindrance right now. Though she'd much prefer to just return home and forget about this whole crazy affair, things change when she discovers that the world has surprising connections to her own family - including her sister who disappeared without a trace two years before. Still, Rizkaland can't possibly expect her to risk her very life, can it?

Kendra E. Ardnek is a homeschool graduate who picked up a pen at an early age and never put it down. The eldest of four, she makes her home in the Piney Woods of East Texas with her parents, younger siblings, giant herd of giraffes, and honor guard of nutcrackers.

Book links:
Preorder Book:

As a special offer, the first Rizkaland book - Water Princess, Fire Prince - is free on Kindle today:

Connect with Kendra:
Official Website:

Cover Design Credit: Benjamin Ingalls -

For fun, take a look at one of the visual inspirations for Petra, the FMC of Lady Dragon, Tela Du.

Kendra says: Petra’s mother grew up in England, so Petra has some very British tendencies. Such as drinking tea. The ignoring people, though, is just Petra.

Are you ready for the cover?

Keep an eye out for the book this fall!

Monday, July 25, 2016

I've Put This Off For Far Too Long....

I've been reading Fellowship of the Ring aloud to my siblings and have all the quotes from both book and movie fresh in my head. :D

With a title like that I've probably got all of you searching through your heads for some reason as to why I'd write that.  I regret to announce that...

I am moving to South Korea and therefore am saying goodbye to blogging.

No, not really.  If I were, I sure as blazes wouldn't be regretting it, and I would most definitely blog about it... rendering unnecessary the real announcement.

I am taking an official semi-break from blogging and some other online activities.

It's been a looong time in coming.  I haven't posted regularly since early last year sometime or even before that.  I keep trying to, keep meaning to, and it hasn't been working.  I've been tagged by people (Carolyn most recently) and haven't yet done the tags.  I have a zillion drafts sitting in my blogger draftbox.  I have literal lists of topics I keep wanting to post about.

My mother has been telling me for YEARS that I need to take a break and I refused to listen.  More than once this spring and summer, she's repeated that.  When my MuseTwin and I were discussing stress recently, I suggested that what she needed was an official semi-hiatus from many online activities.  She agreed and immediately implemented it.  For three days I fought the idea that I also needed one, and then finally, in another discussion between us, she (figuratively) grabbed me by the shoulders and insisted I needed to take one also.  I finally capitulated.  (FYI: if you want to be a super stubborn person your whole life who wins almost every single battle ever, don't get an awesome soul sister and don't have a mom who knows you very well.  Especially not a soul sister who can threaten as well as you can... or a mom whose 'I told you so' look is as fiendish as your own.)

All of that to say that no, I'm not disappearing from blogging- stars, no.  I'd miss you all too much.  I'll still post now and then, but for now, I need to set the official seal on taking a break and restoring some energy and fun to my spirit.  I'll also be less active on Facebook, and other online areas.  I don't know for how long, but it won't drag on for months and months, I can assure you of that.  I'll still be /around/- reading blogs, commenting here and there, emailing, FB messaging... but I won't be forcing myself to do online things on days when I just want to write or go do something else.

I wish each and every one of you a happy, blessed summer, and look forward to seeing you more when I return.  Thank you for staying with me this long.

Until our next meeting....

Friday, July 22, 2016

Cover Reveal ~ The Rose and the Balloon

Many months ago, one of my dearest blogging friends emailed me to say she'd finished the short story retelling of Beauty and the Beast that she was writing and did I want to beta read it?  I immediately said yes and pounced on it when it appeared in my inbox.  I laughed my way through it and clapped at the end.  Now, Kiri is publishing that story and today, I'm delighted to reveal the cover!

In a kingdom where fauna and flora are held in higher esteem than breakfast, Dmitri is a prince who yearns for change and plans it in a single daring act that will alter his life forever. However, when his demented mother accidentally causes the destruction of a prized garden of roses, Dmitri is horrified when she proposes his hand in marriage to make up for it. Not only will a wife hamper his glorious plans, he doesn't even want one.

