Friday, December 27, 2013

"Tis More Blessed Giveaway #4

Many thanks to:
awesome giveaway host,
intrepid author,
short story writer,
You are a blessing!
If you've won something from these giveaways, please take a moment to thank Milo! If you've given something away, and felt blessed by these giveaways, please thank Milo!
Previous week's winners for Champion in the Darkness have been: Stephen Ramey, Karen Lange, and Lori Joyce Parker. I hope all of you enjoy the book!
This week, I'm going to do something a little different.
Dragonfold and Other Adventures is up for free on Kindle Select Thursday and Friday. Instead of entering into a giveaway, I invite everyone to go and get a free kindle download. You are all winners!!!
Azami has a gift with origami. Will she master it in time to save herself from bondage? Find out in "Dragonfold."
Joanne lost more than her honor in the war, she lost her will to live. When bandits attack her homestead, will she stand or fall in "Enough to Do?"
And just who is Captain Wrath under that itchy, false wig Find out more in “The Identity of Captain Wrath.”
DRAGONFOLD AND OTHER ADVENTURES includes eleven imaginative stories and six poems. Some of these adventures have been previously published, and others are waiting to be discovered for the first time.
Happy New Year!!!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

50 States of Pray

Many thanks to Mark Koopmans for hosting this wonderful blog fest! For more details, visit Mark - he's sure to put a smile on your face and inspire you.

This last year has been packed full of life, with first and second book publications, a happy and busy family, work to do, and sadly, two pooches who went to doggie heaven.

My parents, for the first time, realized that they were aging. Some of my friends' parents passed away.

Life seems suddenly too short.

My prayer for the end of 2013 and all of 2014 is this:

 May God expand our moments to the fullest so we may know His joy and peace in all our relationships, and especially in our relationship with Him through his son, Jesus.

Monday, December 16, 2013

'Tis More Blessed, and Celebrating the Small Things a little early

'Tis More Blessed Giveaway continues this week! Check out Milo's page on Friday to find all the prizes! (plus, I'll try to update on Friday)

As with the last few weeks, I'll be giving away a paperback copy of Champion in the Darkness for those who live in the US, and a kindle copy for those who live outside the US. The giveaway ends this week on Friday at midnight.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This is an awesome weekly blog hop hosted by Viklit! It's on Fridays, but I'm celebrating a little early this week . . . hoping to visit around and chat off and on as the week goes by instead of all on Friday. So, please, comment, and I'll visit around - maybe not the same day but within a week. Hope that's ok. :)

This week, I'm celebrating:
1. Seeing Frozen with my family. Wow! With a few unexpected plot twists, some great songs, and a little laughter, Frozen will melt your heart. :)
2. Last Monday of our homeschool co-op until next year! (yes, I have papers to grade and plans to prep, and I love my students, but I'm thankful for the break)
3. Time for writing. If I'm a little slow on the visiting, it's because I'm writing/revising Champion in Flight. It's time to finish the book before January 3rd. (the day before my husband's birthday, two days before a ski clinic day, and three days before going back to school as a co-op teacher)
4. Christmas! Emmanuel!

Again, I'll be around the blogsphere . . . visiting here and there, but this post, the 50 States of Pray, and one more 'Tis More Blessed giveaway will be wrapping up the year for me with a big red bow. :)

Friday, December 13, 2013

1 Word Interview with Milo James Fowler, 'Tis More Blessed Giveaway #2, and Celebrate the Small Things

Please welcome Milo James Fowler, a man on a mission to have 100 short stories and a novel published by his 40th birthday! With over 80 stories published and a novel out at Every Day Novels, he's well on his way to making his dreams come true. Somehow he does all this, teaches full-time, spends time with his family, and find times to sleep. He's truly an amazing and inspiring writer.
1. What's your current favorite word?
2. In one word, what inspires you?
3. What's one word that describes your writing habits?
4. What's one word that you wish you could get rid of in your writing?
5. What's one word that describes your writing desk?
6. Share the best writing advice/tool/quote that helps you. (please limit to one sentence)
"The worst stuff you write is always better than the best stuff you don't." - Anonymous
7. What's your current project?
I'm deep in the revision trenches with my novel Madame Antic's Hotel Grotesque, and I hope to have it subbed within the next couple months.
To know more about Milo, I encourage you to follow these links:

Immaterial Evidence from Musa Publishing


Amazon page



Milo James Fowler 

Website    Facebook
Amazon    Twitter

Thanks for joining me, Milo! Pugnacious is a fun word just to say, and I love that your desk is portable. Mine is too. :)

In addition to being my guest today, Milo is also the creator and host of the 'Tis More Blessed Giveaway!

