Monday, July 26, 2021

Realm Makers 2021 Recap

Realm Makers was awesome! Still one of the best experiences of my life. There's nothing quite like Realm Makers. 

Before the conference started on Thursday, I, my sister, and our other roommates, Jaye L. Knight and Tricia Mingerink, went over to the St. Louis Science Center. It was cool and we had a good time hanging out. Then it was time for the conference!

Frank Peretti's keynote was really inspiring, and I had no idea he was so hilarious! He talked a lot about having a long term perspective rather than being focused on the difficulties of our current circumstances and really, about how God knows what He's doing. The things that seem bad now may actually turn out to be the best things for us. We don't want to end up marrying Hephzibah. πŸ˜‰ It was also really great having a mentor session with Frank Peretti. Tricia hadn't gotten an appointment, so I invited her to come along to mine just as she'd invited me on her appointment to see Jill Williamson last time. I really enjoy doing mentor sessions together. It's a lot of fun. And we had a good conversation that reminded me to go back to the basics when plotting my stories. I really think I've been overcomplicating things.

With Frank Peretti after my mentor session

Kara Swanson's Shadow launch party was a lot of fun, though I didn't get any pictures. I still need to read Dust, but I'm certainly planning on it! It's been on my (way too massive) library to read list for awhile and I'm looking forward to it. So many books, so little time!

I went to all of Caleb Breakey's marketing sessions, and they were good. The biggest takeaway I had was that we should all be ourselves. God made us unique from each other. He put His thumbprint on each one of us. We can admire other authors, but we can't be them. We have to stick to the truth of who we are. If we try  to be someone else other than who God made us to be, we'll only be miserable.

Also, I met Nadine Brandes!!! She is so super awesome! I even got a hug. 😊 Yes, I carted all five of her (not exactly small) books to St. Louis and had them signed. I had to! My backpack was a lot lighter once I took them and my signed Frank Peretti books back to the room...  Seriously, though, meeting Nadine was one of the big highlights of the whole experience.

Nadine is so awesome!

Speaking of meeting authors...

My sister and me with Dave Wolverton/David Farland!

This is Dave Wolverton, author of The Courtship of Princess Leia and Jedi Apprentice: The Rising Force! I've met a for real Star Wars author! We didn't realize it was him beforehand since he was listed as David Farland, which is the name under which he writes fantasy. But yes, it's the same guy, and yeah, we were totally fangirling over his Star Wars books when we went to meet him. I haven't been able to watch his sessions yet (he was in the room they were having trouble streaming and I've been too busy playing with our new kitten to watch them even if they were available last week, though as of yesterday, they're finally up), but my sister went to them and they sound pretty awesome. He was really cool and my only regret is that I didn't realize ahead of time who he was and order a copy of The Courtship of Princess Leia to have signed.

My favorite sessions were Carla Hoch's. She's hilarious ("No one's getting stabbed sloppy on my watch." "This is a bullet wound. It's all cleaned up and ready for church.") and super informative. She taught three classes on wounds and fighting and they were all really cool...in spite of some graphic wound pictures. 😝 She initially took one self defense class because she needed to write a fight scene, and then she just kept on taking classes on all kinds of different fighting techniques and learning about all kinds of different injuries. She wrote Fight Write to share her knowledge and help other authors with their fight scenes, and I can't wait to dive into it! Also, I had a really productive mentor session with her where she helped me brainstorm some much needed worldbuilding for Acktorek: The Vanished. She's great.

At my mentor session with Carla Hoch

Of course I have to talk about the awards banquet. It was so much fun! SOOOOOO many people stopped us for a picture. It was great. I even had a little boy (who was dressed as the Eleventh Doctor) ask me "Are you Obi-Wan?" Certainly made me happy. 😊 And mostly it was fun because it was a thing we did together. I mean, the four of us did a lot of things together (including eating at Fuzzy's probably a few more times than was good for us), but doing a group cosplay is tons of fun. And there were lots of other great costumes as well. My favorites were probably Kate Wetherall, Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope, and of course Baby Toothless and Family (Hiccup and Astrid). I mean, how can you really beat a baby dressed as Toothless? It was the most adorable thing. And some really awesome-sounding books won awards! Between my sister and I, we brought several of them home, and I can't wait to dive into them!

