Wednesday, December 28, 2016

On Track

with guest Steve Rzasa.

The writing life can be discouraging. You have days where you get bad reviews, your royalty check is long overdue, and the news you post about your books seemingly goes unheeded. It can be a lonely and frustrating experience for both publish and beginning authors. 


When those moments darken your horizons and claw at your creativity, remember that the path ahead isn’t always the one you expect. The hand guiding you is the same one that ordains the times for nations.


The path I took over the past 30-some years isn’t one I’d ever dreamed up in my fiction, even though it turned me into the author of 10 published novels.


I’d wanted to write for as long as I could remember. Somewhere among my archived papers hides a story I wrote in third grade about two space adventurers. Pretty sure the tale was based on two LEGO astronauts and their spaceship which I’d constructed. 


Consider it the prototype of later work.

I wrote fiction throughout high school and college, building numerous short stories and fragments of others. I kept most of those efforts to myself. Painful shyness afflicted me. Fear of others and their opinions prevented me from seeing the path ahead.


College forced me to confront those fears, and when God came looking for me toward the end of my four years in Boston, I got an even bigger kick in the pants. Newspaper reporting doesn’t tolerate shyness. Eight years of continuous writing and talking to people slowly pushed me into situations which were uncomfortable for an introvert. They slowly transformed my personality.


During that span I created an epic space opera, Commissioned. I wanted to explain the importance of the Word of God in people’s lives, while placing characters in a sprawling adventure set on a galactic stage. Too often I’d read science-fiction novels which had stimulated my imagination but denigrated the faith vital to my world. Writing such a book was an uphill slog, since I was spending most of my day, every day, creating articles for a newspaper. As anyone in the industry can attest, constant production saps your will to be creative by the time you get home.


All the careful planning I did, all the steps I took to pursue both my job and my writing, blew up in my face when I lost my job in July 2008. Up to that point I’d been convinced I’d been doing what God wanted me to do. How could He, then, let me fall flat on my face? The strain was suffocating. I was supporting not only myself but my wife, and our two young boys. I’d failed at tasks before—who hasn’t?—but had never been without a job. As a father and a husband, I felt I’d flamed out. It was my nadir.


God wasn’t done. I just couldn’t see anything on the road ahead. If you were riding shotgun in a car on a dark road, with no streetlamps or headlights, could you trust a driver who claimed to be able to still navigate? It was a tough sell, for me. We all read and speak about how we trust God. I found I had no choice but to do it.



He put me into a new line of work—libraries. I’d had limited volunteer experience, and zero training. But I discovered something miraculous. Since I wasn’t constantly producing articles, when I got home at the end of the day I felt the desire to write. Lunch breaks and evening hours soon filled pages. Six years prior to my journalism career’s collapse, I’d written about one third of Commissioned. In nine months after I lost my job, I finished the remaining two-thirds. 


Within five months of finishing Commissioned, a small publisher called Marcher Lord Press (now Enclave Publishing) picked up the novel and split it into two books. Three months after that, I held a copy of The Word Reclaimed in my hands. Its sequel, The Word Unleashed, followed six months later. 


The next seven years became a rush of ideas and stories, culminating (thus far) in the publication of The Word Endangered by Enclave and Empire’s Rift by WordFire Press (Kevin J. Anderson Presents) last fall. It was as if the first half of my professional life had turned a spigot just enough to let stories trickle out; the second half cranked it wide open, and worlds came gushing out. 



I’ve learned valuable lessons about craft, creation, and communication that I might never have learned until far later in life had my course not been so drastically altered. One thing sustained me throughout all the turmoil and doubt: God intervened, in perhaps the one way I’d never anticipated He would, so I would be put on this writing path. 

Speculative fiction is my forte, so allow me to speculate. Suppose you provide me with a time machine—preferably an automobile, though it doesn’t have to be a DeLorean. If I were to take a quick hop back to the end of 2006, exactly 10 years ago, and tell myself about what the future held, he would—or I would—laugh in my/his face. Back then I was confident God oversaw everything. That, however, didn’t translate to true acceptance. He showed me new possibility, a new reality, and in the process set me on track.


No matter where you are in the writing journey, don’t despair. The path may be shrouded and difficult to discern, or it might be altogether invisible. But it’s there. When the time is right, when God wills it to happen, you’ll see the next steps.


 My challenge to you today: Imagine you have one chance to travel into the past to meet your younger self. How far back would you go? What would you tell yourself about your life to come?



Steve Rzasa is the author of several novels of science-fiction, steampunk, and fantasy—with a bunch more in progress. He was first published in 2009 by Marcher Lord Press (now Enclave Publishing). His third novel, Broken Sight, received the 2012 Award for Speculative Fiction from the American Christian Fiction Writers.