Every participant on the following list is giving away a book for at least one Friday in December. Check them out!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

And in addition to all that awesomeness, today is Celebrate the Small Things day thanks to Viklit!

This week, I'm celebrating:
1. Getting the Christmas tree up, lit, and decorated.
2. My family is healthy.
3. My daughters are in the Christmas nativity play on Sunday at our church.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

1 Word Interview with Emily Ann Benedict

Today's guest for the 1 Word Interview Challenge was one of my first ever blogging buddies. From her blog, I learned how to blog. From her posts, I learned how to post. She gave me my first award, and I learned how to give awards. She's a small press and indie author and her writing is delightful.  :)

So, without further ado, I give you - Emily Ann Benedict, author of Only Angels are Bulletproof, and two Christmas novellas, The Father Christmas Confessions, and her latest, The Father Christmas Profession.

1 - Current favorite world: Fancy

2 - What inspires me: Art

3 - Describe your writing habits: Crazy

4 - A word to get rid of: That

5 - My writing desk: Mobile

6 - Writing advice: Keep writing, even when you don't want to.

7 - Current project. Christmas

8 - Favorite part of Christmas: Sharing traditions with my loved ones.

To get to know Emily Ann Benedict more, check out her blog, Mystery Writer on a Mission , and her newest novels. I love all three of them, but since it is the season, and they are just so sweet and cozy, I especially recommend her Indie published Father Christmas novellas. They're only 99 cents for Kindle.

 The business of Santa Claus is about to get a new partner.

Felicity never felt like she belonged in the Ogden family, where every man has the power to changes lives between December 1st and 25th. She certainly never thought she would be the right one to train a new Father Christmas, until a mysterious man shows up at her door with all of the family “gifts” but no idea why or how to use them.

She might not want the job, but it is quickly becoming clear that if she doesn’t teach him the art of changing lives fast, lives could be in danger, including her own.

First she just has to convince him there is such a thing as Santa Claus…and that he is one of them.

The Father Christmas Profession

Monday, December 9, 2013

Free Kindle Giveaway of Champion in the Darkness

Just wanted to let everyone know that Champion in the Darkness is free today, and tomorrow on Kindle Select.

And if you can, please review it!
Clara’s ready to become a master swordswoman. When she goes to meet with longtime mentor Dantor, Clara is told she's destined to become the Champion, a fabled hero who arises in a time of need. Confused by this claim, Clara isn't sure she's ready to be a Champion.
Whether Clara is ready or not, the evil Kalidess has wormed her way into Septily's court.
Clara is aided by another mentor, Stelia, whose knowledge of their enemy is both a bane and a blessing. As evil threatens their land, Clara and Stelia must find the strength to overcome the darkness. 
Champion in the Darkness is YA Christian Fantasy, and is the first book in the Champion Trilogy.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Tis more Blessed and Celebrate the Small Things

Milo James Fowler is hosting the 'Tis More Blessed Giveaway for the month of December. It's awesome!
Champion in the Darkness is up for grabs today, along with many others!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Viklist hosts Celebrate the Small Things, and I'm thankful for her continued enthusiasm for celebrations!

This week I'm celebrating:
1. Continuing revisions on Champion in Flight.
2. Reading (even when I should have been doing something else).
3. The beginning of advent. Time for candles and Christmas music. :)
4. IWSG, Dream Destinations, and 'Tis More Blessed.

Dream Destinations Blog Hop

Hosted by Lexa Cain and Julie Flanders, the Dream Destination blog Hop invites us all to take a moment and dream of exotic destinations, and celebrate the latest book releases for Lexa and Julie!

In addition to the celebration fun, there's a giveaway too, with 19 prizes offered! Just visit Lexa and Julie's blogs to sign up for the giveaway!

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Beaches of Hawaii? Slopes of Vail? Cancun, Paris, or Rome?
Where is your Dream Destination?
It's so hard to choose just one place. I love Hawai'i, Paris, London, and the Florida Keys. I love beaches and history, waves and sight-seeing. However, since the advent of the ski season is upon us, I am going to go with Whistler, B.C., Canada.

