Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Consuming Time

Writing is all about time. Time you’re willing to invest in spinning a tale that may or may not be published, according to the whims of your editors. Time that you’re willing to give up something else in order to write the tale that may or may not be accepted according to the whims of your editors.

That paints a pretty bleary picture, doesn’t it?

I think that people spend far too much time on their writing. There’s the blog that must be posted every day, or every other day. There’s Twittering and Facebooking that must be done. There’s that article to attend to, and this essay, and blah blah blah. Plus, nowadays writing several books a year is normal!!

Four books a year?!?!?!? I’ve only been writing seriously for 7-1/2 years, and I used to finish a book a month when I was 12. How? By forgoing almost all family and play-time, parked on my computer pounding out words, and producing truly, truly inferior work. That only lasted about six months. I was soon sick of sitting, and I discovered that I really wanted to be with my family—to have human interaction. I needed it.

I think that was the genesis of my social-butterfly side. ;0)

It took me three and a half years to complete the first draft of my first "real" book. By real, I mean no plagiarizing, no 2-D characters, no artificial plot contrivances. To date, I'm still working on the editing for The Second Crown.  This edit is going to be my final draft, and then hopefully it will find a cozy home on a publisher's desk. I've been willing to invest a lot in The Second Crown, but there were also other things I invested my time in, willingly or unwillingly. Piano lessons, schoolwork, orchestra, Frisbee, H2Os, making a movie, just hanging with friends, emailing, talking on the phone, blogging, watching movies, being with my family.

Now that I know my writing processes a bit better, my second book, Roliwyn, looks like it's going to be first-draft complete in two years, or a little over. And while some things have been dropped from my list, others, like my writing lessons and my courtship with Justin, have hopped onboard. Some things, such as spending time with Justin and his family and my family, now take priority, which is as it should be. 

I think our culture is focused too much on "quantity over quality." Seriously. Four books a year? C'mon! No one can write like that and produce serious quality work.

Example: Ted Dekker's books that come out last year; Adam, Renegade, Chaos, Kiss, Sinner...and another...help me out here, I can't remember the last one. Anyway, I read all of them. In fact, I think I've read almost all of Dekker's books now. And while he still remains one of my favorite authors, I think that the quality of his writing went downhill. Especially when I finished Sinner. It just didn't seem to have to same zip and bite as a regular Dekker novel does. I mean...now, Thr3e, or Saint...creepy!! I think my favorite one that released last year was Kiss. It was a lot more like Blink, my favorite ever Dekker novel. But even Kiss didn't seem as well-rounded to me as Blink.

And I know there are other authors who do the same. My point I guess is, we're investing time into quantity of work, not quality. When I'm a published author, I hope to write, homeschool my kids (eventually), storm-chase, have plenty of hang-out time, take care of my house, etc, still be able to get a decent amount of sleep, and not have to take injections of caffeine every morning.

This is something I'm adamant about...I'm going to take a couple of years to write a book if I have to. I hope to stay ahead in this, and maybe by the time The Lerem Trilogy is published, I'll have several other books to hand in (if the publishers wants them) or shop around. The point is, I'm not only going to be a writer. That's not going to be my main identifier. I'm also going to be a friend, a wife, a homeschool mother, a daughter, a sister, a child of God.

Yes, God has called me to write. I'm going to. But he's also called me to be many things. I'm going to invest time in all of them. And I encourage you to do the same.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Livie's Doing Better

Hey guys, Livie's doing better this morning. Justin said they have her temperature down, and she's able to rest. No word on if they know what caused it. Thanks for the prayers!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Prayer For Livie

Hey all,

Livie developed a high fever today. This is going to set her back a bit on her treatments. They're doing everything they can to figure out why she got a fever, and also giving her platelets to boost her clotting abilities before her bone marrow aspiration tomorrow. Please pray for everyone, especially Bob and Tammy.

Also, she's not going to get to come home as soon as we thought, because once her platelets bottom out, they stay in a sort of "danger zone" for up to a couple of weeks. Livie's birthday is coming up this Friday, so I know it's going to be very difficult for everyone to miss her b-day.

Thanks y'all for your prayers.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Good News For Livie!

Hey everyone, good news for Miss Olivia!! Justin told me yesterday that the hospital said she could come home for a few days after her platelets rise a bit more. She can stay at home until her platelet level rises above a thousand, then she'll go back for more treatment.
This round of chemo went as good as possible, so thanks for all your prayers!!
(And sorry I haven't been posting much this week...it's been a wild week, plus my Windows Live Writer isn't working for some odd reason.)
Check out Tammy's latest post on the Caringbridge site.
God Bless!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Update on Livie

Yesterday Livie had an IV port in her chest put in today, plus a spinal tap and a shot of chemo in her spine. Justin told me this morning that even after a restless, tough night, Tammy said that Livie seemed to be doing OK. She was eating and signing and seemed to be in less pain. They put an IV of chemo in her port today.

