First Stop Seattle

As I drove away from the Omega Writers Conference in Sydney a couple of weeks ago, I spent some time thanking God for the opportunity to be able to meet so many talented, creative people doing awesome things with their work.

Travelling and speaking has by far been one of the biggest blessings in my life, and I can’t wait for 2018. I’m home for a couple of months now as the holiday season begins, but next year should be a great one as my Stories Tour takes off for another season.

First stop is Northwest Christian Writers in Seattle on February 5. I’ll be speaking about my new project and about finding our creative voices at their monthly writers meeting. If you’re in Washington, come on by. Once I get a link, I’ll try to post it here.

Well, I’m off to do some more writing. I’m really excited about the new book. It’s called From a Whisper to a Shout…at least for now. Can’t wait to share it with you all when I’m finished. If you want some every-once-in-a-while updates, creative tips, and book news from my world, you can sign up for my email newsletter using the contact form below. And, of course, if you have any comments, questions or want to let me know how your own creative projects are going, you can use the form to let me know as well 🙂

Have a hope-filled, happy week friends.

Peace,

 

 

Don’t forget to sign up for Alex Marestaing’s newsletter by checking the NEWSLETTER box below. And, of course, if you have any questions, comments, or would like to have Alex speak at your next event, we’d love to hear from you.

My Interview on Hope 103.2 in Sydney

 

 

 

 

 

Had fun talking to Mornings With Katrina Roe about my start with Disney, a funeral for my writing career, and a brand new project.  Listen to the interview on Sydney’s Hope 103.2.  And don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter using the contact form below.

 

what’s been up

Happy almost September everyone. I hope you’ve all had a warm and wonderful summer and are looking forward to the brilliance of fall. Though I’m not thrilled about my kids going back to school, I am excited about the year ahead. Here’s a quick update.

I’ve been spending my summer days working on a new book. I’m veering into non-fiction territory with this one which is scary and exciting all at once. The book is about creativity and faith (more details to come). The book will still READ like a novel since I’m a novelist at heart.

The fun part is I’ve been getting a lot of help on this one. In the past month, I’ve had some cool conversations with creative geniuses like Tony Bancroft, the director of Mulan. Tom Bancroft, Tony’s brother, a leading Disney animator who also worked on Mulan as well as Alladin and The Lion King.  And Remington Scott, motion capture director on films like Lord of the Rings, Spiderman, and The Planet of the Apes. I was blessed by their willingness to help and by their faith. Really encouraging.

Next up is Ryan O’Neal of Sleeping at Last. When I heard his song Aperture for the first time while driving through Ireland last summer, I literally had to hold it together so as to not to start sobbing like a baby in front of my three kids. If you’ve ever watched the Twilight films or shows like Gray’s Anatomy and The Astronaut Wives Club you’ve heard his heart-searing music. I’ll be talking to him about what makes his songwriting connect, and I can’t wait to hear what he has to say.

In October, I’m off to Sydney, Australia to teach at the Omega Writers Conference and give an address at the Caleb Awards. Australia is a first for me, so I’m looking forward to it.

That’s it for now. I’ll leave you with Sleeping at Last’s Aperture (below). Thanks for listening to me ramble on. Have a hopeful and safe September with the ones you love.

Peace,

Alex

Fifteen Seconds of Normal now on sale

meteor shower

They’re already in bed, should I wake them up? Nah, way past midnight and totally too late for their already messed up summertime body clocks to handle.

But… the Perseid meteor shower only comes once a year, and this year’s ice and space dust spectacular is supposed to be better than ever.

Still no.  My two angelic daughters can collapse into a heap of tragical morning time drama if they don’t get their beauty sleep. Definitely not worth the risk.

Or maybe…maybe I should get them up. I mean, how many more galactic fireworks displays do we have left together? How many more nights to make multiple wishes on multiple falling stars? Let’s see. My oldest daughter is twelve now, and if all goes according to plan, she’ll be off to university at eighteen. Taking into account that the Perseid meteor shower only occurs in August, that gives me seven, no, only six more meteor showers left!

Definitely need to wake them up. I rush upstairs, climb the first few rungs of their loft beds and gently invite them outside.

They’re game. With sleepy eyes and messy hair, they climb downstairs in that loveable zombie like state I used to see all the time after long car trips when they were toddlers.

The Southern California sky isn’t the greatest star gazing canvas in the world, but it’s good enough for us. There, crammed on our sun faded patio sofa, we cuddle close, look up at the sky and see five…six…SEVEN falling stars.  A new record.

