Snow and Fashion

It’s a Snow Day. As you can see, there’s not much on the ground, but it’s Arizona. So school was delayed, my blog was delayed, and well…I’m going to have a guilt-free week off.

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But before you go, who likes t-shirts? Who likes symbolic t-shirts? Rook Publishing (Faith Seekers) set this up on Zazzle. Go take a look, and have a GREAT week- before-Thanksgiving week!

P.S. This is my favorite:

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The Blessed Unglamorous

Since my earliest days of sitting in front of the keyboard, I can’t help but notice the romanticized ideas people hold about writers. I suppose gifted photographers are partially to blame…they’re good at making writers look brilliant, focusing on the horizon while pondering the ways of the world and the next great novel.

Hollywood, of course, has convinced the world that writers are all rich, eccentric and live in Hemingway-esque log cabins.

When my first book was published, I got snubbed by a few friends and co-workers. They assumed I had hit the big time and would become a distant memory, too good to hang out with the struggling class. One of them confessed to me later that in 20150817_084722realizing one of my dreams I reminded him of the ones he hadn’t reached yet.

My favorite reaction to all of this is that of Stephen King. When speaking to aspiring authors, he started out by saying, “I’m just a guy.”

So before answering a few questions people have asked me about being an author, I’ll be completely honest and say, “I’m just a gal.”

How much money do you make?
I could say something about manners here, but here we go. I might have been able to buy a pair of pants with my very first royalty check. A happy meal with the second.
To be honest, most writers have day jobs. I’ll say that again, with no exaggeration—most writers have day jobs. “But your novel became a bestseller.” Still working the day job. So we are indeed, part of the struggling class.

Why didn’t you give me a free copy of your book?
Refer to the above question. When I published The Miracle of Rain, I didn’t even get my own free copy. For book signings, I have to buy the books before I can sell them. I’m not rich—as much as I would love to give copies to every friend and family member, I can’t afford it—a box of books costs several hundred dollars. I did get one free copy of Faith Seekers (from the awesome Rook Publishing), but if I want to sell copies in person, I still have to buy them first—so do other authors.

What is your real job?
Our educational system is to blame for this question. Any career in the arts is often thought of as a hobby. Not so. Talent or not, writing is a lot of hard work—it’s a skill, and a very difficult one to master. Being a good English student in college doesn’t pave the way to becoming an author. I learned most of what I know from my writers group, from reading, and studying/researching a lot. Like any education, it’s an investment.
Writing is my real job. But career is a better word for it.

Where do you get your ideas?
Various places. Sometimes from life experience, sometimes from watching/listening to interesting people. Prayer. The idea for Faith Seekers popped into my head like a painting. A single visual image (while doing laundry, heh) filled my mind’s eye so clearly, I knew this was a Father/daughter project, meaning God/Sherry project. For who or what—I don’t know, but I wrote it anyway. It’s controversial, and I knew it would be—but I wrote it anyway. That’s how art works.

I’ve always wanted to write, but I’m not good at grammar/don’t have time to learn something new/am not able to go back to school. How did you do it?

By disregarding the above excuses and doing it anyway. I did it without going back to school. If you have a dream…a true desire to do your thing, then you can do it. You can accomplish a great deal if you believe like a visionary. And never, ever, take advice from a pessimist.

There you go, writing life (at least mine) in a blog post. What do you do, and what misconceptions do people have about your career?

Lessons from the Forbidden Realm

Are Smurfs evil? Yes, I really asked myself that question when a childhood friend wouldn’t watch the show with me. Her parents equated any kind of “magic” with evil, even good ol’ Papa Smurf.

I must admit, after her anti-magic proclamation, I felt a little “wrong” like maybe my desire to watch the Smurfs came from the dark side. Was I missing something? Was it okay to watch The Thundercats and She-Ra, or did those shows make me a bad Christian too?

I’m happy to report that I didn’t turn blue or grow up to think I should summon the forces of anything in the supernatural world but God.

