All posts by Morgan L. Busse

Morgan writes fantasy and steampunk fiction for the adult market. Find her at www.morganlbusse.com

Lost At Sea Scavenger Hunt Stop #17

Welcome to the Lost At Sea Scavenger Hunt where we are helping the Kinsman people find a new home. If you’ve just found us, be sure to start the adventure at Stop #1, which is Jill Williamson’s blog. 
 
Collect all the clue words in order so you can enter to win the Kindle. If you want to enter to win the second Kindle, you’ll have to take a quiz at the end, so take your time and read each post carefully. The main prizes in the hunt are open to international entries. Individual author contests, however, might have different rules, so please read the parameters on each site. You have until Sunday night, February 19, at midnight, Pacific time to finish.
If you need help, or get lost along the way, click here for assistance.
 thumbnail_17-morgan-lostatseamapgraphic-1

Wilek felt good about the land in Adar-iyr, but Onika, his prophetess, had a long talk with Ela, the prophet of Parne from R. J. Larson’s novel Prophet. When the two women parted ways, Onika informed Wilek that the kinsman people could not stay in Adar-iyr, but she promised that they were close to their new home. They must trust the One God, Arman, to lead the way. So they followed the coast north until they reached the bustling metropolis of Stop #17, Word City, from Morgan Busse’s novel Tainted.

Welcome to my world! I’m a writer by day and a mother by night. I’m the author of the Follower of the Word series and the new steampunk series, The Soul Chronicles. My debut novel, Daughter of Light, was a Christy and Carol Award finalist. During my spare time I enjoy playing games, taking long walks, and dreaming about my next novel. Feel free to browse my blog while you’re here 🙂
 
Here’s a closer look at my novel Tainted. 
 
Tainted_Hi_ResKat Bloodmayne is one of the first women chosen to attend the Tower Academy of Sciences. But she carries a secret: she can twist the natural laws of science. She has no idea where this ability came from, only that every time she loses control and unleashes this power, it kills a part of her soul. If she doesn’t find a cure soon, her soul will die and she will become something else entirely.
 
After a devastating personal loss, Stephen Grey leaves the World City Police Force to become a bounty hunter. He believes in justice and will stop at nothing to ensure criminals are caught and locked up. However, when Kat Bloodmayne shows up in his office seeking his help, his world is turned upside down.
 
Together they search World City and beyond for a doctor who can cure Kat. But what they discover on the way goes beyond science and into the dark sphere of magic.

The Monster Inside of Us

A long time ago on a forum I followed someone asked if necromancy could ever be used for good. The moment I read that, I saw this young woman who had been hurt by her father’s excursions into necromancy. As the story grew, it changed from a fantasy to steampunk . The young woman’s father became a scientist and through his unscrupulous experiments, he corrupted his daughter’s soul. (To read more about what steampunk is, click here)

Tainted is the story of Kat, a young woman who is curious, smart, and secretly believes she is a monster deep inside. That idea is reinforced when—in fits of emotion—she starts fires or throws furniture around with her mind. She is desperately afraid she is going to hurt someone some day or even worse, kill someone. She sees herself as a bad person because of that and so she hides who she is while secretly looking for a cure.

I believe many of us can relate to Kat and have wondered at one point if we are monsters ourselves. There is something wrong—even broken—inside of us, and if people found out, they would hate us or be afraid of us. And because of that, we try everything we can to either hide the “monster” or find our own cure.

If you resonate with Kat’s story, then check Tainted out. And be watching for Awakened, Book 2 of The Soul Chronicles, coming soon!

CLUE! Write down this clue: praise
The next stop on our map is Stop #18, the sailing ship Meredith, on Serena Chase’s blog.
 
Before you move on, I am giving away a signed copy of Tainted to one lucky winner. To enter, head on over to my rafflecopter giveaway and check any option or all of them to enter (giveaway will run from 2/17-2/20). Thanks for visiting my blog. Enjoy the rest of the scavenger hunt!

