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What If Wasn’t   10 comments

We are writers. This is our time to shine. What are some of your favorite lines from your books?

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You can tell which lines of my books that I am the most proud of because they tend to become the titles of books.

Objects in View comes from a line in the third book of Transformation Project in which nonagenarian Jacob Delaney (the wisdom in the series) tells his offspring that they should “focus on the objects in view.” They could waste a lot of time and energy worrying about distant events they couldn’t control or deal with what was going on right in front of them. 

From The Willow Branch (Book 1 of Daermad Cycle)

“Fate took Maryn ap Trevellyn, crown prince of all Celdrya, by surprise. Naught warned him that he’d been marked.”

“It must be nearing middle of the night, for a moon hung like a golden banqueting plate just above the southern trees and the cool air scented more of dew than spring flowers.”

“Death took him by surprise as he looked down at the two feet of dressed wood protruding from his chest. He couldn’t feel his legs, but he knew that he was staked to the tree like a squirrel.

“I’m done for! I thought death would be more painful.

“Pedyr bellowed for aid and the camp came alive as Maryn died, staring up at the moon with his life leaking away into the dirt by his feet and wondering why the shaft that killed him was the only one to fly.”

“Inside the door to the great hall, Deryk paused to shake water from his cloak, decided it was a lost cause and hung the sodden mess on one of the many waiting pegs among the myriad damp cloaks, quite a few of them plaid, but a notable number also striped. The merchants thought there‘d be war and war was usually good for them, so they loitered about the dun to be the first to know, the first to get in at the trough. Merchants cared little that war meant death. They cared only for profits.”

“The noble-born often show little care for those who fill their bellies and cellars,”

From Mirklin Wood (Book 2 of Daermad Cycle)

It did remind him somewhat of the statues he’d seen of dragons, but that was a bard’s fancy and those did not fly to your rescue that often.

Erik didn’t like how the jals stroked their beards and held their piss while he talked. He couldn’t invade the southern continent without their viks and their silence made him feel like he’d stepped on an ant hill. When his speech ran to a close, he waited for comment, questions, or arguments. He had prepared for those. Samling was all about debate. Silence shivered his bones.

Gravity dictates the fate of a dragon dancer. Miss a handhold and gravity wins.

From Life As We Knew It

Smoke and mirrors meant making the right hand so flashy that the mark never noticed what the left hand was really doing. Grant couldn’t stop the main event, but he could make this little side drama so entertaining that nobody saw through it until it was too late.

Shane swallowed audibly. Jacob sat down on the opposite end of the wide wooden stair and waited. Shane excelled at silence. He always had. Jacob didn’t try to outwait him.

“You’re not okay, are you?”

“Was your first clue that I’m actually here?”

From Objects in View

“What’s going on out there?” she asked. Right. Honesty. I promised honesty. He restrained his trained inclination to dump the screen. “Weird.” “That’s not communicative,” she said with a giggle. He smirked. The rest of the shelter was quiet. They were the only two awake. “Bear with me. Learning a new skill here.” He rubbed the back of his head. “Dylan said the same thing. Maybe you can make sense of what is confounding us.” “Oh, sure, honey. I know so much about terrorism.” She sipped her coffee. “Or is this espionage?” To Grant, this was just workaday life. Terrorism and espionage ran together in his mind.

A small throb of pain pulsed when he prodded it. That’s an injection site. I never blacked out before. Maybe I didn’t this time either. A dream before waking – a desperate whispered conversation between Marnie and Rob, a memory of sitting on the church steps and peeing in the bushes with …. Dad roofied me?

He had never slept this rough in his life. He felt like crap. He worried he’d been sleeping in it all night.

My favorite line from all of my books is still unpublished, but is the title of my new adult drama “What If … Wasn’t.” Peter is a second-chance citizen (a recently-released felon) who has a horrible history to overcome and whenever he is tempted to indulge in a fantasy where his actions did not cause significant damage to the lives of others as well as himself, he smacks himself with that phrase – “What if wasn’t, which means I have to  live with what was and is.”

