You can find little snippets about my life under the entries tagged "origin story."
Ever since I started writing, everything (except what I had to write for Creative Writing classes) has had speculative elements--unicorns, other worlds, mutant powers, time travel....
Currently I am working on a NaNoWriMo tentatively titled "Historyland: A Visit to the Titanic," about Liam Peterson, a young man who works as a tour guide for visitors to a simulated Titanic.
A Selkie's Prayer (2014), a novella set in the universe of the Kinyn Chronicles. It is about a man whose selkie wife has been missing for five years, and the Elven goddess who promises to help him find her. And find her he does, but where he least expected... While listed as a Christian book, it explores themes of faith and doubt, and I think has potential for non-Christian audiences. A Selkie's Prayer is my first published solo effort, though my often-coauthor, Maggie Phillippi, gave invaluable feedback and also designed the cover. It is currently available on Kindle, with a print copy in the works.
Maggie Phillippi, titled The Healer and the Pirate (2010). It is a Christian fantasy romance novel, with pirates, and is available now for $2.99 on Kindle, Nook, Smashwords, and for about $9.99 in print on Lulu and Amazon.
I love writing with Maggie. She's quite grounded and logical, so she cuts off plot holes and problems that, if left to my own devices, I would've let go for 3 months before I realized they were a problem. I'm trying to learn to plan better so I don't run into those problems.
The first novel I wrote on my own was Jet-A-Miray: The Country of Fantasy (1994). (Verdict: There is a reason it is only on my "play" webpage.)
In college I worked on a novel called Chosen: Bonnie of Sheshack, which is a Christian fantasy novel in first-person. (Verdict: I am slowly snowflaking that; you may even the novel online someday. Several chapters of an older draft is also at my "play" webpage.)
I've "won" NaNoWriMo five times. Here are some rundowns, with quotes from the start of Chapter 1 for each.
Rift (2002) - Girl from 1920s comes to the present-day and falls in love--but as two worlds intersect, can they stay together?
The floor was hard, even with the blanket on it. Andrew hadn’t brought a pillow, and lying on his bony arm did little good. It was hot and humid, so he took off his shirt. But that didn’t make much of a pillow either. Lying on his back, Andrew heard the scratches and even the squeaks coming from the rats in the walls. He vowed to himself that if a rat actually bit him, he’d get out of there, even if his dad would call him a sissy, and even if his mother’s haunted house story would be ruined.
Verdict: Was a ton of fun to write, but with the constant time-travel and the fact that the male lead's friend was rather more interesting than the male lead, I found it was basically uneditable. Don't expect to see it published ever; the most it could hope for is a character transplant.
The Hall Ghost (2003) - Origin of the "hall ghost" at Maricopa dorm at University of Arizona, in the 1920s.
At the end of August, Father was taken ill again, so they had to delay the trip. Annie was terrified that perhaps her family wouldn’t come with her after all, that she’d have to make the train ride alone and see herself to her hall. She was even more frightened when she read her cousin Mick’s most recent letter, warning her to beware the sophomores at the train station. Just a couple years ago, Mick wrote, they would cut the hair of any freshman boy coming in, and she thought it was only a matter of time before they took to shearing the girls as well. Annie was fairly certain Mick was making up stories--certainly about the girls, anyway--but she’d still feel safer with her parents by her side. They thought her chin-length hair was entirely too short already, so they would protect her.
Verdict: Really should have done research BEFORE starting, instead of in the middle. When I actually looked through 1920s yearbooks from the school, I saw there was a dorm matron or something and all sorts of stuff I hadn't pictured. Would need a total rewrite.
Flight from Endwood (2006) - In Endwood, the angel Mass Gabrull commands everyone to live underground, for protection from the monstrous Buzzards that could kill everyone. The humans run plantations, served by their beast-like tenthit slaves. A young man flees Endwood only to befriend a former slave and find a world outside bigger than he could have imagined. But what does he do when Endwood is in danger?
