Catching Up

Catching Up:

The Storm

November 17, the largest storm event in 126 years blew through Eastern Washington. As a result, we were without power at our house for three days. Our children were without power for four, five, and six days.

Fortunately, there was no serious damage at our houses. But a lot of people in Spokane are still struggling to repair damage and get back on the grid. Avista, the power company here, has been working around the clock to get things back on line.

Thanksgiving

We had a lot to be thankful for, as we gathered at our oldest daughter’s house and celebrated the holiday with family. We are all healthy, doing well, and all had power again.

Prefunk the Holidays

The November promotion by my publisher, Booktrope, went well. During the free week, from Nov. 9 to 14, about 100 ebook copies of Sudden Mission were downloaded by readers.

We are still looking for final numbers on the sale price ebook, but the $2.99 price did draw interest. Some folks also bought the print copy. There were a couple points in November I was a best selling author on Amazon. What a roller coaster ride this is.

NaNoWriMo

November is also National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and a number of author friends participated. Many did accomplish the 50 thousand word goal and I cheered them on during the month. I hope I made some small contribution to their success.

I did not participate this year as I’m deep in the edit and rewrite of Nasty Leftovers, the sequel to Sudden Mission. 

Guest Blog Post

As we were still without power, I got a note from Wendy Van Camp that my guest blog about “Characters” went up on her site. You can read it here: No Wasted Ink.

I met Wendy at WorldCon 2015 here in Spokane and she invited me to write a guest blog and she will do a review of Sudden Mission sometime early in 2016.

Book Signing

I will be in Colfax, WA, Thursday, Dec. 3, from 3 to 6 pm selling and signing paper copies of Sudden Mission. If you are in the area, stop by the Whitman County Library in town and visit. If you have a copy already, I’ll be happy to sign it for you. If you want one, I’ll have a supply with me.

This is also Colfax’s Winter Festival, so there should be lots of things going on that day.

Keep writing.

 

Just the Messenger

I’m just the messenger

In my novel, Sudden Mission, I have the angel Gabriel show up to bring a message to the main character, Paul. His job is to get Paul to listen to the message and do what is asked. He doesn’t tell Paul how to do his task, what tools to use, or even make suggestions.

Sudden Mission Cover“I’m just the messenger,” he tells Paul. Gabriel’s task is to deliver the message. His statement almost seems like a cop out, but it isn’t and it is an important point to consider. This story is not about Gabriel. Gabriel’s role, as an angel, is to glorify God. In this case he is doing an assigned task, God’s bidding.

In some ways, the story isn’t even about Paul. The story is about faith. It’s about trust in and obedience to God. Gabriel does his part, delivering the message. Paul does his part by being the protagonist and living through the things that happen on his quest. But the story is also about God’s love and redemption.

So, where does that leave me, the author? I’m the one who hammered out the pages, word after word. Then I rewrote, edited, corrected. Editors worked on it and I again rewrote, corrected and edited. Our proofreader went over it. Again I corrected and fixed. The story is polished and powerful. I should be proud. My story, right?

No.

As the writer, author, I need to remember that the story isn’t about me, either. I have to put my ego aside and listen to God. He is the one telling the story. God gifted me with the skills and talents, the imagination and the words, and He’s using that in me to tell the story. He gifted my publishing team, my editor and proofreader, too. It is through these gifts that this story came to be.

As Jesus said, “… apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 (NIV)

His story.

I stand in the wings now, seeing the fruit of God’s story.

I’m just the messenger.

 

—–

Note: A slightly different version of this first appeared on the Vox Dei Publishing blog on August 18, 2015: http://www.voxdeipublishing.com/blog/messenger

 

On Sale

Just a heads up today. Sudden Mission ebook is on sale on Amazon this month (November) for $2.99. It is part of a promotion this month from my publisher, Booktrope and Vox Dei Publishing.

FB_wk1My book is not the only one, though. There will be a lot of Booktrope books on sale this month and you can check it out by getting on Runaway Goodness, or on Amazon. The Amazon link shows you all the books Booktrope has on the November promotion.

It’s called “Pre-Funk the Holidays.” The whole list, including Sudden Mission, is listed at this location:

(No longer valid)

Enjoy!

If you are participating in NaNoWriMo and need a cheerleader, follow me on Twitter (@rapier57) and let me know you are writing.

Keep writing.

 

 

Amy’s Lesson

(This is a short-short story–about 1,500 words–I put together the other day. My thought is to write a third novel following Paul and Amy from Sudden Mission and the sequel, but from Amy’s point of view. So this is an exercise in writing from Amy’s point of view, plus a little view into the dystopian world they live in, and some seasonal fun. Happy Halloween. – GLP)

Amy Grossman shrugged her shoulders against her backpack straps as she entered the small town. The breeze pushed a lock of her auburn hair across her grey eyes and she gently looped it back behind her ear with her right hand.

