Archive for March 2016

Free Book – 1 Day Only   Leave a comment

Front Cover RedMirklin Wood will be FREE March 31 – one day only!

Posted March 31, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in book promotion

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Ira Edwards can’t slow down   Leave a comment

I tend to admire people who exhibit personal courage rather than people who are hailed as heroes. Thus, this gentleman caught my eye.

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Video: Ira Edwards can’t slow down

Tara Young

During a snowy day in February in South Anchorage, Ira Edwards uses a built-in crane to remove his wheelchair from the cab of his Chevy Silverado. The vehicle is hard to miss around town with its large Rossignol logo wrapping around the truck’s body. Edwards has come to Goldenview Middle School to run a ski waxing demo for the cross country team.

“Waxing is the least important thing about going fast. Waxing is behind your fitness, your technique, having properly fitted skis, having the right structure on your base,” Edwards says to a group of teenage skiers. “Wax is the last thing to help you guys go fast.”

Demos and lectures before young skiers are a few of Edwards’ many community outreach efforts. A Palmer native, Edwards is known within numerous circles for his many passions, including skiing, gardening, fishing, canning, home-brewing and coaching. Clearly, Edwards is the epitome of a Type A personality, and the 40-year-old says he needs two of him and 30 hours in the day to get all the things he does, done.

His output is prolific despite challenges few of us encounter. Edwards is paralyzed.

‘Pretty bummed out’

One November day in 2010, Edwards was cutting a tree as part of his work as an Alaska State Parks ranger. The tree fell the wrong way and hit him across his jaw and back.

“I knew right away … that I had broken my back. All of a sudden I couldn’t move or feel my feet,” Edwards says. Lying facedown in the snow at minus 10 degrees, stranded a mile back in the woods, Edwards and his crew had to wait more than an hour for EMT paramedics to arrive and transport him to the hospital. After a month in the intensive-care unit, Edwards was moved to Denver for rehabilitation. It was a long, slow recovery, but over the past five years Edwards was driven to get back to living fully again, which meant getting back to being exceptionally productive.

“I was pretty bummed out for a while,” he says. “Obviously, it’s a life-changing experience. And I know it’s horrible to say, but when I was in the hospital, there were a lot of people that were a lot worse off than me. … So no matter how bad I felt, someone had it worse, so I was very thankful for what I had left.”

Gardening, fishing, hunting, sewing, cooking

Edwards started snowboarding in junior high and got into skiing through the Palmer High School running program. He was a cross-country ski racer in high school and college, and after college in 1998 raced for Rossignol semiprofessionally.

Edwards has coached little kids, Junior Nordic and high school students since 1996. “Teaching people is fun, seeing the joy on other people’s faces,” says Edwards. In March he sat patiently in the stadium at Kincaid Park during a Ski 4 Kids event, with adaptive nordic gear he brought for the kids to try out. Edwards’ thinking is that if able-bodied youths try out sit-skis and understand that it’s just a different way to slide on the snow, they might encourage their disabled friends to give it a whirl.

Growing up in the Mat-Su, Edwards’ family didn’t have much money — but everyone was resourceful. Edwards participated in 4-H Club, gardening, and learned to fish and hunt. Other skills he acquired along the way included sewing, cooking and canning. I’ve “always lived that survivalist mentality,” he says.

Today, Edwards sees his spinal cord injury as a setback, not a game-changer. He remains full of enthusiasm for his many hobbies and invites friends along on his recreational pursuits.

“It was a huge change in my life both mentally and physically. I went through a pretty painful divorce after getting out of the hospital,” Edwards says. “But life is good again.” He’s maintained some childhood friendships, has made numerous new friends and has his trusty sidekick — an 11-year-old Chesapeake Bay retriever named Chase — by his side.

“Every year I get to do more and more things I used to do,” he said. “It’s just a matter of figuring out how to do them.”

Since his injury, Edwards has returned to Mount Alyeska, carving turns on his sit-ski and competing in races. He fishes the Kenai River from his boat and has taken up pressing homemade apple cider.

He has also become active doing community outreach, working with Challenge Alaska, the adaptive ski program at Alyeska, and his nonprofit “Team Gimp Squad,” which donates time and equipment to the Anchorage School District. Edwards visits with hospital patients who have recently become paraplegics to show them that not only does life goes on, it can be fun and fulfilling. His motivational talks on the positive power of sport in overcoming adversity can be an inspiration.