Skiing and boarding down sculpted slopes with breath-taking vistas at Whistler and Black Comb mountains, my family and I have enjoyed some of the longest ski and boarding runs in the world. It's one of my dream vacations, and it's even better because it's a dream that has come true more than once. My in-laws have generously given all of their children and grand-children stays in Whistler Village, and we love it. Sometimes we've managed to get up to 24 family members skiing and boarding together on the same runs. My brother-in-law with MS, who is unable to move from the neck down, has even been able to enjoy the runs with us in a special ski tour chair (chair on skis with a guide steering it on the back).
Skiing and boarding at Whistler is awesome because there is a huge variety of terrain, from easy to extreme, with snow parks for those who like to do tricks, and natural mini-cliff sides like this one.  

(My husband is waiting to video our daughter's attempt to jump over this mini-cliff - don't worry, they made it more gracefully than I did. I slowed down and just edged and slipped over the face of it.)
And one of the reasons I love skiing and boarding with our whole family is that we all enjoy being with each other on the slopes. We don't have any skier vs. boarder feuds (this actually happens between people), and we are all free to enjoy the mountain to the best of our abilities on whatever equipment we like, even short skis like mine.
(technically, snow blades or snow skates, no poles needed or wanted)
Ok, now I'm really excited to strap those on and head to our local, smaller slopes. :)
Thank you, Lexa and Julie, for this fun fest! And best wishes on your new releases, Ghosts of Aquinnah and Soul Cutter!
What's your dream vacation?
Don't forget to enter the giveaway!!!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

IWSG: Silver Linings (not the playbook)

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Started by no-hyperlink-needed Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh, IWSG has grown from monthly blog hop to website and facebook page! I'm expecting a IWSG app for my phone any day now. Just kidding :)

IWSG has buoyed me up like a life raft in stormy writing waters, and I am thankful for Alex, for all the people who help with the website and facebook page, and all the writers who are willing to give encouragement and bare their insecurities.

Silver Linings

I had a moment's hesitation when I finally sat down to write this post. I had the post idea and the title in my head for a few weeks, and then realized, "oh no, that's the name of a movie I haven't even seen and it's really popular, and people will expect references to the movie, and . . ." I basically had an insecurity meltdown over the post title, and then decided that since I came up with the idea without thinking about the movie, and I still liked the idea, I was going to stick with it.

And that's what this post is about: sticking with it, even when the clouds are a bit dark and insecurities are biting at our heels like giant beady-eyed rats. (sorry to those of you who keep rats as pets, but I'm not fond of them)

My writing life has been haphazard lately. I've been writing in hops and leaps, with some small sprints in the middle, followed by some worry walks and pencil chewing. Why? Because I am terrified that my second novel is "suckier" than the first, and I want it to be "better."

That's my murky cloud.

My silver linings are:

IWSG on facebook. I admit it. I'm a facebook addict on random days. One day, on facebook's IWSG page, I found another author bemoaning the same murky cloud that I'm sitting under: that fear that the second book just isn't measuring up to the first. And I commiserated with her. And then I felt better. The silver lining came from a shared determination to conquer the fear and get back to writing!

Super sweet readers. I have some really sweet readers. This last month, I received two letters from readers who love my books. Some of the students I teach at my homeschool co-op are also some of my readers, and in the last month, I've been asked several times about my sequel. (this is, in part, terrifying, because it isn't finished yet, but mostly it's super sweet and encouraging)

So, if you are under a dark, murky cloud, and have insecurities biting at your heels, I highly encourage you to look for the silver linings. Hang onto them, stick with it, and keep writing!

What are your silver linings?

Friday, November 22, 2013

1 Word Interview with Alex J. Cavanaugh and Celebrate the Small Things

Welcome back to the 1 Word Interview. Today, please welcome author, guitarist and super blogger Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh.  Let's see how he does at the one word challenge:
1. What's your current favorite word?
Diametrically opposed (Sorry, that’s two!)
2. In one word, what inspires you?
3. What's one word that describes your writing habits?

