Illuminator Rising, meet My Little Pony

I never really got into My Little Pony as a kid, but my author friend Angela Wallace did.

So, to celebrate the release of my third book, The Illuminator RisingAngela designed and drew this book-themed pegasus pony! Awesome, right? The pony follows the fiery color palette of the book cover. I’ll call her Mharra, after the island where that erupting volcano is located. And I’m entering her in #PonyFest16 on Rebecca Enzor’s blog!

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For reference, here’s the book cover:

And a quick book description:

Thirteen-year-old Ellie and her crewmates aboard the flying ship Legend must rally the fearful survivors of their fleet and rise up against the deadly evil threatening to conquer their world. 

Fun times!

Hello, Orange

These are the colors of my soul.

Promotional cover text

They’re also the colors of most of my laundry. And my bedroom wall. And obviously, my book cover.

I’ve always found myself attracted to purples and blues. They’re peaceful, refreshing, and easy to be around. In a way, I feel like they represent me.

I used to think that only one color range could do that. But recently I’ve become fascinated with the color orange.

My writer friend Angela Wallace has been a fan of orange at least since we started writing stories together as teenagers. Even some of her book covers are orange.

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The orange memo has only recently reached me. But now I see it as representing fearlessness, power, energy, and fun.

Maybe I’m attracted to the color now because I want to be more of these things. Maybe it’s because I’m already becoming them. And I haven’t stopped liking blue/purple or repainted my bedroom wall. But in 2014, orange has become my other favorite color.

Like for toenail polish.

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And for my new indoor cactus garden.

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When Angela and I got together for a photo shoot, I even wore some orange in my scarf.

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After all, blue and orange are complementary colors.

Maybe a person can be more than one color–can be peaceful yet also fearless; can be easy to be around yet also powerful. We humans are multifaceted, with each facet constantly in a state of change–growing, shrinking, morphing. That’s a fact of being of being alive (and of staying out of ruts).

Maybe that’s also why we need friends who are multiple colors, to help stretch us and balance us out.

So hello, orange. It’s nice to meet you.

So Many Books…

So…I did it again. 
Yes, I am reading all of these books. At the same time. Count them. There are fifteen. One-five. 
Nearly 16 months ago, I wrote this post, getting my knickers all in a twist over reading *gasp* seven books at a time! Today, my past self would be shocked and probably horrified. Fifteen is a lot of books. 
It’s also a lot of inches. Maybe I should start measuring my reading that way. 

When I’m reading this many books at a time, my progress advances infinitesimally. Some of these titles have been on my bookshelf for a year. 
Tsk, tsk. So read fewer books, you say. 
But which ones to choose? 
For spiritual growth, I’ve got Philip Yancey’s Prayer and Disappointment with God, Sacred Pathways by Gary Thomas, C.S. Lewis’s The Problem of Pain, and Me Addiction by Rick Brown &c. 
On the topic of relationships, there’s His Needs, Her Needs by Willard F. Harley Jr., Sacred Search by Gary Thomas, and an old favorite: Boy Meets Girl by Joshua Harris. 
Halfway there. 
Now, for creative inspiration, we have Alan Jacobs’s biography The Narnian, about C.S. Lewis. There’s The Imagineering Way, by Disney’s team of Imagineers. And a particularly fascinating one called Imagine by Jonah Lehrer, about the process of creativity (a great loan from my knit-designing friend Audry). 
Some books for discussion with my tutoring students: The Library Card by Jerry Spinelli and Mandy by Julie Andrews Edwards (yes, the actress of Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music also wrote a children’s book!). 
And finally, some just for fun: Foundling by D.M. Cornish and “The Courtship of Miles Standish” in a beautiful 1893 edition of Longfellow’s collected works (a find from my latest library sale). 
Oho. But wait, there’s more. 
Now I can read even more  books at a time. Being the die-hard fan of paper books that I am, I held out a long time on an e-reader, but finally caved when my family gave me a Kindle for Christmas. Now I realize that, while I may always be partial to the smell and feel of paper, I don’t have to choose which method to love.
More methods of reading means more books 🙂 

Kindle reading does come up smaller by the inches method, but I’ve already got more in-progress titles on here, including Dreamwalker and Mourning Cloak by writer friends Angela Wallace and Rabia Gale
*Sigh* Maybe I need this on my wall: 
Library Wall Clock So Many Books, So Little Time

How about you? What are you reading? 


