Friday, September 28, 2012

September...but not with pictures...


Whew. Wow, sorry for the missed posts last Friday and Monday. It's been an interesting month thus far. Compared to the summer months, September has been booooooring, and I think that's part of the problem. Adjusting back to the slower fall and winter months, plus pregnancy hormones, plus rainy/gloomy/cloudy for a week equals Heather feeling super bummed and not in the mood to do anything but read all day.
Seriously. Two weeks ago on Wednesday I got some books from the library. I finished two of them on Wednesday, the third on Thursday, and the fourth on Saturday. Since then I've been working on the Wheel of Time book 4, which is ridiculously huge and makes me feel like an incredibly slow reader. I'm about halfway through it and even spent a couple of days again, reading most of the day.
OK, on to other news…as many of you've heard already, I'm pregnant again! I'm at 12 weeks right now and I look big already. My stomach muscles betrayed me big time and you could tell I was pregnant by about six weeks, not even kidding. (You know you look big when a friend stares at your belly on Sunday and says "Oh my gosh—you really grew this week!" Ummm, thanks?) ;) I've had two ultrasounds already and everything looks awesome, baby is doing great. This time around I've felt much better than with Matthew. The morning sickness showed up around 8 weeks, again, but for the most part I've felt fine. This baby's due date is April 9th, so the little monster will be in good company…right there next to Matthew's and sandwiched between my brother Josh's birthday, and the two Hannahs' birthdays as well as several friends' birthdays. April is a hot month for birthdays! :)
Last Saturday our friends the Greggs and Justin & I went to Green Bay for a shopping trip. I desperately needed maternity clothes…nevertheless Elyse almost had to drag me into a maternity shop, since I had it fixed in my mind that maternity clothes couldn't be anything other than baggy, ugly, and looking like something I wouldn't have worn even back in the '90s. Let me forever apologize to all modern-day maternity clothes, because I found some super-cute ones. I also found a cute denim jacket with a couple of lace appliques and some rips that Justin said made it look like it had been attacked by a cat…and I love it. Favorite new layering bit for fall, right there. Oh yes, and I bought another ear cuff. This one fits around the middle of my ear and has a couple of silver vines with leaves that curve over my earlobe. Very elvish, and oh so nerdy.
In writing news…ha. Ha. What writing? And before you ask, yes, I stopped taking my vitamin D for a while because I didn't remember it. So I was tired all the time, grumpy, and as mentioned before, wanted to do nothing but read all day. Oh joy, hello, seasonal depression. But now I'm back on the vitamin D and doing much better. I'm also getting back into writing…starting with building up my blog posts again. No way am I going to finish rewriting Forged Steel by the end of this month, so I guess I'll push it to October and try again! Blogging has become a big time-suck for me and so I'm trying to think of ways to make it easier…we shall see what I come up with, but for now no major changes will be made. I'll finished 2012 on this schedule and let you know what's going on in the new year.
Speaking of…I am insanely ready for Christmas. All the shops were putting out their Christmas stuff (already!) and I've been humming Trans Siberian Orchestra for the last few days now. Oh yes, and Elyse bought and awesome book of Christmas carol duets and it has a very cool version of the Coventry Carol in it that we're going to play for communion sometime in December.
One more thing, and then I'm done boring you guys. We're moving! Not away from the UP, thank goodness, just up the hill a little bit. We'll be closer to Justin's work. It's a new (brand new, like, we're waiting to move in because it's not quite finished new) townhome in a little complex with three other townhomes. At first glance it doesn't sound a ton better than the apartment, since it still only has 2 bedrooms, BUT…it has a garage (yay for getting all Justin's tools out of my office!) a little basement, and a backyard. So next year I can have a little vegetable garden and plant some flowers, and the little monster and I will be spending plenty of time in the hammock you can bet. :)
Life is wonderful. Yes, it is. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

NAF: Small-Mindedness

A complaint about why people can't seem to entertain new ideas and have an open mind.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Orphan King by Sigmund Brouwer

STORYLINE: The future of the Immortals is in the hands of an orphan

My greatest fear was that they would find us and make of us a sacrifice beneath a full moon. Now you, Thomas, must help us destroy the circle of evil.

The last words of a dying woman would change the life of young Thomas. Raised behind monastery walls, he knows nothing of his mysterious past or imminent destiny. But now, in the heart of medieval England, a darkness threatens to strangle truth. An ancient order tightens their ghostly grip on power, creating fear and exiling those who would oppose them. Thomas is determined fulfill his calling and bring light into the mysterious world of the Druids and leaves the monastery on an important quest.

Thomas quickly finds himself in unfamiliar territory, as he must put his faith in unusual companions—a cryptic knight, a child thief, and the beautiful, silent woman whom may not be all she seems.  From the solitary life of an orphan, Thomas now finds himself tangled in the roots of both comradery and suspicion.

