self-publishing, writing

In Which I Explain My Recent Radio Silence

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Good morning! So, I’m aware that I haven’t been around much lately, and I’ve hinted at reasons why, but here are some more in-depth reasons. And, me being me, I shall beg apologies.

Lately, I’ve been struggling with trying to get together Volume 3 so that it can be ready to publish well before the Realm Makers conference in mid-July. The in-depth reason is two-fold. One: As I was starting to edit, I discovered a massive plot hole about 16% of the way in, and my response was thusly:

“SONOFAFLAMINGBISCUITWHYDOTHESETHINGSALWAYSHAPPENTOMEWHENI’MONADEADLINETHISCAN’TBERIGHTISLAVEDOVERTHISIT’SNOTFAAAAAAIIIIRRRRRR!!!!!!”

Yes, I’m being quite honest. Sadly.

Anyway, after eating some ice cream and watching some Grey’s Anatomy, I got my big-girl pants on and began to tackle Volume 3 — the “final” draft — from the start, as if it were just another rewrite. Which is what it has become. And, guess what? I’m actually enjoying it again.

So, here I am, with a very set deadline breathing down my neck, and I am simply writing as much as I can — creatively, not time-wise — every day. And, thanks to my family and other things needing some of my time, there have been days when I get about 4 paragraphs down before that spark has slipped away for a bit. But all of this is okay. It really is, I’m truly not being snarky. There was a lot of stuff in my notes that I wasn’t going to use until the next book in the series — after already bumping it from Volume 2 — but I’m including it now, and it’s making me pretty excited for readers’ reactions. And that is all good.

Two: I’m feeling my creative spark get worn out rather quickly these days. I need to seriously recharge it with more movies and reading and music (which I often set aside for periods while editing). Last night I chose not to go online, not to read, in favor of watching Thor: Ragnarok, which was an excellent decision.

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The other in-depth reasons I’m not making bullet-train progress on my impending release are: my health, technology issues, and broadening my horizons.

My health is doing pretty well these days (much better than I was a few months ago), but so far the medication I’m trying for the endometriosis isn’t really working, so I still have to put up with some fatigue and lack of appetite or nausea. It means there are times when I literally don’t have the energy to think comprehensively about my plot or adjectives or phrasing. And there’s not much I can do about that at the moment, except take it with a grain of salt and keep going later.

Until very recently, we were down to one computer in my house, and it was getting ridiculous, since there were 3 of us trying to use it pretty much all the time. So, we got a new, additional computer. Then — the original computer died. And it has not been repaired yet, since the shop we brought it to is, for no apparent reason, dragging its feet and not communicating about what’s taking so long. So, we are, at present, still dealing with up to 3 people attempting to use one computer. I made it clear from the start, when I’m working on getting a new release ready, I need to have first crack at all things PC and internet-related (I regularly forget to look things up during the drafting process, and then remember while editing that I didn’t fact-check a certain reference or the spelling of a last name). But sometimes I get major pushback about this (it seems the words “deadline” and “conference” don’t have the same meaning to people who aren’t me). Anyway, this is another in-depth reason (I’m going to patent that phrase) that this whole editing thing is dragging a bit.

And then there are the additional activities I’m involving myself in at the local library. Is this absolutely necessary? No, and you’d think an indie author, a parent, an autist, already strapped for time wouldn’t consider them twice. However. In taking stock of my sales this winter (another brutally honest moment here), I saw that it would be helpful if I could expand my reach as an author. So I went to the library to look at the monthly calendar and get an idea for what networking was possible (without being annoying). I found there’s a writer’s group that meets every month, and people that belong to it have been asking the librarians questions about self-publishing. So it occurred to me that this might be a good place to show my face on a regular basis. *hides under bed and prays for strength to socialize*

Plus, I’d already let myself get roped into (okay, not really — I didn’t actually fight against it) the adult book club, which is still good because I’ve found I really only read one type of book anymore, and that can be stifling for the creative soul. Going out of my comfort zone to try new genres and styles will probably be very good for me.

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On top of all this, the end of the school year is approaching, and that means I will have very little time in June for anything other than routine notification-checking and blog-posting. Besides, I need to have Volume 3 finished for a) Realm Makers, duh, b) so I can work more on How To Be A Savage, and c) I promised White Fang we’d start on our joint Super Secret Project this summer. And there’s a writer’s conference much closer to my home that I want to attend the week after RM, so it’d be nice to have more WIP stuff to bring to that as well.