I keep them up far past their minimum sleep requirement, way beyond the point of being able to talk them out of the grumpiness they’ll feel the next day, but I definitely don’t care.

While some final fiery streaks fall through the night, I hold my kids tighter and smile. Life doesn’t get any better than this.

As my kids head happily off to bed, an inescapable thought hits me smack in the face

…only five meteor showers left.

 

*A post from a while back. Since tonight is meteor shower night, I had to post again.

nothing left to do but drive

All things go, all things go – Sufjan Stevens

(You don’t have to listen to the music, but I was when I wrote this)

 

With our quiet faces looking out of passenger seat windows and our arms stretched outside like paper wings, we drive away.  There are no smiles, only tears, but we’ve been walking on this planet for long enough to know that every tear will be caught by the one who carries us to the end of things. So with nothing left to do, we hold our children close and drive forward, into the wind.

Sunday

We thought this place was an empire, the home of my youth, in later days a playground for my children. Now, as we pack grandmother’s things in cardboard boxes, we’re not so sure anymore, not so sure of a lot of things.

With Abuela in a home for Alzheimer’s patients, my father decided to sell and move to a place where memories no longer haunt like melancholy ghosts. We understand, but wish we didn’t have to.

Collections

My mother was always a collector, statues, spoons, china sets, every room overflowing with her touches, the rooms where three generations would gather on Sunday nights to pray for the week ahead, the kitchen where sweet Christmas Eve meals were cooked and laughter drowned out the sounds of rain.

Notes

Sunday was hard for all of us, but especially for my youngest, Isabella. When told she could choose two of Abuela’s dolls to keep for herself, she froze for a moment then crumpled onto the sofa and buried her face in my shoulder. Those dolls, they belonged to her Abuela, they belonged in that house. To take them would mess up the order of things, the order of life.

Later on, as we packed and divided boxes of china plates and Christmas decorations, my sweet little Izzy disappeared. After a while, I found her. She had been feverishly writing notes, to the new owners of the house. It was all she could think of doing, so there in the yard she spent the afternoon hiding her messages in trees and under bricks.

As we leave, to new cities and dreams, to gather our own collections and to pray our own family prayers, I shove one of her notes in my pocket, give my daughter a silent hug and gently guide her towards our van.

Then, with our quiet faces looking out of passenger seat windows and our arms stretched outside like paper wings, we drive away because this is life…and this is not the end.

 

* I wrote this a few years back. My mom has since passed away, but the emotions are still the same. And…my dad never was able to sell the house 🙂 

The Stories Tour Heads to Europe and a Question Answered

The Stories Tour will be making it’s way to Nyhem, Sweden this July, where I’ll be speaking at the Vineyard Nordic Conference. I’m looking forward to heading back to the country I’ve come to love over the years. It’ll be great getting to share some stories with all of you. And, as always, it’ll be great hearing what God is doing in your lives.

By the way, in case your wondering why I call my speaking appearances The Stories Tour, it’s like this. I”m a writer, not a preacher, so the best I can do is share my stories and my heart. It’s been so cool to see these stories resonate with people all over. I guess we’re all on the same journey, a journey full of hopes and heartaches for sure. But it’s a beautiful ride, this walk of faith.  Isn’t it? 🙂

So, there you have it. The official, first hand account of why the The Stories Tour is called, well, The Stories Tour.

Enjoy the rest of the week guys,

Nebraska Spring

A couple of weeks ago, I had a speaking engagement in Omaha, Nebraska. It was cold, really cold, especially for the end of April, and my California self nearly froze to death. But everything was so green, and fresh, and beautiful as well, a perfect metaphor for the weekend.  See, I flew out with no agenda, no big plan… just some words I’d jotted down on my laptop, honest words about hopes and heartaches, about being a writer, a parent, a human. And as I finished sharing my stories, something began to happen, as it often does during these speaking engagements. People began to share their stories with me…and for that I am truly honored, and grateful.

So thanks Wordsowers in Omaha, for listening to my stories, and for sharing yours. You made a cold weekend warm.

So This is My Desk

Welcome to my desk, where countless hours are spent daydreaming dialogue and imagining new worlds for the YA books I write. I’ve numbered things for you so you won’t get lost. Have fun.

1. Daughter Falling Off Swing: This is my all-time, favorite picture of my youngest daughter, Izzy. She’s just fallen off a swing and is clinging onto the seat for dear life. What I love about the picture is that she’s laughing hysterically . . . in the midst of a pretty big mess up. Smiling in the midst of adversity, there’s a lesson in that somewhere.

