I just got to sneak a peek at my completed cover (including the back with the book description and the about the author setion). It's SO cool! Another great thing about working with WestBow is that I get to have some input on the cover. I gave them the initial idea I had, and they made it a reality. I had a couple of things I wanted to change - mostly MY errors in the book description. So hopefully, that will happen. If not, it's still amazing, and I'm still happy.
It's been two and a half weeks since I found out that I won that contest. And I still can't believe it! I have been reviewing the manuscript. I've found many typos that just drive me crazy! I don't know how I happened to win. Oh, wait. Yes, I do. God. He's the only answer! I guess He figured it was time to get these books out there to share with the world.
I've heard that it's going to the printer on August 6th. I'll let you know. My head is spinning a little, but I am so excited about how fast this is all going! As I've indicated previously, I am not the world's most patient person. And I've heard that the publishing industry can be super slow. So I'm quite thrilled with the speed behind this thing. Yay! I've also grown to hate weekends because I know I won't hear from WestBow. Yeah, they deserve the days off...but I miss them!
I'm also grateful because through this, I've recovered my identity. I had been Ashley - Career Woman for a long time. Then I got married. Suddenly, I was the pastor's wife. Later that year, I became a mom. I didn't work. I kind of forgot who I was. That person got turned upside-down, inside-out, and shaken all around. (Now do the Hokey-Pokey...sorry, couldn't keep it too heavy for too long!) It's nice to find me again.
Oh, but I'm still Mom. My little ones keep running in here as I'm writing. That will never change - and I'm glad for that. I love those silly, wonderful Dingoes! And I can't wait to show them my fantastic cover, too!
I almost titled this post, "At Last, My Right Arm is Complete Again!" - the line from Sweeney Todd, but then I realized...duh, that's my left arm. Ha! But I wanted to throw in that line anyway, so I had to reveal how flighty I can sometimes be. Oh, well.
I once had a favorite watch. I bought it while on vacation. It was a Disney watch, with a background of Briar Rose and Prince Phillip (the best Disney prince, hands down!) I wore that watch for a good ten years, replacing batteries and bands. I loved that watch!
But it died a year or so ago.
Broke my heart! I am not dressed until I put on my watch. I always like to know what time it is. I want to be prompt, if not early. Drives me crazy when others are late. Sure, circumstances come up. I understand that, and I allow for that. But if it's habitual...GRR! That comes from years of being a stage manager and showing up thirty plus minutes before everyone else.
So to replace my very best watch, I bought a cheapo one from Wal-Mart. I know - you get what you pay for. It wasn't bad. But the battery expired far quicker than I expected. The band fell apart, too. And to replace the battery and band would be just about as much as the watch was worth... My quest for finding my new favorite watch continued.
I bought another from Wal-Mart, but the day I took it out of the package, the battery quit. I was about fed up. In fact, I pushed aside my deep-seated need for watch-wearing, and went bare-armed. Yep. It was a big deal, I know.
Recently, I found a watch I could live with. Still not top-notch, but it will do for now. I still miss my Disney watch. *sniffles* But perhaps I'll find another one someday soon.
P.S. I have a whole philosophy on the way we look at time. So much so, that I created a creepy character in my book, Fusion. Hopefully, one day, my readers will get to "meet" him.
Last year, I stumbled upon this famous poster. Now, I may live under a rock or something, but I had never seen this before. I've since learned the history behind it, and now I see it everywhere! But at that moment, God spoke to me through this poster.
In my Circeae Tales stories, I refer to God as "The Crown." Just as God is the Trinity for Christians, the Crown is a trinity for the people of the Circeae System. He consists of the Creator King, the Ruler Prince, and the Eternal Companion. Three equal parts, different functions, but all the same. Yes, it's hard to grasp such a concept. Something I just take on faith.
I was at a low point in my writing. Doubts hit me hard, as they often do, and I was ready to give up. Strolling through a retail store, I saw this. I felt like God - the Crown - was personally tell me this exact phrase. "Keep Calm and Carry On." Yes, Sir!
It happens a lot now. I see the name of one of my characters on a sign somewhere, or I'll hear something that somehow relates. I take that as encouragement. I don't believe in coincidence. I believe it's God telling me to keep going. That someone out there needs my stories. I hope and pray that that's the case.
Do you hear from God in interesting ways? Even not-so-interesting ways? I bet you do. Just think about it.