Aside from the breeze tossing gold and brown leaves and bits of paper around the street, nothing else moved in the town. Empty storefronts looked out on the main street. Windows shattered, doors smashed in, and the products formerly offered for sale inside gone.

They seemed to cry out to the empty streets. Why?

Fall was strong in the air and the early morning frost that coated her sleeping bag was still fresh in Amy’s memory, and just then it made her shiver. Normally, the autumn breeze would bring crisp scents and a promise of harvest and feasts. But this small town had been ravaged by looters, gangs and rovers in the last two years. The smells in and around it held a strong suggestion of decay and rot.

Fortunately, the smells of not-so-freshly dead were long gone.

BOAmy jumped, startled by the sudden rush of breeze and scrape of dry leaves on the sidewalk near an alleyway. She found herself in a fighting stance, holding her bō in an attack position, looking around. She still had nightmares from her experiences on this last summer’s mission trip. The lost souls they went to save, the hellhounds, the battles, the demon, and the possessed–all continued to haunt her daily life.
She remembered there was a term for what she now experienced. Nightmares, jumping at sudden noises, being hyper-vigilant. She just didn’t remember the term. It’s not important now, anyway, she told herself. There isn’t anyone to help me deal with it other than Paul and my family.

She shook it off and continued on. She sought a grocery or hardware store that may still have something useful left. This was the third town in the last few days of foraging. They were having to go further and further from their community each time they sent out foragers. And each time they returned with fewer useful items, less edible foods.

Amy had a short list from the community, most of which she found already. But she still needed to find some tools and some special oil, undamaged clothing, and any edible food.

The community produced almost everything anyone needed from their household gardens and a few small farms. But, they always sought to add any unspoiled canned food and stocks of clothing. Amy could not carry all that back in her backpack, but would note the location of large stocks of clothing, food, or hardware for larger groups who would come later with trucks.

Fuel was rare now so vehicles were only used when absolutely necessary and there was a large cache of supplies to bring in.

She stepped carefully across the threshold of a broken entry door, trying not to make too much noise. Her eyes scanned the dingy, dark interior of the former hardware store.

#

Nothing moved.

She didn’t expect to find much on the shelves. Most were cleared of anything useful. Everything left behind was damaged or destroyed and joined the detritus covering the shelves and floor of the store. She moved carefully toward the rear of the store and found the door to the back room. This is where stock was kept until brought out to the shelves. Looters often overlooked this part of the store operations, and the community harvested a lot of good tools and material in these back rooms.

This one, though, was well looted. Boxes torn open and the remains of spilled fluids and powders littered the floor. If there had been tools and equipment back here, they were long gone.

She shook her head, but still made a loop through the room to make sure she didn’t miss anything.

Outside, she identified a small grocery a couple of blocks down the street and made her way to it. Just after the Troubles, the time when Satan threw reality into chaos and decimated two-thirds of the world population, supermarkets and grocery stores were difficult to enter. Power failures caused frozen and refrigerated food storage to fail. The resulting smell of rotting food could be overpowering. Now it wasn’t so bad. You just didn’t touch or move anything from the freezer or cooler units.

She walked slowly through the aisles of the grocery. What she found was boxed food chewed into by mice, or worse. All the canned food she saw was dented or bulging–and most of those scattered on the floor. No coffee in cans, bags or bulk at all. At the bulk bins for coffee, she opened one and breathed deeply of the aroma. Even empty, it still held an aroma.

I miss good coffee, she thought.

She sighed and shuffled on.

In the candy aisle, she saw one little bag dangling from a display hanger. It had a patina of dust, but a dull orange and yellow could be seen through it. As she drew closer, she recognized it.

Candy corn.

Carefully, she pulled the small bag from the hanger bar and gently wiped the dust off the package. Yes, it was candy corn. It was intact and the candy inside looked unharmed, even safe to eat. The pieces had bright white, orange, and yellow parts.

She resisted the urge to tear it open and devour all the pieces immediately. Tears filled her eyes and spilled down her freckled cheeks. Memories of her childhood, Halloween treats, and the flavor and sweetness of candy corn in her mouth drifted through her head.

Then another memory–a lesson–came to her. Something she could do to share this special treasure.

Candy corn.

#

Amy watched the small children enter her little Sunday school classroom. She could barely contain herself as she sat on the floor waiting for them. They circled around her and joined her on the floor doing the normal things small children do; wriggling, giggling, and squirming around.

