Posts Tagged ‘author’

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The Simmering Mind’s Awesomest (a.k.a. Very First) Giveaway Ever!!

September 28, 2015

YAY!!!  Here it is, my surprise!  I’m SO excited to finally bring this giveaway to you!

Awhile back my Facebook page reached 150 followers.  I’m continually amazed by the wonderful people who enjoy my posts (both here and on the page) and leave their comments in discussions, making this corner of the internet a fun and talkative place.  You guys are a blessing to me!!  So I wanted to do a giveaway to thank you all. ūüėÄ

But first, hugs all around!!

Okay!  Enough hugs now!  (*brushing off shirt and feeling kind of awkward because I’m not usually a huge hugger*)  ūüėõ  Let’s get down to business. And by business I mean FUN!

Giveaway Details:

There will be FIVE WINNERS!

And each winner will get to choose between SEVEN AWESOME PRIZES!

Many who follow my page are fellow writers, but not all are, so I tried to create a good balance of prizes that will appeal to writers and non-writers…a little something for everyone.  Winners may each pick ONE of the following gifts.

Without further ado, here are the prize options!

1. Watercolor bookmark

These bookmarks are designed and painted by me on heavy paper, and inscribed with one of the inspiring quotes about books that I’ve shared on my writer page in the past.  (I will create more as necessary! – with different quotes!)  If more than one option is available I’ll let you pick which bookmark you want. ūüôā This would be delivered by snail mail.

2. Sneak peek of one of my books

If you’re bursting with curiosity about my writing projects, choose this prize and I will email you a full chapter from either The Trusted: Book One of the Kraesinia Trilogy (my young adult portal sci-fi) or my secondary project, Absconders Series #1: Renegade (young adult dystopian sci-fi).  Blurbs for both projects can be found on my books page.  If you choose this prize, all I ask is that you don’t share the chapter publicly online. ūüėČ

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3. A beautiful little notebook

Unlike the other prizes, which can be duplicated if several winners choose them, I have only one of these gorgeous notebooks with a clasp to give away, so this prize is on a “first come, first served” basis!  It will be mailed by snail mail.

4. An original piece of flash fiction

I’ll write it just for you!  You can choose to have me share it on my blog for everyone (with or without a dedication to you, the winner), or I can email it to you privately.  I’ll even take requests for topics, characters, or premises!…although I can’t guarantee what the muse will come up with in the end. ūüėČ

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5. A blurb clinic

As many of my writer friends know, I LOVE to write blurbs (or “back cover descriptions”).  I love helping people make their own blurbs better, too!  For this prize, I will take any blurb you’re struggling to write and help you revise and polish it so you can put your best foot forward when you go on submission or self-publish.  My forte is speculative fiction, but I’m happy to help with other genres too!

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6. A thorough edit and critique of the first three pages of your work-in-progress

I’m a meticulous editor, both when it comes to my own books and the books of friends who ask for my edits.  The first pages of your book are the best opportunity you have to hook your readers!  If you choose this prize I will go over your first three pages with a fine-tooth comb and point out any problems they might have, as well as highlighting their strengths and making encouraging suggestions.

My green edits on a friend's manuscript - page blurred to protect the innocent. :P

My green edits on a friend’s manuscript – page blurred to protect the innocent. ūüėõ

7. Your choice of one of these e-books from fellow Christian authors

I will e-gift this to you from Amazon – any one of the books from the list below.  I can provide you additional information about any of the books, if you need help choosing!

Time for Fun!

Now, I don’t like it when giveaways are clearly designed just to gather more followers.  So even though new followers are awesome (please, come one, come all – the giveaway’s open to everyone!) this giveaway is dedicated to my faithful readers and page followers, because I like you guys lots. ūüėÄ  You can complete any or all of the “tasks” below to enter – things most of you have already done.  Sharing is awesome, but totally optional!

This giveaway will run from the 1st to the 5th of October, and then I will announce the winners here on the blog and contact them by email!! *happy dance*

May the odds be ever in your favor! ūüėÄ

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Of Books and Babies

August 4, 2015

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As a writer, I know the importance of beginnings.

Everything hangs on the first few pages of your novel. ¬†If readers don’t enjoy those, they probably won’t move on. ¬†There are lots of books in the world, so unless someone else told them it was a good story, why should they spend time on a book that confused them, bored them, or offended them right off the bat?

You have to foreshadow everything right.  You have to lay the foundation for the story and its themes, introduce your main characters and setting (in an interesting way!), and put your plot in motion.

