My personal theory about aliens and the universe

This is just a bunch of thoughts that have been rolling around in my head lately. Like aliens. And other planets. And Mars.

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Temples of the Giant by MacRebisz

I ascribe to creationism, which means that I believe God created the universe and the Earth in six days. Evolution teaches that the world built itself (or was built by aliens, but I’m not sure that’s actually evolution anymore–at least not Darwin’s).

According to evolution, life pops into being randomly. Like spawn points in a videogame, bugs and bacteria just appear, then grow and change into better and better creatures until they achieve sentience. This means that there must be aliens on other planets, too.

Except we haven’t found any. SETI has been listening for years. We keep finding tons of new exoplanets (and some are really bizarre, like the one with the rings that are like 200 times bigger than Saturn’s).

UFOs just keep getting debunked. (My father-in-law served in the Air Force for 20+ years, and he says that he can debunk most, if not all, UFO sightings.)

We keep learning about our own solar system and how inhospitable it is. Mars has chemicals in its dirt that will poison us. Venus has electrical fields that blast away all oxygen. Jupiter has a magnetic field so strong that getting probes near it takes superhuman effort. Not only is there no life on these planets, it definitely couldn’t spawn there randomly.

This is discouraging for evolutionists (and creationists who would love for there to be aliens). The universe is depressingly empty. Yet our very DNA is a programming language written by someone. There is Someone out there–either God or aliens, and if the aliens built our DNA, then they might as well be gods.

But as we find planet after empty planet, this theory seems to have hit a dead end. We haven’t found aliens and we should have.

So instead, I offer my Big Creationist Theory of the Universe. It’s the inverse of the alien theory.

Back when God created the world, it was perfect. No death. People and animals lived forever. But God told them to be fruitful and multiply, to fill the Earth.

Well, with no death, the Earth would soon be full of both people and animals. Bursting at the seams with life, as it were.

As it just so happens, there’s a billion jillion empty planets out there.

If Jesus’s teleportation powers were something that all humanity had before sin entered the world, then space travel wouldn’t have been an issue. We could just jump to whichever worlds we wanted.

I mean, Mars had an ocean at one point. Venus is still slowing down and apparently had liquid water at one point, too. The asteroid belt might have been a planet that shattered–there’s water ice on Vesta. Not to mention the various moons around the gas giants–science fiction writers have been colonizing those for years.

The reason we haven’t found aliens out there is because those are OUR planets. We were supposed to travel out and live there, taking our animals with us. Those other planets may have had water, plants, animals, who knows–but like Mars and Venus, the universe is broken now.

Now we have death. While our population is growing, the earth is far from being full. Getting to other planets takes advanced technology that we’re still developing. We don’t have supernatural teleportation, and heaven help us if we did. The other planets are inhospitable and deadly. We can live on them with a huge amount of effort (see: The Martian).

So yeah, that’s my theory of why there’s no aliens out there. There’s absolutely no way to prove it, and I don’t have any arguments with people who like other theories better. It’s just a fun thing to think about sometimes–what it might have been like to populate the entire universe. To live on a moon near a gas giant, and to wake up every morning to an ever-changing sky of striped, swirling colors. We can only experience that in videogames.

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The Grand Eclipse by JustV23

Three years of publishing mistakes

My second-youngest turned three last month. I published my first book while I was in labor with her. It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long!

That first book (YA contemporary fantasy) now has three more books in its series. I’ve also written three clean werewolf romance novellas, some short stories, and the first book of a YA paranormal romance. I’ve made a ton of mistakes and learned even more. Here’s some of it:

Spacetime mistakes:

Lousy description: Nobody will read your book if you can’t describe what it’s about. Or if you can’t point out other books or movies similar to yours. I’ve made this mistake multiple times. Fortunately, Amazon made things easier by sticking it in Chosen One Multiversal Adventure.