We're going up to see Bob, Tammy, and Livie tomorrow. Please pray for all of us--it's going to be so hard to see Livie hurting!!! Sarah's going to stay with Tammy and Bob's going to come home.

Within the next week and a half, Livie's going to dip down, and her immune system is going to basically shut off because of everything going on in her body. They're going to have to be extremely careful so she doesn't get sick, now or then. Please pray that she'll have an as easy as possible time with the chemo.

Thank y'all so much for your prayers so far. It's very comforting to know that our brothers and sisters in Christ are wrapping everyone in prayer.

God bless!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Prayer Request For Miss Olivia

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Well, the news came yesterday late afternoon--Miss Olivia, Justin's little sister who has Down Syndrome, has leukemia (AML). Child leukemia is easier to cure, but it's still cancer...and it's still hard to go through.

This has been a possibility because of her weak immune system. Lately, Miss Livie's been having trouble with being sickish, and her blood cells count has been super low. They thought that changing her diet helped, but then her platelet count dropped like crazy. After several blood tests, and a trip up to Kansas City to get a bone marrow test, it was confirmed yesterday that she had leukemia.

Tammy and Bob took Livie to a children's hospital in KC today, and from the sound of it it's been one frustration after another. They were going to put a central line for a chemotherapy IV into her chest today, but her platelets were too low. When they tried to do a blood transfusion to get her platelet count up, she was too dehydrated from not having anything to eat or drink most of the day in prep for surgery.

Tammy's planning to stay with Livie through the treatment, which means 5-6 months of staying up in KC. Bob's going to go back and forth so he can try to get some work done. All the kids (Josh through Jonah) are staying at the house. Josh is working and Justin is trying to get a job and Sarah should go back to school this fall (though I don't think she will).

I'm planning on being there, just to help out, make meals, whatever needs to be done. I also want so hard to support Justin, and just be someone he can turn to when he needs to. I know I'm going to need to lean on the Lord so I can be strong for Justin--because I'm going to have to push aside some of my wants for this. The biggest one is even just thinking about moving our wedding plans aside, or changing them. It's not about us. I'm not dwelling on the wedding plans and stuff much, because it's not the important thing here. Olivia's needs and the T's needs are the extremely important thing. But I know, broken person that I am, that I will have days where I'm wanting to be selfish. Please pray that Justin and I will both have the Godly strength to push past our own selfishness.

And please, please pray for Olivia's healing. It makes me sick to think about her going through chemo. I love the little goofy gal like crazy.

She's such a little sweetheart, I honestly don't think anyone could spend 5 minutes with her and not come away loving her for the rest of their lives.

If you'd like to see updates from the Ts themselves, they have a site set up for Miss Livie here.

God Bless!!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Christian Fantasy Is Rising!!!

When I was at the writer's conference, I asked people what they thought Christian fantasy publishing would look like in the future. Most said a variant of, "It won't be as popular as other genres, but it will rise a bit."
Correct me if I'm wrong, but there are already many Christian fantasy/sci-fi/spec fiction stories being published. One of my best friends, Mary, has had a fantasy poem, "The Knight On the Old North Shore" published with Mindflights. I don't particularly like Mindflights, because they tend to publish edgier/weirder stuff than I like to see from a Christian publication. However, the important thing is that it's OUT THERE.
I know an editor named Jeff Gerke started Marcher Lord Press, which is a small POD publishing company specializing in Christian fantasy--once again, they seem, from what I've looked at on the website, to publish more edgier stuff.
I also researched it yesterday online and discovered that there's more Christian fantasy out there than even I thought--however, most people get fed up with traditional publishers not accepting fantasy, and decide to self-publish it.
But there is hope yet!! I know for mainstream Christian fiction, there's a trend toward fantasy especially in the children's fiction market. Sharon Hinck's The Sword of Lyric series is the only fantasy that NavPress, to date, has published. (And I personally love the middle one in the series, The Restorer's Journey. Someday on Shelfari I'll write a good review on it). Wayne Thomas Batson (Door Within Trilogy), Brian Davis (Oracles of Fire), and Donita K. Paul (The DragonKeeper Chronicles) are all teen/young adult fantasy writers with a Christian viewpoint, and Donita and Wayne have been published by two big Christian companies (Thomas Nelson and Waterbrook). And some of the big companies are getting into graphic novels and manga, both of which seem to predominantly be in the speculative genre.
I once read somewhere (I have no idea where) that an editor said something like, "Many of the young people I meet who are writing are writing fantasy." That's quite a trend. I know my generation is growing up on it--I know several young men who that is all they will read, and I know many others kids who show a preference for fantasy. In my area alone, there are three young adults who are writing Christian fantasy (myself, Mary, and a girl Mary knows from orchestra).
The popularity of fantasy is showing-I know this is a secular example, but look at the massive popularity of books like Christopher Paolini's Eragon series. For the Christian example, Brian Davis, Wayne Thomas Batson, and Donita K. Paul are all very popular writers.
Studies show that women of empty nest years are the ones who predominantly read. Once my generation hits there, gone will be the days of prairie romances. We'll be filling our minds not with wide open grasses and sod houses, but swords and castles. Well, mostly. I'm sure that there will still be work for you other genre writers. :0) (OK, I'll admit, I do like reading a good thriller or mystery or romantic suspense, and even a comedic romance/chick lit or two. Straight romance...ehh, I'm not so fond of it right now. That may change sometime, but somehow I kind of doubt it).
So yes, I believe that the market for Christian fantasy is rising, and rightly so. I do unfortunately think that publishers who accept fantasy are looking for something much too "new", which leads to very strange writing at times. But, because everyone is trying to do something "new", that opens it up for more "traditional" fantasy authors, like my style, which I believe is classified as epic/high fantasy. The tradition of The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia, for those less sub-genre savvy. :0)
I personally think that J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis are the best Christian fantasy authors ever, and that no one can beat them (although admittedly F.W. Faller in his Portals of Tesslandria series does touch upon some of Lewis and Tolkien's genius). And I think that, even as fantasy rises in popularity and authors come up with very good "new" ideas, that type of fantasy, as well as just the speculative genre in general, is going to hold the hearts of generations to come.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Some Pics to Make You Smile