Rex, Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Ahsoka before the banquet
AKA Tricia, Addy, Me, Jaye

The book festival was fun too. Chocolate covered strawberries and meeting Sara Ella who was also really awesome and hanging out with my friends and chatting with fellow Realmies and just wishing it wasn't all about to end. Then Addy, Jaye, Tricia, and I went out to the fountain to chat about everything from our characters to the Bible, again, trying to forget that it was coming to an end.

With Sara Ella at the book festival

The worst part of Realm Makers is saying goodbye. It's a really unique group of people, and there's really nowhere else that's just as (if not more) focused on building your faith as on building your writing craft and author platform. And Jaye and Tricia are some of my very best friends. I'm very glad we text each other all the time, but it's not the same as hanging out in person for days, talking about everything under the sun, learning new things, meeting cool people, and building up and supporting each other. But alas, the time always comes to go home.

Last picture before going home 😒

Still, I now know that I am capable of driving halfway across the country, even through cities (though I'm still not sure I'm ready to tackle downtown Atlanta...metro is enough for now). I may not like it, but I can survive. And audiobooks like William Shakespeare's Star Wars and Thrawn: Alliances make the drive much better.

And then last Tuesday we got a kitten! I know it's not really Realm Makers related, but I have to mention him, because he's super cute and 100% the reason I haven't gotten much done this week. He's sleeping on me as I'm writing this, and it's the sweetest thing ever. His name is Pippin after Peregrine Took, his birthday is Star Wars Day, and even though I've never been much of a cat person, I already love him dearly. 


Pippin watching The Clone Wars πŸ˜

Monday, July 12, 2021

Costume Pictures, Realm Makers is Almost Here, and I Actually Wrote Something!

 Yeah, I don't have a fun, snappy title for this.

Anyway, I passed my last CLEP test last week, so I've gotten back into writing. It's not going as fast as I wish it would, since I'm blazing a new trail right now, but it's interesting, and, as my friend reminded me, "books are written one word at a time." Still, I'm determined to finish this draft of The Vanished before I start school in mid August. I really want to have it done by then. And maybe this time the second half will work well enough to just edit.

There's my writing update. Can you tell I've already killed my brain with studying? 

Anyway, Realm Makers is THIS WEEK!!! I CANNOT WAIT. 

But I know what you really want to see after that title. Costumessssssss.

I finished them! And of course my sister and I had to try imitating the poses from the Revenge of the Sith promo photos. Which was fun. If you're on my email list, you've already seen some of these, but I have more. Here ya go. Let me know in the comments what you think!

Monday, June 21, 2021

Interview with C.E. Stone, Author of Starganauts

Today C.E. Stone is visiting my blog to talk about her new Christian space opera, Starganauts! I haven't read it yet, but it sounds pretty cool. I mean, how could it not? She was inspired by Star Wars and LOTR. 😊

First, a little bit about the book.


Kaity Anderson was a new bride on her wedding day. Samantha Harris was an engineer who had given up all to follow God.

Kaity’s reception is ruined when an alien gunship incinerates the surface of Earth. Rescued from the apocalypse by a strange prophetess, Kaity, her husband, and five others are drawn across the galaxy. While the prophetess promises God has a plan, Kaity grows increasingly desperate as their chances of survival—and water supply—dwindle.

Samantha didn’t ask to be God’s prophetess. Yet once she answers the call, the Spirit leads her to an inhospitable world with Kaity and several of Earth’s survivors. Hounded by the master of the gunship, the Earthlings search for water as their alien pursuers and dehydration close in. Only God’s promise of a future in a distant city gives Samantha any hope of survival. But could the answer to all their problems lie in eight, mysterious orbs? The discovery of these crystals will change their lives—and the destiny of galaxies—forever.