4. What's one word that you wish you could get rid of in your writing?
Felt! (And not the Muppet kind.)
5. What's one word that describes your writing desk?
6. Share the best writing advice/tool/quote that helps you. (please limit to one sentence)
Two words – critique partners!
7. What's your current project?
If I continue writing, I have an outline for a new space opera.
8. What's your favorite part of your latest book, CassaStorm?
There is a scene in the final third of the book involving Byron’s son, Bassan, and someone he encounters in the desert, and I really liked their exchange.
By Alex J Cavanaugh
From the Amazon Best Selling Series!
A storm gathers across the galaxy…
Commanding the Cassan base on Tgren, Byron thought he’d put the days of battle behind him. As a galaxy-wide war encroaches upon the desert planet, Byron’s ideal life is threatened and he’s caught between the Tgrens and the Cassans.
After enemy ships attack the desert planet, Byron discovers another battle within his own family. The declaration of war between all ten races triggers nightmares in his son, threatening to destroy the boy’s mind.
Meanwhile the ancient alien ship is transmitting a code that might signal the end of all life in the galaxy. And the mysterious probe that almost destroyed Tgren twenty years ago could return. As his world begins to crumble, Byron suspects a connection. The storm is about to break, and Byron is caught in the middle…
“Cavanaugh creates such an unforgettable world, and these characters will stay with you long after their story is over.” - Cassie Mae, author of Friday Night Alibi and How to Date a Nerd

"Cavanaugh makes world building on the galactic scale look easy. The stakes affect the entire known universe and yet Cavanaugh makes it intensely personal for our hero. The final installment of this series will break your heart and put it back together." - Charity Bradford, science fantasy author of The Magic Wakes
“With a talent for worldbuilding and a compelling cast of characters, Alex J. Cavanaugh combines high powered space battles and the challenges of family dynamics to provide readers a space opera with heart.”  - Elizabeth S. Craig, author of the Southern Quilting and Myrtle Clover mysteries
$16.95 USA, 6x9 Trade paperback, 268 pages, Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.
Science fiction/adventure and science fiction/space opera
Print ISBN 9781939844002 eBook ISBN 9781939844019
$4.99 EBook available in all formats
Find CassaStorm:
Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design and graphics. He is experienced in technical editing and worked with an adult literacy program for several years. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is the Ninja Captain and founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. The author of the Amazon bestsellers, CassaStar and CassaFire, he lives in the Carolinas with his wife.
Goodreads -

Thanks for joining me for the 1 Word Interview Challenge, Alex! I know what you mean about that awful word "felt" - however, it is slightly better than "was." Love your advice for critique partners - they are invaluable.

I'm loving this weekly hop hosted by Viklit, and I encourage everyone to join in and celebrate the small things - like getting a few sentences in every day, or getting a bit of that laundry pile folded. :)
This week, I'm celebrating:
1. Bike riding in November. I've only been out once or twice a week, but I'm still riding.
2. Thanksgiving is next week!!! I'm compiling a big thankfulness list!
3. Next week, I'm taking the week off blogging - mini-Thanksgiving vacation!
4. IWSG is right around the corner, and I know what I'm posting about. Wait, is that a good thing?
5. Misha's tenacity guest post on Wednesday is awesome! and I'm glad to have Alex here today!


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Guest post on Tenacity in Writing by Misha Gericke

Tenacity in Writing by Misha Gericke

Most non-writers, when they think of writing stories, imagine the process to be this intensely inspiring thing, where the muse gives you one whiff of air and it sustains you to the end, which is more or less three weeks from now.

I blame the media for this. Movies etc. dealing with writers as characters often show them as starving. But never because they’re stuck without having a word to write. Oh no, despite the fact that they are living through intense dramas, often without food, their creativity keeps flowing strong.

Reality deviates from this image quite a lot. I can’t really say much for other writers, but my own experience taught me that writing, while inspiring, isn’t just a matter of dumping a few words on the page.

Well… actually it is, but to sit down every single day (or most days) to dump those pages on the page isn’t easy. Because once the first inspiration fades away, you’re left with nothing but an idea that the story’s good. The only way to get it written is to commit to writing it and to get it done.

You can’t imagine how angry I’ve made people with those words, but it’s true. There’s no glamorous way to be inspired every day. In fact, inspiration, while important in the beginning, is pretty over rater. It’s not inspiration that’ll see you through to the end.

It’s sheer bloody-mindedness.

It’s sitting down even when you’re not feeling particularly inspired, so that you can write a scene that you know needs to be written. And if you’re not sure whether or not it should be in the book, it’s about sitting down and writing that scene anyway.

It’s about forgetting what people think writers should be like and focusing on writing. Don’t get trapped in the image. Create your method. Find what works for you best (because nothing ever works perfectly) and do that until your story’s done.

Tenacity is 90% of a book’s creation. 10% is inspiration.

Once you realize this, you’re in the right mind space to finish that book. Good luck, and keep writing!

Thanks Misha!