Steve grew up in Atco, New Jersey, and started writing stories in grade school. He received his bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University, and worked for eight years at newspapers in Maine and Wyoming. He’s been a librarian since 2008, most recently earning his Library Support Staff Certification from the American Library Association in 2014—one of only 135 graduates nationwide and a handful in Wyoming.

He is the technical services librarian in Buffalo, Wyoming, where he lives with his wife and two boys. Steve’s a fan of all things science-fiction and superhero, and is also a student of history. www.steverzasa.com

 
Empire's Rift The Baedecker Invasion (A Takamo Universe Story) (Volume 1)

 The Naplian Empire’s war of expansion against the Grand Alliance has taken a turn for the worse. With vital serjaum fuel reserves wiped out by a surprise attack, Admiral Daviont of the III Corps makes a long, desperate journey to the fringes of Terran space for a massive undeveloped source of serjaum—the Baedecker Star System. But his action does not go unnoticed. Their mortal enemies, the Briddarri, send their own task force to intercept. At Baedecker Four, starfighter pilot and governor’s son Taggart “Tag” Wester has his hands full steering clear of his wing commander’s wrath. When an emergency call unearths a dangerous foe from the past, he’s put to a test unlike any he’s ever face—one of courage, and leadership. Elden Selva is on a mission to restore power to the defeated Northern Alliance, by retrieving the remains of Truppen cybernetic soldiers. What he finds is far more than he anticipated, and the ensuing conflict changes both him and the woman he loves. The invaders and defenders collide in a struggle that will not only shape their lives, but have dire consequences for the entire galaxy.




Steve is generously offering a first 15-pages critique of a Speculative Fiction manuscript to one commenter in preparation for the ACFW Genesis Contest. Leave a comment and let us know you want to be entered. 


 

Because we are delighted when a librarian visits, Seekerville is giving away an Out Of Print tote in honor of his visit. 

Two winners. Winners announced in the Weekend Edition.

92 comments :

  1. Hi Steve and welcome to Seekerville. What an interesting post. I love the idea of time travel. Thanks for joining us here in Seekerville. It is always fun to learn about another genre.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow, from Jersey to Wyoming. That's a culture shock! Welcome to Seekerville, Steve. Your journey is not only inspirational but encouraging. Thank you for sharing.

    Now to ask my burning question.

    What makes speculative fiction, speculative fiction? Is it the allegory, the other world? Are there similarities or road markers for all spec. fic?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Culture shock puts it mildly. Lots of guys out here talk hunting and fishing and sports. I just nod and stare blankly before blurting, "So, anyone see last night's episode of The Flash?" Awkward!

      Speculative fiction encompasses anything fantastic - classic fantasy, its modern urban companion, space opera (like Star Wars), science-fiction (such as the works of Asimov, Bradbury, and countless others). As for road markers, well, I'd say they all share a celebration of the impossible or the improbable. As an example, space opera as a subgenre of science fiction exhibits high adventure in deep space, with future technology that may or may not be grounded in modern advances.

      Delete
  3. What would I say to my future self? I'd say cut out everything that is not part of this mission God sent you on. Don't be distracted.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oh my goodness, Steve, I feel like you wrote this post specifically to me! I'm in the thick of this right now, and your story is encouraging and inspiring.

    If I had a time machine (probably more along the lines of HG Wells than a DeLorean, though), I'd tell myself to waste less time. Turn off Facebook. Forget time-sucking games and apps. Capitalize on those moments to pursue my dream instead of frittering them away.

    I have loved spec fic ever since I made up worlds and languages as a little kid and then stumbled upon Tolkein and realized I wasn't the only one who thought that way! Please enter me for the 15-page critique. I would love your feedback!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad I could be of service, Megan. Okay, love your idea! I too get sucked in by the vast black hole of social media.

      Delete
  5. I'd go back to my teen years. Too much angst and anxiety and for no reason really. Easy to say, & see, that now of course.

    ReplyDelete
  6. What a fascinating year 2006 (2008) was! Though selling my first novel was my highest priority, God wisely thought otherwise. He led me to a day job right before the economy tanked, and though it's not a thrilling or glamorous job it definitely has given me a lot more self-confidence that my very introverted self lacked. Subsequently, looking back, I can see how this all led to my debut novel last January. God is good. Always. Thanks for sharing, Steve.

    Cute tote bag!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, God's good like that, indeed. It always amazes me how I think I'm in charge and then he goes, "Are you done now? Back up and let me show you how it is really supposed to be." Thanks for sharing your story, too, Elaine.

