This morning I sat by the window and stared at a dark pewter sky, praying for a display of God’s power and glory. We don’t often get thunder and lightning in the Bay Area, which is a shame because it’s my favorite kind of adrenaline rush. Some people like roller coasters; others enjoy haunted houses. I love the brilliant lash of white-hot branches forking across the sky and the crack of thunder so mighty you can feel it resonate down through your bones. It terrifies me, and I love it.

To me, there is no greater visual representation that comes close to showing God’s might. Most often we focus on God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness. All important things. But we forget that He is a God of strength and wrath. We forget to be reverent. That is why I love watching the lightning and trembling when the thunder booms; it reminds me to respect the awesome power of God.

Today, though, watching the lightning taught me something else: waiting on Him. At the first hint of the storm, I hurried into the room with the best view of open sky, and prayed God would show me His glory. “Just one streak,” I asked. There was a flash of refracted light from somewhere above, but out of sight. And I waited, knowing/hoping it would come closer.

I’d left my phone in another room, and I could hear the text messages coming through, but I dared not leave my spot to go get it, afraid I would miss even one display. It struck me then how this waiting, this faith, is how we should wait on God to act in our lives. I saw the evidence of the lightning; I knew it was out there. But I wanted to see it. And so I waited. Maybe God could have given me the one flash I wanted and then I could have gone about my day, but that would cheapen His power and might, for He is not a genie waiting around to light some fireworks for my convenience. He waits for the world to repent and come to Him; surely I can exercise even a fraction of such patience.

I prayed to see just one fork of lightning, to bask in just one flash and rumble of thunder. But of course, after I got my one, I wanted another, and another. And so I stayed where I was, raptly watching and waiting to drink in the magnificence of my God. I must have sat by that window for an hour. But when it was over, I finally left knowing that I had tasted and seen. I was satisfied, and yet yearned for more.

Taste and see that the Lord is good.
Psalm 34:8

Coming Clean

It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged about anything that wasn’t related to a book release. I haven’t looked at a Twitter, Facebook, or any social media feed in just as long. (You know it’s bad when you get a baby announcement from a friend you had no idea was even expecting.) I had my excuses: been working the day job a lot; health hasn’t been so great. But it actually comes down to one simple truth I’ve been trying to avoid–depression. There, I said it.

I’m no stranger to this. From the ages of 7-21 I struggled with severe depression and suicidal ideation. But in my senior year of college, God moved and gave me healing which miraculously changed my life. So you can imagine that, seven years later, when I started recognizing the symptoms in myself, I was both terrified and fully in denial. I never wanted to go back to that dark place again. God had healed me; end of that chapter. Besides, life was good. I had two careers I loved, close friends, and had been writing like a super ninja. There was no reason in the world I should feel “depressed.”

So I brushed off those weekends that were particularly bad as “being in a funk.” Everyone’s allowed to crash once in a while, right? I tried to ignore how that one weekend a month turned into most weekends, and then how when the weekdays came about I could no longer shake it off. Things I used to enjoy no longer held any interest for me. Even writing became like pulling teeth at times. “You’re just tired,” I’d tell myself. Weeks turned into months, and I watched helplessly as for the past year and a half, I slowly yet steadily backslid into a place I never thought to find myself again.

The depression is real.

But God wastes nothing. And so here I am, coming clean on an issue that so often hides and festers in the dark, secreted away from the light. It’s uncomfortable, admitting weakness. It feels like admitting defeat. If I am to blog about such a serious topic, it should be to encourage others, to call out from the other side of the tunnel and shout with joy, “There is light!” Instead, I’m standing here bearing a broken and battered soul saying, “There is light, but there is darkness still. It ebbs and flows like the tides.” Doesn’t sound all that encouraging to me.