Janelle has spent her whole life on her father's rose farm, tending the roses and staying simple. But she really yearns for something greater than the flower beds. But now there's a wrench thrown in the works – the crazy Queen Maeva wants her to marry the prince, and all for ruining her father's beloved roses.

This is Beauty and the Beast with a twist like you've never seen it before.

The Author:
Kirsten Fichter is a twenty-something Christian writer who is trying to find the balance between being one of six kids, a church pianist, a college student, a movie buff, a disaster in the kitchen, and a writing INFP. If you know what the secret is to balancing all of that, she’d be grateful to hear from you. Otherwise, don’t contact her unless you want to send her homemade gingerbread. Or a new piano book. Or an autographed Charles Dickens novel. In the meantime, she’ll be somewhere under a maple tree – trying very hard to finish the seventeen and half other stories she unwisely started all at once.

Connect with Kirsten:
RatB on Goodreads
RatB on Pinterest


Thursday, July 14, 2016

Green: Envy or Healthy Jealousy?

'Healthy jealousy?' you ask.  'Oh stars, Melody's off her rocker.'  Ehehe, maybe and maybe not.

Apropos of using spare moments in the last several weeks to analyze the various friendships I have and how they all fit together- like different colors in an embroidery tapestry- I've been doing a lot of thinking on the different kinds of love that exist, the different kinds of friendship, and on jealousy.  As usual, when I finally came to some conclusions late last night (showers are wonderful places for helping one think) I bounced the thoughts off my soul sister, the final step in my thinking.  Bouncing thoughts off of her clarifies them for me.

The New Oxford American Dictionary defines 'jealous' as:
1) 'feeling or showing envy of someone or of their achievements and advantages'
2) 'feeling or showing suspicion of someone's unfaithfulness in a relationship'
3) 'fiercely protective or vigilant of one's rights or possessions'
4) '(of God) demanding faithfulness and exclusive worship'

We're taught that jealousy is a bad thing.  In the context of the first meaning above, it is.  Being jealous of someone's achievements or their skill or their personality is understandable, but frustratingly silly at times because God made each of us different.  Sometimes it seems like one person has better talents or is more likable than you are, but your focus is in the wrong place if you think that makes you less than them.  Instead of wishing you had someone else's friends or their talents or skills or their advantages, take a long, hard, HONEST look at who you are and what you do have and try to understand how you fit in the world and God's plan.

With the the second and third meanings above, the prevailing belief in many Christian circles seems to be that jealousy is an evil thing that poisons relationships and that if you feel it, you're giving in to Satan's evil influences and you're being weak and silly and you need to do something about that.

But.  God says more than once throughout the Old Testament that he is a jealous God (see meaning #4).  That if His people turn away, He won't strive with them forever and will at some point punish them because He won't tolerate other loves in their spiritual heart.

A lot of people (including me at one point) assume that jealousy in human relationships exists as a result of sin in the world.  But we're made in God's image, are we not?  We are created to have certain kinds of relationships that are exclusive.  The 'eros' love- what we in the Western cultures call 'romantic' love- is the foremost example of this.  We are created to only have one romantic love at a time.  (No, people, I don't subscribe to the 'polyamory is actually fine and possible' belief.) 

It's actually natural and right and /in His image/ that IF there is suspicion that your romantic partner is wandering in their love to you, there be jealousy.  Thinking that there might be unfaithfulness is you being protective of your rights in that relationship.  It's not clingy or needy to notice that something might be wrong.

But sin enters in where we're all fallible humans.  We make mistakes.  Sometimes we'll think someone is wandering in their love and they aren't.  But we won't know that if it's not discussed.  The only surefire cures for jealousy are 100% honesty and then faith in the other person.  'Hey, wife, it feels like you're spending an awful lot of time with him.  Can we talk about this?  Can we spend more time together?'  'Hey, husband, I know you and she are friends from way back but that familiarity with her, that's making me uncomfortable.'

Sometimes, it really is an issue that needs to be changed and sometimes, after it's been discussed, you figure out it's not really an issue after all, but either way, it requires ABSOLUTE HONESTY.  And then having faith in the other person that when they say 'I really do love you more than anyone else in the world' and then DEMONSTRATE IT, that they mean it.  (And to clarify, yes, there are a lot of people who have a difficult time balancing emotions with reason or faith and belief in their partner, and hence do become ridiculously jealous and needy and clingy.  Also, there are plenty of people who say they love you but don't back it up with actions and yes, that's also a problem.)