All of these factors combined mean that, although in the past I’ve hated to do it and often felt guilty, I know that I have to disappear for short periods right now. I’m not officially going on hiatus (I’ve tried that before and failed miserably), but I won’t beat myself up if it’s been a whole week since I posted anything new on the blog, or if my tweets are limited to a quip by White Fang every 24 hours. We’ll all have to deal.

No one is bugging me or complaining that I’m not around, and for that, I thank everyone. This writer’s life isn’t always sparkles and fun-shine. It requires serious strapping yourself down to work and quit fooling around on social media or with rearranging your closet more than some of us want to admit.

Anyway, please do continue to visit my archives, and browse my tweets and Goodreads reviews. And I swear I shall soon have bigger news about the results of all my current endeavors.

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blogging, reading, writing

Looking Ahead: Plans for the New Season

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Is it time to send out a search party for spring?

If you said yes, I wholeheartedly agree.

However, given that the calendar says mid-April, and April is, mathematically, a quarter of the way through a solar year, I believe this is a good moment to evaluate plans for 2018.

Is it just me, or is there this sense of a rut? Of wanting 2018 to be amazing, but getting more caught up in the “I wish I could…” instead of just going forth and doing. I’ve seen a lot of that on social media lately. People say, “I really want to get X, Y, and Z accomplished by a-b-and-c.”

Last year, I felt that way a LOT. And I swore that this year would be different. Well, guess what? Here we are, in April, and I already know most of what I’d hoped to do I won’t be able to.

So, rather than becoming bogged down by this rushing current of “other people moving ahead,” I’ve decided today to focus on how I can move myself forward.

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No more taking on unanticipated projects. I’ve already committed to finishing drafts of Volume 4 and the Super Secret Project by summer’s end. There are at least 2 other books I want to write in the Twelve Tribes world. Recently, I established How To Be A Savage on Wattpad. So, I have enough on my plate at present. I was originally going to put new snippets of HTBAS on the blog first, then upload extended chapters to Wattpad every week. Guess who hasn’t done either yet this week? Yupper, me.

So, I shall simply be posting Savage on Wattpad. (By the way, if you are a Wattpad-er, please look it up!  https://www.wattpad.com/554416578-how-to-be-a-savage-part-1)

Let’s test the boundaries of my comfort zone. Not in any way that will actually be damaging, of course. Yesterday I went to an event at the local library — second week in a row! — and was around all these other people…and inside I was totally wigging out. Last night I felt like I’d reached my extroverting limit for the next, oh, approximately 374 years. But now that I’m a published author, which is something I’ve been working towards for quite a while, it’d be really helpful  if I was able to make public appearances.

So, yesterday, although I had not intended to do this, I found myself signing up for a book club before I left the library. I even started reading the selected title last night. And next month, I may very well go to this meeting and sit in the back and not speak to anybody. But, hey, it would be progress. Because when you can only handle 4 or 5 people showing up to a group that you agreed to speak to about self-publishing, and they all say they’d like to have you come back at some point and speak to bigger groups, and this idea sends you into emotional spasms… That’s not healthy. I will probably never be able to address an auditorium of 300 people. And that’s okay. But why not 10, or even 25? Surely I increase my chance for more sales if I reach more potential readers…

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I can’t be at Realm Makers this year, and there is no reason for guilt. I crunched the numbers, and between the conference cost itself, the flight, the hotel, and the emotional toll traveling by myself to St. Louis in July (which equals much heat, and I and much heat do not get along), it was not pretty. At least I get to be present in some respect by sending my books to the conference. And, honestly, I’m not the greatest at staying in hotels (around strangers, out of my usual routine and surroundings), so this is a wise decision. Hopefully next year RM will be held in a Northeast city (where July temperatures rarely get above 85 degrees), and not being so far from my family would ease the tension.

Stop stressing about my health. For the most part, my health is under control. But it looks like I’ll be on medication pretty much forever. This is something I’ve never had to deal with. I’m not losing sleep over these issues anymore, but I’d be lying if I claimed it wasn’t on my mind at all. There are too many other things worth concentrating on more than the what-ifs.

