Books? Thinking? Are those “lit”?

[“Lit,” by the way, is the trendy way to say “cool,” or “neato, daddio.” Just typing that last one is totally not “lit”.]

These lines are what I hope none of my students will ever say about my class:

books thinking never saw before

These lines are also why I often read out loud to them, because even though they’re 10th graders, a few kids had never finished a novel until they took my class.

I worry that books and thinking are becoming as old-fashioned as typewriters and rotary phones. We rarely hear about either much anymore, and when we do it’s, “Hey, remember when we used to think about problems and read all we could before we made judgments? Or am I just remembering a time that never really existed? And am I using the word ‘lit’ correctly?”

Get Book 1, The Forest at the Edge of the World right here. It’s totally lit. (Maybe?)

 

Tight Christmas budget? Buy 8 books for $3.96 which is only…umm (someone help me with the math) pretty darn cheap for books!

So it’s barely December and already my Christmas budget is looking slim. If you’re in the same boat, I’ve got a great deal for you: ALL of my books--THE ENTIRE SERIES OF 8–for only $3.96 for the download. That’s . . . (*she pulls up her calculator on the laptop*) .495 cents per book! (really not sure what to do with that .005 there, and this is why I teach English and not math).

 

 

Since I hate coming up with reasons to buy my books, here’s what readers have said after finishing the series:

This series is totally worth your time. I’ve read them through several times now and they are still very interesting, thought provoking, entertaining and enjoyable. Nothing nasty, don’t have to worry about nasty images or language. (I love the comment about “nothing nasty.” Although there is a moment in Book 2 where a very large dog coughs up something that I personally found rather nasty.)

Wow pretty well covers it. “Hope is everything.” The previous seven books all led to this amazing finale . . . It is exciting, thought provoking, insightful, and can be spiritual. One needs to read this with an open mind. (Because sometimes I go waaaay out there. I admit it. It’s fun waaaay out there. Try it!)

It does not fit neatly into a niche category or genre such as: dystopian, science fiction, fantasy, young adult etc. and the whole series is in a class of its own. So sit down, open the book, enjoy the ride , and keep the “hope”.  (I appreciate that they can’t figure out the genre, either. People ask me, “What kind of books do you write?” and I just shrug. I’m not the best promoter of my work.)

  . . . intense moments, heartbreaking moments, glorious moments, and hilarious moments . . . often all within a page or two. Even in this final stretch of the series, the character growth and intricate plot development is phenomenal. It is brutal, magnificent, powerful, and perfect.  (No one’s ever called me brutal before. At least, not to my face. They know better than that. *smacks fist into palm*)

This book has a problem… It’s too hard to put down!😊 I love the characters and love the story line. It’s intense and made me cry and laugh!  (I really hope she cried and laughed at the right places. One never knows.)

So give this super cheap, not nasty, out there, brutal, undefinable, laughing/crying book series to someone you love.

Or hate. I’m not judging.

I won’t tell them how cheaply you got the series if you won’t.

 

 

Is your life going exactly as you expected it would? Same here. Maybe that’s not a bad thing.

Not what I expected BOOK 8 teaser HORIZONTAL

I hate surprises, procrastination, and not knowing how things will work out. So I plan for every contingency and emergency, and STILL God finds the one (or likely millions) of scenarios I didn’t anticipate and throws that one at me leaving me to think, “Why didn’t I see that coming?!”

And that sums up life, I’ve realized.

How many of you are living exactly as you expected you would? With all your family, financial, and employment goals achieved?

Yeah, same here.

Yet how many of you, if given the opportunity, would go back and reverse all the unexpected twists in your life?

I used to think I would, but now I realize I wouldn’t. Everything good and bad and perplexing has worked to shape me into the person I am right now, and I like who I might finally become.

The unexpected is good, in a long, roundabout way.

Speaking of the unexpected, I’ve heard back from a lot of you about the ending of Book 8. So far no one has said, “That’s exactly what I thought would happen.” (Which is a huge relief because I did NOT want to write a predictable story!)

To be honest, a lot of how the story went caught me off-guard as well. Trying to avoid a spoiler here, but about Lemuel and Perrin? That smacked me upside the head and added an unexpected layer of insight and depth that I didn’t know was coming. I didn’t set out to write the story that way, and that’s why writing this has been so darn fun.

Nor did I expect how eagerly you snatched up the book when it came out. You threw The Last Day to “Bestseller” status–thank you!

Best Selling Book 8 24 hours after release

I’m also happy to report that The Last Day is now available in paperback for $16.65, and for free on Smashwords. In fact, the ENTIRE SERIES is on Smashwords and for free!