11 Questions for a Real Live Author

Ever wondered what a day in the life of a published author is like? Does the muse sing gracefully while fingers race on the keyboard to keep up? Or is it more like piles of coffee cups and shredded drafts? Do published authors have second jobs? What are their geeky secrets? And what do they think about e-books vs. paper?

Free image courtesy of stock.xchng and nkzs

Well, today we’re lucky enough to find out, because I’m doing my first author interview on this blog! Local author (and my good friend) Angela Wallace has just self-published her 5th title, an urban fantasy called Earth Tones, which is the third in her Elemental Magic series. She is now sitting in my virtual living room, ready to reveal her secrets. Muahaha.

I mean, welcome, Angela.


1. Let’s talk about book love (since that’s obviously one of my favorite topics). How old were you when you fell in love with reading? Can you remember what book/ books inspired you? 

I fell in love with reading the moment I learned how. I’d go to every Scholastic book fair and read enough books to get a prize every time. Some of my favorite books were Tamora Pierce’s quartets Song of the Lioness and The Immortals. They started with a young child with dreams or special powers, and the books followed their growth into young adulthood. I loved the journey. And the fantasy worlds. 😉


2. What was the first story you ever finished about? 

It was a YA sci-fi about a teenage rebel group in a post-apocalyptic United States. I guess the correct term would be dystopian, but it was heavy with space pods and ray guns. I wrote it when I was ten.



3. If you could have lunch with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why? 


A. W. Tozer. I love his book, The Pursuit of God, and I imagine it would be an extraordinary conversation.


4. Juggling jobs is one of my biggest challenges. How does a published author support herself? Is writing your only job? 

I’m also a sign language interpreter. I work at a couple local colleges interpreting classroom lectures. It’s great because I get to keep learning new subjects, but don’t have to work for a grade!


5. What is the geekiest thing about you? Because we have to know 🙂

I know how to write a form of Tolkien’s elvish runes. I used to exchange letters with a friend in high school written in them. It also makes a very handy code to keep passwords in.

6. What are some of the weirdest ways you’ve gotten story ideas? 

Dreams, for one. I’ve dreamed a few complete story plots from beginning to end, though they don’t often get written down. If I could just dream about the novels I’m actually working on, I could save time!


7. Now that you can look back on the completion of your latest book, Earth Tones, what was your favorite part of writing this book? 

Hm, I think it was getting to know a new main character, plus getting to play with a new element. There was a lot more opportunity for Nita to communicate with animals, and the earth wielding in fight scenes was fun too.


Angela’s latest book, Earth Tones, is the third in her Elemental Magic series.

8. You publish both paper books and e-books. As an avid reader yourself, which do you prefer, and why? 

It depends. I do like paper books, seeing the cover on the front, seeing my progress as I turn the pages. But some of them are really fat and it hurts my wrist to hold them, lol. Then I like e-books better because it’s much lighter to carry around.

9. Online self-publishing gets a lot of media attention these days. So what do you like about self-publishing? 

I like keeping control over my story. (Yes, I’m a control freak.) I also like working at my own pace. I can be a drill sergeant on myself, but am well aware that “life happens.” It’s easier to give myself permission to be flexible than it is to ask for it from someone else.


10. Anything you don’t like about it?  

The marketing, lol. Though, traditionally published authors have to do much the same. Putting together this blog tour was a big step for me!


11. Are there are any fun scenes in Earth Tones that didn’t end up in the final draft? 

There was this cute scene I wanted to use, but it just didn’t fit anywhere in the story. Nita and her boyfriend Keenan are leaving the house when they find a moose on the porch. I learned that this is a very dangerous situation and that people are actually trapped in their homes until the moose decides to leave on its own. Now, Nita could just tell the moose to get lost with her earth magic, but instead she says they’ll have to put their plans on hold, and with a suggestive smile, hints that they can figure out something else to fill their time with.

Thank you for your time and insights, Angela! 


