I've been going back through a manuscript that I finished a few years ago. One of the Circeae Tales stories. While I see that I have a lot of work to do on it, I am loving it! As I'm reading, I keep thinking, "I can't believe I wrote that!" Because I've been removed from it for a little while, I can enjoy it a little more objectively. It's holding my attention, and I don't want to put it down!
The book I am looking to publish next is Outlaw. It falls at number 7 in the timeline, but like all the rest, it stands alone. It's the story of Britt Lockhart and Laney Rose, who are found briefly in Asylum. They are hopelessly flawed characters, but what good story doesn't have that element? Here's the description:
Britt Lockhart is an ill-reputed scoundrel. Cole and Laney Rose are wards of the Progressive Legacy. Frightening events cause their worlds to collide and lifelong friendships are formed. Together, they infiltrate the highest echelons of the Legacy, attacking the organization from deep within. But when a mission goes wrong and leaves Laney with a life-altering complication, Britt is forced to rethink their options. Influenced by the classic tales, “The Scarlet Pimpernel” and “The Count of Monte Cristo.”
Those two novels have long been favorites of mine. They are both full of romance, intrigue, and honor. I only hope that Outlaw is half as good.
I really can't wait to be able to share these stories with you. I love how they all come together to form a bigger picture! My little brain couldn't have possibly done something like that. I have to chalk it up to divine inspiration. Soli Deo Gloria!
The People You Don't See
Having a background in theatre, I know what it's like to be behind the scenes. I studied stage management. That was my career path. I wanted to be backstage to help the magic onstage happen. It's a lot of hard work and very little glory. The actors get the applause. Sometimes, they acknowledge the pit orchestra. But there's a lot that happens back there that no one knows about.
I'm finding the same in publishing. There are editors who whip a book into shape, yet remain nameless. Graphic designers who create amazing, eyecatching covers. Marketing strategists, agents, booksellers...the list of people who catapult an author to success goes on and on. Oh, and let's not forget the readers and fans!
As part of my prize package for winning the WestBow Press/Munce Group's Writing Contest, I got to do a video to be posted on the WestBow website. I've blogged about my nerves prior to doing the video. Over the last few weeks, I worried about the things I said. Did I do it right? Did I sound okay? Look okay?
Well, today, I got to preview the final cut. Thank heavens for a wonderful videographer and a talented editor! I am so pleased with the final result. It's very professional, and they made me look good! (I'm not tooting my own horn there. Promise. I'm tooting their horns!) The video should go up on October 1st. I will post a link, or maybe even embed the video if I can.
While I may be the front man of Asylum, there are many others who put a lot of work into it. I'd like to take a moment to thank them all. But above everything else - and I believe those folks would agree with me - the glory belongs to God. As I've been signing in my books - Psalm 72:18..."Praise be to the Lord God, the God of Israel, who alone does marvelous deeds."
As I've told you all, I've been working on compiling my list of anomalies. These are my characters, planets, ships, and objects that are part of the Circeae system. It's been a good exercise for me because I'm getting all my descriptions down for each of the characters. I'm digging through what I have written and placing all that information in one document. About time, you might say...but I'm not your typical writer. I do things outside the norm.
Today, I worked on a couple of characters that just made me smile. I thought about their stories and the interaction between them, and I feel like I have this huge secret that I just can't wait to share with the world! The characters mentioned in Asylum have their own stories to be told.
It's so neat to hear back from people who have read Asylum. The best part is all the positive feedback I'm hearing. I know it's not perfect. I know I still have a lot to learn as a writer, but people are enjoying it! That just blows me away. And they want more. Yay!!
I have more. Lots more. Nine books more. I just need to find the right venue to get it out there. I could rush the process and publish them all on Kindle, but I feel like I owe my characters more than that. Don't get me wrong. There are authors who do publish that way, and they've been successful. I think that's wonderful! But I'm a traditionalist. I want to see the printed page.
In Valor, my main character collects books because they've been banned by the government. Part of me is in that character, Not because I think our government is going to outlaw books. But I love the physical weight of a book in your hand. I love the smell. I love turning the pages and exploring more than I should at one time. I love flipping to the end to see what characters make it!
But I just can't wait to share more of my universe with you. Asylum is just the start. I just hope that you'll enjoy the others, too!