Muddy genre: The Spacetime books could be urban fantasy–if I had any idea what urban fantasy WAS when I started writing them. I hit a few genre tropes in a scattershot way and pulled in way too many other elements. Alien robots? Werewolves? Ghostly energy beings? Alchemy? Fast cars? Time and space magic? Yeah, the elements are there–I just couldn’t seem to pull it off.

Regency Shifters Romance mistakes:

Genre mistakes: Same deal with the clean werewolf romance. Notice the “clean” part? Yeah, nobody wants that in this genre. They also don’t want historical, and these books are slow. Like, Jane Eyre with werewolves. They’re also too short–fifty to sixty pages each. I love them all, but nobody else does. Ah well, live and learn!

Malevolent mistakes

I started to make progress with Malevolent, the YA paranormal romance. I wanted a creature that had the characteristics of a vampire but wasn’t a vampire. So Mal is a lich who manipulates the energy of life and death itself.

Botched release date: This book was intended to be a trilogy that released over the course of a year. The book hit its intended market and sold pretty well. The trouble was, I had a baby right in the middle. So books 2 and 3 were written–I just couldn’t touch them for most of the following year.

Now both books are revised and awaiting editing. They’re set to launch in spring of 2017. And oh man, are they GOOD. I hope they’re a fresh addition to a vampire-saturated genre.

Malevolent is available on Nook, Kobo and iBooks for the first time! It’s like a new release, and I’m super excited. The cover even got some new bells and whistles–see?

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I intended to publish three books this year, but only managed two–Outfoxing the Wolf and Magic Weaver. Malcontent never quite made it, although it’s going through edits right now. It was close! I currently have three finished books waiting for edits: Malcontent and Malicious (books 2 and 3), and a cozy mystery about dragons and ice cream tentatively called Takes the Drake. Coming to a bookstore near you in 2017!

So that’s been my publishing journey. I’ve worked with lots of fantastic editors, artists, and wordsmiths. It’s been such an honor to rub shoulders with people I respect to the point of reverence: Chris Fox and Rachel Aaron and Elizabeth Spann Craig and Joanna Penn. None of them know I exist, but they’ve taught me so much.

Dragons and fairies – interview with Ralene Burke

Today I’m interviewing Ralene Burke, author of the fantasy novel Bellanok. I just finished reading it, and it was a fun, gentle romp through a fantasyland with a heaping helping of faith. Here’s the interview!

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 1.  Welcome to the blog, Ralene! Thanks for joining us! First, tell us about your book. What genre/age group is it for? And what’s the story about?
Bellanok is a contemporary fantasy geared toward readers in their 20s. Although, I’ve heard from readers of all ages, including YA readers, who have enjoyed the story. Here’s the blurb:
A haven for myths and legends . . . until evil discovers a way in.

With evil darkening the mountains to the north, the fairy queen, Fauna, must journey from the island realm of Bellanok to the modern world to find the man the Creator appointed to save their kingdom. A man she has been dreaming of her whole life.

Brian is a down-on-his-luck pastor on the verge of giving up on God. He’s tired and frustrated–a failure. No sooner does he make a decision that jeopardizes his career than an unusual blonde woman shows up and tries to convince him he is some kind of savior.

Fauna must open Brian’s eyes to a different reality, and Brian needs to embrace the haven’s secrets. If neither of them succeeds, Bellanok will succumb to evil and the world will lose all trace of innocence.

2. What made you want to write this particular story?
It all started with a prayer. I was asking God for guidance on where to go after finishing edits on a WIP. The first chapter of Bellanok popped into my head. After a couple of days with that chapter demanding to be written, I sat down and cranked it out. That seemed to alleviate the urgency while I finished the current WIP, but the story was still building in the back of my mind. Once I had time, I was able to start cranking out the story.

3. What was your favorite part to write?
Any part with Roman in it? Seriously, Roman was my favorite character to write—mostly because he’s just so different from me. But he says many things that I wish I had the guts to say. Ha!