This afternoon, I received a phone call from my contact at WestBow Press. "Check your email," she said. When I opened it, I had three mock-up covers awaiting me. One of their fabulous graphic designers took my idea for a cover and transformed it into something better that I ever could have hoped for! I am so proud of its cover!!
I will post it on the website as soon as we're ready to release it. But you're going to love it! It looks like a real book!
This process is super awesome, and I am loving every interaction I have with WestBow. I feel like I'm working with friends, even though I've never met them. I know that this is the path God has for me. As I've said before, I was uncertain about self-publishing. I've been reviewing my manuscript and realizing what a huge responsibility it is to go this route. I don't want to put messy junk out there. I don't want grammatical errors, or even typos. I will not release a sloppy book!
Thankfully, WestBow has my back. If anyone is looking at self-publishing, I recommend them. If I get the opportunity, I will work with them again.
"Each summer night, a county fair settles on the edge of a town somewhere..." ~Das Barbcu (Great musical, in case you don't know!)
Our happy little county fair has come to town! We've spent most of the week out in the dirt. The kids are enamored with the animals, but one can only look at the same cow so many times before one starts longing for air conditioning.
Fair is such a fun week, though. We have one pizza place in town - Pizza Hut. I love fair because there's a Domino's Pizza booth! I know - it's sick and wrong - but I grew up with Domino's. I have fond memories of ingesting many a pizza with my younger brother back in the day.
I submitted my world famous peanut butter fudge, and I helped the kids make my world famous chocolate fudge. The peanut butter won a blue ribbon, while the chocolate - stuff full of marshmallows, took a red ribbon. I also submitted a crocheted bumblebee Halloween costume I made last year for my oldest daughter. It, too, got a blue ribbon.
The real excitement is about to start, though. The rides have rolled in. The kids can hardly wait! Of course, ours are too young to take on the big thrill rides. But they are just as happy with dinky little trains and spinning things. For me, I enjoy the scent of cotton candy, the bright lights, and the sounds of the barkers. Reminds me of Disneyland - well, except for the barkers. We didn't have those when I worked there.
Tomorrow, it all wraps up. The animals return to their yards. The cowboys go back to their daily lives. And the fairgrounds turn back into the Carousel Museum. It's kind of sad, but with it comes the promise of school, fall, harvest, and then the holidays. That makes me one happy girl!
I can usually bribe my kids to walk across town with me with the promise of a visit to the donut shop. I get my exercise; they get a treat (and exercise, but don't tell them!). Whenever we go in, the tables usually have one or two older men, sitting around and shooting the breeze. They all grin their toothless grins and raise their coffee cups in greeting as we come in. One of them always asks how my little guy is - even though she is usually wearing pink. Yeah. It's small-town charm at its finest.
This morning, I went to work out. The usual crowd was in there, chatting as we made the circuit. It makes the time go quickly, even though I don't usually participate in the conversation. Today, though, the conversation was intriguing. The ladies finished ahead of me, but stuck around to keep talking. Even after I finished, they were still going...and I have to admit, I lingered longer than I should have.
The realization struck me - this is the women's equivalent of the men's donut shop . Or maybe the gym is replacing the beauty shop. The thought made me laugh. What social creatures we are. God made us that way, so it's completely understandable.
I watched a program on the History Channel a while back titled Comic Book Superheroes: Unmasked. Writer Dennis O'Neil said that the writers and editors of comic books are not just writers and editors, but they have become "custodians of folklore."
That phrase stuck in my head as I reviewed my manuscript today. All the characters that have been stuck in my head - Chase, Trista, Seraph, Redic, Selah, Cam, Brax...they are all about to become real. They haunted me until I got their stories down on paper. And now, they are about to see the light of day. To be introduced to readers around the world.
That's a pretty big deal.
And what a burden, too. I keep second-guessing myself. What if I haven't conveyed their stories in the best way possible? What if the readers don't fall in love with these characters as I have? Oh, the what ifs are endless! But I'll never know unless I try.
I want people to know how Selah and Seraph save the Circeae System by restoring the glory of the Ruler Prince. I want people to learn the legend of the space sailor KinCade. I want people to feel that thrill as the Logia finally overcome the Strages. It's been in my head for so long; it's almost like revealing a secret that's been eating at me. It's a relief. It's exciting! It's awesome!!
