I want to share this, not for pity purposes, but as an eye-opening lesson to those who may not think in these terms. I hope you will take it in such spirit. It's not meant to condemn, but to encourage you to think about what you say and how you say it affects others.
This morning, I was blindsided. I was with a group of folks with whom I should have felt safe and accepted. But just a few words changed that. I mentioned my love of theatre, and someone responded, "Well, we're learning who we should stay away from."
Oh, yes, it was a joke. I realize that. I even laughed it off...at first. But then, those feelings began to fester. Deep, dark feelings that linger just below the thin surface of my fragile self-esteem.
I grew up being the joke of many. I'm a bigger girl and always have been. I'm not comfortable in my own skin, and somehow people pick up on that.
One moment in time is forever cemented in my brain. In one of my fifth grade classes, we were going around our circle, telling about the funniest thing we'd ever seen. A boy across the way said, "Ashley's face."
I can clearly see my best friend's mouth--as she was sitting next to me--opened wide with laughter. I hid my tears behind my own laughter. The whole class joined in, and I sat there, wanting to die.
So this little joke this morning brought that back. Those tears behind the smile as I tried to pass it off as a joke. I'm 40 years old. I should be over this kind of hurt.
But I'm not.
Words hurt. Words can so easily tear us down. Perhaps that's why I write. I put words together in story form to give people some hope. To affirm who they are, their struggles, and their victories. While my stories may have dark moments, I want the overall message to point back to something more important.
In Ephesians 4:29, Paul tells us, "Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift." I've used the Message version, because it's my favorite right now. A few verses later, he says, "Don’t talk dirty or silly. That kind of talk doesn’t fit our style. Thanksgiving is our dialect."
May I implore you to think about your words today? That joke you throw out as a defense mechanism...that teasing quip you share to make others think you're funny or cool...those words just might be swords or arrows to the receiver. He may be hiding a past laden with hurt. She may be facing a situation that strips her of any confidence. He may be buried under years of self-torment. And your words just added to it. Just chucked another coal on the fire. Just broke what might have been glued back together.
Be kind. Build someone up instead of tearing them down. Especially when they open up to share a little piece of themselves or reveal who they truly are. Embrace each other with love.
This world would be a much better, brighter place...
Four years ago, I'd had my last child (Dingo #3), and shortly afterward, developed issues with my gallbladder. I'm not going to go into all those details, because this post isn't about my medical record, but I will say I had to go through the very routine surgery. With a (relatively) new baby, my mom came out to help me.
And on the following Sunday, after church, my husband and son went to our local high school's graduation. As I cooked lunch, my mom rocked my little one. Her phone rang. It was my older brother with news that would change our lives. I only heard my mom's not-yet-panicked response...
My dad had had a massive heart attack. He died alone. Two days earlier. May 21st.
I still choke up as I write that. As I think it through. Guilt, sorrow, despair. But I can't go there. I hold onto the wonderful memories, and with a grateful heart, I thank God that I had a dad who was always there. He wasn't perfect, but he taught me so much.
He gave me a love for classical music and chess. He inspired my love for sci-fi. He helped me through many a math class. A great, great man who didn't know how much people cared about him and adored him. He knows now; I am confident of that.
This evening, I attended a writing event with my awesome local writers' group. One of the exercises was to write about a food from our childhood. I want to share with you what I wrote:
"My dad would take me--just me--to Black Angus Steakhouse for steaks. The best food in the world, and such a treat! But beyond the juicy, savory yumminess, he would take me out on the dance floor in the bar area and twirl me around. Videos played on a large screen, and I can still see the heads of Huey Lewis and the News bobbing back and forth to the beat of "If This is It..." A very special memory I hold of my dad--steak always brings if back to me."
Honestly, I didn't think about the anniversary when I wrote that. It just came from within. I've written about my dad, and I'll do it again. I wish he could have read my books, but I know he's proud of me. I know he has a hand in all that's happening in one way or another. And I'm so thankful.
I love you, Dad. This one's for you.
Yesterday, my sci-fi series launched with the release of Poison. What an exciting day! We had a launch party on Facebook, where I got to interact with lot of different people. I had so much fun! Thank you to all who stopped in!
Thank you again for supporting me and my writing. You have blessed me immeasurably, and I will always be grateful!
