April 24-27...the Pikes Peak Writers' Conference. In honor of an amazing time, I've compiled a Top Ten List ala David Letterman.
The Top Ten Reasons why Pikes Peak Writers' Conference is the absolute best:
10. The electricity and excitement of the registration hour as writers from all over the country gather for the conference and old friends reunite.
9. The free coffee station offered by the fantastic Marriott...and for the coffee snobs--the Starbucks at the bar.
8. The friendliness of the Delve Writing folks, smiling from their table. And Finn!
7. The gentle dismemberment of our precious and brilliant works in the read-and-critique sessions.
6. Wearing cogs on our togs for the Friday night dinner!
5. The pre-pitch nerves that lead you to attend the practice speed pitching workshops which, in turn, results in a newfound confidence. And despite that confidence, the paralyzing fear that finds you in the elevator on the way to the seventh floor--either because of the impending pitch or the worry that the elevators will get stuck.
4. The mad dash in the ballroom to find the person-of-choice to sit with in hopes of a casual pitch...but not being able to hear a word said at the table.
3. Gleefully spending way too much at the Bookstore.
2. The amazing staff and faculty who have poured much of their lives and souls into making the Pikes Peak Writers' Conference a top-notch experience.
1. Aaron Michael Ritchey and his DSM-IV for writers at conference.
In all seriousness, this year's conference was truly wonderful. From the talented attendees to the invaluable staff at the Marriott to the dedicated staff of PPW to the knowledgeable faculty and keynotes, the collective genius could have taken over the world. Instead, we're all just creating brilliant works that will live on forever.
What a blessing to be part of you all. Thanks for an unforgettable PPWC2014.
First and foremost, let me wish you a happy and blessed Easter. Although it's now mostly over. But is it ever really over? If you think about the cause for the celebration... He is risen! Ah, isn't that awesome to think about?
On a different note, my book is set to release in just a few weeks. Poison...perhaps you've heard of it. If not, no worries. You will. I have some upcoming blog posts planned to properly introduce you to my universe, so just hang tight. In the meantime, though, I wanted to share with you why I chose the symbol of the crown to represent God in my stories.
Way back when I was in grade school, my family would visit the Colorado Renaissance Festival in Larkspur, CO. It was hot and dusty, but everything within those tall wooden fences was complete magic. I wasn't a silly seventh grader with braces and doofy glasses that took up half my face. I was a princess, hailed by all. A little garland of flowers and ribbon in my hair and watch out, ladies of the realm!
And when the actor who played the king happened by, I was entranced. My eyes never left him. I'd tug on my mom's sleeve to follow after him. I'd ask to go to the ceremonies where he'd be appearing. And no, it wasn't a puppy love crush. It was allegiance.
Now, I've attended church for a while. I didn't back in those days, but working for a ministry and being a pastor's wife, it's kind of in the job description. Not to mention, I enjoy it! As a kid, I really didn't understand it, so I'd get bored. (I watched that same scenario play out with my kids today...) But I'd heard God described as a friend and a father.
Well, that's wonderful. But here's the thing...and I don't want you to feel sorry for me as I tell you this. I didn't have the greatest relationship with my dad. Oh, I loved him! I sought his approval in everything I did. I have many fond memories with him, and I am most grateful for the dad I had. Still, there was a lot lacking.
See, he didn't have a good dad. My grandfather was abusive to my dad starting at an early age. So my dad didn't have the model he needed. And I have two brothers. Being the only girl, I think my dad may not have known what to do with me. Again, this isn't to garner sympathy here. It's just my personal story.
So relating to God as a father was/is kind of a difficult thing for me. Glimpses, yes. But when I hear God described as a King...I can get behind that pretty quickly. I understand majesty. I understand leadership. I understand allegiance. And what's even cooler--that King IS my dad. Those glimpses do play a part.
