Category Archives: News and Updates

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 not 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 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: high-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.”

 

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 in August, possibly September.

 

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

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

NaPoWriMo 2018

Greetings, fellow poetry enthusiasts!

 

It’s that time of year again! NaPoWriMo!!! For those unaware of what that is, National Poetry Writing Month is when writers and poets alike attempt to write 30 poems within the 30 days of April.

 

Last year, I remember waking up to reluctantly check my Twitter feed, expecting to see a long strand of juvenile April Fools Jokes. I was pleasantly surprise to see many people posting their first poems for NaPoWriMo.

 

It was quite refreshing to learn of this writing challenge. I had hit a bit of a writing slump and I needed something to stimulate some creative juices. Someone had just suggested two weeks earlier that I start blogging every day to build up stamina. The issue was that I didn’t know what the heck to write about. But learning of NaPoWriMo got me excited to try posting poems.

 

Disclaimer: I’m not a very good poet. Most of my poems from last year were rantings about how frustrated I was at my students or other infuriating people in my life. I had attempted to post a few positive poems, but my overall themes tended to be pretty negative. And I suck at rhythm and rhymes. I still do. So pretty much all the poems I’ll write this year will be pretty raw and rough. Hopefully you don’t mind too much.

 

Now, keep in mind that I’ve got a pretty hectic life right now. If you pop onto my blog every day expecting to have a new poem posted at a certain time every day, you’ll be very disappointed. I foresee missing a few days here and there. I just might even have to do what I did last year and post a whole week’s worth of poems all at once.

 

So I apologize in advance for the inconsistencies with my posting times. I’ve got a poetry notebook I’ll be carrying around–thanks to my good friend, Samantha Gebel, who gave it to me as a beautiful Christmas gift, not knowing that it would soon be used to hold amateur poems. Even if I’m not posting poems daily, I’ll still be working on them when I can and hopefully I won’t get to the end and be too far behind.

 

As always, thanks for coming to read my ramblings. All poems will be listed in the “Poems” Category, so feel free to peruse at your leisure.

If you’re also participating in NaPoWriMo, leave a link to your site in the comments and I’ll try to find time to go read your beauties.

 

Iris Q&A

Iris: Book 1 Of The Rygom Narratives
Alteration research has been declared illegal in the Megacity Rygom. Too many gave their lives in pursuit of making humans more powerful. Those few fortunate Alterations that survived have gone into hiding, fearful of what might happen if the Agency finds them.



Despite her father’s warnings, Iris Kayn has enrolled in the prestigious Agency Training Program, pursuing her dream of becoming an Enforcer. Dr. Norman Kayn’s concern for his daughter increases as Agent Tobias Vega and his sons take an alarming interest in Iris. Unsure of how much they know, Norman hopes that the Vegas aren’t seeking the truth about his beloved wife’s death.



Meanwhile in the Lower Region, Azure Clan Leaders, twins Rikani and Tays Rye, attempt to recover from a tragedy that nearly wiped out their entire family. Rikani works tirelessly to build a safe, prosperous community for her tenants and remaining relatives. All the while, Tays must deal with the ghosts from his past; his former mentor and ex-lover both seek to ruin his plans of reuniting Upper Society and the Lower Region, each for their own nefarious reasons.



Plans are hatched. People are manipulated. Pending doom awaits those in Rygom who fail to see the strings being pulled.

Q: What kind of influences affected the story of “Iris”?

A: Although I’m immensely pleased with all my stories, “Iris” is my pride and joy. I wrote the first draft  about eight years ago when I was in college, back when I was heavily under the influence of the great literature classics.

 

I use to describe “Iris” as “a Dickens novel on steroids.” I love the reveals at the end of Dickens’ books where we learn that this character is connected to this character through this unpredictable way.

 

Jane Austen’s comedy-of-manners style writing highlights and satirizes the behavior of the elites of society. With the Rygom Narratives series, not only did I get to create a new civilization, but I got to set community values, morals, restrictions, and taboos.

 

No matter where or when in time and space, human nature is the same. It’s why we still read William Shakespeare’s plays 200 years later. So no matter what technology is being used as tools in a society, people will still act similarly to the way they do now and always have acted.

 

You take those influences and throw in some cool sci-fi tech, and you get my attempt to create a genre called “epic science fiction.” I was bummed to learn that it hasn’t existed yet. So we’ll see if this takes off.

 

Q: What is “Iris” about?

A: This series focuses on a large ensemble cast of characters, all of which have some sort of influence in the future of the Megacity of Rygom. Some of them may or may not be incognito super humans called “Alterations.”

 

In many ways, this is a coming-of-age story for a number of characters. Several are in for rude awakenings when their comfortable lives are shattered and up-rooted.

 

“Iris” isn’t a romance. There are many love stories throughout the book in order to reflect the fact that people tend to be in relationships. But that’s not the focus. Still, I had quite a bit of fun finding ways to make their loves dysfunctional.

