Monday, October 21, 2019

Pick One Genre? Nope.

Why do I genre hop/genre mix? Short answer: Because I like both sci-fi and fantasy (and historical fiction) and don't feel like picking just one.

I've been thinking about genres and subgenres some here lately, probably partially due to some webinars I've done for work. Some of them I didn't enjoy too much, but the sci-fi and fantasy ones were pretty good. They're available on YouTube, so you can totally watch them if you want. The NoveList training session at the end of each video probably isn't as useful, but if you have a GA library card, you can access NoveList using the GALILEO password. Just ask your local library. It does change every few months. And NoveList is a pretty useful tool.

Anyway, library resource plug over.

I've always found it difficult to choose genres when listing my books on Amazon. For instance, in Across the Stars, they travel on a spaceship to a planet where there is a castle and dungeons and flintlock rifles and swords. They live in a galaxy where other planets use technology, but they choose not to. Technically, it's science fiction, but the feel on-planet, the storyline, the tropes are more fantasy.

Time Captives is primarily fantasy. They go through a portal to a world with elves and merfolk and dragons ruled by an evil queen they have to defeat. But you've also got the Bremsi, a restraint set in the middle of an island that will send a fatal electric shock into anyone with the DNA of the royal family who crosses the border. Which seems a little more sciencey than you typically find in fantasy.

And then there's the Acktorek series I'm working on, which I consider science fiction, but yet I wonder if it would be better considered science fantasy since my "other worlds" concept is really more like fantasy worlds, just some of them have tech.

Twisted Dreams is most blatantly both genres, as one world Liesel is in is a somewhat standard fairy tale fantasy world and the other is straight up interplanetary sci-fi, albeit in a world that is not our own.

Often I wonder if this is part of why I struggle with marketing. Someone in the Realm Makers FB group the other day created a poll asking if you write for a niche market. And the more I think about it, yes, I do. But, like, a bunch of niche markets.

I write for the Narnia fans, the ones who like portal fantasy with rightful heir/chosen one-type tropes. But I also throw in pirates and gladiators and kids from history because I can. And other times spaceships.

I write for those who enjoy dystopian and biological experimentation...actually, The Experiment is one of my two most straightforward books regarding genre. But it's so different from Time Captives.

I write for those who like space opera/science fantasy like Star Wars, but I set it in another world so I can write stuff like aliens without the theological implications of actually writing aliens. But still with people who live in castles and have dungeons as easy to escape as the Camelot dungeons that inspired them. And of course biological experimentation because while I can't explain why I love the concept so much, I do.

I write for people who like the superhero genre, which typically is considered a subgenre of sci-fi. But I like completely different other worlds instead of parallel worlds so I can do anything. And I throw in a sprinkling of space opera feel because I like Star Wars and Dickensian London because I like Dickens and strange scenarios to solve that aren't quite sci-fi, but have enough fake science to not be fantasy either because I can.

So I'm a genre mixer. But you know, that's okay. Because while there are a lot of people who read genre fiction, I'm sure there are people out there who like both Star Wars and Lord of the Rings and who also enjoy a good super hero movie. Because isn't that what speculative fiction is all about? Using your imagination to put new and unique twists on all the things you love?

And you know what? I googled what subgenre Doctor Who fits, and discovered what deep down I probably already knew. That while its main genre is sci-fi, it dabbles in basically all the spec fic genres.

So maybe it would be easier to find my market if I wrote straight up genre fiction. In fact, I know it would be. But that's not me. I like too many different things to tie myself down to just one. And it's more fun to soar on the wings of pure imagination, creating something that's a unique blend of Star Wars, Narnia, The Flash, Doctor Who, and something else that's all my own.

I'm a genre mixer and that's who I am.

And I highly doubt I'm the only one.

Monday, October 14, 2019

The Story of the (Fantasy) World

Or, Why I Haven't Been Writing Much.

Me listening to people who like worldbuilding talk about it: That sounds like so much fun! I can't wait to do it!

Me sitting down to worldbuild: There are so many different aspects to creating a culture. It's too overwhelming. I'm not going to do it.

Me writing a story with very little worldbuilding: I don't know anything about this place. I can't write this book. I guess I need to worldbuild. But it's just so much!

People who like worldbuilding: You don't have to know everything. Just worldbuild what you need.

