Archive for June 2015

Interview with CL Wells   7 comments

Today’s interview is with debut novelist, CL Wells. Welcome to the blog.

Thanks so much for having me, Lela!

Tell us something about yourself.

Well, I was born in raised in Kansas, but I don’t plan on spending the rest of my life here. As soon as I can, I will try to move far, far, far away from winter.

For the last ten years I’ve worked in Finance at a major corporation. While I’m grateful for my job… because it does pay the bills… and for food, which is important, and publishing, which is really important, I always say real life starts once I’m walking out the door at the end of the workday.

We only have four legged children and they’re both older than us in their respective fur-years. We have a senior doggie that is around 13 or 14 and our cat is 17. I’ll stop there otherwise I will talk about them forever.

We have two dogs (one who is quite geriatric) and we’ve had lots of cats (just not now). At what point did you know you wanted to be a writer?

My first real memory of enjoying the writing process was in grade school. We’d been learning about the science of the weather and our assignment was to write a weather report. Our teacher said we could pick any location. So, I chose Mars and my meteorologist was abducted by aliens midway through his report. Figured it was okay since she didn’t specify the location had to be on this planet. I got an A and note in red from the teacher telling me how creative I was! It felt good.

I rocked out some fun papers in college and I blogged for a year or so, but until I started this project … I guess I didn’t take myself seriously.

Tell us about your writing process.

So far, I’m a pantser. For Memoirs of a Girl Who Loves God, I just started writing. I was inspired by someone close to me and the story just came to me. But when you’re writing, you think about your characters all the time. So in my head, I knew where I was taking the story.  I just didn’t know how I was going to get there until I was at my computer – actively writing.

I tried to do an outline for my current WIP, but so far it’s not working for me. I have to just think it out and write it.

I totally understand. What is your favorite genre … to read … to write?

My favorite genre  to write is Faith & Spirituality. But, I love to read all kinds of books. I love YA Fiction, Faith Fiction, Historical, Romance every now and again, Suspense, Thrillers …

What are you passionate about?

Animals-I will be any animal’s advocate. One day I hope to open an animal shelter

If you lived here in Alaska, you could become a dog musher. What is something you cannot live without?

God first. My family. Then air, water, food… those are important too. J

I like the order. When you are not writing, what do you do?

Publishing. Seriously, getting this book out has consumed my life. It’s a lot of work. There are so many steps, but God has made sure I could handle it all. I’ve met some amazing people. My editors, formatter, cover people, bloggers, and the WEBSITE. Oh my goodness, God sent me help for my website. I almost threw my laptop out the window trying to deal with that. I’m okay now though, lol.

Where do you get the inspiration for your novels?

Memoirs is my first, but I always go back to God on this. As writers, we all draw from our life experiences. Once you need to write something else in, it’s time for research.

What sort of research do you do for your novels?

All kinds. Sometimes you just need Google. But for Memoirs, I visited our local homeless shelter and took a tour. I spoke with and interviewed soldiers and asked a million questions. It’s important to ensure what is being written is reflective of real life. This isn’t a fantasy book so if someone who has self-harmed picked it up or a soldier who was in Desert Storm, I want them to relate.  Now each person’s individual experience will vary… For instance, one of the soldiers I spoke with who was in Desert Storm was in a troop who was right in all the action. Their access to water was limited. Another soldier whose troop wasn’t in the thick of the action said they had plenty of water. So much of it, in fact, that they were building houses with the bottles when they were bored.

Do you have a special place where you write?

Not yet. I desperately want a special place to write. Right now, our home is very small and though it’s just the two of us with our pets, we need more room.

Do you write from an outline or are you a discovery writer?  Why?

More discovery in the details. With Memoirs, I knew where I was going, but needed the ‘discovery’ aspect to get there.

Do you head-hop?

I do. It was out of control for a minute, but my super-duper content editor whipped me into shape. So now I do it, but appropriately. No Dramamine needed.

I’m going to drop you in a remote Alaska cabin for a month. It’s summer so you don’t have to worry about freezing to death. I’ll supply the food and the mosquito spray. What do you do while you’re there and what do you bring with you? If you’re bringing books, what are they?

