Naming My Characters In Subterra

Courtesy GLady via Pixababy

Courtesy GLady via Pixababy

I’m working on a new dystopian book set in the underground world of Subterra. (Not sure if that’s the title yet.) It’s a system of underground catacombs playing fallout shelter for a new kind of society. It will have its own levels of upper, middle, & lower class citizens with room for promotion and demotion. There will also be some interesting synthetic fashion trends, thriving nightlife since it’s always night there, and a totally revamped political system. (As if there’s anything new under the sun.)

So exciting! Except, I need your help naming some of my characters.  Check out the polls below to tell me what you think.

Letha MangaMain Character – Heroine Name

16-17, oldest sister, working for advancement up the level system of Subterra

Jenna Manga

Major Character – Heroine’s Sister’s Name

14-15, younger sister, trying to fit in and ride her sister’s coattails

Dar PicMajor Character – Best Friend

16-17, exotic newcomer, unique and little rebellious


If you have other ideas please do tell! I’m all ears, digitally at least. :)

Fitzgerald Road Quote

Some fitting encouragement to brighten your day. This quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald really spoke to me as I start brainstorming for a new project this week.

Why a new book? Because my release date has been pushed back. So I’ve decided to move on to one of the great ideas I’ve been saving up for a rainy day—a dystopian novel about two sisters, a futuristic society, and a massive underground fallout shelter.

I’ve already had tons of fun hashing out ideas for my next novel. We’re still working on tough-sounding character names over on my Facebook author page. Plus, I had a fabulous coffee date with my brainstorming buddy. It’s funny how much gets accomplished on a rainy day.

Have you experienced a setback recently, or found yourself redirected? Share your story and encourage the rest of us. :)

Bucket List: Watching the Royals Win a Playoff Game

Sammy Royals Wildcard WIN

Hubs in his rally hat & rally shirt cheering Royals 12th inning victory!

Another bucket list item checked off. My hometown baseball team finally won a playoff game last night! I’ve been a Royals fan since I was born. Some of my favorite memories as a kid were going to the games with my dad. That means I’ve waited 29 years for a Kansas City playoff win. But I never expected it to play out like it did–an exciting roller coaster ride ending in a walk-off in the 12th inning!

That was one of the most nerve-wracking, exhilarating games I’ve ever seen the Royals play. It started off with a 2-run homer in the 1st by the A’s. But we came right back with a run of our own. Phew! I could breathe again. Then a few innings later we scored two more runs. Yes, on top again! Except that’s when the comedy of errors kicked in, and this game turned all-too-true-to-life.

The manager tried a base-running trick with the slowest runner on our team. What? Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a Billy Butler fan. (I even made up a version of Louie, Louie to Billy, Billy.) But he’s not the guy to fool anyone in a rundown. Next thing I know our manager is taking out our starting pitcher, (the one the team acquired just to get to the playoffs), and putting in another starter to pitch relief. Who does that? The answer–no one! He gave up a monster 3-run homer and the A’s were winning again.

Yikes is right! My husband called it the definition of choking–doing something you don’t normally do on the off-chance it’ll pay off. How many times have I done that in my life? Too many to count.

The Royals did what I hope we all do when life gets us down–they stayed in the game. It was a grind to tie it up in the bottom of the 9th. One run here, one run there. But every run counted, every stolen base (7 total, tying a postseason record). And we made it to extra innings! (Thanks, Dyson!)

Some fabulous pitching by a rookie, along with players stepping up across the board, kept us in the game. When the A’s scored a run in the top of the 12th, the Royals didn’t act like it was over. They came right back with a triple by Hosmer, (the guy on my Royals shirt), a base hit by Colon to tie the game, and a hit by Salvy Perez to end the game.

It could’ve ended differently, but it didn’t. This hometown team wanted that victory–and they hung in there till they won it.

Kansas City Fountain Dyed Blue for Victory!

Kansas City Fountain Dyed Blue for Victory!

I wish life was like a team sport. In some ways it is. Even when I feel all alone here comes my husband, my mother, or my friend to pick me up, encourage me, and set me back on the right path. But I’m most thankful that I have a manager of my life who knows what He’s doing. :)

Can you relate to the Royals Wild Card victory? Me, too! So please share your thoughts with me, I’d love to read them. :)

George Brett via The Baseball Continuum


Confessions from An Author Event: 3 Surprising Secrets on Leaving Your Comfort Zone

Me & My Book Cover. Aren't we cute?

