A Promotional Opportunity for The Andromeda’s Ghost

This month I was invited to participate in a roundtable discussion hosted by Fellowship of Fools, a well-respected website that features all things science fiction. Along with other BHC Press science fiction authors, I answered several interview questions centered around the current divisive political situation and how it could potentially affect speculative fiction. I also submitted a two minute video of myself reading an excerpt from The Andromeda’s Ghost.

It was nerve-wracking, recording myself as I read, realizing that the end result would be posted online for the whole world to see. I was equally anxious as I answered each question, fearing that I would offend someone. But the whole experience was extremely cool. It left me feeling like a pro. Plus, it was an opportunity to promote The Andromeda’s Ghost, for which I was very grateful. If any of you are interested in reading the interviews or watching the excerpt readings, click here to be redirected to the Fellowship of Fools website.

Aside from our interviews and excerpt readings, there are a lot of other cool things on the Fellowship of Fools website that anyone would be interested in. You’ll find interviews with producers and actors, articles concerning popular TV shows, movies, and books, as well as teaser trailers. Check it out!

On a completely different note: am I the only one who really hates the changes that have been done to WordPress recently? It took me three tries to get this post looking the way I wanted it to. There was nothing wrong with the other format! All right, I’m getting off the soapbox now…

2019 Recap

A lot of people send a Christmas letter to their family members with a summary of their year or a quick update on what they’re currently doing. While I did send out an adorable Christmas picture card of my husband, my baby, and myself, there was no summary attached. So, without further ado, here is my 2019 summary:

  • In February, my mother-in-law flew my husband and I, along with two of her other sons, to Seattle to visit their grandmother. It was my first time flying while pregnant and it went surprisingly well.
  • In April, I signed a contract with a new publisher (BHC Press) for my first science fiction/fantasy novel, The Andromeda’s Ghost. I also self-published my first book, the sequel to my young adult romance novel, titled I Dare You to Stay With Me.
  • In May, I gave birth prematurely to my son, Bennett Mordecai Fox.
  • In September, we said goodbye to my husband’s cat of fifteen years, Cowboy. May he rest in peace.
  • In October, my husband and I flew to Hawaii for his brother’s wedding. It was our first time traveling with a baby. Tears were shed. Lessons were learned. It was a beautiful wedding and I’m glad we were there.
  • In November, I wrote and “produced” my first novelette, A Favor for a Princess, a prequel of sorts for The Andromeda’s Ghost. This book is still available for free, by the way!
  • In December, a good friend of mine who moved to Oregon and now works as the librarian for a high school over there, added I Dare you to Love Me and I Dare You to Stay With Me to her shelves.
  • (I have to include January in this recap because two super exciting things happened this month as well.) BHC Press submitted The Andromeda’s Ghost into Publishers Weekly, along with several other upcoming titles of theirs, in the hopes that they would be featured in PW’s Spring 2020 Announcements page. And The Andromeda’s Ghost was featured under the SF, Fantasy & Horror Listings! Woot woot! Also, the manuscript my sister and I had been working on together for a little over a year, a young adult urban fantasy titled Death’s Curses, was completed this week. It will be sent off to beta readers within the next few days. Once we get their feedback, we’ll be applying necessary changes and then submitting it to BHC Press to be considered for publication. 

It’s been a fun, exhausting, and productive year. And this year promises to be similar. Things I’m looking forward to so far in 2020:

  • In February, I Dare You to Love Me will be participating in a library marketing campaign by New Shelves Books, a book sales and marketing company. My book, along with several others, will be featured in a catalog that will be sent to libraries across the country who are looking to add new books to their inventory.
  • In May, my husband and I will be celebrating our five year wedding anniversary by going on an Alaskan cruise. We’ll be leaving our son for a whole week! Of course, he’ll be a year old by then and he’ll be well taken care of by his grandmas but…I still have mixed feelings.
  • In July, The Andromeda’s Ghost will be published!

In the meantime, there’s lots of work to be done! On my writing schedule, I have the last book in The Andromeda Chronicles to finish, the last book in The Dare Trilogy to start, and a whole mess of plot issues to fix in the first book of my faerie series, tentatively titled The Sentinel’s Test. Not to mention there’s a novelette series that has been on the back burner since Asta and the Barbarians was published. So, yes, lots to do! I can’t wait to get started!

Hello, Peeta

Two blog posts ago, I shared the tragic loss of Bruce/Betsy (my husband’s white Mazda Ford pick up). For those of you who didn’t read that particular post, a red-light runner hit the truck on the driver’s side. My husband only sustained sever whiplash, thankfully, and the other driver was unharmed. But Bruce was totalled.