In friendships, the issues become at once both simpler and more complicated.  We are not created to exclusively have one 'phileo' love- what we in Western cultures know as 'platonic love'.  We were created to spread that around.  Because of the way human personalities interact and intersect, people usually have 'levels' of friends.  Some people only have one friend period (I feel sorry for them).   Some have one best friend, others have five best friends.  Beyond those, they have close friends, then good friends, then friends, etc.  Friendships are not supposed to occupy the exact same place in our hearts that romantic relationships do.  They have their own place and yet they are no less important, and can be almost as deep as the relationship with your spouse.  But, although each of those phileo loves is unique, it's common for jealousy to exist in friendships, and it's not always a bad thing.

Firstly, it means that the friendship means enough to one or both of the participants for one of them to feel protective of their place in the other person's life or of the other person's place in their life.  Secondly, it means that they're observant enough to have noticed a change in the relationship and to feel concern over it.  As with romance, there is one way to handle it if you even want to try to fix it.  100% honesty.  'Hey, A, we don't spend as much time together as we used to, can we change that?'  "Hey, B, I feel like you're not talking to me as much about the important things in your life; why not?'

'Well, all this is fine and good', you say, 'but what about clinginess in either friendships or romantic relationships?  People do get awfully clingy sometimes.  Jealous girlfriend/boyfriend is a cliche for a reason.'
Yes, they do.  But.  Healthy jealousy is often mistaken for clinginess.  There is a difference and sometimes it's very hard to tell where the line is.  The New Oxford American dictionary defines clinginess in regards to relationships as: 'overly dependent on someone emotionally'.

Clinginess isn't saying 'hey, there is something unsatisfactorily different about our relationship now, is there something we can do about that?'- whether you're talking to your girlfriend, husband or friend.  Clinginess is calling someone a dozen times a day because you feel insecure about your relationship unless you are talking to them almost incessantly.  It's pitching fits about every little thing that your friend does without you.  It's constantly guilt tripping people with 'I thought we were friends; don't you like me anymore?'  It's freaking out when someone doesn't reply to your FB message within an hour.

In conclusion, sometimes jealousy isn't the green of envy; it's the green of an alive relationship realizing there might be something wrong that needs to be fixed, some dead growth to be pruned to keep the relationship healthy and growing.  100% honesty is not an absolute fix- sometimes it won't work for a variety of reasons- but it's the best starting point you can have.

May you have happy, healthy, honest relationships.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Death More Than Usual; Or, Random Mirrody Conversations #2

[For #1, see this post.]

One of my favorite parts of every day is chatting with my best friend, MuseTwin, and soulsister Mirriam.  Our conversations zigzag from history ('The Ptolemies made the Lannisters look normal') to philosophy ('If people won't learn, they deserve to be ruled by those who do learn') to every other subject under the sun.  She's always up for whatever bizarre topic I throw at her and many and varied are the discussions which make up the mosaic of our friendship.  A few nights ago I came online after supper and a conversation ensued which had each of us laughing harder than we have in a while.  I present the conversation here for your amusement, with a few minor rearrangements made for better reading flow.

Me: Just finished dinner, which was a hilarious meal.

Mirriam: Why was dinner hilarious??
Me: Because it consisted of (among other things) beginning a discussion on hanging vs burning alive as the least desirable method of death with my 12-year-old brother- which was quickly shut down by Erudessa (my sister) because APPARENTLY some people don't like to discuss that kind of thing over dinner. Go figure.


Me: RIGHT? So boring.

Mirriam: Also, I've thought about it multiple times and I would much rather be hung, thank you.

Me: I'd rather be hung, too. There is only type of death that I find more gruesome than hanging and it's being burned alive.  But if I get to choose the way I go, it's poison or firing squad.

Mirriam: SEE FOR ME HANGING IS LIKE. A GOOD WAY TO GO. HANGING IS A+ compared to things like burning alive or the iron maiden or skinned alive or dismembered by four horses etc.