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Let’s skip the hashtag games and tag posts. For any of you who have ever tagged me on Twitter or the blogisphere, thank you for thinking of me. I do mean that. Though trying to keep up with all of it really eats into the time I allot for writing. So I’m not going to pressure myself.

I need to stick to what I keep telling myself about television. Why am I wasting my time seeing if shows I know are going downhill may possibly have been slightly better this week? With season finales coming up for everything, this’d be a great point to cut the cord, so to speak. Rather than taking my attention away from important stuff, like writing and editing, or reading. And I could avoid the frustration I know is coming. Yes, yes, and yes. White Fang and I can focus on catching up on The Walking Dead and our movie queue on Netflix. Sounds brilliant.

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And stick to what I’ve been saying about my TBR. No. New. Library. Books. Not until I have finished the books White Fang already owns that he’s been bugging me to read. And then I can start tackling the indie books that have been multiplying like plot bunnies on my list of “one day, one day.” Yes, finances honestly do play a part in this endeavor. However, if I start purchasing, say, one book a month, then pretty soon I will have most of the titles I’ve been eyeing for a while. And realistically, it will take me a while longer to finish reading them all, so I’ll never be without something new to read… So, what’s the downside here?

What about you, moths? How are your yearly goals coming along? Any need to revise??

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blogging, self-publishing, writing

April: Life, Writing, and Reading Update

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Good morning! Yes, here I appear, although my online presence has been somewhat minimal of recent. Stuff has been happening, and I’ve decided to spend more of my time working on tasks other than shameless self-promotion on social media. Though I am participating in #WIPjoy on Twitter, so do check that out!

Okay, so here are some things going on to explain why I haven’t been around as much lately:

I am starting medication to help with the endometriosis. While this is not, in itself, time-consuming or energy-draining, it reminds me that there are certain things in life that may be more important than throwing yourself into your work. Like, one’s health, and one’s family.

And one’s work matters, too. But not at the risk of not remembering why we’re engaging in said pursuits. Meaning, when you’re a writer, and writing doesn’t feel fun, or doesn’t make sense, we either need to take a break, or adjust our approach.

I am adjusting my approach. While I still hope to release Volume 3 by the end of April, I am NOT pressuring myself to hit a specific date. There will certainly be announcements when publication has occurred and this title is ready for purchase. But don’t expect a formal release build-up, since I am playing everything by ear this go-round.

Also, I am going to make the most of renewals from the library. And taking my time completing titles we own. Here is what my current TBR looks like:

Image result for children of blood and bone    Image result for whichwood   Image result for thirty million wordsImage result for warriors shadows of the clans

Yes, I am reading all of these at the same time. Yes, I truly am. No, my head has not exploded yet, and I swear my sanity is still around here somewhere. I promise…

Now, there are a few reasons for this status. I began reading “Thirty Million Words” for a book club, and that means I have to have x number of pages finished every 2 weeks. So I’ve been trying to get ahead on that title in particular. Despite the fact I reached the last page of “narrative” (not sure what to call it when the book is non-fiction), minus all the bibliography and research notes, a few days ago, I still count it as currently reading because the book club goes through April. So I will be referring back to this title for a while.

Anyway, in between all this heavy-on-the-technical-jargon-and-scientific-study stuff (which is fascinating, but starts to burn me out), I decided to pick up something light and easy. Enter one of the Warriors novellas. Just my luck that “Shadows of the Clans” has some of the most dark and depressing tales, apart from “Ravenpaw’s Farewell.” And I know that revisiting Ravenpaw shall also make me bawl like an inconsolable wallaby.

Hence, I went to scour the library. I decided to give “Children of Blood and Bone” a try. So far, I’m enjoying it, but it is LOOOOOOOOOOOONG. So I opted to take a break from that with “Whichwood,” because it’s marked as MG. Oh my gosh, what do I know?! It’s aimed at ages 10 and up, but some of the content is extremely dark and dodgy. And yet, I am becoming very engaged in the story. Then I realized that it was a sequel. WHAT IS THIS BOOKDRAGON LIFE.

Anyway, after all of THIS I secured the original, “Furthermore,” from the library, and quite soon I will be all up to speed. #thumbsup.

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There is other news regarding writing/publishing/sales. Though I my physical self will not be present at Realm Makers this July, some of my books shall live at the vendor tables! Thanks to my cover designer, Kyle Robert Shultz, autographed copies of Volumes 1, 2, and 3 will be available for purchase at the conference. He and I are working on the further details, but if you’d like to buy my work and are attending Realm Makers, keep an eye out for him!