Can he trust those who would join his battle…or will his fears force him to go on alone?



MY THOUGHTS: I found this book being offered in the Waterbrook Multnomah reviewers choices and, after reading the description, gave a big grin. I recognized this story! I'd devoured it multiple times as a teenager--back then it was one huge, thick novel called, depending on what reprinting you got, Magnus or Wings of Dawn. I remember thinking that the cover for Magnus was horrible and the Wings of Dawn cover really cool, and I remembered loving the story (it helped that this version had a cool cover as well) so I ordered it.

I definitely killed a childhood favorite doing that.

The book was OK. It had fleshed out a little of the events I remembered reading. If I'd read it as a teenager and fledgling writer, I probably would have loved it again. But...

I felt disconnected to the characters. Thomas was not as cool as I remembered. The story resolution felt way too easy. I remember that this is not the end of the book--in fact, there's a lot more than will be covered in the rest of the series, I assume--but I still didn't care for it. At times the narrative felt a little jerky as well.

About the only thing I liked was how Thomas starts out with almost no faith. As I remember, his faith gradually builds, and I remember enjoying his journey. 

I wish I had some more positive things to say about this book. I really wanted to like it, but I really didn't. I might pick up the rest of the books in the series just for the sake of revisiting an old favorite, but I don't expect to like them any more than I liked this one.

My Rating: two and a half out of five stars

**I received this book from Waterbrook Multnomah in exchange for my honest review**

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Remembering Matthew

**For those who didn't see it on the New Authors Fellowship earlier this week**


For those who don't know, earlier this year I was seventeen weeks pregnant when we discovered that the precious little child I'd been carrying had been called to heaven. We didn't even know if the baby was a boy or a girl at that point. Two days, nearly forty hours of induced labor later, I gave birth to our son, Matthew. My body didn't want to give him up.
I didn't want to give him up.
Today is Matthew's due date. He should have been born then, healthy and whole. But God chose to take Matty to live with Him instead.
Matthew is buried next to my husband Justin's youngest sister, Isabella, who passed away two days after being born. I become very close friends with Justin shortly after Isabella passed away...and little did I know that he already had plans in place to ask to court me. We loved little Bell, and I remember thinking, when I first became pregnant, that I did not want to put Justin through another little one's passing.
God, for some reason that we cannot yet understand (and that I still sometimes get angry about), chose to do so.
Bell is only four years older than Matthew, and she was born September 22nd, just week later than Matthew's due date. Sometimes, when Justin and I are quietly thinking and talking about our sweet baby, we think of how Aunt Bell is with Matthew. Just having Jesus would be sufficient enough, but we smile to think of Belle and Matty playing together. We laugh about how much havoc those two rambunctious Titus kids are probably causing and how many angels are going gray because of their antics. Silly, I know, but it helps.
I miss my little boy so much. It still hurts to write about this, even though I am now carrying our second child. I thought that having another baby might help with healing, but it hasn't yet. Instead I'm on pins and needles. I can only pray that my body will be a safer place for this little baby than it was for Matthew. That prayer hurts in so many ways.
Yet, I don't want to forget. I want to remember Matthew. Not the way that he was when he was born, perhaps, or how painful that whole time was. I want to remember him like I think he would have been born...with a mass of curly black hair and a mischievous personality, just like his daddy. After all, even at seventeen weeks, he already had his daddy's big knuckles and long toes. I don't think its a stretch to imagine that he would have been just like Justin.
It's funny how someone you've never met can wrap such tenacious little fingers around your heart. That's what Matthew did to me from the first pregnancy test, the first ultrasound, the first time I felt a tickle of movement. We loved him and waited for him.
I guess it's not a lot different than now, really. We just have to wait a little longer.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Guest Post: Robynn Tolbert


What Spec Fic Isn’t

Have you heard of “spec fic,” aka “speculative fiction?” I hadn’t, until I started hanging out with writers and learned I wrote it. A few famous authors are Ted Dekker, Stephen Lawhead and Frank Perretti, but more and more not-yet-famous authors are entering the market thanks to smaller, independent publishers willing to take a chance. The greater ease and lower cost of publishing has helped, too.

Since it’s always easier to define a thing by what it isn’t, let’s start there.

1) Spec-fic isn’t easy to categorize.
When someone asks you what the book is about and you hem and haw looking for a way to explain it, you’re probably reading spec-fic. It doesn’t fit into a box. The main character isn’t a back-slidden Christian looking for redemption, or a bride struggling to make her arranged marriage work, or a guy trying to survive in a post-Rapture world, although those could be descriptions of spec-fic. You know those books that tell the story of a Biblical figure like it was a novel (Tosca Lee’s Havah) or present a picture of the end times as we might imagine it based on the Biblical account (the Left Behind series or Joel Rosenberg’s The Last Jihad)? Those are spec-fic. You may be reading spec-fic and not even knowing it, like I was.

