Monday, May 20, 2019

Almost Done

This is another one of those "I intended to write a blog post, but I was too busy editing Acktorek to actually do it" weeks. I'm getting really close to the end of this draft, which means I can give it to my family to read. (And maybe finally have time to make my Anna dress.) So have another snippet.

P.S. You can still sign up to help spread the word about the new editions of Time Captives. Find the form here.


     She first noticed him when he sat down beside her in math class. He was tall, blond, but other than that, she kept her eyes on her math. Until he said her name.
     “Emma, isn’t it?”
     Emma turned her head to see the young man full on, glancing at her math teacher out of the corner of her eye. Mr. Willman was focused on Chloe, her math-challenged classmate. Emma would be outside of his notice—for better or for worse—for a while yet.
     This young man was new to Gondora Heights Private Academy. She’d gone to school with most of her classmates since she was in kindergarten. And she’d never seen this particular young man before in her life. His face was lean, but not angular, his complexion was fair, his features were well proportioned and his blue eyes were steady. His blond hair just fell over the top of his forehead. He appeared to be well-built and muscular, but not overly bulky. He was naturally dressed in the Gondora Heights uniform: a maroon polo shirt with the school logo embroidered on the left and khakis. Yet somehow it looked different on him than on the other students.
     He leaned his right elbow on the table and twirled his pencil through his fingers. Seeming to notice her scrutinizing gaze, he flashed her a bright smile.
     Emma barely restrained herself from rolling her eyes. “How do you know my name?”
     He gestured toward the top of her paper with his pencil. “It’s not that difficult to figure out.”
     Emma moved her arm to shield her paper from his view. Not that there was anything on it to hide, but she still didn’t like him snooping. “You shouldn’t be looking at other people’s papers. It’s wrong to cheat, you know.”
     “I wasn’t cheating. I just wanted to say hello.”
     “Well, you’ve done it.” He was too close to her—not that it took much to be uncomfortably within her bubble. If it wasn’t likely to attract attention, she’d scoot her chair away. But Emma wasn’t one to purposely attract attention.
     “My name is Mitchell Banks. I’m new to Gondora Heights; staying with my aunt.”
     “Good.” Perhaps if she kept to monosyllabic answers, he would let her attend her math.
     “I feel like a bit of an outsider here. Everyone already knows one another.”
     Emma took a deep breath to cleanse the annoyance from her voice before answering. “It’s a close-knit school. Most of us have been here since kindergarten.”
     “See, that’s what I mean. Do you think you could introduce me around?”
     Emma turned to look at him then, not bothering to wipe her annoyance and surprise from her expression. “Why me?” She darted a quick glance at Mr. Willman, still occupied with Chloe, and almost sighed.
     He shrugged, almost imperceptibly. “You’re smart, you seem like a nice girl, and I thought I’d like to get to know you.”
     Emma snorted. “That’s where you’re wrong. I don’t have the reputation of being a nice girl.”
     “Really?” He closer and lowered his voice further. “Because I would guess they would be the ones without the ‘nice girl’ reputation.” He jerked his head towards Ella Grayson and Hayley Joyce, sitting behind her.
     “You’re not wrong,” she had to admit.
     “What is your reputation?” he asked.
     Emma stiffened. “We’re in a math class. We’re supposed to be doing math.” She didn’t even mind the harshness of her tone or the reproachfulness of her words.
     “Oh.” Mitchell leaned back in his chair. “I guess that’s the kind of reputation you’ve got.”

Monday, May 13, 2019

Time Captives Cover Makeover Internet Blast Sign-up

It's almost time for the new editions of Time Captives! Because these are new editions, not new content, I'm not doing a blog tour, but I do want to get these new covers out there. I'm super duper excited to share them. So will you help me? 

Basically, I want people to post a graphic with the new covers on their blogs and/or social media and link back to me, where I'll have purchase links, a giveaway, and a closeout sale of the old editions.