      Delete
  7. Welcome, Steve! Your post was so interesting and quite similar to my own writing journey. Following a job loss, my writing kicked into high gear in order to maintain my sanity.
    "When the time is right, when God wills it to happen, you’ll see the next steps." So true!
    If I had a time machine, I'd go back to my college age self and tell myself not to waste time worrying...just trust God.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I'd go back to 2004 and tell myself to be content with what I have. To trust God. I'd also tell myself not to waste time and to write more consistently.

    Wonderful post! I love reading speculative fiction but haven't tried writing it.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Good morning, STEVE, and welcome to Seekerville=! I've always loved time travel stories--movies & books--and steampunk a la the Wild Wild West is fun. Thank you for sharing your amazing journey of perseverance to "now."

    I'm not sure where I'd go in my own history if I could travel back in time to talk to myself...but wherever I ended up I'd probably be saying JUST FINISH THE BOOK AND START ANOTHER ONE! :)

    Would you please tell us a bit about your daily writing routines, word counts, etc.?

    Are you a plotter, seat-of-the-panster or a combination planster?

    Do you draft and then revise when you're done-or do you draft and revise as you go along?

    What kind of research is involved in speculative fiction?

    Thank you! Writers are always fascinated by how other writers do things! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oops, meant seat-of-the PANTSter. :)

      Delete
    2. My writing routine is fragmented, in part because I do work full-time. Fortunately, I don't have to be at work until 9:30 and most everyone in my house is out the door two hours before that. When I'm in the midst of a project with a deadline, I can crank out 3-5 pages a day. When not on deadline, I tend to meander. Lately I've been using mornings and my lunch break at work to outline, to brainstorm characters, and to do some writing.

      I tend to fly by the seat of my pants, but within the past few years I've done more outlining. It's been very beneficial. I keep my outlines loose, however, because sometimes something cool happens in the story world and if it doesn't fit the outline, well, I change the outline.

      I tend to write the whole story then go back for editing and proofreading several times. Major rewrites? Not so much. I rewrite while I'm working.

      I love doing research, and get my ideas from all kinds of magazines (Aviation History, Popular Science/Mechanics, Discover, The Economist.) Being a history buff, I'm constantly looking for bits of the past that can inspire the future.

      Appreciate your questions! Very good ones!

      Delete
    3. Thank you for your responses, Steve! I work full-time, too, so I understand the challenges. (I'm a 'morning person' so up at 4 and write for 90 minutes before getting ready for work, then wedge in more writing time on Saturdays.)

      I like that your research keeps you on the cutting edge of what's going on in the world around you. So many fascinating things taking place and mixing them with history is a great idea!

      Delete
    4. Okay, I am with you on Popular Mechanics and Popular Science. I get great ideas from them as well and I don't write Spec. Fic.

      Delete
  10. Hi Steve, welcome to Seekerville! Thanks for your encouraging post. I'm not sure what I'd tell my past self. I probably would've encouraged myself to start writing earlier and don't throw anything away.

    Have a great day!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hi Steve, thank you so very much for your inspiring and encouraging post today. If I were to go back in time, I would tell my sixteen year old self to complete the Writer's Digest creative writing course my mother had purchased for me. I was shy too, terribly shy and I was afraid for someone to read what I wrote. I would tell myself that the only way to learn is to 'do' and get my work out there for others to critique and just maybe I will learn more from those critiques. I would also tell my younger self, the person on the other end who would be receiving my lessons doesn't know you, you haven't met face to face, so take off the veil you are wearing and dive into this program and learn. Oh, how I wished I had someone really pushing me to turn in my lessons.

    Once again, thank you for your post today. I would love to be entered for the tote. I need a good tote and the library card tote would be perfect!

    Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sometimes it is difficult to deal with critiques. I know I had trouble at first. Shyness can be crippling, as I said, and I think your advice to your younger self is excellent. Often we need a person or situation to push us into taking action, if we won't do it on our own.

      Delete
  12. Good morning Steve and thank you for this inspirational post.

    It seems like your becoming-an-author story is not that unusual in that most of us wished would've grabbed the bulls by the horns earlier.

    The thing w/writing is there is no guarantee. And that's scary. Whether I work at Burger King or am CEO of a large company, I make an agreement with what my salary will be. I'm not certain anyone will ever buy my books. I can self-publish, but again, someone has to buy and like my stories so they'll buy again.

    Even though I've read many posts of author's journeys, yours hit me upside the head this morning.

    If I could go back in time...I probably wouldn't have believed myself until I saw it w/my own eyes anyway. LOL.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "I'm not certain anyone will ever buy my books." Well said, Connie! This is something I've struggled with, too. Frankly it's the hardest part, and it can dampen my enthusiasm for writing more. But the joy of creating these stories has to win out over everything. Very glad you commented! And I agree, I wouldn't have believed until I saw.