Thus begins Starganauts, a clean, compelling Christian space opera adventure by C.E. Stone. Fans of Star Wars and Star Trek will enjoy this series that explores how God’s plan prevails, even against impossible odds.


And now for the interview!

Where did you get the idea for Starganauts?

I can’t give you a single source. The idea first came to me as I was playing Legos as a child, and grew as I continued watching many sci-fi shows and movies. Star Wars, Star Trek, Starcraft, Lord of the Rings, and Titan A.E. all influenced it. I grew up with the first 2 franchises, which cultivated my love of sci-fi. “Knights of the Old Republic,” in particular, inspired some of my characters’ backstories. The Lord of the Rings inspired me to create an expansive history and universe. The video game Starcraft influenced my actual stories and peoples, as I literally created Starganauts stories using their world-builder and making mock video game campaigns. Titan A.E. is where the premise comes from: the end of Earth was their beginning.

Which of the characters is most like you?

Kaity Anderson. I’ve often been described as empathetic, cheerful, and an encourager. I like to be there for others in hard times. Yet I’m timid by nature, I don’t like being in the spotlight, and change is hard for me. My character Kaity is very much like this. She’s a quiet, behind-the-scenes encourager. She likes to make sure everyone is okay, and she prefers a predictable life. Indeed, the only great differences in our personalities are that I’m a fairly content/cheerful person and I don’t have trouble letting go of the past. Kaity is discontent, struggling to accept reality and move on from the loss of what she wanted her life to be.

What was the hardest part of writing this book? The easiest part?

Figuring out the science. I have a great love for science, and God’s creation continually blows my mind. Unfortunately, I have a terrible memory for scientific facts! I can read about infrared sensors and 100% understand how they work, in the moment. 15 minutes later, I’ve forgotten most of what I just read, so I have to reread everything again to incorporate scientific elements into my story. I lean heavily on my husband to help me, because facts and data are my weakness. He’s got a brain wired for science, and will give me answers that often blend actual science with theoretical. It helps immensely when I’m writing space opera.

The easiest part was world-building. I’d already created a rich history, distinct worlds, and varied aliens over 7 years of Lego play. It was super fun finally realizing all these cultures and planets on the page. I also enjoyed updating some of my sillier childhood ideas, making them sound plausible or even cool. I enjoy world-building and, if anything, I have to scale back from including TOO much detail. πŸ˜‚

What is your favorite thing about writing?

Writing is a way I connect with God and glorify Him through my words. My favorite moments are when I’m typing away and the Holy Spirit suddenly fills my mind with an idea. I know it’s totally not what I had planned, but I go with it…and the result is an incredible scene. Consequently, my favorite thing about writing is being inspired by the Holy Spirit. And those exact scenes are often the ones that touch people the most.

What do you hope readers get out of Starganauts?

That God works through even the most impossible odds. He is living and active in our lives, and has a plan and a purpose for us. That He can bring beauty out of the deepest tragedy and that He loves us, not for what we accomplish on our own strength, but for the simple fact that He made us. Our identity rests securely in Him.

Those are the messages I hope to convey as an encouragement to fellow Christians. For those who aren’t believers, if they do read my book, I hope to demonstrate that Jesus is real, relevant, and that His grace and mercy are only a prayer away.

Thanks for interviewing me and for your fantastic questions!

You're welcome! It was great to have you!


Make sure you go check out Starganauts!  

Monday, June 7, 2021

Observations As I Study Biology

This is where my brain is right now. But hey, I've passed two CLEPs so far, so I'm making progress.