2. Donald Duck: Once upon a time, I decided I wanted to be a writer. So, with pen, paper, and my dreams in tow, I sent a letter to one of the biggest companies in the world, Disney, and asked them if I could write for them. Totally naive of me, I know. But guess what? A few weeks later, I got the call that changed the trajectory of my writing career forever! Disney gave me my first writing job!

I’ll always be thankful to Disney for giving a young, unknown writer a shot because having that name on my writing credits really helped me move forward in the industry. So Donald and Mickey will always have a place on my desk.

3. Books: Of course, books, books, and books. Among them are: Wonder, one of my favorite middle-grade books ever. I’m Nobody, my latest YA novel and personal favorite. And Izzy’s Popstar Plan , the first novel I ever wrote.

4. Atomic Monkey: He’s sound-activated and gets angry sometimes. I don’t know why he’s here, but I’m scared to tell him to leave.

5. Idea Book: Ideas for stories come to me all the time, at the grocery store, in the car . . . and in the middle of the night. Before my wife bought me this idea book, I’d find myself racing downstairs at three in the morning searching for a scrap of paper to write some random idea down. But now all I have to do is reach for this book, jot down a sentence or two, and fall back asleep.

6. Manuscript: My latest project is a YA novel with a working title of Sketched. I’m in the editing stage right now, and you’re looking at some sample chapters. I’m reeeeeally excited about this one, but I can’t say much about it yet. More news to come!

7. Sticky Note From My Wife: I was once on a plane that raced down a New York runway but never took off (lucky for us the plane had good brakes and some leftover runway). It freaked me out and had me terrified of flying for a while. But I still flew anyway. Well, a couple of years ago, I had to fly to Munich, Germany, an-eleven hour flight from LA. My wife dropped me off at the airport, gave me a kiss, and I was off. What I didn’t know is that she had hidden pink sticky notes—everywhere—and all through the flight I kept finding them. They were in my laptop when I opened it, in my headphones case, in my backpack. There were notes with Bible verses on them telling me to trust in God and notes that said she loved me. I guess perfect love really does “cast out fear” because the notes worked, and I haven’t been scared of flying since. The one I kept says: I love you to pieces! Fear not.

8. Monster on the Wing: While my wife was trying to help me overcome my fear of flying with her notes, my kids were only making it worse. The monster’s a gift they gave me on one of my birthdays. It’s from a 1960s Twilight Zone episode called “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.” In it, this Sasquatch-like creature attempts to rip apart an airliner’s wing mid-flight. Thanks a lot guys.

9. Laptop With Hypnotist: The hypnotist guy on the computer screen wants to hypnotize you into buying Fifteen Seconds of Normal. If only it were that easy (ha ha). Unfortunately, it’s not; so I used to get up at five, head over to this laptop, and begin posting, tweeting, Facebooking, sometimes answering interview questions, and making sure the entire world knows about my latest books. Marketing is one of the hardest things about being a writer, but it’s crucial.

Later on in the day, I can focus on what really matters, which is writing. As I mentioned already, I write for the YA (teen) and middle-grade markets. The market has been getting kind of dark as of late, so I work hard at this desk trying to create words that are real, relevant, and full of light. Because what’s the use of writing if it doesn’t mean anything, right?

The Reviews Are In

It’s always a relief when the reviews come in…and they’re good!  Thanks to everyone for reading. I really appreciate you finding some value on these pages. And if you haven’t picked up a copy yet, click on the picture to learn more.

Peace,

Alex

Australia 2017


So excited to be heading to the Edmund Rice Conference Centre in Sydney Australia in the coming months. Looking forward to meeting all those Australian readers, artists, and writers.  More details to come as the date nears, so stay posted.  See you soon!

More Stories Tour Dates Coming Up

It’s time to start packing my bags for 2017’s Story Tour. This year I’ll be heading to some new cities as well as revisiting some old favorites. This year’s theme is “New Voices,” and I have some awesome stories to share. So if you’re in the area, stop by and say hi. Here’s a first look (more dates and details on the way):

April 2017 – Orange County Christian Writers Conference, Anaheim Convention Center, Anaheim California (Across the street from Disneyland)

April 2017 – Wordsowers Conference Lifespring Church, Omaha, Nebraska (sponsored by 100.7 The Fish FM)

February 2018 – Northwest Christian Writers, Eastside Foursquare Church, Seattle, Washington (7:00 PM)

…And Coming Soon Sydney, Australia.