Since the death of her parents, Callan Blair has been shunted from one foster family to another, her dangerous secret forcing the move each time. Her latest foster family quickly ships her off to an exclusive boarding school in the Cumbrian countryside. While her foster-brother James makes it his mission to get Callan expelled, a nearby ancient castle holds the secret doorway to another land...

When Callan is forced through the doorway, she finds herself in the magical continent of Tardith, where she’s shocked to learn her schoolmates Gawain and Darrion are respected soldiers in service to the king of Nordaine, one of Tardith's realms. More than that, the two are potential heirs to the Black Knight—Nordaine's crown prince.

But when the Black Knight fails to return from a mysterious trip, the realm teeters on the brink of war. Darrion and Gawain set out to find him, while Callan discovers there is more to her family history than she thought. The elves are claiming she is their princess.

Now with Darrion growing ever more antagonistic and her friendship with Gawain blossoming, Callan must decide whether to stay in Nordaine—where her secret grows ever more threatening—or go to the elves and uncover the truth about her family before war sets the realms afire.


M. Gerrick (AKA Misha Gericke) has basically created stories since before she could write. Many of those stories grew up with her and can be seen in her current projects.

She lives close to Cape Town, with a view over False Bay and Table Mountain.

If you’d like to contact her, feel free to mail her at warofsixcrowns(AT)gmail(DOT)com, Circle her on Google Plus or follow her on Twitter. If you'd like to see her writer-side (beware, it's pretty insane), please feel free to check out her blogYou can also add The Vanished Knight on Goodreads.



Friday, November 15, 2013

99 Red Balloons, Karen Lange with Homeschool Co-Ops 101, and Celebrate!

In memory of Andrew, and with prayers for Nick Wilford and all of Andrew's family.

And now, onto Karen Lange's Homeschool Co-Ops 101. (If you want to see the Celebrate post, scroll down to the bottom. :)
homeschool co-ops 101
Essential co-op tools, tips, and options for today’s homeschool families. Thinking about joining or starting a homeschool co-op? Not sure if a co-op is a good fit? Homeschool Co-ops 101 weighs the pros, cons, and creative options available for today’s homeschool family.
  • Section 1 includes essential, digestible info on co-op ingredients such as planning and organization, schedules, teaching, finances, and addressing conflict and burnout.
  • Section 2 shares a sampling of co-op games and activities, and
  • Section 3 contains five hands-on unit studies. These ready to use studies include lessons on Leonardo da Vinci, Birds of Prey, Public Speaking, Tall Tales, and Creative Writing, and are suitable for co-op or home use. This section also includes unit study guidelines that are easily customized to suit any topic.
  • Section 4 offers suggested books, curriculum, and other resources.
Karen Lange has gathered insight from years of co-oping and now shares her own and others’ experiences in this valuable and encouraging handbook.
Homeschool Co-ops 101 is available at:
karen langeAbout the Author Karen Lange, her husband, and three children were active in co-ops during their sixteen-year homeschool journey. Her experience includes serving as a local homeschool support group coordinator and consultant for a state homeschool network in New Jersey. Karen’s children have since graduated, and she is now a freelance writer and online writing instructor for homeschooled teens. You can connect with Karen at her Blog, on Twitter, and Facebook. homeschool co-ops 101 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The Giveaway Open to US addresses only. One person will receive a $25 Amazon GC and a copy of Homeschool Co-ops 101. Please use the Rafflecopter below to be entered: a Rafflecopter giveaway The winner will be chosen from those entries and announced December 5, 2013. Good luck!
Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code. Winning entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and announced here as well as e-mailed, and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Diane at That’s What I’m Here For… and sponsored by the author, Karen Lange. The author provided me with a free copy of Homeschool Co-ops 101 to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose. Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a giveaway in return for the free book.VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.
Some Questions and Answers from Karen Lange:

What prompted you to write this book?


Thanks so much for inviting me over to your blog! I’m looking forward to visiting with you and your followers.


About ten years ago, I was encouraged by a good friend in the homeschool community to write a booklet about co-ops. She was the director of a statewide homeschool support network, and she knew people often asked me about how a co-op works. The booklet seemed like a good way to share the info, so I self published it.  In May of 2013, Helping Hands Press offered me a contract to expand it, so here we are! 


What can readers expect to find in the book?


The book offers info on how to start a co-op and weighs the pros, cons, and creative options available for homeschool families. One thing I emphasize is that parents have options when it comes to co-oping. Co-ops come in all sizes and sometimes an existing one is not a good fit for a family. Parents shouldn’t feel bad or be intimidated if this is the case; they need to know that it’s okay to either not participate and even start their own co-op if they wish.