But perhaps the difference this time is I know the darkness does not last forever. It has its phases, this is true, but I have seen and experienced the relief and joy in between, and I can have it again. If you’re currently in the dark, you can have those again. The first step is to shine a light on this burden, to admit the hurt is real so we can confront it, rather than running away or suffering in silence and solitude. For I know all too well that ignoring a problem does not make it disappear, nor can a person “snap out of it” on their own power. The journey is long, and hard, and often sucks.

But in the meantime, God wastes nothing.

2013 Year In Review

Oh my goodness how time flies. I say this at the end of every year when I sit down to write up a blog post on the past year’s accomplishments. Which kind of feels like bragging and makes me uncomfortable, but I also think it’s good to keep track of what’s happened in my life, to remember the ups more than the downs and provide hope for the coming year.

I started 2013 with a list of goals…none of which I really remember at this point. I made some “business” goals in terms of book sales for the year because I’d been watching other authors do so back in January. I pretty much abandoned them, however, when they didn’t get much traction. I went through a period of serious soul-searching regarding my writing/publishing career and finally came to terms with what I want and need, and not what I’m “supposed to do.” It’s still a struggle sometimes navigating social media, branding, and marketing, but I’m doing the best I can. Most of all, I continue to write because I love stories and have many to tell.

Dreamstealer-AngelaWallace-600x900dream assassin 1000x1600Speaking of stories, I wrote and published way more this past year than I thought I was capable of. Part of that probably had to do with a season of the best health I’ve seen since I was…well, 14 and first got an insulin pump.

Dreamstealer, the second book in the Dreamwalker saga, came out in April, and I’d already started writing book three, which turned into books three and four. In between those I wrote a novella for one of the secondary characters: Dirk. Dream Assassin came out in June, Dreamsnatcher in November, and Dreamweaver just three weeks ago. WOW. I spent all of 2013 in the Dreamwalker world and it was a beautiful, heartwarming journey. I will miss it.


AW-SSleuth-432x648This past summer I also tried my hand at my very first Vote Your Adventure type story, and you guys helped me write a short tale featuring Paige from the Elemental Magic world. That stretched my writing–and pantsing–abilities to new heights.

ET cover with awardIn other news, I passed the national certification exam for sign language interpreting, and Earth Tones won the 2013 Best Indie Book Award for Fantasy. You could’ve knocked me over with a feather on both. I am so grateful for all the people who helped me achieve these things, from friends who helped me study for the exam and gave me pep talks when I was doubting myself, to those who critiqued and read Earth Tones.

I can’t claim sole credit for any of my accomplishments, for I wouldn’t be here without the support and guidance of dear friends and the Lord’s hand. These are the things I need to hold onto moving forward into 2014, for while 2013 held an abundance of blessings, that season of great health in the spring didn’t last past summer and this fall has been a struggle. But that’s part of the purpose behind this post: I did all this once; I can do it again.

So what’s ahead for 2014? Well, I’ve already made good progress writing Elemental Magic 4 with a tentative publication date in Spring. Now that the Dreamwalker series is complete, I can hopefully get out a few more Elemental Magic books before I start a new fantasy series that’s been simmering on the back burner. 😀

AND, speaking of the Elemental Magic series, I also spent the past few months rebranding the series’ image. That was a little exhausting, but I’m so thrilled with how the new covers turned out and the cohesiveness they now have. Don’t they look great? Covers by Shelley at Spittyfish Designs.

AW-EM-750x1125     AW-DS-750x1125

So how did you all do this past year, and what are your big plans for 2014?


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Be Careful What You Pray For

It’s been said, “Be careful what you pray for because God just might give it to you!” Or more accurately, if you pray for God to grant you a virtue, do you think He just snaps His fingers like a genie and boom, you have patience or wisdom? Hardly. If you pray for patience, God usually answers by giving you situations where you must practice patience! Because practice is how you master something, including virtues.