      Delete
  13. A good post and helpful, STEVE. It's especially meaningful for the last week of 2016, as we assess what we did and didn't accomplish. I did not meet my biggest goal, snagging either an agent or a publisher. But I hope I met God's goals for me.
    It is in His timing.
    It's been a good year, I made a lot of new friends here and on Writers Alley, won one contest and had a request for a full from an agent. Improved my social media profile, learned what I was doing wrong. Found a new critique partner and started my own personal study of structure, an area where I am weak. Lot of baby steps, but at least they're steps.
    STEVE, I am shy too and have spent most of my adult life as a working journalist. Got laid off in 2006 but stayed in the field because I didn't have the time or money to train for anything else. It's interesting, I was bitter at the time, but looking back 10 years, I see I would have missed a lot of rich experiences if I had stayed with that company. I remember about a month before the layoff, when I was upset about something at work and I heard God say to me, "I have something better for you." I still don't know what that was, but I know I would never go back.
    I lived in Boston when I was younger. What a great city.
    Kathy Bailey

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I miss Boston and need to find time to take my boys (ages 12 and 14) there. Funnily enough, it was a class trip my sophomore year of high school that inspired me to pursue my college education at BU.

      Critique is hard, and it took me a long time to develop a thick skin as far as my writing is concerned. Being a journalist helps, because they aren't polite when your news article is bad! I'm very glad to hear you've had great experiences in the past decade, and that you're growing as a writer.

      Delete
    2. Okay, I have to say that I lived outside of Boston, near Leominster for a year when I was in the Army and to this day it remains one of the most memorable places I have journeyed through.

      Delete
  14. Welcome Steve! If I could go back in time. . it would be to tell myself to trust the Lord.

    I would love the library bags. I love those cards and they bring back good memories. Please enter me in the contest!
    Becky B.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I will admit I don't know much about speculative fiction.

    If I could go back to anytime in my past I am not sure what it would be. Perhaps about eleven years ago when I was feeling discouraged and was under attack from the devil. I would tell myself to continue to trust the Lord. He knows what is best for each of us. He is also there for us even in the difficult days. The changes that came about as a result of that time, I can see the Lord's hands through it all. I never dreamed I would be attacked by a patient and end up with a permanent injury where I couldn't work. As a result I suddenly had time to read and write. I now have time when my health allows to develop as a writer. The Lord is good.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow! That is an amazing story, Wilani. I'm glad you do have the time. That's what strikes me, with all these stories, is how difficult it is for us to comprehend the plans He has for us... which is, perhaps, why the Bible tells us so.

      Delete
  16. If I could go back in time I would go back to my early years. I would tell myself that God is watching over me and He will bring me through ALL that comes my way.

    Please enter me in the drawing for the Out Of Print tote.

    ReplyDelete
  17. If I could go back in time (if I knew then what I know now) I'd follow God's leading instead of church pressure. Although not wasted, and I didn't leave God, my life would be happier.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very insightful, Marianne. Sometimes church can be difficult, because people are people - as in, we are all sinful beings.

      Delete
    2. Marianne, more and more as I get older, I get back to true basics with faith. John 3:16. The path to God is through simple belief in Jesus Christs.
      So much of what we think of as morality, life choices....mean nothing. What MATTERS IS do you BELIEVE. Beyond that, your choices are between you and God and we all waste most of our lives judging people...including mostly OURSELVES by a measuring stick of our own invention.

      Delete
    3. Steve, technically I belonged to a cult...

      Delete
  18. Good morning, Steve! Welcome to Seekerville.

    If I could go back in time, I'd tell my younger self to trust the promptings of the Holy Spirit, follow His lead, and remember that He is FOR me. I think that would be a good foundation to operate by.

    ~ Renee McBride

    ReplyDelete
  19. Hello Steve,
    Great post. I struggle between understanding if it's God's will or stubbornness or just my pride. Trust is so easy to say and pray about, but hard to give 100%. LOL It might be a reason I love creating stories. I'm in control - I know the past, present and future. The character's might inspire and take me down path's I never imagine but ultimately I am the one in total control. I tell them not to worry - there will be a happy ending. God has told us the same thing, but we still seem to doubt. Thank you for visiting Seekerville

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Jolene. I share your sentiments about writing fiction. My control freak level is pretty high! Yes, it is hard to trust God and get past the doubt, and that's why I'm glad he's in charge - because I don't know best.

      Delete
  20. Welcome to Seekerville, Steve! I really enjoyed reading about your journey.