“How are you all this fine Sunday?” Amy said. This was the signal for the children to settle down and pay attention. After a moment, they were attentive.

“Fine, Miss Amy,” they chorused.

“Good,” she said. She looked around at the small, sweet, smiling faces. “We have an interesting lesson today. Who can tell me what God is?”

One little boy shot his hand up. Amy nodded to him.

“God is good,” he said.

“Thank you, Brad. That is correct. Anyone else? What is God?”

A little girl on the other side put her hand up.

“God is our Heavenly Father,” she said when Amy looked at her.

Amy smiled and nodded.

“Right. Did you also know that God is three in one?”

All the children looked at Amy, some confused.

“God is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,” she said, using the fingers of her left hand to enumerate the points. “All three in one God. It is called the Trinity.”
Another little boy raised his hand.

“Yes, David,” Amy said.

“Does he come apart like a toy?”

“No, not really,” Amy said. She chuckled softly. “Let me show you something that might help understand God.”

She reached behind her and into her pack and carefully brought out a small package. Her hands shook just a little. There was enough for all the children here, with some left over. But for all she knew, this was the last package in existence. She carefully opened the package and spilled the contents out in her hand.

“This is candy corn,” she said. “I want each of you to take one. Just take one, hold it in your hand and look at it carefully.”

The children all took a piece of the small candies. Amy realized this was the first–and likely the last–time that these children would see and experience candy corn.

“Notice that there is a white part at the tip, an orange part in the middle, and a yellow part on the large end.”

She used her own piece to demonstrate as she spoke, pointing to each part. “But the candy corn is one piece. This is like God. God has the Father part, the Son part, and the Holy Spirit part, but is just the one God.”

The children looked at the candy and back at Amy. No one raised a hand.

“And, do you know the best part?” Amy said. She held up her piece of the candy.
Most of the children shook their heads. No one raised a hand.

“God is sweet and good! Just like candy corn.” Amy popped the candy corn into her mouth and chewed. The flavor wasn’t as strong as she remembered, and the candy was just slightly stale. But it was good and sweet. She savored it a moment, with those childhood memories flooding back. Then she noticed the children hadn’t moved a muscle.

“It’s okay,” she said, smiling. “You can eat your candy now.”

< The End >

Keep writing.

Self Promotion

One of the more difficult parts of the modern publishing paradigm is self promotion. I’m not good at this and always had trouble with it. It seems like bragging and I’ve never been comfortable with that.

Self promotion plays into job interviews. I probably understated my skills and accomplishments in my resume and interviews. Turns out, this seems counter to current trends where folks overstate skills and experiences, sometimes to the point of complete fabrication. While I may have understated things, I was always honest.

Now, though, I have to reach out to various people and institutions to arrange readings and signings. Self promotion.

Since Sudden Mission is a Christian-themed middle-grade/YA novel, I need to find venues for readings and signings that fit the message, you might say. Around Spokane, we have Christian-based businesses or mission groups in the form of coffee shops or cafe/churches. These are found all around the city and I’ve made contact with some.

The first reading/signing event at Indaba Coffee (the Broadway location), turned out great. Most of the audience were friends and family and a few other regulars at the coffee shop. I introduced myself and gave a little intro to the reading (not really enough it turns out), read two passages, then opened up to questions. There were a lot of questions and we got some good discussion going. We planned the event for about an hour and we got wrapped up in just about that amount of time. I even managed to sell and sign a few books.

I handed out a lot of those promotion cards I had made and left a stack at the coffee shop. That, I think, is a handy tool for those who aren’t ready to buy a copy immediately, but want to check it out more.

Based on this, I’m going to move ahead with more reading/signing events at other neighborhood venues in the area. I made contact with another venue and plan to visit a third this week.

Libraries are another resource. If you look at my Events page, you’ll see I have a couple of things scheduled at the Whitman County Library. That wasn’t too difficult since we have a lot of family in that county (just to the south of us). It could be more difficult getting into the Spokane County Library system to do similar readings since it is a larger organization. But, libraries, like most public institutions, are financially strapped. An author willing to volunteer for readings and programs may succeed.

Libraries in public schools may reject Sudden Mission for various reasons, libraries in Christian schools in the area are more likely to accept it. I did make contact with a number of Christian school administrators and librarians in the area to see if I can generate some communication. So, we’ll see how that goes.

Libraries, as I mentioned above, are often financially strapped. Whitman County Library did order a copy of my book for their collection and I’m grateful. But, I will also ask if they want another copy as a donation. I plan to offer copies to any other library I work with, so long as it ends up in their collection and not part of their book sale. While this won’t boost my sales numbers or author ranking on Amazon, it will get the book more exposure.

Keep writing.