I am the custodian of the Circeae folklore. And I'm ready to share it. Are you ready to experience it?
Oh, I have so many things I want to write about today, but an event occured this afternoon that pre-empted all those thoughts. I received a phone call from WestBow Press that kicked my publishing journey into high gear! It's so exciting and wonderful! And I just have to gush for a few moments.
I had checked out WestBow Press several times. As far as self-publishers go, I think they are top-notch. I'd had a contract with a different self-publisher (who shall go nameless) for my very first (and most dreadful!) novel several years ago. I think I've blogged about that poor novel previously. Great story, but bad writing. It was my first novel! What could I do? I had to learn somehow...and thruogh that experience, I gained much knowledge. Anyway, I wasn't sure if I wanted to go through a traditional publisher or a self-publisher. I've heard great things about both. But there was really no way I could afford to self-publish. My husband is a pastor, and we have three small children. But then, this WestBow Press/Munce Group contest came along...and amazingly, my novel (the fourth one I wrote/revised/revised again) won the grand prize! So while I am using a self-publisher, I have not paid anything to get my book out there. God is so good to find ways of doing the neatest things!
So - this phone call - WBP needs my manuscript immediately because it needs to go to print by August 6th. Munce Group wants to promote it at the Christian Product Expo in September. Eee!! How grateful I am that someone wants to promote my work! See? It's all God, I tell you!
I looked over my manuscript this afternoon and found several errors. Things I could fix. Mechanisms I had repeated... Ugh! Revision never ends, people. But as one of my friends often says, "Do your best, and let God do the rest." So I'm placing it in His capable hands. I never imagined it would go this quickly. I stand in awe of it all. I applaud WestBow for their terrific staff. I applaud Munce for all that they are planning to do. And I applaud my powerful God. Without Him, none of this would be taking place.
As my characters often say, "Soli Deo Gloria!"
Tonight, I went for a walk. Our day had been jam-packed full of events - celebrating birthdays, traveling great distances just for a lunch date, enjoying our county fair (look for another blog on that soon!) I needed the time to decompress and think.
I love the sky in Colorado. It's wide open. Where we live, you can see from horizon to horizon. There are very few trees here. If anything blocks the view, it's grain elevators. And the color is unlike anywhere else. A beautiful, intense crystal blue. And the sunsets - wow! Breathtaking.
The sun was in its last moments of the day, and a few clouds were scattered through the sky. I had been chatting with God a bit when I turned a corner and saw this little cloud. It had such a bird shape to it. The song, "On the Wings of a Snow-White Dove" came to mind immediately. I don't know all the words, so as I made my way home, I kept repeating that one line over and over again. But it was a neat reminder of God's love for us.
Within just a few moments, the cloud changed, as clouds do. The sun slipped down below the horizon. And I walked home in the dark. But I wasn't alone. I had a Companion who had filled my heart.
So, if you're feeling weary and worn down, look up. You never know what message the sky may hold for you.
Tomorrow is my mama's 70th birthday. I may be biased, but I have to agree with the many people who say they can't believe she is 70 years old. She's beautiful! She really doesn't look her age. I only hope that I can age that gracefully.
I have a very special relationship with my mom. We talk every day - maybe 4 or 5 times. With cell phones, it's a whole lot easier. Of course, she only lives 2 hours away, so if I get super desperate, I can just pack up the kids and head her way. While she remains my mom - chockful of great advice and wisdom - she's also my best friend. Our conversations cover just about everything. I adore her!
She's been a role model for me, as well. She handles situations with grace and poise. She enjoys everyone she meets. She always keeps a level head. And she gushes love. She would do just about anything for anyone if she could. She loves the way Jesus tells us to love. I'm thankful I have an example, even though I may not always live up to it.
So, Mom, on the eve of your birthday, I wish to tell the world how very grateful I am for you. I know you've had some rough times in your life, but those experiences have made you who you are. I'm so glad that God saw it fit to put us together in this life because I surely don't think I could have made it without you. Thank you for who you are, all that you do, and most of all - for your unfailing love. You are the very best Mom in the whole world - and you teach me every day how to be there for my kids. I so appreciate you, and I love you with all my heart. Happy birthday, Mom.
Award-winning sci-fi author * Christ follower, wife, and mom * broadcast content producer. And yes, I am a real duchess. http://amzn.to/2eLTlH3