Me: Well, when you put it like that, it is definitely an attractive option.

Mirriam: That's my thought.  
I mean, poison + firing squad are definitely the best, but hanging is a pretty decent way to go
.  comparatively.
  Particularly if your neck snaps. xD

Me: Exactly. The main reason I find hanging rather distasteful, as far as manners of expiration go, is because I dislike the struggle if the neck does not snap.

Mirriam: True; I'd rather not slowly suffocate while my insides burst, /but/ I would rather suffocate than, say, be crucified. I mean honestly I've thought about this quite a lot and hanging is in the second-best death category, after firing squad or poison.

Me: I've thought about it, too, though not usually including more medieval forms of death. But in light of those supposedly less 'civilized' kinds of death, I would place hanging in third best, I think. Second best would be having my throat cut.

Mirriam: How did we get onto this subject again?

Me: Because it's JuNo and our thoughts run to death more than usual.

Mirriam: TRUE.  I would say it depends on where the throat is cut, because it can be either immediate and painless, or you can drown in your own blood; soooooooo it would all depend. xD

Me:  Exactly. Depending on WHERE it was cut, it would be my second favorite death. Though hanging is certainly looking more attractive by the minute.

Mirriam: I'm trying to bring hanging back as a method of swift justice XD

Me: There is definitely something poetic about a rope noose, or a necktie party.  My stomach is very full and is starting to slightly ache with how hard I'm laughing.

Mirriam: I'm sorry I can't help you I'm laughing too xDDDD


Mirriam: Here I was like 'ah yes all showered, all clean, got coffee, time to settle down and do a little quiet writing'.

Me: And then I burst onto the stage.


Me: Resplendent in bloody philosophical glory.

Mirriam: This conversation is Ferdinand + Isabella approved.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Space Kitties 2 Cover Reveal, Giveaway and Interview with E. Kaiser

Several months ago, a friend posted on FB asking for someone to fill in for a judge who'd had to drop out of an anthology contest.  I volunteered and that's how I came on board the Space Kitties 2: Searching the Cosmos team.  I enjoyed reading the submissions, scoring the entries and following along with the rest of the process.  Today, I'm thrilled to introduce you to the finished anthology!  My Standard Operating Procedure still holds - you have to scroll through the whole post to see the cover at the end. :)

Throughout the week, each of the seven authors will be featured on a blog.  If you comment on any of the blog tour posts, your name will be added to a drawing for an ebook copy of Space Kitties 2.  (If you win the Facebook party giveaway, you are not eligible for the blog tour giveaway.)

June 4 - Facebook party 1:00 - 6:00P.M. Central Time
~ Tour kickoff and cover reveal at E. Kaiser Writes A Blog
~ Interview with E Kaiser at The Splendor Falls
June 5 - Interview with Jamie Mortensen at Lesa McKee
June 6 - Interview with Lesa McKee at Bookworm Reading
~ FB giveaway winner announced
June 7 - Interview with Rachel Harris at Bookish Orchestrations
June 8 - Interview with Faith Blum at Rachel Rossano's Words
June 9 - Interview with H.L. Burke at Jessica Greyson
June 10 - Interview with Aletha Bakke at H.L. Burke, Author
June 11 - blog giveaway winner announced and tour wrap-up at E. Kaiser Writes A Blog

Here today for an interview is Space Kitties contest mastermind, editor and author E. Kaiser Writes.,1,213x249/ 
 E. Kaiser Writes credits her nearly nomadic childhood for the vast reach of her fictional worlds; she has lived (and gotten to known the locals) in the Rocky Mtns, the Smoky Mtns, the plains, the deep forest, the searing Texas summer and frozen Minnesota north.

She wears many hats: writer and editor of ad copy, web copy, office correspondence & fiction; a cowgirl, animal trainer, seamstress, jeweler, artist and... authoress!

Welcome to The Splendor Falls, E!

What is the synopsis of your Space Kitties tale?
Well, when an A.S.P. ship (Air & Space Patrol) unwittingly gets involved with a monopod stealing Company princess, someone must go down onto a young world and get the runaway golden kitty back. Two somebodies get picked... and it's too bad that the young lieutenant and the Scotch Terrier have been quarreling thus far.

