Project A

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projectA

Welcome to Velvet, Arizona.

Within these notebooks are my notes, rough scenes, and research for what I’m calling Project A. A stands for anonymous, as in the mysterious creatures that haunt Velvet  every holiday season. We’ve all heard the stories…things seen in the dark, the wild–creatures that have been witnessed among a broad swath of cultures but elude us just enough to deem them as fables.

Some “fabled” creatures are unique to certain regions. In Velvet, there’s a question as to whether the people are as unusual as the creatures.

Although this story contains fictional characters and scenes, everything within it is based on truth.

Truth #1:

–The creatures I’m exposing in Project A leave footprints within the shadows of every town, every culture, every religion, every acedemic instution.

Truth #2:

–Because of the overactive nervous system of 15-20% of the world’s population, there are people who truly sense things beneath the surface. Of what? Follow along and you’ll see. I will identify the science/sources in the back of the upcoming novel.

Truth #3:

–There’s been a breach.

 

For the first time since I’ve began writing, I’m going to bring you guys along on the story as I compose. Although I have the ideas above in my head beforehand, I’m a pantser at heart, which means I figure most of it out as I write. For further enrichent of the process, and for just plain fun, follow along and feel free to comment with your own experiences/thoughts as I unravel the mystery of Project A.

Blessings, Thank You, and Happy Thursday to you!!

Hello From the Shadows

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I keep finding myself another few months from my last blog post, wondering if I’m in an alternate universe where time mocks all my efforts to get back to writing.

How many of you have day jobs? You probably go through seasons where you’re understaffed, overworked and coming away with a paycheck that doesn’t reflect the energy/family time you’ve sacrificed to “fill in.”

Well, my season of overworking has been much like hitchhiking on a turtle. It keeps going and going at a painfully unproductive pace. I need a wormhole, friends.

However, the time I’ve had away from writing has blossomed with new ideas. I’m considering switching gears to enter the general market. My current genre of faith-based speculative fiction has been fulfilling, but it’s a genre so obscure that I’m not connecting with enough of a readership.

I want to write more real-world, living-this-hard-life themes while keeping the undeniable magic. I have ideas for fiction and one non-fiction.
Thank you all, for your patience and for sticking with me. In this fast-paced world where our attention spans are compared to that of goldfish, you guys are highly valued.

As a thank you—that I’m only alerting those reading my blog—I’m offering the kindle version of ILLUME for FREE, today only. So far, readers consider it my best work and the best of the series. If you’re a tactile person it’s also in paperback now, yay!

I’ll be back, taking you along on my research journey, soon! Happy Tuesday!

Hope for the Gifted

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Leonardo Da Vinci had an extraordinary mind, surpassing his teachers not by his gifts alone, but because he stepped outside of what was considered normal methods of learning. When he realized something wasn’t fully understood such as the lighting effects in a composition, he would go outside and study light obsessively; how the sun hit every curve of a flower, how the shadows changed shape throughout the day and how reflections could cause shadows to become tinged with color.

 

Genius he was, although I can’t help but think he would have been thought a misfit by today’s standards. He is thought to have had ADHD which came with a whole bag of differences: procrastination, the inability to finish many projects, obsessiveness, etc.

 

While taking an unusual amount of time to finish his masterpiece The Last Supper, the Church Prior became frustrated with Da Vinci’s procrastination and complained to Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan, that “He wanted him never to lay down his brush, as if he were a laborer hoeing the Prior’s garden.”

 

Da Vinci responded that he was having trouble finding a model for Judas, and he would use the prior’s image if he continued to hound him.

 

How many artist-types here are nodding their heads in agreement? It’s hard, isn’t it, when your mind doesn’t work the way traditions demand?

 

Not long ago, my kids’ school had to be saved from prior-like, small-town corruption. Technically, it’s a city, but town sounds homier. Homier like a good ol’ boys club. Seriously, it was like living through a Hallmark movie—the X-Men version. I say that because the town is ordinary but our school is not.

 

It’s a charter school with an emphasis on literacy and the arts. It’s also the place pediatricians point to when a parent is trying to find a school that will accept children on the spectrum. The school doesn’t “handle” special kids, they help them thrive. We’re also a blue ribbon school—some would call it a mixed bag of misfits, others, the gifted.

 

It’s a long and complicated story, but in a paragraph, the town sued the school repeatedly, trying to demand an amount of money no school could afford and keep its doors open. We won—all six times. After the sixth time, the judge told the town to leave us alone. But again, another threat to sue. The town spewed a lot of words about violations: lack of legitimate parking spaces, a water main issue—all of which was hyperbole. We didn’t know the true motivation of the town, but we saw plenty of evidence pointing to a complete lack of understanding in regards to the big picture.