Did I question things? Sure, who doesn’t?20150622_083638

Did those shows influence me? You bet. My talents are not as broad as some, but I do have a great imagination. Fantasy inspires me—I get it. You wouldn’t believe the thoughts that whirl around in my head, but I know who gave me this imagination—I know Who runs it all, therefore…

I can relate to people who like fantasy movies and books, whether it’s Christian or secular. Fantasy-minded people like metaphors, deeper thinking and don’t have trouble believing that angels exist and that we rub shoulders with the spiritual world every day. God is not confined to the box of human logic and we get that too.

So it disappoints me when the loudest critics of Christian fantasy, whether in movies or books, are not anti-Christian, but Christians themselves.

What are we supposed to do as Christians? Despite the messages displayed in front of us every day, life is not about what we deserve (Jesus fixed that). It’s not about judging others, chasing after worldly ambition, or spending the majority of our time living up to each others expectations. Mankind is not God (and for heaven’s sake, don’t change who you are for man—man did not design you).

So what does the real God say?

Here it is: He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Mark 16:15 (emphasis mine)

What is your corner of creation? Is it in medicine, ministry, grounds work?

You are uniquely made, given a unique language in which to speak to your corner of creation.

A lot of people who don’t know God, read, watch, and breathe fantasy, so wouldn’t it make sense for God to get through to them with people who speak their language? Or is your world more black and white? I don’t get that at all, but my husband is (technical) and I love him (loads the dishwasher likes it the great physics experiment) and appreciate his (he thinks math is fun) talents.

Let’s all accept each others differences, shall we? We are a tapestry—different threads, colors, shades—God’s artwork.

Trying to unravel it is not God’s design—that’s the influence of what some call dark magic.

Or Satan. Whatever.

Who are you, and what is your ministry? Tell us in the comments.

Talent is for Showing

My faith in our future generation raised quite a few notches after watching the talent show at my daughter’s school. Not that my former estimation was really low, but maybe too low. It wasn’t the level of talent either—some were good, some needed a little more polishing, or a lot, but that wasn’t it.

For two hours, child after child conquered the stage. Lots of braced teeth, nerves either lifting or lowering eyebrows, and many girls on the balance between girly-girl and sporty-girl strode across the stage. When I was in elementary school, there were nowhere near that many kids willing to show their skills—maybe it’s because Chloe’s school emphasizes the arts—maybe the current culture values entertainment more than it used too.

But what impressed me the most? They got up there. They danced or sang or did a

Be Bold

Be Bold

few tricks and showed their willingness to be bold. That’s it—they were bold. Some of them sang with shaky hands clutching the microphone, but they gave us their voices anyway. Some forgot their dance steps, but they caught up and plowed ahead.

These kids all have something to say, and expressed that to us the best they could—they just don’t know yet they’re future leaders, teachers or artists.

Sometimes people try their “thing” once or twice, but a little adversity presses them down like a concrete sidewalk on a blade of grass.

It’s easy to feel beyond repair–but God specializes in rebuilding.

I hope Chloe and all those kids remember this talent show, and remember how to be brave. One big step can teach them how to fight their way through the cracks, showing the world how lovely and exquisite determination is.

Want to show us your (family friendly) skills? Feel free to post your links in the comments.

P.S. I want to give a big thanks for all of you who helped put Faith Seekers on Amazon’s bestseller’s list. Mostly, I hope you enjoy the story. Don’t have a copy yet? The ebook is on sale for a few more days…get it here.

Fashion for The Rest of Us

Ever feel misunderstood? Like you pull on the most awesome outfit of the century, slide into your shiny-like-new car, pull into work with the latest tunes that wrap your “vibe” into one awesome moment—but instead of flowing with the rhythm of awesomeness, your day pukes onto you 15 raised eyebrows, 10 corners of mouths lifted in sarcasm and exactly 1 million snickers when people pass you but are still within earshot?