I experienced this firsthand last weekend. Well, it actually started a month ago when I made a decision that was neither good nor bad, but the situation had caught me off guard and my response ended up making things slightly complicated. Not bad, not wrong, just inconvenient. But I was so upset by not foreseeing it, that you’d think it was the end of the world. Needless to say, I was not happy that something so trivial could unbalance me like that. Life is full of hardships! If I let tiny hiccups drive me insane, then how am I supposed to handle important crises? So I prayed God would help me to handle small situations better so when the big stuff hit, I’d be ready.

Can you guess what happened next?

Last weekend my mom took my car in for regular maintenance. (She’s the best mom ever, volunteering to do it since I wasn’t feeling well.) After an hour she called me and said, “Are you sitting down?”
My car is getting old, so it wasn’t really a surprise when the mechanic said they found three major parts about to break. Okay, so the cost I budgeted for will go up by….? <jaw drop> However, I was quite proud of myself for not crying, lol. “Ok, I can rearrange some funds and put some things on hold. No big deal.”

Thirty minutes later, I hear a strange noise. I turn around and notice the cat in the hallway staring into the bathroom, her body language stiff. I get up and flick on the light switch and…water is streaming out of the vent in the ceiling! I run to the kitchen to grab a bowl to catch the water, and on the way back I notice water is also streaming out of the heating vent in the living room and the hallway light switch. The sound of more water is coming from the furnace closet, and lo and behold, water’s pouring through there too!

So now it’s my turn to call my mother and preface with, “Don’t freak out, but…”

Turns out the neighbors upstairs (who were moving in that very day) let the toilet run until it overflowed. Now, aside from the initial panic of “what the hell is happening?!” and “how do I make it stop?!”, I still did not break down or have an anxiety attack. I threw towels down, left a message with property management (because it was the weekend and no one was in the office), and then sat back and waited until the water petered out to drips and everything was just wet, but no longer flooding.

As I was cleaning up, I was struck with the memory of that prayer I’d been praying to be better able to handle real crises, not trivial ones my brain overreacted to. Well, God answered my prayer.


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It’s my blogoversary!

How cute WordPress gave me a notification about today, with a symbol of what looked like a champagne glass. I started this blog two years ago today. It’s undergone quite a transformation since that first post, in both design and content. So let me say thank you to everyone who’s followed me along this journey since the beginning (and to all those who joined up along the way!).

Two years. It feels so short and yet so long. Two years ago I started this blog because I’d just published my first novel, and well, that was the “thing to do”. On the exact same day that first book came out, I graduated from my interpreting training program. (Apparently I’m an overachiever; just ask my former classmates about my homework.) I’ve been immersed in both worlds since, and have loved every minute of it. You see, this anniversary doesn’t just mark a life change for me, or the beginning of a new chapter. It marks the moment I jumped into the world with both feet saying, “I’m ready. This is what I want.”

There have been some rough patches, as all roads have. There have been moments of great success, and times where that little voice inside suggested I give up. But I pressed on. Because being here, more than just a career choice, has given me something I’ve longed for my entire life—a place where I belong. The kinship I have found and developed with so many wonderful people since that graduation/book birthday have made this journey more than a road, more than an experiment. It’s my life. And I’m in love with it.

Stay tuned, I will have another, regular post for you later, a nice little parody I hope you find amusing.

My First Love

Happy Valentine’s Day early! I hope all the couples out there have some good plans for celebrating your special someones. And if you’re currently single, be proud and enjoy the positives that come with that. This week I’m celebrating a first love—Phoenix Feather.

Phoenix Feather new cover

Phoenix Feather contained many firsts for me. It was the first book I wrote set in our world. Before that, I’d always written straight fantasy: dragons, sword fights, magic. But then I was thinking about superheroes and this thought struck me—”What if there was a supernatural character who *wasn’t* the hero?” Aidan Quinn was born, a woman who in every way was just like any other except for the dormant power inside that manifested at her death and brought her back to life from the ashes.
When I started writing Phoenix Feather, I just thought it would be a fun experiment; I didn’t expect it to actually go anywhere. But then the process of writing it took off, making it, not the first book I ever finished, but the first book I finished that wasn’t terrible.

