Tainted is on SALE!

Tainted Sale FacebookJust in case you missed it, Tainted is on sale this week! For my birthday 🙂

*Squeal!*

So if you’ve never read Tainted, or haven’t downloaded it yet, now is the time to do it. You can’t beat that price. It’s cheaper than a pumpkin spice latte (and way better in my opinion, although I do love my pumpkin spice lattes 😉 )

Here you go: http://amzn.to/2bvcZZv

Enjoy, my friends!

What I’m Writing Now and My Writing Routine

coffee dateWahoo! After almost a year (a year filled with deadlines, moving twice, and the release of almost two books) I am resurrecting my monthly coffee date posts. I love this post since it gives you, my readers, a chance to ask me questions and gives me a chance to interact with you! So without further ado, here we go!

Timothy asks: “What’s the release date and synopsis of your new series you are finishing up the first volume of?”

A timely question since I just finished the edits on the manuscript in question and just sent it off to my critique partners! As I’ve waited for the release of Awakened, the second book in my steampunk series, I’ve been writing a whole new fantasy series. This new series will follow a young woman who has inherited her family’s secret ability to dreamwalk (the ability to enter a person’s dreams and see their hopes, thoughts, and memories). Here is the back blurb:

Lady Selene is the heir to the Great House of Ravenwood and the secret family gift of dreamwalking. As a dreamwalker, she can enter a person’s dreams and manipulate their greatest fears or desires. For the last hundred years, the Ravenwood women have used their gift of dreaming for hire to gather information or to assassinate.

As she discovers her family’s dark secret, Selene is torn between upholding her family’s legacy, a legacy that supports her people, or seeking the true reason behind her family’s gift.

Her decision comes to a head when she is tasked with assassinating the one man who can bring peace to the nations, but who will also bring about the downfall of her own house.

One path holds glory and power, and will solidify her position as Lady of Ravenwood. The other path holds shame and execution. Which will she choose? And is she willing to pay the price for the path chosen?

 

The first book, Mark of the Raven, is currently under consideration at a publishing house. Once I know more, I will definitely let you all know. Until then, Awakened comes out November 14th!

 

Ralene asks: “How has your writing routine changed over the years as the kids have gotten older?”

It is much easier to have a routine with older children! I can even write in the summer, even though I cut my wordcount in half in order to spend time with my kids. A typical day for me goes with sending my kids off to school, writing my first 500 words, cleaning, cooking, doing whatever I need to do, then writing my second 500 words. Some days I write more, but I always write at least 1k words a day to stay on track and finish a book in a year. However, my family is still my priority, so writing happens when they are at school, and when they are home, the writer in me is put away and the mom comes out. Thanks for asking!

Do you have a question for me that you would like answered during my monthly coffee date? Feel free to post it below and I’ll place it in my que. Until next month, bye!

Villains: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

Villians

Villains: without them, there would be no heroes.

But where do villains come from? What causes a person or a being to go down that dark path? And do they realize what they’ve become?

I once read that a villain is the hero of his or her own story. I’m not sure if that is true for every villain. After all, some villains know they’re bad and they don’t care. But there are others who think they’re the good guys. I then realized that in the broad scope of things, you could break villains down into three categories: the good, the bad, and the ugly. So let’s start with the good villain.

 

The Good

These are the villains who believe they are saving the world. Or they believe that the end justifies the means.

A great example of this type of villain is Wilson Fisk (aka Kingpin) from Daredevil. The writers for Daredevil did an excellent job creating a sympathetic—even likable villain—in Fisk. He wants to save Hell’s Kitchen, the neighborhood he grew up in. And when his back-story is revealed, you understand where he is coming from.

But what Fisk doesn’t seem to realize (but the viewer does) is that he is going about it all wrong. You can’t work with bad guys and expect a good outcome. You can’t murder and manipulate and expect people to be fine with that. As one character pointed out during an episode, Fisk is going to have to choose who he is: dark or light. But he can’t be both.

Another villain who believed he was saving the universe is Jacen Solo. In the Star Wars Extended Universe, Jacen Solo is the son of Han and Leia and twin brother of Jaina. As an adult, he begins to have force visions of the future where galactic war breaks out. In order to prevent this, Jacen goes further and further down the path of the dark side until he becomes a Sith himself. He never recognizes what he is doing—or who he is hurting— in order to save the universe. To him, the end justified the means.

 

The Bad

However, not every villain sees himself as good. There are those who have been hurt so bad that they don’t care who they hurt back. Or they believe they are better than everyone else. And some just want to see the world burn.

Loki is what I would call an elitist villain. He sees himself above everyone else.

Loki: “I’ve come too far for anything else. I am Loki, of Asgard and I am burdened with glorious purpose…”
Nick Fury: “We have no quarrel with your people.”
Loki: “An ant has no quarrel with a boot.”