His latest project? RoosterSkier Brand Beard and Mustache Products — homemade hair-care products made with recipes he has cultivated over the past decade using Alaska-sourced ingredients. All RoosterSkier profits go to Team Gimp Squad to help other paraplegics get back to living active, healthy lives.

Tara Young is an Alaska Dispatch News video journalist.

 

 

Interview with Katy Huth Jones   10 comments

 

 

Katy Huth Jones author picToday’s interview is with Katy Huth Jones. Welcome to the blog. Tell us something about yourself.

I grew up an Army brat in a creative family, and being a painfully shy child, books were my best friends during our frequent moves. I dropped out of college and married my husband Keith 37 years ago, planning to finish “some day” but ended up being “self-taught” after homeschooling our two sons and hundreds of others for twenty-five years. Now we have three precious grandbabies, live in the beautiful Texas Hill Country, and I play piccolo and flute in a quality regional symphony.

 

You probably have a better education that 90% of the people coming out of college. At what point did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Although I’d been writing stories since I was eight, I made a conscious decision to “be a writer” at age 28 when I had a four-year-old son, six-year-old foster daughter, and a foster infant on a heart monitor. I wanted to do something “grown up” and since my head was usually full of story ideas, I thought it would be a simple thing to write and sell science fiction stories to magazines. It took seven years and more than 600 rejection letters before I finally sold my first story—a fantasy.

 

Oh, my … 600!?  You’re way tougher than I would be. What is your favorite genre … to read … to write?

My favorite genre to read and write is Christian fantasy.

 

Katy Books top row

 

What is something you cannot live without?

My Savior, and my Bible.

 

What sort of research do you do for your novels?

Research is one of my favorite parts about writing. I learned while writing magazine articles and my one nonfiction book how vitally important accurate details are, even to a work of fiction. A reader can’t “suspend disbelief” if he or she is jarred out of the story by an improbable detail or situation. I read books, but also look for as many hands-on opportunities as possible. To write scenes of jousting, I attended jousts at a Renaissance festival and Medieval Times in Dallas. I bought a replica of a 13th century sword to get a feel for its weight and maneuverability. I’ve made (and bought) historical costumes so I can understand how it feels to wear clothing that you can’t put on or take off without the help of a maid or squire. You feel trapped!

 

Katy and harp.jpgIf someone who hasn’t read any of your novels asked you to describe your writing, what would you say?

I only realized this a few months ago, but all of my fiction written since I’ve had cancer has a similar theme: Finding hope and light in dark places.

 

Are you a plot driven or character driven writer? Why?

Totally character-driven. My stories always begin with a character who is wandering around inside my head. If I start asking him or her questions, pretty soon I begin to understand who this person is, with dreams and fears. Then I ask, “What’s your story?” It took me many years to learn this, however. When I first started trying to write sci fi, it was plot-driven and never worked, because I was forcing 2-D cut-out characters into a plot instead of taking the time to get to know the characters and let the stories flow from who they were and the choices they would naturally make.

 

You’ve got them in your head too? Good to know. This is my Alaska question because I live here. I’m going to drop you in a remote Alaska cabin for a month. It’s summer so you don’t have 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?

I’ll bring my camera, zoom lens, and tripod, because I’m sure there will be amazing birds and animals to capture. I’ll bring at least ten spiral notebooks to write in, because I prefer writing first drafts by hand. My brain is connected to the pen or pencil, not the keyboard. As for books, I’ll bring my Bible and possibly a field guide to Alaskan wildlife, but no fiction in which to immerse myself, because I’d rather fully experience the beauties of nature in a remote place like that!

 

Katy Butterfly ladyNice. Talk about your books individually.

Since my writing can be divided into B.C. (before cancer first struck in 2005) and A.C. (after cancer), I’ll just talk about what I’ve published A.C. That other writing life seems like it belongs to someone else!