I'm so excited about these new editions! If you're willing to help me spread the word on social media, please fill out the form below. Thanks!

Monday, May 6, 2019

A Word on Technobabble

Technobabble. Good thing? Bad thing? Neutral thing? What is it anyway?

I've been thinking a good bit about this lately because I'm writing a sci-fi. And sci-fi tends to have a lot of technobabble.

Merriam-Webster defines "technobabble" this way: technical jargon. And then goes on to say: Technobabble was formed by combining techno- (meaning "technical or technological") with babble ("continuous meaningless vocal sounds"), and unsurprisingly suggests language which sounds highly technical and is incomprehensible to the listener. Basically, it's technical/sciencey sounding words that in actuality usually mean absolutely nothing.

Should you use technobabble in a sci-fi? I'd say that depends. Are you writing hard science or speculative sci-fi?

People who like hard science fiction (plausible, technical-based sci-fi) aren't going to want flux capacitors or sonic screwdrivers. They're going to want the stuff that could actually happen. But you know what? If you're writing speculative science fiction, who cares if the hard science people think it's stupid? They aren't your audience. You don't need to pander to them.

Let's think about it. Does any Incredible Hulk fan care that in real life an accidental overdose of gamma radiation would have actually killed Bruce Banner, or at the very least, given him cancer?

Does any Doctor Who fan care that "reverse the polarity of the neutron flow" means absolutely nothing?

Does any Back to the Future fan care that the flux capacitor has no science whatsoever attached to it?

If anyone does legitimately complain about the science or lack thereof in any of these, my response would be to say that they're watching the wrong movie/show.

Fake Science Rules

That said, the science of your technobabble should make sense. Which sounds like an oxymoron. But what I mean is this: it should have rules and you should follow them 100% of the time.

For instance, we may not know how the flux capacitor works, but we do know some very important things. It requires 1.21 gigawatts of power to work, and you have to be traveling at 88 mph. It may not make a lick of sense in actual science, but that's how time travel works and they stick to it. 

Sonic screwdrivers do all these magical things with sound waves, and it's not super clear how that works. I think you think the number of the setting you're using and then point and push the button. It does pretty much everything you could ever need it to do. But it can't do anything about deadlock seals, and it "doesn't do wood." And they stick with that. Now, in "The Day of the Doctor" they do try to get it to develop a setting for wood, but you don't know if it worked because before they try it, Clara opens the door—which was unlocked the entire time.

There's lightsabers. No one knows all the science of how to make a real lightsaber. (If you do, I want one, and so will billions of other people.) But we do know that you need a kyber crystal to power it, and it was a problem with the flux aperture that caused Tru's lightsaber to short out, causing the death of Darra Thel-Tanis. Still not over that one.

The best time travel I've read was Margaret Peterson Haddix's The Missing series. She developed an intricate system of time travel rules and idiosyncrasies, like tracers that show what would have happened without any time travel interference, and time hollows. No, none of it could ever happen, but sticking with her system of rules made it very believable.

Establish rules and stick with them. That's how you make it make sense.

Make it Sound Real

Sprinkle in real science and real science terms as much as possible. Like how Madeleine L'Engle talked about mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cell. Yes, she invented farandolae, but she made it sound good by using real science and jumping off from there.

Or like Margaret Peterson Haddix using "telomeres" for de-aging in Turnabout. No, lengthening telomeres wouldn't actually de-age you, but the only people who get mad about that are the people who shouldn't be reading that kind of science fiction anyway. (And yes there are reviewers complaining about that. So what, she wrote it when the discovery of telomeres was recent and we know for sure that couldn't happen in real life? It's sci-fi.)

I'm sure there's barely any real science at all on The Flash, but they throw in real things like DNA analysis and satellite monitoring and stuff like that that it makes it sound legit. Plus they use dark matter a lot, and people don't really know a whole lot about dark matter. Did you know particle accelerators are real? I just kinda doubt one exploding would give people super powers. But you know what? I don't care. Any more than I care about the gamma rays.