(The Avengers, 2012)

Loki gives no thought to the humans of Earth because compared to him, they are nothing—just ants.

My own villain from Heir of Hope—Valin, one of the Shadonae—is also an elitist. A being with the power to twist a person’s mind and reality, he can control anyone he touches. When he was younger he left his people behind to find his way in the world. He discovered quickly that most humans are suspicious of anyone with power. When they found out Valin was different, they tried to kill him. This created a hatred inside Valin’s heart toward mankind. That, coupled with his superior abilities, caused Valin to believe he is above humans and there is little reason for them to exist. They are only pests to be eradicated or consumed.

And we all know The Joker from The Dark Knight. He has no delusions that he is a good guy (he has other delusions, but not that one). He thrives on chaos and violence and his only ambition is to smile and watch the world burn.

 

The Ugly

Lastly, we have those villains who are more disgusting than scary. The best example of this is Jabba the Hutt from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. I don’t know anyone who is scared of Jabba. However, he is definitely ugly and worthy of this category.

 

Conclusion

Villains, just like heroes, evolve to become who they are in the story. For some it is a drive to see things changed for the better but at the cost of lives and even themselves. For other villains, a deep hurt drives them to hurt others. Then there are those who believe they are better than anyone else. And finally there are those who are rotten to their very core and may even look like it on the outside.

Villains are a necessary evil (yes, I went there). They give us a glimpse of what could happen if the hero makes the wrong choice. They can even be a warning to us, showing us our own dark potential. Good, bad, or ugly, villains will always be a part of great stories.

So who is your favorite villain? What kind of villain is he or she? In what category would you place him or her?

 

*Image by Davidswartz

Awakened Cover Reveal

Can I just say how excited I am that this day has finally arrived? I finished the edits on Awakened, the second book in the Soul Chronicles, over a year ago, and received the cover in September only to have my book put on hold. And I know how many of you have been patiently waiting to find out what happens next with Kat Bloodmayne and Stephen Grey. Well, the wait is over (at least mostly). I now can reveal the cover to you and give you a release date (along with the pre-order so you can receive Awakened ASAP when it comes out!). Here is the cover:

Awakened 3Isn’t it beautiful? *happy sigh* And let me tell you, the story is just as good as the cover 😉

Speaking of the book, Awakened comes out November 14th, just in time to curl up with a good book during those cold winter months. Want to receive Awakened when it releases? Here is the link to the pre-order: http://amzn.to/2gT9Llm

And for those of you on Goodreads, here is the link so you can add it to your to-be-read list: http://bit.ly/2hxmqec

Thank you, dear readers, for your patience and continued support of my writing. It brings much joy to my heart to finally present to you the final book in the Soul Chronicles.

Realm Makers 2017

I just got back from Realm Makers 2017 and can I just say wow? For those of you who don’t know what Realm Makers is, Realm Makers is a conference for people of faith who write fantasy/science fiction (and their subgenres). For me, it is a place where I get to meet with like-minded people and talk about God, writing, and geekiness.

This year, I didn’t find out I was going until three weeks before the conference, which meant a flurry of excitement and packing. Then off I went to Reno. I spent five days meeting some amazing people I’ve only known from the internet, meeting fellow Enclave authors, meeting new writers just starting their journey as well as seasoned writers from whom I was able to glean nuggets of wisdom. However the biggest surprise was at the costume party where I found out Tainted won the REALM AWARD for Horror/Paranormal/Steampunk.

So exciting!

I would say this has been the best Realm Makers yet and I’m already excited to go next year. In the meantime, here are some pictures from my trip. Enjoy!

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Hanging with fellow authors!
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Hanging with Jim Rubart 🙂
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The Greatest American Hero (aka Kirk Douponce, the amazing artist for Tainted) and me at the Costume Party
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Steve Rzasa, John Otte, me, and Kerry Nietz 🙂
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The awesome Jill and Brad Williamson as Gamora and Starlord
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Tainted up for the Parable Award
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Tainted, winner of the Realm Award for Horror/Paranormal/Steampunk!

The Girl Who Could See

Hey everyone! I love meeting new authors and so today I’m excited to introduce you to a new author and her book. First, here is the cover:

The Girl who could see

Isn’t it gorgeous? I fell in love the first time I saw it. But a book is more than its cover. Here is Kara to tell you more about her debut novella, The Girl Who Could See.

All her life Fern has been told she is blind to reality—but, what if she is the only one who can truly see?

Fern Johnson is crazy. At least, that’s what the doctors have claimed since her childhood. Now nineteen, and one step away from a psych ward, Fern struggles to survive in bustling Los Angeles. Desperate to appear normal, she represses the young man flickering at the edge of her awareness—a blond warrior only she can see.

Tristan was Fern’s childhood imaginary hero, saving her from monsters under her bed and outside her walls. As she grew up and his secret world continued to bleed into hers, however, it only caused catastrophe. But, when the city is rocked by the unexplainable, Fern is forced to consider the possibility that this young man is not a hallucination after all—and that the creature who decimated his world may be coming for hers.