 

We filled the town hall and the introvert that I am sat in a perfectly-rowed seat as parent after teacher pleaded to our new Mayor.

 

Would he recognize our children’s superpowers or tell us to hoe the Prior’s garden like subservient citizens?

 

A former student sat in front of us. He’s in high school now, on the spectrum, and was promptly filed into the Special Ed program. I don’t believe they really understand people like him, but our elementary school of the gifted did.

 

They saw him—from a beginning student struggling to read to a young man speaking at his eighth grade graduation. He’s a world champion in karate. He offers himself as a human punching bag in a local women’s self-defense class.

 

Stories such as this were poured forth from the mouths of those who were tired of priors telling them they had to fall into a mold they weren’t made for. Tired of the attempts to bully them into closing because we all knew no other local school valued artists and the gifted like they do.

 

With all the gratefulness in me, I can say the new Mayor is our Ludovico Sforza who, when the prior was threatened to be painted as Judas when he chided Da Vinci about being too slow, “was moved to wondrous laughter, saying that Leonardo had a thousand reasons on his side.”

 

A thousand reasons on our side. That’s how it is for us, friends, when we need to step away from the mold.

 

“When Leonardo was summoned by the duke, they ended up having a discussion of how creativity occurs. Sometimes it requires going slowly, pausing, even procrastinating. That allows ideas to marinate, Leonardo explained. Intuition needs nurturing. “’Men of lofty genius sometimes accomplish the most when they work the least,’” he told the duke, “’ for their minds are occupied with their ideas and the perfection of their conceptions, to which they afterwards give form.’” Leonardo Da Vinci by Walter Isaacson.

 

My friends, thank you for your continued support. If you like art like I do, and fiction with amazing youth, here is my gift to you: Wake is free. When finished, scroll past the chapters to the back matter where you’ll find a link for the next book, Wild, for free.

Happy Wednesday.

 

 

The Honor of Us

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My son was born a protector. When he was just two we found ourselves in front of an animatronic crocodile at the Rainforest Café. He shot an arm in front of his older sister and told her, “Back, Sissy, back!” He was the baby of the family and we hadn’t yet taught him to look out for his loved ones, but something within him came alive when the need arose.

He’s been fighting health problems since birth—could it be he learned to have a warrior spirit early on, or is the politically incorrect idea true that men are natural protectors? I have to say, I’ve noticed a great decline in male protectiveness over the years…cultural influences may have something to do with this. What do you think…nature or nurture?

I’m a 125 pound part-time security guard. Having said that, I guard the elderly at a retirement resort. My job mainly consists of desk work/people work, but when a security issue arises, I’m the one, or my partner working the far side of the building. When I first started working in the security department, I got a lot, and I mean a LOT of comments/jokes about being a guard looking as I do. I worked out, and still do, but six-pack abs and the ability to run laps around most people didn’t matter to the WWII generation. They wanted MEN in the department, even if they were old, fifty pounds out of shape and couldn’t lap the desk if they tried. Men, to them, are the soldiers and the protectors, always and forevermore.

Do you know when I became a soldier? Always. I grew up in the country, surrounded by cactus and boys. I went to a small country school where many of the girls were equally as tough and I had to learn how to defend myself at an early age. The staff turned a blind eye to most playground violence. I punched my first face when I was in fifth grade. In that environment, I learned not to rely on anyone else to protect me, and I’m grateful I learned that when I did.

My biggest advantage, ALWAYS, has been that people don’t expect someone who looks like me, and who is an introvert like me to even have the will to lift my fist.

Not that I don’t know my limits. I mean, I’ve punched faces, forcefully detached too-friendly men and have lifted more retirees off the floor than I can count, but when it comes to the more heavy lifting at work I call my friend—the guy– with all the muscles. I appreciate him, and acknowledge that he has a biological advantage over me in that arena.

Women, until recently, have been the main protectors of babies. This is, without a doubt, a cultural change because I’ve walked the pregnancy road, given birth, and am quite willing to rip anyone’s head off who would try to harm my children. Fact—like my son, from something deep and fierce inside me. Something too ancient to name.

But there are these hurt voices that say women haven’t been appreciated enough, or valued enough and we need to demand respect once and for all. I get it. There is much truth in this. I’ve been disrespected in many ways, including being a called “skinny, weak woman” at the exact time I was lifting my accuser off the floor.

The problem is, I’m hearing these voices about not letting disrespectful attitudes determine a woman’s identity from women who are doing exactly that.

