Simmer Starters – June 24, 2016

Today we’ve got some writing articles, a culture/faith article, and two marriage articles. Enjoy!

Why You Should Stop Searching For Your Authentic Voice (Enchanting Marketing) – This is a fascinating and refreshing look at the topic of finding your writing voice.  “What if you liberate yourself from your search for authenticity? Could you find a voice resonating strongly with your audience because you focus on your readers instead of yourself?”

What’s Your Third Book? (Dan Bal0w) – Why it’s important to have more than one idea stashed away if you want to write professionally.  Also, good advice on finding your writing niche.

In Lieu of ‘In Lieu of Flowers’ (David Greusel) – Love this article for its defense of beauty and why beauty is necessary. “Have you ever sat in a funeral and looked at a big flower arrangement at the front of the sanctuary, and thought, ‘Wow, that must be $300 worth of flowers — that money could have been used to feed a whole lot of hungry people?’ Congratulations. You think just like Judas.”

What the World Needs Now is Better Wine (Lori Roeleveld) – Beautiful article about marriage. “There is a better love than the one I originally offered my spouse. I am now eternally grateful that I ran out of my own watered-down version of love because when I did, I turned to Jesus for a miracle.”

Why Sex Isn’t the Best Thing Ever (Lore Ferguson Wilbert) – This is especially good for singles, but a great reminder for marrieds as well. “When I hear those who are not married say ‘But at least you get to have sex! And live with your best friend!’ Well, first, I’d warn against saying at least in regard to much. But second I want to say your words betray a much, much deeper need…”


Simmer Starters – June 11, 2016

Lots of fantasy links and a couple of cultural ones this week! :)

Love and Comfort in Fantasy, or Why George R.R. Martin Isn’t the American Tolkien (John Adcox) – While I eschew Game of Thrones for the porn-fest it is, this article is beautiful and excellently illustrates why Tolkien, Lewis, Rowling, and other authors have written books more likely to be enduring and loved for generations.  It’s all about the love.

The Gospel Was Given for a Time Like This (Tim Challies) – I can’t stand it when Christians panic and go around flailing their hands over the state of the world “these days,” so I loved this calm and comforting post.

About Those “20 Minutes of Action” (Ann Voskamp) – Beautiful words from Voskamp about the rape scandal that’s been in the news so much lately.  “Son. When the prevailing thinking is boys will be boys — girls will be garbage. And that is never the heart of God.”

The Real Reason That Christians Don’t Read Fantasy (K.M. Carroll) – My friend Kessie muses on the root cause for the poor sales of Christian fantasy books.  “…Mostly kids are allowed to read mystery, talking animal adventure, and historical fiction. These kids then grow into adults who prefer to read the same things. They’re not interested in the darker, edgier fiction out there.  However, the Christian spec fic authors want to read and write adult books. They want sex, swearing and blood–all things that aren’t appropriate for kids books.”

Why We Need Christian Fantasy (E. Stephen Burnett) – Several reasons why there is value in the “Christian fiction” subculture.  Personally I am in favor of Christians writing for the secular market as well, but there is a place for Christian fiction too!

Why Your Character’s Goal Needs to be 1 of These 5 Things (K.M. Weiland) –  This isn’t a new post, but I happened across it and found it really useful.

Interview with Janeen Ippolito!

13268253_599837810190997_6827419851295399460_oToday I’m thrilled to share an interview with Janeen Ippolito!

Janeen is the founder of Uncommon Universes Press and a speculative fiction and non-fiction author – and I am also blessed to call her one of my dearest friends. :)

Tomorrow there is going to be an EPIC Facebook party to officially celebrate the launch of Uncommon Universes, as well as the release of Janeen’s world-building books, World-Building from the Inside Out and its accompanying workbook.

These books are fantastic resources for speculative fiction authors, and I am super excited for the party, especially the prizes they are planning to give away: art prints, ebooks, print books, jewelry, custom art, full manuscript reviews…the list goes on.  I’m so there! 😀

(Click the image below, or this text HERE, to check out the party page.)


As part of the celebration for this release and the party, I’m interviewing Janeen here today.

So here we go! :)

Hi, Janeen!

Tell us a little bit about what you’re writing right now.

I’m currently finishing up a novella with the working title of Blood Mercy: Houses of the Dead. It’s first in a series of urban fantasy novellas based on the premise that vampirism is the rebellious actions of humans with an incurable form of anemia called the blood curse. These vampires, who choose to drink blood in order to scare and control other humans, are opposed by the Blood Kind, individuals with the blood curse who choose to take transfusions and oppose the vampire threat. Houses of the Dead focuses on Melrose Durante, the leader of the Blood Kind, who must unlock the mind of a tormented vampire to stop a city from destruction. The catch is the vampire is his estranged wife!

I’m also fleshing out the next book in my nonfiction helps series, Character-Building From the Inside Out. Another working title, because it sounds more like a self-help book, but I’m really excited to share the resources!

What’s been your writing journey? What’s influenced you and brought you to where you are presently?

I like to say I’ve been writing since before I could put pen to paper. I’m an avid observer of people, and I’ve always enjoyed imagining possibilities and making up stories. I’ve had great writing teachers, four years of obsessive play-by-post roleplaying online (basically group story-telling in various fandoms), and then more classes in college and at conferences. Writing is breathing and I can’t imagine not doing it, whether it is typing a blog post, a short story, a Tweet, or a chapter in a novel. I truly love communicating with readers through this medium, and I’m honored that people keep tuning in!