It’s my favorite line because it is also one of my life philosophies. You can moan and groan about how crappy your life has been and how you should have done this and could have done that if only you would have known this, but why? It won’t change the past. What if … wasn’t, so why not live with what was and what is?

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Posted December 10, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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Oh, What a Boring World!   3 comments

December 3, 2018

What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

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That sounds like a boring life. I don’t think I’m in favor of total-transparency living, but I agreed to do the topic, so ….

  1. I would testify more boldly of my faith to everybody I care about knowing they will not reject my testimony. Then I would testify more boldly to strangers as well.
  2. I would continue to advocate for smaller government and no government, knowing that I will one day be successful.
  3. I would invest in a startup business that I believe in knowing that it will grow and become a business that can support me through investment income.
  4. I would advertise my books in a big way knowing they will become best-sellers that will support me in retirement.
  5. I would invest in my daughter’s musical career in a big way knowing that my investment will assure her success so that she can return my investment.
  6. I would invest in my son’s rock-climbing interest in a bigger way for the same reason.
  7. And, judging from the photo above, I might go sky-diving.

Generally, I think I’d be more willing to try new activities and ventures because I would know they wouldn’t become a waste of time since success would be assured.

But I also think I would eventually become bored and stop trying new activities because the assurance of success would take away some of the enjoyment of the attempt.

Posted December 3, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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Keeping It Fresh   4 comments

When was the last time you did something for the first time?

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This was actually a hard question for me because I am always trying new things … new recipes, new hiking trails, new ideas, but those seem like they aren’t all that new because I’m always doing them. Does it count if I make a new recipe using techniques I’ve mastered decades ago? I didn’t think it did.

I eventually hit on what I am doing this November. I’ve done NaNoWriMo before as a challenge with a friend and wrote a deeply-flawed novel I have no interest in ever rescuing. I wrote myself into a corner and the main character refuses to speak to me, so it will languish on a disc in my archives and that’s probably it.

This year, I decided to do NaNoWriMo to rewrite a novel I think could be a great story with a main character that has been talking to me for two decades. When I write, I usually loop back to re-read portions of what I’ve written and to rewrite so things flow in context, but the rules of NaNoWriMo are that you write it in one run and you don’t edit. There’s no way I could do that with a new novel. I am firmly convinced the flaws of that earlier novel are a function of that process and it’s dead to me since I can’t write if the characters don’t talk to me. Apparently, I can’t even rewrite without character interaction.

This current novel concentrates on a young recovering alcoholic getting out of jail for a crime he deeply regrets. He wants forgiveness but knows he’ll never receive it. It’s loosely based on a  friend’s unfortunate years that deeply affected me when he told me about it. My novel is not his story, though he has been an adviser for some aspects of it.

What If Wasn’t has been written over several years. The plot makes sense, but a beta reader pointed out a lot of flaws. It’s episodic. The main scenes don’t appear to build on one another. It’s filled with bumper-sticker recovery language and way too much self-analysis by the main character.  A romance buds in it but I never pursued it because I was focused on the MC’s damage and painful past. The story itself needs to be deepened and made emotionally compelling.

So I’m going through and rewriting some scenes and then adding scenes that link the major scenes together. In the process, I’ve discovered a larger backdrop story that I didn’t realize existed that can act to drive some of the narrative. This time, I’m concentrating on making Peter more human and focusing not on his past, though he still has to haul that rotting baggage with him, but his way forward.

What I’m doing is a complete rewrite, save for a couple of scenes that impressed that beta reader, and I’m not looping back. Looping back is part of my established process, but this time I’m not doing that. I’ve written/rewritten 70,000 words this November and I’m getting to a great place in the story where the climax is about to happen. Peter thinks he’s ready to move forward and he’s about to be blindsided by a tidal wave he doesn’t see coming. I already wrote that – it was a point the beta reader thought worked well, but what follows it needs a huge rethink, to resolve that romance and to point Peter down the road to his future. I know there are continuity errors and that has me itching to loop back, but I’m not going to do it. I’m going to write those scenes this coming week. November 30 I’m going to close the rewrite, hopefully with the last scene written, and take a break from that story.