Mom took this some time ago, and its my computer background right now. The flipflops on the left are Justin's, and on the the right are mine. Yes, he is seriously that much bigger than me. :0)



Miss Olivia, Justin's little sister who has Down Syndrome. Isn't she soooo cute??!




Sarah T took this of her two youngest brothers (Noah, the one on the left, and Jonah) on their family vacation in May. Noah has the "Joe Cool" thing down perfectly!



Yes, this is Justin's immediate family (and me...I love big families!!). :0) Let's see, how to introduce everyone...OK, Ben is on the far left in the green shirt. Next to him (salmon-colored shirt) is Hannah. Jake is right behind Hannah. Tammy (Mrs. T) is on Hannah's right, and on Tammy's right is Sarah. The two little cute guys in front of Sarah and me are Noah (blue plaid shirt) and Jonah (orange plaid shirt). The tall guy behind Sarah and me is Josh. On my right is Joseph (green striped shirt) and on Justin's right is Bob (Mr. T) and Olivia.

Monday, June 1, 2009

So Much More to Do!!

I started going back and looking at The Second Crown the other day. Since Roliwyn is almost finished, I've been thinking about ways to improve TSC when I start editing it. Unfortunately, I think God had a few more in-depth ideas than just some simple pov and dialogue tag edits. :0S
It started out when I got an idea about a week ago on something that had been bothering me for a while--why are they all fighting about this one fiefdom, Greenhalle? Then it popped into my head. They're concerned because in Lerem (the fantasy country) the nobles' influence in the court is directly proportional to the amount of land they hold. Hence, since Greenhalle is the second largest fiefdom in Lerem (next to Rege, the king's fiefdom) it is the most important piece of land a noble could possess.
So far, so good right? Well, you know how when you watch popcorn start popping in one of the old poppers, and it's just one kernel, then another, then another, then all of a sudden a whole bunch start popping like crazy? That pretty much describes my brain these past few days. One thing led to another...which led to another...which led to another...ad infinitum....
I know that these changes are for the better. I know that they'll allow me to make a tighter, more intriguing story. But doggone it! I want to be done with TSC!!! And the book just won't die! :0)
I know that there comes a point when you have to say, "That's it. It's as good as it's going to get." But I feel like I haven't reached that point yet. In fact, I know I haven't reached that point yet. So I, griping and complaining, said, "OK, OK. I guess these changes have to be put in to make a better story. Fine. I'll just make The Second Crown my life's work!!" :0) Just kidding. I'm sure that reworking the story while I edit it will keep my interest up. I actually needed something to boost my interest in it...I've been dragging my feet on Roliwyn because I said that once I finished the first draft on it, I had to go back to TSC and finish editing. And I'm soooooo tired of TSC. So maybe revamping the story a bit will keep my interest going long enough to get it edited.
So, hopefully, hopefully soon I'll be able to proclaim on this blog: "The Second Crown is finished! Done! Forever and again finalized!" Then will come editing Roliwyn, and shopping the Lerem Trilogy (for lack of a better title) around to editors as I begin work on NightSword. Then after NightSword comes Downfall and Blackwing's Revenge (my newest additions to my Absor Chronicles series, which tells the history of my world Absor and at this point contains two trilogies [The Elyar Trilogy and The Rangers of Truen trilogy] as well as a series of eight [The Guardian Sagas] and six or seven stand-alones).
Sound like I have my work cut out for me? You bet! And I wouldn't change it for anything (despite some declarations to the contrary you may hear once in a while...) :0)

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