Oh, poop. I’m still wearing my daughter’s blinged-out head band from our fashion fun this morning. Strangely enough, a few people got it.

Yep, that’s like many of my days. I like to use the word unique, sheesh, even God uses the word, unique, but on some days that word feels more like scatter-brained mess. Sometimes those of us who are normally challenged want less uniqueness and more ordinary. Sometimes.

Really, Jesus used ordinary people to change the world. Of course, Peter had a lot FS Quote #1of unique foibles with the whole cutting off an ear thing and sinking into the lake when the KING OF THE WORLD was watching. But God still used him for the good stuff.

Think of Peter, think of Peter.

So on those days when I’m not thinking of Peter, I do what the experts say not to do and read the reviews of my novel.

I think I started to twitch about half-way through. Let’s see:

One reviewer:Lyrical”. Another reviewer: Staccato”.

One reviewer: Slow start”. Another reviewer: “Excellent pacing”.

One reviewer: “Outside the classic Christian genre”. Another: Classic ideas based on the knowledge of God”.

And my all-time favorite: “This would have been a good story, I think, if the author had just used evil people in the story, and left God, the devil, and his demons out of the plot.” They go on later to say it wasn’t enough Christian enough. And yet another reviewer: “It was an interesting and new take on Christian fiction.”

Is my book schizophrenic?

We’ll call it unique.

Some dig it, some don’t, and that’s okay because Peter eventually found his peeps like I’m finding mine. But sometimes, there are misunderstandings that need clarification.

I need to address one thing that a few reviewers have suggested (spoiler alert). They said my book represents paganistic or idol worshipping ideas because God appears to my protagonist as an elk. Negative. God is I AM, the one true God and the Father of Jesus. The elk is a symbol, like the Lion in The Chronicles of Narnia.

This book is for out-of-the-box thinkers, and fans of fantasy, so reader beware. And so is my fashion, heh.

My readers might also get blinged-silly by their children, or even delight in kids that mismatch their clothes because to them, the interpretation works.

Are you a writer with out-of-the-box ideas, or someone who feels too normal? Guess what? There is no normal. That’s why God calls each one of use unique. Tell us your story in the comments.
Have an awesome grooving-with-your-own-vibe kind of Monday.

Contest Monday

Happy Monday everyone. I’ve been busy this week, talking with Grace Thorson at A Sparrow Reads (giveaway) about writing. She has a lovely blog–I encourage you to pay her a visit. I’ve also been studying, and working on my WIP (more on that later).

But today I bring you an awesome giveaway. A Young Love giveaway to be exact…tons of books to win, and a generous amazon gift card. The contest is open until February 14th.

 

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Go her to enter: Young Love and Bleeding Hearts Giveaway.

 

 

 

 

Have a blessed week, and I’ll see you next Monday

How to be an Impressionist painting

In my teen years, I handled life with my hands dipped in paint. I found joy in the blues and reds, found peace in knowing I was good at something, and for my own entertainment, it confused those who kept trying to put me in the preppy box. Yes, I behaved myself. Yes, I was quiet and most everyone assumed I was an A student and read a lot (I did read a lot). But the messy paint and my “unique” way of fashion had more than one person scratch their heads. “How do I complete this picture?”

My art teacher encouraged me to paint big. He recognized that I was more of a free spirit and didn’t accept bashful art. I didn’t either, and I flourished with giant flowers and portraits of whoever was brave enough to model for a bunch of teenagers.

No erupting pimple could dampen the thrill of art class.100_2417

On one occasion he made what I thought a strange observation. “Your watercolor…it looks great from far away, but it loses something up close.”

There it is again. Up close I’m not quite. Not quite what?

I worked on my art, studying the masters, taking the passion to college—polishing up a bit and producing better work—but there was always that messy quality.