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You can order Tainted on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, CBD or at your local bookstore

What is True Love?

heart-1170606For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been reading 1 Corinthians 13, the famous “love chapter” of the Bible. Why? Because I’ve needed a refresher on what it really means to love people and to put it into practice. I’ve been reading it in the NLT version (New Living Translation) and let me tell you, it really puts love into perspective. Love isn’t some lighthearted feeling we feel bubbling up inside our chest. In fact, some of the word choices the NLT uses really brings home what love is… and what love is not. Let me show you.

First, I love how Paul talks about all the great things a human could do, and in context, how the Corinthians thought if they could have these more amazing spiritual gifts, they would be something. Instead, Paul says it doesn’t matter if you can speak all the languages of the world, have all knowledge and even know God’s secret plans, be willing to sacrifice yourself, or give all you have to the poor, but if you don’t love your fellow man, it doesn’t mean anything. In modern terms, it doesn’t matter if you win the Noble Peace Prize, broker peace in the Middle East, give all you have to help the homeless, or be the smartest person in the world, but don’t love—I mean really love—those around you, it doesn’t mean a hill of beans. Useless. A waste.

So what does true love really look like? Here is how Paul breaks it down:

Love is Patient. Yeah, that means being patient with the people who cut you off in traffic or drive slower than you do. Or when the Walmart clerk is slow, or someone has more than 20 items in the 20 item line. Patience is a facet of true love.

Love is Kind. Kind to children. Kind to the elderly. Kind to the disabled. Kind to your co-worker. Kind to spouse. Love oozes kindness.

Love is not Jealous. Nope. Instead, it is glad when someone else receives a blessing.

Love is not Boastful. Boasting is saying “look what I have and you don’t.” Love doesn’t do that.

Love is not Rude. Rudeness is a form of selfishness. Rudeness only looks out for #1 and shoves everyone else aside. Love doesn’t do that.

Loves does not Demand Its Own Way. Ouch. I’ve really had to work on this one. I have one way of cleaning the kitchen or loading the dishwasher or folding the towels. Real love gracious allows others to do things in other ways. Most often fights occur because we want our own way, when in truth there are many ways things can be done.

Love is not Irritable. Notice it doesn’t say gets angry. The word irritable makes me think of a small dog who-when you get close to it-starts to growl, then snaps at you. I do that to people, especially first thing in the morning. True love doesn’t do that. It doesn’t let things get under its skin. Next time you want to snap at someone, or feel yourself growling inside, remember love is not irritable 😉

Love keeps no Record of Being Wronged. No back pocket list. No hidden paper with every offense. If you have a list, let it go. Especially toward your spouse. But, but, but… Nope. If God doesn’t keep a list about us, we shouldn’t be keeping a list about others.

Love does not Rejoice About Injustice. We should not be cheering when injustice happens. That is not love.

Love rejoices when the Truth Wins Out. This is truly something to be happy about! Love always wants to the truth to win.

Love never gives up. Have you giving up on someone lately?

Love never loses faith. Have you lost faith in someone lately?

Love is always hopeful. Have you lost your hope recently?

Love endures through every circumstance. Every single one.

Looking back at this list, real loves seems impossible, right? Sometimes I think that. “But God, you don’t know that person. They really get under my skin!” Or, “God, that person hurt me really, really bad.” In some circumstances, there is absolutely no reason a person deserves our love. That is why real love transcends human nature, and why it takes God’s power to love. We can’t love like this on our own. But we can through Jesus Christ. After all, this is how He loves us. Patience, kindness, no record-keeping, never gives up on us, never loses faith in us, always hopes, and endures through everything.

This, my friends, is real love.

Should You Say That?

More and more people are sharing their thoughts and feelings on the internet. In some ways, this is good. There are more discussions happening. However, in some ways, people have forgotten that there is a real live human on the other side of that computer screen and perhaps not all things should be shared. I have a feeling many things would not be said if you were face to face with that person.

So how do you know if you should share something? Or how should you share something? For example, a topic has been brought up that you’re passionate about and want to leap in with your side of the argument. Or you’re tired of all the rants, and so you want to go on your own. What kind of filter should we use, not only on the internet, but with the people around us?

A friend of mine shared his thoughts with my husband and me a few weeks ago and I was blown away by his wisdom (and so that I’m not completely ripping his idea off, Jason Fortriede came up with this first and really needs to write all those books he has ideas for!).