I never expected to write this series, never expected to find so many new friends as readers, and never expected to have a little bit of success.

I guess being surprised every now and then is acceptable.

BOOK 8 “The Last Day” IS HERE!!! The final installment of “The Forest at the Edge” series

We made it, friends, to The Last Day!

But what is “The Last Day”? No one’s sure. Young Pere is finally on his way home, albeit with Lemuel Thorne prodding him along with a sword. Shem and Peto are trying to get everyone to the ancient temple site before General Thorne’s army arrives, but not everyone wants to go. A Deliverer is supposed to save the Salemites, a Destroyer is supposed to take care of the army, but they haven’t shown up yet. Mahrree’s become more stubborn than ever insisting on waiting for Perrin, and in the middle of everything Versula Thorne–Lemuel’s oldest daughter–thinks she can stop him. Are you ready?!

Clocking in at about 750 pages, this should keep you occupied for a few hours. You can get it in three ways:

1: Amazon download–priced at $.99, that’s .001 of a penny per page and tons of Kindle-gripping worry and finger-swiping adventure to end your summer right.

2: You can click here to read the entire thing as a pdf. on this website. Once again, I’m offering my book in a free format because I feel this story was “given” to me freely so I want to “share” it freely–literally. I will always offer all my books for free on my website because I’m merely a scribe for a much more creative Creator.

3: Good old-fashioned paperback, priced at $16.95 . It should be available later this week (always takes a few days to pop up on Amazon). Personally I love the feel of paper in my hands, and yes, ALL of my books have a paper component.

Boxed Sets?

I’ve had a number of readers ask for this, and I don’t know how to offer it. All of the books can be purchased as paperbacks, and I’ve designed the covers to have a uniform feel so they line up nicely on the shelf.

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(These are my “proof” copies, and the last two books still have all my notes sticking out. I showed Book 7’s notes to my students last year to demonstrate how with even half of dozen proofreaders, errors still show up in the printed copy.)

But as for an actual box to put them in? I haven’t yet found an online source that can do it for me.

So I may just have to order boxes, cut and tape them to the right size, decorate them myself, and send them out to you if you purchase all eight books and ask me for a box. Hey, at least each box will be unique and a potential collector’s item, right? I’m still working on the design, but markers will surely play a part in it.

And maybe some stickers from the dollar store.

I’m all about quality.

Book8AD

Share this with your friends, let me know what you think of the ending, and be assured that I’m already working on preliminary notes for the prequel. It may be “the last day,” but the story is far from over.

The worth of battered books, and us (plus a sneak peek into Book 8)

I woke up dreaming of a battered book. I’d been thumbing through it and wincing that poor-quality sticky notes had left yellow squares on pages, along with what I suspected was coffee or soda splotches. And that brown smear? Oh, I hoped it was chocolate.

I sighed in frustration. Not that long ago the book was brand new, but it had suffered from living in a student’s backpack for a few months.

The dream was so vivid probably because I recently went through my classroom novels and grumbled that books which I had purchased at the beginning of the year were now filthy and being held together by . . . sheer determination?

But the words that went through my mind as I woke from my dream were, “So what? The words are still readable, the story still wonderful. It’s worth isn’t lessened because the book’s been misused.

Abused text

I’ve met a lot of people who have been treated horribly, yet have beautiful stories to tell, maybe because of the mistreatment. They hold together through sheer determination, which makes them even more valuable.

 

Young Pere scoffed quietly. “I know what you’re suggesting, but who would want someone like me? After all I’ve done and been through?”

“No one’s perfect, Young Pere. Everyone has less-than-impressive moments. We all hope someone will forgive us of those moments and let us move on. Could you love someone who made mistakes in their past but feels about them now the way you feel about yours?

He pondered that. “I think . . . I think I could.”

~Book 8–The Last Day–coming Summer 2018

BOOK 6, “Flight of the Wounded Falcon” IS HERE! Get it 3 ways (one is free)!

Book 6, Flight of the Wounded Falcon is ready! And you can get it three ways:

  1. Kindle download, click right here. Priced at 99 cents, that means you’re paying only, umm  . . . well, hardly anything per the 240,000 words. (This is why I majored in English, not math.)
  2. Paperback, on CreateSpace for now, but will be on Amazon by the end of the week. Click here to purchase for $14.85. That’s the cheapest I can price it, but even then per page that’s only . . . well, still not a bad price for 665 pages.
  3. PDF download, FREE right here. Yes, as I’ve written before, I want to provide my books for as cheap as possible or even free. So every book I publish is also always available on my site here under “Start Reading the Books.” (That’s misleading because you can also finish reading the books there as well.) I feel these stories have been freely shared with me, and so I freely share them with you.
    The only catch is that you cannot profit on them by trying to resell them. I’m not profiting either: I earn only a handful of pennies on each book I sell, and donate 100% of that to charity.