Anyway, it took three weeks for the policeman who was on the scene to file his report (which included testimonies from witnesses clearly stating that it was the other driver’s fault). It took four or five weeks for us to get an estimate of how much the truck was worth and how much the other driver’s insurance was willing to reimburse us for that rental car we had for two weeks. Even after we were sure we were going to get a certain amount for my husband’s truck, we still had to figure out what car we were going to by and from what kind of seller. This being our first big purchase (and by big I mean more than one thousand dollars), we knew we would need a loan and that the loan would come with a high insurance rate. My husband agonized over what to do for several days before he decided to play it safe and go with a dealership, Sanderson Ford to be exact. I have an uncle who works there, someone we were confident would get us the best possible deal, someone we knew we could trust.

(Not to say all car salesmen are tricksters; we just had a really bad experience with one two years ago when we almost bought a car from a Chevy dealership. That’s why we were so hesitant to go with a dealership this time.)

So my husband found a truck he liked that was reasonably priced, a used 2014 F150 with a crew cab and four wheel drive. He did a test drive with my uncle and loved it. My uncle said he could hold onto the truck for us for a little while, but we still didn’t know when those checks from insurance would come. As we drove home later that day, I said something like, “Should we check the mail? I know we just checked it yesterday and there’s probably nothing in there but…” My husband said it was worth a shot so we stopped by our mailbox. Out loud, as a joke, I prayed, “Jesus, it would be great if there was a check in that mailbox. If there isn’t, I’m sure we’ll be fine but it would still be REALLY great if there was.” And, praise God, both checks were in there! We turned the car around and went straight to the bank to deposit them. We went to Sanderson Ford the next morning. Two hours later, my husband drove his new truck home.

I know it looks red in the picture but its technically “sunset metallic” orange. I’m calling this new vehicular addition to our family Peeta, after Peeta Mellark. This mind-blowing blessing comes with a new payment every month and a spike in the amount we pay toward car insurance. But we’re still on cloud nine. We’ve been praying for this day since the accident happened back in October. God answered in a BIG way. We’re still humbled and in awe of His provision and His timing.

This year, as I’m looking back at everything my husband and I have been through individually and together, I’m calling 2018 the Year of Trust. We needed a new car, a dependable family car. We tried saving for it. Things happened that caused our car fund to slowly be depleted. Then the accident happened. I wouldn’t have thought to provide anyone with a car this way. But God did. Somehow, He knew this was the only way it could happen. Same with how our child came to be. Same with pretty much every aspect of our lives. Sometimes, in my darkest moments, I wonder why things happened the way that they did, why God couldn’t have made it a little easier. But that’s not for me to know, is it?

As I writer, I’ve put my characters through some pretty rough situations. They’ve experienced loss, heart-break, disappointment, injury, danger, and depression. But they always learn something in the end, maybe even become better people as a result. I’d like to think my husband and I are a little bit stronger now that this year is coming to an end, not only as a couple but as individuals. It wasn’t always fun, but I’m glad it happened.

Merry Christmas and happy New Year, readers. See you in 2019!

Sprucing up the house

There’s nothing like going to a friend’s house to make you realize how simple your home is.

Don’t get me wrong, I love our house. The living, sitting , kitchen, and dining rooms are open and spacious, perfect for hosting large groups of people. The bedrooms are larger than average. I love my master bedroom. The house was half furnished when we moved in and the rest of our furniture was given to us by friends who were moving at that time or by our parents. When we first decided to move out of our one-bedroom apartment and into a four bedroom house, I was worried that we wouldn’t be able to furnish it. But we were so blessed, so blown away by everybody’s generosity. I’m still amazed at God’s provision. That’s not what I mean by simple.

We’ve been living in our house for a year and two months, and our walls are still pretty bare. The primary reason for this is because the house isn’t ours. It’s a rental and we want to respect our grandparents by refraining from putting a bunch of holes in the walls. But, if I’m honest, I think that’s just an excuse for not trying harder. We haven’t given the house any fresh coats of paint or sanded down the cabinets and given them a nice varnish or gotten new curtains or anything. I don’t feel as if we’ve truly made this house our space. Our only attempts at personalization have been a few wedding photos and the Geek Mantle of Geekiness (featured below.)

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(You can’t tell because of the awful quality of this photo, but the horizontal frame is displaying Harry Potter stamps.)