I loved what he had to say and started applying it immediately with my kids. You know how family can be, especially between brothers and sisters. You’re not always kind to one another and say stuff that perhaps should have been filtered. Here are the three things you should ask yourself before you speak or write, and if all 3 apply, go ahead and say it (or write it). If they don’t, stop. Just stop and think about it. You might save yourself and others a lot of grief. Here you go:

Is it truthful?

Is it helpful?

Is it kind?

I’ve heard people say, “It’s the truth.” Sure, it’s the truth, and you just used the truth like a 2×4 to hit someone across the head. Ouch. I don’t think they heard the truth. They just feel the pain from the bludgeon. If it’s truthful, is it helpful right now? If not, stop. Sharing that the widow’s husband was a jerk at his funeral is just a stupid place to share the truth (I’m exaggerating on my example).

Let’s say it’s truthful and helpful, but is it kind? Telling someone, “You’re breath smells like a dog,” before his first date might be truthful and helpful, but certainly not kind. Two out of three is still not enough. Maybe try this: “Hold on, your breath needs a little work. Here’s some gum. I want you to make the best first impression you can on this date.” Bingo! Truthful, helpful, and delivered in a kind way.

But what about being kind, but it’s not true? You know, a little lie to make the person feel better? And it’s helpful, too 🙂

No, no, no. If I found out someone said something nice to make me feel better, but it wasn’t true, I would not believe any other nice things they said. You want people to know you are genuine and truthful in your statements. If it’s not true, don’t say it.

But mom, what if they ask me a question like do I like their picture and I hate it? What do I do?

You can always find something truthful and positive to say to someone, even if you don’t  like their house in Minecraft (yeah, that example is for my kids). Here’s an marriage example: “Honey, does this dress look good on me?” No, not at all. But the color does bring out her eyes. Don’t say yes and lie about it. Instead, say “I love the color, but the style doesn’t quite suit you. Let’s see if we can find something in the same color.” Bingo. All three: truthful, kind, and helpful.

See how much of a difference these three questions can make in our daily interactions, both in the physical world and in the cyber world? So the next time you’re wondering if you should answer someone who just posted on Facebook “The 49er’s stink,” ask yourself if your answer is truthful, kind, and helpful. Instead of “Yes!”, say, “They had a hard season, but there is always next year.” Or just don’t answer it at all. See what I mean? 😉

I can tell you this is already changing the way my family interacts with each other. My kids are asking each other if their comments are truthful, helpful, AND kind. Our words have power. Let’s think about them before we use them.

 

 

What if Only One Person Reads My Books?

writingThis thought has been on my mind for the last couple of weeks. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out if you’re doing what you’re supposed to as a writer. Doubt is always there, lurking in the back of your mind. My rankings are down, should I still be writing? My royalty check makes me blush, should I still be writing? I feel like I’m letting my publisher, agent, etc… down, should I still be writing?

Is anyone even reading my books?

So as I was once again re-evaluating if I should be writing (aka, I’m not feeling like I’m successful and wondering if my life would be better served doing something else), I had this thought: what if only one person ever reads my books? Then I took it a step further. What if what I was writing was meant for just one person? That God wanted me to spend my lifetime writing multiple series for a person who I will never meet, but someday would need to read my books because through those books God would change them? And not just one book, but God would use all of my books to help that one person?

Would it be worth it?

Would it be worth all the hours I pour into writing, the sacrifices I make so I can make time to write every day, the other “good things” I could be doing, but instead I am writing? Honestly? In my flesh that thought makes me cry. Just one person? But as I pondered this thought, I realized that God would do that, because of that one soul.

When we think of God doing above and beyond what we can imagine, we think of grandiose plans and ideas. But what if God’s plans involve a lonely writer, writing her heart out for the rest of her life, then connecting her books to one person who needs to read those books—every single one of them—and by reading them, comes to know God his or herself?

That’s exactly how God would do things…because to Him the value of a soul is priceless. He would do anything to reach people, including using the lifetime of a writer and all of her books to reach that other soul.

This thought has plagued me over and over again for the last few weeks. What if only one person ever reads my books? And not just one book, but will read everything I will ever write, and by doing so will connect with God? Is that worth it?