That being said, the Crown seemed to make sense as the deity in my universe. And as I began to think about the three components, I saw how they would fit in. The Creator King--creator of the universe as well as the Father component. The Ruler Prince--Crown incarnate, the Son and Savior. And the Eternal Companion--the Spirit indwelling as promised.
As I've mentioned before, I don't want to be preachy in my books. Christianity is a large part of my life, so it only makes sense that it's a large part of my stories. But I never want to push it on anyone. It's an open door, and it's up to you to step through. So I leave it at that. And I'll root you on. I'll be there to answer questions...and if I don't know the answers, I'll find someone who does. But that decision is totally between you and God.
So now you know how the Crown came about. And just like with God's amazing story, there is an evil counterpart. But aren't we thankful good triumphs?! I'll share more about my villain in a different post. But for now, rejoice. For the stone is rolled away...and He is not there.
He is risen, indeed!
My very talented author friend John K. Patterson tagged me as part of a blog tour titled The Writing Process. I'm honored to be part of this tour! I met John through Pikes Peak Writers and a writers' night at a local bookstore. His exciting works can be found on Amazon, and I recommend them for an entertaining read!
Now...to get to the questions from the blog tour...
What am I working on?
I'm finalizing edits for the May release of my sci-fi novel Heralds of the Crown: Poison. I am super excited about this book, as it launches my epic space opera saga The Crown's Call. I am working toward a final draft of Once Upon a Heist to pitch at an upcoming writers' conference. And I just had a brand new sci-fi story idea come to me that I'm trying to get down titled Stream of Consciousness.
How does my work differ from others in its genre?
My work differs in that it is classic space opera with Christian elements. I am so grateful to the cluster of folks I've found who champion Christian speculative fiction. It's great to know there are people out there with a hunger for such things. That being said, I haven't been a dedicated follower of Christ all my life, so I am sensitive to those who don't want to be preached at. I've tried to craft stories that honor God, while leaving the door open to all who might dare to venture in.
Why do I write what I do?
I'm a sci-fi geek. I love everything from Star Wars to Star Trek to Firefly to Battlestar Galactica. In looking for books to satisfy my cravings for such stories, I stumbled upon all kinds of explicit scenes. Now, that's great for some people, but when I started writing seriously with the intent to publish, I was a pastor's wife. I also have young children. I wanted to be able to share my work with different age groups, and with that, my style was born.
How does my writing process work?
I have an unusual process. I start in the middle of the story and work my way outward. Long before I start writing, the idea comes in a daydream. I imagine a conversation between a couple of characters. It sets the stage for the rest of the plot and cast.
When I'm actually writing, I enjoy a cup of hot herbal tea or decaf coffee. I steal as many moments as I can. Being a mom, that can get hairy, but I have a wonderful, supportive husband who distracts my little ones. I write in the morning before school, my lunch hour, and after bedtime.
I've so enjoyed sharing this with you. This blog tour is such a neat idea! I love the thought of authors supporting authors. It's through such relationships that we create better stories for our readers.
It probably started with The Wizard of Oz. As a very young girl, I started watching that movie. A tradition that has continued throughout these many years. But I always wanted to be Dorothy. I wanted to live her adventure. I wanted to walk the yellow brick road, meet the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion. Goodness, I'd even face the Wicked Witch of the West. Just to be part of that story.
Growing up, that desire never really changed. Just the stories. One that comes to mind, and I know I've mentioned it before, is Labyrinth. I could easily picture myself as Sarah making her way through the Goblin King's maze. I'd be fine, as long as I didn't have to go up against the Fireys. I feel about the same way about them as I do Oompa Loompas.
But I always felt like if I could just believe enough, I could go to sleep at night and wake up in those worlds. I could be Dorothy. I could be Sarah. I just had to give my heart over completely to the idea, and I could get swept away.
Yeah. Never happened.
I am witnessing that this afternoon with my son. We're watching Hook, another of my childhood favorites. He is enamored with the Lost Boys. I can see in his eyes that he could easily fit into that world. At least he thinks so. But when it comes to living those fantasies, the line to cross over from reality becomes really stinkin' thick.
