Saturday, June 16, 2018

Quest for Leviathan by Amanda Tero

Ah, biblical fiction. ^.^ Though I've been trying to exercise self-restraint when it comes to free books and the deadlines they entail of late ... sometimes I can't help myself. I think what hooked me on Quest for Leviathan by is the brevity of the story and the unique subject!

Leviathan took the life of Anath’s father. Anath has spent three years preparing for the voyage that will end the threat of Leviathan. Yet as the Valor launches into the depths of the Mediterranean, an inward quest also begins, taking Anath to depths he is not willing to face.

The story is around 4,000 words, but watch my review be just as long :P

I loved the length. Don't get me wrong, I still love a fantastic novel. But I'm more willing to gamble on something shorter (and less expensive) these days. Amanda's story proves that shorter does not mean less.

The characters were few, but well done and seemed to fit the era. The writing had strong imagery and a single focal theme that helped the short story pack a punch. I loved the illustrations--they added a lot to the story. Of course the background of the Leviathan (mentioned in Job) also made the story neat.

Overall, it I didn't find it endearing or mindblwoing, but it was a unique premise with a well-executed spiritual/character development arc that packed a punch. As a writer, I know that's quite the feat. 8/10 shrooms.

There's a giveaway of course!

Amanda is giving away TWO print copies of "Quest for Leviathan" to one winner--one for you, and one for your friend.

Amanda Tero began her love for words at a young age—reading anything she could get her hands on and penning short stories as young as age eight. Since graduation, she has honed her writing skills by dedicated practice and study of the writing craft. She began her journey of publication with a few short stories that she had written for her sisters and continued to add to her collection with other short stories, novellas, and novels. It is her utmost desire to write that which not only pleases her Lord and Savior, but also draws the reader into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.

 If you're looking for a short read or a taste of biblical fiction, this is for you! Have you read any other of Amanda's books? (This was my first.)

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Summer Reading + Writing Bucket List

I have a whole list of blog posts to write on my phone at the moment. I looked at the list several times this week and none of the posts spoke to me. So due to procrastinating and seeing Audrey Caylin's blog post in my inbox this morning, I'm going to do something different on the fly here. Prepare to see my summer TBR, writing plans, and how I'm doing on my year's goals!

As I've mentioned before, my newsletter is the main place where I keep you guys updated with life and all the little things going into my reading, writing, editing, etc. Mainly because it's hard to fit all of that in here and feel like I'm doing a good job including you all.

But every now and then I can't help but post on some of what's up. I'm sure you don't mind. ;)

Summer TBR

Since I'm quite the list-maker, I was working on a Summer TBR the other day. Of course, it's ridiculously long. I've decided as a working high school graduate that getting more time to read in the summer is a myth. I'm going to have to make more time. Thankfully my reading accountability partner Lisa has been good at keeping up with me.

Here's what I've got on my list so far (in no particular order):

  • War of Loyalties by Schuyler McConkey // I own it and it's beautiful and she needs more reviews but it's so long I haven't delved in yet. I can't wait!!!
  • Where the Woods Grow Wild by Nate Philbrick // Nate's hilarious and his book is awesome. Life happened and I never finished it. I'm thinking it's a good read-aloud-to-the-brothers option.
  • Out of Time Series by Nadine Brandes // Yes, I've already read this, but it is time to soak it all up again and to expose the siblings!
  • Something by Flannery O' Connor // I talked about this with my pastor's wife because we're both trying to read more classics right now.
  • Lorna Doone by R. D. Blackmore // In progress and loving it.
  • Green Dolphin Street by Elizabeth Goudge // On loan from Kelsey Bryant.)=
  • Tarzan by Edward Rice Burroughs // Because I've owned a pretty volume of it from Barnes & Noble for a year now and it will give me an excuse to watch the new movie again.
  • The Irresistible Novel by Jeff Gerke // Jeff has an excellent sense of humor and I've heard such good things about this book!
  • book club // This will be two more books that haven't been chosen quite yet.
12 isn't excessive, right? I cherrypicked these hoping to not bog myself down but fly through some really great reads! What are you trying to read over the summer?

Writing Plans

These change all the time. And even though I'm back to making good headway on Martin Crossroads, I have two other story ideas that will. not. leave me alone. No matter how nicely I ask!! So I'm obstinately refusing to give them any writing time like a good, focused writer. :P

Here's what I'm hoping for:
  • a freebie for my end-of-June newsletter peeps. You hear that? You're gonna want to be subscribed to receive this! I'd been struggling on what to include, but I had a breakthrough the other day and it's now awaiting the feedback of my critique partner, Ivy. It's an understatement to say I'm excited. :D
  • something fun for Andora's Folly turning one in July. If you have any ideas or things you'd like to see, let me know! I've got two ideas I'm hoping to make happen at the moment. :) I'll also be doing Camp NaNo again this month (woohoo!).
  • the Self-Editing Checklist in August. Remember when I shared my Self-Publishing Checklist? I really want to do one as an editor to give writers some tips and such that I share when I edit for people. Whoever your editor is will thank you for knowing some things in advance! This will probably be shared in a blog post so everyone has access and be kind of a promotional thing for my editing services I suppose.
  • a complete first draft of Martin Crossroads by the end of September. I'm currently at 40k and aiming for 100k, so this should be feasible if I don't drop the ball! (August is my true goal but I'm guessing the summer will explode on me.)
There. That's nice to have down on paper for my own sake. What are your summery writing plans?

