Steampunk Hat Phase 2

It’s finished! I wish I had time to model it for you, but I’m way behind packing for the ACFW Conference, so I’ll have to take pictures at the genre dinner and post them for you then. In the meantime, here’s a very short video of Spook checking it out. Of course, anytime I start to video my pets they immediately decide not to cooperate. The lighting was awful when my son took pics of the hat, so I had to enhance them a bit. They don’t at all capture its essence. Yes, it has an essence. I promise.     Here’s a video. Still doesn’t have the same pizzazz as in person, but you get the idea! Remember, my character is a steampunk biologist (naturalist, but it’s Christian steampunk so I say biologist; it’s complicated). What do you think? Did I overdo it? Do you like your steampunk more streamlined? Let me know in the comments below! Tweet this: Check out this amazing steampunk...

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Steampunk Hat Phase 1

I need a steampunk hat to go with my genre costume at the ACFW National Writer’s Conference in Dallas, Texas. As I explain in the video below, I decided that making a steampunk hat would be less expensive than buying one ready-made from an Etsy store. I was wrong. The hat I really wanted was one like this (I adore ships): But it was $65.00. So, I thought to myself, I can make one for less. I love all the hats in the ChikiBird shop, so I sort of used them as inspiration. But guess what? I was so wrong about the price. Not only are feathers and other materials expensive, I don’t know what I’m doing! I probably should have just bought my hat. But since when do I do things the easy way? Below is a video of phase 1: the materials. And below the video are some first pics. I’ll post the finished product and my entire costume later, so stay tuned!     More pics to come! What do you think of it so far? Tweet this: Is it less expensive to make it yourself? Not...

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Emissary by Thomas Locke — 4 out of 5 stars

I know you’re not suppose to judge a book by its cover, but really, what’s not to like about this gorgeous work of art? It’s the perfect marquee for this new fantasy series by Thomas Locke. It depicts the flavor and mood of this story perfectly. I don’t read fantasy as a rule, but because it’s such a popular genre for the younger set, including Millennials, I wanted to read it as a way get to know why they love this type of story. Walk into any bookstore these days and the shelves overflow with novels featuring wizardry and witchcraft. These books appeal to those who cut their teeth on Harry Potter and fantasy role-playing and video games.  They crave more stories that take them into the land of fairy tales and magic. I am one of the few who hasn’t read Harry Potter due to my own personal convictions. And I will admit being wary of this book. However, I do believe Locke has tapped into a market that desires a less dark fantasy experience. There is no overt Christian message, but there is definitely a main character to admire and a quest to be fought for. The thing to remember when reading fiction, Dear Reader, is that it is Fantasy. Locke himself stated on his blog that he wants to take his readers on a story journey similar to what he loved reading while growing up: “During our formative years – up until around age 30 – we are reinforcing our world view when we read for entertainment. But much of the fantasy that’s being published today doesn’t offer that sense of courage and inspiration that used to be prevalent in fantasy and science fiction novels. Of course, not all of the “classic” authors wrote uplifting work. Ray Bradbury is one example. But even Bradbury’s writing gave me a sense of mind-bending escape and the opportunity to dream and envision more than what was available in world around me. The books I loved most offered hope for a better tomorrow. Hope for growing into someone who could have these sorts of adventures. I want to infuse that hopefulness into my characters, and not give in to the temptation of creating characters who are only bitter and cynical. In Emissary, key themes include courage in the face of fear, travel to unknown destinations, and new personal avenues of growth and development. I’ve tried to bring each of these into a story structure that’s applicable to today’s culture.” I was quite surprised how quickly I was drawn into the story. Usually I read historical or political suspense, but I found myself smiling and turning page after page, eager to...