Also, the week of April 16th-21st, there are some special things happening for the anniversary of the publication of the first edition of Masters and Beginners! A giveaway shall take place on another blog, reviews will be re-posted, and I’m recruiting an army to promote my debut on social media. If you’re interested in helping at all, send up smoke signals or dispatch an owl and I’ll get back to you!

Otherwise, I am working towards putting “How To Be A Savage” on Wattpad (extended posts from what you’ll see on here, so if you’re a Wattpad-er, please consider visiting me over there, too!), it means overall less posts on this blog in April. Sorry, everyone.

If you search Daley Downing on Goodreads, though, you should come across my author page, and you can follow all my book reviews there! Also, link to my Twitter via my sidebar!

All right, back to the editing…or the reading…or feeding the furtration…

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blogging, community, writing

Spring Cleaning Writer Tag Challenge

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Good morning, everyone! So, I’ve been nominated to participate in this original tag, created by Deborah O’Carroll, and it’s a tag just for us writers!

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Rules:

1. Link back to the person who tagged you
2. Share the picture
3. Answer the questions (naturally…) or even pick and choose which ones you answer
3.5. Tag 3 other writers and inform them that you tagged them (via comment/message/email or hey, even carrier-pigeon or smoke signal; I’m not picky)

1. Dust-bunnies and Plot-bunnies: Reorganize Your Writing Goals (Or Make New Ones)

Most writers do start out the new year with specific goals in mind. As of early January, my plans for the next 12 months were to: finish Volume 3 and start on Volume 4, do some more work on the field guide, and plan out the prequel.

As of March 21st, here’s where I stand on all this: Volume 3 is almost ready for editing. But I’m going to take some time on that. My hope was to get it published sometime in April; hopefully that will still happen, but I am not pushing myself to make it occur no matter what. I want Volume 3 to be as good as it can be, and that means lessening my self-imposed deadline for its release.

Also, while I do hope to still finish the draft of Vol. 4 by the end of summer, since I have also promised White Fang we will work on our Super Secret Co-Project once the school year is over, I am being totally realistic about Vol. 4 not being available until the fall. Nothing like long-range goals, eh?

Also, the field guide and the prequel I’ll probably work on in fits and spurts, when the inspiration hits. There’s no rush right now on either of those (though I am excited to create both of them!).

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2. Which Stage Are You At? Expound!

a. Remodeling layouts (planning the story)
b. Painting the walls in colorful hues (writing)
c. Polishing the windows and scrubbing the floors and putting flowers in vases (editing)
d. Blueprints (not to the cleaning or remodeling yet… just drawing up plans for the very beginning inklings of a story)
e. Some combination of those things (cleaning out a closet)

At the moment, I am in Painting The Walls In Colorful Hues with Volume 3, and very soon it will be Polishing The Windows And Putting Flowers In Vases. (I love the analogies, Deborah!)

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3. Treasure From the Back of the Closet (Share one to three snippets you love!)

“She’d only been 19 years old when a nervous, confused, mid-twenties Daniel Novak approached her…seeking a nanny for his newborn halfbreed child. …Lily quickly fell in love with the beautiful baby girl who had astounding violet eyes and could make objects float above her crib.”

“Mom! Can we go yet?! I haven’t played Minecraft in 36 Earth hours!”

“Avery had never learned to play solitaire… Hence, she was constructing a house of cards while she waited… And she was using magic to do so, meaning this deck of cards was rapidly coming to resemble a 3-story mansion with a balcony and an astronomy tower.”

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3.5. Bonus: Do Some Actual Spring Cleaning of Your Writer Self! (and share a picture!)

I shan’t be doing this part of the tag (since we are having technical difficulties around my house, and camera software is not easily accessible at present). But here are some tips from Deborah for those of you who wish to:

  • Organize your notebooks and papers if you’re a physical type of writer
  • Sort your computer files and tidy them up if you’re a digital sort
  • Do some real-life cleaning up of your desk or writing space or room in general, if you exist in the physical world at all (which I rather hope you do)  

     

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(Sorry I can’t prove it right now, but I do exist somewhere out here, I swear!)

Thanks so much for the fun tag, Deborah! Visit her at: https://deborahocarroll.wordpress.com/2018/03/20/original-tag-writerly-spring-cleaning-challenge/.