4. What was the hardest part to write?
I can’t tell you that without revealing a major plot point in the story. I will say, bring out the tissues! The second hardest part to write was the end. For several scenes in the final battles, Fauna and Brian are in separate places with different dangers around them.

5. This book was originally written in serial format. What are the pros and cons of writing that way?
Ah, yes, the serial project was an interesting experience. I had fun with it and would totally try to do it again (though I would change a few things).
Pros: The serial format allowed me to keep putting my name/story out in front of readers with each release, thus helping to build a following more quickly.
The serial forced me to think on my feet and make a cohesive story without being able to go back and change things. So it was a great exercise for stretching my writing muscles.
Cons: Ideally, each part of the serial would have released about 6-8 weeks apart. Due to life, that didn’t happen. So while the serial format did help to build a following, it wasn’t as effective as it should have been.
I don’t like not being able to go back to previous parts and change details or plot lines. Of course, that could be solved by writing the whole thing first—but that would have taken too long!

6. The theme of Bellanok is a journey back into faith. Why is this important to you?
It’s important to me because much of Brian’s journey is mine as well. I’ve always been a believer, but it wasn’t until my 20s that I reached a time when my faith was challenged, where I felt that I just couldn’t connect with God.
While it didn’t take me journeying to a mystical island to save unicorns to find that connection, God did have to bring me to my knees before I was able to see the problems.
I think many people go through the same kind of challenges—each unique to the person—but with the same struggles and desperation. Bellanok helps readers to sort through the coinciding emotions and thoughts while escaping with Brian to fight the battle and save the world.

Thank you for joining us on the blog today, Ralene! Best of luck with Bellanok and all future books!

Check out Bellanok on Amazon!

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RALENE BURKE BIO:
Whether she’s wielding a fantasy writer’s pen, a freelance editor’s sword, or a social media wand, Ralene Burke always has her head in some dreamer’s world. And her goal is to help everyone SHINE BEYOND! She has worked for a variety of groups, including Realm Makers, The Christian PEN, Kentucky Christian Writers Conference, and as an editor for several freelance clients. Her first novel, Bellanok, is available on Amazon!
When her head’s not in the publishing world, she is wife to a veteran and homeschooling mama to their three kids. Her Pinterest board would have you believe she is a master chef, excellent seamstress, and all around crafty diva. If she only had the time . . .
You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, or at her website.

Thankful for birthdays

Thanksgiving is this week, and I’m so thankful to be here, now, than last month, packing to move and cleaning like crazy.

The two youngest have their birthdays this week. Of course, cupcakes were in order, and we had them right after dinner.

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After a capital burger dinner, daddy lights up three cupcake candles.

 

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Blowing out the candles!

 

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Fat baby who turns 1 this week!

So many good things have happened that I’m thankful for. We’ve moved to a beautiful city. We have more room. My hubby is getting lots of hours, and he likes his co-workers. (That’s a big one.) I’m just thankful that we can go into the holidays without worrying about where we’re going to live. God has taken such good care of us.

I love velociraptors

You know how in my previous post, I talked about trying to figure out how to adult awesomely? And how I failed at it?

Well, I sort of rediscovered how much I love the Jurassic Park velociraptors. All I did was look up t-shirts, and …

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This is me. Especially with my glasses on.

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Okay, so they’re not ALL raptors, but they’re all very cool. My hubby wants me to stream games with him, and I need something fun to wear on camera, right?

I have to also not suck at games, but one thing at a time.

How I fail at awesome adulting

A few months ago, I decided that I wanted to start playing games with my husband again. Videogames, board games, card games. We met and bonded over our shared love of games, but as the babies have kept coming, I haven’t got to play them much.

We started off with Tiny Epic Galaxies, which I enjoyed very much. But he has lots more games that I don’t know anything about.

As I have been thinking how far behind I am with new releases and games, I ran across these articles about awesome adulting. Or what happens when you’ve poured so much of yourself into your family that you have no individuality left. No likes or dislikes. No favorite places or hobbies. The articles are about how reclaiming that part of yourself can enrich your family, not subtract from it.