    If I could go back in time and give myself advice, I'd tell myself to stop talking about being a published author "one day" and start writing. I wasted over thirty years dreaming about being an author without doing anything to pursue that dream. On the other hand, it's probably a good thing I can't go back and give myself advice because I know I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be. I'm four years into this journey to publication, and even though I get frustrated at how long it's taking, I know I have to keep trudging along. My younger self would have given up a long time ago thinking I gave it a shot, obviously I'm not meant to be a writer. Then she/I probably would have never looked back or tried again.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Hey, STEVE, WELCOME TO SEEKERVILLE!! I really enjoyed reading your writer's journey and am highly encouraged by it as well.

    And let me just say right off the bat that there are two types of writers that both intimidate and impress me because I think they have to be WAY smarter than the rest of us, and those are mystery/suspense writers and speculative writers! I am truly in awe of the intelligence it takes not only to keep a reader guessing as far as a mystery, but to create entirely new worlds like you do, which is pretty mind-boggling to me.

    LOVE YOUR CHALLENGE OF: Imagine you have one chance to travel into the past to meet your younger self. How far back would you go? What would you tell yourself about your life to come?

    I would go back to the very first barbs and pains I experienced as a child and teach myself to forgive and pray for those people, reinforcing that not only does God every hair on each of our heads, but He has a specific plan and purpose in mind for every single one of us!

    Hugs!
    Julie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Appreciate your kind words, Julie! I am actually in greater awe of mystery writers than us speculative fiction folks, because of the detail required for a really good mystery novel. I've only tried it once or twice, and man, it's hard! As for the creating new worlds, I'm thankful that it's something that is never a problem for me, because I recognize how mind-boggling it can be. A lot of what I do to create a new story world is looking at real history and politics, then either reconfiguring those or brainstorming a new fiction based on fact.

      Sounds like you have great advice for your younger self! Forgiveness is best to learn at a young age.

      Delete
    2. Okay, I am with Julie, I have begun to understand the mystery writer world and even begun to attempt one, but even after your response to me the spec fiction world is still elusive.

      So I'm going to ask a few more questions.

      Are the stories all allegorical?

      What makes an inspirational spec fiction? Do you purposely lay out that allegorical thread?

      I mean with an inspirational romance it used to be the internal conflict, external conflict, character arc and inspy thread. Now the genre has changed to make the inspirational element ORGANIC. Christian world view and really there isn't always an inspirational thread so to speak.

      Okay, so spec fiction. Internal conflict, external conflict, character arc..but what about the Christian world view? Is it organic or is it allegorical? Or is each story different.

      I don't exactly get that part.

      Or am I overthinking.

      More questions:

      Christian spec fiction moves easily between the CBA and ABA then, correct? How do you know where to market your stories?

      Delete
    3. Tina I contend that a whole lot of spec fiction is very nearly Christian, even when written by non-Christians who would deny it.
      Star Wars? For heaven's sake's Come to the Dark Side, Luke...? Let the Force by With You.
      How about Harry Potter and his life long fight against evil? Harry is good, Voldemort is evil. Harry is 'the one'. A child is born. This is a classic Christian battle.

      Delete
    4. But it's so much better if those hidden messages are brought to light as Christian, and it's a natural fit.

      Delete
    5. Tina, the Christian world view is often absent in a lot of spec fiction, because it's written by people who don't believe. However, Mary is right, the themes we recognize as "Christian" appear in a lot of works.

      The speculative fiction I write includes characters who have Christian world views and those who do not, so I guess that's considered organic. Some of my books, like "For Us Humans," blatantly tackle questions of salvation and faith. Others approach it more subtly.

      Christian spec fiction, unfortunately, does not move easily between CBA and ABA, because - as I mentioned - lots of sci fi and fantasy readers turn up their noses at even a whiff of Christianity. Yes, you can have themes, but if you mention Jesus or the Bible or church you run into heavy criticism. Christian authors, then, must weave their faith more subtly into stories aimed at the ABA market.

      Delete
    6. Thanks for tackling that question.Very helpful answer!

      Delete
  22. STEVE, welcome to Seekerville. Thanks for this encouraging post! I love reading examples of God at work in the lives of others, especially when He brings good from what appears to be bad, as He did for you.

    Congratulations on your success! Like Julie, I'm awed by those who can create new worlds. I write Americana, at the other end of the spectrum, but we share the goal of honoring God with our stories. Everyone here does.

    If I could travel back, I'd tell my twelve-year-old self to keep writing, instead of tucking the dream away for later. Much later. Still all the wonderful things I experienced during those "not writing" years were precious, my greatest joys: marriage, teaching, children.

    Janet

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Janet! Funny you mention Julie's and your awe with spec fiction - I feel the same way about Americana and historical fiction. I'm always impressed by the level of craft exhibited by authors such as yourself.