Oh, this is easy. I will explore, of course. It’s a must to be aware of your surroundings. But I would take that time to write. I would love to have a whole month to myself with no other obligations… such a dream. I would probably stick to reading before bed. That’s how I get my reading time in now. I would take some of my favourite movies for down time. But I bet I could write an entire book in a month under those circumstances.

Talk about your book.

Memoirs of a Girl Who Loves God took me two years to write because of… well, life. My inspiration for the story was based on someone very close to me. She was very open and honest about her experiences and I drew all I could from her.

Was it your intention to write a story with a message or a moral?

I didn’t think of it that way in the beginning. Not in a literal sense. I never said, ‘I’m going to write this to give hope to those who have self-harmed or…’  But my moral in life… real-life, is all about showing God’s love. So if I decide to write a book, I certainly want God’s love built-in.

What do you want readers to think or feel after reading one of your books?

I want people to read it and have a new or renewed sense of how much God loves them. My characters are not far fetched. They’re out there. They exist in someone and when we are looking for them, we’ll find them.

What influenced your decision to self-publish?

Research. I did a ton of research and reading. I’m still so new that there are some things I can’t make heads or tails of. But it appears that traditional publishers don’t operate the way they used to. The market has changed drastically with ebooks and self-publishing so publishers have been forced to change with it. I wasn’t sure I wanted to invest another couple of years in finding an agent and then publisher. I’m a pretty good people person and as for marketing, I will try a hundred things that don’t work to find the one thing that does. So in the end I decided to self-publish and I think I’m glad I did.

There are people who believe that traditional publishing is on the ropes, that self-publishing is the future. Do you agree? Why?

I can see why people say that. While self-publishing has put a huge dent in the market, I still think traditional publishers have their place. Who doesn’t want to be signed by a ‘big dog’ and get an advance… have someone else take care of all your editing needs and pour money into promoting you?

What do you find to be the greatest advantage of self-publishing?

Having 100% control over your own success or failure. That can be good and bad. You have to be a go-getter. You can’t just write it and put any humdrum cover on it and hope people are going to buy it. You have to take it seriously, make it the best it can be, and then market forever. If you don’t plan market your own book, you may want to consider trying the traditional way.

What do you think self-published authors might be missing out on?

Less stress. Don’t get me wrong; I know that authors who are signed with traditional publishers have their own stress. Deadlines for one thing. But! A traditional publisher handles a lot of expenses and if you received a decent advance, you’re not working a 9-to-5. That alone is a dreamy thought.

As a self-published author who also works a day job, you won’t get an argument from me. With the number of self-published books increasing by such a huge rate, it is really difficult for authors to make their books stand out. How do you go about this?

Yes. I’ll do it anyway. I will try those hundred things. As long as I’m trying I know God will open the right doors at the right time.

Who designed your book cover/s?

A lot of people, lol. I took the photo for it and commissioned Zei Llamas to create the cover. Much of the idea for design came from my spouse. He’s quite creative in ways I’m not and I’m so glad. Zei really brought the ideas to life. Victorine Lieske gave the title/font a facelift and Carey Bradshaw polished it until it shined.

 

 

Do you believe that self-published authors can produce books as high-quality as the traditional published? If so, how do you think we should go about that?

 

Absolutely. It’s harder for us, but it’s important to do it right. If you’re writing anything you ever plan or hope to have published then you need to network. It’s time consuming but it’s a must. You have to make connections and meet people who know all the things you don’t. Find groups on Facebook to be a part of and get on twitter and meet people. Talk to them. Make real friends. You never know what can come from it. I’m in a group on Facebook called Clean Indie Reads (CIR) and they are the best! I can’t rave about them enough. I wouldn’t be this far without the folks I’ve met in that one group.

 

 

Do you write specifically for a Christian audience? Why or why not?

 

No, definitely not. I write what I love and I happen to love God so that will come through.

 

What are some of the special challenges of being a Christian writer?

There’s no special challenge for me. I’ve never looked at it like that. I don’t write to appease any group of people. I love God, but I’m not into religious titles. I don’t mean that sound rude, but I want to be real. I don’t hide the fact I love God but at the same time, mainstream Christianity isn’t something I cater to.