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Lion by Youchenghong

So I started thinking. When it comes to games, I haven’t let myself play much of anything in about seven years. I get a month of World of Warcraft now and then. I played some Stardew Valley with the kids. I play Pokemon sometimes. But that’s been it. Mostly I watch other people play games. I have no likes or dislikes, no opinions. Only fading memories of games that I used to enjoy.

When I told my husband this, he was overjoyed that I want to rediscover this. In particular, he was happy that I need him to help me. I hadn’t realized how that whole aspect of our relationship had been shut down. It’s kind of sad.

I did start running a little premade Dungeons and Dragons campaign for the kids, with premade characters. Right now they’re solving a murder mystery, and loving it. But I still want to play with my husband, too.

I wrote this much of the blog at the end of September. Then we got our notice that we had to move. Here I am, six weeks later, moved, and I still want to learn to adult awesomely. I’m trying to play games, trying to write, trying to draw, trying to do the things that not only give me joy, but enrich others, too. As Donna Otto says, my first ministry is to my husband. That means games.

I think that will be my goal for 2017. As we head into the end of 2016, it’s a good time to think about these things.

What about you? Do you adult awesomely? Or are you like me, and pretty much struggling to keep your head above water?

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Close to Heaven by AlviaAlcedo

Gone in 30 days

So I didn’t blog for most of October. A few astute friends knew that we were moving under short notice. Well, here’s the story:

We’ve lived in an apartment in Phoenix, Arizona for three years. Our lease came up for renewal in September. We signed a new one and went about our business.

Then the last week in September, we found a notice on our door. It went something like this.

“Your lease has been declined because you are over occupancy.” (I’d had a baby last year.) “You have until October 30th to GTFO. Have a nice day.”

After the initial panic died down, we sighed and figured it was a good thing. We had five kids in a two-bedroom apartment. We really did need to move up to a three-bedroom.

We started hunting. And we found that the housing situation in Phoenix is a joke. So many people want to live there, and they’re willing to pay anything to do it, that most apartments are either super expensive or have years-long waiting lists.

While my hubby has a good job, he doesn’t quite make as much as the apartments want. We hit this wall over and over. A realtor finally gave us a list of low-income apartments to try.

Talk about a low point. I looked them all up. With the exception of two (which had massive waiting lists), low income housing is packed into a single giant tenement building. Very little landscaping. Just a big ugly box to cram as many people into as possible.

I have five kids, all of whom like to play outside. Living in a place like that would be a prison sentence for all of us. Not to mention the waiting lists.

We despaired. I cried a lot. We prayed desperately. And suddenly a thought popped into Ryan’s head: why not try Tucson?

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Mount Lemmon panoramic from Wikimedia Commons

We started hunting apartments in Tucson. It’s not having quite as much of a boom as Phoenix is, and the income requirement wasn’t quite as high. We found a 3-bedroom pretty quickly, and with some mathematical shenanigans, managed to make the numbers work so they would let us in.

We drove down a couple of times, and each time we liked Tuscon better. Ryan has lived there a few times, and took us around to some of his old haunts. We also took the kids to a park with a man made lake and let them throw food to the ducks. The mountains are gorgeous. It was like balm to my soul to look at mountains and water again. I’m from CA and have missed both.

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Mount Lemon Sky Island Parkway from Wikimedia Commons

We began packing and cleaning and donating stuff we never use.

Among other things, the ceiling in our bathroom fell in and had to be fixed. During intensive packing. Yeah, that was fun.

Then we rented the truck and started loading.

We had planned to load the truck in a day, drive to Tuscon, and unload in a day. In reality, it took us two days to load and two days to unload. It was just Ryan, me, and the kids. While the kids helped when they could, they’re simply not capable of hauling around boxes and furniture.