2) Spec-fic isn’t absolute truth according to the author.
I’m used to believing what I read. Hold over from trusting the Bible as the inspired word of God, I guess. The first few spec-fic books I read had me squirming. Is this the world as the author sees it? Am I supposed to accept this as doctrine? What about (insert Biblical teaching here)? It took me a while to realize you can’t judge a spec-fic author on the first 100 words. Maybe not even the first 1000. You have to give them a little leeway to get to their point. Once you’ve read the book, you get to decide if what they presented is truth.
This is because the spec-fic author would rather explore truth than spoon feed it to you. They ask the “what if?” question. Which leads to point 3.

3) Spec-fic has no easy solutions.
This may be the hardest part for the newbie reader who is used to getting obvious answers in her Christian fiction. A spec-fic author isn’t satisfied with “everybody gets saved and lives happily ever after according to the word of God,” mostly because that so seldom happens in real life. Frankly, it didn’t happen all that often in the Bible. A spec-fic author wants you to think about the truth behind church doctrine—that ultimate Truth of God Himself. Again, not saying a spec-fic author has a better grasp of truth than anybody else. I am saying you will get to decide whether or not you agree with the story at its conclusion.

Because spec-fic isn’t after the easy solution, you may encounter things in the story that make you uncomfortable. The main character may not be a saint, or even close to one. Situations presented may be as real as a trip to Walmart in language, dress and culture shock. Have you been to Walmart lately? I see things there I wouldn’t watch on cable TV. Some spec-fic books are not suitable for children. They were never meant to be.

The irony is “spec-fic” as a label only applies to the Christian audience. In any other market, it would just be called “fiction.” But Christians hate surprises in their books. They hate encountering a foul word, or a truly cruel act, or a character that makes horrible choices and has to live with them, so we call it “spec-fic” as a warning. It’s odd, because, again, the Bible is full of those situations. On the other hand, God wrote the Bible and He’s perfect. For the rest of us, we must do our best to live holy lives, and that includes our entertainment choices.

I guess I wanted to warn you. My book is so close to the near end of normal in the spec-fic spectrum, I’m almost ashamed to be included in that market. I am ridiculously conventional. I even like writing happy endings. However, Star of Justice is for adults. It contains adult situations and characters that are not glowing examples of sainthood (well, except for one). I’m not trying to present anything other than a good story of normal people trying to do the right thing for the right reasons and occasionally failing miserably for your entertainment.

My hope—should you read Star of Justice—is that it will make you think. Would you walk that same road? Would you make the hard choices if they were the right choices? Would you be a friend to someone who desperately needs one, even if you don’t understand her at all? Would you look to yourself or to God for the help you needed? Those were a few of the questions I was asking while I wrote it.

The most important question of all to me was “wouldn’t you love to have a dog like Jasper?”

I sure did. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Remembering...

Today is just a few days away from Matthew's due date. I wanted to remember him...

Monday, September 10, 2012

Novel Spotlight: Star of Justice by Robynn Tolbert

STORYLINE: She joined the knighthood for the scholarship program... A thwarted assassination attempt drags Caissa Ocren into a secret war between elemental spirits and dragon worshippers. More accustomed to solving puzzles than wielding swords, she undergoes a crash course in survival from a mercenary minstrel, a shape-shifting druid, and a legendary spirit warrior. An ancient book may hold the answers she seeks, but understanding requires the memories of a wizard. With time against her, Caissa faces the hardest lesson of all - how to serve when the cost is her life.

MY THOUGHTS:

Oh my goodness.

I'm really not sure why I liked this book as much as I do. Really, I should dislike it. There are many (maaaany) off-color comments by the characters. One of Caissa's talents is (though never explicitly detailed) swearing worse than a sailor. And several of the characters are seen naked or nearly so.

But I did like this book.

The characters were very well-drawn and each had an outrageously unique personality. Readers of Star of Justice will not forget these characters in a hurry, especially the one I nicknamed The Man I Want to Strangle...otherwise known as Merritt. There are quite a few humorous situations that had me laughing aloud.

The plot is twisting and fun, with plenty of action and quite a few surprises. I loved how Robynn twisted a typical fantasy world to include some science fiction elements. Her writing style is perfectly suited to Caissa's scholarly mind, and I loved the faith that was woven throughout.

Besides the things I mentioned above, one part of the plot drove me insane. Merritt and Caissa's relationship. Though he made me laugh, I thought Merritt was a total jerk and that he so did not deserve a romantic relationship with Caissa. I kept wanting to push them apart and smack Merritt over the head. However...the ending of the book was beautiful. My opinion of Merritt rose in leaps and bounds throughout the final few chapters.