Me: How do I know what I need? I've got to create a whole culture. Maybe I'll just make it up as I go along.

Me looking back at a messy draft: None of this worldbuilding makes sense. It's so inconsistent.

Me staring at my blank worldbuilding notebook: But I don't know what to put here.

My sisters throwing out all kinds of crazy ideas: All they eat is spaghetti! *note: this is a family joke because of earlier versions of Acktorek...they actually had a lot of genuinely useful ideas*

Me typing up their ideas and my own that they've sparked: You know, this actually is kind of fun.

This is basically my last few weeks. I did a little writing on the Espionage sequel, but mostly I've been working on worldbuilding for three—yes, you read that right—THREE different worlds. Because brilliant me who mostly hates worldbuilding and swore never to create another world after Calhortea came up with an absolutely fabulous idea to...write a series where I have to worldbuild anew for every. single. book.

Essentially, Acktorek is a company that sends people to other worlds to help with issues. It's like the Jedi Order meets Doctor Who meets Team Flash, but world travel rather than space travel, and worlds that are completely different from our own, not just parallel versions of earth. The possibilities are endless! is the worldbuilding.

I was writing book two when I realized that I couldn't keep going on like this, making it up as I go along. Because the fact was, I was only making up the bare minimum and it showed.

This was something I sort of realized sitting in Jill Williamson's worldbuilding class and Ronie Kendig's dialogue and subtext class. My characters have so little background, so little culture, so sparse a setting that it's hurting the rest of the book. There is no richness to the backdrop, there is no flavor to their speech.

So I've been worldbuilding. Sometimes it's fun. Sometimes it's like pulling teeth. Especially since I'm doing three worlds at once (Mitchell's homeworld, the world with Acktorek, and the world their mission is in). But it's necessary.

My only issue is speech. I have the hardest time coming up with phrases and making up slang words to fit these cultures. But I'm determined not to have Mitchell sound American or Emma sound like a southerner, so I'll get there. Eventually.

And my stories will be better off for it.

P.S. Why is it so incredibly difficult to find pictures of Dickensian London? There are five hundred thousand British period dramas out there! Where are all the Pinterest pictures?

Monday, October 7, 2019

No Man Cover Reveal

We're getting a new Firmament book next week! *does happy dance* It's been two years—TWO YEARS!!!—since the last Firmament book, which is way, way, WAY too long. Especially when SPOILER FOR BOOKS 4 & 5 ANDI IS DYING! END SPOILER Problem is, I'll get to the end, and then I'll have to wait AGAIN for the next book. And for whichever book Elasson will be in. Grace has promised me he'll be back at some point.

Oh, goodness, the nostalgia that just swept over me as I looked at the cover for Radialloy and read my review. Has it really been six years since I discovered the awesomeness that is books written by Grace? And here we are, getting book 6, and I just know it's going to be amazing. I've got the cover and synopsis for you, but I'm going to make you scroll through the previous books first, because I'm just feeling like that today. ;) Click on the pictures for my reviews and purchase links.

And coming October 15th!

She doesn’t have much longer to live.

Losing the last of the radialloy puts Andi’s life in immediate danger and sends her, August, and the Doctor rushing towards the demolished Qandon system in search of more. Their speeder is crippled, a powerful man is desperate to stop them -- and they are running out of time.

Meanwhile, Crash has escaped from prison and is hiding somewhere in Hungary, hunted by assassins who have instructions to kill him if Andi and the others don’t return to Earth in one week. The only person on Earth who can help him is Guilders, who very nearly despises him.

Is there more radialloy out there? Can Crash and Guilders make it to safety? And will Andi ever be able to return to the way of life that she loves so much?

It's going to be awesome!

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

'Twas an Evening in Bethlehem Review

'Twas an Evening in Bethlehem is here!

‘Twas an evening in Bethlehem and all through the day
Many guests were arriving from far, far away...

The inn is full, but when a young, expectant couple arrives, the innkeeper cannot turn them away. Follow this beloved tale through the eyes of the innkeeper’s young daughter as she witnesses the glorious surprises of that very first Christmas and rediscover anew the gift of the manger that ultimately points us to the cross.