Phoenix Feather was also the first book I ever published. It’s hard to imagine how far I’ve come in the past two years (even harder to imagine it’s only been two years!). I knew next to nothing when I published it, not to mention I had no social media presence. I hit that heart-palpitation-inducing “Publish” button  and then read up on good marketing tips, which stated I needed to start a blog and get on Twitter. So that’s what I did. It’s a good thing I fell into the #mywana hashtag group, because I met a handful of amazing people who I’ve been good friends with since.

Lastly, if you’ve read my books, you might find this a little surprising—Phoenix Feather was the first book where I gave my characters a happily ever after. That’s right, before that, I had an unfortunate habit of not letting the guy and girl get together. It’s not like I killed everyone off (though in one case I did kill the guy), but romance just wasn’t in the cards for my characters. Aidan and Trent changed that, and I’m so glad they did. Plus, Trent is a guy I could totally fall for. He’s sweet and solid, with old fashioned values. Half of the writing of this story was me living vicariously through Aidan and falling in love with the guy too.

Phoenix Feather was my first love, not just because it was my first published book or my first romance, but it awakened in me a love for writing urban fantasy, which led me down the path to writing Elemental Magic. Some people have asked if I will write a sequel for Aidan and Trent, but though I love the characters and each one holds a special place in my heart, their story feels complete. For now. The muse may very well change her mind later down the road.

Have you read Phoenix Feather? Tell us about your favorite romantic moment in the book. Hey, even tell us about your first love (doesn’t have to be human 😉 ).

Snuggle up this Valentine’s Day with a sweet romantic suspense. Phoenix Feather on Amazon!

Aidan Quinn is a centuries-old phoenix living as a human. Weary of the repetitious life cycles, she’s not sure she has it in her to love again, though dashing fireman Trent McCain is going to do his best to convince her otherwise. But the clock is ticking—a serial killer is on the loose, and he’s on the hunt for a phoenix.


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Should Your Pet Go Gluten Free?

I want to start by saying that I am not trying to advocate an answer to this question. I am not an expert and there’s a lot of research one should do before making a decision about whether to put your pet on a gluten free diet. I just want to share my experience because if I had known some of these things beforehand, I would have gone about this process differently.

I’ve been celiac for ten years. For the first eight, I was in denial. Sure, I had cut out all wheat foods from my personal kitchen, but that didn’t stop me from eating gluten infested food from restaurants every week. After a health scare back in 2011, I finally got my act together and went 100% gluten free. Then I got to thinking: I know what consuming gluten does to the human body. Not everyone is severely allergic to it, but cases have skyrocketed in the past decade. Genetic manipulation of wheat in order to increase production has resulted in gluten toxicity; we weren’t meant to ingest the concentration we have been, compared to sixty years ago.

So, knowing what gluten does to me, why was I content to feed it to my cat? I decided to switch her food, and read the labels of several different “grain free” brands before settling on one. I thought I was taking care of my beloved cat. Two months after being on this gluten free dry food, my cat gained two whole pounds. She was already on the border of her recommended weight because of her build, and now she was overweight. More research revealed that most gluten free pet food brands substitute the gluten with potatoes, peas, and other starchy foods. Those high carb ingredients lead to pet obesity.

I was crushed. Here I thought I was doing the best for my cat, and I had put her health at even more risk. Was there no healthy course? Was I doomed to pick the lesser of two evils? (I read up on homecooking your pet’s food, but that’s a very complicated matter that I just didn’t have the time to learn.) Thankfully, after more research, I found a cat food brand that did not use gluten or the high starch ingredients. Right now I’m feeding my cat Nature’s Variety, Instinct. It has 78% protein (compare to 30% of most well-known brands). (Disclaimer, I’m not saying it’s the best; it’s the only one I could find in my local pet store, but it was ranked highly by experts.)

Buying grain-free pet foods is more expensive than the other brands. On the other hand, the better quality of food, the less quantity your pet needs to get sufficient nutrients. My cat eats much less than she used to and even though it’s taken two months, she’s lost one pound. I’m strongly hoping that in another two she will be back to a healthy weight.

