Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Cannon Ball

I don’t know about you, but I love to jump in the pool!  Headfirst or cannon ball, it doesn’t matter as long as I get wet!  Whoo-Hoo!!!  But my mother is a different story.

Like many, many other people, my mother has a fear of the water. She is so terrified of it that she doesn’t’ like to get water too deep in her bath tub.  I’m not joking.  When we go to the pool, she stands in the shallow end and splashes herself with one hand while she clings to the side of the pool for dear life with the other.  And small children are swimming and playing around her.

“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7(NIV)

We all have fears.  It’s a part of being human, but it doesn’t have to a part of being a Christian. As Christians, God empowers us with the Holy Spirit to do His work.  It’s ours to claim.  Don’t let your earthly fears and doubts stop you or hold you back.  Instead, jump in with all you’ve got.  “CANNON BALL!”

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Fried Chicken

I don’t know about other places, but here in the southeast, fried chicken is a staple.  Of course with all the health conscious people around nowadays, baked and grilled chicken are coming on strong.  And I love those as well, but when I was growing up, there was one occasion where we always had fried chicken.  Birthdays? Nope.  Anniversaries? Nope. Weddings? Nope.  When the preacher came over to eat? YES!!!

When the preacher and his family came over to my grandparent’s house to eat, nothing was held back.  Their table was covered in food, which included a couple of platters loaded with fried chicken!!  Great memories!  Great fried chicken!  We all couldn’t wait for the preacher to say, “Amen” so we could dig in.  But I realized something as I grew older.  The only time we prayed over our food was when the preacher was visiting.

       “Pray without ceasing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NKJV)

It’s a short verse that is packed with so much. We are to be in continuous prayer.  Easier said than done?  Maybe, maybe not.  Praying should be a joyous habit and not a task that we do just when we’re around other Christians or we are in church.  The more we do it, the more it will become like a second nature.  I’m going to do one right now for each one of you.  “Dear Lord, please bless each person reading this blog with the peace and joy only you can give.  And, please bless them with a piece of southern fried chicken. Amen.”

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Treasure Traitor

I am honored to have Laura Popp as a guest on grooviebrooksie.  She will be answering questions about her book "Treasure Traitor" which was released last November.

Tell us a little about the story of Treasure Traitor. 

Well, here’s what’s on the back of the cover: In a universe torn by war, two governments vie for power: the elemental Kingdom and the telepathic Hierarchy. Hierarchy women with animal bonds think nothing of sacrificing their beasts’ lives to protect themselves.
Except sixteen-year-old Renagada. The bond with her carrion-eater bird Acha is two-sided, and she knows his mind as much as he knows hers. When Rena overhears her parents plotting to kill Acha because of superstition, she must leave her fiancé and home of sheltered luxury to flee with Acha into the desert. Peril awaits them at every turn, and someone is tracking them…

What gave you the inspiration for the fantasy world of Treasure Traitor?

Growing up, I devoured classical fantasy based on European mythology: Tolkien, Anne McCaffrey, and C.S. Lewis, just to name a few. But it bothered me that in comparison, there was relatively little fantasy inspired by myths and legends from non-Western cultures. When I stumbled upon Arabian Nights, I fell in love with the characters and the desert, how a place so stark could create such a beautiful, deep culture. Renagada and her people spring from that legacy. Also, I lived in Japan for two years and India for three months, so parts of those cultures have wriggled their way into this book, both intentionally and unintentionally! 

How long did you work on Treasure Traitor before it was completed?

That’s a little hard to answer! I started it when I was about twenty, in college. The first draft took six months, but it was only 55,000 words. Now it’s over 100,000 words! Suffice it to say, there were at least a dozen subsequent drafts, and each draft added a new layer to the plot, characters, and the universe they lived in. One draft focused entirely on fleshing out the setting. Another added depth to Rena and Acha’s relationship. The final focused on developing Rena’s religion and the faith of the Kingdom Seekers. So the editing and revising went all the way up to the publication date (about five years after I started it)! My editors at Written World Communications (my publisher) helped a lot with that.
But boy did it take a long time to find them! I submitted this manuscript to 34 publishers and agents and got nothing but rejections. I had about given up on it. Imagine my surprise when Written World contacted me. I’d never even heard of them! It turns out I had submitted it to an agent, and the agent’s assistant really liked it and believed in the story. Then she switched companies and pitched the novel to the head editor. It was a match made in heaven, totally a God thing!  