Major influences were actually a mixture of speculative fiction, historical fiction, and humor writers. I read avidly in each category growing up. Actually, in college I had to check my research papers and essays for too MUCH voice! Although I’m solidly a speculative fiction writer, my love of world-building comes in part from my love of history and cultures. As for the humor, it’s part of all my stories in some form or another!

When you get an idea for a new story, how does it tend to manifest and how do you go about exploring it and fleshing it out?

My ideas often come in collaboration with Julia Busko, an artist and close friend of mine. Our brains naturally ping-pong ideas off each other, and then she’ll draw concepts and I’ll write them out. We usually get ideas in scenes. We’ll think of some characters in a particular place or moment, dealing with a particular issue. Then we’ll tease out the world-building and potential plot lines. We also get a fair amount of inspiration from dreams and songs. Basically, anything can be inspiring! The idea part is easy. It’s nailing down the main story line and plot points that takes more work. We use Google Docs a lot and have learned to follow the story overall. Follow the story and the world-building will follow.

What are some of your favorite fictional worlds?

Middle Earth is one. I have to say, while Tolkien’s actual story-telling sometimes makes me a little impatient, I’m still in love with his fantasy world and the thought he put into it–especially elves! I’m also a huge fan of the fairy tale worlds Gail Carson Levine built in Ella Enchanted. Basic and effortlessly integrated into the plot. Last, the planet of Sphinx in David Weber’s Honor Harrington space opera series. He created this really interesting, biologically-sound world with one of the coolest creatures ever: six-legged telepathic treecats who have their own society and are addicted to celery. I’m allergic to cats, but I’ve always had a faint hope that I’m not allergic to treecats!

I know you’re a big Marvel fan, so I thought I’d ask…why Marvel over DC? 😀

Because abbreviations are lame.

Naaah, not true. Especially since a favorite character of mine is Professor X. I grew up with DC and Marvel superheroes, but Marvel has the X-Men and they are my favorite superheroes because they are ordinary people who have to work together. I always found it hard to relate to an alien from Krypton or an angsty guy in a batsuit, but a teenager who went to a mall and then got powers that made her combust a soda machine? That I could understand. If I suddenly got superpowers in a mall, I’m pretty sure I’d have to run out of there really quickly for everyone’s safety! Plus, Marvel seems to have more humor. Maybe it’s just the comics I choose to read, but between Ant-Man and the Fantastic Four, there are all of these jokes and every day moments. I enjoy that a lot.

What are your biggest goals as an author? What do you hope readers will take away from your work?

Sell more titles than J. K. Rowling, pay off my student loans in one day, and retire in Fiji because I can’t get enough of the epic square water bottles.

More realistically, I want to glorify God by writing and publishing excellent stories. That’s pretty much it. Another goal is turning a profit, both for myself and the authors I promote. A profit doesn’t just mean that we get paid for loads of work; it also means that readers are reading and enjoying the books, which is another major goal. 

I hope my stories make readers see that even in the worst times, there’s always a reason to laugh. Life is full of hard times and sacrifices and even annoying chronic issues that never go away, but it doesn’t have to defeat you.


Bethany here, again!

I’m so glad to have an opportunity to promote my friend, her great books, and their new press – I’m really excited to see the things God will do through Uncommon Universes and Janeen’s work!

Don’t forget to visit the World-Building Launch Party, and I hope you’ll join in for the fun and prizes! :)


Some more information about Janeen Ippolito:

Janeen Ippolito is an English teacher by day, a sword-fighter by night and a writer by heart. She’s also the founder of Uncommon Universes Press and the author of World-Building From the Inside Out. She has a B.A. in Cross-Cultural Studies, Writing, and ESL and has a passion for using humor and cultures in speculative fiction. In her spare time she makes brownie batter, reads, and watches speculative television shows. One of her goals in life is to eat a fried tarantula.

Author Website:

Facebook Page:


Simmer Starters – June 3, 2016

Not a whole lot of Simmers this week…there has been a lot on my mind internally and I haven’t been reading very many articles!

Three Ways Superpowers Can Charge Your Story (Janeen Ippolito) – Three ways superpowers – magic – even special talents – add an extra oomph to stories.

Advice from Maggie Stiefvater – Wise words from an author. This part hit me hard, about needing to write fast, because: “Otherwise you as a human will change faster than your story gets completed, and your story will try to shift to accommodate this new person you are, and you will end up with something that is many things instead of one. That’s not wrong, either, but the more things a book is to you, the harder it will be to both complete and edit.”  Ain’t that the truth.

Rejecting Our Aesthetic Patrimony (James Griffin) – I admittedly skimmed this, and while it’s from a Catholic perspective, there are some interesting things to think about here.  “The fact that we deride beauty as vain or wasteful is one of many cancers in our church and society. By insisting upon plain, “humble” furnishings for our churches in the prosperous first world, on the contrary, we make a show of false humility, prideful in our shabbiness…”

Mind Your Own Womb (Nadirah Angail) – A heartfelt post about the pain others often carry that we don’t see.

#WIPjoy June 2016!!

It’s here!!  June is here, and so is the new #WIPjoy.  Hop on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, and join the writerly party! 😀

WIPjoy June 2016