I’m learning a new skill, a difficult skill, a discipline I am not certain I will use in the future and know I won’t make it a centerpiece of my process, but I want to see if it can be a useful tool that improves my final product, maybe something to be added to a rewrite process. It certainly has sped up the rewrite and we’ll see if the novel is improved by it. I know this rewrite is better than what was written before. I also know it won’t be the final draft of this novel.

So when was the last time I did something for the first time? I’m doing it right now. 

When the Bell Tolls   3 comments

If you had the option to know the date of your death, would you want to know?

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The short answer is no, but there’s a longer answer that’s more nuanced. No surprise there to regular readers of this blog.

First, I don’t fear death. As a Christian, I believe death is a gateway to God’s kingdom where I will live forever in the presence of my Savior and some of my family and friends will be there also. No worries about death darken my mind. If I knew I was dying, I might be sad to be leaving some people and things behind, but a moment after I die, I won’t care because my existence will be wonderful. I believe that. Enough on that topic.

When I saw the topic, my mind went immediately to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemene. He KNEW the hour of His death and it hurt so bad He sweated drops of blood. That’s actually a thing, by the way. In times of intense stress, some people secret iron, which oxidizes in the air and looks like blood.

Can you imagine knowing that you were going to die the next day and your death would be horribly painful?

I wouldn’t want to know that. I think that’s why in movies where the “hero” knows he’s going to die, you see a lot of frenzied effort in trying to reverse that inevitability. Or else they run around trying to make amends to the people they were estranged from. While that’s nice – to die with some closure in your damaged relationships – I think knowing the date of your death would keep you not focused on the here-and-now.

I could die anytime within the next 40 years. My mother’s family routinely live into their eighties and nineties and a few have broken the century mark. So I could live a long time, yet. Or I could get stomped to death by a moose tomorrow. If I knew I was going to live to be 100, I think I might not live life as urgently as I do now.  Maybe I wouldn’t say “I love you” to the people I care about quite so often. Maybe I’d dawdle in writing books. Maybe I wouldn’t go out onto the deck to watch the northern lights as often because “well, I’ve got 40 years to do these things.” Of course, knowing the date of my own death wouldn’t mean I’d know the date of my loved ones’ deaths. The other day, the UAF Geophysical Institute announced we’re entering a period of solar minimum. Now I’m wishing I’d seen more auroral displays last winter since they will be rare for the next few years. I’ve published eight books in the last four years and I can’t help wonder how many books I might have published if publishing had been different when I was younger.

Do you see what I’m getting at? I’ve missed a lot of opportunities because I thought I had time. As time now catches up with me, I look back and think “Wow, if I’d lived life like a moose would stomp me to death tomorrow, think about the things I would have done.” I can still do them and I think I have a few decades, but if I knew I was going to die in a year or two, I would stop publishing series because I wouldn’t want to leave my audience hanging. Would the world mourn that loss? I doubt it. But I would mourn that creative output.

Meanwhile, if I thought a moose would stomp me to death tomorrow, I might seek to avoid that fate rather than live my life and I don’t want to stop living in order to go on existing.

Not knowing the date of my death gives my life freshness and forces me to do things in the moment, but not put so much intensity into it that I look like one of those freaks in the movies who try to make amends with people they’ve hated in the last 24 hours of their lives. I live today as if tomorrow my life might end and I’ll have to face God with today’s sin to explain, and so I’m always trying to improve my contact with God and my relationships with others. But I also plan for the next four decades because I don’t know what’s coming and those plans give me joy and structure.

So, no, I don’t want to know the hour of my death. I don’t need to hear the bell toll. 

Posted November 19, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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It’s a Marathon   4 comments

November 12, 2018

What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a writer ?

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First off, if you want to write … write. You are therefore a writer.