Of course, it worked for Claude Monet—if you look at his paintings up close, they’re a little messy. A little unorganized, but step back a bit and…hang that on my wall, please, and on every wall in my house. His work is an overall collection of wow.

Do we all really need to be normal? As one of my reviewers said about Faith Seekers: “… is occasionally like free-form jazz” (which, after mulling over, left me in chuckles). What do I do with this free-form part of me?

Twenty years later, Jeff Goins answered that question.

“Maybe the best moments in our lives aren’t meant to be so cut and dried. Maybe the mess is beautiful.”

Is this how God sees us? He knows we can be messy, and up close we’re far from perfect. But we’re His art. Why do we fight so hard to be accepted as normal? God made us unique from the beginning, and He calls it wonderful.

Looking Hope-Forward

Good Monday, friends.

I hope this day brings you unexpected blessings (Did you win a copy of Faith Seekers from last week’s contest? Check your inbox to find out).

The thing I’m hearing from a lot of people is that the rundown from 2014 is such a mixture of blessings/struggles that it ends up being a heavy year regardless of the good. Yea, sometimes it’s hard to shuffle through it all.

I had a great year with some shadows mixed in like most, but what stands in front of me, staring me in the eyes with fire-hot intensity are these words of wisdom from Hannah.

Have a blessed week, and remember:

 

GodHasNotForgottenUs

Win to Give Contest!

 

On the original Christmas day, mankind was given a gift. Although it was the greatest gift, it tends to get forgotten when thoughts of reindeer and shopping take center stage. God’s gift is meant to be shared, so I try to do things to remind myself of that. This week, you have a chance to give and receive.

I’m going to gift a digital copy of Faith Seekers to two people. What do you have to do? First, go get a copy for yourself at Storycartel. You can download that, read it, and if you feel like it, post a review on amazon. It’s free! For the two people who win, they get to choose someone they love to receive the gift copy. The winners (givers, really) will also get their names in my next book (good guys, I promise).

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So if you want to play, go get your copy here, come back to the blog and type this in the comments section: I, (your name), received–now I want to give!

Post your email (I won’t use it to spam you, I promise) or message it to me at: srossbooks@gmail.com

I will draw names the old fashioned way. I will contact the winners who can then send me the email addresses of their chosen receivers. I will gift the books from amazon.

I will post the winning names on December 29th. If you have trouble commenting on this blog, go to my facebook page and comment underneath the posted link there.

Merry Awesome Christmas!

 

 

 

The Magical Kingdom

The wind moans through the park as I stare at the old tree. It cranes over, dry and brittle like a tired old man. Its back is arced from carrying heavy branches that creep across the expanse of it like withered spikes on a crown. It looks one moment away from crumbling back into the dust.

I hold on to a that picture two hours after my Grandpa walked through Heaven’s door, and for a wonderful minute I feel some of his joy as he left his failed body 100_1071behind and walked into glory. His crown is new now, and I’m sure, full of splendor.

I sift through the memories like we all do when we lose someone. I can smell the downy fresh sleeping bags draped over dusty camper beds. I hear him and my Grandma singing on their front porch as we string beans, and the sounds of multiple trips to Disneyland play their faded tunes. My Grandpa never outgrew the magical kingdom.

I take another look at the tree, a heavy shadow tucked inside the Christmas lights strewn about. Life blooms and celebrates around it. It’s really a picture of all of us—those who can see the lights weaving among those who only see the shadows.

I step back and take it all in. If I take my glasses off it all whirls together. It’s no longer joy separated by pain, party here and sorrow there. It’s a true magical kingdom—a glimpse of heaven touching earth.

But that’s how it really is. Even though there are days when walking in the shadows of the fallen seems like the only thing to do—days when it feels like everything has fallen—seeing the magical Kingdom around us is just one choice away.

I would like to extend my gratitude to all of you who’ve joined or visited this blog. Thank you for becoming a part of this community and supporting my writing efforts. The digital version of Faith Seekers is now available for $2.99 here.