Me & My Book Cover at the Maranatha Book Fest. Aren’t we cute?

We all have a comfort zone don’t we? Some are just bigger than others. I confess, my zone of terror includes public speaking, sales, and bragging about myself. But that’s exactly what I had to do this weekend at my first author event. Now that I’ve lived to tell the tale, it’s time to pass along my survival secrets to you. Beware, some of them are surprising.

#1 Sometimes You Just Gotta Jump In

I know, sounds terrifying right? You better believe I was uber-nervous when my friend asked me to do a presentation on Angels in Young Adult Literature. My first author-related speaking engagement ever on a touchy subject like angels. Oh, my!  When they announced me as the next speaker, I think a literal brood of butterflies on Redbull waged war in my stomach.

When I walked up there I took the mic and just started talking about angels. I even had my handy visual aids from Kronk to help me calm down. And somehow, praise the Lord, I made it through.

#2 Keep Going When the Going Gets Bumpy

I’ll be the first to admit, my presentation didn’t go as planned. The crowd consisted mostly of kids younger than the upper-age teens that my book targets. In the middle I tried to simplify my talk and ended up rambling off of my notes. Super abnormal! Usually when I get nervous I talk too fast and buzz right through my points in one fell swoop. But my off-note rambling ended up earning more head nods than anything else. I guess that means sometimes you just have to trust yourself.

#3 No Matter How Much You Prepare, You’re Gonna Get Blindsided


Not quite what you were expecting, eh? Me either! I got blindsided three times after my presentation. First, I never expected so many questions from the kids. They were really interested in angels and had their own thoughts to add. Some of them were so off-the-wall funny I was glad I ventured out of my comfort zone.

Then I got waylaid by a “suggestion” on angel theology. While I’m the first to admit I’m no theologian, I did go to Bible college so I know a thing or two about what the good book has to say. This “tip” on angelolgy was something I never heard before, something I never came across in all of my research. Then my husband made a good point. You can do all your research, know your facts cold, and still someone comes up with something that stumps you. It happens all the time in job interviews. The good thing about my left-field stump? I went home and researched. Now I’m better prepared for next time.

The biggest surprise came from the bishop of the church hosting the event. He asked if I could work my presentation into an article for his denomination’s newsletter. That’s right! My first author event ended up leading to my first byline outside of college and this blog! (The article comes out in a few weeks and I’ll add a link when it’s live.)

I’m not saying don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone, because that’s silly. Of course you’ll be afraid. I’m saying do it anyway! No matter what happens you’ll gain experience. There were times it felt like I was crashing and burning, even failing. But that just means I’ll learn from my mistakes and do better next time. After all, no one does something exactly right the first time. It’s all about practice, baby!

Have you learned something you never thought you’d learn unless you left your comfort zone? I’d seriously love to hear all about it! :)

Kronk’s Shoulder Angel: Funny Take on Angel Theology

TGIF! Here’s a Fun Friday clip for you. Enjoy . . .

I’ve been asked to talk about angels in young adult literature at the Maranatha Book Fest this weekend. (My first author event! Can you stand it? :) ) Funny that one of the first images that popped into my mind was Kronk’s dilemma with his shoulder angel.

Do you think I can work this Disney take on angels into my presentation?

Because it’s media like this that has shaped our angel theology, right? Of course, it takes a lot more than a character like Kronk to influence our ideas about angels. But it’s a great image to get kids thinking about those winged messengers that save our bacon. (According to my new Tweep, Janice C. Johnson)

What images come to mind when you think about angels?
I’d love to hear from you.

9/11: I Remember

World Trade Center Towers view from the Empire State Building, 7/11/2000
World Trade Center Towers view from the Empire State Building, 7/11/2000

In my search for throwback pictures, I came across this photo that made me pause. This shot was taken from the Empire State building fourteen months before the tragedy of 9/11. I was a 16-year-old girl on a missions trip to NYC, marveling at the beauty of the Manhattan skyline. Not once did I imagine that skyline would change, that these buildings wouldn’t stand forever.

Fourteen months later I was in college, watching on TV as the second plane struck its tower. Classes were cancelled, an emergency chapel meeting called.  Even as I write this, I’m reliving the abject horror I felt, the tears I couldn’t contain. Not then, not now.

I wasn’t there on 9/11, but I was watching like the rest of America, the whole world really. I’ve only been to New York City once, fourteen months prior to 9/11.

And I still remember.