Maybe it’s because we’ve hit the one year mark. Maybe it’s because I recently visited the homes of two very creative ladies who have expertly decorated their homes, with themes and impressive DIY crafts. Or maybe it’s because I’m growing up a little and I want the house we live in to emulate that. Either way, I’m willing to give it a shot. I’ve been on Pinterest for affordable ideas and I’ve found some DIY projects I’d like to try. I know some ladies who are very handy with canvas and wooden signs, and I’m sure I can hire them to make some cool verse/calligraphy wall art. We live right next door to Lowes and Michael’s is just down the street. I have everything I need to get started.

My only problem is I don’t have a theme or a vision for the interior of my house. I know I want to make it more sophisticated, add some more color, and a personal touch in every room. I’d love to play with stripes and patterns, flowers and nick-knacks in the corners, cool accent pieces and conversation starters. But I don’t want it to be random. There has to be a method to the madness or it’ll look messy and unprofessional. (I feel like I’m about to go on a home improvement show on HGTV or something with this grocery list of things I want for my “new look.”) So all that’s really left to do is research, research, research. Find articles with pictures of spaces I might want to try and then build upon that. Talk to my crafty and creative friends and family members. Look into yard and estate sales in the area for diamonds in the rough. With the end of school in sight, it’s the perfect time to start something new. Naturally, I’ll document my journey with all it’s fails and lessons.

It’s going to be a lot of work but it’ll be fun to transform our house. I can’t wait to get my hands dirty!

BBC’s Sherlock

All right, now that the series is over, I’ve been able to go back to Season One and watch it all the way through. I’ve had time to grieve and ponder the wonders of the show. And I have a few things to say about Sherlock.

  • I tip my hat to Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss. It was a fun ride of interesting cases, with four unforgettable villains, plenty of sweet bro moments, nail-biting incidents, and plenty of laughs. The cast was well thought out; the actors and actresses did an amazing job. I loved the development of the characters, Sherlock, Mycroft, and Molly especially. Sherlock went from an antisocial, arrogant, selfish genius who couldn’t tell the different between being honest and being a jerk to an extremely observant man with a heart. Mycroft, similarity, grew in his relationship with his brother. Although, we didn’t see them hugging toward the end or developing inside jokes like normal brothers, they started showing more affection toward each other in ways only a few socially challenged intellectuals could. By the end of the series, I think it’s safe to say there isn’t anything they wouldn’t do for each other. Molly Hooper was still a little awkward and shy, but she gained some respect for herself and developed a boldness with Sherlock toward the end that made me respect her more. Of course, John and Mary Watson were always adorable together. It was heartbreaking that she had to die, but the growth that it produced in John’s character almost made it worth it.

 

  • I’m SUPER bummed that it had to end. With so many mediocre shows going on to their tenth seasons when they shouldn’t have lasted two, it seems a real shame that a great show should end after only four seasons. Of course, I understand that the actors have gotten busy working for Hollywood and becoming a part of the Marvel Universe. I can understand wanting to quit while one is ahead. But still they could have left us with some hope that the story of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson would continue if/when the actors had the available time. There was so much left undiscovered with Irene Adler and her complicated relationship with Sherlock. It was revealed that she still texted and flirted with him from time to time, and that he texted her back against his better judgement. She was definitely not good for him, but he would have totally been good for her if they had ever tried to make it work. But, of course, it could have never worked because Molly was so perfect for him. The last episode had her finally confess her love for Sherlock through a test Euros was forcing her brother to go through, and Sherlock destroyed a coffin with his bear hands afterward because he realized how much he hurt his friend the mortician. I would have LOVED to see how they made up after that incident. I might just create two characters in a story who are similar to Molly and Sherlock, just so that I can give them a proper ending.

 

  • Now I want to read the books. I know that the creators of BBC’s Sherlock modernized the show to appeal to this new generation and the books of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle are set in…what, the 1800s? But I would love to compare the characters, the cases, and the villains to see just how accurate they were. Although, I think I can guess at the changes they made to Mary Watson’s character.

 

  • Euros was a stroke of genius. I’m sure everyone expected the Holmes family to have a third brother. Everyone was wondering about Redbeard and how it related to anything in the third season. Well, it didn’t relate to anything in the third season. The creators were just setting us up for the fourth season. I love it when people do that! It takes such planning, such foresight, to integrate clues like that into earlier works of literature or film. To the day, I’m still amazed at J.K. Rowling’s ability to take something small that she mentioned in the second book (Dobby, for example) and make it relevant right up until the last book. I find it hard to leave clues throughout a single book, much less seven! I still have much to learn about plot twists and important reveals it seems.