What inspired you to write it?
I wanted to play with some classic lines from pop-sci-fi, so I built the story to accommodate a subverted usage of some of science fictions most popular catch phrases. It really came to life, and I think many people won't even notice the way I snuck the lines in amongst the action of the plot.
[My favorite was the 'Beam up, Scotty'.]
Oh, well.

How long did it take you to write?
I probably came back to it over the course of a month or two. It's only 10k words, so it's not that big of a deal. I write in spurts, so the first 10k of anything is usually pretty easy to get... putting the finalization on it is always the hardest part!

Was there any music you liked to listen to while you wrote?
I am a "silence is golden" type of writer. I like to "hear" the special effects in my mind while they're playing out, so too much auditory stimulation is actually a terribly frustrating thing.

What was your reaction when you found out that your story had been selected for the anthology?
I was thrilled! Of course I was... as the main host editor, I have the lovely job of accepting the submissions, stripping them of all identifying info, and then compiling them into documents for the judges to assess "blind." I put my stripped story in amongst the rest and it had every chance of "getting the gate" like any other! As it was, reading the judges scores on the tales was twice as suspenseful because they had no idea they were talking about my tale in there!

As it was, I really enjoyed the experience, because I felt the judges comments were completely truthful since they didn't know. Therefore the positive opinions were that much more valuable!

Are you a plotter or a panster?
Definitely a panster. I start with a premise, a general idea of a theme, and generally a compelling character. Then I see where it goes.

What elements does your ideal story contain?
Oh, I'd say a lot of sly humor, some action, and a whole lot of realism being clever. I love to read about clever things that could actually be done in real life. (I share an appreciation with my brother for "true crime" stories of very smart heists, scams, etc. where someone was extremely tricky about something.) Other than that, I love a good turn of phrase and realistic, witty dialog. 

A lot of dialog I read is just so flat, it's terribly boring.

Has there been an author or non-author person who has influenced your writing more than anyone else?
Hmm... as far as person, I guess you could say my Abi-sis is a huge influence because she crits everything I write... though authorly, Tolkien, O. Henry, and Robert Lewis Stevensen are major influencers on my general craft.

Have you written any other books?
Yes, two in the Five Gems series where Fia Brithin gets her dream of a jeweler's apprenticeship, but it includes total removal from her family and childhood home. That leads to dangers and growing, which home-body Fia never really craved!

Second, the Thaw quartet deals with the combined tales of Snow Queen, Snegurken, etc. with a Frozen adaptation that focuses on self growth and maturity... giving a cast of characters a wide stage to play on as they find their way toward internal balance and true happiness. This gave rise to the Fairytale Collection, which will include over 20 books and many classic tales retold in the world of Demargen and it's 13 fascinating princes.

What stories can we expect from you in the future?
Well, clearly, the 20 upcoming Fairytale Collection, for one thing! We're in the final stages of Beaded Slipper, which has a lot more action and mystery and surprise reveals than most people expect out of a Cinderella retelling... but what can you expect when Elinor only goes to the ball to steal sensitive documents?

King's Ward, #3 in the Five Gems books, has Fia once more being uprooted and immersed into a whole new place, and dangers come skulking pretty soon there as well. Readers of Fia's first two books are going to LOVE the villain of this piece, and the stakes get very high and very personal for our home-body heroine as she adapts to letting go of "what should have been" and deal directly with what needs done, now!

And of course there will be a Space Kitties 3; The Ones They Left Behind anthology, (submissions opening now!) for a planned release 2017.  [See below.]

We're also wanting to include our fantasy writer friends, so we're planning a fantasy kitties up next, tentatively titled "Cats in Black Boots".  (I love that title!!! And of course I'll be doing the cover art, so that is just full of delicious possibilities!!! Can't wait!)

After all of this? Wow, who can say? I do have several historical novels which may come into play at some time, but that's all too far away to lay any solid plans.

Thanks for having me! It's been fun talking books with you all!!

Aaaaand now.  Are you all ready to see the pretty cover?