I can't say I've always loved science. I kind of hated it before we discovered Apologia, though I do remember enjoying my report on cuts and the presentation my sister and I did on the digestive system, complete with a hand drawn diagram named "Mary the Body Girl." Still, it was when we discovered Apologia that I decided I loved science. (The first Apologia book I did was the elementary astronomy course, and then I went into General Science and the rest of the high school books. Anatomy is HARD. But I still did it because it was my elective that I chose because I'd finished the required sciences, didn't want to go my senior year without science, and Apologia doesn't have a high school astronomy course. But I digress.) Science is awesome and super cool and extremely fascinating. And brushing up on biology for my CLEP, I'm rediscovering why I loved it so much in school.

So a couple of observations.

1. Writing style really matters, even in school books. Maybe especially in school books. I'm rereading my high school textbook and also using some online CLEP-specific resources to study. They're all covering the same basic information, but I have to say, Apologia is my favorite. It's the most engaging, you can tell Dr. Wile actually cares about what he's writing about, and I get the most out of it. Dry recitations of facts aren't enough. You have to actually engage your audience.

2. Worldview really does affect your interpretation. Obviously, Apologia is Creation-based science. These other materials most certainly are not. Thing is, they present the same data, the same processes, the same facts. Mitosis is mitosis, no matter if you're a creationist or a secular scientist. However. There are big differences in how things get interpreted. The thing that stands out most to me is how in the secular texts they keep saying how the common elements/structures/etc. between different types of living things are evidence for a common ancestor. Whereas I look at it and see evidence for a common Designer. Just like writers have unique quirks, certain tropes they tend to use, and so on, you would expect for life designed by one Creator to have the same building blocks. But these building blocks can create incredibly diverse organisms that truly are mind-blowing.

3. Biology really is mind boggling. Seriously. Even the "simplest" of lifeforms is INCREDIBLY complex. Heck, even the simplest protein is extremely complex and specific. Not only is it mind boggling to me how these atoms fit together to make molecules which work together to make cells which combine and reproduce and process food into energy to create larger organisms which can think and do all kind of things, it's mind boggling to me that people can really believe it happened by accident. If even one amino acid in a protein is wrong, life won't work right. And the odds of that simplest protein assembling accidently in that precise way is roughly the same as the probability of a poker player drawing a royal flush 19 times in a row. And that's only if we limit the available amino acids to the 17 in that protein. Basically, successfully navigating an asteroid field is child's play compared to the odds of life happening by accident. Makes me want to go reread Yellow & Pink. It really does take more faith to believe in evolution than creation.

4. There's an element to life that just can't be explained in scientific terms. See, as I read about molecular biology and biochemistry and cells and enzymes and everything, it all seems abstract and like it's missing something. Like you could put those pieces together, but it takes something else to make it truly alive. And as I'm typing this, I'm thinking back to the creation of the Middle Earth dwarves in The Silmarillion. Forgive me that I don't remember which of the Valar made them. I guess I'm not enough of a LOTR nerd. But this member of the Valar created dwarves which were really just puppets. They'd do stuff when he made them act, but they weren't truly alive until IllΓΊvatar breathed life into them. There's a spiritual and supernatural aspect to life. God formed Adam, I'm sure creating and arranging all the atoms and molecules and cells and everything, and then He breathed life into him. Scientists will never be able to replicate that. And someday I will finish reading The Silmarillion.

5. This is why I love science fiction. As I read about biology (specifically things like cloning and viruses and GMOs), it gets the wheels of my imagination turning just like it used to when I was a teenager. I love biological experimentation oriented sci-fi, and things like cloning, biological experimentation, and eugenics fascinate me in a dystopian kind of way. Yes, I do have some vague plans for Acktorek books involving biological warfare/experimentation. I just...have to figure out the plots. Right now I've only got concepts. There's just so much scope for imagination in science, speculating on where things could go and contemplating the ethics of such developments. It so makes me want to write.

So these are the things that have been going through my head lately. Someday these things will come out in new science fiction novels, I'm sure. And in the meantime, science is awesome. Go read some Apologia (but make sure you get editions written by Dr. Wile).

Monday, May 24, 2021

Why I'm Going To College

I had this whole post written up about why I'm going to college, how it's never too late to follow your dreams, yada, yada, yada. And now that I'm ready to make the official announcement...I'm not going to post it. Because as time has gone on, I've felt the conviction that I just need to be real with y'all. This is not my dream.