***

Intriguing, yes? I agree! I haven’t read The Girl Who Could See yet, but it is near the top of my TBR list :). If you’re interested in acquiring your own copy, here is where you can find it:

BUY LINK:

https://www.amazon.com/Girl-Who-Could-See

GOODREADS LINK:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34094813-the-girl-who-could-see

 

And here is more about the author, Kara Swanson:

Kara SwansonAs the daughter of missionaries, Kara Swanson spent sixteen years of her young life in the jungles of Papua New Guinea. Able to relate with characters dropped suddenly into a unique new world, she quickly fell in love with the speculative genre. At seven- teen, she released a fantasy novel, Pearl of Merlydia. Her short story is included in Kathy Ide’s 21 Days of Joy: Stories that Celebrate Mom. She has published many articles, including one in the Encounter magazine, and she received the Mount Hermon Most Promising Teen Writer award in 2015.

Here is where you can find Kara online:

Find Kara online at www.karaswanson.com

Facebook: Kara Swanson, Author

Twitter: @kara_author

Instagram: @karaswanson_author

Art as a Ministry

Shortly after I moved to Illinois, I was invited to an art circle, a meeting where artists get together and show their work and talk about art. While there, I met a young lady who created art out of light (literally light). It was amazing! When it came my turn to share, I talked about my writing and the books I had published. This young lady contacted me a couple weeks later and shared how my books had intrigued her, so she went home and started reading Daughter of Light.

That connection led to us having coffee and her sharing how she came to know Christ—from an antagonistic atheist to a follower of Jesus—and how her passion is to not only create art, but to reach fellow college art students with the gospel. As a fellow artist, I resonated with her words and was moved by her heart for college students. I’ve been in ministry for a long time, but I’ve never heard of anyone with that kind of passion for art and for students of art.

Not only that, Sara gets college students and speaks into their unique world. She shared with me a story about how she was talking to a young lady who was viewing her artwork and the topic of Star Wars came up. By using Star Wars, Sara shared who God is and how He works in the world. No big words, no eloquent gospel presentation. Just using an image the young lady already knew, and using it to help her to understand God more. To Sara, the gospel flows naturally through her, whether that is directly through her artwork, or through whatever topic comes up when she is speaking to people.

As one artist to another, I am inspired by Sara’s passion and love for art, for God, and for people. Because of that, I wanted to introduce all of you to Sara and the ministry she is embarking on to reach art students. Here she is to tell you her story in her own words.

Being-installation-Sara-paige

During my time in grad school, I realized just how hostile the arts can be towards Christians. I was baptized four months before coming to the University of Illinois, so faith as part of my art was a new concept for me. I felt like I had to hide or be covert about faith topics within my art. I reached a point where I could no longer be ashamed of who God called me to be and the power within His truth. I got a lot of push back from classmates and some professors when I started being open about the influence my faith had on my art. Once I allowed God into my art practice though, I witnessed amazing growth, spiritually, artistically, and relationally.

God is the ultimate creator. He created everything, especially us, in His image. I honestly believe that as artists, when we create we enact on that image of God within us. God wants to be a part of our artistic practices, whether it be visual arts, design, music, theater, dance, or writing. He longs to see His kingdom come and what better way to bring that than through the arts? We as artists make physical the unseen. We take the unimaginable and put it into words/movement/imagery. Our sole purpose is to reflect the glory of God!

My calling is to help shepherd art students at the University of Illinois. There are 2,300+ students in the college of Fine and Applied Arts. My goal is to start a revival and help bring redemption through the arts. These students face many struggles and are in desperate need of the Truth. As a staff member of Illini Life, I will be able to establish an arts outreach and help build a community of artists who will boldly proclaim the gospel.  

However, I’m not currently on campus and working because I first need to build a team of people who believe in what I’m doing to support me. I’m looking for partners to join me in this mission through prayer, resources, and financial support. This is an opportunity to be a part of the bigger story God is writing in the lives of students at the University of Illinois. My goal is to be fully funded by August, so I’m ready to meet the thousands of new students coming to campus. If you are interested in joining me in this mission, please send me an email! I would love to meet you and get to know you 🙂

***

That afternoon when Sara shared her vision and ministry with me, I knew I wanted to support her, not just financially, but with prayer and as a friend and fellow artist. She will be reaching other artists, young people who I will probably never meet or have a relationship with. But she will. And I get to be a part of that, and that’s exciting!

If you’re interested in learning more about Sara’s artwork or ministry, or want to talk drop her an email, here are her links:

Ministry: reliant.org/sara.hoag

Artwork: sarapaigeart.com

Email: sara.hoag@reliant.org

Thanks, Sara, for sharing!

In Darkness there is Light

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