Own It

I consider this one of the most important parts of sci-fi technobabble. Imagine the Doctor saying, "Maybe we should, um...reverse the polarity of...the neutron flow?" Would anyone buy it? Maybe a three-year-old. But when he says it like he means it, you don't question.

If you don't believe it, your readers/viewers won't either. If you say it like you mean it, they're more likely to suspend disbelief.

Make it About the Characters

Technobabble/fake science is a plot device. People want good characters and good stories. We go to speculative sci-fi because we want imaginative stories about people we can care about, not because we want infodumps on imaginary science. Don't overload us. Because honestly, the reason people suspend disbelief on all the way-out-the-window science on Doctor Who is because they love the Doctor. They suspend disbelief on radioactive spider bites because they love Peter Parker. People suspend disbelief on flux capacitors because they love Marty and Doc. It's all about the story. The characters. Creating something that stretches the imagination, and still gives us something relatable. (Like The Incredibles. World's most relatable family.)


So go ahead and use technobabble in your speculative sci-fi. Don't use it for deus ex machina, because people will get mad about that, but you're writing to please the people who love the Avengers and Marty McFly. And those people will buy just about any fake science if they love the story and characters enough.

I know, because I'm one of them.

Speaking of, Endgame was amazing! I love it so much.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Another Acktorek Snippet

I actually have a few blog post ideas, buuuuuuut I don't have time to write them until after NaNo. (I don't have time to go see Endgame until after NaNo either, so boo.) I'm soooooooo close, though. In the meantime, have a snippet.


     Carla’s fingers danced over the smooth piano keys, spilling forth a Bach invention into the empty music room. Mrs. Hartwell, the school’s head music teacher, had procured a braille copy for her, but Carla still preferred to learn by ear. She felt the music more that way. It flowed through her soul.
     The invention finished, she plunged into her own variation of “Amazing Grace.” It delighted Mrs. Hartwell to hear Carla’s variations, and she’d encouraged Carla to write her own song entirely. Carla wasn’t ready for that, any more than she was ready to do without her older sister. She didn’t know how to live without someone to lean on.
     Somehow, “Amazing Grace” morphed into “Let It Go”—she was proud of her versatility, though her more classically trained contemporaries sometimes poked fun.
     And that’s when she first felt it, like a shadow passing over her soul. The hair on her arms prickled, and she was cold. There was a presence. She couldn’t say just what it was. All she knew was that it was evil.
     Carla…
     The voice was inside her, not even necessarily inside her mind, but simply a part of her.
     Carla…
     The room was silent; no sound touched her eardrums. Yet the voice persisted from somewhere deep inside her.
     “No.”
     She stood up quickly, the piano stool crashing against the floor, something falling on the keyboard creating a cacophony of notes. The presence vanished, creating a vacuum not quite physical inside of her.
     The door clicked and swung open. Emma’s presence filled the room, calm and soothing.
     “Car? What’s wrong?”
     Carla drew a deep breath and picked up her book bag. “Nothing. Why would something be wrong?”
     She could feel Emma’s skepticism even before she spoke.
     “You aren’t playing.”
     “I’m ready to go.” She headed towards Emma’s voice, stumbling and nearly falling over the piano stool. Hands reached out to steady her. Two pairs of hands. “Hi, Grace.”
     “Are you sure you’re okay?” Grace asked.
     “Positive.” Whatever had happened, it was over now. She didn’t need to worry about it. Perhaps it had even just been her imagination. Yes, she’d imagined it. She did have a vivid imagination.

Monday, April 22, 2019

I Hadn't Intended to Do NaNo...

...but my goal is to finish draft 2 of Acktorek by the end of April anyway, so I thought I might as well start a project. I'm behind, but I'm determined. And actually, last week I had my best writing day ever with 4,022 words. New words. I'm actually writing a lot more new material than I expected, but it's good. Still a lot of work to do, but I'm liking it. You can see my stats here.