Front Cover of Days End KDPI was a writer for about 40 years before I was an author. There is a difference. I wrote for my own amazement, stories that I wanted to read. At the time, it really wasn’t an option to be published. I tried and it was really hard.

Let’s say  you want to be an author. That’s pretty easy these days thanks to Amazon and other self-publishing companies. If you decline Suggestion #1 – just write for your own amazement, here is some advice if you want to be an independent author.

#1 Read everything and try to write it. Don’t just read your favorite genres. Read history, political science, philosophy, science and anything else factually based. Think of it as building a foundation for excellent writing. But also read fiction, especially classical fiction. Again, you learn how to write well by reading great writing.

#2 Write most days. Keep a diary, write a blog, write short stories and poetry and song lyrics. Practice your skills as often as you can. Yeah, a lot of what you write will be crap. Don’t delete it. Keep it. You can go back and edit it or you might find a smack awesome sentence in the middle of a couple of pages of awful writing.

#3 Join a critique group, submit your writing and listen to the advice you get. You can find lots of people help who are writers just like you and who may have strengths that balance your weaknesses. Plus it is really good practice for when you are getting ready to publish and you are submitting your manuscript to beta readers and an editor (and, yes, you will need to run your manuscript before several second pairs of eyes).

#4 Open a PayPal account and sock some money away there — or in a savings account — because you’re going to need it. Just throwing up a book on Amazon won’t get a lot of traffic. You’ll need to be prepared to advertise to get some attention on your book.

#5 Don’t be in a rush. Take your time. Go over your manuscript as many times as you need to. You want it to be a good book and there simply is no substitute for hard work in the pursuit of quality.

#6 If you can manage it, join an author’s cooperative because there is power in publishing with several other authors under the same publisher. It gives indie authors legitimacy that they are automatically denied simply because they are indie authors.

#7 Remember, it’s a marathon not a sprint. It took the Bible a few centuries to be accepted and it’s now THE #1 bestseller of all time. Tolkien spent decades writing Lord of the Rings and the associated publications in that universe before he had a chance meeting with a publisher at a dinner party. Most successful authors are 20-year overnight successes.

#8 You will need to develop a social media presence, but don’t overdo it. It’s far more important to write the next book. Set up some sort of schedule so you are occasionally in the public eye, but it’s way more important to be write than to socialize on the Internet.

And, there you go. Those are the things I would do if I was a writer who wanted to become an independent author. Some of them are things I did as I transitioned from writer to published author and some of them are things I wish I had done during that process.

Speaking of which, my 8th novel Day’s End (Book 4 of Transformation Project series) publishes next Tuesday November 20 and the latest Clarion Call anthology Fairy Tale Riot features one of my short stories. All of Transformation Project is on reduced price currently.

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Posted November 12, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop, Uncategorized

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Transcending this Lifetime   6 comments

What do you want people to remember about you?

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We all hope to leave a legacy. It’s sort of a human ambition to leave behind something that has people remember who we were a decade after our deaths or a century. It’s mainly only the infamous who are remembered millennia after their deaths. Alexander the Great is not remembered because he was a good guy who promoted peace and love, for example. Had George Washington not headed the Continental Army during the American Revolution, he would be no better remembered today than Lemuel Haynes or Roger Sherman.

Proverbs 31 womanAt not-quite-60 I probably have another 20 years to forge my legacy (my mother’s family routinely push 90 when they pass to the next realm), so I am thinking more and more of what I want people to remember about me. I don’t do bucket lists, but today’s post calls me to consider this, so, here goes!

I would want people to remember me as an imperfect (that’s actually important) mother who loved her children enough to let them find their own paths, but who imparted saving knowledge of Jesus Christ to them. If our daughter ever fulfills her potential and God’s leading, you will know her name and not because she’s infamous. To say more would sound arrogant, but there are reasons having nothing to do with me or her for why I believe she could light up the world stage … or that she might be one of those people who is not famous in her own lifetime, but whose work will transcend her own life.