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Live Blogging Realm Makers Conference: Keynote Speaker Tosca Lee

What an amazing day I’ve had at Realm Maker’s conference today! This morning’s Keynote Speaker was best-selling author, Tosca Lee. If you’ve never read any of her books, I highly recommend you do. Her style and voice are unique and powerful. As I wrote before, she has a voice akin to liquid velvet. I can’t get enough of her. Did you know that she cut her eyeteeth in the writing realm with online gaming? Who’d have thunk it? But it makes sense to me now. She spent hours and hours creating a character and a world playing a role playing game. In fact, the character she developed and eventually “killed” has a fandom! People to this day write poems and tributes to this character. Now, I’m not into role playing games. I’ve never “got” that lifestyle. In fact, I’ve protected myself from that sort of fantasy life because I didn’t understand it, feared it, and was concerned that with my personality I’d become addicted to it. But as it turns out, lovely Tosca was once the Overlord of a gaming community that still holds tournaments in her character’s honor. Talk about creating a powerful character! This character was so real to those playing this game that they mourned her and continue to this day to honor her. Wow. Can I create characters like that? Can you? Following Tosca’s keynote address, I attended a workshop entitled “Touching Evil: Reflections on Writing Villains and their Villainy.” The take-away for me was when he said that the villain is the measuring stick for the hero. Excellent stuff! This afternoon Steve Laube spoke about the ins and outs of being represented by an agent. Jeff Gerke presented a workshop on “The So-Called Rules of So-Called Fiction and what to So-Called do with Them.” As always Jeff was engaging and funny. Lisa Walker England taught on Steampunk, which is the reason I’m here as I have several steampunk novels running through my head. Doesn’t she look great in her costume? (She’s pictured below with Ben Wolf.)  The last presenter before the evening awards banquet was Kat Heckenbach who spoke on writing YA. The banquet tonight was attended by various unique and special guests:       The Clive Staples Award for the best in Christian Speculative Fiction this past year went to Patrick W. Carr for A Cast of Stones! The Parable Award for best-designed cover on a speculative fiction book directed to the Christian or family-friendly market went to Numb by John W. Otte. The food was delicious and my brain is just as full as my stomach. I’ve learned a lot today and can hardly wait until tomorrow morning to start all...

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Live blogging from Realm Makers Conference with BREAKING NEWS!

I’m in Radnor, PA for the Realm Makers Conference! I am a slightly surprised to find myself here but there’s a nagging in my heart to learn how to write compelling YA, specifically in the Steampunk vein. I’m not really sure what to expect, but so far things are good. On my drive to Pennsylvania there was a rainbow! That’s a good sign, right? It took me two days to drive here from Indiana. Today before I checked into the conference I stopped at a mall in King of Prussia, PA, and had lunch at Ruby’s Diner. The clam chowder was so scrumptious I was tempted to order another cup! I sat in the diner and worked on my work in progress. I was pleasantly surprised to discover I can write pretty well in a diner environment. I need to try it again. Although, there aren’t any diners in my neck of the woods. Certainly not ones that have such great decor. I was wishing my guys were with me to enjoy such pretty bikes! The conference is on Villanova University’s campus. The college has beautiful old stone buildings and we’re staying in dorms. The dorm I’m in is actually an apartment. I have the entire thing to myself but there’s enough room for 4 people.                          Tonight as I type this I’m at the Splickety Magazine Critique Party. On the panel critiquing the first few pages of novels submitted and chosen before the conference are Tosca Lee, Jeff Gerke, Steve Laube and Avily Jerome. I’m so excited to hear Tosca Lee speak in the morning! I love her books. She has the sort of writing voice I love. Like liquid velvet. I’ll post again tomorrow (hopefully I’ll have some time to sneak in here to share with you) and let you know all I’m learning. Tonight the panel seems to be in unison regarding that first hook in the first few pages of a book. Lovely writing might be beautiful, but will it keep a reader’s attention? If you want to be published, you need to learn to write what sells. But if you want to write for your own pleasure, then write what you want! Tonight Steve Laube announced the new name of his publishing company (formerly Marcher Lord Press): Enclave Publishing! You heard it here first! Steve Laube making the announcement: Tons of excitement tonight! I wonder what tomorrow will bring? Click to tweet: Live blogging from Realm Makers Conference! Click to tweet: Steve Laube announces Marcher Lord Press now Enclave...

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