See, if my life went the way I'd planned it, I'd have gotten married at 22, started having kids pretty much right away, I'd be selling lots of books, have a solid, steady music studio, and be looking forward to being a homeschool mom once my kids get old enough. As it is, I'm 25 and still solidly single and childless, book sales are difficult to sustain, between COVID, kids growing up, and families moving away my music studio has dwindled (though I'm still incredibly grateful for the students I still have), and being a homeschool mom is nowhere in sight.

I've never been against college as an institution. All I've been against is shoving everyone into college when that's not the right path for everyone. I believe we should all discover what God wants us to do, and then get the training/jump through the hoops to do that. For some that's college. For others it's technical school. For some that might look more like learning a trade in an old fashioned apprenticeship-style method. For some that might be getting married at 22, becoming a mom right away, and using abilities in the arts to work from home.

And there might be different methods for different stages of life.

I know I wasn't supposed to go to college straight out of high school. For one thing, if I had, I'd probably have majored in something like creative writing, which tbh, would be pretty useless for paying rent and putting food on the table. And I'd still be looking at going back now for something more useful. I've learned a lot in these past seven years since my high school graduation. I've learned a lot about violin, about writing, about book design, about people, about teaching, about life, about myself, and most importantly about God. And I've learned it in a way that I couldn't have if I'd gone straight to college. So while I often wish that I'd come to this decision sooner so I wouldn't have to go through college now, I don't regret the path God has taken me through, particularly in the last six years since we moved from my childhood home. Has it been easy? Not at all. Has some of it been painful? You bet. But I look back on all the people I've had in my life in these years (even if only for a short while), at the things I've done and learned and the lives I've touched at the library, of the various music students I've taught, of the friendships I've built, of the books I've written, and I wouldn't exchange it for anything.

But it's time to move into that next stage of life.

I'm not giving up writing. I'm never giving up writing. In fact, I firmly believe that God prevented me from pursuing this path two years ago when I first started to seriously consider it because I would have been giving up writing and running away from everything that was making life difficult and painful. Now, I have a different attitude. Writing is a calling God placed on me when I was a child, and it's something that I can't walk away from. But so is teaching. And while I love teaching music and intend to keep doing it as long as God allows, I know it's not the extent to which I am supposed to teach.

So what am I doing and why?

I'm going to Kennesaw State University, starting this fall, to major in elementary ed, with the intention of completing the degree in three years. I'm also planning to CLEP out of several classes this summer, so even though I don't technically start until mid August, I'm already studying.

And why? Well, I can't deny that part of it is financial. Reality is, as much as I love the library, it just doesn't pay enough to sustain a single income household, and I don't think it's right for me to expect my dad to foot the majority of my bills indefinitely just because my life choices result in an income too small for me to live on my own. Being female doesn't give me the right to expect someone else to pay for my life, particularly as a single woman. We're not called to idleness. I mean, look at the Proverbs 31 woman. She had several successful home businesses.

But the bigger thing is, this is where God is leading me for this next phase of my life. How long will it be? I have no idea. Does God have marriage and children in my future at all? I also have no idea. But what I do know is that God has given me an ability and a desire to teach children, and that in more than just music, and I can't just let that fall by the wayside because God hasn't put me in a place where I have my own children to homeschool. So it's time to jump through those hoops and get the training needed to teach elementary school. And it's time for me to really trust God that He knows what He's doing with my life, even if it's the complete opposite of what I always expected.

And don't worry, I'm still working on Acktorek 2: The Vanished, albeit slowly. I really can't make any promises on timeline, but I'm not going to abandon it and I really am hoping to somehow get this one out while I'm still in school. But again, I can't make any promises because I just don't know how things are going to play out.

In closing, I want to share with you a song that's really meant a lot to me over the last year or so. God really does know what He's doing.