Another thing to note is that HC 101's usefulness is not limited to just homeschoolers. The how to section offers helpful setup and structure tips for other K-12 student groups. The activity segment has lessons, games, and hands on projects that suit these groups as well.                            


Here is a breakdown of each section of the book:


Section 1 includes info on co-op ingredients such as planning and organization, schedules, teaching, finances, and addressing conflict and burnout.  Section 2 has a sampling of co-op games and activities, and Section 3 contains five hands-on unit studies. The topics include lessons on Leonardo da Vinci, Birds of Prey, Public Speaking, Tall Tales, and Creative Writing, and are suitable for co-op or individual home use. Section 3 also includes unit study guidelines that are easily customized to suit any topic. Section 4 offers suggested books, curriculum, and other resources.


Tell us a little about your homeschool experience.


My husband and I homeschooled our three children (two sons and a daughter) in grades K-12. We chose to homeschool because, among other things, we wanted to personalize our children’s education and felt home was the best place to do that. During this time, we were active with our local homeschool support group’s events such as field trips and science and art fairs.  Co-ops played an important role too. These activities helped supplement our studies, provided balanced socialization, fellowship, and fun. They also offered a broader worldview as our children interacted with not just homeschool families, but the surrounding community.


If you happen to be interested in more info about the ups and downs of homeschooling, socialization, higher education, and other related topics, visit this link:


What would you like readers to take away from the book?


No one plan fits everyone, so I encourage families, whether they decide to co-op or not, to find the right balance and fit for them. My hope is that they would find ideas and encouragement for their children’s educational journey. 

Thanks again for sharing your space with me today. It’s been a pleasure!

You're welcome, Karen!

Celebrate the Small Things:

1. I biked two days this week.
2. I re-wrote three chapters of Champion in Flight.
3. Friends are having us over for dinner tonight.
4. My homeschool co-op rocks!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Indie Life: Thanksgiving

Today, I'm giving thanks for all the encouragement I've found as in Indie author on the web and in the brick and mortar world.

So many awesome blog buddies have encouraged me in my publishing pursuits, and I am thankful for each and all of you!

Today, Natalie Aguirre is doing a big Indie Giveaway at Literary Rambles as a way of supporting her Indie blog friends. I'm super excited to give away an e-copy of Champion in the Darkness there. Natalie is a great blog buddy!

In the brick and mortar world, I've found encouragement at Indie bookstores. It makes sense that Indie bookstore owners and Indie authors work together. I am thankful for those bookstore owners who have supported my writing endeavors.

I want to encourage every Indie author I know to go out and meet an Indie bookstore owner - they may not have the huge reach of the big 'zon, but they can give tangible support to Indie authors.

Check out my book stores page. Thanks to these stores, I have had the "wow, my book is on bookstore shelf!" moments. I admit I haven't experienced a ton of sales in these places, but my book is getting some shelf space, and some small recognition in my community because of them.

What are you giving thanks for today? Where have you found encouragement for your writing dreams? And have you approached an Indie bookstore owner with your book?

Friday, November 8, 2013

1 Word Intervew: Nutschell

It's my delight and privilege to continue my 1 Word Interviews this week with Nutschell  Anne Windsor from The Writing Nut, the host of many Writer's Workspace Wednesday posts. She recently celebrated the release of Story Sprouts: CBW-LA Writing Day Exercises and Anthology 2013 and is a MG and YA writer with many interests, including martial arts, photography, drums, and travel.

1. What's your current favorite word?

2. In one word, what inspires you?

3. What's one word that describes your writing habits?

4. What's one word that you wish you could get rid of in your writing?

5. What's one word that describes your writing desk?

6. Share the best writing advice/tool/quote that helps you. (please limit to one sentence)
“Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have very pleasant careers.”
—Ray Bradbury, WD

7. What's your current project?
Currently revising a middle grade fantasy novel.

And an 8th question for November: What are you thankful for this year?
The gift of supportive family and friends!

Thank you for visiting, Nutschell! And although my writing desk isn't tidy or organized at the moment, I love your words, and your quote!
Remember to visit Nutschell at The Writing Nut, and get to know her more!
Plus, remember to check out her release at Amazon!