Yes.

That’s not to say sometimes I wish I had more to show for my writing, but when my focus is on God, it’s then I believe that what I am doing is not in vain, even if it might be for just one person. After all, every soul is precious to God. And that makes writing worth it.

How about you? Are you struggling with what you’re doing? Do you wonder if it’s worth it or is it time to throw in the towel? I can’t tell you yes or no, but I can tell you anything you do with open hands held up to God is never in vain, even if you don’t see the results.

I Wear a Mask

maskWhile at the ACFW Conference last week, I realized something one morning: I wear a mask. In fact, I was carefully putting it on with each curl of hair and each brushstroke of my makeup. I am a very shy person and have a hard time going out and meeting people. But I can’t live in my hotel room, so I have to go out. And so I put on this facade because it gives me courage.

Now some of you who met me at the conference probably think I’m not shy at all. But that’s because I was ready. I was all tucked in and tidy, with my clothes carefully ironed and each hair in place. But as I prepared that last morning, it hit me what exactly I was doing. I was putting on my mask. I was hiding the deep emotional upheaval I was going through at home. I was covering up the bags of sleeplessness brought on from the months before. I was masking my lack of self-worth with clothes that hid who I was.

If you were to come to my hotel room that night, you would have met the real me. The one just out of the shower with wet hair and baggy sweats on. The one baring her heart to her closest friend. The one who struggles with how she looks and fears having a panic attack when meeting people. That woman never set foot outside her hotel room.

Don’t get me wrong, I think doing one’s hair, wearing makeup, and dressing one’s best is not a bad thing (and you want to look professional at a conference). But when I looked in the mirror as I dabbed on some concealer (what an appropriate term, right?), I realized I was placing my mask on so that only the part of me I wanted people to see would be seen.

So why am I writing this? I think we all wear masks, masks that cover our fears and insecurities. And I’m not sure how to live without my mask. Some things are not for everyone to know. And some things I’m ashamed of admitting (like I am very insecure about my looks). But I am thankful for good friends and an amazing husband who’ve seen me without my mask and love me anyway.

I’m not sure if I will ever be able to live fully without my mask in this lifetime. Then again, I am finding the older I grow, the more comfortable I become in who God has made me and the more I trust in Him.

How about you? Do you wear a mask? What are you afraid to reveal about yourself? Who or what has helped you to lower that mask? God? Family? Friends? Or are you still searching for a safe place where you can take the mask off and be who you are?

 

Why I Like to Play Video Games

video-games-1136046_1920Hi! My name is Morgan and I like to play video games. Before you write me off as an adult, let me share with you my thoughts. Yesterday while I was chatting with my husband about stats, researching weapons and play styles, and debating with him the best spec for a character, I realized I love video games because it’s more than just pushing a button and causing an avatar to run across a screen. It’s logic, strategy, eye-candy, amazing stories, and community all rolled up into one: video games.

Video games have come a long way since Mario crossed the television screen and jumped on his first goomba. Now games can range anywhere from puzzles to shooters to strategy to vast worlds and epic stories. Video games are not just something you watch, you interact with them. In some ways, they are highly evolved versions of the old “choose your own adventure” books I loved as a kid, complete with mind boggling graphics and grand-sweeping stories.

I can live the life of a mage in the world of Skyrim. Or I can fight the Alliance as a dagger-wielding troll. I can remember what it was like to be a ten year old wishing I could go on adventure like Ash in Pokemon, or save Hyrule as Link (not Zelda, Zelda is the girl ;). As you can see, video games have a way of expanding our imaginations and reminding us of what we used to dream about when we were young.

I also love video games because there is so much strategy and planning that needs to go into them. Yesterday I was leveling my warrior with my husband and we were chatting about the benefits of different talent points and specs. Yeah, it’s an imaginary world, but that kind of thinking and problem-solving helps expand those areas of the brain. Not to mention the benefit of engaging in conversation with my husband.

Which brings up the last reason I love to play video games: the relationships and community! My first experience with gaming was watching my husband blow some steam after a long day at seminary by playing Age of Mythology. I was fascinated with the world building and strategy and finally asked him to teach me to play. Soon we were conquering the world together (I gathered resources and he took our armies out). Since then, we have always played together. Gaming allows us to do “shoulder to shoulder” stuff and talk while we play.