Now I'm off to go relearn logarithms for this algebra CLEP.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Good Soldiers Follow Orders

No, this isn't a Bad Batch review (though it's totally awesome so far and you should absolutely 100% go watch it). It's just a good illustration of some things I've been thinking about lately.

Good soldiers follow orders.


How often do you make your own decisions? And I'm not talking about whether to wear a green shirt or a blue one today, or whether to eat eggs or a blueberry muffin for breakfast. I'm talking about real decisions. Ones that affect what you believe, how you live your life. And how often do you just do X because someone in authority or someone you respect said so or because you've been taught just to obey without question? How often do you personally test the things you've been told before you adopt them as your own belief?

I know most of us like to think of ourselves as rebels, as independent thinkers, but how many of us are really? And how many of us just pick which authority we want to follow and trust that if we do what they say everything will turn out fine?

I see it everywhere, good soldiers following orders. People getting outraged because the media said to be outraged over said thing. People complying because a supposed authority said this will keep them safe, even if it's directly contradictory to what was said last week. People raising their kids according to a strict standard of rules because their religious leader said if they do that their kids will automatically turn out great.

And you know what? It never seems to turn out the way they say. Instead, more and more rules and regulations get piled on, people just accept more and more, until they find themselves in a disaster and wonder how that happened. It's because good soldiers follow orders. And because, like the proverbial frog in the boiling water, it happened gradually. They never start with the things that are blatantly wrong.

None of us actually have inhibitor chips conditioning us to follow orders without question, though sometimes I wonder. Because it does seem like a lot of us have been conditioned to follow one authority or another without question.

I'm not saying that all authority is bad. I'm not saying "children defy your parents" because that's obviously unbiblical. And I'm not even saying there aren't situations where it's important to obey immediately without asking "why?"

In fact, when I was little, probably about four or so, I got the "obey immediately" lesson. We were out in our backyard when my parents told me to go inside immediately. I, being the person I am, asked "why?" They made me go inside anyway, invoking the story from Little House where Ma slapped a bear and told Laura to go inside immediately (and Laura did it). Turns out, there was a skunk outside and obviously my parents didn't want anyone getting sprayed by a skunk. (No one did, thankfully.) And there are situations far more dangerous than getting sprayed by a skunk where it's important to obey immediately. My sister's example is of when Maul tries to run over Anakin with a speeder bike.


That said, it was never really an "obey now, end of story." It was "obey now and it'll get explained once this immediate danger is past."

If it's always and forever "Just because I said so" no one learns to make their own decisions. No one learns how to have discernment. Everyone's just, well, sheep.

Because the truth is, there is only one absolute, infallible authority. And that's God. Everyone else, well, news flash, they're not right 100% of the time. Even the wisest, most knowledgeable, most spiritual leader gets stuff wrong. And reality is, most of the leaders people follow aren't the wisest, most knowledgeable, most spiritual people. They're just the most convincing people who are great at marketing. And often they're doing it for power and money. Just look at all the prominent people with huge followings that have big scandals come out.

"But my leader isn't like that!" you might protest. "He's wise and studies the Bible intensively and really cares about me." Or "my parents are great, and they've been great role models and I really trust their judgement." 

That may be entirely true. I'm not saying don't respect those people, don't listen to them, don't value their insight. What I'm saying is don't take it as Gospel truth. Don't follow blindly. They're human. They're fallible. They will get things wrong, just like you will get things wrong. Test everything according to Scripture before you make up your mind. Do your own research.

I don't know if I have any parents reading this blog, but if I do, parents, you're not doing your kids any favors if you don't teach them to think for themselves. Don't just say "this is what we believe, this is what we do because I said so." You're setting them up to fail. Teach them to test things, to use critical thinking, to do research, to compare everything with Scripture. I've seen it far too many times where kids aren't taught to think for themselves, and they end up picking the wrong thing to blindly follow.

Blindly following is the easy path. But it's not the Biblical one. You have to test everything.

