Friday, July 30, 2010
I figured today would be a great day to share a song I've had in my favorites list for the last week. It's called "Fail Us Not" from the band 1000 Generations. It's a song that simply talks about God never failing us, but I think it sums up nicely where I'm at today and what today represents to me.
Today is a day that represents the end of the beginning. A landmark. Today marks exactly one year to the date that I was wrongfully fired from my last job. I've spoken of the circumstances surrounding the event multiple times through this blog. The fact that it's been a year and I'm still standing is a reason to celebrate.
Today marks one full year that my wife and I have been completely and utterly relying on God to bring through provision and finances. Despite our incredible financial situation - God has provided $1700 of bills each month with only $1080 in income - He has been faithful. We haven't run late on a single bill - or credit card minimum - since day one of this journey. I like to illustrate our situation by saying it feels like crossing from one ledge to another over a massive chasm. We've been mid-air this whole time, with nothing under us but God.
No safety nets.
No escape hatch.
No Plan B.
I don't want anyone to be mistaken. We didn't embark on this journey in blind faith. We were called to this walk and because of that, God has never forsaken us. Not once. Not ever.Nor will He.
Finances aren't the only miracles we've seen. We've seen healthy boundaries erect between us and certain family members. We've been given the strength and the grace to say goodbye to certain friends that just weren't healthy for us. We've even seen some people who were against this journey in the beginning who have looked at our testimony now and just been left in wonder. Just lately my editor went in for a double mastectomy along with having some of her lymph nodes removed because of breast cancer. But when they ran the tests on the lymph nodes, they found no cancer in the nodes themselves, even though earlier they had run a PET scan and found there to be hot spots in those same nodes that were removed.
I have been amazed on more than one occasion on this walk.
So where are we now in this incredible adventure? What's next? I can't really say. Not because it's a big secret, but because I honestly don't know. I feel like I'm in a waiting place, a limbo - like God is finishing up preparations on whatever it is He's about to roll out. Or maybe there's still a few lessons I need to learn before moving on to the next level.
After receiving counsel from those close to us, I know for a fact that we are still on the right path. That's becoming more and more obvious to me. And if we're on the right path, and if God did make the promises we believe He made so long ago, then it means we will inevitably end up where God promised we'd end up.
The trick is to keep holding on. To look with faith to the destination we have had on our hearts, even though our circumstances hold no indication that we're anywhere near reaching our dreams. But a walk of faith is just that, right? Walking in the unseen, not the seen. If I were to use the circumstances around me as any indication of what God has in store for us, I'd be sorely mistaken. Our cars are falling apart, our finances are slim to none, and we're just a bit worn out from this journey.
But I know that my God is faithful and He will come through when the timing is right. When the timing is perfect.
I have a strange feeling He might just bring about the breakthrough we need when I'm least expecting it...
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Months ago, our good friend and acclaimed photographer, Rhiannon Teaters, approached my wife and I and said she wanted to do a photo shoot of us for our five year wedding anniversary. I thought it was a great gesture and agreed to it. My wife - well, she got this crazy idea into her head: Trash the Dress. She approached me with the idea of trashing the wedding garb we wore on our special day five years ago and getting some great photography out of it.
At first I was wondering where she would get such a ridiculous idea. I have been known to be crazy at frequent intervals, but even I found it a bit odd to be considering destroying a wedding outfit that usually gets passed down to your children. Then I saw pictures she found online of other couples that have done the same thing. I was enamored by poses of other couples sitting in muddy swamps, jumping into lakes, loitering in downtown alleys, splashing each other with paint - just a few ways they found to destroy their sacred wedding icons.
I agreed. I figured it would be fun, even though I wasn't all that keen on leaping in a lake in a suit and tie. So last Friday, Rhiannon went out with us and captured some stunning pictures - first of us in our clothes before they became irreparably damaged. Then she took some shots of us squirting each other with paint. That was a ton of fun! After that, my wife and I changed into another set of clothes and headed out for round two. Apparently my mother-in-law didn't want her wedding dress anymore either and decided to donate it to the cause. More fodder.
We traveled up to Goldfield Ghost Town and took some pictures in front of the old church, saloon, and even some on the railroad tracks. Then we meadered out to Canyon Lake where we nabbed some awesome shots of us wading in the swampy lake, fully clothed in wedding attire. Those pics, as well as the ghost town pics, are still being worked on, but I'll post a few of them up as soon as they come through. :)
It was a fun experience, one we'll never forget, and Rhiannon grabbed some great photography out of it.
What a great way to celebrate a five year landmark!
You can check out more of Rhiannon's photography at www.rawcanvasphotography.com
Monday, July 26, 2010
After doing some research, I decided to drop the ebook price of my latest novel, Black Earth: End of the Innocence, from $7 to $2.99. I've come to notice recently that $2.99 seems to be a pretty popular price for ebooks nowadays, especially ebooks from authors who haven't become 'famous' yet.
This new price is for all ebook versions, including Nook, Kindle, and Sony Reader. It's the perfect price to score the first book in my Black Earth series before the sequel comes out this Fall. :)
Monday, July 19, 2010
It's been a doozy of a month so far. My editor and close family friend was just released from the hospital yesterday after having a double mastectomy. She's doing remarkably well! :) Before she went into the hospital, she managed to finish editing the second book in my Black Earth series, The Broken Daisy. How she found the strength and determination to do that is beyond me, but she did it! Now the fate of the book is entirely back in my hands.
So for the next couple weeks, that's what I'll be busy with. Going through her edits, doing the last of my own, formatting the manuscript, finishing the cover design, writing the back cover copy, and then ordering a proof copy to see how everything turns out. Self-publishing can take a lot of work sometimes, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. The feeling of accomplishment once that paperback is in my hands is a feeling I cherish every time I self-publish a novel.
Aside from the novel, I am also finishing up work on my new website design. I plan to reveal it sometime next week. You can take a peek at the current one here. I am also going to be lowering the price of the ebook edition of Black Earth: End of the Innocence, so an announcement will be made about that in the coming week. Once those things are out of the way, it will free me up to start work on some audio projects and maybe some more short stories.
Things are starting to come together now, I just have to keep at it, stay focused, and not get detoured along the way. Makes for a busy end of the summer, but what better way to start the fall then with a number of projects finished and out the door?
Photo Credit - Bludgeoner86
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
To start off, I'll state what I found great about this book: the cover, the sepia tone printing, the premise. Yeah, that's about it.
During the gold rush in the Klondike, a call for inventions is put out for a way to mine gold out of the ice. One particular scientist answers the call with a machine called the Boneshaker. But something goes horribly awry and several blocks of downtown Seattle are destroyed with the machine, releasing a nasty blight gas that turns people into the living dead. Sixteen years later, and Briar, the wife of the scientist who created the Boneshaker, is living with their son, Zeke. Zeke sets off to the walled off city of zombies to find the truth of his family's history and thus, Briar sets off after him.
Zombies? Steampunk? Alternate history? Even pirates? What an awesome combination - conceptually, anyways. I don't feel Cherie pulled it off though. For one, her writing seemed mostly dull and flat. There was an occasional line or two that cried out with a unique style that could very well be Cherie's voice, had she maybe honed it and used it for the majority of the book. But that's not really the case here. Her way of describing things just didn't work. I had a hard time imagining this alternate history, picturing what the blight infested city looked like, or even imagining these characters to be anything more than two dimensional because most of her description just felt hollow and sometimes confusing. I found myself having to reread passages to understand what it was she was saying.
The characters all fit the roles they were assigned to, though they all felt sub par. None of them captured my attention, nor did I find that I could relate to any of them or even find myself caring about what happened to them. Part of this might have been because I felt there were too many 'coincidences' in the book. Way too many times where 'fate' came together to pull the story through, where things lined up just at the right time to propel the story further or lead everyone to the places they were meant to go. I can suspend disbelief for a while, but this book left me not too concerned about the characters because I knew that if one of the characters was to fall into trouble, the author would just have a way written out for them to 'somehow' survive the situation. It led me fearing a bit of deus ex machina.
The most obvious indicator that a novel has my complete attention and interest is that I am anxious to get back to it, to pick up where I left off, to find out what the characters are going to get themselves into or out of next. This wasn't the case for me with Boneshaker. It just lacked...I don't really know. A spark, a pizazz. It felt like a melting pot for some unique genres that just didn't boil things down to a story that captivated me. I found myself skipping my reading sessions for days at a time because I really just didn't want to get back into the book. I finally just finished it so I could say I read it.
To me, even the ending seemed a bit anticlimactic and maybe a bit forced. However, I believe this is actually the first in a series, so hopefully the second one will spice things up a bit, if I want to bother picking it up.
Monday, July 12, 2010
It's Monday. Today is one of those days I just feel like cruising through in a haphazard fashion, tossing all structure to the wind. Unfortunately, I do have specific tasks that need to be accomplished today, but it doesn't mean I'm above procrastination or goofiness - we all need a little bit of both elements in our Mondays, do we not?
So, in honor of this particular Monday, I thought I'd introduce everyone to one of my favorite time wasting websites: Cheezburger.com. Cheezburger.com consists of a number of different websites all dedicated to one thing - humor. You'll find archive upon archive of hilarious photos, videos, and news clippings that will have you in stitches before break time.
* A heads up though if you're a parent, some of the content is not child-appropriate. *
Some of the sites branched to Cheezburger.com...
Friday, July 9, 2010
For a while now, I've spoken on this blog of impossible things. God has carried my wife and I through a year of financial miracles, surprising us every month and drawing those around us closer to Him. Walking this journey has done more than just pay the bills. It's opened my eyes to God's true personality. I realize that God wants to do miracles in our lives. He wants to do the impossible. He wants to heal, He wants to come through with provision, He wants to help us walk out our purpose. It all depends on our willingness to follow Him, our willingness to walk out in faith.
Recently, my editor was diagnosed with breast cancer. If there's one disease I hate more than any other, it's breast cancer. My grandmother passed away of breast cancer years ago, and I have an bitter distaste in my mouth for the disease. The fact that my editor - a very close family friend and confidant - has it is bad news. But it's not impossible news.
See, I've seen with my own eyes what God can do. She's seen what God can do, in her own life and in the journey that my wife and I have been walking out over the last year. Most people don't realize that God specializes in impossibilities of all kinds - not just bringing in someone's rent for the last year. No, God is a God of healing. If you take a long hard look at the New Testament, you'll see that it was the majority of Jesus' ministry. And I firmly believe His power isn't just limited to those 'old days'.
I believe my good friend will be healed. I believe she'll pull through this challenging time in her life. With the support of those around her that love and care for her, and a God that looks for impossibilities so He can show mankind His awesome power, she'll come through with an awesome testimony of God's absolute authority over all things...even cancer.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Being a self-published author, I'm in charge of all of my own marketing and promotion. I am the sole individual responsible for aiming this franchise in the direction I think it should go in regards to social marketing, advertising, networking and project creation. This responsibility brings a number of challenges to my plate, but the one thing I need to keep an eye on is making sure I get my material plugged into each available corner of the market.
Recently I had a visit with my good friend, Paeter Frandsen. Paeter is the creator of Spirit Blade, a Christian scifi/fantasy audio drama that immerses the listener in an epic tale created with voice acting, special sound effects, and other audio treats. Audio drama is definitely a corner of the market that has yet to be tapped out, and Paeter is doing a great job bringing this unique experience to the world.
During this visit, Paeter and I discussed the possibilities of me entering the audio market. I've mentioned my interest in this area to Paeter before, but I've been a bit hesitant to take on the podcasting world because I haven't felt I've had the time or energy to put into learning the aspects of it. My eyes have been opened though to the fact that audio is a pretty big corner of the market, and if I want this fiction franchise to grow, I'm going to have to expand into it.
So in the next couple months, I'll be doing just that. I'm going to start off by creating a podcast that will run biweekly or monthly. This will help me to get the basics of audio recording down. Right now I hate the sound of my own voice, so it would benefit me to get over that. I plan to have my podcasts cover topics revolving around the Christian scifi/fantasy genre, but it won't be limited only to the Christian aspects of scifi/fantasy. I plan to include some reviews, some interviews, and some other goodies.
I was directed to a free program called Audacity for recording. I've already had the chance to play with it a bit and it seems it will do just fine for the beginning stages of my audio endeavors. My dad gave me a Radio Shack mic. It won't give me the highest quality - like a $1000 mic might, but it's a great start considering my non-existent budget.
From podcasting, I hope to evolve toward audio chapters of my novels, then to full blown audio books. Right now, we'll just start with the basics and see where it all goes. Stay tuned for more info on my upcoming podcast adventures...
Photo Credit - Suchitra Prints
Friday, July 2, 2010
When I first wrote some of the plot for my Expired Reality series, I included time travel because I thought it would be fun to experiment with. I grew up as a huge fan of Back to the Future, really got into the Terminator series, and I even took a decent interest in The Butterfly Effect - the first one of course, not the crappy ones that were made afterward.
My first adventure in writing about time travel was mention of my main character, David Corbin, traveling briefly to the future. No big deal. But when I started writing the first book in my Black Earth series, Black Earth: End of the Innocence, which actually takes place 100 years before my Expired Reality series, I swore to myself that I would never include time travel that presented a character traveling to the past. I know that once you send a character into the past, you have to make sure all of the dominoes are set up accurately in order to portray a realistic present and/or future. A ripple in time causes so many headaches in the writing world, and presents a massive chore in regards to consistency issues, which are already a challenge to keep track of in a long-running series.
Despite my determination not to include time travel in Black Earth, I did. A character - Professor Howard Grey - traveled from the future to change his reality's past. Grey wanted to bring special technology to those in his past so they could be better prepared to go up against their dark future. I realized that Grey was incredibly vital to the plot of the Black Earth series as a whole, and so I caved in despite my protests and let time travel stay in the story.
Because of this, an alternate timeline was created. An alternate reality really, where Grey's actions in the past sent shockwaves into the future, changing it from the one he had come from to a completely new one. I'm not going to explain all of the different theories of time travel here because everyone has their own theory of what 'would happen' and 'could happen' if a character time traveled. Needless to say, it's created a headache for me as a writer, considering the book it is featured in is the first in a decently sized series.
Next came my draft of Black Earth: The Broken Daisy - the second book in my Black Earth series. Another time traveling character popped into existence, despite my volatile protests, this one traveling back in time from the alternate reality that Grey created by coming back in time himself. *sigh* Anyone have any Excedrin?
This new character - her name is simply Jennifer for purpose of this blog post - arrived in Black Earth to change her own destiny and, because she arrived after Professor Grey did, she ended up creating another alternate future. This alternate future that she created is the Expired Reality series. Lends nicely to the name of the series, but it has sent my head spinning in so many different directions. I get motion sickness pretty easily, so I'd really appreciate it if someone let me off this ride soon or at least pass me a barf bag.
Now I have to keep a very close eye on what direction the technology, the politics, the social system of Black Earth is heading in and make sure it ties in with where Expired Reality is at when I reveal the new rewrites I'm currently doing. Oh, the intricasies of writing science fiction. :P