SO GO GET IT! Read it! Then let me know what you think, because I love to hear from you. (And for now, I’m going to take a small break and a big breath.)

Book 6 is HERE

All of this is such a strange, strange process. Every time I publish a book I collapse in relief. Sections of this particular book I drafted eight long years ago (the very first images of this series came to me almost a decade ago), and to see yet another branch of it finished is overwhelming.

Back when I first tried drafting this “short story” I wondered if I’d ever get all of it out there, birthed and living. (Books are alive, we all know that.) Every night I’d send the drafts I had written to my email, terrified that all of the work I’d accomplished would be lost. (Then I discovered Dropbox and my email became tidier.) Still, the larger this series grew, the more I fretted that I’d never get it all done. But now it’s 6/8 finished (pretty sure that’s 3/4–I have some math skills) and books 7 and 8 are rarin’ at the gates, desperate to be done as well. They’re well developed, nearly mature, but still suffering from a few growing pains that we’ll work out, no doubt.

But writing is such an odd process in that it’s so involving of one’s entire heart and soul, yet no one outside knows it.

Writing (drafting, editing, researching, formatting, editing, reformatting, editing) is a completely consuming endeavor done solely, quietly, alone-ly (that really should be a word; and no, I don’t mean lonely–there’s absolutely nothing lonely about this). The triumphs of getting this aspect fixed or that part done happens without any fanfare, without cheering crowds, without even a ding of congratulations from my laptop. This past week I mentioned to my kids that after 50 hours I got the covers right and formatting issues resolved, and they said, “Good job!” in the same way I’d say it to my 13-year-old when he tells me something he accomplished on Space Engineers. Clueless, but kind.

My family has no idea when I’ve just killed someone or just saved them. No one in the real world sees the process beyond the tapping at the keyboard. When I go walking with my earbuds in, no one I pass realizes the trials and torments I’m currently putting my characters through, and that I’m walking to help them out again. That the music I hear and the scenes in my mind are anything but as quiet and calm as the mountains before me. I’m striding through battles, I’m walking through heartache, I’m sauntering through celebrations, I’m meandering through joy.

Oh, how I wish you could be with me for every step of the way! For the moments I stop suddenly and exclaim, “I didn’t see that coming!” For the times when my fingers leave the keyboard to make fists that I punch in the air in triumph, either for a character or for myself, because I finally–finally–got something right after spending hours a day, day after day, early in the morning, late at night, or while I’m waiting for the water to boil for dinner. The wins happen about twice a month, about once every 90 hours. But oh, what fantastic wins!

But no one else sees this. No one else knows the schizophrenia of a writer’s mind, how we’re juggling a variety of realities all at once, and often struggle to be in the real one at the correct time. No wonder so many writers are unstable. No wonder so many frequently drink. (Since I’m a Mormon I resort to chocolate chips.)

No wonder so many people give up, or don’t even start that book that picks daily at their brains, begging to be let out, but doesn’t tell the brain how to release it. It’s maddening, like looking at a pile of wood, drywall, wire, pipes, and shingles, and told to make it into a house but you’re not given any plans, any diagrams, no idea how it should look in the end. Why would anybody take on such an endeavor?!

But oh, those materials are just sitting there, with so much potential, so many possibilities that you just can’t walk away, just can’t pretend it’s not there, especially when God repeatedly turns you around and gently pushes you back to the pile. You just HAVE to start sorting the two-by-fours, laying out the framework, again and again and again, until something really interesting starts to happen. You’ll destroy it and remake it a hundred times over until you realize you’ve given it your all and you have to let someone come wander in what you’ve created. You cringe the whole time they do, because you’ve spent years on this, building and fixing and tossing and adding, and you know there’s still more that could be done, but it’s time to let someone else into that massive and complex structure you had no idea you could build, but suddenly here it is.

And you step away, hold your breath, and let everyone in, all the while glancing around and mumbling, “Did I really do this? Is it all holding together?” You tense, waiting for the criticisms that are sure to come, and the praises you know you don’t deserve, until you realize you didn’t do it for those words. You didn’t even do it for yourself, although you wrote the books you’ve always wanted to read. But you did it for those characters, to let them live their lives, to let their world exist, and if they’re happy with what you’ve fleshed out for them, then who cares what anyone else thinks.