Celebrate the Small Things:
1. It's been a "normal" week, which feels odd, but restful.
2. Daylight Savings Time made it possible for me to get out and bicycle with my husband this week. I'm a wimp when it comes to bicycling in the dark.
3. Revision writing is going well. I'm a bit behind on my daily goals because I worked on something else one day. (oops, sort of)
4. I've outlined an unexpected non-fiction project. After copying out far too many pages for my homeschool co-operative classes before every Monday, buying new ink cartridges and a giant amount of paper, I decided to write out all my class notes and materials for one of the classes I plan to teach next year in a book format, tentatively titled:
The Art of Essay Writing: Essential and Advanced Practices for Essay Writers
(It totally sounds pretentious, so I may have to change that)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

IWSG: I Can't Do It ALL . . . and that's ok.

Many thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh who started this amazing blog hop, which also now has it's own website and facebook page! And many thanks to all those writers who make IWSG an encouraging and inspiring place to be with their raw and honest look at their insecurities and their encouraging words.

I can't do it ALL. And saying that stresses me out, but also offers me some relief. I can't do it ALL - the big capital ALL: all the stuff I want to do, or mistakenly think that I can do all at once. Originally, with this post, I had a list here, call it a whine list, brag list, whatever, of all the stuff I try to do every day, every week, and every month, and then I thought . . . wait, everyone has a list like that. Everyone I know has a tendency to make "to-do" lists that could take up a piece of butcher paper that stretches across a room.

Maybe I just know crazy people like me . . . who dream big, and then scramble to put foundations under those dreams. And maybe that's ok.

Really, it's ok to dream big. It's ok to fill up massive to-do lists. It's ok, even when I can't get it ALL done ALL at the same time. I can begin, and begin again, and get one thing done at a time.

So, if you are like me, and you like to create gigantic to-do lists for your huge dreams and plans, I encourage you to just take it one bit at time, begin and begin again, if needed and just keep building that foundation, brick by brick, under your dreams.

We can do it, one bit at a time.

And when we struggle, we can pray. I invite you all to participate in Mark Koopmans awesome 50 States of Pray on December 24th!

Monday, November 4, 2013

A Few Thoughts on the Realism in Ender's Game, Bullying, and Forgiveness

Back in 1989, when I first read Ender's Game, I read it in five hours, totally wrapped up in Ender's character and the story. I've discovered since then that many people just don't get this book. They dislike the characters, or don't understand them. They feel that the situations are unrealistic, especially the bullying, vulgarity, and manipulation that takes place. Or they think that since the characters are young, that nothing heavy or painful will, or should, happen to them.

Be aware that this post is going to get painful and real, and I'm going to tell you a bit more about my life than I usually do. It's a bit long, but if you want to know why I think the kids in Ender's Game are portrayed realistically, read on.

When I read Ender's Game the first time, I was 17 and had just graduated from a public school system where I had been bullied on a nearly daily basis from first grade through graduation.

Why did I put up with it?

Because back in elementary school, when I complained, the teachers thought I was a tattle-tale, that none of it was that bad, or that I didn't understand being teased because I was an only child and wasn't used to normal kid-to-kid interactions. For some reason having friends didn't count.

I told my parents about what was happening. They came to the school. Teachers and administrators seemed somewhat concerned. My parents went home, and it turned out that I was in trouble for "tattling" again. At this point I wasn't complaining about being called names (daily), I was complaining about being pushed, shoved, pinched, held down and groped. I was in second grade. I decided that I had to handle it on my own. And crying in a corner wasn't an option, because that just made me a bigger target.

Another girl at my school told me that her dad was a martial arts teacher and that she could show me some basic self-defense moves. By the end of second grade, I was leaving my bullies behind with bruises.

Unfortunately, there were other not-so-great things going in my life at that point. A friend of mine who had three older siblings was violently raped by her oldest brother. Her two middle siblings were also raped. They all tried to swear me to silence with threats. I decided that for once, I would be a tattletale again. An investigation took place, and I lost my best friend . . . who went and told the entire school that I was a liar.

I felt guilty for telling, and yet ashamed of how long it had taken me to tell. I didn't want to talk about any of it with anyone for a long, long time. I started avoiding contact with other kids by spending all my recess time in the school library. A few years went by with few friends and few incidents of bullying other than the mild name-calling that I was getting used to at that point.

During this time, I learned the Lord's prayer and started struggling with that phrase, "Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us." That was really a tough phrase for me, and I started praying about it. I think, now, that praying for help with forgiveness kept me healthier than I could have been at that point.