Pregnancy and motherhood are no joke. It’s incredibly difficult—painful in all kinds of ways and I’ve had to put aside many projects I’ve felt passionate about to change diapers, attend field trips, and care for a flu-ridden child. I’ve had to neglect my own health/career/sleep to care for my children.

Isn’t that what a warrior does? When my son put himself in front of his sister, he was allowing the perceived danger to get to him first. When soldiers—real soldiers—fight for our country, they’re risking it ALL to protect us.

That is not a right, it’s an honor. It is complete selflessness.

Ladies, our wombs aren’t showcases for burdens, they are armor. Our biological advantage. God chose us to carry children when they are at their weakest, most vulnerable state. We are chosen to carry all those future Presidents and Doctors and Artists. Every Influencer, every Teacher, every Athlete, every Overcomer. We are their first shield.

When I see women marching for the right to remove children from their wombs, I don’t see virtue. I don’t see strength, I don’t see courage or liberation. I see an army of women hiding behind a political banner of fear.

We’ve been through too many battles to lose our honor, ladies. We have to be stronger than the leaders attempting to manipulate us into thinking we’re fighting for what’s right when all we’re doing is discarding the people who need us the most. The people whose voices we can’t hear. This is a cultural change that is not okay—it’s infanticide.
It’s okay to be afraid, but our army of protectors is dividing, which will eventually lead to the destruction of our nation. This isn’t an exaggeration. Take a good look at the state of our nation right now. Men, women, children. We are meant to be one united team.

This Little Light

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At the gym a few days ago, I took to the last available treadmill and started my usual run. For some reason, I’ve been dragging this month—the cloudy skies, maybe? The chronic lack of a full night’s sleep? More than likely, I’m just run down from a rough year but determined to stay in shape, I was going to do my full 3ish miles.
To my left, a man about a head shorter than I increased his running speed to keep up with me. A competitor, I see. I tried not to giggle as his short legs had to take twice the amount of steps than mine to run a moderate 5.8 METS.
But he worked hard. No matter his motivation, my humor quickly turned to admiration. How many of us feel like the best we can do is to take one step forward, three steps back to keep up with our goals—that we can’t run hard enough to catch them? Can all the strugglers raise their hand?
But this guy, he kept pumping those legs, working almost twice as hard as I did to meet the same stats.
It was the perfect picture of 2018, where almost every circle I belong to are in survival mode–battle-weary from an unusual amount of trials this past year, almost like a surge of darkness is engulfing our nation. I once read about a pastor writing about a season of higher suicide rates in his hometown directly related to the increase of occult influences. It makes me think of the happenings of this year: is there a fiercer battle going on that we can’t see?
Perhaps God is on the move for something big and the darkness is trying to keep us behind it.
Sometimes I think the trials of 2018 have kept me from running hard enough, although God is merciful, even when our best effort is minuscule. He sees us trying.
But that small man next to me, this giant of a competitor ran like there was an ember right in front of him that promised to light his world if he worked hard enough to reach it—even if his struggle was more difficult than it was for others.
So let’s keep going with all we’ve got, even if we have to drag ourselves along the path. Because my friends…..

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5

For all of our Furiosas

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How are you handling your world in the middle of the turkey and pine tree?
Thanksgiving brought news to me that a good friend had passed away. Her name was Louise, aka Furiosa in the writing community.
I met her in Bible study where we discovered we had a mutual love for writing. It only seemed reasonable that she would join my writers group a town away where we traveled every second Saturday for some critique, encouragement and lunch. Often, a third friend joined us.
Really, it was the 45 minute car rides that were the best. We took off our Mom badges and discussed things like, ok–parenting, stories, ghosts, God and how God and ghosts can be used in the same sentence.
It’s also where she told me about her heart failing some years ago. She passed through to the heavenly realm, woke up in a dark room glowing, and started walking toward God when she was resuscitated.
Yes, God. To be clear, The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Father of Jesus.
She then recounted her battle with breast cancer and chemo—how she broke down in an airport when she was asked to remove her hat, and from the corner of the bathroom where she ran, a housekeeper pulled her aside and told her she “has to be like Peter on the water, keeping your eyes on Jesus.”
As our friendship grew, we, along with another friend, planned a trip to a writers conference where we were expected to bring a costume for the rewards banquet. But shortly before we were to leave for Philly, my friend learned that her cancer had not only returned, but it had spread throughout her whole body. Bones, spine, and all.
Her response was to keep her eyes on Jesus. She endured her first round of chemo and set off for the second hand store where she threw a costume together with a handful of random items. Having  paid for the conference months ahead of time, she decided she wasn’t going to waste a moment. And she had this story inside her that she needed help getting onto the page.
She walked into the awards banquet as bald and bold as Furiosa the warrior. By now, everyone knew of her battle. When they saw her, jaws dropped, cameras were pulled out to record what a true warrior looked like.
Louise came home and endured the kind of pain no one wants to, and several more rounds of chemo. Armed with the kind of faith only those who’ve had a glimpse of heaven have, she conquered that cancer, regained her strength and poured herself into life. God, family, writing, hiking. Breathing.
After her heart failed a second time, the Lord took her home Thanksgiving week. From what I understand, it was in the midst of joyous family time.
It’s hard to interpret the conclusion to such unexpected loss after such marvelous victory. She never got to finish that book she was working so hard on. But as I look over her life as I knew her, the words spoken about her and the picture I have in my memories of her, I realize that she did indeed tell the world her most powerful story.
We should closely consider the lives of those who have had early visits to the afterlife, and what Louise did was to pursue the will of God, and lived—really, fully lived—every moment, even in the painful center of difficulty, knowing the reward  waiting for her when her time came.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy that was set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