My Review 

If you're looking for a new Christmas book (and even if you're not), this is a beautiful retelling of the true story of Christmas. It's written in verse, much like The Night Before Christmas, but it's all about what Christmas is really about. The illustrations are beautiful and wonderfully painted. I highly recommend it.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Free eBook!

I have an announcement to make! The new edition of Espionage: A Companion to Time Captives is here and the eBook is free to newsletter subscribers! All you have to do is sign up, and you'll get to download the book in the format of your choice.

Already a subscriber? You get something extra! What, you might ask? Keep an eye on your inbox tomorrow and you'll find out. ;)

Also, if you subscribe before midnight, October 15th, you are eligible to win a paperback of the brand new edition of Espionage!

I'm sure you would like to see the cover. I'm super excited about it. So here it is!

About the Book

“Sir Roland has invited us to visit for the Autumn Feast.”

“Do we have to go, Papa? I couldn’t feast with the most crooked politician in all of Briznom.”

As the daughter of a Briznomian vassal lord, Vannie Cumberland has spent her childhood immersed in the world of politics. Relations between Briznom and the neighboring country of Calhortz are
strained due to the tyrannical rule of the strytes. A proposed alliance could calm relations between the two countries, but would come at the cost of Briznom’s freedom.

When her father’s political archenemy invites them to the Autumn Feast, Vannie uncovers an evil scheme endangering the life of someone close to her. Personal enmity comes to a dangerous head as Vannie struggles to expose the corruption and stop the alliance. Time is running out.

Events are becoming too big for her to handle. Will Sir Roland’s son help or will things finally spiral out of control?

A tale of treachery and political intrigue in a turbulent time, Espionage is a companion novel that sets the stage for Crannig Castle, the final installment of the Time Captives trilogy.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Thirst Cover Reveal

I have a cover reveal for Jill Williamson's upcoming book today! As you know, I'm a huge fan of Replication and the Blood of Kings trilogy, and of Jill herself. Jill's so awesome! So I'm super excited to share her new cover with you. The book is called Thirst and it's a prequel to The Safe Lands trilogy, which I haven't read yet, but really want to read. (Naturally, I must read all her books.)

Before I give you the amazing cover, here's a little bit about the book:
The end of the world is only the beginning. A waterborne disease has contaminated the world’s fresh water, decimating the human race. Seventeen-year-old Eli McShane and his friends flee the chaos and violence in Phoenix and journey north toward the rumored location of a safe water source. They add several to their number, including the mysterious Hannah, who is being hunted by a dangerous man. Desperation brings out the worst in many of the travelers, infecting even those closest to Eli. When division comes, will he be able to hold his group together or will each fall victim to their own thirst for survival?

Join some old friends from Glenrock and Jack's Peak in this thrilling first book of the Thirst Duology. Best-selling author Jill Williamson has brought back the breathtaking suspense of the The Safe Lands series in this chilling prequel that will leave readers panting for the next installment.

 Doesn't it sound awesome? I can't wait to read it! It'll be here in November!

So here's the beauty in several angles.

Isn't it amazing? I just really need to hold it in my hands right now. November won't get here fast enough!

Monday, September 23, 2019

Do Not Fear

     "To save yourself some hurt, you hurt yourself? What kind of way is that to live?"
     She shrugged one shoulder. "A safe way?"
     He released a gusty laugh. "Is this what you call safe? It's not a safe way, Sparrow, it's a pathetic and lonely way. Sparrow, sometimes life is scary. Get over it, and live."
From Darkness Won by Jill Williamson

I've been thinking a lot about fear lately, because of this and a few other things. Because fear tends to be such a constant part of life. And something that can so easily hold us back from what God wants us to do.

I can't say much about the context of this quote because of major spoilers, but let this suffice: Sparrow has been running from what she's supposed to do because of fear. Fear of all the possible ways it could be or could go wrong. Some of those fears are legitimate, but in giving in to her fear, she's not trusting that God is stronger than those things.


It's so easy to give in to fear. So easy to do nothing because the path ahead of us is scary and unknown and we might fail. News flash: you're going to fail sometimes. But it's better to try and fail than to sit at home doing nothing out of fear. 