In junior high (that's middle school in modern terms), things heated up again. I had decided to be more social: I gained friends who seemed blind to anything bad that happened, and more enemies again. The bullying grew physical once more, and included things thrown at me, tobacco chew spit at me and on my locker, and the inevitable attempted groping. I fought back, usually with just a few kicks or hits and then a swift run that took me away from the bully/bullies. I started taking creative routes from class to class, sometimes going outside in the rain to avoid certain hallways.

One day, I decided to walk inside. A boy jumped on me from behind and started groping me while saying nasty things. In a split second, I lost my temper in the worst way imaginable. I felt like the only thing I wanted in that moment was to hurt him as badly as I had ever been hurt, to hurt him so much that he would never hurt me again. I don't really know how long the fight lasted, because red rage was pretty much my world during that time. I didn't start to come out of that until a couple of other kids shouted at me to stop. I had been kicking him repeatedly while he was on the ground. He needed help to get up and couldn't stand on his own. I found out later that he went to the hospital and had bruised ribs. I was so shaken and frightened of what I had done that I promised myself that I would learn to handle my anger, and that I would never hurt anyone like that again. The kids at school started to stay outside of arm's reach. The tobacco chew spit, name-calling, and thrown objects still kept coming, but no one touched me. I was thankful for it, and yet ashamed of my temper.

Does anyone see yet why I felt like Orson Scott Card had taken notes from my life for Ender's Game? I understood Ender's dilemma in a gut level way.

In addition to the bullying, I had been separated out by teachers who told my honor class friends and I that we were special, smarter, etc (baloney, baloney), and for a while I believed them even though I had friends who weren't honor students who I knew were just as smart as I was. (Again, see any Ender's Game similarities here?)

The only incident I had with my temper in high school came when a friend of mine was picked up by two guys in varsity jackets, thrown into a bay of lockers and punched in the stomach. Angry that no one else did or said anything to stop them, I cursed them, threatened them, and went into attack mode. They ran. I looked around, and I didn't have any back up. My friend told me she had never see anyone as scary as I was when I lost my temper. I felt that strange mix of horror, shame, and yet thankfulness again.

I prayed daily for God to heal me of my anger and bitterness, for help forgiving others, and for help staying calm and positive.

After a spectacularly disastrous decision on my part to run for class office (during the class assembly before the vote I was booed by at least 100 of my 300 classmates), my opponent (who was far more popular) told me he would try to make sure that I was never harassed again. He had actually witnessed some of the name-calling, etc. in the hallways and it bothered him. The harassment lessened.

During my senior year, one of my friends witnessed tobacco chew being spit on my locker. When he found out that it happened at least weekly, he helped me take revenge. Yes, revenge. I wasn't losing my temper with angry words or fists at that point, but I wasn't very mature. We broke into the tobacco chewer's locker, threw out all his tobacco cans, drew on his posters, and moved his books around. Then we waited across the hall and watched him find his locker in disarray. He was horrified. My friend, to my terror, made sure the guy knew we had done it. Thankfully, my friend happened to be a black belt fighter, and the son of one of the football coaches. The harassment went down to name-calling, and usually happened quietly.

Unfortunately, I wasn't the only kid harassed or bullied at my school. One of my friends was surrounded by a bunch of guys and beat until he was hospitalized with broken bones. The bullies never got in trouble. Another friend was knocked down by two football players in front of the vice-principal, who, instead of helping my friend, merely told the two players he'd be rooting for them at the game that night. When my friend stood up and started verbally protesting, the vice-principal threatened to suspend him for threatening our school's prize players and our team's chances of going to state. I could go on with more stories, but I think you get the picture here: school administrators only protected varsity players and the popular, rich kids.

The kind of bullying portrayed in Ender's Game is realistic. The feelings of Ender for his enemies ring true for me, even the loving part. The guy who I hurt back in junior high, came up to me a while later at a Young Life meeting and apologized to me with the help of one of the leaders. We had a long talk, and I apologized for hurting him. We prayed, and we forgave each other, and it was real forgiveness - a miraculous healing of the heart that I know only Jesus can give. Another guy who had verbally harassed me for years apologized at a senior party and I forgave him. Since then, at every high school reunion I've attended, I've made peace with one or more of my old enemies. My friend who had called me a liar after I told the school counselor about her family actually thanked me ten years later.

So, for me, oddly enough, the reason I love Ender's Game has less to the book itself than it has to do with my own experiences. A story may start in the heart and mind of a writer, but it finds completion in the heart and mind of the reader.

When you meet someone who loves Ender's Game, ask them why . . . and you might hear a story like mine.