When folks stand around at my memorial service, I hope they remember my faith was in Jesus Christ and that I lived that out in my life even when it was sometimes hard and I wasn’t rewarded for it. Yeah, I think I’m on a theme here.

I would like people to remember my books. I put a lot of myself and my faith into them and so, of course, I want them to live on beyond my lifetime.

Last, I hope my blogging is remembered by the people who have read it (or might read it in the future) and that it helped them to see new and better ways of doing things that leads us away from the current vitriol and insanity of our present schizophrenic society. I’m not alone in occupying a 3rd way that is neither Republican nor Democrat, but seeks to align with economic reality and individual liberty and I pray God that people turn more in that direction before the whole mess slides off a cliff.

So, I think that’s about it. A faithful Christian, an effective communicator, an entertaining novelist and a good mom. Basically, I want to be remembered as a humanized Proverbs 31 woman.

Finders   3 comments

October 29, 2018

What would you do if you found $50 on the ground (or substitute your local currency)

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Depends on the circumstances, of course.

I’ve had actual experience at this. In Alaska, if you turn cash into the police, the cops are under no obligation to find the owner and if someone comes to claim it and doesn’t have proof it is theirs, it won’t be turned over to them. Eventually, it just gets absorbed into the general fund of the police department. And I am opposed to funding statist organizations like the police department, so … yeah, I’m not taking cash to the cops.

Money on the GroundSometimes when you find money, there is no way to know who it belongs to. It’s on the sidewalk and it could belong to anyone. Sometimes you just thank God for the financial help, and, yes, I’ve been in financial situations where a surprise $50 meant we ate that week. When you grow up poor, you don’t look gift horses in the mouth. Both times, I checked around the nearby shops to see if anyone had reported losing some cash and didn’t get any nibbles, so — yes, I kept it. But that was a long time ago and I’ve changed my ways since then. I still might keep the money if the circumstances were right, but I’d try harder to find the owner, because ….

Once I was picking up a hundred dollar bill when a young woman came running out of a nearby store, patting her pockets and looking around frantically. I said “Are you looking for something?”

She said, tears in her eyes, “I dropped my money. I guess it’s gone.” And I handed over the money to her great relief.

Once the money was right beside a car, so I folded it into a piece of paper and slid it under the wiper, because it was obvious it had been dropped as someone was getting out of their car. I did something similar with a terrific fox hat (probably $500 in value) I found by someone’s car one warming winter day. I hung it on the side mirror in a plastic shopping bag because I’d be deeply sad if I lost my own terrific fox hat.

The most dramatic cash encounter, however, was a definite test of my honesty and it was hard. I was at a church conference and our group was staying in the building. While the kids and my husband were bedding down, I went to the chapel to be quiet for a while and when I sat down on the pew, there was an envelope with $15,700 in it. It didn’t have a name on it. I seriously thought about what we could do with that money. It was hard to decide not to take all or some of it. What I didn’t know is that the owner of the money thought he’d left it in his car and it had been stolen while they were at a mall across town because his kid had left a door unlocked. I could have pocketed that money and nobody would have been the wiser and I wouldn’t have ever have been confronted for it … except by God. I knew this wasn’t pocket change. Whoever had lost the money, unless they were a millionaire, would feel the pain. In fact, the shop owner who had lost the money would have probably have gone out of business. So, the next morning, I went to the conference leadership and asked if anyone was missing any money. They said “no”, but about an hour later, a man who owned a shop in that town came to me with profuse thanks. My honesty had saved his business. That was 26 years ago and we still get a Christmas card and an occasional gift from him and his wife — whenever their business does well, they kick something nice our way and they’re fans of my books, so — I’ve probably gotten more than $16,000 in satisfaction and assorted goodies. Honesty has its perks, though you often won’t see them at the side before you’re actually honest.

So, what would I do if I found $50 on the ground? I would make a true good faith effort to find the owner, but I wouldn’t feel guilty if that effort failed and I’m never giving money to cops.

Posted October 29, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop, Uncategorized

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