Buy Space Kitties 2 on Amazon
Add Space Kitties 2 to your Goodreads lists

Submissions are now open for the Space Kitties 3 Anthology: The Ones Left Behind.  Visit this page for all the information you need!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Writing: Humility vs Blindness

A few days ago, my MuseTwin Mirriam and I were having a conversation about a rather well known author in the world of Christian fantasy- someone whom I have admired and whose skill level I've aspired to reach some distant day.  In the course of the conversation, Mirriam said I wrote better than this author does.  Now, Mirriam is not usually someone whose evaluations are influenced by her love for a friend.  I said I was most assuredly NOT a better writer than this author and Mirriam outright disagreed with me.  'No, you're the better writer.'

Something occurred and we moved on to a different topic for a few minutes but it bothered me so deeply that I brought it up again a little while later.  Because A) if Mirriam was right, then my evaluation of this author's work was flawed.  B) if she was right, then my evaluation of my own work wasn't just low- it was bottom layer of the underworld, insanely, ridiculously, so far out of sight that it might as well be the Planet Pluto low.  Mirriam's reply was: Yes, in her opinion, to A (keeping in mind that it had been 3 years since I had last read this authors work and my evaluations have undergone many changes since then) and absolutely yes to B, but more B than A.  I sat there processing this for a few minutes.  She went on to say that she considered the aforementioned author to be better than average but that I was still better.  She finished by saying was a difference between humility and ignorance concerning one's own work. 

For two days it's something to which I've given a lot of thought.  I knew my estimate of my own writing was low.  I just didn't think it was that low.  Last night I discussed it with another best friend and she agreed with Mirriam's analysis.  This morning, I mentioned it to my mother.  She had read a little bit of the author in question three years ago when I was reading the book, and she agreed that right off the bat, there was at least one thing she thought I did better than this author.  My mother has different literary preferences than I do, but she's almost as picky as I am about most literary elements and is not hesitant to tell me when I need to improve.

One of my pet peeves is when I come across any author with an over-inflated ego that doesn't match the quality of their work.  I've seen it in traditional authors (sorry, Cassie Clare fans) but the last year or so, I've increasingly come up against it in self published or indie authors as well young authors who have yet to be published.  For example, I recently read a book in a fantasy sub-genre.  Now, anyone who knows me knows that I ADORE fantasy in almost every form.  This particular sub-genre is one of my favorites.  This book, written by an indie author, made me want to stop reading it three chapters in and it only grew worse from there.  It was overflowing with cliches, historically inaccurate (a problem for historical fantasy), illogical, shallow and confusing.  In my message to the author, I gently pointed some of these things out.  The author replied, 'Not everyone likes the same kind of books.', implying that I had disliked the book because I didn't like that genre.  In return, I pointed out that in fact, I loved that genre; it was specific issues in that book that made me dislike it.  Not to any surprise, I haven't heard back from that author.  This is only one of several times in the last 3 months along that I've come up against this or similar arrogant seeming behaviors.

Self confidence in one's work is necessary.  But there is a line between self confidence in the fact that you've written something well and arrogance that you're a good writer no matter what anyone else says and that if someone criticizes you, they don't understand you.  There is a standard of quality in writing, and if you don't pass muster, then you need to strive to improve, not brush it off.

As someone who is a rational thinker and often aloof, I've been accused of arrogance before.  Quite frequently.  Often unfairly.  Several times, it's nearly ruined a relationship.  It's made me hyper sensitive to coming across to people as arrogant or supercilious or pretentious in the way I communicate facts or knowledge.  And it's deeply affected my evaluation of my own writing.  As much as it annoys me in others, I  promised myself I must never never become arrogant about my writing.  But in reaction to the arrogance that has annoyed me, and in determining not to become the same way, I went too far in the other direction.  I landed in a place where I can't honestly tell anymore whether what I've written is decent, good, or stinks.  There's a balance line to walk and I missed it completely.  And for an aspiring author, that's a bad thing.  It's incredibly hampering and I realized it's what's been holding me back from moving forward with publishing plans.

I'm blessed to have best friends and a mother who keep me honest.  I'm going to be spending a few months climbing out of the underworld.  It won't be easy and it will take a while, but it's vital for any of us who want to properly walk the path of authorship.