      Delete
  23. I've written one true mystery series and even though it's a light hearted cozy mystery, I think it was the hardest thing I've ever done. Even more so...yes I got them written but to do it really WELL, which I'm not sure I can claim...that impresses me. That take plotting. NOT my strength.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Steve that traveling back in time question is so challenging.
    All I can think of is that all I did before, including some really stupid stuff, brought me to where I am now. If I convince myself to be less stupid would it change everything?
    This is tricky, and yes...I wonder if I would have kept writing (I did a little in high school) if I would have gotten published earlier. But I set it all aside for years.
    I was busy with babies. My Cowboy and I had no computer and no money...well we had some coming in but it ALL had a home. Besides I'd've had to write on a typerwriter. How do you EDIT on one of those!
    God bless you for coming through that season of discouragement so brilliantly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I see your point about warning yourself. Would not doing those dumb things alter the future for better, or worse? Even bigger question - would God let the future be altered? Is it even possible?

      That's my spec fiction brain at work!

      Also, very impressed you wrote your book on a typewriter. Had to make editing a beast, as you say.

      Delete
  25. wow. thanks for sharing your publication journey. it's really cool to see how God took care of you and your dream of writing - even if having you lose your job seems to be a bit drastic. sometimes that kick in the pants hurts. I so understand the not having the creative energy at the end of the day to write. I guess God knew you had all those words stopped up inside and you just needed the time and refreshed creativity to let them flow out. Thanks again for sharing.
    I'm not sure what I'd tell my younger self about her future - although I would go back to high school and tell her that she was in no way, shape or form overweight. I always thought I was and as a result, felt less than. I was actually in perfect shape and weight and I think that boost of confidence would've helped a bunch for college.

    I would love to get a critique for speculative, except for the fact that I only have short fragments of stories (kind of like your history). I have nothing worthy of your time and effort. *heavy sigh* Very generous of you.

    thanks again for your story. it's both scary and wonderfully encouraging.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Deb, don't give up, even if you have fragments. Right now, I have several fragments of things, and it often takes willpower to sit down and focus on one.

      I admire your message to your past self. As a guy on the thin end of the scale, I'd do the same, because as an adult, people value me not based on my weight but on who I am - my actions and my words.

      Saw your list of favorite authors. Yes indeed! Also very much enjoy Ben Bova's work, though I only just started reading him in the past few years.

      Delete
  26. Thanks for sharing, Steve! What would I tell myself if I could travel back in time? Where would I even start! My life has been a series of twists, turns, roundabouts, deadends, and freeways.

    Like you I spent 12 years as a journalist, starting my junior year in college. Then magazines, unpubbed novels, screenwriting, freelance, book editor.

    I'd probably tell myself not to marry my first husband at the age of 19. Fast forward a few years, and I'd tell myself not to join a cult and work in their international headquarters. But then I never would have met my second husband (we celebrated our 40th anniversary in June) and I probably wouldn't have returned to the Lord at age 35. I wasted a lot of time chasing things after God when He was there the whole time.

    I published two novels in the mid-90s, wrote lots of devotionals and gift books as work-for-hire, and just this year published a novella in a Christmas collection.

    When I look back, would I change anything? Lots. But would I be the person I am today? Doubtful.

    I just wish God had slapped me upside the head a little earlier. lol

    ReplyDelete
  27. Thanks for sharing, Steve! What would I tell myself if I could travel back in time? Where would I even start! My life has been a series of twists, turns, roundabouts, deadends, and freeways.

    Like you I spent 12 years as a journalist, starting my junior year in college. Then magazines, unpubbed novels, screenwriting, freelance, book editor.

    I'd probably tell myself not to marry my first husband at the age of 19. Fast forward a few years, and I'd tell myself not to join a cult and work in their international headquarters. But then I never would have met my second husband (we celebrated our 40th anniversary in June) and I probably wouldn't have returned to the Lord at age 35. I wasted a lot of time chasing things after God when He was there the whole time.

    I published two novels in the mid-90s, wrote lots of devotionals and gift books as work-for-hire, and just this year published a novella in a Christmas collection.

    When I look back, would I change anything? Lots. But would I be the person I am today? Doubtful.

    I just wish God had slapped me upside the head a little earlier. lol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hahahaha, this reminds me of ME! Barb, I think he was slapping us all along. Talk about road markers. But I was too jaded to get it. It's when he took my heart of stone and replaced it with a heart of flesh that I finally felt His presence.

      Delete
    2. Congrats on your novels and other published works! Wow, sounds like your life has been full of twists and turns, as you say. It is funny how much of our lives we spend running after things God would likely we didn't pursue, but he'll often let us figure that out.