ILLUME

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My friends!

I have more to say than just this, and I’ll be back next week with some encouragement, but as I’m in between writing and the Son’s karate lessons, I’ll leave you with this today.

I finally finished the third book in the City of Light series. Here are the first two paragraphs which you don’t want to read unless you’ve read the other two. By the way, WAKE (#1) is permanently free on Barnes and Noble. Here.

 

 

He stands in a cloud of ash, his long hair ruddy and dry at the ends like wild grasses blown by seasons of wind. His eyes are slivers of rich bark, his arms browned by colonies of freckles. A cord of stones hangs from his neck, and although no ghosts materialize from its powers, he captures my attention like a specter from my past—the man I think is my father.
I tug my shirt over my mouth to keep the fire residue from choking me and take one step toward him. Nearly as large as Luke, he places a thick hand over his heart, and if I didn’t know better, I’d say stars slipped into his eyes from the remains of night just to shine on me. He smiles with closed lips, a near perfect reflection of the way my mother smiled when I woke each morning. You’d think they’d had a whole lifetime together sharing a smile like that. I can’t imagine why she never told me about him.

 

The link for ILLUME is here. I hope you love it–it’s for you, after all.

Happy Wednesday, and see you soon!

 

 

I’m Back With a Tour of the Mythic Kind

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Hello, my friends! It’s been awhile, yes? I was busy getting #3 finished (due out November), thinking about reigniting the blog when someone from my clan of speculative fiction writers organized this tour. One of the most fascinating parts of writing speculative fiction (some with faith-based themes) is encountering fellow book lovers who ask, “fantasy (or science fiction, paranormal, etc) stories written by Christians? Can you do that? Is that a thing?”

You bet your parting-of-the-Red Sea it is.

C.O. Bonham is my guest today, talking about her short story contribution “Recalled.”

 

Rewriting “Recalled.”

My short story contribution to Mythic Orbit’s volume two has an interesting history.

The Left Behind craze was well underway before I ever decided to write a thing. But the series concluded while I was in high school. I had read it and loved it and we were doing an end times bible study in Sunday school.

Now for the sketchy part. I can not remember who said it. It may have been a person at my church, it might have been someone on TV or radio. I know that someone said, “Thanks to Left Behind clarifying Revelation, we can safely assume that Star Trek will never happen.” That is not an exact quote by the way.

Whoever said it, it instantly got my gears turning. “Recalled from the Red Planet was going to be an epic novel of the tribulation set on Mars. It would rival Left Behind’s number one best seller status, because everything is better on Mars.

I wrote three chapters. Three really bad chapters. Every line of Dialog was followed by, “he said.” Or worse, “he said excitedly.” Three chapters leading up to the Anti Christ arriving on Mars to take over the planet.

Right, as soon as I realized that he would never leave Earth, how this man (named Six in three different languages) could easily force Mars to come to him, I gave up. It sat on my computer for years. Survived a computer crash and a file purge, until 2017 when Travis Perry began accepting submissions for a Christian speculative fiction anthology called Mythic Orbits 2.

I was scrolling through my files looking for something to submit. I saw that old file. Opened it. Read it. Cringed. I thought, “this will never be a novel. But it could be a short story.”

I deleted a lot. Rewrote everything. Cut, added, and edited. Submitted.