And here, have a snippet.

     She could hear the screaming before she opened the back door. Five minutes. That was all it took. Five measly minutes. And she’d known it and not been careful anyway.
     Steeling herself, she opened the door and stepped into the kitchen. Her mother stood in the middle of the floor, shrieking, reaching for the phone hung on the wall, struggling against Emma’s dad who held her tight. Her mother’s hair was matted and wild. Tears streamed down her face. She struck at Emma’s dad, trying to escape from his firm grasp. He stroked her hair gently, trying to calm her, but to little avail.
     “Livy, it’s okay. She’s fine. It’s okay.” Mr. Edsel’s voice held the practiced deep calm it always did. That placid, in-control tone that never seemed to work, but Emma didn’t want to know what things would be like without it.
     “She’s gone!” Mrs. Edsel shrieked. “My baby!”
     Emma took a deep breath and approached her parents. She put a hand on her mom’s shoulder. “Mom, I’m here. I’m safe. I’m here. You don’t need to call 911. I’m here.”
     “Emma’s here, Livy,” Mr. Edsel jumped in. “She’s right here, safe and sound.”
     Mrs. Edsel stilled for a moment and turned her head towards Emma. Emma met her gaze and tried to hold it. But her mother’s gaze was empty, not registering what she saw. “My baby is gone,” she whimpered.
     “Mom, it’s me. Emma.”
     “Where’s my baby?” She turned back towards Mr. Edsel and beat her fists against his chest. “Where did she go? You let her go and now she’s gone. Where is she?”
     “Livy.” Mr. Edsel grasped both her forearms in one hand, holding her still. “Emma and Carla are both here. Your babies are here. They’re safe.” He looked deep into her eyes, trying to connect with her, to find the part of her that was still lucid. Emma wasn’t entirely sure it existed anymore. “No one’s missing. No one’s hurt. We’re all here.”
     Mrs. Edsel stared at her husband, uncomprehending. “Where?”
     Emma stepped around next to her dad’s shoulder. “Mom.” She grabbed her mom’s shoulder. “I’m here. Right here in front of you.”
     Mrs. Edsel blinked. “Emma?”
     “Yes, Mom. It’s me.”
     “What were you doing outside? You were gone. You could have been killed!” Mrs. Edsel’s voice rose into a shriek.
     “I’m safe, Mom. I haven’t been killed. I was only in the backyard.”
     “You could have died! You could have—”
     “Olivia.”
     Mrs. Edsel looked back at her husband.
     “She’s safe. Emma’s sensible. She won’t get hurt.”
     “But she might have…” Mrs. Edsel trailed off into a whimper.
     “She didn’t.”
     Mrs. Edsel whimpered long and mournfully and curled into her husband’s chest, trembling violently. He held her, rubbing her back, speaking soothingly to her. After a few minutes, he looked at Emma and jerked his head towards the stairs. Her cue that she could go. None too soon.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Dawn Chandler Cover Reveal

Eliza Noel has a book coming out! I haven't read it yet, but it sounds like a very interesting story. As a homeschool graduate myself, I think a story about someone beginning homeschooling sounds fabulous. Here's a little bit about the book.

Dawn Chandler likes the way her life is— or was. She liked going to the mall with her best friend, excelling at middle school, and attending church with her family. Typical life for a twelve-year-old in the city of Fresno.

When Dawn’s parents announced they were going to homeschool her, on her birthday no less, she felt like her world was falling apart. Normal kids are supposed to go to school, not read books at home. To make matters worse, they may be leaving the only home she’s ever known.

What are her parents thinking?

Before making the final moving decision, the Chandler family visits Lone Pine, a small town between Mt. Whitney and Death Valley. While there, Dawn and her siblings become acquainted with their eccentric great uncle, explore the new area, and meet a large homeschooling family. All of this makes the 'vacation' more bearable. Still, Dawn isn't sure if she can make the move and leave everything she’s familiar with behind.