Now...get reading! Write a review! And spread the Crown's Call
Ah...the day has arrived! The launch of the Crown's Call saga ignites with the release of the first book, Heralds of the Crown: Poison. I am so excited for you to meet Gaultier, Hanileh, Velius, Thaed, and the many others who are a part of this story!
To get your ebook copy, you can visit Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords. I have all the links in one spot HERE. Paperback copies will follow shortly. I'll put out the word when that happens.
You can also show you love for the series and the book by purchasing a t-shirt or a button! The link above has those options as well.
Thank you so much for your support throughout this project! I'm most pleased to be able to share
Tomorrow, Heralds of the Crown: Poison releases to the public. Readers will have the opportunity to read the story I've been working on for years now. It will be out there for all to see.
How do I feel about that?
Excited! I can't wait to hear the feedback and know what people think not only of the book, but of the characters and the plot twists.
Nervous! These words came from my heart. I'm putting a part of my soul into the hands of my readers.
Ready to press on! I already have the second book, Fusion, ready for edits. I still need to get the third one written to conclude the series, but I have a bit of a start on it.
As I've been working toward the launch of Poison, I've also been working on other books. I am considering self-publishing Checkmate at some point this summer. I have Once Upon a Heist in the hands of several publishers right now. And I've just started a story that I've been sitting on for a while. I feel like it's a book my entire life has structured, which is pretty awesome. I'm able to draw on some of my favorite childhood memories to create it. Once I get a better grip on it, I'll create its page on this website.
In the meantime, I'll be promoting Poison and sharing more about it.
I don’t know exactly when it started. There wasn’t a sudden switch that turned on or a moment when the lightning struck. It probably happened gradually.
I’m talking about my love for science-fiction.
I do remember living in a small mountain town long before cable television distracted every home. Our programming selection was minimal, and my dad oftentimes had control of what we watched. When he found Star Trek on one of those stations, we never ventured far. I hated it at the time, but those moments in our family room, curled up on our old yellow couch next to the wood stove as we watched Captain James T. Kirk lead the magnificent crew of the Enterprise will never be forgotten.
By the time Star Trek: The Next Generation came about, I had started to develop an interest. I’d seen the Star Wars movies in the theater. Having an older brother and a younger brother pretty much ensured my nerd-dom. But I boarded the new Enterprise with Captain Picard and Commander Riker and loved every moment of it. It’s actually what prompted my writing. A couple of friends and I would write stories for each other in the Star Trek universe. It was an even greater escape than just watching Gene Roddenberry’s masterpiece on the box in the living room.
While my love of sci-fi never really died, it did get shoved off to the side during high school. My other love, musical theatre, became my passion and started me down the career path. I was going to be a stage manager on Broadway. My world was full of fresnels, fly systems, sound boards, prompt scripts, and fabulous costumes. Escape in a different form. This time, I was helping to create magic on stage to invite others to join in.
I didn’t quite make it to Broadway. After I graduated, I took a job at Disneyland. Ever avoiding this crazy world, I stayed in the Magic Kingdom for close to three years. While I was there, the hype over the new Star Wars trilogy began. Episode One was on its way, and I rediscovered the original trilogy. I also ventured into online role playing games, immersing myself completely in a new universe. By the time Attack of the Clones released, I swore I would name my firstborn Anakin and my car’s license plate read “JEDIKNT.”
It had begun.
In the following years, my nerd-dom grew. I discovered the reimagining of Battlestar Galactica, Firefly, and many other amazing tales of other worlds. I even slipped back into writing.
I met the love of my life and married him. This came with a slew of changes—leaving my job and career, moving across country, and becoming a mom. I needed to find my identity before I lost myself completely in the whirlwind of change.
Writing grounded me. I pulled out my characters from my RPG days and created a new universe. I listened carefully to the internal whispers of my characters as they related their stories. As I typed them into that first document, I was all-powerful. The mighty author with a New York Times bestseller breakout novel.
It was terrible.
I knew nothing about writing other than what I had learned in my grade school English classes. But I sent off my final draft, expecting all kinds of offers from agents and publishers alike. I was stunned to receive my first rejection. Were these people crazy?
I stumbled on a site with tips for writers, and my eyes were opened. Greatly humbled, I placed that document aside and started to work on another story. It took far greater discipline to remember the “rules” about point of view and showing versus telling, but the final product shined with the effort. No, it wasn’t perfect, but it was something I was proud of. And it spurred me on to write more. To keep creating. To keep trying.