I wrote a MG fantasy allegory of the cancer experience called Leandra’s Enchanted Flute, which was published by Cool Well Press in 2012. It’s the story of a 14 year old flute player with cancer who is taken to a fantasy world by a talking Carolina wren because he believes she has the courage necessary to save them from a growing world-wide “canker.” Although not specifically Christian, it still carries that theme of hope and light in dark places. CWP asked if I would write a sequel, which they published in 2013, Return to Finian Jahndra. Within a month, CWP went out of business. I got my rights back and re-issued them under Quinlan Creek Press (our homeschool was Quinlan Creek Academy) in 2014. This was my first experience with self-publishing.

Another story I tried to write in 1988-1989 was a fantasy novel about a reluctant warrior prince and a pacifist Healer. Even after two rewrites, it didn’t work, so I stuck it in a drawer and went on to actual money-making writing projects, such as children’s books and writing for magazines, both fiction and nonfiction.

Then in early 2011, my father was diagnosed with lung cancer, and to distract me in my grief while helping my Mom (he wanted to die at home, and it took him eleven months because he fought so ferociously), I pulled out the old fantasy manuscript, threw away everything but the opening battle scene, and as a “writing assignment” asked the characters to tell me their story. The words poured out, day by day. It was therapeutic, but also exhilarating. I actually came to know these people, and the story completely changed because it grew out of who they were, not an improbable plot I had thrust upon them.

Once I reached chapter 70-something, I realized this was going to be more than one book. Soon it became apparent it would take five books to tell the entire epic story. My critique group (all trad published authors) read the first one, Mercy’s Prince, and encouraged me to find an agent. I knew that Christian fantasy would be a hard sell, but to humor them I sent out queries, even though I had already paid a content editor and proofreader, planning to self-publish the first book in September 2015, once I was closer to finishing the series.

Then the first of June 2015, my cancer came back unexpectedly and with excruciating pain. My husband and I both expected to hear that it was stage 4 and nothing to be done. I wrote my obit, we went to visit our children (and I ended up in the ER in Kansas City because the pain spiked). I decided to move up the publication date for Mercy’s Prince, since all it needed was a cover, and it would be my “good-bye” for family and friends.  I managed to publish it the first of July 2015, just before chemo started. And since the lymphoma was “only” stage 3, chemo put it back in remission, praise God!

Unfortunately, due to chemo brain I couldn’t concentrate on writing. I had book 2, Mercy’s Gift, edited and proofed, with a lovely cover by Perry Elisabeth, and it was published in September 2015. I was about 80% finished with book 3, but I was scared I would lose the rest of the story.

I signed up for NaNoWriMo last November in order to bring my brain back online after chemo. I managed to finish book 3, Mercy’s Battle, and get a good start on book 4, Mercy’s King. These are long books, each between 125,000 and 139,000 words! Lord willing, and the cancer stays away for a while, I hope to finish the series in 2016.

 

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

I hope that anyone who reads my books realizes that trials and upheavals happen to everyone, even faithful children of God, but through faith there is always hope and light to be found in Him.

 

What influenced your decision to self-publish? If you have experience with both traditional and indie publishing, compare the two.

I never intended to self-publish, since I’d been traditionally published beginning in 1992. But being traditionally published is no guarantee of sales. In fact, the marketing director for my latest trad published book expects me to do what I’m doing for my self-pubbed books, only I have no control over prices, cover, and blurb. It’s a YA historical novel entitled Treachery and Truth, which tells the true story of “Good King Wenceslas.”

 

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

The greatest advantage is being in charge of all the details and having the ability to “think outside the box.” The worst advantage, for me, is being in charge of all the details. I just can’t think as well as I could before having chemo twice and it takes me a long time to learn technical things.

 

Conversely, what do you think self-published authors might be missing out on?

Honestly, the only thing is that great satisfaction when, after pursuing the craft for years and collecting hundreds of rejections, you finally get an acceptance by a well-known magazine or publisher. It’s a validation of all your hard work.

 

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?

Definitely! It’s possible because we’ve invested our heart and soul in this “baby” and want it to be the best it can be. It’s much more difficult without hiring extra sets of eyes to edit and proofread your manuscript. A good editor is worth his/her weight in gold.

 

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

Yes, because it’s who I am as a child of God. I can’t separate that from my writing.

 

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

Making sure the story honors God. The temptation is always there to “add stuff” to make the book sell more copies.

 

 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?