"The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so."
—Acts 17:10-11
"Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear."
—Thomas Jefferson
 In short, use your brain. There are too many people out there trying to control you, misguide you, lead you astray, whether intentionally or unintentionally, for you to follow blindly. Question with boldness. Things that are actually true will hold up under scrutiny. I promise.

And in closing, I want to share a conversation from Legacy of the Force: Betrayal by Aaron Allston I found especially relevant and interesting.

Ben: I hear kids say they hate it when their parents say Do this because I say so. Sometimes I think they have it easy.
Mara: I suspect they do. Of course, they don't get to run all over the galaxy and practice with live lightsabers.
Ben: Yeah, I guess. But thinking is hard. And kind of unfair. There never seems to be a right answer.
Luke: That's it. There never seems to be a right answer is a right answer.
Ben: Oh.
Mara: Watch out for people who tell you they know the right answer. They may think they do, but often they're wrong. Or they may just know that thinking is so hard, many people don't want to do it. They want a leader they can trust . . . so they don't have to do the hard work of thinking. That's one type of leader you don't want to follow.
Good soldiers may follow orders, but wise ones test them first.

“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves."
—Matthew 10:16

Monday, April 26, 2021

NaNo's Almost Over

And I almost forgot I was supposed to have a blog post this week. I'm ahead, but planning on trying to keep going at this pace until I finish this book. Almost to the midpoint. And I'm still liking how it's going. It seems more solid and consistent, though I don't know how that'll hold up in the second half where I'm planning to make a number of changes.

Well, I say planning, but the changes are vague pictures in my head, so there'll be a lot of making it up as I go along. Really, though, I do have a better understanding of what's going on in the story and why, and of some things I forgot to touch on before, I just don't know exactly how it's all going to play out. Don't worry, I'm still planning on doing the horrible things to Mitchell I did last draft. πŸ˜‰

Have some snippets.

I heave a sigh and shake off [Mitchell's] hand. “Grace is making it exceptionally difficult to pack. You and Brian are both going to get it for not backing me up. She’s sent me five hundred million different options for bridesmaid dresses, and that’s not even counting flower arrangements and wedding dresses. And she doesn’t seem to understand that I have something actually important to do right now.”

“Grace’s wedding is important,” Mitchell says. “It is only important in a different way from our mission.”

I snort. “Sure, getting married is important, but flowers? Who cares about flowers?”

oOo 


“She’s asking for my opinion on flowers,” Emma groans. “If it was up to me, there wouldn’t be any flowers.”

I choose to refrain from responding to the statement. “How is the conversion process progressing?”

Emma snorts. “It’d be a lot faster if I didn’t have to manually check each one for accuracy. But some of their clerks have horrendous handwriting, and it’s super difficult to decipher the letters when the translator can’t even identify them. I mean, at least Ebrarian alphabet isn’t all that different from Arabic. This stuff? It’s a mess.”

oOo 


He kneels down to her level. “My name iss Mitchell. We have come to help.”

Gia flashes a gap-toothed smile up at me. “I know. She tole me. And ain’t that what Acktorek’s for?”

Yeah, that’s what it’s supposed to be for. But that isn’t always reality.

No, Delma’s in jail. Breach control was pretty much cleaned out. Things aren’t like that anymore. But then, they never should have been in the first place.

oOo 


I narrow my eyes. “What about doctor/patient confidentiality?”

“She did not provide specifics, but she was required to provide the department with a statement prior to your approval for duty.”

I drop my gaze. Not really feeling betrayed, but I still don’t think Dr. Wilset is right. How could she be?

Without any kind of warning, Mitchell pulls me into his arms again. I curl into his chest, relishing his warmth and solidity. I know I’d fall apart completely without him. I still feel like I’m falling apart even with him. And I still don’t think I’m the best one to help those kids. Or that I’ll be able to care at all for any other person we’re sent to save. But I’m here. We’re here. And somebody has to do it.

“The only certain way to fail is not to attempt it at all,” Mitchell murmurs against my hair.