I often find myself thinking about the movie Little Women. I saw the version starring Winona Ryder in the theatre. Loved it. That was actually my introduction to the story. I hadn't read it as a child, but as an adult, I certainly appreciated it. I had a good friend who had a literary crush on Professor Bhaer. We squealed through the movie together, sobbing at all the appropriate moments. It was wonderful.
As a writer, I replay the scene in my head after Jo has presented Friedrich with her manuscript. He is kind with his disapproval, and he tells her to "write what you know."
Oh, good grief. I'm in trouble!
If I wrote what I knew...sure, I'd have some humorous stories of my children's antics, but that's what Facebook is for! I admire the writers who can take their everyday experiences and whip them into a New York Times Bestseller. But that's not me. That's not where my passion lies.
This morning, I got to thinking about this "write what you know" directive. I don't know about space travel and foreign worlds. I've barely been out of this country! I don't know how spacecrafts work. I could list the "I don't know" stuff all day, but you get the point. But the more and more I thought about it, the more and more I realized...I do know. I'm well versed in all things Star Trek and Star Wars. I could recite Firefly episodes to you. I've driven through crazy snow storms and pretended I was entering hyperspace. (Even quoted Rick Moranis in Spaceballs - "Ridiculous speed!")
I know sci-fi. And I know what I like.
So that's my justification, Professor Bhaer. I write what I love. I love those characters full of honor and truth. I love those worlds, strange and mysterious. I love the scope of imagination and that my God created me in His likeness...to create! And if a reader enjoys escaping with me on these fantastic voyages, all the merrier am I.
If we all wrote just what we know...I think we'd lose out on many amazing stories.
Pedal the Plains
I have to blog before I burst!!
Today has been such a fantastic day! We had a lively event in our rather sleepy town. A bike tour, called Pedal the Plains, finished the second leg of the journey in Burlington. We had a huge celebration - food vendors, local crafters, and music.
I signed up to sell and sign copies of Asylum. I didn't know what to expect, but of course, I hoped to sell out. I didn't, but that really doesn't matter. I enjoyed seeing the community folks and the visitors. I set up near the main stage and got to rock out to some awesome bands. My favorite was the Parlor Pickers. It was wonderful to experience the moments the day had to offer.
I did get to sign a few books for some very special people. And I met some new friends who made me so happy because they wanted a picture with the author. And the biggest honor of all - I got to place a signed copy into the hands of the governor of Colorado - John Hickenlooper. He was sincere and kind as he offered me a few moments of his precious time. I am so blessed!
This whole day was really good for me. I had to come up with quick answers to the "What's it about?" question. Someone looked at the table, pointed, and said to his friends, "Hey, look! They have a writer here." It was so good to have a stranger call me a writer! It confirmed my identity in that role.
I am grateful to have been part of Pedal the Plains. I'm even more grateful to those folks who stopped by and took a chance on my book. Thank you for such a great day!
As I've traveled along this road to publishing, I've often heard that the hardest part for an author is marketing. I'm here to tell you - it's true. Authors have the best job in the world! We can imagine and explore worlds all from the comfort of our favorite chairs. We craft words. We plot other peoples' lives. It's awesome! But it's all too easy to remain introverted and quiet and seal off from the real world.
I don't often like to talk about myself with others. Call it humility. Call it consideration. Whatever. I just don't like to burden folks with whatever might be going on in my life at the time. Sure, there are certain friends who are close and would listen to just about anything I have to say. Family is that way, too. But just walking up to someone and unloading about my life - way out of my comfort zone.
Of course, Facebook and Twitter have that covered. We can share whatever we want with the world, but it's different because we are removed. We are sitting behind a computer screen, and the person on the other end has the choice to ignore the clever quips we post.
But face-to-face is entirely different. And I'm having to learn to use my personality to sell my books. As I've written before, one of the hardest questions I get is "What is your book about?" Determining just the right thing to say to intrigue that person isn't easy.
I'm having to rely on my stage techniques to do this. Instead of Ashley-the-Neurotic-Writer, I put on the persona of Ashley-the-Published-Author. It's a character, just as much as any of those I have played in the melodramas I've done. And I'm not being disingenuous. She is part of me (the part I've always wanted to be!) I just have to cling to the thought that someone thought enough of my work to name me the winner of the contest that led to publication. I have to load that confidence into my mainframe brain and let it take over my programming.