      I, too, wish for an earlier head-slapping, but thankfully he continues to administer those on a regular basis.

      Delete
    3. Your cult time of life sounds like the makings for a great book. Ever consider putting a bit of that time into one of your stories?

      Delete
    4. I have, Debby, but I don't think most readers are that interested. Makes for good stories at parties though, especially since we can laugh about it now. :-)

      Delete
  28. what an encouraging and inspiring post. It's a beautiful testimony to trusting God in those dark, confusing times. He always seems to have a better plan than we can ever imagine.

    Love the term Speculative. I was a school librarian and I'd buy spine labels to identify sci-fi, fantasy, historical etc. But it got to the point that it was hard to distinguish between sci-fi and fantasy -- especially when time travel was involved. Oy. But then some clever person thought up speculative and my library world was orderly again. :-)

    What would I go back and tell my younger self? Oh -- too many things to mention here. One would be "Stop reading through math class. Seriously, girl, you'll need some rudimentary arithmetic skills to get through life so keep the novels in your locker!"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha! Funny what you said about sci fi and fantasy. My colleagues have the same problem. I tell them a good rule of thumb is this: if it has spaceships, it's sci fi, and if it has magic/dragons, it's fantasy. :)

      "He always seems to have a better plan than we can ever imagine." - Well put!

      Delete
  29. p.s.
    growing up I LOVED Isaac Asimov, Orson Scott Card, and Anne McCaffrey. still do. my mom never quite understood my sci-fi fantasy fascination.

    ReplyDelete
  30. "If I convince myself to be less stupid would it change everything?" This reminds me of that show Timeless and did anyone do a marathon of Travelers on Netflix? I didn't even MEAN to watch it, passing through the room and got SUCKED into more than half of the episodes. WHOA!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOVE "Timeless!" I've been hooked since the first episode. :-)

      Delete
    2. I'm a sucker for time travel, too. Been watching The Flash (superhero show) on the CW network, and they deal not only with time travel but also alternate worlds. Lots of good messages about not fooling around with the timeline, but as one character reminded the main character, there's also the admonition to not think of oneself as God, even if you have superpowers.

      Delete
  31. Steve, I can so relate. After working 28 years in corporate America, the last 15 or so as Materials/Purchasing Manager, I quit work to fulfill my dream of staying home to work: ACFW staff, writing, family business(es) bookkeeping, etc.

    I worked for a heating unit manufacturer and the stress was draining. I was either ramping inventory up at galactic speed, or DOWN like a rocket ship hurtling toward earth. There was no in between. Sigh.

    Sure, I now have crazy days, I'm still behind most of the time, and I can't see the light at the end of the five tunnels stretching out in front of me, but they're MY tunnels, and I get to choose which one to go down first (well, mostly. lol) and how far to go before jumping the track.

    Enjoy the journey and congrats on your success. Sounds like becoming a librarian was one of the best things to ever happen to you job-wise. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pam, thanks very much. I can see how there's different kinds of stress, and it sounds like you make quite the change in your life! Yes, becoming a librarian is a funny thing because now it's my career--my longest-running job.

      Delete
  32. Well that's a tough question, but I suppose I would go back... um... well you see I don't have that much of a past to go back to but I suppose I would go back to 2011 when I was eleven and just starting to write seriously. I would then be very bossy and tell myself exactly what to write so by the time the present came around I would be a more developed author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. But, honestly if I had a time travel machine why would I just go back to MY timeline? I would race across time learning all the deep dark mysteries that the answers have been hidden in the past like whatever happened to Roanoke Colony or Mohenjo-Daro. Or perhaps just to go back in time to when dragons and unicorns roamed the earth so I could very gleefully say "Yes! I knew they existed!" Before whispering under my breath *and everyone else just thought I was crackers*.

      But really the possibilities of having a time machine under my command would be endless.

      Delete
    2. Nicky, is our resident teenage amazing writer who is self-publishing. And she IS amazing. Tell Steve about what you write, Nicky.

      Delete
    3. Nicky, I would totally do the same thing! Ancient mysteries are intriguing.

      Delete
    4. I like to write fantasy myself, but really all things in the speculative fiction category float my boat. I've published two books that are in a series about teenagers transported to another world, but I hope to write many more in all genres of the speculative fiction category -other fantasies, steampunk, time travel, even possibly a space story... the possibilities are endless.

      Delete
  33. For those of you who do not realize, Steve deserves a large "oooh, ahhh" and hand clap for publishing with a Kevin J. Anderson imprint. That's really huge. For romance writers like us, it's like being part of a Nora Roberts imprint.

    So congratulations, Steve.