On the second day of loading the truck, we had planned to be packed and on the road by noon. The new place’s office closed at 5 PM, and we had to be there in time to get the keys.

Noon came and went. Then one. Then two. We worked harder and harder, and our stuff seemed to multiply. Why do we have so much junk, anyway?

At three, we decided that cleaning the apartment could wait until the next day or so. We hurled the last few things into the truck and high-tailed it out of there at 3:15.

It’s a two-hour drive from Phoenix to Tuscon. We screamed down there in the truck and car. Ryan had called the office and left a message to say that we were running late, and could they wait for us. So we came screeching into the parking lot at 5:30. Thank heavens, the manager was still in the office, though she was ready to leave. We got the keys. We got into our brand new apartment.

And it was too dark to unpack anything. For example, beds.

We bought a Papa John’s pizza to bake in our new oven for dinner. But we didn’t have any plates or forks to eat it with. I pulled it out of the oven with two shirts wrapped around my hands. I had a box cutter in my pocket from packing. It cut pizza all right. I also cut chunks from the cardboard plate beneath it to use as makeshift plates. We turned over a box to use as a table.

Then we (attempted) to sleep on the floor. It was a strange, uncomfortable night.

The next day, we were so tired from loading stuff the day before, as well as not sleeping, that we only managed to unload half the truck. We were assembling beds at 7 PM. That night we actually slept.

The next day Ryan went back to Phoenix to clean the old apartment, finish paperwork, and turn in the keys. I was faced with the daunting task of unloading the rest of the truck by myself.

I had been reading the Song of the Summer King books to the kids. That morning, I told them that we must become Nameless if we were going to finish the job–just like how Shard the griffin made the long flight over the sea on the advice of an albatross.


“Now this.” Windwalker looked forward again, and Shard watched him. “This long flight, my lord, comes at a price. You cannot think. You cannot think, ‘Oh, how tired I am.’”

Windwalker stretched his wings, then settled them into a glide again, and Shard imitated him. Stars rippled above and the moon bathed them and the top of the storm clouds in silver.

“You cannot think, ‘Oh, how far I have to go.’ You cannot think at all. For this long flight, you must give up yourself. To journey across the windward sea, you must let go of your name, and become part of the sky.”

“My name?”

“But it will come back to you. In time. Son of Tyr and Tor. You cannot truly forget, you who parted the storm, and named me. I don’t think you can forget.”

“You don’t think? But are you sure?” Shard had forgotten himself once, briefly, after almost drowning in the sea. Witless, he had climbed to safety on pure instinct, and woken to remember himself just before meeting Stigr for the first time.

“Trust you will remember. Too many thoughts will weaken you. You must be a bit of wind and sky, like me.” Windwalker stared ahead, unconcerned. Shard watched him, breathless fear crawling forward. “Remember only to follow me, brother of the sky. Remember only that.”

“You are wind,” Windwalker intoned. “You are feather and bone, and hunger, and thirst. And wind.”

Shard focused on his feathers, loosing a breath. I am wind. I am feather and bone.

I am wind. Feather and bone.

Wind. Feather. Bone.

Flight and blood and bone. Anything else is death.

Hunger, thirst and hunt.

Flight, feather and wind was life.

Blood. Feather.

And wind.


I had that stinking truck unloaded by noon. So it worked.

Then I had to unpack a mountain of boxes in order to make room for furniture. I’m a bit OCD–I like everything neatly in its place. The chaos of moving is torture for me.

Ryan completed everything on his end, and we unpacked for two days. I didn’t do anything else–I just unpacked for hours on end.

Once everything was done and arranged, I was so tired that all I could do was sit in a chair and stare. “It’s Nanowrimo!” the Internet exclaimed. “Also the election is nuts! Did you hear the latest?”

I sort of stared at the Internet without caring. We just came through our own personal apocalypse. I don’t have the energy to care about big scary things. I barely have the strength to cook dinner and sweep the floor.