 

 

We’re in total agreement on that subject. Christians are told to be “in the world, but not of it.” As a Christian writer, how do you write to conform to that scripture?

 

Anyone who really loves God and is working on his or her relationship with God is already on the right path. You will be set apart by being real and loving and kind.

 

 

Do you feel that Christian writers are expected to conform to some standards that are perhaps not realistic to the world?

 

Yes, probably so. But we have to push against that. I’m not writing to be in a Christian writing club of some sort. If you can’t be real about what you write and what you believe, then you shouldn’t bother.

 

 

Do you feel that Christian writers should focus on writing really great stories or on presenting the gospel clearly in everything they write? Or is it possible to do both?

I think if a writer is a Christian, they should write like any other writer. They should listen to their heart and focus on their craft and write amazing stories. If you write a story and you’re focused on external expectations, then you’re writing will not be true to you.

 

If you write speculative fiction, do you find that the Christian reader community is accepting of that genre?

I haven’t written it, but I’m not saying I never will.

Some will be accepting and some won’t. But who cares? The only one you’ll ever have to really answer to is God. Mainstream Christianity has got to stop finding ways to point fingers. If all believers would just focus on God, we’d be so much better off. If someone writes something I don’t like, I don’t read it. It’s that simple.

 

Where can readers find you and your books?

http://www.amazon.com/Memoirs-Girl-Who-Loves-God-ebook/dp/B0100W0G7O/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1434749113&sr=1-1&keywords=Memoirs+of+a+Girl+Who+Loves+God

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/552520

Fourteen-year-old Krystal finds herself flailing when her parents separate. Unable to cope, she begins cutting. No one knows.

At her new school, she makes one single friend, Em, who invites her to volunteer at the local homeless shelter. There, Krystal discovers fellow misfits, including Brandon, a boy from her school. How can Krystal start a new life when the scars of her old one will never fully heal?

What readers are saying about “Memoirs of a Girl Who Loves God”

“This is a heartwarming story that was written from the heart. It brought real meaning to me––of some things in life––that never made sense before. It made me smile, and also brought tears to my eyes. This is a must read. I wasn’t able to put it down once I started.”

“A compelling story that will have readers touched and unable to put it down. I’ve read it more than once and each and every time it brings tears to my eyes.”

“WOW!  It is not an easy book to read, but it is a powerful book. Heartbreaking, heartwarming, challenging and uplifting.”

Connect with C.L. Wells

Facebook – facebook.com/Author.CLWELLS

Twitter – twitter.com/clwellsauthor

Website – theclwells.com

Blog – http://theclwells.com/ramblings

Newsletter – http://theclwells.com/newsletter

e-Mail – clwells.author@gmail.com

Additional contact information for C.L. Wells

Stay Tuned for Writer Wednesday   Leave a comment

This week’s interview is with CL Wells, debut novelist of the brand new book Memoirs of a Girl Who Loved God.

Posted June 24, 2015 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

The Harvard Classics: A List of White Hair Creating Books   Leave a comment

How many have you read?

Posted June 23, 2015 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Simplistic Thinking about Mass Shootings   4 comments

Perhaps it is human nature to blame something other than ourselves for the events we see in the world. The South Carolina church shooting shows that tendency in full view.

  • Guns caused the shooting. Their very existence demands that they be used for the mass killing of folks.

Do we really believe that? Certainly our president and some pundits say they believe that, but isn’t that the equivalent of saying “the devil made me do it?” I’ve been around guns my whole life. It’s stupid to go into the woods where there are bears, wolves and moose without a firearm. I shot a 22 when I was 7. I first handled my mom’s 357 when I was in junior high right after three soon-to-be rapists tried to break into our house and Mom (all 95 pounds of her) scared them away.

My guns have never whispered to me that I should go out and shoot up a church, a movie theater, a shopping center. Guns are inanimate objects. If there’s any whispering going on, it’s coming from the mind of the shooter, not the guns. Guns are simply a tool for keeping users safe. Make them illegal and it leaves law-abiding citizens at the mercy of law-breakers, because law-breakers won’t be obeying the gun laws.

  • Racism caused the shooting.