I love my little girl and want her to live a long and healthy life. I’m not a fan of gluten, but I’m not preaching we should throw it all out. (Though if we did, restaurants might carry more options for me.) Not everyone gets sick from it, but we can’t predict who will and who won’t. The decision is yours. I only hope sharing my experience will give you something to think about, and help you avoid some of the mistakes I made should you choose to go this road with your pets.


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2012: A Year in Review

When the calendar year turns another slot, people look ahead to making a new start. They set resolutions or goals, planning to make the coming year even better than the last. I’ve got some major career goals for 2013, in both publishing and interpreting, but right now I want to take a moment to reflect. For me, it’s not just another year down, but also another year older (although I keep waiting for the birthday when I suddenly feel like an adult, lol). I don’t believe in wiping the slate clean for a new year and forgetting about whatever disappointments and failures bogged you down the last time. I believe we can learn from those let-downs and be better for it.

That isn’t to say 2012 was a bad year for me; on the contrary, it was a good one. And I can’t believe it’s over. It seems like not that long ago I was looking back on the accomplishments of 2011 and making plans for 2012, and yet it also seems like forever ago the things I did.

I published three books this past year: Dry Spell, Dreamwalker, and Earth Tones. With each one I’ve grown in my craft and I hope to continue growing, bringing you better and better stuff. One of the major ways I’ve grown is by having honest feedback. I’ll admit to you all that when I pulled Dreamwalker out of the dusty file folder to publish, I thought I’d cast this seven-year-old piece of writing to the world. Several people previewed the book beforehand, but only one person took the time to point out to me how it was so far from ready. I yanked the book and reworked it, working my butt off. If that meant embarrassing myself by not making my publishing date, so be it, because in the end everyone benefited from a better story. Honest feedback is hard to take, and equally, if not more, hard to give. But I will be forever grateful to that person.

I also attempted to write a book that failed. Some of you might remember when I talked about writing a character with all the same health problems as me. It seemed like a good idea, but after 41,000 words and coming to the edge of the climax, it flopped, or rather I did. But you know what, I don’t have to publish each and every word that I pen. Maybe someday I’ll go back to that story, when I have some emotional distance from that character’s pain and heartache I know all too well.

The experience did lead me to my current work in progress, the sequel to Dreamwalker. I’ve mostly published urban fantasy, even though I started my writing passion years ago as a straight fantasy writer, and I find my love for that angle rekindled. I’m not abandoning the Elemental Magic series, but you’re going to start seeing a little more variety from me in 2013.

Speaking of which, if you haven’t signed up for the newsletter yet, you might want to. I’ll be bringing in the new year with an exclusive sneak peek of my next book, Dreamstealer. Don’t miss it!

And you have to check this out: Dreamwalker is being featured in a Mad Libs style game over on Jen Kirchner’s blog. Go give your word suggestions and come back Friday to see how the scene plays out!

Happy New Year!

Riding Into the Sunrise

Yes, I said into the sunrise, not the sunset. Sunset is so final, the end of a tale, a sad farewell. Sunrise is full of new adventure, new sights, new promises. How about going out before dawn and racing the sun to see who will crest the hill first?

That’s what I did, though I was driving a car, not a horse. Hey, faster speeds, baby. A week ago I picked up my bag, got in my trusty vehicle, and headed to San Diego. That’s an eight-hour drive one-way. Was I crazy? Well, yeah. Crazy from life, chaos, frustration, health issues. I felt like my rib cage had turned into a pressure cooker. One by one, all the activities in my daily routine fell away until all that was left was work. I’d come home and ignore email, Facebook, blogs, writing, and even books. I made a fairly good imitation of a vegetable. The how I got there isn’t important, but the how I got out.