Beginnings are HARD! ¬†I can get so fixated on how my book starts that I don’t move forward, perpetually rewriting and revising my opening scene.

I tend to carry this attitude over to my mothering.

These little years are all-important. ¬†I’m forming human beings! ¬†It’s my job (I think to myself) to make sure they don’t grow up malformed, like a tree that was bent into an awkward shape while it was a sapling, and keeps growing crookedly. ¬†It’s my responsibility (so I fear) to dot every “i,” and cross every “t,” so they have the best possible, perfect, ideal foundation for life. ¬†Sometimes I feel like someone is standing over me, putting negative tally marks for every time I do something that is less than ideal for my children’s foundational years.

Oop, too much TV today. Bad mom.  She lost her temper again.  Bad mom.  What, no veggie with dinner today?  Bad mom.

Some people brush off worries about the little years with thoughts like, “Eh, they’re little. ¬†They won’t remember this stuff anyway.”

But! But!¬†I splutter inside. ¬†They might not remember, but they’ll be irrevocably shaped!

They are shaped by my words, attitudes, and fears.  They are shaped when they see me crying over a poop mess, and when I yell about spilled milk on the carpet.

It can’t be done again. ¬†I can’t rewind time, erase my progress, and start over with a stronger opening – my kids’ life, 2.0. ¬†Their childhood thus far is set in stone. ¬†And that’s a scary thought.

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In the world of fiction, there is a writing rule called “Chekov’s gun.” ¬†It states that if there’s a rifle hanging over the fireplace in the first scene, it needs to go off by the end of the novel. ¬†There should be no loose ends, no details that are not relevant, because all details tie into the plot.

Sometimes I wonder what kind of guns I’m hanging here, over my children’s heads.

(Is that…is that a nuclear missile???)

What part do I play in this opening scene of their lives? ¬†Am I a loving mom? ¬†A sweet mom? ¬†A mom who languishes on a sickbed and weakly entreats her child to “have courage and be kind?”

A lot of the time I worry that I’m more like the wicked stepmother.

You had a potty accident on the couch AGAIN??

But I tell myself these things:

God is the ultimate Author of their stories, not me, and God’s stories always have perfect endings, no matter how messy their beginnings.

However I shape my children, His hands are around them (and me), far more powerful and purposeful than my clumsy little fists.

God’s stories are simultaneously first drafts and finished products, full of crazy, unexpected twists and concluded with every plot thread in place. ¬†All His guns go off, and they all go off at the right moment – even if the characters were only fooling around and fired them by accident and hit somebody in the eye.

And my children are shaped by far more than my flaws!

They are shaped by our Bible lessons, even when I think they’re not listening because they’re busy giggling and smearing cinnamon toast on their faces.

They are shaped when my hubby kisses me in front of the kitchen sink.

They are shaped when I play Christian music on Pandora.

They are shaped by my hugs and kisses, that cup of water I bring them at 2 A.M., those many hours reading Beatrix Potter.

It just isn’t as simple as, “You’re either doing everything perfectly or YOU ARE FAILING AT LIFE.”

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We are all a crashing, colliding, crazy, messy crowd, mixing our good acts with bad attitudes and our worst mistakes with our best intentions. ¬†We are saved in Christ, yet struggling sinners. ¬†We aren’t perfect, but we rest in Perfection. ¬†We are flawed and fallen, and yet He does His good works¬†through¬†us, and appoints us as His representatives in the world and His members in the church.

He didn’t just put me on the earth to make my children grow up well. ¬†He also put them here to make ME grow up well.

So I can’t be paralyzed by these first pages. ¬†I have to keep moving forward, working out my part in my own story and in theirs. ¬†For praise be to God! – I pen imperfect novels, though I may write the beginnings a million times, but He never needs revisions, and He is creating a masterpiece.

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What God and Geeks Have in Common

January 26, 2015

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As a writer, I sometimes fall into “geek-out mode” about my own book. ¬†As in, “it rivals the geekery I had about Lord of the Rings during my teenage years.” ¬†That kind of geek mode.

I think about it all day.  My characters are constantly on my mind.  I am going squeeee! over random details that nobody else would ever think to care about.  Everything about it is enthralling, every tiny jot.  Not only the story itself but the process of creating it has me giddy with excitement.

And then I start to feel very much alone.

Because nobody else cares about this book as much as I do.