Gaming has also opened up opportunities for me to connect with other people. I have been with a great guild on World of Warcraft for six years and have made many friends. I also play games with my kids which has allowed me to spend time with them and talk with them (having a hard time talking to your son? Play a game with him. It’s amazing how he’ll open up while he’s digging for treasure in Terraria). And it has also allowed me to connect with teens at church. All I need to do is share the Pokemon I recently caught or how my rogue is doing in the battlegrounds and suddenly I’m not some big, scary adult! And those conversations usually led to other, more serious conversations. I understand their world because I am part of their world.

Gaming is not for everyone, but it has its place in this world. And it’s a world I will probably be a part of for a very long time.

How about you? Do you play video games? Which ones do you play? What do you enjoy about them?

 

Steampunk Worldbuilding

I was asked to share a while ago how I created the steampunk world for Tainted, the first book in my steampunk series, The Soul Chronicles. Before I begin, I think it is good to define what steampunk is. There are a lot of definitions out there, most of them wordy and abstract. So I took the common elements and narrowed them down to one statement: steampunk is the fusion of our history (usually Victorian Era or wild west) and science fiction/fantasy. The “steam” part comes from advance technology that is run on—you guessed it—steam.

I like to use the word “fusion” when defining steampunk. Why? Fusion is the process or result of joining two or more things together to form a single entity. With steampunk, you join the historical genre with the speculative genre and fuse them together with steam-powered technology to create a brand new genre.

So now that you know what steampunk is, let me share how I created my own fused world. For the historical aspect, I went with the Victorian Era. I love this time period because there was so much change that occurred during this era. This is when the Industrial Revolution occurred (perfect for my steampunk technology), many things were in the process of being invented (again, perfect for steampunk), advances and changes in the medical world, women were stepping into the world of higher education and science, and all the advancements of science itself.

For the speculative aspect, I went with fantasy. The idea for Tainted originally came from an online conversation where someone asked if necromancy could ever be used for good. I had this image of a woman who had been “tainted” by her father’s research, and although it opened her up to amazing power, it also was killing her on the inside.

Tainted_Hi_Res

And thus Tainted was born. But instead of straight up fantasy necromancy, I chose to use science instead, and ask the questions 1) Are there lines we shouldn’t cross in our pursuit of the unknown? 2) What happens if we cross those lines? 3) Does it hurt others?

Kat’s own abilities stem from science as well, namely, the laws of science. She can manipulate matter. This means she can cause things to combust, or move, or cause particles to draw together (forming a solid) or drift apart (creating liquid or state form). She can even cause time to stand still. But humans were never meant to contain such power, and so it is killing her soul.

Lastly, the steampunk technology. I chose to go with a more covert approach instead of flashy, in-your-face technology. Steam technology is part of the everyday world in Tainted, and thus not focused on as much by the characters, in as much we use the coffeepot to make coffee in the mornings, or use our cell phones to connect with other people, but we don’t sit there and gawk at how amazing our technology is. We simply use it. It is part of the background of our lives.

Now some steampunk authors love to build all sorts of cool gadgets and gizmos. Great! I wanted to focus more on the story of the characters and use the steampunk aspect as the backdrop to their story. I think ever writer has the freedom to be as overt or covert with their technology as they want to be. And I think it also depends on the story you are writing. If it’s about an inventor, then yes, you’ll probably have a lot of cool inventions. If it’s about a socialite, eh, not so much.

So there you go. To build a world of steampunk, you research your history piece, pulling together what works for your world, including cultural aspects, manners, beliefs, and even fashion. Then you choose if you want a more science fiction or fantasy feel (maybe even both), then tie those into your world. You want magic? Great! You want AI automatons? Great!

Then lastly, have fun coming up with your own unique steampunk technology and decide how covert or overt you want to be with it. Does it take center stage of your book? Or is it the backdrop? And how does it work? Some things you can get away with just showing it in use, but some things readers might want an explanation for, depending on how overt you go with your technology.

Now go forth and write!

To find out more about Tainted, click here.

This article was originally posted on janeenippolito.com