Edwin looked out at the ragged fields before him--cotton mingled with hexm, lddaet and thaeth growing so close together, it would take months of labor to disentangle a field. Every time he looked at it, a renewed hatred of the place swept over him. It was where he was meant to be, of course; the Master told him so at least twice a year. But he hated everything. Sometimes he saw visions of long, straight fields, plowed by great machines, so big they would draw the wrath of every villain in the land. But they'd get so much work done, and it would be so exciting, it would be worth the risk. Or even better, working near a mine, weighing the metals, figuring out which veins were worth mining...
Verdict: I thought I plotted this one well enough before I started, and I was incredibly wrong. I completed a substantial, but still flawed, rewrite in February 2011. It will take at least one more substantial rewrite (and overcoming some logical problems) before it could be even remotely salable, and I'm taking a long break right now.
Bright Eyes, Purple Threads (2007) - The new girl in school walks in dressed head to toe in Colonial garb, and the conservative Christian girl makes it a point to win her soul. But both girls have something to hide, and a link they didn't even know about...
Chapter 1: When Temperance wore a dress to school
August 23rd - 7:15 AM - Temperance
My heart pounded as I walked through the open-air hallways. I'd studied maps, even come out a few days before classes started, so I could find my way around. The folded piece of paper I'd slipped into my shoe poked me with every second step, but I didn't dare take it out. What if I forgot my combination? Aside from my shoes, my clothes were comfortable enough. I had my best stays on for support, and my sleeves were just past elbow-length. The air circulated almost pleasantly around my calves, beneath my skirts.
Verdict: Two POV characters and a diary format. What could go wrong????? (Answer: A lot.)
The idea has haunted me for a while and continues to do so. The title was such a blessing from God, from Song of Solomon 7:5. But I really need to come up with a better plot. Since I had no strong plot in mind, vampires came in. Seriously. Hope to revisit someday.
LUNA (2010) - Coney Island in space.
They didn’t call them space coffins for nothing. Tubes not much longer than a man’s height, little more than a man’s width, and much too small to sit up inside. Even the machinery took up the same room on either side of the head and beside his legs, leaving room for his shoulders to span the entire tub. Hardly enough room, as they touched each side of the escape pod, as if he were buried already.
Verdict: It turned out much more like Disneyland in space. I believe God gave me the basic idea for it but not necessarily a plot, and so it needs a ton of work. I did this book to make sure that I still could write 50,000 words in a month if I had to (I could), and also to try to rekindle my enjoyment of writing (it did). I had no idea my lead would spend a surprising amount of time in a cat mascot costume. I planned out several characters but by far my favorite turned out to be the Audio-Animatronic princess. Who knew? Will require a complete and utter rewrite and reworking, but I hope to revisit it someday.
About My WritingAnyway, I think I enjoy writing young adult fiction (I don't like to use the flowery and difficult words you see in a lot of adult fiction either, plus YA has to be more tightly plotted and exciting, in general). But again, the person I write best with does not like young adult fiction, so we'll see what God does.
I majored in Creative Writing at the University of Arizona, with a second major in Sociology. The latter occurred because I found societies and statistics fascinating, until I found I'd taken nearly enough classes to have a double major. I minored in East Asian Studies which, again, I found fascinating.
Regarding the Creative Writing degree, I really should have done my research first. I actually hear that the University of Arizona recently changed to allow some amount of "genre fiction" but when I went it was exclusively about literary fiction. So with that caveat, I personally still do not recommend a Creative Writing degree for anyone who writes anything but "literary fiction"--that is all that they would teach us how to write, and only modern short stories. For the classes I took, they wanted everyone to write things like Raymond Carver's "Cathedral" or maybe James Joyce's "The Dead." I felt those classes set me back as a writer...again, I understand things may have changed lately, but it probably wasn't the best choice for me, and if you are considering a Creative Writing degree I suggest you look very seriously into the program before simply assuming it will suit your needs. I feel like I learned more about writing for a market from a year at Critique Circle than I did from my literary Creative Writing classes.
I didn't care for most of my English (literature) classes but an English degree would have been more helpful, and you sometimes see job postings for English majors. Only VERY rarely does a job require a Creative Writing degree. If I could go back, I would look into majoring in history or even taking a different path entirely. Not to say I'm not satisfied with my life; I am. My major just wasn't the most beneficial.