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Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Adventures Abroad

I'm in Bratislava for a night or two, and it was already dark when I got here, so I was prepared for an adventure finding my hotel...or so I thought! I arrived at the main train station safely, found the buses right away, got my bus ticket with ease, and lo and behold - my bus pulled it! I took it to the correct spot and that's when the fun began. The instructions for getting to my destination from that stop are for people arriving at that stop by train. I found out, thanks to a couple nice women, that I was not quite where I thought I was when I got off the bus - I needed to go underground under the train tracks and up the other side. Once there, I quickly got my bearings (verified by asking another nice lady) and headed down the semi-lit road ready for a 10-15 minute walk. I again verified my location (by asking a nice man walking in the opposite direction - streets aren't always clearly labeled, and it was dark) and when I got to my turning, everything was fine. Or so it seemed... I was supposed to take a left and quick right to get to the hotel, but there was no left and it was blocked off by high fencing as though under construction. After some though, I skirted the fencing and found myself on an overgrown dirt path. IN THE DARK. I made it to a bit empty parking lot area and took my designated right turn...which lead me to more empty parking lot and then nothing. I figured out, judging my my tiny map (I had my flashlight) and the way I'd come, that my hotel was just to my right...on the other side of a wall of trees. I had some indecision as to what course of action to take, but ultimately I backtracked to half-way up the dirt path, where I remembered seeing a fork in the trail. I took the fork, which did not take me to the other side of those trees. It did take me to a parking lot between the backs of two buildings. I walked passed a run-down camper and some cars, thinking I must by walking along the back of the hotel. I rounded the far end, and there it was: the signage! I entered the hotel restaurant, and got directions to the lobby, where I checked in. Tomorrow before I head out for my meeting, I will ask the front desk person the best way to get there (it's back the way I came). Hopefully, I won't have to brave that dirt path through the jungle for a third time. :)

Thursday, October 10, 2019

"Mission Stage One Complete"


Those words are uttered by Colonel Derek Williams, Mission Commander and Pilot of Air Force Space Command's first manned mission into space. They are the last words spoken in chapter one of my science fiction novel, Random Walk, after the crew achieves orbit around the Earth.

I too, have completed what I consider to be Stage One of my mission: writing the book! I finished the draft at the end of July, but I only just completed my developmental revisions earlier this week. With those done, the story itself is now locked-in; there will be no major changes.

That's a significant benchmark, but when you're independently publishing your own novel, it's only one stage of the work. So now, as I wait for my editor to return the manuscript again, this time with copy edits,* I am my shifting mental and creative gears for phase two: production & marketing.

To that end, I read IngramSpark's user guide yesterday to make sure I remember how  to upload my book and understand the extent of their services; I've started sending out requests for blurbs and drafted a press release; I'm working on a synopsis, back cover copy and front and back matter.^ I'm even starting to think about a book launch party!

So as I turn the corner of the midweek and prepare to enter the weekend, my hands are full with grading a writing test I gave my 3rd year students, and juggling all the little, important, time-consuming tasks associated with actually producing and selling a book. It's a busy time, but I'm excited to see how it goes. :)



*Minor changes, like misplaced commas, spelling consistency for proper nouns, awkward phrasing, etc.

^The copyright, acknowledgements and about the author content.


Monday, September 9, 2019

How to Move Abroad in Four Days

On Tuesday, I found out I might be able to teach English for a year in Slovakia, but their school year had already started so I wanted to get there as quickly as possible. Turns out spending four days planning is what constitutes "as soon as possible:" I left home on Saturday morning, almost exactly 96 hours after getting that email on Tuesday. And you can too! (Theoretically.) Here's how:


1. Be flexible. It's best if you are self-employed or can work remotely (and not full time), or don't have a job back home at all.

2. Practice packing. Consider taking a couple three or four week vacations first. I found my packing time decreased significantly with each trip.

3. Find an opportunity. In my case, I knew of a Christian school in Slovakia through my Aunt; I got in touch, they said come any time, I said how about now, and they said sure! And off I went.

4. Have experience living abroad. I was an exchange student in Germany for a year in high school and taught English in China for a year after college. I also spent a month in Jordan and over seven months in Afghanistan. The idea of moving to Slovakia was not scary.

5. Pray about it. This is step five, but it actually takes place all through these other steps. Basically, I asked God for closed doors if it was a bad idea to go on such short notice, and open ones if it was acceptable or a good idea. In four days I was able to: get a doctor's appt, get a dental appt, go shopping for a few things I needed, hang out with local family, and, miracle of miracles, get a good flier mile ticket with a perfect-length layover in Newark. I was also able to check my roller carry-on plane-side for the express flight from Indianapolis, and check it again for the international flight - for free! Oh! And I got on an earlier flight to Newark that I was only able to grab because it was delayed, I got through security very fast and therefore was very early, and the plane was far from full. I even got aisle seats on both planes, despite not being able to choose my seat on the earlier flight or the international one. I'd call those open doors, wouldn't you?


And that's pretty much all there is to it. Easy, right? :) So jump right in and have an adventure! It'll be the experience of a lifetime.


Friday, July 19, 2019

Why SciFi?

A few people have wondered why, as a Christian, I would write science fiction - and not even "Christian SciFi" but mainstream SciFi. Allow me to explain...

First, let me say that I totally understand the question. Why would any Christian want to delve into the world of mainstream science fiction? Characterized primarily by an atheistic worldview and, in many cases, material inappropriate for the morally conservative reader, science fiction does not appear to be a natural choice for a theologically conservative Christian writer.

This is a legitimate concern, which I am happy to address.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Exciting News!


In case you were wondering what I've been up to lately...

I have exciting news!! I have been hard at work setting up an author website, and re-writing the draft of my debut science fiction novel, which I'm independently publishing - Random Walk, Book One in the Fractured Galaxy Series. 😃

At the same time, I've been planning a crowdfunding campaign on IndieGoGo to ensure the finished product is sleek and professional. I launched the campaign this morning, and you can check it out here!