I've discovered that I can ease that desire a bit through writing. Because in delving into my character's personality and circumstances, I have to become part of the story. I have to live it in order to relate their reactions. I have to put little pieces of myself in each of my characters, and in turn, they rub off on me.
So while I may never duke it out with flying monkeys or rescue Ludo from those mean little bitey creatures, I can still fly among the stars. I can still battle evil and bring about peace to an entire universe. I can still explore new worlds and have unearthly adventures.
Because I've learned wield the all powerful imagination.
Today, I ended up behind a *sah-weet* ride--a completely chrome-plated Infiniti. What a snazzy car! I could even see myself in the bumper! Okay, not really, but it was quite eye-catching, particularly when the red brake lights flashed. All I could think was, "Man, they missed the boat by not installing chasing red lights and having the license plate CYLON." That's what I would do.
Of course, I had an awesome silver sports car with the plate JEDIKNT. Yeah, I'm nerdy that way. The attached picture was even featured in an edition of Star Wars Insider. My favorite memory in this car was going to see Episode 2. We happened to get a cherry spot, just outside the front doors of the theatre. As we pulled in, windows down and the Imperial March booming as loudly as my speakers would play it, we drew the attention of the waiting crowd. It was awesome!
So what does this have to do with my writing and upcoming book release? I'm so glad you asked. As creator of my universe, I get to determine the technology my characters use. I get to design their starships and other modes of transportation. A daunting task at times, but also rather handy.
The only thing is...I wish I could draw!
I see them in my head. I know exactly how they fly. I know which character can operate or pilot which ship. As for the technology behind how they work, I leave that as a given, much like Star Wars. Do any of us really know how hyperspace works? Or the warp drive of the Enterprise? Well, I imagine some of you do. But my brain isn't aligned that way, so I rely on your imagination to flesh out the basic concepts I give you.
From the Midnight Sun in Poison to the Sovereign in Valor to the Halcyon in Asylum...I enjoy creating these ships to allow my characters to whisk from planet to moon and back. It's a perk of the writing.
If only imagination could manifest into reality! (Okay, maybe sometimes not so much...but in this case, I'd totally take a trip on a starship!)
In my previous blog posts leading up to the release of Poison, I've introduced you to the Logia and the Strages. But I'd be remiss if I left out their counterparts--the Lumen and the Crepusculum.
The Lumen are followers of the Crown, but do not possess the gifts the Logia do. They support the Logia in every way possible, and seek to bring people to the Crown. They can act as Crusaders (think missionary work), but they cannot hold leadership roles within a Logia domicile. Lumen is Latin for light.
On the other hand, the Crepusculum does the same for the Strages. Most of them are awed by the power the Strages hold, and the Strages are able to recruit from this pool of followers. In future stories, this faction is comprised of people who have grown angry with the Crown for one reason or another. Crepusculum is Latin for dusk.
(Side story: When I studied theatre in college, I was required to take a set design class. The teacher introduced to us the word "crepuscular," describing a sunset as having crepuscular rays. I always that that was a cool word, and I often used it to impress friends and family. I had to use it somewhere!)
I toyed with the idea of scrapping these factions completely, but as I wrote, I grew to see their importance. They helped me differentiate a follower versus a non-follower. A few of them play key roles, even though they are in the background. So they stayed. And I'm glad.
Hearkening back to my theatre days, I'm reminded of the famous quote by actor and director Konstantin Stanislovski. "Remember, there are no small parts, only small actors." Those of us who have wound up with one-liners and chorus parts want to kick good ol' Konnie in the shin, but really, it's true. Without these tiny, integral parts, the play--or the novel--can fall apart.
Award-winning sci-fi author * Christ follower, wife, and mom * broadcast content producer. And yes, I am a real duchess. http://amzn.to/2eLTlH3