Can Dawn learn the values of faith, family, and contentment?

And here's the lovely cover!


Coming May 18th!

Eliza Noel is a home school graduate with passion for Jesus, people, and literature. Growing up, her favorite books were always Nancy Drew, Anne of Green Gables, and Pride and Prejudice. Around age twelve she wanted to read something with positive values in a modern setting, but couldn’t find what she was looking for. So she wrote it.

When not doing something book-related (reading, writing, blogging, bookstagramming), Eliza works at her day jobs, spends time with her many younger siblings, longboards, has coffee with friends, eats chocolate, and listens to music. California is home, but she would like to travel more and feels she could learn to be content anywhere.

You can follow her writing journey and see snippets of her everyday life on elizanoelauthor.blogspot.com or by following @elizanoelauthor on social media.

Monday, April 8, 2019

"My Dum-Dum Want to Speak"

I have an announcement to make. Two, actually.

First, Time Captives is getting new covers! I hadn't planned on doing this so soon, but earlier this year as I prayed about what direction to take next with my books, this was something that was impressed upon me to do now. It took me a little while to figure out something that worked, but I'm excited about the way the covers are turning out, and can't wait to release them. My current plan is to reveal the new covers sometime in May with the new editions coming out at the beginning of June. It's going to be awesome.

Second, I'm going to Realm Makers! Again, I hadn't originally planned to go this year, but circumstances worked out to where I can go. I'm nervous because I've never done anything like this before, but at the same time, I'm super duper excited. So many people to meet, so many things to learn, I finally can justify making an Anna dress now that Simplicity patterns are finally on sale this week, and it's going to be so exciting! Yes, I'm planning on going to the Awards Banquet as a Disney princess. That's just the sort of person I am. :)

So these are the things I've been working on, these as well as working on the audiobook of The Crossways and the second draft of Acktorek. It's not going nearly as fast as I would like, but I keep reminding myself that it'll get done when God wants it to get done. And I'm really liking the way the second draft is coming out on the whole. More Mitchell, more Carla, more weird fake-sciencey stuff. I'm not going to pretend that the science is realistic. But hey, if The Flash can get away with constant paradoxes and endless pseudo-science, why can't I make stuff up? (Yeah, I've started watching The Flash too. It's awesome, and the only DC thing I actually like.) I can't wait to see how this draft of Acktorek turns out!

Are you excited about the new Time Captives covers? Anyone else going to Realm Makers this summer?

Monday, April 1, 2019

Favorite Blog Posts Week 4

I'm still on a blogging break to catch up on writing projects, so here are some of my favorite blog posts for you to enjoy.








 

Monday, March 25, 2019

Friday, March 1, 2019

Taking a Break

It's been a long month, and we've had a lot going on, and my brain is kaput, so I'm taking a break from blogging to recharge my brain and catch up on the things I'm trying to get done. See you in a bit!

Monday, February 25, 2019

If You Need to Smile

It's been a long week, and I don't feel like being profound (I did that last week), so here's a random assortment of things that make me happy. So if you need a smile, hopefully this helps you too.










It's hilarious to me how easy it is to cut Merlin together to make a romantic comedy trailer. XD





Monday, February 18, 2019

Following God's Calling

This is something I've been thinking about a lot lately because I was recently very tempted to not. I was about ready to ditch it all—writing, music, politics, everything I've been working towards since before I graduated from high school—and go get a teaching degree and be a lonely, workaholic elementary school teacher with no bigger mission than my immediate students. I really was ready to do that, as miserable and terrified as I was about it. But I can't.

Since I was a kid, I always had an idea of what I wanted out of life. I don't think I was ever totally serious about the cheerleader or detective thing. Or even the making-movies-that-are-like-the-book thing. They were dreams, but dreams I knew I would never achieve. I'm never going to be Meg Murry or Jill Pole. (Me at twelve would have been a much better Meg than anything in last year's movie. Just sayin'.) And as much as I loved ballet, I knew I was never going to be a professional dancer.