There are lines I will not cross, not in my Christian life, and not in my stories. No profanity, no immorality glorified or justified, and though there is violence in my stories (since I write about the Dark Ages and medieval times) I try to make sure it’s not there to “shock” but only what is necessary to tell the story. The Bible contains a lot of violence, but it’s not “in your face,” so I try to let that be my guide. Potential readers should be warned that they will find blood and battle injuries in my stories.

 

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

 

If you mean, are Christian writers held to a higher standard, then I agree. I hold myself to the high standard that Christ demonstrated for us.

 

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

I personally don’t “preach the gospel” in my stories. I try to show the characters living it through their words and deeds. My goal is to reach those who aren’t Christians, those who are struggling with darkness in their own lives. I honestly don’t know how people get through traumas such as cancer without faith in God.

 

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

There is a small but fervent market for Christian speculative fiction. Many Christian readers won’t read anything that is considered fantasy or science fiction, which I learned long ago in my early homeschooling days. I just keep trying to find the few readers who are looking for Christian speculative fiction. I know they’re out there!

 

Where do readers find you?

Blog: www.katyhuthjones.blogspot.com

Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/Katy-Huth-Jones/e/B00700A4DQ

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KatyHuthJones

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Katy-Huth-Jones-Author-318819684805145/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2914315.Katy_Huth_Jones

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/piccolokate/

 

Stay Tuned for Writing Wednesday   Leave a comment

I’m interviewing Christian speculative author Katy Huth Jones today.

Posted March 30, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized, writing wednesdays

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Socialism Security   Leave a comment

A Primer on Socialism Security

Note: This is an excerpt from Progressivism: A Primer on the Idea Destroying America(2014).

Like government schools, Social Security is a failed program that nevertheless remains popular with the American people.  Why?  Keep in mind that progressivism is not a rational system of thought but a means to make progressives feel better about themselves and provide a (false) sense of control over a big, complex and often hostile world.  As such, the mindset necessarily excludes any notion that progressive programs might fail or might cost too much which, in the case of Social Security, is a critical issue.  If progressivism was sensitive to its own failures, it would not be what it is and would not serve the purposes that make it so popular.  If a program needs more resources, then, since progressives have no theory of costs or awareness that all resources are scarce, the progressive will merely propose spending more money as has been done with Social Security, at least, twenty times.  At no time when higher Social Security taxes were proposed to save the program from insolvency, did progressives ask themselves, is this program worth the increased costs?  Should we liquidate the program instead of continually increasing costs?  Where are those additional resources coming from?  How were those resources being used before they were taxed away?  What harm will be done to persons and to their projects and to the overall economy by seizing those resources from where they are being used and applying them to save an insolvent program, the campaign promise of a dead and depraved politician, FDR?[1]

Source: Socialism Security

Pascha   Leave a comment

aurorawatcherak

This week’s blog hop topic is, appropriately, Easter.

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Growing up in the very secular state of Alaska in an unchurched family, I don’t have a lot of family traditions associated with Easter. So when I look at Easter it is from an adult’s perspective. My husband was raised in a Catholic home (Boston Irish Catholic), so he came with traditions that changed when he became a born-again Christian. Not too surprisingly, we have had to examine Easter (and other church holidays) in light of our salvation.

Contrary to popular belief, the Emperor Constantine did not have a whole lot to do with Easter. There was a 19th century book Two Babylons: Papal Worship Proved to be the Worship of Nimrod and his Wife by a virulent anti-Catholic by the name of Bishop…

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Posted March 28, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Is the GOP Slitting Its Wrists?   Leave a comment

STILL not a Trump supporter, but I am starting to get what they’re thinking. Nobody who wins this election, the country is going to go through some hard times. Trump’s ascendencies is a sign that the GOP is about to either remake itself or divide into two parties. That’s a good thing. The more viable choices voters have going to the polls, the better. But it won’t happen this election cycle. It took a long time to get this sick and the cure is going to take at least a few years more. Lela

 

Suicide of the GOP — or Rebirth?

“If his poll numbers hold, Trump will be there six months from now when the Sweet 16 is cut to the Final Four, and he will likely be in the finals.”

My prediction, in July of 2015, looks pretty good right now.

Herewith, a second prediction. Republican wailing over his prospective nomination aside, Donald Trump could beat Hillary Clinton like a drum in November.

Source: Is the GOP Slitting Its Wrists?

Posted March 28, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

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