I can gush to my husband, my sister, my best friends, my beta readers…and yet¬†none of them¬†will ever be as in love with the story as I am. ¬†They won’t really get it. ¬†They can’t share that enthusiasm – not for any length of time. ¬†In fact, the more I talk about my books the more I worry that they will despise and hate my story because I am driving them crazy with details they don’t care to hear! Even people who used to geek out with me have gotten bored of it over time.

It’s not that the people in my life are heartless or uncaring. ¬†They just don’t care about my book as much as I do!

And I could never expect them to, if I’m thinking sensibly. ¬†This book is in my head and heart, not even published yet; it has no holds on anyone like it does on me, its creator.

And that can be depressing, knowing I cannot truly share this joy with a single person.

But this is true of any emotion, isn’t it? No matter how empathetic, fellow human beings can’t really share each others’ emotions – at least not until they invent some kind of telepathy! We are separated by the unique and distinct nature of our souls. ¬†We all have something we love and are passionate about that we wish to share with others, and sometimes it’s not possible to really share that love.

The heart knows its own bitterness, and no stranger shares its joy. –¬†Proverbs 14:10

Even if I get published and my books have hordes of rabid fans someday (hey, I can dream), no other human being will ever fathom the depths of my enthusiasm for my own stories, or truly share in the joys of my story-creation.

But there is One who can.

The One who spoke the universe into being, who orchestrates each detail of my life for my good, who created me body and soul and put these stories in my heart to tell РHe knows.  He understands.  The One who exults over me with loud singing (Zephaniah 3:17) surely knows and appreciates the depths of my story geekery.  And as the Master Worldbuilder, He completely understands that delight!

I don’t mean to be flippant or irreverent, but hear me out – do you think the three Persons of the Godhead ever had “geek moments” about creation?

“Now, let’s make another kind of horse. ¬†Except it¬†isn’t¬†actually a horse! ¬†Because it will be covered in gorgeous black and white stripes! ¬†YES. ¬†It will be amazing.”

I think about that sometimes.  Did God ever get excited about the intricacies of anthills, the habits of lions, the courses of the planets and how they align, the variety of the plant kingdom, or the cuteness of kittens?  When He brought Eve to Adam, was He bursting with Fatherly joy to introduce His children to one another?

I imagine, perhaps, He was!

Not because He is ever surprised, for He knows all things, but because – as authors know well – you don’t have to be surprised by the story you create to enjoy it unfolding under your hands. ¬†I may know exactly how my character is going to act, and why, and yet¬†still¬†be tickled from head to toe with delight as the scene I am writing takes shape. ¬†It’s how we storytellers are.

People say “the devil is in the details,” but it’s really God who is there, holding all things together the molecular level, organizing every single moment, every storyline, and every atom to His glory and the good of his people.

Geeks are people who love something so much that all the details matter. – Marissa Mayer

Until recently our culture mostly thought of “geek” as a negative term. ¬†Nowadays it’s worn more as a badge of honor by an entire subculture, and “geeky” things like superhero movies are mainstream and incredibly popular. ¬†But perhaps the geeky delight we often share over stories is a small reflection of the joy God takes in His own creation.

He cares about the birds and their nests. ¬†He cares about the ants and their tunnels. ¬†He cares about the most distant star. ¬†Surely, He also cares about good stories, your characters, that language you’re inventing, those imaginary animals you drew, that episode you really¬†enjoyed, the art you love, that scene that had you bawling while you typed.

And maybe you’ve been reading this post and thinking, “I’m not a geek!” ¬†Perhaps you can’t relate to the rabid love of stories, Doctor Who, or Marvel franchises. ¬†But I’m sure there is something else in your life that you’re passionate for – and maybe alone in your passion. ¬†History? ¬†Sewing? ¬†Bird-watching? ¬†Baking? ¬†God designed us to take joy in things like this…each finding our own delights and treasures in this world He made. ¬†Do you love the details of something and feel like no one else cares as much as you do?

No detail of your life is too small to bore your Heavenly Father!

So when I am feeling lonely in my geekery – and before it gets to the point of loneliness! – I’m going to start turning to God and expressing thankfulness for my enthusiasm to the only One who totally sees the joy of my heart, Who gets it, and Who rejoices over it with me…down to the very smallest detail.

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? ¬†And not one of them is forgotten before God. ¬†Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows. –¬†Jesus, Luke 12:7

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Have you ever felt lonely in your geekery? ¬†Has there ever been anything in your life that you felt God didn’t care about? ¬†(Pssst…He does!)