This is definitely not a family book, nor is it one for younger readers. I'd only give it to 18-year-olds that were quite mature. Overall, however, I really did enjoy it.

Rating: Four out of five stars

Friday, September 7, 2012

August Writing Report

Forged Steel: I'm on chapter 4 of the rewrite. It's going a little slower than I anticipated, just because there's a bunch of new stuff to add right away. Once I get into the middle of the book, rewriting should speed up.

Darkglass: I have about 10,000 words written here. While not going as quickly as I'd hoped, I'm enjoying the process of discovery on this story so much! Plus I'm having fun with some new twists I put into it. Celtic Elves, anyone? :)

Face: Has been at a standstill for the most part, as both Mirriam and I are busy with other projects. I hope to pick it back up this month--there's no doubt that we could easily finish it, as we both love it very much!  

Falls the Shadow: Is very close to being finished! My final chapter posted on the first.

Avenir Eclectia Volume 1: Will be releasing on September 15th! Look--that's my name, second-to-last there! On the cover for a PRINT BOOK! :D 

EXCERPTS:

Forged Steel: I lowered my hand, but Blake had already seen me. He waved back, but instead of coming across the room, he just stood by the door, staring at us. Another guy with a blue Mohawk came in the door and stopped beside Blake. They exchanged a few words, then the blue-haired kid ducked back out. Blake never took his eyes off us the entire exchange.
"This is creepy," I muttered.
Marc shifted in his seat and finally looked at Blake. His eyes narrowed.
Blake grinned, the silver stud in his lip twinkling, pointed at Marc in an "I'm watching you" sign, then turned and pushed out the café door. For a split second, as he crossed the threshold, his skin seemed to waver and stretch. I caught a glimpse of green skin covering his arm, then Blake was out the door and walking away.
I blinked hard. "Did you just see what I saw?"
Marc turned to me, his face perfectly composed and blank. "What?"
Uh huh, sure, act like Mr. Innocent. "You know what."
"Blake is always weird." Marc flicked a wad of napkin at me.

Darkglass: He stood between me and the stairs, his eyes blazing hazel fire. "Have you regained your magic?"
I crossed my arms over my chest. "Oh, please. You know that some of the best Elven magic-workers have said I won't. Why should you care? Even if I did regain it, it'd be my luck that your magic is still stronger than mine."
He chuckled. "You only run yourself down like that when you're hiding something, Mollan. Now answer me."
I shoved past him. "I'm not going to waste my time."
I had just put my foot on the first step when I felt it, a sharp tingling in the back of my skull. I whirled around, slamming the door to my mind, but it was too late—Fachtna was in. His eyes were narrowed, his ear tips red as he bore down on me. I clenched the staircase bannister and pushed, hard, but his magic only moved forward, prying into me.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

NAF: Call Me a Professional, Already

A little gripe about being a professional author.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Favorite Summer Reads

I didn't get a ton of reading done this summer--too busy trying to keep up with writing on top of all the camping, jet-skiing, rock-climbing, and mudding that we did! :) Several books stand out to me as favorites this summer:

Rift Jump by Greg Mitchell
A sinister threat is growing in the void between realities, and Michael has been recruited to stop it. Ripped from his own violent life, he is sent rift jumping to other worlds seeking out the agents of the Dark and putting them to an end by any means necessary. The love of his life, Sara, joins him as he battles Civil War spaceships, sea serpents, superpowered humans, and even his own duplicate from a parallel timeline. But the darkness he fights is growing within him too, calling him to the same destiny as every other Michael from every other world. If he is to change his fate, he must learn to love, to forgive, to trust, and to let the man in the Stetson guide him to become the warrior of the Light he was always meant to be.


Night Train to Rigel by Timothy Zahn
HUMANITY'S LAST HOPE

It begins when a man delivers a message for former government agent Frank Compton--only to fall dead at his feet. The message is a summons from the Spiders, the exotic and mysterious creatures who run the Quadrail, an incredible transportation system connecting civilizations across the galaxy. The Spiders believe that someone or something is preparing to attack their entire network and the worlds it serves, by smuggling battleships through the Quadrail--something that should be impossible to do. Compton, with the aid of a beautiful but enigmatic agent of the Spiders, is their last hope.

Because nobody else has been able to find the elusive enemy who seeks to enslave the entire galaxy…and Earth is its next target.

And a couple that I've had the privilege to read before publication, either as a beta reader or as it has been written:

Monster by Mirriam Neal

Seeking Unseen by Kat Heckenbach
What were your favorite books this summer?

Translate

All blog content copyrighted 2012 by H. A. Titus