If Earth Tones captures your fancy, check it out on Amazon

And watch the book trailer on Youtube (trailers aren’t just for movies anymore)! Authors nowadays–especially self-published–are Jacks and Jills of many trades, and Angela turned moviemaker to promote her new book. Check it out.  


You can also read the book description:


Nita Young doesn’t know if she has a future with college sweetheart Keenan Donovan—two star-crossed lovers of opposing elements—but she invites him up to Alaska to see if Earth and Water can rekindle their old flame. When a series of wild animal attacks strike the inhabitants of Yakutat, Nita has to put her romantic plans on hold. Mangled bodies are turning up, and a mysterious black panther has been spotted in the woods. Fur, scales, and a venomous bite suggest the cat is supernatural in origin—and evidence indicates that someone not only summoned it, but is using it to target those Nita cares about. It’s the perfect murder weapon: no fingerprints, no evidence. And in a town this small, the killer is someone she knows. Nita’s strength will be put to the test as she faces losing her friends, her town, and the man she loves.


To connect with Angela:
Angela Wallace loves gun-toting good boys and could have been a cop in another life except for the unfortunate condition of real blood making her queasy. Good thing writing gun and sword fights isn’t a problem. In her books you’ll find the power of love, magic, and redemption. 

Blog: http://angelawallace.wordpress.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Angela-Wallace-Author/232511253453440
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AngelaRWallace

I hope you enjoyed this interview! If you leave a comment to this post, both Angela and I will be answering them today. Open Q&A time. Hint, hint 🙂

Holistic Reading…and Living

Can you read just one book at a time?

I can’t, unless it’s impossibly engrossing (the last one was Here Burns My Candle, a Scottish historical novel by Liz Curtis Higgs).

I don’t always mean to get started on so many books. But I love them because they speak to my heart and mind. They wriggle past the outward fronts I put on and give me sharp lectures or hope-giving inspiration. They’re companionable when I don’t feel like talking. They’re adventures that come cheaper than a plane ticket. So I put a good read on my nightstand…and then add another…and another…and so it goes.

Really, though, I think I read multiple books at a time because real life has many parts. I am more than just a learning brain: I am also an imagination, a soul, and a body. I am a worker, a server, a dreamer, a pilgrim, and I stand in need of beauty as well as instruction. I read multiple books simultaneously for the same reason I schedule more than one type of activity into my week. I lesson plan, but I also watch movies. I have coffee with friends, but sometimes I’m alone in the quiet house. I spend time both praying and walking. We are whole people with multiple areas of life, and each of those areas has different needs.

I suppose you could call it holistic reading. The good part about it is when I have a moment to read, I almost always have something I  feel inclined to read right then, no matter what time of the day or week.

The downside?

Overextension.

Just as I sometimes schedule too many activities into a week, however holistic they may be, sometimes I take on more reading than I can actually handle. Ever have that feeling? The spines look so pretty, all fitting snugly together on the shelf, until you realize you haven’t opened any of them in a week. Or more. And that even when you do snag a stray hour for reading, you spend a quarter of it in paralysis before the bookshelf, worrying and wondering over which volume you should spend the time on.

Right now, for example. It started out as a very holistic plan, with some books for each different area of life. It went like this:

Tutoring:


Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
Devotional books:


A study on the book of Isaiah by Navpress
Grace for the Good Girl by Emily P. Freeman (who, by the way, has a great blog: http://www.chattingatthesky.com/)


Fun Stuff:


Cover for 'Phoenix Feather' 
Phoenix Feather by my dear friend Angela Wallace (angelawallace.wordpress.com)


Classics:


The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan

Nighttime reading:


101 Famous Poems (see “Why Busy People Need Poetry”
Whoops…suddenly I’m reading 7 books. And my “To Read” stack is still growing. 
Perhaps there’s balance to be found in this reading mania. There are so many great books to read, each equipped to meet different needs. Maybe the key is to limit the number of categories…and the number of books per category…and the number of times I say “yes” to a new book…
The challenge is to remain holistic without becoming overextended. Sounds a lot like my life. 
Imagine that.
What are you reading right now? Do you have a one-book-at-a-time policy?