So that’s where I vanished to for the entire month of October. Hopefully life and regular blogging will resume now.

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Mount Lemmon: butterfly trail via Wikimedia Commons

How humanity makes us human

I’ve been knee-deep in revisions for months now, it seems like. The third Malevolent book, Malicious, is developing in all kinds of directions I didn’t foresee in the first draft. Heck, the first draft, I didn’t know what the plot was until I was almost finished. The plan is to release books 2 (Malcontent) and 3 (Malicious) a month apart, but I don’t know if I can do it.

So as I’m chewing on the various aspects of monsters and what makes them monstrous, I keep asking myself about what it means to be truly human. I’m beta-reading a book right now about a kid who turns into a vampire, and it raises the same question. What separates us from the monsters?

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The Stranger in the Mirror by ChristianaLeone

It’s interesting to see this definition of humanity:
humaneness; benevolence.
“he praised them for their standards of humanity, care, and dignity”
synonyms: compassion, brotherly love, fraternity, fellow feeling, philanthropy, humaneness, kindness, consideration, understanding, sympathy, tolerance

Isn’t it interesting that the higher virtues are the pinnacle of being human? When you talk about “the vampire seemed so human”, you don’t mean that he had four limbs and a face. You refer to his benevolent nature.

On the flipside, we also have the word inhuman:

lacking human qualities of compassion and mercy; cruel and barbaric.
synonyms: cruel, harsh, inhumane, brutal, callous, sadistic, severe, savage, vicious, barbaric

This is where you get monsters–the werewolves and vampires, the evil kings and wizards of fantasy, the evil aliens of science fiction.

So, to be truly human, one must exercise the virtues. To be a monster, one exercises the base nature. And it’s WAY easier to be a monster than it is to be a human. That struggle between the flesh and the Spirit. The Apostle Paul’s cry of, “Why do I do the things I don’t want to do, and don’t do the things that I want to do?”

As I’m chewing through these books, they constantly raise questions like this. If a dangerous monster protects the girl he loves, is he humane? And if a human being whose job is to protect people from the monsters suddenly begins destroying the people she should protect, is she the true monster?

I think that’s one reason people like the paranormal romance genre. We love the contradiction of the all-powerful monster who gentles himself in the presence of the one he loves. We want to see the transformative power of love and redemption. I mean, think about how people adore anti-heroes. We just love the semi-bad guy and root for him to join the heroes.

 

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Anti Heroes by FuryKitten

So, really, our humanity (our virtues) is what makes us human. It’s possible to be a member of the human race and be utterly inhuman. It’s also possible to not be human (like with an alien) and yet be completely humane.

What do you think? Is this something you’ve ever wrestled with in your reading or writing?

Malcontent sneak peek and Kindle Unlimited freebies

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I’m participating in a promo this week! Paranormal romance and urban fantasy, all free on Kindle Unlimited. There’s some really good stuff in there. So I’m entering my paranormal romance Malevolent! Click the pretty below to check it out!

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Read for free on Kindle Unlimited! Infomercial GET!

Anyway, Malevolent has been out for more than a year now. I would have had the sequel out already, but I kind of had a baby in November, and that always sets back all artistic endeavors by six months. Anyway! Book 2, Malcontent, is in final revisions and awaiting the jaded eye of a professional editor. I thought my loyal readers might like to read the first chapter and see how Mal and Libby are coping with the fallout after the events of book 1.


Libby

“You’re going to have to tell your parents eventually, Libby,” Mal said.

It was a hot August morning, and the sky was that brassy white color, like the lid on a casserole dish. Mal was gently wheeling a beehive on a dolly to its new position near the blueberry field. He’d poured so much smoke into the bees that they were comatose.

I leaned against a fence post and folded my arms. “I know what’s wrong with me. You know what’s wrong with me. I don’t need a psychiatric evaluation.” I tried to sound defiant, but inside I was quivering with terror.


Continue reading “Malcontent sneak peek and Kindle Unlimited freebies”