There may be some validity to this argument in the case of this particular church. It was a historically black church and the shooter seems to have had some racist beliefs. He was also high on drugs and may have been mentally ill. So is that racism or mental illness or some other problem not yet identified. The shooter spent an hour in that church during Bible study before he opened fire. If it were my church, I’d be asking “What happened during that hour that escalated rather than de-escalated his violence?” Maybe it was nothing. Maybe he was just bent on killing people and it took him an hour to get the courage, but … as I said, if it were MY church …. Is it possible they weren’t very welcoming to the weird white guy in their haven for the dark-skinned? If you think that’s a racist question, note the number of fingers pointing back at yourself before you pop off.

  • Mental illness caused the shooting. Lock up all mentally ill or make it illegal for them to have guns and all will be better.

I worked in the mental health field for 15 years. I’ve met some mentally ill people who would mow down a church group because the voices in their heads told them to do it. Not the gun, not racism — mental illness. But I’ve also met mentally ill folks who would never hurt anyone (except maybe themselves) and others who stay on their meds because they don’t want to ever hurt anyone else. Delusional disorders are not all the same and it’s wrong to treat some folks like criminals because they are ill.

  • Churches are at fault.

I actually heard this from an atheist neighbor this weekend. If churches weren’t these monolithic structures that judge people, he said, they wouldn’t become targets for crazy people. Do away with all churches and people would be free to love one another and violence would be reduced immeasurably. Wow, you just can’t make that up.

All of those simple causes are probably partially at fault. Churches ought to be more welcoming to those who are odd. Yes, that puts them more at risk. Jesus never said being His followers would be safe. There is a lovely man who occasionally comes through our church. We call him John the Baptist and I can’t say his real name because I signed agreements years ago. He is a Christian who is also bat-crazy with schizophrenia. Often when you talk to him, it’s like reading Alice in Wonderland on acid, but he also cuts right to the truth of the gospel in a way that sane people rarely do. He knows his Bible and his application is spot on. And (some people find this creepy), he seems to know things about you that he shouldn’t know, but he uses that knowledge to help the Christians he meets. I wonder if he’s not talking to angels, who are the demons who chose to obey God. Yeah, I worked in the mental health field for 15 years and I believe in demons. That’s another topic. Churches should be more welcoming to people who are not stereotypically “church” people.

Mental illness is a tough nut to crack. Europe and other nations handle it by doing what we used to do — locking folks up and forcing them to take their meds. There is a growing movement in this country by mental health advocates to never force anyone to take medication against their will. Did you know that? Yeah! So maybe there’s more to these mass shootings than just undiagnosed mental illness. But maybe in a country that prides itself on individual liberty, we really don’t have a right to force others to be medicated against their will. There are some folks who think we should treat mental illness like a crime. I don’t, but I also acknowledge that some people won’t stay on their meds and they aren’t John the Baptist motivated by God’s spirit to share the gospel. Some of them are scary scary people and we need to have a discussion about what to do with that. Currently, if you call for help because you think someone might be developing schizophrenia and about to harm someone, you have to show that they really are an imminent risk to themselves or others. In essence, they have to mow down a church group before the police will act.

Notice that I’m sitting on the fence with this because I’m an individualist who has experience with both good people who are mentally ill and scary people who are mentally ill. I’m not sure what the answer is here and I suspect there is no “good” solution.

Racism is a swinging door. The first time I ever saw racism directed at me was not because I’m an American Indian and white folks don’t like Indians. It was a black man who had decided I was white and he didn’t want me in his shop. Racism doesn’t have a color. A traditionally ethnic church of any stripe might think its meeting separately because that’s how white folks want it, but in reality, in this day and age, they are meeting separately because they feel most comfortable with that. Guaranteed, if a group of any ethnicity showed up at 90% of traditionally white churches, nobody would turn them away and most might not even notice the color of your skin. Racism and reverse racism are not excuses for mowing down a church group, but it is certainly something churches need to consider. And, not just churches. Society as a whole exhibits this problem. When you’re pointing a finger at someone else as a racist, pay attention to how many fingers are pointing back at you.