Yesterday, I scoured the internet for groups to join. I connected with a few self-publishing groups and sci-fi groups. I'm asking people to spread the word about my book. I'm putting myself on the line by taking on guest blogging opportunities. And this weekend, I will be selling copies of my book at a local event. I'll be greeting people and talking with them about my book.
I step back for a few moments and think, "Wow, this is crazy! How in the world did all this happen?" It's all God. There's no other way I could be doing this. And I have to trust that He will continue to work through this for His glory. I also have to trust that He will direct my steps and my every word - be it spoken or written. Soli Deo Gloria.
Excerpt from Asylum
Asylum is now available online or through your favorite retail bookseller! Here is a brief glimpse of Chase's reaction when he learns that Trista is onboard the Straightjacket. Enjoy!
The men exchanged concerned glances, which caught Chase’s eye. “Tell him,” Lancaster whispered to Church.
Sitting back in the chair, Chase rested his arms on the chair and clasped his hands over his middle. “What’s going on?” he asked, looking between his men.
Church slid an identifier across the table toward him. The image was of a young woman with short brown hair and eyes that he couldn’t forget if he tried. Oh, by the Crown …
“Trista,”Chase whispered, lifting the card closer to his face. The card read, Krissa Carlisle. “Where did you get this?” he demanded.
Church rubbed his chin before he met Chase’s gaze. “She’s onboard, Chase,” he said quietly.
Surprise and shock stole Chase’s breath. “Where?” he insisted, rising to head to the door.
“The men took her prisoner, Cap,” Lancaster said.
Church stepped between Chase and the door, shooting Lancaster a disapproving scowl. His look softened as he stared at Chase. “She’s safe, Chase. She’s alone, locked in the conference room. Marlen’s watching over her. I know you want to see her, but we need to get on this plan. We’re working against time.”
Chase swallowed hard, nodding as he stared at Krissa’s identifier. Why the Crown would choose to bring them back together when he was so broken was beyond him. And as much as he wanted to see her, he had to ask himself if he was ready to do so. According to previous reports, she wouldn’t remember him. Could he take that kind of hurt?
For more excerpts, check out the Asylum page.
WestBow Press Blog
A couple weeks ago, WestBow Press requested an article from me to be included in a catalog they are working on with the Munce Group. My book is supposed to be featured since it won their writing contest. Yay, book promotion!!
Anyway, the article showed up on WBP's blog! So here is the article. And the link to the WestBow Press blog, in case you want to see it.
Classic Sci-Fi Meets a Christian Worldview
I’m frequently asked, “How do you find time to write?” I’m a mom and a pastor’s wife. Sure, life is busy, but writing is my outlet. My identity. And I often joke about it being my therapy.
Since becoming a mom seven years ago, I’ve written a science fiction series titled The Circeae Tales. In the mainstream marketplace, sci-fi is peppered with explicit content. Speculative fiction, as the industry calls it, is on the rise with independent publishers, but walk into any Christian bookstore, and you’ll find mostly historical fiction or romance.
That’s wonderful for those who have a taste for such fiction. My preference, however, leans toward the fantastical. So I decided to write stories like those I’d want to read—fast-paced action set among solar systems. Characters who represent honor, chivalry, and light. Plots that reveal God’s hand at work and that share His truth. A family saga connected by a fluid storyline.
Asylum is one of ten Circeae Tales novels. Chase Leighton, already embroiled in a cosmic battle between good and evil, loses his wife to the governing faction of the Circeae system. Once he learns her death was a deception, he becomes obsessed with finding her. In the midst of agonizing trials, Chase’s faith falters, but God, as He always does, holds fast and leads Chase back to a path of righteousness.
It’s my prayer that Asylum—and eventually the other Circeae Tales novels—will pique an interest in Christian sci-fi. Perhaps it might even plant a few seeds in those readers who wouldn’t normally pick up a Christian book. Above all else, though, I pray that God will be glorified.
Give Me an A! Give Me an E!
A friend of mine recently asked me how to pronounce "Circeae". Before we go any farther, it's /SIR-see/. I told her that one reason I put sci-fi/fantasy books back on the shelf is if they have names I can't pronounce. When I set out to write my own stories, I vowed never to do that...and yet the title of my series is hard to figure out! She told me that creativity doesn't often flow with our intentions. Quite true!