    ReplyDelete
  34. What advice would you give to newbie spec fiction writers. Attend conferences? Enter contests? Anything special that stand out on your journey as far as human interaction that you recommend?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, do attend conferences. It's one I haven't had the time to do lately, but I hope to remedy that soon. The best experience I had was at Salt Lake City Comic Con this September. To sell you book point-blank to possible readers, you have to hone your pitch down to a sentence. One line to hook them, much like when you do a proposal or even a gripping first sentence for your story. I also got to see how other authors interact, for good or bad, which was a tremendous eye-opener. Make sure that you also have a good support group, such as I do with fellow Marcher Lord Press (now Enclave Publishing) authors. You need fellow writers who understand the joys and trials - they're the only ones who can truly commiserate!

      Delete
  35. Welcome to Seekerville, Steve, and thanks for your interesting post. You're a world builder! I'm so impressed. Your mind must stretch almost too far with each new world you build. And the details you need to remember! Amazing!!!

    I wouldn't want to change anything about my life, but I would have enjoyed being tuned in earlier to the reality of God's perfect timing. Once we accept that as reality, life gets a whole lot easier to accept. At least, that's the way I see it.

    I brought Christmas chocolates to share that have been marked down at the grocery and are now cheap but still so yummy! Enjoy!

    Is there any coffee in the pot? I'd love a cup of java!

    Hugs to all!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Debby! Yes, my brain gets overloaded from time to time. I accept it as part of the job. Luckily, I get to write down most of the details!

      Delete
  36. What a great speculative question. I'd go back to my early teenage years and encourage myself to go out of my comfort zone to make more friends at school. I've seen God take my life on a path I didn't expect, and it's way better than the plans I had :)

    Please enter me in the giveaway for the tote bag- I love libraries and am nostalgic for the way things used to be done with the stamped cards and card catalogs. I still use my very first library card that I signed when I was five years old!

    ReplyDelete
  37. Oh man, I'd go back to my teenage self and tell me not to bother dating a few guys. LOL. I think that was a little too much of my concern and I needed to read more! :) That tote bag is ADORABLE! Thanks for the giveaway.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Steve, welcome! Thanks for your post. I truly believe in God's perfect timing. If I had it to do over again, I would probably go back to the time when I started writing and tell myself to take my time and learn more before sending those first submissions. :) I'd also tell myself to be patient this time around.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Missy. Yes, patience is one of the areas in which I need improvement, though I don't need to time travel to tell myself that one!

      Delete
  39. Steve, it's getting late in the blog day although we have a good bit of folks who get this post by email a day late and will stop by later and in the am. BUT...I digress, I wanted to thank you for taking the time to answer all the questions and comments so thoroughly. Please come back any time. Happy Spec Fic New Year to you.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Thank you very much, Tina. I had a blast! Happy New Year to you, too.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Here I am reading and writing in after 8:30 pm here in AZ.
    Steve, thank you for sharing your story. You remind me that God means a lot of things for our good even when we don't quite see it.

    I was a big steampunk fan back in my comic book devouring days--specifically Ruse by CrossGen. Sorry for digressing there. You have reminded me to check back in. :)

    Now if I were to go back into time to speak to my younger self, I believe I would speak to the 27-year-old single mom me back in Rhode Island. I would let her know that it is going to be okay, and also tell her that she is allowed to still pursue her dream in the midst of single mommieness.

    Thank you again for sharing. Happy New Year!

    ReplyDelete
  42. Amazing and God-glorifying post! This really encouraged me, Steve. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  43. Hi Steve,
    Thank you for your post. I am a former journalist too, seeking to use my gift to His glory. My genre is mystery, but I grew up loving science fiction - and still do. I am starting to query agents with my first book and am encouraged by your comment - "The hand guiding you is the same one that ordains the times for nations." Thank you for the reminder! May God bless you in 2017. Debbie Rasure

    ReplyDelete
  44. I would be thrilled to win the critique or the bag :) Or you know, both ;)

    ReplyDelete
  45. This was an uplifting post, Steve. Thank you. I'd travel back to when I was 14 and my dad had just died. I'd tell my younger self not to despair: God saw me and would restore my joy.

    ReplyDelete
  46. Speculative fiction isn't a genre that I read much but I certainly enjoyed this post. If I could go back to a former time I would choose to get my Master's Degree in Library Science. I was a librarian in a public library for 22 1/2 years but a Paraprofessional certific as tw was all that was required.
    Connie
    cps1950(AT)gmail(DOT)com

    ReplyDelete
  47. I'd go back to my late teen years & try to do it better.
    Deanna S dkstevensneAT outlook (DOT)com
    Love that bag :)

    ReplyDelete
  48. Back in my late teens, I would tell myself "Keep going!"

    ReplyDelete