Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Acquire the Fire

This last weekend I was honored to be part of the leadership group that went with my church's youth group to Acquire the Fire in Phoenix. For those who don't know, ATF is an intense Christian youth conference that travels around the states during the year. It consists of worship, sessions, skits and interactive surveys. This year it took place at the state fairgrounds from 7pm-10:30pm on Friday night and 8am-9pm on Saturday.

Now, I've been to a couple of Acquire the Fires in the past with another youth group I used to help lead over, but this year there was something different in the air. It could have been the intimate melodies from the worship band, Unhindered. It could have been the sessions and skits that spoke to the youth about real-life issues like pregnancy and acceptance. It could have even been the close fellowship I had with the youth group I was with.

The more I think about it though, the more I realize what it was that made this year different than others I have attended ATF in: The theme this year was having an encounter with God. But the main subject that was spoken about was being smitten in love with God. Smitten. Rhymes with mitten and kitten, pigeon and rippen. Even rhymes with fitten. Not sure some of those are even words. Anyway, smitten. The definition of smitten is to be very much in love. Smitten with God. Very much in love with God.

I think we as Christians sometimes get lost in the rules and regulations of religion and overlook the three most important elements of life: faith, hope and love. Love. To be in love with God. To be in love with the One who created us. God knows the number of hairs on our head. Psalm 139 speaks of how God's thoughts about us outnumber the grains of sand. Zephaniah 3:17 tells us that God sings over us.

We overlook these things on a daily basis. That God thinks about us, that He sings over us. Who are we that God would take the time to do these things? One of the speakers at ATF mentioned how God woos us like a groom woos his bride. God knows our favorite things, our hopes and dreams, our passions and desires. He tries daily to bring these things to us, to surprise us, to rejoice in us. Do we have our eyes open to experience these things or are we so caught up in our daily lives that we don't even acknowledge that God is there - unless of course something is going wrong in our lives. Needless to say, this conference - though it was designed for youth - really opened my own eyes to who God really is and what He means to me.

On top of the awesome experience at ATF, I was able to hear and meet female worship singer, Sarah Reeves and her band. She was selling CD's and she and the band were signing them. I even took the photo op and got a picture with her. She has an amazing voice and her songs speak to the heart about drawing closer to God, breaking down walls and rising up in unity with each other. Awesomeness!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Interview with the Author

Just recently I was honored to be interviewed by my good friend, Paeter Frandsen. Paeter and I have been friends for a while now, but originally only knew each other through the grapevine at the local church we both attended. Back in those days, I was still penning the first drafts of Expired Reality and he was putting on a stage production of Spirit Blade, his acclaimed science fiction/fantasy audio drama.

Besides being a friend, Paeter is also the creator of Spirit Blade Productions, a company that encompasses his audio projects. In my own opinion, Paeter is an extremely talented individual. His knowledge for recording, mixing story elements and casting voice actors to bring characters to life in his work is unparalleled. Not to mention his avenue for telling his stories is one that I feel is untapped in this present day in age, bringing to life a fresh avenue for storytelling.

For those interested, you can learn more about Spirit Blade and Paeter's other projects at http://www.spiritblade.net. For those that are interested in listening to the interview that Paeter did with me, check it out here. This interview got me to open up a bit about some elements of my new novel, Black Earth: End of the Innocence that I wouldn't normally discuss with others. But, Paeter has a way of getting me to talk about my writing and to tell things that I would consider to be secrets. That's okay. That's his job as the interviewer and my job is to tell stories, so they go well hand in hand.

Monday, November 16, 2009

My First Book Signing...

This last Saturday, I had my very first book signing. Borders Books and Music in Mesa, Arizona was my first spot and I had a blast doing it there. The store staff was more than friendly, the accommodations for my signing were wonderful and I just had a great time overall.

All in all, I ended up selling 15 copies of Black Earth: End of the Innocence, 11 of those going to complete strangers. I had a great time meeting new people and seeing just how supportive some can be of independent self-published authors.