2018 Goal Progress

*hides* I'm so bad at checking my goals that I was a little worried for this bit. Here's how I'm doing.
  • memorize 10 items // I memorized a lot of music for choir??? No? Okay ...
  • publish something // Maybe I can do a Christmassy short story or something as I'm holding off Behind the Act for traditional publication (hopefully ... one day) and Martin Crossroads still has a way to go.
  • read 40 books // I've read 17 and am currently reading 3 more which means I'm still on track! *phew*
  • review everything // Um, I think I've reviewed all 17 books on Goodreads and even a few on Amazon ... I'll need to double-check that ;)
  • 5 book buy limit // BAHAHAHAAA Yeah right, who was I kidding? I've probably already bought 12 or so -_- However, I have stuck to my goal of all those books being on sale when I bought them so I shall not be ashamed.
  • travel // Oh oh oh! It's official I will not be attending any writing conferences this year because $$ ... but I just booked a flight to NYC for 5 days in September. *screams* I'm going with my aunt, cousin, and sister. While I'm sure the 10-year-old will control the itinerary since it's over her birthday, I'm holding out for a visit to Harper-Collins (because hello tax write-off), Hugh Jackman's coffee shop (say what?!), and of course Broadway (which is a guarantee).
  • writing experiments // Thanks to flash fiction and the checklist I plan on publishing, I think I'm getting there with this one.
  • finish writing lectures // Oh yeah ... xP I did finish one series but I have two more to go!
Did you make any goals for the year?
That got long, but you are officially in the loop and responsible for holding me accountible! ;) What are your summer plans?

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Biblical Self-Promotion

I feel like this something I've never seen addressed, but at first blush, it is a bit of a conundrum. The Bible clearly tells us over and over again not to parade ourselves or to do good things just for the sake of publicity and praise. It struck me for the first time the other day that self-promotion kind of does those things. So how can we as Christian writers justify it?

While not exactly a no-brainer, I feel like most of us have already come to terms with this, whether we gave it intentional thought or not. But don't we all have those Facebook friends who come across a little full of themselves and their work? Like every chance they get, their books somehow become the topic of conversation? It gets annoying! So not only do we want to make sure we're not angering God in putting ourselves out there, we don't want to be "those people" who are downright pests.

Yes, self-promotion is necessary. And to be real, it starts much earlier than you'd think. Sure, hire someone to do it for you on social media. That works for busy famous people, but even then. It's not the same. People want to hear from you. Or at least I would because, more than it being your job, it's your privilege. You of all people should know how much people need your books, right?

Now that that's out of the way, here are some reasons I don't think we need to feel ashamed to share our book sale, cover reveal, or even just the link.

  • As Christian writers, what we're promoting is ultimately for the glory of God. Of course we have to be careful to keep the right mindset and not make it all about us and numbers, but if you approach it as a kingdom enterprise, there is nothing wrong with sharing!
  • In that same vein, we're told to go and make disciples of all nations. There are two action words there! While writing might not be directly making disciples, your books being written from a Christian perspective (whether they have God as a character or not) will impact people and show them God. Whether they know it or not! So take action and share that message!
  • Writing is my ministry so I'm going to spread the word. See what I did there? I am so not an evangelical person it's not even funny. Spreading the Word kind of scares me. So if I can share my book's link on Facebook and get one new person to read it and bring them closer to God then by doing so, I feel like I've accomplished what I was trying to explain in my second point. Of course it might not be the end-all of ministry, but it's a wonderful start. If you promote.
  • It's not about you, it's about the story. This is the little one, but possibly the hardest. Of course it's about you because you're the author, right?! But no. It's about the story and that story points to God. If you can keep that mindset, I think sharing will feel more natural and be less of a potential ego thing.
  • Because our stories are from God and for God, we should be proud of our stories. That's right. As if this post couldn't get any more counter-biblical sounding, I just recommended pride. But geez, God was well-pleased with Jesus. So too can we be proud of our little book babies and hopeful for the message they carry, whatever that may be. They're not doing anyone any good sitting on the shelf. So go get those readers and be proud of that too.
I feel like I kind of went in circles there, but do you get my point? This isn't about us becoming rich and famous, though I don't think we'd complain. If we can just remember that much, I think we're already on the road of working actively for God instead of doing things just to look good and be part of the cool author crowd.

What this means, I think, is that we should give thought to our self-promotion. Sure, sometimes it's awkward. (At least for me. Tell me I'm not alone in this please!) But if you don't act like it's awkward, chances are people won't think it is. It's super important to remember that while we're promoting ourselves, we're promoting for other people. God as aforementioned if you're a Chrisitan writer, but also your potential readers. You want them to know things! Honestly, if you're thoughtful about how you promote, then it's their problem if they don't want to be told things.

Obviously, I didn't get into very many ways to actually self-promote. I think the key is really just to get yourself onto some social media platforms (maybe start with one) and be personable. Let that part of your person that's tied up in a passion for sharing stories shine through just like all the other wackier bits. 

I guess in my mind it all comes down to why you're self-promoting more than how. Of course there are strategies to figure out, as manipulative as that may sound. But don't be afraid to ask for help and favors! Make friends first and then you might be surprised at how many are willing to do things for the sake of you and your story.
I hope that made sense because I kind of felt like I rambled. (How many times did I say "of course"?) Is self-promotion a natural thing for you? What mindset do you have as you're sharing things about your books? The numbers, fame, need, or the benefit to the kingdom?

Just as a caveat, nowhere in there did I say this was easy. I struggle with this ... a lot, the more I think about it. You're not alone and I rather doubt I am either. ;)