And then you wonder, “Can I possibly do it again? There’s another pile of material, right there, pleading to be put together, but do I have it in me to do it all again?”

Oh, yes, God willing, you have to! Because this is life, why you were born, and what you’ve waited thousands of years to accomplish, and it’d be unthinkable to quit.

On book 6, planes, and the best friends you don’t remember at the airport

Random thoughts, in no particular order:

#1: Book 6 went out to my beta readers last week, which means it’s well on track to be revised and released by (hopefully) May 2017!

#2: I’m going on a plane Wednesday morning for the first time since 2003, when I had a genuine panic attack upon take-off. So if you hear on the news of anyone melting down on a flight on to Philadelphia, just roll your eyes and say, “Lemme guess . . .”

#3: I sat for six hours at the airport yesterday morning, (I’ve been going there a lot lately) thanks to the inefficiency of the US army, and was fascinated to think of how many people passed by me for the first time, and the only time, on this earth. A man from India repacked his bag next to us and chatted with my son about serving in the military. Some folks on the other side of us were in town from Chicago for the Sundance Film Festival. A snowboard team waited forever to check their boards.

As I watched people parade by–some looking as disoriented as I usually do in the airport, some appearing to be well-traveled experts–I was almost struck with the notion of touching each person (except there were too many TSA agents around), wondering just how far those folks would go, and if our paths might ever cross again.

The lady with the high heel boots and the Yorkie tucked under her arm.
The mom with three kids who each hefted their own bags and followed her obediently.
The grandpa walking arm-in-arm with his teenage grandson who was flying for the first time.
The lady in the bathroom who called her friend in a panic because the car rental agency didn’t want to give her a Ford Mustang because she would be driving through snowy mountain passes, but told her she’d be better off in a Jeep Cherokee, and only after her friend assured her that was an excellent idea did she relent.

Where do they all come from, and where will they all go? Will I ever see any of them again in this life?

I believe that before we were born, we all knew each other intimately. We had hung around together for at least thousands of year, if not eons.

But birth is, as Wordsworth reminds us, “but a sleep and a forgetting,” and every time I’m in such a crowd, I wonder that if we were all allowed to remember what we meant to each other once before, if we wouldn’t stare in astonishment and embrace in excitement. 

I can’t help imagine that we wouldn’t hurry past each other, or grow impatient with someone slower ahead who is clearly inept (my apologies already to my fellow travelers on Wednesday), but that we would shriek for joy that finally–FINALLY!–we found each other again.

Occasionally I’ve experienced, when I first meet someone, a flare of recognition, a heart-leap of, “There you are!” I know that person, already, and am getting the opportunity to know them again on earth. But that’s happened for me only a handful of times.

The rest of the time, we barely make eye contact as we hurry from one place to another, engaged with one important task or another. Maybe we exchange a friendly smile as we negotiate a line, and we’ll sit next to each other on the plane oblivious to the notion that perhaps this was once one of our greatest friends, and will be once again after we “wake up and remember.”

And that’s the best part: I’m confident that in the next life we all will recognize each other again, and trade notes about where we were and when in our mortal experiences, and discover that once, our paths did cross in a busy airport on a bleak day in January.

But something burned in Perrin’s heart. It caught him so much by surprise that he almost gasped. He took the boy’s face in his hands, because something was so familiar about that moment, about that face . . . He had seen this before.

~Book 6, to be released in late spring 2017

Reading is bad for you.

Shockingly, it’s not.

Reading is a waste of time. Hazards of reading. Drawbacks of reading.

I  Googled these phrases and many others, trying to see prove reading is a bad thing. I’ve been feeling guilty lately about how much time I spend reading, and writing stuff to read, and reading about people reading, and reading about people writing . . .

(Fortunately I have an internal switch that goes off at 4:30pm and says, “Where are your children? Have you thought about dinner?” And I momentarily think, Wait—I have other responsibilities? That switch also goes off at about 11:30pm telling me to go to bed. Sometimes I get it confused with the buzzing sound my keyboard makes when I’m drooling on it.)

But I couldn’t find anything serious or thoughtful that warned against reading.

So you know what that means? There’s nothing guilty about the “guilty pleasure” of being stuck in a book!

I stumbled across this wonderful piece by former BYU professor Richard H. Cracroft, giving all of us book-nerds more reasons to be anti-social. He lists 5 blessings that come from reading, so the next time you feel guilty about reading or writing, remember—you’re just getting blessings.

cracroft 1

 

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cracroft 3

 

cracroft 4

 

cracroft 5