This signing really helped me to get over my nervousness of being in front of people I don't know. I managed to stand the 5 hours at the front door of the store and hand out fliers with my book info, cover, ISBN#, price and places online it can be bought at. I also took a break here and there and walked the entire store, handing out the fliers to anyone I may have missed. This location of Borders has two entrances, and since I was only able to cover one, it left a lot of people missed when they came in through the other entrance.

I think the 5 hour window was perfect for doing the signing in. I did 11am-4pm and I think that is a nice busy block of time to really get people's attention about my book and not wear myself out too much. I never took a lunch break, but that was because I wanted to make the most of every minute I had there in the store. Eventually, my brothers and sister showed up and they helped hand out fliers over by the other entrance of the store. Whether I sold a book with each flier or not, the fliers have my website address on them, so people can always check out my stuff online when it is more convenient for them.

All in all, it was a great experience, one I hope to repeat in the coming months at other local bookstores.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Nothing Beats a New Book

If I have one wish in this life, it's that books - in their physical form - never become outdated. Don't get me wrong here. I think that there is definitely a niche and a market for online stories. I have partaken in such things myself, writing short stories that are only available online. However, nothing really beats going down to my local bookstore (or ordering online) a brand new book that I can hold in my hands. A book that I can bring with me to the coffee shop. A book that I can sit on my patio and read. A book that will stare at me as it sits on my nightstand, begging me to open it up and read it's beautiful muse. Kind of like my cat when it wants to be fed, but more sincere.

The appreciation for the written word hasn't died down in my opinion. Even with the rise of online this and web that, I think there will always be a love for a physical novel in one's hands, a tome of endless adventures and romance that we can get lost in whenever we so choose.

Just recently, I headed down to my local Borders and, with one of their generous coupons, purchased a new novel to read. Granted, I have a half dozen novels on my bookshelf that are still only half read or haven't been opened up at all. But I love the experience of purchasing a new book and I don't think that anything quite equals the ecstatic joy that I feel when I do. And at only a couple of dollars, who could pass up such an opportunity?

 For those that are curious, I picked out Star Wars: Allegiance by Timothy Zahn. Star Wars books have been some of my favorite since high school and I don't think that will ever change. Timothy Zahn is a craftsman in the Star Wars universe, quickly becoming one of my favorite authors for the series next to A. C. Crispin who did the Han Solo Trilogy.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Expired Reality: The Dark Past

Well, I'm off to a good start for National Novel Writing Month (NanoWrimo). I have 7,127 words written (past my daily goal for today) and I could probably sit down and write out more for the rest of the day, but alas, I have other responsibilities, like 2 other novels I am already working on.

The story I decided to work on this year for Nano is a bit different than years past. I usually work on full novels that are sequels to the novels I have already put into play. One year I did a short story anthology. But this year I decided to mix things up a bit and have some fun. So I decided to do one novel, split in half, with each half telling a back story to a particular character. Both characters can be found in my Expired Reality series and both characters have been proven to be some of my readers' favorites.

The tentative title to my Nano novel is Expired Reality: The Dark Past. One story will be based on Turquoise - Wedge, detailing the life she had as a child shortly before she discovered her giftings and her life took a turn for the worse. The other story will detail the incident in the clock tower that almost took Carrie Green and Veronica Amorou's life. This story is hinted at in my first Expired Reality book, Endangered Memories in Carrie's diary entries. This event sparked off Veronica's life debt to David Corbin and pushed her to learn a dark means of protecting him, one that caused her to break her pledge of non-violent means to keeping the world of Anaisha safe.

Both stories show a lot of promise in keeping up 25,000 words each, equaling the 50,000 that I need to complete NanoWrimo 2009. But one thing that has taken me a bit off guard is how much fun the particular story I am working on is. I am currently working on the story of how Turquoise - Wedge was kidnapped from her family and stripped of her strongest powers to become the Wedge that you meet in the beginning of my series. It is a powerful story and I've noticed that a lot of my back stories that I've started working on are more powerful than some of the novels themselves. In the Expired Reality series anyway. And I've figured out what that more powerful entity is - character.