 

  • Despite the fact that all the secrets have been revealed, I’m pretty sure I could continue watching this show until the end of time. There are some shows that you can only watch all the way through, like, once or twice because there are certain eye-rolling parts or frustrating character choices or actor/actress changing or whatever. But there was nothing about this show that I would change, nothing that I wished would have happened differently, nothing truly cringe-worthy that could have gone more smoothly. That is so rare nowadays and for that, I repeat, I tip my hat to the creators of BBC’s Sherlock.

Adulting

The baby shower was going to start in twenty minutes and I didn’t have anything to wrap my present with. I had some tape, a bow, a lot of colored tissue paper, and a plethora of “Merry Christmas” gift bags, and that was pretty much it. I’d just been to the grocery store that morning and had remembered to snatch a card, but somehow I’d forgotten to get a gift bag. Fortunately, my sister-in-law (who was driving us both to this event) graciously offered to stop by the 99 cent store on the corner. I hopped out of the car, ran in, snatched the biggest baby gift bag I could find, and zipped into the check out line. Once outside, I stood at the curb and waited for my sister-in-law to come around the parking lot. I hurried up to her car when she was near enough, tucking a stray curl behind my ear.

That’s when I caught my reflection in the passenger’s side window.

I don’t see myself as an adult. I may be twenty-two years old but, physically, I’ve looked exactly the same since I was fifteen. I’ve had my own car, my own apartment, my own bills, and my own job ever since I was nineteen. I’ll be celebrating two years of marriage this May. I live in a four bedroom, two bathroom rental house with a husband, a very old, very fat tabby cat, and a hyperactive miniature Australian shepherd who can’t produce tears. (We still don’t know why. She was very sick with an unknown illness for the first six months of her life and we’re thinking all the different medications we had to give her might have damaged her tear-ducts somehow, but we can’t prove that. We should really get her to a dog eye specialist but we don’t have that kind of money, so we have to resort to giving her eye drops three to four times a day. Yes, we love this dog.) I plan meals and manage finances while balancing 30 hours a week at the office and 9 credit hours per semester.

I have goals for the future which involve finishing school, becoming a published, well-known author, and helping my husband the police officer raise our four kids. It all sounds very adultly, right? And yet, I still see myself as that fifteen-year-old girl who thought Twilight was the greatest love story ever told and didn’t know anything about the real world.

So when I looked into that car window and saw a young lady, all dolled up and ready to attend a baby shower, I blinked in surprise. Because, for a second there, I actually looked like an adult.

My husband believes we never really grow up. We might physically change and become more responsible as life demands, but that little kid lives on inside of us. Sometimes its voice is loud and its influence is strong, while at other times we can suppress it more successfully. With all the “adulting” memes out there, I think he might be right. I find that I feel the youngest when I’m geeking out about Star Wars or when I’m daydreaming about The Magical World of Harry Potter theme park or when I’m listening to the kind of emo music I used to listen to as a teenager or when I visit my old haunts in Mexico. That little kid inside me sure loves to throw a fit when the alarm goes off at 7 a.m. But then there’s the voice of reason, the voice of the Adult, reminding me of all the things I have to get done and how much work will pile up if I listen to the Kid and simply pull the covers over my head.

If I take a good look at the choices I’ve made throughout my life, I can honestly say that I’ve listened to the Adult more often than I’ve listened to the Kid. My husband often has to tell me when it’s time to relax or take a break or set the schedule aside and just hang out. Indulge the Kid. So why don’t I feel like an Adult more often?

Good question…

I think it’s because of the conviction that I don’t know anything. All right, that’s not entirely true. I’ve been in college for three years and have worked for three different establishments, and have read more books than I can count. After all that, I should know something, but every day I encounter new things. Every day it seems I come across an article, a person, a conversation heard in passing, or an event that reminds me of just how much I still have to learn about life, love, politics, insurance, government, taxes, credit, education, literature, creative writing, finance, morality, the Bible, my family members and friends, even my husband. There are still topics I don’t understand. There’s still stuff in this world that I haven’t discovered yet. It leaves me feeling like a child who’s still figuring it all out.

Sometimes I have to wonder: will I ever feel like an adult? Will I ever feel like I’ve got this life thing figured out? A part of me would like to have the answers to everything. It might make life simpler. But another part of me hopes that I won’t ever reach that point. Because what is someone supposed to do after they’ve discovered everything there is to know? Maybe that’s why it’s so important the keep that little kid around. After all, without it’s sense of wonder, humility, and discovery, how are we supposed to grow?