I’m tagging (and you most likely have already been tagged, but take pity on my poor overwraught genius brain): Kyle Robert Shultz, SM Metzler, Hannah Heath, and Aria E. Maher. Happy spring cleaning, writers!

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Encouragement, reading, spiritual growth, writing

A Discussion on Writing Spiritual Journeys (Part 2)

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Hello again! So, today I’m finishing up the discussion post I started last week, delving into how we authors can effectively incorporate our faith into our work without seeming irritating, preachy, or off-putting to readers. But today I’d like to take this post in a slightly different direction.

Many of us who write with a certain spiritual or religious message or theme in mind are drawing on the faith we grew up in. For lots of people the world over, religion is as much a part of who we are, in terms of heritage, as our eye color and height.

But the religion we’re born into may not be the one we embrace our entire lives. I’m not here to debate conversion experiences. I’m more interested in addressing covering this topic compassionately and objectively in fiction.

Yes, that’s right, I said objectively. If you’re writing a fiction piece that includes a character or characters that have changed their spiritual beliefs and practices, your focus needs to be so much more on the characters’ tale than your own personal testimony. The reason for this tactic is, again (vitally), not turning off readers who may not agree with your beliefs or worldview, but still want to read your fiction.

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As someone who came from a generic Christian background (as far as morals and traditions went), then spent a lot of time researching other religions, I think this is a big problem among Western “Christian market” publishers. As I mentioned before, I don’t like the way Christian novels are geared specifically towards people who are already churchgoers. That turns fiction that should be showing non-believers the beautiful teachings of Jesus of Nazareth into its own little niche culture. A niche that outsiders don’t necessarily feel comfortable jumping into.

And that feeds into the even bigger problem the modern Church already has, of people seeing us as a narrow-minded, unfriendly, keep-to-ourselves, stuck-up sort. That hardly teaches the world that the Savior came to die for everybody.

When I was young and exploring (and by the way, there’s nothing wrong with that), I came across a variety of people of a variety of religions. Some of the churchgoers were horrible, hypocritical, and very prejudiced. Others were awesome, warm, caring and tolerant. Some of the people I met from “fringe” or minority religions were very tolerant towards Christians; others thought the Church had committed too many terrible crimes, and weren’t about to forgive that. The biggest takeaway I got from all this was that the world in general has become so caught up in who gets the Earthly power and control and authority, that they no longer are concerned with matters such as a Creator, our purpose here, and can we communicate with that being.

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Since that was what I was looking for, I found myself much more drawn to reading from the source (rather than getting stuck in the political plays). I read up on the pantheons from ancient Greece and Rome and Egypt and Britain, on Buddhism, Hinduism, and Judaism. I was an equal opportunity researcher. I found some things I thought were really wonderful (like the idea of personal deities or saints that would take care of your specific needs in finances, health, etc. — indicating that the belief in a merciful, benevolent divine being is not sold simply by televangelists). Other stuff I wasn’t too fond of (the practices of animal sacrifice, for example).

Anyway, as I went, I discovered there are a lot of issues with mistranslation, history being written from only one point of view, and traditions shared between a number of cultures, and that all of this has created a hodgepodge of what we today call Christianity. These days, there’s no such thing as “pure Christianity” — unless your only goal is to follow the teachings of Jesus in the New Testament.

Not that this is a bad goal. Not at all. However, human beings have certainly distorted what’s “acceptable” (forcing Jews to convert, when they’re stated in your own holy writings as God’s chosen people, is just not cool), and what’s “real” (the ongoing debate on whether miracles still happen is raging somewhere as we speak), and it’s quite unfortunate.

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What I’d like to see much more of in fiction penned by Christian authors is a respect for other religions, a tolerance for characters who haven’t been “saved,” and a true love (not condemnation) portrayed for the homeless drug addict your narrator passes on a street corner. Remember, folks, Jesus went to dinner with prostitutes and happily hung out with non-Jews. He treated everyone as worth his time and he listened to them. He appreciated their belief in him more than their social class or status. Too many people who go to church every week, always tithe and never miss a Bible study — in real life and fiction — are never seen at a soup kitchen, an animal shelter, or bringing dinner to the Muslim family down the street.