I am now diving into my characters back stories and truly finding out who they are. Instead of a name on a piece of paper, they are coming alive more so than they ever have before. When my characters are in their younger years, when they are children or teenagers, when they are in rough spots in their lives - spots that completely change the course of their histories forever - I realize that they are real people. They come alive on the page and they aren't merely a warm body to keep the plot moving.

Don't get me wrong. Before I write all of my novels, I always write out a full background for each of my characters, including foods they eat, music they listen to and who their love interests are. I even write out who their parents are and what appearance they usually take in their day to day lives. But something about writing their actual back stories just blows the profiles to the wind and really digs deep into who these characters really are.

I think, especially with my Black Earth series having just debuted, that my writing has started turning from plot driven to character driven. It is a most beautiful thing and I am happy that it is happening this way. So as I continue to work on this year's NanoWrimo novel, I encourage all my other writer friends out there to examine their writing and see - really see - who their characters are, where they've come from, and what they truly want out of life. They can become some of our best friends and some of our worst enemies. But then again, they're just characters...right?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

My First Author Signing...

Well, I managed to work through my fear and had a book release party. At the party, I gave a speech and read aloud a chapter from my new novel, Black Earth: End of the Innocence. This was a huge step for me personally, because I absolutely hate public speaking. I think I am okay once I get up in front of everyone and start speaking, but the trepidation that goes with those first few steps to the podium are enough to make me tremble.  I would almost rather be eaten alive by mad clowns...I said almost!

Having said that, I took the next step from the book release party and approached the management team at my local Borders book store and managed to get an author signing set up for November 14th. I am really excited about it but at the same time a little nervous. Selling my books to those that I know is one thing, but trying to sell my books to people I have just barely met that walk into a book store is another thing. I know I will do fine, but it's another leap for me outside of my comfort zone of sitting at the computer and writing stories. Now it's time to go out into the real world and share those stories with the rest of the world.

For those that are interested in coming to the signing, I will be at the Borders Books and Music in Mesa, Arizona on Saturday, November 14th from 11am-4pm. I will have copies of my book for sale for $10 each and will be signing them as well. The Borders is easily located across from the Fiesta Mall near the US60. I think it will be a fun time and I am looking forward to seeing you all out there! :)

Monday, November 2, 2009

NanoWrimo 2009

Ah. And we are finally here. My favorite time of the year: National Novel Writing Month.

Every November, fellow adventurous types such as myself participate in a worldwide event known as NanoWrimo - short for National Novel Writing Month. This frantic, coffee induced tradition has been an annual event of mine for the past 4 years and now, in my 5th, I still hold the same excitement I did when I first decided to embark on this remarkable quest.

NanoWrimo, in a nutshell, is a month long contest to write 50,000 words of a novel - from scratch - by the end of November. The rules of editing are tossed out the window and all sense of a social life, of responsibilities and the such, are gone with the wind. All that is required is an overactive imagination and the will power to achieve the 50,000 word total by the 30th.

For the past 4 years I have competed and won this feat of writing. The contest has no monetary reward. The whole thing is based on the honor system and a certificate is given at the end of the month if the goal has been attained. But I find the real prize to be the draft to a new novel in my hands in the span of 30 days, though I have been known to finish in 8.

50,000 words is more than enough to get a novel rolling. Most of my writing during this occasion can be extremely raw, but the best part of all is that I don't have to worry about going back and editing as I go along. I am tasked with completing my own daily goals each day to achieve the rank of NanoWrimo Winner, and it pleases me to be able to look forward to this every year.

For those that are interested in more of NanoWrimo, check out their website at:

If you want to check out my Nano profile and see how I am faring during the month of November, here is the link: