Let’s Talk Sci-Fi Western

So I’ve been posting updates for the past few months about my upcoming sci-fi western, “The People’s Order.” I’m completely astounded by how many positive reactions I’ve received–and this is with nobody really knowing what the story is about.

 

I’ve gotten a lot of comments like, “Have you heard of Firefly?” OR “Have you heard of Westworld?”

 

The answer is: ABSOLUTELY! YES! But my story is nothing like Firefly or Westworld. Sorry if that’s disappointing to you.

 

Here are the similarities between those two shows and my book:

1. They take place in the future.

2. They have western motifs.

***End of similarities.

 

I have no intention of piggy-backing on the fame of those amazing shows. They are awesome and I don’t dare hold myself up to the same standard as them at all. I write science fiction and I’ve always enjoyed blending other genres into my stories.

 

So if you’re interested in hearing more about the influences that have effected the development of “The People’s Order,” I will lay them before you in the rest of this post. But if you feel tricked because it’s nothing like Firefly or Westworld, well then I’m really not sure how to console you. Sorry for the disappointment, I guess…

 

Anyways, the absolute first thought that began this story was wondering what a futuristic anarchist society might look like. I still wanted all the cool technology stuff that comes with being a sci-fi story, but without the all-powerful tyrant figure taking over the world.

 

After a bit of research into anarchy, I remembered learning about the Articles of Confederation back in high school. The British colonies had suffered under the king’s rule for generations. And then when they won the Revolutionary War, the colonists wanted to make sure that their new government didn’t have that much power over the people. So they heavily limited what the various branches were allowed to do. Although they had good intentions, the government was so severely limited that it couldn’t function at all.

 

I did a little more research about what it was like living under the Articles of Confederation. I’m by no means an expert, but I used some of what I read to build and establish the basic culture in “The People’s Order.”

 

This was when I decided to add western motifs. I wanted the story to take place a few years after the tyrant/emperor/ruler was displaced. But then the new way of doing things was way more ineffective than when there was one all-powerful person making every big decision. I thought that the technology wouldn’t be as good and that there would be a time of decay and regression. There would still be some advanced technology, but I imagined that many people who knew how to make the technology died in the revolution.

 

That brings me to the next piece of the story: highly-weaponized militant robots. But, again, I tried very hard not to just re-hash someone else’s story. I didn’t want Terminator robots or Star Wars droids or Futurama bots. I’m hoping that they way I portray them is unique enough to feel like I’m not copying any other sci-fi author who has robots. We’ll see. Please let me know once you’ve read “The People’s Order” if I’ve accidentally re-hashed someone else’s ideas of using mechanical beings.

 

The last element I will leave you with is: mercenaries that have developed a form of dissociative identity disorder as a result of their intensive conditioning and training. They each have their own unique armor and abilities. I really hope they don’t just seem like a bunch of Iron Men.

 

Sadly that is it for now. I am currently working on flashbacks for each POV character. I feel like the night the emperor-like character is killed really needs to be written in order to flesh out the background of the characters as well as add depth to the conflict. The flashbacks are going to take me awhile to finish and weave into the rest of the manuscript. But I’m hoping to finish and release “The People’s Order” sometime by the end of 2018.

 

Thank you for your patience! If you have any questions, please leave me a comment. If I get enough of them, I’ll put them together into a Q & A post.

 

–Amy Engle

Amy’s Big Decision

Alright. The time has finally come for me to reveal my big decision. To those I’ve already talked to about it, I’d like to thank you again for your input about the upcoming change in my life.

 

So I’m moving to South Korea.

 

Yeah, it’s still frightening for me to say. I’ve spent the past five weeks trying to talk myself out of it. I’ve come up with a number of reasons NOT to go:

-I’d be moving away from all my loved ones.

-I need to learn another language.

-I don’t know what I’ll be doing there work-wise.

-Even though my health issues are decreasing, they still affect my daily life.

-There’s a lot of hoops I’d have to jump through to live in another country.

-There’s the whole North Korea situation…

 

And these are all completely valid concerns–except for the North Korea thing; I’m not worried at all about them.

 

I’ve prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed,  about this decision. I’m 100% sure that God has been leading me towards South Korea for years; I’ve just now started listening and started piecing everything together.

 

As for learning, Korea, I’m just loving this language! I’ve been teaching myself for about a month and I can’t believe how quickly I’m picking it up. For one thing, I’m highly motivated to learn it. And secondly, it’s a very logical and precise language. It’s also helpful that there are so many online sources to help people learn Korean. I find a new resource every couple of days that expands my understanding of their pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar, and so on.

 

The main question everyone has asked me is: What will you be doing in South Korea? I don’t have anything set yet since I’ve only been completely committed to going for a week. But most likely, I’ll be teaching. But here are my options as far as I can tell:

 

-Option 1: Teach for DODEA

Working for the Department of Defense Education Activity is my number one choice, so I’ll be applying there first. If selected, I’d be a civilian working at an on-base school, teaching military kids. But sadly, there’s no guarantee that I’d be placed in South Korea, let alone Seoul–which is where I ultimately want to end up. I think I could live somewhere other than Seoul, but my main goal is to go to South Korea.

 

-Option 2: Teach for a Foreign or International School

I’ll be applying to as many of the Foreign and International Schools in Seoul as I can. I’d likely be a lot more immersed in Korean culture than I would working for DODEA. However, it’s my second option since DODEA has quite a few more perks. And yet, the Foreign Schools in Seoul are among the most prestigious in the world; I’d be honored to have an opportunity to work for one.

 

 

-Option 3: Teach English as a Foreign Language

Koreans want to learn English. There is a high demand for English teachers in South Korea. And yet, I’m not as excited about this option. I looked into getting my TEFL (Teacher English as a Foreign Language) certificate. It requires 120 hours of course work and could cost up to $2000. So I’m putting that on my back-burner for just in case I run out of options.

 

 

-Options 4, 5, 6+

I feel very strongly that there are options that I have not been presented with. I know that there are many other opportunities that require being fluent in Korea. Although I’m learning quickly, I don’t think I’ll be completely fluent in the next year. Maybe after teaching in Korea for a couple years, I might speak, read, and write in Korean well enough to do something else. Heck, I’ve even considered possibly getting my Master’s degree at one of the Universities should I really enjoy living there. But it’s way too soon to know for sure what my future holds.

 

***If you happen to know of any employment opportunities in Seoul, South Korea, please Direct Message me some details through either Facebook or Twitter. I’d love to hear about them!

 

As to WHY I’m going, the simple answer is that I love the culture. For the long version, keep reading:

 

So back in February, I became exceedingly bored with my music playlists. Nothing was inspiring me. I then realized that I’ve mostly listened to the same music for years. Resolved to find my next lyrical muse, I asked my Twitter-verse for suggestions.

 

I tried several artists. Many were nice, but nothing really stood out. That was until I was invited to listen to DNA, a KPOP song by BTS.

 

I clicked the link, unaware of what KPOP or BTS stood for. Boy, I experienced such a fierce case of culture-shock as I watched these seven Korean men dance and sing this blend of hip-hop, rap, and lyrical music. I’ll be honest, I didn’t watch it all the way through. I had to stop and catch my breath.

 

But I didn’t stop there. I watched a number of other BTS music videos, amazed at the diversity of their songs as my visual and auditory senses were pleased.

 

This was literally 3 days before the Pyeongchang Olympics. I had absolutely no idea that it was an Olympics years, let alone that it was being held in South Korea. I felt it was a beautiful coincidence that I was exposed to Korea music just days before the Winter Olympics in South Korea.

 

I spent the next few weeks shirking off many of my adult responsibilities to sit and watch the Olympics while researching South Korean culture. Okay, yeah, that entailed watching a hundred hours of videos about BTS and looking at their bios. I got quite obsessed–which I’m not at all ashamed of.

 

I remember sitting on the couch during the Closing Ceremonies, watching a band call EXO performing their songs, “Growl” and “Power.” I remember praying and asking God to let me visit South Korea someday.

 

But my soul wasn’t satisfied with just VISITING there. A few days later, I began praying for God to start opening doors to let me LIVE there someday.

 

Several weeks passed. After learning almost everything I could about BTS, I moved on to EXO. They’ve been my favorite ever since. I’ve started looking into other bands, too, but there is just so much awesome music out there and my free-time has been rather limited.

 

The next big affirmation that I MUST go to South Korea came mid May during Mother’s Day. A relative of mine has recently retired for the military and has moved his family to the states. He and I were talking about my hopes to move to South Korea. And that’s when I was informed about DODEA. I’ve done my research and it sounds like such an awesome, tangible opportunity.

 

So for the past month, I’ve been praying, praying, praying about my decision, feeling like the timeline to move there is much shorter than I originally imagined. That’s both exciting and frightening. Although I know I have a lot of work to do this year before I can go, I’m also excited that I could be living there this time next summer.  And like I said earlier, I’ve tried really hard to talk myself out of it. The fact that I’m more resolved than ever to go is affirmation that this is happening.

 

While I’ve been weighing all the reasons to go or not to go, I asked God to reveal to me the people I should share my feelings with. Basically everyone I talked to has had a different perspective that helped me process whether or not this is something I really wanted or–more importantly–if this was something that God has blessed.

 

That’s honestly been my biggest concern: Is this something that will bring praise and glory to God? Just by making this firm decision is enough to strengthen my relationship with the Lord. I tend to be very controlling and I like having a set plan. But I’m resolved to go to South Korea without any idea what God has in plan for me. Is there ministry he wants me to be involved in? Are there people whose lives I need to touch over there? I believe the answer is: YES! I just don’t know who or why or how or what. And that’s scary. And yet, I feel so calm when I remind myself that God is in control of the situation. I’m taking my leap-of-faith and He will provide me with what I need.

 

I’ve been asked several times: What will you do if God closes the doors to South Korea and you don’t get to go next year? Or ever? I can’t afford to doubt things right now. Trust me, that’s really kept me from committing to this sooner. I will always come up with some kind of excuse. But I need to be brave and rely on the courage that God has blessed me with.

 

Yes, there’s a possibility that I won’t find a job that’ll let me live in South Korea. However, I don’t feel like wasting energy by dwelling on all the things that might go wrong. God and I have worked really hard to battle my anxiety. I’ve come too far to give into the fear at this point. I’m committed to this. I’ll continue going to God for guidance and strength, as is what He has called all His children to do.

 

Thank you so much for all your prayers and encouraging words. I’m definitely going to need them this year as I prepare myself for my journey to South Korea. I really appreciate your support. I’ll continue posting updates the following months as God continues to guide me to South Korea. I pray for blessings to you and I hope that you are living your life to it’s fullest.

 

God bless!

 

Love Always,

Amy

 

 

RED FOR ED Letter to AZ Legislators

As an Arizona Educator, I’ve been in complete support of the Red For Ed movement. I’ve done my best to spread correct information to raise awareness of what we are attempting to accomplish. No matter what obstacles we face, we will continue fighting for our students’ future.

 

I wrote the following letter to all the Arizona Legislators this morning to invite them to join our cause:

 

 

Dear Esteemed Legislator:

 

The purpose of this letter isn’t to yell at you or to make threats. I have absolutely no aggression while writing this. I’m sure you have gotten your fare share of frustrated emails over the course of the past week during the RED FOR ED campaign. However, I would instead like to cordially invite you to become a hero in the largest education reform in decades.

 

Teachers and support staff are coming together—not just in Arizona, but all over the nation—to enhance the school experience for all of our students. With a culmination of thousands of years of experience working with children, these educators have come to a consensus on how best meet the needs of students. But they can’t implement these changes on their own.

 

Dedicated, hard-working legislators are needed to turn their vision into reality. A number have heard our plight and have decided to stand with us. If you have already committed to our cause, I would like to thank you; we feel so blessed by you. Thank you for joining us as we continue to pursue the best opportunities for our future generations.

 

If you have yet to join with us, remember that this is an open invitation. Even if you feel like this isn’t something you can support now, I will still remain hopeful that this is simply a timing issue. I’m confident that education reform is coming—whether it happens now or next year or the following years in unknown, but I guarantee that it is coming. I hope you will stand with us and be a hero as we continue to strive for the best of our state’s children.

 

Thank you so much for your time and service. I shall forever pray for wisdom and discernment for Arizona’s leaders in the difficult decisions they face every day. I appreciate your service and hope hat God blesses you for your efforts.

 

Sincerely,

Amy Engle

Filter-less

“Filter-less”

–Amy Engle

 

National Poetry Writing Month 2018 Poem #18

 

The words in my head–I keep them secret.

Too many times have I loosened my tongue,

Only to spew nonsense into the world.

If I don’t know you all that very well,

You might think me quiet and reserved.

But if you take the time to know me,

I just might open up and share my thoughts.

Good luck trying to shut me up then.

Keep in mind that there’s only a bare,

Rudimentary filter in place over my mouth

When I’m comfortable with a person.

They become a sounding board as I

Process my crazy, outlandish ideas.

Now that you’ve been thoroughly warned,

Approach our pending friendship with caution.

Chastising Summer

“Chastising Summer”

–Amy Engle

 

National Poetry Writing Month 2018 Poem #17

 

You are too hot.

Have you tried being cooler?

My keys are like stove coils.

My skin is crispy and red.

My clothes are all sweaty.

Everything is melting!

Seriously, what’s your problem?

I’m going to move somewhere

That you’re not as powerful.

Oh? There’s snow there?

Okay, fine then. Never mind…

Expanding the range of science fiction–one speculation at a time.