But I always knew I was going to write books. I knew I was going to learn to play the violin. I long intended to teach music. If you look back at the comments in my "Why I'm Not Going to College" post, you can see that I had already considered the possibility of working at a library. (And wow, some of those comments. As if I'm an oppressed girl who isn't allowed to pursue higher education, or a stupid kid who doesn't realize that college has value. Not someone who's trying to be an entrepreneur and would prefer to spend her money on things that are actually applicable to her path in life.) Speaking of which, as I prayed about my post-graduate direction while in high school, one thing I knew for certain was that I was not going to college. I don't have anything against college in and of itself. I just knew it wasn't God's path for me. I've always known that I can't walk away from politics. It's too important to America, and it's too important to me personally. I know it's part of my wall. I knew where we were supposed to move, and as soon as we set foot in our current house, I knew it was the one.

My problem is, when things don't happen in the time that I expect them to, I start to doubt God's calling. I start to try to make other plans than the ones I made when I was seeking and listening to God. Plans that ditch the gifts God gave me and told me to use.

See, I never expected it to take so long to be financially successful as a writer. But I still had a lot to learn. I never expected it to take so long to build a decent sized music studio. But I'm incredibly grateful for the students I have now and the students I've had in the past and how they've taught me and pushed me to be a better teacher and musician. I didn't expect to have a job that severely limits my ability to be involved in politics by requiring quite a number of Saturday hours. But I've learned so much from working at the library in so many areas, including how to create a better book.

And because of that, I've been like Peter trying to walk on the water, taking my eyes off of Christ and sinking. Trying to ditch the gifts God has given me, the calling I know He's given me, in favor of the "easy" path.

Because it would be so much easier to just go get that teaching degree because I know I could make a living teaching elementary school. Even though I know I don't do well teaching classes and do much better one on one where I can individualize instruction to each child. Because it's hard to make a living with home businesses, never mind the fact that God has provided enough income for me to pay an agreed-upon rent to my parents while still being able to fund my writing and take piano lessons and save money for the future. And He's provided me with parents who support my entrepreneurial efforts and won't let me give them up. My mom told me not to talk about the college thing until I'd read Business Boutique. Because she doesn't want me to give it up.

The thing is, when I consider giving up writing, giving up music, giving up political involvement, I'm utterly miserable. Because I'm considering not using God's gifts. Not following the calling I've known He gave me since I was a child. And honestly, that's sin.

Not using the gifts God gives you is a sin.

God does everything for a reason. He gives us gifts for a reason. He gives us interests and passions for a reason. Because He intends us to use them for His glory, to further His Kingdom. And not doing those things He wants us to do, even if what we're doing instead is an inherently good thing, is wrong.

We're supposed to build our own part of the wall.

There are many parts of the wall...the church and standard church missions, government, education, entertainment, business, media, the family. Sometimes our parts of the wall intersect multiple spheres. But if we devote ourselves to a part of the wall God hasn't called us to, we aren't building our wall. We aren't being effective in the way God wants us to.

"There are no accidents. Our guide is Aslan; and he was there when the giant King caused the letters to be cut, and he knew already all things that would come of them; including this."
—Puddleglum, The Silver Chair

God doesn't make mistakes. All the gifts He gives us, all the interests He puts in us, all the doors He opens and all the doors He shuts. They aren't an accident. He knows why. He knows what's going to come of it. He knows how these things will serve His Kingdom.

The more I tried to find a plan other that what God is calling me to, the more miserable I was. Now that I'm working on figuring out that next step in my author career, now that I'm not willing to give up my music studio, my political involvement, I'm much more at peace. I know I'm where I'm supposed to be. It's not easy, not at all, but I know I'm trying, in my own fallen way, to follow God's calling.