If we feel that fiction is a great tool for allegories and encourage deeper thinking on spiritual matters, then let’s do that. Let’s include characters from different religious backgrounds, do our research and present non-stereotyped, healthy, loving portrayals. Let’s validate someone’s worth as a person from a non-Christian, non-monotheistic background, while we hope to show that a God they’ve never heard of loves them and wants to help them.

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reading, spiritual growth, writing

A Discussion on Writing Spiritual Journeys (Part 1)

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I’m part of an author community that prides itself on following a particular set of morals and ethics in their lives and in their writing. I’m not even going to debate the validity of that. What I’d like to start discussing today is this:

When you want your work to reflect certain spiritual values you have, what’s the best way to go about it?

There is a major issue these days with the faith-based publishing industry being just that — religious, even zealous, literally preaching to the choir, and not even attempting to reach people who don’t share your beliefs.

I like to think of myself as a pretty tolerant person. I do subscribe to a set of spiritual beliefs and try to practice them on a daily basis. I won’t deny that I believe what I believe, and that I find it extremely important. However, I want people who randomly come across my books on Goodreads or Barnes & Noble to feel that I’m approachable. That my work, while it does focus on Judeo-Christian lore and values, is approachable, even if they never go to church. Honestly, I don’t care if they alter/maintain/develop any spiritual views after reading my books. That’s not what I’m here for.

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But my hope is also that people who may be spiritually seeking might take away something about the messages of love, grace, mercy, and redemption that I include in my writing.

So, we come back to the beginning point: How do we, as authors and Christians, portray these concepts in our fiction, without seeming to do so from behind a pulpit?

Here are some crucial points I’ve determined over the years of being a reader, a writer, and now an author:

1. Don’t act superior. Meaning, don’t give the impression that your Christian characters (or Christian-esque, if your fiction has an allegorical religion) are “better” than those who aren’t. You’ll definitely send non-religious readers packing. Also, please don’t make your Christian characters perfect — stunningly beautiful, intelligent, excellent job, happy family, can stand in for Superman during a city-wide emergency. Not only is this totally unrealistic, it’s very discouraging. Readers like characters they can relate to — fictional people who drop pens, forget to feed their cat, cheated on their diet, skipped that math class, swore when they sprained their ankle. People who need the compassion of a Savior.

2. Don’t indicate a religious conversion will solve all of a character’s problems. Again, this never happens in real life. Plenty of people who go to church and pray and help old ladies across the street suffer from financial concerns, sickness, unemployment, addictions, have been divorced or broken up with their partner, lost a pet, or can’t find decent parking ever. And, once more, including bumps in the road in a fictional life makes for characters we can connect to — and if we see their faith help them through some of life’s crap, we might even want that aspect for ourselves.

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3. Make sure your character’s faith is at work in your pages. A narrator who tithes 12 and a half percent, never misses a Bible study, only exclaims, “Oh, drat,” when a deer runs into their car — and then is rude to shop clerks, berates a jaywalker, tells someone whose dog accidentally got off-leash they’re an idiot… Well, this type of narrator will make people throw your book at the wall. Readers will want to know more about a protagonist who apologizes to the jogger they yelled at the day before, who dumps a guy by text and can’t sleep afterwards, who buys lunch for a Goth kid that lost their wallet.

4. Embrace diversity. This is one I see a lot of Christian publishers edging away from, because the term “diversity” has gotten misaligned as a politically-hot-button issue, rather than the modern way we say “tolerance.” It goes directly against one of the instructions in the New Testament, to bring the good news of Jesus’ resurrection to people all over the world. That means different countries, different races, different religions, cultures, all of it. Even folks that think putting mayo on fries is an acceptable practice should hear the Messiah’s message.

These are just suggestions, remember. Ultimately, I can’t force anyone to write their story a certain way. But it’s been my experience that most non-Christians won’t read preachy Christian literature — and therefore could be missing out on the really important stuff.

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As a younger reader, at a point in my life when I wasn’t really sure what I believed spiritually, I was intensely dissatisfied with people who claimed Christians “shouldn’t” read fantasy, “couldn’t” learn about ancient religions or polytheistic cultures, and that basically everything that wasn’t specifically “Christian” was “wrong.”

All of this is a load of bunk. Setting yourself apart from the majority of readers in today’s Western society will not bring them the love and mercy of anyone.