I never would have pegged myself as a writer. It wasn’t something I set out to do. It’s a passion I uncovered in the midst of depression and turmoil. But I am so thankful for this beautiful art form. It’s binding, uplifting, and satisfying. It’s terrible and wonderful at the same time.
My advice for aspiring authors? Keep going. As Captain Taggert says in the historical documentary film Galaxy Quest, “Never give up. Never surrender.” Be willing to learn. Get involved in a writers’ group. Do all you can to improve your craft every day. And remember—the world is full of amazing tales, but it still needs your story. Go for it.
As we prepare to launch Poison (3 days!!), I thought I’d share a bit more about each of the main characters through a series of blog posts.
Over the last few days, I've learned that Velius Lassiter is my favorite character in the book. I know I said in a previous post that I couldn't choose a favorite, but Velius is so complex. I'm actually thinking of doing a little more with him, perhaps in a short story or a novella. He came from complicated circumstances, which makes him conflicted. Part of him wants to do what is right and follow the Crown. Another part of him craves the power of the Strages, leading him into Thaed’s misguided leadership. He is closest with Raum, who manipulates him into doing Thaed’s bidding.
I love the mystery behind this character. Initially, he was just a puppet under the influence of a couple villains. But as the story unfolded, his character grew, added depth, and presented him in a completely different direction than I had intended. The result, while being absolutely terrifying and creepy, is wonderful.
Beyond that, Velius is a Roman name meaning concealed. Oh, boy, you don't know the half of it!
Until you read the book, of course.
The time is quickly approaching! We're down to just three days until the launch of the Crown's Call series by way of Heralds of the Crown: Poison.
Not only is this an exciting story, but it's also countless numbers of hours of hard work. In just looking back at my document file, my earliest Poison file is dated October 2010. It's not just my work. I've had multiple contributors--beta readers, the cover artist, editors, publishers, contest judges. All working together to make this story the best it can be by the time you have it in your hands.
I'm so grateful to those who have made this book what it is. A heartfelt thank you to you all.
How can you thank all those people for their help? Well, aside from buying the book (yet another contribution, as I would have very little reason to write without my dedicated readers!), you can spread the word. Tell your friends. Talk to your local library about getting a copy on the shelves. Share posts on social media.
And write a review! It doesn't have to be complicated. Just a couple of sentences about what you liked. Or didn't like! Constructive criticism is how authors grow. Reviews help sell books, and the more books sold, the more publishers are interested in getting the next book out.
I cannot thank you enough for your support. It means so much to me! You are the ones who will make this book and series a success!
As we prepare to launch Poison (6 days!!), I thought I’d share a bit more about each of the main characters through a series of blog posts.
Villains are a necessary part of every story. Lucian, who will be known as Thaed, has a role throughout the entire Crown's Call saga, not just this series.
Lucian Thaedrial is the father of the Strages, dedicated to putting an end to the Logia. He is evil—birthed and manifested at the separation of the Continuum and the Crown. All manner of power is available to him, although he uses it with great restraint, instead choosing to use others who follow him. His greatest strength is mental manipulation. As he grows in strength, he forms the Gathering and changes his name to Thaed.
Thaed has dark hair and colorless eyes. His style of dress is impeccable. The average woman would swoon at his looks.
The name Lucian means light, which is the exact opposite of his existence. Thaedrial is an anagram of death and liar.
As we prepare to launch Poison (8 days!!), I thought I’d share a bit more about each of the main characters through a series of blog posts.
Marcella belongs to the Strages and can infiltrate a person’s mind with the intent to kill. She has honed her gift to less intense results, though, being able to merely knock someone unconscious. As a skilled, brutal killer, she has gained the amorous attention of her mentor Lucian Thaedrial. But a few chance encounters with the Logia brings her to question her choices as she follows Lucian.
Her past is unknown. Lucian has raised her since she was young, but how she came to be in his care remains a mystery.
Marcella has long reddish-brown hair and brown eyes. Her skin is tattooed with tiny black swirls as a consequence of Lucian’s control.
The name Marcella means warlike, martial, and strong.
Award-winning sci-fi author * Christ follower, wife, and mom * broadcast content producer. And yes, I am a real duchess. http://amzn.to/2eLTlH3