As I've written before, "Circeae" translates to "daughter of the sun." I thought that sounded neat. I wanted to create a parallel universe that held an edge of familiarity, but was distant enough allow for different, foreign concepts. The Circeae System is home to humans, just like you and me. I intended for the solar system to be the obvious design of an intelligent creator. Now, don't take that the wrong way. I'm not tooting my own horn. I look at our world and its place in the solar system, and marvel. It's quite a "coincidence" that our planet just happens to be in the right place and have the right conditions to hold life. I chalk that one up to intelligent design. So through the Circeae System, I am just pointing back to God. It's all about Him.
The other thing I liked about the name "Circeae" was the "ae" combination at the end. My first and middle initial. That's part of me there. I also tried to incorporate that throughout the series. Some of the planets have that combination, as do a few of the characters. I started to name all the Logia with the "ae" somewhere in their names, but that got to be a little much. However, their symbol does have an "ae" hidden in it. The above design is a crude rendering, as I am a writer, not an artist.
We are working on a site update. Soon, you will be able to explore the Circeae System beyond the simple starfield map. It's going to be super cool - so be sure to come back! We'll also be adding some character information and excerpts. You'll want to return!
The Circeae Anolmalies
I have this vision for my series... When I was younger, I was really into Star Trek. I collected pictures, posters, novels. I attended the conventions. But my most prized treasure was the Compendium. What a wealth of information about the Star Trek universe! I loved it! Later, when Star Wars took over my love for Trek (I still like them both...), I enjoyed reading the Chronology and other informative books. I want something similar for The Circeae Tales.
As I am gathering my descriptions of characters and terms I've made up, ships and planets I created, I am referring to them as The Circeae Tales Anomalies. Anomaly is such a cool word. And it seems to fit my "out-of-the-norm" creations. So after all ten books are published, I would like to put out an eleventh book - a collection of my Anomalies.
I already posted a little bit about a few of the character anomalies in Asylum. But I wanted to write a bit about the anomalies in the story arc. The big picture.
First and foremost, I must explain the Crown. This is the triune God of the Circeae system, modeled after the Christian Trinity. The Crown is comprised of the Creator King (God the Father), the Ruler Prince (Jesus the Son), and the Eternal Companion (the Holy Spirit). I love and relate to the Biblical description of Jesus as King of king and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16). The three components came together in such a neat way!
In Crepusculum and Valor, we meet the Ruler Prince in physical form. His name is Prince Ternion. "Ternion" means a group of three. He is the ruler of the Circeae system, as prophesied for many years. These stories - the hardest for me to write - are an allegory of the stories of Jesus we know and love.
The Lumen and Logia are followers of the Crown. Lumen is Latin for "light", while Logia translates to "breastplate". The word also refers to a collection of the sayings of Jesus. The Crepusculum - Latin for "twilight" (no reference to Stephanie Meyer there...promise!) - are corrupted, fallen Logia.
And as there are spiritual enemies of God, there are spiritual enemies of the Crown. These are called the Strages, which is Latin for "the defeat." They serve a contrived, decoy god known as Carnifex - Latin for "executioner". Their real leader is a physical manifestation of evil that occured when servants of the Crown decided to separate from Him. (Sound familiar?) This leader takes on the name Lucian Thaedrial (an anagram of "death" and "liar"), which then changes to Raef Thaed ("fear death" rearranged), and eventually, the Fulcrum of the Tribunal (leadership of the Progressive Legacy) who deposes Prince Ternion. He sticks around throughout the series. Bad, bad guy.
I liked the name "Ghosts" for my band of freedom fighters. They haunt the Legacy, avenging the deaths of Logia and Lumen who have suffered in the rise of the cruel government. It also suits their nature.
I named the Progressive Legacy after a term I often heard on the news - progressive socialism. I wanted to give the government a "nice" sounding ring to explain why some of the people of Circeae might have been duped into thinking that the Legacy would actually benefit the system. What do you always wish to leave behind for your children? A sterling legacy.
I wish I could take credit for all these thoughts, but I must point it all back to inspiration from above. These characters and their stories would not leave me alone. They were constantly in my thoughts until I could actually get the words out. They still visit me, as not all of their stories are complete. There is so much more - this is barely surface-level stuff.
I'm not really sure what God wants to do with this work of fiction, but I do place it in His very capable hands. I'm just excited that He wanted to use me in such a way as to deliver these stories!
Award-winning sci-fi author * Christ follower, wife, and mom * broadcast content producer. And yes, I am a real duchess. http://amzn.to/2eLTlH3