 

Sorry that I can’t be more specific about what “Iris” is about. It’s very long and very complex. Just sit back and enjoy the intertwining stories of these Rygom citizens.

 

Q: How did you first come up with the concepts in “Iris”?

A: Oooo! Spoilers! Maybe I’ll reveal my inspiration later in the series.

 

Q: Who is your favorite character from “Iris”?

A: This is always a difficult question. I love all my characters, but there are a few who stand out. Klev and Lom are a pair of my favorites; they are hilarious and have a beautiful back story. I also really enjoyed writing scenes with Claire and Maximus as they repeatedly diffuse the tension.

 

Q: It’s been over 2 years since you first published “Iris.” Now that it’s been revised and released for a second time, what kind of changes did you implement?

A: “Iris” is essentially the same as it has ever been. The plot lines are still whole and follow the basic progression in both. All I did in revisions was fix basic punctuation, grammar, and spelling errors. I added a tiny bit of descriptions to a few places. So if you purchased the original e-book through Kindle, don’t worry; it’s still almost the exact story–just with a prettier cover!

 

Q: Will there be a sequel to “Iris”?

A: I plan on writing many more books in The Rygom Narratives—specifically 3 different trilogies. Each trilogy will have a different cast of POV characters. There will be several consistent characters throughout all 9 books. The next book will be released early in 2019.

 

Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to subscribe to my Newsletter to get information on my up-coming books:

  • “Reps and Royals” (Coming March 2018)
  • “Mended by Ashes” (Coming April 2018)
  • “The People’s Order” (Coming Summer of 2018)
  • “Not So Anonymous” (Coming Fall of 2018)

–Amy Engle

 

PS: You can order your copy of “Iris” at just about any bookstore. But I highly recommend getting it from Barnes and Noble.

PSS: If you know me personally, let me know want to read “Iris.” I can help you save on taxes, shipping, and time if we meet up in person!

Long-Overdue Update

Oh, my! Has it really been that long? 5 months?

I had intended to still blog in the course of the fall, despite a hectic work schedule. Honestly, everything really came down to one decision: Do I use my limited remaining energy to blog or to work on one of my stories?

That question was often moot, since I’ve been very bad about writing the past few months.

Sure, I participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), but only made half my word count goals for the month. Still, I’m quite content at the progress I made in my multicultural Mars murder mystery.

My Mars story is the first one I’ve written where I’ve needed to do extensive research. I have been learning bits of other languages, discovering idiosyncrasies of different cultures, and studying some of the most barbaric crimes people can commit. Needless to say, this was an exhaustive project that I really need a break from. I’ll resume writing it as soon as I’ve recovered some of the emotional heartache I endured during the research process.(Check in again in a few years to see if I ever actually finish this story…)

So the big question is: What is Amy writing now?

Well, if you don’t care, you should just skip reading this post. I don’t mind…

This summer, I had taken all my stories off of Kindle in an attempt to revise them and re-release them with second editions. A few weeks ago, I commissioned my friend, Zybrena Crawford Porter, to design a new cover for my novella, “Undoing Life.” Seeing as how she is a beautiful artist and a talented graphic designer, I knew she’d create a much better cover than I had originally.

So let’s compare. Here’s the cover I made 2 1/2 years ago when I first release “Undoing Life”:

And here is what Zybrena created:

Oh, it’s so stunning that I cried when I first saw it. I’m so happy with it and can’t wait to release the second edition on January 1st, 2018.

I have no yet decided if I’m going to re-release “Iris” or “Reps and Royals” next. Heck, I might just go for the first edition of “Mended by Ashes.” No one has had the chance to read it yet–save for my beta readers–and I’m anxious to see what people think of it. However, I think I need to revise it a bit more before it’s ready for an audience.

On top of all this, I’ve got several short stories in the works. I’m almost done with the first draft of a social commentary on friend-making. I’ve also been dabbling in fantasy with a story set during an Egyptian-themed magic show where the ancient gods are not at all amused at the blasphemous conjurers. At the moment, I’m stuck in the middle of a draft about the taboos and misconceptions about addiction in society. That’s been fun, but I’m not sure what to write next in it. With all these ideas turning around in my brain, I also have the first draft of a sci-fi western set in an anarchist culture with mercenaries and dying robots.

As if that’s not enough to keep me busy for awhile, I also want to revise the sequel to “Iris”: “Alteration.” Plus, I plan on a total of nine books in that series. And I want to write more books set in The World in “Reps and Royals,” and I want to continue Colonel Arbeck’s story in a sequel to “Undoing Life.”

But all these must wait. Sadly, I’m not yet to the point of being able to write full time. Perhaps in a couple of years. In the meantime, I’ll have to discipline myself better in order to write more efficiently throughout the work week.

Do you have a mountain of ideas you’re working on conquering? I’d love to hear what you’re writing. Feel free to pass along any writing tips as well in the comments, or ask me any questions you have about writing. Thanks for reading! Have a blessed day!

–Amy Engle