When I found out some WANA gals were getting together in San Diego, I really wanted to be a part of it. In addition to meeting some awesome friends in person, I figured getting away from my routine of wallowing would be a good thing. Get away from whatever kept dragging me down. Breathe some different air space. Going on a long road trip is good for cleaning out your car’s engine when it’s been subjected to in-town commutes for a while, so I figured the same goes for our mental and emotional gears. (Not our physical ones, though, as I painfully found out.)

And I started my trip with racing the sunrise. That was the best part of the drive—first starting out, watching the dark sky bleed into lighter hues, whipping past familiar scenery and into new ones. And the time away did do me good. Though, I left on Friday and came back Sunday, only to begin a twelve-hour work day the following morning. I’m writing this post on a Wednesday and it’s the first time I’ve had to actually sit down with the time for it. But that’s okay, because I am writing this, rather than curling up with a depressing playlist on my ipod and turning the volume all the way up, lol. (I’m not knocking that, because music is also very therapeutic.)

The weekend away was great, full of good company, laughter, and fellowship. But I can’t drive to San Diego every time life starts pushing critical mass. But getting up before dawn and racing the sunrise to the top of the mountains…yeah, I could go for that.


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Writing the Pain I Know

Based on my social media persona, you all probably know me as a writer whose imagination is way more interesting than her everyday life, a person who loves cats and books, and can be funny (on occasion).

What you probably don’t know is behind this computer screen, every single day is a battle with my health. I’m a Type 1 diabetic, but my cells have stopped processing insulin properly. This leads to high blood sugars and stress on the organs. So three months ago I reduced my diet to protein and produce. I was already celiac and couldn’t have wheat gluten, but now all grains, including rice and corn are off the list. I have allergies 24/7, 365 days a year, and the only reason I drink coffee is to keep the migraines at bay—which works most days.

Recently I found out I’ve got heavy metal toxins preventing any form of true healing from happening. That means detox, but if you’ve ever quit giving your body something it’s used to, you’ve probably experienced that things get worse before they get better. Your body doesn’t function very well holding all those toxins tightly in its cells, but when you detox, the floodgates open and all those nasty things are allowed to wreak havoc on your entire system. The plan my doctor lined up will take months, and I must confess that seeing the other side of this path is like looking down a road covered in blinding thick fog—with rattlesnakes in the bushes; I can’t see how far away the end is—or if there is one.

Last October (wow, almost a year ago!) I posted about outliving my expiration date. I’ve made a lot of lifestyle changes since then. I’ve been gluten free for over a year now, something I never thought I could do (or would). I’ve eliminated 99% of sugar, including artificial sweeteners, from my diet—no more cookies, candy, or ice cream. I say 99% because lots of grocery items have some form of sugar, like some canned beans!

The process of making these changes has been brutal, and the most discouraging thing of all is they haven’t made me feel better. With my doctor’s current plan, he hopes I’ll start feeling better in a month. And then we’ll keep going with the regimen for as long as it takes. Can you imagine thinking of recovery time in months or over a year? It’s daunting.

People have asked if I would ever write a character with diabetes or similar health issues, and the answer in the past has always been ‘no.’ When I write, I’d rather spend time with someone who isn’t held back by such weaknesses and inconveniences. One of the reasons I write is to pretend, just for a little, that I can go and do and be someone else.

However, with my current struggles and the frustration, that’s changed. I started a new book and this time my character has just as many health problems as me. Of course, I’m throwing in supernatural stuff as well. 😉 This character will face weakness and learn to find different kinds of strength. Because even though the days are hard and sometimes I feel so discouraged as to cry (or say “screw it all, I want the cookie!”), I keep going. I keep living and doing what I love. Writing this book started out as a therapeutic venture, but I hope the final product will be something worth sharing with you all.


In the meantime, watch for the release of Earth Tones, Elemental Magic 3 coming October 20th! Check out the book trailer and stay tuned for the cover reveal next Wednesday!

I’m putting together a blog tour for the release with dates in November, and if anyone would like to participate, let me know! You can check out the tour schedule’s page on the right.


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