Monday, March 30, 2015

Doctor Who and My First Book Signing

A year ago, my lovely sister-in-law (follow her wonderful blog Freckles and Fireflies here*) Erin told me about an interesting post on her Facebook wall: someone was looking for Christian writers who also happened to love Doctor Who. Doctor Who is, of course, the amazing and quirky BBC sci-fi show that has been going strong for over 50 years (!). Since I fit into this very specific category, Erin passed on some contact info, and I wrote an essay.

And then, I basically forgot about it until the beginning of this year, when I got an email announcing the book launch party was scheduled for March 26th,** in Lancaster, PA.

The FB event poster.

Well, I live in West Michigan, which puts Lancaster at about 10 hours away. I thought, "Maybe next time," but then things worked out, I rented a car, and managed to make my very first book signing, as an author! This is a big milestone (after all, it's what I'd like to do for the rest of my life!), and I had a blast on my whirlwind drive to the east. My only regret was that I didn't have more time to sightsee or spend with the lovely people I met (or to take a detour down to Baltimore and go exploring!).

My drive from Ann Arbor (where I stopped for an ABA meeting) was pretty uneventful, even dull, but I had forgotten how lovely southeast Pennsylvania was. The mountains aren't huge here, but they are blue and hazy, and get The Hobbit's "Misty Mountains" song adequately stuck in your head.***
Maybe it's just me, but I'll take any bit of the mountains I can get
Anyhow, I also got to drive through tunnels. WHEEEEEEEE! (I honestly love them). After the fun of the tunnels, I had to stop and take a pretty picture of the backdrop:
It's hard to capture the size/scale from a parking lot, but what can you do. It's still pretty though.

So, anyway, after miles of driving (and lots of BBC news), I finally pulled into a drizzly Lancaster. I met my host Tom Becker (check out his cool ministry here), and then made myself at home.
I spent the next day exploring Lancaster with my friend Claire and her precious son, John. I sort of forgot (for real) that my phone has a camera until too late. As it was, I only got a few pics of historic, downtown Lancaster before it was time to go to the book signing. Here are few of the cool pictures I did take:
The Shippen House
That door though . . .

After the wandering, we ate a fabulous dinner and walked to the signing.The book signing was at an amazing old bank turned performance venue, the Lancaster Trust
Image taken from
The talk was by Gregory Thornbury, president of Kings College in New York (and one of the book editors), and it was fantastic! From the fifth commandment to the Doctor's genesis, Mr. Thornbury was enthusiastic, varied, and a great speaker. He might have gotten me into Doctor Who if I wasn't already.

After the talk was the most exciting part: the book signing! At the store where I work, I've handled my fair share of these, from setting up to selling an author's books, but this was my first time on the other side of the table. It felt amazing, and I can't wait to do it again. Though the book has fourteen essays, there were only a handful of us in attendance, but it was still great. That's me in the center with the book (yellow leggings!).

The book is full of fascinating essays on everything from Prayer to Temptation to the Sanctity of Life (mine!), explored through Doctor Who. It's called Bigger on the Inside: Christianity and Doctor Who, and it's published through Square Halo books. You can read more about it here. You can also check out their cool blog Christianity and Doctor Who.

I am now an officially published author. How is that for a weekend?

*Erin is a funny, talented writer. Follow her.

**March 26th, 2015 was a significant date because (drumroll) it was 10 years ago that day that the 9th Doctor and the reboot catapulted the show into the 21st century.

***I think that song is one thing book people, movie people, and people who had their dad sing it to them in a made-up tune all agreed on. Every version I've heard sounds a lot like this.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Since I Am Not So Great at Blogging, Here's Something I Can Do!

As anyone who stumbles upon this page will see, I am an erratic blogger. However, I do like to write book reviews! Reading is really how I ended up writing anyhow, so I think this time, I'm going to go full circle.

The last book I read was Stitching Snow, by R. C. Lewis:

Take a minute to admire this cover. Pretty cool.

Stitching Snow was (as you might have guessed by the cover) a retelling of Snow White. It also happened to be in space (and no, it is not a rip off of Cinder, but a totally different sci-fi take).

In brief, Essie, a cage fighter on a lonely mining planet of Thanda, gets kidnapped by a *mysterious young good-looking dude named Dane. Essie is a brilliant inventor, and she "stitches" machines together (the coding, programming, and designing is referred to her as stitching), which I thought (as a crafty person) was a cool metaphor. Essie's only companions pre-Dane were seven mining droids with disparate personalities (one of the more original takes on the Seven Dwarves, for sure).
  Anyhow, after Dane figures out that Essie is the lost Princess Snow he's been hunting, he kidnaps her and they hurtle off into space adventures. There is a lot of baggage, an evil queen, and a truly terrifying king (Essie's abusive father, think Deerskin, *shudders*), and some obnoxious techies as well.

What worked/what I liked: 

1. Essie is a strong heroine who overcomes a dreadful past, and not all of her strength is physical/kickbutt. She's a programmer, which is very cool. Unlike many YA heroines of the same type (I'm looking at you Katniss), she ultimately decides to do the right thing for the greater good, and doesn't let her past reduce her to a passive victim.
2. No love triangle 
3. The Seven Dwarves as robots 
4. Every major element of Snow White made it in, in a unique sci-fi way, from the Huntsman, to the apple.
5. The cover. Just look at it for a minute.

What didn't work/What I didn't like:

1. The flimsy worldbuilding. Honestly, the author had the makings of a fascinating new world with all the cultures and trappings of sci-fantasy, aaaand, she just didn't do much with it. I really wanted to know more about Essie's universe.
2. In that same line, I felt like the author only brushed the surface of the characters outside of Essie. The evil queen, Olivia, in particular, felt more like a caricature than a character, and [outside of being vain and evil] I wasn't exactly sure why she did what she did. (You can fill in the blanks and guess, right, but that's no substitute for a well drawn character)
3. Dane was boring. Other than being principled (minus the abduction part) and a devoted son, and in love with Essie, there wasn't much there. This is more minor, as he was the love interest/plot catalyst, not the main character, but I would have liked to see more personality. His motivations and actions were understandable, as were his feelings for Essie, but he just felt flat to me.
4. Essie's computer skills were awesome-but I don't think we saw them enough. I would have liked to know more about her "stitching," and how she learned to do it so well.
5. Honestly, everyone and everything but Essie and her robots seemed half-formed. I think that was, overall, my biggest problem with the book. There were a lot of storylines and complex threads, but few of them were fully explored. It's hard to write more without spoilers, so I'll leave it there.

Overall: 3 out of 5 stars

*Seriously, where do all of these mysterious good-looking dudes with a past come from? I think there is a factory. In space.