The Palladia series began with a small novella—which grew into a standalone book—which eventually got joined to another standalone book that had been written separately—which is now developing yet another book after it. This new book, like everything else about Palladia, is taking a direction I hadn’t foreseen and hadn’t particularly wanted it to have at first.
I posted a while back on possible ideas for this story, which included a fun, rather juvenile-feeling sort of romp in the outer-space colony of Alphea. And, as happened for what feels like the thousandth time, the story moved itself forward in a quite different direction. Towards the hidden past of the EC instead. There’s a character called Meldono who is mentioned briefly in Invaders as the “founder of the EC,” at a time that appears to be about a hundred years from now and two hundred years in the past from the time of Invaders. Nothing else is mentioned about this man except that he had been an Invader who took the side of the EC and Katia looks at a statue of him.
City of the Invaders was never really my personal favorite of my books, nor was Consuela. I enjoy working on every story at the time of writing, but like all authors it’s hard not to feel particularly fond of some for whatever reason—personal emotions, association with a family event or a special location, a feeling of achievement in showing a character or social issue, etc. As I mentioned last month about Victoria’s King Felipe, he’s a little bit a favorite character of mine. I’ve never felt that way about any of the characters in these two books. In fact, I wrote Consuela as a filler and then dismissed it as a dud. It looks a bit different now when compared to its original, silly first draft even though the story components weren’t changed very much. But the series gradually, slowly develops more on its own arc than in line with my feelings about it. It's a little bit humbling, actually.
When I draft new ideas, working on another aspect of the Palladia world is never a priority for me. It just keeps occurring to me. And the EC’s origins were not a concept that I thought of as having any mystery to them. They were just a plot device to get these kids to be in a stalemate with a majority group—so the kids have to be in a minority group, right? But once the idea appeared of Meldono possibly coming back to life and when alive he’s not much like the EC legends said he was, the third book’s brainstorming started to change. A lot. I guess sometimes you can write a story without knowing what it’s about at first—and then, more and more, you find out.
And there will be more updates.
I'm pretty experienced at using a computer, websites, and the internet. So much of my book marketing, my social life, and my writing itself (using things like Microsoft Word) is constructed around these channels. But that doesn't mean there aren't times when computers think they own me and not the other way around. A few weeks ago I was going through all the form fields of a book promotion website as I filled in data for the site to host one of my books as a listing, with a link to a freebie. But my computer insisted on downloading a massive, mandatory update while I just sat staring at it. Anyone who has used the internet or a laptop much knows how this feels.
Anyway, when the computer was working again, I lost the data in the website’s form several times when I accidentally pressed something. It cleared back to the original page I’d started from, leaving me having to start over. After a little while of this—I know it probably sounds funny, but it's stressful at the time—I did things in extremely small stages. First the book’s name. Make sure I select my author profile from a list because it won’t select automatically. Make sure the keyboard isn’t adding extra, irrelevant letters to the book’s name or to my name. Copy and paste the link to the free files, then go BACK into it and upload a cover and a link to what to read next if you finish my download . . . you get the idea.
And then I was finally able to use a little feature on this site. It has an engine for adding common tropes (cliché plot elements that often appear in fiction) and story settings to help describe your book. Now this was so massively helpful that I was glad I did all that other stuff before. There was a drop-down list of possible terms and it wasn’t just fun to scroll through and see common story devices: “Oh, I’ve certainly seen that one!” It helped me click on a few of my own. I saved all of the filters that I selected to share with you. This covers a LOT of the topics that appear in my books, even if the trope appears in only one book.
Chosen One; Coming of Age; Different Worlds Romance; Dystopian; Estranged Families; Fairy Tale Retelling; Family Drama; Futuristic Tech; Interstellar Travel; Monarchy; Second Chances
Action Girl; Anti-Hero; Amateur Sleuth; Damsel in Distress; Celebrity/Musicians; Magical/Enchanted People; Outsider MC; Pastor/Minister/Church Elder; Royalty
17th Century; 19th Century; 20th Century; 21st Century; Ancient; Contemporary; High School; Historical; Rural; Space; United States; Europe
And there will be more updates.
Bellevere House is a reworking of a classic novel (Mansfield Park) and the source material has a sizable influence on what plots and characters appear in the book. The original book is a soap opera in which the characters run a pretty big gamut of situations. Like all Jane Austen's novels, knotted family situations and complex romantic character development are given free rein to grow, and Mansfield Park is by nature a complicated type of story. Austen's fearlessness encouraged me to examine situations I hadn't written about before and took me out of my usual storytelling to broaden my writing.
After I worked with them, these Central Five Characters became a little bit mine as well as Austen’s. But you can definitely still recognize that they were once hers.
Uncle Warren is the head of the Haverton family. He is unusually wealthy for the Depression era and is sometimes a threatening figure to others, since he is rather self-centered and motivated by what he feels is a “bigger picture” instead of individual feelings. While far from the world's best dad, he does genuinely try to be involved with his children's lives—like Sir Thomas, who is an imperfect but often misunderstood Austen father.
Aunt Cora is the middle-aged sister of Uncle Warren’s wife. She lives with the Haverton family and spends all her time doing—well, basically nothing. In the past, she was a devious and active woman who got situated around her rich relatives. She was also very much full of herself and now she doesn't quite know when to stop getting on people's nerves, which makes her a really funny character.
Horace was inspired by Henry Crawford, one of Austen’s most dashing and frustrating characters. It’s understandable why the talented young Henry has wowed whole generations of fans, but he has real limitations that contribute to his demise. In Bellevere, Horace Carter embraces religion as a path to gain social acceptance after moral transgressions, sharing Henry’s inability to quite understand those he wishes to be near.
Faye is Uncle Warren’s niece. A quiet young woman, she comes from a poor family and while she's not angsty about it, she acknowledges the social reality of her position and gains from being useful to those around her. Otherwise, she has few opinions on the lives of others, simply trying to deal with opportunities or challenges as they present themselves. But you certainly shouldn't make her mad, as her cousin Ed finds out when awkward efforts to flirt with her by being rude backfire.
Jane Watson appears as a thread in all the VJA retellings. She’s a concept of what Austen might have been like had she lived in the 1930s and although she only appears for a couple of scenes in Bellevere, she is very meaningful. The variations on her differ from book to book, but all agree that she is a strong person and keenly observant without being petty. Family, community, and feminism are all important qualities to her and her work as a journalist makes her objective.
And there will be more updates.
Pleasant Fiction in an Age of Noise
I write peaceful stories with happy endings. When I started writing, I wanted to write the kind of books I like to read. I wanted them to be upbeat and friendly books that make you feel like you're being whisked off on an adventure with friends. And there's also a purposefulness in that because many stories already written miss out on a great deal of what people experience every day.
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Bellevere House has been featured on Ezvid Wiki video "10 Wonderfully Inventive Retellings That Interpret Classic Stories in a New Way." Click to see the video.