This doesn’t mean I’m encouraging compromise on our part. Not when it comes to your morals and values. If you find it necessary to write text in which no one swears out loud, never graphically explains their sex life, and isn’t gratitiously violent, go you.

But don’t avoid the tough subjects, either. Christian-themed novels need conversations on racism, prejudice, bullying, child abuse, committing crimes, sexual misconduct, eating disorders, drug use, self-harm — all without being condescending to the characters who are going through it. 

We are all human, we all make mistakes, and we shouldn’t act like we’re better than someone who’s still struggling with the same burden we once bore. That is absolutely not the reason Jesus literally took up His cross for us.

So, that’s it for this time. Next time, I’ll be digging deeper still, into writing from the perspective of someone who wasn’t always a Christian, for believers and non-believers alike.

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health, reading, spiritual growth, writing

February Recap/March Look-Ahead

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Good morning! So, now that things have finally calmed down a bit and my life makes more sense, I can focus on mundane stuff like monthly recap blog posts.

As most of you are probably aware, my February was a rather intense mix of pain, suffering, struggling, despair, and a little bit of hope.

Okay, yes, I’m dramatizing, somewhat. But there were a lot of issues of valid concern that came to a head last month. Since this past summer, I’d been dealing with unexplained pain that came and went, and eventually it became constant and was growing worse. After seeing three different doctors — a primary care physician, two radiologists, and an OBGYN — finally a cause was suspected, and actual treatment planned out.

So on March 1st, I went under the knife (well, the laser and a very small actual knife — my incision is tiny, it’s amazing) to find out what was really going on. The bloodwork and ultrasounds I’d had ruled out a few things, but still hadn’t concretely established what was wrong, so the doctor needed to get a physical eye on my insides. It wasn’t terrible, it wasn’t great, but the anesthesia worked well, so I honestly don’t remember being in any discomfort during the procedure.

Afterwards, although sore, I started feeling better almost immediately. The blockage that had been created in my abdomen by endometriosis building up for probably months was at last gone. For the first time in ages, I am not in pain. I’m still a little tired (understandably), but I know that finally, finally I am on the road to healing.

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Because of doctor’s appointments and managing pain, not a lot of other stuff was accomplished in February. I was able to make some progress on Volume 3 (so, yes, it is coming along!), and I got a fair amount of reading done (especially at those times when I literally didn’t have the energy to do anything else).

While I was lying down more than usual, I did make some executive writing decisions.

My initial plan for How To Be A Savage is getting put on MASSIVE hold. Although I really like the concept, I simply don’t have the time this year to attempt starting it. I may actually scrap it altogether. After Volume 3, there’s Volume 4 to finish, and the field guide needs a bunch of work, and I promised White Fang we’d get started on our collaboration project this summer. And since it’s already March…

Also, I changed my mind about not writing a separate prequel for the series. Originally, I had considered it, thought about releasing it as a collection of short stories, debated making it part of the field guide, then basically had a meltdown over the whole idea. In the end, I opted to add a novella prequel to my ever-growing list of WIPs. Just, most likely not in 2018.

And I am not putting another addition on my TBR for the rest of the year. I have several library selections checked out right now, and there are such things as renewal limits, and fines. Somehow I’ve managed to get nearly halfway through my Goodreads challenge already, so there’s no shame whatsoever in slowing down.

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When you have a dilemmia with your health, it tends to put certain things in perspective. That has definitely been the case for me. As concerned as I am about promoting my books, because while sales aren’t everything, they are important, marketing is not more crucial than my well-being. So, since I need to take a break from the social media grind and concentrate on the actual creative process right now, I will be doing that, and leaving my sales in the Lord’s hands (which, truly, is where they always are, anyway).

My immediate treatment will hopefully only be medication, and they’re going to see how that goes. But there may still be an adjustment period to that, and plans may not work out. I’m optimistic, yet I remain practical and prepared for things to change, too.

My boys need me as well, and these last few weeks, worrying about how they’d fare if something serious happened to me, has been agonizing.

So, I officially don’t care about having an Instagram account, starting a YouTube channel, or putting together a newsletter. I’m grateful to have the loyal supporters I do on WordPress, Twitter and Goodreads, and won’t freak out if those numbers only climb slowly. Now is not the time to put myself under more pressure.

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Winter is hanging on, but now spring isn’t too far away, and I’m happy to have made it through this season.

I’m looking forward to what comes next, small potatoes and all.

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