How many of you have dealt with crippling lack of self confidence in regards to your own writing?  Any tips in overcoming it?

(And yes, I'm going back to re-read said Christian author's work and see if my evaluation changes.)

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Beautiful People May 2016 ~ Verena and Liare

It's time for Beautiful People again!  I'm excited to dust off this story for JuNo.  I probably won't finish the book in another 50,000 words but hopefully I'll come within sight of the finish line.  

 I know that, according to the rules made up by some mythical someone whose opinion supposedly matters, authors aren't supposed to have favorites, but I never was good at following rules made up by people I don't know (or following rules at all, come to think of it).  Therefore, these two are definitely on my list of favorite characters to write.

Verena Silvesti

How often do they smile?  Would they smile at a stranger?
She hardly ever smiles.  She'll make this sideways uptilt of her lips, but smiles are as rare as blue moons.   She might nod to a stranger but not really smile, no.

What is the cruelest thing they've ever been told?  And what was their reaction?
That her aunt wouldn't take her in because she 'couldn't handle her ridiculous personality'.  She reacted by sealing herself off to love and never thinking kindly of her aunt or cousins again.

What is the kindest thing they've ever been told?  And what was their reaction?
Liare told her that he likes being around her because she's an unusual person who makes life fun.  She doesn't believe he means it.

What is one strong memory that has stuck with your character from childhood?  Why is it so powerful and lasting?
The day she was pulled out of class and told that her father had died in the bombing attack they had just seen on television.  I would imagine that the reasons it's powerful and lasting are now self-explanatory.

What book (a real actual published book!) do you think your character would benefit from reading?
Benefit from?  Probably something to do with loving your enemies or at least, not plotting revenge on them.  A book she's read a lot is Shakespeare's Julius Caesar.

Have they ever been seriously injured?  How severely?  How did they react?
She dislocated her shoulder once but didn't realize it had been dislocated until it was put back in place.  She gritted her teeth and carried on through the pain, refusing to ask for special help or treatment.

Do they like and get along with their neighbours?
Like- no.  Get along with- eh, more or less yes.  She is civil and polite but she doesn't really like people so she ignores them the rest of the time.

On a scale from 1 to 10 (1 being easy and 10 being difficult) how easy are they to get along with?
On the surface, maybe an 8.  She's polite but not very approachable.  Underneath, a solid 10.

If they could travel anywhere in the world, where would they go?
The galactic capital of Ceruntu.  The planet is one giant city and races and peoples from all over the galaxy gather there.  As for a place on Earth... probably Cairo.

Who was the last person they held hands with?
Her older foster brother Won Jae a few years ago. 


How often do they smile?  Would they smile at a stranger?
His default expression is a smile.  He smiles at everyone he comes across- friend, foe or stranger.

What is the cruelest thing they've ever been told?  And what was their reaction?
That he knew nothing of real pain or grief.  He took it with a strained smile, and managed to not stagger back at the emotional punch in the gut.

What is the kindest thing they've ever been told?  And what was their reaction?
That he's a ray of sunshine that never dims.  He blushed and thanked the person.

What is one strong memory that has stuck with your character from childhood?  Why is it so powerful and lasting?
His father hugging the man who had been the cause of his mother's death and saying, 'I forgive you.'  Liare couldn't forgive the man for years and didn't understand how his father could.

What book (a real actual published book!) do you think your character would benefit from reading?
Machiavelli's The Prince.  Verena will persuade him to read it at some point.

Have they ever been seriously injured?  How severely?  How did they react?
Not really.  The most he was ever injured was bruising after boxing fights with fellow members in his father's dance troupe, and even then it wasn't too serious because they didn't want their star dancers messed up.

Do they like and get along with their neighbours?
He's a very friendly person who's always willing to help.  He's quite popular among people and likes almost everyone.

On a scale from 1 to 10 (1 being easy and 10 being difficult) how easy are they to get along with?
He's a 1.

If they could travel anywhere in the world, where would they go?
A planet in the Outer Fringe of the galaxy.  He likes adventure and exploring.

Who was the last person they held hands with?
A random old lady he helped to cross a street.