How much of you is in your main character Renagada?

I like to think I’m not quite as rebellious! I’ve never been bonded to a vulture or flown in a spaceship, either. But there is a lot of me in her; I don’t think any writer can help that. Early in the book, she loses someone very close to her. I know what that’s like, and all of those emotions went into that scene. Her struggles with guilt, faith, and culture shock are also my own. And actually, the scene at the end with her fiance was almost prophetic, because the week after I wrote that scene I had a very similar fight with my fiance! You’ll have to read it to understand what I’m talking about.
How old whre you when you wrote your first fantasy and what was it? 
I was ten. It was about a boy bonded to a horse. The boy got lost in the evil enchanted woods, and the horse rescued him and brought him safely home to his mother. I entered it into an animal story contest and won a gift certificate for pet food. Such a small thing, but I was hooked! 

You’ve had a very eventful and accomplished life.  How much of those experiences did you put into Treasure Traitor?

Thank you. Honestly, I’d have to say all of them! I’ve given entire presentations of how my world-travels played into Treasure Traitor. What are we but a culmination of our experiences? I’d have to say my faith journey and missionary adventures probably contribute the most. Whether it’s filming impoverished Africans dancing in dusty streets, delivering food and preaching hope to victims of the Tohoku Earthquake in Japan, teaching orphans in India, or helping Burmese refugees fulfill their dreams of becoming U.S. citizens, my path to trusting Jesus has been the biggest roller coaster ride of my life. I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world, and I can only say it was all Him. 

What accomplishments are you the most proud of?

Honestly, I’d have to say getting a book published and having a contract for a three book deal. It’s something I’ve felt called to do since I was fifteen, and I’ve been working hard for it since then, so after eleven years it feels like a long time in coming! I’ve had literally hundreds of stories from the Kingdom/Hierarchy universe swirling through my head since I was five. Just to give you an idea, I wrote about eight books before this, and despite dozens of submissions, I was never able to publish any of them. So this is a serious answer to prayer!
I’ve finished the rough draft for the sequel, An Honest Assassin, and am about a quarter finished with the next one. Hopefully there will be many more to come!  

What advice would you give others on writing fantasy and creating your own fantasy?

Don’t try to imitate anyone else. Narnia, Harry Potter, Twilight and Hunger Games may be best sellers, but they’ve already been done. Write from your own experiences, your own passions, your own hands-on research. Write what you would love to read if it existed, where there’s a gap you long to fill. Along those same lines, if you like your day job, don’t quit it. I find my best characters and situations arise from my daily life.

Thanks, Brooke, I enjoyed answering your questions. Readers, be sure to stop by my website, ljpopp.wordpress.com, to check out an excerpt from Treasure Traitor! 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Little John Deer

Who is Little John Deer?  He’s a member of our family and he also happens to be a miniature dachshund.   Like most dogs, he likes to chew on things, especially when he’s not supposed to.

When we have family over at Christmas, I like to use paper plates and Styrofoam cups.  The less work the better.  Anyway, Little John had gotten a hold of a cup and had chewed it up.  I know it’s a dog’s nature, so I just told him, “No! Bad!”  By that, he knew he wasn’t supposed to do it.

A couple of days after Christmas, I was in the house by myself and washing dishes.  That’s when I started to hear, “Crunch.  Crunch.”  I followed the sound to my daughter Sara’s bedroom.  There I saw Little John’s back end sticking out from under her bed.  He had found a Styrofoam cup and was chewing on it.  He thought he was completely hidden and getting away with doing a no-no.  I simply reached down and touched his back. He let out a big hair rising yelp and spun around where he was completely out from under Sara’s bed. 

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” Galatians 6:7 (NIV)

Except for chewing up Styrofoam cups and shoes, aren’t we the same as Little John? God tells us not to do something, but we want to do it anyway. And when we commit the sin, we think we can hide and get away with it.  That might work with humans, but not with God. Like with me and Little John, he hears and sees what you are doing.