Guns do not kill anyone by themselves. They are simply a tool. If we didn’t have guns, mentally ill people and racists would find other ways to kill people. Knives, gasoline bombs, cars, baseball bats, bow-and-arrow, hammers …. As a small woman, I’m not going to go mana a mana with a man swinging a baseball bat or wielding a knife. With a gun, I become his equal and therefore, equally able to protect myself and those around me. If you disarm me, you relegate me to the role of victim, leading to my death.

I know we don’t want to hear this. We want simple causes and simple solutions, but we don’t have those and until we accept that the issues are more complicated than we want to believe, we can’t hope to solve the problems.

Being Asked to Conceal Carry at Church   5 comments

A friend called this morning and asked if I would be willing to talk to the ladies of her church about concealed carry. Rose explained that her church gathered yesterday in the wake of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church shooting to discuss security. They agreed they didn’t want uniformed security guards at the doors. That’s pretty off-putting to members and visitors alike and the uniforms make a great target. They decided that they preferred members to conceal carry, but the discussion revealed that their congregation does not have a culture of that. Many of the members carry guns for hunting, but they just aren’t into going forth armed.

Rose knows I conceal carry occasionally. I’ve taken concealed carry courses. Though Alaska does not require a permit for CC and I have chosen not to end up on a federal list, I wanted the skills offered by a professional instructor. Rose hoped I would come to her church and encourage other women to take the courses and start carrying at church.

I haven’t carried at church since we changed churches about four years ago. Our old church was right next to a community drunk housing project and in a neighborhood with a high drug population, so CC seemed like a good idea and church members regularly carried. Our new-ish church is in a better location and we have a couple of former soldiers who act as entry monitors who I assume are CC, so I haven’t felt the need, but the events in South Carolina has given me pause.

That guy was in a Bible Study for an hour before he opened fire on the people he had been interacting with. What would I have done in that situation? I’ve never drawn my gun on another human being, but my mom did once to keep rapists out of our house (I’ve discussed that on this blog before). Nobody can be sure how they will react when the fecal matter hits the fan, but I have trained for it, so I suspect I’d unload my clip into the shooter.

Would that save some lives? Yeah. We know it has in the past.

For the record, although I haven’t carried in church for several years, I regularly carry at the movie theater and certain community events. I am a small woman, so actual concealed carry is not always an option, but I want to share something that occurred last summer in a second blog post.

Posted June 20, 2015 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Free for 2 More Days   Leave a comment

Willow Branch Blue White Recreation CoverThe Willow Branch is FREE on Amazon through Monday.

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Alaska is NOT on fire!   1 comment

Apparently that is what CNN and Huffington Post is telling people.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/16/alaska-wildfires_n_7592194.html

Of course, it’s all caused by global warming and the sky is falling, so be afraid, be very afraid!

My mother-in-law even saw fit to call us from Hawaii because she was “afraid” for us.

REALITY CHECK!

This is actually a small fire season for Alaska in terms of acreage in flame.

Black spruce trees, which account for the majority of our forests, are essentially oil lanterns waiting for a spark — from lightning, a chain saw or a carelessly tossed cigarette butt — to set them aflame. They actually need fire to open their cones so they can propagate.

For 70 years, Alaska (like everywhere else in the country) fought fires quickly so as to save Smoky Bear. Alaska’s forests began being munched by bugs about 35 years ago and the foresters began to reconsider the wisdom of preventing all forest fires. The problem is that there is a lot of fuel out there in the forests that needs to be cleaned out, but there is no way Alaskas can log it all, so lightning sets off a fire and WHOOSH millions of acres go up in flames. The Wolf Creek-Boundary fires about 10 years ago covered 2 million acres and actually took two summers to bring under control; it just smoldered under the snow all winter.

This year the acreage is much smaller, but it just happens to be near structures and — as we informed Nora the other day — the big fires are nowhere near Fairbanks. There’s 300 miles and the Alaska Range between us and the Sockeye fire.

Which is not to say the Interior around Fairbanks doesn’t have a few fires — but nothing unusual and we’re dealing with them.

This is the art of living sensibly. Don’t panic over things that aren’t panic-worthy.

*Image courtesy Alaska Dispatch News.

Posted June 19, 2015 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

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