Travis tore it in half. He wanted me to cut almost half the words. After I had already cut the plot to the bones. I didn’t think I could do it. I had already cut the love interest to two paragraphs. Then it hit me. This was not the same story I had started in high school. They were going back to Earth. And Once on Earth, it was just Left Behind all over again.

Love interest? Gone. Cleverly named Anti-Christ? Gone. Impassioned speeches? Ineffective in a world with one possible outcome. The return and triumph of Jesus Christ.

In the end, Revelation did not prevent Star Trek. It is the reason Star Trek failed.

C.O. Bonham is the pen name for a commonly misspelled first name. When she isn’t writing stories of her own she is busy reading stories by others. She loves stories of all sorts but really likes the ones that are weird, or outside the norm. A home school graduate with a degree in creative writing, her goal is to create stories that make people think, feel, and have fun.

Get Mythic Orbits 2016 HERE

Get Mythic Orbits Volume 2 HERE

Pause

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Good Tuesday to you, friends!

Spring is creeping inside Arizona, which I’m LOVING! For those of you still battling winter in the east, I’m thinking about you, and hoping some blossoms and warmth are headed your way.
Right now, I’m in the middle of spring break with the family which has presented a very good picture of reality for me. I need to finish my book before the minions are out of school for the summer. So I’ll be taking a bit of time off from the blog before summer blasts me with a lot of heat and noise.
Aaaannd…I’ll finally be working on a long overdue newsletter for those of you who have signed up. For quick updates, check in on my facebook page, otherwise–I’ll see you at the completion of my first draft of ILLUME.
Loves and hugs!

Monster Hunting

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Who is this monster everyone keeps talking about? I mean, it shoots up our schools, it ravages our kids with staggeringly high rates of depression and anxiety, and it has families running for cover.
I found myself ridiculed the other day when discussing the monster. My crime? I send my kids straight into battle aka public (charter) school. Before you read on or move on, this is not a public school vs. home school blog. It’s about our mission field.


Not everyone is called to the same mission field. As far as schooling goes, sometimes we have the liberty to orchestrate our kid’s education, sometimes we have little choice, but right now as parents argue on social media about the “right” way to protect our kids and to give them the best education, there are young feet walking within the mouths of the monsters’ jaws.
My two are there. Yes, they’ve dealt with bullies, they’ve had classmates whose families couldn’t afford to feed them all three meals, they’ve dealt with the privileged (interpret that as you will), played with kids who go home to single parents, etc. Many of these kids are pretty great, and their teachers are as well– teachers who care—and they receive a very well-rounded education, better than I could give them which is one reason why they attend school away from home.
A few years ago, a former student almost shot up their school. Thankfully, some brave people were proactive in stopping it before it happened. Is this terrifying? Of course.
They also get exposed to all those things the rest of us did: bad language, topics way to mature for their ages, poor examples. Yes, I send them into this, but they don’t go in alone.
Recently, my daughter told a friend about Jesus. Yes, right inside the monster’s playground, she said the J word. When she learns of a classmate’s hardship or family troubles, she prays for them (the power of prayer, friends). Where would this help be without kids of faith to know who/what to specifically pray for?
My son reminds others that Jesus still heals. And he’s shown forgiveness—maybe more than some kids would see if all parents of faith decided to do a mass extraction of their children.
When my kids make their own mistakes, they see the effects, and get the opportunity to learn from them firsthand. Christians screw up plenty, I know, that’s why we love the Great Forgiver.
Just to be clear, this is not a billboard against homeschooling—because there are certainly good reasons for choosing that direction—this is just a message for those who deny support to those called in the other direction.
So yes, some will criticize this viewpoint, regardless. But who would rather they got on their knees and prayed for our youth? Parents send their kids into this battleground every day. Thank goodness. Public school is not a thing to hide from—it’s a mission field. Parents—our kids can’t easily band together when they see us constantly fighting over our differences of opinions. Distraction is dangerous.
Bless those praying from home, and those still walking the halls.

Here’s a little tidbit from the generation who constantly receives criticism.

Millennials crave relationship, to have someone walking beside them through the muck. We are the generation with the highest ever percentage of fatherless homes…We’re looking for mentors who are authentically invested in our lives and our future. If we don’t have real people who actually care about us, why not just listen to a sermon from the couch?Sam Eaton

 

Who lives in Arizona? Fancy a trip to Tuscon this weekend? I’ll be at the Tuscon Festival of Books on March 10th, 2:30-4:30, in the Indie Pavilion on the U of A campus. I’ll be signing copies of WAKE, WILD, and I might just be doing a giveaway of ILLUME, the third book in the City of Light Series due out this fall.