I received my first rejection letter a few weeks ago. It's disappointing. It's painful. It's hard not to give in to despair and "I'm a terrible writer" and just give up. But isn't it better that I tried? I'm not going to give up. Yes, it was terrifying going to Realm Makers and pitching my book to professionals. So many times I wanted to back out and just sit at home doing nothing. But I'm so glad I went. So glad I pitched my book, even though so far all that's come out of it is a rejection letter. Because I didn't give in to fear. I learned so much prepping for the conference, in the sessions at the conference, I met so many people, I got to spend time with friends I might never have gotten to meet otherwise. I don't know what God's going to use this experience for down the road, but even with a rejection letter, I'm so glad I didn't let the fear win.

I have to be perfectly honest and say that when I got that rejection letter, I wanted to give up. I was very much tempted to let that failure define me, stop me, end my journey. But I'm not going to do that.

You can learn from failure. I learned things from my pitch appointments. I'm even learning things from the rejection letter as I reflect on the book. It's all in your perspective. In believing like Thomas Edison that we have only found 10,000 ways not to make a light bulb. As Christy Wright says in Business Boutique, "Failure isn't fun but, believe it or not, it's actually a good thing. That's because failure is a sign you're out there, you're trying, and unlike so many people, you're actually doing something."

God knows that we're far from perfect. He knows that as hard as we try, we're still going to make mistakes. And He is sovereign over it all.

And know what? Sometimes we don't fail. I'd submitted Creighton Hill to Readers' Favorite for a review, and about a week after I got my rejection letter, I got an email that my review was ready. I couldn't remember my login, so I couldn't check it on my phone at work, and, still struggling with the emotions from the rejection, I was terrified to read the review. I was literally writing a bad review of Creighton Hill in my head as I waited for my computer to boot up after work, preparing myself for what I was about to read. And I got a five star review! Which puts my book in visible places on their website, gives me a medallion to put on the cover, and gives me a positive editorial review to use any way I want. And if I'd given in to my fear and not read the review (I really didn't want to read it), I wouldn't even know.


So let's think about it. How much do you really learn from giving in to fear?

Maybe that you don't think God is powerful enough to use both your strengths and weaknesses, your successes and failures for His glory?

Because that's really what you're doing when you give in to fear. You're saying, "Yes, God, I know that You created the entire universe by speaking it into existence, but I don't really trust that You are powerful enough to take care of all the things about this situation that are scaring me. I don't really trust that You are in control and will use it for Your glory no matter the outcome." And frankly, that kind of attitude is wrong.

I'm not saying I've never had that kind of attitude. God has taught me a lot about trust these last few years as I mentioned in this post. But that fear, that lack of trust is wrong. It's cowardly. And it means that you're letting the devil hold you back. 

Yeah, you might be scared. That's life. Do it anyway. If you wait until you feel completely ready and totally fearless, you'll never do anything. Bravery isn't not being scared. It's doing it anyway.

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."

Who wants us to be too scared to step out of the boat and do the things God set before us? I'd say it's pretty obvious that it's the devil who wants us to do that. So long as we sit scared, thinking about things instead of doing them, we're not furthering God's kingdom. We're letting the devil win. And we can't do that.


Furthermore, the Bible says over and over again not to fear. Yes, fear is a normal part of being human. But it's also part of our sin nature. According to the Westminster Shorter Catechism, "Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God." And explanation of terms from the Catechism for Young Children: "What is meant by want of conformity? Not doing what God requires. What is meant by transgression? Doing what God forbids." God tells us not to fear. If we give in to that fear, let it overcome and control us instead of trusting in Him as He tells us repeatedly to do, then in my book, we're not doing what God requires and instead doing what God forbids. Now, like any sin and temptation, we can't overcome it without the power of God, but that's a discussion for another day.

God can overcome our fear. We can trust that He has it all taken care of. We can step out of the boat, do the scary thing, and leave the results to God. Because He has a plan for it. Everything that happens will be part of God's plan. We're as safe in battle as we are in bed. So do not fear.

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." —Joshua 1:9

"Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." —Isaiah 41:10

"When I am afraid, I put my trust in you." —Psalm 56:3
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." —Proverbs 3:5-6

"But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior." —Isaiah 43:1-3a


So yes, life is scary sometimes. Giving in to that fear and hiding from what God wants you to do might feel safe, but it's pathetic and lonely. Life is scary. Get over it and live.

And if you haven't read Blood of Kings yet, I don't know what you're doing with your life.